Sunday, June 14, 2009

On Socks, Friendship and Being Really Happy

Who knew? The concept was simple- I'd reward those who took the time to think about what was happening in their lives and make a list of things they want to do. I got a good response- about 5 or six...
But what I REALLY got was the most fun birthday ever. About a week before my birthday, I got a pair of handmade socks in the mail- from a mystery person who turned out to be my niece, Connie. Then I kept getting socks!!They just kept coming! It was fun, it was touching. It was the coolest idea! Thank you, again to everyone who played along with the Sock Conspiracy! But mostly thank you, Sue- for waking me up.
Now, don't get me wrong- I'm a fun person, and I have lots of good ideas, and my family (none of whom spend too many hours surfing around the art quilt and knitting blogs) think I'm pretty special for all the things I make. And making pretty things gives me a lot of satisfaction. But I've been asleep for the last six months or so- Curled up in my nest with my latest project in hand- I found a little spot on my couch, with my dogs at my feet and Project Runway on Netflix, and I've been knitting my life away.
But when those socks kept coming, and every day was fun and exciting- it put me in such a good mood! I'm a happy person, but this past week was special- and I want to hang onto it!
I have always used my mid-year birthday as a chance for new resolutions- a Mulligan for New Year's- starting each year of my life with the determination to make something of it. This is my year to...
Get up and get out! Take a yoga class or a workshop on shibori dying. Find the "outer me"- Get busy being active, go places and do things! I'll report back!!
Thanks again to all of you- I love this blog and I love the comments. Have a great week!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

50+ things to do/celebrate.

My "new best friend" Patti Digh has a wonderful blog that I visit when I can. She also has this wonderful book that makes my heart sing- Life is a Verb. You should check them both out.
Without knowing it- she has challenged me in many ways- to live my life as fully as humanly possible, to not let the Little Blues turn into Big Blues- to smile and sing and dance in my car.

Another challenge as my 57th birthday slides around, is to ask myself what I haven't done yet that I want to do- this isn't really meant as a bucket list, but as a way of acknowledging that there are lots of things I have always wanted to do, and since I love to make lists...
In absolutely NO order at all:
1. Get lots of stamps in my passport. Italy and Ireland are at the top of that list of place to go.
2.Learn to spin- not as in around in circles, I do that a lot already- as in making yarn.
3. In my secret heart I would love to go to base camp at Mt Everest.
4. I would love to be fit enough to go to base camp at Mt Everest.
5. I would like it a lot if my dogs were well-trained enough to take the park, off-leash. Or just be able to take both of them for a walk by myself! Jep is too strong for me.
6.I'd like to be good at Photoshop- and not have to ask Sean for help whenever I need to do something.(but I love it when he shows me stuff- HOW does he know that?)
7. I'd love to have a front yard like my friend Pam.

8. Quails. How to raise them, how to keep them safe from hawks... if my neighbors can do chickens, I should be able to do a neighborhood flock of quails, or is the plural 'quail'?
9.Learn how to throw pots on a wheel. Check- I ALWAYS wanted to learn this, and I did!
10.Blog once a week.
11. Spend a whole summer at the beach- in a house by the water- and watch good weather and
bad from my balcony overlooking the ocean. Think I'll need a little help with this one!
12. Publish. Something. In print- I guess blogging kindof counts, but I'd like to actually publish something on paper .
13. Be able to recognize classical composers- as in- "I LOVE this sonata by Chopin", and not- "gee this is nice music, wonder who it is?"
14. Half of me wants to be a better housekeeper and never leave dishes in the sink after working all day and falling asleep on the couch at 8pm.
15. The other half of me wants to be a person whose life is free and open enough that she can go to bed without doing the dishes and not feel guilty.
16.Have more grandchildren. No pressure here, Luke and Sean, but grand kids are the best reason in the world to be alive. (Your own kids are pretty neat, too!) Thanks for making my life so wonderful, Zoe and Noah.
17. Grow really good tomatoes, without those little spots on them, organically, NO chemicals
18. Learn how to shear a sheep.
19. Then learn how to make a fleece into a sweater.
20. Learn how to make socks. I KNOW how to do it, but I want to be good enough at it that it's fun, and not frustrating!
21. Make socks with interesting cables and vines and stuff, not just straight stockinette
22. Be able to speak another language ( goes along with #1) Wouldn't it be cool to understand what they're saying on the Amelie soundtrack?
23. Have a huge family reunion, with everyone on both sides of everyone's families!
24. Camp in the Blue Ridge mountains, tent camping- none of that namby pamby stuff.
25. Learn to play bridge, and have friends that play, like my mom did.
26. Learn to paint, not as in painting woodwork, I'm pretty good at that, as in paint a picture.
27. Learn to draw horses. OK, this has been on a lot of lists, ever since 4th grade. STILL can't do it, but Zoe said I could borrow her book on How To Draw Horses- so I think this is my year!

