Crochet & Time?

ScannedImageThis time of year lends people to think of possible handmade/homemade gifts, and can lend crafts to unrealistic timelines.

I have been there many times, thinking I will make everyone on my gift list their own (blank); afghan, scarf, hat, mittens, pillows, etc. you can probably insert just about any item in the blank…and please note I stated “thinking”. Over many years I have had these thoughts, but only on a few occasions have I even came close to meeting my target.

One of the problems with attempting to complete any stitch work this time of year is all the distractions. It seems like the month of November just evaporates with the coming of cooler weather at my home (and the hope of rain), while as soon as Thanksgiving Day, and meals with family have commenced I blink and it is Valentine’s Day. This seems to happen every year, I never know where December goes.IMG_6186.1

I do recognize that both of my kids celebrate their birthdays, as well as my own, not to mention 4 other extended family members in the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This can add an extra level of craziness with parties and get-togethers in addition to holiday traditions and events. No wonder I can only get a couple stitches in at a time.

I will admit that at more informal gatherings, I have been crocheting while visiting with friends, finishing up projects or at least making some head way on them. I have a portable project with me at all times, even when I have two minutes waiting for the kids to get out of school I am working a couple of more stitches, maybe I can finish that next row.

So with multiple stitches on the hook, and many distractions, I am really no longer sure where my time is evaporating to, but hopefully I will make it to the New Year!

New Respect for the Makers of Yarn

ScannedImageI have a new found appreciation for the work any small independent yarn company or dyer does. This last weekend I had the opportunity to experience the New York Sheep & Wool Show, at the Duchess County Fairground in Rhinebeck, NY by working in the booth of Lisa Souza Dyeworks.


Beautiful colors at the NY Sheep & Wool Show at the Duchess County fairground, Rhinebeck, NY

As many can image, these small businesses have yarn specially milled, some do custom dyeing to bring beautiful and unique colors, some work with specialty fibers to bring us unique and soft yarns. We can easily imagine the obvious parts of the business, like putting the color on the yarns, of raising the animals to shear or comb for fibers, but the true essence behind what it takes for them to stay in business is something that we can easily overlook.

I have worked this booth in the past at different venues, but this is the first time I have been there from set-up to take down. Usually I assist people looking for various yarns, I answer questions, and help replace stock, however this time in addition to the meet with the customers, I helped set the product on the walls, getting everything in place for its first customers and then helped put everything into the moving truck the moment the show ends on Sunday.

Now I have heard the stories of the Rhinebeck show. This is its 35 year of operation, and it has quite a reputation. It is a full fiber show that invites the whole family. There are a variety of sheep breeds, as well as shearing demonstrations, spinning competitions, weaving demonstrations, interesting food vendors, many vendors featuring fiber related goods, book signings and all round simple wholesome good times. This show receives a large number of people over just two days, I have heard figures average about 60,000 people over the weekend, I can say it does feel like that many.


Nancy & Deb have no problem eating lunch at a picnic table in snow flurries. Definitely giving me memories.

After working on the floor over the events two days, I can say I was completely exhausted. I met many people, made some new friends and spent some time with long time ones, (such as Margaret Hubert, Jessie Rayot, Shari White, Nancy Smith, Andrea Giattini, and Deb Seda,  even if a couple of them thought it was warm enough to share lunch on the picnic bench while there were snow flurries, I may not have mentioned that it was cold during the event…temperatures somewhere in the 30’s (F) on Sunday). I even met Katy Clement who had a video of my competition with Lily Chin at the 2014 CGOA Chain Link Conference (Knit & Crochet Show) in Concord, NC (at the Fun Night, I had beat everyone else in the room at speed crocheting, and then got to face off against Lily Chin for the title…yes, I lost, but Lily is really fast). She shared the video with me and I am happy to share it with you here (IMG_3743).

Then after the show closed the real work began, the entire product, all the display needed to come down, be boxed up and placed in the moving truck. So after being on your feet for 10-12 straight hours the last 3 consecutive days, after traveling over 3000 miles, you then need to make a final push and make it all go away. It was physically draining (I am sure I lost some weight), I used muscles that I forgot I had. Then you realize, every show is like this. There is nothing overly special for vendors at this show (except that the amount of people can generate into more sales), but these small independent yarn companies do this multiple time a year, some more than once a month to get their yarn into your hands. I met one vendor that will have done 18 shows this year; I didn’t even ask how many miles they have traveled.

It is not an easy job that they undertake, a job that is a passion about yarn. I appreciate what they go through to keep a viable business, and keep a great product available for me to work with. My hats off to them and all small businesses that go extra miles that most of us just take for granted.

One April Anniversary, A Thank You

ScannedImageChanging points in my life can happen at any time, however I can name quite a few that mark my life in large ways that occur in the last week of March and the first week in April. So in a sense it is a time of anniversaries of sorts for me.

Actually it was there years ago tomorrow that I left my job of 12 years to begin working in crochet full time. Okay, it is really more like part time with juggling the household, but it was still a large life change.

I cannot say that I bravely walked into this decision and had astounding amounts of work that would warrant my change of employment. As a matter of fact, if things had not occurred the way they had, I would probably still be working my job and designing crochet on the side still today. However, like many things in life, I was faced with a choice.


