Thursday, December 23, 2010

Giving in 2011

As the new year approaches my mind can't help but think of resolutions. I'm not into new year resolutions, but it's a good excuse to announce a small change in how I'm going to do things in the coming year.

Starting with January 1st, 10% of all my sales will go to Compassion International's Child Survival Program. That's 10% of the total cost of the pattern. I'm not taking it out after expenses, but before.  So 40¢ of a $4 pattern and 60¢ of a $6 pattern will go to the Child Survival Program.


I've always felt that the name, Child Survival Program, is a little deceptive. While it was started in order to help babies (starting in the womb) get what they need to not only survive but thrive, what it really does is help their moms and that helps the kids. I could give you a description and explanation, but their web site does it so much better.


I believe in giving and have a special place in my heart for those in extreme poverty (living on less than $2 a day) with no resources to escape that poverty. So I'm extending my giving into this part of my life. Help me give more to those who offer help and resources for women and their children in extreme poverty. I've seen the program at work in Uganda (one of many around the world) and it works. It really does work.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Rush

When I think of the Christmas rush it's about avoiding the rush at the mall and rushing to finish my handmade projects. Christmas is only 3 days away and I'm still working on them! Aak!

This year my husband and I are striving to (as much as possible) do a handmade Christmas. It has made it easier on our money budget since we're stash busting and only purchasing small things we might need here and there for missing project parts. But the time budget is a little strained.

My husband is a silversmith, so he's spent a lot of time at his jeweler's bench. He's made great progress on his gifts since he got a early start and keeps plugging away at it. A few ladies are going to be very happy when they open their gifts this year.

I have been trying to focus my crochet energy on several projects and finding it hard. I've chosen simple patterns to accomplish my Christmas list goals and that can get boring. I've been doing so much designing that it's getting hard to follow a pattern anymore.

However, I hope my nieces are pleased with their matching leg warmers. One pair is finished and one pair is in process. I used acrylic since it makes them very durable and very easy for their moms to clean. I also made sure to ask their moms for custom measurements since both of the girls are VERY tall for their ages. 2 pairs of extra, extra long legwarmers coming right up.


I've made a hat for Grandma. She's over 90 years old and so it's hard to know what to get for her. She doesn't need or want much. So, we'll see what she thinks. Worse case scenario...a littlest niece gets a new hat. I've used acrylic for this one, too, and I have a couple of reasons.
1. If Grandma likes it, she's not going to want to deal with special care instructions. She reserves the right to have no patience for that at her age.
2. If Grandma doesn't like it, my littlest niece will probably end up with it and acrylic will be easier for her mom to care for.


For Mom I've been working on something that I can't show a picture of since she might see this. However, I will show you the yarn I'm using for it and that I dyed with Kool-aid. It's alpaca hand-spun by my aunt and given to Mom for her birthday. Mom's arthritis prevents her from doing as much needle work as she used to, so I thought I'd help her out.


For my husband, I've made a hat from Alpaca yarn I purchase. I'm afraid I was getting quite bored with the single-crochet-only pattern, so I spiced it up a bit with some post stitches in a pattern to add interest and texture. It's amazing how fast those last 2 inches seemed to go in comparison with the previous 2 inches.


For those who have made it this far...Merry Christmas! And I hope your all your hand made holiday gifts are wonderfully successful.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Slow Cloth and Handmade

In honor of the approaching holidays where many of us are planning on giving gifts that we have handmade for our loved ones I wanted to share some great links.

The first is about Slow Cloth. It's a long article, but please take the time to read it. It talks about what slow cloth is and the benefits of it. This is how my parents raised me, to value the handmade to do it with excellence and love. I like to think it has enriched my entire life as a result.

Hand Eye Magazine: Slow Cloth

Even if you tend to hand make things yourself, you can also commit to buying handmade here on this site. By buying handmade you support the slow cloth movement with your pocket book. You also further enrich yourself and others with gifts that are higher quality than machine made as well as being 100% unique.

