Stitches

Right Now . . . April 2014

[Edited before posting:  Because of Typepad's continuing frustrating . . . issue. . . I have spent far too long this morning trying to get a great photo of my Alabama Chanin project.  It will not load.  I give up.  Maybe tomorrow.]

April . . . just flew by!  

Although the weather is not reliable quite yet, it is definitely more spring-like.  And I'll take that.  (Even though the early part of spring is always one of the most unattractive times of the year.)

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(But at least the snow is finally gone.)

What's happening in my world . . . RIGHT NOW?

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Watching . . . A storm rolling in.  Leaves popping out.  Robins making a nest in my pergola.  (It'll be a few weeks before I'll dare get my swing out!)

Reading . . . Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez . . . a re-read of one of my favorites, in memory of one of my favorite authors.  I'm also reading Bach: Music in Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner.  (This one will take awhile.  I like having a big ol' biography by my bed to read before I sleep.  Sometimes it takes months to finish, but that's fine with me.)

Knitting . . . Not much, actually.  Not much at all, in fact!  Instead, I've become totally immersed in hand stitching -- and obsessed with my Alabama Chanin project.  (Addicting, I tell you.  Totally addicting.)  I do have one knintting project on the needles:  Another folded poncho!  This one for summer, in Hempathy.  (My goal is to bring this to Italy when I leave at the end of August.  Any bets?)

 

Listening to . . . Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.  (Inspired by my reading, of course.  Plus one of my favorite pieces of classical music.)

Dreading . . . Yet another dinner of baked spaghetti!  It's very good and all, but one pan lasts for days (and days!) when Tom is not around to share.

Planning . . . Where to plant 2 new trees I just bought!  A Satomi Chinese Dogwood and a Hearts of Gold Red Bud.

Humming . . . ALL of the songs from Grease.  I blame an old friend who posted something on Facebook yesterday that seems to have triggered the onslaught.  (I'll spare you.)

Wondering . . . Where all these ants coming from?  Right here!  In my kitchen!

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Drinking . . . A lot of water!  (Trying to up my daily intake.)

Itching to . . . Plant my herb garden.  But it's still too early.

Needing to . . . Finish cleaning up my garden beds.

Organizing . . . Inspired by my newly-organized closet, I'm ready to tackle my jewelry box next.  

Delighted by . . . The whole Alabama Chanin thing.  I'm completely charmed.  (Can you tell?)

[REALLY GREAT PHOTO SUPPOSED TO GO HERE!!!]

Inspired by . . . My closet re-fresh.  Enough so, that I'm ready to tackle every corner of my life in an effort to further pare down and minimize.

Celebrating . . . So. Many. Things.  Tom's imminent return (from weeks in Mumbai).  Brian's graduation.  My dad's birthday.  And a special visit -- from someone all of you know!!!

Pleased with . . . Myself!  For sticking with my running -- something I NEVER dreamed I would do.  (I'm now up to a regular 4+ mile course -- hills and all!)

How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . Right Now?


Stitch Up a Garden

As a gardener, this time of year is really hard.

My break from gardening chores has me rested -- and ready to get back in the dirt.

Except this.

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I might be ready to garden . . . but it's going to be a while, yet, before the garden is ready for me.

So I look at my garden photos.  And read through my garden journal.  I make plans and notes for next spring.  I pour over garden magazines and seed catalogs.  I sign up for garden conferences.  I try to just enjoy the snow and the cold and live out the dormant season.

But it's tough.

So I was thrilled when I opened my Christmas gift from my sister and brother-in-law this year.  

Because the two of them created a garden for me to enjoy all the time -- no matter the weather.

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My sister stitched this lovely design -- in purple and green and yellow.

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A beautiful, hand-stitched garden of blooms!

And my brother-in-law (a gardener himself) created the garden-inspired frame.

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A winding trail of leaves.

This lovely, hand-stitched and hand-crafted garden will keep my spirits up all winter long.

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(My hand-stitched garden looks so perfect next to my new purple leather chair.  My sister didn't even know about the chair. . . but it's absolutely perfect!)

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Words on a Tree Skirt

Many, many years ago (in 1983, to be exact), I spent many an evening stitching a tree skirt.

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Tom was in graduate school then, working hard in the lab.  All the time.  And though I worked during the day, my evenings were free for things like . . . reading and stitching.

I remember buying the kit for this tree skirt with my mom on one of our shopping trips to Denver (Tom and I lived in Fort Collins, Colorado at the time).  I didn't really like it.  But it was on clearance -- and cheap.

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At the time, I figured I'd use the tree skirt for a few years, and then replace it with one I liked better.

Yet.  Here it is.  30 years (and 30 trees) later.

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I wouldn't have it any other way!


Waiting for this Moment to Arise

A little background music. . .

 

In the end. . .Black Cardi

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stands victorious over Tote Bag.

