Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return." (Ash Wednesday blessing, Genesis 3:19)

So I am exactly one week late with my Ash Wednesday post, but it's been a pretty crazy week. I have so much going on at work these days, that I've been working 10-plus hours every day. It's very tiring. But I am about to take a 5-day vacation to my parents' place in Phoenix, so I am looking forward to relaxing, sitting by the pool, catching up on blog reading, and knitting!

When I read about Annie hosting 40 Days for Others, a Lenten knit-for-charity project, I was all over it. Knitting and Lent: perfect. I usually don't give up much for Lent. We already don't eat that much meat, so going meatless is not that much of a sacrifice.

Instead, I try to do something. This year I joined our parish faith sharing group and my husband became the sponsor for a guy going through RCIA. And he and I committed to reading the Book of Samuel (because that is the name we have chosen for our adoptive son. See a small little positive update on my adoption blog.)

So I also decided to knit for charity this Lent. I plan to use some of my wool and wool blend stash to make mitten, hat and scarf sets for the homeless women at this cool shelter in Chicago. Here's my first set (one mitten still needs a flower--pattern here). I've started my second set already. There are so many charity knitting and crafting projects out there, and crafters seem to be so generous.

Finally, because I know someone's going to ask for it, yes, you can buy the pattern for the knitted Jesus here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

P&B Swap: What I sent

"I see my light come shining, from the west unto the east. Any day now, any day now, I shall be released." (Bob Dylan)

This is kind of belated, but Selena at Apron Thrift Girl did receive my package and posted my goodies. I took pictures before I mailed it too, so here they are. The craft supplies were some XO ribbon, some bias tape seam binding, and a pink cross stitch napkin. I found tons of stuff at the thrift shop, including that really cute dish towel with pink and brown candies on it (above) and a little leather-like jewelry box.

I also found two pink and brown turtlenecks: one in hopefully a Selena size, and one for her daughter.

A few extra little goodies: chocolate candy hearts, a Shirley Temple DVD, a Japanese mug with Sweet and Spicy Tea.

And, of course, my handmade item was a recycled wool sweater purse and flower!

My two non-relative Etsy customers have posted their purchases. Check out the cute felted flower pin bought by Chic Chick. Then today I learned I won her blogversary giveaway of a cool painting (which I was drawn to because it features my signature motif: the spiral). How lucky can I get?
My first Etsy customer to buy a purse was Eran at This Vintage Chica, and she posted her purchase, too. She and I are hoping to go thrifting together one day soon, since she only lives an hour north of Chicago. But we'll have to do it soon, as she's moving in late spring. She also just started her own Etsy shop, where she sells vintage items. Funny thing: She has a bunch of cute pink and brown stuff (tablecloth, fabric, apron to die for!).
Oh, and my own Etsy shop has been updated with another new purse and three new felt flowers.

Monday, February 19, 2007

China and fabric

"In the depth of winter, I discovered within myself an invincible summer." (French philosopher Albert Camus)

So I had a successful trip to the Salvation Army on Montrose again. Two weeks after I found these Temporama bowls and salad plates I found three dinner-sized plates. I'm going to sell them all on ebay this week. I like them, but certainly don't need any more china, and apparently they're collectible. I also found this Fireking cup (above), which also should bring some cash in on ebay. It's kind of fun learning what's collectible and trying to make some profit on my thrifting. It's hard to part with stuff sometimes, but our small, 1,200-square-foot (if that!) condo makes it easier. I also found some designer linens worth reselling, too.

Now onto stuff I'm keeping--fabric, of course. Look at that cute curtain with patridges (I think) and little Dutch people like Sarah keeps finding. That cute print on the right is also an old curtain. Love the pink puppy (and I'm not even a dog lover).

I have an addiction to fabric with fruits and veggies on it, and this dish towel on the left satified my craving this week. On the right are two pillowcases. I love the colors in the stripe.

This is all fabric remnants: (from left) a summery madras plaid in pink, orange and yellow; aa doggie print, some Waverly pink print, and then pink felt.

On Friday Ed and I watched Downfall, a really compelling German movie about Hitler's last days. Leave it to my husband to pick out a 2 1/2-hour movie with subtitles! I love foreign films, but I can't knit and read them at the same time. Then on Saturday, while babysitting our friends' little boy, Lincoln, we watched Thank You for Smoking, which was good, too. Two and a half stars (Downfall is definitely four.)

We also started the Great Bathroom Remodel of 2007 this weekend. I'll post photos later. We're currently in the middle of it and sharing a bathroom. Wish us luck--we credit two bathrooms with saving our marriage!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pink and brown love

Stopping is a spiritual art. It is the refuge where we drink life in. (Sue Monk Kidd, Firstlight)

First a note about the quote above: Most people know Sue Monk Kidd through her fiction: the bestsellers The Secret Life of Bees and more recently The Mermaid Chair. But I first became a fan through her non fiction, which is just as deep and thought-provoking, if not more. I highly recommend The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and When the Heart Waits (especially if you're in or approaching midlife). This new collection of her early inspirational writings (mostly from Guideposts magazine) is also good. Btw, I also had the pleasure of interviewing her for U.S. Catholic a few years ago (read that interview here) and she was extremely nice!

