Chasing Rainbows

I’m still working on getting well from the Whooping Cough. I am past the constant coughing stage, but am currently wearing my ribs strapped because I have managed to cough a couple of ribs out of place. Friday afternoon my chiropractor got me fixed up and told me to wear the strapping until I had a full 48 hours pain free. Good thing the weather has cooled off a bit, this rib support is really warm.

Meanwhile, what is a busy crochet designer supposed to do with herself when she is stuck “resting” all the time? Design something of course. The best bit of my recovery is I feel like crocheting again, for a while there I was just too wiped out to do more than move my pillows around. I still need lots of sleep, but when I am awake I can crochet and watch movies.

I had 2 balls of Lion Brand’s “Shawl in a Ball” that I purchased this summer. I picked out the “Restful Rainbow” colorway because it has so many of my favorite colors in it.  I started a couple of different shawl ideas in it, but finally decided to go with my simple 2 x 2 pattern with increases for a top down wrap.

It’s perfect for crocheting on while watching movies and if I fall asleep while working on it, it isn’t confusing to figure out where I am in the row. I’ll be publishing this pattern later this fall here on the blog once I have finished my sample.

Meanwhile some other news. For those of you that are CGOA members you may have seen already, but I am one of the nominees for the CGOA Board of Directors. The voting begins November 1st thru December 26th, so be sure that your membership is current and vote for your top 4 picks from the nominees. I hope you will vote for me as I know I have a lot to bring to the board and CGOA.

If you want to join CGOA there is no time like the present. You can find out everything you need to join at the CGOA website: Crochet.org. When you think Crochet, think CGOA!

Jan & Andee’s Chicago Adventure – Part 1

This summer has been all about traveling and it’s time to share some of the highlights from my trip to Chicago the last week of July. I had a great time, both at the CGOA Chain Link Conference and exploring downtown Chicago with Jan.

The conference was full of wonderful reunions with lots of my crocheting friends. Though once again I barely took any photos with my friends. I had 4 big commitments at the conference: Wednesday I was presenting at Professional Development Day, Friday & Saturday morning I had marvelous classes with Myra Wood, and Saturday evening I produced the Fashion Show for the Banquet. Then there were the evening events: CGOA Business Meeting, Market Preview and the Excellence in Crochet Awards.

My flight got in just after noon on Tuesday at Midway airport, so I needed to get across Chicago almost all the way to O’Hare airport. For those of you wondering, I flew into Midway because I try to always fly with Southwest Air and they don’t fly into O’Hare. I really lucked out though, I contacted AllStar Cab Dispatch and arranged to get a lift with one of their flat rate suburban drivers. My driver was Mike, he was helpful, friendly and we had a great chat driving across Chicago. I got a card from him in case Jan and I needed a cab later during our visit.

Jan and Pam were flying in a little later than me to O’Hare, so we had all decided that we would go out to dinner to PF Changs before the general madness of the conference started the next day. We had hoped to take the hotel shuttle, but the timing didn’t work with our evening, so I told them “I know a guy.”  “How is that possible? You’ve been in Chicago like 5 minutes!”. Was a great laugh and our first call to Mike for a cab ride to and from dinner.

The next day was Professional Development Day and I was presenting in the afternoon. The morning started with presentations from Tamara Kelly of Moogly about social media then Nirmal about managing financial tasks for our business. Nirmal gave away fun little acupressure finger rings that everyone loved.

The afternoon was mini sessions of 6 different topics. 3 topics were presented in the first half of the afternoon and the other 3 were presented in the last half of the afternoon. Each topic was presented 2 times allowing attendees to sit in to 4 topics. My topic was “Super Submissions” and my 2 presentations went well. I enjoyed sitting in on Kathy Lashley’s and Cari Clement’s  presentations after I was finished with mine.

Wild Women of Crochet: (left to right) Amy Shelton, Tammy Hildebrand, Laura Krzak & Donna Hulka

That evening I went out to dinner while Jan went to a class. Laura K lives in the Chicago area, she wasn’t able to come to the conference due to work and family obligations, but she wanted to get some of us together for dinner at her favorite restaurant. We had a lovely dinner and lots of fun laughing and catching up.

