Lake County Fair 2014 – Part 1


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Ok, I’m all set and ready to post about the Lake County Fair this year!  Here it goes!

The fair was hopping again this year.  I could not believe how many people were present on exhibitor’s night!  It felt like more than usual as we all packed into the Arts building to see if we had won. I was literally shoulder to shoulder with other participants for most of the evening.


As always, there were so many wonderful crafts on display.  Quilts and afghans lined all of the walls, and every display case was packed.


A sample of the knit and crocheted toys on display.

A sample of the knit and crocheted toys on display.


Some of the crocheted shawls.

Some of the crocheted shawls.


I had seven entries in the fair this year, and I ribboned in four.  My Radiating Star Blanket, my On The Road Shawl, and my Linen Stitch Scarf did not place.

There were SO MANY knit shawl entries this year, and they were all so great!  Go knitters!  Clearly, I need to amp up my game for next year if I plan to enter a shawl.

So many knit shawls!

So many knit shawls!  This is only a sampling of the competition.  I wish they were displayed open so that all of the detail could be appreciated.

I did well in hats this year. 

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Both my crochet and knit hats can be seen in the case behind me: crochet hat on the stand to the left and knit hat in the front right.

I earned a first place (blue) ribbon in a rather large category of knit hats.

My lace, knit Heart Hat earned a first place ribbon and my Broken Seed Stitch Socks earned third.

My lace, knit Heart Hat earned a first place ribbon and my Broken Seed Stitch Socks earned third.



My only crochet entry this year was this Tapestry Crochet Heart Hat, and it took second place in another rather large category.  I was pleased!



I earned a third place ribbon in socks.  I entered my Broken Seed Stitch Socks that I knit in cotton/bamboo.

The winners!

The winners!  My entry is on the far left (white ribbon).

More beautiful sock entries.

More beautiful sock entries.

My Fisherman’s mittens took second place (red ribbon) to a pair of white, lace gloves.


My entry can be seen on the right of the photo. The white gloves that took first place also won the Sweepstakes Rosette for the whole knitting division (seen on the left of the photo).



Knit and crochet glove and mitten entries.

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As always, I had a great time this year.  Stay tuned for yet another post about more great crafts on exhibit at the fair.  There were so many wonderful things!

~Happy crafting!


Even More Will County Fair!

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Yesterday I posted about my participation in the knit and crochet categories in the Illinois Will County Fair.  Today, I want to share some photos of my favorite things that other people made.

But first I have to tell you that my friend Dawn is adored by all goats.


It’s true.  When she approaches, they all come running.  This little white one wouldn’t let her leave.  If you look closely, I swear the goat is smiling.



I also have to tell you that I convinced my friend Kim to enter the fair this year.  Kim likes to crochet, and she’s very artistic.  She came up with bunches of entries.  Here are two of her stuffed toys that won ribbons:

The two toys on the left were crocheted by Kim.

The two toys on the left were crocheted by Kim.


Speaking of crochet, I love this basket of flowers that someone entered.  Isn’t it great?  It is so well done.



And since we all know I’m partial to the knitters, I have to show off this fine, knit centerpiece on display.



And how about a Rubik’s Cube cake?  It just cracked me up!

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Speaking of food, my favorite (and the judge’s favorite) crocheted pot holders this year:


I speak from experience when I say that it is tough to keep finding new, fair-worthy pot holders to enter.  I love the toast and eggs! 


Lastly, I just get a huge kick out of this entry in photography:  it’s someone’s open-mouthed cat wearing a Snuggy.  From the look of that blue ribbon there, the judges appreciated it too.

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I had fun seeing all of the exhibits.  As you know, I look forward to the summer fairs every year, and this one did not disappoint.



All smiles on the day of judging.  [From left to right:  me, Dawn, Kim and Chester (Kim's dad)].

All smiles on the day of judging. [From left to right: me, Dawn, Kim and Chester (Kim’s dad)].

~Happy knitting!


