Always something…

There is always something new going on.  I have been sending out applications to try and get a full-time job, last week I dyed a cotton as well as a bamboo warp and weft with the Enchanted Mountains Weaver’s Guild (which was a ton of fun), and yesterday I had to put down my cat one month shy of 21 years old.

Precious Cat

Despite being a long haired cat my Dad, who was extremely allergic to cats, just adored her.  He would sit on his chair in the living room and tap the arm with her brush, Precious would leap on his lap and start purring like a motorboat.  When he passed she was beside herself, didn’t know what to do.  After a while she realized he wasn’t coming back, but she had mom at home to dote on her all the time.  For the past few years Mom and I suspected that she was going a bit senile, in addition to her progressive kidney failure and the heart problems we found out about spring of 2018.  The vet tech said that if we started giving her medicine for the heart troubles she might live to see 20.  We decided against the medication and Precious lived almost a year past expectations.  I am lucky that I had her when Mom passed in October of 2018, however for the past three months she has been getting progressively worse.  Between missing the litterbox, yowling half the night, and just lately not eating as much as usual, it was time to let her go.  Now I get to spend the weekend trying to clean up all of the stuff she left behind and figuring out if I can salvage the bathroom or if I am going to have to invest in getting it completely retiled in the future.  I’m not mad about any of it, I appreciate the time I had with her and I am sorry that I had to let her go.

I have done some spinning for Tour de Fleece, however not nearly as much as I would have liked.  There have been opportunities for me to work on different crafts, just today I am receiving supplies to see if resin casting is something that I can reasonably do at the public library I work for.  One of the trees, a choke berry tree I believe, had to be cut down outside our library.  The director was very opposed to this action, however we needed a new storage shed.  The maintenance person managed to salvage several of the berries and now I have the opportunity to play with resin as well as creating a keepsake for my Director.  Win-Win!

I have made considerable progress on my Furls Crochet Coffee Cup Sweater, right now I am working on the body and hope to start the sleeves mid august.  The only problem I have with it is, I will need to either wear something underneath or the yarn had best full quite a bit and close up some of the gaps.  I knew that this was a possibility when I saw that I would be using double crochets for part of it.  This might give me opportunity to bust out my t-shirt collection to wear as a layer underneath.  I Have started knitting my third quarter poncho pattern from Jimmy Beans Wool and look forward to seeing the finished product.

I guess I have been busier than I thought.  I will either be starting back up at the University Library I work at or be starting a new job.  If the former I will have more time to blog, if the latter it might be a little while until I get into a rhythm again.  If I obtain a new job I will post notification of a hiatus.

Until next time, remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Family History and Crafting

This will contain no crafting updates or lessons.  It has been only five months since Mom joined Dad and I am still processing my grief.  If you have any fresh grief or if you are particularly sensitive, you may want to skip this post.  Crafting updates will resume with the next post.

My memories of my Grandmother, Mom’s Mother, are of her smoking at the kitchen table, cooking dinner, eating pretzels while watching Wheel of Fortune, sitting on metal lawn chairs (not those woven ones with metal frames but heavy metal chairs I wish I had today) while listening to the Cleveland Indians on the radio and watching fireflies, and her crocheting.  She was always crocheting or sewing.  I have more memories of my Mom, but still, crocheting, plastic canvas, (she learned loom knitting because it was mentioned in the Knitting Retreat series by Betty Hechtman, a good series that I read because it got Mom interested in Loom Knitting), and always encouraging my desire to learn new techniques.  Mom never tired of telling me how proud her Mother would have been to see me learning all of the new (old/traditional) crafts.   Of course, I never got mom to try spinning, though I did trick her into learning needle tatting so she could help me teach a class on it; that was so much fun.  I came to realize just recently, how lucky I was to have crafting be a part of my memory as far back as I can remember, while I was working.

During a crafting triage session, where people can bring whatever they are working on for a bit more help, I had one patron show up.  She is a lovely middle aged woman who wanted to know why she couldn’t get the same results twice when using her knitting loom.  We determined that she needs to keep better records of what she is doing, and even out her tension.  However, during this session, while she was working from a couple of tangled skeins of yarn I came to realize that she did not know how to hand wind her yarn into a ball.  I’m not talking about using a notepinne to create a center pull ball, just a plain old ball of yarn.  The kind that tends to go bouncing all over the house if you are not careful.  By checking YouTube I see that they are all promoting how to wind a center pull ball as the only method, oh well.  We spent some time working on this new skill, and at the end she had three balls of white yarn and two more tangled skeins of blue to practice on.

