Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sock Club #1... Again

A little while ago I wrote about the first pair of socks I knitted for the Twisted Yarns Sock Club. If you didn't catch it before you can see it here.

At that time I could not show you what they looked like. Now I have a new camera so...TA DA here they are...

Definitely a stretch for my knitting skills and I learned a lot about how to keep track of where you are in a stitch pattern that is sixteen rows long.

One thing I don't like about them is that my pale skin showing through the dark red lace pattern is relatively unattractive.

To test this theory I made another pair, same pattern just different yarn.

This time I chose a sock weight yarn by Cascade in a creamy white.

Here's how this second pair turned out:

Very successful I think... even with a few messed up stitches.

The good part about doing the same complex pattern a second time is that I got a chance to use everything I had learned from the first pair in the second pair. I even felt confident enough to do the fancy heel that I had eliminated in the first go round.
Now I am well prepared for the reveal of the next entry in this year long journey of sock knitting madness.
I wonder what it will be this time?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

At Sweet Sadie's

When I visit a restaurant I not only enjoy the food and drink but I also note the ambiance of the place. Things like comfortable seating, adequate table space and interesting things to view or read all add to my dining pleasure.

For some reason I have been designated as the official seasonal decorator for Sweet Sadie's and I am very much enjoying the work. About once a quarter I will be switching out seasonal deocrations for others more appropriate to the new season.
At Christmas I got to set up and decorate a tree even though I did not have one at home. I set out little poinsettias on most of the tables, hung wreathes in the windows and strung all of my Christmas lights around the walls and windows. I also had a christmas quilt laid along one of the half walls separating the eating area from the corridor to the rest rooms and ordering area.
For Valentines Day I added some red themed wreathes and a purple heart quilt I made many years ago.
At this time I have a double Irish Chain quilt displayed as well as little glass flower pots with Daffodils in them.
More permanent additions have been pillows added to the long benches, a magazine bin with current magazines from the Kingwood library's patron donations and several copies of old family photos.

The pictures above are of my great great grand aunt Amelia (I think) and a family gathering in Antigua of my grandfather's family. I hope to add more photos as time goes on of other family members and maybe those of some of our patrons' families.

My biggest surprise in dong this is how many male patrons love the quilts while the women seem to appreciate the magazines and flowers.

Maybe this is a new occupation... or pre-occupation?

Have a good week!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Adding Insult to Injury

Its spring in Texas and that means that the pollen counts are going through the roof. One report is that the pollen counts here are the highest ever recorded here.

Generally that means that EVERYTHING is covered with a layer of chartreuse powder. This powder is supposed to be pine pollen and, even though I have lived most of my life surrounded by pines, I have never seen this stuff until I moved to Texas.

This powder gives every car a layer of dirt that just makes you want to wash your car... daily! If it rains your car can be washed for free or it can then be spotted with the fine powder.

I had just decided to wait out the season when I came out of the house the other day and saw this all over my car:

In about four hours one morning every bird in this part of the world decided to crap all over my car. Not the usual white stuff but some sort of granular brown stuff.

It was thick and sticky and did not fall off at highway speeds. I finally broke down and used a power sprayer to get most of it off the car.

The really strange thing about all this is that only my car, in my immeadiate neighborhood, seems to have been blessed with this bounty. AND it was not repeated later that day or any other day since.

I guess I was lucky.

May your luck happen in a traditional manner this spring like wonderful flowers, chirping birds and other simple peasures.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Six Word Memoirs

There is a story out there that Hemmingway was challenged to write a story of only six words. This is what he came up with:

For Sale - Baby shoes. Never worn.

Those six words do tell a whole story and Smith Magazine was inspired by it to solicit six word memoirs from its readers.

The first compilation of those submissions is a book called 'Not Quite What I was Planning 'and I just returned it to the library as I now have my own copy.

It is one of those books that you dip into every once in a while and get inspired on every page.

One I like is:

Editor. Get it? (can't remember you wrote this one)

That made me laugh out loud.

Others are heartbreaking.

Born with Glaucoma... Fading to Black... (Susan Giutso)

I have, of course, been playing around with what I could use as a six word memoir. So far I have come up with:

Bella, Maria, Paul, Mary, Jane, Alex.

which is a list of some of the people and animals who have been adopted into my home over the years.

Another is:

I shouldn't have said that, again.

which relates to my habit of opening my mouth before thinking about what to say.

I'm sure I can come up with others but until I do I will continue to enjoy my new bathroom book.

Do you have a six word memoir in you?

For the Scrap Lover in You

Got scraps?

Of quilting fabric that is.

Little piles of fabric that are too big to throw/give away or a bunch of fat quarters you have no idea why you acquired them in the first place?

My fabirc sorting goes from yardage to fat quarters to scraps to dog bed filling.

The biggest piles seem associated with fat quarters and scraps.

(Dog bed filling just seems to fly out of here every couple of weeks to those generous souls who make beds for local animal shelters.)

I just came across a web mystery quilt project that will officially start in May. This seems like the a good way to use up some of my scraps in something other than another Chinese Coins quilt for the dogs.