Knit One…. Crochet Two…

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Since I haven’t been posting as much as I would like lately, I thought I would share what is currently on my needles….. and what was recently on my hook!

Last year, I decided to enter not only some knitting, but also a crocheted item into the county fairs.  I couldn’t find any fair-worthy pot holder patterns for my entry this year (but I think I found a pattern for NEXT year), so I decided I would crochet a hat instead.

I chose this:


It is a tapestry crochet pattern.  Tapestry crochet is sort of like stranded colorwork in knitting, except with single crochet stitches.  The resulting fabric is really thick because you carry all of the yarn strands within the stitches of your work.  For this reason, it is often used for elaborately patterned baskets. 


I chose some worsted weight wool yarn for the project in colors I thought would work well together.  All of the yarn was from my existing yarn stash.


My hat about half way done. You can see why this technique is often used for patterned baskets.

I should have chosen a sport weight yarn, and dropped down a few hook sizes because my hat came out way too big to be a pull-on cap as the pattern intended.  In order to shrink the hat, I soaked it and ran it through the dryer, which did help to some degree.




Since the hat could still work as a ‘slouch’ style hat, I added a really large pom pom to the top to weigh the hat down and make it slouch better when worn.



I entered the hat into the Lake County Fair this year, and despite its challenges, it scored a second place ribbon.  I was excited and happy to have ribboned.

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The red hat in the front right corner of the case behind me in the photo (below) was my knit hat entry which actually won a blue ribbon this year.  I love fair season.  My items are still on display at Lake County Fair at the time of this post, but up next for me will be the Will County Fair. 

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Since I have no socks to enter in that fair this year, I picked up my only half completed Snowflower socks that I started making for my cousin Sharon a year and a half ago.  I thought I could finish the second sock, enter them into the fair, and then finally send them to Sharon, who lives in Canada, when the fairs are all done.


So far so good on that plan.  The second sock is currently in the Soak wash in preparation for blocking, and I expect to have the pair ready in time for the fair in another week.

~Happy knitting!

Now Selling on Etsy!

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As mentioned in the previous few posts, Kristenisms now also has an Etsy shop!  I was hoping to post an official announcement once I had the shop set up exactly how I want it to be, but alas, things are moving along SLOWLY, and I thought it best just to make it officially known now.

If you click on this badge, it will take you right to my shop:


My goal is to sell my knit and crocheted items (and some sewing) exclusively at the shop, but I have some vintage collectibles for sale there currently as well.  For anyone who has given setting up shop on Etsy a shot, you know that generating traffic and getting noticed is not an easy feat, and it seems, for now, that I get more visitors viewing the collectibles than anything else.  I’m hoping a few sales there will help gain my shop some credibility for shoppers who are nervous about buying from a brand new seller.  And then maybe my hand knits will start to sell.

I am having fun with the shop so far, and I haven’t had any trouble stocking it.  This past weekend, I made the cutest, felted wool bowls!  I’m in love with them!!!




I listed two today, and I have more that are still drying on blockers.  I plan to post about how I make them eventually.  Notice the awesome, vintage, metal, distressed button?  Embellishing the bowls has given me an excuse to dip into my vintage and antique button collection.  I have so many ideas!

So anyhow, wish me luck with my Etsy endeavors! 

I promise to post about last year’s county fair exploits soon!  I really mean it…  I did sort through the photos after my last post in preparation to write all about it.  Meanwhile, I need to get planning for this year’s fair entries.  I can’t believe it’s almost May!

~Happy knitting! 

Kitchen Cotton FOs #2: A Zillion Crocheted Pot Holders


Folded Squares

It’s always great when you find one of those patterns that you just really click with.  You work it up, not even knowing if you are going to like it, only to discover that it clicks with you, it clicks with the yarn you chose, and it makes really great functional objects. 

The most recent pattern that has been that for me is this simple little folded, square pot holder pattern that I ran into on someone’s blog.  Apparently this pattern has been around a while, but I have not ever tried it before.  Once I did, I stopped making all other pot holders, and I was hooked.

