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  • Star Struck in the Big Apple

    Last week I winged my way toward NYC for the Book Expo America show (BEA) to share with the book world our latest and greatest books in the creative, crafty arena. While I was enjoying my lay over in Chicago, I gave the Late Show with David Letterman a call to see if they had a standby ticket for little ole me for the taping that afternoon. Well, they did but I was #50 on the list and I had to be at 53rd and Broadway no later than 3:30. I was scheduled to land at LaGuardia Airport at 2:14, which I actually did! But the traffic just wasn’t on my side (or so I thought). By the time I made it by the hotel on 31st Street, checked in, dropped my bag, and grabbed a cab uptown I was about 20 minutes late to the Ed Sullivan Theatre. The cute little girl managing the line must have been new – she was so sweet. She went to check but the answer was no, they weren’t letting me in.

    I was disappointed but decided to hang around the stage door on 53rd Street. Sarah Jessica Parker was the scheduled guest and two friendly Aussie gals told me she had already entered. So I hung around talking to them and others that began to gather. The official paparazzi began to arrive as well. Finally, about an hour later, she emerged! The screaming and pushing was a little overwhelming but I stood my ground. After SJP gave the paparazzi a wave and a bow she crossed 53rd Street and waltzed right up to our group of fans patiently standing behind the barrier. She was friendly and ever-so-kindly signed autographs pushed her way. With the crowd pressing in, I ended up with a lot of sidewalk shots and tops of heads but am especially pleased with this one.

    So, you see, if I had gotten into the theatre I would have missed out on the up close, star experience and talking to all those other folks from other parts of the country and world. What a great way to start my visit to New York City!

  • Celebrity Style in Knit and Crochet

    We’ve been seeing them for the past couple of years, from the streets of Los Angeles to the high-fashion runways of New York City. They’re slouchy beanies—those loose, floppy caps sported by so many of our favorite celebrities. We first started spotting them on some trend-setting actresses but their unisex appeal soon had the boys getting in on the beanie action too. Now you can see them not only on television and movie stars, but rock and pop musicians and even a few famous athletes.
    We have to admit… we love them! Sure they’re great for keeping your head warm, but they also make fantastic fashion accessories. These hats are super chic and have a timeless style that’s simple, yet sophisticated. They go with just about any outfit, day or night and lend it a truly hip and urban appeal! Put one on, slip on the shades, and we feel just like one of those celebrities dodging the cameras of the paparazzi. What’s not to like?
    Now, I suppose you could pick one up at a pricey boutique, but we’re all creative types, right? Why would we pass up the opportunity to make our own hip headwear? And while we’re at it, we might as well work up hats for all our loved ones! That way, the whole family can feel like they’re in the spotlight. The good news is we’ve got two new leaflets from Leisure Arts that will help us all do just that.
    Are you a knitter? We’ve got you covered. Crazy about crochet? Never fear, we didn’t forget about you. Two versions of Celebrity Slouchy Beanies for the Family are available, one with knit patterns and one with crochet. How great is that? You can choose your preferred craft or dive into both. Each booklet has enough unique and inspired designs that you’ll definitely want to explore all of them!
    Both leaflets feature 7 designs from the fabulous Lisa Gentry, an amazingly talented designer who we always enjoy working with. She’s definitely outdone herself this time.
    Knit Celebrity Slouchy Beanies runs the style gamut, from the clean lines of the Easy-Going beanie to the vintage braids of the Cabled Classic. And what toddler wouldn’t look oh-so-precious in the Fun Stripes beanie?
    Crochet Celebrity Slouchy Beanies also encompasses a diverse selection of toppers. He’ll look great in the Textured Stripes beanie and she’ll be surprised how hip a classic design can be with the Granny Square beanie. Of course, the striped Kids Stuff beanie will have any child loving their fun, textured cap.
    We can’t wait to get stitching and make ourselves a slew of cool and contemporary headwear—hopefully you’ll be inspired to join the celebrity slouchy beanie revolution as well. After all, it’s always fun to feel like you’re the center of attention. Put yours on and you can almost hear the cameras clicking.
  • Summer Destinations

    Wow! Memorial Day is almost here. And you know what that means… a pair of new flip-flops and a fresh tube of self-tanning lotion! And, its also time to make plans for summer vacation. Of course, some of you organized people are way ahead of me and already have reservations at the beach and a new swimsuit. Buying a bathing suit is on my “top 10” list of the most painful things you can’t avoid. You know… right up there with having a root canal, if you get my drift! Anyway, back to where I was going here…

