Saturday, October 31, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I was somewhere else - at least mentally. I am about six posts behind schedule (so much for schedules) but here I am, back at last, and I am going to talk about something I used to despise a lot and now only despise a little...


I don't know what it is but there are some of us (you see how I am making you an accomplice so as not to be the only one guilty) don't like the finishing on knitting. For me, it's because I never expected it. When we are learning how to knit, no one says, oh by the way, there's going to be some finishing work like seaming, blocking and there's also going to be math. They never tell you that up front. They always throw it in as an aside. "When you've finished casting off, sew in your ends." Why don't they tell us up front in the stitches and technique section of the pattern that you are going to have to come to terms with sewing in knitting. You will have to purchase a needle. You will have to thread the needle with yarn. You will have to work that thread and needle through the fabric you've knitted or you will not have a bag, sweater or soap holder.

They should tell us that.

But they didn't so I had to come to grips with all that and when I learned there was more than one way to make a seam, it got slightly more interesting and a lot more frightening. Which one do I use when? If I don't use the right one, will the finishing fairies come and take my Chibi away? (Not sure that's a bad thing.)

You know what made it all OK? Crocheting the seams.

I love crocheting the seams together. It's so much easier. The seams are neater and stronger and blend better. Once I discovered I could crochet seam just about anything, the other seaming stitches weren't so bad. I kinda like grafting. And I've turned the three needle bind off into a seaming technique that works really well. And mattress stitch will work when I can't crochet a seam (rare, I tell you, rare.) So, following is a small explanation on how you can seam your work together without fear.

First, make four swatches: two will be stockinette and two will be garter stitch. You will need these because your are going to mix them up and use them to practice your seaming. If your eyesight isn't the best or you just want to be able to see more clearly - use a big needle - like a thirteen. I personally would make the swatches with the needle size I use most often so I can get real time practice. So I would be somewhere around the 8-10.75 needle range. You'll use these swatches over and over as you practice your stitchery.

For now, we'll talk about my favorite method of seaming - crocheting you two pieces together.

1. You'll want the right sides facing each other unless you want a slight raised effect on the right side. You'll work from the right to the left.

2. Take your crochet hook (it should be the approximate size as your knitting needles) and push the hook from the front to the back going through both swatches. Wrap the working yarn around the hook and pull it back through to the front. You should have one loop on your hook.

3. Push the hook through the next two stitches (one from each side.)

4. Wrap the working yarn around the hook and pull back through to the front side. (You should have two loops on the hook)

5. Pull the first loop on the hook through the second loop. (You should have one loop on the hook.)

Repeat steps 2-5.

When you get to the last stitch, you will pull it through just like you would the last stitch of a traditional bind off.

That's all there is to it.

If you need photos or to watch a video, YouTube has a few you can look at or put 'crocheting seams' in a search engine and you will get plenty of results.

It's fast and easy and makes a great looking seam. If you do it in the same color yarn, it's an almost invisible seam and if for some reason you need to take it out, it rips out like a dream. I don't mind doing seams like this.

Hopefully you'll find it useful,too.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blog Fodder

Mr. Honey is like most people who are related to writers: he prefers not to be a subject of writings. But that's just crazy talk. There is a code that family members of writers are an instant source of material - just like being married to a comedian. For the most part, we leave them alone but there are times when a family member comes in handy for writing: like when we want to share sentimental stories, or when we have writer's block and need a way to unstop the drain or

when they do the following:

Get something to drink.

So, there I was on Saturday afternoon (yes, there's a reason it's in italics) sitting on the couch either knitting a hat or looking over patterns for another hat or doing something with a hat when Mr. Honey walked in. He had been outside and he was dressed in his coat and he was breathing deeply and he said: "This might be a good time to deal with the junk in your trunk."

Come again?

I know he wasn't talking about the booty that's on me so he must have been talking about the car trunk.
Did you hear me?
The car trunk.

Where the hidden stash of yarn and pillow forms. Pillow forms? That's right. Pillow forms. They were on sale two for one so I got four of them. Yes, they were so hidden I didn't even tell you.

That's what he meant. He meant to tell me that for some strange reason, he was in my car trunk and he discovered what I had in the trunk and he was telling me he now knows so I can go and bring it in the house.

That's what I thought. Which ticked me off a little. What was he doing in my trunk? So I asked him, "Are you taking something out of my trunk?" No answer. "Are you putting something in my trunk?" No answer.

Leaving me to believe that's what he did - for some reason he went into my trunk and discovered my stash. Well, I continued on with the hat pattern and knitting because there was no sense in rushing out to take care of a hidden stash that was no longer hidden.

Remember, it's Saturday afternoon.

The next morning I had to leave for church a little early because there's an annual race that closes down a bunch of streets around Oak Park and you have to leave early to avoid the closed streets and get around. So, I go out to the car and I notice everything that was in my trunk is now sitting in the back seat of my car.

What the?

If everything is in the back seat of my car, then what's in my trunk? I opened the trunk and I see a tire and a wheel cover. A full sized tire.

I close the trunk and start looking at my tires. Sure enough, there's a temp tire on the back passenger side. Apparently, I had a flat and he changed the tire and put the temp on. Now, Mr. Honey was not at home. He walks to church a block away from our house.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Forget about the yarn stash being busted. Why didn't he tell me I had a flat instead of the junk in the trunk remark?

Because that's what Mr. Honey calls a sense of humor. I went to church because it is close to Sears where I was going to go after church to get the tire in the trunk inspected and repaired or replaced.

Which could have happened on Saturday because he changed the tire Saturday afternoon.

But wait...there's more.

After church, I go out to the car and I call home - because he needs to be yelled at (while I was in the throes of Christian love) and waiting until I came home would be too long. He answered the phone and conversation went something like this:

"Repeat these words. 'Honey, you have a flat.'
"Honey, you have a flat!" (Said with an undertone of laughter.)
"You know, if you had told me that yesterday when I asked what you were taking out or putting in to my trunk, I could have had this taken care of yesterday and would not be driving around pot hole filled streets with a temp tire."

And do you know what he said?

"I am headed over to Sears to get another tire."
"Oh no, you need two tires."

Say what?

"Two tires are bad. You need two tires."
"OK. I'm going to Sears to get two tires."
"Oh no, I'm going to take the car to the gas station where I know I can get a good deal. I'm taking the car there tomorrow. I'm going to call them."

It's not quite done yet.

I travel home and sometime later I say to him. "What gas station?"
"Park Ridge."
"The station that's open until midnight every night?"
"The one I could have called last night and taken the car to get the tires?"
"Oh no, I called them. They won't have the tires until tomorrow."
"When did you call them?"
"Saturday afternoon."

This is why he's blog fodder.


