Saturday, May 31, 2008

Purse Prefelting

I love this purse pattern! Talk about easy. I have made two purse bodies and several flowers. Here's a photo of the purse bodies. The first body is bigger then the second. I think the second is more accurate to the pattern.
Here is a photo of the flower.

Here is a photo of possible flower placement on the purse.

I still have to felt the purse bodies and handles. I won't be felting the flowers.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bee Guy and Upside Down Tomatoes

Here is Fred and Bob the Bee Guy. He took away our second hive. Poor guy! It was really, really hot that day and he had th ebee suit on. Our bees were very sweet and didn't put up a fuss. Fred misses them. I miss them a tiny bit too.

In other news, Fred has built an upsidedown tomato holder. The photos of his marvelous creation follow. Evidently, hanging tomato plants upsidedown if preferable because then you don't have to stack them and it is easier to get the tomatoes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I Can't Wait...In Two Days I Will Have:

Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More! That's right! A whole book on how to crochet zombies, ninjas, robots and VAMPIRES! Woot. I'm so stoked.

Imagine....crocheting oodles of vampires and then mailing them to my former students who will soon be college freshmen. That beats a bag of cookies any day. And aren't they cute? Oh, I just cannot wait. I'll have oodles of toys....a whole creepy cute army. Not Anna's Infant Army, but still a decent army to rule the crochet world. Bwahahahaha!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Yarndoodles Is Up!

Yea! Gisah, or Yarndoodles, has finally gotten her blog on. Find her at She is an amazing crocheter, knitter and chef. I'll have to take a photo of the fantastic sweater she created for me, and the two afghans, and....Well, perhaps I can't do photos of everything, but believe me they are great!


Fred is experimenting with peppers. He has been starting peppers from seed from Santa Fe School of Cooking where we attended two great cooking classes over spring break. I highly recommend taking a class if you are in the Santa Fe area. We took a Native American Cooking class and a NW traditional cooking class. Both were excellent. We had grand plans to make prickly pear syrup for christmas presents but the darn birds got to the crop before we did. GRRRR.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Holy Crap! My dad read The Host...

I'm so pleased with my dad! He read The Host by Stephenie Meyer
AND HE LIKED IT! Go Dad! From all reports, the book is a compelling read. Ellen has my copy. ELLEN: Finish it quickly. I didn't even know my dad would read fantasy. I'll have to ask him more questions about his reading tastes.

I've got the second book in the Leven Thumps' series: Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret by Obert Skye. I read the first one because a 7th grader (Alex) strongly recommended it to me, as in read this or I will pester you to death until you do! But in a good way. 8-) It was very entertaining. I imagine this one will be as well.
Oh, BTW, Audible is having a semi-annual, half-price sale! Woot. I bought bunches of books to listen to as I crochet. I will have oodles to read. I got a several non-fiction titles as well: Cultural Literacy, The God Delusion and The Cheating Culture. Hopefully, they will be worth the purchase price, even at half price. I'm such a weenie about has to be very engaging to keep my interest.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ava Wrap De Novo

Well, I sent off the American version of row 3 on the Ava Wrap from Vintage Crochet and French Girl Knits is going to compare it with the English version. It seems to me that they are missing a piece on how to deal with the V stitch in between the triples. I sincerely doubt it is user error! ha!

I guess I will see tomorrow. Still no bee guy. But Fred is ready to donate our 11 year old van since he now has the llama car to drive around.

Big Girls's Stitch n Bitch is this Monday at my house. My crochet peeps are coming over. I never thought I would actually write that sentence in my whole entire life! Anyway, we should have a very nice chat and nosh and hook session.

The other problem I am having with the Nico skirt I am going to take up to Aunt Helen's this weekend and see if she can show me what I am doing wrong. If she can't fix it, Gisah can. 8-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Down with Vintage Crochet, Onward with Chicks with Sticks

I've officially given up on the Vintage Crochet book and have moved on to the felted flower purse in Chicks with Sticks Guide to Crochet. The purse is very cute and seems pretty easy so far: crocheted in a continuous round. I'm using some of the green wool I got in Santa Fe.

