Friday, March 29, 2013

"Oh, just shopping for pin cushions.."

I was talking to an old friend last evening on the phone and we hadn't touched base in several months. Our conversation was interrupted several times by the small voice of her sweet little grandson who evidently wanted her undivided attention.  She did the thing that all of us grandmas do..."Say hi to Laurel, honey".  And he does the same thing all kids do when presented with a mandatory courtesy..."Hi Woral!" You try to start a conversation but their attention is fleeting, and they are only on the line long enough to melt your heart. (Cute as a bug, this kid!)

When we resumed our conversation, she asked me what we'd "been up to lately", and I found that I struggled to find something interesting to tell her.  We haven't been on an exciting vacation...we haven't bought a new body's getting new grand kids. It occurred to me that as I ran the litany of recent events over in my mind, I didn't have anything more exciting to relate than working in yard, knitting and sewing, etc. I elected not to mention the three hours I spent sorting beads or my recent TV fixation on Project Runway, Chopped and The Good Wife.

To say that I am beginning to settle into senior living might be an overstatement, but I have to say that to most people, my life is not very exciting. The irony of it is that I have spent most of my adult years pushing through a myriad of activities and work going 100 mph, so I am often surprised how much I love this more relaxed time in my life. I still have to work at slowing down and enjoying the moment - a lifetime of Type A behavior is not easily changed.

Just this past week, I set out early one morning with a list of boring errands in hand, determined to check them off my list - there's that hurry up Type A creeping in. After several hours of buzzing around town, I drove by a little shop on Sutter Street in old Folsom that I have been eyeing for years, but never visited. Kudos to me as I was able to "recalculate", turn the car into a parking area and stroll across the street to this adorable little vintage shop fully loaded to the hilt. The visual feast of pretty lace things, china and home accessories was overwhelming, but strangely calming.

Amid some delicate tea cups on a shelf, I spotted a little pin cushion adorned with several corsage pins. It got me thinking that during my recent flurry of sewing activity I have been totally frustrated with my pin holder (when you get older, your brain starts working in this disjointed way!).  Anyway, my pin holder is magnetic and I've dropped it twice this week, splattering the pins across the carpet - I guess the magnet is tired.

The little cushion in the shop was very cute and very soft, however it was tiny. I have tried other pin holders and cushions and they all have that aspect in common -  they are too small or they are too hard.

For instance, I love this Mary Englebrite cushion, but it's too small.

And forget these old fashion tomato cushions...Just goes to show ya, they just don't make 'em like they use to.  These newer cushions are hard as a rock - you need a hammer to push a pin into them and they slide all over your table as you try to manhandle the pins into them.

As I wandered around the shop, suddenly focused on pin cushions (again, that senior brain is easily distracted) I spotted this small pink pillow in the baby area. I looked at the tag and it was originally from Nordstrom, so I rather doubt that it was technically vintage.  But it was "weighty", meaning it I would not have to hold it in place every time I stuck a pin it it.  It was soft, yet firm enough to hold my pins.  And, I reasoned, it would look so cute beside my sewing machine!

So the next time I chat on the phone with an old friend, I'm wondering how impressed she'd be if I told her I found the most adorable pin cushion? Probably not too much. But It made my day!!

Laurel.  It's all about the little things in life.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Colette earns her keep...

Purchasing a dress form may seem like an extravagance if you don't sew like a professional dress designer.  To get a good quality form you will be emptying your wallet to say the least. Hence, some might say that you need to sew "a lot" to make it worth the price tag.

Even though I consider myself to be a pretty dedicated seamstress, I have to admit that Colette languishes in the corner way too much.  I keep her outfitted at all times...she is after all, my mini-me and I don't even like to see myself in the buff, much less look at her lumps and bulges.  When she's not working, she does make a great giant Barbie that I can dress with sweaters, shawls and scarves.

But when Colette is needed, I can not deny how important she is to creating a great fit, whether I'm sewing a garment or knitting a sweater.  Just this morning, I pinned a knitted lace tunic front to her form, just to make sure it was going to fit me.

This is what owning a good dress form is all about. I was at the armhole stage of the top and needed to ensure that the top was going to fit over Colette's chest and still fit properly at the shoulders.

By fitting it on Colette, I could see that how many more stitches I would have to decrease around the armholes. And I was able to see how many more rows I could knit before I started creating the neckline. 

I probably will be deviating from the pattern to ensure that the "scoop" neckline comes to the most flattering place on my chest. 
I say about 16 more rows before I start the neck.

Colette's completed tunic will need a pretty cami underneath - 
I love the way this lace pattern has turned out, but I sure don't want to see my underbelly through it.

This Louisa Harding Merletto yarn is a royal pain to knit - it splits.  But I have to admit, the finished product might be worth the effort. And because it has linen fiber in it, it should drape (hang) well.

One more panel, two short sleeves and it will be ready for the Red Carpet...
okay, maybe the Mall.

Laurel. I love you, Colette.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice....

When you sew for a child, especially a young girl, you have to expect that the pretty little outfit that you painstakingly put together is probably going to get dirty. That's what Tide is for, right? I remember when I made cute little pinafores and ruffled dressed for my daughter, especially at Easter time, half the fun was picking out the pastel fabric, trims, buttons and lace. As I sewed the seams, I wasn't thinking about climbing trees, turning somersaults on the lawn, or crawling under a bush to retrieve the last chocolate egg.