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Oct. 26, 2009

I had a brain freeze - somehow I forgot it was Monday. I looked on the calendar and there it is - time to list the top ten items I found while perusing the shops. My apologies for my lateness, I was having so much fun looking over the weekend that I forgot to share the goods with you. So, without further delay, and in no particular order, here are the top ten choices from local artisans:

Pom Junkie Necklace by bumblesea jewelry.
This piece seems delicate with great texture. It's a white pomegranate!

Evil Notecard
There are times when people just don't get it - and only a nice card with a great layout can get the message across.

Fairy Necklace by LibraLu
This is a vintage piece that has an old style look about it. That's probably why they call it a vintage piece.

Dubliner Earrings
from urbanlegend
I love these as they are but if they had a darker bead, I would have bought them then and there!

Crocheted earrings by joyce is crafty
OK, I have never seen anything like this and that was worth expanding the geographical location to include Indiana - just this once.

Whew! What a week. If you've been reading the blog, you know I've gone just a little bit hat crazy. Keep your fingers crossed that they do sell. I tried a different pricing formula but that increased the cost on some hats and lowered it on others. I don't know. If someone out there has a good way to price their goods, please let me know. In the meantime, I am putting together a small tutorial on seaming. Yes, I am laughing too, but I can do it. You'll see!

Princess earrings by djewelsrfab
I have a pair or earrings that are like these - but they aren't these - which is why these are on the list!

Bella Jet Black earrings by lindab142
Yes, I've noticed the trend of what I'm picking this week - but have you noticed these earrings!

Kimonos by dolluxedesigns
Is that doll wearing a kimono?

Autumn Coasters from Creative Coaster Chick
For some reason, these remind me of 'Under the Tuscan Sun' where no coaster was even given a close up. Don't ask me why they do just be glad they aren't earrings.

Baby Pod by ventichai
You should see the rainbow and the one that looks like a football. OK, let's all say it together; "Aaaawwwwwwwww!"

Yes, I know there are a lot of earrings out there. But that just means you can grab a pair for yourself and I might not even notice you took them right out from under me. Psssttt...Christmas is eight weeks away. Not a bad idea to get over to my shop and these shops and start making that list - so you'll have time to check it twice before you check out!

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Gang's All Here

You would be proud of me. The kitchen, the bedroom and the dining room are actually clean (ignore the clutter behind the hats - that's all Mr. Honey so his clutter doesn't count - he'd be the first to tell you.) I've also started to...get ready...organize the yarn stash. I've started out small using the glad bags Mr. Honey purchased. I have the yarn divided into worsted weight in one bag (like it takes just one bag) and the chunky, bulky and novelty in another bag (like that takes just one bag, either.) Actually, they are in two big bags each. It's just the yarn that was in the living room. The container in the office is still a mish-mash of yarn and let's not talk about the yarn in the basement. But I do plan on taking this organization thing further - as soon as my brain unfreezes from what I've already done.

And still I had time to create all these hats. These are most of the hats made during the hat rage - which continues though at this very moment there is not a hat on the needles.) I think there are somewhere between 5 -7 hats from all the hats I've made that are missing from the photo. Don't ask me where they are, I suspect they are in the black duffel bag holding most of my finished objects and shop inventory. I am going to have to redo the storage situation because there's a lot of stuff and when I sell something it's always a treasure hunt to find out which container is holding the prize. I mentioned to Mr. Honey that my storage containers were all full and I didn't know if I should go with another bag or another of the plastic containers.

I didn't even see it coming.

He went to my table in the living room and pulled out the box holding the storage bags and said, "Use these." This man is determined since he bought me the bags as possible gift bags that I should use them. I swear if I told him I was going to change the sheets on the bed and didn't know if I wanted to go with Egyptian cotton or flannel, he would pull out the box and say 'use these!'

He then went on to explain that: they're big - and even did a great Vanna White by undoing the bag and showing me its bigness and declaring they were see through - which he demonstrated by putting his hand in and showing me the back and front of his hand while in the bag.

Because the bags holding the freshly separated yarn was not sufficient for me to distinguish both the size and transparency of the bags still in the box.

And yet, he makes some good points. They are less bulky than either container and will be easy to cart from place to place when I have to take items either to StitchCraft or for the sale in December and they much more easily hidden from view. Not to mention, I can still separate by item and can see what's in the bag and eliminate the great treasure hunt when there's a sale.

I agreed to use the bags.

Can't help loving that man.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

One of Those Strange Things

ennadoolf points out that she has an acrylic garden - in response to my post where I said I have an acrylic yarn farm. Well, my darling, a farm is nothing more than a garden on steroids. So I thank you for being a partner in my acrylic yarn-ness!

That rage continues. For those who are keeping track (and for those who are not) there are two new hats in the stable. That brings the total to - I don't even know. I know there are 15 on sale in the shop
and eleven of those were created in the rage. There are now at least eight that have not been photographed, just sitting on the models looking cute, so if I take off my socks and count little piggies more than one time around and carry the one, I get 19. 19 hats, four scarves and a purse all made in about a month. I would say that was pretty good, wouldn't you?

Mr. Honey, as always, has been very supportive, he mentioned that I have a 'fine variety of hats' and I said to him that he could also rejoice that the yarn stash was being used. As I was starting the white hat you see on the left and pulling the yarn from the stash bag he passed by and said "Are you sure that stash is going down?"

Well, I think I coughed or something to stall to come up with a good answer because I had snuck off to the car and pulled out six of the sixteen skeins hiding in the trunk and I put them in the stash bag. This leads me to believe I may not be as stealth as I believe I am - but I am not going to bring up the subject lest I am as stealth as I believe and confess to being a yarn hoarder which would then blow my stealth-ness. Besides, he has a key to the trunk and that could cause random trunk inspections and that takes away a key component to my yarn hoardiness. That sounds incredibly - sordid. Yummm.

So, I said to him the incredible thing about these hats was that they all took less than one skein of yarn to make. I then pulled out a half skein as proof.

"What are you doing with the leftovers?"
"I can make another hat or save it to make afghans or I can make fingerless gloves."
"Yes! Now that's a good idea. You should make the fingerless gloves. I like that."

How much do I want to encourage this behavior? Mr. Honey is already incredibly supportive in the spousal role - do I actually want him to weigh in on the knitting? On the one hand, I haven't gone too far off when I've listened to him in the past. And it pulls him closer to me so he might not question the stash again - like when I eventually sneak the other ten skeins into the house and the stash bag. And making the fingerless gloves really isn't a bad idea. They would match up to a hat or could be their own accessory - even though I am inclined to make my favorite afghan that uses chunky weight yarn. I haven't made one of those in a long time and these remnants would look really great in the pattern.

I will probably wind up making a few pair of the gloves. I checked out some of the other shops and they sell fairly well. Then the rest of the yarn will go towards the afghan cuz I still need to make the big afghan for the sale.

