It’s Never too Early to Think about Summer Camp

Learning to spin at summer camp

Learning to spin at summer camp

It’s getting to be the time to think about summer camp, and for me, that means I’m talking about the summer camps I’ve been running the past few years!  However, Tinking Turtle has a couple of changes happening this year (spurred on, in a large part, because of our impending tiny turtle).

As I’ve talked about many times before, some of my most formative years were spent going to a summer camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Camp Chimney Corners.  Summer camps are a great way to foster independence, expose children to new experiences or hobbies, and foster a different type of learning than what school offers.  And I’ve been proud, the past two years, to work with Montgomery College to bring fiberarts summer camps to the DC/Rockville area.

So it’s with sorrow that I say that I will not be running camps with Montgomery College this year.  The amount of traveling I’d do to teach the camps in Rockville, MD would be a little too much for our small family.  But it is with joy that I’m announcing that this year, I’ll be bringing fiber arts camps to my hometown, Ashland, by pairing with the Hanover Arts and Activities Center!

I’ll be hosting two camps this summer:

  • String Theory, happening August 8-12th, is a high-energy introduction to the fiberarts suitable for ages 8 & up.  It features spinning, knitting, basic sewing, weaving and dying.  Students will be working the week through on two different projects, with opportunities to customize and tailor their interests.
  • Next Step Needlecraft, happening August, offers a glimpse into some of the lesser-known handcrafts.  Suitable for ages 10 & up, this summer camp features spinning, punch-rug needlework, needle felting, crochet and dying.  Students have the option of planning and creating a variety of projects, which they will work on throughout the week.

If you live in the Ashland/Richmond area and know kids who would be interested, I’d love for you to pass my information along!  You can find out more at the Hanover Arts and Activities Website.

Techniques: Picking Up Stitches

Over the weekend I had a full schedule, teaching classes at Fibre Space in Alexandria.  One of the things I love about teaching classes is how it puts me in touch with my customer base: both for teaching and for designing.  I also love all the great questions that students shoot my way!  On Sunday I got to teach a class I haven’t taught in a while: Picking Up Stitches.

It’s a great class for showing students how many different ways there are to approach the same thing.  I love “peeling back the curtain” and showing students where designers get their numbers; and how they can “tweak” their own knitting.

Valley Log Cabin blanket by Dena Childs

As the class was ending, several of the students asked if there were patterns I’d recommend to practice picking up stitches, and I couldn’t resist putting together a Ravelry Bundle of some of my favorite patterns featuring picking up stitches that I’ve come across over the years.  You can see the entire bundle here, but I thought I’d share some of my highlights.

One of the first Patterns that came to mind was a Log Cabin blanket.  I’ve got one I work on in my (nonexistent) spare time out of sock yarn scraps.

There’s hundreds of variants of the log Cabin motif.  Essentially, you work your way from the center out, most often in garter stitch.  I’ve rapidly become a fan of Web’s Valley Yarns, and I love the color palette they offer.

I like this particular pattern for it’s simplicity: no need to mess up a good thing!

Albers Cowl by Ann Weaver

The Albers Cowl by Ann Weaver is a rather crafty variant of the log cabin concept.  This cowl features a center motif that’s slightly off-of-center, and I love the more modern feel it gives the piece.

Fibre Space carries the pattern, and both Sweet Georgia yarns and Neighborhood Fiber Company are great options to make this pattern shine.

Jewel Dragon by Svetlana Gordon

The Aranami Shawl by Olga Buraya-Kefelian is a simply stunning example of what can be done with picked up stitches.  I love
the way the colors create optical illusions with the knitting.  While done in a similar manner to entrelac, the effect is quite a bit more flowing than basket-weave.

If you like a slightly more robust challenge, Jewel Dragon by Svetlana Gordon takes a similar construction concept and turns it on its head.  I think the color choices really make this project, and several Ravelers have used rainbow yarns to great effect!

Personally, I’d love to use a long, color changing gradient, so you could see the colors shift from scale to scale.


Karner Butterfly by Jennifer Raymond

Karner Butterfly by Jennifer Raymond

My own Pattern, Karner Butterfly Socks features picked up stitches, too.

Made by working the leg of the sock first, the top cuff and the bottom sock are both worked afterwards by picking up stitches.  I love the color play in this pattern: so many of the ones I picked out to feature have similar color play, vying between two or more colors.

Do you have any favorite patterns that feature picking up stitches?  What are they?  Don’t forget to take a look at my entire bundle on Ravelry here!


