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.

Summer is Flying By

This summer is going so fast, I’ve been traveling for both work and family stuff, so the times at home are super packed with household and work tasks.

We got back from our Lake Huron trip the evening of the 11th and I hit the ground running the next day.

It was Casual Crochet meet-up and the end of our Testing Pool CAL. Everyone that could make it was there to get their photo taken wearing their cowls. A number of these ambitious crocheters had made 2 cowls. Can you tell that the Aqua colorway was very popular?

For naming this cowl I took all the names of my testers and put them in a hat. We drew out a name and this cowl is now known as the “Kellie Cowl”. That’s Kellie at the lower left in the photo.

You can purchase the pattern for this cowl in my Ravelry shop. It comes with detailed stitch charts for the foundation, joins and increase point.

I’m headed out to Chicago for the CGOA Chain Link Conference this week, so this may be a one post week again. We will see how busy it all is there and if I will have a decent internet connection. If you are coming to the conference be sure to say hello. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of my yarnie friends and making new ones.

Getting into the Swing of Things Again

Well, it’s been a bit of a hectic re-entry to life in our “normal” routine. We have had lots of snow and some very cold temperatures since our return, not what one would think of for Spring weather, though fairly typical for our springtime. I had quite a few things scheduled for this week, which would have been fine if I hadn’t had the wild 4 weeks preceding this one. I’m slowly chipping away at the mutant To-Do list though.

One of the best things about coming home from Spring Break was picking up our mail. This nifty little box was waiting for me from my dear friend Bonnie Pierce.

I met Bonnie and her husband Bill at the first ever CGOA conference I went too. She was wearing one of her gorgeous Free Form crochet capes and I practically attacked her to look at it closer. I was completely on my own at that show, but Bonnie and Bill took me under their wing and included me in many of the group events they were involved in.

They even rescued my hook case that I had left laying on the table one afternoon. Bonnie and I chuckle about it every time we get together. But it has been far too long since I last got to spend some in-person time with Bonnie. Fortunately we stay in touch online thru social media and messaging.

Recently Bonnie and I decided we needed to have a piece of each other’s work. These 2 drop-dead gorgeous scrumbles are what Bonnie sent me. I’m so inspired by her work, though a little chagrined at how clunky and chunky my own Free Form efforts look. Bonnie is truly a talent with her Free Form artistry.

She is well known for her bullion stitches. Which she had tried to teach me numerous times with limited success.

This flower with the sparkly embellishment is currently my favorite bit on this scrumble. But every time I look at them I see something that delights me.

When Bonnie and I met in Portland in 2008, one of the things we bonded over was Chocolate. We both have a love of wonderful dark chocolate. She told me about a Portland chocolate company called “Moonstruck” and shared some that she had with her. It is marvelous stuff and whenever I find the brand I purchase a few bars, but it is rather scarce in Colorado.

So it is very fitting that Bonnie included some delicious chocolate in the package too. I’ve got to get my piece finished to send to Bonnie now and will have to hunt down some special Colorado chocolates to include. This might require me attending the Chocolate Festival again, sigh, the sacrifices I make for my friends.

I’ve been busy with working on developing classes since our return from our big trip. This cute little needle-felted sheep is one of them. I’m finding the needle-felting quite addictive, I think the total attention that is required is a great form of meditation. That’s been very good for me as I process everything the last 4 weeks has thrown at me and my family.

I hope you are all having a beautiful springtime. April is looking to be another fast-moving and busy month. I’ll try to keep up with the blog and (fingers crossed) to have some more videos for you very soon.

Congratulations to the Winner

I had meant to get a blog post up yesterday but I was enjoying the day with my boys. We had a nice hike in our neighborhood that included a good chuckle at our neighbors sign on their gate. We had noticed all their chickens running around in the yard first, so the sign was particularly funny to us.

Copyright Karen Whooley – Photo by Anne Podlesak

Sunday evening I pulled all the names for the entries into the drawing for an Ebook copy of Karen Whooley’s beautiful new shawl book “A Garden of Shawls”.

The winner is Judy L. She said she has just started crocheting shawls, so this book will be a great start to her shawl pattern library. Congratulations Judy!

For those of you that didn’t win, you can still order the book on Karen’s website and orders placed before the end of March (and the end of NatCroMo) are entered into a drawing for some gorgeous yarn giveaways. You can find all the links to Karen’s site and read my review of the book (if you missed it the first time round) at this blog post.

