Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Books, Garage Sale, and a Lovely Yarn Shop!

The saga continues regarding my quest to organize my home.  The recipe project is finished (see my previous blog entry for details), and I have moved on to our books.  When I say "our books," I'm not referring to a bookshelf tucked away in a corner somewhere.  Oh, no.  We are a family of avid readers who love the feel of a REAL book in out hands.   We are slowly being smothered by all of our books. So, we finally tackled them, keeping this thought in mind:  "Will I read it within the next five years?  If I have already read it, will I read it again?  Was it a life-altering book or possibly a beloved favorite?"  

It actually worked.  When we were finished, we had six banker's boxes full for a garage sale, and 15 full to list on Amazon.  My plan was to finish this project before my upcoming garage sale.

I am impressed with how organized our bookcases look now!  Can you imagine all of those other books crammed willy-nilly in here too?

So ... the next step is the garage sale, which is this coming Saturday.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I have retired from teaching high school reading, and have a lot of classroom supplies, teaching materials, decorations, and hundreds of books to sell.   Adding six more boxes certainly isn't a big deal.  The Amazon listings will take a while, and will probably be my "Fall project."

On to knitting news .....
Well ..........NOTE TO SELF: when purchasing yarn for a child's clothing item, knit the darn thing immediately!!!  Why, you ask?  Well, I'll tell you.  I don't have enough yarn to complete the sweater I am knitting for my grandson for Christmas.  No big deal, right?  After all, someone on Ravelry will probably have some in their stash, or certainly I should be able to find some online.  With the world at our fingertips, surely this should not be a problem.  


Only one person on Ravelry has the yarn in their stash, and has not responded to my message of over a week ago.  I searched online for HOURS and could not find the color ANYWHERE.  So, I decided that two balls of a contrasting oatmeal color would look very nice for the shawl collar.  I ordered them from, and all was well.  Or so I thought.  Now I have finished knitting the back and half of the front of the sweater, and realize I won't have enough red to complete the sleeves.  Guess what I had to do?  Yep ...order more of the oatmeal color to stripe the sleeves.  

Now ....I admit that my gauge was a TAD off stitch less in 4 inches, but for a child's sweater, a tad bigger is better, right?  I seriously don't think that small difference in gauge on a child's size 6-7 should have made such an enormous difference in the amount of yarn needed.  I will definitely make a note on the pattern in case I ever want to make it again.  I will post a picture when the sweater is finally finished.  

Better knitting news .....I finally made it to Criativity in Largo, Florida.  What a lovely shop! All of the people there, both working and "playing," were extremely nice.  Besides yarnie goodness, the shop also has clothing, accessories, toys, games, soaps, and more.  Worth a visit if you are ever in the area!

I couldn't resist the call of the fibers, and bought a skein of Petite Madison (75% Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% silk) in colorway Harvest to make the "That Nice Stitch Cowl" on Ravelry.  I think I will leave it as a scarf, rather than kitchener it together at the end. The Purl Bee has an excellent video on the kitchener stitch here.  I plan to take this new project to my daughter's house on my upcoming visit.  

Until next time, HAPPY KNITTING!

Monday, August 3, 2015

My New Journey - a More Organized Home ...and knitting news, of course!

Well, I'm finally getting around to organizing things in my house.  It's amazing how much can be accumulated in 15 years and how cluttered things become with everyone working full-time plus!

With the assistance of my youngest daughter, my kitchen counters and cabinets are now greatly improved.  The main change was in cookbooks, recipes and spices.  At her suggestion, I moved my spices to a different cabinet (something I never thought of doing) and purchased some amazing racks from The Container Store.  Next, I went through every cookbook I owned, and marked any recipes I truly thought I might make in the next year or so.  I am still in the process of writing those recipes on cards for my recipe box.  Yes, I'm still old school; I'd rather pull out a card than fre up the iPad when in the kitchen.  I'm passing the cookbooks on to a friend ...reuse, recycle, etc.!

