Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time Machine Needed

I don't need one to send me backwards or forwards. I need one that will stop time for a while so I can get a handle on all the projects I need to have done by the holidays.

My countdown to Christmas is as follows:
I must give a big shout out to Brenda who volunteered to help with the charity squares. I've sent her a few balls of the free yarn I received from Lands End so I have a few less to make before December 15. Thank you, Brenda!

But today is not a day for crocheting or knitting or anything crafty. Today is a day for cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. And the cleaning will be followed by prepping and cooking for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast.

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Completed Projects: Spider Doilies

As part of an October craft swap with friends, I made a trio of doilies to sit under votive candle holders.

Unfortunately, the photos of the doilies aren't great (poor lighting) and I took them before I attached cute little spider embellishments. I completely forgot to take photos of the candle holders until the packages were on their way across the country.

Spider Web Doily 03

As always, details on Ravelry.

The changes I made from the original pattern are that I stopped after round 10 and modified round 11 to make it the last round. I also used a thicker thread (size 3 instead of 10) not on purpose, but because I picked up the wrong size at the store. I'm still happy with the results but would use the thinner thread in the future.

I received for the swap some ever so lovely knitted goodies from Perches and a wonderful package of holiday cheer from the Queen. If I had more free time, I'd participate in more swaps like this. But for now, there's barely time to finish the projects currently underway and those currently on the to-do list. And there are too many on both lists!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Completed Project: Blueberry Hat #2

I was particularly fortunate to have a stash of completed baby hats on hand when I found out about a new coworker who is expecting twins - a boy and girl. With no time to make blankets, hats were the answer.

I had both a blue and a red hat completed previously but they had different tops. Not because anyone would have cared and not because anyone would have said something - but because I had a problem with the difference, I had to have a matching pair. So I quickly cast on for another blue hat.

Baby Berry Hat 2 a

Baby Berry Hat 2 c

As always, details on Ravelry.

They were a big hit for both Dad and Mom as well as with my coworkers. And the babies should be arriving any day now!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I've been quite crafty but no time to post. Here is at least a couple of cute shots of Seamus in his Halloween costume.

Seamus Halloween 2010 1

How did I get him to sit still and not try to rip off the costume? Cookies. And the photo below shows how he was eagerly waiting to eat them.

Seamus Halloween 2010 2

Hope everyone has a great Halloween!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rainbows on the Horizon

I've finally decided on patterns, colors and yarns for two baby blankets I need to complete before the new year. One baby is due any day now and the other is due in January. Neither set of parents will know the gender of the baby until his or her actual birthday. So - I've decided to make both blankets with rainbow colors.

One will be the baby ripple afghan and the other will be a baby ripple blanket. I ordered a variety of colors of Lion Brand Cotton Ease from Knitting Warehouse. Not sure which baby will get each blanket. I'm hoping it will come to me when I get the yarn and decide which blanket to start first.

Do you have anything on your hooks and needles for new arrivals?

Monday, October 18, 2010


Where has the time gone??? And how do I get some of it back so I can finish all this craftiness?

The craft swap is due this week, I've got double checking to do on my crochet Masters course, I've got 2 baby blankets to start and complete, 3 large afghans to finish, and ~50 squares for charity.

Yes, the yarn from Lands End arrived and it is a beautiful shade of red. It is so soft that I can't understand why Lands End doesn't sell it. I would seriously make every baby blanket out of it.

But there is a LOT of this beautiful yarn to be made in to a LOT of squres. And I've only made 1 1/2 squares so far due to the other projects that I have. So - if you're interested in making a few 7" x 9" squares - knitted or crocheted - I'm happy to send you some yarn.

The only requirements are

1) the squares must be completed by Dec. 15,

2) you'll be responsible for mailing them by this date to the donation address,

3) shipping for donation is your cost, and

4) you'll let me know when you've completed everything.

If you're interested, send me an email at onhooksandneedles (at) verizon (dot) net. Include your name and address and how many squares you can commit to. I'll then ball up some of the yarn and ship it to you (at my cost).

Any takers?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pattern Featured!

My pot holders pattern is featured at the Daily Crocheter!

Or click here to go straight to the pattern:

Or, if you want the free PDF version, get it at Ravelry:

Greetings to all of you who came to my blog via that link. And thanks to the Daily Crocheter for featuring me!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Fantastic Find at the Festival

Another trip to the Maryland Renaissance Festival yielded a terrific find - a hand-made knitting bowl!

Knitting Bowl 1
Knitting Bowl 3
Knitting Bowl 2

This beautiful pottery is from Dancing Pig Pottery. Keep an eye out for the Etsy shop to reopen to get yourself one of these great knitting bowls or the other fabulous pottery she creates.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When It Rains, Turn on the Sprinklers

I have a long list of projects to finish between now and January. The craft swap stuff is going well and I'm doing pretty good on the blankets. But then there are two baby blankets to be made (for babies due in October and January), a lingering blanket that must be done by Christmas, and a pair of socks that I had hoped to make by Christmas, too.

