Monday, February 28, 2011

2nd Blogoversary Giveaway!!

Welcome to my 2nd Blogoversary Giveaway!!  Woohoo!  I'm fairly certain when I began to write about my crafts and my life on 2/28/09 that I fully expected to abandon it before too long and stop writing.  This always happened when I was a kid and I got a new diary.  But this experience has been very different.  People I don't know stop by and visit, if only for a minute or to click on the links for other blogs or websites.  Friends and family let me know they follow my blog and enjoy my posts.  Thanks so much!!!

To thank everyone for their readership, however long you've been reading, I'm having a giveaway today.  But you already knew that, right?!

Here are the items I'm giving away to the three lucky readers who will be selected by  The winners will receive either a skein of Scheepjes Invicta Coloris wool/nylon sock yarn from Holland, a cute knitting needle roll pattern from Sue Spargo, or a collection of 26 5" Batik charm squares.

The contest ends at 9 pm EST on 3/4/11.  The rules are too darn simple:

  • Leave a comment saying what you like MOST about Winter!  Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you on Friday night.
The last time I had a giveaway one of the winners did not leave an email so I had to give her prize to someone else -- you don't want that happening to you, do you???

Honestly, thanks so much for stopping by and reading.  It's good to know someone can relate to all that's been going on in my life for the past two years.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Panic... setting in.  I had so many things I wanted to accomplish before going back to work.  There just aren't enough hours left before Tuesday morning.

I selected the wool for the front panels of my wool jacket and cut out the pieces.  They all now reside in a plastic tote that used to be beside my bed, housing lusted for alpaca that I bought 25 years ago.  I know you think I'm exaggerating but I assure you, I am not.  The alpaca has now taken its rightful place in my craft room beside other cherished skeins of alpaca.

I put away bundles and bundles of dyed wool fabric that were not selected for this jacket.  I feel so much better about my craft room -- it was in disarray for several weeks because of this project.  I'm placing yarn and the designated pattern for future projects in their own little canvas bags.  Lord knows I have plenty of project bags -- you too?????

Next up -- a dreaded giant black garbage bag -- waiting to be filled with all the useless nonsense that has been living on my night stand, my dresser, a side table, and the top of my bed.  See -- this is what happens when you don't deal with things.  I'm being ruthless.  Well, a little bit, anyway.  I think the clutter in my bedroom is contributing to the clutter in my head and causing me to sleep poorly.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I have one more day to make things right in my craft room too because after Tuesday it will serve as my home office.  I nearly had a meltdown yesterday when I was trying to write up four contracts for quilt guild speakers and had so much junk in my way I was spazzing out.  My computer desk is looking better today and I installed a new wireless mouse which rids me of that crazy cord that ALWAYS seemed to be caught on something.  I know you know what I'm talking about.

When things are organized and junk is gone I'm sure I'll be in a better mindset and ready to face the challenges my new job will present.

I'm watching a bit of the Oscars while I clean.  I haven't seen a single nominated film.  Sad, so sad.  I really need to take time to do such things.  Sitting in the dark for 2 hours would get in the way of my knitting, though.....

Oh, oh, oh --- almost forgot.  Don't forget to stop by tomorrow.  It's my 2nd Blogoversary and I'll be announcing my giveaways.  Yes, that's plural!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Color Scheme Designer

Are you looking for help in designing color work?  This website could be used for quilting, knitting, or even home decorating.  I'm adding the website to my sidebar list because I think I can use it in the future.  Have fun playing with colors!

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Lied

A bit more tweaking and I was able to upload the pictures.  Have I solved the problem?  Definitely not but tomorrow's another day Scarlett.

Here are the two new baby knits books by Debbie Bliss:

Both books are full of adorable knits.  Decisions, decisions.  This new grandbaby of mine will never be naked or cold or lonesome!

Well, crap

I was all set to post pictures of my new books and prospective projects but I'm having computer issues.  A friend got a bug that was sent out to everyone and her brother in her address book.  I had 17 Trojans removed from my computer with the last virus scan this morning -- thanks to my anti-virus software from Secunia for averting disaster.

Now I'm having trouble loading pictures.  Guess I know what I'll be working on tomorrow.

