Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zone In

It is the end of another year and at times I said where did the time go. As my earlier post from November 3rd said I did get a lot that I wanted to accomplish this year. But now we are entering a new year. It is time to zone in on all of the choices we have to enjoy during the year. It is also a time to write down some life goals we would like to accomplish. If you haven't started a goal list get moving because the clock is ticking forward and it is not stopping for no one to catch up.

I really appreciate sites like Knitter's Review which has already posted the 2012 Calendar for most knitting and fiber festival events that happen during the year around the world. Great for travelers. You can plan your traveling around craft events. Now how fun is that.

My first event for next year is coming up quickly and that is VogueKnitting Live happening for three days from January 12 - 14, 2012. I volunteered last year for their very first event and this year I will be returning as a volunteer. I had a blast. Not only seeing all of the knitters and crochters coming through the doors but also the fashion show of the different garments that people made.

Even though I was volunteering I had fun. I worked with one vendor from Ireland. That was special to talk with someone from another country to see what is happening in the knitting world over there. And being able to enjoy the array of beautiful Aarn sweaters and new yarn she brought over. Seeing all of the different displays from the vendors was quite interesting also. I talked with the Crochet Dude from Knit and Ctochet Now and in that little bit of time I could tell that he is a very down to earth and nice guy. And I can't forget meeting and working with the other volunteers which made it interesting as to why they were there and what they like to make and do with their needle art.

So stay tone for the pictures and my spin on the event. Those that will be planning their trip to the city to go to the event I hope you have just as great of a time as I will.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dying Yarn

Well it is at the end of another year. In the past I would take the time out to reflect back on the year and see what happened, what went wrong, what goals did I meet, and what goals still need to be worked on. Then there is looking at the new year ahead and I would ask myself what goals would I like to accomplish, what would I like to do within that year, and if there are any specific changes to be met within the next year.

Because of the craziness of loosing my job and life happening in general, I lost the momentum of seeing what I could do within the year that I've never did before. So I am starting that again. When I look back at this year to see what I got to do new I did accomplish some things. I got to enter into a couple of county fairs and festivals, I went to a couple of free sponsored festivals I've never been to before, I had the opportunity to teach more and especially at one of the festivals (North Jersey Fiber Festival), and as you can see below I got to try yarn dyeing for the first time.

I had a fun time at a workshop sponsored by the Shore Fiber Arts Guild. The workshop was on dyeing yarn. I had heard people talk about dyeing yarn but I never tried it myself. Well, it was time to try it and see what all the hype was about. After arriving at the home of one of the guild members that was hosting the event, I started getting excited about learning the process. Everything is a process. Everything was set up and ready for us to go.

I started with cotton yarn. I didn't know it had to be washed first. So I used something to wrap the yarn around to release it from a rolled up ball. The excitement started to rise. First, I had to wash it in some Woolite then rinse, rinse, and more rinse. If you've used Woolite you know even a drop can make a lot of suds. I put a little more than I should have because I was naturally thinking of regular detergent since I haven't used Woolite in a long while. After getting the soap out it was time to lay it out and see what I could do with it.

The guild member that was hosting the workshop was so kind as to mix the chemicals for us and get them ready for us to take a go at it. I had two balls of yarn and so I figured I would do a solid and that would mean to dump it in the color. The other I would paint different colors on so I could have a little variegated goin through it. That was a fun day. Not only because someone else did the work of mixing those strong chemicals so it freed us up to play, play, play but because we had a group of guild members that got together to do something we had not had a chance to do before.

How about yourself? If you did not have the opportunity to do something new then there is a chance in a couple of months to take a go at it. Of course you don't have to wait until then you can do it today. But have fun planning and expanding.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm Not Perfect

I was talking about making errors in a class I was teaching and one of the students was so surprised to know that I make mistakes also in my knitting and crochet. I wish I could say I don't, but not true I do. As I explained, no matter how long you do anything in life there will be that 'oh no' moment. There is no perfection.

As you work on more and more projects you will come across instructions that you think should go one way but then you find out they go another way and oops you have an error. Or you should have purled where you knitted. And there is always the decreases where you make an extra so that you have less stitches or you are doing increases and you have more stitches. And I could go on and on.

I tell my students to embrace their errors because if you don't make errors then you will never know how to work through them and you won't learn what could go wrong. You could also help someone else that is in a bind because they are stuck on an error.

There is such an excitement when a student learns how to fix their errors. That moment comes when after the basics are absorbed in the mind they got it. And when at that moment they are home and they can actually fix their error. They come back into class and they are so elated that they actually did it on their own. It's that WOW moment in learning. You feel like you can accomplish anything or almost anything.

So don't be scared to make errors. Be open to say, hey I made an error so what and fix it right there and feel proud that you can fix your errors with ease. And if you don't know how to fix errors then sit and play. Make a sample of knitting or crochet and include some errors and try to fix them. Practice makes improvement.

Enjoy the learning and growing process.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Knitting Events Defined

From time to time I hear something that is disturbing to me. Knitting and crochet are dying out. Say what? Where do people get these ideas from? Knitting and crochet are booming. As we go forward each year there are more and more events that include the needlearts. There are new and returned knitters and crocheters all the time. I meet them through my classes I teach, when I am out and about I get into conversations with the 'I wish I could do that' person or a person that is knitting or crocheting and loves to talk about what they are doing.

