Making . . . Something Different

If you follow along here, you may have noticed that on Wednesdays I usually write something . . . about something I've made or am in the process of making. It's usually knitting, but sometimes sewing or maybe stitching-ish; sometimes painting or art-ish.

Today? I'm going to show you something different I've "made."


Today, I'm going to show you the poetry collection I've created in my home library.
(Because Poetry Month. . . )

So those top three shelves in the photo above . . . show my entire little poetry library. It's been growing gradually but steadily over the years. I've purchased most of the volumes of poetry myself, although several have been gifts I've been pleased to receive over the years. The first poetry volume I ever purchased is this (now dog-eared) Robert Frost collection. 


That was back in college. It was not the first book in my collection, though. That would be this copy (photo below) of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. I loved Kahlil Gibran back in high school! So much that I checked this very copy out of my high school library - over and over again . . . 


and never checked it back in! That wasn't intentional. In all the hub-bub of graduation, I forgot I had it. The school never asked about it. And then I was gone. Now, The Prophet is the most guilt-filled volume of poetry in my collection! (My apologies to libraries everywhere.) I removed the cover and the glued-in pocket inside the front cover, but the evidence remains.


. . . and moving on . . . 

My personal poetry library is filled with all types of poetry volumes by a variety of poets. My favorites (Mary Oliver or Billy Collins, for example) fill a lot of space on my shelves. But my collection houses all kinds of new favorite poets, too.


During April each year, I try to purchase a few new volumes of poetry for my collection. I like to support books stores, poets, and poetry in general, and I think National Poetry Month is a perfect month to do that.

If you're interested in starting your own poetry collection, I suggest you start with a poet you already know you like . . . and build from there. If you don't have a specific poet you like, then maybe begin with an anthology instead. I think about it kind of like building a music collection . . . 

New works by a single poet . . . are kind of like record albums featuring new music by a musical group or individual. It's usually all "new stuff," created and designed to work together -- maybe to tell a story or support a specific theme. Mary Oliver's Blue Horses or Billy Collins' The Rain in Portugal are examples of volumes of new works.

A collection of poetry by a single poet . . . is like a "greatest hits" album from musical artists. These poetry collections usually contain favorite, more well-known poems by a single poet, and provide a great resource for a deep dive into a specific poet's work. Mary Oliver's Devotions is an example, as is Billy Collins' Aimless Love. Usually the word "collection" appears in the title or subtitle. (Sometimes, usually after a poet has passed away, you can find "complete collections" which include the entirety of their life's work.)

A poetry anthology . . . is like a Spotify playlist. Anthologies contain a variety of work from a variety of poets, usually curated by an editor around a specific theme or time frame. Anthologies are great places to begin a poetry collection, and a perfect place to discover poets you enjoy (and want to read more deeply). 


So. There you have it! A little poetry collection I've "made" for myself! 


How about you? Do you have a poetry collection of your own?

(And in case you care not a whit about poetry, I'll be back next week with the shawl I showed you last week. Because it finished, and blocking as I write.)


When I was a little girl, my mom took a ceramics class.  I was thrilled when she made this for me:


A snowman mug . . . with a candy cane handle.

Oh, man.  I remember that milk tasted so much BETTER out of this mug!  (And hot chocolate with marshmallows?  Oh, yeah.  The BEST.)

Of course, my mom made one for my sister, too.  And, being a wise, thinking-ahead kind of mother, she painted our initials in the candy cane handle, so we could make sure which mug belonged to which sister.


This year, I dug my mug out of the back of my cupboard.  I stuck a bunch of candy canes in it -- and I put it on my desk.  Right there - where I can see it every day.  It reminds me of the excitement and magic I felt as a child at Christmastime.

We're in the countdown week now; the Big Day is almost here.  I hope you all have a chance to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember the special-ness of the season.  Cheers!

A Little Matter of Semantics


This week, Carole has us talking about ten collections we've had in our lives.  This is an intriguing topic for me, because even though I had a few "collections" when I was a kid (rocks; record albums; movie-star pictures from Teen Beat), I've never really been a "collector."

This topic got me thinking about what it means to "collect" something.

Like . . . well . . . in my kitchen, over all of the cabinets, I have a bunch of chickens.