I am very irritated with my new glasses. They just broke. They are these very cool Italian specs from Try Change that are plastic and you pop on the stems and nose piece and can change them out. Last night, I pulled them off and they broke down the middle. Now I have to see about getting them fixed. GRRRRRRR.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bob the Bee Guy

This is Bob Vander Herchen. He's our bee guy. He is looking at the bees on hive b (main house). He'll be back on Tuesday to get them. He also took care of the bees in hive a (guest house). I'll post photos tomorrow of that! I have to scan them. Fred took a shot of some of the bees he moved from hive a. It's a bit hard to see, but that box is full of bees and honey and comb....he removed the whole hive. They weren't africanized, so I am very glad we didn't have them killed. They will move to Englewood on Bob's bee farm.

Yarns from Sari Material?

My new crochet book the chicks with sticks Guide to Crochet has a very cool bag that is made out of yarn from recycled sari material! Way cool. So, I went looking for sari yarn and found The Wool Peddler. Go and take a look because these yarns kick major booty. The colors are amazing. I've tried to see if there are any other suppliers, but haven't found any that look as good as The Wool Peddler. I'm very high on this book as it seems to have some easy and cool patterns. There is also a felted bag that is uber-cool. It also has felted flowers. I don't like the handle; I think a crocheted handle would be better, perhaps with smaller flowers for a completely flowery handbag. Sort of Queen Elizabeth and I could wear it with my tea hat to tea. After all, if you are going to wear a hat, you need a great purse to go with it. I'm still having problems with the patterns in Vintage Crochet. I tried the Nico skirt and the final round (8) is a bitch. I can't seem to get the corners to work out. I ended up with three corners...there should be four. This is the second problem with a pattern from this book and I am very irritated. I'll take it to Northern California with me when we go on vacation. Gisah will know what to do to fix it.

Yarn and Thud and Tea and Brownie Recipe

YARN: I posted earlier about the new cubbies I bought. They haven't arrived yet. But I bought something else as well:

It's a Swift Yarn Winder. I got mine at Jo-Ann's. I've wound five hanks into handy yarn balls. It works great and it is beautiful being made all of birch. I highly recommend it if you have a bunch of hanks lying around. Beats trying to con someone into holding the hank for you!

THUD: In thud news, seems the old boy is back to his normal, curmudgeonly state. Our vet, Dr. Howell, diagnosed fluid in the heart lining perhaps caused by a sarcoma. Seems, though, that while trying to get a sample of the fluid, the hole created also leaked the fluid into his body cavity and dispersed it harmlessly. YEA! So he is back to normal, nothing wrong with him except what was wrong to begin with: thyroid, allergies, hips, arthritis. He is the most expensive pound puppy ever! Isn't he a cutie! The photo is of him and Willow, our chocolate lab.

TEA: On Saturday I held the 7th annual Senior Tea at my house. I invite all the seniors I am especially fond of to tea. I would have photos, but the ones Fred took are not very good. So I am waiting for Steve to post them to his facebook. Then I will download them and share. I had a wonderful time, we all had a lot to eat, and it was fun to just have my seniors all together. I really don't know what I will do with myself when they are gone. It will be so different. Very quiet! 8-) I was very thankful that Amanda, Lauren, Anna P. and Ellen stayed because not only did it give me extra time to spend talking with them, but they very kindly helped handwash the tea cups and saucers. Lauren actually helped make sandwiches and then stayed to help clean as well. So, she better get her facebook account because if she doesn't how will I know she is back in town and take her dinner?
GREAT BROWNIE RECIPE FROM BARBARA: Take a brownie mix and follow directions on box. Put 1/2 of the mix in a 13x9 pan. Then take three (3) symphony big bars and lay them on top of the brownie mix. Pour the last half of the brownie mix on the chocolate bars. Bake.....and then eat! So fabulous and so easy!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thud and the Llama Car Redux

Thud is not home. He is doing much better, judging from the woo-wooing he did when he saw me. The vet says it is not cardio myopathy, but a possible sarcoma in the heart which is causing fluid in the heart sack. They tried to remove the fluid several times today, but couldn't do it. They will try tomorrow as well. Prognosis is guarded. Here are some shots of the old man at the vet's.

