Sunday, September 30, 2007

Getting reacquainted

After months and months of being apart, Quiltie and I have decided to take it slow.

Sure, we could just jump back in and pretend nothing ever happened. We could pretend that someone didn't eat someone else's carefully-made markings, and that someone else didn't ignore the relationship for months. But that would be foolish.

It's been a while, and some of us still have tender feelings. Who would I be to tell him to move on already and stop being so stand-offish, when he can't possibly trust that I'm sticking around? A quilt's gotta protect himself from possibly getting hurt again. I understand.

But in that same spirit, Quiltie doesn't have a leg to stand on if he tries "the marking-eating incident was in the past, and you can't change the past." Not one leg, mister! While you can't change the past, you still have to attend to the fact that the past has effects on the present. I am on the lookout for any sign that he might start to eat a freshly-made marking. And I am perfectly justified to do so. So don't start with me, Quiltie. Don't even start to start with me!

We've still got some tender feelings, as I mentioned. We are going to continue to take it slow.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Overheard at lunch today

My wasband and I were out at lunch today, eating delicious food and listening to the conversation behind us. (We both quite enjoy a good eavesdrop. Remind me to tell you the one about motorcycles sometime.) Anyway!

A young white dude was talking really assertively to someone across the table from him. He'd been going on for some time about himself, his career, his future plans, and in the middle of the whole thing, without missing a beat, dude says:

"Look. This is how it is. I am a songwriter-screenwriter-inventor. That's my hyphen."

My wasband and I found this particularly hilarious for about twelve reasons. Most of those reasons were related to his delivery. He said, "That's my hyphen" like everyone's got one. Like it's a given, and that's his.

The rest of the hilarious? He's a songwriter-screenwriter-inventor? Inventor of what?! What could a dude possibly be inventing in Los Angeles? I mean, come on. Really.

He went on to talk about how he needs to have his voice come through in his writing, and how he once had a dream of meeting Alan Menken and now he's having lunch with him next week, and that's how it is, man. He was that guy. (Oh! If you click on that link, the picture of Mr. Menken is SO perfect! So, so precious and so very perfect for this whole scenario! I love the internet so hard.)

Ok. So. Fine. The dude was pretty ridiculous, but he was young-ish, and whatever. It's LA.

Now is the part where I sheepishly admit that the whole "hyphen" idea stuck with us in spite of ourselves. We couldn't help it! We've kind of decided we're gonna require everyone to declare a hyphen from now on. Because everyone's got one!

I went with psychologist-crafter-blogger. We decided my wasband should go with dog lover-curmudgeon-raconteur. (While we both spontaneously said "curmudgeon", the raconteur was my idea, thank you very much.)

Hey! Should I start a "What's your hyphen" meme? No. That would be super lame.

But, you telling me your hyphen? Cool. Very, very cool. What is it?! I must know!

As a complete PS and aside: That dude would be shitting himself if he knew he'd been so promptly blogged. And by "shitting himself" I mean he'd be all, "Yeah. I invented the hyphen. So. ...Yeah."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It takes two to make a thing go right

Oh, Quiltie.
Neglected for so long. Desperately needing to be re-basted and re-marked so that hand-quilting could continue.

So, so sad. Tragic, really.

Well, it was Quiltie's lucky day yesterday. It was Craft Day with my PIC!



And encouragement were the key ingredients.

My PIC and were able to do so many things yesterday that we each had been dreading.

She needed to put a new back on a quilt-in-progress. In the short term, very depressing. It meant she had to pull out hours and hours of hand-quilting; do mind-bending math; iron, measure, and cut fabric; and re-baste all the parts of the quilt sandwich together. She also had to thread the sewing machine. You can see how doing this together was superior to doing it alone. Alone? DE-moralizing. Together? Kinda fun!

Fabric FYI aside: If you're in the market for a nice solid brown (gross!) cotton, Robert Kaufman's new color Chocolate is the best brown we've found. (I tried to link to it at Purl, but looks like it's sold out; and at RK's site, the little square is so not the color.) Trust me. It's a good brown.

We did her whole thing together, then did my whole thing. She cheered me on as I re-measured and re-marked. Her "You're almost there!" and "Just one more!" really made the difference.

The Sweet, Salty, and Nutty Trek Mix didn't hurt either.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Still stumped

Crafting Day tomorrow with my PIC should help, but I gotta tell you, this creative paralysis steeeeenks. What gives?

