Monthly Archives: December 2014

FedExFamilyHouse, Happy Birthday!

Here’s the official information about the FedExFamilyHouse.  Yes, it is all one word.

FedExFamilyHouse Logo


The FedExFamilyHouse mission is to be a home away from home for out-of-town families who come to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for treatment. Designed with families in mind and using ‘best practice’ examples from sister institutions across the country, the facility offers a home-like setting with an open floor plan, gathering places for family groups, teens and children as well as secluded areas for quiet reflection. FedExFamilyHouse is a comfortable retreat from life in the hospital. FedExFamilyHouse is a landmark that exemplifies corporate citizenship, a genuine sense of hospitality and heartfelt concern for Le Bonheur patients and blessed with two wonderful children’s medical hospitals, St. Jude and Le Bonheur. Both provide care and services to the children at no cost.

What does this have to do with crafting?

I use to volunteer at St. Jude teaching knitting to patients and their families.   It was a great place to be.  When that program ended, several of us decided to stay together and find another place to continue volunteering.  You knitters know there are lots of long term benefits to learning the craft.  We love encouraging new knitters and supplying materials and tools for experienced knitters and crocheters.

Fireplace room at the FedExFamilyHouse

Fireplace room at the FedExFamilyHouse

We found the FedExFamilyHouse. And we love it here.  It’s a very welcoming environment, calm and quiet, like sitting in the living room of a very upscale grandma.  We teach anyone and everyone who is interested in knitting, including staff, patients and families of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital to knit.  We have met and taught families from Croatia, China, Honduras, Guatemala, & Brazil. It’s comical attempting to teach across language barriers.  Families from all the southern and some of the midwestern states have stayed at the House.

And for us knitters, it is the most wonderful place to sit, knit, teach and visit with whomever drops by. I love being there every week.  You are welcome to join us any Thursday (except holidays).  No pressure to teach, just come sit and knit with us.

The FedExFamilyHouse is celebrating a big birthday this week.

CN, North America’s Railroad is matching one-time gifts up to $5,000.

Two things I decided early in starting Slanted Stitches as a business.   It would not disrupt my time at the FedExFamilyHouse and that I would give from the ‘first fruits.’   I have been donating the proceeds from every tenth bag sold to a charity we have been supporting as a family.  It wasn’t something I had planned to talk about.   But I am more than happy to toot the horn for the people that work here and the organization.  And because of this matching grant from CN, I decided to tithe next year’s ‘guessimate’ proceeds in advance.  It’s a drop in the bucket, but every drop counts.

I can not imagine going through all that these families face with their kids, far from home, in a big city, away from friends and not at work.  Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the FedExFamilyHouse are a blessing.

We are getting bombarded with fundraising mail right now.  I’m not sure if giving nationwide is down compared to other years.  It is clear that people are hurting in all kinds of ways.  I would encourage you to find an organization you believe in and support it as many ways as you can.



Failed the Marshmallow Test

Most days I honestly think if I had been in the Marshmallow experiment

Marshmallow Test

Marshmallow Test

as a kid, I would have done well.  Me, who am I fooling.  I would have swallowed that marshmallow as soon as the instructor left the room!  There are lots of videos online of kids in such a test.  They are cute and funny.

It use to start with Halloween candy.  Fortunately, no kid at home and few kids in the neighborhood means no excuses to buy the big bags. Now, temptation doesn’t start until Thanksgiving. Then the month of holiday parties and get-togethers, followed by birthdays in January and February.  It’s just too much exposure.

It’s not a critical thing for everyone else. But I pay dearly for the winter long self-indulgence. All that sugar, fat and white flour flares up chronic inflammation in my neck and shoulders.  Not the kind that a good massage can fix.  It’s the kind that strong pain medicine, doctors or physical therapists can’t fix.  Usually, I am good enough with self-control, the pain is tolerable and manageable.  This year, it was not.  This year, it all hit last week.  It flared into a brain numbing irrational short-circuited loop.  I finally made a good decision and just went to bed.  Slept it off for twelve hours which worked.  Sort of a shutdown and reboot.

I know the old culprits:  Things that cause inflammation.

  1. cold weather
  2. no exercise
  3. not eating right
  4. overworking the same repetitive motions (sewing, knitting and computer)

Boring stuff.  All things I can easily remedy.  Most of the time I’ve been able to sail through the holidays without any payback by keeping those culprits in check.

Instagram, AltonBrown, Cookies

Instagram, AltonBrown, Cookies

The new culprit.  Maybe this is an easy scapegoat, and definitely not expected, social media.  I started using Pinterest and Instagram this year.  I don’t follow food related posts in Pinterest.  So process of elimination…Instagram.  Y’all post too many pretty pictures of yummy foods.  Yeah, I’m gullible seeing lots pictures of yummy foods.

Good bye, AltonBrown, TestKitchen, Ina_Garten and SmittenKitchen.

