12 Days til Christmas

Christmas has been sneaking up on me and my family really fast this year. We went to Kansas City for Thanksgiving with family and got back home late on the Saturday after.

Our new kitty, Areya, hadn’t been feeling well before we left and when we got back she was still not doing great. So the first week of December was all about taking her to the Animal Hospital for tests and some help. The great news is she has recovered and is back to normal, getting into mischief every waking moment.

I’m a little behind with my planned holiday posts here on the blog. With only 12 days left until Christmas, I wanted to share with you a new coloring page. This is a fun whimsical nighttime Christmas tree. I’ve made it available in 2 sizes.

The first is a full page 8.5 x 11.

The second is a half page greeting card.

I had a lot of fun coloring this page and wanted to share the 4 different versions I colored to give you ideas for coloring your tree page.

For this one I used colored pencils only and picked rainbow colors for the ornaments on the tree. The tree colors are piney greens with shading at the tops of each segment. Shading around the stars with a deep blue sky and blue snow lines.

For this version I used colored pencils in blues and teals for the trees, then grays and yellows for the stars. The ornaments I used shaded lavender and purples for the ovals then a mix of salmon, yellow and pink for the others. I left the sky blank with bright blue snow lines.

This one I used colored pencils and went with a bright lime green for the main tree, with kelly green shading at the the tops of each segment. The ornaments were colored the same color for each shape using hot pink, lavender and pale yellow. The background trees are a piney green. Then shading around the stars and a bright blue sky and navy blue snow lines..

For the final version I used fine line markers for some of the details and outlines with colored pencils to add shading and soft color. Stars and ornaments were simple Red, Orange & Yellow. The trees were colored a piney green. Bright blue snow lines.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

I used my Staedtler Noris Club 36 colored pencils on all of these pages. I love the density of color and how durable these pencils are. They have a white protective coating around the lead core that really helps decrease breakage and allows for sharpening to a clean point.

I use my Staedtler double hole Tub pencil sharpener to keep the points sharp. I love that it has a compartment to catch shavings and a cap across the holes so I can throw it in my crafting bag and there is no mess.

For the fine line marker work on the final version I colored, I used my Staedtler 20 Triplus fineliner markers. These are great long lasting markers that I can color with for hours and not have dry up on me.

If you want to add any of these products to your craft bag and can’t find them locally, just click on the images above to find them at Amazon.com for purchase.

Have fun coloring some Christmas trees.

The Paulette Poncho

The weather has cooled off significantly up here on my mountain. We have already had a couple of super snowy days and the snow is hanging around with the temperatures barely getting above freezing.

Last week was all about making costumes for my kiddos at the last minute. I didn’t get photos the day of, I was doing finishing touches 2 minutes before they ran out the door to their party. We took these this past Saturday after a bit of repair work. My oldest was The Grim Reaper, all I had to make was the black cloak. Everything else was created by J, including the creative white patterns on mask, scythe and tabbard.

My youngest was Spectre Knight from a video game. We did a lot of searching of images to decide on the appearance and what we could realistically get done in the short time we had. The cloak with it’s skull embellished cowl came out the best, the armour was a bit sad. He was happy with it.

Casual Crochet Group modeling their Paulette Ponchos

The last 3 summers I have created a design for my Casual Crochet Group at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe. We call this our Testing Pool project. the crocheters that want to, join in work the pattern and give me feedback on changes or mistakes they find.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

This year our project was a simple top down poncho worked in rounds using a cotton blend yarn with long color changes: Katia’s “Funny Rainbow Star”. Some of the crocheters picked the version of the yarn that doesn’t have sparkles. I, of course, went for the sparkly yarn.

This project is a great one for travel crochet and TV crochet. It’s a simple stitch pattern that is perfect for showcasing yarns with long color changes or even busier variegated colors. I use stitch markers to make it easy to keep track of when to increase and where to join at the end of each round.

