Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring Cleaning the Blog

I want to write more about my love affair with baseball, and had planned on posting that today. I'm changing my plan, though. That will come on Monday instead.

This weekend, when I'm not out gardening or running errands or going to a HS musical, I am completely and totally reorganizing my BlogLines. Forget organizing it by functions and BlogHer. There are folks that post almost every day and I read them as soon as they post (if I can find them). I need them together.

So I am going to be spring cleaning the blog. Deciding what I need on the side bar and what just doesn't work anymore. Maybe moving the furniture?

Any suggestions you'd like to make?

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Friday, March 30, 2007

Baseball As Metaphor

I became fascinated with baseball in elementary school, maybe fifth or sixth grade. It is that awkward age when you are both fascinated with strangely morbid things and learning about Life's code of behavior. While I listened to a Cleveland Indians game on the radio, an opponent hit a lazy fly ball to short center field. The second baseman raced out to catch it while the center fielder raced in. Neither heard the other call for the ball.

The collision was bone crushing. Both bodies collapsed unconscious in the grass of short center field. While they lay there motionless, the batter circled the bases for a home run. I was shocked. It wasn't fair!!

The reporter explained the rules of the game: the ball was still in play, the runner was allowed to run. The fielders had to race to get the ball back to the infield and end the play before medical help could come. It was the rule.

In our everyday life similar things happen every day: we lose a loved one yet LIFE goes on. It seems shocking and abnormal that we can barely take a breath yet others eat, drive, sing, laugh, continue running their bases.

It's Life and Baseball.

That's when I started paying attention to game. I borrowed an unused radio and sat in my room listening at they called games. I absorbed the details, the rules, the whys and wherefores. Baseball became my metaphor for living: prepare, work hard, don't show off, shake hands with the opponent at the end. Celebrate the good, punish the bad. Know that nobody hits 1.000.

Do you love baseball? Since Opening Day is Sunday, would you please share your story??

(Baseball As Metaphor: Part Two coming. Baseball is the story of Life).

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Random Acts of Living

Jana has given us another chance to share our lives a bit with you with her Getting to Know You Questions for CAC. This week is filled with Random Acts of Living...

1. What did you eat last? Since I shouldn't count the cuppa coffee that I'm currently sipping, and I haven't had breakfast yet, the last thing I ate was one cup of frozen wild blueberries with 1/4 cup of silk unsweetened soymilk poured over them. If you stir it a bit, it's almost like a sorbet.

2. What is it like where you live? I live in a California Colonial in the SF East Bay. Our house is on a court with open space behind us.. and great views. It's also in true suburban hell.

3. What are YOUR favorite features about yourself? My smile and my eyes.

4. What deep thoughts have YOU been pondering upon? I would love to be able to encourage more people with some creative talent to own it, admit it, and let the world share it.

5. List 2 random things you love about life:

-I love watching hawks soar,
-there isn't anything better than a perfectly seasoned and broiled lamp chop with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus with a glass of stout.

6. How did YOU find out about CAC? It was mentioned on Deb Richardson's blog, and then at Melba's.

7. What do YOU love most about spring? BASEBALL!! I love baseball. And the real games begin this weekend. I must plan on going to some games this year. Wanna come, too??

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Better Than I Could Have Planned

Stone Angel. Sidewalk Series #2.

I mentioned on my other blog that one of goals for this week was to invite 2 specific friends out to lunch today. I had a feeling deep in my bones that we all needed it.

When I realized my phone was broken and I would have to go down to Energyville to get it fixed, I thought so much for lunch with gals. Monday evening we were all together for Pickles, and I mentioned it to one of them. Apologizing (though she didn't know I was planning on this invite, so why was I apologizing??)...

Turns out, however, that she needed to head to Energyville, too, to the store right next door to my Verizon tech support shop!! We made tentative plans!! I woke up happy and excited.

Success!! We three Amigas left to wander down the bay about noon. We successful ran our necessary errands, then found a perfect place for lunch: PF Changs.

Yummity. Sorry, no photos.

We shared: Lettuce wraps with garlicky chicken and veggies. Moo Shu Chicken. Szechwan Green Beans. Steamed rice (both brown and white), and a truly delicious pot of tea. Talk. Laugh. Meaning of Life.

When the fortune cookies came, mine read: Your friends will be impressed with your generosity. I knew exactly what it meant. I picked up the bill.

We couldn't be that close to StoneMountain and Daughter without stopping in. Besides, I needed some fabric to finish off that blue skirt I cut on Saturday. They didn't have anymore. But they did have a nice Japanese cotton that almost exactly matches one of the colors, the weight and the hand. I picked up 2/3rds of a yard, and should be cutting and sewing on Wednesday.

So my plan was to simply these gals for a nice easy lunch somewhere. Instead we got a short road trip, a great chance to visit, and some time away from our every-day activities. We all got home refreshed and ready to deal with our lives.

It turned out better than I could have planned.

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions for a truly goofy meme.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A gratitude test. Let's make it a meme.

My gal Mata has posted an exercise for gratitude on BlogHer the other afternoon. These exercises are hard for me; I always stumble on finding thing to be grateful for. But if there is a positive payoff in going through the moves, I could use the help.

But the point is, gratitude is essential. There is no perspective without it. Try it. Right now. Despite how foolish it may or may not feel to you. Here is what I suggest:

1. Sense how you are feeling for a few seconds. Don't judge it, just feel it.

2. Write down 10 things for which you are thankful. They can be large or small. But there MUST be 10. If it is hard, there still must be 10.

