20 October 2007

Happy Things

Flowers from someone special... just because.

Lace in pure silk (and prettier colors than my camera captured).

New patterns waiting to become rewards for too many hours of work.

15 October 2007

What can be prettier than Spangles?

His wardrobe was extensive - very extensive - not strictly classical perhaps, nor quite new, nor did it contain any one garment made precisely after the fashion of any age or time, but every thing was more or less spangled; and what can be prettier than spangles? It may be objected that they are not adapted to the daylight, but everybody knows that they would glitter if there were lamps; and nothing can be clearer than that if people give fancy balls in the day-time , and the dresses do not show quite as well as they would by night, the fault lies solely with the people who give the fancy balls, and is in no wise chargeable on the spangles. - Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

My great-grandmother was a crafter, specifically a sequin crafter. She made all of us those felt Christmas stockings that feature cute little scenes of Santa and his elves decorated with beads and sequins. I used to buy them whenever I saw them on sale at the craft store, thinking I’d be clever and make them for the next generation of the family. The next generation is nine now and still no sequin stocking. Lots of kits in the closet, but not a stocking to stuff.

Eh, such is life…

She also made bedazzelled ornaments. I seem to remember that she really pulled out all the stops on those. Rich jewel tones, velvet ribbons, luxurious satin balls that were heavy enough to pull down the tree branch when they were hung. They were like magical sea urchins with all the beads and pins sticking out everywhere. I was always afraid to touch them because they looked so fragile when they’d catch the light and sparkle.

A few years ago on one of my craft kit clearance aisle forays, I found boxes of these ornaments. Simple and rather plain compared to the ones she’d made, but right there in craft kit form with a clearance sticker which meant I could buy them without any guilt. I wasn’t really getting into a new craft, just carrying on the family tradition. Anything on clearance is a good purchase, right? I’ll just put the stockings away and work on them next year because right now, there’s this shiny, sequiny, beady thing that I want to do. I’d have made a good magpie.

I intended to give these to the girls in the family last year, even had the touching moment all planned. Everyone would open their little gift bag with a note about carrying on Mimi’s tradition and we’d hang my grandmother’s on the tree immediately and… well, my grandmother was the only one who actually received an ornament and I think in the chaos of the holiday, we never got it on the tree. Everyone else just got a note about how Mimi was always on top of things but we seem to have lost that family trait so gifts would be coming… sometime. I don’t even give myself a timeline anymore since I’ve been promising that stocking for nine years and I certainly don’t see it happening this year either.

Last weekend I had one of those evenings where I wanted to do something crafty, but nothing that I had out was appealing. You know when you have the munchies and you just stand there in front of the fridge, hoping that the Chinese leftovers are going to be appealing this time and they’re not so you go to the cabinet and yeah, oatmeal isn’t going to cut it either? Those nights where you just keep smacking your lips hoping that you’ll divine if you want salty or sweety, crunchy or creamy but all you figure out is that you want something and gosh darnit, you want it now. As sad as it, my craft room is actually more stocked than my kitchen so it’s pretty easy to go wandering in there and come out with a winner. Crunchy to creamy and everything in between, I’ve got it covered. So in I wandered, wanting something, anything that wasn’t lace knitting or clothes mending that I didn’t want to face. My crafty modus operandi of late has been to grab the first box I see and pull something out. Kinda makes craft night a little more of an adventure when you don’t know if you’ll be busting out the hot glue gun or the hammer.

Pretty sure this was not the way of my great-grandmother.

In fact, from what I remember, her sequins were all pretty neatly arranged and only pulled out at night, when there wasn’t a chance that any of us annoying kids would make her spill the bugle beads all over the floor. Well, it only takes a few generations for a classy family to lose all that class. Now I just tell people to wear shoes in the house because not only have I spilled beads all over, but they’re probably mixing with the needles I’ve broken and blocking pins that are likely under the table.
Eh, such is life...

