Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Pictures

Cats are geniuses because they know that looking out windows
is better than watching Reality TV.
~ Jarod Kintz

I think Oliver and Sophie were happy to have me back in my sewing room over the weekend - they kept me company while I finished my husband's shirt.  Oh, and they kept me safe, vigilantly guarding against any dangers that might have been lurking outside the window:  

(Okay, Oliver may have dozed off, but only because he knew that Sophie had it covered...)  

Popeye, on the other hand... 

... slept happily (and obliviously) in his new favorite spot in the family room.  ;) 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dangerous Weaving

You know there's no more dangerous creature on earth
than the teenage girl.
~ Miranda Kenneally

On Saturday, I demonstrated remarkable bravery (quite similar, in practice, to foolhardiness) and introduced two teenage girls to weaving.  In a little more than an hour, using up almost all of my t-shirt yarn remnants, Mariana and Carolyn had woven a full size rag rug...  

To prove that they are, indeed, teenage girls, I offer this:  Carolyn documented the entire event with a host of "selfies", which I borrowed to form this collage:  

They both did really well and liked it a lot!  I predict more teen-girl weaving parties in my future...  ;)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Christmas Sewing Finished! ;)

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
~ Alexander Pope

Last week was kind of rough at work, and I ended up crashing on Friday and sleeping the day away.  Somehow that made a big difference in my weekend - instead of feeling rushed and stressed and overwhelmed, I was amazed to discover that (for the first time in forever) I had enough time and energy to get into my sewing room.  

Where - finally! - I finished the second of my husband's (Christmas) Hawaiian shirts:  

I had to insert the sleeves, sew the side seams, hem it and then do the buttonholes and buttons - less than 2 hours worth of work.  (Although, lint-brushing all the cat fur off the fabric added a good 10 minutes to the effort...)  

The fabric theme is Route 66 and it is covered with vintage-esque postcards from states along the road.  We've driven several sections of the road during our trips out west, so it has a special meaning for us and he loves the shirt.  :)

It's funny how I didn't accomplish anything (except sleeping) on Friday, but my two-day weekend (Saturday and Sunday) seemed so much more leisurely than it usually does.  Man, I really want to switch to a 32-hour work week...  

As for getting into the sewing room, nothing motivates me like a commitment and a deadline, and on Saturday a friend asked me if I could make a skirt for her AND a dress for her daughter - in time for a party on May 31st!  

Keeping in mind that we've got our big Peru trip between now and then, only an idiot would have agreed...  

Ooops...  ;(

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fit to be Tied-Dyed

All things old become new again.  
In my youth the athletes had crew cuts and the hippies had long hair.  
Now the athletes have long hair and the hippies are bald.
~ Harley King

Our lovely, 17-year-old niece spent a long weekend with us and I introduced her to weaving rag rugs.  

That's either a benefit or drawback to being related to me - you are automatically introduced to all of my hobbies.  There's no need to ask...  

Or even to express the slightest interest, when it comes to that!  ;)

I bought some red-orange-yellow tie-dyed t-shirt yarn just for this occasion, and helped her weave a rag rug with three different sections.  The first section was a plain weave:  

The middle section had a chevron pattern:

And the last section had...  well, another pattern.  I don't know how to describe it.  

Once again, I'm not sure that the t-shirts that gave their lives for this yarn were actually "used" - because after a single washing, the white fringe turned into a delightful pink.  

She may not love weaving quite as much as I do, but I think she is happy with her rug.  :)

Here is a parting shot of our beautiful niece.  :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Taxes Submitted!

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.  
~ Albert Einstein

It ate up most of my day on Sunday, but I managed to get our taxes completed and submitted electronically...  We owed, but less than last year - which, I guess, could be interpreted as either a good thing OR a bad thing...  ;)

I'm just glad they are done!  

Monday, April 14, 2014

I've Started Cutting...

100 years ago, buying something you could make was considered wasteful;
now making something you could buy is considered wasteful.  
I am not convinced this is a step in the right direction.  
~ Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I've enlisted the aid of an almost-14-year-old friend and we have begun cutting my used t-shirts into "tarn" (t-shirt yarn) for weaving rag rugs.  On Saturday, we completed five balls of tarn:  

We tried both 1 inch width cuts and 3/4 inch width cuts - I think either size will work just fine for weaving and the 1 inch cuts were a bit less error-prone.  

Okay, okay - our work hasn't reached the quality of the tarn rolls (or cakes) that can be purchased on Etsy:  

But, my argument is that "rag rugs" are allowed to look a bit raggedy...  ;)

"Whoa, Nelly!," Popeye exclaims, "That's one mighty fine looking tarn cake!"  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weaving: A Team Sport?

I want my time to be taken up by chores, 
errands, appointments, and arguments. 
In other words, I want to get married.
~ Jarod Kintz

So, I am preparing a new warp for my loom - but when I pulled these five rag rugs off the loom (one, two, three, four and five), there was still some (unknown-to-me amount of) warp (the long white threads) left - and I have been wondering if there is enough to weave one more rug on this warp first.  

Of course, experienced weavers know how much warp they have at all times - but (in case you haven't noticed) I'm still kind of winging it...  ;)

Speaking of winging it, given that I had completed the five rugs that I wanted to get from this warp, I decided to take a little bit of a risk and see if I could fix this threading error:  

So I clipped those 3 threads that were twisted, untwisted them and tied them together again.  