The next morning I was up bright and early for my first class with Myra Wood and that afternoon I started working on the Fashion Show.

Most of my free time at the conference was spent zipping around getting things together for the Fashion Show. I had a small room with 2 tables and garment racks to organize the fashion show entries. That room would also be our changing room during the show. The photo above is what it finally looked like about 1 hour before the banquet was scheduled to start. It was a bit of tight squeeze once we had all the models in there, but Jan and I made it work.

This year was a bit different from the other fashion shows I have been involved with at the conference. We didn’t have a runway for the models to walk. Instead they were on a small stage with our MC (the lovely Melissa Leapman), then they walked around the banquet room while the next model was on stage. To help the audience know which garment was which I decided they would carry signs with the name of the garment on them.

Initially I was going to hand letter the signs, but fortunately the brilliant Pia Thadani stepped in and typed the signs for me on the computer and we were able to have them printed at the registration desk. Pia and I even had a moment to clown around together afterward.

Despite all the running around I managed to get some shopping in. Especially the evening of the Market Preview. There were some familiar faces and some reunions with vendors I hadn’t seen in a few years.

My friends at Artisanal Yarns were there with lovely yarns.

I had to adopt a couple hanks of the silk blends with sparkly beads in them. I’ve got a couple of ideas of what these beauties will become.

Remember this photo? This was taken at the Reno Knit & Crochet Show in 2012. The very young Harrison Richards and his amazing Furls hooks.

Well he and his company are all grown up and were there for the Chicago show. He had a beautiful booth set-up and lots of wonderful new products. His was one of the busiest booths the evening of the preview, so I had to grab a moment Friday afternoon to take some photos.

My magpie eye of course went right to the shiny colorful CandyShop hooks and accessories.

The Odyssey hooks, accessories and lovely wooden yarn bowls were enticing as well.

Harrison was taking pre-orders for his new colors of the Odyssey hooks. Bet you can’t guess which one I ordered. Nope, not the pink, though it was a near thing.

Harrison insisted that we needed a photo together. I joked that I felt like I was his proud mom. So happy to see him doing so well.

I stopped in for a little bit of shopping Friday and Saturday. Jan kept finding things in the market, then tempting me to add to my collection. We are really rather dangerous together.

I had to get these crochet hooks, I don’t know that I’ll crochet with them, but the handles and colors were so pretty. I think they are going to look gorgeous on the wall in my design office. Jan bought the ones with black handles, but the pretty colors were calling my name.

I also purchased a bit more yarn. The Jenny King yarn is a little hard to find here in the US and it was a beautiful purple color.

Most of the yarn and goodies I brought home from the show were from the amazing goodie bags and give-a-ways at the various evening events. The night of the Excellence in Crochet Awards we were each given a huge bag full of all kinds of wonderful stuff. Yup, that is a wooden yarn bowl in there.

These were the yarns in my Crochetville bag that evening (sorry for the blurry photo). After the event was over there was lots of trading going on as everyone’s bag had different things in them. Jan and I received almost the same items, just different colors.

The evening of the business meeting each chair had a package of yarn. I received the bag of Bernat’s Mega in the gold color and a woman sitting in front of me gave me her bag of oyster colored.

The night of the banquet these were the goodies on my chair. I was very excited about the Bernat Maker Home Dec yarn because it was a color that would go very nicely with the 2 balls I had received the night of the Excellence in Crochet event.

A big Thank You to all the sponsors that donated so many wonderful products to the conference events. There were so many wonderful things that I’m still sorting thru everything. I had quite a time trying to fit it all in my suitcases for the flight home. I actually ended up giving some of the yarn to Laura K for her crochet group. They do blankets and other warm projects for charity, so I knew it would be well received and put to use.

The conference ended with the banquet Saturday evening. But Jan and I were not finished with Chicago yet. Jan used to live there and wanted to show me around downtown Chicago. Especially the Art Institute of Chicago. So we were both staying until Tuesday. That meant 2 days to explore downtown Chicago. I’ll tell you all about that in the next installment of Jan & Andee’s Chicago Adventure.

 

 

 

 

Having too much Fun!

