Monday, December 21, 2015

Customer Service and Courtacy

In the world we live in there is less and less thought about good customer service. In the full scope of things courtesy can be looked at as a thing of the past. So when I come across good customer service and courtesy it truly makes my day. And it doesn't have to be something big that makes good customer service in my eyes.

I went to Burger King and when the person waited on me at the drive thru window she gave such a pleasant and wonderful smile and greeting. I just had to tell her thank you for your smile. Well, that made her day also. But it didn't stop there. When I was leaving the parking lot I was coming out on a street that usually no one gives you a chance to turn. It can be a challenge. But a driver gave me the signal to come in and I waved thank you because I wanted him to know that I appreciate his act of kindness.

It doesn't take much to give a smile or a nice greeting when you are dealing with people. It's all about the experience that you either want to receive or give. It is not always easy when you have to deal with people. I know I've been so fortunate to be able to look back on my teaching experience with the knitting and crochet and truly say it has been such a pleasure. My students have been a joy to teach and I have grown some lasting relationships during this time that I treasure.

Across the board, it doesn't matter if you are in that customer service job or not, it is all about treating another human with respect and care and you never know how that could impact there day and yours. Since it is becoming more and more of a rarity I find it so important that the giver of such gestures of good customer service be told and especially kindness on the road be shown with a wave of thanks. Both are still out there but I don't look for it so when it happens I am pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Yarn Choices

When I learned to knit and crochet at 10 years old there was no where near the choices of yarns that there are today. And I was not shopping at a yarn store for yarn. Today it is a yarn explosion of companies, colors, textures and more. But one thing I never want to become is a yarn snob. Just like people in general come in all shapes, sizes and nationalities. People have different priorities, spending amounts, circumstances and responsibilities.

It's OK to just shop at a yarn store just like it is OK to just shop at a craft store. With everything that is happening today just to be able to have a de-stresser in our lives is a plus. As for me, I would not be respecting my students that can't afford to frequent a yarn shop if I only want to work with the yarns from there. And I don't have that kind of money either for the more pricier yarns. I'm thankful that I do work at a yarn shop so that I can try a variety of different yarns. But at the end of the day it is all good because there are some beautiful items that I've seen with a variety of yarns including acrylic. I also think of those preemie babies, children, special Olympics, seniors and ones battling cancer that I had the privilege of making items needed and donating them for ones to enjoy and to stay warm.

But my take is this, I love a lot of the acrylic yarns I've worked with from craft stores and my projects came out nice. But I think everyone should experience working with the yarns from a yarn shop as a special gift to yourself or a love one. The yarn shop I work at again is Knits Fabulous. You can click right on the name to go to the website. There are fabulous choices of yarns at a very nice range of prices and I love that.

I think that people feel all the yarns in a yarn shop are expensive and they are not. The yarn shop is really trying and I think doing a successful job at tilting the scale from high price and affordable price. So if you are one that feels I can't afford shopping at a yarn shop don't rule it out because it doesn't have to be a big project to taste some new flavors of yarn. There are store sales to consider as a time to treat yourself.

So if you are near the yarn shop or are itching for a road trip destination with yarn then come check us out and you won't be disappointed

I've been busy as usual with a couple of UFO's and new stuff.

One of my new items is this knitted slouch hat that I love. Especially since it uses buttons as an accent and I have lots of buttons. The hat is from the magazine: Make it! Knits. I picked it up while in Florida because I loved several items that I wanted to make. The name of the hat is Veronica Slouch. It fits great and I love that it has a different cable design to be worn on the side. And I just happen to have three great size charcoal color buttons that goes perfectly with the hat design.
The yarn I used was the Bergere Duvetine. It is a nice soft yarn but it is spun very loose, almost like roving with a thread wrapped around to hold it together. My needle kept lifting the string up so it got on my nerves after a while. I love how the hat worked up and I chose it because I do have to be careful of total wools on my head because it can cause my hair to break. This is 73% Acrylic, 19% Polyamid and 8% Polyester. Unfortunately, you have to make adjustments when your skin or hair has issues. For other items, I'm glad that a lot of the wools I can wear but need to test against my skin to see if it would be too itchy.
The second project is a knitted cowl from the same magazine. The name of the cowl is Ambrosia Cowl. I love the slip stitch design that flows diagonally and used also as a ribbing affect. The yarn I used is Land West Tweed. I loved how the color streamed and looks. It is 47% Wool, 47% acrylic and 6% Viscose.
I have one more to share. The name of this scarf pattern is Pearl-barred Scallop Scarf. It is a free pattern through Ravlery. The yarn for this one is the Baah Aspen - very soft and nice to work with. It is 75% Merrino, 15% Silk and 10% Cashmere. The pattern is a 12 row repeat but easy to do. I can see that this yarn is really going to block well.

