Colorful Crochet Lace Book Giveaway!

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UPDATE: We have a winner! Wlsmith, you have won the book! Email me at renee@crochetrenee.com with your address and I will mail it out. Thanks for reading the blog!

Renee’

In 2007, I had the yearning to design original crochet patterns. In my quest to do so, I joined The Crochet Guild of America (CGOA), which has a mentor program. I had the great good fortune to be assigned Mary Jane Hall as my mentor, who was very helpful in teaching me the ropes. Over the years, we have become good friends, oddly enough, without ever actually seeing each other face to face. At that time, Mary Jane was working on her debut book, Positively Crochet. In 2008, Mary Jane followed the success of PC with Crochet That Fits, revealing her pioneering technique of the Graduated Stitch Method, where crochet fabric can be shaped without using traditionAl increases and decreases. It has been a long time coming, but F&W has released her most recent book, Colorful Crochet Lace.

Mary Jane’s design sense is classically feminine without being too over-the-top frilly. In this collection, she has created 22 garments and accessories that are catwalk-worthy. Mary Jane follows and is inspired by current fashions, and this is evident in her work. In the introduction, she reveals that the designs in CCL were inspired by all things French, including architecture, gardens, culture and yes, Parisian fashions. I was challenged to make a project from the book, and as I am limiting myself this year to using what I have in my stash, I chose to make the LaFleur Doily Bag. I used a skein of mystery cotton blend sock yarn for this project and went down to a size D hook, thinking I would get a smaller bag than the one in the book. I used brown satin on the outside to line the bag and a really cute, steampunkish print on the inside.


The bag is still very generously sized, so it will make a great project bag. I also put 6 pockets inside. I essentially followed her clear directions for assembly. The only other mods I made were to braid my handle instead of crocheting it, and to leave the flower off and tie the handle on one side with two tassels. My handles could have been longer, but I literally used ALL of the skein. (Stash busted! Yes!) She does include the directions for a really cute rose to embellish the bag with, if you wish.


And guess what? YOU, dear readers, have a chance to win your very own copy of Mary Jane’s book, Colorful Crochet Lace! From now until 12 midnight Central Standard Time next Saturday, August 30th, leave a comment on why you would like to own a copy of Mary Jane’s book. The winner will be randomly selected after the deadline. In the meantime, run over to Amazon and preview the book here, and put it on your wish list…just in case you don’t win it, you know. Then it will be easy to go back and purchase a copy! Leave me a comment, good luck, and make life DIY!

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Tomatillos

The down side of being gone to Ireland for two weeks? The garden is over run by weeds and grass. With all the excess rain we have had, our veggie yield is not up to par with normal years.

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But there are tomatillos. Which is a good thing, because I love salsa verde, and tomatillos have not done well the last two years. So these are washed and ready to go, but I am throwing them into the freezer today, to be made into salsa later. I have other irons in the fire today. But rest assured, there is a blog post on making salsa verde coming soon, on a blog near you! In the meantime,  if you haven’t entered to win the yarn package from Red Heart Yarns that I blogged about last time, go there now and leave a comment to enter!
Join me as I make life DIY.

New Yarns and a blog giveaway!- Update…we have a winner!

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Update! We have a winner! Sheila Fryman has won the yarn prize package! Congratulations, Sheila! See my comment to your post to find out how to go about claiming your prize package. Stay tuned, there is another giveaway later this month for a copy of Mary Jane Hall’s new book, Colorful Crochet Lace!

So this showed up in my mailbox a couple weeks ago.