It's all about the compromise in a marriage - and the need for a secret stash.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Return to Normal and A Book Excerpt

I know when I asked what book I should get started on, most of you selected My Father's Son
the story of two men born of the same father but one mother is a slave mistress and the other the mistress of the plantation. I meant to start with that book, but when I sat down at the computer, the first chapter of The Coffee Club came out. That's the story of the five women who have been friends since high school and college. So that's the excerpt I am going to share - a part of the first chapter. But do not fear, the first chapter of My Father's Son is also started. It came out a little later, that's all.

Excerpt from The Coffee Club:
“Hey, Eden! What? Slow down. What about Freddie? No. You’re kidding. When? Yeah, I’m on my way. Is she OK?” She started towards the staircase and climbed. “Gina’s probably in court. I’ll try her. No, I’m at Loopy but I drove. I’ll try her in the car. Is that Halle I hear?” She stepped out into the street and rushed down to her car. “I’m at the car. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
She was halfway to Freddie’s house when the car phone rang. The radio went off. “Gina?”
“I’m already on my way. I was in a deposition but Halle left a very detailed message.”
“Well, then you can let me know what’s going on. I was talking to Eden and couldn’t get much out of her other than Freddie was in a bad way.”
“Isaac left.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean he left her. He didn’t come home last night. Didn’t call. She found an email from him. He left.”
“Email? He left her via email? Good God.”
“I didn’t see this coming.”
“We weren’t looking for this to come. She didn’t know she was supposed to be unhappy.
How far out are you?”
“At least thirty. Luckily traffic is light on the Ike.”
“I’ll probably beat you. See you when you get there. Bye.”


Yesterday was a fluke.
And thank God for it. After ranting on about how I called acrylic yarn fake yarn and how it wasn't fake and I was in love with the stuff - trying to convince myself it was true-I started yet another hat last night and I am happy to report:

I am so back.

The hat was knit with Norville's Chunky Weight yarn in Forest. The hat is a simple done hat with an cast off edge done in brown suede. Hat and camera downstairs - writer and computer upstairs. You'll just have to wait for the picture.

But while I was creating the cuteness, I was saying to myself: 'This yarn is so soft. It feels so good." See, the acrylic fairies (who are real and not fake fairies) are smiling down on me and welcoming me back to the fold. Of course, I also had to admit the softness was not the same feel as the natural fibers, but that's OK. It doesn't have to be the same - it just has to be soft. And it is dreamy soft. So instead of moving from one horizon to the other, I have brought those horizons together.

So, will I incorporate some natural fiber in the knitting as I suggested I might? Well, considering the yarn I got in St. Louis is natural fiber, I've already started. I actually pulled out a skein yesterday and thought it would make a great hat but decided it would make an even better scarf.
So there you go. Nor will I abandon the acrylic yarn - that stuff is good and it provides more variety for my knitting and the items I make and sell.

Whew, I am glad we can all get along.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh S *%T!

On the one hand, you might be quite proud of me - on the other, you could think me something of a traitor.

I can explain.

You see to the left a photo of the next series of hats I've completed - and there's one missing but I've already packed it away along with the purse I've completed and I didn't want to pull them out for the photo but trust me, they're cute.

The second hat from the left is halfway sold (waiting for the PayPal payment to come in and it will be on the way to New Hampshire.) But it's the hat in the middle the cute peach, fuzzy hat, that has caused the trouble.

I started that hat this morning sometime after midnight and I went stash shopping in the upstairs stash. The yarn is Sensations Bellezza Collection Dolcetto - yes, the yarn is discontinued, I bought it about three, four years ago and I've been waiting around for a time to use it. When i saw the picture of the hat, I thought of using that yarn - I could finally use at least two of the five balls I have. So out it came and I started the hat. Soft. That's what this yarn is - soft. It's 54% wool, 24% nylon and 22% cotton.

I was actually mad at myself because I got sleepy and had to finish the hat later in the morning when the sun came up.

I was working on the hat this morning when I again noticed how soft it is and I said out loud to myself:

"This yarn is so soft; this may make me give up the fake yarn."

I quickly corrected myself and said acrylic, not fake, acrylic.

Who the heck is that girl decrying acrylic yarn? I have a ton of the stuff. I mean, the city of Chicago is thinking of making me rezone the house as a commercial enterprise. I have bags and boxes of yarn that is 100% acrylic - it's even in the car trunk!

Acrylic yarn is not fake. It's real yarn. It's just manufactured from man-made materials. It's a synthetic.

I have betrayed my roots. I have turn against my belief systems.
I put the mostly natural fiber down and picked up the acrylic and apologized for my lapse. It's like when we say designers make clothes for 'real' women and not the models on the runway. Those models are real women, too. I mean they are not man-made (OK some parts are but the chassis is all natural) They're just skinny...really, really skinny. But they are not fake. And neither is my acrylic yarn.

But I had to wonder about the natural fibers. Could there be a way to incorporate some into my knitting and not feel as if I am abandoning the principals in which Narnia - I mean - my knitting was built.

I cannot be so easily persuaded that I could leave behind all that I hold dear. Do you know how much REAL acrylic yarn I have in my possession? I live on an acrylic farm - for goodness sake. I cannot possibly consider leaving it now.

Man, that yarn was soft!


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Oct 19, 2009

The infamous afghan is on hold - I needed to get more hats done. I had a special request for one and I also bought a new book a few weeks back and I wanted to get in to it. I didn't think I would be able to because it calls for nothing smaller than size 9 dpns and often wants 10 and above and I didn't think I had any - until I noticed I had a set of 10.5 dpns. I also had two coupons from JoAnn - one for 50% off one item and one for 40% off one item - so after church (found a new church!) the car found it's way to the JoAnn Superstore where I purchased a set of size 9 dpns and a set of size 13 dpns - I figured with the 10.5 set I was good to go because if the pattern called for a set of 11, I could counter with the 10.5. So I opened the book yesterday and there are now two more hats (in addition to the special request hat.)

Yes, I bought yarn - OK, you pulled it out of me. The Deborah Norville chunky weight yarn was on sale 2 skeins for $5 - it makes great hats so there are now 16 skeins of it in the trunk of the car.
Don't you dare tell. To distract you, I am going to show you the top ten selections for this week - and we are again going to different places to find them because Chicago artisans are all over the city and all over the web. So here, in no particular order, are the Chicago Top Ten:

Fly Away earrings
from cutejewels
These are unusual and quite cute - so her shop is correctly named!

Eat, Drink and be Married by orangebeautful
The entire shop has some interesting items and with over 1700 sales, they certainly have an appeal. I loved this because I think it would make a great cover for a wedding invitation or for an anniversary party. Mr. Honey and I will be celebrating our 14th and this makes me want to throw a party.

