The Music of Our Lives

I caught part of the Grammys last night and had several musical revelations.  First was that quite a bit of today’s music doesn’t appeal to me.  There were songs and artists that I enjoyed (although why Adele who has the voice of an angel has to have the mouth of a guttersnipe is beyond me) so I’m still able to appreciate artistry and harmony when I see it.  Yet the performance that really moved me the most in my limited viewing was a tribute to the BeeGees.

Yes, that’s my formative musical era.   My popular music tastes were honed in the late Sixties and early Seventies.  As I listened, every one of those songs had memories attached to it.  Then the artists segued into one song that literally took my breath away.

AFN Newscast

I don’t even remember now what the song was but suddenly I was in the barracks at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, getting ready to go out on a date and the world was full of promise, passion, and possibilities.  Last night, hearing that song actually took my breath away for a moment.  Was it really that many years ago that I was in my twenties?  How could that BeeGee mouthing along to his songs be balding and so old-looking?

That’s when I had my epiphany.  As enjoyable (or horrendous) as today’s music is, it’s not MY music.  My music was forged in my teens and honed and manipulated into the fabric of my life in my twenties.  This is the music that gets my blood pumping, that makes time travel a possibility if only for a few moments, and that is a real part of who I am.  This is the music that I’ll be grooving to when the first strains hit my ears as  I’m nodding off in a nursing home rec room.  Then just you wait.  I’ll throw back my head, open my eyes, laugh delightedly and for one brief, wonderful moment, twenty-year-old me will be looking back at the world.

There is “Hungry” and then “REALLY Hungry”

Trim Healthy Mama Diet

I’m trying to diet, which is never a great thing with me.  I tend to get grumpy…very grumpy.  Let’s face it, who likes denial?  Going out to eat is one of the joys of my existence.  Cooking is NOT one of those joys.  That said, I rather reluctantly went into the Trim Healthy Mama Plan basically to keep a friend company in her misery resolution.  I’ve been on it for a month now and it has been surprisingly angst-free.  I’ve been without sugar and am surviving.  My biggest complaint is that my grocery bills have been super high (all that meat and extra ingredients) and that I always seem to have dishes to do since I make a lot of delicious plan-approved shakes to drink between my regular meals.  I’ve even managed to lose 10 pounds so far.

Well, today I knew that we had the Super Bowl festivities coming up so I went light for breakfast.  I only ate a “fat-burning frappa” shake.  Normally I’ll make lots of appetizers for the big game but tonight I’m only going to have a plan-approved Peanut Butter Shake and some popcorn.  I got my hubby some Haagen Daas ice cream for HIS splurge.  Anyway, I was pretty hungry when lunch rolled around.  Couldn’t exactly whip up a snack or shake in the middle of church, could I?

We decided to head over to the Red Oak Cafe.  I’ve eaten there before (pre-diet) and have always enjoyed their breakfasts.  You get a lot and it is good.  I was going to try to stay on plan today for lunch, though.  I checked out the menu and decided on an entree from under the “Hungry?” column.  There was a two-step entree, then one that was listed for folks who were a “little hungrier” and then one for “Really hungry” folks.  Hey, I didn’t want to be a glutton so I went with the middle one.  I could choose 3 scoops of different items which would come on a bed of lettuce.  Perfect!  No bread to worry about.  I chose chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad.  Hubby got a grilled sandwich with tortilla chips.

Our meals arrived and I could only stare at mine.  There were three scoops all right but they were tiny…I’m talking really tiny, like 1/4 cup scoop of each one (maybe 1/3 cup if I’m REALLY being generous in my description.  And those three little scoops cost about $10.

“Don’t you dare touch those seasoned crackers,” I ordered my hubby.  “I’m going to put some of this on a few of them so at least I can feel like I’m eating something!

I glumly cut up the lettuce leaf to try to fool my brain into thinking I was getting bulk.  As I cut and swallowed, my hubby was waxing poetic about the seasoned bacon on his sandwich.

“Do NOT talk to me about your sandwich,” I snapped at him.

I ate all three scoops and then ate three little cracker squares while watching my husband polish off the tortilla chips.  My mindset was NOT that of someone who had just come from church.

