My LYS Pet Peeve

While checking the forums I am subscribed to on Ravelry, I read an interesting thread about poor experiences at their LYS (local yarn shops). There were several of the same issues mentioned over and over again. Things like poor customer service, lack of marked prices and the ever popular “hard sell.” There was one however that I had to share, as they are definitely not the norm.

One woman told a story about how it wasn’t just that the owner’s child was running wild, but decided she was hungry, so she climbed up on mommy’s lap, lifted her shirt and started to nurse! I have to agree with her, that is definitely something that would make me feel uncomfortable!

My poor experience took place a few years ago. There was a new shop that opened, so of course I had to check it out! I walked in and wasn’t welcomed because the owner was on a personal call. I found a ball of yarn I liked, but there was no price tag. I had to wait for the owner to finish her call to ask the price. She then asked what I planned to knit. I told her I crochet, not knit and I got an “oh” as an answer. I put the yarn back and walked out.

What is the point here? Well, if you are a LYS owner, the guidelines are simple:
1. Say hello/good morning/etc. when someone walks in.
2. Ask if I need help. If I say I am just browsing, don’t follow me around ready to pound. The hard sell doesn’t work for me.
3. Don’t give me an attitude becuase I crochet.
4. Generally be pleasant.
5. If I ask a question and honestly don’t know the answer, just say “I don’t know.” Don’t try to make something up.
6. When I make a purchase, say thank you and have a nice day.

These may sound simple, but sometimes they are easy to forget. I try to patron my local stores as a way to help the local economy. Just be nice!

NJ Department of Agriculture At Risk

This week there has been a lot of chatter in my great state about the proposed budget cuts by Governor Corzine. Many programs are at risk, including the complete elimination of the NJ Department of Agriculture. What does this have to do with a blog about fiber arts you may ask? Well, there are still many farms in the state that rely on the assistance and information the DOA provides. One of the products these small family farms provide is fiber. Fiber that I, and many others, spin to make yarn and felt to make amazing art pieces. They also provide great fresh meat and produce to many state residents.

The DOA is responsible for the very popular “Jersey Fresh” program and the very important NJ Farmland Preservation Program. As someone who visits Sussex County often, I cannot tell you how saddened I am when I see the many “for sale” signs on the farmlands I pass. Farming is a way of life for generations in our state and is a great part of our state’s heritage.

NorthJersey.com had a pretty extensive article about the entire plan, that you can read by clicking here.

I am urging all readers who are concerned about the proposed cuts to contact your state representatives and the Governor and ask they not eliminate the DOA. After all, we are “The Garden State,” not “The Blacktop State,” although it may be sometimes hard to tell if you live in North Jersey and our Governor may have forgotton.

I consider myself lucky to live in such a diverse state. New Jersey has everything from big cities to great fishing areas to rural farms. I hope the DOA will continue to be able to serve our farmers and preserve the important resource!

Learning New Skills

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m very late to the You Tube party. I checked it out the other day, not sure what I would find. I did a search for crochet and found tons of wonderful instructional videos! For example, Jennifer Hansen, The Stitch Diva herself, has several great videos available that demonstrate skills like knitting in the round, broomstrick lace and more! It is simple and free to set up an account and you can search for all types of great videos. You can pause and back up videos as needed and can save them in your playlist. I’m sorry that I waited to long to check it out! There are some great instructional videos uploaded and I recommend it to anyone!

New Review of The Coat of Many Scrumbles

I am a proud member of the International Free Form Guild. About a year and a half ago, we  completed an amazing project, the coat of many scrumbles. Members of the Guild make scrumbles (small motifs of free form) in underwater tones and jewel tones and shipped them Free Form Artist, Prudence Mampstone, who lives in Australia. She then took all those motifs and created a coat, two wraps and an umbrella cover. She did a glorous job putting the garments together and it was an honor to be a part of it.

The project went so well, Prudence had a book published about it! Recently, Black Purl e-zine did a great review of the book. Click here to read the review. If you would like your own copy of the book, it can be purchased from The Needle Arts Book Shop.

Hyperbolic Crochet

I have long believed that if you have a child struggling with math, teach them crochet. There are a lot of math concepts you can easily find in crochet and other fiber arts. Well, the new concept of hyperbolic crochet has taken the connection between math and crochet to entirely new level!

