Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Summer Fling Bag

Summer Fling

Here is the first bag I have written a pattern for. It's available on my website. I was really happy with the way it turned out! The yarns I used were Cascade 220 in #8910 Citron and Crystal Palace Squiggle Print in #9547 Tulips. I purchased both of these at The Yarn Boutique in Lafayette, CA.

I'm working on a focus of Eco Clever Crafting, which is a philosophy of reducing, reusing and recycling. It also plays into the fact that I don't have the budget to buy whatever I want, or even buy in some cases what I need! So, I've been cruising thrift stores for ideas. The handles were from a handbag I got at Good Will that cost me $2. It was a hand made bag with beading, so I recycled the beads as well for a future project.

When comparing Brown Sheep to Cascade 220 when it comes to felting, I like Cascade 220 much more. If you have had experiences felting with different wool brands, let me know what you like. I would enjoy hearing about it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another long one - better get that beverage

Hello all,

I felt a strong need to sit down and write an entry. After the last few days, and after watching the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, there are many things I need to put to “paper”, so to speak. I hope you’ll bear with me, because I think this will be an entry very reminiscent of the old journal entries that I used to write when I kept such a thing.

Over the last two weekends, I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend time, and in many ways reconnect, with my dearest Christopher. Over the years, because of the distance and our own individual circumstances, we have not spent one-on-one time together. That was at the crux of why I went to So Cal this weekend – to step back in time a little and enjoy something that I have really missed. Oh, and there was the high school reunion thing he wanted to go to. I’ll save that for another time.

I asked him last weekend what he thought was my biggest regret and he encapsulated it so well – risks not taken. He was absolutely right.

We spent this weekend just talking about anything and everything – dredging up feelings and memories that I’m sure will help with healing some wounds, but perhaps, more importantly, trying to put them in perspective and put them to rest. In many ways, that is easier said than done, because it’s hard for us to let go and not obsess. We are very apt to keep saying why, even when there is no immediate answer.

He also said that our lives have been running parallel, with ups and downs, but at opposites. When things have been going well for me, he has struggled, and the same has happened to me in turn. We both would really love being at the same place – satisfied with both our personal and professional lives and being able to share those successes simultaneously. I’ve got work to do in both areas.

I had the opportunity to stop by and see his parents this weekend. They still live in the same home they had when we were in high school. The last time I was there was 3 days before I left for Norway. His mom still has a dog that was bound and determined to trip me up and stay underfoot. His folks are obviously older, and the furniture has changed, but as I sat down at the breakfast counter, it felt as if the last 20 or so years had slipped away and I was 19 again waiting for Chris to get ready. It was very strange, but still comforting. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I needed to get my head back in line. I’ve felt scattered and a little lost the last few months. In many ways struggling to remember who I am, what I can be. As I sat at that counter, I remembered some of the thoughts I had on that weekday afternoon back in May 1985. As scared as I was of the prospect of leaving everything and everyone I knew, I was also excited about the opportunity to get to know my family overseas, understand my heritage and the culture my parents raised me with. Chris remembers that I was very excited. What he failed to realize back then was that I was putting up a fairly good front – I didn’t want to loose those weekday afternoons talking to him about anything and everything, I really didn’t want to leave him. Thankfully, it lasted less than a year. But that trip was full of promise of exploration and education. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone home and walked my path alone for awhile.

When we were 19, we were full of expectations and anticipation. The future was ours, and we were going to take full advantage of it. I don’t think either of us could have imagined then where our paths would have taken us, and we probably would have made some drastic changes if we had had a clue. But, then again, we wouldn’t be the people we are today.

As I mentioned, I’ve been watching the convention. I was very moved by Teddy Kennedy’s speech, and the tribute prepared by Ken Burns. You forget what he has done over the years, the tragedies that he has experienced, the strength he gained from those circumstances. Even now, as he battles brain cancer, he still felt the need to be present, to remind those of us listening that the dream still lives. The speech given by Michelle Obama was well prepared and presented. I am thankful that I decided to sit through this first evening, because I did learn something, and oddly enough, was comforted by it.

I haven’t been hesitant about making some politically charged statements on this blog. It is something that I am quite passionate about. However, in the last several presidential elections, I have become disenfranchised and tired of the partisanship. It seems the only way someone can win an election is to tear down the opponent by whatever means necessary, including smear campaigns and lies.

The network pundits think that the Democrats made a mistake by not attacking McCain. I found it refreshing. I used to like McCain, and may have voted for him in 2000. Not anymore. Every time I see McCain it’s all about how Obama is wrong for the job or that McCain was a POW. When Jay Leno jokingly asked McCain how many homes he owned he launched into when he was a POW he didn’t have a house, or a kitchen or a bedroom. Lighten up, John.

