Wednesday, March 28, 2007

tick tick tick

In 11 hours and 10 minutes, I will be on my way, and I'm waiting for the last load of laundry in the dryer so I can finish packing, but I couldn't leave without sharing this vision of loveliness:

Dozens of flowers, violently ripped from their stems and tossed in a pile. If you ever want to work out aggression, popping the heads off flowers does the trick. All the while, I kept singing under my breath "Momma had a baby and her head popped OFF!". Where did that little rhyme come from? As a kid, we used to sing it when decapitating dandelions. How odd. Maybe it's a Maine thing. Never let anyone tell you that kids aren't violent little beasts. Lord of the Flies? Yeah. OK, all that aside, aren't they pretty? I put together 6 kits for my class and of course bought way too many flowers (they were on sale!).

I accomplished most of what I set out to do. I feel like my outfits will be theme appropriate, but not as over the top as I'd like them to be. Oh well. I keep telling myself that I will have fun no matter what.

Seeing as this is a quilting weekend, I packed 2 UFO's that I plan to finish: a wall hanging and table runner that only need to be sandwiched and quilted. I'm amazed at how much stuff I have to bring with me to sew: machine, power cords, power strip, foot pedal, scissors, thread, cutting mat, cutting ruler, rotary cutter (by the way, even when the blade of an Olfa rotary cutter is retracted, you can still slice yourself pretty badly), fabric, and batting. Jeez! I'm spoiled by the portability of knitting. Of course a I also packed a sock to work on but it only took up one sandwich baggie. Ha! I can't go 4 days without knitting.

Speaking of knitting, one of our destinations tomorrow is Keepsake Quilting in Center Harbor, which just so happens to be in the same plaza as Patternworks. I have no business whatsoever buying yarn or fabric, but I am allowing myself to buy 2 skeins of Koigu KPPPM at Patternworks (they have a huge selection) and enough fabric to make one tote bag at Keepsake (because, as you know, I really need another bag). We'll see how well I stick to my self-imposed "diet". I have no illusion about sticking to a food diet this weekend. Tomorrow evening we'll be going for our annual dinner at Bellini's in North Conway. If you ever go to North Conway, you MUST go to this restaurant, but be warned: they don't take reservations.

Ta ta for now pals! I'll tell you all about it when I get home, with lots of pics, and then I promise I'll start talking about knitting again!

Peace man.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hippy Hooking

I've turned to the dark side my friends. I've been hooking...

Under pressure to create an authentic feel to my Getaway ensemble, I found the perfect pattern for a Groovy Hippy Dippy Granny Square Vest online and have been working my little fingers to the bone with nasty acrylic day-glo yarn, trying to complete it this weekend.

I'm this close, but oh, the pain.

I seem to be developing a callous on my middle hooking finger, and my thumb. Oh how it aches.

If this picture would talk, it would say "voom voom voom", which is the sound of blood pulsing through my cramping muscles. Is it worth it? Abso-freaking-lutely!

Just to give you an idea of the kind of pressure I am under, here are some photos from past Getaways:

2006, The Wild Wild West. I went as a bar maid of sorts, posing here with Sheriff Jacquie (yes, a woman) ...
And the same year, with my friend Mary, a real "rhinestone cowgirl".

In 2005, I was Queen of the Red Hatters. Yes, I know, the "rules" say that you have to be 50 to wear a red hat, but I was chair of the committee that year, and I decided that the idea of having rules was against the rules, and did my own thing anyway. I am so envious of Mary's eyelashes. Stupid glasses.

Lest you think that I am the only one who goes to these extremes, here are some other ladies of evenings past.
I sweat that I did not even recognize the woman on the right (with red hair).

Do you see now? The pressure I am under?


Only 3 more days to prepare! I still have to make my bag pattern and kits and gifties for my pals and make bell bottoms out of old jeans and pack and and and Oh!

In knitting news, I finished the second sleeve of the cardigan, and no, I didn't frog it. When all this Getaway madness is over, I'll finish it. Until then, you'll have to put up with my pre-party madness!

