Monday, December 11, 2017

Needles...Pine and Otherwise. Oh, and Music!

Common Threads met at Lynda's this past week.

Lynda had Holly on the floor in front of her tree. (That's Holly, with the toy in her mouth.) Lynda has been sad since loosing her therapy dog, Porter, so she adopted Holly. Holly is a Labradoodle...that sheds. However, she is very sweet and well behaved. Her previous "owner" (aka "Mom") went into hospice, so she needed a good home.

If you look closely at the tree, you can see some of Lynda's birds. (From A Field Guide to Knitted Birds by Arne & Carlos.

Everyone seemed to be working on something having to do with Christmas. Except for me. I was hand-quilting my "Delectable Pathways" by Mary Sorensen (bottom of the page, if you follow the link, and my colors are different). I'm getting there!

Karan was working on theses fun Christmas appliqué designs.

She and Margareth have been specializing in wool appliqué.

Park City Singers has been rehearsing for their holiday concerts. The first performance was held on Sunday evening (last night). Here's a rehearsal photo. I'm standing in front, next to one of the few people shorter than I am, our youngest member, Maya, who is 11 years old and a very good singer.

Our first performance wasn't perfect, but it was better than the last rehearsal and definitely approaching outstanding. I just wish some of the other sopranos would get it through their heads that we sopranos don't always have the melody. It was fun, and I know next Saturday will be even better. We got a standing ovation because...well, relatives were in the audience.

We expected Alister last Saturday, but there delays and cancelled flights (caused by a thunderstorm in Memphis) that created a domino effect all other the country. We finally had news (from USPS tracking) that he was due to arrive on Monday. I didn't tell them until the tracking said "out for delivery." The (we already had a boy at this point) took turns waiting. Vroni has done this several times now, so she hauled the rocking chair up on top of the cookie tin to watch in comfort, while Matti and Lotte kept peering out the window and jumping around to see over the geraniums. (Matti made good use out of the box of soup.)

Finally Alister arrived and was released from his traveling compartment. He posed for this photo, before being engulfed by new friends who had been hanging out downstairs.

He came to me from Houston, where he was displaced due to Hurricane Harvey. He is well behaved, which you would expect from a southern gentleman. He took off his hat as soon as he arrived. That's a stuffed toy cat in his other hand. Our boy population has doubled! New word for the kids: "Y'all," not to be confused with the plural version, "all y'all."

We went to see Newsies Wednesday evening, and some of the characters reminded me of Alister. 

Besides hand-quilting my "Delectable Pathways," I've been working on the design of a twinset (knitted top and cardigan) to accompany a skirt from Lilli & Fleur Couture. We keep changing things, but I think we're getting close. Vroni (in the middle) is wearing what is close to the final version, longer, and with a rounder, smaller neck. It still needs tweeking. 

Twinsets instead of Newsies. Well, they're twinsies and new sets.

Here she is with the cardigan.

I plan to work on the final version this week, and the cardigan to go with Mandy's Huckleberry Heather top (to the far left, in the photo of all three "girls" together.) The designer also wants a sleeveless shell to go with the cardigan for warmer weather. The things we do to keep our brains in shape! Stay tuned.

Oh, and the horses arrived in Texas two days ahead of time. The other grandmother said they were "awaiting their riders." Clearly she's on my wave length.

What's on my needles: Still designer knitting

What's on my Featherweight: Waiting for me to get back into my fiber studio.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Still listening practice audio for Park City Singers' holiday concert.

What's in my wine glass: Lindemann's Cawarra Shiraz-Cabernet. IMHO, good for the voice.

What's my tip of the week: If you invite company for Thanksgiving dinner, insist that they must take the turkey carcass with them when they leave, as payment for all your work. It's the least they can do and a shame to throw it away, but you will have to do so, unless you want to use it to make stock.
Bonus "tip of the week:" If you have a "tip of the week," write it down before your DH starts talking to you, asking what to do with the soup made from the aforesaid turkey stock, or you might forget it.
Especially if you're a vegetarian.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals or dolls were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Departures and Arrivals

The quilt my friends and I worked on together for Habitat for Humanity's local fundraiser arrived in its new home and is installed on the wall.

It's all about homes for people, and it's good to see the quilt in a home of its own. Many thanks to Davidene at Davidene's Quilt Shop for helping me find the perfect border fabric, and to the ladies from Vintage Stitchers and Park City Quilt Guild for working on it.

There was no stitching group last week because it was the 5th Thursday. However, there was a lot going on. The girls said goodbye to the horses, Blackie and Brownie.

They helped me braid the manes and tails, so the hair wouldn't tangle during their trip to Texas to meet some real horses and a couple of the grandkids. (They provided moral support, while I did the actual combing and braiding.) 

