Friday, January 30, 2009

Progress on the hand

I actually got into the car today and drove to Walgreen's, bought sodas, nuts, a few other things, and drove back.  I took my old-lady-shopping-cart and filled it up, steering it with one hand.  The woman at the front desk came and opened the door to the lobby for me, and I brought everything upstairs.  So my hand hasn't been much of a handicap today.  It's probably partly because it's my left hand, and I dread the day when I'll have to have the right thumb fixed -- I know that day will come because they both started aching at the same time.  Only the left turned into a trigger thumb at this point, but the other thumb is inevitable.

I can even type at the computer!

I think this thumb business is hereditary.  My mother has had both her thumbs repaired, and my maternal aunt has a painful thumb now.   They both waited longer to have their thumbs fixed than I did.  I didn't want to get to the point of it being incapacitating.  

The pain isn't incapacitating.  In fact, there's hardly any pain.  It could be the Celebrex they gave me -- I have to take it for four more days -- that's keeping the pain at bay, but I did take an oxycontin this afternoon that I had on the shelf from a previous injury.   The hard-core meds they gave me at the hospital cause various side-effects (in fact they gave me a pill to counteract one of the side effects of the pain pill), and thus I haven't been taking them.  But I haven't really needed them.  I think I would do okay with my hand even if I didn't have any pain medication.  I think that's amazing.  It could also be that I have a high tolerance for pain.  When my mother had surgery on her thumbs, all she did was complain.   I'm not like that.  Apparently my grandmother had a high tolerance for pain.  Maybe I inherited something good from my maternal line, in addition to the lousy stuff.   But my grandma had Alzheimer's and I sure don't want to inherit that!

So the hand is doing well!  The bandages come off Tuesday, but I still have to make sure I don't get the stitches wet.  I'm seeing the hand doc on the 10th and then the stitches will come out!

I'm listening to Pandora Radio -- The Rolling Stones are singing "Angie."  I love that song.

Other crafts I do

Besides cross-stitch, I have dabbled in a number of other crafts.  First on the list is origami.  I have been doing origami for at least a decade.  I haven't done any in a while, although a bunch of my cranes ended up on the building's Christmas tree this year.  There is a woman in the building, Niki, who also does origami, but we haven't been able to get together yet.  I talk to my buddy John in California, who does TONS of origami, and is very inspiring, but mostly we talk about funny stuff about language, math, computers, bowel movements (! I'm not kidding!), food, and a bunch of stuff.  He is really great at origami, modifying existing models and getting on folding jags where he folds the same thing over and over using different modifications and materials.  

Another of my crafts is crochet.  Again, I haven't done it in a while, but I'm aching to, and I'll include some of my crochet in this blog.

I spent a lot of time learning calligraphy.  I'm not nearly as good as I used to be.  I used to wake up and do calligraphy every day.  I got really good at Celtic calligraphy.  I don't do the fancy cursive stuff, though.  I like using fatter pens.  All my calligraphy stuff is in a drawer in my desk.

I've done scrapbooking but I don't know where all the stuff is.  I was doing a scrapbook about my trip to Vienna with my parents, but I wish I'd brought the stuff along to Saint Louis so I could finish it.  

I sew.  I just acquired a sewing machine and cabinet from Craigslist but I haven't touched it yet.  I want to make crazy stuffed animals/people/things.  I have 8 ties in a bag that I picked up at Salvation Army to make an octopus.  I also shrunk a wool sweater to make a silly cat.  Haven't made it yet.  I really need to get this sewing machine going!

I have some gift wrapping books which came in useful at Christmas.  I used some of the methods to wrap Christmas presents as well as Birthday presents for my daughter's birthday, which is two days after Christmas.

I also bead.  I'm in the middle of a bracelet.  Beading is MUCH faster than cross stitch and crochet.  I enjoy beading a lot.  I am also buying a necklace and earrings from the wonderful beader Phyllis Dintenfass, who was featured in Beadwork magazine last month.  I just fell in love with it.  It's $375 and I'm paying her one month at a time.  I've already made one payment -- two to go.  Phyllis was one of my beading teachers.  I can really bead anything at this point but I like taking classes.  Classes are a quick way to pick up new beading designs and to be motivated to get something done.

I've also dabbled in bookbinding.  I would like to get back into that.

So I do/have done a lot of crafts.  I wonder how many other people there are who have started and continue to do a lot of different crafts.

Phyllis Dintenfass's work may be seen at

Pinn-Stitch -- Thai Stitching Company

I just discovered a unique cross-stitch site from Thailand, with all kinds of patterns not to be found anywhere else.  There are Buddhas and other Asian, Chinese and Indian gods and idols.  There are adorable easy charts of pairs of Asian couples wearing Kimonos -- I think they are Japanese.  There are lovely landscapes.  Difficulty of charts takes the entire range of products they offer.  I ordered a chart of a Japanese mother and daughter in Kimonos, and the shipping was on $5.00 airmail.  The chart was $8.50.  Everything is sold in US dollars.   

