Book Smarts

Yesterday I ordered two books from Amazon.com and I'm anxiously awaiting their estimated arrival of March 7th. We have:




I know, I know. Sigh. I couldn't resist the Stitch N Bitch Book. I'm expecting it to be horrible. But I couldn't stop myself. It was like when I was 13 and I would sneak into "Book Corner" next to the grocery store and buy copies of Teen Beat Magazine so I could tear out the poster sized images of Cory Haim and Kirk Cameron and hang them in my closet so none of my friends would see them. I was compelled to have these things, for no good reason other than because the magazine company told me I should have them. Was the gossip even true? No. Were the photos good ones? Not in the least. So this, too, is probably garbage. This book, this author, she seems so cliche. Let's hope I'm pleasantly surprised. I just have this notion that all the "must haves" are have-nots for me.
I'm kind of excited about Donna Kooler's book though. Specifically, I was pleased with what people had to say about the number of stitches it "teaches" you, and the good information on different kinds of yarns it provides. I feel like I have so, so much to learn and I think this will be helpful. And really if the reviews are a pretty good indication, I should be happy with it. I have a DVD called Crochet Stitches in Motion which I'm fond of. Specifically, it has your most basic stitches in review format and you can watch them over and over again if you forget how to do something. Then it goes into more advanced things like the pineapple stitch, lacey stuff, some brick-looking patterns, etc. Pretty useful and very easy to learn from this. My problem is, I am so content on one hand with my single crochet that I don't yet have the itch to slow myself down, stop working on projects, and learn new stuff. I really need to start though. I've kind of been thinking that it will be my goal this weekend.

Grams and my WIPs

I've been wanting to share with everyone a wonderful gift my mother gave me. But it's hard for me to talk about. And I don't have photos yet. But I'm impatient and want to share.
My Grandma passed away at age 90 last December. It was so sad for me, and I'm still feeling upset about it. 2 weeks ago when I was having dinner with her and my Dad, Mom asked me if I wanted to have Grandma's yarn bag. Of course I said yes, it is both practical and sentimental. So she brings it out and it's this cute little canvas tote bag with a cheesy landscape scene painted on it. It's lovely and Grandma-ish and I adore it. Inside were 2 balls of a cotton yarn, probably Sugar n Cream by the looks of it, in yellow and white. There was also a mint green project she was working on, but I'm not sure what it was. Something for a baby I'm guessing. I don't know if I will finish it into something or just hold onto as it. I can't decide, and right now I don't have the heart to touch it. And lastly, which I'm so excited for, were all of her old hooks, stitch markers, etc. I am still speechless at it all. It's overwhelming. There must be 20 hooks in there at least. Most of them are metal Boye hooks and most of them are old, old, because they have the prices engraved on them and they're about 15-35 cents per hook. The hooks were all in a ziploc bag. I want to display them but I'm not sure how. In a little quilted hook bag/holder/thing? In one of her antique mason jars on top of my desk? I'm not sure. But it tickles my soul to have them.

And for my WIPs. Not much progress. I'm slowing down these days. I want to get moving and create more and more and more, but I'm so busy with other things it seems. I'm not sure when I will finish my 2nd pair of fingerless gloves (almost done), my dish cloth and my purse. I hope to have them all done by the end of the weekend, but we'll see.

Oh, and I slept better last night thankfully. I climbed into bed at 10:30 which is pretty early for me. I was instantly tired and went right to bed. Usually I'll climb into bed at 9 or so and watch some TV. But now I can't, so I climb under the covers and just sleep. Bliss.

Let Me Eat Cake (Please, I'm Begging!)

