To Give is to Receive

Since I began writing content for Laurel Hill a few months ago, a whole new world has opened up to me.  Today, I celebrate all the “firsts” I have experienced in just a short time.

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Symfonie Rose Circular Needles

For the first time, I realized that selecting my knitting needles is just as important to each project as picking out the perfect yarn.  My favorite new Laurel Hill circular needle is pointy, smooth, warm to the touch and just delightful to use – it has made a huge difference in my knitting experience, and my knitting even looks better.  I can’t wait to hold them in my hands each evening after the work day is over. Although I have not yet learned to crochet, I have heard the very same comments about Laurel Hill’s vast array of hooks.

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Ruth Tillman

For the first time, everyone I speak with, everyone I interview, everyone I call for information is HAPPY.  I cannot express how fabulous it is to speak with individuals who do not whine, do not complain and do not say negative things about other people – from the Laurel Hill team to the extraordinary knitters and crocheters I have come to know, these are people who are grateful, sweet and just plain nice.  How refreshing is that?

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Christine Fabiani, founder of Knots of Love

For the first time, I knitted for a non-profit organization that called me to say “thank you.” After creating my first NICU baby blanket to donate to Knots of Love, Laurel Hill’s preferred non-profit organization, the president herself, Christine Fabiani, called to welcome me to the “Knots of Love” family.  What’s more, she shared that the blankie I made was donated to a preemie baby in Washington D.C., making me feel even more connected to the cause.

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An example of a knitted blankie for a NICU baby

As if that weren’t enough, today I received a package in the mail with a thank you note, more patterns and a special Knots of Love tape measure that I will treasure.

Yes, it has been an exciting few months, a time of many firsts and an opportunity to learn and grow, meeting a host of wonderful people along the way.  I am really looking forward to what 2016 will bring!

Happy Yarn Crafting!

 

 

 

 

 

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A Cup of Tea & Warm Company

Profile of Laurel Hill friend & yarn crafter Danette Bartelmay

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Our conversation took place over the phone with a distance of 1,265 miles between us, but talking with Danette Bartelmay was like sitting together on a cozy couch with a hot cup of tea. Her warmth and vitality carried over the miles as Danette shared her story, a richly woven tapestry of love, family and yarn crafting.

Danette’s passion for the fiber arts began at the age of 16 when the woman who eventually became her beloved mother-in-law taught her how to cross stitch. This gradually led to crewel and embroidery, a carefully stitched journey that ultimately resulted in learning crochet from her co-worker at a beauty salon. Then, about 30 years ago, she added knitting to her vast repertoire.

A certified crochet teacher by the Yarn Craft Council, Craft Yarn Council Danette has become so skilled that she not only teaches crochet out of her home, she can repair damaged projects, and even create patterns from existing pieces. In between, she devotes family time to her husband, two daughters, four grandchildren, and close-knit extended family.

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Danette loves spending time with her family: pictured here with her husband and their granddaughter Gabby.
Amazingly, she still has time to stock her Etsy shop, Front Porch Knits, and publish a blog entitled “Rose Petal Tea” .  In addition, Danette knits for charity and participates annually in the local craft fair in Morton.

All of her accomplishments have not come without their challenges.  Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis since she was nine years old, Danette also fights the pain of lupus on a daily basis.  While a compromised immune system keeps this former bank teller at home much of the time, Danette’s doctor strongly encourages her to keep up with yarn crafting.  For Danette, crochet and knitting are everything – she has created a world where friends and students gather round, enjoying each other’s company, learning and crafting together. It is warm.  It is cozy. It is a community.

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A beautiful creation by Danette

Of course we asked Danette about her fiber arts tools, and her response was very gratifying.  She explained that she had been on a lifelong hunt for good quality crochet hooks – she never could find just the right ones.  Then a few weeks before Christmas, she googled “rosewood or ebony crochet hooks” and discovered Laurel Hill. For Danette, there is no going back.  She is “hooked” on Laurel Hill for so many reasons.

“I LOVE the length and weight of the hooks,” Danette enthuses.  “Not too long, not too heavy and they glide just beautifully. And how amazing to learn that they are arthritis-friendly!”

Danette says she is very picky about the way hooks catch, and Laurel Hill’s easily let go.

