So Many Changes

Change may be the natural order of life, but some days it can really throw you for a curve.

This past year, really 18 months, have been full of changes. Some were more in the nature of upheavals, like the 1000 year flood that hit my little mountain community in September 2013.  There were some unpleasant changes from 2014 that involved me not getting paid for a work that took up a great deal of my time the first half of 2014. Then there are the changes in my routine with the boys attending school down in Boulder.

Some of the biggest changes I have been dealing with personally have been in my path as a crochet designer and teacher. The month of December sort of slid by me, I taught some small classes and individual crochet lessons at my local yarn store Longmont Yarn Shoppe. But mainly any spare time not spent preparing for a fun Christmas holiday with my family was spend pondering what was next. So the blog was very quiet.

I went to the TNNA Winter Trade Show the 2nd weekend of January. The week before I left I was hoping that I would discover an answer to the “What is next?” question by the time the weekend was finished. This is where that old saying about being careful what you wish for comes in.

As always, TNNA was a visual feast for my creative soul. Yarn in every texture, weight and color you could imagine and loads of other wonderful products. I also took 2 classes during the weekend: “Digital Marketing” with Zontee Hou and “How to stage your event like a Broadway Show Manager” with Patty Lyons.

Lots of great information in both classes, and many bright shiny new ideas hopping about in my head inspired by them. The hardest part of taking the classes was that they started at 7:45 a.m. Some of you that know me well know that I am not at my best before 9 a.m. Those mornings were a bit of a rough start, though well worth it.

Nothing will wake you up faster than taking a normally 3 hour long class with Patty Lyons when she has to fit it into 2 hours. All I have to say is, compared to her, I talk very slowly.

One thing that Patty mentioned in her class that has been sticking in my head was about trends with crafters and the hobbies they pursue. She said that most crafters switch what is their primary hobby every 5 years. One reason I find this interesting is that it has been 5 years since I started working on selling my crochet designs (and sold my first design). So it got me wondering if that is part of what is happening with my design mojo recently?

I still have lots of ideas for designs, but I’m more interested in pursuing alternate forms of publication. When I sell a design to a magazine or yarn company to publish, I have very little say in how the finished pattern is presented. Most of those sources publish patterns to a set format and style. That format and style is great for some crocheters, but doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

When it really comes down to it, I like to teach. And when I design crochet garments in particular I like to incorporate unusual techniques, those don’t always lend themselves to the traditional pattern format and style. So I’ve decided that I need to marry my teaching tendencies and unusual techniques into writing “teaching” patterns.

I’m hoping to be publishing a series of patterns over the next 6 months that will have not only the typical pattern instructions, but will include photo tutorials and tips on how to modify the pattern so that crocheters can add to their repertoire of skills and create wonderful finished projects that they will be proud to wear themselves or give as gifts. Eventually I will be adding links to videos that demonstrate the techniques in these patterns as well.

If you are in the Greater Denver area of Colorado this next couple of weeks, you can come take a class with me in person. I’ll be teaching at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe the next 2 Saturdays.

Crochet with a Twist class sample
Crochet with a Twist class sample
Handy HDC Class Swatches
Handy HDC Class Swatches

Saturday, February 28th I’ll be teaching “Crochet with a Twist, Mastering the Moebius” and “Handy Half Double Crochet”.

Granny Fans Class Photo
Granny Fans Scarf class sample
Crochet the Perfect Fit Hat class samples
Crochet the Perfect Fit Hat class samples

Saturday March 7th I’ll be teaching “Granny Fans Scarf” and “Crochet the Perfect Fit Hat”.

Whether you join me for a class or decide to purchase one of my “teaching” patterns I hope you keep on learning new skills in your crochet (or knitting) journey. After all, Change is the natural order of things.

A Gift for a Sweet Baby

My favorite design inspirations usually come from crocheting up a gift for a special occasion or event. Just a little under a year ago my niece became a mother for the second time. Makes me feel a bit old having a great-nephew and great-niece, but it is also the celebration of the circle of life. I found inspiration in the arrival of this new baby girl and decided to make her a “heritage” style crocheted blanket.

The first time I would get to see the newest addition to our family was when we went back for Thanksgiving. So I began to work on the blanket in September, about the time all the upheaval of the floods happened, it was a good calming project to work on each day. The body of the blanket is a simple cushy stitch that doesn’t require a great deal of attention, then an elaborate ruffled lace border finished off the edge.

Corner Detail small

I completed the last bits of the border as we drove across Kansas for our November visit. I didn’t get much in the way of photographs of the finished project, but the photo above is a close-up of the border.

After we returned from our trip my niece posted a photo of her baby with the new blanket on Facebook.  Michele Maks, the founder and editor of the online crochet site MainlyCrochet.com saw it and asked me if I would be willing to create a version of it for her site.

