Friday, January 30, 2015


Esther always avoided asking questions of Lydley,
who found an answer as she found a key,
by pouring out a pocketful of miscellanies.
~ George Eliot

"So, Gwen, how was your trip to see Ana in Mexico last weekend?"

(The sound of someone rustling in her pocket...)  

Ana by the fountain outside of our hotel

The hotel pool

Weaving by the pool

Typical street scene

Art work on display along the street

Hand painted ceramic tiles

The sun and the moon

The classic Spider man piggy bank - didn't we all have one as a child?

Dia de los muertos hand painted skulls


Hand woven birds

Ah!  Here it is: 

"We had a great time!  Thanks for asking!"  ;)


Speaking of weaving, I haven't started weaving any key fobs yet, but the other folks on the Ravelry site have been gorgeously productive!  

Check out the work of the moderator, Laverne Waddington:

Aren't they beautiful?  

I can't wait to finish my second panel and start working on a key fob or two!  :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Found Treasure!

There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life
when he has a raging desire to go somewhere
and dig for hidden treasures.
~ Mark Twain

I zipped down to Mexico over the weekend and spent 2.5 days visiting with Ana.  During that time, we browsed at a flea market that included a huge stall full of old magazines.  Imagine my joy at finding a handful of sewing pattern magazines!  It was like uncovering an unexpected, hidden treasure!

I purchased 8 of them, at $2.50 each!  

Here are some images from 4 of them, for your enjoyment.  :)

This first one may be a Spanish translation of the German sewing pattern magazine - it appears to have been published in March, 1987.

How awesome is that beret!  Not to mention the creative application of suspenders...  ;)

Next up, Moldes. This issue appears to be from 1997.  (I was surprised by how difficult it was to find publication dates on many of the magazines.  The cover of this one, for example, only says "Year 1, No. 6.")

I thought it was kind of odd that the word WEDDINGS ("BODAS") appeared over a woman wearing a black dress.  But the actual wedding dresses shown in the magazine were in the more traditional white.  

While the magazines I found are like today's Burda World of Fashion sewing pattern magazines in many ways, there are some interesting differences.  For example, in many of these magazines, there is not a sketch of the garment on the same page as the photograph of the model in the garment.  

And check out these poses!  Seriously!?!?   

They do have the standard, abbreviated "instructions"

...and the insane, overlapping sewing pattern sheets to be traced:  

However, some of them threw in some extras for their readers - like the horoscope!  :)

Here is another brand - Moda & Confeccion.  I swear, I searched inside and out, but could not find a publication date anywhere.  The cover only says "Year 1, No. 01."  

This magazine included a few outfits for children; check out this adorable little girl:    

How about this ruffled skirt?  The description includes the phrases "rural ambiance," "aristocratic" and "always in fashion."  Yup, that pretty much sums up my feelings about this outfit too...  ;)

Here's a sample instruction page, including one of the little girl's dresses:  

While all the other magazines I picked up were in Spanish, there was one in German (despite the Spanish on the cover), and it appears to have been published in 1992.

Look at the jacket on the front cover model - yikes, it seems so unflattering on a female form to me...

It is obvious that this magazine was not published in the U.S. - check out this advertisement!

In addition to sewing patterns, this German publication includes hair styles,


and even a crossword puzzle!

It has been so delightful to browse through these magazines!  I'll share some images from the other four magazines (with more focus on the styles themselves) and some photos I took during my visit on another day...  :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

More on Adoption

If it's both terrifying and amazing,
then you should definitely pursue it.
~ Erada

Sorry, I didn't mean to leave you hanging after telling you that we are in the process of qualifying to become adoptive parents of a child in the foster care system.  We're near the beginning of the process and we're in a waiting period, so there hasn't been much news...  

So, I guess that makes this a good time to give you some background.  :)

First, there are two basic types of adoption - private and public.  Many of the adoptions you hear about are private - traveling over to a foreign country and adopting from an orphanage or connecting with a pregnant woman who, for whatever reason, wants to put her child up for adoption, covering her medical expenses and bringing home a newborn.  Private adoptions are often very expensive.  

A public adoption - which is what we are pursuing - is when you connect with your state's foster system and seek out a child in the care of the state, someone whose parents have had their parental rights legally and permanently severed.  

This means that these children are most likely to be older and to have experienced significant trauma in their lives (from parental neglect and/or abuse, not to mention being in and out of foster homes for much of their lives).  These adoptions are also very inexpensive - the state bears the burden of the cost in order to find good homes for the children in their care.  

You can find pictures of the children in the foster care system who are looking for their forever families if you google "heart gallery."  

Warning: Looking at those pictures and reading the short bios of the children may have a destabilizing effect on your current family structure!  That is what got me started on this path...  ;)

In our state, the process to complete a public adoption has many steps.  We  have completed the first couple steps.  In early December, we attended a one hour orientation session.  The adoption worker did a good job of trying to give the attendees a realistic preview of what it means to open your home to a traumatized child, while, at the same time, trying NOT to scare off everybody in the room!  ;)

Then we got our first "test" - an application packet that had to be completed and submitted within a week.  Late applications are NOT accepted.  Return home.  Do not pass "Go."  Do not collect $200.  

The packet was about thirty pages - mostly with information about your finances, any criminal history, and a list of the places you have lived.  They did ask a little bit about what you were looking for in a child (age range, gender, etc.) and there was one "essay question" about your experience with children.  

We submitted our application on time and were accepted to move on to the next step - which is a nine week parenting course.  Our class session begins in mid-March and will meet once a week, for three hours at a time.  We will finish in mid-May.  