This was the spice cabinet had a double-decker Lazy Susan in it, but spices were tucked everywhere behind it too.  What a mess it was.  This makes much more sense!

My cookbooks were on my kitchen counter, under this cabinet, taking up a huge corner area, always looking messy.  Now they are in a nicely organized baking cabinet.  My recipe box will fit in front of the cookbooks when I am finished.

And, I am extremely happy with my spice cabinet.  As I use up some of the larger ones, I will replace them with smaller ones that will fit in the racks ...then maybe there will be space in here for my Crockpots!

All of this has reignited my desire to cook, and is the first step on my journy to a neater, more organized home!

In knitting news, I have started my Christmas knitting.  Every year I tell myself I am not going to knit gifts for Christmas, but here I am, doing it again anyway.  In my defense, I have two sweaters for grandchildren who will not fit into them for very long if I wait any longer to make them!  Here is a picture of the first one, a Wrap-Collar Sweater that I'm making in a size 6-7 for my grandson.  The wrap-collar will be in an oatmeal color of the same yarn.

Until next time ...happy organizing and happy knitting!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Recharging, Renewing, and Rediscovering.....

The past two years have been very difficult. Don't get me wrong, there have been many wonderful times as well. Last July we took our adult children on a cruise for our 30th anniversary, and we all had a wonderful time!  

In addition, both of my daughters graduated from college this past May, one week apart .....and the younger one is extremely proud of the fact that she was the first!  

Okay, now for the difficult part ... 
First, Knit 'n Knibble, my LYS (local yarn shop) shut down.  I enjoyed teaching classes and hanging out there for many years.  Actually, they reinvented themselves and now offer mobile lessons, finishing services, ready-to-wear items and other finished goods, and even do commissioned work (Link: Knit 'n Knibble).

Next, I decided to go back to school to reinstate my teaching certificate, which I originally received in 1980.  I had the crazy notion that it would be an honorable career move to teach reading to high school students who desperately needed it. What a struggle that turned out to be .....two years of ninth graders in a Title I school with very little administrative support regarding behavior issues.  How can you create a warm and inviting learning environment where students are engaged in higher order thinking when you are not allowed to take away their phones (it's an addiction - seriously, there should be a 12-step program), isolate them in the classroom, or send them out in the hallway when they are misbehaving?  The phones are a liability issue, the isolation is a "damage their psyche" issue, and the hallway is a safety issue case you are as confused as I was.  To top this off, I even had one student threaten to put me in the hospital.  So, after two years, I am DONE.  Yes, that was bold and in all caps.  

And finally, an estranged family member decided to reconnect with our family (we were able to enjoy a wedding and the birth of another grandchild), but then his determination to stay removed from the family once again caused us much pain.   Enough said, that is dirty laundry that I don't want to air any further on this blog. 

Now,  I am determined to rediscover how to enjoy life.  I am updating and revamping my Etsy shop (stay tuned for new items) and dusting off my blog.

On a final note, I visited my new favorite yarn shop again yesterday with a dear friend.   Four Purls  is located in Winter Haven, Florida and has an amazing selection of yarns and all things "knitterly".  I have been going through knit shop withdrawal for quite a while and yesterday's trip was very satisfying.  The beautiful bag shown below was a gift from my friend and is a RockFlowerPaper original.  The yarns are both from Cascade, the teal is Alpaca Lace, and the gray is Venezia Sport ....they are both destined to become shawls.  The lovely wooden yarn bowl will probably find a home in my new camper (more on the camper in a later post), and the purple needle keeper will prevent my needles from poking out of my fabric bags!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Times ….How they have Changed!

Messages Gleaned from Songs ….

