Honestly, I don't remember a ton about the snow that day. There are a smattering of images that go through my mind, but I don't recall much. I can't even remember what I dressed up for that day. But October 31, 1991 is such an important and profound day in my life that its effects will never cease to resonate with me.
1991: I turned 4 years old in June (and that means I just gave away my age, but I'm okay with it), my sister and I were sharing a bedroom, and I spent most of my time either at home or at my grandparents' houses.
So, thinking back to what was going on around that time, the Minnesota Twins had just won the World Series (Congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals for taking this year's title over Texas!) I don't remember a ton from the series games other than my mom pacing around the living room watching from home. She plans to go the next time the Twins make it to the series, but in 1991, she wasn't able to go for fear that she would give birth to my brother right there at the game - which I still think would have made a good story.
Instead, my brother was born on Halloween morning at about 6:30 am shortly before the blizzard started. We still affectionately blame him for all the snow. In an instant I went from being the youngest of two girls to the middle of three, and we finally had another boy in the house.
What I do remember are mostly images. I vaguely remember going into the living room and seeing our neighbor watching the Flintstones in her pajamas. I knew at that point that I had a brother, and my sister tells me that she woke me up. I remember my grandma coming over and playing outside when it started snowing while my sister was at school. I remember my dad coming home to get us and sitting in the front seat (no airbags, and it was 100% okay back then) of the car on the way to visit my mom and brother in the hospital. I remember going around the curve to enter the Wakota bridge. Normally not the way we would take, but I'm sure roads had been shut down by then.
I remember getting to the hospital and holding a baby for the first time. My sister, brother, and I are the oldest of all of our cousins, so he was really my first baby experience. I was wearing a teal sweater with hearts on it. I honestly don't remember much more from the hospital than that.
I remember getting home to our neighbor plowing out our driveway (different neighbor than the one in pajamas that morning). To a 4-year-old, watching someone plow through a 6 foot snow drift is pretty cool. After last winter, I am starting to realize just how much work that really was.
I've heard other accounts and stories, but having a brother who was born on the day of the blizzard is definitely a fun fact that can be really helpful. I've won countless arguments on how long ago the Halloween blizzard was simply by saying "My brother was born that morning." Aside from those little tiffs, I can't be more thankful to have my brother in my life. We don't always get along, but that's what being a sibling is for. I know he would kill for me, and I for him. We both want houses that can go off the grid, and we have been able to force each other to grow immeasurably I can't be more happy for that.
So, happy 20th Bitthday, Tom! I hope it's a great one!
So, after completing my mittens and taking a small day off from knitting, I am on to my next project! This project will be in two sets, I am making two infant sweater and hat sets. One is a gift for my cousin since she is pregnant and expecting in March, the other is for a friend of mine who has commissioned a set from me. I'm definitely excited to see how these come together!
Follow up on the mittens: before they were delivered, the new owner saw them with her daughter online. They loved them before they even saw them, and they loved them more once they did. Thanks for the positive feedback! I already know of a few simple ways I'll proceed differently (nothing structural) to speed up the process of creating them as well.
Sidenote: I found a rolling cart in my neighbor's trash... It's in decent shape and just needs a quick repair to some of the molding. I plan to clean it up, put some hardware on, and use it for my new - and humongous - printer! I can't wait to get yet another furniture project underway!
I finally finished my four mitten project! They all turned out so darn well, too! I absolutely love that I was able to write a new pattern for these and expand my techniques with making them double layered.
Between all four sets, I made several changes and adjustments to make them better. The thumbs were the biggest thing that changes from pair to pair, even though the technique for all of them was exactly the same. As it turns out, thumbs are the most difficult part of the hand to size!
One of the other things that makes these unique is how I did the connection line between pairs: since kids grow at different rates, I made them so the line can be easily removed for washing or for adding additional length if the gloves fit when the line does not.
But I was still able to get a great look out of all them, especially on the last pair: purple sparkly ones. They are double layered through the vast majority of the glove, as you can see in previous entries of how I did the layering. On the top, the gloved portion is one layer, and the mitten flap makes it double.
They turned out a lot cuter than I had expected, and one of the biggest adaptations from the first to the second is how I structured the fingers. They are very similar, but the spacing of the stitches is just a little bit different on each in order to make sure there are no gaps in between.
As with all of the pairs, these are done in a moss stitch to give them a little bit of texture and to make sure they aren't at all boring. The texture also gives it a little bit more grip, and would make it very easy to hide rubberized grippers as well.
The cuffs and the base of the flap are done in a rib stitch to make them far more stretchy: this helps keep them snug on the bottom, but still expandable for getting the hand in and out - perfect for the winter, and for little kids.
