Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Way We Were

So sue me. . .

Apparently my only rule was meant to be broken EARLY in the game. This photo is not of my own hand. In my defence, red seems to be a theme of my childhood and nostalgia a theme of my adulthood. Vintage red, therefore, seemed to be an appropriate choice for Self Portrait Challenge. The only problem was that I couldn't decide which photo to use. They all encapsulate the longing I feel for my past. So, to satisfy myself, I've provided something special for you. Click on the photo and you'll see. . .

That's me on the right - reading everywhere I went! Now reading has to compete with so much else - knitting, sewing, being a mama, working, etc. Little sis is on the left. . . And she wants me to make it clear that she did NOT grow up to be an axe murderer, she just plays one in our family pictures!

I definitely have a tendency to view the past through rose-colored glasses. Everything was better BACK THEN. Now, as I get older, I spend more time reflecting on the "back then" that was my childhood, but when I was a teenager I had this same backward longing for the decades that belonged to my parents' youth. Even then, when I would find old photos of my parents I had the sense that if I could just go back in time, life would be better, simpler, more right. It seems I've always felt "out of place," as if I'd fit in better somewhere between the 30s and the 70s, depending on my mood. The truth is my desire for the past, despite any real allure it may hold, probably has more to do with my inability to be content in my present.

Which may be why I'm so drawn to these photos of myself at this pre-teen age. I'm still fully entrenched in my present and I seem utterly content. Rose-colored glasses or not, that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

And, because I'm feeling very weepy and nostalgic, here are some gratuitous shots of me and mine. Click on any one if you want to see more of the same!

You say it's your birthday. . .


My Bubba

Baby sister

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

From The Crafting Corner

Sorry for the long absence! I've been very busy trimming, crafting and going about the daily business of life and I haven't had any energy left for blogging. The good news is I have something to show for my time off.

Meet my flopsy bunnies, Beatrice, Bettina and Babette:

The bunny sisters

Beatrice stays with me, and Bettina and Babette will each be gifted to a sweet, little girl! I loved designing these three, each with her own definite style, but I'm very excited to be moving on to something a little more, shall we say, mechanical?

Mouseover the picture below to see what stocking stuffers are in store for the boys!

I've cut out all the pieces for two robots, and, since taking this picture, I've also pieced out one super-duper spaceboy! Tonight I will start sewing and hopefully by Friday I'll have some FO's to show off. . . Hillary certainly keeps me busy!

Also, a little somethin' somethin' from almost next to nothin'. From a $3 bag of buttons and a dollar store glue gun (!) I made these magnets. This is definitely addictive. I can't wait to collect some more large buttons. . .

Last, let me not forget to send a big thank you to Mary Ann for the lovely garland she made me for Storme's Handmade Holiday Swap! It hangs in the doorway between our living room and kitchen and is a stunning reminder of what I blogged recently about lacking. An excellent reminder of what I should be striving for. . .

Stunning garland

And a peek at what I sent Mary Ann:

Vintage buttons

If you want to see more photos, just click on the stocking! Below is a picture of other stockings I've made over the years. This is my longest standing craft hobby and it both comes easy and continues to be a challenge!

By the fire with care

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Self Portrait Challenge

I've often thought of myself as attractive. Not pretty in any conventional way, my features are too strong, nor beautiful, I have my share of imperfections, but attractive. As in dynamic, appealing, sometimes sexy. Over the past few years, however, this has shifted. I am now more likely to think of myself as used up. A dried out husk of my former self. Yes, this sounds harsh, but much of the time it reflects how I feel. And, in trying to capture my first self portrait for submission to Self Portrait Challenge, this feeling has been reinforced.

I haven't been the subject of many photographs lately, tending to avoid the camera. The self-portraits I took recently show someone with a strong furrow on her brow (from all the frowning that I do!), tired eyes, dull-looking skin (from lack of exercise and attention to my health), and nary a smile to be found. Who sees the irony in the broach pinned to my lovely red coat? There's not a lot of joy to be found around these parts. Maybe participating in SPC will be not only a journey of self-discovery, but a vehicle for change.

Let me clarify something so this post doesn't come across all sob story. I have moments when I'm happy, times when I'm inspired and engaged, but rarely am I filled with joy. To be here, now. This is my truth. I hope it will not always be so, but when I see these photographs of myself, I fear for my health. Psychic, not physical.

