5.28.2015

Inside the Yarn Closet


I have a few random thoughts and happenings to share today.

First, the photo is of my Madelinetosh and Malabrigo drawer in my yarn closet. I don't have a huge selection of yarns from those companies, but some very pretty ones. In the front are fine weight yarns from Madelinetosh. In the back are super bulky colors of Rasta by Malabrigo.

Second, I'll be doing something really exciting later this week, but I'll share after the fact. Can you feel the suspense?!

Third, I started some super simple knit ribbed legwarmers for Princess. I was going to work them in the round, and began to cast on with circulars using the Magic Loop method. I decided that I really don't like using circulars for Magic Loop. I still LOVE my set of circulars and use them for large items in the round as well as in place of straight needles, but I don't like having all those loopy sections of cable hanging out when doing Magic Loop. They bug me! So, I've been looking at dpn sets online and debating buying a set of the little ones, plus some individuals in larger sizes. Do you have dpns that you LOVE? Which ones?

I've actually been taking a breather lately. Once I finished 2 solid months of design work my soul needed a break. Then, when I felt ready to get back to work, my hands decided that they needed a rest. I haven't crocheted much the past couple weeks so that my hands can relax. I'm hoping that they feel ready to get back to work soon, because I am anxious to get lots done!

Any day now I should have 2 new designs to share with you. I can't wait! I really love both of these!

I hope things are going great for all of you!

Happy crafting!

April

5.20.2015

Kewpie Beret

(C)2015 F+W Media
Photo by Harper Point Photography
It's high time for a blog post, don't you think? I finally have the time to blog about the Kewpie Beret. This is in the Spring 2015 issue of Interweave Crochet.

The call for submissions asked for projects with a flash of color on a neutral field. So, this is my take on that idea. This project begins with a two-color spiral in the top center of the beret. It increases as it spirals to make the top of the hat. Once you get the top finished you decrease again and then make the band.

From Crochetme.com:

FINISHED SIZE About 17 1/2 (19 1/2, 21 1/2)" band circumference to fit 18 (20, 22)" head circumference. Hat will stretch to fit bet sizes. Hat shown measures 19 1/2" band circumference.

YARN Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Serenity Sock Weight (50% superwash merino; 25% rayon made from bamboo, 25% nylon; 230 yd [210 m]/1 3/4 oz [50 g]): #5001 soft white (MC), #0406 indigo (CC), 1 skein each.

HOOK Size F/5 (3.75 mm). Adjust hook size if necessary to obtain correct gauge.

NOTIONS 3 locking st markers (m); yarn needle.

GAUGE 5 rnds in patt = 4." diameter at widest point.

This is a pretty quick and easy pattern. What colors will you use for it? As always, please post your finished photos to Ravelry or to my Facebook page! Seeing finished projects from my patterns really makes my day!

Happy crocheting!
April

(C)2015 F+W Media
Photo by Harper Point Photography

3.12.2015

Plymouth Yarn Review


When I went to TNNA in January I spoke to representatives from many yarn companies. One of those was Plymouth Yarn. I spoke with their very nice and friendly design director. She wanted to send me some of their yarns so that I could use them in my swatching up design ideas. I received this box a few weeks later. These yarns are:

(Top left) Gina, a striping 100% Wool yarn that I'd say is worsted weight, but isn't labeled with a size. This would make something really pretty in entrelac or shell stitch because of the striping. It has a nice feel, but not super soft, so I might not make something that will be against my skin with it.

(Top right) Galway Sport, a 100% Highland Wool yarn that is going to be a great staple. I could see making a cardigan with this yarn.

(Bottom left) Linaza, a fine weight Alpaca/Linen/Tencel blend that I really like the feel of! It is a little bit of a halo and some shine to it. I could love this for a lacy top to wear over a tank or camisole. I could also love it as a sweater, shawl, cowl, or scarf.

(Bottom center) Encore, a worsted weight acrylic/wool blend that is going to make another great staple. It can be machine washed and dried, and is pretty soft, so I could love this for a child's sweater, hat, or scarf, or for afghans.