Someday I shall tell you of my experience seeing the Yarn Harlot. Some other day I will gush about super cool people on the internet. And, I can only hold out hope that another day -- one day soon, maybe even tomorrow -- I will regale you with tales of crafting debacles.

For now, I hope it's ok that all I've got for you is a manicure I keep jacking up. I just paid perfectly good money to have someone paint my nails, apparently for the sole purpose of helping me find every sharp edge and fuzzy fuzzball that exists in my world. Yeah. Money well-spent. I know. I know.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sewing tips from Dr. B. and my PIC

I'm walking to get a haircut, and I call my partner-in-(crafting) crime on my cell phone. She kicks off the conversation with a serious...

PIC: Guess what I'm doing.
Me: Cleaning out your closet.
PIC: Nope.
Me: Sweeping up dog hair.
PIC: Nope.
Me: Picking up poop.
PIC: These are all things I do quite a bit. But they are not what I am doing right now. Right now, I am about to cut out a pattern!

My PIC and I have decided we are going to sew baby dresses out of the Japanese book I gave her for her birthday. As you know, My PIC and I decide we are going to do lots of things, regardless of whether or not we're qualified to do them. We are generally successful using the winning combination of tips that I sort of remember from somewhere and the "let's just do it" that she tends to live by.

PIC: How should I decide what size to make? Should I just make the middle one?
Me: I would go pull out a little dress that is about the size you want, and lay it on the options, and see which one's closest.
PIC: Hm. That's smart.
Me: And then trace that size onto the dressmaker's paper so you don't cut up the original pattern.
PIC: Right.

Blah, blah, blah. We move on to a conversation about haircuts. But then I remember!

Me: Oh! You should trace the size you want on the original pattern with a Sharpie so you can see it better through the paper.
PIC: Yeah. I'm not gonna do that.
Me: But it might get confusing as you're going--
PIC: Well, yes. It might.
Me: You're already tracing, aren't you?
PIC: Yes.
Me: So it's too late to suggest taping everything down so it won't move?
PIC: Too late!

We talk a bit more about other random things.

PIC: Tracing a straight line is hard. I wish I could use a ruler.
Me: That's probably where that tape coulda helped you.
PIC: Shut it.

I arrive at the haircutting place and have to hang up, but when I call my PIC later, she has great news.

PIC: I have traced three patterns!
Me: That's awesome!
PIC: And I have some tips.
Me: Really?
PIC: Yes, I do. They don't tell you in the instructions that it's pretty much impossible to trace a straight line if you've just had a cup of coffee.
Me: Right.
PIC: It is truly impossible. Your hand shakes too much. But I discovered that if you have a glass of wine, that solves the problem immediately!
Me: Those are very good tips!
PIC: Yes. They will be the cornerstone of the book I write about sewing.
Me: That's gonna be a really good book.
PIC: Yeah. I know.

Since my PIC still has to read the instructions every time she threads her sewing machine, I have a feeling her book on sewing isn't going to be available any time soon. That being said, I'm happy to share the gems we come up with as we go. You know. For those of you who prefer your tips on the obvious side.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Good problems to have

I've been buried under crafts.

Wait. That's not true. I haven't been buried under crafts. I've been paralyzed by the possibilities for crafting.

I'm afraid all of my stockpiling has created an overwhelming sense of confusion about what to do next.

As a response to this confusion, I've been doing what any person would do: I've been wandering around my house somewhat aimlessly, petting my fabrics...

... staring at my unfinished embroidery...

... and drooling on my books. Well, mostly just still drooling on this one:

If I'm honest, it makes me want to start a new Chevron scarf. (What?!)

Enough is enough, people! No more acquiring! No more starting something new! I'm using what I have and finishing what I start! Gosh!!

Crap. I just remembered I have a Habu Kusha Kusha kit on its way to me.

Starting after that! No more nonsense! NO! MORE!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stocking up for winter

Oh, it's true. I am currently gathering all the goods I'll need to make it through the long, cold winter here in Los Angeles. The yarn above and the book below are just the beginning of my preparedness kit assembly.

Let me help you out with the funny here: We don't have winter in Los Angeles. Also? I think those yarns together would make a lovely Chevron scarf.

I like living in a fantasy world where seasons change and Chevron scarves get completed. Don't mind me if I just stay here for a bit. I quite like it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Anything is possible

Wow. I have to say, I am amazed.