Maybe it was just me, but back in the 80’s, I liked the song “I’ll be Watching You” by Sting. To me, it was a guy singing about how much he cared about his girl who had recently left him. My daughters, however, growing up in the 00’s (is that the proper way to denote the 2000’s?), call it the “Stalker Song”. For those of you who may not be familiar with the song (really, can there be anyone out there that hasn’t heard it?) ….it starts out with this verse:

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you

Then, later in the song, it goes on to say:
Since you've gone, I've been lost without a trace
I dream at night, I can only see your face
I look around but it's you I can't replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby, baby please

Oh, can't you see
You belong to me
Now my poor heart aches
Every step you take

If you would like to see the entire lyrics, here’s a link:

Anyway, was it just me, and my naiveté? Was it always a stalker song, or have times changed so much that teens are immediately cynical about life?



Television …
We used to watch television to relax and unwind from our day. We’d let the program take our mind to an imaginary life or place where things were perfect, or funny, or different from our daily routine. Most shows required the use of a brain …..and usually the brain was being used in a different capacity than it was during the work day. 

Now, however, you can’t get away from “Reality T.V.” The reality shows are taking over the airways. I don’t want to see what someone else thinks is “reality” …which is usually FAR from it! I have enough “reality” in my own life, thank you. (I hope there are others out there that feel the same way. If not, sorry.) I’ll stick to watching CSI type shows, and “LOST” (hopefully a good replacement will show up next season, as this season is the last …..I’m extremely sad) …..but don’t get me on my soapbox! I like (and need) a brain workout during the week!

So, as a result …nowadays, it seems a lot of people are watching less television, and spending more time in front of the computer, playing games, online or otherwise. Is this a bad change? Probably not. Wasting time is wasting time, and improving your mind is always a good thing.

Pet Attire …

Of course, I have to tie this to knitting somehow. If you have read my blog before you shouldn’t be surprised.

Doggy Apparel. Need I say more? Sure, an ambitious knitter or crocheter may have knit their dog a sweater or two back in “the day”. I’m guilty. I’m planning to do it again ….so sue me. I love my doggies! However ….since the movies “Legally Blonde” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” came out, doggy apparel has become quite an industry.

If this kind of thing interests you, here is a link to a site where these and many other garments can be found for your little sweeties:

I’m sure there are many other doggy apparel sites, but the wedding attire shown on this one was so cute I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it!

Anyway …the doggy sweater I have in my Ravelry queue to make for my chi-doxy (chihuahua/dashound mix) is called “Walking the Dog”. Here’s a link:’s really cute, but I’ll have to make the medium size, because Chico is a little chunky. Hence the need for a new sweater.

Times, they keep on changin’. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. But through it all, us knitters, we keep on knittin’! (Usually while listening to music, watching T.V., or keeping up with friends on FaceBook!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day-Trippin' in Georgia

During a severe attack of knit shop withdrawal, I convinced my daughter Amanda that we needed to locate a “real” knit shop in her area. The local Michael’s, Joann’s, and Hobby Lobby just weren’t enough. A web search pulled up only two within a 75 mile radius of Fort Benning. One, Darlene’s Knit Shop in Opelika, Alabama, was no longer open for business. The other was Two Sisters Knitting Nook in Newnan, Georgia.

We left the house after lunch so that both Evelyn and Liam would nap in the car. Strategic planning is not just a good habit, it’s sometimes necessary for mom-sanity!

Two Sisters is on the corner of a block in a cute little downtown area, surrounded by antique and gift shops and an art gallery. We were greeted with a friendly hello by two lovely women as we entered the shop with a double stroller. The shop was very spacious. Sometimes double-strollers and yarn shops don’t mix well, but in this case, it was fine. We felt very comfortable wandering around, enjoying all of the fabulous yarn. Many of the brands were ones that my local shop, Knit n Knibble in Tampa, Florida (Ravelry link: ) carries, but there (of course) were some I had not seen before. Many were wools; face it, you can have only so much 100% wool in Florida. They also had some cotton yarns that were new to me.

