Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Big Unpack

Wow, it feels like I've been on a nonstop travel whirlwind for about two weeks. Well, that's probably because I HAVE been. Living out of a suitcase for a fortnight is enough to drive any home loving woman crazy.

During the past week, even though I absolutely LOVE Colorado and have been there many times on business, I discovered that I am capable of experiencing fairly bad Altitude Sickness. So next time, I'll be on the lookout for that ahead of time and will be a bit more prepared for it.

Between business and personal trips, I've had quite enough travel for a while and am happy to say I have a chance to rest and stay home for a while. Yay! At my age, rushing through airports and standing on hard concrete tradeshow floors while trying to look perky isn't my idea of fun. But I'm back now, and ready to sink into my own comfy bed. Whew! (Big sigh of relief).

So what have I been doing, besides working? Not much. But I did manage to knit one hat, the Amanda hat, for our Sunflower Guild's charity Christmas project. We're knitting or crocheting hats for teens, both boys and girls. If you have any really cute patterns that a teenager would love, let me know (especially if it is FREE). This one, the Amanda hat, happens to be a freebie and is very easy and fun to do. Even though I'm a slow knitter, I managed to finish it in just a few days of snatched knitting time. So I'd highly recommend this one. It would also make a good quick gift if you need to whip up something fast.

Oh, and we're still preparing in every way possible, for our daughter's launch off to college. We just returned from a college orientation weekend that left us all excited, anxious, happy, and looking forward to a new phase of life --- both ours and more importantly, hers. I keep saying it, but really, I can't believe my daughter is growing up and away from us so fast. So on the way there, I started working on her college afghan that she requested. It's a Granny Square afghan. I was instructed by her to make it "as wild, with crazy colors" as possible. She wants it soft and washable, so I'm using Berocco's DK Comfort Acyllic yarn. It is wonderful, soft stuff that washes up very well. I love this stuff! Here are the first two Granny Squares that I managed to create based on the free and well-written "Traditional Granny Square" pattern offered by Heirloom Stitches.

These little squares were VERY FUN to whip up. So I will go buy some more of the yarn, in more colors, maybe tomorrow, if I can find a shop that is open and stocks it. Crocheting or sewing them together may not be as much fun, but the project is perfect for an on-the-go crocheter like me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feel'n The Wheel Lust

When I was a teenager, I had no sense of fashion, and was very thrify with my hard-earned money, most of which I earned through babysitting. So when I went to buy shoes, I distinctly remember telling the shoe store clerk that I wanted to buy a pair of shoes that I could wear ANYWHERE. I didn't want a dress shoe or a casual shoe, but wanted a "do everything" shoe. Her eyes widened and she said, "But we don't have that. We have dress shoes, casual shoes, boots, party shoes, sandals. We don't have DO EVERYTHING shoes."

So now, I have a perfectly good spinning wheel, a Kromski Sonata (shown at left), which I've only had since November 2009, but I find myself lusting after other wheels, preferably, like the shoe request, one that can do EVERYTHING and be EVERYTHING - it should be able to spin everything from lace weight to Art Yarn. It should be sturdy but beautiful and traditional. It should also be affordable, not too extravagant. It shouldn't take up too much room in my house, and be at least somewhat portable. It should treadle easily and effortlessly. It should be easy - both on the eyes and the pocketbook, but not TOO easy or common. It should be all things rolled up into one.

When did these disturbing feelings arise? Well, it started with second guessing my wheel choice, maybe I SHOULD have chosen the Ashford Traveller, which I've always loved, or the Kromski Minstrel, which is about the same price but has double drive as well as single and is so much PRETTIER than mine, in the traditional wheel look that makes me swoon. I'd want mine in Mahogony.

And then, when I went to Jeff City last Spring, I sat next to a lady who had a Spinolution Bee, a very clever and cute travel wheel that treadled from side to side - a very unusual treadling motion. And it packed up like a dream, so cute and so efficient, as well as a dream to spin on.

Oh and another wheel fastasy. Just one more I REALLY like. Ahem. The Majacraft Rose. Yep. A little outside my limited budget unless I get a REALLY good deal on a used one. Possible but unlikely.

So now, I want another wheel. Don't need one. Just one one. It's wheel lust, plain and simple. What's a girl who wants everything to do?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Time Travel Weekend: A Gothic Melodrama

What did I do this weekend? I attended "The Trial of the Century" that occurred one hundred years ago, a reenactment of the trial put on by the Jackson County Historical Society.

