Monday, December 16, 2013

Gettin' Giddy in Goodwill

I have been on a quest.

And apparently so has everyone else.

Ugly Christmas sweaters...the latest fashion craze...are getting harder to find.  That is not to say that new ugly sweaters aren't being created, but those classic, vintage atrocities are pretty darn rare.  Having been a young twenty-something in the late eighties/early nineties, I will admit to having purposely purchased said articles of clothing.  Shoot, I even went so far as to have a goal of acquiring at least one Christmas (seemingly gorgeous at the time) sweater for every work day of the month of December.  Naturally, these artistic pieces were coordinated with similar socks and velvet flats.  What can I say?  It was the thing to do...right up there with spiral perms, freeze hairspray for you giant do and Glamour shots.

Fast forward to the present time and my pressing need to acquire multiple ugly sweaters for an upcoming trip and planned "awkward family photo."  Last week I scoured several Goodwill Stores in my area.  Nothing.  It was as if some marketing genius had an inside track and was hoarding them to open his own Ugly Sweater Store.  At the last Goodwill I stopped in, I half heartedly perused the 50% off racks hoping against hope, when my hand grasped something that can not be described.  It was so soft, it can only be experienced.  Checked the label, snatched it off the hanger and proceeded to mentally do my own Lord of the Rings impression..."my precious."  And what to your wondering eyes do you think I read on that label?  Cashmere.  100% two ply cashmere.  Women's size 1X.  Do you know what this means?????  (insert cheesy game show music while I wait)  As a spinner that recognizes and honors the concept of reusing, all I could see was the hundreds and hundreds of yards of fiber that I could unravel, give a little soak, and ply back into a thickness of yarn I wanted...perhaps over-dying the yarn if I so chose.

As if that was not incredible enough to make me want to hop around and break out into my own Fiber Freak version of "Thrift Shop," it then dawned on me that I had just pulled this off the 50% off rack...thus making this pile of sinful softness a whopping $2.30.  Yes, you read that right.  SCORE!

Tonight, I stopped in at one more Goodwill Store on the way home, hoping against hope that maybe the sweater gods would shine on me and gift me not only with hideous apparel but mayyyybbbeee another cashmere piece of fluff that would want to come home with me, get all unravelled and transform into something else.  I got half my wish...

It should be noted that there are varying degrees of quality of cashmere and these two sweaters demonstrate that difference.  The pink one is infinitely softer, which tells me there is a definite difference in the micron count of the staple fiber, thus leading to difference in quality/softness.  I.don'  I bought hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of yards of cashmere yarn for less than a total of $8.00.  Unravelling will be a bit tricky to get started, but every fiberist knows that undoing goes so much faster than the doing.

Ugly Christmas sweaters?  Found those too, but that triumph pales in comparison.   So, I leave you with this:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Breakfast with Granny

I have spoken often of my Granny Grammer.  It was by her side that so much knowledge of homekeeping was transferred from one generation to another.  Those many, many hours serve as the basis from which I draw all my homekeeping designs.

Looking around the world today, it is apparent that I am an anomaly that was born in the wrong era.  Either that or today's society has veered off the path in such an enormously detrimental way.  It is sad when today's children have no concept of where food comes from...thinking the grocery store can or box is the only way to cook.  And don't forget the requisite microwave.  I got rid of mine several years ago for a few important can do your own research...and shockingly I am still able to cook .  However in the world did our ancestors survive without this contraption?  I'll tell you...with REAL food...ingredients that came from their gardens, or that they put up, or that they purchased fresh from the grocer and prepared on their stove or in the oven.  This point was really driven home one day when my step-daughter peered into the pantry and exclaimed, "there's nothing to eat in here except ingredients, why can't we be like everyone else and have boxes and mixes?"  The answer, of course, is because I CARE about what I feed the people I love!  The concept of mass production farming, by way of GMO seeds, brings up the hot topic of yes, farms are able to produce exponentially larger yields...but at what cost?  Study after study has delved into this atrocious "raping" of God-given perfect the way they are foods.  But that topic is a hot button for many, so I'll leave it at that.

Back to this morning.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went back to my hometown for some much needed Daddy time.  We popped over to my Grandparents home that is currently being used primarily for storage until decisions are made regarding what to do with it.  The main reason for popping in there was to gather some ancient Mason jars Daddy thought I would like to have.  YES!!!  Standing in the kitchen brought back a flood of always does.  As we turned to leave, Wes spotted the cast iron skillet.  Oh my goodness!, the number of meals that thing has produced is mind boggling.  "Daddy, can I have it, please, please, please???"

So, this morning as I am frying up some bacon to have with breakfast and to crumble on our lunch of corn chowder...Granny was in the kitchen with me again.  But this time, she is by MY side...always in my heart and in my hands as I care for the people I love.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hooking some Chucks

A few weeks ago, one of my sons posted a picture on Facebook of some slippers he saw and wanted me to make.  Have to admit, they are pretty darn cool!  Apparently others think so, as I am now in progress on the third and fourth pairs.