    This last Friday night I was invited to speak at the “girls’ night out” dinner planned by the energetic ladies at the NLR Methodist Church. The event was titled “Summer Destinations” and there were 17 hostesses who each decorated a table for 10 in a vacation destination theme. So clever and so much fun to walk around the room looking at the tables and visiting with all these super-creative women! The table where I sat had a Washington D.C. theme in guess what colors? One of my favorite tables had an Irish theme with small collectable cottages and beautiful place settings featuring plates painted with scenes from the Irish countryside. All the tables had party favors, too. The hostess at the Irish table made crocheted dishcloths in green and white yarn and tied them to the chair backs with shamrocks and ribbon. Such a different and cute idea! Here are some cute, colorful dishcloth from Leisure Art's Kitchen Basics in Cotton, aren't they fun? Take a look at some of the fantastic tables!

    The local department store (no name-dropping) had a fashion show with lots of sassy resort wear and lots of fabulous accessories. Oh, those shoes and purses!! Good thing I only brought “MILK” in my purse… you know: “Money…ID…Lipstick…Keys” HAHA! No credit cards!

    So… Hopefully you are still reading this and want to know where I fit in amid all this excitement? Well somewhere between the sparkly sandals and the travel bingo, I gave a short (but REALLY exciting, trust me!) talk about “stay-cation” entertaining. You know. A party where you take a vacation without leaving the driveway?! I set up some quick and easy “tablescape” ideas (designer talk for centerpieces!) and talked about entertaining the easy way. Best idea: have a buffet and let your guests bring some of the food! One of my tablescapes was a “Vegas Buffet Baby” party.

    One of the door prizes (there was a fight over this, really!) I brought was a DVD, available on the LA website called The Creative Party Guide, filled with awesome tips and ideas including (my favorite) how to transform your garage into an elegant party space. Who knew?!

    I also gave a quick demo on how to create a quick and easy dessert pedestal. You can see this idea in our latest leaflet from Gooseberry Patch Fresh From the Farm (Coming Soon). There are some fantastic recipes in this book, too!

    And don’t forget about having a get-together for all the families in your neighborhood. Have a “Happy Camper” party in the backyard with hiker’s lunches wrapped in a bandana and tied onto a stick, s’mores over the fire pit and paddle ball party favors from Gooseberry Patch Fresh From the Farm (Coming Soon)!

    So, have fun this summer. Whether you are near or far, stay safe. Use lots of sun block and visit my blog again for more crafty and fun ideas!

    Bon Voyage,

    Patti Uhiren, Special Projects Deisgner

  • A Quick Trip to Spring Quilt Market

    Last week I had the opportunity to make a quick trip to Minneapolis to see all things quilt at the Spring Quilt Market. I always look forward to the chance to meet face-to-face with our designers and it's always a lot of fun to see what new things everyone is working on. The other exciting thing about Spring market is that it moves around so that each time I go, there are a wide variety of new exhibitors. The Fall market in Houston may be too far away or too big to attempt for the first time, but the smaller Spring show is just right. Still, there's a lot to see and do even at this "smaller" show. This year I felt like there was more traffic and more buzz in the air.

    That probably started with the Schoolhouse on Thursday afternoon. I flew in very, very early so that I could get over to the convention center in time to see a few of the afternoon sessions of Schoolhouse. The afternoon before the show many designers and companies sponsor a 30-minute session to tell shopowners about the new products they have coming out. It's always a lot of fun because everyone's excited to be there and to have a chance to hear from a favorite. Here you get to see new fabric lines and hear from the designers, see the quilts for new patterns and techniques, find out about new tools and you might even be lucky enough to get a great sample to take back home. Two of our designers that I managed to catch, Carrie Nelson from Miss Rosie's Pattern Company and Pat Sloan, had cram packed rooms for their sessions. Carrie was showing off her new books (as well as an upcoming fabric line with Henry Glass) and Pat was debuting a new rotary cutting system (rulers, cutters, and mats) that she designed for Sullivans.

    After the excitement of Schoolhouse, I was ready to touch base with old friends and to meet new ones at the show. I started when the doors opened and nearly closed the place down. In nearly every case, edging into each booth was a challenge because of the crowds, but what a great problem to have! In between I met with Carrie and Pat as well as Barb and Mary from Me and My Sister. They were all set to do book signings in the Checker booth. I also saw Amy Hamberlin from Kati Cupcake and Amanda Herring from The Quilted Fish, two of our newest designers who'll have books out soon (and already have their own fabric lines!). Kristine Poor from Poorhouse Quilt Designs was also there, exhibiting at her first market, and it looked like things were going well! I snagged just a minute to talk to Delores Storm from Lakadaisies who had a full house. I know that means great things for her upcoming redwork books. And I bumped into Linda Lum DeBono in the aisles (we usually find each other on airport shuttles for some reason) and visited Lazy Girl Joan Hawley while she did a demo on her new zipper technique for her fabulous bags (as well as the benefits of the iPad just for me) in the Checker booth. On the way home, I realized I missed a few friends so I'll be sure to visit them first in Houston. It was a busy show and being unable to chat for long because your booth is busy, busy, busy is such a great thing! (Click on the links to visit each designer's blog to find out what she thought about Market).

