Saturday, October 31, 2009

Topic: not crochet...

Those of you who know me well know that not only am I a crochet designer, but I am a physical therapist as well. I work primarily in an outpatient orthopedic clinic, but occasionally have to work a weekend in the hospital. I don't share that here, typically, because we are bound by federal Hippa laws to protect the privacy of those we serve, so usually the easiest way to comply with this is not to share anything. But I have a story to tell that I think will touch someone and will disguise the person I am talking about so that their identity is safe.
I went to see a gentleman today to get him out of bed and walk him. I was rather well acquainted with him as well as his wife, as his wife had been a patient of mine in the clinic at one time or another over the last 5 or 6 years. As we began our walk, I inquired about his wife, and by the way he drew up short and looked at me, I knew I had said something wrong. "Oh, Renee', she passed away this summer." to which I replied, "I am so sorry...I did not know."
In my some 20 years of working in health care (dentistry, then PT), I have lost patients, which is to be expected. We all die eventually, right? It just took me by surprise and as we walked down the hall (tears running unashamedly down my face) , he shared with me how his wife had gotten ill and finally just couldn't fight anymore.
The thing about this couple is this; they were special people to me. They were open about being Christians and they both loved the Lord. You could see and feel the love they had for Him, for each other and for their fellow humans. As to the lady, who I will call Milly (not her real name, by the way) she was extra special. She had lost a leg as a young woman, but you would have never known, because she used her prosthesis so well you couldn't tell. She survived breast cancer and radical mastectomy....twice. In more recent years she developed multiple other health problems, yet every time I saw Milly, she had a smile on her face and I never heard her say a bad thing about anyone. She was genuinely loving and caring and never felt sorry for herself. I often thought of her in amazement that her faith was so strong that none of her circumstances seemed to get her down.
I often tell people that I have been called to this profession of caring for people because it keeps me from taking myself too seriously and prevents me from having my own pity parties. I see so many people who are challenged in life, that it reminds me that I have nothing to complain about. Oh, that more people could see some of what I see, that they could also realize how truly blessed they are!
I have no doubt that Milly is in heaven, whole and healthy, looking down on her family, waiting for the day they will join her. Nevertheless, I miss her, and will never forget her. You just never know what kind of impact you will make on others, but she definitely made one on me. I won't say good-bye, Milly; rather I will say, "See ya later"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Okay, so you've all heard me blathering on about my win in the CGOA design contest. This is a new photo of the dress hanging at the show...I still don't have a photo of the model wearing it yet. But it seems there is a wrong I need to make right. That's right...I have messed up! I was so excited about my win that I have slighted the model, Kimberly McAlindin, by misspelling her last name in my previous post. So, to make it up to her, I have created a new page on my website called "Industry Insider Interview". After further consideration, I am going to make this a new monthly feature on . So what are you waiting for? Go check it out!!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Grand Prize Winner CGOA Annual Design Contest!

So, I turned on my Computer Thursday evening to check my email. The first thing I saw was several posts had been put on Facebook, congratulating me. For what? Seems I won the Grand Prize in the Crochet Guild of America's annual design contest! I wasn't sure when the judging was taking place, so it took me by surprise, to say the least! Several folks have wanted to see pics, so I decided to blog about it and share.

Some people have asked how long I worked on my entry and did I design it specifically for the contest. I had actually entered the contest last year, but didn't win anything. Fortunately, Jean Lienhauser (who was last year's judge) agreed to give me a personal critique on my entry, which was very helpful. Before I left the conference, I had a good working concept of the next year's entry and actually bought all of the yarns for this dress before I left the market there.

The elements on the bodice were made from Berroco yarns, Seduce, Bonsai and Lumina and Prism Custom Dyed Yarns with a half-skein of Impressions in the Dune colorway, with a couple of other yarns thrown in for good measure (sorry, couldn't find the other yarn labels). The skirt is made of three skeins of Alpaca with a Twist's Fino, a 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk laceweight yarn. Yum!