Our wonderful world of the Internet has opened wide the scope of what is going on in the needlearts with conversations live, Ravelry, free pattern sites, and much more. I think what happens is that people either are not into using the computer or they don't know how to do the right search on the Internet.

To open the conversation about events that I have been to (and I have posted a few on my blog with pictures) and other events going on just around my side of the world what do we have? What can they think of next to do with the needlearts. Have you ever heard of yarn bombing? Well, it is the latest that is going on by using knitting and crochet for more artistic expression.

Yarn Bombing (knit graffiti or street art) - This is done worldwide. No there is no bombs involved but pure fun. Have you ever saw something like a chair or statue that could use a spark of color or pizzazz? That is what happens at a yarn bombing. An item is chosen to knit or crochet a covering for so that it stands out more and so that people know knitting and crochet is still much alive and growing in interest and creativity. Check out this exmaple Yarn Bombing.

Yarn Crawl - Have you wanted to visit yarn shops just to get a feel of what they carry and if you have any questions about a certain type of fiber? Then going on a yarn crawl would be for you and for any other needleartist wanting to expand and explore. It is like a little adventure. So what happens is several yarn shops in different areas will open their doors for people just to come and browse, see what they have, test some of the yarns. Some yarn shops have give-a-ways, raffles, prizes and other specials going on.

And there is more going on.

What is...

Ravelry - Have you wanted to find a pattern for a particular project and can't find one? Have you made an item and wish you could see what other people did with that same pattern? Would you like to connect with more needleartists and don't know where to go? Would you like to post your projects somewhere to show them off or keep more organized? Then Ravelry would be the place. You can do these things and more. It is a free community site to connect with other needleartists. You sign up to join and the rest is history. You can join groups, connect with your friends that knit or crochet and meet new people and then meet up at a festival or event. It is fun but very addictive so I would suggest not spending all your time on this site because you need time to knit and crochet too.

World Wide Knit In Public (WWKIP) - This is just what the name implies knitting or crocheting in public. It's a way to make it known that knitting and crochet is not going anywhere but growing. And it shows how portable it can be. It is also a stress reliever for all those involved with it as you can see when going to one of these events how happy everyone is and troubles are put aside for that day. It is also a way to meet new needleartist and get with old friends. Read the history of this wonderful event WWKIP.

Knitting and Crochet Conventions - These feature great classes, wonderful choice of vendors, fashion shows and more. The two main ones that I have attended are Stitches Convention and Vogue Knitting Live Event. If you do a search on knitting conventions or crochet conventions you might just see one coming your way.

Knit and Crochet Outs - a day out with other knitters and crocheters is always fun and you get to learn from another fellow knitter and crocheters. And guess what? They have started back with the one in Manhattan as well as in Washington, DC -Yeah! But for the past four years (I can't believe it has been four years already) I've been going to the Harlem Crochet Out and Knit2 event in NY. I've been helping out with teaching those that come by and want to learn either how to knit or crochet. It has been fun every year. Supplies are donated from yarn companies so that the ones wanting to learn can get a kit of yarn and needles or hook to get them started and on their way to join the rest of us in the world of the needlearts. (see post September 23, 2010)

Knitting and Crochet Groups - You might remember the time when you didn't know who out there was knitting or crocheting so you stayed in your own house and did your crafts by yourself. No need to do that anymore because groups are forming all over. It is fun to meet other crafter's and see what they are doing, get ideas, tips, and enjoy not sitting home alone but enjoying a group setting. To start with you can either call your local library to see if there is a group that meets there, look under www.yahoogroups.com or www.meetup.com. And depending upon where you live you could find other sites that connect you with groups that have your same interests. You can also put in the search engine 'knitting groups' or 'crochet groups' and put in your town or state and see what comes up in your area.

Sheep and Wool Festivals - Have you been curious as to where yarn made of wool comes from or have you seen yarn spun into a hank of yarn? Well then a sheep and wool festival would be the place you would want to visit to get the answer to those questions and more. I have posted pictures from Maryland's Sheep and Wool Festival as well as NYS Sheep and Wool Festival held in Rhinebeck, New York State. But then this year I added a couple more that I went to. (see posts for pictures October 17, 2010; May 2 and 3, 2010; September 15, 2011)

Craft Cruises - Look up Craft Cruises to find one that suites your budget and the place you would like to go.

Those that have explored the world of knitting and crochet know and see how huge this arena is. You have to tap into the source. If you don't know then it is time to know so that you can also join us in more fun, creativity, and relaxation. I hope by posting this about the different events, if you are a person that did not know about these events, that stayed home to knit and crochet, that thought you were alone only because no one in your immediate area that you knew of is involved with it, that this will open the world of knitting and crochet more for you and you will be able to enjoy planning to get involved in some of the activities during the year.

But don't forget about taking a class here and there to expand your skills. Knitting and crochet groups are fun but people there want to work on their own projects or for charity and to be able to have time to socialize.

You can do a search on the Internet to find an event nearest you or again tap into sites listed above for the community of knitters and crocheters to find out more information. I've posted the Knitters Review before but this is a great site to get the list of events happening all around the world. You can also do a search on the Internet to find knit-out's, craft cruises and other events nearest you or add one or more to your vacation. It is all about tapping into the community of knitters and crocheters to find out more information.

