Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Serenity #240

My niece's wedding was today. This was the only decent shot I got with my camera of the bride. I was aiming blind as I cannot see the LED screen in the sunlight. Then after three pics my batteries died.

Let's take the rest of the pics I took this morning backward in time.

The wedding present wrapped--the crocheted mat is pinned onto foam board with another piece hinged onto it and a satin ribbon wrapped around.

The bridal purse wrapped.

The mat all fringed and blocked and ready to mount on the foam board. I had the fringe in by dawn Saturday but did not wet it down and block it until after I woke up Saturday afternoon. It was still a tad damp when I moved from the blanket I'd blocked it on to the foam board. But not much and it held its shape well enough.

The bridal purse ready to wrap, laying in the bed fo pale blue tissue. I spent hours Saturday night trying to get those antique buttons attached safely to the ribbon draw string. I learned in the process that the ribbon is cheep and frays easily. I should have crocheted the draw string. I tried to make a third blue band with the ribon as a guide for both ribbons so that the drawstring could hang from wrist. But it fell apart twice so I gave up. Then thought of the crocheted circlet and that worked.

I got my hair cut yesterday evening and late night my sister dyed it chestnut. Then back to work on gifts. I've been awake since 1pm yesterday. It's time to give in to sleep.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

My First Fiber Art

Embroidery was my first fiber art passion. These appliance covers were my first embroidery project.
It was the late sixties when I began the mixer and toaster cover which I believe were for my parent's anniversary. I was eleven when I started them and am sure they took me at least a year. They use only the outline stitch.

I went on from them to a marriage record sampler and then a birth record sampler. Both were at first intended for my own hope chest but I ended up giving them as gifts. The two samplers introduced me to many more stitches: satin, daisy, chain, back stitch, french knot, cross stitch.

Though I crocheted two afghans and began a pair of knitted slippers for a home ec class my Senior year of high school in the mid seventies, embroidery remained my passion until my early thirties in the late eighties when I discovered needlepoint which I stuck with until 2001 when I shifted to counted cross stitch.

Since 2009 I've been nursing an obsession on crochet but I feel my fingers itching for the needle again. Not sure whether for embroidery, cross stitch or needle point. But I do have several needlework projects to finish so I won't be starting any new large projects until those are finished. I may scratch the itch by trying out a few of the needlework bookmark concepts I've had in mind for some time. I think I can justify a few small projects like that while I work at finishing up the two needlepoint book covers and the two large counted cross stitch projects.

I received a lot of praise at the time for keeping a clean backside when working these. Many adults seemed amazed that they were my first and that at my age I was taking such care. Maybe due to this recognition but more likely just due to my perfectionist tendencies, I still take care to keep a clean backside. In these I was using knots to end thread but when working the sampler kits I learned that was not the correct practice and I learned how to secure and hide both the beginning and end of threads without knots.

I found the toaster cover in the kitchen towel drawer and my sister located the mixer cover in the laundry room in the 'to be ironed' pile where it's probably been for half a decade as I don't think Mom did much if any ironing after my dad's diagnosis in 2004. I'm a bit embarrassed that I took these pics without ironing them first. But I'm running out of time to finish the bridal and wedding gifts for my niece and the wedding is tomorrow. 18 hours actually.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: Story Fed Child

I've been scrounging Mom's house for things with childhood memories attached. Today it seems appropriate to share pics of a few of the books that shaped my early years.

Above are two of the first level readers my Mom read to us with her trademark pointing at each word as she said it. It was how I learned to read before kindergarten. Though it wasn't until late in second grade that they all learned that I had never learned to sound out words. I had just learned to recognize them as pictures with names. Like ideograms or hieroglyphics. I recognized them from any angle.

Based on the styles in clothing and furniture in I Have a Secret it must have been late forties to early fifties but Mew-Mew, Bow-Wow was from 30s which was when my Mom w as learning to read.

I should have opened them up and snapped a couple shots of the pages.

