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!

2000 Miles, 5 states, 3 hotels, 3 brothers, 3 seasons, 2 time zones, 1 wedding

What a trip! I had planned to post last night, but the internet at the hotel quit working a few minutes after I logged on, so I gave up on that plan and focused on getting some rest.

On Sunday morning (yesterday) the girls and I got up and before we were really properly awake, Jasper had joined us. He had been sharing Flynn’s room, but Flynn had to leave very early in the morning to catch his flight, and Jasper woke up and was bored. We got the cars loaded (ours and Mary’s) and then walked through the hotel lobby and into the restaurant to meet the rest of the family for brunch.

We had a long table lined with family and it was a very convivial meal. The breakfast buffet was very good, though not cheap. Those of you who see your families on a regular basis may not realize what an amazing gift it is to spend time with all of your siblings and your parents for the first time in two and a half years. I didn’t get a photo of my three brothers together, which is a pity, because then we could have played a game wherein I would ask you (if you don’t know them) to guess which two are twins and what their age order is. I guarantee you would not be able to figure it out from their appearance.

After our brunch, most of us drove out to my brother Matt’s house for a tour (he is the father of the bride). This is the first time I’ve seen any place he’s lived in since he got married 35 years ago. He lives out in the country, at the “dead” end of a dead end, in a lovely house that overlooks a pond with a pair of nesting swans in it. It is a beautiful setting.

Probably the highlight for me was getting to see my sister-in-law’s ceramics studio. My sister-in-law, Brenda, is a boss at whatever she turns her hand to. She is a superb seamstress and embellisher. I did not realize till yesterday that she is also a woodworker—she made a beautiful cabinet that Matt pointed out to me. She can also draw, paint and sculpt. She is a world class macramé artist. Here is a piece she made for her kitchen window:

Brenda curtain

She is so brilliant at so many things, it’s hard to imagine that she is even better at one particular thing. Her ceramic artistry is so exquisite that I can only subside into a state of awe when I see her work. Here are a few samples of her artistry:

Brenda 3

Brenda 1

Brenda 2

Brenda 4

Brenda 5

If you are interested in contacting her, she has a website at

So anyway, I eventually managed to tear myself away from all that beauty and say goodbye to my parents and my brother, and we got on the road. Since we left so late, we decided to just get as far as we could and then stop for the night. We made it to Cairo, Illinois before running out of steam, and had a good night’s sleep before setting off again this morning. Amazingly, our budget motel offered a hot breakfast including actual protein that I could eat!

We drove into our own driveway just before 5:00 this evening.  Yesterday, in Indiana, it was still winter. Today, in Missouri and Arkansas, it was spring. Here in Texas, it appears to be summer already. It was over 90 degrees when we arrived home!


Rice Cakes, an Airport Run, and 1200 Stitches

You know why I didn’t post last night? Because I went to bed at 9:00. You know why I went to bed at 9:00? Because I had to get up at 3:30 this morning. You know why I had to get up at 3:30? Because I had to take Lina to the airport to catch an early flight out of Dallas.

Yesterday, though, I did one of the things I had promised Flynn we’d do while he was here, and that was make rice cakes. I had formed them into balls the night before, and yesterday morning we fried them. (Flynn has tried to do this on his own with disastrous and fiery results.) I rarely make rice cakes because of the time and work involved, and it’s an indication of my love for my son that I made them this week, because I can no longer eat them myself.


As I believe I’ve mentioned before, these rice cakes are one of the things we ate for breakfast every single morning at my boarding school. I love them so much.

So anyway, at least everyone else got to enjoy rice cakes for breakfast!

In the afternoon, Lucy dyed Flynn’s hair, but I’m not allowed to reveal it yet. Lina returned from her two-week trip just in time to join the others for a pizza dinner. She was home a total of nine hours before we left this morning at 4:00 a.m. She’s spending the weekend with a friend from college days.

Meanwhile, I drove straight home from the airport and managed to get here in time to say goodbye to Flynn! He is visiting friends in Dallas today and will continue on his way home to Colorado tomorrow. It sure was a treat to have him here with us.

This afternoon I took Jasper to a 4-H skit practice. While he did that, I sat at the end of the room and tinked the 1200 stitches of doom. I am still working on my project that has 640 stitches per row. A couple of days ago I realized that I had made a mistake. A pattern row was one stitch off all the way around. Then I had knitted another row on top of it. This project is not one that lends itself well to “frogging,” which is when you just pull the needles out and rip it back. I did not want to have to pick up 640 stitches. So instead I painstakingly un-knit them one stitch at a time. This is called “tinking” (“knit” backwards). Now I’m back to where I was before I screwed up!

Parting Shot:


Redbuds are in full bloom right now.

Sickness & Stitches

Today was a bit of a struggle, as I am trying to fend off some form of plague. Spencer is quite sick and I really hope I don’t get what he has.

Jasper and I made it through two lessons of math and another World War I documentary.

I got to talk to my husband now that he has cell phone reception and has driven back down to Atlanta.

I made an awesome supper even though I didn’t get to eat any of it. It was so awesome I wrote down the recipe so I can make it again!

I got four rows knitted. Four. Rows. That’s 2,560 stitches.

Algebra & Crochet

This morning we wrestled with Algebra even more than we normally do. I was trying to help Jasper with a problem and we both kept getting stuck. So I asked Lina to help, since she actually teaches math, and she got stuck too. Jasper had to finally look up the step-by-step solution on the CD. The rest of the math we did was equally exciting. We were both tired by the time we finished!

