Thursday, February 25, 2010

On Making :: Blocks

Most days I feel compelled to craft. It is rare that I wake up without some plan to fit a moment of making into the schedule. It could be a knit or sewing project, a few minutes with the camera or even a few minutes here sharing. It almost feels mandatory if I want to catalog the day as 'worthy'.

In the weeks since Mondo, I have found a new type of clarity within my own creative time. I feel bolder, encouraged to step outside of my comfort zone and participate. There are such strong communities that run through this medium and I have learned from Mondo just how powerful (and fun) it can be to become a little more involved.

It may seem odd that my grand list of must-do's included goals such as 'sew my own jeans' and 'sew a wedding ring quilt' interspersed with 'travel to Bhutan for three months to volunteer (and bring the family)'. I found it a little odd. But in the writing, I feel as if I have acknowledged their importance and realized my compulsion to create is something to keep me balanced and healthy and whole.

And in that light, I present my first two pieced blocks ever. I came across a Quilt Along via Whip Up and though I try not to click through too often, as it makes me want to DO EVERYTHING...this one I followed. First thought, no way. Second, why not?

Pinwheel QAL :: Block I

The blocks did not take that long, did not take much fabric and have given me such great pleasure. Once I established a good way to sit, sew, press and cut, piecing has become a goal easily achieved in the small chunks of time I find through out the days. The QAL is still in its first week and it will run for 12 weeks and at the end I anticipate having my first quilt top.
Pinwheel QAL :: Block I

I have already decided to use my local quilt shop to do the actual quilting. They are a lovely bunch of women and I have seen their long arm quilting machines and know they quilt for others and even rent out the quilting machines. This may help me take that next step towards taking a class to learn how to do all that swirly stuff I always see on the beautifully finished pieces out there.

And I did take one more little step towards real world connecting. There is a group that has formed to support modern quilting and L.A. seems to have a thriving and lively bunch (at least from what I have seen in their Ning site). So, I joined up and hope to follow through by attending one of their meet ups.

Anyone out there want to go with me next Monday to Home Ec. for my first guild meeting? Julia? Jillian? Anyone?

And while on the topic of is the Olympic knitting project, coming along row by row.
Tomten in Progress

I have been staying up awfully late watching sport after sport, sometimes feeling great and moving along, other times waking up during the late late broadcast and finding drool on mouth and needles clutched in hand. It is going to be one of those 'she will grow into it' pieces. The boys agreed to model it reluctantly as they have already decided it is being knit for 'the baby' (which would not be them...I am not sure if there is a baby that could pull this off. Maybe that record breaking 20 pounder?).
Tomten in Progress

I think I will make it. Which reminds me...time to sign off and cue up the DVR. I've got some knitting to do and a few tiny twirling skaters to watch. (Is it bad that I am glad the Olympics are almost over? I swear, I have not been this sleep deprived since those early newbie months).

Tomten in Progress

(See the stitch marker? My engagement ring...lost the pearl set in the middle and now it works great as a knitting companion).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Toddler Taming

A few days ago I started some thing new with the boys. I talked about sleep a few posts ago, these days it is a rare morning that we wake alone. Often one or the other will crawl into bed with us around the four a.m. witching hour and we end up just letting them stay. It seems to help them sleep past 6:30 which helps Tim and I sleep past 6:30 which is a first in all the years that we have had these particular children.

Anyway, a few days ago in my yoga class our instructor introduced a new component. She started by telling us to self massage our hamstrings and then calves while we were folded into forward bend. Then the top of the feet (ahhhh...) then the shins and the knees, the thighs up to the belly and heart. I was amazed how the simple act of touch, the gentle rubbing on each part gave instant relief and unleashed a kind of joy. This realization was powerful and a bit ironic as I am a physical therapist trained in massage. It was a huge reminder about the power of directed touch, even when the gentle touch is directed at oneself.

It has me thinking about the boys and their recent troubles. Lately our household has been all sickness, and then when that takes a backseat all tantrums and whining. It has reached an unbelievably difficult impasse, where Tim and I are short and harried and exhausted and mad. So easy to get mad in the face of the seemingly incessant demands and seemingly unreasonable behavior, doubled in our case.

Big Bup
(Lip courtesy of O and an accidental bat to face. Hopefully accidental).