“The hooks are made exactly right and I love the points, no other hooks have points like these,” adds Danette. “Plus, they are wood and so warm in your hands.”

Danette exclaims that she will not use any other crochet hooks but Laurel Hill’s.  We’re delighted that she is so happy, and even more delighted to have a new and wonderful friend.  Another cup of tea?

For more on the warm, comfortable and beautiful crochet hooks Danette uses, visit LaurelHillOnline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Yarn Crafter’s View of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies

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Have you ever thought about how you respond to others’ expectations of you, or your expectations of yourself?  I have become very interested in this question since reading Gretchen Rubin’s books and listening to the weekly podcast she produces with her sister Elizabeth Craft.

One of the topics they ponder is how to discover the secret of making or breaking a habit.  According to Gretchen, to change our habits we first have to figure out ourselves.

She explains it as follows:

When we try to form a new habit, we’re setting an expectation for ourselves. Therefore, to change our habits, it’s crucial to understand how we respond to expectations.

We all face outer expectations (meet deadlines, observe traffic regulations) and inner expectations (stop napping, give up sugar).

To help us figure out how we respond to expectations, Gretchen has devised the “Four Tendencies” framework:  Here’s a brief summary:

  1. Obligers. These are people who are fantastic at meeting outer expectations — for friends, loved ones, co-workers and so forth — but not as good as meeting inner expectations, or those they make of themselves. Knowing that other people are depending on them is what impels them to get things done. Most people are Obligers.
  2. Questioners. These people resist outer expectations until they are sure those expectations are valuable, worthy or fair. They tend to take a long time to make decisions because they’re busy crunching numbers or doing other research. However, questioners do well with inner expectations.
  3. Upholders. Upholders tend to meet both outer and inner expectations. Deadlines? Appointments? No problem. If you’re checking things off a to-do list every day, chances are you’re an Upholder.
  4. Rebels. They have a tendency to resist both outer and inner expectations. No one else can tell them what to do. Rebels are the smallest group in the framework.
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Knitters & Crocheters can demonstrate Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies

As an Upholder, I have figured out a lot about myself, my family, friends and co-workers.  And as a public relations professional who writes and blogs for Laurel Hill, a company dedicated to providing sustainable, hand crafted fiber arts tools, I couldn’t help attributing the Four Tendencies to different types of yarn crafters.  Here’s my take on the Four Tendencies for Knitters and Crocheters:

 Upholders

You, fellow upholder, follow every knit or crochet pattern to the letter, purchasing all recommended yarns and tools on the materials list.  You set a timeframe for completing each project, and you are adamant about working on only one project at a time no matter how much you yearn to start a new one in between.

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Sweet, kind obliger – you also adhere firmly to directions but you never create a project for yourself. You are a serial gift giver – creating baby blankets and booties even for your most casual acquaintances.  If you ever do make something for yourself it will only be because your knitting or crochet group holds you accountable until you do.

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Why should I follow the pattern?  Why would I use a #10 needle when a #13 needle will get the job done faster? How come I can’t make my own pattern? Wait a moment while I calculate the new measurements that will improve this. Our intrepid questioner will always think of a new and better way.

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Don’t be surprised if there’s a project in progress and six more stashed in the closet in various stages of completion.  Oh, wait – crochet hooks, who needs crochet hooks?  I am going to use my fingers, or a giant novelty tool I just invented.  And this project – I am going to do it from the bottom up rather than the top down – why?  Because I feel like it!

Where do you fit in? Gretchen has created a short quiz so you can determine your tendency:

Link to Quiz: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1950137/Four-Tendencies-January-2015

We would love to know how the quiz works out for you and how you demonstrate your tendency.  It’s just for fun, but you might learn more about yourself and others close to you. Please share!

Happy Yarn Crafting from Laurel Hill!

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing the holiday spirit

Over the years, our team at Laurel Hill has cultivated a culture of philanthropy, donating to many charities and participating in non-profit events. But one organization in particular has touched our hearts and motivated our spirits: Laurel Hill’s charity of choice Knots of Love. With the holidays approaching, we are inspired to do even more to help Knots of Love help others. We want to encourage our Laurel Hill community to knit or crochet with a giving heart. As Knots of Love founder Christine Fabiani says, “Cancer does not take a holiday.”