These are from the sixties and were bought for my baby sister and I remember reading them to her from when I was 8 until my early teens. She started kindergarten when I was in sixth grade.

These three shots are of my Dad's Audubon's Birds of America. This was published in 1950 and first belonged to my Mom's aunt who must have given it to Dad. I am assuming this as Aunt Marie's name is stamped inside with one of Dad's address labels stuck just below.

The dust jacket is falling apart and I laid the remaining pieces together for this picture but they are kept inside.

I loved looking at the pictures of the birds from an early age and imagining stories for the birds in them. As I learned to read well enough to sound out the names and info I tried to memorize it.

I always loved the cover under the jacket and could stare at it endlessly.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Little Pitchers

Back in the day when I was of an age to be included in that group referred to by grownups as 'little pitchers' --you know, those odd creatures with big ears? -- this little ceramic pitcher with a rooster and flowers painted on it was a frequent fixture of the lunch table.

I was going about Mom's house this evening looking for items of nostalgia that conjured up memories of childhood and this was one of the first to catch my eye.

I remember Mom serving milk or juice in it at lunch time. I also remember her using it to mix Jello, putting the powder in and then pouring boiling water from the tea kettle in and stirring with a metal wand with a spiral of metal on its end that jiggled when you shook it in the air.

I remember, being allowed to pour the hot liquid Jello into small dishes for serving and setting them in the fridge. I also remember drinking the hot liquid Jello itself--usually when I was sick.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crocheting on My Shawl Tonight

Photo credit: Jamie took this pic of me crocheting on my shawl at her place this evening.

The last couple of days have been an emotional rollercoaster ride with my sister Jamie's biopsy surgery Tuesday morning followed by the relief it went so well followed then by ten hours of visiting with Jamie at her home where I stayed until dusk today. That was a lot of fun but tiring and now I think I'd rather be crocheting than putting up an elaborate post.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Shawl Sprout

Spent the morning in a Vancouver hospital waiting for my sister Jamie to be finished with her biopsy surgery. I crocheted like mad on the Noro lace weight shawl to keep my mind from wandering off after the shades of last July when a similar home-the-same-day surgery went awry and she ended up spending a month in the hospital.

Today it was the same building just a different floor and every where I looked a color, fabric design, molding, drinking fountain.... there was something that aimed memories at me.

So I kept my eyes on my hook and yarn and before I could blink twice Jamie's voice called down the hall from the nurse propelled wheelchair telling us to meet her in the parking lot.

And I had four more rows.

Now I'm spending the night with her--a condition of her being allowed to come home was a companion for the day and night. But we didn't need that to propel us. My annual visit north is only three weeks this year and last week I was on duty caring for our mom and I have a wedding to attend Sunday for which much prep is left to do for the gift. So we've not much time to spend face to face before we're back to IM and facebook.

Jamie made dinner and afterwards she did a photo shoot of the shawl for me. She is much better at it than my having the artist's eye for it.

Oh but don't blame her for the one below. I took that the day I brought the Noro skein home months ago. My first lace weight yarn. It is variegated in colors I love. It is a blend of nylon, rayon, wool and cashmere. I'm using a steel hook size 1 as the yarn is skinnier than any other I've seen. I could go smaller to a 4 or even 6 but it isn't a consistent size. It ranges in size from the equivalent of sizes 30 to 3 cotton crochet thread. That totally bugged me at first but it's growing on me now as is the shawl itself which I was so frustrated with at the end of row 2 I was tempted to rip it out.

Even the second two rows--the first of today--were so frustrating and I several times I commented that if I continued having to take out stitches one to three times out of every five I'd have made the thing twice before I finished it once.

This one's for me. My colors and as some have said 'it's about time.'


Monday, July 25, 2011

Crochet Bridal Purse Done (Almost)

Am all but done with the crocheted bridal purse I started last Monday. Have it off the hook but still need to tuck tails (10) and sew the beautiful antique buttons from the button collection that was begun by my great-grandma, added to by my grandma and my Mom.

