Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Really BIG Change

Well, if you still pop in from time to time to see what I'm up to and if I've finally come out of my hibernation from posting, ta da! I'm back! Before you get all excited and expect to see pics of the 100's of things I've knit since May, I must warn you: I have not been knitting. Yes, you read that correctly. I. have. not. been. knitting.

Well! Got that out of the way.

I wish I could tell you that I've been really busy doing something deeply meaningful these past months like writing a novel or getting a law degree, but for the most part I've been consuming vast quantities of beer and novels. Satisfying, yes. Productive, no.

After turning 39, I decided that I wanted to be "Fabulous at 40" and was working hard at that goal with a new job and a really fit body when my mom found out that her kidney cancer had returned after 16 years. Needless to say, all of my personal goals took a back seat for several months. I'm happy to report that mom's 6 month cancer check-up was clean and that she has finally retired and is on the road to better health. I say better instead of "good" because she is still struggling with other health issues that are not insurmountable or life threatening, but nonetheless limit her ability to enjoy her retirement. Having devoted so much of my time to providing daily support to someone else, I needed some time to gestate and decide how I wanted to proceed with my own plans.

The first major change came when a woman at my office started a charity based social sports group with her husband. Somehow, I was talked into joining a kickball team by my co-workers. Let me just tell you this: I am not, nor have I ever been, anything remotely close to athletic. Sure, I took Pilates classes for several years and even joined a gym or two over the years, but never once participated in team sports (I don't count that fire pit of hell known as "gym" that I was forced to endure throughout until my junior year in high school when it became and elective rather than mandatory class). When I joined the team, I did it thinking that I'd quit when the 6 week season ended. Surprise surprise. I'm now in the fall league and enjoying the heck out of myself despite my somewhat mediocre stats and am eagerly looking forward to the "varsity" indoor kickball league. It helps, of course, that our team has done very well throughout and is so far undefeated this season.

Did I mention that I am the oldest person on my team? OK, it's only by a year, but still.

After several months of kickball (did I mention the post game happy hour?) and no Pilates and drinking lots and lots of beer, I found my clothes getting tighter and tighter and tighter. At first I told myself that I'd just hop back on my trusty South Beach plan, sign up for a Pilates class and I'd be right back in shape. But it didn't happen that way. Instead, every night before bed I'd vow "Tomorrow I will eat better". Ha! It wasn't until my annual physical exam in September, upon learning that I'd gained 24 (twenty-four) pounds in one year that I realized that I needed to snap out of it. My doctor told me "At your age, in order to loose weight, you either need to starve yourself or get some exercise and the first option isn't very desirable". WAAAAH!

So I decided to do something radical. I decided to start running.

Before I go any further, you must know this: I hate running. I have always hated running. I would proudly boast to anyone who ever asked me "I'm not made for running! It hurts my knees/hips/ankles". My experience with running can be best summed up in four words: Painful Humiliation And Failure. I'm sure it all stems back to junior high when, as part as some national fitness program, we were all forced, twice a year, to run around the parking lot twice. Did we train for this? No. Our times were posted for the whole school to see. Guess who was usually one of the slowest in the entire school? Yeah. Me. Every time I've ever tried running I ran out of breath in like 3 seconds and quit right away. Why on earth would anyone want to run?

My friend Dee turned me onto a training program from the folks at called Couch to 5K (a/k/a C25K). Well, on September 24th, I started the program and my life hasn't been the same since.

I really wish I'd started posting my progress when I began the program, because then you'd see how far I'd come and I'd have a record to look back on, but it's never too late to start. Rather than recap the past 4+ weeks, I'm just going to say this: during the first week, when I had to run (jog) for 60 seconds at a time, I thought I was going to die. On Friday, I ran for 8 minutes, twice. That's more running than I've ever done at once in my whole life, and it wasn't horrible. Sure the first 8 minute run was the usually plodding but tolerable drudgery, but something amazing happened when I started the second 8 minutes: I grew about 5 inches taller and a new set of lungs and suddenly felt like I could run forever. It was the stuff of dreams.

