Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Blog at Word Press

I have a new blog at Word Press called:

The Contemplative Crafter

On this blog I intend to work on crochet and other crafts, share our experiences on the road, share news about my store, The Pen & Hook, and above all to explore the link between spirituality and crafting. Come check it out!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Online Classes on Sale at Craftsy

Would you like to spend more time doing what you love? Then consider taking advantage of Craftsy's sale on online classes at 50 percent off. The sale is good from today, March 12 until Monday, March 16.

If you do not like the course, Craftsy has a money-back guarantee, so what is there to lose?

Craftsy I am currently enrolled in the Crazy Quilting course with Allie Aller and it is fun. So, if you want to learn a new skill or learn something new in the one you love, take a look at these links and sign up.

Classes on Sale at Craftsy
Art & Photography Classes on Sale at Craftsy
Cake Decorating & Cooking Classes on Sale at Craftsy
Home & Garden Classes on Sale at Craftsy
Paper Crafts & Jewelry Classes on Sale at Craftsy
Sewing, Quilting & Embroidery Classes on Sale at Craftsy
Fiber Arts Classes on Sale at Craftsy

If you do sign up from one of these links, this blog will benefit since I am a Craftsy affiliate.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Colors in Vanna's Choice Acrylic Yarn at the Pen and Hook

I have added new colors of Vanna's Choice Yarn to The Pen and Hook this week and anyone who purchases at least one skein can get a 10 percent discount by using the code VANNA10 until March 16. 

Here are the new colors starting with Aqua:

The Pen and Hook

Aqua is a great color because it looks good on anyone and it's perfect for any season. How do you like Pink?

The Pen and Hook

Wouldn't it make a pretty afghan, scarf, or shawl for your favorite little girl?  It would also look nice with brown, don't you think? I'm thinking granny squares or even chevrons ...

With spring waiting in the wings, Fern would make a lovely shawl or shrug: 

The Pen and Hook
This creamy Beige would make a beautiful afghan for a wedding gift or an early Christmas project. 

The Pen and Hook

No matter what the season, black is always in. It looks a little lighter in the picture but this black is actually very dark. It would make a nice shawl, afghan or perhaps a bandanna. 

The Pen and Hook

According to Pantone, tangerine is a popular color for 2015 and this Radiant Orange yarn certainly fits the bill. When I first pulled it out of the box from Lion Brand, my eyes popped because it is so bright. And, since orange is not one of my favorite colors, I had to start thinking about things that I could do with it. How about making a little vest for kids who like to make believe that they are construction workers?  Or, if you have hunters in your life, this yarn would make much appreciated hats and mitts to keep them warm and safe.  If, your area high school uses orange as a color, make a scarf or a hat loaded with team spirit for that special teenager in your life. Also, if you just have someone who loves orange this would make something gorgeous that your special person would really appreciate.

The Pen and Hook
What are your ideas for using these yarns? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

New Scarves at the Pen and Hook

With Winter 2014 becoming history in just a couple of weeks, I have added a lighter weight scarf and cowl to the Pen and Hook. These new pieces are great for early spring when winter still has a tendency to throw temper tantrums. I hope you like them.

The Pen and Hook

The Pen and Hook
The cowl is crocheted with merino wool and is perfect for adding pizzaz to a long-sleeved or short sleeved t-shirt. The gray scarf is made with Lion Brand Tweed Stripes. It is about 55 inches long so you can wrap it many ways to suit your tastes and the weather. You can find more information about these items by clicking on the links under the pictures. The links will take you to my Etsy store The Pen and Hook.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Fur at The Pen and Hook

Fur is in this year and The Pen and Hook is now selling it. I know that spring is coming and everyone is wanting cotton, but soon crocheters and knitters will be thinking about what they can make for fall and Christmas (I can't believe I just said that.). 

In preparation for that shift in crafting, here are my new colors in Pelt and Fun Fur from Lion Brand. 

Pelt, is a more realistic looking type fur. It is made of polyester and nylon fibers which are made to look like mink, sable and chinchilla. With these, you can imitate luxury furs without breaking the bank. These faux furs would make great accessories or trims. Maybe even an amigurumi project? 

Blue Mink




Fun Fur has also made an appearance at The Pen and Hook. Trim sweaters, make vibrant accessories, or fun items for babies and children. 

Cotton Candy Stripe
Neon Orange

Lion Brand has patterns if you need ideas for these great fibers. All you have to do is create an account, if you don't have one already, and you will have access to thousands of patterns at varying ability levels. You can pin these patterns and save them to your account. It's all very accessible. Here is a really cute hat to knit with Mink Pelt:

Knitting Mink Pelt - Free Lion Brand Pattern
Here is an easy crochet pattern using Chinchilla Pelt

Free Lion Brand Crochet Pattern Using Chinchilla Pelt
A little child would love this knitted poncho trimmed in Neon Orange Fun Fur

Free Lion Brand Knitting Pattern using Neon Orange Fun Fur
People who enjoy springy colors in winter, fall and early spring would love this cowl crocheted in Cotton Candy Stripes Fun Fur:

Free Lion Brand Crochet Pattern in Cotton Candy Stripes Fun Fur

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lent Focus: Helping Victims of Human Trafficking

With the observance of Ash Wednesday on February 18, the 40-day season of Lent began. During Lent, Christians focus on fasting, prayer and alms giving. For me, Lent is a time in which to make my life more in tune with God, and to learn about what breaks his heart so that I can make it a matter of prayer and restorative action as God leads. 

