Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Set of Sets

I love a challenge.
I love the creativity it sparks and the potential that comes with it.
There is also the ideas that come from the simplest color planning and yarn selections.
This was more of a request that turned into a challenge.

As if I were on Project Crochet:
  • Create matching mother and daughter sets
  • Hat and scarf
  • Using only black and gray
  • Not using wool, just cotton

Sounds simple enough. Wrong. I totally broke the rules.

Auf Wiedersehen

The hardest part was finding a black enough black that worked well with a nice gray. I would find a great gray cotton, then the black would be all washed out. This is when the rule breaking, detention receiving began.
I took my frustrated little self and my co-pilot to Daft Dames . My 'Happy Place'. I mixed fibers, through the rules in the toilet and did what I do best...wing it (read: wung it).
I am fairly happy with the way they turned out. I frogged the hats more times than I can count and did and re-did the trim on all four pieces a couple times.
They may not be cotton, they may not be wool-free, but they are not itchy. They are warm and cozy and in the right colors.
(now, lets hope the hats fit and I don't have to frog (rippit) again...)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama Action Figure



Posable, with facial expressions, interchangeable hands, swords, gun, assault rifle, and a lightsaber, among many other complements.
How cool is this? Still trying to find out how to buy and how much, I'll post if I find out.
Here is the site where I first found this deliciousness: Obama Action Figure

Yes, I Sometimes Read Perez Hilton

Shocking, isn't it? Let's just call me diverse.

And it really isn't reading, right? More like looking, gawking, comparing, getting disgusted, etc.

Perez Hilton does find some cool musicians and posts a lot of music videos. Hey, they should have a tv channel that shows music videos all day long. Wouldn't that be amazing? They could call it something like, well, hmm...I got it...Music Television! What a concept.

Check out this cute video. I love the boys, chubby ones are my favorite. This song is very Beatle-like.

Take That: Up All Night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

This is a public service announcement. I didn't pay much attention to this because I thought it really didn't apply to me, but I have now changed my mind. Please take a quick read, you may be surprised by this information.

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.
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Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.
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The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.
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How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:
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To the Parents of Young Students:Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.
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To the Avid Reader:Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all. Article from the American Library Association .
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To the Lover of All Things Handmade: Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

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To the Environmentalist: Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.
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To the Second-Hand Shopper: Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.
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To the Entrepreneur: Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.
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To the Antique Toy Collector: Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.” Check out this Wall Street Journal article.
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To the American Economy: Already struggling under an economy that hasn't been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.
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To the Worldwide Economy: Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.
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If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes.
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And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New LawThe New Law
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Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.


Crisp Ice

It is hard to enjoy winter when it never seems to go away. We are bracing for another sizable storm today.
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I would like to thank my clogged gutter for these ice formations that would make Jack Frost melt.


I was in Chicago last week for work and am fortunate enough to be able to eat out at restaurants for every meal while there. It is definitely a change from the refrigerator dinners we come up with over here. Even when the boys get a pizza, I still grab my Amy's Rice Crust pizza from the freezer.
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All the places we went to were very accommodating and every one either understood GF preparation or had a separate menu for the same. My all time favorite is PF Chang's where I eat as much as possible and wonder why I eat so much. Chang's Spicy Chicken is my favorite.
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Then we had our company meeting at The Clubhouse in Oak Brook. The servers and I huddled with the menu in hand and we laughed at how bland everything sounded. I perked up when one of them suggested blackened salmon. Three or so years back I had to go to a convention and try to eat buffet food - quite a challenge. I ended up getting salmon for every meal and since then, my boss (Mr. Krabs), mocks my choices. This time, the salmon was great, I could have had another piece. For dessert I got sorbet. A cute little glass with three different flavors of sorbet...with a cookie. A gluten cookie. Oh well, you can't always get everything...but that dish of bitty balls was like a vacation in a glass.
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Dinner was okay at Kona Grill. The next lunch was at The Chicago Diner , a vegan place. A very small, small place. The sweet potato fries were amazing! I had the quesadillas which resembled more of a taco than a flat quesadilla, it was okay, just a bit bland.
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But, the best stop (thanks, Meredith, I know you drove all day long) was at Swirlz Cupcakes. I would be there every day of the week if I could. They make regular and gluten free cupcakes and Meredith can't tell the difference. I ate all their samples and got a fresh carrot cupcake (no wet, fat, moist, raisins - thank goodness). It was like Thanksgiving in a dreamland where all they serve is the dessert and you can just sit back and fart. Pure bliss!
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I love how accessible and knowledgeable chefs in Chicago are for us gluten freers.
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Did you know that 1 in 133 people have Celiac and live gluten free lives? Shocking statistic, I think.
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Even more shocking...blogspot thinks I meant Celia or Celtic.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Serious Boucle

Sometimes you win.

