Taking Care of Yourself

My kids are back in school and that means Summer is over for me.  As I’ve shared a bit already, this Summer was a super full one for me, 2 big family trips and 2 work trips. I’m now back into the swing of design work deadlines and preparing for teaching at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair and at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe this Fall.

There is also the awareness that I need to get to work on making my gifts for the Christmas season (only a wee bit over 18 weeks to go) and the slew of birthdays coming up over the next 4 months. That means lots of crafting hours. I’m sure I’m not alone in the crafting crunch as the weather cools off for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

I have a “survival” guide that I follow to be sure that all that crafting doesn’t lead to me being in pain. Today I want to share with you my top 5 tips to surviving the crafting crunch.

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Stay well hydrated
  3. Take regular breaks
  4. Find some stretches that work for you
  5. Set realistic goals

Get Enough Sleep

I know, who has time for sleep?  I’m as guilty as the next person of cutting into my sleep hours to get more stuff done. But sleep is a major component to preventing injury. Getting enough sleep allows your body to mend and restore itself, as well as increasing the efficiency of your brain. You are much more likely to make mistakes in a project when you are too tired. It’s better to set aside the crafting and head to bed earlier, you will be able to work with greater clarity and speed after a good night’s sleep.

How much sleep do you need? That really depends, the typical recommendation is 8 hours, but some people need a little more and some a little less. Most doctors advise 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night. I know for me personally I seem to do best with 7 1/2 hours.

Stay well Hydrated

Our bodies are mostly water and we lose a lot of it each day thru respiration, elimination and perspiration. Drinking water regularly thru-out the day is one of the best things you can do for your health. Even mild dehydration can make us more prone to injury as well as causing mental fatigue. The classic recommendation is 12 – eight ounce glasses (96 ounces) of water thru-out the day. That doesn’t take into account different sizes of people and different activity levels.

My favorite formula for figuring out the minimum amount of water to drink thru out the day uses your weight. Take your weight in pounds and halve that number to get the amount of ounces of water you should be consuming each day.  Example – if you weigh 150 pounds you need to drink at least 75 ounces of water daily. If you are having a very active day, or you live in a hot climate, you may want to increase the amount of water you drink.

I say “water”, but there are many other drinks you can have that count toward your fluid intake.  Except caffeinated beverages. They actually act as a diuretic and remove water from your body thru elimination. So enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning, but remember to drink an extra glass of water to counteract the caffeine.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking a break doesn’t mean you have to stand on your head doing Yoga for 15 minutes, though that would be awesome if you want to do that. Taking a break means doing something else for a bit. I often have breaks built into my day by normal household maintenance chores.

Sometimes it is moving the laundry to the dryer, making myself some lunch, or taking the dog for a walk.  Just doing something different that gets me up and moving for a little bit at least every 30 minutes. It’s about the only way my house gets tidied, 10 minutes of cleaning chores every half hour.

The typical recommendation is to take a break every 20 minutes. If you are having some pain in your hands/neck/back from crafting that is a good strategy. More frequent breaks keep your body from seizing on a particular movement or posture as the only muscle setting. If you are drinking enough water you will be needing a “bio-break” every 2 hours or so, and that counts as well.

Find some Stretches that work for You

We all have a spot that hurts the worse after a day of intense crafting, so it is important to figure out how to stretch or strengthen your “spot”. I tend to feel it in my hands and neck when I have over done the crafting time. When I worked as a massage therapist I had a series of stretches I used to keep my hands working for me.

These are my favorite hand stretches. I do them at least 3 times during my work day and once more before I go to sleep. You can read a bit more about these hand stretches in my blog post: Keeping your Hands Happy.

Set Realistic Goals

I always seem to be hit with inspiration for the perfect massive gift about 2 weeks before the gift giving occasion. This rarely works out well and can lead to crazy nights of crocheting with only a few hours of sleep (Yup, that is how I know the importance of sleep).  I have finally learnt to be kinder to myself and have set more realistic goals for my gift making. If you want to do a large project for your gift you need to give yourself enough time to get it finished.

One of the things I have figured out after too many insane crochet deadlines is that it will usually take you about twice as long to finish a project than you think it will. Partially this is due to the fact that there is more to finishing a project than just the crochet. There is also all the weaving in of ends and blocking/washing the item and so on.

If you are looking at a couple of weeks before a gift is due to be presented, then look to smaller projects. The following are some links to patterns that make great gifts and are quick to crochet.

Snowflakes are one of my first choices for a fast gift. They are easy to ship and make great embellishments. You can work them in thread and stiffen them or attach the points to a larger ring for a beautiful addition to any holiday décor. I’ve also worked them in yarn and used them to embellish commercially made hats, scarves or gloves for a personalized gift.

I have 3 free snowflake patterns here on the blog.

