Monthly Archives: August 2010

Good Bye Summer!

Here in the North West Washington State we are saying a sad good-bye to Summer. The skies opened up, and that cold North wind is a blowin’ something good. It appears Fall has arrived without RSVPing first.

I suppose it’s all good, with my daughter going to the high school starting on Thursday, and my son attending the home school parent/school partnership program next week, my life too has had a change of season. It was bound to happen, kids grow up, and I was going to have to figure out what to do with myself eventually. That’s one of the reasons I ran with the whole CLF idea.

Getting ready for the retreat is my focus at the current moment, that and a new venture that isn’t really crochet related at all.

If you were watching the facebook page or the twitter feed, you may have noticed that I was back to my old haunt of teaching personal growth classes. I’ve taught them off and on for about 18 years, all over the globe. I took a wee break from that to raise the kidlets, and now it seems my true calling is ringing that old doorbell.  My latest class/workshop is Beyond Intention: Walking in Trust. Basically a forum to identify resistance in your life (fear, anger, anxiety, reactivity) and strategies to work with the ebb and flow of life. In essence, how to be “fearless”, which as you know well, I’m not fearless, but I move past my fears. At first I thought, who the heck am I to teach a class like this? I’m so full of resistances! But, since that is the case, and I am constantly having to get out of my own way to function and thrive in the world, maybe that helps. I can teach it, because I am not perfect, it’s not natural to me, and therefore I had to find language for myself as well as others to describe it.

By the way, the workshop in Oregon was great! And my musings were well met, and as I say in the class, “I have no answers for you, I’m just really good at asking questions!”

So with that in mind, I’m back to work on the retreat, and I have a confirmation from the massage therapists that yes they would like to come play with us, if only for a day or two (depending on work schedules!). So crochet and massage is a huge possibility! YAY! We’re finalizing the details for the yarn party on Monday which will take place at lunch. My bad on saying the yarn tasting was Monday night, it’s not…It’s on Sunday night. Our dear Andee Graves (Mamastwohands) will be speaking about Crochet & Ergonomics on Monday night! Sorry Andee!

If you are from the NW and can just make a day of the retreat, I will have day passes available. They cost $30. They can be purchased at Pinch Knitter Yarns in Stanwood, or contact me personally via email.

We still have room for about 8-10 more people. And the early bird special ends soon!! You can share cabins with your friends, and your friends don’t have to do the retreat! It’s really affordable when you split the cost up! The cabins are warm and cozy and we’re going to have so much fun! Don’t think you won’t learn anything in the activities, it’s all designed to open up creativity and teach new skills! Trust me, we’re going to have a blast!

So please don’t miss out on coming to our retreat!! Register today!

Book Review: Crochet Adorned

 A few weeks ago I was delighted to find a review copy of Crochet Adorned in my mailbox. Linda Permann’s wonderful book dedicated to quick and easy projects designed to truly adorn your garments, snazz up your wardrobe, or make quick gifts for family and friends is a joy to read.

Have a blouse that you love, but it’s seen better days? Give it a trim, or do some inset lace into the sleeves! Do you have some cute canvas shoes? Add an edging! Earrings and belts, lace trims and solid borders fill this book with fabulously fashionable ways to upgrade your existing wardrobe!

In today’s economy we need more books like this! In today’s ecology we need more books like this! Learning to refresh rather than to throw out, learning to spruce up instead of spend, brings back some of the good aspects of the old days.

The photography in the book is excellent as are the instructions. I did a test on my daughter and her best friend, and both of them (very picky people too, and very into what’s hot and what’s not) gave the book a thumb’s up! In fact, my daughter and I are going to be applying some of the ideas and techniques to some of her oldie but goody clothes to spruce them up for the new school year!

The stitch dictionary at the end of the book is worth having all on its own, great instructions and again very well photographed! It’s both artful and clear, yay for being able to see the stitches.

I give this a five out of five flaming hook review! You can buy it at your local bookstore or find it on

Also, just a reminder that time is running out on the Early Bird Retreat Special! Go to the CLF Website to register for Crochet @ Cama for only $75! Great classes and workshops, activities and fun!

Retreat News & Blog Forecast

Well, I finally have a moment to blog. I tell you the middle of July through August are crazy times for this crochet fanatic!

