Friday, October 24, 2008

Colleen Kueter 1968-2008

I didn’t know Colleen personally but after reading about her and her life I am sitting here with a lump in my throat and a deep sense of sadness.

I learned about her from a notice of her passing on the homepage of a website I belong to called Ravelry. It's for knitting, crocheting and fiber enthusiasts. I didn't know her, but I feel like I could have known her…turns out we have so much in common.

I found out she was only 40 years old and died of an aggressive form of liver cancer on October 17, only two months after having been diagnosed. She had two children 5 and 2 yrs old who both had birthdays just weeks before she died.

I read her blog Spiffy Knits and found that she loved to knit and dye fiber and spin her own yarn. After reading portions of her blog I could feel her excitement about her yarn dyeing and spinning and how much she enjoyed being a WAHM (work at home mom). She was also an "older" mommy like me - she had her children when she was 35 and 38 years old and they are almost the same ages as my two children.

She left the corporate world to do what she loved - work with fiber by spinning, dyeing and knitting it under the name "Spiffy Knits". Just last year, almost a year to the day when she would die from liver cancer, she formed a little internet business called "Tiny Lady Cooperative" with two other women so that she could sell her hand-dyed yarn and fiber.

Through the magic of Google I was able to see her Obituary, her LinkedIn page, her Amazon wish list and her family's Flickr page. I saw photos from when her two children were born (2003, 2006), of her working on renovating her house and re-modeling her kitchen. I could tell from her smile and light in her eyes that she was an energetic, happy person. Her wish list on Amazon gave a glimpse into where her interests were and what was important to her at different times in her life - it varied from books on "How to Be Your Own Literary Agent" - marked in 2004 to "Nourishing Foods for Cancer Survivors" marked days after she was diagnosed in August 2008. In between those dates were books about motherhood and knitting; knitting patterns, books about color and about dyeing with natural dyes grown yourself. She seemed to have a zest for life, that much seems painfully clear.

My heart breaks to think of her family without their mommy and their wife. Her little boy, the two year old, will likely not remember her at all. My son will also be two in January and having that point of reference is almost too much. It all makes me want to cry. I cried on the way from my office to the train thinking about it all.

Her story moved me enough that I am going to make a donation to the college fund that has been set up for her two children. I feel like that is the least I could do for someone that I didn’t know but sounded so much like me and someone I wish I had met. There is a fundraiser going on at Celebrating Colleen organized by the internet cooperative she formed with two friends last year.

I guess I'm hoping that word will get out and maybe the fundraising activities will be successful and at least her children will have some sort of college fund of substance for them since they won't have their mother.

UPDATE November 6 : I just found out that I won one of the raffles I entered in Colleen's fundraiser! I'm so excited - check out the gorgeous basket of sock yarn . Even more exciting is the fundraiser brought in $12K for Colleen's children's college fund - I'm so happy that I was able to participate and it makes me feel so good to know that so many people cared about her and her children to try and help.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Gift of Nothing

I know in my last post I reminded everyone that the holidays are coming, so start repurposing those colorful magazine pages and make bows for all those gifts that you will be giving in a few months.

However, I really am anti-consumerism. I don't like the excess, over-the-top gift giving that is common in the United States. The idea of having to save for Christmas gifts all year long or worse yet, go into debt in order to buy gifts so that one can abide by an implied standard by giving a certain amount of gifts really turns my stomach. And it makes me sad too.

I try to stick to a tight budget and get a lot of pleasure from making gifts or finding gifts during the year and putting them aside for Christmas gifts (this works great as long as you don't 1) forget what you bought 2) forget where you put what you bought).

Last year we gave my daughter a terrific book that I found on the Mutts website (I love Mutts! It's a wonderfully thoughtful and pertinent comic strip drawn by Patrick McDonnell. I love his messages and the artwork really speaks to me as well. The characters are sweet and wonderful too!)

When I came across this book review for "The Gift of Nothing" I thought I would share it here on my blog. Maybe it will find its way on your gift list this Christmas season - you can find it here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Magazine Bows

This lovely gift bow was made from a page of a magazine - can you believe it? Sometimes I see really colorful, pretty ads or pictures in magazines and think "what could I make out of this? It seems too nice to throw away". Well, now I have a project, just need to find the time to give this a try.

While I haven't tried it yet maybe you can - check out this link for an easy tutorial. I also borrowed the picture from that website too. I think this would be fun to try with kids too - they could find the pictures, or put the strips on the brads? Minimal sharp objects or sticky materials to worry about.

Get going - the holidays are coming!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tree Smart pencils

From my trusty "Living Green 365 Ways to Make a Difference" calendar (email edition, of course). If you have to use a pencil why not try one of these out?

"Tree Smart makes pencils directly out of old newspapers, without any mulching or chemicals. They wrap the paper around the graphite and bind it with an adhesive that dries hard as wood, so the pencil is easy to sharpen. Funky-looking, too.

Do your part: One sheet of recycled newsprint makes four pencils. More information is available at"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


“When we destroy nature, we diminish ourselves and impoverish our children.”

—Robert Kennedy Jr.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Oh My Goodness

Uh oh, what is this all about? Hmmmmmm, it looks like an awful lot of yarn.... Lorna's Laces hand-dyed yarn to be exact. You can read all about the soft, woolly delights in my knitting blog.

In addition to that adventure this morning I also bumped into the last jerk - er, I mean man, that I dated before meeting my now-Hubby. I was with my knitting friends having a late breakfast before heading over to Lorna's. I was wearing typical Saturday morning attire - jeans, t-shirt and a hooded sweater. No make-up and the onset of a pimple rearing its head on my chin. So, imagine my sheer delight - more like horror - when I looked up from my cheddar broccoli quiche and noticed him sitting at the table right in front of me. With a wedding ring on. With his skinny wife (who, coincidence or not has short, dark curly hair just like me.... hmmmm....) After I got over the shock of course all I could think about was the pimple, the no-makeup and the extra 20 lbs I was carrying since I saw him last. Especially since one of the last things he said to me was "your body just doesn't match your mind" which was apparently a reference to my sharp-as-nails intellect cough, cough and my, let's say, rubenesque figure. All class, this man was.

Anyway, we clearly both noticed each other but thankfully neither acknowledged it. I was glad to see that he finally had a decent haircut - must be the new wife's influence - as well as a double chin. Guess his body is starting to catch up to his inflated ego and intellect as well.