I mustn't linger as it is already after 5am Tuesday (I was determined to finish this and get the pictures for this post) so I'll leave you with two close ups:

Close up of the top 2/3 showing the chain mesh body, the cross stitch in variegated blue dividing the top and bottom halves, the triple crochet row for threading the drawstring through and the double crochet shell stitch rim. The bottom is sewn together with single crochet shells.

And the buttons:


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Serenity #239

doan kno bout u but iz n mai blizz

So my sister returned today and I'm no longer on duty with Mom all by myself. I'll continue to help out any way I can until my return home August 7.

Next Sunday I'm attending my niece's wedding so I'm racing the clock to get the bridal purse and vase mat ready. Another inch or so of rows on the purse and a fringe or boarder on the mat. Plus tucking tails and blocking.

It was rather silly of me but I started making a shawl for myself out of a variegated lace weight yarn in colors that are similar to the blouse I'm planning to wear to the wedding. I know there is little hope I can finish it in time but I want to see how far I can get. Wish I'd realized the color match weeks ago.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quote: Measuring Up

dis ting telz mi u no meyzur up 2 ur purtinchill

“Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but what you should have accomplished with your ability.”
John Wooden


Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: Resource

Why reinvent the wheel when there are so many teachers willing to share their know-how?

Musings on craft, process and publishing by Robert Gregory Browne, author of several thrillers, among them Kiss Her Again and Whisper in the Dark.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday 13 ~ 7/21/11

13 Of My Crocheted Bookmark Patterns and Their Variations

1. This was the first. The one Mom taught me in April 2009 5 months after her stroke when her aphasia was still pronounced. She studied a bookmark I found in one of my Dad's books after he died and reverse-engineered it and then demonstrated for a row or two and then watched me try...and try...and try...

Everything you find on this site regarding crochet and my crochet WIP all stemmed from that first bookmark. It's not pictured as it was gifted that same month to my MIL.

2. A few weeks after mastering that first pattern I designed my first one using the same stitch--the double crochet--that had made up the first one.

2 B. I'm grouping this with the ones above it because it is nothing but the center section standing alone. I've made this one twice as long but no longer have it to photograph. The one pictured is about 4 inches without the ribbon.

3. My second new pattern and design. Still using only the chain and the double crochet. This one too is about 4 inches sans ribbon and I've also made it longer.

4. These four and the two below are variations on the first bookmark I made following a pattern. The original is not shown as it has been gifted. Here I've learned a new stitch called the cross-stitch but it is still two double crochets crossed.

5. This one is a riff on a scarf pattern. Still all double crochet but variations on it use half-double or single crochet. I've made over a dozen in various lengths but few have had their fringes put on yet. I'm terrible at those finishing touches. You'll see a lot of start and finish tails still awaiting tucking into the stitches in the following pics.

6. This was also based on a scarf pattern. These use single crochet, triple crochet, double triple crochet and the trinity stitch for the border. The one on top has the border in a third color while the one below repeats the center color. The top one is cotton size 10 and the bottom one is bamboo size 10

7. Here I continue to use the triple in the middle and the trinity for the border but the rows to either side of the center are my first bobble stitches.

8. Here the trinity stitch makes up the body. The top has a picot border. The bottom has no border.

9. This is the Solomon's Knot aka Love Knot. Top to bottom: bamboo size 10, white cotton size 30, Lizbeth's Egyptian cotton size 20. FYI as the size number increases the thread size decreases. I've used sizes 50 and 100 as well. 100 is not much different in size than sewing thread but it's stronger.

10. This is called, by some books, a chain mesh. It is basically the same stitch I'm using int the bridal purse as seen in yesterday's post. But here it was three chains then a single crochet into the middle chain of the 3 chain directly below. Here it's five chains with a slip stitch in the 3rd or middle chain of the 5 chain below.

This is hand painted silk thread. I was practicing the stitch I thot I was going to use on my MIL's shawl. But then I saw the Love Knot and used it instead. Technically I suppose this one should have preceded the one above.

11. This is the interweave stitch aka the post stitch where a stitch above wraps around the post of the stitch below it instead being worked into the top of the stitch as normal. when you use contrasting colors the effect can be striking. The border is my first picot attempts.

I used this stitch in the baby afghan for my grand-nephew born in January. It was 36X30 inches with white alternating with 5 pastels in bamboo size 10 thread. I made several bookmarks using the bamboo thread and the same colors to practice the stitch and work out the order of the pastel rows. I should have included one here but didn't think of it.

12. The top two with interlocking circlets using a stitch I made up and still haven't found describe in any of the books. It is based on the triple but I take the loops off 1 than 2 than 3 instead of the 2-2-2 of the triple crochet. The top one is actually being made for the shoulder strap of the rainbow tote I'm making for myself. The blues and purples below it is for my sister's B-day. Both are still on the hook as are the group below.

13. The two in the middle are using the chevron or zig-zag stitch. It can be done with any of the stitche from single through double triple but here I'm using single crochet.

The one on the bottom is really a variation on the scarf pattern seen in 5 only with single crochet and square sections. I'm intending to fringe it but a tassel would work as well. Also if I make the squares bigger I could do riffs on the concept below.

This is unfinished. It should have been grouped with #4 as it was a riff on the cross stitch rows alternating with double or half double rows. I began it a year ago and had it off the hook but did not like the way the triangle on the right pointed inward instead of out like the first one. I had meant to flip it. I went ahead and added the three rows of purple cross stitch and took it off the hook but I could never convince myself to like it. So I took off the purple rows and plan to make the yellow triangle in green a diamond and then add a triangle pointing out at the end. This will be one of a kind tho as from now on when I do shapes I will use single crochet instead of the half-double seen here and I won't be using those cross stitch rows.

I had some unwanted help during the photo shoot. I'm currently staying at my Mom's and my nephew's cat Bradley kept insisting that my lay out space was a bed or a playpen. I had to shut him in the stair well for awhile.

During the photo shoot I misplaced two of the bookmarks and was blaming Bradley but when they turned up after a ninety minute search they were in places that made it obvious that I was at fault.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Crochet Bridal Purse

I have crochet projects sprouting like weeds. I keep getting an idea and can't wait to start working on it to see it take shape. I have four bookmarks on the hook begun last week, am still working on the rainbow tote, have nearly a hundred bookmarks off the hook that need tails tucked and fringe or tassels attached as well as 1.5 sets of 4 coasters and a vase/lamp mat all patterned after the Navajo rug with lots of narrow stripes each having two tails each and all needing fringe.

Some of these are time sensitive. The bookmarks are for birthday presents for birthday's already gone by for family and friends in this area so i'd like to have them off the hook, tucked, blocked and dressed before I leave August 7.

The vase mat is a wedding gift for a niece getting married in two weeks. And the bridal purse seen at top is also for her and I just started it two days ago. It will be a small draw string pouch about six to eight inches tall that has a number of possible uses: to carry a tissue or lipstick or any small item hard to do without while wearing the wedding dress; to store wedding keepsakes in; or filled with something fragrant and stored with the wedding dress or keepsakes or in a lingerie drawer.

The stitch I'm using is simple and quick and it is progressing fast. It is a mesh made with three chains attached to the three chain loop below with a single crochet in the middle chain. On the first row the single crochet is worked in every third chain with three chains between. This mesh can be made with any odd number of chains between three and eleven. I suppose it could be done with any odd number go much higher than eleven and the holes would be too big to be useful. Tho I can almost envisage a light weight summer shawl done with a mesh as big as 22 chains. Possible variations are to replace the single crochet with a slip stitch or any of the other stitches from half double to double triple or with a picot which is a 3 or 5 chain with both ends in the same chain below making a tiny loop. By doing two 3 chain picots to either side of a 5 chain picot you get a fleur de lis. I seriously considered that but decided I needed to keep it simple since time is seriously constrained.

