Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I've been thinking about something I heard Florence Henderson say last week... It takes courage to be happy. Hmmm... I'd never thought about it in just that way. It takes courage to be happy. It's not like it's earth shattering really. I'd just never heard it put that way. So simply, so succinctly. I don't even feel like it's new information, but boy has it stuck with me. I think it's interesting that we think about courage in contrast to adversity, or certainly with adversity as a backdrop, but not so much with a positive backdrop. Maybe that's why this resonates with me.
So much of the media onslaught is geared toward fear that it takes discipline not to succumb to the dark side. Not to mention the negative people populating the world. And yes, yes, they may have some tragedy or drama playing out in their life, but who doesn't. It's easy to get pulled into a negative thought pattern, easy to complain, easy to point out problems. It takes strength, stamina, perseverance, and determination to be happy. And yes, courage! It takes courage to be happy. Dang! This is my new favorite phrase! This picture is of Jill, our tiny little bantam hen. She is the friendliest of all our chickens and lays the most adorable little eggs.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Life is a journey...

I was watching a documentary the other day and one of the people in it said 'Like everyone else in their forties, I began searching in earnest for why I'm here.' Okay, it's not an exact quote, but it is the essence of what was said. I found that pretty interesting as I've been on a search since somewhere in my mid 30's. Well actually I know when I started looking... it was the year my mother passed away. I have been on the right track and on several wrong tracks. I don't really believe they were 'wrong' so much as necessary steps to get me to what I most desire. I don't pretend to know everything... but this I know with certainty: Life is a journey and everyone's journey is personal and perfect. You don't have to do what anyone else does or you can do exactly what someone else does. The only thing that matters in your life journey is that you are always becoming more you. A better you. A happier you. A more successful you. Whatever it is, just be you. Be more you every single day. This photo is of Lamby Pie (hee hee). It's from last year, but without the camera I'm challenged with mining the photos already on the computer. But, the lack of photos from the past couple of months makes the blog so boring! Plus she's really cute!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Project Update

So, I was looking back at the posts and realized that I never finished documenting the projects I completed this year. Partly because I'm a nerd and don't always remember to take a picture before I give the gift away and partly because my amazing son is using the camera for school. I'm way over the 30 projects for the year (not even counting the multiples of items like the crochet angels or eyeglass cases. I also extended my creativity to try projects I've never tried before... Including, but not limited to, lotion from scratch (really interesting and fun - but boy is there a science to scent), fermented pickles (quite spicy thanks to a jalapeno or three, but not sour enough... hmmmm) and candles. It's been a fun year of projects and the studio is thankful that things are moving in and through it! Here is a list of other projects completed but not documented by camera: #26 Patchwork skirt, #27 Gray knit shirt, #28 Red, cream & black A-line skirt, #29 Beaded Earrings, #30 Pink Skirt. I'm happy to report that all of these were completed before our vacation in July as I took them with me. So, the 30 projects project was completed in July. Yeah.

Arm... last for a while

I went to the doctor yesterday and was given a 'You're doing really great' pat on the back. No more splint. Just continue PT and massage and begin weight training. So it's all good. I'm thrilled with the visit and the status of my arm. I'm relieved to be able to return to normal or at least begin creating a new normal. The arm is not 100% but it's only been 5 weeks since surgery and this was an intense fracture, so it's good. Really good. I'm relieved to be able to focus on other things and have the arm just be part of my life, not the focus! So, until and unless something major happens the blog will return to it's former 'non-arm' topics. Gee doesn't that sound good :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's a good day!

It's been a good day. Election day - the first for my son. Exciting. I love going to vote. I'm not sure why exactly. I'm not a strongly political person, in that I believe we all get to choose and it doesn't bother me one little bit that other people have differing opinions from mine. I am, however, adamant that every citizen is responsible for their community, state and nation and as citizens, we all need to vote. We are blessed to live in this country and voting is a way of showing gratitude for the blessing. My son, who is very civic minded, was pleased as punch to vote. What an amazing gift to be able to see life through the eyes of your children. We voted before work/school today, so the day started off well. We are enjoying a warm spell. Still a hint of fall in the wind, but warm and sunny. The sunshine makes the fall colored leaves glow. Work was great. Long, fun filled and great. My arm is definitely well along the way to being mended. It just feels significantly better with the addition of massage therapy. Yesterday took the dog to the groomer and now she looks like a lamb. I can't resist calling her Lamb-y Pie... hee hee. I love my husband. Not new, or startling, but it's good to remember how lovely it is to love another person. That I've known and loved him more than half my life... well that's just the icing on the cake. Yes. It's a good day!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life at my house

I'm pleased to say that normalcy is returning to my life. Do you hear the angels singing? They are! I'm typing, easily maneuvering my fingers around the keyboard, Capitalizing letters. My punctuation and spelling are back to my eclectic style. I enjoy a good !, where perhaps none is dictated, and I'm tickled to be able to put ! one wherever I want. In the last post I skipped those and capital letters because it was just too much effort. The arm is progressing. I definitely have some scar tissue, which is inhibiting my mobility. Arrgh. I started massage therapy and after just one brief session it feels really good. Can't wait to do it again. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with the progress. I go for a follow up this week and hope the doctor is pleased too. So, I've noticed a lot of grumpiness on the pages of my fb friends... It started me thinking about the fact that perhaps complaining about the people around you is missing the point. Let's suppose that the difficult, challenging, annoying people are a life lesson for you. If all you do is complain about them and place them in the 'wrong' category are you really learning anything? What if there is a deeper reason you're annoyed? While we're supposing... Suppose you are the difficult, challenging life lesson for someone else... Do you really want to be that?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

arm update

yes, it is the center of my attention these days. i'm just getting tired of it. hope to soon be writing about something else. this past week has been a series of highs and lows. highs definitely come from being able to complete a task i haven't since the accident, due to lack of mobility or strength. though i'm not to lift, push or pull with my right arm, i am supposed to use it and exercise it. being able to open the car doors with the key fob was a biggie. sounds silly, but it takes both strength and agility to get the thumb in the correct position and push the button. getting my arm behind my back, was another. being able to turn my hand to the appropriate angle to wash my hair. putting in my contacts. combing my own hair. but the biggest accomplishment of the week was going to the grocery store by myself. there are four major drawbacks to this broken arm - separate from the arm itself... one: it has seriously affected my stamina. two: i have difficulty maintaining thoughts and focusing. three: it has seriously affected my confidence. four: my emotions are heightened. so, i'm exhausted after showering and dressing, which takes almost twice as long as pre-break. it takes longer because i'm not left handed and the mobility of my right is not 100%. it also takes longer because often when i go in search of something in another room i can't remember why when i get there. i feel uncertain, unsteady and unsure everywhere outside the house and sometimes inside the house. and then just for fun i cry at the drop of a hat. i'm amazed by how much one little broken bone can affect an entire body. ohhhh... forgot to mention (or did i in a previous post) i've acquired a long lived fall cold, which is definitely affecting my stamina. not fair to lump all of that on the arm, i suppose. anyway the point being this has been a transition week i think. the bone portion of my arm rarely hurts. the muscles, tested by the physical therapy, aren't very happy, but what are you gonna do? the cold is easing somewhat and everyday there is some new level of mobility that returns. so anyway back to the grocery store... my favorite store is enormous and fully healthy it can wear you out to make it through the hour of walking/shopping, lifting, planning. since the accident i've either not done the shopping or gone with my husband or son. this week i went on my own. i forced myself to do it because i found myself feeling afraid, not just reluctant. i don't want this broken arm to become a negative defining moment in my life, so force myself i did. and it was good. other than lifting the dog food off the shelf into the cart, i managed to get all the goodies into the cart. the best part was i figured out how to successfully maneuver all the items from the cart into the back of the car. woo hoo. i wrapped my left arm around the 32 lb. bag of dog food like i was scooping up a toddler and transferred it to the car like i'd been doing it my whole life. it was a two hands in the air, grinning ear to ear, jumping in the air moment.