This evening restored some faith I had in the political process. I won’t jump on the band wagon yet, because I also want to see what the rest of the week holds, and I will be watching the Republican Convention. I want to hear what each candidate will be proposing. I don’t want to hear how the opponent will be leading us down the rabbit hole to guaranteed disaster. How much worse could it get? Don’t answer that.

So what does my personal journey of rediscovery this weekend have to do with the Democratic Convention? Change. Hope. Promise.

I also took a step this weekend that goes hand in hand with risks not taken. I’m not too old for that. And it’s a change.

After I left Chris, I was passing the exit that would lead back to the old neighborhood. I just kept saying, “you can do this”. I drove by the old house, took in the changes in the neighborhood. I pulled up in front of the house of an old friend, and hoped her parents still lived there. Lo and behold they did.

The last time I saw Becki was my wedding day to my ex – way back in 1988. She was moving to a new home with her husband, and I was a newlywed. I didn’t try to contact her for a while, and I didn’t hear from her. Because my life was being poisoned by a man that wanted to control every thought and action I had (no, I’m not bitter), I assumed I had done something to drive her away. That wasn’t the case, I found out, but because of my own insecurity and obsessing on the negatives in life it took 2 decades to find that out.

Yes, Becki was fine, remarried with two beautiful boys. Just as I did, when her first marriage ended, she left the OC, but she headed south. We talked briefly Sunday afternoon and then again earlier today. I spent a few hours with her mother, trying to catch up on what had happened to us over the years. I also found that she is a preserver of stash as well! She spins! She grows cotton in her backyard! She knits and does needlework and I had no idea.

Our families had shared a back fence from 1978 to 1985. Becki and I would get chased off the phone and it would be too late to go around the corner to the other’s house, so we stood on chairs talking over the fence and star gaze and dream of the future. Becki was one of the first friends I made when we moved to Orange County – even before Chris. Though a year younger, we were still fast friends, and stayed that way through high school and in the years after graduation. When I needed to move away from my parents, she opened her home to me. When I had “boy” problems, she is the one I went to. When we needed a cover story for our parents, we were each others alibi. As Becki’s mom put it, we were thick as thieves.

We’ve taken the first steps in rediscovering each other, which is exciting and scary, but at least I can say that I took the risk and I can move forward with exercising that regret from my life. It’s a change, with hope for the future and potentially the promise of having an old friend back in my life.

So what does this have to do with politics? Hope for the future. A change for the better. An improved economy, that will mean monetary improvement. A better job market and the ability to recover financially. That’s a lot to hope for, but I want to have more things to look forward to instead of looking back and dwell on the things I should have done to put me in a better situation now.

One of my favorite albums when I was in high school was Pat Benatar’s Get Nervous. There was one song on there that I always associated with Chris, and now it seems that it really speaks to how we both have handled things over the years. Bear with me – here are the lyrics:

I heard you say you’re feelin’ like a change now
Maybe, baby this could be arranged now
But I warn you that no exotic scenery
Will solve your problems or make you feel easy
You say you’re happy, but I see apprehension
That little laugh of yours doesn’t hide the tension
The precious book you clutch so tightly in your hands
Won’t help you sleep at night, won’t iron out your plans

You ask advice, then resent my observations
If I didn’t care, then I wouldn’t make them
Can’t change the past, so why let it haunt you
Can paint the future, but first you have to want to

You gotta fight it out with your heart
You got to fight it, though it tears you apart
You got fight it out, my friend
You got to do it for yourself
You got to say when

I can see how much you hurt inside
I know all about the tears you hide

You know that the lonely pay the price for the love in the end.

This was never what I considered “our song”. That’s not something I think most people typically have for a friendship, but in my mind, we had two songs that were, and still are, our songs. The first one was “Shadows of the Night”, also off the Get Nervous album, and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago, the latter being a self-fulfilling prophecy over the years. As to the former, I guess Chris has always been my Midnight Angel. The lyrics above still mean something after all these years, and now reflect back to me and my own struggles. If I want to be happy, and insure that my husband and marriage stay strong, I need to fight my own inner demons and let the past be the past. I also have to have faith in myself again, my strengths and abilities. I will succeed – I will be successful again.

Christ, I’m getting maudlin. I have had but one small glass of Muscato, and it takes more than that to get me “I love you man” drunk.

So back to risks not taken and the promise of the future - I guess I chose a new path to follow over the weekend. I hope it works.

For those of you that managed to stay through this sorry excuse of wool gathering/navel gazing, I promise that I will get back to the knitting soon. I have pictures I need to upload and I want to share!

Thanks for staying in there with me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A quick update

Hello everyone!

It's been busy around here. I've been trying to build my insurance business and it has become a slow, painful process. The economy makes it more difficult for some people justifying adding costs to their monthly budgets. And if you haven't paid for health insurance for awhile, it makes it more challenging. I keep plugging away, though.