Would you like to know what to do with all that stash of yarn you own? Look at this video clip below and get some ideas. Now please don't think I am by any means encouraging this.

Crochet it all.

Have fun planning for next year's events.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Love The Theatre

I was at one of my knitting groups that I attend and a couple of the ladies started talking about Broadway plays. In my mind I started reminiscing about my years of going to the theatre either for a play or some other performance. As you might know by now, one of my favorite words is variety and that is what I seek out when I would go to different shows. Since the economical situation hit me I haven't been to a show in over two years. I tell people that I am on a sabbatical with travel and shows. But these are things that I enjoy besides my needlearts and I will return to them as my situation levels.

The theatre is such an exciting place to be. My aunt exposed me to the theatre as I was growing up. I love the theatre and I have seen many different performances locally as well as when I traveled. The top of the list is seeing a great performance on Broadway in NY City. But where did these actors and actresses start out? Small local theatres. I'm sure you might even remember seeing someone acting at a local theatre and then you find out that WOW they made it to Broadway in a show. Local theatres can put on some wonderful productions of some of your favorite plays and shows. And the local theatres have other shows that are not found on Broadway. Below is a picture of just a portion of shows I've seen.

My favorite place in NY is TKTS. To read about the TKTS organization click on link TKTS Discount Booth. If you have ever been walking around Time Square at Broadway and 47th Street and saw this long line of people that would be the half price ticket line. There are a couple of other locations and the link above can help you with finding out where they are.

Today we are trying to pinch those pennies, dimes and quarters - OK money itself as a whole. But I can't remember the last time I paid full price for a Broadway play. If it wasn't the half price ticket line it was standing room. Yes, some theaters have a section in the back where that you can stand through the performance and see it dirt cheap. Then when I was a student I would get student discounts and they were phenomenal prices. Some local theatres have discounts or days you pay more and other days you will pay less. And then there are the specials that have popped up more these days with the economy the way it is.

But going back to the half price ticket line, I've met so many people during the years of standing on that line from all over visiting New York City. We were all waiting until they put up the list for that day of plays you can get a discount on. Not all performances are 50% off but there is a discount. For me it had to be 50% off and that was easy since I would pick out at least three plays to make sure one of those choices would be on the board.

Why do I like the theatre so much? It's another world of creativity. The actors and actresses must recreate themselves while on stage. The character that they are portraying might call for a serious person and that might not be how they are out of character. They might have to laugh when they have a reason to cry. And I appreciate the array of talents especially of singing and dancing, creativity of the stage sets and the costumes which all bring the theatre and shows alive. Again, it is all about enjoying what you love and love what you enjoy. And if you could get paid for it how sweet is that.

So if you haven't seen a play or a show of some sort, I would recommend a trip to New York City to the half-price ticket line or visiting on-line your local theatre's website and look at the list of performances that are being presented. You will be surprised how hooked you could get as you see the different forms of talent through the theatre. Just save a seat for me because I will be returning.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

More Free Events - Yeah!

Well even though this year brought on its challenges, I was able to at least get to several events that were local. I attended and volunteered at the Annual Harlem Crochet Out and Knit 2 in Harlem, New York. It was really nice. No stopping them over there, even if it has to be on a street corner it worked. I've been going to the event for the last three years. I don't want to miss it. You can see every year it gets better and better. Hurray to the Crochet Out Lady, as she is known. I didn't take any pictures but you can keep up with their web blog by hitting the link above.

Another event that I enjoyed was at Bayonet Farms in Holmdel, NJ. It was my first time going to this event and I enjoyed myself - as usual. The focus there was on artist painting in Plain air (outside). So you could see all of the artists sitting in different spots trying to get different angles. Some of them entered the contest and others were there for pure fun and relaxation.

What I also loved about this festival is that there were a couple of local restaurants that supplied the food that you could buy. No festival truck vendors (not that we don't enjoy the funnel cake because we do but once in a while you need real food) and it was delicious. A place I want to go to for a meal in the future.

There was also the scenery that surrounded us like this beautiful tree. And of course I love my animals and there was a lake that had all of these cute frogs hopping around.

Onto the next festival on the same day was at the Historic Longstreet Farm. Here they dressed up in colonial times and also had demonstrations of a variety of things. They have farm animals there so you could milk a cow (which I did do in the past there), go on a hey ride and I even picked Green Mountain potatoes and you could keep them for free. Now that is a bargain and one I enjoyed. There was music at both festivals which is always nice. And I entered a couple of knit and crochet items in their competition. I won first place for my bracelet and won a couple other ribbons. All in fun.

And my friend entered one of her beautiful needle point pieces and won first place. Hurray!

There were also demonstrations on spinning, weaving, rug hooking, knitting and crochet. Such a variety to see and appreciate the array of talents and creativeness.

The summer is filled with wonderful events to attend. If you haven't had a chance as of yet to experience one, then think of next year as to what you would like to try and go to. It really is enjoyable. And if you did have a chance to go to some events this year, I hope you had as much fun as I did and you learned about something new.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

On My Talent Corner

Today I am interviewing one of my friends from one of the craft groups I attend. She is multi-talented and has a lot of fun with her hobbies.