The website can be found at  It's charming!  Go for it!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The rat and the hand

I have my son's little brown rat on my shoulder, and my left hand is in a bandage from the surgery.  The rat is wiggling inside my shirt.  I don't know what she's doing in there -- maybe cleaning herself.  Pet rats are very clean.  They are meticulous.  I love this rat.

I am able to type with the bandage on.  The surgery wasn't bad, and I don't have to take pain medication because my hand doesn't hurt enough to go through the hassles involved with the medication.  The medication is actually worse than the pain.  If you don't need to take a powerful pain killer, why bother?  The only thing I didn't like about the surgery was recovering from the anesthesia.  That was hard.  My surgery was done like at 9:00 and I was in recovery until around noon, sleeping most of the time.  I barely remember going into the operating room.  I have a vague memory of somebody putting an oxygen mask on my face, and of moving from the gurney to the operating table.  The anesthesia stung a little when it went into my hand, but I had been warned about this, and I was hardly aware at that point.  I remember it for a couple of moments, and then the next thing I remember was being in recovery.  Charlie, who had picked me up from surgery, stayed with me until 4:00 in the afternoon, when Camille came over.  Camille spent the night and left late morning, then came over this evening and had pizza.  She also brought me sodas and ice cream (the breathing tube left my throat sore).  Charlie and Camille have been really helpful while I have been recovering, doing things like walking the dog for example.  I am lucky to have people who care about me.

The rat has settled down on my shoulder, quiet and still.  I know my son will really love her when he gets her.  I will have her for another week, but I really want him to see her as a baby.  She's already growing.  I have been checking to make sure there is a little bump in her tummy from eating food, but I don't see her going up to the next level for her food and I don't see her drinking water.  I know she is eating and drinking though.  She is a very happy rat.  She doesn't have a name yet but I've been calling her Lily.  

I have a good life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's your favorite Valentine's design?

I've been looking at small Valentine's Day designs on 1-2-3 Stitch.  There are three web pages of hearts, Valentine's sentiments, love symbols and (the ubiquitous) reds and pinks.  I'm not going to tell you my suggestions -- just that I'd love to make a couple of quick designs for my sons and their amores.  What would you suggest?  What Valentine's Day designs are your favorites?  I'll reveal mine soon!

My trigger thumb and surgery tomorrow

I am going in for surgery tomorrow on my trigger thumb.  Apparently trigger finger or trigger thumb is caused by inflamation around the joint and tendon.  Mine has some sort of related cyst on the place where my thumb joint meets my hand.  That's very common.  Trigger thumb is called digital tenovaginitis stenosans.  Tomorrow I am going to be knocked out and my doc is going to do the surgery.  Since I have diabetes, I get the first slot in the morning, which means I have to be there at 6:30 am, and I'm not thrilled about that.  A friend of mine (I call him "Happy Charlie") is coming to pick me up at noon, around the time I will be out of recovery.  We will need to go to the pharmacy to fill the prescription for the pain medication, then off to my house.  At some point my 17 year old daughter Camille will relieve Charlie.  I need to figure out what kind of "loose clothing" to wear tomorrow, and I'm not sure I have anything that will work, except maybe my pajama top.  I might try that.  I don't know how big the bandage on my hand is going to be.   It would be a drag to have to split open a shirt just to get my hand in there.  Maybe the pajama top is the right thing to take.  I could always replace the pajamas, right?

I don't have a picture of this right now, but I'll take one and post it.

Sale at The Bold Sheep

The Bold Sheep is having a 3-for-2 sale.  Buy two patterns or kits, and the third is free.  The free one will be the one that costs the least.  Besides cross-stitch patterns and kits, The Bold Sheep also carries tapestry kits.  A lot of the designs are the same as the cross-stitch designs, but there are some different ones.  They carry both baa-ginners (beginner kits) and regular kits.  Some of these are really pretty!  I'm going to try out tapestry myself and I plan to use a baa-ginner's kit.

The trick to the French knot

I had a lot of trouble with French knots until I learned the trick.  The trick is to keep your thumbnail or finger on the knot as you pull the needle through.  The knot must be against the fabric when you do this.   That's all there is to it!

I have looked for a picture on Google Images for exactly this procedure, and I can't find any that show it the way I do it.  I just know that I haven't had any problems with French knots since I started using this method.  Try it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gridding Aid from 1-2-3 Stitch

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog on how to grid cross stitch fabric to make stitching easier.  In fact, I can't stitch without gridding.  It makes it a lot easier to count and prevents mistakes.  It is especially useful on evenweave fabric, although I need a magnifying glass to make sure I get the rows right.  I always use a thread color for gridding that contrasts with the fabric.  This is done with regular sewing thread, by the way, and not floss.  After you're done stitching, the threads pull right out.

