Monday, December 14, 2009

A Brief Public Service Announcement

THIS is what happens when you accidentally throw a couple of yards of sock yarn into the washer and dryer. A tangled mess of one linen shirt, one bra, and three pairs of flannel pajama bottoms.
Surgery was needed, all clothing survived, although with interesting twisty patterns dried in.

Just one more reason why crocheters and knitters need to check their pockets before laundry day!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some new pretties!

This is the new Crochet Christmas Gift Card Holders set, available at Patternfish.com. The $3 pattern includes the mini-stocking, Santa's mitten, ornament, and my personal favorite, the peppermint stick. Make one up quickly to add a little happy to a gift of a gift card or cash.

Have you seen the Beaded Thistle Shawl? It's crocheted in a lightweight acrylic/mohair blend called Swiss Mohair, which will be available to the world in January of 2010. Can't wait? Try my kit!
The kit includes the pattern, one skein (600 yards) of the yarn in one of your choice of six colors, glass beads with an aurora borealis/pale pink finish, and a #10 steel hook with which to attach the beads as you crochet, because hell hath no fury like trying to string a skillion beads on mohair yarn! There is even a nice little beading photo tutorial on the back of the pattern! All this for $19.99 plus $5.50 shipping and handling in the US - out of US residents need to hit me with an email for shipping rates. The full details are here - all six colors are currently in stock, but may not be for long.

How are you all doing with your holiday knitting and crocheting? I am still trying to get some deadline stuff finished....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Greetings from Chez Crazy Person

First off, a gift to you from NaturallyCaron.com - my newest knitted shawl pattern. It's available as a free download here - enjoy! It starts at the center of the upper edge and grows as you stitch, so you can adjust the length/width to your desired dimensions - or call it a mini-shawl if you run out of time before the holidays, run out of yarn, or simply get bored!

So I am doing my annual crazy person routine - deadlines, the holidays, trying to get new things out and ready for TNNA which has the nerve to be in early January every year. It's like Christmas - I know it's coming, I know I have a ton to do, but I never seem to get it all done in a timely fashion. Add in the new kits I am working on (photos soon) and all the every day stuff, and it's crazy. Which I know I say a lot. But it is.

Anyway, I was out running errands the other day and came home to find my neighbor/buddy/fellow yarn addict plopped on my living room floor, playing with the dog. This is a good thing. I apologize for being rushed and am chatting with her as I fly through to the dining room, where the laptop was sitting, so I can check for an email I am waiting for.

Since she is sitting on the floor, she points and laughs at my mis-matched feet. Yes, I reply, I know my socks don't match, but I am so crazed I haven't had time to do laundry and at least they are both clean, which I thought was more important...blah blah blah on my part. She is still laughing. And pointing. So I look down and see that MY SHOES DON'T MATCH EITHER!

Seriously, I went out of the house and ran errands for two hours with two different shoes on AND DID NOT NOTICE! At least they were both black.

Sigh....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In which I am vaguely amused...

Sorry for no pix this week - it's been a rough week here. LL mangled a tendon and cannot dance in the Irish dance regional finals next week, which she has been working towards all year. We are both very sad about this, as is her new coach whom I adore, but at the end of the day she doesn't have much choice. When you are 13 though, "there's always next year" seems like the worst sort of platitude. But there is - there is always next year, even if the poor kid thinks it will never come.

On the upside - she is getting more sleep and I am getting more work done.

With all of this emo sort of background going on you will see why I was way more amused by this morning's pattern writing adventure than I might normally have been. I wrote:

"Rep Rows 9 and 10 for pattern until work measures 6" from underarm BO"

Underarm BO - hee!

I changed the wording to start of underarm shaping....

Friday, October 09, 2009

A brief commercial announcement!

New patterns, new signings, I promise this won't turn into blog o' ads, but there's what's happening Chez Alpaca Addict.

This pattern is called Cushy. It's a slightly slouchy hat and wide, dense scarf, made in a pattern of front post and back post treble crochets. The yarn is new from Rozetti and is called Spark - it's a worsted weight with - it's hard to describe but I love it - it has some shiny stuff in it that gives it a textural look, but it's not too glittery for my taste. Mouse over any of the colors in the link for a close up to see what I mean. Dense visual interest in the yarn, dense crochet stitch pattern = good looking and warm!