My best friend and his daughter visited us last weekend, which was unexpected but still a wonderful experience all in all. There are too few occasions we have to just hang out and enjoy each others company. This is one of the few regrets I have in moving to Northern California - those that I consider to be my close friends are all in Southern California. Will we move back down there? Probably not. As much as I miss Orange County, I can't imagine living there again.

So, what else I have I been up to? I got my first kill in YarnSmackDown. I have a pair of socks that I need to finish, but I'm not as motivated as I have been in the past. I have been spending more time developing knitting patterns. I love the creative outlet, and I have been working on putting some of my hat patterns to paper. I should have a set of 4 ready for next week. Two of the patterns are those that I have used for charity knitting in the past and I'm using Rowan Felted Tweed, which makes a great warm, lightweight hat. When they're ready, I will post it on the website and provide a link.

Tonight I am heading back to the OC for a small scale 25 year high school reunion. I probably wouldn't be going if it were not for my friend Chris (the same one who was here last weekend). He wants to go, but doesn't want to go alone. The things to we for those we love. Of those that have RSVP'd, I remember 2. It should be interesting. I wonder if they will remember me?

That's it for now. I'm hoping to get back on track with regular blogging, because I am finding that I miss it. But there are only so many hours a day and the Olympics have been on, so there you have it.

Wasn't Michael Phelps amazing?!?! We've also been watching things like handball and table tennis. I usually like watching gymnastics, but have been disappointed by some of the judging and the rule bending done by China when it comes to the ages of a couple of their female gymnasts. It's been amazing to see a different side of China, and I do hope that I can visit there someday, as their culture and history are very interesting. Oh hell, I just want to travel. Anyone want to give me a couple tickets to anywhere?

See you soon!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I'm offering my first free pattern. Go to the website and check it out!


Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm Back

Did you miss me? I missed you!

Fair warning, this is going to be a long ass post, so I would suggest getting your beverage of choice. Mine is a spiked Arnold Palmer (Smirnoff Citrus Twist, Lemonade and Tea – yum). I’ll wait while you get it.

(insert Final Jeopardy music here)


It’s been a bit crazy over the last few weeks. I was also feeling some burnout trying to post to the blog everyday. I had a good run. Part of it was thinking of interesting things to write when my life has been less than interesting. Times are tough, and we’ve been feeling it.

Kevin had an out patient surgical procedure a couple of weeks ago. Prognosis good, and he’s fine and went back to work within a few days. I have also been working diligently building my insurance business with mixed results. This has been very frustrating, yet I persevere.

I am excited about something that I’ve been thinking about a while. Earlier this year, I secured the domain www.solslett.com. I lost Venka.com a few years ago to a toner company in England, which sucked. So what to do with a website? Go look. I’ll wait.

(insert orchestra piece, something along the lines of Disney)

Well? Yeah, it’s still rough and needs some work, but I’m going to publish knitting patterns. My sister-in-law and I are also going to add some of our more expressive photography for those that may be interested in purchasing them for their home or office. I’m still working out the legal aspects, but I remain positive that this will be a successful venture. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

I have been working on writing up patterns. I have a sock pattern called With A Twist, which is a ribbed sock, and fits quite nicely. I also completed a pattern for a wash cloth called Lattice & Columns. Then there are the sleeping masks I made for my life sensitive, desperate to sleep in on the weekends, husband. Last is the Summer Fling Bag.

I have also been working on a line of patterns called Eco Clever Crafting. One of the patterns ready to go has a Eco Clever Crafting tip! Since I’m severely cash strapped right now, I cannot justify spending any money on craft supplies. My solution – thrift stores and Charities such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

The Salvation Army has a half off sale the last day of the month. I found a number of good “fiber” sweaters that I am going to unravel, wash and create. A 100% wool sweater in a men’s large was had for only $1.50. Yes, there is work involved, but the sweater was new and a good, workable color. I picked up a few more sweaters with different fiber profiles. I also picked up some old handbags. Purse handles are sometimes quite expensive, and if I can get a bag with interesting handles for a $1 or $2, then why not. It’s a new twist on the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle philosophy. I’m thinking of creating patterns for a shawl, a shopping bag, a laptop case and a few other goodies. Stay tuned.

So, what else is going on……

There was a family reunion in Norway weekend before last. I wasn’t there, obviously. Either was my mom – it was her family. We were both a little emotional about the whole thing. What came out of it was a surprise – cousins that I haven’t seen in years, and spouses I have never met – have been reaching out to me through email and of all things Facebook! I only signed up for that as a lark and never thought it would come to anything. It’s been amazing and wonderful and awesome! I have intermittent contact with two of my aunts, but that’s been it for years. My cousins have told me that Mom and I were spoken of often throughout the weekend and we were very much missed. Now that they know how to reach me, they will keep in contact. How cool is that?