Buy Handmade - I pledge to buy handmade for myself and my loved ones, and request that others do the same for me.

A great place on-line for inspiration in all categories of handmade is Etsy. And if you haven't been there, what are you waiting for? It's also a great place to buy handmade if you don't live in an area with artist, artisan, and craft sales and galleries. It's a great place to buy handmade even if you do.

Etsy - Your place to buy and sell all things handmade, vintage, and supply

There are a lot of wonderful designers who post their patterns and yarn on their own web sites and places like Ravelry and Patternfish.

Finally, don't forget to look at what I have to offer (see the pattern links in the right side bar) and continue to come back for regular updates.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Local Yarn Shops: Green Valley Weavers and Knitters

The yarn shop that I probably visit the most is Green Valley Weavers and Knitters. It the most convenient to where I live and hosts the spinning group I'm part o. It's also got an excellent selection of all sorts of fiberliscious stuff.


Coming in the front door you are immediately met with a bounty of yarniness.



There is a large selection of all styles of yarn and fiber combinations and it doesn't stop at the yarns for knitting or crocheting. As their name implies they have a room with shelves full of cones for weaving.


There are also spinning wheels, dyes, and fibers for spinning along with the usual knit and crochet tools, books, and magazines.


So stop on in and pay them a visit the next time you're in Colorado Springs.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Local Yarn Shops: Starting with Table Rock Llamas

Since I've talked about yarn shops I've visited on recent trips, I thought it might be good to tell you about the great yarn shops in my neighborhood. There are several, although I primarily frequent two.

I'll start with Table Rock Llamas in Black Forest, Colorado.


This shop has a variety to offer just about anyone. The main building houses most of their yarns and when visiting you have to take your time and poke into every nook and cranny. It's full of a wide array of yarny awesomeness.


Then you have to go out the back door, across the deck to the back building.


This is where they have all their classes and house the fibers for spinning, dyes, books, looms, swifts....


One of the things I appreciate about all the local yarn shops is that they are very definitely crochet friendly.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

LoDo Scarf

I'm offering a new pattern for FREE on Ravelry called LoDo Scarf.
download now


 The ruffled edges and soft fluffy yarn of this scarf give it a sophisticated and feminine look ideal for gallery hopping and a dinner date in Denver’s historic LoDo district.


Crochet Symbols Chart Included

    Yarn: Any sport-weight yarn, approximately 560 yards. 
Model shown in Kraemer Yarns Fountain Hill Brushed Mohair, 
80% Acrylic, 20% Mohair (3.5 oz/560 yds per skein), color: Quiet.
    Supplies: Size G-6 (4 mm) crochet hook and yarn needle
Finished Dimensions: Approximately 6” (15.25 cm) wide
and 62” (157.5 cm) long.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monte Vista Collar In Knit Circus Magazine

I'm so excited to announce that my Monte Vista Collar is going to be published in the Winter issue of Knit Circus Magazine due out this Wednesday.


It's a button up cowl made from Classic Elite's Inca Alpaca yarn. The pattern comes with crochet symbol diagrams.

I'm honored to be part of the first issue of Knit Circus to include crochet patterns.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It Was a Good Day to Dye

I couldn't resist the Halloween humor, but it really was a good day to dye. The sun was out, the weather was warmer than it had been and I was able to spend some time with new friends.

I recently joined the Front Range Fiber Artisans, a group of people who work with fiber in one way or another. Knitting, crochet, weaving, embroidery, sewing, quilting, paper arts, etc.

A couple of months ago we got together on a couple of evenings to use knitting machines to knit "blanks." I knitted up about 400 yards of some of my handspun alpaca in a natural white.


Then we got together today to dye them.

The woman who hosted had dyes mixed up in bottles ready to go as well as a couple of tables. Another member of our group showed up with the steamers (giant ones she got at the local Asian market), a couple more tables, and commercial sized rolls of plastic wrap.


