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. :)