Thursday, July 31, 2014

Traveling, Interviews, Book Signings, and Classes This Week!

What an amazing couple of weeks I have had! I hope to blog about more of the details of my trip to Manchester, NH for the Knit and Crochet Show last week, but I am still recovering from the lack of sleep and time change (and lamely forgot to take any pics).

My Reversible Intarsia Make'n'Take at the Knit and Crochet Show
Photo ©Crochet Guild of America (via Facebook)
"Let me sum up..." 5 exhilarating days. 8 awesome classes. 2 exciting book signings. 1 well attended make'n'take I taught on Reversible Intarsia (above). And I still managed to visit at least a little with nearly all of the friends I wanted to see, and make several new ones. The best part of these shows is getting to know fellow designers, especially those whose books I have on my shelves. I'd met each of these awesome ladies once before, but we really got to hang out during the Saturday night banquet celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the CGOA.
Me with Linda Permann and Shelby Allaho
(Shelby's hubby took this pic for us)
Now I'm back home, and this morning I had my first online interview on Planet Purl (you can listen to the whole interview here). I have to admit I was really nervous! But once we got chatting, Beth Moriarty made me so comfortable, it was easy. Although it probably helped that when we did our sound check yesterday I told her, "We'll be talking about me tomorrow, so tell me how you got into this business?", and proceeded to pretty much interview her (without anyone listening of course).

Next up, re-packing samples for my next big book event a Nitroknitters in Beaverton Oregon this Saturday. I will be hanging out at the shop with my full trunk show (all 10 blankets from the book), teaching classes, signing books, and doing demos from 10am until 5pm. Please check my Book Tour and Classes Page for all the details!

There are still a few spots for the classes on my "Forget-me-Knot" Shawl and Basic Intro to Reversible Intarsia (which will be the same as the make-n-take I taught last week, a coaster-sized version of the 1st square in my book Reversible Color Crochet). Or just come by for one of the book signings. If I can get the recipe from my friend who made the DELICIOUS Cinnamon "Breakfast Bundt Cake" for my book launch party, I'll bring one of those to share with anyone who comes out for the morning book signing! Hope to see you then!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Tour, Traveling, and Raffle Sponsors!

I had planned to start reviewing all of the products donated by my awesome raffle sponsors for my book during my "Month of Blogging" leading up to the book release. I was sure I would run out of things to talk about related to the book during 30+ days of blogging. But I constantly surprised myself, with something new to say each day about the projects and making of the book. Then my computer died last week, and I am limited to computer time on my sister's old laptop for at least a couple of weeks.

I have to admit, I am enjoying a little respite from the daily blogging of last month, as I prepared for my Book Launch Party (last weekend, pics coming soon), my Son's 9th Birthday Party (in just 2 days!), and heading off for the Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester (NH not England, I've confused a few people). Not only am I taking a full schedule of classes this year, I am doing TWO book signings (at The Elegant Ewe booth #600), I am even doing a Reversible Intarsia Make'N'Take on Friday at lunch time. Check out my Calendar Page here for details. 

I have so much I want to blog about, but so little time (my hubby's out of town this week too!). So in the meantime, please check out the links below to my Blog Tour Raffle Sponsors who generously donated items for raffles at each of my Local Yarn Store Book Signing events over the next few months! They were a hit at the Book Launch Party last weekend. Click on their logos below, and I'll post about each one in the coming weeks!