It had me thinking about the stages they are going through, where a certain level of autonomy has been reached. No longer are they cuddled over shoulder as the norm, rather they walk with their hands in our and their bodies self propelled. No longer hand fed, no longer hand many of those early touch opportunities fall away in the progression towards growth. Don't get me wrong, they receive as much hug and cuddle as they wish for, it is just that they do not wish for that very often. More often than not they lock us out of their room in fits of rage and fury.

So, now we have these precious hours while their sleepy bodies curl up in comfort and companionship and I really really like it. Not changing anything in that way. I like to think of it as practice for the Vanagon months ahead. But the thing I started doing in the early morning when one wakes up and is coming out of sleep is giving them a gentle massage similar to the one we started in class.

I love that they just lay there, sleepy and welcoming the day. I can see the relief melt over them, and I can feel the touch healing some of the challenge and struggle that must be part of the becoming of a person. And I am finding it heals that part of me that struggles with 'losing' my little ones.


It is easy to think we are giving them enough touch, but throughout the day the opportunities have waned. Busy as they are, Tim and I being in different places throughout the week, and the multiple demands of schedules and dinner and occasional housework, and Bam! when was the last time we sat down with focus and direction of affection.

I came across and very interesting post and it linked to this book. Now, I have yet to read it, but was caught by the description as follows ::

From Publishers Weekly
In an attempt to reclaim the primal intimacy of the parent-child bond from dogmatists who see close physical affection as suspect or indecent, Oxenhandler (A Grief Out of Season) argues that parental love is inherently erotic. Despite her flamboyant terminology, what Oxenhandler means is that the parent-child bond can have the same physical and emotional intensity as a bond between lovers. There is, she points out, some scientific basis for this magnetism. The chemical oxytocin "controls a woman's pleasure during orgasm, childbirth, cuddling and nursing." Meanwhile, a child's "irresistibleness" in infancy is also a mechanism for survival. But Oxenhandler soon leaves science behind in favor of addressing the different "erotic" feelings a parent may experience. Throughout, she stresses the importance of "attunement," a process by which parents modify their physical affection as their children grow older--after all, the same caresses one showers on a baby are hardly appropriate for an adolescent. While the subtitle suggests an evenhanded treatment of the "light" and "dark" aspects of the parent-child relationship, Oxenhandler is much more skillful at presenting its sunnier side. She admits she has little experience in dealing with victims of child abuse, incest or pedophilia, and her attitude toward these issues may strike some readers as dismissive and uninformed. (In one chapter she suggests that adults use "playfulness" as an alternative to slipping into forbidden territory, though that seems an unlikely remedy to true pedophilic impulses.) Despite the flaws in her argument, many parents will find some comfort in this beautifully written book, which reassures them about the pleasure they may find in their child's natural curiosity and unconscious sexuality.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

I first found the author via Mondo Beyondo and have her second book on order from the Library (you do order your books from the Library, don't you? Free, people, free). And I am not sure the book will add much to my belief in touch and the importance it holds as we raise healthy and attuned young people. (And the Library does not have it yet, so I can't get it for free. Free, people).

I am glad for the reminder I received in that class. That I have a tool to go to when I am feeling stressed out, that I have a tool to offer them when they are. Has it stopped the craziness? Hell no. But does it help. Anyway, I believe it does.

Me Mama

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday Inspired :: Log Cabin

JCasa has been posting about her inspired Saturdays and I thought I would join in this week. The project actually started on Thursday but since I finished it this morning and it is currently in use under the head of a napping someone, I figured it would fit right in.

Earlier in the week I read a post by Jennie over at Tangerine and Turquoise about her log cabin pillow project for her sweet boy's classroom. The work in progress caught my eye, as did her explanation when I left a question in the comments. I wanted to know the how and her simple reply was to cut a center square, grab scrap cut stash pieces and see if they fit. Now, that is my kind of instruction.
New Work :: Pillowcase

Thursday I gathered up the plethora of scrap that has resulted from cutting hundreds of 4" squares for the stash quilt and set up a simple portable iron and trim table next to the sewing machine in order to eliminate having to move back and forth while sewing and cutting and I got to work... and almost forgot to pick up the boys from school because this project was totally engrossing.

The idea for a portable iron table came from Jenny too, and I think it was a major help, it made the piecing flow and kept me from the fatigue that usually happens when I have to get up, walk across the room to the ironing table, steam, cut, walk back....etc. And I vaguely recall in my initial reading of Amy Karol's book that it really does behoove you to set up your sewing table in such a manner.