These are really good-quality horses for dolls this size. The dolls can sit on top of them with no fear of having the horses topple over, as happens with some horses made for dolls. The feet are spread enough apart that they are very stable. (Stable...horses? I sense a joke there.) 

Blackie and Brownie went into a very large box, along with a few little presents, and are now on their way, expected to arrive on Thursday, but in plenty of time for Christmas.

No sooner were Blackie and Brownie on their way to Texas than Matti (My Sibling "Matty") arrived. 

He's getting acquainted with the girls. He will live with me for a while and act as a model for clothes for the dolls belonging to our three grandsons (more of his kind, but with varying eye and hair color). Dolly and Matty have soft, cuddly bodies, like American Girl dolls. When his services are no longer needed as a model, he will go to a new home to benefit a charity not yet chosen, along with a trunkful of clothes. Matty has a special mission, though, which you can read about if you visit the My Sibling Doll website.

Also arriving in plenty of time for Christmas but too late for Thanksgiving, are the blossoms on our "Christmas Cactus" which I'm told by an online friend who knows these things, is really a Thanksgiving Cactus, Schlumbergera truncata. 

He says to keep it where we can see it, but with not too much light and not too warm. (Ha-ha! No worries about being too warm in our house!)

We had one arrival that didn't happen as scheduled. I was expecting Kidz 'n' Cats Alister (pre-loved) to arrive from Houston. His previous owner/mother?/significant other tells me he speaks Southern. That should be interesting. Anyway, he was supposed to arrive Saturday, but there was some kind of problem, and the tracking record has that he was on his way to Park City from Salt Lake City Saturday morning, arrived back in Salt Lake City Sunday morning and left again within a few minutes. Personally, I think they are covering up for the fact that he jumped ship in Park City to take advantage of the fresh snow at one of the local ski resorts, having heard that a good time to ski in Park City is Sunday morning, because most people are in church. I'm hoping he arrives today (Monday). Alister is a refugee from the floods in Houston. I expect he won't want to see water again for a while.

I'm working on a project for Lilli & Fleur Couture. It's a doll knitting pattern, but that's all I can say. (To knit for dolls, not for dolls to knit for themselves.)

For some cuteness, our younger granddaughter, Daphne, appeared in the Ballet La Crosse production of A Little Princess. This was her first performance where people had to pay to get in. Here she was last summer, during our camping trip, practicing some graceful moves on a tree stump.

Here she is with her mother after a successful performance.

What's on my needles:  A project for Lilli & Fleur Couture.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Music for Park City Singers.

What's in my wine glass: Fish Eye Shiraz, 2015. (Mandy says 2015 is a good year. She is a Götz Katie 2015.)

What's my tip of the week: A knitting tip. Knitting in the round is easy and creates stitches that are more even than knitting and purling, but unless you have a steek, you end up with a point that sticks up where you tie off your yarn. 

You can simply connect to the other end of your last row, and it will look OK, but for a really nice finish, you can make it look like one continuous line of stitches along the edge. Here's how I do it. Break the yarn and then pull it through the last stitch. This locks the yarn so it won't ravel.

Find the two legs of the stitch at the top of the first vertical row of stitches at the beginning of the row, shown at the left of the jog in the photo above. Insert your yarn needle threaded with the tail under each leg in either direction (front to back or back to front), avoiding any other stitches below that stitch. It should look like this. (I inserted it front to back.)

Pull the needle through the stitch and insert it into the middle of the stitch the yarn tail emerges from. (Find where the yarn comes out of that last stitch you made and insert your needle there. In this photo, I've turned my work around, so the last stitch knitted is on the left. The inside of my work (a doll sweater sleeve) is under my thumb.

Pull the needle through to the WS and run it through a few stitches to secure it, then cut it off, and you have a nice, neat edge.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals or dolls were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Help

Well, it was a busy week. No Vintage Stitchers, no Common Threads, but the H-word, Thanksgiving dinner, cooking, eating and guests. I did finish Vroni's turtleneck, though.

I wanted to make the pattern available on Ravelry, so I worked up another one to test the pattern. Lotte and Vroni each have one now.

The pattern is available in my Ravelry store here. They're selling like hotcakes. (Of course, the fact that that pattern is free may have something to do with it.) Several people have already finished theirs.

Thanksgiving was nice. I fixed a turkey, which I didn't eat, but our guests enjoyed it. Our next-door neighbor, who helps us with things from time to time came and my friend Lynda and her husband, who live in our neighborhood. Our next-door neighbor brought a pumpkin pie, and Lynda made an apple pie and a Brussels sprouts recipe that was heavenly. 

I made the traditional Lanttulaatikko (the Finnish rutabaga casserole my MIL always used to make for holidays) and a Quorn Turk'y Roast. I also made yams, stuffing and salad, and expertly opened cranberry sauce from Trader Joe's, and  Pacific Wild Mushroom gravy (because it's vegetarian, and everyone could eat it). Needless to say (but I'm saying it anyway), we have leftovers.

