Monthly Archives: October 2011

This is Halloween


That’s my boy!

I love the way he tried to look like he was really in an accident. Check out that expression!

I told him he could NOT tell people at school he had a gunshot wound to the head. You can’t talk about guns at school, just like you don’t talk about hijacking or bombs at the airport. Even if you are kidding, I said. So he said he had been in a car accident.

This costume met his requirements of 1) There must be gore and fake blood and 2) he must have props. He preferred a costume that had two machetes, but I declined. The fake cast met the bill. The nice man at the back brace store made it for him after he measured him for the back brace. Isn’t that nice?

We’re off to start our ghoulish festivities.

Here’s me. Can you guess who I’m supposed to be?

What if I was holding a snowboard?

Have fun out there!


Dahlia, You Temptress


I don’t have a subscription to Interweave Knits, because I prefer to buy magazines when they strike my fancy, and I prefer to buy from the local periodical vendor, Michigan News Agency.

I don’t often find enough patterns I think I would actually make or wear to justify subscriptions to knitting magazines in general.

But not this time. Be still my heart. Surely by now, you have seen Dahlia?

I started the medallion the other day with Sunday Knits yarn, Eden, in the color, “curry”. I love this yarn. I will admit, the start is very, very fiddly. I tried to start three times, once using the magic ring crochet trick. Um, no. Once past the fifth row, it becomes much easier.

Here is my progress.

Not much to look at now, but just you wait. Oh, yes, good eyes. That *is* a me-made Shrinkydink skull on my stitch marker.

Serial Hobbyist


Are you true to just one hobby? Do you consider yourself a quilter? A knitter? A person who sews only garments? A dabbler? All of the above? I love anything related to fabric. I also scrapbook. And make a little jewelry. In the past, I usually had one hobby at a time. I was a serial hobbyist.

My first love was clothes sewing. I took sewing classes in high school. Senior year I wanted to take a tailoring class, but there was only room in my schedule for one elective, and my guidance counselor and teachers wanted me to take Spanish 4. I stuck to my guns, and I am so glad. I have been sewing for 30+ years, whereas I have only used my Spanish-speaking skills about four times since high school.

Once I learned to sew, I was fearless. I made up my own patterns. I bravely turned thrifted and hand-me-down garments into little works of art. Then after college, I learned to make curtains and pillows in order to decorate on the cheap. Finally I fell into quilting. Mostly this was a way to use up all those scraps! Then I just randomly stopped sewing one day. I don’t know why. Busy with work? I don’t know.

Random photo to break up all the text in this post. Teaser for tomorrow.

When I found out I was pregnant, the creativity bug bit me again, so I got a book and taught myself to knit. After my first item, a garter stitch baby sweater, I made a bobbled baby sweater and then a cable-knit baby sweater. Then I had a baby. Oy. Knitting was too hard because I kept almost poking him in the eye with the needles. It’s hard to nurse and knit.

I joined the Sewing Guild and made baby clothes and nursing tops. (I also learned to dye silk but that didn’t last long.) I got fairly obsessive about sewing, buying a brand new sewing machine and serger despite being broke. (I still own both.) I ordered special presser feet, subscribed to Threads Magazine, attended sewing expos, made several wedding and bridesmaids dresses, and so on. I lived near Haberman Fabrics. It was hard not to love sewing.

We moved, and I found rubberstamping from a group of women I met in our new town. Oh my gosh did I love rubberstamp art. My dad built me a cabinet for all my stamps and inks. I sold Stampin’ Up! stamps for a little while. Then I found scrapbooking. Well, of course I did. I had a baby so I had a million photos and mementos. I fell pretty hardcore for scrapbooking. I have more paper than fabric, if not in volume, then certainly in weight. (ok, probably in volume too.)  I loved picking out paper because the patterns are so beautiful, and each sheet is only 30 cents or whatever, versus $6 for a yard of fabric. Then, after 2006, I just stopped scrapbooking. I had a very demanding job, and I just could not muster the energy.

There were a few very brief periods in there when I made a few quilts, like when my son was in the hospital for a week. I dragged my sewing machine to the Ronald McDonald house in Ann Arbor, and made a quilt while I waited. Then there was that short foray into jewelry making.

Around 2005 I got the urge to start knitting again. I also started crocheting. I think my husband would say I fell harder and longer for knitting than for anything else. I am not so sure. I have been doing that pretty much obsessively ever since. I like that knitting is portable, so it can be done in doctor’s offices and waiting rooms, in front of the TV, while sitting as a passenger in the car, etc. It’s easy to knit socially, so I have joined a few groups and, for the first time as an adult, I have real girlfriends outside of work. Knitting helps keep me sane, keeps my hands busy, helps me live in the moment, soothes my nerves when they are frayed. And of course, it fulfills my need to create with color and fabric.

While I still knit, I started sewing again in a serious way, about three years ago. I was asked to sew a lot of linings for friends’ knitted bags, or to sew knitting needle cases, or to sew project bags. And I remembered how much I love to sew. I started sewing garments. I started sewing quilts. I started a sewing group as a splinter off my knitting group. I joined a quilting group. I started buying patterns and fabric again. I mean, collecting, you know: stash.

I am shooting more for balance in my life now. I am not a serial hobbyist anymore. I work on whatever it is I feel like working on. I usually have several projects going. Right before the insulation contractor came, I had a beading project on my desk, baby quilt squares lined up on the floor, two knitting projects on the dining room table, and two blouse patterns pressed and ready for alterations on the cutting table.

I worried when I started this blog that I didn’t know what it was going to be about, or that people wouldn’t want to read it if it wasn’t specifically in one camp. Now I realize how silly that was. This blog is mainly for me, of course, to help me sort my thoughts, record my projects, meet new friends, get new ideas, and just write because I like to write.

It is good, in my opinion, to have a wide variety of hobbies and projects going, because it opens my mind to creative possibilities. Problems faced in one hobby can lead to solutions in others. So fascinating! And truly, there is a lot of talk about living in the present, but not a lot of advice about how to do that. Hobbies help me really be mindful of what I am doing, keeping my head from drifting to dark places. It’s hard to dwell on the past or worry about the future when I am installing an invisible zipper or casting on socks.

I got to thinking about all this today, because it is Thursday Think Tank. Instead of thinking about a specific project or a plan for the week, I started thinking about hobbies in general and what I do and why I do it. Also, I didn’t buy pants fabric, and I didn’t want to start yet another Thursday with a promise about how I was going to make those damn things.

Slouchy Sweater


I am pleased to present my Jidai. I am over the moon! I had to convince my son to take a photo immediately so I could post today. I couldn’t even wait to weave in ends, block my work, or properly style the sweater. I just tucked the loose bits under, and threw it on over today’s outfit.  I don’t think the photo captures anything, but what is a post without a photo? Next sunny day, I’ll take better photos.

It has been a long time since I knitted a sweater or vest that actually fit. I lost my mojo and had resorted to knitting only shawls and scarves for a while now. I am tickled pink that this sweater came out exactly as I envisioned. A nice, loose, slouchy sweater — a step up from a sweatshirt.

I made the sweater pretty much exactly as written, except I didn’t do any waist shaping. I also added an inch in sleeve length. I used Berroco Vintage DK yarn in Fennel and Delphinium. I love the yarn. It’s soft, it doesn’t split, and the colors are gorgeous.

There is an errata sheet for the Berroco #308 pattern booklet but the only correction they list is that to decrease on the wrong side, you should purl two together. Not much of an errata. However, I did see something weird in the pattern that was not explained. In the section on finishing the neckline, it tells you to bind off 34 stitches, “decreasing 4 stitches across” — but that makes no sense. I did all the math, adding up all the row counts and decreases, and you just do the normal decreases for that row, not four additional ones. I just ignored that direction, and it all came out fine.

I do think the instructions should also have clarified that during the pick-up row for the neck ribbing, 154 stitches is all the bound off stitches + 10 stitches on the diagonal sections either side of the front neckline. Why make me guess how to pick up? I wonder if I could have just left the stitches live and picked up the front sections instead of binding off the back and sleeves just to pick them back up. Also, I would have probably left the stitches under the arm on stitch holders and done a 3-needle bind-off, rather than bind off stitches then sew the seams together.

All in all, those are pretty minor quibbles. I can’t wait to do the (very minimal) finishing and block this baby so I can take proper photos!

Full PIF Slate


Pay It Forward Blog Game

Hooray! I have had three takers for the Pay It Forward game I found at Making Rebecca Lynne.  They are…. drumroll, please….. Lee Ann at Windings, Seraphinalina, and Holly at Knit with Snot for You. Now I am going to stalk their blogs to get ideas for things to make for them.

Thank you so much, brave friends for joining the fun. If you’re curious and might want to play, go visit one of the blogs above and sign up.

Tomorrow I think I will have a knitting reveal! I am so excited.

How is it Already Thursday?


Two weeks ago I was voted in as a member of a nonprofit agency’s Board of Directors. I have been very busy learning about the agency, participating in a search committee for a new director, and attending many meetings.

And my house has been torn up for the energy-saving updates. If you live in Michigan, I highly recommend Better World Builders.  They are smart, polite, clean, prompt, and fun. And they were good to my dog. They are not quite finished, and we have already seen a 40% reduction in air infiltration. We are also getting a huge rebate from Consumers Energy for making these updates. I can’t wait to see the heating bill!

And I’ve been to several medical appointments. My son, it turns out, needed glasses, and we ordered him two pairs. ($79 for two pairs at JC Penney!) And he needs a Milwaukee back brace. I got the Rx for it on Thursday, and we have been getting a second opinion and researching back braces.  This is a Milwaukee brace:

Why am I telling you all this? So you have mercy on me when I confess how poorly I did on last week’s Thursday Think Tank resolutions. Remember these?

  1. Review sewing/wardrobe plan to include business-appropriate clothes.
  2. Buy some business-appropriate pants material and a pattern.
  3. Pick out a new knitting project.
  4. Compile a list with Husband of all the home-related chores, errands, and projects that need accomplished.
  5. Make an appointment to get my eyes checked.

I did sorta/kinda review my wardrobe plan. It was hard to do a great job because my original list and all my patterns and fabric were under plastic sheeting for the week. I did not buy material or a pattern for dress pants, but I did try on a variety of pants at the store to see if a certain style grabbed me. No luck there. I did pick out my next knitting project, but have made zero effort in starting it. I haven’t even decided if it will be made with olive or rust yarn. I did compile a list of the chores with Husband, and we did complete some of these. I did not make an appointment for my eyes. Husband asked if we can postpone that until January, because we are all out of money for that.

So, with renewed vigor, I am going to hit #2 especially! I am going on a two-day training jaunt to Chicago for the nonprofit agency, and I have zero pairs of dress pants in my closet. I don’t think jean Capri pants are going to cut it.

I’m also going to start putting my house back together because the contractors are done on the inside of the house.  Hooray!

"Before" photo

I cannot wait to start organizing that studio. I’ll even have actual projects to post. That’s why you come here, right?



Here are a few photos of my crafting room. The contractors decided they needed to get to the kneewalls from the inside of the house instead of through the vents from the outside.

This meant removing every item from my working desk and disassembling the desk to move it away from the scuttlehole.



It also meant moving everything out of the closet, including the storage system. The window will also be replaced in a few weeks, so the closet must remain bare until then.

And everything, everything had to be cocooned in plastic to keep dust from settling on it.

I am a little distraught when I look at it, so I just hustle past the room and avert my gaze.



Instead of crying, I am dreaming about the day the butterfly emerges. I fantasize about how I can organize the space when they are done. I can sort through every single item and decide if I still want it. I can place each item on the shelf or in the drawer or in the bin where it makes the most sense, instead of letting it all pile up randomly. It’s going to be an amazing, creativity-sparking studio!

And, it’s going to be draft-free and cozy when they are done. It’s going to be so worth it. (Right?)