3. Write down 2 more.

4. Read your list and take a breath.

5. Check in again about how you feel -- any subtle changes? Pay attention through the day. Let yourself linger over the list in your mind once or twice. Let it change the edges of things.

1. I feel a little tired still, (it's first thing in the morning). The familiar small ball of panic is sitting above my stomach bouncing in time to my pulse. There is tension in the back of my arms and neck, a slight ache moving up my skull. Tightness in the small of my back. I "feel" a little on edge.

Things I'm thankful for (I suck at this)
  1. the joy Katy my lab expresses whenever I return home. massive puppy wiggling ensues.
  2. my laptop and the internet.
  3. breezes
  4. the smell of laundry dried on the line in the sun.
  5. sunrises and sunsets
  6. coffee
  7. sliding under cold sheets at night, and having them gently warm by my body temperature.
  8. sleep
  9. vanilla mangoes in season.
  10. the sense of "centeredness" that sometimes comes through movement.
  11. people who are there for me.
  12. clean and readily available water.
Deep breath.... I'm getting calmer in the middle of that noise and wariness. (or is that the coffee kicking in?) Ok. I can think about this throughout the day and see if it changes anything.

How about you? Brave enough to give it a try? Consider yourselves tagged.

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions today where I model my new jeans!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Virtual Retreat, End of Day One

Lantern and Shrubbery. Part of Sidewalk Series #2.

Saturday Evening.

My retreat goal is to sew up a few skirts this weekend. At the end of day one, it looks like I may only get one or two done over the weekend, but I should have a good start to continue through the week and get more done.

Friday evening I gave myself a long facial, though to the outside world it might have looked like I was cleaning the steam vents on my iron. I filled the tank five times with water and/or vinegar and let it all steam through the jets. The amazing quantity of brown sticky gunk running out the vent holes was shocking. Even so, today while sewing I still got some fine brown spit on the skirt.

Anyone know what sticky brown crud could be and where it came from? simply from using tap water? I steamed, I rinsed, I used a small brush to scrub out the vent holes. The gunk is IN the iron. It might be time to consider a new one??

Anyway, after trying to clean the iron I pressed all the fabrics and the pattern pieces. However, I needed light to copy the pieces so that it was for Friday night.

I began working Saturday about 9 am. Taped the pattern onto my light box (ie. the sliding patio door) and traced the pieces onto freezer paper. Then adjusted the size of the pattern pieces for my somewhat shorter stature. Also, by shortening it a bit, I had enough of the pink/green fabric. Four inches longer all around, and I would have come up short.

I started cutting out the blue and white Ikat; OOPPS. Even shortened, not enough fabric to cut everything out. I put is aside. That was about 11 am.

I laid out the pink/green and carefully measured out the pieces before I began cutting this one. When I was certain that everything would work, I cut.

Measure Twice, Cut Once! So brilliant someone should that as a motto!

Spent the rest of the day in production mode, seaming, stitching, pressing, etc. It took me until 7 pm to get the skirt put together. Tomorrow morning I have the waistband to do. Then I'm going to try and figure out how to smoothly hem this. (the pattern directions are so helpful: turn the hem up 1/4" twice and stitch.) No clue about how to even up the edges. Sigh.

What happens after that? We'll see.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Skirt Potentials....

So this weekend is the Virtual Retreat with a couple of my friends. Instead of working on any quilts, I will be working on making some skirts for the summertime. I have a 2 week cruise on the Med to get ready for... and a long weekend in Chicago the end of the July.

My mantra for summertime: look dressed while feeling naked.

Skirts do that for me a lot.

I'll be starting with the tulip skirt I showed a couple days ago, but probably going on to another pattern after I get the first few under my belt, so to speak.

Now the potential skirt fabrics

This Navy, Gray and White Ikat is a perfect fabric for summertime, and just what was called for in the skirt pattern. Picked it up at StoneMountain and Daughter a couple months ago.

I was completely unsure about using this plaid, until my friend Roberta "draped" it as a skirt. It will go with almost every t-shirt and tank I own, and it looks fine. This is probably going to be the second skirt I work on. Where did I get this fine fabric? My friend Linda gave me this just before she died.
This is a fine lineny fabric that I found at JoAnne's (of all places!) It's got all the colors I normally wear, it's light and so pretty!
Well, look at the closeup below.. isn't this pretty?? (OK, it need to be ironed!!)
This stripe is another StoneMountain find. It didn't photograph as nicely as it looks in person. There is a small gold thread running through it. It will be a great casual skirt (maybe another pattern??)
What a dreadful photo! It's a black and white check.. mostly white. These just don't photograph well. A rayon that is light and breezy and will float over hips and legs on humid days. I have a feeling it will be a bit of a pain to lay out and cut, so it will be my last project, in case I need to get help.

Check out BlogHer where I wrote: Why Blog With No Comments? Knitters Tangle On The Conversation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Anchors Away!

Why just go on a trip, when you can go on a trip and indulge one of your favorite activities at the same time? Combining hobbies or interests with cruises or foreign travel is a growing segment of the overall travel industry.

Barbara Spohn and Michele Morton have developed a travel business that concentrates on the "interest" segment called Travelling Together. Their trips appeal to those interested in knitting, quilting, needlepoint, embroidery or gardening.

Which hobby would you like to indulge while travelling this year?


Janel at beebonnet report has organized a knitting cruise of Alaska's Inner Passage with two great teachers. Cookie A. from Knitter's Anonymous will help you learn to design your own sock patterns, while Stephanie Gausted will be teaching spinning! Departure is August 25th for the 7 day cruise.