Sometimes you loose.
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My mom gave me this yarn a while back and it just sat in my drawer until last weekend. Every inch is a big puff ballI decided to give it a try. And I knew it would be hard, the wool content was only 73% with the rest being acrylic. I mixed it with a Blue English wool.
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I believe that it was the English wool that makes this so frizzy. It was the same type yarn I used on the orange purse and thought that was frizzy too. Two plus two makes frizzy.
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Although I like this better not felted, it feels right to be felted. It has a good 'hand' and is a great little pouch size.
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Side Note: While I was backing out of my mother-in-laws driveway with both boys in the car, O asked, "Mom, can you drive nuts?"
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Perhaps they really do hear everything I say.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Never Dreamed


That with two boys, they would both be interested in anything yarn-y.
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This is Little O with his pink towels, crocheting.
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Well, basically he jams the big hook into a swatch I made and then pulls out a loop of yarn and says that it is broken, only to turn the hook and exclaim, "I did it, I did crochet!"
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  • Please note the absence of the binky...we went cold turkey last Sunday with no problems at all aside from 1.5 hours of whining. Never a whisper of the 'binky' word since. Amazing. If you are a mom and contemplating the removal of the dreaded to you and coveted to child binky...just do it. Life is much better.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Always Dreamed


...that I would be a school teacher (or a hair stylist, until my mom described how I would have to wash my clients' hair, that dirty, greasy, dandruffed hair).

I remember in middle school practicing my Mrs. _______ name. Perfecting the fancy swirl and dips of the lovely simple name (I'm still messing up my Mrs. name 9 yrs later, two Z's are tough).

After I married Mr. Blank, we were going to have two children. A boy named Jack and then a beautiful little girl named _____. Never really had a name for the girl but she was beautiful from the very seconds of her life. This is unlike me. I wasn't the most attractive baby. My grandmother used to call me Rosebud, but I think that may have been more about the inside of a tightly scrunched and squished, slightly dying rose, instead of the beautiful blossom it is in full bloom.

I have jokingly said that if there was a pill to guarantee a girl, I'd try for a third. I wanted the daughter to make dresses and bonnets for. The girl to weave braids in her long hair. The girl to go shopping with and talk about boys to. The girl to teach to sew and weave. And the girl to help plan her wedding. And to see my daughter with child. Please note that I would not miss the drama, the hoochy Halloween costumes, or the female pre-teen angst.

But that was then.

Those are things that a mother can do with a son. And I am learning, that the emotions are just as strong, if not more. The togetherness and the friendship is there. We have trust and love and creativity. We have helpfulness and encouragement.

Sam has been working very hard in school and at home to control 'things' (we don't need to get into that here...I'm having a moment). For months, when I needed to go to Joann's, he was always with me. Loving yarn and fabric and craft supplies and even zippers. He always asked to buy the round knitting looms. I always pushed them off because I felt he just wanted them because they were colorful, round, and had pegs.

On Friday, I needed an orange zipper for that purse in the last post. We had praised O for using the toilet the night before and I thought Sam needed some encouragement. I bought him a knitting loom.

He really is enjoying it. On Friday night, while Tom took O to bed, Sam sat next to me. He with his loom, I with my hook.

"It's nice to have knitting time with you, Mom. We are best friends."

I may have bought him the loom, but he gave me my dreams.

Orangey Potluck: Felted


5 times.
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It never takes five times in the washer to felt.
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Apparently, the "wool" wasn't all wool.
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So much for a great find.
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I am very glad I added a strand of the rose English Wool to pull it together. If you are interested in felting, look for 100% wool, at least to start with. I have heard that it must be 80% wool to felt, but the nubby joy I have on my hook right now is 73% wool, with an added strand of blue English Wool.
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The colors blended beautifully together, but I think a little something on the front to jazz it up would make it great.
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Off to Chicago this weekend, hoping to share a cup of coffee to my pal at Big Grey Birds . Check out her beautifully written blog. It's vulnerability and honesty is quickly taking it to the top of my daily read list.
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Check her out, you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pinks





I am not a pink girl, I think we all know that. But these are too pretty.
Hip Hip Hooray to Pilot Sullenberger, amazing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Orangey Rose Potluck


My trips to my local yarn store, Daft Dames are always very fruitful. Last week, I may have bought the most cones of yarn to date. And yet, still less than buying half that amount at the big box craft store.

Sam was the lucky co-pilot on this trip. It takes about 40 minutes to get there (not all that local, huh), but once there, it is like being in your favorite place. Sandy beach with a cold beverage, skiing in Colorado, sipping wine by a roaring fire...nope, not me. Put me at Daft Dames with a helpful assistant to take all my purchases from my arms, allowing for even more purchases.

After 15 minutes of browsing and selecting the yarns for a project I am working on for a friend, I started browsing for me. I love their discontinued yarn shelves and found a very bright orange wool yarn with a twist of yellow (and confirmed it was in fact wool).

Handed that to the gal, to free my arms for one more cone of yarn. Not quite certain what I wanted, I asked Sam, who was across the shop playing Leapster like a true champ, to pick a color.

Any color.

"Orange and yellow."
Now that is a co-pilot!