Lynda and her husband offered to stay and do the dishes, but I insisted on waiting until the next morning, when I could do them peacefully alone. Imagine my surprise when I got up on Friday morning and found this:

The little rascals didn't notice me at first. They had one to wash and two to dry.

Then they saw me. "Oh, good morning! You're up!"

Because the dishes were stacked (sort of) on the left, they gave the lefty the job of washing. I don't think Vroni ever saw me.

They were doing a good job, so I left them to it. (Yes, I know Lotte is wearing pearls to do the dishes, but she's organizing and managing.)

I think they know we are traveling over Christmas, and only one of them can come along.

Things to do this week: Get the horses and other Christmas presents mailed off. Clean up my fiber studio. Wish me luck!

What's on my needles: Part 2 of a design in development.

What's on my Featherweight: Coats.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Still listening to music for the Park City Singers Holiday Concert.

What's in my wine glass: Lanzos Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, from Spain. Because of the label. Lynda brought it to our house for Thanksgiving, again, because of the label.

What's my tip of the week: If you have a bread machine, you can mix up (on the dough cycle) a loaf of bread, remove the dough from the pan, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for one of those busy days. The day you plan to serve it, take it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw entirely. Let it rise in the pan you plan to cook it in (without the wrap, of course) and bake it as usual when it has risen enough. It will rise more slowly, because the yeast has been sleeping in the freezer. 
I keep my yeast in the freezer, because I buy it in bulk to save money, and it keeps nicely there for months.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals or dolls were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Turkey Trot

 It's that time again!

I made it to Park City Quilt Guild, held at Davidene's Thursday evening. Lynn gave a demonstration of how to make pillow cases with enclosed seams. She used this method.

The quilters had some great stuff to show, like this Kaleidoscope quilt.

There was this rail fence quilt top, using fabrics left over from a baby quilt this quilter made, I think for her niece.

There were some fabrics in this she thought she would never use. Here's the back:

There was also this Mickey Mouse quilt, from a panel in the center, but the quilter made it her own.

Common Threads met at Georgette's earlier in the day. Kathleen had finished the scarf she has been working on ever since she started coming to our meetings.

Karan is still working with wool flannel. She had finished this block:

And Margareth was decorating this wreath:

Lynda has taken up Brioche knitting. She says if you make a mistake, don't think you can fix it on the next round. It's fun, but it's complicated.

Mandy came with me to demonstrate steeks. She forgot to bring her own knitting, but she entertained herself with the birds Lynda is working on for Christmas Ornaments.

On Friday, we got our first blizzard of the year.

As often happens, our power went out and was out for 4 1/2 hours. Fortunately, we have a gas stove, so we can cook on the burners if we light them with a match. We also have a wood-burning fireplace on the main level and a Jøtul gas stove downstairs, which can heat the whole house if we leave the door to the downstairs open. We need this so the pipes don't freeze during outages. This was Lotte's first experience with real snow.

Since the power was out, so was the TV and the Internet. Mandy suggested she teach them to knit.

When it got too dark to see to knit, they sat in front of the fire and looked at a quilting book, discussing what kind of quilt they would like to make.

You might have noticed that Mandy is wearing her new steeked Fair Isle sweater.

Lotte wants one, but I'm working on Vroni's turtleneck, so she will have to wait.

You can't tell from the photo, but the color is sort of an aqua. It's a nice match for the pants she will wear with it. This time, I'm making up a pattern that will fit the girls. I'll make it available for free in my Ravelry store, along with the Fair Isle sweater I made for Mandy.

In the meantime, you won't hear from my blog before Thanksgiving, so have a happy one.

Be careful shopping next weekend. Online is safest. My Sibling is having a 20% off sale. Use the code: CYBERWEEKEND2017 at checkout.

What's on my needles: Vroni's turtleneck.

What's on my Featherweight: Getting ready for coats.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Music for Park City Singers Holiday Concert.

What's in my wine glass: Fish Eye Shiraz, 2015 vintage.

What's my tip of the week: If you live in an area prone to power outages, keep your devices charged up, or you can also get an emergency power supply to charge them if the power goes out. Just remember to keep it charged.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals or dolls were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Coffee, Tea and "Treats"

As always, there were some lovely projects to see at Vintage Stitchers.

Barbara, who hosted, had received  this lovely appliqué quilt back from the quilter. The photo, sorry to say, doesn't do it justice. She told us she had used the binding fabric (the same as the border) for something else. Marilyn thought she might have some of it in her stash.

Here's the back:

A relative had asked her for an "autumn quilt," so she put this top together. She found she had enough blocks for quilt for another relative. She will put a border on it.

Then she showed us this quilt she had made for a widowed friend to give to another friend who had helped her when her husband died.

