30 July 2007


Okay, the general plan for this week was to have a few quiet days taking the kids to the pool, maybe getting a haircut, maybe making an appointment with an opthamologist, and generally recovering from the Big Stressful Event aluded to in my previous post (the BSE was actually the An Samhra Feis, about which more later).

Much staring at the wall was planned. Also, I'm starting to feel guilty about not planning out our next year of homeschooling, other than a vague idea to continue what we've been doing so far. It seems like I should be planning it down to the week, at least, if not down to the day. Other homeschoolers are posting their Big Plans, or at least mentioning that they have Big Plans. I am so very UnPlanned. Yikes!

But now my plan for my planning week has already been shot down, as I have discovered that we are having out of town visitors for much of the week.

In other words, I am apparently unable to even plan on planning.

Ah well.

The feis went well Saturday, as far as I could tell. We've only been to one feis before, back in February, so we don't have a huge feild of comparison. The one in February seemed like mayhem, but I think the first feis you ever walk into ALWAYS appears to be mayhem (plus that one had icky weather, and was the same weekend as the Mardi Gras parade nearby, which made parking tough, and meant many drinking parade-goers wearing Mardi Gras beads were wandering around outside the hotel, while hundreds of girls with those surrealistic curly wigs and gaudy dresses were wandering around inside the hotel, and, well, it was just mind boggling). We came away Saturday with some medals and some new friendships, which I think is a pretty good thing. Parking was bad, although I expected that, given the venue. Kid1 broke a bracket eating a cup of ice cream from the Cold Stone Creamery there, so that was pretty weird (another unplanned event -- a trip to the orthodontist this afternoon).

I still have reels playing in my head. Listening to 4 hours straight of Irish music will do that to you. I can't imagine what it's like to have to stay there all day for the later competitions. Let that be a warning to those of you considering Irish Dance as a hobby.

(A year ago I would've read this post and wondered what the heck a "feis" is. It's an Irish Dance contest. The world of Irish Dancing is very ... unique and unexpected. There were over 800 people entered in this feis; I saw maybe a dozen boys, and 3 adults amongst the competitors. The rest were girls, almost all of whom had The Hair and some variation of The Dress. You have to see it to believe it.)

27 July 2007

Vacation Bible School

This week has been VBS week here at our house. The kids are going, but I'm not. They've got some sort of space theme going, as you can see by this flying saucer that Kid2 made during craft time:

Why, yes, that IS the symbol for the Star Trek version of the Galactic Empire (the mirror universe that showed up in the original series and in Star Trek Enterprise; Kid2 knows it from the Enterprise series). An interesting choice for a Bible School craft. I found myself pondering which is more important: spreading the Gospel in the ruthless, assassination-prone Galactic Empire, or spreading the Gospel in the godless, New Agey Federation. But I'm not involved oin helping with VBS this year, so these deep ponderings will go undiscussed. (That piece of paper on the edge is covering her name, by the way -- it isn't some funky docking port.)

One weird quirk about VBS this year -- when I pull into the driveway after picking the kids up there's a doe standing in the neighbor's yard. The same doe, day after day. She just sort of stares at us, her mouth full of Stella D'Oro daylilies. Then she wanders off to check out the geraniums. I feel a little guilty for not scaring her off (the neighbor really likes those daylilies), but it's all so surreal that I find myself hesitating.

What I've been doing whilst children are learning about VBS-type stuff:

Day One: Browse in bookstore. Shop at Whole Foods without having to spend 15 minutes at gelato bar -- heck, I didn't even LOOK at the gelato bar. Purchase magazine and pastry for myself; sit at home with cat on my lap enjoying both.

Day Two: Sew. Complete pair of capri pants for Kid2 (amazing what you can get done with no interruptions). Read book from library. Eat Snap Pea Crisps.

Day Three: Sit at Midas in cold waiting room while brake pads are replaced. Alternate knitting and reading library book while waiting, waiting, waiting. This takes entire VBS time, but now my brakes are much more brakey, and not making that odd noise.

