Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grandma's Legacy

I guess I was about seven when my grandma taught me to crochet. She was my primary caregiver, and she crocheted voraciously. The crocheting strengthened her hand-eye coordination after her stroke. It also eased the pain in her arthritic fingers. I was fascinated by the dancing of her crochet hook and the beautiful fabric she created out of simple yarn. I begged her to teach me. She was very patient and kind, as she was whenever I asked her to teach me something. We had our differences and frequently fought like cats and dogs, but she was a gracious and skilled teacher.

Grandma made afghans and pillows, lap robes and goofy 1970's toilet paper covers. She crocheted these silly chickens that fit over the plastic eggs that L'eggs pantyhose used to come in. She made countless lap robes that she donated to "old folks' homes" (she was the same age as the majority of these "old folks"!). She made at least one special item for each of her nine grandchildren.

Through the many moves of my adult life, my beautiful round pillow with the braided chains in variegated pink, blue, and white yarn got misplaced. I consoled myself in the knowledge that I didn't need the THING that Grandma made because she gave me a more precious gift in the SKILL to make my own things.

And then my mom did something miraculous. She pulled from her sewing room an afghan that Grandma had crocheted in the 80's. It was one of her "Indian Pattern" afghans, worked in rows and rows of single crochet, every ninth stitch a double crochet into the row beneath. Then in the next row you start your nine count a stitch earlier, so you end up with a diagonal line pattern throughout.

Grandma made this particular afghan with scrap yarn from her myriad other projects. It's very Joseph's Coat of Many Colors! It's also very cozy, and I love it! Mom gave it to me because she thought it would look fabulous on my red couch. It does.
For this picture, I covered the couch in the afghan to show off the array of colors Grandma combined. I also put the pillows I made on either end to make it more artistic and meaningful. Roxie accessorized the photo with herself, because she has to get her paws on everything I do!

The bonus miracle here is that I have a ton -- A TON!! -- of scrap yarn and had been thinking about how I wished I had this very pattern to put that yarn to work. And here comes the afghan, out of Mom's sewing room and into my arms!

So that's the news for now. Don't forget the Stitch 'n' Bitch at RPH tonight! 7:00! Bring your friends! And as always, til next time, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn! XOXOXO

Monday, October 21, 2013

All You Need is Love

Thanks to a lot of love and support from a lot of people dear to me, I survived another October 20th. I lost Michael Richard Schultze, the first man who ever loved me right, on October 20, 2010. I lost my father on October 20, 2011. Last October 20, I stayed in my pajamas all day, waiting for the next crisis to befall me.

This year, I approached October 20 with a new attitude. I girded myself with weeks of journaling, meditation, prayer, and daily trips to the beach. I had a very cathartic counseling session ten days ago. I made sure my Habibi was coming over to distract me on the 20th. And he did distract me -- he sat on my sofa with my head in his lap, stroking my hair and saying really funny things, for two hours. I really love this man.

I also made a list of everything I feel guilty about with regard to my relationships with Michael and with my father -- all this unnecessary baggage I've been carrying around. Things like, I was impatient when Michael told a story. He liked to paint a picture when he told a story. I just wanted a snapshot. And now I regret that.

So anyway, I made this list. And then I burned the list -- safely, in a glass bowl, in the back yard. And then I took those ashes and scattered them at the lighthouse pier on Pratt Avenue beach -- the same place I scattered Michael's ashes in the spring of 2011. And it felt really cleansing; really freeing. Because I don't need that guilt anymore. I need to celebrate the lives -- no longer mourn the deaths -- of these two men who were so integral in shaping the woman that I have become.

I still love them both dearly, and I think of them every day, but with the release of that outdated guilt, I can think of them with a smile on my face.

So that's the news for now. I'm dressing at the opera tonight, but I'm pretty sure Emily will be stitching at Grace & Leavitt Tavern at 7. If not, her adorable and entertaining husband Matt will be behind the bar, so you can just hang with him! I'll be back at RPH on Wednesday night. Until Wednesday, as always, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn! XOXOXO

Friday, October 18, 2013

October Blah!

It's cold. It's overcast. My sinuses are very angry. It's going to get colder. The forecast calls for partly to mostly cloudy til NEXT FRIDAY!! What is a person to do?

I have some ideas to ease your grey October funk. Here they are, in no particular order.

Cook something comforting. Here's my new favorite quick comfort food recipe:

Sausage with White Beans and Tarragon

Serves 4| Hands-On Time: | Total Time:



  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the carrots, onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the beans and wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Fold in the sliced sausage and tarragon.
 Baking something could work too. I'm thinking of trying Ricki Carroll's Whey Bread recipe from her book Home Cheese Making. I've got almost two gallons of whey in the freezer from making my first two batches of cheese at home. Which reminds me, I still owe homemade cheese to all of my friends who helped me move (except Pastor John -- he hates cheese!). Cheese making could probably cheer one up too!

