Thanksgiving with Family

Today is Thanksgiving day here in the US. For my family it is a day to get together with family and friends for a big meal and be thankful for what we have.

In keeping with this year’s tradition of school holidays, the kids are both sick with pink-eye and colds. It’s looking like himself and I are fighting off the cold part as well. I’m at least grateful for not having to juggle the kids missing school days along with everything else.

Another thing I am thankful for is the training I have had in medical science. I treated the kids with Lavender essential oil and raw honey until himself could take the them to the doctor. Both kids have reported that their eyes are no longer itching. The doctor only gave my youngest eye drops because he was the only one with swelling and discharge.

Fortunately today I’m feeling a lot better and my youngest seems to be turning the corner. My younger brother and his girlfriend came up for dinner, but stayed in a hotel in town to avoid too much time with the germs. I’ve been looking forward to seeing the 2 of them for the past month.

New Christmas Tree 2

Tomorrow we will be decorating our new Christmas Tree. This year I decided it was time for a skinnier tree. We have always had an artificial tree because of himself’s allergies. We have a very full house between the kids’ stuff and my yarn, so I’ve been campaigning for a smaller tree. I was especially attracted to the “pencil” trees that I had seen, and to the “pre-lit” trees.

My least favorite part of decorating the tree is fighting with putting on the lights. I’m so excited to finally have a “pre-lit” tree! We will also be decorating a big swath of greenery over our largest living room window too. That way we can put out some of the ornaments the animals like to attack.

For many folks Thanksgiving marks the beginning of Christmas shopping with Black Friday sales at all the big retailers. I hope some of you will be looking at shopping also on Small Business Saturday to support small businesses that make up the back bone of the US economy.

Flatirons Shawl - 1d sm - Andee Graves M2H Designs
Flatirons Shawl
Kellie Cowl - Andee Graves M2H Designs
Kellie Cowl
WWC Stacked drape view - Andee Graves M2H Designs
Whispering Winds Cowl
vivianne-shawl-andee-graves-m2h-designs-a2
Vivianne Shawl

Speaking of Small Business Saturday, I’ll be offering 10% off any 2 patterns in my Ravelry Shop to all my wonderful readers. Just put 2 of my patterns in your cart then use the coupon code SBS2017Thanks to get the discount. This coupon code will only be good on Saturday, November 25, 2017 from 1 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Mtn Time.

Thank you to all my dear readers for your support of my very small business.

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Tempus Fugit (Time Flies)

The past couple of months have slipped by too fast. Strange that I feel that way, as while I was in each individual day they seemed to drag. This all reminds me of something a friend told me the day before my first son was born, “Motherhood is full of long days and short years.”

I think the “long days and short years” are true for all of us, parents or not, especially as we get older.

I remember being startled in my 20s when I was talking on the phone with my younger sister. She was still in high school living in Kansas and I was living in Colorado. She was asking me if I was coming back to visit for Home Coming. I told her that was a few months away and I didn’t know if I could, she told me it was the following week. It had seemed to me at the time that the new school year had just started. That is the first time I really remember that feeling that time was moving faster than it felt.

It’s only gotten more noticeable as I’ve added years to my personal odometer.

Honestly, my boys just got out of school for summer break and Halloween was yesterday.  Now I’m feeling the insanity of the BIG holidays coming down the highway. For my family that is Thanksgiving (USA) and Christmas. We are going to have company for both holidays this year so I need to kick it into high gear.

My fantasy of a relaxed December may be out the window at this point. Being laid up with Whooping Cough for nearly 2 months has certainly narrowed down my prep time. But this may be a gift in its own way.  Nothing like having less time to help you prioritize and force you to let go of unrealistic fantasy.

Most of my remaining gift making is focused on smaller projects like slippers, hats, cowls and some snowflakes. So that will help me with completing things in a timely manner. Fortunately I don’t need to ship those gifts either, since the majority of my “crochet-worthy” friends and family will be here with us.

Christmas cards may suffer again. I seem to get worse about sending those out every year. I may have to do “Happy New Years” cards again instead. I’m just hoping at some point to really review this year, even 10 months into it 2017 has been incredibly busy and eventful, both on the personal and work fronts.

I’ll be playing catch-up for quite some time. If there is something that I mentioned earlier this year that you are waiting for, please drop me a reminder in the comments on this post and I’ll try to put it in the top 20 of my To-Do List. I hope everyone else is heading into the end of 2017 healthy and better prepared than me.

