Winner of Unexpected Afghans!

Thank you all for your great comments about your favorite afghans to make! It was really fun to read all of your comments. And thank you for all the great compliments on the Amada Baby Blanket. I’m so glad it’s been well received.

But, let’s get to the drawing! I numbered the 23 comments I received in order, and then went to Random.org to use their Random number generator.

And the winner is….

Congrats to Monica! Who says…

Big and lacey all the way! I tend to have short attention span on projects, so having a pattern that goes quick is my favorite.

Monica, shoot me an email (or use the contact form) to send me your email address and I’ll pass it on so we can get you your ebook!

So, let me answer my own question…

I live in Florida, so I love motif blankets. It is too hot here to work on big afghans throughout most of the year. So motifs make it so I can get the bulk of the work done without too much in my lap. Then I can sit at a table and get the motifs joined and into a big afghan.

Now, I also love quick blankets. My go-to pattern for “I don’t know what kind of blanket I want to make but I need a blanket quick” is a giant granny square. I can do those without even looking at what I’m doing, and it’s quick and mindless.

I have some more blog posts brewing, so as soon as I can grab some time to write, you’ll see those. As I hinted at a few weeks ago, I’m knitting now and doing pretty well. Don’t worry, I will always be primarily a crocheter. But I can see how both art forms have their pros and cons.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012: Crafting Balance

Day Seven of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! Today’s code, if you wish to follow along the other blogs also participating, is 3KCBWDAY7. You’ll need to enter that into the search engine of your choice and if everyone tagged their posts correctly, you’ll find other bloggers talking about the same subject! Fun, right?

 

Today’s post is Crafting Balance

 

Eskimimi says:

Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favouring one over the other? How did you come to learn and love your craft(s)?

I am very much a crocheter. I have only knitted one thing in my entire life and it took me three weeks to make.

 

My only knitted project

 

Yes, that simple dishcloth took me three weeks. Why? Because while I had learned how to knit and purl, I had not learned how to undo mistakes. So, if I made one, I ripped the whole thing out and started over. Multiple times.

 

At that point I realized that knitting was just not for me. Not at that time. I had deadlines, I had things to do, and I could whip out a ton of crocheted dishcloths in the time it took me to knit one. In fact, I have…see:

 

2 sets of crocheted dishcloths for gifts

 

So yeah, crocheting has always been faster for me.

But, recently, while working my way out of this very deep rut I dug for myself, I’ve realized faster isn’t always better. As I revel in taking a long time to make a lace shawl, I realize how much I’m enjoying taking my time and enjoying each stitch. That’s something I lost when I was producing under deadline. For the last couple of years especially, it’s been all about how quickly I could get an item done so I could move on to the next one. And in that I lost the joy of the fiber.

I’m not saying I’m ready to pick up knitting needles right away, or that I’ll ever be as prolific with them as I am with the hook. But, I think the time is coming that I may start working on a few simple things. I’ll have to buy new needles since I did learn that I liked the bamboo ones best and I gave those to my mom. The only ones I have still are the old metal ones my grandmother used. And those moved too fast for me. 🙂

I don’t think it’ll be an issue getting new needles. I have a wonderful yarn shop within walking distance that has a great selection, including some new ones I’ve never seen before. Not to fear, they also have a really great selection of nice crochet hooks, too. 🙂

So while I’m not a balanced crafter yet, I’m hoping to be soon.

I hope you enjoyed this Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! You can find other posts on this topic by using the code 3KCBWDAY7 in your search engine. Enjoy!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012: Improving Your Skillset

Day Six of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! Today’s code, if you wish to follow along the other blogs also participating, is 3KCBWDAY6. You’ll need to enter that into the search engine of your choice and if everyone tagged their posts correctly, you’ll find other bloggers talking about the same subject! Fun, right?

Today’s post is: Improving Your Skillset

Eskimimi says:

How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how’s your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you’d like to have tried them by.

I feel pretty confident in the skills I have. Usually on the surveys you find on yarn sites and such I label myself as an expert. That’s not to say I don’t still have things to learn. I think true experts recognize that there are always things to learn in their chosen field.

I still struggle with pattern grading. That’s the fancy term for taking a pattern you’ve designed for one size and doing the math to be able to write the directions for other sizes. Without then working the sample to make sure. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to do it. I just don’t trust myself with it yet. My numbers feel off and it makes me nervous. I have done it, and it’s worked, but it still feels weird. If I ever get back into designing, I will likely give this another go.