Prefer a different Princess?? Stitch Divas depart on September 8th for a 10 day Inner Passage Cruise with Jennifer Hansen and Tina Whitmore.

Beth Collins, owner of UniqueOne yarn shop in Camden, Maine, will be on board The Isaac Evans again this summer to provide informal knitting or crochet instruction. Because of the popularity of this trip, the September cruise has been expanded to 4 days and a second cruise in June has been added. (hurry there is only berth available).

Quilting Trips:

The American Quilter's Society is offering a 10 day "Batiking in Bali" adventure, which allows the participants to see Balinese batiks being (b)manufactured. is offering 6 unique quilting trips over the next two years while Sew Many Places has 10 cruises lined up so far! Choose your destination and have fun!

Pat Dalton offers to take you to China for an in-depth look at the art of Chinese embroidery, history, and the Chinese culture.

If all this isn't enough, Deb Richardson decided she wanted to go on a winter cruise and invite as many bloggers as could afford it to come join her! An artsy-bloggy cruise-fest!!

While researching this story, I found a delightful story written by Dominique Gaherty about the Windjammer annual knitting cruise. Makes me want to grab my life preserver and hit the water!

This blogpost, crossposted at BlogHer

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

CAC: You, Me and Creativity

Photo: Bye, Bye Jeans. These have gotten too big on my (I have gotten too small for them?), so they are on their way out the door. If I were to continue to wear them, I'd have to have fantastic undies.. they keep sliding down way too low. OMG...I'd be following a fad! Would those undies HAVE to be thongs?

On to more dignified things:

It's "Getting To Know You" Time again at CAC. I haven't done it for a couple weeks because I found the questions hard to deal with. Whatever. This month is hosted by Jana, and they look quite "do-able".

Let's get started!

YOU choose what to tell me:

List 3 random facts about you, that we will be entertained by:

  1. I usually find it easy to program electronics (vcrs, dvrs, clocks, etc.). Often can do it without the manual.
  2. My first car was haunted. The ghost stayed in the back seat and always appreciated when I'd offer it some of my late-night drive through food. Never ate anything, though, that I could tell.
  3. If I am activiely listening to something (a movie, a baseball game) while stitching (knitting, sewing), and I later need to undo the stitching, as I undo it, I can "hear" whatever I was listening to while I made it.

List 2 things about you, that are important for us to know:

  1. I am blind as a bat without my glasses. (out 7 diopters).
  2. I am a bit of a klutz (but getting better??).

ME! My turn to ask questions!

1. Do you like board games? What are some favorites?

I LOVE board games!! But I don't have anyone to play them with. My favorite games are Clue, Monopoly and Scrabble. LIFE and Risk (is that the conquer the world game?) Not so much. Does someone wish to organize a board game night?? Please??

2. What are your non-artistic hobbies?

Walking, gardening, watching baseball games. I'd love to travel more.

Do you collect anything?

Not anymore. I used to collect boxes and useful items shaped like pigs. As a child, I collected Japanese dolls. I'd like to collect more raku pottery.

And now, our Creativity:

What types of art do you enjoy creating the most?

While most people know me as a fiber artist, at the moment I'm spending more time taking photographs. I will come back to fiber, probably using the photography as an element.

Do you have a type of art that you've always wanted to try, but never done?

I really would love to learn how to draw. And I want to take a class in silk screening. There are times when I think I'd like to take a dance class, but I'd never feel right trying to express myself in dance.

Do you have any art "how to" sites that you would recommend to us? What are they?

Yes, I have lots, but I'll share only a few:
The Artist's Toolkit
Art, Design and Visual Thinking
The Stitch Index from the Embroiderer's Guild.
The NGA Art Zone

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions where something interesting happened at the gym.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Answers

photo: western redbud and Japanese lantern. A new entry in my Sidewalk Series.

For all of you who (thank you ) took the little quiz on Sunday. I quite understand not wishing to fill out a registrations form for the site just to get your answers posted.

So, incase you were curious about the answers:

1. I grew up in the greater Cleveland area.

2. I have been a crafter as along as I remember.

3. My favorite sport is baseball. (you may celebrate Easter in a couple weeks, I'll be celebrating Opening Day!).

4. I prefer reading mysteries and sci-fi. Just received a preview copy of Laura Lippman's "What the Dead Know" to read and review. Stay tuned.

5. Give me Old Fashioned Rock And Roll. Heck, even new fashioned R&R.

6. If we're going out for a bite, I'll never say no to Thai. The other three choices: fast food, Mexican and pasta, I'll probably pass on every time.

This weekend some of my friends are holding another virtual quilt retreat. From Friday evening (optional) through Sunday afternoon we will be sewing in our own studios. I have a large selection of 2-3 yard pieces, and will sewing myself some of these trumpet skirts for summertime.
For the virtual retreat, I'll uploading my photos as a Flickr Set if you'd like to follow along. Remember, if you find the photo on the set page too small to see to see the details, each photo can be clicked on to see it larger and with more details.

Later today I'll photograph the potential fabrics...

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Quizzy Sunday...

Quiz courtesy of Dr. Trillwing...

Click on the "click here" phrase in the box below.. and let's see how you know me. I tried to make it easy; you should be able to do this if you only read my blog and don't know me in person.

Create your own Friend Quiz here

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Knitting Life Together: The Power of the Blog

August 19, 2005

Eunny Jang began her knitting blog with this post:

This is Just to Say...

I have started
a new kntting blog
that will clog
the internet

and which
you were probably
not in the least
desirous of.

