April 2006 Archives

My Dell XPS 400 is here!

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The big box arrived yesterday. The other two today. And the padded envelope last week.

It's all here! My new baby Dell! (Way before the reported ship date of May 1!)

But I'm waiting until I have more energy and time before it gets set up. Tomorrow morning, however, is gardening time.

Size: about 88 inches x 72 inches
Pattern: My own
Date: April 2006

My closet curtains are done! The final 3 panels (2 greens, 1 reds) were finished last Sunday. Here are all 8 panels hanging across the closet opening. I will probably buy a thicker spring-loaded curtain rod since the current one easily pops out if the fabric is pulled even a little. The 8 panels can be arranged in a variety of ways. Purple is my favorite color, so I put the 2 purple panels together for now!

Crochet and yarn update

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No crocheting was done this past weekend. No crocheting has been done yet this week. Although I finished the first sleeve for the Julianna cardigan, it didn't fit in the sleeve opening. I seem to have lost the desire to figure out how to rework the sleeve pattern a second time to get it to fit properly (re-working is necessary only because I'm using yarn that's too thick for the pattern). I think I need a non-thinking crochet project...but I don't know what I want to do.

The package containing the yarn I ordered in early March at Herrschners.com was lost by the shipping company. So, Herrschners had to re-ship the order. The first part arrived promptly with a note on the packing slip that 8 skeins were backordered. Lo-and-behold, late last week the lost box containing the entire first order arrived - over a month late! The Bernat Berrella "4" 100% acrylic yarn is soft and feels good again my skin - much, much better than Red Heart Super Saver (my standard yarn for donated lap blankets) - and the colors are rich and lovely! I arranged with Herrschners to cancel the second part of the re-shipment, but keep the first part at a reduced price (instead of shipping it back to them).

Sewing update

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When we got back from the Maker Faire, it was overcast and a little chilly so I skipped more gardening in favor of finishing the second green curtain panel. I also started - and finished - the second red panel! That means all 8 curtain panels are done!!! Photos will be posted in a few days.

Now that the curtains were done, I needed fabric for other projects. So, I stopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics yesterday after work and wandered around the store for 2 hours looking at and touching nearly every bit of cotton and flannel bunches (what are they called???) bolts of fabric. I found a lovely tropical print in deep purples, blues, greens, and magenta/reds to use for the top of the cutting board cover and a solid rich purple to use for the bottom (flat quilt batting will go in between). I also picked up a Simplicity sewing pattern for pajama bottoms and a soft flannel fabric of kitties!

After breakfast on Sunday, Bill and I went to the Maker Faire at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. It was difficult to explain to him just what the Maker Faire was, but he agreed to go - and I think he enjoyed some of the displays. We are both utilitarian so quite a few of the displays didn't grab our attention. I kept reminding myself that the fair featured "people who make things just because they can." I was especially fascinated by the Redneck Pool Heater.

We also recycled (and got a receipt for 2006 tax purposes!) most of the outdated computer equipment that had been hidden away (out of sight, out of mind) in a few closets. The ACCRC was at the faire taking electronics equipment for free. Gone now are: my old August 1997 Windows 95 Dell XPS M233 CPU / keyboard / speakers / subwoofer and my monitor-stopped-working-a-while-ago October 2000 iMac / keyboard / mouse / ZIP drive.

Weekend gardening

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There was finally nice weather last weekend! Bill and I worked in the gardens Friday evening after work, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning. While I played "manager," Bill dug up plants I wanted to replace or that took up space I now want to use for something else (4 blue Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile), 2 Orange Canna Lily, [evergreen bush with pink flowers]).

I made a trip to Home Depot Saturday morning to buy a variety of plants and a new shovel to replace the one Bill broke Friday night while digging up the Agapanthus (wow! I'll never plant those in the ground again - the root system is amazing!). After feeling just fine (better than I remember from last year) during over 3 hours of gardening on Saturday, an asthma attack hit me within 10-15 minutes of working in the moist, shady area of the backyard garden. That ended my gardening for the day - and wiped me out for the rest of Saturday.

