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Meerkats and socks… if only it were meerkats WEARING socks!

Meerkats and socks… if only it were meerkats WEARING socks!

It has been a busy September for me and busy in a good way so far. The beginning of the month brought me a new job! It is kind of funny because it is also my old job, where I worked from 2003 to 2006. I am now fully employed again at a 9 to 5 office job, no longer working at home for Chris Roberts-Antieau. Which means I once again have paid vacation and sick days and I get evenings and weekends off AND… I get my sewing room back!!! (that’s what I did this past weekend, I cleaned out all of the stuff that belonged to the studio and re-arranged my room to make it more cozy and efficient for what I want to do in there, pictures to follow.) So I think this new job was the perfect change for me. I love the people at the studio and especially Chris, but there were so so so many memories there of my mom that at first were comforting but now are painful. My mom had been working at the studio for more than 10 years when she died, she was the manager, she knew everything, ran nearly the whole show. Without her, everything was kind of handed to me to handle/figure out. Some of which I wanted to do, some not so much. Most of that didn’t bother me so much. It just got to the point that I would stare at the art from about 10am until 5 or 6pm and just want to cry all day. I was tired of looking at it, mostly because it just reminded me of my mom and that she’s not here.

The middle of September took me to Chicago to visit Shannon and go to the Renegade Craft Fair. It was very cool. Definitely what art/craft shows SHOULD be. I love that it is kindof small, so you don’t reach your absorption limit for art goodies before you’ve seen all the booths. I’m used to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, that really, if you wanted to see every single booth and go into the neat stores around Main Street and South University, it would take two days at least. But this we did in an afternoon. The reason we wanted to go to the fair was to check out if I wanted to be in it next summer. I DO! My goal is to stockpile up as much stuff as I can to sell there next year. I can stay with Shannon and have very few expenses. I am already getting excited!

I didn’t buy anything at the craft fair, (if I had, it would have been this) but we did sneak into Nina and I did buy some yarn.
I stayed from Friday night through Monday about noon (yay for vacation days!). On Monday we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo where we saw lots of cute animals. My favorite was the Meerkats. They are just so cute the way they snuggle together. Of course I took many pictures, here are a few.

It was a hot day, and we were there right about 11:30, so most of the animals were just hanging out, sleeping. Except for this guy.
I don’t know what was in the corner of that little pool, but he was really interested in it. He was staring into the corner and pushing the water into the rock and it was splashing his face. He did it for a long time too. Maybe that bear has OCD?! Maybe he had to push the water into the corner 49 times before he could get out of the pool.

Monday was also Bella’s birthday! She is now 3 years old. If that makes her an adult, someone needs to tell her about it, because she is still as feisty and playful as she was 2 and a half years ago. Except much more well-behaved.
(she moves so fast, it’s hard to get a good picture of her). I brought home some of Chicago’s best bacon from the Original Pancake House for her and her dad got her a stuffed lamb, a pig ear and a rawhide bone. One week later and all three are gone. She made quick work of that.

The end of September brings ArtPeers in Grand Rapids. Ryan and I are both participating in this event that places art in participating stores throughout downtown Grand Rapids. Anyone in the area this weekend should come to Clothing Matters to see my work and to Literary Life to see Ryan’s work.

In October, I hope to start working again on a commissioned wedding guest book quilt for a friend that we started together in 2006. I also told Shannon that I would make her a quilt for above the fireplace in her new apartment. I am going to make some really pretty fabrics and make a Chicago city skyline for her. I’m also knitting about thirteen-hunnerd things… ok… maybe like 3 socks and a baby sweater. Not counting the things on the needles that I haven’t touched in at least a year and the stuff not on the needles yet that I have in bags with the yarn, pattern and needles ready to go. And I’m not making any promises that I’ll finish anything before I start something else.

Cabled socks, another good day

Cabled socks, another good day

These are Trekking XXL Cable Rib Socks from Interweave Knits Fall 2005. I have been working on these for quite a while. I have noticed a pattern, I tend to do the first sock pretty fast, then get to the heel on the second sock when all of a sudden doing the heel and especially the gussets seems like a HUGE pain in the butt. So I leave it and start something else or don’t knit at all. Then when I finally get back to picking it up again, it goes so quick and I wonder why I let it sit there for so long.

I made myself finish these socks because I have started at least three other pair since stalling at the heel months ago. I have so much new sock yarn, that I wanted to start another pair, so I told myself I couldn’t start another sock until these were finished. And it only took two evenings to finish them.