Tomorrow, I am going to run 20 minutes non-stop. I hope to cover 2 miles in that time, but if I don't, that's OK because it will be yet another mind-blowing landmark in my life. Odd though it sounds, I am more proud of running than anything else I've ever accomplished. Probably because it was the one thing that I'd convinced myself that I couldn't do.

Did I mention that I'm signed up for a 5K race on November 23rd?

When I started the program, it seemed like a crazy idea, but worth trying. Now, I'm thinking that a full marathon isn't out of the question.

"It's never too late be who you were meant to be" - Georg Elliot.

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I am sheep - baaa

Fun Factoid:

How is it that I never noticed, until now, that my Chinese Zodiac animal is the sheep? Maybe I just wasn't making the connection every time I killed time at a Chinese restaurant, reading the place mat! Oddly, my astrological critter, (Capricorn), is a goat. Goat. Sheep. Hmmm. Do you think it's just a coincidence that I knit?

PS - Thanks for the podcast recommendations! I've also discovered The Moth. Love my little pea pod!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Yes, I pod

I got a toy for Christmas this past year. I opened it. I looked at it. I put it back in the box.

Tonight, I finally plugged it in and promptly downloaded podcasts of all of my favorite shows from NPR and PRI

Any good knitting podcasts to recommend?

One would think that I'd download music...

but I'm starting small

(ie: I don't have a secure wireless network so I don't want to give credit card info online using laptop and am too lazy to walk across the room, pick out a CD from my meager collection and load it).

Damn this thing is cute!

I'm now listening to an interview with Nick Cave on "Fresh Air" (can't help thinking of Bongwater's "Nick Cave Dolls")


The last time I listed to a portable sound device, it looked like this:

I love technology!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bag Lady

This coming Monday, I'll be doing a brief presentation at my quilt group as "Quilter of the Month". I decided to focus on bags, since I seem to have a thing for them. I have an absurd collection of bags! Did that stop me from buying 2 new bags (seen here and here - you can guess which colors, I paid MUCH less the prices listed online) at the Angela Adams sale? Hell no! Anyway, here are just a few of my own bags that I haven't shown you yet, made between last fall and last month:

Bow Tucks Tote (a/k/a "The Botox Bag") designed by Penny Sturges, available at, using fabric from the Moda Fresh Air Collection (stuffed with that Cowl neck thing), with one of my Nana's buttons:

Gypsy Tote using pre-quilted fabric, also from the Fresh Air collection (I love this fabric, can you tell?)", featuring a vintage button given to me many years ago by a former co-worker:

Charm Party Tote, also designed by Penny Sturges, using 5 inch charm squares from Sandy Gervais' "Fall Back in Time" collection for Moda Fabrics with a button from JoAnn fabrics:

Another Charm Party Tote using April Cornell charm squares from the "Vintage Holiday" collection, featuring yet another button from my Nana's collection:

Note: I'm not happy with this one. The pocket is off-center. Didn't notice it until I was done. Poo!

And a Mini Charmer Tote, designed by Penny Sturges, using charm squares mostly from 3 Sisters' "Shangri La" (with a little bit of "Roman Holiday") and stacked buttons from stash:

Lastly, a Carpetbag, designed by Indygo Junction, using Amy Butler and ??? made at our quilting groups' annual Getaway Weekend in March:

Lately, I've been busy accumulating MORE fabric (Fat Quarter Shop is EVIL) and working on a SECRET project that will be revealed in a few weeks.

Someday, I'll have something new to show, maybe even some knitting!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Culling the herd

In a recent post, I mentioned that I felt a little makeover coming on...

This is how my cube system looked last year:

This is how it looked recently (before makeover). As you can see from both photos, I wasn't using all of the space in the cubes, mostly because there were so many loose balls of yarn just piled up. In addition to the wasted space, I somehow accumulated more fabric over the past year and had no place to put it other than in the basket on the floor. It wasn't long before the basket was plum full.

Problem solved!

No, I didn't get rid of the yarn. I just cleverly disguised it in bins ($2.99 at Christmas Tree Shop - Helloooo bargain!).

As indicated by the title of this post, I did "cull the herd" and forced myself to admit that I had yarn that I'm just never going to use. I still don't know what I'm going to do with it, but at least now I can see my fabric! Most of those orphaned skeins of wool are in plastic bins stored in my cubby closet. I figure it's no different than putting clothes away for the winter.