I love opening up my world to new things. In this case working at the yarn shop has opened up my world to new yarn choices so I can work across the horizon of yarns. It has been really nice to sample these yarns.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

One Goal - A Continuous Struggle

I went clothes shopping which I am not a fan of. I guess it is because I am tall and I always have issues with length in pants and sleeve length for tops and sweaters. But my newest issue is weight gain. I know there are ones that can relate to this. It is a struggle especially for most of my life I had no problem.

Some say they knit or crochet or think if they start then the problem with eating or snacking will magically go away. Well, I multi-task very well. So that does't work for me. A little bit of knit and crochet and a little bit of snacking goes a long way. I just have to continue to make better choices, especially when I go out for dinner.

So as usual around the end of the year I start to work on goals for the next year. But this one goal of eating healthier and loosing a few pounds is a continuous goal. I don't want to use the word diet because eating healthier has mostly been a part of my life. I do enjoy sweets but especially things with salt. Several years ago I could eat and eat but not gain a pound. Life catches up with ya. My knitted and crochet tops I made in the past fit just a little bit too snug and don't look right so that is another reason to loose.

Let me change this subject to what I've been working on. Well, I have just finished this crochet cowl called Berry Harvest Bandana Cowl.
It is free through Ravelry. I love the pineapple design so this caught my eye. I made it out of the Lana Grossa Cool Wool Print. I do love the yarn. It is 100% Virgin Wool. I would call the spin of the yarn a coil tight spin but it is spongy with a stretch. I put a little different edging on it which I like. As you can see the yarn blocks beautifully. I wish I would have showed it before blocking. I am always amazed at what blocking does which I've said before, brings the stitches alive.
I've also made another cowl from the Crochet Noro book called Granny Triangle Cowl. This is made up of six triangles and then seamed together and finished with a top and bottom edging. The edging is one row double crochet but the next row is my favorite edging stitch - the reverse crochet. This gives such a nice finish to it. I am making this out of two different yarns - Juniper Moon Farm (Moonshine) along with Spud & Chloe (sweater worsted). They worked well together. I used the spritzing of water on just the edges and the seams to block it out then added the finished edging to it. I didn't want to stretch this anymore because the measurements were exact. If I would have used the immerse in water method then it would have stretched too much. With blocking you need to figure out which method will give you the results you want.
I have this shawl I am finishing called Blossoms by the brook using yarn I purchased from Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year - The Verdant Gryphon (hand-dyed DK merino wool). It is really soft and nice to work with. The shawl I am enjoying the construction of the shape because it is different than other shawls I've made. You can follow how the design should line up clearly from the pattern. I think it will be really nice to wear.

I had fun making these and have others in the making. As is said, "You can't just eat one Layes potato chip." And I can't just have one, two or three projects at a time. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy creating and having fun doing it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Logic of Knitting and Crocheting

I have a motto - "Don't Just Knit/crochet". Yes, we would all like to just knit/crochet and not have to do anything else. But that is not going to help us to grow in our knitting/crochet or understand what we are doing. I just started this pattern Rhea Capelet (knitted) from the Knit and Crochet Now!show (nothing much to show yet). It is not often that a pattern will ask you to go from using one needle size to three sizes up. This pattern did but only for the cast on. But why? I could have just did the cast on and not even worry about it but there is a logic to doing certain things that we are told to do and we should know why because it will help in future patterns we do.

What am I working with after the cast on? Well, there is a leaf lace design and it is a wider design that needs room to stretch out. Oh, that is why the difference in needle size because you do not want it to be a tight cast on for such a stitch. And going from the lace design to the straight stockinette body would make it look awkward.

We have to remember that this has been designed and then a sample made to see how it would work. But then we also have to take into account how we knit. Are we a tight knitter or a loosy goosy knitter? That is where the gauge comes in. If we don't do a gauge and we know that we are a loosy goosy knitter then in this case with the needle size the jump or difference might make it too loose. Skipping steps even in life can cause problems. For example, I wanted this clock and I ordered the clock. But what I didn't do was to measure where the clock would go to make sure it would fit in that space. Well, when the clock arrived I went to put it up and of course the space would not fit the clock. So then I had to rearrange things so that I could use the clock which is something I didn't want to do. Not thinking it out or skipping an important step caused a problem. If we do the same in our knitting or crochet we will sometimes regret that decision of skipping an important step. Just a little food for thought.