Today I got a phone call a little after 4:30 pm.  In a most uncomfortable way, the voice on the other end was advising me I'd have to pay back my pro-rated severance BEFORE I could start back at work next Tuesday.  This wasn't a surprise but really, could you wait any longer to tell me?!  I received the email from her advising me of the details at 4:46 pm.  -- the last mail pick up at the post office is 5:00 pm.  Yikes!  I ran around the house, writing a rather large check, looking for an envelope, stamp, address label.  Zoomed out of the house and down the road to the post office, arriving 3 minutes before closing.  Phew!  Not sure my check will get to Pennsylvania before Tuesday.  I might just have to not work that day, after all!

Hope you all have a great weekend.  Be productive whatever you do!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Count Down to Work

I've got only four days left until I go back to work.  How in the world am I ever going to get all my little projects done before then?  Simple -- I won't!  I'll have to squeeze them in between learning my new job.  No problem.

Today I had lunch with Holly's mother in law, Bonnie.  We had a good time but I have to say, it was the first time we've been together, just us, so it felt at times to me like a blind date.  Trying to make conversation with someone you barely know.  The purpose of our meeting, besides having a delicious lunch at Olive Garden, was to start planning a baby shower for Holly.  Bonnie had already contacted a pizza place that Holly thought of and brought along their menu options.  I think it will be great -- besides pizza, they offer salads and pasta, including Fettucine Alfredo -- Holly's favorite.  We'll have help from a couple of other gals and together we will have a wonderful party for Holly.

I was running low on gas so I stopped at Costco and paid $3.26 per gallon.  Yuck.  I sure hope this mess in the Middle East gets sorted out quickly.  I heard some quotes from Moammar Gadhafi today where he said the U.S. and Osama bin Laden were in cahoots together to overthrow him and that everyone was on drugs.  Scary!!  Sounds like he's  the one on drugs.

Tomorrow will be a busy day:  sewing up the Imagine sweater, sending out four contracts to quilt teachers, lunch with former co-workers (if the weather is NOT as bad as predicted) and poring over my new books -- they arrived today and I'll show them to your tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Only three days until my second Blogoversary -- look for a fabulous giveaway on Monday's post!

City Data

Today I clicked on the 'Do I Need A Jacket' button in my right sidebar.  I typed in my zip code and lo and behold, I DO need a jacket today.  Duh.  I knew that by looking outside because it's pretty nasty out there. I clicked on another link on that page that I'd never gone to before and discovered all sorts of data about my little area of the world.  Just about every statistic you could ever need is found here.  The data for my area is from 2009 but that's pretty close.  You can look up areas you might consider moving to, places where relatives or friends live, or just dream about living in warmer climates, like me today!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bonny Ireland

A few of my family and friends have journeyed across the big pond to Ireland.  I'll get there someday.  For now, we can all take a look at this great website and have a look around.

Burns My Biscuits

For the second time in less than a month I've been over-charged at the grocery store.  Actually, those are just the times I've noticed.  A couple of weeks ago I bought 2 pork loin chops that were on sale for $1.99 a pound.  I ended up getting charged for pork tenderloin, which was $5.99 a pound.  Today I went to the same grocery store after I got my hair cut.  This time I was charged for two bottles of Diet Pepsi, when I only bought one.  Arghhhhh.  It's not worth driving all the way over there but I'm tempted to send them an email just to get this off my chest.

What do you do when you discover you've been over-charged???

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Celery Root Soup

I know you're scratching your head -- celery root soup -- what the heck is that?  I got a celery root in my last box from Door to Door Organics and I wasn't sure what to do with it.  My sister Renee sent me a link to a salad from Lidia that used apples and celery root, which sounded good, but I wanted soup!

I found this recipe and bought the needed leeks at the store last weekend.  Horribly expensive -- $1.50 each!!  Anyhow, I started by peeling and cubing the celery root -- it smelled so mmm, mmm good.  Then I rinsed and sliced the leeks.  I heated up some olive oil and butter and then sauteed the leeks and a bit of garlic:

Next up, the cubed celery root, chicken stock, water, white pepper and chili powder:
They look a little like potatoes there, don't they?  The pot cooked for 45 minutes before blending it in my Ninja:
Small problem, I added a bit too much chili powder so it's a bit zippy for me but perfect for my roommate.  The recipe called for a scant 1/8 teaspoon - I tapped the side of the bottle and probably got a scant 1/2 teaspoon!  I thought the soup was very tasty but will definitely be more careful adding the chili powder next time!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Not Exactly as Planned

We got socked again with more snow than the weatherman originally forecasted last night.  Yesterday they told us we'd be getting 2-4 inches of snow.  Bzzzzzz -- wrong again.  We got nearly 10" at my house and it was heavy to shovel this morning.  Kevin had to get to work and I was parked behind him.  I know, note to self -- switch positions in the driveway next time!

