December 31, 2008

The End Is Near

My grim title was supposed to be funny only because it refers to the end of yet another year. Can you believe it already?!! Time flies when I'm having fun and, even though the evening news is mostly negative these days, right now I want to think about the positive events of 2008. Let's make the best of it!

Maybe you'll recall brief mentions of my Egyptian friend Omneya. Her birthday was a few days ago and I sent her a congratulatory email. She wrote back to say a package was on it's way to me and, omgosh, what timing -- it was in our mailbox only a few hours later! This necklace (and a tree ornament too) made my day. Knowing Omneya put it together, and knowing she shops at bead stores in Kahn al-Khalili market, add to its beauty. Wearing it feels like a long distance hug from this dear friend. My goodness, it was her birthday and I'M getting a present!

Omneya is another kindred spirit. We have so much in common that it's scary. Of course, she sews too -- you had to ask?! We discovered our many similarities when Tien and I visited Egypt in 2005. She and my bro-in-law Kuan worked together in Cairo. Omneya has a heart of gold and I think of her as my sister. She wears gorgeous, ethnic silver jewelry. Whenever we got together, she had on such interesting pieces. I should ask her to photograph herself everyday for a week just so I can visit her and her jewelry.

A bonus of Omneya's package were the Egyptian stamps. Aren't they wonderful?! I'll soak them off the envelope to paste into a scrapbook.

I got new books, LOTS of new books, for Christmas this year. Thought you might be interested in the titles! I'll be reading a lot in between sleeping off this cold/flu which seems to be taking over. Happy New Year to you and best wishes for the next 365 days!

December 30, 2008

My Munchkins

Mike and Erika, my darling baby brother and best-ever sis-in-law, have three of the brightest lights of my life and I'm ever so grateful to them for my nephew and nieces.

This is 8 year old Ryan, whom you've met before. He is my kindred spirit and I adore this boy. He loves to use his hands to make things. We've been playing video games too. Thanks to him, I have found pinball on my laptop. Now I don't have to spend a roll of quarters to get a fix.

Natalie, 5 years old, is also known as Natty. One of the things she doesn't like to do is crafts, but she was trying. She is a quick learner of songs (Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner) and is a ham if I ever met one -- this child loves to pose for pictures for me! I have a ton of Natty photos. We have lots of fun.

Here is a classic Natty photo. Being with her makes me sooooo happy. For Christmas, Santa brought her a Hello Kitty digital camera. She learned how to hold the camera still so her pictures wouldn't be blurry. I will post one later.

Megan, aka Tulip (because of the shape of her mouth), is 2-1/2. We have not bonded yet (Terrible Twos) and she has a mind of her own. This one smiles all the time!

Now that Tien and I are back in San Diego I'll need a few days to get back into the swing of stitchery, but regular blogging is back on schedule. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas To You

My sister Janine and her boyfriend Scott took us to their friends's home for a meal of delicious lobsters, crab, oysters and great wines. What a fantastic way to spend Christmas Eve. I wish you a Merry Christmas!

Tien and me

Janine and Scott

Our hosts, John and Linda, dancing in the kitchen.

Maine lobster, one for each person, compliments of Gary

Our other host, Harry, played the piano and accordian wonderfully...

...and shared his sauternes with us.

Harry and Scott

Tien, Gary, Scott, John and Linda

December 24, 2008

Junior Spool Knitter

I knew Ryan, my 8 year old nephew, would want to try spool knitting. I brought the Clover "Wonder Knitter" and the Susan Bates "Knitting Knobby" for him to try. Natalie, 5 years old, wanted to experiment too, but she found she had more interest in cartoons and Beanie Babies.

The Susan Bates model makes a more tightly knitted scarf. Blog-reader Janey pointed me to this pattern for teeny tiny hats. I cast on a few less stitches to fit a wine bottle. Now I'm really cracking up! I've already made three hats.

December 23, 2008


Though "Uncle" Wesley is not related to me, he has been my dear, dear friend for ~30 years. Wes and I became friends hanging out at the pool hall in Japantown on Fri and Sat nights. Neither of us are SF residents any longer; he's in Thailand and I'm in San Diego. In fact we haven't seen each other since about 1994 -- thank goodness for email, telephone and Skype. Today we got together for dim sum and, for the first time, he and Tien met too. Not a thing has changed between us, and that's how I know we'll be friends for another 30+ years. Wes still comes home to SF to see his aging mother. It is rare when we are in the Bay Area at the same time.

December 21, 2008

Seven or Eleven

Everyone brings a small, wrapped gift and receives one in exchange. We sit in a circle and each person describes their gift. Three pairs of dice go around the room for seven minutes. Throwing a 7 or 11 gives the thrower the rights to exchange their gift for someone else's. It's quite raucous and fun, and sometimes friendly arguments arise.

My parents have hosted this Christmas party for many, many years. Mom cooks up a storm and everyone brings dessert. Chong aunts, uncles, cousins and children of the cousins are invited, and I look forward to seeing everyone I love! I swear this crowd gets bigger and bigger each year.

December 19, 2008

Sock Yarn Doll Dress

I was really attracted to the colors in this skinny yarn. After I got home I saw it contains aloe because it's meant for socks, which I'll never do. I just had to try out 3mm knitting needles. This strapless number was completed during a 3 hour phone call w/bro-in-law Kuanza in Shanghai. I can see beads sewn to the hem. Putting the cart before the horse, the dress is knitted, but the doll has not been made.

Tien and I will be in SF for the next week, so blogging will be sporadic.