28. Holy !@#$ I'll never get all this stuff done!

29. Learn how to sit back and relax, and maybe just watch movies all day on a Saturday. (This probably will never happen;))
30. Have a huge party in a field somewhere (with decent bathroom facilities) and invite everyone I've ever loved. From childhood until now. LOTS of good food and good wine. And music by talented guitar players, and good harmonies.
31. Drive an ecologically responsible car.
32. Always remember my shopping bags, and never have to use plastic bags again.
33. Make everything I give for Christmas, and have everyone happy I did.
34. Keep working at a job I love until I have enough money to do #1.
35. Maybe do #34 part-time, so I have time to do all this other stuff!
36. Ride a roller coaster- go figure! I've never done that!
37. Have a quilt accepted in a major competition.
38. Finish the three quilts I have in different stages of design and completion currently.
39.Wouldn't it be nice to not NEED to sleep? Maybe I could learn to get by on less than 8 hours!?
40. Have prescription sunglasses, or better yet- those Transition glasses!

41.Ya gotta hear this song

42. Go sledding down a looong hill like we used to at Lake Oconomowoc.
43. Share Harry Potter with my grand kids- wait! I've done that!
44. Be really good at listening.
45. Even when I'm distracted.
46. Be able to swing dance with Walter at our 60th anniversary party
47. Learn to swing dance.
48. Almost there! I can do it!
49. Hire someone to do the weeding, I hate to weed. How can you call yourself a gardener if you hate to weed? Gardening is 80% weeding!

50. Have a formal herb garden, and dry my herbs for the winter (which, as we all know is brutal in Raleigh NC)
51. Be able to get up from sitting on the floor without holding onto anything!
52. Learn how to make my eyes up like Megan- all dark and smoky
53. Stop smoking- wait! I did this 3 years ago! Good for me! Now to help everyone I love quit!
54. Learn to play a musical instrument- drum doesn't count.
55. I guess I would also need to learn to read music, then!
56. All the good stuff's taken- maybe learn to download music? Legally, of course.

57. Take each day and make it the best day ever. Each and every one!

58. Have a one woman art show- or- even, be in an art show...
59. Go to art school

60. I would really like to learn how to help angry, frustrated people see that there is so much beauty in the world , there's not enough time to be pissed off.

Phew! I didn't think I'd finish the list!!
So there you have it my friends- my list. I KNOW with all my heart that I am well on my way to many of these- some are already accomplished- But I love it that I have a list- of what's important to me. I challenge you to make a list- start with 10 things- leave it in the comments and I'll choose one randomly and send you a pair of socks- Knit by me, of course! In my never ending attempt to accomplish #20.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Let Me Make You Something

