Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Resistance

First to clarify: my treasured Susie left me a comment where she noted I've only been knitting for a year...
I've known how to knit for almost 40 years. I picked up the needles again four years ago and I've had the shop for less than a year. Not that I mind being considered something of a phenom, but alas, I'm just your average knitting bear. (But thanks for saying my stuff is gorgeous!!)

The itching has started. As you can see, two more hats have made their way onto the planet. I have already started
another one, but there was a moment when I was looking at other patterns and trying to talk myself into making something else. I almost succumbed.

It's not that it would be a bad thing, in fact, I know at some point, I will have something else on the needles other than a hat, but I'm not at that point yet. This is a business decision and I have to see it through. I cannot be a vagabond about this: I must resist the bohemian calling to just do 'what I want.' I must realize the business is also something I want and in order to make it successful, I really do need to have an anchor product. If I look at all the 'knitting stores' on Etsy, the ones that are the most successful have an anchor product: baby legwarmers, scarves, etc. Then they also offer other items as well.

I didn't invent the wheel, but I sure know how to use one. So, it seems to follow that I also should have an anchor product. I thought about it being afghans, but they take weeks to do. I decided that would be my specialty item. But hats - hats are quick to knit, offer a great variety, and if someone has a head and lives in the part of the country that is not Florida, almost everyone can use a hat. Even places in Arizona have snow and skiing. So hats make sense.

But that wild child wants to go exploring. She doesn't want to stay home and work. She's the same wild child that doesn't want to clean the kitchen. I don't want to send her packing, but I must set her in the corner for a time out so she can think about what she's almost done and has gotten away with in the past.

I love her. But she really needs a little more discipline.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Life

What on earth did I do before knitting?

I started the shop more than a year after I picked up the needles. I haven't had it for a year and I've made over 60 things - I'm a knitting fool! Was there a life before knitting>

I am finding it hard to answer the question. You know how your memory goes: you can remember what you were doing when you were two but you can't remember what you have for dinner two days ago? (It was pork chops with dressing and cranberry sauce. What?) I can remember when I said to Marilyn: "We should start a knitting group." And I remember when she told me I had to move away from scarves and make other things and I can remember the blue and white play pen and being in it when I was a toddler - but the space in between those two times are something of a blank:

I went to school - six of them - Chalmers, Irving, Proviso East, Lewis University, Aurora College and Columbia College.

I married - thirteen years ago. I wasn't knitting then. I knew how to knit but I hadn't picked up the needles again at that time. It was a couple of years after that. But I don't know what I did with my spare time. I did some writing, I suppose and some gardening. I was involved with the League of Women Voters. I co-chaired a Committee for a congressman.

Ahhh - it comes back to me now. I did do things before knitting.

I just wasn't having this much fun.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Sept. 29

I guess there's no mistaking that fall is here. This was one of the coolest summers I can remember in Chicago. The chill came early and has decided to stay. If only winter decided to be as mild...but while the weather always changes in the Windy City (did you know that name has nothing to do with the weather but rather the verbosity of our politicians?) creativity is always constant and always changing. So, in no particular order, here is a sampling of Chicago's best:

Fence by zegami
When I look at art there are several criteria that run through my mind: could I have done that? (answer: no), do I wish I could? (answer: yes) Would I want that in my home? (answer: yes?)
Not only this one, but there are others in this collection that are stunning!

Vest by jollarocknrolla
I've knitted clothing before and I don't get the kick out of it that others do, but this is a cute, funky top that got me thinking I could probably dip my toes back in that fountain. (And to think she lives in my town!!)

Shell Mosaic earrings
by westbyron
I was actually considering another item from this store when the photo of these caught my eye. I can see me wearing these with both casual and not-so casual outfits.

Toilet Paper Cozy by HappyKATT
There's no reason for your Tp to go through the winter naked - so it might as well look like a cupcake! CUTE!!

Felted bag pattern by bonniegoldingpurses
Options are always nice and you can make the base bag and then go hog wild crazy on the fringe you put on. This bag will be you and only you!

This week's shout out is to Judy from Bellissma Trucco I love it when folks, especially women, decide to make a change and then go for it and discover their own happiness. I'm still not there yet, but I love that I am at least giving it a go. Visit Judy's beautiful shop for cosmetics and skincare and a green thumbs up for starting the recycling program for her empty jars!

Calypso Scarf by brendaabdullah
The COLOR! That's another thing I look for in scarves, hats, etc. especially if they are not knitted. I look at them and I instantly get a feeling of "I bet i can knit that!!" And that's a good thing. I love the colors and it stokes my creative fire.

Flower Hat Pattern by lmferg1
I used to prefer crochet over knitting - I don't anymore, but I would totally whip up this hat! Good thing she has the pattern for sale where I can get it - but it's the finished product that's making the list!

Quartz Pendent by beadifuldesigns
Gimme! Gimme! Gimmee!

Gypsy Tote by beesnetta
I look at tote bags and think: knitting project! That's what I thought when I saw this one and besides, it's cute as it can be!

Floral Motif
by savvygal
How cool is this? Artsy decals for the wall! You don't have to worry about what goes with the paint and all that because this artwork really goes ON the wall. This is a stunning motif and check out the shop for other interesting ones!

