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September 2011

August 2011

A Color Story


Once upon a time, there was a bright pink skein of yarn.


Or, at least, it LOOKED like a bright pink skein of yarn.  It looked so bright that a Certain Knitter thought that it was probably TOO bright and TOO pink for her (very particular) tastes.  So it languished in The Stash for several years.

In that same Stash, there lived a prized skein of yarn from the Kingdom of Sundara


It was a skein that just looked like a party waiting to happen -- black. . . with pink/purple confetti.  The Certain Knitter was waiting. . . waiting . . . waiting for the perfect opportunity to release the power of the prized skein from The Stash.

And then, in the summer of 2011. . . there came to pass the Through the Loops Summer Shawl KALCladonia was calling.  Loudly.  And the Certain Knitter heeded the call.

What if. . .

What if. . .

What if. . . the Certain Knitter married the brightness that was the Too-Pink Skein. . . with the beauty that was the Confetti-Black Skein. . . in stripes!  Cladonia stripes!  The Confetti-Black would surely tame the brightness of the Too-Pink skein.

And. . .

What if. . .

They were joined in fun by


Mr. Neon Green.  Leftovers still lurking in The Stash.  Already appearing in Tempest And minions.  Wouldn't he make a fine addition to the party?

Absolutely.  Send the invitation.


Let the wild rumpus begin!


Something happened along the way.

The Confetti-Black. . . was a lot more . . . black. . . than expected.

And, when paired with black in a two-stripe pattern, the Too-Bright Pink. . . appeared. . . not-so-bright.  In fact. . . it appeared. . . sort of purple!


The Certain Knitter was slightly flummoxed.  She was planning on a Wild Rumpus.  She was planning on a Party.  This was Not Quite What She Expected.

Never fear, though.  Mr. Neon Green would pull her through!  He would Save the Day and become The Life of the Party.


But no.

That was not the case.

Mr. Neon Green did not Save the Day. Mr. Neon Green gave the Entire Project a witch-y look. . . somewhat reminiscent of the Certain Knitter's favorite musical.  And, while the Certain Knitter does not actually mind a Wicked-themed shawl, it was not the Look She Was Going For.

Serendipitously, a Certain Knitter sat on her needles and pulled out several rows.  Luckily, she discovered a more grievous error in her lace knitting.  Fortunately, a Certain Knitter had to re-think the project.  Just-in-the-nick-of-time, a Certain Knitter faced the facts.

This Color Story did NOT have a happy ending.

So she ripped.  And she pondered.  And she placed every darn stitch back on the needles.

And resigned herself to a slightly more-boring color scheme than she had imagined.  She knit the 16-row lace pattern in one of the main colors (the Not-Too-Bright-But-More-Like-Raspberry-Pink).  She settled on a two-color Cladonia.


But, then. . .

But, then. . .

But, then. . . she listened to the little nagging voice that kept whispering. . . Mr. Neon Green was invited to this party.  Mr. Neon Green Has Potential.  Mr. Neon Green Demands To Be Heard.

And the Certain Knitter decided to Go For It.

She decided to let Mr. Neon Green be In Charge of the Border.  She let him drip from the edge of the shawl.


And THAT. . .


made ALL the difference!


The End.

(Ravelry details here.)


Be Prepared


Today, we need a little background music.  Sing it, Etta!


This week, Carole has us thinking . . . stormy weather. . . and how to prepare for it.  Here in Michigan, we were untouched by Hurricane Irene over the weekend.  In fact, we have been in what might be the most lovely stretch of weather in just ages.  But.  We do get some nasty storms.  Thunderstorms in the summer; snowstorms in the winter.  With a little ice. . . a few tornadoes. . .and lake effect snows thrown in to keep things interesting.


It's best to be prepared!  So, when we hear about a Big Storm headed our way, here's what we do. . . with Ten Ways to Prepare for a Big Storm:

  1. Locate flashlights; test batteries; stash them in several easy-to-find places throughout the house.
  2. Gather candles and lighter/matches and have them ready, just in case.
  3. Do a quick yard check -- put down the patio umbrella; remove furniture cushions; cover any vulnerable plants.
  4. Top off the gas tanks in the cars.
  5. Check the snowblower:  Does it have gas?  Will it start?
  6. Make a quick stop at the store for staples:  milk; coffee; drinking water; dog food; beer; wine.
  7. Charge up cell phones, laptops, and iPods.
  8. Make sure there is no wet laundry in the washer.  (This happened to me once.  We lost power for a week.  I forgot about the laundry.  It wasn't pretty!)
  9. Gather everyone at home.  (Or, at least, know where they are!)
  10. And then . . . go on with your life. . . because the warnings are usually much more dire than the storms themselves!

