Sunday, December 27, 2009

Training Dogs

I don't think that you have to have owned a pet to enjoy this. But, if you do own a pet, you will certainly enjoy it!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A White Christmas! Where????

It all started on Christmas eve! Snow started falling early in the day, but since the day before had been a balmy 70F day, it took a while for it to start sticking. If I understood the news media right, there have been only 5 white Christmases in the Dallas area. The forecast was that it would melt early Christmas morning. Notice in this picture that in the distance you cannot see the end of our driveway, we were having a white out at this time. AND yes, those are leaves still on the tree in December. :)

Christmas moring arrived and I ran to the door. Did it melt, did it melt? Nope. The snow and ice were still there. We truly had a white Christmas at our home. Maybe not a lot of snow, but snow none the less.

And what does one need on a snowy blustery day? But, a new scarf. I received this fabulous hand knitted scarf for Christmas! Made for me by Deborah. I am so blessed to have such great friends. I absolutely love the colors in this scarf. I wore it all day and so far today.

Well, we braved the roads, which weren't too bad, and the further south we went the better they became. Actually, where we went for Christmas dinner, hardly had and snow or ice and it had melted when we arrived. We made it safe and sound. We actually went to extended family's home. Our son-in-law's brother's home. There we met up with our daughters. Here is the photographer/seamstress taking a picture of me, taking a picture of her. Oh, and she is wearing a shrug, that I made for her. I forgot to get a picture of it, before it left for her home, but there it is. I used Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. That is a great yarn.

Santa even sent a helper to distribute the gifts. How about that? She did a great job too.

Now if you remember the movie White Christmas, there was a song in there called Sisters. It starts out with, "Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters...." Well, here they are, the sisters. Both of our girls together in one photo. I had a funnier picture with bows on their heads, and then I heard, Anna say to Rebekah, "You know that is going to end up on her blog, if we don't pose nice." So, they posed nicely for your viewing pleasure.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! I am posting late, but it is still Christmas. Years ago, I knitted up the sweaters for this wreath and my daughter, Rebekah, made the bow and cranberry clusters that are on it. There are also baskets of yarn on here, but they are hard to see. Rebekah did the tree embroidery on the gold sweater too. I love to bring this wreath out at Christmas and see sweaters hanging on my wall. Years ago, my mom made this nativity in ceramics class. There are wisemen and shepherds in the set and also sheep! Cows and donkeys, oh, and a dog. But, I took the close up, because, after all this is what Christmas is really about. The greatest gift given us by God.

I hope you all have a blessed and happy Christmas season.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I'm baaaaack!

Christmas is always a busy season for almost everyone I know. But, for me it has become a different type of busy over the last few years. I disappear from my "normal" life and am absorbed into the life of The UPS Store. :) Our oldest daughter joins us too, when she is able and this year she spent as much time there as I did, that was very special fun for me. It is fun for me to be able to go to the store to work, and hopefully, a help to our crew at the store. I work between 30 and 40 hours a week coming into the Christmas holiday, to help our customers out. This year, we added a third till to our store, to keep lines down. AND it worked. What a great idea that was! Hurrah, to the UPS Store guy! We also served cookies, candy and pastries to our customers, to make their time in the store even sweeter. :)

On the project front I had seen a blog post about someone making tiny balls of yarn by wrapping yarn around styrofoam balls, and then making tiny knitting needles from dowel rods, cut short and sharpened at one end, then she glued beads on the unsharpened end and those were the knitting needles. After the glue dried, she then inserted the needles, criss-crossed, into the "ball" of yarn. For the finish, she tied yarn to the top of the ball and hung it as an ornament on the tree.

Here is what I did. I took a small amount of clean fleece(some that went through Himself the picker) and wound the yarn around that. (you can use a cotton ball if you want to) I ended up with a ball of yarn about 1 inch, maybe a little smaller, in diameter. Instead of the dowel rods, I used toothpicks and glued beads to one end of the toothpicks. I then inserted the toothpicks through the ball of yarn in a criss-crossed fashion. Instead of an ornament, I glued a magnet to the ball of yarn. The magnet has been the challenging part. Which glue to use? I tried E-6000 and thought, nope that won't work. So, I tried the hot glue gun. That worked great, or so I thought. Some have fallen apart. I am gluing those that fell apart with the E-6000 and leaving the hot glue on the yarn, it seems to be working wonderfully that way! Who would've thought to use BOTH glues?