It wasn't all sunshine and roses getting the first pair done.  After some searching for a pattern and coming up empty, I broke down and did what tech-savvier individuals would have done in the first place...throw the image link into Google and watch what happens.  Bingo!  Found a pattern, sort of.  Turns out the original was written in Finnish and it did not translate into English very well.  At all.  Plus, these are crochet.  My hook skills are limited at best, but I was willing to give it a whirl...bizarro language barrier translation and all.

The first four mock ups were ridiculous.  The combination of translation and my skill set made for quite the comedy.  Finally, I broke down and enlisted the help of a Crochet Genius Friend.  

All was good in the pattern world.  Or so I thought.  The first "official" pair was done and mostly to my liking.  The second pair did not turn out like the first at all.  What can I say, except a squirrel must have run past me causing me to lose my place.  They were exponentially better!  Gave those to the other son that requested a pair (because of course, no one requested the same color!) and went back to rip out and re-do the first pair using the distracted pattern.  So, now the first pair is done and is in a box headed towards Sonny Boy.  The third and fourth requested pairs...they are my most pressing WIP.  Thank goodness they are really quite fast to crochet up.  My elbow is not happy at the prospect of continuing the crocheting (hubs says I have Hooker Elbow...he is weird), especially in light of the baby blankets in my stack still to finish putting a simple crochet border on.  

It may not look like it in the pictures, but once on the foot, it stretches out and fits very much like in the inspiration picture.

The location of the pattern from which I started this slippery slipper slope can be found here.  

What finally worked for me is:     ***disclaimer:  I stink at crochet patterns and this may or may not make sense to someone that actually knows what they are doing***

---I used worsted weight Red Heart Super Saver yarn (because I know what is going to happen to them and they need to be able to withstand an Apocalypse) and a 5.0mm/H hook---

1.  Chain 3.  Join into round and do 12 HDC into the middle of the circle.

2.  2HDC into each stitch (total of 24 stitches)

3. and 4.  HDC into each stitch (24 stitches)

5.  Change color and HDC into each stitch.

6 through 9:  HDC

10.  HDC 8 stitches.  In next stitch, 3HDC.  HDC for next 4 stitches. 3HDC in next stitch.  Chain 2 and turn work.

11 through 20:  HDC each stitch (10 stitches).  Chain 2 at end of each row.

21 and 22:  1SC, HDC x2, DC x5, HDC x2, 1SC.  Tie off.

At the base of the flap, connect yarn again to begin the foot.

1.  In the first and last stitch, increase by doing 2HDC in each of those stitches...doing HDC between those stitches.  At end of row, chain 2 and turn.

2.  HDC across, chain 2 and turn.

3, 5, 7, and 9:  same as row 1 of foot.

4, 6, and 8:  same as row 2 of foot.

10-16:  HDC, chain 2 and turn on each row.

Tie off.  Seam up the back.  Lace up with a shoe lace and watch the people you love smile as they put them on and do a happy dance.

Sorry if this makes no sense to seasoned crocheters, but it worked for me.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Thoughts

We are entering a time of year that, according to what we are told, should be a time of joy, love, celebration and quiet peace with reflection. What is it really like for most people?  Stress, fatigue, feelings of low self worth, and many other negative notions.

I'll admit to having been victim to the stranglehold of commercialism that runs rampant in our world, but over the last several years that has been changing.   Enter today's post with a few confessions. 

First, I don't do cards. Now, let me step back and say that sometimes I do send cards because I wish to connect in a way that leaves tangible words that can literally be held in both the recipients hands and heart. But, really, think about it. I honestly have no desire to send or receive cards from people I do not connect with at any other time of the year. The argument may present as "I send cards to update people about my world" or "it's nice to be remembered with a card" or the ever popular "I don't have any other way of keeping up with people".  

I would challenge each of those statements with one comment, you keep up with those you really care about. You pick up the phone, you Facebook, you text, Twitter, or Instagram....or, better yet you take time out of your perceived busy day to actually go see them. I'm sorry but names hastily written in a cheesy card is not communication. Nor is the ridiculous "family letter."  Here is where there are a couple of caveats, I love love love cards from my sister because she always picks the most beautiful and glittery ones and there are a few letters I look forward to because they are better reading than any TV sitcom or reality show...they really provide a glimpse into the unreal. 

Let's talk about gift giving for a minute now.  I'm not a good gift receiver. But, I think I'm a good gift giver. When my boys were young, I stood steadfast to the idea that if three gifts were appropriate for One, then why should my children be different. They never lacked for gifts, however those were not what it's all about.   I have to include a confession that my gift receiving difficulty likely stems from some  unfortunate repetitive circumstances that may have left me a tad bit jaded. For example, nothing says I love you and I pay attention to what you say when you are asked what you would like for Christmas and you show the individual the one and only thing you would really like to have (which was in the store they worked at) and then receive a $50 bill wrapped up in one of your textbooks because they were too busy to go down that aisle. Or, when you receive jewelry every year because it's easy to stop in the store in the mall and grab something...sounds sorta good until you receive the exact same pair of earrings two years in a row. Tip of the iceberg, but you get the point. 

I love buying gifts for people I care about. Just not necessarily for one specific day of the year.  Do we really even need to talk about the excessive nature and commercialism??? I see it all month long in December, year after year and it is sad.   I can count on my hands (actually one hand) the number of store bought gifts that my children have given me for my birthday or Christmas, and while some parents may get their nose out of joint about this and throw guilt trips back at them, it does NOT bother me. My boys are my gift from above. Time spent with them in person, by phone, by text or Skype is more precious to me than anything found anywhere on earth.  Do others feel the same, nope and it's their loss. 

