CGOA in Charleston

As many of you know, I was in Charleston, South Carolina for the CGOA conference earlier this month. I flew out on July 12th for an all day travel day to get there and returned on the 19th. You heard a little bit about my travel adventures last post. I’m mostly recovered from all of that and finally getting the promised post up about my fun adventures at the conference.

Badge and Pin

It was a great time seeing my crochet friends from all over the US and even some from out of the country. I was absolutely crapastic about taking photos at the conference though. I was producing the fashion show for the “CGOA Grand Finale Fashion Show & Banquet”, and it was a wild time getting everything coordinated and organized. More about that later.

Tuesday evening was just about getting unpacked in my hotel room and reunions with all the other folks as we all began to arrive. Some more would be showing up over the next few days, but by 10 p.m. that evening I had seen many of my dear friends. A big group of us had gathered for drinks, deserts and cold food in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant was having technical issues with their stove, so cold options were all that were available.

The laughter with friends was great though. Best way in the world to recover from the travel tiredness. My journey to get to Charleston was actually quite smooth. My dear friend and roomie Jan did not have a good travel day. Her flight coming to Charleston had all sorts of delays, but she eventually made it to the hotel and I grabbed her off the shuttle from the airport to hug her hard.

Wednesday morning was a fairly easy start. Neither Jan or I had any commitments for early morning, so we slept in a bit then grabbed breakfast and saw friends there. A little later I went over to the conference center with Tamara to help Jessie and Lorene with setting up the room for the judging of the Design Competition. Jan decided to venture out exploring around the hotel area.

That afternoon I joined up with Jan and the two of us found a comfy spot in the lovely hotel lobby/atrium beside a gentle waterfall fountain to crochet and talk. Jan was taking a class that evening, so we decided to go out of the hotel for an early dinner.

Bonefish napkin

We walked to the Bonefish Grill just down the road and ended up having a wonderful meal. We even managed to time it well enough that we didn’t get soaked in the early evening rainstorm. The rest of Wednesday evening sort of passed in a blur as more friends got to the hotel and I prepared my supplies for the class I would be taking the next morning.

Re-invented Broomstick Swatch

My first class at the show was with the talented Linda Dean. She kept teasing me about being nervous that I would be one of her students, but I knew that it would be a very instructive class. This was her “Re-Invented Broomstick Lace” class. Linda had some lovely samples to show us the various ways you could work up the techniques with simple changes. I really enjoyed the class and look forward to experimenting more with the things I learnt in it. My little class sample swatch looks a bit sad, but that is no reflection on what Linda was teaching us.

That afternoon I helped with the Hooked for Life booth set-up. Mary Beth was teaching and both of her other helpers had some back injuries, so I volunteered to be the one climbing up and down the step-ladder and lifting boxes of things into place. Once that was all done I stopped by the Registration desk to pick up the garments and forms for the fashion show.

I took them all to the room we had been given to use for setting up for the fashion show.  I dropped off the garments and then I zipped back to my hotel room to clean up for the CGOA Business meeting and Conference Kick-off that evening.

Purple Backpack bag

I’m not sure what the numbers were, but the first 100 or so folks coming to the meeting received an awesome gift bag. The bags themselves were from Crochetville. They were a gorgeous purple lightweight backpack with a zipper pocket. The bags were stuffed full of yarn, crochet tools, crafting booklets and loads of coupons. I think everyone that received one was amazed and pleased with them.

Yarn from 1st Gift Bag

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the brilliant idea to take a photo of all the items in the bag together until much later, after I had emptied the bag and tucked the various goodies into my suitcases. This is a pile of all the yarn that was in my giftbag that evening.

After the meeting it was the market preview. A great crowd of folks happily waited to get into the show floor when the doors opened. Jan and I decided to drop off some of our stuff back at the room first. We missed the opening ceremony, but managed to have plenty of time to look around in the market place.

Market Preview Night purchases

I bought some yarn and 2 tools for winding yarn (one for me, one for Jan) that evening and spotted some other booths to investigate when it wasn’t so crowded later that week. Jan bought me the fun ruler with colorful sheep on it.