I hope you are all having a good start to your week and you’re able to get some crochet time in too.

“A Garden of Shawls” book

Today I’m excited to share a review of a fabulous new book from my friend and colleague, Karen Whooley. As many of my long time visitors know, Karen was my mentor when I got started as a designer 8 years ago. The photo above was one of our first attempts at a “selfie” back at the 2014 CGOA conference in Manchester.

Copyright Karen Whooley – Photo by Anne Podlesak

Karen and I have always shared a love of designing wearables, especially wraps. In her new book “Garden of Shawls” Karen has created 12 beautiful wrap designs worked in lightweight yarns. She has a great eye for creating fun balances of lace work and solid fabric that will have you grabbing your hooks and yarn to get started on these shawls.

I love the lay-out of this book. Each project has stitch charts and super clear schematics as well as concise written instructions. This means you can have a very clear picture from the start of your project to the end about how your shawl should work out.

If you are like me, you likely have been to a fiber festival where you just couldn’t resist purchasing a couple of gorgeous hanks of lace or fingering weight yarn. Karen has designed most of these shawls using 1 or 2 hanks of yarn so you can finally take those lovely hanks out of your stash and turn them into a beautiful wrap that you will wear for years.

I had a hard time deciding which of the 12 Shawls in the book were my favorites. Currently I’m voting for these four…

Photo taken by Anne Podlesak

Breeze – This shawl is the style I associate with Karen the most. She has a knack for end to end construction that creates a lovely border on the one side of each row. You reach the end of the rows and your shawl has a gorgeous border all done. So clever! Many of the wraps in the book use this technique.

Photo taken by Anne Podlesak

Solar – This shawl just struck me with its happy color choices, but even in another color series it would be lovely. The radiating spokes of the top-down construction combined with the eyelets that showcase the “ripple” style patterning are eye-catching and entertaining to crochet.

Photo taken by Anne Podlesak

Drift – Another top-down shawl that uses gradient changing colors for a dramatic border. I love the textural interest Karen created in this shawl by including post stitches.

Photo taken by Anne Podlesak

Ecliptic – a more traditional top-down Triangle shaped shawl with graceful columns of shells ending in a soft scalloped border.

Print copies of this book will become available in Apirl, but you can pre-order your copy. She has a couple of ordering options, you can get an Ebook version only or a print version + a free Ebook. You can place you order here on her website.

Best of all, if you live in the USA  and place an order during the month of March you will be entered into a drawing to win one of these awesome Goodie Bags from Karen. You can find out more about those by clicking here to visit her blog.

I hope you get a chance to check out Karen’s book and that you decide to add it to your library. It is definitely a good investment. If you would like an opportunity to win a complimentary Ebook copy of the book leave your name in the comments on this blog post by Sunday March 19, 8 p.m. Mountain Time and I’ll announce the winner on March 20th here on the blog.

 

More Books and Fiber to Play With

It’s been a busy week since my last post. I’ve been working on 5 different things all at the same time, a couple of them were to do with opening my Etsy Shop.  I have set the 15th of January as my goal for getting my shop open, that is tomorrow. Eek!

I may only have a couple of listings when I open my shop, but I figure you have to start somewhere. Funny thing is, the making items part is actually the easy task. It’s the getting all the information online and figuring out how to do all the listing stuff that slows me down. I’m hopeful that once I’ve gotten some practice listing items on there I will be faster.

Meanwhile there is yarn and fiber stuff happening too. Last night I was getting ready to do reading time with my boys and my husband said, “Oh I forgot, you got a huge box in the mail.” Then he handed me the box.  It was from my friend Pam in New Jersey.