What this really caused me to realize is how very lucky I am to have been raised by a Mom that was crafty.  Actually Dad used to make things with macrame and I remember him doing Rug Hooking for a time, so Dad was crafty as well.  I have Aunts, Dad’s sisters,  that Quilt, Sew, Knit, and Crochet so there is still a ton of Crafty influence and encouragement in my life.  You know how it goes, intellectually you understand how lucky you are to have the support and influences that you do, but until you are faced with someone that hasn’t had those advantages it doesn’t occur to you, Not everyone knows how to make a ball of yarn.  Those people that pull a length of yarn from the edge of a skein and cut it off really do not realize how much damage they are doing to the usability of the rest of the skein.

I miss mom, as spring begins to bloom and I realize that I do not need to traipse all over the back hills to pick every single daffodil that dares peek it’s head above ground, the ache becomes more apparent.  I am glad that is is with her parents and Dad, happy that she is no longer trapped by the ever growing limitations of her body, and pleased that she and Dad are looking down on the family.  Remembering the good times helps to ease the ache and deepen the sorrow all at the same time.

Okay, rant and reminiscing over.  There are more crafts to do, the weather is warming up, I should work on cutting down the weeds so I can create pretty flower beds out front.

Until next post, be happy for your support, remember your loved ones, and Live a Life A Little More Abstract.

Shifts in Time and Perspective

Today is when we set our clocks ahead an hour, thereby losing an hour of sleep but gaining an hour of daylight.  For me this means that spring is ever closer, and a quarter of the year is almost gone.  I know, that will not be true until closer to the end of March, but time is certainly marching on.  Taxes are soon going to be filed, the cat is going to the vet tomorrow, gardens need to be prepared, and it really needs to stop snowing.  Thinking about all of this is giving me time to remember what the name of this blog is really about.  It is too easy to take life very seriously, and think of things in a very linear way.  Sometimes you need to think in ways that are A Little More Abstract, about life as well as craft.

February is always a bad month for me.  The end of January was my parents wedding anniversary, February 21st was the closing of the 10th year since we lost my father.  This is my first full year without my mother.  March begins a new month, a fresh month, working our way toward spring.  Lent is upon us, if you are Christian, so we begin a march toward Easter.  The word ‘March’ in the phrases, “March toward Easter”, and “Time is Marching on” tend to bring the unfortunate connotation of drudgery.  You think of an army slogging its way toward a battle, instead I think of a steady progression.  When soldiers March they tend to do so with their heads held high, marching proudly toward their destiny, whatever that may be.

This is where my shift in perspective is coming into play.  I need to figure out where my destiny is going to lay.  These past 10 years working several part-time jobs and taking care of mom has been a wonderful learning experience.  I have had the time as well as freedom to learn a lot about myself and what I am capable of in addition to some of my limitations.  Now it is time for me to face what the spring and summer will bring.  I know, this entire entry is a bit maudlin, but that is what this time of year does to me.

Yesterday I managed to wrap all of the warps for the shoelace weaving project I will be teaching tomorrow, put together a shelving unit for my studio when it is completed, and set up pans for the 12 stepping stones I hope to make out of cement.  I intended to begin pouring the stones yesterday, but since the weather is supposed to get up to almost 50 by the middle of the week I decided to hold off on actually mixing and pouring the cement.  I have the sand poured and the glass set, so it is just a matter of adding the cement and leaving them to harden.  Hopefully things will be in good shape by Wednesday, when they are coming to install my new garage door, and Thursday when I hope to mix the cement.  The decorations on these stones are pieces of glass, but I believe I will change that out for mosaic tiles or decorative stone for the actual class.  The glass shards are too much of a liability to consider as a good solution.

I have completed 2/3rds of the Jimmy Beans Knitted Cowl and have begun the final third.  It is actually my goal to have that knitted by the end of this week so that I can block it out and take a final picture for a blog post next week, fingers crossed.  I have not make much progress on the second installment of the Crochet Pouf but that is going to be my second goal, I believe.  This may get sidetracked depending on how complex the first installment of the Sherlock Afghan is on Saturday.  I also have socks and dishcloths I am fiddling with, hopefully things will get past the stage of stitching into nothingness and some progress will be made.

So that is the end of it for now.  Shifting time, shifting perspective, and a shifting list of priorities.  Learning more about myself and what I can do, playing with cement is new, and reminding myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.  So until next installment.

Keep crafting and remember to keep your life a little more abstract.