These work as pot holders, hot pads or even wash cloths.  They are double thick but are still only constructed in one piece.  I crochet them from various brands of worsted weight cotton.


I generally nearly never make the same pattern twice.  I just don’t like it.  I like to conquer a pattern (that’s what motivates me).  Once I have correctly executed it, I lose interest and it’s on to the next one.  Sometimes I can hardly finish the second sock in a pair for this reason. 

To the contrary, I can’t even tell you how many of these pot holders I have made since November.  I sort of wish I had counted, just for fun.  If I had to guess, the number is easily approaching 40 by now.  They can now be found in the kitchens of nearly every person who knows me or sees me on a relatively regular basis:  family, neighbors, coworkers….

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When I give home-made items as gifts, I never know who is really going to be into it, and who is going to be thinking, “gee, thanks for the square”.  So unless the person on the receiving end of my pot holder was a knitter or crocheter him/herself, I only gifted one (rather than a set). 

I gave my sister one during the holidays, with a bottle of hand soap, and at the beginning of last week, I got a message from her asking for more, more, more. 

So I made her this set of brown (she asked for brown) and gold ones during the week, and gave them to her last weekend.


I still owe my brother’s girlfriend some, and then I can finally start making some for MY kitchen too! 

Kitchen Set

Before the discovery of this folded square pattern, I made the set of three shown below for myself in these crazy colors that I thought looked so fun together.

Front Side  Back Side

The pot holders in these photos are actually the same set of three.  These are my own design.  They are reversible with the color scheme in reverse on the opposing side, except for the striped one, which was an experiment. 

And finally, here is the set of pin wheel or folded flower pot holders that I mentioned in a previous post.  I made them last summer for a fair entry that required that the pot holders be judged as sets.  As a set, they took first place.

Folded Flower Set

I love the colors that I used for these.  They coordinate with my kitchen so well.

~Happy crocheting!



I am SO looking forward to the upcoming long weekend!  I will have some work to do since we are beginning a new term next Tuesday at the college, but even so, the extra day will be well appreciated.

The last two weeks have been busy, and even though I managed to stop all caffeine intake for health reasons, I had to break down on Monday evening and start up again for fear that I would never be able to complete everything that I need to get done this week.  Sigh.  On the bright side, I did notice that it seemed to remedy a slightly grumpy attitude that I had been suffering from, though.  It’s funny how that works.

I have managed to keep knitting in the midst of it all, which really improves my stress levels.  I started a new project this past Saturday with this:

Here it is all wound up:

I will post project details soon!

In honor of my upcoming birthday, I also recently acquired this:

It is sort of becoming a new little, private tradition for me that I add a new pair of antique sock blockers/stretchers to my collection each birthday.  I am over-the-moon excited about this set because they appear to be really old.  I mean REALLY old.  I still have yet to find a good resource on the history of these things, but this pair does not appear similar to those that I own that were used in early factories.  I have not seen any resembling the form of this set before, which was part of what excited me about them.  Maybe they belonged to some past household.

The seller told me that he acquired them from an estate sale, and that the estate owner’s son told him that the blockers were in the family for as long as he remembered being alive. 

I don’t tend to be superstitious, but I have to say that these blockers feel like there is a presence about them, and I have had the thought on a few occasions since I purchased them that they are good luck.  I can’t explain it any more than that, but there it is. 

So I’m rather fond of them, even though they smell like a crawl space.

In a previous post, I mentioned that our knitting group hung out again this past Sunday at the Grindhouse Cafe.  It was a super time, and we had our best turn-out yet, with me and Chris H (the regulars) as well as two more group members, and my new friend Lois who I met on the Allegan Fiber Festival trip.  She brought me a pattern that she knew I had been wanting, which was so extremely nice of her, and I was happy to be knitting with her again. 

Lois has been on a baby sweater kick, and she was working on a navy blue one on Sunday.  Chris H, who loves to crochet, was whipping out these sock monkey cup cozies:

She makes them with wool so that they insulate the drink and wick up any condensation that forms on the cup.  She was nice enough to let me take a photo for the blog so that you all can see how cute they are too.

