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Handmade Tornado

I live in Oklahoma.  Many of you have seen on the news the reports of last week's devastating tornadoes.  I have to drive about 25 miles or 30 minutes to get to Moore from my house -- not too far.  The day before the Moore tornado there was one that formed closer to our home, and did some damage just a little ways east of here.  We were hiding in our in-ground tornado shelter when the sirens went off here.  That shelter was a Christmas present from us, to us this past year.  As a result, this has been the most peaceful storm season EVER for me, and I've lived here for 25 years (however, my home has never been damaged by a tornado).

Tornadoes are a given here in Oklahoma.  They happen every Spring, and occasionally at other times of year as well.  Many people would wonder why we stay here, given that.  I would have to say that it's because of the people.  There are so many good, friendly, kind, generous people here in Oklahoma, and many conservative Christians, which we like because we are conservative Christians as well.  Everyone I know that moves here from out of state tells me that the people here in Oklahoma are the nicest they've met anywhere.  It also helps that this is home for me.  I've been in the Oklahoma City metro area since I was in the 3rd grade.  I love it here!

Our family was headed out of town the morning of the Moore tornado.  My husband was making a trip for work and for the first time, we took the whole family along.  We were driving to a very small town in Texas called Sonora.  We drove south on I-35 which took us through Moore and through Norman, the college town where Mr. AC and I met.  It was sunny, and everything looked just fine there.  It was later that afternoon that my Facebook newsfeed, which I was looking at on my husband's cell phone, started telling me that things were not right back at home.  I called my sister to have her explain to me what was happening.

It was a hard week to be away.  Our hearts were aching to be home so that we could be to help and to be a part of it all.  Not that we wanted to feel sad, exactly, but we were sad, and we knew that others here at home would be feeling what we were feeling.  Going home on Thursday we drove back through Moore and were amazed to see the change.

This past Sunday I was helping clean up in Moore, along with many other members of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and along with many other people from various organizations.  I was sent to a city park in Moore to help pile up debris so that the city can more easily clean it up with various loaders and tractors, and such.  I spent several hours that day cleaning debris out of a pond.

Photo by Suzanne Wolfe, my sister, who was also helping.

We were using metal rakes to pull the debris out of the water and then we would load it into these sled-like things and haul it up the hill to dump onto a pile of debris.  Then trudge back down the hill and start over again.  We were very blessed with a good enough wind to cool us off, and to help blow the debris to shore so that no one had to wade in to get it out.

While I was cleaning this debris I found two handmade items among the wood, broken plastic, dead fish, etc.  One of them was a crocheted potholder.  Strangely, the final end was not woven in.  Otherwise it was finished.  I wondered if it was nearly finished when the tornado came and the maker did not get to weave in the end.  I wondered if the tornado managed to rip the end out.  The other handmade item I found was the half-completed needlepoint snowflake in the top picture.

Finding these things got me thinking about what handmade treasures I would lose if a tornado tore my home and life apart.  It would be awful to lose the precious quilts made by my grandmother, mom, and mother-in-law.  What about all of the things I've made myself?  My wedding gown which my mom made?  Many things are replaceable, but those things are definitely not.  So sad.  I don't think it's likely that anyone reading this will know to whom this snowflake belongs, but if you do, please comment to let me know so that I can return it to its owner!

I am so proud to live in a great state of kind people.  The response has been huge!  So many people are helping with the effort to clean up and help.  Helpful, kind, loving people have also been pouring in from all over the country to help.  It is amazing how many ways people are finding to help, and how many people have traveled for hours to come lift spirits and clean up.  Well done, America!


On a more cheerful note let's find out who won the free book, Free-Spirit Shawls, from last week's blog post!

The winner is....  Laura Wolfe!

Laura, please send an email with your address to bananamoonstudio @ I will give your address to the publisher and they will send you the book!  If you didn't win, you can find the book for sale on Amazon and at the Interweave Store.

Happy Stitching everyone!




Exciting announcement today!  I am working on an e-book.  I will be self-publishing this e-book that you won't want to miss!

A couple months ago I was listening to Marly Bird's Yarn Thing Podcast.  She was interviewing Rohn Strong.  He was talking about his publishing e-books and I thought, hmm, I could do that, I want to do that!  I got excited about the idea and started writing down my ideas about what to make, what to call it, what yarn to use, etc.

