A Vacation from Crochet

I thought it would feel different, not crocheting for 2 weeks, but surprisingly it was a bit liberating.

I did not start out planning to put my hook and yarn aside through the entire holiday season, but that is what happened. My family and I took a holiday vacation, a true first for us. We were gone for 2 weeks taking a whirlwind guided tour of Europe, from London to Rome. It really has been a lifelong dream to actually have a passport stamps of travel, and the end of 2017 the stars aligned and the dream became reality. We visited Stonehenge, and the Eiffel Tower. We took in a show at the Moulin Rouge, and checked out the views from Mount Pilatus. We enjoyed dinner on the Grand Canal, and visited Michelangelo’s David. We were awestruck with the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum. It was a lifetime of dreams wrapped into an adventure, an adventure we would love to do again.

I packed a couple of crochet projects and added them to my backpack. There is down time in travel, like the direct flights of over 10 hours, and the coach rides across the French country side, or the moments before sleep in the hotel. However, I was captivated by the dream, engaged in conversations with my new traveling companions, and spending quality time with my family.

When I got home again, and dug those projects out of my backpack, they felt fresh and new. It was like my whole body, all of my ideas and inspirations were able to be rejuvenated and see my stitches with fresh eyes. I cannot remember when I last felt that way about my hand craft, it has to have been at least several years, and I do not know that just putting it down at home without the adventure would have yielded the same result. My hooks feel lighter, my ideas crisper, I hope this side effect has some staying power, but if it doesn’t at least I have an idea of how to recapture it again.

A Tradeshow that becomes an Adventure

ScannedImageFollowing the world of yarn can lead to some interesting adventures. Last week I attended the National Needleworks Association (TNNA) winter trade show, which is established to allow yarn, thread, needlepoint, and any other related manufactures and supplies to be in one spot and show their new wears to potential buyers. This show was in Washington D.C. and was as it usually is, a complete whirlwind.


Love the Mountain Color booth at TNNA in Washington DC

I saw many yarns, met many people, and left exhausted and overwhelmed. I hope to see some samples of the products I checked out at my home soon, so that I can get more equated with them, and share my thoughts with you.

I was able to meet up with my college roommate for dinner, which was an added trip bonus. I was able to meet his lovely wife, while catching up on old times. Amazing how 17 years can pass between meetings, but we can pick up on conversations like they were yesterday.

I also was fortunate enough to take part in a needle works tour of the National Cathedral. I did not get to complete the tour, as I needed to get to the airport for my journey home, but the part that I saw and heard was wonderful.

Now this is where the real adventure of my trip began, and definitely made a lasting memory. I got to Dulles airport, and was surprised to find no lines at security, nor real bad traffic in getting there for that matter. Then I learned that my flight to Denver was delayed, first 30 minutes, then an hour, ultimately it was delayed an hour and a half. It was still enough time to meet my connecting flight in Denver, so I didn’t think too much of it, until landing in Denver and realizing my connecting flight to Sacramento was cancelled. I had never had to deal with this in travel, so I guess I cannot complain too much.


Myself and Marly as she dropped me at the airport the next morning. Thank you Marly! What a nice unexpected visit.

I learned that by the time that my flight landed 30 flights had already been cancelled, and that was just by my airline. Apparently Denver had been under tornado warning most of the afternoon and evening. No hotels rooms were available, and it was well after midnight, so I began to find a quiet place to sleep, under a set of seats, and posts a picture of my sleeping arrangements to Facebook. About an hour later, after getting the usual 15 minutes of possible sleep, I checked my phone to find that a post was made just a few minutes earlier from a colleague and friend asking why I hadn’t given her a call. I did not realize that she lived so close to the airport, and after some back and forth, Marly Bird, the podcaster, designer, and Red Heart Ambassador came and picked me up at 2:30 in the morning to give me a few hours of sleep on her sofa.

The next morning, I got to see where all the magic happens in her studio before she returned me to the airport to begin my day of travel to Northern California via Southern California. I finally got home the next night, but this trade show showed me more than just some new yarns, it showed me just how generous people in this industry can be. It is definitely a trip I will not forget anytime soon.

Taking a Look at the “Extras” that make Crochet

ScannedImageI usually find myself to be a very simple person. I have crocheted for more years then I care to count, and have never thought about much more then my hook and my yarn. However recently I have started to look at “accessories”.