Everything looks nice and straight - now we just have to wait and see if (a) the knots hold and (b) they don't look too lame in the rug - assuming, of course, that there is enough warp left for another rug!  ;)

My 17-year-old niece is visiting for a weekend in a couple of weeks, and I thought that she might enjoy trying her hand at weaving a rag rug for herself.  So, I'm going to get everything ready to go for her visit.  :)

Oh, there's one more loom issue that needs to be addressed before I will be ready to weave with my niece:  

I'm going to enlist my husband's help with this one...  

Man, when I first told him that I wanted a loom, I bet he never dreamed that he was signing on for a team sport!  ;)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Pictures

You can learn many things from children cats.
How much patience you have, for instance.  
~ Franklin P. Jones (with minor edit by me)

Did I mention that the cats "helped" me with the t-shirt yarn?  ;)

Oliver: "You're welcome."


Popeye: "Hey!  What gives?  This stuff is too thick to eat!"  


Thank goodness they were distracted by something outside, before Oliver had the chance to drag the whole pile of yarn out onto the porch...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend Procrastination

You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. 
You have to be in the right mood. 
What mood is that? 
Last-minute panic.

~ Bill Watterson

Over the weekend, I filled five gallon-sized freezer bags with all the ingredients necessary for a crock-pot meal of Chicken and Vegetable Marinara for our exchange today at work...

Slow Cooker Marinara Chicken and Vegetables

...I cut one of my husband's old t-shirts into a continuous, 3/4 inch wide strip of yarn for practice...  

...and I measured 120, 10-yard lengths of rag rug string - half of what I need to prepare the loom for another 7 rag rugs!  :)

How is that "procrastination" you might be wondering...  

It sounds like I got a fair amount done, right?  

Well, here is what I should have been doing...  

Sigh...  :(

Friday, April 4, 2014

Some Favorite Mexico Pictures: Part 5

When you feel yourself unhappy,
look at a smiling child,
you will feel happy again!
~ Mehmet Murat ildan

I saved my favorite pictures for last - pictures of the children.  :)

I think I'll let these speak for themselves...  ;)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Some Favorite Mexico Pictures: Part 4

The ache for "home" lives inside all of us, 
to be able to return to our safe place
and not have to be stressed and burdened by the world.  
~ Jose N. Harris

One day last week, we visited the village where Ana and all of her older brothers and sisters had been born.  (The family moved away when Ana was four years old.)

Apparently they usually just walk to this village.  Ana told me that it takes about 90 minutes (each way!).  But, out of consideration for me, Ana arranged for someone to take us on a motorcycle - it took 2 trips to get me, Ana and two of her young nieces there.  (And then 2 more trips to get us back.)

I managed to get a nice 2nd degree burn on my ankle from the motorcycle's exhaust system.  (At least that took my mind off the sunburn!)

Here is Ana with an old and dear family friend from the village:

Here, Ana decides it's a good idea to load herself and her nieces into a boat of unknown ownership and unknown sea-worthiness and, using sticks, push it into the middle of a river.  

I volunteered to stay on shore - you know, so that I could get a good picture...  ;)

But the highlight of the trip was when Ana got to visit the house that she had been born in:  

There is another family living there now, but they let her stand in the doorway and pose for this picture.  She doesn't remember living there, but was really excited to get to visit it.  :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Some Favorite Mexico Pictures: Part 3

Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless,
but they are also perishable. 
There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. 
There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. 
~ Thomas S. Monson

One of my favorite parts of these trips is picking out and taking gifts for Ana's nieces and nephews.  (Gift-giving - a legitimate excuse to shop!)  

I gave three-year-old Neri this alphabet board - a magnet in the stylus pulls small ball bearings up to the surface as you trace out each letter:  

She thought that the pen was full of ball bearings and was amazed that it never seemed to run out!  ;)

For the older girls, I got one of those rainbow looms that were all the rage around here last Christmas - and discovered that Mexican girls love it just as much as American girls!  ;)

Chayito had asked for a painter's palette - I found an art set that had a palette and a variety of paints and paint brushes.  Here she is (with the help of one of her cousins) painting her first masterpiece! 

While the gifts were, as always, a big hit - the real star of my visit was my tablet!  Everyone - from the 3-year-olds to the adults - wanted to play "Tomb Runner 2" and "Plants versus Zombies."  

The kids were amazingly good at sharing - there was very little squabbling.  On their own, they decided that "fair" was letting each person play until that person died in the game and then letting the next person play.  

But this resulted in the little kids (3-5 years old) having very short turns and the bigger kids (8-13 years old) having much longer turns.  

I finally convinced them to let the little kids go through two lives on each turn, instead of just one...  ;)

And my payoff?  They racked up tons of points for me!  ;)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Some Favorite Mexico Pictures: Part 2

We are always the same age inside.  
~ Gertrude Stein

While in Mexico last week, there were moments when I found myself marveling that I was there because of a seemingly small and simple decision that I made about 7 years ago - the decision to try to teach two young Mexican women, Ana and Juana, how to sew.  

On this blog, I mostly talk about Ana - because, through the years, she and I grew very close - and I have been down to visit her in Mexico several times.  

On this trip, for the first time, I got to see Juana too!  

Before I show you those pictures, here are some shots from 2008, when we first met:  

Above is Juana, with her boyfriend Abel, modeling the first shirt that she ever sewed for him.  

And below is their son, Alex, who was born while they were still in the United States.  

Now, from last week, here is Juana in her small house in Mexico:  

And here is Abel, with Alex, their now three-year-old son:  

I never notice how quickly time is passing, until I see how much a child has grown...