TNNA Goodies

I’m back from my little break and I have so much news for you. It’s likely going to take a few blog posts.

This summer has been moving fast and it seems every weekend has been full of excitement. First June weekend was sheep adventures, second was TNNA, and the third was playing with my dear niece and her adorable family.

I’ve shared quite a bit about the sheep adventures, though there will be more to tell on that front. For the moment though let’s roll the clock back to the second weekend and talk about the TNNA Summer Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio. For those of you that are new to my blog, or have never heard of TNNA, it is The National Needlearts Association and is a trade organization for folks that sell all sorts of fiber, yarn, needle crafting tools and supplies. It also includes needlearts teachers, designers and bloggers. You can learn more about TNNA at their website.

I had a little shorter visit at TNNA this time than I usually do, but it was still super productive. I flew out of Denver late Saturday morning. Had one of the most relaxing and enjoyable flights ever because of my seat mates. The woman at the window was traveling with her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and he cuddled with me for most of the flight. Might not have been ideal for folks that don’t love dogs or critters, but it was perfect for me. The woman on the aisle was also a dog lover, so we had a great time.

Saturday evening was the Business & Creative Services dinner. Lots of interesting conversations with colleagues and show vendors. There was a great goodie bag. I made sure to go to each of the vendors during the rest of the show to thank them for their sponsorship.

Sunday morning I had an inspiring class with Zontee Hou called “Become a Video Whiz”. Just Wow! I feel like my brain was so full after that class that I needed to sit somewhere quietly for a couple of hours and think. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option that day, fortunately Zontee always provides detailed slides and hand-outs that let me re-live the class now I am home.

I needed to spend my Sunday after the class on the showroom floor to meet with a number of yarn companies and to talk tools with some of the other companies (like the lively folks at Clover).

It’s always exciting to see what products Clover has, both the old and new. I’ve got a few to experiment with over the next couple of months, so be sure to check back for those reviews.

It was also a blast to see my friend Eloise. She and I have known each other for ages, long before she began working with Clover. We had a good chuckle when she started working with them and I told her they were one of my very favorite crafting tool companies. We were laughing at this show because she lives in Denver, yet the last 2 times we have seen each other have been at shows that we had to fly to. Life just gets too busy and crazy at times.

I also found some other booths I needed to check out. Like the “Knitting Abacus”, “Glowving” from Kreinik and “Brittany Knitting Needles & Crochet Hooks”.

It’s not a real TNNA show without a stop by Daven’s “Love & Leche” booth for beautifully scented lotion bars for keeping my hands from drying out up here on the mountain.

One of the most wonderful things about being at TNNA is the yarn. A rainbow of colors and so many beautiful soft fibers. I can get very lost seeing all the yarn. That joke about being overwhelmed by yarn fumes? It could really happen at TNNA. There are so many new yarns to see.

The pile of yarn above is what I came home with, there will also be some more coming to my house soon. I’ve been sketching and making design notes on each of these in preparation for creating gorgeous new crochet designs. Some of these yarns are brand new to me, so I will also be posting reviews of those yarns as I get to work with them.

Sunday evening I got together with a bunch of my designer friends and we went out to dinner at Bare Burger. I loved this restaurant. Local sourced and organic food, cooks and wait staff that actually know what Gluten Free really means plus fun, quirky décor like the awesome decoupaged bear heads hanging all over the restaurant walls.

One stop that was at the top of my list for TNNA was the Unicorn Wash booth. I met Melanie, the owner, at my first TNNA show. You might recall I mentioned her when talking about my marvelous book about sheep? It was her drawing that I won it from. I wanted to make sure to check in with her and discuss her products because I have another big piece of news. I am now a part owner with my neighbor Margie of a sheep flock.

I bet most of you aren’t that surprised, after all the sheep adventures of the last couple of years. It’s been my dream for a long time and Margie gave me the push I needed to do it. Life is going to be even more interesting and busy now, but I figure it will off-set the gap that is opening in my life as my sons are becoming ever more independent. I know one thing after only one week of working with the sheep regularly, I’m going to be getting in great shape.

Hang onto your hooks and needles my dear readers, it’s going to be a wild time on the mountain.

 

 

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Calling all Fiber Artists!

Hotel pool area

As you all know, I recently returned from the TNNA Winter Trade Show in San Diego. One of the things that is always under discussion at these shows is wondering what our consumers want, whether it is in yarns at the shops or types of patterns we publish. So now is your opportunity my dear readers to weigh in with your opinions.

The fiber arts community needs your feedback.
Please take the TNNA Fiber Arts 2016 Survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/fiberarts16, part of a major study of U.S. knitters, crocheters, needlepointers, cross-stitchers, weavers, and spinners. The survey will only take about 10 minutes to complete, and the more folks that complete it the better we designers and other yarn industry folks can understand your needs.

