Our 3-day trip to Quartzsite was great. We drove down on Thursday, while Rachel and Addison flew into Phoenix, rented a car, and then drove to Blythe - the closest town of any size- beating us to the hotel by about an hour. Quartzsite is an open-air swap meet -supposedly the biggest in the world - gem and mineral show, and flea market held in January and February each year.
We missed out on the big show (Jan 14-26) and most of the gem/mineral people had already decamped to Tucson, but there were still enough vendors to make the trip worthwhile.

Marie with a "small" piece of amethyst.

We spent time at 3 or 4 separate venues, each with anywhere from 50 to several hundred vendors, in addition to visiting several stores. Our favorite area was Tyson Wells, where this old cactus served as our landmark for meet-ups. Addy was fascinated with it, even more so after we spotted a mama dove nesting in one of its many large holes.

While the big kids shopped for gemstones (found some good deals), old watches (nope), rocks, beads, minerals (oh yeah, brought back tons of those) and jewelry, Addy and I walked and talked and played. We even had our own tailgate party, eating Ritz crackers and drinking grape soda, while watching the big trucks drive by and talking about why cactus had thorns. This place was little kid heaven - lots of dirt and rocks to kick around, mud to stomp in, non-breakable things to touch, trinkets to talk grandma into buying, and dogs of all sizes, shapes and colors. Addy's very favorite thing on our walks was to ask people 'what's your dog's name?' She also amassed a sizable collection of rocks and beads that various people gave her. My favorite Addy quote - after being told that she could touch an entire table of rocks (non-breakable!!), Addy clasped her hands to her chest, sighed and said "That makes my heart glad." My reaction (and the reaction of the grandparents in the next booth who overheard her) was 'so adorable.'
Even with the time difference - Blythe and Quartzsite are 30 miles apart but in different time zones- we got a full day and a half of shopping in before Rachel and Addy had to leave
for the airport today at 2.
The best shot from the Addy-Cam; it's interesting to see the view from her level.

We're already planning next year's trip, this time to Tucson. Bigger, better gem and mineral shows! Can't wait.


Proud Teacher

I love teaching others to crochet - and I really love when they have FO's to show off. I taught my niece Breanne to crochet several years ago. She did a couple of things and then put it away. I thought she'd given it up until yesterday when I received this photo - That's Garrett, holding the shawl Breanne crocheted for his mother. I'm so proud. Didn't she do good?

About a year ago I taught a shawl class based on a pineapple doily pattern. It was a complicated project and most in the class never finished their wrap. But last Tuesday, one student brought in her completed shawl.
It's hard to tell in these pix, but the yarn - Blue Heron's Metallic Rayon - has a subtle sparkle. And Laura's *very* tight gauge worked really well with this yarn. I thought the colors would be too busy with this pattern. Wrong. It's drop-dead gorgeous and has a soft, flattering drape. I offered to block this for Laura, since she doesn't have a blocking board - and since it gave me a chance to get a couple of photos to show off. My self-appointed assistant, Lily - ended up getting booted and locked out of my studio shortly after this. Seems someone likes pulling out the t-pins I use to hold the shawl in place. And then chasing them around the room. Yeah, just what I need - sharp pointy objects hiding in the carpet.Someone is quite a pain in the b*** for being so cute.


Shawl FO

Blocked, photographed and done. The second of my '10 Shawls in 2010'.**As you can probably tell from the photos, this thing is BRIGHT. It'll be great for rainy, overcast, dreary days. Just looking at it cheers me up. The pattern is Clapochet, made with 3 skeins of Crystal Palace's 'Mini Mochi' yarn*, and a G/4.5mm crochet hook. I modified the original pattern by increasing for 17 rows (instead of 13) to make it shawl-sized rather than a scarf. (Link to project on Ravelry here.)After blocking, my shawl measures approx. 18" wide by 68" long. Love the texture, color and drape. I think I'll get a lot of use out of this shawl.

*Mini Mochi warning: Love the color and feel of Mini Mochi and 2 out of 4 skeins were great. The third started with a knot just a few yards in, then segued to wiry and dramatically overspun; a huge blob of unspun fiber; another knot; and finally mis-matched spun fibers that gave the yarn a 'barber pole' effect and a totally different color from the first 2 skeins.
At that point, I took it back to my LYS for an exchange. It was so obviously bad that quality control should have spotted and yanked it out of the production line; it should never have made it to a yarn shop. The 4th skein - the replacement skein - was better than the 3rd but still overspun and wiry in spots.

** Want to see something amazingly beautiful? Check out all the knit and crochet shawls that have been completed in January here. Gorgeous!


Almost Done

My second shawl for 10 Shawls in 2010 is done and blocking. I ran out of yarn with 7 rows to go; thought about waiting until Tuesday when my favorite LYS opens to buy another skein but decided to riiiiiiiip back instead. Took out about 20 rows - painstakingly since Mini Mochi sticks to itself very well - then re-crocheted them. Much happier now that it's done, plus I didn't add more yarn to my stash. Hooray for stash-busting and wearing colorful shawls.