OK, so this week turned out to be a little bit heavy on the needle arts, but that's what happens when the weather gets cooler. You have to believe me when I say I don't plan these things, it's how the universe shakes out. It's cosmic creativity at it's best and I love it.
I hope you love it, too. I hope you check out these shops and then go to Etsy and in the search box put in your own city and see what's right around the corner from you!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

To Top It All Off

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of being at the Chicago Northwestern United Methodist Women District Meeting. I am the Chair of Communications for the UMW District and we get together a few times a month with reps and members of units in the district who wish to come. It's always a good time.

But I had a decidedly non-Christian moment.

The moment I walked into the church, I saw one
of the women who was responsible for having my knitting group removed from what is still, my church. She called a secret meeting without me and helped perpetuate a gross lie. I know she did it because someone was nice enough to send me the emails she sent around setting up this meeting.

I wo
uld have been perfectly happy just walking past and not saying a word but she had the nerve to walk over to me with a big smile on her face and very enthusiastic "Hi!" before reaching out to touch my arm.

While I was quite tempted to scream out; "Heretic, Viper, Liar!" I took a step back out of reach of the approaching hand and wagged my index finger at her and said, "Please, don't."
She gave me one of those looks - you know that look. It's the one that says "I Know why you did that, but I'm going to pretend not to know why you did that because there are other people around and I don't want you to say anything that might make me look bad." That look.

And would you believe?

She reached out for me again.

That's the funny thing about hypocrites: acting like they haven't wronged you when they have is completely normal behavior for them.

I again evaded the touch and said in a very firm, very low voice. "You're about to run out of luck."

Her face went expressionless and she said "Good Morning." and walked away.

SIGH. Yes, I should have been charitable. (Lily Smith, I can hear you!!) But - and you k
now 'but' means forget what I just said, here's the truth: I"m pleased I stuck up for myself and made her uncomfortable - because it was a lot milder than what I imagined I would do to her because I knew she was going to be there.

Here's the kicker: I had a great time with a bunch of women who are truly inspiring and I was re-elected to my post as Chair of Communications (though this is the last year I can serve in that particular position) so I will have a great time for the next year. That little incident was a very small worm in a very big, juicy apple.

But there's knitting to tell you about! You noticed the hats, right? This is what happens when you have lots of yarn and six days. This is the first part of the hat phase. And I am still in it -
there's another - in green- on the needles right now and the idea of another cable hat is playing somewhere in my head. I am not going to let myself get to excited, but this does seem like the thing to make as the anchor product I offer in the shop.

Remember what I said about listening to Mr. Honey? He was the one who gave me the idea of getting the anchor product in the first place and he has now decided I should add leg warmers and wrist warmers, and this morning he added scarves. My question to him was: How would that make it different than what I am doing now?

"He's still working on the one - the listening to my spouse phase appears to over.


Friday, September 25, 2009

They Shoot Husbands, Don't They?

First, I want to do some Friday Shout outs!
Kim's Crafty Apple is one of our advertisers and she does some really lovely quilts. As you may know, quilts have a place in my heart because I used to have some quilts from my maternal grandmother and I got rid of them because I didn't know hat I had in them. I didn't become crafty until later - don't make my mistake.

My sister Carole put this up on her Facebook page - it is the funniest thing and this kid really has some rhythm for being so young. Check it out when you get the chance. Baby Dancing to Beyonce

I firmly believe there
are miracles all around us. I even believe that every once in a while, we perform them ourselves: case in point: There are times when I ask for Mr. Honey's opinion and it opens the floor for the following miraculous events:

1. I listen to what he says
2. I consider what he says
3. I do what he says

It is even more of a miracle when all three happen on the same piece of advice. And that is exactly what happened when I asked him about stocking the shop. I was musing about whether or not to offer one main item like hats, afghans, etc and then add other pieces and he said so many things that made sense - don't ask me to repeat them - he didn't get the miracle of me retaining what he said. But that's why I entered the hat phase. We figured out that I can make hats faster than I make anything else. Faster than scarves, definitely faster than an afghan or shawl, so hats are the focus and then I will add other pieces. The explanation he gave is sound and it makes good business sense. Hats are easy to design, they offer variety and as I have shown, I have finished six hats in the last few days and the seventh one is on the needles - of course, it is the most complicated.

It even makes sense that I do hats. Most of the hats I've made have sold so I know I can compete in the market. That Mr. Honey, he's got a business head on his cute shoulders.

Here's the problem:
I'm such a child.

The problem isn't with the plan - it's with the person who has to execute it. I have to stop myself from being bored. I have a tendency to run with my feelings and if I feel bored, then I don't try to talk myself out of it. But this is a business and I need a business head to run it.
I am in awe of those people who are creative and focused. Really, I'm just in awe of mature people who work through, around and over obstacles. Maybe when I grow up I will be one of those.

Now, I just have to schedule growing up on the calendar.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Brag, Just Facts

Neglectful. That's what I've been. Would you accept my apology? It's been a busy week!
But I want you to know I have not been Idle. I haven't been lazing the time away. I've been prepping for a district meeting going on this weekend and I've entered a hat phase. I did these all this week. And I finished the stained glass afghan (which I thought I photographed, but guess I haven't seeing as there are no pictures of it.

We had our Wednesday evening get together last night and Vickie (our resident crocheter) said something very interesting. She was telling one of the newbies (We had FOUR newbies last night!) She was telling them why we no longer meet at the church and then she said: "You know since we haven't been at the church, attendance has been much better."

She's right. We were hovering in the eighties and I thought that was pretty good, but since being thrown out, we raised our membership to over 100 and the attendance has nearly doubled. We still do the same work, we still have mission or charity knitting, we are no longer associated with the church and that seems to have loosened up some folks. Hmmmm.