I have often felt tied to my desk in my old job…funny that was with yarn too.

I had worked part time for my employer for 8 years (the prior 4 years were full time, but after my son was born I transitioned to a part time position to attempt to balance my home/work life). I knew that this status of part time would mean that I was likely to give up any chance of promoting, and my wages would probably not change in a great amount of time, but it was my choice. So on a fateful afternoon 3 years ago, I received a call from my boss. She wanted to inform me that the director was rescinding my part time status and that I was being given a four week notice that my status would be changed to full time.

I was again faced with a choice, and this one offered me very little opportunity to have a balanced life. The decision was finalized a short time later when I picked my daughter up from kindergarten. I told her that there might be some changes, as I might have to go to work more. I remember her sitting on my lap, she looked up and me shaking her head. She said, “Mom, I’m sorry. You’re going to have to quit your job. I like it when you pick me up from school.” I don’t know if 3 years later that same response would be given, but I knew I had to set the priorities that truly mattered, my family.

After crunching the numbers and having the support of my husband, I gave my notice. My last day of work was April 5th, a day after my first published design & article came out on newsstands in Crochet! Magazine. So, I made the plunge. I work longer hours and am more critical of my work than I was prior, but I have a new challenge and hold more of my life in my hands. I may not put in the hours of 9 to 5 anymore, as my work is juggled between commitments and contracts. I may work late hours and spend less hours actually talking to people (and I typically am a pretty social person, so this is a significant adjustment), but I have a balance. The family budget is tighter, and we do not have many shinning things, but it all feels right. I sometimes do miss my old job, at least my co-workers and the satisfaction of knowing that I made a difference in the life of someone in my community. My current satisfaction is measured differently now.

So, on this anniversary, I would like to say, Thank you. Thank you to those that have made me face choices, and those that have supported me through those decisions. Mostly, thank you to those that support me today. Thank you for reading my ramblings, for supporting my designs. Thank you for buying my patterns, and supporting the publications that feature my work. Thank you to those that believe in me even when I have times that I do not believe in myself. I hope that through my journey you are encouraged in your own, on whatever path it might be.

My Every Day Valentine

ScannedImageI have been doing more self-reflection then usual lately. Reflecting on my business and personal life, possibly due to the recent interview I gave Crochet World Magazine about how my current career began, and how I approach my designs (you can read it here). Or it could be the 5 day art challenge that was posed to me on Facebook, where I shared 15 different designs over 5 days (you can see them on my Facebook page here). Either way I found myself pondering where I have been and where I would like to go. But mostly, or simply due to the upcoming holiday, it made me put a Valentine spin of things.

This might seem odd, that pondering the past can make for a Valentine, but let me explain. Over several years I have finally began to dissolve the rituals or expectations of many holidays down to what I feel is really important. So for Valentine’s Day this means that for me it does not need to be flowers, chocolates, dinner, or the typical “romantic” gifts. My husband never really believes this, but it is

For me I take the day to remember those that I love, and what I can do to show them this every day as well as actually focus on what they give me every day to show me they care. It is a day of focusing, not overlooking that small things that I routinely take for granted. The hugs and kisses the kids share before saying goodbye before going to school. The nights my son offers to cook dinner, and his sister wants to help, sure it is usually pancakes, eggs and bacon, (occasionally chocolate chip cookie dough)but it is delicious. The moments that they are excited to show me something they have learned. My husband taking the kids to their after school activities (yes, he loves going, but it gives me time to get some work done), when he completely turns is schedule upside down to accommodate my travel plans. How my husband supports my career venture, even though it means the household budget is considerably tighter, and makes coffee on the weekend before I am even out of bed. How each member of my family gives me honest and critical feedback of my work, I know it is their way of supporting me, and showing their love.IMG_5990 - Copy

I guess that instead of looking for the big grand gesture I am using the day to remember that the little things are much more important. I might easily take for granted the little things that happen on a typical Wednesday, but by actually spending some time to focus on them, I realize that I do truly have Valentine’s Day every day.

The Crochet Way to Re-Live a Great Memory

ScannedImageOh, I think I found the bests of both worlds.


Yarn Bombing found in Mendocino, CA

My family and I actually got away from the house for a couple of nights, and visited the rocky beaches of northern California. We had a wonderful time, and we happened to stumble upon a small town with a lot of charm (and great art/fiber support, there was yarn bombing everywhere!). But even that was not my light bulb moment.


The “Mementos” my family brought home from the trip. Now I get to enjoy the trip all over again!

I managed to actually excite my family into going into the local yarn shop, and choosing yarn for themselves; under the premise that I will create a keepsake memento to remember the trip for them. So they will get a keepsake to remember the trip, I will get to play with some fun yarns, and while stitching up their hats & mittens (items they requested) I get to remember the wonderful weekend with them. Why have I not come up with this before? Maybe because we don’t get away all that often…but, I think this can become a fun tradition to go forward in our family, especially since we don’t really need any more T-Shirts or coffee cups or decoration trinkets from our limited travels.


Mendocino Yarn Shop…quite adorable!


The yarn store yarn bombing.

Hopefully I’ll manage to get their requests done soon, so we can all enjoy the memories.