Archive for August, 2008

Highlights of the week

It’s Friday. 

I thought I’d hit the highlights of the week, because I have nothing better to write.  Sorry.  The brain is mush by this point and all I can think about is curling up in my jammies and reading Harry Potter. 

*  Earlier this week, as Lance and I were watching food porn, Addie walked up to me and said abruptly, “It’s not nice to call people knucklehead” and walked away.  A Public Service Announcement brought to you by Addie Murphy.

*  It was dark one night and we were driving back home and Emma and Addie were chatting away in the backseat.  We overheard Emma say, “What did you say?  My hearsight isn’t working too good.” 

*  I figured out what to do with old wool sweaters and a needle felter and came up with this cool stuff:

A coaster (Kamryn, pretend you didn't see this, ok?)

A coaster (Kamryn, pretend you didn't see this, ok?)

 

*  We were given a Toyota 4Runner.  One of Lance’s buddies just up and gave him an entire vehicle…for free…to have…for no reason.  We’ve been hot roddin it all over town, cleaning it up and wastin gas.  The girls call it “The Van”.  Here’s a picture:

Our new vehicle

Our new vehicle

 

All in all, not a bad week!  Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!

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How to make felted coasters

*This shall be first in a series of who knows how many (until I run out of ideas, I guess)*

A few months ago, as I was sitting in Barnes and Noble, perusing yarn porn, I came across a whole new crafting idea:  felting.  There were tons of books on wet felting, needle felting, felting supplies, felting crafts…it was a whole new world.  I emailed my cousin in Alaska, Trinette, and asked her if she had ever tried it.  She blew me away with her generosity by sending me a whole new needle felting kit, and I was so excited.  Except, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it.  So it sort of sat in my craft box, mocking me until I figured it out.

I was online one day, looking through craft porn, and came across the idea of felting coasters.  In fact, this website boasted of using old sweaters as the felting material.  I found an old 100% wool sweater of Lance’s that I knew he wouldn’t mind sacrificing to the cause, and I chucked it in the washer and dryer to shrink it.  It was a delicious feeling–causing intentional harm to an item of clothing.  I highly recommend it.

I’ve taken some photos, so you, my visually minded readers can follow along.

Here were my supplies:

Two wool sweaters shrunken for crafting use.  The one on the right is what I'll use for this demonstration.

Two wool sweaters shrunken for crafting use. The one on the right is what I will use for this demonstration.

 
Other supplies

Other supplies

 

You can see from the photo that you’ll also need a brush looking thingy (which is the mat you place your fabric on), a needle felter (the green and yellow tubey thingy which has five barbed needles tucked inside), a pair of scissors and a ball of yarn. 

 

So first I cut the red sweater across the bottom and made four rough squares.  For this particular project, I wasn’t going for total symmetry, so my squares aren’t perfect.  I kind of liked it that way.  You can measure and cut, though, to suit your own needs.  I then laid a square on the brush/mat and began to make my design with some yarn.  I think, technically, it would have been better to separate the yarn into strands, but I wanted to be bold and daring and just try it with the whole strand of yarn first.  That’s just the way I roll.

Ready to start needle felting

Ready to start needle felting

Here’s when you begin using the needle felter.  It unlocks, and when you push down on it, the needles pierce the fabric and combined with the pressure of the barbed needles and the courseness of the fibers, they begin to stick together, which is “felting”.  You are, in essence, making one piece of fabric.  It’s way cool.  You’ll need to keep your needle felter vertical the whole time, no slanting movements, which can cause the fragile barbed needles to break and might pierce your fingers.  I’m told that’s no fun.  Needles and fingers do not play well together.  You just make the felter pierce the fabric a bazillion times in a row until you see the yarn is sticking.  It goes fairly fast and it’s relatively easy. 
Using the needle felter

Using the needle felter

 
Starting to take shape

Starting to take shape

 

The final product

The final product

 

And if you’re curious as to what the back of the coaster looks like: 
The back, you can see how the fibers of the yarn came through

The back, you can see how the fibers of the yarn came through

 

I started with a swirly design, but I also wanted the other three coasters to be different, so I came up with these designs:
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Ahem, that’s supposed to be a leaf, not a banana. 
 