When I started these, I was using a bamboo cable needle from Knit Picks. It was big and too long, and just kind of awkward for sock yarn. So, I thought I would try to use one of those row markers that looks like a stubby safety pin as a cable needle. That was working ok, but I really couldn’t knit the held stitches right from the marker, I had to slide them back onto the working needle. So, I was telling my mom all of that sometime last spring probably, and then the next time I saw her, she gave me this:
She was always breaking her size 1 bamboo needles. So, she took one of the broken ones and sharpened one end and sanded it real smooth and it is now my size 1 cable needle! Genius!!! It is the perfect size, obviously because I was knitting the sock with size 1 needles, but it’s also the perfect length. It is short enough to not be in the way, and long enough to actually knit the held stitches right from the cable needle. It’s perfect! Except that it is just small enough to get lost, or accidentally mistaken for a used toothpick and get thrown away. So I am careful to not leave it out on the table.

When I finally got to the end of the toe and started to use the kitchener stitch for the seam, I thought I remembered how to do it. I was too lazy to get up and walk a couple feet to the sewing room to get my sock book for the instructions. I did the first four stitches of kitchener right. then must’ve skipped something and was knitting the purls and purling the knits, and ended up with this half ‘innie’ and half ‘outie’ toe.

So today while I was waiting for the roast chicken to reach 165 degrees I un-kitchenered, and re-kitchenered. And now they are done and on my feet.

Getting it back

Getting it back

I think I had a little break-through yesterday. Since December when my mommy died I have not really wanted to do anything, and planning our wedding took up a lot of my time and brain power. Since the wedding is over I have had a lot of time and extra brain cells to do the things I used to LOVE to do in my spare time. But somehow, none of it really interested me. I would stand in my sewing room and rifle through things, flip through a pattern book, feel up my stacks of fabric, dump out a bag full of already cut-out pieces to a project and then put them all back in the bag again. Knitting had even lost it’s luster for me.

My mom and I used to talk on the phone every day. I’d tell her all the mundane details of my day and she’d listen as if I were telling her about my first African Safari and each round of a sock was a new animal I’d discovered. When all of a sudden I didn’t have her to report to every day, I stopped doing things.

Until yesterday.

I got home from my meetings at work at about 2:30, ate lunch and took a little nap. Then while Ryan cooked dinner I sat on the couch and knit on a sock for more than an hour. Before yesterday I hadn’t knit on anything for more than about 5 minutes at a time, and probably less than once a week.

After dinner we cleaned up the kitchen and I made a bee-line (B-line? what is that expression? V-line would make sense…) to the sewing room. Ryan seemed surprised when I didn’t join him on the couch after dinner and asked where I was going. I told him I was going to go play in the sewing room. I think he had been waiting for this moment too.

So from about 8:00 until 11 I was in the sewing room working on this green shibori quilt. I started it quite a while ago, I dyed the fabric while I was still in school, the quilt top was cut and pieced when my sewing room was still in the basement. (the color in these pictures is so wrong. it’s an avocado green, not so much gray)

I had started quilting it a couple different times on the sewing machine, but I never liked how it looked and ripped it out each time. I wanted to do something that would enhance the shibori design, not make it harder to distinguish. So I had some shiny embroidery floss in a pale yellow and tried that. I decided to use it to just make a running, almost like a basting stitch, from top to bottom. I made it wavy on purpose and left different widths between each row of stitching. A clever disguise to not-so-perfect piecing abilities.

A couple months ago I had found a big shoe box full of old thread. It must have been my great grandma’s because the spools were all wooden. My mom could never throw anything away, so I sorted through the box and got rid of any empty and almost empty spools. I found a bunch of spools marked “pure silk” and wondered if that really meant it was silk. I don’t know why I don’t trust the spool, maybe it’s really cotton, but they called it silk because it was really strong and shiny or something. I don’t know. But I separated all the silk spools and set them aside to use some day.

So in the spaces where I left empty pockets between rows of stitching I used the “pure silk” thread to make smaller rows of stitches . It’s not that visible from a distance, but up close I think it looks neat. So far I’ve only used a reddish color for the smaller patches of stitching. I think I’ll do the whole thing that way before I decide to add another color. I thought maybe of adding patches of some french knots. We’ll see.

What do you think so far? I’m not sure that the patches of red are even necessary. And I think my pictures are kind of crappy today, so maybe you won’t even be able to tell me what you think.

Today I will try to continue with my productivity. I have to work all day, and all of my Etsy listings have expired, so I need to put some things on there to sell. I have quite a few new things, so I’ll let you know when they are up. Ryan’s website needs to be updated with some new show info too. So, on that note… I am stepping away from the computer. Not to return until I have accomplished at least 5 hours of work. Wish me luck!

Oh yeah, I got married

Oh yeah, I got married

I haven’t been blogging like I said I wanted to. I have no excuses. Just laziness. The laziness has spread to many aspects of life lately. I got a good swift kick in the pants and really need to stay on top of the blog and also MAKE the time to do the things that I want to do.

So, In the time I’ve been away since January I just got married; no big whoop. 😜 hehe

So many details and stories to tell… But I think I’ll just let some pictures speak for themselves.

Lighting the Unity Candle (I thought it would look nice if we used the big unity candle along with two stubby votive candles. It did… but we had a funny little moment where the candles were too fat to reach the wick of the big candle. We eventually got it lit.)