For the lighter weight yarns I found myself preferring to use my Clover Quick Locking Stitch Markers. If you can’t find them in your local shops you can purchase them on Amazon by clicking on the image above.

Cotton blend yarns are great for making a summer weight garment, but if you are looking for more warmth, switch to a warmer fiber like wool or alpaca. It could be lovely in a fluffy yarn like a silk/mohair too.

The pattern has both written and charted instructions, as well as information on how to add more rounds to the poncho length. The original pattern was written for using a fingering or sock weight yarn. If you want to make it with a worsted weight or thicker yarn you will need to check if you want the neckline foundation to be shorter. The pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry shop as the “Paulette Poncho”.

Festival and Conference Season Begins

A couple weeks ago I spent my Saturday at YarnFest in Loveland, Colorado. This is a great festival that is “local” for me. There are loads of classes and a fun marketplace celebrating yarn and other fibery fun.

I got to see a number of friends and had a little retail therapy time. My first stop and purchases were with the folks at Brown Sheep Company. I’m looking forward to making something summery with the pink yarn. Hopefully I can finish it before the CGOA conference in July.

I had lunch with my good friend Karen Whooley, she taught 4 classes at the festival. We had a great time catching up. Once she had to head back to teach her afternoon class I met up with my friend Susanna.

Turns out Susanna is nearly as dangerous an enabler to shop with as my dear friend Jan. I ended up purchasing a few more items than I had originally planned on. The gorgeous yarns below were too tempting.

This lovely fluffy dark yarn is a Cashmere/Wool blend. There is a little over 320 yards in the 2 balls, so I am hoping to create a lacy cowl or a shawlette. The fluffy halo of the yarn will make for a warm fabric even if it is created with very open stitch work.

Susanna had to bring me to see the yarns at the “Knit Stitch” booth. She had made a hat using some of their lovely hand-dyed yarn. I couldn’t resist this pink and lavendar yarn with it’s bit of sparkle, the color name is “Doodlebug”. I am planning to make myself a beautiful hat for next winter. I think it will look terrific with my silver hair.

A YarnFest tradition for me is to visit glass artist Jodie McDougall’s booth. She always has wonderful glass buttons and goodies. This year I had to adopt some adorable sheep earrings. I’ve been wearing them a lot since the festival. I especially love their little feet.

I was thrilled to see my friend Paula of KnitBaahPurl was at YarnFest again. I had to purchase one of her T-shirts for a new sleep Tee. I really loved this “now I lay me down to sheep” shirt, and it’s in a lovely lavender purple color.

Paula creates all sorts of fun sheep and yarn themed artwork that she sells on T-shirts, mugs, wine glasses, cards and other fun items. I especially love the ecumenical nature of most of her illustrations. No matter what your yarnie art…her artwork will fit the bill.

My final purchase of the day were some cute little stitch markers from the Longmont Yarn Shoppe booth. Who hasn’t played “yarn chicken” when finishing a project? The chicken may actually be inspiration for a crochet or needle felted sculptural piece in the future. I also found the little squirrel to be too cute to resist.

Looking back over all my goodies from YarnFest I’m realizing that I actually exercised some restraint. I stood strong against many of the temptations. Now I just need to crochet like the wind with all this yarn in my stash so I can get more yarn at the other Festivals and Conferences coming up.

In mid-June the Estes Park Wool Market will be here, that could be dangerous to my budget. I’m planning on joining some friends there to tour the vendor barn as well as check out the various critter barns.

The second week of July will be the CGOA conference, which includes a lovely boutique Marketplace. This year’s conference will mark the 25th anniversary of CGOA so there will be extra fun things happening there. If you haven’t had a chance to register for the show it isn’t too late. You can check it out at Crochet.org.

I hope to see some of you at a Festival or Conference this year. But even if you can’t join me at the ones I’m at, do a little research in your area to see if there is one going on near you. It’s a great place to meet fellow yarnies and take classes to expand your crafting skills.

Crochet Inspired Coloring

I’m so excited to share with my readers my latest project.

