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World of Wine

I’m not much of a drinker. Most people would say I’m a lightweight. Some would say I aspire to be a lightweight. I think I have alcoholic drinks a couple of times per year, and the rest of the time it’s iced tea. If you hand me a big rum and coke, for every 12 ounces of coke, there’s probably about .2 ounces of rum. If I can taste alcohol, I’ll either nurse the same drink all night, or refuse to drink it at all.

The funny thing is, when I was a kid, my dad would occasionally let us kids take sips of his nightly beer. Just one sip each. Hey, it was the seventies. Anyway, between the sips of beer and my mom’s rum-soaked yearly holiday fruitcakes, by the time we were old enough to drink, neither my brother nor I could stand the taste of alcohol. Still can’t. As a result, I have been drunk exactly once in my life, and that was twenty-some-odd years ago. I came so close to being sick, it solidified my dislike of alcohol.

Fast forward to 2014, when a visitor to my house brought a bottle of Mia Dolcea moscato wine. Up to that point, I didn’t like wine either. Every wine I had ever tasted was bitter and sour to me, for which reason I also avoided recipes that called for wine. Moscato opened a whole new world for me. Not all wines tasted horrible!

I’ll never be one of those people who goes to wine tastings and  discusses bouquet. I’ve been reading up on the whithertos and whyfors of the wine world, and have to say I still don’t get it. I’ve tasted a couple of other white wines, and didn’t like them for drinking, although they were great in white clam sauce. I haven’t yet found another wine I like, but I’ve learned the lesson that if you can’t drink it, don’t cook with it. In other words, don’t go to the supermarket and buy a bottle of “cooking wine”. I go to the local liquor store and ask for a good burgundy or Pinot Noir if I’m looking for a recipe ingredient. The moscato is strictly for sipping while cooking dinner.

I admit, though, I’d like to go to a wine tasting just once, just to see what all the hubbub’s about! I may not understand it, but it might be interesting nonetheless, and I might discover another wine I like.

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The Fabric of My Addiction

“Fabric” is the key word here. I’m finding that wire crochet is fully as immersive for me as any other type of fabric creation. I’ve been at it since about 9 pm, and it’s almost midnight now. I’ve been having trouble putting it down. The only reason I did is because the wire is a bit hard on the thumb, as you’re using it to push back the top of the stitch your hook is pulling the wire through. After awhile, it’s like pressing guitar strings against the frets, until you develop calluses on your fingers. Someone suggested using a thimble in their blog, and I did attempt that, but with a thimble on my thumb, I lost grip on the work. I adapted to life without a thimble: I started using my thumbnail to push the stitch back. My nail feels nothing.

Aneira discovered tonight that it’s a choker I’m working on, and immediately asked who it was for. She pretty much danced a jig when I said “Who else would it be for?” I probably should have said it was for me, just on principle, but I didn’t.

I added about two inches worth of work to the choker tonight, maybe more, while sitting at the desk listening to my Celtic station on Pandora. And I learned that I can work the stitches without the magnifying lens, just as long as I use the LED lamp, which I’m totally okay with. Anyone sane, good vision or no, is going to say yes to good light, so I feel better about it!

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Hooks and Loops of Steel

The start of Aneira’s choker. The pink wire is the base, not part of the necklace.

Well, the hooks are, anyway. I’m pretty sure craft wire is copper. But yeah, still with the wire crochet, and kicking myself for choosing what I think is the most ambitious of Yoola‘s beginner designs. It’s not that it’s difficult–once you learn how to do the stitches, it’s actually fairly easy, so long as you can see what you’re doing (yes, I’m still using the magnifier, and yes, I’m still grumbling about it). It’s a beginner design, so it’s only going to be so hard. No, the ambitious part lies in the amount of time it’s going to take to finish it. I probably should have started with a smaller project, but I know how much Aneira likes choker necklaces, soooooo…