The kiss

When I couldn’t find the cake toppers to purchase anywhere, I told Ryan what I had pictured, and he used leftovers from our first Christmas tree to hand-carve these two little birdies. He is amazing!

mmmmmmmm cake!

Ryan successfully retrieved the garter!

And of course… the Chicken Dance!

So, that was our wedding… about 9 months of planning, a lot of money, a lot of misunderstandings, agreements and disagreements, for about 8 hours of fun. Totally worth it.
Cheap and Not-So-Cheap Thrills

Cheap and Not-So-Cheap Thrills

First things first, let’s get the most important news out of the way.
I have new sock yarn. Yep, that’s the most exciting thing going on right now, and believe me, in my current state I will take any little thrill I can get! I was reading someone’s blog the other day and clicked over to a pattern and then saw a link for a contest, clicked that and saw the word “Sale” on the sock yarn store, clicked that, and only 2 minutes later I had new yarn on it’s way to my house. It was such an impulse buy, but at only $24, including shipping, I got TWO skeins of Arucania sock yarn and it arrived yesterday. Perfectly timed arrival too, as I was having a shitty morning.

The solid skein is actually a gorgeous dusty purple, it looks more gray in this photo. I plan to make socks and use the purple as the toe and heel. Then, I’ll have to use some leftovers of another skein to make purple socks with contrasting toe and heel. (I bought my mom a ball of this yarn in a blue and purple colorway. I can use that to go with the purple, it will be PERFECT! That brings up a question for another day about an in process sock she was working on before she died.)

On another side note, Shannon… I LOVE MY NEW CAMERA!!!
My old digital camera was only about 5 years old, but that is probably about 50 years in technology time.

Ok, so there’s the exciting news out of the way. Next to tell you about Christmas gifts.
I had many many projects to finish before Christmas. I was working on a pair of socks for Ryan using Knit Picks Risatta. He got one… the other is ready to turn the heel.

The other Christmas project was a pair of thrummed mittens for Shannon. One is done, the other is about 5 inches in, I’m ready to put the thumb stitches on a stitch holder.

I have a small box of stuff to send Shannon this week, so my goal is to get it done and include it in that box.

But, (there’s always a “but”) I have been casting on new projects left and right over here. I knit a whole baby bootie that I didn’t like so there won’t be a second one. I cast on for a Calorimetry using straight needles, and needed a circular to fit all 120 stitches onto, and didn’t want to get up to get one, so there that project sits. Then I also cast on for a neat little headband I stumbled upon on Pepperknits that uses leftover sock yarn. I have tons of that and boy do I need a headband! I was at the drug store last week and they wanted to charge $8 for ONE cheap-looking black spandex thing. So, I am totally enthralled and entertained by this simple 4-row repeat project. And I’m using leftover sock yarn that I LOVE LOVE LOVE from the Michigan Fiber Festival. It is just striping way more beautifully than the socks did and I am getting such a cheap thrill from this project that I want to just work on it all day!
So that is the competition for Ryan’s second sock and Shannon’s second mitten (and of course, actual work I have to do for a paycheck). Pretty fierce competition.
LOVE the new camera! Thanks Shannon, Love you too!

And one last little thrill. It amazes me after someone close to you dies, how important their STUFF becomes. Things they probably never looked at once it was thoughtfully placed on a shelf, their impulse purchases that they didn’t like any more, their yarn that they coveted and never used because they were waiting for the PERFECT pattern. Every time I go to my mom’s house since she’s been gone, little things catch my eye. There are the obvious things, like, the sock box that Ryan made for her, the quilt I made for her, anything in her handwriting, old photographs and Christmas ornaments. Every time I go I come home with a bag full of stuff. Sometimes it is something that I need that now don’t have to buy. Other times it’s just a nick-nack that catches my eye. The most recent visit, I saw this cute little lamb, sitting on a lawn chair. He just spoke to me and I had to take him home.

So I put him on a shelf in my sewing room next to a card that I gave Mommy for Mothers day in 2001. He makes me smile when I look in his direction.

So tonight is my first Wedding Dress Fitting! My bridesmaid Kristy is coming and so is my future Mom-in-law (I’m going to say “mom-in-law” becuase it doesn’t have that bad connotation that “mother-in-law” does, because she is certainly not “one of THOSE”. And I am NOT saying that because I know she reads this, Hi Gayle!) I had forgotten about the dress fitting, and on New Years Day I was changing the calendar over to January when I saw “Dress Fitting, 6pm” staring me in the face and it felt like someone punched me in the stomach. The first wedding thing that Mommy can’t be here for. I panicked and immediately got on the phone with Kristy to see if she could come with me. It is going to be fun and it’s really going to suck at the same time.
I have to make the best of the situation. This WILL be my only wedding, this will only happen once and I have to start getting excited about all the little details again. It was destined to be this way, and I have accepted that. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.