Lessons learned?  1.  Never order that again.  2.  Hoard the crackers.  3.  Go somewhere else and get a steak for lunch.  And now I’m going to sit and fantasize about my popcorn tonight.

Dia & Co. Shopping Service

Nicely Packaged

My daughter has been using a personal shopper service to pick out clothes for her and send them once a month.  She has been pleased with it and, based on her experiences, I decided to give the Plus-size version, Dia & Co. a try myself.

When you join, you fill out a profile that includes your sizes and age,  your “looks” that you go for (i.e. Bohemian or Preppy),  and what parts of your body do you like to hide or like to show off.  You can also indicate what patterns and colors you want your stylist to avoid.  In a smart move, they let you give them links to your facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages so that your stylist can check these out and get a feel for your personality and likes.  You let them know how much you typically will spend on a garment and how often you want your shipment.  Then you get down to the nitty-gritty where you indicate for pants, dresses, skirts, tops, outerwear, and accessories what styles you like, are neutral about, or hate.  To finish off your profile, you can upload photos of yourself for your stylist to look at.

The “stylist” fee is $20 per shipment.  Shipping is free and if you decide to return anything, that shipping also is free.  Now, if you decide to keep anything, that $20 is applied to the cost of your purchases.  I think that is pretty nice.  The box with your items comes with a note from your stylist with styling tips on how to wear what they’ve sent you and on the back, each item is listed with the price of the item.

Styling Tips

My first box arrived today.  They tell you that it usually takes 1 or 2 boxes for your stylist to fine-tune your “style” and desires, based on what you keep and the feedback you provide on each item that you keep and that you return.

Peplum Blouse

First out of the box was this lovely chiffon peplum-style blouse.  It fits great.  I love how it covers my problem areas.  It’s sheer but I’ll wear a tank top under it and it will be fine.

Button tab sleeves

The next blouse was this print but it had those sleeves with the buttoned tabs.  I HATE those type of sleeves.  Again, it fit fine but I made sure to include a note in my feedback that I do NOT like this type of sleeve.  I’m returning this one.

They sent me a pair of black boot-cut jeans which fit fine but the waistband came about 2 inches below my belly button.  My natural waist is about 3 inches ABOVE my belly button and I don’t like pants that don’t fall on my natural waistline.  It can be challenging since I’m very high-waisted.  I’m sending them back and including measurements from my shoulder to waistline and a pic of the pants on so my stylist can see where these jeans came on me.  I won’t sear your eyes by including a picture of that.

A high-low dress

The next item was called a “high-low” dress.  I couldn’t picture what that was and normally wouldn’t have picked this out if I’d been shopping.  However, it looked nice on me.  It is cut similar to the Lularoe Carly but the sleeves are longer.  This was a nice winner.  I’ll probably wear it with leggings and boots.

A pretty pendant

The last item in the box was this necklace.  It was nice but I’m returning it because unless the metal is 100% gold, my skin breaks out in a rash where the chain sits on my neck.  I’ve changed my preferences to say I’m not hep to receive jewelry (unless it is something like Ficklesticks line of fabric jewelry).

Dia Return Bag

The Dia & Co. folks very thoughtfully include a return bag with the postage label already on it (no cost to you).  You slip the items you are returning in this bag and send it off.

I’m quite pleased with this first box and can’t wait for next month’s shipment.  Yes, I could probably find these pieces cheaper by shopping sales but that’s the whole point of having a personal shopper…you don’t have to go from store to store for those who hate shopping and they just might surprise you with some clothes that you wouldn’t normally have chosen for yourself.

If you decide that you might like to give them a try, you can click on this link:

Dia & Co. referral

 

 

The Annual Family Photo Shoot

family-nuts6

“Wait, we aren’t ready yet.”

