ChiaoGoo arrives at Laurel Hill!

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Laurel Hill is known for listening to our customers and providing them with their favorite fiber arts tools and accessories.  That’s why we are thrilled to announce the arrival of ChiaoGoo to our vast selection of high quality knitting needles, crochet hooks, gift sets and accessories.  We now carry many of ChiaoGoo’s bamboo/wood and stainless steel Single Points, Double Points and Circulars, as well as several fabulous accessories.

The Story of ChiaoGoo

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Yarn crafters love ChiaoGoo for their pointy tips and gentle touch.  Did you know this line has a rich, exotic history? The Zheng brothers were born and grew up in Linan, China, “The Bamboo Capital of China.” Grandfather Zheng was a bamboo craftsman who spent the majority of his life traveling from town to town with his bamboo tool kit making household goods such as chairs, tables, mattress sheets, rice barrels, baskets and steamers. Father Zheng followed in his father’s footsteps and was able to build a workshop in the early 1980s. Father Zheng’s workshop produced similar household goods, but the primary product was bamboo knitting needles.

Demand for the needles originated with Mama Zheng.  She is an excellent knitter and knit in order to keep her family warm during the long, cold winters. Mama Zheng would often knit extra items and sell them to neighbors and friends to make some extra money for her family of seven. She was the needle “tester” and frequently asked for special needles to meet her needs. Mama Zheng is the inspiration for the ChiaoGoo brand name which means “highly skillful and crafty lady.”

Coming to America

In the 1990’s, the youngest son, Leon, established Westing Bridge LLC in Troy, MI for the marketing and distribution of the bamboo needles outside of China. Leon came to the US in 1997. He attended West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV where he received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in Laser Technology. After graduation, Leon upgraded the family business replacing key machinery to improve product quality, productivity and working conditions. He purchased a special laser to imprint the ChiaoGoo name and size on each needle produced.

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Let Us Know

We are always eager to hear your comments and feedback, and your input keeps our offerings fresh and relevant.  Please let us know what you think about the addition of ChiaoGoo and if there’s anything else you would like to see at Laurel Hill, your one stop web shop. And please remember to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on our new Instagram account, LaurelHillKnitCrochet.

 

 

 

 

Welcome, Tammy of Posh Patterns!

At Laurel Hill, we love meeting new people who share our passions.  We are especially fortunate to have a new friend, Tammy of Posh Patterns, an extremely talented yarn crafter who recently tried our Ebony Crochet Hook for the first time.  She shared her thoughts with us (below) and generously provided us with a FREE pattern to try this elegant cowl ourselves. If you mention or share this pattern, please credit Posh Patterns! Thank you, Tammy, and welcome to the Laurel Hill community!

Elegant V-Stitch Cowl

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I’ve recently had the opportunity to work with a Laurel Hill Ebony Crochet Hook. And I have to say…this hook was extraordinary!! I will admit that I am a little fussy about my crochet hooks, too. Since I spend a lot of my “work time” stitching, my hook just has to feel nice to hold, and be comfortable to work with. This hook was just that! The wood was incredibly smooth and luxurious feeling, and the shape of the part that rests in your hand was very comfortable. On top of that, the tip of the hook has a shape that is perfect for grabbing the yarn – not too deep, not to shallow. All around, an absolutely beautiful crochet hook!

So what did I make with my fabulous new Laurel Hill Ebony Crochet Hook? I used one skein of a pretty alpaca yarn and made an elegant cowl that is going to be fantastic for spring. It uses a V-Stitch pattern, which gives it an open feel, and it’s just the right size for that little bit of extra warmth that you might need on a spring day, or evening.

Enjoy!!

Tammy, Posh Patterns

Elegant V-Stitch Cowl

Supplies:

Chunky Weight Yarn (yarn pictured is Plymouth Yarns Baby Alpaca Grande; color 0145)

Size M Laurel Hill Ebony Crochet Hook

Tapestry Needle

Abbreviations:

St: stitch

Sl: slip

Dc: double crochet

Ch: chain

Size:

30” around, 7” tall

Directions:

Chain 50. Being careful not to twist the stitches, join to the first chain to form a circle.

Round 1: Ch 1. 2dc in same ch, skip 1 ch, *2dc in next ch, skip 1 chain; repeat from * around. Join to first dc.

Round 2: Slip stitch in the space between the first 2 dc sts. Ch 1. 2dc in same space, *2dc in the space between the next 2dc group; repeat from * around. Join.

Round 3-9: Repeat round 2.

NOTE: This is where you can adjust the height of your cowl. If you’d like it to be taller, work more rounds. The cowl shown has 9 rounds, and used exactly 1 skein of Baby Alpaca Grande.

Fasten off.

If you create this beautiful cowl, please share your photos with us on this blog or on our Laurel Hill Facebook page!

 

Giving back from the heart

Cindy Stickney is the first to donate to Knots of Love via Laurel Hill’s new program

It was Cindy’s sister Becky who first told her about Knots of Love (www.KnotsofLove.org), an amazing nonprofit 501c3 that 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. And Cindy, a breast cancer survivor herself, wasted no time in becoming involved.

A self-taught crocheter, Cindy has already created 12 hats for Knots of Love.  She explains that she can relate to the difficult journey others are experiencing, and it is her way of giving back.

Coincidentally, Cindy began crocheting for Knots of Love  around the same time that Laurel Hill , the source for beautiful handcrafted crochet hooks, knitting needles and fiber arts tools, announced that the company would donate a portion of all sales to the organization.  Laurel Hill’s goal is to equip the yarncrafting community with the tools to knit or crochet with a giving heart.

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Cindy created these beautiful hats and sent them to Knots of Love for donation to cancer patients.

Right after the big announcement published in Knots of Love’s monthly newsletter, Cindy discovered Laurel Hill  and placed her first order knowing that she had found another way to donate to Knots of Love, and hopefully some helpful, comfortable tools for her craft.  Here’s what she had to say:

“I just wanted to let you know that I received the Laurel Hill crochet hooks, and I love them!  The day they arrived, I decided I needed to sit down that evening and give them a try.  They are so lightweight in your hand and glide through the yarn very nicely.  They’re very comfortable in my hand, so I can understand why they would be great for those with arthritis.  I only wish that I’d purchased more!”

We are honored and delighted to welcome Cindy to the Laurel Hill family and to thank her for her giving heart and generous spirit.

Happy Yarn Crafting!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Obliger

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.

Questioner

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.

Rebel

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!