Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Truth about DIY

Part of the reason I do stuff myself, like make felted critters, or knit sweaters (see below)

is that it is fun, and satisfying.  Also, I am sort of ADD, so knitting helps me to focus during long meetings.  It also keeps me from losing my mind on airplane rides and long car trips.    

The real reason I make stuff, though,  is that I am a show off.  Many crafty folks are.  My mother, for example, is a one woman  baby sweater knitting factory.

 Normal people make baby sweaters for their own children, grandchildren, maybe nieces and nephews.  My mother makes baby sweaters for the grandchildren of her neighbors and the other artists in her painting club--babies whose parents she barely knows.  On the surface, this is very sweet and generous.  But it is also a venue for her to showboat her skills.  As she should.  They are adorable sweaters.

Just one blog post ago, I was displaying my felted bunny critter, now I want you to see this sweater.  It's a swedish pattern called " Plöj sagan om ringen-trilogin och du har fixat julstämning och varmaste, gosigaste tröjan i vinter."

That says, "Three Movies Sweater  The sweater is really quick knitted.  It takes about three movies to knit."

Maybe if you are swedish is is quick knitted.  Maybe in Swedish there are tips to speed up your knitting and cure your ADD.  I was going to make the whole thing dark green but after I joined the body and arms at the shoulder level I got bored (easily bored!  ADD!)and swapped out the rest of my green skeins for blue.

I thought it was going to be a total disaster right up to the end when I blocked it.  Blocking (for you non knitters) is where you get the finished sweater wet and stretch and shape it to the proportions you want.  It is magical.

It would be nice if you could block your actual body:  step out of the shower, pat your muffin top down to your butt or up to your bust.  I would firm up my bingo wing triceps.  Oh wait, you can do that, it's called go to the gym.

But I digress (ADD!! I'm having an episode!).  Anyway, the sweater:  I'm pleased as punch although I wish wool did not make me itch.

One more thing:  the CLOGS!  They are red!  And Swedish!  I scored them at Value Village for $8.  Since I am not actually Swedish,  the next best thing is to wear clogs as much as possible.  Also I hate heels but like to be two or three inches taller.   I'm hoping that eventually all my shoes will be clogs.  My friend Keri would tell you I'm well on my way.

A final note:  the evil beast standing next to me in the picture was mad because I gave him a bath yesterday.  So this morning he escaped the yard and rolled in cat shit.  I had to hose him down and scrub him with dish soap and then take a shower myself.  No one should knit him a sweater.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Olympics of Crafty Cuteness! I Win! I Win!

The smaller Hooligan did some needle felting at a friend's house.  He was really into it. I capitalized on his enthusiasm--which is to say I bribed him:  

"I know you don't want to start doing the longer cello practices, but if you will play for at least 45 minutes every day this week, we can go to the yarn store after your lesson and you can pick out a felting kit.  Deal?"

A deal indeed.  The practices were nice and long.  He even used the loathsome metronome.  On Wednesday after cello we walked up to the local yarn shop and spent a happy hour looking at all the options.  He got a kit to make a little gnome dude with a mushroom.  

I impulsively got one to make two playful foxes.  I finished those and left them at a friend's house by mistake.  And now I'm obsessed. 

Today I stopped by the yarn store and got what I needed to make some bunnies.  I have this notion that I must make all the cute forest creatures.  I think I will make a squirrel next, or maybe a chipmunk.  And a deer and a bear.

The Man Who Lives In My House seems to be amused to find me sitting up in bed with my glasses on the end of my nose, stabbing away at wads of wool morning and night.  I can't stop!  It's very addictive.  

The Man Who Lives in My House
2 hours ago 
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Kate has a new sport: Felting.
 — with Kate Marble McCarthy.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

He looks so good, and acts so bad

The Man Who lives in my house was away for the weekend.  I took advantage of his absence to make "normal chicken" which he dislikes.  Everyone else loves normal chicken, everyone normal, that is.  You place your cut up chicken a baking dish, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and parmesan cheese and bake it at 350 for an hour.