Oh, and I need to finish the Crochet Masters Course in the next week.

So what do I go and do?

I sign up to receive yarn from Lands End for the "Warm Up America" project. I've got to crochet 51 squares by December 1!


And that's after the yarn shows up!

But it is for a great cause and it will be a true donation to charity once I get the squares mailed in. You remember the hats I took out to donate? Yeah - they are still sitting on my shelf, waiting for an envelope.

If you're interested in making squares, check out the "Warm Up America" site for details. You can knit or crochet the squares using acrylic yarn. And you don't have to commit to 51 squares like I did.

If you are a CGOA member, check your email for information on how to sign up and receive yarn to make the squares. It's a 51 square commitment per cone of yarn requested but you can spread the work around with your guild or group members.

Wish me luck! I'll need it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Lovely Weekend

Two more off the list - I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which given the multiple artisans at the festival, I'm counting this as a craft fair, and I finally tried tai chi.

The festival was awesome as always. I bought some beautifully crafted leather goods from Holy Cow (a great name, don't you think?) - a belt and pouch for my festival garb. (Sorry, no photo at the moment.) While the little pouch will hold my wallet and phone, I'll have to find or create another bag in which to hold my crocheting/knitting. There were many times during the day I wished I had brought a small project on which to work. Those were times when there wasn't a frosty ale or giant turkey leg in my hand. :)

I had my first - and what will be my last - tai chi class on Saturday. The instructor's teaching style just doesn't meld with my learning style so I'm going to get a partial refund while I can and try to invest in a good tai chi DVD. All in all, not a failure as I did find out that I would enjoy learning tai chi, just not from this particular instructor.

My hooks were also quite busy last week and through the weekend. The secret projects for the craft swap are well underway and I am actually hopeful that I'll be done in plenty of time to mail them to the recipients.

Oops...I hope these are not famous last words and I'm forced to stay up all night, multiple nights, to complete the projects. It wouldn't be the first time I've procrastinated to the last possible minute.

Speaking of procrastination, I'm still far behind in completing my crochet Masters course. But really, I work best with an unrealistic deadline for such things. This weekend looks like it will be my self-imposed final, final, FINAL deadline to get my rear in gear and complete it.

How lovely was your weekend?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Completed Projects: Two Knitted Baby Hats

Two for Tuesday - two completed projects from the last couple of weeks.

The first hat is similar to the blue hat I recently completed, but I did use a different pattern. You'll see there is colorwork done to make the green part look more like leaves.

Red Berry Hat 1

As always, details on Ravelry.

This was my first ever attempt at colorwork with knitting, beyond the basic color changing. I had a number of twisted stitches to correct as I was trying to carry the yarn behind the color I was working with. I'm not sure if this an issue only for continental knitters or not. I did get the hang of it, but there were a few twisted stitches that made it through (don't look too close and it's fine).

The second hat was completed in record time for me. I started it during my morning commute on a Wednesday and completed it during my commute home the next day.

Multicolored Knit Hat 1

As always, details on Ravelry.

I absolutely LOVE the way this yarn works up. The colors and self-patterning are great. I'm tempted to get another few skeins of this in order to knit up a matching baby sweater.

But first, I must complete some other top-secret projects before my October craft swap. This also means that there probably won't be many (if any) completed project posts put here on the blog since the main readers are members of the swap. Maybe I can get away with a few 'sneak peek' photos?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hats and Sox

Another item crossed off on my Year of Lovely Things list - Sean and I went to an evening game at Camden Yards to see the Red Sox take on the Orioles. Even with the number of Sox players on the DL, it was an excellent outing. I managed to get only a few funny looks as I worked on another baby hat.

Sox and Hat 2

This hat isn't for anyone in particular. I just needed a small project to take with me on my commute. I should have selected a pair of socks to work on (still 2 more to complete in order to cross it off my crafty resolutions list) but the last two hats knit up so quickly, that I was looking for some more instant (or at least quick) gratification.

This hat will differ slightly from the blue version I just finished. That hat used the umbilical cord hat pattern from Stitch n' Bitch and for this red version I'm using the Berry Hat pattern (can be found here). This pattern is also super easy - only minor counting and color changing involved when you get to the last few rows. Otherwise it is just knit, knit, knit all around. Less likely to lose your place when you have to look out for foul balls heading your way.

What has been your experience with knitting or crocheting in public? Good, bad, indifferent?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Completed Project: Berry Baby Hat

Started on vacation and completed in just four days...

Berry Baby Hat - Blue 01

As always, details on Ravelry.

