Friday, July 29, 2011

Keep your sense of humor and wash your head in hot water

In my ongoing quest to use up some of the crap craft supplies that are spilling out of my closet, I Googled for a knitting pattern using Sirdar Escape yarn. This photo isn't the best example of the color, but it is the one most often shown for color 0187 called Ecstasy.
I bought two skeins of this yarn, probably two years ago and if I had intentions for it, I've lost tract of what they were. Two skeins wasn't going to get me very far and I did not want to make another scarf so I settled on this hat pattern.
I knew the design would probably be obscured by the color changes in the yarn, but I wanted to test drive the pattern anyway. I usually don't wear this style of hat well (translation: I look like a dork) but hope springs eternal that I will find THE hat pattern that fits, stays put (doesn't inch off my big noggin and spring off like a spent rubber band) and makes me look younger, thinner and richer. Hey, as long as I'm dreaming...

Non-knitters may not know the importance of testing your gauge. It is very important. If the pattern suggests you use size X needles with ABC yarn, it doesn't mean you can't use another brand or that size X needles will be correct for how you knit, especially if you've substituted yarn. The key to the gauge is where it tells you how many stitches and rows per inch your knitting must be in order for the knitted item to be true to size. If the pattern tells you that you need 4 stitches per inch and your sample has 5 stitches, that doesn't seem like much difference until you think that 80 stitches at 4 per inch will make your knitting 20" wide. Five stitches per inch at 80 stitches will only be 16" wide. If this were the case in a front and back of a sweater, your total measurement would only be 32" around instead of 40". Oops! Probably not an attractive fit!

My gauge was correct so I spent two nights watching TV and knitting. There was one error in the pattern, but it wasn't critical, just misleading. After every pattern row it gave a stitch count and in one case it was off. Getting past that, I was happily knitting along but thinking this wasn't going to be big enough when done. Further confirmation of this project's unlikely fit came on Wednesday night when the leader of the knitting group said "That's going to be a hat???".

Here is the finished hat, flat. See what I mean about the lacy pattern being lost in this yarn?
That wouldn't have mattered if the hat fit well. Pardon the quality of the next two photos. I took them using my cell phone and guessing at focus.
The pattern didn't give finished dimensions to the hat. If I had done the math (multiplying number of rows in the pattern by rows per inch in the gauge), I would have seen that the hat was just over 6 inches from center (crown) to the bottom of the ribbing. There is no way that hat would sit beret-like on most adult heads as shown in the photo. Maybe the person modeling the hat is a young girl and the pattern neglected to specify this is a child's hat.

Since I don't think washing my head in hot water will shrink it, this hat is going to a charming young friend in my knitting group who has trouble finding hats small enough to fit her properly. She won't have the lovely silver highlights in her hair that I do, but she isn't aged to perfection yet. Photobucket

Monday, July 25, 2011

Easy pillow case directions

In my post about the pillow cases (and not getting ahead) I forgot to mention the directions I used. The directions are here:  Roll it Up from the site All People Quilt site. It was easy to do and nice to have all raw edges finished.  A few years ago I made pillow cases for many kids using novelty prints tied into their hobbies and interests. They were cute but not as nicely finished as these.

I still haven't gotten back to sewing but I did start knitting a hat. Never mind that it is still hot and humid and that I look ridiculous in most knit hats.When the goddess of creativity tells you to knit a hat, you simply must listen to her!
The last time a knitter ignored her command, it got a little ugly. And chilly. 

No wonder I can't get ahead...

An object in motion (a woman sewing) tends to remain in motion (the sewer accomplishes much!) but an object at rest (not completely true, same woman didn't "rest" but did stop to clean up for company's arrival) remains at rest (or if not rest, she doesn't seem to get back to sewing). Photobucket

I was on a roll two weeks ago. I made a valance for the kitchen window at my son's house. I also made sheers to go on tension rods on narrow windows in his living room. Nothing much to see, both were plain white and were not photographed. Last year he teasingly complained about not being the baby in the family any longer. His nephew Colton gets all the attention now. True. And Uncle Billy has no room to talk on the subject of being wrapped around that little boy's finger. Photobucket After making a stuffed bear for Colton last year out of Minkee, a super soft, cuddly knit fabric, Billy said I should make pillows for him out of that. Minkee is so often a nursery fabric, finding it in other colors isn't always easy. I found both black and white online and ordered some months ago, right after Billy painted his room white with black and silver accents. After letting the fabric age on my sewing counter (what? fine cheese ages! fine wine ages! fine ole Knitty ages! why wouldn't fabric age?) I made him pillow cases last week. I didn't get good photos of the pillow cases on pillows, just draped over my rocker.
 As you can see by the lack of my presence in that photo, I was clearly off my rocker that day. This is usually the case but I blame it on the rocker not being very comfortable. That is my story, and I am sticking to it. 
The weekend came with a graduation party to attend on Saturday and company here on Sunday. I cleaned up the sewing room with every intention of getting back to project Sunday night or Monday morning at the latest. Since I didn't specify WHICH Sunday night/Monday morning, I guess I am still ok. For someone off her rocker.
But I digress. Don't I always? I used leftover Minkee from past projects to make two pillow cases for the Prince of Sweetness (aka Colton). The other pillow case is soft yellow with a white band.
Last week was hot. Make that HOT. And humid.  Even with air conditioning, everyone seemed to be moving at a slower pace. Other priorities prevented my return to sewing. Visitors from out of town caused me to actually put things away in the sewing room (as opposed to just straightening it up) and per usual, that room was not seen by our friends. You KNOW we would have wound up back there for some reason if the room was still semi-trashed.