Friday, October 21, 2011

New found respect and insight

I've been learning a lot through this arm situation. Amazing how my temporary small problem has opened my eyes. Mind you, to me, most of this month this arm has not felt small. It's been all consuming at times. Anyway, now that I feel more secure in the recovery process I can see this with a little more perspective. My situation has definitely given me some insight into the strength and stamina of those who deal with physical ailments in a long term or permanent way. I don't claim full understanding, but wow... kudos to you - both patients and caregivers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

going back to work

I'm nervous. I have little stamina. The past two weeks have been a series of sleeping and waking round the clock. I've been trying to force myself to sleep during 'night' hours. But I rarely sleep longer than 2 hours, usually 1. Then I'm awake for a few minutes or a half hour. Last night set the alarm at 10:22, awake again 11:28, 12:40; 2:10; 4:05; 5:45, 6:40. Not very restful. I wake up tired. Yesterday I was up for 2 hours before needing a nap and today I'm going to work. So I'm a little nervous. Not scared because I work for an amazing lady, but nervous. Just needed to get that out of my system before heading to the shower. Thanks Universe for being my sounding board. Now let's get out there and have a good day!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Living in the light...

Part of my spiritual journey is to fully live in the light. What I mean by that is to live out of the shadow of fear. I believe there are only two emotions, love and fear. We call them a lot of other names, and we certainly feel them on a sliding scale, but still there are only two. Either you love or you fear. I've spent more than a little time in the shadows and I'm done with that. This situation I find myself in now, with the broken arm, is causing me to be more in the light. I've been up close and personal with fear these past two weeks and I know I cannot thrive when fear is dominant. How many of you know what your bliss is? I don't. I've never done anything that made me feel as though I were living my fullest, best life. Well perhaps that is too general a statement. I have done things that I know were wonderful, amazing or exactly right. However, I have never felt that I am doing everything I can or everything I want or everything I need to be the best possible me. That is fear talking. That is me filtering my life and accomplishments through what I think other people might think. Does that make sense? Really, I have a pretty great life. Husband I love, boys I love, a home, a job, friends and family, lots of interests, love of learning, willingness to grow... I mean how can you look at that and think, why aren't you more? Should my friends say something like that I would shake them by the shoulders for missing the amazingness of their lives. Someone shake me because I've sort of been missing the amazingness of my life. I let fear of things undone, incomplete, or less than some 'ideal' keep me from living in the light of my life.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Broken Arm

15 days ago I fell and broke my right arm. it has been a whirlwind of pain, doctors, surgery, pain and splints. Not to mention humiliation, shock, embarrassment, fear and worry. There has also been love, support, care, laughter, growth, and love. With surgery behind me I am on the physical therapy train to regain full mobility. its shocking how little movement I had in my wrist after just 12 days. Now the physical therapy is bringing a whole new kind of pain to the whirlwind. This post sounds quite negative and I suppose I feel down. its tough to maintain any kind of elation when your major accomplishment of the day is to unscrew the top of a diet coke bottle - which two days before I could not because I also lost the ability to grip with my right hand. But two days of PT and I am able to grip enough that the lid came off. Did I mention I'm right handed? Yep. between the pain, physical therapy, meds and general discomfort my sleep pattern is totally disrupted, which no doubt accounts for some of the negativity. I am working on it, but every action is slower, more awkward and quite often painful. My creative outlets are gone for now as my arm limits actions. Writing is incredibly painful with my right hand and so slow and illegible with my left as to be more frustrating than beneficial. I have the attention span of a gnat. All of which add up to a less than sunny attitude. Good news is that I've had quite a bit of time to contemplate my life and spiritual journey. Obviously the Universe was trying to get my attention. Well that worked. I am paying attention. I know that I have to get my mental state right before my physical state can ever be right. I realize I've been saying one thing but thinking the opposite. And I also realize that when you know better you do better. I am knowing better and therefore will be doing better. I am going to try knitting today which I think will work as the funky way I knit leaves my right hand fairly stationary. Believe it or not... I am grateful for this situation as it underscored what is important to me and to my happiness. I am also grateful for the growth, the reflection and the love.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The knitter's wrist...

Last year I developed this pain in my right wrist, along the top only. It's dull and achy with just the occasional sharp twinge. I spent an hour trying to reconfigure my workstation to improve the ergonomics because I figured it to be carpal tunnel-esque, but no improvement. I reduced the number of hours I spent at the computer, home and work. I took breaks every so often to stretch and exercise said wrist. I iced. I warmed. Still no lasting improvement. Quite frustrating, but I learned to live with it. Fast forward to this week. My wrist has started hurting again. I say again, because when I noticed it was hurting I realized it hadn't bothered me in months. Months. So that got me to wondering what's different right now than it was two weeks ago. Work is the same. I actually spend less time on the computer at home than ever before because of my smart phone. I discovered the pain I have isn't consistent with carpal tunnel at all. Hmmm... Now this is a puzzler. I can't think what the pain could be from. Did I sleep on it wrong? Pull it doing some yard work or... As my mind zipped along the possibilities, I picked up the knitting I've been working on (gift for a small sports fan) and voila... Pain intensified. I hadn't knitted much this summer, which is why the pain disappeared without my noticing. I've been knitting, pain free, for years, but last year we rearranged the furniture and I've been sitting in a chair with arms to knit, whereas before I sat on a couch, away from the arms to knit. Mystery solved. Little did I know that pain in the wrist is very common for knitters.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Some people like drama

Life is about choices and some people choose drama. I suppose they like the tension, the friction, the intensity. I don't really get it... I suppose I don't really want to get it, either. I had a lot of drama in my childhood and choose not to have it in my adulthood. I can see why people are attracted to it, much in the same way adrenaline junkies are drawn to extreme sports. I figured out quite some time ago that I don't need drama to have excitement. Life is exciting all on it's own.
The mountain is part of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina. I love the cloud enveloping the top of the mountain. Amazing

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Ever feel like your journey takes a detour? You know, zipping along - singing with the songs in your heart - enjoying the breeze - and suddenly, you don't know what makes you realize it, but you are not where you intended to be. Damn. How did that happen. Did I miss a turn? Was there a warning sign I didn't see?
Well, I'm there. I feel like I'm stuck in a roundabout, without an exit. I know how I got started, but I was on my way to the super highway and how I ever got stuck on this roundabout is a mystery. I believe I'm more than a little ticked. I made a choice to do something that turned into something I didn't expect, which happens. Sometimes it turns out great, sometimes it turns out yukky. I'm caught in the middle of something that is mostly yukky and I must figure out what to do about it. There are aspects of it that are not yukky and that is why I'm struggling so much. I've tried talking about it, to my best and closest, but all that did was make me even sicker of the roundabout. I've tried only saying positive things about the roundabout and pushing away every negative thought, but that was exhausting and ineffective. I've tried putting it a box, so to speak, on the days I'm not required to physically deal with the roundabout. But here's the thing... I'm not gifted at compartmentalizing and it's been going on so long that this ambivalence, this tug of war is beginning to infect the rest of my life. Now, I'm really ticked! So, it's time to get off this roundabout. Now. This minute. I refuse to give my power to the roundabout. I refuse to allow ambivalence to become my life. It's time to begin focusing on what I do want and if that means I lose the good aspects of the roundabout, then so be it. I'm a pretty incredible person. Don't think me conceited because I'm not. Conceited would be if I thought I was more incredible or the most incredible person, which I do not. I simply know my worth and I'm saying in this moment of realization I'm a pretty incredible person and there is just no sense in spending any more days on the roundabout without an exit.
If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, September 12, 2011

