Sunday, August 24, 2014

Remembering simpleness . . . .

My chenille bedspread drying in the breeze
About a month ago, our dryer broke on a weekend, no less.  It spun and spun, but no heat  - on any cycle.  I had a damp lump of colors just tossing around in air.  Being obsessive/compulsive as I am, I was determined to get my laundry done.  Plus, I didn't really know how much the repair would cost and if we could afford it that particular week.  So I was on a mission to hang a clothesline just to get that load dry.  My first attempt was to string crochet yarn in the basement and I made some pretty tight lines.  Only problem was that when I hung up my laundry, the lines either sagged or broke.  So off to Super Walmart.  I found the laundry aisle easily and picked up a package of clothespins - the clip on kind.  I spotted a roll of clothesline, tightly wound and wrapped in plastic.  I scanned all the available hooks and there were no empty ones, but also none that had any kind of gadget to hang the clothesline on.  Over to the hardware department, same result.  I saw the manager and asked him and he said they didn't have anything like I was talking about.  How can you carry clothes pins and clothesline, but nothing to mount it with.  My husband was waiting in the car, and I told him we had to try Lowes.  What they had was one of those umbrella tree things, and a retractable line, which I bought.  He mounted in in the yard and it was great, I hung all my wash out and it dryed quickly.  The repairman came and the dryer needed a part, about $200 so we were set.  So today, I was washing my bedspread, and saw that the line was down.  My husband said, why aren't you going  to use the dryer - and snapped the line up tight for me again.  It reminded me of 36 years ago when I moved to Jackson as a young bride with a 2 year old son.  We had a T-Bar clothes line pole at each end of the yard, with a tight line that stretched from one end to the other.  Mrs. Hack next door had an awesome line, her T-Bar had about five separate lines on it, so that she could hang a whole day's load of wash on it.  Many days I would hang the wash before leaving for work, hoping that it wouldn't rain.  Often when I went to retrieve my wash it was still damp, if it was a humid day, or fresh and clean smelling if it was a breezy day.  You could virtually tell the weather by the feel of your line dryed towels!  When winter came, the towels would be stiff as a board, but would loosen up after coming back in the house. My daughter was born in January, cold and snowy, and I draped lines in the basement so I could dry our clothes when the dryer again inexplicably failed.  On a summer day, the kids would love to run through the wash, sometimes pulling it from the line, or using it as imaginary walls for their dream castles.  Times were different, much simpler, not packed with so much stuff to do, so many places to run, so many appointments to keep, so many electronic gadgets to look at ,  and so many bills to pay.  We had time, time to enjoy the simple things, time to hang wash on a backyard line and to draw it to our face for the smell of freshness while taking it down.  Take some time today to bring back simple. 


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Great Weather for Crocheting

I love to crochet, but particularly when the cool weather arrives. Planning often starts on Saturday when the new ads arrive in the Saturday paper from Michaels Stores, and AC Moore, and now a new Hobby Lobby has opened in our area. Looking over the ads inspires great ideas, such as Lion Brand Homespun yarn in rich fall colors. I was at a craft show last week and noticed a knitter busy creating lush, soft, thick and bulky scarfs all in homespun. The entire table was piled, same stitch, same pattern, same soft texture, just beautiful. Lion Brands makes 61 colors, and if you can't find them in Walmart, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or AC Moore, buying your colors on line is really easy. Check out the below link, and just look at all the beautiful colors. The Lion Brand website also has great free patterns for knitting and crocheting. I usually like to record most of the television shows I like to watch, and then sit with my crochet hook, yarn, a cup of coffee and remote and catch up on my shows on the weekend while I crochet.Check out the below pattern for a bulky warm scarf, this is really easy and can probably be made in one afternoon. I am going to explore some more yarns and patterns soon and will let you know what I find out. Happy Hooking!!!

Those links again are:

for the 61 colors of yarn:,

and for the pattern:

or just go to Lion 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Would you like to learn to crochet?