As you can see, he has turned very white and is quite an old doggie. Even his paws are grey!

I dropped Fred off at Crown Honda and he got his llama car. Here are some photos of the llama car and Fred.

Cedar Yarn Cubbie

Finally! I found the perfect yarn storage bin and it came from....wait for it.....Smith and Hawkin, the gardening people. It's called a chicken coop cubbie, why, I have no idea.

But it's made of cedar (perfect for deflecting yarn-eating pests) and it has multiple bin areas for separating by color or type. It looks like that bottom area on the large cubbie would hold a bunch of crochet books. I'm terribly excited about this. I've ordered two. I'll let you know as soon as it is up and ready to go.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thud and the Llama Car

Thud went to the vet's yesterday. I was going to post a photo of him, but I don't have one on this computer or on facebook. I'll remedy that when we get him home! Anyway, he seems to have cardiomyopathy, otherwise known as an enlarged heart. We saw the Xray and it did seem to be very big. The vet has him on medication and is going to give him an EKG tomorrow. He thinks that Thud will be able to go home tomorrow. Thud seemed much improved, tail wagging, walking, his personality was back. Yesterday it was just awful to have him stand there and stare off into nowhere. very scary!

But he's back and vet seems confident that he will be ok. He is a geriatric dog (12 years old and 115 pounds) and there may not be a huge amount of time, but the vet seemed to think that he had some good, comfortable times left. That means so much to us. I just want him home and happy. And if he goes to sleep one night and doesn't wake up, that will be just fine.


Fred and I bought a Honda Fit at Crown Honda. It's the llama car! As you can see from the photo, you can fit an adult llama into the backseat area. How cool is that? I bet you could fit two alpacas! And if you can fit a llama and some alpacas (separate trips, mind you), can you imagine the yarn creation possibilities? Perhaps Eliot will bring home a llama from Peru for me. Please, Eliot! You know you want to!

I cannot tell you how much I love Crown Honda! Bryan was our no nonsense sales guy and he was fabulous. When do you hear a sales guy say, "buy a handheld navigation, it's cheaper." Then Boris did the deal and was wonderful! He is having it sent out for tinting, and all the rest. Great, just great! But better than that, Kevin was the finance guy and he pulled up Costco's website and showed us the handheld nav system we should buy. I have NEVER had a better experience buying a car. Those guys rock!

Plus the FIT can fit a LLAMA. Damn!

Monday, May 12, 2008

French Girl Knits: The Ava Shawl

I started crocheting the Ava shawl and it was going swimmingly. Until row 3. Something has gone amiss with row 3 and I can't figure out how to fix it as the book only gives written instruction and not a graphical pattern. So I looked at the book and it said that French Girl Knits designed the shawl, so I threw caution to the wind and went to her website and told her the problem.

And, sweet barking cheese, if she didn't email me back not 3 minutes later! She is working on a knitting book and asked if I could wait a couple of days for her to look at it. Of course, I say. I love that shawl pattern and really, really, want it to work out. So I moved on to the skirt....did you hear that Spiritual Maya? I'm working on the skirt now.

Spiritual Maya had a dream of her sewing clothes and my crocheting embellishments for them. She has to take her sewing machine out of the closet first. I have a sewing machine as well, from that time 17 years ago when I made a quilt from my godchild Jillian. And I never made another one. So, my sewing machine is also in a closet. A closet in the guest house, where, if you have been following along, Hive A lives. I won't be moving that sewing machine any time soon seeing as Mr. Beekeeper has failed to show up again. GRRRRRRRR.