It’s even more crazy as I scramble through the late stages of the retreat planning. I would like to remind you all that I have NEVER organized a retreat before, but I have done lots of work with groups. I hear getting the place is the hardest part, but for me that was the easiest beings I live next door practically to Cama Beach State Park. (No you will not be camping! I swear it! It’s way too comfy a place. I do NOT do camping.)

We still have room for about 10 more people, and if we want those morning classes to happen we need to get registered. You KNOW you want to!

This retreat will be a mix of education and expansion of crochet skills. Building community, and friendships and bolstering our creativity. Did I mention how fun it’s going to be? I’m thrilled and excited to be able to do this with people. I’ve kept the prices low to make sure people of all income brackets can participate.

On top of that I have some friends with some pretty special talents wanting to come up and offer massage and other self care techniques; I still have to work out the details, but if this is of interest to you let me know.

Please remember even if you are staying outside of the park, that the retreat fee is in place, this covers the cost of renting buildings and some other fun little perks.

My local yarn store is hosting a party for us on Monday. In fact remind me to change the schedule, we’re going to do that during the lunch break, and I’ll have a separate yarn tasting that evening. Sirkku just brought in some fabulous crochet stitch markers that are awesomely made and priced! (Can you say pretty and affordable? I knew you could.)

Anyway, if you haven’t registered PLEASE PLEASE Do check out the retreat here, contact me with questions!

Also, I just got my review copy of Linda Permann’s book, Crochet Adorned today. I’ve only had about ten minutes to flip through it, but wow…great photos and from my initial glances some really cute projects. I’ll delve into it tonight and let the daughter weigh in her two cents as well. She is a great critic 😀

So stay tuned, that review is on it’s way!

This hat Sets Our Picot Free!


This is a fabulous hat! Made by CLF Member Rubyshoecreations using the Lattice Hat pattern from Rheatheylia. I love the surface crochet lattices, and saw some other versions of the hat on as well. With fall approaching I ask you, can we make enough hats? No, no we cannot. Hats are fabulous accessories and in my un-humble opinion you can never have too many of them!

Congratulations Rubyshoecreations, you are hereby awarded the CLF Set My Picot Free award for making a fabulous hat!

I would also like to remind all of our readers to go to the CLF Website to sign up for the retreat! We’re getting close to the deadline for the early bird special to expire! Only $75 for a four-day retreat folks! We’ve got a yarn tasting planned for Monday October 18, Guest Speakers in the evenings, activities in the afternoons including a Dye Workshop specifically with crochet in mind, as well as morning classes that you must pre-register for!

You can get your buddies together to room in the warm and cozy cabins, and we’ve got so much fun planned, it will be a true CLF experience! Liberating, Community Building and Crochet like you have never crocheted before!

Another fair is past, time to look forward to the retreat!

Well, back to the modern world of cell phones and internet connections. I have to say this year’s fair was the best I’ve had in years!! Even though it rained, and of course it had to rain heaviest when we were judging fleece. For three hours I stood and clerked for our judge with rain pouring off the canopy and down my back, trying to keep the fleece dry was indeed a Herculean effort!

We had some beautiful entries this year from a beautifully finished felt purse created by a 14-year-old exhibitor, to a knit tam made from lace weight spindle spun 2 ply yarn, but my real favorite was the crochet collection by exhibitor Chris Cockett. The story behind these crocheted items is one that will amaze you!






Crocheted with 2ply hand spun silk thread

The tiny ornaments to the left and right of the doily are a booty and a moccasin, edged in metallic sewing thread, and the moccasins have dangling beads as an embellishment. They are no bigger than 3 inches long, and 2 and a half inches tall. She used a size 7 steel crochet hook, and 2 ply hand spun silk thread which was not the most evenly spun. Her work is highly skilled, but even more so when you find out the whole story.

Chris had a stroke earlier this year, it was quite severe, leaving her paralysed on her left side. Now, as crochet experts, we know that we use our non-dominant hand every bit as much as we do our dominant hand. Chris and I crochet very similarly, we hold our work and control our tension with our left hand, we dance a bit, with our fingers on the left hand manipulating the threads for tension purposes. Not only could Chris not feel her left hand, her entire arm was numb and jerks suddenly as nerves get messages through from her brain.