What I find interesting about self-perception and photography, as it relates to this, is the dichotomy between how we see ourselves in our mind's eye and how we look through a more objective view finder. The camera can capture either one of these images, depending on circumstances and luck. I tend to look at myself subjectively in ways that flatter, from the tilt of my head as I perform my morning and bedtime rituals in front of the bathroom mirror, to the adjustments I make when I catch sight of myself unexpectedly in a store-front window. Many times, though, the camera does not cooperate and captures a more "objective" view.

The self-portrait that I've posted is a mixed bag. I don't look as good as I'd like to look, but I think it is an accurate representation. From the photographs at my disposal, I chose the one that most captures how I see myself in my mind's eye, without sacrificing all of the honesty of what I see when I catch myself unaware. There is a bit of vanity involved in my selection, but didn't someone say that honesty is overrated? Allow me to mitigate my discomfort.

Oh, and I've self-imposed one rule. These photographs must be taken by me. For the time being. As they say, rules are meant to be broken, so don't hold me to it. For now, I like the idea of having this constraint. In the future, I may decide that other-portraits are more reflective of me than the ones I take myself. We'll see.

Before you go, check out my inspiration for self-portraiture. He is enthusiastic, creative, experimental and uninhibited. And he takes a damned interesting picture.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cold Turkey

And I'm not talking left-overs.

Beginning tomorrow, morning cartoons are a once-was. For a little while, that is. Four days, specifically. Any longer and I might lose it. I'll admit it, I like my hour in the morning to fiddle around while my son sprawls in front of the TV, no interaction or guidance expected on my part. Actually, he is very actively involved in the shows that he watches, participating in the call and response, raising his arms up to the sky, ENGAGED.

Unfortunately, SIGH, he has been experiencing progressively more extreme withdrawal when it is time to turn said electronic device off. As in outright refusal, sobbing, thrashing around on the floor, etc. This makes it quite difficult to complete the few remaining tasks that are necessary before we can leave the house, like brushing teeth and putting on shoes.

I reached my elastic limit this morning (remember, I don't really want to impose this consequence!) when he was a horrid little brat (oops, did I really type that?) after I turned off the TV. Despite the fact that we were going on a really exciting field trip with his preschool to see the Golden Dragon Acrobats, which he had been eagerly anticipating prior to the cartoon fiasco. Just like an addict, however, he wanted more, more, more of the drug that was currently coursing through his system!

Instead of cooperating (ha!) so we could leave in a timely fashion, he spent ten minutes choking on his own mucus as he sobbed away like the junkie he is. Then, when we got in the car and he still hadn't stopped crying, mommy dearest (see how I try to distance myself from my evil other through third-person narrative?) proceeded to scream at him for 5 minutes to "just shut up!"

So. Tomorrow, no TV. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday. I'm not looking to ban TV watching, just to take a step back into a more balanced space, from which we can evaluate "how much" and "when." (Tuesday morning update: my plan went surprisingly well. No whining, no tears, no endless protestations. I may be on to something here. Go figure.)

Wish me luck.

And when [he] was good
[He] was very, very good,
But when [he] was bad [he] was horrid.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, November 20, 2006


Spent a lovely weekend thrifting, crafting and baking. I went to what was a "potentially" fabulous estate sale on Saturday and managed to find some fabric scraps, two vintage pillowcases which I will be using to make the apron pattern in The Crafters Companion, and a few Christmas presents which I dare not share as there are curious eyes all around. . . Still, I was lucky to find any of these items as there were pretty slim pickin's at 10:00 (gasp) am!! Why was I not waiting out front at 8 am, with all the other eager and in-the-know thrifters, cash burning a hole in my pocket? I'm just too damn lazy in the morning.

This was the estate of an elderly woman who (apparently) loved to sew, decorate for Christmas, and keep everything she ever purchased from the 50's on! I don't even want to know what I missed out on. . . When I got there, I saw a woman walking around with two wonderful aprons and I nearly knocked her over for her finds! ; ) Did I learn anything from this experience? Next weekend, I will be making my list of sales on Friday evening and out the door at dawn's early light on Saturday. So there. No more lazy Saturday mornings in this house.

Oh, and that lovely stainless steel bowl? Found at Urban Ore, $1.00. MY bowl, mine, mine, mine. . . ALL mine. Despite the fact that my sister tried her best to scoop it out from under me. She even thought that if she paid for it, she'd have squatter's rights. Can you believe it? I guess I owe her a buck.

What I worked on:

Wee wonderful bunny for a friend's daughter (update: she now has eyes, shoes and dress trim!) Still to come, two more bunnies (one for a niece and one for ME!)