But while they are most definitely a knit, there were a few ways I utilized a few of my minimal crocheting techniques: I used a crochet hook to close the tops of mittens, thumbs, and fingers so the tops would come together cohesively and securely. I also used my hook to be sure all of my ends were weaved in and secured on the inside of each mitten. In some cases, the ends are tucked between layers to minimize problems with snags or the ends being pulled out. I used it to add stitches where there were none, as the hook made it easy to cast stitches onto the needle through a section that I had already knit. I also made the connection line entirely with a crochet hook so the chain would be consistently spaced.
This improvisation took almost all of the materials I had available: holding needles for where I added the flap and secured the thumb, crochet hook for adding stitches and all the miscellaneous parts, stitch counters for containing areas where the layers would be connected and occasionally holding extra stitches. And these were - of coarse - done entirely in the round. The only thing I didn't use was my cabling needle, but I'm sure I'll get the chance to take that out at some point very soon!
Just because I'm not a kid anymore doesn't mean I don't still love Halloween! I think it is a fun and fabulous holiday for all ages. Growing up watching shows like Home Improvement, I was introduced to the adult version of a terrifying Halloween party at a very young age. It's also my brother's birthday, so no matter what, when October 31st rolls around, I'm ready for something good.
When I was in high school, we used to go to Spooky Wold, and in recent years, I have gone to the Tunnel of Terror. But, there is so much more I would like to do with Halloween that I just haven't been able to put my finger on for a very long time.
I've come to learn that I mostly want to have an adult Halloween dinner party. I don't mind having an excuse to dress fancy, and if costumes are needed, I can just call it a Masquerade!
There are so many ways to dress up the home for Halloween that stay safely away from ghosts and jack-o-lanterns, and these have more longevity for fall decor and can bleed into Thanksgiving decor with some minor changes.
I love this image, with its orange napkins and black accents. It is definitely a fall look, and with the wirey centerpiece and paired down color scheme, it still has a touches ready for Halloween. Plus, the orange flowers and cream linens are both classy and beautiful.
I love seeing a lot of orange and chocolate browns used for Halloween instead of stark blacks. Throw in some charcoal and reds, and the imagery is perfect for a zombie Halloween color scheme. Add a touch of green and yellow, and it is the perfect fall palette.
One of my favorite things in decor is lanterns. I love them. I always have, so seeing them used well is always exciting for me. I love this centerpiece - and not just the lantern.
I'm also very picky about lanterns. They need to be simple, and they cannot be adorned with weird shapes. For instance, the Rotera lanterns at Ikea are absolutely horrific. But I love the square Borrby ones they used to have (and I'm a little upset they were discontinued). I have twenty of them, and I use them everywhere.
They are one of the easiest things to decorate for any season, and the incarnation with fall leaves and the little pumpkin just makes these completely fabulous. Add a pumpkin or other fall scented candle, and the whole ambiance is practically perfect.
It wouldn't be Halloween without pumpkins. While I love the classic orange, I can't get over how cool these look in silver. Since I still have some left over from the pistol replica, I am that much closer to having some of my own.
I also like the "Trick or Treat" banner above this little side table. This would be very cool for obove a buffet or even on a front porch.
The complete lack of color fascinates me with this picture, but I would like to see a little red and orange mixed in. I do love the silver pumpkins, and I'd love to see a few cream and orange mixed in there too.
Well, I'm not sure I can accurately explain why I chose this topic today. But with 52 weeks in the year, it's important to mix it up a bit! So, in the interest of a little fun, here goes!
- What non-food items are in your refrigerator or freezer?
Well, my husband has some pickles... and I don't consider those edible. Other than that, we have some candles in our freezer from my birthday a few years ago. And we have at least one spoon hiding in there as well.
- What non-book items are on your bookshelves?
I have a clay pot with acrylic paints on one of my bookshelves. On another, I have long-term storage for blankets and pillows since it is next to my couch.
- What song or album in your music collection doesn’t fit in with your usual tastes?
I like a lot of different types of music... So I'm not quite sure of what doesn't fit. I have some of everything... I suppose my old choir stuff from high school.
OR I have a great local artist hailing from Duluth - his name is Phil Jents, and I was in theater in high school with him. Great guy, so in the absence of music that doesn't fit my collection, I'll give him a little plug: Phil Jents. Look him up!
- What item in your wardrobe really doesn’t match anything else?
I don't know! Hmmm.... hmmm... My huge t-shirt they make me wear for work! I hate it, and I'm cutting it to ribbons and sewing it back together with my sister (http://www.bymaggie.com), so stay tuned for that!
- What scar on your body did you receive in the unlikeliest of ways?
I sliced my knee open on a air vent when I was five. That's probably the gnarliest of all of them.
One of the things I have always loved to do is take a piece of furniture from "drab to fab." I'm currently working on a couple of furniture pieces depending on what kind of space I have available, time constraints, and flexibility. Recently, we had a lot of space open up in our living room, so I'm taking advantage!