Day Four: Run errands relating to Big Stressful Event taking place Saturday (this is the event I've been dreading for about 4 months now; it's here, it's happening, and I'm about to throw up from nervous anticipation). Also, browse in bookstore more, and finally find new journal.

Day Five: Today! Blog! Clean house! Make lists of things to be done by Big-Stressful-Event-time tomorrow, as well as lists of things to take along.

VBS is over early today, so I must get moving. Blogging will probably become more regular after I recover from Big Stressful Event. I think I might even think about homeschooling again -- you know, start thinking about what we might do this coming year other than taking the car to be repaired, sewing, knitting and watching Star Trek.

16 July 2007

That night I dreamt of seam rippers

I was in a fabric store and saw a really FUN fabric -- polka dots! in pink and green and black! Fun! And could coordinate with, well, with pink or green or black!

Oh boy! What FUN pattern could I use to sew this up? How about something with a flounce, because nothing is quite so FUN as a flounce! Better yet, an asymmetrical flounce, because asymmetrical is not only FUN, but also whimsical. Ooooh, a FUN, whisical skirt ... I can hardly wait.

I traced out a skirt from Ottobre Woman 2/2007 -- design #13. And that flounce was hard to trace, by the way. I ended up using yellow highlighter on the original so I could follow the pattern lines on the Pattern Ease.

And I whipped up that FUN skirt.

(Still working on how to shoot a non-flash non-blurry picture in a somewhat dirty mirror, as you can see)

Oh. Oops. Just because the fabric and pattern are both FUN doesn't mean they should be used together. Even the cat looks as though she is rolling her eyes.

MrV commented that the higher swoop of the flounce looked like I had fabric bunched up in my undies. Which struck me as pretty funny. But, really, how can you wear a skirt in public after a comment like that? Also, this length makes my legs look fat. Also, I was sewing with the windows open whilst someone in this town was playing Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy at such a volume that not only did it flatten all the trees in a 5 mile radius, but it also lodged itself in the very fiber of this skirt so every time I look at it I hear the song in my head.

Well, what did I learn from this experience?

Invisible zippers are a heck of a lot easier to put in with an invisible zipper foot. Last time I tried one I used a regular zipper foot. It was not a good experience. This one pratically put itself in. I felt like I was cheating.

Putting in petersham at the waistband is a cinch, and does work well.

Ottobre skirt patterns have bigger fronts than backs. Its been ages since I sewed an American skirt pattern, but I vaguely remember that the backs are bigger than the fronts. I suppose this causes it to hang differently. Or perhaps European women are built differently. Next time, though, I will make the front smaller.

Also, having chosen the size based on my hip measure (per the Ottobre suggestion) this was huge in the waist. I deepened the darts, and added an extra set of darts in the back. Next time I will alter the waist before cutting out.

I have discovered an inner compulsion to finish items even though they don't look that great. I hemmed it and tacked the lining to the zipper after I realized I will probably never wear it.

And, most of all, I really really need to get a grip on visualizing what finished items are actually going to look like when put together and placed on my body.

(I really did dream of seam rippers after I made this. They were dancing around like the dishes in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Amazingly enough, they were NOT dancing to Led Zeppelin.)

13 July 2007

Crochet Hooks

All fiber-craft bits and bobs in our extended family eventually filter down to me. Fabric, yarn, knitting needles, quilt frame, embroidery hoops, tatting shuttles ... eventually someone decides that I am heir apparent to these collections.

My grandma was particularly fond of crochet. Now that she has passed away I have all of her hooks.

It doesn't look like such a huge collection in this little photo, but believe me, that's a lot of crochet hooks to have in one place.

Some of these are my hooks, particularly some of the large ones. The ones with tape around the bottom are ones I used to teach crochet at Girl Scouts (the tape identified them as loaners for the girls who didn't happen to have a hook).

But those little steel ones? Those are pretty much all Grandma's.

