Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kick-Off Event - The Lands' End "Warm Up America Project"

Well I am so on a high. I went over to New York yesterday for an exciting event at the CBS Early Show taping. Lands' End has teamed up with knitting and crochet groups that include TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association) and Warm Up America. Brett Bara from the show Knit and Crochet Now is the spokesperson for the project. Lands' End "Warm Up America project" was sponsoring a group of knitters and crocheters to come to the CBS Early Show and support the kick-off for the following couple of months that this project will be running. While we were there we made squares using FeelGood Yarn for blankets that will be made for this project. To learn more about this project, click on this link Warm Up America.

The whole day was great. I was not able to sleep so I got up at 2:00am. I was so excited for the day and a little uneasy leaving the house so early. I had to leave the house at 4:20am to make sure I got to the bus station for the 4:55am bus. I tell you that I didn't have to worry about being by myself because the bus was full.

The bus came at 5:00am and I am not use to taking the bus that early. I was prepared with two projects (scarves), and reading to occupy my time. Well, I couldn't do my knitting or reading because the lights were out. People were sleeping including the man I was sitting next to and I didn't want to disturb him. Truthfully this didn't set well with me at first because I was all ready to do my knitting project. But I took the time to rest myself. Of course, I really couldn't rest too much because I was so excited. I really needed to knit to calm down.

I got to New York and proceeded to the track for the 1, 2 or 3 train going uptown to 59th Street. The event was on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue. So after leaving the train station I walked four long blocks to 5th Avenue. When I got there a hand full of knitters/crocheters where there and the crew for the event were setting up. The crew from the Early Show was also setting up so it was exciting to see it all coming together.

I was in the first number of 50 people to arrive so they were giving away a nice Lands' End scarf. Then the first 20 people that finish their square got a tote bag. I don't know why I chose to knit my square when I know that crochet is faster - unbelievable - LOL. But I have so many totes I really don't need one. Three times they drew names for prizes. No I didn't win. I got to see friends from the Harlem Crochet and Knit Out 2 and met new friends which is always nice.

The show started and we continued to knit/crochet. You know when you see something on TV you wonder what really happens. Well, it was like that. Being there live was really exciting. But we couldn't hear the show and I thought that the audience did. So what we did was a lot of shouting and showed our excitement to be there every time the camera glided across the crowd. Then Harry Smith, Dave Price and Maggie Rodriguez of the Early Show came out to join us and talked with a few of the knitters/crocheters.

The host of Knit and Crochet Now show Brett Bara was there and we got to talk with her. A few representatives from Vogue Knitting were there also. It was a successful event and I think it got the point across that knitting/crochet is not going anywhere and it is very alive and there is a lot of activity going on.

When the taping of the show was finished the ones that could stay went on tour of the Early Show studio. It is taped in one room but understanding how they change things around and do the taping was really interesting.

After, a group of us went for a late breakfast and I came home. An end to a lovely day and I am so energized and excited to do more. I wished I had a knitting group to go to last night.

There is a lot going on in the needlearts world and there is a place for you somewhere in the mix if you are not already involved in the extras.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Apology for the Airy Yet Warm Free Scarf Pattern

I totally appreciate your visiting my blog. It has been so much fun. But I am truly sorry for the mix-up with my directions for the Airy Yet Warm Free Scarf Pattern that I posted on August 10th. It was not my intention to confuse anyone. I did not realize that I had wrote the seed stitch wrong (now I can really see how another pair of eyes can come in handy). I did not mean to take up your time and effort in vain. I appreciate the two people that sent me a comment regarding their frustration in not being able to get the pattern right. I have fixed the errors in the pattern and added a couple of notes hoping that you will try it again. It is really an easy pattern once you get the first repeats done. Please let me know if you still are having any problems. This will help me in writing future patterns.

I will put an earnest effort into making any future patterns correct. Thank you again and happy knitting.

