Category Archives: Yarn

Scrap Bag Rollup

I cut out a couple of aprons today (Janice, I haven’t forgotten) and pulled out the sewing machine for the first time in almost a quarter! Where does the time go?

You’ll see the Warrenville Zoolander modelling aprons later this week, but I didn’t use the Kenmore today for apron production. I cleaned its tiny parts with its tiny brush , threaded it up, and whipped up a roll for my crochet hooks. When I started “C & C” I had higher, more practical and more philosophical goals — bleach, fireflies, striped Swedish cupcake papers — but I’ve noticed that it’s leaning towards a fabric/paper/crafts blog. Bear with me for awhile: it’s just that folding and hooking and sewing is what I’ve been about while I’m trying to lose this cold.

I have crochet hooks stashed in three different spots (four, counting my father’s house,) and I’ve replicated sizes because I had no motherlode of aluminum in one place.  I’ve been reproached daily by a stack of Log Cabin pieced place mats I’d made in early December, thinking to give them to my father for Christmas. Har. They never got past the pieced tops before we left for Ottawa, but they were the right size and shape to turn into a hook roll.

So, with the important needlework done four months ago, it took about half an hour to produce this.









Two solid rectangles would of course work just as well, but the vertical “logs” of the piecing were good guides to sewing the slots for the hooks.










I sewed the ribbon into the seams, nice and tight. This silly thing, my welcome back to my sewing machine, would work as well or better for knitting needles, sketching pencils, watercolor brushes, pencil crayons or chopsticks. You, my cherished apron patrons, may recognize some of the scraps.




Filed under About a buck, Needlework, Yarn

Petunias Win

I’ve always thought petunias are a pathetic excuse for a flower — ubiquitous, obvious and scentless. During my childhood I could walk around the block and see no other bedding plant but petunias — they became a sort of real fake flower. When I started gardening I swore I wouldn’t give an inch of topsoil to a petunia, and I’ve kept that promise over decades, with a few slips, usually because a generous friend got carried away at the garden center.

I like to think of myself as a prole gardener — I don’t do “rooms” or white gardens or refuse to plant something that isn’t native to Illinois. I’m short on twee signage, and (sadly,) reflecting pools and water features. Zinnias, cosmos, nasturtiums, morning glories — I love those hardworking annuals! But petunias? I pass.

In fact I’ve  considered them cheap and cheerful in the snarky Brit pejorative meaning of the phrase: the Tangee lipstick, the  Jonathan Livingston Seagull , the Little Debbies of the garden.

I’ve mentioned here that I’m thrilled to be proved wrong about things I’ve disliked that give pleasure to millions of others. As of two days ago I’m a fan of the pusillanimous petunia, all because of the advances in petunia breeding. We’re no longer limited to blooms in Union Jack colors, with a few shades of yucky pink. (Honestly, how can a flower mess up pink? Petunias did, for ages.) Not all petunias are fuzzy anymore: flowers shouldn’t have  the botanical equivalent of hairy legs. (Yes, I loathe gloxinias.) Those mad botanists who work for the seed companies have bred two new classes of petunia, the Double and the Spreading, both retaining the heat and dryness loving qualities of the Classic P, with real prettiness.

It’s ironic that I’ve been a petunia snob, because it belongs to the botanical family Solanaceae whose other members include chile peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco. When we went to the Planter’s Palette, (our incredible local nursery) a few days ago to get some summer color I sure wasn’t there for petunias. On the other hand, I wasn’t going to blow Lou’s birthday present to me on one pricey perennial. I noticed a couple of huge tables from afar — delicate pinks, blues, mauves and whites, all cheerful in the 90 degree sun that was plastering my wet hair and tshirt to my epidermis. Yeah, you knew: Double Petunias, 50% off.

They come in big pots and they’ll trail from hanging planters or cover a two foot circle planted in the garden. I bought one each white, pale blue,deep pink and white. I’m so infatuated that I’m going to buy more. These lovelies won’t whine in the dog days, wilting and shriveling  — they’ll be happy with a pass from the watering can and light dead heading when I’m up to ten minutes of Midwestern heat and humidity. They’ll even survive a light early frost in October.

On this day of the World Cup Final: GOALLLLLLLLLLLL to Club Petunia, nil to silly old me.