In no time I had a piece large enough to cover a pillow and then I quilted it with some straight lines, doubled up chocolate-colored linen for the back of the pillow and it came together in a very simple fashion this morning. My first log cabin, if you can call it that. My first home decor and a first in the 'quilted with some type of pattern' technique.

New Work :: Pillowcase
New Work :: Pillowcase
New Work :: Pillowcase

And I love it.

I was always a little intimidated by the idea of quilting, searching for a right way to approach it, but this taught me that there is not necessarily a 'right' way, rather there are lessons and practice in the act of actually doing it. The piece is off center because at some point I think I stopped rotating it or something, there is an odd little patch piece in the corner because I cut through the finished piece before quilting (classic Amiee move) and I gave no thought to color, just grabbed and pieced as instructed by Jenny.
Done :: First Pillow

End result? Love. And inspiration to make 100 more...this is such a great way to actually use and 'see' the fabrics that I cherish so dearly.

What have you been waiting too long to do, my friends? If there is that 'something' I say, try it. Ignore worst case scenarios, don't hesitate, give it a might end up with pillows or photos or who knows. Pretty cool.

Done :: First Pillow

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hail to the Olympics

I am such a total sucker for the Olympics. Total. Sucker. I have to admit that I have spent the better part of the last few days watching hours of footage, hours and hours. I have stayed up until 1 a.m. despite the fact that we recorded the coverage on the DVR, stayed up because I literally cannot stop watching.

These people, these Olympians, impress me in so very many ways. They have such focus and determination and desire. I love sitting witness to the fruition of their dream. Some have come back and come back again and tried and hoped and trained, and finally receive redemption and validation. Some do not. But to me, all of them are champions in their own ways, in their own skin.

I remember when the Olympics were hosted by Los Angeles in 1984. My father worked at Cal State Los Angeles where they held some of the events. I remember going to the campus and feeling the magic, the vibration of the festival. I do not even remember if we watched any events, I can just recall walking around the campus and knowing in my heart that something wonderful was happening. I was 10 years old and along with millions of other young girls, found myself riveted to the TV when Mary Lou Retton came on. She meant so many things to my young girl Self, she was all I thought about for weeks after the Games.

That local Olympic festival left me with two very tangible things. The first was a desire to participate in gymnastics. After the Games, I signed up and trained, eventually even competed in lower level divisions. I was much too old when I started, and a part of me knew that. I never dreamed of Olympic gold but thrived on the environment of learning and challenge and discipline. My years of dance made the transition easier, but I never really conquered a fear of the uneven bars and eventually I asked my very supportive parents if I could leave it behind. I returned to dance and have never really regretted the decision. I just wish I was still as strong and flexible as that young girl who used to whip around the floor or perch precariously on the beam.

The other tangible? Well, after the Games, my father collected up three of the metal framed bunk beds used in the Olympic dorms. He brought them home to his growing family and explained where they came from. You would have thought they were Olympic gold. For weeks we would reverently touch the frames, thrilled to know we laid our heads in the very same spot some of the amazing Olympians had. I also may have embellished the story to classmates just a bit and bragged that I had May Lou Retton's actual bed (oh, yes I did). Those beds served our family for many years, withstanding much abuse, and they always meant so very much despite their lack of style or adornment.

Now, during these Games, I am making another tangible. We knitters, looped as we are, tend to jump at the chance to challenge ourselves. So, a few Games ago, a wonderful knitter/blogger/writer The Yarn Harlot started the Knitting Olympics. You pick a project, cast on at the Opening Ceremony and attempt to finish it by the end of the two weeks. I did it during the Summer Games with some success.

This year I chose a lovely and serviceable project designed by the esteemed Elizabeth Zimmerman.
Ravelympics :: Tomten

Yards of yards of wool consumed by the simplest of garter stitch, perfect for knitting and watching, perfect because in the end you have the most lovely and elfin of pieces, sure to fit a small child for years and years. In a very appropriate turn, it will go to a Canadian friend (well, her young daughter), to be used in a place that receives blankets of snow and low enough temperatures to need a thick wool sweater.

A few things I am not loving is the NBC coverage with their sensationalism and sappy spots on the serious athletes. And their extremely late night showing times (thank god for the DVR for those mights when I fall asleep drooling in my knitting, like last night). And their horrible announcers that love to point out the supposed 'failure' of an athlete when things do not go well. I like that I can zip past their unneeded commentary and focus on the thing that I do love, the people and their achievements and joyous accomplishment.

Ravelympics :: Tomten

And now, back to my own joyous accomplishment. Knit on, fellow Olympic knitter people. We can do it.