Well, 1-2-3 Stitch ( carries a product that makes gridding easier.  It is called Easy Count Guideline and runs for $7.83.  It looks like the grid can be inserted without a needle, and appears heavier than the plain sewing thread that I use for gridding.  I haven't tried this product, but it does look useful.

La D Da cross stitch

Another one of my favorite designers is La D Da.  The designer is Lori Markovic.  She does great stuff.  This one is called "White Cat" and is done with Gentle Art Sampler Threads.  This was one of the first La D Da designs I saw and I really liked.  I don't have a white cat (I have an orange tabby instead) but I love this design and would love to stitch it some day.  A good place to buy La D Da designs is 1-2-3 Stitch online.  She has a lot of options.  Strange, I haven't looked at La D Da in a long time, but there don't seem to be any recent patterns.  I am wondering if Lori has moved on to other things.  Anyway, all of the La D Da designs are what I would call "primitive."  

Bonheur Des Dames Eyeglass Case

Bonheur Des Dames, a French company, has the greatest designs.  I picked this one to show because it is so delicate and lovely I couldn't resist.  I would love to make one.  It appears to be on blue linen evenweave, which would make half-stitches possible.  I haven't ordered anything from Bonheur Des Dames in a long time, but I'm going to order this one.  I need an eyeglass case to keep my reading glasses close at hand.  (No, I don't wear one of those chains around my neck!)  Look at the delicate flowers on the case.  Aren't they charming?

P.S.  I did order the kit for the eyeglass case from the company.  It is expensive (in Euros) as is the shipping, but I'm looking forward to receiving it and stitching it.  I don't know how long it will take to get here, but I'll let you know.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I got this horrid SPAM from somebody advertising their webpage about making the most of the economy (or something like that) asking me to link to their page and write a blog about it.  This person found my private email address and wrote to me there.  I can't believe she did that.  (Or was it a he?)  I find this really annoying.  People looking up my email address instead of using the blog.  Can you imagine?  I tried to write back telling this person not to email me again, and the email address was set to nonresponse.  I thought blogger was supposed to protect us from this kind of SPAM.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beginner Cross Stitch Kits from The Bold Sheep

I have been in the market for a beginner design for my 17 year old daughter.  It occurred to me to go to The Bold Sheep website (link in my sidebar) and see what they have.  The Bold Sheep is a British company, and although they have both patterns and kits for more experienced stitcher, the beginner patterns are all kits.  I understand European kits have a greater allotment of fabric than US kits, so I thought I would try this out for my daughter.  It is on 8 count Aida with bright colors and sooo cute!  Designs from the bold sheep are cute, fun, relatively easy, small and have a variety of charts for several different levels of stitcher.  

The price is in pounds and it looks relative expensive, with costly shipping added.  I hope she appreciates it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

British Cross Stitch Magazines

I have a vast collection of British cross stitch magazines.  Most of them are in storage in Wisconsin, which makes them impossible to access, since I live in Saint Louis.   My favorites are Cross Stitch Crazy and Cross Stitch Card Shop.  Some of the other British cross stitch magazines, such as Cross Stitcher, don't appeal to me.   If I want a big design, I don't want one that is stitched on Aida in whole stitches, with tons of backstitching just to define the edges.  That is why, for big designs, I prefer charts from, say, the US or France or Ireland, and I stitch them on hand-dyed linen.  I don't do kits, either.  There are a lot of references to kits in British magazines.  I don't understand kits.  I don't understand why all the threads are not already sorted and labeled in some kits (Dimensions kits would drive me crazy for this reason), or why the fabric pieces are always so skimpy and almost always white, or why they use boring brands of thread rather than hand-dyed thread, which I prefer.  I do like Cross Stitch Crazy and Card Shop because the designs in them are small.  I don't mind stitching something on Aida in entirely whole stitches with cheap thread if it's something small and quick, although small and quick for some of the designs in these magazines means up to 50 hours.   They do have "one nighters" which for me would take a week because I just can't sit down and stitch for four or five hours straight -- unless it's Monday and I have an iPod full of new podcasts I could listen to for hours on end.   If I could read and stitch at the same time, that would make me happy.  Okay, so I could (and do) download books and listen to those.  That kind of multi-tasking would make me happy.

So back to the British cross stitch magazines.  They are fun to look at.  They are fun to read.  Sometimes I find nothing in them I would want to stitch, but there's a lot more in them than designs.  They are almost cross stitch gossip magazines.   They're very entertaining and fun.