My Crochet themed E-Coloring Book with FaveCrafts.com. Today is the first day it is available on the FaveCrafts website. It is a free downloadable PDF. Click here to get your copy.

The book contains 4 coloring pages for you to print out and color. The front and back covers are some examples of how I colored 2 of the pages using color pencils and fine line markers.

On 2 of the pages I included a stitch chart pattern for making motifs. One is the flower from the “Flowers & Vines” page. The other is a Round-to-Square blanket square from the “Gorgeous Granny Square” page. Both pattern pages also have a drawing of a crocheted motif (the square has 3) so you can play with color on the page to see what colors of yarn you might want to use.

I worked the motifs above with Red Heart’s “With Love” worsted weight yarn and a size I (5.5mm) hook. You can see on the squares that switching colors at the ends of round 1 and 2 creates a floral look. Especially when the last rounds are worked in green.

I hope you enjoy this collection of coloring pages. Please share your colored pages and crocheted projects with me on Instagram (andee.graves) or my Facebook business page (Andee Graves / M2H Designs).

Spring Break Rocks

I’m a little behind this week with posting. My family and I were traveling for a few days since this week is my kiddos’ Spring Break from school. We drove across Colorado and spent 2 full days exploring Arches National Park. Wow! It was amazing.

I only had a little crochet time during the road trip part of this trip. It was just a 4.5 hour drive for us from home. We stayed in Grand Junction, Colorado and then drove to the park each day since we brought our dog with us. The photo above was one of our first adventures at the park. This is at the trailhead for the Park Avenue Trail.

We had a great time hiking this mile long down hill trail. My husband hiked half way with us, then went back to the car to meet us at the end of the trail. He hiked in from the end when we were about a quarter mile from the end. The rock formations to either side of the trail were amazing and we were surprised by the amount of greenery in this arid landscape.

We next headed to the North and South Window formation. Seems like everyone was there and it took a little time to find parking. We hiked up to the North Window first. A couple years ago my family went to Arches without me and they were really looking forward to showing me this formation.

They loved climbing all over the rocks thru the arch. That is them inside the pink circle. The photo below is a close up of them, though a little grainy.

My favorite arch was on the 2nd day of our trip. Sand Dune Arch. It was really a surprise.

The path to get to this arch is relatively flat. You approach a massive formation of “fins” and walk thru a sandy pathway between them.

There are boulders and smaller formations all around and it was nice and cool at 3 in the afternoon.

Finally you reach the arch. It is a small and beautiful sculptural looking arch. There are nooks and crannies all around it that my family had fun exploring. We explored a few more arches before the sun was setting, but decided we would have to make more trips to this park.

I hope you are all having a great start to your spring. I’ve got Easter on my brain right now and hope to have some fun things to share with you soon.

ChainLink 2018

Yesterday was the first day of school for my kiddos, so I finally have some time and some internet bandwidth to get a blog post up. I definitely took a Summer Break from the blog this year. Lots of exciting things going on in my Crochet world and my Sheep world but I’ll be jumping around a bit with my posts the next couple of months.

Being that I am now on the CGOA Board of Directors a lot of June and early July work time was dedicated to helping get things organized for the ChainLink conference that was held in Portland, Oregon July 25-28. I flew out to Portland on Tuesday July 24 and didn’t come home until July 31. The extra days were because I also attended the Craft Yarn Council’s Certified Instructors Program, more about that in a later post.

Unfortunately the first morning back home I woke up with a nasty cold bug that has laid me low for nearly 2 weeks. Don’t these germs know I don’t have time for them?! I’ve been slowly playing catch-up with a couple of days this past week that I was on the go all day.

Let me tell you all about ChainLink though. As always it was a fun and educational time. I was seeing it from a slightly different angle this time with being on the Board. Maybe the strangest moment for me was when I got to the Business Meeting Thursday night and had to sit on the stage looking out at all the meeting attendees.