If you took a look around my kitchen, you might assume I "collect chickens."  But, really, I don't.  They're just a bunch of chickens that sort of . . . showed up . . . over the years.  When we moved into our house, I decided to group them together.  They're more "décor feature" than "collection."  The chickens . . . mean nothing to me (other than a little bit of whimsy in my kitchen).

If you looked a little further in my house, you might also assume I collect . . .


Tote bags.



And, yeah.  I have a lot of those things.  But I don't consider them "collections" either!  They're all just . . . things I like.  And use.


What makes a "collection" -- for me?

First, it needs to Mean Something.


1.  In my family, we bring home a magnet from wherever we happen to travel.  This has been going on for about 20 years, now, and trust me -- our refrigerator is RIDICULOUS covered with magnetic reminders of our travels.  Taken together, these magnets very much represent a "collection."


 2.  Similarly, I bring home a miniature souvenir from each of my trips with my sister.  I keep them together on a shelf in a little cabinet that Brian made in 8th grade shop class.  I love having this quick, visual reminder of some very special trips.  Definitely a "collection."


3.  I have a bracelet (a hybrid of Pandora and Troll Beads) made up of bead-charms that have some meaning to me.  The "R" from my Mom (for "remission"), the turtle (for our lake cottage), a ball of yarn (well, you know), a teacup, my birthstone, garden flowers, etc.  I love being able to wear a "collection" on my wrist.

Second, it needs to be intentional.


4.  While I never meant to collect those chickens in my kitchen, I definitely set out to collect blue transferware!  Ever since I was a very little girl, playing with a tiny Blue Willow china tea set, I have loved blue transferware.  Now, I have quite a nice collection of my own.  Totally intentional, I've lovingly built this "collection" over the years.


5.  Before I was a Knitter, I was a Stitcher.  I loved doing embroidery and sewing.  About the time Tom and I got married (back in 1981!) I had just started to notice decorative thimbles.  When I was picking out things for our gift registry, I signed us up for a little thimble box that could hang on the wall.  I felt a little guilty about it at the time, because I knew that it would be more for "me" than for "us."  But now, 33 years later, two of those little thimble boxes hang on the wall in my sewing room.  And the "spill-over" from my extra thimbles live in my curio cabinet.  Yes.  A "collection!"

Third, it doesn't have to be a tangible, hold-in-your hand object.


6.  As many of you know, I collect "words in the wild" -- words that I just stumble onto out there in the world; words that are meaningful to me in some way.  I'd certainly consider them a "collection!"

7.  Starting when I was young, I've "collected" names-of-places-that-are-fun-to-say.  Chattanooga.  Walla Walla, Washington.  Tallahassee.  Timbuktu.  Kalamazoo.  Uruguay.  Rancho Cucumongo.  Katmandu.  Mississippi.  Marrakesh.  Not tangible -- but still a "collection!"

Lastly, it might just be something sort of accidental; something visual that you're (strangely) drawn to.  One day, you just realize you're just (sort of) "collecting" it -- without even knowing that you are!


8.  I collect wine corks and save them in jars (and sometimes I pass them on to my Dad, who makes awesome cork boards!).  I especially like saving the corks with cool and unique designs or phrases.  Or words.  It started out by accident -- but it's become quite a "collection" over the years.


9.  I have a "thing" for buildings/houses.  I have paintings, drawings, tiny houses, birdhouses, etc.  tucked in --here and there -- all around my house.  I don't know how it happened, or why I'm drawn to them, but "collection" it is!



10.  Same with "grids."  For some reason, I'm drawn to them -- and you can find them all over the place in my house and garden!  An accidental and evolving "collection." 



How about YOU?  What do you collect?  And what makes it a "collection" . . . for you?


Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here!

Throwback Thursday: The Prophet of Weather

Many years ago, my Grandparents (now both passed on) were "downsizing" their long-time home in preparation for a move into an assisted living facility.  As is often the case with such transitions, they passed along their downsized possessions to various family members.

My Grandmother gave me her Godey Victorian Ladies china set - something I'd loved since I was a little girl.  (The teacups and saucers make me swoon.  Maybe I'll tell you about that another day.)  I also got some knick-knacks that will always remind me of the open display shelves in my Grandmother's kitchen.

