Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yesterday and Today and why I need an Excedrin

Dear Mom,

Just in case you are worried, the yarn from yesterday's post was a cheap acrylic from the Young Lady's craft supplies. The Good Wool is put away up high, or in a closet, or in a cabinet, or behind a closed door. Or all of those things.

And because good wool was not involved, Patsy lives.

Plus the ground is too hard for grave digging.

I remember Bumper's badness peaked at about the one year mark. I remember this because I remember SOBBING on the PHONE to a COMPLETE STRANGER/dog trainer about the fact that there were multiple holes dug in the back yard among other dog-related calamities. By our best guesstimate and her behavior, I think Patsy has hit the one year mark. She is like a teenager thinking the car keys are hers, she can make the rules because she is "becoming an adult", the dog dish should always be filled and underwear cleans itself and puts itself away.

I could be confusing things with the Young Man, but whatever.

A Second ball of cheap yarn was sacrificed this afternoon- this one of the furry variety and this time Right In Front of Me. A desperate attempt at attention, which only landed Patsy in my her Sanity Saving Crate. This after a frenzy in which she grabbed a pair of my cheaters, stole my white sheep tape measure, dumped the bathroom trash and I don't know if it was a symbol of repentance or the devil in her, but I found her in the back yard with my Inspirational Thought of the Day calendar in her mouth.

I know they are related, but her Extreme naughtiness is not what I need after spending 2 hours at the middle school Parent Teacher conferences this morning. All is good- I heard all the things a mom loves to hear- 'great kid, pleasure to have in class, good grades, well- organized, yada yada yada'...... Wait!? Well ORGANIZED?....
After all that smiling and nodding and pretending that I wasn't surprised to hear that the Young Lady is well organized because clearly her bedroom is NOT, I left the school very thirsty and hungry and with a caffeine-deprived headache blooming. I stopped off at the library and had to get out of there when I realized that my brain was famished to the point that I was unable to remember my alphabet.

To celebrate the Good Reports all her teachers gave me ( and because I was starving) , the Young Lady and I met My/Our Hero for lunch, and then because there was no school and apparently the caffeine hadn't kicked in and I didn't think I had done too much already, we went shopping. For jeans. I must have gotten up on the martyr side of the bed this morning.

I took an Excedrin when I got home.


P.S. Despite everything, I did manage to get my Cowl Catcher pattern ready for purchase on ravelry and on Warm Thoughts.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Light of Day

Dear Mom,

This is what was revealed in the backyard when the sun came up this morning. (And yes, I am swallowing alot of pride revealing the desperate condition of our burned out backyard and the Patsy toys scattered about- even her chewed up swimming pool- so you can see this. Considering there has only been about an inch of rain since July, and record heat along with it, it really is a wonder there is anything green here at all. As you can see, brown grass is the least of my concerns.)


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Judy's New House -or- My Patience is Rewarded

Dear Mom,

Let me give you a little of the back story as way of explaining what I really want to show and tell. Actually there are two stories working here, and they collide.

Back story #1.

For all the years I've had my sewing machine, Judy Jetson has had to reside on a desk in the guest room, or  in the closet, or more recently, on the dining room table. All fine, but at the same time, I've been keeping my eyes open for a sewing machine cabinet that Judy could call home. Every once in a while I'd find one and it wouldn't be the right size, or the price tag was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too high. Especially when things were working just fine the way they were and there were more important things (like yarn or fabric) to spend the money on.

Back story #2.

I recently discovered a clever mitten made with felted wool which had been recycled from old sweaters. A little internet search and tahdah! I found the pattern for the mittens. Which lead to a new obsession: finding wool sweaters at the Goodwill. Carolwhosehousegotstruckbylightening warned me. "It's almost as fun as buying yarn", she said. Now I believe her. I have laundry basket overflowing with felted sweaters waiting to be turned into mittens and hats.

Back stories 1and 2 come together.

On one of my wool sweater junkets I spotted a sewing machine table, just sitting there all dusty and sad in the furniture section of the Goodwill store. I didn't have a tape measure on hand (I know!) to measure the sewing machine opening, but in my desperation I tore a piece of paper out of my calendar and turned it into a ruler of sorts. I figured it would at least let me know if Judy and the cabinet were a close fit and I could return with more specific measurements if it all looked like it might work out.
In the mean time, I purchased my wool sweaters and at the check out was handed a bright green piece of paper advertising the 50% off sale coming up.
What if?
Well, maybe.....