Custom A-D Lettered Stitch Markers

Kitty and Doggie Snips (mini scissors) and Crochet Hooks

 Yarn Cozies, Stitch Lights, and Snappy Bags

 Wrapture Wool and Delicates Wash by Kristin Omdahl

Yarn Pop Mini Bags

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 32: The Game's Afoot

The Game's Afoot
This was my last afghan I was still finishing the night before I had to ship the rest of my samples to Interweave (on the way to the airport for TNNA in June 2013). I had planned to make one more row of squares for a total of 20 squares (which would have shown off the pattern even better). But when my contractor did not work out, I simply ran out of time and decided 16 squares had to be enough. At least it is the perfect size for a lapghan!
Found this inspiration pic on The Quilter Magazine website
The quilt that originally inspired this design had the same repeated colors in each of the squares over and over. I replaced the colorful box blocks with the Nine Patch Square, and alternated the colors in those squares. But it was my friend (and end weaver) Carissa who saw me laying out the sample squares and suggested that the “cards” in each Card Trick square should match the colors of the nine-patch square they were pointing to. The pattern within a pattern created by this small change really brought the design together.
A funny story about the title for this one, when I was at TNNA a couple of months ago, Sara Wilson (aka The Sexy Knitter) invited my roommate (Angelia Robinson) and I to go see a play with her one night. She didn't remember the name, just that is was a murder mystery. When we walked up to the theater, I could not believe that the play was called, "The Game's Afoot" just like the blanket in the book I was at TNNA to promote!

It seemed like it was meant to be for me to end up at that theater. They even mention that the name comes from Shakespeare's King Henry the V, which is where I got the name from. I looked for a quote that included the word "card" or "game" and settled on the one that starts off: "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.."

And as I wind up the last of my posts about the projects in Reversible Color Crochet, and ponder what my next big project will be, this quote seems particularly appropriate. I cannot believe I made it 32 days without missing a day. I will continue blogging about the book, events, and a lot more. But perhaps not every day (though I already have them planned for the rest of this week, so who knows).

Monday, July 7, 2014

Day 31: Getting It All Done

Once I had settled on the basic afghan designs and decided on yarn and colors for each of them, I spent the next 4 months crocheting nearly non-stop. I am blessed to have an awesome support system of family, and friends with kids my daughter's age (most of whom are pretty creative themselves and don't mind me crocheting anytime we hangout).

Because Reversible Intarsia is such a new technique, when I started writing Reversible Color Crochet I did not have any contractors who could help me make the actual samples. So, I made the TEN afghans in the book, plus 28 individual squares, all myself.
 
These days I have quite a few trusted contractors I am able to hire to help me with many of the pattern samples I need to make for yarn companies and magazines. But the one contractor I tried to train and hire on to make squares for just one of the blanket projects missed a couple key details about the technique and I ended up remaking all those squares.

On the other hand, her mistakes were just what I needed to photograph for the illustrator to show examples of what the wrong way looks like in the Trouble Shooting Section at back on the book! I wanted to be sure to include examples of common mistakes and how to fix them.

At some point I realized that while I might be able to get all of the crocheting done by my deadline, weaving in ends on that much colorwork was more than I would be able to do myself. Fortunately, I was able to hire my good friend Carissa (who happens to live one block away) to weave in most of the ends for me, or I would not have been able to get them all completed in the time I had.

Because she was so close by, I was able to sit down with her and teach her how I would do it. She mastered all the tips and tricks I use for Weaving In Ends (also included in the Yarn Management section at the back of the book). She is now a marvelous "Finisher" and so convenient!

As the deadline was looming another friend's mom, Judith, spent several days and late nights steaming squares and seaming strips together while I finished edgings on the various afghans. I could not have done it without both of these lovely ladies!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 30: Shines So Bright

Shines So Bright Afghan
PETRUCHIO: I say it is the moon that shines so bright.
KATHARINA: I know it is the sun that shines so bright.
This is one of my favorite Shakespeare inspired names. I looked for quotes with the words sun and moon, and this one from The Taming of The Shrew was perfect. I did theater for many years. My grandmother ran a Junior Theater from the time I was in the 3rd grade and always got to play the interesting "character" roles.

When I was in high school, the first monologue I memorized and performed was also from The Taming of The Shrew, also from Kate, " Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow, And dart not scornful glances from those eyes..." (I always loved practicing my British accent). The one literature class I took in college was on Shakespeare. So I had a whole semester to study all his plays, but this one remains one of my favorites.