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It was a squeaker!  The final score was 27-25.  Although Black Cardi was on the board first and held the early lead, Tote Bag just kept charging!  Black Cardi, however, scored at the final buzzer to take it all in this season's March Madness!

If you'd like more details on the Black Cardi (named for my favorite Beatles song), you can click here for all the yarny-knitty details on Ravelry.

As for the Tote Bag, it is the Frenchy Bag pattern from Amy Butler.  As usual, the Amy Butler pattern is fabulously detailed and well-written.  This bag is pretty straightforward and, with the exception of one or two tricky-bits, would be very do-able for an advanced-beginner sewer.  I made the bag as a birthday gift for my friend, Sandie, and I'm pleased to say she loves it!  (There is a little glitch in one of the lining seams -- a tiny little pucker I chose to ignore.  It haunts me still.  I can see Miss Helzer, eye-brow raised in That Way, wordlessly handing me a seam ripper.)

CONGRATULATIONS to Sheri, who was the big winner in my random drawing of all March Madness voters.  I'll be sending Sheri an exciting March Madness prize package.  (Just for the record, Sheri popped over to vote after reading Mary's blog.  Thanks, Mary!  And . . . she voted for the Tote Bag!)

CONGRATULATIONS, also, to three March Madness "runners-up" (because you can't have a March Madness contest without having a "Final Four" line-up!):  Carole, Elaine, and Sara.  A little prize will also be on the way to each of you.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU for playing along with my March Madness fun!

 


The Big Dance

So.  Tonight it is.  Kentucky vs. Kansas?  Nah. . .

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The REAL Big Dance is right here!  The showdown between. . .

Black Cardigan, the early March Madness favorite, expected to go all the way.

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and. . .

Tote Bag, this year's Cinderella story and rising upstart!

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Who will walk away as this year's champion?  Well, that's for YOU to decide!

Cast your vote in the comments before Wednesday, April 4 at 9:00 pm EST.  My March Madness Champion Project will be announced in this Friday's blog post.  When you vote, your name will be entered into a random drawing for an exciting prize package!  (And, if someone sends you here to vote, be sure you mention their name, as they'll also be entered into the drawing!)

So.  Who's it going to be?  Black Cardigan . . . or Tote Bag?

The excitement builds!

 

 


Kym's Final Four

March Madness continues here at The Edge.  But I'm not talking basketball. . .

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It's been a wild month. . . and as we near the end, I've got my Final Four! 

"Finish Black Cardigan" beat out "Garden Plans" in a blowout.

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(More details about this baby in a later post.  For now, let's just try not to notice that my house was pelted by an egg.  I have no idea why.  I don't even have kids at home anymore.  I thought those days were gone with the finish of high school.  Who knew?)

"Finish Black Cardigan" was heavily favored at the opening of this year's tourney, being well under way already at the beginning of the month.  The unexpectedly warm weather totally freaked out "Garden Plans," making them skittish under pressure.

In the next bracket, "Photo Class" barely squeaked out a win over "Messenger Bag for Erin." 

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Admittedly, this is the weakest of the brackets.   "Messenger Bag" didn't get much thought or consideration at all.  As for "Photo Class" -- at least the sign-up is complete.  (The homework?  Not so much.)

Next up. . . it appears that "Tote Bag for Sandie" might actually be the Cinderalla story this season!

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Yes,"Tote Bag" completely overwhelmed "Begin Shawl" in a stunning overtime showdown.  This was a surprise, as "Begin Shawl" seemed to be a big favorite in this year's tournament -- and really, who had ever heard of "Tote Bag" before this win?

Finally, "Colorwork Bag" beat out "Mosaic Flower Pots" at the buzzer.

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It's really not clear, though, whether "Colorwork Bag" will be able to maintain the momentum needed to take it all the way!  It looks like strong early efforts . . . might result in running-out-of-yarn to complete the project on time.

Stay tuned!


Miss Helzer

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"All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle."  ---Ellen Birdseye Wheaton, 1851

Today I continue my month-long reflection of the legacy of women who've played a role in my life.

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In seventh grade, I was excited to have home ec class in my schedule.  I already knew how to run a sewing machine (a little), but I was eager to learn how to put together pieces to make a garment.  And I couldn't wait to learn to put in a zipper!

I remember being a bit totally intimidated by Miss Helzer when I first stepped into her classroom.  She was tall and imposing.  Somewhere in her 40s.  Impeccably dressed and made up.  Always.  She sewed her own exquisitely tailored suits.  Everything matched.  She was VERY put together. 

You always knew where you stood with Miss Helzer.  She had a certain . . . look.  With one eyebrow raised and one eye kind of squinted . . . that just said, "You CAN'T be serious."  She could stop you dead with A Glare.  She didn't put up with any shenanigans.  You did things her way. . . or you were on your own.  And. . . she hated things that looked "home spun."