This morning at 8:30, my Sidekick was just about to leave for work when the little dogs began their usual business. Yipping. Yapping. Squealing, even. We froze and looked at each other with wide eyes and an anticipation I haven't felt since about Christmas of '76. What was going to happen?

After 10 seconds of the barking, it stopped.

And that was that.

No yelling. No auditioning for Annie Get Your Gun. Just silence. Long, long, peaceful silence.

"Should I yell 'thank you'?" my Sidekick asked me. We smiled with pride and disbelief and decided against it.

I guess I'm more of a cynic than I thought. I really didn't expect that situation would be resolved quite that quickly and effectively. The dogs just stopped barking, and not a peep from Broadway Steve. Not a peep! Propers all around, dudes. Way to take care of business!

This is very exciting, as it makes me wonder what other problems my Sidekick could solve with his powers.

Also? I will be among the 250 LA knitters seeing the Yarn Harlot tomorrow. If you're there and want to say hi, I'll be knitting that blasted Chevron scarf and carrying that bag that Ashley made me.

Now, about those powers...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Excuse me

In the last few months, a new family moved into the condos directly behind our house. The family -- as far as we can tell -- consists of a man and his two (or three) small dogs. We know this because every morning the two (or three) small dogs begin their day with a high-pitched and unrelenting barkfest.

Complete aside: Barkfest reminds me that I used to work with a woman who pronounced breakfast "barkfarst". Bark. Farst. She herself admitted it was ridiculous, but she said she couldn't help it.

Anyway. Let me be clear. I love dogs. Really, really love dogs. I share custody of a small dog who I love more than life itself. But two or three small, very yappy dogs going at it at 7:00 in the morning? Nope. Don't like it. You can't make me.

To make matters worse, like a rooster letting you know the day has begun, the man yells at the dogs.

Marlo! Tommy! Come! Here! Marlo! Tommy! Marlo! Marlo!!

Cock-a-doodle doo, indeed.

To be clear, my Sidekick believes one of the dogs may be named Carlos. I contend the dogs are named after Marlo Thomas, but I suppose there could be a Carlos in there, too. This, along with the intensity of the noise, makes it impossible to know whether there are two or three of them.

So, yesterday morning it was 7:15, and the whole thing starts up. The barking, the yelling. And it wakes my Sidekick and me up. We've been enduring this for months now. I was kind of hoping it would just stop.

My Sidekick, a very well-mannered and smart fellow -- a man of action, if you will -- got up, went to the window, and let out one of those really loud whistles that some people can just make. It's really loud.

And all the noise stopped. Just like that.

Amazed at the power of it, I wondered aloud about what that whistle means to people and how they interpret it. My Sidekick suggested that it places people's attention on what they are doing. I contend it's really startling, but somehow everyone (every man) knows what it means. Am I right, ladies? Whatever. It worked. And I was glad.

And then there was this morning. It was a little better in that it was 8:45, not 7:00, and we were awake and going about our morning already. But still.

Marlo! Tommy! Come! Come!! Marlo! Tommy! Marlo! Marlo!! Tommy! Tommy!!

For the love of God.

I went to my Sidekick and just stared at him. A blank stare. A hopeless stare. A why-oh-why-Lord-must-this-be-so stare.

My Sidekick shook his head, walked over the window, and sat there for about 15 seconds. Listening.

Maaaarlo! Tommyyyyy! Maaaaaaaarlo! Maaaaaaaarlo!!

Oh, it was getting worse. It was now a sing-songy, ready-to-debut-on-Broadway belting out from the diaphragm.

And then my Sidekick responded. Loud and strong, assertive yet polite, genuinely curious with just a splash of judgment:

Excuse me. Do you have to yell at the top of your lungs every morning?


No answer. No barking. Just silence.

I was truly impressed with the whole thing. It was perfect.

Now, here's the thing. And tell me if I'm wrong. If I had said such a thing, even forcefully, it wouldn't have had the same effect. I'd be some lady being bitchy. But that brilliant intervention out of a dude's mouth? Well that, my friend, is just the truth. It is to be listened to and heeded. A person will stop to be accountable if a guy is saying something is wrong. If a woman says something is wrong, she's too sensitive.

The good news is, my Sidekick is fully aware of this, and he uses his powers for good, not evil. The other good news is, maybe that dude will take his pair or trio of dogs and figure out a different way to deal.

The best news, here's a picture of my dog. You know, just as a palate cleanser.

You can tell by the look on his face, he doesn't like those little dogs either.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Caught in a swarm of Time Flies

One year, 203 posts, and 1028 comments later, here we are. It's my one-year blogiversary, y'all.

