Category Archives: Community

Crochet At Cama 2010 Memories


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Filed under Community, crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Education, Events

The 2011 Flamies Crochet Awards Live in Georgetown, TX!


The Crochet Liberation Front’s Annual Flamies Crochet Awards are coming live to Georgetown, TX April 18th, with classes from Crochet Liberation Front founder, Laurie Wheeler and designer Karen Whooley in the Austin area all weekend. This is part of what’s been keeping me busy lately!   😀  I’m really excited!  Some of you are probably going to wonder what all this is about, so I’ll try to explain and tell a bit of the story.  Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com to register for the event though!

What on earth did Julia get involved with? 

Well, here’s the back story – as told by me!

If you’re here, then you already know I’m a crochet designer/artist. My main work is in the arena of One of a Kinds (OOAK).  And though each year I tend to make mainly what I’m asked to (more hats than anything else), I don’t really align myself with any one specific crochet medium either.  Clothing, throws, jewelry, miniature, free-form or tapestry crochet (not to mention my fascination for spider webs and love of hook carving) – whatever catches my whim is what I work on.

I have one main rule, that crochet is a love for me and it’s gotta stay fun, because honestly, that’s where the creativity comes in.  If my heart and passion isn’t in it, then frankly, it won’t be nearly as good and I don’t want to burn out on something that I find largely meditative and expressive.  It’s one of the few escapes I can take with me just about anywhere.  So no – I don’t really want to lose that.  The fact that my crochet creations ever turned into something people were interested in buying was a complete surprise to me and as far as I’m concerned it’s a bonus.  Like any art, you have to do it for love, in spite of everything else.  I crochet whether anyone buys it or whether I donate it for cancer or not, and so if someone loves what I make enough to buy it, kudos to me for being able to justify my obsessions.  I say we all have a “madness” or two of some sort, and crochet just happens to be one of mine.  All that being said, no where in all my talk about loving the creative process am I supporting under-valuing one’s work, time or expertise.  Better believe I charge for my skill and time.  I’ll save more about this sad occurrence of under-valuation for a future blog post.

“What is the Crochet Liberation Front – some sort of hook wielding terrorist organization?”

I hear such comments from time to time when I mention The Crochet Liberation Front.  And I just chuckle, because it’s nothing of the sort and all in fun.

There was a time it would never have occurred to me to look for crocheters online.  Largely because I’m not a joiner by nature.  Oh I’m social, but just not into memberships and clubs much.  I spent a lot of time at shows lecturing and demoing about crochet and expanding the horizons of the masses when it came to the possibilities of crochet.  Some of you met me that way.  Maker Faire Austin was my absolute favorite experience, setting up a nook for kids and adults to just hang out to learn and crochet or finger knit with each other.  I was there both years it came to Austin and really missed it when it couldn’t come back.  That perfectly suited my personality, being absorbed by the simple joy of making.  No labels, no judgments, no “right” way. (I’m really not into drama and politics. As far as I’m concerned it gets in the way of true creative joy.)

However, three years ago I found a group that worked for my individualistic personality.  I became a member of the Crochet Liberation Front (CLF) about six months after it began, helping to promote and preserve the last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by machine.  They shared the same passion for innovation and preservation I already had and I found friendly camaraderie without expectation or labels.  I had spent a lot of time feeling like a lonely voice when it came to education and pushing the boundaries of expectations in crochet.  It was amazing to find others “like me.”  How could I not?

At its heart and intention, the CLF is a bunch of crocheters who just want to have fun, complete with a sense of humor to go along with it.  We do however seek to broaden the horizons in our industry, and promote the beauty and innovation present everywhere in crochet.  Many of us have felt general dissatisfaction with attitudes, industry dynamics, treatment of crochet designers and patterns available, especially in the US.  I’m not super in touch with the common industry at large because it usually fails to supply much of anything innovative, technical or unusual enough for my tastes. Not to mention the fact that I do not use patterns. And besides, after all, I AM Aberrant Crochet and it wouldn’t be much in keeping with my personality to be keeping step with the Jones. That makes me a little different, because personally, if everyone else is doing it, I’m much less interested.  Even if I started it.  Seriously, if the world starts obsessing over crochet spider webs, I will be the first to lose interest.