And, for a housewarming on Saturday I baked this apple pie. Please excuse my pride when I say how happy I was with how beautifully it turned out! This was before a 4-year old (accidentally, yeah) pushed his hand into the middle as we were on our way out the door. . .

Please note my "new" (read: vintage) pastry cutter that I bought to replace my ugly black plastic-handled one. I LOVE using these!

"Monday, monday, can't trust that day
Monday, monday, sometimes it just turns out that way. . ."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Working For The Weekend

Deep breath. Thank goodness it's Friday Sunday! This song didn't mean much to me when I was 13, but now? I LIVE for the weekend. So much for being here, now.

I'm not much of a juggler. It may seem as if I'm managing many things at one time, because I've embarked on each one to some degree, but really everything's on hold except for the one project that I'm running with. And that would be whatever I'm REALLY excited about or REALLY behind on. This last week was one and the same, plus a healthy dose of workplace deadlines that I'm definitely not excited about. This is how I felt all week long. Which should explain why I haven't had the energy to blog! And really, I only have a brief reprieve. Some responsibilities have been met, but the wolf is still lurking at the door. Birthday bunny to sew, Christmas socks and mittens to knit, tea towels to embroider, oh yeah, cooking, cleaning, and playing with my son! And what I really need to do is SLEEP.

Mission accomplished: I sent off my package today to Nina, my swapmate in For the Elves. This was a great creative outlet! It's very exciting putting together a gift package for someone when you've got a theme to work with and you think you've got a good idea of their interests! And "vintage christmas" is a great theme - thanks, Ellia! I think I'm hooked on swapping! Despite the fact that I am prone to "swap stress" and "swap guilt" as coined by Apron Thrift Girl.

This just on its way:

And here's what the elves delivered to my house. Nina was so thoughtful and sent me many lovely vintage treats. Thank you, Nina! For more photos, click on the second picture to go to my Flickr photos.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Isn't She Lovely?

Isn't she wonderful?

Found: 1940's dress form at Antiques by the Bay in Alameda this past weekend. It was my first venture there, though definitely NOT my last. My only concern about returning is the effect on my bank account. . . ; ) Recovered in late 40's barkcloth, style Glen Court Grey. I am so excited to drape my finished Swallowtail, from Interweave Knits, in silky blue-gray Sundara yarn, around her shoulders. What was that? Finished? Oh no, hardly. Hmm? Progress pic? Ahem, well let's just say I'm expanding my skill set learning the provisional cast-on. Here's where I'm at, hardly blog-worthy. . .

And now for an actual finished object:

A kleenex case I made from felt (worked on until 2:30 am last night, per my m.o.) You should see the bags under my eyes! As if it isn't bad enough to be 38, I seem to be trying my best to look it too!!! Inspired by my little mochi's adorable creations as seen in my recently received copy of The Crafter's Companion. You MUST go and get this - it is lovely and inspiring! Ah, to have a studio. . .

And, finally, here's a teaser of what I'm sending my partner in Green Bean Baby's Vintage Christmas Swap. I hope she likes it!!! I'll be sure to post more pictures after it's been received. This is probably my longest standing craft hobby - I've been making these for over 20 years. Geez, maybe I should retitle this post: "There was an old lady. . ."

Before I go, please let me know if I'm going overboard with the links. Personally, I love to follow links from one place to another. It's like being on a magical adventure without a map. . .

Saturday, November 04, 2006

44 Things You Could Care Less About


2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Hmm. Well, my name means "warrior's daughter" so go figure.

3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Last week.

4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? More than some, less than others.


6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Definitely! I have a great sense of adventure and am always up for new experiences.

7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? This is it.


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Not on my life. I tandem-parachuted once, about 13 years ago, and would possibly (read: probably never!) do that again, but the idea itself of bungee jumping makes me nauseous.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Kasha with butter and salt.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? If I'm wearing shoes with laces, which is rare. In the summer, I live in flip flops.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I'd like to say yes, but in all honesty, not really.


14. SHOE SIZE? 7.

5. RED OR PINK? Red in practice, pink in theory.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? Let me get back to you later on that. . .

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Both my grandmothers - so very different, but I miss them both equally and think about them all the time.

18. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Red flannel pajama bottoms, white cotton peasant nightshirt, barefoot. If only I had some handknit socks. . .

19. LAST THING YOU ATE? Warm bread and butter pudding with cream that I made this morning with a left-over baguette.

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? My son hammering on the furniture.

21. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Blue Gray. Although normally a tolerant and liberal person, I admit to much shock and dismay regarding modern crayon colors. Macaroni and cheese? Fuzzy wuzzy brown? I'd rather Lemon yellow and raw umber.