This yarn was purchased at the 2010 Knit and Crochet Show. I'm still debating whether or not to add a leaf or two to the top. I might but it will be whenever I get around to it. This hat doesn't have a recipient in mind yet - but I'm sure that it will soon enough. I'm thinking it may be perfect for my friend due in November. A lot of us (including the Mom) think it will be a boy - but maybe I'll make a red one just in case it's a girl.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shore Living

To celebrate my DH's birthday, we headed to the Eastern shore for a few nights. Staying in our favorite town, St. Michaels, we were able to really enjoy our time there. Past visits were only day trips that always seemed to end too soon. Not this time - this time we were able to see and do all the things we wanted to over a few relaxing days. We went to the maritime museum, the St. Michaels museum, wine tasting, a cruise on the Miles River for long afternoon ride, lunches and dinners at so many wonderful places, and great accommodations at the B&B.

And knitting - lots of knitting...

at the winery...

on the boat...

at dinner...

and (though not pictured) in the room and at the LYS sit and knit.

The sit and knit took place at Frivolous Fibers on Sunday afternoon. I had such a wonderful time meeting the new owners and the local crafters. It was a welcoming group that made the two hours I spent there fly by.

Before I worked on the new baby hat, I first finished the fourth ocean waves baby blanket. (Not before I left for the weekend, as I had hoped, but at least now it is finished.)

Ocean Waves 4 01

As always, details on Ravelry.

In total, this is three more items off my list for a Year of Lovely Things - spend a weekend in St. Michaels, go wine tasting, and go to a knitting/crocheting group.

I hope you had a lovely weekend, too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

So Close...

I almost had the baby blanket done yesterday. I was rounding the border at warp speed until I realized the count was off for the final border round I had planned. Some stitch counting, math calculations, and a couple of added stitches resulted in a revised border. It's looking good, but I'm only at the beginning.

Will I finish the baby blanket tonight before vacation? Any bets? I do hope I finish it because I'd like to bring a smaller, more travel-ready project with me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time Traveling

How did it ever become the middle of August so quickly? The last month or so has flown by at warp speed. I have gotten so little done on my perpetual to-do list. Books to read, courses to finish, plans to be made so that tasks can be completed. I really must find time this week to sit down and plan out the rest of the year. The project deadlines are approaching quickly and I must get a handle on things.

One baby blanket must be done by Labor Day so I can send it home with Auntie K who will be hosting the baby shower. Saving on shipping is always a motivator for finishing a project. If I'm true to my name, "Crochets Like the Wind" (bequeathed upon me by the Queen), I may be able to finish the blanket and find time to knit a hat, too.

I also need to finish the crocheting Masters Course by the end of August. I technically have until the end of September to finish it, but with the other projects, I want to have my portfolio completed and submitted sooner rather than later. I'm very much enjoying the swatch making so it will not be an issues of finding the motivation to complete it.

The other three big blankets must be done by mid-October. Again - another motivation for finishing is to save on shipping. The blankets will arrive with our little craft swap project celebrating the Celtic New Year. The craft projects will also need to be done by mid-October - so this means I need to figure out exactly what I'm going to be making. No specific details will be posted here as some of my frequent readers are the recipients.

If the above mentioned projects get completed, that will leave just 3 projects left moving towards the holidays. One baby blanket for a baby due in October (I'm waiting to see if it's a boy or girl before I make the blanket), one big girl blanket in bright rainbow shades, and one pair of socks for a dear friend whose blood has not yet thickened up for the cold Buffalo winters.

Note: I am not avoiding the possibilities that a) more prego friends will pop up requiring more baby blankets to be made, or b) I will get antsy to start something new (or finish something already started) for myself and that project (or projects) will sneak its way into the mix.

What are on your hooks and needles for the rest of the year? Is your list energizing or daunting?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I just had to share this - I laughed so hard watching it.

Now I'm off to learn more about Pringle of Scotland (don't be mad that I don't know much about it...yet!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

It's hot.

It's really hot.

It's sweltering and disgusting with the temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the heat index off the charts, and the high humidity.

It's so hot that I can't get cold water from the tap. It's cool at best.

It's so hot my breakfast bar melted in my bag on the way to work.

It's so's just too freakin' hot!

The heat is affecting my brain. I can't concentrate. I'm moving from project to project, doing little bits on this one and then little bits on another. I attempted to start a newborn hat, frogging it 3 times until I just gave up.

So it may be some time before I have another completed project posted. I'm hoping by the end of August to have at least one or two things completed. But if this heat keeps up, all bets are off.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

When Eight Isn't Enough

I've got eight different projects going right now. EIGHT! And I feel like I need to start another one...or three.

What the heck is wrong with me??? It must be the time of year - the anticipation of autumn and cooler weather affects me like it affects most people in the spring. I'm ready for new things, new projects, new adventures!

But out of those 8 projects are two that must be completed in October and four to be completed for Christmas. I'm going to have to find a way to focus.