Btw :: Like the delicious juicy colors of the garter stitch? I do. Mmmmmm.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

LOVE 7 :: Well, just Everyday

And so concludes my self-imposed week of blogging about LOVE. I have to say, I never really cared for Valentine's Day in the past. It just seems so arbitrary and contrived in many ways. But then, by setting it aside from the mass consumer message and thinking about it as a day to celebrate LOVE, well, then it makes it seem all lovely and stuff.

Not like we are really doing anything for the day. And that seems to be the joy in it for me. Almost well boys, flip flop weather (I know, not rubbing it in, but it really was), a long ride for Tim, a short walk for some fresh donuts....just the little things. Those always seem to be my best reminders of LOVE, the little things.

I hope many little things accumulate for you, to bring magic and soft hugs and peace and Love, romantic or platonic, but just a lot of it.

Sunday :: Funday :: <3 Day

Pictures in Full here :: View slideshow

And I hope the incessant blogging of the word and the pink background did not turn your stomach too much. Believe me, the pink goes tomorrow. Promise.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

LOVE 6 :: Tea Parties

Today? Well, I love my boys. And play time. Our usual playtime consists of trucks and pillow forts, train building and train wrecking, flying paper airplanes and furiously scribbling with crayons and pens and highlighters and occasionally the squirreled away Sharpie (did I mention that Owen actually scribbled with the infamous indelible all over my car seats on Christmas day, minutes before our family hike? No? He is still alive obviously and I will tell you why. If you happen to have a Sharpie to fabric emergency, try rubbing alcohol, lots of it. It totally saved his ass).

So, all these listed activities are so BOY, right? Of course they are, as these two little people in my life are of the male gender. But that does not mean we do not try new things. Kitchen time is a blast, we set it up outside with some old benches and lots of kid sized plates and pans and gadgets and they have a blast cooking us cakes and soup and rice, all from the variety of dirt and mulches layered in our yard.

But my latest favorite was our sick day tea party.
tea party

A few weeks ago I ran into a small set of porcelain bits, little cups and saucers and a pitcher. I had no real plans to actually show it to them, thinking their little fingers too brutish to treat the pieces properly. But then we had a sick-no-school-day, a day where staying in seemed most opportune. Neither boy was showing any interest in food or trucks or trains so I pulled out the little box and they showed instant fascination.

tea party

Out came the old quilt, the tiny pieces and some finely chopped granola bars and we had ourselves a proper tea party (sans tea) with generous pouring by Mason and sipping by us all. Sometimes I am so pleasantly surprised by them, my lovely boys.

tea party
tea party
tea party

Owen even did the dishes when we were done. Aw.
tea party

There is not much that I haven't said about them, but there is always so much more to say. My greatest challenge and my greatest blessing. Their love for me generates so much good in my life. And my love for them....well, there seems to be no way to really speak it. But I will always try.

Your Mama love you, boys, loves you so very very much.

Friday, February 12, 2010

LOVE 5 :: Mondo & Beyond

Friday, blessed lovely Friday. It means so much more since returning to work. This week was lovely and rough all at once, and I find on this Friday I sit here with a little twinge of sadness as I reflect on my love of the day.

Today? Today I love my class Mondo Beyondo. When I first heard the name, well, to be honest, it sounded a little over the top. I first read about Mondo Beyondo lists on Andrea's superb blog, Superhero Journal. That woman is a dynamic bit of a energy and goregeousness. She radiates goodness and it was what drew me to the course. I missed the first round, then the second, but signed up for the third as a birthday gift to myself. And I have not regretted a second.

saints come marching in

What is it, you might wonder? I am not sure if I can give it justice nor can I say what it would be for another. For me, it was an instant reconnection with a inner self, one that felt a little timid of late. I found that girl, now woman, that did not hesitate to apply to college in New York, or drop a 'life' to go travel somewhere far, or call a friend...or reach a bit. The finding feels spectacular but still a little new, tender and processing.

I think what I realized with the help of the lessons and missions and ideas is that we are always more than the sum of our parts, that when we dream a little, we grow a lot. That being a little vulnerable and feeling some love are wonderful things. And I feel such a renewed vigor for things...things now and soon and long future forth.

The concrete things I am taking with me are a list (posted here if you care to read it), new friends that feel like they literally slid into that space where you were missing that last piece(s) to finish the border of that 1500 piece puzzle you are working on, and some very concrete steps to get to a few of the dreams.

