Sunday, August 19, 2012

hard decision

So, it's almost 2 months since my last post. One would think that nothing's happening because there hasn't been a peep here.  Au contraire. The fact is that too much is going on.

I have bounced back and forth between the idea of continuing with this terribly neglected blog or just deleting it.  

I'm in the throes of a summer that I thought would be boring and slow, only to have 

  • an accidental extra business (if you know any guitarists, please forward this link to them RaptorPicksUSA.  They will love you for it.)
  • a husband approaching cancer treatment, which I thought had been determined, but lately he's re-evaluating his options. My concern is that he make a decision and carry through with it as soon as we get the go ahead from his urologist in early September. We've been spending a lot of time talking about this - well, he's been talking and I've been listening.
  • a sweet pet bird with the heart of a lion, who has healed very well from a broken leg when he was only 5 weeks old, who is needier than all the other birds I have had. He "needs" flock time, and he thinks we are his flock.  I don't mind spending the time with him. In fact, I like it, but it's more time that this blog just doesn't get written.
  • an irresistible compulsion to write the music I have just repressed for years on end, because when I wasn't too busy,  other things were interesting and captivating to me, but never as interesting or as captivating as composing. So, I'm writing. (duh)
  • new additional guitar students, which is a great thing.
  • my weekly Guitar Technique Tutor podcast nearing its 90th episode, so I'm trying to plan for episode 100 to be special, with interviews and give-aways etc. (let your guitarist friends know about the podcast, too)
  • extra time allocated to spend with our recent widower friend
Aside from getting E-Rex's cancer treatment behind us before the end of the year and recording that  100th podcast by the end of the year or into early January,  I don't foresee that bulleted list disappearing. It may even grow.

Add to that, that I am knitting, crocheting and hoping to sit at my sewing machine, which was the plan for the summer, but I still haven't taken the cover off  (I'm disappointed, but I just haven't had the time) and at best I can eek out the time to post photos on Flickr and write a little on the occasional Ravelry project page. I"ll be trying to meet with my Material Girls each month, when  I can schedule it.  More than that, seems impossible at this time.

I know I was promising a podcast. I'd LOVE to do a crafty podcast - but it's not going to happen any time soon.  I have to apologize to Material Girl Donna for that.  She and I recorded a segment that was to join the rest of that premier show's segments, only to have it fall victim to becoming outdated before it was ever posted.  Forgive me, Donna. So, the podcast is just another thing I cannot possibly do in the foreseeable future.

What to do about this blog?  I suppose the hopeful thing is just to suspend it for the time being.  Deleting it would kill me, even though I am thoroughly aware that I may never post anything here, again. Then again, ... maybe.

So if this isn't good-bye, it's surely see you later.  

Just for the record, the Short Sleeve Textured Cardi's back, fronts and sleeves are finished. The sweater has to be blocked, sewn together and the neckband needs to be knit on ( 2 - 3 days when I get to it.) 

I'm done lengthening the 2nd pair of "extension" socks.

Of course, the Ravellenics fell by the wayside this year AGAIN.  I really thought it would be fun to begin and end a project in one of the categories in the time those other Games were going on in London.  I'm hoping for the winter Games in 2014, I'll be able to participate.  The project I planned for the Ravellenics will be the next thing I knit.

[On that topic...the Olympic Committee that got its nose so out of joint over yarnies calling their 2 week long personal best challenge, Ravelympics, should read the Bravo TV channel the riot act.  The revolting mockery of the Games in their TV commercials is  blatantly degrading  compared to  yarn-crafting  admirers of the athletes calling their challenge the Ravelympics.]  

The only way I can close this post is:

Find a way to do what you love and love what you do.

Friday, June 29, 2012

king's wax review

If you’re unfamiliar with genuine sealing wax, it’s a product used to seal correspondence.  I know there’s a lot of faux and stick on sealing wax for scrap booking, but I’m referring to the kind you use on actual mailed correspondence. Of course you can use it for embellishing gifts and making metal clay jewelry etc. I was given a little brass wax seal and a couple of sticks of sealing wax with a box of stationery as a birthday or Christmas gift when I was about 9.  I have used it on personal correspondence ever since.  Back then, there were only 2 domestic companies that offered sealing wax for sale.  Now, a lot of companies and people make it, but a lot of what is on the market faux sealing wax.  You’d be hard pressed to break the faux wax because it dries almost like plastic or vinyl.

I was dubious when I found Ebay listings for a brand of sealing wax I didn’t already know. The web site,  seemed legit so I looked around and ordered some wax. The shipping is a bit high because the wax comes from Canada, so I ordered several sticks.  I ordered some breakable and some unbreakable wax.  The owner called me to clarify the order. He was nice enough to tell me that the form in which I ordered my wax was not the most economical so I changed my order for both kinds of wax to glue gun sticks, rather than the traditional shape, since I don’t use wicked wax.   As I recall, 1 color was out of stock, so I selected and alternate.  

