Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In the Midst

I've about had it with feeling like the Bubonic Plague has descended.  But this morning I feel a little better, so I'm going to call that a win.  My own eye is a bit suspicious, though.  Wouldn't it be great if I have pink eye, too?  Yep, everybody loves pink eye.

Despite the germfest, I've had a bit of creative inspiration.  It's been all needles and thread and words!! over here, I tell you.  What a wonderful thing to be working again.  The irony of this blog is that I never mention that in real life, I'm a writer.  I never mention it, partially because I feel like in many ways, I do my worst writing here and partially because my relationship to creative writing has been tenuous at best since the baby came (and probably since way before that if we're going to get all honest).  The past few weeks have witnessed a turn-around.  It's probably the weather, the intoxicating levels of sunlight, rereading some Margaret Atwood, something like that.  Whatever it is, whatever grace I've stumbled upon, I'll take it.  I've been doing "real" writing again (and what, all of my other work is just imaginary??) AND I've also been quite crafty.  All of this while playing nursemaid and patient in quick succession.  It's gotta be the sunlight!

Inspiration comes in many forms, but lately I'm loving these blogs:

The lovely Kelly Rae.  I've been familiar with her work in a general way for awhile, but recently have been reading her blog and really studying her paintings.  I love the layers, the texture, the richness of each piece.  I like that her pieces look like they arise organically from the process, which is how I work best, which is what inspires me the most.

Calamity Kim.  Again, someone I've known about but whose work is speaking to me loud and clear lately.  Vintagey, textural, full of colors, and utterly yummy.

While baby naps, I'm going to try to get some stitching done.  If I get to the battery store, I may have pictures for you by later tonight.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


So once E's pink eye cleared up, Sarah was all scummed up with a sinus infection and ear infection.  Add that to my own fears of swine flu and I'm about to call the CDC.  It's tough because the winter has been so very long and we're all really just freaking out to get outside and play and have fun with our friends and now I feel like we're quarantined.  And once we're healthy, there's the possible global pandemic to worry about.  I know it's likely not as big of a deal as, say, the 1918 flu, but for a toddler, any flu is too much flu.

In other news, I did sneak over to a garage sale across the alley this morning and picked up a plastic singing tea pot for the E.  So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Pictures?  Not today.  Something is different in my photo menu and I can't see the pictures before selecting them.  Which is obviously not a good thing.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pink Eye and Dishcloths

So the baby has pink eye in both eyes.  Believe me when I say Yuck.  I'm hoping I don't get it, but it's really contagious and E totally doesn't understand about not spreading germs.  I don't think I can wash my hands enough times to make up for him smearing his face all over me all day long.

In the meantime, I'm going to share some of my dishcloth pictures as I work towards a most perfect dishcloth image!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring At Last

We officially took the plastic off the windows, so it must be spring. Meanwhile, I haven't blogged all month. We did have a brief internet service interruption, but mostly it's been busy town around here.

There's been crafty goodness.

And Easter fun.

And today, there was a long walk in the warm weather, with a quick stop at a toy store to see what they had in the way of tea sets for the little E. They had some really cool sets. Like this and this. But what he really wanted was this. That's right folks. Went in for a girly, flowery tea set and got a Chicago Bears-style football. Ah, the heart wants what it wants.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Too Old?

Am I too old to have just discovered the library? Probably. Truth be told, it's a rediscovery. But these days, the library is like Amazon, except you have to pick the books up. No. I'm serious. I order them online and just go get them when they're ready. Currently reading:

Bend the Rules Sewing
Mamma Zen
Doodle Stitching
200 Crochet Blocks

Plus, when you're done, you don't have to store those pesky books yourself. Nope, the trusty library takes care of that for you. Also, and this is the best part, it's free.

The library. Who knew?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tiny Socks and Other Stuff

A close friend of Sarah's is having a baby soon, so of course we needed some baby socks. Knitting for babies is such an instant gratification experience. This is a modified basic sock pattern knit in Artyarns Supermerino in colorway 105. The socks themselves are turning out really heavy, so hopefully this May baby will be able to wear them. And sock number two is turning out a touch smaller, which is kind of a bummer. Hopefully they'll end up being close enough. I always have a few false starts and ripping back with the first sock, which results in it being looser and generally more stretched out. Then I sail through sock two. Sock two is a lot more fun to knit, but it would be nice if my socks would match ever.