Birthday Boy

Today is my first baby's birthday. On this day, 22 years ago I was blessed with a son.
My life is richer, fuller, more colorful, more challenging, more loving... well more because he came into my life. I completely wanted a child - 100% wanted a baby. No doubts, no questions. I felt from the beginning he was a boy and vividly dreamed about him. The pregnancy became more difficult towards the end for me and the baby. I was scared, not just about our health, but about becoming a mother (thanks in part to the oh so helpful brigade of people who just love sharing pregnancy, birth and motherhood stories). One day in September, he arrived, three weeks before his due date. When we first made eye contact I sighed from my very toes it seemed, then cried and laughed at the same time. I knew it was going to be okay. You see, I recognized this sweet, amazing little bundle of wonder from my dreams. And though stress and fear had kept me from dreaming of him at the end, we'd met many times in the earlier parts of my pregnancy. We were old friends and everything is possible with an old friend. Happy, Happy Birthday!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday, Monday!

Greetings world. It is Monday. We are all back to school and work. I dreaded it, to be honest (see previous post about first day of school.) It's a year of big changes and though I look forward to the surprises and blessing that will come, I was dragging my feet a little.

Part of that is college begins and it means I won't see my oldest for weeks. I gotta tell you, even though it's the fourth time we've sent him off to school and it still stinks. A LOT. Do I want him not to go? No. Do I want to hold him back? No. Do I want to see his face every day? Yes. I can't help it... I love the morning routine of sending off, hugs and kisses, lunches made, chatting, "Have an amazing day!" as they head out the door. And though I do it... texting just doesn't cut it.

Every year it's an adjustment and I'm working on it. I know a woman who didn't miss a beat when her oldest went to college. She said "I have 3 others at home." I know another who went to bed for a week and didn't come out, though she had 4 others at home. I fall somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum.

Today, I feel good. We are all where we are supposed to be and I feel good knowing that. While I'd prefer to look at college guy every day, I do not want that at his expense. I am happier knowing he is happy.

So Happy Monday, one and all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Day of School

Today is my last First Day of school as my youngest is a senior this year. While he will go to college next year, move-in day is not the same. This is an end of an era and it's a little bittersweet.

I don't, not even a little, wish to hold back time or return to a different time. Which is not to say that I don't fondly remember chubby arms, sticky kisses and dandelion bouquets. What I'm saying is I love my life and am so thrilled with the children I am blessed with and who they have become that I eagerly look forward to who they are becoming too much to wish for times gone by.

The little routines of the first day of school though... Pictures on the porch, seeing their excitment, soothing jangled nerves, packing lunches, new clothes, school supplies... I love it all.

I started writing this yesterday waiting for the senior to return home, but then the news of the day and activities of the evening pushed this post aside. Yeah! Great first day. It's wonderful to see the excitement, feel the anticipation and share the challenges. Have I mentioned that I love my life ~ imperfect, crazy, messy, happy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Project #25 Shirt

This shirt, which has become my summer favorite, was made from a shower curtain. Seriously. At my local thrift shop, I discovered this shower curtain, made from the softest, sheerest cotton with sequins and beads sewn along one row of paisleys. I knew it would make a great shirt. I was originally thinking about a long sleeve tunic, but the curtain had two seams which made pattern placement tricky. Because the fabric hadn't been washed before becoming the shower curtain, the seams were a little wonky and I just didn't want them in the finished shirt. So sleeves were out. Instead, this tunic/shell was born and lucky it was, too, as we had the hottest July I can remember and I didn't wear a single shirt with sleeves the entire month ;-)

This little project, completed in about an hour, combines two of my very favorite things... handmade and re-purposed. I have a table cloth with a stain that is destined to become a nightgown... Stay tuned!

Project #24 Dress

Well, it's been so long since I updated this blog that I don't remember the exact timing of the finished projects... But that's not important is it? This little dress is from a McCall's pattern for a sweet girl who turned 1 in May. I used snaps in the back instead of buttons and love the way they turned out. I thought it looked a little plain, so added rick rack and some decorative stitching (which did not turn out perfect, but...) The red and white stripes are perfect for a summer frock and the rick rack -well rick rack is fun, isn't it. I used the blind hem to hem the dress. As I've said before, the blind hem though tricky, makes a finished garment look fantastic. It also improves the way the garment hangs. If you've never tried it or been frustrated by it, it's worth the time and effort. Practice, trying out the textbook instructions, then tweaking it until it's your own. Once you've successfully done it, you will understand my love for it!

Summer garden

Well, I've thoroughly enjoyed this summer. Now we are beginning to think about fall and school and blogs...

When we first moved into this house, I had a very large garden for a couple of years. But as the boys got older, more involved in activities, I preferred to be at those activities, rather than tend a garden. The biggest time culprit in a large garden is the harvest. Trying to preserve the bounty is a job that cannot wait for games or concerts or camp outs and at the time, I made a different choice. Within a year, my husband poured concrete on the unused garden space. Harsh, not really, we have boys, active, fun loving boys and this new concrete surface was suitable for basketball, four square, lacrosse, tennis, badminton, you name it. It's been a perfect spot for the boys and their friends to grow.

This year both hubby and I had the itch to go bigger than our raised beds will allow. Since the old space wasn't possible, we began anew. As anyone who's tried to turn grass into garden, this was quite a challenge. But we did, fairly successfully. We made trellis tee pees out of curly willow. I saw similar tee pees on a PBS Victory Garden tour, made with a straight branches. But, I had curly willows that needed a good trimming and I love being able to repurpose. We made 3 and they are architectural, functional and beautiful. The most amazing thing is that some of the branches, which we cut with regular tree trimmer thingies, actually started to grow. They must have rooted in the ground and now are covered with new growth.

We started seeds indoors this year, but somehow in the transfer to outside, the pots were mixed up and I ended up with cucumbers on every trellis and no zucchini anywhere. We bought some unique seeds this year, including a Lemon Cucumber, which is named so for the color and shape of it rather than the taste. I don't think I'll plant 'english' cucumbers again as they were disappointing. We've had such an abundance of cucumber that all our neighbors are in supply too.

I am currently fermenting pickles in a crock. Fingers crossed for delicious sour pickles!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

True Chicken Story

This will sound like a tall tale, but cross my heart...

I have some Asiatic Lilies growing just outside the back door. For whatever reason, this summer the chickens have decided the dirt around these lilies is THE ONLY DIRT they can take their dirt baths. Dirt baths? Yes, dirt baths. They instinctively do it to keep pests at bay. They scratch the dirt loose, then get down in it, rolling and flexing their feathers and using their wings to get the dirt to the skin. Then, when sufficiently dirty, they stand up, walk a few feet or several feet, shake, sending some of THE DIRT flying, carrying the rest of THE DIRT away. The problem is the lilies now have exposed roots or so barely covered as to be exposed. Oh, I forgot to mention that these are among the most beautiful flowers in saturated red, orange and yellow. Really stunning.

Though I've tried encouraging them elsewhere, or chasing them off, still they persist. I mean the yard is huge and there is an enormous hosta garden that they could go to town in, but noooooo... Only the lily dirt will do. One particularly frustrating day, after chasing them out several times, my husband suggested putting rocks around the base of the lilies, so off to the rock pile I went while he replenished the dirt with some from the field.