We laid out our blanks (soaked in water and acidic wash) and, using syringes and brushes, applied the dyes. When we had finished coloring, we wrapped each piece like a tortilla in plastic wrap and placed them in the steamer for an hour.


After pulling them out of the steamer we let them cool down, unwrapped them, rinsed out the excess dye, and squeezed out all the excess water.

This is what mine looked like after it was unwrapped. I had painted on random stripes of blue, purple, and green. In the steamer the edges blended together causing the colors to transition softly.

I took it home and unraveled the knitting when it was dry enough. A little kinky, but the colors are beautiful.

Now, what to make with it.


When I got home, my creative engine was still rev-ed up, so I decided to break out the kool-aid. I had a blast.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Coming Soon Sneek Peek

I'm working hard to get some new patterns out. I really am. I promise.

Here's a sneak peek of one.


Isn't that luscious? I can't wait to get it done.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Santa Fe and Taos: Yarn Shops and the Taos Wool Festival

My husband and I love to visit New Mexico and so we spent last weekend in Santa Fe at a book fair and in Taos at the Taos Wool Festival.

Wherever I go, I like to check out the local yarn shops and I now have a favorite in Santa Fe. It's called Tutto and it's a gem.

I first visited this shop last July. It's a cozy shop full of beautiful colors, a variety of fibers and textures, and with enough stock to purchase enough of one yarn for an entire project. Last time it was full of people there for a class. But this time it was quiet so I was able to look around in a more leisurely fashion.

One of the distinguishing features of this LYS is the button selection. WOW! If you need a special button, this is the place to go. I was also delighted to find some great yarn brands that I've not seen at the other LYS that I have visited.

An new favorite in Taos is another find from last July called Red Willow Arts and Fiber in Rancho de Taos. It's a new shop off the plaza that surrounds the San Francisco de Assis church made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe painting of the back of it.

The owner has a great selection of fibers for spinning and yarns created by the local Taos Valley Wool Mill. The fibers available include Blue Face Leicester, Churro, Alpaca, Mohair, Silk, and Milk. This visit I gave in to her suggestion to try the milk fiber in a beautiful Hawaiian blue as well as some black alpaca/silk.

Sunday morning found us at the Taos Wool Festival in Kit Carson Park and it was a beautiful day for it. There were even more vendor tents than last year and so more variety to choose from.

Taos is always a great festival for finding great yarn, fibers, dyed goods, woven products, knitted and crocheted products, and great community. I've never had a chance to take classes but have heard good reviews.

An added bonus (in my opinion) is that all the vendors are all from New Mexico, Colorado, or Texas and their fiber/animals must be raised in the same. It's all designed to promote and support the area fiber industry.

My particular goal was to find something really unique and so I was pleased to find some Paco-Vicuña fiber to spin. Pricey, but I've been wanting to try it since reading about it in SpinOff Magazine. The vendor I purchased it from was Indian Hills Handwovens from Salida, Colorado.

My last fiber stop for the weekend was La Lana Wools. I've been visiting them for several years and when I walked in this time I noticed that they have made a lot of changes. When there, I tend to look for unique things I won't find anywhere else. This time I found some beautiful reeled silk in dark green and silver. They carry an interesting selection of wool yarn and also offer fiber for spinning, although the selection wasn't as big as it has been in the past. They also carry natural dye material in bulk for those without dye gardens.

All said, it was a fast but satisfying weekend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Redirection

I was planning on releasing a new pattern to you this month. However, I've been redirected in my efforts.

At the suggestion of a friend, I submitted both of my most recent designs for consideration by KnitCircus. One will be coming out in their November issue as the first crochet pattern they have offered. The other is being held over to possibly be included in their February issue.

Please go check out my Monte Vista Collar made from scrumptious Classic Elite Inca Alpaca at the KnitCircus web site or my listings on Ravelry. I'll post photos and direct links on November 1st.