3 more days! Oh!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Signs of Spring

I like to work on my laptop with the lights off because it's easier to see the screen without ambient light. This evening, I was reading my e-mail when a little visitor crawled across the corner of my screen! Yeeeeeiiiiiii!

Mr. S rescued both of us by carefully transporting the trespasser outside in a mug. Scratch that, I just asked him where he put it and he said "On the porch". Lucky spider. I'm not afraid of them (anymore), but I prefer to maintain some personal space. That is, far enough away that it can't jump on me.

Anyway, what was I going to say??

Knitting. I've been knitting. Knitting when I should be working on my pattern and kits for the Getaway. I am nothing, if not a predictable procrastinator.

I finished the back and fronts of my cardigan. Look how nicely they match.

I was halfway done one sleeve when I knew with absolutely certainty that I was going to run out of yarn. Fortunately, Korner Knitters had more skeins in the same dye lot. Unfortunately, they aren't matching. I haven't decided yet if this bothers me enough to frog and start over with a different skein (Darrin - stop rolling your eyes at me!).

If I had made no effort to match things up, then it wouldn't matter, but as it is, it looks like a mistake. As a matter of fact, the more I look at this photo, the more I want to frog it. Yup. Gonna rip. Maybe I'll actually get a chance to wear it before it's too warm.

I have made some progress on the Getaway wardrobe. Look what I found at Material Objects, a local funky thrift and consignment shop:
Groovy eh? I love the big plastic orange earrings! The skirt is so Shirley Partridge. "Come on Get Happeeeeee "

It's vintage (hand made) and only cost $10. After the Getaway, I can use the fabric to make a bag. Yeah. Like I need another bag.

I also had this dress in my closet, made several years ago from vintage curtains during my funkier days (not too many years ago, I had cropped platinum locks). I need to take it in a little, and may hem it (it's floor length). If only I could find some white vinyl boots to go with it!

As usual, I'm planning more outfits than I have days to wear them!

I found this while cleaning out the sewing room. My fiddlehead bag! Doesn't it just scream "SMILE!"? Too bad Wal-box corrupted the smiley face logo.

If you are not from Maine, you may be scratching your head right now. Fiddleheads are edible baby ferns that grow out of stumps in woodsy wet areas. They taste sort of like asparagus. Our family usually served them steamed on toast with melted butter and salt or as a cold salad with sliced white onion and vinaigrette dressing. Riverbanks are fertile ground for this Yankee delicacy, and one's favorite patch is a closely guarded secret. Each spring, as the days grew warmer and the Kennebec river receded from it's flooded state, I would start asking my mom "Is it time yet? Can we pick fiddleheads?". Depending on the weather, they usually start appearing in late April or early May. This was the bag that I always took with me. My mom had a similar, larger bag (with blue and green flowers), and each year I would boast that I would pick as much as her (it didn't occur to me that she had the bigger bag). Unfortunately, I barely managed to fill my bag halfway before I lost interest in fiddleheads, lured by the attraction of bugs, snakes and Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

I guess some things never change.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Chill out

I left my house this morning with a hefty bag full of wool and 3 plastic bins full of fabric in my trunk and came home with nothing. Well, almost nothing. A friend gave me a book, Hip Handbags, which I will be giving away as a door prize in my Getaway Class. More on that in a bit.

So, my quilting buddies came through and took all that fabric off my hands. You should have seen these women crowded around the table: it was like sale day at Filene's Basement. I couldn't watch, but was very happy to go home without it. I have more than enough to get by. They were worried that I was going to quit sewing. Bwah ha ha! I'm not the only one cleaning out: my friend Renee brought in a collection of antique cigar tins. I was so tempted....