I got distracted while going about my business and in the process of felting wool, I remembered my notepaper/ruler and compared those measurements with Judy's. It looked like things could work. And then I don't know what came over me but I decided to wait for the sale at the Goodwill. (Honestly, I do know kind of what came over me and it is called being married to an accountant and hearing the noises he makes sometimes when he pays the bills.) I know that waiting for 1/2 off of something that I'd spent years looking for that was already dirt cheap is pretty risky, and I am not a gambler, but it was kind of like a game and I was willing to let the sewing cabinet go if I had to. I didn't tell Judy.

It must be pretty obvious at this point that my gamble paid off, or I wouldn't be telling you this story.

Last Saturday I battled the crowd, had to park across the street, (I had no idea that Goodwill sale days were so popular or I might not have taken such a risk!), waited in a line that snaked through the store and came home with Judy's new house. For $20.00!!!! There was even a sewing machine in there, but it was an ugly old thing that scared me to even think about plugging in, especially since the cord was so stiff I almost had to cut it off to get the sewing machine out of the cabinet.

Adjustments needed to be made to the opening, despite my careful measurements. It never occurred to me to measure the placement of the hinges on the back of the machine. My Hero made some adjustments to the top of the cabinet and made a new custom piece for Judy. (He called her Suzy, but we forgave him. He knows better now.)

After lightly sanding the cabinet, I brushed on 3 colors of paint. I used a creamy butter color, some terra cotta and a hydrangea blue and painted the way Daddy would have told us NOT to paint, with very little paint, brush strokes in different directions and varying degrees of coverage. After the paint dried, I lightly sanded again, placing emphasis on strategic locations and then went over the whole thing with a rag soaked in stain. I am very happy with the results.

Judy is happy. Look at that clever little shelf on the inside of the cabinet door. It is a tortoise shell sort of thing perfect for holding spools of thread and scissors.

And here is the cabinet with Judy all tucked away. For now, it works best when I can do my sewing in the dining room. (Easier to keep an eye on Patsy that way, plus there are too many wool temptations to allow Patsy in the guest room.)  Someday, if I choose to relocate her back to the guest room, the cabinet will look nice there, too. For now, I see lots of happy sewing hours in my future.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Golda's Bath

Dear Mom,
Golda has been having some serious hen-hygiene issues.  She desperately needed a bath.   Did you know that there is shampoo made especially for chickens?  


and rinse.

She was quite sweet through it all...and I believe she felt better after her bath. 

Golda spent a few hours by herself in the hospital cage, perching quietly while her feathers dried.   Marge and Gloria rushed to her side when she rejoined them.  I'm sure Golda bragged to them about her spa treatment and is now dreaming of becoming a "show chicken"!

Love, Bonnie Jo

A Wool Gathering! and . . . . I Know You're Out There Watching Me!

Dear Mom,
This past weekend was my favorite weekend of the year, A Wool Gathering at Young's Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  It is a weekend filled with all things fiber!!  My BFF Brooke, the Diva and Pipsqueak loaded into Doris and off we went for a Sunday afternoon "spin" . . . . 
Baby Alpacas . . .

Baby Bunnies. . .

Weavers of dreams . . . . 

Storytelling Musicians . . . 

A true Scottish Gentleman . . . 

Even Pirates . . .  Arrrrggg!

We spotted another vintage spy car  . . . 

We met up with stalkers friends who stalk follow us (I know you're out there watching me!) on our blog!!   Sandy and Paula are very proud of you, Kim, for your pattern publishing ventures and they LOVE reading about Bonnie Jo's suburban country life . . .

I bought some beautiful fair isle gloves that have texting fingers and thumbs!  I said to my BFF, "But I can knit these myself!" and my BFF wisely pointed out to me, "But think of how much faster you will get them done if you just buy them now!"  Ya gotta love a BFF that points out the obvious . . . .