Frozen Star Snowflake – This was last year’s snowflake pattern and it is a super quick one to work up with only 3 rounds to work up. This one is really ideal to work in a thicker yarn to attach to another project or a commercially made item as an embellishment.

Lacy Snowflakes – This is my favorite snowflake pattern, it is a written instruction only pattern here on the blog – if you prefer charts along with the text you can purchase a PDF version of this pattern thru my Ravelry shop for $1.99.

Little Snowflake Ornament – This was the first snowflake pattern I shared here on the blog and it is a stitch chart only pattern.

I love hats, earwarmers and cowls for wearable gifts, they don’t take a lot of time or yarn to crochet.  I make a lot of hats for my family, it has become a bit of a Christmas tradition. I have a couple of hat patterns available for free here on the blog and a couple of hat patterns for sell in my Ravelry shop.

Whirlwind Hat – This is an intermediate level text pattern available here on the blog. I’ve included photos and a link to a video to help with learning the trick to working the spiral.

Simple Double Crochet Hat – This is a super easy hat that works up quick in double crochet stitches and a single crochet finish. Work it in variegated yarn for a colorful look, or use a solid yarn for a background that can be embellished with motifs.

Mountain Top Beanie – This is an intermediate level pattern available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop. The pattern includes stitch charts for the crown, sides and ribbing. The sample for this hat was worked in Ella Rae Lace Merino Aran yarn, a wonderful luxurious yarn that is so soft and colorful. Because the hat only uses 1 ball it is a fun splurge project.

Spiraling Crosses Hat – This is an easy intermediate level pattern available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop. The pattern includes a stitch chart of the crown and sides to help you with the placement for the cross stitches. The slightly cabled texture of this stitch pattern makes a good hat for either women or men on your gift list.

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat – This is an easy level pattern full of all the tips and tricks I teach in my hat class. It is a great pattern for those wanting to create any size hat with any size yarn. You can purchase it in my Ravelry Shop.

Lace Hat – This pattern is available on the Red Heart website. This was one of the first designs I sold when I started out as a designer. For a time the yarn for this project was discontinued, but they have brought back a new version of “Heart & Sole” yarn.

Springtime Headband – This is a pattern on my blog that is great for a quick gift, you can usually get 2 out of 1 ball of Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease in worsted weight. It is an intermediate level pattern, but I have included photo tutorials for the 2 texture stitches used in the pattern.

2 by 2 Cowl – This pattern is an easy level and speedy crochet project, it also uses only 1 ball of yarn. You can find the text pattern here on my blog and there is a link on the pattern post to a video to help you with the foundation I used.

Kellie Cowl – This pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop and is an intermediate level project. It would make a great gift for someone living in a warmer climate, or for those that don’t feel the cold all that much. The pattern has stitch charts to help you with the tricky parts and clear text instructions. It takes only 1 ball of the specified yarn and if you add the optional beads it is a fun dressy accessory to wear anytime of year.

These 3 moebius style cowls are quick and fun to crochet. The patterns are available individually in my Ravelry Shop.

Twisted Vs Cowl – A super quick project worked with bulky yarn and a big hook. The text pattern includes a photo tutorial about moebius construction.

Anna Moebius Cowl – Named after a friend’s grand-daughter this cowl is another fast one to work up in a chunky yarn. Pattern includes stitch chart and is an easy intermediate level project.

Twisted Garden Cowl – This pattern is an intermediate level project, with an interesting stitch pattern. This is still a small enough project to complete quickly, and is entertaining for more experienced or intrepid crocheters.

For those that don’t feel like working the moebius off a twisted foundation, there is always my Springtime Cowl. This pattern is available here on my blog and used 2 balls of the yarn for the sample. It is a simple stitch with the twist added when the 2 ends are sewn together.

If you have made it this far in my post I have a special gift for you. A 10% discount for any of my patterns over $3.50 price point. The code is: Crunch2017, and will only be valid until Friday, August 25th, 2017 at 11 p.m. Mountain time.

I hope this helps you all get started on the gift projects you need to complete and that you all survive the crafting crunch.

A Sanity Break

The past couple of months have been rushing here and there in preparation for and then dealing with back-to-school for my boys. I’m getting back into the school routine but it hasn’t been easy. I’ve also been busy with lots of crochet work that I can’t quite share yet.

Fortunately I got to take a little break this week.

My friend Sharon lives in California and she is having an adventure with her friend Carol. The two of them are driving across the country and back on a 3 month road trip. They are stopping to visit friends and family along the way and having a great time.

They had just spent a couple of days up in the mountains of Colorado around Grand Lake. They got to drive one of my favorite adventure roads, Fall River Road on their way to their friend’s cabin in Grand Lake. On their way back down to the plains we arranged to meet in Estes Park. There is a wonderful shop in Estes Park called “The Stitchin’ Den” that has lots of lovely yarns and embroidery supplies, and I suggested we meet there.