People were getting stuck on my road all day long.  I saw a BMW having trouble pulling onto my street and he kept rocking and rocking his car.  Finally he had to stop to allow a funeral procession to pass by him before eventually making his way onto my street.  Another full size pick up truck worked for over an hour to make his way up my street.  At one point he was backing into my driveway and trying to get some traction.
Took this shot through my front window -- afraid he wouldn't appreciate me sticking my head out the front door to take it!

I had planned on going to a 'going out of business' sale at a yarn shop but decided:

  • didn't want to venture out in this weather
  • didn't really need more yarn, even at bargain prices
  • wanted to make a pot of soup
  • needed to move my sewing table into the craft room and move the desk into the utility room, thus involving more cleaning and organizing than anyone could possibly want to do
Nearly all of my intended tasks were completed.  I still have a bit of organizing to do in both rooms.  I made the soup, details coming tomorrow.  I did venture out across the street for a coney and fries, because I could walk there and not have to drive.

One of the benefits of changing out the tables is more heat is making it into the craft room.  The other arrangement was blocking the flow from the only register in the room.  Duh.

Hope you're all surviving the weather in your part of the world.  Can't wait for Spring to get here.  Someone on TV posted a sign somewhere that said 'To the person praying for more snow - please stop!'

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Brain Farts

Sometimes I have a hard time remembering whether or not I've bought something.  Usually this is related to craft books.  I know there have been times I've been standing in a quilt shop, staring at books, wondering if indeed I DID actually already purchase a particular book.  Has this ever happened to you?  You've looked and looked at something over and over again and just can't recall whether you've already bought it?

Yesterday I purchased the same yarn, in the same colorway, that I bought just two weeks ago at Knit Michigan. Duh.  I knew I really liked it but thought for sure I was picking a different colorway.  Uh, no, not this time:
Knitting on the Fringe gave away a free dropped stitch scarf pattern with the purchase of this scrumptious yarn.  I cast on for the scarf late last night and I finished knitting it this afternoon:

The colors are so rich and saturated -- no wonder I love it!  Besides, what's not to love about 100% baby alpaca???

I used my Hamanaka Futte Futte felted ball maker last week.  Here are my first two efforts:
They're not super firm so I think I might try to felt them some more.  It was a really super easy process -- much faster than felting by hand.  I've got plenty of roving to use for more of them!

Once I completed knitting the dropped stitch scarf at Right off the Sheep today, I looked around for a yarn I could use for a second scarf.  I choose this yarn from Reynolds:

I started picking up the stitches for the neck edge of the Imagine sweater after selecting the Smile yarn.  Now I just need to finish knitting the neck and get going on sewing it all together.  

Early day tomorrow with the plumber arriving at 9 am.  You have to remember, I'm still on 'vacation' so I'm not used to getting going so early on a Monday morning!  I hope he's not too costly!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fiber Fumes

Happy happy, joy joy. A sea of fibery goodness awaited us at the Spinners Flock Fleece Fair. More fiber than any one person could ever hope to use in their lifetime. Thank goodness, I only left with a bit of roving and a couple of skeins of yarn.

A bright shade of lime in a wool/mohair blend, spun by Haltwhistle Fibres from Liz Cowdery fibers.  Odd thing is, I think I have some of this roving!

Kate was auditioning these hanks of handspun but knowing her preferred colors, was there any real doubt they'd go home with her:

I had four other BSKG members in my car and we stopped at several more places after the Fleece Fair: lunch in Northville, not memorable, Center Street Knits, and Knitting on the Fringe, which had recently moved to their new location.  Loved both shops for different reasons:  great ambiance and yarn at Center Street Knits; lots of yarn, patterns, and buttons to pick from at Knitting on the Fringe.

I have to say I'm whipped from all the driving and the yarn fumes.  I might think about casting on a new scarf  tonight but then again, I just might put my jammies on and call it a day!