Who am I kidding? You know there is going to be a ninth project soon enough on either a hook or pair of needles. :)

What projects are on your hooks and needles?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Four Out of Five Ain't Bad

My weekend was lovely and I was able to do most of the items on my list.

donate to charity
I found the two hats I wanted to donate to charity. They will be going in the mail this week.

send snail mail letters
Written, stamped and sent. Email is great for quick communication but there is something special about handwritten letters on pretty stationary.

try tai chi
This is the one that didn't happen. I had every intention of trying out a DVD I bought a long time ago - but it sat in the drawer while I sat on the couch crocheting (which was also a lovely activity in which to participate).

sit on the balcony, stare at the stars, and drink some wine
I did sit on the balcony with a glass of wine and Seamus on my lap. Unfortunately, the clouds had other plans and decided that stars would not be visible that evening. It was still a lovely way to spend some time relaxing.

make lasagna
Done and DELICIOUS! I made my own sauce for the lasagna which turned out really well considering I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I looked at a few recipes to get the basics down and tried to remember how my mother-in-law makes her sauce. I attempted to write down the recipe...but looking at my notes, I know I did and added a bunch of stuff that isn't written down.


I was able to harvest lots of herbs from my balcony garden. Here are chives, parsley, basil and thyme. (Harvesting was ever so appropriate for August 1, eh?)

Fresh Herbs 2

Lots of chopping later, half the fresh herbs were stirred into the sauce (at the end of cooking) and the other half was added to the spinach-ricotta filling of the lasagna.

Assembled and baked....


The finished dish?

It is as delicious as it looks.


I had a great time cooking and I was reminded just how delicious homemade dinner is compared to most take out and frozen dinners from the grocery store. Considering what a large dish of lasagna I made and the fact that Sean doesn't eat lasagna, this will be my dinner for the next week or so. I'm not complaining, though!

Did you have a lovely weekend?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weekend Plans

It's looking like it will be quite a lovely weekend. Not weather wise - the hot and humid is still lingering - but lovely activities are on the agenda.

donate to charity

send snail mail letters

try Tai-chi

make lasagna

sit on the balcony, stare at the stars and drink some wine

Sounds absolutely lovely.

What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Survival of the Fittest

While vacation was good for me, it was not as good for my plants.

I was able to bring my herbs inside as they are in pots and easily moved. Besides the soil being a little dry and having grown toward the window, they were fine.

After vacation

My container of plants grown from seeds and the beautiful red, white and purple container I planted had to stay on the balcony. In the planted seeds container, the flowers died off but the leaves were still green.

The soil was bone dry - so dry that when I first watered it, the water passed right through without absorbing much at all. Then it rained that evening. And it stormed. And the lack of proper drainage from the roof resulted in a waterfall of water on the container.

Good news - the plants survived and were thoroughly watered.

The colorful container? amount of water or rain was going to fix it. It went from looking like this when I planted it...

Flowers in the Hanging Container 2 looking like this when I got home from vacation.

After Vacation Container

Depressing. I think I am going to make a trip over to the nursery this weekend to see if I can find some pretty new flowers. Suggestions?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mid-year Review: 2010 Crafty Resolutions

Time to check my progress and update some items on my 2010 Crafty Resolution list.

1) Catalog all current UFOs from past years - decide what to frog, what to finish and what to throw out

This happened - yay! - so now all that I have on my hooks and needles are current, going-to-be-finished projects. The only downside is that there are soooo many going-to-be-finished projects for the rest of the year.

Let's see what will and will not get done this year as planned and what has been added to the list.

2) Projects for 2010:
This probably isn't going to happen in 2010 given the other projects I'm working on. But I'm still very happy to have kit.
  • Three baby blankets using the same pattern but different color combinations
Completed! See 1, 2 and 3. I've even started a fourth baby blanket with the same pattern.
Added to the list are blankets for the Mistress and for Perches. (I know, Perches, you wanted socks. But you so coveted the blanket at MS&W that I'm making you your own. You can have socks next year.) All three blankets are started and underway. I knew I'd have to make them at the same time, adding only 1 or 2 skeins per blanket then switching to another blanket so that I didn't finish one and then not want to work on the others.
It went from being a gift for her summer birthday to being a gift for Christmas. I should be able to get it done.
  • Make at least 3 pairs of socks
One pair is done - the blue socks for Sean. I've got plans for two other pairs, one as a Christmas gift and one for myself. I've got hope for both pairs since the blankets I'm making will be too large to take with me during my commute. The sock projects are much more portable.


3) Get serious about starting side business, to include:
  • Create own web site
I changed the blog address to reflect the new name. I decided against having to pay for a domain name right now given the free stuff out there, like Blogger.
  • Get a business plan in order
Planned, written, and working on it.

  • Open an Etsy shop
  • Create some inventory for the shop
Opened but nothing in there at the moment. I doubt I'll have anything there by the end of the year.
  • Add new patterns to my Ravelry shop
While I've jotted down a bunch of ideas, new patterns have not yet been written.
The Sheep and Shenanigans shirts do count - though they were made for me to buy. I'm sure I can come up with a few ideas to add before the end of the year.