I get my British cross stitch magazines from the racks at Barnes & Noble.  The only problem with buying them at Barnes & Noble is that oftentimes some idiot cheap stitcher will have already stolen the free gift out of the plastic wrapper.  It's not that I really want the free gift (I almost never use them), but it does take some of the fun out of it.   It's important to check that the free gift is still in there when buying the magazines sold in wrappers.  

Now I'm off to fantasize about stitching silly little designs in the latest issue of Cross Stitch Crazy.

My New Fish Tank!

I got a 10 gallon tank with all the paraphrenalia on Craigslist, and today I had a guy from a fish store come out and set it up for me.  He put in gravel, plants, a few guppies to condition the water, and chemicals (bacteria to speed up the process and decholorinizer).  He left me some other stuff, including fish food and chemicals, and pointed out that I had a device to clean the bottom of the tank.  He also left me a big bucket for water.   I am not thrilled about the guppies, and plan to return them to the store when I get the real fish for my tank.  These are very boring guppies.  I know where to get Moscow blue guppies (another ad on Craigslist) and I would like to get a couple for my tank.  The fish store says they take in guppies from time to time, so I would have a place to take all the babies if I get a male and female pair, or even two females who would probably already be pregnant.

I used to have guppies and other live bearers in my 5 gallon tank when I was a kid.  I had fish since I was about 10.  I loved my fish.  I had one fancy guppy I called Golashes.  That fish seemed to live for an eternity.   I generally took very good care of my fish.  I had several types that were livebearers, and some that laid eggs.  I had a constant supply of fish.  They made me very happy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reading Kurt Vonnegut!

I got Slaughterhouse Five because I heard it was about the firebombing of Dresden.  I've had the book for a couple of weeks, but I just picked it up yesterday and I am amazed!   What a great author!  I haven't read any Kurt Vonnegut and now I am going to go to the library and get several more of his books.  Wow!

My son Mark has a tattoo of Kurt Vonnegut on his back.  My ex- used to read to them at night, and he read a lot of Vonnegut's books to my boys.   By the way, my boys have excellent vocabularies and are wonderful writers, and I attribute this at least partly to being read to every day!  No baby books for my boys.  We started reading novels to them when they were pretty young!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I have three very simple New Year's resolutions.  

1.  Eat healthy food.  I have been seeing a dietician at my endocrinologist's office (in case you don't know, I have insulin-dependent diabetes).  Last time I went, I had lost one pound.  Very disappointing.   The dietician put together a healthy diet for me.  It's hard to keep up with it, especially with all the fruit and vegetables.  I think I have managed the fruit, but I have neglected the vegetables.  I am also eating oatmeal, one of her recommendations.  I love my oatmeal and eat it nearly every day.  I do go through a lot of oatmeal!  Anyway, eating healthy means sticking to the diet she put together for me.  Sometimes I feel like I'm eating all day just to keep up, but supposedly it's going to help me lose weight.  I need to lose about 15 pounds.  Not much, but it's a struggle.

2.  Exercise.  I belong to a gym just two buildings away, and I haven't gone in a while.  I also have walked the dog a half mile in the past, but I'm just taking him down the street real quick right now.  It's been too cold to walk.   Today it seems to be a bit warmer, so I'm going to try to start again today.  Walking is key to losing weight and being healthy.  

3.  Write.  I have lots of ideas in my head, and my goal is to publish.  This takes discipline, which I don't have yet.  I want to write three pages a day.  Right now, I am thinking of some pet articles, to send to pet magazines.  I also want to write a novella about being a young musician (as I was) and also some science fiction.

That's it for my resolutions.  So far, I haven't done too well, but I keep working at it, and that's the key.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Update on the PayPal Account Compromise

Well, I just want to report that the situation with PayPal was resolved in only eight days, at which time PayPal put the money directly into my account.  They moved quickly, got the money back from the sellers, and prevented the goods from being mailed out.  Somebody in the automobile repair business was involved in this.  He (and I'm almost certain it's a he) bought body parts and even put the name of a auto repair business as one of the purchasers.  I think this guy was stupid.  He didn't get what he wanted, and very likely got a visit from the police!  

PayPal keeps their word!

Selling Silkweaver Cross-Stitch Fabric on Craigslist

Well, I accumulated too much fabric stash.  I had an entire cardboard file box full.  I decided I would sell each piece on Craigslist for $5.00.   Two women came out, one with her daughter, the other with her husband, who actually found the posting for her.  They each bought 14 pieces, and I've got a lot left, I'd say half a box.  My posting lasts for 30 days, and I might get more takers, but if I don't, I'll repost after the month is up.  If you are interested in purchasing some silkweaver fabric for cheap, send me an email and I'll send a description of what I've got.  

No worries, I have more stash of my own in another box!