So I'm frantically crocheting away and trying to figure out how to get another pattern done and available to you here at Unyunga as soon as I can.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Visiting Loopy Knit Crochet in Missoula, Montana

On the way to a week of vacation in Glacier National Park I stopped in Missoula, Montana at an LYS called Loopy Knit/Crochet which is located down town at 115 W. Front Street.


My first impression from the outside was a nice, traditional, historic commercial building. Stepping inside, however, I found myself in a contemporary, nicely arranged, fiber wonderland.


I LOVE bright colors and so was delighted to see that they have a broad range of colors in all the types of yarn they carry. I was also happy to see that they carry a wide range of fibers other than sheep wool. Being allergic to wool, it's always nice to have a wide selection available in an LYS.

The back of the store is spacious and has a large table in the middle of it for stitchers to gather and work together for classes or just camaradarie. As you can see, there were a few ladies there that morning working on projects.


The staff were very friendly with just enough attention to let me browse but ready to answer questions or assist if I needed it.

I highly recommend a visit to Loopy Knit/Crochet if you happen to be in Missoula.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creative Incubation

Sometimes I have to spend time in creative incubation. It's that time when I'm tired of making and I've run out of ideas.

It doesn't mean I don't have any more good ideas or that I can't still make. What it does mean is that I need to stop and rest awhile, seek out beautiful things, and just be.

Creative incubation is a very necessary part of being able to continue creating beautiful things. Think of creativity and creating like a long journey.

When traveling you have to stop sometimes. For meals, for bathroom breaks, and for gas. Creative incubation is like the stops along a journey.

FOOD
Sometimes you're picking up creative inspiration by looking at beautiful things, making beautiful things designed by other people, or reading those scrumptious novels that make you laugh or cry.

GAS
Then there is the collection of images, stitch patterns, textures, colors, or yarn that has no purpose right now but may turn into something when you are done incubating.

BATHROOM
Finally there is the purging of stuff that is holding you back or getting in the way of good design. The ideas with too much of what I call "neat factor." The things that make you say "That's neat" when you see them but really have no lasting value. The yarn that's pretty or awesome design sketches that really don't fit your ultimate design vision.

What do you do when you're incubating? What fuels your vision? What needs to be dumped and kept from holding you back?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spring Chinook Scarf

I'm offering a new pattern for sale on Ravelry called the
Spring Chinook Scarf.
$4.00 



This silk scarf is the perfect pick-me-up for an ordinary outfit. The stitch pattern visualizes the warm Chinook winds which set the stage for the electric colors of June mountain wild flowers. 

Crochet Symbols Chart Included
Yarn: Two colors of any light worsted weight yarn, approximately 140 yards of each. Model shown in Debbie Bliss/Pure Silk, 100% Silk (50g/125m per skein); purple (A) and green (B).    
Supplies: Size E-4 (3.5mm) crochet hook and a yarn needle
Finished Dimensions: Approximately 2.75” (7 cm) wide and 60” (152.5cm) long.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cobweb Ribbons Wrap

A new pattern available to you on Ravelry is my Cobweb Ribbons Wrap.
$6.00 


 

Gossamer yarn is worked loosely to create the look of ribbons as light as cobwebs. This wrap is formal enough to wear with a wedding dress in summer and fine enough to bunch up and wear as a scarf on a chilly day in autumn.

Crochet Symbols Chart Included
Yarn: Any gossamer-weight yarn, approximately 650 yards. Model shown using Knit One Crochet Too Douceur et Soie, 70% Baby Mohair/30% Silk (25g/ 225yds); color: Fog.
    Supplies: Size G-6 (4mm) crochet hook and a yarn needle
  Finished Dimensions: Approximately 28” (71cm) wide and 68” (173cm) long.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Freeform Inspiration

Every year, the freeform crochet group on Yahoo does a theme and publishes it. You can see the 2010 theme here.

Go get inspired!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Aloha Knitters and Estes Park Wool Market

June is always chaotic at my day job during the month of June, with this year being no exception. I flew off on a 5 day business trip to Hawaii the first full week of June. Before going, I looked up local yarn shops and stitch groups on Ravelry and discovered that the Aloha Knitters (they like crocheters too) had regular meetings near my hotel on Monday and Thursday evenings.

