Cheap and Not-So-Cheap Thrills

First things first, let's get the most important news out of the way.
I have new sock yarn. Yep, that's the most exciting thing going on right now, and believe me, in my current state I will take any little thrill I can get! I was reading someone's blog the other day and clicked over to a pattern and then saw a link for a contest, clicked that and saw the word "Sale" on the sock yarn store, clicked that, and only 2 minutes later I had new yarn on it's way to my house. It was such an impulse buy, but at only $24, including shipping, I got TWO skeins of Arucania sock yarn and it arrived yesterday. Perfectly timed arrival too, as I was having a shitty morning.

The solid skein is actually a gorgeous dusty purple, it looks more gray in this photo. I plan to make socks and use the purple as the toe and heel. Then, I'll have to use some leftovers of another skein to make purple socks with contrasting toe and heel. (I bought my mom a ball of this yarn in a blue and purple colorway. I can use that to go with the purple, it will be PERFECT! That brings up a question for another day about an in process sock she was working on before she died.)

On another side note, Shannon... I LOVE MY NEW CAMERA!!!
My old digital camera was only about 5 years old, but that is probably about 50 years in technology time.

Ok, so there's the exciting news out of the way. Next to tell you about Christmas gifts.
I had many many projects to finish before Christmas. I was working on a pair of socks for Ryan using Knit Picks Risatta. He got one... the other is ready to turn the heel.

The other Christmas project was a pair of thrummed mittens for Shannon. One is done, the other is about 5 inches in, I'm ready to put the thumb stitches on a stitch holder.

I have a small box of stuff to send Shannon this week, so my goal is to get it done and include it in that box.

But, (there's always a "but") I have been casting on new projects left and right over here. I knit a whole baby bootie that I didn't like so there won't be a second one. I cast on for a Calorimetry using straight needles, and needed a circular to fit all 120 stitches onto, and didn't want to get up to get one, so there that project sits. Then I also cast on for a neat little headband I stumbled upon on Pepperknits that uses leftover sock yarn. I have tons of that and boy do I need a headband! I was at the drug store last week and they wanted to charge $8 for ONE cheap-looking black spandex thing. So, I am totally enthralled and entertained by this simple 4-row repeat project. And I'm using leftover sock yarn that I LOVE LOVE LOVE from the Michigan Fiber Festival. It is just striping way more beautifully than the socks did and I am getting such a cheap thrill from this project that I want to just work on it all day!
So that is the competition for Ryan's second sock and Shannon's second mitten (and of course, actual work I have to do for a paycheck). Pretty fierce competition.
LOVE the new camera! Thanks Shannon, Love you too!

And one last little thrill. It amazes me after someone close to you dies, how important their STUFF becomes. Things they probably never looked at once it was thoughtfully placed on a shelf, their impulse purchases that they didn't like any more, their yarn that they coveted and never used because they were waiting for the PERFECT pattern. Every time I go to my mom's house since she's been gone, little things catch my eye. There are the obvious things, like, the sock box that Ryan made for her, the quilt I made for her, anything in her handwriting, old photographs and Christmas ornaments. Every time I go I come home with a bag full of stuff. Sometimes it is something that I need that now don't have to buy. Other times it's just a nick-nack that catches my eye. The most recent visit, I saw this cute little lamb, sitting on a lawn chair. He just spoke to me and I had to take him home.

So I put him on a shelf in my sewing room next to a card that I gave Mommy for Mothers day in 2001. He makes me smile when I look in his direction.

So tonight is my first Wedding Dress Fitting! My bridesmaid Kristy is coming and so is my future Mom-in-law (I'm going to say "mom-in-law" becuase it doesn't have that bad connotation that "mother-in-law" does, because she is certainly not "one of THOSE". And I am NOT saying that because I know she reads this, Hi Gayle!) I had forgotten about the dress fitting, and on New Years Day I was changing the calendar over to January when I saw "Dress Fitting, 6pm" staring me in the face and it felt like someone punched me in the stomach. The first wedding thing that Mommy can't be here for. I panicked and immediately got on the phone with Kristy to see if she could come with me. It is going to be fun and it's really going to suck at the same time.
I have to make the best of the situation. This WILL be my only wedding, this will only happen once and I have to start getting excited about all the little details again. It was destined to be this way, and I have accepted that. That doesn't mean I have to like it.


A brand new sewing room for the new year!