Miss Craft Diva

Thursday, September 23, 2010

2010 HCOK2 - Harlem, NYC

On Sunday, September 19 marked the third year that I volunteered to teach at the Harlem Crochet Out and Knit 2. It was held on the corner of 113th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue from 12pm to 5pm. I had a lot of fun. But what is a knit/crochet-out you might ask? It is an event that was started by the Craft Yarn Council of America in 1998. This is a way that people can come together and learn how to knit/crochet or just come and sit around and knit/crochet. Yarn companies donate yarn, needles, hooks, and instructions to give each person a bag to start them off. Some events have representatives from charities and you can make squares or help put squares together for blankets. Other knit/crochet-out events have fashion shows which can give you ideas of what to make or to see what is out there to make that you haven't seen. You could think of having one in your area.

One of the women that came just loves new books so she had purchased a booklet on Yo-Yo Crochet. It reminds you of the Shell and Cluster Patterning stitch.
Since I had ones that understood the basics of crochet I taught the Yo-Yo crochet technique. It was fun making each section and attaching them as we went along. The project ideas in the booklet was a placemat, poncho, baby blanket and a few others. I'm not sure if I will make a project but it was fun.

The park where they had it last year was being renovated, so for this year the event was held right on the street. A tent was put up for some shade (it was hot during the afternoon), tables and chairs were set up for people to sit around and knit or crochet. This is what you call making due with what you have and still making it work. And it did and it was an enjoyable day. I got to see a few from last year and catch up to what they are making. I can't wait for next year. To keep up with when next years event will be click on this link Harlem Crochet Out.

Congratulations Crochetoutlady for another successful event.

What's going on in my area?

Smiley's Yarns is coming to NJ. Smiley's is a yarn outlet in NY, but they come to other areas like NJ once a year. They will be coming this Saturday to Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and on Sunday to East Windsor, NJ. Click on the link to go to their website if you are interested. If you go they only take CASH and nothing else. It is only from 12:00pm - 3:00pm so come early and have fun shopping. If you can't get to the sale they also sell online.

Update on our group charity at the South Plainfield Library

As you can see from the picture we are making progress with our squares for the two blankets we will be giving to a local charity. Not all the squares are in this picture. A couple of people are holding onto their squares until we start putting it together so there is a bunch more and we will be adding until we have enough. Our goal is by the end of October to complete one blanket and the second will be completed by the end of November. The group is having fun learning new stitch patterns as they make the squares. I'll give an update in a future post.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Trip To West Virginia

I started my trip listening to the book on tape "The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood". That took me there and back. Since my time is limited to read actual books I am trying to get into books on tape. At home I started listening to them while I knit.

Ah, West Virginia, what a place to visit. With its mountainous region, rolling hills, lakes, rivers and don't forget nature. I know that there is always more beautiful places that could be talked about or compared to, but for me West Virginia is on the top of my list. In the early morning you can enjoy the haze around the mountains and as that clears up you enjoy how the blue sky gives the mountains more of a perfect postcard affect. Pictures don't do it justice. Of course a professional photographer can get real close to capturing the colors and beauty.

I would like to share a little details of my trip to West Virginia. It was a combination trip of nature and yarn as I mentioned in my September 1 posting. There is a new yarn shop opening this month called County Road Yarn House in Lewisburg. If you ever visit Lewisburg, WV be sure to pay a visit.

I visited The Holler Farm Fiber Arts farm and they shear their sheep and dye their own wool. I got to see the roving that they died and all the pretty colors. It looked like big puffs of cotton. I just wanted to fall back into the pile and claim it as mine. Ok I woke up to reality. They sell items they make. They also explained the whole dyeing process to me. That was exciting because now I can appreciate all the hard work that goes into it.

There was a little yarn shop in town of Ronceverte where I stayed. They just opened in April of this year. Not much yarn but they are supposed to start offering classes this fall. I also visited a lady that use to own a yarn shop. I enjoyed our talk of the needlearts. She was packing her goods that she made for a craft show. I was sorry I would miss that one.