Do we need dreams? I used to read a lot of Paulo Coelho (I used to read a lot, in a life long ago). I remember in The Valkyries he spoke to his wife at one point, told her to start her training by taking her focus to the horizon. Look up, gaze out, open yourself. Look up, look out, open you life. Have you ever tried it? It works. And this class was like Looking Up, Looking Out, and Opening Myself.

I have yet to feel all the benefits, yet to actually even finish reading this week's lessons and missions. But the ripple is in effect, it is taking its hold and that feels really good.
Mondo Beyondo :: My Altar

For you, my friends and readers, I would suggest you take a look if you feel the need for something, but cannot quite figure it out, or if you want to dream in color, or stretch your inner muscles a bit, or just work, work a little and play a little and be reminded that we live in a day and age where dreaming is allowed and even encouraged in some places.

I remember at the start of the course I was so nervous to reveal my list. I knew it what it would be as I was writing it. Not much on it surprised me, but I was totally surprised by how others responded. It is not often that an immediate dream is to literally live in a van down by the river. But in truth, I find I am happiest in transit, with moderate periods of settling. I am happiest as a gypsy, and that dream looks a lot closer than it did 5 weeks ago. And not one of my fellow dreamers laughed at me. I am hoping that you do not either.
Mondo Beyondo :: My Altar

So, today I love Mondo and the Beyond. It just looks so damn pretty from where I am sitting right now.

I have to add as I type this, I also really really love Graber olives. The kid and I just shared a whole can, the first food he has eaten with gusto in a week. If you are local, pick some up. They are beyond. And yeah, I am avoiding the thought of what a can of olives does on an empty stomach. Yeach.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

LOVE 4 :: Missions

I have tried to stay on top of the LOVEs this week, but it has been a challenge. Now I am unwilling host to cranial pounding elves who have taken residence...just there behind my Right eye. Exacerbated by the recent playtime including a darkened room and a flashlight shone directly in said eye. But sometimes, playtime is worth it. As is LOVE.

Today? I have to document my love of Missions. This is the last week of my Mondo Beyondo course, a class that ran by too quickly. One part of the class that I particularly loved was the missions, little actions assigned to help promote...well, action. Each one has brought a lovely outer focus to my days, to my weeks. And a very good lesson in awareness, becoming aware of how internalized my life had become. Maybe it was due to navel gazing, maybe the effort that it takes to start off parenting with the double whammy of twins, but a lot of life had shrunk down to fit into the square footage not to exceed the parks in walking distance. (More on Mondo love later).

The last lesson was to write a letter to someone who has had great influence in our life. My efforts morphed into a psuedo letter/Valentine, inspired in part by Jen (there she is again, I must be crushing) and by the whole idea of a week of LOVE.

So, I gathered some extra fabric, card stock, cut outs and a pen and got to work. It was easy, fast and fun. Cut, spray, stick and cut again. Hearts with some special words, plain paper decorated prettily and then a few moments to think and write with a nicely rolling black pen.

It was fun to send them off at the post office, fun to know that some of the lovely ladies in my life will get some LOVE and a chance to spread it too. I only hesitated for a minute, wondering what if this is too cheesy, but then I received a text from one recipient today and I could feel the love from her. So, it is all good.

I just wish I had time to make 100. And that I remember that a silly made up holiday about love does not set the limits on when to do something nice like this. That a Mission can be any day, anytime of the year, maybe even better done away from some marked day.
V Day Lurve

So, to continue to spread love I invite you to join in. Grab something, anything, scrap or new, handmade or bought, and write to a loved one, let them know how you feel, why you love them, send it off and smile a bit. In a day and age when text and twits seem to rule so much, let some paper and pen give you pause.

SPREAD LOVE. You know you can.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love 3 :: Things

Ah, blessed antibiotics. They have done their intended job and rescued our household from the tyranny of infection, maladies have taken backseat though there is still green snot flying out of noses and mouths during coughing fits. The twins no longer cling to our bodies, instead putter about with their cars and trucks. I feel doubly blessed as Tim's second night of graveyard shift was just canceled. Hallelujah. Time to reflect on another thing I LOVE.

My Love today? Shallow but it is of THINGS. I try not to love things too much as I would like to claim to not be a heavy contributor to all things capital and material but sometimes Target gets the better of me. It did this week as I strolled about looking for distractions during the pharmacy wait. As a general rule and since the boys graduated from infancy, we steer clear of the place as the Temptations are great, the Will weak. But there are times when I least this week it was for a good message.