This evening, I just finished grading a stack of laboratory reports, and now I plan to go eat some dinner and do some pre-slumber knitting.  Tomorrow is the last day of the term at work, and Friday will be taken up with faculty meetings and some continuing education (and some knitting if I’m not too exhausted).

Have a great night, and happy knitting!

Will County Fair 2012 (Part II)


I wanted to share some of my favorite entries at the fair that were submitted by other exhibitors.  I always love to see what other people are making, what types of yarn they are using, and the original ideas that they have.

The photo above shows the first place winning entries in mittens and in hats.  Aren’t the mittens gorgeous?!  I am pretty sure they are double-knit because they appeared to be really thick.  The colors and the pattern are just lovely.  The hat is so cool.  I haven’t seen one like it before.   A knit sun-hat!  What a great idea.


I did not knit this sweater, but it is very ‘me’.  It was the first place winner in the pullover sweater section.  I love the cables and the yarn appeared to me to be some sort of alpaca blend.  I wished I could have touched it!


As I mentioned in previous posts, I love a good granny square.  This afghan took second place in the fair.  I give it two thumbs up.


This chicken took first place in paintings.  You know I love me some chickens, and what’s a county fair without some awesome chicken art?

I hope you are enjoying your weekend!  I’ve been catching up on sleep.  Our ‘sit and knit’ group is meeting tomorrow morning, so I am looking forward to some nice relaxation, coffee and yarn on a lazy Sunday morning.  Yay!

~Happy knitting!

Stitch Red

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Another of my very favorite booths at Stitches Midwest this year was the Stitch Red booth, which represents a joint campaign involving Jimmy Beans Wool, the entire yarn industry, and The Heart Truth (of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute)  to raise awareness of “the number one killer of women in America:  heart disease”.

Stitch Red products for sale include special edition yarn from high quality vendors such as Lorna’s Laces, Classic Elite and Blue Sky Alpacas, patterns written by well-known designers, knitting notions from our favorite sources like Soak Wash and Lantern Moon, and an excellent book of patterns and information called Knit Red.  

Five percent of the profits from the purchase of these goods are donated to the National Institutes of Health, and women’s heart health education and research.

I fell in love with this hat:  a kind of tam with a lace heart motif.

The recommended special edition yarn was this Classic Elite blend of wool and silk in the colorway Ruby.  Again:  love, love, love.

I bought enough to make two hats, and the vendors supplied the pattern to me for free with my purchase!  I was delighted! 

You can get the pattern for free on Ravelry HERE.

Even better, visit Jimmy Beans Wool online to get your yarn and support their efforts for women’s heart health awareness.  Get the free pattern and buy your yarn HERE.

I had seen some patterns from the book Knit Red a while back and made a mental note to buy a copy when I could.  Again, it benefits an important cause, but it’s also a really great compilation of patterns.

There are several I definitely want to knit.

I can’t wait to knit this cowl.  I just bought so much lovely yarn from Stitches.  I was dreaming last night about which yarn I will use. (I actually was!  Isn’t that crazy?)

This looks like a lot of work, and you know I have issues with sweater seaming, but someday, I may try my hand at this.  In any case, isn’t it fabulous?

OK guys.  It’s a cotton tote…one of my newest weaknesses (see my post FO:  Green Grocer Bag).  I’m totally making this!

See what I mean?  Great patterns, along with stories of how heart disease has touched the lives of the knitters involved, not to mention recipes and tips on staying “heart healthy” .

You can find your own copy of Knit Red  at Jimmy Beans Wool or just about everywhere that books are sold.  Learn more about the Stitch Red campaign at .

~Happy knitting!

Stitches Midwest!


This morning, I headed out to Schaumburg, IL for Stitches Midwest, a fiber arts conference.  I did not register for any classes, but I wanted to go look around, and experience the vendor hall.  There were roughly 300 vendors selling all things related to fiber arts.

