Friday, November 26, 2010


We got through the second leg of the holiday season stuffed with food but no worse for wear. (The first leg was Halloween.) We were at Mr. Honey's brother's home. Norm and MaryKay cooked a feast. There was turkey, ham, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, smoked and fresh sausage, dressing, green bean casserole, breads and wines by the orchard. Now on Mr. Honey's side of the family there is Mr. Honey, his sister and brother and between them there are eight children. But MaryKay has a host of sisters and brothers - somewhere between 11-15, and they have children who have children - so you can imagine. They are a very nice and fun bunch and I really enjoy being around them because they've known Mr. Honey since grade school and high school so they can tell stories. (Alas, Mr. Honey does not have a dark side.)

At the moment I am in the house alone. Duke is in the backyard barking at some imaginary intruder or a squirrel. Mr. Honey went to work and I haven't seen him today.

Here's the thing about being alone. I am happy to be alone at the moment. There is the clicking of the keyboard and the music playing on the laptop (currently 'I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool')and I feel as if I am getting my bearings and catching my breath before I continue making squares for the bedspread. The quiet is great.

I was feeling a little lonely last night in the midst of the Thanksgiving crowd. I have a few smatterings of cousins in Illinois but no one close to me lives in the state. I would have to go to Maryland, Colorado, Arizona or Washington state to find a first line relative. This is the first season I can remember feeling this way. The kid was the last one to leave home and she's been gone for a few years so it's not like it's new to me but that feeling was new to me.

I am grateful to have Mr. Honey's family around - his sister's kids especially are a hoot but I am longing a bit for my own family and the zaniest that is uniquely ours when we get together. The next chance of that appears to be the April time frame when all the educators (6) in the family will be on break and we can convene in Phoenix (that's where 1 brother and 1 sister lives and our parents are buried.)

The gratitude for my own family is assisting in the tiny blue feeling I have. I miss Mom and Dad and the wonderful dinners we would have around Thanksgiving and Christmas: Turkey with dressing and cranberry sauce, chitterlings or chittlins, spaghetti, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, chocolate cake, gingerbread and pound cake - no liquor, we don't come from drinkers.

i am so grateful and happy for those of you who still have parents and grandparents to share food, love and laughter with during this time of the year. It is one of the things we tell our children to appreciate but we don't really come into full grown appreciation until we have no other choice but memories. For all the ups and downs that come with being a child, a sibling, a parent, cousin or aunt or uncle, considering where we all are today, nothing would be changed - except for having the elders around the table a little bit longer.

Mr. Honey walked in the door with my birthday present - I wanted a craft lamp for Christmas and my laptop expanded for my birthday but they were reversed and he came in with a craft lamp to beat all craft lamps - there's a funny story attached to it which I will tell you about later but the lamp needs to be assembled and that's going to be my task. So I will get to it and then use it for the making of squares.

Hope the attitude of gratitude stays with you this weekend along with family and friends and a bunch of good memories in the making.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Make The Bed, Duh.

Yes, you've seen this photo before - I don't have a new one to show you. I do want to say I took the swatch to the store to match up (the swatch on the right) and dark brown is the best background and now there are ten of those little squares made. And I started yesterday afternoon - not bad at all.

Today I am working on another square afghan but this one is all one color. I received a couple of questions at the last craft show whether the afghans would fit a twin bed. It was a little short but since I got the question more than once, I thought it was a sign. This sign was affirmed by the fact we currently have a hand made crocheted bedspread on our full size bed. One of the women in my late mother's-in-law group made it. And I got it for all of $40. That was years ago and it has stood up against the test of time.

I looked up the measurements of bed sizes and found I was really close to the standard sizes - one more column or two more rows and we've got ourselves some bedding. I know my tendency is to go inside my head and project this idea far off into the distance and then not do it because something else has captured my attention - so I won't do that. I will leave it at the afghan I am working on now has squares that are coming out ten inches square so making a 6x7 afghan will be big enough for a twin and full size bed - and the color - a nice cranberry - with some texture to the squares - will come out very nicely indeed. Three squares are already done and the fourth is on the needles.

I should also make good progress with the granny square afghan - which will be 80 squares and not big enough to fit on a bed - work will resume on that tomorrow. Since all the squares are the same, there's no design layout to worry about so putting it together can start tomorrow as well.

I have to go and get myself ready for the knitting group this evening. I have a couple of folks coming over. Melissa is supposed to give me a tutorial on making linings but I might put that off because I want to work on stuff for the show. (We can do it another time, Melissa, don't give me that face!)