I also picked through a box of oddments; things no one else was interested in having.  I chose this:


A strange little house; pretty ratty; something I don't recall ever seeing at my Grandparents' house before.  Just a piece of junk.  But, still.  I have a "thing" for houses and buildings . . . so I picked it up to add to my collection.  It ended up at our cottage -- fitting in quite well with the "rustic décor" Up North.

Turns out . . . it's a hygrometer (an instrument that measures the moisture in the air).

It predicts the weather.

And . . .it works!*

This label is still on the back:


It was sold as "The Swiss Weather Prophet" and was manufactured by the Keydel Company in Detroit.  A bit of Googling led to this ad . . . from the November 1921 issue of The Modern Woodman:

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Back in 1921, my Weather Prophet sold for $1.25!  (Now it fetches close to $30 on eBay.)

I'm betting, based on the dates, that the Weather Prophet I picked out of the junk box of my Grandparents' cast-offs probably actually belonged to one of my Great-Grandparents.  Maybe they thought it was a charming novelty, too!

I'm really happy that I rescued it!  With no TV or internet service up at our cottage, it's nice to have a little Weather Prophet of our own.

If the children come out of the doorway, we can look forward to a fair weather.

If both figures stay in their doorways, the weather will change.

But if the witch pops out of her door . . . watch out!  It's going to rain!

And, really . . . 


What more do you need?


* The thermometer seems to work, too.  It's just incredibly difficult to read.


The Treasure Chest: A Tale of True Confessions

First, join me in congratulating Cookie . . . who won my Travelogue Comment Contest.  The St. Petersburg Matryoshka dolls will soon be on their way, Cookie!



Next, I thought I would share a little True Confession.

My sister and I pack very lightly when we go on our trips together.  For our 10-day cruise, for example, we each packed just one carry-on sized suitcase.  This doesn't leave a whole lot of room for . . . shopping.  On our previous trips, we've done a little shopping; a few things here and there, mostly small and packable.  But for this trip?  We figured we might want to do some Shopping!  (I had been planning on finding yarn, of course.)

So.  We brought an empty suitcase with us!  To fill with goodies we might pick up along the way.  We called it our "Treasure Chest."

And. . . fill it, we did!

In my family (and this tradition has now spread to my sister's family as well), we always buy a fridge magnet from every place we visit.  (I'll have to do a blog post about our magnet collection someday.)  So. . . new additions to our magnet collection went into the Treasure Chest.


I also have a special little cabinet on the wall in my bedroom -- handmade by Brian in his 8th grade woodshop class . . .


and on the middle shelf, I keep minature reminders of my trips with my sister.


What ELSE did I pack in the Treasure Chest to bring home?

A dala horse and a tomte from Sweden (to join others I already own).


Books, also from Sweden.  (I usually bring home coffee-table books as a souvenir of my travels.  Such lovely reminders of visits -- and very packable!  My sister, though seeks out cookbooks to bring home.  This time, I followed suit!)


I brought a pair of fulled mittens from Finland. . .


and a wool shawl from Russia.


My sister and I fell hard for the Baltic Amber jewelry, and each of us bought multiple pieces to bring home.  Here are my rings (not usually worn together!).  They're such delightful reminders of our trip.


I went a little crazy in Estonia.  I had been admiring the style of the Scandinavian women we saw on the streets of Sweden and Finland.  Linen.  Layers.  Simple.  Lovely.  And when I saw things in the shops of Estonia, I had to have them!

I got a long, linen vest (handknit) and a convertible shawl-thing (wool; also handknit).


Lovely.  And the closest things to "yarn" I saw!


The kind of Estonian lace. . . that suits my style!  Not too fancy; lovely in its simplicity.


I also picked up some scarves . . . because I loved their colors and textures.  (The blue wool scarf is from Sweden; the linen scarves are from Estonia.)


I also found this charming linen tote bag in an Estonian shop.  The buildings will always remind me of the fairy-tale charm of Estonia!


And in Copenhagen, I bought a pair of Royal Copenhagen coffee mugs.


(Which happens to be sitting on a hand-woven Swedish table runner.)


Let's just say. . . the Treasure Chest was not empty on our way home!

Time for a Pin-tervention?

When I was cleaning out my sewing room last week, I found this:


It is my "old school" Inspiration Journal.  (Actually, it's about #5 in a series of Inspiration Journals; this is just the one in progress.)