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  It’s “Family Holiday Photo” time.  This year it is even more challenging with two babies, one toddler, and two young school children in the mix.  I was up for the challenge, though.  Here we went!

family-nuts4

“Everybody smile.  HOLD IT!  Son, what in the world are you doing?”

family-nuts3

“Take THREE!  Everybody smile.  HOLD IT!  OK, John Travolta….knock it off.”

family-nuts5

“Take four!  Everybody smile.  HOLD IT!  Son, you are about to be grounded.”

family-nuts2

“Take Five!  Smile!  HOLD IT!  Listen, Mr. Atlas.  Get those arms down or I will deck you.”

family-nuts7

“Take Six!  WAIT!  What are you doing?”

family-nuts-finale

“Oh, my goodness.  That was exhausting.  Let’s have dessert.”

family-nuts

The “OFFICIAL” 2016 Family Holiday Photo

Mr. Grumpy Pants

Harper's Ferry

Harper’s Ferry

It was a pretty day yesterday albeit cold as I headed down to West Virginia to spend some time with my East Coast family.  We pulled into the area early, knowing that our daughter and her family were out running errands, so we decided to drive around Harper’s Ferry.  It’s a quaint area…very hilly and overrun with tourists even on a cold, November weekend.

Out for the count

Out for the count

Our daughter texted me to say that they’d be home late with two cranky, tired children.  She included a pic of Sprout.

Zzzzzzzz!

Zzzzzzzz!

When they finally got back home, the Sprout wanted to know what presents I’d brought.  Since I’d had his birthday gifts mailed on ahead of my visit, I told him we’d have to do his gifts the next day but for now, I offered to show him the shirts I had made for him.

dino-shirt

“I don’t want that,” he complained.  “Take it back.”

I headed into the kitchen to get a glass of water.

“Hey, look at this, Nannie,” I heard as the Sprout came up behind me.

I glanced over and he was clicking away on my knitting row counter.

“Yikes,” I yelped as I grabbed it from him.  “Nannie needs to have that to know what row she is working on with her knitting.  Let’s find something else to play with.”

Spit-up King

Spit-up King

I glanced at Spike, who promptly let a mouthful of milk gush down the front of him.

“He’s been spitting up like that all week,” my daughter said.

“Wheee!” I heard from Sprout.  As I turned around, I saw him twirling my current knitting project by the needle holder, the ball of yarn swinging around in a circle.

“Whoops, nope…Nannie needs that knitting, Sprout.  Why don’t you play with one of your dinosaurs?” I offered.

I grabbed the yarn and he glared at me.

“Aaaaaaaaagh!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!” he growled.

“That’s new,” his mom said, calmly.

“That’s it!,” said his daddy and swooped him up to take him to bed.

Me?  I headed for the leftover birthday cake on the counter, after putting my knitting up on a high counter.

 

Blood Test Coping

bandage

I had to go into the doctor’s office this afternoon to have my blood drawn so that they could check my thyroid levels.  Now I ALWAYS sing when they draw my blood since I’m a Nervous Nellie around needles.  It helps distract me.

As I was waiting in the waiting area, my doctor’s nurse walked by and stopped short when she saw me.

“Hi,” I waved.  “I’m just here for a blood draw.  You’ll be hearing me singing soon.”

She laughed and said, “Sing a Texas song today.”

I thought about it.  The only song I could think of that I associate with Texas is “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”  Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember all of the lyrics.  Then a light bulb went off.  I could sing the “Bloody Cowboy” song.  How appropriate would THAT be for a needle stick?  Gosh, I hadn’t sung that song since high school during my horse crazy years.  I still remembered the lyrics though.

Soon I was back in the lab and the tech was ready to give it a go.

“I’m singing a song about a bloody cowboy,” I told her, “because the nurse requested a Texas song and what’s more Texan than cowboys?”

I started off, putting a real mournful twist on it.  When I got to the end, the lab tech was just staring at me, looking horrified.

“My, that’s rather gruesome,” she said.

“But I thought you’d like it,” I whined.  “It’s about blood.”

Without further ado, here is my version of an old cowboy classic that I loved from my adolescent years.

Knitting Shawls – Choosing Colors

Hedgehog Yarn

Hedgehog Yarn

I’m getting ready to start knitting Stephen West’s new mystery Knit-a-long shawl.  The first clue comes out this Friday and prior to its arrival, I’ve been trying to decide on what colors to use.  Choosing yarn colors for a mystery shawl is even harder than normally choosing colors because you have no idea what the final shawl will look like, nor do you know in what sequence the colors will be appearing.