I am told that Kimberly McClinden modeled my design when the winning entries were announced. It is my understanding that she WORE this dress! I also heard via Mary Beth Temple's podcast, Getting Loopy, that Mary Beth used double-sided tape to ensure that Kim would not have any embarrassing mishaps on the catwalk, if you know what I mean.

I hope everyone enjoys the pics. I would like to first thank the Good Lord for giving me the ability and the inspiration to create, my Mom for putting a hook in my hands all those years ago, and my husband for getting my entry in the mail in time to meet the deadline!!! Have a great weekend everyone and check out the links above for info on a couple of my designing associates, and of course, don't forget to visit me often at

Saturday, July 25, 2009

So long, Austin!

Well, it's my last day in Austin, Texas. After the conference ended around noon today, I walked the six or so blocks to a place I had scoped out on Tuesday called, "Wiki Wiki Teriyaki", where I had a bowl of Udon for lunch. If you aren't sure what udon is, it's a broth full of soba (buckwheat) noodles, veggies, and in this case, grilled tofu. It was pretty yummy. After that, my next mission was to return to Hill Country Weavers, as I needed one more ball of yarn to complete a project I had started. As most of my yarn loving friends know, it is very important to match the dye lots so the color is consistent. After that I got some iced tea (it is pretty hot out, after all) and sat at a table outside all of these little vending trailers. The building just the other side of this Airstream is actually the yarn store.

More of the vending trailers. Seems the SoCo area of Austin is very busy on Saturday with outdoor artists, street musicians and vendors. As mentioned in my previous post, SoCo is a very "artsy" section of Austin, and might I add, very colorful, both literally as well as figuratively, and is a great people watching venue.

This is the night time view from my hotel room...the man-made lights are pretty, but they still can't hold a candle to the lights the good Lord has made!
I've had a great time in Austin. Too bad CGOA or TNNA don't have a convention here, because it would be an awesome venue, and I would most definitely attend! Any of my fiber-loving friends have any pull in this area? Think about it....
I am off to pack my bags to head back for Arkansas in the morning! Take care & God Bless!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

For those of you who have been wondering what I have been up to lately, well...alot! As I write this I am in Austin, Texas, where it is about 101 degrees outside. That is why I am inside in the a/c! I spent some time yesterday after I arrived looking around town. It was only about 87 (a cool day in July in Austin, I am told) so I walked the seven blocks to the state capitol. Here is a pic of the dome, which is 14 feet higher than the the White House in Washington, D.C.
I took this shot at the top of the stairs before I climbed back down; just to show I really did climb all those steps! Okay, call me weird (you wouldn't be the first), but I adore unusual hardware; not the computer kind, but things like hinges, doorknobs, you know...hardware. These hinges are on the double doors leading into the Texas House of Representatives gallery. I thought they were pretty cool!

Here is the view walking up to the Capitol. It is a very beautiful walk and is lined with several memorial statues and fountains.
I also spent some time in the SoCo District, which is an artsy part of town. There is a very cool yarn store (you knew I would mention yarn somewhere, didn't you?) called Hill Country Weavers. If you are ever in Austin, they are located at 1701 S. Congress Avenue, and are very accessible via the Metro system.

This is something else I have been involved in lately with David. We have been trout fishing more and this is an 18" rainbow I caught a couple of weeks ago...the biggest rainbow I've caught to date, and probably one of the tastiest. And speaking of fishing, David was in a catfishing tournament last week on Lake Norfork. He caught the only two catfish that were caught, so obviously also had the largest...

Yep, this is the big one! That's right; it's in a coffee cup, in case you were wondering. I asked him how much he won for catching the largest catfish. He replied that he was disqualified, as he did not catch this monster with a rod and reel, but rather scooped him up...that, folks, is considered noodling, hence the disqualification! We turned this one and his/her little brother loose in our catfish pond to grow into real monsters.