I waited a week, then 2 weeks, then  almost 3 weeks.  No wax.   I hadn’t spent a fortune, but I did call to see where my package had gone.  I spoke to the owner who said a woman called him that same day, from Staten Island, NY, saying how she received my package.  Maybe there’s a street in Staten Island that has the same very common name of my street.  There may even be a house or apartment at my street number.  If the zip code was written incorrectly, I guess it could happen.  I know the owner was hand writing the order when we spoke.  I was disappointed, but it wasn’t life and death or anything, so I asked him if he’d send the order out anew.   He did and I received it  about a week later. 

Now, finally, I’m getting to the review.  I liked the wax very much. I think the unbreakable  recipe is comparable to the French J. Herbin wax I favored heretofore. My criticism is only that the nomenclature is off.  Breakable to me, is the hard wax that is used for security, like bankers’ wax.  Since I send my wax through the mail (and do other things with it)  I can’t use that real fragile wax that is made to break upon tampering, which was the purpose of employing the wax, to begin with.  The J. Herbin wax I use is called Souple, or supple.  It holds an impression nicely, but has enough flexibility to withstand the rigors of the postal system.  I assumed that Kings Wax unbreakable was comparable.  So, I only ordered a stick or 2 of breakable and loaded up with unbreakable.  It turns out, that Kings Wax breakable is like J. Herbin's "genuine" sealing wax, feels and behaves like faux sealing wax. There isn't a problem mailing faux sealing wax, but it’s so plastic-y or rubbery that it doesn't "feel" like sealing wax to me.

So, I learned that I like the consistency of Kings Wax breakable for mailing.  I’ll use the unbreakable sticks that I don’t prefer.  I put them in my glue gun and use them for “mass mailings” like the monthly birthday cards I send to students, their families and our friends, on gifts and even on notes I leave for neighbors here in our building.  I’ll use them up but I won’t re-order the unbreakable wax.  As for the breakable, it’s available in a huge array of colors - unlike the former wax I used which was only available in gold, silver, navy, red, green and bronze.  Good colors, but very basic. In Kings Wax, I have pearly sparkly burgundy, Tiffany box blue and others.   I love Kings Wax.

If you use sealing wax for scrap booking, I’m sure the unbreakable will work wonderfully for you.  If you use sealing wax for your correspondence, use the breakable. It  goes through the post perfectly. 

do you have an UFO bin, phds or a hope chest?

Whatever you call it, I have it.  I adopted the UFO terminology many years ago and am content with it, but project half done and hope chest are apropos, too.

I’m about 2/3s of the way through what I call My Own Little Crochet U. I’m crocheting every motif in Edie Eckman’s book Beyond the Square.  I shot her an email or a tweet about it and she sent a very gracious reply.  I will send her the link to my Flickr set when I’m done.  That’s the project that goes on hold the most frequently and I suspended working on it since about November.  I’m hoping to complete that this summer or at least by the end of the year. I will probably also crochet her entire Crochet Borders book too - I want my crochet to be a skill developed equally to my knitting - which I have been doing since the late ’60’s. I don’t have decades to cultivate it, so Edie will be my Elizabeth Zimmerman.  And I will try to digest all I can from her expertise.  These are long term projects - but the feeling of accomplishment after completing an interesting motif and I’m sure a border, are a welcome lift.

I have 2 Lazy Girl  Town Purse cut out and the linings are sewn to the inside pocket pieces.  When I began these bags, I was making one for me and one for a dear friend. She lost her brave fight against  4 kinds of stage 4 cancers in January, and there is a lot of unhappiness attached to this project.  I think this will be retired to UFO land for a while. I just don’t want to pick it back up right now. 

If you haven’t made a Lazy Girl bag and you like to sew bags, you may want to try one.  I have made the Gracie bag and it was an excellent experience. Directions were great, and that’s coming from an experienced machine sewer who sews like a beginner because I, heretofore, have not had enough continuous sewing time to feel really comfortable at my machine as soon as I sit down. It’s getting much better, but these long breaks from machine sewing don’t help at all.

I’m nearly finished with a small wall hanging made from a panel called Chapel in the Pines by Moda.  It needs a little more quilting and binding.  I REALLY REALLY REALLY  want that done for hanging in our apartment the day after Thanksgiving.

a rose by any other name

I  knit a swatch for my first every Ravellenic Games project. [Of course, it's the first ever because this extravaganza used to be called the Ravelympics. Okay, Committee, I wrote it, come and arrest me.  What a joke that whole brouhaha was. Now,  we have been bulllied into calling it the Ravellenic Games.]