There was a huge sign on her bulletin board; kind of a sampler of sorts.  In big letters, it said:

So shall you sew. . .
So shall you rip!

Miss Helzer?  She was a Pain in the Ass teacher.  A stickler.  She was totally By the Book when it came to following the Rules of Sewing.  As a 13-year-old, this was not welcome.  I just wanted finished products.  What did it matter . . . if the grain was straight; or what my "back waist length" measurement was; or - for God's sake -- whether my pattern pieces were pressed before laying them out on my fabric???  Was it really THAT important if your plaids matched up?  If your tension was properly adjusted on your sewing maching?  If you understitched your facings?

And what WAS that sampler about?  So shall you sew. . . so shall your rip?  What did that even MEAN?

In her class, of course, I towed the line.  I graded my seams.  I placed my pins perpendicular to the cutting edge.  I pressed my seams open using a tailor's ham.  I followed proper protocol when wielding my seam ripper! Begrudginly, I learned the "right" way to sew.   Despite my irritation with Miss Helzer's "pickiness," I wanted to please her; I wanted her to like me; I wanted to avoid her looks of disdain.

But in private, when I sewed for myself at home, I was sloppy.  And lazy.  I took shortcuts.  (And it showed!)

Over the years (and long out of home ec), I started to care much more about my finished products.  I really wanted to avoid that . . . homespun. . . look.  I found myself adopting more and more of Miss Helzer's lessons; her techniques; her "proper" methods of doing things.

And you know what?  My projects started to look a whole lot better!

So, thanks, Miss Helzer!  Every time I put in a proper zipper, I think of you.  Whenever I take the time to prewash my fabric and straighten the grain, I think of you.  Whenever I understitch. . . or hem a pair of pants. . . or put in a buttonhole, I think of you. 

And, by golly, whenever I rip (which is often), I think of you!  So shall you sew, so shall you rip!


Year End Review: The Not Knitting

Last week, I posted about my knitting in 2011.  I mentioned that I wasn't as prolific as I have been in past years.  Maybe.  Just maybe. . . that's because I spent a good deal of my time Not Knitting. 

I got my sewing machine out again.  I did a major crochet project.  I started journaling.  I even started . . . some other (Not Blogged) art projects.

I liked Not Knitting.  Not enough to give up knitting (never), but I enjoyed the diversion.  My five favorite Not Knitting projects during 2011:

1.  My Project Spectrum "True Colors" crocheted blanket. . .

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2.  The lunch bag I sewed for Erin. . .

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3.  The apron I sewed (also for Erin) -- it's reversible!

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4.  The owl potholders I made (again. . . for Erin). . .

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5.  Roll-up shopping bags I made as a Christmas gift (for Erin!). . .

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I never did blog about these bags.  Because life got a little hectic there around the holidays, and I finished these up while my mom was in the hospital.  They're pretty cool, though.

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Simple, quick, neat.  I followed this tutorial.  As a bonus, the bags roll up so you can keep them handy with you when you're out and about.

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Looks like Erin was the primary beneficiary of my Not Knitting in 2011.  (She's not getting the blanket, though!!!)


Neutral. . . With a POP

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I don't have a "favorite color."  I don't think I really ever have.  True, I went through a "purple phase" when I was a pre-adolescent (doesn't everyone?).  And I used to think I liked red more than any other color (but only certain shades).  But really, I tend to favor . . . neutrals. . . with a POP of almost any other color.

This really becomes evident when you spend some time with me.  My house?

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Neutral.  With a POP of color.

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My closet?

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Overwhelminingly neutral.  With a few POPS here and there.

My decorating?

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Neutral.  POPS.

My workout clothes?

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You guessed it!

Even my dog. . .

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Neutral with a POP.

Maybe that's why I tend to knit in the POP colors?

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Maybe I like a neutral background so much. . . because then I can play with ALL the other colors.  And never have to choose a favorite!

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And in Project Spectrum Sewing Project News for the month of December, I show you this:

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The humble - yet neutral - polar fleece fringed blanket!

Over the years, I have made many, many (many) polar fleece fringed blankets.  I have made them in the team colors of every hockey team Brian has played on.  I have made them as gifts for friends and family.  I have made them to comfort friends who were sick or injured.  I have made them for babies.  I have even made one for Jenny. 

This one is for Erin's boyfriend.  He is a neutral-loving kind of guy, and this will be a perfect Christmas gift for him.  (He doesn't read my blog, so I'm safe in showing it here.)  Although Erin has several of my polar fleece fringed blankets, they were all made for a much younger version of Erin.  A version that liked, for example, blankets with bright yellow rubber duckies.  Or puppies-on-a-day-glo-pink background.  Erin says she giggles whenever she sees her boyfriend wrapped up in the ducks.  It's high time he had one of his own --  in a pattern and color that suits his style!

Hope he likes it!