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It was a kit from Coats & Clark, the makers of Red Heart Boutique yarns. They are introducing two new yarns, Boutique Infinity and Boutique Twilight. Both yarns are constructed as a knitted tube, and both are soft and squishy, with just the right amount of bling! As bulky and super bulky weight yarns, respectively, your project will work up quickly. In addition to the yarns, there was also a nifty row counter that can be worn, ring-like, on your finger to keep track of rows with the mere push of a button. But wait, there’s more! A Red Heart tote bag, with 3 exterior pockets. Who doesn’t need another tote bag? One lucky blog reader will be selected to win this exact package from Red Heart! To enter, just comment below on what you love about crafting with yarn, whether it be knit or crochet. I will randomly select a winner on Saturday, August 8th, 2015. I also designed a knitted cowl pattern, which you will find below, which is my gift to all of my knitting readers! If you want to check out more of Red Hearts Boutique line, click here. They are really stepping up their game over at Coats & Clark!

WIN_20150723_133557

Romantic Enchanted Cowl

Designed by: Reneé Rodgers

Skill level:

Category: Knitting

Project type: Accessories, Scarves/ Cowl

Supplies:

1 skein Red Heart Boutique Infinity (3.5 oz/100g/129 yds/ 118m)- Color A: E828 Enchanted

1 skein Red Heart Boutique Twilight (3.5 oz/ 100g/ 59 yds/ 54m)- Color B: E829 Romantic

24″ circular knitting needle, size US 11/ 8mm

Yarn needle

Cowl measures 8 1/2″ long x 13″ wide; 26″ circumference

GAUGE: 14 st and 16 rows = 4″ in pattern

TAKE TIME TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE

COWL

Using color A and a knitted cast on, CO 80 st. Join to work in the round, taking care not to twist stitches. PM to mark beginning of rounds.

R1-R4: Continuing in Color A, K2, P2 around.

R5: Continuing in Color A, knit one round.

R6-R9: Changing to Color B, K6, Sl2 around.

R10-R11: Change to Color A; knit around.

R12-R15: Change to Color B; K2, Sl2, * K6, Sl2, rep from * around.

R16-R17: Change to Color A; knit around.

Repeat rounds 1-17 two more times. Using Color A, work 4 rounds of K2, P2 ribbing and bind off in pattern loosely.

For the chart, click below!

Romantic Enchanted cowl chart

Traveling home

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Yesterday, we left our hotel in Killarney at about 5:30 a.m., Ireland time. We didn’t get to see much of Killarney, other than to find a pharmacy so I could get some ibuprofen and a cane to calm my painful left knee. We did look in a few other shops and spied a restaurant close to where we were staying that looked good for later. We went back to the hotel and a few hours later returned to Kayne’s for supper, which was very, very good. I had a dish called country chicken, which had a piece of crispy oven – roasted chicken on top of a tasty risotto with wild mushrooms. Angel had a cheese tart with carmelized onions and a very tasty salad that was big enough that we shared it. Sorry, no pictures as I had left my phone back at the hotel. After walking all week in the quiet, peaceful countryside and seashores, we both found the frenetic pace of Killarney,  on race day no less, to be a bit overwhelming.
We spent the night in Toronto last night, as we have a long layover.

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It is a very stark contrast to the Irish countryside.

Several people have commented that they would like to walk the Dingle Way, like we did. Some have said they would like advice on how to go about it. Let me start with sharing some things we learned.

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Me, on the way from Tralee to Camp. I am still smiling, because it hadn’t gotten rough yet!