Filed under Five bucks or fewer, Growing things, On the Street Where I Live, The Great Outdoors, Yarn

Fake Food, Site of the Day, and Amigurumi Banana Lucheros

I don’t know what the heck has happened to my right shoulder and my neck. I can’t turn right without screaming. I suspect it’s because I dragged an Ikea bag from the library over my shoulder with a twelve volume thirty  pound payload. It can’t be that I was propped up on my elbow in bed last night tackling the new Elizabeth George, because I’ve been propping and reading in bed since I was seven.

The only checkbox I managed today was Call Patty. Yeow, it hurts.

But even as my shoulder screamed as I leaned over my laptop, I did my minimal  internet strolling. I read the New York Times. I checked in at , my daughter’s tennis site And Rachel’s And Dean’s


And my own secret guilty pleasure: This is a girly site born of the Gawker/Gizmondo Empire, and I think it’s fresh, funny and smart. Their “Midweek Madness” feature, where they read and evaluate the gossip mags is must read hilarity.

Thanks to Jezebel I found this amazing amigurumi pix of crocheted bananas turned Mexican wrestlers. I am in freaking awe.

It’s fake food, it’s funny, it’s irony, it’s felt, it’s crochet and it’s Mexican wrestling. I am not worthy.

So I’m gonna have a glass of wine and try to remember if it’s ice or a heat pad.





Filed under About a buck, Art, HeeHee, How Cool is That?, Site of the Day, Yarn

Guerrilla Needlecraft: The Secret Life of an Antenna Tagger

Late at night, after my neighbor’s lights are out, I troll the streets armed only with a handful of fabric or crocheted yarn looking for a likely vehicle —  one that still has a radio antenna. I (carefully)slip one of my exclusive, hand-wrought, goofy sleeves over the aerial and run home giggling like a loon.

My name is Flowerbomba and I’m a suburban antenna tagger. (All us fabric guerillas use an alias.)

What in Sam Hill has come over me? Why is a respectable law-abiding woman spending time making objects like this and slipping them on unknown cars and SUVs while ‘Villians are drifting off to whatever late night show peeps are watching these days?

Well, it’s cheap. Like most knitters, crocheters and seamstresses, I have a boatload of weird ends of yarn, fabric scraps in acreage sufficient to mop up a major environmental disaster, stray buttons and a dozen fabric origami flowers and yoyos crowding the sewing basket.

It keeps me cheerful, and my hands always itch for a small, brainless, soothing project to keep them busy, like crocheting a few rows with fuzzy white yarn. and then hand sewing them into a tube. Um, and then decorating it with found trims.

I had a design breakthrough today! Check out the shocking pink dealio with little yoyos that’ll flutter in the wind:

Today’s other only decorated sleeve is the pink floral topped by a Japanese fabric flower and a button. I’ll dress up a couple of the others and leave the rest plain — they’ll slip into my purse for daylight wrapping, at the library parking lot perhaps, or the Police Station. I did see one minivan pull out of the grocery store with my calico tag still in place.

(Note: Please don’t call them Car Condoms — grrrrr! — or comment on their phallic shape. If antennas were pyramidal,the covers would be too. )

Then there’s the HeeHee Rush Factor — it’s the same adrenaline high of soaping someone’s windows or slapping a Kick Me sign on a fellow third-grader’s back with none of the malevolence or meanness. For the first time in my life I understand the motives of those middle-class arty teens with spray paint.

I’m a little afraid of what form of self-expression I’ll take up next. I wish I were young enough to find a road work job that would pay huge overtime and root out any of my mental moonbeams from sheer fatigue. Until then, remember my nom do guerre: that’s Flowerbomba, Homies!


Filed under Art, Free, HeeHee, On the Street Where I Live, Yarn

Dover Books

I can’t remember when I first discovered Dover Books, but it was way back when they published mainly facsimile editions of  books whose copyright had lapsed. That’s still true, but it’s just one part of the dazzling Dover catalogue. I’m writing this from my living room — one of five rooms with bookshelves — and lessee… This is what I gathered:

  1. 79 Decorative Alphabets for Designers and Craftspeople
  2. Italian Drawings from the 15th to the 19th Century
  3. Filet Crochet
  4. Drawings of Mucha
  5. Fun Faces — 15 Punch Out Masks
  6. 24 Outline Display Fonts  CD ROM and Book
  7. Alexander Scriabin:The Complete Preludes and Etudes for Pianoforte Solo
  8. Franz Liszt: Complete Hungarian Rhapsodies for Solo Piano.( Yes, we have a piano.)
  9. Full-Color Celtic Decorative Letters CD-ROM and book.
  10. Favorite Songs of the Nineties (The “After the Ball” “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” 90s)
  11. My Ladye Nevells Booke of Virginal Music — William Byrd
  12. Domenico Scarlatti:  Great Keyboard Sonatas Series II
  13. Antique French Jumping Jacks: 11 Easy to Assemble Toys That Move

My sister Julia and my daughter Honor in 1990, wearing those cool cardboard punch-out Victorian masks, from a book I can’t find any more.

