Sometimes you need to Color

As many of you know I’ve enjoyed arty pursuits most of my life. According to my parents I used to regularly decorate the walls of our early homes with whatever drawing instruments I could find to hand. That grew into my parents defense of presenting me with gifts of drawing pads and colorful implements for most gift-giving occasions throughout my childhood.

Sometimes though it is nice to just color pretty pictures that someone else has drawn, and this new trend of adult coloring books has been embraced even by creative types like myself. It is a restful quiet way to unwind from a busy day of crochet design and chasing around with my family.

In my Mail box

This week I celebrated the arrival in my mail box of a new coloring book from the wonderful imaginings and pen of Franklin Habit titled, “I Dream of Yarn”. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon, and had been stalking my mailbox all week in anticipation of it’s arrival.

I’ve enjoyed Franklin’s writing and humorous illustrations related to yarn crafts for sometime. So when I saw the announcement of this up-coming book I knew I needed to have a copy.

Franklin doesn’t disappoint in this coloring book. The drawings are clever and funny. I’ve been looking thru it with delight and trying to decide which I will color first. Picking a favorite is going to be hard. Currently it is a toss-up between the page of Escher like kitties playing with yarn or the lovely haughty goddess of crochet. There are hedgehogs, sweater wearing sheep, and a multitude of yarn in balls and skeins thru-out.

Ready to Color

This book is a great gift for any yarn loving crafter, whether they are devotees to the art of 2 sticks or one hook. You might want to get one for yourself as well. Now I’m off to do some coloring on this lovely Memorial Day weekend.

Here comes Summer!

I know for lots of folks the start of summer is Memorial Day weekend. Since that is this coming weekend we are nearly there. For my family though, the start of summer is when school ends and this Thursday is the last day of school for my 2 monsters. They are counting down.

Thing 1 hiking 2

My oldest and I are already planning what hikes we are going to do over the summer. We have a plan of starting out with some short local hikes and building up to longer and higher altitude ones later in the season. He has always been my hiking buddy, even when he was small. The photo above was my improvised backpack for him to carry his supplies on a hike.

Mr Sparkle Yarnit

Of course with all that hiking you might think I’ll be taking a break from crocheting. Not the case at all, I’ll be taking projects with me on the hikes and I’ll be keeping my yarn neat and safe in my awesome “Yarnit”. I love this clever little yarn carrier, and it is perfect with it’s nifty strap for taking on hikes or car trips this summer.

Yarnit

I actually own 2 Yarnits. One that I purchased at the TNNA Winter Show in 2015. It was a new product at that show and I was really excited about it. The only issue I had with it was that the closure was a bit loose and the 2 halves would come apart when I was wearing it with the shoulder strap

Cherry Yarnit 2

Fortunately the lovely Kate Sullivan, creator of the Yarnit, had come up with a solution. This nifty little rubber plug fits in one of the ports along the closing seam and keeps it all together.  All Yarnits come with this feature now.

I purchased my second Yarnit at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe. Gail had gotten in some of the “Mr. Sparkle” Yarnits, so I needed one (yes, I needed one). I’ve got projects in both of my Yarnits and love how easily the ball of yarn can move inside the globe. No more tug of war with my yarn when I am rocking along on a project.

Now Kate is developing a larger version of the Yarnit for those bigger skeins of yarn, or multi-color projects. She has a KickStarter fund-raiser going on right now to get it in production. Click here to find out more about the “Big Sully” and the awesome funding rewards.

I hope everyone has a good start to their summer.

Little Flower Video

This video has taken me more time to create than I had originally expected.  I shot the animation while on my visit to Jan’s. Took me all of Thursday afternoon and into the evening to get a few seconds of animation shot. I hope you enjoy it.

3 flowers_000001

Watch the video on my YouTubed Channel by clicking here.

Meanwhile I’ve been spending a lot of time this week proofing the patterns for my book that is coming out this Fall from Annies Publishing. Can hardly wait to show you more about that project.

Spring Fever

This has been a really weird spring weather-wise.  Snow in the spring on my mountain isn’t that unusual, and heavy snow amounts even. But usually it is warmer. I’m beginning to feel like a yo-yo going back and forth with nearly summer temperatures and then returning to freezing winter the following day.

It might be that I’m getting older, but this past winter was really challenging for me in the health area. I’ve had persistant colds, stomach flu and just over-all sinus unpleasantness. Things got really interesting 2 weeks ago right before I left on my trip to visit Jan.

I have ridiculously sensitive skin and often deal with hives on my face and shoulders. A common trigger for these is accidentally ingesting gluten. Gluten is used in more foods that you would initially realize, of particular note are candies and chocolates.

I had consumed too many Easter chocolates after Spring break and at the end of April I had a bout of hives on the right-side of my face. Fortunately it cleared up after a week. Then the Wednesday before I left for Jan’s I started getting another break-out. But this time it was more severe.

My first Saturday at Jan’s I was a mess with it. Itchy and very uncomfortable. That patch finally began to heal up and a new patch appeared on my forehead and along the left-side of my face. Nearly my whole face looked swollen and red, not attractive and not comfortable either. The Sunday before I was to fly back home to Colorado more hives began to appear on my shoulders.

