Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sleepy McSleepykins

I'm exhausted, but in a good way.

Today was a huge training/presentation
that I designed for about 20 staff on communicating our mission. I've been working on it for about 2 months with a couple of other staff members and the purpose was really to get everyone in our organization (including people in fundraising, finance, administration) comfortable understanding and talking about our mission, programs & services.

We started at about 10 a.m., and we didn't finish until 1 (a little longer than planned), but the feedback has been very good. It's such a good feeling to hear that something you've worked really hard on and that you believe in is really valued and appreciated by others. People who've been here for years said that they learned so much today.

People who've known me know that I've had a really difficult time at my job over the last couple of years, but the last three months have been really good. Knock on wood.

Monday, July 25, 2005

bouncing off the walls with excitement

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

I just had my first article proposal accepted! Theoretically, come October, I will be a published author. I've submitted a proposal for an article on looking for inspiration in vintage patterns to Crochet Me, and it was accepted for the October/November issue! Here's a rough idea of the article:

The title of the article would be "Everything Old is New Again," and it would focus on vintage patterns and the possibilities of creating modern, fun garments from these patterns. I believe it's too easy to focus on the hideously ugly patterns of yore. But by looking at the lines of the garments, rather than the outdated color palettes and crunchy yarn choices, modern crocheters can use vintage patterns today. Fashion is all about revisiting the past and updating it with a twist. I can't endorse the current 80s revival, having lived through it the first time, but it's an example of a recycling of fashion. Much of 70s fashion was merely a reinterpretation of the long clean lines of the 30s.

And here is part of the response I received from Kim, Crochet Me's editor:

Thank you for sending me your idea! I absolutely love it -- especially since many non-crocheters have a pigeon-holed view of crochet as "hippy" or simply out-of-date. Busting open people's imaginations by giving them some inspiration and information to retool vintage patterns would be fabulous.

Even more fabulous -- she thinks there is enough there to justify a multi-part series! I can't think about work right now, I'm too excited. Hurrah!

Walking the floor over ... yarn

The FiberArts Market up in Oakland (offered in conjunction with the CGOA and the knitting equivalent which I can't remember the name of for the life of me) was fun and I dropped loads of cash. Smaller than Stitches West, which I went to earlier this year, but also less packed with crazy people. Jenny was working for the Stitch Diva for a few hours, so I had plenty of time to walk the floor (hence the post title). What did I find out? Well, apparently, crochet & spinning are hot because there seemed to be a lot of interest in demonstrations. And, to no one's surprise, the CGOA still seems to have no idea how to reach out to younger, more fashion forward crocheters.

But, soft! What light from yonder window breaks? It is handspun, hand-dyed yarn in a plethora of colors and textures. I found incredible yarn of the same weight and feel as recycled sari silk, but which was made of banana leaf fiber (bought 4 skeins to go with some great Art Fibers yarn I bought back in December). I purchased a huge hank of hand-dyed loopy mohair -- 8 ounces, 900 yards for less than $30. That's a whole sweater! I also got a hank in the same colorway (brown, green, gold & purple) in a tencel ribbon (400 yards) that will make a fab tank. I also visited the booths of stores I'd purchased from at Stitches, West Valley Alpacas and Lisa Souza Knit & Dyeworks, and got more yarn to complete my (yet-to-be-designed) hippy cardigan. And I found a few vintage (1970s) knit magazines to add to my collection (not that I need more, not after visiting Fern, but an obsession is an obsession). Ooh, and Jenny picked up an advance copy of the Stitch Diva's new crocheted bolero for me -- I'll finally use the Habu Textiles bamboo I picked up in New York last year!

Jenny also go to meet Kim, the editor of CrochetMe magazine. Jenny will have a pattern in the upcoming August/September issue (it's her swinging hippy vest), and I wrote the description (well, dictated over the phone while at a WeHo SnB meeting is more like it), so be sure to check it out when it's up (I'm sure I'll post about it). Jenny has inspired me to submit some articles and maybe even a pattern or two, so I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Insomnia sucks. Tylenol PM, which has been such a friend to me in past experiences, is letting me down. Tuesday night, it seemed to help, but not last night. I finally fell asleep sometime around 2:30 a.m., and the Deano decided to start whining loudly in our bedroom around 5:00 a.m. I fell back asleep until the alarm went off at 7:30. I know some people have a hard time staying asleep, but that's not the biggest issue for me (Deano not withstanding). For me, it's the difficulty in getting to sleep that is driving me slowly insane.