I could have returned to sewing last night but we had a thunder storm that seemed like it was going to go on for hours. No sense plugging in my machine and getting it fried, right? I sat down to knit instead. I work socks from the toe to the cuff. I was almost ready to start the cuff but decided I really didn't like how the pattern looked with the yarn I used. I ripped the entire sock out. Don't gasp or groan. This doesn't bother me. If I had completed a pair, I wouldn't have worn them often. I will start again using a plain pattern so that the self-striping yarn doesn't compete with design stitches. This doesn't help whittle down my to-do list though. 

Heaven forbid I have only one craft interest and stick to it. While looking through patterns to find the sock directions that I want to use, I found something else that I want to knit. And another sewing idea is in my head right next to the ABC scrapbook that I want to make for Colton who is interested in letters thanks in part to a program called Super Why on Sprout and PBS television channels. Oh, and I have some painting to do and a bracelet to restring. 

Bill will probably want clean clothes and dinner a few times this week too. Is it any wonder I can't get ahead?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Maxine nails it again

Maxine says it best.  Whew!
Even with the air on, I think everyone is reacting to the heat.  We had cold and then wet weather for so long in Michigan this spring, we really wanted to be able to enjoy being outside this summer, having windows and doors open. Instead we've had the air on all week and are feeling penned in again. I shouldn't complain though. I remember what it was like before we had central air. I could cope (not without complaining of course) during the day, but not sleeping well at night takes a lot out of a person. If I was exhausted at 30-something, can you imagine how uncomfortable I would be at 30+ something? Photobucket

I hope everyone maintains power to their homes, remains cool enough to function, and retains their sense of humor.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Don't pass an elephant

Yesterday I mentioned both road rage and choosing humor. Today's post is a humorous look at road rage. Humorous if you're the elephant and not the driver of that car.

And remember to always wear your seat belts!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


A terrific blogger, Chatty Crone, wrote about finding happiness and humor in her life. Her entries are here and here.  Some of what she wrote struck the idle thoughts swimming around in my head, thoughts I was contemplating as a post but hadn't zeroed in on yet. Chatty drew the bullseye for me.
I truly believe we can and must choose happiness and humor in our lives. Why wouldn't we want to embrace these and other healthy attitudes? We make choices all day long. Coffee or iced tea? A walk after dinner or reading on the porch? Carry a grudge or move on?

I am not so good natured or thick skinned that I never feel snubbed or insulted, but the older I get, the less I choose to feel that way. I express surprise, dismay and maybe even anger to hubby or trusted close friends who know me well enough to recognize I am venting and usually letting go at the same time. If a close friend or relative does or says something hurtful, of course I feel that and it is worse than if a stranger does the same. We have expectations that those who are close to us value and protect our relationship and feelings. 

Those instances are vastly different from the person who cuts you off in traffic. Did they truly intend to be a jerk? Did they simply not realize what they were doing and are to make eye contact and mouth an apology? How did you react? Did you hit your horn, say something out loud or shake your head in wonder or disgust? I've done all of those things. I think those are normal reactions at that moment.

Haven't you known someone who carries that as a personal attack throughout the day, ready to tell anyone who will listen about the jerk who ruined their day? With each retelling of the event, the intensity of the attack grows. That jerk could have caused a collision! Could have made them late for work! Could have killed them!  Yes, all of that could have happened, but didn't. Let it go. Breathe. Be glad you were paying attention and prevented any harm. Whether that person was a jerk or just made a bad move, will this matter two hours or ten years from now? You can spend your day growling about that stupid driver but chances are, no matter what their motivation was, they have gotten on with their life and your mutterings aren't hurting them one bit. You are the one suffering because you are keeping the turmoil brewing.

A homeowner on our street was awakened by conversation and laughter of her neighbors across the street. Did she go over, call out the window or call them on the phone and say "hey guys, could you lower your voices a little? I'm trying to sleep and sound is really carrying tonight"? No she didn't. She didn't call the police to make a complaint either. This wasn't a party, just a few couples talking outside on a hot night in suburbia. What she did was go on Facebook the next morning and write paragraphs about what jerks her neighbors are and ended with the line that they should shut the f--k up. Wasn't that classy? It didn't quiet the neighbors who had no idea their voices were bothering her. To be that upset the next day and to express herself as she did doesn't show a fundamentally happy person, or one with any tolerance and most of all, one who doesn't handle a situation in a mature manner.