And last, but certainly NEVER least, the grandbaby has been keeping me busy as well. I keep him once a week while Mom is in school. The other day we built him a tower and it kept him occupied for nearly an hour! Here he's playing peek-a-boo with me. Ain't he sweet?
I am working on some new patterns. Watch for some new designs coming out in the next "One Skein Wonders" book, Crochet World and Crochet! Magazine soon! Until next time, have a great summer!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Well, last weekend was alot of fun. I went to North Little Rock with my sister Angel and her friend Dani for the annual Greek Food Festival put on by the Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock, complete with dancing girls!
Here Angel is enjoying the falafels while Dani has a mouthful of pastitsio. Afterward, we went into the bazaar where I bought my assistant Tammy some "big fat Greek" earrings. Sorry, I didn't get a pic, but they had eyes on them; seems this is a common motif employed to ward off the "evil eye".

You are probably wondering how the bunnies are doing...they are growing more every day and mom no longer requires my assistance in rearing them. All I have to do now is feed and water them. Another week and they should be ready to wean! I bet Mama is about ready for that!

The other day the wild bee balm (also known as bergamot or oswego tea) was ready for harvest. I got three quart jars of dried bergamot for tea later when the weather gets chilly again. Of course, I left some behind so they could reseed for next year! Life in the hills is good! God provides a bountiful harvest for us round here! David says, "If we could eat ticks, we'd have it made!". Ugh! Don't think I would, even if I should! Til next time, keep those hooks and needles working!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Baby bunnies growing up!

Well, Godiva and family moved back to the barn Sunday afternoon. As I was still getting over the bronchitis, I was moving a little slower than normal, but I decided it was time. As you can see, the babies are growing.
They now have hair and as of today are 12 days old today. They have not yet opened their eyes, but I expect that to happen any time now! They are getting so big! And wiggly! Godiva stills seems a bit clueless about the whole mothering thing. I gave her 24 hours and checked to see if it looked like she was nursing them, which she evidently was not, so.....each evening I go out to the barn to provide a little "encouragement" (read I put her in the nest box so those babies can eat). I am also still having to take care of their toileting needs! I am looking forward to that day that they can attend to their own "toilette" independently! I have been advised that when the babies are a bit bigger that I should breed her one more time this season. The only thing will be finding homes for the babies when they are weaned. Any of my fiber artists friends in the market for a french angora bunny? There's nothing like blending a little angora in with other favorite? Alpaca and angora (about a 90/10% blend) is fabulous!
The babies are too small to figure you yet which are boys and which are girls. One is jet black, one is chocolate brown (like Godiva) and the other three are called "Broken Black" which is basically black and white. The runt of the litter is about 2/3rds the size of the largest babies, which are the black and brown. As they get bigger, I will try and get pictures of the individuals, so you guys can start thinking about names!
Remember to visit the website often to see what else I am up to!
Have a blessed day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

So...many of you have heard of "Baby Mama"? Meet "Bunny Mama". This is Lady Godiva {so named because 1.) she is a Chocolate bunny and I adore Godiva Chocolate, and 2.) she (normally) has long flowing hair. } She is suffering the effects of a really bad haircut, because when an angora has babies, it is most prudent to cut off the aforementioned long flowing hair, so that the babies don't get all tangled in the hair.
Anyway, I expected her to kindle (that's what it's called when Bunny Mama has her babies) on Saturday or so, but when I got home on Friday night, she was in the process. Unfortunately, Godiva is a first time parent, so she really didn't understand that the nice box in her cage was there for her to pull some nice soft hair and create a cozy nest for her little bundles of joy. She was having them on the wire. And they were very cold, but still moving save one poor little bunny that was already dead. I quickly gathered them up and made a nest for them. 20 or 30 minutes later I went back to the barn and discovered another little guy on the wire. So I took both mama and baby back to the house where I could watch for any more little surprises and everyone (including me) could stay warm and cozy.
All told, we got 5 out of 6 babies, and this is them tonight. So far, with a little help from me (Bunny Nanny), Mama is learning how to care for her babies. She will let them nurse with a little encouragement. They are fat and sassy and seem to be thriving so far. Lucky for me, bunnies only nurse once or twice a day, so after my 10 hours at work all day and my 1 1/2 hour commute, I can still make sure that the babies are being well nourished. Another interesting fact I have learned is that baby bunnies evidently don't go to the bathroom without their mama's licking their little bottoms. It seems this stimulates them and allows Mama to keep the next clean. Mama isn't doing this. Before you ask, no, I am not either...not really. A little warm moist cosmetic wipe is the closest thing I can provide! There are 3 spotted babies, one solid black and one lovely silver grey. When they get a little bigger, I will likely need a little help naming them...hopefully you guys can help! I may have to think about a naming contest or something. Maybe the grand prize could be a skein of handspun angora yarn?!?!?!
I will keep posting updates as the babies get bigger. Hope you are all well and enjoying spring!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

