That’s me.  Duh. 

If you happen to be a crafter and here for all things crafty and you happen  to take a peek at the post below this one and you happen to wonder why it has absolutely nothing to do with any kind of crafty-stuff, then you happen  to be a very astute observer because I  happen to be an idiot.  Officially.

I recently started writing again, after a really long hiatus (to get an idea of why feel free to check out this post about it) and began my re-entry into bloggyland with my avoiding-midlife-crisis-by-running-because-why-not-do-something-that’s-completely-impossible blog. 

Things were rolling along quite well.  In fact, one of my posts actually got onto WordPress’s Freshly Pressed front page feature.  Very exciting.  But as for the accidentally post to the wrong blog…just me taking a trip to Dum-Dum-Ville. 

And so it was that a couple nights ago, I pushed that wonderful “Publish” button and several days later discovered that I’d posted the prose to The Wrong Blog.  Ack!

Anyway, please forgive me the non-crafting references on this blog.  I know you come here for homemade happiness.  Didn’t mean to disappoint.

And look forward to some New Stuff coming on this blog.  Stuff actually relevant to What the Craft?!  I’ve got some pretty neat stuff to share.  Can’t wait.

So last Friday, I announced to the known universe that I was going to try Something New on Monday.  And I wrote about the Before-Photos I took in preparation for it.  Yes, I know today is Tuesday and I haven’t provided The Report yet.  But bear with me.  I have My Reasons.

Frankly, I partially wanted to make sure the New Thing didn’t kill me before I started telling everybody about it here.  And here’s what happened.

I did try the “New Thing” on Monday.  And it was pretty hard.  Some of it had me muttering not-so-nice-words at that little pixie on the TV.  But I did survive it, and it certainly wasn’t as hard as a 26.2 mile marathon.  Or a 30 mile ultra.  Or even that crazy race I did a couple weeks ago

And it sure didn’t take as long. 

Seriously–it was a fanny-kicker.  But as a distance runner, used to spending hours on my training each day, so based on the short time it took to complete it, it almost felt like I was cheating.  

Enter:  Tuesday.  On Tuesday, I had a wee bit of a problem springing staggering out of bed.  I did not feel like the exercise program from the day before was cheating.  In fact, what I really felt was, well, pain. 

But this pain was a hurts-so-good, kinda pain.  The kind where you know you’ve really had a good workout. 

For me, the pain was a reminder that there were muscles in certain parts of my body that I’d really not thought much about.  Certain areas of my legs, rear end, upper back, and armpit area.  Yes, armpit area.  Turns out there’s a lot of muscle groups that kind of powpow there to accomplish of lifting your arm at your shoulder joint.  Areas that you really don’t think about unless they are sprained, broken or otherwise injured. 

So why am I putting myself through this? 

Well, because in almost a year and a half of running, I’ve become much healthier internally, but STILL have had a heck of a time shedding the weight.  The diet and type of exercise of a distance runner are WAY different from the traditional population, so what works for lots of folks doesn’t necessarily work for us. 

And here’s the difference between this New Thing and the bazillion other New Things out there, at least for me:

I was introduced to this program by distance runners.  My kind of people.  People who have very, VERY, similar stories to my own.  (Sometimes scary similar.) 

And this New Thing actually WORKED for them.  Not just in a little way, but more in a:

“I went from a size 12/14 to a size 6 in 90 days without starving myself or being some kind of diet freak”

kind of way. 

Now I’d seen moronic claims about this stuff before.  Everybody has.  But this was different, because I actually KNOW the Human Being that made this happen for herself.  In fact, I know a couple gals who’ve made this happen for themselves.

So I’ve decided, I will try this New Thing.  I will do what these ladies have done for themselves.  It can happen for me too! 

I have NOT stopped running or training for races.  But I am incorporating the New Thing into my current training regimen. 

And at this rate, I should start the new year, minus the weight-and-body-mass equivalent of a toddler attached to my legs and hind end. 

Which would be a Very Good Thing. 

[And just WHAT is the New Thing of which I write?  Well, I’ll give you the details tomorrow.  And I’ll keep posting my progress (and ongoing commentary) on this blog until I reach my goals. 

But I’ll spare you the Before Photos.

Okay, so this is probably the FUNNIEST COMMERCIAL I have ever seen.  I think the one on TV actually was a little longer than this, but you’ll definitely get the idea!

