2.19.2015

How Do I Celebrate Valentine's Day?


No bake cookies and a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I made these to surprise my husband and daughters for Valentine's Day. This was really pretty easy and fun. My girls and husband and enjoyed them. Just use your favorite no-bake cookie recipe, I use this one, and press the mixture into the cookie cutter, then scrape off any extra, lift up the cookie cutter, and make another. I used parchment paper underneath so that they would come off easily and not leave my counter messy.

Hope you all enjoyed a lovely and love-filled Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!
April

P.S. - You may have noticed that I've been pretty quiet on the blog since returning from TNNA last month. That's because I'm swamped! I have 8 projects in my queue. I'll try to blog here and there, but it won't be on a regular basis for awhile. I'll miss you all!

1.15.2015

My First TNNA Trade Show


I just returned from my first ever trip to a TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) trade show. I've known for a few years now that this was the industry trade show I wanted to go to and be a part of. I finally joined TNNA a few months ago and was excited to go to this show in Phoenix. Here are some photos of my trip. Above: waiting at the airport to head to Phoenix with a fab crochet accessory on and knitting in my hands.


There were a few "pre-show" events on Friday night. I made it in time for the fashion show. This is the very first piece going down the runway. The orange bag. There were lots of great items. I wish I'd taken photos of a few more of my favorites...but I didn't.


Something went awry with the calendar on my phone when changing time zones. All the times on my calendar changed to an hour earlier. No phone, I just needed the clock to change, not my whole calendar. So, I was VERY early the first morning that the show floor was open. Now, I am one of those types that always likes to be a few minutes early, but not over an hour early!


Of course, one of the great parts was seeing friends I'd met at previous crochet/knit events. I had lunch on Saturday with two of my besties -- Brenda Bourg and Andee Graves, fellow designers. It was so fun to see them!

I also got to meet and talk with Dena of Kreinik, a thread company. Kreinik makes lovely sparkly thread that you can carry along with your yarn to add sparkle to your crochet and knitting. I didn't catch a picture of it, but Dena tweeted a pic of the two of us at their booth.


One of the items in the fashion show that really caught my eye was a cardigan with a pattern of sparkles added to it. The emcee was sure to point out that the sparkles were actually tiny buttons. A crystal in a metal setting with a metal shank. They look like tiny jeweled rings...like doll size. I was fascinated because I'd never heard of these. The next day I found the booth on the show floor for Crystaletts. Not only is the product awesome, but so are the two ladies that I met there, Dorinda and Sharon. Talk about fun gals. I hope to see them again at another show. I got some of these to try out, and I couldn't wait to get home to a skein of red yarn I had. I've already been using them, and I love them! You add them in as you go, much like a bead, but with MORE sparkle! Look forward to sparkly crochet designs to come...


The trade show was in Phoenix. Since my family doesn't live in a desert climate, I've never personally met a cactus taller than I am, nor have my kids. I took this pic to send to them so they could see it.


As I got ready to leave the show floor on Monday I had to snap a pic of the prettiness inside my bag. Now to make lovliness with all these pretties! The magenta is Araucania Nuble a 75/25 Merino/Silk blend. The maroon is Mirasol Miski 100% Baby Llama and softness is, just WOW. The turquoise is Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply, Extrafine Merino Superwash. All three of these skeins are from the lovely folks at Knitting Fever. The dark teal is Sebago from Knit One Crochet Too. It is 100% Australian Superwash Merino, and so soft and lustrous. The large green skein is actually 2 skeins twisted together of Sonoma by Baah yarns. This is 100% Superwash Merino and so squishy and soft.

I haven't gotten to stitching with these yarns just yet, though I have a sketch for one of them. But I can vouch for the fact that they are all soft and delightful. And what's even better, is that the people I met that represent these yarns, are all lovely people as well.


On my way out I snapped one final photo and tweeted "So long!" to the TNNA show.


Phoenix arranged a goodbye party just for me. The decor was lovely, don't you think?

Happy stitching!
April

1.08.2015

Catching Up


Howdy there! I have been busy, busy here. I had a magazine project due on the 5th (Monday). I got it turned in with a few days to spare. Then I had three magazine submissions that I hoped to get in before those deadlines. The package in my mailbox is part of that effort. Those are due by the 12th (next Monday). I'm really thrilled that I was able to get it all done in time.

Today is all about prepping for tomorrow, when I head to the TNNA trade show for the first time. I am very excited! I'm nervous too though! I have to walk a show floor and try to tell lots of people I don't know about how awesome my work is. I'm very excited that the show is in Phoenix, AZ. It is been very cold here in Oklahoma lately. The weather in Phoenix is forecasted to be much warmer, though possibly some rain.

Hope you all enjoy a great weekend!

Happy stitching!
April

1.01.2015

Off Topic: New-ish Hobby for a New Year


It's fun to try new things. This particular "new thing" is not exactly completely new for me, but, well, let's have some back story.

I have liked bread baking for a rather long time now. I can't say that I've done it a lot, but some, and it interests me. I got a bread recipe book many years ago when I was in college. I enjoyed using the recipes from it, and the how-to info in it was very helpful. There were a few recipes for sourdough type breads in this cookbook and that sounded interesting, so I tried making, and taking care of, a sourdough starter. I found that it was demanding to keep up with and that a sourdough starter could expand a lot. I had a hard time finding a good container for it because it kept expanding more than I thought it would.

I finally had a good size container for it, and then one day when it was out on the counter without a lid a fly got in it, and died in it. Ick. That was the end of that.