By taking this survey you will…
– Help fiber arts organizations and businesses serve you better
– Tell retailers and brands what you want
– Explore your fiber arts life
– Get the chance to win one of five $100 fiber arts store gift cards

This survey is anonymous – you will not receive marketing spam.

The results of this survey will appear in the fifth edition of the TNNA State of Specialty NeedleArts Study at http://www.tnna.org/?page=Research. The survey results will be available to non-profit fiber arts advocacy groups and TNNA members in mid-2016. TNNA is an association of hundreds of independent and family-owned fiber arts brands and retailers.

The TNNA Fiber Artist 2016 Sweepstakes Rules are at http://hartbusinessresearch.com/documents/tnna-fiber-drawing-rules/.

Please take the TNNA Fiber Arts 2016 Survey today:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/fiberarts16


Palm Trees and Yarn – That Works!

Wednesday was my first full day back home from this year’s Winter TNNA Trade Show. And you all got to hear how that turned out. We are still having frequent moments of “sad” missing our Tango boy, but there are happy thoughts too.  Like how much fun I had at TNNA and how gorgeous San Diego, California was.

View of hotel pool area from the lounge.
View of hotel pool area from the lounge.

That was where the show was held. The TNNA Winter show has been in San Diego before, but I wasn’t able to attend that one. I really lucked out with the weather. It was below freezing and horizontal snow in the air when I caught my flight in Denver, when I landed in San Diego it was 60F and sunshine (with palm trees). A lovely change from home. Just the day before it had been pouring rain in San Diego, but I missed out on all that.

View out hotel window

Once again Karen Whooley and I roomed together. This was the view out our hotel window. Not too shabby? Right? We were staying at the Marriott Marquis right on the harbor.

The weather was nice the whole time I was there. Of course most of the time I was on the show floor inside the conference center checking out the yarns and new products, so I didn’t really get to enjoy the weather until I went outside to walk back to my hotel or go out to dinner with friends.

TNNA Goodies

I came home with a bunch of yarn and some nifty products. You’ll be hearing more about those in the coming weeks. But for now the above photo gives you a taste of everything that came home with me. I’m going to be a very busy designer and teacher in 2016.

I took 2 classes at the show this year, and will be sharing more about those later as well. I really love to take classes at TNNA even though they are usually at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings. That is an hour of the day I would really prefer not to be attempting to absorb new information. But needs must.

Tuesday was all about packing up and traveling home. I had stayed a day longer than I usually do. I didn’t want the mad rush when the show ended on Monday to get the last bits of goodies packed and then make it to the airport in time for my flight. I think I may be staying that extra night from now on.

Beer Bottle

I got a good night’s sleep, then took my time organizing and packing all my stuff from the show as well as my dirty laundry. Even got some more visiting time with my good friend Tamara and we grabbed lunch together at the airport.  I liked her beer bottle so much I took its photo and she gave the bottle to me.

Raine
Raine
Mara with Hat
Mara

My flight home was very pleasant. I had fun seatmates, Raine and Mara, who were game for modeling my lovely cloche’ that I purchased in San Diego. I’ll have to get a good photo of me wearing it soon.

I’ll have more fun posts for you with details on the goodies I collected and the classes I took over the next few months. There is a lot happening this spring in my design and teaching work, so be sure to stop by again.

 

 