We spoke on the phone a few weeks ago. She was doing some clearing out and she wanted to see if I would like any of the stuff she was getting rid of. At first I said “No” because my own studio needs a serious clear-out. She wasn’t giving up that easy though, and began to tell me about some books she thought I would like.  She also knows I have been doing needle-felting and offered some roving and felting tools that she thought I would find useful. Plus, as she put it, the roving would make good packing material for the books.

new-books

By the end of the conversation I had agreed that the books sounded very interesting. Here they all are: 3 books about crocheting with wire, 1 about wire-wrapping, and the last is any interesting book about Textile Techniques in Metal. She even included a couple of articles from Bead & Button issues that were about crocheting with wire. Very distracting and fun.

big-bag-of-roving

Then there was the colorful bag of roving.

roving-and-hankies

I was expecting wool roving, but Pam included some lovely alpaca and silk as well.

silk-hankies

Look at this beautiful stack of hand-dyed silk hankies. Pam and I have similar tastes in colors, so these just about jumped out of the bag into my hands. I haven’t played with silk in this form before, though I have read about it.

needle-felting-tool

Last of all was a handy Needle-Felting tool from FeltCrafts. This will be very useful when I am working on some of my larger projects.  I’m looking forward to testing it out. Don’t you love the fun little container it came it? It is really nice when one can keep all the sharp things gathered up.

I am very glad that Pam talked me into acquiring these new goodies, now I just have to behave myself and get some of the other stuff on the Mutant To-Do List done before I play with them.

 

Farewell Summer

Today is the official last day of summer on the calendar, though summer has been gone up here on my mountain for quite a while.

rdside-aspens

We have lots of fall color happening, this year we seem to be missing red. Many of our alpine plants that display red foliage in the fall are instead various shades of orange or brick. With all my love of science you would think that I would know why the colors of autumn are different from year to year. Not a chance.

Even without red I am enjoying the changing colors. Our fall color display is very meager compared to what happens in the northeast. Mostly the color change is subtle with the evergreens becoming a darker green and the old needles adding a tinge of rust color before dropping.

aspen-at-home

The aspen trees are gold again, though some of the trees on our property skipped the gold stage and went straight to brown. Others were speckled heavily with dark brown spots. Fortunately for my photography attempts there were a few making a pretty display against the blue sky the other afternoon.

my-new-lens-set

In hopes of improving some of my photographs I bought this set of lens to use with the camera on my phone. The set has 3 different lens, a Fish-eye, wide-angle and macro. The macro lens is actually part of the wide-angle lens. In fact, that has been the only issue I have with the set so far, it’s a bit tricky getting the wide-angle lens attached to the macro lens.

tiny-bag-full-of-lens

They all fix very compactly inside the handy carrying pouch, and it is all small enough that I can put them in my pocket when I am taking photos.

mtnside-reg-lens

I decided to try some of them out yesterday on my way home from “Casual Crochet Wednesday” at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe. I’ve been wanting to get a good photo of a particular section of the mountainside along the road up to my house. These scrubby bushes have been showing some beautiful orange leaves the past week and I knew they would be gone very soon. It was a little over-cast this afternoon, but I had a lot of fun clambering around and taking photos.

fish-eye-mtnside

I used the fish-eye for this shot.

wide-ang-mtnside

This is a similar shot using the wide-angle. You can see how the Fish-eye lens distorted the trees. I don’t have any macro shots for you right now. The macro lens is for really close-up shots, like less than 2cm from the object.

bright-mtnside

This is a shot of the same scene without any additional lens. In many ways I thought the regular lens captured the color of the foliage better.

berocco-vintage-yarn

Once I was back home I got to admire my new yarn purchases. I needed a couple more colors of Berroco “Vintage” for my project I’ve been working away on. I’ll be able to share more about that in a couple of weeks.

ella-rae-seasons

I also got this lovely ball of Ella Rae “Seasons”, this is a fun color changing yarn that you may recognize from my Corner-to-Corner Scarf projects last fall. I worked a couple of samples with it. This ball is destined for a little experiment that is related to the project I’m using the “Vintage” for.  Are you curious now? Don’t worry all will be revealed.

frabjous-fibers-3ft-of-sheep1

Of course, just to give myself a bit of a carrot, I purchased this awesome tube of colorful fiber from Frabjous Fibers out of Vermont. I’ll be using it for needle-felting. Now I have to stay focused on the other projects before I can play with it.

frabjous-fibers-3ft-of-sheep

That might not have been my best plan though. I really want to play with this gorgeous fiber. Each color has lovely tonal changes in it and is going to be perfect worked into some fun sculptural pieces. I’ll be combining this fiber with some of the fiber that I got on my trip to the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair.

Before too long I’ll likely be posting photos of our first snowfall, though I’m really hoping it will wait until October. I hope those of you that have been tormented with extremely hot summers are experiencing some cooler temperatures now. Enjoy the autumn colors, I know I am.