Back at the hotel after the marketplace closed, Jan and I said “hi” to all the folks hanging out in the hotel lobby bar area but didn’t hang around long as we both had classes the next morning. In fact we would be taking the same class – Vashti Braha’s “The Starwirbel Way: Shaping & Spiraling Star Stitches”.

This class was sold out and I was very glad that I had been able to get into it. I always enjoy her classes because Vashti  always knows her subject in depth. She had experimented and broke down the intricacies of the Star Stitch. I hunkered down in the class and happily crocheted away on the lesson.

Starwirbel Swatch

Even in a simple worsted yarn my class swatch is rather wonderful. I had the best time experimenting with the increase method Vashti taught us and increasing the hook size I was using to see how the fabric would change. I am going to really enjoy playing with the star stitch more now.

Tamara, Lily and I
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Barker

The rest of Friday after noon I spent working on prepping for the Fashion Show. I got the room arranged to my satisfaction and started laying out the items for the show in some sort of order. Later on I met with Tamara and Lily to strategize for the show and a couple of our models joined us so we could assign and fit garments. Bonnie Barker came and set up her photography equipment so we would have good photos of all the items modeled in the show that Saturday evening.

Yarn from 2nd Gift Bag

Friday evening was the “Excellence in Crochet” ceremony where the Design Competition winners were announced and Doris Chan received her Lifetime achievement award. I helped model some of the garments that won the Design Competition. There was another gift bag at this event, more yarn and fun stuff.

That evening after the awards were all presented Jan and I headed out to dinner with Karen Whooley at Bonefish Grill again. I was so happy with that restaurant and will be taking my family to the nearest one here in Colorado soon. The food was delicious and there were loads of Gluten Free options on their menu.

Saturday Purchases

Saturday I spent was pretty much all day preparing the fashion show. I took a brief break for quick shopping in the marketplace with Jan when she was on her lunch break between classes. I had spotted a couple of items that I had wanted to take a closer look at the evening of the market preview. That allowed me to go right to the booths that had what I wanted. Got some wonderful yarn, buttons, fun little sheep tools, and of course a marvelous set of Tulip hooks from Vashti’s booth.

New Shawl Pins

These 2 shawl pins were both gifts from other friends at the conference. The pink one really made me chuckle as I had almost purchased it for myself when I saw it in the marketplace.

Then it was back to working on getting all the fashion show garments ready for the evening. There was a bit of last-minute frenzy with the wearables that won prizes in the Design Competition, but most were sorted out. The banquet went by in a blur as I hustled to get the last few items ready.  Despite some of the behind the scenes craziness I heard that the fashion show was great. That is the problem with producing it, you don’t actually get to see the final product.

If you weren’t able to come this year, or you were there and would like to see the fashion show again check out the CGOA Facebook Page. The fashion show was “live-streamed” and you can watch the videos. I have watched them and they give you a fairly good idea of the fun that was on stage, though nothing beats being there.

I couldn’t have pulled the fashion show off without all the other folks that helped with the behind the scenes work. Of course one of those was my marvelous right-hand woman, Jan (Janet Bates). There was also Chel Rattray, Jenny King, Nancy Smith, Deb Seda-Testut, and Bonnie Barker.  And our wonderful volunteer models, they did such a good job.

Margarets Book

One thing not shown in the videos is the drawings for Door Prizes. I won a copy of Margaret Hubert’s 2nd edition of “The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet”. Margaret even autographed it for me later that night. In fact the entire conference was made extra special by the generosity of all the wonderful sponsors that contributed door prizes, products for gift bags and funding for conference events and competition prizes.

Some of the other fun stuff from the various goodie bags.
Some of the other fun stuff from the various goodie bags.

After the banquet and fashion show finished everyone hung out in the hotel atrium/bar area not wanting the conference to really be over. Jan and I were staying in Charleston until Tuesday so that we would have a chance to tour around the city. I’ll share more about that in a later post.

Next year the conference is going to be in Chicago, Illinois.  A nice central location and if I understand correctly it was where some of the very first “Chain Links” were held. CGOA is also returning to its roots in that this will be a “Chain Link” show again by being all crochet guild. Not held in tandem with the TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association). It would be great to have a massive turn-out of CGOA members to celebrate with us all.

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Knackered!

As most of you know, I was in Charleston for the Knit & Crochet Show which is the annual conference for the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and for The Knitting Guild of America (TKGA) this past week. I had great plans for getting a post up yesterday evening, but the whims of weather and airline travel did not agree that should happen.

Jan and I had stayed a couple of extra days after the show ended so we had flights out on Tuesday afternoon. I left Charleston at 3:30p with no delays for my flight, which made me hopeful that I wouldn’t have any worries for my flight out of Dallas/Lovefield.

Art along the ceiling in Lovefield Airport
Art along the ceiling in Lovefield Airport

I had a 2 1/2 hour lay-over for my connecting flight in Dallas/Lovefield. I spent it exploring the airport and doing a little crocheting. My flight was set to board at 7:oop and we all headed onto the plane.  But the weather in Denver was doing some nasty stuff and all the flights going there were delayed. My flight that was going to leave at 7:35p ended up pushing away from the gate at 10:10p instead. Between flight time, waiting for a gate in Denver, picking up my luggage and the drive home from the airport it was 1:30a when we got home and 2:30a before I was in bed asleep.

Today was the Causal Crochet meet-up at Longmont Yarn Shoppe, so I dragged myself out of bed at 9a and headed down the mountain an hour later. I was a bit tardy, but I did make it there and was glad I did, had 6 crocheters in the group (not counting me). We all had a great time, though it was a little tough helping with crochet with a tired brain.

Knit Picks Order

I also have this lovely box of goodies from Knit Picks that came while I was away. So many temptations. I’ll have a more significant blog post for you this Saturday with lots of fun photos of the goodies I brought home from Charleston. For now though, I am completely knackered and headed to bed.

Time to Fly

Yesterday was my big travel day to Charleston, South Carolina. Unfortunately there were not any direct flights to Charleston from Denver, so it was a long day of travel including a lay-over in Nashville, Tennessee on the way.

This meant some careful packing to be sure I had crochet projects with me to keep my hands busy during the waiting parts of the trip. I also packed a change of garments and the items needed for today’s activities at the conference. Just in case my luggage got mis-directed during the flight changes.

Fortunately that seemed to work like carrying an umbrella to prevent rain.  I was happy to see both my both my suitcases at the baggage claim in Charleston.

Himself drove me to the Denver airport and half way down the mountain I realized I had forgotten my sun hat. Fortunately I got thru security quickly and found a fabulous hat for $15 at one of the gift shops on the concourse.

Aviary Photo_131129320458309720

Jan and I agreed that this hat practically had a sign on it that says “Andee’s Hat”. Hot Pink and Sparkles?! Too perfect, maybe it was a good thing that I forgot to pack my other sunhat.

I’ve already seen lots of my CGOA friends in the past 24 hours. If  you are here and you see me, be sure to say “Hi”. I may not have another post up until next Wednesday since internet seems to be a bit patchy here.

A Few Quick Projects

I’m down to the last minute stuff for my trip next week to the Knit & Crochet Show a.k.a. Chain Link.

Been a busy week getting the household in shape for me to be gone 7 days. My boys will have it completely destroyed by the time I get back, but I try to have it looking nice before I head out the door.

I’ve gathered up everything I want to take, now I just need to weed it out to what I really need so that my suitcases don’t go over the weight limit.

I’ve finished 2 sweaters that are currently blocking and I’ll be sharing more with you about those after my return from this trip. Meanwhile I wanted to show you 2 fun neck wear pieces that I finished for the trip.

Loopy de Loop Necklace

This is my “Loopy de Loop Necklace” made with just one ball of Classic Elite’s “Santorini” yarn. The variety of colors and textures really looked great in this simple fluffy necklace. I’ll be sharing the pattern for it along with a fun video later this month autumn. The blog post with the pattern is done now! “Loopy de Loop Necklace” (August 27, 2016) and the link to the video on my YouTube Channel is here.