Back from the Summer TNNA Show

Here we are again, silence from me for a couple of weeks while I got ready for the TNNA Summer Trade Show. Now I am back and delighted with my meetings I had at TNNA and all the new yarns and other fun goodies that I saw there. I arrived in Columbus late afternoon on Friday and took a taxi with friends to our hotels adjacent to the Convention Center. That evening was the Fashion Show and the Designer Dinner. Sunrise Shawl back view sm My Sunrise Shawl made in Elemental Affects “Civility” was the 12th item in the Fashion Show. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a good photo of it at the show, my phone battery had died and the camera I borrowed from a friend at the event wasn’t up to the lighting challenges. So the photo taken on my dress dummy before I shipped the sample is all I have for the moment. The pattern for this design will be available June 20th (note: due to some family stuff the original release date of June 15th has been moved out). After the Fashion Show it was back to the opposite side of the Convention Center to the Crowne Plaza hotel to join many of my designing colleagues and other yarn industry folks for the Marly Bird Designer Dinner. Again  not much in the way of photos since my phone was still dead. The dinner was interesting though I was sitting at a table with a bunch of folks I hadn’t met before. I did see a lot of my friends in the room and caught a quick moment to chat with some of them. Some were only at the TNNA show for that evening, so I was glad for a chance to see them. Extra Goodies from MBDD During the evening there were a couple fun give-a-ways, I ended up with the little goodies above. I got the yellow clips for having a crochet hook on me, surprising right? Me having a crochet hook (I see you chuckling). MB Designer Dinner Goody Bag After dinner we were all presented with our official Goody Bags. Look at all the fun stuff that was in there! I was really glad the dinner was in the same hotel I was staying at. All I had to do was take the elevator to my floor and collapse into bed. I was wiped out. Saturday morning I was moving a bit slowly, but made it to the show floor only 15 minutes after they had opened the doors.  I cruised around the floor checking out the new products and new yarns. Eventually I met up with my friend Tamara (Mooglyblog.com) and we continue to explore the booths. Clover Amour Hooks We made a stop at one of my very favorite vendors, Clover Tools. As you all know, I love their crochet hooks. I introduced Tamara to them and they showed us their newest addition to their Amour line of hooks, 12mm and 15mm sizes. I’m really looking forward to playing with these more. The rest of Saturday slipped by in a bit of a blur. That evening I had dinner with my friend Mary Beth Temple and then called it a night pretty early. Willow Yarns Sunday morning I met up with Tamara and Jessie (JessieatHome.com) at the Willow Yarns designer brunch. All of us were given a fun messenger bag with balls of yarn and sample skeins. I did a quick dash back to my hotel room then I was off to a meeting. Later that day I caught up with Tamara and Jessie again, as well as Charles Voth and Mary Beth. I stopped by the Brown Sheep booth to chat with Peggy and her family. We were planning for my trip to Nebraska this September when I will be one of the teachers at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair. If you are in the area come join us for lots of fibery fun. That evening Tamara, Jessie and our friend Becky went out to dinner, then joined the big group of designers in the Hyatt lounge. It was after 11 p.m. when I got back to my room and realized I still needed to get all my stuff packed up for checking out the next morning. Yikes! Monday went by in a whirl between checking out of the hotel and then making a last trip around the floor. I picked up some yarn from a few of the vendors and said my good-byes to as many of my friends as I could. Then back to the hotel to get my luggage and rearrange things for my flight home. I had a few adventures getting back to Colorado, delays for flights and delays for luggage, but eventually I made it back (unlike a few of my East Coast friends who got stranded overnight in Columbus and Chicago). It’s been a week of recovery and reconnecting with my family since then. My boys are out of school for the summer break, so everyday feels a bit like a Saturday I’m going to have a lot of wonderful things to share with you this summer, so be sure to stop by regularly. Next weekend is the Estes Park Wool Market and I’ll be heading out again in 6 weeks for the Knit & Crochet Show in San Diego. So if you are going to be at either of those events be sure to look for me and say “Hi”.

Another Awesome TNNA Show

As some of you know, the first weekend of May (2-5th) was the TNNA Summer Trade Show in Indianapolis, IN. This is the show where all sorts of needleart craft vendors have booths that show their wonderful merchandise for the coming Fall/Winter season.

There is yarn, and tools, and yarn, and accessories, and yarn, and books, and yarn. Yeah, you can tell what I was paying the most attention to.

Most of the folks attending the show, besides the many vendors, are shop owners looking for the products they will be selling in their stores. So there really isn’t much to purchase there. It’s more a matter of talking to the various vendors about how a freelance crochet designer/teacher like myself can utilize their products. The main thing being designing with some of those lovely yarns.

Jill and Tabs on the inbound flight

I took a flight out of Denver on Friday and it must have been the TNNA flight. My friends and fellow designers Jill Wright and Tabetha Hendricks were seated across the aisle from me and one of my seat mates was a yarn company sales rep. The TNNA show is more of a working show, everyone is in and out of meetings so it is sometimes just a quick hug with friends. It was fun to have some time to visit with Jill and Tabs on the flight.

Seattle Skyline Chocolate Bar Karen brought.
Seattle Skyline Chocolate Bar Karen brought.

I was rooming at the Hyatt with Karen Whooley.  We had a great time catching up between meetings and inspiring each other. We also each brought chocolate to share. I brought my usual assortment of Chocolove bars, with extra “Cherries & Almonds in Dark Chocolate” ones to give to Mary Beth and Karen.  Karen brought a wonderful sculpted bar from Dilettante Chocolates. They are a family-owned company from Seattle that has children in school with Karen’s.

Every time I go to a TNNA show I am always a bit overwhelmed. There is so much to see and everywhere you look there is color and exciting yarn. Sometimes I think I get a bit lightheaded from all the yarn fumes.  I always go with an eye toward a particular goal for my business. This time it was to reach out to more of yarn companies there and see about using their products in my upcoming indie published designs.

I am particularly drawn to the hand-dyed yarns. The colors are always so wonderful and get my brain ticking over.  I also spoke to many of the yarn companies about US made yarns. Some companies are really working on having products that are all domestic, sheep-to-skein production of yarn. Something I am strongly in favor of as it creates jobs in our local economies. As well as being better for the environment since the yarn isn’t being shipped across the planet to get to it’s end users.

