Friday, December 30, 2005

Knitting for a New Baby!

Since the Christmas rush is over, I can now concentrate on making things for my step-daughter's new baby. She is going to be delivered in February, so that gives me enough time to make quite a few things. I bought tons of sewing patterns on sale for 99 cents each at Hobby Lobby, so now I just need to find the appropriate material for making lots of pretty dresses and hats. I'll be making casual day-to-day clothes as well, but it will be nice to finally make little dresses. I had three sons, so I never got the chance to do that!

I've already knit a few things, and just started making a lovely pink afghan.

I think it's going to be just beautiful. I've already made some hats and booties, but I'll be making more. This is so much fun!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Not a Normal Christmas This Year

Well, the Christmas season is finally over, and it was not an average Christmas by any means. We didn't even put up our tree this year! I was sick for the entire month of December, eventually discovering that I have developed asthma. My allergies began in earnest about 7 years ago, and since that time, I've had several other health problems, including arthritis, a thyroid disorder, and several upper respiratory infections. It's been a real drag. But enough of my whining.

The Christmas program at church went well. The choir eventually learned all the notes that were put down on manuscript paper 300 years ago by Pergolesi or one of his contemporaries. "Magnificat" was beautiful, with a string quartet and organ (by yours truly) accompaniment. The text had to be performed in English, because our choir just wasn't ready for a proper Latin performance. Oh well. It was still a nice treat for the holidays.

I missed all the holiday parties because of my illness. My first sign of sickness was the last week of November. I had a cold, with fever, sore throat, runny nose and eyes, sore joints, coughing, and a splitting headache. Over the course of the next four weeks, I went to the doctor 3 times. Including my copay and prescriptions, I spent about 200 dollars on this "cold". Now, I'm using an inhaler every night and running a vaporiser to help me sleep. I'm also taking prednisone every day for the next week. I even had to get a shot at my last doctor visit. Ouch! I'm just glad that the cough has slowed down.

There I go whining again. As you can see, this sickness has really bummed me out.

So, since I didn't get to go to a single Christmas dinner or party, I feel like Christmas never really happened! Since Christmas Eve was on a Saturday this year, and Christmas morning was on Sunday, my entire weekend was taken up with music at church. My husband left on Saturday morning to visit with his family. I couldn't go because of my church organist responsibilities, so I spent Christmas Eve and morning all by myself. : (

I saw Josh and Noah on Christmas Eve at their dad's house. I gave them their Christmas gift and got hugs. Then, I spent that afternoon buying a small gift for my sweet husband. We didn't have a lot of money this year for Christmas, because I didn't make enough money this month. I had to cancel so many piano lessons because of my sickness. Bummer!

But it was still a decent holiday. I made Christmas cookies when I wasn't absolutely miserable.
Cutting Out Christmas Cookies
Lots of Christmas Ginger Cookies!
World's Easiest Christmas Cookies Ready!
I had already finished knitting lots of scarves, and ready to give as gifts. Thank God! Each of my students got a box of cookies and a scarf. I let them pick the scarf they wanted from a large basket. I gave cookies to friends at church, and scrounged around the house for other gifts. Books were given to some family members, because we have so many books in our house. The only shopping I had to do was for a few family members, so it wasn't that bad.

I saw TJ yesterday at my Mom's house, and we were able to spend about 3 or 4 hours together, so that was very nice. I gave him the orange hat and mittens, and he really liked them! I should have taken a picture of him wearing them, but I forgot to take my camera. Boo hoo!

When Marvin went to see his family, I sent him with a boxful of gifts for them. "The Cat Who..." books for his mom and sister (I'm addicted to that series by Lilian Jackson Braun). Gift cards for his brothers. And a new knitted hat for his dad. Here's a picture of it, as well as a picture of him wearing it. It was so thick and warm. I hope he likes it. I know that Marvin does. I had to make one for him too!

We got some nice cards and gifts from friends and family, so it was enjoyable. I'm looking forward to using my gift card at Hobby Lobby today or tomorrow! (Josh got that for me.) I gave Marvin a computer program for learning to play guitar. Now all he needs is the actual instrument. lol

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Prayer for Noah

My son Noah had a bad night a couple days ago. He is going through so much emotional turmoil in his adolescent years. He was reaching the end of his rope the other night, so I had to intervene and get help for him. He was very mad at me, but I know I did the right thing for him. He is still lashing out and pushing me away. Hopefully, the end result will make up for all this.

I'll keep interceding for him, and pray that he sees hope in his heart. I appreciate your prayers for him as well. He is a sweet guy underneath all his anger, so his life could be super if he concentrates on the right things.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Preemie Baby Santa Hat Knitting Pattern

Preemie Baby Santa Hat with Roll Brim
Designed by Sandy Davis
SIZE: Medium Preemie (You can make your hat larger by changing to larger needles, or smaller by changing to fingering yarn)

Sport Weight Yarn – 1 skein Red, 1 skein White
Size 4 Double Pointed Needles
1 size 5 straight knitting needle
Tapestry Needle for sewing in yarn ends.

Gauge is not important, since hospitals need hats in various sizes. You can make several of these hats with different size needles and different weights of yarn, so that the hospital will have several sizes to choose from.