I'm working with pearle thread in bright white and will accent it with pearle variegated delft blues. I'm thinking a single row of a taller stitch about half way up, a row of triple crochet where the drawstring will be for threading a ribbon through and something on the rim.

I'm making this up as I go. I've been doing a lot of that lately.

BTW the backdrop for my picture is of a dishtowel made by my cousin's daughter on a loom that belonged to my Mom's aunt which would be this young lady's great-great-aunt. My mom had inherited it but when learning of here great-niece's interest several years ago she passed it on to her.

That came in the mail for Mom today. She said she'll not use it for a dishtowel but rather a table mat of some sort. It is two gorgeous. I took one look at it and am now craving to learn how to weave myself. But on a smaller scale--bookmarks and belts and small purses and wallets. I'd have no room to set up that huge loom the size of an upright piano so I'd want a table top one. But that's sometime in the future if ever. I wish now that I'd shown more interest in it all those years it was set up in Mom's bedroom when I was a teenager.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bedtime Story

no sleepee yet  nuthr chaptr purrrweez

Mom's asleep and I need to be in two hours and I am yearning for my story fix. I had to put stories, both text and video, on the way back burner when I started packing a week ago. I'm feeling deprived.


Monday, July 18, 2011


I need my dreams  They give me wings

Sorry I can NOT keep my eyes open.

It's been a long week and though I was a lot less active now thuhat the packing is done and the trip is over I spent six hours visiting with my Mom this afternoon and evening and conversation tends to exhaust me at the best of times.

And I've got only eight hours til I need to be awake so I'm off to ZZZland


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Serenity #238

art print for sale at
photo by Linda Johnson

The Packing is done and now its time to start unpacking. But not tonight. Tonight I sleep. I need to be well rested when my sister-in-law brings Mom home as my sister leaves town. At that point I go on duty for a full week,

So this Sunday I've set my heart to gladness and joy for the blessing that I'm able to bestow blessing on my family; to give my sister a much needed break; to give of my time and abbilities such as they are to contribute ao my loved ones serenity and joy.

Here's an image to take with you as you imagine my week: A woman in her fifties and a woman in her seventies walking about a suburban two story with bells on their toes.

So OK if you didn't laugh you at least smiled at that comical scene.

Funny it may be but if it fulfills its intended purpose the payoff for the mild humiliation of feeling like a clown for a week will be: zero broken dishes or bones, zero bruises caused by collisions between the two of us. It won't protect me form colliding with a table, chair or wall though for that I'm on my own and the best hope lies in my learning to live at a slower pace for the next week, to walk not scurry about, to pay attention to what I'm doing and where I'm going, to make no sudden moves. But to accomplish that I need to be well rested.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

wut u meen u all dun paking?  i fink u missgn sumfink

I'm all packed except for the last minute stuff and the car is half packed. I was supposed to be getting a good sleep tonight but it is not looking promising for more than a nap of two or three hours. Still a few things to wrap up. Have a wet head for one. Also left the dishes from dinner for after I got the bed cleared for Ed who will be the one driving at 6:30am.

Merlin, my kitty, has been a big help. Not!

His helping consisted of walking across or sitting in or laying down on whatever I needed at that moment.

Silly cat. But I miss him already.

Well I guess I should stop babbling and get on with it.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: The Character of My Storyworld

branches' mesh mashed up by interfering sunlight — perspective of a dragonfly hovering over a bayou

This is what it feels like to think about my FOS storyworld. It's tangled threads flickering with colored lights floating in flowing fluid. It's chaotic and I've always fought that trying to force order upon it--my unrealistic sense of order. The sense of order seen in a graveyard or mausoleum, everything in ordered columns and rows; everything staying put in the place it was assigned; everything labeled...

But there is now story in that. Or if there were it was over once something was put in it's place to stay. Living things don't stay put. Stories don't stay ordered like account books.

Maybe I should have been an accountant.


