Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Every year, come August and September, I get a little depressed thinking about the end of summer. But October changes all that. Autumn skies, crisp breezes, leaves beginning to flutter down - all these both soothe and lift the spirits.


The county mowers were out today, lumbering down the verge like giant locusts chewing up the last of summer. Gone now are the asters and goldenrod that spangled the roadside all through September; gone too the lemon-coloured milkweed leaves and the fine wiry remains of Queen Anne's Lace. In their place are shorn brown stems and dry, brittle grass, looking stripped down and bare in readiness for winter.


The song of the crickets is fading. Just two weeks ago, swarms of them could still be heard chanting "summer-summer-summer-summer" in double-quick time. Now their numbers have dwindled to a contemplative few, who sit in the overgrown garden bed, slowly chirping "au-tumn ... au-tumn".


For the first time in three years, the oak tree in the front yard, and the walnut trees in the back, have produced a fine crop of nuts. The Squirrelympics (can I say that? will I get sued?) are in full swing, with Grey Squirrels heading the medals list. All the usual events are taking place: Hide the Nut, Spiral Tree Chase, Sass Talking, Rhythmic Tail-Twitch, Human Avoidance, Creative Stashing, and Wire-Walking, to name but a few.

One particularly savvy (or possibly lazy) squirrel left a walnut in the tire tracks outside our garage door, letting our car do the heavy work of splitting the tough green hull. Others have chosen more exotic storage spots. We've found nuts in my bike basket, on Mr. M's motorcycle seat, in the paper recycling box, balanced on a bicycle pedal....


While everyone else is putting on long sleeves and sweatshirts to combat the cooling weather, the trees are slipping into their black lace evening gowns:


How is October treating you?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Woolly Winner!

Many thanks to all who entered the Woolly Giveaway! I so enjoyed your comments and emails.

Your names were numbered in order of entry (including those who entered via email). The lucky winner, chosen by Random Number Generator, is Number 19: Dino. Congratulations, Dino! (Cheers and applause from the stands; bleats and hoof-stamps from the pens.)

Dino, would you please send me a message with your contact information? You can reach me via comment here, or via email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks again to all who entered. Happy October!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Woolly Festival and a Giveaway

Earlier this month, my sister and I went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, a happy gathering of all things woolly held each year at the Jefferson County Fairground in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

First we visited the sheep barns (yarn on the hoof!) where we saw an astounding variety of breeds and personalities.

There were friendly sheep and curious sheep:

Happy sheep and placid sheep:

Nattily-clad sheep and mysterious masked sheep:

And the wool! Black, brown, tan, white, cream, grey, and every shade between, with every conceivable texture of curl:

We saw wool on the sheep, wool on the floor, wool in bags (hundreds of bags):

Then we looked in on the sheep judging:

After a brief stop for refreshments (root beer float made with sheep's milk ice cream for me), we made our way to the AMAZING hooked rug display:

I love this one:

Look at the detail!

Some rugs were pretty, and some whimsical:

This photo is for the Goatmother :)

These were some of my favourites - check out the lovely knitted detail on the lower left:

A kind member of the Cream City Rug Hookers gave us a demonstration of the craft, and let us try our hand at it:

Already surfeited with color, we took a breath, made sure our wallets were handy, and walked across the fairground to look at yarn.


So. Much. Yarn.

It was a bit like going to a great museum - the eyes can only take in so much, and eventually what you see becomes a blur. But what a gorgeous blur....

In addition to yarn, there were buttons and shawl pins and spindles and straps...

...and weaving and hats and mittens and baskets, and all sorts and shapes of lovely handmakes:

It was wonderful. I can't wait to go back next year.


One of the best things about a festival like this is the chance to meet the shepherds and spinners, the dyers and weavers, the painters and shapers of all the lovely things on display. We loved hearing their stories, getting their expert advice, and having a chance to support their good work.

I brought home some wonderful Wisconsin-grown and Wisconsin-spun yarn, plus a gorgeous handmade button by Belinda Carson of "B" Unique Jewelry and Crafts:


You could win that beautiful button, and a skein of Wisconsin yarn, by entering the (drumroll please):

Yarn! Button! Magazine!

