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Mother’s Day has presented me with the opportunity to attempt something I’ve been wanting to for awhile.  I’ve long been intrigued by knitalette‘s beautiful crochet-covered stones.  I could see them as something Mom would like, which she quickly confirmed when I showed her the photos a few weeks ago.

Yesterday, I sat down with stone, thread, and hook in hand.  While Mom was in the dining room working on collages with the boys, I fiddled away in the living room…and was able to present her with this a short time later:


I’ve not had much luck with freeform crochet in the past, but this medium  worked well for me.  I’m quite happy with the results, and Mom is even happier, having requested a small pile of them.  Success!

Yesterday, I made a stone.

Today, I made time.  The boys and I spent a nice portion of the afternoon on the back porch, reading and drawing and coloring.


Nicky had Book Fair books to devour, and I’m reading yet another historical fiction set around the British monarchy.  Kalen was incredibly patient with us, flipping through Nicky’s new Pokemon guidebook for some time before finally asking to play a game.  I sheepishly put my book aside and “encouraged” Nicky to do the same.  When Kalen realized he had our attention, the game idea was quickly scratched in favor of coloring.  True to their forms, Nicky chose a coloring book, and Kalen grabbed a sketchbook.

Nicky likes being inside the lines.  Kalen likes making his own lines.


When I was a little girl and unable to let go of my perfectionism, I preferred coloring books, too.  I still like them, but I’m now able to embrace non-realism in my own drawing…to view drawing as an extension of my ever-present doodling rather than trying to make my hands create precisely what my eyes see.

It’s a wonder what an hour with crayons and markers will do for your morale.


I have been crocheting lately, just not saying much about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that a friend of ours had lost her sister.  It was not a sudden death, but of course, it is a tragic and heartwrenching loss.  I decided on the spot that our friend would need a hug, so I spent the week crocheting this for her.


Pattern: Feather Stole by Elizabeth Myers
Yarn: Reclaimed Acrylic/Angora
Hook: I’ve already forgotten (oops…E, maybe?)

If you like it, if you want to compliment it, I ask instead that you visit the Scleroderma Foundation and make a donation with our friend’s family in mind.  Even if you can only manage a dollar or two, please consider it.  This is a disease that – in its most serious form – can completely debilitate its victims, with no known cure and unknown cause.

I’ve felt oddly out of crochet mode since finishing the stole.  I’ve worked a bit on a hat and some other things for the Mattaponi project.  I know I’ll get back in the mood shortly.  I have too many unfinished projects and too many hanks of yarn tempting me from their drawer in the closet.

Today, Mom and I visited Knitch for some yarn fondling and to find her a set of DPN’s.  (She’s going to knit her first socks!)  Yarn was fondled, and DPN’s were purchased, after which we headed out for an amazing lunch.  I needed a few hours of not thinking about the near future.

In a couple of weeks, Jason and I will be driving to Seattle, where I’ll leave him to find a room to rent, and I will hop a plane back here.  Again, Mom & Dad come through, offering to watch the boys while I’m gone.  I’m decidedly unthrilled at the upcoming indefinite period of single parenting, not to mention missing my best friend in the world like crazy.  Still, I know it’s what needs to happen, and it is only temporary, after all.  Jason’s already lost one position to a Seattlite, for the sole reason of distance.  One that we know of, that is.  He needs to be local to get the interviews.

We’ve had two showings in the past three days, after a drought of more than a month.  I hope this is a sign of things to come, and that the rebate for first-time house buyers in stimulus package encourages more lookers and an offer or two.  As our Realtor says, “Everyone wants a deal,” but what ‘everyone’ fails to realize is that they’re already getting a deal.  Regardless, we can’t afford to be too choosy.  Serious offers will be considered and counter-offered, and a deal will happen.  Someone is going to get an incredible deal, indeed.

Last week, we had parent-teacher conferences.  Kalen’s consisted of, “Any questions?  No?  Here, sign these forms…he’s doing great.”  Nicky’s was nearly as simple.  Consequently, I spent too much time just chatting with the teachers, wonderful women all.  Okay, not too much time; nothing but good can come from being friendly and on good terms with your children’s teachers.

The boys have taken the news of Jason moving very well, which leads me to wonder if they really grasp it.  They had been prepared for the possibility of his getting a job and moving before the house sold, but this is a quick decision and thus a quick blow.  We’re working on assigning simple chores that will help them fill Daddy’s shoes and give them some responsibilities and distractions.

Forgive my stream-of-consciousness, a literary style I greatly despise.  My brain seems to be in that mode lately, though, so I suppose it’s best to just let it go.

A relaxing day…

10:03 am – Fun Book


12:48 pm  – Stitch-n-Bitch with Mom


1:17 pm – Grandma and Kalen Have a Chat


3:29 pm – V-day Gift for the Boys from Grandma & Grandpa


3:31 pm – Sneak Peak of the Sketch for My First Silly String Challenge


3:32 pm – Contemplating the Stash for Above Project


3:49 pm – The Crocus are Blooming!!