In any case, last night was a lot of fun. We held a knitting and crocheting tutorial and talked about the upcoming craft show in December and a bunch of other stuff. I love the company of crafters. It is an unexpected and pleasant addition to my life. There is an instant camaraderie with people who use their hands, hearts and heads in this way. Would you believe we had three folks offer the use of their homes for future meetings? How cool is that? In case you were wondering if I was one of them..not really. Our entire house is 1100 square feet. There's barely enough room for Mr. Honey and me.

Besides the craft show, we talked about doing a pot luck and again, folks offered the use of their homes. Very nice people. And I must say, though we are open to having men, and it says so right on the page, there's something really special about our group being only women. I also love the company of women. There is nothing like a sisterhood. I am sure it is the same for the brotherhood, but not being one of them, I can only wish they have it just as good.


Monday, September 21, 2009

This Week's Chicago Top Ten Week of September 21

I'm glad to return to this look at some of the best work done by folks in the Windy City!This list will feature not only some really cool (and hot) stuff, but some creative juice as well. So here, in no particular order, is this week's top ten list of Chi-town goodness.

Seatbelt Tote Bag from alamodestuff
What a cool idea. Taking old seatbelts and making them into something functional. I have no ideas where they got the old seatbelts from, but this was a great way to recycle and upcycle.

Posh Legs by Poshpipsqueak
They must know what they're doing because they have over 100 sale in just a little over four months. These are just a sample of the cute baby leggings they sale.

Fine Silver Earrings by designbysuzyn
She's made the list before and this girl is not only talented, she's also prolific. She has a huge selection of items. If there is someone on your gift list that loves jewelry, then make sure you make a stop at this shop. This pair is just striking.

Quilted Green/white bag from allthingsquilted
I find this shop to be an inspiration because not only do they offer traditional quilts, which are a classic family heirloom, but they also do quilted accessories which is a unique sort of thing. I can see this bag being passed down from generation to generation.

Reversible hobo bag from retrofied
All I could think about when i saw it was 'how much yarn could I stuff in there before Mr. Honey noticed I have more yarn AND a new bag?'

I see there's a new follower and I thank you for making me a place to stop by. That's what I really want to accomplish: to be site where folks (especially crafters) can feel at home. It's why I do the list and will step up doing the interviews and features. I want to provide a little 'feel good' throughout the day. And speaking of followers and feeling good; have you been to LocalGringos yet? She's a one stop shop of feel good things. (There's a set of hand knit tags that are coming to my house!) Now that I've spent money, let's get to the rest of the list!

Red Beret from Pandora Spocks
I'm in a hat phase (I made one last night and have another on the needles as we speak) so I am in awe of those knitters who can make one item again and again. This is a cool beret, and if you go to the site, you'll find it in a variety of different colors!

Dog Collar by LuckyFiona
I don't think I should have been surprised at seeing custom made dog collars, but I am - happily surprised. Note to self: put knitting dog sweaters to match up with dog collars on knitting to do list!

Paper bag print by katep
I had to chuckle when I saw this cuz sometimes I feel like this! Nice depiction of deep whimsy.

Arm Warmers by TrixyXchange
Not only do arm warmers fascinate me, but the presentation on her photos is also nice.

Good and Plenty by funkyeggert
I would not have thought of taking an empty Good and Plenty box and making it into a belt buckle. I wouldn't have thought to do that with a full one, either.

Didn't I say the creative juices were flowing? You have to admit I was right, come on, say it just once. If you have a chance, explore the shops and show the owners some love. Same message - different day. Same message EVERY day. It is the entrepreneurial spirit that will bring us back - the little people - we will save ourselves by owning shops and offering quality items at honest prices. Shop and purchase from them whenever you can.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What Passes For Normal

I think things are returning to the regular kind of crazy.

Mr. Honey is having a play date with some of his guy friends. I am rejoicing in this as it has taken me about 15 years to get him to go play without me. I remember asking his good friend Bruce to get him out of the house - not that I was tired of him - but because I wanted him to have his connections like he did before me. Bruce asked him to go some place or another and Mr. Honey's first response (according to Bruce) "Can I bring Bev with me?"


Today they are going to do some
decidedly male thing that has to do with the Santa Fe speedway and cars. Bruce just purchased a 1930-something something and now he and the boys are gonna go scratch and grunt over other old cars.

I'm happy for them. In the meantime, I've done the bling shawl.
I cannot tell you how soft this thing is except to say it's really soft and it's a nice size as well. When I finished it, I thought I should have put the sequins on the top edge and it would drape around the neck and down. That's certainly an option should I do this again, but I rather like it now that I see the photos. It can be pinned at different places for a wrap, shawl or poncho look. Of course it's on sale at designbcb.

I'm working on the stained glass afghan and if I work diligently it will be done today, this weekend at the latest.

Here's almost everyone of the Cotton clan from my nephew's wedding. Missing is my sister's husband (he's on assignment in Liberia.) My sister's son (he's in Maryland) and her daughter (living in Israel); my eldest sister in AZ who couldn't get the time off and her kids and my eldest brother's three kids. But here are the rest of us - eclectic, eh?
Mr. Honey is to the far right - but you knew that, didn't you?

I'm gonna need prayers and good thoughts. The back pain hasn't completely left and it seems like it's cramps from you know, that time, except that time hasn't come for a couple of months. I'm gonna have to suck it up and go to the doctor cuz this is really uncomfortable!
And on that nice note, I'm gonna go drink some water and buy some sneakers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

We Are Stardust

and we've gotten ourselves back to the garden!