While I was in Dallas recently, I purchased the above yarns with the mystery shawl in mind.  Then I came home and started rethinking my choices.

More yarn

More yarn

I had also purchased the yarn above with another Stephen West shawl in mind and I started to think that perhaps these yarns would be a better choice.

Swatch #1

Swatch #1

I will confess that normally I do not swatch for a shawl.  I figure that I’ll enjoy it no matter how large it turns out to be.  This time around, though, Stephen strongly suggested that we swatch prior to starting our shawl.  “Why not?”, I figured.  It would be a good way for me to see how well my intended colors played together.

I sent a picture to my knitting friends and asked their opinions.  Before they had all responded, I had changed my mind and done up another swatch with other yarn.  I sent that picture off, too.

Swatch #2

Swatch #2

Par for the course, opinion was divided as to which combo my friends preferred.  When push comes to shove (or should I say, when yarn comes to the needles?), I pick what “speaks” to me but I’m always curious to hear what others think.

Swatch #3

Swatch #3

The good news is that I settled on the needle size I needed for this knit-a-long.  The bad news is that I still wasn’t sure what combo of yarns to use.  Since I was now more concerned with how colors looked together than finding my gauge, I decided to knit a narrow swatch in the sequence I was considering, casting on just 14 stitches on my needles and working both garter stitch and stockinette stitch.

Again, I sent off pics to my friends.  Some liked the gray, some didn’t.  Some wanted the purple back.  Some thought I should put yellow in the mix (no, thank you), and some thought the turquoise might not be working.

Swatch #4

Swatch #4

Then I got the brainstorm that I could just knit little blocks of possible yarn choices and easily play with them, rearranging the sequences as I desired.  I quickly ruled out the gold yarn but the rust-colored yarn was a winner.  Now my neon orange in the swatch was the odd yarn out.

Swatch #5

Swatch #5

I tried a sequence without the turquoise or purple but leaving in the gray.  Most of my friends thought it was too dull.  It was pleasing enough but lacked the “pow” that I like to see when I knit a Stephen West shawl.

Of course, I was driving my friends nuts by this point.  Some gently advised me to stop overthinking the whole process.  Easier said than done.

Final choices

Final choices

I finally settled on these yarns.  I took away the neon orange and replaced it with the russet orange.  The purple and the turquoise yarns were back in.  These are my final choices and I’m sticking to them.

In the meantime, I’ve taken some of the other yarns and am plugging away on a Stephen West Dotted Rays shawl.  Maybe I’ll work more on that even when Clue #1 comes out and give other speedy knitters a chance to knit through the clue so that I get a better idea of how the colors will be arranged.

The upshot of my little experiment is that I think I’ll make it a point to knit little squares of color combinations when I’m next faced with choosing colors for a big shawl project.  It is such an easy way to play around with color until you end up with a combination that you enjoy.

 

 

Stitches Texas 2016

Ready for Stitches Texas

Ready for Stitches Texas

Last Thursday, a group of my knitting “village” headed up to Dallas for Stitches Texas.  Three of us met at the airport near us to fly up together.  We were excited and ready for some knitting adventures.

Have Schedule, Will Follow (Maybe)

Have Schedule, Will Follow (Maybe)

One of our tech-savvy knitters had even made up several pages of schedules and fact sheets for us so that we would all know when and how each person was arriving and where they were all supposed to be during the days of classes.  We were also armed with the GroupMe app so that we could all communicate with each other, as needed.

Omni-Mandalay

Omni-Mandalay

We stayed at the Omni in Las Colinas, just down the road from the Irving Convention Center, where Stitches Texas was being held.  This was a fancy hotel – fancier than places that I’m used to staying.  It was nice but I quickly discovered that “fancy” is apparently code for “must pay extra for everything.”  The only thing free was the wifi (because we’d signed up for their Rewards program) and two cups of coffee each morning.  My roommate and I didn’t even take advantage of the coffee the first morning because we were so leery that we might be charged big bucks for that “free” coffee.    However, I’d already been warned to bring lots of dollar bills for tips and I was glad that I had heeded the advice.