1. Don’t start in Tralee. As we learned, most people start in Camp. Unless you just like leaping from boulder to boulder over pits of mud and sheep poop which can be knee deep, or deeper, which you will find out when you miss the next boulder. If that’s your thing, though, by all means, start in Tralee.
2. Pack light. I mean it. Take a light pack, with your lunch and a couple of normal sized bottles of water. You don’t need a 3 liter reservoir in your pack. You don’t need a water filter, either. Trust me, with all the sheep and cow poo dissolved in the water,  even filtering it would not make it attractive.  You aren’t hiking the Sahara.
3. Don’t walk every day. Plan your itinerary to spend a couple of days in some of the villages and towns. We decided that Annascaul deserved two days, Dingle 3 days, Dunquin 2 or 3 days, with a visit to the Blasket Islands a must. We didn’t get to see the islands, as we were walking every day. We also diverted, unintentionally, but fortuitously,  off the Dingle Way when we walked through Ballyferriter.  There was an awesome little museum there on the history of the Dingle Peninsula. Also, by walking every 2 to 3 days, instead of every day, you can rest your body and maybe not trash your knee, like I did. But don’t worry.  It will get better.
4. Don’t listen to friends advice when they tell you the food was awful when they were there. We enjoyed everything we had, and we ate. All. The. Things. I even tried white pudding and black pudding. I didn’t care for them, but I am sure as white puddings and black puddings go, they were probably good, if you like that sort of thing.
5. Don’t be afraid to try new foods. See number 4.
6. Don’t go into this experience thinking everything is going to be like home in the U.S. It isn’t.  It’s Ireland. It’s a foreign country. Just look at things like light switches on the outside of the bathroom, scalding hot food and room temperature bread as just Irish realities. Embrace them as part of the charm. Be as open to new experiences as well as new food.
7. If someone offers to make you tea, take it. It is a hallmark of hospitality. Acept it graciously. Because with tea comes cake or cookies or some kind of sweet bread, usually home made. Who would say no to that?
8. Talk to people. Ask them about the area they live in. Everyone has a story to tell. I would never have known that Kristin at Glenn Dearg had sold tickets on the Dun Chaoin ferry as a girl, while her father operated the ferry, if I hadn’t hung around the kitchen door, chatting with her husband, Tom.
9. Be present and really pay attention to what’s around you. Don’t miss a thing!
10. Respect the fact that you are a visitor in their country. Be courteous, polite, and try not to be loud or obnoxious. Surprise them that not all Americans are loud and bossy.
Finally, have fun! We complete our journey back to Kansas City today. I will see you when I get home!

Days 7 and 8: Cloghane to Fahamore and Fahamore to Camp

So last night after we found dinner and got back to the room, I was whipped. So that is why there was no post last night.
We started out of Cloghane yesterday around 9:30, a fine mist enveloping us as we made our way out of the quiet village.

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It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to the Fermoyle Strand, the beach that circles Brandon Bay. As we hit the beach, the rain began to diminish and in the distance, we could see a thin line of blue in the distant sky. Soon the rain stopped and we were able to shed our rain gear.

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And the sun tried hard to shine. The Fermoyle Strand was about 7 km long. It was beautiful and pretty easy walking. The sand was firm and we even took our boots off for several kilometers, walking in the water, which was cold, but felt good. There were lots of pretty seashells, which we may or may not have picked up.

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I also found an unusual item, identified for us by a couple of local fisherman as a dog fish egg case that had washed up on the beach.

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We sat on the beach to eat our lunch. By the end of the walk, my knees were aching, but I took some ibuprofen when we got in and was much better.

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We walked to Spillane’s pub, where we visited with another hiker who we had met along the way, Beatta  from Germany, and ate the biggest crab claws I have seen in my entire life!

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We were collected at Spillane’s and taken to our guesthouse in Castlegregory, the Castle House.

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The beds were comfy here, and the breakfast delightful. Proprietor Sheila Rohan also happens to be the 1983 Calor Housewife of the Year. As expected, she was a wonderful hostess.
This morning, I awoke with a very ouchie left knee, so I took 800mg of ibuprofen, and by the time we had breakfast, the pain was under better control.  I continued to take ibuprofen on schedule, but with each step, the achiness got worse. I took several sit down breaks, which did help some. To make matters worse, our directions were not nearly as detailed today as on previous days. Within what turned out to be 2-3 miles from Seaview, our guesthouse for tonight, I was really slugging it out. Not knowing how much further we had at that point, I called the guesthouse to see how far it was. She said we weren’t far, and offered to collect us. At that point we had walked 16.5 km, which was half a kilometer further than we were supposed to have walked. We decided to accept her kind offer. My feet are swollen now and knees are unhappy, but I have my feet up, have had dinner and will be hitting the shower soon. Today was more beach walking, around Tralee Bay.