Valley View heading to P2P

I live about 40 minutes drive away from Estes Park, Colorado. My drive over was a little longer as I encountered road construction delays. Seems like this has been the summer for serious road construction repairing damage from the 2013 floods in a lot of Colorado. I really enjoyed my drive though, the scenery along the way is breath-taking everywhere you look, and it was a beautiful day.

The timing worked out quite well. I parked in the big lot at the library in Estes and had just texted Sharon I was there. I asked her to text me when they got to town. A few moments later she texted me they were in the parking lot. I went looking for them and when I found them I got my first big hug of the day. Sharon gives great hugs.

There was Sharon, Carol and the friends they had been staying with, Linda and Larry. It was around noon and they were all very hungry and we decided to find somewhere to have lunch. “Claire’s” was open and I had always heard good things about it, we walked across the town square park to take a look at the menu.

The menu met with everyone’s approval and we were seated in just a few minutes. Everyone enjoyed their lunch and we had a lovely visit. Sharon had funny stories about driving Fall River Road, she wanted a “I survived the Fall River Road” sticker.  After lunch they decided not to join me at the yarn shop since Sharon is on a yarn diet. She and Carol have a limited amount of space in their car for cargo on the trip.

Sharon and me

We had to get a photo of Sharon and I together. Carol was our photographer, since neither Sharon or I are very good at the “selfie” thing. After a final hug the 4 of them headed off and I walked over to the yarn shop.

Purple Ella Rae Lace Merino

It is a really fun shop with various levels and nooks and crannies full of lovely fiber and yarn. I decided I really needed to adopt some purple yarn. This is more of the wonderful Ella Rae Lace Merino, but in a lighter weight than I had made my Mountain Top Beanie from. I was also interested in working with it because it was a tonal colorway instead of the busy variegated style.

I am thinking these 2 hanks will become something open and lacy to be worn close to my skin. The texture of this yarn is so soft and comfy. There is over 900 yards all together, so I should be able to make something very nice.

My Favorite Historical Landmark

On the way to Estes Park I had seen my favorite historic landmark and told myself if it wasn’t raining on the way home I would stop to take a photograph. This is “The Chapel on the Rock” at the St. Malo Retreat Center. I had a nice little walk taking photos and still managed to make it home before my boys were back from school.

I hope all my U.S. readers have a lovely Labor Day weekend. It’s the weekend that marks the end of summer for many of us. I hope you all get a little time for a “sanity break” of your own.

Tis the Season for Fiber Events

Ah summer-time! The best thing to me about summer is that there will be fiber events all over my region. This coming weekend will be the Estes Park Wool Market and September 9th & 10th is the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair in Nebraska.

Scotts Bluff Fiber Arts Fair logo

I’ll be teaching 3 crochet classes and one injury prevention class at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair. Registration is now open at the event website. You can enroll in classes online or download a PDF registration form to use to enroll by mail.

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat

Friday, September 9th I’ll be teaching “The Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat” class in the morning.

Art Science Spirals

I’ll be teaching “The Art and Science of Crochet Spirals”class Friday afternoon.

1st PWT back

Saturday, September 10th I’ll be teaching my “Playing with Triangles Shawl” class in the morning.

Dont let your Hobby Hurt

I’ll be teaching my “Don’t Let Your Hobby Hurt” class Saturday afternoon.

You can click on any of the class names above to go straight to the class information pages on the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair website. Or click here to go to the home page for their website.

If you don’t live in the area you might consider coming out to this event. Scotts Bluff is a beautiful area in Nebraska and there is a lot to do at the Fiber Fair as well as opportunities to take a fun tour of the Brown Sheep Company’s Yarn Mill.

Dreaming of Sleep

“Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care,

The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course

Chief nourisher in life’s feast”

              “MacBeth”, Act 2, Scene 2

William Shakespeare


Do you get enough sleep?  Do any of us? Did you know that sleep deprivation is one of the top health issues in the United States?

Babies need around 17 hours of sleep daily
Babies need around 17 hours of sleep daily

Our bodies need at least 7-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep everyday.  Yet most of us, even when we get the hours, it is fairly interrupted.  For the parents of young children reading this it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that you’ve forgotten what uninterrupted sleep even looks like.

Sometimes we choose to be sleep deprived…thinking we have no other option. I know that happens to me at times.  I live in a fairly small house and have 2 noisy boys.  Peace and quiet is a rare commodity and most often to be found once all my men are in the land of Nod.

There are times when the issue is one of not being able to sleep.  Insomnia.  Not that much fun to experience, even though it is a common theme for comedy.   Many times I’ve gone to bed unable to actually fall asleep, despite being incredibly tired before laying down.