Candace Eisner Strick

Candace Eisner Strick

The first presentation I attended was by Candace Eisner Strick.  She went through her designs from her latest book, Knit My Skirt.  Now, like many others, I’ve never thought I could wear a knitted skirt.  However, after listening to Candace and seeing some of the skirts she had designed, I DO think there just might be a style or two out there that I could perhaps knit and wear.

trip-lecture

I wasn’t alone in having my preconceived notions changed.  Several others in my group also decided they might try knitting a skirt.  It was nice to have many from our group attending the presentation because what one person misses, another will pick up and it helps to have group reenforcement.

A PA Visitor

A PA Visitor

As I sat on one side of the fashion runway for Candace’s presentation, I glanced across to the other side of the room and smiled at a lady in the front row on the other side.  Then I REALLY looked at her and started grinning and waving enthusiastically.  My goodness, it was my friend, Peggy from Pennsylvania.  I couldn’t believe she was here.  Not only that, but she was wearing a skirt derived from one of Candace’s patterns in the book and Candace asked her to model it for us.  Peg is one talented knitter and it was such a treat to see her AND her lovely skirt.

Knitted Skirts

Knitted Skirts

I later went over to the Knitter’s Magazine booth and took some pictures of several of the skirts from Candace’s book.  Just lovely!

Knitter's Magazine Sweaters

Knitter’s Magazine Sweaters

The other free presentation that I attended was given by the editor of Knitter’s Magazine, who went over how he chooses what designs will go into each issue.  He walked us through the next issue that will be hitting the stands soon.  Very interesting.  The Knitter’s Magazine booth had some of these featured in the issue on display so that you could see them in person.

trip-sweater

This sweater is one that will be in the next issue (whose theme was stratification, I think he said).  I love the colors and the layers they create.

Stitches Marketplace

Stitches Marketplace

Of course, one of my favorite places was the marketplace.  StevenB was there with the largest selection of Hedgehog Fibres yarn that I’ve ever seen in one spot.  I also want to give a “shout-out” to two of my new favorite vendors  – Twisted Owl Fiber Studio and Stunning String Studio.

trip-yarn2

Hedgehog Yarn

Hedgehog Yarn

Of course, I found some yummy yarn to take home.  These two groupings will be used for some Stephen West shawls.

To the Pajama Party

To the Pajama Party

Stitches Texas held a “pajama party” one of the evenings and our group headed down that night in the elevator.  There is one lady in this pic who wasn’t with our group.  She looks like she can’t quite figure out what we are doing.  Well, we’re having fun.  Duh!

Time for Hibachi Yummies

Time for Hibachi Yummies

Speaking of fun, we also enjoyed the Indian restaurant near our hotel, Italian the first day, and a Japanese hibachi restaurant.  I am not a big fan of hibachi (much ado about nothing veggies) but wow, was my teriyaki steak melt in your mouth.  Fantastic!

Last minute bargains

Last minute bargains

On the day of our departure, we headed over to the convention center to wait to hear who had won the Grand Prize.  You had to be present to win so we were all there.  As we sat and waited, I noticed that one by one, our group was trickling over to a nearby booth that had yarn for sale at 60-70% off.  Pretty soon, they were coming back with big bags full of yarn.  I wandered over but resisted the temptation, plus I didn’t want to have to lug any last-minute purchases on the plane.

With great luck, one of our group won one of the Grand Prizes (they had divided it up to 3 cash prizes of equal value).  We whooped and hollered with glee because now our friend could go buy that luxury yarn she’d been eyeing for the entire weekend.

I DID forget to mention that I took two classes – one on knitting ergonomics (a very informative class) and one on crochet entrelac (decided that I don’t like entrelac any more crocheted than I do knitted).

Lessons learned as I left Stitches Texas?

-Take a sweater or shawl to the convention center.  It was frigid the entire weekend in the building.

-Uber is rather fun.

-Take lots of money because convention cities/areas are expensive.

-Trying to get 11 women moving in the same direction and on the same page for group activities is nigh to impossible.

-Next time photograph more of the stunning knitwear attendees were wearing.

-And finally, Mama’s insistence that I learn to be a negotiator and a peacemaker is a valuable skill to have when traveling with a group.