We took a tour at the Carnegie Hall of West Virginia in Lewisburg. I didn't know that there are four Carnegie Hall's around the world; New York City, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, PA, and Scotland the home of Mr. Carnegie. The West Virginia Carnegie Hall has three galleries featuring local artists which I thoroughly enjoyed. One featured beautiful wood cuts by Jeff Davis and the other two galleries had photography which is one of my other loves in my life so I enjoyed the work of Burke and Steven Shires. But the best thing on the tour was the fiber arts room. They have a fiber arts group that meets once a month. The tour guide was a member so I got first hand on what they are doing and had a chance to see some of their weaving and other projects.

We went to the new beautiful library also in Lewisburg and of course I had to see what knitting and crochet books they had. Then we went to a nice restaurant called Food & Friends. I really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. And when you walk in they tempt you with their window array of fine chocolates to buy. That budget I'm on saved me from getting in trouble this time.

We went on this hike which was a little steep for me and I was glad that I had my hiking boots on. I had fun on that hike. It was about 10 of us so the great conversation helped me to get pass some of the more rugged parts. But I still love hiking; it's just that I haven't hiked in a while so my body did not cooperate as I wanted it to. It kept saying, this is what you get when you don't stretch those muscles and you just expect them to magically work. My hiking boots really came in handy on this trip with the kind of walking we did.

I was in awe at all the butterflies that I saw, several different types. And the hummingbirds that I saw as the sounds of their wings flickering around me or as they went to sip from their feeders gave me a closer look. But you had to be fast as they whisk away in an instant.

On my way back home I just had to stop and enjoy the beauty of those West Virginia mountains, take pictures to remember them by and one more inhale of the air. Click on the button for flickr on the left to view my pictures.

This trip reminded me yet again how important it is to stop and smell the coffee, as they say. That sentence has such a significant meaning especially today. Some have so much pressure in their lives including loosing their jobs, paying bills, feeding their families, keeping afloat mentally that just enjoying life gets pushed aside and the simple beauties of life become faded.

I had a boss once that when I had pointed out to him the beautiful moon outside he looked at me as if I had three heads. He made a comment and looked at me again as if to say I have no time for this and so this conversation is closed. What a shame when life engulfs our time and our minds to think that we have to wait for retirement to enjoy the simple things as a sunset or a beautiful butterfly on a flower. These things are free and out there for our enjoyment. We need to take advantage of that.

When I was working I had a lot of pressure at my job. But the things that kept me going was my music, especially my classical music because it was soothing, leaving the job for the day (of course) but seeing a deer outside grazing, driving home and seeing a full moon so bright and beautiful. For my sanity I had to stop and smell the coffee. I couldn't let my problems at the job engulf fully my love for the beauty around me like the flowers, animals, moon, etc... We shouldn't forget that those are the things, besides your needlearts or any other hobby you might be engaged in that brings joy, peace, excitement and awe. So even though life can be tough at times don't forget to stop and smell the coffee because the aroma is addictive and oh so sweet to your mental being.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001 - Remembered

For most it is just another date on the calendar, but for many other people it marks a day that changed their lives forever.

I remember that day, September 11, 2001. I was at work and heard that there was a plane that hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. I went down stairs to the first floor to find a large group watching the TV. I thought it was a joke at first and then I realized it was really happening.

We went back to our desk in shock. We were sent home and I could remember me driving home, it was such a beautiful sunny day with a blue clear sky. For me, I was trying to collect my thoughts and I said over and over in my head - what just happened? For others it was devastation as they found out how real this was. I remember a women that came in from another office for a meeting and she was frantic because her husband went into New York for a meeting and she couldn't get in touch with him. What a relief for her that he was alright. But for others it wasn't the same ending.

If you know someone that lost a love one on that day, comfort them especially on this day. If you don't know what to say, just give a call and say I was thinking of you and just wanted to let you know. If you know someone is alone on this day that was personally affected, invite them out for coffee or over your home for a meal. Be that listening ear that they might need or just sit in silence respectfully and just be there.