These are a couple of points that gnaw at my heart. It seems only fitting to air them on the first day of December as a, maybe not so gentle, reminder that regardless of what "holiday" you celebrate, remember what the REAL reason is and embrace that throughout the year, not just when standing in line on Black Friday or fretting about what to get that hard to buy for individual. I dare you to not give anything, but instead give them what humans crave the most...the gift of love from your heart that is freely and openly given to everyone. 

I triple dog dare you. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Get All the Butter.

My Granny Grammer told that story so often and we repeated it as well and then my sons started saying it.

Family legend has it that in a diner in California back in the day when my father was a little tyke, the waitress put a plate of butter pats on the table.  Granny, being her silly self, pulled the plate over and declared, "I get all the butter!"  To which the waitress responded, "ma'am, I'm sorry but you'll have to share."

I've heard that story (among others) my whole life and it never fails to crack me up. I still say it when we go out, and it still garners funny looks from those not in the know. 

This afternoon...before the awful storms started and sirens began going off...we tried an experiment. Canning butter. 

Depending on who/what you read or choose to believe it either can or can't be done. Many swear by it and have done it for years and years.  What the heck, I'm game. 

Eight pounds of butter later, I have 12 half-pints (plus a pot of extra that I'll use to make some compound butter) that rumor says has a stable shelf life of 5 years. So, now I get alllllll the butter, bwahahahaha!

What have you canned that defies conventional wisdom?


Monday, October 28, 2013

Learning new bed tricks...

Let's talk beds.  Dog beds, that is.

Jack, the family Golden Rearranger is a stinky scratcher.  He has very dry skin.  Nothing seems to work for him for very long.  He also is getting up there in years and doesn't go outside unless its is absolutely necessary...which is usually twice a day.  The rest of the time, he is content to snooze on his bed, or under the table, or in front of a chair, or--if it is storming--in our shower.  We keep him shaved year round and try not to bathe him too often so as not to exacerbate the skin issue.  Fortunately, he usually smells like Fritos.

Part of the problem with him is that because of the skin thing, he is a compulsive licker.  He sits on his bed and licks his paws...and the bed.  That doggie licks through more beds than you could believe.  And, let's face it, they really aren't made as well as they should be!

When he gets a new bed, I usually run another liner made from old towels under the layer he lays on to try to add another barrier.  It never lasts for very long.

There is a limit to how many times you can launder a pet bed before it is flat out done.  We reached that point a month or so ago, but I haven't had time to address the situation until now.

Yep, it's done and time for its replacement.  This time I thought I'd try something different.  So, I grabbed 3 out of commission bed pillows, an old quilted mattress pad, some old towels, a big glass of iced tea and got to work.

The first step, which required an extra pair of hands, was to stitch the pillows together lengthwise to make one giant rectangle.  Then, I placed that on the mattress pad to do some quick measurements. Based on the size of my giant pillow, I cut the mattress pad and serged three sides together, I made it easy on myself by utilizing the already finished edge of the mattress pad for the opening portion, to make a giant pillowcase.  It was purposely made longer and folded/pinned underneath to allow me to make other additions as needed.

Next, three towels were sewn long sides together.  The large towel was then spread out and the new pillow placed in the center and the sides pulled up to the center and trimmed to allow a generous seam allowance.  Back to the machine to again sew the long center back seam and the bottom seam.  Then, using 1/2 inch double folded bias tape that was folded and stitched down the center and cut into strips/sewn into the open edge to make string ties.

What does Jack think about it?

Well, actions speak louder than barks...


As one of my friends commented, "You can't teach an old dog new bed tricks."


Saturday, October 26, 2013

I don't think it will fit around my neck

For the last several years, the hubster has purchased one piece of jewelry for me each year. It's not any old something that non-creative hubbies can simply walk into a store and purchase along with everyone else. Each piece is a one of a kind pendant crafted by a silversmith we found. We stalk him. He goes to various art shows during the year and he always makes an appearance somewhere near us. 

This year was different though. We knew where he was going to be and made our plans only to have all hopes dashed that morning. We awoke that Sunday to a downpour that was not looking like it was going to let up anytime soon. (That and the slight problem of the torrential downpour and winds caused the hubbies' boat to shift, get one corner wedged under the dock and proceed to fill up with water and look like a mini Tiranic in the cove). It was not meant to be for this art show. Oh, well.  

Enter Plan B. A super sweet lady near us has an antiques sale periodically. She always has something I can't live without. However, I do have a rule that the thing I want has to be there for 3 consecutive sales before it is obviously supposed to come home with me. 

Our kitchen is a long galley style space with limited storage. Now, while I do have an incredible pantry and now a separate store room, something was needed for the wide wall at the end from which you can go upstairs or into the great room.  I am short and prefer the things I use most be easy for me to reach. 

Meet the Pie Safe of My Dreams...aka...I Think I Love This More Than A Pendant:

Yes, I'm aware there is a tape measure on top. Reviewing pictures you took is helpful when trying to locate lost tools. 

