Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Really NEED a New Camera!

I really, really need a new camera. But when I start looking around, I get totally overwhelmed. Help! What do you use, and how do you like it?

Oh, and a little suggestion...do you post photos on your blog? Then how about telling the world what camera you use, either in your side bar or in your "about me" section? It is nice when I see photos I like, to know what camera was used. For instance, this person shimandsons.typepad.com was kind enough to mention in her "about" section that she uses a Sony Cybershot. Unfortunately, she doesn't give the exact model number, but I'll take what info I can get. It is nice to know that the camera is capable of producing photos like the ones I see on her site. Not necessarily sayin' that I could take such nice photos, but I would like to get a camera that is able to do so! Then I won't be able to blame my lousy pics on the equipment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A PROPER Update!

Well, I promised a proper update months ago. Ahem! Sorry about that! Notice anything new?? Yes, I changed the look of my blog! I figured since this is virtually a fresh start after a prolonged absence, I would like a new look. This is a much cleaner layout. Also, there is more info in the sidebar. I still want to do some tweaking, but so far, whaddaya' think?

Summer was busy, busy, busy! We did not ever get a proper vacation. No beach trips (even though the ocean is about 2 hours away). No mountain holidays. Nada.

Our family did manage to spend a long weekend in the DC area visiting my brother's family. It was August. It was hot. It was exhausting. Trying to visit sites in DC with 7 kids aging in range from 5 to 18 can be a bit of a challenge but we squeezed in as much as we could. I want to go back sometime, just s, and spend hours and hours in art museums. YUM!

Summer was dry as a desert for me creatively speaking. I just seemed to lack inspiration to work on current projects or start new ones. I think the disastrously discombobulated workspace added much to that problem...I can't work in chaos. As mentioned in my previous post, I worked some on organizing my office, but not as much as I had hoped. I even bought one of those closet organization system this weekend and hung new shelves and racks etc. in my office closet. I went through all the containers of fabric and supplies and sorted and organized. Now, almost all of my fabric is sitting on shelves where I can actually see what I have on hand. I love looking at all the pretty, pretty patterns. Makes me want to sew. I can feel the need to create welling up in me. Lately I have also been spending time browsing blogs and sites that inspire.

If I could, I would post photos of my office transformation in progress, but one of my dear children dropped my camera on the concrete floor of the Smithsonian and damaged it...severely. The lens will no longer retract and it can not focus any more. Basically, it would cost more to fix it than it is worth. Boo! Hoo! So, I am hoping for money to fall from heaven so I can get a new camera. (((Sigh))) Any recommendations of affordable cameras???

CH-CH-CHANGES:

Our dear oldest son has moved into the dorms and started his adventures in University Land. I think he has adjusted well. Of course, we miss him bunches. But he comes home often. (Can you hear my big sigh of relief?)

Hubby is now working on his masters degree. After years of being unhappy working in "business" and unable to change the situation much, he has decided to pursue his Master's in Library Science. I am so proud of him. It isn't easy to work full time and go back to school. His undergrad is in History, and I know that working in a library environment will be much better suited to his personality and abilities. This means that I actually have 4 fellows in college! Oldest son and hubby in university, sons #2 and #3 are both taking college courses at the local community college concurrently while they are still in high school.

And speaking of school, we are back at it full force with the home schooling. Just to start the year off with a bang, I managed to get some sort of yucky head cold thing that lasted over two weeks. It made me very fuzzy brained and adding 2 + 2 was an intellectual challenge. Near the end of that, last week, a stomach virus made its way through the troops. What a fun weekend was had by all...not!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Coming soon to a blog near you...

Coming soon...an update! A really, true update! I am not sure yet what to write about. Hmmm...all the boring stuff that has been going on in my life? (Believe me, I have not had the time to be bored, but it really isn't anything exciting to read about, just the day-to-day survival as we finished up our school year, etc.) I hate to put folks to sleep.