I’m making the Classic Elite Appalachian Shawl with Araucania Quillay  in color 2 and some Lion Brand LB Collection Superwash Merino in black. The swatch went well.  The shawl uses a lot of yardage but the pattern isn’t very fiddly.  There’s just 1 row of a knit, put back and reknit kind of wrapped stitch and there are only 2 purl rows  in each 12 row stripe sequence, of which you knit just less than 8 repeats.  I should be okay with it - even though our church has scheduled VBS during the first week of the Ravellenic Games, and whatever that sporting event they’re having over in London is.

I had to compromise my 'Knit, Crochet and Sew Down the Stash' rule. When I swatched I had a nagging doubt that my 3 skeins of Quillay (which I purchased on clearance at my LYS) might  not be enough because the yardage calculation didn't leave much room .  The thought of being unable to complete the project on time for this even made me crazy.  It's a discontinued yarn so I had a little hunting to do.  Coveted Yarn had it in my color.  I knew it was likely that the dye lot would be off, but I was delighted that the skein I received was the same dye lot as the other 3 I had. Yay!! Now, if I want to do an extra sequence row, I can do so (if time permits).

swatching for the Ravelympics

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Because I couldn't find a local WWKIPD or WWKIPW event, I had hopes of KIP-ing with a friend, Susan, and even offering learn to knit in  15 minutes classes on the spot.  I even knitted some little samples of garter, stockinette and ribbing. Susan had other life necessities intervene, and great life necessities they were! She went with her son’s family to a golden retriever  breeder, where the son’s family selected a puppy. As it turned out, Susan picked a puppy too, so that’s going to be a terrific addition to her and her husband’s empty nest. I don’t blame her for skipping out on me for that.  I’d have done the same for her & in fact I did back out on an appointment with the Material Girls to drive down to a breeder to choose and bring home a hand fed baby parakeet, in February. 

 So when E-Rex went to his beloved Panera  on June  9th, WWKIPD I joined him & KIP-ed there for a while.  I worked on a pair of wild socks I’m knitting in a Cat Bordhi Sidestream pattern. I’m just using Red Heart,  Heart and Sole, in a colorway called Mellow Stripes (which harken back to the druggy song Mellow Yellow.  The colors are anything but mellow, in my opinion.)These socks were originally knitted a few  years ago, but since then some things have changed.  I lost a lot of weight a while ago and when I was bigger, I wore stretch legging type jeans, which were snug at the ankle, therefore,  I only wore short short socks.  But in the past year or so, I have resumed wearing regular jeans (and I DO love them) and my lower calves were getting so cold in the winter!  So one of my projects is to lengthen my too short socks.  It’s a real pain, but I won’t wear them that short when it’s cold outside anymore, and it gets cold in the winter here -- except for this past one. So I KIP-ed the ribbing on the socks.  I have one more pair left to unravel the bind off of and lengthen, then all my hand knit socks will the right length except for  1 pair that were experimental. I wear those to bed and never out, so those will remain short.

Since WWKIPD has evolved into WWKIPW, I set a goal of KIPing every day of that week and succeeded.  A couple of times, it was at Panera, sometimes it was on a bench at a park before a guitar student's lesson and then there were the doctor appointments.

I have said this so many times:  "Next year, I will have a better plan."  


June is drawing to a close and although I have a lovely podcast recorded and mixed, it's not going to be posted this month - and in fact, when I finally do post my premiere Sealed 4 Ever podcast, I will have to re-record because a lot of the segments will be outdated.  Man!!!

Profuse apologies for putting out bad info, but my reason for postponing is an unplanned and completely unexpected business opportunity to which I need to devote my time and attention. I'll blog about that after my web pages etc. are functioning.

I most especially have to apologize to Material Girl, Donna.  We sat in my van and recorded as segment in which I wanted to introduce you to her and have her tell you about her crafting exploits - which are interesting and funny. She wasn't completely at ease, but our session turned out very well.  The good thing is that she can relax when we re-record, because she realized it wasn't as bad she thought it would be.  She's willing to record again, and I hope she would consider being a regular on the show.

So, the Sealed 4 Ever podcast IS coming.  I just can't say when.  I'm hoping before the summer concludes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

podcast begins this month!!

Okay, okay, I know I have vacillated like a whirling dervish...but I can't help my heretofore indecision.

I have decided that I WILL do a second podcast (the first one being for my business It won't be unique in that it will be "multi-craftsual," but rather the particular mix of segment topics. I will invite my Material Girls posse to contribute occasionally or regularly and I will have other interviews I. Addition to the usual segments I will introduce you to in the opening segment. The podcast will reflect the blog and the blog will double as a show notes page.

I'm looking forward to recording a show once or twice a month.