Wow! This summer is nearly over for me, the kids’ first day of the new school year is this coming Wednesday. Sigh.

We have had an incredibly full and fun family summer. Both of my kids are at a great age for really active trips.

We just got back from visiting Mesa Verde National Park in Southern Colorado. A truly amazing and magical place.

There was a lot of hiking, climbing and learning going on. Our first tour started with a 32 foot ladder that we had to climb, to get into Balcony House, was just about my undoing.  I was very happy when I reached the top. If I had known what I would have to climb again to get out of Balcony House I might have turned around at the base of the first ladder. Our Park Ranger guide was Michael and he was super informative about the history of the site.

After Balcony House the hike in to tour Cliff Palace seemed easy. It was also easier to get good photos of the actual site.

We were staying in Farmington, New Mexico so we also did a quick visit to the 4 Corners Monument. My youngest wanted a picture of all 4 of us standing in different states. So we decided that a photo of our feet would work well. He had managed to find some mud to step into right before we took the photo. Truly my child, he can find mud in the desert.

The views as we were driving around the 4 corners and Mesa Verde area were just astounding. Everywhere made me want to break out my paint and brushes. The colors of the soil, rocks and greenery were pulling at me the whole time. I did very little crocheting despite having a project available, my eyes were too busy feasting on the scenery.

On our way home we stopped at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, though we weren’t able to stay long as the skies opened up and there was intense rain and hail.

I’ve really been bad about blogging this summer. Partly due to traveling so much, and then needing to recover once I got back home. I’ve also been doing a lot of learning. Sheep, Wire working, Yarn engineering, Video making and even some Crochet classes.

The 2 crochet classes I took this summer were at the CGOA conference in Chicago. Both classes I took were with the lovely and talented Myra Wood. I was so excited to see Myra teaching at the conference this year as she always has a wonderful approach to fascinating aspects of crochet.

I took her “Creative Crochet Lace Shawl” class. I know, you would think I already knew as much as I would ever need to know about crocheting lace shawls, but that isn’t the case. Myra was demonstrating her approach to basically crocheting a free-form but symmetrical shawl.

I’m a swatch it, do the math, then crochet it kind of person. This class really stretched my comfort level and helped me loosen up a bit and experiment with my creative side more. Something I used to do a lot before becoming a designer. It was a great class and I came out feeling really inspired.

The second class I took with Myra was “Tubular Bead Crochet Ropes”.   I’ll be honest, I really thought this would be a super easy class for me, in fact I wondered if I should even take the class. I’m so glad I did.  It turned out to be far more challenging than I had expected and I am excited to play with the techniques further.

The bit of beaded tube you see in the photo took me nearly the entire 3 hours of the class to make. But I now understand the technique fully, something I was in doubt would happen about an hour into the class.

I’ll be sharing more about the CGOA conference and all the adventures Jan and I got up to in the big city of Chicago. I’m going to be doing at least one blog post a week up thru the middle of September, then I’ll be getting back to my regular schedule of twice a week. I might sneak in a few extra if I can find the time.

Meanwhile I hope you are all having a wonderful summer, and for those of my readers that are contending with winter…I hope you are staying warm and cozy.

Getting into the Swing of Things Again

Well, it’s been a bit of a hectic re-entry to life in our “normal” routine. We have had lots of snow and some very cold temperatures since our return, not what one would think of for Spring weather, though fairly typical for our springtime. I had quite a few things scheduled for this week, which would have been fine if I hadn’t had the wild 4 weeks preceding this one. I’m slowly chipping away at the mutant To-Do list though.

One of the best things about coming home from Spring Break was picking up our mail. This nifty little box was waiting for me from my dear friend Bonnie Pierce.

I met Bonnie and her husband Bill at the first ever CGOA conference I went too. She was wearing one of her gorgeous Free Form crochet capes and I practically attacked her to look at it closer. I was completely on my own at that show, but Bonnie and Bill took me under their wing and included me in many of the group events they were involved in.

They even rescued my hook case that I had left laying on the table one afternoon. Bonnie and I chuckle about it every time we get together. But it has been far too long since I last got to spend some in-person time with Bonnie. Fortunately we stay in touch online thru social media and messaging.