7up Pound Cake Soap by dirty loves clean
This caught my eye because I thought it was an actual 7up pound cake and I had never heard of such a thing. Then when I looked closer, I saw it's a bar of soap, and then when I read the ingredients, it made the list!

Crow Dress by devotees
Got to love the creativity of this. Go to the thrift store where you can find lots of things on the cheap, take them home and put your own mark on it and make it into a piece of wearable art. That's creativity, recycling and the business spirit rolled into one. And this dress is just plain cute!

Carpe Diem pin by Michell Kaffko
There's a little bit more to it than that - just as there are to all her pins. You should check them out for a good chuckle.

Somehow, when I wasn't looking, we passed by the 300th entry for the blog. On the one hand, that's a great accomplishment - on the other, I was hoping to have 300 in the year and I don't think that's going to happen. But I will not sit on the negative. I will focus on the fact that we've been together long enough to have something to talk about 300 times - I'm not sure I talk to Mr. Honey that often!

But I digress - on to the second half of the list!

Get Well Card by RebeCards
This was so clever it made me go 'duh' when I saw it. Of course, a get well card should look like this. Points to Rebecards for having the brains to do it!

Owl Earrings by amyleejewelry
Very retro-fresh! These appeal to me because of their simple elegance.

Pocket Tote by Besu
Just when you thought I wasn't going to have a tote bag on the list...

Vest by Posh Pig Vintage
I couldn't wear it, but I'd sure want to.

Slouch Beret
by Rotten Cupcakes
OK, I admit this made the list because it's something I haven't mastered yet and want to. I think slouchy berets are cool. She's doing something I cannot d0 - inspirational, that's what that is!

And there you have it - a very different sort of list, don't you think? I mean, yeah, it has the tote bag and earrings, but there's something different about it at the same time. Getting close to Christmas - buy something handmade for someone - even for yourself. It's a great thing to do to get something unique and with such positive potential for so many.

OK, just think about it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shop Profile - Helen's Handbags

Helen's Handbags has been on Etsy since February of 2008.

Y'all know how much I loves me the tote bags. Thank goodness Helen doesn't have a store front, I'd be drooling all over her stuff and she would have to throw me out. I mean, look at this:

This is a bag made from an old sweater. The bag is cool on its own but then you learn of it parentage and you think 'Way Cool' OK, I think 'way cool' but I know you think something that's like it - cuz it is way cool.

The thing is, she does have her own studio in Natick, MA, so if I wanted a drool opportunity, I could take one. This would be worth a trip to New England - and I haven't been to NE in about 30 years so a trip isn't completely out of the question.

The girl is recycling genius. I don't know about you, but I couldn't take an old suede vest and make this. Come on, now. You have to admit that is cute and what a way to recycle; not to mention how soft it must be.

She has some great designs in her shop, but on the off chance you don't find what you need or want, you can visit her website and create your own bag. That's right - you get options! It's the chance to dip your toes in the creative pool - jump on it, the water's always fine.

One of the things I love about exploring different shops, especially those who work a different craft than mine, is to be inspired to do something in my craft from what I see in that shop. Helen has given me ideas on knitted bags I can make. So many artists have inspired me that I have started an ideas notebook so I don't lose what they've given me - it's a gift they don't even know they give, but a gift nonetheless and shouldn't be wasted.

When it comes time to show Mr. Honey what he can get me for my birthday and Christmas, Helen's store will be on the list. I hope you go there, too, but keep your mitts off the sweater bag, that one's mine.

Profiling stores and artists.
There's always amble chances for shopping throughout the year. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Bosses' Day even Secretary's Day - is a chance to make a purchase and show someone you care. But once the calendar hits October, the big shopping rush is on - Thanksgiving and most especially Christmas are big gift giving opportunities.
As someone who has decided handmade gifts are the way to go, I make a list every week of Chicago artists I think are worthy of attention - but you're not all in Chicago and Chicago isn't the only place that has great stuff. So, from time to time, I am going to give more than a mention to a shop that is doing some very nice work. I'll be scouring Etsy, Dawanda, Artfire and Mixxmade for people and places I think are fun, impressive and make me go aaahhhhh.

Why am I going to do this? Several reasons:
  1. I would want someone to do this for me. As a shop owner, I would love it if someone found my work worthy of mention...and then mentioned it. Not everyone is interested in just knitting (though the best of us are interested in it) there are other things to be explored.

  2. It's the right thing to do. The truth of it is - handmade things can often be more expensive than mass manufactured items. But just as often, the handmade items are better crafted, have less environmental impact, uses higher quality materials and are more unique. In short, it's worth it, but if folks can't see all the options they have, they won't take them.

  3. It's a good break from the everyday stuff. You get to look at some great pictures and pretty items and read about something (and someone) other than me. I would like this place to be a place people are glad to be featured.

There are probably other reasons, but I'm a tired of listing them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Maybe Later...

I was lying bed this morning...reading a novel. That felt really good. A nice way to wake up. Well, actually, I woke up thinking about how old I was and how my body was acting older than my age when I told myself 'Not really, you're middle aged.'

Good to know I can pump myself up.

I picked up the book and started reading and that made me feel a little better. I check the clock and it was before 8am and i told myself I needed to get up to take my walk. Three blocks east then turn around and walk three blocks west and I should be back where I started. Actually looking forward to the walk because the joints are a little stiff - did I mention I am middle aged? And getting them moving will make me feel better.

I have to stop off at the bathroom - it's something middle aged folks have to do - any sudden move causes the need for a bathroom and apparently getting up is a sudden move. While I am in the bathroom, I hear noises from outside which sounds suspiciously like water falling from the sky. I open up the bathroom window which brings in a rush of air which automatically means the dog must come in and investigate. He sniffs the air for a few seconds, declares it good, and then walks around in the way that he does when he decides he needs to go out.

We go downstairs and I decide I want him inside the house before I go on my walk. One, because it is still relatively early in the day and he has a habit of barking like a maniac and I will be three blocks away and two, because if he's barking I want that to double as a deterrent to anyone thinking it would be a good idea to try and get into the premises while I am three blocks away.
While waiting for him to conclude his business, I pick up the special order hat I am knitting. I have someone who wants to be Waldo from Where's Waldo and asked me to knit the hat. It is 2x2 ribbing so it will be stretchy but it looks a little small, I protect the stitches and pull the hat (which is mostly brim) onto my head. It's a little tight. But I have a big head. It will probably be fine for a more normal headed person. I continue knitting thinking I will try it out on one of the mannequins and see how tight it is on one of them. I continue knitting.

and I notice it.

Two purl stitches where two knit stitches should be -
Will it be hidden by the brim when I fold it up?

Is it likely they will even notice it?

