Friday, June 29, 2012


Got you thinking, didn't I?  It's going to be 96 today, 35.5 ºC, which is plenty hot for northern New Jersey.  So what's a girl to do at those temps?  Errands.  Yep, I have to do them.  And then hunker down in my nice air-conditioned house and veg out.

Don't need to bake bread because I did that yesterday.  I just might make frozen yogurt for dessert.  Supper?  We can go out. 

How about this for some instant coolness?  The fabric is called Magic Garden, and I got it a bit back on sale from  I don't know what I'll make from it, but Storm at Sea might be calling me. 

So how about a couple of air conditioning stories for you?  First one is a library story, and it happened over and over.

     Once upon a time, it was hot in my edgy little town in NJ.  Very hot.  The library had the AC going full blast.  (cold enough so that I had to take little walks outside to warm up).  The place was buzzing with activity,  programs in the Children's Room, folks hanging out in the general reading area, and even the Reference Room was crowded.  Why?  Silly question.  Air conditioning!  

     So, this nice, innocent Ref librarian would say good-bye to folks as they were leaving and she wished them much coolness and comfort at home.  And they would say:  "It's hot at my house.  I don't have any AC."  "oh, that's too bad." said the librarian.  "Well, I don't believe in air conditioning!  Never have, never will!   I come to the library to get cool."  

     Well, if the person doesn't believe in air conditioning, then why is she/he coming to the freezing library?  That, my friends, is the question.  To get cool, or not to get cool.  And if you don't believe in AC in a very hot summer day, do you not also believe in heat on a cold winter day?  Another question for the ages.

Here's a Mommie AC story.

    The Mommie also didn't believe in air conditioning, only in her case, it was pure cheapness.  I know this because she would ask me over and over how much our central air bill was.  She did have a window unit but wouldn't install it because then she'd use it, and have to pay a little bit more in her electric bill.

     One time, when the Hubz and I were returning from Cape Cod, we stopped in to visit her.  It was about 100 deg outside, and I swear it was the same inside.  She did have a fan moving, but even her wood furniture was very warm to the touch.  She was about 85 years old at the time, not a youngster.  So we ranted and raved about how hot it was, and it was dangerous for an elderly lady, and not healthy, yada, yada, yada.  

     "Oh, don't worry about me.  I'm drinking sips of water all day long, and I have the shades down."

     "Are you nuts? It's 150 deg in the shade in this house!   Your furniture is hot to the touch.  Let Mr. Hubz install your window unit in the den, and then you can hang out there."

     "No, don't do that.  It'll block the window view (which she had covered because her shades were down).  And then I'll have to close the door and I won't like that feeling."

     Arrgh.  More ranting and screaming on my part.  I'll tell L (my sister) on you.  

     Says my sister:  "Mommy, I won't come to visit in this heat.  If anything happens to you, you are on your own, and you'll have to get to the hospital all by yourself, and I'm not visiting you there, either."

     This conversation happened every year until she could no longer live alone (at 92).  Did she ever put that unit in?  Hah!  Did she ever get heat exhaustion?  Hah!  Did I ever win the air conditioning battle?  HAH!  You've got to be kidding.

   So, now she is moved into her independent living apartment, where there is indeed air conditioning.  And I visited her shortly after she moved in, and remarked how nice and comfy her apt was.

     "Yes, it really is.  I have air conditioning, you know."


Me, I like air conditioning in summer and heat in winter.  Call me a weather wimp, but so it goes. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Still dyeing after all these years.

It's almost 5 years that I started to dye yarn.  I began very timidly on a hot July day in 2007.  It took me 1.2 hours to dye just one skein.  That doesn't even include the prep time.  So then, when it had dried, I wound it up and knitted a pair of socks from it.  Maybe about 2 weeks later, I decided to try again.  Much faster this time, and that's the beginning of this story.  I loved it so much that I would dye and dye and dye.  I couldn't keep up with the knitting, so in Oct, I decided to try to sell on Etsy, and I've been doing that for almost 5 years.  Who would ever have thought it?  Not me.