I ran into these sweet plates and cups on a strategically placed end cap.
target collapse

I love them for the message but also because there are so many letters on them. Letters have become a popular thing in the house, the boys have no real concept of the alphabet in order yet, but they love 'reading' and guessing at the letters and sounds, etc. So I picked up a few of these nicely heavy acrylic or something plates and have spent the week so far decorating them with berries and just feeling generally happy whenever I have to wash them.
I heart U

The cups are pretty cute too, wouldn't you say?
i heart u

I also find myself quite smitten by our apple peeler.
sonoma peeler
We picked this up at William Sonoma, a place I rarely (if ever) frequent. I looked it up before we went in so I knew we were getting a good deal. It was a great buy at 28 or so dollars and feels like the real thing, heavy with metal and rivets but easy to hold in place with a suction cup bottom. It makes quick work of apple peeling and lets the boys easily and safely get in the fun. They peeled, I chopped and we made a quick and easy applesauce to eat this week.
I find the apple sauce tastes great if you add apple juice instead of water during the stove top cooking process, it gives it a nice sweetness without too much sugar.

And then there is this fabric.
for the quilt
It is a scrap from my friend Lori, found in a box of 'gives' that she left with me upon her return to Canada. I have held onto it and wanted to do something with it, stumped by its slender scrappy cut. And then I realized it would fit with the 4" squares that have been cut and sewn and are slowly becoming a Scrappy Summer quilt. I am in love with the quilt though it is only in 2 square pieces right now. It feels like all these little pieces are coming together, some so entwined in my memory to pieces I have sewn and given, or people that I know and love. I think in part that is why quilters love what they means something, means so much.

So, I guess today it is okay to be in LOVE with things. Sometimes it seems like they mean so much more than that, they become vehicles to help us express, help us remember, help us hold close that which we love. (Which still does not excuse my Target lapse... of which I am repenting and self-flagellating).

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

LOVE 2 :: Friends

Day two of my LOVE week dawns with two fevered toddlers, diagnosed not with Black Lung but an ear infection and bronchitis. Dual doctor trip, moderately nightmarish trip to Target pharmacy and now Home. I am in it to win it, so this is going to go on. It makes me feel better. Let's hope the abx make them feel better.

Today? I love friends. Don't we all? I have to say, I am not the friendliest of people. I like the idea of friends, but it is hard work sometimes. Despite my best efforts to drive most away, some stick around. And sometimes I even make new ones. I mentioned in a Mondo post that I have found a good one via the dreaming course. Her name is Jen and she is super cool. She made my day yesterday with an unexpected package in the mail that contained this...

How totally cool, right? And just so you know, she has her own business that specializes in really cool stuff. How cool, you ask? Check it out and then check out her suggested gift ideas for the Valentine's Day upcoming....or really any day that needs a treat.

I am learning about friendship as I go, the give and take of long distance email, the patience crafted when you realize that this person, this one that you bond with half way across the nation, maybe half way across the world are not readily available at all times. May not even be physically available at any time. It is a new definition of the endearment. As friendship stretches and changes its meaning in my life, as I make (and sometimes break) the bonds of online friendship, I find myself reflecting on the fact that though there is not the same immediacy that happens when you meet that new friend that you just know you could sit and talk to all night, there is a new appreciation for the bonds. They start tentative, with a comment or a short email, toe dipped in water, hoping for a return. And then they show themselves at times to be lovely and right and fitting.

One of my Mondo Beyondo wishes read like this :: Make friends that last, that care, that like Me, that are complex and smart and whole.

And that is happening as I write, as I reach and as I share. Love comes in so many forms and I am happy that for a girl that was quite accustomed to flying solo when it came to the world of women, I can say I feel that love in daily ways.

So, thanks, my lovely and sometimes too ephemeral friends. I know you are there, and I love that. And someday when we pull up in our Vanagon and stop by to cook you dinner, I know you won't flinch to have friends that live in a van down by the rivier.

Monday, February 08, 2010

LOVE 1 :: Sewing Knits

I am not a sucker for romance (I prefer gifts from my husband in the form of a new pair of Chucks), but I am sucker for LOVE. This week I think I shall post about things that I am loving. This may be a challenge because my love is currently being divided between two almost thirty pound terribly sick tyrants who recently acquired the black lung. But I am gonna' try to spread a little here this week and hope it comes back tenfold.