I'm storing just a teensy tiny bit of some of the canning done this year in it. What I am most excited about is the space to store my cookbooks (along with the one notebook per category of my personal favorite recipes) AND...the spice drawer!  Be still my heart. 

Still have to pick up a few more jars to finish transferring my current spice stash into and then I'm done. Maybe. 

Nope, I don't think I can wear this, but I will love it and use it and know how much my sweetheart loves me every single day. 

We are heading off to the Annual Weenie Roast/Bonfire my in-laws have been hosting for over 40 years.  Gonna be cold but sooo much fun!  Later!!


Friday, October 25, 2013

That was a Mondo long time

It finally happened.

The worlds where I write a post in my head but never post it and the real world of what I really have posted collided.  Maybe I did write the post but failed to put the appropriate labels with it and now I can't find it, and frankly  have given up.  I could have sworn there was at least one, maybe two, posts regarding the Mondo Cable Pulli and the yarn used...which was ripped out from a Churchmouse Pattern for a skirt that grew and grew and my dear hubs declared ugly.  Do I remember what the yarn was?  Um, no.  But I think it was Encore Worsted Tweed.

Waaaay back in May, there was mention made of the Mondo Cable Pulli.  By this point in time, I have no solid recollection of when it was actually started.  But, what I do remember is my frustration with the lazy pattern writing for the top portion of increasing and what have you.  It took several attempts and multiple pieces of paper with line by line detailed directions written out by yours truly to get through that mess.  And then the daily drama of life took over and I put it aside...and FAILED to note on the pattern where I was or even what size I was making!  That should be no surprise given my tendency towards creative size knitting...can you say SMedium?

Finally my evenings got sorted out enough to afford more dedicated knitting time and it came out of time out.  However, it quickly became apparent that I was off in the pattern and what should be the Mondo cable continuing was turning into a squished cable.  Crap!  With the assistance of others' eyes, the row/mistake to tink back to was located.  Next came the chore of figuring out what size I was making since the number of stitches on needles DID NOT match what should be for any of the sizes.  How do I do this stuff???

What does all this mean?  1)  If you could read the posts written in my head, it would be ever so helpful.  2)  My dear hubs is a brave soul for declaring something I made as being ugly.  3)  I love my dear hubs for being so brave, because he was right.  4)  Mondo is done and I am mucho thrilled with it.

And on that note, there you have it, Mondo Cable Pulli...survivor/product of a distracted knitter's life and brave husband's honesty.  (For the record...he loves how this version of the yarny product turned out)


Friday, October 18, 2013

Flowers on my head

The moment I saw a picture of Peerie Flooers two years ago, I popped it into my Ravelry favorites page and vowed to myself that I would make it one day.  Repeat that process when I discovered the matching mittens.

I was scared.

That is seriously a lot of stranding in a small space, on small needles, and a whole lot of color changes.

What the heck!  I survived the Philosophers Walk and may have developed a little bit of an obsession with stranded color knitting.  (the most telling evidence was me e-purchasing and printing out the ENTIRE 161 pages of OP-Art Socks book...holy ink use!!)

My local knitting store offered the hat class and I jumped.  Color strand me hooked.  It was a much quicker knit than I imagined it would be, even with me choosing the longer version.  Although headaches and allergies conspired to attempt to make my brain unresponsive to reading directions, it was fun.

Well, except for:

I used the exact yarn and colors the pattern called for.  Given that this is Rowan Fine Tweed yarn and is 100% wool, I was able to sort of spit felt any pokey ends sticking out after being woven in.  However, it is not a scritchy yarn.  

So, now in the dead of winter when I cannot wear a circle of fresh flowers on my head, I have these beauties to keep me warm and make me smile. 

Next up...matching mittens!!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Minerva's getting a nip and a tuck seems she thinks she is a Real Housewheel of Bartholomew County and it is vitally important to have those droopy/wiggly parts nipped/tucked and get a little oil injected where you need it!

No, I am not speaking of some strange person that is bereft of all common sense.  Minerva is my Ashford Traveller spinning wheel.  I attempt to be diligent with oiling her periodically, but sometimes you have to do a major upkeep session.  I got lazy after purchasing the jumbo flyer attachment for her and never switched the drive band back to a shorter length.  The result being that all my parts were stretched to the max for a long time and now the Mother of All is wonky.  Say what???  Short are wobbly and need some oiling/tightening.

Spinning has sort of taken a back seat to a few other projects most recently, but a couple of fiber blobs have been spun into some seriously pretty stuff.  The last big spinning project was the "Biker Chick" superwash merino that caused me to spew forth a string of expletives when a slight glitch in my system was encountered.  Fortunately, after many hours of tedious, mind numbing, poke-my-eyes-out-please work the single ply was salvaged and Navajo plied into ~275 yards of purty yarn.  (I only lost about 100 yards of the single ply to the bobbin trauma)  Personally, I think it has a bit of a Zauberball look to it, perhaps the obnoxious baby sister version to this one.  Anyway, I'm a happy camper and can't wait for it to tell me what it wants to be.