The treasures tucked in a hope chest to be shared lovingly with succeeding generations are often those crafted from patient fingers who weave fabric and yarn into memories and family history. Observing an experienced crocheter with their labyrinth of fibers twisted among their fingers, many believe that learning to crochet is an impossible task. But like any work of art, a crocheted masterpiece begins with a single stitch. There are many resources for learning how to crochet. Crochet lessons are often offered at craft stores, community schools, church groups and yarn shops. Joining a local crochet guild or crochet club can be helpful in learning new crochet stitches or patterns, Asking an experienced crocheter to demonstrate the basics is often the best method, but sadly with our busy schedules, that is not often possible. Books and leaflets are available at the library and craft stores, and many will give explicit directions with stitches and patterns for beginners. Finding an old crochet pattern book at a yard sale, flea market or thrift shop is an unexpected bonus, especially when it contains a vintage doily or retro poncho pattern. The time constraints of our busy society unfortunately are very limiting to today’s beginning crocheter if they rely on the methods of learning that their grandmothers leisurely enjoyed. The modern crocheter’s best resource for learning how to crochet, learn new stitches and discover patterns has become the internet. Youtube in particular offers how to crochet videos which allow you to learn to crochet on line and master stitches, both simple and complex, with on line crochet tutorials that are easy to follow. Several virtual crochet sites offer encouragement, lessons, patterns, and how to's as do many blogs. Facebook also has some crochet groups that can trade information, hints and ideas almost instantly. Several crochet magazines now offer a digital web version which allows you to view the patterns on the computer, print out what you need, and save the entire magazine in a tidy PDF format. I presently subscribe to several of them, including Crochet World, Crochet Today and Inspired Crochet, which is a fairly new digital magazine that features talented crocheters and trendy patterns. RAKJ patterns just started a new feature where they will email you a digital PDF pattern of the week for a very nominal monthly fee. The resources are there, videos, digital, patterns, graphs, it is limitless. So if you want to learn to crochet, come back soon, and I will get you started with links to webpages and videos that I especially rely on!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Would you like to learn to crochet?

Those of you who know the un-virtual me, know that wherever I go I usually have a hook in my purse, random pieces of yarn stuck to my clothing, and my trusty little bag with whatever project I am working on toting along with me. Often when I am sitting at the lunch room, or at the doctor's office, people will say, "what is that - knitting?" Or "my grandmother used to crochet, we have an afghan for every day of the week", or "I tried that, but never could figure it out." In the past, I would be the one asking those questions, and like many have tried over and over to learn to crochet without success. If you saw one of my very first posts about crocheting, you can relive the agony of trying to learn this art from the master, my husband's grandmother, Ella Tietke, and the years of trial and error until in the past 10 years or so (since becoming a grandmother myself), I finally got to where I can somewhat read a pattern and make something other than a lopsided square. I am still learning, and continue to learn, but today's crocheter has a lot of resources that I didn't have when Ella Tietke was guiding my clumsy hands. I by no means profess to be a good crocheter on the level of Teresa of the Art of Crochet, and in all my efforts to teach someone to crochet my only perfect pupils were Lisa F., and Marigrace M. I recently started sort of an informational tutorial about crocheting with the hope of someday making an ebook out of it, but like many of my plans, that is kind of stacked up in the big basket of things I want to do. Since I did put somewhat of an effort into it, I am going to provide, my loyal and faithful readers, with snippets. But as a sort of disclaimer, this is not a resource in and of itself, of how to crochet, more of a reciting of what works for me, and the resources that I use to figure things out when I am stuck. You will know that the post has to do with learning how to crochet when it is titled, "would you like to learn to crochet". Posts that are just my random, banal silliness will have their own crazy titles, just as before. So spread the word, I hope to use the tutorial posts as an exchange of ideas, a dialogue from crocheters of all levels as to what works for them, so that we can teach each other. Rushing off to visit my baby grandson, but have to pick a few strands of Red Heart petal pink out of my hair first!!! Have an awesome day, and I hope it involves some crochet!~

