Monday, May 31, 2010

Gulf Oil Disaster

If you're as dismayed as I am about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill debacle you might want to read this interesting blog.  They're coming from a different angle than the rest of us and have a lot of eye-opening things to say.

Memorial Day

Today we celebrated the sacrifices made by all of those who have served our country and died preserving our freedom.  For me it's always a day filled with tears and sadness for all of the families who have lost loved ones to war.  The stories that are told on television programs stop me in my tracks and cause me to be thankful that someone else stepped up when called upon.

I have always been proud that my father served our country during World War II as a Merchant Marine.  A lot of people have never heard of the Merchant Marines or their contributions to the military effort over the years.  He was a Canadian citizen when he joined the Merchant Marine so there was some confusion over which ship he could serve on:  British, Canadian, or U.S.  Eventually he shipped out and headed across the Atlantic Ocean, his Liberty ship loaded with landing craft, airplanes, and members of the Armed Guard.  After a one day delay due to bad weather, my Dad's ship arrived at Omaha Beach at 6:30 in the morning on June 6th, 1944.  He never really talked about what went on that day.  I know he saw a lot of carnage.

One of his jobs was passing shells up to an Armed Guard who was manning one of the 5" guns.  He turned toward the stern of the ship and was struck by shrapnel in his chin -- the result of a Canadian ship being bombed 200 feet away.  June 21st was my grandmother's birthday and my Dad didn't want her to know he'd been injured so she didn't find out until he came home.  After his ship was torpedoed in late June, he spent more than 5 months in Cardiff, Wales, while the ship was in dry dock.  My Dad loved the sea and probably would have remained with the Merchant Marine, had he not met my mother.

Today Kevin and I went out the the cemetery and could not get over how many people were there.  It was amazing!  The cemetery had lined their main roads with flags and every where you turned you saw small flags and floral displays marking the graves of service people, including my Dad's.

I found that hat for him on Ebay, of all places, and it arrived the day before he underwent surgery for esophageal cancer.  After he recovered he was so proud to wear that hat.  People would stop him and shake his hand and thank him for his service and he would beam.

There were a lot of statues and monuments throughout the cemetery grounds.  I never knew.  One that was particularly beautiful was the World War II monument~~

And here is one of the more current memorials ~~

We took Maggie with us and she got to visit her 'grandpa's' grave too.

It was a lucky day for her -- I don't usually let her ride in my T&C.  We came home and were immediately invited over to my next door neighbor's for lunch.  That would be the Royal Canadian Legion Hall neighbors.  Lunch was delicious and Stacy saw to it that we were treated to a couple of glasses of draft beer too.  She sent us home with food for dinner so it was a day off for me!

I did get some knitting done today and if I finish the denim bag tonight I'll post the pictures. 

I hope you've had a great holiday weekend and had the chance to reflect on the true meaning of the day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Bag Coming

Today I started working on a new bag for a customer who had contacted me through my website.  I have been so neglectful of my website -- it hasn't been updated in at least 2 years.  I think I had gotten dismayed by the quality of my photographs and had some feedback about their inconsistent appearance.  So when in doubt, I did nothing.

Now that I have a new camera and a little tent-like thing to put my items for sale in, I might get the website updated.  In my spare time.

Anyhow, I'm working on a small shoulder bag using a denim-like shade of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky.  I have the bag nearly done and tonight I worked out the math for adding some shaping to the top of the bag.  It will need a flap, an I-cord shoulder strap and a cell phone pocket and then it will be done, except for the fulling.  I will have three bags, one hat, and a few leaves to full -- could be enough to make a trip to the laundromat soon.

I drove out to the cemetery to see my Dad's grave but got there 10 minutes too late as the gate was already closed.  Made me wonder about all of the cars I had seen in there as I approached from the nearby expressway -- hope they let those poor people out!  I drove back home but I'll go back tomorrow, provided it doesn't rain too hard.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Willy Nilly Bag #2

Today was such a busy day.  I started out by finishing another Willy Nilly bag ~~
It turned into a rainbow colorway, just because those were the colors left over after I made the first Willy Nilly bag.  I still need handles for both bags but haven't decided what kind to use just yet.  I'll knit a couple more things that need to be felted and get that done at the same time.

Next I spent two hours in the hot sun, weeding these out of my back flower beds ~~

Too bad this Japanese Ladybug lost her 'home' ~~

My Peonies are blooming like mad and are so beautiful ~~

I had asked Kevin to help me pull the weeds and he insisted he would have yanked these ~~
so I said 'no thanks' and moved on.  I can't remember what these purple flowers are but I know I planted them on purpose and they should stay.  Here's a picture of the Lavender that Maggie was stomping through yesterday when she was barking madly at the rabid skunk ~~

I still have plenty of work ahead for me tomorrow and/or Monday but I definitely want to get in some knitting and rug hooking time too.  Hard to balance work and fun isn't it??

Make a Difference

Do you need postage stamps?  I know that I only mail one bill payment each month but I do need stamps for birthday cards, notes, and other things.  The USPS has produced a series of stamps to help promote shelter adoptions.  How would you like to buy super cute stamps and help out shelter animals in the one easy step?  My friend Joyce sent me an email a bit ago about a program from Ellen Degeneres' Halo pet food.  So far they have donated nearly 300,000 meals to animal shelters.  Take a look when you have a chance and see if you can help the effort.  I know I'm running low on postage stamps.......

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lucky Day

Today was a late start day for me -- I didn't need to be in the office until 10 AM.  I lounged a bit, took a shower, and got myself ready to catch the 9:18 AM bus.  As I hurried to dress I could hear Maggie barking like a mad woman outside.  I 'thanked' Kevin for not bringing her in and opened the back door only to see her planted right in the middle of my Lavender plants.  I called her in and headed for the front door.

As I walked out the door I saw two neighbor women who announced to me that they had seen a skunk on the side of my house and THAT was what Maggie was barking at.  I am so fortunate that she didn't get sprayed by the skunk.  Holy cow, would that have messed up my day.  The neighbor said she had already called the police since the word was out that rabid skunks were roaming the streets of Royal Oak.

I zipped along to the bus stop and called Kevin to warn him not to put Maggie in the backyward and to keep an eye out for the police.

Surprise, surprise.  He missed all of the action.  Apparently the police did come by, peered into my backyard and my next door neighbor said she heard two gunshots.  Not sure where the deed was done, but I'm hopeful there was only the one skunk. 

This of course made for a good excuse for Kevin to not mow the lawn, since he never heard the gunshots.  Tomorrow we'll both be busy in the backyard as I've got to get a handle on some nasty weeds.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Is 'free' ever really free?  Today I went to my leasing dealership, which was unceremoniously 'de-commissioned' last year during the bankruptcy.  Every time I've been in there their service department has been nothing but nice.  Today I needed my 'free' oil change.  Ok, so I was about 200 miles past due but I'm really not driving it much these days.  Anyhow, he talked me into rotating the tires and it went downhill from there. 

It's not that I didn't know my brakes were squeaking and a bit slow to stop.  I was just hoping to eek it out until the car gets turned in next November.  Anyhow, one thing led to another and my 'free' oil change cost me $193.  Ugh.

Next I was off to the new dealership where I got my A/C fixed (one of a gazillion who need that this week), new radiator cap,  some sensor for my washer fluid pump, and something else I'm not even sure about.  No charge there -- all covered under warranty -- PHEW!!  It's so darn nice to have it blowing cold air when it's steaming hot outside.

I did get a hunk of knitting done during my four hours at the two dealerships.  Finished my first Willy Nilly bag, except for the handles, and started a second one.  Pictures coming tomorrow.

This weekend is a long holiday weekend and I cannot wait!  I won't get out of work until 5 pm tomorrow but the good news is I don't have to go in until 10 am  so I get to sleep in a bit and catch a later bus.  I'm really hoping to get some yard work done this weekend and of course, plenty of time for crafts.  The weather will be fabulous so as long as the mosquitos aren't biting, I'll be outside!

New Button

I found something new today while searching around on other blogs.  It's called BlogTalkRadio and it's all about Fiber Arts & Mixed Media (FAMM).  The first real broadcast is tonight at 7 PM so I'm going to tune in to see hear what it's all about.  If you like to listen to podcasts you might like to tune in too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Awkward Moment

It was such a hot and steamy day today.  We lost power several times at my office and eventually were released early.  I hopped on an earlier bus than expected and enjoyed the air-conditioned ride.  Once home I got my giveaway prize packaged up and took it to the post office -- should get to you by Friday Janet!

From there I headed to the gas station -- my low fuel light was on - yikes.  When I got out of my car to start filling my tank something very odd happened.  A woman in a beat up car pulled alongside my pump on the other side.  She called out to me and when I approached her car (maybe not the safest thing to do) she said she was living out of her car and asked if I could give her some money to help feed her three kids, also in the car.  I was caught off guard and said I was sorry but I couldn't help her.  She left and I felt bad.  Maybe I should have given her a few dollars, I don't know.  Maybe I should have done what my co-worker Ric or my son Kevin have done -- offered to take the kids into the convenience store and buy them what they'd like.  I didn't think fast enough and now I keep seeing the hopeful eyes of three little children looking to me for help.  I'll try to react differently next time.

As if to soothe my soul, I queried the driver who pulled up next to me and asked what he would have done.  He admitted he probably wouldn't have given her cash either. 

So the question of the day is:  what would you have done?  I'd appreciate your input.

I promised a progress picture of the Willy Nilly bag and here it is~~

I have enough to make a second bag using lighter colors so look for that in the days to come.

I'm taking the day off of work tomorrow to go to a new dealership to get my air conditioning fixed in my car, along with a radiator cap recall.  Hopefully I'll make it over to my original dealership to get my free oil change, too.  It's been six months but I think I'm getting close to giving in and getting a haircut, so tomorrow might be the day for that too.  So much maintenance needed!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Using it Up

Over the last several months I've made a lot of knit hats.  I think for each of them I've had leftovers when I finished.  I'm willing to bet that no matter what your craft of choice is, you've got boxes, or bags, or shelves full of scraps you can't bare to part with. Today I gathered a bunch of leftover Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky and started making a new felted bag.  I'm taking a color and knitting until it runs out and starting another.  No rhyme or reason.  I'm not even starting the new yarn in the same spot every time on the bag.  I'm trying not to plan ahead too much.  Free form.  Willy Nilly.  Knitting by the seat of my pants!  Pictures of my progress are coming tomorrow...........

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Pile Grows

One more finished hat to add to my stash -- it's actually cuter in person.  It's made with white Cascade 220 and a pastel shade of Crystal Palace Kid Merino and should fit a toddler to small child's head.  I used the double D decrease again and finished it with an I-cord umbilical cord ~~

I think that makes number 27 for the year so far.  Phew!  Half way to where I need to be by September.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

<---------- New Button on the Left

Are you stuck in a rut?  Need some help boosting your creativity?  Check out the Creativity Boot Camp button on the left.  Maegan has a 2 week plan to help inspire and motivate your creativity.  Don't panic -- it doesn't begin until June 6th so you have plenty of time to prepare for the 'course'.  I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of 'exercises' she has planned for us.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fun Day

Today I celebrated my son Kevin's 30th birthday with him.  We had a delicious brunch at Cafe Muse in Royal Oak.  There were tons of people dining who had just participated in the Race for the Cure run/walk in Detroit  It rained cats and dogs most of the morning and into the afternoon.  We then went to the REI store in Troy where he picked out a new pair of hiking boots for his present.  That store was swamped !!  They are having a sale and apparently EVERYONE knew about it.

Kevin headed back home and I drove out to my friend Kathy's to sew with the Chickens.  Well, I at least cut out fabric for a pillowcase ~~
I hope to get it sewn together tomorrow.

