Category Archives: Utah

5-8-2019: Visiting Family; Crochet Lace; New Pineapple Passion Crochet Book; More

The Narrows and the Virgin River at Zion National Park -- Photo courtesy of Karan Chawla at

The Narrows and the Virgin River at Zion National Park — Photo courtesy of Karan Chawla at

Hi there! Welcome! Thanks for dropping by. I hope you’re enjoying a lovely, productive and creative day.

I’m having an eventful week so far. This past weekend, my in-laws came to Utah for a visit with us. That was soooo much fun.

We last saw my in-laws about 7 months ago when we went back to California for a mostly-business trip that also included a limited amount of socializing. At the time, Mike’s parents were busy with some important business of their own, so we didn’t get to spend much time with them then.

One of the highlights of this past weekend was a trip to Zion National Park, which I will hopefully write about in more detail in the future. The best part about it: The park staff really does an outstanding job of making the park as accessible as possible to everyone. I loved that!

There’s nothing like travel to renew my spirits and inspire my creativity. Now I’m back home, and I’m feeling energized and motivated to get back to work. I have a couple of ghostwriting articles at the top of my to do list. I’ve also been updating some of my own web pages and adding new ones. Here are a few of the things I’ve been working on:

Pineapple Passion, a Brand New Crochet Pattern Book by Karen Whooley

Pineapple Passion crochet pattern book by Karen Whooley, published by Occhi Blu Press

Pineapple Passion crochet pattern book by Karen Whooley, published by Occhi Blu Press

I’ve been a big fan of Karen Whooley’s since, I think, 2010, when I reviewed her amazing book called Fair Isle to Crochet (a book I still highly recommend if you’d like to crochet colorful blankets for anyone in your family).

Karen has just released a brand new and totally different sort of crochet pattern book. This one focuses entirely on wearable crochet lace projects that all incorporate updated versions of the classic crochet pineapple motif pattern. It’s a lovely concept for a pattern book — and I think Karen was the ideal designer to bring it to fruition. She has an eye for taking things that can seem complex, and distilling them down to the ultra-simple essentials you need to understand (without cluttering the book’s pages with any of the extra stuff that could trip you up or confuse you).

One of the most helpful things about the book: It includes symbol crochet charts in addition to written-out text instructions.

If this sounds like a book that would be of interest to you, I invite you to find more information about it in my detailed book review of Pineapple Passion..

My Picks for the Best Crochet Lace Pattern Books

Pineapple Passion has reminded me how much I adore crocheting lace. I love the dainty look of it — and I love how well it tends to drape and flow.

I also love how fast crochet lace typically works up. Often, crochet lace stitch patterns incorporate bunches of chain stitches, and chain stitches tend to work up fast. I suppose that makes sense. It’s quicker to make “lace holes” than it is to make solid crocheted fabric.

But, sometimes, the zippy-quick lacy stitch patterns are offset a bit if you use thin, fine yarns to work them with. Those fine yarns just take some extra time and attention to crochet with, and they can be a bit fiddly. But, since you also tend to get a more spectacular project when you crochet with finer yarns, I think that’s an excellent tradeoff overall.

Anyway, I bring all this up because I have been going through my entire collection of crochet pattern books and pulling out all my picks for the best crochet lace pattern books that are currently available. No, I don’t own every last crochet lace pattern book ever published, but I do have quite a few of them. So, if you enjoy crocheting lace too, I invite you to check out my page on the topic at

No Walk Today Because…It’s SNOWING!

In other news, would you believe it is currently snowing in Brian Head? Yep. I thought we were finished with snow, but this morning we woke up to a few more inches — and it’s been flurrying on and off all day. According to the Utah ski resort weather forecast, it looks like some of the other ski resorts like Park City are likely to have thunderstorms.

Our little family tries to take a walk together every day, but today the walk is officially canceled. Bummer.

That’s all for now.



About the Author: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer with a background in textile design. She has been crocheting and crafting since childhood, and knitting since she was a teenager. Her work also appears at, and Amy sends out a free knitting and crochet newsletter so interested crafters can easily keep up with her new patterns and tutorials. If you’re already an Instagram user, Amy also invites you to follow her on Instagram.

This page was last updated on 7-3-2019.

4-29-2019: Woven Crochet, Dogs on Sweaters + Balcony Gardening

Hi there! How’s it going? I hope all is well with you. Today is 4-29-2019, and I’m having a lovely, productive day so far. I’m just finishing up my workday (which is possible at 2:30 PM because I woke up at 4:00 AM this morning, like I do most days).

New Woven Crochet Examples Posted at

Today I have been working on updating my page about the woven crochet technique at In the past, I’ve crocheted about one zillion different swatches using this technique. The only woven crochet project I’ve actually finished is a scarf (except I still have to finish the end weaving — which is going to be a challenge).

Most of the woven crochet I’ve done looks really cool — but it doesn’t look cool enough to justify the crazy amount of work it takes to do it. So instead of sharing what I’ve come up with, I keep starting new swatches, hoping to find some elusive and magical combination of stitches. What I’m trying to find is a combination of stitches that will look spectacular, but actually be worth the substantial effort it takes to create a project using this technique.

I’m getting close to that…

So far, the closest I’ve come is with this swatch:

Woven Crochet Example I posted at

Woven Crochet Example I posted at

If you want to know how this swatch is made, you can find more details at this page about woven crochet.

This needs re-designing before I design an actual project with it — first of all, because I used yarn that has now been discontinued, and also because my first attempt at this fabric came out waaayyyyyyy too dense and stiff (which you can’t necessarily tell from looking at the picture).

In the actual form you see it, this fabric is practically suitable for making furniture, it’s that dense and stiff. I thought it would make a nice cat bed or basket, but it is so thick that a cat bed or basket would be prohibitively expensive for the average crocheter to make. It would make more sense to create a less dense version of this same sort of fabric.

So, back to the drawing board — but the idea is definitely promising. I think this type of stitch pattern will make a lovely scarf, cowl or pillow. With the right yarn and crochet hook combination, I could also see using it to design other types of projects.

You can see one other new woven crochet example at

I’m still pondering what to do about the scarf. The finished sample I made was far too labor intensive to want to mess around with. Even as I was crocheting it, it was testing my own patience levels. I have more patience than average, so if it took too long for my liking, I’m guessing no one else on earth would want to attempt it. So, I can only conclude that the scarf needs redesigning, too. That’ll be a project for another day — or maybe for never. For now, the scarf will remain in hibernation.

My Current Work-In-Progress Is…

Tunisian Crochet Mesh Accessories: Hat, Fingerless Gloves and Cowl

Tunisian Crochet Mesh Accessories: Hat, Fingerless Gloves and Cowl

…a revised version of this accessories set.

The set you see here in the picture is one I made awhile ago. At the time, I held back on releasing the pattern for a few different reasons.

For starters, the math is a little wonky with these projects as is. Not only that, in real life, each of the pieces is a little too small. I’m a little fuzzy on remembering the details of why, but I think it might be, at least in part, because I stretched them wayyyy too aggressively for blocking. Then after the blocking was complete, they relaxed more than I expected them to. Well, duh, of course they were going to do that. In hindsight, that seems obvious.

The instructions I wrote down at the time would more than likely have you all duplicating the same mistake, if you were to work that pattern. Yikes.

Plus, the main color in this design is a hand dyed color, and the others aren’t.

That’s a few too many problems for me to want to release the pattern exactly as is. But, I’m working on a simplified version that I think is going to be much better. I LOVE IT!

I made a similar hat and fingerless gloves in only 2 yarn colors. In the photographs above, the colorful colors are all Cascade 220. I’m redoing the set so all the yarn colors in the project will be Cascade 220.

I think this time I’m going to skip making the cowl (unless a few thousand of you beg for express interest in the cowl pattern…)

The hat and fingerless gloves have used up less than 2 full skeins of yarn, and there’s enough left over to make something else small. I’m still contemplating what I want that something else to be — perhaps a cell phone pouch or a headband. Would you have a preference on that? If so, I invite your comments below.

Dogs on Sweaters — a New Knitting Pattern Book

Dogs on Sweaters, a knitting pattern book featuring dog-themed projects by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. Trafalgar Square Books is the publisher of this title.

Dogs on Sweaters, a knitting pattern book featuring dog-themed projects by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. Trafalgar Square Books is the publisher of this title.

Trafalgar Square Books has an adorable new book available called Dogs on Sweaters. I just posted a book review of this title at The short version of my review: Thumbs up! The book is absolutely charming. If you knit, and you love dogs, I think you’re likely to enjoy it.

Our Balcony Garden

You: So, Amy. I hear you’ve started a balcony garden. What are you growing this season?

Me: Cats. I’m growing cats. Like this one:

My Balcony Garden, Complete With Cat

My Balcony Garden, Complete With Cat

OK, the honest truth is, I’m attempting to grow herbs — cilantro, dill, holy basil and chives — plus some strawberries. But so far, things with the balcony garden have not gone all that well.

Why is that?

A couple of reasons. The first is because every time a seed has germinated, this naughty little nuisance of a cat has attempted to eat it.

Mike and I know a lot of cats, because we’ve spent substantial amounts of time in Greece and Israel, two countries that have high feral cat populations. We’ve determined that this particular cat, Inky, is the fourth most annoying cat on planet earth. Remind me some other time to tell you about the 3 spectacularly annoying cats ahead of him in line for that distinction.

Anyway…aside from catnip, cats aren’t supposed to like herbs, are they?

But Inky likes herbs. He has a particular affinity for dill, but he’s not picky. He’ll attempt to eat any herb that germinates in my balcony garden.

I came to the conclusion that planting catnip was not optional. I planted some of it in hopes of deterring the cat from eating everything else. The catnip just germinated a couple of days ago. So far Inky has shown zero interest in it, despite me showing it to him repeatedly. So much for that idea…

I suppose what I really need to do is get some cat grass seeds. I used to grow cat grass, and Inky adored that.

Reason #2: I’m not getting many seeds germinating to start with, because I’m planting old seeds that were exposed to heat. Bummer. But I’m working with such a small space that hopefully, even with a low germination rate, I can get enough plants growing to fill the few flower pots I have available. Wish me luck with that…

Today I Ate…

Organic vegetable soup — no recipe available (yet).

Mike has some freshly baked organic bread in the oven as we speak.

Update: The vegetable bread was absolutely delicious.

Today’s Workout…

…hasn’t happened yet. I was really hoping to go out for a walk with the family this afternoon — but, would you believe, it started snowing. That’s Brian Head for ya. It snows a lot here.

So, that’s how my day is shaping up. I better wrap this up — gotta go get the plants inside.



About the Author: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer with a background in textile design. She has been crocheting and crafting since childhood, and knitting since she was a teenager. Her work also appears at, and Amy sends out a free knitting and crochet newsletter so interested crafters can easily keep up with her new patterns and tutorials. If you’re already an Instagram user, Amy also invites you to follow her on Instagram.

This page was last updated on 7-4-2019.

Scrapbooking Layout: Brian Head, Utah. Supplies by Reminisce.

My husband and his friends are really into mountain biking. This past August, we took a trip to Brian Head, Utah, so they could ride in a race that was taking place there. I actually took my bike along for the trip too. It was so much fun, even though I fell off my bike a bunch of times and got totally scraped, bruised and sunburned.

Normally when I go on these trips I take a camera, but not a bike. These guys are really experienced riders, and I am not. I do enjoy riding the trails with my husband, but it’s not as much fun for me when he gets together with a bunch of hardcore riders and they decide to ride down really insane terrain. To that, I say, “No thanks!”

I usually have more fun taking photos of them than I would have if I were attempting to ride with them. I took quite a few photos on this Utah trip~ almost 1,000 photos all together. No, I am not going to scrapbook them all. 😉 But I am picking out all my favorites to print and scrap.