Snowstorm Projects

It’s grey and overcast.  Every once and awhile I see a stray flake drift down from the sky, and there’s a hushed breath feeling to the air when I stepped outside this morning.  Like any good snow-day or snowstorm, I have on a ratty sweater with penguins on it, and my favorite pair of pajama pants.  Unlike my childhood snow-days, my list is full.  Self-employment (especially when you work from home), means you get to keep working until the power goes out – and sometimes you don’t stop then.

Still, I’m planning on knocking out all my internet things this morning, and curling up with a blanket and my projects this afternoon.  Just in the time I’ve been typing this, the snow’s started to come down harder, and is starting to show up on the walkways.

So what will I be working on as the snow comes down?

Hairpin lace against a table

hairpin lace, looking like some strange creature’s spine

I’ve got a hairpin lace project I’m working on for Piecework – I have to get it off by next week.  I’ve created a lovely swatch, and now need to get cracking on the real piece.  One of the things I love about Hairpin is how it comes together so quickly, once you get the strips done.  I’ll put on an audiobook, and get a good chunk of it done this weekend.

still working on the puppy-chewed blanket

still working on the puppy-chewed blanket

This blanket is turning into the project I can really only work on for two-hours at a time – before my brain needs a rest and my back needs to stop hunching over it.  This too has to be done by the end of next week.  I’ve got one more big hole to fix, one smaller hole, and a bunch of worn places to reinforce.  I’m really happy with how this is working out, and hoping to get a good picture of it when it’s done.  This is logistically a little difficult right now, as our downstairs guest bedroom has become a staging ground for a larger home project, and the upstairs really doesn’t have a good spot.  I’ll figure something out, though.

The final project I don’t have a picture of, but it’s my near full-to-the-top meding bag.  It’s one of the larger bags by erin.lane (seriously good project bags – she doesn’t do anything revolutionary, other than having really cute fabrics, a well-lined bag, and sturdy reinforcing at stress points… but really, isn’t that all you need?), and it’s filled with hand-knit socks that need darning or reinforcing.  I made a dent in them this week, and I’m hoping to make a bigger dent in them, as I’m down to two pairs of handknit socks, and that really isn’t enough.

And now, in the simple 40 minutes I’ve been working on this, the snow has really started to pick up.  We’ve got accumulation on most of the concrete surfaces, and Mr. Turtle’s chomping at the bit to walk into town, get our snowstorm wine and cheese, and take a romantic walk in the snow.  So, I must be off!

What’s your snowstorm project?

Goals and Resolutions: Tinking Turtle 2015

Now that Christmas has finished, my eye is starting to turn towards the New Year.  While I don’t normally participate in New Year’s resolutions, I do use this time to put together some constructive goals – some for the business, and some personally.

What are some of the things I’m looking to change for the new year?  Well, this last year had a bunch of designing, and a number of tight deadlines.  On the plus side it brought designs such as Boston Ivy, Mercury, Electrostatic Lines, Riverbend and Lucky Hearts, and Stained Glass Rug to name a few.  On the downside, I’m not sure that pace is sustainable.  I’m going to be taking a good look at managing time and making sustainable decisions. On the plus side, I’ve now got over two years of data on how long a design takes me.  On the minus side, I need to figure out how to leverage that data more.

What did I do well in 2015?  Well, I made it to my second TNNA!  I reached 50 patterns published – a major milestone both personally, and on Ravelry!

50 Patterns Published!

50 Patterns Published!

I got to teach several video classes with Interweave, which I’m still super proud and excited about.

As Mr. Turtle and I meet to have our yearly planning meeting, I’m sure we’ll come up with more concrete milestones we want to hit in the next year, and taylor the long-term goals we have already set.  I think it’s important to keep evaluating your goals to make sure they’re attainable and still relevant.  As life, jobs, and careers take us in different directions, the things we strived for at one point may not be the things we’re striving for at another point.

Do you make crafting, crocheting, knitting or other goals for the new year?  How do you make them?  I’d love to hear!

Repair and Restoration: Behind the Scenes

Last Thursday I had a lovely surprise: Jeanne Huber, a reporter in the Washington Post, quoted me heavily in answer to a question about repairing an afghan.  She had been asked a question: was there a way to get the holes in her afghan repaired?  Huber called Fibre Space (one of the yarn stores I often teach at), who in turn recommended her to me.  Huber had gotten in touch with me on a Friday afternoon, and between packing up to leave for a long weekend, I chatted to her on the phone about how I do repair.

