Saturday, April 24, 2010


The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is only a week away. Oh, how excited I am! The girls are flying, driving and taking the train to my house for a weekend my husband labeled - Sheep and Shenanigans! He came up with the name last year and we instantly adopted it as the new title of the weekend. In fact, we love it so much that this year, we had t-shirts made.

This weekend will be spent preparing for all the festivities that kick of Thursday of next week. I'll be cleaning, shopping, organizing, and checking my list of things to do about a million times.

This will be my ...holy crap.

This will be my FIFTH sheep and wool festival.

While the last three are on the blog the very first one was chronicled on my former not-exclusively fiber related blog (which has since been taken down but you can see photos here).

Let's take a look down memory lane...

In 2006, it was just me and the Queen and we were MS&W virgins. We had such an excellent time though we were somewhat overwhelmed with it all. I must be honest and share that I still have all the yarn I bought at the festival and only just this year did I finally find what I wanted to make. I'm not sorry I bought the yarn - I'm just sorry it took so long for me to figure out what to do with it.

In 2007, Funky Duck made the trip with the Queen. Another fabulous festival, fun weekend, and some additions to my stash that are still lingering today. Not all, but most. Still - not a bad thing. Maybe by next year I'll know what to do with it.

In 2008, two new additions - The Mistress from California and KMP from Louisiana. The Mistress was building upon skills she learned earlier in the year at Stitches East. But KMP came along just to hang out with the girls. She was not a knitter and had absolutely no desire to learn. NONE. We couldn't coax her. We tried but she resisted. But there was a creative fire brewing that none of us expected.

In 2009, one more addition - Bebe had arrived just a few months earlier. Turns out that KMP's pregnancy helped her find her inner crafty momma. The skills she's learned and the projects she's accomplished over the past two years are astonishing! It was another great weekend with Bebe to coo over in addition to yarn.

Now - it's 2010, and there is an addition for this year as well. Seamus arrived just a few weeks after last year's MS&W. While he has met and adores KMP and Bebe, I don't know if he knows what he's in for when the other girls are here. So it will be me, the Queen, Funky Duck, The Mistress, KMP, Bebe, Seamus and ... my wonderful husband.

Sean is so wonderful to put up with our shenanigans every year. Thank you, honey! I love you! (And I hope you love the new TV that is going up in the bedroom so you have a place to hide should when the shenanigans get out of control next week.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Green Thumb?

While I did pretty well with the little seedlings, the true test of any presence of a green thumb has begun. On Thursday, I transplanted all the little plants from the indoor seedling planter to the new hanging planters on the balcony. I got it done but it wasn't pretty. There was dirt everywhere as I tried to get the little plants out of the containers. There was also way too many basil plants to put in the planter with the other herbs I'm hoping to grow.

But this is my first time attempting to garden from seedling to full grown plant in a container garden - so I'm giving myself a little slack from my usual need for perfection.

Two things I've learned so far:

1) Don't plant multiple seeds in the little containers. They will grow so you don't need to hedge your bets by planting a bunch.

2) Read the seed packages carefully for how far apart the plants need to be planted. It doesn't matter as much when you have a decent swath of dirt in the ground to work with - but when dealing with containers on a balcony, you can't really keep plants 12 inches apart.

As you may have guessed, I learned these things by doing them.

To illustrate number 1: I have too many little plants of thyme and chives growing in clusters. Not only was I unable to delicately separate them but there also wasn't a lot of room for tons of them in the planter.

To illustrate number 2: The basil seed packet says the little plants should be planted 12" apart. That just isn't possible given that the planters are only 36" or so long. So they are planted into one end of the planter in a cluster - and because I had a bunch of seedlings left over, I planted those in a cluster in a small flower  pot. This was mostly done so I didn't have to throw out any unused plants and also in case the ones in the planter don't make it.

One other thing I learned is that I am not a delicate gardener. There was dirt everywhere as I was transplanting. Though I was trying to be gentle and precise when planting in the containers, the little plants are in more of an abstract pattern than anything logical.

But again - I'm cutting myself some slack with this first time gardening experiment. Even if it doesn't turn out to be the lush container garden I envision in my head, it has been a lot of fun to watch the little seeds grow into green, living plants.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lovely Things Indeed

One of the items I included on my Year of Lovely Things was already a year in the making. I had purchased some beautiful fabric in February of last year with the intention of making curtains for the craft room. I bought it because there was an incredible sale and I so loved the fabric. I just had to get it lest it disappeared. When I brought it home, I thought it would only be a few weeks until I had new curtains for the room...

Flash forward more than a year... Saturday night. I had finished assembling the companion cabinet for the craft room and was reorganizing and moving about the remaining craft items when I looked at the bolt of fabric propped up against the wall. Suddenly I had the urge to sew. With the new cabinets and the new light fixture, the beautiful fabric transformed into curtains would finish the room.

