Previous month:
March 2007
Next month:
May 2007

UFO and Saturday Sky on Sunday

Dsc00082 Dsc00067

My Favorite Black Vest (MFBV) with cute Edelweiss pin (love it -- Katie got in Germany) is a rummage sale find (no more than $2) that I wear all.the.time and have for years -- over t-shirts, v-necks, crewnecks, turtlenecks, dressed-up, dressed-down, with a shawl, a scarf.  It's black, goes with anything, has pockets (love the pockets!) and is the perfect length for me.  It's starting to show it's age.

The Worsted Green Vest (TWGV) is one that I have had around, awaiting finishing -- buttonholes and buttons -- since before I started blogging *ahem* 3 *ehrm* years ago.  It's been near the top of my UFO Resurrection list since Day One.  One of the more time-consuming to deal with, it wasn't attended to right away, but I finally pulled it out and tried it on a few weeks ago to prepare for the big finish -- or so I thought.  Good grief.

I photographed MFBV atop TWGV for comparison purposes.  MFBV has become a little more snug 'round the rear the past couple of years (I'm working on that), but even so, TWGV is way too big and, I'm thinking, it always has been!  What in the world was I thinking?  There's a lot of elasticity to the stitch, also, and just look at those shoulders!  Can you spell F-R-U-M-P?  I'm drowning in that thing!  How I could have thought this was good in any way, when I was 20-25 pounds lighter, even... and I don't recall having a single, solitary second-thought about TWGV when I was working on it.

Dsc00092 Dsc00096

Today, all that's left intact are the pocket linings.  I've got some yarn washing and de-kinking to do.

Saturday Sky (over our fair, small city) on Sunday, courtesy of Alison.  Sunday's ain't bad either and we've got a house to unbutton!

Welcome to Squaresville


A square by any other is a horse with no name of a different color.

Or my mom and dad, ca. 1969-1973.

I kind of miss seeing Cara's mitered squares everyday, don't you?  A daily dose of madness never hurt anyone.

It's a good thing I started the "Tote My Granny Along" so I could make and post my own colorful squares everyday!  They're not nearly as inspired, nor am I as nuts single-minded and obsessed driven, but they are quick and colorful and fun to play with!

I tried the dustier pink and it's WAY too Pepto.  Can't have that!  The first and only time I ever took Pepto Bismol, I "got sick" anyway and, well, I'm not going to paint a picture -- you already know the predominant color.  I can't have Pepto in my purse!  The Sugar & Cream palette is rather limited in solids and there's only one other solid pink left to try -- a soft, baby pink.  If that doesn't work, I may have to echo Nova and "ix-nay on the ink-pay" altogether.

Dsc00024I'm using different yarn than specified, of course, but the same size hook and my squares are turning out a little smaller than written.  That's actually a good thing because that bag is HUGE -- which is fine for a tote but I think I might want to use this as my go-to bag this summer.

It all continues to evolve.

Tomorrow morning I'll be knitting again (seems like ages) in Joan McGowan-Michael's "Vintage Knitting" with class at the Spring Midwest Master's Seminar!  There isn't any homework for that class, so I just need to show up with needles and yarn!

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

No pink!

My most recently finished square -- purple, lime green and maroon -- is my new favorite and it's shaken everything up!  One thing is clear...

Dsc00020 Dsc00021

The pink must go!!  The smaller, unifinished, two-color square was bordered in pink, but I've already ripped it off and will re-do it in another color.  I have another, more dusty pink that I might use instead... or maybe a different color altogether.  I really thought the bright pink would complement or balance the lime green, but it's just too hot.  This is turning out to be a little bit of a trial-and-error project -- and I love it!

Early yesterday morning I tried to roll over from my right side to my left and was jolted awake by a very sharp pain in my right shoulder.  Now, I have aches and pains everyday, it's just a matter of degrees, and I've learned to manage things pretty well.  For over 20 years, I've had carpal tunnel-ish wrist problems, and tennis elbow-ish elbow problems, and various neck/shoulder/upper back/lower back aches; I know to expect a bit of stiffness, that my hand and arm may feel a little numb or tingle on occasion, sometimes at night, I also know when to back off, when to stretch and when it's time for medication.

The sharp pain is disconcerting.  Not being able to raise your arm over your head is disconcerting.  It is much better today -- I can actually do a lame sort of windmill -- and I think it was mostly the result of sleeping on it wrong (though how that happens after 48+ years of practice -- something I do at least once every 24-hour period -- is beyond me), but I think the crocheting -- and perhaps especially crocheting with cotton -- have a featured role.  I sit differently when I crochet, definitely have a lot more wrist action going on than when knitting, and I think I may use my shoulder more -- or differently.  It's a whole different thing.  I took a lot of breaks last night to stretch and will continue to be careful, but I probably won't go too far in the hooking business.

Thank you for all the wonderful encouragement, advice, support and understanding in regards to my little chickies stretching their wings and flying the coop.  I've had some trial runs with this, taking Katie to school in California, sending her off for a semester of study in England -- heartbreaking (mine), clucking at full volume, feathers flying -- but the "school" part gave those a different spin.  Actually, I think I do most of my freaking out on the inside -- or here on the blog -- I don't really freak out much on the outside... too much... I don't think I do.  Well, maybe a little.  I do try to project confidence in their reasoning, decisions and abilities, I attempt to gently guide them, if needed, and especially keep communication open, keep a level head.