How do YOU prepare for a Big Storm?



Dog Days

It's that time of summer. . .


Days are hot.  Nights are cool.  Kids are gone. 


Dog Days.


Enjoy 'em while you can.


Because. . . they won't last forever!


So fish. . .

and swim. . .


and dive right in!


Before summer's gone for good!


Speaking of diving right in. . . Have you seen the new GIANT marshmallows?


Perfect for toasting.


And s'mores.


Just ask my mom!




Hey!  Check out my kid!  He's an Orientation Assistant at Hope College this semester, which means -- he helped the new freshman class move in to their dorms (among other things).  He made the front page of the Holland Sentinel for his efforts!  Go, Bri!

Unfinished Business

Like. . . we're talking WAY unfinished.

Here it is, the end of August; the end of PINK in Project Spectrum. . . and what've I got to show for it?

Zip.  Nada.  Nil.  Zilch.  Nothin'.

But a pile of unfinished business!


Erin took one look at this shawl over the weekend and said, "Ummmmm.  Mom.  Wicked?"  That does it.  The green is going.  (Besides, it had to be ripped anyway.  I read the wrong side rows of the lace chart backward.  Duh.)


This is a possibly-adorable summer dress in tie-dye, heavy on the pink-ish (but hard to tell in my sewing room light), started on an early August afternoon and . . . still just sitting there.


And this was yet another rather ambitious August project.  (It's to be a garden bucket cover -- bottom right on the pattern.)  That's it's current status.  Pile. of. Fabric.

So, August is flying by -- without much PINK to show for it. 

What's a gal to do?  Why, take off for points Up North.  Leaving that unfinished business behind!  (Although I will take the Wicked shawl and try to . . . do something with it.)

Happy weekend!


True Confessions

Soundtrack. . .


Oh, come on now.  Everyone has at least one!

It's time to confess. . . my dirty little secret. . .


I follow fashion.

There.  I've said it out loud.

It's not like I practice fashion.  Not at all.  I don't own any designer labels of anything (well, except a few carefully-selected pieces from Eileen Fisher).  No Christian Louboutin shoes.  No Prada bags.  No little Michael Kors dresses.  But that doesn't mean I'm not interested!!!  (And you can be sure I'll be checking out the new Missoni line at Target next month!  I'm all about affordable fashion.)

Anyway.  I do like checking out the fashion mags -- especially the September issues (when they cover all the new fall styles).  And I read a few fashion blogs -- preferring the ones that don't take themselves too seriously.  And I can't seem to turn away from Project Runway.


I'm not exactly why I caught the fashionista bug, but I did.  And I caught it early.  Like, as a pre-adolescent.  I learned to sew . . . and sew well. . . at a young age -- just so I could copy the styles I saw in Seventeen magazine.

I've always considered my fashion-thing . . . a dirty little secret.  Because, well, fashion just seems so superficial.  And I'm not a superficial person.  But I am a person who likes . . . clothes, bags, shoes, patterns, textures, color, form, line, and design.  I also think clothes DO make a statement about who we are, what we care about, how we feel -- and how we WANT to feel.

This summer, I'm reading a book called The Thoughtful Dresser: the Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter by Linda Grant.  Superficial as it may sound, it's an interesting book.  (Linda Grant's blog -- The Thoughtful Dresser -- sports this tagline:  "Because you can't have depths without surfaces.")  The author explores the "dark side" and the "light side" of fashion, clothing, and dressing -- making the point that an attraction to fashion and beautiful clothing is not rational, but based on pleasure (sort of like. . . choosing to eat a chocolate eclair rather than, say, a container of Greek yogurt).

Here's a little quote from the book -- and actually, the passage that made me decide to confess all in a blog post!

“The purpose of this book is to advance no thesis, to break no ground in the history or theory of fashion, but rather to explore what is already known but rarely thought about by the ordinary mass of humanity who is interested in fashion and might, quite wrongly, feel a little ashamed of this passion.  Might fear that they are not going to be taken seriously.  That in announcing this preoccupation they will have confessed that women are not really fully grown up; unlike our male counterparts, who have mature and adult preoccupations without which the human race could not survive, such as moving balls from one end of a grassy field to the other with the aid of the human foot.”