5:08 pm – Planning a Very Long Drive


6:29 pm – Cute Kid I


6:29 pm – Cute Kid II


7:24 pm – O.M.G. — Both Cars Fit in the Garage!


7:39 pm – Filling in the State Quarter Books


For a complete roll call of the 12 of 12 participants, visit Chad’s Blog!

Yesterday, Jason asked me when I was going to install my software and start digiscrapping again.  He really doesn’t read this blog.  Spooky how we’ve been reading each others’ minds lately!

Over the weekend, I began a poncho and a sweater for the Mattaponi project.  They’re bright and cheerful – just what I need.


Both are being done in Caron Simply Soft, because it’s durable and washable while still being soft to the touch.  If you’re on Ravelry, you can check out the details on my projects page.  If not, I’ll post them when the items are finished!


On the personal front, I did apply/register with the only temporary staffing agency near here.  It’s interesting how many of those companies are gone now.  I suppose it’s a sign of the market.  The woman at the agency said there really aren’t that many temping jobs around any more.  It used to be that you could basically stay employed full-time just working one- and two-week contracts as a receptionist and/or administrative assistant.  Ah well, it will be what it will be.  Time to start brainstorming and dive headlong into my budgets!  That, however, is a project for a day when I do not have a sick child home from school and do have more than five minutes of quiet.

In restrospect, I realize I ended yesterday’s post with one of my least favorite words in the English language:


Thinking about that final sentence now, I’m cringing.  I am consistent in jumping upon this word when other people use it.  When you “try” something, you leave yourself a big excuse for failure.  As the wise little muppet said, “Do!  Or do not!  There is no try.”*  So, I am not going to try to balance crochet and digiscrapping.  I am going to find a way to incorporate both into my life in a way that makes me happy.  So there!

Now, let’s leave the serious stuff behind and get back to some craftiness.  I was looking through my projects folder the other day and realized that I never shared one of my Christmas gifts.  It’s not a big deal, but it’s a neat little bag:


Pattern: Go Green Market Bag by Suzetta Williams
Yarn: Something cheap & scratchy from a garage sale
Hooks: H & J
Pattern Modifications: For Rounds 7-15, I changed the V stitches to each have 2 ch’s rather than 1. Then, I added two more rows of V stitches, each with 1 ch in the V’s, before changing back to the H hook and finishing.

This was a little gift for my mother-in-law.  She didn’t have any reuseable market bags, so I thought this would work nicely for her.  I was really surprised at how much I was able to fit in the bag for the photo.

My current WIP is a poncho for a little girl.  The Knitters for Obama group has chosen their next service project and are knitting and crocheting items for the Mattaponi Indian Tribe of eastern Virginia.  This is a tribe unrecognized by the federal government and in need of supplies.  As one of the ladies said, the things we make them won’t solve their problems, but they will show them that someone cares and will keep them warm in the cold weather.  If you’re interested in helping, either by making items or donating yarn, send me a message for the guidelines, or check out the “New Service Project” thread in the Knitters for Obama forum on Ravelry.  This is open to all.  It is our goal to make our service projects multipartisan efforts, and everyone who wishes to participate is welcome.

*This is an expression that garners mixed reaction in my husband.  On one hand, he loves that I’m a Star Wars gal.  On the other, he’s pretty darn sick of my reminding him of this line.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend j. IM’d and asked if I would make a hat for a friend of hers just beginning her chemo journey.  I agreed, of course, and when she sent the yarn, I happily set aside my other projects and whipped up a hat.  When that used half the skein, I decided to complete the set with some wrist warmers.


Something hit me while I was working on this project and another comfort gift last week.  I was more content than I had been in a while.  In fact, as I packaged them up for shipping, I was saddened the project was over.

I love crocheting, and, yes, I love crocheting things for myself.  However, the peace that fills me while I’m making a gift – especially a gift for someone truly in need of comfort – is undeniable.

I grew up with service being an integral part of my social life.  Girl Scouts and 4-H both put a heavy emphasis on serving others and the Earth as part of being a good citizen.  I was raised in a religion that heavily emphasizes social justice.  I lost sight of this to a certain extent upon reaching adulthood.  That is to say, while I understood the necessity of being a giving person, I didn’t often make the time or effort to follow through.

Over the past few years, though, the true meaning and purpose of life has begun to cement itself in my conscious mind.  And it is this: It is all about love, empathy, and understanding.  We are all one.  We are all indivisible.  A woman three thousand miles away is a sister to us all.  The cap I make her will not cure her cancer, but the knowledge that someone cares for her enough to make the effort may bring a smile to her face on a day when she really needs it.  A positive attitude will help her in her healing.