My girls are growing up. Too fast for me, as it happens. Bryony turned eight right after Christmas. Aneira will officially be a teenager in a few months. She is only an inch or two shorter than I am (and I’m 5’10”), and regularly steals my shoes. Not that they’re fashionable, because they are far from it. I live my life in sneakers, because they are comfortable. Aneira is very much like me in that regard. Jeans, sneakers, and tee shirts are the order of every day. Neither of us is fond of dresses, but we’ll wear them if we have to. She’s no fashionista, but she is starting to enjoy jewelry and–may all benevolent gods help me–boys. She considers herself “emo”, whatever that means, and dresses in black whenever she can get away with it. And she has this love of chokers. The design is deceptively simple, and I know how much she would love it, so thus occurred my choice of project. I was not, however, entirely stupid. I know, from past experience, how hard she is on jewelry, and how quickly she loses it, so I am not using the sterling silver wire for her choker. I’m using craft wire. We’ll see how long she manages to keep this one before I consider using more expensive wire on her.

Meanwhile, the craft area is coming along. Tonight, for the first time since we moved in, I have unearthed the surface of my desk. Yay, me! I was beginning to despair of ever seeing it again. I invested in a ton of Command strips and hung all of my knitting looms on the columns of the loft. Yarn went into a bookcase that matches my desk, in an orderly fashion, while cone yarn is on the top of the bookcase, and nine other totes hold yet more yarn. I’ve still got a little ways to go, though, in finding places for all the small things still scattered on the floor.

Having my area in the loft is both a curse and a blessing. It’s a curse in that I lack two walls and a lockable door to keep kids and pets from messing around in my stuff, but it’s a blessing in that the location allows me to be a part of things and to keep an eye on the girls at the same time. Everything is a trade off, yeah?

And slowly, all of my WIPs are resurfacing as we empty boxes and bags. So far there are a couple of amigurumi, several blankets, and a few bags, all in various stages of not-finished. I guess I won’t lack for things to do throughout the winter!

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Happy New Year!

Wire crochet kit

Here’s hoping 2018 will be better than 2017. I’ll reserve judgment till about June. At that point, I’ll be able to count up the good vs. the bad so far and see where we stand.

The PIP has “grounded” me to my craft area so that I can finally get it set up the way I want it. Plus there’s a floor loom I need to make room for. I scored a Leclerc Nilus–for free–from Craigslist last week. It’s supposed to go into the craft area, but it’s not looking like it can really fit. It’s not a huge loom, but the space up in the loft is a bit limited, especially with all the other stuff that needs to be in the area as well. So, we’re going to try, but it may need to be traded away for something a little lighter that folds.

Still, it’s coming along. It looks a lot better than it did even a week ago, though it’s not organized enough yet that I’m willing to post pictures. The desk alone is a disaster area, piled up with things that I haven’t given an official place to yet. Soon, very soon…I hope.

For Yule this year, the PIP bought me one of those big project lamps, the ones that are adjustable, LED, and this one has a magnifier on it, which made me think “Awesome, but I won’t need that for a few years.”

Let me tell you, denial is not a pretty place to be. We have a huge tv down in the great room, and I often can’t read the gorram display from the sofa, all of ten feet away. I certainly can’t read medicine bottles anymore; the print is just too small. And one of my other presents has convinced me it’s time to get my glasses fixed.

I bought myself a fantastic wire crochet set from Yoola, because I really enjoy the things she sells, and it’s been years since I bought anything from her. So I splurged a little on myself, and today was the first time I could really sit down and play with it, because the entire family has been sick since Christmas Day. Today, though, the girls were at school, and the PIP was playing with car parts. Peace reigned supreme!!!

I loaded up the tutorial for the piece I wanted to attempt, and it was perfect. The instructions were pretty clear, the video was spot-on, and even the PDF made sense. This was a red-letter day!!

First, practice attempt at wire crochet

Then I went to put the newly learned skill to some use. I grabbed the smallest spool knitter, a 1mm crochet hook, and a coil of really hot pink 28 gauge wire. And two things happened.

  1. I remembered how tiny a 1mm crochet hook really is.
  2. I realized I couldn’t see the wire or the hook well enough.

So, snarling to myself about the amount of bull encompassed by the phrase “golden years” (I’m not even fifty yet), I turned on the magnifier. It was glorious. Suddenly, I could see what I was doing. Of course, I was still peeved at the fact that I had no choice but to use the magnifier, but I will give credit where credit is due: the thing is awesome.