I especially smiled when it was suggested that perhaps friendly knitters in Seattle could be enlisted to keep a watchful eye -- because don't think for a second that I didn't bring that up within two minutes!!  I've told them all that I know people EVERYWHERE!!  And isn't that just the most amazing thing?  I couldn't say that when I took Katie to college in California -- if that trip were made today, you can bet I'd be stopping in SLC to see Margene and the Utah Grrls instead of just filling up my gas tank, visiting with Birdsong as we traversed the hills because we could have made it "on the way."  It's incredible -- one of those times that truly blows my mind, when I realize what a wonderful myriad we are -- all as a result of blogging about our knitting and other important things.

April 25th

Dsc00019_2And she is sixteen.

Sixteen is good.

Happy Birthday, Maddy.  I love you.

As of today, she is eligible to take her behind-the-wheel driver's test!

Dsc00013Madeleine shares her birthday with plenty of sports figures, actors and musicians, some politicians and rulers, a few scientists and writers.  She also shares her birthday with a great great great grandmother, Sarah.  I sometimes wish I'd named Maddy after her.

As it was, Maddy was supposed to be Zoe -- as were all the girls, actually -- but DH didn't like it.  He'd warmed to it by #3 and, knowing that our third child would be our last, he was willing to concede, but I just couldn't give a child a name that he didn't like.  His whole family liked it well enough, though, and they all call her Zoe!  (If we'd had a boy, he would have been David Michael after our two brothers.  If we'd had more than one boy, it's anyone's guess.)

It's hard to say where Maddy's path will lead.  She's interested in travel (Africa!), animals and the environment, and she likes to help people.  She is a fearless, formidable champion of causes near and dear to her, but also quiet as she stands to be heard.  Perhaps a future activist is in our midst.

With Maddy bringing up the rear behind Ali and Katie, so ends our little annual birthday parade.  This is always a time of reflection for me and you'd think I'd get used to it, but they continue to blow me away every year.  As it should be.

Mdsc00011_2 Mdsc00012 Mdsc00015 Mdsc00017 

They're also pretty good at making me laugh.  Let's have cake or somethin'!

Bonus and a little S.O.S.

Dsc00006There's a little bonus amongst the pea sprouts in two of the pergola planters.  I almost yanked them last week, but they had that look -- you know, more substantial than your run-of-the-mill weed -- and now I've been rewarded with flowering friendlies that found their way into the organic soil mix we used.

I had a heck of the time with the photography -- this being in a spot that required contortions and, even then, it was impossible to actually see the LCD screen while the picture was taken -- you could call it "point-and-blindly-shoot" photography.  The camera kept wanting to focus on what was behind the plant, as if the plant weren't even there.  I finally threw down one of my crocheted squares for a backdrop, but it's still not all that great.

I can't help but think of Gladys.  Remember her?  The Stevens' nosy neighbor on Bewitched?  I'd have driven Gladys off the deep end long ago and I'm thankful everyday that I don't have neighbors of the nosy -- or any other -- kind on the east side of my house.

Dsc00008 Dsc00009

The square on the left is a "good" square, the square on the right a "bad," but I love that color combo and will defnitely use it again for "good." I'm undecided as to the final color combo and also the final shape, but it'll all come together.  I'm having fun with them.

I'm pointing at one of the Blue Angel hosta shoots that I uncovered last night -- they're huge!  I just love those things -- they get bigger every year.  This photo was taken in plain view of a potential Gladys or two, but I took my chances.

KnitsignalSending out an S.O.S.  I was going to post this the other day for my Saturday sky.  It's Bookish Wendy's knit-signal -- to be used in much the same way as the Commissioner would use the bat-signal to summon Batman & Robin -- which I've only had to use once before.  Initially, I was going to put it up full-screen -- not so much to summon anyone, but just to signify that there's a little distress.

Alison wants to move to Seattle this fall.  She says that she just needs to get out, go somewhere else... and her boyfriend is moving there in a few weeks.

Damn, that's far.

Can I take it back, what I said last week about her wings and going far?

The thing is, I understand completely -- probably more than she thinks I do -- and I'm doing okay.  Mostly.  I don't know if I'd have taken this so well a month ago.  I did the same thing -- but different.  The situation was different.  I moved to the Oregon coast after a breakup and had a pretty good job waiting for me.  Seattle with a boyfriend -- I didn't think it was that serious, move-across-the-country serious, and maybe it isn't... or maybe it is... I don't know.  Am I not seeing clearly?  I don't want her to go.  Did my mom feel this way?  I don't think I was as sensitive to her as Ali is to me.  I know she has to go.  What can I do?  This is growing up.  This is what Twenty can do.  This is the goal, pretty much, isn't it?  I wouldn't have done my job if she didn't ever want to leave.  I didn't really believe her when she told me, at age 8, that she'd live with us forever... or at 12 when she said she wanted to buy our house one day.

I'll be fine.  I know I'm in plenty of good company and I know I'll survive -- maybe with some heart-clutching panics and pangs and a few self-indulgent tears along the way.  This is nothing new, except that it's new to me.  They just grow up so damn fast -- soveryfast.  I knew it would happen eventually.  I guess.  I always thought this mom stuff would get easier as the kids got older.  Send hugs.

Post O' Plenty

The weekend was marvelous -- the weather couldn't have been better and oh, what a difference sunshine and warm weather makes -- I really needed it!