I really enjoy creating my guitar technique tutor podcast, which is at episode 076 as I write this post. The Sealed 4 Ever podcast will be a little less formal. I hope you'll join me for the first (and following) episodes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

successful baby gift

The director of our apartment building will be going on maternity leave, for her first baby, at the end of the month.  We had a shower for her, but E-Rex had a surgical biopsy scheduled for that day, so I couldn't attend.

i wanted to make her something for the baby and decided to crochet a baby blanket.  I sifted through my accumulation of free patterns that I have received in emails or on Ravelry and found an untraditional one (and this mother is quite untraditional) that I thought I could make quickly.  The pattern is the Caron Candy Cable Baby Blanket.

Although 2012 is my year of stash busting, and I haven't bought much in the way of yarn or fabric, I didn't have anything in my stash that would work for a baby project. So, I grabbed my Michael's and JoAnn coupons. I decided on Vanna's Choice Baby yarn for the value and because I wanted to use an acrylic so it would be hypoallergenic and could survive lots of machine washing.  The mom wanted the baby's sex to be a surprise, so my brain defaulted to yellow and green.  The pattern requires 2 colors. The yellow I chose was called, Duckie and the green was called, Sweet Pea.  What great names!!  

I don't crochet as much as I knit. It's not second nature like knitting, but I feel pretty confident. My first serious project was a quite involved afghan that was a wedding present.  By comparison, this was less complicated and worked up more quickly because rather than motifs that have to be connected, the pattern was circular. It was large and heavy to handle at the end but that beat working a bajillion ends in. 

When I gave the baby blanket to the expectant mom, she was so delighted because Sweet Pea apparently is in the same family of green that's in the nursery.  Her thank you note said that she has this blanket draped over the rocker and it looks like it belongs in the room.  I'm so glad. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

kicking up the mojo

In the Rockford Files, there were a few occasions when Jim Rockford used the term, "Mojo."  It was always sarcastic and always tickled my linguistic ear.

Over the past 6 months a lot of personal things have gotten in the way of my creative mojo.  At the beginning of the year, I had the idea that I'd dedicate some time every day or week to writing some music, because it's been a long time since I have.  That hasn't happened and rather than beat myself up about it, I'll put it on hold until that particular kind of inspiration returns.

However, I have had a good infusion of fiber mojo during the past month:

I haven't been at my sewing machine since around December, and that was only once or twice. I was relieved that my darling E-Rex was recovering from a nearly fatal illness and began making a few bags.  Shortly there after, our Dottie declined from her cancers and passed away and we were very involved helping her widower. The sewing stopped.  It seems like my sewing machine keeps reminding me that those bags, the fabric of which I have cut out and the lining of which I made, have been laying around and kind of haunting me for months.  

A week or 2 ago, I received an email from Quilters' Club of America, that offered 2 free Craftsy classes.  One, I had already signed up for: Sewing Machine 911. The other was a Block of the Month class.  I'm not a "follow a pattern" kind of crafter, ordinarily. I'm more a process rather than a project learner, but Block of the Month, on my own schedule, whenever I'm in the mood, sounded like just what I needed.  A little tiny sewing machine project that will probably improve my skill or teach me a new technique. I can probably finish them in a sitting or 2. How perfect!  I have plenty of stash.  I'm hoping to begin one of the blocks this month -- probably as soon as my work schedule changes at the end of the school year.  I'm not going to let the bag linings make me feel guilty or like I have failed to finish them.  I'll banish them to a UFO drawer for now and get past all their sad emotional context. So that's the good machine sewing mojo.

My yarn crafting is not in a funk, because knitting, in particular, has always been my go-to craft for stress relief and to carry with me to occupy down time anywhere. I've been knitting and crocheting through the last 6 months. No, not in a funk but surely eligible for an infusion of excitement and zeal. Well, that infusion has arrived in the appetizing prospect of the 2012 Ravelympics.  In 2010, I was bummed to have not participated.  Podcast after podcast that I listened to commented on the chosen challenges, hurdles, victories etc. I'd almost forgotten about it until last week.  The Ravelympic teams are being formed and I have decided to participate!  It's going to be fun. I haven't joined a team yet, but I will shortly.  The only conflict is that our church's VBS is scheduled for one of the weeks.  That's going to take away from my marathon knitting, but I'm going to compete anyway.  I have chosen the sport of shawl sailing and I have swatched for the pattern I have chosen.

Sorry the photo is grayed-out.  Better photos will follow when I begin knitting on July 27th.

I'm also planning to finish what I call,  "My Own Little Crochet U." (based on Edie Eckman's  Beyond the Square) over the summer and may even go to "grad school" on Edie Eckman's follow up book Crochet Borders (which includes each border's corner.) I know I have the photos in a Flickr set.  I may edit this later and add the link. 