Bargain Hound

When it comes right down to brass tacks I tend to be a bargain hound, I find it very hard to resist a good deal.  This, of course, gets me into a bit of trouble, but who needs groceries some weeks when I’ve got yarn?  It isn’t quite as bad as that, but I do stock on freezer meals when they are on sale so I don’t have to worry about getting something for dinner some days.  Part of that is the fact that between my 3 jobs I work 6 days a week therefore cooking is a luxury not an every day thing.  Enough of my digressions, the point of this is that I subscribe to a lot of different crafting sites mailing lists so that I can take advantage of bargains when I come across them.  Some are well worth my time, some I can do without.  My weaknesses come in the form of under $10 bargains, especially those touted as half-off.

If something is under $10 and I can use it, I will probably pick it up.  With under $20 I tend to take some time to think about it, will I actually use it, do I have enough of this already, etc. then I buy it or not.  Anything over $20 has to be something that I have been thinking about/craving for at least 2 weeks before I even consider it.  This causes me some problems with the independent knitting patterns for sale on Ravelry.  I know that it took you quite some time to come up with your pattern and you are trying to make a living off of it, but at $7.50 it is a bit expensive for me, especially if it is novelty and not like a sock or a sweater.  This brings me to the new quagmire I have gotten myself into, Happily Hooked, a digital magazine I subscribe to, is having a 26 week course called the Stitch Mastery Program starting tomorrow, and guess what?  It was under $10.

This course, for non members, is $20.  It comes with 26 weeks of learning a new stitch every week complete with videos and 2 projects for each stitch.  So my bargain hound soul is singing with the idea of 52 projects in 26 stitches, and six months of learning for $1O.  Those of you thinking about the hooks, yarn, etc. I have a ton of that from Mom.

While I did not need another project/set of projects, I am very happy to be learning yet another new skill.  I think that 2019 is going to be a year of learning.  When I get working on the projects I will let you know more.

Happy Crafting!

Still Spinning

Okay, so the 2 pounds of Shetland Moorit arrived so I am working on carding it into rolags to spin up for my Hap.  I was feeling under the weather a bit so in between my knitting, crocheting, laundry and dishwasher loads, I curled up in bed to look over past issues of Spin-Off Magazine.  While paging through I happened across a pattern for little wrist cuffs as well as ankle cuffs.  Each of these take a bit over 100 yards of fiber, well I have all sorts of little scraps so I decided to go for it.  In December I purchased the international box from Camaj Fiber Arts Spinning Boxes, she was selling off past boxes.  There were some very pretty fibers based on Korea and Norway/Finland that I decided to spin into a little skein.

IMG_2178  I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  However, it is only 78 yards.  Yes, not even enough for one of the patterns.  Oh well, I have more little samples (I have already started) so I will be incorporating two mini batts, and three more random colored combed tops that look like they will fit the bill.  I am already almost half way through spinning this batch, it already looks like more singles than the last attempt.

IMG_2142

The patterns are from Spin Off Winter 2007 pages 46-47 titled “Anklettos and Wristlettos: Fringe Benefits” by Phreadde Davis.

Hopefully once I have this yarn spun, plied, set, and dried, I will not be either bored with this idea, working on the hap, or ready for more installments from Jimmy Beans Wool.  I will admit to a small amount of introspection, I am aware that I have been keeping myself too busy to really take the time to miss my Mom.  February tends to stink since we lost Dad near the end, I have already found myself crying for no apparent reason simply because it hit me hard that she isn’t around.  Oh well, back to distractions!

Happy Crafting!

Two Steps Forward Three Steps Back

*This is just an update on my life, if you only want to read crafty stuff, hopefully the next post will contain that.  There is mention of Mice and permanent ways to get rid of them, if you are big into non-lethal rodent control then you will not want to read this post.*

I am still trying to get around to reviewing all of the things that I got myself for Christmas, but the ongoing Mouse Saga seems to be two steps forward and three back.  In the last two weeks I have found droppings on the counters and just today in a drawer.  Fortunately my handyman is amazing, he looked to see if there was anywhere they could get in from the outside and sealed those up. He spoke with a couple of farmers and old timers and they advised him how to keep the mice out with an indoor/outdoor safe spray that smells a bit like Citronella and is supposed to keep them out.  He sprayed all around outside and quite a few doorways, I put it around the doorways from the kitchen to the rest of the house (after locking the cat away) and am waiting for it to dry so I can let the cat out.