If you’re a knitter, you’ll be crying with laughter in 16 seconds…

Warning:  knitters go to the potty BEFORE you click the link:

Probably the Funniest Commercial I Have Ever Seen

HA HA HA HA

Photo Credit

While knitting N’s socks, I had a breakthrough in my continental knitting style

May Dishcloth by allie1123488.

(not my hands, photo credit here)

When I learned to knit, I learned the traditional (American) way, holding the yarn in my right hand.  Then, while taking a sock class with Kari, I met a couple really neat knitters who were SO FAST while making their socks.  Watching them closely, I saw they were holding the yarn with their left hand.  Continental knitting, one of these amazing women explained to me, as her hands handled that yarn like Dash from the Incredibles, zooming through her sock project at warp speed.

(photo credit)

So the week between classes, I determined to learn continental (translation:  speed knitting, for us Type-A knitters).  I got onto knittinghelp.com, and slowly learned this backwards-feeling method.  I would have quit for sure if it had just been a theory, because it felt so awkward, but I had seen with my own eyes the speed when it was done right.

Well, I did manage to teach myself to knit continentally, but (silly me) I did it on the second sock of that project.  As a result, I had one normal-ish sock and one very-loosey-goosey-new-methodly-knitted sock.  Normally, I am a very tight knitter.  (Result of my type-A personality, no doubt).  But this continental method was So Loose.  After that project I sized-down my needles to get the right guage.

Now, if you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that by this point, I’d made two pairs of socks that Just Are Not The Same Size.  The first pair was mismatched because I was getting used to those blasted giant toothpick dpn’s and it was my first lesson in Tension.  The second mismatched pair was the intro to continental knitting, which was made during my sock class with Kari, who chronicled her journey with the Stupid Sock from that class through a series of hilarious posts. 

And now there’s N’s latest pair of socks.  Mismatched Pair Number 3.

N's socks looking not quite even

N's socks looking not quite even

The photo (mercifully) doesn’t show just quite how mismatched these socks are… 

See, what happened is somewhere near the end of the first sock, I got my groove regarding continental knitting.  Seriously, it FINALLY became easy and all of a sudden, there was my guage again, just like with the American knitting method.  How refreshing to be all (up)tight again. 

The problem, of course, is that the first sock was almost finished and the second sock was made with an entirely different guage.  I toyed with the idea of ripping that first sock out and doing it over again, but even I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  N is still pretty happy, and I figure I can always semi-felt the suckers if they get pulled too far out of shape. 

But the problem with My Continental Groove does cut a little deeper.  See it affects…The Husband.  The Husband’s Sweater.  I started this sweater months ago and set it aside because frankly, it just got to be So Boring.  This was all fine, until I got my groove.  Now, I’m going to get to finish this sweater while trying to ungroove my groove.  I know I could just change needle sizes, but what fun would that be really?

I’ll either figure it out or else poor, poor Husband will get a nice big sweater with little-bitty sleeves.  Either way, I’m sure he’ll love it.  🙂

On another one of my blogs, I’ve posted a poll about my Very Bad Cat and her antics.  Readers are deciding which of these antics was worst. 

One of them involves uncerimoniously defacing my knitting bag while it was full of N’s Yummy New socks, before they were completely finished. 

Oh no, she didn’t!

Oh yes, sadly, she did.

Go vote right here–don’t let our craftiness be underrepresented!

[EDIT:  Some of you know my technological issues that I’ve had with my camera.  Please ignore the dates on these photos.  They’re just not right.  Some day I may figure out how to get the date-thingy to stay correct, but this is not my day!]

N’s socks are at last completed!  You may recall, I was having some trouble getting started with this pair of happy feet, but inspired by Shanda the diplady, these cute little tootsies were made.

 

N modeling her new socks

N modeling her new socks

I’d been having trouble with my Online Supersocke yarn (so I thought).  It kept splitting and just being generally naughty.  Well, Shanda was using size 1’s so I started over with size 1’s and what do you know, things started sailing along, once I got them going. 