Thursday is date night for me and Mr. Honey and right before we left, At&T called to say they were stopping by to check out the problem with the DSL service. I had called Earthlink and asked them to connect me with someone who was stateside, not because I didn't want to speak with anyone in Asia, but because they only could do so much and I needed to escalate the problem. The operator connected me to executive services and a man named Blake.

Blake promised to send the situation to his crackpot team of technicians. That was on Monday. On Tuesday, I got a call from Tim. We went through everything and he determined the problem was with AT&T (which we already knew) so he contacted them and today, right before we left for dinner (because the window for arrival was between 8am and 8pm) a nice man named Jose called to say he was coming out.

Jose came out and said he had other Earthlink customers who were having the same problem because Earthlink migrated their usage contract from one carrier to another and a boat load of Earthlink customers got dropped. The solution, he said, was to have the central office reassign the port the dsl service came through so it would feed through to my house.

Simple enough. Except it was after five and no one in the central office works after 4:30 and it's about a five hour fix. I got Tim on the phone and he and Tim talked and as Jose was leaving, he saw another AT&T truck with another customer. So they talked as well. Tim told me he was going to check to see how ports were to be changed and if the central office had to do it. They all said tomorrow. Tomorrow should see the end of my torment..

At this point, what was another day? So, Mr. Honey took me out to dinner at a place we hadn't been to in a long time. We had a nice dinner and I came back home, did some knitting, watched two episodes of The Nanny and came upstairs to the office just to stroke the modem and remind it that it wasn't its fault.

I have dsl service! Some little fairy must have stayed at the central office or Tim twisted someone's arms because I am back and up and running! Life has returned to something looking like normal.

My great thanks to Blake for getting involved and to Tim for working diligently on this for the past three days. They did in three days what the rest couldn't manage in the previous ten. When you have an Internet based business, you kinda need the Internet to do your thing. I was thinking of places to take my laptop that had free wi-fi so I could work. Now, I can work in my own home. And the router is up and running as well so I should be able to work downstairs when I have to. I appreciate the work they did to get me up and running. I appreciate how they kept me in the loop and talked me through what was going on. It did a great deal to keep me calm and patient.

It's a restoration of faith. That's what it is. And I am grateful.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If You Can't Be With The Ones You Love

Still no DSL service. And you should see the fingers pointing between At&T, Bell and Earthlink. The only things they can agree on: I have no dsl service and it's not my fault. Can they agree on a solution? Nope.

I had one. I said. "Cancel the service and reinstate it using whatever lines and technology you use now."
Their answer?
"That could take a few days."
"As opposed to the twelve days it's taken so far?"
They are determined to have this service corrected. In the meantime, I call the billing department every day and get a credit on my account. I've called all over the place. I haven't been nice and I've been very nice. Nothing seems to work.


Have you noticed when one part of your routine is busted, the entire routine is at stake? I feel this way about not having the dsl service because I am not constantly checking for things on line (emails, orders, etc.) That has a good side to it because it has slowed me down, but it also makes me a little nervous. It's like when your car is in being repaired. You may not have anywhere to go anyway, but it's not having the option that causes the stress.

The back is a little better. It seems worse in the mornings after laying down. I actually did a short workout today - basically arms and I would say there was more discomfort than there was pain. But it was less than 15 minutes and I feel better having done it.

I know I missed the Top Ten list - I promise I will make it up to you.

I'm making progress on the afghan and the shawl as well. Both will be finished any day now. Maybe they will be finished in time for me to show you via my refreshed dsl service.
From my blog to God's ears!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

...Makes Me Stronger

I have been introduced these past few weeks, with amazing clarity, to my shortcomings. And they are many and quite diverse.

The Earthlink dude or dudette was supposed to arrive between 8am and 8pm yesterday. The phone rang at about 3:30p to the Privacy Manager (which some folks have on their phones) saying Earthlink technician was calling me. I pressed to button to accept the call only to have the automated voice tell me the caller hung up.

No Earthlink dude or dudette showed and Mr. Honey and I were home all day. I called the customer service department and was told the ticket was closed cuz the tech was there but couldn't gain access to the phone box. I told them no one was here. He said he would call AT&T because since it was a problem with the phone line that who they dispatched. I said. "AT&T?"
Mr. Honey said, "There was an AT&T truck that passed by the house but it never stopped."
We have rescheduled again for tomorrow between 8am and 12pm. In the meantime, I have the cutest little Earthlink survey sitting in my mailbox that I can't wait to fill out.

On a brighter note, two strips on the stained glass afghan are completed and I must say I like it. It's very colorful. (Yes, you would be able to tell if I take a photo, but my whole routine is just off kilter and this is how I feel pity for myself...along with chocolate.) But you will have a photo of the finished product and you will see how retro-fresh it is. I'm really liking it.

After this, I will be going downstairs to finish off the living room. It's livable at the moment, but I want it to be showcase ready and that means I have to take all the tote bags out and put them downstairs in the basement with the yarn boxes. Believe me, that will open up new paths and highways. I have come to the conclusion that I must be a better wife. Mr. Honey is quite fantastic and I could strive to be merely OK and it would be a boost. Lucky and blessed am I.