On Sunday morning, however, I woke feeling just fine again and tackled an hour and a half of front yard gardening before breakfast. There are still quite a few plants that need to be planted. I hear it's going to be nice again this weekend!

Another new toy!

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Oh, boy. At least the national debt is more!

My new Dell Dimension XPS 400 has just been ordered and will be shipped around May 1, 2006. Very cool!

On the crochet front

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Sewing hasn't replaced crocheting, in spite of the recent frequency of sewing-related posts here. I've been crocheting in the evenings from about 8:00pm to bedtime (usually 10:00pm). I'm working on the Julianna cardigan from Cool Crochet. I think it is probably a little too small for me, so I have in mind a woman at work to give it to if it doesn't fit me. The back and two fronts are done. I started the first sleeve last night, and am going to work on it now.

Bought a new toy!

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I just bought my newest toy! No, not a new computer (not yet anyway...). A Singer 7462 Electronic Sewing Machine! It should be here in 7-12 days!

On Saturday morning, I finished the top pocket and bottom hem on the first purples panel. Between Saturday and Sunday, I started and finished the second purples and second yellows panels. 1 reds and 2 greens panels to go then the colorful closet curtains are done!

Jealous computer?


20060417singer7462.jpg Yesterday morning, I surfed over to the Jo-Ann Fabrics website to look at sewing machines. The $199.99 on-sale Singer 7462 Electronic Sewing Machine (also on special now with free shipping) caught my eye. It has good reviews so I tried to view the online demo but the Quicktime icon was "broken". I downloaded and installed the latest free Quicktime player (which is combined with iTunes). The installation required a reboot which I did then walked away for one reason or another. When I came back a while later, the Windows 2000 startup screen was still displayed. Uh-oh.

Tried CTRL-ALT-DEL - nothing. Tried to power off - nothing. Hit the "emergency" reboot button under the power switch. Watched the boot sequence. Stuck again at 13 blocks on the progress bar of the Windows 2000 startup screen. Hit the reboot button. Hit F8 during the boot sequence and try Safe Mode. Stuck at startup screen. Hit reboot button, hit F8, tried "Last Good Configuration" (but don't read the instructions completely). Stuck at startup screen.

Took a deep breath. And another. Hit reboot button quickly followed by power off button. Let the computer sit while I measured, cut, and sewed...

I tried to ignore the problem but became more and more sick to my stomach about it. A few hours later, I tried "Last Good Configuration" again (reading the instructions this time: who knew you had to hit "L"!?) - and it worked!

The computer (hard drive?) has been making noise for many weeks (months?). But, it's not a clicking or a grinding sound so I wasn't too worried about it (obviously since it's been months!). Recently, however, the sound is more like a switching gears in a small manual-shift sports car.

The computer is still making noise, but the programs and data files (and photos and all my other "stuff") are there. It reboots cleanly now, without getting stuck at the startup screen.

And, Quicktime worked so I could view the Singer 7462 sewing machine demo!

I think my computer is jealous. Jealous that I'm thinking about buying an electronic sewing machine. Jealous that I won't have as much time to spend with it if I get a new sewing machine. However, it has more than just that to be jealous about...

My computer was brand new with lots of good stuff in October of 2000 for $5,000 - yes, that much. I ordered it with what I wanted: large 21-inch monitor, 500mb RAM, DVD, CD-RW, ZIP, Windows 2000, Microsoft Office Pro, more. It's now 5 1/2 years later and similar PCs cost about $800-900. The computer is still what I want and need, except for 2 things: I'm nearly out of disk space on the 40gb hard drive and...and I need a backup solution.

A backup solution that is automatic and reliable. Something that doesn't involve copying many gigabytes of files to 650mb CD-RW disks or dealing with tapes. Something easy.

20060417dellxps400.gif So, I spent some time yesterday evening hunting for a new computer on Dell's website. One with a built-in backup solution (Dell's "DataSafe" which uses Ghost to copy designated files to a backup hard drive) and a larger hard drive.

The new computer I'm looking at has a 19/20-inch widescreen flat screen monitor (which I don't really care about since I'm very happy with my current 21-inch CRT monitor), 250gb hard drive with DataSafe (which I need), Windows XP (which would be nice to have), 1gb RAM (but the 500mb I have now has been plenty), and more (most of which I don't need). But it doesn't have a ZIP drive - and I have a lot of ZIP disks I use to bring files to and from work. I know I could use a USB jump drive, but I already have 30 or so ZIP disks that have been working just fine.

For ergonomic reasons, I am not considering a laptop / notebook PC. The keyboards are too narrow, the screens aren't large enough and are difficult to see in some lighting, and I can't sit just anywhere to be on a computer (gotta take care of my back).

What's a worried, backup-less computer user to do? Especially when her computer is making odd sounds...

Just thinking "out loud" now...and trying to talk myself into buying a new computer...

I was very very relieved when the computer successfully booted and I could see that all programs and files were still accessible. I teared up a little with relief. The possibility of losing 5+ years of photographs and other files is not a pleasant thought.

Is not feeling the fear of losing all my files worth buying a new computer? Even if the cost is just over $2,200 (including tax, free shipping)? For a computer with more power and more features than my current computer, more than I even realistically would use? (Of course, the starting price is $999, but that doesn't include DataSafe or Microsoft Office.)

Granted, I could take $290 off the total if I didn't get the 20-inch widescreen flat screen monitor. I could reduce it further by not ordering the wireless keyboard and mouse ($40) and a few other things to bring the total to about $1,750 (including tax, free shipping).

Hubby says "Go for it. You use it. You want it. Buy what you want. You can afford it. You'll be miserable if you lose all your files." (We keep our finances separate except for "joint" expenses, so it's easy to encourage each other to spend money on "toys"!)

Last night, sometime after the computer was again working, it occurred to me that if I hadn't e-filed our tax returns Friday evening and had waited until Sunday as Bill suggested, we would have been late late late if my computer still had not started correctly. He understood the full magnitude of the situation at that point. No computer = Loss of something we (mostly I) rely on pretty regularly.

[7:10pm] Oh, and, I'm concerned that some of my software won't run on Windows XP, such as Photoshop/ImageReady 7, Illustrator 9, Dreamweaver MX, and more!

[7:34pm] By the way, I finished our tax returns in late February using TaxCut, but had not yet e-filed because we owed just over $2,000 combined in State and Federal taxes.

Craft room setup

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Bummer. Reorganizing my yarn stash wasn't very successful. But a little space was freed up and the 29 new skeins were put away. With Cleo "supervising", I did move the colors I use most in an easier-to-get-to place and have a better idea of what's in my stash (too much if I get Fabric Acquisition Syndrome and need to store fabric stash too!).

2006_0415cleobysewingmachin.jpg Because bending to measure and cut fabric isn't good for my back, Bill made a 24x48-inch cutting board that fits on top of the desk in the craft room. The top surface of the board is about 34-1/2 inches from the floor, about 6 inches from the top of the desk. The board is plywood. Since it isn't smooth, I thought I would make a freeform fabric cover for it and pad it with batting for quilts. (Another sewing project!)

As you can see from the closeup photos of the cutting board, Bill makes things so they will never fall apart! (You should see how the backyard deck is put together!) The clamps hold the board to the desktop so it doesn't slide or tip over (the desktop has a large 45-degree angled corner; when I'm working at the cutting board and lean on that corner, it tips). I didn't want holes drilled into the desktop so the clamps are staying unless we find another anti-tipping solution.

I didn't mention that last Sunday I bought a new ironing board cover (who would've ever thought that I would ever do that!). Oh, and, I stopped at Joann's Wednesday evening to pickup just a few more fat quarters for the closet curtains. I thought I may run out of fabric when making the second panel of each color. I ended up browsing for an hour and picked up 4 more pieces of each color, including additional patterns: 2 red, 1 yellow, 1 green.