So an hour later, the lilies are protected by rocks around the perimeter and there is plenty of dirt so they will flourish. But aggravated with the chickens still, as they'd created a dent in my day I hadn't planned on, I'm walking back from the veggie garden with the daily harvest, when I notice them helping themselves to the raspberries.

I say "Listen, who told you you could have raspberries?" No reply, though they do stop to look at me. "LB (which is the name of the ringleader), you are already on my list today, you really want to eat the berries, too." At which she looks me right in the eye, leans over, snatches another berry, then looks me in the eye again.

I swear. As if she understood every word I'd said. Like any 2 year old worth their salt, doing exactly what they've been told not to. It was so comical that I burst out laughing. Anyway, the point to this story for me is not to take myself, my lilies or my plans too seriously.

in the picture, taken earlier this spring, you can see the chickens getting down in the dirt for a bath, LB is the orange chicken whose head is partially hidden from view, closest to the sprouting tulips.

Birthday Blessings

Yesterday was my birthday and it was just about as perfect a day as I've ever had. I thanked everyone involved in the actual day, but it was so great that I feel more thankful than I've expressed, so I want to thank everyone. Whether you know me or not, whether you played any part in how my day progressed, matters not. Just thanks to everyone on the planet.

my new shoes... a present to myself ;)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just being Grateful

So this is a near perfect day. Breezy, intermittently sunny, couple of sprinkles, but all in all a near perfect day. I've been out in a garden, trying to reclaim from weeds and even through all the hard work that it is, I just keep feeling gratitude. To be able to do what I'm doing. To be able to choose it, to be able to enjoy it, to be able to find satisfaction in it.

Recently I did something for someone and the first response was "You didn't have to do that." And that caused me to smile because that's when the doing is the most fun. When you don't have to, but get to.

The following poem was written by William Earnest Henley. There are lots of interpretations and many who feel the poet was agnostic and so discount it, but for me the preferences of the writer do not determine how I feel or what the poem means to me. The same is true for me about everything. No one else believes exactly as I do, so I don't accept or reject anything based on what the creator does or doesn't believe.

I see God in everything. Even a poem written by one who might not.

My favorite line... "Finds and shall find me unafraid" So much in the world is about fear... insurance, hatred, burglar alarms, prejudice, safety latches, bigotry, rainy day funds, contingency plans...

I love this poem for it's outright rejection of a life lived in fear. He is determined but more than that, he is hopeful. As am I.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Project # 23 New Skirt

I finished a skirt today that I drafted to my size and the tweaks that make me happiest. It has a zipper, slash pockets and a blind hem.

For anyone who hasn't tried or figured out the blind hem, I really really really recommend you do and keep at. It makes your skirt, dress or blouse (yes you can blind hem a blouse) lay so well. It takes a little more time, but the effort is so worth it. Not only do you end up with a skirt that hangs beautifully, the blind hem process allows you to ease in any extra fullness easily and beautifully.

In the picture I'm attempting to show both the slash pocket and the blind hem. For whatever reason, today I just couldn't get a clearer pic and so this one is it. The fabric is a bargain that has been in my studio for quite some time. It is a really warm brown, like lovely milk chocolate and will go with anything. There is the tiniest bit of spandex in it, which helps keep shape. I hemmed it to mid knee and put it on as soon as it was finished and may very well wear it for the next week.

Okay not really, but I do like it well enough that I am in process of making a second skirt today. It's a very simple modified A line pattern. Nearly every learn to sew book contains instructions for making your own skirt pattern. I modified it in two ways, the first, I narrow the waist slightly and removed the darts as they never quite laid right on my figure. The second alteration was to make the width of the skirt a little narrower and less A line. Not a pencil certainly, but not a true A line. All I can tell you is to try and error your way to the correct pattern.

Now that I've achieved a pattern worth making more than once, I can begin customizing each skirt to make them unique. To this skirt I added slash pockets, which are a very simple to do, but look confusing. There are some tutorials on the web. No need to buy a pattern.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to each of you who love your children.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My goodness it's...

Been a while. Spring and all the chores that come along with it are so enticing that I just don't seem to be drawn to this blog very much. Hmmm...

I just realized that I don't feel bad about that either. Isn't that interesting. Good and interesting. I used to feel guilty about things done and not done, but I've been spending some quality time with myself to release the negative-ness of guilt. It isn't beneficial to anyone and is quite detrimental to me. I guess I've been fairly successful at it. I like that.

We celebrated our 23rd anniversary. It's quite something and thank God I still love my hubby. Yes, he's annoying and he's a man, but more importantly he's my favorite person in the world.

We've begun a big project, adding onto our garage, which is taking quite a bit of time. It's coming along nicely though.

We've added a new garden to go along with our raised beds. The garden is enormous and I've only managed to fill it part way, but it's all good. We knew the size was too big for this year, but for next it will be awesome!

Our chickens scratched off or ate our tomato seedlings, so we had to make a trip to the nursery to buy replacements. Darn Chickens!

We inherited lots of strawberry plants, which we were able to move one rainy day in early May and they did not miss a beat and now we are enjoying fresh strawberries. My handy husband built a raccoon and chicken proof top that keeps the berries safe. What is also nice is it will keep them contained.

Oh and I've finally joined the ranks of the smart phoners. I love it! It's the most fun and best thing I've purchased in quite some time. Besides the apps, gadgets and whatnot, it makes it easier and more effective to keep in touch. I'm usually the last to join in on the new technology because while I might enjoy it, I don't always value it at the price set by the store/industry. But this phone is worth every penny.

I've managed to fit in a couple of really great sewing projects, which I'll be posting shortly. Gotta take some pictures first.

So it's been a while... but that's okay. It's an exciting time of life. I genuinely love May.

This rose is from a climbing bush. It's starting to bloom now and will continue to bloom through most of the summer. One of my favorites.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Trouble Publishing...

Well, I was trying to publish a post for the last couple of days to no avail. We've recently replaced our PC and I added it to the list of things that weren't working since the switch. There were more important things to be corrected, but today I began researching and lo and behold I'm not the only one. If you've upgraded to Internet Explorer 9, chances are good you won't be able to publish either.

So, I switched to Google Chrome and all is well.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hope on this rainy Monday

I knew it when I typed it. I should have re-thought it then, but I pressed on anyway. I knew when I started "Hope-Filled Mondays" that it was going to be problematic. Not because I would have trouble coming up with topics or anything...

Okay, here's the thing: I don't like repetitive deadline commitments. I don't like saying that because others tend to think I'm saying something about them, when in fact I'm only talking about myself.

Let me clarify, I'm not a commitment-phobe. I'm married, for more than two decades; I'm a mother and for those of you who also are you know what a commitment that is; I'm gainfully employed. So it's not the commitment, it's the deadline that comes again and again. I suppose I am a free spirit and feel much happier when I can do as the spirit moves me. Does this make sense to any of you? I know I'm not the only one. Some people thrive on deadlines and commitments, joining groups, attending meetings, living by scheduled activities. I am profoundly grateful for each and every one of you, because I simply cannot. The big three, as I like to call them, spouse, childen, job are about all the deadlines I can manage without suffocating. I like to wake up and feel like digging in the mud and do it. Or to whip out some fabric or yarn and create something. I like the freedom and the challenge of an unscheduled life.

So, knowing this about myself, why on earth would I think to start a weekly entry? Well, I had an idea about using this blog as a test for future work. But, as I only made it two weeks in a row, then took three weeks to follow up... It speaks for itself.

I can say I've learned some important truths: I do not like the pressure of 'having to'. For me, it sucks the fun out of what I have otherwise enjoyed.

Another important thing I learned is that I really don't like limiting myself to one topic. I found as I was sitting down to write the third blog I felt very resistant to the topic and would start something else, or veer off to something else mid paragraph.