The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian finally defeated me. I tried so hard
to like it. The writing is quite intriguing. The characters are odd and quirky. However, there are very long pages of exposition where nothing actually happens and there is this background gothic-ness where something AWFUL happened to the protagonist's brother, but we can't find out about it just yet....but here's a gory detail to keep you going. I guess I needed more gorey details, right up front. I'm tired of waiting.

And frankly, I don't want to read stories about slaves or former slaves who owned slaves or white people who owed slaves or freed blacks who owned slaves. Therefore, I am asserting my freedom to read and I'm throwing down The Known World by Edward P. Jones. It's the book club book and I tried to read it, I really tried. I bought it on MP3 so I could crochet AND read it, but it just makes me want to scream. Beautiful language. Brilliantly written, but I'm at the point when I just don't want to read about the horrible, horrible things people did to each other because "God and the law allowed".

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Shawl with New Mexican Yarn

I'm making the Ava shawl from the book Vintage Crochet. Vintage Crochet has some fabulous clothes designs, but also interesting patterns for a crochete hanger (gift possibility) and a really cute bunny doll, very off beat and interesting. The Ava shawl is named after Ava Gardner and is made all in one piece and has a lovely large pattern. I'm using a green 100% cotton yarn from Ironstone Warehouse in Las Vegas, NM.
Bees are still in the house. Bad Bees. The beekeeper has not shown up. Bad Beekeeper!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blue Toronto Shawl Is Done!

The shawl is done and looks fine. I'll have to decide whether to keep it or give it away as a gift. I do love the yarn, but have about a hank and a half I could do something else with the leftover yarn.

I'll take it down to Bradenton to see what Aunt Helen thinks. All of her crocheted items are fabulous.

Beauty and Bees

All I have to say is Thanks God, as Gisah's mom always said. Fred has finally consulted a bee specialist to deal with the renegade bees who have set up shop in our walls! Evidently the neighbor who lives behind us has an apartment near our back property line and there is a hive in our guest house. That hive was hive 1. Hive 2 is in our main house (as if we lived in a mansion! haha, really, the guest house is 300 square feet and needs to be demolished!).

For four weeks Fred has tried to make the entrance to Hive 2 smaller in the hopes that the wild bees will move the hive someplace else. But they really like Hive 2 and have no intention of leaving. So this afternoon, the rental agent, a small, officious man, told Fred of the neighbor's great fear of bees. Repeatedly. Seriously, with hands clasped. And then he stated it again, just in case three times wasn't enough.

Soon, a Sarasota bee keeper will be looking out our two hives and will move them to friendlier hive homes.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finished and Starting

I have to say that I am very glad to have my first big birthday handmade gift finished! I made it for a friend and I did the solomon's knot that I blogged about earlier. Once I figured out how to do it, it crocheted up quite quickly.

The flowers, however, took an enormous amount of time! They were between one to two hours per flower until I found a less exacting pattern and did a combo of the two. You can see the two styles to the right. I added a bit of fringe to the bottom and viola! Done! Fred was instrumental in the design aspect as he said that there were too many in one spot and favored a more narrow span of flowers. He was really cute about it.

My new project is using some of the new yarn I got in Toronto from Romni Wool (see earlier post). This yarn is called Dreadlocks and is 78% kid mohair and 13% wool, 9% nylon (see photo at left).

The color is a bit iffy on this camera (Iphone takes a great photo most of the time, but this isn't one of them!) It is actually a very bitchin' green to blue hand-dyed yarn. It is made by Fleece Artist ( out of Mineville, Nova Scotia. They have some very interesting yarns. Unfortunately, there isn't a store that carries them in the bay area. Boo.

I have started a shawl using the same solomon's knot that I did the birthday present in (see right). The nice thing is it crochets up really fast. I'm already almost finished. I got three hanks of yarn, but probably will only need two for this shawl. It's so fuzzy that I began to get really warm crocheting with it on my lap!