Fast forward to now.  I'm now tired of the whole dyeing process.  I can't even begin to tell how many skeins I've dyed, each one individually, because that's how I like to do it.  But I can tell you that I swear there have been a gazillion skeins.  And now I'd rather sew.  Go figure.

Yesterday I decided that I was running out of sock yarn.  Oh, I can buy on Etsy or in my LYS, but now I have this bug in my head that my skinny yarns, sock and lace, have to be dyed by me.  So what's a girl to do when she needs some nice sock yarn?  She dyes.  And I did.  7 skeins:   2 merino/bamboo, and 5 Falkland Island merino.  Here they are.

 I'd think of selling them, but I really need some to knit with.  Besides, the Falkland merino is messy.  There's something amiss with the skeining up, and you can see what happens after dyeing.  It's all perfectly fine to knit with, but a mess to ball up.  I would not do that to a customer.  I'd hear her swearing across the country.

See what I mean.  And I didn't do this.  Every one of these skeins has been a pain in the bottom to wind up.  I originally bought the yarn for sale, but like all my yarns, I tried it out first.  Considerably more money than my regular Penny yarn, and I really can't tell the difference between them.  Penny yarn is just nicer to work with.  So that's the end of the Falkland merino.  I won't be ordering any more.

It's funny how all the yarns I dyed are not in my usual pastel mode; they're all somewhat gloomy.  Might be my mental state yesterday.  As the grands say:  "Whatever."  Today I'm just fine.  Yippee!

And here are 4 more stars to get added to the starry quilt.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Late to the party.

Warning:  a bit of self-therapy in this post.  No knitting, sewing, crocheting.  Just me and life.

Would someone please tell me why it took me so long to read The Divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood?  I'm reading and laughing and crying and am so loving it. 

Maybe I like it so much because of the mother/daughter relationship?  Maybe because I'm mourning my own mom, and this resonates so well with me?  I certainly didn't have the Ya-Ya kind of mom/daughter relationship with my mom.  We got along very very well, even when we were fighting and sniping.  Hey, I probably drove her bats, and she made me yell and scream.  So?  We loved each other, and we had mini-battles, and I never won any of them. I miss our little fights.  I miss her love.  I want her back. 

Oh, dear, this is getting maudlin.  Sorry, folks.  Sometimes my blog acts as a sort of diary.  Very therapeutic.  I don't like to cry.  Taught myself not to many many years ago in another life.  Well, it worked well then, now, not so much.  So I read a chapter or two, and then find myself crying for a few seconds.  Read a little more, laugh a lot.  Then cry, then laugh.  Ah, this mourning process is far harder than I ever imagined.  I thought I knew how much I would miss her.  Hah!  Didn't even touch the surface. 

I didn't cry all that much right after she died.  I was expecting it, and intellectualizing the process.   That's how I got through the first month.  Now, no analyzing, just emotion that pours out of me all day long. 

So, I just read about Genevieve's death and Jack's death, and I'm crying again and again.   Maybe I was meant to read this book right now.  I think so.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Starring along

 Here's the star quilt as of this morning.  Growing slowly but steadily.  Now what I need is a good name for her.

I was trying to figure out why I like EPP so much as opposed to plain hand sewing, and I figured it out.  The first needlecraft I learned was embroidery, and I always used a hoop or frame to keep the fabric taut.  So it's the floppiness of fabric pieces that drives me crazy if I hand sew, whereas English paper pieced fabrics are very firm.  Ah ha.

I have 5 completed stars to add sometime this week.  Hmm, now where to put them?

We were up in MA this weekend seeing the kids and grands and my MIL.  Didn't bring any knitting with me, which is shocking!  But I can do EPP in the car, so that's what I brought.

This week?  More stars.  And maybe even a bit of yarn dyeing, and lots of shawl knitting.  And the GYM!  I ate enough food this weekend for an army.  I'm trying to lose 5 lbs, not put it on.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Clean as a whistle.