I also have to make some seven layer bars. They are going to be my snack for tonight and tomorrow. Hey, we're supposed to have knitting in our hands.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Ugly Duckling In the Window

Have you ever gotten hold of a skein of yarn and thought, 'Man, that's ugly?' But since you have a hold of it and it's yours (either by design or accident or someone playing a trick on you) you decide to swatch it up to see what happens and it comes out kinda....pretty.

Those are what I call Ugly Duckling yarns. It doesn't look all that great at first glance but then it takes off the glasses and lets down the hair and you look at it and say, "By Gosh, you're beautiful!"

So it was with the skein on the right and when I pulled it and made the granny square, I thought, boy this is better than it looks. The picture does not do it justice and it feels good to the touch as well. The photo doesn't do justice to the other square at either. The skein was always pretty but it squared up even better than I thought. I was thinking of combining the two into the same afghan but decided they would do better on their own. The one on the left would do well with a black background (I thought the black would absorb it, it doesn't) and the other a deep brown or really dark blue.

One of the truly fun things about granny squares is they are quick to do. This particular afghan requires 80 of these little buggers and this is one of those rare instances where a combination of sewing and crocheting them together makes for a faster assembly so I don't see a reason they won't be ready for the show either - at least one of them should be. I say this with calm and without dread. If it makes it that would be great if it doesn't - oh well.

As we begin the good-bye to this year and the hello to the next, I have not reached my resolution - which Aneha warned me about at the beginning of the year - she said they do not work. It wasn't that this one didn't work - it was a big order to begin with - to eliminate the stash. I can say with great confidence the stash will not be eliminated. Oh, I've made inroads. I've gotten rid of a box or two, but the stash will live on.

But so will the goal. I have not cried defeat. I have not written a concession speech. I have five skeins of the ugly duckling yarn to make the afghan and that's a help. When going stash shopping, I got some ideas from some of the skeins I saw so this is me not giving up. I will eliminate that stash. It's just gonna take a little more time than I thought. I have a new date - May 4, 2011. Our 15th anniversary. We'll see what damage can be done in five months.

In the meantime, I have to decide where I want my birthday dinner and I would like to go someplace new. Do you live in or know the Chicago area? Suggest a place for my birthday dinner this Sunday. Thanks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Walls of Jericho

It appears that I've been ignoring you. But it only appears that way. Rest assured you have been on my mind. I have been busy knitting up a small storm. These are some of the things that have come off the needles recently. Yes, just some, there are one or two (maybe three) things that are not here.

The fabulous Melissa arranged for our group to go to Close Knit - a LYS in Evanston and we were there for a few hours. It is a small shop - the smallest we've frequented but the owner, Lucy, was great. She went around the table helping the folks who needed help with their projects. We've alread
y got another date to go back there.

Two things I discovered:

I need to add another exception to the yarn moratorium. The first reason, you recall, is when I need to get filler yarn to complete a project. The second reason is when a shop owner does a very nice thing like host a group of knitters in her shop and keeps the shop open a little longer - including the cash register for people to make their purchases - we should, indeed, make a purchase. After all, when we meet at Borders and Tamale Hut Cafe, I ask people to make a purchase there so we just aren't taking up space. The same holds true for LYS, especially since when we are being hosted we take up a lot of room other customers could occupy. Which explains the three balls of yarn I purchased yesterday.

Second, there are two things some LYS do that really bugs me: a very small
clearance sale stock (which the store yesterday had but it's understandable there because the shop is very small, but there are others that just have a small basket in a big ass shop- c'mon now.) AND those shops that refuse to wind sale items. As if my purchasing the yarn they put on sale is somehow insulting and not in need of winding. They put it on sale for whatever reason they wanted - wind the damn thing up. (That was not an issue yesterday. My skeins are ready to go.)

Melissa asked if I was ready to go for the show the first week of December and I said I thought I was. She asked how many afghans I had ready and I said six, but I think I have five. She wanted to know how many items I had. i said about 40. I was much better than last year when I had more than double that amount because I wanted to make sure we had stock. This year, we don't have as many artists contributing so of course, I have less. I also noted that yesterday marked the two week blitz but this afternoon no blitz has started. I do have an afghan square on the needles - Beth attended yesterday and brought me squares she's been holding on to for a couple of years when she attended the Sit and Knit!! A great start to 2011!

I may be able to knock the monochrome afghan out by the time the show rolls around but I'm not in a rush....