Other than the insomnia, I'm doing pretty well. I'm heading up to San Jose tomorrow to see my old dance studio's recital. My friends Carrie, Christa & Allison still teach there, and since I didn't get to see much of them in Tahoe (especially since Carrie didn't go), and I have a free weekend, I decided to head up there. While there, I'll check out the Fiberarts Market (
sponsored by TKGA and CGOA) in Oakland. My sister Jenny is going to be working the show for the Stitch Diva, whom she knows through the store she works at. Not that I need more yarn, but Lisa Souza Knits is going to be there, and I love the yarn I bought from her at the last shows, and I need more if I'm going to actually make the hippy-inspired cardigan.

Also, this weekend I will be able to give Allison & Iggy the Pretty Princess cardigan for Miss Margaret Allison. The colors (especially the green) aren't exactly true in the photo, but you get the idea. I've knit & crocheted blankets before and I've sewn baby clothes, but this is my first crocheted baby wear item.

My second baby wear item, the knit sweater from Rebecca, I ripped out. It just wasn't thrilling me anymore -- not because of the pattern, but because of the yarn I was using. I'm trying to go through stash yarn, and the combo I was using just wasn't working. So, instead of going to bed at a decent hour, I decided to work on the "denim" vest pattern from "Candy Babies." I'm using a cotton chenille in yellow, beige, brown & green that I made a lacy tank top from, and I have a beige fluffy GGH yarn ( I can't remember which one) for the edging. The color combo is turning out kind of camoflage-ish, so this vest will be for the baby of Rich's best friend, Stephen, who is expecting a boy (well, his wife is expecting... you know what I mean).

Got to run into a meeting now.

Monday, July 18, 2005

hungry, hungry hippo

I am feeling pretty much like a blob lately. I'm getting next to no exercise lately and I know it is affecting my mood and energy levels (although the ongoing lack of sleep isn't exactly helping). I stated at SnB last week that I was going to start walking to and from work (2 miles each way), but I haven't managed it yet. I'll try it tomorrow -- if I'm in agony, I can always walk to a bus stop. But I feel so fat & lazy when I drive to work -- it's barely enough time to listen to one whole news story on NPR, and I don't need my car during the day (for the most part) so it's kind of pointless to drive every day. My goal is to consistently walk to and from work twice a week. I'm also planning on signing up for kickball again for the fall season, although I'm not sure if that really counts as exercise. It' s got the same pacing as softball, i.e. a lot of waiting around and then some frenzied running & throwing.

Not a lot of crafty stuff was done over the weekend, since it was the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. 652 pages, I think? Let's see, it arrived at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening and I finished at 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning. And now we have to wait at least 2 more years for the final installment.

I am working on a knit baby sweater from the most recent baby issue of Rebecca magazine. This is a baby stuff summer. Obviously, there is little Miss Margaret Allison, and there is the currently gender unknown Reng baby, and there is Rich's best friend, Stephen and his wife Lee's (as yet unnamed) boy all due this summer/fall (November, August & September, respectively). Rich has chosen the "denim" jacket from the Candy Babies crochet book as the project we should make for Stephen & Lee's baby, so I need to get cracking on that. No rest for the people whose friends are now beginning to breed!

Friday, July 15, 2005

can't sleep. clowns will eat me.

I think I need a good long sleep. I'm starting to feel this depression (about money, job, etc.) creep into my head like it seems to do every 3 or 4 months and I think I need a good sleep to wake up with some positive feelings.

I've been staying up way too late. Normally, I'm in bed by 12:30 (late, I know) and I wake up around 8 a.m. to get to work by 9 a.m. This week, I've been staying up until 1:30 - 2:00 a.m. every night, even when I know I need sleep. Wednesday was the worst. I stayed up until almost 2 a.m., went to bed and couldn't fall asleep until almost 4 a.m. Rich had to have a sleep observation study that night (possible sleep apnea) at Cedars, so he was gone, but he came home at about 5:45 a.m. He had to call and wake me up to get in because I had locked the deadbolt and for some reason, he doesn't have a key to the deadbolt (never mind that we've lived in this apartment for 8 years). I fell back asleep and woke up around 8:30.