I keep talking about this Getaway that I am going to next week, and I think I need to explain what it's all about. Our local quilting chapter hosts this getaway every year for about 75 attendees as a fund raising event. For the past several years, it has been held at the Red Jacket Mountain View Inn in North Conway, New Hampshire, which is about an hour West of Portland, Maine. Technically, the event runs from Friday to Sunday, but the hotel gives us a great early registration rate for Thursday arrivals. Each year, the Getaway Committee chooses a theme, and the entire weekend is based on this theme, with classes and a costume dinner on Saturday evening. The hotel gives us one of their large conference rooms, Hampshire Hall (with a gorgeous view of the White Mountains), for the entire weekend. By Friday evening, the room is full of women, sewing machines, and the smell of hot irons and chlorine (the room is level with the pool entrance). It is not uncommon to see us in there at 1 in the morning, laughing, sewing and swearing (because it's late and we are getting punchy from all the candy we've been eating). I always think of it as a weekend prom for mature women. Pure fun.

As I may have mentioned, this year's theme is "Flower Power". In the past, I have taken the theme to extreme levels, with multiple outfits and accessories, and have gained quite a reputation. Now I am under pressure. Everyone keeps asking me "What are you going to wear?" For the first time ever, I have no outfits planned, no gifts for my friends, nothing. I am totally unprepared. I know that I will have fun no matter what I am wearing, but suddenly I am excited and under the gun.


Mod or Hippie?

Tonight I had this idea that I'd like to crochet a granny square vest like the one I had as a little girl. It was a giant granny square on the front and back with straps. Do you think I can find a pattern for this anywhere on the web? No!!

For inspiration, I turned to my Nana's collection of groovy patterns.

Do you think I have time to make this?

OK, even if I had the time, I don't have the body.

How about this? I could make a matching one for Mr. Strange.

I need help! Inspiration! Bell-bottoms with fabric inserts? Jeans converted into a skirt? I could go feminist: bra-less with hairy armpits! Hmmm. Nancy Sinatra? Goldie Hawn from Laugh In? Mary Quant? Too many options. I wish I didn't have to wear glasses; I'd love to wear giant fake eyelashes. Even better: "lashes" made from flower petals. I could go as a giant flower, with petals radiating from my head. I bet someone else will do that. Last year at the "Wild Wild West" dinner, one woman came as a cactus with clothespin spines. It was a hoot. Obviously, I need to come up with something better than a tie-dyed t-shirt. The pressure!

While leafing through my grandmother's patterns, I happened across this little advertisement, sandwiched between poncho patterns.

Looks mighty familiar.

That's the same hippo on the right as pictured in the ad.

This makes me feel very happy inside. These animals did delight my heart. My Nana loved me.

I wonder what ever happened to the sheep and the seal? Maybe they ran off together.

P.S. I ate way too many Girl Scout cookies today. Evil little things.

Sunday, March 18, 2007



(Same cut, new color. An at home job, I saved $70!)

Ann Norling sweater vest started in 1998.



I love, love, love my new room! LOVE IT! I managed to reduce my fabric by about 1/3, which is fine because I was able to fit most of it back under the table. There are a few bins in the cubby, but I know exactly what they are because I made a list:

The cubby contains:

  1. View-masters
  2. 80's cassette tapes
  3. old 35mm camera and lenses
  4. Jr. High/High School/College Photo albums
  5. High school yearbooks
  6. all extra sewing machines & overlock w/ travel bag
  7. X-mas wrapping supplies
  8. All other gift wrapping supplies
  9. Xtra cubes leftover from yarn storage unit
  10. polyfill & poly batting
  11. small plastic bin of Woolfelt
  12. small plastic bin of landscape fabrics
  13. fabric painting supplies
  14. UFO's
  15. Finished needlework that needs framing
  16. Folding chair
  17. Bin of Totes
  18. Extension cords (2)
  19. Super stiff interfacing
Since the bin in front of the cubby is on wheels, I can move it aside for easy access.

This little piece of fabric represents the slippery slope. In the past, I would have kept it. Why? Because it could become a stem, or a border, or tree trunk. Instead, it would have been one of hundreds, tossed in a bin and forgotten. Now, it has been tossed in the trash and forgotten. The waste. It just kills me.
Maybe I need to start a new policy: I can only save scraps for a certain period of time. If I haven't used them in that time, I have to throw them out or give them to someone else. It would mean that I'd have to be very disciplined. I could view it as an ongoing challenge. Hmmm. I'm going to have to think about this very carefully.

Next on the list: the bathroom!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Memory Lane

While Mr. S was hard at work moving snow around today, I was hard at work moving stuff out of The Cubby!

I had decided not to tackle this new can of worms until after the Getaway, but woke up this morning determined to just get it over with so I could figure out what I could store in the space. As I suspected, it was full of things that I had already decided that I didn't want, but had thrown in there to avoid dealing with (a bad habit that I am determined to break). You would not believe the boxes of paperwork I found stuffed in there! But, in between 10 years worth of credit card statements, cancelled checks, old receipts, and cast-offs, I found a few oldies but goodies.

Hello old friends!

Remember this?

I was lucky enough to also have an original View-master and spent many a snow day at my Nana's looking at pictures of exotic lands.

Now how could I get rid of these? I love the illustrations. Some of them are the storybook kind: "Beeeeep. Turn the page"

I found some one hit wonders... (he was so cute!)

and a One Skein Wonder. This little ditty truly was a one hit wonder for me. I made it one day while home sick with a cold. I wore it once, around the house, and felt like I was wearing a giant underarm diaper.

Tempting never really tempted me. I'm sure it would have tempted some, had I worn it, because of the "Hey Look at My Big Boobs" effect.

The big cleanup is nearly complete. My one day project turned into a one week project, but I'm really pleased with the results. Stay tuned for the before and after photos coming soon....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Why do we feel the need to buy things? Is it a compulsion to fill some emptiness within or it a symptom of our culture? I think it's a combination of both. OK, I'm going to step up on my soapbox for a minute here, so be warned.

I think that the American economy depends on our willingness burning desire to buy things. We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us that a bigger car, better cell phone, bigger TV, new purse, plumper lips, or what have you will make us happy, even safe, citizens. Can you imagine what would happen if we all refused to buy things other than necessities? We wouldn't have to worry about China, we wouldn't have to work so many hours to make as much money to buy stuff (or to pay for stuff we already bought), and our landfills would stop growing at such a rapid rate. Oh my god, we might find happiness in doing things instead of buying them! But wait! Capitalism would come to a screeching halt and corporate America would slowly wither and die!

I went out today to buy some organizing things, and was disgusted by the stores full of stuff that no one really needs. Cheap stuff. Crap. You know what I'm talking about. Stuff that we buy because it's inexpensive or cute. Stuff that we will throw away. Seeing all this cheap stuff really depressed me. Take your local dollar or "discount" store (here in Maine, we have Mardens). They go by many names, but they all have the same things in them. I'm sure that they serve a purpose for people on a very limited budget for much needed household items, but for the most part, they are full of the most poorly made junk. Junk made of plastic. Once upon a time, we only had a few nice things and we kept them for many years and then passed them on to our children. Now we buy tons of meaningless things and then throw them away when they break or become worn and then buy more. Is it just me or is that sad? It occurred to me that in the past, if someone needed a bookshelf, they built one themselves and here I was looking for a new one because the cheap one I bought 3 years ago fell apart. Yuk.

When I see people trolling up and down the aisles in stores, filling their carts with stuff, I feel like saying "Do you really need that?" I have a bad habit of doing that to my mother all the time. I think she buys things because she is lonely and a little empty. I don't want to be that person.

Oh dear, there's nothing worse than the newly converted.

I took today off work to finish my room. Wanna see?

Here's my closet, neatly organized with all of my rubber stamping, scrap booking, photographs, basket making, hand stitching, buttons, ribbons and misc. STUFF.

Better yet, that 3 drawer unit (containing all of my beading supplies) in front has WHEELS!

I can just move it aside to get at the closet. I love wheels.

All of my cutting and ironing supplies are next to the cutting table where they belong, and my rulers and scissors are neatly organized at one end.

