Grandma’s Potholders

My grandmother, June Glaser, kind of was a big deal. She crochet and sewed like a madwoman. I however, was more interested in worms, bugs and playing outside. Oh sure, Grandma made cool stuff, curly cues and little dresses for me, but I was a tomboy. My favorite was when she fixed the hell* out of my jeans. Then I could go ride bikes and look for frogs and get dirty. She had all boys, all sons and my uncles and my dad taught me that life was fun getting dirty.

*literally fixed the hell out of my jeans. like, satan himself would have had trouble getting through her patchwork.

When I got older, I started to appreciate her craft more. My brain suddenly realized that she had made things, by her own hand. That was important. She made herself skirts mostly and a bit of crochet here and there. She taught me how to chain stitch in crochet, but I think I was like 6 and again, more interested in climbing trees. But there was one thing, one mountain of thing that she made that every single family member had to the point that I was shocked when I realized not every household in the world had them…

Crochet potholders.

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a meager few of my collection…

She had a ball of yarn and a potholder going wherever she went. She had a literal stack of them, taller than me that she would give away to everyone. When I moved out, question 1 was “What color potholders do you want?”

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the answer was red and black. my kitchen was adorable. 

Not only are they the most beautiful potholders ever, they are functional. I’ve seen people use inferior potholders and burn themselves. Not so with Grandma’s!

I never really thought about replicating them until I was at a bridal shower for a friend and she got a cast iron skillet and…ready? A granny square. It was the “potholder”. Like, the gift giver said it was the potholder. For the skillet. Raise your hand if you know how amazingly hot a cast iron skillet gets? Now raise your hand if you would use a single layer granny square (with the holes and double crochets, mind you) to pick up said skillet. Jokes on you, if you did that, you wouldn’t have a hand to raise because it would be BURNED THE HELL OFF.

One of my pet peeves with crafting is function and form. Yes, I want something pretty, but it has to function as intended. I’m not making an apron with holes in it, I want a sturdy apron. I’m not making a blanket that is super short, I need a big enough blanket. I’m not putting glitter and stuff in my soap, I want it to just be soap. It has to have a purpose. I tell everyone that I will repair any gifts I give them because I want them to be used. Beat them up. Get em dirty.

So I took a good hard look at the potholders.

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starting chain?

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sewn together?

wpid-20140716_112527.jpgsee how it folds?

I noodled around with it for a while, racking my brain. These are some well loved potholders. It looked like they were worked in a round. And then I remembered:

THE INTERNET.

You know? The amazing interwebs that have more than just pictures of cats? I went over to the crochet group I follow on Facebook and armed with pictures and whatever information I had and in, I kid you not, 40 seconds I had like 8 replies. Three videos and several links. I’m okay with patterns, so I went with the written link. Oh man, it’s easy as pie.

CROCHET FOLDED POTHOLDER. Now, I prefer Grandma’s Magic Awesome Potholders That Are Better Than Yours, so that’s what I’m calling them. Judging that the pattern is pretty much everywhere (unbeknownst to me) I feel okay with that. I’ve already made 3 and I am working on a fourth.

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angie helped. as usual.

*Aside, ever since Angie got her bad teeth pulled, this happens:

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LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m yarn bombing. With potholders. I’ve already attacked two of my friends. Third one is getting bombed tonight.

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stitch faster!!!!!

The pattern is an excellent yarn eater, it takes about a 1oo yards? I’m guessing. I timed how long they take to make and it is about an hour and 40 minutes. So goodbye, yarn hoard! Hello potholder bombs! I hope you take a chance and make at least one of these, they are amazingly useful and hold up well to abuse and washing!

Another Jeep Load

I went again to help unload some things from my grandmother’s former house. She has passed and for a while my brother was living there. But now, the house must be sold and we are all flailing to get it sorted. I’ve mentioned it briefly a few times, I am saving the majority of pictures for the winter, when I will have ample time to sit inside and examine them thoroughly. But I thought I would share, what I hope is, my last Jeep load of things.

wpid-20140724_122817.jpgmy mother’s (she has passed) paintings of birds on ceramic. she did a ton of these, hoping to sell them for $5 back in the 70’s. the detail is insane. one day, i’ll show you paintings she did on eggshells.

wpid-20140724_125928.jpga drawing my mother did of my father. if you look close, you can tell his eyes are blue.

wpid-20140724_125439.jpgplates and mugs, engraved with my name, my brother and my sister’s (my sister has passed) I try not to forget my sister, even though I never knew her.

wpid-20140724_125642.jpga very dusty picture of my brother and I. my brother often has that far away “wish I was doing anything else” look. he still has it.

wpid-20140724_130155.jpgwords of wisdom…from the beatles and grandma. she used to write little notes and thoughts and tape them in her cupboards.

wpid-20140724_130130.jpgwho are these people? i’m not sure.