My super sweet sister sent me a link to a very interesting article that declares "knitting is the new yoga." I would have to agree.  The methodical nature of knitting and spinning have a definite positive effect on my brain and general well being. (unless I am counting...NEVER interrupt a knitter that is counting) Truth be told, I have actually fallen asleep/fell over in my chair while spinning.  Fortunately there is no video or photo evidence of such a thing.  

So, what is on the burner for Minerva's next big project once she recovers?  Well, a large amount of New Zealand Possum/Cashmere blend is waiting in the wings to be spun, plied, dyed into 4 or 5 different colorways and then knit into...wait for it...a stranded colorwork custom designed beer cozy for my sweet hubs.  Yes, you read that right.  He never asks for anything, but did specifically ask for this.  So, not only do I get to spin and dye the yarn, I have to design the thing and chart out the pattern to incorporate not one, not two, but THREE Native American beadwork designs PLUS some specific Hebrew lettering.  All in the confined space of one beer bottle cozy.  Good thing I love that man!

Gotta go, Minerva is waiting.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Peppers and a peak...

Just when I thought that the summer garden was done and it was safe to put away all the canning paraphernalia until the Fall planting start producing, we get an ever so subtle temperature dip and rise along with much needed rain.  The result being that plants that have not yet been pulled and the ground tilled under made a last ditch surprise produce production performance!

This past weekend, I spent the bulk of my time catching up on some sorely neglected household chores...along with giving a little TLC to my raised beds in the side yard.  My darling hubs went to work on the big garden.  He did a little cleaning up, picking, planting and tilling up to enlarge the space we are using.  (Heaven help me if next year's production rate is like this year's given the square foot increase!)

Sunday evening, when he returned from playing in the dirt, a pepper present appeared on the counter.

Obviously, the plants were not done producing!  After a couple of hours of chopping, slicing and measuring, this last little push added 8 cups of chopped peppers for the freezer and 3 pints of pickled sliced jalapenos for the pantry.

And just because I's a sneak peak at a WIP/FO combo (one done, one to go)...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Where am I going?

My mind has been spinning (unlike my fingers, since Minerva is currently disassembled for a little bit of much overdue upkeep).  Thoughts flit through my brain, ideas swirl, blog post topics form, and then...nothing.  There seems to be so much I wish to say, some of it "off topic" from the intent of this little piece of my world.  But, who's to say what is off or on topic?  This is my little piece of the blogosphere after all.

More often than not, I find myself mentally writing, editing and re-formatting a post in my head and then it does not make it to keystroke reality.  Does that mean it should not be said?  Am I chicken to put it out there for public eyes and potential scorn?  Dunno.

This has been one hell of a year.  Blunt and to the point.  It has been a year that, frankly, I am ready to see end.

A nursery poem has popped into my head frequently over the last several months.  Do you remember hearing this as a child?

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving, 
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

I am a Thursday's child.  Right now, I am wondering where I am going and how far to take things.

No, nothing is wrong.  Just working out where to go with this and doing a little bloggy housework.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Oh snap! I have a problem...

and a headache.

My knitting and spinning time has been severely compromised of late due to life. On my wheel most recently has been some gorgeous Merino superwash top hand dyed in the colorway "Biker Chick" by one of my fave indie dyers: Knitted to a T. It is black and an insanely vibrant hot pink. 

Friday night I finished spinning it and was preparing to start the plying process. Pulled the bobbin off my wheel and the bottom piece of the bobbin fell off releasing a cascade of sproingy fiber with a whole lot of twist going on. Crap!!!!

Tried stuffing it back on and cramming the base on...of course that did not work.   The only way I can think to salvage this vast amount of knitting beauty potential is to very very carefully unwind onto a second bobbin, trying not to disturb twist as much as possible, then spin it back onto a third bobbin in my usual spinning twist direction THEN hopefully plying from that. 

Curious what exploding high twist single ply looks like?  It's like a train can't NOT look...


Saturday, August 31, 2013

I can see clearly now...

This weekend I have the pleasure of hanging out in one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people and some of his friends.  Time to recharge my internal batteries.

Growing up, my family and I spent our summer vacations on Santa Rosa Island (Pensacola Beach, Florida)  The sugar white sands and warm gulf are equated with fun family memories and soothing relaxation.  Every year we stayed at the same motel, usually in the same room.  It was not uncommon for the owner to call if reservations had not been made by a certain date.  The accommodations bordered on spartan.  The building was concrete block and there was a gap at the bottom of the door that sand was always blowing through.  It was PERFECT!  As far as I am concerned, I am there for the beach and water not much of anything else.  Give me a place to sleep and easy access to those dunes and all is good.

The memories of those trips are priceless.  My Mother always packed a big straw bag with a thermos of coffee (served in a solo coffee cup cozy), a few snack crackers, the travel Atlas and baggies filled with wet washcloths.  We always drove...14 hours spread over two days.  The first day would find us spending the night in Hattiesburg, and driving the rest of the way the next.  Gotta love the Bankhead Tunnel in Mobile!  One year, Mother read Jaws aloud on the trip...yikes!!  My sister and I would sit in the back seat with an invisible line drawn down the middle of the seat and beach towels hooked on the windows to block the sun.

