Monthly Archives: September 2010

Crochet Countdown!

Less than a month until the retreat! Can you believe it? For two years we’ve plotted and schemed to make a crochet fantasy come true, and as this fantasy becomes reality Im too excited for words! Well, that’s not completely true or I wouldn’t be writing this blog post, so let’s just say I’m so excited!

I’ve written about the Puget Sound-Scape Project, and mentioned the afghan we’re creating for the Center for Wooden Boats auction in the spring. A huge thank you to Plymouth Yarn for donating the navy and ecru Encore to create the nautical themed afghan. I also want to thank instructor and volunteer extraordinare Deborah Burger for chosing the fillet charts to use for the colorwork and coming up with some kind of crochet magic that will make this a fabulous project to show off just how cool crochet can be!

Now to tempt you some more… Each evening we’ll have activities and speakers. The first evening is our yarn tasting which I have already blogged about, so let me write a little about the other evening events.

Monday night we are going to be blessed with the presence of Andee Graves, also known as Mamastwohands on Ravelry.com, who will give a fabulous talk on how to keep our hands and bodies healthy while crocheting. Andee is an amazingly talented massage therapist and ergonomics expert and we are so lucky to have her speak on this very important topic! After all we’ve heard the horror stories of carpel tunnel and arthritis which have hampered crocheters throughout time, let’s avoid that fate shall we?

After her talk we’ll play crochet games like the “Free Form Game” a game designed by a CLF Member for National Crochet month. It will help you grow in your free form and shake up the same ol’ same ol’ crochet habits! Plus it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll also play pass the swatch, which will end up being our souvenirs made by each other for each other ūüėÄ

We’ll have give aways each evening with wonderful goodies from hooks to kits and pattern books, and yes, yarn.

Also don’t forget you can buy CLF Gear from our online store ¬†or pick up a copy of the CLF First Ever Book from our website!¬†

If you are just too tempted and must come to the retreat (you know you want to) there are still cabin’s available!Prices range from $67 -$55 per night. ¬†Book yours today by calling 360-387-1005, don’t forget to say you’re with the crochet retreat!

This Shawl Sets our Picot Free!

It’s fall, we need inspiration. If you’re like me and haven’t really started your holiday crafting, and if you aren’t like me please don’t gloat, I thought I’d start awarding some simple and yet elegant projects that will WOW your giftees!

This gorgeous shawl was made by CLF member Espins¬†it’s from the book “Crochet Lace: An illustrative guide to making crochet fabric” by Mary Konoir. The pattern is called Fan and Shell Shawl.¬† I am so in love with this circular shawl, it’s beautiful and let’s talk about that drape, shall we? Gorgeously constructed, beautiful pattern!

¬†I have no choice but to award the Set My Picot Free award to Espins for OUSTANDING and ELEGANT crochet! Wonderful work! May I gush further? I would so wear that any day! I’m inspired!

Creating Puget Sound in Crochet

From WSU Beachwatchers, Island County WA. ¬†So, a last minute addition to our retreat activities. You know when inspiration hits me it hits hard! We’re going to crochet a Puget Sound-scape! Or how to make an ecology in yarn ūüėÄ

The Center for Wooden boats is one of our partners in the retreat, and they are an organization close to my heart! Their main campus is in Seattle, WA on Lake Union, but their newest campus is at Cama Beach. These folks have a mission to bring youth and adults to the water, safely and educated about our marine environment from the boat angle. As they say getting people into sails instead of cells (cell phones that is)… Another group I adore is the WSU Beachwaters, they monitor our beaches and educate the public about our marine environment from under the waves and on the shore lines. We have an AMAZING environment!!

Inspired by the coral reef project, I thought “Wow! Why not crochet Puget Sound!” Cama Beach is officially the most living beach in Puget Sound (as per the Army Corps of Engineers survey), why not use nature as our inspiration, create a massive project and then help fund raise for our wonderful non-profits dedicated to educating people and preserving this unique eco-system of which we are ALL a part of!