This "diet" of mine is really frustrating me. Using the d-word loosely, of course.
When I was in college, one of the electives I took for my major was "The Psychology of Aging." I recall a class wherein our professor told us that women are at a disadvantage after the age of 25 because their bodies begin to deteriorate, and are unable to bounce back they way they used to. Things like losing weight become more difficult, gaining weight becomes easier, the skin loses its elasticity more rapidly, bone loss increases tenfold, etc. It turns out that estrogen is damaging to our bodies after a certain age. Yippee.
Anyhow, when I turned 25 just about 3 years ago I remember thinking "this is it." I thought things would noticibly go downhill for me. I was so happy that they didn't. Nothing really seemed to change.
I've always been the small chick. The one people say "I wish I were as thin as you" to all the time. It's always been annoying to me because, with being small, I've always had a hard time finding pants that are short enough for me, shirts that don't exaggerate the smallness of my bust, etc. But despite that, I've always enjoyed it. I'm little. 5'2" max and never more than about 108.
In May of '06 I ended a nearly 5 year relationship. It was devastating. I ended up dropping to 97-98 pounds at my lowest, over the summer. I couldn't eat, I was just so sick with sadness. So I went on antidepressants in August (Lexapro) and felt much better. October 15th I still weighed in under 100 pounds. Thanksgiving day I weighed in at 118. WHAT? I gained 20 pounds in like 6 or 8 weeks? Huh? Is that even possible? Now, keep in mind I'm the kind of gal that eats cake, cookies, junk food all the time and does not gain weight. No matter what I'm doing, I weigh 108 pounds max. No matter what.
I've been watching my food intake and I don't think I'm eating like a pig or anything. In fact, I'm really not eating any differently than I have in my entire adult life since I moved out of my parents house and have been on my own. So why the sudden weight gain?
The only thing I can blame it on is the Lexapro. It came on so fast and furious, and for really no good reason. I blame being over 25 on my inability to drop it quickly like I always used to be able to.
I don't feel like I'm a fat person. I'm not. I'm still in the "normal" range by far. However, do you know what it is like to gain 20 pounds in less than 2 months? It's really devastating. You literally wake up fatter one day. I mean, I woke up one day and nothing fit me. It was that dramatic. It was and has been horrible for me. And again, I emphasize that I'm still small. But for ME and how I have always been, it's hard and sad and shocking to go from a size 2 short to a size 8 short in 2 months. It's hard emotionally, and very hard financially when you need to replace the majority of your wardrobe. And because I'm short and need to buy short, anke or petite lengths (which are not that easy to find), I end up shopping at stores like the Gap and American Eagle because they offer those lengths. Not cheap. It's so frustrating.
So I've been eating healthy, would someone please tell me why I haven't lost any weight? It all settled in my hips and butt (of course not in my boobs, please, that would be too lucky or me). I've been increasing how much walking I do, parking further away and walking up and down every aisle in the stores and things like that, and I've been doing some basic leg raises and floor exercises at home. Nothing strenuous, because I have a bad knee and physically can't be too, too active. I've started eating much better. During the work week I'll spread out over my 8 or 9 hour day: 1-2 pieces of fruit, a fat free yogurt and a Lean Cuisine or Lean Pocket. That's all I eat. When I get home from work I make dinner and eat it. It's not low fat, but it's not high fat either. I don't eat fried foods, I use all low-fat dressings and condiments and things like that. I don't pig out. If I am dying for chocolate, I won't eat the cakes and cookies and snacks I used to be able to snack on daily. Instead, I'll have some chocolate pudding made with skim milk that is low in calories and fat free. So why am I not losing weight? I want to lose 10 pounds so my normal clothes fit me and I am happy and comfy in my own skin. I hate this, I truly do.
It's been a cold winter. Not snowy, but frigid. i.e. not conducive to being outdoors. So now that March is just about here I think I'll start walking outdoors every day. Or at least 5/7 days per week. I'll start during the week when the clocks go ahead, because it's not safe to walk outdoors in my neighborhood at night (I'll get run over most likely). And I guess I need to start going to the gym. The apartment community has a pretty good one.
You know, it's not even the weight, the number. It's my thighs. They're 30 to 50% larger than I am used to them being. And they're full of the old lovely cottage cheese. Sigh.

Blah blah blah

Pretty rancid mood today. I think mostly it's because I'm overtired. I slept in my brand new bedroom last night and it did not go as smoothly as I wanted it to.
Because I'm obsessed with creating the perfect work space, I again rearranged and organized this weekend. Going so far as to switch the craft room with my bedroom. Instead of the bedroom having a computer in it, a TV, DVD and PlayStation, etc., the bedroom is now strictly a bedroom. Peace at last. The art and craft supplies, computer, spare TV, etc. are now in the other room. I literally spent the entire weekend moving the two rooms back and forth, and all the cleaning and organizing that comes with it.
But I couldn't sleep in my new room. I could not for the life of me settle down. I'm certainly paying for it today.