I had a bit of trouble starting out with the wire crochet, and I’m not yet sure how much of that was because I couldn’t see it, and how much of it was simply initial startup. Some crafts seem to be that way, where just getting started is an unpleasant chore, but once you get past a certain point, the work is just smooth sailing. The first attempt was just practice. We’ll see how the second one goes!

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Tatting Shuttle Review

Flat, carved bone tatting shuttles from the Ukraine

It’s review time!!! I found these fabulous-looking shuttles…okay, they were found by someone in the tatting shuttle group on Facebook, not me, per-se, but that doesn’t make them less fabulous, and I’ve been collecting them since I saw the first one.

They come from an artist in the Ukraine, who has a store on Etsy: SergKostyukovDesign. They’re carved of bone, and they’re flat shuttles, as opposed to most of my others. They’re mostly carved into animal shapes, as you can see from the photo: one carries two different colors of thread at the same time (I haven’t figured out how to use it yet!), then there’s a mackerel, an owl, a crocodile, and a hedgehog. He’s made others, but I haven’t ordered any more yet, though I plan to.

I’ve discovered there’s a learning curve here. I’ve never used a flat shuttle for tatting before, and I also generally tat with size 3 or 10 thread, and this shuttle is made for much thinner thread. I have one ball of size 20 thread, and it was almost too thick for the shuttle. But once I got the hang of

Crocodile shuttle, locked, loaded, and ready to rock!

threading it, I got the job done. It was slower going than with my other shuttles, but it’s the first time I’ve used a flat shuttle, so that could have been it.

Once loaded, working with it was no different than any other shuttle, and it works beautifully. I only did a little practice piece, a couple of rings, so I can’t wait to work with it for real!

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New stuff

I-Loom with the start of a friendship bracelet on it.

Would you believe that I actually found time to discover new fiber arts even while unpacking? I did. It was completely by accident, too. Someone somewhere online mentioned something called soutache. I’d never heard of it before, so naturally I had to go look it up on Google. And naturally, once I found out what it was, well, it was necessary to buy books and supplies so I could try it.

I need an intervention lol.

Soutache is a type of trim. It’s flat braid, and you take several pieces in various colors to stitch it in place around a bead. Or several beads. Well, of course I was snagged. Beads and fiber arts, my two favorite things!

I haven’t tried it yet. The kit containing all of the braid arrived in the mail pretty recently, but the kit doesn’t include beads, and I didn’t have the right type in my stash, so I had to order them. Some of them arrived yesterday, so I have everything I need to try and make a piece; I just haven’t had the time to do it! There’s a learning curve, and I’m holding out for when I can really sit down with it for a couple of hours and watch some tutorials. Right now, between unpacking, children, critters, and PIP, I’m lucky I have time to breathe!

I also came across this item called an I-Loom. It’s one of those “toys” aimed at teenaged girls, for the purpose of making friendship bracelets. Really complex ones, too, which appeals to me. For all intents and purposes, it’s micro-macramé, and

A crane, which is pretty much the best of my origami talents so far!

the loom itself is like a kumihimo plate, so you can anchor your threads when they’re not in use. Yeah, you know what happened: I bought it for me. Bryony doesn’t have the coordination or patience for something like this yet, and Aneira is more focused on cute boys and playing video games right now. She might like a friendship bracelet as long as she doesn’t have to do the work of making it. Fortunately for her, I don’t mind making things!!

The girls have got me doing origami too. I haven’t done that probably since I was Bryony’s age, but they brought home origami projects from school, and it just went from there. I’m not particularly good at it, but it’s fun to do nonetheless, and I’d forgotten that.

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Nightmare time

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long. We’ve been involved with selling one house and building another, and have finally made it into the new house. Words cannot convey how nightmarish this move has been. Pets kenneled in two different places, the family staying in three different hotels, closing dates pushed back, then pushed forward, then pushed back again, furniture arriving broken when we finally get into the house at last, dogs already tearing up the brand new house…perhaps I should just begin at the beginning, huh?