So at the retreat we’re going to work on Sea Slugs, and Anenomes, and rocks, and sea grasses and kelp… And why not use the reference guides created by WSU Beachwatchers from Island Co. WA?

Though, if you haven’t noticed, I’m in full retreat mode now that we’re almost a month away! I’m working up a guideline for participation in the project from those not at the retreat! My goal is to have Center For Wooden Boats, Beach Watchers and other non-profits dedicated to our marine environment have use of this project to raise money and awareness!! Plus, it’s soooo cool! I’m working on this fella right now; the Red Octopus!¬†¬†¬†

This is such a fun project! I hope it inspires you to come play with us! October 17-21, 2010 at Cama Beach. Remember you can get day passes at Pinch Knitter Yarns in Stanwood, WA or via the CLF Website!                  

So I’ll shut up now and just share some more cool things that can be crocheted!

                                                      

My favorite grass in puget sound! It’s a cradle for so much life! Best place to find crabbies ūüėÄ

      

                                                                                         

Cro-magination…

Cloudy or blue skies, the power of nature is always felt at Cama Beach.

Imagine with me for a moment. It’s early in the morning on the shores of Puget Sound. You’ve bundled up for the cool October morning, cup of hot coffee or tea or what ever wakes you up in the morning, in hand you huddle with others like wise clutching their morning steam power. There is a fog bank rolling over the top of Whidbey¬†Island coming across the water towards the shores of Cama Beach. The water is still, and dark like glass.

It’s quiet, other than the murmurs¬†and shivers of the early risers, until a lone loon wails it’s¬†plaintive song. It’s cry echos against the hill-side, leaving everyone quietly in awe of the new day.

Through the fog bank, the light of the sun coming up from behind the hillside creates a miasma of pink and purple sunrise.

Shuffling off to class, bags and hooks in hand, focused on learning the new skill, or hoping to just pick up a trick or two, you find yourself draw to looking at the water. And suddenly it doesn’t matter if you are “getting it right”, you realise that you are sitting in a room with others, like yourself who love the textures of the fiber they are working with. You stop your reverie and look about the room, instead of picking up your hook you decide to watch the others. Their hands are dancing, in silent rhythms, magic is being made with a single hook and a strand of 4ply yarn.

After class you gather with a new friend to sit at a table outside and have lunch. Sure it’s misting, but the fresh marine air is crisp and clean. Worries melt away, and the early morning¬† cry of the Loon is replaced by the chattering of Bald Eagles. It’s primal, it’s touches your soul.

After lunch you gather together with your friends to enjoy a talk or a workshop, and once again the hooks come out, and the inspiration flows. You’ve figured out a new skill, or a half step that just makes it so much easier. Then you hear the shout of someone from outside, “Whale! Whale!” Hooks get dropped and people rush to the shore, and the local Orcas are playing not more than 100 feet off the shore, the Bald Eagles sing out, Kingfishers dive for fish, and some where you hear a gull laugh at the folly.

Beyond the crochet, beyond the new technique, beyond the learning about yarn and hooks, and fiber and color, you have had a time, that takes you back…no television noises, no non-stop chattering, no rush hour, no bumper to bumper shopping carts.¬† The joy and awe on everyone’s faces illuminates the afternoon, and then again the crochet hooks and yarn begin to stitch their magical threads.

As the sun begins to set behind the Olympic Mountains, the orange ball radiates out shafts of light that begin to paint the clouded sky in an artists’ palette¬†of purples, reds, tangerine and it is outlined in gray and white. Everyone stops to look, to take a photo. The Eagle cries one last time as it heads to its nest, and the Raven child says “kerplunk”, you hear a distant Great Horned Owl hoot in the distance, and then the Loon once again sounds its plaintive cry…

Time for dinner, everyone decides to make it a potluck. The gathering of kindred souls has created a bubble that no one wants to break. Sitting in the old building, warm and cozy, good home cooked food to share with friends. Laughter, and more hooks and yarn it’s almost surreal in how good the experience is…

Now for the evening program. Not just a speaker full of hot air, but an interactive event, no one cares if you’re crocheting while they talk. No one admonishes you, you’re on a roll, everyone gets that. The instruments come out and songs are song both silly and sad, fun and heartwarming. The sounds of a dulcimer echo off the hills, and you are transported to a time further back still, when humans enjoyed simpler pleasures.