More sewing and crocheting supplies

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Oh, my. A monster has been awakened. In me. More sewing/quilting supplies...the desire to look at and touch and have a variety of colors and patterns of fabric...

A Michael's Craft Store coupon for 30% off all regular priced merchandise drew me in... I left with a stash of 29 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver yarn (in Navy, Burgundy, Claret, Soft White, Aran, and Buff) for donation lap blankets and whatever else strikes me, 2 Omnigrid quilting rulers (4x14-inch and 3x18-inch), an Omnigrid quilting travel kit (1x6-inch ruler, 4x4-inch ruler, 6x6-inch ruler, 8.75x11.75-inch cutting mat), and a piece of 45x60-inch batting to use as padding on the 24x48-inch cutting board Bill made for me this week.

Then I stopped at Orchard Supply Hardware to see if I could find something like a sheet of vinyl that I might want to use on the cutting board instead. Nothing. Bill had suggested contact paper/shelf liner so I looked but the 18-inch sheets are too narrow and I don't want to have an overlap (and I didn't want to mess around with matching the overlapping pattern either!). I did, however, find a small 3-drawer storage container perfect for bobbins and other smaller sewing items. Oh, and, I did walk through the garden area, but it's hard to be inspired when it's been raining nearly everyday here in the Bay Area for 6 weeks now...including today...and tomorrow...

It's time to reorganize the yarn collection to try to get more space so I'll feel less crowded in the craft room...

Sixth set of sample skeins

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The sixth month (of 12) of sample skeins from Elann arrived early last week.

It took until Thursday night to finish the first panel (yellows). The second (reds) was started and finished today. I'm exhausted from repeatedly standing to iron, bending to measure and cut, sitting and leaning forward to sew, and...

  • ironing, measuring, cutting, pinning, sewing, unpinning, ironing strips together
  • measuring, marking, folding, ironing, pinning, sewing, unpinning, ironing the left seam
  • ditto for right seam
  • ironing, measuring, marking, folding and pinning the finished edge, folding, pinning, ironing, sewing, unpinning the bottom seam for the curtain rod pocket
  • measuring, marking, folding, pinning, sewing, unpinning, ironing the top seam for the pocket
  • measuring, marking, folding, pinning, sewing, unpinning, ironing the bottom hem

Time to sit in with hubby in the living room, crocheting and "watching" TV. I'll probably start another curtain panel tomorrow...6 more to go.

Crochet using quilt block designs

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(above images from quilterscache.com)
I have a bunch of crochet pattern leaflets and books with afghans of granny squares that mimic quilt designs. On Crochetville this morning, I saw a Crochet-a-Quilt crochet along topic with many links to quilt-block patterns that can be used for crochet.

Quilt Blocks Galore especially caught my eye as a source of patterns for crocheting...and quilting! (This feeds right into my desire for color and texture!)

[a few minutes later...]

grandmothersflowergarden.gif Oh, boy: Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt (at Quilted Inspirations) - complete with template and instructions. I already know how to crochet a Grandmother's Flower Garden Afghan... I may just have to dive into quilting (for real).

[another few minutes later...]

The Web is a lovely place... Fat Quarter Shop.

Must stop browsing now...

Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin?

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For the most part, I agree with this summary. Hmmm, now if I only knew what "Mandarin" referred to... Ah, dictionary.com includes this definition: "A member of an elite group, especially a person having influence or high status in intellectual or cultural circles."

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 36%
Lifer: 59%
Mandarin: 62%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

16819 people have taken the Are You a Talent, a Lifer, or a Mandarin? (Version 2.0) personality test. Here are the results so far:

Talents: 8516 (51%)
Lifers: 5704 (34%)
Mandarins: 2599 (15%)

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

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This surprises me... While I do consider myself independent, "dominant" and "alpha dog" aren't usually how I describe myself.

Your Birthdate: October 10

Independent and dominant, you tend to be the alpha dog in most situations. You're very confident, and hardly anything ever shakes you. Mundane tasks tend to drain you - you prefer to be making great plans. You are quite original. When people don't "get" you, it bothers you a lot.