So, I look forward to some happy conquests in my sewing, knitting and crocheting.  And I look forward to catch-up and then, "current" blogging.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

like i said

In March, I had the crazy notion that I was going to resume blogging - regularly or otherwise, but shortly after that post,  E-Rex and I had medical developments that added just enough distraction and interruption in our schedules, to derail my plans.  I have a situation with my thyroid gland and E-Rex began some examinations that resulted in a diagnosis of prostate cancer, which cascaded into appointments, procedures and a surgery a few days ago.  

Barring anything else developing, I'm really really really hoping to resume blogging. I have missed it. 

Of course, as summer's approaching, I'm again (for the  3rd year) thinking about a podcast.  I do one nearly every week, so the nuts and bolts of it would be easy.  If I decide to go ahead, I think I'd be prudent to only do it monthly - at least to begin.  Personally, I enjoy podcasts that have more than 1 person speaking, so I might be able to get one of my fiber friends (Material Girls) to participate in an episode every so often, to talk about their exploits too. We'll see. 

So, I hope I'm back. If you're a subscriber, please excuse what I hope is going to be a flurry of catch up posts in the coming week or so.   

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I am hoping to get back to this blog this weekend. I'll write a few long catch ups and a few " what I learned" pieces and will proceed from that point. Life has been full of surprises.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

if the slide show was missing

Yesterday I posted a slide show that may have not appeared in your email, if you subscribe via email. Here is the link if you'd like to take a look and haven't visited my blog.

I'll be back to blogging in a couple weeks, when I'm home more. Right now, most of our unscheduled time is spent with Gerry, Dot''s husband.

Moments with Dot

I will resume posting soon. In the mean time, here's a little slide show of our friend Dot.

She will be missed by all who knew her.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

vk live, take 2

Vogue Knitting Live is taking place this weekend. It's the second time this knitting mega show will be hosted at the NY Hilton.  Last year, I wanted to attend but didn't plan it because we began getting snow early (if I recall correctly, we had snow by Thanksgiving 2010) and the arches of my feet were just approaching their healing from a few years of torturous pain.   So, I was disappointed but planned not to attend.  This year, of course, when first I heard about VK Live, I thought, why don't they move it from January? The weather is always a question, but on reflection, I'm sure there are enough knitters right in Manhattan proper, to fill the show to overflowing, and I'm also sure knitters from all over will flock to the show.  The weather's going to be great this weekend, but still I'm not attending.  

The truth is, I'm keeping my spending on a tight leash.  I've recently dug around my stash, just to assess what I've got, and there is absolutely nothing I need.  I just purchased 3 skeins of a quite pricey yarn on Ebay, because the Buy It Now price was crazy and the shipping was free. Aside from a killer deal on a yarn I know I will use, I simply can't justify shopping for yarn.  

Of course the fashion shows will probably be as spectacular as last year, the kniteratti will be there and the vendors' displays will be a celebration of colorful eye candy. Still, if I  were to go, I might not maintain my resolve to not add to my stash... and I might not maintain my resolve in a big way, which would not be good for my character nor budget. So, once again, no VK Live for me.  Maybe next year.  

I will look forward to the blogs and podcasts about it and I'll watch the Tweets with interest when I'm not busy.  

learning challenge

Last night I finally had a talk with a student, who struggles with her lessons.  Let me re-phrase that. She struggles like no one I have ever witnessed struggle learning to play guitar, and I've been doing this  for a long time.  I know learning music is not her gift, but this is a much bigger issue than not being endowed with the brain bundle that allows one to process the "language" of music.  Things are complicated because I'm a close friend of the family. I have said to E-Rex, that if my student was my child, I'd have her tested because I have never seen a kid her age so incapable of retaining ANYTHING.  She's so easily confused, that when first we began guitar together, I thought it was just a phrase she threw out - I didn't think she was REALLY confused by simple things. 

When I gave her a lesson a few days ago, and she said she was so confused -- about what notes are in a scale she has been "playing" or has been asked to play, since August -- I decided to breech the subject of how hard music lessons are for her and how hard school work is for her.   We talked for over an hour. Unfortunately, she was in charge of her younger siblings because Mom and Dad went out on a free movie date night.  (They need it.  There are a lot of stressful things going on in their family.) 

We discussed that she can't retain what we do week after week, how she struggles and everything takes her longer than everyone else in school, how when she looks up a word she doesn't know, the definition is like  a bowl of alphabet soup and although she can read every word of the definition, she can't make any sense out of it. 

I was so glad we had the chat. I told her I wanted to talk to Mom and Dad - mainly because she needs some help before next school year, when she will begin high school, as well as that she needs to have a normal life and be able to learn. She was all for it and said it would be fine to talk to her parents about it with me. She seemed totally appreciative for my love and interest.  Then, I went to my next lessons.