I also really want to learn how to do hairpin lace. There are some amazing designs coming out lately with hairpin lace. I know the mechanics of how to do it, I just haven’t worked with it enough to be able to really give it a go.

One of the other skills I really want to pick up is to spin. I have used the drop spindle, and did really well at it. I also own a spinning wheel. But, I’ve never really given it a go. Mainly because when I did have time it was 95 degrees outside (which meant it was 85 in the house) and it was just too hot to play with wool. When it was cold, I was swamped with deadlines. So, hoping to get the spinning wheel moved over here soon (gotta get the room ready for it first) and then give it a spin (ha!).

This may be the year I also give knitting a go again. I did learn how to knit continental a while back and that was passable. I also really like using the Knook to knit with, so maybe I can use that to knit with while I build the muscle memory.

That’s pretty much it for this post. I know, compared to the others it’s kinda short, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Please join me tomorrow for the last post in the Knitting and Crochet Blog week. You can find other posts on this topic by using the code 3KCBWDAY6 in your search engine. See you tomorrow!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012: Something A Bit Different

Day Five of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! Today’s code, if you wish to follow along the other blogs also participating, is 3KCBWDAY5. You’ll need to enter that into the search engine of your choice and if everyone tagged their posts correctly, you’ll find other bloggers talking about the same subject! Fun, right?

 

Today’s post is Something A Bit Different

 

Eskimimi says:

It’s back, and this time it has the most amazing of prizes (look for the prize for ‘most creative post’). This was a massive success last year, and for many it was the highlight of the Blog Week, so this year you are challenged, again, to find a new way of blogging.
This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create.There are no rules of a topic to blog about but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog. This can take one of many forms, but here a few suggestions:

  • Wordless, photographic post
  • Video blog post
  • Podcast
  • Cartoon/sketch of an idea
  • Write about a subject from a different perspective (for example, you could write about a day in the life of a knitted sock from the point of view of the sock).
  • Interpretive modern dance (why does someone always suggest this?)
  • A poem or piece of rhyming verse
  • Stop motion animation

 

I am actually going to share both some photos, a video, and a poem I wrote at a poetry workshop a few months ago. They all relate to that wonderful time I experienced at Cama Beach last year at the Crochet Liberation Front Retreat.

 

 

The view from the airplane

 

The view from our cabin

 

The view from our hike

 

Words to live by found on the sundial

 

Recovery found in lace and water

 

My souvenir

 

The video, taken the first day we were there. I wanted to capture that sound because it spoke to me so much:



 

And finally, my poem:


Standing on the shore
I struggle to find my balance
Smooth stones below my feet
Majestic mountains in the distance
The two joined together by the sea.
Icy cold wind carries its own perfume
Mixing with the salty, woody minerality of the air
Pervading silence punctuated by the rhythmic rushing
Of water crashing against the shore
Before dancing back to the sea.
The smooth stones were once
The majestic mountains in the distance
Now worn down to their essence by the waves.
My tears come unbidden
Mixing their own salt with the sea.
Like the stones, I feel the cleansing power of the waves
Crashing into my soul
Pulling out the pain
Returning it to the sea
Leaving me at peace.
~ Tracie Barrett, March 2012
 

 

Please join me tomorrow for the next post in the Knitting and Crochet Blog week. You can find other posts on this topic by using the code 3KCBWDAY5 in your search engine. See you tomorrow!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012: Crocheter for All Seasons?

Day Four of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! Today’s code, if you wish to follow along the other blogs also participating, is 3KCBWDAY4. You’ll need to enter that into the search engine of your choice and if everyone tagged their posts correctly, you’ll find other bloggers talking about the same subject! Fun, right?

Today’s post is A Crocheter For All Seasons?

Eskimimi says:

As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

I live in Florida. Florida is hot. Now, this week we had a bit of a cold snap where we went from temps in the mid 80s to mid 70s for a few days. It was chilly. I sat outside at a baseball game on Monday night, crocheting on my Lace Recovery Shawl, freezing to death. lol.

Because we have very mild winters, sweaters are right out. There’s no point in making them when I can only wear them maybe one day a season and only if we’re going to be outside the entire time. Doesn’t stop me from wanting to make them. And sometimes it doesn’t stop me from actually making them.

 

My first crocheted sweater

 

I tend to make a lot of small, lightweight accessories. Shawls and wraps are great for here in Florida. I tend to make mine out of fingering or laceweight yarn which makes them light. They’re great for cooler mornings and evenings, or for places that run the a/c a little too strong.