At a certain point the sleep cycle becomes so deformed from our sleep deprivation that getting regular sleep becomes even more challenging.  The results of this can be profound on your health.  A well-rested body is more resilient against illness and injury, so the opposite is also true.  A tired body is more at risk from illness and injury, further complicated by a tired brain that may not make the best decisions about safety.  Being tired is quite often the culprit for clumsiness.

So how do you break this cycle once you are in it?

Sleep Hygiene is the term many medical doctors and psychologists use when referring to changing your sleep habits.  Now, when I first heard this term I thought of dental hygiene. It’s a bit different though.

Basically it’s a fancy way of saying, “Winding down”.  Sleep hygiene is about what you do the hour or 2 before heading to bed.  Most sleep experts recommend that if your favorite “wind down” is watching the telly you watch a comedy or light drama.  Serious documentaries, the News, and Scary Movies are no-no’s on the winding down list.  The endorphins produced in the body when you laugh help ease you into a state of comfortable and sustainable sleep.

Visit the National Sleep Foundation to find out more about Healthy Sleep Tips and how much sleep your body likely needs depending on your age.

A healthy toddler will sleep just about anywhere.
A healthy toddler will sleep just about anywhere.

Now I’m off to get some sleep. See you Friday for a fun post about crochet “surgery”.

A bit of My History – RSI and Crochet

There are a number of reasons that I started applying my training as a medical massage therapist to my crochet obsession. The main one though is my own experience with repetitive stress injury. When I was working full-time as a massage therapist 16 years ago I came near to causing myself permanent injury.

Repetitive stress injuries are very common in the massage therapy field. The last time I was researching the numbers on longevity for massage therapists I found that most work only a short time in the field. 2-4 years is often the typical life-span of a massage career, not all of them end due to injury, but that is a factor for many of them.

When I was in school at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy one of the things that was emphasized in our training was how to care for ourselves to avoid injury. Of course, my trouble didn’t come from my massage work, it came from crocheting.

I had made an ambitious decision to crochet afghans as gifts for a number of my close friends and family members for Christmas. Once the weather got cold they were particularly enjoyable projects. I would snuggle under the afghan as I was working on it. Unfortunately, the holidays were speedily catching up to me, so I was crocheting every spare hour I could find.

I didn’t realize at the time that I had some very bad habits in the way that I was holding my yarn and hook. Those habits might have gone un-remarked, except I was also crocheting for long stretches of time without taking a break. Now, for any of you that have attended one of my presentations about avoiding injury when crafting, you’ve likely spotted a number of red-flags in the previously described scenario.

One of the reasons that I’ve made it my mission to talk to fiber loving folks about how we craft and how to avoid injury when we are crafting, is because I came so close to losing my beloved crochet craft. In short I hurt myself badly. The pain got to the point that I had difficulty working at my occupation of massage therapy. So of course I went to see a doctor. First thing he said after our initial interview was that I would need to stop crocheting.

I asked if he meant just for a little while. His response was in the negative. His advice was that I should give up crocheting, basically forever. “After all, you are a young woman, and crocheting and knitting are for old ladies.”

Okay, stop laughing, I know you all are envisioning my response to that statement. Especially those of you that have met my rather “salty” side. Needless to say I fired that doctor.

Next I sought out a doctor that dealt with sports medicine. These doctors are trained to look at root causes of injury, so that the activity can continue but in a way that doesn’t cause further injury. Generally this work means improving the mechanics of movements involved in the “sport” of choice. In my case that meant crocheting.

First off, I did need to take a break from crochet, I couldn’t crochet for the entire month of January and the first 2 weeks of February. I was really missing my hooks and yarn. In the meantime my doctor had me doing daily contrast baths on my wrists and forearms everyday that I did massage work.

This involved filling a big pan with cold water and ice, then filling the sink with hot water that wouldn’t scald me. I would submerge my entire forearm, wrist and hand in the ice-cold water for as long as I could tolerate it, about 30 seconds.  Then move to the hot water bath for 30 seconds. I would go back and forth between the 2 temperatures, ending with the cold bath.

I know it might sound like torture, but it actually helped a great deal. You don’t even have to be injured for contrast baths to be helpful.

Holding the Yarn 2
My method for holding the yarn
Holding the Yarn 3
Once yarn is woven thru fingers I can grip my work without strain in my yarn hand.

After I was given the okay to crochet again I worked with my chiropractor to find a way of holding my crochet hook and yarn that wouldn’t stress my wrists and arms.  I also developed better habits in taking breaks when I was crocheting on a project.


My hook hold is a bit unusual, I call it a modified knife hold. It reduces the amount of stress on both my wrist and fingers. It took a while to get used to, but has helped me avoid injury for 14 years now. In the photo above I have the end of the hook between my 2nd and 3rd finger. Sometimes I hold it between my 3rd finger and pinkie. Just depends on the size of the hook and the project I am working on.