It was sooooooooooooo beautiful up there in the mountains, and it was hard to take a bad picture up there. Everywhere I looked, there was gorgeous scenery. Pretty incredible! Utah is just spectacular.

The rider pictured in this scrapbook layout is my husband. For his cycling layouts, I try to keep it simple- definitely no paper lace, ribbons, or Prima Flowers. The truth is that my husband would rather just have his photos stuck in albums. He does humor me with my scrapbooking, but I try not to press my luck and go too crazy with embellishing his bike photos. 😉

Interestingly enough, I’ve found that he seems to like the layouts I’ve been doing lately with Reminisce’s Great outdoors line. The papers are really ideal for this kind of layout — much better suited than the few-and-far-between bike-themed papers that I’ve seen. I do dream about the day when someone will release a downhill mountain biking themed collection, but until then the Great Outdoors line is the next best thing.

Supplies Used To Create This Scrapbooking Layout:

  • Camping Alphabet Stickers: by Reminisce, from the Great Outdoors Collection
  • Wilderness Map / Trail Map patterned paper: by Reminisce, also from the Great Outdoors Collection
  • The Great Outdoors Journal Stickers by Reminisce
  • The strip of Camouflage patterned paper is by K & Co.
  • Black Sharpie Marker
  • Gray Cardstock
  • Fiskars Paper Edgers — I think this design is called “Mountains”. It seemed appropriate. This particular design is now hard to find, but you could substitute either a pair of pinking shears or a different pair of paper edgers. There are a zillion of ’em. If you are doing a “guy” layout like this one, it’s a good idea to avoid the ones that are too froofroo, but you have quite a few choices available.

Mountain Biking: Brian Head, Utah NMBS Races (+ Crash Photos)

My husband, Mike, mountain biking in Brian Head, Utah

My husband, Mike, mountain biking in Brian Head, Utahbria

Three of us, plus four bikes, made a road trip from Santa Barbara, California up to Brian Head, Utah for the NMBS (National Mountain Bike Series) mountain bike races. I did ride on this trip, but I didn’t want to race; instead, I spent most of my time taking pictures of the riders on the mountain.

In all, I ended up taking more than 1,000 photos. I shot most of them during the practice runs the guys were taking down the pro course.

This was an interesting course, because there were 2 choices for the line you could take down. There was a “hard” line which took the riders down over a bunch of rocks plus an insane drop. My photos really don’t do this spot justice at all~ they fail to convey how big the drop was.

My opinion: You’d have to be a NUT CASE to ride a bike down that!

And then there was the “easy” way down, which was not easy, either, by any stretch of the imagination. I overheard more than one rider saying that the hard way was actually easier than the easy way, all things considered.

On the other hand, all the crashes I witnessed ~ and there were quite a few of them ~ Took place on the harder spot.

So, I thought I’d share some crash photos with you all. Here are some highlights:

Brian Head Utah Downhill MTB Crash: Brad Jensen #598

Here we have some photos of Brad Jensen, an Oneal / Azonic sponsored rider who raced the men’s expert-master 45-49 class.

Brad started off strong…
Downhill Mountain Biking in Brian Head, Utah
Looking good so far…
Until right about here, when all of a sudden I’m thinking that something looks amiss.
The Pro Downhill Mountain Bike Course at the National MTB Race in Brian Head, Utah
AAAAAACKKKKK. Who put that hay bale there?Downhill Mountain Bike Crash in Brian Head, Utah


Downhill Mountain Bike Crash in Brian Head, Utah

Double ouch. Nothing like getting whacked by your own bike.

Downhill Mountain Bike Crash in Brian Head, UT

Right about now, I have to ask, where’s the rest of your padding, Brad? Are you nuts? Dude, if you’re going to ride down insane terrain like this, get some elbow pads. Seriously. A longer pair of protective Shin guards wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

Downhill Mountain Bike Crash in Brian Head, Utah

We’re SO RELIEVED to see you got right back up! Major props. That looked like quite a spill. Hope you didn’t suffer any lasting injuries after that one.

