Monday, December 30, 2013


Whoops, forgot about the blog during the holiday festivities.  Not really, but boy did it get busy this month!  December started with a lot of projects going on at school and at home, then multiple family illnesses, Christmas company arriving - the works!  Not much quiet time :-(.

For what is the only post of the month, and most assuredly the last of the year, I was thinking of laying out what got done for Christmas and what didn't.

Finished List

  • 2 cowls.  The first, a cowl for my brother-in-law's girlfriend.  It's the free Birthday Cowl pattern on Ravelry.  I knit this in Manos silk blend in a turquoise-y colorway.  I knit a 2nd Birthday cowl for my teaching partner in a magenta bamboo/silk blend (she doesn't wear wool).

  • 2 Button-Tab hats, also a free Rav download.  The first one I did in a single skein of Noro Yuzen, a blue/purple/turquoise colorway, and the other hat was a mystery yarn in shades of purple.  The first hat was a stocking stuffer for my sister, and the second hat hasn't gone anywhere yet.  It's on the small side and fits me, but I'm not sure who else it might squeeze on to.  Possibly maybe likely surely it will end up being mine.


  • 21 yards of Christmas-themed pennants!  I used wide bias tape to sew the triangles into, and made 7 3-yard-long sections of pennants.  I gave the one that actually got finished before Christmas away as a stocking stuffer, then I finished the other 6 right after Christmas.  Not sure they should be counted as finished objects for this Christmas, or way early finished items for next year!
  • 3 Superhero capes!  This was my own speedily improvised pattern drawn on a sheet of the Sunday paper on the day before Christmas Eve.  I made one for each of my nephews - ages 7 and 5, and one for my own big girl who's 3.  They seemed to enjoy them even though I didn't get one single picture of either the making or wearing of these.  Doh!  I will have to at least get a picture of C's in action later on.

Unfinished List
  • Hat for my brother-in-law.  After starting the hat twice, losing a bunch of stitches the first time and realizing it was too small the 2nd time, I ended up giving him a wrapped box with several different skeins in it.  That way he got to choose the yarn himself.  I'm about 1/3 of the way through the hat now.

  • I was planning on making 2 of these wrapping paper organizers (found on Pinterest) out of a stool -  one for me, one for my sis.  I bought the stools, I bought fabric, I bought wheels for the bottoms of the stools.  In the end, I still have bags of all the parts, but no organizers.
  • Big, sad unfinished project number 1 is the advent calendar.  I cut, hand-sewed, hand-beaded, and hand-embroidered all the of advent pieces.  Where I fell down was on the background.  What can I say... I PROMISE this will get done before next Christmas!
  • And lastly, for 2 years running I have intended to get a Christmas tree-top angel sewn...and for the 2nd year in a row we have had a bare top to our tree.  It didn't happen in time for Christmas, but I am going to get it done this week before I clean up the sewing room of it's Christmas-themed explosion from the pennants.
Merry belated Christmas, Happy Holidays, and have a GREAT New Year!  Love and peace to ALL!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Advent Calendar - Delayed Gratification

I am still working on this Christmas' Advent Calendar.  I've still got a few days of November left to get this done, but miles more blanket stitching to do for all of the edges.  Better get back to it.

Instant vs. Delayed Gratification, Discuss

Well the fam started out Sunday morning by jumping out of bed and heading to the Haselwood YMCA for a workout.  This place is so, so much more than a gym.  The kids get to play in the great "playplace", where they even rebraided C's hair this morning because I didn't brush it before we left home (bad mommy!)(although I did brush my own).  They've got a ton of classes, yoga, a pool with lap swimming sections as well as that whole lazy river thing and a few slides.  There are ballet, swimming, dance classes for kids too!  So worth the membership, even if I do only go once or twice a week.