Though looking out at everyone made me realize how many crochet friends I have made over the years of attending conferences. This is my friend Sharon who I met at my 2nd Knit & Crochet show that was in Portland in May 2009.

One of the fun things about this trip was that my journey with CGOA all started with the Portland Knit & Crochet Show in September 2008. When I found out about that show I also discovered CGOA and joined that July when I registered for the show and classes.

That meant that this year’s conference was also my 10 year anniversary of being a CGOA member. This made for a full circle feeling too, with my first ever conference being in Portland and my first conference as a board member being in Portland as well. I’m a goofy geek, things like this make me smile.

Tuesday evening was all about getting settled into Jan and I’s room and re-uniting with lots of friends. The next day I was going to be very involved with Professional Development Day so didn’t have too late an evening. I was one of the first to arrive at the room for PDD, and helped with set-up. One of the first people I got to meet was Debra L who knew me because of Florence and her adventures on Instagram. So of course, we needed a photo with Florence and Debra before the day was done. I’ll get into more detail about Florence in a future post, you’ll be seeing her a lot in photos from this conference though.

I enjoyed attending the presentations of colleagues and especially found Tamara Kelly’s presentation about email Newsletters interesting. Lots of food for thought. That afternoon I did 2 short break-out presentations on “Face to Face; Facing your Fears”.  I was happy that so many attendees found my subject helpful. Once the afternoon presentations were over there was the final presentation by Salena Maestas on goal setting that was really inspiring.

Whether you are already a crochet professional or are looking at becoming one, the Professional Development Day at the conference is a really useful event to attend. 2019’s conference will be in Manchester, New Hampshire July 10 – 13, with Professional Development Day on July 10.

After PDD I checked in with my other committee chairs for the Design Competition and Fashion Show to see how things were going. Judging was wrapping up for the Design Competition and Fashion Show entries were looking a little sparse. Since the deadline for turning in Fashion Show garments wasn’t until the next day at 4 p.m. I hoped we were going to be seeing more turned in.

In between all the running around I picked up my conference merchandise. This is the gorgeous commemorative hook from Furls.

Wednesday evening was the start of classes at the conference and lots of folks were arriving that afternoon in preparation for taking classes. My roommate, and long-time conference attendee, Jan loves taking classes. She always takes classes in each slot that is available. Because I had already blown my budget for classes this trip with the CIP class I didn’t get to sign up for any of the CGOA classes this time. So I got to live vicariously thru friends that were taking classes. I spent my evening visiting with friends and took a dip in the hotel pool and hot tub.

Thursday seemed to go by in a blur. The morning started with the Volunteers’ meeting, which I missed. I’m not really a morning person and this was the one morning I had marked to sleep in. The Volunteers that attended the meeting were all given a Thank You bag with useful information and some goodies. If you are interested in volunteering with CGOA you aren’t limited to helping at the conference, though we really appreciate our conference volunteers. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer with CGOA to help with the various committees that keep our Guild running and growing.

That evening was the Business Meeting and the Market Preview. It was a good size crowd at both events. Our president, Linda Dean, handled most of the speaking duties at the podium with input from the rest of the Board. There was a bit of hilarity with the microphone since Linda is taller than most of us. You can see a video of the meeting on the CGOA page on Facebook still.

After the Business meeting it was time for the Market Preview. I missed the crowd for the actual moment of opening due to delays with leaving the business meeting. Everyone was very excited though. The shopping bags we were handed as we came into the marketplace were fabulous. Sponsored by Annie’s they were printed with “Of course I need more Yarn”, it’s bad when even your shopping bag is enabling you.

Despite being late to the opening I manage to do a little retail therapy that evening. These lovely bangle bracelets caught my eye right away. They are made from Tunisian crochet hooks that are “seconds” from the manufacturers. Then the folks at “Renegade Yarns” bend them into circles to create the bangles. I actually bought 4 of them, the 3 you see above and a green one as a gift for Jan.

