Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Surprises 2012

And a good time was had by all......

Our Christmas gathering ends the pre-Christmas six-week session for the knit and crochet group at Caroline County Parks and Rec. Over the recent weeks we all made crocheted snowflakes, worked on a variety of tree ornaments and learned four different texture techniques that we will hopefully bring back in a future session. After some initial struggling, Doris surprised us all by making gobs of snowflakes to post on her church bulletin board. Her church members were delighted and she received a round of applause from us. About five people played with making a crocheted and then felted fabric from which they cut ornaments, including gingerbread boys. Barb's gingerbread boy was replete with pants and a camouflage shirt. It was also great fun to watch Selene construct a pointy, elvish hat for her little sister and then build a border of bobbles around it. Between the lessons, everyone continued to make projects of their own choosing: ruffly potato chip scarves, afghans and hats, and for Harriet, it was lace motifs. Carolyn became a notably prolific hat maker, combining knitting with crochet to make original hats for her grandchildren and then testing a couple patterns with very cute results. I can't wait for the next six weeks when we will actually focus on hats! But the conclusion of this session shouldn't go without notice.

We had talked of stopping early on week six, celebrating the season and sharing a festive snack. Then a couple of my ladies decided we needed to do more planning and they assigned each of us with responsibilities to make the food factor run more smoothly: coffee pot, napkins, music? What I wasn't aware of at the time was the people who took the lead in planning were my new people, the ladies who started coming to the class when I did. Under the radar were the women who had been coming for years to take lessons from an earlier teacher and they had a TRADITION! This wasn't going to be any wimpy cookies and tea affair. Without a word to the rest of us, our little snack turned into a delicious luncheon with chicken lasagna and a yummy veggie casserole with crumbles on top. Desserts abounded, of course and everyone had some version of her favorite beverage. It never occurred to me, either, that I would be remembered with a gift: enough generous sharing that I am already stocking up on patterns purchased online. All will be shared in that wonderful cycle of giving. Thanks friends! I have learned from you also. Especially that I should wear red for a Christmas party!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

All That Glitters

   As that dark, damp and cold time of year approaches, many of us are preparing for the festivals of spiritual light  that precede and include the solstice. These must tide us over through the slower moving, more meditative days until the sun begins to reopen the span between our waking and our relinquishing to sleep.

    In my knit and crochet class, we're preparing for our pre-Christmas session by sharing patterns we think others might enjoy making. I've worked up several pretties to offer as possibilities and they're all done in time for some advertising to go out. The snowflake and the bauble with beads are both available to print out at attic24. Thanks so much to Lucy who takes simple crochet skills and turns them into folky, colorful goodies. She also posts lots of photos as tutorials. I have made both of Lucy's designs in perle cotton instead of yarn. I love the shine of the mercerized cotton! The red circle was made by crocheting a ball of Brown Sheep sport weight wool yarn into a square and then melting it down by putting it through my front loader twice on hot. I then cut a circle from the resulting fabric and had fun embellishing it. I used perle cotton for this also because it shows up better than embroidery floss. 

  All three of these decorations were fun to make and there will likely be more in my future. Thanks to Richard for the pics. He does the photography better than I.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Talking It Forward

   On Saturday I gave a talk to some thirty women from Fredericksburg Methodist Church who invited me to share in relation to my book, Contemplative Crochet. In doing so, I met a number of friendly and gracious people and was served a way above average lunch which included tomato aspic - a delicious surprise!
   In the several months before my talk, I kept mulling over what the subject should be. I thought I had covered my ideas about handwork and spirituality pretty well in the book. I didn't know how many people had actually read it and I didn't want to repeat those sentiments. As I dug back into my prior research file I found myself getting excited all over again about the book I had passionately started when the acquisitions editor from SkyLight Paths called to ask If I was interested in writing a book for them. My original idea about writing a book for parents and educators about why handwork is important for children had been put to bed five years ago and was still sleeping soundly. That is, of course, until now. I wondered if my audience of church ladies would mind too much if I slid into a related subject but not so much about spirituality.
   I finally realized that it was time. I was being led back to a subject I care about deeply. I needed to do the best I could to give my audience something rich and not disappoint them while moving myself forward and reclaiming an unwritten book.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I've been reminded several times lately, how important the ability to read is whether it's reading: music, literature, news or written instruction. The ladies in my crochet class had to tell me more than once that they passionately wanted me to present some information about interpreting written crochet instructions and diagrams. I take it so for granted but having just met their requests, I'm now more aware of my own  ability to read and work out a pattern. I'm also grateful to the designer of this beautiful square for her ability to write out the recipe and publish it so that I could make it. I'd like to incorporate it in a shawl.

Second Session

Our second six-week session of knitting and crocheting at Caroline County Parks and Rec is over. We have concentrated on crochet. I am so excited about the skill level my students have achieved! Everyone in the class has accepted challenges from me and often challenged themselves. I have watched fingers limber up as several people worked with smaller yarns than they are used to and I've correspondingly noticed brains limbering up too, as all have worked to stay in charge of stitch counts and changing patterns.

As a lesson for the last two weeks, we worked at learning to read both written instructions and diagrams made of symbols. I picked this project for its level of difficulty and not for its beauty. Besides learning what asterisks, parenthesis and abbreviations mean, my students also learned how to start with a sliding ring and how to make "clusters." Everyone who was present for the last session completed the resulting motif. Richard came at the end of class and took this wonderful photo. Yay!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crochet Ladies

I have a great job, teaching and sharing crochet skills through our local parks and recreation program. Every Tuesday I meet with a group of enthusiastic women including two homeschooled sisters who come with their grandmother. It is great to have young people in the class and the eleven year old really takes off and turns basic skills into wonderful projects. We have a comfortable well-lighted place to meet and a schedule that works just right for learning new skills and working on projects. For the first few weeks, we worked on single crochet: making a square, making a flat circle in continuous rounds and making a tube in continuous rounds.
At the end of our first six week round, I asked my husband to take a few photos.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Decorative Crocheted Scarf

  A beginner crochet project that I look back on fondly  was a triangular shawl worked in an inexpensive worsted weight yarn until it wrapped completely around my shoulders.
  I revisited that project in making this scarf for a class at Classic Cottage. I used the same technique of chaining loops and connecting them with single crochets but this time I looped a soft, sport weight alpaca yarn.

  Shiny perle cotton would have created a fine edging but I remembered a small skein of hand-spun, hand-dyed wool that I bought years ago from Karen, who was a seamstress in the Colonial Williamsburg costume department. I still had it in my stash!
  I'm most excited by my invention of a movable button. It works similarly to a cuff link and can be placed anywhere on the scarf to create a variety of wraps.

  Finally, I blocked my little neck-hugger and had my talented husband take a few photos so that I can share it with you.