Lately we've been going on a weekend morning as a family.  Today, Big G and I hit the gym.  I guess he did some running and weights.  I, however, tried something new -  a TRX class.  Holy s***.  This was my first time and I knew I was in for it within the first 3 minutes.   The class uses tension straps hanging from the ceiling to do a series of exercises.  Your own body weight becomes your resistance and how you can make it harder or easier.  For someone with a neurological disease, like I do, with really sh***y balance, I found I was able to do all the moves, but one.  It didn't feel like it was hard on my joints, but it gave me a wicked strength workout.  The leg shaking commenced before I made it two steps down the staircase at the end of the workout.  I feel like I've definitely worked out...but I'm thinking that tomorrow I might be in my own private physical hell, where even squatting down to have a pee is an extreme effort.    This I know, is all for my long-term physical health and well-being.  Can't let my muscles go because I don't have the nerve function to build them back up again - thanks CMT1a!  That's the delayed gratification part of my day.

Now for the instant gratification!!!  I decided to participate in Craftaholics Anonymous 2013 Handmade Holiday Gift Exchange (type that twice!).  I actually signed up for both the International and the U.S. only exchange.  I've been paired with two gals - one from Toledo, Ohio, and one from Lithuania.  I've been working on some crafty items as a result.  I've sewn two portable project bags (I'll have to find pics later), and just in the last half hour I started AND finished 2 super-cozy, knit Infinity scarves.  Why do I knit????  Sewing these puppies took mere minutes, plus the cost of the yardage was less than $14 and it made 2 scarves.  When I knit a scarf, even just a cowl, it takes me days/weeks and usually ends up costing me in the range of $20-40 just for the yarn (I am an admitted yarn snob and only go for the good stuff.)  So in less than a half an hour, Scarf#1 and Scarf#2 came into being.
Squishy, cozy, double-wrapped Infinity Scarves.  Aw, fall is definitely here!  Made with some kind of uber-soft, yet unknown knit fabric purchased from my local JoAnn Fabrics.  The color is a little more teal in real life.  Truly instant gratification.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kid's Chair Reupholstered...

I've only had this chair for about 2 years...sad to say.  Happily, as of yesterday, it's done though!  I had repainted it last summer, but it was still waiting for it's foam and upholstery.  It was for Big Sis, and while she still fits in it, it's more the perfect size for Little G at this point.

 Ready for action!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Advent Calendar Update - a la Purl Bee

Super fast on this one.  No, I have not blogged every day this month -- oh well!

Just realized that I need to be on a ferry to Seattle in a half hour.  Taking the 2 kids to the Seattle Aquarium to meet a friend while Big G works on the closet/my sewing room project upstairs!!  Yay for progress.

This is where I'm at with the advent calendar embroidery/beading/sequinning.  I started out the week really strong, then didn't get much more done.  A sick Little G meant we headed to Grandma's for daycare instead of more nearby daycare. There isn't usually crafting and blogging time when we stay at Grandma's during the week.

12 (I think) pieces embroidered, 18 more to go.  My advent calendar is going all the way to New Year's  Eve.  The one we grew up with was that way and I like counting down all the way to the New Year. I still need to blanket stitch all the fronts to the back and perhaps add a week bit of stuffing to each to make them a little more dimensional.  We'll see.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Advent Calendar Prep

So I've been wanting a homemade advent calendar ever since Big Sis first arrived.  Now that she's 3, I feel like I better get on it.  My inspiration is this advent calendar from the Purl Bee blog.  It fairly similar to the one that I grew up with and feels like it would be the start of a great family tradition.  Of course they sell a fabulous kit, but the price of $98 made me stagger a little.  I already had 4 100% felt bundles purchased from Purl Soho on a trip to New York 2 years ago.  What more could I need???
Inspiration photo, Purl Bee blog.