Speaking of cool – we headed down to Los Angeles last weekend. Spent the weekend with our extended family – our wonderful friends. This past weekend at the Hollywood Bowl, Eric Idle of Monty Python fame presented his new project Not the Messiah (He’s a very naughty boy), “a comic oratorio inspired by Monty Python’s Life of Brian”. Billed as “5 soloists, choir, orchestra, 4 bagpipers and some sheep…”, it was a delightful musical romp through the movie. My friend Tammi and I thought it would be fun if we all dressed for the evening, similar to what we did last time we were at the Hollywood Bowl. That was for Rocky Horror, and a much different crowd. Many people thought we were part of the production, and we were the ONLY ones that dressed for the evening. I went as far as to make 3 caftans and a couple of vests which Kevin and our friends Chris and Damon wore for the evening. Tammi brought some costumes from a theater she works for. I have created a Webshots album with the pictures Tammi and I took. Go take a look at us crazy people.

Not the Messiah

We stood out. I typically avoid such situations. This was fun and the vodka didn’t hurt either. The one that looks like he’s drunk – he’s a goof. That’s Damon. My mother l-o-v-e-s him. Damon being Damon loves attention, is very charming and v-e-r-y friendly. But that’s how he endears himself to people and we love him the way he is. It’s never boring with Damon around. We also came up with (I should say Kevin came up with) a gesture to remind us of the evening. Most of you would be familiar with "jazz hands". This is also used as sign language for applause. Well, because we are a little twisted, we employed "crucifiction hands". I know, I know. Blame it on the alcohol.


This would be my hubby, who grew his beard out just for this weekend, and my BFF Chris. The guy cut off on the left is Damon. Chris got on a plane the next day with his daughter and is now in Hawaii playing beach bum. I send a raspberry in his general direction. He better take lots of cool pictures with that new Nikon of his.

What else…..

I think I will end with some brief comments…

Brett Favre is a drama queen – but I would love it if he played for the Vikings. I would like to be proud of them again. 20+ years of disappointment is hard to live with. Go Vikes! Kick Seattle’s ass this Friday. To the Hall of Fame selection committee - when the hell are you going to nominate Cris Carter? 8 Pro Bowl selections, 3 times All Pro, NFL's 1990 All-Decade Team, 1100 receptions, nearly 14000 receiving yards and 130 touchdowns isn't good enough? Shesh.

Paris Hilton – I don’t hate her anymore. Her “response” ad to McCain’s Obama Celebrity bash was hilarious!

McCain – I liked you in 2000. I could have voted for that McCain. Not so much anymore. Can we hear what you will do – a consistent message that doesn’t change for a week or so – instead of what Obama knows/doesn’t know/lies about/doesn’t have experience with? What happened to the Straight Talk Express?

Obama – specifics please. No more race baiting. Yes, the Republican smear campaign will do its worst. It’s what they do. I would hope that you would take the high road.

Clinton – I love you Bill and would vote for you again in a minute, but quit being such a whiny drama queen. “No one is ready to be President” my ass. Were you back when you took the oath? Way to go in supporting the party.

Democrats – what the hell? 7% approval rating isn’t enough to wake your asses up? You CAN’T blame it all on Bush and Republicans. Get a clue. We the People are fed up with your partisan crap and continuing to flush the country down the toilet. There have been so many incidents of corruption and illegal activity in this administration, it makes Nixon’s actions petty in retrospect. Also, I have a simple suggestion. Close the damn Enron loophole and take speculation out of the energy market. How many more hearings do you have to have, how many people have to tell you that this loophole can easily be closed and should be? Are you people deaf or just dumb?

China & the Olympics – The OCC made a huge mistake granting these summer games to China. Of course, since they own us we can’t protest too much. Bush has zero pull, and every request he has made has been denied. He wanted to go to an underground church on Sunday – nope. He wanted to give a speech a la Reagan at the Berlin wall – hell no. There were other examples, but these stood out to me. Bush thought he could give a speech in a public square – in China? Pushing for that positive legacy thing can be tough. We can’t get China’s support in Darfur. What on earth makes anyone think we can change how they treat their own people within their borders? Two words – Free Tibet!

Wow, didn’t realize I had that much of a rant in me tonight. I’ve typed almost 1500 words. That’s an essay. Good thing I’m not being graded. Am I?

I don’t know if I’ll get back to posting every day, but I won’t go almost a month without a reason. I missed this more than I thought.

I’m out of beverage and I need to load this.

Again – thanks to those that reached out to me and posted comments during my absence. As always, it was much appreciated and much welcomed. Looking forward to your comments in the future!

Take care and I’ll see you soon.