For all the stuff that I am going through, I still have this abiding sense that it will all be well and work out the way that it is supposed to. I believe that people will meet the fate they set up for themselves barring any unforeseen interference or assistance. I believe that when you act with evilness, it will come back and bite you because it is only loyal to itself. I believe that when you lie, you send countless ripples out in the ocean and since you can't track them all, you never know when that one ripple will come back and trouble your water. I believe that all the people in history who had great persuasive ability and used it to express hatred, jealousy and harm met the fate expressed hatred and jealousy and those who used it for good get National Holidays named after them plus the love of man and God.

That's why I believe it will all be OK.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

That Which Does Not Kill Me...

Still no DSL. The new modem arrived and when I installed it, there was still no dsl service. I called the Customer Service department and they did a line test and said I was not getting the dsl feed. (So, they couldn't do that before they made me buy a new modem?) The Earthlink guy will be here today between 8am and 8pm. To make matters worse, or just more strange, yesterday talking to the technician, they asked where the outside access to the phone line was, I turned to Mr. Honey and asked: "It's on the pole in the alley, right?" To which he replied, "It's on the side of the house." As if I were an alien being. I relayed the information to the technician.

Yesterday evening, at dinner, I told him the tech would be coming on Saturday to look at the phone line and the box to check the line and he said. "We don't have a phone box on the house."

"But you said yesterday when I asked you that it was on the side of the house in the back."
"Well, if we had one that's where it would be."
"So you didn't know for sure when you told me that and I told that to Earthlink."
"No, I was guessing."

Luckily, the distant between the back of the house and the pole where I thought it was is not very far. The technician probably looked at the ticket and thought we were crazy to suggest it was on the house at all and he probably knows it's in the alley.

Mr. Honey.
Good thing he has a great looking arse.


The good news is, I had a blast with the knitting group today. There were four of us gathered around at Borders and April mentioned she was at an estate sale close by and they had some knitting and crafting books, some fabric and other goodies. We all looked at each, packed up our stuff, jumped in my car and we went over. I walked out with a knitting book chock full of patterns, a huge ball of cotton yarn, and a set of circular needles for all of $4. In fact, everyone walked out with something.

That makes up for all the crap that's going on that I'm not telling you about.
I have the feeling the answer to it all is I need to be more prayerful. I will have to pray about it...and hire an attorney.

Double sigh.

In the meantime, the shawl is coming along fine. I showed it to the knitting group and they thought it was very festive. While they didn't exactly fall over it (they did fall over the sequin afghan) they were very supportive. I can't wait to finish it so you can see it and tell me what you think. The stain glass afghan is also coming along. One strip is already complete and another in the works. I should have at least one more strip done today because I will be working on it today. Thank God for knitting. I mean that most sincerely.

In the meantime, I've started work on all the books. Yep, I will probably end up alternating them and working them all at the same time. Why should my writing be any different than my knitting?

StitchCraft, my knitting group, just reached 100 members and I'm planning a celebration for some time next year after the holidays are done and the holiday knitting season is over and we can use some social knitting. 100 members. Whodda thunk?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Next Step Forward

Last year I wanted to take part in a craft fair at the high school down the street but Marilyn pooh-poohed the idea and it took two yeses in StitchCraft to do anything. Now that Marilyn has formed her own group, I am free to participate if I want. I passed the school yesterday and they had the call for crafters on their sign.

It's a little nerve-wracking. This is the first one I will be going alone and you have to pass a small jury and pay a whopping $60 or something like that fee. I have enough merchandise to more than make that back if I sell just one or two things. It's an important step to take because I need to get designbcb and StitchCraft established as the store and knitting group available for folks to buy merchandise or come and knit with a bunch of crazed crafters. It all makes sense and I was looking forward to it.

But I'm a little scared.

Not that this will deter me. Even as we speak and I work through the worse back pain (it's my own fault, I failed to take the meds last night and the pain is pounding me again) I have the application pulled up in another window. The only thing I'm stuck on is they are asking for two pictures of my exhibit. What exhibit? Does that mean they want two pictures of my work? What if this is the first time someone is exhibiting? How are they supposed to show that? Do they want a mock setup? I guess I can do that. In fact, that might be a little fun. I don't have long to get it in. The application just went up and the deadline is already next week. So I need to get on it.

The fear is passing and being replaced with eagerness. I give you, dear ones, credit for that. For allowing me to express the fear, I have faced it and determined it is a stepping stone for better things. (Yes, I've taken my meds like a good girl and hope to have relief soon.) In the meantime, there's work to do.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Even When You're Not Looking

It seems folks want to read about Jared and Alexander. Those are the names of the two sons in My Father's Son. I'll be taking input for a couple more days on which book to write. I don't have a problem writing this one first. The pre-write for this one is furthest along. But don't let that influence you.

The wedding afghan was on my mind and on my needles. That's the excuse I am using for slacking in other knitting areas. I haven't placed anything new in the shop since the 12th of August. That's almost the kiss of death for an online shop. Doing the afghan must be my excuse.

Of course, the last time (before the wedding afghan)that I showed off a completed object here was..this is what I'm saying. It might have been the yarn I dyed in August. Did I show you the yarn I dyed in August? Geez. If I didn't, the last item I showed you was the golden afghan.

However, there is something about knitting that sooner or later an ardent knitter will discover. Things get made when we're not looking. This is especially true if one is one of those knitters who have more than one project going at a time. So while the wedding afghan was indeed taking up space and time, there were other projects started right after it was completed. I failed to show and talk about one and the other has been the subject of a couple of recent posts...yes...the boring and the beautiful afghan is done along with a beaded pillow I made right after the wedding afghan was done. And would you believe it? I photographed them. Yes, I made my sore back get dressed and I took them to the backyard that doubles as the studio and I took their pictures.