Fast forward to a few months ago, and a friend told me about a blog called The Bread Geek focused on using natural yeast to make whole grain bread. It sounded pretty awesome to me...yes, I'm a little on the crunchy side. I think the biggest draw for me is that making my own starter and baking bread with it is that it's the yummy mash-up of several things that I like or at least find interesting: baking bread, microbiology (my college major), old-world skills, and natural whole-grain foods. What's not to love?!



I asked for, and received Melissa and Caleb's book, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, for Christmas and spent most of Christmas day reading it. Of course, they suggest, with very good reason, that you start by getting a healthy, active starter from someone else to begin with. But, making my own sounded like a cool microbiology project. I'm completely willing to be patient, and to not get my hopes too high. If making my own doesn't work out, I'm okay with that, but I wanted to try it, just for the fun of it. (I know some of you are thinking, Fun?! Yeah right!). That's just my particular brand of geek.

So, the pic at the top is my starter, which I have named Bennet. This name was inspired by the sour, yet good at heart, character of Mrs. Bennet from the book Pride and Prejudice (yep, love that story). Bennet was born on Christmas Day 2014. So far, so good. I started with whole wheat flour, water, and an organic apple peel. I had bubbles the next day. When I "fed" Bennet for the first time, she began expanding, and nearly doubled her size within 12 hours, which is kind of the next milestone after bubbles. However, since then she is not expanding at all. Not really sure what's up with that. I'm going to see if I can do something to keep Bennet a little warmer tonight and see if that helps her expand overnight.

So, Bennet isn't ready for the big time yet -- making loaves of bread. But, I have to feed her each day, and twice now I've made these 100% whole wheat waffles. The sourdough taste is pretty strong so far, though I think Bennet will likely get more mild as she ages. The waffles are good, and Mr AC likes them as well. Drama Queen has tried them, but isn't crazy about them. The other girls think they look good, but don't care to try them when I explain that whole wheat, sour flavor.

The recipe comes from Melissa and Caleb's book. It's a very easy recipe. Quick as well, which makes it a great way to use starter when I have some to be used up every day.


What new things will you be doing in the new year? I'd love to hear about your great plans!

Happy New Year!

April

12.25.2014

Merry Christmas SALE!


Merry Christmas dear readers! My gift to you today is a 75% off sale in my Ravelry store! Did you get yarn or new tools for Christmas? Lucky you!!! Now I'll help you put your goodies to use! No coupon code needed. Link below:






12.18.2014

Don't Lean Too Far Over Your Spinning




Just a short post for you dear readers today. Ever wondered what would happen if you got your own hair caught in your spinning?

Right here, right now, bringing you answers to life's greatest questions! This is Drama Queen learning to spin. She was pretty tense, and leaning so far over her work that her hair got caught in her spinning. (Princess is in the background).

Hope you are all having a fantastic week! The girls and I are finishing up our last week of school work before taking two weeks off for Christmas and New Year's. We are all looking forward to the break!

I'm working hard on a design for a magazine, and when I'm avoiding taking a break from that I'm either knitting a design with my handspun from last week's post, or spinning wool from a brown fleece gifted to me by my friend and fellow designer Renee Rodgers.

I am also prepping for my first TNNA trade show. That will be in Phoenix, AZ in mid-January. I'm so excited (and nervous!) to be going! I ordered new business cards a couple weeks ago, and those arrived today (Wed. the 17th, the day I wrote this). I am so pleased with how they turned out! I went with a stylized logo this time instead of my painted one, and had a picture printed on the back of one of my designs so that those I meet will have a little more by which to remember me. I got all the new contact info on it, and even included the URL for my Ravelry designer page. Thank you Ravelry for the awesome tools you have given to designers!

Stylized logo I created using MS Paint, included on my new biz cards


What do you think of the stylized logo? Like it, I hope! Anyhow, hope you all have a fantastic day!

Happy crafting!
April

12.11.2014

Not What I Thought


More handspun to show you!!! I love spinning. I do it when I don't have an urgent project...or when I feel like avoiding my work.

So, I have this Malabrigo Nube in colorway #866 Arco Iris. It is very colorful. When I got this roving I expected that it would produce very loud, bright yarn.


Then when I began to spin it, I worried that the yarn would be really ugly, because I was getting lots of yellowish-brown. I am not really a big fan of brown.


All the way through spinning the singles of the first batt I really was not sure if the yarn would turn out nice. Even though some sections were much prettier than the yellowish-brown, I felt very unsure about how it would look once all the colors were mixed together in plying.

I am pleased to say that this yarn turned out to be beautiful, but not at all what I thought it would look like! It reminds me of the pattern on my mom's china, and of heirloom quilts that my husband and I have from our great-grandmothers. I think if I were going to name this colorway I would call it "Antique Rose" or "Antique Treasure".

Then, I spun up the second batt of roving and got interesting results again. This time the yarn was a little more like what I thought it would be, but markedly different from the skeins of the first batt, even though they are the same colorway and dye lot.


These skeins had a lot more purple and green in them than the first batt.


Here are all the finished skeins. The 3 on the left are from the first batt, and the 3 on the right are from the second batt. I love them all. The pictures don't do them justice. I am excited to make something with these to see how the color story continues to unfold in the stitching. I'm leaning towards an infinity scarf/cowl.

What do you think? Do you like it? Does it seem like a surprising result based on the look of the roving? What would you name it? What would you make with it?

Happy spinning!
April