Hmmm, well the $98 would have been a bargain!  It included the backing, beads, sequins, felt, embroidery floss, everything!  By the time I scoured both JoAnn's and Pacific Fabrics today, I am out  more than that.  Little G did get to have a great time swinging the dowel around like a club as I wandered the aisles of JoAnn's, but I don't think that made up for the $$ I spent.  This is going to be a fantastically amazing advent when I get it done.  What made it so pricey?  I separate packages for all the different sequin colors, more wool felt, duck cloth for the backing ($11.99/yd) and for the tree, multiple colors of embroidery floss, and even a few Swaravski crystals for the star on top.  I've been alternately printing and hand-drawing all my shapes, then I'll cut them out of double-layers of felt.  I am thinking I am going to blanket stitch the edges together.  The 2 layers should give the shapes a little body so they don't just flop around.

We'll see.  Here's to a VERY pricey advent calendar.  Hopefully to become a family heirloom for decades to come.  Since so much of it is wool I plan on storing it in a large Ziploc each year.  The backing and pockets are going to be duck cloth, natural for the background and pockets, and some shade of green for a tree.  I have two colors of green...we'll see which I end up using.

Templates: some via the internet and some drawn by hand.  Actually only the snowman and angel are from the internet.

Inspiration pieces from Purl Bee blog.

Felt bundles purchased from Purl Soho.

First two pieces embellished.  Not done yet.  Need to blanket stitch them to their backs.  I am sewing each sequin with a bead as opposed to gluing them on.  I've had glued on sequins fall off before and I want this advent calendar to withstand the test of time (and little kids).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

FO: Birthday Cowl

Whew, so far so good on NaBloPoMo -- 2 days down! (can I just say that I have to figure out what that stands for every time I use it!?! - not an intuitive acronym!)

My finished, knitted object (FO) is another Birthday Cowl.  I think I've knit this at least 10 times.  It's easy to memorize and takes exactly 1 skein of Manos Silk Blend -- a great and fairly quick gift-knit, although I did keep 1 for me and wear it frequently.  My local yarn shop closed this month (Linda of Linda's Knit & Stitch retired) and I stocked up on a bunch of Manos before the end.  This colorway reminds me of peacocks and is a Christmas present for my brother-in-laws girlfriend.

I tried to photograph this right after typing the above.  Two cameras we own had dead batteries.  I had to steal my phone back from the 3-year old who had earned a few minutes of PBS Kids, then dodge her and Little G as they continuously photo-bombed the pic.  Little G kept coming in for the grab and Big Sis kept shoving him aside and trying to straighten the cowl for Mommy.

Edited to add:  Ha, ha, this didn't get posted yesterday because I started it, couldn't get the pictures downloaded, and then went to bed.  I guess my NaBloPoMo pledge is already kaput!

I still can't get the Birthday Cowl pictures to cooperate.  So here's one last Halloween pic...Big Sis looks like she's got a pumpkin for a head.

Finally, a cowl picture.  The colors are not at all accurate in this picture.  Umm, our rug is definitely gray, not yellow as it looks.
Shooting in a rush...

Let out, as a barrier.

No luck!  Photobombing commences.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaBloPoMo - What the hell is it?

I just learned a new-to-me and weird acronym...National Blog Posting Month a.k.a. NaBloPoMo.  And what did I do once I learned of it?  Sign up, of course.  Because I need more to do, eh?  My hope is actually to document a little more via this blog, and a daily entry for the month of November definitely ramps things up.  My goal isn't so much about massive posts, but more about documenting life, and participating more in the online community...more than just reading.

What can I post tonight?  How about a Halloween shot of my cuties?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Birthdays...

Happy birthday to Hazel and AJ - you would have been 5 today.  I miss you!

This is a video with some loss friends in it.  
It was hard to watch today, but definitely has me thinking about how to let others know, so there can be more of a conversation.  I KNOW my family is not the only one it's happened to, but it sure feels like it when it happens to you.

Halloween Costume: Macaw Parrot for a 3-year old

This is just a super quick post so I can document my Halloween efforts this year.  I'll have to edit it with better photos after we dress up again tomorrow.  So Big Sis decided she wanted to be a parrot this year.  We already had a great monkey suit for Little G.  Parrot + monkey = jungle theme!  What about mommy and daddy??  Why Jane and Tarzan, of course!