The cheery orange button measures about 2" - perfect for accenting a shawl, cowl, or hat. The Romney Yarn, from Yorkshire Rose Farm, is a lofty worsted weight in soft bluish-grey with hints of warm taupe.

Also included: a copy of Interweave Crochet Fall 2017, which features two patterns and an article by yours truly.

To enter the Woolly Giveaway, just leave a comment below that includes the word "wool".

~ If you're a "No-Reply Blogger", or if your online profile does not include an email address, make sure there's a way for me to reach you.

~ If you can't leave a comment because you don't have an online profile, send me an e-mail (see my profile for the address) and include "wool" in the subject line.

Giveaway closes on Sunday, October 1, at midnight (US Central Daylight Time). The winner will be chosen by random number generator.

Winner to be announced on Monday, October 2. (Can you believe it's almost October?)

This giveaway is international. Good luck!


It's crazy hot in Wisconsin right now. How's your weather?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Friday, September 8, 2017

Introducing Live-Loop Stitches and Cables, and Two Published Patterns

"Live loop" has long been a term more common to knitting than to crochet - until now!

I'm very excited to announce a new technique that uses live loops to make amazing cables in crochet:

Live-Loop Cables in Crochet - a new technique by Sue Perez :)

The photos above are just a sample of cables you can make with the Live-Loop method.

Live-Loop cables are made by working a crochet stitch, pulling up a set of loops, then working a partial crochet stitch. The hook is then removed, and the two crochet stitches are linked together behind the cable loops. This leaves the cable loops free (or "live") on the front of the fabric.

On each succeeding round or row, a new loop is pulled up in each of the live loops from the previous row, and the crochet stitches on either side are again linked behind the cable. (If this sounds hopelessly confusing, see the video at the bottom of the post.)

The result is a flexible, I-cord-like cable that travels up the fabric surface without disrupting background texture or stitch count. Live-Loop cables can be made 1 or more loops wide (the more the loops, the fatter the cable). They can curve left or right, cross other cables, or individual loops can be crossed within a single cable. Fun fact: a Live-Loop cable can also be frogged and repaired while leaving the rest of the project intact.

If you'd like to try this technique right away, you can find a full tutorial in Interweave Crochet Fall 2017. Also appearing in this issue are two Live-Loop crochet projects: the Blue Spruce Hat and the Bristlecone Mitts.

The Blue Spruce hat is worked bottom-up and packed with fun details: a cushiony, lettuce-edge slip stitch band, Live-Loop cables both winding and straight, bobbles, and a unique slip-stitch crown finish:

Photos courtesy of Interweave Crochet and Harper Point Photography

I think the crown is my favourite part. :)

The Bristlecone Mitts are small bundes of cozy slip-stitch ribbing and cabled joy. Flat 4-loop cables travel up the backs, and the thumb gusset is set off by a tidy 1-loop cable:

Photos courtesy of Interweave Crochet and Harper Point Photography

Interweave Crochet Fall 2017 also features several other cable techniques, and many beautiful non-cabled projects. It's available in both print and digital editions here.


If you'd like to see Live-Loop crochet in action, here's a video demonstration that explains the theory behind the technique, and walks the viewer through making a Live-Loop cable swatch:

The Live-Loop method has opened up a world of possibilities for cables in crochet. I've learned (and am still learning) so much while developing this technique, and I have a ton of pattern ideas. There's much more to be said on the subject than will fit into any magazine article or blog post - so I'm writing a book about it. :)

I hope you'll try the Live-Loop method for yourself. It's fun, it's fascinating, and it produces amazing cables in crochet.


Thoughts and prayers are going out for all of you who are in the path of Hurricane Irma.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Flowers of August and July

It's been an odd summer. Torrential rains in July, followed by a cool August, made for plenty of wildflowers on the roadsides, but hardly any tomatoes in the garden. Miles have been sparse too, but there have been a few rides (literally just a few). Of course I can't take a bike ride without taking wildflower photos, so here are some of the blossoms I saw in July and August....