22. FAVORITE SMELLS? Real jasmine flowers, David Austin's English Roses, a sunny breeze, my son's skin when he was a baby, hot apple pie, and freshly ground coffee.

23. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My mom. My dad was the first person I spoke to this morning.

24. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? Their ability to laugh at the absurd.

25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON YOU STOLE THIS FROM? I'll admit to coming across Laura's blog some time ago and bookmarking it for one reason or another, probably her enjoyable prose and steady-as-it-goes knititude (unlike my fits and starts), but I hardly know her, so I'll hold off on this one. . .

26. FAVORITE DRINK? Margaritas. Mmm, salt.

27. FAVORITE SPORT? For exercise, swimming. For playing with my son, baseball.

28. EYE COLOR? Green.

29. HAT SIZE? Small.


31. FAVORITE FOOD? Home-made pie, mine that is. If I'm arrogant about one thing only it would be my ability to bake a DAMN GOOD pie.



34. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs AND kisses.

35. FAVORITE DESSERT? Pie, pie and more pie.

36. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Currently working on my stack of unread New Yorkers.

37. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE Pad? The mouse. And dirt. . .

38. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? Nothing, I was trapped on the internet. Usually, any Law & Order, House, Rescue Me, Saved, Grey's Anatomy, The Closer, The Shield, Cold Case, Project Runway, What Not to Wear (anything that I'm wearing!). Yes, I like TV and I AM ashamed of it. . .

39. FAVORITE SOUNDS? The noise of nature when everything else is quiet.


41. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? France, when I was 16.

42. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? Obsessive attention to detail when I care enough; oh, and baking delicious pies!

43. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Berkeley, California.

44. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Pinched it from Laura.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pretty In Pink

When I'm in the groove, I knit fast and hard. My enthusiasm and determination propel me forward long into the night, needles clicking when I should be sleeping. Some might even call me obsessive. . . ; ) Conversely, I'm often slow to get started on a new project, second guessing every element of the process - yarn choice, pattern, needles (swatch did you say? but isn't guessing so much more "adventurous!?") Despite my aversion to swatching, I whole-heartedly approve of it and fully recognize the benefits, which is why I often have such a difficult time at the onset of a project, refusing to swatch, but refusing, also, to just dive in. In fact, this dilemna says a lot about who I am - an inherently lazy, procrastinating, perfectionist. It's a wonder I ever accomplish anything, sitting as I do, on my ass, anxiously twiddling my thumbs!

My intent for blogging today was to document my stash, my WIPs, and my pending projects, possibly with the intent of shaming myself into some knitting action, but the light was so murky that I was unable to capture any decent pictures. Instead I'll post two pictures for Kathy. What I won't do for the illustrious Grumperina. . .

I gifted this hat to a friend's daughter, but first insisted my son model it for my records. He wasn't particularly amenable to this, not because the hat is pink, which color he is very fond of, but because he is a boy and rarely stops moving! I was lucky to get the first altogether better shot, focused and with good composition, but my personal favorite is the second. Just look at his expression in that picture. Priceless. Oh, and in the background is the lovely quilt that my grandmother Dora made in 1935. Vintage doesn't get any better.

Eyelet Ruffle Hat
Clip yarn, color 196

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mommy Dearest

Okay, so perhaps I'm being a little hard on myself. . .

But really, sometimes I do feel like I just manage to stay on this side of the line between "nurturing, rational, attached mama" and "she who should be publicly flogged and not allowed to breed further."

I've been thinking, as all new bloggers must, about how I will use my blog and what it will reveal about me. Naturally, I want to use it as a venue for sharing my creative work and facilitating an exchange of ideas and encouragement with all of you wonderful knitters, crafters, makers and bakers out there in the blogisphere. However, I also want to have an outlet for sharing some of my personal trials and tribulations, particulary, but not only, as they relate to my role as mama. Shall we say, a space where I can rant now and then and perhaps some kind soul out there will make a point to tell me that I'm not alone? Of course, I have my family and friends, and they've been more than supportive, don't get me wrong. Still, and let's get down to the nitty-gritty here, it's been over 30 years since my mom had a toddler and neither one of us were a boy! My sister doesn't have any children, yet. And my mama friends, from my distorted and self-referential point-of-view, get it right more times than not. Now, I really do know that they suffer much of the same self-doubt as I do, but it's not always apparent.