I continue knitting.

I notice it. I cannot live with it. It glares at me as if taunting me with questions about my integrity.

I rip it out. It is the right thing to do and since it was also a little tight, I might as well go back to the very beginning and add a few more stitches to make it more comfortable for my big head even though the client probably has a normal sized head and who knows what size head the 'real' Waldo has.

So, I start over.
When the dog reminds me he's ready to come in and I have a walk to take.

I let the dog in and put on my sneakers to go for my walk.

Oh yeah, stepping outside reminds me
There's water falling from the sky.
I don't feel like taking a walk in the rain, even if it's slightly more than a drizzle.

Middle aged women with big heads who have to start a hat over shouldn't also have to walk in the rain. Nor should they have these feelings of guilt for not taking the walk in that little spattering of rain. I can workout indoors, I tell myself. Perhaps if I knock out the hat, the rain will cease and I can take my walk then.

Yeah, sure. At least the book is good.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Infamous Afghan and A Book Review (Kind of)

Infamous. Yes, I have given the afghan wip the title of infamous. You recall I told you there was a problem with skein and the afghan was a, let me see if I can quote myself: 'a friggin' lot of work.'

I admit I did not spend as much time knitting yesterday as I normally do - I don't know what I did between hour 23 and 24 of the day - oh wait, I sold an afghan yesterday and I had to ship it off to New York! Yeah, me!!) But even so, I know I spent some time knitting and it doesn't look much longer than when I took this picture. So I didn't bother taking another picture so as not to give witness to the progress I did not make. I believe I have only three color changes about the blue (that's really purple - what is it with digital cameras not photographing purple - can someone tell me?)

The good news is I got so tired dealing with the messed up skein that I finally took the (great deal of) time to pull the end out of the skein. I found the end that supposed to be on the outside and I pulled it to the outside and now I can't find the end that goes on the inside but I can unroll the skein from the outside - just like I used to do. I put the skein in a bag and now I'm a happier knitter.

(By the way, this is the afghan that sold. I was thinking it would never leave me to go to another home, but it's going to the Big Apple and from there, I have no idea. But you see the panel to the right? That's actually purple - it looks blue and the second panel from the left is deeper purple - geez!)

Anyway, the infamous afghan is reminding me of one of the ski sweaters which is why I am continuing work on it. I believe it will be stunning when complete - and since it calls for 30 different color changes, it will be quite the stash buster. I am pulling out another skein with each color change - and because black is tying them all together, color matching is pretty easy because almost anything will go. That's a fun aspect.

Don't want you to think I'm not having a good time - I am. Sometimes this kind of impatience is a knitting tool!

Remember I told you about Lori's Reading Corner and how it moved me to want to pick up a book? I picked one up: The True Darcy Spirit by Elizabeth Aston. She 'specializes' in writing novels about the relatives of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pride and Prejudice. The first novel of hers I attempted to read was Mr. Darcy's Daughters. I couldn't get through it. Because she seemed so far off base of what their daughters would be like and what Elizabeth and Darcy would be like that it made no sense for me.

I often wondered what happened to the characters. Were Elizabeth/Darcy and Jane/Bingley happy? Who married that bi-ach Miss Bingley (I would love to read the exit of Miss Bingley from the house where Jane would now be the mistress.) What would have changed had Mary married Mr. Collins?

I was interested in reading about the characters but it didn't sit comfortably with me in that particular book and also the style of writing tried to hard to capture how Austen wrote. The thing about Austen's writing was she was writing in the style of the day so it's completely natural for her. Not so much for Aston. But what about The True Darcy Spirit?

So far, I'm liking it. The style of writing has changed to that of a historical novel and not one so much trying to be a novel written back then. So the tone is lighter and more natural and that makes her characters easier to breathe in. I'm not completely done with it, but I'm liking how much easier this book is. I am glad I gave her a second chance. And I'm thankful to Lori for inspiring me to take up a book again - somehow it's not a stretch that a knitter also likes to read. In fact, a lot of knitters I know also like to read.

This has caused the creative juices to flow - two weeks from today I will be having another contest that combines reading and knitting. In other words, I will be putting together a prize package that includes a book, yarn and needles. I need the two weeks to decide which book, yarn and needles to give away.

Now, if you will excuse me - I have the next five hours free before I have to do my second workout of the day - I am going to knit and read!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Deviant In Me

This is the current WIP:
Let me say a couple of things:
1. It's a lot more colorful in person - though it's mighty colorful in the photo.

2. I realize it is not a hat. The general concept of it can be made into a hat. I have even though about incorporating the general concept into a hat but in it's current (and intended) state. This is an afghan. Looking at it from a distance, it looks like there's a lot of work going on to make it look all woven and stuff.

3. This afghan is a friggin' lot of work. Not made easier by the fact that the skein of yarn sitting at the back of the WIP has some how become entangled inside the skein so I have to stop every so often and do a detangle while the work in progress is in progress. This has sometimes met cutting and putting back together. This has never happened before that the yarn was tangled by a means that was not my doing.

Some where in the process of making a skein the skein making machine put both ends of the yarn on the inside. Usually, there's a end string inside so you can pull from within the skein and there's one on the outside so your yarn can roll around collecting dirt and dog hair, if that's your knitting preference. This skein has both end pieces in the same end. No, I did not notice, I trusted the yarn. Silly me.

4. I'm pretty sure I'm not following the pattern anymore. I didn't understand one of the instructions the first time around (no, I don't really read the pattern through before I start. I give it a cursory glance to see if there's something difficult that sticks out and to see what I'm going to change when I get going. What, you don't do that?)

On the other hand, I did get it reading it the third time and I will incorporate what it says during the next color change because it seems pretty nifty.

This is called design features and we will discuss that in detail at a later date.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blog review: Lori's Reading Corner

One of my favorite professors in college (Aurora College 1980) was Donald Fuller. He was one of my literature professors and he was the guy with the glasses and bow tie and pushed out teeth who was adroit and supportive and wonderful. I remember a while back after I graduated from college, I was in Aurora for a visit and I saw him at the train station and we chatted.

I told him I was working at Encyclopedia Britannica and they had a collection of books called The Great Books and I was just itching to have that collection of books. Dr. Fuller said to me that he knew I loved reading (after all, I majored in Lit) but I was one of those people who liked to be surrounded by books even if I didn't read them.

I did not take offense because he's right. I do love having books around me. Just as I love having yarn around me. When I love something, I tend to do a little compulsive hoarding. But I do love reading (just as I love knitting) and though knitting has usurped some of my reading time, I still love to pick up a book. I love the feel of a book in my hands so a Kindle would not be a good gift for me - a gift certificate to Borders or Barnes & Noble would send me into spasms - good spasms!