Pile of Yarn

Some of the yarn companies were kind enough to provide me with a skein or two of their products to swatch with for my designs. Fortunately I left room in my suitcase to bring those home with me. Keep a watch here on the blog as I’ll be letting everyone know when I have patterns coming out using these yarns.

In the tools department I was very excited to see that Clover has steel hooks now in their Amour line of crochet hooks. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “Steel hook” it is usually referring to the tiny hooks used for crocheting with very fine thread. Those hooks can be the culprit for many hand injuries for crocheters, because they are tiny and steel is a very cold conductive metal.

Clover Amour Steel hook

Clover now has 7 different sizes of steel hooks, ranging from Size 0/1.75mm to Size 12/.6mm. I got a Size 8/.9mm to test drive. So I’ll be writing more about these wonderful new hooks very soon.

Thera-glovesSupport Glove

One of the companies that I was excited to see at the show was American Orthopedic Appliance Group with their many styles of “Thera-Gloves”. They were kind enough to share a sample pair of their “Designer Series” gloves with me that I will be doing a more in-depth review of later this summer. They have a variety of styles of therapeutic support gloves that you can see at their website: http://www.thera-glove.com.

Speaking of hands, I’m always looking for lotions to use on my hands. Colorado is a dry climate and my hands tend to really show it.  Back in January I made a trip to Ft. Collins with one of my friends to visit the LambSpun Yarn Shop. They had nifty “lotion bars”.

They looked like soap and it was suggested that you put them in a soap dish as a way to have them available to use. I really like the formulation, but there is no way putting the bar on a soap dish will work at my house. There are boys, dogs, and a cat. Too many opportunities for something undesirable to happen to the lotion bar. Not to mention I am on the go a lot and want to be able to take my lotion with me.

Milk and Honey lotion bar

It was great to find the Milk & Honey products at the show. Davin makes these lovely lotion bars and packages them in a tin that can fit very nicely in my project bag. She had the lotion bars in 3 different scents and I loved how they are molded in a shape. The little tin in the photo is some of her “Anywhere Balm”  that is lavender/mint. This is a great lip balm and is also now living in my project bag.

By the end of Monday at the show both Karen and I were exhausted. Fortunately our flight wasn’t until 8 p.m. that evening. We went back to the hotel and had a late lunch at the restaurant, which revived us a little. Then it was time to retrieve our bags and take a taxi to the airport. As we were doing that we both got messages that our flight was delayed. We were flying out of Indianapolis on the same flight, but Karen would have to switch to another plane in Denver to complete her journey home to Seattle.

Tired but Happy. Selfie of Us at Airport.
Tired but Happy. Selfie of Us at Airport.

We headed off to the airport and decided to see what the airline folks could do about Karen’s flight. She ended up having to take a different route home. So we said good-bye at the airport when it was time for her flight. As it was, we both got to our respective homes very late that night.

The next morning I slept in late and then spent the rest of  the day unpacking from the trip and making lots of notes about my meetings from TNNA. A week later I am still feeling inspired and excited about the yarns and products I saw there.  I’ll let you know more as I test out some products and swatch with the yarns. Looks like I’m going to be even busier this year.

 

 

The Weeks go Marching By

2014 is proving to be a very busy year for me, March (and National Crochet Month) is just around the corner. I have lots of exciting projects going on that I can’t quite reveal yet. Though I can show your my most recently published design.

touchofStyleapr_300_medium

My “Convertible Cardigan” can be found in the April 2014 issue of Crochet World Magazine. This was a cardigan that I made for myself to wear last summer at the TNNA show in Columbus, Ohio.

Of course I picked a hot pink colorway, since this was for my own wardrobe. The editors liked the color so much that they used my original cardigan for the photo shoot. Worked in Tahki Cotton Classic Lite it is a great layer for wearing in air-conditioned venues, though right now on my mountain I can’t really envision a need for air-conditioning.

The sweater is back with me now and if you come to TNNA in May or the Knit & Crochet Show in July you may spot me wearing this cardigan.

Be sure to stop by again often in March. I’ll have lots of fun blog posts to share with all my wonderful readers to celebrate NatCroMo, including a post on the 15th as part of the Crochetville’s 2014 National Crochet Month Designer Blog Tour.

Now That’s A Ball of Yarn!

Back in January, when I went to TNNA in Phoenix, I was very excited to see and touch the yarns being offered by many of the companies at the show.

I was particullarly struck by the “Mohair Mountain” yarn from Universal Yarns.  One reason it caught my eye was that the balls were massive!

Each ball contains 660 yards of wonderfully fluffy yarn.  The colorways are mouth watering and best of all there are long runs of graduating colors which crochet up gorgeously. You can see all the wonderful colors at Universal Yarn website.

Hopefully, I will have some lovely new designs to show you in this yarn this year.