Books by the Pound

I've put myself on a yarn-diet for the new year - trying to use up some of my stashed yarn before I buy any more. Since I'm not drooling shopping at yarn sites I've had more time to check out books and patterns . . . which has lead to lots a few of them following me home.

This is the first Japanese crochet book I've ever purchased.
The patterns are all charted - fortunately for me - and most are gorgeous. There are at least 6 things in here I want to make immediately.

And this - is my 13-pound treasure.
Almost dropped the package when it was delivered yesterday, it was so surprisingly heavy. A two-volume treasury of handwoven, overshot coverlets that was half off its usual $160 price. How could I resist? Can not wait to dive into this one.


Up On The Roof

Looks like it's my week for 60's songs. And not in a good way this time. Went into my craft room this morning and heard the tippy-tap of little raindrops - inside, all over my cabinets, books, and YARN STASH. Turns out that yesterday's winds blew part of the roof covering off, leaving the under-bits exposed to today's rain and hail. Lucky Dick - with his able assistant, Marie - got to climb up there with a tarp and some sandbags. Hopefully that will keep out the worst of the water until this series of storms subsides.

Have you ever noticed that blue tarps are seldom the sign of something good?

On a more positive note, Leia is visiting for the second day this week. I finished another Goody Gumdrop hat last night with hopes that it would fit her and she would like it.
No on both counts. It's a little too tight and Leia couldn't get it off her head fast enough. This is the only (almost) in-focus shot I got of her wearing the hat. The rest are like this one - hat rejection in progress. Oh, well. It'll make a good charity hat.


It Never Rains In So. California

But when it does, man it pours! I'm sure people in areas that get real weather are laughing, but for us, this is major weather. It rained for almost 24 hours straight, dropping 1.5 - 2" of the wet stuff, and leaving the streets and yards flooded. The good news is as soon as the rain stops, the water drains rapidly off into the ocean - the even better news is at least 3 more storms are on their way and should drop another 2-6" of H2O. After all the years of drought, we really need this.

So what do you do when it's a school holiday and too wet to go outside? You watch TV, all wrapped up snug and warm on the couch.
And you help get your sister ready to go to the (packed!) movies to see 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' - which was nowhere near as annoying as I thought it would be. Naia loved it and Leia sat still only when there was singing. Good thing for me - since I was holding Miss Squirm Worm - that there was lots of singing.


Clapping Along

Making steady progress on the Clapochet shawl and should have it done by my goal date of February 1. I'm most of the way through skein #2 and the shawl is just over 36" long; I think the 3 skeins I have will be enough to finish it. Really didn't want to buy another one since one of my goals this year is to use up stash.

The handspun knit shawl is also progressing
and it's going much faster, now that I've switched from 'throwing' to 'picking' (Continental knitting), despite the "help" I get from Lily. She's discovered yarn in a big way and believes that every little piece needs her seal of approval. Good thing she's so cute. . . . I took the shawl off the needles and put it on waste yarn (the pink stuff in the photo below) to check out the size and appearance. The arms are supposed to be long enough to wrap around and tie behind your body; definitely have a ways to go yet. It's not perfect but it's my first knit shawl and I love it.


Punked Out

I'm blaming this on Rachel. She told Dick about Steampunk, which basically supposes where we'd be if the world relied on steam power rather than electricity. You can get more of an idea of the genre in pictures found here.

Guess who loved the idea? Dick has been buying old watch parts, gears, and small gem stones, with the idea of making steampunk jewelry.

It's hard to photograph the tiny, intricate details.

This one's mine. Wait until you see what he's making for Rachel and Marie.


Shawls 2010

My next two shawls are on the hook and needle. This one - is knit with my handspun from Kay's Tess D'Urbervilles Shawl pattern. It's garter stitch with increases on the sides and in the center. Very basic, but very warm shawl, with just a touch of glitz and sparkle in the yarn.

Even though I'm not even half done with the knit shawl, I had to have something on the hook; it makes me antsy not to have a crochet project ready and waiting. This one -
is Clapochet, a crochet version of the knit Clapotis, made with Mini Mochi, a sock-weight yarn. I'm making this bigger than the original pattern, going for shawl-sized, rather than scarf-sized. I'm one skein into this and have two more waiting in the stash, but I may have to buy an additional skein to get this as big as I want. It still counts as stash busting though.


Ladybuggy Boots

When we were at the outlet malls last week, Dick spotted a pair of kid's red ladybug rain boots (like these but we paid a *lot* less) and had to have them for Addy.

Off they went to Colorado and on Friday I received this photo as a 'thank you' -

Dress-up Addy

and today I got this one as an 'I really love these boots and I'm never taking them off'.
Addy plays super hero in her magic ladybug boots

Very pleased with our spur-of-the-moment purchase.