Curious, I wanted to figure out what was wrong with the first try on size 3’s.  Lo and behold, there was a teensy tiny nick in the cord of my size 3 addi turbo lace needle.  So tiny.  I tried to take a photo to show you how tiny, but it wouldn’t turn out even on the close-up, close-up setting.  The document setting on my camera caught it though, Here’s the tiny nick, looking deceptively like a little harmless line in the cord:

 

Teensy nasty nick in the cord

Teensy nasty nick in the cord

Who knew that such a tiny nick could make such a big nasty mess.  Once I started using nick-free circulars, it was a much, much more enjoyable knitting experience, both for me and for all those around me who had been privileged to hear me muttered and grumbling with the nicky needles.

Here are a few more photos of the little masterpieces:

Getting there...

Getting there...

All done.  Happy feet!

All done. Happy feet!

Finished socks--not quite even, but pretty nonetheless!

Finished socks--not quite even, but pretty nonetheless!

Happy happy happy feet. 

Cue big, dramatic sigh from Husband, who wonders out loud when he will EVER get a hand-knit item completed for himself…

handmade-doll

(photo credit)

With the help of you and people like you, “Save Small Business from the CPSIA” was voted one of top ten ideas for change by Change.org.  As I understand it, these top ten ideas will be presented to president-elect Obama in an effort to encourage him to influence change in this over-reaching law that could effectively put an end to crafting and reselling handmade items for children. 

Some cool numbers:

  • This Cause was ranked in the top ten out of 7,847 ideas.  (Only the top ten get presented formally to the President).
  • There were 12,280 votes in the second round of voting by people out there just like you and me.  (Don’t ask me what happened in the first round, I came late to this party.  That’s a change.org question.)
  • There are currently 474 endorsements by nonprofits and bloggers, including me and many of my readers.  (Woo Hoo, Go us!)

This work is far from over.  The law is already on the books and set to go into effect on February 10th.  The key here is to mobilize to effect change from this point forward. 

Text from the change.org website informs us:

Over the next week we will be working with nonprofit sponsors for each idea, including 1Sky, Healthcare-NOW!, and The Peace Alliance, to craft national campaigns around each idea. In the meantime, we have opened discussion for how to most effectively turn each idea into a successful national campaign, and would love your suggestions.

There’s an area where you can make suggestions and give input regarding how/why handcrafted items should be an exception to the CSPIA’s prohibitively burdensome testing criteria.  If you’ve got a strong opinion about this whatsoever, I urge you to get involved, whether in this forum or another. 

We crafters and/or resellers are, in general, a pretty laid-back bunch of folks.  Usually, that kind of approach works just fine, thank you very much.  But please consider how this law would effect your ability and the ability of other crafters to make and distribute beautiful handmade items for children.  There is real (negative) impacton us with this legislation.  It’s likely that well-meaning elected officials didn’t consider how their vote for this messy law would effect people like you and me.  It’s not too late to let them know now.  Don’t wait.  Something can be done about this.

For more information on the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, also known as HR 4040, click on the following links.  And thanks!

https://shannonsays.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/sew-important-defend-your-ability-to-craft-for-kids/

http://www.change.org/ideas/view/save_handmade_toys_from_the_cpsia

Text of the actual Act: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpsia.pdf

http://coolmompicks.com/savehandmade/

http://savekidsresale.squarespace.com/

A similar post tailored to resellers will be posted on one of my other blogs, What Matters Most, at http://matteringmost.wordpress.com/.

[EDIT:  Please note the first comment from Jon below, which gives GREAT information and an important link to follow regarding (different site, folks!) www.change.gov, which is another site you’ll want to explore, along with explanatory links.  Let’s stick together and get some stuff accomplished here!]

I’ve entered the world of Pattern Improvisation. 

My friend Kari is amazing.  She can improvise almost any pattern.  And she has a great attitude about it:

Don’t have that kind of yarn?  Who cares?!  This is pretty–let’s try it.

Only seem to find a different size needle?  No big deal, use it!   It’ll all work out. 

Did that pretty green hat end up too big? 

The Green "Hat"
The Green “Hat”

No problem, let’s just make it into–oh yeah–a hula skirt for the husband.  Yes!  That would work just fine. 

Counting stitches?  Excuse me what did you say?  Counting?  Huh?  Hmmm.  HA HA HA HA!  You were joking weren’t you?  Where’s the fun in that?  Ooh look, there’s something shiny over there…

She’s one of those knitters–those carefree knitters–happy happy happy.  (And incidentally, I think she’s awesome, even as I tease her!)