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Friday, February 18, 2011


I didn't get much of anything done today.  Some days are just like that and that's okay.  I had lunch with my friend Sue at Cafe Muse in Royal Oak -- yummo!  That was the highlight of the day.  No knitting, no sewing, just killing time on the internet.  I'm off in a couple of minutes to play cards with Sue, her husband, and their friends.  Can't be out too late -- tomorrow is the Spinners Flock Fleece Fair -- woohoo!!  If you live within 100 miles of Chelsea, you HAVE to go!!  I'll have a lot to share tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

No Knitting Today

I took a day off from knitting and got a bunch of things done in its place.  I put away the outplacement firm tools and notes I took from their multiple webinars.  Filed away the retirement letter from the CEO.  Tried to scan in the quilt guild's contract -- ack.  Formatting was all over the place so I just re-created it in Word instead.  Now I can send it off to two different teachers.

I bet I forgot to mention I 'volunteered' to be the 2nd vice-president for GLHQ next year, right?  Yep.  Did it before in 1999-2000 but now there's so much technology involved in catching up to the speakers, wherever they may be.  I've got some great teachers lined up -- just have to get the signed contracts back and work on the logistics.

I had a 'come to Jesus' discussion with my roommate this morning.  It was definitely one of those 'I'm talking and you're listening' talks.  It's time for him to find a job with steady pay.  I told him about a resume writing workshop at the community college and he went over there and networked with the instructor.  He really needs to find something in his degree, marketing, but honestly, there just hasn't been much of anything around here for the last several years in his field.  Times are improving and it's his chance to test the waters again.  So said I.

I picked up a few groceries and stopped at Frentz & Sons Hardware to ask about my new toilet problem.  One of the bolts is loose and I had a feeling the flange was broken.  Mike Frentz suggested that the floor could be bad too and suggested someone to do the work for me.  In 1997 I completely re-did the bathroom, mostly by myself and I remember the sub-floor being a little tenuous.  I called the carpenter/plumber guy and he came right over.  He checked it out carefully and will pull the toilet on Monday morning and see if it's just the flange that needs replacing.  Please say it is, please say it is.  Otherwise it's a 3 day project and a few thousand dollars.  Ugh.  Since this is a one bathroom house, we can't be without it, so there aren't too many options.

Moving on to better topics.......I picked up some fresh cilantro, scallions, a lime, and some honey to make a scrumptious broiled salmon with pineapple salsa dish.  Fresh baby spinach and a butternut squash from Door to Door Organics completed the meal.  Yummo!

Close up of the fabulous salsa and glazed salmon:

I'm off to bed early.  I think the pending plumbing repair is taking a toll on my psyche.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bare Necessities

Today for lunch I made myself a peanut butter & jam sandwich.  I can't even tell you the last time I had one but when I was at the grocery store last week I had to buy their honey roasted peanut butter and a jar of Smucker's Raspberry Jam.

It was soooooo good.  I'll have to make myself another one tomorrow!  I love the mixture of sweet peanut butter with tart jam -- it really it the spot.  When I was a kid I had more PB & J sandwiches than I can recall but today's was especially mmm, mmm good.

I finished knitting a chemo hat for a friend of my niece.  A bare necessity in the truest form:
I used a yarn from Universal Yarn called 'Cotton Supreme Batik'.  The pattern came from the Knit Michigan website.  It had a wacky decrease to give it the scalloped edge but once I did it, it looked pretty nice.  I have one more hat to knit with this yarn in a different colorway.

I blocked the Imagine sweater pieces today and got the shoulder seams done.  Now I have to pick up around the neck edge.  I should be able to get that done tonight.  Tomorrow I'll sew in the sleeves and finish the seaming.  I'll be glad to get this sweater done.  I only started it 2 years ago.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Door to Door Organics

Ack!  I ran out of storage space on Picasa.  Had to buy 20 GB of storage today.  So here are the pics I thought I couldn't post.

Today's delivery from Door to Door Organics:

Inside were two new to me items: a bunch of rapini and celery root.  Huh?  What to do with them?  Cmon -- someone has suggestions.

In addition I bought a couple of extra things.  Now, I don't want to see any wrinkled up faces.  I bought a pound of organic beef liver (oh, I can already hear the comments), some russet potatoes, and a couple of onions.  I can see a yummy skillet full of liver and onions and some whipped potatoes on the side.  Damn the cholesterol, full speed ahead!  I can see my iron count going up already.

I also bought Maggie more of the organic dog treats that she loves.  How do I know she loves them?  Oh, an owner knows when their pet adores their treats.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Official

Kevin really is sick.  He went to the doctor, not once, but twice today.  Strep Throat, Bronchitis, and Pink Eye. I think half the reason he went back again is because he said the doctor was gorgeous.  I bet he gets 'sick' a lot more often now.