Another thought that I have actually been contemplating is taking photos of my disasterous office. It is the room in our house where all the junk tends to accumulate, not to mention all my fiber and fabric and beads and... Then perhaps the public shame of it all will pressure me into getting it organized so that I can show some progress. Maybe I should clean it up some before I let you see it? It really is bad! Of course, if I let you see it as it really is, in all it's messy glory, perhaps it would be an encouragement to you to realize that your "messy room" isn't so bad after all! And the sad thing about all this? I am not a "messy." I do not like messy. I do not work well in chaos. I thrive on neat and organized. But the sheer messiness of it all overwhelms me and I don't know where to start. Perhaps the Flylady 15-minutes-at-a-time approach will be best. We'll see.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wearing a red poppy.

Memorial Day is coming up. Today, I am wearing a red poppy. It is to honor those who have given so much of themselves, including their lives to protect and defend our country. Remember? That is what Memorial Day is supposed to be about!

In our community, the American Legion Ladies Auxilary sets up tables at local shops and hands out red paper poppies that are made by disabled vets. One of my daughters and I donated a few hours today manning one of those tables. The flowers are free, but donations are welcome (and all the $$$ goes to help disabled vets.) If you get the opportunity, take one of those poppies and wear it, or twist it around your rear-view mirror or your purse strap, or somewhere to remind yourself and others that our liberty has been very dearly bought.

I think I will wear my poppy all weekend long.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dear Blog...

Dear Blog,

I know that I have not been around much. I am sorry if I have made you feel forgotten and neglected. I think of you often and I hope you miss me as much as I miss you. It's not that I have wanted to forsake you. Really, you must believe me. It's just that I have been so busy tending to the needs of others that I have not had time to give you all that you deserve in a relationship. If it is any consolation, Yarn Basket and Sewing Machine and Reading List are also angry with me for not being around much!

You will have to understand that my family comes first. And do you remember that I am a teacher? Well, not professionally, but I do home school all my 7 kids. That takes a LOT of time! And one of those kids is a senior and I have been swamped and overwhelmed with all the things that I must do to prepare for his graduation. And college...Blog, have you ever waded through all the forms and applications that are necessary to get a fellow into college? It boggles the mind! Oh, by the way, did I tell you that he was invited to participate in the honors program at a local university and that they gave him a $20,000 scholarship? We are so proud of him! Of course, we are proud of all our other kids too.

Anyway, school is almost over for this year and I am trying to be faithful to the end, although it is hard when Spring comes on. Both the kids and I are ready for a break.

So, please forgive me for not spending more time with you. I know that communication is the key to a good relationship and I will try to do better in the future.

Sincerely, your friend,
BusyHSmom

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to avoid sleep...

If you feel that you are just getting too much sleep, and you just can't figure out a good way to promote more sleep deprivation an exhaustion in your life, I have just the solution for you!

VOLUNTEER TO BE A CHAPERONE AT YOUR CHURCH'S YOUTH TRIP

Yes, folks, it is that simple! Just pile into a couple of vans full of energetic teenagers. Drive for about 3-4 hours. (Be sure that you get suckered into actually driving one of the vans so that you can not relax during the drive.) Time the trip so that you barely make it to the quiz competition in time, so you that the kids can't get dinner before they must compete. Check into a hotel after 9:00 and share a room with three young adolescent gals. Allow gals to drink Pepsi at 11:00 at night and watch them bounce off the walls so that they don't settle down until well after 1:00.

If that is not late enough, take the burden of responsibility pretty heavily, so that everytime you hear a door open or footsteps down the hall, you wonder if it is one of your kids who do not have an sleeping in their room. Therefore, you feel you must get up out of bed and look out the door and check to be certain they are not getting into trouble.

It works even better if there are four adolescent boys sleeping in the room next door and their beds are up against the same wall as your bed. Then you can have the muffled sound of their voices keep you up until well past 2:00 a.m.

Be sure to wake up before 6:00 a.m. the next day. Spend an exhausting Saturday full of activities and competitions with the kids. Drive home at night. Don't get back until late. Be sure that your hubby must teach Sunday School the next morning so that sleeping in is not an option.

And there you have it...a surefire recipe for sleep deprivation and exhaustion!

(Actually, I had a great time, and I was more than happy to help out, but PSHEW! I am still tired 3 days later!)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Swappity Swap Swap

I am such a sporadic blogger. I just have too many pots in the fire to do this consistently! One thing that I have been involved in lately is a SecretPal Swap organized by Crochetville. I send goodies to someone and hopefully make their day brighter and someone else sends me goodies and spoils me rotten!

Here are some photos of what my pal sent me for her big REVEAL package. Thanks a million, Aunty M. You are a doll!







Aunty M sent me:
~~ One solid chocolate bunny, not the hollow kind! My kids swooped down on him immediately!
~~ A lovely crocheted angel made with a clothespin and pink thread.
~~ Some bayberry potpourri that made the whole package smell nice!
~~ My very first ever thread cutter pendant. That will definitely come in handy with my sewing and finer needlework projects...I am always loosing my scissors!
~~ A small cross-stitch kit that makes a little miniature quilt and another one that is like little pumpkin seed packet.
~~ A "Little Pot Pals" kit in which you decorate a miniature flower pot. I am thinking that will be something I can do with one of my daughters.
~~ Some relaxing bath salts and a blue body puff.
~~ A skein of lovely deep purple Lion Brand Homespun.
~~ A ball of 100% cotton chenille.
~~ Some salad "hands" for tossing and serving salads. (How did she know that we have managed to break every set of salad tongs that have ever entered our house?)
~~ A pattern for making a colorful striped knit bag. (I love to knit too!)
~~ A vintage Old Time Needlework Patterns and Designs magazine.
~~ A sweet little crocheted purse that my 10-year old immediately claimed.
~~ A beautiful, carved rosewood crochet hook in size "O" This is my first wooden hook and I have been drooling and longing for one.
~~ Another wooden crochet hook...this one is bamboo and size "P" I love my bamboo knitting needles and so I am sure I will like this too!
~~ Aunty M sewed up a crochet hook case for me too! I have been needing one of these...however I am struggling. You see, the pockets are nice and long, so it is perfect for my double pointed needles too! Right now it is holding all my hooks, but if I want, I can switch it out and use it for my DPN's instead!
~~ She also made me the most exquisite, gorgeous red shawl. It is soooo pretty! The photos do not do it justice at all! I was so thrilled that I wore it for two days straight!

Like I said, she spoiled me rotten!

I sent my secret pal, Kimbo, a package full of goodies at the beginning and another package at the end of the swap. Here are a few photos of some of the things I made to put in the last package. Her favorite colors to wear are brown and green, so I crocheted her a humongous tote bag out of variegated wool in those colors and then felted it. This was my first felting project.

Here is is being held up by my 5 year old before felting:


And after felting:


I also made an amigurumi bunny for her.


See the cute little cotton tail?


I know, you think it looks just like the one I previously blogged about, but my 5 year old promply adopted that bunny and I had to make another. This time I used an "F" hook rather than and "H." Isn't it amazing how big of a difference a fraction of a milimeter in hook diameter can make in the overall size of a finished project. See the latest bunny hanging out with its bigger sibling for some quality time before they were parted:



I also took some incredibly bright and colorful thread and made my first ever thread crocheted bookmark for my SP:




I also included some sterling and Swarovski crystal earrings I made for her as well as a pound of Starbucks coffee beans, so hopefully, she felt pampered a bit.

Swaps are great fun.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Driving Rules

Have you heard about the newest driving rules??

1. Horizontal and vertical are the same (oh, I am not kidding!)

2. It is perfectly acceptable to slow down and drive beside someone you know and have a COMPLETE conversation. ....do not worry about holding up traffic. Remember you are ahead of everyone else.

3. Traffic laws are for everyone except you (again please remember you are SPECIAL those roads were all paved just for you so please drive the way YOU want to!)

4. If you are in the far right lane and you want to turn left then, by golly, just go ahead and do it (remember you are special!)

5. Everyone is really interested in hearing your type of music, by all means play it as loud as you can that way we won't have any trouble trying do hear our own music preference.

A friend sent me these rules after her recent trip to Las Vegas. I am proud to say that we are not backwards here in the South...there are plenty of folks in my community who seem to be well acquainted with these new driving regulations.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Amigu...what?!?

