Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Black Sheep Gathering 2018

Last weekend was the 2018 Black Sheep Gathering. This year the location was moved from Eugene to Albany, OR which meant it was only about a 30 minute drive for me. Yay! Here's a little photo recap of some of the sights.

The fiber arts competition always has some great entries. There were some really cool needle felted pieces this year.



And some wonderful crocheted items. My favorite was this many-colored cardigan. The judges apparently liked it too.


I could use this snuggly chevron afghan on my couch. 


Of course, the main attraction was fiber and yarn. This is the RedFish DyeWorks booth. They sell silk and silk blend yarns. 


Three Fates Yarns is from right here in Salem. Stephania is one of my favorite local dyers. The pretty blue and green yarn in the basket on the table was her special colorway for this show. 


Huckleberry Knits is another local Indie dyer. Check out her gorgeous gradients. So tempting!


Believe it or not, I didn't buy any yarn. Yeah, I know. Just not normal. However, I did buy these gorgeous Czech glass buttons from Aria Design Studio. I fell in love with the dragonflies, but take a look at some of the other beauties in her Etsy shop. They're amazing. I'm not sure if I'll put these on garments or make jewelry with them.


The Whimsical Ewe sells adorable felted critters.


I love this little otter and his sweater. She buys wool sweaters at thrift stores, cuts them up and felts them to make these wee sweaters. The skeleton on the Halloween kitty is amazingly detailed.


Mr. Tortoise munching dandelions!


Perhaps my favorite booth was Badger Mountain Soap because she uses vintage crocheted tablecloths to decorate her display. 



She made a "ceiling" for her booth from several tablecloths. Not only lovely, but it cuts the glare from the overhead lights.


I was happy to see the Skaska Designs booth again this year. Last year I bought 2 crochet shawl patterns from them. When I got home and looked at the patterns, I found there were no photos of the shawls. No problem, thinks I. I took photos of them. Um, no. I hadn't. But they were there this year so I was able to take some pics. Skaska also sells scrumptious yarn. I bought some last year that I think I'll use for the shawl on the right. It will be considerably brighter than the sample.

           

To end the day I joined Kelly and Marsha of the Two Ewes Fiber Adventures podcast and some of their other listeners for a little happy hour in the camping area. It was fun to see the Ewes again and meet the other folks. So nice to put a face to the Ravelry names! Kelly's husband Robert graciously grilled some sausages and for the gathering. To find us, you could just follow the delicious aroma from the grill. If you haven't already, do check out the Two Ewes' interesting and funny podcast. They also sell some of their handspun and dyed yarn and fiber on their website. Very nice stuff!



I hope everyone in the US had a happy and safe Independence Day. Remember the words of Benjamin Franklin at the end of the Constitutional Convention. He was asked what kind of government we now had -  monarchy or a republic. He said, "A republic, if you can keep it." 


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

GETTING LOOPY IS BACK!!

A Favorite Crochet Podcast Has Returned



When I first started crocheting back 2009, I also discovered crochet podcasts. As I mentioned in my last post, there aren't many now, and there weren't many back then either. But my favorite was Getting Loopy with designer and teacher Mary Beth Temple. Many of us hookers were sad when she pulled the plug on her show in 2011. You can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that she's BACK!! Mary Beth started producing new episodes in January, but I just found out about it a couple weeks ago. Check out Getting Loopy 2.0 on Blogtalk Radio. You'll find both current and archive episodes there. Usually, she has a guest to interview, but sometimes she's by herself holding forth on what's happening in the world of crochet. Don't miss next week's episode when her guest is one of my favorite designers and someone I'm glad to call my friend - Vashti Braha! You can listen live at 9 pm Eastern time or listen to the recorded episode at your leisure.

Fun Hat Pattern


While scrolling through patterns on Ravelry in search of something fun for chemo caps, I ran across the Leaping Stripes and Blocks Beanie by Tamara Kelly. Tamara is the author of the well known Moogly blog, and you can also find the pattern there. I liked the idea of a pattern with stripes because I can use up some of the small balls of leftover yarn lurking in my closet. This turned out to be a great pattern. It's easy to follow and produces a hat with great texture that almost looks woven. I made a minor change in my version. I didn't like how my ribbing was coming out (my fault not the pattern's) so I did an extra pattern repeat then Tamara's ending round. I finished it off with a round of slip stitches. What do you think? I'm very happy with the result and will definitely make more of these. The pattern comes in 3 sizes so you can make one for the whole family. 