Knit on, my friends, until our next great adventure!

The Fun’s in the Journey?

airplane

I flew back to Houston yesterday from the Stitches Texas convention in Dallas.  I’ll write about the convention in the next few days but the journey is still quite fresh in my mind.  What a journey it was!  The flight TO Dallas only took 38 minutes.  We no sooner got in the air and received our little minuscule packet of dry-roasted tasteless peanuts and our soda pop when I felt the plane descending and heard the stewardess announce that they’d be coming around to collect our trash immediately since the pilot was beginning the descent into Dallas.  That’s how quick the flight normally is.

Yesterday, we were supposed to fly out at 5:00 p.m.  When my group of 4 got to the airport, we saw that our flight had been delayed until 5:30.  Our fourth person, who was flying to Kansas City, also was going to be delayed.  We hung out in the airport and didn’t think too much about it until someone came on the loudspeaker to announce that Southwest was guaranteeing NO connections for anyone since there were so many delays and since, once you boarded, the average wait time sitting around on the plane before you were given the “ok” to take off was averaging 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Oh, oh, this was not looking good.  However, our flight was now bumped back up to leave at 5:20.  Looking better.

At 5:15, we looked out the window and saw that there was NO plane at our gate.  NOT looking good.  We waited some more.  In the meantime, our Kansas City-bound friend had camped out at our gate to keep us company since her flight kept getting delayed so we were all having fun swapping stories and knitting.  Finally, the Houston plane arrived and we were ready to board.

Off we tramped down the runway and onto the plane, waving at our friend as we went.  Then we sat.  And we sat.  And we sat, still at the gate.  We sat on the plane over an hour at the gate before we finally backed up and joined the queue on the runway.

The pilot announced that, because there were so many delayed flights in the air and on the ground, the air traffic controllers were very overwhelmed.  Consequently, we were NOT going to be flying our normal route back to Houston.  No, we were going to be sent on a circuitous route resulting in a flight that should last 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Huh?  Suddenly those peanuts were sounding mighty good.  It was also good that my fellow knitting buddies on the plane had stocked up with lots of snacks so I knew we were NOT going to waste away.

The lights of Houston came into view a little after 8 p.m. and we landed safely.  Hooray!  Off we tramped to the Baggage Claim area.  As I stood next to a conveyer belt, I thought I heard the voice of another knitting guild member I knew but I figured I was mistaken, since she had supposedly flown out of Dallas an hour before our flight.  However, there were so many people milling about that it resembled a tick convention on a bunch of coonhounds.

When the baggage folks started announcing what carrel to go to for which flight, it became clearer.  Four flights from Dallas had just landed within a few minutes of each other, in addition to a bunch of other delayed flights.  Par for the course, OUR flight was not announced for baggage and we stood there like sheep.

People came and went, getting their bags and STILL our flight’s bags didn’t show up.  After a long wait, the baggage claim folks finally announced that, “yes, Flight XX from Dallas folks, we know we haven’t announced your carrel yet.  We are still trying to find out what is going on with your bags.”

What’s going on with our bags?  Well, let’s hope what’s going on is NOT the plane on to it’s next stop at JFK in New York City!  Thank goodness we eventually got our bags after a 40 minute delay.

In the meantime, a car carrying another bunch of our convention friends had started to Houston from Dallas around 1 p.m.  They had been sending us periodic “sitreps” that they kept hitting traffic jams on the highway and were just sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  We didn’t feel TOO bad for them because at one point they told us they had stopped at Collins Street Bakery for lunch.  Let’s see…bakery vs. stale peanuts.  No contest!

Anyway, by the time we got our luggage and dispersed to head home, we got another report from our friends that they had just passed a certain exit in Houston.  My husband looked at me and said, “They’re about 3 miles ahead of us down the road.”  So we all got home about the same time. Well, our friend heading to Missouri took longer.  She did arrive in Kansas City but decided to spend the night with a friend near there before driving several hours back to her house.

Since I hadn’t eaten any supper, my hubby stopped at Five Guys so that I could grab something to go.  I have since discovered that it is probably not wise to eat a Little Cheeseburger with grilled onions AND Cajun Fries at 10 p.m. but I’m always game to give it the “old college try.”