My boys when little

All this happened many years before I started designing professionally. In the years since that injury I became a mother and added all those fun tasks to an already busy life. For awhile I barely had the time or energy to crochet. Once I had some time for my favorite creative outlet though, I kept up with my better crochet habits.

Even as a designer working on some mad deadlines, I try to be very aware of listening to my body and being sure to take regular breaks. Even if a break is just getting up and putting another load of laundry in the washing machine or making a snack for my kids.

I also try to include stretching exercises in my daily routine, like the hand stretches in my post “Keeping Your Hands Happy”.

If you notice, I say I “try” to do these things. We are all human and often times we have to be experiencing some aches and pains to remind us to keep up with these good habits. That includes me.

If you are starting to have regular pain from your crochet hobby be sure to get help from your healthcare provider. And if they are telling you to give up crochet forever…get a second opinion.

Keeping your Hands Happy

Fireworks after Game

Last night my family and I went to the Colorado Rockies Fireworks game. Usually it is on the 4th of July or very close to it, this year the Rockies were out-of-town on the 4th so it was scheduled for the 10th. My friend Terie and I have made a tradition of going to Rockies games together since before I was married. So we got tickets for my family, her and her husband. The fireworks after the game is over are always spectacular and we almost make ourselves hoarse cheering during the game.

My knitting 2

Of course, baseball is a very stop and start game, so I always bring along a crochet project to keep my hands busy during the stops. Right now I don’t have any simple crochet projects in progress (more about that later this week), so I decided to take along my current knitting project. It is a simple garter stitch scarf for my son. If I finish this scarf it will be only the second knitting project that I have finished.

The game finished up without any delays, and the Rockies Won…Yay! Unfortunately, toward the end of the game the weather started to get a little wicked. Lots of thunder and lighting and a little bit of rain. The lighting was close enough that everyone in the top levels of the stadium were asked to leave their seats and seek out shelter elsewhere in the stadium. The fireworks were still planned to happen, they were just going to be delayed while the weather passed by.

Fortunately, I had my knitting project with me so I just kept knitting along on the scarf as we waited in the massive stairway of the stadium. Which meant that I basically knit for 40 minutes straight. By the end of the evening I was feeling some aching in my hands, and had to remind myself to do some stretches to relieve my hands.

Stretches are a great way of helping prevent injury to your hands and to alleviate soreness in your hands when you’ve over done things. Ideally you would do these simple stretches every 20-30 minutes when you are crafting or doing any hand intense activities, such as typing at the computer.

Hand Stretch - Push


Pushing Open – Spread the fingers as wide as you can and arch them backwards toward the top of your forearm.

Hand Stretch - Fold 1


First Fold – Fold down fingers to touch top of palm.

Hand Stretch - Push


Repeat Pushing Open.

Hand Stretch - Fold 2


Second Fold – Fold down fingers over palm of hand touching base of palm.

Hand Stretch - Push


Repeat Pushing Open.

Hand Stretch - Fist


Tight Fist – Squeeze your fingers and thumbs into your palms as tightly as possible.

Hand Stretch - Push


Repeat Pushing Open.

Remember when you are doing any stretching/strengthening exercises you should only take the exercise to the point that is comfortable for you. You should feel a good stretch when you do these exercises. If you have severe pain from even attempting them, please stop and make an appointment to consult your healthcare provider.


I Love New York

Running a little late getting a blog post up this weekend.  I was having too much fun traveling last weekend and have spent the time since my return playing catch-up for work. So this post will be a bit longer than usual.

I took a flight into Newark airport Friday April 4th.  For whatever mysterious reason, the flight was 2 hours late leaving Denver. Fortunately I was prepared and had plenty of yarn projects along to crochet on, as well as books to read. Including a hat I was working on for my husband.

I was heading out to visit my dear friend Jan, who lives in New Jersey. As part of our weekend we had planned a Sunday trip into NYC to visit the Lion Brand Yarn Studio and the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya (home of the awesome sauce Japanese Stitch Dictionaries).

Jan had it all figured out for us. We would park her car at the train station near her house and take the NJ Transit to Penn Station, walk to Kinokuniya and meet Mary Beth Temple and my friend Maven there, then have a picnic lunch in the park across the street. Afterward Maven was going to introduce us to the adventure of taking the subway to travel to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, where lots of my NY area friends would be meeting us for some fun time yarn shopping and visiting.

While I was having a delayed flight Jan hurt her foot very badly. Wasn’t broken but it was very swollen and painful to walk on. She managed to pick me up at the airport, but was having real doubts about the advisability of her going into NYC on Sunday.  She suggested that I go to NYC without her, but I didn’t want to do that. Afterall, I came out to NJ especially to spend time with her.

