The Resistance

First to clarify: my treasured Susie left me a comment where she noted I’ve only been knitting for a year…
I’ve known how to knit for almost 40 years. I picked up the needles again four years ago and I’ve had the shop for less than a year. Not that I mind being considered something of a phenom, but alas, I’m just your average knitting bear. (But thanks for saying my stuff is gorgeous!!)

The itching has started. As you can see, two more hats have made their way onto the planet. I have already started another one, but there was a moment when I was looking at other patterns and trying to talk myself into making something else. I almost succumbed.

It’s not that it would be a bad thing, in fact, I know at some point, I will have something else on the needles other than a hat, but I’m not at that point yet. This is a business decision and I have to see it through. I cannot be a vagabond about this: I must resist the bohemian calling to just do ‘what I want.’ I must realize the business is also something I want and in order to make it successful, I really do need to have an anchor product. If I look at all the ‘knitting stores’ on Etsy, the ones that are the most successful have an anchor product: baby legwarmers, scarves, etc. Then they also offer other items as well.

I didn’t invent the wheel, but I sure know how to use one. So, it seems to follow that I also should have an anchor product. I thought about it being afghans, but they take weeks to do. I decided that would be my specialty item. But hats – hats are quick to knit, offer a great variety, and if someone has a head and lives in the part of the country that is not Florida, almost everyone can use a hat. Even places in Arizona have snow and skiing. So hats make sense.

But that wild child wants to go exploring. She doesn’t want to stay home and work. She’s the same wild child that doesn’t want to clean the kitchen. I don’t want to send her packing, but I must set her in the corner for a time out so she can think about what she’s almost done and has gotten away with in the past.

I love her. But she really needs a little more discipline.

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New Life


What on earth did I do before knitting?

I started the shop more than a year after I picked up the needles. I haven’t had it for a year and I’ve made over 60 things – I’m a knitting fool! Was there a life before knitting>

I am finding it hard to answer the question. You know how your memory goes: you can remember what you were doing when you were two but you can’t remember what you have for dinner two days ago? (It was pork chops with dressing and cranberry sauce. What?) I can remember when I said to Marilyn: “We should start a knitting group.” And I remember when she told me I had to move away from scarves and make other things and I can remember the blue and white play pen and being in it when I was a toddler – but the space in between those two times are something of a blank:

I went to school – six of them – Chalmers, Irving, Proviso East, Lewis University, Aurora College and Columbia College.

I married – thirteen years ago. I wasn’t knitting then. I knew how to knit but I hadn’t picked up the needles again at that time. It was a couple of years after that. But I don’t know what I did with my spare time. I did some writing, I suppose and some gardening. I was involved with the League of Women Voters. I co-chaired a Committee for a congressman.

Ahhh – it comes back to me now. I did do things before knitting.

I just wasn’t having this much fun.

The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Sept. 29

I guess there’s no mistaking that fall is here. This was one of the coolest summers I can remember in Chicago. The chill came early and has decided to stay. If only winter decided to be as mild…but while the weather always changes in the Windy City (did you know that name has nothing to do with the weather but rather the verbosity of our politicians?) creativity is always constant and always changing. So, in no particular order, here is a sampling of Chicago’s best:

Fence by zegami
When I look at art there are several criteria that run through my mind: could I have done that? (answer: no), do I wish I could? (answer: yes) Would I want that in my home? (answer: yes?)
Not only this one, but there are others in this collection that are stunning!

Vest by jollarocknrolla
I’ve knitted clothing before and I don’t get the kick out of it that others do, but this is a cute, funky top that got me thinking I could probably dip my toes back in that fountain. (And to think she lives in my town!!)

Shell Mosaic earrings
by westbyron
I was actually considering another item from this store when the photo of these caught my eye. I can see me wearing these with both casual and not-so casual outfits.

Toilet Paper Cozy by HappyKATT
There’s no reason for your Tp to go through the winter naked – so it might as well look like a cupcake! CUTE!!

Felted bag pattern by bonniegoldingpurses
Options are always nice and you can make the base bag and then go hog wild crazy on the fringe you put on. This bag will be you and only you!

