Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday sharing

What a lazy life I lead. I have spent my out-and-about time the last two days shopping. I received a couple of dollar off coupons and such from various stores I frequent that needed to be used before the end of the month. Over and above that there are a lot of hoiday sales going on that I needed to take advantage of before they expired as well. Actually its been a great excuse to do a lot of window shopping and stock up on things I needed ... like some new t-shirts from Chco's, bug spray from Ace and cute shoes from Steinmart. The best deals though were at the Hobby Lobby.

Hobby Lobby is a craft and art supply store with a lot of home decorating items. They also have a fabric and sewing section. A friend made a jacket from some wonderful fabric from there so I had to go check it out. The first thing that caught my eye was this Indian cotton on sale at $1.00 a yard. At that price I took what was left on the bolt (8 yards) and plan to make a sun dress/house dress out of it. It is so light and airy it should be great in this area. Even if I only wear it when walking the dogs or mowing the lawn, it willl be a good investment.
The next thing I saw was the fabric my friend used. Isn't it wonderful! It was on sale at $5.00 a yard so I picked up the rest of the bolt on that as well. It came to about 4 1/2 yards. The main fabric is white cotton with balck embroidery. The black flowers with white embroidery are actually a raw edge reverse applique - chunks of black fabric attattached to the back of the white fabric, holes cut to reveal it then white embroidery thread used to adhere it to the white white fabric. I have too many ideas of what to make out of it but I do know that it will be something without a lot fitting so it can swing free. A great swishy skirt or dress?
The third piece that took my eye was this fabric. It has a wool tweed base with some sort of thin gauze over it, all embroidered in red with couched red ribbons. The icing on the cake was the way the gauze was removed in places in irregular shapes. I wonder if this will felt up or not? t was on sale for $10.00 a yard. I only picked up a yard of it to play with over the next few days - maybe a knitting bag? If that works, a fun jacket - it would need a lining.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Finally finished the laptop case for my son's girlfriend. They didn't want a vecro closure - just snaps or a button. I used the industrial sized snaps since we couldn't find a button. The gussett was added after it was all put together so its not as nice as I would have liked but it was needed as I messed up the measurements - I forgot the depth when I went to cut for the width of the case. The frabrics are fabulous Amy Butler prints except for the gussett which was a scrap that had been included in the Red Velvet Club Project Kit from last month. The toughest part of putting a laptop case together is getting sufficient padding into it so it actually protects the laptop. Quilt batting just doesn't give enough protection. I use headliner fabric from Hancock Fabrics which has a layer of foam padding covered with a colored fabric. It is traditionally used in coverng the ceilings of cars. It seems to work quite well for laptops as mine has been bashed around quite bit without any noticable harm. The scraps from this case went into my camera case.

On another note - here is a picture of my son Paul returning from a walk with the dogs - Alex on the right, Kimora in the middle and Kelis is lagging behind. The little park at the end of the green belt trails across the street from the house has become Alex's territory. He becomes hysterical when another dog is walked through HIS park . It's actually kind of funny as most of the other dogs in the world could eat all 12 pounds of him for breakfast.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Best Laid Plans

My plan today was to send an e-mail to all my colleagues giving them my new contact information. Unfortunately, I had already been deleted from the Bank's computer systems so I was unable to connect. I will need to figure out a way to let folk know about the plant and printer.

Although I don't often read my horoscope, today it said:
'Know when to part ways,as often you don't get clear signals, or you refuse to identify them. If this is the case, change gears and head in a more positive, upbeat direction. Do what you must, but then do for yourself.'

How appropriate on day like today. So I will do what I must - do the laundry - then do for myself - finish up the top of my doll quilt. Maybe this is the way I should organize the next few months?

Monday, June 25, 2007

One Day Left

Today I went into the office for the last time. Tomorrow is my official last day and my last offical act will be to e-mail all my coleagues my new contact information. I did not find one person in the office that I knew ... which is not unusual as I have been an orphan child for so long that the desk space assigned to me is in the middle of a group of techies from another business. On top of that most of the desks were empty as many of the poeple work from home or have been laid off recently. I feel a little guilt about not connecting with anyone as I left a wonderful corn plant, that I rescued a few years ago from another department, as well as a wonderful little color printer. I better rememeber to put these in the final e-mail to encourage fold to claim these items before they die or disappear.

I got my retirement package on Saturday and I must say its a little bit more generous that I expected when it came to benefits. There will be no cash payments for a while but I need to figure out what to do with my retirement plan and 401(k) funds before my severance runs out next year. Although I've been talking about tomorrow being my last day for a while, getting that package really brought it home.

