Thursday, May 29, 2014


This time it is weaving looms on the right and fiber, fiber, fiber on the left.  Our last stop on our side trip from McCade was the Yarnorama in Paige Texas.  I was astounded at the sophisticated selection of yarns and fibers.  I am not sure what I expected when I climbed up on the porch steps of Yarnorama but it was not nearly as fabulous as what I found.  Susan, the owner was quiet but helpful, and when I asked about a linen yarn she went out and got her latest project which was a scarf using that fiber.  I am in love with this store, I just wish we had one down in the Rio Grande Valley.  When I mentioned that spinning with a drop spindle was on my "bucket" list she told me that on the first Saturday of the month they have a sort of spin-in, where people bring their spinning wheels and drop spindles and just have a spinning good time.  This is not a formal class but help is available.  I wandered about fondling yarn for a while and then I found the bargain shelves (sorry I cannot help it) where I picked up three spools of chenille yarn.  It is for weaving but neither Susan nor I could find any reason not to crochet with it.  She did suggest that I crochet tightly, wet it (it will feel terrible she warned) and then put it in the dryer and it will be wonderful.  OK more swatching in my future, I am learning to love swatching, I just use them to make facecloths or pouches.  I did also get some lovely apricot/champagne Shibui linen and matching beads which may become an amulet bag, or it may not, we will just have to see. If we come back this way this is definitely a stop!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Quilted Skein

Inside The Quilted Skein
Beautiful quilt fabric on the left, fabulous fiber on the right and located next door to the Texas Quilt museum, can it get any better?  Yes, a big worktable in the back where there is more fabric and very nice staff.  The Quilted Skein is located, as I said, next door to the Texas Quilt Museum in LaGrange Texas, which I wrote about in a previous post.  We are "on the road again" in our RV and the name caught my eye when I "googled" yarn stores in the area.  It really is both a quilt fabric store and a yarn store.  The fabric selection is fairly extensive and a nice quality.  I often use my grandmother's black dirt celery farm at Bajor Lane as an inspiration, so I am always looking for black and green fabric.  I bought a yard of black fabric with rows of green dots (great "farm" fabric) and it was $10.95/yard.  The yarn selection is not quite as extensive but they had some really nice yarns.  After looking for yarn in the valley (Rio Grande Valley) it is nice to see yarns other than the "big box" selections (Hobby Lobby, Michaels, etc).  I bought the sale yarn (always the bargain hunter) at 40% off.  It was Cestari's Island Collection a mix of 67% cotton, 25% wool and 8% silk (100gms - 230 yds)  and I am planning to use it in a Tunisian crochet scarf.  Of course that could change as I swatch it up to see what it looks like.  I just started playing around with it using a stitch from Dora Ohrenstein's book The New Tunisian Crochet.  She has many stitch examples, so I will see what works with this yarn.  I would have spent much more time in the store but my hubby was waiting in the car.  This is a definite stop for all who visit the Texas Quilt Museum.

The Quilted Skein

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Texas Quilt Museum

We are on the road again (hurrrraaayyyy!) and I hope to be able to give you some reviews as we travel.  We were camping in McCade (east of Austin TX) this weekend, I "googled" the area and found the Texas Quilt Museum and two shops that looked interesting.  So Saturday morning Tom and I went out for a drive.  The Quilt Museum was about 45 miles away from our campground.  Located in LaGrange it is almost equidistant from Houston, Austin and San Antonio in lovely rolling hills.  The building is really two connected stores with high ceilings, great brickwork walls and lovely wood floors.  Their website is here .  When we were there the exhibit was Butterflies and Their Beautiful Kin and even my husband enjoyed it.  The two large rooms were filled with beautiful interpretations of the theme.  There were a lot of "thread paintings" and several quilts with 3-D features, either flowers or Butterflies.  Every one was wonderful but our favorite was a thread painting of a child's hands with a butterfly on them, the color play was amazing.  I was respectful of their wishes not to photograph the quilts but it was hard.  The third room had an exhibit of antique quilts, one of which was a stunning red and white Alphabet quilt with big, bold, red letters.   The museum does not own any of their own quilts but they do change the exhibit every three months.  According to one of the docents they strive for a balance of contemporary and traditional quilts.  On the side of the Museum is "Grandmother's Flower Garden" and a 13 x 85 foot  quilt mural.