(I should also mention that part of the motivation came from having played our new Wii console for many hours. I think I needed to balance the high tech, virtual activity with some low tech, tangible product activity.)

It was quite an undertaking as I pulled out the six foot folding table, iron, sewing machine, and sewing box and proceeded to take over a large area of the living room. Sean was ever patient with my sudden and random need on a Saturday night to sew curtains from fabric that had sat untouched for a year. :)

(Another item worth mentioning - instead of making a big mess by starting this project on Saturday evening, I should have been cleaning the house in preparation for my sister-in-law's visit on Sunday. There was no guarantee that I would finish in time and while she may miss seeing the curtains completed, she would probably appreciate a clean bathroom to use.)

I unfurled the fabric, measured (sorta) and cut, ironed and pinned, and then sewed. Saturday night, I finished one panel, but was too tired to try the second. I thought it would be much better to get some rest and see if I could finish in the morning.

With determination and a very strong cup of coffee, the second panel was completed Sunday morning. Next I installed the curtain rod (miraculously, it's level!) and then hung the curtains. They are just two simple panels but the curtains add so much to the feel and look of the room.

I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the final look. But before I show you that photo, let's first take a look at what the room looked like when I moved in:

Possible Crochet Room

After unpacking these boxes, we first used it as a formal dining room (and when we sell, we'll bill it as such) but it didn't take long for me to move in a cabinet or two and start keeping my yarn there. Here's the room when it officially became my craft room:

Crochet Room 01

You see the old light fixture and cabinet are there. Some small things were moved and changed but not until the purchase of the new cabinet did it start to really take shape.

New Cabinet 01

And now - here is the finished room:

Crochet Room 05

I am in deep smit with my redecorated craft room. In fact, I had a very hard time convincing myself to go to work this morning instead of staying home and sitting in the papazan to knit and crochet all day.

You can see in the photo that I moved my sheep painting entitled "Happiness" to above the papazan - because when I sit there, in this beautiful room, that is exactly what I feel.

Happiness. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Different...but Sorta the Same...

Welcome! Glad you made the switch from the old blog to the new one. (Or if you just stumbled upon the site, welcome to you, too!)

Not that it is really a new blog - it's the same blog, just with a different name, new address and new logo. And the same crazy crafter at the helm.

The reason for the change comes from my pursuit to make my crafting - from designs to handmade goods to contracted crocheting and knitting - into a real business. A very small, unprofitable business to start, but a business nonetheless. While a logo and new blog wasn't specifically outlined, it's still part of my crafty resolutions for 2010.

I should note that in addition to the blog address and name changing, so has my Ravelry name - I'm no longer CrochetCommuter --> I'm now OnHooksandNeedles. My email address will also change - but that may take awhile until it's official. I need to make sure I update a ton of registrations with the new address.

The logo you see had been in my mind for a few years. It is the name of the yarn store I hope to own someday. Until that happens, it will serve well as my online business - for the blog, Ravelry and Etsy. It was created by a friend of mine who took my rudimentary sketch and make a great graphic out of it. Her name is Sarah and if you're looking for a great graphic designer who understands the needs of the fiber fanatics, check out her web site at I also need to thank my close friends who provided some excellent and honest feedback of the logo drafts. I love the finished product! What do you think?

I was able to export the posts from the other blog to here which is great - except that none of the shortcuts to previous posts will work. So if you find broken links in past posts - sorry about that. I'm not going to go back and fix them all. The old blog will stay up for a while with a link to the new site. I'll be slowly deleting old posts from it but as mentioned earlier, those posts now reside here.

With the new logo will also come some marketing items which I hope to pass out at the Knit and Crochet show in July. If I can get them made in time, I may also have a few to hand out at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

So stay tuned for more developments and changes. I appreciate greatly those who read the blog, like my patterns, leave comments and otherwise let me know that there is an audience out there that enjoys my ramblings. I hope you like the new blog (or it eventually grows on you). Your comments/suggestions are always welcome.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Year of Lovely Things Update

More updates on my Year of Lovely Things list:

1) Plant an herb garden

Planted this on March 18th and just two weeks later, look at my little garden!

Herb Garden - 2 weeks

I've got flowers and herbs in there, such as rosemary, thyme, basil and forget-me-nots. I'm looking forward to picking out some containers for the porch once these little guys are ready for transplanting.

2) Take a road trip

Went to Atlantic City over the weekend for a quick overnight visit. I managed to keep most of my money after playing poker for a few hours. That was quite a feat!

3) Try a new restaurant

Best. Dinner. EVER. We went to Izakaya, the Japanese steakhouse at the Borgata in Atlantic City. It was heavenly - from appetizers to dessert, and some delicious wine selected by a friend, it was hands down the best dinner I've ever had in a restaurant. EVER. Delicious!

I hope your year is moving along at a lovely pace, too.