In addition to the wonderful yarn, they have a lovely selection of buttons, stitch markers, knitting jewelry and pins, t-shirts, handmade soap, sock blanks, needles galore, and bags and change purses made from recycled plastic bottles that were adorable! Definitely worth the trip! My granddaughter Evelyn fell in love with a “princess” learn-to-knit kit, which I had never seen before. I told her that it would be a great present when she gets a little older (she’s only 3).

Well ….I managed to walk out of there without adding too much to my stash. If it wasn’t for the upcoming “Stitches South 2010”, I’m sure I could have easily done more damage to my pocketbook! I bought a sock blank called “Happy Choices” in color 9 (shades of brown) by Plymouth Yarn Company, two flower buttons for a summer toddler top I am designing, two pattern booklets by Kertzer: SRK 424 and SRK 420 (see picture) , two change purses, and two wedges of an awesome handmade soap in pumpkin spice scent. I resisted the urge to purchase a needle-gauge pendant in purple, but it was very difficult!

Here is information on the shop ….stop in if you are ever near Newnan, Georgia ….it is definitely worth it!
Two Sisters Knitting Nook
15 Greenville Street
Newnan, Georgia
Phone:  770-683-3809
Ravelry Link:

Next, we walked around the block to the opposite corner, and visited “Scott’s Bookstore”. What a wonderful place! They have a huge selection of children’s books, and a little table with a couple of puzzles to entertain the little ones while the parents browse. Of course they also have the other usual sections, best sellers, fiction, educational, cookbooks, etc. Nice place, a great treat for Evelyn for being so good. Amanda surprised Evelyn with “Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar”, and Liam with a stuffed football (even though Liam cheated on the being good part …he slept or ate most of the time).

Here is information on the shop ….another great find!
Scott's Bookstore
28 South Court Square
Newnan, Georgia
Phone:  770-253-2960

No website that I could find, but here is the Yahoo Travel description:
Established in 1976, this full service bookstore offers all the books and tapes on Lewis Grizzard, a Coweta native son, plus offers an extensive children's section and numerous services.

Double Take!
As we were walking back to the car, we passed a store picture window that made us do a double-take! So of course we had to take a picture. Little town, almost at sunset ….the main street was starting to look deserted because it was after 5pm. Amanda whipped out her phone and snapped this shot ......
I was already picturing the headlines the next day ….

”Two Strange Women Capture Their Dastardly Deed on Newfangled Modern Phone”.

An arm, belonging to Newnan Town Founder Mr. , was found grasping the window display shelf of his beloved general store, established circa 1905. Although the women swore they were innocent, the double stroller and two children were not a solid alibi for the crime. Said women are currently serving an undetermined sentence in the local jailhouse.

We were in a small town in mid-western Georgia. Might as well be West Virginia ….if that had actually happened, we would never see the light of day again. I grew up in Miami, spent some time in Chicago and New York for business …..I’d rather be mugged in one of those places than get arrested for dropping a banana peel on the sidewalk in the Deep South!

‘Nuff said. Come on! It’s WAY past Halloween. What was up with that window?

We saw a gorgeous house as we were driving into Newnan. On the way out we decided to take a picture of it. Luckily there was a little traffic, and the hometown people were very polite. Amanda whipped out her phone again, and the “Strange Women” did their version of a drive-by shooting as they fled the town.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions and a New Mantra

This year I resolve to:
  1. Call my mother more often. 
  2. Knit at least one pair of infant or preemie socks a month to donate to the hospital. 
  3. Get out and walk more for my health. 
  4. Finish at least 2 UFOs (unfinished objects) for each new project I start.
***  Exceptions: designing, new classes, and new babies!

When our kids were still living at home, we had a family tradition of sitting down together on New Year’s Day and making our New Year’s Resolutions. Like most other people, we tried very hard to follow them during January, but by March, not so much.