The back of the pillow is a blue, brown and ivory variegated stockinette. I have to thank Vickie - a member of StitchCraft.
I was prepared to start this cover over because I thought I made it too big for the pillow form and with a 90 degree turn, Vickie showed me I didn't have to do it over. (I did have to redo the back, but thank goodness I didn't have to take out the beads. Thanks, Vickie!)

Do you see the bling in the fringe? Well, just in case you can't - I'll give you a real good look at it.

I wasn't going to do the fringe at all, but thought it added to the bohemian-ness of the throw. Then I thought I was going to leave out the sequins from the fringe, but the original pattern in the book calls for it and so I tied some in. Not too much, just enough so you know it's there, but not enough to overtake it.

It can double as a wrap or shawl (I know cuz I tried it.) As it turns out, I rather like it. But you can certainly see why it would be both boring and beautiful?

It takes some repetitive work to get over 600 sequins on any one object. (You should see the shawl pattern I cooked up that's using silver grey yarn with silver sequins. It is turning out to be quite beautiful and not quite as boring!)

I love how the sequins catch the light. Little stars. That's what they are. You can have your very own constellation wrapped around you.

And because a knitter's work is never really done (for which we are quite grateful) not only is the silver shawl on the needles, but a stained glass afghan is also in the making and maybe 1/3 of the way done. So there will be something new for you and for the job in the very near future!


Monday, September 7, 2009

This Week Chicago Top Ten for Sept 7, 2009

Need your input! Which book to write first!
Oh kidlets, today is painful! I mean it - painful. I had what I thought was a sore back from doing a whole bunch of walking during the last week, but last night and this morning my back feels like a bunch of little feet spent all night kicking me.

Mr. Honey gave me one of his 800mg Ibuprofen and the back pain actually tapped me on the shoulder and laughed in my ear. The heating pad that was on the spot for most of the night did not help. The only relief I have found thus far is sitting up. But that's not why you're here. You're here because you want to see who and what have made it to the hot list for the week. So, back pain notwithstanding, here, in no particular order, is this week's top ten from among Chicago's best:

Orange Wrap by mylittleaura
Ponchos have been talked about lately as my niece, Tracy, wants me to knit her one and for some reason, I'm liking the color orange. (I would have gotten some the last time I was Hobby Lobby, but they didn't have orange in stock!)

Halloween Stroll by noodleandlou
Y'all know I can't draw a straight line with a ruler so I am always in awe of those who can actually make distinguishable things with paints and stuff. This one just struck me. I like her cheekbones.

Vintage quilt by vintagemerchantile
I had quilts made by my grandmother and didn't know what it was I had so I no longer have them. This is a beautifully done quilt.

Flapper by Elieshappyhats
My nephew, Mike, has a daughter and Megan is a little fashion plate. This is just the kind of hat she would have worn at this age.

Love Choker by lpjewelry
This is a great idea for a personalized gift and it doesn't have to be limited to Moms.

Another follower has joined us since last week! Glad to have you and hope to see your comments on these pages soon! This week's shout out goes to Anne. Visit her blog and you will find free patterns, original designs and all sorts of goodness! We love creative people! Check out the creative and socially involved Anne for a feel good time.

Hand Knit poncho by HappyKATT
Like I said, ponchos have been much discusses. (Hey, it's not a pair of earrings!)

AHPS shirt by greeniebeanrecycle
I just thought it would be fun making up names to go with AHPS.

Scarf by Feltinspired
While I was immediately taken with the colors and design of the scarf, it took me a few minutes to get the double meaning of the shop. I'm blaming the back pain.

Heart by Wrenindoubt
I just like it. And I like it a lot more after reading the description and knowing what's inside.

Steph purse by enjolive
Oh come on, you know one would show up. This bag is great fun. It gives me ideas of my own and isn't that a sign of a good piece of art?

There you have it. Obviously, with the back I won't be running (or even walking) to get the back up modem. Maybe this is God's way of telling me Mr. Honey was right and I didn't need to go out and spend money when the modem will be here in a day or two. Maybe this is a way to help me exercise my soul with patience. OK, I get.

Please visit the shops and take a look at the wares. You know, the holiday season is really just a few weeks away and if these aren't the gifts you'll give, they are certain to give you inspiration!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

God's Guffaw

Lurkers: Need your input. Read this post and tell me what book I should work on first!

I am convinced God is having His share of laughter at me today. I don't know what God's share of laughter is, but being, you know, God, I imagine His share is pretty big. This morning I got up (which is always a 50-50 proposition) and made the commute to my PC and noticed the Internet symbol was amber. It's supposed to be green. A bright green. An amber Internet symbol means the Internet is not available.

Did I ever mention I make the better part of my living (such as it is) on line? If Mama can connect to the web then Mama can't do about 90% of her work. Yes, I can write, but I don't have my resources at my disposal. I don't have my email. I don't have access to the Meetup website to see how may folks will be coming to the gathering in five days. I can't tell if there are any comments or if most of you guys are still lurking. (Could you please comment once in a while? I would hate to think this wit is being wasted on just me!)

But I remain calm and I do some troubleshooting to figure out where the problem lies. In one of my past lives, I worked for Xerox and part of my job was computer hardware and software. I have gotten somewhat good at it over the years so troubleshooting isn't an intimidating thing for me. It's important to find out where the trouble is before I pick up the phone because one of the things I've noticed about Internet service providers, modem customer service and router customer service is they love to blame each other for the problem and if you have no clue about any of the technology you use, you can be making phone calls back and forth while they successfully close out your service ticket and move on to the next person.