Now I will be unable to put anything in that box on applications for employer or work phone number. I will not be defining myself as a finance technology geek. I am still a lot of things from poor house keeper to inveterate experimenter but when someone asks the question 'what do you do for a living?' will retired be enough or will I need another response? I kind of like explorer or inventor or celebrity guest? I'll let you know what works.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


This past week two shows that I have watched since they began had their series finales. The Sopranos and Stargate: SG-1 both ended this week but in totally different style.

The Sopranos was about a mob boss in New Jersey. In some ways it was entertaining especially when Tony, the boss, was talking to his therapist. It was also very disturbing as it was sometimes very violent. Human life seemed to have no value except as it pleased Tony. The show finished up with the screen going black on the family eating in a diner. The audience had no idea if the family was blown up at the diner or if things would continue to go on as they had since the beginning. I was totally unsatisfied and had no sense of closure.

Stargate:SG-1 is about a military team that uses an alien artifact called a Stargate to visit other parts of the galaxy where they thwart the forces of evil. It began on a premium channel (I think Showtime) and transitioned to the Sci-Fi channel. It ended with the team entering the Stargate one more time to do what they do. Even though many issues were unresolved, this series finale left me with a smile my face. Maybe the producers are hoping for movies since the series is over?

I ended up doing a lot of knitting this week as the Sci-Fi channel played lots of re-runs of Stargate:SG-1 - somehow lots of knitting only translates into getting the back of a simple sweater completed but it took a lot of time without many problems. If I'm lucky I will get it finisihed before the next millenium.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lessons Learned

After the horrible result of the green felted bag that had such potential, let me list some of the things I've learned:
  • knitting for a felted bag is done on needles about 2 sizes larger than normal, more than that can leave holes in your final product
  • before machine felting in hot water, you should probably run the item you want to machine felt through a cold delicate cycle first so that any unevenness or holes will be revealed and can be fixed before felting.
  • use waxed dental floss to close the top of your purse, as a for instance, before felting so that the top edges will match up perfectly after felting.... it is easily removed after felting
  • beaded yarn should not be used during knitting as some will inevitably end up on the inside no matter how carefully you position them before felting ... hand apply beads after felting.
  • never dry a machine felted article in the dryer, always block with something that will mimic the final shape desired.
  • make sure all the yarns ends are securely woven into the knitting or they will felt into the opposite side of the bag.
  • machine felted knitting can be treated like ordinary felt - that is it can be cut into pieces that don't fray and used in other projects.
  • linings should be applied to all machine felted handbags to help the bag keep its shape.

Too soon old, too late smart.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Don't Read This.....

unless you are need to have a little cry. The following was part of the recent Dachshund Rescue of Houston newsletter. Thank heavens there are people in the world who can do this kind of work.

Call The Trashmen for Pick-up and Recycle

We got the call on Friday afternoon. Two Dachshunds to be rescued from animal control. Both around five years old, neither spayed nor neutered and heartworm positive. If we don’t pick-up Saturday they will be euthanized. Always the same story. Come now or they die.

Saturday morning at eleven we wait outside the shelter for the doors to open. No special treatment for rescue groups. Get in line and wait. The doors open at exactly eleven and we go in with a multitude of people, some not speaking English, some speaking in whispers.

One person says, “My dog is here for biting somebody, but my dog don’t bite.”

Another says, “My dog got out. He keeps getting out and running away. I don’t know why he does that. He got a good place in the backyard under a tree. He don’t even hardly get wet when it rains, but he keeps running away.”
An attendant asks, “Is he neutered?” The answer is quick. “Hell no! Ain’t nobody doing that to my dog. Hell no.”
It’s always the same. We used to try to educate those waiting in line, but it’s futile. So we wait quietly as the people move closer to the check-in counter.

Finally one of the attendants who has seen us before recognizes us. “You here for the Dachshunds?,” he asks.
He motions us to go with him into the back where the animals are housed. We take a deep breath of the stagnant air that smells of death and follow behind the attendant. We try to look straight ahead. Don’t lock eyes with the hundreds of dogs who are standing on their hind legs, front paws entwined in the steel mesh. They are all barking at us, begging to be released. The numbers are overwhelming. Most are Pitbulls. Many are mutts. Some are purebreds. The cries echo in our ears. For days they will still be echoing in our minds.

In a cage at the far end of where the animals are warehoused we see two very small and frightened Dachshunds. They are nearly identical. We can see she has obviously had pups. “Where did they come from?,” we ask. Usually we get the standard, “strays, picked up downtown.” This time it’s different. “Owner turn-in. Their names are Rocket and Angel. Said they are moving and can’t take them to the new house.”

We look at them. They are a breeding pair. There is no doubt in our minds. A breeding pair who are heartworm positive and left at animal control to die. A dog picked up on the street is given seventy-two hours for the owner to come and claim him. Dogs that are turned in by their owners are scheduled for euthanasia immediately. No one is coming to claim them so why wait? Moreover, if they are HW positive that locks their sentence in tighter. It costs too much to treat them.

We go back to the front counter and fill out the paperwork. We pay the adoption fee and a few minutes later Angel and Rocket are brought out. We take the ropes from around their necks and replace them with new collars and leashes. Angel is interested, but Rocket is very frightened. Angel is his rock. We decide right then that they will be kept as a pair. Once they are finished with their treatment we will adopt them out together.

We leave the shelter and walk across the parking lot. Angel is happy to be outside. Rocket stays very close to her.

At the vet’s office people with dogs dressed in near human attire, ooooh, and ahhhh, then look at us as if we are horrible people. “We rescued these guys from the county this morning,” we say loud enough for all to hear. The nasty looks disappear followed by a barrage of questions. We answer each one as we wait in line again.

“Oh, I just could never work in rescue. I would be too attached to the dogs. I couldn’t do that.” The word, “I,” dominates the conversation. We wonder what it would be like to have the “I” word for an excuse as we watch our Saturday disappear.

Finally, we are at the front desk. Angel is excited, looking everywhere, seeing everything as if for the first time. Rocket is shaking and starting to pant. We need to get them into a kennel so they can relax.

We hand over the rabies certificates we got at animal control. The girl signs us in. Two kennel attendants come from the back room and take the dogs from us. We smell very bad from holding them, but it doesn’t matter. We got them out. They are saved. We can go home and bathe and they can live. It’s more than a decent trade.

Monday morning the vet’s office calls to tell us that Rocket has been neutered and Angel has been spayed. Their lives of making puppies to be sold at flea markets and roadside stands are over. We thank the girl for letting us know. The following Monday they start their heartworm treatment. Although animal control tested them, we always have them re-tested. HW treatment is too intense to proceed with unless we are sure. The vet’s office tells us they are both a very strong positive. We have to get them into a home as fast as we can. They have to be in a quiet setting while they convalesce.

On Tuesday, we check on their progress. Both are doing okay. They will have to undergo two treatments each. The dosages will be diluted and spread out over six to eight weeks. We start canvassing our list of fosters. It is imperative we get them into a home quickly.

Friday morning the phone rings. It’s the vet’s office. Something is wrong. “We just called to tell you we found Angel dead this morning," the girl says. "We’re moving Rocket to a smaller cage.”

At five years old, after probably giving birth to numerous puppies Angel is struck down by heartworms. Rocket is lost. He is frantic. We put the news of Angel out on the web. Rocket needs a home. We wait. Our fosters are overwhelmed with dogs. Some have as many as twelve in their homes. Finally, in the late afternoon we get a call from a couple who have adopted four from us. They will take Rocket. “Where can we pick him up?” Rocket goes home with them. He is very withdrawn. He eats little. He is undergoing treatment for a severe case of heartworms and grieving for his mate at the same time. We cry for him and for all the dogs like him.

Two months have passed and Rocket is coming around. He is filling out nicely and has joined in play with his foster brothers although he still stays in the background much of the time. Some day Rocket will be adopted and his memories of Angel will fade, as do all memories. For us, we wait for the phone calls that start the process over again. We are the trash men for the breeders who profit and for the buyers who don’t stop to think about what they are getting into. And for the owners who say, “Hell no. You ain't doing that to my dog,”

Hell is a relative word.

We pick-up their trash, save the ones we can, and cry for the ones we can’t.


As I mentioned earlier today I have completed two projects lately. The sweater looks pretty specIacular, even if I do say so myself. Here are front and back views on my dress form. The sleeves are piled on top of the form as they are still damp and I don't want them to stretch out too much more than they are already. The concept came from a site called that I found one day when browsing for cotton based crochet and knitting yarn. The yarn I used is called Lara in the claret colorway. It is just a huge circular pinwheel shawl, with sleeves, that will wear like a large shrug. Experienced knitters will laugh but after I was about 20 rounds into this project when it started to un-ravel from the center pinwheel. It took me eight tries to repair that damage so it wouldn't show too much. Check out for some unusual yarns at pretty good prices.... and yes all the prices are in US dollars and mailed in the US so customs do not seem to be a problem. I did use 2 extra balls of yarn than called for in the pattern as I do knit a little loosely and used the called for kneedle and crochet hook sizes as I already owned them.