Mid-July, clockwise from upper left - salsify, wild sunflower, Queen Anne's Lace, yellow coneflower, and wild bergamot:

(Wild bergamot is like the Phyllis Diller of flowers. The petals and stamens look as maniacally dishevelled as the divine Miss D's hair.)

Next up, clockwise from upper left - crown vetch, spiderwort, birdsfoot trefoil, hare's-foot clover (charming name!), and spotted knapweed:

I do occasionally drag my eyes from the wildflowers to look at other things, like sandhill cranes in a soybean field. There were three that day, but as soon as they saw me get out the camera, they split up and began evasive maneuvers. So here's a shot of one of them:

Wildflowers are much more accommodating - unless there's a high wind, they mostly sit still for photos. Below, clockwise from upper left - curly dock gone to seed, hoary verbena, lesser centaury (new flower for me this year!), rough-fruited cinquefoil, fireweed with fleabane, and Turk's Cap lily:

Late July - Mr. M and I participated in a local MS ride. It was a damp and foggy morning, not very conducive to photos, but I had to snap these flowers and outbuildings (the barn on the left has two barn quilts, though they don't show very well in this photo):

After we got home and did our laundry, the sun came out. Guess which jersey is mine:


Early August - a short solo ride along roads that seemed to float on a billowing sea of Queen Anne's Lace, wild chicory, and hawkweed. It's hard to do justice to the amazing quantities of QAL that bloomed this year:

A doe and twin fawns crossing another, less-flowered road:

Other wildflowers seen that day included, clockwise from top left - wild bergamot going to seed, whorled milkweed, exotic-looking horsemint, the first lavender asters of the year, and the very beautiful lesser purple fringed orchid (another new flower for me this year):

Mid-August - Mr. M and I did another short charity ride together. I believe I set a personal record that day by not photographing any wildflowers (the exception that proves the rule?). Instead we have, clockwise from upper left - self-portrait with water weeds, Mr. M on a country road, shadow shot, a new use for a cycling helmet, and Iris the bike reposing on a rustic bridge:


Summer is the time of year when every ride or drive brings continual glimpses of beauty, and the list of flowers rolls like a litany off my tongue as I recite their names to myself.

"But beauty vanishes; beauty passes." There's frost in the not-too-distant future; let's savor summer while we can.


Prayers for the people of Texas who are seeing not flowers but flooding right now.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monday, August 21, 2017

Two Patterns Published, and a Tutorial for the Apple Dumpling Hat Join

It's hard to think about Autumn when summer is still at its peak - which is probably why I didn't blog about these patterns when they first came out last month. (It couldn't, surely, be anything to do with lack of organisation on my part. Oh no.)

Now, with goldenrod marching across the fields and September breathing down our necks, the time seems right to mention Love of Crochet's Fall 2017 issue, in which are appearing the...

Photo courtesy Love of Crochet

and the...

Photo courtesy Love of Crochet


The Apple Picking Mitts feature double rows of mock cables at tops and cuffs, with back loop only, front loop only, and crossed stitches giving plenty of interest and texture. A simple hdc body with built-in thumb gussets makes this project quick, fun, and well-fitting.

The Apple Dumpling Hat uses simple rounds of extended hdc, worked in the back bar, for stretchy texture:

It's topped with a darn cute stem and leaf (though I says it as shouldn't):

Click here to check out all the lovely patterns in Love of Crochet Fall 2017. Both digital and print issues are available.

Image courtesy Love of Crochet


And now, the Apple Dumpling Hat join.

Any variation of hdc worked in the back bar makes for a striking stitch - but how do you keep those raised ridges flowing smoothly at round joins? Visible seams are a pet peeve of mine, so I developed a special join just for this project. It's a hybrid of the Slipped Slip join and the Mock Invisible Join, with some travelling join vibe thrown in for good measure.