I received a text from her dad a few hours later, saying he was sorry if she put me in the middle of something and that it was probably PMS.  I told him it wasn't PMS and that I have wanted to find a way to speak with them about her for quite a while.  I'm hopeful that they are going to listen to my observations. They see her every day and probably can't see that she's different from her peers, in her ability to  retain information. She said that she can't retain  when she reads and always has to look back if she has questions to answer. If she has to read and interpret what she reads in order to answer a question, she can't do it. If the words of the question are not in the passages she reads, she is clueless to draw a conclusion. 

I'm hoping to meet with the mom, dad and my student to discuss this before the week is over. Guitar is the least of my concerns for her.  My student told me her dad thinks she's just a distracted, day dreamy teen.  He doesn't realize the degree to which she is challenged.   It will please me to  be instrumental in helping to turn this around. It's painful to witness .  Down the road, I'm looking forward to a smile on her face and peace of mind, rather than the hopeless stress that's swallowing her up now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The sign at Grace last week and this week (because I'm not going to be changing it - scheduling issues) was:




Since September, I have been conferring with Pastor Jeff, and have usually been putting up a sign that alludes to what his sermon will be on the following Sunday.  Last week, he didn't want to put up the subject, which was marriage, divorce and remarriage as Jesus taught it in the Beatitudes, for several reasons. Mainly because there wasn't a way to make it pithy and also fully understandable. 

There has been and there still is so much mystical hype about 2012, we thought this sign was the best counter to all that speculation and credence in pagan prognostications. 

hello, cash. bye bye, stuff

So, the seals I purged from my collection sold. One set of 3, which were really nothing special garnered what they were worth. But the 2 vintage peace sign ones were a big hit and fetched a pretty penny. Yay! While I was auctioning, I also sold a pricey pair of Birkenstocks that I bought at Steppin' Birkenstock in Ridgewood last year, just before I switched to wearing and getting total arch relief from Orthaheels.  Literally, I wore them about 3 times and they were in like new condition.  My auctions ended Monday and I shipped Tuesday and today. Everyone got a good deal and I picked up a little play money.  It's true I love those Barnes and Noble gift cards, but I love the sound of cha ching even more.

love those Barnes and Noble gift cards

A student's family was very sweet to have given me some fabulous Mary Kay Satin Hands products (Mom's a rep) and a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas.  The Mary Kay Satin Hands is extraordinary. It's a 3 piece  set, most notable of which are the cleanser and the all-day non-greasy moisturizer that withstands hand washes.  Marvelous!

I used the gift card for a couple of books I have wanted to have, rather than visit in the library.  The first, joins a few other books I have by its author, Edie Eckman. The book is a small one, but a good reference. It's The Crochet Answer Book

I skimmed it.  As a proficient but not extremely experienced crocheter, I like Edie's style of writing and diagramming her designs. I'm sure it's going to come in handy as I progress in my crochet technique.  What I really like about crochet is that it's extremely sculptural and how much faster it is than knitting.  Over the past 5 or 10 years, crochet has evolved a lot and innovative stitch combinations are resulting in drapey and comfortable fabric that is well suited to garments that are not only on trend, but that look "boutique."  My Own Little Crochet U is in stall, just because life happens, but for it, I'm crocheting every motif in Edie's book, Beyond the Square. I also plan to do My Own Little Crochet Grad School by crocheting through her, Around the Corner, Crochet Borders. (Don't ask me in which life.) 

The other book I purchased joins another by that author, too. It's Ann Budd's Sock Knitting Master Class.  

It's not as though I have a shortage of sock patterns or that I'm unhappy with the techniques I already use to  knit socks. I heard two podcast reviews of this book, by extremely competent sock knitters, and they both agreed that the variety of techniques (there's that word again) that were presented, in combination with the DVD that is included,  make this an invaluable tome for every sock knitter.  Just as I'm fond of Edie Eckman's crochet books, Ann Budd is another knitter/author whose work my brain processes well. The other book of Ann Budd's that I have,which is sort of more like a recipe book than a pattern book, is The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns.  Unlike what its name suggests, it' isn't best used as a pattern book. What it enables an adventurous knitter to do, is customize patterns or design them with ease. Don't like the neck on the cardi you're knitting?  Put a shawl collar on it if you prefer it.  Want to make a gloves out of worsted rather than fingering?  No problem, there's a gauge chart for that. Making a Tam?  Well, do you desire a swirl, wheel spoke or circular center?  Ann's got you covered.

I'm looking forward to using both of the Barnes and Noble gift card books. I survived not knitting for almost everyone this Christmas and plan to continue knitting and crocheting garments and accessories for myself.  This book will be just what its title says, The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns!

easy quilts review

Several months ago I joined to Fons & Porter's Quilters Club of America, not that I needed Easy Quilts, the publication of the club, but primarily for the JoAnn VIP card, which entitles the bearer to a discount. I calculated a very conservative year of purchases and the membership cost was less than the savings.  Although it's only  early January, the Spring, 2012 issue of Easy Quilts arrived a week or so ago.