Forgive me
it was irresistable
so cheap
and so self-promoting.

Oh, Eunny, little did we all know!

In the year and half since that time, you have designed and shared mittens, socks, and shawls. Published your own patterns and submitted patterns to knitting publications.

You have published helpful instructions to dye self-striping yarn, a 7 part chronicle on steeking (take a deep breath... steeking is cutting through knitting!!), and a 4 part discussion on knitting lace.

You have completed 24 items, 11 of which were original designs.

You have become a contributor to Interweave Knits.

And what do you get for your labor?? Sometimes, you get your just reward!!

Reading the press release announcing her new job, it is obvious that her blog was an influencing factor in Interweave hiring her:

“Eunny Jang is the perfect match to be the new editor of Knits.... She totally understands Interweave’s sensibility and aesthetic, and she has incredible respect in the knitting community among designers, enthusiasts, and a new generation of knitters who are active online.(emphasis by author)

(further)Ms. Jang, who has been a knitter since age 4, is the author behind the popular blog See Eunny Knit, which since its inception in 2005 has been a must-read for online knitting enthusiasts, averaging 10,000 unique visitors per day.
Congratulations, Eunny! Good luck at your new endeavor.

crossposted at BlogHer

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Off

I took the day off from much work today, choosing instead to feed my spirit. Yesterday I invited my friend Janice to join us on a park walk. This morning we headed off to Pt. Pinole (one of my very favorite parks in the area) with Katy, Jake and Janice's wild-furchild, Woody. While the two of us walked and visited, Katy nicely walked along keeping up with us gals. The two wild boys ran and chased balls and needed leashes to restrain them from swimming in forbidden waters.

On the way home, we stopped at a small Mexican market to look for green plantains and vanilla mangoes. I had success with the mangoes (joy!), but no joy with the plantains.

This afternoon I am going through my closet trying on all my clothes. If something fits (really fits), I'm keeping it. If it's just a little tight, I'll keep it because I'll be fitting in soon. If it's too big.. guess what? In a bag for Goodwill right now! I am not going to give myself permission to slide back into these things. Fortunately, I have about the smallest wardrobe of anyone I know. (4 jeans, 15 or so t-shirts, a couple dresses).. so it won't take long.

As a reward.. I may even allow myself some relaxing time in the jacuzzi or sit reading on my back porch swing.

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spotlighting An Artist

Have you seen the work of Ashley Cecil, who blogs at The Painting Journalist? Ashley is a Kentucky artist who researches topics in social activism then creates painting that reflect or represent some aspect of each concern. When these paintings are sold, a portion of the proceeds are returned to the organization originally researched.

As she says on her "About" page:
I’m addressing philanthropic issues utilizing painting as my medium of communication. Much like a photojournalist, I travel to locations/events of cultural interest and capture them, only with my brush. My talent is as an artist, my passion is advocating for social change; this is how the two work together.
Recently, Ashley has been blogging about her trip to Venezuala, where she admitted:
The best possible approach I’ve come up with thus far for reporting on what I was exposed to in Venezuela is to simply play storyteller. I’m absolutely overwhelmed. I left for Caracas concerned that I was stretching the truth with my coverall statement, “It’s perfectly safe. I’ve done my homework.” Friends leaning left were eager for a report back, and some friends leaning right seemed insulted that I was even going.

I’ve come back to Kentucky in a dumb-founded state of culture shock, and possibly more unsure on where I stand on political theory.
You can check all her available paintings in her gallery.

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fly-by and Feed Me...

Today was one of those days; nothing but errands and searching for distractions. I'm avoiding. Can't quite figure out what exactly I'm avoiding.

I drove out early this morning for a "cold supply" stop at the drug store before my trip to the gym. Home for lunch and a quick check online: please feed my mind something. please someone try to connect with me...

Off to a doctor's appointment (1 hour wait to see him), stop at the pharmacy (20 minute wait to drop off the rx and be told to wait 1.5 hours more for it to be filled). Nah. Home. And another quick check for something, anything, online to distract me, to fill an hour, to make me feel not so alone. Nothing out there for that today.

Get the dogs a short walk, stop and exchange tanks of propane and it's time to start thinking about supper. The whole day gone.

I feel the isolation today, the emptiness, the what???

I hope tomorrow is better.
Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shout outs!

This weekend for some strange reason, I've been checking my SiteMeter stats. I do this only occasionally, become obsessed for a couple of days, then forget that I can do it at all. So little time, so many distractions.


A shout out for whomever regularly stops by for a second from Hayward! Howdy southern neighbor. Why don't you introduce yourself? We can have a cuppa sometime.

I've also had recent neighborly visitors from Oakland, Walnut Creek, Stanford and San Jose. I can guess the identity of a couple of you (Hi Sally and Jane), but not the others (well, one I have an unlikely guess...) Like I said, say howdy!! Let's do lunch!!

The foreign visitors are intriguing:

Lochristi, Oost-Vlaanderen (that's in Belgium) who found me by an unknown method.
Ankar, Turkey searching on the term: a stitch in time.
Moscow, Russia who found me from Virginia Speigel's fund raiser.
Taizhou, Jiangsu China. unknown what brought them to me.
Brataslava, Slovakia. I distant relative? My paternal grandmother was born near there.
Sarajavo, Bosnia and Hertzegovina Sadly, looking for "straight line stitch lyric" on Google.

I've had visitors from 16 countries!! Little ole me!

OH my goodness!!! Steph, the Yarn Harlot may have stopped by!!