Chasing Rainbows

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Long Road

Snowy Morning
First snow of the 2017 Autumn

Sorry for going so silent the past couple of weeks folks, it may be quiet here on the blog for awhile yet.  Turns out I’ve been super sick with Whooping Cough.

My youngest came down with it the last week of August. I had no idea that was what it was. We thought it was just a mild cold and fever thing. After all he had received his last inoculation for Whooping Cough in May 2014. Both boys had. Unfortunately turns out that isn’t a guarantee that they wouldn’t catch it. Because of his vaccination he had a mild case, but the same can’t be said for the rest of us.

My older son and myself came down with it the 2nd week of September. We got a nasty case of it as did my husband a week after us. Now we know what we are fighting, we are all doing much better. I’ve been feeding us all healthfully and getting lots of sleep. Unfortunately sleeping is really all I want to do. So it will be some time before I can do an interesting post on here.

I’ve been too tired to do much crocheting, so I have been unraveling some old projects that have been in the “frog” pond. At least it is something constructive.

When a Motif isn’t a Motif

This past week has been another whirlwind as I was preparing for the Scottsbluff Fiber Arts Fair. Today was all about Needle Felting, I taught 2 classes on the subject.

The morning class was “Needle Felting in 3D” and my afternoon class was “Sweet Sheep Toy: Needle Felting”. Both classes were well attended and I had such a great time with my students.

The sheep class students really applied themselves to the project, and everyone left with a new appreciation for how to create needle felt toys.  Tomorrow I’ll be teaching a Learn to Crochet class for Knitters “The Crocheted Edge”. This was a fun class I originally developed for teaching at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe. I’m looking forward to helping my fellow yarn crafters add crochet to their skills.

Speaking of crochet. I’m so excited to show you my 2 latest designs to be published in the October issue of the online magazine “I Like Crochet”.  Both of these designs were inspired by the idea of working fabric that has the appearance of little motifs without all the joining and tail weaving usually involved in that type of fabric. Instead the look of motifs is created by working continuous rows and using spike stitches gather the rows together. The edging and finish for each project is also worked continuously , so when you are finished with the crocheting, all you have left is weaving in a few ends and blocking

The “Sugar & Fig Cowl” is made in Berroco Yarns “Boboli Lace”, this is a colorful yarn with a lovely subtle sheen. The “motifs” are created in a 2 row repeat that is easy to memorize so you’ll have your cowl finished before you know it.

The “Cobbled Path Wrap” is a rectangular stole crocheted in Premier Yarns’ Deborah Norville “Serenity Sock”. The motif look in this design is worked in a 3 row repeat giving the look of ovals. This repeat is a tiny bit more challenging, but with the length of the wrap you will get into the swing of it pretty easily.

Both designs were worked in fingering weight yarns with lots of fluidity for finished projects with lovely drape and wearability.

If you don’t have a subscription to “I Like Crochet” then now is a great time to get one. This issue is filled with a number of lovely projects that can help you celebrate the fall season and that would make great gifts for the holidays.

Chasing the Moon

As I’m sure most of you know, this past Monday was the Solar Eclipse that traveled across the US. Being we are a family of geeks, and we live only 3.5 hours south of where the path of totality was (the pink dot is approximately where we are in Colorado), it was definitely time for one more road trip.

Our kids started back to school the previous week but Monday was only the 3rd full day of school for them. We decided that this was a great educational opportunity and they could miss a day at school. We weren’t the only ones. Many of the Colorado schools had students missing.

I have to give complete credit to my amazing husband for pulling this together.  He decided we should go to Rapid City, South Dakota and spend 2 nights there. That way we could visit Mount Rushmore and then drive down into Nebraska on Monday morning into the path of the total eclipse and watch it.

I had always wanted to see Mount Rushmore and hadn’t realized it was so close to us. It was about a 6.5 hour drive, not counting stops for gas and food. He had even ordered an Eclipse watching kit that included 5 pairs of eclipse glasses to look at the sun safely.

We left home about noon on Saturday and drove all the way to Rapid City, South Dakota. The drive was beautiful and I crocheted on a swatch for a new shawl design. We got to our hotel about 7 that evening, had a quick dinner then called it a night.

The next day we spent exploring Mount Rushmore. So gorgeous there, and we all hiked up the stairs that took us to the foot of the sculpture. I took that photo from about half way up, the closer we got to the sculpture the more challenging it was to get a good photo. The trees are pretty grown up around the base and the fact we were looking up the presidents’ noses, not ideal photography conditions. Still beautiful and well worth the hike.