In addition to crocheting, I finally got my audible account to accept my audiobook purchase (yeah, lost time on the plane crocheting when I could have been crocheting AND reading! GRRRRR). So I've begun listening to The Known World. So far, it is very well written, engaging and interesting, but after a bit I find myself saying, jeez, enough with the who died and what their history was and jumping 40 years in the future and this one lived to be 90 and this one died when she was 88. Are these characters I am going to hear from again, or is this the only time you mention them? Has the story started, or are we at chapter 3 (yes, I know it is the book club and I did just say chapter 3, did you read the sentence above about audible! 8-). Yet, I still find myself engaged and listening.

In food news, we found a great brunch place: The Vinoy in St. Pete. I really do need to remember to wear make-up when I go out! Fred and I are in the foreground, Christy and Eliot in the back. Brunch was heavy on the seafood (crab claws, prawns, all sorts of fish, oysters! woohoo!). And the had a chocolate fountain! I love a chocolate fountain. I need to buy one. I wonder who has the best price?
And BTW, Christy's new house is just the cutest little place. Very nicely decorated, great color choices.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Toronto is home to the best yarn shop in the world!

Romni Wools. Yep, that's the best yarn shop ever! (and if you want to know about the other shops in Toronto go to because this gal has checked them all out and written the definitive guide!)

I admit it. Now I look for great yarn to bring home for my ever growing stash. In fact, I think I do suffer from a syndrome called SABLE (stash acquired beyond lifetime expectancy - this acronym was defined in my latest crochet book purchase: Creative Crochet Lace by Myra Wood...oooooh I love this book!). And sure enough, Romni Wools provided me relief. I found two lovely sets of hand-dyed mohair yarn. Hand-dyed in Canada. They will make a lovely shawl. Shawls, rather. I better start wearing shawls every day. I'll have one made for every day!

Romni Wools is a crocheter's dream. It is filled floor to ceiling with yarns. All types, in a strange and undecipherable system of organization. There are many rooms. There is a whole aisle filled with green yarn, green in that it is made out of soy, crab shells, bamboo, hemp, you name it and it is in that aisle. And such colors! Silky too......excuse me, I'm drooling.

Did I mention that there is a downstairs? It has a narrow hallway filled with SALE YARN. OMG SALE YARN. Be still my heart. Let me rest on the stairs for a bit. SALE YARN in MORE THAN ONE ROOM. OOOOOOH. So, yeah. Romni Wools Rocks. Really rocks.

SCI-FI: In the specific or the general?

Recently, I attended the Association of Independent School Librarians ( conference in Toronto where author Nalo Hopkinson spoke (see Brown Girl in the Ring). I was really excited about hearing her as she was a sci-fi fantasy author, which is my absolute fave genre. In addition, she wrote for the young adult audience, which is another favorite of mine. Plus she is from the Caribbean, living in Canada and uses the themes of race, racism and body image in her work. What a cool thing!

And when she came in, it seemed like everything was going to be great. She had all these little action figures and other toys and she wanted the audience to make up a story about them. But instead of using that as a prompt to talk about her work, she instead started to talk about sci-fi/fantasy in the general. To a room full of librarians, she talked about why sci-fi/fantasy is a valid genre. Mind you, we had all stated our vast preference for the genre.

I was so disappointed! I wanted to hear about her background. Where did she get her ideas? How did she come up with her stories? How did she define her characters? How do you deal with heavy topics like race and racism without it being moralistic? Oh, it was so sad. I felt like she just couldn't reveal herself. That it was too personal. Yet, she teaches creative writing. She seemed like such a lovely person, kind, interesting, quirky. I can't imagine that a room full of librarians would have been intimidating.

So, I didn't learn much about her as a writer. But she did consent to do a reading of Brown Girl in the Ring and it sounded fascinating. So I bought a copy for her to sign for my school's library. I'm looking forward to reading it and figuring out the answers to the questions I wanted her to answer.