Tag Archives: Crochet Classes

Crochet@Cama in Review ~ Photos and Fun!

 The retreat began with beautiful music by Don and Deb (Cerdeb) Burger of North Carolina, our LYSO (Local Yarn Store Owner) Sirkku Bingham joined in to play her sheep! Goody bags in hand, with crochet hooks at the ready, the first of many evening door prize drawings got the festivities kicked off!

The weather was unseasonably beautiful, and I’d love to take credit for it, but I’m not going to…beautiful sunny brisk days with gorgeous moonlit nights, and the water…Did I mention it stayed glass like all through the retreat? Eeriely fabulous!

From morning classes where folks learned new skills…

And yes...we bought yarn!

On Monday the local yarn store in Stanwood WA, Pinch Knitter Yarns hosted a wonderful luncheon party for our group of mad crocheters! Wonderful nibbles and fabulous yarn was had by all!

Monday night Andee Graves (Mama2Hands) gave an inspiring and intreguing talk about ergonomics and how to keep our hands, shoulders and necks healthy as we hook! Inspiring because she’s coming up with several classes for next year that will help crocheters on their road to healthy hooking and creative expression! I just can’t wait!!

Andee teaching us all about hooks, handles, grips and stretching!

Tuesday featured more classes! From free form to Commando Crochet to the dyeing of much, much yarn…

Bonnie Pierce free form crochet artist extraordinaire with Mary McDaniel

Many yarns were dyed on Tues

Jimbo and his giant hook "Dippy"

The Center For Wooden Boats' nautical afghan was nearly complete!

Deb Burger took on the charity afghan project. It’s not just any project, but a beautiful nautical themed afghan done in filet using Plymouth Encore. We finished all of the squares (20x20in) and just a bit of the border was left. More to come on that in future blog posts!

We had a great time trying on new stitches, and modeling each other’s clothes!

Group photo and ready for next year!

More retreat photos to come here on the blog and on our website! One thing for sure, we’re doing this again!! Mark your calendars for 2011! October 16-20 at Cama Beach State Park!!

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.

Crochet @ Cama! Classes & Activities

Ok, be prepared, my mind is solely focused on the Crochet @ Cama Retreat! You will be hearing a lot about it from now until the end of September. Why? Because I am a) excited b) I talk about things I’m doing.

Todays post is featuring the work of our fabulous teachers, Karen Whooley, Deb Burger, Jim “Jimbo” Price, and Bonnie Pierce, and yeah me Laurie Wheeler.

There is still time to sign up for classes, I would hate to have to have any cancelled due to a lack of sign ups, and I would also hate for you to miss out because the classes are full!  You must sign up for the retreat or purchase a day pass (coming soon) in order to sign up for the retreat! So do it today!

 Karen Whooley will teach a class on Fair Isle Crochet. You’ll be making a swatch, not this huge afghan but I just love this photo! If you click the photo it will take you to the project page on Ravelry. Karen is a gifted crocheter and a wonderful instructor, she has a very clear and concise way of teaching and infinite patience! 

Karen is also teaching a class on beginning crocheted lace. Whether you’re working in yarn or thread, you can learn some very simple stitching techniques that can lead to beautiful objects like those pictured above!

 How to crochet socks from the toe up are also being taught by Karen at the retreat! Don’t miss an opportunity to learn Karen’s tips and tricks! You’ll love it!

Internationally celebrated, Bonnie Pierce is a gifted crocheter and Free Form Diva! She is offering a three hour class on Beginning Free Form crochet that you just don’t want to miss!

Photographing you Finished Object! With Deborah Burger. Deb is a great photographer, and is teaching this short class on photo techniques for crocheters twice at the retreat! You want to sign up if you want your photos to pop online in your Ravelry projects page, or if you are trying to get published professionally, and especially if you sell your own patterns independently! Deb is also a gifted and talented crocheter and instructor with vast amounts of teaching experience! She and her husband are coming all the way from North Carolina to join us at the retreat, so sign up for her class! Trust me you’ll love the experience!

Whittlin’ is what Jimbo does best…or so he says, I personally think he does a great many things well! I have played with his hand turned hooks, and own a few 😀 Jim is offering two fabulous classes on how to whittle your own hook and our most subversive class yet! How to turn a bamboo needle into a hook! I can not wait for that one!!  This is me and Dippy crocheting together 😀 Dippy is accompanying Jim to the retreat…you too can crochet with Dippy 😀 Check out Jim’s blog to see his stunning work and know that we’ll be in safe hands when we learn to whittle!

And me “Fearless Leader”, Laurie Wheeler am teaching two courses: All About the Yarn, and Commando Crochet, Let’s Go Patternless!  You can learn to do and make things like

 This pirate outfit or a motif jacket or a bag or purse or scarf…Yes, I did NOT use a pattern to make that over coat ;D I’ll give you some really easy and simple information to take your crochet into confident new territory!