Recently Bonnie and I decided we needed to have a piece of each other’s work. These 2 drop-dead gorgeous scrumbles are what Bonnie sent me. I’m so inspired by her work, though a little chagrined at how clunky and chunky my own Free Form efforts look. Bonnie is truly a talent with her Free Form artistry.

She is well known for her bullion stitches. Which she had tried to teach me numerous times with limited success.

This flower with the sparkly embellishment is currently my favorite bit on this scrumble. But every time I look at them I see something that delights me.

When Bonnie and I met in Portland in 2008, one of the things we bonded over was Chocolate. We both have a love of wonderful dark chocolate. She told me about a Portland chocolate company called “Moonstruck” and shared some that she had with her. It is marvelous stuff and whenever I find the brand I purchase a few bars, but it is rather scarce in Colorado.

So it is very fitting that Bonnie included some delicious chocolate in the package too. I’ve got to get my piece finished to send to Bonnie now and will have to hunt down some special Colorado chocolates to include. This might require me attending the Chocolate Festival again, sigh, the sacrifices I make for my friends.

I’ve been busy with working on developing classes since our return from our big trip. This cute little needle-felted sheep is one of them. I’m finding the needle-felting quite addictive, I think the total attention that is required is a great form of meditation. That’s been very good for me as I process everything the last 4 weeks has thrown at me and my family.

I hope you are all having a beautiful springtime. April is looking to be another fast-moving and busy month. I’ll try to keep up with the blog and (fingers crossed) to have some more videos for you very soon.

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.

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.

Pineapples and Charleston

Remember my last post? Yup, I still need a clone.

I’ve been crocheting like a wild woman on some garments that I want to wear at the Knit & Crochet Show.

Pineapples 2

The theme for the CGOA part of the show this year is Pineapples. Which is perfect for me as I adore crocheting pineapples and love the look of them. They are one of those crochet stitch patterns that look really intimidating, but are actually much easier than you would expect.

I don’t think I would start a beginning crocheter off with a project that used them. Then again that depends on how intrepid they are. It took me a long time to tackle pineapples in crochet patterns despite my love of them.

I really found my comfort level with them when I stumbled across stitch charts. Suddenly they made complete sense to me. Since then I have had a great time playing with them and have a couple of designs coming out in the next 6 months that include pineapples.

If you have been thinking about coming to the Knit & Crochet Show in Charleston you only have a few days left to do pre-registration. It closes July 1, 2016, that’s this Friday! If you miss the pre-registration you can still register for the show, you’ll just have to do it in person at the show.

Hope you can join me in Charleston. It’s going to be lots of fun.

Time to Celebrate Crochet Again

Celebrate Crochet Andee Graves/M2H Designs

Can you believe it’s National Crochet Month again? Seems like the last year went by in a blur. We are going to start off our Month of Crochet celebration this March with the Crochet Guild of America.

As many of my readers know, I have been a member of the CGOA since 2008. My membership with CGOA has been a big part of my journey as a crochet designer and teacher. It also has been the way that I have met so many of my wonderful crocheting friends.

This year’s CGOA conference will be in Charleston, South Carolina July 13- 16, 2016. I’ll be going and hope to see lots of you there.

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One of the fun events at the conference will be the unveiling of the entries for the 2016 CGOA Design Competition. The competition is judged at the conference and winners are announced there. It’s lots of fun to see what folks have come up with each year. There will be cash prizes for the different categories as well as for some of the special awards.

The 7 judging categories (plus a bonus category) are:

1.      Fashion: garments (not accessories), including sweaters, tops, jackets, vests, skirts and dresses.

2.      Accessories: including wraps, scarves, cowls, socks, mittens, hats, bags, belts and jewelry.

3.      Home Décor and Afghans: items primarily for the home, including afghans and throws, baby blankets.

4.      Thread Crochet: anything made in crochet thread or fine/lace weight yarn (CYC category #0/Lace); this category may overlap other categories, and includes doilies, garments, baby clothes, accessories.

5.      Artistic Expression: items more artistic in nature, including free-form and mixed media pieces, wall hangings, wearable art.