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So, we are done walking the Dingle Way. My knees and feet are tired and sore, but I will never forget this experience. Tomorrow,  we head to Killarney, then we fly out Friday for home. I plan on showing you some sights from Killarney tomorrow!

Day 6: Taking the day off

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So this morning, it is rainy, blowy and foggy. We are electing not to scale Mt. Brandon today. We are told by the locals that even if we did brave the nountain, we wouldn’t be able to see anything anyway. We will be transported to Cloghane later with our luggage. Looking ahead, if it isn’t raining when we get there, there is an old burial ground and the ruins of a 13th century church just a couple of kilometers outside of town, so we may go explore that. In the meantime,  I would like to share a writing I did yesterday morning. I tried to paint a word picture of the Dun Chaoin area.

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The Blaskets- 7/12/2015

Few things stir my soul like nature. Last night I saw a sight I had long wanted to see, yet I had failed to bring a camera to record it. I arose early to return, so that I could record the images so my future feeble mind may not completely forget the wondrous rugged beauty of the wild Atlantic coastline of Ireland.

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I slipped out of Glenn Dearg quietly, so as not to disturb any other guests. The Atlantic breeze tickled my face as I strolled down the quiet tarmac, much gentler than last evening, when it felt as though it might toss me into the sea. As I walked the flowery hedge row, the birdsong enveloped me; the cackling of the grackle, the rapid laser – fire sound effect of a bird hiding in the hedge, the cooing of five pigeons strolling in the road as well, until I got too close and they lifted with a chuff, chuff, chuff of wing beats.

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A black and white cat greeted me from a section of stone fence that had somehow managed to escape being overgrown in vegetation.
Farther down the hill, on the left, a river cascades haphazardly down the mountain.  At the bottom, I can hear the rushing of the water, but it cannot be seen for the wild fuchsia that crowds both banks.

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Topping the hill, a pottery café sits, but is not yet open, as it is too early. “Pottery, knitwear, books, bakery”, advertises the sign, painted in an illuminated manner, with the Irish spelling of Dun Chaoin  (Dunquin).
I finally reach the turnoff for the ferry on the right.

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A lamb in the adjoining field has his head poked through a square in the fence, nibbling grass and weeds on the other side. The rest of the sheep are either grazing or lying down, contentedly chewing their cuds while they look out to sea.

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The barking and keening of the gulls catches my attention. I watch as about a dozen gulls ride the air currents inland, rising up the side of the mountain Sliabh an Iolar like so many winged surfers.
As I approach the sign requesting all who visit here to leave no trace, I step off onto a grassy path that takes me along the cliff tops, where I can look upon the winding road down to the ferry landing. Two large mini- islands ( one named Dun Binne, the other whose name is not remembered by our hostess Kristin, who helped with the running of the ferry as a girl) are just off the point, where several gulls rest before catching the next wave up the mountain-side. The waves crash against the rocks down below with a rhythm that belongs to the sea alone.

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Looking around, I note green paths zig-zagging down the other side of the narrow inlet, where presumably ancient mariners once accessed the sea; the erosion of wind, waves and rain eventually reclaiming the paths.

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Out at sea, the Blasket Islands interrupt the horizon with their craggy heads. With names like An Blascaod Mor, Inis na Bro and Inis Mhic Aoibhleain, a feeling of wonder is evoked, knowing that they are in a sense, “ghost islands” that were once populated with people, but are now inhabited by wildlife only.

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Such visions create in me such a sense of wonder, awe and oneness with the natural world. I can forget for a little while that there are bad things and occurrences in the world. I can forget that pettiness and shallowness crowd out so much of the good in human interactions. It is in such moments that I feel complete peace, complete happiness. It is in such moments that I think I can love the whole world.

Day 5: Dunquin to Ballydavid

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Today dawned with fairly clear skies and no rain. After a good country breakfast at Glenn Dearg, we strapped on our packs and started walking. Each guest house along the way has packed lunches for us. The standard fare seems to be ham and cheese. Angel has dubbed this the ham and cheese tour of Ireland. At least today we had a little mustard to jazz things up. We started walking along Slea Head drive, following the trail markers.