This is the Reticulated Tank Top Shown in Universal Yarns Cotton Supreme - I envisioned it as a summer layering piece, but the lovely Julia at Patternfish just suggested I try one in something woolier so it isn't so seasonally dependent. So that's what I will do - stay tuned. This crochets up incredibly quickly, is worked in four pieces side to side, with a decorative join center front and back, and at both side seams. I have to go stash diving...
Next we have the Mutable Wrap! Shown in Universal Yarn Linen Tweed this oversized lacy crocheted shawl has two slit in the work - you can wear it as a vest, a wrap (as shown) or a poncho/capelet (which LL wants you to know was her idea, she came up with it during the photo shoot!) More photos on the pattern listing.

Going to Rhinebeck? Please come see me Sunday from 10 - 4 at the author area in building B - where the Gem and Mineral Show used to be.

Then at Stitches East, I will be signing books on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 - 1:30 with my good buddy Marci at The Elegant Ewe. Marci will also have Hooked for Life patterns for sale, and models to paw.

Yarn just arrived for a big magazine project that's due soon - I am off to search Hulu for great tv shows and to crochet my face off. See you all soon!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Putting my money where my mouth is...


I was complaining last week on the Getting Loopy blog about my classes at WEBS maybe being canceled – and yup, yesterday they were. Not enough sign ups to cover costs, which I get. But it was killing me to give up the opportunity to teach a new class. Sooooo….

I ran this by the fabulous Kathy Elkins and this is what we decided to do. I will teach a class FOR FREE on Friday October 2 from 10 – 12. It is a new class I have in development called Design it Yourself Crochet – here’s the blurb-

Join author and designer Mary Beth Temple for the free debut of her newest workshop – Design It Yourself Crochet. Even if they don’t want to design for publication, many crocheters want to design a project for themselves. While most are happy just doodling with their hooks until they get the results they want, doing just a little preparation ahead of time will make the whole process so much easier – while ensuring that you don’t run out of yarn OR patience!

Handout with class notes included. If you like, bring some sketches, swatches, pencil and paper and/or a calculator to play with.

This class is not free to Kathy and I to put on, but we will offer it to you for free. Why? Because I want crocheters to come to the store, just to prove that we are out there. Because I need the practice and some input on the new class. Because I would like to teach at WEBS later on and get paid for it, so this is sort of a free sample. Because I have books there to sell, so if you like the free class, you might buy a book. Because I have been rambling about including free things in my business plan, and this is a great experiment. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to you guys why we are being so generous, we just are!

So if you can make it, please come. I will sign books at the store Thursday evening October 1 if you just want to come by and say hello, and I will teach the FREE class on Friday morning from 10 – 12.

And help me spread the word – blog it, link it, tweet it – let’s get some cool crochet mojo happening!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Llama kisses :-)


This is Wisteria, New Jersey's tallest llama. She is a real sweetie and SO soft. Here she is sharing some quality time with her owner, whose name, sadly, I did not get. She is stooping down to reach him, she is THAT tall! That was at the Garden State Sheep Breeders' show a couple of weeks back. We had such a great time there - can hardly wait for next year!

Busy, busy as usual. Finished up a large editing project, blasting out some new patterns for Hooked for Life, doing the Getting Loopy podcast, and making some models for upcoming magazine and multi-author book projects. Come next spring, I will have stuff everywhere!

LL blew out her ankle - again - on Sunday. Not too terrible this time, but annoying nonetheless as it delays her training for the Irish dance regionals in November. Think maybe THIS time she will be more motivated to do her PT exercises? Me either!

Will post some pattern pictures later in the week as they become available, happy stitching meanwhile!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lexie Barnes storms Fashion Week with yarn !

With a tiny bit of help from yours truly. Ms. Lexie of the wonderful bags had an idea and she made it work. She wanted to show the denizens of NYC Fashion Week that knitting was cool. So she rented a suite at the Bryant Park Hotel, and offered to show media and model types alike how to knit an I cord bracelet. So I offered to help...

That's me, hanging out on the couch, starting up some wee I-cords with Cotton Classic from Tahki/Stacy Charles, so that anyone could pick up and knit a few stitches without having to learn how to cast on. Lexie figured (rightly as it turned out) that most people who dropped by were unable to spend too much time with us, so pre-started projects were the way to go.