Well, several of her readers have clicked in from a comment I left there this past week.

Darn, I wish I'd known.. I'd have prettied the place up and maybe shown you some knitting!
If you don't normally read her, and missed her week of home renovation, go read it now.

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions
for this week's Tale of the Scale.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday Sundries (3/11)

Sundry #1: Are you familiar with INHALE? It's a yoga program that Oxygen broadcasts each weekday morning at 6 am. I often tune it in (even when I don't actually do it). Good music and gentle way to wake up.

But now I can actually do most of the moves again. (isn't it remarkable when surgery actually works and restores something you've lost??)

There is one of their participants with whom I identify the most skill-wise; he's a tall slightly pudgy black dude with balance issues who doesn't get enough air time. Instead they show all these incredibly competent practitioners whose balance and flexibility make me feel even klutzier.

Anyway, a week or so ago they were playing the exact same episode every day. I think the dialogue memorized. Thank goodness they started rotating through the shows again, or I was going to have to stop.

Sundry #2: It's disheartening to spend hours working on a post, to edit it, spell-check it, re-write it several times, publish it and then find 2 more typos. I want to pretend that the typos are part of the charm of blogging, but I can't.

Sundry #3: I appear to have caught a spring cold. The power of Zicam seems to be making it a short one.

Sundry #4: Saturday I watched 7 buzzards soaring up the small valley behind my house. They came from nowhere, organized, flew in perfect spirals, then broke apart, returning to nowhere.

Sundry #5: I don't know why.. but I am so happy that Daylight Savings Time is back! To celebrate I slept for almost 7 hours straight!

Sundry #6: I just finished reading Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck. Good book, fast read. I recommend it. However, I don't feel bad about my neck. My jowls, however, are another story.

Now I'm reading The Time Traveler's Wife. Quite a different book. It tells the story of a couple when the woman lives in normal time, and the husband has a genetic condition that pulls his body in and out of time. So far it's charming and different enough that I pay attention to the details.

How can you choose to love someone who is constantly disappearing? when you don't know when they will appear again? Or be able to love someone when you never know which person you will see from moment to the next?

Sundry #7: While I was an early fan of Project Runway and will still watch Top Chef, I have given up on Top Designer. It had potential; but Todd Oldham is no Tim Gunn, nor even a Tom Collichio. I think we've all come to realize that the personality of the host/ess is an important factor.

The show just seems dull, dull, dull.

A new season of Project Runway cannot come soon enough!!

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Craft Talk

(originally published at BlogHer).

Spring is slowly moving northward, meaning time spent outdoors walking in the parks, working in the gardens, and maybe catching some rec-baseball games. What better thing to keep me company than a selection from the skilled women who produce Crafty PodCasts.

A run-through of those podcasts still bringing the goods:


Annie Smith is still doing Quilting Stash, and Elle is asking those who care to become art quilt ambassadors at Sew Chick.


Guido is a Boston guy with fiber issues and a great podcast!

Christa Knits is updated about once a month.

Let's Knit2gether is the first vcast for knitters. Watch Cat spin.

The Mosh Knitter is a young punk knitter in San Francisco.

Lime and Violet
are hysterical.

The Knitting Cook talks about all things fiber and includes a new recipe with each episode.

Unwound talks about all things fiber (knitting and crochet)


CrochetCast is new and improved with a co-host!!.


Craft Borg. Resistance is truly futile.

CraftCast with Alison Lee is in it's second year!!

One of my personal favorites: CraftSanity.

CraftyPod has a new home, but the same great shows!


Material Mama reviews patterns, talks about inspiration and covers all things sewing.

There were a number of other podcasts that I would follow that have stopped producing. And yes, Alex Anderson has a podcast but they don't see fit to include an RSS feed. (subscribing to it on ITunes is the only way to learn of updates). I didn't particularly like the couple episodes I listened to.

So is there anyone else out there who I should have on this list??

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Friday, March 09, 2007


Tree. Taken during a walk at a new park in the area. Ya think my current visual obsession is gnarly trees??

First, thanks for all the great things you've said about the silk screen and the back story. Comments, gotta love 'em!

Yes, Rayna, I acknowledge that a thermofax screen of this would show more detail and be a stronger image. Still I don't own one and hate like hell to ask/pay others to make these for me. It's my stubborn independent streak. The resist method I can do on my own.

And to address part of what was yours (I think) and Gerrie's comment: the time involved. I liked the time spent working on this! Think of it as "slow-creating" ... like slow-cooking. It is a process that clearly puts the hand of the artist in the work. I actually think I will keep this as a technique and grow to cherish the time spent on this.

OK, Rayna may expand my thinking at our class next month. Can you believe it?? I get to spend 4 days with Rayna and Gerrie and others just next month!!

Next, I must say that I am every so happy to have baseball games available to listen to again. Spring training games, granted, but I dearly love to listen/watch my baseball games. Later today I am checking out the day games scheduled for the As, and intend to get back to seeing games live this year. (yeah, I could go to Giants games, too. Except I won't buy a ticket there until Bonds isn't with the team. Now if someone gave me a ticket to join them...)

Now on to the important stuff! Namely my March Horrorscope!

I have been actually living the horoscopes at Crazy Aunt Purl this year:

January: Imagine the future, don't relive the past.
February: Do not hide your head in the sand.

So what did Laurie come up with for us crabby crabs in March??
We Cancers tend to want love and affection and adoration, so we often substitute closeness and proximity and ... well, it's a poor substitute. I think the trick may be that in your friendships, your relationships, even with your family you give yourself some room and space to breathe.