Whenever I get stressed or depressed, I get insomnia. It's the worst thing in the world, especially after a few days. I explain it to people that it's like my brain is having a conversation with itself and it won't shut up, even when I want it to. I think about knitting patterns, work, puzzles, just about anything that you don't want to be thinking about at 3 a.m.

But this lack of sleep has contributed to a lot of crocheting. Last night I finished the Pretty Princess sweater. I have pictures, but I haven't downloaded them yet. It turned out even cuter than I had hoped for. The body is a hot pink cotton, and the blanket stitch edge is a bright green. The blanket stitch has an interesting story because I had finished the stitch all around the edges and the cuffs before I realized I was using the wrong yarn. It was 1 a.m. on Wednesday night and I couldn't figure out why the green yarn looked so yellow. Well, I was accidentally using the yarn for the Japanese sunburst tank, which is a greenish gold (think 70's Harvest Gold). It looked awful against the pink. So I had to cut it out and redo it. Hence the staying up until 2:00 a.m. Last night I added crocheted ties to the front and a white crochet flower to the lapel. I promise pictures on Monday.

And, because I'm psycho, I started another baby sweater last night. At least little Miss Margaret Allison is giving me a reason to go through my stash. And she's giving me something to do while I'm not sleeping.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

money makes the world go 'round

money comes in, it goes out. Unfortunately, it seems to be going out faster now than it comes in. $250 for Deano's latest vet bill. $100 last night for groceries (what the heck did I buy? I mean, I know we had steak last night for dinner, but come on...). $620 for airplane tickets to Seattle for a wedding in 2 weeks. $600 for the lodge in Tahoe over the 4th. We want to go back to New Mexico for vacation in October, so that's at least $500 in airfare.

Oh, and Richard is finally getting some medical issues looked at (which is a good thing), but his crap-ass insurance coverage means we'll be out a few thousand dollars. The future doesn't seem any brighter than the present.

And both our cars have more than 130,000 miles on them, so we should be looking at new (new to us, at least) vehicles. And, we really want to be able to buy a house/condo/refridgerator box within the next couple of years, so we need to save at least $10,000 to cover closing costs (I know more would be better, but $10,000 seems impossible already). And we need to make considerably more money to afford the $2,300 a month mortgage/PMI/HOA. And we're also planning on starting a family within the next two years, and god know that babies aren't cheap. And did I mention that I'd like to not have to work full-time once we have kids? Yeah. And, one more thing, we want to go to London next year for vacation, since that is one of Rich's "Have to Go Before I Die" places and we'd rather do it without kids. And the weak dollar isn't exactly helping our bargain shopping (thanks for nothing, Bush).

It's all a bit overwhelming. We need to make some sacrifices if we're going to be able to pull all of these things off, but neither Rich or I are very big on giving things up. I want to enjoy my life. I insist on multiple vacations every year so that I don't burn out (anymore than I already have). I'd rather use Noro than TLC. Now I don't mind buying my Noro from eBay, but I still want Noro.

Maybe I need to borrow Crazy Aunt Purl's budget worksheet. This is definitely no fun.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Picture page, a picture page

Aha! I have finally uploaded some photos, so now I'll throw them at you all at once!

First and foremost, some photos of my lovely Deano. He was meant to be a model -- anytime I break out the camera, he looks right at the camera and poses. He actually waits to move until he sees the flash!

Even when he's not feeling well, he is pretty darn adorable. Actually, he's probably cuter when he's sick because he just wants to be around me because otherwise Doyle just wants to attack him.

Ok, you're probably bored of the cat photos by now, but I had to post one more. Non cat people probably think I anthropamorphize (sp?) my animals, but doesn't Deano look like he is so over the whole photo thing?

Ok, on to other, more crafty shots. Here is a photo of Allison in her Spinnerin shrug up in Tahoe. Isn't she cute? I know she doesn't feel cute right now, but I think she looks adorable,

And here is the Seraphina shawl the day we left Tahoe (note the scary duck quilt -- gives me shivers just thinking of it).