At last it’s time for bed so another day can begin a fresh. You wash, and change and scramble into your warm blanket, and as you rest your head on your pillow the visions of the day pass through your mind’s eye. You’ve never felt so relaxed, you’ve never been so inspired, you never expected life to be this good.

Yeah, I’m pitching the retreat…but I thought instead of telling you how reasonably priced it is, and how much work we’re putting into it, that I would share my end goal with you. The above story is exactly my vision for people coming to the retreat. I have a little piece of Heaven here on Camano Island; I want to share it with you.

Around the table at the LYS

So yesterday¬†afternoon I went in to speak with Sirkku, the owner of the LYS who is most local to me. She is a huge supporter of my endeavors. I’ve known her for about 9 years, pre-LYS days even, and she is an amazing person to know.

She and June (the knitting instructor) and I often sit and work at the table in her 1600 sq. ft shop, and discuss the troubles of dealing clients and students. Of course not when they are in the shop mind you, but we all have our war stories.

We swap technique information, and teaching techniques, and problem solve together, it doesn’t matter which craft mind you, because some of this stuff is just universal. Anyway, as we were working on our projects and chatting, the subject of yarn purchases came up.

Funny this, they get as many knitters¬†asking for cheap acrylic yarns in there as they do crocheters. They have as many knitters¬†afraid to try things beyond¬†wash cloths and scarves as they do crocheters. Hmmmm. Really? Of course that doesn’t surprise me at all, if you look on Ravelry, amongst the stellar and beautiful projects in both crafts, the majority are either more utilitarian, or less expertly made. Nothing wrong with that, everyone has to learn some time, but crochet does not have the corner on the ugly market. Just sayin’.

It is so validating to sit with these expert knitters¬†and have them voice the same frustrations I do about my students. Which is mostly that people are afraid to rib out mistakes as if it were a failure. I was watching June, who is a phenomenal knit artist, rip out an entire row of 4 color Fair Isle, in a very fine and fuzzy yarn. Yeah, she’s good. I rip out my mistakes in the shop all the time. Ripping out doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do, it means you’re good enough to catch mistakes that will really alter the final outcome of your project.

One of my other frustrations is my students expect to crochet as fast as I do. No matter how much I explain I’ve been at this for over 35 years, and that there are many experienced crocheters who don’t crochet as fast as I do. Then there is the person who is so worried about looking foolish that they won’t try a new stitch pattern, or project because they don’t want to make mistakes.

Mistakes are what we learn from the most. No one learned a dang thing from being perfect people. Oddly, June has the same frustrations.

You know what’s the most refreshing thing about chatting at the table in the LYS. We have found that although our techniques work differently, we have a lot in common. June wants to learn to crochet more, and I have agreed to pick up the sticks. She wants it for edging and embellishments, and me? I want to knit to make a plain knit sweater back. That’s it. That’s all I want to be able to do. I can crochet it, but it might be cool to make a plain sweater back just once and then decided which technique I’d rather do. I have no interest in learning knit lace, I can crochet lace in my sleep. I have no desire to learn knit cables, I can crochet those too. We’ll teach each other cause we can, and probably understand how to teach folks even more effectively.

I like that Sirkku¬†and June are honest about their customers instead of pretending they all gravitate to the silk/merino blend and purchase bags at a time. At least they can be honest. It doesn’t matter which fiber art you do, there are those who will spend money and those who won’t. There are the adventurous and then there are those who are not. They invited me to promote the retreat at the local knitting guild. I’m going to, we’ll see if I make it out alive or not (joking)…June and Sirkku¬†will have my back, and are really intrigued to see what we come up with there at the retreat.