I also couldn’t resist this yarn at Newton’s Yarn Company. They had a table full of bags of Sale yarn. I loved this bright aqua color and thought the gold and bronze color would be a lovely accent color. Not sure what this yarn will grow up to be once I start working with it. Very likely some sort of wrap.

When Jan and I were comparing purchases later that evening she showed me a really neat shawl pin she had found. It was a beautiful semi-precious stone with a magnetic closure on the back. I decided I needed some of those too. I especially liked how you could wear the magnet backing under your garment so your wrap would really stay put.

Friday I spent some time checking in with my committee chairs and then went to the marketplace to look for the shawl pins. This is Michele of Rock N’ More Accents that makes and sells the beautiful pins, you can find her on Facebook as “Spinning Mind Designs”. I ended up purchasing 3 different ones because I couldn’t make up my mind.

This pretty pink and gray toned Rhodonite one.

This dyed Jasper one in Teals and Blues.

And a gorgeous South African Picture Jasper one. I liked this one because it has the look of wood and I thought could be a good neutral pin to wear with lots of my wraps.

The magnet is so strong you have to slide them off to open the pin. This was the closest I could lay the magnet backing to the stone before the magnets would pull together.

I took this photo so you can see the 2 pieces from the side of the back. They fit very snugly together.

I had to stop and visit the lovely Christine at Holy Sheep Balls because the name was so great. She had some gorgeous “art yarn”.

I couldn’t resist this Blue sparkly one.

I doubt I will make anything with it, I’m just going to wear it this winter as a “necklace” it will be cozy warm as well as decorative. I might very carefully do some knot work to hold it together as a kind of cowl shape.

I took a little break from shopping and had lunch with local friend Sarah and our other friend Amy (who was not feeling photographic). You might remember both of them from my adventures in Cama (Washington State) back in 2010. We had a lovely visit and lunch. I spent a little more time doing Board work, then took a break for a  little rest. Of course, I wasn’t finished shopping yet.

I had to stop by and see my friend Elf at RedFish DyeWorks. She always has such amazing colors and yarns. I couldn’t resist this “Starter Pack” dyed in colors picked from the photograph you see on front. I wanted to add a bit of purple to the palette too, but couldn’t decide on which one, so I got both. I have something very creative and exciting planned for this yarn.

Friday evening was the Excellence in Crochet event, where the winners of the Design Competition would be announced. There was quite a line waiting to get in because everyone wanted to get a Goody Bag. I got to spend some time with some of my favorite folks while we waited. That is Shari White, Pam Shore and Vashti Braha hanging out with Florence.

The Design Competition results were applauded and we had a wonderful presentation from Suzann Thompson about her crochet art exhibit. It wasn’t just about the exhibit, it was also about how to put something like that together and getting the community involved and excited about crochet. Very inspiring.

The Goody Bag was full of all kinds of fun stuff. Lots of yarn, both full size and sample sizes. Some wonderful pattern books and magazines also. The bag was from “Simply Crochet” magazine and it says, “Eat Sleep Hook Repeat”. They know us crochet folks well.

Saturday morning I was helping out at the CGOA Booth. We had a ball-winding station, were selling tickets to win a number of prizes and a “Selfie” frame that we helped attendees take their photos at. We were also answering questions about CGOA and encouraging non-members to sign-up.

I got to work my shift with Bobby, who was having a great time with Florence. He was the champion ticket seller for the drawings.

My good friend Kathy White came by and we had our photo taken using the selfie frame. After I was finished at the booth the rest of Saturday zipped by. I helped my Fashion Show Chair, Pia, with a couple of prep tasks for the Fashion Show.

Then ran around stopping to visit with various friends and making new crochet friends before it was time to get dressed up for the Banquet evening. Kathy had to have a cuddle with Florence again.

The Banquet is the last event of the show and it is always when we are all trying to get photos of and with everyone before we all have to say good-bye. They gathered everyone in the hotel lobby and took a large group photo. I got a few photos with friends afterward while we waited to go into the banquet.