During Lent we learn to bring everything in our life together. Rather than compartmentalize the spiritual, familial, career and activity portions of our lives, we learn to make life more fluid. As we do this, we find that internal conflicts - and perhaps outward as well - cease, or become less severe, and we begin to act in ways that show what we actually believe. With the Holy Spirit's help we can become more like Jesus. We become more compassionate and caring. We want to help, to make a difference. 

This year I have become more aware of the issue of human trafficking through a project sponsored by Not For Sale, a campaign that seeks to end human trafficking through providing safety and stability, empowering with life skills and job training, and creating sustainable futures with dignified work.  My denomination, along with more than 5,000 other churches, is involved in this emphasis. I happened to get involved through an email from Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, which I forwarded to my pastor. He responded by telling me to get the information in the bulletin and that he wanted me to do a couple of things in the service on that day. 

Because of the importance and urgency of this issue, I wanted to tell my readers about this as well. 

So, what is human trafficking? The Department of Health and Human Services says, "Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Victims are young children, teenagers, men and women."

Through my reading on the subject, I have learned that there are between 20 and 30 million slaves on the planet today. Most sources say there are 27 million and some say that is a conservative number. All say that there are more slaves in the world today than ever before. Eighty percent of these people are forced to work in the sex industry and 20 percent are forced to work as laborers. 

Last year slave traders made an estimated $32 billion - more than Nike, Google and Starbucks combined*. 

Human trafficking is not just an international problem. It is a problem in the U.S. as well. From the Rabbis for Human Rights North America, "Human trafficking, according to the Polaris Project, is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Worldwide, most slaves are forced to work in agriculture, mining and prostitution." 
The Office of Refugee Resettlement says that they also work as domestic workers, in hotels, restaurants ("What is human trafficking?"). Also, the production of certain goods that Americans enjoy, such as coffee, chocolate, and cars may be traceable to slave labor (Facts About Modern Slavery).

Here is an interesting video about the subject:

*25 Painfully Disturbing Facts About Human Trafficking

If you would like to help, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is accepting donations here:


Of course groups like the Polaris Project and Not For Sale will also appreciate donations for their work in releasing people from captivity. If you know someone who may be a victim of human trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center has a 24/7 hotline to help people identify victims. 

Isaiah 61: 1 - 3

The Good News of Deliverance

61 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scenic Wow around Cripple Creek Colorado

While Mike and I were up in the mountains during Valentine's Day weekend, we drove up to Cripple Creek and drove parts of the Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway through Victor and Florrisant Fossil Beds National Monument. Surprisingly, at 9,000 feet, we were quite comfortable in sweatshirts; and, even though there were storm warnings in effect for later that afternoon, the sun shone brilliantly over the valley. These pictures were taken on Highway 67 on the hills above the town. 

Cripple Creek area - Alicia Gossman-Steeves

Cripple Creek area - Alicia Gossman-Steeves

Cripple Creek area - Alicia Gossman-Steeves

Cripple Creek area - Alicia Gossman-Steeves

Cripple Creek area - Alicia Gossman-Steeves

Cripple Creek area - Alicia Gossman-Steeves

At the time of our visit, Cripple Creek was celebrating its Ice Festival. Too bad it was so warm. Here are the melting ice sculptures. 

Ice Festival - Cripple Creek - AGS

Ice Festival - Cripple Creek - AGS

Ice Festival - Cripple Creek - AGS

Ice Festival - Cripple Creek - AGS

Ice Festival - Cripple Creek - AGS
Here are some artists working on their sculpture. They are using chain saws and ice picks to do their work.
Ice Festival - Cripple Creek - AGS

Ice Festival - Cripple Creek - AGS
Here are shots of the downtown area. Cripple Creek is a gaming town so there are multiple casinos. If you are into that sort of thing Cripple Creek would be a great place to go. If you are not, there are mining museums and a railroad. Historical stuff is more our speed but we didn't take time to do that.  We just walked around for a little bit. 

Cripple Creek - AGS

Cripple Creek - AGS

Mike in Cripple Creek - AGS

Cripple Creek - AGS

Cripple Creek - AGS
Here is a view from the road between Cripple Creek and Victor. Along this road, you can see modern mining in progress and examples of historic mining. It's an interesting route for many reasons but for me, the scenery is the best part.  

View from the Gold Belt Scenic Byway - AGS

View from the Gold Belt Scenic Byway - AGS