Lila Blanket MC photo

After a bit of discussion we came up with the Lila blanket and it is available thru the mainlycrochet.com website. This pattern was designed using Lion Brand Yarn’s “Vanna’s Choice Baby” in 2 colors.

If there is a sweet baby in your life that you want to make a beautiful crocheted blanket for sign up for a subscription (if you haven’t already) and you can get this pattern and many more wonderful patterns to crochet for yourself or others.

Estes Park Wool Market 2014

The first full weekend of June was the Annual Estes Park Wool Market. In 2013 I attended it with my friends April, Brenda and Renee’. All 3 of them spin and Brenda convinced me to give spinning with a drop spindle a try. Though I’ve not had many opportunities to practice my minimal skills since then. Last year I purchased some gorgeous dyed silk fiber to spin. It is waiting patiently for me to find the time to attempt it.

My Wool Market buddies

This year April came out to Colorado with her husband, though Renee was having fun at the beach with her family so couldn’t make it. Brenda and I met up with April at the Market.

Pile of Yarn Buffalo Gold n Bijou Basin

Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend as much time with Brenda and April as I had hoped. Instead I spent most of my time at the Market on Saturday visiting with the folks at the Bijou Basin Booth and at the Buffalo Gold Booth. I purchased some gorgeous yarn and hope to have a few designs to show everyone using these yarns by Spring 2015, earlier if I can manage it.

I was very intrigued by the Buffalo Gold  buffalo down yarns. They are supposed to be very durable and not inclined to shrink like wool. The hank of “Haven” is destined to be used in a fingerless mitts design. I’ll be posting about that design once it is available.

Sheep Dog Demo 1

I caught the end of the Sheepdog demonstration, I’m always amazed by the concentration that the dog has. The dog in the photos is a young one that is just starting to learn the ropes, I was still impressed.

Grown Angora Goat

I did get to spend some time visiting with the Goats. I’ve been dreaming of getting a few goats just because they are great animals for keeping the underbrush trimmed down for fire mitigation. I also just like them, they all seem to have strong personalities.

Baby Angora Goats

The white Angora goat in the front is a 3 month old male and was for sale for $50. I was really tempted, but I think my husband would have been a little startled if I brought a goat home. It can be a bit confusing for some folks, but the fiber from an Angora Goat is Mohair. Actual Angora fiber, as you see it labeled in garments or yarn, is from Angora rabbits.

Fr Angora Luv Bunnies

Before we left the market we all went in to see the rabbits. Brenda got a bag full of lovely angora fluff to spin with and we all admired the fuzzy rabbits. They always make me think of cuddly toys they are so furry and poufy.  There were even a few for sale, but I figured my husband wouldn’t be any happier about a surprise bunny, than he would be about a surprise goat.

After we had all finished at the market we headed to downtown Estes Park for some dinner. It was nice to have a bit of time to relax with April, Brenda and their husbands. This was the first time I had been back to Estes Park since the September floods and it was good to see that the town was making a strong come-back.

When I got home I showed the boys the photos I had taken at the show and they begged me to take them the next day. So the following morning we loaded up the car and headed over again for a few hours of visiting animals.

Herd of Paco Vicuna babies

The boys enjoyed meeting some Paco Vicuna. One had been recently sheared and the other had about 2 inches of fleece. They enjoy feeling the softness, but they found the little herd of baby Vicuna to be very adorable. The babies weren’t interested in being pet, but they didn’t mind being admired.

Gray French Angora

The rabbits were having judging going on, so they were all getting spruced up and the fluff was flying as bunnies were brushed and made to look their best. I was admiring this handsome grey French Angora Rabbit. There were even some bunnies that weren’t Angoras. A few lop-eared bunnies were there to be sold and are supposed to be really nice pets.

There was a lovely fluffy little rabbit, he was full-grown though no bigger than many of the youngster bunnies, who was super friendly and snuggly. A Lions-head something or other, can’t recall the name of the breed, but if he had been for sale we might have ended up with a bunny.

Finally we headed off to meet the sheep. There was a lovely Shetland Ram that a woman was showing. He was on a lead and snuggled up to her like a dog. The boys were good about asking permission to pet him and he loved the attention. His wool felt just like most of the Shetland wool I’ve worked with in yarn, so that was fun to experience.

Shetland Lamb

She had some lambs for sale and we walked all around the sheep stalls looking at the various lambs. This beautiful little Shetland lamb really caught my eye.

Bottle baby

The boys were very entertained by this sweet little lamb. He was quite vocal and bouncing around his pen. My best guess was that he is a bottle-fed lamb, as he had no fear of humans at all.

My favorite little goat

My favorites were still the goats though. This sweet little goat and her pen mate were just as interested in me as I was in them.

Baby Cashmere Goat

The cashmere goats were very soft to pet.

Baby Alpacas

Our last visit was to the alpacas. Only good picture I got of them was this pen of youngsters ranging in age from 6 months to 1 year.