December 18, 2008

This Cracks Me Up

Heeheehee, hahaha, Ho Ho Ho! I found a project to make with a spool knitter, other than one long skinny who-knows-what. The wine-scarf wasn't my idea, but I did make this myself. Similar ones are shown with matching hats -- that might be next.

December 16, 2008

And the winner is...

... JANEY! The random generator drew seven. Congrats to Janey who's getting the Secret Keeper. Heaps of thanks to everyone who entered and, again, to those who read my blog. I wish I had a doll for each of you.

My swap ornaments arrived from Washington State, Germany, Norway, UK, Ireland; others aren't identifiable. This was really fun to do! Must do more swaps in 2009 -- I love 'em.

I can't stop making earrings and churned out another pair. This one has pearls, iolite, ancient North African glass, Swarovski crystal and tanzanite. "Ancient?" you ask? 900 AD qualifies as antique, anyway...

December 15, 2008

Last Day for Giveaway

Have you left a comment in Tuesday's post for the Secret Keeper giveaway? I'll be randomly picking a number at 9p PST this evening. Originally I was going to pick "in five days," but hardly anyone commented (boo hoo, wah!). C'mon people, even those of you who are my relatives -- you can COMMENT!

Thanks to inspiration by Jennifer Heynan at Art Bead Scene, I made these earring cards in Word 2007. My pal Christine, a nurse, offered to sell my earrings at her hospital and I thought they'd better look professional. Christine is a dear pal to support me this way! She tells me she loves to sell. Thought you'd like to see earrings in process too.

December 14, 2008

Six More Earrings

Did you sign up for the Secret Keeper doll GIVEAWAY? Leave a comment in Tuesday's post to be eligible.

Yup, I'm still making earrings! 12 done and six more to go. This orange and fuchia one was rephotographed from the previous group. Much better with light coming through the beads. Below are the newest six. Funny thing about making earrings: I get to make two, as opposed to knitting socks, in which I'd have to knit two.

Notice anything different about the last set?

December 12, 2008

See previous post...

... for the Secret Keeper doll GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment in Tuesday's post to be eligible.

I forgot how fun it is to make earrings. Does anyone know how to photograph jewelry using a point/shoot? Help! The bead colors are so much prettier than I can portray here.

December 10, 2008

400th Post Giveaway

Wow, I've been here four hundred times. It's a milestone for me!

I didn't think I'd last this long. At first the idea of blogging seemed vain. Why would I want to put my stuff out there? Who would read it? Who would I want reading it? Then, why do I care? So, even after arguing with myself, I still liked the idea and decided it would be a diary to keep track of my sewing room output. I'll try it. As it was, I'd been keeping track of my work in paper journals for years. This would be better - there'd be pictures. And if anyone stopped by for a visit, great. People sometimes ask, "What're you working on?" and I could refer them to my blog (aka too-lazy-to-explain-more-than-once or here-lemme-show-you).

Once I started, I was concerned I'd run out of things to say, or the act of writing would become a chore, or I couldn't post as often as I intended. But I continue to sew, which requires photographs, which requires explanations. I'll never stop sewing, so here I am, at Post 400.

I know some have been here since the beginning (Mom, Jac, Jo, Hiromi, Nacy, Masami). Many pop by quietly, regularly and/or occasionally... (blog stats give me clues, heh-heh-heh). Doesn't matter! As explained before, I'd be doing this no matter what. BUT IT'S WAY MORE FUN WITH YOU HERE -- thank you for allowing me to share!

Because you've become part of my journey and maybe find pleasure in one way or another in my words and images, I would love to offer something to you, you and you, this blue Secret Keeper doll. Small problem, I only have one left. All you, you and you have to do is leave a comment in this post. After five days I will choose a random number from among the comments and she'll be on her way to her new home. I'll ask for your address later.

Here's the deal about a Secret Keeper doll. You know how someone will tell you a secret and you're not supposed to tell? I know, bursting sometimes, right? So, tell the doll. The Secret Keeper keeps it buttoned up (see mouth) and she symbolically keeps it in the pocket hidden underneath her jacket. FAQs: No, it's not a cultural thing; Yes, I made it up. Shh, don't tell.

December 9, 2008

Last of the Gift Tags

Stitching is done; just waiting for purchases I made to arrive, then wrap. I have always loved gift wrapping -- something about folding the paper down smoothly at the ends of a box to secure the surprise inside. Before moving to San Diego, my self-assigned job was wrapping Mom's/Dad's gifts. I also did this for my friend Gene-O (he's ABC, not Italian), however, he managed to wrap my prez on his own.

The next post will be my 400th. Do you want a Secret Keeper doll?

December 8, 2008

Gift Tags

Me, "I'm going upstairs to do a little sewing."
He, "But you don't have any more shows!"
Me, "I know. I just feel like stitching."
He, "Oh..."
This was a conversation in our household.

One of the things that kept me from selling my work was the idea of being a salesperson. I was unwilling to take on that role because it didn't feel honest. It turned out this was not the way to think! There is no acting involved here. It seems too simple: All I have to do is stand behind my table filled with my stitchery and BE MYSELF. How easy is that? And fun too! This was advice from my art show mentor, Esther Kodama. I learned a lot from Esther. After a two hour discussion, I saw that I could do this. And I have been.

A few more gift tags to embellish and I'm done! Maybe some rough jute for hanging?

December 7, 2008

Thank You CVA Friends

Dearest friends and customers who attended Carmel Valley Artists show, it was good to see you. This is a big thank you to folks who took home dolls, lavender pillows, rag baskets and a felt garland of colorful circles. Your warm appreciation of my handwork is the icing on my creativity-cake.

Happy Birthday to my sister, Janine -- I hope you've been having a WONDERFUL DAY!