Coffee, knitting, a comfy couch, natural light - it was a good day for me :-)

Lexie and I discussed getting some crochet in there too, but figured choices were bad. Since she had spent a bucket of cash on this (with a little help from Kickstarter.com), she and her PR savvy colleagues felt (and I agreed) that we had to get out one message and one message only, and that adding crochet might muddle the message a bit. Still...

I had my hooks with me and I couldn't resist the temptation :-) The PR folks were trying to do some yarny tie-backs for the hotel curtains and tying a full skein didn't look nice, but neither did one strand. "I can fix that for you" I cried and with my trusty H hook, I whomped out a dozen neat little chains to use. They looked great in the room, if I do say so myself.

That's one of Lexie's new fabrics visible in the first photo - not available until spring, but you get a teeny little sneak peek! I am sure Lexie will blog more about the event when she gets home (and gets a nap) but my two celebrity sightings were -

I shared an elevator with Jon Gosselin of Jon Plus or Minus Kate + 8 fame (or infamy). I had read in some periodical or other that he wanted something to do with the fashion world, and here he was - doing what (other than trying desperately not to make eye contact with strangers) I have no idea.

I also passed an actress I admire in the hallway outside of the Nintendo suite (where they were showing an incredibly cool fashion game for the DSi that even I would play!) - Reshma Shetty of Royal Pains. We did not interact, but I am delighted to report that she is as lovely and graceful in real life as she is on the show!

LL was miffed she didn't get to go - darn that going to school stuff always getting in the way!

I have been ranting about some crochet related things - check the Getting Loopy blog for that if you are so inclined.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Help! I am being eaten by a giant afghan!

OK, not really, but this is the only photo I had to share this week, and I hate to do posts without photos!

That is a giant afghan though - I can tell you just how big it is because I made every blessed stitch of it! Kitchen Sink afghan from DIY (Design It Yourself) Afghans.

Last weekend I tweeted my experiments in making chocolate martinis. Many of you who follow me there were amused - it wasn't nearly so amusing on my end because I was typing so poorly as the experiment progressed that editing was taking longer than typing!

End result? Delicious! And I found answers to the great chocolate martini questions of life - namely:

Where was the vodka hiding? In the freezer where it normally lives, but it was buried under 14 pounds of blueberries from our adventures in picking local produce. Found it eventually.

Can you in fact use a child's liquid cough syrup cap if you can't find a shot glass? Yes indeed you can, although your online friends will call you mean names like "sad" and "pathetic" But you know what? I believe in improvisation in mixology as well as crochet and knitting - and life, come to that. If you fill up to the 3 tsp line on the cough syrup cap, you have half a shot.

Did you really ruin the whole thing by using Skim Plus instead of Half and Half? See above on improvisation - having had to run to the store for both Godiva Liqueur and Creme De Cacao this was already turning into the world's most expensive chocolate martini, and I was damned if I was going to run out again. Skim Plus I had, Skim Plus I used. Worked fine, although maybe not as thick as it might have been.

Did Little Loopy mock you much? Yes - once when I poured the whole thing in a free-from-Burger-King Mickey Mouse glass from 2000 instead of digging out an actual martini glass. I am not big on delayed gratification.

And again when I commented on how very loopy I got from one drink - 3.5 shots of alcohol is a hell of a lot of booze in one glass for a light drinker like me.

How was your gauge afterwards? Loosey-goosey baby, but I didn't care! That's what blocking is for.

Will repeat the experiment again soon - maybe this Friday night, you never know...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pretty pretty picture

The day before the Chain Link conference in Buffalo, LL and I ditched and went up to see Niagara Falls. Neither of us had ever been before and we were both blown away by how beautiful it is.I snapped that photo from the Maid of the Mist tour boat - we got soaked, in a good way! The rest of the day included some shopping, some lunch at the Ontario Planet Hollywood (marred slightly perhaps by their complete lack of crocheted or knitted costume pieces :-), and some walking around seeing the sights. Fact that interested me the most? The fact that due to erosion and other natural forces, the Falls isn't exactly where it was years ago - it moves.

Others have blogged about the Chain Link conference - I don't have much to add other than I had a great time seeing old friends, and meeting some internet friends in real life.