wpid-20140724_130258.jpgsome of my grandmother’s notes on our relations

wpid-20140724_130205.jpgabout her pets, I never knew Barney, but I remember Spoons and Stein. She neglected to mention that Spoons was often referred to as “Poodie” and was the laziest creature to walk the earth. And Stein was the master of drool and could drag a human child via leash. Stein was a fun dog. Cabana (aka Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong) was her last dog, inherited from a friend. Cabana was put down last year, but that dog had a great life. Fat as a house. I think she got a waffle with peanut butter every morning. You know what she would do? My grandma would make TWO bags of popcorn, per day, for the birds outside. TWO.

wpid-20140724_130742.jpgthis has a story. my great grandfather had a friend who was dying and trying to finish his coffin on time. His friend offered this violin if he should pass before the coffin was finished and my great grandfather could finish it. the coffin was finished and we have the violin.

wpid-20140724_130357.jpgmy grandmother wrote out her life story. on whole two pages. she forgot to mention the time she got mad at a crossword puzzle, quietly turned it over and wrote “CRAP.” on the back of it. or that when she would laugh really hard she would snort.

And for now, it all sits in the basement. Eventually I’ll get it all organized. I’m sure you all know, you’ve been there. But, for example, a picture of my grandma’s dog, Spoons. Do I need to save that? Should I save it? There’s 100 of them. What to do? What to do? Saving it for a snowy day, then I’ll make some decisions.

My First Crochet Necklace

This is a long post, with a lot of rambling, but bear with me guys.

Before the wedding (sorry, right now everything is either before wedding or after wedding. should I adopt a BW and AW? Ha!) I went shopping with my maid of honor, just a casual affair in the town I used to live in. If you want a really great place to shop and you are in Illinois, Geneva is great. Many of the stores focus on local artists, incredible finds, and unique items. I don’t care if they are all vanity shops (meaning: operated at a loss by rich housewives, you’d be surprised how often that happens) it’s a lot of fun to shop there. As you may or may not be aware, I am doing by best to put my money where my mouth is. I am trying to avoid big box stores and buy from adults. Ahem. Adults who get paid.

However, spending money is really not my best skill. Arguing myself out of buying something? I’m the best. Unless I really, really want it, I don’t buy it. If I really want it, I’ll drop a pile of money on it. So I kind of forced myself to really look around and at least try to buy something. There was a lot of jewelry that was made locally and it was really beautiful, but either not my style or way out of my budget. So I dug. And then I found these babies:

wpid-20140706_134939.jpgthe ashtray was my grandmother’s

Little tiny sea shells! Hold the presses. I love shells. I would wager that I have, hands down, the most privately owned sea shells in the State of Illinois (we’re landlocked aside from Lake Michigan, for you folks not familiar). How? Well my very very dear Great Grandma Bertha Lance (aka Birdie):

wpid-2014-07-08-07.25.19.jpg.jpegshe was a firecracker

I briefly mentioned her in a previous post. This woman was a major inspiration when I was a little girl. I had never met a woman so carefree and so absolutely amazing. Granted, I was probably 6 or 7 when she passed at 90something, but I have yet to meet anyone even in the running as her equal. She lived in Florida with probably around a thousand cats and obviously that fine fellow there. My memories of her are nothing but laughter and fun. She brought me the cool toys, the boy toys that my other relatives wouldn’t get me. She brought me sea shells from Florida. When we’d go down to visit, we would hunt shells, lizards and in general, start a ruckus. She collected creepy clown dolls and did macrame and other crafts. I never had so much fun then when all of us, great grandma, grandma, grandpa and my uncles would all get together and just tell jokes. So sea shells remind me of her. I have several large conch shells, a million sand dollars, two dried sea horses (which now I regret a bit, but I still have them. I was like 5, ok?) and I can’t even tell you how many jars of small shells. Jars. All from our adventures. In her honor, I wish to tell you, the Great Grandma Birdie Joke. It is NSFW. You might not get the slag.

Ahem. Ready?

“I still have my cherry, but it’s pushed so far back I use it as a tail light.”

90 years old, people. 90 years old. Do not discredit older people. They are hilarious.

Anyway, back to the point, sort of, those earrings had to be mine. They were in my price range and I took them home and wore the immediately. Love them.

Back to the necklace portion of this saga, I wanted to have a go at making my own jewelry. I wasn’t planning on moving mountains, I was originally thinking something with like flat metal pieces, kind of like coins, simply crochet into a necklace. That’s all. Keep it simple, stupid. Well I didn’t find any of the type of beads I had in mind, but…

wpid-20140706_140121.jpgjust what i need, more f’ing sea shells

OF COURSE I BOUGHT THEM. DUUUUUHHHHH. I am such a damn hoarder.

So, the plan was like this, string the shells on the crochet thread (it is lace weight 0) using an embroidery needle. Then I chained 20, looped in a shell, chained another 20, repeat til desired length.

wpid-20140706_135115.jpgall my goodies

wpid-20140706_160459.jpgdistance the shells are apart

wpid-20140706_160520.jpgbig stupid looking knot

wpid-20140706_160427.jpgfinished product!

wpid-20140708_174031.jpgmy stupid face, making a stupid face.