4) Join the crochet guild or knitting guild or something

In March, I joined the CGOA. I'm planning to join the knitting guild in the next couple of years after I get my crochet career on track.


5) Fiber Traveling
  • Go to MS&W 2010
Awesome, as always.

  • Go to another fiber festival besides MS&W. Virginia? Rhinebeck? Stitches?
This one is still up in the air. Perches - when is the festival near your house?

  • Check out TNNA (if I can)
I found out I could not attend since I was not a professional. But - I just applied to become an associate crochet professional through CGOA. I'm hoping this will be my ticket to be able to attend TNNA next year.

Done and done. And I can't wait to go again next year.


6) Take a crafty class - cake decorating (final class), sewing, knitting, spinning, painting, sculpture - something! Could also count if I take a class at an LYS or at a conference

My attendance at the Professional Development Day could count toward this. I'll mark it off twice by completing the CGOA Masters Course, which I hope to finish by the end of August.

I am very happy with my resolution progress to date! I'm also very excited at what the rest of the year will bring. How is your year coming along? Please share your triumphs and successes in the comments.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Knit and Crochet Show - Part Deux

After the excitement of Professional Development Day, I had a couple days with family events before I returned to the show on Saturday. My sister-in-law came with me and I was excited for her as it was her first time at a fiber event. Neither of us had signed up for classes but we did find plenty to do as we made our way through the exhibit floor.

I won't give you a complete review of all the booths - you can find the full listing here - but I will tell you I found plenty to ooh and ahh over, and even plenty to buy. I got some wonderful Lerke yarn from Dale of Norway - perfect to make a few fruity baby hats. I bought a new umbrella - sheeptacular design - as well as size 8 16" Tulip circular needles for a second Marsan hat (if I decide to make another).

Knit Crochet Show Haul

The blue yarn pictured is from Tess' Designer Yarns in Portland, Maine and it will eventually belong to my SIL. She was so in love with the yarn when she saw it - but she thought it would be better to get a number of small, fun things than just one skein of yarn. So I offered to get it for her as a Christmas present and she accepted. She won't get to have it until Christmas, but at least I know I'll be giving her something she really wants and will truly enjoy.

I did let her continue to fondle it when we were sitting in the lobby looking over our purchases. I didn't have a project with me (long story - brought the wrong yarn with me for a current project) so I offered to wind up a skein of hand-dyed alpaca she bought from Nightingale Fibers. We had shared a table at lunch with the owner's sister who was helping her with the booth. She has the most beautiful yarns and she even names the yarns after the alpacas. As I was winding my SIL's yarn, and staring at the skein of blue yarn from Tess', I was starting to have some major yarn envy. The beautiful hand-dyed colors....the soft feel of the yarn....the potential!

I was trying to be ever so good with my yarn diet, just getting those few skeins of Lerke for projects I knew I could make...

But that nagging, biting feeling would not subside. Daydreams of knitting with the fabulous fibers would not leave my head. The thought of going home without it was too much to handle...

Back to the market we went where I bought a skein of silk from Tess' and a skein of beautiful baby alpaca yarn from Nightingale.

And then, I felt better.

Hello, my name is Samantha and I'm a yarn addict.

Tess Cascade Silk Ivory

Nightingale Baby Alpaca Cocoa 2

The top photo is Tess' Cascade - a 100% silk yarn. Divine! The bottom photo is of Nightingale's Lilian - an 80% baby alpaca, 20% silk yarn. I can't find words to describe the soft luxuriousness of this yarn. The color is gorgeous with subtle purple hues mixed with the cocoa brown shades.

With my yarn appetite fed, it was time for the CGOA Member Dinner, Fashion Show and Silent Auction. My SIL and I were so happy to get to sit with Jean, Rita and Marty again (as we did at lunch the day before). Also sitting at our table was -- seriously, I'm not making this up -- the Editor of Interweave Crochet magazine, Marcy Smith and Vashti Braha!

There was good food and great conversation. There were favors, too - a Tulip hook, Country yarn from Caron, Adirondack buttons, free patterns and other booklets of information about crocheting. The fashion show was amazing! I don't have very good photos from where I was sitting, so I suggest you check out the fashion show winners listed on the CGOA blog. Both my SIL and I won door prizes - she received some more Caron yarn and I received none other than a pattern book by Jean and Rita! I did make them both sign it for me.

At the end of the evening, it was thank yous, hugs and good-byes. As on Wednesday, my mind was buzzing with ideas. Sleep would not come quickly that night, which proved to be a bit annoying for a 7:00 am departure home on Sunday. But it was worth it - all that I learned and experienced, the wonderful people I met, the new opportunities I see ahead of me.

It took a few days until I was able to fully digest all that happened, thus this posting was not immediately written. My attendance at the conference renewed my hopes of making a career out of crocheting and knitting. It won't happen overnight, but the foundation has been laid and I'm starting to build my dream.