All ya'll! Cancer, I know how you can be. Take the time away to be still and breathe and let a little air into your life.
Now my committed intention for this year is to increase my face time with folks in real life. So how do I accomplish that while "letting a little air into my life"??
  • Invite other people to come walk the dogs with me?? You know you're invited!
  • Work on quality alone time instead of just quantity alone time? (like actually spend it making some art?)
  • Interpret that "air time" more like "artist date" time??
Or did she mean to not settle for proximity when I yearn for adoration? To give myself time and space to get what I truly yearn for? To be able to name it??

I'm open to all interpretations.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Back Story

When you're doodling away, killing time, what do you doodle? Do you have images that you repeat over and over? I do:
  • a left eye
  • an apple (shading practice)
  • a derby hat (shading)
  • a specific nature scene.
While the first three items might be grist for psycho-analysis, the item that is important today is the last one. The nature scene.

Since I was quite small I've been compelled to draw this scene:

A gently sloping hill with a wide, gnarly tree growing just down to the right. If I added more detail, there would be a broken down fence to the left on the hill. And occasionally I'd put a house at the bottom of the hill with a different kind of tree in front. (my normal scribble tree.)

Hey, I scribbled this in about 1 minute.. do not diss my doodle skills!! OK, diss them. This still looks like a kindergartner drew it.

Anyway, the point. This is NOT a scene that would see living in Cleveland. Since the land was scraped and formed by the glaciers, the hills (such as they are) are sandstone cliffs eroded by water run-off. The land is oak/maple climax forest; the only spot where one will find a single tree is in a front or back yard. Uncleared forest yields a tree at least every square yard. And broken wandering fences? Nope.

So all my life I was compelled to draw what I believed was a completely imaginary scene. A scene I could not change.

"Let's change the shape of the hill." Couldn't. The pencil/pen wouldn't move.
"Let's change the shape or location of the tree." Couldn't. It had to be where it had to be.
"Well, let's put the house up on the hill with the tree." Again. Couldn't do it.

I had an imaginary scene that I could not alter. I grew to accept that.

Nine years ago last month we moved to California. I flew in on Sunday, the mover showed on Monday, Tuesday the spouser flew out of town for the rest of the week leaving me to unpack.

By Wednesday, I was finally beginning to adjust to the time change and the demands/stress/distractions were clearing enough that I could see beyond the tip of my nose. I slept until sunrise, walked down stairs, poured my first cuppa coffee. Then turned around to look out my back windows. And saw:

My doodle come to life.

That was the very moment when I knew in my bones that our move was part of my personal destiny. I could breathe again.

Since that time I do not compulsive doodle the scene. Nothing has replaced it as a hint toward my future, either. But when I need to calm and center myself, I will look here. So, having a bad day two weeks ago, I knew the image I had to use in making my silk screen.

PS. We do live in a 2 story house (though it resembles the doodle not at all).. and we do have a more traditional tree in that location: a sycamore. But our house is across a valley from the scene, not at the bottom of the hill.

And that's the back story. What back stories do your personal images have??

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Invitation To A Screening

Pre-amble(or what we already know): When last we left this story, I was having a bad day that left me grumpy and edgy. I was prowling the house hoping to find an activity on which to focus so I wouldn't give in to the impulse to punch a wall, when I recalled my unused SpeedBall ScreenPrinting kit.

ACT ONE: The Beginning

Using the photo above as inspiration, I applied a "litho" special effect to create a black and white image, which I adjusted to print at 8x11" and printed the inspiration piece.

Following the directions, I placed this print underneath the framed blank screen, grabbed a soft lead drawing pencil (8B) and began tracing the print onto the screen.

Note to self and readers: Start with a simpler design like an andrinka symbol. I spent too much time tracing fine lines, then not being able to determine positive space from negative. Which lead to much obsessive behavior in attempts to clarify the picture. It could have been avoided.

I'm just saying.

This step was best done on a good light day (because of the detail) of which there have not been many. It took nearly a week to finish.

ACT TWO: Drawn Into The Act
After the image was traced onto the screen, the screen needed all the positive space (what she wanted to print) covered with drawing fluid.

Drawing fluid is a thin bright blue resist. I found it best to apply using stiff small paint brushes. (The 10/0 Loew Cornell FabSpotter, which previously has been considered worthless, was a fabulous way of adding fine lines). Most of the work was done with a liner brush and the larger areas filled with a flat.

While painting in the drawing fluid, occasionally lift your screen and check the coverage. If the blue image fades or disappears, re-apply some fluid to increase the coverage.

If you accidentally drip drawing fluid all over the screen, you can carefully remove it. Wet your brush with cold water and gently wash over the mistakes. A paper towel on the opposite side will help to soak up the thinned fluid and wick it away. Don't ask how I know this.. trust that I know it works.

When completed your image should be similar in appearance to the drawn and filled screen above. Set it aside (overnight) to dry, making sure that the screen material is not touching any surface. Use soup cans or thread cones or get creative.

ACT THREE: Fill 'er Up
When your drawn screen is thoroughly dried, it is time to find the second material used in this process: Screen Filler.

Screen filler is a Red-Oxide colored fluid that will fill the holes in the screen where you do not want printing to occur.

The directions suggested you stir it until it's smooth, but I simply shook her bottle a few times and it was ready.

Dribble a line of the fluid near one wooden edge of the screen, then with a smooth movement squeegee the fluid to the opposite edge. Try to only move over any area one time, as the screen filler may begin to degrade the drawing fluid.