Last night was our first official Pizza Night, wherein we made pizza that were not at one time frozen. It's going to be a weekly thing, though it'll normally be on Friday. We used store-bought dough from Trader Joe's and it was quite yummy. I do plan to make dough from scratch eventually. In the meantime, though, TJ's is perfectly good. It gave us an opportunity to use our baking stone--a gift from Sarah's mom that we rarely use. I did suffer a kitchen injury when I sliced my finger on my Cuisinart blade while looking for something in the knife drawer. Clearly, that was a very bad location for the blade. It has now been relocated. Luckily, the cut wasn't too bad, just kind of gory and upsetting.

We also brought up an old dresser from the basement for E's room. He's getting so many clothes they weren't fitting in the desk we've been using as a dresser. Plus, as he gets bigger, his clothes get bigger, so the same amount of clothes take up more space. It's nice to have everything where we can find it now instead of crammed in here and there and wherever it would fit. E celebrated by skipping his afternoon nap. We were not amused.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I was putting a sleeping E down for his nap today and was struck hard by how much of a person he is. He holds together now all on his own. He doesn't need me to support his head to keep his neck from breaking. Doesn't need me to restrain his arms to keep him from blinding himself (though he does have a huge self-inflicted scratch on his nose--oh, well!) Doesn't need my presence to have his own identity. It's miraculous, truly. This is how people find religion, I think, deep in the well of something they never imagined.

People told me, of course. I mean, it's no big secret: becoming a parent changes everything. And it's true. At the same time, what I didn't understand was how it would change the little things. I knew would change the big things: my body, my sleep, my daily routine, my relationship with my partner, my relationship with myself, my house, my ability to lift a car off of my child. But it also changes the way I look at the sky, traffic, television, food, time.

And what I really didn't get was the fact that I would have created a person. I knew I was going to create a baby, obviously. But that baby is a real person. And someday he'll be a man. Which is crazy. I made a man.

The responsibility of this could crush me. But I can't ever go back to not having it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Picture Perfect, Or Something

I've been having trouble taking good pictures of my work, so I started practicing.

Ii don't feel like I've perfected my art.

But I think I'm learning some things.

Like light seems to be one key ingredient.

And taking lots of shots seems to be the other one.

I don't know why I always think I can just do something perfectly without practicing. I mean, nothing in my life so far has led me to believe that. It always takes practice.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Although it's a well-known fact around here that posting wakes up the baby, I'm going for it.

Spring is trying in vain to arrive here. Ah, March. It's all two steps forward and two steps back. Sunny, cloudy, warm, cold. Blah, blah, blah. Truth be told, I'm a summer girl. Give me hot day after hot day after hot day. The unpredictability of Spring is a first-class pain in the you-know-where. For example, we're supposed to go to the park today, but it's not technically warm enough for me. I need a full on 60 degrees to truly enjoy outside. However, E and I can't just sit around and stare at each other, so we'll go. The plan is to meet some mom friends, but they're showing our apartment, so we'll be running late. Why are they showing our apartment, you ask? Our building is up for sale again. I'm trying not to freak out about it, though. With this economy, who knows what will happen.

Crafting continues. It's dishcloth central around here. I'm trying to get really good pictures for the shop, but these cloths are tricky little puppies. I'm having trouble making them look good. And our camera is mostly not good at being, you know, in focus. So trying to capture detail is a real task. Add that to the light being utterly unreliable and here's what you get.

It's fine, but it's a little underwhelming. I'm going to figure it out, though. I think I need to set up a photo area in our back room, where the light is better. It's more of a storage area than a room right now, but we do have big plans.

I'm thinking of designing a knit dishcloth as well. I've been inspired by some amazing new-to-me knitters. Check this out. So up my alley, right? Simple, classic, red and white. Everything that's awesome about washing dishes. I'm going to try knitting one up tonight and see how it goes.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fancy This

Just a little flower-heavy improvisational embroidery in honor of the Chicago sun.

The long, miserable winter is Donesville and I say yay. Crafting is so seasonal sometimes. When cold weather appears on the doorstep, it's knit, knit, knit. Spring is definitely for embroidery, with its light, airy lines and bright colors. I didn't have any patterns I was really into (that weren't missing), so I did this one freehand. I have a bunch of small embroidery pieces. I'm thinking of turning them into a quilt with, you know, all of my spare time.