    I also had a chance to meet a few people that might be interested in books...always exciting, but we'll have to wait a while to see how that turns out. Oh, and of IS a quilt show! You can't forget the quilts. It seems like I always save those for last at Fall Quilt Market and end up running through them on the last day at the last minute. At this show, they're up front and center, difficult to miss! This one's called "Spring Field" by Akiko Kawata.

    It really was a quick trip but it's great to see how much exciting new stuff is happening in the world of quilting. You can find out more about all these designers and their beautiful quilting books at

  • "The Wrapping Scarf Revolution" honored by the Connecticut Press Club

    My sincere thanks to the Connecticut Press Club for honoring "The Wrapping Scarf Revolution" with a First Prize Award for Nonfiction-Instructional. Judged by members of the Delaware Press Club, the annual contest was celebrated at the 9th Annual Awards Dinner last night at Quattro Pazzi Restaurant in Norwalk.

    The highlight of the evening (other than winning!) was listening to a talk by Pulitzer winning playwright Donald Margulies. His speech was fascinating and full of gems of wisdom that he normally reserves for his undergrad students at Yale. At one point, he talked about his Broadway debut which he claims was a "debacle" and when I asked him to elaborate on that, it turns out that what happened to him was what happens to so many of us when we compromise too much and lose our original vision.

    Like all successful people, he picked himself up, dusted himself off and moved on to eventually win the Pulitzer prize for his drama, "Dinner with Friends".

    Thanks to everyone who has helped my little green book get off the ground and and a big shout out to Leisure Arts for fully supporting my original vision for the book. Happy wrapping everyone and cheers to all our successes and dusted off failures!

    xoxo Patricia

  • Wrapping scarves make great fruit carriers!

    My boys sure do love them some grapefruit. We buy it by the boxful and devour it all throughout winter and early spring to steer clear of colds and other nasty winter bugs. Since it's the one thing we always have lots of, we often share the wealth when going over a friend's house or repaying some debt of neighborly gratitude. Here's how to make a great little hobo bag from a wrapping scarf for carrying your fruit.

    Bagging up about 9-10 regular sized grapefruits will require a Medium sized wrap.

    Spread out the wrap and fold in half so that the wrong side is showing.

    Take one corner of the wrap and tie a single knot about a third of the length of the side. When making the single knot, try wrapping the fabric around your hand to make a neat knot.

    Repeat on the other side. Make sure both sides are even and that the knots are nice and snug.

    Open the wrap by separating the corners that aren't tied.

    Give the whole thing a little fliperoo and fold the knotted ends into the center of the wrap.

    Lift up your newly formed bag by the free corners and give her a little shake down. Gently punch your fist into the bottom of the bag to form the pocket.

    Tie the loose ends in a tight square knot. The bag looks deceivingly small. But look at how much grapefruit goodness fits inside!

    So much nicer than a yucky plastic bag. Now off to my wonderful neighbor Ann's who gave me a tub of the most wonderful kimchi a couple weeks ago. Happy wrapping to you and remember that wrapping with fabric is not only good for the earth, it's easy peasy grapefruit squeezy!

    This and other bag making how-tos in The Wrapping Scarf Revolution.
    Till next time, happy wrapping! xo Patricia

  • Great Knits for Summer

    As I gazed out the window today, ok, as I sat at my desk daydreaming about my next great knit project, I realized that whatever the season, there is a knit project that’s perfect—the perfect sweater. As summer approaches, the temperature’s beginning to climb in Arkansas, but even here in our normally hot and humid climate, the summer evenings can make you reach for a wrap or sweater to ward off the breeze. But even more than that, we have to be fashionable. Right, girls?

    In the search for my next knit sweater, I’ve discovered a couple of essential leaflets for your library. If you haven’t gotten them yet, you’ll want to take a look!

    Wardrobe Favorites, designed by Lisa J. Ellis, features 6 wardrobe must-haves, and two of them are perfectly designed for this season. I would say “very cute”.

    Timeless Styles, by Cynthia Guggemos, is just that…original knit fashions that remain stylish year after year. Knitted with a light weight yarn, the stems and leaves vest pattern is my fav. I can see this as a casual addition to slacks (as shown) or paired with evening attire. Very functional and beautiful!

