A Helping Hand

Today was Friday, which meant grocery shopping at Aldi. As always, it was an interesting people-watching experience.

I got a little farther on my sewing and spent quite a bit of time revising a story that has been languishing for some time.

After lunch I received a surprise phone call from the son of my friend Robin. I don’t think I had seen him since his wedding a year and a half ago. His wife was working on a crochet project and she had run into a snag. He wondered if I might be able to help. I was willing to try, but I always worry that others think I am better at crafting than I actually am!

So they came over here and I looked at the pattern and after looking to see if there were any pattern corrections online, I realized the pattern had an error in it. This happens more often than you might think. Once we identified and corrected the error, she was good to go. She should easily finish her project before her deadline.

After that it was more sewing and revising, and going to the store to pick up a few things for an upcoming class. The store I went to was Michael’s. I was not prepared for the fact that it is mum season again. There was a whole aisle stuffed full of mummery.  Not to mention all the Halloween displays. *sigh*

I made pizza for Walter and Jasper, since Spencer is in Dallas for the day (and night) and Lucy is working. I rarely feel tempted by pizza anymore because it really does make me ill.  I do miss it though . . .

Something Practical, Something Pretty

I’m trying to take advantage of my crafting momentum and get as much stuff made as possible before the school year starts, because once I get busy with school, I know that there won’t be much time for sewing or knitting.

Today I cut out the straps and pockets for the aprons, and got the straps all sewn. I also did a bunch of revising, some other paperwork, and made some really good stir-fry for supper. At least I heard it was good.

So the aprons are going to be cool and all, but also very practical. Today I took a break from sewing to make something that was more on the “ornamental” side of things. I dug out a very small portion of my bead stash and made a “necklace” to hold an I.D. holder which I bought and modified:

7-27-17 ID necklace

I hate those stick-on name badges because my hair always gets stuck in them. And a chain won’t work because of my metal sensitivity. So I wanted to have a generic I.D. holder that I could use whenever I go to meetings where they want me to wear a name badge. Now I have something that doubles as a piece of jewelry. And, because I had some glow-in-the-dark beads left over, it glows in the dark too. Well, it’s really more of a glimmer, but still pretty cool.

I also worked on chording a new hymn. It is the favorite hymn of a friend of mine, but it is not included in the hymnbook we use at church, so I had to find it in another hymnbook and get the chords all figured out. Now I can’t stop humming it!

I’m trying so hard not to feel sorry for myself but I can’t say I succeed a hundred percent of the time. I really wish I was in Reno at the Realm Makers conference right now.


Back to Sewing

Well, now that those two labor-intensive cloaks are out of the way, I can start working down my very long list of stuff waiting to be made. The first step was to get the green thread out of my serger so I could serge the raw edges before washing and drying several pieces of fabric. Since I will be needing black thread next, I went to put black thread in my serger and found out I was missing a cone of black thread (it takes 4 cones). I have no memory of using up a cone of black thread, but it was gone!

So I serged the fabric with 2 black and 2 green cones and then got the fabric in the wash before making an emergency run to buy more black thread. Now my serger is ready to go, the fabric has been washed and dried, and the pattern chosen. I will be making at least 5 aprons in the next few days. A couple of them are literally years overdue!

I also did some paperwork and some housework and some writing. In fact I revised a short story and submitted it to the online magazine that published one of my stories last year. I am terrible at remembering to keep sending my work out.

In addition, I knitted some rows on my new and very boring project, did some reading, and watched most of a YouTube lecture. And worked out the chords for the hymn I posted on Sunday. I love my autoharp so much.

Relief and Recreation

What a relief it was to finish the beading on the cloak last night! I’ve had a couple people ask me to remind them what the cloak is for.

This is the fourth year in a row that I have made and contributed a cloak to the raffle at the Realm Makers conference. (The first year, there was no raffle that I remember.) The raffle is to raise money for scholarships for the conference. Each year I have made and named a cloak. The Radagast cloak came first, followed by the Sapphire cloak and then the Desert Assassin cloak. This year’s cloak, the Ethereal Enchantress cloak, will not be delivered in person as I cannot afford to go to the conference this year.