Sweet Song Decorative Scarf

This is my “Sweet Song Decorative Scarf” made with one hank of Lion Brand’s Silk. I bought this yarn and the beads at the Knit & Crochet Show a couple years ago and finally came up with the perfect project for it.  The toughest part of working this project is that is starts off with a very long chain foundation and the regular chain stitches are periodically interspersed with beaded chain stitches.

I’m hoping to have a helpful video up for this project soon, though it could be as late as August. In the meantime here is the written pattern.

Sweet Song Decorative Scarf

design by Andee Graves

Skill Level: Easy

Materials

Yarn: Lion Brand Yarns “LB Collection Silk”, 100% Silk (1.75 oz/50 g; 163 yds/150 meters): 1 hank

Hook: Clover Amour Size 7/4.5mm

Beads: 600 Size E glass beads thread all on yarn before starting project.

Gauge: 27 chains = 5.25″, 9 rows Shells = 3.25″

Special Stitches

Beaded Chain Stitch (BdCh): slide bead up near hook, yo and pull thru loop on hook capturing bead on back bump of chain stitch.

Slanted Shell Stitch (Shl): (dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in indicated place.

Pattern Notes

The first 2 rows are the most difficult, check count carefully while working them.

Instructions

Row 1: Chain 11, *(BdCh, ch 2) 4 times, BdCh, ch 14,* Repeat from * to * 11 times.

Row 2: Turn, dc in 4th chain from hook, sk 3 chs, Shl next ch st, sk 2 chs, dc next ch, *ch 3, (BdCh, ch 2) 4 times, BdCh, ch 3, sk 19 chs, dc next ch st, sk 3 chs, Shl next ch st, sk 2 chs, dc next ch, * Repeat from * to * 11 times.

Row 3 – 11: Ch 3, turn, * dc in next dc, sk 3 dc, Shl next ch-2 sp, sk 1 dc, dc next dc, ** ch 3, (BdCh, ch 2) 4 times, BdCh, ch 3, sk 19 chs,* Repeat from * to * until reach last Shl segment, Repeat from * to ** once.

 

Before the Instructions Begin

As my long-time readers are aware, I put a lot of work into my pattern writing. This has been amplified since I started my independent pattern line “M2H Designs”.

My goal when writing a pattern is to create a document that will be clear to follow. Many of my patterns are fairly easy by design and when I use more complex crochet techniques I try to have explanations or links to tutorials for the crocheter to use.

Some of my designs are published in magazines or at yarn company websites. In those cases I have less control over how the pattern is edited and presented. Even so, with attentive reading of the pattern most crocheters can figure out the pattern. Since I started my designing work by writing patterns for magazines I tend to follow a similar format in my indie line.

One thing to remember, all the information in the pattern is important. Sometimes you might want to skip right to the instructions to get started, but that can make completing the project much more difficult than it needs to be. The information at the beginning of the pattern isn’t there just to take up space. Reading thru it can make a big difference.

Skill Level

This is an estimate for the average crocheters skill. Keep in mind what your crochet experience is. You may have been crocheting for 30 years, but if it is the first time you’ve tackled a garment or item with shaping you might find you need to take it a bit more slowly and you might find aspects of the pattern confusing.

Finished Size

This is handy information especially if you are making a wearable item. The finished size should be the actual size of the garment, not necessarily the size you have made, ie….your bust size is 34 inches, but the finished size bust is 40 inches for the size recommended for your bust measurement. That is because the designer has created a garment that will have 6 inches of positive ease. Knowing the finished size can help you make decisions about the fit and help you estimate how the item will fit the body it is intended for.