      

I like to make hats as charity projects because they're small, portable and quick to finish. What's your favorite charity project?


Friday, March 16, 2018

Crochet Podcasts and Vlogcasts

A while ago I promised a couple people a post about crochet podcasts. It's finally here. Sadly there aren't a lot of audio crochet podcasts. When I search for crochet on my podcast app (Stitcher), I come up with a fairly long list, but most are really knitting podcasts. There are, however, quite a number of crochet video podcasts also known as vlogcasts. I'll tell you a bit about my current favorites in both these categories. All of these also have Ravelry groups. Just search the Groups section of Ravelry by the podcast names. For visual interest I've interspersed a few photos from the recent Rose City Yarn Crawl. 

Let's start with eye candy. This is Photo Break #1. Wouldn't you just love to sit in this corner at Northwest Wools and crochet?


Audio Podcasts

I've been listening to audio podcasts for years. Unfortunately, some of the best crochet ones have disappeared. Creating a podcast on a regular basis is hard work and mostly unpaid for most of these podcasters. I can can understand why many of them eventually give it up. Here are a few that have stuck around. Most of these aren't crochet-only, but I find them all interesting. Note that although I get these on Stitcher, most should be available from iTunes or whatever podcast app you use. 

This is a crochet-only podcast. Brittany presents a variety of topics but often talks about topics of interest to crocheters who have a small business or would like to start one. That could be designing, teaching, selling hand made items or some other part of the crochet industry. I always find something of interest in her episodes even if the focus isn't something I want to do as a business. For example, she's had episodes on customizing the fit of crocheted sweaters, choosing the right yarn, reading stitch diagrams and finding a crochet community. I think any crocheter will find something of interest here. 

Skein Enable
I've been listening to this one for years in it's various incarnations. There used to be 2 hosts, but currently there's one. Jill is mostly a knitter but she does include some crochet. She also talks about books and films. Occasionally, she has a guest. The last one was an awesome crocheter.

Two Ewes Fiber Adventures
This podcast is hosted by long-time friends Marsha and Kelly. They are knitters, spinners, crocheters, weavers and dyers so there's all sorts of fiber fun. Plus, they're just amusing. You won't find crochet in every episode, but every episode is interesting. I've learned a lot from their expertise even a bit about bee keeping from Kelly who has some hives. They're interested in local, small farm, sustainably produced yarn. They also have a shop on their website where you can buy yarn that they've spun and dyed themselves. Their colors are beautiful. If you prefer to spin your own, they sell fiber as well.

Photo Break #2: Designer, teacher and author Laurinda Reddig at her trunk show at Fiber Rhythm Craft and Design.


Vlogcasts

Video podcasts, or vlogcasts have really grown in popularity. It's easy to see why they would be especially good for a topic like crochet. We want to SEE those projects and the yarn. All of these are found on YouTube. Many of them host crochet-alongs so there's always something fun to join.

Crochet Luna
Claudia (aka Crochet Luna) makes her home in Southern California. Her show is almost 100% crochet. She's also been doing a bit of dyeing and learning to sew project bags. I learned of several other vlogcasts from her recommendations. Claudia is a warm and charming host. She has an Etsy shop where she sells stitch markers and crochet-related enamel pins.

Hand Me Downz Crochet and Knit
This is one of the many crochet vlogcasts from Britain. Gerard is a former monk who only recently learned to crochet and knit. He's also taken up weaving and sewing and is learning to spin. He is one awesome crafter and always interesting. In addition to talking about crafting, you might hear a bit about other aspects of his life, and his cats Toby and Bunty might wander by.

The Cozy Cottage Crochet
Hannah comes to us from Florida. Her animated personality makes her really fun to watch. She always has great projects to show us. They can be anything from sweaters to amigurumi. Hannah has recently started designing and her first pattern, the Treasure Island Shawl, has been released. Go check it out!

The Crochet Circle Podcast
The Crochet Circle is another great British podcast. Fay is a crochet designer and also has an online shop called Knit It - Hook It - Craft It where she sells items related to crochet and knitting which are "environmentally thoughtful" as she puts it. She started a virtual "dye-along" on Instagram. Search for the hashtag #fridayisdyeday. She also hosts several crochet-alongs a year. I'm waving at you, Fay!

The Quoe Podcast
I don't know where Quayln gets his energy. When I was a college student, I sure didn't have time to crochet, design crochet items and podcast (not that such a thing existed then). In addition to crochet, Quayln chats about his favorite books. Check out this up and coming crochet designer from Texas. I love his most recent design, the La Vie Boheme shawl.

Zeens and Roger
Rosina vlogcasts (vlogs?) about her life as a crochet designer in England. I love watching how excited she is when she has a pattern in a magazine. I can only imagine how much fun that must be. If you like bright colors, you'll love Rosina's work. It's very cheerful.

Photo Break #3: Gorgeous yarn at Knit Purl.


There are lots more crochet vlogcasts, but these are my current favorites. I'll let you know about others as I find them. Thanks for stopping by!

Parting Photo Break: Mini skeins from Three Fates Yarn



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Retreat and Treats

A couple weekends ago, I had the good fortune to attend another Recrochetions Retreat organized by designer and teacher Laurinda Reddig. I think I enjoy fiber retreats even more than the big shows and conferences. The latter are a lot of fun between meeting up with old friends, shopping in the marketplace and taking classes, but they can be overwhelming. I confess to being a bit of an introvert so a quiet weekend with a smaller group appeals to me. 

This is just the niche that Laurinda's retreats fill.  They're held at Quinn Mountain, a cozy little venue with a couple of B&B rooms and a small building that used to be a wedding chapel. There are usually a dozen or so participants. At each retreat, Laurinda teaches a technique or presents a new design. There are always options, and she's there to help newer crocheters learn new skills. 

The latest was the Fall Shawl retreat, and we worked on the Wanderin' and Wonderin' Shawl. This pattern can be worked in 3 sizes - a skinny scarf, a wider scarf, and a shawl. Here's the sample of the shawl that was on display.


The first "treat" at this retreat was the yarn provided as part of the cost of the event which was wound as a...cake! (You knew it had to be.) It's Renai by Fierce Fibers, a 100% merino single in fingering weight.  I can't tell you how lovely this yarn is. The colors are just vibrant, and it's so soft. The sample above used the Solar Flare colorway. It's a gradient shading from coppery gold to scarlet. The photo doesn't do that red justice. 

There were several colorways to choose some. It was hard to pick, but I went with Fig which shades from bright green to wine. Green and purple. Who'd have thought I'd EVER go with that. It's only my favorite color combination. Here's the beginning of my shawl. It's worked on the bias, and the stitch pattern forms a pretty starburst. You can see that best in the red shawl above which has been blocked. Treat #2 was the yellow bag in the photo. The goodie bag! All fiber events have a goodie bag. This one came stocked with a variety of treasures like fiberwash samples and chocolates. It's also the perfect size bag for a single cake project like this shawl.


I mentioned blocking. Cecillie, one of Laurinda's friends and helpers gave a great blocking demonstration. Blocking is a must for lace stitches to really strut their stuff. The sample she's blocking in the photo is the Nymphaea shawl, and she's wearing the Decadent Bliss shawl. When I wear my version of Decadent Bliss, it never fails to draw compliments from crocheters and knitters and Muggles alike.


There was plenty of time to relax and chat over the weekend, and the best place to do that was in front of the pellet stove in the building where we met. Laurinda even brought several afghans that were samples made for her Reversible Color Crochet book. It would have been easy to wrap up in one of those and take a nap in a comfy chair.


Among the other treats provided were breakfast, lunch and snacks. I don't do a lot of food photos so I didn't think to take any of the yummy muffins, shortbread, and pumpkin pie or the sandwiches, soups and fruit. I did manage to get one of this cake before it was devoured. Believe me, in it's uncut state, it was a beauty and soooo good. 


The grounds at Quinn Mountain offer plenty of room to walk off some of that food. There are trails and gardens and even a labyrinth. If you have time for a longer stay, there are lots of hiking trails in the surrounding national forest. 


It's also fun to spend some time in the cute little town of Camas, WA. There you'll find lots of restaurants, small shops, and the historic Camas Hotel which is one of the other lodging options. Don't miss Navidi's Olive Oils and Vinegars. I picked up some blackberry flavored balsamic vinegar that makes salads so much more fun to eat.