I didn't get much done this weeknd other than that. I have another pair of fingerless mittens just about completed. These ones are tighter (much better fitted to my small wrists) and go almost as high as my elbows which, in my opinion, is pretty hot. They make me feel like a rock star. I have started once again on the Sugar N' Cream dish cloths, and this time I'm doing it the way it should be done: with a much smaller hook (J). It is, of course, much more time consuming (why am I all id and in need of instant gratification? That's really why I don't use smaller hooks...I hate how long it takes me to make something, as I am inherently impatient). But I think in the end it's going to be fantastic. And I also started a handbag/purse. I'm using Caron's "Felt-It" because it was wickedly on sale and so cheap. I'm using a P-sized hook on that baby which I hope isn't too large. I think it will be fine once it is felted. I don't plan on lining it. I really need to decide what I want to do for handles though. I have two ideas in mind. And of course I'm not working from a pattern because that would just be way too smart. I have actually never looked at a pattern. I love trying to figure things out on my own. Mostly I'm probably just stubborn though and stuck in my need to reinvent the wheel each and every time.

I'm so tired!

Coming Attractions

I know I'm highly obsessive compulsive but I really can't help it. I live for organization. And more often than not the process of getting there is a great deal of fun for me. So my project for this weekend is to move all of my craft supplies, my desk, etc. into the other bedroom in the apartment where it will sit next to the computer (and beneath the window no less, so I can look at the birds in the trees rather than the blank wall). I will then have one bedroom where all of the computer, craft, art, yarn, etc. stuff is located. The goal is to make this a creative retreat that I adore and always want to be a part of. The other goal is to turn my bedroom into a zen oasis. Maybe Zen isn't the right word, but I am really hoping to turn it into a lovely sanctuary where one can relax and sleep.

One of the reasons I am doing this is because I have a tendency to get crafter's block. Though I love my desk I don't like where it is located so I rarely sit at it. How can I work that way? The other reason is that I cannot sleep lately. I've read far too many times that one of the things to do when you have insomnia is to turn your bedroom into the place where all you do is sleep. No TV, no computer, just sleep. So hopefully I'll accomplish both of my goals. I'm not going to move anything until Sunday. I plan on cleaning out the closets and switching them around tonight though to get a head start. :)

Color Me Finished

Fingerless mittens are the most wonderful thing ever. I can't even tell you how much they tickle my soul. I made a pair of these in about 2 hours which, I thought, was pretty quick. I didn't put a whole ton of effort into them (I usually don't the first time I make something, especially when I don't have a pattern and it's essentially a prototype). But I do love how they came out, so I'm going to spend some more time tonight making myself a nice long pair. It's like leg warmers for the arms. With a place for my thumb. I love them.



Here's a bad, bad photo of a gray and purple scarf I made for Sara. Like every scarf I make for her, it's pretty crooked. What's funny is that I haven't made a crooked scarf in over a year. But as soon as it's for Sara something just won't allow it to be straight.



This, like the fingerless mittens, was a practice-y prototype of a dish rag. It's shown here folded in half. After I made it I decided that I didn't want to wash dishes with it, I wanted to wash myself with it. So, I hung it in the bathroom.



The problem with it is that I used an obnoxiously large hook. So the stitches are just huge. Needs a nice tight pattern. Looks like a do-over is in order.



And finally phase 2 of the birdhouse. First I gesso'd it because I *thought* at the time I was going to be laying down paints and glazes. But I think I may have changed my mind. Here's the first layer of collage, just around the edges.

Annoying

I've been in a funk for a week or so and it just doesn't seem to want to go away. I'm frustrated and I'm sad and I'm tired and I feel completely alone in the world. How's that for melodrama? Well, drama or not, that's how I feel.

I did complete a few projects and I will upload pictures of them. I finished Sara's scarf, some fingerless mittens for myself and a washcloth (which turned out to be a bust due to a hook that was much too large). I'll try to do that today if I have time. Work has been busy this week.