Early in my visit with Jan I began to suspect that I was experiencing Shingles.  There wasn’t much I could do while in New Jersey so I spent my first full day back home on the phone getting a doctor’s appointment. After looking at the newest crop of sores on me the doctor told me this wasn’t Shingles. Unfortunately it appears to be a bit of a mystery as to what it is. I’m not showing any of the symptoms associated with the usual culprits.

My doctor prescribed a short course of steroids and recommended taking over-the-counter antihistamines to help with the itch. I’m also sticking with my routine of cold compresses on the affected areas and being hyper-vigilant about what I eat. Fingers crossed that I’ll be all healed up in a week or so.

Meanwhile this has really cut into my crochet and design schedule.  Not to mention it was the reason I didn’t have any photos of me from my recent trip, I didn’t want to scare all my loyal readers.

I’ll leave you today with some more photos from my Longwood Garden trip.

LG Dragon railing

The massive conservatory there is filled with beautiful flowers and everywhere I looked was something to intrigue the eye. I really loved the “childrens” area that had whimsical ironwork thru-out. This dragon railing looked almost alive.

LG Birds Fountain

And this little bird fountain was very endearing.

LG Lace Hydrangea

Jan’s sister loves the Lace Hydrangeas, and I was really pleased with this photo of them.

LG Orchids 1LG Orchids 3

But where I really went crazy was the section filled with Orchids. So many colors and shapes, loads of inspiration for crochet motifs in the future.

LG Orchids 2

 

Pretty Pretty Flowers

Having way too much fun on my trip still, so the blog is getting a bit neglected. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week Jan and I drove down to the Philadelphia area to stay a couple nights with her sister and brother-in-law. The plan was to visit Winterthur and Longwood Gardens the 2 days we were down there.

Beautiful White Azalea bloom patterned with bright pink.
Beautiful White Azalea bloom patterned with bright pink from the Winterthur Gardens.

According to the weather dudes those were supposed to be our best days for outdoor outings. Unfortunately the weather dudes screwed up. Tuesday morning driving down it was spitting rain at us most of the way. Jan’s sister suggested when we got there that we do Winterthur that day, since lots of it was indoors touring the house.

Winterthur was quite lovely. A beautiful big house full of collections surrounded by a wonderful park-like estate. When we arrived at the visitor’s center we rode in the “Garden Tram” to the house and had a informative short tour of the garden with a very nice guide.

WT Azaleas

Jan loves Azaleas and our timing for this visit was perfect as they were at their peak. It did continue to rain, mostly it was only spitting and a bit gray. We still enjoyed walking around the gardens near the house and touring the collections in the house.

Steps down from the house into the garden.
Steps down from the house into the garden.

 

Walking down the path into the reflecting pool garden.
Walking down the path into the reflecting pool garden.

 

The Reflecting Pool Seahorse decoration.
The Reflecting Pool Seahorse decoration.

 

Back of the house from the reflecting pool.
Back of the house from the reflecting pool.

Most of the good photographs I got that day were close-ups because the lighting really didn’t lend itself to distant outdoor shots.

White Snoballs and Purple Azaleas. These special azaleas are named "Winterthur".
White Snoballs and Purple Azaleas. These special azaleas are named “Winterthur”.

 

Fluffy white azaleas
Fluffy white azaleas

One tool I was using a lot in my photography this trip was the “guidelines” on my smart phone’s camera view. Most smart phones have this option on them and I’ve found it really handy for helping me line up and compose my shots. My phone is the Samsung Note 2. I found the “guidelines” under the “settings” in the camera view.

Icelandic poppies and Violas around a fountain at Longwood Garden.
Icelandic poppies and Violas around a fountain at Longwood Garden.

The next day dawned a bit gray still, but we headed out to Longwood Gardens. These gardens are incredible and even with the overcast weather that never quite left us, it was an amazing day. I managed to take over 200 photos there, of course some of that was because I take multiple shots with slight differences hoping to get a shot I like.

Banks of flowers along the path in Longwood Garden.
Banks of flowers along the path in Longwood Garden.

Despite most of my visit this week being marked by wet weather I’ve really enjoyed it. It is such a change to be somewhere so lush and green, compared to my mountain top. The tall deciduous trees and rampant green undergrowth is quite different from the evergreen forest that surrounds my home on the mountain.

I’ll share more of my Longwood Garden photos next week. I also hope to have a fun new animation video finished for you by then.

Jan & Andee’s NY Adventures

The last time I came out to visit Jan we had planned to take the train into New York City to go to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio and Kinokuniya Book store. Unfortunately, Jan injured her foot and was in no condition to deal with the amount of walking that would be involved. Instead, the lovely Mary Beth Temple drove us into the city and even got us to our various destinations.

Princeton Jnctn Stn

This trip Jan and I wanted to try out our original plan of taking the train from New Jersey to NYC Penn Station. Jan had done a lot of research and after a brief reccie the day before, we were ready to catch our train to the city Monday morning after most of the commuters had already taken their trains.