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Clang Clang Clang goes the . . . . crochet hook

Happy Valentines Day! Today, for one day, I will really try very very hard not to annoy my husband with the sound that makes him grit his teeth, hunch his shoulders and sometimes emit a gutteral sound through his clenched bearded lips. You see, we are a - well, I guess you would say, a mature baby boomer couple. After dinner I change into my jammies and perch on the couch with my puppy sleeping on my lap,various crochet patterns strewn to the right, my kindle and Iphone balancing on the arm of the couch, a large basket of good ideas at my feet, puppy's afghan to the left with survivors of various unfinished projects stuck like magnets to everything. Typically, I have my glasses perched on my head, or to my side, since I can't see with them and can't see without them. So to crochet, they are absent, but if something peaks my interest on the tv, I have to use my hands like scurrying mice to try and locate the glasses, usually unsuccessfully to pay attention to what my husband might have commented on by saying, hurry up Ellen, look at this, did you see that, oh geeze! Well anyway, this is quite a lot of paraphernalia that I have surrounding me, and yes, paraphernalia is the right word because that is associated with addiction, and I have already admitted that I have an addiction to anything that is crochet. Oh, and I also have this other weird habit, I can't drink in the living room because I have a fear of spilling on my stuff! So from my spot on the couch, there is occasionally a need to get up, or to move, to take my turn on Words with Friends, or get a drink from the glass on the kitchen counter, put the puppy out or bring the cat in - well you get the idea. Now if you look at the beautiful picture that forms my banner, it is a painting of Lydia Crocheting in the Garden, and just so you are not romantically thinking of a Downtown Abbey dowager writing this post, let me inform you that I look nothing like Lydia. So much sitting at work, so much sitting to crochet, and the inactivity of winter have changed my front porch into a multileveled parking garage. As my grandson Marcus likes to say, Nanny, you are fat. I have continually corrected him to say, I am not fat, I am just fluffy. So invariably, there comes a time in the evening when Nanny has to move, perhaps for one of the many reasons recited above, or maybe because I have fallen asleep, hook in hand. Whatever the reason, this sudden shifting of the mountain will usually be preceded by the search for the crochet hook. This is in deference to my husband who equates the sound of a crochet hook hitting the hard wood floor with nails on a blackboard. I check the various tiers of the multilevel garage, dig my fingers deep into the recesses of the couch, move cushions, lift afghans, shift patterns, check behind my ear, really a scanning that rivals the 20 point check at the car dealer. Not finding the hook, (which should be my first clue of trouble) I carefully rise from the couch, only to hear it! The slow motion, surround sound, tumble to the ground of my favorite Boyle J hook, twirling, schussing, the triple jump, flying camel, the futile attempt at a catch, and then it is done, hard metal hits hard floor. Clang! I quickly apologize, yet again, to my poor husband who has begun his ritual reaction to this horrid sound. I truly am sorry, because there are some sounds that just chill me to the bone as well, so I can appreciate his distress. Honestly, I kind of like the sound, but then I am weird when it comes to crochet implements. So today for this beautiful Valentine's day, no candy for my love, just a clank free evening. Hmmm, I wonder if I could crochet a cover for my crochet hook?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Another crazy crochet story