So this afternoon I drove forty-some miles to the home of a lucky writer friend who is going to the conference, and gave her the cloak to take with her. I am looking forward to finding out who wins it.

Today, since I was done beading, I went grocery shopping as usual in the morning. After lunch my friend Robin came over for a visit. I hadn’t seen her for at least two months! It was good to get caught up.

As soon as Robin left, I had to dash off to deliver the cloak, and once that was taken care of I drove to another town to visit my dear friend Sybil. We had a lovely visit and went out for supper and then back to her house to visit some more. It is hard to stop talking when you only see each other about once a year.

Now I’m back home and waiting for Lucy to text me that she’s ready to be picked up from work . .


All Beads, All Day

My original concept for the cloak featured lots of beading on all the vertical seams. Because the cloak itself took so long to construct, I had to scale back my beading plan. I have to deliver the cloak tomorrow to a friend who will take it to the conference, so I knew that whatever beading I did had to be done by tonight.

I’m actually pretty proud of how much I was able to do in two days. There are at least some beads on all the vertical seams, at the top and at the bottom. Hundreds and hundreds of beads. The cloak is much heavier now!

I did take a break to go to the gym with Jasper. I didn’t watch as much stuff because I realized it was slowing me down. I sew faster when not distracted by something to look at.

My “fit model” had offered to come back for a photo shoot when the cloak was done, but unfortunately she wasn’t feeling well today and it had to be today or never. So I pressed Janet into service and made her put on a pretty dress and meet me on campus shortly before sunset because I wanted to get that lovely light.  I actually wasn’t quite done beading yet, but I had to take the photos while I had the light!

This is only the second full circle cloak I’ve ever made, and the last one was smaller and the body was made of only 2 pieces instead of 15. And, not that I’m keeping track or anything, but this is cloak #47. I have at least 3 more planned.

Parting Shot:

EE 3

You can see that there are some white beads mixed in with the coordinating green beads. The white beads glow in the dark!

EE 4 hood

The front edge of the hood is also beaded.

EE 6

The Heat is On

You may or may not have noticed that when I am trying to make a deadline, my blog tends to suffer. So, rather than give a detailed account of the last few days, I’ll hit the highlights. Since I last posted on Saturday, I have:

-Gone to church

-Said goodbye to our weekend house guest

-Gone with my husband to the Texas Shakespeare Festival’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac

-Prepared for and taught a creative writing class

-Sewed and sewed and sewed

-Celebrated our 36th anniversary by going to an Indian restaurant for dinner, where I had to watch my husband eat all my naan because of course I can’t have either naan or rice.

-Waited in a parking lot for an hour for Lucy to get off work

-Stayed up till 2:00 a.m. sewing and then washing all the stabilizer out so the cloak could be drying overnight

-Worked out at the gym twice.

-Finished the last of the machine sewing and started sewing on beads. Hundreds of beads so far.

-Watched one movie and three videos to pass the time while beading.

Guess what I’m doing tomorrow? More beading . . .

Sewing and Writing

I figure I’d better post something tonight before my mother gets worried about me. This is kind of an intense time for me.

*I am still working on the cloak for Realm Makers, when not tied up with other stuff. Soon it will be all in one very voluminous piece. Every seam has to be stabilized with stabilizer. I went to the “fancy” fabric store yesterday to get more stabilizer, and they tried to tell me that I wouldn’t need it if I used smaller needles on my serger. They were wrong, a phenomenon that doesn’t happen often.

I know what you’re thinking. Cloaks are pretty simple. Normally they consist of four of five pieces, including the hood. So what’s taking so long? Well, having to pin stabilizer into each seam is one thing. And the body of this cloak consists of 15 pieces instead of four. *sigh* I have no one to blame but myself. It’s a design I’ve been wanting to try for a while. However, I think once will be enough!

*We have a house guest. Spencer’s friend Jayme is spending the weekend to celebrate his birthday, so no sewing got done last night. Instead I made pizza and iced a birthday cake. We are so glad Jayme was able to come.