I have also discovered that it is good to be home, at least for a few weeks or so.  I’ll blog about Stitches Texas and our adventures as a group in my next post.  Until then, have a blessed day!

Shrinky Dink Knitting Stitch Markers

markers1

I’m getting ready to head up to the Stitches Texas conference for knitters, crocheters and other fiber artists.  As part of the planned fun, there are a bunch of us who will be participating in a stitch marker exchange.  So I’ve been busy making stitch markers for this.

markers2

Yes, I’ve been making LOTS of stitch markers.  In fact, my group of knitting friends who are going to the conference have been meeting and working on our markers together, which is a load of fun, let me tell you.

markers3

Our latest “workshop” involved making markers out of Shrinky Dinks paper.  It has been many, many years since I did anything with Shrinky Dinks and this proved to be lots of fun.  If you aren’t familiar with the process, here is roughly how to do it.

markers5

You can buy Shrinky Dinks at most craft stores.  It comes in thin sheets of plastic-like material or heavy vinyl.  At the store I got mine from, they had matte, frosted, and white shrinky dinks paper.  In the picture above this one, the matte markers are the ones that are black and white.  The white markers were made from white shrinking paper.  And the frosted ones are the semi-transparent ones in a bit of color and black and white.  I found that, for the matte paper, I needed to take a green scrubber like you use for scrubbing a pan and lightly rough up one side of the paper so that I could easily draw on it.

OK, here is what you do.

1. For markers, find something circular, if you like that shape (i.e. the bottom of a pill bottle) and trace the circles onto the paper.  You might want to experiment with several sizes of circles and go through the whole process, including baking them so that you can see what size they will end up.

2.  Using Sharpie pens (or even Crayola-type coloring pencils/crayons), draw your design of choice on each circle.  I used a piece of paper to rest my hand on while drawing (starting at the top of my Shrinky Dinks page) so that the oils from my hands wouldn’t interfere with the ability of the pens to draw on the paper.

3.  Now cut out each circle.

4.  Using a hole punch, punch a hole at the top of each circle.  (NOTE:  You MUST punch any holes you want to make before you bake these otherwise you’ll be trying to drill a hole in a hard, small object.

5.  Now, put a sheet of parchment paper down on a cookie sheet (I used a jelly roll pan which is just a cooky sheet with a little lip all around it so that, if they “jumped” while baking, they wouldn’t accidentally slip off my sheet and gunk up my oven).  Place your shrinky dinks circles on the parchment paper.  NOTE:  I think I placed mine about 2 or so inches apart.

6.  Bake in a 350 degree oven.  At this point, you need to turn on your oven light and watch them.  First they will start to curl up until they look like little bowls.  Don’t panic.  This is normal.  They will gradually lay back down flat.  When they have flattened back down, you can take them out of the oven.  NOTE:  The whole procedure takes probably less than 5 minutes.

7.  Now, using a second sheet of parchment paper, lay that extra sheet of the paper on top of the baked shrinky dinks and use a flat spatula to press down briefly on each one.  This will just ensure that they are nice and flat.

8.  I then slide the baked shrinky dinks (which are much smaller than they were originally, plus thicker) onto another sheet of parchment paper on my counter and let them cool, which doesn’t take long.

markers4

To finish making the markers, I open up a jump ring and insert it into the hole and then close up the jump ring.  There you have it.  You’ve made your own stitch markers.  If you aren’t familiar at all with jewelry making, you’ll probably want to get a few tools.

I particularly like the following:

Beadsmith Jump Ring Opening and Closing Tool

Beadsmith 1-Step Looper Pliers

A Crimper

A set of jewelry pliers like these, which are a nice size to throw into a bag when going off to work on markers with friends.

You’ll also need see-through containers for your beads, assorted jump rings, and 2 or 3-inch headpins for making the beaded markers shown at the top of this post.  But for shrinky dinks markers, it’s pretty simple:  jump rings, hole punch, and shrinky dinks paper (they DO make generic shrinking vinyl paper, if you want to save some bucks).

Now go pretend you’re a kid again and make some crafts.

 

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