Your strength: Your ability to gain respect.
Your weakness: Caring too much what others think.
Your power color: Orange-red.
Your power symbol: Letter X.
Your power month: October.

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

Pin Cushion - Burgundy

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Colors: Burgundy (Royale Classic, size 10)
Pattern: My own, tightly stuffed with polyester fiberfill
Hook: 1.5 mm (Clover Size 2, US 6)
Date: April 2006

After pinnning one side of the first panel for the closet curtains, I realized the small box in which I stored straight pins wasn't doing it for me. I needed something that would be easier to pull a single pin out of and stick pins into. So I crocheted a pin cushion with one of my handy-dandy Clover Soft Touch Thread Crochet Hooks! I used it yesterday and it was just what I needed!

Size: Large
Colors: Regal Red (Patons Devine)
Pattern: Flattering Jacket free pattern (Number 668) published by Lion Brand
Hook: K
Date: April 2006

patonsdevineregalred.jpg I substituted Patons Devine for Lion Brand Homespun, used a K hook, and followed the directions for a Large size (taking into consideration that I needed a Large-XLarge and my gauge is loose). The sweater is a little big on me. Now if I was taller (I'm almost 5 feet 3 inches) and thinner (I'm not telling), it would look much better on me - more like the model in the photo on the pattern web page. Regal Red is a blue-ish red with bits of black - not bright orangy-red.

Sewing setup in my craft room

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This is the "sewing setup" in the craft room. As you can see, yarn is trying to take over the entire room. If I get hooked on sewing, fabric will enter the fray and there will be no hope.

The ironing board is set to a sitting-down height for me (good for pinning edges). The little television behind the ironing board is a small black and white TV Bill bought years ago. I watched most of the NASCAR Cup race (which Tony Stewart won!) on it while piddling around Sunday.

I still have not finished the first panel of my closet curtains - but I will tonight! The top curtain rod pocket and the bottom hem are left to do (photo above).

Since Bill cooks dinner a majority of nights (like 99%!), I find I usually have 1 hour to work on this project, more if I don't run an errand, talk on the phone, or post a blog entry...

Curtain panels - In progress

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The sewing machine hates me. I know that's kinda strong, but I really think it does. Or, maybe it senses my fear.


Cut one strip to 14 inches wide by 8 inches long for the top piece of this first panel.

On the very first seam for the pocket, the sewing machine choked when the needle tried to go over a pin. Apparently, the pin was too fat. So, I removed the pin. Then the needle refused to go up and down no matter what I did for about 30 minutes...until I accidentally touched the knob on the wheel, realized it was lose, and tightened it.

Good to go, I thought. No, not yet. The thread broke. And broke. And broke. For another 10 minutes while I threaded and rethreaded after each break. Then, I removed and reinserted the bobbin. Lossened and tightened the knob on the wheel. Removed the needle to check whether there was a sharp edge in the hole (a troubleshooting suggestion in the sewing machine manual) and struggled with putting it back in the right way (correct: flat side to the right). When I tried the troubleshooting suggestion to reset the number of stitches (I closely followed the directions in the manual), it worked. I had missed a step when I originally adjusted that setting (without checking the manual).

One seam finally made for the curtain rod pocket at the top, and the second. Then, a call to Mom to ask "How do I sew 2 pieces together? How do I keep the 1/2-inch seam straight? Iron it first? How?" ... "Put the right sides together, and there's a 1/2-inch mark next to the needle..." ... "Oh." I may need a sewing machine class! She then told me to do the pocket after seaming the left/right sides of the panel (so the pocket isn't sewn closed when the side seams are made). Ooops...I'll deal with that later.

After sewing the second strip to the first strip, I decided I needed better measuring and cutting tools. Any excuse to go to Michaels Craft Store (closer to me than Jo-Ann Fabrics) is a good one.