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What is Knots of Love? Under Christine’s leadership, the organization donates caps to men and women, including veterans, undergoing chemotherapy, burn victims, brain surgery patients, head trauma patients, and individuals with Alopecia. They also donate tiny blankets to fragile new lives in incubators.

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Taught to crochet by her grandmother when she was six, Christine began making scarves and afghans to give to friends and family. It was her son Geoffrey who encouraged Christine to make caps. A friend who was a cancer survivor told Christine that she wished she had had a cozy cap to don after a day’s wearing of her wig, and the inspiration for heartwarming, head-warming Chemo Caps was planted.

Christine felt so good making caps for cancer patients, she thought other yarn crafters might like to make them too. Knots of Love was born in 2007 “out of a desire to brighten the lives of people in need, in a loving and caring way.”

Since then Christine and her team have sent more than 300,000 caps to cancer centers, oncologist’s offices, and infusion centers across the nation. Christine and the organization have garnered many humanitarian awards as a result of their efforts.

How can you help this holiday season? We’re so glad you asked!

*Buy a Knots of Love kit (http://www.laurelhillonline.com/knots-of-love-kits/) and create a warm expression of comfort for someone who needs it;

*Donate funds directly to Knots of Love, 98 percent goes directly to the charity, with only two percent for administration fees;     https://knotsoflove.givingfuel.com/donations     

*Purchase a beautiful Knots of Love jewelry piece from Sears  http://www.knotsoflove.org/shop      and six percent is donated to Knots of Love.

Due to the sensitivities of those helped by Knots of Love, please use only yarns recommended on the Knots of Love website. We are honored that Laurel Hill is Knots of Love’s preferred supplier of crochet and knitting tools because of our comfortable, handmade products at reasonable prices.

Christine says, “Made from exotic woods, Laurel Hill crochet hooks are so wonderful -once you use one you won’t want to use anything else. The wood helps keep warmth in my hands hopefully warding off arthritis in years to come. Laurel Hill takes great pride in providing sustainable products to their customers.”

Watch for more news about Christine and the wonderful volunteers at Knots of Love. We are proud to be connected with this compassionate organization and look forward to getting more involved in 2016!

Happy Yarn Crafting!

 

 

 

 

 

Family Ties: A Passion for Crochet through the Generations

From the time she was eight years old, Karen loved yarn crafting – from shell stitching to embroidery to quilting. But her first love is crochet, a passion that grew from Karen’s warm memories of her mother patiently teaching her and inspiring her with her creativity. Sitting on the front porch as a young girl, stitching away, remains for Karen the beginning of a lifelong passion for the art of crochet.

There is great joy in teaching the next generation to crochet.(illustrative photo - not Karen and daughter)
There is great joy in teaching the next generation to crochet.(illustrative photo – not Karen and daughter)

Years later after Karen married and she and her husband had a daughter of their own, Karen carried on the tradition of teaching her little girl how to crochet too. With her own mother living with them, it quickly became a three-generation passion and Karen remembers that it was a rare time when her mother did not have a needle or a hook in her hand. She was thrilled that her own daughter took to the craft even before she was a teenager, increasing her skills during college and beyond.

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Along the way, Karen discovered Laurel Hill’s ebony crochet hooks and selected them as her favorite. Last Christmas, when she was thinking about the perfect gift for her daughter she knew that a complete set of Laurel Hill ebony hooks was the answer. And, as it turns out, her daughter was delighted.

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Crochet hooks handcrafted from beautiful ebony
Crochet hooks handcrafted from beautiful ebony

“I have always been so happy with Laurel Hill’s quality products and extraordinary customer service,” says Karen. “My daughter feels the same way and has told me time and again how smooth and wonderful the hooks are to work with.”

Karen’s passion bridges the generations, creating memories that last a lifetime. At Laurel Hill, we are thrilled to be part of a family legacy, one that ensures a bright future for crochet and yarn crafting.

From a Yarn Crafter’s Holiday Wish List: I Wish I Had the Whole Set!