Strange. It really has gone by very, very quickly.

I'm tempted to do a clip show - a remember this one? Or reflect on the process or something. But instead, I'll just leave it at a humble thank you.

To those of you who are kind enough to leave comments and suggestions, to those of you who lurk and come back, to those of you who make blogging a wonderful community undertaking. To you, reading this right now. Thank you.

It's been more rewarding than I'd ever expected it could be.

/earnest sentiment

(That last line? A sign I've reached serious geekiness. If it means nothing to you, just read it as "Here endeth the earnest sentiment." You know, because "endeth" is much less geeky than code.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bye, bye plastic bag. Hello, gorgeous!

This blogging thing is really working out.

Look at this delicious and super-glorious bag, handmade just for me by Ashley of Dogged Knits:

Oh, I own this bag. It's mine. Can you believe it?

It's got the perfect innards -- pretty blue and perfect pockets. (Pretty Blue and Perfect Pockets are best-sellers in my line of dolls for young girls. They're adorable.) This is some serious quality, dudes. Ashley is not kidding around.

And it's soft and beautiful and look at that fabric!

The best part? It was part of a swap! She asked if I'd make her a card like this one, and she offered to make me something in return.

I'd never done a swap before, and I didn't want to blow it by sending one little card in exchange for one big bag. Since it was impossible to find a currency conversion chart for handmade cards to handmade bags, we just did our best. I made her a little handful of cards featuring pigeons, and she made me the bag to replace this foolishness.

So here's the audience participation portion of this post:

At one point Ashley suggested that my Pidge for All Seasons card collection (Get Well, Congratulations, Happy Birthday, and blank inside pidge) might be reason enough to start an Etsy shop. For those with Etsy experience, what say you about this? For those of you who would buy something from Etsy, what do you think? If I started an Etsy shop, which of my things would people be interested in buying? Handmade cards? Embroidered items? Sewn things? Anything?


Also? Please give Ashley her well-deserved props! I lovelovelove my bag!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tender reputations

Reputations are a complex thing. Sometimes based on thorough information, sometimes just a few incidents strung together, the reputation is a tricksy thing for sure.

Some guy you work with is always crabby and kinda mean? I'd bet that guy has a bad rep. What if it turns out dude has chronic back pain, and once that's fixed, he's perfectly lovely? You might change your mind about the guy, right?

OK. So. You could jump to conclusions about me if you simply knew that I have failed time and time again to get a handmade gift completed on time. You could. Jump away.

However! I've realized that it's not that I wait until the last minute. It's not. It's more that I tend to underestimate how long a gift is going to take to make. So, instead of calling me a procrastinator or shirker of deadlines, you might just call me a bad forecaster of the future. But then you'd be the one who'd look silly. Because who among us can tell what the future holds? Right?! OK, then.

This brings us to the top-secret item I was working on: A birthday gift for a good friend. I started working on it well in advance, and it took longer than I'd expected. More on that in a moment.

The birthday girl had once told me a story about how her grandmother and her mother, as they got older, would enter their bedrooms at night and say warmly, "Hello, bed." Like they were being reunited with a loved one. My friend thought that this -- being so pleased to collapse into bed at the end of a long day -- was a sign of aging, until she suddenly realized she'd started doing it, too. For her 40th birthday, I designed and embroidered a couple of pillowcases for her.

The pillowcases were store-bought (good thinking there), and I had originally planned on embroidering an identical set, both just like the one above. Except.

These took so much longer than I expected. So very much longer. And not just because of the do-over. That fishbone stitch or herringbone stitch, whatever it's called, takes forever. (So I'm a perfectionist. And, yes, it would go faster if I weren't. I'm aware. There's no need to yell.)

So, the second pillowcase -- made an hour before her surprise party -- looked like this:

You can even still see the outline of the embroidery hoop there, that's how fresh it was (how short on time I was) when it went into the gift-wrap. It's pretty and simple, but it also took me a very long time.

Obligatory photo apology: I managed to shoot these pictures while putting on my make-up, blow-drying my hair, and figuring out what to wear to the party. It was getting late. This was the best we could do.

Take-home lesson? You can't accuse my friend of being old, and you can't say I don't try. Because she's not, and I do. Sometimes you just have to make modifications to an original idea, that's all. (And truth be told, sometimes you have to admit you dabble a little in the perfectionism. Meh. It is what it is. Rock on!)