Huber did a lovely job with the article, taking my rambling replies and distilling them into the pertinent information.  As a result, I’ve been able to chat with a number of people looking to have family pieces repaired.

Still, it left me realizing that there’s a bit of mystery to what I do, and I wanted to expand a little upon the article.


Blanket in the process of being repaired

How I Approach Repair Work

When someone gets in touch with me looking to get an item fixed, I try and have a dialogue with the customer about their goals.  What is it they want from the repair?  What would be the ideal results for them?  Are they looking to have an item repaired so they can use it further or are they looking to have the holes fixed so that the problem doesn’t get worse?  Are they on a budget?   Are they looking for the item to look pristine or are they willing to allow the repair to become part of the character of the object?

Each person has a different idea of what “fixed” means.

21831892331_7742a4b943_bMeanwhile, I’m also looking at the practical part of the project.  How damaged is the item?  How widespread is the wear?  Would attempting to fix the item hurt things further?  When I’m looking into this I’m often learning about the history of the item: if it was stored in a place where a lot of sunlight, heat or humidity could get to it, the fibers may be damaged.  Are the places where wear is showing from use – such as worn out fingers on mittens, or a handle on a bag becoming worn, or because of a different factor?  Often the answers form the type of repairs I can do – mittens that are going to get further wear over each winter are going to receive different treatment than a Christmas stocking that’s taken out once a year.

Based on the customer’s feedback, I come back with a number of options.

Sometimes this means the repairs are visible repairs: so that the owners can show where the original piece is, and where the repairs are.  Sometimes this means we transform a piece: adding a cute embroidered kitten over an elbow patch.  Other times the repairs are nearly invisible as I splice new yarn into the old.

Just as I put time and thought into repairing damaged items, so can you put the time and thought into what you want from your repair.  Worried that a piece of yours might need help?  Check out my post on what to look for.  Already decided to have your piece fixed?  Get in touch with me through my finishing form– I’d love to start our conversation!

Welcome Marly Fans!

Stained Glass Rug

The right and wrong sides of Stained Glass Rug

If you’re coming here from Marly Bird’s The Yarn Thing, welcome!  I’d love to have you sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.  Feel free to read some of my previous blog posts!  If you enjoy tutorials, check out How to Set a Zipper in a Sweater.  If you like a behind-the-scenes look at designing, check out some of my posts on my designs in Crochetscene.  And if you’d like to revisit some of my oldest sock designs, check out a side by side comparison of two older designs.

If you’re already a regular… have you listened to my interview with Marly Bird on her podcast?  We just wrapped the interview up!  You can listen on  BlogTalk Radio.


Tomorrow I’ll give you a glimpse into some of the things I’ve been working on lately!

Mitts and Crochet: New Classes at Untangled Purls

Starting next week I’ve got a great lineup of Fall classes at Untangled Purls, in Fredericksburg, VA.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to teach at Untangled Purls: Most of my classes for the last year (with the exception of my camps) have been workshop based – that is, one and done.

I’ve missed the camaraderie and relationship that builds with a class when you teach week after week: you get to know your students better, and you get to watch students progress in a way that is different than workshops.  I wanted to highlight two of the classes I’ll be teaching at Untangled Purls.

Photocredit: © Ambah O'Brien

Photocredit: © Ambah O’Brien

Beginning Stranded Knitting is based of of a wonderful pattern called Maroo Mitts by Ambah.  This is a great introductory project to stranded knitting, and I hope you might be able to join me!  Learn more about the class here.


Photocredit: Freshstitches

Photocredit: Freshstitches

Crochet Softies is based around four of Stacey Trock’s FreshStitches patterns: Kepler the Lion, Nelson the Owl, Flavia the Unicorn and Cliff the Brontosaurus.  I love these patterns because they’re a great next step for students who have learned how to crochet, but haven’t quite mastered reading a pattern or working in the round.  I have so much fun helping students create these fun stuffed animals: and they make perfect gifts!  You can find out more about the class here!

Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival!

Tomorrow morning I’ll be heading off to the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival – one of my favorite to teach at!  Last year was my first year teaching at the fairgrounds, and I loved every moment of it.  The staff are great; the venue is lovely, and the drive to Berryville is a pleasure.

Last year I was so busy teaching both days that I barely had time to breathe.  This time I’ve got a little more flexibility –  I’m teaching one class on Saturday afternoon, and another Sunday morning.  Mr. Turtle and I talked about going apple picking on the way home.