Busy right now trying to get six new Hooked for Life patterns out by October 1st, helping some buddies edit their book, and sketching out the new booklet I just agreed to do for Leisure Arts. Back to school for LL next week - her supplies are all bought, her new clothes laid out. All I have to do is take her shoe shopping - we had the annual "LL wore flip flops all summer and we just now discovered that her feet grew a full size and nothing fits" tango. She needs at least one new pair of sneakers (preferably two - one for the gym locker) and some black flats to go with her nice new skirts. Later on some weather boots and the local uniform shoe of choice, Uggs! Then a winter coat.... sigh.... this growing thing is killing my budget!

Which is why I am off back to work.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Miss me?

Katy and I hit the Lion Brand podcast airwaves!

I know I should blog, I want to blog, I just don't have time to blog! Just now when my business is getting interesting enough to provide good blog fodder, is the time when if I stop to write about things they won't get done and the whole house of cards will fall apart!

That said - Katy and I had a great time at the Chain Link conference in Buffalo, then at a family vacation in Cape May. Now we are off to visit my mother for the weekend, all the while editing books and patterns, and fulfilling the mounting (yay!) wholesale orders for print patterns.

So we're here, we're happy, we're busy, and the blog is boring.

Click on the link above to hear the Lion Brand podcast, on which we were guests while in Buffalo. Pretty picture to follow, next week some time, I pinky promise!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sock Knitting Madness!

You all have GOT to go check out this blog post - Brian Kohler is knitting seven pairs of socks at one time. Genius or madness? You decide!

Skacel Blog!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

LL has some FOs!


Since I haven't been able to show you anything that I have finished lately, I thought I would share these two FOs belonging to Little Loopy! These are from the book Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet which LL and I both think is adorable. These two are now residing at Stix-n-Stitches in Montclair NJ - the store that commissioned them. I guess that means LL is now a contract crocheter!

More yarn came today for a magazine project, and I am busy swatching for a potential new booklet for next year. Will let you know all the details when I can.

Been busy booking summer guests for Getting Loopy - Susan Levin, Kathleen from Jelly Yarns, Kim Werker and the Krochet Kids International are all on the schedule - stay tuned!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fun and games at Lion Brand Studio!



Thanks to all the Getting Loopy listeners - in fact thanks to EVERYONE - who showed up!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Last of the TNNA photos

This was the final book signing at Unicorn books on Saturday afternoon - you can see the Goth Princess holding court at my right elbow.



I always panic that I will have a signing and no one will show up - that old what if you had a party and nobody came anxiety from the teenage years I suppose. Thankfully - we had a lot of folks come to the party...

Phew! And thanks to you all.

Saturday night I was able to catch up with some crochet buddies like Doris Chan, Ellen Gormley (who has some great news to share - go check it out), Vashti Braha and others.

Sunday was more of the same - a pattern signing at Universal Yarns, a few meetings with industry folks, followed by a wonderful dinner with the lovely Julia of Patternfish. Why yes, we did talk just as fast in person as we did on the podcast, why do you ask? :-)

Monday was one last meeting, a frantic run through the market to look at all the new yarns I hadn't had time to look at earlier in the weekend, a class on the Moebius cast on with the fabulous Cat Bordhi, and the mad dash as soon as the show was officially over to grab my floor models from Bryson, Mango Moon and PolarKnit. One last Jeni's ice cream, and then the loooooong drive home.

Want to see a quick video? Check me out here!

The week since then has been a pile of sorting, catching up, working on new to-do lists, and falling asleep at inappropriate times. Just think, In January, we get to do it all over again!

Friday, June 19, 2009

More TNNA

It's possible that blogging TNNA will take more hours than the actual weekend covered, but oh well. I can but try.

The first signing on Saturday was at the Leisure Arts booth for DIY Afghans They had three of the samples there - Dashing Diagonals in Cascade 220, Flying Geese in Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, and Checkerboard in Plymouth Encore. They also had the lovely Debra helping me out by playing with the CDROM on her laptop while I signed books. Note the also lovely Damask on my shoulders - I am nothing if not a promotional machine while I am working :-)

I was worried that no one would show up for the signing, but then some of my store owner friends showed me this -
A full page ad in the directory! Most of those friends (some with more love, some with less) pointed out that it might be time for a new head shot - the one I have been using since Secret Language of Knitters is a mite serious. In fact one store manager held the page in front of her face and said "I am Mary Beth and you will crochet the way I tell you to OR ELSE!!!!!" which was actually a lot more amusing in person than it might have seemed in print.