It was a great idea, but unfortunately we always seemed to have very high hopes for ourselves …..many of the resolutions were rarely reasonable. Since the kids have grown and gone their separate ways, my husband Jim and I have not really kept up the tradition. I want to start it up again, at least for myself.

As the years pass, I continue to better understand my priorities, strengths, and shortcomings. I think my 2010 resolution list is one that I will be able to follow long past March. I won’t guarantee that I will be able to make it all the way to the end of December, but past March will be an improvement.

Baby steps. That’s the way to accomplish things. Biting off more that you can chew is a guaranteed path to failure. I wish I had taken that advice from my cheerleading coach in high school. It’s sad, but I don’t even remember her name, but I’ll never forget the conversation she had with me at the end of my Junior year. She told me that I needed to choose between cheerleading and dance/drama. Of course I knew everything then, after all, I was 17! I wasn’t about to let anyone tell me what I could and couldn’t do. No one was going to put limitations on me! Well, she tried. I didn’t make the Varsity Cheerleading Squad in my Senior year, even though I was Co-Captain of the JV Squad. Boy was I mad. I immediately tried out for the Marching Band’s dance team, and became a Rampage. And of course, I was still in the Drama Club, and taking dance lessons 3 nights a week.

So back to my resolutions. We’re only into the second week of January, and I have called my mother a couple of times, I have created a pattern for newborn socks in Sweater Wizard, and have leftover sock yarn ready. I have walked a couple of times, even though the weather is cold ………and, I’ve finished one FO! A sample blanket for an upcoming class I am going to teach at Knit n Knibble in Tampa, FL. It’s my daughter’s design, available on Ravelry …..The Sleepy Owl. 
This is the smallest version (mine)

And here is the largest – the original (Amanda’s):

And, since new babies don’t count when starting a new project ……socks for Liam using my leftover Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino from my Red Beret!

So, finally, 35 years after my conversation with the cheerleading coach, I’m much older, and a little wiser, and realize that no matter how much I want to accomplish before I die, it won’t all happen. Hence, my small, doable list of resolutions. Baby steps. That’s my new mantra.

Obviously Obsessed

I love knitting. I love the feel of the needles in my hands, and the repetition of making each stitch. I love playing with new yarns, and I look forward to working with old favorites. Starting a new project is always exciting.

The other day in my local yarn shop, an interesting question came up. Someone wanted to know how many started projects we each have. Well, I have at least 50. Yes, that was a five with a zero following it. A few monogamous knitters in our group were appalled, but to some of the other knitters in the group, that number didn’t sound unreasonable at all.

How can I possibly have so many projects started at one time? I enjoy making things for other people …….those are the projects that are most likely to be completed in a timely fashion (especially if they have a deadline like a birth, or a special occasion). And then, even though I know that my knitting time should be committed to other started projects, I cast on something for myself. Somehow those projects seem to always get placed on the back-burner when something else comes up. Add to that the at least 12 projects that are ones I use in the classes that I teach.

         50 – 12 = 38

See, it’s sounding a little better, right?

It was a sad day this past November when I had to go to the mall to buy myself a cardigan, because the knitter didn’t even have a sweater. After that shopping trip, I decided that 2010 would be the year of finishing knitting projects for me.

My latest FO (finished object) is a hat for myself out of Vogue Knitting, Fall 2009, called the “#11 Vine and Leaf Beret” by Angela Hahn. I decided to make it in red. I was so excited to be knitting for myself that it wasn’t until the 4th repeat of Chart 1 that I realized I was doing only K2tog (knit 2 stitches together) instead of both K2tog and SSK (slip, slip knit). I just didn’t have the heart to rip it all out, so my lace doesn’t show as much directional change as it should. I decided to continue to use only K2tog for the rest of Chart 1 and for Chart 2 as well. Since I was consistent, it’s not too bad … looks like it was intended to be that way. If you place it side by side with the picture of the original hat, you can see the difference, but on my head, it should be just fine.

At least it’s now an FO for ME!