So, yeah.  I follow fashion.

(Jenny does NOT follow fashion . . . but she does follow yougurt!)

But. . . I don't LOOK like I follow fashion!


It's just my Dirty Little Secret!

There's No Place Like Home

. . . for a short visit, anyway!

For the last few days, I've had the privilege of having both kids home at the same time!


Erin moved to Pittsburgh after her college graduation last spring.  We were happy she was able to sneak in a quick trip home before classes start up next week.  It's been an action-packed few days. 

I dragged her to the Michigan Fiber Festival with me and my Mom last weekend.  She liked the root beer best. . .


and the animals!


(She also managed to pick out yarn for two shawls.  No Lace, though, remains a battle cry!)

She washed her car -- such a luxury to have a hose, you know!  (Apartment living.)


And spent a lot of time reconnecting with family. . .


watching Brian's antics. . .


and regaling us with stories of her new life in urban Pittsburgh (many featuring the "wildlife" she encounters around her -- centipedes, slugs, skunks, bunnies, and bees). . .


We did a lot of shopping.  A lot.  And she ducked in for a quick visit to the hair salon for highlights and a cut. . .


She took care of one more detail, as well. 

Last spring, when Erin was applying for grad school, she made a very risky decision.  She only had Plan A:  Carnegie-Mellon.  That's where she wanted to go; that's where they had the "right" program for her.  Now, those of you with college-age students already know this --- but the economy has sucked the opportunities for this particular age group right out into a black hole.  There are no jobs for them when they finish college; grad school (along with law school and medical school) applications are through the roof, so it's more competitive than ever to go on for graduate studies.  In short, it's very, very tough out there for early-20s with college degrees.

So.  Erin applied for grad school at Carnegie-Mellon with no "safety" plan and no other real plans at all -- and knowing that Carnegie-Mellon only accepts about 15 students each year for this particular program.

She was wait-listed.

She tried not to panic.

No Plan B, you know.

She made a little pact with herself.  She'd get her ears pierced two more times IF she got into grad school; she'd NOT get her ears pierced any more times if she didn't -- because she'd have to look for a job and would be more concerned about "respectibility."

When I was in Paris last April, I got a middle-of-the-night call from Erin.  She had gotten in!  With a small fellowship even!  Plan A worked!

So, yesterday. . .


Respectibility, be damned!  (The two angry-looking piercings in the middle are the new ones.)

Erin leaves to return to Pittsburgh - and Plan A -- this morning.  Classes begin Monday.  Go get'em, Erin!


Calgon! Take Me Away!


Habits die hard!  Carole is on vacation this week. . . and there is no official Ten on Tuesday topic.  I seem to be stuck in the format, though, so I've decided to go solo this week.

Remember this commercial?


This week. . . could be me!  Here are Ten Reasons I'm Ready to "Lose Myself in Luxury":

  1. Erin is home for a couple of days before she begins her graduate studies at Carnegie-Mellon.  We're having a grand time -- but there are lots of things to do (like. . . Shop for Stuff and Eat Out.  Things poor grad students can't do on their own).
  2. Brian is leaving for Hope today.  He has different standards for packing and clearing out than I do, not to mention. . . priorities.  Enough said.
  3. There are about 8 pairs of shoes (none of them my own) currently clogging the mudroom doorway.  (Size 13s take up a lot of space.  Just sayin'.)
  4. I have been doing laundry - almost constantly - for 3 days.
  5. A college friend of Brian's has been staying with us.  While he is a delightful guest . . . my family room looks like a frat party exploded.  Can there really be only two of them?
  6. We are in a high state of Search Mode.  As in, "Mom have you seen my _____________?"  (Fill in the blank. . . cell phone, dorm bedding, sunglasses, Pull t-shirt, etc.)
  7. I have made at least 8 trips to Target and Bed, Bath, & Beyond over the past week.
  8. There is never a clean glass in my cupboard.  Not one.
  9. Tom had to hide his Gatorade in our bedroom.  (Most parents have to hide liquor.  We resort to hoarding Gatorade.)
  10. I am knitting lace.


Yes.  Lace.  Now. 