I was thrilled when I ran across Lori's Reading Corner. Girl makes me want to pick up a book right now. And I would have, except I had to write about her blog before I got lost in a book. There are books on my shelf I have never even cracked open (giving credence to Dr. Fuller's observation) and I admit to loving romance novels, even though I also like contemporary fiction. I don't do too well with the high brow fiction and I touch Science Fiction every now and then and historical fiction is a close second to the romances.

Lori has a Teaser Tuesday, where you right an excerpt from the current book you're reading. It's a great thing - that's why I almost went to pick up my book - the book I'm currently reading is The Friday Night Knit Club. I just started it - still in the first chapter - so I wanted to go upstairs and get it and participate. I can still do it as long as there's a Tuesday, but I thought what a great idea to get teasers of books.

The entire blog is corner to corner books and I'm thinking she'll be a great resource when I get ready to put my own books out there in the atmosphere. I need to get her in my corner - or I need to sit more in her corner. I did sign up to follow her blog - OK, I entered her contest, too, she's giving away the next book in the Friday Night Knit Club series. You still have a couple of days to enter.

I love this blog because it reminds me of a library: books everywhere with room to explore each one at your leisure while you decide which one you want to take home. I also love it because it's clear she loves books and she makes me miss reading. Where can i fit it in? Do I dare let reading take back some of the time knitting took from it? Can I read something unrelated to knitting?
Oh dear, the choices.

Isn't that great? Stop by Lori's Reading Corner and see for yourself.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Oct 12, 2009

I woke up this morning with a headache - the kind that tells me my blood pressure was a little high - so I took a walk. A workout makes everything better - which is why I should do more of them. And I do feel better! It was a very short walk, but enough to get me breathing deeply and working up a sweat and when everything calmed down, the headache has abated - it's still there, but it isn't as bad as it was. I am determined never to need blood pressure meds again. I don't want to be dependent.

You know what else makes me feel better? Looking at the shops to see what the local artists have been up to. And we're doing something a little different - we're branching out past Etsy. There are other sites to purchase quality, handmade goods and it's only right to reach out all over the city wherever they can be found - so, in no particular order (and from no one particular site) is this week's Chicago Top Ten:

Newsboy baseball cap from Annie Fanny's Attic.
I love this cap. In fact, I have sections of a baseball cap on my blocking board. Nice to see one way it can look when it's done.

Green amethyst earrings
by beaded bauble
I'm telling ya, the new haircut brings out the desire for earrings that can make a statement on their own - and these do!

Margarita soap by epically epic
I just discovered key lime pie - I thought it would be more tart than it is and I like it a lot. This reminded me of the piece I had last Thursday (not that I go around eating soap - you understand.)

Victoria's Revenge
by Life'sanexpedition
I don't know about revenge, but this reminded me of a Monet watercolor. Revenge is sweet!

Heart pendant
by Glass Cat
It's colorful and cute and I have just the top to show it off well!

I wanted to let you know there are some new things coming to the blog: instead of doing a blog shout out during the Top Ten list - I'm going to start doing a whole blog entry about a blog (or blogger) I want you to know about.

There will also be reviews of knitting books (I have a ton of them and want to review them and give them away!)

Along with blog shout outs, there will be posts about shops that go more in depth than the top ten list.

Lastly, I will start running excerpts from the books I am working on to tease, entertain and get feedback from you.

I'm hoping these new features will make you happier - and bring new readers, too! Now, back to the list!

Recipe Cards Set by TerriTaylorDesign
A perfect reply to someone when they say 'Bite me' - you can hand them this card with a recipe on it.

Bronze statue
by Pixie Cat Studios
Given the news about Chicago cemeteries, lately, this photo is compelling and disturbing.

Chocolate with sprinkles dress
by poshpipsqueak
She's done it again. This dress is adorable. It's too cold to wear it now, but it's a lovely and fun outfit for the little missy!

Carnelian earrings by jpgemenergy
The designer makes jewelry with a purpose. These are for vitality. So she says. I say these are to make me look too cute! Wait. Same thing.

Unicorn brooch by Spinal Fusion
Anything with unicorns...good!

Wow, the list went fast this week. That's good considering I'm not feeling 100% and I looked over more shops than usual. Sometimes having too many choices isn't always the best thing - it can clog the decision making process, but under these circumstances, when there are so many artists who need the encouragement, I just find this a great way to spend an hour.

I hope you take some time to visit handmade artisans. And I hope you decide to purchase at least some handmade goods this holiday season. Mr. Honey doesn't know it yet, but all our gifts this season will come from a handmade artisan. I think it has more meaning and more impact - and it's good karma!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Don't Fight The Feeling

I was having a conversation with myself last night. It was very brief. I had stopped working on a scarf because I just wasn't feeling it. You know how that goes, you cast on and you start knitting and you don't get that great feeling of working towards something and getting excited seeing it develop before your eyes and wanting to see it when it's done.

I wasn't getting any of that. So I pulled it off the needles and rewound it to the skein and started working on a bag.

Did you notice I didn't say I started working on a hat?
I noticed it and that's when the conversation with myself

"I guess the hat phase is over?" I asked myself, because I didn't know.
"Oh no!" The reply was quick. "You're enjoying making the hats. You really are."
"Wow, OK then. I just wanted to know."

"No, there are two more hats in the stable. You just finished one today. You were working on it at Pleasant Home. But that bag is just so cute, you have to make it."
"So, just so I'm sure; I'm going to make the bag and then go back to making hats."
"Yes, you may divert to something else - and don't forget you committed to making a la de da afghan, but hats are your thing."
"Hmmmph, if you say so."

I cannot account for enjoying the hat making so much. I've now done more than a dozen hats and I am not yet
bored with the process and when I try to talk myself into being bored, myself isn't having it. What is this?

I c
ertainly don't want to talk myself out of fun, but I cannot account for this new area of focus. But i will not fight it - what would be the point? It's a heady feeling and that's one of the things we love about the craft. We get that heady feeling of fun and accomplishment blended with mind clearing and relaxation. Why ruin the moment by thinking too much? Isn't that what I said Chantal was doing? I'm her teacher - I should lead by example.

It looks like I'll be taking tomorrow off so I look forward to seeing you all on Monday for the new Top Ten list. I'm headed over to an estate/yard sale because the listing mentioned crafts. (This is April's fault - she has me looking at listings ever since we went to that one estate sale - my friends are such enablers - I love them for it!)


Friday, October 9, 2009

I Can Explain

I can explain what happened..and when I do it will make all kinds of sense, but before I do I want to share the teaching experience:

First, let say I am not one of those who thinks everyone should knit. In fact, I do not think everyone should knit because then there would be no one to buy what I knit. So I think some of us should knit and the others should buy what those who knit make.