Carol had this wall hanging almost finished, just in time for Christmas.

Several people were knitting or doing embroidery. I worked on hand-quilting my "Sistine Chapel." (I could finish it quickly if I just put away my toys and worked on it.)

Speaking of toys, we finally got to have the tea party to celebrate Lotte’s arrival.

Lotte wore one of the dresses I made for her long before she left England to come here.

You’d think tea party would have gone off without a hitch; the girls have been planning for sooooooo long. They managed to get into their dresses and set the table in the little "breakfast nook." 

They have five of everything in the cutlery, but they only have four of the regular chairs and four of everything in the tea set. Dolly offered to use a cup and saucer from the old set, because she said "Mum" bought it back before any of the others lived with us.

Gabi had brought in an extra chair from the nursery. She said she should use the odd chair anyway, because she was in charge of the tea, and would be getting up and down. (Actually, she's better at standing than sitting, anyway.)

Gabi brought the tea she had prepared in the kitchen, and each of the girls offered her their cup to fill. They chatted about how nice it was to finally be able to have their tea party, so long postponed because of Lotte’s delayed departure from England and then Rocky’s injury, because they needed Mum to help with the table and tablecloth, and to provide the treats. (I really had to scrounge around the kitchen to find "treats" that looked to be of scale.) The girls talked about how nice it was to have snow on the ground and what they would do for fun when they went out.

Speaking of treats…Mandy picked up one of the miniature donuts. “Doesn’t this remind you of a giant Cheerio?” she asked the girls.

After a moment’s silence, Vroni asked, “Has anyone tried the cookies?”

I probably won't be allowed to provide the food for their next tea party.

I'm working on another stranded and steeked doll cardigan, this one with a shaped neckline, avoiding the need for a steek to make the neck opening, which some people find too challenging. A shaped neckline, requires some knitting flat, which adds a challenge when purling back across the wrong side, because you can't see the pattern, just the last row of stitches. Fortunately, I managed to minimize the pattern work at that point, with most of it being either solid or a checkerboard, so you know to use the opposite color as the stitch you're knitting into. Here's how it looked after the steeks were cut and before I joined the shoulders.

I changed the motifs, too, because I've made this sweater so many times with the old ones. I needed a change. 

The neck ribbing was easier without the steek stitches in the way. The button/buttonhole bands are done, too. Now I'm working on the first sleeve. It's for Mandy, so she had to try it on.

You can see we had to get a second opinion. I'm using my 6" dpns for the sleeves, but I worked the body in the round with two circular needles.

Lotte's hair is very pretty, but it had some tangles and seemed slightly gummy when compared with Mandy, so on the advice from a couple of doll "experts" I gave her a shampoo on Saturday, using baby shampoo and a mild conditioner. Here she is, wondering how long it will take to dry.

I ended up putting her on my bed under the ceiling fan, because the hair dryer was taking too much of my time, having to use the low setting and hold it at least 8" away. She had a nice nap on my bed while I was able to knit. Her hair was much nicer after it dried, and I was able to get the tangles combed out.

Saturday evening, Felicia, who sings with our choir regularly, and Keith, who sings with us occasionally, had a concert of fun and/or emotional songs as a benefit for the People's Health Center in Park City, which provides health care to people who have no insurance and limited means. It was a treat to listen to them sing.

My shoulder had been bothering me for several weeks, and I was worried I might have a fracture (a sign of thinning bones) or a repetitive-motion injury (a sign I needed to stop typing and knitting--yikes!) It turns out my bones look good and the symptoms, including the pain my doctor caused by moving my arm in different positions, aren't consistent with a repetitive-motion problem, but indicate an infraspinatus sprain, probably from lifting a reluctant Dusty from the back seat of our car by reaching backwards from the door. The bad news is, she wants me to have physical therapy for a few weeks and see if that helps. I'll take my knitting. :-}

Rocky will have his stitches out today (Monday). We took the bandage off after three days, as directed. It was still swollen a week after the procedure, so our regular vet suggested an anti-inflammatory twice a day and a heating pad. The pups go to the groomer on Wednesday, as planned.

What's on my needles: Mandy's Fireside Snuggle, a Fair Isle doll sweater.

What's on my Featherweight: More doll clothes.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Just listening to music for the Holiday Concert.

What's in my wine glass: Crane Lake Malbec.

What's my tip of the week: When I'm knitting and picking up stitches around an armhole or along an edge for a ribbed border, I tend to lose count, or I get to the number I'm supposed to have and I still have more edge that needs stitches. I've found that if I just pick up stitches without counting, then count afterward, I can put stitch markers along the needle, evenly spaced, to tell myself where to decrease. Occasionally, I might be a stitch or two short, so I do a Make 1L or Make 1R distributed in the same way.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals or dolls were harmed during the production of this blog post.