Neither of us have found any detritus anywhere else in the house, so I think that they are contained.  If I see any more droppings I will let him know and we will get some snap traps.  (Don’t bother yelling at me about killing mice, once they are in the house they will always seek another house to get into.)  He will also get some special traps for outside to keep them from coming in, that will be Wednesday after Christmas.  I will need to run all of my pots and pans through the dishwasher, I’m going to throw out all of my baking goods, the thought of using them is making me nauseous, (not that I have time to bake).  I also plan on throwing out all of the plastics that I haven’t used in years and possibly putting the pots and pans that I haven’t used in a while in a plastic tub with a lid once they have been through the dishwasher.  Getting the outside sealed up and the deterrent spray were my two steps forward, my three steps back are a bit frustrating.  The first step is having to run everything in the kitchen through the dishwasher.  Actually the next two steps back were in one action, some of the tiles along the peak of the roof blew back leaving something like a foot of the attic exposed to the elements.  Thank goodness my handyman is amazing and he managed to get a patch on, but I am so frustrated that it seems like there is always something else going wrong.  On a brighter note, I also remembered that Mom and I collected Beanie Babies and they wound up stored in the back hallway.

They were almost all packed away, but most of them were in cardboard boxes and I decided that since I had some plastics I bought for the organization I wanted to kill several birds with one cleaning.  I wanted to make sure that none of the beanies were compromised, get rid of any that I know I don’t want to keep, make sure that there were no mice in the back hallway, vacuum the back hall, wipe down the walls, get the beanies in better storage, and have them in a state so that my home organizers don’t even need to concern themselves with them.  So I had 8 huge plastics, I think 125 quarts each, and they are completely full.  I ordered another 4 from Walmart online and bought 4 more from a dollar store.  I plan to spend some time tomorrow finishing up packing the beanies, then perhaps rewarding myself with a movie. I have decided on two big garbage bags full of stuffed animals I’m donating which doesn’t seem like much but since I have memories attached to all of them it really is progress.  The unexpected benefit is, I get to remember the amazing times Mom and I had getting these beanies, we spent a few weeks eating tons of happy meals when McDonalds were having their beanie special, the flea market where her aunt worked, the shop in town where we used to get them, and so much more.  Sometimes it is hard to realize that you are able to experience all of your emotions at once, happy, sad, melancholy, angry, frustrated, tired, etc.

Well, that is enough out of me.  Things are progressing quite well.  I am moving forward on the cleaning, and remembering good times along the way.  The roof was sorted out before it became a big problem.  All entrances for the mice seem to be sealed, and a deep clean/disinfecting is on its way.  Wednesday my handyman will be up to work on getting preventative measures in place, Thursday and Friday my organizing team will be up here and I will find out what my Grand in fees gets me.  Then I will be able to start my New Year Fresh and Bright!

Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays (no matter what you celebrate), and I will be on again soon.

Happy Crafting!

Sad News

It has been a couple of weeks since I have posted here.  Some of you that have been reading this for a while will remember me mentioning my Mother a couple of times.  She and my Grandmother, her mother, are my inspiration for crafting.  There has never been a time that crafting was not a part of my life, I remember getting scraps of yarn and making tons of crochet chains to hang around the house.  Mom was so very proud of all of the crafts that I became involved in, she said that Grandma would be so proud of me.  While my grandmother has been gone for over a decade, I had mom with me.  As you can probably tell from my use of past tense, Mom passed on Friday October 19th after a very bad night.  She was mere hours away from coming home for hospice, but after how bad that last night was I can only be glad that she did not suffer.

I, along with my tans-gender sibling whom was born John but prefers to be called Phoebe, have spent the last week straightening out her papers, arranging and attending her funeral, and all of those things that need to be done when one life ends and others need to go on.  We are fortunate to have a very large family that are extremely supportive, if not very close by.  I overheard one of them stating that I was devastated, and cannot deny that.  I do miss mom extremely, however I am lucky in that I am not often given to introspection.  I prefer to try and look forward, while remembering those that I loved and the contributions that they have made to my life.

I will take a year to explore who I am now and what is important to me. I will explore some things that I had neither the time nor energy to explore, and I will not make any huge changes until at least a year has passed.  There are small things that I will change, trying to eat better, cook more, explore flavors and cultures, exercise more, say yes to outings, and so much more.  A very good friend of mine has asked if I want to go to a show over Veterans Day weekend, and I have said that this sounds good.  I purchased a rotisserie chicken and made some curry using one of the chicken breasts.  (I’m not really impressed by the flavors, but I would like to try it with a more robust meat and different vegetables, maybe some vindaloo paste.)  Sometimes I feel that I am not mourning enough, but I will always miss both of my parents, it will hit me like a ton of bricks at times.

Mom is with Dad, in Heaven, and they are looking over all of the family.  May they both rest in peace in the light of the Lord.  God Rest Their Souls.