So, let's state the obvious. I LOVE my son. I would NOT trade him in for another. He enriches my life immensely. For the most part, I think I succeed as a parent. I am loving and generous, I provide ample opportunities for social, emotional and intellectual stimulation and growth. But, sometimes I just SUCK. Sometimes, I want hours to myself, where I can read or craft, uninterrupted, without having to guide his activities constructively or, ahem, guiltily allow him to watch TV so that I am free to go about my business. It's usually educational, and it's rarely more than 1 1/2 hours per day, but that's already too much according to many of the "more attentive" moms out there - though less than what the doctor cautions against!

Also, I am a control freak. Yes, it's true. I like things my way, thank you very much. Hmm, but so does he. Imagine, if you will, the myriad opportunities for conflict: getting dressed, eating, brushing teeth, choosing a halloween costume, even! Often, my lesser self rears her head, the one that I don't like very much. I try to ignore her, but am not always successful. Let's not discuss the screaming, the bribes or threats, the entirely counter-productive meanness. . . I don't know you well enough, yet, for that.

I think I've said enough for now. Thank you for reading this far, I feel much better to have got that off my chest and, lest you take my words too much to heart, let me leave you with a picture and a promise to approach each day, even each moment, as a new beginning:

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sleepless In Oakland

In shining armor

En garde!

Knight Rider: Chain Mail Dress-up from New Knits on the Block by Vickie Howell.

40% completed over a one-week period at a semi-leisurely pace. 60% completed in a mad frenzy of postponed knitting over a 24-hour period.

3 hours of sleep last night, 8 hours of knitting.

Was it worth it? My little knight eagerly donned his costume this morning, wore it for three hours straight, through progressively warmer weather, without a single complaint, brandishing his sword hither and yon, and looking more perfect than I could have imagined. Yes.

I didn't manage to knit the hood, but justify this with "he probably wouldn't wear it anyway, because he's really sensitive to itchy yarn and he gets so hot that he wears short sleeves long into winter." Oy, maybe I'll crank it out in time for All Hallow's Eve. . .

Many thanks to Vickie who supplied me with a bag of the discontinued Soiree yarn that the pattern calls for! I had my heart set on this yarn as it really does look like chain mail, so I was thrilled when she came to the rescue. . . .

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Muu Muu A No No?

Yesterday, having the morning to myself, the incorrigible one not in tow, I hit a few estate sales. They were mostly a bust, except for these vintage patterns, buttons and the always welcome pie dish. I was so excited by the short muu muu that I headed straight to the fabric store and bought some lovely 30's repro "frolicking" deer fabric, picturing myself lounging around the house in my too-cute-for-a-thirty-eight-year-old house dress! Am I nuts? When my mom saw the pattern, she couldn't stop snickering. Now I'm thinking of using the fabric for the apron. . . And that yellow piece of paper underneath the pie plate? The ticket I received for driving without my seatbelt. The only time in YEARS that I have driven unbuckled longer than it takes me to pull away from the curb!

And here, hearkening to Amanda's call, is a "corner of my home," where I drink my coffee or tea, read a few pages, sew into the wee hours of the morning, and bake many pies. We three live in a one-bedroom apartment and I often bemoan not having a room of my own. This will have to do.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Should Be. . .

1. Paying more attention to my family
2. Working on the Knight's chain mail for my son's halloween costume
3. Reading Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I loved Case Histories and am excited to hear her read at Diesel, a Bookstore
4. Tackling my ever-growing stack of unread New Yorkers
5. Sleeping


I've discovered the best store ever! It's just a hop, skip and a jump throught the Caldecott tunnel. And I foresee much hopping in my future. Cotton prints, lovely wools, felt (both wool and wool blend), sewing notions, trims, wool embroidery floss - all to feed my ballooning craft habit.

A visit yesterday yielded all the bits and pieces that I'll be using for my next creation. I'll post a teaser shot later. . .

Meanwhile, Sam would like to say hello.

He's a sharp-dressed man:

Rosie's pleased as punch to have a new friend. . . and, ahem, a new nose.

Monday, October 16, 2006

You Are An Obsession

With a trip to the sewing store to get my grandmother's Singer tuned up, many hours of frustration, and much foul muttering, I have overcome my fear of sewing. I also stayed up until 4:30 in the morning as a result - so there is a tradeoff. I'll have more self-made crafts, but also baggy eyes. You can blame Hillary for her lovely patterns. Once started, I cannot stop. Bear is up next!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Yarn Habit

There is much yarn buying, some dyeing and not enough knitting happening around here. This is soon to change. I promise. When it does you will hear more from me.