Monday, April 30, 2007

Spring Fling--Sent

"In the heavens are parents single? / No, the thought makes reason stare. / Truth is reason: truth eternal / tells me I've a mother there." (Mormon hymn "O My Father")

Well, Nancy at Imaginary Fronds has received my package from the Spring Fling Swap, so I can go ahead and post what I sent her. I wasn't a big fan of pink & green back in the preppie 80s, but I really like the color combo now. So I was happy to try these two colors in one of my recycled felted sweater purses for my swap partner. (I made a second one that I was going to sell, but it already found a home with my sister-in-law! I could do another one, though, if anyone's interested. I have some cool pink ties.)

It was a stretch to make my items fit the S-P-R-I-N-G thing, but here's how I did it:

S: Stitched table runner (& a paper tablecloth)
P: Purse (handmade from thrifted/felted sweater)
R: Ribbon (with cute spring motif)
I: Interesting apron made from a towel
N: Nice storage containers
G: Gum ( in pink & green, no less)

I kept to the swap rules of six items and spending about $20. When I saw how other swappers are sending way more stuff, I felt sort of lame. But since Nancy is behind and hasn't sent my package yet, I hope she keeps it to not too many items.

I really like the swaps organized by Rebecca and Lucy. Both times they have challenged me to work with color combos I wouldn't have otherwised tried. (Last time it was pink and brown.) I definitely plan to join their next swap.

Gotta go and watch Part I of this PBS special on the Mormons. (As a feminist theologian, I'm intrigued by this theology of the "Heavenly Mother," thus the quote above.)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

For the children

"Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten." (Natasha Bedingfield, "Unwritten")

This package arrived from Rebecca last week. I bought that adorable crocheted cupcake pincushion (already in use) from her new Goodness Shop (only $3!!!) and she not only sent me some vintage blue rickrack as a little extra, but also this lovely hand-crocheted bonnet "For Sam," as the card said.

I know some of you read this blog for crafty news and inspiration, but many have hopped over to Dear Sam and Sophie and have followed our adoption journey, too. I am so appreciative for all the words of encouragement and support. Seriously, some days they really help me get out of bed and keep going. Even though I'm not very good at responding to comments, I really appreciate all your kind words. And, Rebecca, this is above and beyond. I was so touched that I burst into tears. As I told her, I haven't been able to knit or make anything for my own kids yet, because it's too painful to think that it's real, when it keeps getting pulled away from us. So it really means a lot to me that others are believing for me, when I seem to be losing faith.

Speaking of adoption journeys, I hosted a shower for my friend Karen (toward the back of this awful photo) last night. She and her husband leave for Ethiopia next week to pick up their 3-year-old twins Max and Mari (their photo is on the table with the flowers). Of course our Women's Group doesn't just do a "shower," instead we had a full-blown ritual and blessing of Karen as a mother and blessings and wishes for her children. It was a really nice evening, with catered Ethiopian food from my favorite restaurant here in Chicago and lots of wine.
There is craft news from the night: We all drew a symbol of a wish for their new family on a piece of solid color African cloth, and I'm going to somehow piece them with some African print fabric into a wall hanging for the kids' room. Stay tuned. And I gave Karen an (unfinished) sweater for Max, just like the one I did for her first shower almost a year ago. This one is a really pretty pumkin orange (again out of the Thick & Chunky Wool-ease) and with a pattern that is full of mistakes, which I had rework all over again because I lost the sheet with my notes from last time. I hope to post thos FOs before Mother's Day, which is when Ed and I pick them up from the airport.
**Oh, I also sold two purses last night to my good friend Suzanne.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fabric haul

"It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection." (from the Bhagavad Gita, cited in Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert)

This is from a couple weeks ago, a visit to the Village Thrift, where I have so much luck finding linens. (My favorite Salvation Army recently reorganized their store and has fewer linens now.) Lucikly I also found a nice old suitcase to put them all in! In addition to the usual floral pillowcases, draperies and nice remnants of old sewing projects,

I found a few aprons (not pictured) for only 40 cents. I usually pay about $1 for any fabric at this place, a little less for a pillowcase and a little more for drapery.

My collection has gotten so big that it's time to start using my fabric for more than just purse linings. And, thanks to a wonderful find this trip, I have an idea.

A hint: It involves those two adorable pillowcases with Richard Scarry prints on them--my best score this trip. I love Lowly Worm! I'm hoping to make a little pair of pants and embelish a onesie for Sam.

Can yoy believe these flute-playing crickets? What can I do with that?

Love that pink and red curtain. And those napkins are from Williams Sonoma.