However, if someone thinks they have the knitting bug, I believe it is my duty to encourage and even teach them how to put stick to string and make a series of loops that will eventually look like a scarf or whatever the pattern says those loops should look like.

Chantal is a new member of StitchCraft and she is learning how to knit. And she actually has the technique down and then she does the thing that is the biggest problem for a new knitter:
she thinks too much about it. She will actually place the right hand needle in the loop on the left needle, wrap the yarn around, get the right hand needle half way through the loop and then stop herself because she thinks it's wrong. And she won't believe me when I tell her it's right. If I'm watching her, she does it perfectly, when I turn around, she creates a problem for herself by thinking about it too much.

She's completely adorable.

By the end of today's session, I think we are on the way for her just relaxing into it. I have found that new knitters who have trouble getting into the flow have that problem because they somehow feel the need to control the process. They want so badly for there to be more to it than there is. Really.

1. Place stick in loop.
2. Wrap yarn around right stick.
3. Move right stick from the back to the front, catching yarn wrapped around stick to form new loop.
4. Move new loop from left stick to right stick, dropping old loop off left stick.

That's all there is to the fire.

While we were having our lesson I was thinking back to the days when I was learning how to knit in class at school. I tried to remember if I had a hard time with it. As I recall, I didn't catch on totally but I got it eventually. I don't remember where I was having the problem but I knew I was able to come home and do it - I think one of my sisters knew how to knit and also showed me a little - that part is blurry.

I am determined Chantal will learn how to knit because she wants to learn and I will show her. But more important, I want her to rely on her own approval so she can enjoy herself when she's by herself and she doesn't need someone to watch her and so she doesn't get uptight in her own company. There's certainly things to think about in knitting, but it's a lot easier when you let the knitting process carry you when it can. It's relaxing when you allow it to have its own way. Then you work with it and it carries you off to the good place where knitters go. I want her to get there on her own ticket. The good news is that she's a good sport and determined. She'll get there.

OK, let me explain how come I came home with 20 skeins of yarn:

Someone mentioned they needed a certain size circular needle.
I mentioned Chix With Stix has needles in the back of the store for a smaller price than the ones they sell in the front of the store.
We are about five minutes from Chix with Stix
While we are still knitting the woman who for the past two years has purchased my big la de da afghans at the Holiday store walks in and asks me if I have her afghan already done this year.
I confess to her that I was thinking about her the other day because I do not have a big la de da afghan, I made it and gave it to my nephew and his wife. But since the sale is in December, there is still time to make one. She says the people she has given those afghans to really appreciate them, especially her very crafty mother who said she can tell love and effort has gone into them.

(Sniff, sniff, smile) Thank you, thank you so much. I make the promise to begin work on big la de da afghan.

You're starting to come on board, right?

We travel to Chix With Stix, we go to the back to look at needles when Melissa points out the clearance section in the store.

I go over and see Ella Rae Amity Yarn (75% acrylic 25% wool - 200 yards to the skein.) There are loads of colors - beautiful colors. Colors I like marked at $5 per skein. Then April points to the sign that says it's 40% off. I ask the woman at the store 40% off the $5 price?

Yes, she says.
I ain't no mathematician but that sure sounds like $3 for the solids and $3.30 for the variegated.
La de da, says I. Wait. La de da yarn. La de da afghan.

Now, aren't you asking how come I came home with just the 20? It would have been more but I didn't like the other colors and I bought them out of all the colors I did like.
Doesn't it make sense to you?

I called Mr. Honey from the car - forgiveness is sometimes preferable over permission. I explained it to him and you know what he said:




Thursday, October 8, 2009

And the lids just keep on coming...

Jewellshandmade sent me a tweet asking if I was blessed with being a fast knitter. (You can find me on Twitter under designbcb!) And I responded to her that I was. That in the past couple of weeks - about four - I have completed a shawl, an afghan, eleven hats and four scarves.

Any normal thinking person would think that's a lot. And most days - at least part of most days - I would call myself normal thinking. However when it comes to the time right before a sale, my normal thinking is replaced with a tad of the A.B. Normal thinking because the
blessing of being a fast knitter is influenced by the curse of being a paranoid shop participant.

I always think there will not be enough to go on sale. I thought that way when my group participated in the sales at the church and I think that way since we will be at the holiday shop at Pleasant Home again this year. Now understand, that at these sales, I usually contributed a lot and as I look around the living room and dining room, I notice I have a HUGE duffel bag, a large bin and a storage bag full of items that are in the shop and will be on the table in the holiday sale. A quick calculation will tell me I have nearly 70 items all my own and the sale isn't until December and unless there's a run on the shop, I will have items enough - plus there are other members of the group who will contribute items of their own. I then say to myself I have some items I asked the old group to return to me and I have to pick them up from the friend who was kind enough to get them for me. (I am hoping they have enough integrity to return all my items) and that will give me even more. I should not worry.

All this I tell myself. I also keep in mind that we've never sold out.
But the worry happens all the time. I think I'd worry if I didn't worry about it.

So, there are more hats
and scarves...somehow scarves made it in. OK, I admit, I almost talked myself into being bored with doing just hats so I thought I would throw in some scarves just to keep myself from totally abandoning the plan. But the thing is: I wasn't bored with the hats. While I was doing the scarves, I was thinking about the next hat I could about that for a turnaround?

During our play date, Melissa asked if I ever thought of opening a fiber shop (nope). I have thought about have a very nice space where groups
can come and sit, knit and do other crafts. I suppose we can add the sale of fibers in there, but no, being a fiber shop owner has never crossed my mind. (BTW, Melissa, we should do that again. I'd even be willing to go the same place. Just let me know!)

I think I'm too cheap to have a yarn shop. I would be worried about having yarn that was over about $15 a skein. Then there's all the taxes and stuff. Yikes. I don't have the mindset for it.

Speaking of hats and fibers - A long while back, I purchased some of Deborah Norville's chunky weight yarn and as I was finishing up a scarf at about 1 this morning, I thought I would go down to the basement and pull out that yarn to make the next hat in my head. I think I have about five skeins total and actually found three of them in the same bin. I put it on the needles and started the hat.

I don't much care for Inside Edition but the yarn is great! It's called fine
acrylic (la de da) and it's really soft and knits like a fluffy dream. I didn't even get upset when 15 rows into the hat I realized I was doing the wrong stitch - meant I could start again!

After searching for a chunky weight yarn I could love, I believe the search is over. Now, the colors she offers aren't the best, but I can work with it. My birthday is next month - I know what I'll be getting during the Hobby Lobby shopping spree. I think they sell i
t - if they don't, Michael's does. Hey, 98% of the stash is worsted weight and a knitter needs to have a back up fiber and for me, it's chunky weight. Some of you love sock yarn and i don't. I want the worsted, chunky and super chunky. What was missing for me was the chunky weight and I may have found some thing to fill the need. Let us take a moment to rejoice.