Cornell mathematics research Dr. Diana Taimina has developed a way to crochet hyperbolic planes. This takes the idea of making geometic shapes to a whole new plane (literally and figuratively!). I love making geometic shapes in my crochet and am fascinated by the whole concept by Dr. Taimina. The beautiful shapes she creates and explains are all mathematically accurate. They are truly amazing!

The Institute for Figuring has plenty of information about the concept and lots of photos. Trust me, you will be in awe! You can also check out Dr. Taimina’s sitefor more information about her development of the hyperbolic plane in crochet.

I have really become fascinated by this concept and even though I am not a huge fan of math (was never one of my best subjects), I am going to start crocheting some hyperbolic pieces and will be sure to post them in the future. I also believe that if I had learned to crochet when I was younger, maybe I would have been better in math!

A Different Kind of “Fiber Arts”

Recently in a town in Ohio, a group of knitters created a unique outdoor art project by knitting a “sweater” on a pear tree. Clinging to its pockets are family photos, poems and other small items, adding to the tree’s charm.

This project is not only bringing smiles to the locals, but it is bringing knitting and fiber arts to the masses. Like knitting, crocheting or spinning in public, it peaks people’s curiosity. What do I recommend? Bring your fiber arts outside as the weather warms and spring lets us spend more time out of the house. Grab a cup of coffee or tea at your local coffee shop and sit and work on your projects. A week or two ago a friend from work and I went to Starbucks at lunch. I worked on a baby gift for a friend and she worked on a blanket for her youngest son. Several times people came up to us to ask what we were doing and how their grandmother (aunt, other member of their family) used to knit or crochet and brought up good memories from their childhood. Instead of complaining about the interruption, I would talk about your project excitedly and encourage them to take up the craft!

To read more about the Ohio yarn tree, click here. It is a great story!

March Is National Crochet Month

March is National Crochet Month. What can you do to celebrate you ask? Well, how about teaching someone to crochet? You could make a donate a project for charity. Learn a new stitch. Join the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) and get in contact with other crocheters.

The CGOA has a great page with tons of links to charities, sites with stitch patterns and more to celebrate the month. You can check it out at: http://www.crochet.org/.

I cannot tell you all how crochet has changed my life. It has put me in contact with people I never would’ve met otherwise and am proud to call them my friends. I have tough many people to crochet and have developed a second income from it. I learned about Freeform crochet, which I LOVE! You can check out that great art form at www.freeformcrochet.comIt is simply amazing!

No matter what you do decide to do this month to celebrate, value your love for crochet and share it with someone else!

I would love to hear from all of you how you learned and what crochet has meant to you!

My Latest Purchase

Let’s face it, we all love to buy yarn, even if you don’t have a project in mind.

Recently, I had a gift certificate at Flying Fingers Yarn Shop that was in desperate need of being spent. So, I looked all over the site and made two purchases.

The first was a beautiful yarn from Manos Del Uruguay. I love the yarn from Manos. It is a cooperative of women in rural Uruguay that hand spin and hand dye their yarn as a way to provide economic opportunities to their area. I purchased a skein in Stellar Multi. It is just gorgeous! If you ever have the opportunity to purchase yarn from these special ladies, I promise you won’t be disappointed. The colors are just amazing and you will be helping provide economic stability to the area.

I also purchased a Serendipity Scarf Pin, which I have wanted to get for a while. I asked that they picked one in the blue/green family and I am very pleased with their pick! The colors of their pins are very vibrant and I can’t wait to wear it.

A Creative Rut

I have to be honest, I have ben in a creative rut for awhile now. I hate the cold and grey of the winter and miss hearing the birds sing in the morning and the warmth of the sun on my face. As a result, I find it hard to be creative this time of the year. I am doing a lot of community projects that are pretty straightforward, but am not doing anything “new.”

I would love to hear from all of you how you “snap” out of a creative rut. Maybe we can all help each other!

Hooks and Hugs,
Andrea

Where Does The Time Go?

This winter has just been terrible. I must apologize for not posting more often, but I have been battling a nasty flu for weeks. Yuck.

Luckily, spring isn’t too far away! And that means Knit and Crochet Out events will begin to pop up all over the country. The downside is that there hasn’t been one in my area (NJ/NYC metro) in a few years. I did, however, find a group that is working to change that! If you live in the NJ/NYC metro area and would love to see Knit and Crochet Out come back, check out the nycrochetknitout group on Yahoo! They are looking for people to get involved and help plan an event. Just click here to join the group! I hope this can happen!

Coffee, Create, Sleep