However, all that being said, even I have noticed what seems to me an odd perception that crochet is only beautiful if it’s from somewhere else, like Russia.  As if the only thing that exists in the US are granny squares, shawls and doilies.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a very healthy respect for the history of crochet and its development.  And granny squares, etc. can be awesome.  However there is so much more to our fiber art.  And I know I don’t appreciate being pigeon-holed as to what my art is supposed to look like.  If you’ve seen photos of my work, you can totally get where I’m coming from.  I’m pretty proud of the fact that customers at shows so often marvel at my creations and the fact that they never thought crochet “could look or feel that way.”  Education at its finest!

Die-hard crocheters seek to preserve this art and promote its continued genius and development.  Crochet is the very last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by machine.  At all.  Not one iota (yet).  I kid you not.  Google “crochet machine” and you will find machines made in China that knit a chain, but they use the term “crochet” interchangeably.  However, crochet is purely and always created by a hand and a hook.  No machines.  There is always a cap on just how much one pair of hands can create at any one time.  Even that mass produced crochet you see at the store?  All of it was created with a human hand and a hook, and all too often by children.  (I’ll save the subject of repetitive motion injuries in children for yet another blog post.)  You can see a bit of where our passion for our craft comes from.

OK, what’s the deal about the “Flamies?” How does that fit in with crochet? Did it simply catch fire?

The Flamies” are a grass-roots (I almost typed a grass-fire!) style annual crochet awards that we started some three years ago, and their popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. The CLF itself was started somewhat as a joke by Laurie Wheeler (we call her Fearless Leader), looking to provide a fun home for crocheters around the world to commune, talk shop and celebrate crochet. Something different and outside of the usual boxes available to folks out there.  And BOY do we have fun! Well, the group took off.   And not too long after, due to disenchantment with the yarn industry’s lack of support or celebration for innovative crochet (in the US in particular), it was decided to create our own awards – the Flamies.

The Flamies, you ask? Umm, yeah. Kind of a long story, but it’s a reference to the Flaming Crochet Hook of Justice, which has been waved liberally over the years.  And yes  – the Flamies are a nod of fun to the Emmys and Grammys as well.  In fact, my tapestry crochet charted pattern for my Flaming Crochet Hook design was published in the Crochet Liberation Front: First Ever Book.

Long story short, a bunch of us decided to stop waiting for the industry to provide what we wanted and we began creating it ourselves. We even created our own crochet awards.  And you know what happened? IT TOOK OFF! Today, yarn companies, magazines and designers are competing for the Flamie crochet awards and this year a whopping 30,000+ turned out for voting! The winners will be announced live this year!  Talk about becoming the change that you seek in the world! 

The Landmark Tavern - Georgetown, TX

The event? It’s happening a bit on the fly, but the Flamies are coming LIVE to Georgetown on Monday, April 18th. The editor of Interweave Crochet magazine, and designers from both coasts are flying in for this event, including Mary Beth Temple from Getty Loopy, along with Fearless Leader kicking off her US Tour here in Texas! Nothing like this has ever been done in our niche industry before. It might be just crochet to everyone else, but this is big for us!

Tickets are being sold to the live event held at the Landmark Tavern, (wonderful neighborhood wine bar) on the Georgetown Square where we will have a red-carpet event with photographers, April 18th 7-11pm. And I’m so lucky it’s right here practically in my own back yard.  If you want to come and hang out with crochet creative types (you don’t have to crochet, but you must be friendly), it’s $25 a ticket which includes a drink ticket and snacks.

This is a semi-formal event! Wear your best crochet if you have it! If not, wear your favorite fiber thing!  We’ll be walking the red carpet at The Landmark, so it’s a chance to dress-up. Businesses also have the opportunity to buy tickets to this events in blocks. For a minimum of 5 tickets, the price drops to $20 per ticket.  Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com for more details on registration for the event and about the CLF in general.

I hope we’ll see you there!


Calendar of Weekend Events:

April 16: 11am‐ 2pm Meet & Greet in Georgetown, Texas at Dukes BBQ (right on north bound I35): This is a family friendly event, free for crocheters to attend to meet up, admire each others’ crochet and organize local meetings and relationships. We’re expecting a lot of people to attend this event.

April 16: 7‐9pm Fearless Leader & Friend’s soiree at The Knitting Nest in Austin, Texas.
A more adult evening of wine and song. Promoting all that is crochet in one of the leading yarn destinations in Texas. So far at least 25 people confirmed.