On Saturday, I strung strings for supporting peas in the pergola -- they grew so much over the weekend!  By my calculations, we ought to be harvesting our first peas in about a month.  I had laundry on the line, arranged patio furniture on the deck, ran some errands -- checked out a couple of new-to-me markets -- and started cleaning in preparation for Sunday night's birthday (x3) celebration dinner.

The cleaning continued on Sunday (I do my best work on sunny days), interspersed with more errands and another market run and then it was time for cooking (and by then, boy, was I beat).  I fortified myself with Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat and oversaw the christening of the pergola -- a nice gathering with plenty of room for all -- before dinner.  DH grilled some wonderful steaks which we had with steamed green beans, and I finally tried Carole's recipe for Artichokes French!  It was a big hit!  To make prep a little easier (because I was running short on time), I threw all the halved, drained artichokes into a plastic zipper bag with the flour, making the dredging far less drudging.  Excellent interpretation, Carole -- brava!

I didn't knit a single stitch all weekend, but crocheted instead.  I have one very colorful but very bad granny square that shall be viewed as the refresher square and which may make a useful coaster.  The execution for the first half is all wrong, but there is marked improvement in the second half where I relied less on memory and more on actual How-To.  I completed one entire good square last night and, well, this is going to be a fast, fun project.  To make a quantity of squares for a bag will be quick enough, and I ought to even speed up a little as I gain experience with the hook.  I have some sewing piling up, so I'll give the machine a good workout when it comes time for that part, too.

Some things to check out:

Pamela Wynne at Flint Knits posted a fantastic tutorial for making a Recycled Sweater Jacket.  It's definitely something I'd like to do in the fall -- and I'll be keeping my eye out for likely suspects now that garage sale season is underway.  Pamela also has one of the coolest knitterly tattoos I've seen.  I have made no decision in that regard, but succeeded in totally messin' up one of the sisters over the weekend with the very idea that it's even a blip on my radar.

Sew Green has recently landed on my ra-blog-dar screen with a great post about Knitting GreenThere's lots of interesting stuff...

I've signed up for the Saturday morning session (next Saturday) at Yarns by Design's Spring 2007 Midwest Master's Seminar -- "Vintage Knitting" by Joan McGowan-Michael.  I think this will be a useful class for me.  In the past, I've signed up for the full weekend of classes (and dinner) or nothin'.  I think it's been held a couple of weeks earlier in the past and this year, I don't know, maybe after a slow start it's that spring has finally sprung and I just want to be outside -- not to say that Annie Modesitt and Candace Eisner Strick and all the rest aren't tempting.  Oh, they are!!  I may live to regret it... though I do still have nearly a week to add another class... or two... or three.

MdnewbottleA while back, I accepted a sample of lotion to try.  Now, I am not the most regular user or doer of anything -- I don't take vitamins regularly, I don't remember to use the hormone cream when I'm supposed to, I don't get my hair cut regularly -- one of the big reasons I've shied from coloring my hair is the regularity that would have to follow -- I don't exercise regularly, either, except every week as I dash out to with the trash to chase the garbage truck.  Even in the most desperate of circumstances, in the driest dead of winter, I am very careful about using lotion because I don't want "stuff" to get on my knitting (or anything else, for that matter) and, most of the time, I'd put lotion on my hands and then wash most of it off.  This Skin MD Natural is so unbelievably light and quick to absorb, and odorless!  At first, I kept squeezing out way too much, but I think I've finally got the quantity down.  True to form, I haven't used it with great regularity, but when I reach for lotion -- this is it.  I've even begun to use it on my face and I'm even more particular about what's slathered there.  I'm very happy to see that a couple of pharmacies in my area carry it.

April 22nd

Project1And she is twenty-two.

And that is also plenty.

Happy Birthday, Katie.  I love you.

Dsc09919_2At quick glance, Katie shares her birthday with plenty of sports figures and musicians, some politicians and rulers, a few scientists and writers.

She also shares it with Earth Day!  She has no spings-immediately-to-mind qualifier for The BBC -- she's more likely a member of its possible counterpart, let's say The GBC, wherein Earth Day might vie with Arbor Day...

Katie's path, at present, is decidedly in the arts -- with a side of good Seattle-based coffee slinging.  She also has a wonderful sense of style and that may figure into her future somehow, too.  There are some exciting possibilites on her horizon.

The sun's just coming up.

Get thee to Home Depot today for one of the 1,000,000 CFLs they're giving away in honor of Katie's birthday Earth Day.


Let there be peas on earth...


...and let it begin with me.

Giddy, I tell you.  I'm positively giddy.  I've been checking and and tonight I was rewarded -- my very first, my very own, baby pea sprouts.  With the prediction of a sunny, warm weekend (70F!), the fewer than half-dozen germinating sprouts will no doubt be joined by many more.  I have to do a little thing with some hooks and string for support before they get too big -- not crochet, although perhaps it would be good practice -- hahaha, crocheted chains to support the climbing peas -- because that's about the only support my hooking would provide at this point.  That reminds me of when my stepmom taught Katie & Ali to crochet a chain when they were little.  They took turns and crocheted a chain that reached from our front porch to their friends' front porch and back -- three houses down and across the street!

Again and again

...again and again the visions of who we are, how we can be.  The struggle we go through as human beings, so we can again and again have compassion for ourselves and treat each other kindly.

--Natalie Goldberg, "Writing Down The Bones"

I don't know if those words would have been interpreted quite the same, would have struck me and hit home as they did, would have rattled 'round my brain for days, as they have, if I'd read them on any day other than April 16th.  The words "kinder, gentler nation" have loosened themselves from memory and have also been rattling around in my head.