So I plan on heading to my local thrift store and finding other colors and designs of wool sweaters (hint:  do not buy super-wash wool, this will not shrink) and felting them.  The sky’s the limit:  coasters, pillows, scarves, bags, hats…I can’t wait to try them all.
 
As for this particular set of coasters, I plan on giving them away as a Christmas present to *cough* my sister *cough*
 
Hope if any of you so desire, you’ll find these instructions easy and helpful!  And thank you again, Trinette, if not for your generosity, I wouldn’t have been able to do this!
   
   
*Update*  Here’s two other sets of coasters, these are two layers of wool circles, joined by stitching a blanket stitch.
Orangey coaster goodness

Orangey coaster goodness

Two-toned coaster goodness

Two-toned coaster goodness

I’m thinking I need to find a design other than flowers…

Allow me to introduce you to my new best friend

I call it Nectar from the Chocolate Gods.

Chocolate and peanut buttery goodness

Chocolate and peanut buttery goodness

 

I shall write the Hershey’s company and thank them.  Well done, chocolate engineers, well done.

Warning! Serious blog up ahead!

You have been duly warned.

This morning, amidst the chaotic getting ready, as I was slinging cereal into bowls and ushering my girls to the table, Emma asked me a question.  She didn’t ask for cut up bananas, she didn’t ask for the Strawberry Shortcake bowl, she didn’t even ask for some juice.

She asked me, “How young were you when you stopped living with your daddy?”

Time halted for a few seconds as I processed this question in my addled brain.  “I was eight.”  I could see the wheels turning in her mind, the fact that she’ll turn seven in just a couple of weeks.  I felt the need to expound a little.  “You see, my daddy really liked something called alcohol and when he drank that all the time, it made him into a not-nice person.  So after a very long time, Gimma took us away from him to protect us.”

Emma responded, “So you really left him.”

“Ummm, well he left our house.”

By this point I was kind of shaken.  How do you explain all this to a six year old?

*Aside-this is one of the hardest parts of parenting in my opinion.  Having to explain the ugly parts of life to my children.  I remember the first time I had to explain to them that strangers could be bad people, and that’s why we don’t tell them things about us, we don’t take candy from strangers, etc.  I remember once trying to explain in a gentle way that there were children who had been taken away, kidnapped, and some of those kids were never returned to their parents and that is why listening to mommy and daddy is so important.  Their little eyes were wide open, glued to mine.  I felt horrible, like I had just shrunk the world a little, some of the majesty and glory had been taken away.  When Emma was five, I was tucking her into bed one night and she did one of her ninja-shock-Mommy-with-a-question.  “Mommy, why do you call Gimpa Joe and not Daddy?”  I answered, “He’s not my daddy, he married Gimma after I was born.”  Which naturally led to “where is your daddy?”  In my mind was a snide answer good question but outwardly I said, “Well, my mommy and daddy got divorced when I was little.”  And there it was, a new word -divorce.  Which led to explaining what divorce was.  Which then led to reassurance that Lance and I were not going to divorce.  Emma calmly told me that now she understood that Gimpa was not her real grandfather.  To which I responded that even if he wasn’t actually related, he was still her Gimpa and loved her. 

So back to this morning.  My mind is whirling away, trying to find just the right words to say in the few minutes we had left to get ready and leave the house.  I go over to the table to wipe spilled milk and Emma leans over and hugs my leg, squeezing me and says “You’re the best mommy in the whole world.”

Sometimes I’m amazed at the differences between my childhood and my kids’ childhood.  I had an amazing mother and grandmother and grandfather.  Their roles in my life almost negates the crappiness of my father.  And while it’s not something I dwell on, his absence in my life is still there.  He is in this world, walking and living and breathing, and yet he knows almost nothing about me.  He doesn’t know what kind of movies I like, what my beverage of choice is (hello, Diet Coke), he probably doesn’t even know my husband’s name.  And that is so strange to me.  Because my husband is such a fantastic father.  He knows everything about my kids.  He’s so patient with them, lets them wrestle with him after a long day’s work, will sit and read with them and tells them everyday how special they are.  And my girls eat it up. 