This was overheard during the afternoon:
Lovely Woman:  **sigh** I would really love to learn how to spin . . . . **sigh**
Typical American Man:  You mean you have to learn to do that?
So we giggled, rolled our eyes at the Typical American Man and decided it was time to finish our day with Cow Patty ice cream . . .

. . . . Later that night . . . . . 
I was being my barista self at Starbucks and on our wall of adventure, this had been posted:
(crummy iPhone photo)

Before ya'll get too excited, it's NOT  five hours of spinning wheels for the cure . . . it's five hours of spinning bikes for the cure. . . . .

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cowl Catcher #2

Dear Mom,
I knit this Cowl Catcher as a way to check my design notes and I made a few improvements along the way. I also wanted to see how it would work up with a less bulky yarn. I've had this hand spun yarn in my stash for over a year- since our trip to Shipshewana in 2009- and using it for this purpose worked out perfectly. The yarn is a very soft blend of Shetland Wool and Silk. I held the yarn doubled to get a heavy worsted weight. This slightly lighter weight resulted in a narrower scarf and the wool/silk blend definitely has more drape ( and a better feel) than the wool/acrylic yarn I used in Cowl Catcher #1. Some of the stitch pattern is lost in the yarn's marled colorway, which is to be expected. I like the scarf better in the solid color.

 Once I have the instructions written and formatted, I'll knit another one as a way to proofread the pattern. I have a volunteer test knitter on this one, (Thanks Carol!) and having another knitter's eyes to confirm that I have actually written what I mean to say is an enormous reassurance.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

I love it when a plan works out

Dear Mom,

I suppose it was the hint of cool weather that got me to thinking about knitting scarves and cowls, and it doesn't take much more than that to spark an idea. I love the look of cowls and their status as a relatively quick knit, but I do not like the hair-messing-face-smudging difficulty in putting one on and taking it off, and especially not the neglected, exposed-to-the-cold lack of chest coverage.

What I decided to come up with was a cowl with button closures across chest to keep it snug and easy to wear. But with shaping. And not a scarf.

I spent some quiet time reflecting on my idea, (I happened to be at the dog park. Imagine that. Seems I am either walking dogs or at the dog park these days. Seriously, I am making dogparkfriends.....and learning that some dogs and their people should be avoided, just like in real life. Remind me to tell you one of these days about the mean girl, Foxy.) and had one of those Eureka moments when I knew how it had to be. And once those moments are born, they don't wait patiently in line while other knitting projects get finished. Nope. They want to be born right now.

So, I cast on Thursday night, finished it Friday night, sewed on the buttons and blocked it so it could dry while I slept and here it is:

And here is what it looks like under a coat  (Elle and I had fun playing dress up this afternoon):

See? All nice and tucked in and warm.

I've decided to name the design "Cowl Catcher". A play on the cow catchers on the front of old steam engines, because the stitch pattern is reminiscent of train tracks.

The buttons can be closed at any point on the length of the scarf- snugging it up or keeping it loose.  And the length is just right, I think, to wear under a coat without having to deal with too much bulk.

After I've test knit my own pattern and tried it out with different yarns (I have some handspun that I am thinking about doubling and trying out), I'll write up the pattern and publish.

I just love it when an idea turns into a plan and it all works out!


Friday, September 17, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly

Dear Mom,

Good: I took everything off the bookshelves in the family room, wiped off books and dusted shelves and put it all back. I put as much effort into the rest of the room and it was really clean.
Bad: Clean just doesn't last long enough.
Ugly: While I was concentrating on all this cleaning, Patsy ate 2 sticks of butter that were softening on the kitchen counter in anticipation of chocolate chip cookies.

Good: When Patsy threw up the first time, it was in the parking lot of the dog park.
Bad: The second time she threw up was on the kitchen floor, not on the carpeting.
Ugly: What I had to scoop out of the neighbor's yard on our walk this morning.


Monday, September 13, 2010

A little shameless self promotion

Dear Mom,

I've done something I've been thinking about doing for awhile now. It is a little scary, but me being me, it is a safe sort of scary- a mostly "stepping out of my comfort zone" sort of scary....

 I've started a separate blog site for my knitting patterns.