And this is the Japanese sunburst tank. It's turning out nicer than I thought it would and it was super quick -- I did all of this Sunday. Doing this tank has really helped me realize how flexible crochet is for creating beautiful garments. I mean, I've crocheted for years now, but this is the first piece I've made using draping techniques (I started by following the pattern chart, but then made drastic changes to make it work for the yarn I chose and my body, which is very different from the teeny Japanese models).

kitty update

For those of you concerned about Deano's health, he's now doing fine. $250 in vet bills to find out he was just constipated (doctor visit, x-rays, urinalysis, and enema). I can't begrudge it, because even "just being constipated" could have turned into something bigger and more complicated if it hadn't been treated, but the bad kitty mommy part of me still thinks, "there went that iPod I wanted..."

On the crafty front, Hi, my name is Sara, and I have a problem. I keep starting new projects before I finish the old ones. To be fair, I started the Japanese sunburst top because I figured that the Seraphina is easy to do while talking to others, so it's a good project to bring to SnB meetings. Now I've run out of the chocolate brown Goa (my sister Jenny is sending me a couple of balls from the store she works at, Knitting Arts in Saratoga), so I can't finish the back of the Japanese tank until it arrives. What to do?

Well, my good friend Allison (the recipient of the Spinnerin shrug), called yesterday to say that the doctor is pretty sure (although not 100% because the baby's foot was in the way during the ultrasound) that she is having a girl! As soon as I heard, I broke open the "Candy Babies" book (cutest crochet stuff for babies) and looked for stuff to make. I had to start immediately. So now, I'm about halfway done with the Party Princess baby sweater (using the pink Blue Sky Organic Cotton that I originally purchased for the Marc Jacobs imitation purse -- I guess some things are more important than fashion. OMG, did I really just type that? Who am I?) I can't wait to finish it. It's bright pink and will have lime green blanket stitch around all the edges and lime green tie front. And maybe I'll add a small white flower to the front lapel. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but this is going to be so cute.

Monday, July 11, 2005

guess who's back? back again!

Woo Hoo! The firewall gods must have (temporarily) smiled on me over the weekend, because I can once again view my own blog and other Blogger blogs! *knock on wood*

This means I will try to get my photos from Tahoe & other assorted craftiness up soon. Yay!

This weekend was very relaxing, other than some kitty worry (see below). Friday night we stayed in, ordering pizza and playing Scrabble (Richard won). Saturday, we lounged around and then headed out to Cinespia for a showing of "Sunset Boulevard." While we were lining up, who should be getting out of a car, laden with cupcakes and champagne? My good friend Peggy, who has been missing from SnB for months because of her classes at OTIS, which she is attending to become a pattern maker. So we hung out with Peggy, her boyfriend Rollo, and their friends. I worked on the Seraphina until the movie started, even though it was dark, because I was cold and wanted to finish one more row so I could keep the half-finished shawl on my shoulders. We made it through the movie with relatively few incidents with the red wine (Rich switched to beer early on because if he spilled it, it was less staining. I spilled a nice zinfandel on my white hoodie and the coner of the sleeping bag of the people next to us -- they seemed drunk and/or high, so they really didn't notice). Headed home and played Scrabble (I won!).

Sunday, I didn't leave the house at all. I decided to give seraphina a break, and instead of finishing one of the many WiPs, I started a new project -- the Japanese sunburst tank. The Japanese have great crochet patterns (maybe because, as Faith noted, they don't have the same class distinction between knitting and crochet as we do, i.e. crochet=Hillbilly Knitting!), but they use crochet thread and teeny hooks. I decided to use GGH Goa (big fat yarn) in chocolate brown and Blue Sky Organic Cotton in mustard yellow. In one day, I finished the whole front, of which I am very proud. Pictures tomorrow, I promise.

Now the kitty drama, as mentioned earlier. Over the past couple of years, Deano, our plus-size cat, has developed digestive and excretory issues. He had crystals in his urine, which prevented him from peeing, and he's had see-saw bowels: diarrhea and constipation. Over the weekend, we noticed that he is straining in the litterbox (not going or only making tiny turds) and that he is attempting to poop in strange areas (the hallway, the bathroom, our bedroom). These are all symptoms of both the crystals and the see-saw bowels. So we have a vet appointment this morning at 11:15 to get him check out. I'm hoping it's just a mild case of constipation that can be fixed with a shot and some mild medicine. Rich gets so worried anytime there is anything wrong with the cats. I try to be the calm one, because there is not sense in getting stressed out when there is nothing we can do, but it is hard because we love these guys so much and they depend on us for everything and they can't tell us when they don't feel good. I'll update later with the news from the vet.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

too many projects, too little time

My eyes are bigger than my free time.