The making of the Macaw:

 Big Sis wore a red sweatsuit underneath.  I added shoulder and arm straps to the underside of the wings.  We also painted a mask from JoAnn's, and added feather trim from the New York trip to the top.

For Mom and Daddy I sewed short tube skirts for both of us out of brown, suede-y fabric from Jo-Ann's.  I cut out the side of Big G's to make it more loincloth-ish.  He thought that was pretty amusing. I cut fringe on the bottom of each "skirt".  For tops I made Big G a kind of sash out of suede-y leopard print fabric.  For my I used the same leopard-print and made a one-shouldered number.  Tights, flats, and messy hair finished off my costume.

No flash on these pics, so we'll have to try again tomorrow on actual Halloween.
I don't know if this year tops our last year's family theme: Under the Sea.  Big Sis was Rainbow Fish, I was a jellyfish, Little G was a baby clam, and Big G was a Geoduck (yep that's a huge clam with a REALLY huge siphon.  It looked exactly like a huge p***s on his head.  He picked it, not me!)  Check out this link if you need a mental image of what I'm talking about: geoduck.  We accomplished the siphon by using a double-layer of ladies thigh-high stockings stuffed with poly-fill.

A little Mood, a little Rhinebeck

This is quite random, but I wanted to share just a couple of the pieces of fabric from Mood, plus a little something yarny from Rhinebeck that I plan on starting today.  I had planned on photographing all the fabric and putting it in one post, then adding all the Rhinebeck purchases to another post, but I don't actually have everything all in one place.  Some of the things came home in my suitcase and some went to Grammy's house in Syracuse for her to mail out to the West Coast.

These are a few of the fabrics from Mood, NY and from Paron's, both in the Garment District.  The washable stuff is going in to the wash straightaway. Some of them I have ideas for (or at least I knew what I wanted to do with them when I bought them...hopefully I can recreate those thoughts), and some of them I just liked.  I figured if I blogged as much as I remembered about the fabric and patterns I was thinking of then I'd have a record for future sewing.

Wool, double-sided fabric from Paron's.  Black/white & light blue/white.  Winter shorts with contrast something on them? striped cotton voile(?) from Paron's with a silver stripe.


Black wool suiting from Paron's.  Italian wool, normally $45/yd., but I picked it up from the 50% off table.  I was thinking winter shorts.  It was about 1 1/2  yds. of fabric. 

This is a white cotton eyelet with the cutouts outlined in black.  From Mood Fabrics.

Navy blue/gold silk & cotton from Paron's. $22.50/yd. Very drapey, made in Italy. I was thinking an Anna Dress from By Hand London.

White/red/dark gray 100% cotton from Paron's.  Maybe a skirt?  It's a heavier cotton.
Well this isn't what I thought I'd do, but I am going to save my first Rhinebeck knit for another time.  The pictures aren't cooperating for me!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New York Trip, part 1

It's taken me a week to recover from our New York trip (both Upstate and the city).  Saturday, 10/12/13, we got up at the ungodly hour of 2:45am and picked up Uncle Chris by 3:30 so he could drive us to the airport and then take our car back to his place.  The flight was mostly uneventful, except for Little G not wanting to sit still.  Mom had to employ the "straightjacket" maneuver; pinning his arms and legs to his sides in a bear hug while he screamed.  A mere 25 minutes later he fell asleep...then I had to hold him in the same position for the next 4+ hours.  Clara did not sleep a wink, until our 2nd flight right after the pilot announced we would be landing in 5 minutes! The guy in front of her couldn't believe how much she had chatted to herself the WHOLE time...

We spent the first 4 days in Syracuse with Grammy and Grampy.  Apple & pumpkin picking, walks, fall leaves, the MALL, a movie (Gravity - it was awesome!)

Some photos:
Actually this was Central Market in Poulsbo right before we left for NY.  It was just too colorful and I had to add it.