I had been in the process of evaluating where I was with my design career, where I wanted to go, and where I had time to go.  I of course would love to be the super-designer, but I am limited on how much time I can spend designing and stitching, because my 4 little girls take up so much of my time.  This idea of self-publishing an e-book really felt right.

Above is the only sneak peak I am giving.  I am sitting on the couch, crocheting in my jammies.

I will be so very happy to show and tell the designs when the e-book is ready!  For now I am very excited that the very good yarn companies I have asked to support my e-book have agreed, and that I have two tech editors in place to help me make sure this is a collection of high-quality crochet patterns.

Can't wait!



Book Review: Free-Spirit Shawls

Interweave/F+W Media; $24.95

I have the pleasure of telling you about a fantastic book by Lisa Shroyer, editor of Knitscene magazine. The book is Free-Spirit Shawls, a collection of knit shawls in various shapes and sizes.  I am so excited that Interweave sent me this book to review because I am in love with shawls, and I've been improving my knitting skills, and there are some beautiful projects in this book!

You should also be excited that they sent it to me, because I get to give away a FREE copy of it to one lucky reader!  Details on that in a minute.

Hands down my favorite project in the book is Rhoeas, by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark.  I will make this shawl!

Photo by Joe Hancock

My other favorites are Cimarron by Alexis Winslow, Framework, which is also by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, Lindsay (the shawl on the cover) by Tabetha Hedrick, and Glen Lennox by Kate Gagnon Osborn.  I'm actually planning to cast-on Glen Lennox to take with me on a trip soon as my project to work on while travelling.  I'm using some very luscious Plymouth Baby Alpaca Worsted in #100 natural that Mr. AC got me for our anniversary this year.  It will be glorious to wear!  This will also be my first knit project with a cable.  Lets hope it goes well!

Have you seen the book?  Which projects are your favorites?  Have you started any?

There are so many great shawls in this book, but that isn't all that's great about it.  There is a section about how to wear your shawl, so that you can try out other ideas besides the traditional.  There are sections that discuss different shawl shapes and types of construction, which is great for me since I hope to get into knit design someday.  There is also a "Techniques" section in the back with some explanations about cast-ons and bind-offs that will be really helpful to me, being that I am still pretty new to knitting.

Really, if you love knitting and wearing shawls, you won't want to miss out on this fabulous book!  I am so glad that it is in my crafting library!

Now, for the chance to add it to your crafting library, for FREE, courtesy of Interweave/F+W Media.  You can enter the drawing by leaving a comment here on my blog or by tweeting a link to the blog post @BananaMoonStdio so that I can see it.  You can earn one entry for a blog comment and one for a tweet, for a total of up to 2 entries per person.  In one week I'll draw a random winner and announce it here, on Twitter, and on my Facebook page -- on Thurs. May 30th .  Good luck!

Happy Stitching!



Craftsy Free Class Day!

Saturday May 18th only, new members at Craftsy can get a FREE class!  If Craftsy succeeds in giving away 10,000 classes, they will donate $5,000 to Donors Choose, to help fund arts education in public schools throughout the US.  When you sign up you will get to choose a free class, up to a $39.99 value! Craftsy classes are awesome!  I've taken most of their free mini-classes, and started two of the longer classes, and they have all been great!  Today is the perfect day to try them out!

Happy learning!



Finishing the Job: How to Finish or End a Crochet Piece

Lately I have helped a number of beginners learn to crochet.  I have noticed a tendency that I had rather forgotten about, but which I remember having when I too was a beginner.  What tendency?

To cut off ends really short after tying a knot.

So, I would like today to address the issue of finishing the job.

How to Fasten Off a Crochet Project:

When you have gotten to the end of your pattern or project, what do you do next?

Going back towards the skein, at least 6 inches (15 cm) away from where you are working, cut your yarn.

How to finish a crochet project or weave in ends. Tutorial by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

Wrap the yarn around your hook and pull it through the loop just as if you were making a chain.

How to finish a crochet project or weave in ends. Tutorial by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

Now, keep pulling it through, making the loop bigger, until you pull it all the way through.

How to finish a crochet project or weave in ends. Tutorial by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

Pull that end tight.

