My travels: The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016

A few weeks ago, I decided to take an overnight trip to my old stomping ground of Washington, D.C. for my first The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) summer show. TNNA is a membership organization for needlearts professionals. The summer show was a bit closer to home this year and I decided to visit after interviewing Beth Whiteside on the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show. I’m so glad I did! I’m sharing some of the highlights with you today.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016
My view from the hotel window, a project I worked on during the train ride, and my official show badge.

At the top of the highlights list was having the chance to see some of my designer pals in person and meeting others face-to-face for the first time. Tamara from Moogly and Jessie from Jessie At Home were kind enough to make introductions since they are show veterans. (You can read Jessie’s TNNA highlights post here.)

I had a chance to sit down with Stacey from FreshStitches for a fabulous podcast interview, but unfortunately, technical issues messed up the recording. (Luckily, Stacey has decided to forgive me.) Stacey is launching a new yarn line with Louet and the colors are fabulous! I also got to see Lisa from LMB Designs and Mary Beth Temple again.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016
I finally met Linda Dean, Tammy Hildebrand, and Amy from Crochetville in person and I got to hang out briefly at the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) booth.

In retrospect, I should definitely have taken more pictures while I was there! But since I was only going to be at the show for one day, I was trying to make my way around to as many booths as possible to meet the different exhibitors.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016
Assorted samples from the trade show floor. Clockwise from top left: Chic-A badge holder, Love + Leche sample, Handy Caddy, The YarnIt, Unicorn Fibre samples, and Retromatic Fripperies giftie.

I did take a few pictures when I finally found the Molly Girl Yarn booth. You may remember that I met Angela, the dyer behind Molly Girl, at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival a few years ago when her company was still called Yarn Monkey Productions.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016The Molly Girl booth was super fun because it was interactive. Angela gave out “blank” color cards and you could attach your own samples of the yarns you wanted to try. I can’t wait to play around with her new lines. (If you love Molly Girl Yarn, too, check out my free crochet pattern for the Faux Mistake Rib Watchman’s Cap in 8 sizes.)

And, just before I left, I got to meet Teresa from Teresa Ruch Designs for the first time. I was first introduced to her lovely Tencel yarns last year when I designed the Ella’s Rhythm Shawl for Yarnbox.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016
Teresa sent me home with this vibrant skein of her 3/2 Tencel yarn in Orange. Yum!

Believe it or not, I was able to stuff a few more goodies in my bag, too, before leaving the show at around 6 p.m. to head back to New York City. I have some secret projects and reviews in the works that I’ll share with you soon.

2013 Temperature Scarf: Lessons Learned

I’m excited to say that I did finish crocheting my temperature scarf this week.  The 113 remaining rows just flew by.

blog Temperature scarf folded roll

I ended up using 8 different colorways for this project.

Temperature Scarf Yarn Collage


Four of the skeins (Dream in Color Classy in Spring Tickle and Happy Forest and madelinetosh tosh vintage in Fragrant and Cove) were purchased at my favorite local yarn shop, Knitty City; two others (Miss Babs Yowza–Whatta Skein! in Violets in the Grass and madelinetosh tosh vintage in Midnight in Manhattan) were picked up at another local yarn shop, The Yarn Company; and I bought the two remaining skeins (Molly Girl Chart Topper in Anastasia and Aella) from a local dyer at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival.

2013 Temperature Scarf outline

My original plan called for the use of just 7 yarns, but since 24% of the year’s dates fell into the same temperature range, I ended up running out of yarn for one of the temperature ranges and adding another yarn.

Since I was crocheting at a significant lag (I recorded the temperatures throughout the year, but ended up crocheting most of the scarf after November), I was able to make a substitution.  If I were to make another temperature scarf, I’d use a shorter range of temperatures, perhaps 8 degrees for each color.

blog Temperature scarf folded detail

Of course, this would mean that some colors wouldn’t be used at all.  As it stands, the Spring Tickle (representing the coldest temperature range) was only used for two rows.

One thing I’m happy I didn’t do was assign colors based on their association to the temperature.  Many of the temperature scarves I’ve seen use blues for lower temperatures and reds for higher temperatures, for example.  I just arranged my colorways in an order that was pleasing to my eye when I first started this project, and then assigned the temperatures in that order.

blog Temperature scarf folded flat

Another thing I would do differently (though I LOVE how the Violets in the Grass colorway looks in this scarf) would be to only use yarns with a very similar thickness.  The Miss Babs yarn is much thinner than the rest, and I used a larger hook for those rows to keep the gauge similar.

Now that the scarf is blocked, I’d really like to add some buttons.

blog Temperature scarf folded top


The stitch pattern I’ve used for this scarf sort of naturally forms a row of button holes at the edge.  But with all of these colors, it’s hard to pick a good set of buttons.  Naturally, I dug through my collection first.

blog Temperature scarf button ideas

I’m leaning towards using the blue square buttons at the top left and maybe the black and white polka dots.  I don’t want to seal this up permanently as an infinity cowl/circle scarf, but I think I’m less likely to wear it as a scarf, so buttons seemed the perfect solution.