April 18: 7‐11pm The Flamies LIVE! Red carpet event in Georgetown, Texas at the Landmark Tavern (a gorgeous wine bar). This year’s awards ceremony will take place as per tradition on the Getting Loopy Podcast with Mary Beth Temple, and at the live event which will be web cast so the millions of crochet fanatics around the globe can see the best of the best! Party goers will receive a drinks ticket, nibbles, goody bags and prizes! We have room for 120 guests!

Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com for more details on registration for the event and about the CLF in general.

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A Day of Knitting and Crocheting with Alpaca!


Photos from my visit to Peaceful Prairie Ranch an alpaca ranch in Prescott Valley, AZ.

I met Emily at Debra’s Christmas party at A Good Yarn and she invited me to tag along with the Prescott Knitters (Ravelry group) on Sunday to visit the alpaca farm. As I mentioned to folks along the way during my visit that I had new plans to visit an alpaca farm Sunday, I received a lot of incredulous replies along the line of: “There’s an alpaca farm in Prescott?! I didn’t know that!” Well, so I made a point of spreading the news. 😀

The Prescott Knitters Ravelry group was real friendly and an all round awesome group of folks. If you’re in the area, you can drop by and join their knit-ins (whether you knit or not) confident that you will have a great time! Trust me, whenever we go back, I’ll be checking to see what the Prescott Knitters are up to and working it into my schedule! Big hugs and thanks to Emily, Capi and the others who made sure I felt welcome. More about Capi and the gorgeous crochet hook she gave me later.

Wendy, the awesome owner of Peaceful Prairie ranch, carries roving for felting as well as spinning, as well as a lovely variety of spun fibers for knitting, crochet and whatever other crafts you might need yarn for. I’ve ordered what turned out to be bad baby alpaca before, which has left me shy to order any online ever again. In fact I still have a whole box of lace weight “baby” alpaca that feels like super thick rug yarn, and not at all something you’d want against your skin. I haven’t yet decided what to do with it, though I imagine I’ll get creative and come up with something.

But let me tell you, Peaceful Prairie’s alpaca products are top notch and after being able to listen to Wendy talk about her passion, see and feel the fibers, even in various stages, not to mention experience her top notch customer service, I’m convinced whole-heartedly in ordering from her online anytime! Her husband Dave was also cordial and helped make us all feel at home even while Wendy was busy.

Wendy also helped me purchase a gorgeous green baby alpaca with my credit card since I was there for a trip and not local. A little awkward since it needed to be done through Paypal, but she made it work so I could shop and I really wanted that green baby alpaca hank. It’s soooo super soft! I’ve included a photo of it here too. Whatever I make with it, I expect to be mine this time. I haven’t settled on what just yet. Leaning toward a cowl though. I’m really grateful and my experience with these lovely people only added to the pile of amazing things that became a part of my trip to Prescott.

Thanks y’all, from the bottom of my heart. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Enjoying a Crafty Party at A Good Yarn


Debra’s hosting a Christmas party at her store, A Good Yarn, in Prescott, AZ. We’re all enjoying knitting and crocheting together.

Here’s a photo of what I’m working on at the moment and you can see more photos of the shop and group below.
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Debra has a new partner this year who carries weaving fibers and supplies. Carma runs the weaving portion. Her prices are awesome and the quality is fantastic. I’ve purchased some wonderful fibers from her by the ounce.

I just have to say that between my two trips to Prescott, AZ, my visits to A Good Yarn are among my favorites amongst the yarn stores that I have visited in my travels. Not only is everyone friendly, and I mean customers, staff and all, but she has an incredibly nice selection in my opinion of less than common fibers. And high quality fibers. And more fibers per foot of store space that I want to work with than most places I’ve walked into. And I love that she carries uncommon buttons too!

I have also overheard her on the phone with customers for private orders and such and just have to say, her and her partners’ customer service is just awesome. She’s really helpful, professional in all her dealings, obviously goes the extra mile and yet, her “knit pit” has the feel of visiting the comfort of someone’s home. There’s no fireplace, but I easily imagined one nearby while sitting on her couch and working along with everyone else. Cozy indeed!