I love my room again!!

The only things I haven't put back are the books and fabric. I found a small bookshelf today that I think will fit behind the door and will hold at least all of my knitting books, but ran out of time to go back and get it. Mr. S is going to be so surprised when he gets home tomorrow! He said that he will fix the bookcase right away so I can finish (my sweetie pie loves me).

Speaking of my Mr., I went into the basement today to find some nails to hang my thread racks and let me tell you, his collection of stuff is waaaay worse than mine!!! Nuts, bolts, screws, widgets and sprockets all over the place. Total chaos. [shudder]

Now that I don't need to buy anything for YEARS, I can spend my time making nice things that will last for years and years. Maybe things that will be meaningful to someone.

Before I can do that, however, I need to clean out "the cubby" (enter the sound of impending doom). Lurking behind this tiny little door is a whole new adventure in purging.

No Alice, this doesn't lead to Wonderland. This is the place where I have stored things that I don't want to look at or think about, but don't want to throw away. Things like my childhood collection of 45's (9 to 5, Convoy, Funkytown, Another One Bites The Dust) and cassette tapes (including every Bowie album made before 1986). And that's the good stuff. I'm hoping that once I clean this space out, I can use it to store my extra sewing machines and bins of quilting UFO's.

I'm getting tired just thinking about it. Tomorrow is another day. Tonight, I need to rest.

Here's a little lullaby for you crocheters out there: "Take Some Time" by Rose Melberg.
(Thanks Charlie!)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Friends to the rescue

After yesterday's cleaning frenzy, I needed a little knitting therapy, so I finished the back of my Classic Collar Straight Sleeve Cardigan from Patons Next Step 3.

The yarn is Berroco Keltic in color Thistle #5853 (from my stash). The gauge for this pattern calls for 15 sts/4 inches on size 10 needles, and the yarn label calls for 16 using the same needles.

I'm taking a bit of a risk here and am using size 9 needles with a gauge of 4 sts to the inch. I figure I can just block it to size, and don't mind if it is a little smaller because I am making the size small with 37.5 finished bust size. If I complain later about the fit, feel free to say "I told you so".

This morning, I made some progress on the fronts, which I am working together: not my usual MO, but I wanted to see if the pattern matches up and am quite pleased with the results so far. Now I'm crossing my fingers that I don't run out of yarn. I have a vague recollection of putting 2 skeins on hold at the yarn shop...

Oh, but I bet you are wondering if I made any progress on that other "little" project I started yesterday...

BEHOLD! Progress has been made!!

Thanks to the awesome help of my angels of organization, Aimee and Lori, things are looking pretty good!

Yarn stash neatly stored...

double pointed needles within easy reach...

single pointed needles nestled in their holder...

and easily accessible double points.

The problem bookcase has been cleared. It's not sturdy enough to support much, so for now I am just using it to store empty baskets, waiting to be filled.

Unfortunately, I still have to do something about all my books, which are temporarily in the living room.

Along with this tower of bins containing all of my fabric.

I am determined to reduce the fabric stash by at least half. I'll have to if I want to fit it all back into the room! I rarely quilt anymore, and my tastes have changed so much. It sickens me a little to think of how much money is invested in all of that stuff, but I really have learned a valuable lesson: Don't buy more than you can use. OK, more than you can use in a year. I'm not totally reformed yet ;)

What you don't see is the growing pile of stuff that I will be carting off to Goodwill or donating to my quilting group for our spring auction. I'm even parting with some yarn (!!!!). If I haven't wanted it in over 3 years, I won't miss it!

I am, however, keeping the googly eyes AND the green pipe cleaners, because they don't take up much space.

In addition to keeping me in line and making me get rid of my collection of ugly tote bags, Aimee volunteered to take my UFO's that need frogging and finally relieved me of my bag of leftover sock yarn. What a load off! That stupid sock yarn has been bugging me for years!

Lori, I take back all of the curses that I directed at you yesterday.