(Bottom right) Nako Baby: Baby Angel, a striping sport weight acrylic. It can be machine washed, but I can't tell by the symbols on the label if it can be machine dried. I'm guessing no. This could make such cute baby sweaters or blankets. I could here the oohs and ahhs at the baby shower if I gave a sweater made in this yarn.

I'm excited to try these yarns out! Have you used any of these? Which ones did you like? What did you like about them?

I hope you're all doing great. I'm buried in work right now, so it was all I could do to surface for a brief blog post.

Happy stitching all!
April

2.19.2015

How Do I Celebrate Valentine's Day?


No bake cookies and a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I made these to surprise my husband and daughters for Valentine's Day. This was really pretty easy and fun. My girls and husband and enjoyed them. Just use your favorite no-bake cookie recipe, I use this one, and press the mixture into the cookie cutter, then scrape off any extra, lift up the cookie cutter, and make another. I used parchment paper underneath so that they would come off easily and not leave my counter messy.

Hope you all enjoyed a lovely and love-filled Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!
April

P.S. - You may have noticed that I've been pretty quiet on the blog since returning from TNNA last month. That's because I'm swamped! I have 8 projects in my queue. I'll try to blog here and there, but it won't be on a regular basis for awhile. I'll miss you all!

1.15.2015

My First TNNA Trade Show


I just returned from my first ever trip to a TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) trade show. I've known for a few years now that this was the industry trade show I wanted to go to and be a part of. I finally joined TNNA a few months ago and was excited to go to this show in Phoenix. Here are some photos of my trip. Above: waiting at the airport to head to Phoenix with a fab crochet accessory on and knitting in my hands.


There were a few "pre-show" events on Friday night. I made it in time for the fashion show. This is the very first piece going down the runway. The orange bag. There were lots of great items. I wish I'd taken photos of a few more of my favorites...but I didn't.


Something went awry with the calendar on my phone when changing time zones. All the times on my calendar changed to an hour earlier. No phone, I just needed the clock to change, not my whole calendar. So, I was VERY early the first morning that the show floor was open. Now, I am one of those types that always likes to be a few minutes early, but not over an hour early!


Of course, one of the great parts was seeing friends I'd met at previous crochet/knit events. I had lunch on Saturday with two of my besties -- Brenda Bourg and Andee Graves, fellow designers. It was so fun to see them!

I also got to meet and talk with Dena of Kreinik, a thread company. Kreinik makes lovely sparkly thread that you can carry along with your yarn to add sparkle to your crochet and knitting. I didn't catch a picture of it, but Dena tweeted a pic of the two of us at their booth.


One of the items in the fashion show that really caught my eye was a cardigan with a pattern of sparkles added to it. The emcee was sure to point out that the sparkles were actually tiny buttons. A crystal in a metal setting with a metal shank. They look like tiny jeweled rings...like doll size. I was fascinated because I'd never heard of these. The next day I found the booth on the show floor for Crystaletts. Not only is the product awesome, but so are the two ladies that I met there, Dorinda and Sharon. Talk about fun gals. I hope to see them again at another show. I got some of these to try out, and I couldn't wait to get home to a skein of red yarn I had. I've already been using them, and I love them! You add them in as you go, much like a bead, but with MORE sparkle! Look forward to sparkly crochet designs to come...


The trade show was in Phoenix. Since my family doesn't live in a desert climate, I've never personally met a cactus taller than I am, nor have my kids. I took this pic to send to them so they could see it.


As I got ready to leave the show floor on Monday I had to snap a pic of the prettiness inside my bag. Now to make lovliness with all these pretties! The magenta is Araucania Nuble a 75/25 Merino/Silk blend. The maroon is Mirasol Miski 100% Baby Llama and softness is, just WOW. The turquoise is Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply, Extrafine Merino Superwash. All three of these skeins are from the lovely folks at Knitting Fever. The dark teal is Sebago from Knit One Crochet Too. It is 100% Australian Superwash Merino, and so soft and lustrous. The large green skein is actually 2 skeins twisted together of Sonoma by Baah yarns. This is 100% Superwash Merino and so squishy and soft.