If you’re in the area, definitely stop in and see Debra at A Good Yarn. Tell her you read about her on my blog and extend a healthy howdy from me.

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A Good Yarn in Prescott, AZ

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Donations Needed for Local Hospital….


I’m helping to coordinate an effort to gather clothing for the emergency room at South Austin Hospital. They are mostly in need of men’s, but could use some women’s. Clothing often has to be cut off of the injured and especially when they are homeless, they are in need of donations to give patients a set of clothes to leave in. As their donation closet is currently fairly empty and the other night they had no shirt for someone in need, I decided to help. Size large or even some XL is best and fairly generic clothing is best, like jeans or sweat pants and t-shirts. And again, they need men’s clothing the most. Let me know if you want to help and let’s coordinate.

Thanks!

Blessings,
Jules

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Filed under 'Tis the Season, Community

When Someone Goes Beyond Courtesy to Kindness….


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Yesterday was a busy day. I had a customer to meet to deliver two custom hats for. It was actually a bit of a drive for me. He was a return customer, though, and for that thanks, I was happy to meet him closer to his home. And I knew he was studying for finals all day as well, so it’d be hard for him to take off a lot of time just to pick up his order. Dear hubby kept the kids so I could take care of business. And besides, it gave me an excuse to go by Central Market.

When I got to the Starbucks we were to meet at, my customer was nowhere to be found and I hadn’t realized my cell phone was dead. To make matters worse, the cigarette lighter in my car is broken. (And I mean broken.) So there’s no way to charge my phone on the run.

So I talked to an employee at Starbucks to see if there was a phone I could borrow. He said they didn’t have a public phone, but to check out the AT&T store.

When I walked in to AT&T Mobility, down on the corner of 45th and Lamar, a sales support rep named Sajid Sanchez was there to greet me immediately. I explained that the folks at the coffee shop had sent me over to see if I could borrow a phone. He immediately said, “Sure! Use any demo phone on the walls.” I was grateful. Especially since I’d just realized that my customer’s number was actually a long distance number. Never matters on my cell phone, but would have mattered had I borrow a land line.

I managed to make my call. My customer was so busy studying that he forgot the time and said he’d be right over in a few minutes. I hung up relieved that I hadn’t driven 30 minutes just to turn around and go back home.

I thanked Mr. Sanchez for the loan of the phone and explained that I really did appreciate it since I was due to meet a customer and my own cell phone was dead. “Well,” he said, “What kind of phone is it? Perhaps we can charge it up for you here.”

I hesitated, wondering if this would turn into a hard sell to buy an AT&T phone. “Well,” I said, “It’s a Sprint phone….”

And that’s where Mr. Sanchez surprised me. “No matter, let’s see if we can try charging it anyway,” he said.

Mr. Sanchez proceeded to try several jacks around the store. Then he even raided through a box of oddball chargers they had stored away in a closet, trying out each one, looking to see if one of them might help charge up my phone a bit so I’d have a little juice at least for a little while. He was very polite and professional and not once did he say anything about buying a phone or switching my service.

In the end, there wasn’t a charger he could find to help me, and I needed to get back to the coffee shop to meet my customer. But I appreciated, none-the-less, that he went above and beyond. And I really don’t think it had anything to do with the season either.

I wasn’t even an AT&T customer. I’ve never had any cell service other than Sprint. But here was someone, even in a sales environment where time really can be money, who stopped and offered the time to see if he could help me out. With no strings attached. That to me really stands out. That’s the way business is supposed to be. When you focus on helping others, the rest just falls into place. And as a small business owner who knows a little something about sales, I really appreciate it too. So I went back over, after making my delivery, and asked Sajid for his business card so I could blog about his customer service and share this story with you.

So folks, if you might be in the need for a new phone or service, perhaps you might want to talk to Sajid Sanchez over at AT&T Mobility on the corner of 45th and Lamar in Austin, TX. I was very impressed with his professionalism and I’m sure you will be too. The main number there is: 512.879.8156.

Oh and hey, if you do decide to call or come by and check them out, please tell them that you read my blog post about Mr. Sanchez. I think his superiors ought to know they have a valuable employee. It would be a wonderful gift to him if you said a kind word on his behalf too.

So thanks again Mr. Sanchez – and Merry Christmas!

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Filed under 'Tis the Season, Community, Inspiration, Random Thoughts