Sunday, January 28, 2007

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

On Beauty was a heart wrenching book, at least it was for me. Howard a 56 year old white, British transplant, and nontenured professor has lost the ability to love, in my opinion to even be real. As a character in the book says ( and I'm not telling who because it will give things away) , he can't even say, "A tomato is a tomato." His family suffers so much from this especially his African American wife Kiki and his children. The book was not just about Howard's lack of connection to others. It was about the world, about race, politics, academic life, sexism, coming of age, religion, love, marriage, family. It covered it all. At first I felt like Zadie Smith took on more than really could be put in a novel. After reading a few other reviews I realized that this was a meatier book than I usually read or listen too. It was meant to share how the personal was political, the political is personal. That our loves touch on all of these things.

The other issue that struck me, while listening to the book, was the concept of reality. I couldn't really put my finger on it until I read other reviews of the book. What is REAL? What is the truth? What is living life and what is "faking it." What is really seeing the world around you. I felt frustrated with both sides of the issue. Judgment of the academic world, judgment of the the street world. When the issues got to race and politics I wish something new could have been suggested. To me it's about empowerment. It seemed to me the "groups" represented in the book were each limited by their own group. Why not break out of that all together. I'm not talking specifically about race but about economics as well. Yet I feel uncomfortable even saying this as I am Caucasian and I feel confident, most of the time, that the world supports me.

All in all a good book despite the fact I wanted to wring Howard's neck a few times. In the end it seemed that the books was about love, that love endures. There seems to be hope for Howard and Kiki to heal the rifts despite the really stupid things he did with that the book offered me hope.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

All things cute

I've been crocheting lots. I'm quite obsessed. I'm working on bookmarks, snowflakes and squares for two different afghans.

200 crochet blocks in progress
Can you tell I like purple?

I took a break yesterday from afghans and other things to make a few ornaments. I'll be ready for the holidays this year, I will! Here is the cuteness. I just love these little and not so little buggers.

mini cat ami ornaments
Made with #10 thread and a #6 steel hook

ami ornaments

rabbit ami ornament

Made with worsted weight yarn and an F hook.

I used a free pattern you can find here, designed by same designer of the Amineko amigurumi I shared earlier. It's a Japanese pattern which I used babble fish to translate.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Great Bookmark Swap - My Survey

I'm ready to start swappin' in the Great Bookmark Exchange. If you are interested in participating just check out the Great Bookmark Exchange. You send a handmade bookmark and a gently used book to your partner and get on in return.

1. What genre of books do you enjoy most? (i.e. mystery, romance, horror, historical, biographies, autobiographies, fantasy, sci-fi, etc)

I read quite a bit of what it is called chick lit. I like fantasy novels and I venture into kid literature quite a bit too. I like books with strong women characters. I like books with a historical thread to them but not necessarily historical if that makes sense. I don't read horror or romance novels much any more.

2. What sort of bookmarks do you like best? (long, short, lacy/elegant, fun/cute, corner, tasselled, etc)

I like long ones. I'm open to the style such as lacy or fun.

3. What are your favorite colors?

purple and green, all jewel tones

4. Are there any colors you don't like?

orange and pastels

5. What sort of "theme'' would you like your bookmark to be?

I like flowers. I'm open to things whimsical or kitschy or bookmarks with a season or holiday theme to them.

6. Are there any "themes'' that you wouldn't like?

I'm not Christian so I'd rather not receive a cross bookmark.

7. Can you send internationally?

I can but I would like to keep that to a minimum throughout the year depending on how many swaps I do.

8. If your partner wants to send along extra goodies (like tea, candy, cocoa, etc), what do you enjoy? And is there anything you don't like/can't have??

First off, I do not have to have the xtras! I do like black licorice and dark chocolate. As far as coffee goes I like a good medium roast but no flavors with the exception of mocha. I like whole beans as I grind my coffee fresh when I brew a cuppa.

9. What crafts are you going to use to make your bookmarks?

I'll likely crochet mine with thread. I might venture into to some paper art as well.