I'll let her talk:

I started to develop an interest in needlepoint when a group of my friends met every week to work on their crafts. Some were crocheting, some knitting and one woman was working on a needlepoint project. It looked interesting and decided to try doing it. I brought a small canvas and with her help made my first needlepoint. It was the beginning of years filled with making many different needlepoint's. I love doing them but have a special interest in making faces. There is something special about capturing their expressions. It's almost like bringing the canvas to life. Right now I am working on people from other countries. It's important to me to do their eyes right and their hands.

OK so let me ask you a few more questions about the crochet side.

Q: When did you first learn how to crochet?

A: It was around 1993.

Q: How did you learn? From a family member, friend, or organization?

A: It seems that I always knew how to make a square. I'm not sure how I learned.

Q: Why do you enjoy crocheting so much?

A: I always enjoyed making the lap blankets for the seniors. It's such a need you feel you are helping out. And because I have such a great teacher I have expanded more with my crochet.

Q: Well thank you for that comment. What are some future projects you would like to make?

A: Sweaters for my new great grandchild. Presently I am working on a baby blanket for the baby and a hat.

Q: What benefits do you get from crocheting?

A: Satisfaction of seeing the happy smiling faces of those I make items for.

Her new great grandchild has sparked her desire to pick up her crocheting again and she has not stopped. The lap blanket on the right is called the Jacobs Ladder and she had to make it because it is a reminder of her dear late husband Jacob.

She also has another special talent and that is writing. She writes such beautiful short stories and poems that really make you think. What did I tell you, she is multi-talented.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another Sheep and Wool Festival

Welcome to new members of my blog site. I don't blog as often as I use to. I hope to get back to a regular schedule but for now as things happen or as I think of something of interest I will post. I've been very busy this year teaching knitting and crochet, I'm attending computer classes myself, and just the old life happens gets in the way. I say go with the flow because 'IT IS WHAT IT IS'.

This year has been crazy but I did get a chance to go to another festival. Have you been able to hit any of the festivals? Well, you still have a chance to because there are a couple more around central NJ and others that will happen around the globe. Visit the Knitter's Review website for a list of the festivals around the world.

This past weekend Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11, 2011 there was the Garden State Sheep Breeder's 17th Annual Sheep & Fiber Festival. It is a much smaller festival than the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival or Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, which I might add is coming up October 15th and 16th. But this festival was very nice. it was held at the Hunterdon County Fairgrounds in Ringoes, NJ.

I took some pictures to share and my favorite was the sheep dog that was herding the ducks. I've never seen a sheep dog gathering ducks. It was so funny and cute.

The vendors at the fair were very friendly and they were mostly from the local area. I took a hand spinning lesson and enjoyed it so much to be able to learn something new. My Sunday knitting group has been trying to talk me into trying it for a while now and when this festival came up I said OK. The lesson was free which hit my pocket very nicely. And they gave us a hand spindle that was made out of a CD and dowel. I thought that was so ingenious how creative we can become and use things that could help save the environment. But that is my practice one. I wanted a real one. So I supported one of the locals and purchased a hand carved spindle made out of several different woods. It was very reasonably priced so that was great. I already had some fleece from my trip to West Virginia last year so I am set.

One of my friends that I was with purchased some fleece and needles to do needle felting. That's why I purchased the fleece and I had got the needles on my trip to WV. But I never got to do it. So now that she got it and I know she will be doing it since she loves making stuffed animals and can't wait to try it, guess what - I now have a partner that I can do needle felting with. I go over her house now to knit and it is because of her that my bear I crocheted is finally almost finished. The pieces had been sitting around for a year waiting to be put together. There is alwasy a part of the process we don't enjoy as much.

How could anyone ever say they are bored when there is so much to venture into. Just in the world of the needlearts we have such a variety (which is my favorite word by the way) to do. Let's find what we love and do it. Even if it is not in a large way we can still enjoy what we love to do.

Enjoy the pictures and think about what festival you would like to attend. If not this year then next year. Have fun.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life Happens

Do you like roller coasters? I use to ride on roller coasters but then I got really scared and couldn't deal with the incline and the descent. No thanks. I don't do roller coasters anymore.

But life can be just like a roller coaster with its ups, downs, twists and turns. As there are different sizes of roller coasters there are different life roller coasters that you get caught up on. I couldn't blog because I was caught up on a children's roller coaster but one that took some maneuvering to get off.

The thing about life's roller coasters today is they have become a free for all. More and more people are finding themselves on them and not being able to get off. With the job situation, money crisis, and caring for families, life's twists, turns, ups and downs just has a lot of us dizzy or trying to find air to breath.

I have started a school program for six months. I am taking a Microsoft Office Certification. I am enjoying it. So that has kept me busy studying and attending class. Even though I haven't kept up with my blogging I have been knitting and crocheting because I don't have to think with it and that is the place I want to be in.

So what have I been doing with my needlearts? I am making this top and it was designed to be made out of cotton. Well, because I am on a yarn diet I have been using what I have for now. I had some acrylic yarn that was the same multi-color so I used that. I had to calculate for the difference in the yarn weight and away I went making it. But then when I got to shaping the sleeves I could tell I would not be able to finish both sides with the yarn I had. What did I do? I forgot to calculate the yardage and went by the amount that it called for in the cotton. Silly girl. I had to improvise by working two rows multi and two rows of the solid tan for the sleeves and neckline. The picture shows the results. I love it. So now I don't feel so silly anymore. It is still a lesson learned to be extra careful as to all calculations and yardage so that all that work in a garment won't go to waste.