So, fighting jet lag and a 4 hour time difference I joined the Aloha Knitters at the Ward Centers for a evening of chat and finding out  what they like to make in Hawaii. They were intrigued by my crochet (it involved the Solomon's Knot stitch) and I was intrigued by the fact that they were making shawls, scarves, fingerless gloves, and coffee cozies. I had to remind myself that when you're acclimated to a tropical weather pattern, the upper 60s and low 70s can feel cold. All I have to say to that nice group is Aloha and Mahalo for letting me come and hang out for an evening. If you're ever in the Honolulu area, consider joining them.

I had hoped to visit the yarn shops I came across, but unfortunately my schedule, the pervasive one way streets, street only parking, and my bladder prevented me from getting to even one of them.

I got home on Thursday night at midnight and after a day at home my husband and I took off for the Estes Park Wool Market. We had thought of camping but went with our intuition and reserved a hotel room. I'm glad we did because it was unseasonably cold and wet. Miserable weather for camping.

However, the weather didn't affect my ability to enjoy all the wonderful vendors and spend all the cash I had brought. I was glad that I had looked for Churro at the Pagosa Fiber Festival since I didn't see any vendors there, except LaPlata Farms, that obviously carried it.

I was glad to see Magpie Woodworks there because I needed a spindle. His tools are incredibly well crafted and he guarantees the balance on his spindles. Spindle balance can make or break your ability to effectively use one and I've found that most spindles one finds for sale these days are woefully lacking in balance. I purchased a walnut spindle from him that is perfect for spinning heavier weight yarns.


The other vendor I purchased from is actually a woman from my spinning group. Woodlake Woolies has a wide variety of exotic fibers and she introduced Pygora to me. I had never heard of it until that weekend and I purchased some type A from her that has spun up nicely. I also purchased some of my favorite mix: Silk and Alpaca.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pagosa Fiber Festival

The Pagosa Fiber Festival is held every Memorial Day weekend in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. And that's where I was at last Saturday.

It's a cozy affair, being a young festival, and it only takes an hour to get through the vendors. But it gets a little bigger and better every year. What I think Pagosa is best for is the Alpaca and Churro fibers. There are a lot of small growers in Western and Southern Colorado who won't be able to go to the larger festivals, but fit quite comfortably into the smaller venue of Pagosa Springs.


This year I was most particularly interested in the Churro. I shopped at three booths and came away with some beautiful roving. La Plata Farms was there again. There was one booth where several Churro growers had gone in together with a wonderful variety of fleeces and roving in all colors. They were Arriola Sunshine Farm, Hovenweep Sheep, and Fat Sheep Farm. The Los Vigiles Living Trade booth was the next one over and, while she only had small samplings of Churro, what she did have was vibrantly hand dyed. She assured me that she had more of her beautiful yarn and fiber at home in Chimayo, New Mexico.


When I was loaded up on Churro, I visited the Spider Goddess Creations booth where she was selling some incredible hand painted hanks of silk and rayon. I've been looking for the perfect yarn for a future design project and hers fit the bill. So I bought four hanks that had a nice color transition from warm to cool.

In the Community Center down the road from Town Park where the vendor tent was located, we found the Navajo rugs. While we didn't attend the auction that evening, we did have a lot of fun poking through the piles and admiring the different rugs. We saw many traditional patterns such as the Chief, Eye Dazzler, Klagatoh, and Two Gray Hills.


We wrapped up the evening in Pagosa Springs with dinner at Tequila's.


My haul for the day was (clockwise) light gray Churro roving, dark brown Churro roving, Tonga basket from Zambia, white Churro roving, blue Churro roving samples, half an ounce of buffalo down, four hanks of hand painted silk/rayon, and a lovely kuba cloth from the Congo (purchased, along with the basket, at a fair in Saguache we stopped at on the way).