Speaking of signings... I have one in NYC at the Lion Brand Studio on July 9th at 6:00 PM. I will be reading, demonstrating stuff from the afghan book, and generally carrying on. Tickets are free but reservations need to be made ahead of time in the interest of not getting closed down by the fire marshall! Join me if you can - make your reservation here!

Poor LL has 4 more days of school - but the last big project is done and delivered, so amen. We both are waiting with bated breath for the days when we can turn off the alarm and sleep as late as we like!

More TNNA later - now I have to go get some editing and sketching done.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Almost, but not quite...

Back from TNNA and what a weekend it was! I don't have a whole lot of photos, partly because I was frazzled and rushed for most of the weekend, partly because cameras are frowned upon on the show floor, but I did manage to snap a few.

On Thursday I drove to Lancaster PA to pick up Middle Sister, and then we both went out to Columbus. She did most of the driving because I was frantically trying to finish crocheting a model to hang in someone's booth! It was Swirly Beret and yes I did get it finished - thanks for asking!

I had a class Friday morning with Sally Melville - she is a genius teacher and if you ever have a chance to take any of her classes, run don't walk to sign up. This one was Learning to Love Intarsia, and by goodness now I do.

Friday afternoon I ran into Marly and Amanda from Lorna's Laces, and Sharon of She-Knits fame, and we hung out for a brief and shining moment. Along came...



Marcy Smith, Getting Loopy podcast guest and editor of Interweave Crochet! She was carrying her pal WiMi who had to get into the photo.

I ran around the market floor placing my models where they belonged - I had pieces in Bryson, Unversal Yarn, PolarKnit, and Mango Moon - then ran to North Market for lunch and my first ever Jeni's ice cream. Columbus regulars have been tweeting about the goodness that is Jeni's for the last few weeks and I had to see what all the fuss was about. All I can say is yummmmmmm.

Friday night was teacher meet and greet - we were supposed to gather outside the fashion show and set up our classroom handouts, etc, at the spot where we saw our sign. I was happy to be sharing table space with teacher and designer extraordinaire Melissa Leapman, so I quick set up my things.

Apparently too quickly - another teacher came by and asked "Is that really the name of your company?" with a quizzical look on her face. "Yes" I said "Hooked for Life" People nearby started to giggle so I took a closer look at the sign...
Ah well - at least I will make money at the show one way or the other!

I fixed one side of it quickly with a black marker, but left the other side the way it was so I could flash it to my friends as they passed :-)

Then there was the fashion show, which was the usual - a few amazingly good pieces, some average stuff, and a couple of howlers that made you scratch your head and lament the loss of perfectly good yarn.

And then the Keep the Fleece party! Which was fun but chaotic, at least at the beginning. Cosmos and a chocolate fountain for dinner!

Anyway, more TNNA posting later, for now I have to start plowing through my to-do list!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Still packing....

Thank God I decided to drive instead of fly to Columbus for the TNNA show because with all the last minute stuff I have to drag along with me, my luggage charges would be higher than my airfare! Four suitcases and counting....

Anyway, I did promise to try to be a better blogger, but I am really under the gun trying to get to get the car packed so I can get out of here already! So some photos from the new patterns to keep you amused in my absence - This one is Oblique
And this one is Banded Wrap Cardigan - you saw the sleeves in the last post! NOW AVAILABLE - I wanted the fine folks at Mango Moon to play with it first because it's in their new yarn.
Back late late late Monday night - no Getting Loopy on June 15th!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Busy week already!

Tuesday afternoon was kind of suckish. I don't want to rant - well okay, I do want to rant, but in the interest of being a professional I won't - but I will never understand why adults can't just agree to disagree on occasion. There is room in this wild fibery world for more than one opinion on just about any subject, and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Except on copyright violation - that's always wrong :-)

Anyway I was pretty aggravated, so LL brought me this - some yummy chocolate cake with my initials on it in leftover birthday cake letters. I wanted to be a great mom and tell her that one couldn't solve one's problems with chocolate, that I would be better off taking some deep cleansing breaths and moving on with my life but you know what? I like chocolate cake, and it did improve my mood, even if it wasn't the healthiest way to do it. One more teachable moment shot to hell!Later in the evening I was a guest on Marly's YarnThing podcast and we had a hell of a lot of fun. YarnThing is in the Blog Talk Radio network like Getting Loopy, and it was fun to be on the other side of the microphone if you will. Plus I love me some Marly - she is a natural and healthy mood enhancer all by herself because she is always looking on the bright side of things. Go check it out!

