Archive for January 2016

A Sunday update, with some photos!   20 comments

Why hello there!  I thought I would stop by today with an update of the random variety.  🙂

It seems that I have not had the computer on in a long time – I think it has to do with the winter furniture arrangement – the couch is across the room from the wall with the internet connection – which means a cable across the room when I want to be online.  Such a small thing, right?

Anyway, I’m here now.

Life has been sort of ordinary – plodding along on long term projects and working. We were THRILLED to be missed by the big blizzard! We know our luck won’t hold forever, but that makes it all the sweeter.  And the days are getting longer – take a look – sunrise coming when we head out the door to work.  🙂

winter-morning

Can’t wait for the day the sun is up when we get up. I think that happens n May…

Last weekend we braved the bitter cold to attend a fundraising concert in Ellsworth at the Grand Auditorium.  It benefitted one of my work programs, so it had a mandatory tenor to it, but it still felt good to get out!  We stayed for the first two acts, both local.  The first was a  singer/songwriter named Bobbie Lane and the second a Celtic band named Friends of MacLir.  Both were really good, and I loved the music, though I was disappointed that they each played only one set.  We left after that, missing the rock and roll band.  But we got home and back into our warm house before it got too late, which felt really good on that January night.

This weekend’s “entertainment” had to do with visiting relatives.  A headed off to see her sister S yesterday. S had eye surgery on Friday that requires that she keep her face down (but above her heart) at least until Monday.  She has sitting and sleeping contraptions, but as you might imagine, is uncomfortable and doesn’t sleep well, so tired. A brought her up some comfort food and they had a nice visit.

Meanwhile, I headed down to Mom’s, gathered her up and we headed off to visit my cousin B and uncle V.  I think I mentioned that my uncle had a stroke just before Christmas.  It was pretty darned scary for a while there, but he is working hard at rehab, and is able to live with B and his fiancée C.  Everyone hopes this is temporary, but no one really knows for sure.  B built his house himself, with help from his dad, and it is a great house.  Not tiny, but small and efficient, filled with warmth and light.  It wasn’t designed with an invalid in mind, but they make do.  We had a nice visit, V did really well.  I was surprised at how mobile he is – he had just come back from a  walk outside with C when we arrived.  He dozed a bit during our visit, but seemed sharp and clear minded when he was awake.  Sadly, he has a hard time getting the word he means to come out when he wants it to, so he struggles to make his usual puns and jokes, and gets frustrated. B and C both seem really good at picking up on what he meant to say and helping him out.  My aunt G stopped by – the family is a bit complicated, but she is Mom’s sister, V’s ex-wife and B’s Mom.  She and her husband live down the road from B, they all get along now days, so it is a good set up for caring for V. It was nice to catch up with her as well, and there was a huge bonus surprise for me that I will share with you at the end of this post.  🙂

Mom and I headed home, and I must note here that we DID NOT STOP AT ANY OF THE YARN STORES ALONG THE WAY.

I think we deserve extra points for that.

Mom had to go to a fundraiser auction thing, so I went along home.

Today A and I are just hanging about working on household chores and our projects.  I am determined to get through the Pease Blossom shawl today.  Maybe not the bind off row, but at least the ninth chart.

I haven’t shown you my progress since chart three, I don’t think –

here we are at the end of chart 4 (I think):

shawl-progress-2

And Chart 5:

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And chart 6:

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Look at how the color changes in those photographs!  Yikes.  The first one is the closest, and it isn’t perfect.  It is warm soft browns and tans with rose highlights.  The beads are clear with a copper lining.  There are almost 700 stitches on this short needle now, so it is hard to get a shot that shows the pattern and beads accurately.  This is very clearly a project where blocking will make it shine.  🙂

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Shine like these beads – aren’t they wonderfully sparkly?

 

 

 

 

So, on to the big surprise.  We were conversing about our fiber related projects (my aunt is a wonderful weaver) and my aunt asked me if I knew how to spin.  I told her I intend to learn, and had tried drop spindle spinning but hadn’t given it enough practice.  She asked if I had a wheel.  No…  did I want one?  yes, duh!  Turns out she has one, it is in the attic gathering dust, she never really got into spinning.  I could have it on a long term lend if I was interested.  No doubt about that!!!!  So, we stopped by her house, she went up in the attic and returned with this!

spinning-wheel

I am so thrilled!!!! I will be hopping over to Youtube to look for instructional videos, and I will be saving pennies to take the lessons I have craved over at the Purple Fleece this summer.

When we talked about “payment” nothing was set concretely, but I suspect I will be knitting her something fabulous.  Not promising her any spinning yet, but someday, maybe.