Jan and I have a joke from all our adventures together. We hit a snag in something, or I hit a snag in one of my genius ideas, and I say “I have a plan!” or as is sometimes needed it is, “Okay, Plan B (or C, etc…).” So I looked at Jan Friday evening once we were back at her house. “Plan B time”.

First of all we needed to help Jan’s foot. Fortunately I never travel without my Arnica Gel and my homeopathic Arnica tablets. Referencing the first aid formula for injury, R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), I had Jan sit down and elevate her foot while I treated the bruised area with arnica gel then iced and bandaged the foot. We spent the rest of the evening visiting and crocheting, then got Jan tucked up with her foot elevated and newly iced.

By morning her foot was feeling a bit better but it was clear that she shouldn’t be tromping all over NYC on it. So it was time to investigate another way of doing things. I knew that Mary Beth was planning on driving into the city for Sunday, so I sent off a text message to let her know what was happening.

Mary Beth. being the awesome friend she is, said that she would be happy to come get us Sunday and drive us into the city. Of course Jan felt bad because she lives further south than Mary Beth, so it would be a lot of back tracking to come get us and return us home.

Time for a Plan D at this point.

“Mary Beth what is your address?” I put it into my handy-dandy GPS program on my phone (have I mentioned how much I love my phone?). Jan and I look at it and realize it is actually an easy drive for us to go to Mary Beth’s house. “Okay, how about we drive to you and park there? Then you can drive us into the city?”

The activities for Saturday were a trip to see our friend Pam who lives only 20 some minutes away from Jan. First we made a stop at a local Target store though. I needed supplies for a compression bandage for Jan that would fit inside her shoe.

Ghiradelli Chocolate

And we needed Chocolate. Ghiradelli’s new Intense Dark line is lovely, especially the Cabernet Matinee squares.  I discovered these on our family trip for Spring Break and they are my new favorite chocolate that is easily available commercially.

We had a great time at Pam’s house. Took about 35 minutes to get there because it was a beautiful out and everyone that had a car in New Jersey was on the roadways (okay, probably an exaggeration, but that is what it seemed like). Pam fed us a wonderful lunch then showed us some of the beautiful stuff she has been crocheting lately. She also showed us her gorgeous collection of crochet hooks. The antique steel hooks and their ingenious little cases and such were really amazing. I was having so much fun I didn’t take a single photo. After crocheting together for a while and visiting we headed back to Jan’s house. Fortunately the traffic had improved.

That evening Jan and I spent looking at her hook collection and listening to music while we crocheted and visited. Her foot was feeling better and looking much improved. We were very glad that we weren’t going to be walking all over NYC though, and confirmed with Mary Beth what time we would be arriving at her house the next morning.

The next morning we packed up a lunch and what we would need for the day, then got in the car and drove to Mary Beth’s house. My GPS on my phone was working great and we were on track, though we kept seeing signs saying we were headed for the George Washington Bridge. Jan was getting a bit worried because she knew we didn’t want to cross the bridge. Fortunately all worked out, turned out Mary Beth would be taking the George Washington Bridge into NYC when she drove us in.

MBT Driver Extraordinaire
Mary Beth Temple: NYC Driver Extraordinaire

At Mary Beth’s house we met Cinnamon, the attack angora rabbit. She was very cute, but wasn’t going to let us pet her. We also got to say hello to Mary Beth’s daughter and see her prom dress, then into the car and on our way to NYC.

We drove around in NYC for a bit and Mary Beth pointed out some of the sights to us. I tried to get a picture of the Empire State Building, but wasn’t quick enough. Soon we were at the Kinokuniya bookstore. Mary Beth dropped us off in front of the store and went to find parking for the car. We actually were there a bit before the store opened at 11 a.m. Just across the street was Bryant Park where we were planning to picnic later.

Once we were in the store we headed straight to the section with all the Crochet and Knit books.  The next 45 minutes sped by as Jan and I explore the books and tried to narrow our choices down. I was amazed at my self-control.

My new books

I ended up choosing only 3 books to purchase, I already have a pretty wonderful assortment of Japanese Stitch dictionaries at home, so that helped me to limit myself. Jan had quite a few that she wanted to get, and since her birthday is next month, I picked one of them to purchase for her as an early birthday gift.

Mary Beth visits the store regularly so she was set for books, but needed to find some stickers for her daughter, she kept wandering back to check on us. Then Maven joined us, she was exercising self-control and wasn’t looking at the books on this visit. Mary Beth showed us the Moleskine graph paper books she had found. She likes to use them for planning designs and likes them in a variety of colors.

3 Moleskin Sketch books

So I had to go investigate the options available. They even had the blank page ones I love, and in every size you could ask for. I chose a set of 3 19x25cm books with gray covers. I like to draw on the outside of them. They are the perfect size for when I travel, large enough to sketch in and slim enough to not add a ton of weight or bulk to my luggage.