I brought home: another skein of Patons Devine in Regal Red so I can finish the Flattering Jacket (sweater), a 6x24-inch quilting ruler, a 12x18-inch cutting mat (for the rotary cutter Mom gave me when I wanted to teach myself to quilt), more bobbins (the spares were rusty), long flat-head thin pins, a fabric eraser, fabric scissors (to leave on the ironing board), short scissors for cutting thread (to leave next to the sewing machine). And, I could not resist a fat quarter piece of fabric of colorful kitties (which will be added to the 2 purple themed panels) and a larger piece in a Hawaiian theme (which I may use to make a valance for the craft room window).

At 8:00pm last night, I stopped for the evening. My lower back was (and still is) sore from standing at the ironing board while ironing, measuring, and cutting pieces of fabric. The first panel, a yellow-themed one, is about 3/4 done (pictured above). So far...

Curtains for my home office closet

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After my oldest stepson moved out, I moved my computer from the "den" (now the craft room) to his then-empty former bedroom. Bill took the hanging doors off the closet so I could put in 2 file cabinets (which didn't fit with the doors). It's been about 10-11 years now...

Over the past 1 1/2 years, I've thought about hanging two hand-painted bamboo curtains across the closet opening, but eBay and Google searches didn't yield anything I liked enough.

I got the idea to sew curtains instead from a variety of home design shows on television. The idea stuck, but action is another thing altogether...

Last weekend while organizing the linen closet, I found a set of sheer white panels that we no longer used - so I hung them across the closet opening to get a feel for what it would be like to have something hanging there. I liked the "something" but not the white sheers.

Joann Fabrics' 99¢ sale on fat quarters drew me in this morning. (Fat quarters are pieces of fabric cut to about 18 inches x about 22 inches.) I spent 2 hours picking out 40 different fabric patterns to make 8 patchwork-like panels in 4 color themes (red, yellow/orange/brown, green, purple) to hang at the closet entrance. Instead of combining the 8 panels to make 4 or 2 panels, I'll keep the 8 panels separate so I'll have the option of hanging them a variety of ways. For example:

    2 red, 2 yellow, 2 green, 2 purple
  • 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green, 2 purple, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 red
  • 2 purple, 1 green, 2 yellow, 1 green, 2 red
  • etc.

Of course, making curtains means using the sewing machine again (see first and only machine sewing project so far), which makes me nervous (because I'm a recovering perfectionist who has to overcome possible failure or producing a half-assed product due to not being well-practiced at machine sewing). Way back in September 2003, I was hot to trot about learning to quilt...but haven't done anything more than get quilting books from Mom, buy a few more, and look at the pretty pictures. Someday though...

I've now organized the 4 color themes of 10 fabric patterns into the order I want to use, stacked bags and large plastic containers of yarn against the craft room wall, cleared off and dusting the sewing desk, setup the sewing machine, setup the top of the vertical file cabinet (which stores yarn) as an area I can measure and cut fabric strips, brought the ironing board and iron from the garage (very rarely used in this house) into the craft room, dusted them and setup the iron board.

And, whew, I'm ready to start making the curtains...tomorrow. Tonight, Bill and I are going to watch the latest Netflix arrival: Jarhead. (Any excuse not to use the sewing machine is a good one!)

[April 28, 2006 update] Check out the finished closet curtains.

The Tommy Turtle design header has been on this blog since October 2004. I thought I'd change it! My son took this photo of me and Cleo as I was crocheting when he visited us in December last year. The Favorite, err, Cleo is my constant companion. She even tries to help me with yarn on occasion!

Sketch of Cheryl

About Cheryl

Enjoys crocheting, gardening, cats, NASCAR (especially Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch!), reading, photography, snorkeling in Kailua-Kona with sea turtles, Sizzler's Mega Bacon Cheeseburgers, hot and iced decaf coffee, dark chocolate, color (yarn, fabric), playing around with web technologies - not necessarily in that order! Still very much a beginner with quilting, knitting, and sewing. Donates crocheted lap blankets.

List maker, detail-oriented, organized, leans heavily toward perfectionism. ISTJ. Libra.

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Cat playing with strand of yarn.


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