None of this would have been possible had it not been for the CGOA, the Professional Development Day program and the buddy program for new attendees. There is also so many thanks and hugs to pass around to all the amazing crocheters - professional and enthusiast - who shared their time, knowledge and kindness with me. I also need to thank my husband, Sean, for agreeing to make our summer vacation the trip to New England so I could attend the conference.

To everyone - Thank you! A million times, thank you!

CGOA Dinner and Fashion Show 2010 - Marty Miller, Jean Leinhauser, Rita Weiss and Samantha Farrell

Thursday, July 15, 2010

CGOA Professional Development Day

The bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, and I've even sorted through most of my materials and purchases from the 2010 Knit and Crochet Show I attended last week. This was my first time at the conference and though I did have a buddy assigned to me who told me a bit about the event, I didn't know exactly what to expect.

I am happy to report that the experience greatly exceeded my expectations!

I got to meet such incredible people, from well known designers and publishers to aspiring crochet professionals to people who just love to crochet and knit. It was inspirational and energizing for me - dare I say it - life changing. It gave me hope that I can make some kind of career out of my crafty endeavors.

My adventure started on Wednesday at the Crochet Guild of America's (CGOA) Professional Development Day (PDD). After speeding up to Manchester in the morning (keeping an eye out for troopers), I entered the ballroom to find a place to sit. Circular tables were spread throughout the room, tables of door and raffle prizes were in view, and refreshments were provided. But the main thing I noticed was the energy in the air. People were smiling and chatting, saying hello to old friends, greeting new ones, commenting on others' handcrafted garments. It was an electric chatter of joy and fun weaving throughout the room. I found a table near the coffee (always a great place to sit) and before I knew it, I was meeting new people and feeling right at home. I introduced myself to some ladies at the table and lo and behold, who am I sitting next to but Edie Eckman!

The program began with information from Robin Chachula, followed by an inspirational presentation by Kristin Omdahl. Lion Brand then took the floor to do a marketing piece - which was fine to do considering they sponsored the day. I'm more than happy to sit through a half hour commercial about yarns that I love in exchange for free coffee. They let us check out their new line of luxury yarns (only available now via online order or in the Lion Brand Studio in NYC), and gave us free hooks and yarn to make charity squares. The morning ended with a presentation by Lily Chin, a tour-de-force in the design world with a NY attitude and personality I adore.

Lunch was next - which for hotel food wasn't bad. I had finally met up with my conference buddy who was - you won't believe this! - Jean Leinhauser. Go ahead - go Google that name if you don't know who she is. Or check Amazon for the many, many books she's written and published. She was there with her good friend and business partner, Rita Weiss, another legend in the business. Then sits down Marty Miller, the current CGOA President. You can imagine how exciting this was!

After lunch, it was time for smaller workgroups. Eight different workgroups were presented and attendees could choose to go to three of them. The three I attended were
- Ellen Gormley: The Business of Crochet (click here for proof I was there)
- Susan Lowman: Contract Crocheting (From an Editor/Designer's Perspective)
- Edie Eckman: Designing for Publication

After three hours of tons of helpful information, my brain was buzzing with ideas and excitement. I had pages full of notes, extremely helpful handouts from the teachers, and a couple of charity squares to donate. The day also resulted in over $1000 being raised for lyme disease research.

Why no more details than this? Because there isn't enough time in the day for me to write in all the details of everything I learned from the presentations, workshops and people I met. You'll just have to find the opportunity to check out PDD for yourself at next year's conference which will be taking place in Minneapolis at the end of July. I know I'll be there.

Stay tuned ... adventures from Saturday's shopping and the CGOA dinner and fashion show are up next.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Completed Project: Hat for Uncle Bobby

I finished this project inbetween my days at the CGOA conference. I'm not quite sure why my hat looks so different from the photo in the pattern and on Ravelry.

Marsen Hat

Marsen Hat Top

My hat didn't end up with the distinct decreases leading up to the top, instead looking like sloppy seams. Was I supposed to actually SSK or just K2tog through the back loop to make the stitches twist? Was I supposed to SSK everytime or SSP when I came to a purled stitch? If you've made the hat and have some answers, I'm all ears - especially before I try to make this hat again.

As always, details on Ravelry.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Beginnings


That's a small word for all that happened over two days at the Knit and Crochet Show last week in Manchester, NH. I really think it was a life and career changing event for me. From the amazing people I met to the new doors of opportunity that were opened, there is so much that happened.

Alas, there is so much laundry to do from a week long vacation, not to mention the other mundane tasks of everyday life that must be first attended to before anything knit and crochet related. Boring, I know - but also necessary.

Stay tuned this week for posts about the conference including the wonderful people I met and the amazing yarn purchases I made. The most gorgeous hand-dyed baby alpaca yarn ever!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Counting Down the Hours

It begins this time tomorrow...The Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, NH. I cannot wait! My bag is packed, my notebook in order, the location programmed in the GPS - I'm ready!