If you’ve never been to SVFF, it’s a great fiber festival for kids, and a feast for the eyes for stitchers.  Last year Mr. Turtle was fascinated by the sheep dog demos.

I was glad to see some of my favorite vendors.  When you do the fiber festival circuit, various vendors become your friends, and it’s good to see them again and catchup for a few minutes between sales or setting up.  If you go to the festival, go and look up Turtle Made – a company that makes the most clever turkish spindles.  Also check out Dragonfly Fibers – they’ve been the lovely sponsor of a few of my designs!

Meanwhile, I’ll be in the instructor tents doing what I do best, teaching my heart out.  This weekend we’ve got a reprise of a constant favorite, Duct Tape Dress Forms, and also a class on repairing handknits.  If you have a spare moment, keep an eye out for me at lunch, as I grab a quick bite and say hello to as many people as I can!

Show Notes from the Last Few Weeks

Aboard a cruise ship, sailing with Mr. Turtle, my parents and his parents.  It’ll be our second (third? – depends on how you count it) vacation together.  It’s all part of Mr. Turtle’s and my project to integrate our families.  You see, Michael’s grandparents didn’t get along, and he can’t remember a time when they were both in the same room.  In contrast, my grandparents were good friends, and I can remember many holidays, visits and trips where my family and grandparents were all in tow.

It was a perfect arrangement, really.  With 4 Crowley grandchildren and 4 grandparents, it was glorious to get some really good one-on-one grandparent love.  I want that for my family, so Mr. Turtle and I have been trying to create situations where our parents, who live pretty far away, can spend time together.


Which actually wasn’t what I was planning on writing about.

I was planning on writing about my missing sock.  You see, about a month ago I finished a pair of socks, for myself, that I’ve been wanting to finish for a while.

This is a really poor picture of the sock, but I didn't even get to take a picture of them!

This is a really poor picture of the sock, but I didn’t even get to take a picture of them!

I was pretty excited about them, so I wore them nearly for three days straight, washed them, and wore them once more.

And now one of the socks are missing.

The kicker is, the sock is somewhere in my house.  I figured, when we had company over this 4th of July, and were cleaning things, it’d turn up.  I wasn’t really concerned.

But now it’s after the 4th, the sock still hasn’t shown up, and I’m disappointed: I wanted to take them on the cruise with me.  No such luck.  I can’t find them anywhere, darn-it!

Have you ever lost a knitting or crochet item?  Did you find it again? After how long?  I’m really starting to get bummed about this missing sock.

My Easy Finishing Technique for Weaving in Bulky Yarn

Techniques for Weaving In Really Bulky Yarn

Today we have a quick little blog post that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but haven’t quite gotten around to!  I thought it’d be the perfect thing to start out our week: a tutorial on weaving in really bulky yarns.  I think it’s a helpful finishing technique for both knitting and crochet.

What am I going to be talking about? Well, weaving in ends.  Now, I know weaving in ends isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I totally understand.  It’s one of the reasons I offer finishing services.  But for those of you who like to sweat the details, weaving in ends can be an important part of finishing a project.

Today’s little tutorial is specifically about weaving in really bulky yarns, which can be hard to pull through the fabric.  Now, this trick only works for plied yarns, but it’s a nice thing to have in your arsenal.


  1. First, we’re going to want to take the tail that we plan to weave in above.  See how it’s plied together – that is, it’s got multiple strands all twined around each other?  We’re going to separate those out.  You’ll want to do it by twisting the yarn in the opposite direction it’s twisted together, so the individual strands start standing out from one another.  Once you’ve got one you can grab, pull it from it’s neighbors, until you’ve got them all separated like this:
    Yarn separated out into it's individual plies.

    Yarn separated out into it’s individual plies.

  2. Now that you’ve got the plies separated out, get a sharp-pointed needle and thread one of the plies onto the needle.  Like this:
    Thread one of the plies onto a sharp needle to weave in the end of the yarn.

    Thread one of the plies onto a sharp needle to weave in the end of the yarn.

  3. Make sure the other ends are out of the way, and now, weave in the end.  Do the same with the other strands of the yarn.
    Nearly there: All but one end woven in!

    Nearly there: All but one end woven in!

  4. Finally, trim your ends away as close as you can to your project without cutting anything.
    Trim your ends away, and admire your work! You've finished weaving in your ends!

    Trim your ends away, and admire your work!


Do you have a favored method of weaving in ends, or a finishing technique that you love to share with others?  Tell me about it in the comments!  I love hearing from you!