 Go see a play! Support local theatres! Some of my favorites are Lifeline, Corn Productions, and The Hypocrites. See what they've got going on.

Take a class! The Old Town School of Folk Music has a new session starting at the end of October. I'm jonesing to get back to Belly Dancing Class!!
It also helps to wear bright, happy colors. I find it very difficult to be mopey when I'm wearing pink, for instance! I've been seeing a lot of fuchsia and orange together, which is a ridiculously happy combination! 
Or pick up some yarn! Knit! Crochet! This very night, Sifu has an event called Sci-Fiber Fridays. The people gather together to watch a Science Fiction movie and stitch. It's a great time! And when I went, we all chipped in and got pizza!!
And of course Emily will be crocheting at Grace & Leavitt Tavern Monday at 7:00 pm (I'm working at the opera) and I'll be back at R Public House on Wednesday at 7:00. So that's about all the news for now. Now go and put on a brightly-colored sweater, bake me something, and bring it to a Stitch 'n' Bitch near you!! Until Monday, my darlings, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn. XOXOXO

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Inspiration Everywhere

Last night I was unwinding in front of the TV. The WE channel was airing many, many episodes of "Will & Grace" all in a row --perfect!

I was partaking of the episode where Karen sets Will up on a date with her cousin, Barry. In this episode, Grace is unpacking in Leo's apartment. Rosanna Arquette plays Grace's neighbor. She comes in wearing a fabulous crocheted hat. I stopped paying attention to the lighthearted comedy and focused solely on the construction of the hat. I think I figured it out. I'm going to start experimenting with it later in the week.

This is not the first time inspiration has struck in an unexpected place. I am not a stranger to taking photos of people's interesting scarves or hats as they sit in front of me on the El. I've never been caught -- thanks be to God! But you can't let creative awesomeness just pass you by!

In other news, I will not be at R Public House for Stitch 'n' Bitch tonight, but I'm pretty sure some other awesome crafters will be there. So there is no reason not to carry on without me! And check back here on Friday -- I'm rocking a three-post week nowadays! As always, friends, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn. XOXOXO

Monday, October 14, 2013

New, Amazing Stitch 'n' Bitch!!

If you know me at all, you know that three of my favorite things are yarn, adult beverages, and circus performers. Have you any idea how blissfully happy I am on the somewhat rare occasions when I can combine all of these things in one convenient location?? Really, expansively, blissfully happy!! Well, this combination is happening tonight, at the Grace & Leavitt Tavern, 2157 W. Grace, in Chicago, at 7:00 pm! You see, my good friend Matt Roben, who is a circus performer, tends bar at Grace & Leavitt Tavern. His circus performer buddies tend to socialize there on Mondays, thus the circus performing and adult beverages.

Matt's wife, my good friend Emily Roben, is a brilliant crocheter and my partner in crime to the majority of the yarn events I attend, thus the yarn.

 Emily made that adorable necklace she's wearing in the picture, by the way.

In a Facebook post last Monday, Emily said that if you weren't at Grace & Leavitt Tavern, you couldn't possibly be having as much fun as she was having. Subsequent to that post, Emily and I decided that Grace & Leavitt Tavern needed a Monday night Stitch 'n' Bitch. And a future legend was born! So please grab your yarn bag, your embroidery hoop, your sketchpad, your juggling balls, your spinning plates -- whatever you've got -- and join us for the Very First Ever Grace & Leavitt Tavern Monday Night Stitch 'n' Bitch!!

And join the gang on Wednesday at 7:00 at R Public House, 1508 W. Jarvis, for our Underground Stitch 'n' Bitch!

And look for tomorrow's launch of my new blog, Craft-Tacular Art Spectacle.

And I Crochet in Bars will now be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

That's the news for now. Til next time, as always, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!! XOXOXO

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Craft-tacular Art Spectacle

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it is my pleasure and thrill to announce to you the First Annual Craft-tacular Art Spectacle, a holiday craft bazaar, which will take place at the Loyola Park Field House in Rogers Park on Saturday, November 30th, from noon til 4:00. I have gathered a talented group of artists and crafters to provide for your shopping pleasure fiber arts, pottery, shadow boxes, bookmarks, handmade Christmas cards, paintings, drawings, T-shirts, jewelry, and balloon animals. That's right -- I said BALLOON ANIMALS! Stay tuned here for more information on this amazing event!

In other news, my Stitch 'n' Bitch has a new location on a new evening. We can now be found on WEDNESDAYS from 7:00-10:00 at R PUBLIC HOUSE, 1508 W. Jarvis. RPH is a wonderful, friendly place with marvelous pub food. I'm so excited to be there!

That's all the news for now! Please check back here regularly for more information on exciting upcoming events! Annnddd, add always, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn.