Category Archives: Instruction

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2017

A little more than a week has passed since the 2017 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. Instead of taking the train up for the day, I decided to make a weekend out of it. So hubby and I booked and AirBnB (will never do that again!) and headed upstate.

Rosendale, NY
Rosendale, NY

The weather was just glorious! It really gave us the opportunity to check out the area. We spent Saturday visiting some of the lovely open spaces and antique shops. We picked up a paper while enjoying dinner in Rosendale and even the locals were looking forward to  the event! Every individual we met was incredibly nice. We were offered suggestions on where to have lunch, different areas we should ride to, and even the history of the large bridge that was recently built!

Saturday’s exploring was very nice, but let’s face it; we were there for the Festival on Sunday. We were about 20 minutes outside of Rhinebeck. After a nice breakfast we headed over to the Fairgrounds. We knew we were getting close when the traffic started to back up and we saw this billboard!

Rhinebeck Billboard
Getting close!

Now I have been telling the hubby how huge the event is but he was still surprised when we walked into the Fairgrounds. As usual it was packed, but not as busy as Saturday from what I was told by those who attended both days. Everyone was very pleasant – and why not? After all, we are all there to enjoy everything fiber-related!

As always, there were plenty of wonderful little furry creatures to visit. And they certainly know everyone was there to seem them! There were a few young alpacas that were quite friendly and wanted to check out everyone. There was also a beautiful sheep hanging out that was just really interested in sitting comfortably letting everyone take his picture.

Sheep

This year they held a live auction for used equipment like they do at the Maryland Sheep and Wool. Unfortunately, it was only held on Saturday so I missed it. The one time I went to Maryland I checked out the auction and it was great fun. I even won a few items! I hope they do it again next year and maybe offer it on both days.

Obviously there were wonderful items in every building and barn. Of course there were a few items that really caught my eye.  Over the last few years, more and more people are using yarn bowls to try and tame project yarn. Well this year I saw beautiful shaker boxes from Suffolk Shaker Shop

Suffolk Shaker Shop
Knitting box from Suffolk Shaker Shop

that do the same thing. I love Shaker style, so I had to stop and check them out.

Golding Spinning Wheels
Golding Spinning Wheels

A “must stop” booth for me is always Golding Fiber Tools. They create the most ornate spinning wheels and spindles I have ever seen. But they are not just a pretty face. They spin like a dream! I am the proud owner of one of their spindles and I always need to try out the latest wheels they have on display at the Festival. A Golding Spinning Wheel is at the top of my “if I hit the lottery” list – and of course a matching chair must go with it!

One of my last stops of the day was to the Author’s Section to have a quick visit with the great Margaret Hubert. She is not just a talented fiber artist – she’s a good soul. Someone I don’t get to see nearly enough.

Margaret Hubert
Me with the great Margaret Hubert!

She is always more than happy to share her knowledge and offer encouragement to fellow fiber fanatics when they are struggling with a project or specific stitch. She recently published her 31st book – Customize Your Crochet – so I had to pick up a copy and have her autograph it!

Finally we headed out for the day. We didn’t get to see everything, but it was just great. I am already on the wait list at one hotel for next year and will continue to check out other hotels in the area to see if we can book a legitimate room next time.

So what did I buy you might ask? Hubby bought me a few presents! First, a lovely antique box full of thread spools. Second, two antique cameras! Yes, I know. Not exactly fiber gifts, but I have several analog-based hobbies. I’ve always wanted some older cameras so I am now the proud owner of a Kodak Duaflex II and an original Polaroid still in the carry case! So cool!


So, I wait with fiber-filled dreams until next fall.

Peters Valley Fall Craft Fair

One of the best things about the fall is all the artisan events that take place around the country. New Jersey offers some awesome events and a favorite of mine is the Peters Valley Fall Craft Fair.

Blacksmith
Blacksmith demonstration during the Peters Valley Fall Craft Fair

If you have never been to the Peters Valley School of Craft, you are missing something wonderful. Located on what was originally known as Bevans, New Jersey, Peters Valley has been offering the finest in artistic instruction for almost 50 years. The retail gallery offers wonderful arts and crafts for sale and the exhibition gallery upstairs always has a great exhibit taking place. It is nestled in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Each September, Peters Valley holds its Fall Craft Fair. It brings together an eclectic gathering of incredibly talented artists. Each building on the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta includes unique hand-crafted items and demonstrations. I can’t even say how inspiring it is to walk around and feel the wonderful creative energy!

I wanted to tell you a little about some of my favorites at this year’s event.

BeeZ Vintage Book Purses

BeeZ Vintage Book Purses
BeeZ Vintage Book Purses by Kathleen Scranton

This is a truly ingenious idea. Kathleen Scranton is a very nice woman I had the pleasure of meeting at the Fair. She takes our favorite books from childhood and repurposes them into works of art that you can use as a purse or laptop bag. She had every hard cover book you could think of.  She even had purses made using the hard covers from the Harry Potter books released in England. They were just awesome!

Grateful Gathers Glass

Grateful Gathers Glass
Danny Polk Jr., Grateful Gathers Glass

I absolutely love hand blown glass. And Danny from Grateful Gathers Glass certainly has a gift from God. He had everything in his booth from small acorns to large vessels. You could just feel his pride as he posed for this picture! His work is definitely on my Christmas list. I truly hope he did well at the event because his work certainly deserves attention. The mix of colors in his pieces are just amazing. I was especially drawn to his reactive series. Some of the colors reminded me of coloring of different brook and brown trout commonly found in New Jersey.

Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits

Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits
Melissa, Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits

A post wouldn’t be complete without including a fiber artist. This year at the Fair I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa of Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits. We had a great chat about free form and shared our common admiration for artists such as Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Hubert, and Myra Wood. Melissa’s work is simply amazing and has a sophisticated playfulness about it. I really enjoyed talking to her about design, yarn, pattern writing, and the beautiful bullion stitch!

While this year’s event is finished, I encourage all my readers to visit Peters Valley School of Craft. It is in a beautiful part of the state and the fall is a great time to take a ride and enjoy the colors of nature. Each spring the new catalog is sent out announcing the new classes for the summer. I hope you check it out, support the school and support those great artists!

Book Review: Indispensable Stitch

To everyone who is a first time visitor for National Crochet Month – welcome! I am happy you joined in the on the fun!

As many of my regular readers know, I have a HUGE library of fiber arts books. I am lucky enough to occasionally get some from publishers to review and then I get to give them away! Today, I get to bring you my review of Melissa Leapman’s Indispensable Stitch Collection.

I absolutely love stitch collections and this book doesn’t disappoint. This book is full of great stitch patterns complete with step-by-step directions and charts. The photos are nice and clear so you can see each part of the stitch.

The short introduction provides suggestions on how to use the book and read the patterns. There is also a nice added section about designing from scratch and shaping pieces, which will be a huge help when using these stitches to making a special garment. The stitch patterns in the book are broken down by category: solids, shells and fans, openwork and lace, textures, and edgings. The end of the book has a help section with how to complete stitch.

There are several patterns I liked in this book. As slow as working in single crochet is, I love the look of the alternating front and back loop single crochet and the Soft Moss Pattern. The Rose Trellis pattern is especially lovely and delicate. And I always love textured patterns and use a basket weave pattern often. Some day I plan to tackle crochet cables!

Overall, this is a great book. Of course, as my readers know, I have one pet peeve – it is perfect bound. Especially when you are trying to follow a specific stitch pattern, I always feel that a spiral bound book is important. But other than that, you will not be disappointed with the patterns in this book.

And now as usual, you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Sunday, March 19th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

And again, to those of you who have visited my blog for the first time, I say thank you. I hope you visit often!

Book Review: Customize Your Knitting

Customize Your KnittingAs you learn more about different fiber arts, whether it is crochet, knitting, or something else, you begin to develop favorite people, designs, and styles. One of my all-around favorites is Margaret Hubert.

I met Margaret in-person for the first time over a decade ago at a fiber arts convention. I met her virtually a few years before that on the International Freeform Crochet Guild discussion group. From the beginning, she has always been a great teacher, mentor, and friend. She is a wonderful woman and I am proud to know her.

Over the years she has published many articles, patterns and books. One of her most recent books is Customize Your Knitting: Adjust to fit; embellish to taste and as always, she hits it out of the park!

We all know how much time and effort it takes to create an article of clothing. There is nothing worse than finishing a project and it doesn’t fit. We wind up offering it to someone else who may, or may not, appreciate all the work you put into it. Margaret helps solve that problem.

Her new book takes you through all the different body types and the all-important taking measurements. She then moves on to specific pattern examples for each type. She provides suggestions on developing “good habits,” joining new yarn, and weaving in those pesky tails. She then gives you beautiful ideas to customize your piece so it has your own special personal touch!

Margaret HubertAll the directions are presented in easy-to-understand language. Even this very basic knitter could understand the concepts within the book. It ends with steps on how to create buttonholes, pockets, and the all-important seams. It even includes embellishments and motifs! They are just great!

I will say, as my usual complaint, it is a perfect-bound book. HOWEVER, it lays flat VERY well! It also has an extended flap so you can keep your place as well as keep the book fairly flat. This may seem minor, but it is great! We have all been there when you are trying to work out of a book that keeps closing on you and you lose your place.

As a basic knitter, I think this is a great book. If you are a more serious knitter, you will LOVE it!

And now as usual, you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Thursday, August 18th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

Book Review: The Knitting Answer Book, Second Edition

Years ago I picked up a copy of The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask (Answer Book (Storey)) by Edie Eckman. It was a great pickup for me. The title was correct – it answered plenty of crochet questions. I knew there was a knitting version, but I never picked it up because I don’t knit very much.

Since that purchase, there has been a second version of the crochet edition and the knitting edition.

The Knitting Answer Book, 2nd Edition: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask is an updated version to the another great book to help knitters with all of the troubles they encounter as they work to finish projects; as well as learn more.

This book is perfect for knitters, regardless of their ability level. It starts out with basic concepts like how to cast on, basic stitches, and how to bind off. It then moves on to how to read yarn labels and reading patterns. Finally, it moves on to more advanced topics like circular knitting, garment shaping and fitting, and how to make different embellishments. It is a very comprehensive guide!

As usual, it is subject to my complaint of a perfect-bound spine as opposed to a spiral bound book. I feel this is especially important for this type of book as knitters try to follow the guidance of the book. That criticism aside, this is a great book!

And now you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, July 8th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

Thick, Thin, Slubs, and Coils: Yarn Spinning at The Spinnery

Today was a wonderful day. I had the opportunity to head to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey for a class about how to spin thick/thin yarn (known as slubs) and coils. I wanted to take this class the last time it was offered, but I was still doing battle with my ankle after surgery. Well now my ankle was amicable and ready for class!

Frenchtown
On the way to Frenchtown.

My day started with a lovely ride to Frenchtown. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. Once you are off the highway, you are surrounded by historical homes, open fields, and preserved farmland. Today was the perfect day for this ride. Roof open, windows down, Billy Joel on the radio. Just wonderful.

Rebecca Dioda
Master Spinner, Rebecca Dioda and our class.

The class was taught by master spinning teacher Rebecca Dioda of Simpatico Fiber Collective. She made the day fun and informative by giving an explanation, then demonstrating, then helping each member of our intimate group get started. We started by unplying a base (yes, sounds uncounter-intuitive, stay with me). Then we started with our main fiber, making thick and thin “slubs.” She made it look so easy! Then we all started giving it a try. Well, lets just say the easy chatter became serious concentration. As we progressed, we all seemed to improve.

slubbed yarn
My attempt at thick and thin slubs.

What I really found funny as I was working to master this I thought back to when I first started to spin. Initially, I was very good at spinning…rope. Then I improved to thick and thin. Then I learned to spin more even yarn. Now that I need to spin thick and thin yarn like I did in the beginning, I found it very challenging. Go figure.

So it was time to start to ply our base and

Coiled yarn
Rebecca makes coils look so easy!

our slubbed yarn together. Plying has never come easy to me, so I was definitely thinking about multiple techniques simultaneously.

Of course I forgot my lazy kate. Luckily Betty, owner of The Spinnery, came to my rescue and had one I could use. Rebecca taught us the importance of “vrooom!” in our spinning when preparing for a coil. She made the entire process a lot of fun!

So I went to work. I quickly determined I needed at least one more hand. My lovely Majacraft Rose was not in the mood to ply without issue. She is currently in a time out so she can think about her cranky

coiled yarn
Starting to get the hang of coils.

behavior. Hold core in one direction. Hold yarn at a 90-degree angle. Spin in the opposite direction of the yarn. Pinch. Roll. Push. Pinch. Spin more. Vroom! Don’t let the yarn wind before they should connect. Oh my! Like I said. Lots to think about.

After some mumbling to myself, and encouragement from Rebecca, I started to get some decent-looking coils.

I still have a lot to do to become

coiled yarn
My finished coiled yarn.

more comfortable with my coils. But I definitely felt like I understood the process by the time I left. Of course I can never leave The Spinnery without picking up a few things. So what did I get? More fiber and core to practice!

After class I took a little time for a late lunch, pick up a few treats, and then the ride home. It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to try again!

Book Review: Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies

My pattern is the hat and mittens on the sleeping baby.
My pattern is the hat and mittens on the sleeping baby.

Every so often I am lucky enough to have a pattern accepted for publication. Well, today, I am especially lucky to review a book that has two patterns in the same book! As an added bonus, one of them made it to the back cover. I had no idea until the book arrived at my home.

Today’s book review is Crochet One-Skein Wonders® for Babies: 101 Projects for Infants & Toddlers. This book is, obviously, all about adorable patterns for the wee little ones. There is a huge variety of patterns for every style preference and crochet ability.  The book is broken out into sections like “Hats and Caps” and “Socks and Booties” so you can find the exact type of project you would like to make. The printing of the book is very well done with clear (and absolutely adorable) photos. If you prefer charts over written instructions, you are covered as well.

The back of the book contains a glossary section with easy-to-understand explanations of different stitches and techniques. There are also diagrams when appropriate. Additionally, you read the biographies of the different designers…including me!

As usual, I have my standard complaint – no spiral-bound spine. I understand that it is probably much more expensive to use, but when you are following a pattern, I think it makes a huge difference when you don’t have to fight with keeping the book flat.

There are so many adorable patterns, it is hard to choose! The Pink Camouflage Cap, the Cuddly Snuggly Elephant (my family collects elephants), and the Pocket Dolly are definitely among my favorites.  The Zucchini Sack and Cap is just the best! Trust me when I tell you, there are plenty of great patterns in this book.

And now you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, June 3rd. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner!

Big Book Giveaway!

I love having the opportunity to provide all of you with book reviews of the latest and greatest books available and then give them away! Unfortunately, sometimes the winners do not contact me so I can ship them their new book. As a result, I have a stack of books I have never been able to give away. Well, today is a new opportunity to give them all away again!

Here’s how it will work. I’m going to list all the books below with links to the entire review so you can read through it. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page and “like” the post for this blog post on Facebook. Leave a comment on the Facebook post as to which book you would like if you win. On Friday night, April 17th, I’ll pick winners from the comments left until all the books are gone! PLEASE be sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are a winner. You will need to PM me your address so I can ship you your book.

And without further delay…

How to Crochet: I have two copies of this one! This is a great book for people who are just getting started no matter your age. Sara Delaney provides step-by-step in clear and plain language.

Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop: This book truly lives up to its name. It is a complete workshop that will definitely build your skills no matter if you consider yourself a beginner or an expert.

The Knowledgeable Knitter: Just like the Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop, The Knowledgeable Knitter is perfect for any skill level. You will definitely gain keen insights that will make your knitting projects successful.

Scottish Knits: This is my most recent book review and it puts a new twist on an old favorite. I would not necessarily consider this a book with projects for beginners, but you will certainly improve your skills with every project!

So that’s it! I please ask that if you are going to participate, to be sure to check back next weekend to see if you are a winner. I want all these great books to find new homes!

Book Review: Scottish Knits

I don’t know about you, but when I see Scottish-style knits, I always think “this is what knitting is to me.” While I am far from a competent knitter, I can certainly appreciate the style and work involved to create wonderful pieces. That’s what Scottish Knits is all about.

Scottish Knits: Colorwork & Cables with a Twist
is a mix of the traditional and the contemporary. Martin Storey pays homage to classic Celtic cables and adds beautiful color work and design to them. While I would consider this book for the intermediate to the advanced knitter, the directions are written in plain language to help the knitter be successful with their project. The garment patterns include shaping direction so you can achieve the perfect knitted piece.


The colors used in this book are simply amazing! Like I said, I feel a real sense of tradition in the designs, while you still have a modern twist. And the photography of the models and the background is just timeless. I definitely enjoyed flipping through it.
As usual, it has my one complaint. The book is perfect bound. To me, these intricate patterns absolutely need a spiral bound book so you can lay it flat to follow the color charts. But you know me – that will always be my complaint when it comes to pattern books.

I absolutely love the warm look of the Skye Poncho and the lacy look of the Mackintosh Rose Jacket. And I am always a sucker for a pair of warm socks. The coloring of the Caithness Socks are just lovely. The Tweed Hat is a great accessory for what seems like a never-ending winter.

And as always, you can win this copy!
Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, April 3rd. Good luck!

National Crochet Month Book Review: Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop

National Crochet Month Blog TourI would first like to welcome all the readers who are following the blog tour for National Crochet Month. I want to say a special “thank you” to the team at Crochetville for doing all the heavy lifting to get this together. They have a great site and I hope you check it out. For all the tour happenings, you can check out this link: http://crochetville.com/category/events/.

I am lucky enough to receive a large number of books to review. I get to see the latest and greatest in crochet, spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, and more. I love the opportunity to tell you about what is coming out, provide some feedback, and hopefully, help you make a decision as to whether or not the book is a good fit for you. My favorite part, however, is that I give the books away to my readership! I thought another book review and giveaway would be a great way to celebrate my day on the National Crochet Month Blog Tour. Today’s book review: The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop: Essential Techniques for Becoming a More Versatile, Adventurous Crocheter.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Dora Ohrenstein is the founder and editor of the online magazine Crochet Insider. She creates beautiful crochet designs for all levels, so no matter if you are a beginner or an expert, she can help you create beautiful pieces you will be proud to show off and give as gifts.

Her book takes you from the very beginning with understanding your yarn. She reviews yarn weight, fiber type, yarn twist type, and how different yarns behave in different ways. I absolutely love the first section of this book! It is definitely packed with information you may not even consider when heading out to make a yarn purchase.
She next moves on to hooks, holding your hook and work, and has an important section on “hand health.” As someone who has wrist issues, I especially appreciate that section.

She then moves on to the important foundations for building your crochet skills. She also covers different problems you typically encounter, regardless of your skill level. For example, I absolutely hate joining/changing yarns. She has a section to help! She also has a section on the all-important, and often frustrating, shaping of a garment.

She then begins to move into amazing swatches of different stitch patterns. Each swatch has bold photos that are nice and close up so you can see each step clearly. The directions are very well written and also come with a diagram of the stitch pattern. Diagrams are another great way to understand the different stitch patterns and the two together prove to be a great skill builder!

After all the great stitch patterns, you move on to the all-important skill of finishing. From different seam options, to edges, to blocking, you will be confident in the skills you are building with Dora’s help.
The book closes with some great patterns. I have always been partial to cowls, so I especially liked her Marguerite Cowl.

From cover to cover this is a great book. I was so happy to have a chance to check this out and share my thoughts with you. And of course, now is the really special part. You can win this book!
As always, the rules are simple…

1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick all four winners on March 19th. Good luck and thank you for joining me on National Crochet Month’s Blog Tour!