Hopefully I'll have a post or two up by Monday next week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Just an FYI that I've set up a page on Facebook for ye olde "On Hooks and Needles". If you're plugged into Facebook and want to publicly declare that you like me (you really, really like me!) then click this link and hit the "Like" button. The status updates on Facebook will feed directly into Twitter (to follow me there, click here for OnHooksNeedles).

Not yet quite sure if my foray into social networking from a crafty business perspective will work out but it is worth a shot. :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On the Rebound

My fears for my little herb garden have been replaced with joy!

The herbs have taken off since I transplanted them - compare the before photo to these!

Herb Garden Looking Good

The thyme and basil are doing the best so far. In fact, I even used some basil and thyme in my cooking over the weekend.

Thyme and Basil

And the recently transplanted basil has surpassed the basil that used to look promising. It is a wonder what some more space and new soil can do!

Basil v. Basil

The one on the right was transplanted into two smaller containers. I'm hoping to give them as gifts if the plants rebound as well as the pot on the left.

There was rebounding in the flower container, too! Compare this before photo with the surprises below - Johnny Jump Ups!!! (and to answer C's question, yes I planted them because of Mom)

Johnny Jump Ups

The rest of the greenery has perked up and another Nasturtium flower bloomed.
Johnny Jump Ups

Hope renewed in my gardening abilities!

Snail Mail

These are in the mail to three special friends.


The postcard images are fun and thus allow me to cross another item off my Year of Lovely Things list. The messages on the other side are quotes that I came across while reading over the weekend. It was funny how each one distinctly seemed to be for each friend.

We'll see if I was right once the postcards are received.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I See Ewe

I saw these at Joann Fabrics when buttons were 50% off. I just had to have them!

Sheep Buttons 2

One has been attached to my crocheted purse which I will be bringing with me to the CGOA conference next week. It is a tiny little decoration but a cute one.

With Sheep Button

UFOs and Frogs

The number one item on my list of crafty resolutions for 2010 is to catalog all current UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) from past years - decide what to frog, what to finish and what to throw out.

I started this when I bought the new cabinets for the craft room and I had to go through all my yarn to find out what I had and whether it had been logged into Ravelry. My stash is mostly up to date on Ravelry though some of the amounts are wrong (since I have no idea of the exact amount left after projects) and there are a few basketfuls of odds and ends and random yarns not worth inventorying.

With this completed, I can now take a look at the UFOs lingering in the shadows.

First off, I have 6 current projects in Ravelry - four blankets (1, 2, 3 and 4), a hat, and a shawl. These are all in progress and slated to be finished this year.

I have 3 hibernating projects in Ravelry - a crocheted block quilt, a flower afghan and the infamous BUBBLES bubbles scarf.

The crocheted block quilt was started back in 2007 though I could have sworn I started it before then. It's a really neat pattern to make a large quilt out of little crocheted blocks. I have this handful of blocks I made but that has been the extent of it since 2007.

Ohio Variant 01

While I do still love the pattern, I don't really have any desire to come back to these squares or this yarn to complete it. So - the decision is -


Maybe I can use the yarn to make Christmas stockings?

The flower afghan was started with some leftover baby blanet yarn. The little flower motifs are so cute and easy to make. I've got a sizeable stack of them.

Flowers 01

But I haven't made one of these flower motifs in a couple of years and I don't feel motivated to make more right now. I definitely won't frog them as it would only amount to little pieces of yarn. But should I throw them out? Or find a way to repurpose them? Are they worth keeping, tucked away in the cabinet for some project in the future? Your comments/suggestions are appreciated.

And that damn BUBBLES bubbles scarf. It was a wrap at first and then a scarf. I have NO DESIRE WHATSOEVER to pick up this project and work with it again. The yarn is even driving me crazy and I so do love Brooks Farm Yarn. But sometimes you just need to let go - and that is just what I think I need to do with this project. The decision -


- and put the yarn up for sale/trade on Ravelry so that someone will be able to realize its true purpose and bring out its true beauty.

Any UFOs lurking around your house?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Completed Project: Crocheted Netbook Case

The Knit and Crochet Show is less than two weeks away. In preparation, I was thinking what crocheted and/or knitted items I should bring with me. There is usually plenty of oohing and aahing that goes on at these conferences as participants check out what everyone else has made. It's nice to have other crafters appreciate the time and craftwomanship that goes into a finished crocheted or knitted project.

I knew I'd be bringing my crocheted purse with me, though it will be inside my shameless-self-promotion bag. I thought about making a shawl but that would be too much to accomplish in just a few weeks. Since I knew I'd be bringing my netbook to take notes and look up information onsite, I thought a cover would be a quick and easy project to accomplish.

After playing with a few ideas of how I wanted the case to look and function, I thought about incorporating some granny squares. At first, it was going to be all granny squares pieced together. Then I thought I could use the three granny squares as the flap of the case, having the buttons come through the middle. But that morphed into a band of granny squares in the middle of the case with a flap and buttons accented in the same colors as the squares.