What is there now are patterns that have already been self-published, but I needed to get the blogsite up and started with something or I would always have a reason to put the whole thing off a little longer.
I wanted a place for knitting designs that haven't fit the needs of other publications, but mostly I wanted a place for the designs that I am not willing to let go of my copyright to have published. Self publishing will require more work on my part to have things tested and tech edited before they can be published, but since I am my own boss, I can (hopefully) live with the self-imposed deadlines. Or lack thereof.

This doesn't mean I am giving up on seeing my name in print and maybe even another design on another magazine cover someday- because that is a pretty good jolt of excitement!- I'm just giving myself another outlet for creativity and control. And God knows, I love having the illusion of control.

Go here to take a look at what I have going so far. I have lots of ideas.......


Friday, September 10, 2010

Dog Park Days

Dear Mom,
Well, it happened again and another week flew by. I hope this doesn't become a habit. This week I did keep the house clean, though....or as clean as 2 dogs will let it be.
Now that the weather is behaving like it should (Except for the rain part. We need the rain. Even my crabgrass is struggling.)  our visits to the dog park have lasted longer and more dogs have been there to play. Patsy has a special friend. His name is Ace and he is a 2 year old chocolate lab.He and Patsy....well, they love each other in a dog sort of way.

Ace's mom and I have exchanged email addresses so we can easily arrange play dates and coordinate our dog park visits.

Patys now knows the word "Ace" and the phrase "Dog park". "Dog Park" may be a better motivater than "cookie".

And while Ace and Patsy race around and burn off loads of energy, good ole Bumper sniffs around and marks all the territory as his, finds some shade, barks when the wild ones get too close, and generally avoids the action.
In June, the water level was where Ace and Patsy are standing.
Plus, Ace's mom usually has a few treats in her pocket which are smuggled to Bumper when the others aren't looking, and it didn't take him too long decide that she just might be his new best friend.

My knitting needles are clicking away, too, and I am making really good progress on Baby Cables and Big Ones, too. I think I am gonna really, really like wearing this sweater.
Last night I reached the point in the pattern where the designer suggests trying the sweater on to check for fit, which I have, and so far, so good. I'll divide the sleeves and the body next and what you see above will start looking more like a sweater and less like a poncho. The weather isn't just good for the dog park. It's been perfect knitting weather, too.


p.s. I made Jayme's Psalm Blessed Apple Crisp, and it may IT IS... the best apple crisp recipe EVER. I had everything I needed on hand and the really good part was that I could walk out into the back yard and pick the apples I needed right off the tree!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Traveling Salvation Show

Dear Mom,
We have been singing this Neil Diamond song around here a lot lately...

...because this "popped up" off the country road north of our house.

For the last 5 nights, we have been serenaded with gospel music and lots of revivalist preachin'!
Love, Bonnie Jo

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Dear Mom,

Grammie and Grampie have found one another again.  They are at peace.  They have an eternity of grace together.  I loved them so much-ly.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A little knitting

Dear Mom,
Gosh, blink and a week has passed by with almost nothing to show for it. If you could peek through the computer screen at the house behind me, you would know that my time wasn't exactly spent cleaning. (Although I did have to de-clog mr. dyson- he was choking on a chunk of wood chips, thanks to you-know-who.)

The Young Man's tennis coach became the father of a baby girl last weekend, so a knitting project was put on hold so I could make this gift.

This is Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket, and I used about 1and 1/2 skeins of Claudia Hand Painted fingering weight yarn. The colorway for this yarn is called "Strawberry Latte", but I think it looks like Neapolitan ice cream.
I covered a button with a bright pink gingham check,
and used Lizzie's freezerpaperandfabricintotheprinter trick to make a HandKnit by/Care tag for the sweater.
After the fabric came out of the printer, I trimmed it to size and ironed it to some fusible interfacing to give it a little backbone and to stop the edges from fraying. (I hope.) I loosely tacked the tag to the sweater allowing for some stretch when the sweater is worn. All done and ready to give.

No excitement planned here for the long holiday weekend. I'll be cleaning what I didn't get to all last week. But mostly I hope to enjoy the screened porch. After a scorching hot and tropically humid summer that gave me only a handful of comfortable days/evenings to enjoy the porch, we are to be blessed with mild weather this holiday weekend and I plan on spending as much time out there as I can.