So there were six chicken thighs in a pan atop the stove, the oven was pre-heating, and I was around the corner in my office nook, working on our taxes.  I heard a clunking noise, and ssumed that the puppy (now 110 lbs, mostly head and teeth) was playing with his food bowl.  He does this in hopes that I will notice and decide to feed him (again).  He and the larger hooligan have a lot in common.

I ignored him until I wrapped up my tax project.  I came around the corner to see the dog whisking off under the table in a furtive and guilty manner.   The pan of chicken was completely empty.

Six chicken thighs had gone down the hatch.

One or two chicken thighs would have been manageable, but I did not want to deal with chicken thigh regurgitation at 4 in the morning.  I put the dog in the yard and tore off to the market for more chicken, and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

Upon my return I trapped Magnus between my knees, tipped his head back and poured a 1 oz shot of hydrogen peroxide down his throat.  I held his jaw shut  and gave him a little shake, and sent him out onto the back lawn.  30 minutes later we had a mess to clean up, but at least it was outside.

I learned this useful bit of animal husbandry years ago, during my first dog's tenure.  She was a chubby lab who  once levitated to the top of the fridge to consume an entire cheesecake.  Levitation is the only plausible explanation.  Another time she ate a pound of Belgian dark chocolate--it was wrapped up for Christmas, we didn't know.  Forcing her to bring up whatever inappropriate thing she had wolfed down was fairly routine.  And not going to the vet saves about $90.

All I can say is it's a good thing he's cute.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Double Agents

The Hooligans needed sneakers.  What else is new?  They outgrow/thrash their sneakers with frightening and expensive regularity.  Skateboarding is very hard on shoes.  I thought living right in town would be more economical, transportation-wise.  Their schools are so close it's quicker to walk than to drive, ditto music lessons, sports practice, and the local junk-food emporium.  However they ride their skateboards everywhere they go, which literally burns a lot of rubber.

So, new sneakers:  they wanted converse.  I like that.  They're classic and not prohibitively expensive.  Unfortunately, the only store with a good selection was at the mall.

How I loathe the mall.  I like shopping (very much), but not at malls.  I like thrift stores. I like little boutiques. I like flea markets and garage sales and estate sales.  I can even handle the occasional big box expedition, but malls. Ugh.

Especially our mall, which is one of those grim seventies models where everything is enclosed and painted sort of a sickly yellowish grey.  Old ladies bustle around for exercise.  Young mothers scream at screaming toddlers.  The sales people at the kiosks in the center come at you aggressively with various unguents and products.  I have been chased by a guy selling dead sea face cream.  Do I look that wrinkly?   It's an exceptionally bad mall.

But there is a cool shoe emporium staffed by young women in tight t shirts that hint at their fascinating tattoos.  I made eye contact with one while my sons were perusing the converse selection.  "They need shoes,"  I told her, sotto voce, "And I'm hoping they won't select the neon colored ones--ideally grey or navy?  Anything you can do to guide them in that direction…"

"I hear you, mom," she said," leave it to me."  I sat down and checked my email, affecting disinterest and she sidled up casually behind the hooligans, slinging her arms around their shoulders,  "Looking for converse, huh?"  she asked.  "Awesome.  Converse are so legit.  They grey ones are super popular.  Want me to see if I've got some in your sizes?"

Slack-jawed, both hooligans nodded dumbly.  We left with two pairs of grey converse high tops, plus some extra shoelaces in neon orange--in case the neon mood strikes.  I have newfound appreciation for the mall, and for double agent sales girls.

Now I need these girls to appear, casually you understand, in my house.  "Oh hey," they might say, "Were you going to practice cello?  That is SO awesome.  Can I just listen if I'm really quiet?  I wish all guys played cello.  It's so cool."

Or they might wander upstairs,  "S'up?  Your mom wants you to clean your room?  I do not get what the big deal about cleaning is, but hey,  I'll help you out and it will keep her off your back, you know?"