I finished the second sleeve on the Imagine sweater and needed to grab something fast to knit on tonight at Panera's.  I decided to start a chemo hat for the friend of my niece who's battling breast cancer.  The pattern had some wacky decreases but I managed to get through them with Harriet's help and now I'm on to knitting the balance of the hat.  

I made a couple of felted balls today using my new Futte Futte ball maker that arrived last Friday.  I'll have pictures tomorrow of the felted balls and the chemo hat.

For now, I'll leave you with a cute Moonwalk video.  Some people are very good at it, and some people, well, let's just say they're not professional dancers.  People from all over the world submitted their home videos.  Sometimes I watch the concentration in their faces more than the movement of their feet!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Sick Man

My roommate has been ailing for about 6 days now.  He should have gone to the doctor 4 days ago but didn't.  I sure do hope he goes tomorrow.  You know how men suffer.  Good thing women don't act like that or the whole world really would come to a standstill.

I'm making good progress on the last sleeve for my Imagine sweater and should have it finished tomorrow.  Next, I'll need to block it and then sew it up and it will be one more old project checked off of my list.  One more thing to finish, Joanie's vest, and then I'll be ready to move on to a new project.  Can't wait.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Delightful Day

It's finally warming up a bit around here and the sun shone for a bit -- relief from grey skies!  Today was our Mystery Quilt Day for the quilt guild and it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.  Good food, great friends, and a bit of progress made on the quilt top that I cut out the fabric for yesterday.
It doesn't look like much but that sliced and diced fabric represents about 5 hours of work.  I'm not a fast cutter or a fast piecer.  I'm not even a fast shopper when it comes to picking out the fabrics either!  I managed to get the center of the quilt pieced today and will have pictures, eventually.

Yesterday I received my order from Purl Soho:

Inside were these interesting items:

A Japanese felt ball maker, one felt sewing needle, and a couple skeins of embroidery thread.  Stay tuned for the resulting projects.  Pay no attention to the fact that I don't read a lick of Japanese and am hoping the instructions are easy enough to figure out.

I also received my 'retirement' gift courtesy of the UPS delivery man:
It's a very nice set of knives from Henckel.  Hope I get to keep them since I've already used them!

Well, I'm off to put all of the quilting supplies back in their rightful places before I need them and can't find them.  

Hope you had a wonderful Saturday, too!

Friday, February 11, 2011


Lots to say but no time to say it!  I've been getting my fabric ready for tomorrow's quilt day with my Chicken friends and the rest of the GLHQ guild.  I'll have more time tomorrow to write and show you what I'm up to.  For now, I've got to pack up my sewing machine, gear, and fabric and be ready for my ride tomorrow at 7:45 AM.  More later..........

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bad News/Good News Day

Today I had lunch with my longtime friend Meg at Lockhart's BBQ in Royal Oak.  The food was delicious and it was so good to get caught up with Meg.  We figured we met back in 1988 when she started working at MetLife -- that's a long term friendship, eh?

I know you're waiting to hear Bad News/Good News, right?  Well the bad news vacation is coming to an end.  The good news is....I'm going back to work at MetLife!  Woohoo!  I better hurry up and finish all those projects I started while on vacation..........

Graphing Help

Tuesday night at the Black Sheep Knitting Guild meeting, Tanya demonstrated two-handed fair isle knitting.  I've done some of this and it's always a kick to get both hands going at the same time!  I came across some software from Denise's NeedleWorks to help you craft a design and see how it looks in different colors.  You can find it here, do the little free demo and for the low, low price of $10 you can download it and be on your way to designing something fabulous to knit!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On a Mission

Today I headed out early because I had two webinars to get back home for this afternoon.  My mission:  find fabric to use for a project for Saturday's Mystery Quilt Day.  I'm not doing the actual mystery quilt -- you can work on it or any other project you choose.  I'm getting a head start on a baby quilt for the bun in the oven, otherwise known as my future grandchild.

I got to the quilt shop only to find the door still locked.  It was darn nippy still at 10:05 AM.  The shop was to open at 10 AM.  I knocked.  I knocked again.  Darn if the woman I like the least opened up the door.  Nevermind her, I thought, I'm on a mission.  Like a little elf I got to work picking out just the right fabrics.  I had chosen a design from Judy Laquidara's 'Weekend Quilts' book, mostly because she said it could be finished in 6 hours, once you had cut the pieces.  I'm holding her to it, too!