Irrestible Earbudsclose up of Owls

I had my choices lined up and Jan had hers, it was time to head up to the cashiers to make our purchases. But then I saw these awesome ear buds. I have been needing to replace my old ear buds for my MP3 player, and who could resist these adorable hot pink little owl ear buds. I was going to, but Jan always helps me indulge. And they are so cool when I’m using them, sort of like jewelry.

Our picnic in Bryant Park

Next on our agenda was some food. We knew we were going to be tight on time during this visit, so we brought our lunches and planned to have a picnic at Bryant Park. We so lucked out because the weather was amazing. It was warm but not too hot and there was music happening at the park, though we had to chuckle at Mary Beth because some of the music was a bagpipe band (her daughter is a champion Irish Step Dancer).

The other Kelpie

One of the really neat things at the park was a display of the maquettes from a project in Scotland called “The Kelpies”. They were so graceful and wonderful to see and are only going to be exhibited at the park until April 22, 2014.  You can see more about the large installation in Falkirk Scotland and some photos of them in Bryant park at this website.

M J and I at Kelpie sculpture

Maven took a photo of Jan, Mary Beth and I in front of one of the Kelpies. Then it is time to head off to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio. I had been wanting to visit this store since it opened. Lion Brand is a sponsor at many of the CGOA events I attend and have been telling us about the shop since it opened.


Finally, we were there! And the display in the front window was the yarn Taj Mahal. We all took some photos of it then headed inside to explore the shop.

Jessie and me

I had been telling my friends in the NYC area that I would be at the shop 1p – 3p.  We got to the shop about 12:45p and one of the first people we see is my dear CGOA mentee, Jessie Rayot.

Me and my friends at LBYS

Then other friends kept showing up. In the end there were 9 of us. We all had a great time shopping for yarn and goodies at the shop, as well as meeting other yarn enthusiasts. We even saw Lily Chin who was teaching classes upstairs in the classroom that day. She was surprised at seeing all of us as well.

MBT and the Lovely Sarah

It was really wonderful to see my dear friend Sarah, who moved from Vancouver, WA to Brooklyn, NY last summer. She came to the shop with her daughter and almost 2 year old granddaughter.

Loot from LionBrand Shop

Jan and I were having a great time checking out all the yarn and other yarn implements. I managed to find a number of goodies that needed to be adopted. I purchased 3 different color balls of the Martha Stewart glitter ribbon yarn (sparkly) , 2 colors of the Wool Stainless Steel thread cones (more sparkly), and 2 hanks of the amazing bulky wool. I also got some nifty bamboo stitch pins (Jessie thought they would make good shawl pins and I was thinking they look like miniature knitting needles), a set of Hiya Hiya crochet hooks, and a cool South Hampton foldable tote.

Hiya Case Open

I’m very excited about my new set of Hiya Hiya hooks.  This set was amazingly affordable for as many hooks as it contains, as well as the beautiful case. The case even has room for tape measure, scissors and needles.

Tote Bag Open

And this really neat tote bag, it folds up such a handy size to travel with. But opens out into a very generous size. It will definitely be joining me on my trips this spring and summer.

As 3pm drew closer everyone prepared to say good-bye. We loaded up in Mary Beth’s car and settled down for the return trip to her house, then Jan and I hit the road for the return drive to her house. I got to drive for most of it as I am trying to get used to driving her car. This July I will be flying out to Newark again and we will be driving up to New Hampshire for the Knit and Crochet Show.

Monday was my last full day visiting Jan. We had an All-day Jammie day, playing with hooks, yarn and our new Japanese books.  I also got online and registered for the July Knit and Crochet Show. It’s always more fun picking out classes when Jan and I are plotting together.

Tuesday was a rainy drive to the airport. Fortunately I managed to get thru Newark airport security without too many delays or adventures. I had gotten to the airport with time to spare and was glad for it. While waiting for my flight to board there were 2 other crocheters at the gate, so we had fun talking about yarn and different crochet projects. Once the flight boarded I continued working on the hat for my husband and read my book.

After, what felt like a very long travel day I was back home and ready to crawl into my bed and sleep for about 10 hours. That was about 7 p.m. Colorado time, though my day had begun at 7 a.m. East Coast time (5 a.m. Colorado) so it was understandable that I needed some sleep.

As always it was a wonderful time visiting with Jan and seeing the rest of my yarnie friends. I’ve definitely decided I really enjoyed my NYC adventure and I need to go there again in the not too distant future. It certainly is a city with a lot to offer, though I was continually amazed at how many people there were out and about. And that was on a Sunday, which is basically NYC Lite.

It’s Dead Jim

Yes, that is a Trek reference. It’s been a little interesting attempting to write posts for the blog the past couple of months.  My lovely ergonomic split keyboard was finally on it’s last legs. Somedays it refused to allow me to type anything, so I pronounced it dead and ordered a new one.