I think what I need to do is go home, climb into a sweltering hot bath, have a glass of wine, and indulge myself in a good cry. Is drinking wine at 9 am a bad thing? I could really use a glass right now.

Well La De Dah!

Thanks to http://crochet.about.com/library/bldoublecrochet.htm , I just realized that I was, in fact, very, very close to doing double crochet. The only thing I was neglecting was that first yarn over. So I have it down, just need to yarn over once more. I find it funny how excited I am about this. Oh well. Up next will be Granny Squares. Because, you know, most 16 year beginners need to learn them! Oy. It's funny to me but oh so sad at the same time.

It's Friday, I'm in Love



I know the flash is much too bright in this photo, it's because I have this need to get way too close to my subject (horrible in digital photography, that's what the zoom is for, but fantastic for my Lomography http://www.lomography.com/ endeavors).
Anyhow, this is Otis, super cat. She's not a boy, but she has a boy name. She's very good. She sits on the couch during all waking hours of her life. I figured she could use a blanket to sit on. I was thinking of a baby who uses a blankie. It's more for security than anything else. So I made her a little swatch to sit on. But it seriously looks stupid on the couch. It looks like someone dropped a placemat on my couch and it just looks horrible and out of place. Everytime I see it I want to pick it up and put it on the kitchen table or something. So I picked up some more yarn and I'm going to make 3 more of these panels and stitch them together so it makes a very small cat throw. The color doesn't show well in this photo, but it really is lovely. It's Lion's Jiffy in El Paso. I love that yarn. It's so soft and lovely, like mohair, yet you can beat it to hell and wash it and it's all good.




Here is a green scarf I made in less than an hour. It's 4 rows of an almost-double-crochet (I sort of made it up as I was going, it's similar to dc but...well...fake). It's made with Lion brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick. It's so beautiful in person. The pic is garbage, I wish it looked better. For this I used (drum roll please) my brand new S-35 hook. Yes, the Speed Hook. And let me tell you, it was awesome! I love large hooks, and I love holding multiple strands of yarn together, so this hook was, I feel, made just for me.




And the Shawl (and Otis). Again with the Speed Hook. I held 2 strands of Red Heart Super Saver yarn together and did this all in single crochet. I ended up using 2 complete skeins and then a teensy-weensy bit of 2 more skeins to finish it off. I did not do this correctly and it shows. It was my first shawl. I have such a hard time increasing on a row. I don't know why. Decreasing is so easy for me. So I made one long chain and then just decreased by one single crochet for each additional row. Took me two days. It's for my mom. I love it, and I think she will too. Or at least I hope she loves it. I'm going to give it to her tonight when we head over for dinner.
Oh and for the record: my butt is not that dumpy and horrible looking in person! It's quite cute, actually. I happen to be wearing 6 year old sweat pants after a 10 hour day at work, and they're not so flattering. Ex-cuuuuuuuze meeee. I shouldn't let anyone else take my photo EVER!

Studio



These are the after shots of my "studio." Though, admittedly, it is much different now. And to think, this photo is only a week old! I am constantly changing how it looks and really need to do daily updates on this thing. The desk area is much smaller in comparison to what it was before, but it has more usable space, which I needed. In the L-shaped formation, though it looked good, I had no room for my legs, nor could I put anything heavy on the desk top because it was not stable enough (i.e. the brackets were not designed for that formation, especially since the tops were screwed into the corner shelves). I will most definitely take more photos of how it is coming together. Definite work in progress, but soon enough I will have the most kick-ass home studio space.

January 2007 Crochet--Completed Projects--Mostly Chemo Caps for Donation








Stuff and Things





Just a few random things I've done in the past 5 or 6 weeks. These were for 2 swaps: Altered Tags on ATC_Connection, and Altered CDs on ATC_Connection. The other collage ("Cure for the Brain") is a magnet that I gave to my friend Justin.

Studio Space


Here is a picture of my "studio" about a month ago. I'll post what it looks like now. These storage cubes are just amazing. You can move them and stack them and change the whole look and feel of how they are arranged. And it's pretty quick and easy. I have changed it since this was taken. And I've also added about a million skeins of yarn to it since then, as well.


