Inspired by New Ideas

When it comes to knitting and crochet, Paula Susan Lesko Meyers does not hesitate to seize a new idea and run with it. A self-described “Renaissance woman,” Paula mines the internet for the latest patterns and the highest quality fiber arts tools, unafraid to try anything at least once.  Her vast internet research is what led her to Laurel Hill where she was thrilled to discover her new “gorgeous set of wood crochet hooks” that she says are “so lovely and warm in my hand.”

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Paula added, “I love, love, love them – they are so comfortable to hold.  The artisans who create these handmade wood hooks are extremely skilled in their craft.”

Those accolades are not to be taken lightly, especially when they come from an experienced yarncrafter like Paula. Spending cozy childhood summers in the Pocono Mountains, Paula learned to knit and crochet from her aunt/godmother before she was 10 years old. She caught on immediately, asking for spare yarn, extra hooks and whatever pattern books she could get her hands on. Her first projects included pet toys for the family’s menagerie. Off and running, Paula began trying out new ideas and new patterns as fast as she could find them.

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A former administrative assistant who now has more time to explore her many interests, Paula’s repertoire of projects has grown substantially to include: pot scrubbers, dish cloths, material lined crochet purses, crochet evening clutches, rosary pouches, rag rugs, and so much more. She has even delved into “plarn,” bags and door mats crocheted from plastic bags for recycling.

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Plarn: Crafts crocheted from plastic bags for recycling!

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Paula has amassed so many patterns and projects that she keeps a cache of three-ring binders on hand for reference! And when she is not yarncrafting, one can often find Paula in her garden or creating colorful floral arrangements. As she says, “I embrace everything.”

Mindful of those less fortunate, Paula devotes a great deal of time crocheting projects for local church auctions, and she also creates “silent” rosaries for members of the military. We learned that soldiers out on missions have to be absolutely quiet to protect themselves – hence the need for crocheted rosaries that do not click together during prayers. Kudos to Paula for fulfilling that special need!

Anticipating an upcoming move from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, Paula has already started planning how she will move all her binders and yarncrafting accessories. As an inspiring and inspired Renaissance woman, she is determined to continue her passion uninterrupted! 

Let Us Know

We are always eager to hear your comments and feedback, and your input keeps our offerings fresh and relevant.  What inspires you to knit or crochet?  Please share your stories with us and learn more at http://www.laurelhillonline.com./

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Ruth Tillman & the Art of Crochet

Passionate…creative…ambitious – those are the first three words that came to mind yesterday after a brief conversation with crochet artist and teacher Ruth Tillman. Honestly, I could have listened to her talk about her adventures in yarn craft all day long, but we both had to get back to work.  We were more than 3,000 miles apart, but I could feel her passion strongly emanating from cyberspace and it made me want to pick up a crochet hook (from Laurel Hill of course) and learn how to do it immediately. Lucky for me, Ruth’s new teaching videos are nearly complete and I will be among the first to watch them.

Who is Ruth Tillman?  In case you haven’t heard of her, let me fill you in.  A self-taught crocheter, Ruth started her craft nearly seven years ago when she decided to make a hat for her daughter.

il_170x135.799091684_ia38il_170x135.798875711_5mye The project was an amazing success – so much so that she started bringing her hats to the children’s clothing shop where she worked at the time – and they were flying off the shelves. Each hat reflects Ruth’s sense of whimsy, extraordinary creativity and excellent craftsmanship.  She soon realized that she had found her calling.

With so much time spent crocheting, Ruth soon noticed that her hands were strained.  Then, about five years ago when she was browsing in a yarn shop, she spotted a Laurel Hill Nam OC hook – after that moment, Ruth has never looked back. “I have tried every kind of hook and now will only use the ones from Laurel Hill,” she explains. “They are so smooth and have little grips that help me hold  them without holding too tight – my hands can totally relax.  Now I have the whole set.”

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What started out as a gift for her daughter has grown into Ruth’s passion in life – as she puts it, “to bring the art of crochet to everyone.”  How will she accomplish this ambitious goal?  Ruth’s business, Ruth Tillman Designs, is dedicated to educating the world about crochet and yarn craft – through patterns, mentoring young people, developing after school programs and more, Ruth is spreading the word.  And she’s not stopping there.  Ruth has reached out to the world-famous MakerFaire to include yarn art in the mix, plus she has big plans for a spontaneous “yarn bombing” event taking place in the near future.  What’s more, she is making overtures to the corporate world to educate executives on how technology can meet yarn crafting for incredible results in the workplace.

If you haven’t heard of Ruth Tillman yet, you most likely will soon – she is on the forefront of a whole new world of crochet, and Laurel Hill is honored to be included! Watch for more on Ruth – we will be posting her videos and her special custom-designed patterns on our website soon!

Hello, Knitters & Crocheters from Laurel Hill Knitting & Crochet News!

Hello, Knitters & Crocheters! I am delighted to contribute to Laurel Hill Knitting & Crochet News. We look forward to providing you with the latest trends in knitting needles and crochet hooks, yarn crafters’ stories and exciting new projects.

I am grateful and happy to join the Laurel Hill team – a group of great people who comprise an innovative, environmentally friendly company dedicated to producing the highest quality exotic handmade knitting needles, crochet hooks, and accessories. As a socially responsible company, Laurel Hill sources natural sustainable products at affordable prices (www.LaurelHillOnline.com). Plus, they are a pleasure to look at, to hold, and to create beautiful results!

Knitted baby dress
Knitted baby dress
Knitted throw with cables
Knitted throw with cables

A little about me: When I was 15, the fabulous woman who would one day become my mother-in-law shared her love of knitting and patiently taught me.  I quickly associated knitting with a warm, loving environment where I felt safe and learned to revel in the “zen” of yarn craft.  To this day, the touch of yarn enhanced by the gentle clicking of needles can take away the day’s stress in an instant. In my work life I am a public relations professional who loves to write content, work with the media and help my clients grow their businesses.  Working with Laurel Hill will allow me to fulfill both my passions!

I am excited about the opportunity and truly look forward to opening a dialogue with you, our readers, and learning more about what you are looking for in the world of knitting needles and crochet hooks.

As one of my favorite knitters once said, “My needles are as much a part of my craft as my yarn.” We hope you agree!

Looking forward to sharing news and getting your feedback. Happy yarn crafting!

All the best,

Phyllis