Check out Erik Homemade's Coffee Break ezine for more details.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Poor Babies

After I took a shower this morning I glanced over to the window above the tub to see this very sad sight.

Don't they look pathetic?

Lounging on an old pillow and small doggie bed in front of a window covered in dog spit...what a horrible life they have!!
Of course the window was cleaned yesterday morning and the mess is from just a few hours of me being out of the house, and them in the bathroom, yesterday afternoon.
Its easy to clean the window but I really think I need to make them a long cushion for the window ledge.
An old body pillow covered in doggie fabrics seems like just the right thing for them.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Liberty of London at Target

Although I bought dog toys at Target today (see previous post) I went there to see the new line of Liberty of London items they just started marketing.

Before I go on, please understand that Liberty of London prints are legendary. I even bought some years ago and made it into a dress. I spoke about it earlier here. Although my dress has been washed a zillion times the fabric still maintains its bright colors and wonderful hand.

What I saw at Target today is not the same quality although the prints were wonderful.. The fabrics were thin cottons or polyester and would probably not last through 10 washings without having holes occur
they have lots of other, non-clothing options with the same prints on things like dinner ware, yard tools and BICYCLES!
For a small investment you can a bit of Liberty of London for your space.

Not a bad deal when your expectations have been set correctly.

Another Bad Dog Toy

I was in Target this afternoon and found what I thought would be good chew toys for Kimora and Alex. Alex, as you know, is a huge chewer while Kimora chews, I think, just because Alex does.

I bought two different chew toys by Petstages. They were both advertised for Power Chewers. One was a mini Orka, and the other a mini Barbell Chew. Both boasted of many hours of chewing pleasure.

Pure puffery.

Within two hours both were down to such small bits that I had to get out the vaccum cleaner in order to clean up the mess.

I got each of them for about $4.00 each while Amazon has one for $7 and the other for $2. I don;t understand the pricing but more than $0.10 would be too much.

I wonder if Alex will need a stomach pump to get any random bits out of his gut? I hope not!

Ready for Borscht

Not really but I just had to share this cute little drawstring bag I made during two bad movies and one good one this past weekend.

I am going to line it with some silk so it can be used for little knitting projects like making premie hats from the leftover yarns I have from making socks.

The bag is part of a kit from Knit Picks. The kit looks like it will have enough yarn in it to make more than just the six bags in the Kit.

The kit did include beads for this bag but I just couldn't see beads on a beet.

The only difficulty I had with ths pattern is that the majority of the instructions are in chart form ...not my favorite way to knit a pattern.

A clever part of the project is that the whole thing can hang off your wrist as the leaves (there are two) are joined into a loop.

How cool is that?

The bag turned out to be about nine inches long with a five inch opening. It can hold at least half a dozen little balls of leftover sock yarn. I really will have to line it if I do not want the needles to fall through the holes in the knitting.

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In Memoriam

Finally, after much abuse and the last 13 days buried in the backyard, my Canon Power Shot has finally bit the dust.

It is dead.

Completely kaput.

Gone to the great camera graveyard in the far beyond.

It's battered mechanical bits are frozen solid.

The battery pack is dead.

Even a new battery could not get things going again.

So Mr. Canon, you make a really tough product but even the toughest product can only take so much from my wild boy, Alex, the bandy legged Dachshund. I took myself off to the store the other day and bought a new Canon Power Shot. I am sure that Alex will try to defeat your product quality but I am going to try even harder to keep the new one out of his field of view. Yours truly, A very satisfied customer.

There's a Monster in the Front Garden

Last year I found a cute little resin sheep on clearance at a garden store. I put in amongst the plantings in the front garden and it has given me some nice smiles when I head out to run errands or to walk the dogs.

What I had not realized is that Alex, my big, brave boy, had never noticed it before this morning.

As we were leaving the house for our monring walk he wents nuts growling and barking and whining. Then the Girls started up their "I'm going to kill you while I run away" barking.

It took me a moment to realize that this was what they were focussing on:

I finally dragged them away for our walk.

When we returned they all took the path that would keep them the furthest from the sheep and still make it to the front door.

Stranger still, Alex didn't even try to subdue it with his lethal stream.
I wonder what will happen tomorrow morning?

Friday, March 12, 2010

All That Glitters

Today was a day that truly glittered. The weather was beautiful... a little chilly in the breeze but bright and shiny otherwise.

I had a doctor's apointment (no biggie) but I found out that my weight was within three pounds of where a personal trainer many years ago said my weight should be... and I haven't even been trying to get to that weight... how good is that? I guess eating less and moving more really does work.

Got in some good comversation at knitting. No knitting but lots of talk.

The afternoon featured working on a quilt block with a bunch of folk from the Cut Ups Bee of the KAQG.

This is a group I normally would not join but since it meets in the Elmgrove Community Room, a location I encouraged and for which I hold the keys, I attend and I'm gad I do.

This was their second meeting. The first one is where I worked on the hearts table runner. This time we made a block from the quilt called 'All That Glitters' by the Nickel Quilt people.

The block is made up of four sub-units which are star blocks.