I'm currently at the half-way point of the Cladonia shawl lace section.  I was feeling pretty smug about it, too.  Half-way.  No disasters.  No rip-backs.  (Except for the feeling that the colors may end up a little more . . . Witch-at-Halloween than I had intended.  I was hoping for a light, fun, "party" kind of color combination; but the black is . . . well, blacker than I had expected; and the pink is more purple-y than I had realized; and the green? It is as neon-y as I expected.  We'll see how it all comes out.) 

But then, last night, I sat on my knitting and pulled the needle out of about 25 stitches.  Not too bad.  Except . . . some of it unraveled into rows below.  That took a while to sort out.

And then, this morning, while assessing last night's damage in the light of day, I realized I have been knitting the even (wrong side rows) . . . backward!  I forgot to read the chart from left to right for the wrong side.  I wondered why my lace seemed to have a different texture than expected.

So.  I'm just pondering right now.

Calgon!  Take me away!



Now Everything is Easy



Once upon a time, there were two college students. . .


who met, and fell in love. . .


and decided, what the heck, let's get married. . .


Today. . . it's 30 years later!


That's 30 years. . . over three states, six moves, five degrees, three houses, two kids, five pets (not including gerbils and goldfish), nine cars (not including the kids' cars -- that would be a Ford Fiesta, two Mazda sedans, two minivans, the Exploder Explorer, and three Subarus), three downsizings, one major building project, one bout with cancer, two marathons (and No More!) . . . and more happy memories than I can count.

Happy Anniversary, Tom.

Come to me now . . . and rest your head for just five minutes . . . everything is good!

Everything is easy. . . 'cause of you!

Pink in the Garden


Although my own garden is beginning to look, well. . . kind of bad; definitely bedraggled . . . I'm still finding shades of pink (amid the weeds and dying stems).

My Watercolor shrub rose is having a great year (following a couple of years of decline; I almost took this guy out last year -- glad I didn't!).


And parts of my succulent wreath are having a bloomin' party!  (Other parts are . . . not.)


And this?  Why, this is poke weed.  A weed.  Something I did not plant.  But it has such interesting blooms. . . that sometimes I just let it go.


(This particular poke weed is growing strong - with a couple of friends - in a bed I am planning to renovate yet this season.  It would be bleak without the poke weed!)

I've also had the great fortune of visiting several gardens (public and otherwise) this month.  I've seen so many lovely things!  Here are some PINK highlights.

From the Michigan State University Children's Garden:




From my brother-in-law's vegetable garden (the most lovely vegetable garden I've ever seen):




From the Gardens at Spring Creek in Fort Collins, Colorado:



And from the Cheyenne Botanic Garden in Cheyenne, Wyoming:



Have a lovely weekend.  Keep your eyes open for PINK!

Symbol of Strength. . . or Super V Power!

When Brian was in Kindergarten, he played soccer.


These games were fun to watch -- because the little guys, for the most part, just ran around the field in a pack.  They sort of followed the ball around, and occasionally they made (what Tom and I called) "intentional ball contact."


Brian wanted to make a goal.  Badly.  So, one day before a game, I convinced him that the "V" design sewed into his little soccer shoes were "SUPER V"s and they game him Super Powers.  All he had to do was activate the power of the Super V, and he would kick with extra power!

It worked.  He scored a goal.  It was all the Super Vs, you know.

He didn't play soccer for long, but the Super V power followed him . . . into baseball. . .

2003 georgetown ll 2

and hockey. . .

Peewee hockey 6

even high school lacrosse!

2008 lax 6

Of course, once he outgrew those little soccer shoes with their built-in Super V design, we had to add our own Super Vs.  Brian's sports equipment was always covered with marker-drawn Vs -- which were "freshened up" before any tryout or Really Big Game.

Here are his hockey gloves from high school. 


When you turn them over, you find this. . .


Super V Power!!!

It generally worked.

20082009 hockey season

Last year, when I went to watch Brian in The Pull at Hope College, this brought tears. . .


The Pullers adorn their bodies with symbols of strength -- and Brian had chosen to include Super Vs.

Yesterday, Brian made the Super V a permanent part of himself. . . with a Super V tattoo.


He was very thoughtful about it.  It took him about 18 months to decide whether to get the tattoo -- and where.  When he finally decided, he took me with him.

He explains the V as "a symbol of strength between my mom and me."


SUPER V POWER!!!!  Now . . . Forever!