Is there an ebb and flow to compassion and kindness?  Is our hold on and awareness of compassion and kindness so easily lost?  Is it something we regularly lose or forget about over time?  Do the very acts of compassion and kindness depend on our being shaken up by unspeakable tragedy every now and then?  Do we need to exercise every single one of our emotions the same as we exercise our bodies and minds -- use it or lose it?

Those are some of the things I've been thinking about this week as I knit, choose yarn for a crochet project, do laundry, pay bills, go to the store, talk on the phone, go to work, pick up Maddy at school, have a couple of beers with a friend, consider and try to solve the world's problems.

* * * * * *

My book club met last night after being postponed a couple of times and, since only two of the seven in attendance actually read the book even with all the extra time (I will freely admit that I wasn't one of them), a nice, lively discussion of many topics occurred over dinner instead.  It was really just perfect and, actually, not unlike most of our meetings.  I know I'm not the only one who attends book club for the social aspect ever so much more than for discussion of a book -- the book is a nice vehicle, and sometimes we are all swept away by one, but we're of widely varied interests and backgrounds, so that's rare.

I only managed one row on the Shape-It Scarf yesterday and nothing much, really, in regards to brushing up on my hooking skills, except that I did pull my trusty Reader's Digest "Complete Guide to Needlework" off the shelf and page through the crochet section.  That book was one a practical gift from my grandparents in 1984 and has been relied on many, many times.  I was happy to see that it had a section on reading a charted crochet pattern -- which is totally new to me.  I have often seen this book -- sometimes multiple copies -- for practically nothing at thrift stores and I would definitely recommend it to a beginner, especially if the budget is tight.

It makes me smile to think of some of the other practical gifts from my grandparents -- flannel pajamas, a tied quilt, a complete set of towels when I had my first place, a brown/orange/gold granny square afghan...


Dsc00004I made a quick run for Sugar & Cream yesterday so I'm all ready to Tote My Granny Along.  The minute I saw that bag, I knew I wanted to make it in cotton!  This is what I came home with.  I'll dump and consider the dishrag stash before making a final determination -- which will be subject to change, anyway -- but a hooker's got to start somewhere.

Crocheting is not like riding a bike, at least not for me.  Perhaps because I never was really good at it -- never took the training wheels off, let's say.  I made two perfectly fine doilies and had a good start on a crocheted Barbie dress -- there's nothing like a crocheted Barbie dress (it was red)!  I still remember sitting tub-side on a little stool, crocheting that dress while overseeing the girls' bathtime, back in the day when bathtime needed to be overseen.  They don't need that when they're Twenty (I can't stop capitalizing it), not even when they're ten, so, yeah, it's been a while.  Anyway, I'll have to get out the How-To Hook Manual today.

Dsc00008 Dsc00006

It turns out, there were four knitters who also arrived early for knitting last night, so I had my date with them -- and the eight others who showed up during the course of the evening.  Eleven in all, most of them new to me!  I made a lot of progress on the Shape-It Scarf!  I love to see the regular color repeats all lined up when the stitches are all bunched up on the needle.  I love it only a little bit less today than I did the day before yesterday, so I think the timing of this project will be perfect -- by the time I'm sick of it, the knitting should be done.

Maddy happened to be at an event not far from the cafe, so I cut out a little early to give her and two friends a ride home.  I got home just in time to see the "bottom two" Dancing With The Stars contestants and Clyde's ultimate departure.  I predict that John will be next, followed by Billy Ray -- or maybe vice versa -- and then, I don't know.  Heather?  I like her a whole lot better than I thought I would.  Laila?  Loved her the first few episodes, but she's really got to step it up -- and let go of the control thing a little and learn to trust.  Ian and Joey and Apolo -- it'll be interesting.  Did I forget anyone?

I was ready to hunker down for Boston Legal, but ABC had a special report about Virginia Tech.  I really hadn't watched any news coverage -- video blips here, a caption or paragraph there -- and even with my limited exposure, I'd already tired of all the media "If..." interviews -- but I decided to watch.  We really liked Chris Cuomo's demeanor and reporting.  All I could think, though, when I saw the kids hugging each other and that sea of candles is that they probably would all really like to hug their moms!  I realized that, actually, their moms probably longed to hug them even more.



The best parts about yesterday:  1) when Ali brought her own birthday cake (hm, a new tradition?), and 2) when she read yesterday's post and I got a really big hug.

It's only the beginning.  There's a 10-day Birthday Bonanza at my house every April.  Ali kicks it off on the 16th, Katie comes next on the 22nd, and Maddy on the 25th.  That's not counting Aunt Arlene who, as mentioned yesterday, also has a birthday on the 16th; or Uncle Eugene (Arlene's brother) whose birthday would have been today; or Lester, my grandpa, who would have been 97 on the 28th; or my nephew who will be -- oh my goodness, is it 10 or 11? -- on the 29th... or is it 30th?

The worst part about yesterday was the senseless loss of life in Virginia -- college kids, young lives -- and unspeakable sadness.  Alison may now qualify for The BBC.  In all honesty, it just does not compute yet.  I hold my own kids close -- college kids, young lives -- and take comfort in all the little things.

Dsc05935_1Knitting is one of those little things.  I haven't been to my LYS in a while, but the last few times I have noticed a long, narrow, scarf-like shawl item displayed in a niche near the sock yarn.  I don't know why... I'm not a prolific sock knitter, by any means, and yet I'm always drawn to the sock yarn.