Here's how mine turned out.

I am just showing you the parts that worked as of the four sub-units/star blocks, three turned out as required while the fourth block turned out completely wacky. I even sewed it twice and it still turned out wrong!

I am contemplating adding a piece of applique that would cover up the messy bits. On the other hand it could be a good idea to leave it as it is to remind me of another lesson in reading and following all instructions.

The block is set in two borders and now measures about 30" square. Not sure how I'll quilt it but simple quiltingsounds good to me!

BTW that cute umbrella fabric was a gift from a special lady at Christmas time. Doesn't it look great with that pale yellow?

I am now looking forward to a weekend of sunshine, yard work, quilting and some fun learning how to make fabric flower pins from scraps. Maybe they will look great with the chemo caps we made the other evening?

I hope you have good things planned for your weekend as well!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Even if the grass isn't really growing yet (just the weeds!), the birds are everywhere trying to finish up new homes and the widlflowers are beginning to bloom.

That's all I need to declare winter over....and the beautiful color that is returning to our yards!
Of course, when that surprise cold snap comes I'll be bummed.

I hope Spring is coming alive all around you!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sock Club #1

I did a somewhat foolish thing earlier this year.

I signed up for a bi-monthly sock club through Twusted Yarns.

Somewhat foolish in that it was an expensive investment and I have been doing fine with less expensive yarns and free patterns.

Not so foolish in that I felt I needed some challenge in my sock knitting as it was becoming slightly boring to keep repeating my self.

I finished my first pair the other night and boy, were they a challenge.

The first challenge was with the yarn itself.

It is a hand dyed merino wool from Mountain Colors called Crazy Foot. The color I chose was Ruby Red. The challenge is that I have never worked with such exotic yarn and was afraid that if I messed up quite a bit I would not have enough yarn to continue.

I did not mess up my knitting and have tons left over.

The pattern we used was designed by Anna Hanson of Knitspot called Woodsmoke. It knits up to a lovely pair of socks but there were a couple of adjustments I made to the pattern. First of all I made it an extra pattern repeat longer in the leg, one repeat shorter in the foot, made the back of the heel straight stockinette rather than the lacey pattern and I lengthened the toe to accomodate my pointy toes. My other major change is that I used size 0 needles rather than the required size1s as I knit somewhat loosely.

Imagine a picture of my socks here as I think Alex has taken my camera again. Note to self - buy another camera and put a tracking device on it.

Anyway, despite the lack of pictures, I hope you read into this narrative how impressed I am with myself that I got these socks made before the next pair is available at the beginning of April. The other thing I am incredibly proud about is that they actually fit.

Will wonders never cease?

Have a great week!

Monday, March 1, 2010

An Olympic Success

Months ago, when NBC started to advertise that the Winter Olympics were coming in February, I was worried that the Tivo would not have anything to record. I figured, that for two weeks, I would be in a TV wasteland of reruns and wieght loss programs.

How wrong I was!

I have spent most of prime time for the last two weeks watching every minute of what NBC deigned to broadcast from Vancouver. All the silly pieces puff pieces and ads for things I would never buy did not detract from my enjoyment of the games.

The wackiness of ski cross, speed skating pursuits and snowboard half pikes provided many moments of wonderment at the athletes' sanity. All of this was offset by the shear joy in the figure skatng programs. I almost wept at the wonderful program of South Korea's Yo-Na Kim.

The final hockey game was a nail biter throughout. I had the pleasure of watching the overtime period at Sweet Sadie's with a multi-generational family who had stopped in for some lunch. One of the teenage boys really knew his hockey. While he was watching the game his little female relatives decided to set-up a girls only table so they could play wth their dolls.

All this TV watching was done by me reclining on the living room couch, covered in a quilt with a three puppy sandwich next to me. I can't just sit and watch TV so I decided to give myself the goal of starting and completing a pair of socks. I figured that a sock, which has very short rows, would be an ideal project during the games as I could easily complete a row or two during the commercials and puff pieces so I could enjoy the actual competition.

I not only got my challenge pair of socks done but I started on a complex pair from the sock club at Twisted Yarns. Here's how my Olympic Socks turned out:

The yarn is called Regia and the colorway is one of the landscape colors designed by Kaffe Fassett. I bought the yarn at Twisted Yarns but here is a link to the selection at Fabric.com. I knitted the socks from the toe up using elements from the book Knitting the Perfect Pair by Dorothy Ratigan. This is a great book on sock knitting with lots of options on how to successfully knt interesting socks. I used a heel construction technique from the free sock pattern e-book from Knitting Daily.
These socks are a little long but very comfortable and I love the way the leg part crumples up on its own. The fact that I got the stripes to pretty much line up is the icing on the cake.
What am I going to do now that the Olympics are over? Well, the other day I got two quilts basted up for quilting and I have a few UFOs that need attention so I don't think I will be lacking for things to occupy my time.
I hope you enjoyed the Olympics as much as I did and that you will forget the ugly moments (like those bob sled uniforms... TMI!) and continue to savor the many medal winning performances we got to share.
Have a great week!