The felted purse that I talked about did not come out as successfully. It is a good size for carrying around a bunch of stuff but the felting came out very lumpy. I used a yarn that was 85% wool and 15% nylon but I used needles that were way bigger than the suggested size. I also added another yarn that is hand spun in a South African aid project. The extra yarn was used for about 6 rows in the lower protion of the bag. It had a metallic thread, beads and a bucle textured angora base yarn. I thnk my next idea will be to dampen the bag again, put something flat in the bottom and then add a bag of rice or beans as a form to block the bag again. I'll also need to get a button for the closure. I do love the colors though and it seems neutral enough for all seasons.

Final score - one project completed, one still on the to be completed list. I'll take those results any day.

Weekend Update

Yes. it really is just after 2:00am on June 18. My sleep cycle is completely messed up since the vocal cord surgery. Actually, my sleep cycle seems to have become a nap cycle - 3 - 4 hours at night plus a couple of hour long naps during the day seem to be my norm these days. I must get back to a regular sleep cycle soon or the neighbors are going to think I have gone completely nuts. I actually walked Alex at about 3:00 am on Sunday morning - not many people about and it actually felt a little cool. He certainly liked the extra attention and the fact that I did not have to tug him out of the way of any traffic.

I have been finishing projects and watching a lot of movies. I completed a sweater I started a while ago. It is knitted in the round with sleeves added midway through. Its drying right now and I hoped to have it blocked and any fixes completed today. I will post a photo when I think it is ready for prime time. It has not been knitted by the most perfect knitter in the world but I am pretty proud of it . I don't think too many people will die laughing when they see it in person. I also was on a shop hop this weeked and found some wonderful wool/nylon skiens, at half price no less, at the Hen House out on Louetta. I wanted to try to make a felted purse that would be large enough for all the stuff I put in a purse when I carry one. It is also drying right now and after some blocking/steaming I'll post some photos.

On the voice front, it is still not perfect though it seems I can get out 3 or 4 sentences a day right now in a normal tone of voice. Th rest of the time it shifts from inaudible to a faint ruslting in the wind. I did yell at Alex today and actually got some volume going. I don't like to yell at him but read on for his latest exploits.

My little darling has decided that the backyard is just not the place to do his business. He likes the front yard, the little park across the street or any place that is not my backyard like my office or kitchen floors. I give him unrestricted access to the backyard all the time but he does not seem to get it. He has not learned from my son's dogs, when they were here, on how this is supposed to work. Today, I just about sent him back when he got out the front door during a rain storm and led me on a very wet, one hour chase through the neighborhood. I didn't have the energy to actually chase him and ended up following him until he allowed me to get the leash on him. I also had to wave down at least half a dozen cars so that they would not run over him.

Now we are into serious crate training. I had been told that he could not be put into a crate due to his three months spent at a vet after he was found so I tred to do the training without the crate. I hauled out Lady Jane's old crate, which was previously used by a German Shepherd show dog on airplane trips, thinking that Alex could not construe it as vet sized kennel. If he is not at my side, on a walk with me, in obedience sessions with me or outside in the back on his own, he will be in the crate. No more unrestricted access to any room in the house. No more hiding chew toys everywhere. No more playing chase with his shadow indoors. No more sleeping with me at night. I hate having to resort to the crate but we were both getting pretty miserable. I really didn't want a puppy but accepted him because he really needed a home. Sometimes I feel like I got suckered into taking him. Now that he's here we will just have to work harder to come to some mutally beneficial arrangement. Maybe my difficulty with him is that he is a male dog (I've only had females in the past) and that my voice has not been working correctly.

Only time will tell. Have a great week - my last full work week as an employee!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Garden Kneelers for Stamping

I mentioned previously that I had found garden kneelers at Taget for a dollar and how they could be used for making homemade rubber stamps. The other day I decided to put theory into practice. The method I had been told about was to use a heat gun to warm up a piece of the kneeler and then press it onto something you would like to make into a stamp. I could not find my heat gun (no big surprise there when I have only used it once in the two years I have owned one) so I decided to try out other things to turn the kneelers into stamps.