The Texas Quilt Museum

Grandmother's Flower Garden and Quilt Mural

The town of LaGrange has a really nice square and there are several interesting shops (antique and clothing) that I probably would have visited if I were alone.  We had a snack at the local coffee shop and there are places for a sandwich and lunch.  On Saturday there was a small farmer's market at the courthouse.  Quilt Ladies from the Westlaco Bee, I think we need to do a road trip, I found one fabric store, I am sure we can find others in the area.

colorful chair in front of one of those neat shops

Courthouse in the town square

I will tell you about the Quilted Skein - a fabric and yarn shop right next door to the museum in the next post.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Crochet Challenge Week 12 Best Tip

The best crochet tip I every got was to change colors by using the change color in the last two loops of the stitch.  This tips has been posted frequently but I saw it about two years ago, I just don't remember where.  switching colors before you finish off the last two loops of a stitch makes for a nice neat color change.  I have been looking at tapestry crochet again.  I played around with it just a bit last fall, (tiny bag in three colors) but I would like to do some more work with it.  I was not doing the color change quite right.  Bags are fun because you keep working in the round.  Flat pieces are harder, for a return row I will either have to learn to crochet with my left hand or learn to crochet "backwards".  I can appreciate how hard it must be for my daughter, who is a lefty, to work in a "righty" world when I try to crochet left handed, that will take a LOT of practice.
Tapestry bag with red/yellow color change

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Crochet Challenge Week 11: What kind of crocheter are you?

What kind of crocheter am I?  I did touch on that last week, I definitely alter patterns.  I might just like a stitch that was used in a pattern so I will appropriate it for something else.  The design might be to big or to small so I need to change it.  Usually I have to adapt because I am making something using my stash and it does not quite match the thread being used in the pattern. 

My Crochet "Doodle"

What I love the most is working with a technique or a stitch until I am comfortable with it and then
going off and designing something all on my own.  I love that feeling when my brain starts whirling and saying "what if...what if...what if...". 

Somehow though this has not translated into "freeform" crochet.  I do have plans to work on that technique.  For now the closest I come is what my friend Robin calls my "doodle" as in the picture above.  When I am stuck I pull this out and just start to crochet.  It isn't anything, so anything goes, next I am going to play with some color I highly recommend it as a relaxing exercise in shape.  I am using cotton crochet thread size 10 and a size 10 hook but it can be adapted to any weight.  Don't think useful as in hat, scarf, toy, etc, just let go and start to crochet.  You can see I was sort of rigid in the beginning.  I had been crocheting beaded ropes and it took a while to get out of that mode, plus I kept making mistakes while making the tubing so I went with the "what if I let the mistakes go into the design"? That is when I really started to enjoy it.  Try it you might like it too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

More Amulet bags

I had previously posted some bags that still needed work and I am happy to say I have finished them.  I am still on the "finish your WIP's" kick from the 52 week Crochet challenge.  It is a good kick to be on as I tend to start projects when I have an idea and then let them languish because I have another good idea that has to get started RIGHT NOW!  WIP's are great when the inspiration bug does not bite though, since they are mostly designed I can do the finish up work while waiting for inspiration to strike.  The first bag is the "sun" bag.  My first try at using beads to cabochon the center stone.  I tried to get a close up of the glass piece in the center so that you can see the "sun spiral".  This one was one of the pieces that whispered a story and it is here. I tried to get a close up so that you could see the center of the glass insert.  The trim has amber, and Peruvian opal beads and tiny teardrops.  The trim design is from The Beaded Edge, as is the strap.

The next bag is one of my earth bags.  The purple trim is from the book The Beaded Edge and it is called Pansies, as it is supposed to look like the little flowers.  I used a vintage button for the closure.

The last bag is one of the Interlocking Crochet patterns.  It is reversible and I put vintage buttons on both sides so that it could be worn with either pattern.  I love using old buttons.  I have a few that are really nice Bakelite buttons that need some really special designs, still working on that.

I did do one project as a distraction when I got tired of working on bags, I crocheted another rock, this time using wire.  In the past I have not enjoyed using wire, it was to tough on my hands, but I found some 36 gauge and that is much easier to work up.  The beads were added by doing the top section first.  This let me work with the beads on the "wrong" side and then use that as the "right side for the top.  Once I put the rock into the net, I continued and closed up the back (no beads).  Not my favorite but I would try it again, I just need to get some more wire.  It is a different technique and not as forgiving as thread.  When it kinks, it stays kinked, even in the light gauge I used.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chevron Cowl CAL

I started the chevron cowl crochet a-long.  The cowl is a design by Sheryl Thies in Tunisian crochet. I have several of her books and I like her designs, besides, it is a Tunisian crochet along - they do not appear very often.
The Crochet along is sponsored by Interweave Crochet Me and the location is here the pattern is in a free e-book that you can download at the Chevron Cowl Crochet along site.  I am using Filatura  Lanarata's Fashion Toes.  I used it for a vest and it is a joy to work with.  I did my swatch (which also gives you an idea of what the pattern will be like), started the scarf and I have 3 rows done.  So I am in line with the projected dates.  It is a nice pattern - and I am not that fond of the ripple stich