This week we had flurry of activity over on Facebook- a twenty-something friend posted an offer to make something for the first 5 people who responded. They, in turn, promised to make something for 5 people and so on and so on. There were rules, which was smart. What I loved loved loved- was that the people who responded, for the most part, aren't really people I think of when I think 'made by hand'. Young people, busy with getting their lives under way, or young families. Willing to take the time out to create. And looking forward to sharing what they make!!
The rules state no hints- so I can't tell you what I'm making. I'm very excited about it, but my lips are sealed. What I REALLY can't wait to see is what presents I get, made with love, and offered in a spirit of mid year giving! This is soo much fun- like swapping fabric, only 100% better, because of the people involved.
So I thought I'd challenge anyone who didn't get in on the fun, and wants to, to 'Pay it Forward" Find a few people you want to surprise with something special, and promise yourself to make or do something for them as a surprise. If you want "The Rules" from the Facebook project, e-mail me, or you can make up your own. It's yours to do with what you want. I think if each of us took the time to put something of ourselves out there, with no expectations of being 'paid back', the world will benefit. Who knows? I believe, with all my heart, that the most effective change we can bring about in this world is in the one-on-one- the ripple effect- we influence most the people whose lives we touch personally. Small things make a difference.
I thought I'd post a few random pics of works in progress, and a couple of completed things, that I don't think I've posted. FYI- no hints here, people.

This is a "disappearing nine-patch" made with a prepackaged charm packet- pre-cut 5 inch squares- assembled into a nine patch (4 nine patches, actually) then cut in quarters and reassembled. A fun project on a rainy Sunday, when Mother Nature said "No, you can't do yard work today, go to your room!"

A pic of my Birdie Sling- made with awesome Alexander Henry fabric, and embroidered on the strap. I used this all winter as a handbag, but it's really too big for me. I got tired of hunting for things, so now I use it as a knitting bag. When I make this again, I'll make more pockets.

And, last but not least- my seedlings! I've been channeling my Dad, Ernie, this Spring. I have baby tomatoes (way too many) and peppers and basil, something called 'bunny grass' and impatiens. But I must admit, with those little peat pellets and trays, and a sunny window, this has been a pretty easy project. My dad used to sterilize the dirt in the oven (yup, in the oven, in the big roasting pan- the same one he used for his famous ham!) and he had an amazing array of grow lights in the basement. I wish I knew what happened to that cold frame he built. His compost pile was the talk of the neighborhood. And the garden he planted out back was amazing! I miss you, Dad.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mom, Just Knit or Something

What a few weeks it has been. We have had sick kids, and sick grown-ups - and sick patients at work, and sick co-workers, Snow in March in NC (first in 20 years I think) and now it's 81 degrees and we're planning on cooking out.

I played along with a swap on sew Mama Sew and got some very cool fabric. It was such fun to get presents in te mail- and to package up my little gifts to send out to strangers. I found my way off the couch and back into the studio.

While sitting around waiting for test results, and processing some potential bad news, a few quiet thoughts slipped into my consciousness- I started thinking about how valuable busy work of any sort is. I'm not talking about creative work here. I'm talking about the knitting project that is simple and to the point, straight-stockinette-on-circular-needles kind of busy work. Baby hats, simple stuff. Cleaning is like that , too- scrubbing down the appliances, washing the floor. Or ironing and folding your fabric stash. Simple , almost monotonous tasks that allow your mind to process and absorb.
I think we forget about how much good there is in this type of activity. Years ago, my middle son was in a bad accident and while we were waiting to hear back from the police, I was in a terrible state. My youngest son, then 15 or 16- said-" Mom- just knit or something" wise words that I have taken to heart and made into a mantra for stress.
Handwork is a perfect stress buster. It allows you to think about the problems and then to let it be absorbed by the universe- Some people ( never me) use exercise this way. I love work that is simple and productive. Ironing fat quarters, polishing silver- weeding ( altho there's that whole aching back aspect to weeding...) It's almost as if by bringing some order to one aspect of your life you can control all the other stuff- things over which, we all know, you have no control.

It occurs to me that this aspect of my personality was cultivated as a child.
Perhaps the best present I ever got was the McCall's Giant Make It Book-
I learned how to knit from this book- as my mom wouldn't teach me cause she knit 'backwards'. I was 10. I wore this book out! I can vividly remember the hours I spent on the projects in this book. About the same age I became responsible for ironing my Dad's hankies ( see the fat quarter connection? ) Those sweet days of childhood were pretty much trouble free, at least in hind sight- but the tasks learned translated so well into adulthood, it makes you wonder where our kids and grand kids will find comfort in their lives.