Using White yarn, and the size 5 straight needle, Cast on 61 stitches. Slip stitches (purl-wise) onto 3 of the double point needles (21 on 1st needle, 20 on 2nd needle and 20 on 3rd needle).

Join: Being careful not to twist the stitches, slip the first stitch from the 1st needle to the 3rd needle, and tighten the two strands of yarn that are hanging from the stitch. Using both of these strands of yarn, knit the first two stitches together. (This secures the beginning strand, as well as joining the circle)

Knit every stitch, until you come to the two strands again. This is one round.
Knit every round, using the two strands as your “marker”. Knit a total of 11 rounds with the white yarn.

Cut the yarn about 4 inches from the knitting, and tie on the red yarn, close to the last stitch.

Knit every round with the red yarn for 11 more rounds. You have a total of 22 rounds completed now. Continue using the red yarn.

Round 23: *Knit 8, Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.
Knit 2 rounds
Round 26: *Knit 7, Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.
Knit 4 rounds
Round 31: *Knit 6, Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.
Knit 2 rounds
Round 34: *Knit 5, Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.
Knit 3 rounds
Round 38: *Knit 4, Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.
Knit 2 rounds
Round 41: *Knit 3, Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.
Knit 4 rounds
Round 46: *Knit 2, Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.
Knit 2 rounds
Round 49: *Knit 1, Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.
Knit 2 rounds
Round *Knit 2 together – repeat from * around.

Cut yarn about 8 inches from knitting. Using tapestry needle, run this yarn end through the remaining stitches and pull tight. Push needle through to the top point to the inside of hat. Turn hat inside out and secure yarn with a few stitches at the point. Weave in ends and clip. Turn hat right side out.

Make a pom pom with white yarn and sew securely to the top of the hat.

You’re done!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sick of Being Sick

Bummer. I thought for sure that I would be over my cold by now. I got sick on Tuesday, November 29th. Now, it's Monday, December 12th, and I'm still in a fog. I went to the doctor last Monday, and of course I had no fever on that day. antibiotics were prescribed.

My fever has come and gone over the past two weeks, but it's never been that high. I just feel lousy is all. Sore throat, sneezing, coughing, tired all the time. It's a drag.

One good thing happened though. My new sewing machine came in the mail! I was so excited to finally get it. I spent the day watching the video and learning all the stitches. I finished sewing together all the preemie outfits for charity, and now I'm cutting out another maternity top for my step-daughter. It's nice to be able to sew again. My other sewing machine died, after giving me more than 20 years of service. It was a good one. I hope my new machine will last as long.

I wasn't able to teach piano lessons for the past two weeks, so my income for the month has been severely cut. No sick pay for piano teachers! Figures my income would be sliced in the month of December, when I really need the money for Christmas gifts for my kids. Oh well. We always make it somehow. The Lord always provides.

I've been knitting a lot, since I wasn't able to leave the house. I made some mittens and a hat for my youngest son. His favorite color is orange, and I found some appropriate yarn, along with some free knitting patterns on the internet. The set turned out very nice.

Now, I'm working on some more hats, scarves, mittens, socks, and afghans for the rest of my family. I guess it's gonna be a homemade Christmas this year, cause I don't see how I could possibly afford to buy gifts for anyone.

Oh well, at least I have the ability to make things! Thank God for that.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the day very much. It was a relaxing time, and I got to see my sister! She moved to California over a year ago, and decided to come and visit this year. She came with her boyfriend and his son and their dog.

Here are some photos:

We had turkey (of course), ham, rice, dressing, gravy, squash casserole, broccoli casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish and sauce, potato salad, green beans, biscuits, tea and coffee. For dessert, we had fresh coconut cake, pumpkin pie, and apple tart with vanilla ice cream. It was a wonderful meal. My mother prepared it all, the sweet southern woman that she is. My sister and I just came and brought our sweet men to eat it all. Yum! Even the dog had a plate!

The photos were all taken after the meal, and everyone was stuffed and happy. Here's another photo of my sister, my mom, and me:

And another photo of my mom with my step-dad.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Farewell Kenmore, Hello Simplicity!

My poor old Kenmore model 12493 has finally died. It was purchased by my first husband way back in 1984, and I used it to make maternity clothes, baby clothes, little boy clothes, pillows, curtains, dresses, blouses - the list goes on and on. This old Kenmore was there for me through all the repairs of torn jeans, ripped seams, and split pants of many years. After my first marriage ended, I sewed shirts for new boyfriends, pillows for friends, and tote bags for piano students. I even used it to make costumes for my church's Christmas play one year.

My new husband Marvin has watched me sew a few things, smiling at me the entire time. (He's so much sweeter than my first husband.) My old Kenmore has been with me through a lot of life's adventures. I spent the last few weeks making a maternity blouse for Marvin's daughter, and premature baby vests for a hospital charity. While making the last vest, my old Kenmore has screamed and scraped along, crying for mercy. I know it doesn't need oil, because I spent an hour oiling every moving part a few weeks ago. I think it's just the end of a great friendship. Time to say goodbye.

So......I've spent the entire day researching the internet for a new sewing machine. I can't afford to buy one at full retail price, so I've been looking on ebay mostly. We don't have any spare money at all, so we're going to have to cut back somewhere in order to make this purchase. We decided to purchase a new machine for 100 dollars at the most, which has really limited my choices.

My dream is to have a combination sewing/embroidery machine so I can make pretty items for the hospital charity, but I have to let that dream die I guess. Those embroidery machines are WAY expensive. I did find one for 200 dollars on ebay, but after researching it, I realized that the thread alone would have cost a fortune. Good thing I didn't bid on it.

Today, I found a lot of options on ebay that are more in line with our budget. There was one machine I really wanted, but it costs 150 dollars. Marvin wanted me to go ahead and get it, but I just couldn't do it with a clear conscience. Our money is so tight, so it just wouldn't be fair. He told me to choose the machine I want, and then he went to sleep.

As Marvin lay asleep, I continued looking on the internet for more options. I prayed to God, saying, "Lord, help me find a good sewing machine so I can sew more baby clothes for the hospital charity. It would be nice to have a good machine, so any help is greatly appreciated." Then, I kept perusing the internet.
I decided to make a spreadsheet of the different sewing machines I found. I made columns for Brand, Model, Ebay Price (including shipping), Built-In Stitches, Stitch Functions, Buttonhole Capability, Embroidery Stitches, and Retail Price.

The machine I really, really liked was the Brother CS6000T, which is the one I told Marvin about. It costs $150. It has 60 built in stitches, 100 stitch functions, a 1-step buttonhole, quilting capabilities, a large quilting table, and 34 embroidery stitches. It retails for more than $400, so it was a real deal at $150. But, we just can't afford that right now.

My next favorite was the Brother XL3500T. It costs $120, has 35 stitches, 59 stitch functions, a 4-step buttonhole, quilting capabilities, a large quilting table, and 18 embroidery stitches. It retails for $269, so it's a pretty good deal. But I kept thinking that for $30 more, I could have the better model which is a super deal in comparison. I just couldn't live with making that purchase.

Next on my list was the Brother XL 2600. It costs $95, has 25 stitches, 59 stitch functions, and a 4-step buttonhole. It retails for $169. It just didn't really grab me. No embroidery stitches at all.....bummer.

So, then I started looking further on ebay to see what else I could find. I spent many hours looking at several brands and models, reading reviews on and studying specifications on their brand websites.

Eventually, I came across the Simplicity Denim Star SW210. It looked kind of wimpy in comparison to the Brother CS6000T. It doesn't have a large quilting table, and it's not a "computerized" model. But, the price is right - $79.00 including shipping. It has 21 built-in stitches, 45 stitch functions, a 4-step buttonhole, and a few other things that got my attention. The box includes an instruction video, and a pattern to make a denim tote bag. It also has a coupon to get 3 free Simplicity patterns. Cool! It has some embroidery stitches too!

I found a review on the internet that encouraged me as well, so I decided to go for it. I went to the auction and clicked "Buy It Now". It felt good to make my choice and be happy about it.

Tomorrow, I'll go to the post office and mail my money order. It sure will be nice to get a new sewing machine. Yippee!

I still have a few more sleepy vests to make for the premature babies, so I might have to borrow my mom's machine for a few days until my new "Denim Star" gets here. She probably won't mind, since it's for a good cause. If all else fails, I'll use my old serger. Hey, if I wear that one out, maybe I can talk Marvin into letting me get a new serger too! : P

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Organ at My Church

Last night, I took some photos of the organ at my church to show where I spend my Sunday mornings. It's a decent size organ - a 3 manual Gallanti. It doesn't sound too bad for an electronic machine. : ) But, I do dream of playing a pipe organ. That would be awesome. I studied on a pipe organ in college, but I've never been hired by a church that owns one. At least I have experienced the pleasure of sitting at one and making my hair stand on end from the majestic sounds it creates.

I guess my most exciting pipe organ moment was taking a few lessons from Dan Miller on the Calvary Grand Organ. That was amazing. The organ itself was magnificent, and Dan was a real joy to meet. His playing is phenomenal, but he doesn't boast about it. He's a really cool guy.

I am so jealous of his long fingers and feet! He can play the keyboards and pedals so easily because of their reach. My fingers and feet are short, so it really limits my repertoire.

I'll be seeing my organ instructor, Dr. Andre Lash in a couple weeks. I've asked for his help on some pieces our church will be performing for Christmas. The Pergolesi "Magnificat" and "This Child, This King" by Daniel Gawthrop. Wish me luck!

Knitting for Charity

My knitting needles have been clicking every night, and the results are so cute! I've been making hats and booties for premature babies in Charlotte area hospitals. The Christmas sets are adorable!

I make these sets for an organization in Charlotte called "Charlotte Threads of Love". Here's their website:

It has been so much fun to work on these items. I just wish I could be there at the hospital to see them on the little tiny babies. That would be so cool. Those little babies are too small for regular baby clothes, so all their items have to be made for them.

There are so many free patterns on the internet! I have spent as much time looking through all the patterns as I have spent knitting. The pattern surfing is so addictive. All you have to do is go to and search for "free knitting pattern", and you'll find a treasure trove of patterns. Way cool.

Back to knitting....and pattern surfing. : )

Friday, November 11, 2005

My Sewing Memories

I'm changing gears and working on sewing for a while. My knitting is going along just fine. My embroidery is on hold for a little while. But, I have to do some sewing, because my husband's daughter is expecting a baby in February, and she needs some maternity clothes! Maternity clothes are so expensive, and you only wear them for a short time, so it makes sense to save all the money you can and make them yourself.

So, I bought about 4 maternity patterns that she liked, and now I'm working on the first item - a nice pink top with bell sleeves. The pattern is Simplicity 5106.

While working on the stitching, I started remembering all the sewing I've done in my life. I learned to sew in my 4-H club - The Willow Oak club in Union County. I can't remember the name of my leader, but she was very nice. She lived on a farm, and she showed other club members how to work with the animals. I had no interest in those things, but I loved cooking, sewing, and other household pursuits. She taught me how to sew a simple gingham skirt and kerchief, and then showed me how to add cross-stitch on the borders. It turned out so nice, and I really enjoyed wearing it for the annual 4-H fashion show. I was so proud.

My mother used to sew occasionally, but as I recall, she was not a very patient seamstress. She constantly complained about the sewing machine! I used to tell her to "just quit sewing and do something else!" My sister and I learned to hide in our rooms on the days she was sewing. We knew we would get screamed at if we uttered a sound.

My own experience with sewing was much more satisfying. Of course, my mother was always there if the bobbin got stuck or the needle broke. I was lucky that she was cushioning my catastrophes. Over the years, I continued sewing, and I haven't stopped yet. I purchased my own sewing machine, a Sears Kenmore 10 stitch model, right after I got married the first time. I was 20 years old then. When I got pregnant a year later, I took the machine out and started making maternity clothes.

I made several dresses and tops, and only had to buy pants. So it was definitely a cost-worthy endeavor. I was able to use those maternity clothes for all of my pregnancies! Here I am, wearing a simple plaid dress I sewed when I was pregnant with my second son, Noah. My first son, Josh is in my lap.

I occasionally made things for my boys to wear, but boys clothes are so simple and boring. I never made any pictures of them. Now, if I had girls, I would have happily made dresses and taken tons of pictures of those.

And now, for my great surprise - my step-daughter is expecting a girl! Yippee! Now, I can finally look forward to making frilly dresses and hats. I can't wait.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cross Stitch Charts for Tired Eyes

I have discovered a way to use my old cross-stitch patterns. I was afraid that I would never be able to do cross-stitch again, because my vision has gotten to the point where I can't see the charts anymore.

Well, I put my brain to work on that problem, and realized one easy solution. Using the scanner with my computer, I scan the design and save it on my hard drive. Then, I open the design and enlarge it on my screen! I can get as close as I want, and I can see every single little detail. It is so cool!

< - - - Actual Size.

So, now I've been scanning all my cross-stitch designs and writing them to a CD so I can use them on any computer. Way cool.

< - - Zoomed In Version

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My Halloween Concert is This Weekend!

I've been busy practicing and practicing. I'm almost ready for our annual Halloween Music Concert at church. I started it last year, performing several "dark" piano and organ pieces for Halloween. I also invited a guest organist, Dr. Richard Peak, to perform Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". It was lots of fun, and very successful. So, this year I'm doing it again.

I'll be starting off the concert with several fun pieces like themes from "The Munsters" and "The Addams Family" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Then, we'll be dancing to "The Monster Mash". We also have a skit prepared with "Dracula" and our church's pastor having a conversation about blood.

After that, we'll be taking an offering. Half of the offering will go to Hurricane Katrina and Rita relief funds. The other half will be used by the church in our building fund. Our church is over 50 years old, and is in great need of repair.

After the offering is taken, we will continue the concert with more serious works, interspersed with true stories of Christian martyrs. It's amazing the suffering these martyrs had to endure for their faith. We take our faith for granted these days, not realizing how difficult it was in the foundation of our church. This musical tribute is our way of recognizing them for All Saints Day.

I'm looking forward to the concert. My fingers are ready!

If you want to come, the concert will be taking place at Memorial United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. The address is 4012 Central Avenue.

Why are Disasters "blamed" on the Government?

I tell you....I am so sick of hearing everyone cast blame on the establishment for the effects of disasters. I mean, it's called a "disaster" for a reason. If it was easy to fix, it would be called a "little problem".

Take Hurricane Katrina, for instance. I feel sorry for the plight of the people that endured that tragedy. I even gave money to The United Way to support the rebuilding of that area. But, it just amazed me to see everyone blaming the government for the way things turned out. Don't get me wrong.....I'm not downplaying the extent of the disaster. As I said before, it's called "disaster" for a reason. Utter turmoil and confusion go hand in hand with events such as these.

But why in the world did we expect it to all be fixed the very next day? This was a disaster unlike anything we had ever experienced before. No one knew how bad it would be. No one could have known. I would go so far as to say that if we HAD known, we STILL wouldn't have been able to handle it.

The crux of the problem was the fact that many of those people chose to stay instead of evacuating. They usually stick it out through these hurricanes, so they expected to do the same this time. But, when things went wrong, they started blaming everyone else! The disaster would not have been as bad if they had left before the storm. That's the real problem. People should not live under sea level in the path of hurricanes. It's just not smart.

Another thing....our society has gotten to the point that we expect everything to be fixed immediately if things go wrong. We watch movies and see tragedy corrected in a well-planned manner by the heroes of the story. We see soldiers and government officials and muscular civilians being "super heroes" in the face of disaster. Everything turns out perfectly in the movies.

Our society has developed a mindset that our real world functions the same way. Well, it doesn't. We are all human, including the government officials and soldiers and muscular civilians. I wouldn't expect any one of you to handle Hurricane Katrina any better than it was handled. Get real. There is no such thing as a real Rambo. Sure, there are brave men and women who overcome tremendous obstacles and live to tell the tale. But even if you combined all of them, they wouldn't have been able to fix Hurricane Katrina either. They would have all been crying like babies and wading through the waters too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More Excitement in Sandy's Craft Room

I know, craft work doesn't sound exciting to you, but it is to me! If you've read other entries in my blog, you'll know that I spent quite a bit of time getting this craft room ready. After sorting crafts, choosing furniture, painting the walls (yech!), and setting it up, I am more than deserving to enjoy my craft room as much as I like.

A few nights ago, I made my little door decoration of a sheep saying, "Don't BAAAAAther me" from a t-shirt I got on eBay. The t-shirt is a size medium, and I am a few sizes bigger than that, so I can't imagine that I would ever be able to wear it. So, I cut out the design on the front, cut a similar sized piece from the back, but quilt batting between the layers, and sewed them together. Next, I added sequins and beads on the stars to make them twinkle. Then, I added a pretty lace border on the sides. Now, it is hanging on my craft room door, warning intruders to stay away. It sure is nice to have a sanctuary from the chaos.

Speaking of chaos, I think my craft room is beginning to fall into that category as well. lol

A-crafting I will go....A-crafting I will go.....Heigh Ho the Dairy Oh......A-crafting I will go!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Wonderful Day at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair!

Yesterday was such a wonderful day. I went to my very first fiber fair. The Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair is taking place in the mountains of North Carolina right now. I attended the opening day and they are continuing the fair today and tomorrow. I wanted to go every day, but my schedule would not allow it. I had to play the organ for a wedding today, and I also have to play for church tomorrow, so that keeps me home this weekend.

But, yesterday was free, so off I went to the mountains. The weather was absolutely perfect as I drove my little 4 cylinder car up and down the hills. It's a good thing I wasn't in a hurry, because my engine was struggling just to make it up those hills! I stayed in the right lane, along with all the slow moving trucks. I know one thing, if you want to see how good your car's engine is, just take it on a trip to the mountains! Some cars were just whizzing by....lucky ducks!

Since I was driving in unfamiliar territory, I ended up getting lost. So I stopped a couple times asking for directions. One wrong turn ended up giving me the most beautiful view of the hills I've ever seen. I was on Happy Springs Road - lovely!! As I was driving along, viewing the gorgeous scenery, I said out loud, "When I retire, I want to live right here!" Cabins, grazing animals, beautiful mountains, green grass, perfect skies, nice cool breezes. It really was a little bit of heaven.

Eventually, I arrived at my destination. The Western North Carolina Agricultural Center. Finally! I wasn't sure which building to go to first, so I pulled out the map I had printed from the website and perused the layout. I decided to go on into the main building. I was afraid to look at the animals first, because they might set off my allergies, which would make for a very long day. So, into the yarn and fiber displays I went.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with loads of handspun yarn. If I wasn't careful, I would spend every dime I had without taking another step. I decided to walk all around the entire arena before I bought anything. I wanted to see my options first!

I turned right at the top of the circular arena and looked at each display. Many of the vendors were just getting started setting up their wares, since I was there early on the first day. It turned out to be a blessing, because I was catching the sales before anyone else had even seen them. At one display, a lady was selling sock yarn for $2.00 a skein! I spent 10 dollars, and had 5 skeins of beautiful sock yarn as a reward. That stuff usually sells for about 8 dollars a skein! I was pleased.

I came upon one lady who had angora rabbits in cages. I was so taken with those rabbits, having never seen one up close before. They are so much bigger than I thought they would be! They looked like JUMBO rabbits to me.

I asked the lady if they like to be touched, and she said, "Go ahead, touch 'em all you want." So, I carefully put my hand forward and stroked the back of one rabbit. So soft! Like butter!! It took me a few minutes to take my hand away, because I was enraptured with the feel of it. If I wasn't careful, I would be walking out the door with a newly purchased angora rabbit! She told me all about the rabbits, how she takes care of them and how she shears their fur a few times each year.

As you know, I'm a new spinner, trying to master using my Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel. I noticed that she had a spinning wheel set up in her area, so I mentioned that I am trying to learn to spin, and I've never seen anyone do it in person before. She said, "Oh, let me show you!" She was so sweet. She sat right down and started spinning. I asked her some questions, and she gave me lots of good information. I'm feeling much better about my spinning education now.

Next, she showed me some angora blended yarn. Unbelievably soft. I thought that I would never buy any other type of yarn again. No wonder angora sweaters are so expensive. It felt like baby skin.

Next, she showed me the alpaca yarn. She said that she raises alpaca also. The alpaca was just as soft as the angora! She showed me the difference in the feel of a hat made with wool, and a hat made with alpaca. Amazing. I decided that I had to forego my earlier plan and purchase some alpaca fur from this lady. Besides, she had been so helpful to me already!

I bought 4 ounces of dark brown alpaca, and 3 large bags of hand-dyed cotton roving. (It was soft too!) Altogether, I spent 20 dollars at her display. So far, I had spent 30 dollars in one hour. I decided to just look for a while, to keep my dollars in my pocket. I needed to make sure that I had enough money to eat and buy gas for my trip home!

After looking at all the other displays, I glanced at my watch and noticed that it was already 12 noon. My knitting class would start at 1:00, so I chose to break for lunch. Unfortunately, they had no food vendors, so I drove down the road and bought a chicken salad sandwich at Arby's. Those sandwiches are so good. I also treated myself to a cherry turnover and a small Mountain Dew. It made for a nice lunch.

When I came back to the arena, it was almost time for my class to start. I found the class, and chose a seat near the back. The instructor asked what kind of projects we were knitting on our own, I waited for the others to talk, then admitted that I was making socks. She said, "Why are you in this class? You don't need to know anything I'm teaching today." I said that I've never taken a knitting class before, so I just wanted some reassurance that I was doing things properly. She agreed to let me stay, and then we started her project.

It was a cute little amulet bag that looks like an owl. It was fun to make. I did learn a few things, so it wasn't a waste of money. When the class was over, I asked her to show me a few other kinds of stitches I needed to understand better. She was very helpful. I was amazed to hear that she has been knitting for 50 years! I don't think I'll make it that far, unless I live to be 90.

When I left that class, I walked over to the animal buildings. I had saved this for last, because I was afraid that my allergies would act up. This way, I could leave and drive with my windows open to clear out my lungs.

The animals were so sweet. I saw the llamas first. They seemed so kind and gentle. I took some photos of them, and they didn't even flinch. One of them was standing close to his owner, and the man wrapped his arm around the llama's neck and gave him a hug. It was so darling.

Next, I walked over to the alpaca display. They were just as gentle, with the most beautiful doe eyes. I was in love. I imagined myself living in a little cabin with an angora rabbit to snuggle, and an alpaca to play with. Dreamy.

I learned a lot about yarn, spinning, fiber, roving, animals, and knitting. It was a very productive day. I would only change one thing about it all. I wish I could have stayed for all three days. Next year, I'm getting a substitute organist so I can get away for the whole event.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Here's my little teapot!

In order to avoid burning down my house, I have had to purchase a new tea kettle.

My very first teapot was beautiful, shiny, and copper. It was a gift from a sweet lady at my first wedding. The teapot was beautiful, and sat on our counter for about 2 years. Then, I had my first child, Joshua. He was a sweet quiet baby, but a little taxing sometimes (I later found out that he was autistic). So, one day when I was feeling a bit tired, I decided to try out my beautiful teapot and make a nice cup of hot tea. It was enjoyable, and helped me to relax.

Thereafter, I often would set the kettle boiling and make tea to help me make it through the day. Especially after my second was born (Noah). He was quite different from Josh in every aspect. Loud, silly, and fun-loving. He's still the same today. : )

One evening, I put the teapot on the stove, then went upstairs to change diapers, brush teeth, wash faces, read bedtime stories, etc. I completely forgot about the teapot, and discovered its charred remains the next morning. I was devastated, because it was such a beautiful pot - and I didn't have the money to replace it.

Over the years, I have bought other teapots and ruined them all. Bummer. I guess their whistle wasn't insistent enough for my hearing. So, I quit buying teapots, and just boiled water on the stove in a small saucepan. Big mistake. Now I have sent several small saucepans to an early grave.

After burning my last tiny metal saucepan (which was a nice pot from a set I received as a gift from my mother), I resolved to find a teapot with a good strong whistle that I could afford.

I chose Target as my target for a new teapot. Slowly and carefully, I perused the small aisles of kitchen appliances until I spotted the cheap teapots on the bottom shelf. I wasn't willing to pay more than 20 dollars for a pot I might end up burning. Luckily for me, Copco manufactured a small teapot (1.5 quart capacity) , and the best part was the price - 10 dollars! Well, I snatched up that puppy, and headed for the register.

Here is a photo that looks quite similar to it:

Cute, huh? I was pleased. I read the instruction leaflet in the box, just for fun. I was surprised to read that you should never turn the burner to high. You should only use a low or medium setting.

Well, I tried that out, and 10 minutes later, the water was not whistle or anything. So, I decided to forego the instructions and turn that bad boy up. Success! It was boiling and whistling like a steam train in about a minute. I walked down the hall to see if I could hear it from all reaches of the house. Being satisfied with the quality of whistle tone, I went back to make myself a cup of tea. It was excellent.

So now, I think I have finally found my perfect teapot. Unbelievable after so many years of burning metal.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Christmas Knitting

Since I have a craft room now, I MUST make myself do plenty of crafts for Christmas. My church usually has a craft bazaar, so I'm trying to make some things for that. See that huge box full of Christmas yarn? I have no excuse - I must be knitting. : )

I've made LOTS of scarves now, so at least I've gotten one thing accomplished. Hopefully, they'll all sell at the Christmas bazaar. I usually charge 15 to 20 dollars for each scarf. It was fun to make them the color I want, instead of trying to match a color request from a customer.
They'll say something like, "I want Vanilla, with Gold Flecks." So, I'll try several different combinations until I get it to look like what they asked for. It's a real pain sometimes, like when I had someone ask for a scarf with "purple, red, and yellow for my daughter". It took FOREVER to make a good combination with THOSE colors! Gladly, my customer was thrilled with the results, so I guess I got it right.

I've also been making some embroidered Christmas cards. I'm not sure if I want to sell those. I might decide to use them myself!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What Do You Call This Decade Anyway?

OK, I know what to call the past few decades. The 60's, the 70's, the 80's, the 90's. But what is THIS decade - The OO's? Oohs? Aughties? Zips? Ohs? Zeros?

I am so confused.

When VH1 looks back on the music of this decade, what will the title be? "I love the ooh's"?

Is there a way for us to see what they called it in the 1900's? Is there anything in old newspapers that refers to the decade from 1900 to 1910?

And while we're on the subject, what will we call NEXT decade? The Ten's? Teens?

Now, I'm more confused than I was before.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Getting Ready for Choir Retreat

Today is a busy day. In fact this whole week has been crazy. Tuesday, I taught piano lessons as usual. Wednesday, I had to cancel lessons because I was playing piano for a men's quartet that was performing in Charlotte. Last night (Thursday) I had a piano lesson and two choir rehearsals. I also had to practice my music for Sunday's service.

And now....back to today. Our church choir is going on a retreat tonight, and since I'm the accompanist, I'll be going as well. (They can't very well practice without me!) We'll be looking at music for Christmas as well as preparing for upcoming performances in the fall. Since the piano at the retreat center is in bad shape, I'll be taking my keyboard. I'll have to take an amp from the church as well, because I'm not sure if my keyboard will have enough volume to fill up the rehearsal room. So, that's two huge items for travel. With my luggage and knitting bag, I'll be lucky if I fit in my car to drive it! (My car is pretty small.)

In addition to getting ready for the retreat, I have some things to take care of at home as well. Getting the house in order will be my first priority. Then, I'll be paying some bills, taking some things to our storage unit, and stopping by the music store to pick up some sheet music.

I made the mistake of listing the wrong title in the bulletin for this Sunday, so I have to go and purchase the title I listed! I put "Simple Gifts" as the prelude, but it's actually "Ash Grove". I'm always getting those two tunes mixed up in my silly head. The bad part is I don't even HAVE a rendition of "Simple Gifts"! So, after I find a piano or organ version of that tune, I'll be ready to go to church.

We'll only be staying at the retreat center for one night, so I shouldn't miss Marvin too bad. But, it will be difficult to sleep without him. I don't know who my roomie will be, but I hope they can put up with my knitting late at night.

Poor Marvin is working late tonight's month-end. He works for Chick-Fil-A as a manager, and he always has tons of work to do at the end of each month. Inventory, reports, etc. So, he'll be getting home late. He is planning on getting his kids this weekend, but I'm not sure if he'll get them tonight or tomorrow. So, that means, I have to do extra work at home to get the house ready for all those sleepers, just in case they come tonight.

I hope he waits until tomorrow to get them. That way, I can be here to help everyone get settled in a place to sleep. I'd hate to see what would happen tonight if I am not here. They'll probably destroy everything in the house looking for blankets and pillows. I have them stacked in a room of the house, but for some reason they can't see them. Strange.

I am looking forward to the choir retreat, though. It should be nice and relaxing. After we practice tonight, we'll stay up and play games and spend time together. Tomorrow, we'll have breakfast, practice some more, have lunch, practice again, then we'll be performing for a Catholic church service in the evening. I've never been to a full Catholic service before, so it should be interesting. I've been to a Catholic funeral, and I've even been the organist for a Catholic wedding. Now, the circle will be complete. : )

Monday is looking better and better. That will be a WONDERFUL day of relaxing. I REFUSE to do anything that day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I must be a knitting purist or something, but I have no desire to FELT any of my knitting. I mean, you have to knit a HUGE item, and then it shrinks down to a little tiny thing that doesn't even show any of your stitches. I mean, you can't PROVE you did any of it! And, why would I want to make something that looks like the felt sheets I can buy at a craft store? I just don't get it.

Anyway, enough of my blabbering. I'm still learning new things as I knit each night. I started knitting about 2 years ago, and so far I've accomplished scarves, hats, dishcloths, baby booties, bookmarks, headbands, a baby sweater, and socks. (I'm most proud of the socks - those were so COOL to make!) Here's a photo of my first pair of socks, and another shot that shows my feet snuggling inside of them.

Now, my dream is to learn to make cables and do fair isle designs. I will learn to do those things - it is a definite goal.

God Bless My Craft Room

A couple weeks ago, I finished my "God Bless My Home" crewel project. I just didn't have time to post it, because I was so busy painting and setting up my craft room. Can you believe I finished it? It only took about 20 years. lol

It's nice to have that finished, because it's been hanging over my head forever. I was just always setting it aside, because I was so busy working full-time and being a single mother. Now that I'm doing music full-time instead, I've got lots more time to put into it. Also, my health condition has kept me from getting out of the house as much as I used to. Since I'm home, may as well put myself to good use in my craft room!

I've been busy making Christmas crafts now, getting ready for our church's Christmas Craft Bazaar. My mom is going to come also, so it should be a good way for us to spend some time together. Maybe she'll actually be nice to me, and not criticize me for my weight, my house, my kids, or whatever else comes to her mind. I tell you.....that woman.

My first Christmas craft was a felt stocking with a reindeer on it. Last night, I made a Christmas Bell, and started making a Christmas Hat. I've got a folder full of ideas of things to make for that bazaar. After the bazaar is over, I've got to get to work on Christmas gifts! I guess I'll be making scarves, hats and dishcloths again. They are quick and fun gifts to make.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Rainy Day Tea Party for One!

Today is a rainy day. "Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down", as Karen Carpenter used to sing. : (

But, I'm making the most of it today. Mondays are my day off each week, and I try to relax as much as possible. Today, I truly accomplished it, having slept until 1:30. It was a nice sleep - you know how it is when the weather is bad outside, and you're tucked under the covers. Blissful.

After taking my thyroid medicine, and signing on to eBay, I put on a kettle for tea. Then, I stepped outside to check the mail. Behold, new teabags! I had won a couple sample pack auctions on eBay, and they had arrived! Yippee!

So, needless to say, I decided to try the new teas. I made one cup of each. Osmanthus Exotica Tea and Yamamotoyama Ginger - both from the Stash Tea Company. They were excellent. The Exotica tea is a black tea with a very fresh taste, almost like Taiwan green tea. The Ginger tea is a hot and spicy green tea. Very nice way to start the day.

I took the photo on my computer desk in our bedroom. The first photo I took would not show the color of the teas, so I put one of my new craft room drapes underneath them. Now, you can easily see the black and green tea colors. By the way, the drapes are beautiful hanging in my craft room. I won 3 sets, and I only have 2 windows. So, I am going to use the leftover drape fabric to make seat cushions for my rocking chair and computer seat. It should be nice.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Remembering My Younger Years

I've been thinking about my life a lot lately. I've spent a good portion of my life at the piano or organ, performing all kinds of music. My first paying job was as the pianist at Wilson Grove Baptist Church. I was 15 years old, and was so excited about making $50 a week playing music! It was a great experience for me. The music minister, Bill Mills, was a wonderful man who took me under his wing and taught me so much. I truly respected him and admired his family. His wife, Peg was so sweet. She and Bill would have me over to visit anytime I wanted. I considered them to be my second family. The organist at the church was named Karen Price. She was a jewel. She and I did organ-piano duets for every service - We even did a concert once!

Now, it's 26 years later, and I've worked for many churches as pianist or organist or choir director. My experiences have been as varied as the churches. I've performed for over 200 weddings, played organ for televised services, and sung solos for a crowd of over 4000 people. It's been fun.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Craft Room is Officially Being Used!

I've done a lot over the past few days, getting everything moved in and organized in my new craft room. It is so nice to finally have a place for all of my craft stuff to be kept and used. I'm in heaven. I bought a new pair of reading glasses to help in seeing my close needlework, and also purchased a magnifying glass that clips to my table for really close work.

All of my yarn is stored and organized. Some of my old yarn is ready to leave the house via eBay or Goodwill. Christmas crafts are ready to be worked on, so I started making a felt stocking a couple nights ago. It's almost finished now. I hope to finish 9 felt stockings, along with some other items that I can sell at our church's Christmas Craft Show in the fall.

Sewing fabric and patterns are in boxes, embroidery and needlepoint kits are sorted and ready to go. Fiber is ready to spin, and the spinning wheel is sitting on top of the shelving, ready to come down and whirl. Knitting projects are in separate baskets, ready to be grabbed and worked on. Craft Books are arranged and in good shape. I can sit in my rocking chair and look around at all the projects, deciding which one to make next. It's fantastic!

It sure is nice to have a craft room now. (I can't stop saying that.) I'm so proud of all the work I've done. Sure, it would be nice to have a new sewing machine or serger, but my old stuff is just fine. And it would be nice to have a new floor, but I can live with this old carpet a few more years. I'm still as happy as a frog with his own pond.

Marvin teases me about it now, saying, "Are you gonna go hide in your craft room again?" or "What did you accomplish in the craft world today?"

I can't wait to tease him when I finish getting his hobby room set up. (My next project after Christmas....tee hee!)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sewing Table and Yarn Storage Posted by Picasa

Bookcases and TV in Craft Room Posted by Picasa