My oldest stayed with me as I hobbled up the 255 stairs, turned out we had picked the wrong direction to go on the path, if we had started to the left side of the sculpture we would have been going down stairs most of the way. Ah Well. If you get a chance to visit there hopefully you will learn from my experience.

When we got back to the hotel later that afternoon I was ready to put my feet up and crochet. I’ve been asked by Longmont Yarn Shoppe to design a crocheted shawl to help celebrate their 5th year anniversary.  I had been swatching with the yarn trying to figure out the right stitch combinations. Having some quiet time in the hotel room was great and I finally got the swatch and math to cooperate.

Himself and the kids were playing in the water park that was attached to the hotel. I joined them later to soak in the hot tub and have some dinner at the pizza place.  After everyone was water-logged from swimming we went back to our hotel room and packed up in preparation for an early departure the following morning.

By 7:30 a.m. Monday we were on the road and headed South toward the predicted path of totality. There was quite a bit of traffic headed the same direction, though nothing compared to what we were seeing on Google maps for the Interstate coming up from Denver to Wyoming. We had a couple of spots we were considering going to watch from, but we were concerned about cloud cover obscuring the sun.

We were watching our location in relationship to the path of totality so we knew, if we had to, we could just stop on the side of the road to watch the eclipse. We were heading toward Agate, Nebraska and passed by a scenic overlook that didn’t have a huge crowd. The sky ahead of us was beginning to look very cloudy and we were trying to decide if we should keep going or head back to the overlook. After about 15 minutes we decided to turn around and go to the overlook.

It was a great decision. There were around 25-30 other groups there, probably 50 people total. People from Minnesota, Iowa and New York (Long Island) as well as closer by.  Everyone had eclipse glasses and was ready to watch the sun as the partial eclipse began.

My youngest had science class homework for taking notes on about the eclipse. He had black stickers to overlap yellow sun stickers on the paper, he had to note the time and the percentage of coverage. So we decided on the times he would make his observations then set a series of alarms on my smart phone so he didn’t have to be constantly looking at his watch and missing the eclipse.

It was a great family experience as well as a science experience. The kids got a little impatient waiting for the totality to happen, but we treated it as a great learning opportunity for them.  Fact: Sometimes the waiting in scientific observation is boring.

Once the totality got closer everyone got really excited. The wind picked up and, being at one of the highest points in the area, we could see the dimness of the totality coming toward us. Those of us watching the sun as the totality happened suddenly couldn’t see anything thru the eclipse glasses.

When we took the glasses off we saw the beautiful ring of the solar corona. It was stupendous! The kids declared all the waiting had been completely worth it. My youngest pronounced this the best trip of the summer. Both kids are more determined than ever that they want to be scientists when they grow up.

Then we drove to Scotts Bluff to have a picnic lunch and stop by Brown Sheep Wool Company. We weren’t the only eclipse hunters that had decided to stop by Brown Sheep. They were really busy, but I managed to find some yarn and fiber to adopt. Quite a bit of that yarn will be presents for Christmas, including slippers for all my family. I had them pick out the yarn and color they wanted because they are getting a bit picky about what they will wear anymore. Believe it or not the hot pink yarn in the center isn’t for me, my oldest picked it out for slippers.

I also got to introduce my family to 3 members of the Brown Sheep Family; Brittany, Andy and Peggy.

After yarn shopping we drove to the Visitors Center at Scotts Bluff National Monument. Again we were in company with a lot of other folks, but we decided to go ahead and wait in the line to drive to the top of the bluff. We were really glad we did since the views from there were beautiful.

We managed to miss the worse of eclipse traffic returning to Colorado and Denver in particular. With all our stops in Nebraska we thought we would miss it entirely, instead we ended up taking some back roads and avoiding the interstate. We stopped for dinner and ice cream in Ft. Collins and got home at 10:21 p.m. We had 2 very tired kids the next day, especially by the end of their school day, for once I didn’t get any arguments about going to bed.

I spent a lot of our trip crocheting on the anniversary shawl design that I am creating for the Longmont Yarn Shoppe, it’s always good to have a crochet project for the road. The launch date for the shawl is September 2nd. You can see a little sneak peak video on their facebook page. I’ve been working lots of math and writing the pattern as well as crocheting the sample since our return.

I’ll have more to share with you soon about that shawl and some other designs for this Autumn. This weekend I’ll be selling some of my wire wrapped pins and other crafts at our local craft fair. It’s the first one we’ve had since the flood of 2013. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of local friends and spending time in our little park once again.

Having too much Fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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