6.      Young Designer: anything designed with yarn and/or crochet thread by members 25 years old and younger. Designer may turn 26 in the year of the competition. As long as sometime during the year 2015 he or she was 25.

7.      First Time Entrant/Non-Professional: anything designed with yarn and/or crochet thread by someone who has never entered the design competition before and is not a crochet professional. Non-professionals have not had any of their crochet designs published in print or PDF format.

Bonus Category – Pineapples: This year’s conference theme is pineapples! If your entry contains pineapples there will be a box you can check on the entry form to indicate this so your entry can also be judged in this category as well.

Remember, to be eligible to enter the Design Competition you need to be a current member of CGOA. Deadline for entries to be submitted is June 15, 2016.

You can learn more about the rules and about CGOA by visiting the website at Crochet.org or click on the Design Competition image above to go directly to the announcement page (you can see this page even if you aren’t currently a CGOA member).

How I Became a Designer

When I spend time with other yarn enthusiasts I am often asked how I became a professional crochet designer.

The beginning of my journey as a designer was learning to crochet nearly 44 years ago. I loved to crochet, but never followed a pattern (which drove my mom nuts). I would just play with the yarn and stitches until an idea popped in my head for how to use what I was doing to make something I wanted. Whether that was a toy, a piece of jewelry or a garment.

By the time I was in junior high and on thru high school I was more interested in sewing, so I rarely crocheted. Instead I increased my knowledge of sewing and tailoring garments. My mother gave me my own sewing machine at age 15 and it became my favorite toy. I would sketch out ideas for garments and then modify existing sewing patterns to create the actual garments. I still sew occasionally, but as my life has become busier with motherhood and working as a crochet designer and teacher, my time for sewing has decreased.

I returned to crocheting about 15 years ago when I tripped over my dog and severely sprained my ankle. To avoid going out of my mind with boredom, while stuck on the sofa with my foot elevated, I started playing with yarn and hook again. I wasn’t great at reading patterns, but I could look at photos of garments or other crochet projects and get the gist of the pattern. After a month I was up and about again, but I was hooked on crocheting again.

I made lots of afghans for my house as well as for many members of my extended family. I made a blanket for our King Size Bed, which was a massive undertaking.  There were also lots of scarves. Finally I decided to try tackling some shaping and made a hat, I kept messing with the stitches and working in the round until I had a hat I liked.  In all my experiments I would write down what I did, but it wasn’t in the conventional sense of a pattern.

One day at the grocery store I discovered some crochet magazines on the newsstand beside the check-0ut. Someone else must have been looking at them and decided not to purchase them. Instead they went home with me.  One of those magazines was “Crochet Today” which had stitch diagrams accompanying the patterns.

I had always found text instructions for crochet patterns to be rather tricky to follow, but the stitch diagrams made immediate sense to me. By using the stitch diagram I could finally figure out the text instructions. Suddenly it was all coming together for me.

I began to write down my creations in more conventional crochet pattern styles. And I would draw up my design notes in rough hand drawn stitch diagrams.  These notes were not organized in any real way and often were on odds and ends of scrap paper tucked into a project bag with the yarn and hook.

In the back of my mind was the thought that someone had to be writing these patterns in the crochet magazines.  I thought it would be great to be one of the people doing that.  Then I discovered Ravelry.com, and joined the site in April 2008.

Jennys-Books
Jenny’s Books

Because of Ravelry I discovered all sorts of wonderful crochet artists and designers and became very interested in Free Form Crochet. One of the artists that I met on Raverly was Jenny Dowde from Australia. I purchased her books on Free Form Crochet and when I heard she was going to be teaching in the United States that Autumn I was very excited.

It turned out that one of the places she would be teaching was the Fall Knit & Crochet Show in Portland, Oregon. That was a short plane ride from Denver, so I decided I would go take classes with her there. That show really did change my life.

When I signed up for Jenny’s classes I discovered the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and joined it in order to get the discounts for the class fees, little knowing that a whole new world was about to open up for me.  I was excited to go to the show even though I was traveling alone for the first time in 10 years. I was excited to meet other Ravelers and had even made arrangements to meet one of my Ravelry friends there.