Apple Picking
Riding the cow train in Susie Q.
Feeding the goats.

Family photo op.

Mommy and Little G riding "Flossie"
After the first few days in Syracuse, Big G and I headed down to NYC for a few days on our own. The following Saturday we rented a car at JFK and drove up the Hudson Valley to Rhinebeck, NY to meet up with Grammy and Grampy and the kids, and go the the NY Sheep and Wool Festival.  More post to come with NYC details and Rhinebeck sights.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

And...back to school I go

Ha ha --  Back to school more like a full month now.  No wonder blogging has dropped from my radar like a 10-ton boulder.  School is killing me, as is the new routines of new childcare, etc.  Working 3 days/week this year, but I went and signed up for some extra stuff as well at work  (what the *&^$!& was I thinking???!)  That means extra meetings, both during the day and in the evening.  The kids seem to be adjusting fairly well, although Big Sis often falls asleep on the way home at the end of the day and then wakes with the personality of a hibernating bear!  Mommy and kids often hit the hay around the same time each night...

The result!  No big crafty/house/DIY projects.  Just working on some small knitting items.  I have been thinking about sewing, haven't actually done any though.

We leave for our big Upstate NY/NYC trip in less than 2 weeks!!!!!  5 years for hubs and me!  (+ 2 kids, 2 houses, 2 cars...)  We'll stay upstate for a few days with Grampy/Grammy then head down to the city for a few days on our own.  Garment district here I come!  Then on the weekend it's back up the Hudson to Rhinebeck for NY Sheep and Wool Festival.  Dream trip come true!  Do I wish I had a Rhinebeck sweater to show off like all the other ladies?  Well yes, but I'm going to be okay with just going for the first time ever.

Because every post needs a picture.  Big Sis got to show her first sheep this year at the county fair at the end of August!  It was adorable and hilarious.  Thank goodness for a well-behaved sheep that we borrowed.  "Betsy" or whoever she was, was more like a pony to Big Sis' 3-year old size.
 And this is the first day of 3's Preschool!  This kiddo L-O-V-E-S school.  All summer she was asking when she got to go back to school.  Nobody took Mommy's picture on the first day, but I'm pretty sure I was a lot less excited to go back to work/school even though I do love the kids.  Did I mention that as of this morning I have 28 second graders??  Say what!?  That's a lot of 7-8 year olds.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mt. Baker or Bust

Hubby had it on his bucket list that he wanted to ride his bike to the top of Mt. Baker.  Last Sunday he got 'er done!  Mommy and little G were the sag wagon for daddy's trip.  Big sis had a stomach bug and stayed at Grandma's while we trooped up to Bellingham, hit up a friend's garden party, got up bright and early, and drove to the town of Glacier as the jumping off point.  Big G jumped on his bike and got an hour's head start while Little G and I sat in a diner sharing biscuits and gravy at Graham's - yum!

This was my first time driving Hwy 542 East, first time to Glacier, and the first time up Mt. Baker.  After all our fab summer weather, we ended up at the top in view-obscuring fog.  Bummer.  Little G and I did take in some of the brilliantly-colored wildflowers and ghostly looking pines.

What did I do while we waited at the top???  I finished my 2nd Powder River Cowl (pics and post later) and I started knitting the 7 feet of I-cord that starts the Telltale Heart Shawl, a shop pattern from NW Handspun Yarns in Bellingham that I picked up on Saturday before the garden party.  I am knitting it in some Mad Tosh Light, a pinky-brown colorway.  Btw, that was my 2nd visit to that shop and they were fantastically nice and helpful.  It's a small shop, but it's packed with a great selection of yards.  Absolutely visit if you're in town!

Oh, I also bought my first pair of SQUARE wooden needles...verdict?  I like them!  I like how easy they are to hold onto.  I don't plan on changing out all my needles, but when I see them and I need a new set I'll probably choose them over round needles from now on.  Anybody else like square needles?