The day after her stroke, while still in the hospital she demanded her crochet, she has been crocheting since she was a little girl and didn’t want to lose her beloved craft. Two months after her stroke she began to crochet these beautiful and nostalgic ornaments, and the cross bookmark. She complains that the doily took her three weeks to complete, instead of the one week it would have before the stroke.

As a hand spinner as well as a crocheter, let me tell you the challenge of working with silk like that! It likes to mate to itself, and is difficult to rip out, it’s so fine that it knots up, and it loves to tangle. It is slippery, and stains easily, and it’s hard to keep an even stitch when the silk is as varied in diameter as this particular skein is (thick and thin spots).

When she brought the entries in last Wednesday, I cried, she cried and we hugged. Crocheter to crocheter, we both know what it took for her to accomplish this feat of skill. We both know how much the craft means to her, it has been her sanity for many troubled years, and her joy to gift those she loves. She makes gifts for her nurses and doctors, and the receptionists at the offices in town, her grand babies have little dresses and sweaters, and she decorates dolls too. Her fillet crochet is gorgeous, and yet she has been looked down upon before by those who do not recognize crochet as a skill. This year was different. She sat in the log cabin demonstrating and I would point her out to people and explain that the lady pictured above her work was sitting with us, and tell her story (she didn’t want to herself) and explain how amazing these pieces are under any circumstance let alone doing this post-stroke.

And now, ladies and gents, you know why I do the fair. Every year there is a story, every year someone in our department reaches a point of victory. They find out just how capable or creative they really can be in their art forms or in their lives, and sometimes the two cross over. It is an honor to know this self appointed, “Determined German” and I only hope that someday if I should be in the same situation I would have the guts and grit to persevere and over come my obstacles.

You can meet Chris at our upcoming retreat this October! To sign up for the retreat go to the CLF Webpage and click on the links!

It’s Fair Time Again!!

I know this blog has been quiet, too quiet. For that I am truly apologetic!  But once again it’s Fair Time in the Stanwood Camano area of Washinton State. As superintendant of the Hand Spinning and Fleece department the end of July and beginning of August find me frazzled and frought with creative bursts of energy followed by lows of exhausted drooling.

I would not change it for the world. For a week each year I am in a wonderful old log cabin, spinning wheel, carding brushes and crochet hooks at the ready to mystify and dazzle the general public. Children swarm our outpost of pre-modern life, and old folks come to tell us the stories of the aunts, grandmas, uncles and grandpas who taught them how to spin, or card, wash f;leece. warp looms, and of course crochet and knit. We are a refelction of what used to be, when everyone knew everyone else, when the smell of fresh baked bread was a daily thing to take for granted not a priveledged event. We harken back to lazy summer afternoons, where you could sit on a porch and shuck corn for hours, or shell peas, or snap beans, while someone told stories of their childhood days or fishing tales where fish got bigger with each telling.

We remind people that communications happen best you speak to someone kindly, with a smile, and attend to them with interest, not a text message or a yap fest without empathy. We remind people that it takes more than two hands to get a job done, and that somethings don’t really change. We inspire and teach, and we learn, we learn so much every year.

Why just today an older woman came in to visit with one of our volunteers, and told stories of stilling on her grandmother’s wood fired stove, learning to crochet on weekends early in the morning, waiting for the house to warm up. She’s crocheted for about 70 years, and spoke of the 12 lapghans she crocheted in the past four weeks to give away to the senior center, to folks who were “old”  What did I learn? I watched my teenaged daughter’s face as she listened to the woman tell her stories, and then the two of them talked crochet. There wasn’t anything “new” in what I learned, perhaps it was more of a reminder, that really the whole world can move as fast as it wants, tech can make us reach across oceans, and make life go by faster thant he nano-seconds we like to keep track of, but there is nothing more prescious than a young person listening to an older person and then feeling safe to tell her stories too.

We often forget in our quest for knowledge, in our quests for perfection and success that our lives are short, and time is more often best spent visiting, in person, and listening to each other, and yes, learning.

I’ll be at the Stanwood Camano Fair in Stanwood WA from 10-8pm Wednesday Aug. 4, taking entries, and then come on by and see me Friday Aug 6 thru Sun Aug. 8, 2010. We have a fabulous time, come pull up a chair on the porch, I can talk and spin at the same time, or maybe we can just crochet together. You tell me your stories and I’ll tell you mine!