Note that red line running down the center of this image? Remember it for later.

When the screen filler has completely filled the screen, again put it aside to dry making sure that nothing is touching the screen fabric.

ACT FOUR: Rinse and Rest
The end is near.

When your screen filler is thoroughly dried comes the moment of truth: rinsing the screen.

Take your dry screen to a sink and use COLD water to rinse the drawing fluid off the screen. Turn the screen to rinse from both sides and continue until none of the blue is visible.

Remember that thick line? Parts of it remained, but they were easily scrubbed off with the edge of a green kitchen scrub pad.

Return the screen again to your drying set up.

The Climax: Your First Pull

When your screen has thoroughly dried, you are ready to test your screen with it's first pull. I found a scrap of hand-dyed fabric, but you can choose whatever you wish. Even paper towel will do for testing purposes.

However, I couldn't find the Versa-Print Ink that came in my kit. Luckily, I know I can use a liquid acrylic paint or other thicker fabric paint in this situation. I chose to try a Liqui-Tex Purple.
The fabric is placed on a protected surface and the screen is positioned on top flat against the fabric.

A tablespoon or two of the paint is placed near the top of the screen. Using the squeegee, I pulled straight down to cover the image. I needed several pulls to make sure the image was completely covered, but didn't work it too much.

Remember to breathe.

Lift the screen off the fabric and enjoy the fruit of your labor!!


Remember if you use acrylic paint on fabric, it must cure for 2 days, then be heat set with an iron. After this step it is permanent. (ofcourse, if you make a mistake the paint will become instantly permanent!)

And when you're tired of using your image, you can wash the screen perfectly clean with HOT soapy water.

You can get screenprint kits from:
Michael's (use your 40% off coupon);
Dharma Trading (their own kit) or
Dick Blick.

And you can find the supplies at Artist And Craftsman Supply.

If you make a resist screen, please let me know. I'd love to highlight your work, or even better send you one of my t-shirts and wear a piece of your own design.

COMING NEXT: The Back Story

Tomorrow I will tell you story of why this tree is important to me. Some of you know it already, but it is a very good story.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Blog Your Story for International Woman's Day

Hat tip to Elisa Camahort for pointing this out ahead of time.

The Blank Noise Project is asking women to blog their stories on March 8th for International Woman's Day. Not just any story, though.

Do you remember any time that you sexually harrassed on the street? A comment that was inappropriate? Blog the story. Especially if you managed to turn the line around on the aggressor.

As they state:
When did you flip a situation so you could resist, when did you give back as hard as you got? When and how did you choose to confront? When did you become an Action Hero?

Being a 'HERO' is relative . We are interested in knowing how you challenged yourself or didint feel victimised?

This is an attempt to understand how different women ( across age groups/ cultures/ communities) have dealt with street sexual harassment in their everyday lives. Male bloggers are encouraged to share stories of women in their lives and how they have dealt with street sexual harassment. Non bloggers are also invited to participate- email us your story. We will upload your email and publish it here.

I've found that telling my stories is cathartic; so I'll be spending a couple a days trying to remember the moments of humilation that I need to expunge. Want to participate? Follow the simple directions here.

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Sundries

Sunday Sundries. A Weekend Laundry List of Less Than Scintillating Stuff.

Sundry #1: I'm still working on my silk screen project; it's not as time-consuming as I make it seem. I just find it easier to work on in bright daylight, then get distracted and forget to work on it. I'm contemplating setting up a couple lights around my chair so I can work on it while watching the "fluffy" tv tonight.

Sundry #2: Someone this past week pointed out the quiz at Blogthings about What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have. Of course I took it. But I had a problem.

The first question asked: When You Were A Kid.. then listed a number of activities that one might choose.

I had two equal answers.

While I enjoyed stories (reading and writing) and word puzzles, I also loved doing crafts and while I won't say I was "athletic", the kids on our block had no choice but to be outside playing all day. It's just what was done. Our mothers kicked us out of the house at 9:30 am, and except for a quick trip home for lunch, did not expect to see us back in the house until Mrs. Neiderider called her son Bobbie home about 4:30 pm.

They didn't necessarily know where we were or what we were doing and they didn't care. The key thing was we weren't doing it underfoot.

Anyway, with the change on that one question alone, I had two very different kinds of intelligence:

Linguistic Intelligence (stories and word puzzles)
You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.
You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (crafts and playing outside)
You are naturally athletic and coordinated, good at making your mind and body work together.Sports are fun and easy for you, especially those requiring good hand - eye coordination.There's also a good chance you're a great dancer, or good at expressing yourself through body language.You learn best by doing, and you feel like you've always got to be moving (even if it's just your hands).You would make a good athlete, physical education teaches, dancer, actor, firefighter, or artisan.
Ok. Anyone who knows me well is laughing their butts off at this. After all I am the gal who falls while eating lunch and sprains her ankle. Several times in the past.


Sundry #3: Today I was meeting some gals in Oakland for a couple hours. We were knitting and crocheting and talking. Something to drink, maybe something to eat. A perfect afternoon for me!!

My plan was to hit the gym for a easy workout first. If I left the gym by 1:30, I'd have time to get through the bad traffic spot, find a parking spot, walk to the tea bar and get there by our 2 pm. time.


(OK, I can't believe I'm saying this): I was enjoying my workout so much, that I decided to stay a bit longer at the gym and showed up late for girlie fun. Even after I broke my MP3 player!! (When I work out by myself, the music is usually the thing that keeps me going.)

Sundry #4: Holding an MP3 player so sweat can drip into the controls and temporarily short things out is a bad thing. I'm just saying.