First I tried carving with an Exacto knife. I quickly discovered that I am not a carver of any skill what so ever. Since the original method used heat I got out my Versa Tool to see if I could be more successful. Here are the results:

The first stamp was from my Exacto knife experiment. The second stamp is from using the stencil cutting tip and wood burning tip on the Versa Tool. The third image used the cutting blade form the Versa Tool. The pictures seem a little small but I think you get the idea. I have trouble drawing in reverse - that is the outlines should be raised so the background can be removed. I used a pigment ink pad for the ink and 24 hours later the stamps were still damp with the ink.

Here are some other examples. The top stamp used the circle within a circle tip. When using It I discovered that no matter how much fun it is to stamp the kneeler rapidly, a little more care is needed to provide clear impressions. The second stamp used a circular tip... which I think was originally for heat transfers. The third image used the cutting blade again and I think it was the most successful. These stamps could be used with fabric paints to embellish fabric, burn velvet and stamp a variety of paper based products.

The Versa Tool is pretty cool though and I expect I will have fun figuring out other uses of it as I am not a rubber stamp maker. It now comes in four different configurations and heat levels. Mine is somewhat old in that only one heat level was available but I think this experiment opens a lot of doors. The only caution I have for you is that the tip is working at 950 degrees Farenheit and significant ventilation is needed when working with it. I used it with a large heat resistant cutting board below the materials I was working on and put the whole thing on top of the stove under the ventilation fan, which I ran on high while working. Surprisingly, to me at least, no foul smells were generated while heating the kneeler material.

BTW - here is a picture of the kneeler I started out with and used only about 3 inches of one end in these experiments. I also used both sides of the pieces - two stamps in one!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

20 years of formal education ....

and I don't know anyone who will pay me $129.00 to replace a wall socket. And I don't know anyone who would let me be 3 hours late for an appointment that already had a huge window - 10:00 am to 3:00 pm except for the lady who was afraid there would be a fire from the bad socket the electrician replaced this evening.

Oops! better check on Alex as I haven't heard his dog tags in a couple of minutes... you know that can't be good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Good News, Bad News, Good News

First a bit of good news. I went to the ENT yesterday so she could look at my vocal cords. She said they looked good and were healing nicely. She then reassured me that the stuff she removed was not cancerous but that I would need to be a lot more careful of what I put in my mouth. No alcohol, no spicy foods, no smoking and no acidic foods for at least 6 more weeks. All in all pretty good news.

Bad news is that my workhorse serger, that has never failed me no matter what I have thrown under the presser foot, gave up the ghost today. A litle metal rod fell out of the needle assembly and the whole thing jammed up. I was using it to finish the seams on the hospital gowns that ASG is donating to the Shriners later this summer. I hope they can fix it quickly because the thought of doing true french seams on these gowns would extend the sewing time by at least a week ot two.

Good news... well actually funny news. After I dropped off my serger I stopped by the JoAnns next door. I only needed to pick up some twill tape but I cruised the sales as well. I came across a set of nesting fabric containers with the following labels embroidered on them - stuff, junk, misc. and etc. I had to get them as they so clearly reflect much of my sewing room clutter. I couldn't find them on-line so they may not available everywhere but I may have to go back to my local store as my sewing room is not the only place that could use these containers.

Monday, June 11, 2007

55 Years and Counting

Today is my birthday and I turned fifty-five years old . Several thoughts though kept running through my mind today on aging and family. For instance:
  • No-one in my family can carry a tune - the men in my immeadiate family all called separately today and sang Happy Birthday to me... once was bearable, twice was torture and the third time was physically painful. My own singing voice is known as making my son's stomach hurt. Definately genetics in action.
  • As a teenager I was appalled that I would be 48 when the millenium occured. How could I live so long ... heck I believed my own mother was a wisened old crone at the age of 40! I recently had the opportunity to see some candid shots of Mom at 55 and we look incredibly alike. There are two noticable differences - she was taller than me (5'10" to my 5'7") and she dyed her hair strawberry blonde ( I am au natural at 70% grey).
  • Until today, I thought I would be celebrating with some large purchase like a new car or fancy embroidery machine. After walking the dogs this morning I realized that just playing with the dogs all day would be preferable to shopping. How things have changed! Even a few years ago a day shopping would take precedence over any other activity. Am I getting old? I don't think so, probably a little bit wiser on what is important.
  • I have a female cousin who was born on June 10, just eight hours before I made my entrance on June 11. I realized that I have not seen her or heard from her directly in about 35 years. How did we loose touch when there should be such a natural connection between us? One thing that may have seperated us was the incredible rivallry between our mothers. These sisters were the last two children in a family of seven kids. After five boys, my mother was child number six, while her sister was number seven. As the first girl in her family my mother probably saw her sister as a johnny come lately and, except for the big events in their lives, they never saw or corresponded with each other. The last decade or so of their lives did see a bit of a thaw in their relationship but, even as they both faced significant medical challenges, the sniping continued. Maybe it is a good thing that my relationship with my cousin is non-existent so that we don't get sucked into the family discord but it does make me a little sad that I have no relationships with any of my cousins, even the one that should be a natural fit.
On a humorous note, my son came to see me this evenng so we could go to dinner together. I was not expecting anything from him unless it was socks or scissors... two things I am constantly losing. Instead he brought me a new lawn mower with an electric ingnition, nine height adjustments, mulching blades is even self propelled. It looks like my experiment in self-powered mowing is pretty much dead as, I must admit, that it really is easy to start and use and, as the days get hotter, will be a joy to use.