Comedian Ron White, part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, uses the tag line "You can't fix stupid". While I don't advise saying this to someone's face, sometimes you have accept this as true with people who repeatedly react inappropriately. Often you can choose to avoid them. If they are relatives or coworkers and therefore unavoidable, you need to remind yourself that who they are, what they do, and how think act does not define you.

Choose to smile and laugh a little.You'll feel better.

But if someone is really ticking you off, I could show you how to mold their likenesses in chocolate so that you can bite their head off. If that act of aggression doesn't help, the chocolate consumption surely will.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Read any marquees lately?

Are movies too explicit and violent, or is it just the marquees?

As infrequently as we go to the movies, I have no idea what pairings might line up unfortunately (or humorously) this weekend.

I'd love to see Harry Potter, but I think we'll wait for the newness to wear off. There are many rude people who talk or text throughout movies and that bugs us. The last two times we went to the show, we went late in the evening. Both times there were couples with infants, toddlers and children! Not only were the movies inappropriate for their ages, why weren't those kiddies in bed?

If you agree and want to enjoy the show amid quiet folks like us, we'll save seats for you. I'll be in the turquoise outfit with white trim, hubby will be wearing a lavender shirt with his good suit.   Photobucket

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Feelin' Good at the Clark Retirement Community

Here is the background story on the retirement center and the making of this clip: Click here

Don't you love seeing people having a good time?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hoorah for Photobucket Support!

Yesterday I lamented having computer issues again, this time a problem with Photobucket not showing any of my images and that I don't like the changes to Blogger.

First, about Photobucket (PB)  They are huge. I have free accounts with them. I did not expect to hear from them quickly, assuming a free account is low priority to them. I sent them an email Wednesday late afternoon and received a reply Friday afternoon with a suggestion and a few questions. Their first suggestion (clearing cookies and cache) did not help. I answered their questions on Friday and heard from them again this morning. They had more questions and asked for a screenshot so that they could see what I was seeing. They included directions on how to capture a screenshot in case I had not done that before.

I replied and was about to email a friend to say that I hope some progress would be made when I got another email from them. Was it possible that I had told Firefox to block images from PB? My reaction was to say of course not....but that is exactly what had happened! A simple flip of a switch from Block to Allow and all was well again in my little world! Photobucket

I thanked them profusely, offering roses, chocolate or cash but warned them that cash would look suspiciously like Monopoly money. I got another instant response! The appreciated my humor, were glad all was well again and said that this sometimes happens with Firefox because an accidental right click during some operations will send a block message.

It says a lot about customer support these days that I am so excited to give you positive feedback from my PB experience, but there it is. We all have ugly stories of dealing with support teams that are anything but supportive.

Now about Blogger. I've heard from more than a few Blogger users that they haven't noticed any changes.  This is what my screen looks like when I choose New Post. I don't have a photo of the old view, but it was quite different from this.
Is this going to ruin my day? No, but it did startle me coming in conjunction with the PB problem. It might be just me, but I felt that I could arrange photos more easily with the old Blogger, the one from before the new template designs were given to us. Now if I want three small photos to appear in a horizontal row, I have to put them into a graphics program that does that.

I am still running XP as my operating system so Live Writer isn't an option for me. I can't justify changing systems just to support my blogging habit...not yet anyway. Photobucket

Friday, July 8, 2011

Am I a curmudgeon?

Am I becoming a cantankerous, surly, difficult grouch? 

I hope not. For those of you using Blogger, do you like the changes? This is my first post since the change so I can't address usability yet, but I don't like the looks of the dashboard or new post screens.

This is hitting me at a bad time as I am having problems with Photobucket. My computer tech thinks the problem is at their end and I suspect Photobucket is going to say it is my computer. I won't bore you with the details but it is frustrating me. A lot.

I have friends with serious problems so this is silly of me. Maybe not being able to alleviate worries and cure their ills is the thorn that is causing my Photobucket problems to fester.

I would like to hear how others feel about the changes in Blogger and if you switched from Blogger to Wordpress or another format, how did you choose your new home and what do you miss about Blogger? As much as I like to make surface changes which I equate to moving furniture and home decor around, actual packing up and moving isn't something I do willingly.

The rest of my life is good, very good, but the blogging part of me is in a funk.

Please send advice.

Or chocolate.

Or both.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!


I know it may not be Independence Day for everyone, but I think the few readers I have in other countries can relate as they have special national holidays as well. 

It is an odd year for us as we've done most of our celebrating already. My city's fireworks were a week ago and we had our family meal on Saturday as the kids had other places to be today. I don't mind that this will be a quiet, unscheduled day, it gives me time to reflect.

Without corn to husk, watermelon to carve, beans to bake, potato or macaroni salad to prepare, sparklers to supervise, runs between kitchen and grill (we all know male grill masters don't do their own running)Photobucket and not a ton of pans to soak and dishes to wash, I may truly be experiencing a personal Independence Day!