So, I've been taking some time off work the past couple weeks, to let my mind and body mend after the shock of losing Mom. I decided to use this time, in combination with some money I got for Christmas to get new carpet for the sewing room. I have been wanting carpet in there since before it became my sewing room in February 2007. I also wanted to get the carpet in this week so that I could clean out the sewing room and rearrange the furniture and give me a project for a couple days. So I went to the Carpet Outlet in Adrian, MI and looked for a remnant for less than $100. I found a lot of very nice things, some way out of my budget and some that were just close enough to work. So I picked out a nice off-white berber and we came back the next day with the truck to pick it up. I hadn't yet thought of how it was going to be installed, with what tools or who was going to do it. I just had to have carpet... it was going to happen.
So here is a before picture of the total mess that was my sewing room only two days ago.
Note the wood floors: pretty but cold and hard. Bella doesn't even like to stay in there with me during the day while I work.

Wednesday morning I got to work packing up the sewing room. Our house is fairly small, so I had to stack everything up on top of, around and under the dining room table. We had to disassemble my sewing table, and take the doors off the closet.

Then Ryan pulled up all the trim while I drove to the lumber yard to rent the tools. It was only $30 per day to rent the big power stretcher (that we may have broken) and the knee bumper.

When I got back I pounded all the nails out of the trim. It only took two nails before I asked, "How much would it cost to just buy new trim?" So I went to Lowe's.com and looked for our molding and got my answer. At least $80. That's more than we wanted to spend, so I went back to pounding the nails. Then all the holes needed to be filled, the whole thing needed to be sanded and then painted. (all things that never occurred to me when I was buying carpet)

Ryan was in the sewing room nailing down the tack strip and stapling down the padding, and I was in the dining room pounding nails out of the trim. Bella was under the dining room table looking very worried. That was a lot of noise, and she was already nervous about me moving all of my stuff out of the sewing room. She followed us with every trip to and from the sewing room to the dining room with arm loads of books and supplies. So as soon as we laid the carpet out in the sewing room, she planted herself on it. I think she really just wanted to help.

Except that Ryan was on the other side of the room trying to pull the carpet into the corner. Not so easy with a 30 pound fur ball sitting on the other end.

At about 10:00 last night, the carpet was pulled, pounded, stretched and we think, finally in place and the trim was freshly painted and nailed back onto the wall, closet doors were back up where they belong. So we assembled my table, and moved the rest of my stuff back in. Here it is!!! (it's still pretty messy and unorganized, but it will probably never be spotless and uncluttered)

And this is what a guy looks like after his first time ever laying carpet.

After only watching one or two videos on the This Old House website, and me saying, "I remember when my parents hired a guy to lay their carpet I saw him do this..." I'm sure that was very helpful, since I was probably 14 the last time my parents got new carpet. And I'm sure I was paying such close attention! Ryan did a great job. Never complained, never threw any tools, didn't break anything (except maybe the rented stretcher, but I think it can be fixed) and we only lost the carpet knife once; right before we needed it and found it after the room was finished. Naturally.

What a guy. I love that I can call him on the way home from the store and say, "I just bought carpet" and less than a week later, that carpet is in our house, perfectly installed and no one is mad at the other one.


The finished project of 2008

The only other things I didn't mention in my previous post, are the stuff that I have this blog for, the art stuff. I had one major project that I started in April and finished in... November. It was a big one though, so I guess 6 months or so isn't too bad.

I started with the leftover fabric that I dyed for the background of my X's quilt. I cut half of each color into 4.25 inch squares and then cut leaf shapes out of the other half of each color. I arranged the squares on my design wall and then fused them to the batting, with extra room all the way around.

My original idea was to have a leaf in each background square. So I pinned them all up, varying the color combinations.
That seemed pretty boring when I finally saw it all together. I liked, it, but it wasn't anything special. So I added some more leaves and moved some around, so it looked more "messy" and I was happy with it.

All of that only took two evenings to accomplish. The quilting was what took the most time. I used a tight satin stitch to sew the veins and stem on each leaf, and then did free motion quilting everywhere else. And the result is:
This is one of my favorite finished projects I've done. The colors are very soothing and I think the overall design is pleasing and has interesting focal points without being too realistic or representational. The only thing I could still do to it is clip all the threads on the back. Does anyone know if that is necessary if it were to be in a show? Do the judges look at the backs of the wall quilts?


The Ups and Downs of 2008

The year in review, since it has been that long since I've posted.

January 2008
Ryan has life threatening sinus infection. Needs emergency surgery. Has no health insurance.
Judge's score: 1
We qualify for Charity Care discount and get most of our bills covered at 90%
Score: 7.5

April 2008
April fools day, I make dinner that looks like poop in the grass, but is really meatloaf and rice.
Score: 9.8
My birthday: a wonderful two-day long celebration that included wine, yummy food and yarn.
Score: 10

I had a kidney stone.
Score: 2
I have health insurance and I took lots of vicodin and slept for two days
Score: 8
I passed the stone at home
Score: 6 (there's another stone waiting in there to wreak havoc another day)
May 2008
We find a family of baby birds in our back yard that are learning to fly
Score: 10
Bella finds family of baby birds in our backyard that are learning to fly
Score: 2