Yesterday I came home to a whole box of these -



I wasn't going to blog about it until I had somewhere to send you to buy it if you so desired, but I just can't wait any more. I really love how this came out - 8 afghans made from various crocheted building blocks, plus a CDRom that you can put in your PC (sorry Mac users!) to make up and print out an afghan layout of your very own. It is shipping to stores now, and eventually will show up on the Leisure Arts web site! Please ask your LYS for it - and when they say that Leisure Arts booklets only use mass market yarns, you can point to the Mission Falls cotton and the Cascade 220 on the covers!

And I am also quite happy to show you my newest crochet pattern - Damask.

It is a small shoulder shawl made in Elann.com Pure Bamboo, and is silky, drapey and full of summer romance as all get out. I will be wearing it at TNNA on Saturday during my book signings.

Those of you with itchy trigger fingers might notice that that is a Patternfish link. The Hooked for Life web site is being upgraded as we speak, but with my increasing focus on the wholesale side of my pattern business, it seems like a more time efficient practice for me to hand off the download process to someone who specializes in it. Patternfish does a lovely job, and every hour that I am not fiddling with downloads is an hour I can be busy creating more products - or you know, sleeping. So Patternfish is now the official download source for all Hooked for Life patterns.

Speaking of patterns, I have several hundred more than need to be wrangled into sleeve protectors, so I am off.

PS - Another one of my students has sold her first pattern and I am almost as excited as she is! If you are interested in taking Designing for Print Publication in July or September, please email Sarah@GettingLoopy.com for more information.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Fun and games at BEA

Book Expo America was at the Javits Center in NYC over the weekend, so I took a break from the knitting on Friday and went to look at books.

Lots and lots and lots of books! I had never been before and a lot of people I know in the publishing industry said it was smaller than last year, but I couldn't believe all the publishers and printers and PR folks and authors who were there.

Two books in particular I was maybe looking for...


And there they were! In the Andrews McMeel booth, just where I was hoping they would be. I got to meet my publicist from AMP up close and personal for the first time, so that was a lot of fun. And I got some quality time with my agent, whose office is four hours away from mine, so that was good too.

I of course want to bask in the glow of Hooked for Life and DIY Afghans both being finished and just starting to make their way into the world - everyone I spoke to Friday wants to know what book I am doing next! I guess I have to do some pondering on that topic, but not until after I get back from TNNA.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

So it's been a while

Greetings from Chez Health Issues.

I was ill for a while, went in the hospital for a few days, got better, got sick again, then LL got sick, then LL's Dad, and then the dog.

It's been an exciting couple of weeks! But everyone is all better now.

This is what I have been working on when I could -
So Inclined, a new knit pattern which will also be the basis of a knitting class I am now offering to a LYS near you!

Spike, a crochet pattern.

And this poor nameless sweater that I have been complaining about on Twitter for the last few days. They are never ending because I am in a hurry to get it done so I can mop up everything else I need to do before I leave for TNNA in two weeks. Lovely yarn though, yes? Brand new from Mango Moon, it's called Bulu, and will be available at a store near you in the coming months. Love the way the colors blend, it's a real semi-solid.

LL's dance suspension is almost up - six months was a loooooong time. She goes back to competition on Sunday June 7th and we are all hoping for hardware after her long absence, so please hold a good thought in your head for her in the next week or two.

Been busy designing more stuff, writing more books, taping more podcasts, and avoiding cleaning the house. Mostly successful at that last one.

Anyway - an update so you know I am still here, and I will try to blog more faithfully in the coming weeks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Soooo....

Last week was an odd combination of highs and lows. After the podcast Monday night I was feeling a little bit ill - might have had something to do with the Ben and Jerry's I had afterwards, or so I thought. Turns out my ulcerative colitis was gathering up a head of steam to kick my ass. Things went downhill pretty quickly...

so I spent Tuesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon in the hospital getting fluids and many unfortunate tests. The good news is, as much as I dislike having UC, it beats the crap out of the many other nasty diseases it could have been (and isn't). For this I am thankful. Seriously.

I nagged the doctor into letting me out so I could attend the ASJA conference (that's American Society of Journalists and Authors) on Friday and Saturday. I always love going to the conference, but this year was special because I got to speak on a panel discussion about Profiting from your Writing Passion. I had a really great time and got some nice feedback. Friday afternoon was editor meetings, and I managed to get through most of Saturday's workshops as well.