It's the "Shape It Scarf" from Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch and I'm underway with Southwest Trading Co. Bamboo, a Secret Pal gift from Rose-Kim Knits that's been patiently waiting in the stash since November of 2005.  Every time I've run across this ball in the yarn chest, I'd pick it up and give it a squeeze, feel it's heft, bring it to my face and draw it across my lips to feel it's softness, wonder when it's time would come and what it would become.  I think I've finally found it!  This combination of yarn and design is going to be fabulous -- the fairly short and regular color changes are working out very well -- and it's an item that I think I'll wear a lot!  It is not a difficult knit at all, and I am at the completely mindless part where it's just garter stitch on about 180 stitches for four inches -- I'm one of those easily entertained (or is it entranced) knitters, though, and the colors keep me fascinated.  It's only four inches...

I'm knitting out tonight!  In fact, I'm not even going home.  I'm taking yarn, needles, notebook and pens, and heading out early for a date with myself.

EditedToAdd:  Hahaha.  If your monitor's big enough, scroll down so that you can see both the Bamboo yarn and the top of Ali's head in yesterday's photo.  No wonder I've always liked this yarn.

April 16th

Alilittle_2And she is twenty.  Twenty will last the year, and twenty-one will follow.  But for now, it's twenty.  It's plenty.

Happy Birthday, Ali.  I love you.

(Can I just say?  I love these last two -- the last two times I've seen you -- do-it-yourself haircuts, too.)

Dsc09984_2At quick glance, it's easy to see that Alison shares her birthday with many musicians and performers, quite a few athletes and a few writers, not so many scientists, mathmeticians or rulers/politicians.  She also shares it with my Aunt Arlene.  ; )

It is still unclear as to what Ali's career(s) will be -- but whatever she does, she's got the wings (well, presently, maybe, only one) and she's sure to soar.

Fly, little darlin', go high and go far.

But not too far.

Well, as far as you need to, I guess.

I'll always have you close.

Of sweaters and quilts

On Friday night, I wore Williamsro to the art opening -- there are fiber artists in that cooperative, they hold the knitting in high esteem -- and yesterday, I wore Fibonacci to the quilt show.  I was a little warm yesterday and am both happy and sad that the days are numbered as far as the woolens are concerned.

Have I mentioned, by the way, how much happier I am with Williamsro since I ripped and re-knit the bottom (Noro Blossom) part of the body?  I had picked up too many stitches the first time -- it was okay at first, but then it began to stretch and I could even see it pulling the other part (Noro Cash Iroha) of the sweater out of shape.  What was once a rhetorical question ("Does this sweater make my butt look big?") was not so rhetorical anymore and I didn't like the answer.  I'm happy I didn't let that one sit for too long.

Fibonacci, having been knit entirely using left-overs from another sweater, seemed appropriate attire for Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend Quilts, and Beyond at The Paine Art Center in Oshkosh -- even if the colors are more fall-like than spring.  (It's been on my mind to knit another, in different colors, for the warm seasons -- maybe in cotton?)

Dsc09988 Dsc09981

Alison met us (Mom and me) and then we all went to lunch afterwards.  Ali was really more interested in just lunch and could have foregone the quilts, but I made her see the show and I think she was amazed.  We all were.  I knew a little more what to expect, but Mom & Ali had no clue.

"Quilts," I'd say. "We're going to a quilt show, but they're different..."

It's so hard to describe these quilts and their design -- how free and fresh and inspiring and inspired and traditional and artistic and cutting-edge and colorful and resourceful and moving -- without sounding a little more than passionate -- without sounding a little nuts.  And I'm not even a quilter!  They make you passionate, indeed.  The show was quite busy and (not surprised) no cameras were allowed.  One word:  GO!  If you have the opportunity to see this show (or a variation), just go.

We toured the mansion, also (amazing), and there is a children's discovery area in the lower level.  It was so wonderful to see Gee's Bend-inspired quilt designs on the wall, very nicely done (fabric patches glued to paper) by some local 5th graders.  It was a big highlight of the show, for me -- fun to see the fabric of their lives -- lots of sports-minded prints, including the Packers, some Pokemon, lots of denim, but also some glitzy glittery fabrics.  There was one so definitely inspired by the Work Clothes quilts and very meticulously done so that all the frayed edges of the denim were exposed.

Dsc09983_2 Dsc09991

The Paine is also known for their gardens.  This corkscrewy bush (for lack of knowing what it's really called) is right next to the museum entrance.  So intriguing.  There's nothing much blooming yet, except for some snowdrops, but the tulips and daffodils are promising -- soon!  Still, even at this stage, the gardens are beautiful.  I went on a stitcher's retreat to Colonial Williamsburg one December and was amazed at how beautiful the gardens were at the dormant time of year -- truly something to aspire to with my own gardens.  Right now, though, "Baby A" and I would just be happy to see sprouting peas.  Sweater details in the "Completed in 2007" sidebar photo album.

Art -O-

Dsc09956 Dsc09943

Main Street Art Works.  Some wonderful people and artists.  Member Sarah Birschbach's show opened last night.  A good time was had by all.  There was a hint of another item on my weekend calendar in the framed piece by Mary O'Leary.