Is this calm attitude worrying anyone else but me?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You Can't Tell Me Nuthin'

Check out this sign on Etsy. I was doing a little searching around for cute stuff and it was one of the first things I saw. Cute and funny!!!

Sometimes things are just so cute, I don't need you to tell me, I just know it and so it is with the cowls that knit up like a dream. You ain't gotta tell me they cute...I know it! They were a lot of fun to do and let me tell you, this has brought me back home to my acrylic roots. Not that I am going to abandon the animal or natural fiber, I will not, but don't turn your nose up at the acrylics (Yes, I know, Melissa, I know why you choose the natural stuff!) But when you get lush results like this you gotta give cred to the street.

This is knit with the Deborah Norville yarn. I'm telling ya, I don't think much of her show but that yarn is good knitting. When Billie came over she took my carved African bowl and placed it in the living room with skeins of Norville yarn in it as a decoration. After three cowls (one is on the needles now) and some hats, that plan will soon have to be reworked. I found some more in the stash and added it to the mix but I've used a lot it, too. The stash busting continues with good results.

I should admit I was at Hobby Lobby yesterday to get some filler yarn for an afghan I'm making and I saw some of the Norville yarns in solid colors. I didn't know it came in solids other than the cranberry but you will be happy to note I did not succumb. But I have made a mental note for that day when I do purchase yarn again to restock because the stash has been diminished.

The filler yarn is all shades of blue and they have raised the price of 'I Love This Yarn' - again! It's gone up more than $.50 this year alone. It's still under $4 but really! I wound up putting half of it back and subbing with Red Heart - less money by more than $1 and more yardage. I warned them in a letter that this would happen if they continued to raise the price! The truth is, I did it because the afghan I'm making can actually take the less expensive yarn in stride because of it's all one row striping.

It makes me sound incredibly cheap, doesn't it? I'm not cheap, it's about standards. When I first start using the yarn a few years back it was $2.50. I don't think it should be more than $3.25 a few years later.

I do sound cheap. Egads.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Time for Healing

This is the scarf that matches the hat I showed in the last post. I'm not selling them as a set cuz some folk will want one without the other and they should have that option.

I was in Dixon, IL Saturday morning. Dixon's claim to fame is Ronald Reagan's childhood home. Haven't seen it - I was going in the opposite direction - I was there for a training session for my role as the Chicago Northwestern District's United Methodist Women Coordinator for Social Action. Really long title meaning it will be my duty (and honor) to make the United Methodist Women in my district aware of the social actions the General Board have determined we should look at. For 2011, we will be looking at Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, Immigration Issues, Water and Environment and a host of other subjects.

The big thing I learned during the session is that everyone is interconnected - far more than we think we are. Nothing really happens 'over there', it all happens here and though it is unrealistic to think we do everything for everyone, we can impact something and that impact has ripples which will go to places we never think of and change lives of people we will never know and they will never know who to thank.

I have always been amazed at how our craft reflects our world. We work one loop and then another and they connect and create something beautiful and useful. And so we are as people. We work our loop and connect with someone else working theirs and we create something beautiful and useful. For all the setbacks we experience for the most part we do well. The idea is make sure we take more steps forward than we do back - unless we're dancing.

That Christmas spirit that was alluding me is slowly making its way in. I am looking forward to 2011 and learning more about ways we can connect, impact and change that which needs to be changed. I may not be the heroine but I don't mind making the path a little clearer for her to make her move.

I am certain our craft will play a role in Social Action - I'm already looking for the different ways it can enhance the work ahead. If you have any ideas, I'd be thrilled to hear them.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Busy, Busy

This is the latest hat and it has a scarf to match it! I've have, of course, been a knitting fool, there's another hat that you don't see, and I have a cowl (my first) that's just come off the needles - it's so cute! And another one on the needles

There's an afghan that curious about being on my needles - it involves sequins - and the house it still clean! These are all good things.

The show is in a couple of weeks but I am not in the mood to sweat it. That could be because I've knit about ten hats in the past couple of weeks so I feel somewhat set in that department. I am hoping to get that afghan done and I'm down prayer shawls but seriously, I'm not sweating it.

Have you thought about Christmas gifts for the crafter in your life? I always say if you love a crafter, gift giving should be easy for the rest of your lives. I have been looking at craft lamps. I think it would be a great thing to have next to the easy chair to replace the decidedly non craft lamp.