It doesn't have to be anything big, but it is the thought that counts. Since this was such a devastating catastrophe especially for the USA, then this date will always be commemorated and so the pain that gets a chance to subside in the hearts of those that lost loved ones is dug up all over again. But on the other hand we don't want to forget. So it becomes a two sided coin. Be patient instead of thinking that someone should be over this by now. It's been nine years, but to those that were personally affected it might feel as if it was just yesterday. Show more love and care especially on this day. We that were not personally affected by this will never understand their pain. And we don't know how we would have been if we were personally affected. All of us deal with life events differently, especially with what hurts our hearts.

For those that have lost loved ones on this day.

For those fire men and women that risk their lives and lost their lives.

For the police men and women that risk their lives and lost their lives.

For those that lost their lives because of wanting to help in cleaning up afterwards and their bodies could not take what was in the air and their love ones were left behind.

For those that are still battling illnesses as a result of that day.

For those, however affected that are trying every day to move on and live life after that day.

And for anyone else that I missed, my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to you and your family on this day and everyday.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Love For Puppets

How do you like my pig hand puppet? It is a free pattern found on the Red heart website. I just had to make it since I love puppets. There are a lot of fascinating things in the world and I found one in the world of puppetry. You might say that you always thought puppets are just for kids. That reminds me of the stigma that knitting was only supposed to be for the grandmothers and aunts of a certain age of the world. I'm glad that we continue to dispute that one because we would miss out on a lot of joy and fun.

Getting back to puppets, the artistry is amazing and real-like with a lot of them. Seeing a puppet show can take you into another world and help you forget as you sit there mesmerized at the whole performance. As for me, being involved with the needlearts has opened my interest in so many other creative areas of the art world. I have been to several puppet museums, exhibits, and shows and I am always amazed at the creativity of the designer of the puppets. The imagination and skill of the scenes surrounding the puppets are amazing also. It blends all together where that your mind tunes in and is lost in the land of make believe.

The designer's passion oozes out as the end result is your enjoyment. You can't help but be excited by the talent you see as the lights go out and the puppets come alive, as the stage lights up and the fascinating show begins.

There was a special exhibit sponsored by the Museum for African Art in New York City. It was called Episodes. All I kept saying was - WOW as I gazed upon the beautifully crafted puppets. And since I sew I could appreciate the time put in to create specific costumes for the part each puppet would play. The way the exhibit was put together made you appreciate it even more. The exhibit was an installation of puppets from seven productions over sixteen years by The Handspring Puppet Company. If only I could have seen one of those productions, I know they had to have been remarkable.

If you haven't seen a real puppet show or visited either an exhibit or a puppet museum, I would highly recommend a visit. You will be amazed. All in the name of the arts. You could use your kids as the excuse to go or you could borrow a child for the day and both of you could enjoy the wonders of puppetry. But if you do take children ask about the suggested age for the puppet show. Some of the shows will go over the heads of little ones.

I have added my list of favorite puppet museums and puppet theaters that you can go to. There are many more and I would suggest to look in your area or when you plan your next vacation there just might be one around the area where you are traveling to. It's worth it. Enjoy.

Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, Storrs, CT

Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta, GA

Salzburg Marionette Theater (check their show travel schedule)

The Cashore Marionettes (check their show travel schedule)

The Long Island Puppet Theatre & Museum, Hicksville, NY

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Finish Line

The goal is to have a completed project done to give as a gift, make for charity, or make for yourself. The finish line is the last steps to completion of your project.

So for fun, I asked myself am I a process or project knitter/crocheter? I am so passionate for the needlearts. I eat and sleep with my projects in mind. I can't wait to come home to work on a project that I can't take anywhere because I have to concentrate on it. I have already talked about how I don't like to cook and I would rather do my needle arts than cook.

So when I ask that question to myself then I struggle with the answer because I love my projects, but I also love most of the process. Then it changes when I get to the end and I have to do the finishing work like; weave in ends, sew up seams, embellishing, sew on buttons, blocking etc... I definitely lean more towards the project itself. And don't even think about grafting with the kitchener stitch, and then I say - run! Hand sewing use to be my friend, now we are a little distant. I shy away in hopes that when I return it will magically be done - not.