Giving and sharing are central to my belief system.  It is not enough to do for others to fulfill a duty, or because one thinks she should.  I do, because it is right.  I cannot understand how I could live life correctly without it, or if I am unable to contribute for a time, without supreme empathy.  Yes, of course, I also give because it feels good.  I am only human, after all.  But it cannot be the only reason or the driving force.  I cannot feel only good about making such a small gesture when there is so much dire need; there is always a certain amount of despair that accompanies it.  Sadness that I am not doing more.  I can only do as much as I can do with the resources that I have, and I suppress the negative emotion once I acknowledge it, because I strongly believe that it does little good to dwell on it.

Of course, I need to work to achieve balance in this, as in all areas of my life.  (Balance is always my biggest struggle.)  My boys would both like me to crochet something for them, and I have another pair of socks to make for myself with the yarn gift from my husband.  I am also beginning to feel pulled back towards digital scrapbooking, but I’m resisting.  I’m afraid that I will follow my old pattern: when I pick up another creative pursuit, my current one gets shoved in a drawer, often for years.  I’m not ready to give up on crochet, even for a short break, but can I balance both digiscrapping and crocheting as leisure time pursuits?  Perhaps keeping service projects going with the crochet will help prevent its decline?  I suppose the only thing to do is try.

[Note: I came up with all sorts of punny, cheesy titles for today’s post: Sock It To Me, Sock-cess, Put a Sock On It…aren’t you glad I resisted temptation?]

Back in November, in the midst of Christmas crafting, I made a pledge. I promised myself that January would be dedicated to making something (maybe even more than one something) for myself. Just for me. I’ve gotten a bit side tracked on other projects (more on that another day), but I have, in fact, kept my promise to myself.

First, I finished my hat.


Pattern: Driftwood Cap by Ellen Gormley (Interweave Crochet, Fall ’08 )
Yarn: Knitpicks Bare, DK weight, Dyed by Yours Truly
Hook: Handcarved, probably an H

I love it.

After I finished the hat, I recomitted to making my first pair of socks.  If you’ve seen my new Twitter feed over on the left, you may have read some of my frustrations and triumphs as I crocheted them.


Pattern: Origami Turkish Socks by Deb Burger
Yarn: Knitpicks Bare, fingering weight, Dyed by Moi
Hook: F (Hero)

This pattern is unique for socks, in that you crochet them flat, based on the measurements of your foot, then seam them up, hopefully for a perfect fit.


I have to admit to a lot of frustration at the beginning of this project.  My first two tries ended up with cuffs waaaay too large for my ankle.  I did finally figure it out, though, and once I got that fixed and started on the foot, it went really quickly.


As you can see, the foot portion fits like a glove.  The cuff is a bit loose; it sort of feels like I’m wearing a loose turtle neck around my ankle.  But I can get used to that.

I’m ready to try my second pair of socks.  Jason bought me some Alpaca Sox when he was in Seattle last week, and he informs me that he’d like to see them crocheted up sometime soon.  See how he twists my arm?  Every crafter needs a good enabler.

As Jason suggested, I used my Kool New Yarn to make myself a hat.

Unfortunately, out of the thirty or so hooks I own, I can find every single one except my only “I” hook.  Seriously.  I have 3 “N” hooks, 2 “J” hooks, and multiples of several others, but I only have one “I,” and it’s nowhere to be found.

So, I used the hand-carved hook I bought for my Grandma at Fisherman’s Wharf when I was in high school.  It felt like it might be a little bigger than my “H” hooks (yep, I have two of those, too).  Apparently not.  The hat is approximately the right size for a seven-year-old girl (gamely tested by one of our friends at karate class).  I do not have the head of a seven year old girl.


I briefly considered simply giving the hat to said seven-year-old, before remembering my pledge to do make things for myself after months and months of gift making.  Plus, I love that yarn, so I frogged it halfway and am adjusting as I go.  It really is pretty.

In dyeing news, I was so thrilled with the end result of this yarn, I decided to use the last two packets of Kool-Aid (orange) in the pantry.  But on what?  Ah-ha!  The ugly yarn I dyed last summer!  And we’ll add a bunch of yellow food coloring in for good measure.

Before, a greyed-out pile of pink and blue yarn.  Blah:


During – I tried in vain to get a photo that didn’t look like overcooked pasta:


After – much better:


This is going straight into my stash.  It’s not a soft yarn, so I’m loathe to make a wearable out of it.  We shall see what it becomes!

Last summer, I bought a skein of Knitpicks Bare fingering weight, with the intent of dyeing it to crochet my first pair of socks during the Olympics.

Didn’t happen.