Or, should I just go out and try to find buttons specifically for this project?  What do you think?

Overall, I really enjoyed my first conceptual crochet project. It was interesting to give away control of the striping and to create a project that I absolutely couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.  I think my next conceptual crochet project will be a blanket of some kind – but that’s not until I work through more of my remaining stash!

And, on that note, I’m pleased to say that I used up 873 yards of yarn with this project.  My scarf measures about 8.5″ (21.5 cm) by 79″ (200.5 cm), which is pretty long for me since I’m only 5’3″ (1.6 m).  It’s gorgeous though, and perfect for the next cold spell.

Small Business Holiday Shopping Guide

In the U.S., tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day of reflection and gratitude.  The holiday is supposed to be about being thankful for what you have and spending time with loved ones (and let’s not forget eating favorite foods), but it has also become the official start of the winter holiday shopping season. I dislike crowds and rampant consumerism, so Black Friday sales and doorbusters are pretty much the total opposite of my idea of a good time.

Especially during this time of year, it’s important for me to support small businesses.  Here’s my version of a Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday shopping guide highlighting some great small businesses I’ve encountered with over the past year.  (Oh yeah, and there are some discounts, too.)

Shameless Self-Promotion

I’ll start by saying that I’m offering a 25% discount in my Ravelry and Etsy shops with coupon code shopsmall13 through 11:59 Eastern on Monday, December 2, 2013.

Underground Crafter pattern collage

In my Ravelry shop, you’ll can purchase any of my self-published patterns for instant download.  All of these patterns are included in the Indie Design Gift-a-long on Ravelry, where you can win great prizes from indie designers and yarn companies.


Underground Crafter hooks Collage

You’ll find the same patterns in my Etsy shop, along with bamboo Tunisian crochet, crochet, and “knooking” (knitting with a crochet hook) hooks.  If you’re looking for a fun crafty gift, I sell a Tunisian crochet gift set with 5 Tunisian crochet hooks and my Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet all wrapped up nicely with a gift card.


Other Gift Ideas for Crocheters and Knitters

Sistermaide hooks


Molly Girl Chart Topper

  • Earlier this year, I spent the day at the farm of the Long Island Livestock Company, which was amazing.  (I’m still working on writing up a blog post to do my visit justice!)  If you’re in the Long Island area this Sunday, you should absolutely check out the open house at the farm, where you can buy her gorgeous llama yarns, rovings, and skin care products.  (And don’t forget the cat toys, which my cat gave 5 stars.)  You can find more details on her Facebook page.  Click on the flier to enlarge it.

Long Island Livestock Company open house


  • I recently finished reading Sweater 101, an amazing book by Cheryl Brunette that is produced by an indie/small publisher.  If you have a friend who wants to try out knitting (or even crocheting, because there is a lot of general information) their own sweater, this would be a fabulous gift.  You can find more knitting and crochet books that I’ve reviewed here.


  • And if you’re looking for other ideas for the knitters and crocheters in your life, check out Marly Bird‘s frequently updated compilation of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales on her blog here. You can find links to discounts on patterns, yarn, needles/hooks, bags, and all sorts of other goodies there.


Big Ticket Items

And in case you’re in the position to splurge (as a gift, or for yourself)…

Jenny Hall

Last year, I injured my back and spent most of 2013 in constant discomfort.  A few months ago, I was referred to Jenny Hall, a Licensed Massage Therapist. I always thought massage was a frivolous luxury, but Jenny’s approach to massage isn’t about spending a day at the spa to pamper yourself, but being aware of your body and working on it as part of a long term plan for your health.  Visiting her office has been one of the best decisions I’ve made and is truly money well spent.  For those of you in the New York City area, Jenny offers competitive rates, including discount packages.

If you live elsewhere, Jenny recommends looking for a reputable massage therapist through the American Massage Therapy Association, or by reading reviews in a local Yelp search.

Creativity Yenta

My long time readers already know Carlota Zimmerman, the Creativity Yenta (interviewed here).  Carlota is a creativity coach, and was instrumental in helping me make a career transition this year.  With the New Year around the corner, booking a series of appointments with Carlota for yourself, or as a gift for a loved one, may be the inspiration needed to kick off a career or other creative transition.  And Carlota’s offering a special discount for my readers!

Get. Started. Now.

Ready to make 2014 the year you achieve your goals? Ready to start creating a life you love? This package is for people who are looking to change their lives, but are not exactly sure how to get started, given how overwhelming the process can be. Many people have very manageable goals, but they find that the actual mechanics of starting something new are, frankly, terrifying.