Well, five dumpsters and five storage units later, our old house sold at the end of July, about two hours after it officially started showing. Amazing, right? But the new house wasn’t going to be ready before the end of August, and we had to be out of the old house by August 12. But as soon as the old neighborhood became aware that this was really happening, things went downhill quickly. We had two break-ins within the space of a month. First, someone broke into our basement, took the computer router and the main DirecTV box. A couple of weeks later, someone broke into my truck and stole Aneira’s phone and my brand new iPod. At that point, we decided to leave early. We were in a hotel by the first, with the animals in boarding facilities. The first hotel, to put it nicely, was a pit. But we paid for four days, then moved to the hotel we had actually scheduled, which was two rooms with a kitchen. Basically, a small one bedroom apartment with housekeeping. It was only for a month, right?

The week before we were expecting to close, our realtor called us. We were being pushed back to October. We went to the builder, essentially to beg them not to do this. Their representative for our development said that there was nothing she could do. She worked for them, and her own house had been in framing for five months. We decided we were doomed, and went back to our realtor to start househunting again. We couldn’t afford to live in hotels for two months and pay for our animals to be boarded in two different facilities for that long.

At some point, he must have told the rep we were looking again, and she found a way to push us back up to mid-September. We could live with that, and started planning accordingly. Then the petsitter called: two of our gliders, Canth and Ruth, had died. Out of nowhere. They found a fast-growing tumor in Ruth’s mouth, which was what had taken him, but no reason could be found for Canth’s death. The kids were devastated.

While dealing with this, we discovered we couldn’t extend our stay at the hotel until closing, and we had to find yet another hotel for the remaining days until closing. Okay, we can do this. It’ll only need to be for four days, and in the meantime, let’s get our two newest gliders here to the current hotel to help the kids with their grief over the other two.

We then moved to the next hotel, which was rather nice as well. This one was a small two bedroom apartment with housekeeping. Very cozy. Four days. No problem. It’s all almost over.

The day before closing comes, and we get a call. The framing inspection was never done, and the inspector was there now, and the drywall had to be torn down so he could inspect. Are you kidding me? How did you miss the framing inspection??? That’s kind of a big one! Apparently the person in charge of such things was no longer working for the company, and the accountant was now trying to take his place, thus the huge mistake. So they said we could close on the 20th instead of the 19th. I agreed and called the movers, the furniture store, and the appliance store, and arranged everything for the 20th. Then, on the 19th, we got a call saying it would have to wait till the 21st, because the drywall had to be replaced and painted. I had to call and rearrange everything again.

The final walkthrough was set for 8 am in one town, with closing, as far as we knew, at 10 in another town. We get to the house for the walkthrough, and the guy isn’t there. He shows up at 8:30. Fifteen minutes later, Google alerts us that closing is at 9 am…and we’re a good 30 minutes away, and haven’t accomplished the walkthrough yet.

So the walkthrough is rushed, but no worries, we are told: make a list and submit it through the warranty. Okay, fine.

The first thing we discover…the first big thing…is that the garage is not done. Two walls have been insulated and drywalled. The other two have been insulated, but the drywall isn’t done. Insulation is just kind of hanging out. I ask when this is going to be finished, and am told it won’t be. What???

Well, they made a mistake, you see. We weren’t supposed to get insulation and drywall in the garage. So we can either buy and hang the drywall ourselves, or we can rip out several thousand dollars worth of insulation. WHAT????

Needless to say, the PIP is livid. The point of spending the money to build a house is the fact that you move in, and you don’t have any work to do on the house. Everything is new. You don’t make a mistake of this magnitude and then throw it on the new owner to deal with. You fix it!!!

Throughout all of this, the builder has refused to reimburse us for the hotel stays caused by their errors. They don’t do reimbursement, they say.

We have submitted a list of things that need to be fixed. Among them, the grout in all four bathrooms and the kitchen is crumbling and falling out. They’ve agreed to fix everything, but no one is really happy with how the builder has handled things. Missed inspections. Mistakes not being corrected. Things falling apart and we’ve been here less than a month. The fence we were promised three days after moving in on the 22nd was only erected three days ago.

Overall, I’m happy with the house, don’t get me wrong. It was just a nightmare getting here.



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