I'm not sure how clean a whistle is, but I have the means to make me that immaculate:   I treat myself to handmade soap from seaspritesoaps.

She makes the nicest soap around.  Long lasting, lovely smells, and very very pretty.  Here's the one I started yesterday:  Sanibel Island.  Mmmmm. Yummy.  Too bad we don't have smell-a-vision.

My latest bag.  This one is the "Artist" size bag, and it's for my sister, who crochets and needs larger bags than I do.

My favorite part of these bags is that adorable ruffly look with the lining.  It just makes me smile.  

The starry quilt continues.  At some point I have to decide how to finish a side, but I'm not quite sure how.  I'm learning as I go.  If anyone has a  brilliant idea, please let me know.  I'm thinking of bordering it with the off-white Kona. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Starry info

For those who wanted to know:  I'm using a bunch of fabrics by Kaffe and Phillip, all in blues and greens and mostly very large prints.  I find that these large design fabrics yield lots of different diamonds, so it's almost like doubling my fabric.  For the white, I'm using some Kona off-white; don't remember what I bought.

It's very time consuming.  This is not for folks who want to finish a quilt in a weekend.  But it suits me very well.  I just leave all the templates, thread, tools, whatever on a tray, and can easily move it all around.  Plus I can do a bit of stitching whenever I have a minute or two to spare.    Today, I dumped it all into a larger project bag and took it to a knitting group I just joined.

The diamonds are 2" on each side, so they are not teeny weenie.  That crazy I'm not.  I want to finish this by the end of the summer.  I hope.  We'll see.  So far I'm so enchanted with it that I don't want to sew anything else.

The wrong side is ugly and messy.  I don't care.  Who is going to see it, anyhow?  I can't believe I'm saying this.  In my serious embroidery days, the backs of my projects were perfect.  Now, I'm older, and could care less.  Yay, me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stars in my eyes

And in my hands, and all over every horizontal surface in the living room. 

What I am not showing is all the prep work for the quilt:  fabric cutting, using the paper pieces, sewing the components together, pulling out the paper pieces to reuse.  There's a lot that goes on in English paper piecing.  It's much more work than sewing on the machine, but I really love doing it.  It has this gentle rhythm that is soothing and peaceful.  (and piece full, too)

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Yarnarian still knits.

Yay, me.  Last night I settled down to watch some Mentalist shows, and got out my shawl knitting.  I haven't knitted in maybe a week, and it was so good to get back to it.  This is the Elsie Shawl.  As usual, an unblocked shawl looks like a rag, but you can get a little idea of what it looks like.  A few more rows, and then onto the NEB (never-ending border, my trademark).

Quilting news:  Mostly what I did was cut out fabric and make a bunch of diamonds.  I did sew together one star.

I find it fascinating that you can put together the ugliest combination of fabrics, and when it's set into the quilt, it looks so pretty. 

But then I did this huge mistake.  Can you see what I did?

The blue diamond belongs in the center.  I showed Hiz Hubz to see if he could tell, and unfortunately he could.  Should I rip it out?  Yep.  but here's the kicker:  There are 5 teensy little whipped stitch seams to be gently ripped out.  Let me tell you that these things are very securely sewn.  I think I'll wait until the end of the project, and see if I actually need to do this.  

Today is gym day; I got very little done there yesterday, and I need a good tension release.  Plus, I have to find a Father's Day card for Himself.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Moving along

My starry quilt is growing.  Now I need a name.

Knitting?  Who's knitting?  I have 2 shawls almost at the Never-ending Border moment, and am I working on them?  Nope.  All I want to do is sew this quilt.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Seeing Stars

Moving right along with the starry quilt.  I found 2 more Kaffe/Phillip fabrics in my stash this morning, so I'll add them to the mixture, too.  It's pretty early on in the quilt, so these will fit right in.

Here's what I have so far. 