Today? I expound on my love of knits. Not knitting, but knit fabric, particularly that of the kind you can sew. I mentioned last week that I sewed my first t-shirt for the boys. It came out quite wearable, if a little Flashdance in the shoulder area. And it really boosted my confidence in the sewing of knits.
sewn :: scrappy shirt

Here is the thing, knit material seems so very intimidating, right? But when you think of it, I have been primed by my healthy love of the act of knitting to understand the fabric better. I know how to 'see' the right and wrong side, I understand the propensity it has to stretch way out, to roll, to shift. So, now not so scary.

But then there is the whole serger issue. I read the Wendy book and immediately wanted a serger. They sound delightful, seams and cutting all in one swoop. Sign me up. But then I borrowed a serger and it scared me too much to really try it.

So, eventually the shirt came together on my regular sewing machine using two stitches, straight and the 'overlock' or 'kind of zigzaggy' stitch. I basically followed the directions from the tutorial, used a 2T shirt for the base pattern and fuddled through it in about the 90 called for minutes.

What I loved? The addition of the cuffs and collar in the ribbed fabric (found at JoAnns).
sewn :: scrappy shirt
I was surprised at how well you can iron knit fabric (I used steam to crease the ribbing) and finished the ribbing with the overlock stitch to decorate it a bit.
And I love that I can use old t-shirts in new ways. And I loved the fact that Mace knew it was for him, made by Mama.
sewn :: scrappy shirt

And I loved that I can still sew the knits even though I will not be investing in the serger in the immediate future.

The not so loves were pretty small...just need to adjust my hand made pattern a bit to prevent neckline gaping, and I found that if I want to use the best parts of the old t-shirts, the graphic area, I have to cut the shirt front and back off the original seam which leaves a raw unfinished edge to the new t-shirt.
sewn :: scrappy shirt
Which I decided is okay for now.

So, to recap Day 1 of Love Week :: I love knits. Yes I do. And I think you should too. If you have been longing to try your hand at sewing your own t-shirts, I say Do It. Just remember to use a rotary cutter to cut your pattern pieces (much cleaner edges that way) and use a zigzaggy stitch at the seams. And have fun with it.

You can find the tutorial here. Now you know what I want to do? Sew some really comfortable underwear. Oh yeah. LOVE.

Tomorrow ? Love of new friends and what they do.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Making Marvel

mar·vel Pronunciation (märvl)
1. One that evokes surprise, admiration, or wonder. See Synonyms at wonder.
2. Strong surprise; astonishment.
v. mar·veled also mar·velled, mar·vel·ing also mar·vel·ling, mar·vels also mar·vels
To become filled with wonder or astonishment.
To feel amazement or bewilderment at or about: We marveled that they walked away unhurt from the car accident.
[Middle English marvail, from Old French merveille, from Vulgar Latin *miribilia, alteration of Latin mrbilia, wonderful things, from neuter pl. of mrbilis, wonderful, from mrr, to wonder, from mrus, wonderful; see smei- in Indo-European roots.]

I am sitting on our bed, watching a little bit of Martha Speaks (I love that dog because she uses interesting words in her dialogue like loquacious and taciturn) with Owen. It is raining, Mace is sleeping in with his Daddy in their room and O and I are reviewing our latest haul form the La Verne library. He missed the weekly trip due to yet another unidentified virus that left him fevered and coughing all yesterday afternoon. He seems totally revived now and he is currently explaining to me the story behind The Caboose That Got Loose, a book I originally read to them over a year ago.

And I realize that he will be three in a few months. He vehemently denies the age of three, insisting he will be four, sometimes even five. He has some weird bias against three. He skips it every time he counts. But I think what strikes me is that he counts. Not accurately, and sometimes in this odd repetitive circle from 5 to 9 and over again, but he has the basic concept. And now he reads to himself, entertained by a story that we have riffed on at bedtime, a story that has now become his own.
boy I
This child of mine sings in his sleep, it is not melodious at all, instead a deep ahhh, ahhing that he started in infancy. I know this singing well as in the last few months I am usually sleeping with him. It is odd, but I love it. Sometime in the night, not every night, but most, we end up with a small child curled between us, or I in his room, warm and silent until he sings, his solid body close, the only time of quiet in my son, with my son. And though as an infant I refused to have them in my bed, now that they are grown bigger I find it hard to imagine that day when they will be too big to shelter in my bed, in my arms.