Happy Kari
Happy Kari

Now, me on the other hand, I’m a Type-A, by-the-book, follow the pattern, rip-it-out-if-you-made-a-mistake-ten-inches-ago (I’ll know that mistake is there!), tight-gripped, jaw-clenched, do-the-math, get it right, perfectionist, kind of knitter. 

Let’s just say, we’ve balanced each other out…

So Kari, bless her widdle heart, will be thinking, well how nice for you, Shannon, that you’re finally relaxing a bit with this knitting adventure. 

But to me, improvising is mucho stressful.  Did I say Mucho? 

It all started when I lost , misplaced, surely my husband is somehow to blame for the fact that this book is not where I remember it–my World’s Greatest Sock Book.  I love this book by Ann Budd.

getting-started-knitting-socks

I learned to knit socks using this book and every time a sock pattern seems kinda squirrely, this is my go-to book of help. 

So when I started knitting N’s socks on the magic loop, you know, the ones I started five times, I figured I could get details I needed from my Awesome Sock Book.  I needed the help because I was using different yarn and size needles than the pattern called for (very rare and scary for me, but I am under the mandate of No More Yarn!  So I am using what I have).  Now the Awesome Book doesn’t really help with circular knitting, but it’s great about explaining the heel flap and heel turn very specifically.  I figured I could figure out the ribbing, but once it came to that heel turn, I’d need a bit of a primer. 

So, fearlessly knitting away, I work on my little sock, getting ready to head into the flap and the infamous heel turn and–wouldn’t you know–I couldn’t find that stinking–I mean awesome–book ANYWHERE.

Complicate this with the fact that we had to head out of town, so I had no Awesome Book, no internet access to knittinghelp.com, no lifeline to call.  All I had is the pattern with the Way Wrong Information, and some folded patterns in the bottom of my knitting bag. 

Just before despair set in (if I didn’t figure this thing out I was going to be sitting for HOURS in a hospital waiting room with NO KNITTING–subject of another post), I got Determined not to let that stinking sock beat me! 

So I MacGiver’d parts of several patterns together and with my own considerably puny expertise, managed to turn that heel without an Actual Pattern or Actual Instructions!  I do have photos, but my camera has pooped out, presumably due to sympathy-stress from my Improvisation Ordeal, so the photos will have to wait until we’re both recharged.

But still–WOO HOO!  Very exciting to have crossed over into the world of Improvisation Knitting.  Not necessarily relaxing and enjoyable the way Kari would do it–but exciting to rise to the challenge nonetheless. 

Confession:  I’m relieved to be back to the pattern now, however.  Enjoying myself much more, and really looking forward to that Kitchener stitch at the end.  (I have issues.  I know.)

 

 

 

 

 

I love making socks.  But with all the hassle-bassle-rassle-snassle we’ve been going through lately, I hadn’t had a chance to start a new project. 

Well, the hassle isn’t over, but I decided to go for it and try some socks for N in the Online Supersocke yarn that she had picked out ages ago. 

Tried with size 1’s.  Didn’t look right.  Riiiippp.  Frog.  (Ribbit.)

Tried with size 3’s.  Too big.  Too weird looking.  Riiiiippp.  Frog.  (Ribbit, ribbit.)

Looked for size 2’s.  Grrrr.  Nope.  No size 2’s.  While that might at some point merit an Excuse To Go To My LYS at some point in the future, it wasn’t helping me right then. 

Then I stumbled upon dipladyknits, and it appears Shanda was not having the splitting, nasty experience with her Very Same Yarn.   She was great about responding to my comments to her post, and inspired by Shanda the diplady, I decided to go back to the size 1’s. 

After a couple more false starts (don’t you hate getting those stitches twisted or dropping stitches really early on), I finally started zipping along, and was in The Zone.

So here it is–(Take 5) the beginning of N’s sock.  On size 1 addi turbo lace 34″ cable–magic loop method. 

 ns-sock-leg-almost-done

I do love the magic loop–so easy peasy, never dropping those stinking giant toothpicks (a.k.a. double pointed needles) or knitting onto the wrong needle and having to tink (knit backwards one stitch at a time) back the mangled mess to get it back on the right needle! 

And it does fit N’s foot (well, leg), so all is well for now.

More pics later as the masterpiece progresses.