I'm more a process crafter. Teach me the technique and leave me alone so I can create my vision with it. It's rare that I will actually use a pattern as it is written, with the exception of a large knit or crochet garment. I haven't plunged into designing large garments. Too much time and stash involved. At this time, I want my crafting time to yield something that pleases me.  Designing for my own use may be down the road when I have less on my plate.

All that being said, there were a couple of quilts that were interesting in the Spring 2012 issue. I think my favorite was Modern Maze. By favorite, I mean, I could see myself making it and using it. 

The other 2 quilts, the techniques of which I can imagine myself playing with are  Buttons and Blooms, because I have a soft spot for yo-yos, and Hearts and Flowers.

This Hearts and Flowers quilt is cute and takes me back to the 60's/70's.  My version, were it to be made would take the opposite approach to color, and it would employ psychedelic, hot colors - not insane, but surely bold.  I would also probably replace the corner hearts with smaller versions of the center motif and add a wide border of a bold color wavy print. I think the pastels used in the magazine are 

I still haven't finished the 3 cloches that are nearly done.  I'm hoping to sit back down to the sewing machine this weekend. Perhaps as soon as Friday. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

kings wax

Today I spoke to Rick at King's Wax. I called to order some sealing wax. I explained that I hadn't come across him online before this week and I wanted to try his wax - both original (breakable) and mailable (flexible) varieties.  He claims to be the largest sealing wax manufacturer in the world, and I have no reason to doubt him.   I believe there are only 3 manufacturers of "real" sealing wax, as opposed to the ones that are mostly paraffin.  If the quality of his wax as I expect, his prices are reasonable for what he is offering. Heretofore, I have favored J. Herbin but I am open to trying another brand. (Hey, I'm mature. I even changed the brand guitar strings I have been using for 40 years, last year.)

I like to have some breakable wax in my stash, for certain events, but I use far more flexible wax because I put it through the tortures of the mail system.  Before the flexible formulations were available, my sealed correspondence frequently arrived chipped or completely broken. The flexible wax goes through the mail well, but one compromises  the recipient's thrill of cracking the seal when opening the  correspondence. In fact, I ceased using the company from whom I originally purchased wax - in my youth, they were the only source of which I was aware in the US.  I ceased purchasing from them because they only sold the fragile wax. 

Recently, I viewed their long over due, newly updated web site.  It surprised me to see they were now offering flexible, mailable wax.  I have a feeling that what they offer is King's. I didn't ask Rick, when we spoke.   

I'll post a review of the new wax when I receive it -- probably the end of next week or the very beginning of the following.  It will be shipped today (1/7) and is coming from Canada.

recently acquired seals

My seal collection has grown a bit. The last time I updated my seal collection page was in the summer when I purchased the Manuscript interchangeable seal coins and holder just before Borders closed its doors.

Over Christmas I received some wax seals that I didn't already have, which is a nice surprise.  One interesting one is I Love You in  American (or maybe international) sign language. Since I have a friend who instructs the deaf to whom I send correspondence throughout the year, it will be a very useful seal. I also received a vintage Merry Christmas with a bell seal with an ornate cross handle, and a vintage, German seal with holly leaves and berries. I also received a new snowflake seal and an initial D seal (not that I don't have any of those) that is a fob! What a treat! I haven't decided whether I'll suspend it from a brooch or from a chain, but either way, I will enjoy having, using and wearing the seal.

I currently have a bid on a vintage bicentennial seal in an Ebay auction that was from 1976.  The seal for auction has a sterling handle and is different from the bicentennial seal I already have.  I didn't bid much. I think the auction ends this weekend.

I put a couple of seals I never use, up for auction. They are seals that were in a set that I received as a gift some time ago. There is already a bid on them. I hope the recipient will enjoy them, whether they will be for correspondence, scrap booking or some other endeavor.

in progress

Although I haven't posted anything, the least of which, finished projects, I do have several things in progress.

When Ed was taken to the hospital, I was in the midst of what I thought was going to be Christmas sewing. I had a couple more fleece cloches in progress.

I will be getting to them soon.  I hope, this weekend.  It won't take long to finish them, and I can't even express what it will do for my sense of accomplishment.  I know they're no great shakes, but just that they will be finished will be wonderful for me.

I was also making 2 bags, the outside fabric of which, a student brought me from Israel, last year.  As soon as I looked at it, it screamed, "bag," and whispered, "pillow".  Our new sofa bed is small and has sufficient (over abundant) pillows for now.  I have only cut out the outer fabric, the lining and have attached the inner pocket fabric, and I have cut the outer pocket and its lining fabric.  I purchased handles for the bags. I will finish them, but it will most likely be after the cloches are completed.

The advantage knitting and crochet have over machine sewing, is that they are portable, providing the project isn't too large. I'm still working on my second Spanish Dancer shawl in Claudia Hand Painted fingering yarn in the Chocolate Cherry colorway. I would love it done, but I can't seem to remain project monogamous at the moment. I will complete it. I love the colors and I get a lot of use out of its older sister in Mountain Sky.

I swatched over the past month or so and have 2 projects I have jonesed to make in their very early stages:

The Tyra Top has been calling me for over a year. I'm making it from  yarn that has been in my stash, literally, for 25 years. I remember purchasing tons of it at Flatlands Yarncraft, when it was in Paramus, in the mall across Rte 4 from the Bergen Outlets. Is this when I should note that the Tyra Top's yarn is not the only yarn I have from 25 years ago from Flatlands?  Since I confessed it, I have to add that the skeins in my stash are the left overs from previously made projects (that were made and/or given away in the 80's and 90's.)

This is a very unusual garment that will serve the purpose of a light vest or shawl, but I just love the asymmetry of it.  The 2/2 rib shown is the back band. The yarn is called  Carnivale by Neta Yarns that is no longer in business by that name. It's a blend of acrylic, rayon, mohair and  nylon. I can't wait to wear this garment.

The other garment that has had my attention for quite a while is a Lion Brand pattern called the Cable Luxe Tunic. Because of my salt and pepper hair, I am actually making it out of the same heather gray colorway specified in the pattern.  I think that's a first.

What you see above is just the beginning of the cabled yoke, below the garter stitch upper yoke. This is a flattering style and I know the plethora of cables will be a visual feast. This one is going to take longer but I would like to strive to get it done before it's too warm to wear it.  Wool-Ease is fairly warm because it's mainly acrylic with only 20% wool.  

In addition to the second Spanish Dancer I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I also have a pair of socks on needles. I think I began them a year ago. My feet want them to be finished, but I think Tyra is going to be the first WIP that will move to the Done! category.

Friday, January 6, 2012

where do I start?

I can't believe I haven't blogged since late October, but I'm not without excuse. Ed's health crisis was the night of November 10th and he wasn't released from the hospital until the 18th.  He was helpless for the first week he was home.  Then, we had a very quite, thankful Thanksgiving.  The following week, he still needed some assistance.  To say our lives went on hold would be an understatement.  All my Christmas crafting came to a stand still.

Just when I thought I would be able to post a few things here, about a month after Ed's hospitalization, I came home from teaching, Thursday, December 15th.  Just like the previous month, I found him uncharacteristically in bed, again with a fever, and again, nauseated. I won't elaborate any further than to say that it was a set back that neither of us thought we would have. Just as he began to improve,  I thought I felt queasy because I was suggestible. Not so.  I must have picked up a stomach bug.  It debilitated me for about 4 days.  It was at least a week before I was taking anything close to "normal" nutrition. (The only good thing was that I lost 3.5 pounds right before Christmas, which was good because too many nice people gave us good chocolate!)

Then, Christmas was upon us. Dottie's toxicity from her chemo caused her to be too sick to get together with us for Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve.  This year was the first Christmas Eve we didn't spend with her and Gerry in 28 years.  We had a quiet evening with a Christmas Eve service at church and simple dinner.  Christmas Day we dined at the home of our good friends, the Fosters, after church.  It was a delightful day. In attendance were Grove and Susan (the Fosters who were our hosts) and Michael (their son), Denise (their daughter-in-law) and their grand children Cole and Katelyn.  Grover and Ed are good friends and spend a lot of time together.  Susan and I have several parallel interests about which we're always comparing notes. What are the chances that at a dinner table of 8 there would be 2 Denises?  It was weird.  Michael is an animator and is also a guitar player.  Cole and Katelyn are always my star students in Children's Church classes. It was great to share a meal, fellowship and celebrate that Jesus condescended to enter our dimension of space and time so we could be saved from the penalty of sin.

We gave up our Fondue New Year's Eves last year. Had we not, Ed would not have gotten it this year, now that he is missing a gall bladder and the organ that processes fat. We had a more modest meal, and as usual, toasted the  2012 with a glass of de-alcoholized Asti at midnight. 

Tuesday, I resumed a regular schedule.  I'd like to aspire to blogging at the very least weekly. We'll see. This year, in addition for trying to build time into my life schedule for the things I love to do, I'm also going to try to get on a better sleep schedule.  That's a hard one, but I have maintained the discipline to renew the way I look at food and how I eat.  Now, I have to discipline my use of time and cipher how I am going to use it more wisely/not waste it.  The domino effect should be me getting enough rest and having quality time for my avocational passions.

Here's to 2012.
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