spinning class a success!

Spinning class was a resounding success today. Here are my students Sherri and Sara making yarn! They each were able to spin and ply a few yards of Jacob wool yarn to take home. They each left with enough wool to spin a couple of ounces of yarn as well as some other fiber freebies I sent home with them to experiment. Sara says when she comes for open work night on Thursday, she is bringing her spindle instead of her knitting. Be careful, Sara, it's very, very addictive!!!

Here are just a few of my handspun yarns that I take to class for my students to look at so they can see what they can make. Spinning yarn is fun and it's great to be able to make it however you want it! Mixed in amongst the yarn are several items made with handspun as well. You are looking at wool, alpaca, silk, llama, bamboo, and more!
On another note, my latest design is out in this month's issue of Crochet World. It is the Lovely Ruffles Shawl and CW did a great job photographing it. It will be posted a little later on the website. To look at my other designs, go to . Whatever your fiber passion, have a fun time with it and have a great weekend!
Crochet Renee'

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Well, it was 20 degrees outside this morning, but if you look around, you can see signs of spring.

The cyclamen is peeking through the snow....

The daffodils are blooming.....

And the spring lambs are arriving! So far, 3 ewes have had twins, so the lamb count is up to 6 right now, with one or two more ewes still pregnant. I say one or two because there is a yearling ewe that may or may not be expecting...time will tell. The lamb on the left was feeling a little frisky and decided to do a little dance for the camera!
Another three weeks til the official start of spring!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Yes Sir, Yes Sir, three bags full...

Yesterday we took advantage of the nice weather and did a little sheep shearing. We wound up with two beautiful fleeces which we listed on ebay. One was VERY soft and I was tempted to keep it to spin for myself, but I already have so much fiber in my studio I could probably open my own yarn store! This young wether (whom I am calling Lamb Chops; you country folks will understand...) was pretty cooperative until we got ready to shear his belly.

I am finalizing my book proposal package for Storey Publishing for my book about crocheting with natural fibers, so there is likely to be at least one project made from Dad's sheep. They are a primitive breed known as Jacob's sheep. They derive their name from the Bible, where in Genesis Jacob agrees to manage his father in law's livestock in exchange for all of the spotted sheep and striped cattle. God then tells Jacob how to tip the odds in his favor, and before long, Jacob owned more sheep and cattle than Laban! Kinda made up for that bait and switch that Laban pulled on Jacob when Jacob thought he was working for Rachel's hand in marriage and wound up with the sister! Just goes to show, what goes around, comes around....

Hope everyone is staying warm and safe! God Bless!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Well Folks, we are surviving the icy blast. We are much more fortunate than many in Arkansas, since we didn't have any damage to our home, nor did our family. We are campers from way back, and like the song says, "Country folks can survive"! We easily got an inch of ice on EVERYTHING. There's the love of my life clearing our driveway. He also cleared the neighbor's driveway AND singlehandedly cleared the county road we live on. He is a handy fella to have around!

The ice can be as beautiful as it can be troublesome and dangerous.

This is one of the (many, many) trees that we will have to cut down around our home. Tuesday night was eerie, the woods around us sounded like a war zone with all the popping and crashing of tree tops and limbs all night long. The good Lord kept us all safe, however, and for that I am very grateful!
The upside of all this ice is that I have had A LOT of crocheting time!!!
Stay warm, ya'll!!!
Crochet Renee'