This week’s shout out is to Judy from Bellissma Trucco I love it when folks, especially women, decide to make a change and then go for it and discover their own happiness. I’m still not there yet, but I love that I am at least giving it a go. Visit Judy’s beautiful shop for cosmetics and skincare and a green thumbs up for starting the recycling program for her empty jars!

Calypso Scarf by brendaabdullah
The COLOR! That’s another thing I look for in scarves, hats, etc. especially if they are not knitted. I look at them and I instantly get a feeling of “I bet i can knit that!!” And that’s a good thing. I love the colors and it stokes my creative fire.

Flower Hat Pattern by lmferg1
I used to prefer crochet over knitting – I don’t anymore, but I would totally whip up this hat! Good thing she has the pattern for sale where I can get it – but it’s the finished product that’s making the list!

Quartz Pendent by beadifuldesigns
Gimme! Gimme! Gimmee!

Gypsy Tote by beesnetta
I look at tote bags and think: knitting project! That’s what I thought when I saw this one and besides, it’s cute as it can be!

Floral Motif
by savvygal
How cool is this? Artsy decals for the wall! You don’t have to worry about what goes with the paint and all that because this artwork really goes ON the wall. This is a stunning motif and check out the shop for other interesting ones!

OK, so this week turned out to be a little bit heavy on the needle arts, but that’s what happens when the weather gets cooler. You have to believe me when I say I don’t plan these things, it’s how the universe shakes out. It’s cosmic creativity at it’s best and I love it.
I hope you love it, too. I hope you check out these shops and then go to Etsy and in the search box put in your own city and see what’s right around the corner from you!

To Top It All Off

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of being at the Chicago Northwestern United Methodist Women District Meeting. I am the Chair of Communications for the UMW District and we get together a few times a month with reps and members of units in the district who wish to come. It’s always a good time.

But I had a decidedly non-Christian moment.

The moment I walked into the church, I saw one of the women who was responsible for having my knitting group removed from what is still, my church. She called a secret meeting without me and helped perpetuate a gross lie. I know she did it because someone was nice enough to send me the emails she sent around setting up this meeting.

I would have been perfectly happy just walking past and not saying a word but she had the nerve to walk over to me with a big smile on her face and very enthusiastic “Hi!” before reaching out to touch my arm.

While I was quite tempted to scream out; “Heretic, Viper, Liar!” I took a step back out of reach of the approaching hand and wagged my index finger at her and said, “Please, don’t.”
She gave me one of those looks – you know that look. It’s the one that says “I Know why you did that, but I’m going to pretend not to know why you did that because there are other people around and I don’t want you to say anything that might make me look bad.” That look.

And would you believe?

She reached out for me again.

That’s the funny thing about hypocrites: acting like they haven’t wronged you when they have is completely normal behavior for them.

I again evaded the touch and said in a very firm, very low voice. “You’re about to run out of luck.”

Her face went expressionless and she said “Good Morning.” and walked away.

SIGH. Yes, I should have been charitable. (Lily Smith, I can hear you!!) But – and you k
now ‘but’ means forget what I just said, here’s the truth: I”m pleased I stuck up for myself and made her uncomfortable – because it was a lot milder than what I imagined I would do to her because I knew she was going to be there.

Here’s the kicker: I had a great time with a bunch of women who are truly inspiring and I was re-elected to my post as Chair of Communications (though this is the last year I can serve in that particular position) so I will have a great time for the next year. That little incident was a very small worm in a very big, juicy apple.

But there’s knitting to tell you about! You noticed the hats, right? This is what happens when you have lots of yarn and six days. This is the first part of the hat phase. And I am still in it – there’s another – in green- on the needles right now and the idea of another cable hat is playing somewhere in my head. I am not going to let myself get to excited, but this does seem like the thing to make as the anchor product I offer in the shop.

Remember what I said about listening to Mr. Honey? He was the one who gave me the idea of getting the anchor product in the first place and he has now decided I should add leg warmers and wrist warmers, and this morning he added scarves. My question to him was: How would that make it different than what I am doing now?

“He’s still working on the one – the listening to my spouse phase appears to over.