These are the things that we have to think about before our projects are started. Yes, we would just want to knit/crochet but that could cause a disaster or the end result not to be of our liking because we wanted to skip steps or not use the method given. We can skip steps but there could be consequences to our actions. So I would think about identifying what kind of knitter/crocheter you are and how your knitting/crochet usually comes out with or without gauging to see if delving into a project is the right thing to do for what we are making. We put so much time and effort into our work we don't want the end result not to be of our liking./p>

If you are new at knitting/crochet then you still have some things to learn and mistakes to make. With all that we do we want to keep on learning and changing our habits to what will bring an end result that we are pleased with.

We also want to make life easier with knitting/crochet. So with a larger number to cast on or chain I will mark every fiftieth stitch/chain with a pin so that I would not have to count again and again. You could do it on any number. I just chose fifty because I didn't want to count any higher than that - personal preference comes into the picture.

So what else am I working on? Well I finished two items.

Knitted Ameeta Scarf - yarn: Loops and Thread Impeccable

I enjoyed this scarf and it is an easy and fun pattern to make. But keeping track of the rows is important if you want the design to flow correctly.

Quick Crochet Cable Beret - yarn: Red Heart Soft

This was a very quick beret to make. Once I got use to the pattern I didn't need it. I say this is a good in the middle project between a couple that need more attention as you are making them.

Crochet Short Ruana - yarn: Red Heart Soft

The way this is constructed is in one piece. The back is worked and then one side of the front is worked and then the other side. The sides of the piece is not seemed but left open and a belt is used to hold it in place. I am not sure yet if I will come up with some other closure or not since the belts don't look the best with the extra weight I have - LOL.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Florida Vacation Over

Well you know it will end but you wish time could just stop when you are having such a great time and I did. It has already been a week that I've been back. It was so much what I needed and at the right time. My girlfriend wanted me to see as much as I could and we ran for it. We went to The Big Cat Rescue. If you love cats this is a place to visit and support if you could. Wonderful place and a lot to learn. I loved it because they are mostly big cats so they need a lot of space and their enclosures gave them enough to run and a couple of them were so active playing with their toys. I had to remember that these cats were pets so they would love to play more with balls and other things. But no matter they were respected as wild animals.

But it is sad also that people are still seeing nothing wrong with bringing a wild animal from the wild into their home and thinking that it is going to stay sweet and cute. This world of hurt and pain. Reality of it all stuck its ugly head up fully. Also, it was sad to hear the small numbers left in the wild of some of these cats. Human destruction is a live and well unfortunately. We did meet the founder and heard of her dedication to helping these poor defenseless creatures. If you know anyone that would love to give to a great cause this is one place to tell them about.

But anyway, back to what else I saw, we went to Sea World and experienced some great shows, USF Botanical Gardens, Dali Salvador Museum, Disney's Animal Kingdom which the bird show was great and there was a message behind it regarding our beautiful birds of the wild. We also went to a beach when I arrived and saw a beautiful sunset and went to a beach on the day I was leaving and I walked the beach and just enjoyed the last day.

I also enjoyed sitting on her screened in seating area. She has it fixed up so beautifully with all of her plants surrounding, seating and pictures. It was so comfortable. And the lizards that I enjoyed watching. Yes I am a reptile person. In the past posts I stated that I volunteered at Turtleback Zoo in West Orange, NJ for six years and the snakes were my favorite. Saying that, I was so excited when the alligator stuck his massive head out of the pond and I was talking to him - of course from sitting inside. It would get light at 7:15am and I was out there doing my knitting and crochet, drinking coffee and enjoying the view. But the different birds I saw - I love bird watching. It was a wonderful trip that brought some peace to my mind as I had time to unwind.

Sea World>
USF Botanical Gardens - Tampa>
Sea World - Orlando>
Walt Disney Animal Kingdom - Orlando>
At Animal Kingdom there was a display of a tree, which I want to do research on, that there were carving all over and it was simply beautiful to look at and go around the tree and see what other animals you can find.