We buy single skeins or hanks and we don't know what to do with them. Try mixing colors or change the color at the neckline, stripe it, or trim the bottom and top of a garment in that yarn. There is so much you can do to use what you have. That is called being super creative with yarn. You might be pleasantly surprised what a beautiful combination you can make.

Have fun!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My First Blue Ribbon

Have you ever went to a county fair? Well, I haven't been to one in a long time. I went to the Monmouth County Fair and for my return to the fair I did something that I've never done.

The fair has a lot of things that you can enjoy. Of course what would a fair be without the cotton candy, gyro's, kettle corn and other goodies that we really shouldn't be eating. But since the fair comes around only once a year some of us make exceptions to our diet rules. There are also the shows like the pig racing and wood carving competitions. Of course I gravitate to the animals especially the babies. They are so cute.

There were other competitions and I entered two. Guess what two? Knitting and crochet. I got a first place blue ribbon for my crochet shawl by Doris Chan and second place red ribbon for my knitted neck warmer by Arcadia Knitting. It was fun going to the fair and looking for my two items amongst all the entries. And I enjoyed looking at the other entries.

In past years I would try to do at least one thing that I've never done before during the year. So for this year I entered my first contest. I've never been competitive but again it is all about doing something new.

Since the year is still buzzing with other fairs I thought I would enter another fair. I might as well enter in the fair of my own county of Middlesex. So I did. This time I entered my crochet top by Belinda Carter, my headband that I made up with Aran stitches, and my sample stitch crochet scarf that I made up for my class I was teaching. Well I received a blue ribbon for the crochet top and two second place ribbons for the headband and scarf.

There are many categories that an item could be entered under. So the next time you hear of a fair in your neck of the woods, enter one of your completed projects in and see what happens. You might be surprised. And you know what? It is all just to have fun and expand your horizon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Contribute To Your De-Stressing

I love when I feel de-stressed and most of the time it is my knitting and crochet that help me do just that. But there is another love that I've talked about that also de-stresses me, that is my love of animals and the outdoors. No I can't swim or bungee jump, but I sure can enjoy a walk in the park. There is something about a walk in a nice park that just calms the nerves. And if there are lakes or ponds it adds to that calmness.

I use to go to the park every other day with a friend and that would be our contribution to our weekly exercise program. Then she found a job - yeah for her and boo for me. I got lazy because I had to go by myself and I stopped. I started walking again around my complex with another person that lives here. But there was something missing.

Through the winter I did not walk because I am not a go out in the cold and walk kind of person. So when the summer came along I said that I wanted to start visiting the park again. At the first park there were rabbits and birds, no lakes nor ponds. I wanted to try a park that was nearer to me. Well, I was glad I did. There are rabbits, turtles, swans, geese, ducks, and several different types of other birds. But the best part of all is that the swans, ducks, rabbits and geese all had babies.

I really enjoy my walks there. Seeing wildlife in action is a beautiful thing. Watching them swim, care for their young, the ducks are so funny as they glide in the water when they come in for a landing, and hearing the beautiful sounds of bird calls as they talk to each other. They can make you laugh.

I was watching one duck trying to eat this piece of hard bread. Maybe it was a pizza crust or piece of bagel, but I could tell that it was hard. He couldn't eat it that way so he took it in his mouth and carried it over to the water, dunked it in the water and he ate the pieces as they got soft enough for him to eat.

I tell people that you don't have to love animals to respect them. Respect where they live and know that we need to share this space called earth. It's far from perfect for them and for us. But it sure would be a lost without these wonderful creatures that we enjoy watching. We can learn so much from them. Just seeing their determination to continue living despite the ruination of their environment for food supply and living space is an encouragement for me.

So the next time you want to de-stress yourself think of going to your local park and see what you can find there to enjoy, admire, and respect. Have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Statistical View On Crochet

Do you like statistics? I do especially when it comes to the needle arts. There was this article I found and wanted to share with you to show that crochet is taking the lead as a hot item in the needleart world. This article came from the Craft and Hobby Association's website. This gives a breakdown of the craft industry in sales and its popularity.

If you go to the different needlearts events or conventions during the year you see the big crowds. You might get as excited as I do to see that we have a lot of company out there. But to be able to see it broken down statistically it gives a broader picture. When I look at the sales part I think it is lower on the list because you only need a hook and yarn. If you are really into crochet then you usually have a complete set of hooks. As far as the yarn we all know if you are a crocheter or a knitter then you have your stash.

Craft and Hobby Association (CHA).


By CHA PR Manager

In a news release posted on April 5, 2011 CHA announced the results of the 2010 CHA U.S. Attitude & Usage Study which presents the top craft sectors and annual consumer spend. The U.S. craft and hobby industry is at $29 billion with about 56% of U.S. households crafting at least once a year. See the complete release below for the top 10 craft sectors by participation and spend.


ELMWOOD PARK, NJ (April 5, 2011) The Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) announced the 2010 full-year results from its CHA U.S. Attitude & Usage (A&U) Study. The CHA U.S. A&U Study is a custom quantitative research study commissioned to better understand consumer craft spending and behavior in the United States. The CHA U.S. A&U Study found that 56% of U.S. households crafted at least once during 2010, contributing to the $29.2 billion U.S. craft and hobby industry.