I told my husband that I needed a small herd. Just one goat, one sheep and an alpaca. He didn’t agree. Ah well, maybe another lifetime for that dream to come true.

Where did Andee Go?

I know, my blog has been very quiet the last couple of months. It’s been a wild and crazy time. Cloning myself is a fantasy, but one I’ve been thinking would be a lovely solution (my luck the clone would only want to do the fun stuff).

Fortunately, I’m finding my way clear and will be blogging more regularly starting now.

Me speaking at Professional Development Day
Me speaking at Professional Development Day

I just got back from a wonderful week at the Knit & Crochet Show called Summer Chain Link by many of us CGOA folks. This one was held in Indianapolis. For the first time ever that I was one of the speakers at Professional Development Day.

My Market Purchases
My Market Purchases

Of course I had a fun time shopping in the market for fiber goodies. The above is the pile that had to come home with me. I’m really looking forward to playing with the yarn and thread. One of my purchases was a Steamer and another a Jumbo Yarn Winder. Unfortunately I have to be patient as those are being shipped to me.

I took 4 classes during the show and found lots of inspiration in all of them. Keep an eye here as I will be blogging about my them and the results of all that inspiration.  Especially my class with the amazing Lily Chin. If you can only take one class when you go to a show I highly recommend that you take one of Lily’s. She always has information packed classes that will fire you up to tackle crochet (or knit) challenges you never thought you would be ready for.

So get ready my dear readers, the last 5 months of 2013 should prove to be exciting and interesting for us both.

Confessions of a Night Owl

Sometimes staying up late is hard to resist. It is one of the few times my household is actually quiet.

Everyone besides me is asleep, including the dogs. The only sound is the humming of my computer and the refrigerator and an occassional pop from the wood in the fire. The quiet is so peaceful it is like the world is just breathing.

It’s a great time to get lots of work done. I can write or crochet without any interruptions. Often times I experience a flood of creativity and may spend 2-3 hours madly sketching and noting down design ideas.

Deck at Night 1

It’s been snowing the past 3 days and we have gotten over 2 feet of the cold fluffy stuff. The snow makes the world even quieter. I took these pictures last night because everything looked so calm out the window.

Deck at Night 2

Almost looks like a Christmas scene, which is appropriate, since I spent yesterday working on proposals for Winter magazine issues. Maybe that is why I have a much easier time designing cold season items. It is a bit difficult to be in the mind-set for warm or hot weather living at this altitude.

Most of my readers here in the US are currently experiencing above freezing temperatures or warmer, while my backyard was a balmy 19F at the time of my little photo session last night.

Deck in the morning

I took another photo this morning before the icicles could get broken. You may not be able to tell, but it was still snowing. As I write this it continues to snow and the temperature has gotten all the way up to 20F.

All this snow is great inspiration for warm and cozy crochet projects like hats, wraps and mittens.  Who knows, by the time the rest of the country is back in wintery weather, I may have a few of these inspirations in magazines for the season.

Day 2 of “Texting Mitts” Tour

Kathryn Vercillo of the wonderful Crochet Consupiscence blog is our host today.

I read her blog regularly because she always has sometime inspiring or thought-provoking on there.  Just be warned, her site is a bit addictive and you can easily find yourself spending a few hours reading and exploring links.

She also recently published a wonderful book, “Crochet Saved My Life”.  If you have felt like crochet was a big part of how you maintained your sanity you aren’t alone. You can find out more about this book on Kathryn’s website.

I was really excited when she agreed to review my booklet and do a give-away drawing for a copy of the booklet as well.

One of my goals this week for the blog tour is to show you the mitts from my booklet worked in different yarns from those pictured.

Xst mitts small

In the photo above I am wearing my Stagger Cross Stitch Mitts worked in Aslan Trends Natural Luxury Yarns “Santa Fe”.  This is a lovely 85% merino wool and 15% polyamide sock yarn that had been waiting in my stash for just the right project.  I made the Large size mitts for this pair, as I wanted to wear them over my glove liners. I also worked a couple extra rounds to cover more of my fingers.

These are the perfect extra layer over my liners for those nippy mornings when I drive the boys to school.

Surprise Package!

One of the fun thing about being a designer/blogger is that every once-in-awhile yarn company’s will send a box of yarn and other goodies.  This is a great chance to review new products and swatch with new yarns to see if they will fit in with one of my designs.  I knew that Red Heart was sending me such a box, but had been so busy with work and family stuff it had slipped my mind.

So I was very pleasantly surprised today when the FedEx truck came and it was a box for me (instead of my beloved, who gets lots of boxes for work stuff).

Inside was this wonderful tote bag full of all kinds of fun stuff.

There are knitting stitch markers, chain for counting off stitches or rows, yarn cutter, knitting needles, crochet hooks, new issue of Crochet Today magazine, Susan Bates and Red Heart product catalogs and…..

Yarn!

More about all this fun stuff once I get caught up on some patterns.