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They Shoot Husbands, Don’t They?

First, I want to do some Friday Shout outs!
Kim’s Crafty Apple is one of our advertisers and she does some really lovely quilts. As you may know, quilts have a place in my heart because I used to have some quilts from my maternal grandmother and I got rid of them because I didn’t know hat I had in them. I didn’t become crafty until later – don’t make my mistake.

My sister Carole put this up on her Facebook page – it is the funniest thing and this kid really has some rhythm for being so young. Check it out when you get the chance. Baby Dancing to Beyonce

I firmly believe there are miracles all around us. I even believe that every once in a while, we perform them ourselves: case in point: There are times when I ask for Mr. Honey’s opinion and it opens the floor for the following miraculous events:

1. I listen to what he says
2. I consider what he says
3. I do what he says

It is even more of a miracle when all three happen on the same piece of advice. And that is exactly what happened when I asked him about stocking the shop. I was musing about whether or not to offer one main item like hats, afghans, etc and then add other pieces and he said so many things that made sense – don’t ask me to repeat them – he didn’t get the miracle of me retaining what he said. But that’s why I entered the hat phase. We figured out that I can make hats faster than I make anything else. Faster than scarves, definitely faster than an afghan or shawl, so hats are the focus and then I will add other pieces. The explanation he gave is sound and it makes good business sense. Hats are easy to design, they offer variety and as I have shown, I have finished six hats in the last few days and the seventh one is on the needles – of course, it is the most complicated.

It even makes sense that I do hats. Most of the hats I’ve made have sold so I know I can compete in the market. That Mr. Honey, he’s got a business head on his cute shoulders.

Here’s the problem:
I’m such a child.

The problem isn’t with the plan – it’s with the person who has to execute it. I have to stop myself from being bored. I have a tendency to run with my feelings and if I feel bored, then I don’t try to talk myself out of it. But this is a business and I need a business head to run it.
I am in awe of those people who are creative and focused. Really, I’m just in awe of mature people who work through, around and over obstacles. Maybe when I grow up I will be one of those.

Now, I just have to schedule growing up on the calendar.

No Brag, Just Facts


Neglectful. That’s what I’ve been. Would you accept my apology? It’s been a busy week!
But I want you to know I have not been Idle. I haven’t been lazing the time away. I’ve been prepping for a district meeting going on this weekend and I’ve entered a hat phase. I did these all this week. And I finished the stained glass afghan (which I thought I photographed, but guess I haven’t seeing as there are no pictures of it.

We had our Wednesday evening get together last night and Vickie (our resident crocheter) said something very interesting. She was telling one of the newbies (We had FOUR newbies last night!) She was telling them why we no longer meet at the church and then she said: “You know since we haven’t been at the church, attendance has been much better.”

She’s right. We were hovering in the eighties and I thought that was pretty good, but since being thrown out, we raised our membership to over 100 and the attendance has nearly doubled. We still do the same work, we still have mission or charity knitting, we are no longer associated with the church and that seems to have loosened up some folks. Hmmmm.

In any case, last night was a lot of fun. We held a knitting and crocheting tutorial and talked about the upcoming craft show in December and a bunch of other stuff. I love the company of crafters. It is an unexpected and pleasant addition to my life. There is an instant camaraderie with people who use their hands, hearts and heads in this way. Would you believe we had three folks offer the use of their homes for future meetings? How cool is that? In case you were wondering if I was one of them..not really. Our entire house is 1100 square feet. There’s barely enough room for Mr. Honey and me.

Besides the craft show, we talked about doing a pot luck and again, folks offered the use of their homes. Very nice people. And I must say, though we are open to having men, and it says so right on the page, there’s something really special about our group being only women. I also love the company of women. There is nothing like a sisterhood. I am sure it is the same for the brotherhood, but not being one of them, I can only wish they have it just as good.

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This Week’s Chicago Top Ten Week of September 21

I’m glad to return to this look at some of the best work done by folks in the Windy City!This list will feature not only some really cool (and hot) stuff, but some creative juice as well. So here, in no particular order, is this week’s top ten list of Chi-town goodness.