    The diamonds crop top is another winner. The great diamond design really sets this top off, and the whole design is worked in one piece to the underarm.

    Check out these pattern books. I think you will love the results! I can’t wait to get stitching!

    P.S. Wanted to share a photo of a co-worker in a recently completed spring sweater. Isn’t it lovely! I adore the color! Laticia is new to knitting garments, and I think she did a fantastic job! Let’s give her a hand!

  • A Ban on Plastic Bags

    Wendy Carlson for The New York Times

    I knew I loved DC! What great news to hear that our nation's capitol has started charging a 5 cent tax on disposable plastic bags. The new law which went into effect on January 1st, not only dramatically reduced the amount of plastic bags being used, it generated $150,000 in one month to help clean up the Anacostia River. This is great news!

    Back in 2002, Ireland placed a 15 cent tax on their plastic bags and dropped their usage by 90%. When I was living in Korea in the late 90s, we purchased pricey mandatory garbage bags, forcing us to be careful what we threw away. These garbage bags were also translucent and if you happened to throw out some recyclables in your regular garbage, forget about it. People in your apartment building would give you nasty looks for weeks. Seinfeld style.

    It's taking the US a long time to get the message, but this taxing thing works! Especially when so many people are already on the verge of giving up plastic bags. Now the whole nation just needs to follow suit. At a time when most cities and states are experiencing budget crisis, THIS is the time!

    Very important to remember is how resistant people can be to change. Many District residents were furiously up in arms when they first faced the tax in January. This Washington Informer article from January makes it very clear how angry many people were at the time.

    I so admire our neighboring town of Westport, CT, for banning plastic bags in March of last year, becoming the first town in Connecticut to do so. In the year that has passed, not a single additional town in CT has followed suit although Westport reports no problems with the ban and a reduction of about a million bags so far. Wilton is said to be considering a similar law.

    The New York Times reported that the ordinance had passed 26 to 5 despite opposition by representatives from the chemical industry and the supermarket chains. “Westport is well known for being progressive, and in the forefront of social issues,” said Gordon Joseloff, a first selectman, noting that it was one of the first communities to pass a resolution opposing the Vietnam War. (NYT)

    In Korea, groceries were carried in wrapping scarves for centuries. Check out how to make big hobo bags (first pic) in the The Wrapping Scarf Revolution.

    Bravo DC and Westport! What a great display of leadership.
    Till next time, happy wrapping! xo Patricia

  • I’m Late, I’m Late, for a Very Important Date!

    Well, I missed Doug’s shower last Friday and as Martha reported, it was a special one. Two baby girls…wow!

    I always like to make gifts for babies and this was no exception. I decided to make knitted wash clothes and because Doug is concerned about the future of our planet (and he’ll now have two more important reasons) I searched out 100% organic cotton yarn. The trick was to find one that was soft enough and the right weight. I did finally find a soft medium weight but let me tell you, colors were limited. Typically, organic yarn is only found in a range of earthy colors so I chose a nice creamy tan and a twist of off-white and grey. No girly pinks in this bunch!

    The patterns are from Baby Washcloths to Knit by Melissa Burnham. There are 9 really cute designs in the leaflet. I chose the baby bottle and baby buggy. The motif is created with purl stitches on a field of knit stitches and they’re so quick and easy to make.

    I was pleased with the end result and was happy to deliver them to the father-to-be this afternoon. I hope the girls enjoy them for many bath times to come!

  • Celebration Day!

    Today we celebrated something very special. A co-worker, Doug (from Crochet Soiree), was given a baby shower. In just a few short weeks, he will become the father of two baby girls…that’s right two. Oh, it is so sweet and very pink I might add. I love, love, love baby showers. For years, when baby showers were given, I always wrapped the gifts in receiving blankets. I would tie the packages with ribbon, string or whatever I could find. In fact, sometimes I would even tape the blankets around them. I thought it was a practical thing and pretty cute, too!

    Well, not any more! Seriously, when The Wrapping Scarf Revolution by Patricia Lee was printed I was delighted to see that what I had been using all these years, had a name…bojagi. I learned there was art to making the package pretty by using a series of special knots. This is derived from an ancient Korean inspired art of wrapping gifts or any totable with a fabric square. So I proceeded to teach myself the art of wrapping and knot tying. Look - - - - - how cute are these!!

    In these eco-friendly times, I’m glad that I can make a contribution. Give it a try—you’ll love the results. Use your own fabrics or buy ready made Bobo wraps. It is really fun!

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