Crocheted Netbook Case 01

Crocheted Netbook Case 02

Crocheted Netbook Case 03

Besides using part of the granny square pattern (only 4 rounds of the possible 7), the rest of the case was improvised as I went along. My squares seemed a bit wonky when I attached them together so I did a DC/HDC/SC pattern to straighten things out on top and bottom. That worked a little bit but it's still a little funky. I also did a lot of crocheting in the backloop of stitches to get those fun lines to show up.

The bright colored yarn is acrylic and the ecru colored yarn is cotton. I should have used a larger hook for the blue and orange acrylic which may have lessened the mega-wonkiness of the flap.

Crocheted Netbook Case 04

Shoulda, coulda, woulda - I didn't. So I'm living with it since it is just for my use.

I thought about lining the bag and purchased two colors of fabric - blue to show through the crocheted stitches and squares on the outside and a bright fun yellow and orange pattern for the inside. But as I am not 100% happy with the completed project, I'll save the fabric for another project.

Crocheted Netbook Case 05


Purchased at this year's MS&W, it is now framed and hung up in the craft room. I love it!

Craft Room with New Photo

"Beside Still Waters" by Conni Togel

Monday, June 21, 2010

Currently On the Hook and Needles

As I mentioned before, I have a couple of projects I need to finish before the Knit and Crochet show taking place in a couple weeks.

First is a case for my netbook (a mini-laptop). I've been playing with some design ideas and color schemes. Besides using part of a wonderful granny square pattern, the overall pattern for the netbook is being improvised as I go. I picked up some buttons and some fabric this weekend for closures and lining the case. I'm still not quite sure how it will all work out so I'm delaying photos until then.

Another project is to finish a hat for Sean's uncle who for Christmas had given me a gift card to an LYS (see review here). I was originially going to use the raspberry skein I purchased at the store but I instead decided to first try the pattern using the blue skein of Lamb's Pride that Perches gifted to me. So far, the hat is looking good though I'm very afraid that it will be too small. Perhaps that is because it looks smaller on DPNs than it would on circulars. Once it is completed, I'll have Sean try it on for size and if it does indeed fit, I'll go ahead and make another hat using the raspberry skein.

Will both hats be done in two weeks? Plus the netbook case?

I do believe in miracles.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Sheep

Another email received - this one about the presence of sheep in photos of megalithic sites.

Great photos!

And, if you check out this link, you'll see a photo I took (though no sheep in this one). :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Counting Sheep

I received an email from the Wales tourism board (a country I must visit some day) that was pointing out less known reasons to visit. The first sentence jumped out at me for obvious reasons.
"You may already have heard about our three national parks, 641 castles and 11 million sheep throughout a country which is ideal for touring."
I forwarded it to Sean thinking he'd get a kick out of the random sheep statistic - which he did - and it led him on a search for more stats. Below are his quickly found findings:
  • There are only 3 million PEOPLE who live in Wales! Almost 4 times as many sheep as people--which appears to be the largest imbalance of any nation of the region.
  • In Ireland, they have 6 million people and 8 million sheep.
  • In Scotland, there are 5 million people, and 9.5 million sheep.
  • Also, UK overall has the most sheep of any EU member nation. Total UK sheep population was estimated to be 33.5 million as of 2007. With 22.5 million in non-England areas of the UK, that leaves 11 million sheep for a people population of 51 million in England proper.

In addition to wondering where they house and contain all these sheep, I'm also wondering how many yarn stores there are! Too few, I'm assuming, since when I was in Ireland there were none to be found.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lovely Weekend (Part 2 of 2)

Continued from Part 1...

Sean went back to bed but I was wide awake and decided to take advantage of the morning hours by going next door to the nursery to get pots and soil to transplant my herb garden. The basil in the single pot was doing so much better than the basil in the planter. The other herbs were looking pretty short and sad, too. My diagnosis is that they were just too crowded and did not have enough soil in the planter to thrive. But I would need something to replace the herbs for an empty planter is less lovely to look at than a planter with struggling herbs. Thus, I came home with some flowers and other supplies.

Lovely Gardening Purchases

Seamus was intrigued...
Stop and Smell the Flowers

With the new purchases, I turned this...

Herb Garden Before

...into these...

Herb Garden After

...and the planter now looks like this.

Flowers in the Hanging Container 1

This full, lush planter of flowers is what I envisioned my seedlings would grow into. Alas, they are still looking sad, small, and on the verge of dying completely.

Flowers in the hanging container

I'm not giving up - but I'm less than optimistic that my flowers will make it to the lush category any time soon.

In summary, two more lessons learned from this year's foray into gardening.

1) I'll plant my herbs in pots instead of a planter. In fact, I'll probably start them in pots instead of the seedlings tray so they do not have to withstand my less than delicate hand transplanting them to pots.

2) I'm not starting flowers from seeds for the planters. Instead I'll buy them once they've flowered for more instant gratification.

Flowers in the Hanging Container 4