Seatbelt Tote Bag from alamodestuff
What a cool idea. Taking old seatbelts and making them into something functional. I have no ideas where they got the old seatbelts from, but this was a great way to recycle and upcycle.

Posh Legs by Poshpipsqueak
They must know what they’re doing because they have over 100 sale in just a little over four months. These are just a sample of the cute baby leggings they sale.

Fine Silver Earrings by designbysuzyn
She’s made the list before and this girl is not only talented, she’s also prolific. She has a huge selection of items. If there is someone on your gift list that loves jewelry, then make sure you make a stop at this shop. This pair is just striking.

Quilted Green/white bag from allthingsquilted
I find this shop to be an inspiration because not only do they offer traditional quilts, which are a classic family heirloom, but they also do quilted accessories which is a unique sort of thing. I can see this bag being passed down from generation to generation.

Reversible hobo bag from retrofied
All I could think about when i saw it was ‘how much yarn could I stuff in there before Mr. Honey noticed I have more yarn AND a new bag?’

I see there’s a new follower and I thank you for making me a place to stop by. That’s what I really want to accomplish: to be site where folks (especially crafters) can feel at home. It’s why I do the list and will step up doing the interviews and features. I want to provide a little ‘feel good’ throughout the day. And speaking of followers and feeling good; have you been to LocalGringos yet? She’s a one stop shop of feel good things. (There’s a set of hand knit tags that are coming to my house!) Now that I’ve spent money, let’s get to the rest of the list!

Red Beret from Pandora Spocks
I’m in a hat phase (I made one last night and have another on the needles as we speak) so I am in awe of those knitters who can make one item again and again. This is a cool beret, and if you go to the site, you’ll find it in a variety of different colors!

Dog Collar by LuckyFiona
I don’t think I should have been surprised at seeing custom made dog collars, but I am – happily surprised. Note to self: put knitting dog sweaters to match up with dog collars on knitting to do list!

Paper bag print by katep
I had to chuckle when I saw this cuz sometimes I feel like this! Nice depiction of deep whimsy.

Arm Warmers by TrixyXchange
Not only do arm warmers fascinate me, but the presentation on her photos is also nice.

Good and Plenty by funkyeggert
I would not have thought of taking an empty Good and Plenty box and making it into a belt buckle. I wouldn’t have thought to do that with a full one, either.

Didn’t I say the creative juices were flowing? You have to admit I was right, come on, say it just once. If you have a chance, explore the shops and show the owners some love. Same message – different day. Same message EVERY day. It is the entrepreneurial spirit that will bring us back – the little people – we will save ourselves by owning shops and offering quality items at honest prices. Shop and purchase from them whenever you can.

What Passes For Normal

I think things are returning to the regular kind of crazy.

Mr. Honey is having a play date with some of his guy friends. I am rejoicing in this as it has taken me about 15 years to get him to go play without me. I remember asking his good friend Bruce to get him out of the house – not that I was tired of him – but because I wanted him to have his connections like he did before me. Bruce asked him to go some place or another and Mr. Honey’s first response (according to Bruce) “Can I bring Bev with me?”

Sweet.

Today they are going to do some decidedly male thing that has to do with the Santa Fe speedway and cars. Bruce just purchased a 1930-something something and now he and the boys are gonna go scratch and grunt over other old cars.

I’m happy for them. In the meantime, I’ve done the bling shawl. I cannot tell you how soft this thing is except to say it’s really soft and it’s a nice size as well. When I finished it, I thought I should have put the sequins on the top edge and it would drape around the neck and down. That’s certainly an option should I do this again, but I rather like it now that I see the photos. It can be pinned at different places for a wrap, shawl or poncho look. Of course it’s on sale at designbcb.

I’m working on the stained glass afghan and if I work diligently it will be done today, this weekend at the latest.

Here’s almost everyone of the Cotton clan from my nephew’s wedding. Missing is my sister’s husband (he’s on assignment in Liberia.) My sister’s son (he’s in Maryland) and her daughter (living in Israel); my eldest sister in AZ who couldn’t get the time off and her kids and my eldest brother’s three kids. But here are the rest of us – eclectic, eh?
Mr. Honey is to the far right – but you knew that, didn’t you?