My girlfriend loved the crochet pineapple shawl I made for her. I used the yarn Cascade - Longwood. She is so funny because I came in the house and asked for a couple of big plastic bags and two large towels and that I needed to use the bed to block a shawl. I was using the full immersion in water blocking method. She said, "OK" and didn't ask any questions. I then held it up and asked her how she liked it and she said, "Oh that is beautiful." I then said, "It is yours." She was so surprised and happy. I wish I would have taken a picture of it after blocking because the yarn blocks great.

I did get some knitting done because my friend was doing all the driving. I finished this shawlette in the picture and I blocked it last week. This is a free pattern called Multnomah. When I pinned it down I used a yard stick to lay across the top to make sure it was even and that works for me. And a crochet accent scarf called Fisherman's Fan which was fast. I used Juniper Moon Findly DK yarn. I found both patterns through Ravelry. I love accent scarves but don't get a chance to make too many because I always see something else I want to make.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Vacation Time!

I'm a little frazzled because I am trying to get ready to go to Florida. I haven't been there in so many years that I would have to look back at pictures to see what year I was there last. I am excited to visit a friend of mine. She moved down there after retiring and has been there for several years. All I can say is time flies because it doesn't seem that long since her move.

Florida is such a huge state and so much to do. My girlfriend is so organized with this trip. She even made me a chart of the things I want to do because I won't be there but for four days, I'm not totally including when I arrive and when I leave so there is some true packing in to fit the things that I want to do. But she laid it down so nicely that I can figure out what I want to do and what I will need to leave for next time. I just really want to see her, hubby and daughter and her hubby.

So travel is not the way it use to be. You have to worry about so much more than when I went last. I do remember the last trip taking off my shoes but other than that I know it is different with the luggage but I can bring my knitting needles so I am happy.

I am packed but have to make sure the weight is good and bag size works. Then there is always little loose ends to be done. Can you guess what is the most important things I packed? I know you can guess that - it is my knitting and crochet projects. So I am taking with me four projects. Yes I need variety. You never know how long you will need to wait in the airport going and returning. And there are lines to wait on and riding different places. Hurray! I don't have to do the driving so more working on project time. I have mittens call "Cable Cuff Mittens";crochet accent scarf - "Fisherman's Fan"; crochet gloves - "Quick Ribbed Gloves"; fingerless mitts - " Right Round Mitts"

But I did sneak in a couple of crochet pineapple shawls. This is from Cascade Yarns called Alpine Shawl. One is for me and one for my friend that I am visiting. I made her shawl shorter since she is not as tall as me and I didn't want it too long. I can't wait to show her. The weight called for is sport so for the one for me I used Debbie Bliss Rialto and on hers I used Cascade Longwood - see the pictures. They both need to be blocked and the stitches will come a live. On mine I added the fringe that they added to the design. I love it. It is different but it gives it a little extra.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Rhinebeck - Such Fun and Excitement!

When you haven't been to a place in several years and you go with a person that has never been, the level of newness and excitement rises. That is what I felt going to Rhinebeck yesterday for the fiber festival. It was, as usual with a lot of fiber seekers and as I enjoyed every time in the past was the ongoing fashion show that can't be ignored.

I went with a former student and she was so excited. She got sick the week before and was still on the last bit of it during the week of the festival but she was determined to get well before we went on Saturday. Sheer determination I would call that. And we had fun. She was overwhelmed by the number of vendors to choose from, different yarn fibers and the colors galore. Then you have the extras which were wines, cheeses and other goodies to try and buy.

It was a beautiful ride there with the leaves turning. It was a fall day with a little breeze but the sun was out. Then later in the day the temperature changed to cold. But what a wonderful time for the festival because of the weather there were so many that wore their hats, scarves, cowls, sweaters and shawls and enjoyed showing off their work and admiring each other.

Going to the fiber festivals really get you excited to knit and crochet even more. So of course I did not plan on buying several yarns but did (see last picture below). I'm sure you know how that is and if you were there I don't have to say anything else.

The pictures below shows a portion of what was happening there but not limited to because there was even more. Leaving was a bit of a challenge and wait which was not fun but it was all worth it. I hope if you could't go this year that it is on your list for next year. Save those pennies and join the rest of us as we add to our already collection of fibers and projects so we can have more fun.

Greatadirondack Yarn Co (all the colors), Yarns Plus - Rayon Multi-color, Ginger Hill Farm - grey, Holiday Yarns - hand dyed (hot pink, cream and grey strands of color), wooden shawl pins