Once, Lance and Emma were sitting on the couch and Lance was hugging Emma, her face turned my direction.  She had her eyes closed, a small smile on her face.  Lance was telling her how special she was, how proud he was of her, all kinds of sweet things.  Her smile got deeper and deeper and you could practically read her face, how happy she was.  I went in my room and cried.  I cried because I was so happy that my girls had such an amazing father.  That already, in their short life they’ve had such a great relationship with him and you can tell they feel secure in that.  I wasn’t crying for me, I was crying in joy for them. 

Occassionally though, maybe once a year, it hits me that I’m 32 years old and have lived most of my life without a father.  My dad lived with us until I was 8.  My sister was 1, just a wee baby we all fought over holding when he packed his bags and left.  She has no real memories of him.  I wonder, is that better?  Is it better to have memories of someone who has walked out and chosen a bottle of cheap liquor over you or to just have a void of memories.  What’s better? 

I wonder, too, if I met my father today and had a conversation with him, would I like him?  Would we get along?  Would he annoy the crap out of me?  Would I hate him?  I don’t hate him now, at least I try very hard not to.  There was a time in my life when things began to define, and he happened to call me.  In that phone conversation, I told him that I forgave him of any wrongdoing he had ever done to me.  I was forgiving him because I wanted closure from all that pain and anguish and I was now in a relationship with God, who was now my Father, my Daddy.  Two weeks later, my father locked himself in a house and set it on fire.  He was drunk of course, and he made it out ok.  We haven’t spoken since. 

So here I was, wiping up spilled milk and all of these thoughts were whirling in my mind.  Emma went back to eating her Shredded Wheat and chatting with Addie. 

It’s so interesting to me how well I know my kids, and yet there is so much of me that they don’t know.  Isn’t that strange?  Emma has to ask me how old I am.  She doesn’t sit and watch my favorite movies or read my favorite books.  She never met my grandfather, who was my hero.  And I have no idea if she’ll ever meet my father. 

What a weird Wednesday!

Yearbook yourself

I’ve been, ahem, working hard all day.  A friend gave me this awesome link and here’s me in different yearbook photos.  Narcissism is so much fun.

Me, circa 1962

Me, circa 1962

Diggin the do.  Just how much hairspray did people use back then?  Can we say OZONE LAYER??

1966

1966

 Let’s put aside the hairspray can and pick up a TEASING BRUSH.

1978

1978

I pity the foo’ who makes fun of my fro. 

1980

1980

 Nice, perms have become stylish.

1984

1984

 Aaannnddd, we’re back to using hairspray. 

1986

1986

Introducing Jheri curls.

 

1992

1992

What I would have looked like right around my high school senior year. 

1994

1994

Always wanted that long permed hair look.  At least I can see it, even if I didn’t live it.  Such fun.

I’m all for causes getting more exposure…

but this takes the cake.

What are your thoughts, people?

You know your life is boring when…

…you take pictures of the scarves you’ve knit the last couple of months.  Hello-I need some outdoor hobbies.

A whole lotta knitting going on

A whole lotta knitting going on

 

 Most of the yarn I found at Big Lots (totally my favorite store) for either $1.00 or $1.50/skein.  That stripey one is my first attempt at stripes.  And you can’t tell, but it’s SOO soft.  Are you bored yet?  Yeah, me too.  Bored enough to take ANOTHER picture.

Same scarves...

Same scarves...

 

…Sorry.  It’s Friday.  By Friday, the brain is pudding, practically dripping from my nose.  Nothing interesting going on except August is almost over (!) and I haven’t even started on Christmas shopping.  I always at least start over the summer.  Too bad I’ve already given scarves away to every family member.  Scarf, anyone?