Monday, May 23, 2011

A Cro-riffic Week!!

Monday May 23, 2011
Last week was an exceptionally busy and exciting week of crochet inspiration, activity and exploration! The Chicagoland area is becomming a Crochet mecca! Not only do we have the Premiere Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America, the Northern IL Chapter, but we also have its Founder too-Moi! Then there's the Double Stitch twins, Erika and Monika, who are taking the crochet world by storm with their fashion-forward and funky designs and they have also been recently named as spokespersons for Coats & Clark/Red Heart yarns.

I wrote about them in Interweave Crochet magazine, "Double the Fun." (Fall 2006)

There are inumerable yarn shops in the area and Loopy Yarns in printers Row is one that I have never visited, although I wrote about them once for an article about Chicagoland yarn stores,"Miles of Loops in the Chicago Loop" in Interweave Crochet magazine (Winter 2009). Monika and Erika were "Celebrating Crochet" last week at Loopy Yarns,

so it was a no-brainer for me. I like to support their efforts and I could also see Loopy Yarns.It seems the twins are still talking about me and giving me credit for their getting their first book deal from Lark Publications as a result of my article about them. I was greeted by Nancy Thomas, former editor of Vogue Knitting and current Creative Director at Coats. She invited me to participate in the video being taped about the twins' career. This will be included as a CD in their next book, along with some how-to crochet demonstrations.

It is a very large and fabulously crochet-friendly yarn store in Printers' Row, housed in an old train station. Not only is it a delightful area to browse, but the allure of 1,000s of balls of yarn and hundreds of fiber books is a great addtion to an attractive Chicago neighborhood in the heart of downton.

At my LYS this week, I had one beginner and one intermediate crochet student which I grouped together. The lines between skill levels begin to blure sometimes once the basic three stitiches are learned. They were both very enthusiastic and also exicted at some valuable little tips I was sharing with them. They were throwing out ideas of things they want to continue to learn. I think this is the beginning of a long and productive learning experience for us all. That is a teacher's dream come true!

My week culminated with an artsy/fibery weekend. I felt we had an opportunity for our chapter to spread the owrd about Carol Hummel's crochet art. Since she was here this weekend for the opening of Nature Unframed at the Morton Arboretum which includes her crochet-covered tree, "Lichen It" I volunteered to plan an artist talk at the Rolling Meadows Library.

The intimate crowd in attendance this late-May weekend, was very enthusiastic and definitely happy they attended. Carol did a superb job of presenting a retrospective of her intriguing installation art and brought us up to the present,

her amazing tree in the arboretum!

The on-going "thread" of her work made complete sense to me: Don't let your disfunctional family get you down; instead use that dysfunction to create art and tell your story!

The culmination of my week was a phtoshoot with youngeer daughter, Bethany. It was a gorgeous day with just enough cloudcover to act like a lens filter. We always have fun when we take photos and her new neighborhood offers many interesting architectural back drops. I was going for the "gritty-city" look!

Pam's Comfort Cables Afghan

Monday, May 23, 2010

"I have the afghan around me right now, and it has given me several "hugs" along my journey.

You are an amazing group, your talents are endless, I'm awestruck and so honored. Thank you all, so much, for your generous talent and kindness. All my non-crochet friends are blown away by all of you." -Pam

Pam's words dissolved any and all stress I might have felt back in October 2010 when I committed to designing a cable crochet block to support one of my fellow crochet designers who was going through chemotherapy. Adding one more "have-to" crochet project to my already long list of "to-dos" with deadlines was a bit overwhelming at the time. I knew in my heart, though, that I wanted to do it and so I just got on with the task. Now that our booklet is released and selling for a good cause, I am proud and elated that I chose to be a part of this honorable crochet task!