The back of the car was always jammed full of luggage, coolers and sacks of groceries.  No fast food runs.  Instead, we would stop at rest stops along the way and feast on vienna sausages, mini cans of beanie weanie, chips, and ice cold Dad's Root Beer or grape soda.  Breakfast and lunch once there was mini cereal boxes with milk and sandwiches from foods kept in the cooler in the room.  Dinner out was a treat and was wonderful.

On one of the very first trips we made, a song came on the radio which embodied the spirit of the renewal these trips provided.  From that point on, this song was the soundtrack of our summers.  When I hear it, I am immediately transported back in time and am crossing the bridge to the island with my family.

Ahhhhh...sun, sand and at least one son with me (wish it was all three)...I can see clearly now!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Putting up...

Happy Saturday!

What's on your agenda for the day?

We have already been up, made a delivery for the shop, hit the Farmer's Market for eggs, a few beets and some more of the insanely sweet peaches from last week. They got canned and so will these. What better way to enjoy the bounty of organically and locally grown peak of season fruits in the dead of winter. 

Now it's time to hit the road to go pick pears. My father-in-law has a rent house that has cherry and pear trees on the property. We nearly missed the cherries a couple of months ago due to the crazy travel schedule this year has brought with it.  The trees were dripping with fruit and even at the last minute provided enough for 16 quarts of pie filling.  THAT was a super long night of sorting, pitting, cooking and canning!!  Rumor has it the pear trees are equally loaded. Yay for more late night canning escapades! (Never mind that my kitchen floor, counters and fridge are overloaded with enough produce from our garden to open our own market. It may be the dead of winter before I finish getting everything canned.)

Advantages of road trips in the truck:  knitting while sitting on a bench seat scrunched up next to my sweetie.  

Make it a great day and be ever aware of the blessings before you. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I have no words...

I mean really.

I know that I have been totally AWOL around here and have managed to somehow lose the entire month of July.  NOT to say that my absence from here relates to nothing going on.

Although it went by like a flash, July was filled to the brim with activities and memory making with some of my all time favorite people that I can never ever get enough time sons.  Lots of changes and moves happening that tugged at this Mama's heart in a way that the average person cannot and does not's a military thing.

Normally, when they descend upon the house, cries of "make this...make that" are refrains of happiness for me.  This time, the focus during our travels and time at home were more about being with people that may not be seen again for quite some time.  That, and for one kiddo in particular, partaking of mass quantities of favorite fast foods to "stock up".

So imagine my surprise, shock and giggles when I opened the crisper in the fridge, dug around through the mounds of stuff that is coming from our garden at warp speed, and found this little jewel smashed up and wedged under an edge of the front of the drawer (10 points to me for a colossal run on sentence):

Who knew that a carrot can turn into a stick!!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Living like Mr. Rogers

Did you watch Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood when you were growing up?  I did and in many ways the lessons stuck with me.

In a nutshell, my take-away from that show was that it is important to take care of people around you...whether you "know" them or not and that life is truly simple and not to be taken for granted.  Not to mention, what's not to love about someone who befriends Henrietta Pussycat?

Where we live is a bit isolated.  It is not uncommon for people to come to our door because they are lost and need directions back to the main road.  This happens more often during the Fall when the "leaf lookers" are out and about, but other times as well.  We have written instructions down for people, showed them how to look on their phone, and been a lead car and driven them back to the highway.  When I first moved here, pre smart phone, I got lost after taking my step-daughter to elementary school.    I drove and drove and drove, feeling more and more lost.  During a final frantic phone call to my husband, he asked where I was and what was around me.  In tears, I responded with, "I don't know, I'm lost.  There's a field of corn on my left and field of soybeans on my right!"  So, I commiserate completely with these directionally challenged individuals.

This past Sunday, we were working in the yard...sweaty, messy hedge trimming/flower bed weeding work.  We looked up to see an older woman come out of the woods and walk to us.  She was lost.  She had left her kids' home with them to go for a hike and was taking her time enjoying the scenery.  Being younger and more agile, they got far ahead of her and she never caught back up with them.  She knew they lived on the lake, but she had no reference point to determine which way to go.  And, she was tired.  And, she had no water.  I went for bottled water while Wes got the car to take her home.  When he got back, he remarked on what an interesting lady she was and how he so enjoyed their conversation during the brief ride to her family's home.

What was gleaned from this encounter?  She was not from this country and mentioned that it took a great deal of courage on her part to approach us to ask for help.  How sad is that?  She shared that, as a child growing up in her country, there was never the fear of approaching your neighbor.  In her words, your neighbor was FAMILY.  Everyone took care of each other without question, but that had changed over the years to the point that people feared/did not talk to or interact with their neighbors and she was saddened to see the same changes happening in this country.  She is right.

While I am the first to admit that I do not interact a lot with my physical address neighbors, but without question if they needed something I would gladly help.  There is no guarantee in life and no promises for anything.  All we can do is try to be the best soul on earth that we can be and love ALL of our neighbors near and far.  It is what we are asked to do above all one another.

Won't you be my neighbor?

Friday, June 28, 2013

This One's Tabled...

finally.  And, it only took a year!

In my defense, I had to spin the yarn first.  A little over a year ago I was following a video blog that promoted a Spin-along where you were challenged to spin new-to-you fibers.  The fiber suggestion for April was Masham.  Sure, I'll try it.  At the same time, fractal spinning had taken over my brain and was something I was focussing on to improve technique.  What fun for a still relative newbie!