I've also been working on a name banner for E. I had planned it for his birthday, but I think Easter is a perfectly good time for a banner!

I suppose that banner pretty much spills the beans on E's name. Let's just try to keep it between you and me, though, okay? I'm trying to decide how to finish the edges of this. I'll keep you posted.

In kitchen news, I'm making my first vegetable stock from scratch right now. I used the odds and ends of various veggies from the past few weeks, some seriously lackluster celery, plus an onion, a carrot and a mushroom. I'm hoping it turns out not yucky. I find the idea of making stock so, I don't know, 1950's housewife romantic. There's definitely a 1950's housewife side to me. It's the other side of me from the side that's gay and hates to clean.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Losing It

I temporarily lost my Wee Wonderfuls embroidery patterns this week. It was awful. Those puppies are not cheap, for one thing. And for another, it just drives me nuts not to be able to find things. This is bad because I can't find things a lot. I know the problem is a combination of having too much stuff and not having enough time to pay attention. Luckily, I found my patterns, tucked inside my Jenny Hart Sublime Stitching book. Unluckily, I am also missing my rotary cutter ruler dealie. Because it's clear, it's very easy to lose. And I'm guessing that I stashed it someplace fast because E was around. Now I can't find it anywhere and I need it. I've been using a wooden ruler, which not only yields really crappy, inaccurate results, it's also kind of dangerous. It'd be super stupid to cut one's fingertips off while trying to craft.

This is all further evidence that I need to get this house in order. The overhaul got a bit stalled with E's birthday extravaganza and subsequent enhanced running ability on the part of the baby-who-is-not-such-a-baby-anymore. So that's the week-end project. That and finishing my shop update. This vintage-esque set of crocheted dishcloths is there already.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's Always Sunny in Chicago

Seriously. It's like 70 out. We're going to the park after a nap. In the meantime, I'm an embroidering fool. And I made an impromptu recycled sweater owl. His name is Stripey Owl.

I think I'm going to make a basket full of recycled wool toys for the E for Easter. This little guy was superfast to make. I definitely want to make some with pockets that he can put things in. He's very into putting things in and taking things out these days. He's very developmentally on track. I'm so proud. I try not to stress too much about that kind of thing, but let's face it. Not stressing isn't exactly my thing. I'm more of a stress first, ask questions later kind of gal. Anyway, he loves, for example, taking laundry out of the basket and putting it back in. This is fine with unfolded laundry, of which we generally have quite a bit. It's a bit more frustrating with folding laundry that we haven't put away yet, of which we also have quite a bit. Seems a shame to fold it if E is just going to unfold it. On the other hand, he's generally so happy doing it that I let it go. I mean, a happy baby means a happy mama, and that's good all around.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cleaning Up

My computer and Blogger had a bit of a misunderstanding the other day, which lost me a labor-intensive picture-heavy post. Blast! But I think they've worked things out. Let's try again.

Dishcloths are still in the air around here.

And these will be coming soon to an Etsy Shop near you.

I've been enjoying using the ones I made for myself in my own kitchen, and I have to say, it makes me happy everytime I wipe up a spill or wash down a high-chair tray. Which is good news for me since these things happen nearly 60 times each week. I do think my kitchen is cleaner. I suspect those housewives of yore were on to something when they decked out their kitchens with pretty things.

I also had time to do some party photo editing.

The calm before the storm

More of the decorations

And more of the snake party favors

The snakes are made from recycled children's clothes. And I have to admit, I did utterly enjoy picking out girls' clothes for once. The boys' clothes offerings at the thrift store tend toward the dull or previously destroyed. If you need ugly colors and sports motifs, the thrift store is just the ticket. But if you're looking for cute patterns or a color besides tomato red or navy blue, you are doomed, doomed, doomed. The girls' aisle, by comparison, is brimming with cute prints and various colors and most of the clothes are not wrecked. You do have to sift through the "diva" and "princess" boloney, but the payoff is real and substantial. And frankly, I often find the cuter boys' items are mixed in here.

We don't have many picture from the actual party, but we did catch the key moment: E takes the cake.

If there's anything more fun than a one year old eating a whole cake, I don't know what it is.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Humble Dishcloth

I mentioned a few weeks back that I was getting into homemade dishcloths. Well, I was not kidding.