You can imagine the look on A’s face when I walked in the door… she sees money flying out the door and the house filling with fleeces.  She might be right.  But first I have to learn how to use it. 🙂

 

 

 

 

It got cold, all of a sudden   10 comments

I suppose not really, but it sure feels like it. The last few days have been very cold, and extremely windy, which makes very cold feel like bitter artic cold.

Good thing I have lot of cowls and shawls and hats and socks, right?  I do need more sweaters though, and that is a fact. Better move one up the queue.  🙂

Today I was huddled at my desk in a wonderful cowl I made a few years ago (with some fabulous handspun yarn I got at Common Ground Fair – it has PEARLS spun into it!) around my neck, my giant gray fluffy Pi shawl wrapped around my shoulders and torso, and my boss cracked up.  I asked him if he wouldn’t mind paying the heating bill.  🙂

But now I am warmer, and have put the shawl away for a time. But not very far away – I feel the draft when the door opens and it does that frequently in the mornings.

 

My knitting is moving right along – slow on this project, as it is one I only work on when away from home (my “mobile” project)

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and faster on this one, which I work on each evening.

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Just about done with the tenth repeat of the third chart – love the pattern and placing the beads as I go is getting to be not as cumbersome as at first – I am developing a rhythm for that, too. Can’t wait to see what the 4th chart looks like… and the 5th and 6th… 🙂

Yarn peeks over the back of the couch at me, calling me, reminding me that I promised it would be next…and maybe it will be.  But maybe not as well.  I have so many conflicting projects and goals pulling me – slowly and steadily build inventory; knit up the stash and make me some warm things; make more pretty jewelry because I love playing with the beads; try some of the ornament patterns I have bookmarked… which could also be inventory building, right?

 

I barely have time to go to work.  And it is so cold out there, I really don’t want to…

New lampshades!   17 comments

Maybe you have to be me to be excited about this.

But what the heck, I am me, and I have been wanting new lampshades like forever.

Seriously, isn’t this pathetic?

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The lampshade that came with the lamp eons ago was a dingy yellowed drum shade. It worked ok but never excited me.  Then in the last move the shade got ruined.  This bright white shade was $3 at a thrift shop. Price is all it had going for it.  The smaller lamp to the left came with A. She loves it. I like the lamp but that shade-!  It clings to dust, the trim is peeling off, I hate it.

So, I was wandering around Etsy one day, and I came across a site,  I like that lamp.  Among other things, Kiri  the owner, sells kits to make your own lampshades.  Hmmm.  I “favorited”  the shop and life went on.

Then I had a good season selling knits, and I got paid through Paypal.  Ut-oh, dangerous!  I remembered the lamp shade kit and went back to check it out.  Following her directions, I measured the lamp for the shade it should have, and I went ahead and ordered the kit.

Pretty quickly I got a message that it was shipped, and almost instantly I got an email from Kiri saying that due to a computer mix up, she shipped me the wrong size, but she was dropping the right size into the mail.  I should keep the wrong one when it came.  We went back and forth a bit on that, but she was insistent. I acquiesced, gracefully, I think.  🙂

Soon this came!

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And I opened it up to find this inside:

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So pretty!  I love that she takes the time to package the kit in such cheerful papers.

 

Then came the next step.  Choosing fabric.  The instructions, and my common sense said to choose a light colored, light weight fabric.  The room is soft blue/gray, everything in it is blue, except the floor and ceiling which are wood, and A’s 2 big brown chairs. (Which are going away the next time I have a enough money for new chairs.  Don’t tell.)

I convinced A that we needed to go to the wonderful fabric store in Belfast, Fiddle Head Artisan Supply.  I left her out in the car with her iphone games for entertainment, and in I went to scope it out.

There are so many beautiful fabrics in this store, it makes me want to do nothing but sew.  Until I get home and actually have to deal with pattern and machine, of course. They have two rooms – one is primarily cottons for quilting (or summer skirts 🙂 ), the other with really nice quality fabric for dressmaking.  I stuck to the cotton room. They also have other supplies, including real wool felt, and I managed to NOT get any of that, but it was tough.

I saw this cool thing, made with what appear to be paper drinking straws. I might have to make one…

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Back to the lampshade fabric…

I quickly realized that not just any fabric would do.  Because of the size of the shade, the direction of the pattern really mattered.  I wanted to be careful not to have my pattern come out sideways in the finished product.  This caused me to regretfully rule out some really cute prints.

And, because I love A and want her to stick around, flowers were out.  Prints that are flowered, prints that look like they might be flowered, prints that vaguely resemble flowers.  She is not having any of it.  There is a reason that so far every single thing in our house is a solid color.  Except in my craft room where I have very nice looking (I think) flowered curtains and roman shades.