I've been doing a lot of thinking about my fiction WIP all week as my hands have been busy sorting and packing for my trip Sunday. I'v set my mind to set my mind upon writing my stories again as soon as I've unpacked after I get home August 7th. I haven't touched my fiction files for months and haven't written any new narrative or dialog since NaNoWriMo ended November 30.

So until then I need to meditate and muse upon this insight: Let my stories breathe! Let them teem and stream. Let them mix and mingle and tumble and jumble. Let them live.

Between now and the end of August I will allow myself to impose some order on the messes I've made of my fiction files during the last 7 NaNos for the purpose mainly to refamiliarize myself with what is there, to add some of the thoughts I've had in the last nine months that haven't been recorded anywhere--those I still remember anyway, and to get reacquainted with the characters.

In the last several weeks I've written a book review, two movie reviews and a poem. My writing mojo which had run off has returned and it is time to sic it on the stories.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Crochet Thread Woes and Wins


I have four bookmarks on the hook right now. Two of them having three colors in common so I keep them in the same project bag with the rainbow tote which includes all six plus 12 tho I am done with 16 of those now and the remaining two are not used in the bookmarks but I gotten used to having all three projects in the one bag.

So yesterday two bookmarks which I'd been keeping inside the tube of the ball currently in use feel to the bottom of the bag and several loops of thread came off two of the balls and the three threads still connected got snarled.


I've been trying to cram as much thread into the space I've allocated to myself for thread to take with me on my three week trip to my Mom's. One way was to take the thread off the huge cardboard tubes if the ball was at least half gone. It takes 20 to 30 minutes each but its worth it to take them down from softball to golf ball size.

I even found it rather soothing the winding of the thread by hand and am tempted to start in on the fuller to full balls. But not until I'm done packing. For improvised cores I used: cotton out of a vitamin bottle; packing peanuts; crushed tubes from the smaller bamboo thread emptied by the baby afghan project; and I'm about to put one on a cat toy ball that's lost its bell.

Here's the third of the four bookmarks. The first one made with the interlocking circlets. I'm using the same concept for the rainbow tote's shoulder strap.

This one turned out longer than I planned. I aimed for 6 to 7 inches and what I'm getting is close to 9.5

This is the top drawer of the chest that I've been keeping my thread in. I decided to use it to transport my crochet and other fiber arts limiting myself to two drawers for the thread and the third for misc. tools and supplies and small fine needle WIP.

The chest currently sets beside the bed it's top serving as a desk top and the drawers holding the thread and a few small crochet projects I can work on without moving the thread out of the drawer. Visible here is the circlet bookmark in a baggie in the lefthand corner and another bookmark hanging by its thread.

Here's a close up:

This is a second zig szg or chevron pattern bookmark. I just learned the stitch this week and now picture about a zillion color combos. For this one I'm using Purple, Parakeet and Pink.

I know I said a couple weeks ago that I was planning to leave the bulk of my thread behind this trip. I wimped out. But I am leaving close to 50%. Before I consolidated them All three 20X16X8 inch drawers were stuffed with thread as well as 2 large, 3 medium and 4 small project bags containing between 1 and 16 balls.

The bottom drawer had contained mostly duplicates, scraps of the ends of balls, and various odd balls that don't play well with others for which I have no current plans. So it was fairly easy to empty that drawer into a medium sized box and bag to be left behind with a few getting moved upstairs.

My reasons for wimping?

~~My mind has been swarming with new ideas for crochet projects especially bookmarks which are quick (30 min to 4 hrs) and I wanted my whole pallet available.

~~I wanted to be able to custom make bookmarks for friends and family while there with their choice of pattern and colors.

But mostly I must admit it was about the building anxiety as the day approached about leaving it behind. In my defense I am leaving behind over 60% of the bulk of the sewing and craft materials I have been taking north with me each year; over 80% of books and notebooks and writing/office paraphernalia; at least 50% of the HABA (health and beauty aids); over 60% of clothes and shoes. So I have improved.


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