I actually type very fast. Last time I was tested I was at 120wpm. Whether I’m still that fast remains to be seen. But I have made the computer lag in the past. Lovely thing about newer computers is they seem to process fast enough to keep up with my flying fingers.

Generally I only type that fast when writing rough drafts. Pattern writing and editing is naturally a slower process. But anyway it goes, having the keyboard being wonky is frustrating. No matter my typing speed, I really have to take care of my hands, and having a well designed ergonomic keyboard to work at is key.

Keyboard at desk

My new keyboard came a few weeks ago and I’ve been playing catch-up.  I am really thrilled with it. This new one is split, but it is also a reverse slant. The mouse is interesting as well, it’s taller and sort of sideways, which allows a more comfortable position for my hand and wrist. Some of these changes took me a bit of getting used to. I’ve noticed after nearly a week that I’m able to type faster and more comfortably than before.

Position of Hand on Mouse

If you are like me and spend a great deal of time working at a the computer you might want to check into this keyboard from Microsoft. It’s called the “Natural Ergonomic 7000 Desktop”. You can position the keyboard a number of different ways as it has a removable lift for creating the reverse slant and pop-up legs for a more traditional position.

My favorite change from my old keyboard is that the wireless hook-up is a small USB device about the size of most thumb drives. My previous keyboard had cables that needed to be connected to the computer with a large ovoid shaped transmitter that seemed to be constantly in the way on my desk.

Of course, now I am dreaming of saving up the funds to purchase a new laptop. Something lighter weight and powerful enough to run video editing software on.

Five Things

Often times it seems so complicated when thinking about how to keep healthy, but there are really only 5 things that you need to remember to maintain good health and avoid injury.

Listen to Your Body

Our bodies are always communicating with us if we listen. Discomfort is the body’s first voice. It is only after you ignore Discomfort  for far too long that your body resorts to Pain (its version of shouting). Of course Pain hits us at many levels…basicially the sooner you listen to your body and make changes the less Pain you have to suffer thru.


Respiration is the one thing you really can’t stop doing. But so many of us breathe shallowly and our lungs never fully inflate. Breathing deeply through your nose sets up a wonderful chemical chain reaction that allows your body to relax and your muscles to recover from their hard work. It also promotes good digestion.


Our bodies are made up of approximately 98% water. I once had a client explain to me this was the reason we don’t need to drink lots of water. Quite the contrary! We lose water when we breathe, thru sweating and thru our gastrointestinal tract. If that water is not replaced frequently we can quickly find ourselves headed toward dehydration. Even mild dehydration can make you more vulnerable to injury. So be sure to drink at least 10-12 eight ounce glasses of water each day, and more if you are sweating heavily or engaged in strenuous physical activity.

Eat Well

We truly are what we eat. Our food provides the building blocks for repairs and for the energy to run all our systems.  Eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods gives you the raw materials for recovering from mild injury and preventing further injury.


If you’ve ever experienced insomnia or staying up too late and having to function the next day, you know how a lack of sleep can impact your brain. But are you aware of how much it impacts your muscles and overall health? When our energy levels are at the low-end we are more at risk for injury. Most people need a minimum of 8 hours solid sleep to function at their best. Anything less than that is generally not adequate.

So, pay attention to these five things and you’ll have more injury-free time to enjoy crafting and the other pleasures of life.

The Hunt for Happy Skin

Many of you are aware I live in the mountains of Colorado. Which means I often have snow and freezing temperatures when it is warm weather season for everyone else in the country. One thing you might not realize is that Colorado is arid.

You see on the news about our fires and the worry about fire because of the drought conditions we are subjected to. But Colorado has always been a very arid state. Our average annual moisture level is around 18 inches, compared to the averages for places like Washington or New York states which are 38  and 40 inches.

What this means for my skin is a constant battle to keep it moisturized. Especially my hands.

These are some of the lotions and unguents that I have had the most success with.  The Shikai Borage Therapy and the Hugo Naturals All Over Lotion are the ones I use each time I wash my hands. I keep them right beside my desk. They are light and absorb quickly so don’t gunk up my yarn and hooks.

The L’Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream I carry with me in my project bag, it is the most expensive of the 6 at $10 per .5 oz. Also absorbs quickly.

The Soothing Skin Salve is from a local shop called Rebecca’s Apothecary, and is my favorite to use on my hands right before bed. It’s especially good when I have little cuts or dry patches on my hands, and really great for helping my cuticles.

The DermaE cream and Hugo Naturals Shea Body Butter are my favorite after shower lotions, especially for elbows and heels.

All these lotions are great, but an important thing to also remember is to drink lots of water. Even being slightly dehydrated can make your skin dry and flaky. So drink up.