You can never have too many floral pillowcases, right? What's your favorite from my latest fabric haul?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Coffee Klatch

"I have had no other masters than the beeches and the oaks." (St. Bernard of Clarivaux, who never celebrated Earth Day, but apparently got the gist)

I used to be a total coffee addict. As a reporter at a daily newspaper, I arrived in the morning and prompty drank pretty much a whole pot in the first hour or two of work. Then I continued to drink several more cups throughout the day. The only problem was the massive headaches I got on the weekend. So about 15 years ago I went cold turkey. Now I have to be careful to avoid caffeine in anything or else I get the trembles and racing thoughts all night. But I'm still addicted to coffee, though now it's just one or two cups of decaf a day.

So ever since I saw Betz White's cute Cup O'Joe pincushions out of felted sweater scraps, I knew I wanted to make one. The pincushion swap organized by Tiff at Folded Ginham was the perfect excuse to try. About a month ago Betz was on Martha Stewart demonstrating how to make these, and while I watched it briefly, I didn't really pay attention. So by the time I sat down to make this, the clip was no longer on the website and I had to wing it.

It turned out pretty decent, although I should not be allowed around a glue gun. I glued on the brown I-cord piping handle and trim around the "saucer," but there were globs of glue showing. So then I had to handstitch the cording trim to tuck in the glue. I also think I didn't do the "whipped cream" right; I think Tiff's on her pincushion cake looks better than this.

Still, I'm pretty happy with it, and I even made a second one for myself, but I haven't finished it yet. I was part of a threesome for the swap, and I my "sending" swap partner has probably already sent mine but I haven't been home to receive it. Tiff was my "receiving" partner.

We're still in Philadelphia, enjoying my husband's family and the summer-like weather. However, we got news today of a potentially very serious adoption problem. I'll take any prayers that it's not as dire as it sounds.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


“Vocation puts an end to you in order to disclose your true end.” (Richard Lischer)

I accidentally posted this yesterday when I meant to save it as a draft, so many of you may be wondering who this adorable little girl is. She my niece, Elena, my husband's brother and sister-in-law's little girl, who was baptized last weekend in Kentucky. A few more photos of our weekend are here.

This whole week, as our country mourns the loss of so much promise in the young lives of the Virginia Tech students, I keep thinking how awful this must be for their parents. But I also feel bad for the parents of the shooter; how they must be grieving in a particularly horrible way. Then the next day 200 people lost their lives in Iraq, and I find myself just overcome by the waste of all this God-given life. In the homily at her baptism, the priest at the UK Newman Center hoped that Elena's generation might live in a world without war, that by then the powers-that-be will have found a better way to solve disputes. I hope so.

There is knitting content to this post: the little white sweater Elena wore at her baptism was knitted by yours truly. Her mom is requesting another one. I hope to choose a pattern from this book.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Deep thoughts

"The journey is the reward." (Chinese proverb)

I was tagged by Connie at Simply Quilted, who honored me with a "Thinking Blogger Award"--which is really just a meme asking you to link to five (though Connie did 10 because she was tagged twice!) blogs that make you think. I'll take a stab at it:

1. Probably one of the most inspiring craft blogs I enjoy is the one by Betz White, a fellow Wisconsin crafter whose favorite medium is recycled wool felt sweaters. She was recently on the Martha Stewart show and demonstrated one of her coffee cup pincushions, which I recently tried to recreate.

2. My favorite knitting blogger is Purl Needlemeyer at Knit and Plenty. Her blog is even more creative than her knitting (a compliment to her blog, not a slam on her knitting!) This woman even wrote a bunch of knitting Christmas carols and she has the best Photoshopped graphics. If you're looking to organize your knitting projects, she also sells a "Gettin' Knit" kit.

3. I'm probably not the first person to give Crazy Aunt Purl a Thinking Blog Award. Although I can't relate to the cat-love posts, I can to her honest reflections on finding yourself after divorce. And she's funny while doing it!

4. I haven't been reading too many adoption blogs, because I get too sad seeing other people getting their children, but Mrs. Broccoli Guy is so honest about life with her newly adopted toddler son from Vietnam, that I can stay away.

5. Finally, a Catholic blog by my coworker who called himself Catholic to the Left before he started blogging for our magazine. He still blogs at his first blog--and he can be even more blunt and provocative there!

Now I'm supposed to tag those bloggers to do their Thinking Blog Awards. Click here for more information about this "Thinking Blogs" meme.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Peep, peep

"Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever! (From the "Exult," the traditional prayer of praise at the Easter vigil)

So I here to report that the Peep S'Mores were a hit, except that there was a slightly odd taste that we weren't sure was from the peep roasting or the fair-trade chocolate. The kids enjoyed them, anyway. That's Jack, my sister's oldest and my godson with a freshly roasted peep.