Beginning in January 2010, the CHA U.S. A&U Study was upgraded from a direct mail panel format to an online survey questionnaire. The change provided many benefits including greater depth of data on individual craft segments and purchase drivers, and detailed crafting behavior at the individual and household level. Due to the changes in methodology, sample size, and reclassification of craft segments within the 2010 questionnaire, direct comparisons between the 2010 CHA U.S. A&U Study and previous years are not valid, nor recommended.

The CHA U.S. A&U Study tracks sales and other metrics in eight broad categories comprised of 53 individual craft segments. Categories include: General Crafts ($9.9 billion), Fine Arts ($3.7 billion), Paper & Memory Crafts ($3.3 billion), Needle Crafts ($2.9) billion, Artistic Crafts ($2.6 billion), Sewing Crafts ($2.5 billion), Jewelry Making & Bead Crafts ($2.3 billion) and Floral Crafts ($2.0 billion). During 2010, the General Crafts category represented the largest sector at 34% of all industry sales.

The 2010 CHA U.S. A&U Study also ranked the top ten crafting segments based on consumer spending and household participation which collectively represent 19% of the craft segments and 53% ($15.443 billion) of total industry sales.

Top Ten Craft Segments by Sales

1.Woodworking/Wood Crafts $3.322 billion
2.Drawing $2.078 billion
3.Food Crafting $2.001 billion
4.Jewelry Making $1.446 billion
5.Scrapbooking & Memory Crafts $1.440 billion
6.Floral Decorating $1.303 billion
7.Crocheting $1.062 billion
8.Card Making $1.040 billion
9.Home D├ęcor Crafts (Non-Sewing) $948 million
10.Wedding Crafts $803 million

Top Ten Craft Segments by Household Participation*

1.Drawing 21.1 million households
2.Scrapbooking & Memory Crafts 18.4 million
3.Crocheting 17.4 million
4.Woodworking/Wood Crafts 16.8 million
5.Jewelry Making 14.7 million
6.Card Making 14.0 million
7.Floral Decorating 13.6 million
8.Cross-Stitch 13.3 million
9.Knitting 13.0 million
10.Wreath Making 11.6 million
* Based on 114,200,000 U.S. households

The CHA Attitude & Usage Study is fielded by a major global market research survey provider on behalf of the Craft & Hobby Association for its members, to provide consumer insight that guide decision-making. Complete reports are available free to CHA members or for purchase via email request to Keri Cunningham, Marketing Manager, at kcunningham@craftandhobby.org.

CHA previously announced the first-ever quantitative study on the attitudes and shopping behavior of Canadian craft consumers. The CHA Canada Attitude & Usage Study estimates the size of the Canadian craft and hobby market in addition to identifying important attitudinal drivers of crafting frequency and consumer spending. The study was initiated at the request of Canadian members of CHA and is being conducted in both English and French to include the French speaking population. The study follows the same methodology used in the CHA U.S. A&U study. Full year results for 2011 will be available in early 2012.

For us crocheters we are right on point. So keep enjoying one of the most popular hobbies out there.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Finally Blocked My Shawl

This picture shows a shawl that I finished, a pattern someone gave me. Who I don't remember. This pattern is only a 4 row repeat which I love. It shows such a lovely open lace design. The name is Lacework Pattern. I used Fashion Toes by Filatura Lanarota, part of my stash from Smiley's yarn sale last year. It is sock yarn made up of 90% Superwash Merino Wool and 10% Nylon.

I love the shawl, but the only thing that I need to be conscience of is the length before blocking. I didn't quite think it through as to the measurements between making the shawl and blocking. It really blocks well. But I had changed the width and length from what the pattern called for so it is longer. I love it and that's all that counts. But if I was to pass along a tip it would be to think through your pattern. Don't be so excited that you don't think it all the way through. If you do not make a swatch and you don't take the time to block your swatch then skipping those steps can make a difference in the end result. After making your project and you need to block it, the blocking process can make a difference in how it looks and fits. For example, if you use the wet method then when the water soaks through the fibers and it relaxes those fibers this will affect your measurements. You need to think about the whole process.

As you can see, it is not a wide shawl but long and it took four of the blocking pads I used and a space to lay it out, which meant the kitchen for me. I did it. Blocking is one part of the whole process that I don't like to do. I don't know why. I think it is just the thought of laying it out, measuring and pinning and sitting on the floor. But for some reason a couple of days ago I said it's time. This shawl has been sitting here for a couple of months not completed and all that would complete it was blocking. So I didn't delay any further. I got my blocking wires out, my T pins, blocking pads, soaking pan, towels and started the blocking process to its completion.

I wish I could bottle up that spark of determination and use it when I don't feel like doing something. It would be great if it could come in a spray bottle and spray it on as needed or a pill that would just turn on your determination and excitement for the things we procrastinate on. OK, I'm waking up to reality.

You can see how it looks on my flikr page. If I can do it you can do it also. Get out that project that you need to finish and do it. It really feels good to see a finished garment completed.