So, it all started with this chair (more specifically, these chairs since there are two). My parents had a set of four or five of these when I was growing up around our kitchen table. My mom hated these chairs. I mean she hated them: like I hate playing monopoly. So, when we moved, no one was more thrilled than she was that these weren't needed regularly anymore.
Luckily for me, she couldn't part with these. Some eventually broke until we were down to just two left. My sister and I fought to keep them, knowing someday, they would be wonderful.
Now, just to be clear, I don't count myself hugely sentimental with furniture pieces. These chairs and my desk are the only pieces of furniture I've had for longer than five years. But as folding chairs, these have such great utilitarian uses, that I couldn't justify seeing them go. And we've used them for several events and holidays already.
But enough of me justifying why I've kept these seemingly awful chairs, so I can explain the new lease on life: The biggest change is these are getting a new coat of paint. These are going from a not so crisp white (my mom called the color dirty gross white) to a beautiful chocolate brown.
I have started putting on a fresh coat of paint, and while these are by no means finished, the look is already much improved. Beautiful, even.
I've so far done two coats of paint on each chair, and I am planning to start with touch-ups whenever possible. I plan to break out a smaller brush to get between the slats in the seats and all the tiny nooks so the color is completely flat and consistent.
I'm using a flat finish for a couple of reasons: it doesn't show scratches and wear and tear as much as other finishes do - which is good for a utility/kitchen chair. The paint would also be more easy to touch up and redo if these are ever extremely mistreated.
I have one last material designated for these chairs: In college, I bought some seat cushions for our bar stools in our furnished apartment: the cushions made those bearable to sit on. So, once the paint is done and dry, I'll put the cushions on, and voila! I'll have two wonderfully done, completely rehabilitated rescue chairs!
I even started showing some of the pictures to my mom (since she has professed her hatred for them), and she thought they were looking so much better already! Here's hoping the finished product continues to produce such great results!
I am excited to have finished the first pair for the four year-old in my four mitten commission, and to have started on the very last set in sparkly purple!
Here is a picture of the final set of regular mittens. They are in a coral orange/pink color, and I cannot be happier. Doing a non-traditional color makes these look so much more sophisticated than the average mitten!
All of the mittens in the set are in the moss stitch, but I do promise I can do other stitches as well. Moss stitch is my favorite, so I try to incorporate it into all of my designs. It's not always quite this prevalent, but I have been using it a lot lately! I have several other things coming, so I'm sure I'll start to mix it up.
Like my last few sets, these are still double layered with a cotton/acrylic blend on the inside for some comfort. The acrylic exterior is water resistant, so these could easily be used in the snow and slush of Minnesota winters.
As not to disappoint, here is some of the progress I've made on the last set of mitten. Since I took this shot, I have completed this mitten and started on the second. I couldn't be happier with my impromptu design!
It is quite different from the rest, as there is no traditional top. The liner goes up to the base of the fingers before it stops, then the top half is gloved! I am making them flip gloves, so there will be a top that can be flipped down so they can be worn as either a glove or a mitten.
I decided to keep the thumb the same as the rest with a consistent double layer. It didn't make sense to flip this one, if only for the hassle it can be to do: clean and simple for such a young recipient! And I can't get over how fun the sparkly purple is turning out.
My day yesterday was joyously filled with tons and tons of painting! I got started on two awesome folding chairs (more on those later), and did a resin gun prop start to finish! I took it from the resin mold to looking like the original Malcolm Reynolds pistol from the show Firefly. While I didn't actually do the resin mold myself, all of the detail and paint work was done completely by hand.
So, here was my starting point: not bad, just really boring. All of the pieces are there, just none of the coloring. Unfortunately, I'm really awful at taking "in progress" shots (and this one is a stock photo from the ordering website: http://www.therpf.com/f9/mal-reynolds-firefly-pistol-10604/ ), but I'll still talk through most of what I did...
I started by sanding it down with 60 grit sandpaper to make the paint more easily adhere to the resin. Then I migrated out to my garage and went to my trusted Rustoleum spray paint. I sprayed a coat of bright silver over the entire gun, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies, let it dry, flipped it over, and did a coat on the reverse side.
From there, I started doing more research: pictures, information, and finding all the necessary things to delineate this gun from a real one (a half inch orange tip on the end of the barrel is customary). I found some pictures helpful, and others not as much, so I chose one that was the original, and one that I thought would have the best detailing that I could duplicate - duplicating a metal look on resin isn't quite as easy as it sounds.
Once both sides were dry, I was able to bring it inside, and I used brown acrylic paint to add all the necessary detail to the upper portion of the gun. I used an artist brush to add the color, and a rag to help get rid of any obvious or unnecessary strokes and amplify the detail.