 

Diamond Lace Shawl

 

Hats and fingerless gloves and scarves are perfect here for the winter. Often, it’s all I need for a bit of warmth. Fingerless gloves are my favorite because my hands get very cold very quickly, but I often need my fingers free. You’d be amazed at how well they can warm your hands.

 

My favorite Fingerless Mitts

 

I do also love to make blankets (and I do use them now in this house). But, blankets and afghans get really hot when you’re working on them. My trick? Use a table. I learned this when I was designing full time. See, designers tend to do their work in the opposite seasons. I was doing winter items in the summer time. And it was during that time that I learned my trick for doing afghans. If you sit at a table and let the table hold the weight of the afghan, you won’t be as hot. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in Florida, you’re going to be hot, but at least this way only your hands get hot. I have sat there with two fans blowing on me and an afghan on the table.

 

Zen Waves - made on a table

 

I hope you enjoyed this post! I’d love to hear how the seasons affect your crafting.

 

 

Please join me tomorrow for the next post in the Knitting and Crochet Blog week. You can find other posts on this topic by using the code 3KCBWDAY4 in your search engine. See you tomorrow!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012: Crochet Hero

Day Three of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! Today’s code, if you wish to follow along the other blogs also participating, is 3KCBWDAY3. You’ll need to enter that into the search engine of your choice and if everyone tagged their posts correctly, you’ll find other bloggers talking about the same subject! Fun, right?

 

Today’s post is Your Crochet Hero

 

Eskimimi says:

Blog about someone in the fibre crafts who truly inspires you. There are not too many guidelines for this, it’s really about introducing your readers to someone who they might not know who is an inspiration to you. It might be a family member or friend, a specific designer or writer, indie dyer or another blogger. If you are writing about a knitting designer and you have knitted some of their designs, don’t forget to show them off. Remember to get permission from the owner if you wish to use another person’s pictures.

 

This one is pretty easy for me. My crochet hero is Kim Guzman. Let’s get some of the details out of the way first:

You can find out more about her through her various sites:
Her blog: WIPs ‘N Chains
Her main site: Kim Guzman
Her pattern site: Kimane Designs

 

So, why is Kim my hero? Kim is a fantastic designer, in both crochet and knit, and is one of the hardest working designers I know. Don’t get me wrong, all the designers I know work hard. But I’m constantly amazed at Kim’s stamina and ability to consistently produce amazing designs.

I follow her details on how much she’s working and it constantly amazes me. Some days it makes me exhausted just reading all she’s doing. She is somehow able to magically balance designing, teaching, raising her son and growing an amazing garden. And she seems to always balance them with grace.

I was lucky enough to meet Kim at the 2009 Knit and Crochet show. We didn’t have a lot of time to talk at that show, but we did get a chance to grab a photo together. I will admit, I was having a fan girl moment. I was having a fan girl moment most of the show.

 

Kim and Me outside the convention center

 

At the 2010 Knit and Crochet show we ran into one another again. This was my second show and I felt a little more confident and assured in my position as a designer and instructor. Which is evident by the fact that I didn’t take as many photos that year. 🙂 I did grab this one, though:

 

Rebecca Velasquez, Me, & Kim Guzman

Please forgive my lack of smile. I was already exhausted that day and was likely trying to talk to the photographer at the same time as the photo was being snapped. lol.

 

My favorite memory from that week? The last night of the show, sitting outside the hotel in the wee hours of the morning with Kim, having a very deep heart to heart about how hard this business is. I was already feeling the start of the burnout. It was something I should have listened to then so it didn’t get as bad as it did the following June. But, I will always remember that talk. The one thing that stuck with me (that I’ll share, ’cause the rest of it I’m keeping between us) was, “We do this because we love it, it doesn’t pay enough otherwise.” It wasn’t all serious conversation that night, there was a lot of laughter mixed in with those tears we shed together.

 

So yes, Kim is my crochet hero. She has helped me more than she’ll ever know. 🙂

 

 

Please join me tomorrow for the next post in the Knitting and Crochet Blog week. You can find other posts on this topic by using the code 3KCBWDAY3 in your search engine. See you tomorrow!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012: Photography Challenge Day

Day Two of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! Today’s code, if you wish to follow along the other blogs also participating, is 3KCBWDAY2. You’ll need to enter that into the search engine of your choice and if everyone tagged their posts correctly, you’ll find other bloggers talking about the same subject! Fun, right?