Saturday night, LL did a big dance fundraiser with her new dance school and it was a whole lot of fun- although we didn't get home until 1:00 AM! She danced in four different numbers and had a blast - all the fun of performing with none of the ups and downs of competition. Middle Sister came too so she could watch.

Now I am exhausted! But not awfully sickly, just way worn down. Finishing up knitting two sweaters, trying to catch up with everything that didn't get done last week when I was ill. Mostly sitting on the couch full time - knitting or crocheting, or writing, or emailing. Cinderella Puppy is happy I am home and keeps coming over to check up on me, which is cute.

So two more things - I am teaching my Designing for Print Publication online class again - this time on Yahoo Groups so I can have knitters as well as crocheters. Check it out here.

And for today's high? I admit to going through phases of checking out my books' sales rank on Amazon.com way more often than might be considered necesary by a more normal person, but with Hooked for Life being new to the market, I have succumbed to the lure of the rankings. It has spent a whole lot of time on the top 100 crochet books list, which of course pleases me greatly - thanks to all of you who shopped or bought the book there already. But when the ranking is particularly high, I turn up on the top 100 essay books list - which makes me feel a lot like a grown-up writer - a feeling I don't always have. So today was one of those days when I was on the essay book list.

I now share my dementia - I clicked over to see the whole list of top essay books today to see the kind of company I was keeping, if only for a brief and shining moment. Joan Didion was one title above me, Kurt Vonnegut one title below. I can die happy now!

Speaking of books - if you are the mother or special adult in the life of a tween or teen girl, I highly recommend this one -



I met the author over the weekend and enjoyed her immensely.

Back to the knitting...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Even I got tired of talking!

This is where I spent last Tuesday...Reading The Secret Language of Knitters aloud so there will be a brand new audio book available in July from Knitting Out Loud. I admit that I enjoy talking, as any of you who know me in real life or listen to the podcast know. But even I was ready to be quiet for a while after reading with proper diction and some attempt at intonation for four straight hours. Phew!

All done though - back to planning events for Hooked for Life: Adventures of a Crochet Zealot. Which has been in the top 100 crochet books on Amazon for most of last week. Not that I am happy about that or anything....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A little belated Easter frivolity!

Can you tell LL is a knitter and crocheter? She didn't want a chocolate bunny in her basket, she wanted a chocolate sheep! Can you tell we were at her grandmother's house? note that all the photos behind the basket are of LL :-)
And the annual bunny cake she makes with Middle Sister. This year LL did the cutting herself - all those hours of watching Ace of Cakes is finally paying off!
Got the taxes done - AMEN! And am now trying to figure out what the most productive use of my time is today. I suspect it isn't going to open knitting at the LYS, but I might do that anyway...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Help, the wool, it is taking over!

It all began with a phone call. I gave a talk when Secret Language of Knitters came out, and someone in the audience said her daughter threw out sheep fleece because she didn't know what to do with it. When I reacted in horror, the listener took my card and said she would pass on the info. Almost two years later I got a call saying if I could get to the farm in question, I could pick up some wool. So off we went!

This is what we came home with...



Yes sir, yes sir, FIVE bags full. Suffolk wool for those of you who are keeping score at home.

While I spin, I had never actually processed a whole sheep fleece and wasn't entirely sure what I was doing, so I began with a large handful and the kitchen sink.
These fleeces aren't particularly neat or clean and they have a very long staple length (6" plus!) So it has taken many many tubs of water to get them reasonably clean. After they are washed they sit in the sun for a while, but during a damp weekend I plonked a bunch on top of the heater so it would dry...
Then I picked through the dry fleece one more time - getting rid of whatever nasty bits I can lay my hands on. We wind up with a giant pile of puffiness - thusly...

Since a lot of this was two year growth I have to assume that yellow stripe ain't coming out for nothing. I thought it was lanolin but it isn't greasy feeling at all anymore, so now I don't really know what it is. It will add character to the final product though, so I am not stressing about it.

No matter how much fleece I pull out of the garbage bags, they don't seem to be getting any emptier. This could be a problem...

I was going to send the scoured fleece out to be carded, but the staple length is too long for the company I wanted to use. Now on the hunt for a drum carder to rent or borrow.