Now, on to the pink and brown love I received this week from Selena, better known as Apron Thrift Girl. Look at all that sweetness! You will notice she was a little heavy on the pink, which suits me just fine. I must tell you that I was PMSing when I opened this box and was overcome with joy to see chocolate and other sweets (pink grapefuit Mentos!) in there because I was having a craving and there was nothing sweet in the house.

Some highlights: This incredibly cute hand-felted (from roving?), hand-stitched book where I can keep track of my "Thrifted Finds." This is so cool. I would love to know how she made it. As readers of her blog know, Selena is always in the thrift stores and she found me some amazing things: that lovely crocheted rose potholder (matches these!), recipe cards from Current (I used to sell these as a kid), and a hand-stitched table runner.

I had to laugh when she sent me pink and brown bias tape, because I sent her the same thing. She also included some vintage brown buttons. But the best ( you can see it in the background) is a pink floral Vera scarf! I've just started collecting a few Vera pieces and am so excited to be able to add to my collection.
Am I forgetting anything? Oh, yes, the cute pink mugs, the pink and brown nail file, the heart-shaped pink and brown playing cards, some paper dolls, a pink flowered paper tablecloth. Serena, thank you so much for your generosity. It was fun being swap partners.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Real love

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." (Jesuit priest Pedro Arrupe)

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Thanks to a blizzard yesterday and today, I was spared a business trip to Washington D.C. Instead I got a snow day yesterday and got some crafting done (more purses and flowers to be posted here soon). In other exciting etsy news, I sold my first purse to the lovely woman with this blog. So that's three sales and counting. Woo-hoo! Thank you Vintage Chica!

No big plans for V-Day, just a nice quiet dinner with my husband. We don't exchange gifts on such holidays, but I always ask for a nice, mushy card. I did get this lovely Valentine (below) from this crafty woman. I love the crepe paper and the glitter! She and I exchanged Valentines, and I sent her the (what else?) felt stuffed heart above. I also made those for my sister and my mom (I don't exchange gifts with my lover but I do with my sister and mom! But of course, we exchange gifts for every little holiday.) I made myself a similar one but sewed buttons all over it, but I forgot to take a photo.

On Valentine's Day I am so grateful for the man who loves me every day, no matter how grouchy I am. I always remember how hard this day (and every day) was when I was alone. So today I remember all those men and women without great romantic relationships. May they find their soulmates soon!

P.S. Crafty note: Tutorial for heart-shaped yo-yos here. I've still never made rounds ones yet, so maybe I should wait for these advanced ones.

Monday, February 12, 2007

X-C Skiing

"Silence somehow reaches to the root of our human problem.... Words help to strengthen the illusions with which we surround, protect, and comfort ourselves; without silence, we will not get any closer to knowing who we are before God." (Rowan Williams, Where God Happens)

I just returned from a super relaxing weekend at my parents' house in Wisconsin. They were away downhill skiing with my sister and her family at Mont Tremblant in Montreal. Ed and I are watching our pennies, so we skipped that trip and instead hung out at my parents', went cross-country skiing and walked across the frozen lake. It was so nice to get out of the city and just kick back and relax. My parents gave us cross country skis last year and this was the first chance we got to try them out. I also did some knitting and will share that later this week. Hint: it's something felted... and pink!

I also spent a considerable amount of time (when not watching this and this on TMC and AMC)--both coincidentally with a theme of being trapped) catching up on blog reading. So much lovely creativity out there:

:: These adorable groundhog cupcakes at Felt Mouse. I'll have to remember those for next year.

:: This cute Valentine quilt block with buttons

:: This creative felt box from Applehead. Might make a nice Easter basket. I have a few Eastery ideas in mind already. One involves a bunny.

:: Two books I'm adding to my wish list: Heart Felt Wool Applique by Lorinda Lie and Knitted flowers by Nicky Epstein

Finally, two announcements:

:: The instructions for Made for China are up on Kidding Around's website. I've signed up to make a blanket. I've also learned that this blogger lives in the same Chicago suburb as my sister. So who knows, I may deliver my blanket in person.

:: I sold two items from my etsy shop! (OK, so one was to my aunt but still...) My husband has convinced me that my price for the purses is too high, especially as I am a new seller. So I've dropped my price to more closely match what I've been selling them to my friends for--$32. But I'm going to say the free shipping ends Feb. 15.

I'll have a Valentine's post soon and then will share the loot from my Pink and Brown Swap!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Free shipping!