The next retreat is the Spring Wonder retreat scheduled for April 13-15, 2018 when Laurinda will be teaching how to crochet rugs with strips of fabric and other materials and, get this, how to add electrical elements to your crochet projects. Can't wait to see that's all about!

Thanks for stopping buy!




Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ode to October

Hello, friends! I hope you've been enjoying autumn like I have. It's my favorite time of year. I just love the cooler temperatures and the fall foliage. We've had glorious weather this month, and I've been enjoying it because the autumn rains are due in a couple days. Colorful leaves are everywhere including in my front yard.


A walk in Minto-Brown Park on the Willamette River was a great way to relax the other day.




This lovely maple is in Pringle Park behind the hospital. I find meditating on this beauty more therapeutic than anything they might do to me in the hospital.



Now that we've had some eye candy, let's get on to crochet. 
 

CALs, CALs, CALs!


Ok, I'll admit it. I'm addicted to CALs aka crochet alongs. It's so much fun to see everyone's projects and cheer each other on. I might have gotten a little too eager this fall because I've been doing a bunch of CALs. All of them have been organized by various Ravelry groups. 

Starting in September, was the September Shawlalong CAL in The Cozy Cottage Crochet Podcast group. As you might notice from the name, the group is for followers of The Cozy Cottage Crochet podcast, a video podcast found on YouTube. In fact, all of the CALs I've joined recently are associated with podcasts. Podcasts, whether audio or video, are another of my addictions. I've provided links to them here, but haven't included descriptions because I'll be doing that soon in a post dedicated to podcasts. As you might surmise, all of them involve crochet. For the September Shawlalong, participants could make a shawl, scarf or cowl. Basically, anything that can be worn around the neck. I made a shawl I'm calling Autumn Cascade. The pattern is Flurry of Foliage by 10 Hours Or Less. I've wanted to crochet this since the pattern first came out. I love leaf motifs, and these are quite realistic with their post stitch ribs. I was going to use 3 colors as called for in the pattern but couldn't decide amongst these five.


So, I used all the colors! The pattern is written as a stole and is more or less rectangular but with pointed ends. I modified the shape to make it a trapezoid which also made it a slightly larger shawl.


The Cozy Cottage Crochet group also joined the Crochet Luna Podcast group to sponsor the Super Simple Tunisian CAL this month. Crochet Luna is another video podcast found on YouTube. Claudia (Crochet Luna) and Hannah (The Cozy Cottage Crochet) each chose 2 Tunisian crochet dishcloth patterns. The idea was for people to learn Tunisian with these small projects. I already know how to do Tunisian crochet, but one of the patterns was very intriguing so I decided to make at least that one. It's circular and looks like a pinwheel! The pattern is theTunisian Shaker Dishcloth by Staci Perry. There's a video tutorial on the Very Pink blog.  Staci threw in a couple knitting skills by starting with a provisional cast-on (a crocheted chain done on waste yarn) and seaming the first to the last section with Kitchener stitch.


For a similar pattern without the knitting techniques see the Radioactive Scrubs pattern by Kim Guzman.

At the last minute, I decided to also make the Tunisian Cross Stitch dishcloth from Brittany of BHooked Crochet. And yes, Brittany also has a podcast. This dischcloth is made with the Tunisian purl stitch and, as the name suggests, a crossed stitch. The latter was a new stitch for me.
 

CAL #3 is the Back To School Sweater CAL sponsored by The Crochet Circle podcast. This one started in mid-September and runs until November 18 so you still have time to join in! Come on! You know you want too! :-) You can make any sweater you want. For many people this is the first crocheted garment they've made, and judging by the comments in the chatter thread, it's been a great learning experience. I'm making the Kolika sweater by Doris Chan. Here's my progress so far. The pattern comes with a DVD featuring Doris teaching techniques in custom fitting a sweater. I'm making this one in a recycled cotton yarn so it will be a nice transitional sweater when something warmer isn't needed. 