Updates to follow on how this felted up.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

To Face or Not to Face...To Face

Finally!
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It was back in mid October when I showed you these faceless gals. I was so petrified of wrecking these with my poor painting skills. I considered leaving them blank, which personally I kind of liked. Then I thought I would embroider the faces on, I could always cut out the thread if it looked wonky. There were suggestions of using a disappearing ink marker to test the faces out, and using the Waldorf like premise and do only the eyes (maybe nose).
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I had held back a armload of clothes that I bought on the sale rack in September so that I could add these girls to the package. And as I was looking for a pair of jeans of mine that I 'lost' I found the pile of clothes, some of them newborn size...those obviously are now a wasted.
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With the little girlie clothes in hand, I ran down stairs and got the dolls, a scrap of fabric, paintbrush and two fabric paints. It took me 17 minutes. Total. 17 minutes that I dreaded for 3 entire months!
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So, here they are. I think they are adorable. The brunette's smile is a little quirky and cute.
Her smile kind of reminds me of my husband's smile.
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Not that he is a girl.
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Or not that he is a doll.
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And especially not that he is full of stuffing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Caldacooty or Calacot


Another dreary, gray day with no hopes of a decent picture. This one was photo shopped a bit and still doesn't seem right. I always seem to pick the yarn that is difficult to photograph. Another day, another try.
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All bad photos aside, I really love this bag. The rippling came out just as I had hoped, including the little bit on the flap. This bag will go zipper less, but have a magnetic snap. It is the biggest purse I have made to date and I love it. This is a bag for the everyday gal that has a core group of items that must be carted around. It's simple and interesting, fun and purposeful, just like my friend. Friends, this is the Gretchen Bag.
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My intention is to make this available in my Etsy shop sometime next week. I need to wet it again to shape the side ripples or waves or undulations (looking for the right wording).
Did you think I was going to call it the Caldacooty Bag? Sounds kind of slinky and fresh, something Chelsea would say or carry. Maybe the next one.
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Sam came home today with a library book. I wonder how many school library books you can forget at home until they cut this little guy off? We now have three (and three cheers for me I know exactly where they all are, go figure).
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He brought home Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. A fantastic book with lovely illustrations. The story of a Father taking his daughter owling in the snow. The beautiful quietness of the book makes for a great bedtime story. I know this, because we own it. This is the second time Sam has brought home a book that we already have and/or read. But this time, he brought home the copy of Owl Moon because it had the Calacot Medal on it. Ours doesn't have the medal.
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And that makes perfect sense to me.
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And if you know Sam, I am sure it makes perfect sense to you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

1802

Wow.

1802

That is how many times a user has looked at this blog. (Could it be the same 20 people, sure, but I think there might be a couple more out there).

I feel validated.

Pictures tomorrow...I promise.

Thinking about a giveaway for the 2,000 viewer...

Monday, January 5, 2009

NoHoBo Bag


This is the first bag I have made for fun. Well maybe not the first, but this has no deadline, no restrictions, all fun. The yarn was intended to be used in December, but we all know that didn't happen.
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I had mentioned earlier that I was working on a bag that you never saw. I made a smaller single ripple version in white, which sold to a fine young lady before anyone ever saw it.
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When I began this one, I started too big and didn't realize it until I had used an entire ball of yarn, it happens. It is hard to eyeball a purse from the bottom up with no pattern or measurements to go by. Twenty three inches at the base is much too big for two balls of yarn. This monster is four balls now. This is a photo prior to felting, I have never taken a pic prior to felting, thinking of adding that to my list of product photos. One of my purses was in a treasury about recycling...I am totally grateful, but it reminded me that maybe I should be more clear on how I make my purses. Not all felted wool is recycled or re purposed or Eco-friendly or up cycled. I always use new (or unused) yarn and get the heebee jeebee's when I think about where the yarn was and who it was on.
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Tomorrow, or when my batteries recharge, I'll show you a pick of the finished bag. Then, I have to name it...
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HELP a big thank you to anyone that can tell me why my blogspot doesn't allow blank lines between paragraphs!!!! Periods are okay (the grammar kind), but this is ridiculous.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New New Year's Day Tradition

Totally pre-packaged.
Pre-sugared.
and Pre-tty fun.
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I have always wanted to make a Gingerbread House with the boys, but never wanted to bake the gingerbread myself or pay full price. We all know how things automatically drop in price after the 25th day of the 12th month!
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The frosting was very thick and hard to pipe. I did that part. Twice. I ignored the recommendation to trim the walls to make sure they have clean lines. A very important step that won't be missed next time. The boys enjoyed decorating and my main goal was to spend time doing something to avoid the bed jumping, lap running and Lego throwing.

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It worked.
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Of course, you can't make a gingerbread house without eating it.



Thursday, January 1, 2009

The First Banana

O wanted a banana.
I peeled it, handed it to him.
Politely, "no thank you"
and there it sat on our table, in the sun...CAMERA!!!!

I literally was yelling at the batteries to work. 'C'mon batteries, just a couple shots'.
Not because I am frugal and want to save battery power and get the very last bit of juice from a battery, but because my rechargeables were all the way down in the basement. And surely, with the Buffalo weather, I wouldn't have the time to run down, switch batteries and make it up while the sun still shone.

Thanks, batteries, I owe you one.

Happy New Year!