Enjoy the whole process and see the difference with your end result.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm Not A Yarn Snob

Did you know that there are yarn snobs? Oh, sorry you might be one of them. But that's ok if you are, but because of the economy and maybe what people do not know about the world of yarn they tend to stick to what they know or what they can afford.

Now when it comes to yarn shops it can be a luxury for some and that includes me. I so believe in supporting the yarn shops because we want them to stick around. There is nothing like going into a store and being able to feel what you want to purchase and to see the color of what you want to buy. That up close and personal feeling nothing can take its place. And the variety of the different fibers of wool, cotton, linen, silk, and blends seem to be endless.

Because my budget is low and I have a goal this year, as I spoke of, to use what I have and limit what I bring in to the bare minimum, I am using what I have in my stash from the past. I have been able to hit sales at yarn shops and come out screaming with joy as to what I got to add to my stash and what new fibers I get to work with. My problem came in when I went to use the yarn. I found of course, that I didn't have enough for the projects I would have liked to make out of the yarn. So the dilemma started as to what will I make out of the yarn and how creative can I get. Sales are great but they can put you in the arena of stash, stash, and more stash without a permanent home in a project. I don't know about you but I want to see my luscious yarns used in a project. I want to show them off in something that I can make from them.

Going back to the snob thing, I do prefer how I am though. I can work with anything and there are no specific guidelines as to what I will or will not work with. There are always the favorites and those yarns that I truly don't like when worked up. That is just a personal choice. Of course being a yarn snob is a personal choice and should also be respected. Not being a yarn snob should be respected too. All in all at the end of the day the goal should be, in my opinion, to de-stress oneself and have fun with whatever you use. It's about being creative and enjoying the journey of the world of yarn, needles, and hooks.

I've from time to time have shown what I am working on. I don't usually talk about the yarn that I am using but I said that would be a good subject to talk about. Maybe it would open more people to want to go to a yarn shop and try something new. Even if it is for a small project, like a scarf or a pair of socks. Of course you have to refrain yourself from being hooked and reeled in to a whole new world as you see all the different colors, fibers, textures, and yarn companies.

Anyway, I want to show what I am working on and the yarn I am using. The first subject (and if you know me by now you know that this is not the only project I am working on), is a shawlette from the magazine Interweave Knits - Spring 2007 issue. The project name is Clementine Shawlette.

Sometimes your eyes can look across so many patterns that you want to make that you pass by something that later catches your eye when you are looking over your magazine stash. Yes, we have stashes of magazines also. I love the shape of this shawlette and when you start working on it you see the simplicity yet it works up with elegance.

I am working on this project and using yarn from a sale two years ago. I have five hanks of Rowan Summer Tweed. It is 70% Silk and 30% Cotton. Now I love blends because they work up so nicely giving the yarn in some cases more body, more drape, taking out some of the drape, and of course it depends upon what you are making. This yarn has more stiffness to it. It has more texture - a little knotty feel as tweed usually has. But I love the color and the tweed effect.

When I am done it will be in flickr and you can at any time click on where it says 'view finished projects on flickr' and see all my finished projects.

Be open to learn about what is out there which is sooooooo much. I feel each person can find their comfort in an area they can enjoy. But don't stay too comfortable because with all there is to learn you will be left behind even if we are just talking about the yarn choices.

Enjoy and have fun.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eyes Are Just Too Big

Have you ever heard of the saying, 'your eyes are too big for your stomach'? Well, let's say that you are invited to a friend's house and you know that they are a great cook. You see the array of the different food choices and your eyes start to bulge as you must have a little bit of each dish. Before you know it you have piled up on your plate more than your stomach can handle in one sitting. That is what is called 'your eyes are too big for your stomach'.

Now for me, that saying comes in a different way. My eyes are too big for all of the different projects I have started. Yes I am a small hoarder of projects. I enjoy myself so much, but I know that I just won't be able to make everything that I see with my bulging eyes. As you get more and more involved in the needlearts I'm sure you are finding that to be the case. It can be overwhelming but also overwhelmingly fun at the same time.

I set a goal for myself this year and I'm doing really well with it. Do you want to know what that goal is? It is not bringing in any yarn into my house that is not connected to a project that I would work on right away. No storing of new yarns, no going to festivals and buying, no looking at new patterns and dreaming of the finished product or me working on it. Maybe I will keep the last one. I mean it is only dreaming of what I want to do. What harm could that be? Who am I kidding.

I know you might be saying well that doesn't sound like too much fun. But in any case, I am on a mission. I haven't brought any yarn into the house that was not going to be used for what I call a "now" project or yarn I need to go with a yarn I have for a project. It has been working out.

Do you find yourself in the same situation as me? Do you have yarnitest or projectitest and are looking for a balance? The first thing you must do is to be honest with yourself and the second thing is to learn control. Believe me it is not easy. I hope you can work on your balance as I am. Why don't you join me for the second part of the year and do a couple of changes or deciding differently to be able to work on your control. I'll give a report on mine nearer to the end of the year. But you know what that means for next year - BUY, BUY, BUY. Just kidding.

Enjoy what you are doing and make each moment count.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This Week on 'My Talent Corner'

In this weeks Talent Corner is another student in one of my classes. To me she is an inspiration to others in the needlearts. She is returning to the world of crochet. But what is exciting is that once she got the basics down again she grabbed hold of her hook and took off running after different techniques right away.

