In a pinch: Needle protector

What crafter doesn’t have wine in the house?

cork needle protectors

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Safer already

Most security grills for windows feel too much like prison bars.  We needed to secure some windows in our house and thought of designing our own in metal. Instead of getting out the welding kit and torch, Dan laser cut a Chicago skyline and installed it outside the windows.   I love our new downtown view!





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Something quick

With too many projects and very little time, I kept putting off a baby shower gift until the last minute (not unlike many knitters and crocheters!).  I was relying on Bernat Baby Blanket super bulky #6 yarn and a size P hook to quickly crochet up a baby blanket.

Once again, it was down to the wire. I frantically weaved in the ends in the car on the way to the shower,  wrapped the blanket in tissue paper and tossed it in a party bag!

01_baby shower blanket

My only disappointment was that the granny square pattern had many holes that normally are not recommended for baby blankets.  I should have known better. In the end, the recipient, my niece (her baby due at the end of August), loved the final product.

What is your favorite last minute gift.


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Lily Chin

Lily Chin demonstrating how steaming can add drape to stiff yarn

The Crochet Guild of America’s Chain Link conference was held in Chicago this year, well, in the northwest suburb of Itasca.  It was a special treat to experience a conference dedicated to just crochet.

I was thrilled to learn that Lily Chin was teaching What to Look For In a Yarn and (crochet) Tips & Tricks. I first met Lily in 2007 when I attended a knitting retreat at an Indianapolis yarn store.  Lily has found a solution for many knit and crochet’s little annoyances, from how to rid the gaps at the end of the row to avoiding casting on 250 chains. She has an enthusiastic teaching style, and most of all, a fabulous sense of humor.

Below are my favorite “Lily-isms.”  What is the funniest thing a teacher has taught you?


Yarn StashKnitting Mistakes
Red Heart Yarn

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Inevitable (adj), certain to happen

Someone just asked me if it is inevitable that my (3yo) daughter will be a knitter. Your thoughts?


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Spin of Door County


On a recent trip to Door County I visited Spin yarn store, Sturgeon Bay, WI.  The store owner bought and refurbished the building. The building’s first 50 years housed the Bank of Sturgeon Bay.  Its next 50 years it was an insurance company.  Since the early 2000’s, it been a yarn shop.

The store was easily 3,000 plus square feet and carried many great brands like Rowan, Berroco, Noro and Sirdar. In the second room of the store was a large table with a wall of yarn and a wall of books.  The third room was a classroom that included a larger table, and a small area with a couch and comfy chairs.

The ceilings at least 12 feet high with original tiles. Other details included the decorative window panes and lite above the door. The building still has the alarm box attached to the exterior.

The bank vault was intact and was safe keeping the lace yarn.

Spin is a very charming yarn store. I love the attention to detail and uniqueness. Moreover, I was lucking enough to visit the weekend of their yarn sale!

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Lady Liberty: An Inspiration to Immigrants


Many front yards have potted plants, a goose or a gazing globe. For the 4th of July, many folks fly a flag. Not Dan, nope. He has bigger and better ideas!

Dan designed a Statue of Liberty sculpture in opposition of the recent U.S. travel ban. After weeks of designing, Dan first laser cuts a smaller prototype of his sculpture.


The final design was cut on a ShopBot carved on MDF board.  Dan never really appreciated “The New Colossus” sonnet until he ended up reading it a hundred times as he prepared the pedestal for the engraving process. He found the full context much more striking than the few words that are regularly recited.

Statue of Liberty.

A few coats of paint and a gold leaf flame later, and Dan’s tribute to Lady Liberty was complete.

Statue of Liberty.

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Woom, woom…

Laser cut needle gauge
Laser cutters have come along way since its induction in manufacturing in the mid-1960’s. Today’s CNC machines are smaller, lighter and more affordable.  Moreover, they can read just about any vector base file.

To commemorate World Wide Knit in Public (WWKIP) day, I designed at simple knitting needle gauge using Adobe Illustrator.

A needle gauge can be made of metal, plastic or wood, and is used to determine the size of a knitting needle.  Most knitting needles have the size imprinted on them, but over time and use, it often wears off.  Needle gauge are an integral part of a knitter’s arsenal.

Needle gauges

The biggest challenge was creating accurate size holes for which the needles need to passed through to determine their size.  Thankfully (and not surprisingly) I own just about every needle size available so testing the final product was easy.

Needle gauges

My husband was in charge of “printing” my design. After a few trial and errors in various materials, the final product was completed in birch plywood and polished with linseed oil. The WWKIP attendees loved them! This small project has inspired me to explore and design other knitting tools.

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In a pinch: Stitch markers

No stitch markers? Don’t be sheepish. Check your key chain for rings.

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City of Chicago Small Business Center on the Road.
This past Saturday was the City of Chicago’s Small Business Development Center Expo at the South Shore Cultural Center. The expo consisted of about 40 exhibitors that included anything from financial information, to tax and legal clinics, to zoning information.  One valuable service provided was free headshot by a professional photographer which include services by a hair and make-up artist.

The Expo offered several free workshops. The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) offered a workshop on developing a business plan. Fifth Third Bank and ACCION presented information for accessing capital, and Blue Top Marketing offered a workshop on Facebook marketing.  I wanted to attend all of them, but unfortunately the workshops  occurred simultaneously.

Maya-Camille Broussard, founder of Justice of the Pies, was the guest speaker. Maya-Camille started Justice of the Pies in honor of her late father. Her father was a self-proclaimed “Pie Master”, in addition to a criminal defense attorney. Maya-Camille wanted to recognize her father’s passion for baking and, professionally, his hard work & belief that everyone deserves a second chance.

City of Chicago Small Business Center on the Road.

Maya-Camille presentation focused on lesson’s learned during her journey creating Justice of the Pies.  I walked away learning so much, I really wished I would have taken notes or recorded the presentation.  The main take-aways for me was:

  • Keep your product or services simple
  • Your product or services should have an emotional connection to its customers
  • Hire experts in areas like branding and logo design
  • Get paid for your time, services and products

Maybe one day I will utilize all these great local resources in Chicago, and apply Maya-Camille lessons to my own business.  You never know what the future will bring.  One thing for sure, I will be picking up a pie at Whole Foods!


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