Yarn Tasting: What the heck is that?

Surely you’ve heard of a wine tasting?¬† Various wines are on display and you get to taste them, cleanse your pallette and move on to the next. Well, a yarn tasting is not that different, only it doesn’t involve wine, spitting or crackers.

At the retreat our opening night will feature a yarn tasting. In the spirit of fun yarns of various fibers, weights and textures will be on display, with various wooden hooks to use to test drive the yarn. You can try out your favorite stitches, or decorative stitches as you move about the room playing with hooks and yarns.

We’ll be using Laurell Hill hooks, because those are some of my absolute favorites, plus I just adore those guys! There company model is open, intelligent and sensitive to the needs of their consumers and the producers of their products. They are a local NW company based out of Eugene, Oregon. I love how they market their products at shows, having the hooks available to test drive with yarn! Rick gave me a killer deal on the hooks, and I can pass that on to the retreat goers after the activities that will require hooks! And someone may get very lucky and win one of these fabulous hooks!

I can’t wait to use my nice serving platters to display the yarn! It’s going to be too much fun!

How to Make Crocheted Sock Monkeys (via *Camp Sock Monkey*)

This is a great blog! I love sock monkeys! And who knew there was a crochet book on them? Fabulous!

How to Make Crocheted Sock Monkeys Crocheters, stop hanging around — your wait is over!Here's a version of the sock monkey for your stitching pleasure.With a touch of sewing and embellishment, even thelittlest fans will go bananas over this swinging pair!Available at Amazon.com … Read More

via *Camp Sock Monkey*

It’s a good day to Dye…

I keep getting asked, “So what does the retreat fee cover?” Now, granted I do have the schedule up on the website, which details the activities. But, I thought I might inspire you all, both those that have registered and those who have yet to do so, with the “GRAND PLAN!”…

In answer to the question, the retreat fee covers the purchasing of supplies for the workshops, and anything else I can’t get donated for our wonderful retreat goers. Morning classes are separate from the retreat fee, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have learning opportunities if you just sign up for the retreat!

In the mornings we’ll be working on a Puget Soundscape. Crocheting the underwater eco-system that exists just feet from the shores of Cama Beach. I will be working on that in the next few weeks, and will start posting my pictures. A local business will host a party in the Winter or Spring (we are just creating the plan) which will be a fund raiser for a local environmental educational group, and we will use the Puget Soundscape as the center of the party!

In that experience you can learn new stitches, work with new fibers, I’m providing the yarn! Our experienced staff and volunteers will be on hand to share some of their knowledge and experience. You won’t be alone in this adventure! It’s going to be fun!

The Dye Workshop on Wednesday will be awesome, I’m going to try to have some light colored yarns, but please if you are coming if you can bring something you want dyed that would be great! I’m providing the dyes, and pots, and the expertise! I will teach you have to make long repeats of color for crochet, how to set your dyes, and how to make “mottled” or colorful yarns that will not pool into splotch city.¬† I will teach several methods of dyeing including kettle dyeing and my secret recipe will be unveiled for oven dyeing!

Our games will be Pass the Swatch and the Free Form game, both designed to teach us about our yarns, hooks, and stitches. Each game is designed to expand our understanding of crochet and to help us with various issues! We’ll also be making each other souvenirs in this fashion…so imagine a motif with five or six people’s work…when you go home it’s like having an autograph book! “Look at what Bonnie did on row 6! I love those stitches!)

Nature walks or bringing nature in to the buildings with us (if it’s too icky outside), we’ll explore textures, and colors. Wow, sounds like a class? Yeah, we’re calling it a workshop ūüėÄ

Sounds like a bang for your buck to me!