In my first class with Jenny, I met Pam Shore and Janet Bates, both who have become two of my very dearest crochet friends. We kept bumping into each other around the show. They were very bad influences when perusing yarn and/or hooks on the market floor. I had such a wonderful and inspiring time at the show, it really marked the end of me “crocheting alone”.

Pam recommended that I join the live chat room during Mary Beth Temple’s “Getting Loopy” podcast on Monday evenings. So I did and became one of the “Loopy Groupies” plugging in my headphones and typing away for 45 minutes each show.  Then Mary Beth offered a class thru Crochetville called “Designing for Print Publishing”.

I decided to take the class, even though I wasn’t 100% sure how to even write a pattern yet. The class was about how to put together a proposal and present it to potential markets. As part of the class we had to create a proposal and send it out to a potential market.

I sent my proposal to “Crochet! Magazine” where Carol Alexander was the editor. I was very excited when I got an email from her saying that they weren’t able to use it in the issue that I had submitted it for, but wanted to hold it for consideration for their next issue. I contacted Mary Beth to see if this was the good news I thought it was. She said it was. A couple of months later I had sold my first design to Carol.

Lace With A Twist Wrap - Photo courtesy of Annie's Publishing
Lace With A Twist Wrap – Photo courtesy of Annie’s Publishing

That was how my “Lace with a Twist Wrap” came to be in the March 2010 issue of Crochet! Magazine. Of course there were other adventures with this as it was my first time writing a pattern.  I think it was assumed by the Technical Editor, since I was a “new” designer, that I wouldn’t write the pattern correctly. Unfortunately the corrections that were made to the pattern actually introduced errors to it. Fortunately, many folks have successfully made this wrap and it spawned one of my most popular posts on my blog: “The Twists and Turns of a Mobius

I had to turn in the sample and pattern in July of 2009 for that design, so as soon as it was out of the way Mary Beth was telling me not to sit on my laurels. She advised that I keep working on proposals for other designs and encouraged me to attend the Knit & Crochet Show that August in Buffalo, New York.  I put together some ideas in a notebook and despite some nervousness went to the Meet & Greet at the show, where designers can meet magazine editors and others from the publishing business.

Shari White, Susan Lowman, Me, Joyce Bragg Waiting for Editors at Meet & Greet
Shari White, Susan Lowman, Me, Joyce Bragg
Waiting for Editors at Meet & Greet

While waiting in line I met a number of my colleagues who have become good friends over the years since. This show was also the first time that Mary Beth Temple and I got to meet face to face. I had only met her online before then.

Crochet Lace Fingerless Mitts - Photo courtesy Coats & Clark
Crochet Lace Fingerless Mitts – Photo courtesy Coats & Clark

I got leads on selling 3 different designs at that event, and made the contacts that led to many other publication opportunities later on. My first ever published design was sold to Bobbie Matela of Coats at the Meet & Greet. My “Crochet Lace Fingerless Mitts” this pattern came out in October 2009.

Cover of "Crochet World"
Cover of “Crochet World”

And Michele Maks (who was with Crochet World at the time) was very interested in my “Field the Spring Lamb” who went on to be on the cover of the April 2011 Issue.

I felt pretty confident at the end of that show that I could call myself a professional designer. Since then I have had over 100 designs published in magazines, Ezines, yarn company websites and my own pattern line: M2H Designs available thru my Ravelry shop or on this blog.

First Bear is Finished

Finished Bear

Today was our local CGOA Chapter meeting and I brought in my nearly finished bear. I facilitate the meetings, so I wanted to demonstrate how I sew my bears together. Kathy and Bear I had filled the arms and legs and head with stuffing and brought stuffing for the body. By the end of the meeting I had finished the bear and given him to my friend Kathy that is organizing this effort. Margie and her bears My friend Margie wins the prize for the most bears completed. She brought in all these bears. She said she cheated a little as these were bears she had made on a knitting loom and were just waiting to be finished with stuffing and bows. Kathy and I both said, they still count and will be very appreciated. Bear and Malabrigo Before my little bear left the shop, he had a cuddle with some wonderful Malabrigo. I am feeling very inspired with ideas about how I want to design my bear. Hopefully I will have a prototype worked up by Christmas time.