Just look at the WiP list to the right. The Seraphina shawl is almost complete, but then there are still the Marc Jacobs granny square purse, the Rowan Beach Cool Cannes tank, the Tempting sweater, the green & brown sweater girl sweater. And then there are the projects that I've purchased the yarn for, but haven't started: the sunburst tank top from a Japanese crochet magazine, the knit/crochet cardigan imitation of one of my mom's coats from her hippy days, the crochet w/sequins short sleeve cardigan (copy of one worn by Dolly Parton in "9 to 5"). And then there is the yarn that I've purchased but haven't allocated to projects yet: 5 skeins of Artfibers "Kyoto" silk/mohair blend yarn (3 blue, 2 orange), 14 skeins of Suss "Twinkle" cotton blend (fuschia), assorted Yarn Lady sale buys, and various oddballs.

And then there are the sewing projects. I owe my sister Jenny two tops, I have to finish the backing for the Stitch n Bitch Santa Monica group project (afghan), and I still have all the fabric from the fabulous Michael Levine trip.

Of course, on a fine Saturday afternoon, I am sitting inside, not knitting, crocheting or sewing, and instead, I'm updating this blog. I think I need a glass of wine.

Friday, July 08, 2005

temporary fix

Ok, now I can at least view the blogs of myself and other Blogger users. I've subscribed to Bloglines, a free online news/blog aggregator. The only problem is that I can't figure out how to view/subscribe to the comments.

And, to add to my frustration today, it would appear that my photo hosting site, Village Photos, is down (or at least, I can't view it). If anyone is reading this, could you tell me if you can see my photos in previous posts? I just need to know if this is another site that is blocked for me or if the site is down for everyone.

big brother sucks

In the ongoing suckage of my workplace trying their best to keep me from enjoying myself in the downtime between projects, I can no longer view any Blogger blogs. I can post (since the posting site is actually, instead of, but I can't even view my own blog. This sucks. There must be a way to get feeds sent through a secondary site. If anyone can help, please let me know.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

back to life, back to reality

I'm back. My Tahoe vacation (hardly a true vacation, more of a long weekend) is now over, and it's back to the grindstone. Oh, and according to Crazy Aunt Purl, I have a hellacious two years of work coming on (yes, I am a Scorpio).

I did crochet on the beach, although it was very warm and I was using Lorna's Laces Shepherd's Wool (100% superwash wool). I've made good progress on the Seraphina Shawl. I'm using the colorway Vera, which is off white, olive green & fuschia. I also added Katia Danubio in a matching olive green -- my sister Jennifer picked it up at a yarn swap and generously gave it to me. I quickly realised that my two skeins of Shepherd's Wool would not cut it, so on our way out of Tahoe yesterday, we stopped in Truckee at Jimmy Bean's Wool. They had the Vera I needed, but the dye lot is very different. The fuschia is almost purple and the green is much lighter. I'm doing my best to carefully integrate the two lots by alternating the rows with the new and old yarn (the half-ball I have left, anyway), so hopefully, it won't look too noticeable.

The Spinnerin shrug was completed, finally. The yarn I used made the shrug much more drapey than the pattern intended, so I had to tack the roll collar down to keep it in place (thanks to Melissa for the suggestion and modeling help!). I also added ties in front to keep it from sliding around too much. Pictures will be posted later.

The next project has been dreamed up (I know there are numerous WiPs on the column at the right, but this is important). It will be a joint project with Mel of Remarkable Cow and it's a wedding present for our good friends, Ryan & Sara. Well, mostly Ryan. Before I tell you what the present is, let me preface it by saying that when Mel & her husband Grant got married, Ryan got them two lamps. Two 3' tall fiberglass lamps in the shape of soft-serve ice cream cones. That light up from inside. When Rich & I got married, we received a 2' tall lawn jockey. And this is no standard issue lawn jockey. This is a Sammy Davis Jr. lawn jockey, seated on a bar stool, singing (at least posed as if to sing), snapping his fingers and holding a drink. So now, you understand why we have to make Ryan & Sara these for their wedding gifts. I can't wait.