Finally, assuming we do well in the course, the next step will be a "home study."  One or more adoption workers will come to our house, put on white gloves and test for dust...  Ooops, no - that's just my nightmare!  ;)

The adoption worker(s) will ensure that our home is a safe environment for a child and spend a lot of time getting to know us - our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses - all that stuff that will help her (or him) identify children who are most likely to be a good fit for our family.  

I'm hoping that our home study, which typically takes a month and apparently includes a lot more paperwork for us, will be completed in June.  If that goes well, we may be meeting potential children next summer.  :)

We are looking for one child only, a girl between the ages of 8 and 17.  

I will definitely keep you posted as we move forward!  Please keep us in your thoughts and hearts as we begin the greatest adventure of our lives!  :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

My First "Weave-Along"

Everything must be made as simple as possible.
But not simpler.  
~ Albert Einstein

I belong to a Backstrap Weaver's Group on Ravelry and the moderator, Laverne Waddington, has proposed a Key Fob Weave Along.

Before agreeing to participate, I thought I'd better find out exactly how a Weave Along (WAL) works - what are the rules?  What exactly would I be committing myself to?

Well, turns out it's pretty complicated - but I'll try to break it down for you...
  1. The start date is January 24th.  
  2. Try to weave some key fobs.  
  3. Post pictures when you do.
  4. Leave nice comments for other people's pictures.  
  5. No end date.  
Yikes!  Did you get all that?  Is your head just all in a whirl?  ;)

Hmmm...  That's an awful lot to commit to, but I think I'm going to give it a try.  ;)

Okay, there is actually one more guideline.  Laverne has encouraged us all to warp and weave only one key fob at a time - instead of preparing a long warp and then weaving lots of key fobs on it.  This way, we'll get practice preparing warps - something I sorely need!  

Here are some of Laverne's past key fobs:

Aren't they gorgeous?  Mine are not going to look like those - I can't do patterns like that yet.  Mine will be more along the lines of vertical and horizontal lines - maybe more like these:

I have picked out my yarn:

Aren't those beautiful colors?  I'm so happy with them!  :)

This will be the narrowest yarn I've ever woven with - it is crochet cotton size 10.    

So, I know the rules and I have my yarn - I am ready for my first WAL!  :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Heavenly Clean

Juliet's version of cleanliness was next to godliness, 
which was to say it was erratic, 
past all understanding,and was seldom seen.
~ Terry Pratchett

A sewing buddy...

... a clean sewing room...

...and time to sew equals:  

Four, finished and two, half-finished toddler skirts for the daughters of my friends at work.  :)

Also known as: heaven!  :)

(Pattern courtesy of the One Yard Wonders book.)

The clean sewing room and the new addition in my sewing room of the floor-to-ceiling bookcase are both courtesy of our adoption plans.  

We spent the week after Christmas cleaning out our guest room in preparation for turning it into a child's room.  This involved rearranging furniture throughout the whole house, including the distribution of three floor-to-ceiling bookcases into other rooms, and resulted in a lot of cleaning and organizing in every single room.  

It's so nice!  I hadn't realized how much the piles of clutter were dragging me down and limiting my productivity.  

Monday, January 19, 2015


Heaven can be found in the most unlikely corners.  
~ Mitch Albom

In the week after I gave Mariana her sewing machine, she made three tote bags - one of which she proudly carried to my house last Saturday.  :)

It was her own "pattern."  She aligned two rectangles, right sides together, and stitched three sides.  She turned it right side out and added a fabric strap.  

Okay, it was a bit raggedy and wouldn't hold much weight without ripping - but she did it herself!  She had the idea.  She reasoned out a pattern.  She applied the right-sides-together process that we used on the pillows.  It was awesome!  :)

It made me so happy to see that she was excited and motivated to sew!

So, I promptly forgot about my plans to weave and spent Saturday morning showing her how to sew a lined bag.

We took pictures of each step on her cell phone, so that she could refer to them and recreate the process by herself at home.  (Gotta love technology!)

I showed her the process that I worked out to make small, lined bags to hold my "How Much Fabric?" reference cards - with these differences:

  1. We used much larger pieces of fabric.
  2. We added handles, instead of the elastic loop and button closure.
  3. We used a heavy duty, canvas-like fabric for the lining.  

Here are pictures illustrating the process:  

Her patience, attention to detail and understanding are amazing - especially for a 10 year old!  

She loves her new bag!  

And then I took her to Joann's and let her pick out more bag fabric.  ;)

I can't wait to see what she does with it!  :)

I think it's official.  I have a sewing friend!  :)

Friday, January 16, 2015


Success is going from failure to failure
without losing your enthusiasm.
~ Winston Churchill

I finally found a definition of success that I can live with!  ;)

The weaving is still a bit "wobbly" in places, but I think it will be good enough to sit on!  ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

If We Had a Curse Jar...

Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower
than curse the darkness.  
~ Terry Pratchett

...we could retire on its contents about now!  ;)

It took me a couple of weeks, but I finally got my next warp ready to weave!  Here is the warp set up to do alternating rows of orange and blue (and no, I am not a Gators Fan).  

But I actually wanted something a bit different - so I had to rearrange the cross again:  

Now you can see I am going to get short bits of alternating orange and blue:  

Before I could test it, I had to put in my string heddles:  

Finally, a few "fat shots" to straighten things out and settle things down.  

I know it's still looking a bit messy, but the last one looked messy at this stage too, and in the end it came out okay.  So I have hopes for this one.  ;)

Plus, NO WAY I am going to pull this out and try for a fourth time!  ;)

The "real" weft will be a thin yarn and so it won't be such a checker-board effect.  

Next weekend will be a long one, so hopefully I can make some real progress on this!  And maybe even get into my sewing room!  Wouldn't that be a nice change of pace?  ;)