Thank you.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Wedding

Still don't have a photo of Robert & Laura but what else is new? There was a very cute, touching moment. Let's set it up with starting at the rehearsal:

Laura was practicing the vows and she and her mom started crying - during the rehearsal. We all laughed and said they were getting it out of their systems and they would be fine the next day when it really counted. (Why doesn't it count during the rehearsal? I mean, it happened the exact same way - one would think it would count. It was said in front of folks and the promises were made. Just something to think on.)

Anyway, we got to the big day. I was nervous singing (my music shook for the first few bars - something my music director was happy to point out to me.) I digress. We got to the part where she was saying her vows - this time for real - and she broke down in tears - I mean they could have used that water in a California brush fire. Tears were everywhere. She barely got out the first line and she had to stop.

The minister told her to take her time. Her mother, from her seat, called out 'Just breathe, honey.' We called the Kleenex folks for backup. The service came to a halt while we waited her out. And while she was pulling herself together, she squeaked out, clear for everyone to hear:

"This doesn't mean no!"

That knocked us all out. It took another moment or two, but she came through like a woman who wasn't going to leave without her man. When it came time for Robert, he had to hold a rather tight grip on his tear ducts as well but he came through without another rain delay.

After the service, when I saw them in the narthex, I walked up to them and said: "You know you'll need a lawyer now."

Cuz I'm supportive like that. I said that to Mr. Honey when we were at the altar. And he looked at me and said: 'That won't be necessary.'

For Robert and Laura, for Lily and Jeremy - I pray it won't be necessary for them, either.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Oct 5, 2009

I would have had the list up earlier, but Melissa and I had a play date at the Barnes & Noble in Skokie. We sat, knit and yakked for about four hours. I bought a book of hat patterns (cuz I haven't done enough with hats yet. There are five more done along with two scarves!) Mellisa brought her felted hat (cute!) and is working on her second mitten. She's on her way to knitting goddess status.

But that's not why you're here - you're here to see the funky-fresh stuff I selected this week. And so, in no particular order, is this week's top ten:

Color Block by Camillestar
I looked at this and thought it would make a cool every day bag - I didn't even think of it as a knitting bag - until right now. It would make a cool knitting bag, too.

Buttercream Snikerdoodle soap by kamali2029
It looks like some fun soap - and how often do you get to say that when you're not seven years old?

Peridot by earthstreasure
drool....excuse me....drool

Black and Gold Bracelet by uncharted
Yes, I like bracelets, too, but they have to be special..and this one is.

Turquoise earrings
by walkerstudios
These would go great with the new haircut. It would show them off quite nicely.

This week's shout out goes to Melissa et. al. at Giftzandgreetingz. They have some really fun stuff - check out card candy and the eco-friendly cards and bookmarks! High impact to whomever you're writing - low impact on the environment! It's a win-win!

Tree of Life pendant by katherinesbeads
Sometimes you just like something and you don't know why. This reminds me of a big silver dollar and I think it would be really cool to have this on a long chain to wear as a necklace.

Brass Fall Nest Necklace by greylakes
The shape is unusual and if you have a vee-neck sweater and any kind of a bust line (and I have) this will be a conversation starter.

Cherry Red Necklace by Bohemienne
I have a pair of earrings these would go with beautifully. I tell ya, short hair means jewelry!

Black and Blue blanket by erink745
Take the trip without doing the drugs! This is psychedelic!

Kawaii patchwork pinafore by littlelily
How retrofresh is this for your little one? Colorful, funky with a touch of old school. She should have fun wearing it!

How different was this list, huh? Some new shops I've never visited and I am, as always, impressed with what's sitting in my own backyard. Holiday shopping this season will be fun because everything is coming from one of this local, handmade artisans. I'm really excited to be bringing business to them and quality items to my family.

You go browsing too and see if something doesn't catch your eye!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

I'm going to delay the Top Ten list for one day because today is my mother's birthday. She would have been seventy-nine years old. The one thing I miss most in the world is having a parent. Both of mine are gone and I'm sure I would give a lot to have one of them here.

My mom and I spoke every week - every Monday to be exact. Even if we spoke at different times during the week, Monday at 10:00am was a fixture from the time they moved to Phoenix to the night before she passed.

Did I ever tell you the story? Mr. Honey and I were newly engaged when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April. The doctors told her she probably had about six months to live. Which meant she might not make it to her birthday - and she definitely would not make it to our wedding which was set for May of the next year.

My mother, very calmly, informed her doctors that she had a daughter who was to be married next May and did they have any idea how long she'd been waiting for that? She would not be missing that wedding day.

Mr. Honey and I offered to move up the wedding day and even offered to have it in Phoenix. She said no - keep the date, keep the place. We told her we would provide whatever she needed medically - special chairs, nurse, whatever.

She said there would be no need. She would be fine.

The six months passed..then the seventh and the eighth. The doctors did a routine scan to check the progress of the cancer...

It was gone.

They redid the scan.


I made her send me a copy of the report so I could read it for myself. It said they could see no evidence of the cancer. That was in December.

She walked into my wedding under her own strength and you had to look really hard to see that she had been sick. She didn't even lose her hair with the chemo. She kept her promise.

She started feeling ill that winter and another scan showed the cancer had come back and spread through her body. I spoke with her on a Sunday night and she sounded just fine she said she knew this was going to end her life but she thought she had a long time to go. I didn't. But I didn't want to share that instinct with her. If she thought she had a long time, she had already proved the doctors wrong. I told her I would call her tomorrow for our regular chat.

The next day, a little before ten, I reached for the phone and something told me I didn't need to call cause no one was home. So I didn't call. When I got home that evening, Mr. Honey told me my father had called me. I called back and he told me 'Mom was gone." Talking to my brother, Mom collapsed a little before ten.

Mom and I talked about her service. She planned the service. She and my niece went to the cemetery and picked out the spot she wanted. She took care of most of the details and paid for everything (she even got a discount for my father's eventual service.) We talked about what she wanted to wear. She picked out everything but the scripture and songs - she let us do something!

During her service, her pastor turned to me and said. "She stayed for you. She wanted to be at your wedding." She never asked to be cured - though she would have taken it, I'm sure. But she told me she wasn't worried about me any more. (She loved her some Mr. Honey and he loved her.)

My Mom taught me a lot of things. My best and my worst lessons came from her, but I can honestly say she was a great Mom. She developed a sense of humor that I don't remember her having when I was younger. She was loyal to her family and faithful to God and the best thing she ever said to me was that she raised three of her best friends. (There were five of us - three daughters - sorry, boys.) How cool is that - to have your Mom think of you as a best friend?

Happy birthday, Mommy.
I miss you so much.


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