Now, I didn't use the strip of magnets that you cut. I wanted to use a more substantial magnet. Well, the issue with that is, the magnets were so strong, that they kept sliding across the table and popping onto the others. Now, that doesn't sound like a problem, but when the glue isn't dry and the yarn balls are falling off all over the table.......... well. So, I had to devise a system. I had to keep them at least 3 inches apart, so I arranged 9 in a section of 3x3. Then placed a pile of books on top of them while they dried. That worked.

Below is the picture of the finished ones. To transport them with any sort of sane-ness, and not one huge huddled mess of magnets, I decided to attach them to an old baking sheet from a long gone toaster oven. Perfect. They travelled very obediently to the spinners Christmas party. Phew. Then came the time to take them off the tray! The spinners are very talented gals and they succeeded.

I did get some time to knit, too, over the last couple of weeks. My granddaughters are at the age of really enjoying the American Girls dolls and books. At the Texas state fair they saw Molly in the lady's pavilion. She was in a showcase of knitted items, wearing a sweater with a snowflake on the front. The girls absolutely loved that sweater. So, what is a knitting Gramma to do???? But, make a sweater for the girls to use on their dolls. Below is my version of the sweater, made from the picture their mom took of the doll. Thank you, Rebekah, for that picture!

I had so much fun making that sweater. For the white yarn, I used a yarn that I found at Hobby Lobby, that had a silver strand plied in it. So, the snowflake sparkles! I had so much fun, that I decided to design a skirt to go with the sweater. That was exciting to see the whole outfit.

Felicity then took a trip with me to spinning for show-n-tell. I had been thinking of making a purse for her. After I showed the doll and outfit, the consensus of opinion was a purse would be a great idea. So, here we are with the full outfit. I made a messenger bag and embellished it with a flower.

While I type this, we are preparing for a winter storm. Our part of north Texas is under a winter storm warning. While those to the north of us, don't think this is a real storm, for us it is. They expect 2 inches of snow in my area, with icey roads. We don't have the plows and sanding trucks down here, like we had up north. That is why we are having the warning.
The GOOD SIDE?????
For the first time in years, I may have a white Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Snow and knitting

On Dec 1, we had been having some rain. It lasted most of the day and through the night. It was not the typical rain for north-central Texas. It usually blows in, dumps in about 1 or 2 hours and then we are back to sunshine. This fall our weather has been non-typical. The rain on Dec 1, became quiet on the morning of Dec 2. Soft sounds on the roof instead of the normal pitter-pat of rain. I went and looked outside and here is what I saw! Isn't this something? Of course, it was melted a couple of hours later. But, it sure was pretty to see. Snow this early in the season is very unusual for our area, although it has happened before. Just not often. Since it was Wednesday and that is spinning day, I was glad it hadn't stuck to the roads. I could go to spinning!

Here is one of my latest knitting projects. I was getting ready to wrap it up for Christmas and thought, oh no, I haven't taken a picture of it yet. So, I quickly took a picture, because I wanted to show you what I had made. It is a scarf similar to Shape It! Scarf in Sally Melville's, The Knit Stitch. My yarn was not as bulky as she recommended, so I ended up using needles a bit smaller than she suggests and casting on a different amount. When I was in NY in September, I had purchased a ball of mohair yarn that had sparkles in it. That yarn is the blue striping. The gray is my handspun yarn. It is the softest scarf! I love the design. Someday, I hope to make more of them. Oh, if you look closely, I also added a little lace stitch at each end of the scarf.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Free-form Knitting

I have been wanting to try Free-form knitting for a long time. I did a crocheted free-form bag, a couple of summers ago, but I didn't like how it turned out. I didn't do a very good job picking the colors. Well, actually I used almost every color I had in cotton. Not a good idea, for me anyway. I have been reading up on free-form knitting and color theory since then. I think I am doing a better job now.