I started by searching for the binding fabric, which is odd I know, but follow along, I promise it will work.  Here's the fabric I selected:

From there I pulled six fabrics to go with the binding fabric:

Then I needed to get nearly three yards of background.  Originally I was going to go with a plain white but then I saw this:

Most people who know me, know I stick to a plain ol' background, usually, but not today.  Today I stepped outside my comfort box and selected this fabric, which was from the Dr. Seuss line (it's actually really white, not creamy - naughty camera).  The only thing left to choose was the backing.  I saw a great green fabric that had the word 'ribbit' all over the place and that would have been great for my frog loving daughter but there wasn't enough.  I looked and looked, settling on two different fabrics.  One was cutesy animals, which I discarded, and the other was one a little more grown up.  I didn't press it yet but I'll show you once I do.

This brings me to a question.  When you buy fabric for a quilt, do you pre-wash or not?  I think I'm in the minority in that I always pre-wash.  It's the only time I actually ENJOY ironing.  I know most of my Chicken friends do NOT pre-wash.  It seems like professional quilters are divided on this topic too.  Let me know whether or not you're a pre-washer in today's comments!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

As Promised

Here are the photos that were lacking from yesterday's post.  First off, the 'fist full of threads' that I won in Laura Wasilowski's blog giveaway:
Five beautiful, hand-dyed hanks of thread for embroidery in different weights  -- they're marvelous!  And here's a postcard showing her new book coming out really soon:
Laura is so clever!  Make sure you check out her blog -- maybe you could be a winner of threads too!

Next up is a better shot of my Bouquet Cowl that I finished on Saturday.  The yarn is from Pagewood Farm and is actually called U-Knitted Nations Handspun Bouquet.  I messed it up earlier.
I showed it to my Mom yesterday and she didn't quite understand how the pieces of roving got there.  Some things you just have to let go.

Finally, here is my Infinity Scarf, knit from the Fiesta Yarn's 'Ballet':

It is so scrumptious and soft, yet surprisingly warm.  Must be the alpaca.  Or is it the Tencel?  Both?  Anyway, I love it and will get a lot of use out of it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Good thing it's attached

I had another busy day today -- got the wiper motor replaced in the Montana -- I can see clearly again!  Finished knitting the Infinity Scarf while I waited the three hours at the repair shop.  I'll post pictures later.  Received my 'fist full of thread' prize in the mail today -- pictures coming later.  Went to my Mom's and felted two hats and a bag, then took her to Five Guys for burgers and fries.  She had never heard of them before and really enjoyed her meal.  Scooted over to Panera's to knit with Harriet when an odd thing happened -- the power went out.  We didn't miss a stitch, kept right on knitting until the power came back on a few minutes later.

I'm sitting thinking about what to write when all of a sudden, $#*!, I forgot the still-wet felted things in the car and it's going down to 5ยบ tonight!  Gotta run.....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Busy Weekend

Friday I had dinner at the Traffic Jam restaurant in Detroit with my friend Eddie.  My mac & cheese was delicious especially since I washed it down with not one but TWO Chai One On martinis.  Mmm, mmm, good. We saw the play "Of Mice and Men" at the Hilberry Theatre.  Well done, but definitely a downer play.  It was really great to see Eddie and get caught up.  Next up a sit 'n knit afternoon, hopefully soon.

Yesterday I picked up my friend Sue and we headed out to Knit Michigan, held at the Sacred Heart Academy in Bloomfield Hills.  This event is a fundraiser for several cancer charities in our area and we'd never been able to attend it because it always fell on our quilt guild's Mystery Quilt Day.  Not so this year.  We immediately hit the vendors for some retail therapy.  

There were knitting and crocheting contests, run by BSKG friends Tanya and her able assistant Harriet:

We enjoyed a quick bite of lunch, browsed the silent action items and bid on a few.  I managed to be the sole bidder on a Kim Diehl quilt book (yeehaw!) and Sue won a few things too.  It was a great outing for yarnies!

Unfortunately, while we were enjoying ourselves and forgetting our cares, Mother Nature was dumping more snow on us.  A storm moved quickly into our area and dumped about 4-5 inches of unexpected white fluffiness.  Snow.  I can honestly say I've seen enough this winter.