At Laurel Hill we are lucky to meet yarn crafters from far and wide – our friends hail from California to New York, from Norway to the UK, from the Midwest and beyond.  We’ve learned that whether young or old, new knitter or veteran crocheter, they share a love for the finest fiber art tools on the market today.  And even better than the single set of knitting needles or the lone crochet hook is the Holy Grail, otherwise known as “the complete set.” Ask any yarn crafter and she or he will tell you that having every size option at your fingertips, all matching and in perfect order, is something to aspire to, to wish for, and sometimes even to dream about.

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Because we know this, we have made it very easy to fulfill that wish.  Our dedicated web page includes many complete sets that can be purchased and shipped in time for the holidays.  Imagine how happy your favorite knitter or crocheter will be when she or he receives a beautifully packaged complete set of needles or hooks that are beautiful to look at, beautiful to touch and so comfortable to hold.

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“I have let my husband, my daughters and my friends know what I want for the holidays,” said knitter Vicki B. “I even gave them the link for Laurel Hill’s website since those are my favorite needles.  I am just hoping someone comes through!”

Thinking of a gift for a knitter but don’t want to buy the whole set?  Laurel Hill also has great ideas for stocking stuffers – like coconut palm knitting needles that start at $5 per pair.

We’ve made it easy – one stop shopping for an unbelievable selection of fiber arts tools at Laurel Hill in just a few clicks. You will discover the perfect gift for your special knitter or crocheter….or for yourself!

Happy Yarn Crafting from your friends at Laurel Hill!

Thinking Outside the Stitch: Profile of Laurel Hill friend & yarn crafter Carole Fanning

In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. With that premise in mind, Carole Fanning is most definitely a master in yarn crafting. Nearly half a century ago, when Carole was expecting her first child, her husband suggested she take up knitting. “Isn’t that what pregnant women are supposed to do?” he queried. And the rest is history.

Carole immersed herself in books and magazines, promptly teaching herself how to knit. Soon after, she went rogue and instead of following patterns to a tee, she deftly figured out how to do things her way, improving on every project she took on. Some years later she taught herself crochet and has participated in and led a myriad of knit and crochet groups along the way.

Carole created the pattern knitted this beautiful baby blanket.
Carole created the pattern and knitted this beautiful baby blanket.

Fast forward to today, Carole lives in the Georgia mountains where she teaches knitting and crochet, bakes world-class wedding cakes, makes filet crochet lace-enhanced porcelain figurines and much more.

“I love to make things,” she explains.

Always a leader, Carole shares a story of a favorite yarn shop that had to shut down, leaving her yarn crafter group “homeless.” Instead of giving up, Carole went to the coffee shop down the street and asked if they could open on Mondays, a day when they were usually closed, if she promised to bring a bevy of crafty women who craved coffee and treats during their sessions. The group was back in business in no time.

Carole’s knit and crochet projects are beautifully crafted, heirloom quality and truly treasured by the recipients of her gifts. One sweet example is a collection of layette sets she made for triplet girls, color appropriate for their names: Violet, Rose and Ivy. So treasured were these outfits by the family that although the girls have long grown out of them, they now adorn three prominently displayed Cabbage Patch dolls.

Originally knitted for triplets Ivy, Rose and Violet, Carole's beautiful creations now adorn the girls' collectible dolls.
Originally knitted for triplets Ivy, Rose and Violet, Carole’s beautiful creations now adorn the girls’ collectible dolls.

A lover of natural fibers, Carole explains that she is a “wood fanatic” who is loyal to Laurel Hill because their fiber arts tools are “SO smooth, SO beautiful and they move very easily without worrying that the stitches will move off the needles or hooks.”

Carole adores her complete collection of Laurel Hill wooden hooks in their “gorgeous” case. She exclaims that after discovering Laurel Hill at an Atlanta yarn show more than five years ago, Carole says she will never go back to metal.

What’s next for Carole? She has numerous projects in the works and dozens of students who depend on her generous advice. Carole embraces her role as a mentor and is the epitome of #StitchItForward to continue her yarn crafting legacy.

Carole’s words of advice ring true whether one is discussing knitting, crochet or life:

“Don’t be afraid to try.”

“You can do it.”

“You don’t have to follow the pattern – use your judgment and make it work for you.”

For more on the exotic wood knitting needles and crochet hooks Carole uses, visit LaurelHillOnline.com