Terrifying… unless you hire a coach with a Type-A personality who loves to create detailed, step-by-step plans to get people started, and is comfortable holding clients accountable.  (Oh, you lucky people.) Over these six weeks, we’ll organize your goals, and craft a realistic strategy based on your personality and experience, allowing you to start creating the life you’ve always wanted.

Get. Started. Now.

So many people find that the hardest thing is knowing where and how to start. I’ll get you started, and then I’ll help you create the long-term habits necessary to maintain and grow your success. At the end of six weeks, you’ll have an exit strategy to keep moving forward, as well as the skills necessary to keep creating the opportunities you need. $575

This package is specifically for friends of Underground Crafter. It will expire on December 31, 2013. To take advantage of this package, please email me at carlotazee AT gmail DOT com, and become a fan of my business Facebook page.


Please remember to shop small throughout the holiday season, and to think about buying (or making) creative gifts that inspire the recipients!

Surmount the Stash – October Review

Perhaps this post should be subtitled,”How the mighty have fallen.”  After doing some supersonic stashbusting in September, I had an unusually high level of stash acquisition in October.

My accomplishments

On the other hand…

And four skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas cotton (Worsted and Multi) after the storm.

Although I had intended projects for these skeins, I definitely feel that the storm had something to do with it.  Beforehand, I imagined I would do a lot of crocheting while hibernating indoors.  (I actually spent more time online and watching the news.) After Sandy I wanted to support a local business when so many have been devastated, perhaps beyond repair.  Whatever the reasons, these excursions added another 945 yards (equivalent to 2.6 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver) to my stash.

The Verdict

I think it’s clear the stash emerged victorious this month.  I ended up with 3,375 more yards in my stash than I used this month – that’s like 9.25 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver!  On the other hand, I did such a great job of stashbusting during the year that all the yarn still fits into my plastic tubs, with space to spare!  When I started this challenge, I also had yarn stashed in bags and boxes because my bins were overrun.

November Goals

I would like to finish up my holiday projects using stash yarn, make 2 or 3 more charity projects, and get started on another scarf or cowl for me.  I love the one I made in October, but I also need something neutral that I can wear.

For more stashbusting updates, visit the Surmount the Stash group on Ravelry.

How are your stashbusting efforts going?

Year of Projects, Year 2: Spinning, Take 1

This post contains affiliate links.

I had a bit of a cliffhanger in my last Year of Projects update (you might have missed it since it was hidden between pictures of yarn): would I be able to take the Basic Dropspindling class at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival? It turns out that there was room for me.  But, um…  well, you can be the judge.

Is that what you call handspun?

Clearly, I have a long way to go before I can actually spin some yarn that anyone (myself included) would ever use.  While I did resist the urge to buy a stunningly beautiful hand made drop spindle from Hearthwise, I couldn’t stop myself from getting some super cool roving.  You know, for that day when I’m an accomplished spinner and stuff.


So from here on out, I’ll be relying on these spinning teachers: Abby Franquemont (via Respect the Spindle) and Maggie Casey (via Start Spinning).

If these don’t help, there’s always Drucilla Pettibone‘s Craftsy class.  I think spinning is something I’ll need to set aside a fair amount of time for (since a 90 minute class was definitely not enough!).  That probably means that my next self-guided spinning lesson will take place over Thanksgiving weekend or the break from work between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This seems as good a time as any to share an update on my general YOP progress so far.

1) Crochet 52 granny squares for charity. I’m furthest along here.  I have 25 blocks finished (I made 26 but one was frogged).

2) Knit my first complete pair of socks.  It appears I’m not a sock person.  My socks have stalled since the end of the Ravellenic Games.

3) Make my mom a special bedspread for her milestone birthday.  I might need a little help here.  I already started working on these squares … and then I realized there’s a Tree of Life crochet pattern.  I started thinking maybe I should switch to a Tree of Life project?  What do you think?  (If it helps you decide, the yarn is a little more cream and less yellow than it appears in the picture.)

4) Learn to spin.  See above for update.

5) Design my own Bruges lace pattern. Done!  I released Visit to the Kantcentrum this week.  If you’ve never done Bruges lace crochet before, there is a photo tutorial inside.  As a thank you to all my YOP friends for your support, you can download it for free on Ravelry with coupon code BrugesYOP (or by following this link) through October 31.

Visit to the Kantcentrum, a Bruges lace crochet pattern with a photo tutorial for newbies.

6) Learn overlay crochet. No progress yet.

7) Create my own hairpin lace pattern.  No progress yet.

8 ) Try double knitting. No progress yet.

9) Try domino (modular) knitting. I’ve looked over the book, and even had a false start.  Perhaps I should make a charity domino square?

10) Make a small project inspired by Pop Knitting: Bold Motifs Using Color & Stitch.  No progress yet.

11) Learn knit entrelac. No progress yet.

12) Design a crochet lace shawl pattern or recipe for my DC 37 crochet class students.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is actually finished.  The design has even been tested and edited.  You’ll just have to wait until it is ready for release…

For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.