And if you think I’m still being irrational.  You’re probably right.  But from reading books like Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely’s book.  I am also right.  Dan chats about topics in the book here.

And I am dealing with the old culprits too.

Road Trip to Austin, Still in Autumn

I am finally back in studio mode.

The slanted stitches shop will be updated this afternoon with the newest small bags. One of them is already on a podcast (more later). Here’s a sneak peak:

Slanted Stitches, Autumn Flowers Small Bag

Autumn Flowers Small Bag, in wristlet style

Slanted Stitches, Autumn Flowers Small Bag

Autumn Flowers Small Bag, in handbag style

You’ve seen the iterations. This one has been road tested. I really like this size. It’s big enough for one skein size shawl or socks. If you don’t mind a stuffed bag, you can hold two 100 gram skeins. A pattern folded in half fits just right. Expect to more colors. Oh, and you can convert it from a hand bag to a wristlet.

OK back to the road trip…
I got enough sewing done while at my parents home over the Thanksgiving weekend, one day at home when I got one bag finished and decided I wouldn’t schlep the rest to Austin. Ten hour drive before and after which included the one hundred mile gauntlet of I35 road construction means I wanted a fun day.

Summer in Angers Shawl, designed by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Summer in Angers Shawl, designed by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Since Austin was a one day destination, I took a chance to see if Elizabeth Green Musselman, Dark Matter Knits, would be interested in meeting at the IMAX to see Interstellar. Wouldn’t you assume with a name like Dark Matter, she might be interested in a sci-fi movie? Fan girl (lurking, not active in the forum) from episode one of her podcasts, means she wouldn’t know me at all. But I did test knit her Summers In Angers shawl. It really is one of my favorite shawls to wear. Hopefully, she’d remember me from that. She did remember.

We had a great time. I gave her the one bag I finished of the new size, just happened to be a good autumn color for her. I guess she liked it, because she chatted about it in her last podcast!

Thanks Elizabeth!


View of downtown Austin


Drive-by Dallas downtown

The weather was very grey, cold, and threaten rain the whole trip. No pretty sunrises or sunsets this trip.



2015 Knitting Bucket List

I’ve been thinking about next year and decided to change it from goals to a bucket list.
A bucket list seems like less pressure.

How I came up with the list:

  • What new thing do I want to learn?
  • What big project do I want to accomplish?
  • What do I need to enhance existing wardrobe for summer and winter?
  • What charity knitting am I doing?
  • Re-organize Ravelry pattern queue.  Where do they fit in my needs list?
  • What yarns (at least two from each, the Northwest trip, at SSK and older stash) do I already have that will work with the above?

I will be taking into account at least 3 fiber festivals I plan to attend, Oxford Fiber Arts Festival in Oxford, MS, Stitches South in Nashville, SSK in Nashville (wait listed), and any other that happens during a road trip.  My shopping list is narrowed to socks and linen.

New skill:

  • Color work
    I’ll start small with hats and mittens, which I do need for winter.
    They can also be for gifts.

Big Project:


Hanne Falkenberg’s Mermaid jacket

Sandra McIver's Shades of Grey Swirl sweater

Sandra McIver’s Shades of Grey Swirl sweater

Sandra McIver's Sheer Beauty Swirl sweater

Sandra McIver’s Sheer Beauty Swirl sweater

  • Hanne Falkenberg’s Mermaid sweater jacket, if I’m brave
  • *Sandra McIver, one of the Swirl sweaters* see post:2015 Update to Knitting Bucket List. Sadly this one gets crossed off the list. 




Need to enhance wardrobe:

Warm weather needs:

  • Shawl or scarf in cotton in natural→Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Little Arrowhead shawl, Thrift Cotton Izod [old stash]
  • Shawl or scarf in linen in ?→Elizabeth Green Musselman’s Summer in Angers, ?
  • sweater or shrug in cotton in white→?
  • sweater or shrug in linen or silk→?, thrift silk Greg Norman [old stash]

Cold weather needs:

  • Cowl in black and white→Inpira cowl pattern, use Schoppel-Wolle Lace [old stash]
  • Cowl in purple or red→Martina Behm’s Viajante, use thrift shop stash (silk Max Studio) [old stash]
  • Shawl in purple→?, Mountain Colors [Northwest]
  • Shawl in purple→Laura Linneman’s , Must Stash Yarn Himalaya [SSK]
  • hat and fingerless mittens in purple→Dream in Color and Wandering Wool [SSK]
  • hat and fingerless mittens→Mary Jane Mucklestone, maybe my first handspun
  • socks, socks and more socks in Ravelry queue [Northwest and SSK and old stash]

Charity or gifts:

  • Participate in the guild sweater KAL starting in January (child size sweater for Women’s Exchange)
  • Hats for the guild (Women’s Exchange or Holy Communion church)
  • Hats for SSK (just in case I get in)
  • Socks for family
  • One of Susan B. Anderson’s animals, giraffe and bunny patterns