I wonder what this year will bring? I do hope my voice comes back and that no other health issues rear their ugly heads. If I wake up every morning glad that I am still breahing it will be an excellent year.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Saturday Sharing

I know its Sunday already but I was a little too out of it yesterday to post anything. Saturday, however, was a pretty great day. Although I missed the meeting of my American Sewing Guild neighborhood group, due to a longer than expected nap in the morning, I still had the opportunity during the day to visit a great little quilt store's sidewalk sale and to attend a sew-in for for a charity project.

First the sidewalk sale. Sun Flower Quilts in Houston had a sidewalk sale that was pretty good for such a small store. They had tables of fabric scraps, home dec items, kits (or pieces of them) and a bunch of books. I scored right away with some lovely fabric for the sew-in later that day (will post pictures when I complete them), three Christmas stockings made my Jill the store owner, a tin thing for my bedroom wall and a book on making sock monkey toys. The stockings are huge and I intend them for angel tree gifts this coming holiday season. Here's a picture:

They were only $5.00 each and should hold a lot of stuff for some lucky gir or boy this winter. On the other hand there are three dogs in the family so maybe I'll stuff the stockings for the dogs. With my luck the dogs will be more interested in ripping the stocking apart rather than playing with the goodies inside. I'm going to have to mull this one over before giving them away.

The charity sew-in was for the American Sewing Guid conference in Sacrmento this summer. I decided not to go this year as most of the classes and seminars seemed a little stale to me. Also, the most interesting ones sold out in about a NY minute. Anyway, when ASG comes to town for a conference it commits to making a contribution to a local charity. Previous donations have been adult bibs, children's quilts, and layette sets. This year the project is to make hospital gowns for children at a Sacremento Shriners hospital. There has been a lot of negative buzz about the patterns that had been provided for us to use so the local chapter re-worked one for a gown, in three sizes, that closes down the back. The shoulders can also be open for tieing together when worn. I went to the sew-in, not to sew, but to cut out fabric for about a dozen gowns using the local pattern and some of my stash fabric. Not being a pastel kind of person I used stash fabrics with bold colors, like black with pink Laurel Birch cats and a bright golden yellow with pink motifs. I intend to make them up as the local pattern requires but I would also like to add pockets to them as shown in the original patterns. What kid wouldn't want a pocket to hold their goodies? I hope to get them done this week and will post pictures when completed.
While at the sew-in, a man came by with the contents of his mother's sewing room. Not everything, as there were things he did keep, but a lot of stash fabrics, thread, a quilting frame, two yo-yo quilts and a couple of scrappy quitls. The Guild will sell or donate most of the items and some of them were immeadiately snapped up for a trip a member is taking to Mexico to teach women to quilt. The frame will ceratinly come in handy and she also took a lot of 100% cotton fabrcs for making quilts. One bonus was that there were 4 pairs of socks suitable for making sock monkeys to go with the book I had picked up earlier at the quilt store. I did snap those up right away.

And, just to make Sunday perfect here are pictures of my son's dogs taking an afternoon nap.

This is Kelis on the zebra striped doggy bed.
She is only about 9 pounds and a real honey of a dog. Kelis demands your attention by sitting on your chest and engaging in staring contests.