This little bear and what he stands for is VERY important to anyone who values making handmade items, or even giving or selling vintage or resale items to children:

Save Handmade Children's Items

Save Handmade Children's Items

Link to Really Important Information About the Concerns Regarding the New Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act

I first heard of this pending legislation today and, let me tell you, I’m very concerned.  Kudos to Kari for finding this button and the site that explains in layman’s terms the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, or HR4040, which is the cause of serious concern. 

This act, which takes effect on February 10, 2009, places tremendously prohibitive and punitive requirements on sellers and resellers of children’s goods, including, but not limited to handmade items.   In addition to toys, clothing, furniture and books may also be effected. 

In the words of the email I received today:

HR4040 is a retroactive rule mandating that all items sold for use by children under 12 must be tested by an independent party for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable.
 

All untested items, regardless of lead content, are to be declared “banned hazardous products.” The CPSC has already determined the law applies to every child’s item on shelves, not just to items made beginning Feb. 10.
 

The regulations could force thousands of businesses; especially smaller ones that cannot afford the cost of lead testing; to throw away tons upon tons of children’s clothing, books, toys, furniture and other children’s items and even force them to close their doors. All of these items ending up where; landfills!

The ban of these items appears to extend beyond the retailer and could be construed to include esty.com shops, ebay sales, resale shops, flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, pregnancy assistance clinics, hospitals, and gifts. 

This is appalling on its face, of course, but as we consider the dire predictions our president-elect made about our economy today, thift store, resale and garage sale shopping, in addition to making and using or gifting children’s items, could be the only way that many “ordinary” families (like ours) are able to survive this challenging economic season for our country.

More from the same email regarding the penalty phase of this legislation:

However, the HR404 has taken measures to such extremities that its effects may be more horrendous than its “good intentions”.  Estimates testing for each clothing article can run between $300 and $1,500. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it may consider exempting clothing and toys made from natural materials such as wool or wood, but paint and dyes on the products are still required to be tested.  But seriously, what and how many kids’ articles are made of 100% wool or wood?  What kind of kid is going to wear a super-itchy 100% wool sweater?  Due to such costly testing, shops that sell used books may be forced to close their doors.  Second-hand, consignment , and thrift stores may be forced to close their doors.  Folks with home and on-line businesses that make specialty kids products may have to close down.  The act’s broad wording could extend to children’s items sold on eBay, Craig’s List, Amazon and even garage sales; also sources of income for many families.  February 10th, 2009 will be “National Bankruptcy” day.
 
 
 
 

 

This is a very, very serious situation for crafters and families of young children alike.  The folks at this link  give some GREAT action steps that you can take to make a difference.  

In addition to giving resources for contacting your representatives, they also encourage us to “vote for amending the law on Change.org, digg style:If it makes the top ten proposals, it will be presented to President Obama in January!” I urge you to click through and do you 60-second part to help ensure that this abysmal and harmful piece of legislation is NOT signed into law. 

Here is a link to the actual legislation.  It is 62-pages and I must disclose that I did not read every bit of it before passing this information along.  I will be reading it thoroughly and if after doing so, I believe that anything I’ve written here is in error, I will update with a correction immediately. 

But for now, please act quickly.  Time is of the essence if you want to maintain your rights to craft for kids, resell your rocking horse, or even donate that lightly-used coat to a needy child who would otherwise freeze after February 10th.

Note:  The majority of the content of this blog post also can be found at my blog, What Matters Most.  Normally, I do not duplicate posts between blogs, but I considered this topic so vastly important to both the distinct and different readership, that I thought it merited appearing in both places.  Thanks for your understanding.
EDIT:  The Consumer Products Safety Commission has a link on their website that gives some clarification as to the intention and enforcement of the CPSIA.  The key, I think, especially important if you make a living selling crafts or resale items, would be to look to the actual language of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.  If there was ever a question of interpretation, the Act would be looked to first.  Be informed of the whole picture–especially if this is part of the way you feed your family.
And Melissa, thanks so much for the update and the link!  🙂
And a link to an LA Times article discussing HR4040  (thanks Ann)–it seems there may be improvements for resellers, but I still can’t see how those who handcraft children’s items are protected with these revisions/clarifications.  I’m could be missing something.  Or it could just be that the resellers are screaming louder about the effects of this than the crafters.  Stay informed! 

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