Friday, October 15, 2010

It's a (Coconut) Miracle!


Blah, blah, blah. Gone so long. Blah, blah. Apologies.

Now that we're through that, let me try to catch you up on the highlights of my summer.

First off, 3 more of my designs were seen in national publications:

The "Special Day Afghan" (I called it "Hugs-n-Kisses Cables") was published by Leisure Arts in July in a booklet called 24 Hour Crochet Baby Afghans. Here's a pic from the publication:

(Photo is property of Leisure Arts)

In August, an afghan I designed for Caron Yarns was published in the special "Afgans!" issue of Crochet World. Here it is:

I found it strange that the magazine chose to "hide" 2 panels when the afghan was photographed ~ it actually has 4 striped panels and 3 cable panels ~ I can only guess it was to show more of the furniture and affect a nice contrast with the colors of the stripes panels. But, who knows?!? At least the pattern accompanying the photo includes all 7 panels; I just hope it doesn't confuse folks.

(photo is property of DRG)

In September, I received my designer's copy of the Nov. 2010 issue of Crochet! and the following pic was available on the e-version of the magazine. The print copy reached subscribers and newsstands in early October and contains the "Phantom Felted Bag."

I absolutely LOVE that felted crochet is out there! (yet again)

Even though there have been several examples on the web lately, I hope the designers that say "you can't felt crochet" see this one! It seems like alot of people are convinced that you cannot felt crochet like you can knitting, saying that the "stitch definition won't disappear." Ladies and gentlemen...I beg to differ.

(photo is property of DRG)
Of course, I have continued dying yarns.
Here's some lace-weight silk in Electric Blue for my friend Cathy:

I did some lace-weight silk for myself in these wonderful shades of green:

And speaking of felting, I've really enjoyed making felt from raw fibers lately. Here are a few examples of some scarves:

The "curls" on the surface are mohair locks (from a prize-winning fleece that I acquired at the DFW Fiber Fest a couple years ago) that I dyed to complement the colors in each piece. I think they add more than a little interest and character. Don't you?

To stay in practice, I crocheted some jewelry with wire and beads for my friend Sandy. She picked out the red tiger's eye beads and the end result is just stunning on her:

Additionally, this summer, Alexandria lost one of its long-time LYS establishments. "Knit Happens" closed it's doors for good, but not before offering an every-thing-goes-including-the-shelving sale. I was third in line when they opened their doors that Saturday morning, which was actually the second day of the sale. Within 20 minutes, the place was packed! Luckily, I can be a quick and decisive shopper when I need to be!
I found some decent quantities still available in the Classic Elite brand yarn, "Miracle." With 50% Alpaca and 50% Tencel, the yarn has a great sheen with just the slightest halo.Settling on 3 colors, I bought every hank available. At the checkout, I had the usual conversation:
Saleslady: "This is wonderful yarn and I love the colors you chose!"
Me: "Yeah, I couldn't pass them up."
Saleslady: "What are you going to make?"

Me: "I don't know... But won't it be gorgeous?!?"
On the drive home, the perfect pattern popped into my head. I have been wanting to make the "Cables Interrupted" sweater by Jane Snedden Peever, but had never found the right yarn - until now! I pulled out the pattern as soon as I got home and began the math needed to figure the modifications I would need since I was using a smaller yarn. Here's the back of the sweater:

The main color is Coconut and the stripes are Black and Mulberry. After finishing the back, I began some calculations. I would have plenty of yarn for the stripes, but... oh, no! I had used 7 hanks of the Coconut for the back. I only bought 21 hanks to begin with. That meant if I used 7 more for the front, I would only have 7 to complete both sleeves! Begin panic here!
After researching the Classic Elite website, I began calling stores all over the DC area in fultile hope of finding more yarn. The stores that did carry the Classic Elite yarns didn't have "Miracle" and those that did stock "Miracle" didn't have Coconut. Somewhere around the 25th phone call, I found Fiber Smyth in Woodstock, Virginia. The voice on the other end confirmed they did stock "Miracle."
Me: "I'm looking for Coconut."
Voice: "Hmm. Let me go over and see what we have."
Me: "It's kinda brownish/gray."
Voice: "Oh, here it is. Yep. We have Coconut." She was very happy.
Me: "Great! But I'm looking for a particular dye lot..."
Voice: "Oh, no.... which one?" All trace of hope and joy left her.
Me: "8728."
Voice: "Oh my God! I can't believe it! That's what I have here!" I pictured her with a big smile.
Me: "How many hanks do you have?"
Voice: "Uh... 3,4,5..9, 10. We have 10!"
Me: "I'll take them all! I can hardly believe it! Now I can finish my sweater!"
Voice: "I know! It's an absolute miracle! A "Miracle" miracle!!" She was vocally skipping about the room at this point.
Me: "Yep...a "Coconut" Miracle!"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wooly Wanderings