I really love it! It will always remind me of Grandma Birdie and I made it. My very first try! I couldn’t be more pleased. Beats the stupid coin necklace I was going to make. Thanks for sticking around for all that! Have a great day!

Tunic Tantrums

I made a tunic! Whoot!

wpid-20140223_203848.jpgthis is a representation of how annoyed I was by the end of it.

Ok, truth time. I really, really like it. It fits great, it’s adorable, but the pattern and the instructions gave me fits! I did learn a few things, which I am going to share with you guys of course.

wpid-20140223_163313.jpgit did not include a pattern. so i had to cut my own. freestyle!

This set of instructions did not include a pattern, but as it was basically squares and rectangles, I managed all right. I just drew a few lines in the appropriate areas and cut it out. Thankfully, the bust was measured out so I knew, for sure, I was a small. The only sewing tip I ever apparently picked up from my grandmother was MAKE IT TEN SIZES TOO BIG JUST IN CASE. I was able to argue myself out of upping it a size.

wpid-20140223_165425.jpgI need to rename the sewing machine. it’s name is Rachel. No offense to Rachel’s.

The instructions included diagrams, which I found largely unhelpful.

wpid-20140223_170357.jpgyou can tell my skill level by the completely not straight seam.

wpid-20140223_185757.jpg“mom? did the book poop on the rug? is that why you are so mad?”

But I did learn things! Yeah! For one, I learned why there was a paint can opener included in my grandmother’s sewing cabinet.

wpid-20140223_180922.jpgJune Dorothy was way too practical to have put this here for no reason…

wpid-20140223_180844.jpgohhhhhh, that, that just makes too much sense.

wpid-20140223_180907.jpgeasy as pie way to turn things inside right. I knew my instinct to take “anything near the sewing machine” was the best bet.

When I first got the machine, I found a walnut picker thing. I’m sorry, I don’t know exactly what they are called, but I know you use them to pick walnuts out of shells.

wpid-20140223_180939.jpgone of these. ya’ll know it wasn’t there to pick walnuts.

wpid-20140223_180956.jpgBOOM! goes right through the sticker on thread spools.

So that is just fantastic right there. Anyway, more on the Tunic Tantrum…

wpid-20140223_171823.jpgthe back. this is how i really felt.

wpid-20140223_181522.jpgwhy would grandma have a million small weights and a 6″ ruler…oh…oooohhhhhh…

Finally, I stopped taking pictures and got to work. All in all, it took about 5 hours of tantrums, but I finished it! And it looks cute as pie!

wpid-20140223_203848.jpgsorry, angry face. long night.

I would post some close ups on the details, but I really, really did not do that neat of a job. It looks really cute, but if you get up close you can see where I should have hid some stitches there, or sewn a little straighter here. I might go back and fiddle with it, but I AM NOT DETERRED!

wpid-20140224_175035.jpgummm, yeah, I bought two more fabrics for two more tops…

I did forget thread. D’oh!

Goodbye Athena 2000.

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I’m listening to a sad song today:

ohhhhhhh say goodbye

ohhhhhhhhh say goodbye

Unfortunately, Athena 2000, my late grandmother June’s sewing machine had to be retired. May she rest in piece in the basement. I collected her manuals, tools and accessories and wrapped them up neatly in a box labeled June Dorothy Glaser’s Athena 2000. I’m a sucker for nostalgia. In my grandmother’s honor I left notes for whomever would reopen the box, including dates and reasons.

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   do it for the best

wpid-20140112_181420.jpgin grandma’s craft room

wpid-20140112_194348.jpgfirst brought home

wpid-FB_IMG_13895793210931458.jpgso excited that she lit up for me

wpid-20140112_201448.jpgshe still turned on and tried to sew

wpid-20140112_191805.jpgher cabinet

wpid-20140112_200753.jpgher pedal, of course grandma labeled it with the company name

wpid-20140113_090315.jpgher manuals

wpid-20140113_090523.jpgher bill of sale, December 20, 1976

wpid-20140112_202154.jpgoh, say goodbye

wpid-20140112_194437.jpgi’m sorry 😦

The repair shop informed me that her SPACE AGE TECHNOLOGY

wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-01-17-10.57.00.jpg.jpgas seen here

was no longer in production and was dreadfully out of date. It would take piles of money to maybe get her up and running and I would be forever in troubles. Oh, I tried. I fiddled and fussed and stomped and begged for her to work. But alas, may she rest in piece. Her cabinet will stay in my craft room and hold my new sewing machine, Rachel

wpid-20140117_145837.jpgrachel? we go from greek goddesses to the chick from friends. ‘MERICA

whom my fiance has promised to make a label that says June Dorothy so she can be renamed.

I forgot to tell you that you’re just not good

I forgot to tell you that you’re just not good

not good

do it for the rest

do it for the best

do it for the rest

do it for the the best

I forgot to tell you that you’re just not good

You’re not good

She forgot

She forgot