This is Kemora and she is about 16 pounds. She and Kelis are sisters but totally different from each other. While Kelis demands, Kemora begs for attention. Her method is to climb up on you and drape herself anywhere she thinks will get her lots of attention. One of her favorite places is to drape herself around your neck. When I am drving she likes to sit on the arm rest in the center of the front seat and rest her head on my shoulder so she can see out the front window of the car.
No pictures of Alex as I can't get him unglued from my hip. Have a good week.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Its BACK (almost)

I woke up today and was able to call the dogs for their morning nosh loud enough that they heard me from outside. I could even use the drive through at a fast food restaurant. Later in the day things deteriorated somewhat but I am now talking loud enough and clearly enough for minutes at a time. Yahoo!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

FLY Lady

FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself. The FLY Lady provides strategies for those of us with a lot of guilt over the condition of their homes, their bodies and their lives. Many of us have this guilt and it manifests itself with our, generally, poor body image. This spreads to guilt about about the condition of our homes such that a lot of us are embarassed to have friends and family over without 3 or 4 days notice. We sometimes feel that our lives are out of control ... can't lose weight, can't exercise, can't get the laundry done, can't get it put away, can't get dressed, can't fill the dishwasher, can't empty the dishwasher... the list goes on and on. A couple of years ago I looked at her website ( and was incredibly unimpressed. I logged back into a couple of weeks ago and I thnk the FLY Lady and I can now do some business with each other.

Her message is all about control. With some control over those parts of our lives that seem out of control, we will feel better about ourselves. The first baby step in getting more control is to keep your Kitchen sink clean. I thought that was a no brainer until I really looked at my sink. There were no dishes in it but the drain looked like you could grow a whole new species in it. The faucet was spotted and one half of the double sink was full of cleaning supplies. I decided to try to work the first baby step and cleaned my sink including using bleach and stainless steel cleaner. Its been about 3 weeks now and I can say with some confidence that my kitchen sink is clean 98% of the time. Although the counters may be full of dog treats, old mail and discarded papers, my sink is clean. Step one done - yahoo!

The next step is a little more challenging - getting dressed right down to shoes the first thing every morning. This could be a tough step as I spend a lot of time in my bare feet. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Finishing Stuff

Today I actually finished a couple of purses that I had started ages ago. One was knitted then felted using a yarn that had many elements to it - little variagted yellow boucle yarn, wool roving in reds and greens, black thread as a binder and some glittery stuff. I used a pattern I found on the web that I can't for the life of me remember where I found it. After felting, the fabric created was very uneven which meant I needed to line it with something sturdy. I used some black ultra-suede that I had on hand and added a snap just below the opening for your hand. It came out to about 9 !/2 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches tall and does not have a gussett. The picture shows all I have left of the two balls of yarn I purchased at the Hen House here in Houston. I may make a couple of crocheted and felted ornaments to attach to it just to use up the yarn and add a little more pizzazz to this purse.

This is the second purse I finished up today. It used up a bunch of scraps that had been fused and over-stitched into a 17" square. The construction was based on a pattern in Nancy Shriber's self-published book - Sashiko Handbags 14 on 14. This pattern was based on the origami folds for a Home File Folder Carrier. I lined it with some very bright hand died fabric from Judy Robertson's Just Imagination and used a recycled magnetic snap for a closure. The purple log embellishment was supposed to be just a fabric bead to cover the back of the snap but it got a little out of control as I fell in love with Fabric Tac again. Its about 8 inches wide, 5 inches tall and 2 inches deep at the bottom.

I don't know what I am going to do with these. Although I love them both I just don't see myself using them. I may post them to a craft trading site and see if anyone has something they would like to trade for them. On the other hand, if I can find someone who would like to have them and use them I am more than willing to entertain offers. Chocolate for purses... sounds like a great concept to me! My final option is set them out somewhere (away from Alex!) and admire them and stroke them and, generally, feel good about myself.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Movies, Movies, Movies

Each summer I join Netflix due to the complete lack of originality on summer TV. Also, as the summer heats up (highs for this week will be in the 90's) I spend a lot of time doung hand work so 3 or 4 new movies very few days is good for keeping me looking up every few minutes so my eyes don't get glued to my rpojects. Any way, three movies I saw this weekend were Queen, Venus and Letters from Iwo Jimo.
Queen was excellent for giving me some insight into the days after Diana's death. Although I am completely in awe of the Queen I knew very little about many of her roles and responsibilities as a head of state with very little power but lots of tradition behind the office. Helen Mirren was superb . I especially enjoyed watching the characterization of Tony Blair as he is stepping down from office the day after I retre from the Bank.
Venus starred my favorite actor from my teenage years - Peter O'Toole. It was odd to see Lawrence of Arabia as an aged actor , interested in women but unable to do much about it. It took a while to get into the story line but it became completely engaging so that I was sad to se it end. A quiet movie with great characters that I began to really care about.