Today’s post is Photography Challenge Day

Eskimimi says:

Today challenges you to be creative with your photography, and get yourself in with the chance to win the photography prize. Taking interesting photographs in this instance isn’t about flashy cameras or a great deal of technical know-how, it’s about setting up a story or scene in a photograph and capturing something imaginative. Your photograph(s) should feature something related to your craft, so that might be either a knitted or crocheted item, yarn, or one of your craft tools. One example of setting a scene would be to photograph a girl in a knitted red cape walking through the woodlands with a basket of goodies, as in the Red Riding Hood tale, or you might photograph a knitted gnome hiding among the flowers in your garden. Photo editing is permitted for competition photos.

And here’s my photograph:

 

Surrounded by love

 

Now, I need to explain the photo (probably not in the spirit of the post, but it didn’t say wordless). 🙂

Both of my grandmothers and my great-grandmother crocheted. We have at my parents’ house a bag filled with handmade items, both knitted and crocheted (my maternal grandmother knitted more than crocheted, but my paternal grandmother was mostly a crocheter). The only thing we don’t have on these many many items are tags stating who made what. So, I have really no idea who made each of the blankets we have.

When I returned home last year, we found this bag and I snagged the lovely green and gold ripple blanket from it. This thing is heavy. It has some wool in it, which is evident by the felting that has taken place in parts. But it’s warm and it was made with love and I display it proudly in my home now.

The flowered motif blanket I found tucked in the sofa bed that was in my room. It was used to pad the horrid mattress to make it a bit more comfortable. I snagged it, too.

The white blanket was sent to me by my aunt when she found it among my paternal grandmother’s things. It still had the state fair ribbon she won with it attached to it. It’s delicate and lacy and huge for a baby blanket (I can wear it like a wrap). This blanket, along with some of her hooks and unfinished projects, made me cry when I opened the box.

In the middle, that pink granny square, is a blanket I whipped up one day. It’s one of our favorite lap blankets here and is often the first one the boy grabs when he’s sick and wants a cuddle on the sofa.

I chose this picture to showcase my grandmothers’ crochet (because even with the color choices of the day, they’re still freaking awesome) and to surround my own with it. All these blankets (an one more that I made) reside on the quilt rack in our living room. I know that while I didn’t learn to crochet from either of them, I have their skills running through my hands and I’m honored to carry on the tradition of the craft.

 

 

Please join me tomorrow for the next post in the Knitting and Crochet Blog week. You can find other posts on this topic by using the code 3KCBWDAY2 in your search engine. See you tomorrow!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012: Color Lovers

This is it, the start of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! I hope you’ll join me every day to follow along on the posts. Also, if you Google the code 3KCBWDAY1 you’ll see all the posts from this day. Each day there will be a different code and you’ll be able to use that to find the other posts.

 

Today’s topic is Color Lovers.

 

Here’s the prompt from Eskimimi:

Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects – do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

This one is easy. My favorite color, as many people know, is purple. However, it’s not just any purple. I like the deep purples, the plums and the grapes and the heathered tweedy purples. I am not a fan of lavender, unless it’s part of a heathered or tweedy colorway. I used to joke with a yarn store owner that she’d always know when I was buying yarn just for swatching because it would always be in purple. Always.

I typically gravitate towards purple when I’m going to make something for myself. Like my entry in the Winter 2008 Ravelympics:

 

Purple Mohair and Beads

 

But I’m not just limited to purple. I also love jewel tones. Deep blues, rich fuchsias, emeraldy greens, bold and deep teals. It’s the richness of those colors that attracts me. Especially when they are mixed with other tones in the same color family.

 

Rich Burgundy Jeweltone

 

Deep woodsy colors appeal to me as well. Any nature inspired color, really, but especially woodsy greens and browns. It’s calming to me.

 

The yarn from my Lace Recovery Project

 

I have been known to sneak some bright colors into my lineup. Usually in the form of sock yarn. I like how a pop of bright colored socks can help brighten any day and any outfit. I think currently these are my brightest ones:

 

Bright teal socks

 

Some pastels do find their way into my palette. Often those yarns need to scream loud at the yarn shop for me to fall for them. They often start by telling me exactly what they want to be so they don’t sit around in my stash for long.

 

Fionnuala Cowl

 

I will confess a secret. I have a hard time putting multiple colors together. When I was freelancing for a yarn company, I often had to have my contact tell me how she wanted the colors to go together. I was sent a box of nine different colors and told to use six of them. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t figure out which of them went together well. So that was the start of “here’s the color sequence we’d like you to use” notes on my project assignment sheets. 🙂 It’s also why many of my designs are with one colorway or coordinating colorways. Or if I want it to be multicolored, I pick a variegated yarn. There’s my confessional for today.