June 2008
Ryan has a sinus infection again. Goes to doctor for drugs and is told to go to the hospital for pre-op bloodwork.
Score: -4
We still qualify for Charity Care discount
Score: 8.5

July 2008
I get engaged! Ryan asks me to marry him on the two year anniversary of closing on our house! I say yes!
Score: 10
August 2008
I harvest the few vegetables that grew in my mostly weed covered garden
Score: 6
September 2008
Bella turns two
Score: 9
Bella is still a puppy
Score: 7
October 2008
My mom and I pick out and purchase my wedding dress
Score: 10 (no pictures, in case Ryan reads this)

Engagement photo session with my friend and Bridesmaid Kristy
Score: 10

We are goofy
Score: 8.5

It must have been the windiest day of the year
Score: 3.75

November 2008
Shannon comes home from Chicago for Thanksgiving and Dad's birthday. We go out bowling and to a very nice Seafood restaurant in Saline.
Score: 9 (not a 10 because Leah couldn't be there too)

December 2008
Shannon buys tickets for she and I to go to the Lyric Opera in Chicago to see Porgy and Bess. We spend 2 whole days together shopping, laughing and eating awesome food.
Score: 10
I ride the train both ways and DO NOT mis-read my ticket and DO catch both trains
Score: 10

Saturday the 20th. I spend the whole day, from 11am until almost midnight at my mom's house baking cookies, chatting and even threw in a trip to the new(ish) Plum Market in Ann Arbor.
Score: 9.9 (not a 10 because the day is just never long enough!)
Sunday the 21st. Ryan and I go bowling with his parents for his dad's birthday. I get a Turkey (that's THREE strikes in a row)! and my final score is 163! My best ever!
Score: 10
Tuesday the 23rd. Wake up and get the kitchen cleaned up and ready for a whole day of baking bread for Christmas presents.
10:48 Call Mom because my kitchen Aid mixer is acting up. No answer, wonder why.
11:19 Text Mom to tell her Ryan fixed my mixer. No response, think it's strange.
noon Call Mom at home. No answer, get worried.
1:45 Call Mom on her cell again. No answer, really really worried.
2 something. my cell phone rings, it's the Washtenaw County Police, calling from my Dad's cell phone. They identify themselves and ask for Ryan. I start shaking uncontrollably.

Deborah Candice Schuyler
October 7, 1956 to December 23, 2008
My mommy, my best friend.

The judge has no score for this one. I can barely put my thoughts together for this. I am just completely lost, discouraged, pissed, and just totally totally sad.

The rest of Tuesday was spent waiting for Shannon to get home from Chicago, a day earlier than planned, and for Leah to get here from Grand Rapids.

Wednesday was Christmas Eve, which we usually spend with Ryan's side of the family. I felt numb and ok enough to go with Ryan to that. It ended up being very nice to be there. I planted myself on his Mimi's couch next to my soon-to-be cousin Deanna (who recently married into the family and also lost her dad two years ago) and was able to participate in Christmas there and also zone-out when I needed to. I got a hug from every single person there and that felt great. After Mimi's party we went to Ryan's parents house for our gift exchanging. I got everything I asked for and more. And everyone else loved what we got them too.

Christmas morning we packed up all the gifts and Bella and drove to Chelsea for my family Christmas. My mom had finished her shopping on Monday and had everything wrapped. So we still had presents to open from her. We weren't sure what to do, if we should skip it, or just go on with our usual traditions. We decided we would open things slowly. Open a few gifts, then eat breakfast, open a few more and then lounge and watch a movie. We wanted it to last as long as possible.

The first gift I opened was a hand-knit teddy bear, wearing a tiny hand-knit scarf. We all started crying and decided it was time to stop and have breakfast. She knit me that bear and must have been so excited for me to open it on Christmas morning. She had told me a few weeks prior that her tree was up and decorated and there was only one gift under it, and it was for me. I'm sure that was the one.

We proceeded through the day; laughing, crying, eating what little we had the appetite for.

Friday was the visitation, Saturday the Service. SO many people said wonderful things about my Mommy. Shannon and I both wrote something to be read by Leah. She was the only one of us strong enough to stand up there and speak without crying. Every single person at the service cried. The men you thought never cried in their life were crying. My mom was beautiful, smart, a smart-ass, so creative and talented, an amazing mother, a natural care-giver. There is so much to say that I can't put into words.

So, Because I know she loved to read my blog, because once a week was not enough of a visit for her. 2009 will be the year I start blogging again. I WILL work on my own art. I WILL make time for everything and everyone. My mom NEVER said "no" or "I don't have time" or "I can't" to her girls. When I grow up, I want to be just like her. And because you can never say it enough: Love you Mommy!