How to finish a crochet project or weave in ends. Tutorial by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

You don't need to tie any other knots in it.

How to Weave in Ends in a Crochet Piece:

Thread your end onto a blunt yarn needle.

How to finish a crochet project or weave in ends. Tutorial by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

Turn your project wrong side out and run your yarn needle under the threads and loops along the back, taking care not to take your needle to the right side of your fabric.  You don't want the end you're "weaving in" to show up on that side.

How to finish a crochet project or weave in ends. Tutorial by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

It is best to weave in the end in multiple directions.

How to finish a crochet project or weave in ends. Tutorial by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

I have seen others suggest running your needle back through the yarn end to help secure it.  This is done by poking the needle between the plies of the yarn that you've already woven in.

How to finish a crochet project or weave in ends. Tutorial by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

If those ends are really slippery, and they won't stay put, then you can use a dab of fabric glue (non-washable) to hold them in place. This is not ideal, but better than having your project come undone.

Why should I finish my crochet piece this way?

Why is this the way to do it?  If you tie a knot and cut your end off short, chances are it is going to come undone in the wash or when undergoing the stresses of being worn, and then unravel.  In addition, it is also unsightly, and there is no way to hide it (see below).

Long ends are much better than short ends!  This is also true for your beginning end, which needs to be at least 6 inches (15 cm) long as well.

Hopefully I have helped someone finish a project well.  I know that I did not understand this as a beginner.  Hopefully, you will learn it quicker than I did.

Looking for other crochet tutorials? Look here:

How to begin a circular crochet project

How to make pictures or words in your crochet project with intarsia

How to make post stitches

How to use Russian joins when joining in a new skein of yarn

What things did you not "get" or understand when you were a new crocheter? What things did you learn along the way? What do you want to learn about crochet?

Happy Stitching!



Growing in Your Shade

A mother tree drops her seeds
In the fertile ground beneath her leaves.

Her seedling grows well in her shade
As time goes on and seasons fade.

Protected from the harsh Summer sun
As her mother tree gives her ample love.

Shielded from the strong Fall winds
By her mother -- her dearest friend.

Blessed by her mother who stands nearby
She survives snowy winters, cold as ice.

When Spring arrives, the mother tree
Sprinkles rain gently through her leaves.

With protection in her mother's grace
She grows in stature, height, and strength.

Until her roots, intertwined with mother's
And branches strong and tall as other's

Live side by side with her as friends
Helping each other through the wind.

Mother you have loved me all my life through
And cared and sheltered as I grew.

Just as that tree who cared for her seed
You have protected and watched over me.

Now we are friends and I am here
To love, bless, and help you through the years.

-- April Garwood, Mother's Day May 12, 2013

I love my wonderful mother!  She has taken care of me and taught me so that I could become a happy and fulfilled woman and mother.  She is a gift to me, and I am proud to be her daughter.  She also taught me to love needle-crafting, which we all know is a fantastic gift!

Below are some examples of my mom's crafty handiwork.

Back of my wedding gown, which she made.

Edging detail on my wedding gown.

Knit socks that she made for me.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!  I hope you have a wonderful day and that it involves lots of relaxing stitching!




I finished!  The biggest motivator for me to learn to knit was to make socks.  I have a pair of crocheted socks, so yes, I know they can be crocheted, but they are wearing out very fast because they get tugged on so much in the getting on and off process -- they are not very stretchy.  Knit just works better for socks in my experience.

These are made in Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Collection Serenity Sock Weight with 2.5mm Addi circular needles (using the Magic Loop Method).  I used the free pattern "Simple Socks" by Suzy Vitale, which I found on Ravelry.  I did find that the heel turn portion of the pattern contained errors, so I had to improvise with another pattern on the first sock, but on the second sock I understood the principle well enough to base it on the original pattern more.  These are just simple stockinette stitch socks, and for the most part, the pattern was very good.  You can maybe see that the ribbing on the left sock is loose.  That was the first one I made, and it is not quite as well-done as the second sock, but I think I've got it down now.

This picture and the next two, are just for fun, to show you the beautiful roses that have bloomed in our front yard this week.  I love these roses!  They are all a little different, but all blends of pale pink and yellow.

Close up!
Do you garden?  Knit socks?  Share your pics on my Facebook page!  I'd love to see them!

Happy stitching!