"Yarnboa Delawarensis" Has Slithered Into Place

TWO UPCOMING EVENTS: ***Saturday, December 13, 2014, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Chester County Book Company--one of the few remaining independent book-sellers still around, and an excellent one at that. I'll be signing copies of Tunisian Crochet for Baby as part of a multi-author event. My bag is packed with samples to show you, but the signing is BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby). More information here.***












***Sunday, December 14, 2014, 1-3 p.m., at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, informal meet-and-greet. I'll answer all of your questions about the yarn installation and will teach finger crocheting to anyone who is interested. Hope to see you there! Find information about the Museum, including hours, admission fees, and directions, here.***

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post...

The past month has whizzed by with so many exciting things happening that I can hardly believe it. At the top of that list is the yarn installation at the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington, my first fiber art exhibit. Indoors--with the help of some volunteers who crocheted snake segments for me, and Museum staff who hung it--is Yarnboa delawarensis, a 40-foot yarn snake. Approximately 9,000 yards of yarn, including a box donated by Plymouth Yarn Company, went into the critter. That's five miles of yarn. Yarnboa is stuffed with recycled plastic bags and newspapers. When it is taken down on January 26, the segments will be reconfigured into blankets, which will be donated to the Friends Association for Care & Protection of Children in West Chester, PA.

Here are some photos of Yarnboa from the first segment, through partial construction at my home, to its move to the Museum, to its hanging place.

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Finished snake segment

Just hanging around

Yarnboa awaiting installation

Looking from the back end






















But wait, there's more! I wanted to do a real yarnbomb, not just a finished object. There were some wonderful opportunities outdoors with the Museum's statues and signage. Multi-colored motifs blanket the tortoise to create "Shell Game." 'The grizzly bear sports a web of snowflakes to turn him into "Polar Bear." A young fawn sports a Tunisian crochet coat in "Flawnt." Thanks to a wonderful suggestion from Helen in the Museum's exhibits department, I also made leg-warmers for a couple of the signs.













Polar Bear

Shell Game











Things went remarkably smoothly during the two days of installation. Helen and I got started on Monday, December 1, aided hugely by unseasonably warm temperatures and dry weather. I didn't even need my coat or gloves. Helen was indispensible; I learned how important it is to have a teammate to make suggestions and to provide an extra pair of hands. I had crocheted some of the bear's snowflakes together into panels at home, but there was still quite a bit of work needed to attach the front to the back and fill in blank areas. As for Yarnboa, I had sewed and stuffed about eight separate sections; in the afternoon of Day One we joined those together and got the snake ready to hang in place.

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Day 2 was all about hanging the snake. Chris got the lift ready, and up Helen went! It was not an easy task to knot monofilament line and feed it through the ductwork, but Helen had tremendous stamina for the job. I wasn't much help: my role was pretty much to stand around and say, "That looks great!"


Careful, Chris, something is hissing


Maybe we should hang it there

Up goes Helen in the lift










We started before the Museum opened and were finished mid-morning. It was gratifying to see and hear the reactions from visitors. One mom used the segments to ask her child about colors. A grandmother and her grandson were fascinated with the lift itself. A group of students couldn't stop smiling and pointing. We also got some nice press coverage in a Chadds Ford Live article by Kathleen Brady Shea. You can read it here.

I am very grateful to the Halsey Spruance, Executive Director at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, for his enthusiasm and his permission to do this installation. When I asked him whether I could do a yarn-bombing, he suggested "Yarnboa" to go with the Museum's "Titanoboa: Monster Snake!" exhibit. I also owe a huge thank-you to the Museum staff, especially Helen Bilinski, Chris Hayes, and Daniel McCunney, and to the volunteers all over the country who sent in snake segments. I would love to do more of these fiber art exhibits, and I couldn't have gotten this experience without all of them.

The exhibit runs until January 26th, 2015.

A lot more has been going on in my work life, including the imminent release of Tunisian Shawls Leisure Arts, another book I submitted to them that will be out mid-year, and a compilation/update of my first two crochet titles into Basic Crocheting Plus Projects from Stackpole Books, scheduled for release sometime in 2015. More details in the next blog post, which I will try to do in the near future.

Meanwhile, I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying December so far. Decorate, bake, visit...and get some crocheting in, too!


Podcast, NYC-bound, and Thoughts on Windows (the Glass Kind, not the Microsoft Kind)

Happy October! It's been busy around here. Did you have a chance to catch my appearance on Marly Bird's Yarn Thing podcast? Here's the link in case you missed it. I enjoyed the conversation--Marly always asks good questions and is fun to talk to. Thursday 10/4 is my appearance at Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC. I'll be giving a short talk and hosting an audience-participation fashion show with scarves from Crochet Scarves: Fabulous Fashions, Various Techniques. Want to model? Now's your chance! The event is free, but you have to let them know you're coming. Did you RSVP yet? Here's the link for more information and to register.  I love the Studio and am eager to return there--this will be my third visit. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and I start doing my thing at 6.

Recently I've been attending to some home chores, including window-cleaning. (Now, before you read on, you have to promise not to give me any window-cleaning advice. I say this not because I am close-minded, or because I don't value your grandma's tried-and-true method, but because I promise you I have tried every technique you could mention. No matter what I still end up with streaky glass and the knowledge that I'm just not good at this! Telling me that you have a foolproof method will only reinforce my feelings of inadequacy in the window-washing department. So, thank you for your restraint!)