As I mentioned in my post about making community afghans, this one was inspired by a blanket made for a new baby by a group of knitters in one of my yarn fiction novels. Worked in a worsted weight yarn, this one could be done with 4 picture squares and 8 solids squares (made by less adventurous crocheters).

My original idea for this one was to make solid squares sewn together between the Moons and Suns. But the Lion Brand Baby's First yarn I used was bulky enough that the individual picture squares turned out quite large. So rather than individual squares, I chose to stitch the four picture squares together without very much seaming, joining as you go.
 
For more information on Reversible Color Crochet, see: http://www.interweavestore.com/reversible-color-croc...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Day 29: Book Launch Party Next Week!

 
Just one week until my Book Launch Party at Twisted in Portland. Join me on July 12th from 2-4pm to celebrate the release of my new book Reversible Color Crochet. Come see a Trunk Show of all the Sample Afghans from the book, so you can see them up close and personal (and see that they really are the same on both sides!)

I will be there to sign your copies of my book (I even told me Dad he has to come to the Launch Party to get his book signed). Twisted will have copies available for purchase of both my new book and my first book. And there will be yummy (mostly homemade) goodies to nibble, including my Dad's "famous" Cowboy Cookies (chocolate chip & oatmeal).

Just for coming you will be entered in a raffle to win various items that have been donated by a number of wonderful sponsors (who I'll be posting about over the next couple of weeks). All raffle items are ones I found useful when working the Reversible Intarsia technique in my book, including Yarn Cozies, Mini Scissors, Wool Wash, Project Bags, and Custom Stitch Markers (A-D to mark your color balls).

There will also be a 1 hour Introductory Class starting at 1pm to introduce you to the most basic change to your color changes that makes your stitches reversible when working this technique. Space is limited, so call Twisted today to reserve your spot!

This is just the first stop of my Book Tour over the next several months. Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 28: Nine Lives

When I began looking for quilt patterns using the blocks I had developed, my quilter friend had sketched out this quilt pattern, using the "Snails Trail" block for the four cat tails, 4 solid blocks, and 4 cat heads with collars. 

Another pic I cannot find the source of, let me know if it's yours!

 
I scoured the internet for this pattern and above is the only example of this particular layout that I could find. The more common "Four Cats" quilt (below) uses a special block for the whole body and head of the cat, but we did not want to add a 29th intarsia block just for the cat, and I prefer the simplicity of this layout. 

Originally I wanted to call this blanket "The Cat Lady's Blanket" for my friend Stephanie Thompson. I first met Stephanie at a Crochet For Cats program she was running at a local used bookstore, making small blankets to donate to the Vancouver Humane Society. She uses the blankets not only to bring comfort to cats, but to encourage kids to read more through the Read Me A Blanket reading program with Kazoodles, a locally owned toy store. A few years ago, we made a bunch of little cat blankets for her project, which is still going strong (though she could use help making blankets to match all the books kids are reading, if you have a little time and yarn).
Flat shot of the whole blanket so you can see the 4 cats.
When I started looking for names from Shakespearean quotes, I was surprised to discover that the phrase "Nine Lives" actually comes from Shakespeare. Who knew! Doesn't everything come from Shakespeare?


Then, during the months I spent working on Reversible Color Crochet, all three of my elderly cats passed away, so I dedicated this one to their memory. The first was Jerry, who sat beside me as I began swatching the squares for the book, but passed away in the spring. Cinnamon, my studio cat, guarded the many boxes of yarn that arrived week after week, but did not make it through the summer. 

Can you see the edge of Outrageous Fortune? I tried to keep
kitty fur out of my work, but had to let her sit where she wanted.
Finally my little Kidget, who I had for the longest, was so lonely without her buddies that she took up residence on the arm of my overstuffed chair, or my lap when I let her, watching over each stitch as I worked. She almost made it to 20 years old, but passed last year on August 9th (the day before Rowan's birthday/anniversary). I am glad this book gave me the chance to just sit and crochet with them for hours in their last few months.