From the picture you can see what Denise has been up to lately. She tackled the Solomon's Knot (Love Knot) and made a beautiful very delicate scarf. She had a nerve to bring in this dilabadated towel with a crochet topper and said she wanted to make one. Well, I never had a desire to make a towel topper before so she helped me to delve into something new. After helping her to make one (I made a sample of the process) I liked it. So thank you Denise. Then in class we made a market bag as they learned the granny square. And if that wasn't enough, she delved into the world of beading as she made a couple of braclets crocheted with wire and beads. Well, just surpass the teacher why don't you. She keeps me motivated to do more. Maybe I should just say motivated and keep out the more. I can't do any more. Great job Denise.

My interview with Denise:

Miss Craft Diva: When did you first learn how to crochet?

Denise: When I was about 10 yrs old.

Miss Craft Diva: How did you learn? From a family member, friend, organization?

Denise: I asked my mother to teach me how to knit and crochet, but she's right handed and I'm left handed, so I really taught myself from a book or pamphlet.

Miss Craft Diva: What made you take the class to start again?

Denise: I didn't really take to crocheting and there were a lot of 'old' looking patterns back then. I didn't remember anything that I learned, so I figured I would give it another shot.

Miss Craft Diva: Why do you enjoy crocheting so much?

Denise: It's easy to do and easy to fix mistakes. Projects can be done quickly for a sense of accomplishment.

Miss Craft Diva: What are some future projects you would like to make?

Denise: A modern granny square short vest where the pattern is charted.

Miss Craft Diva: What benefits do you get from crocheting?

Denise: Sense of accomplishment.

It is truly inspiring to see how different ones embrass the needlearts. Thank you Denise for sharing with us your passion with crochet.

May this inspire you to want to learn and grow more in the world of creativity. There will be future projects that I will feature from Denise. As of now, she is busy with her first love - gardening.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The 'V' Stitch Continued

Weather can be so unpredictable. Today for instance is very chilly and rainy. So there is always room in our closet for one more light and skinny scarf just to have on days like today or for a little chilly evening or morning. You don't want the scarf to be too heavy but long enough to wrap around the neck in a way that can give a little extra to an outfit for color and style. The 'V' stitch does just that. It is light and open so that it is just an accent and yet can give enough warmth to your neck but can be worn loose when you are warm enough.

Color is the key that can make it pop. I made mine out of sock yarn but added a triangle to each bottom piece and buttons. I wanted something different. And when I place it around my neck it is just enough. What I like about a little skinny scarf is the difference it can make with the yarn you use and the color you choose. It can be dressed up or dressed down. It is also a scarf that can easily be made shorter or longer as your desired look. It just needs to be place around your neck as you are making it to see how it looks at different lengths.

I am passing along this little skinny 'V' stitch scarf. It also is very easy and a quick project to make. And it doesn't take up a lot of yarn.

V Stitch Scarf Pattern

Size G Crochet Hook

Yarn – Sport weight (3) – 1 skein at least 200 yards

Size: approx. 5" x 52"(with the yarn I used)

(note: If you need to purchase more yarn remember to look at the dye lot number from the skein you have and the one you are going to purchase to make sure they match.)

dc – double crochet
ch – chain

Chain 22

Row 1: double crochet in 4th chain from hook, chain 1, double crochet into same chain as first dc, *skip 2 chains, (dc, ch1, dc) into next chain*. Repeat from * to * ending with dc into last stitch, turn.

Row 2: chain 3, *(dc, ch1, dc) into chain 1 space* Repeat from * to * ending with dc into last stitch, turn.

Repeat row 2 for pattern for the length you want.

Edging around scarf

When you get to the length that you want start the edging of single crochet. For the next row chain 1, turn, single crochet in first double crochet, work one single crochet in each double crochet and one single crochet in chain 1 space across row, when you get to the corner put 3 single crochets in corner stitch to make a round shape, do not turn work but continue single crochets down the side of scarf working 1 single crochet per row to the next corner, work 3 single crochets in corner stitch then work 1 single crochet in each free loop across bottom row which is your foundation chain row, work 3 single crochets in corner, work 1 single crochet in each row down the last side of scarf.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Mistakes to avoid:

  • working only one double crochet in space instead of two
  • no chain between double crochets to form V
  • chaining in between two V’s instead of between the two double crochets
  • not working the last double crochet in top of turning chain of previous row when you get to the end of the row
  • not chaining three at the end of row or beginning of row to start new row
  • making the V between two V’s and not on top of last V of previous row
  • every once in a while hold your work up to the light to see if all your stitches are correct

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's A Baby Shower

The months go so fast. It seems as if it was just yesterday that I was getting ready for the annual baby shower at the Navasink Knitting Guild. For the past few years the guild has put together a baby shower for charity. Everyone that wants to give makes something special for the shower. How could you resist not making a gift for a little bundle of joy.

Last year the baby items were so precious and beautiful. This year is no exception. We all at the guild enjoy showing off the gifts we made and looking at what everyone else made. It is like a fashion show for babies.

As you can see from the picture, I made a baby blanket for a preemie and four hats of different styles and colors.

I took a picture of the array of items from the members of the guild when after each person presented their item it was then displayed so that everyone could look at them.

It is not just items that are displayed but hand made items showing off the talents of techniques and stitch patterns used as we enjoy the act of giving.