May 2010 has been an exciting month for me. The sock pattern published in Crochet! has been received well and several members on have made a pair. It's exciting to see something you create out there!

The month started with my first-ever visit to a wool festival. Held the first full weekend in May each year, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is held at the Howard County Fairgrounds, a short ride of about 60 miles from me. From what I had read, I expected the event to be big and I was in desparate need to feel fiber, so off I went. The first 55 miles took me about an hour, not bad considering I had to pass through DC. The last 5 miles took me an hour and a half!

Traffic was at a standstill on the 2-lane highway and I kept expecting to see the accident around the next corner or over the next hill that caused this delay. Imagine my surprised excitement when I realized the traffic was backed up that far to park at the event! "Holy Mohair, Batman!"

Big does not begin to describe the festival... it was Hugantic!! Alpacas, llamas, mohair goats, angorra bunnies and sheep over every breed were in competitions and shows. But the best part for me? Nearly 300 vendors! WOW!

I was doubly surprised when I found one vendor, in particular. Known to me from the DFW FiberFest, I popped in and said hello to the folks from Brooks Farm, located in Lancaster, Texas.

Seriously. There were so many vendors that they overflowed the 3 exhibit halls and had scores of vendors in tents. I took me nearly 5 hours just to see them all once! Well, at least I know where I'll be the first weekend of May, 2011!

The next adventure involved me, two dogs and a Smart car driving twelve hours to western Indiana.
When I went to Clinton, Indiana (near my hometown of Paris, Illinois) for my Mother's birthday a few weeks ago, I gave the original socks from the pattern to Mom. My sister also wanted a pair, so I began stitching right away. Here are the socks I made for Shelly in the "Nostalgia" colorway from Madelinetosh.

I spent the week there and had the chance to catch up with my brother and sister, as well as alot of extended family. In the interest of passing the craft to the next generation, here's me with my sister's 2 grandsons. They really liked Uncle Jer's crochet hooks...YAY!

The LYS is River Wool in Terre Haute, Indiana. After about 2 hours in there chatting with Val and playing with different combinations of color and fiber, I finally settled on 16 hanks of yarn I plan to use for a fall jacket.

From l-r, are the 5 different fibers I chose: 1. Manos del Uruguay's silk blend (30% silk, 70% extra fine merino); 2. Malabrigo's Aquarella (thick and thin) in their Coronilla colorway; 3. Cascade 220; 4. Malabrigo Aquarella - Marrongon ccolorway; 5. Lamb's Pride in Chocolate Souffle.

I can hardly wait to get started on the jacket!


Oh, PS~
I'm finishing up the pattern I promised to post. It's called "The Ruffled Rikki" and can be worked in any guage and is easily sized to fit. Here's a little teaser for you:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Someday, My Prints Will Come...

At long last, I can officially reveal that the magazine featuring my first design in a national publication has arrived!! (At least, digitally...)

I'm still waiting on the actual print version of the magazine to arrive in the mailbox and on the bookstore shelves, but "hey" the official website for the magazine has made it public and I'll take my cue from them.

"Ribbons and Bows Socks" is in the May 2010 issue of Crochet! magazine and features hand-dyed yarn by none other than Madelintosh (Hi Amy! Thanks for the beautiful pallete!) in their "Clover" colorway.

Here's the picture posted on the magazine's website. The socks are modelled by the lovely... uh... the lovely... Foot Model!

(photo is property of Crochet! magazine)

I have been experimenting for a couple of years with crocheted socks and I have to say I am pretty happy with this one. (Of course, I did work these in a hook size a little larger than the one I personally prefer, but I feel it is more approachable by the general crocheter.)