I made a baby blanket in two parts because of the scallop edge and I wanted the same look on the other side. I didn't think of using the provisional cast on so the result is two pieces that need to be graft together. This project taught me to really think through before I start so as to make sure I use the right techniques to get the result I'm looking for. Also, to make things easier and in this case to produce a cleaner finish. The blanket has been sitting there waiting for the day that I would tackle this dreaded task. It's time for the blanket to come out of the dungeon. Ok, just do it already.

My ultimate goal for the next 6 months is to learn how to appreciate the whole process of my needlearts. How I'm going to do that, I don't know. But it sounded like a good goal to have and I like making goals. As with anything we do, there is a part we might love and there is a part that we might hate, dislike, or avoid.

The best thing to do for tackling the finishing is wait until you are up to doing the task, take a deep breath and go in head on. Or you could do what I do. I break down my task. I've done one seam a day just to help take the sting out of the task I don't like. I love breaking things down to manageable sizes. I actually get more done.

Process vs. project - which one are you? Enjoy the total experience of your projects.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

From the Mountains of West Virginia

I am back from my long overdue vacation. It's been two years since my last true vacation and this one was worth the wait. I had to take a day just to rest up because I drove and my body and mind needed to regroup. You know, the needing a vacation after the vacation.

A girlfriend of mine and her family moved to West Virginia four years ago. She kept asking me when I was going to visit. Well, I finally did and boy did she make my trip memorable. It was like sipping fine wine as I enjoyed the fresh air and beauty of the mountains, farm country and sun sets. I felt as if I was on a yarn/animal tour. I hiked, tried some sky shooting - just two shots. That was enough for me, even though I liked it I didn't want my shoulder to be aching for the rest of the trip. But the next time I am there for sure I want to do that again.

We had the privilege of enjoying great food and we had fresh vegetables given to us from the farms we visited, met new friends to keep in touch with, went to yarn shops and farms that dealt with the needlearts, got to be around a lot of different animals and some other adventures. And one of the best things is having someone that lives there that knows where to go and will drive you around.

Each day was a new adventure and I loved every bit of it. I had a fantastic time. I put my pictures in flickr if you care to view them. Different ones were trying to talk me into moving there, but I would come back with the sentence, "I'm a city girl and I have got to get back to the city." Farming is hard work and I think you have to have a passion for it to stick it out. And finding a job there is not easy either. So I had a blast while I was there but home started to call out to me at the end.

The highlight of the trip was yarn places and farms, especially with sheep that were sheered and the wool was died and spun. One of the farms that we went to was friends of my friend and she took me through the whole dyeing process. Really interesting. She said that I could come back and help with the dyeing. Now I will be back next spring for that one.

The air smelt clean and fresh, well except for two mornings where that I was awoken by a smell I could easily identify as a skunk who happened to want to say hello in his stink kind of way. Other than that I could breathe so much better.

I know there are ones reading this and are saying that they already live in this surrounding. I don't. I feel that sometimes we take for granted things that we have in our every day life that makes life just a little more special. So if you are fortunate to live in this environment do as the saying goes; 'take the time to smell the coffee' because it is oh so sweet and delicious.

"What is required is sight and insight - then you might add one more: excite."

Robert Frost

I used my sight to enjoy all of what I saw, I gained insight in learning more in the world of needlearts and of the beauty that surrounded me, and I was constantly excited for the whole adventure that I experienced.

Just to give an update on my projects, I brought with me several projects and I finished the Panda Silk DK Fan Shawl that I talk about in my post from July 6, made a hat called 'love it, leaf it!' featured in the Knit 1 Magazine Spring/Summer 2009, made a teddy bear out of the book Cuddly Crochet by Stacey Trock called 'Timmy the Teddy Bear' and I still need to sew it together, and I am almost finished with a Turtle out of the book Knitted Toys by Fiona McTague. I brought a lot of papers that I needed to sort through and got through all of them since I was being chauffeured around, I took advantage of that. I just wanted to reconnect with you. I'll share more of my West Virginia adventures in another post.

Have a great day.