I cleared the car off but didn't get the snow off of the roof.  Big mistake.  Big.  After dropping Sue and her parcels off I was driving toward my house when a huge chunk of snow rolled off the roof and onto the windshield, completely obstructing my view.  My reaction, as you would expect, was to turn on the windshield wipers.  While I didn't have many options in the middle of the road, this proved to be a bad one.  The wipers could not clear the snow and stopped working.  I gingerly pulled over onto a side street and cleared the windshield with my trusty snow brush.  Damn.  This is the second time this has happened with this car since I got it in November.  I only had about a mile and a half to get home but it felt like 100 miles.  

As long as I was home I was going to be productive so I got out this crazy yarn I had bought earlier at the show:

It's a thick and thin wool from Pagewood Farm that has roving 'flowers' attached to it.  I'd seen it knit up and knew I had to have it.  Sue helped me wind it into a ball at Knit Michigan and with these simple tools:
I quickly knit up a cowl:
I used size 17 circular needles and when I got to a flower I purled that stitch so the flower would stay to the outside.  I think it took me about an hour to knit -- very fast knitting!  Here's a close up of the stitches and flowers: 

We had more snow today so I cancelled my dinner with my Mom and just stayed inside.  Tomorrow morning I'll be heading over to Belle Tire again to have the wipers repaired, after I clear off all of the new snow that fell today.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mackinac Island Retreat

My friend Jackie is organizing a wonderful craft getaway on Mother's Day weekend this year.  If you love to quilt or hook primitive rugs this is a great opportunity to take some super workshops with Polly Minick and Laurie Simpson on Mackinac Island.

The event is taking place at the beautiful, historic Grand Hotel.  The workshops are incredibly affordable and how often do you get a chance to stay at this world famous hotel?  The rates include many amenities and you get a real deal -- take a friend, take your Mom.  Mother's Day Buffet is included!!

Here's the brochure.  C'mon -- you know you want to attend!  Spaces are filling fast -- get your reservation in now.  A beautiful setting, wonderful accommodations, terrific instructors, and a chance to spend some quality time relaxing.  Can't get much better than that!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What I've Been Up To Lately

I started talking about the wool jacket project a while ago.  I bought the fabric just before Christmas and it sat on my kitchen table during the whirlwind Winter of 2011 clean up project in the laundry room.  Once I got the two collections of Aurifil Lana thread last weekend I was ready to put my plan into action.

I wasn't sure about the correct size to use to cut out the Vogue pattern so I took a jacket that fits well (except for the horribly long sleeves) and matched it up to the pattern pieces.  Never mind that I lost page three of the pattern during the major clean up effort.  After I cut out all of the pieces I noticed the pattern instructions called for 'moderate stretch knits'.  Hmmm.  This fabulous Donna Karan wool is definitely not a stretch knit but I moved forward anyway.  Tim Gunn spoke to me -- 'make it work'.

It took me a while to settle on the applique pattern, changing gears a bit, and deciding on a pattern from the Whimsicals' book, Out the Back Door.  After cutting out the templates I set about to gather the required wool.  This is where I really struggle.  Maybe if I didn't have so many options I would be able to get to work sooner.  Then again, isn't it nice to have a lot to choose from?  Catch-22 here.

I've found it's really best that I pick out the colors in the daylight and match thread colors at the same time.  Some of my choices must have been made at night.  Sigh.  I used my small rotary cutter for most of the pieces, with my super sharp Ginghers snipping the rest, and my Clover glass head pins to hold the various pieces in places while I assessed the layout.  I sent a text message to my Chicken friend Mary to get her opinion on the correct needle size for my machine.  Size 90, she said, unless the thread keeps breaking.
Notice something?  Yeah, me too, the heart was slanted so much that the right side was out of balance.  Easy to remedy.  I wrote out the order that each piece needed to be stitched onto the jacket back.  I had no intention of ripping anything out.  I did have a bit of trouble with threading some colors and a little breakage while stitching but overall, I love the thread.  Next time I think I'll use size 100 needles on my machine.  Here are close ups of the flowers:

Close ups of the hen and rooster:

The finished back: 

What did I learn?

  1. Select your wool and Lana thread to match or coordinate as closely as possible.
  2. Plan the piecing order carefully.
  3. Medium weight wool works best -- the pieces that look the most wonky were thick felted wool.
  4. Practice, practice, practice - buttonhole stitching on scraps to 'warm up'.
  5. Get a Lana threads color chart and stock up!
Don't look too closely -- remember the galloping horse rule.

Now on to the front pieces!