In the case of blankets or afghans this size information can also help you decide if the finished project will be as large or small as you want. For example, if you want to make a baby blanket from a larger blanket pattern, you know that you will have to change the length of your starting foundation. Or the reverse, you want to make a larger blanket from a baby blanket pattern. You will need to purchase more yarn at the start of your project to be sure you have enough.

materials gathered

Materials

This is where the Yarn, hook and other tools needed for the project can be found. Under Yarn you will see information on the brand and name of the yarn used, the yardage needed, and the fiber content of the yarn. You will also be given the size of the hook that was used, though you may want to use a different size once you check your gauge.

Also listed in this section will be things like buttons, beads or zippers. It is a good idea to gather all these materials ahead of time.

Gauge

Ah gauge, everyone’s favorite part of yarn crafting. Not really. But it is important if you want your finished project to come out the right size. Being off in your gauge can mean that you will not have the right amount of yarn or that the finished fabric will not drape properly.

Gauge is especially important when you are making a fitted garment like a sweater or skirt. It’s a little less important for items like blankets or wraps, but being off in gauge for those items can still run you into difficulties like yardage or the quality of your finished fabric.

Special Stitches

This is one of the sections most over-looked in a pattern. Lots of times folks assume they know what a listed stitch is, but there isn’t really a standardization of stitches in crochet. Checking this section over gives you a clear definition (and the abbreviation) so you can be certain what the designer means when they use a term like “V-st” in the pattern instructions.

A V-stitch could be 2 double crochet stitches worked in one stitch and separated by 1 chain stitch or 2 chain stitches, could even be 2 single crochet stitches worked in one stitch and separated by 1 chain stitch or 2 chain stitches. Reading the special stitches section beforehand and referring to it while working the pattern will keep you on track.

Pattern Notes

This section is a great place to understand the pattern better before beginning. This could be an overview of how the garment is constructed, ie…Cardigan is worked in 2 sections off top and bottom of a center back foundation row, then joined at under-arm and sleeves worked outward. Remaining fabric is worked around the body opening to create the rest of the cardigan.

Instructions

After reading thru all the previous information and preparing for the start of your project you can now concentrate on working the instructions and completing your project. It’s a good idea to read thru the instructions once before you start crocheting. They may not make complete sense to you, but if you do one read-thru before starting you may find them easier to follow when you start crocheting.

If the pattern is in a book or magazine you own it can help to highlight areas that you think will be tricky for you. If you are making a garment from a pattern that has instructions for more than 1 size, it is a good idea to highlight the instructions for the size you are making.

Highlighter Tape

If the pattern is in a publication you can’t mark up purchase some “highlight” removable tape. I found mine at my local yarn shop and it is very handy. You may be able to find it at your local office supply store or college bookstore.

Hope this all helps you the next time you are tackling a new pattern.

 

 

July is here Again!

It’s July again. We are half way thru the year and I’m a bit in shock that it has gone by so fast.

Fireworks after Game

This weekend is the 4th of July celebrations here in the USA. I’m not sure what my family is going to be doing on the 4th. Our typical celebration includes taking in a game at Coors Field in Denver to watch the Rockies play Baseball and staying for the fireworks show afterward.

This year we didn’t get tickets to the Rockies game, thinking that we would be out of town.  My husband’s maternal grandmother passed away this past winter and the 4th of July was also her birthday. Originally there had been some discussion about having a memorial service for her back in Dayton, Ohio on the 4th.  Those plans didn’t come together though and it was too late to purchase tickets.

Usually when we go to a game I like to have a crochet project with me to keep my hands busy during the slow times. Last year though I took a knitting project.

Beginning of my son's Christmas Scarf.

This was the scarf I was making for my oldest son for Christmas.

2016 Knitting

Funny thing is here we are at the beginning of July and I am knitting again. I’ve been working on knitted squares for a class coming up this Fall. I’ll be telling you more about that soon.

Current Crochet Projects

I’ve got 3 crochet garments that I’m also working on, but I’m not ready to show those to you quite yet. This is just a sneak peek close-up of the fabric. As you can probably tell, I’m having a lot of fun playing with V-sts still.

I hope all my American readers have a fun and safe 4th of July weekend and my readers around the globe have a great relaxing weekend that includes some relaxing play-time with yarn and family.