VD Snow Day

Well yesterday was Valentines Day (Or, as I believe it should be called, Singles Awareness Day). The boy and I stayed home from work and had ourselves a lazy Wednesday because we were hit with about a foot or so of snow and ice.

When I think about all that I did yesterday, on one hand I have the sense that I accomplished a ton. However, on the other hand, I feel like I did a bunch of nothing. Mostly I feel that way because I did not complete a bunch of projects. Usually I measure success and accomplishment in terms of completed projects, but that wasn't the case yesterday. Save for one green scarf I crocheted, it was just putzing with this and that all day.

I did manage to get all of my wooden elements (birdhouse, serving trays and box) gesso'd and ready for altering. The birdhouse will be titled "Love is for the Birds" and it's going to be a sarcastic, snippy (real surprise there) take on love. Tne trays and box I'm not sure of yet, other than the fact that I want to give one tray to Sara and Justin as a housewarming gift. It would be cool if each piece ends up in the March art show, but as slow as I've been lately that means I really need to step it up a notch.

I also made some fun little rubber stamped images onto cardstock (which I cut out as well)--maybe 20 or 25 of them? I have to put together some paper dolls as well as use some for an ATC swap I'm in over on ATC_Connection, the theme being rubber stamps. I think I'll piece together a bunch of stamps and collage them onto the ATCs but I'm not sure yet.

I got a Coke can Gesso'd and a layer of paint onto it for the aluminum can doll I'm making for Altered Art Obsession. Due date for this isn't for 2 1/2 months but I have no ideas yet for this so I need to get moving.

It also occurred to me how far behind I am on the art show coming up for National Puppet Day. I really wanted to go all out and make some fun stuff for this, so I do need to get moving here. The show is only 2 months away, and the ideas I have right now will take some time to pull off.

I spent the rest of the day crocheting. I'm making a shawl for my mother which I really hope to finish by tonight so I can give it to her Friday after work. I did a whole scarf, too, which was fun, and I messed with a few other scarves and gave them some added length. I'll post photos later.

I'm back to work today and it sucks. I love days off. Maybe one day when I win the Powerball I can afford to spend the whole day (every day) playing around with my arts and crafts. In the meantime, back to the rat race. Sigh.

October 2006 Altered Clothing

For a Halloween art show in Manchester, NH by the Monastery Artists Collective, ( http://monasteryartists.org ) I put together a body form of myself that was dressed in clothing that I sewed. The clothing was a collage of various photographs I had taken during the summer and fall.

i need this

i used to have a blog here a year ago or so, but i've neglected it horribly once i started getting into myspace. for the past few weeks i've really felt it was time to get back into blogging. mostly, i need a place to unload.

the old blog had photos of a lot of handmade cards and atcs i had made during the winter and spring months of 2006. i've since moved on from those endeavors. while i still create the occassional atc for swaps i'm involved in, it's been a long time since i have scrapbooked, made greeting cards, etc. i've moved more into altered arts and collage, and have rekindled my obsession with crochet. i can't say i'm exactly pro at anything right now. the altered arts are fairly new to me. i feel like my "skill" (or lack there of) is a bit elementary, but it seems to grow with each item i make. i can't seem to stop altering things.

and with crochet, well, i'm certainly not pro at that even though i've been doing it now for about 18 years. when i was about 1o the elderly woman who lived next door to me taught me how to chain (i used to only make a single chain that i'd make into friendship bracelets), and single crochet. i've been making things here and there ever since. lately though, perhaps since the beginning of 2007, i've been obsessed with yarn and with crochet. i can't seem to stop my hands from moving, and i'm really only happy when i'm crocheting. perhaps this is a problem that is far deeper than a fondness for crocheting, but we'll deal with that much later. anyhow, it occurred to me as of late that i don't know how to crochet. sure i've made hats and scarves and bags/pouches in the past, but i haven't even been doing single crochet. i thought i was until i saw what single crochet looked like, and realized i was only yarning over once instead of twice. so i was doing a partial attempt at single crochet. i've since corrected that problem and i'm pleased to say that i really do single crochet now. i've also learned to read patterns now, and understand them and what they are trying to say. it will be interesting to see my progression in the coming months.

i should probably post some photos but i'm just not in the mood i don't think. perhaps this week or coming weekend.

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