The magazine pattern calls it a "Modified Join". Here's how to make it:

1. Start with a round of hdc foundation stitch. (The first hdc made in each round will be called the "starting hdc", and the last one will be called the "ending hdc".) Bring the two ends together, RS facing outwards, to form a ring. Pull up working loop to about 3/8" tall and remove hook from loop. (The arrows in Photo 1 show where the loop is about to go.) 
2. With working yarn above and behind work, insert hook from WS to RS through top loops of starting hdc.
3. Place working loop back on hook and pull it through to back of project.

4. Drop loop again, turn work so WS is facing you, and insert hook from bottom to top through the back bar and back loop of the ending hdc. (I'm calling them the back loop and back bar because that's what they would be if viewed from the right side. Slightly confusing, I know.)
5. Place working loop back on hook, and ...
6. Draw it down through the other two loops.

7. Turn the work again so the RS is facing you. Pull the working yarn to tighten the join. The top of the starting hdc should "merge" with the top of the ending hdc as in photo below.

8. To start the next round, chain 4 (does not count as stitch), skip 1 stitch, ehdc in back bar of next stitch.
9. When you get to the end of the round, make the ending stitch in the back bar of the skipped stitch, keeping the ch-4 behind the work. The round start/end has now shifted one stitch to the left.
10. Ending stitch made and Modified Join complete.

This combination of sneaky join and shifting round start makes the seam much less noticeable. Here's how it looks after several rounds, wrong side (left photo) and right side (right photo):

Pretty subtle, huh? But all is not perfect. See the little arrow in the right-hand photo above? It's pointing to the last stitch of Round 3, which has developed a gap.

There are two ways to avoid a gap like that: pull yarn tail very firmly in Step 7, and make the first chain of the next round very tight to "lock" the join. (Be aware that if you pull things too tightly you can get a puckered seam. The road to perfect tension is not an easy one.)

The best way and time to tighten a chain stitch is after it's made: so chain 1, then press thumb against working loop to keep it from slipping. With other hand, grasp work just below the chain. Tug hook firmly upwards until chain shrinks to a fraction of its normal size (see photo below). Release thumb and gently pull yarn tail to snug loop on hook; work rest of chain stitches normally.

Whew! Making this join is much quicker and easier than writing it out. :) If you have any questions about the technique, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

I hope you'll find this join useful for making an Apple Dumpling Hat of your own, and for other projects too.

You may do whatever you like with objects made using this technique, but you may not reproduce or re-post the text or photos without permission. (Links to this post are welcome.) If you do reference this technique, please credit the author.

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!


P.S. Are you ready for Fall? Or (like me) still loving Summer?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Snapshots from the Chain Link 2017 Design Competition

One of the best parts of attending a CGOA conference is seeing what other people are making. (And wearing!) Being surrounded by so much creativity is inspiring, and nowhere is the creativity more evident than in the Design Competition.

Here are some highlights of this year's entries....

Each of these three pieces won a prize. The lovely wrap on the right was constructed
entirely from chain stitch and single crochet.

This amazing wall hanging won the People's Choice Award.

Another prize winner - a beautifully creative combination of beadwork and crochet
by Hazel Furst. Notice that many of the capital letters are musical notes, and the
hangers are made from conductor's batons.

That gorgeous shawl in the foreground was designed by Susan Lowman.

Never heard of this designer.... (cough)

A stunning Tunisian capelet by Juliette Bezold, who used contrast stitches to highlight
the increases and decreases. Sweet!

"Rainbow in Cloud" - this adorable blanket took first prize in the Home Decor category.

Peacock-feather detail from an amazing outfit. I wish I could have
gotten a good shot of the entire project.

Fabulous hairpin lace tunic by Annette Hynes.

Detail of a lovely freeform crochet wrap by Kristin Lynn. Star stitch, Solomon's knots,
and bullion stitch are just some of the interesting techniques used.

"Rock Steady Seasons of Indiana" by Gwen Blakely Kinsler. How creative is this!

I know you've seen this project already,
but check out the ribbon! I won a prize! :D

There were so many beautiful entries - I wish I could have gotten photos of them all. (A complete album should be available soon on the CGOA website.)

Next year's conference is in Portland. Start making your travel plans!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~