I dutifully ordered my fiber, after spending hours and hours struggling to choose just the right ombre shading from a selection of Etsy stores.  Then, once it was spun, the process of picking something to knit began.  Several ideas floated around, but this yarn really is not something I would want next to or near my skin.  However, something house-y would be great.  South Seas Table Runner had been on my mental to do list for some time.  So, cast on was completed and it feels like an eternity has passed since that time.  The project had to go into time out for awhile due to multiple "knitting in the car yarn-over tragedies".

Finally, done and off the blocking board.  Sadly, even after a Eucalan Eucalyptus soak, there is still some residual sheepy smell, which doesn't bother me, but the cats are getting too friendly with the runner!  Good thing I pictured this on the back porch dining table.

The ombre effect of each section was fairly well maintained.  There was enough yarn to do several more inches, but frankly I was done.

Shells still need to be attached, because of course something soft-ish and slightly sheepy smelling NEEDS dangly things for cats that like to sun themselves on the back porch!

Works for me.  Anyone want to place bets on how long it stays there before some kitty has other plans for it?

Oh well, don't all good Meowmys know that everything is feline fair game?


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Epic Fai(L) Isle...

or aka: Lessons in choosing colors carefully.

As per usual, I am sidetracked from pressing projects that have a deadline.  In my defense, I signed up for a fair isle sock class before deciding on making the "project with a deadline".

So, Saturday, I arrived at my LYS with yarn in hand that I could envision becoming THE most awesome socks ever to have been made and worn in the history of man.  My skeins had been lovingly divided in order to make my evil plan of making both socks (on separate needles...can you IMAGINE doing stranded work two at a time with Magic Loop...don't answer, as I am sure there is someone that can and does perform that bit of magic!) happen.  Every intention was to make sure that dreaded Second Sock Syndrome did not infect this project.

Cast on.  Yay!  Learned a new cast on technique to add to my bag of tricks.

Started the cuff.  This is kinda fiddly but once my hands and brain were on the same page of separate yarns in each hand but working in sync with each other, I got in a rhythm.  Fun stuff people!

After class, I went home and proudly showed off my lovely (so far) cuff to the hubs.  He was duly impressed.

And then Sunday happened.

Two repeats into the chart revealed a sad sad moment of truth.  The two yarns had too much color similarity to allow for the distinctive portions of the pattern to shine through.  What to do?!?!?!?


Off to the stash!

Fortunately, I had an entire skein of Heritage Sock Yarn that had been lounging around in the stash basket for several years waiting to tell me what it wanted to be when it grew up.  Main color-bingo.  Contrast color turned up in the leftovers basket:  Heritage Silk Paints that was leftover from when I made Boxy.

Cast on and hallelujah we have a winner.  The other lesson to this is that fair isle knitting is addictive...can't seem to put it down.


With:  Size 2US itty bitty teeny tiny circs (my hands are screaming!)

This, my dears, is exactly why Stash Yarn is vitally important!!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Stop Mocking Me...

aka..."Tales of the B-ugly Yarn".

You've done it.  Don't even try to deny it.

The pity purchase.

You know the one, where you are in a small business and you feel like you NEED to buy something just to show support for their endeavor.

I have one such pity purchase that has been a thorn in my side for the last few years.  The colors match my living room, but, well, honestly, it is b-ugly yarn (the "pc" version of what I really want to call it).  It has been on and off the needles through so many potential projects that I have lost count.  Shoot, it has even been cast on FOUR times for different projects since midnight last night!!!

Please don't even bother to point out that given my startitis/enditis problems of late, I shouldn't even be messing around with anything else.  However, it was out of my control.  About 10:30 last night I went in to straighten up and reorganize my craft room cabinets.  After re-arranging and (fatal move) pausing to look through a couple of books, I wound up pulling stash baskets out and the b-ugly yarn started laughing at me.  I may have reacted in a bit of a cocky manner and that was all it took.  Game on...again.

At present, the fourth cast on (the whole two rows completed of garter stitch) is working out.  HA!  But, the darned stuff is whispering taunts at me from inside my knitting bag under my desk at the shop.

Who will be the ultimate winner?  Only time will tell.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Daddy, Two Papa's and a Great Grandfather...

My Daddy.  Where to start.  Never Dad, Father, Pa, Pop...always my Daddy.  He is a rock that I know I can turn to for advice, a shoulder, a kick in the butt, a hug, a laugh...whatever is needed.

He has a humor that is slightly off (which explains a lot about me) and the drive and perseverance to do just about anything he sets his mind to.  He is also one tough cookie!  

As young girls, my sister and I spent countless hours at the drugstore with him.  He was a pharmacist and my mother kept the books.  Carrie and I were taught from a young age how to work.  We were taught far more than how to keep records, how to deal with customers or how to do inventory (blecchh!).  What we were witness to was not only a lesson on how to have a life partner that was your best friend, that you loved spending time with to the point that you worked side by side every single day-rarely apart, and how to develop a work ethic to carry us through life.  When he retired from pharmacy and took up the reins of my grandfather's real estate business, it was again side by side with my mother.

