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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Princess the Sheep Update

It's been a busy time of year for the Owens Farm, but I got an update recently from Caroline Owens, who writes that Princess and her lamb are doing just great.  "Baby" is a whopping 60 lbs now (compared to the flock average of 40 lbs) because, as a single, she got all the milk and got off to a very good start.  She went to "Sheep Camp" recently and is now halter-trained.  In the mean time, Princess and the other ewes are out to pasture, regaining the weight they lost during lactation.  This is their summer vacation -- They won't do much except graze, nap, and chew their cud until Fall breeding time (sounds pretty good, especially the napping part ;-).

I have not yet followed up on the carding of the fleece -- it continues to sit in a very large bag in the corner of my bedroom!  I have the feeling that there are going to be wafts of fleece floating in the air if I try to do this inside, but it's too hot to do outside right now, so it's going to have to wait a little while longer...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Small Talk

I had such a nice class last Wednesday with two Beginners' Crochet students who came by the store for Crochet 201.  I got one of them started on making granny squares and the other on a crocheted shawl project.  It's really a lovely shawl called the Small Talk shawl by Cheri McEwen that can be made with a light DK for summer and a worsted weight for the fall.

One thing we discovered as we were working on the pattern is that there are a couple of pattern instruction rules to keep in mind when you're working on a pattern that has lots of stitch groupings and repeats:

1)  when you see "(...)" that means do everything in the parentheses into the next stitch or space because the pattern writer is giving you an instruction to make a certain combination of stitches into one particular space.

2)  when you see "[...]" that means do everything in the brackets the number of times the pattern tells you to because the pattern writer is giving you an instruction that you need to keep repeating in order to get to the end of that row or round; this can also be done  by using "* ... *", which indicates that you should keep repeating what's in between the asterisks until the next instruction is given.

3)  usually, at the end of the instructions for a row or round, the pattern writer will tell you whether to turn or not turn the work in order to start the next round or row, but sometimes that instruction is omitted because the default rule is to turn your work at the end of each row or round unless instructed otherwise.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Last Chance!

Progress is being made on the new website, and I hope to be unveiling it soon!  So, yes, the blogging has taken a back seat...

In the mean time, please help me out and "pay with a tweet or facebook" and get your free Flower Power pattern!  It's only until the end of the month, so grab it while you can :-)

Also, I'm planning on doing a special week of crochet tips and tricks on Facebook starting in July, so go and "like" our Many Creative Gifts page and stay tuned.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pattern Buyers Beware!!

Some of you may know that I am a professional member of the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America).  It's a wonderful organization that publishes Crochet! magazine and is "a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the art of crochet."  Recently, I've been seeing a lot of email group traffic on how various websites, many of which originate in Russia and China, that have members who sell crochet patterns in violation of the designers' copyright.  One CGOA member found a black & white photo of her pattern (to make it look vintage) on Yardsellr, illegally being sold.  Another foreign site is offering patterns for free, though that's not the intention of the designers!

All I ask is that, if you find a pattern you like on a consolidator's website, please do a little more searching to see if you can figure out who the designer really is and if there is a way to buy the pattern directly from her or him.  There are ways to contact sites and report copyrighted materials for removal (sites who honestly didn't realize their members were using their services unlawfully will usually act quickly to remove the copyrighted materials), but I think the best way to put these people out of business is to not buy from them!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Off to Sea (See?!)

Ah, Memorial Day.  A chance to enjoy a day off from work, but it's still important to take the time to think about why we have to have such a day and give thanks.  Since I was already in a contemplative mood this morning, as I was reading the paper, I came across the most interesting article.  Gregory White wrote an article about the profound effect that reading a book review in the newspaper had on his life.  Now, mind you, it started with a book review, not the book itself, in an actual newspaper.  See, Mr. White was in prison at the time, having committed an armed robbery at age 20, in maximum security from 1981 to 2003.  The reviewed book was "Black Jacks: African American Seaman in the Age of Sail" by W. Jeffrey Bolster.  The review reminded Mr. White about the dreams he had had as a child to become a sailor, how he had joined the Navy at 17, but how he had made some bad decisions along the way that got him discharged from the Navy and into prison.  But, this one book review led him to contact the author of the book, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, who sent him a copy and encouraging words and, over the years, became a mentor and friend.  It's an amazing article about this man's desire to change, hard work, and triumph.  Here's the full article from the Washington Post.

Actually, the article I'm interested in reading is the one that would be written by the professor.  Can you imagine having written a book and then receiving a letter from a prison inmate recounting the impact  that a review of the book has made on him?! We often just don't realize or think about how small actions on our part can have profound impacts on other people.  Something to think about...