I haven't gotten to stitching with these yarns just yet, though I have a sketch for one of them. But I can vouch for the fact that they are all soft and delightful. And what's even better, is that the people I met that represent these yarns, are all lovely people as well.


On my way out I snapped one final photo and tweeted "So long!" to the TNNA show.


Phoenix arranged a goodbye party just for me. The decor was lovely, don't you think?

Happy stitching!
April

1.08.2015

Catching Up


Howdy there! I have been busy, busy here. I had a magazine project due on the 5th (Monday). I got it turned in with a few days to spare. Then I had three magazine submissions that I hoped to get in before those deadlines. The package in my mailbox is part of that effort. Those are due by the 12th (next Monday). I'm really thrilled that I was able to get it all done in time.

Today is all about prepping for tomorrow, when I head to the TNNA trade show for the first time. I am very excited! I'm nervous too though! I have to walk a show floor and try to tell lots of people I don't know about how awesome my work is. I'm very excited that the show is in Phoenix, AZ. It is been very cold here in Oklahoma lately. The weather in Phoenix is forecasted to be much warmer, though possibly some rain.

Hope you all enjoy a great weekend!

Happy stitching!
April

1.01.2015

Off Topic: New-ish Hobby for a New Year


It's fun to try new things. This particular "new thing" is not exactly completely new for me, but, well, let's have some back story.

I have liked bread baking for a rather long time now. I can't say that I've done it a lot, but some, and it interests me. I got a bread recipe book many years ago when I was in college. I enjoyed using the recipes from it, and the how-to info in it was very helpful. There were a few recipes for sourdough type breads in this cookbook and that sounded interesting, so I tried making, and taking care of, a sourdough starter. I found that it was demanding to keep up with and that a sourdough starter could expand a lot. I had a hard time finding a good container for it because it kept expanding more than I thought it would.

I finally had a good size container for it, and then one day when it was out on the counter without a lid a fly got in it, and died in it. Ick. That was the end of that.

Fast forward to a few months ago, and a friend told me about a blog called The Bread Geek focused on using natural yeast to make whole grain bread. It sounded pretty awesome to me...yes, I'm a little on the crunchy side. I think the biggest draw for me is that making my own starter and baking bread with it is that it's the yummy mash-up of several things that I like or at least find interesting: baking bread, microbiology (my college major), old-world skills, and natural whole-grain foods. What's not to love?!



I asked for, and received Melissa and Caleb's book, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, for Christmas and spent most of Christmas day reading it. Of course, they suggest, with very good reason, that you start by getting a healthy, active starter from someone else to begin with. But, making my own sounded like a cool microbiology project. I'm completely willing to be patient, and to not get my hopes too high. If making my own doesn't work out, I'm okay with that, but I wanted to try it, just for the fun of it. (I know some of you are thinking, Fun?! Yeah right!). That's just my particular brand of geek.

So, the pic at the top is my starter, which I have named Bennet. This name was inspired by the sour, yet good at heart, character of Mrs. Bennet from the book Pride and Prejudice (yep, love that story). Bennet was born on Christmas Day 2014. So far, so good. I started with whole wheat flour, water, and an organic apple peel. I had bubbles the next day. When I "fed" Bennet for the first time, she began expanding, and nearly doubled her size within 12 hours, which is kind of the next milestone after bubbles. However, since then she is not expanding at all. Not really sure what's up with that. I'm going to see if I can do something to keep Bennet a little warmer tonight and see if that helps her expand overnight.

So, Bennet isn't ready for the big time yet -- making loaves of bread. But, I have to feed her each day, and twice now I've made these 100% whole wheat waffles. The sourdough taste is pretty strong so far, though I think Bennet will likely get more mild as she ages. The waffles are good, and Mr AC likes them as well. Drama Queen has tried them, but isn't crazy about them. The other girls think they look good, but don't care to try them when I explain that whole wheat, sour flavor.

The recipe comes from Melissa and Caleb's book. It's a very easy recipe. Quick as well, which makes it a great way to use starter when I have some to be used up every day.


What new things will you be doing in the new year? I'd love to hear about your great plans!

Happy New Year!

April