Monthly Archives: November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I am grateful for many things, not the least of which is modern medicine and indoor plumbing. I’m working on Day 8 of some antibiotics, trying to kick a sinus infection. (You were wondering where I went, right?) What did we do before antibiotics? And Sudafed? And I can’t tell you how many times I have washed my hands in order to protect those around me. What did we do before running water? I feel very grateful, let me tell you.

I am grateful for my dear friends and family. What would life be like without such love and support?

I like taking this brief, calm moment, before company arrives, before the turkey preparations need to start, to just sit. To breathe, to pet my dog, to contemplate the joys in my life. What a lovely holiday. Have a wonderful day, all!

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Bad Dog

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We got a new door. It is stunning! Conrad Kaufman from Fence Rows Studio designed and made it. If you think it’s the most beautiful door you have ever seen, you should drive by at night when the window is backlit from inside. Swoon!

We had a round-top door that was original to the house, built in 1929. We knew the door needed replacing when we moved in, 14 years ago, but never quite got to it. The house needed a lot of love, and $4,000 for a door seemed impossible. Sadly, a few years later when we could afford it, the door companies all stopped selling rounded doors! Last year we got a bid to sand down the original door, replace the glass, repair the wood, and restain the whole baby. Eek. Conrad said he could build us a brand new door for that price. So we said, “Please do it!”

I could not be more pleased. Husband is a birdwatcher. He and Conrad actually bird together every year for his birthday. It was Conrad’s idea to carve the tree trunk and outreached branch, and to add the birds. I love the sunrise stained glass behind the birds. Completely beautiful.

Because the door is so fabulous, the last thing we wanted to do was cover it up with a tacky screen door. Hence, the “One Door Open at a Time” rule. We have a tiny little foyer, only big enough for one person at a time, which has an interior door separating it from the living room. When you go to open the front door, you MUST close this interior door to the foyer first, before opening the front door.

Yesterday that did not happen. It was my fault. The bus came and the doorbell rang at the same time, so I was confused and rushed. I ran to open the door without fully closing the interior door, and the Bad Dog ran out. Oh, did he run. For a nine-year-old dog that the veterinarian recently called “senior,” he sure had fun. He ran and frolicked and had the time of his life. For 45 minutes. I was sure he was going to get hit by a car and die.

I finally tricked him into running into the backyard to get a squirrel, and then closed the gate behind him. I’m pretty sure he was tired and ready to come home anyway. He kept trying to love up to me afterward, but I was too annoyed at him.

The definition of "hang-dog"

But who could stay mad at this? So we made up. He will probably sleep for the next 23 hours.

Weird Knitting

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I always find it funny that many knitters love to knit but hate to purl. Hold the yarn like this, and wrap the yarn like this, and make loops from the front (purl) = Ish! Ew! What a stupid hobby. Hold the yarn like this, and wrap the yarn like this, and make loops from the back (knit) = blissful joy. Except if you have to do it for too long. Then it’s boring.

I frequently find “interesting” patterns to avoid all the icky parts of knitting (purling, seaming, too much of the same). This week I took an Entrelac class. Looky what I did!

It only took 3.5 hours! (eek.)

I will probably finish this project. It’s interesting enough to make me want to keep going, but not annoyingly slow. (Don’t get me started on that Doubleknit class. If you’re gonna doubleknit, why not just knit two separate hats and then seam them on the top? Gads. I could knit four hats in the time it takes to make one doubleknit hat.) Sorry about the tirade. Entrelac is interesting and fun (to me) and I can see making several scarves/wraps/hats before I get tired of it. I have to admit, Entrelac sweaters don’t do it for me. Which of us needs help looking puffier around the middle? Any hands?

The teacher had us use a free pattern on Ravelry, by Allison LoCicero. It’s called, surprisingly, “Entrelac Scarf.” You can read more about Allison here. I used Lion Brand Amazing yarn, in “Strawberry Fields.”

I have also been working on the Dahlia cardigan, in the Fall 2011 Interweave Knits. I am using “Curry” colored yarn from Sunday Knits. Mmmmm.

So lovely! And so weird to knit. I adore it. Even the purling part. Even the long, repetitive rows. Even on size 3 needles. The construction is so fascinating, I just can’t wait to see how it works up.

The neckline is at the top, the colored waste yarn is for the sleeves, and the giant openings get sewn shut.

I am almost ready to open up the sleeves and start knitting a few rows, just to make sure the fit is right, before I invest any more time working forward. I am sure this makes no sense to anyone who hasn’t made this project. I’m a little nervous to open up the sleeves though, because with the two fronts still dangling on live needles, I will have a lot of opportunity for dropping stitches as I twist the thing around and around for round knitting.

Usually I can’t wait for a project to be done because I am tired of the purling, or the endless knitting. I can’t wait until this sweater is done, so I can wear it!

Some Reveals

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My last two posts were kind of gloomy. And had lots of words. Today is a happy post of few words and lots of pictures.

I realized something else about why I hadn’t been blogging. I have been knitting a lot, but dang, those reveals come a lot slower than when I sew! I am working on the Dahlia cardigan. Oooooo, so beautiful and so fun to make. But no pics.

So here’s some photos of my Jidai — to fulfill a giddy promise made weeks ago.

Where is the sun?

Mmmm, green & purple

Shows the actual colors

It makes me feel happy all over again, just looking at those photos. I think I’ll wear that baby tomorrow.

Ok, next up: Studio pics. I finally got the studio in shape. Ok, you got me, I could not say that with a straight face. But I did get one desk straight. Let’s ignore the other two desk spaces, shall we. Just let me distract you with these.

The work desk

This wall has a six-foot long expanse of kitchen counter resting atop kitchen cabinets which have been sawed off to make them a good desk height. Under the gray cloth cover, you see my serger. My trusty Elna sewing machine is in the foreground under its protective shell. In the middle of the desk is a container for pens, accessories, and a magic wand. There are some little boxes with photographs waiting for scrapbooking mojo. Finally, on the right are my fat quarters, neatly stacked with help from my Dear Mother, queen of organization. Look here:

You know these baskets are in ROYBIV order

Now shall we take a gander at the cabinetry? Yes, let’s.

Rubberstamps, inks, random (flat) art supplies

My Daddy made this cabinet for me years ago, back when I was selling Stampin’ Up! Really, the company name ends with an exclamation point. I wasn’t that excited about the company. I ended up buying a lot of stuff to make my monthly quotas, and eventually I got a day job and quit selling. It was fun, and I made enough money to buy stamps, but that’s about all I made. But I digress. Look at that cabinet! My Dad really loves me.

Main work space

This is the first time I have set up my sewing machines on this work space. I used to keep them on a desk along the opposing wall, but I have reorganized the room to use that space as solely a cutting and pattern altering/drafting desk (reveal photos soon). As such, I moved all the sewing-related supplies (seam ripper, small scissors, thread, etc.) to the drawer under the main work space. I will also use this space for scrapbooking, making jewelry, and other activities. I am so happy to have some order here again!

Does order make you this happy? I just hate the clutter and confusion. This feels exciting and clean… like anything can happen here!

Now What?

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I started this blog a few months ago mainly because I finally joined the 21st Century and figured out what Google Reader was all about. I subscribed to several blogs, and it was fun! I wanted to join in the party!

Also, perhaps secondarily, I felt like I was getting rolled by technology, and if I didn’t keep up, I’d never be employable again, if I should ever need to get a job. Learning to use blogging software was a fun challenge. I love to write, I’m unafraid of technology, and I have time on my hands. It seemed like a win all around.

I was not sure what the blog would even be about, and the Self-Stitched September fell into my lap, so I started writing about sewing and knitting. I rode the high of the SSS through the month, and even a little bit into October. And then something happened. A few somethings, I guess.

1. I joined the Board of Directors for a non-profit organization

2. My sewing room was all torn to hell for 8 weeks

3. My son started having a lot more needs

4. I accidentally started working (just 5-10 hours a week, driving a friend who has a visual impairment)

I stopped sewing. I ran out of time for everything. I got writer’s block.

So now what? What shall I do about this blog? I know other people probably struggle with similar life experiences and similar questions. Who is this blog for? What am I writing about? Why? Who reads this? What do they want to read? Am I being authentic, or just putting on a persona? What am I trying to do here? What’s my goal — just get thoughts out of my head, parlay my ideas into a lucrative business, find camaraderie, write just because I like to write, what?

I want to live up to the namesake and Live In RED, but lots of days I am just muddling through. Trying to keep from slipping into the grey abyss. Learning to write a blog was exciting and fun. It sparked my creativity. But now I am having to tap my creativity to help fundraise and to case manage my son’s care. It isn’t always fun, but it takes time and energy. And it takes a certain amount of brain space to remain upbeat, let’s face it.

I guess I don’t know what comes next, and none of us ever really do, despite all our planning. I do want to remain open to whatever happens next, and be optimistic about what opportunities and ideas arise.

Do you ever get to a point in life when you say, “Now what?”

Not Quite Sick

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My blogging has dropped off considerably since September when I did the self-stitched challenge. I had lots of good intentions, and then a few things happened.

First, my craft room was torn up for a month. Second, my son’s needs have been more intensive. Third, I have been not quite sick.

The craft room is coming along, but I have to admit, not quickly. I sorted out all the bits of yarn and fabric and patterns I no longer have use for. I donated two enormous bags of yarn to a prayer shawl ministry. I donated two additional large bags of leftover yarn bits to my pals in the Kalamazoo Knit & Crochet Meetup. I gave a small bag of sock yarn to my friend the Sock Knitting Queen, you know who you are.

I had every good intention of giving away my fabric and pattern destash goodies last night. I had a sewing bee here. I piled all the goodies into separate bags. I told the ladies I had stuff to give away. And then I forgot to get rid of it. Arg. I will have another opportunity next week to give it away. I just hate having it clutter up my life, now that I have decided to give it away. (The sewing bee was quite fruitful for me, as I finished one Christmas gift, but of course I cannot show you!)

I am so happy to know that all my cast-offs have found new homes. And I am further overjoyed to have new-found space in my stash closet. I can spread things out, get rid of extra bins, and so on. Very happy! I have a bit more work to do in the craft room, but it’s almost done! Photos coming soon.

The news on my son is similar in that it is also a work in progress. A few weeks ago he got glasses, then had his back brace fitted, then his braces broke again (twice). There was Halloween. His back brace is ready, but they can’t fit him until next Thursday. And he’s had a rough week at school. Sigh. It kind of takes it out of me, honestly, and then I have no energy for sewing, crafting, writing, etc.

Even though that stuff wears me out, I think I am also actually Almost Sick. My eyes were burning all last week, and I spent a lot of days napping, which is quite unlike me. I used to hate to nap because then I’d be up all night. Also, I felt like napping was a waste of time. I have come to enjoy a nap from time to time. But not every day. So last week made me think, maybe I am fighting a cold or something. I feel more awake and generally better, but I have started with some serious sneezing fits in the last two days. I am going to do a voodoo dance and gargle with salt water. I don’t want to become Completely Sick.

Finally, with all that laborious explaining out of the way, let me address Thursday Think Tank, the day on which I think about upcoming projects.

A friend gave me her no-longer-needed Boden catalog a few weeks ago, and I have been circling items and rummaging through my patterns and fabrics to come up with a few ideas. If you don’t know her yet, go see Snugbug’s post for today, as she has done a similar thing with the Anthropologie catalog.

I admit, in thinking about my next projects, I am conflicted. Not just about what to make, but why to make. I have been ruminating a lot about the desire to have more, make more, fit in fashion-wise, cover up my “figure flaws”, wear makeup, wear Spanx etc.  vs. the desire to be happy with what I have, enjoy what I like and not worry about what all the magazines tells me is popular or if the item camouflages my stomach, look my age (as I have certainly earned it), respect women of all ages and body types, wear shoes that don’t hurt my feet, and so on.  It’s complificated.

I weigh all that out by saying, we all do something to fill up our day, so it might as well be something fun. If it makes me happy, I stuff all those conflicted thoughts down into a box and just do it. Life is hard enough.