I determine the problem is with the service. I make this determination because last week; three days in a row, I received recorded calls saying my account was past due and three times I called the number only to have the operator say to me: "Your account is current. You just changed the credit card number on file." The third time I may have made some comment to the effect of: "If I get another call like this I will change my service."

So, I'm thinking someone took that as a cancellation request and the reason I have no service is because they've stopped it.

So I call my ISP and expect to hear how my Internet is not not working; it's no longer there and I can have my service reconnected with a new contract for the low price of $6.95 for six months before the permanent rate of $1.6 million per month hits.

But that's not what I hear. I should have service. Nothing wrong with the account. Nope. My modem has gone out. My modem. My DSL connection. The tech wanted to know how long I've had my modem. Like I know. She says I've had it since 2003.

If she knew, why'd she ask?

It appears my modem has been decommissioned. It is obsolete. I will need a new modem.
One would think they would send out a warning to folks that says this perfectly good modem has been decommissioned because we want you to go out and spend some of your money on another modem. You have three days before you will have no service. She says I can get a new modem for the cost of shipping if I extend my contract for a year. Otherwise, I can buy a new modem for about $40.

I'm not planning on switching service so I take the first option. She has to transfer me over to the Customer Service department where a guy takes over and I tell him the CSR says I need to get a new modem. He says he will be glad to send me a new modem....

...for $79.99

Now, I don't know his mother's name, but I am certain it wasn't any of the names I called her.
He then revised his offer and said he will send me a modem for the cost of shipping - $19.95. Big rip off but I can't really go out and buy a modem for less than that and if I buy a modem, no one will service it. So, OK, send me the modem I say and ask how long it will get there.

Could be two weeks unless I want it overnight. Nope. 2 day shipping will be $24.95. OK, give me that.

So, I go downstairs and Mr. Honey and I are watching the Cubs game (sigh) and I mention the new modem is on the way and ask whether we should have a backup modem. He says he thinks that's a good idea and I make myself ready to go over to Best Buy to get one when he says.

"Don't you have dial up?" Understand, Mr. Honey's PC doesn't have DSL, it has dial up. That's what he uses when he's not on one of my PCs using the DSL. His laptop still runs Windows 98 - no joke. He says dial up is fine. Which is why I always find him using one of my PCs. I tell him I get 20 hours of dial up a month with my service.

"Then don't spend money on a backup modem. Use the dial up instead."
I am using the dial up to tell you about this because I listened to him. Do you know how slow everything is with dial up? Do you know how quickly I will run through 20 hours?

So here I am going old school. I've already spent about two of the twenty hours just doing the pre-business business stuff I do everyday. Mr. Honey does not understand this. He came in a little while ago and pat me on the shoulder saying I would live through it.

Of course I will.
Cuz tomorrow I'm buying the back up modem.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Boring and the Beautiful

I could place a photo of the WIP sequined beautiful but boring afghan here. I could. Except the laziness that I am currently operating under will not let me get more dressed, go downstairs, load the camera, place the afghan wip outdoors, take a photo (or five) come back in, attach the camera to the PC and download the photo.

I'm fatigued just writing about doing it. As an aside, I visited the Julie/Julia website; you know the one that inspired the movie about the woman who made all the recipes in Julia Child's cookbook? Not one picture. I went there thinking I would see photos of those creations. Nope. Nada. Rien. Nuthin'. Just saying.

I am on the third skein of yarn and the second bag of sequins. I did a little count of the sequins already in place and the count was approx. 350. I am about halfway through the project so there will be lots of bling. I have to say that is the most fun part - seeing the light hit the pailettes and they just sparkle like crazy. And since I vented yesterday, I have to say the project seems to be moving more smoothly so I expect I will be taking the photos of the finished object in a very short time.

To completely change the subject: I need your input.
I am a writer by profession - though I guess I am no also a knitter by profession, but first came the writing. Well, the knitting came first way back in grade school - no, matter, not important to what I need your input on.

I have three books crowding my brain saying they need to be written. I trust them when they say they need to be written; I just don't know which needs to be written first. I need you to read the synopsis of each and tell me which one I should work on.

My Father's Son is a historical novel about two boys: one born of a slave, one born of the slave owner's wife, both sons of the slave owner and how their lives take different paths as they both fight for freedom.

The Coffee Club is a novel about five friends (three black, two white) and the strong bond that gets them through a painful divorce, the death of a spouse, a surprising new love and living the single life.

Short Rows is a book about the connection of knitting and life. Short little musings about this craft we all love so much.

What do you think? Which one of these babies should be pushed through the creative canal first? Let me know your thoughts. In the meantime, I'm gonna throw some laundry in the machine and get back to the afghan.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Need to Knit

One must knit.
There are those of you who understand this concept and do not hesitate to agree.

One must knit.
In fact, I would hazard to say that most folks who follow a knitting blog, do so because they must knit. (That leaves room for those of who who just support me no matter what I do and those who love my writing..hahahaha.)

One must knit.
I must knit. Even if it means the knitting is sometimes painful. In this case, it is not a physical pain. It is a mental one. I am knitting an afghan/wrap. Very simple stockinette pattern. It's all stockinette. Except every fourth row I put in sequins at the beginning and the end of the row. So there's a band of sequins then plain stockinette and then sequins. This is after a few rows of sequins all the way across.