Sundry #5: I'm getting desperate about the movies on my NetFlix queue. I seem to be running out of good ones. Please suggest some good movies (preferably new-ish ones) that I might add to my list.

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions where Monday's Tale of the Scale will be published.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


If you watch Grey's Anatomy, were you struck with the question that Addison posed near the end of the last episode? She and Alex have been working with a woman injured in the ferry crash; her face is significantly damaged making IDing her difficult and she has traumatic amnesia. For those in her real life, if must be as if she got on the ferry like every other day and simply vanished.

Nobody is asking about a friend or family member that matches the details they do know about MysteryGal. It's haunting the two doctors, though Alex's laundry list of the all things he knows about patient X was warm and touching. I wonder he will grow to love this woman from the inside out...then lose her to her real life. Ahhh... a digression.

Knowing MysteryGal, however, makes Addison wonder about her own life:
If I simply vanished, would anyone notice??
Her question haunts me because Addison seems connected to people in her world: to Derek, McSteamy, Alex, to Callie O'Malley.

And it haunts because, I'll admit this, I wonder all the time if I simply vanished, would anyone notice??

When I was younger, suffering from more psychic angst than I do today, I would imagine myself jumping on a Greyhound bus some Friday evening with one suitcase, heading away from my life and simply vanishing. Starting fresh somewhere else as someone else. I'd leave all the bad things behind me and be reborn a 20-something babe in a new town.

I'd possibly even change my name. Something like Gretchen. There aren't enough Gretchens in this world.

I never knew where I would end up, but the town usually looked a whole lot like Reno, NV. A place I had not seen, except perhaps in a TV show, and didn't have a name for. But when I drove through there a few years ago, I knew that Reno may have been that imagined destination.

Or I could have followed my Great Uncle Otto's lead and headed to San Francisco. But that's a whole another story about someone who vanished.

Wherever I ended up, I'd imagine myself finding some small apartment over a shop and starting new life. It might even have been a remarkable life. I'd have made my own family from the people I came to know every day. For my old friends and family, I would have vanished; for myself, I would have been reborn.

That bus trip never happened.

Looking at my life right now, though much of that plan has come to be. My remaining family knows very little of my life except which state I reside in. My old friends have all slipped off the radar. The life I'd lived has become a mere memory; so, in some small way I have vanished from my old self. Except for Reno and Gretchen and the small apartment and the family.

Especially the family.

That was probably the thing I was seeking most. A place to fit in that felt like home. A place where everybody knew my name. People who felt like family. You see it all the time on TV and in the movies. I haven't found it to be true much in real life. I yearn for those who care and would keep me from vanishing.


Back when I was single and living alone, there was one week when I sick. I had a really high temperature and could barely get out of bed to drink some water for two days. I could not think clearly enough to call into work sick. Heck, I couldn't shower or cook or call a doctor. We all hear the stories of co-workers who notice someone isn't at their desk on Monday morning and call to check on them. They worry; they call apartment management or police just in case. They need to know that their co-worker is alright. That didn't happen for me. They gal I worked with assumed I was just being irresponsible (she obviously did not know me); and everyone else assumed that she knew what was going on. I vanished (for two days) and while people noticed, nobody acted upon it.

Obviously I've been thinking about vanishing and belonging for a long time. It's different now than it was back then, though.

I spend way too much alone. I drive alone almost everywhere; I spend much of my time alone in my house. I am seen by the store clerks and gym members, few of whom know my name or would wonder about my absence. I'm a transient cypher to them.

I do not do this by choice.

It just happened.

Have you noticed how difficult it can be to make new friends when you are older than 20-something? Right out of college, we are all in the same boat: trying to find our place, make our way, and we bond with those around us. Then lives move on. We might marry, have children, join a church. We find our spot in our community. Lives fill up. As an outsider, it's more challenging to try to shoe-horn my way into others consciousness. Forget their lives. With no children, no church, and an fairly anti-social spouse, I'm also left confused about how to build community.

And I fear vanishing.

I wonder what people would say:

"She didn't tell me where she was going, so how should I know she was missing?"
"I only see her once a week, I just assumed she was busy with something else."
"I figured she blew me off."
"How could I know?"
"Who? Oh, her... don't know..."

A few months ago, some of the women on BlogHer were talking about the freedom of travelling alone (sorry, I cannot find the link). I've read (and love) Linda Ellerbee's book on the subject (and if you haven't read it yet, DO!) and I truly envy those with the courage to do so. I yearn for that independence. But one thing stops me:

I fear that I could vanish.

I asked them how they felt safe travelling alone. How they made themselves feel safe. How they knew they wouldn't vanish. The common missing link that these women were all strongly attached to others. Others who would know.

Knowing. The missing link.

They all admitted certain safety nets: membership in AAA if they were travelling by car. A reliable cell phone. And people who expect to hear from them regularly. Sometime it was family, often it friends.

Surprisingly, these were seldom Real Life contacts that protected them. They were the brother who emailed at lunch at day and expect a reply, or a friend who IMs every few hours.. and expects a reply. Friends who would miss an email in the morning and act upon it.

People were safe because their online life was rich and active and people would miss them HERE much faster than they would be missed in the physical world. Jeez, I don't even think I have that.

Yet I've taken their tips as guides. I'mdeciding to get that AAA membership and updated my stupid pre-paid cellphone for a more modern model . The rest of the solution, however, is elusive to me.

And still slowly I vanish.

photo credit: LensENVY on Flickr.
Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions