Sunday, January 31, 2010

Normal Sunday

Today was a typical Sunday for me.  I made a delicious skillet breakfast for Kevin and me, washed clothes, cleaned up around the house, knit with the ladies at Right off the Sheep, and got the groceries.  I like normal.  It's a good thing.

Mom came home from the hospital today.  Finally.  I thought she'd go home yesterday so I spent another whole day there with her.  Her doctor had said if her lunch went down ok she could go home.  Have you ever spent the day with someone who kept getting more and more annoyed the longer you were with them?  She wasn't mad at me but rather at her doctor who never did show up.  As it turned out the doctor didn't show up until 3 o'clock today and she wasn't out of there until after 4 o'clock.  She was eager to return to her apartment, check her mail, take a bath and get back to normal herself.  My sister Renee, who is celebrating a birthday today (no age but let's just say it's the double nickel), and got to spend it with Mom.  Woohoo.  

My sister Denise came downstate from Charlevoix to spend the night with Mom.  She was set to come down tomorrow anyway but arrived a bit early.  It's not good for Mom to be alone just yet.

At Right off the Sheep today I spent part of Kevin's Christmas gift to me by purchasing a yarn holder 'box' made by the folks at Lantern Moon.  I took a photo of it but for some reason my memory card has decided to die on me so I think it's time to pick up a new one.  I've been using this one for nearly 4 years so I guess it's about time.

I started a new hat, Rose Hill Hat, which you can find on Ravelry, since the picture I took of its progress won't be making an appearance here tonight either.  You'll have to take my word for it.  I cast on using Malabrigo worsted wool in an odd sort of shade of browns with blue but I don't have the name of the colorway, sorry.  The band of the hat contains 16 bobbles -- I've decided I'm not in love with creating bobbles but I sure do like how they look.  I also cast on for the front of my Peace Sweater and got about 1 1/2" done today before switching to the new hat.

I enjoy having different projects going at the same time, especially if it involves different needle sizes.  I think it's easier on my hands when I knit a variety of things and can change out when I need to.

Tomorrow I'm heading back to work and will find three empty desks where my now former coworkers used to sit.  I managed to avoid the dreaded good-byes on Friday by being at the hospital with my Mom.  It really was a day I didn't look forward to and truth be told, it was good to have an excuse to not be there.  Cowardly, but truthful.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mom is on the mend

My Mom was hospitalized yesterday with what turned out to be a Duodenal Ulcer.  The gastro doctor called it 'giant' which I found to mean 2-3 cm when I asked him today.  She required two blood transfusions to get her hemoglobin up from 6.8 yesterday to 10.3 this morning.  Apparently there are were at least two medications she was taking that probably led to the ulcer -- Feldene and Plavix.  Won't be taking those again.  Her blood pressure was all out of whack -- mostly because there WAS no blood to pump.  Ugh.  Her blood pressure readings were about 160/45 when I got there yesterday.  No wonder she was complaining about feeling chills when I saw her Wednesday night.

I took today off from work to be at the hospital with Mom and I'm glad I did -- I was able to talk to the gastro doctor and bring up another problem she's been having -- choking on food.  Not a habit you want to develop.  She'll be having a modified Barium swallow study tomorrow to see what's causing that.  There are lots of other GI related problems that we'll be sorting through in the days and weeks to come.  She's all worried she'll have to cancel her trip in two weeks to Florida.

I took my knitting with me today, along with the readers I forgot yesterday, and finished the Ribby Tocque 
I don't think my arms are long enough to take good pictures of the top of my head!

I also knit to the point on my Peace Sweater back where the armhole shaping begins. 

 I'll do that shaping tomorrow while I'm visiting Mom at the hospital, as long as I can concentrate.......

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Sometimes life has bouts of interruptions.  Just when you think things are settling down into a predictable pattern - BAM - something new comes along to throw everything out of whack.

Yesterday my sister Denise called from Charlevoix to say that Mom was ailing and in need of help.  I had planned to head to the gym, but duty called.

I picked up the needed grocery items:  eggs, milk, bread, crackers, bananas and took along some cans of chicken soup.  I stopped at Boston Market and got the chicken dinner for 3 so she'd have plenty of food for a while.  We had a nice dinner and she seemed to be feeling a bit better but I guess that didn't last.  Today my sister Renee picked her up and took her to the hospital and so far she's had a pint of fluids and a pint of blood.  She will need another pint of blood, maybe two.  Her blood pressure is all out of whack, 148/41 at the last reading, so she's off to get an endoscopy to try and figure out where she's losing blood.

I'll be heading to the hospital straight from work.  Not sure when I'll be home.  I'm doing tomorrow's tasks today at work, just in case I don't make it in on Friday.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This and That

Sometimes I find my head spinning when it comes to crafting.  I want to make EVERYTHING!  There are only so many hours in a day and I only have two hands.  If only I could clone myself, then one of me could knit, one could sew, one could wet felt.........

Friday was my quilting friend Deb's 60th birthday.  I have known Deb for 20 years.  That's a very long time.  We met in Ortonville when I first got involved in quilting.  I attended a church that hosted a quilt show every other year and 1990 was a show year.  The church asked members to help out but I said I didn't know anything about quilting.  No problem, they said, they'd show me how, and thus I began to quilt.  Deb was a member of the Country Quilt Guild and we became friends right away.  I moved away after my divorce  and amazingly enough, we hooked up again when I joined the Great Lakes Heritage Quilters.

Our little stitch group decided to make Deb a 60th birthday quilt.  It has 60 different fabrics and 60 blocks, the Shoo Fly pattern that Deb has always said was her favorite but she hadn't gotten around to making just yet.  We gave her the top on Saturday and her friend, Chris Husak-Zane, will do the masterful machine quilting.

Here's our Chicken group with Deb on the right, holding the edge of the top.

Deb was so stunned, she even got teary on us.  She loves batiks and does a lot of her own dyeing, too.

I picked up the new edition of Knitscene magazine because there were several projects I was interested in making.  Most of the time their patterns are too 'young' for me but not this issue.  I started the Ribby Tocque hat using a skein of Aslan Trends' Ecolana, which is 60% Alpaca, 40% Merino Wool, from Argentina.  It is all natural, undyed yarn, which seemed soft initially at the store, but now that I'm knitting with it it looks like there are guard hairs in it, kind of prickly like a new beard.  I'll post pictures tomorrow of my progress.  I keep switching back and forth between this hat and my Peace sweater, which is made from Blue Sky Alpaca Cotton.

I've been on a cooking frenzy of late and Sunday I choose a recipe from the Wonder How To website that I mentioned in Saturday's blog post.  I had some pork loin chops from Costco that I'd taken out of the freezer and needed to cook.  I chose a recipe that was super simple and delicious.  It was full of firsts for me.  First time I've used shallots, first time I put a skillet in the oven, first time I've made a reduction sauce using apple cider vinegar and apple cider.  I'll make it again for sure.

I think I keep searing meat a bit too long.  I have to cut back on that.

Here's the sauce in the process of reducing.  Hard to shoot pictures with steam billowing up on you.

And finally, pork loin chop dinner with sweet potatoes.  De-lish!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cool Website

I found a cool website today while reading an email from  If you don't get their emails, you should!  They offer all sorts of great techie advice, from casual users on up.  Anyway, the handy website I found is called Wonder How To  and when you get there you'll find all kinds of great how-tos.  There are tons of things to search on -- everything from bartending to hand combat.  I watched a Broccoli Soup video from Gordon Ramsay -- there are 68 videos from him alone!  The soup was so simple I think I'll try it today.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Finally Friday

I'm so glad to be done with the work week.  On the other hand, it brings me closer to the time when several co-workers will be leaving on the 29th.  I'm not looking forward to next week at all.

Last night I decided it was time to use up some leftover yarn from previous projects by knitting another charity hat.

This is only one container of many and while I did make the hat below I have so much more I can do.

Tonight I re-did my gauge swatch for my Peace Sweater.  I really couldn't remember what needles I had originally used so I started with size 5s tonight.  My gauge should be 19 stitches to 4 inches but I got 20  stitches on that size needle.  I switched to size 6 needles and got gauge.

This pattern will require size 5 and size 6 needles so I'm all set.  I cast on and knit the first 5 rows using reverse stockinette stitch.  But then I second guessed myself and thought I started out purling when I should have knit and ripped out the rows.  Wrong, I was RIGHT!  Ugh.  Re-did the first 5 rows and then continued on with the stockinette stitch pattern switching from size 5 to size 6 needles.  Now I get to knit about 13 more inches in stockinette -- yippee.  I may make it a bit shorter considering my size.

I finished the back of the Thai Vest yesterday.  Now I need to work on the left front.  I've got to give some thought to how I'm going to continue the seed stitch edge and still decrease.  More math!  Time for bed......

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interesting Find on YouTube

While searching for ArtFelt help on today I came across a video from the TNNA show that is a little runway exhibit of several designs from different yarn makers.  I heard something familiar so I backed it up a couple of times.  Sandra Van Burkleo, who owns the Artisan Knitworks shop in Grosse Pointe Park which is only 20 miles away from me, was one of the designers.  She used Farmhouse Yarns for her Montreal Jacket.

Here's the video:  TNNA Fashion Show

It was interesting to see someone I've met show their designs at a major show.  I was actually studying the jacket that Karin Skacel designed using the ArtFelt technique.  I'm really intrigued by this product and looking forward to exploring different ways to use it.  Let me know if you've had a chance to create anything with it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday that was a Monday

I know the calendar says Tuesday but it sure felt like a Monday, especially at work.  Busy, busy, busy.  There's a lot of tidying up going on around the office -- making sure everyone has updated their contact lists for their jobs, moving files around, all sorts of things, preparing to lose our jobs.  Ugh.

I think I'll be safe until fall, at least that's the hint I received from my manager, without her even realizing she had given it up.

Yesterday was Monday, but it felt like a Sunday, since I had the day off of work.  I chose a new fix-it task -- applying plastic window covers to my craft room and bedroom windows.  The craft room window is next to my computer desk and the bedroom window is over my bed.  Both windows are pretty drafty but maybe I just notice it more because I spend so much time near them.

Covering the windows was not a tough task at all, unless you count putting the balky blinds back up where they belong.  Naughty, naughty blinds.  The only tools required were a pair of scissors, a hair dryer, and a step ladder. 

The windows were covered quickly and while I'm not 100% happy with the intended draft reduction, it is a bit better.  Now I just have to figure out how to take the two sided tape off when spring arrives in 4 months!

A big 'thank you' is going out tonight to Harriet for buying my first ticket for our raffle quilt, see Saturday's blog post for the fabulous Cheddar & Red Four Block quilt.  Come on everyone -- you know you want to win it too!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not like cheese???

How can anybody not like cheese?  I drove out to visit my Mom today for lunch and she asked me what kind of cheese was in lasagna.  Why?, you ask.  My sister Carol had her over for dinner on Sunday and had made a pan of lasagna, which I'm certain was delicious.  I told Mom it probably had mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan.  'Oh' was all she said.  Mom, apparently, does not like those kinds of cheese.  Oh boy, I thought to myself, wait till she tries the Zucchini and Gorgonzola soup I brought for lunch.  She ate it but I bet she didn't really like it.

Oddly, Dad would have had a couple of bowls.  We shared a love for stinky cheese -- bleu, gongonzola, stilton.  I sure do miss Dad.  I drove out to the cemetery on the way home, clearing off the snow-covered marker.  Things are just so different with him gone.

One time I had too much cheese.  I never thought it could happen but it did.  Years ago Kevin made our family's version of Mac & Cheese and used 4 C of sharp cheddar for 1# of pasta.  Overdose -- I actually picked around the excess goo to find some pasta.

But that seldom happens.  Truly.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Now I'm done

I nearly forgot to show you my spice drawer, which I was rummaging through for my soup ingredients ~~

Now I know it looks like a mess but it IS relatively alphabetized, except for a couple of new additions carelessly dumped in the drawer.  Oh, I suppose YOUR drawer is more organized than that.

Last night I attended a NightNotes concert at the Hagopian rug store in Birmingham and worked on my Thai Vest.  It was all very prim and proper but I have to say something very odd happened.  I guess you could certify me as an adult because I did NOT break out in laughter when the gentleman sitting 3 seats down from me FARTED -- yes, just like a whoopee cushion, FARTED.  Right in the middle of the violin concerto by J.S. Bach.  What would Johann say????  Let's just say the man's wife was NOT pleased with him.  I struggled not to break out in a hearty laughter, much like I would have when I was younger.  Goodness -- do you think this means I'm actually maturing?  Perish the thought!

Tonight I took Maggie for a walk.  And got locked out of my house.  No, I did not forget my key.  Kevin came home from work and locked the storm door.  Maggie barked and I knocked for a good 10 minutes before he finally came to the door.  It's 29ยบ outside and I was not wearing gloves or a hat.-- how's that for a knitter??!   Think I'm a bit unhappy, oh yeah.  Kevin was in the shower, prepping for a party.  Ugh.  Got an earful when he finally let us in.  So did the neighborhood.


Today I went to the new yarn store in Clawson, PK Yarn over Knit, for the second time.  I stopped in there yesterday on their grand opening day.  Hmmm.  They need a lot more merchandise to fill up their lavish space.  I would move a lot of the merchandise around too.  I would keep all of my machine wash, less expensive yarns together, away from my high end, hand wash wool.  I would organize it by weight too.  I would have my display of Addi Turbo needles near the cash register.  Don't want them walking out the door....

I bought an ArtFelt kit for an eyeglass case.  Being the impatient person I am I laid out the 'ingredients' and made the case fabric last night.  I struggled though -- make it before I head out to the NightNotes concert or wait.  Well, that argument was settled quickly -- make the blasted thing right away!  The eyeglass case was extremely easy to make and it was done before I left for the concert -- no more than 15 minutes construction time.  Today I sewed the edges together and voila -- it was completed.  Now I want to dig into the kit I bought  a couple of years ago but was too chicken to attempt.  Yes, even I have chicken moments.

And today I seamed it together using a running stitch with a hand-dyed cotton floss.

I can say without a doubt that this is the absolute easiest way to wet felt.  No long hours of rolling, kneading, throwing, and thrashing.  It was done lickety split!

While reading one of the blogs I follow I came across a recipe that absolutely excitedly me:  Zucchini and Gorgonzola Soup .  It did not disappoint.  I picked up several of the ingredients and made it tonight.

Onions, garlic, olive oil, butter, followed by coarsely chopped zucchini and yellow squash (had it in the fridge) ~~

Added chicken stock ~~

And salt and pepper, using my prized pepper mill (courtesy of a now deceased friend who brought it back from Germany and an item I 'retained' during my divorce)


 Then the soup mixture was pureed in the blender ~~

and returned to the soup pot, with the gorgonzola cheese, followed by the half & half, while I sipped some cabernet sauvignon ~~

....until the soup was ready ~~

And, oh my, was it ever good.  I hope you have a chance to visit the blog I got it from and make the soup for yourself!

GLHQ Guild Meeting Update Part 2

After all of those pictures on yesterday's post I bet you thought I'd be done?  NO!  I've got plenty of Show N Tell pictures.

First is our Raffle Quilt, which will be raffled off in June 2010.  Tickets are only $1 so let me know if you'd like to buy one and I will get the ticket to you!

Veronica took a workshop with Aniko Feher and made this lovely wallhanging of her daughter.  The picture below is her telling us about her class experience ~~

Dorothy showed this giant quilt she made for her son, who is serving overseas.  I think she said he's heading back to Afghanistan.


Jean made this charming quilt from scraps -- no new fabric was purchased for this one~~

I liked this quilt but have forgotten who made it, sorry.

Cindy said she resolved not to make anymore small quilts, then she resolved not to make anymore ginormous quilts ~~

It's interesting how the different values appear in a photograph -- the tan sashing pieces really pop out at me.

Cathy created this marvelous quilt ~~

I especially like the block in the lower right corner -- it looks so whimsical to me. 
Cathy's son is heading to Afghanistan next month after serving in Iraq too.

And two members brought baby quilts to show before sending them on their way ~~


Now truth be told, I would have had more photos except our quilt holder was so spastic they weren't still long enough for me to get a good shot.  As it was, I had taken 70 shots by the end of the evening.  I think that's the most ever for a guild night.  I hope you enjoy looking at them.

Friday, January 15, 2010

GLHQ Guild Meeting Update

It took a bit to get the photos from last night's meeting cleaned up but here they are.  As you will recall our speaker for the evening was Sue Nickels, who lives in nearby Ann Arbor.  She had a great slide show that was topped off by all of us getting to see many of her quilts in person.  Some are too heavy for her to take on airplanes to other guilds so we were quite fortunate that she lives in our backyard.

I shot many of her quilts but only have space here for my favorites, sorry.

I love four block quilts.  Say, wasn't I supposed to be working on my four block quilt??

Here's Sue's Blackbird quilt that I know I've seen in a magazine before ~~

Several years back Sue and her sister Pat Holly entered their Beatles quilt at AQS and won Best of Show.  They gave the museum their quilt in lieu of the cash award and Sue made this smaller homage for her to keep:

I love the simple but careful color choices in this medallion quilt and the execution is outstanding ~~

I wish I had taken a closer look at her border and binding -- it's amazing.

Here's another fabulous example of an applique quilt ~~

Here's a close up of the stunning binding -- I don't remember ever seeing one like this before ~~

One of my favorites that evening was the one she had hanging from the quilt frame ~~


Here's a close up of the machine quilting ~~

Oh my!  And I loved this pieced inner border ~~

Here's a shot of the corner block which also shows off the tongue border.  We studied it quite carefully to figure our how it was done.  We decided she had two bindings which were sewn down on the front and back of the quilt, over the tongues, then turned back toward the quilt and sewn down.  Phew!

Sorry for the wobbly picture but the quilt was blowing back and forth -- hard to shoot a moving target!   And here are a couple of close ups of the applique work ~~

Isn't the stipple quilting amazing?!

Well that's it for this blog post.  I'll post the Show and Tell quilts tomorrow, after your eyes have rested a bit!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Too Many Pics to Post Tonight

Tonight was our January meeting for the Great Lakes Heritage Quilters and it was packed!  We had a well-known quilter, Sue Nickels (see yesterday's post) and there were many guests in attendance.  Sue's presentation was wonderful, as expected, and I took numerous photos.  I'll post a complete update tomorrow, once I've had a chance to edit up the pictures -- I took over 50 shots and the quilt holders were not always compliant!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Remember, remember...

Tomorrow I have two extra things to remember.

First, I need to take the lunch my boss asked me to pick up for her after work today to the office tomorrow.  She loves the Mexican chicken and rice from Zumba.  Our team gave her a gift card for Christmas, which I used to make the purchase.  She asked me to get her two orders, not sure why.

Second, I'm picking up one of our senior quilt guild members who doesn't like to drive at night, and taking her to our meeting.  We're having a fabulous speaker, Sue Nickels, a master machine quilter.  While I would love to quilt like she does, I've grown to recognize that there are only so many hours in one's lifetime and I could never get to be good at it, so I leave my machine quilting for those who love it and are good at it.  The truth is that my desire to quilt has been replaced by my love of knitting (stop throwing darts at me!).  I have a lot of fabric.  Nearly every bit of it was bought with a specific quilt in mind.  When I try to rid myself of it, pangs of guilt come over me and I'm forced to keep it.  Well, maybe soon I'll be able to make the purge.  I could definitely use the storage cabinets for other crafts....

I was back in the gym tonight.  Oddly enough there is a member there who was a 'match' for me on  NOT.  He creeped me out because his profile said his best feature was his butt.  Argh.  Even though he may actually be right, it doesn't say much for the rest of him.  At least I said my eyes were my best feature, something a little less crass. 

Several years ago a gal worked with me who had been a missionary in Haiti.  She was from the South and when she said 'Haiti' it would just crack me up.  It always sounded like 'Hi Tee'.  She taught us about the extensive poverty and unbelievable living conditions, and that was her home on the island.  I thought about Valerie today when all of the devastating news about the earthquake in Port au Prince was coming out.  There's a good chance that her parents are still missionaries there.  I hope they are alright and that help arrives soon for all of those impacted.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jam Packed Guild Meeting

Tonight was the January meeting for the Black Sheep Knitting Guild.  There was so much happening my head was spinning!  We switched presidents, discussed our annual retreat (thinking I'm not going due to finances), the Knit Michigan event coming up next month, had cast on/cast off demos, and much more!

We had 17 items donated for the door prize raffle ~~

Including a small basket with napkin rings that I had purchased off of Ebay when I was in my sheep buying frenzy ~~

Harriet wore the sweater she had recently finished putting together.  It was very special to her since her sister had knit it but passed away before she could complete it.  It's going to her sister's daughter.

I don't think any of my sisters will do the same for me when I'm gone.  Right??

Remember me telling you about Judith turning in 25 hats to the South Oakland Shelter a couple of weeks ago?  Well it was actually 27 and tonight she collected a staggering 54 additional hats!  We are such a generous, caring group of women.  I know that there will be a lot of thankful children in the coming days.  That makes a grand total of 81 hats!!!

Here are tonight's contributions~~

The items on the right side of the bottom picture are scarves turned in as well.  The brown one was a bunch of squares that new president Kim received and crocheted together to make the scarf -- very resourceful!