I had a chance to see Kathy's new Horn cabinet that she purchased from a former co-worker of mine.  It looks great and now her room seems much more accessible ~~

There were six of us at Kathy's today.  Jackie worked on some pillowcases using Kaffe Fassett fabrics for a shop in Elk Rapids ~~

 and Pat worked on her Nosegay Hummingbird blocks using Aunt Gracie fabrics ~~

Sue decided she wanted to make the Quick as a Wink wallhanging that Kathy had learned to do at the Kat Campau workshop~~
Kathy got Sue started on it and I think we all added our 2¢ worth.  Sue got busy machine quilting it before too long ~~

Kathy and Judy looked over one of the Ricky Tims books together ~~

I spotted a couple of  'critters' outside to snap a photo of ~~

You can see the suet in the woodpecker's beak!  Ok, so the outdoor shots are a little fuzzy.  I'm still learning how to use my new camera for outdoor shots.

We went out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant that was super busy, slow to get our food to us and when they did, they messed up Kathy's order.  Could have been a lot better but at least my fish taco was good.

Maggie keeps looking out our living room window for Kevin but he went up to see Holly for the night, so Maggie will be waiting a while.

It's hard for me to believe that Kevin is 30 years old.  Geez, where do the years go?  I remember the events of his birth like it was yesterday.  That's a good sign at my age, right?

1 Million Pillowcase Challenge

Are you up for a challenge?  Can you sew?  Do you have fabric stacked around the house?  If you answered 'yes' to all three questions then how about sewing up a pillowcase or two or more?  American Patchwork & Quilting is sponsoring a drive to make a MILLION pillowcases to be given to all sorts of needy people -- battered women, cancer patients, nursing home residents, and more.  The website (click on the button over on the left hand side) provides all sorts of information including several free patterns, so even if you've never sewn a pillowcase before, you can now do it!

I'm heading over to my friend Kathy's to sew with my Chicken friends.  I'm taking fabric to cut and sew a few pillowcases myself.  Then I can go online and add my count to the total donated.  So far they've got almost 86,000.  Quite a ways to go to get to 1,000,000 but if we all make a few it can happen.  

If you choose to accept this challenge (and I hope you do) -- good for you!  You will feel great knowing you've made a difference in someone you've never met's life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Giveaway Winner is ???????

Using the random number generator, the winner of the WoolFelt kit is #1................Janet.  Send me your snail mail address and I'll get your package out to you ASAP.  Congrats!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Done, done, diddly done

I  finished another hat for the fall show season.  You saw most of it yesterday but here's the top~~
And a close up ~~

I really like the double D decrease.  It's a nice, clean finish.

I wanted to show you how it's done so I found a video clip on You Tube that shows you how to do it but she leaves out the math.  For my hats I need a stitch count that is divisible by 6.  In this case there were 96 stitches, so there were 16 segments.  Subtract 3 from the segment count (3 stitches make up the decrease) and you get 13.  Knit 7, slip 2 knitwise at the same time, knit 1, pass the slipped stitches over the knit stitch and knit the remaining 6 stitches.  Sounds confusing but watch the video and that should help.  If you still have questions, leave me a comment.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Glorious Day

Today was just the most glorious day.  The sun shone all day, enough to make me forget about the rotten, rainy days we've been having.  Even nice enough to forget about the cranky morning bus driver.  I was so busy working through various issues at the office (good thing I'm taking those high blood pressure pills these days) that the day flew by.  I love days like today.

I made more progress on my gold mohair hat and realized I haven't posted any knitting progress pictures in ages.  I bet you've been wondering what I've been up to.  Here's the hat so far ~~

I'm using Cascade 220 in a heather shade and a strand of Crystal Palace Kid Merino, which is a Mohair/Merino/Micro Nylon blend.  It gives the hat just enough 'halo' without making it too warm.

The colors are very close but the Kid Merino adds some bright greens and oranges to zip it up a bit.  It's a basic hat, 2x2 rib for 2", then stockinette to take it to 6.5".  I'll finish the crown with a double D decrease, which will give it straight decreases instead of swirls.  Probably more information than you needed.  I'll show the finished hat tomorrow, then the next time you're out in public you can say you really like double Ds and see if that turns anyone's head.