 

I hope you enjoyed today’s post on the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. Please join me tomorrow for the next installment. And remember, you can see all of today’s posts from other bloggers by entering 3KCBWDAY1 in your search engine. 🙂

New blog home

Crocheting at Cama

Lace crocheting at Cama Beach

Cama was amazing! Photos coming soon, but first I had to take care of a little housekeeping stuff.

You are now on my new site (traciebarrett.com). I will eventually also have my website (fibersbytracie.com) over here as well. But for now, the blog is here.

Why the move? Well, the website needed to be updated anyway (badly) and after getting an email that my “free” webhosting was about to charge me for having too many visitors, it was time to make things happen. It’s beneficial to be dating a web developer, too. 😉 He’s working his WordPress magic and helping me make an awesome site.

So, thanks for following me over here and I promise I’ll be updating more often. Cama was wonderful for me and gave me the opportunity to revive my creative soul. Keep an eye out on the rest of the website and it’ll be developing into its own soon.

Knitting & Crocheting Blog Week: Day Seven – Your Knitting or Crocheting Time

Day Seven! (Woo hoo! I did it!)

Today’s prompt:

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

I crochet everywhere. Everywhere. This is my full time job and if I’m under deadline, there’s no where I won’t crochet. I’ve crocheted on the bus, I’ve crocheted in waiting rooms, I’ve crocheted on a plane, I’ve crocheted in a car in the dark (while someone else was driving), and I’ve crocheted at Disney. No, really, I even have pics to prove it:

Standing in line at Soarin’ in Epcot

But, let’s talk about my typical crafting time.

If I’m working on a design and need to make notes as I go, then I’m typically sitting at my work table. I keep my design notebook next to me and crochet a row then write it down. I’ve learned the hard way that this is how I have to do it if I ever hope to write the pattern later. I often either have a cup of coffee or a cup of water next to me. Laptop is always on and I’m known to answer emails super fast because of that. I’ll often take quick breaks and stretch my fingers by goofing off online. 🙂

If I don’t need to make notes, then I’m usually in my comfy chair. There I still have a drink of some sort next to me, and try to remember to have all my tools on the table, too. I’m trying to learn to disconnect from the internet a bit more, but I still often have my iPod Touch next to me when I’m in the chair. It’s my secondary computer and I use it to do just about everything I need to do online (except Ravelry, it’s a bit harder to navigate in the tiny little screen).

My TV is always on. This comes from working seven years in a control room at a TV station. I get twitchy when there is a TV in the room and it isn’t on. Even if I’m not paying attention to it, it’s the noise. And no, music doesn’t fill the void the same way. So, if I’m home, TV on. I also use the TV as my clock. Again, this comes from working at a station. When a show has ended I know that half an hour or an hour has passed. Commercials remind me to take a break (although I did my time in TV working at a PBS station, so it took me a while to get used to those again). So I rarely watch movies. I won’t talk about what I do watch. There are benefits to working from home (mostly) alone so one can indulge in bad television vices. I now have a DVR, too, so I often record things overnight and watch them the next day.

I have one big window (sliding glass door) and one small window in my room and I usually keep the blinds open to let in natural light. The only time this changes is in the summer when it just gets too hot. We’re making some changes this year to the windows, so hopefully I can still have natural light when we move into the real part of summer. If not, I’ll do what I did last year, which was to wait until the sun moved to the other side of the house to open up the blinds.

My typical work day goes from about 9:30-10:00am (depending on when I get up and how long it takes me to do the typical morning stuff), pausing around 1pm for a quick bite for lunch, back to it until 5-5:30pm for a quick dinner and doing the dishes, then back to it until usually around 7:30pm. Some days go longer, some days don’t. It depends on the project on deck and the to-do list. And what’s going on in the house.

I often take breaks to snack, and will eat near my project (depending of course on what the food and yarn is, there are always exceptions), but I rarely eat while I’m crocheting. Simply because I haven’t figured out how to eat and crochet at the same time. If I’m putting down the hook to eat, then I’ll eat.

That’s all I can think of about my crochet time. Kinda boring, I know. 🙂

Today is the last day of the blog week! If you want to read the rest of the blogs that are also posting, you can do a google search on this term: 2KCBWDAY7. Everyone participating will have that term in their post and you can follow along that way. 🙂

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