Like the gifts I make, I've learned I like to allow my creative thoughts to develop along the way. As I've said before, I am not a brand. What I create is as unique and varied as the people I give to and the same is true of my writing. I could never be happy producing one thing or designing within a strict framework, which is not to say I detest, dislike or in any way devalue those who do.

The opposite is in fact true. I am very thankful that Levi's are as dependable as the sun and no matter who's wearing them or where you might be, you know them when you see them. I could go on and on, naming brand after brand that I know and trust, often turning to them for my creative pursuits. I think it's amazing to see quilts, photographs, paintings,etc., and be able to know, without a doubt, it's this artist or that. And while I value and admire this in others, I simply cannot emulate it and be happy.

I don't like promising and not delivering, which is why it's taken three weeks to publish this apology/explanation.

So, what does this mean going forward? While the entries will not be regular, living a hope filled life is integral to who I am and they will continue. I believe the world needs us all. If we were all alike, we would drive each other mad or bore each other to death. Variety is life. The older I get, the more I realize that only by being grateful for the amazing and diverse variety in people, places, and things, can we be truly free to be who we want to be. I think there is great hope in recognizing the value of others.

I hope this Monday finds you hopeful!

PS - no picture with this post as we have a new tower and I've yet to figure out how to successfully network Vista with Windows 7.

Monday, April 4, 2011

God dwells within you, as you.

Though not the original source of this thought, the quote has gained some renown from the book and movie Eat Pray Love.

I find this simple sentence as hopeful as any I've ever heard. Simple, yet terribly complex. The idea of God is, I think, beyond complete comprehension. The sheer number of books, movies, documentaries, theologians, spiritualists, religions, etc., attest to this as well.

If God were simple, then we'd all have the same beliefs, wouldn't we?

God dwells within you, as you. What a relief that is. I no longer have to try to be someone else, to emulate someone else's journey. Nor do I need to apologize for being more or less that someone else. I still firmly believe that God wants us to be the best we can be, to contribute to the world, to treat each other with respect and to treat ourselves with respect. I just no longer think there is only one way, one path to achieve our best.

The definition of what is best is as unique and varying as the people who contemplate it. I also think that what is right for you now may or may not be right for you a decade later. As we change and grow and see what this wide world has to offer, our desires, hopes, and dreams change. Some things may remain the same for a lifetime, while others differ day to day. I feel as though there are no wrong choices, there are only choices, each with varying degrees of 'rightness'.

What I do know, with certainty is that you and I know when the choice is not right for us; we feel it, we hear the proverbial 'little voice'. Sometimes, that voice is so faint we mistake it for something else, but I believe that voice is God. So, God dwelling within us, guides us to the choices that are right-est for us at the moment we have a decision to make.

If we were talking about shirts, nearly everyone would be able to relate and to agree with this idea. No shirt is right for every single person. What if you don't like pink and pink is my absolute favorite color? Yes! We all get that.

But the minute we begin discussing God, religion, belief, spirituality... well, let's just say that it's more difficult to find consensus. Luckily, I'm not interested in finding consensus. I've discovered the joy in letting each person be who they need to be.

I believe that God is dwelling within me, as me. I also believe that God is dwelling with you, as you. Seeing God in those around me doesn't stop them from shocking, irritating or disgusting me - I am human after all. The person who cut me off, or the one who tells me way too much information, or the one who is insulting on purpose, when I look for God in them it allows me to imagine what might lead a person to make the choices they make. It allows me to more easily release my negative reactions. Understanding is forgiveness.

Anyone who read the post of a few days ago "Making a Pearl" might think I haven't been seeing God in everyone. What can I say? I'm humanly imperfect, but since God chose to dwell in me, there must be a reason and so I keep working on it. These internal conflicts are part of the paradox that is humanity and is what makes us so very interesting.

I hope this Monday finds you hopeful.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy Sunday!

Though the cool temps and dustings of snow might try to mask it, Spring is arriving. I feel it in the longer days, I see it in the strength of the sunshine, the green grass, the sturdy and determined daffodils. The last two winters I've really felt the length and depth of winter more. Don't really know why. Despite the disappointment of Puxatawny Phil and his false projections and despite the occassional snow I feel Spring's welcome arriving and I'm excited!

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven--
All's right with the world!
Robert Browning

Monday, March 28, 2011

The beginning of Hope Filled Mondays

Mondays get a bad rap. The weekend is over, back to work, back to school. As if Monday is an ending to something, when actually Mondays are a beginning. The beginning of the week, sort of a fresh sheet of paper with which to begin writing this week of your life.

I like beginnings - full of hope and promise and excitement. So I'm beginning something new on the beginning of the week, on my fresh sheet.

Hope Filled Mondays! I plan to post each Monday with something that gives me hope. I chose the title Hope Filled because it says how I strive to live my life and how I want this blog to evolve.

I think it's appropriate to begin with a definition of hope, from "The American Heritage Dictionary" published by Houghton Mifflin. I love this dictionary, which seems to weigh 10 pounds, because it gives the fullest definitions and includes famous persons and lots of pictures. I also love the speckled pages.

Anyway, the definition:

Hope is both a verb and a noun and interestingly most of the definitions refer to expectation and/or confidence in the outcome. "To wish for something with expectation of fulfillment." "To look forward to with confidence or expectation."

This is how I feel about hope. Confident and Expectant. Hope is a prayer. Hope is an asking for something and expecting the answer to be yes.

So today is the beginning of our Hope Filled Mondays and I encourage myself and you to look forward with confidence and expectation. Also, take a good look around and see the fulfillment of yesterday's hopes.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Make a Pearl

The most extraordinary thing about the oyster is this... Irritations get into the shell and when he cannot get rid of them he uses the irritations to do the loveliest thing an oyster ever has the chance to do. If there are irritations in our lives today there is only one prescription: make a pearl. And it takes faith and love to do it. -- Harry Emerson Fosdick

I'm on my soapbox for the next few minutes...

I've been a little aggravated off and on with the media coverage of celebrities acting a fool. First of all, let me say that I think the amount of attention paid to celebrities is ridiculous. Based on the amount of magazines, television shows, and other media coverage one might think I'm in the minority, but I don't think so. Second, let me say that I'm very well aware that not every celebrity acts a fool.

Actors, musicians, artists all contribute to the world - no argument from me. I like movies; I love music; there are TV shows that I never miss; I've been to my share of basketball, baseball, soccer, football and hockey games. I just don't believe that because someone can 'slam dunk' or once sang a song that meant something to me that they are some type of guru or should be adored. I don't think the ability to act makes you an authority on the clothing I should buy or the thoughts I should think or the food I should eat or the charities I should support. I also don't believe that the mere accomplishment of being famous should excuse or forgive behavior.

But, deeper than my aggravation with the relentless media coverage of celebrities is the sadness I feel over the fact that we are paying for their tantrums, crime sprees and lunatic behavior. By watching their shows, seeing their movies, attending their games or concerts, we are paying them.

And my goodness what they are being paid! I realize that 'celebrity' is big business and that their wages in turn pay for all the others who create/keep the 'celebrity' going, but the fact is that the exorbitant salaries paid contribute to such an expensive final product that attending is becoming cost prohibitive.

It makes me sad and just a little crazy that ticket prices have reached a place where people can no longer afford to go to movie theaters, sporting events, live theater, and/or concerts. It makes me sadder and crazier when I think about the quality of entertainment, the behavior, the drugs, the influence on our young people. Aack!

I think it might be time for a shift in our perspective, fellow consumers. What if we sent a message to the entertainment world that we want better from them? What if we had the power to influence not only the ticket prices, but what kinds of entertainment we are getting?