I tried knitting them, but the crocheted ones have a certain appeal that's really working for me.

The hook feels good in my hand and in the round is a snap with crochet, whereas knitting round things is more complicated. It requires techniques and thinking. And boy oh boy am I not into thinking right now. So I found some patterns, tried them, couldn't follow them, and made my own. I'm feeling very industrious, really.

And behind the scenes.

And in raw.

Cotton yarn is so basic and honest, and isn't that what we all need right now?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just Like A Real Boy

So, since the schitzophrenia that is Chicago weather blessed us with the high 50's today, we headed for the park. It was E's first visit to the park as a walker. He totally rocked it. He ran all over, up ramps, down stairs, up slides, through tunnels. Pretty spectacular when you consider that at this time last year, he was still all crunched up from, you know, the womb. It was bittersweet, though, since instead of chatting up my mom friends, I just ran around after my child and tried to keep him from dying. Just like every other day.

And he's awake. D'oh!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


E turned one last week, and so did everybody else's baby. It's been party, party, party around here! We just got back from a party with Harper at the Garfield Park Conservatory where E ate lettuce off the ground. Why is it that even when you have a whole plate of food for a baby, he'd way rather eat garbage? Mary was smart and planned her baby's party for someplace not her house. This was a smart idea.

We went another way with it.

Yeah. For E's party we threw a whole big to-do in our whole little apartment. I drew inspiration from here for the polka dot theme.

I have to say, the dots were the cheapest party decorations in the history of birthdays. I spent 95 cents on them. Scrapbooking paper was 5 for 95 cents at Joann's Presidents Day Sale, because it's very important to presidents that Americans get good deals on scrapbooking supplies. For the record, you should never pay full price for anything at Joann's. You should receive a minimum 30% discount. If it's not on sale, wait. It'll go on sale sooner or later, or you'll get a coupon in the mail or, while you wait, you'll find you didn't even need the whatever it was (probably you didn't). Anyway, I traced bowls on the paper and cut them out, then hung them with ribbon I already owned.

We made polka dot sandwiches, which were such a hit that they were gone in an instant. No picture. No nothin'. They were just regular sandwiches cut into circles. The inspiration website used a cookie cutter to make circles, but we just used a glass. I do have two containers full of crusts-only sandwiches in my freezer if anyone is interested. You can choose cheese and turkey or cheese and hummus. We also served Cream of Vegetable Soup (thanks to my friend Anne for the recipe!!). By the way, when I'm saying "we" here, I mostly mean my brother and sister-in-law. Colleen made the sandwiches and here's my brother Paul putting the finishing touches on the soup, wearing one of my seldom-worn vintage aprons.

Doesn't he just have that 50's housewife vibe? They had all this time on their hands because their sweet baby slept through the whole party. Seriously. He slept through a party of like 30 people, many of them racing through the house with balloons and screaming. I need to get a baby like that.

Of course, when you sleep through a party, you do miss some fun times. You miss the recycled snake party favors, for example.

These were really fun to make, once I learned a little bit about stitching stretchy fabric. Before I learned a little bit, I confess I did some swearing.

Of course, there had to be cake:

Thanks to my mother-in-law for the cakes! In my original vision of the party, I made amazing cupcakes for everyone from scratch and decorated them with icing and dots and stuff. They looked amazing. Lucky for me, though, in reality, I didn't have to lift a finger or we'd still be waiting! E enjoyed totally destroying his very own cake in the traditional rite of passage.

I hope to get some more pictures in the next few days as I get them edited. In the meantime, I can't believe my tiny baby is already a year old. He's absolutely the most amazing, important thing in my life. Happy Birthday, little boy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

I love Valentine's Day. I love red and hearts and pink and flowers and all that jazz. I also love that Sarah got up early and went out and got me bagels (and put gas in the car, 'cause she's that kind of girl). Too bad she has to work today. Sigh. Guess I'll just have to hang out and embroider things and cut hearts out of paper. I designed a bunch of Valentine embroidery images (see above) but never really got them all finished. I guess that's what life with a toddler is like. E did enjoy the felt hearts I made him and the heart bag inspired by The Crafty Crow.

And I'm enjoying the paper hearts. I love cutting paper. It feels so art class, but in a good way.

So, enjoy the love today and keep it going into tomorrow!