Next I need to learn how to dye some of this stuff. I have done Koolaid and frosting dyes with LL, and I have some Jacquard dyes lying around, but I have never dyed fleece so I don't know how to do it. Dye it now or after it is carded? Or even after it's yarn? Input welcome...

Monday, April 06, 2009

The book, she is here!

Here she is - my newest wordy baby! Available at fine yarn or book stores near you starting on or about April 21st, 2009.

We at Chez Alpaca had a very busy weekend - my parents, sibs, LL, nieces, nephews and assorted grands gathered at my favorite place in the whole wide world, Cape May New Jersey, and had a loud, alcohol, carb, fat, and sugar fueled celebration of my parents' 65th wedding anniversary. That is not a typo - they have been married for 65 years come the 15th of the month. Can you imagine?

And for those of you trying to do the math, yes I am their youngest :-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A few new goodies on H4L

Rosado by Kim Kotary

and Surge by yours truly

Both are crocheted.

LL and I have been stuck in Irish Dance hell this past week because of St. Patrick's Day. Show after show after class after show. One more show tonight, then the Pearl River (NY) St. Patrick's Day parade tomorrow.

I got a phone call asking if I wanted a large pile of recently shorn Suffolk sheep wool. Do I? I don't know squat about Suffolks, but will certainly go find out!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

High Tech Procrastination

When I should have been blogging I succumbed to peer pressure and signed up over at Twitter. I am @Hooked4Life if any of you are interested.

Now that I should be swatching, I am blogging instead. My new theory is that maybe I should deliberately focus on something other than what I should be doing so the thing I need to be doing gets done. Need to swatch? Tell myself I have to write. Need to blog? Tell myself I should be upgrading the web site. Although that might make my to-do lists even more confused than they already are!

Saw the photos for DIY (Design it Yourself) Afghans which is coming out from Leisure Arts in late May if we are lucky, early June if production is slow. I can't wait to share them all with you, but it's still too early.

Busy this week with LL's step dancing - show today, school demo Tuesday, shows Tuesday and Wednesday, parade next Sunday. Everyone's Irish around St. Patrick's Day I guess, although I still think green beer is an abomination.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Afghans R Us

Remember when the afghan book was finished and I said I didn't want to make any more afghans at all ever?
Apparently I lied, if only to myself! Princess Cinderella Puppy is show above, trying to bogart my most recent creation. Called Framework, it will be available on Hooked for Life just as soon as I get my act together to get the new web page for it put up.

And this one should be titled "What I did on my Christmas vacation" because this is one of three I banged out between December 15th and January 15th. The other two will be out soon in a book, but this one is now available free courtesy of the fine folks at Premier Yarns! Circles in Rectangles Afghan I am quite fond of this pattern if I do say so myself, the rectangular motifs are quick and easy, changing colors all the time keeps you from getting bored, and assembly was very easy. Please check it out!

Kind of scattered at the moment, finishing up two magazine articles, trying to do some magazine submissions which I haven't done in forever, and getting my fall/winter grouping ready for Hooked for Life. But today I am going to sod off and run into NYC to have lunch with a friend. Every hardworking designer/writer/podcaster needs a day off every now and again.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lookie what I made!

Yum, Corriedale singles....Yes I have succumbed to the lure of the spinning wheel even though I have more pressing matters at hand. I haven't had it out since before Christmas, and when the following came in the mail....
What could I do but spin? And spin....and spin... thank God it is only 3 ounces. This is a luscious Corriedale batt from Zarzuela's Fibers. This is my first experience with a batt and I am loving it - and the color does such gorgeous things I can't get over it. Ms. J is a genius if my spinning looks this good!

Lookie what else I made!

The new book is in my hands, sort of. This is the galley set - all the pages laid out in order as they will be in the book, but not bound yet. I get one last read through to see if there are any small changes I need to make - typos and the like. Trying not to re-write the whole thing as it's a little late in the game for that. This is the third time I have done edits on this book - and by the time I read anything I have written straight through a bunch of times I hate it all Always. And then a few weeks go by and I like it again - about the time I have to started doing readings and signings. But here is the firsty first peek - just for you guys.

LL has strep - again. They decided to go with the serious anti-biotics this time. Apparently they are so serious that the cost about ten times what the last round did! I almost had a heart attack at the drug store. Luckily LL is off from school next week so she can zone out and rest. Thank God she likes to crochet now so can keep herself amused while camped out on the couch!