Well my friends we do have that power. We do and we've had it all along. It's in our wallets and our decisions about how we spend our hard earned dollars. It's supply and demand :)

By being selective about what we buy we can send a very strong message. By refusing to buy the expensive, often negative 'supply' they are currently offering, we will change demand and therefore they must change supply. We can say "No Thank You!" to the tantrums. "No Thank You!" to the scary destructive behavior. "No Thank You!" to the lackluster or half hearted quality.

And so, rather than be aggravated, sad or crazy, I will be making a pearl and following my spirit. Join me won't you?

off my soapbox now-thanks for listening.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Project #22 Purse Accessories

Yes, I've gone a little crazy. But, these accessories are so quick and simple to create that it's crazy not to ;)

Tissue cover: I used the hem of the shirt sleeve to create the 'ribbon' accent.

Eyeglass case: This is the shirt sleeve, minus the hem.

Checkbook cover: I used a small piece left from the sleeve, which happened to be on the bias to make the ribbon accent.

I am seriously amazed at how much I've created from less than half a shirt. I still have the entire back of the shirt, part of the right front and one sleeve. Shoot, I can probably make a new shirt from all of that!

If you want to make purse accessories, you can search the web for tutorials or you can just jump in with both feet. These don't require a lot of material, so if you goof, try again. I love fooling around with these kinds of projects. Useful, simple, fun.

We are enjoying our fourth day of sunshine. In a row. This is something to celebrate after the intense winter. May you also be experiencing something to celebrate!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project #21 Shirt Purse

Okay, before you say anything... I love this purse. I realize that a shirt purse is not everyone's cup of tea, but using the details from the clothing makes the purse interesting. Plus, it's quirky in a way that appeals to my sense of humor.

The other day my favorite hubby was cleaning out the closet of items not worn and this terrific shirt made it into the pile. He started to explain to me why he wasn't keeping it, but I said "No worries, I'll use it in my studio." The minute he said it was to go, I saw a purse! I have always loved red, white and blue and something about this shirt just screamed purse.

So, I've been looking at and thinking about that shirt for a few days... Pondering how to cut, what to keep, etc. I wanted the button placket for sure and I thought a pocket would be cool, but I didn't want both pockets. So yesterday I decided to cut... From just beside one pocket across the placket, including the pocket on the other side all the way to the sleeve, which was the most I could get from the front without using the other pocket. It looked cool, but it just wasn't quite enough.

So, this morning I thought "I'm adding some denim". I mean what goes better with a comfy shirt than an old pair of jeans? These were my oldest son's and were a 'carpenter' style. They have this long skinny pocket on the back and with a few modifications, it's perfect for my cell phone! I lined it with a scrap from the shirt and then tacked the corner down so the plaid shows through.

Once I added the denim to the shirt it was a perfect size. I boxed the corners and made tabs and handles from pieces of the shirt and jeans. The lining is a solid red and I used polyester felt between the layers to add body and softness. It's a shame the handles don't show more as they are fun. Denim on top, with shirt plaid on the inside.

This has been a great day and I have a fabulous new purse!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Project #20 Cowboy Drawstring Bag

In the spirit of "Celebrate the Boy" which is a great idea from this blog, here is one of my favorite gift ideas for kids. A drawstring bag, or sack pack or gym sack. There are a myriad of names, but no matter what you call it, it's useful and fun. Everybody needs a place to keep their stuff! And if you can carry it and keep your hands free, even better!

I like to line these bags. They are sturdier and it gives the grommets four layers to grab onto. This one is lined with muslin and the applique star is made from a faux suede.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Project #19 Short Row Scarf

Isn't this a cool scarf? Also from my favorite source Lion Brand Yarn. It's called a Short Row Scarf and as I've never made anything with short rows, it was really quite fun for the first half of the scarf ;)

Joking! It is a long project, but worth it as it looks very elegant. I've included the LBY photo as it shows how the scarf looks on. Some reviewers on the LBY site complained about the 'holes' left when making the short rows, but I have to say I think it makes the scarf way more interesting! I used a super soft bright yellow and am quite pleased with the result.

I am also pleased to report that I've finally mastered figuring the gauge. I know, I know, it's not rocket science, but for whatever reason I've struggled with finding the gauge knitting. This scarf is made to the patterns specifications :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Project #18 Daisy Vest

Have you ever seen "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" with Doris Day and David Niven? Well it's a good one and when I saw this fleece in the remnant bin, I could hear the Amazing Ms. Day singing the title song.

The blue is very vivid and the gingham centers... well, I love it.

Today has been a really interesting day. Through my local public library I have access to online 'courses' that cover a wide range of topics, from learning basic computer skills to learning a new software program to taking placement tests or practicing for entrance testing. It's pretty incredible. In the comfort of my own home, I've spent the afternoon learning skills that will improve my life at work. It's a go at your own pace and you can pause or repeat the information as much as necessary. It's pretty amazing.

I believe that public libraries, public education, free radio, free television and now the Internet, which are all ways of freely disseminating information and knowledge, hugely contribute to to the very fact that it is possible for each of us to voice opinions in opposition of our neighbors, our employers, our government. Knowledge is power after all. When I see the tragic battle that other countries go through to be free, to be heard, to be valued... at the same time I am saying a prayer for them, I am saying one of gratitude for this perfectly imperfect country and my blessed life here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Project #17 More Scarves

Okay, I'm a little scarf happy. I'm really enjoying using all the crazy yarns I've collected.

These two scarves are knit every row with large needles, 15's I think. The reason is that the yarns are so busy that intricate patterns are lost and the yarn doesn't look as good. But these big knit stitches allow the yarn to shine. Plus, the knit fabric created is super drapable, soft and flowing.

I apoligize for the top picture. I tried everything I could think of to get this yarn to look as good in the picture as it does in real life. No luck. The yarn is Lazy Daisy, by Moda Dea, and I think it may be discontinued. It's possible to still find it around though. The yarn is fairly thin with big daisies every few inches. Using the large needles creates a very webby scarf that looks beautiful with my black wool coat. This is a wide long scarf, suitable for tossing over one shoulder with attitude :).

The other scarf is made from a yarn called Twister, by Patons. It's two different yarns, twisted together... get it? Twister - twisted. hee hee. Anyway, very interesting yarn, easy to use and the end result is very textural, soft and drapey. This scarf is wide but not as long so it will easily tuck into the neck of your coat.

Project #16 Eye Pillows

Eye pillows! In a previous post I described how to make these wonders and I highly recommend that you do. I've been giving these as gifts and they've been a big hit. So these three are to replenish my stash! I believe everyone can use a little pampering.

Those who wish to sing will always find a song. ~Swedish proverb

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Project #15 Wristlets

Yes, yes, yes. Another purse project. I love them. They are fun to make and can be as wild or as subtle as your mood strikes you.

This is my first foray into wristlets. I just started with some cotton thread and improvised until I felt they were finished. I made the pink one first, but in the end thought it looked pretty old lady-y (this is primarily due to the color combination I think). Despite the fact that my children think I'm an old lady, I do not want my wristlet to say as much.

Besides, I wanted to try slightly larger dimensions and I wanted more of the fabric to show above the crochet. So, out came the green thread and voila! I'm pretty happy with the finished project. I added the besds to one side so when I'm carrying it, the beads will show and a little bead dangle for the zipper pull.

One thing I do like about the pink is the spiderweb embroidery flowers. They really are very cool and I will be using them again on a future project.