With the advent of the new year, and our major housework behind us for the time being, I was inspired to pull out that skein and do something with it.  I had told myself many times that January would be a month of crocheting purely for myself.  And if it’s going to be indulgently mine, shouldn’t it be my favorite color?  A semi-solid green was my goal, so I decided on the crock pot method, with lemon-lime in two glasses, lemon-lime and lemonade in one glass, and lemon-lime and blue raspberry in the last glass.

Step One:

Dye it!  (OK, for all of you in the know about dyeing, this shouldn’t be step one, should it?  Step one should be soaking the yarn.  I was a little over-eager and plunged right in.  Literally.)


So, since I missed a step and shoved the dry yarn right into the dye, it exhausted instananeously.  The result of this was that not all the yarn got hit.  And I was out of any variation of green Kool-Aid, with a strict prior oath to myself NOT to buy a single thing for this project.  Dang.

After letting it heat up for a couple of hours, I crossed my fingers and over-dyed most of the skein with a mixture of blue and yellow food coloring, rinsed it, spun out the water, and hung it to dry.


Ooh, pretty!

Even more pretty once it’s all skeined up.


I’ve begun crocheting my socks, and I’ll give details on those once I figure out what I’m doing and can take a photo of some sort of progress.

Last night, I made the mistake of browsing Ravelry’s Kool Way to Dye group’s gallery at 10pm.  By 10:20, I was setting this up for a microwave dye with another hank of Knitpicks Bare (DK weight) I had on hand:


(That’s a mug set inside a Corningware dish.  This time, I did remember to soak the yarn first, but it still exhausted so quickly I was left with big-time white space.  I remembered as it was happening that this is common when dealing with superwash.  Pretty when it’s what you’re going for, but not at all what I wanted.)

After a couple of spins in the microwave, I had something not at all like I wanted.  I had set out with the intention of doing a mostly blue skein with some reds, pinks, purples…or something like that.  This was not it.


So, I set up for another dye.  More blues!  And, hey, let’s add a little grape to make it a purplish blue.

Ugh.  I didn’t even take photos, I was so unhappy with it.

At this point, I thought, “What the hell?  I hate it, so what’s the harm in really playing around?”  I put more water in the tea kettle and mixed up some orange for a little dip dyeing.  Then repeated with the packet of strawberry I had in the pantry.  Jason called it a “rainbow of fruit flavors.”

I went to bed with this hanging in the laundry room.  I was not happy.


As soon as the boys were on the bus this morning, I went in to ponder my mess.  I was still not happy, but I figured, if all else fails, I can put it up for sale or trade on Ravelry.  Someone might like it.

So I reskeined it.


Umm…that’s not so bad…


In fact, that’s pretty darn gorgeous.  I’d call it a keeper.  Jason suggested I make myself a hat, and I think I will.

The kids are in bed after two days of rambunctious fun, yesterday with my family, today with Jason’s.

I have finished reading the latest installment of Dad’s naval memoirs.  (He writes another hundred or more pages each year and gives them to us for Christmas.  They are very eagerly awaited and quickly and thoroughly devoured.)

Jason is unwinding, finishing up a game on the PS2, and the Mythbusters marathon is on.

I am pondering how I will spend my B&N gift card, and wondering how long I can stretch my Starbucks gift cards.

Yep, it’s a typical Christmas night in our household, everyone stuffed to the gills with food and love, carols fading quickly into memory, gifts waiting patiently to find their permanent places of storage.  (And wrapping paper and accoutrements staring accusingly from the dining room table.  I’ll put you away tomorrow, I promise.)  I hope your evening is as cozy and satisfying.

As promised, photos of the last two presents finished just under the wire Tuesday night:


For my sister.  This picture is from a desk calendar she had in junior high school.  It was published by the Costume Designers Guild of America and featured several drawings like this.  I found the calendar this summer when I was helping Mom clean out their basement and grabbed it with a vague idea of something like this for Christmas.  The frame has been in my office closet for several years.  I bought it because I loved it, but I never found the “just right” photograph for it.  I’m pretty sure it’s because I would need it for this drawing.  (I also wrapped up the calendar and gave it to her, and she got a kick out of reading about her eighth-grade social life.)


For Mom.  Another Easy Peasy Crochet Bag, this time with a square base, and sized to be a knitting project bag for her.  It ended up being precisely the size she needed.  (Success!)


I lined it with one of Mom’s old shirts.  She brought several to me last month when I mentioned my all-handmade holidays, knowing that I could use the fabric.  She was amused to receive it back.  I’m proud of myself for remembering to sew in a pocket to hold needles and such.

And that’s it.  I think I’ve shared all of the gifts, save Jason’s hat and scarf, and it’s really much too warm to force him to model them at the moment.  All in good time.  Not to worry, though.  There will be no dearth of projects to share.  One of the boxes under Mom’s tree with my name on it was filled with the most scrumptious of yarns, and I’ve been frogging sweaters…there’s plenty left to be made in ’09.

My boys

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