Hmmm...what could this be?



Add two of these:



A few of these...



And a couple of these...



Are you starting to catch on?



Aha! It's a cute widdle bunny!



I have been wanting desperately to try my hand at some amigurumi (just a fancy Japanese word for crocheted dolls and animals.) I have seen some really, really cuties! They are supposed to be quick and easy. Well, mine took most an afternoon and all evening, but I can be a bit dense. Everytime I would think, "Wow! This is so easy and it goes so fast!" well, that would be about the time I would discover I made a mistake...2 or 3 or 4 rows ago. And then it would be mutter, mutter, rip, rip, rip, do it over again!

Things I learned? Well, I am going to have to crochet tighter or use a smaller hook. I am seeing spaces between my stitches after I stuffed it. I can't wait to do more. I think I could even make my own patterns once I master all the simple shapes.

Want to see the work of an expert or two? Check out this (I love Crochetroo's blog. She is an artistic Aussie. Be sure to take time to browse the archives!): http://crochetroo.blogspot.com/

and this: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=26966

and this: http://amigurumi-along.blogspot.com/

and this: http://www.roxycraft.com/pattern_shop.htm

Finally! Photos from the Historical Ball

Would you like to see some photos of what we wore to the Historical Ball this year? Out of respect for my hubby who likes to guard our privacy, I am not showing the beautiful faces of my offspring. You will have to take my word that they are all gorgeous and handsome!

The first are of the costumes I was working on for the last month or so. Here is my 10 year old daughter and her colonial dress:




The only thing I am less than happy with is the trim. It is really lovely, wine-colored braid, but I fear that from a distance and in photos, it looks like I used rick-rack. Don't get me wrong. I really like rick-rack, but not necessarily on a dress that is supposed to look like it came from the 1700's.

Here is a photo of what I made my 15 year old son. Everything he is wearing was made by me. The color of the doublet is not showing up well...it is really a dark, olive green. I made it using some sort of faux suede and it came out great! I lined it with black fabric and I am very proud to say that it looks as neat on the inside as it does on the outside. The pants have some great detailing that you can not see. I give the pattern company a "C" for pretty crummy instructions. I had a friend who used the same pattern for some pants and she had some struggles due to lack of clarity. Otherwise, I am pleased with it. I even made the knee boots using pleather. There are no patterns out there for knee boots, so I made it up myself.



Here is a photo of my oldest wearing his dress kilt I made last year. The jacket is made of wool and fully lined. It was a bit of a challenge for me. I did not sew his shirt or bow tie, but the coat, and kilt and shoulder fly plaid, I made. I can't show you any good photos of him from this year because every picture I have of him is surrounded by s. Hmmmm...should that worry me??



Here is my very dashing 2nd son looking very "Mr. Darcy." I made his Regency outfit last year. The broad fall pants were a unique challenge, as well as the coat with tails and very odd tailored sleeves. We won't even go into the challenge of making bulky fabric sew up into nice points in collars and such.



He also wore a top hat.



This is my youngest son in his colonial outfit. This is a good example of how you can get the "look" on a shoe-string budget. The linen shirt is from goodwill in the ladies section. The brocade vest is also a goodwill purchase. I altered a pair of pants into knee britches. And I made the "frill" at the neck. Next year, he is promised a real costume made from scratch.



He wanted a tricorner hat and that is not something you just find at your local department store. Well, I got creative and found a woman's wide brimmed black felt hat all trimmed out with netting and feathers and flowers. I removed the trimmings. folded up the brim and applied some gold trim and viola! A tricorner hat:



Here is my oldest daughter in her grandmother's wedding dress:



Here is my sweet little 5 year old in a borrowed dress. She had such fun playing "dress-up."



Here I am in a lovely Baroque gown I borrowed from a friend. I might add that she is 16 years old and she made the entire gown herself...including the hand beading on the stomacher. I could not believe she let me wear it. And yes, I had very high hair in an attempt at being true to the time period.



I really wanted to work up something for my dear hubby to wear, but alas, time ran out. So, he was in a nice shirt and tie. I figure you get to see that often enough so no photos of him. He was very handsome and danced with all his s in spite of a knee injury. What a good sport. I was able to dance at least one dance with each of my sons. Needless to say, we all had a "ball!" (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

Friday, March 30, 2007

True Bliss

You know, after a busy week and an even busier day, I can't think of anything more lovely than being invited for dinner at a friend's house. I mean, think about it...you don't have to plan, or cook, or even pay for the dinner. AND you get to share it with pleasant company.

I guess it is especially nice for me. Cooking for a large family can be taxing. It is nice to get a little break. And we don't get invited out often. I think the shear number intimidates and overwhelms some people.

Let me clue you in: if you have friends with a large family, invite them over! Don't worry about what you will feed them, or where you will seat them. I can promise you, they will be so pleased to just have the invitation and the break from the usual routine. You can give them hotdogs on paper plates and sit them on the floor and they will be thrilled.

By the way, we had lasagna and it was YUMMY! After dinner we played Pictionary using a dry erase board to better accommodate the large group. Great fun was had by all.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Nifty Stuff From My Secret Pal


I have a wonderful secret pal from Wyoming. Just look at what she sent me last week! I still haven't figured out exactly how she made the first item.





And check out how perfect her stitches are!




Thank you, Secret Pal. You're the BEST!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

For Your Viewing Pleasure...




Even on a chilly, dreary day, the beach is beautiful. This photo is from a few weekends ago. There isn't much nicer than the sound of the ocean and the feel of bare feet on the sand. Wish I was there now!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

FREE Starbucks!!

WOOT!!!! I just found out that on Thursday, March 15th (that is tomorrow as I type this) Starbucks is having their COFFEE BREAK from 10 am to noon. Stop by your local Starbucks and get a free 12 oz cup of regular coffee!

(Heh! Heh! My poor Starbucks son will be working during this madness.)

On to the Next Project!!

I haven't been around much due to being chained to my sewing machine. Yes folks, it is in the upper 70's outside and I am sitting inside sewing and sick too! (I have some sort of upper respiratory infection--blah!) The previously blogged about colonial dress is done (well, except for the hem!) I promise a photo of finished product sometime soon. I am now moving on to the next pattern: Simplicity 4059



This is what my 15 year old son will be wearing to the Historical Ball. I have the shirt finished except for buttons on the sleeve cuffs. I even did the obligatory "stupid mistake." I can't seem to make anything without doing something wrong. This time I somehow managed to sew one sleeve on the shirt inside out! Now I know I checked! The problem was that I looked at the cuff of the sleeve to determine which side was in and which side was out. Then I proceeded to attach to shirt. Problem was, I had put the cuff on the sleeve inside out. SO, I had to take out the sleeve, and then take off the cuff, and do it all over. GRRRR!

I have also bought some faux leather and I am going to try to make some knee boots like you see in the photo without a pattern. Wish me luck! You know those famous last words..."Sure! I can make something like that! How hard can it be?" Heh! It is sure to be a challenge!

Oh, and during my blog absence, something very significant happened here. (Drum roll please.) My oldest turned 18. YIKES!! I am now the mother of a grown up. Shucks! I am still just a baby myself. (Okay, I hear you laughing! Now, stop it!)

Monday, March 05, 2007

At the sewing machine...



EEEK!!! The Historical Ball is in less than 3 weeks! How on earth did THAT happen?? Needless to say, my sewing machine and I are going to be good buddies for the next 20 days. Currently I am working on an outfit for my 10-year-old daughter. She wanted to do "colonial," so we chose this pattern by Simplicity. We are making the one shown in light blue in the photo. Our fabric is a simple calico with tan background and burgundy red flowers on it. Here is what I have done so far.



I know, the quality of that photo is pretty yucky, but at least you get the idea! Instead of eyelet lace, I have chosen to use a braided trim to make the burgundy color in the fabric "pop." The white eyelet really did not look too good on this fabric. If I get time, I will be making lace undersleeves to line the bell at the bottom of her sleeves.

So, now, you may be wondering, "What on earth is a Historical Ball?" The event is designed for all students ages 13 and up and their entire family. The students must do research and assemble a costume that is as historically accurate as possible. The time range is from the medieval period to World War II. Parents and younger siblings may dress up as well. Anyone who is old enough to pick up on the steps and the patterns of the dance may dance. The Historical Ball is nothing like a prom. The whole family attends together. We hire a musician who specializes in historical dance and music. He does a dance workshop in the morning. At the ball he plays his fiddle and calls the dances. All the dances are really old dances like country dances from varying time periods. This is the second year our homeschool group has done this. It was SO MUCH FUN last year. I danced every single dance. The costumes were fabulous! We had s in full Civil War regalia. There was one who does Baroque dance in a troupe at a local historical site. She wore the most exquisite silk Baroque ball gown. Of course, there were some Regency and Rennaissance outfits as well. The boys had fun too. It was lovely to see all the teenagers transformed into young ladies and gentlemen. They really do take on the character of what they are wearing.

Fortunately, my older two are content to wear what I made them last year...a full dress kilt outfit complete with military tuxedo style jacket (boy was that a "joy" to sew) for one fellow and a Regency outfit (complete with a hunter green jacket with tails, vest, and the fall-front breeches) for the other. My teenage daughter has outgrown her outfit from last year, so we will be taking a dress we have been given and altering it to make it look like something from the late 1800's. (Think Phantom of the Opera-ish) I am making the colonial outfit above for my 10 year old, and I have to come up with something for my 15 year old son--maybe Civil War. My 13 year old son can wear his colonial outfit from last year except for the trousers, so I have to work something up for that too! Looks like me, my coffee pot, and my sewing machine will spending a lot of quality time together until I get it all done.

I promise you, I will try to post photos of all the outfits when done. Maybe I can figure a way to blur out the faces so you can see them actually on the person. (My hubby is pretty adamant about me not posting photos of our family on the internet. There are just too many weirdos out there!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Off the hook...


Nope, the socks are not finished yet! I had to interrupt their progress to crochet these two sweet little sweaters. My son's boss at Starbucks recently had twin boys and I wanted to do something special for them. Everyone at my house had fun ooo-ing and ah-ing these little itsy bitsy sweaters in preemie sizes. The pattern is sooooo easy! It is called "Baby It's Cold Outside." You can find it here if you are interested: http://www.crochetme.com/Feb_Mar_2005/patt_baby_sweater.html

Also, there is a "crochet-along" for this pattern at Crochetville. http://www.crochetville.org/forum/showthread.php?t=36185 Different folks have posted photos of their finished sweaters. Some have made versions for older kids and even grown up sizes.

For those who might want to know (I always want all the nitty gritty info when someone shows what they made) The pattern was written for Homespun yarn and a K hook. To make it smaller, I used Caron Simply Soft yarn and a G (4.25 mm) hook. I followed the pattern exactly. I bought one skein of each color and I probably have enough yarn left over to make two more sweaters! There is an awesome chart compiled here of different sizes and yarns etc. for this pattern: http://www.knicknac.com/crochetville/bico-chart.htm



These are the first shaped garments I have ever crocheted. Up till now, I have made things like afghans and such...squares, rectangles, etc. I even crocheted the little buttons...too cute!


Also, I have been making some stuff for my secret pal. But I can't tell you about those things because I wouldn't want to spill the beans!!

Other than the occasional knitting and crochet, life has been a total whirlwind of activity. I thought life was busy when I had 6 kids all ages 8 and under, but now that 5 of those six are teenagers (with a 10 and 5 year-old too,) I look back on those days as "slow and easy!" My hubby tried to tell me that having 7 kids was not going to be easy, and he was right! They are not bad kids, they just keep me hopping!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Just Checking In

I am sorry, so sorry that I have not blogged in a long time! Life has been terribly, incredibly, unbelievably, insanely busy. I shall say no more about that...don't want to bore you. I just wanted to check in and let you know I am still here and well.

Sock #1 is finished and #2 is well on its way. I would be further along on that project, but I had to stop and fill some orders that came in for hair sticks, my crocheted hair accessory organizer and the crocheted stone necklaces I make. In fact, I had a hair stick order from Malaysia. How wild is that? So far I have my items not only in various U.S. states, but also in Australia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, England and now Malaysia. That is just so neat! Amazing how the internet can connect people.

But back to the socks...I think I have conquered the continental style of knitting. It really does go faster. I also have a theory now that continental knitting lends itself well to slippery needles like the KnitPicks. Before, I liked wooden best, but the better I get at continental, the more I see why some folks like these slick DPNs. However, I think I will always be a fan of the old-fashioned wooden needles. Someday I will be the proud owner of some needles like these



and/or hooks like these.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Socks and Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks.

Wanna' see my latest project? Here it is:


(My apologies for such a poor photo. The color is off and it isn't the clearest. I will try to replace it with one that is better soon. However, if I take the time to fiddle with my camera and get a perfect photo, I will not have time to actually write anything!)

Yes, that strange distorted object is a soon-to-be sock! I have knitted down the leg and have rounded the heel (which, I am told, is the hardest part) and am now heading towards the toe. The yarn is Reynolds Swizzle. I chose that yarn for my first pair of handmade socks mainly because it was available at my LYS (local yarn store) which provides instant gratification (no waiting for packages to be delivered). But the other big reason is that it was cheap (as far as sock yarn goes). I hope to someday soon order some nice sock yarn from somewhere like The Loopy Ewe which is run by someone who seems to be one of the nicest ladies in America. You can view her blog here: Sheri's blog.

And yes, those needles are wickedly sharp! Here is a better view for you to see.



They are the double pointed needles distributed by Knit Picks. I really can not give you a fair assessment of them because I am not in a good position to judge. There are many reasons for this. (1) I have not used DPN's much at all. (2) I have not done much, if any, knitting with yarn and needles this small and I have never made socks so I don't really have any previous projects to compare it to. (3) I am trying to learn to knit in a new way, and so I feel like a clumsy beginner, so I can not judge if it is the needles or my own ineptness.

You see, I am a firm believer that old dogs can learn new tricks, or maybe I am just a little crazy. That is why I decided to learn violin when I was in my upper 30's, which is not exactly the normal time in life to get started on the violin. That is also why I have decided to learn to knit continental. I was just a kid when I learned to cast on and knit a basic stitch. I didn't do much more than knit Barbie scarves until I was pregnant with my first son. It seemed the right thing to do, so I got a teach-yourself-knitting book and knit a blanket. Since then, I have knit on and off for the last 18 years in the traditional American way. Well, lately I have seen more and more folks who knit continental, and it just looks so much more efficient and faster! Why not try it? All I can say is that it has given me a great appreciation for folks who are just learning to knit or crochet. I have had to go through that whole fumbly-fingers-feeling all over again. However, I am getting the hang of it and I can see why so many might prefer that style.

Oh, and I am still caffeine free. Do you know how hard that is to do when my son goes to work at Starbucks every morning and brings home coffee beans every week?? My goal is not to never have coffee again, but to not NEED coffee. I want to save it for the occasional treat. I just seem to be one of those folks who shouldn't have caffeine every day...it effects my muscle and joint pain too much.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

How do folks do it???

I just don't understand. How do folks "keep up" with all that is going on in blog-land? Shucks! Just between the fascinating knitting/crocheting/spinning blogs I want to read I get sooooo behind! Then there are the witty and interesting blogs my friends keep. I can't find enough time to read it all daily, much less write daily. How do they do it? I just don't seem to be able to write in my blog regularly either. I will write a post and then I blink my eyes and a week or more has passed. So tell me, how do you all do it??

May I also add to this how intimidated and inadequate I feel when I see so many well written blogs with gorgeous photos and original layouts? Someday soon, I want to give this poor polka-dotted blog a new look. Truth-be-told, I am fearful of fiddling around with it and accidentally messing the whole thing up!