Unidentified Rider Crashes During the Practice Runs for the National Mountain Bike Series Races in Brian Head, Utah

Despite making a valiant effort to identify this rider, I was unable to figure out who he is — but I sure would love to know. If this is you or one of your friends, please comment and identify him so we can give him the props he deserves for this spectacular crash. Thanks! 🙂

He’s approaching the drop.
Downhill Mountain Biker Bombing Down the Mountain in Brian Head, Utah

Did I mention, you’d have to be a complete maniac to even attempt this trail?

Not kidding. My photos do not do it justice. It’s impossible to get a sense of just how big and insane this part is unless you actually stood at the top, looking down.

OK, so he launched off of it… Not bad, so far. Looking good…Will he land this?

The Downhill Pro Course at the National Mountain Bike Series Races in Brian Head, Utah

Looks like he’s clearing that sketchy spot here. YES! Rock on!
Expert Downhill Mountain Biker in Brian Head, Utah
Wait a minute…wait a minute…UH-Oh. Here’s something you don’t see every day ~ an expert mountain biker face-planting right into a bale of hay.
MMMMMmmmmm. Yummy hay!
Expert Mountain Biker Crashing on the Pro Course in Brian Head, Utah

Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Mountain Biker Crashes into a Hay Bale During Practice Runs for the NMBS Mountain Bike Races in Brian Head, Utah

Let’s take a closer look at that.
Oh my.
Yep, looks painful.
Expert Mountain Biker Crashing on the Pro Downhill Course at Brian Head, UT
WhoooHOOOOO!!!! Super stoked to see him get up after that.Expert Mountain Biker Crashed on the National Mountain Bike Series Races Pro Course in Brian Head, Utah

Great crash, dude. Hope you are not too banged up, bruised up or scraped up after that!

I am wondering at this point, is there anyone who raced the downhill pro course at Brian Head who didn’t crash? I saw plenty of injuries, scrapes, bruises, and ripped jerseys. (If you need to buy a new jersey because yours got too thrashed, make sure to check out the cycling gear comparison search engine Mike programmed at to buy the best gear at the best prices.)

Our Race Results

Chris W. was planning on racing the downhill course. Mike wasn’t planning on racing, or maybe just racing the Super D. But in the end that’s not how things worked out.

Mike didn’t bring a downhill bike, so he wasn’t sure if he would be able to race the downhill course. Then when he actually saw the downhill courses, he thought the sport class downhill trail looked easily do-able on his bike, so he decided to go for it. And he definitely wanted to race the Super D too after seeing how much fun that trail was.

In the end, the Super D got rained out and rescheduled to a time that conflicted with his downhill race, so he just ended up racing the downhill. And got a flat. Bummer!

His time wasn’t bad, considering the flat. And he did walk away with a medal.

Chris, on the other hand, hadn’t been planning on racing the Super D until Mike told him how much fun the Super D trail was. He had just been planning on racing the downhill. So he did race the Super D, but never made it to the downhill. Here’s what happened to Chris just hours before his downhill race:

Funny, because I’d been taking plenty of crash photos of everyone else eating dirt, and Chris had been laughing his head off. I told him, “Dude, make sure you don’t do anything stupid unless I have the camera there to take photos of it.”

Did he listen to me? NO. 🙁 So I don’t have any photos of his crash, although I do have plenty of pics of him where he made it down the mountain just fine. He made it look easy.

Chris riding the pro course at Brian Head, before his big crash

Chris riding the pro course at Brian Head, before his big crash

That’s my friend Chris for you…he was nuts enough to ride a bike down that, and he has the cast to prove it.

The injury put a damper on what was otherwise an epic trip. We’re definitely planning to ride Brian Head again — wouldn’t hesitate to go back (although you won’t find me attempting that pro course any time soon — NO WAY!)

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you are enjoying your week, and that you’re getting plenty of riding time in… Be sure to check back soon for even more crash photos, plus a lot of pics of guys that actually made it without crashing. 🙂 Brian Head, Utah, Aug 2008…FUN times and (mostly) happy memories. 🙂