As I had my sons, he was right there guiding them and enjoying time with them.  Many hours have been spent walking, talking, shooting, and plain goofing off between the boys and their grandfather...hours spent at home, at the farm, at pow-wows and on so many occasions.  He has shared his love of history, play time and heritage with them.

But where did he learn the things he has and continues to pass on?  That would be by the side of his father, my grandfather...Papa Grammer.  What an inspirational man!  Early in his marriage, he took his wife and other family members across the country from Arkansas to California to search for work.  We are talking dustbowl/depression times.  Family stories that have been passed down are rich with jobs he held to, antics of he and my grandmother.  Papa Grammer, to me, was a quiet man of incredible strength.  He worked hard and then he worked some more.  I cannot count the number of times that I have called him needing help with figuring out how to do something.  He is greatly missed, but I am proud to have known such a wonderful man.  Still today, true to the goofiness which I come by naturally, I cannot make or eat pie without thinking about Papa G.  To say he loved pie would be an understatement.  When we would go out to eat as a family, he would never come right out and say he wanted a slice, instead ALWAYS asking, "Do you want pie? Well, if you want some, then I will have some too."  Of course, you always said yes, because he reallllyyyy wanted a piece of pie.  

And then there is my Papa Phillips, my mother's father.  Oh my heavens that man had the greenest thumb on earth!  There was absolutely nothing that he could not grow.  He was a tall and lanky gentleman with a quick and easy grin.  The years that I remember most with him included visiting him when he was still working at Lewis Brothers on the square in Fayetteville.  At that time he and Granny lived in a two-story white house that my mother lived in when she met my father.  That house always seemed huge to me.  The back yard and garden, enormous in my eyes.  I recall walking through the garden with him and rummaging in the garage as he potted and replanted and nurtured all manner of plants.  He had a special touch to the garden area pathways...each grandchild had their footprints cast in concrete with their name and date scratched in with a big nail.  It was always fun to stand in my cousins' footprints.  He smoked Camel cigarettes, but NEVER in the house and to this day, if I perchance catch a whiff of one, his image pops into my head.  

Granddad.  It would be a much better world indeed if every child had a Great Grandparent or two (as I did) actively in their life.  My Great Grandfather (on my Daddy's side) was a hoot and a half!  Rarely did I see him dressed in anything other than overalls and a plaid flannel shirt.  He had a love of Papa Burgers from A&W, root beer floats, and popcorn.  Oh, the popcorn!  From the time I was 16 until I moved away after college, I went to his house every Sunday.  We would sit and visit.  Sometimes we would watch baseball...which literally meant watch as he always had the volume turned down.  Often I would bring jiffy pop to fix while we sat and shot the breeze.  He was a source of many of the funny family stories.  One involves him as a young man at a barn dance.  He spotted a pretty young girl and wanted to talk to her.  He mustered up the courage and tried to join in the conversation where she was.  They were discussing a fire.  His flustered, infatuated contribution to the conversation:  "I saw that star fart."  (instead of I saw that fire start).  As he approached his late 80's, he was adamant that no Grammer lived past 89 and that was that.  Well, when that birthday came and passed and he was still alive and kicking, he revised that plan for him to be that he believed he would hang around to see his Great-Great Grandchild.  And that he did.  Alex was born on October 12, 1991, five days after Granddad's 100th birthday.  He got to see and hold Alex twice before he passed away a few months later.  Perhaps those encounters contributed to Alex's wry wit.  Either way, Granddad was my special Granddad and I miss those afternoons of jiffy pop.

Without question, these great men have impacted my life in subtle and obvious ways.  I love you all.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Beginning of Enditis...

Hallelujah!!! Some startitis projects have turned the corner into FO's.  In the last couple of weeks, 4 items have graduated from one status to the other:  The Slink, South Seas Table Runner, miniature items, and a Moss Grid Hand Towel.  However, only The Slink and the Moss Grid Hand Towel are available today for your viewing pleasure.

The Slink, what beautiful yarn, but, lemme tell you, by the end of this thing I was beginning to curse the moment that the "need" for beads entered my head.  That is, until the fringe was pulled and the gloriousness was revealed.   My poor dear husband nearly had a stroke when I began to unravel the fringe.  He is not unused to me ripping things out and starting over, but he claims it pains him to watch. So, at the moment of truth, the shawl was carefully spread across my desk at work and when I grabbed that little loose end and pulled, he just about jumped across from his desk to stop me.  Once he was calmed down by my explanations of intentional pulling to make fringe, he was in awe by the way in which it worked.  I, however, was quite nervous, not so much about the pulling of fringe, but about whether all those stupid beads would fall off with each tug.  Nope...they stayed put.  Whew!

The need/desire for some kitcheny items has gained momentum in my knitting finger fury.  Thus, the plan to do some dish towels was hatched.  Who in their right mind does not enjoy the patterns and writings in any of the Mason Dixon Knitting genre?

Moss Grid Hand Towel made with Sublime Yarn Egyptian Cotton on US 5 needles.  Pretty straight forward pattern resulting in an exceptional end product between the pattern and yarn.  (the Chevron Stripes pattern is on needles as we speak).

It feels good to finish a few things for a change!



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