Don't forget to post a comment on the Giveaway post so you can have a chance to win the sheep jacket kit!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hmmm....3 comments

So far there are only three 'contestants' for my giveaway.  The odds are looking pretty good for you ladies.

Today was a busy day at work.  Lots of things to do now that I've got a few new tasks assigned to me -- I like it better that way.  We had a nacho potluck and each took a turn at Wii Bowling.  Ordinarily I can't do regular bowling because my vision is so bad my ophthalmologist forbids it.  Not that big of a loss for me since I was never good at it anyway.  Today I 'bowled' a 123.  I should probably play those numbers in the lottery!

I spent the evening knitting on my gold/mohair hat at Panera's with my knitting friends.  Such a nice way to finish the day.  I think tomorrow is the only day I don't have plans.  It's good to be busy, but great to relax!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Giveaway Day

I'll admit it.  I missed the memo.  Today is a National Blog Giveaway Day.  "What???" you say -- it's true.  Check out one of my favorite quilting blogs Oh Fransson! for details.  I'll cut to the chase.  I'm giving away a kit to jazz up a sweatshirt.  A red one would be great but I think you can play with the color to see what works for you.  I'm providing the kit, not the sweatshirt!.  I don't want any misunderstandings here.

Rules:  oh so simple this time......
1.  Become a follower and leave a comment (if you don't already follow me)
2.  Leave a comment and tell me why you'd like the kit

Deadline for comments for the giveaway:  8 pm EST on Friday, May 21st !!!!  I'll use the random number generator to make the selection fair

There.  That's it.  And's the giveaway........

Here's a close up of the design for the front ~~

There's nothing that says you couldn't do something completely different with the wool felt, etc.  Maybe embellish a plain pillow???  Here are your kit supplies ~~

Yesterday I mentioned two purchases, wooden cooking utensils and knitting needles.  Here's the low-down.  I haven't cooked with the utensils yet but I'm sure they'll be fabulous.
I mean, look at them -- aren't they beautiful.  I'm sure they'll improve my cooking, right?

Next, are the cherry knitting needles with the copper acorn finials.  Have to be honest.  I like that they have a hexagonal design because they do feel nice in my hands but the finish is just not smooth enough for me.  There's too much drag.  I'm hoping they'll smooth out with a bit of knitting otherwise I'll have to figure something else out.  Maybe polish them a bit?
They are gorgeous but I need them to be functional, not a display item.  Wish I could be more positive.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Something Old, Something New

Today I did something I haven't done in months -- worked on a rug hooking project.  It's months behind but I had neither the ambition nor time to work on it.  I spent 3 1/2 hours this morning out on my back patio, soaking in the sunshine, hooking my little heart out.  I hooked until I ran out of strips.  I'll need to cut more and my fingers are crossed that I'll have enough of this one color to complete it.  Then I'll need my friend Kate's help to finish the binding.

This was probably the best weekend weather-wise for the Birmingham art fair that I can remember.  Usually they're stuck with cold or rainy days, which make for a terribly miserable show for vendors and shoppers.  I buzzed through the booths late this afternoon after knitting at Right off the Sheep with the ladies.  I was pretty good and only purchased two wooden cooking utensils and a conditioning cream.  The artist was from Pennsylvania and said he'd be back in Michigan for two more shows later this year.  It's kind of like a 'carnie' life.

From there I went to my quilting friend Pam's showing of her new line of knitting needles.  The straight needles are hexagonal and made from Michigan cherry tree wood have a cute copper finial.  I'll take pictures tomorrow of both the cooking utensils and the new needles, and hopefully have a review of both items.

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Unexpected Find

Today I spent the glorious sunny morning in my flower beds.  Yes, I do have some flowers.  Unfortunately it's been so rainy lately that the weeds and grass have taken off like...weeds!  Isn't it amazing how grass can grow everywhere but where you need it to grow?

I was so tired from working in the yard I felt like I wanted to take a Motrin and then a quick nap.  But I didn't.  Instead I got caught up on my email.  There was an alert from my quilting friend Pat about an estate sale that was only a couple of streets over from me.  Well, I had to go check it out.  There was supposed to be all sorts of antique quilts, blocks, books, etc. from a quilter who has been losing her eyesight.

I headed over to the house and when I let myself in, I was the only shopper there.  I'm not sure how many had come before me but there were plenty of great items for collectors still available.  I pored through many books and decided on three that had loads of antique quilt pictures, overflowing with inspiration for potential needle felting designs for my wool coats.

I also spotted a Shoo Fly quilt top that I knew I couldn't leave without.  I ran back out to my car to get my purse and made a quick phone call to my quilting friend Deb, whose favorite block is the Shoo Fly.  'Sure' she said and I added the quilt top to my loot.  The quilter, 90 year old Lois Lance, gave me the history of the quilt top, which I jotted down so Deb will know and can add it to the quilt label someday. 

According to Lois, the quilt top was made by Rachel Hampton of Detroit, prior to 1920.  I'm guessing by the shirting fabrics that were used that the fabrics look more like late 19th century.  We have a few friends who are well versed in dating fabrics so I'm sure they'll love to take a stab at its age.  Rachel was the grandmother of Lois's friend, Alice Hampton Ross, who she had met in 1936.  Rachel's husband had fought in the Civil War so you know it's an old quilt top.

I left with my bundle of treasures and came home.  After laying the quilt out on the front lawn I snapped a few pictures ~~

Isn't is a beauty?  It's definitely not pristine but it is hand pieced and well executed ~~

I'm hopeful that most of the spots will come out with a good washing.  One of the curious things about antique quiltmakers is that they didn't care if they didn't have enough fabric -- they just sewed an extra strip on and made it work -- without Tim Gunn to coach them along!  You can barely see the extra piece attached to the red rectangle below ~~

So I hope my friend Deb will be pleased with her new acquisition.  I'll take it to our quilt guild board meeting next Thursday unless I'm able to drop it off tomorrow after attending a party in Rochester.  More on that function tomorrow....


You HAVE to view this video (you have to sit through a short ad first).  It's guaranteed laugh out loud.  If you don't laugh out loud, I'll refund your money.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Quilt Guild Pics

Last night was our quilt guild meeting.  I ran around like a wild woman, writing checks, collecting cash -- such a dutiful treasurer.  Our speaker couldn't make it due to trouble trying to cross over from Canada.  We were fortunate enough to have a member trunk show in her place.  I snapped a few pictures of the Show n Tell quilts.

First is Sue's quilt from the Diane Hire workshop in March ~~

And here's a member's quilt from the Kat Campau workshop in April ~~
It's so refreshing to see finished projects from workshops.  I think in all the different workshops I've taken I've only finished one project.  I know that it's more important to learn new techniques, but really!

Here are a few more quilts that I enjoyed seeing last night ~~

This giant quilt was made by Lucy ~~
A bit of a different view ~~

And finally, two quilts made by one of our guild's most prolific quilters.  Robin hand pieces and hand quilts all of her quilts -- not too many modern quilters can say that.  And I've been to her home to see her in action.  She has the tiniest fabric stash I've ever seen -- all of what she has is stored in a trunk -- taking up about 3" of room in the bottom of a trunk in her hallway.  Astonishing!

The first quilt was made with fabric her grandchildren gave her ~~
And a close up ~~

And one more quilt made from reproduction fabrics ~~

And another close up ~~

I also have a couple of pictures from my Mother's Day dinner out last Monday.

First up, Holly and Mike -- hard to believe they've been married nearly a year.  Where does the time go?

And lastly our entire group -- I think the photographer needs to stick to his  regular job as a waiter.  Pretty shaky shot ~~

Tonight I'm sitting home.  Not unusual you say?  Well, most of my knitting friends are gathered up north for a retreat.  Once more, I decided not to spend the money but I'm missing out on all the frivolity.  Worse yet, I'll have to hear the stories of all the wonderful goings on when they get home.  I'm just going to knit myself crazy instead!