All about the yarn will help you get there too! Learning about your materials is important! In fact to add to that class experience if you go to my lulu.com store you’ll find the Secrets of Yarn Guide which is the platform for the All about The Yarn class 😀 It’s inexpensive and  really useful!

I’ve found a further activity for us, as a member of the community on Camano Island expressed interest in the Coral Reef Project, well heck we’re on Puget Sound, we can make a Crocheted Sound-Scape! How cool is that, and man do I have lots of yarn to share with you all!  So imagine this: We’re having a “Yarn Tasting”, Crochet Fix It Clinic, Dye Workshop, Afghan Making for Center for Wooden Boats (Our partner), our local LYS in Stanwood, WA Pinch Knitter Yarns is hosting a private party for us on the Monday during an extended lunch time!!

Can you believe all of this? Plus evening speakers and games, it’s all crochet, it’s all the time…Heck it’s a forward kind of retreat!

Now to take these fabulous classes you MUST sign up for the retreat! So do it quick, the price goes up to $95 on Sept. 2! Get your early bird deal NOW!!! Only $75!

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!

And life goes on…

Before I get down to brass tacks and business, I want to thank you all for the beautiful messages of condolence. I’d like to say that I’m “over it” and moving on, but I can say, I’m merely moving. Truth be told, I’ve experienced a lot of grief in my life and it is really no stranger. This time though it’s just a wee bit stacked up, and I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other to get my work done in between fits of pouting and mourning.

Sometimes life just ain’t fair.

And again, thank you so very much for your kind words and thoughts.

So, maudlin blahing aside, here’s the work at hand.

Please register for the retreat by going to the CLF Website !!  I know I’m going to need it by October, that’s for sure!

We have people coming from all over the US, from New Jersey to Colorado, Montana to Califoria, it’s really amazing to see the registrants home bases! We can sure use some local Washington folk, so I’ve finished our brochures and those will be sent to local yarn stores every where in the North Puget Sound area. Come on people, sign up, let’s show the industry what we’re made of…

I even added a new afternoon workshop: How to Dye Yarn for Crochet! Ooooh yeah, we’re gonna have a good ol’ fashion dye party!

The retreat is October 17-21, 2010 at one of the most beautiful venues you can find in Puget Sound!

Crochet Lessons: Learning Curves

So, my dear CLFers, you and I have been on this fabulous journey together for over 2 1/2 years! Isn’t it amazing? And I have a confession to make, I haven’t been following my own advice.

That’s right, Fearless Leader, has not been taking the medicine she has been so liberally prescribing! (Though I never really claim to be Fearless, since I’m anxiety prone, that would by lying…) I have to say in the two and a half years we’ve been around, the one person who hasn’t taken me seriously is me. To be honest, it kind of freaks me out when I find out people do take me seriously, or listen to what I have to say, or even simply agree with my uppity notions.

So, this week I really took stock of myself, my dreams, aspirations, what I want out of life, looked at where I am going, want to go, wish to do, and since I was sick, I was pretty uninterrupted. I couldn’t use the phone much cause I could barely speak, I didn’t feel like being on-line (a real testament to having a bad cold since I never go this long without checking email or Facebook). I cared that I could get up to make soup, I couldn’t even crochet. I could think. I thought a lot, you don’t need to know what those thoughts were perse, but rest assured there were realizations. By Thursday last week, I was able to get up to make my own soup, and knew I could teach my Friday morning Beginning Crochet Class. It wore me out, but I knew it was important to teach this student whom I’d never met…Don’t ask me how I knew, let’s just call it intuition.

During this class, my student apologized for her lack of skills no less than 100 times. She was taking the BEGINNING CROCHET CLASS. She was neither visual or audial as a primary learning style, but rather kinesthetic, she apologized for not getting the information.  I found ways to impart the information, and she apologized.

She refused to acknowledge when I really complemented her genuinely on her work. She has a natural talent for crochet, very even tension, and a very nice hand. So she couldn’t remember the stitch names, so she was having trouble remembering yo, insert hook into stitch, three loops on hook, yo draw yarn through 3 loops on hook (a half double crochet)…So, I made a noise pattern that didn’t require thinking about words…and I had her write down the individual steps…she appologized.

Eventually, I got her to stop apologizing by saying in a very tired and worn out voice after she compared herself to me, ” {Insert Name Here}, I have been crocheting longer than I can remember. I have crocheted everyday for the past 17 years, and I do this for hire. I am my own sweatshop. You are learning and beginning, you are perfectly attuned to your skill set now. Make what I do your goal, but not your measuring stick.”

The minute I said that, she got the stitch she was having trouble learning and we moved on to the next one. We went a 1/2 hr over the class time (which I didn’t mind since she had struggled through the first bit), and she insisted on paying me for the time, which felt weird ;). Most people do not offer to pay me extra, in fact some don’t want to pay for a beginning lesson at all…which good lord, let me tell you beginning crochet is the hardest thing to teach!. I was so moved by her willingness to compensate me for my time, and that she wants more classes, and that when she was leaving she said, “I feel really ready to tackle that project now!” (The washcloth that is the class project)

That statement I made stayed with me, not because I had felt rude, or mean because I hadn’t been either of those things when I said the words.  What shocked me most was the fact that really until that moment I had never really believed those things of me, that I am an expert, that I am a knowledge base waiting to be tapped, that I am a highly skilled person; until then, I really hadn’t thought of myself that way.  I knew each piece of information to be a fact, but BELIEF is different than FACT.  Belief is like inspiration or imagination it’s where the best of what is human germinates and fosters creativity. Facts just are.  But to BELIEVE in FACTS now that’s taking our left and right hands, clasping them together and creating a dual hemispheric connection in our BRAIN…and that’s TRANSFORMATIVE!

Sure I’ve written convincing arguments that people need to feel that way, and see what they do as valuable. But, I swear I’ve been writing it to convince myself. So I ask you, do any of us really see ourselves as valuable, talented people? Do any of us? Do any of us really feel like that expert? If you do, AWESOME! But, how many of us, apologize when are tension is even? How many people apologize for not “getting it” “fast enough?”  How many people expect instant perfection in something that is never perfect-able?  In an ever evolving world, perfection= limitations.

So, join with me people in this fabulous year of 2010, let us dedicate ourselves to stop the”I’m sorry”, and not be sorry. Let’s be content with where we are, and goal orientated to where we want to go…In our crochet, and in the rest of our lives.

BELIEVE in the FACTS of YOU…not the fantasies (both positive and negative), not what people say about you or have said about you…But what you KNOW to be TRUE about you…You are the expert, how so?

I love that I come to epiphanies through crochet. It may be, because crochet is so non-threatening that some of my greatest self discoveries come through my contact with people, or patterns, or stitches. How about you?

CLF Retreat: It’s not just pretty…

So, I’ve talked up the venue, it’s time to switch some gears. Let’s talk about what’s going to transpire at the retreat!

This is a different set up from the other conferences and events I’ve attended. Based off conversations with CLF members, fellow crochet enthusiasts, and comrades in the hook, I’ve arranged something to do more than just provide a venue to expand our crochet knowledge; it will forge life long memories!

One of my beefs with my conference experiences was that I hardly ever had a good amount of time to just sit and be with the people I traveled so far to meet! My online friends, the crocheters I admire, we are always so busy that we maybe get the chance to sit down for half a cup of coffee, if we’re lucky do dinner or squeeze in lunch and then fly. For me, beyond the craft that I love, it’s about people. I mean if I want to expand my skills, I don’t have to take a class, I can sit down with videos, books, and attempt trial and error discovery. I mean that worked for me for over 25 years! Why do I go to conferences? To be with other people who love what I love, people who understand why I love the feel of the hook in my hand and how it glides in a graceful dance in my fingers as I create things. I go to events with other crocheters, because like me, they also  buy too much yarn, make things for those they love, use crochet to relax, and get this delightful feeling of accomplishment when they tackle a new project and complete it to the weaving in of the ends.

And then, I do learn. The first thing I learned at a conference was how much I really did know, I thought I wasn’t that great a crocheter. When a well known crocheter came up to my yarn stall and gushed over my wares and my crochet, I learned that I was indeed “a designer.” I met generous spirits who encouraged me, and I learned to pass on that generosity to others. We are connected via our love of fiber arts. And that my friends is what this retreat is about: Connections.

Our mornings will have classes ranging from how to make your own hook to crochet Fair Isle, to Free Forming, and Photographing your work, to my classes All about the Yarn and Commando Crochet: Let’s go patternless.

After a lunch in town or in your cabin, we’ll meet up in the afternoons to crochet together, take a nature hike or two, learn about color theory and texture theory out in nature, on the beach or in the forest. We will crochet afghan squares for a special auction item for our partner in crime, Center For Wooden Boats.

We have games planned, from pass the swatch where we create our own one of a kind souvenir of the retreat to playing the free form game! Speakers will spin yarns for us to take home (ok they’ll tell stories or give us great information) and we will kick it all off with a fabulous opening ceremony complete with a yarn tasting.

What’s more? We’ll sing songs, roast marshmallows, get silly, maybe yarn bomb each other, and make deep and lasting friendships, or enrich existing friendships. 

I’m soooo excited! So don’t forget to book mark the CLF Website, think about what crochet classes you want to take, think about what crochet memories you want to make! I’m hoping to have a sizable head count by June so I can get all of the goody bags in good order. So the sooner you register the better! But, if not, we’ll have enough, that’s just me and my “don’t do it at the last minute” syndrome 😉 I can’t wait to see you!