* * * * *

For Mim's Meme:  My first nickname, "Mouse," was given by my dad; he called me Mouse well into adulthood and then one day I noticed that he wasn't anymore.  I chalked it up to being a disappointment in one area or another, or it was a result of some particular thing I'd done, and so I was not worthy of an endearing nickname anymore.  It bothered me, maybe, a little bit... but, you know, I just can't delve too deeply into that quagmire or I may never come back -- besides, at the time, there were diapers needing to be changed constantly (not mine) or juice boxes that needed to be opened or someone wanted a story read.  Not going there.  Then one day, several years later, perhaps after I'd done something to redeem myself or maybe old habits just never really do die, I heard it again.  "Mouse."

My brother couldn't say Vicki, so he called me Ficki; my youngest sister couldn't say it either, and she called me Gicki.  Now they all sometimes call me Gick.  "Hey, Gick, how's it going?"

After Mouse, Ficki, Gicki and Gick, the other most commonly used nickname would have to be Vicki-toria.

* * * * * *

For pure, full-color inspiration, have you seen The Walker Treasury Project blog?  I found the Schoolhouse Press edition of Barbara G. Walker's Learn-to-Knit Afghan Book (enjoy the scroll-down) on a recent thrift store excursion and, of course, it came home with me.  It's FABULOUS!

If you happen to one day come to this blog and see something that looks suspiciously like a granny square, something that makes you wonder if you're really at knit-orious or did you mistakenly go to crochet-itorious, the award blame goes to (the very inspirational and gonna get me in trouble one day but I'm not going alone - someone's coming with me - mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha) Purl Bee blog and posts (with all the links!) such as this.

Though the next thing you're likely to see/read about here will be quilting of the Gee's Bend variety.  I'm off.

Damn the Torpedoes

The last song I hear on my car radio in the morning is usually the one I end up humming all day -- it can really set the tone, and some songs/some days are better than others.

Sometimes, when there's a really good song on the radio, I'd rather crank the radio and keep driving.  Today was one of those days.

Today is going to be a really good day for humming.  I might even have to cop a riff on my air guitar.

Well, it was nearly all summer we sat on your roof
Yeah, we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon
And I'd show you stars you never could see
Baby, it couldn't have been that easy to forget about me

Baby, time meant nothing, anything seemed real
Yeah, you could kiss like fire and you made me feel
Like every word you said was meant to be
Baby, it couldn't have been that easy to forget about me

"Even The Losers," Damn the Torpedoes, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Dsc09938I can't ever seem to crank it loud enough...

Look what will likely be finished today!  I need to weave in a few more ends at the cuffs, sew the side/sleeve seams on each side, and find buttons!

If I actually do get this one finished, it may spur me on to finish the other two...

This weekend, for sure, I'm traveling to see the Gee's Bend show.  The show ends on Sunday, so it's my last chance.  Come hell, high water, rain, snow, sleet, hail, blizzard -- whatever -- I'm going.

"baby a"

Dsc09929 Dsc09930

Dsc09931 Dsc09932

I love this little cardigan more and more.  "baby a (baby's hat + cardigan)" from Yarnplay.

So far, I've deviated from the pattern in that I've three-needled the fronts to the back at the shoulders, leaving the back neck stitches on a holder, which means that I'll be picking up and knitting a few rows at the neck instead of crocheting that edge.  I also picked up and knit the sleeve from the top down, decreasing rather than increasing, of course, and knitting the few rows in blue, eliminating another seam altogether.  I love how it turned out!

I'm using Filatura Di Crosa Nikerboker from stash (bought on sale for $3/ball) -- I've lost track of how many balls I've used -- same yarn I used for a long ago, unsuccessful attempt at thrummed mittens and, more recently, for my more successful Elizabeth Zimmermann Rib Warmer.  I may have enough to do the hat.

Book club is cancelled tonight, so I'll likely get the other sleeve knit.  ; )  It has begun to snow and I got slammed with a killer headache late this morning, so the trip to Oshkosh has been postponed.  I will have to do it on the weekend -- not ideal, but it's then or never.  The snow isn't actually so awful right now, but the wind is horrid.

Speaking of storms, I just posted a new entry for DH at Rusty's Beach about the Great Chilean Earthquake and resulting tsunami -- and how a young artist was inspired.  ; )

Also, continuing with my ebay listings, I've got a few good herb books.  Julia has found an entirely different and very fun method for dealing with cleaning off her bookshelves -- there are still a few days to get in on the fun.

The wheel is turning

I have had my nose to the grindstone.  I am happy to say that it's paid off and I'm all but finished with the taxes -- and I've still got some skin on the end of my nose!  Tomorrow, I will do a final review and filing will occur!  Woohoo!!!

I have put the calculator down only to do some Easter socializing -- snuggling with my cutest almost-2-year-old nephew, eating ham and yummy roasted smashed potatoes (that I didn't even have to make!), nibbling the ear of a dark chocolate bunny and, last night, watching most of Dancing With the Stars.

With the socializing and watching (and a little bit of riding shot gun while Maddy's driving), I have managed to knit the back and both fronts of the Yarnplay baby sweater and bound/seamed the shoulders.  I'm contemplating knitting the sleeves from the top down, thereby eliminating another seam!  I'll have to figure stitch count and decreases rather than increases, though, and will all the recent taxing math (heh - it's like a pun!), I thought I'd just better wait.

Yesterday, the weather ran the gamut from blue sky & sunshine all the way to white-out conditions.  It sure was pretty in the end, but considering that the white-out part was at rush hour -- what a mess.  And HELLO, it's April!!

Tomorrow was when we were supposed to get slammed -- and I think that's still in the forecast.  It's also one of my last opportunities to get down to Oshkosh for the Gee's Bend exhibit:  Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend Quilts, and Beyond.  Fingers crossed!