I used the green one yesterday while running errands. Very nice. I left my bigger purse containing all the things I think I might need, but actually only use a few times a year, in the car. I slipped on my green beauty and off I went. It's very convenient... when you need two hands, it politely swings around your wrist and it's perfect to hold my ID/card carrying thingy, some cash and my lip stuff. I believe I might be easily addicted.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Visiting other Blogs

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating... I am blown away by the generous, loving spirit that is evident by just touring around the various blogs on this site. Not to mention YouTube and other sites. If there is anything you want to learn, by golly a few minutes with a search engine will get you going.

I've spent the morning, separate from a dental appointment and a trip to the other side of the county for nothing :-\ (but that is a story for another time), perusing blogs. There are several I've chosen to follow, which I always check up on, but today I decided to let my fancy go where it may by following links or searching phrases.

My goodness was that fun! I discovered a couple of blogs that may become regulars for me. I've learned a lot! And compiled a whole list of things I want to try! It's really fun and interesting to see not only the differences in the look of the blogs, but also the postings. Even though several I visited were sewing/crafting in nature, the projects and posts were so different. Entertaining, interesting, informative, visually stimulating, creatively stimulating, comforting... Amazing!


in the picture is Clink, who came to us a stray, bedraggled, half starved kitten. all black, save for a few white hairs on her chest, she believes she is in charge. she embodies the quote "Dogs have owners. Cats have staff." she often causes raised voices because she is forever laying under feet or on the darkest part of the rug. however, quirky aggravating behavior aside, she is loved and so belongs in a post.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Project #14 Scarves

Couple of guy birthdays coming soon and I found this scarf at Lion Brand Yarn. I'm including the LBYarn photo as no matter how many ways I tried, I could not photograph these scarves and do justice to the pattern.

It's a fun knit and I used two strands held together. The pattern creates this deep, wide ribbing effect that feels great and looks manly! The one on the right is wool-ease variegated. The other is one strand black, one strand camouflage.

I am a relatively new knitter and am in awe when something I knit looks just like the picture. Okay, you'll just have to take my word for it - they do look like the picture!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Project #13 Shoulder Warmer

Using the Half Moon Shawl Pattern from Lion Brand Yarn and LBY Suede, which has been discontinued I think, I made this. I only had 3 skeins, so it became a capelet or as I like to call it... A Shoulder Warmer.

I love this pattern! I've used it before to make shawls for a prayer shawl ministry. It is easy and the finished project is flirty and feminine, but the best part about it is that you can adapt it to any length you want and it looks beautiful. Second best... use whatever yarn you want! Thin yarn: add more rows, thick: fewer rows.

I only had three skeins of yarn to work with and I didn't know how much of a shawl I would end up with... It would have been easy to say I won't even try. But try I did and glad I am. (are you picturing yoda, too?)

Take the first step in faith You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Project #12 Puffy Heart Pins

Recognize this heart? This is just one of the many ways the heart pattern, from this entry can be used. These sweet little pins were gifts for friends on Valentine's Day, and were made with #10 crochet thread.

Notice the bright glare on the upper right corner? Believe it or not, it's sunshine. Actual bright sunshine making a glare on the picture. I simply could not take another to fix that problem as there will be days before Spring truly arrives that seeing the promise of the sunshine to come will be oh so good.

Forgotten Pictures and Perspective

Arrrghhh. I've forgotten to take pictures of gifts given away recently. Which, as I'm on this 30 projects challenge I find even more frustrating than usual.

That being said, I'm letting the frustration go. How amazing is it to be able to make gifts for people, which brings happiness to both giver and receiver? How great is it to be so caught up in the giving of the gift that you forget about documenting it? I have an amazing life and being frustrated about this is just plain silly.

I have a friend with a young son. She said a few days ago that her son was very put out that his favorite after school snack was not in the house. Very put out. She felt he was ungrateful for all that he has and was put out herself. But as I listened to her story, all I thought was both she and her son are very, very blessed. How wonderful is the life of her son when the absence of a favorite snack is the worst thing that happened to him? How blessed are they that this little boy does not have hunger or violence or some other darkness to measure his daily routine against.

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. Groucho Marx

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Project #11 Angels

I love this pattern, called Robbie's Angel. I've made it dozens of times over the years. I fiddle with the pattern a little, as you will see if you compare my angels to the original. Mostly I fiddle to make the angels individual, so siblings aren't receiving the same angel. I also prefer to use Luster Sheen or it's equivelent weight. Because I use the larger thread, I eliminate one round on the granny square as it looks right to me, which is the beauty of creating your own art isn't it?

This closeup is to show the more masculine and the more feminine angels. I thought the un-ruffled edging, on the blue angel, would seem less girly... What do you think? I may add some ribbon bows at the neck, I'm undecided. It's another way I mix up the look of the angels. Perhaps a bow tie for the boy angels...

The angels will be Christmas 2011 gifts. I'm pretty impressed with myself. Think what you will. It's another bonus of this 30 projects challenge... By the way, my husband said the other day "I thought you were done. I've seen much more than 30 items come out of the room (my studio)." Which was really interesting. I've been counting projects, as in different sessions or kinds of things I've been working on, not multiples of the same item. Hmmmm... perspective is an interesting thing isn't it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thoughts about this blog...

Have you noticed I've been hiding a little? Though I've been writing posts to the blog, I've kind of been hiding behind projects. I'm a pretty private person. I also don't think everything is newsworthy. Plus, I feel a little uncomfortable and exposed sometimes... Even knowing that I'm probably the only person who reads this.

I realized as I re-read the oldest posts that I let that uncomfortableness (or fear, which is what it really is) keep me away for long periods of time and/or use to blog to dryly document projects. They only bright spot in the past few months were the Thankfully posts.

I also discovered I've just passed my two year anniversary with this blog, which is astounding to me. I think I'll keep it for at least a little while longer, but something has got to change because I'm bored with it. So... it's time for it to get more interesting, lively, and unexpected.

I love words. Quotes, lyrics, poems, literature, comics, advertisiing... you never never know when or where you will find insight or wisdom or comfort. Yesterday I saw the new Chrysler/Eminem commercial and all I can say is WOW. That is quality advertising. Simple, direct, powerful, uplifting, courageous, hopeful...

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all...
~Emily Dickinson

I am hoping for Spring. It's been a long white winter and I'd dearly love some green, hence the picture above. As I'm writing this, the sun is shining... now that's a welcome sight.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pattern Alterations

Patterns that come straight out of the package may fit you the way you would like, but more often than not, a little tweaking can turn a generic fit into a great fit. I'm not talking about the super close form fit that you see on television or in movies, though you could do that if you wanted to. I'm really talking about altering patterns to most flatter your figure. For instance, the vest I finished yesterday, the main reason it didn't fit well enough is that I have a large bust. To accomodate the bust, often means my waistline is swimming in the generic patterns. One of the main reasons I make my own clothes is because I often experience the same problem with off the rack clothing. The size that fits my waist causes gapping or puckering in the bust or the size that fits my bust is too voluminous in the waist creating the oh so attractive block shape.

There are two books I highly recommend. First is this one by Palmer and Alto. It's filled with great drawings and pictures, and I find them easy to read and understand. Don't let the outdated clothing styles on the cover put you off! There are two companion books called "Pants for Real People" and "Jackets for Real People" - also great. But for general fitting of all garments, this book is a winner.

The other book is this one by Nancy Zieman. I know, you're probably thinking these books must offer duplicate information... Well some of it is the same, however there is plenty in here that is unique. Nancy has several easier to accomplish techniques that work really well for small alterations and her explanations of the process offer more insight and understanding of what it takes to alter patterns. Her confidence makes me feel confident!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Project #10 Fleece Vest.