Just look at all of those yummy colors!

Bag patterns are in their own bin next to home dec fabrics (guarded by Posey),

and Charm packs and ribbon are within easy reach.

Speaking of easy reach, I always find it hard to remember where I put things, especially when I can't reach them. This time, I made labels for everything.

Now, when I want to know if I have grommets or eyelets or D-rings, I know where to look!

Several months ago, I ordered belt buckles from jcaroline creative and couldn't find them anywhere. I just found them a week ago in a plastic bin with clothing fabric. It must have seemed logical at the time.

Now they are in a clearly marked bin. I wanted labels that I could change, so I made these by cutting double-sided fusible Pellon stuff (like Timtex) 2.5 by 3.5 inches and fused fabric to both the front and the back, then I satin stitched around and added an eyelet for the ribbon. The white label is just a regular Avery sticker label that I can change.

Incidentally, my friend Linda gave me this tobacco box a while back and it smells wonderful. I hope my buckles smell good too, not that people should be close enough for a sniff!

My mom gave me several plastic cases of my Nana's old buttons. This is just a sampling. You are jealous. I know you are. Just admit it. I.have.fabulous.buttons!

The basket that used to hold my fabric now holds knitting WIPs. Not too much there. I finally frogged Frances (too small) and the Sunburst pullover. Ariann is in the Market Squares felted tote and there are some single socks and the Larger Than Life Bag, but that's it.

OK. I lied. Somewhere, I have a baggie stuffed with felted flowers and Aune, and Flutter Sleeve Cardigan and Rusted Root are downstairs in the living room next to the couch. I've been picking at them here and there, but have been too tired and not especially interested these days.

When I finished the room last year, my friend Betsy said, "I want to see it in a year, because I bet it will be messy again". Eat your words Bets! Just to prove that I'm not cropping out heaps and piles, here's the rest of the room (one more shot of the cubes, just because I love them!):

Sewing/cutting table with fabric bins stored underneath:

Bookcase (it's not "perfect"- there are some loose patterns, magazines and books that need to be put away).

My other sewing machine and thread. The quilt is covering a basket of wool. It usually covers the sewing machine, but I used the machine last night to make the hanging basket labels.

Pens, paper and other little do-dads:

So, that's the tour. Who knows what it will look like next year. Despite all of this organization, I still feel like I need more space! I'd love to have the room that Mr. S uses as his office (talk about a room that needs organizing!).

I'll leave with a photo of my new gadget:

A plexiglass extension for my sewing machine! I've wanted one for a long time and finally found one this past weekend at The Fabric Garden in Madison.

Now I just need time to sew!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Remember these fabric coiled baskets I made last year?

I have good news: the designer is selling the pattern for making these bowls on Etsy at Auntiestwo! Even better: it's a down-loadable pdf - how hard is that? Even if you don't sew clothes or quilts, if you have a sewing machine, you can make one of these. Really!

Quite a while ago, one of you e-mailed me for more information about the technique. I scoured my e-mail but couldn't find it, which makes me sad because you also sent me a photo of your bowls, so I hope you are reading!

If sewing isn't your thing and you just want some eye candy, check out orange you lucky, a site that I've been visiting daily, just for the sheer joy of it. I seriously hope she comes out with a fabric line. And no, it isn't all about orange things (Jill); for that you must check out How About Orange.

I've been working a lot lately, so not much knitting going on. The Flutter Sleeve cardigan is almost done (working on the second front band [[yawn]]), so naturally I've cast on Rusted Root. I feel like the last knitter on the planet to make it! I blame Ravelry. If only it didn't look so darn good on everyone who made it! One of these days, when I'm able to pry my camera away from Mr. Strange, I'll post photos.

Until then, I'll share my new favorite fabric with you. I'd share the link, but you'd have to promise not to buy it all up because I haven't ordered mine yet :):

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sweet Nothing

We interrupt the silence of this blog to bring you this brilliant observation:

This little tyke appeared in an e-mail from Lion Brand.

Is it just me or is this kid going poopie?

Sorry. That's about all the communication I can muster. Will be back soon. I feel a craft room makeover coming on...