This crazy yarn-mobile was parked in the parking lot near my car.

The conference was in a rather nice hotel convention center.

Even though I knew it would be big, I was not prepared for just how overwhelming it would beI wandered the vendor hall for nearly 5 hours, and I still did not see everything there was to see.  I learned that when attending Stitches, it’s best to go in with a plan.

I never thought there could be such a thing as “too much yarn”, but holy cow, this was as close to it as I think anything could get!

Here’s a whole wall of Shalimar Breathless.  It’s like a dream!

Sweaters at the Cascade booth.

So much sock yarn!!!

So much everything!

There were many well known, professional knitters and crocheters present, teaching courses and signing books.  I saw Drew Emborsky (the Crochet Dude).

Since Stitches is actually a conference, I was expecting ‘conference rate’ pricing or discounts.  I was mistaken.  Shopping Stitches is like shopping at a high-end yarn store that just happens to be large enough to fill an entire convention center.

In spite of this, I came home with yarn, a book, stitch markers, knitting needles, project bags — enough to fill three shopping bags.  I should have had a plan…

Here was one of my best discoveries while at Stitches:  The Plucky Knitter.

Not the best name, but what GREAT yarn.  They had an entire table of samples knit up in this lovely yarn, and it drew a constant crowd. 

The fiber is beautiful.  The colors are beautiful.  This is some of the nicest yarn I have seen in a long time.

I brought home 4 skeins of their Primo cashmere blend:  3 in fingering and one in worsted weight.

I know I’ll be a customer in the future.  (Their sales reps were great too!)

Another of my favorite finds was this yarn from a fiber artist from CaliforniaThis particular yarn is spun from wool from ramboillet sheep, and the texture is just spectacular.  It’s not like anything I have seen or worked with before.  The price was also very reasonable.

I was having some strange fixation with limey shades of yellow/green today (shown here are more of my purchases):

Here’s a quick shot of me on my way to my car at the end of the day.  You can just see my afterglow…


I had heard that it’s customary to wear your hand-knits to the conference, so I sported my Breath of Fresh Air scarf.  I was glad I did because everyone was wearing their own scarves and sweaters.  It was fun to see what everyone had made, and several people recognized the actual yarn and colorway (Three Irish Girls Glenhaven Cashmerino in the colorway Marin) of my scarf as it hung on my neck! 

There is something so nice about being among like-minded people.

~Happy knitting!

Lake County Fair 2012: Part 2



More photos and goodness from the Lake County Fair!  This is my fair post that isn’t about me.  (What?)

None of the art in this post was made by me.  It was all made and exhibited by other awesome artists and crafters at the Lake County Fair this year.  How sweet is the afghan at the top of the page?  It was one of my favorites, but I have to say that I just fell madly in love with this: 

Do you not love the chickens?!  They are so cute!  This was submitted in a cross stitch or needle point category, and I just love it for its simplicity and its content (adorable chickens).  It is earthy, chicken-y, wonderfulness, if you ask me.

Here are the best pot holders in the crochet division:

Lots of pretty colors and smart ideas.  My friend Cris crocheted the second place entry, shown above with the red ribbon attached.


There were many baby entries:  blankets and layettes.


The afghans spanned entire walls of the building.  Here are a few of my favorites.  I’m a total sucker for granny squares.  They are just so pretty!  I wish I had photographed more, but I was feeling overwhelmed.


Here are more winners in the socks category as well as many entries in the hats and scarves categories.


I thought this was a cheery display.  Shown here are slippers and socks.  The pretty pink socks on the lower left were knit by my friend Jaime who owns our local yarn shop.

When I was a little girl, I had a pair of slippers nearly identical to the blue and white ones in the photo aboveThey were given to me by the mother of my mother’s best friend, and I had them for many years.  Seeing those slippers brought back memories.

My friend Cris won first place in crocheted bags, and in her whole division for this awesome laptop bag.

The fair will be going on from August 3rd to August 12th.  Go check it out!


~Happy knitting!

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