There are still (currently) five completed projects approved and in the pike for publication... Stay tuned!

As anyone following my endeavors knows, felted handbags have been another journey for me.

One technique I have found for the construction of the bag is one that I affectionately call "Jan's Nightmare." It involves ALOT of color changes throughout the construction, which results in ALOT of ends. My friend Jan S. absolutely hates to weave in ends! (So much so, she invented a whole style of crochet patterning that leaves very, very few ends!)

This technique is not for the feint of heart or those who agree with Jan. For example:
But, from that seeming chaos emerges a beautiful finished piece of art!

Using that technique for the flap only, I created this piece for the daughter of a friend. She's almost 6.

This bag was crocheted using Cascade's "Quattro" yarn for the body of the bag. (This yarn is 100% Peruvian Highland wool and it felts beautifully with only a couple of cycles in the machine!) Quattro is a 4-ply yarn with each of the plies a different color so, for the flap I used 3 yarns, each matching one of the 4 color in the "Quattro."

In my next posting, I hope to have a couple of finished scarves as examples of an original pattern I plan to make available (for free) on Ravelry. Currently, the working title of the pattern is "Rikki's Ruffles" and it will be easy enough for even the newest crocheter to attempt, but interesting enough to hold the discerning attention of the experienced crocheter... I hope!

Now... where is the print version of Crochet! magazine???


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hello, Virginia!

As many of you know, I have relocated from Dallas, TX to Alexandria, VA.

Let me just get this out of the way, first and foremost... I don't think it is any mistake that "snow" is a four-letter word! I hate it. I also hate that other four-letter word that usually accompanies it... "cold."

At any rate, here I am.

And the crochet goes on...

I got word after my last posting to proceed with 2 additional projects for publication. I'm thrilled to be putting my work out there, but I have to be honest. Not being able to share the details is tough! I mean, I have a blog about my design efforts. Whadayamean I can't post about them?!? But this is a lesson is patience, friends. It's not that I can't post about them, it's just that I can't post about them yet...

So here's what else I've been doing:

I custom dyed some yarn for Grandma Pat. I used a colorway I had used with silk, but this time, it was on worsted weight cotton. the result was "Patty's Sea Bubble":

Grandma Pat's sister, GlennaDee, also knits and crochets, so I included some DEV fingering weight yarn for her. In speaking with her on the phone, Aunt GlennaDee is going to await the publication of...

...Oh crap. I'll tell you in March. Never mind...

I am often inspired in my creative ventures by music, (think "Meg") so it should come as no surprise that I fashioned a yarn from the lyrics of a song, Boy George's lyrics "red, gold and green, red, gold and green..." From that, I give you "Karma Chameleon":

I really love the colorplay in this yarn and the resulting stripes in socks is stunning! (Thanks, Bobbie for the knit version!)

And let's not forget the most important update, Halloween!

I had intended on a very elaborate costume this year, but competing deadlines made that an impossibility. In fact, a few days before the first party, I had resigned myself to not dress this year. ::gasp:: I know! Heresy!

In the end, though, sanity prevailed. I helped a friend by doing his make-up:

...and helped myself, by celebrating with an absence of color...

 of the scariest things I could think of!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


You know that old saying "Be careful what you wish for..."?

Well, lately I am learning to appreciate that on a whole new level. To quote Dolly Parton, "I'm busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest!"

Not that I'm complaining. Afterall, I'm just beginning to get what I have wanted for a long while and am looking forward to it continuing. I'm just saying it's an adjustment.

Over the summer, as you've read, I attended the National CGOA conference in Albany, NY. Since Meg dominated that posting, I didn't have a chance to share that I won first place in one of the categories of the National Design contest. I won for this freeform handbag in the Accessories category. (A press release from the CGOA can be found here.)

With the end of summer also brings the State Fair of Texas and of course, the Creative Arts contests. In years past I have always been more optimistic than realistic and have registered a few more projects than I actually complete and submit for judging. And that includes the last-minute-staying-up-all-night-to finish-it-and-barely-get-there-in-time projects!

This year, I swore, would be different.

Surprisingly, it was. I registered only 4 items and I had all items completed without any last minute rushing or late overnight finishing. Here's how that went:
Afghan: First Place

Let me just go on record here and say I am less than thrilled with the way they chose to display this item...