If it feels good, it is good

Yesterday, while waiting for repairmen, I cleaned out a big box of stuff from when Katie & I did the laundry/computer room overhaul last year.  We'd thrown out and donated a lot, but there was a lot that I wanted to keep but couldn't take the time to deal with right then.  I found homes for most everything yesterday and the box is now empty, though I must admit that a couple of things made their way back onto shelves in the laundry/computer room, but many more hit the recycling bin and/or trash can.

Then there's stuff like this.

Dsc09881 Dsc09882 Dsc09883

Dsc09884A small sheaf of paper having to do with the Keirsey Temperament Sorter II from a co-worker of many years ago -- questions, answers, profiles, characteristics.  These are our answer sheets (Maddy was too young at the time) -- the questions aren't important here (as always, click to make big).

Mine is on the left (ISTP-Artisan Crafter), checks; DH's is in red in the middle (INFP-Idealist Healer), Xs; Katie's is at upper right (also INFP-Idealist Healer), checks; and Ali's.  Ali is different.  She's an ENTP-Rational Inventor; from the ENTP profile:  They are the most reluctant of all the types to do things in a particular manner just because that's the way they have been done.  As a result, they often bring fresh, new approaches to their work and play.

I just can't throw this stuff away.

Dsc09877 Dsc09880 Dsc09879

I wanted to show Cara a close-up of the letters on the Debbie Bliss Nursery Knits ABC Sweater.  They're done in reverse stockinette on a field of stockinette -- and they work pretty well!  The verticals get kind of lost, but with blocking and/or wearing, I think they'll be fine.  I've begun knitting yet another baby sweater -- this time from Lisa Shobhana Mason's Yarnplay.  I'm trying to use up stash yarn!

Back to laundry (I'm catching up!) and taxes...


Dsc09888While I don't have the lighthearted glow that only new love brings, I am lit up once again.

I ASSumed a few things in regard to how this morning's service call would go, and you know what that made me.  Repairman #1 -- who was not chosen using the dart method, by the way -- came and saw and told me that they'd have to order the parts (!) and it would be about a week (!).  I was dumbfounded.  I couldn't believe that they didn't anticipate exactly what my problem would be and have the parts -- if not on the truck, at least back at the shop -- given my description and the track record of this model.

While sorting laundry on the kitchen floor through tears of aggravation, preparing for a BIG (and heavy) trip to the laundromat, trying to convince myself that the uninterrupted knitting/reading time really would make it better (failing miserably), I realized that there are other repairmen on the block.  This time I did let my fingers do the walking and the first ad I saw that said "fully stocked trucks" got the call.  Long story, a couple of hours and 1/3 the original cost of the machine later (I could have bought a brand new machine -- it crossed my mind), I'm back in business and hearing the familiar, high-pitched whir of my front-loading washer -- which, by the way, has done a very good job of felting every single woolen item I've ever put into it, and I haven't meant to felt a single one of them.

Did you see "Flat Me" (there ought to be a club, Scout, eh?) at Cursingmama's?  I was a HARLOTeer last night -- drinking beer, approving of socks, rolling in yarn, hanging out with CM and ALL THE HOT CHICKS!!  I can't wait to do it in 3-D.  Thanks you guys.  ; )

Where is the love?

Dsc09875_2 Dsc09870

Here's proof that before we ever heard of blogs, we took pictures of ridiculous things.  This picture is taped on the cabinet door above the washer -- a constant reminder of when love was new.  Do you see?  I'm polishing the Maytag emblem, just like the Maytag Man.  (I have bangs!  I haven't had bangs in years!)  Alison is being very helpful with the prep for the inaugural load, and you can read so much in Katie's face, can't you?  "My parents are nuts.  I can't believe he's taking a picture of this.  It's a stupid washing machine.  He really is taking a picture.  I should smile."

Dsc09871Look what I found in the garden room the other day!  There are  two and they're just gorgeous.  There's also an African violet blooming in there, as well as a pretty, pink, hanging geranium, and a Gebera daisy shot out a flower recently.  It's a happy room right now.  ; )  It's full of jade plants and other succulents, all waiting to get outside!!

I'd better go get dressed and make some elbow room around the washer for the repairman.  Fingers crossed that it'll be fixed today.  Otherwise, much of this day will have to be spent at a laundromat.  Ugh.  The only good thing is that it'll all get done at once and I can spend my waiting time either a) knitting or b) reading.

A few things

If I happen to win the Dyson vacuum, Kathryn, I'll let you borrow it since it was you who alerted me to sign up.  ; )  Heh, even my kids are aware of how much I'd like one of those.  There's still time to enter, but you'd better hurry!

Thank you.

You know, it pains me to host a pity party such as yesterday -- which was actually a little less pity and a lot more party than if I'd posted on Monday!  ; )  I don't think I do it too often, or take advantage, considering how often and how long I've been keeping this blog, and given the M.O. that's developed (and, really, what if I do?). I almost always have a little twinge of regret, though, and while I've never actually taken down a post, I have quickly posted something else as a "cover up."

How can I really be sorry, though?  I show you my cuts and bruises, you kiss them and make it better.  I know I'm not the only one with problems.  Every *hug* and "I hear ya" and bad appliance story helps me remember that I'm not alone, keeps me focused on the light at the end of the tunnel -- and maybe helps others, too.  By getting something out there, it makes it easier to remove myself and see the situation more objectively, to think more clearly.  It's not that I'm completely isolated here, but there are things that I find it easier to "talk" about by writing to the whole wide world rather than talking one-to-one.  There's too much baggage wrapped up in that.  I do sometimes regret the loss of anonymity here.