I also need clear storage bins for the yarn stash. I am sure if I were to sit down and think about it or go through the current craft stuff I own, I could come up with a pretty good wish list of things I want and need to move the business and craft forward. Truth is, I don't want to look that hard. The lamp and the bins are enough for the moment. That would help move things forward in a great way. So, that' s my wish list for now.

I feel like this Christmas has crept up on me even though it's the same time every year. The weather is still relatively warm but snow is on the horizon. We began making plans for the Christmas Eve service at church and Joe and I are talking about what we are doing for the holidays. Yet it still seems to be coming fast and I am not yet in the mood. I am thinking of putting up the tree - which when it does go up happens on my birthday. This year that would be the day after Thanksgiving. Perhaps that will help.

In the meantime, I am going back to the needles to prepare more stock for the shop and show and drink some soda - I have become addicted to Coke Zero and I must have it every evening - a couple of times in the evening. Now's a pretty good time!

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Early Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving arrived a few weeks early and I already have some new things for which I am incredibly thankful...

First, I want to get
to say a BIG thank you to my BFF, Billie, she came over early (9:30 - that's early for a Saturday) and she cleaned my house. She cleaned the kitchen, living room and dining room. She wanted to organize the office but my guilt was beginning to set it. She called me back later and wouldn't let it go. She has a plan for the office and she wanted me to promise to let her do it.

Well, I mean, she twisted my arm. So that will be the project for the new year.

Bill is one of the folks for whom cleaning has a deeper meaning. I'm one of those people for whom cleaning is a chore. She has been bugging me for the past couple of months to let her come over. I agreed to let her help me and that's when she said she wanted to do it herself. I started before she came over and when she walked in the door and I started again, she told, none too nicely, that I was in the way and messing up her mojo.

Can't mess up a girl's mojo. I have to say she did a better job that I would have done. She did a better than Mr. Honey would have done and I thought he was a master cleaner. The big thing we (and
I do mean we) accomplished was moving out the old love seat. Mr. Honey said it would be a big deal to move and as it turned out it was quite easy. Afterward he said it went exactly as he thought. Yeah.

The second thing I am grateful for is a photo from someone who purchased a prayer shawl from the studio. It was for her Grandmother's 90th birthday and she needed it overnight. Her grandma is going through some treatments and she wanted to get her a shawl to keep with her during those times. I wasn't expecting the photo and it brought tears to my eyes. Grandma loved it and the color certainly suits her. Very touching. We wish grandma improved and continued good health.

Lastly, at least for this post, I decided last Thursday after we came home from date night (after 9pm) that I would start a hat. I needed hats for the sale in December and I told myself just to make one. With a twelve hour period, I made the hats here. In the interest of full disclosure, one had been started but not completed. I forgot how much fun hats are to make. They are to me what socks are to other knitters.

When they a
re made with chunky yarn (Deborah Norville's yarn is great for these) then they go pretty quickly. I did stay up for several hours finishing them off and there are two more that I made in the time frame - one hasn't been photographed yet and the other I didn't like so I took it apart and made something else. So I have five new hats for studio/sale. I will have to make more but I don't want to go project crazy because I do most of my work in the living room. And it's now really pretty and with the dismissal of the love seat, I don't have as much working surface so I don't want to do more than one project at a time and that project has to fit in the knitting bag or, in the case of an afghan, across the ottoman which is now in front of my easy chair. I want to keep the fiber under control, you know.

So I have one project out in the open and that's a scarf and that's how it will stay. I know what you're thinking but it will stay that way. Remember a while back when I said Mr. Honey was on the car cleaning jag after he bought the van?
The car is still clean. I'm not about to let all of Bill's hard work go for naught. That would be the height of ungratefulness. I won't let that happen - mainly cause i don't think I could get her to do it again -

also because that would be rude!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Scary Calm

I have four weeks before the set up for the Pleasant Home Holiday Shop and I am scary calm. I have an afghan and a hat on the needles having finished the scarf that will not end just the other day. It was the faux cable that was the time consuming thing. Somehow it seemed slower than doing the real cable. Go figure.

The hat I am working on is also a cable design (real) and the same color as the scarf so they could be mistaken for a set. The afghan, oddly enough, is also the same color and is moving along at a pace I can only call slowly fast. It's a 17 row repeat to the pattern and it takes a few hours to get through one cycle of it. I timed it watching Celtic Woman Isle of Hope special stored on the t and v. I also have other things stored and I watch one every evening and as soon as it's over, off to bed goes I. It's quite the little system I will explain one day.

But I am calm - and that's making me nervous. Because I sold a few hats last week, my inventory is down and this show lasts a week. One would think I should work myself up in a tizzy to get myself stocked for what's coming in a few weeks.