Mace is such a different story. He lays his head down and rarely wakes, even as his brother yells full in his ear "mom, get in here". He sometimes wants to cuddle, but sleeps like a wild cat...beds down like one too. He is all elbows and knees, flailing. Once he even punched Tim in the nose in the dead of night. He, who gave us the most sleepless nights as an infant, drifts into his sleep peacefully with his old blanket wrapped securely around his chest and his "mama-made" blanket tangled around other parts.
boy II
I had not intended to make this a post about sleep. It isn't really. It is mostly about marvel. Marveling how small delicate creatures like this become small boys, versions of their grown selves. I watch as they consume knowledge and ideas, learn concepts and behaviors, mirror our actions and create their own.

I worry too, as we watch the dawning of true twin on twin aggression, where full face punches have become de rigeur when a fight breaks out. We watch as O reveals his natural wrestler's instincts, taking his brother down with a swipe to the leg. Or Mace shows his cunning side, running away as wounded when he was instigator. And it exhausts me and I lose patience and snap, bellowing out for peace as a little one scampers out of the room with bottom lip protruding, going willingly to the safe haven of his room 'time out'.

I worry as the school situation we are in starts to disintegrate, a classroom full of boys, 9 to be exact, where the only two little ladies are swallowed by the tide of miniature testosterone-laden boys, a few with (dare I say it) lax parents who think their bruisers are cute. I listen as they tell me the "mean kids" at school make them want to stay home, as O tells me he played with toys today at school. But that is a topic for another post.

The worry intertwines with the marvel, doesn't it? I have kept most of the worry at bay in these years. I find it does not help me to dwell on whether I am doing it right, there is no right. Instead, I try to focus on the now. On the fact that a child that once would not sleep through the night will now not wake up unless we go it and help him welcome the day (just like his Daddy). And I can marvel at the fact that my son, the one who once would not meet my eye, that seemed to prefer looking at the architecture of a room now only prefers to sleep sharing my pillow.

It is precious and fleeting, the hard and the good. It changes day to day, moment to moment. But I still find it hard to believe that three years ago I lay in this same bed, where I sit now typing and eating toast with my quiet morning companion reading his library books, and I willed them to stay in just a bit longer, to wait to enter this world. I can see now why they were so eager to be here, when there is just so very much to marvel at.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Making on Thursday

Today after I dropped the boys off at school, I did something I really needed to do. I turned off the computer and the ringer, turned up some NPR and started sewing.

I spent the last few days clearing the recesses of the house while listening to the Adicts (that is one way to psych yourself up to clean a bathroom used by two semi-potty trained boys), ignoring craft for cleaning, focusing on finding some clarity in a home that was starting to feel overwhelmingly cluttered. Once a semblance of order was restored, I gave myself permission to play and it felt oh so good.

I have always meant to quilt something for our room, our bed, and I decided to just go to my stash, cut 4 inch squares from any fabric in the stash and start chain piecing them without rhyme or reason.

I always hesitate to quilt as it seems too intimidating; color and pattern, theory and tone. So I just said, pa-shaw. It is for my eyes only, it cannot be all bad as I love all the bits and pieces that comprise my fabric stash. So far I have had fun learning (or maybe just making up?) my chain piecing, pressing and leaving the duos aside until I make enough.


The quilt will be based loosely onthis lovely one I found on FLickr. If my math serves me right, I need about 900 squares. Well, at least I am one third there. I intend for it to be a lightly batted summer quilt.

And then, I do not know if you noticed on the side bar, but this month has been declared the month of the BOY. The very first tutorial was a sweet little shirt with fold over shoulders. It is perfect for using up all those t-shirts I cannot convince Tim to donate. Today I sewed my first knit shirt for the boys.

And I can say it was fun. I just finished and they have yet to try it on as they are fast asleep, but it sure looks cute. I love that it is made from a t-shirt Tim bought on our last Canada trip where the boys were (um) made, let's say. (Oh, how I wish we were in Canada for the Olympics). I see many more of these coming off the needle. And I did it all on the regular old sewing machine. I tried a serger, but was immediately confused so I switched to a stretch stitch on my machine and it seems to work just fine.

And last but not least, I finally ditched my terrible knitting mojo and find myself with an almost complete set of hand warmers. I tried and tried last week, and failed and failed. I ripped out whole lace sections of this pattern, not pleased with the look. I neglected swatching and came away with a ridiculous paw of a mitt, not suitable for my friend's delicate hand. But now, ah, I have this.

The softest warm simple design with a motif from this pattern. And I can rest, happy with a day that brought some new skills, a new shirt and a nice knit.

Thanks, Thursday, I really needed that.