Before too long, I had a nice stack of fabric.  I did what any 21st century shopper would do.  I took photos of them all, and sent them to her in the car so she could weigh in on the decision.  I figured I would be the winner as I only sent her photos of fabrics I liked.  🙂

Here are the selections:

Wait a minute – where did that red come from?  I thought I decided light colors?  Well, I did, but I loved that print and thought a pop of red in the room would look fabulous.

 

A thought I was mad, and she chose the one with the dotted swirls.

I still might go back and get that red someday, looking at it now, I really like it.

There things sat for a couple of weeks.  I needed the right time, lots of patience, and of course, to clear up the table in the craft room.

 

Today was the right time.  A is at work, I have a holiday.  Its snowing, so the light in the craft room is good, no glare.

 

I set to work.  Ironed the fabric carefully, and headed upstairs.

The directions are short, sweet and clear.  Apparently, there are tutorial videos, I didn’t look at them. I don’t think I needed to.

I laid both shades out on the fabric and got to work.

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The styrene liners are really rolled up tightly, I had to use lots of weights to hold them in place.

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(Oh look what I found for weights – more lamps!!)

I fussed a bit with the fabric, which as you can see is thin enough that I can see my cutting board beneath it.  This is a good thing, as I wanted is all to be as straight as possible.

Finally I had to get brave and peel the backing off the styrene and stick it down.  This was just as easy as the instructions said, not as hard as I expected.  I peeled and stuck slowly, smoothing as I went.

It wasn’t long before I was ready to fit the rings into the cylinder and start gluing.  I am not sure if the tutorials will show this step, the directions here did not, but I did a dry fit at this point, to make sure I had the cylinder at the exact right size.  This was a bit fussy, but I am glad I did it, as I was able to make adjustments now, not when I was covered in glue.  🙂

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Once I was sure it would all work, I set to doing the gluing.  This also went very smoothly, and again I followed the directions and did a bit at a time, pulling it tightly as I went.  I used all the clips she sent in both kits on the first (smaller) shade.  Luckily I have a million of these clips, so I was able to do both shades today. Other wise I would have had to wait for the first one to dry.  Or gotten brave and trusted that Kiri knows her stuff and I don’t need all these clips.  You know I was afraid of it snapping open and me having a sticky mess on my hands. That did not happen.  In no time, the second shade followed the first.  Here they are immediately after the gluing was done (and look – another old lamp in the background!):

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And here they are in the living room, clips and all.  I am going to give them until tomorrow to let the glue dry really well before I remove the clips.

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The small one is really too small for that lamp, but look – the old thrift store drum shade fits it pretty well!

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So I will have to find another lamp for my new little shade.

I am really pleased with how these turned out and how easy it really was to do the shades.  I will be making more of these in the future -a  red one, perhaps?  And of course, since I uncovered no fewer than SIX shade-less lamps in the corner of the craft room when I was looking for weights, I can imagine that I will be making some so that they can be used again. I did not realize I had turned into a lamp collector.  I do know I like lots of light, so I guess it makes sense, in a hoarder sort of way.

If you are thinking of doing this, I can’t recommend I Like That Lamp kits enough.  I’ll be checking out more of her offerings in the future.

I do recommend that you start with a smaller shade if you have that option – the big one was a bit harder to work with due to its size, but I had confidence from doing the smaller one first.  I can see myself getting a bit frustrated if I had started with the larger one first.

 

Just a note – I was not paid in any way for this review. Although I did essentially get two kits for the price of one, that was her providing excellent customer service, not asking for an endorsement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s official – I am certified!   14 comments

No! Not crazy, why would you say that?

I passed my test so that I am a certified tax preparer through the AARP Tax-Aide program.  Now the fun will begin!

Training went pretty well, given all the stuff we had to cram into one week – I think this is my 9th or 10th year, and it does grow easier each year to recall all the little rules, but I wonder how a new volunteer feels as things are blasted at them in such a short time?  Thankfully, they are not left alone to do taxes, we all help each other and check each other’s work. Next year it will all feel new, though, as the IRS is changing their tax prep software program.  Across the board. Every bit of it. So this year is the last year of feeling some comfort that I know what the heck I am doing.  Next year, I will just know how it is supposed to come out, not how to make it happen.  But that is a long way away.  🙂