When I sewed a pretty dress, I never thought of torn pockets, ripped seams or grass stains.  I designed it and put it together as if she were a princess who perched regally on her tiny pink throne with her pet cat and sipped imaginary tea from a tiny china cup. Reality? Not so much.

Despite knowing the reality of childish exuberance, it doesn't seem to hamper the creativeness of the women who come to sew every month for the little girls of impoverished countries via Dress a Girl Around the World.  Saturday was our regular sew fest at Bayside Church, and even though our crowd was light due to the Easter Break, we had a great time creating our signature "pillowcase" dresses - girlish "fru-fru" was alive and well!!

The hum of machines...

Thanks to donations, we were able to get and abundance of colorful bias tapes!

And pretty new panties - one pair for each new dress - folded and put into the pockets of the dress.

A lot of attention is spent on the pockets of each dress.

My watermelon dress...

We love to see "newbies" at our sew fests. 
Completing your first dress is quite an accomplishment!

Choosing fabrics and trims are the ways we seamstresses express ourselves.  
Who doesn't like polka-dots?

  Even if you don't sew, there's plenty to do at a sew fest - ironing casings, cutting bias tape and elastic, matching pockets, etc.

As an aside, my granddaughter finished her second sewing project last week. This adorable little knit top required bias tape facings...tricky, but she powered right through them! I think she is definitely ready for spending a morning with Grandma at the next Dress a Girl sew fest!!!

Visit Dress a Girl Around the World at

Laurel.  Make a difference in the life of one little girl!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's raining...let's watch movies!!

It's the first day of Spring and it rained. I slept in a little later than normal, the hubby went off to play golf and I was still sporting my pajamas when he came back home, rained out from his game.

I am not accustomed to lounging around all day, but when he suggested we just lay around and watch movies, I decided he might have a good idea.  After all, it's rainy and wet outside.  We watched a total of three movies - two rather violent ones (Most Wanted and Dirty Harry), but we enjoyed our first movie the best: Under the Tuscan Sun.

Every time I watch this movie I want to go to Italy again.  The notion of buying a villa in Tuscany on a whim is the stuff of my dreams. And because I can't go right this minute, why not peruse some of my vacation photos and relive the dream.

Won't you join me?

Laurel. Bellisima!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Flowers and Friends...

Not too many places in the world can boast having as many camellia plants than Sacramento, California.  In fact, it is dubbed the Camellia City.  Each year the local flower guild hosts a show and competition to the local lovers and growers of all thing "camellia."

Sunday was a glorious Spring Day, so why not go see the annual show, and dream about growing gorgeous blooms such as those exhibited by Sacramento's flower aficionados?

The blooms were stunning, even though many of them probably looked prettier on Friday.

 I personally preferred looking at the unusual and artsy floral arrangements. I love flowers and I love having them in my home.  I have decided (especially after seeing this arrangement) that I need to be more purposeful about keeping a bouquet in my home regularly. 

After the show, we spent some time with our friends in their back yard in the sunshine, sharing a nice glass of cool Fume Blanc.  Our friends' mid century style home boasts half a dozen camellia bushes that are upwards of 40 years old.  The bushes tower over the yard and were covered in beautiful blooms.  Their flowers rivaled any that we saw at the flower show.

I love photographing flowers!

And the sweetest flower in the friend Micki.

Laurel. Flowers make your day, just like friends!

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pacing myself...

Just like New Year's resolutions, I hate committing myself to a year long "goal" that I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to honor.  When the local knitting guild announced in January that we were all to commit to some year long project, I can admit that I was less than enthused.  We were to dream up this project idea (and commitment) right away.  At each subsequent monthly meeting we would all "Show and Tell" our progress on our project. Yay!

Just listening to this grandiose plan, I started sweating and squirming in my seat. We were already a couple of weeks into January, so I am NOW behind on any commitment that I might make to this year long project. That annoying little man with the pitchfork that sits on my right shoulder lets out a quiet but evil laugh.  He knows I'm not good at finishing squat - I start well, but I get bogged down and downright bored if I know I HAVE TO complete something under duress. I leave the meeting uncommitted and depressed.

Knitting requires finishing, Laurel. Especially if you want to wear it.

I ponder the whole year-long debacle for a few more days and decide that perhaps I can just commit to FINISHING. Something. Anything.  I look through my stash of unfinished projects. The hubby passes by while I am sorting through the multitude of zip-lock bags filled with all manner of pretty yarns on needles.

"How many projects do you have going, honey?" he asks innocently.

"Maybe 3 or 4", I venture, kicking several zip-lock bags under the couch as he approaches the carnage.

You know what they say about addiction disorders, Laurel...when you start lying??

Not wishing to betray the knitting world and other addicts out there, I won't fess up how many UFOs I counted.  Suffice it to say the number would satisfy the year-long project commitment of the Guild.

You can do this, Laurel...just pace yourself. Don't get all up's not like they're keeping a hit list for knitters who fail to honor their commitment or that the gates of Knitter's Heaven will be locked for you...

So, here we's January's FINISHED project - this cowl was on the needles for a couple of weeks, but I've had this lovely beaded Art yarn for months.
And here is February's FINISHED project - a cozy wool cowl that is patterned after a Gap scarf.

So as not to get bored FINISHING, I made this little scarf pin for the heck of it. One must have several irons in the fire at all times.

And finally, just so you don't get to thinking that I'm on a roll FINISHING, I started another sweater (I have three of them already in the UFO zip-locks that I kicked under the couch - oopsy!).

Maybe I will FINISH it by December....

Laurel. Pacing myself.
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