I don't need to put a photo there, do I? You get it. You can imagine how it's going to look. Well, you can if I tell you the color is kinda rust orange. I believed the yarn is Burnt Pumpkin and the sequins are a close copper color. When it's done there will be a rectangle with sequins on all sides and a clear stockinette middle. It should be very nice.

My stitches have never looked better. When stockinette is the main pattern, it's important the stitches look nice and even because it's the canvas. I was admiring my stitches last night. I was saying to myself they looked nice and smooth and really professional. I was complimenting myself on my improving in my craft.

It's going to be lovely with the fall color and the shiny sequins.
Assuming I haven't died of boredom.

Did I write that out loud? I believe I did. Do you know the cause of the boredom? It's not that it's stockinette because it's a four row repeat and you have to pay attention to the placement of the sequins because it's not the same: the placement starts on the 3rd stitch on one row and on the 6th (so I guess it's an 8 row repeat) but it can go wrong. That's not the source of the problem.

It's the needle size. I'm using size 9. Relatively small for an afghan with one stitch. It will be stunning when it's done but it's going to take a lot of rows with that size of needle. It's an afghan after all. The pattern called for it to be a short throw - but come on, it needed to be bigger. I couldn't stop at the 36 inches or the 500 sequins it calls for. No, It must be at least in the 50 inches range and it must have 750 sequins at least. (Which is why I changed the pattern from adding sequins every 6th row to every 4th row.)

Don't know why I didn't change the needle size while I was changing everything else. But I didn't and I'm too far to go back and though I think I have been working on this for a little more than a week, it's already playing with my mind. Don't suggest putting it down and working on something else - I have to get through it or else the effort I've already put in will go wasted.


I feel better just getting it out. Now I won't carry thing vibe with me to the project and it won't feel my little outburst and snag or something. It really does look nice and it will be stunning. We just have to make it through this little stone in the road. But we will because sometimes you have to go through these things to get to the other side. And it's worth getting to the other side.

Because one must knit.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Precious

This is Jeremy and Beth. Beth is his Momma. She and my brother were a year ahead of me in high school so I've known her for a long time. I haven't seen her in a long time before the wedding (though we are Facebook friends.) One of the great joys of the day was seeing her again. (Considering we live less than five miles apart, it goes to prove how big and small the word is.) When she walked down the aisle at the wedding I turned to my sister and said, "She's always been beautiful." And she is. Beth is stunning.

And she gave me something to think about that I must share. Here's what happened.

I was saying my good-byes and she asked if she could see the wedding afghan. I, of course, said yes, before I realized I had placed the gift on the gift table which meant it was no longer mine to show off. Luckily, Lily was standing close to the table and we walked over and we asked Lily if we could look at the afghan. We were looking at it when Lily mentioned she might have to use it because the evening was a little chilly and her gown was strapless and Beth said:

"No, you don't use this." She said in that way that all knitters (heck, all crafters) love to hear their stuff talked about. Like this is something special.

And here we are at a knitting crossroads. Is it a precious object or is it functional? And who gets to decide? Do I decide because I made it? Does Lily decide because it was made with her in mind? Don't even ask about what Jeremy thinks - he won't even care. How often does it happen that we make an item with a person or purpose in mind and that person uses it differently than we imagined? Do we think they're clever or do we feel a little put out?

I didn't say anything in response because Lily and I started talking about the colors but it does make me wonder about how we think about what we make and what others may think about what we make.

I love that Beth said that. I love the idea that someone thinks it's special enough to preserve.
I also thought Lily would snuggle with a good book with the afghan wrapped around legs.
I also thought the afghan would look good at the foot of the bed.
I also thought it would make an interesting tapestry hung on the wall.
I also thought they would hide it until such time they knew I was coming for a visit.

I'm good with any of those option - even the last one. And I have come to the conclusion that it is up to Lily and Jeremy to decide. It's a win-win. I gave them something from my heart and spirit - I've gotten my Ya-Yas and now they can decide the value to their heart and spirit. I think that's how it goes.

Which side do you land on? Is it precious or functional?

BTW, Susie got a kick out of Mr. Honey buying the Glad storage bags to use as the gift bag. We did not use that. I took a trip over to the Container Store and purchased those zipped bags that sheet sets and blankets come in. It gave a nice, professional finished look. In fact, I am going to ship afghans and blankets from designbcb that way. I felt really good about the presentation - but I'm always glad to give Susie a good chuckle!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Niece and Nephew

Here they are: Mr and Mrs Cotton-Schmidt. It's a strange and wonderful thing to think I saw this little creature when they brought him home from the hospital. I have fed him, changed his diapers, took him on outings with just the two of us even disciplined him once in a very great while and now he is grown up and has a wife of his own and who knows, I could be asked to babysit his child one day. (Which I will do because I can return the kid, spoiled, at the end of the day.)

In truth, I don't think I've ever seen him happier than he was on Saturday. You would expect a couple to be happy on their wedding day, and they certainly were, but knowing some of what he's gone through, I was grateful that he was happy. That he could find his own happiness. I am grateful he knew it was out there for him to find. And he did find it. Lily is very lovely inside and out. She is a great compliment to him and a great partner for him. She'll keep him in line.

I wish my parents were here. My father would be happy because Jeremy is the first son of a son. My mom would be over the moon because she loved her some Jeremy but she would be thrilled because Lily is the daughter of a minister. So where Lily couldn't keep him in line; Jesus will take over.

There are other photos to share from the wedding including the crazy family I come from (and Lily is now stuck with) and photos of Mr. Honey and me but for right now, this is still their moment.


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