I mean, it's the first place winner in its category - could you at least spread it out to show the varied stitchwork and cabling designs?
Here's a better picture of it as modelled by my friends Jan and Molly

I also entered a lace stole: Second Place

(I have no idea about the popcorn box and frankly, was afraid to ask...)

I entered a Vest in the Felt-Craft any item category: Second Place

I also entered a sweater: Second Place

A little side note here about the sweater...

In 2006, 2007 and 2008 I won the first place ribbon in the sweater category, but this year, taking second was even more gratifying! The person who won the first place ribbon this year for sweater was none other than my friend Jan Scogin - AND it was for the sweater she made while I was teaching my crochet group how to make a sweater during our multi-month sweater project! Wa-Hoo!!

In addition to the Fair, I also stay busy making items for friends and for charity projects.

Here's a Lace Stole I made from 100% Silk that I hand-dyed. I donated it to the Silent Auction for the Balck Tie Dinner:(Sorry, the picture isn't too great. I grabbed some poor innocent worker at the auction and forced her to model it for me since the only other pictures I have of it include Louis helping me block it out...

Things have been hopping along on the professional side of the craft, as well.

I'm still learning the craft of hand-dying yarns and usually am pleased with the results... But sometimes, I get the strangest results. Case in point - I was dying up some sock yarn in the Charlie Brown colorway when I started to notice something strange.

"Hmmm," I said to me, "I wonder why that one hank looks lighter?"

Always the optimist, though, I continued on, thinking that somehow, the universe would correct this obvious error on its part and magically all 4 hanks would match when I was done. Afterall, they were all 4 dyed at the same time and had all come out of the same bag of hanks I had pre-skeined for dying.

In the end, though:

"One of these things is not like the others..."

I racked my brain for hours. Cleaned my glasses several times. I even took the skeins to various sources of light. Finally, I had to admit something had not gone quite right. I put on my inspector cap and started the investigation. Then, like a bolt out of the blue, it hit me. Could it be? Surely not! Well maybe...

I have figured out what happened and am offering a free hank of sock yarn (in your color choice) to the first person that posts in the comments of this blog and correctly identifies specifically why this happened.

Luckily, my yarn lots generally turn out much better. At the DFW Knit Out Crochet, Too event last month I donated some of my handiworks to help get the label name out there. There were 2 individual door prizes of hand-dyed silk/merino laceweight, each with about 1500 yards:


Sea Bubble

I also donated seven 100-gram skeins of sock yarn, 4 of them 100% merino (365 yds each) and 3 of them 75%merino/25% nylon (464 yards each):

The person that won the sock yarn did a celebrational dance and high-kick I will not soon forget. I couldn't convince her, though, to do it for the picture.

Sock yarn colorways included were Strawberry Lipgloss, Charlie Brown, Puddle Gum, Gnosh, Marigolds, Shadow and Bora Bora.

I have a pattern that will be published in a national magazine early 2010. (Sorry. That's all I can reveal at this time...)

I am also working under several other contracts currently. (Again, sorry. That's all I can reveal at this time...)

But never fear!! When the projects are officially published, I'll post here.

Since I don't want to end this post with a note of suspense, I will close with a picture of some hand-dyed 100% silk lace weight yarn...



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Basket Jacket and Color Fun

I've been having fun the past few weeks experimenting with various dying techniques and colorways for the "Dame Etta Vett Designs" hand-dyed yarns line. Here's a few of what I came up with:

The "Stella Mae Sock Weight" (superwash) yarns are:



I love this colorway ( still unnamed) and am currently making a scarf from it.

"True Blood"

The "Lady Sue Lace Weight" (some 100% Superwash, some with 30% Silk) are:


"Sister Mary Fig"


"Prairie Flowers" (l) and "Prairie Meadow" (r)

The "Lord Sully Sport Weight" yarns are cotton/rayon blend and include:

"Granny Python"




Here's one of the "Winston Lou Worsted Weight" yarns. It's 100% cotton:

"Colonel Mustard"

Also, as an update to the project that I thought would never end, I finally finished the "Basket Jacket" I was making from sock yarn - although I worked the front button panels several times before I was happy with it. I'll post more (and better) pictures of it soon...