Here’s the wiki on Dover:

Jeez, where to start? Well, maybe with the catalog: What a wonderworld! I had no idea of the scope of the science writing. I can get a copy of “The Principle of Relativity” for 6.97? Linus Pauling’s “General Chemistry” for 9.98? “Catastrophe Theory for Scientists and Engineers” — 26.95 . If I were castaway on a desert island with only this book to read, I guess I’d give it a stab — may the sailing gods help me: “The Finite Element Method:Linear Static and Dynamic Finite Element Analysis.”

I’ll leave those and the hundreds of other science titles to those who love or need them. You know my frippery ways: check out the paper dolls!

  1. Chanel
  2. Classic TV Moms: Peg Bundy, Laura Petrie ,Claire Huxtable,, June Cleaver,Carol Brady.
  3. The Obama Family (and every other First Family
  4. The Dalai  Lama and Family (!)
  5. Marie Antoinette
  6. — and all the rest, from Country Stars through Gothic costume

Harry Houdini will teach me magic. Boris Spassky will teach me chess. I don’t own a copy of “Leaves of Grass,” but for three bucks I can –a facsimile of the 1855 edition, — through the Thrift Line. Here’s my wish list after fifteen minutes of browsing: “Rufus Estes’ “Good Eats”The First African-American Cookbook,” “The Art of Perfume CD-ROM and Book,” “The First Jewish-American Cookbook,” “Write it Right:a Little Blacklist of Literary Faults,” by Ambrose Bierce.

Dear old Dover!


Filed under Art, How Cool is That?, Library Card, Music, Ten bucks or fewer, Yarn

Food: Fast, Fake and Fuzzy/C & C Giveaway!

Let’s say three of the things you live for are curling, Kierkegaard and carpentry. Then let’s imagine you found an activity that pulled all three together in one cheap, cheerful place. Oh frabjous day!

I love Japanese culture, fake food and the fun and consolation of not-very-challenging crochet projects. If you glance at the header you’ll see how they all came together in that enchanting, kinda useless Japanese crochet category called amigarumi.

The Japanese rock the fake food world! Think of those plastic replicas of sashimi and noodles in the windows of Japanese restaurants — I think they’re (very) minor works of art, and they’re pricey. Think about those wind-up sushi toys: Wacko Jacko’s in LA has a great collection and I’m kicking myself that I gave away a suitcase full when I got home. Origami has a small but growing culinary division, and I hope to share a folded meal with you when I master that tricky double-dip ice cream cone. The Japanese are so good at this stuff they can make real food look like fake food — think of those molds that can transform a hard boiled egg into a wee race car or bunny.

My grandmother Frances Henrietta Moss McArthur , apart from filing a column with “The London Free Press,” running the distaff side of a farm, and playing the organ at church, was a notable needlewoman. She bought me a sampler from the five and dime in Glencoe Ontario when I was six and initiated me into the sisterhood of Lazy Daisies and French Knots. When I was nine, she lent me a crochet hook and the golf ball-sized remnant of a ball of wool and had me churning out granny squares for an afghan in progress. Embroidery and crochet remain my favorite forms of handwork and I regret that she died before I could thank her adequately. If she’s keeping up with my blog while superintending choir practice in heaven, thanks Gammy!

Amigarumi is an offspring off the calculatedly cute Japanese culture of kawaii — think Hello Kitty. If you remember my original header, those perky animals are amigarumi’s typical subject matter, and I’ve hooked out a small zoo in the last couple of years. But when food subjects began to make an appearance at crochet wbesites I put off making mates for my monkeys and started to whip up cupcakes and bacon and eggs. I figure that by this time next year I’ll have run though a diner menu, meatloaf sandwiches and all.

GIVEAWAY! If you place a comment here about an activity that combines curling, Kierkegaard and carpentry, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win one of Magz Rags Custom Aprons. I’ll pull the winner on March 4th,

As Soren said:” Boredom is the root of all evil .”


Filed under About a buck, Collections, Food, Giveaway, Needlework, Yarn