I went through all of my handspun yarn scraps, you know, the balls of yarn that you refuse to part with, but have about 1 or 10 yards of yarn in them? Some of them were in skeins and needed to wound into balls. So, I did that. Then, I organized them by color and pulled out some colors that I like, meaning blue, purple, blue, purple, blue, purple. OK, you have the idea. I did decide to use a neutral color. But, then in looking through the stash, I noticed, not much orange or yellow or even red! Good grief. Well, I did have a little and I think I was able to pull it off. I made the larger cup cozy first(the one on the left), it was supposed to fit the cup on the right. Nope. It was way tooooo big. So, I ran to the kitchen and pulled out my old Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup, with a lid and it fit that cup. Then I made another cup cozy to fit the smaller mug. It worked! I made them in a flat piece and then put some stitching at the bottom, the part under the handle. If you look close, you can see the buttons that I use to button them under the top of the handle. I decided to button them under the handles, because when they were on top, the fuzz gets in your mouth when you drink out of them! I tried it. :) Not tasty.

I had fun knitting these. On the cozy on the left, I didn't have a lot of highly textured yarns. So, I made texture. I did some bobbles and then some of that finger/spaghetti stitch( I forget the proper name). Embroidered some daisies too. On the smaller cozy, there was some mohair curl yarn for texture, but I added a small daisy, a few bobbles and some french knots.

I really like French Press coffee, but my French Press is not insulated. Someone told me that they found one that is, but I have not seen one. For months I have been throwing an old and holey, but clean, hand towel over my French Press to help insulate it. Well, it is very tacky and pretty funny, since I have made, and sold, tea cozies on etsy. I spin wool and make all sorts of items, but I have never made a French Press cozy for myself. I suppose, that is like the shoe makers kids going barefoot. Here is my first French Press cozy. I used a felted wool sweater as the base for the cozy and decided to use surface design to decorate it. I played around with knitting, until I figured out a little flower motif. Then I used french knots to attach them to the cozy. There is a button closure on the bottom, under the handle and stitching at the top, above the handle. I decided to do it opposite of the cups, so that you can pull the cozy up and off, or over and down. I didn't think it would go well trying to fit a full pot of coffee into the cozy. Rather use the cozy and cover the pot, while it is sitting securely on the counter.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I want crabs for Christmas.......

Well, not really. I cannot eat them. However, when we moved to Baltimore in 1988, I heard the funniest Christmas song that I had ever heard. Each year, I think of that song and wonder what all the words are. So, this year, I thought OH, YOU TUBE will probably have it. Sure enough.
I hope you enjoy it and it makes you at least giggle. AND if you are ever in Baltimore, MD, and you can eat shell fish, you should go to a locally owned restaurant and try the crabs. They are really good, I have had them, even though I shouldn't.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chocolate and Fiber

Do you ever feel blessed? I do. I have a wonderful family and especially two wonderful daughters. One of my daughters went on a trip with her family recently. They decided to drive to New York to visit my Mom for Thanksgiving. Well, they were able to stop and see lots of things and one of the places they stopped, that we used to go to when our girls were little, was HERSHEY, PA. If you have never been to Hershey, it is a cute town to visit and they have a museum type ride set up and store, of course, to go to. There is even an amusement park there.
I absolutely love the peanut butter ice cream sauce and now they have Cinnamon Chips! They have had the chips for a while, but I haven't been able to find them here. Rebekah has found them a couple of times, but not in a long time. Well, while at Hershey, they purchased some peanut butter sauce and cinnamon chips for me! I am excited and last night I came home and had peanut butter sauce on chocolate ice cream. Pure delight!In my last post, I showed my new stash to you. One of the items that I showed was this red bag of wool. I wanted to show you that it isn't sitting hidden in my fiber closet, but it is being prepared to spin. Yippee! I am so excited. So the picture below is the fiber, still in the bag.
I removed the fiber and fluffed it up with my hands, because Himself the picker is back at Mary's and truthfully, I don't need it for only 8 oz of fiber. So, I picked it apart and fluffed it. It is some of the nicest fiber that I have worked with. Below you can see some of it on my Ashford drum carder. To card you place small amounts on the tray and then turn the handle. The small drum will pick it up and feed it onto the big drum. Occasionally, you will get a little bit sticking to the smaller drum, but you can get that off later. When the larger drum is full, basically to the top of those little spikey teeth, you will use a tool, called a doffing tool, to remove the fiber from the drum. The doffing tool actually looks like a knitting needle with a handle.
Here is my 8 ounces of fluff! And fluff it is. It came out sooo pretty and fluffy. I just love it. This went from fitting into that small plastic bag to this huge pile. That little ruler in front of the pile is 5 inches tall. Pretty amazing, isn't it?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Stash