Meanwhile, just a few things...

>They don't build 'em -- or stand behind 'em -- like they used to, do they?  It seems that even major appliances are built to be disposable these days.  The one appliance that I wouldn't mind replacing -- the $400 monster microwave that takes up half the kitchen counter, a wedding present back in '85 -- refuses to die.  Naturally.

>I need to simplify my life.  This has a lot to do with organizing and the slow purge that's already underway, but there are some other things I continue to do that I really don't enjoy anymore, for whatever reason.  I keep doing them just because I always have.  I'm going to change that.  I'm giving notice.  (I still have the pay the bills, though, so this does not mean at work.)

>There are a couple of hammers -- or "other shoes" -- that I know are falling, but I've been keeping them aloft.  They're always looming, though, and I'm tired.  It's time to let 'em fall so I can move on and deal with the aftermath.

>I am feeling so much better.  There's more but I've run out of time.

I'll be looking for Harlot reports from Minnesota tomorrow.  ; )  I wish I could be there!  I'll be thinking of you guys tonight -- and I'll get there eventually.  (Ooh, that kind of sounds like a warning, doesn't it!?)

Monday, Monday...

...can't trust that day.  Before you know it, it turns into Tuesday!

I had a good weekend...

Dsc09851 Dsc09852

The antique show was nice on Saturday, but light.  There were fewer dealers with less merchandise, and attendance was down -- and getting old.  There weren't many young people -- not dealers, not customers.  There's been a huge shift in the antique market in the last several years -- who's buying, what they're buying, what they're even interested in -- one of those things that's hard to actually put your finger on and define.

Dsc09855I managed to find a few things, some of which I now regret spending money on, but whatever.  The doo-dad on the left is a marriage that's just begging for a divorce, but I loved the pansy piece and the whole thing was less than a dollar.  The Valentine postcard is just gorgeous and a very nice addition to my pansy postcard collection!

There were a couple of dealers with vintage pattern booklets for knitting, crochet and other needlework.  I found some of Marcella's -- that's my maternal grandmother's name -- and I just had to have one.  Mom said that when she was a kid, their mailbox would be full of leaflets like "Doilies" every month.  Marcella -- or Marstella (meaning "Mary of the stars" -- I love that, but she did not -- which is why she was known as Marcella) died when I was 8, so I didn't know her very well.  I definitely inherited her love for textiles and handwork, her rampant start-itis and it's companion problem with finishing, as well as the affliction with subscription addiction.

At home, the batik fabric for the top was washed and dried on Saturday, but has not yet been pressed.  (It'll be snowing here this afternoon, so there's really no rush to have a sleeveless tunic top.)  And with the joining of one shoulder during cast-off, I finished knitting the ABC Sweater.  I love that little sweater.  The other shoulder will be buttoned, so I shall soon get to dive into the button stash.  I'll be knitting out tonight, I think, and will either bring the sweater for sewing up, or work on the Latvian mitten thumbs.

I had a not-so-good weekend...

On Sunday, my (no-terms-of-endearment here) washing machine died.  Well, not exactly died -- I won't have to replace it -- but it does need major surgery.  It was full of soaking wet, heavy laundry and, after many attempts at resuscitation, it will not spin.  This is not totally unexpected, but I really thought I'd escaped, as it is a hard-earned 7- or 8-year-old Maytag Neptune -- a model with a long, documented history involving the words "class-action" -- action that I didn't get in on and yeah, well, too bad I missed out on that awesome settlement.  Pheh.

So, let's say the washer is a straw and I'm a camel.

Lots of straws have been piling up and I am down, down, down -- some of them are big and real (for real), and some of them are only looming large in my mind; quite a few of them are accompanied by a big "ka-ching" sound, some deafening.  It sucks.  Truth be told, I haven't really been "up" in a long time.  I keep trying -- there are little things, sometimes a glimmer, and I try to hold on -- but then I feel myself getting bogged down, dragged down, pushed down.  My confidence and optimism are smothered under all these damn straws.  If I wasn't still on a recent high from not smoking for two years, you can bet I'd be smoking right now.  That success is actually a little glimmer I've been successful at holding onto, but it's so-so-so-so-so hard sometimes.

I managed to get back on track and list a few items on ebay while, behind me, the washer began it's slow death.  If I continue the regular listings and get rid of some of the stuff, I'm hoping the straws will begin to fall.

I invite you to take a look at my current ebay auctions.  These particular things won't make much of a monetary dent, of course (I don't know if I have anything that really will), but it will make a little one -- and it's a start.  Little things grow.  This week, there are some oldie-but-goodie gardening magazines listed, including Fine Gardening (from 2001, 2002); some early issues of Garden Gate (including the Premier Issue); 8 issues of The Herb Companion from the early 1990s; and a couple of others in the mix.  Next week, I'll have some other stuff -- not sure exactly what yet, maybe some books... maybe something for Mother's Day... maybe some books that would be nice for Mother's Day.

As long as I'm in commercial mode, how about a little plug for hubby?  Artwork makes a nice Mother's Day gift, too.  Do you like the beach?  Does mum?  You can give her one.  Check out limited-edition and giclée prints at Oceans and Dreams, or some of the gift items at the Rusty's Beach shop.