After I had the detail mostly done with the top half, I moved to the stock of the gun, where I broke out a second paint color - this time red - to make the wood look. I didn't use the rag nearly as much on the stock, this way I could make it look more wooden. I added some browns to give it depth, and I hung it from the trigger to dry.
After a few hours, I did the orange tip to make sure the gun could be distinguished from the real thing and left it to hang overnight.
Here are this week's Friday Fives! This week, I'm bringing it back to my school days!
- Bully, teacher's pet, geek, shy kid in the corner, or something else?
I was mostly a cross between the geek and the shy kid in the corner. I didn't talk to very many people, and I didn't have very many friends when I was a kid. I was the one that every one knew, every one mostly got along with, but no one did anything with.
- What did you usually eat during lunch time at school?
Whatever was on the menu, I suppose. And chocolate chip cookies. I still remember how much I liked Italian Dunkers: they were served every Thursday when I was in elementary school.
- What did you normally wear to school? Thinking back to what you wore, do you like it?
I don't remember much about what I wore before high school. I do remember in high school I wore a lot of black and cargo pants. They served their purpose: I was in the technical theater department, so it was more about if it was okay for them to get painted, could I carry power tools easily/would they get snagged, and could I easily hide backstage in it.
Fashion didn't really hit me well until I was in college.
- Any sports/activities/clubs you participated in?
I was in swimming the first part of high school, but I didn't like it much. I loved swimming butterfly, and I was pretty good at it, but I was never placed in it. I was always doing theater stuff: but I only acted once. My thing was the sets, the props, and the staging.
- Any worthwhile friends you still keep up with after graduation?
Well, my husband and most of the people we hang out with... I lost touch with a few, but not many, and only one that I really wish I was closer to.
I just read two very interesting articles on what makes Minnesota "Minnesota."
It all started with Chief Justice Lori Gildea calling Brainerd "real Minnesota" as it is outside the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Being from a small town of 270, I can see where she's coming from - a metro area of more than 1 million people must feel worlds apart from where she hails from. But as our Chief Justice, she needs to know how to represent both worlds, as we all make up one state. And all are part of "real Minnesota."
So, after reading countless comments, texting and tweeting with my sister, and thinking about how Minnesota and its Minnesotans are distinct, here is a bit of how I see it:
Our lottery tickets support one of the things that matters most to our population in general: the MN DNR and MN Wildlife Fund. We are all at least a little bit invested in supporting our wildlife and preserving our landscape here. Even looking out my office window, I see the Bailey nature preserve looking over the opposite bank of the Mississippi River.
Out the opposite window, I can see the Wakota hockey rink: one of our other staples - we consider ourselves the "State of Hockey." We embrace our winters here; we have a pond hockey tournament each year on Lake Nokomis - it is one of the highlights of my winters since I moved into the city. Hockey continues to be important: there are debates here at my work over who has the better high school hockey team all of the time. Even in the height of summer.
Our cities focus on park space. The vast majority of the lakes in Minneapolis and St. Paul are open to the public with parks and open space. Around each lake is free space to roam, walk dogs, bike, and generally just enjoy nature. Unlike most other cities, this sought after real estate is completely open to the public. Most of these are also restrictive on what is allowed to be on the lake: no boat motors are allowed in Minneapolis lakes, and much of the space is open for picnics with swimming beaches, bathrooms, and the occasional hot dog stand.
Of Minnesotans, my sister, Maggie (http://www.bymaggie.com) seems to have put it best in context to the rest of the country:
"I read an article a couple of months ago that claimed that "hipsters" are really just trying to be Minnesotan. It was a Buzzfeed article that CityPages picked up, drawing parallels between our mutual affinity for "the lumberjack look," live theater, farmer's markets, our music scene, and the recent "everyone should bike" trend. I also have heard hipsterism described as a "fetishism for the authentic," which is probably the most succinct and accurate description I've heard of what it is to be a hipster."
On the whole, I agree with that appraisal of what makes a Minnesotan distinct - as well as a hipster. Even moving further into her comment: we are considered the most bike-friendly area in the nation (though I still think all bikers need to follow traffic laws. The unpredictable nature makes me nervous), and so many people here have egg-laying hens, vegetable gardens, or both - bringing the farmer's market home.
But I would add that authenticity is not just found in where we shop or how we dress. It is in being true to where we came from, and embracing what we can do for the future. I have yet to be in a more optimistic place than Minnesota, no matter what happens, there is always a drive to improve.
You can check out the articles here:
MPR News: Searching for Real Minnesota: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/news_cut/archive/2011/10/searching_for_real_minnesota.shtmlCityPages: Chief Justice Lori Gildea: The Twin Cities is not "real Minnesota:" http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/10/lori_gildea_real_minnesota_twin_cities_brainerd.php