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We stopped at Louis Mulcahey’s pottery, where we drooled over the beautiful pottery. Fortunately for us, you can order from him online, which we both are likely to do later after we return home.

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Our directions today, however, were not making a lot of sense. Somehow we missed a turn and wound up in the town of Ballyferriter.  This turned out to be serendipitous, however, as there was a very small, but very interesting museum in town which we would have missed had we not missed our turn.

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There was also a beautiful old church built in the early 1800’s.
After determining where to get back on the Dingle Way by following a single lane road down to Smerwick Harbour, we sat on the beach and had lunch (ham sandwiches) and watched sea birds plunge into the water to catch their lunch.

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There were a few people surfing and trying to enjoy the beach, but is was very cool to be swimming, and most who were wore wetsuits. We ascended a low cliff line to continue on the Way, encountering an electric fence that gave Angel a bit of a shock. We managed to get past that, climb over a rock wall and keep walking.

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The beach was beautiful. At some points we were walking down on the beach, and where it was impassable, we took to the dunes again. We found several interesting seashells and stones on the beach. We even saw a river running down the beach, joining it in places.

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Finally, we arrived in Ballydavid, where the hosts of An Bothar retrieved us from the T.P. Pub, where we had hoped to get a drink, but it was full and we couldn’t find a seat. We are now warm, clean and dry and the lovely host of An Bothar is seeing to our very dirty laundry. We hope to enjoy a fantastic seafood meal tonight. It looks like rain tonight and tomorrow. Our host told us several hikers came off of Mt. Brandon crying today, and it wasn’t even raining, so it’s looking like we may skip walking tomorrow. Either way, our next stop is Cloghane. See you tomorrow!

Day 4: Dingle to Dunquin

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With the rain chance at 100%, and the wind blowing like crazy, we decided to stay in Dingle for the day and do some shopping. After a gourmet breakfast this morning,

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We strolled into town through the blowing fine rain.

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We shopped a bit,

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drank a hot cup, shopped a bit more, and fought a wet head wind back to Heaton’s guesthouse, where we are waiting for our lift to Glen Deargh in Dunquin.

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I will report back in tomorrow!

Day two: Camp to Annascaul

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Today was awesome. Today rocked. It was much more like we expected things would be, walking in Ireland. First of all, just for scale here is a map. The coin at the upper right hand corner shows where we started yesterday. The coin at the bottom left shows where we walked to today.

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So we have essentially traversed across the Dingle Peninsula at an angle. We lost sight of Tralee Bay as we climbed waaaaaaaaaaaay up into the mountains, from an elevation of 40 feet above sea level to an elevation of 235 feet by the time we got to a spot in the road called Knockbrack.

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See that water in the background? That is our last view of Tralee Bay. Did we walk all that way? You bet your bippy we did. After a while of walking the trail slowly descends to 40 feet above sea level again near a wondrous place known as Inch Beach. We left the Way and went down to the beach to eat our lunch. After a quick shopping break at the beach, we returned to the Way, climbing back up to 160 feet. There was a lot of uphill today!

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And we did get rained on some, but we had our rain gear. Plus the rain here is a fine mist, especially up in the mountains. We saw lots of sheep, some cows and some horses.

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Flowers bloom riotously here.

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This foxglove was growing in a stone wall of an abandoned house.
Finally, after walking a bit more than 17 km today, we strolled down, down, down, back to 40 feet above sea level into Annascaul.

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All together, we walked about 5 hours today. We are ensconced at The Old Anchor Inn, where our hostess, Bea, has already made us feel welcome. Tomorrow we are opting for a short day, as approximately a fourth of our walk would take us into more bogs. We instead are walking halfway (11 km), where they will pick us up and drive us the rest of the way to Dingle; which will be nice as it will give us more time to shop some of the artisan’s  shops tomorrow. Stay tuned for more Ireland walking adventures!