I’m gonna need prayers and good thoughts. The back pain hasn’t completely left and it seems like it’s cramps from you know, that time, except that time hasn’t come for a couple of months. I’m gonna have to suck it up and go to the doctor cuz this is really uncomfortable!
And on that nice note, I’m gonna go drink some water and buy some sneakers!
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We Are Stardust

and we’ve gotten ourselves back to the garden!

Thursday is date night for me and Mr. Honey and right before we left, At&T called to say they were stopping by to check out the problem with the DSL service. I had called Earthlink and asked them to connect me with someone who was stateside, not because I didn’t want to speak with anyone in Asia, but because they only could do so much and I needed to escalate the problem. The operator connected me to executive services and a man named Blake.

Blake promised to send the situation to his crackpot team of technicians. That was on Monday. On Tuesday, I got a call from Tim. We went through everything and he determined the problem was with AT&T (which we already knew) so he contacted them and today, right before we left for dinner (because the window for arrival was between 8am and 8pm) a nice man named Jose called to say he was coming out.

Jose came out and said he had other Earthlink customers who were having the same problem because Earthlink migrated their usage contract from one carrier to another and a boat load of Earthlink customers got dropped. The solution, he said, was to have the central office reassign the port the dsl service came through so it would feed through to my house.

Simple enough. Except it was after five and no one in the central office works after 4:30 and it’s about a five hour fix. I got Tim on the phone and he and Tim talked and as Jose was leaving, he saw another AT&T truck with another customer. So they talked as well. Tim told me he was going to check to see how ports were to be changed and if the central office had to do it. They all said tomorrow. Tomorrow should see the end of my torment..

At this point, what was another day? So, Mr. Honey took me out to dinner at a place we hadn’t been to in a long time. We had a nice dinner and I came back home, did some knitting, watched two episodes of The Nanny and came upstairs to the office just to stroke the modem and remind it that it wasn’t its fault.

I have dsl service! Some little fairy must have stayed at the central office or Tim twisted someone’s arms because I am back and up and running! Life has returned to something looking like normal.

My great thanks to Blake for getting involved and to Tim for working diligently on this for the past three days. They did in three days what the rest couldn’t manage in the previous ten. When you have an Internet based business, you kinda need the Internet to do your thing. I was thinking of places to take my laptop that had free wi-fi so I could work. Now, I can work in my own home. And the router is up and running as well so I should be able to work downstairs when I have to. I appreciate the work they did to get me up and running. I appreciate how they kept me in the loop and talked me through what was going on. It did a great deal to keep me calm and patient.

It’s a restoration of faith. That’s what it is. And I am grateful.

If You Can’t Be With The Ones You Love

Still no DSL service. And you should see the fingers pointing between At&T, Bell and Earthlink. The only things they can agree on: I have no dsl service and it’s not my fault. Can they agree on a solution? Nope.

I had one. I said. “Cancel the service and reinstate it using whatever lines and technology you use now.”
Their answer?
“That could take a few days.”
“As opposed to the twelve days it’s taken so far?”
They are determined to have this service corrected. In the meantime, I call the billing department every day and get a credit on my account. I’ve called all over the place. I haven’t been nice and I’ve been very nice. Nothing seems to work.

SIGH.

Have you noticed when one part of your routine is busted, the entire routine is at stake? I feel this way about not having the dsl service because I am not constantly checking for things on line (emails, orders, etc.) That has a good side to it because it has slowed me down, but it also makes me a little nervous. It’s like when your car is in being repaired. You may not have anywhere to go anyway, but it’s not having the option that causes the stress.

The back is a little better. It seems worse in the mornings after laying down. I actually did a short workout today – basically arms and I would say there was more discomfort than there was pain. But it was less than 15 minutes and I feel better having done it.

I know I missed the Top Ten list – I promise I will make it up to you.

I’m making progress on the afghan and the shawl as well. Both will be finished any day now. Maybe they will be finished in time for me to show you via my refreshed dsl service.
From my blog to God’s ears!!