I didn’t get as much knitting done as I would have normally in training.  For one thing, I opted against a circular needle hat, and went with a WIP I have had around for a while  – is scarf.  I made really good progress on it, though, several inches, so I feel good about that.  But I was a small group leader every afternoon, and small group leaders teaching computer skills don’t have much time for knitting, lol.  However, it seems, after all these years, I have a reputation, and many volunteers, male and female stopped to ask me what I was working on, to share tales of their own knitting experience or fond memories of a family member knitting.  Also, since it is January in Maine, and we are in what I hope is the coldest room at Husson University for our training, I wore many knitted things that week – socks, sweaters, shawls, even necklaces and bracelets.  I got many compliments, and “you MADE that?” comments during the week.  So it was a good week, fiber-wise.  🙂

The other thing I love about tax training week is lunch break. I haven’t changed a bit since kindergarten, right?  More specifically, it is lunch that I like.  We eat in the student community room, and get our food at the lunch bar, named Cressy’s.  They have the best freshly made sandwiches, burgers, etc.  The ladies are fun to chat with, and invent delicious daily specials.  It is a highlight of the week.  Actually, whenever I can get organized to get there a bit early, I go there for breakfast, too.  Niece B, a student there, turned me on to their omelets – delicious.  And everything is very affordable… I look forward to it all year long.  And no, I never seem to go there any other time of the year, even though it is open and I could. It is a special tax training thing.

But now it is behind us, I passed the test and am good to go forth and prepare taxes in my spare time.

Yes, I guess I might be crazy after all.

Good morning!   10 comments

I hope you are all looking forward to this first workday of 2016.  Yeah, me, too.

 

I am up early today because I completely procrastinated all weekend and did not prep for today’s tax training.  Got up at 4 am, got it done and now have a bit of time for the blogging black hole.  🙂

Yes, I said tax training.  It is that time of year again where life gets wildly busy, my brain gets used to the max, and I feel completely exhausted.  And I LOVE it.  🙂  There is nothing more gratifying than guiding someone through the twists and turns of an accurately prepared tax return.  🙂  But first I have to do the training and pass the test.

Tax training means I will be going to Bangor every day this week (weather permitting — training follows the schools when it comes to cancellations.  But the forecast looks good.)  And in Bangor, there are at least two (that I know of) yarn stores, three big box craft stores, and many many other shopping opportunities.  And  have a wee bit of cash in my stash, so there is no telling what will happen.  🙂

 

On the crafting front – I spent a lot of time plotting and planning and knitting this weekend – I finished up the panda snack/wurm hat.  There is a bad photo on my ravelry page here if you are dying to see it.  🙂  I started a  Peaseblossom shawl which I will tell you more about and show you later – it is going to be GORGEOUS, I think… (Thanks for sharing, Claire!) It will be for sale somewhere. I intended it to be for me, but it is coming out way more brown when knit than I expected and I just don’t do brown.

The Knitting Sarah is starting a new project with a new year – she is so good to us all!  It is the 1+1+1 project, and we had to set three goals.  Mine revolved around knitting inventory for sales opportunities, knitting shawls for sale and keeping. I committed to 4, not because I think that will be hard to achieve, but to keep me from knitting all shawls all the time, and Peaseblossom is the first one.  Hap for Harriet is definitely on the list, to keep. The last goal is to knit myself a sweater from the New England Knits book, using stash yarn.

But before I saw her new project, I saw a post from the United Way of Eastern Maine on Facebook, talking about a happiness jar.  Everyday you write down something that made you happy, and put the paper in the jar.  At the end of the year, you open them up and relive hundreds of happy moments.  I don’t usually do well with every day commitments, but so far, so good.  I even have A participating.  🙂 And guess what?  4 days and not one mention of knitting in the jar!  There might be a SQUEEEEEEEE about the bead order arriving though.  🙂

 

So.  Sales.  The pop-up shop is done for the year, I pick up remaining inventory and final check after work tomorrow.  I stopped in Saturday to say hello and pick up a little gifty for us, and Sonja, the amazing Sonja, told me she has passed my name on to a woman who is looking for crafters for her year round shop.  I know the shop and it is lovely, very well known and seems to do very well, so that was exciting.  Added to the fact that Sonja is going to do a two month shop this summer in Bucksport and wants me to knit more summery and baby things, it is a good thing that I got that bead order and have a yarn stash!  I am trying to find things that will sell well and not be tedious to knit.  I do want a couple of shawls ready for either opportunity, as I sold two of the three I had in the pop-up shop.  I know I won’t sell ten a year, but a shawl every now and then does wonders for the pocketbook.  🙂 I will keep doing them, between baby hats and booties and mittens, and regular hats and jewelry. I have to work to keep this manageable – so knitting remains fun and doesn’t become too much like work.

 

And with that, I see I should get going – have to pack my tax books, computer and knitting.  I can usually knit a hat a day in tax training – the trainer doesn’t mind me knitting through lectures as long as I do it quietly and pass my test.  🙂

 

Have a fun Monday!!

 

 

 

 

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