Plus we’ll have music and speakers, and an opportunity to give back to Center For Wooden Boats who have generously partnered with us! We’ll be making afghan squares in nautical motifs for the project.¬† Don’t know how to do color work? excellent time to learn, and we’ll be on hand to help!

So you see, as much as these are experiences, they are learning experiences as well. Yes, we will play and have fun. But it’s kind of like my “Craziest Yarn” competition at the Stanwood Camano Fair, if you can spin the weirdest, wildest yarn, and get feathers and foamy bits and straws to stay in your yarn, the next time you go to spin a sock yarn you’ll find it that much easier .

There is always method to my madness!!

So, come on JOIN US! You know you want to!

Hookalicious Monkeys!

I love, and I mean I lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve monkeys. These sock monkey crocheted toddler mitts are AWESOME!

Created by CLF Member Debz for her etsy store these are too wonderful for words! These would make FABULOUS christmas presents…heck they’d be the perfect ANYTIME present! Because I love these so much I am awarding them the Hookalicious Award for outstanding croheted wonderfullness…and yes, wonderfullness is a word cause I say so!

Cro-citement! Crochetivity! Cro-lovely!

Now that school is up and running, and Crochet @ Cama¬†is just around the corner! Just over a month until it’s here! I can’t believe it! I am getting soooooooooooooo excited. Two years of scheming and dreaming is almost at an end and the fun will begin!

A quick reminder that the early bird price of $75 will stay in place until tomorrow, Sept. 4, 2010. I know the website says Sept. 2, but I haven’t had a chance to update the website, so take advantage of me!!! You can find out more about the retreat, including registration here on the CLF¬†Webiste. Remember the retreat fee covers all of the activities, excluding the morning classes, those you need to register for separately. After you pay for your retreat you’ll be directed to the class registration page. If you miss that, don’t worry, I send you an email with important registration information including the link to class registration. But, hurry you don’t want to miss out on a class because it’s full!

Locally here in NW Washington State you can get day passes at Pinch Knitter Yarns¬†in Stanwood, WA. They entitle you to all priveledges and activities at the retreat (except the classes, but you can sign up for those at the store too). I will try to get those up on the website in the coming week as well. That way if you’re working you can maybe take a day off or play hookey instead of having to worry about all four days!

Once again I want to thank Center for Wooden Boats for also being our partner! We’ll be making an afghan for them as a donation for their wonderful charity auction held each spring. The proceeds go to their programming that serves under privileged urban youth, bring them in touch with the confidence that making things with your hands brings and with their natural world! I love this organization!

Now for the fun part, thanks to a dear friend on Camano Island I have come up with our final and most fun activity! I’m sure you’ve heard of the Coral Reef Project that has gone global. If not here’s what is on display at the Smithsonian (our very own Bonnie Pierce, who is teaching at the retreat has pieces included!) in Washington, DC.¬† Well, I thought hey why not do a Puget Sound-scape! Since we’ll be right on the shores of the sound why not create that lovely underwater eco-system in crochet?

Puget Sound has an amazingly diverse eco-system that is threatened by toxins produced by industry, shipping, and the local population. Calling attention to it in a beautiful way, and hopefully having some events in our local area post retreat we can perhaps gain awareness and some donations for our local Washington State University¬†Extension Program (facing terrible budget cuts) Beach Watchers. These folks do a fabulous job of monitoring¬†beaches, providing elementary, secondary and adult educational opportunities, and reminding us all that Patrick is a Sea Star and not a Starfish (inside joke…).

I’m going to get the ball rolling on that project pre-event to give people an idea, but imagine creating eel grass in crochet, and nudibranchs,sea cucumbers, sea stars, sun stars, crabs, clams, oysters, muscles, kelp, bull kelp, sea lettuce, rocks, and wee little fishes! I think we can make something gorgeous while teaching each other new stitches and offering each other creative inspiration!

So, yes, I’m hyper. I’m excited…and I hope you can come and cro-spazz out with me!