"Every barrier she ever chafed at was just a Chinese finger lock that opened instantly when she stopped pulling." (The Echo Maker: A Novel, by Richard Powers)

Yes, more purses. I have updated my new etsy shop so there is more selection there for any of your shoppers out there. And, as a special introductory offer, just for all you lovely people who are so kind as to read this blog, I will offer free shipping on any item in my shop (yes, even you international people!) Just leave me a comment or email me at: and let me know what item you're interested in, and I can arrange to edit the listing for free shipping.

Thanks for all the positive comments about the new shop. I'm excited--although nothing has sold yet! Really, I'm just testing the waters with online sales. Meanwhile, I'm trying to make enough purses to be able to have a booth at a craft fair next fall. My inventory keeps growing!

Meanwhile, I had two creative ideas in the shower last night (does anyone else have these "aha!" moments in the shower like I do? I used to write all the leads to my stories there!) for some special Easter-themed felted items. To be continued...

I'm heading out to the Post Office now to mail my Pink and Brown swap package. Today is the deadline, and my partner was Selena of Apron Thrift Girl. I hope she likes the things I've sent here. This little flower is just a hint... (And there's one in the etsy shop, too!)
Hope everyone is having a good week and staying warm. It's been subzero here for days but we Chicagoans are die-hards. Just put on another scarf and pretend like it's any other day.

Religious items free

"The wealth of a city is its people." (Harmond Wilkes, character in Radio Golf, the August Wilson play Ed and I saw Friday night at the Goodman Theater)

Get ready for lots of loot photos. While at Salvation Army last week I briefly wandered in the china aisle looking for Japanese mugs, then saw these plates with what looked like a funky retro 50s look. So I bought the five bowls and three plates for $6.50, thinking it could be a learning experience. Turns out they are Temporama, a pretty collectible pattern made by Canonberg Pottery. I'm going to sell these on ebay, where they should fetch about $20 or more. Woo-hoo!

This saucer also had a retro "atomic" print but no writing on the back, so I have no idea if it resellable or not. But for 40 cents, I liked it.

Even better is this funky ashtray, I think. I plan to use it as a candle holder. Cute.

Friday was my "every other Friday off" so I went to an estate sale in Lincolnwood, the first suburb north and west, near Skokie. Lots of ranch houses out there, but also some tear-downs where they have built huge brick mansions. It looks funny. On a day it was 0 degrees, some 40 people showed up before I did, 10 minutes after they gave out numbers. So I went and got coffee, came back, stood outside (!) and waited about 10-15 minutes to get in. I wasn't hopeful, but found some cool stuff, including six aprons, buried in the linen closet. These two above are gingham with cross stitch. I've got quite a few of those kind now.

Two more aprons: They were $2 each, which is really no bargain. I probably should have been more selective and not bought all of them. I occasionally find aprons at the thrift store for 40 cents.

This one is my favorite with the yellow and teal and rick rack. The red one is the fancy see-through kind, which is not my fave. I like the cotton ones.

I picked up the tablecloth for the fabric and grabbed these two crocheted potholders. Aren't they cute? They need a soak in oxi. And what about this great metal platter: My home state with lots of towns highlighted. Love it!

I bought this bunch of trims because the curtain pull-backs looked like they might match my drapes and they do. It also came with a bunch of these strung-together pom pons. Not sure what to do with that, but it looked fun and was $1 for all of it.

Finally, as I was waiting in line to check out, I saw a sign that said "Religious items free" with a bunch of crucifixes and other stuff. I picked up this framed prayer, two St. Christopher medals and a little pearl-covered prayer book in Polish. Does no one collect religious items? Did they really think someone wouldn't pay 50 cents for this stuff? Or maybe the sellers have a rule against selling religious items? I don't know.

I spent something like $22 for everything (not shown: a hat box, cashmere sweater). Am I just really lucky, or do most people find this much good stuff at estate sales?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Etsy shop open!!!!!

"Work of the eyes is done, now/ go and do heart work/ on all the images imprisoned in you." (Ranier Maria Rilke, "Turning Point" from The Selected Poetry of Ranier Maria Rilke)
Well, friends, I made my goal: As of today, right now, my new etsy shop is open. Click here to check it out! I currently have four purses for sale there, and will be adding four more (at least) over the next few eays. So if any of those grab your fancy, act quickly--or check back in a few days to see if you like the new ones better.

I can tell you that there are some cute pink ones (including a pink and brown one--inspired by the swap) coming soon. Also some more in earthy tones, and a fun orange and teal stripe. There are so many great sweaters out there just screaming to be made into funky bags!

I have to say, I found etsy's set-up pretty user friendly. We'll see how it goes when I actually have a sale. I've been selling these almost as fast as I can make them to people I know here in Chicago, but I'm excited to try to see if the "general public" out there in online land likes them.
Finally a special thank you to everyone who have sent me so many sweet messages and comfort about our continuing adoption saga. I really means so much to me that all these "strangers" (not really) are supporting me during this tough time. And thanks for all your crafty support, too. I would have never opened an online store without all your cheers along the way!