It probably came about from a ceramics class. A group of former students/friends arranged a day out to a local studio called “Color Me Mine”. It is apparently a chain of studios that have ceramic pieces for purchase, that you can then glaze and they will fire in a kiln, resulting in a personalized project that has a professional feel. At our studio day it was arranged for us to create our own yarn bowls.DSCF0937

A yarn bowl is a newer concept to me; it is a bowl that holds yarn but has decorative edge that actually functions in reducing your yarn from tangling. So balls of yarn are contained and do not run wild in the house and the pull of the yarn is from the same place every time. I admit, in the past I managed unruly balls of yarn by placing them in a tennis shoe or hiking boot, but this bowl seems to be much more effective. Of the finished pieces I had the pleasure of seeing, they are all beautiful.

Funny how one open door to a new thought can open the door to many others. As this experience had me looking at travel holders for hooks, bags, hooks in general, even coffee cups. So when I was attempting to find a “thank you” gift for a friend, instead of looking at the usual yarn, I began thinking of other possibilities. One that I have decided to undertake and make myself, a hook/needle travel case.


Small pouches for hooks/needles


Wrong side of sewn fabric, 2 sets of pockets are created with folds. (hook/needle pouches sewn on the main pocket)

It has not been as difficult as I would have first thought. I found a fabric I liked in my stash, a velvet or velour type in a dark green; I cut a rectangle of 13”x 30” (33x76cm), and then began folding. I folded up 8” (20cm) from the short side, and then folded it in half back down (so that the velvet side of the fabric was facing outward, while at the same time lining the pocket). I then began to stitch creating a pocket and then slender pocket of ½” (1cm) width to hold hooks/needles. I then created a second set of pockets behind the hooks, by pulling up the recently sewn pocket about 2 ½” (6cm) and stitching the sides down. I also placed a couple of additional seams over the stitches created in the hooks sleeves to make about 3” (7.5cm) pouches.


The crochet fabric is sewn to the velvet fabric, wrong sides together.

Now that the stitching was done, it was on to the crochet. I made a piece of crochet fabric from some rayon yarn I had, and utilized the Tunisian simple stitch to highlight the subtle color changes, in a size of a 9”x13” (23x33cm)rectangle. Matching the 13” (33cm) sides of the velvet and the crochet, with wrong sides together I stitches the seam, as well as at either end of the of the 9”(23cm) side of the crochet fabric to the velvet piece, and finally stitched the last side of the crochet fabric in place leaving the remaining velvet fabric unstitched (this is used to fold over the hooks/needles). Then sew on some ribbon ties and I think it looks good.


Tied up and ready to go!


Just needs to be filled!

Looking at accessories for the world of fiber, is opening up many new ideas….it seems like a whole new world!

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.

What to Pack…..

ScannedImageFall becomes a busy time of year, there seems to be some yarn related event happening almost every weekend across the nation. Since this last week there has been the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFFF), this weekend there is Lambtown in Northern California and the Knit & Crochet Show in North Carolina, Closely followed by the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (known simply as Rhinebeck) and Stitches East. It is almost enough to put you on yarn over load! (Okay only, almost, and I am sure that there are many other events taking place in this time frame as well). So what to include in your suitcase if you happen to be attending any said events?

If you crochet or knit, make sure and take something you have made, these are events where people actually really do know how time consuming, and intricate the hobby you have is. They will often stop and compliment your work, maybe even want to “pet” it. It is nice to feel like you are at a place where people understand you, and you often get great inspiration by seeing what others have done.MP900305798

If you are planning on attending, splurge a little and take a class, there are not many places that you can find great teachers like these venues offer. Even if you are like me and think, “oh, I’ll just buy the book and learn the technique that way”, there is so much more you can get out of the class. More than you can possibly imagine, and often well worth the price.

Bring your hooks and needles, and a project to play with. These are places you will feel like pulling up a chair and staying for a while, chatting with new and old friends and enjoying the atmosphere.

Make sure to leave extra room in your suitcase for yarn and goodies to bring home. If you sign up for the event and not just the show room shopping, you might find some free samples, but then there is the shopping you can do. Many vendors do not have store fronts, and some may not be available in most local yarn stores, so you can find the beautiful yarns usually only here or on-line (and I like to touch before I buy).

I hope I am remembering everything…oh, clothes to where I might need that, and travel supplies, but I guess I could go without and leave more space for yarn! (See you in North Carolina, if you can make it to the Knit & Crochet Show).