Here is a partial list of my unsuccessful attempts. I've tried vinegar (house smelled like salad dressing for a week), crumpled newspapers (ruined my rubber gloves), plain water, water with dish detergent, Windex, paper towels, environmentally friendly glass cleaner, a chamois, soft rags, old towels, and a squeegee. I've cleaned the windows in bright sunlight, when it's overcast, and when the moon is in the seventh house. I even followed a recommendation to wipe up-and-down on the inside and back-and-forth on the outside to make it easier to see which surface was streaky. (Answer: both.)

Even though I'm terrible at cleaning the windows, I am also really slow at it!You may think this is a minor issue, but with 21 double-hung windows, it is a time-consuming enterprise. Or maybe escapade is a better word. Fortunately, the windows tilt in or I'm sure that the caption by my picture would read "Splat!"

I do know to do the upstairs windows before the downstairs ones. Please don't ask me how I learned this.

The frustration of doing the glass is matched only by the disgustingness of cleaning the dead bugs out of the frames and drainage channels. Blecch! I read that there are more than 300,000 species of beetles in the world, most of which apparently sent representatives to die in my window frames. I brushed them out with toothbrushes and flushed them out with water.  Some of the not-quite-dead ones weren't too happy about this, including several torpid stink bugs and a quite angry wasp.

My goal was to finish this chore before the exterior painting began, so I wouldn't be washing dirt and bugs onto pristine new paint. As far as that goes, I am pleased to report Mission: Accomplished. The painters are here today and my house is ready for them. True, the windows could probably be cleaner and less streaky, but the bugs have been banished and I made enough of a difference that I can actually see through the glass now!

Now I can turn my attention back to my crochet projects. I'm enjoying my work for Debra at My Crochet Kits. She packages yarn and patterns together so crocheters have exactly what they need and can start on a project right away--what a super idea! Debra is featuring several of my patterns, including some I designed just for her. Here's the link to her site.

With the leaves turning and a nip in the air, I'm inspired to create nice warm accessories. Hope you are feeling invigorated, too!


TNNA then back home to PA

My flight from Philadelphia to Columbus was delayed, but the wait was eased by having JoAnne Turcotte (formerly Plymouth's design director, now the owner of Knitter's Edge in Bethlehem PA) and her daughter and daughter-in-law waiting for the same flight. This was JoAnne's first trip as a buyer instead of a seller. Can't wait to hear what she chose for her beautiful shop! www.theknittersedge.com

Finally got where we were going. The festivities at TNNA got off to a wonderful start thanks to Marly Bird, a.k.a. Yarn Thing, who organized the designers' dinner Friday night. She doesn't need that gold mask to be a superhero! Putting together sponsors, getting the invitations out, managing the RSVPs, assembling the goodies for the swag bags...when I talked to Marly afterwards she said it had been as much work as planning a wedding and I believe it. The evening's "Masquerade" theme was the springboard for many introductions.


I guess I am slowly making inroads in the design community, because I have some big names to drop: Robin Chachula, Ellen Gormley, Miriam Felton, Stefanie Japel, Lily Chin, Karen Whooley, Kristin Omdahl, Mary Beth Temple, Doris Chan and many more were in the room--several were at my table. I enjoyed having the opportunity to hear more about their lives as designers and as people! It's a friendly, interesting group.


Yarn companies, accessory purveyors, book publishers, etc. generously gave items for the swag bags that every attendee received. I'm not talking about a tiny plastic bag of stuff, I'm talking about a full-size tote bag stuffed to the gills with wonderful items. Look!

Get a load of all this swag! Knitting needles, tape measures, yarn yarn yarn, books, gauge measurers, crochet hook, books, liquids for hand-washing...you name it. It's good exposure for the sellers; I'll definitely try out their products

Didn't get much sleep Friday night due to noise from above and next door. (Changed rooms for the rest of my stay--I think the first room might have been under a wedding party suite, and it was definitely next door to a hospitality suite.

Saturday morning it was off to the show. First task: drop off the samples from Crochet Scarves to the manufacturers with those nice signs Stackpole made. Once that running-around was done, I had more time to go booth by booth, getting a look at new products. Wow, did I see some gorgeous yarns and some amazing garments. Over the years I have learned how to take meaningful notes that make sense when I read them at home. Sure makes follow-up easier

One fun part of TNNA is that most of the attendees on the yarn side (the other part of the show is needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch, etc.) is wearing a gorgeous handmade garment. It's perfectly acceptable, even encouraged, to go up to a total stranger and say, "I love what you're wearing!" then get to talking about whether it's an original design, from a published pattern, or was received as a gift. I ran into Patty Lyons from Lion Brand Yarn Studio. I'll be going there for a book-signing in October, and we talked about the possibility of teaching a class sometime later in the fall. The Studio is a wonderful space with spacious classrooms upstairs. I taught a Tunisian crochet class there and enjoyed the experience.

Sunday was the launch of Crochet Scarveswith a signing at the Unicorn book distributors' booth. They do a fine job setting everything up--thank you to everyone at Unicorn! I met so many nice people who got the book for themselves or a gift or prize.

The winning name: Tammy (and Tammie): I signed three books addressed to people with that name. A lot of folks are interested in Tunisian crochet and were happy that seven of the twenty-one patterns are Tunisian. I have to be careful if I'm having a conversation with someone while I'm signing their book--it's easy to write what they're saying instead of signing my name!

Throughout the weekend I met with yarn company reps, publishing industry luminaries, and other designers to talk about what's up-and-coming. In the next days and weeks I will work on my business plan to figure out what's next for me. Stackpole Books has published all five of my crochet titles, and we'd like to do another book together. It has to be the right project, though, and the right timing. Leaflets and magazines are another option. I could do those in parallel with a book, or perhaps to fill the gap while I figure out what my next big project should be. I have some ideas, but anything I work on can't be just for fun, it has to make sense from a business perspective also.
I came away feeling very energized about the possibilities!