Cable crochet is intriguing and challenging to me. I have taught it and I love the look of the finished cable; they are so elegant and sophisticated looking. Here's the square I designed:
When a dear, designer friend told us that she was fighting breast cancer, we wanted to let her know that we were thinking of her during this challenging time. We created this crocheted afghan using the colors she loves: grays and silver, and pink which represents her fight with breast cancer. We also incorporated her favorite stitch design, namely cables, for each square representing our love, prayers, and thoughts. We knew each time she wrapped this afghan around her, she would be reminded of our added strength, helping and comforting her as she made her way through this difficult journey. Pam is the "Queen of Cables" and she writes on her blog at:

You, too, can also help someone you know who is going through a difficult time. Crochet this afghan using the colors in this sample, or change them for your recipient. Work each square as given, placing them according to the schematic, or crochet only those squares you want to, and arrange them how you want. You can even crochet just one of the squares, 30 times. Your gift, however you make it, will be greatly appreciated and loved, and will give comfort, warmth and love when needed.

Including patterns from crochet designers such as Drew Emborsky, Diane Moyer, Karen Ratto-Whooley, Gwen Blakley Kinsler, Tracie Barrett, Dee Stanziano, Lisa Gentry, Margaret Hubert, Tammy Hildebrand, Angela Best, Kim Kotary, Mary Beth Temple, Jill Hanratty, Kristin Omdahl, Vashti Braha, Ellen Gormley, Marty Miller, Robyn Chachula, Amy O’Neill Houck, Annie Modesitt, Bendy Carter, Doris Chan, and Mary Jane Hall

Details about the book:
20 pages including front cover, table of contents, and contributor's page
24 cabled designs
100% of proceeds go to Pam Gillette’s_Comfort_Cables_Crochet_Afghan__D11064220.html

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Innocence & Nostalgia

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
A visit from a 17 1/2 month-old is all it takes to bring back memories of a by-gone era: child-rearing! Our special guest was our first and only grandchild, Chloe Marie. This was our first time to take care of her for any length of time; I had practiced putting her to bed many a time, though.

Our second grandchild is on the way and we are excited to be waiting on Chloe's baby brother to arrive in July. It was high-time for that winter get-away that didn't happen in winter for Chloe's parents. Time was running out for the baby moon, as well.

I'd say overall it was a great success. She is such a good natured little girl and we kept her plenty busy too. The weather cooperated so we were able to stroll to the park

for her favorite activity, swinging.

We also let her walk on her own two busy little feet plenty in the neighborhood. She got to spend time with her Aunt Bethie in the city and that was very exciting. The sights and sounds of the city, like trains trucks and airplanes really excite her, as well as the many other "babies" in strollers and dogs on leashes. For up close and personal doggie time, Beth lets Chloe play with her dog Tasha and her foster dog, Finley,

as well as a bonus detour to Urban Pooch where we viewed 20 or so daycare dogs through the viewing glass.

It is really nostalgic to be reminded of all that goes along with a child this young. All the "equipment" that is needed is vital to success and Nicole so thoughtfully didn't forget a thing! Truth be told, Chloe's favorite activity was opening the pantry and carrying cans and boxes to the family room table!

(Some things don't change!) It took me an hour to pack it all up when it was time yesterday to take Chloe to her other grandparents. Getting out the toys books from my daughters' childhood was nostalgia too. What worked then is still a hit today, for a couple of minutes anyhow!

Luckily for all, Chloe's concept of time isn't developed yet. She would say "Mama" when she say Nicole's picture on the wall and mentioned "Dada" at a man's voice on TV or when she saw the remote! From there, she seemed oblivious to her parents' absence and more than content with us. When she saw her other grandparents, it took about a half minute for her to warm up to them and then her allegiance shifted completely to them and she seemed oblivious to my departure. In the grand scheme, that is a good thing!

We were tired out, but so glad we could be of service and let the kids -Chloe's parents - get a well-deserved break! Mu Mothers' Day couldn't have been better: brunch with Auntie Beth & Chloe plus a great sentiment from Nicole in her card: "I'm so lucky to have a Mom like you. Now I feel like being a mom is the best job in the world." (This from my child who didn't like children at all during high school and college)