Boy, they say time flies when you are having fun, but three years since I last posted!!! Unbelievable! We have a lot of catching up to do! But tonight I wanted to tell you a bit about crocheting through a hurricane! You may have heard that back in October/November the Jersey Shore was hit with a megastorm called Sandy. Now, I have to admit, that I was one of those people who downplayed it, bragged that we lived through Irene and Gloria, and that the media was superhyping this storm. In fact, the day it was scheduled to hit, we were leisurely driving around winding our way down to my daughters in Historic Gibbsboro to babysit so that she and her husband could go to a concert for some English group whose name escapes that was playing in Philadelphia. About halfway there, we got the call to turn around since the concert had been cancelled due to Sandy. Well, the wind was whipping, the rain was pelting, and all through the night it seemed that a freight train was zipping through our neighborhood. Plus, before we had gone to bed, we lost power, and a tree or two. Being less than ten miles from the beautiful beaches of Ocean Grove and Belmar, we opened our door in the middle of the night and smelled salt in the air. It was a bad one. The next day, still no power, we drove recklessly dodging flying limbs (from trees, not humans) and detoured around police cars blocking lightless intersections, seeing if we could get batteries. I had an ulterior motive, in tagging along, in that I had heard that Lowes had free internet wifi! My husband ran into the store, and I dug my Kindle out of my purse. Of course, before checking Facebook, or my email, or the weather, which would have been smart, I went right to my etsy shop. I had been having a nice conversation over the past few days with a customer who had seen one of my teddy bear blankets. This is one that I make with my super favorite, Red Heart Yarn, using several different crochet stitches and three colors. The customer was from California and wanted a special gift for her daughter's baby shower which was scheduled for November 11. In our last post, I had told her the blanket was done, but I had to add the frog faces that she wanted to make it fit in with her daughter's theme. I quickly sent her an email from my etsy page, that said "No power, no internet, text me on my cell" and gave her the number. The Kindle soon powered down, out of juice. The next day, no power and no heat, I rushed to dress and report to work. Not than I am a dutiful employee, but I had heard that they had full power. I packed my kindle, cellphone, chargers and my crocheting things into a bag and off I went. I plugged in my electronics to supercharge them and took my lunch break to crochet some frogs. After a quick side trip to AC Moore, it was back home to crochet by flashlight and finish up my order. The following morning, wakened by the rising sun and my cellphone alarm, I rushed back to work, mostly to recharge my phone and Kindle and get a decent cup of coffee. Next on my agenda was to take a cellphone photo of the frog blanket for my California customer. Several more texts with paypal information and delivery instructions, I was half way there. Day three without power, I arrived at work, armed with my box of packing supplies and scale, and packed up my shipment, printed out the postage, and used my lunch hour to send the package off to California. I told my customer she certainly would have a story to tell at her daughter's baby shower! Nine days without power, and in the middle of it, a freak 12" snow storm. But the frogs were delivered! Stay tuned for some more crazy crochet stories!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day Seventeen, January 22nd, 2010

Today was an amazingly happy day. I picked up Chinese Food for my favorite cousin and we celebrated her birthday together while she was babysitting her grandchildren. She will kill me if I tell you how old she is, but let me say that it is the beginning of a decade that has the same number in it as the year I was married, which is 1972. So you can safely guess that she isn't one or two, so that leaves just two options! Anyway, her granddaughter made us super special iced coffees that she especially created at her job at Dunkin Donuts and they were beyond awesome. She has her own secret formula and customers ask for her just so that she can make it for them. Some of the ingredients are extra caramel and heavy cream, don't ask about the calories. From there I headed to historic Gibbsboro for my grandson Damien's first penance. (On the way, I made a little detour but will save that for another time). Damien was really nervous about his First Penance, but after a very lovely play, video, sing a long, and church service the children got to pick their priest, either one behind the traditional closed confessional, or face to face. Damien chose the Pastor, a very kindly looking man with a thick Irish Brogue, who was hearing confessions face to face behind a glass door. He was the next to last to go, and his parents watched very curiously on the other side of the door as he celebrated this important sacrament. When he came out, he was beaming, and professed that it wasn't bad at all. I asked him how it felt to have a clean soul, but he said it didn't feel any different. The children all looked so cheerful that for a moment I even thought about perhaps going to confession myself. Not quite ready for that yet, the trauma of the stern priest at Sacred Heart Church in Jersey City, in 1963 asking me, "is that all" in his booming mean voice just hasn't left me yet. Thank goodness things are different in many ways, and seeing the peaceful joy on Damien's face was the happiest part of today.