*Today was the local writers’ conference I signed up for many weeks ago. This is the same conference at which I taught last year, and I was so impressed with this group that I wanted to attend as a student this year, especially since I can’t afford to go to either one of my favorite “big” conferences for the foreseeable future. It was a very enjoyable day. On the way home, just thinking and daydreaming about writing and all my stories, I had a lightbulb moment when I realized there is a common theme that runs through most of my stories. Huh.

So, I’m taking a break from sewing to dash off this blog entry and figure out what music I’m playing tomorrow. Don’t expect to hear much from me until Monday or even Tuesday!

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

Mercy is all set to go to Russia! Her plane ticket is paid for and she is fully supported too! Even though I expected this to happen, I am just so thrilled. We can’t wait to see what God will do through her in the months that she is there.

I finished my sewing project today—my forty-sixth cloak. I will show you some photos of it tomorrow, I hope. Meanwhile, I have cut out number forty-seven and have been busy researching how to get the seams to look the way I want, as the fabric is rather tricky. I have a horrible feeling I know what I will have to do, and I’m not thrilled.

This morning Jasper and I got called into a spur-of-the-moment meeting with the 4-H agent, who wanted to discuss some ideas for getting more participation in 4-H. Jasper is going to have to put forth a lot of effort into getting his SET (Science, Engineering, Technology) project off the ground.

Excuse me while I go verify that my sewing experience tomorrow is going to be even less enjoyable than I had hoped . . . .

Stringing Right Along

We had some massive thunderstorms last night and this morning, and a mostly overcast and rainy day. I love a day like that every now and then. I certainly did not have to worry about watering my mint plants!

Jasper had his tutoring session with Jordan this morning, so I could work on paying bills. We are waiting on a paycheck that was due at the end of March, and I admit I’m getting a little anxious. I hope it arrives soon.

I also worked on restringing one of my favorite necklaces. I don’t wear much jewelry at all, apart from the little gold rings in my ears, but there are a few things I wear on the rare occasions when I want to be a little dressy. My malachite necklace is one of them. My husband brought it back from Zambia for me on one of the two occasions when he went without me. He knew how badly I wanted one—I grew up in Zambia but could never afford to get a malachite bead necklace when I actually lived there!

It is over 20 years old now and so far has held up well, but I worried that one of these days the dental floss would break and beads would go everywhere. (Yes, the necklace was strung on actual dental floss.) The other problem was that the clasp was very tiny and had to be screwed together. I have never been able to do it by myself with my hands behind my neck! Someone always has to help me. So I thought I’d replace the screw clasp with one that is easier for me to handle.

I have the tools I need but making jewelry for myself is a bit tricky because of my metal sensitivity. The 19-strand wire I’m using is coated, but I worry about the crimp beads. Even a tiny little crimp bead touching my skin will cause irritation quite quickly, so I am swathing the crimp beads at either end in clear fabric paint that should protect my skin. The “loop” end is drying tonight and tomorrow I will do the clasp end.


A Yarn Adventure

Since Lina and I had to go to Dallas today anyway, I suggested going in early to beat the rush hour traffic and then maybe we could check out a Dallas yarn store. So we left shortly after lunch and made our way to a yarn store on the north side of Dallas. It was a very nice store, with plenty of sitting space (always a plus for me) and a big section of clearance yarn, from which I picked a couple of balls for a small project I have in mind.

Lina, in the course of her browsing, came across some lovely hand-dyed yarn which came from a studio right in our very own home town of Longview. We had no idea there was such yarny creativity going on here.  She bought a souvenir skein, and I have already checked out the Twisted Owl website!

After our yarn store spree, we went out for an early supper to a restaurant that was a little out of our comfort zone in terms of price. That sometimes happens when you are just trusting Google to lead you to the nearest ethnic restaurant.

When we had finished eating, we continued on to the west side of town to get Lina checked into her hotel. She is flying to Canada early in the morning, and we both agreed that we didn’t want to get up at 3:00 a.m. to leave for the airport tomorrow. (She can take a shuttle from the hotel.) I had a power nap while waiting for rush hour traffic to dissipate a little, but was on my way by 7:00. This is a beautiful time of year to be driving back and forth to Dallas so much. The highways are lined with wildflowers, including many bluebonnets and pink primroses.

I arrived home by moonlight and am happy that I don’t have to head for the airport again until next week!