Friday, May 9, 2014

Crochet Challenge Weeks 9 & 10

I am going to combine blogging about this weeks challenge with last weeks challenge.  Last week we were supposed to organize or patterns, or start to organize or patterns, or THINK about organizing our patterns.  The patterns I have on my computer are pretty well organized by craft and then by type of project (bags, scarves, doll clothes, etc.); however, I do have a few printed patterns, magazines, patterns saved on All Free Crochet (it is so easy to click Save Pattern) and oh backup drive which has the things I had stored on my old work computers. 

This is not a small job.  My current computer, as I said, is in pretty good shape.  The rest is not.  I have not touched any magazines, I might think about getting rid of them and we can't have that.  I did work on my back up drive and reorganized some patterns I had stored there.  I also went down a rabbit hole and started deleting things I did not need (like training notes from 2004) so while I got a lot done it was not all crocheted related.  I do have to thank Julie for organizing this challenge, otherwise I may not have found those old files at all.  I am still working on finishing more works in progress.  We are going to go to California and I have to have some projects to show my friend Robin so she does not think I was just laying around all winter while she was studying and writing term papers.

My first project is lost in the shadowy memories of childhood.  I think it was a really, really loooong chain.  The first project I remember designing was an afghan I made in the 70's.  We had little (read no) money and I needed a Christmas gift for my in-laws. Someone had given me a stash of acrylic yarn in a variety of colors with a lot of grey skeins.  So I made an afghan of flower patterns in all of the colors and linked them together with the grey.  I don't have a picture of this but it did turn out pretty well, there were a lot of shades of pink as I recall and it went well with the grey.  What I remember most was my mother-in-law, Franny's, comments.  She kept saying that she had never seen anything like it anywhere.  Now Franny was a really good knitter but she did follow the patterns, I had to explain that I "made it up" and did not have a pattern.  I think she liked it, I am pretty sure that "I have never seen anything like it" was not code for "oh my goodness how ugly is this", Franny just could not comprehend making something up and not following a pattern.  Well things have not changed all that much.  I have not met a pattern that I did not think about altering (sometimes just to change the yarn) somehow.  The only difference is that NOW I say "I designed this with you in mind" instead of "I made it up" - much better don't you think?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Crochet Challenge Week 9

Last week's challenge was to finish, work on or rip out WIP's.  I had previously posted two amulet bags I was planning to finish, well, I finished one and a half of that posting but I finished another bag also.  I also ripped out a scarf that wasn't going well (challenge give me strength Arrrggghhhh).  The bag I like the most is the Desert Amulet Bag.  It has a story that it told to me as I was making it. 

Desert Amulet Bag
You can see that story here (Desert Bag Story).  The bag is crocheted cotton #8 in turquoise, cream, tan and khaki.  Colors that remind me of the desert sky, sand and scrub brush.  The neckpiece is about 19 inches, crocheted with the cotton thread and fastened with a desert lizard toggle.  The beads on the front are drilled stone octagons with tiny carvings.  Closing the bag is a flap with loops, the loops slide over the mother of pearl "dragon's teeth" shell pieces.  Above the flap are two vintage brass beads and above that is a .... stone "hanging" piece that I bought at a trunk show in California.  It is supposedly from Afghanistan, but no one could tell me its real purpose, I think it makes a wonderful, mysterious addition to the bag.  This is not a glitzy bag and as such might appeal to men as well as women.  I am rather fond of this one and had a good time writing it's "story".


I finished another Amulet bag also.  The Earth Bag.  The bag itself is 3 x 3 inches with an additional inch of crocheted, beaded fringe with sandstone chips at the base of the bead loops.  The overlay crochet bag had a bead and vintage button clasp.  The 22 inch crocheted and beaded neck strap had a really nice feel to it, soft yet substantial.


Sun bag
The last bag is not quite complete, the front and back are joined and the fringe is crocheted but not attached.  I have not decided on a neck strap yet.  This is my first try at enclosing a cabochon with crochet.  The center stone is a glass worry or meditation stone with a carving of a spiral sun in the center. Sorry but I have not figured out how to photograph that yet.  It was a bit loose so I had to tighten up the front and it turned out a bit off center.  I used gold metallic sewing thread and a size 12 hook to tighten it up.  The fringe is crocheted but not attached.  This one is telling me a story, but it isn't finished yet.  I'll post the story when it is done.

This week we are supposed to be organizing our patterns.  I intend to keep on working on those WIPS, I really want to finish some more amulet bags