Letters from Iwo Jimo is a movie that that I generally don't like to watch. It was 98% in Japanese so the whole thing is subtitled. It was a completely different perspective on the battle and the human stories, as revealed in the letters home and the interactions of the characters on the screen, were fascinating. This is not a war movie per se and I recommend it for an afternoon when you can concentrate on the action and subtitles.
As mentioned yesterday, here are some photos I think you might enjoy.
This is the apron from Hable construction on my dress form. I've read more about this company since the other day. The compay is run by two Texas sisters who relocated to NYC and use the name of the defunct family construction business for their interior decorating business. An interesting aside is that the package with the apron was sent by a British textile magazin mailed from France but was probably made in New England... go figure.

And here is an unusual picture of the little prince himself ... sleeping on the couch after a hard day following me around and getting into trouble. Note the classy zebra striped bedding.

Here is another a few moments later ... he must be thinking I am nuts to be flashing lights all around when he is trying to sleep.

On a purely seflish note, I received the tea towel from my tea towel swap partner. This is the fourth swap I have been in and the first time I can truly say that I am completely disappointed in what I received. I spent most of a Saturday embroidering the towel I sent to receive a mostly polyester one with a piece of purple craft ribbon and three buttons on it. The ribbon was poorly sewn and looks unwashable. I must be a bad person to be so dissappointed. Its either that or I'm pretty down about my voice taking so long to come back. Its probably the latter as I get up every morning expecting to be back to normal and it just isn't. Maybe tomorrow....

Sunday, June 3, 2007

23 Days to Retirement

It just struck me that I'm down to just over 3 weeks until my last day at the Bank. Although I thought the last 4 weeks would be spent in the garden I must admit that my frst week in Garden Time has not included a lot of gardening. Paul came by this afternoon to drop off his dogs for babysitting. At the same time he also finished cutting the grass in the backyard. My reel mower is so quiet that I fell asleep while he was doing the cutting - not something you can do with the roar of a lawn mower just outside your window. I just woke up a few minutes ago to find that the grass was cut and he was gone. All three dogs had taken up positions in the dining room window watching for him to return. Sorry to disappoint them.:-)

And now I've disappointed myself as I intended to post some pictures today of things I mentioned previously but I can't seem to find the camera to download the pictures. Rats! Maybe tomorrow. Have a good week.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Saturday Sharing

My voice is still not back but at least the dog can hear me now ... I don't know if that is much progress as he seems to hear a pin drop from miles away. Most of the day has been very cloudy with intermittent breaks for startling beautiful blue skies and strong sunshine. I meant to get some more grass cut but frankly I am too weary to even attempt it. Yesterday I got an area of about 20' by 10' done with my new reel mower and had a lot of fun watching Alex chase all the bugs that got stirred up. I gave up a motorized mower as I was fed up with messing with oil and sharpening and spark plugs and all the other things you should keep on top of to keep a mower in good running order. My front lawn is maintained by my next door neighbor as he wants both lawns to look the same height (men!) so all I need to do is keep the backyard short enough that the dogs don't get lost in it. Easy enough for me and my reel mower. Sunday should see the rest of it done... by either me or my son Paul, if he drops by with his dogs for babysitting.

I am an avid reader of Selvedge, a British quarterly on textiles around the globe. I have been known to spend days just looking at the ads they are so beautiful. As a subsciber, who just renewd for 3 years, I received from them an apron from Habke Construction. It is a typical french cotton canvas apron, about four feet wide and eighteen inches long (very approximate measurements) with two large grommets for attaching twill tapes. The whole thing wraps completely around me to tie in the front. There is one large linen/cotton packet in the front (or where ever it ends up on you) printed with a lovely blue stripe. I love it already but, as I rarely cook, I am looking for alternative uses... maybe mounted on homosote (sic?) board as a bulletin board cover for the sewing room?

Someone who saw the cargo carry-all I made for the travel swap asked me to make one for them. I just sent it off and am feeling very accomplished. It is made of Indian home spuns and some wild cotton based sparkly sheers. I won't post a photo of it until it gets delivered but I'm extremey happy with it. The only down side is that I ran out of buckram at the end so the interior is not as stiff as I would like. I hope she likes it.

Alex has finally settled down on the couch next to me. He seems jealous of the laptop and when I bring it out he loves to distract me by dancing on the key board and licking the mouse. This attention getting activity usually ends up with me getting mad at him and him trying to bite my fingers. Not pleasant but I think we have reached a compromise... he stops getting in the way and I'll let him curl up on me or next to me while I watch movies and scratch his tummy. If he is especially good in the evening he gets to sleep with me but I much prefer he sleep in the bathroom ... his body temperature is about 600 degree Celcius.

Let me know if the links don't work. UPDATE: they don't so I'm back to square one... rats!