Bonnie Metzer with Florence, getting Bonnie to hold still for very long is nearly impossible, so this photo is a bit blurry.

Some wonderful friends from the FreeForm group, Barbara Hynes and Mirto. Don’t you love their dresses? They both modeled in the Fashion Show.

Margaret Hubert wanted a photo with me and Deb Seda, so I handed off my phone for this one. Love this shot with us all laughing. Margaret was wearing her beautiful new sweater.

Linda Dean and I were sitting at the same table during dinner. We actually behaved ourselves well.

All the tables were decorated with crocheted roses around a candle.

During the Fashion Show, Nancy Smith modeled my Shining Day Wrap. It got a bit comical because she kept getting tangled in the lace.

We were all a bit tired after the banquet, but I got some last photos. Here is Carolyn, Susan and Shari.

Shari was having fun with Florence.

She said Florence needed to be in the poster for the evening’s Sponsor.

We got lovely good bags from Red Heart on our chairs.

Yvette and I had been having all sorts of fun thru-out the show, so we needed a photo of her with Florence. She was calling us “pocket book twins” because we were both carrying Vera Bradley bags of the same fabric. Behind Yvette you can see Pauline Turner. She was the recipient of the Hall of Fame award and gave a lovely speech and presentation before the Fashion Show.

My friend Pam surprised me with this lovely mug from Renegade Yarns. She says this is my new phrase, hmmmm is she trying to reform me?

I had looked at the mugs they had and meant to go back to get one but forgot. So this was a great surprise.

Pam also gifted me some yarn she won. She didn’t think the color worked well for her and knows I love corals and reds.

A Portland show isn’t complete without a photo of the lovely Bonnie Pierce and her husband Bill. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together but it was lovely to see them both.

I hope I’ve inspired you to join us at a conference soon. The best part of the conference is seeing crochet friends and making more. Plus there are wonderful classes to take. Check out the CGOA website at crochet.org for more information about upcoming conferences.

 

Feeling Sheepish

I keep hoping to do a nice long blog post about all the exciting stuff happening on the sheep farm. But all the exciting stuff is also keeping me super busy, especially when you add it to all the other things I am working on for crochet designs/classes, needle felting designs/classes and summer break family stuff.

In spite of all the madness, I am very happy I decided to become a partner with the sheep farm. Every time I go over to the farm to help with our flock I am smiling. This spring we have 11 new lambs. They are a lot of work but also great entertainment.

We will be looking to sell many of our lambs in the Autumn, though we will likely be keeping our 4 ewe lambs. Next year, if all our mature ewes have twins, we will definitely be looking to sell some of our sheep to other farms.

We had 3 sets of twins this year, plus a 4th set with only 1 survivor. The rest of our lambs were singles. We have a fairly wide range of ages of lambs with most of them being born in mid to late May. One set of twins came the last week of March and our last lamb came this past Friday, June 22.

I’ve been enjoying all the lambs, but these 2 are my favorites. We are calling them Cedar and Cinnamon. They both love getting scritches on their chins and ears. They also tend to snuggle with each other a lot.

The lambs all nurse from their moms, but after just a few days they start nibbling on the hay and lamb feed. They especially seem to like to snitch hay thru the fences when we have birthing pens set up in the barn. That white lamb in the front is Aspen and the grey multi-color lamb is Larch (or Andre the Giant as my partner calls him).  Larch is 2 weeks younger than Aspen and they are almost the same size.

Gertie and Gizmo are our oldest lambs. They were born the last week of March. Gizmo, the male, will be moving out of the ewe pen soon. Both of them are nearly as big as the adults at this point.

Since I last posted I have finished skirting and picking the fleeces that are going to be made into yarn. I also made a trip to the Alpaca ranch in Castlerock to get fleeces to blend with our wool. Hopefully I will have all the yarn back by the middle of July.

If all goes to plan we will be selling our yarn thru a couple of shops in Colorado before the end of October 2018.