I thought I'd show a picture of how pretty my table looked before I tried to cram all the food on it, not to mention cram nine people around it. Since we don't have a dining room (or a dining room table) we bought a fold-down table that doubles as a sofa table, which when attached to a card table, seats nine people, barely. It was half in the living room and half in our front hall! Look at how crowded it was (below), but my family is good sports. No one complained. (And yes, that's the Cubs/Brewers game on during Easter dinner!)

We had an Easter egg hunt outside in the park (Jack was totally embarrassed to be carrying an Easter basket in public!) Then everyone went home by 6 p.m. and I was left with a clean kitchen (thanks, Mom and Edmund) and lots of leftovers.

Netflix Update: Ed and I have been watching some great movies lately. I always tease him that he only orders foreign films and documentaries, which is pretty much true, but I love that he exposes me to something besides HGTV and "Law and Order." We saw this amazing Indian film, "Water" over the weekend. (It's part of a triology and we just ordered the other two.) Then last night on IFC saw this half Hungarian movie called "American Rhapsody." I'd give "Water" four stars, and "American Rhapsody" three and a half. It's hard to knit or sew with all those subtitles, but it's worth it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Petter Cottontail(s)

"Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there." (Clarence Wilbur Hall)

Meet Mopsy, Flopsy and Peter, three Easter bunnies I hand-stitched out of (what else?) felt from recycled sweaters. Have you noticed that I've been using my scraps for holiday-themed items lately? First it was the heart, then the shamrock, now these!

I started with an off-white sweater, which I felted and cut out in the shape of a bunny. Then I added the pink on his paws, embroidered the nose and mouth and sewed on blue buttons for eyes (which I guess makes this not baby-friendly). Then I blanket stitched around the edge in pink and stuffed it with fiberfill and some wool scraps.

The final details include a matching carrot (with embroidery floss leaves) and a little cottontail made out of wool roving. I still have to stitch the carrots on before my family comes for Easter. One of is for my mom and dad, one for my sister's family, and one for me!
Did you notice the sweet quilted Easter runner they're lying on? Thrift shop find for $1.50. I didn't decorate for Easter until today, not just to be liturgically correct, but because I had a ton of cleaning to do before getting out my Easter stuff.
I'm hosting Easter dinner for my family (nine people in a house without a dining room!). I like to do Easter because the meal is pretty easy: ham, asparagus, and in our family blintzes. Those are a little bit of work. Oh, and a fattening concoction called "Pineapple Marge" after my mother-in-law. It's got two sticks of butter, eight eggs, white bread and canned pineapple. A real 50s-60s kind of dish. Thanks to food blogger Renee at Second Breakfast, I learned how to fold my napkins like bunnies and got the idea for dessert: peep s'mores! Thanks, Renee, and happy Easter, everyone.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Flower power

"Spring comes and the grass grows by itself." (Zen Buddhist saying)

Well, even though we had snow flurries yesterday in Chicago, the sun is shining today and I'm feeling springy. I'm off for a four-day Easter weekend, and got up early this morning and (after writing a few reflections for my book) I made these felt flowers. Then I just spent the last hour updating my etsy shop with purses that match those flowers and two of the pink and green flowers themselves. I've sold a couple vintage wallpaper packs, so I also replenished those. The shop is full!

Thanks for all the nice comments about the video. I'm sorry I don't respond to all comments (blogger makes it hard for me to find your email address), but know that I appreciate all the positive strokes. I'm sure I'll have some more video again sometime, though I don't really like being in front of the camera.

Those little pink and green flowers are a hint for my Spring Fling Swap partner, Nancy from North Carolina, who I know loves flower arranging and is a new knitter. I've been busy putting some pink and green springness together for her. I also worked on my pincushion for Tiff last night (while watching Memoir of a Geisha--I can't believe how they changed the ending!). I should have that finished and in the mail by next week. And I made one for myself, too.

Now, off to make some more purses and go for a nice walk with my hubby before church tonight. Happy Holy Thursday to all any Christians out there.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bathroom remodel--and my YouTube debut

"I am not afraid. I was born to do this." (St. Joan of Arc)

Get ready: My husband has figured out the video camera. Woo-hoo. My parents gave us this really awesome video camera for Christmas (they would like to see video of us getting their grandchildren in Vietnam and China) and Ed has finally mastered it. I fully expect my whole life to be on YouTube now.

The first feature from Schlumpf/Butler Productions is a little piece about our bathroom remodel, which is pretty much done (except for the light switch covers, as you'll see in the video). Check it out! We tore everything but the tile and the tub out, painted, fixed the toilet, installed a new vanity, granite counter top, fixtures, medicine cabinet, lighting and towel bars. When I say "we," I mean Ed, except for the painting.

It looks really nice. Thank you, honey!