While Jasper was working on his next math lesson, my friend Shirley came over for a crochet lesson. I have taught many, many people to knit but rarely get requests to teach crochet. When you are trying to teach someone how to do it, you really have to think about what you are doing. After so many decades, the movements are second nature to me so it is hard to slow down and pay attention to each little thing. Shirley caught on very quickly and is well on her way to making her first project.

Later, I finished my final increase round on my current knitting project. I now have 640 stitches in every row. It is going to take real fortitude to keep going as it takes so long to complete even one row. It may be ambitious to even think about getting 1/4 of an inch done per day! I had hoped to do some sewing as well, but by the time I paid a bunch of bills and did some paperwork I was out of time.

I have not heard anything from my absent husband, nor do I expect to until Thursday. I imagine his sister is keeping him very busy.


Groundhog Day & FOs

Sorry about my silence last night—I’m trying to be better about getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

I have been realizing that an FO post is long overdue. (Note: UFO = Unfinished Object, FO = Finished Object). I was a knitting fiend in the months leading up to Christmas, but I couldn’t show you the things as I finished them because, you know, they were secret. So here are at least some of things I made:


Hats. So. Many. Hats. These three are for two of my nieces and the man one of them is about to marry.


I made this very warm scarf for my brother Matt who lives in Indiana.


There is an adorable baby in Zambia who happens to be Janet’s niece, so since Janet went home for Christmas I made this dress for her to take to baby Jasmine.


Since Mercy is moving to Russia this year, she will need much warmer clothing. I made her this very warm hat, scarf and muff to help keep her warm in St. Petersburg.


In January I have made 3 dishcloths.


I also made a rainbow hat for Lucy.


And I finished Lina’s scarf, which was a Christmas present.

Want to know what I am knitting now? Something for myself! A lightweight capelet made from the beautiful alpaca yarn Lucy brought from Bolivia.

I hear the groundhog saw his shadow. He’s a lying liarpants. We all know we’re not really getting six more weeks of winter here. So far we’ve only had three days!

Aldi, Robots & Handwork

Today was a busy day. I had to go to Aldi. I watched a poor young mother with a very lively toddler who did not want to stay put for even a second. She was wearing a rainbow princess dress and she was adorable. But the mom just wanted to get her groceries into the car and she had a newborn baby strapped to her chest and the little girl kept wanting to run off. The mom was terrified she’d run into traffic and not physically able to keep her corralled and still load groceries. The little girl reminded me of myself as a kid and I took a moment to feel sorry for my mother.

Then at lunchtime I drove Jasper over to the convention center, where he spend the afternoon in the 4-H room at the Boat and RV show. He was demonstrating robots and helping with the shooting booth. They are very short on volunteers so he will be going back again tomorrow.

While Jasper was gone I got some more work done on his cloak. I hope I have time to make some real headway on it tomorrow. He can’t wait for it to be operational!

I also finished knitting a hat for Lucy. It wasn’t exactly a Christmas present, just something I had promised her. I was glad to be done with it. So at the moment my only knitting project is the capelet I’ve started with the very fine alpaca from Bolivia. It will take months to make, I’m sure. But it will be so lovely and lightweight and suitable for this climate.

Spencer and Lucy were otherwise occupied this evening, so the rest of us sat down to watch a movie together and that’s why I got so much knitting done!

Up for tomorrow: a donut run, taking Jasper back to the convention center, yarn store, and rugby game!

Only a Month Late

Today we did school and then I had to rush off at lunchtime to get my name on the account for 4-H. It was a much more complicated process than I thought it would be, so we were at the bank for an hour. It turned out we needed a third signature, and fortunately the boy in question was free to drive over and sign!

I took a nap this afternoon–still dealing with the dregs of my cold and now dealing with some allergies too. I also tried out the new washing machine to prewash some fabric that I’m hoping to make stuff with.

In fact, since I finished a big writing project, I’m going to focus on sewing for a while. At least until I finish Jasper’s Christmas present! Last summer when I made the Desert Assassin Cloak to be raffled off at Realm Makers, I had Jasper model it and as a result he really wanted one for himself. At the time I was very burned out and I just said no. However, as I thought about it in the ensuing months, I was pretty sure I had enough fabric left over to do it.

Since I was so busy doing Christmas knitting before Christmas, I didn’t get much of a start on the cloak other than to get it cut out and get some of the pockets made. Today I made some headway–got the side seams sewn and one of the zippers in. Since I am 100% sure that Jasper will not be an actual desert assassin, I am leaving out the veil on this one, but all the other features should be there. It feels good to be sewing again.

A Swift & Ballwinder, No Washing Machine Day

So, I mentioned that I started winding my gift yarn yesterday. There was a LOT to wind–beautiful light fingering-weight alpaca yarn that Lucy brought from Bolivia. I got half of it done last night and the rest during the day as I had time. It is rather tedious to wind such a large amount of yarn, but it would be much more tedious without my swift and ballwinder.


The swift is the rotating wooden frame on which I put the hank of yarn, and then I wind it into center-pull “cakes” with my ball winder. All told, the job took over two hours, but now I have already cast on my first project!

And Walter got off work early so we could finally go washing-machine shopping. Our washing machine has been out of commission for over a month, which means Walter has had to take laundry to the campus and wash it there every single night. We found the washing machine of our dreams. The important thing was that it is not a Samsung. (Salesman: “You had a Samsung? If you had come to me, I would never have sold you a Samsung!”) Unfortunately, it is not in stock so we will have to wait till Monday to go get it.

The salesman did say one very depressing thing, and that was that if you get three years out of a major appliance these days, that’s the best you can expect. And here I was expecting a washing machine to last a minimum of 10 years!

Mercy had a couple of friends over for her farewell pizza supper. She and Lina are hoping to leave at 5:00 in the morning!