These 3 are ready to be added. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stars yet again

I'm zooming along on this baby, not that EPP is quick, but I'm not interested in quick.  The last thing I want to do is make a quilt over a weekend.  I like slow, peaceful, mindful stitching.  I like it in knitting, crochet, embroidery and now in quilting.

So here's a bit of progress.  From this

to this:

And more in progress. I have 18 fabrics plus the off white, so the permutations are endless.  Such fun!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Star Crazy

I really love doing these stars!  Who ever would have thought that EPP would so entrance me?

Here's one I finished yesterday.

Progress on the full quilt (OK, a teensy bit of the quilt.)

And here they are on the floor together.  I don't know if I'll put yesterday's block where I'm showing it.  Depends.

I still have 4 stars to make before I start mixing up the fabric combinations.  This is going to be one big baby.  Unless I get bored first.  But I don't think I will.  It's way too much fun.

Knitting:  I didn't work on anything fibery at all yesterday or so far today.  I'm going through a Missing Mommie time and somehow I can't concentrate on knitting at all.  It'll come back, not to worry.  I'm just totally out of it these days.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Elder care

Barbara M. in NH - If you want to chat, email me:  I'd be happy to help with any Mom issues.

One of the most important things I learned over the last 6 years when we had my mom in NJ is how essential it is to have a good caretaker for your loved one.  Mom was in an independent living facility, and I wanted to keep her there as long as possible.  She hated the idea of a nursing home, and I wanted this little place with its neat community to be her home.  As she aged, she needed more and more help with all the little details of life:  washing up and showers, walking with her, helping her in the dining room, etc, etc. 

Mom was the most independent person I've ever known.  Tough, strong woman!  She participated in all her routines as much as she could, and had opinions right up to the end.  What she needed was a one-on-one caretaker who respected her and helped her when she wanted or needed it.  One day when her aide speared a piece of food onto the fork and wanted to feed her, she retorted:  "I'm not a toddler.  I'm a grown woman.  I can feed myself!"  That, dear readers, is the essential Mommie!  And her aide totally accepted that, and let her be as independent as possible.

Mom's aide, the incredible Christine, became her friend, her buddy, her helper.  When Mom wanted an argument, Christine went along with it.  When Mom didn't want a shower occasionally, Christine concurred.  In short, every day, my mom got to interact with the most caring woman alive, and that enabled her to keep her mind and body going.

The other great thing about having an aide, is that her aide became her mother, while I was able to remain as her daughter.  Mom kept her dignity right to the end, and that was important to her. 

Dignity and self-respect are so important to elderly folks.  We tend to think that ancient old people have totally lost it,  and certainly there are many folks who have Alzheimers and serious dementia, but it is essential to treat everyone with kindness and respect.  Don't make your parent feel bad because she is incontinent or somewhat fuzzy.  As my almost-10 year old granddaughter says:  "Grandma, old people are still people; they're just older than we are." 

Tell your mom or dad how nice they look.  They will love you for it.  Ask for advice now and then, and they will rise to the occasion.  They're your folks:  they brought you into the world, and now you're returning the favor and helping them in their old years.  So treat them kindly and without anger.  

Off my soapbox.  As a reward, here's a mommie story:

Back in March, when she was in the hospital for a week, a physical therapist came to her room to help her walk.  The Mommie, being the Mommie, told him in no uncertain terms, that exercise was boring.  We all yelled at her to keep doing it anyhow, and we earned a good finger wagging!  She walked some more, grumbling all the way, and the therapist fell in love with her! And that was The Mommie!

Hey, Mom, I miss you.

Progress report

Look at this!  I've now started to join some of the starts together.  This is such fun!  I didn't like hand piecing the normal way, but I do like English paper piecing very much.  If you look over on the left, you'll see where I'm joining a diamond to a white diamond.  I just love EPP!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sewing Lady Sews.

So?  Sew!

2 new project bags.  I keep making them and the family keeps taking them.  The first one is a larger one, and the second one is a sock project bag.

Still having fun with my star quilt.  Here's the latest star:

Knitting keeps one going.  Not much change to show you, so no pics.


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