Which brings me to CAL #4. This one is actually a craft along since the project can be crocheted or knitted. It's called the FIFO (First In First Out) craft along and is sponsored by the Skein Enable podcast. The idea is to make a pattern you've had your eye on for a long time and/or use yarn that's been in your stash for a long time. And guess what! I'm doing a double dip because the Kolika sweater qualifies! I've wanted to make it since it came out in 2013. I bought the yarn in 2014. Not my oldest yarn or pattern, but it's not the latest shiny object to catch my eye either. Thankfully, the rules on the craft along are loose enough that I can sneak this one in.  I have a number of other patterns that have been in my queue for years so I'll probably do a second project for this "along." It encourages me to work from stash which I really must do.

But wait! There's more! Yes, one more craft along. This is the Single Shot craft along in the Two Ewes Fiber Adventures group. Of course, there's a podcast that can be found right here. I told you I was addicted. A single shot of a fine whiskey or other libation is quick and satisfying. The projects in this craft along are too. Small projects providing a kick of satisfaction. When this craft along was announced, I knew immediately what I must make. A Pumpkitten! The pattern is by Elena Pichugina and was perfect for October not to mention just plain cute.


I'll leave you with that, my friends! I hope you all are having a fun Halloween tonight.




Friday, October 6, 2017

Images of Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival 2017

Another Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival has passed into history. Here are a few of the sights.

Critters

 

This year's featured breed was the Pygora goat. The Pygora breed was developed here in Oregon by crossing Angora and Pygmy goats. According to Goatworld.com, Pygoras produce 3 types of fleece. Type A is similar to Angora, Type C is like Cashmere, and Type B is blend of the other two. Pygoras come in several different colors a number of which were on display at OFFF.




This little goat was snoozing.


And this guy thought the hay was sweeter in the pen next door.


But this is OFFF, and there's work to be done. Time for the judging.  Some of the goats were more cooperative than others.


There were, of course, other animals. I had to stop by and see the alpacas. This fella's kerchief said he was for sale. Sadly, zoning rules prevented me from installing him in my back yard.


I got to the llama barn in time for some of the judging. This one was patiently waiting his turn. I just love his color pattern.


Fiber Arts Competitions

 

Over in the main pavilion the fiber arts competition entries were on display. Here are the top winners in the crochet competition. Fabulous work.



I love this winner from the felting competition. A pile of puppies!


Demonstrations


Juneko Martinson of the Alpaca Bonbon Fiber Art Studio was on hand demonstrating her incredible needle felting. The white pig in the foreground of the photo has knitting needles and a tiny ball of yarn. Yes, I know. We need one with a crochet hook!


Here are some more of Juneko's creatures.





Always In Stitches Crochet Guild Display


We in the local chapter of the Crochet Guild of America always have a display. We're Always In Stitches, and would love to have any crocheters within striking distance of the Portland area come join us. We meet on the second Saturday of the month in the Tigard Grange from 1 to 3 pm. Check out our websiteRavelry group or Facebook page.



Designer Laurinda Reddig of ReCrochetions lent us this gorgeous dress she created for her sister's wedding.  

Vendors

Animals and competitions and displays are nice, but then there are the vendors. Oh, yeah. There were many wonderful vendors. Here's Boss Kitty in front of her booth selling hand dyed yarn. Love the cat ears!

 
I also loved her sale section. Where I got two skeins of sock yarn at half price because the color didn't come out matching the designated colorway. Not a problem for me. It's lovely just as it is.



Fierce Fibers is another of my favorite local dyers. She displayed these lovely shawls created in her yarn. 


The gray and red shawl in the photo above is Decadent Bliss by Laurinda Reddig. Here's my version of that shawl crocheted in Fierce Fibers lace weight in the Staycation colorway.


Fierce Fibers also sells hand dyed roving. Note the special qualities of her products as stated in the sign below.
 

I made a purchase at one other booth which I unfortunately didn't photograph. Raya of Blissful Knits had a sale section that I couldn't resist. I tried, but I spotted one skein that just called to me. I put it back and decided that I'd buy it if it was still there when I returned later. It was! (Not that I put it back at the bottom of the sale basket and covered it with other skeins or anything. No, no. Not me.) This was the last skein of this yarn in this colorway. It's her 80% merino/20% nylon sock yarn. I just love the colors. You can't really see it in the photo, but there are gorgeous shades of amber and red.  
 

That's it for my weekend at OFFF 2017. Has anybody else had any fiber festival adventures lately?