The whole point being that I spent some time reviving a family craft. I got it. I see why she enjoyed doing it. I see why she used velvet ribbon and bright colors and probably told us not to touch them when they were sparkling on the tree. For now, I’m resisting the urge to run out and pick up pins and beads. Shoot, knowing our family, someone probably has Mimi’s sequin stash somewhere just waiting to be unearthed. I’ll just send these out and be proud of finishing a few more of last year’s Christmas gifts. There are many, many more new crafts awaiting me in the messy, messy room so who knows what project may be discovered next. Macrame, anyone?
Only if it has spangles...

14 October 2007

Mmm... mmm... good

I just had to mark the date. Today I finally got to bust out the fall handknits. O Clapotis, how I have missed you.

A good day for some baking.

Scrumptious coconut bread, warm from the oven with a little butter and a latte. Oh yes, it really is that good. (I upped the cinnamon to a heaping tablespoon. Me likey cinnamon.)

13 October 2007

Like a Turtle

Lately, I’ve been feeling quite hen-pecked. Every time I walk into my office or open my email or answer the telephone, someone seems to be there, hand out, waiting for something I should’ve given them weeks ago. It’s not that I blame them, really, as I do honestly owe all these people all these things. Many of these things I actually want to provide, like gifts for people I care about or the fun treats I get to put in the mail this week as a thanks for stopping by my corner of the internet. Don’t let this secret get out, but I don’t even mind writing and completing work despite my never-ending complaints. It’s just all the asking for it, the reminders of things I haven’t accomplished, the little notices that oh yes, we caught you with your proverbial pants down and we know you’re behind on life and let this serve as an email of shame for your ineptitude.

(Dramatic much?)

Anyway, all that whining was just to say that I’ve been hiding from the world as much as possible, retreating like a turtle into a tiny corner of the couch where I can just knit in silence and pretend like I don’t have to deal with all these problems. Well, until the guilt kicks in and I run around trying to check things off the list.

Of course, checking things off the list means that new things are stealthily waiting, just anticipating their chance to jump back onto your list…

…which is why I’ve taken to sending emails very late at night, so there’s little chance to get an immediate reply that asks you to do it again or change this or take on some new project. It’s like a game, really. Hit the send button and turn the computer off really fast so for a few hours at least, you get to breathe easier, knowing that you’ve put something on someone else’s list and until they read it, you’re safe and free.

It’s also why I’m extraordinarily happy to visit the post office lately. When the cheerful postal worker calls me up to the register, she has no idea how much she really is helping me by taking the package or envelope out of my hands. Or why I almost let out a little cheer when I was able to drop off SIX very large shopping bags at Goodwill. Here, take a bit of guilt and oppression with my ugly sweater stash. No really, thank you. We probably shouldn’t get into the depraved thrill I get when I take out the trash and recycling. Every piece of paper that I can add to the pile is one less piece of paper for me to think about. And that is a very beautiful thing. Oh yes, garbage man, I did wink at you and thank my lucky stars for sanitation engineers everywhere.

Ahem, but back to that checking things off the list…

Wedding was in June…

Gift was mailed in October…

I know I read somewhere that you get a full year after the “I do’s” to get the gift to the newlyweds. Please don’t ask me to cite this as I’m a little put out on the whole footnote concept at the moment, but trust me, I get a year. And most of the time, I’m a gonna use all 365 days of that year before I stick a bow on anything. You can thank me for this knowledge later when you too need a year to complete a gift or even find the time to run by Williams Sonoma for a gift card.

Anyway, the details…

Pattern: Turning Twenty
Fabric: Flannel from JoAnn’s
Quilter: Terry M., I think

Now to make sure I don’t take a full year to send Christina her prize from the blog contest! Thanks to everyone for stopping by and leaving a comment. These are the emails that make me keep opening the account! Back to hiding on the couch. Don’t tell anyone that you saw me emerge.