Crochet was the first fiber craft she loved. She used to carry her crochet with her everywhere, tucking it into her pocket. One day she was walking along the lane, crochet in pocket. A neighbor was driving by in his horse-and-wagon (this was when Grandma was a young girl, you know). The neighbor offered her a ride. She jumped up in the wagon. And the crochet hook went right into her leg, digging right into the flesh, hook-end first. Years later she was fairly succinct about the incident -- it hurt a lot and was very hard to pull back out.

I find myself looking at these hooks and wondering if one of them is the actual hook in the story.

I think that would've been enough to put me right off of crochet. But she kept with it. And, towards the end she gave up quilting and knitting, but she stuck with the crochet.

Grandma died 2 years ago. But her legacy remains.

11 July 2007


My parents have decided it's time to sell their 3-bedroom house and move to a smaller apartment. This move involves clearing out quite a bit of Stuff.

Most of the furniture has been taken care of, as well as the yardwork related items (we now own a hammock and a snowblower, among other things). And now they're getting down to the real knitty-gritty of moving -- sorting through the momentos of a lifetime, deciding which to keep.

Through the years people have been quite fond of giving my parents handmade gifts. Quite, quite fond, as a matter of fact. I'm not sure what it is about Mom and Dad that radiates "hey, if you make stuff why not give us a sample?" Dad is a retired pastor; perhaps people like to give their pastor handmade gifts? (And, if so, does that indicate love or passive-aggressive thoughts about religion? There have been those items that make one pause and wonder ... most of those have quietly disappeared in previous moves, though.)

This afghan didn't make the cut to go to the new apartment, so I rescued it from the Goodwill bag:

It was woven on a Weavette. Each square has a finished size of 3.25 inches; there are 192 squares. Those grey squares are green in real life.

The guy who wove it (no clue what his name is -- Mom and Dad remember, but he wasn't a close friend of the family) finished it off with cross stitch and a crocheted border:

At least I assume he finished it off himself. Maybe he farmed that part out. Who knows? But, isn't it a triumph of the imagination? How many people with palm-sized looms would decide to weave up a couple hundred squares, put them together into a throw, and then give it to someone with whom they don't have a close personal relationship?

How did he design it? I can picture coloring in squares on graph paper, but who knows. Perhaps there are Weavette patterns floating around in books (this was before the Internet, so I know he didn't simply download it).

By the way, Mom and Dad's house sold within a week, so they'll be moving later this month. In the meantime, they've learned that Dad has a rapidly growing cancer, so he will also be starting radiation treatments this month. Sigh. This was already earmarked as The Most Stressful Month of 2007 on our calendars due to the huge number of Important Things We Must Do this month, which means we can't be there to help them. On the bright side, if we all make it through all of this, the rest of the year should be a piece of cake in comparison.

03 July 2007

UFO Resurrection for July

It's time to get back to Sahara

One could argue that this didn't really achieve UFO status since I always planned to return to it once I finished the Sockapalooza socks.

But it HAD reached what-a-mess-I'd-like-to-stick-this-in-a-bag-and-forget-about-it status. When I pulled it out to work on it the other day I realized that I had no idea where I was in the pattern, and didn't really recall what size I was making. After about an hour of fiddling around with it yesterday I managed to figure out where I am (I think I'm at the waist, although I wouldn't be surprised to discover otherwise) and the probable size. I even managed to knit a row.

I'd feel better about plunging into this UFO resurrection if I had any inkling where I put the rest of the yarn. Once I finish this skein I may return to the stick-this-in-a-bag-and-forget-about-it method of dealing with this sweater.

Stay tuned.

02 July 2007


The Sockapalooza socks are done:

Child's French Sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. Knit on size 0 needles out of yarn dyed by Lisa Souza.

I blocked them a bit. That is, I soaked them in cool water, squeezed the water out, then laid them out on a towel. I never block socks for myself, plus my local sock guru said that off the 20 pairs she's knit for other people she's never blocked any. But I thought a bit of a block might be nice. The person for whom I knit them hangs her socks to dry, so I don't think she's particularly fussy.

Okay, now, on to the next thing ... what the heck was I up to before I got all wound up about these socks?