Was it Murder? Centennial Commemorative Re-Enactment of the TRIAL OF THE CENTURY: Swope v. Hyde. Saturday, June 12, 2010. 2-4 p.m. at the Truman Memorial Building (corner of Truman and Pleasant Street). Thank you in advance for your continuing support of our organization! This event brought to you in partnership with the Independence Parks & Recreation Department

Here's the story: In October of 1909, one of Kansas City's wealthiest families, the Swope Family, was headed by a spinster uncle named Charles who was a real estate mogul who had acquired and then sold, some of Kansas City's prime real estate in the downtown area. At the age of 82, since he was a bachelor, he lived in a mansion with his widowed sister Margaret, and seven of her grown children on Pleasant Street in Independence, Missouri. One of those nieces of his, Francine, had just married a young doctor from Lexington, Missouri, a divorced man whom the family didn't like or approve. The couple had moved to a nearby mansion that Mr. Swope had bought for them in Kansas City.

One fall night in 1909, Mrs. Swope had traveled out of town, and one of the nephews, Chrisman, became deathly ill, along with a cousin. Dr. Hyde was brought in to treat the ailing relatives, but they mysteriously went into convulsions and died, along with Mr. Swope, the wealthy uncle, and both were said, by Dr. Hyde, to have had strokes. Many of the other younger nephews and neices became ill with what was believed to be Typhus, though the convulsive symptoms weren't consistent with that illness. It was noticed by the attending nurses that every time Dr. Hyde gave them pills to take, and he treated a patient, they became much worse and died. Only when Dr. Hyde was banished from the home did the patients improve and eventually everyone became well again.

It was later learned that Dr. Hyde had been buying cyanide pills from a local pharamacist and claimed he was buying the poison "to kill cockroaches and some annoying dogs." They became suspicious and he was charged with murder. It was rumored that he wanted to kill several of his wife's siblings as well as the elder Mr. Swope because he hoped to ensure and increase his wife's inheritance, when he heard rumor that Mr. Swope was about to change his will and give most of his wealth to charity and to reduce the amount willed to his relatives.

Thus the "Trial of the Century" ensued only months after the deaths, and it became a Victorian age media frenzy. Media coverage went on for 10 years as Dr. Hyde was tried and retried seven times in total.

Yesterday, the public was invited to attend the reenactment of the trial and it went on for an extra hour - from 2:00-5:00. The reenacters did a fabulous job. The whole crowd sat is rapt attention for 3 hours, with only a brief bathroom break to stir the spell.

I'd already read the book, Deaths on Pleasant Street by Giles Fowler, but the trial was still fascinating to me and so well done! My grandmother, who is 94, still remembers the old mansion, which was torn down in 1960. She remembers going inside and wishing it weren't demolished.

Though the mystery of the deaths will probably never be resolved, speculation is still buzzing.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Failed Project

Lately, I've been feeling pulled in too many directions. This is reflected perfectly in my knitting/crafting life.

I have been trying, for two months, to work on a Seraphina shawl (crochet project).

Unfortunately, I've gone wrong on it - several rows ago, and didnt' realize it. Somehow I was able to keep crocheting until this one point, along about Row 18 on Sequence 1 and I realize that I don't have the right stitches for it. Took it to the crocheters at Target on Thursday night and found out that I goofed up WAY back, many rows ago, because it seems that sometimes I included the beginning V stitch and sometimes I didn't, and I have an extra shell on one side - all of this will probably mean little to noncrocheters, but suffice to say, I royally goofed up my Seraphina. It was meant as a prayer shawl gift, but it's evidenly not meant to be (at least for now). I am just too frustrated with it. And I thought it was turning out so well.

Big squash to the overconfidence, that's for sure.

So now I'm letting it go, putting it away, at least for now.

At any rate, I'm casting on for a knitted shawl rather than a crochet, because I'm more confident in that. And I'm picking an easier pattern this time. This is a prayer shawl - so I don't need to be fretting about it, don't you agree? It should be a calm project, not a frazzled one. So I frogged the frazzled Seraphina that was not meant to be, and am turning to calm anticipation of the lilac of the new shawl.

Why do I seeem to have a string of SEVERAL projects go astray before something comes together? Gosh, this sounds like life in general, doesn't it? But sometimes, rather it's in crocheting, knitting or in LIFE, you need to recognize when it's bad and let it go.