Way before Pinterest was a gleam in someone's eye, I was creating "boards" of my own.  In "old school" fashion, I collected (with my trusty scissors) images or quotes that particularly appealed to me.   And then, every so often, I would tape all the images in a journal.  For future reference.  For visual stimulation.  For inspiration.


I have been doing this for years.  Informal scrapbooking.  Collecting images I like.  Inspiring myself -- with a little of everything.  I called these journals my "style books."

Quotes.  Colors.


Interior design.  Outfits.  Jewelry.  Bags.  (Always bags.)


Project ideas.


Birds and the like.

The biggest problem with this "old school" journaling process was time.  I used to spend an afternoon now and again clipping from my pile of catalogs and magazines.  And then, I had to find another big swath of time to adhere the images into my journal.

As you can see. . . clippings piled up.


And up.  Always, more inspiration than time to deal with it!


You can imagine my delight, then, when I discovered Pinterest.

Now, I can collect my favorite images and quotes and ideas digitally -- with the simple click of a "Pin It" button.

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I can create "boards" and edit and arrange to my heart's content.  It's so easy.  No mess.  No need for big swaths of time to clip and save and tape in.

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I love Pinterest.  I love it so much. . . that it's only a matter of time before I need a "Pin-tervention."

How about you?  Have you discovered Pinterest yet?

Friday Round Up: Update Edition

My camera has been "missing" for almost 2 weeks now.  Actually, it's not missing. . . because I know just where it is.  It's at my Mom and Dad's house.  Right where I left it.  So, I've been getting by on the blog lately with my old point-and-shoot.


It's really not a bad little camera.  (But I like my other one better. . .)  I'm looking forward to springing my camera sometime this weekend!


Purchase-of-the-Week #1

I really like blue transferware.  I have a nice collection -- a good mix of collectible and just-fun pieces.  My eye always (always) zooms in on any transferware (or faux-transferware) wherever I may be.  Earlier this week I was in my neighborhood Walgreens when I spotted these:


Little blue faux-transferware pots!  $1.29 each.  Get out!  I picked up all they had.  (The strawberries are from my plants -- the only two I've saved from a hungry pack of piggy chipmunks who have set up permanent living quarters on my patio.)


Purchase-of-the-Week #2

I needed a new journal, and found this one at Barnes & Noble.  Cute, non?


But. . . then I spied this one. . . which is PERFECT for Erin.  Cuter yet, non?




I'm so excited!  If you look closely at this photo, you can see what's happening to my tomatoes this week!


Blooms AND fruit! (I wish I had my better camera. . .)


Off -- and On -- the Needles

I finished this sweater. . .


Photos and details next week.  (But I will say that this one was lightening fast!)

And I cast on for this sweater. . .


I'm hoping this one is fast, too.  (Because apparently I'm in the mood for summer sweaters in Easter egg colors.)

And -- just an update on this sweater. . .


I have forwarded all of my pattern notes and explanations to the designer, who is most receptive to review them and make appropriate changes.  She is gracious and responsive.  I just wanted you to know.


Have a great weekend. . . and here's another bloom.  Because I can't help myself.


Collecting the Evidence

I like wine.  I sip a glass . . . or two. . . every night.

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I save the corks.  I like the look and feel of them.  They're substantial!

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They're clever!  Some are like little works of art.

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They're souvenirs!  Reminders of trips, events, celebrations, and bottles of wine you just really liked.

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Over time, my cork collection has grown.  It filled several large, glass containers.  It started to get a little ridiculous.

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What do you DO with all of those corks?  Inspired by my friend, Sandie, who covered the ceiling of her wet  bar/butler's pantry with corks (SO cool!), I decided to create a Wall of Corks.  Not only would it look cool, but it could be a functional "cork board", too!

As usual, I called on my Dad -- The Mastermind -- to help me translate my idea into reality.  He installed it yesterday!

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Each cork -- and there are over 300 -- is cut in half (so there are over 600 half-corks on the wall!).  Now, in fairness, not all of the corks were from me.  My Dad contributed some of his own.  But . . . well, most of them were mine.  Tom puts it this way:  my Wall of Cork represents over $3,000 in wine consumed!!!

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Thanks, Dad!  I love it!