It's been a busy day, filled with completed projects. Many were started on another day, like this vest. I started it a week ago, but when I tried it on and it was too large (and the side seams and armhole facings were already finished) I had some thinking to do before continuing. For the first couple of days I was just a little ticked. I know better than to wait to try on when the garment is mostly finished. And the really aggravating part is it's a pattern I've used before and remembered how big it ran, so took in all the pieces before cutting. But not enough! Arrrrrghhhh. Okay maybe more than a little ticked.

Then, which option to pursue... I could rip out all the finished work and take in along the sides or I could put in darts or I could run some elastic along the back, creating a gather.

So I tried pin fitting each option and it turns out I liked the elastic along the back best, but doing a small strip in the middle of the back wasn't going to be enough. So instead, I made a small belt, using 1 1/2 inches of the fleece and 1/2 elastic. I sewed the belt to the side seam and it creates a soft gather along the back, which makes an otherwise gender neutral shape a little more feminine. 'Course the fabric helps with that too ;)

You might notice that the facing is a combination of the floral and a solid pink. This is because this fleece is a remnant bin treasure. There was just a smidge over 1 yard and it wasn't quite enough for the facings, so I used a lovely pink for the armhole facings and the lower portion of the front facings.

I'm pleased with the day and the vest. This is project #10 and I'm 1/3 to my goal. * 10 projects in 17 days * While not at the pace I'd originally set, it's darn good! Oh and this vest turned out so well that I'm going to make another with (can you guess?) another remnant treasure!!! You're excited aren't you!?

Project #9 Hearts a plenty

I love this project. It's one I invented years ago and periodically revisit around Valentine's. Some time ago, I discoved this bookmark pattern at JPF Crochet Club. After making several bookmarks, inspiration hit... Two hearts could be turned into a puffy heart.

Using #10 thread and the basic heart pattern (without the edging), I made two of them, then single crocheted two together along the outside, filling with fiber fill just before closing. Sew a pin back on and wear it on a lapel or a magnet and put it on the fridge.

Well these turned out so great that I wanted to try out different kinds of thread, then different kinds of yarn... I've made them out of every kind of yarn (felted even) by now but these are definitely a favorite. They are made from cotton yarn, filled with poly fiber fill. The size is perfect for little hands and the cotton is machine washable and durable. You can fill it however you want, but fiber fill is my first choice because the hearts are made with double crochet, some fillings poke through.

Another favorite project from the heart pattern is to single crochet around just one, using two strands of eyelash yarn. It makes the most wonderful coaster for the Valentine's dinner table.

Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. Erica Jong

Project #8 Teethers

Here is a sweet little project I found through homemadebyjill. Homemade by Jill is one of my favorites. She's very talented and as you will see, her teethers are amazing. The pattern is from therubberpunkin and she has an amazing tutorial to walk you through the steps.

This is fussy work, the eyes, the ribbons on the side, trying to turn the project right side out. Needless to say I learned a lot during this first round. Next time I will make the eyes a little larger and I will probably only use two ribbons on the sides as I like the look better. I used Jill's idea of adding something crinkly inside and love the way it sounds. I used two layers of Warm and White to enclose the plastic, which were the same size as the outside. I stitched these three layers together to avoide shifting. Then I sewed all five layers, front, back, batting, plastic, batting. Pretty thick and difficult to turn. Next time I'm going to make the batting/plastic sandwich smaller, and insert it after the front and back are sewn and turned. I'll let you know how that goes.

Funny side note... Yesterday I just happened to go to Big Lots to replenish our gift bag and tissue paper supply. I bought a collection of bags in a large clear plastic bag. When I transfered the gift bags out of the plastic bag, I knew I'd found the perfect plastic for this project. It's a little stiff and very crinkly. A quick dip in vinegar to make it germ free and it was ready to use. I love how amazing life is. Oh, the best part... The bag is huge and will last through many many many projects. amazing ;)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts on gifts...

We have a lot of family and friend birthdays in the winter. A lot. Virtually every week from November through March, even doubling up here and there. A lot.

The picture is of my 'finished basket'. A place where completed creations rest until a birthday or other holiday comes along.

I often crochet and knit for relaxation. While watching TV or traveling or waiting for this child or that, I put yarn to hook or needles. A scarf, a baby afghan, a hat, a shawl - whatever strikes my fancy at the moment and I add it to the finished basket.

If I'm sewing an easy project, I'll often make more than one and put the extras in the basket. Easy projects are great 'assembly line' candidates.

I also occasionally get the beading bug. When that happens, I make at least two things so I can add to the basket.

Today I went 'shopping' in my finished basket and found a scarf for a friend from work who has a birthday this weekend. While I was perusing the scarf pile, I discovered a baked potato bag in the basket and decided to include it, too. Easy, stress free shopping.

All these extras become great gifts throughout the year, but especially during this time when the holidays take precedence on time and energy. I highly recommend it.

Another thing I recommend... step outside the box. I am a sucker for clearance yarn (think I might have mentioned that before). Mostly because I can try out all the different specialty yarns at much more affordable prices. Also because it get me outside the box of what I would typically purchase as far as color or texture. It's kind of a challenge too... unusual colors, maybe not enough to actually make a complete project out of one yarn so you must combine with another.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, some people when they create things their color pallete or material choices are so focused that all their finished projects have a certain look. Branded if you will. Shopping in the clearance section gets me out of that branded-ness. It helps me to expand beyond my natural tendancies. What's really cool about that is I can almost always find something in my 'finished basket' that suits the recipient. Instead of giving away a gift that looks like me, I give gifts that look like the recipient.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Update & Admission

Okay, I've been avoiding the blog. I admit it. I set a goal that is just not realistic and rather than admit it, I've been avoiding the blog.

All done with that now.

Here's what I've discovered... 30 projects is completely doable either of the following ways:

1. Making or completing simple projects only.
2. Doing nothing else except working on these projects. No work, no family time, no reading... Well you get the idea.

Turns out I'm not really interested in doing either. I like a flexible schedule and I like spending time with my family. While I enjoy simple projects I also enjoy the challenge of tailoring clothes, crocheting shawls, knitting sweaters, all of which take longer than the hours I have each day.

So, rather than hiding from the blog, I'm going to alter my goal. I'm still focussed on 30 projects, but now I'm willing to leave the end date open. That way I can make things I want to make, give them the time they deserve and will produce things out of my 'studio' that make me happy and proud.

And I have to say that is a much better goal!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Project #7 Hearts

Since Valentine's Day is right around the corner, I thought I'd make some pretty trinkets to mail away. I realized as I was making the first bracelet and all the beads slipped off (in a failed attempt to tie the stretch magic) beading is not my special gift. I'm easily frustrated that what I want to happen doesn't always translate. That being said, after retrieving most of the lost beads, I released all expectations of perfection or glory and just decided to enjoy the creative process. Surprisingly, I did.

Oh, btw - if there is a single thing you want to learn how to do, check YouTube. So many wonderful people have taken the time to film tutorials and share them for the betterment of the world. Chances are you will find help there. It's amazingly generous and I've learned much.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project #6 Nightgown

I totally dig this nightgown! The fabric is a quilters flannel that I purchased on super sale last spring. I really like the color and pattern. It's busy, but the colors are muted and I think it's going to fade beautifully.

Some wonder why I make so many of my clothes... The answer is simple, I like what I like. So often, ready made items are a little short here or a little wide there. Hand made means custom. Take this nightgown, I like long sleeves... really long. When my arm is folded, I like the hem to reach just past my wrist bone. Same goes for the length, I want it all the way to the floor. I mean, it's winter, the less exposed skin the better ;). Hand made means I can customize the garments, adding a couple of inches to the sleeve and ruffle.

btw - anyone notice that this is the same lining fabric I used on the eyeglass case yesterday? Another bonus to making my clothes... the scraps :)