For your viewing pleasure, may I submit to you two different blogs...one I stumbled across just today, the other I have been familiar with for a short while. They are a feast for the eyes...lovely to behold.

http://yarnstorm.blogs.com/knitblog/
http://moonstitches.typepad.com/moonstitches/ (sorry, due to a very sensitive filter on my computer, it would not allow me to link to this one)

Yarnstorm and Moonstitches are examples of what I am talking about...their blogs both inspire me with their sheer beauty and make me feel like a failure by my lack of it. (((sigh))) Oh well, I must once again remind myself that this is the season of my life I must spend in the trenches of motherhood. Homeschooling and meeting the needs of 7 youths takes the majority of my time and energy. If I even manage to accomplish anything else beyond that, it is just icing on the cake!

Monday, January 08, 2007

I feel sooooo SPOILED!

Being on a limited budget and being the mother of many children means that often your wants or needs come last. But lately, I have been spoiled rotten! It started out on my anniversary (December 20). My hubby had received an unexpected financial blessing and he gave me some $$$ and told me I had to go out and buy myself some clothes with it. Now, I know that many, many women shop as a hobby, but I am not one of them. I hardly ever, ever go out and buy clothes. In fact, my new clothes usually come in hand-me-down bags. (But don't translate that to she-wears-old-ugly-stuff! I have been most fortunate to have a friend who has a sister who is one of those shop-as-a-hobby folks. Often I have even gotten things with the tags still on them!!) I am so thankful for the things I have been given. But that is not the same as being able to pick out something that is uniquely you and makes you feel like a princess. Well, that is just what I did. I went to my favorite shop in town and bought myself this bee-yoo-tee-full dress. I can not begin to describe it. It is 100% black cotton layers with lace, made in India and totally awesome!! I wish that I could relate it's style to you, but I don't know how to describe it...it is a little ethnic looking, a little "hippy" looking and a little like something out of the 1920's. I will try to get a photo of it posted sometime...but I am sure it will be hard to do, since it is black. I also got a lovely red pashmina to wrap over my shoulders with it.

Then there was Christmas which included several lovely gifts including a stainless steel travel mug for my coffee, other goodies, more $$ and gift cards to shop with. I went out and bought myself the most exquisite, killer cowboy boots in the whole universe. These are not your dusty, kick around boots (although I now want a pair of those too.) These are so purdy, they make me want to cry. And, the owner of the shop gave me a great deal!



And, as you see two posts down, I got a fabulous book for myself.



Well, the other day my neighbor brought by a late present. It was a nice cookbook, and I was so pleased. But, as I browsed it, I realized that there was a good number of recipes that just wouldn't be to my family's liking. I contemplated keeping it to provide occasional variety and inspiration, but she had so kindly put a gift receipt with it, so I trotted off to Barnes and Noble to see if there was anything I preferred. Baby, I hit the jackpot!



This first book (Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) I can not recommend too highly! If you are a knitter, especially if you are one who finds yarn and needles and anything else knitting-related addictive, then you will find a kindred spirit in this author. She writes in a conversational style and she is hilarious! She understands and sympathizes with my obsession. Also, she gives lot of good and useful information without talking "down" to you. Alshough this is not a book of patterns, she covers the basics in sock, scarf and shawl, sweater, and hat construction, giving you all the tools you need to make your own pattern! I read this book the way I read a novel. I did not want to put it down. That is how good it is. You can also visit her blog here: (Well, I TRIED to put a link, but I think my filter is blocking it! Our filter is pretty sensitive to any terms that might trigger "adult" content and you know how spicy those knitting blogs can get!! So, I will type it out so you can get the idea!) Her site is "www.yarn*h*a*r*l*o*t.ca/blog/" but remove the **** in the address.

And here is the other book I got: Spinning in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts. (What is it with these authors and their hyphenated names???)



I dream of spinning my own fiber. I regularly visit sites that sell spinning wheels and drool. But alas, I have neither the budget nor the space. Granted, if I had the budget I would find the space! This book is by a lady who not only spins using a simple high-whorl handspindle, but actually prefers this method. I have not really sunk my teeth into this book yet, but the print and drawings are a pleasure. It looks very warm and user-friendly. And best of all, hand spindles are affordable and don't take up much space! I am eager to get my own and give it a try!

So now you can see why I feel so spoiled! New clothes, new boots, new books...what else could a gal want????

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