Degas Dancers

Our day’s itinerary was focused on going to MoMA to see the Degas exhibit. We would walk from Penn Station to the museum taking a route that passed by a number of iconic NYC sights like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. So today’s post is all about photos.

Madison Sq Garden

I had headed Jan and I in the wrong direction from Penn Station but Jan got me straightened out. Clearly I’m good at geometry not geography. But I did get a decent shot of one of the entrances to Madison Square Garden.

Empire State Building

My first bucket list item was getting a photo of the Empire State Building. I got lots, but this is the one I’ll share with you today.

NY Public Library

Next we were headed north for MoMA, with plans to stop for lunch at a little restaurant that Jan had researched. Next photo stop was the NYC Public Library. I love the Lions on either side of the front steps.

Empire State Building

Then Jan spotted the Chrysler Building so I got a quick photo, that was a “bonus” sight and completely serendipitous.

Degas Dancers

After we purchased our lunch it was off to MoMA. No photo of the entrance cause I was too excited. Here is a photo of one of the Degas paintings. If you are in the area get yourself to MoMA to see this wonderful and inspiring exhibit.

MoMA Gifts for the boys

I got presents for the boys at the gift shop.

My Goodies from MoMA

And goodies for me (of course).

Rockefeller Center

Next we headed back to the train station. Stopping by Rockefeller Center on the way.

NBC Door Pull

Had to get a photo of the NBC Peacock door pull.

Gigantic Button and Needle in Garment District

Loved this gigantic button and needle in the Garment District.

More later.

 

 

Springtime Retreat

I’m a little tardy getting my weekend post up because I ran away from home yesterday. Well, not really. I’m writing you from lovely New Jersey at Jan’s house. Had quite the travel adventures getting here, but eventually it all worked out. Of course that means I arrived at Jan’s door at 2 a.m. today.

As you all know, Jan and I love to get together and crochet, so this is sort of our own little springtime retreat. Jan took time off from work and the 2 of us will be hanging out with hooks and yarn. We are also going to do a few fun day trips, heading into NYC to visit MoMA on Monday and maybe will get to see some of our NY friends while there.

The later part of next week is predicted to be fairly rainy, so we will be kicking back with some crochet projects and enjoying each other’s company. Of my 2 suitcases I checked, one is filled with crochet projects and yarn, so I’m all set.

Springtime Cowl 1

In the meantime, I finished my experiments with the Classic Elite Yarn’s “Santorini” yarn. It did grow up to become a cowl, but I changed the width of my fabric in order to get a bit more length from the 2 balls of yarn I had. I like the look of the finished project and it is a nice size for a little added warmth in transitional weather.

I wore it when traveling yesterday and it was handy at 1 a.m. waiting outdoors for the car service to pick me up. On the plane and in the airport I wore the cowl as an infinity scarf and when I needed warmth I doubled it.

Springtime Cowl 2

For those of you that would like to try out this design I have a pattern for you.

Springtime Cowl

Designed by Andee Graves

Skill – Beginner

Stitches you need to know: Chain (ch), Double Crochet (dc), Single Crochet (sc)

Finished size: Approximately 5” wide x 38” around

Special Stitches

Materials

Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns “Santorini”; 58% Vicose/42% Cotton, 50 grams/125 yards. (sample was made with 2 balls of color #2156)

Hook: I-9/5.5mm

4 stitch markers; 2 in each color

Blunt yarn needle

Gauge:

15 rows and 16 stitches in pattern = 4”

Pattern Notes

First row is worked in the back bump or “bar” of each chain st so that base of row will be Vs like the top of stitches.

When reach the last row fasten off with a long tail, this tail will be used to sew the final row stitches to the base of the first row of stitches.

Springtime cowl finished fabric

Twisting the strip of fabric 180 degrees turns your project into a moebius, if you want you can skip the twist and just sew the ends together to create a ring. Another option is to weave in the ends and make your strip of fabric into a short scarf.

Project used almost all the yarn in the balls, so if you don’t get gauge you may need to shorten your foundation or the number of rows you work.

Instructions

Row 1: Ch 21, working in back bumps, sc in 2nd ch from hook, (dc next st, sc next st) 9 times, dc in last ch. (10 sc, 10 dc)

Row 2: Ch 1, turn, sc in first st, (dc next st, sc next st) 9 times, dc in last st. (10 sc, 10 dc)

Rows 3 – 138: Repeat Row 2. Fasten off with long tail.

Springtime cowl fold n mark2

Lay out strip of fabric horizontally and mark top corners with one color of stitch marker, then mark bottom corners with other color of stitch marker.

Springtime cowl flipped

Fold strip so ends are close together with matching colors of stitch markers, twist top end so that stitch markers are mis-matched.

Springtime Cowl sewing

Using ending tail whip stitch tops of Row 138 stitches to bottom of Row 1.

Weave in all loose tails.

Gently block if desired.

Wishing all of you a very lovely spring weekend and a Happy Mother’s Day.