I blame the elections. I am so glad they are over and so disgusted at how grown men and women play with our lives that it has left me exhausted for my regular and normal neurosis. Dang politicians - they take the fun out of politics.

Have you seen this item by Kris Percival?
The Knit Knack Kit is a cute little 'book' consisting of patterns printed out on cards you can pop into your knitting bag and take with you. The patterns are all simple enough (though some I will probably never touch like the snake. Can't think of a reason to make it.) I was going through my book shelf when I ran across it. I remember when I bought it. I eyed it on the shelf for more than a month before I finally purchased it. I made my first sweater (the baby sweater) from the pattern in the book. I fell in love with the 2x2 ribbed scarf because I made it in this book. I don't know how many times I made the hats. I even made the halter top. If you have a beginning knitter on your holiday list, this would be a good thing to get. The cards are coded from beginning to advanced (though there's nothing really advanced) and she does a good job with the instructions. Check with your local bookseller to see if they have it. It's been out since 2003 so it might not be easily found and it's the same thing as the book 'Knitting Pretty' by the same author - well almost the same, the book has additional patterns. If your local business can't find it, Amazon will have it.

I am going to work on the hat today and will probably be able to kick it out. I made it (in the same color) when I went to St. Louis and it was done that evening, as I glance at it I see it sitting there calmly waiting for me - other projects have not been as patient. It knows it will be finished today and the confidence shows. After that, I will select another hat to start. Maybe that will trigger the frenzy - though why I am asking for it is hard to explain.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The First of All Things

I made this hat and scarf last year and they both sold at either the holiday sale or on line. I'm feeling a bit reminiscent of the year that has swooshed by while I was alternately not looking, really busy or being inundated with political ads on my phone and t and v. But it is the first of November and since there is less of the year ahead than there is behind, I am already looking forward to 2011 - with a little stop on the way to Christmas and the Holiday show.

I already know I am going to find a new doctor and make an appointment to see him/her at the beginning of the new year. In light of that event, I am now
pulling a health blitz so when he/she tells me I need to take better care of myself it won't be as bad as could have been. So, they won't say 'you REALLY need to take better care of yourself.'

I learned a few things from the somewhat successful craft show over the weekend. I learned I have to listen to the public when they tell me what it is they want to buy from me. It's not a great epiphany for me, all I had to do was look at what sells in the shop and at the holiday show every year to know there are three things that sell the most: hats, scarves and afghans. What I heard a lot of from the folks stopping by the table on Saturday was: Do
you have this one in a different color? Do you have a scarf (hat) in this color? and while I had to say no to those questions, I could follow that with: 'What color would you like? Here's my card, look in the shop in a week and it will be there or do you want me to email you when it's done?"

This shawl, which I also made last year, is no longer with me. It didn't sell at all so I frogged it and it is now part of a granny square afghan and the sequins are in a box waiting to be used again. I have also learned there are times to let things go.

The big thing I learn
ed over the weekend was how nice folks are in this business. This was the first year I did the Guerin Prep Craft Show. There were over 150 artists and I was greeted by the door by volunteers who asked if they could go to my car and help me carry in my gear. And there were other crafters who were going in and asked if they could carry something for me and offered to take it to my table. We chatted about the 'craft show' circuit and how business was and what shows they were doing later in the year. (There were some folks doing a show every weekend until the end of the year.) What that told me was that I either needed to take it more seriously or get out of it because these people are in it for the living and it isn't just some fun little thing they do. There might have been a time when that was the case but the economy has changed that. Crafting is no longer a hobbyist exercise. For some people it is the difference between staying in their home or not having to dip into the college fund. At the very least, I need to respect the craft for what it can mean even though I don't have a direct impact on what anyone else does.

I have to write down my patterns. I designed this hat and for the life of me, can't remember what I did and since the hat sold last year, can't look at it to remember all the details. Considering my pattern on Ravelry is selling, it behooves me to take advantage of this talent I didn't even know I had.

Overall, I made about $55 during the show but there were lessons I learned that will gain me more in both money and soul and you can't quantify that.

I have three things on the needles - a scarf, a hat and an afghan - don't tell me I don't listen. I will also continue to bust the stash and there's a big pile of yarn in the middle of the living room that is my cull pile. I will make stuff from that pile and hopefully by the time the show comes in December the pile will be gone and there will be wonderful items to take its place. In the meantime, I am off to the bank to deposit my riches!!


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