On the topic of grand kids... I found a wonderful idea at this site- Artsy Mama- garlands made from whatever- paper, cardboard, or fabric and displayed for all to see. Zoe and Noah- get your markers out! I'm seeing big flowers tacked onto a ribbon, decorated with abandon by all the kids, big and little. Perhaps a note on each of gratitude for the things we can share with each other.

Also wanted to thank the ladies who played along on the Sew Mama sew swap- The fabrics were beautiful, but finding your blogs was priceless.

The new week promises some answers to our worries, days of sunshine and hopefully some healing bodies. But if it brings concern and worry, at least I have my knitting and the weeding!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

When I started to blog- I wanted to have a place to play show and tell- to motivate me to FINISH my projects, and hopefully connect with others doing the same kind of work. Blogging is a funny thing- it morphs and changes- family things take precedence for a while, as does the monotony of making a living. "Get up get out' has been my motto for the last few months. The loop of home and work with time for little else.

So I'm going to try and get back into some of the fun stuff- the Valentines ornaments and sweet little baby hats. I am still working on Circus Girl- well, in reality, she's languishing in my studio- but I have been influenced by Spirit Cloth's approach to quilting and it's taking a while for my ideas to percolate and develop. But today I will work on borders and bring her downstairs for embroidering.

I started a new project yesterday. I went to Yarnbirds and spent way too much money on a simple vest- but it will be beautiful and I think it will get much wear. I am winging this one- I did my swatch and got 3.5 stitches to the inch on size 10s and did some math to determine my cast on- to fit around my ample butt- and will knit for a while and then figure out the armholes. I'll shape it a bit as I make my way up to the armholes and bust- But the yarn is so beautiful it will carry the show. It's a cotton boucle- very light and airy in spite of it's bulky yarn status. I think it will be perfect for Raleigh- maybe a three season garment- in the blues that I love so much.

Also on my list of FunToDo- I'm going to be making some baby bibs. A certain beautiful boy who lives in NJ will be needing dribble bibs soon , and I want to send some up to him, and another niece is having a baby, so blankets and bibs are in order! As well as making up some of the Koolaid dyed yarn into baby hats.

Time spent at the computer does not translate well into finished objects- so I will go and get something done.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What's a post without pictures?

Facebook has changed the way I see things. I admit- it can be an incredible waste of time. But it also connects us. It makes it possible to know what's going on in a friend's life thousands of miles away. You get to see videos of precious babies cooing and laughing- and little guys playing in the snow- and hear about engagements and see wedding pics. It's an amazing tool for far-flung friends. And aren't we all far flung? I get wrapped up in the doings of friends in California- or New Jersey and I spend my mental energy on them. So, my friends, I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while- I am going to try and be better about that. I'm changing the look of the blog a little, and hope to spend a little more time here than I have been.
We are now in the middle of winter. For us, that's not such a bad thing- the occasional chance of snow, and lots of grey days, but the occasional amazing day. Today promises to be such a day. The temp in the 70's and we'll be able to cook out for Sunday dinner with everyone here. Yard work is beckoning- the leaves that we didn't rake last fall- the tidying of the gardens that wasn't done. And the promise under the leaves of fresh dirt- of the buds on the forsythia and kids riding their bikes in the cul de sac. Winter makes us feel like we need to go inside and reserve our strength, I love winter because I can start projects and knit handwarmers, and hats- because my studio gets organized and cleaned up- and I sit at the kitchen table with a cuppa tea a lot more often. I spend more time with Walter, and we discover new music together, and watch more movies. So winter is good. Knitting is good. So is sewing in all it's forms.
But Spring? It's WONDERFUL. Not just good- but wonder-full. There are more birds singing in the warmth this weekend is offering us. There aren't many flowers yet- but there are buds on the dogwoods and the daffodil spears are forcing their way through the dried leaves of last fall. There is promise here. It may be a while before we see the incredible beauty of spring in North Carolina- and I bet there are some very cold mornings ahead. But today we can take the dogs to the park, and cook out for Jaime's birthday, and celebrate our hope. I hope that if you are trapped in melting snows, or winter rains- you can look forward to the promise of spring. Go to Costco and get a bunch of tulips and put them in a mason jar and enjoy the hopefulness of the coming season.