Is there a particular craft type you would like to receive? (knitted bookmarks, plastic canvas, etc.)

I'm open to your crafting preference. I like getting new and different things. I get inspired by all kinds of crafting.

10. Do you have any allergies???


11. Do you smoke, have cats/dogs, or anything that other members might be allergic to??

I don't have any pets right now nor do I smoke.

Friday, January 19, 2007

foodie friday - split pea soup

I'm trying to get back into cooking again. I thought I would share my success on Fridays and include recipes too. Last weekend I made Split Pea soup at my daughters request after watching a Good Eats episode on the pea. I told her that she LOVED Split Pea soup when she was little. We ate it regularly one winter. So much that I never wanted to see it again. I made it Saturday and it was good. Especially when you get some fresh bread, baked in an wood fired oven, to eat with it.

Here's the recipe

2cups green split peas
3 cups water, 5 cups vegetable stock or so (8cups liquid total)
2 onions chopped
4 carrots chopped
celery tops about a handful, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons butter
bay leaf

Rinse the peas then add to a large pot with 3 cups water and bring to them to a boil. While the peas are coming to a boil, saute the onions and the carrots together in butter just to soften up the onions a bit and add flavor. Add the onions, carrots, celery tops, bay leaf, the vegetable broth. Bring to a slow boil again. Then simmer until the peas are soft. Don't forget to remove the bay leaf first! Run the soup through a food mill or take a hand blender to puree a bit but not too much. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some fresh bread.


Thursday, January 18, 2007


Well it did snow here, sort of. I'm not talking about snow so much as Snowflakes and not the ice crystal kind but crocheted ones, of course.

Along with my bookmark frenzy I'm trying to make lots of crocheted snowflakes, one a week. I'm on target with 5 made so far.


A few of the flakes are from 60 Crocheted Snowflakes on loan form the library and a few motif patterns from old Magic Crochet Magazines. I'm using some pretty cheap thread I picked up from the thrift store a while back. When that's gone and I'm off my fiber diet I want to get some prettier white thread. I'm doing my best this month to Use What I Have.

I'll use these now and next year to decorate the house, the tree, cards, and to give away.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Using up what you have

I'm trying to use only what I have on hand this month in honor of the use what you have group here. I have not quite succeeded in not buying anything at all but I have not done too badly. I've had lots of novelty yarn in my stash for some time which I thought I would use in my freeform crochet creations but decided I really didn't like the looks of it, after all. I really like the looks of crochet stitches and simple fibers. The roughness of some wools or the smooth sheen of mercerized cottons. These fibers really show off the stitches, novelty yarns do not.

In Progress

So I was about to clear all this yarn out but couldn't quite do so, being a fiber addict and all. I tried one more time to come up with something I could make that would be easy to do with all this yarn. So with an N hook and about 10 or more small skeins I made this Lapghan, an afghan just big enough to over your lap when staying warm in a chair while reading or watching a good movie.

All finished

I did a basic linear granny stitch, clusters of double crochet in between the dc clusters. I think it tuned out rather good, if I did say so myself and I like it, despite my distaste for the novelty yarn. I don't think I will go out of my way to make something like this again but if some novelty yarn falls into my lap again so to speak I could probably work up the energy to make another.

Someone else likes it too

It took me about two days to make. I even had to frog back several rows because I had accidentally added an extra cluster of stitches. I almost left it but could not stand seeing the unevenness. Yet I did decide to cut some corners by knotting the ends (knotting ends is considered by some very bad form) instead of weaving them in. Then I added fringe as you can see.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bookmark Crazy

My goal is to make one bookmark a week. I am ahead of the game so far I count 11 made. Here are just a few.

Boo! I made this one to hold our place while reading the Ghost Hunter Series by Cornelia Funke. I didn't follow a pattern, I just freeformed it.


Ho! Ho! The Santa Hat is to hold our place while reading When Santa Fell to the Earth also by Cornelia Funke. We are in a Funke at our house and themed bookmarks too. Sadly this book is not as cool as the Ghost Hunter series not scary enough. I like though.

more bookmarks

I love the lady bug too. Spring will be here soon. It will, it will. The ladybug patterns was available online. It is also in the 2007 Crochet Pattern-a-Day Calendar.


This one on the left is my own design. I plan to share the pattern soon. The other is a motif from an old crochet magazine.


Just click on the links to take you to the bookmark patterns.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Socks - another pair

I finished another pair of socks this weekend. The pattern is, Mardi Gras, from a book called Stocking Feet published by Annie's Attic, you can also get just that sock pattern at e-pattern central.

It took me a while to figure out the pattern. I needed to adjust it quite a bit so I could get it over my foot! I think it was design for smaller feet and with my 9.5 size foot I needed to add some stitches so I could get the sock on and off.


I started making the sock in Stockotta by Plymouth and that is just not very stretchy. Then I switched over to Dancing by Knit Picks because it has elastic in it. I still jumped from 45 stitches to 54 stitches to make it work for my feet. I adjusted the heel too but I may have added too many stitches there because it's a bit big there.

I like how they turned out, I especially like the stitch pattern.


I think it would look really nice in a sweater. The elastic yarn was easier to work with than I feared. I've seen elastic yarn at elann that might be great to use for a crochet camisole for the summer. I can show of ALL my curves that way, well hopefully not all of my curves.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

I'm so dizzy... head is Spinning!

She is a thing of beauty, new spinning wheel, an Ashford Traveller.


I just LOVE my new toy. Everyone loves my new toy, the kids are hankering to get try too. I'm having a VERY hard time sharing! It's mine, all mine. Dang it.

Friday, January 5, 2007

It's an Amineko

I've wanted to make one for so long ever since I found amigurumi. I finally finished one today.


Taking a nap

Amineko means crocheted(knitted) cat - ami is crochet/knit and neko is cat. It's designed by a Japanese artist who has graciously translated the pattern for us not Japanese speakers. You can find the pattern here. The original Japanese page here.

I use my E size clover soft touch hook ( Japanese hook too) and ww dk green Redheart Supersaver, and ww light green TLC Essentials. I need to add a few xtra rows to the legs and maybe the arms to get the right length. I tend to crochet short on gauge although no row gage was recommended. The next one I might go up a hook size and see the difference it makes. I thought I would get a tighter fabric using an E hook.

I forgot too mention...
The pattern suggests you use pellets in the body, feet and hands. The weight of the pellets help it sit up and hold it's positions better. I sewed up little bags of pellets for the feet and hands and a large one for the body. The rest of it stuffed with poly fiber fill. You don't stuff the legs or arms so they are "bendable." I need to work on my pellet bag design and/or need to insert the bags before I finish crocheting the arms and legs because they were a pain to get in.

One thing I can check off my WIMS!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Oh my so much...

Today has been, still is as I am writing this the most amazing day.

It started with Jade wanting to celebrate Molly's birthday, her most favorite doll. There was a bit of confusion when her doll was born but we managed to get that figured out and Jade is now in the kitchen baking a carrot cake.

Speaking of birthdays, that reminded me to find the birthday calculator that tells how old you are in seconds, minutes etc. Corbin wanted to know that last night.

With Jade making a cake and celebrating a Molly's birthday, Corbin wanted to know what he could celebrate? So we looked up on the earth on a calendar here, to see what we could celebrate today. Today is the Independence Day for Burkina Faso. This led to Corbin writing a a song.

Independence Day
By Corbin Figgins

Oh, breaking down the walls
Oh, breaking down the walls
Oh, breaking down the walls

We will be FREE
We can’t live en captured
We want to be FREE

Our independence is strong
We can’t fall down again
We are independent in ourselves

We are trying to break down the walls, break down the walls!

So we can be FREE……

Then Corbin decided to make a Gate to Independence out of popsicle sticks. He wants to make a cake too. If you read a bit more on the Burkina Faso page you might find that January 3rd is one of many "independence days" of that country.

Jade found some music appropriate for an Independence holiday too. We are listening to a song by Sarah Pirtle called Walls and Bridges:

"Why do we make walls? These walls divide us.
Why do we make walls? These walls just hide us.
Why do we make a fist? We could reach out our hands.
I want to make a start building a bridge from heart to heart.
building a bridge from heart to heart."

Then Corbin shifted gears and decided to decorate one of his sweatshirts with a spider so he did a prototype drawing then he had me draw it on his shirt. Now back to making the gate. While he was working on the gate, I read him a bit about where Berkina Faso is and "sang" their national anthem to him.

All this while Jade has been making her cake. When it was all done we sang Happy Birthday to Molly and had some cake. Jades carrot cake turned out to be enough celebrating. Maybe tomorrow Corbin and I will finish our Independence Day celebration. When do we ever finish celebrating our Independence, our freedom.

Recent Reads

Teen/Parent Breakthrough by Mira Kirshenbaum, if you haven't figured it out already it's a parenting book. I'm kind of burnt out on them but I am glad I read it and will want to re-read in a few years. I did learn a few things, I think I knew them already but it was a good reminder.
  • Before you help your kids ask if they want you help. This was a VERY good reminder. One of my kids does not like help unless she asks for it or gets to refuse it. I think she sees it as an affront to her intelligence but I am not sure she can articulate that. I just know she doesn't like it.
  • The other thing is to not to get bent out of shape in how your kids talk to you or some of the things they say. It's better to let it go and connect later. (Easier said than done.)
  • The other tip that stood out for me was kids need to develop their own view of the the world. So as much as we want to pass on all our 30-40years worth of wisdom in hopes our kids will not make the same mistakes we made, we can't. It's not that we don't share our wisdom ever, we can't prevent them from making mistakes. Ideally we become our child's best friend then you will have the best chance of helping them and sharing your wisdom.

The Incredibly Revolting Ghost by Cornelia Funke, the first in the Ghosthunter series. Nine year old Tom is afraid of Ghosts but soon gets a crash course in ghost removal. Corbin loved this book, it's the first chapter book he has listened. He is looking forward to the next book. I'm excited my son likes chapter books. Yeah! (It would be fine if he didn't but I love books. So it's nice to finally find a book we can enjoy together)

The audiobook of The History of Love by Nicole Krause. I enjoyed the story but for some reason I had hard time keeping with it. The narrators were good but there was something about it that I might have liked it better as a read, rather than a listen. I did get lots of crocheting done.

I re-read Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear a novel suggesting a big genetic change for our species. Lots of science type stuff in this but I was in it more for the relationships. I was horrified how the government reacted to the the change.

I'm also read the Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards. I'll get to discuss things with my book club after the first of the year. I enjoyed the read. It was so sad. Keeping secrets is dangerous.

I'm currently reading The Revival by Max Yoho which is pretty funny. I have a little bone to pick with the author. There is one passage in the book where he pokes fun at crochet. I can forgive him a little because I do agree that not all crochet is beautiful and it was kind of funny. Yet, I do think crocheting is cool. Hmmmf.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

More W(h)ims

Dye/Tie Dye:
  • Dye some fabric and make something
  • a few more tea towels to tie dye
  • a table cloth to dye
  • dye some yarn (maybe some of my very own homespun)
  • crochet hooks cases
  • totes - basic ones and "quilted"
  • quilted place mats

Monday, January 1, 2007

W(h)IMs - just the crochet ones!

Works in My Mind (WIM)

I want to make so many things, the kids ask me to make them things but I get so easily distracted by the next new book or technique. So to have a better idea of what I want to do I went through my many crochet magazines and pattern books to see what I've been dreaming of making. I think I need to live 'til I am 150 at least. Not to mention I need to win the lottery to afford to do all of these things. I also want to spend time with my kids before they grow up and have the grandkids I want to spend time with. There is my husband and my friends. Oh the horror (as my son would say) what's a fiber geek to do?

So I'm making a list and checking it twice to get more clear on what I really want to accomplish. How many shawls does one woman really need to have? How many pairs of socks? I'm not sure I'm much clearer yet. At least when I'm burning to buy some yarn or wanting a challenge I can go to this list and think about it for a minute. It might help curb my PAS -pattern acquisition syndrome. I had to stop myself twice at the book store a few days ago from buying the Crochet 2007 calendar (many of the patterns are available free online anyway) even though it was 50% off and a crochet magazine with some cute holiday crochet crafts.

House Hold Items:
  • Skull Pot Holders - Happy Hooker - pg 257
  • Tapestry Crochet Hot pads using #10 thread not sure which ones but one of them
  • Wash clothes and dish clothes using new stitch patterns
  • Kaleidoscope hot pads - edge them with dark
  • Wash cloth on city of crochet
  • water bottle holders
  • Grocery bag and bag dispenser
  • Sunburst Thread pot holder - Magic Crochet April 1991
  • Beanie/skull cap - Learn to Crochet - I already made the one with the brim and don't care for it on me. Maybe I should just frog it back to a beanie?
  • Crocheted Roving Hat - Magazine? - pg61
  • Easy Hat- Interweave Crochet - Jan 2005 -pg95
  • Honey Panta from Nexstitch
  • Anklet - Crochet! - July 2006
  • Hemp Flower Necklace - Interweave - 2005? (In progress, I'm making one for a gift)
  • YoYo Halter-Crochet! July 2006 - pg38
  • Brave New Bra - Interweave Jan 2006 - pg26
Winter Holiday
  • Snowman - it pattern of a wreath but I'd use them as an ornament - Crochet Today - Nov 2006
  • Snow Flake - Crochet Today Nov 2006
  • Roxy Santa ornament
  • Roxy Snow man ornament
  • stocking animals - It's a Japanese pattern so I will need to translate using babble fish - one made
  • Seal Ornament
  • Star in Star ornament
  • mini stocking ornaments
  • Star of Wonder - Magic Crochet - Oct 1991
  • Beaded Pineapple - Magic Crochet - Oct 1991
  • Snowflake - Magic Crochet - Oct 1991
  • Exchange Bag - Happy Hooker - pg50 -uses nylon thread really want to give this a try
  • Good Vibration (felted bag) - Hip to Crochet - wait for scraps from Stephen's wool knitting
  • Nested Baskets - Hip to Crochet - pg 103
  • Tapestry Crochet bags - Hip to Crochet or some that are online
  • Bobble-a-long Aran Tote on Round the 'ville
  • Corbin wants a skull bag of some sort
Sweater possibilities:
  • Unseamly Sweater - Happy Hooker - pg203
  • On the Side Cardigan - Hip to Crochet - pg 77
  • Sweet - Top down sweater - Crochet me - might be a good use of some of my fun yarns for a soft warm sweater - want to try this technique some time
  • Easy Going Hoody- Interweave Fall 2006 - pg 50 - also fits my casual sweater desire but might be more of an out and about one
  • like to design my own or find a simple cardigan to make that fits nicely
  • Jade says she wants a sweater
  • Sevilnnina - Magic Crochet - Feb 1993
  • Safari - Magic Crochet - Oct 1993 - very femm
Skirts (Just one crocheted skirt would be enough unless I really like them)
  • Violet Beauregard Skirt - Happy Hooker - pg 224
  • Block on a Roll - Hip to Crochet - pg 83
  • Jolly Rancher Skirt on Crochet me
  • Denim Shell (for me a bit longer!) Crochet! -July 2006
  • Viva La Provence Skirt - Interweave Jan2006 - pg62
  • Pencil Skirt
  • Hairpin Skirt in Interweave summer 2006 I think. I need to learn how to do hairpin lace first.
Lapghans, Afghans, blankets etc
  • Round Ripple - lots of free pattern on line
  • Lap of Luxury - Encyclopedia of Crochet - pg96 - this might be a good one for my mom
  • Ripple Afghan - sharp or classic ripple pattern in Encyclopedia of Crochet
  • 63 squares afghan
  • Purchase the 200 blocks book and make an afghan from that - Just started - 6 squares so completed
  • Learn to crochet afghan from Crochet Your Way (not completely sold on this book) passed this book on
    • Crocheted Sleeves shirt - Crochet! - Sept2006
    • love to embellish some of my camisoles with a crocheted edging
    • Crochet Dude's Coffee Cozy
    • Simple sc coffee cozy
    • Sally's Crochet Hook Case
    • Bookmarks my goal is to make one bookmark a week - I have lots of favorite I found on line already printed off and in my notebooks - made several so far
    • one snowflakes a week - 5 snowflakes completed - joined a CAL on the 'ville
    • swimsuit cover up in thread maybe my own design not sure
    • freeform crochet cards
    • Java Jammie
    • Jazzy Java Jacket-This could be a great way to use up some of my fluffy yarns
    • find a project to use up lots of my fluffy yarns a wild blanket maybe - Done!
    • my goal is to complete at least 1 doily a month if not more
    • I want to make one brugges lace design this year - at least one
    • Finish a Irish brugges lace design I started
    • Tiny hearts doily again in pink or red maybe in #20 thread as well
    • Oval Fan Doily - Magic Crochet Dec 1990
    My Designs
    • get sock pattern tested
    • freeform bag or shawl
    • work on freeformesque tea cozy pattern
    • fall shawl (have all I need for this)
    • work on pattern for spiral child cardigan
    • tarot card holder
    • Spiral Shawl - Mon Tricot - pg80 (really want to make this a goal for this year)
    • Sweat Pea Shawl - Happy Hooker
    • Granny Poncho Encyclopedia of Crochet for my dd?
    • Caplet - hip to crochet for my dd?
    • Butterfly Shawl - have some to start -
    • Felted adult slipper
    • felted kids slippers (need pattern)
    • crochet slipper in Children's year
    • Latvian wrist warmers - Crochet! -Sept2006
    • Lady Like Lace - Happy Hooker
    • Mittens - Hip to Crochet - pg 26
    • Button Up Socks - Encyclopedia of Crochet
    • Mardi Gras - Stocking Feet - CAL - on crochetsocks group - Done!
    • Pebbles Sand - Crochet Socks
    • Ribbed hiker - Crochet Socks
    • terrific thong sock - Crochet Socks
    • Socks with granny square cuff
    • kids want me to make them my slipper socks too (started a pair of socks for jade)
    • baby toddler sock I want to come up with a simple pattern.
    • one skein scarf - Happy Hooker Done!
    • Muffler - Encyclopedia of Crochet
    • Zen Stash Diving Scarf ideas
    • Scarf in Learn to Crochet but I want to make it skinnier
    • medallion scarf currently a UFO I want to finish
    • Amineko! (already started) All made you can see it here
    • crocheted Doll in Bust magazine
    • make Corbin a dragon
    • Sprite Doll on Crochet Me
    • unicorn for kid(s)
    • jade would like some doll cloths
    Motifs I like that might be good for table runners, small blankets, snowflakes or book marks:
    • Magic Crochet- Feb 1993, Dec 1993, Dec 1992, Aug 1993, Oct 1993
    Other thread Stuff:
    • Hankies - Magic Crochet - Feb 1993
    • Bookmarks one a week
    • Sachets - Magic Crochet - Feb 1993, Aug 1992
    • Sachets - Crochet Lace with Pictures
    • Flower Coaster - Magic Crochet - Oct 1993
    • Coaster - Magic Crochet - Oct 1993 (make a good snowflake too)
    • Pretty Lady bookmark - very vintage - Magic Crochet Feb 1990
    • Photo frames - Magic Crochet - Aug 1992
    Crochet techniques I want to learn:
    • cro-tat - a crochet and tatting technique you use a special crochet hook
    • Tunisian crochet
    • tapestry crochet
    • hairpin lace
    These are just my crochet things I want to do someday. I also want to spin more fibers, sew some things and learn how to knit too. If only I could have about 5 more hours a day.