Well, I totally missed wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a wonderful time with family and friends, as you reflected on what you had to be thankful for. We had a wonderful day and had a homemade turkey dinner, made by me. Our younger daughter, Anna, came over and we ate, then watched the football game with her. I was knitting, what else do you do during a football game, I consider it quality knitting time. Like watching a guy flick with the UPS Store guy. You know, the kind that women usually turn their noses up at. Now think about this. When the movie gets tense, I knit faster! Yep, I really do. There are usually scarey parts, so I get to look at the knitting ALOT, too. So, I get more done. Anyway, back to my story about the Cowboy's game. Sorry, fellow Texans, I don't really care who wins the football game. So, I usually chear for the team that has the ball. :) Well, I was doing this on Thursday, when Anna looks at me and says, "Mom, I cannot believe you aren't rooting for the Cowboy's! You are rooting for the other team?!" I looked at her and said, "Oh, I root for whoever has the ball, less stress that way and I just knit happily along." She just sat there staring at me, shaking her head, muttering something about her crazy knitting mom.

OK, now onto the NEW STASH.
When I went to Kid N Ewe and lama too, I did buy stash. It was fun, I tell myself that I am supporting the local farmers. And, truthfully, I am. So, after a day of spinning and shopping, I purchased hand dyed wool/silk yarn, wool/mohair roving, bamboo/alpaca roving, the two balls
in the middle of the picture are two balls of alpaca lace weight yarn and then some beautifully dyed mohair curls in the very front. So, a friend was asking me to show her what I purchased and I said, Blue roving, Blue roving, Blue yarn, Blue yarn, Blue mohair curls, Purple(blue family) mohair curls, Teal mohair curls(blue family) and brown mohair curls. She looks at me and says, "Hmm, you like blue?" I said, "Ya think?" At which point I decided to step out of my comfort box.
Mary Ann wanted to know where we had purchased these oh, so soft, mohair curls. So, I said I'll show you. All the while thinking, how am I going to get out of this blue comfort zone. So, I was showing her some dyed wool, in a booth that I liked, and then we went to the mohair curls. While there I decided to buy RED mohair curls and then go back to the booth we were in earlier for some dyed red wool locks. So, I am now, successfully, out of my comfort zone, I think. I do love red, too, and today I started carding the wool locks. So pretty and soft.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bags and Purses

This morning on my etsyknitters list there was a great write-up on the history of purses and bags for women. I thought it was very interesting and decided to post it here. Then I thought, how much women LOVE their bags. You know, we have to get just the right one. As a knitter and spinner, I can be seen carrying 3 or even 4 bags somewhere. The joke is, "We are moving or we have enough stuff for a week," and we are only going to the grocery store or to a friend's home to knit for a couple of hours. But, we take it all. :) On a typical Wednesday, when I am leaving for spinning, I can be seen taking my spinning wheel, my spinning bag, my lunch bag, my knitting bag, an extra bag with show-n-tell AND any other bag that calls out to me.

Here are some bags that I have made over the years. I didn't put all of them on here, but just some.

I can only imagine what it was like for women before they had bags. Of course, they didn't live on the go like we do, but imagine how stuffed their skirt pockets were!

Here is the history of bags from the etsy knitters list.
good morning 11.22.2009 - Why do Women Carry Bags

good morning,from do women carry bags? History shows that, before purses, women did carry things in their pockets. Bags first came into fashion in about 1800 when the full skirts of the previous period gave way to the slender, diaphanous dress. Prior to that time, bags had been rather uncommon, since most women carried small necessities in the pockets hidden inside their full skirts. It was only when the narrow, gauzy neoclassical style of dress eliminated the space for pockets that came into vogue.A woman's life changed at the turn of the century. Middle-class women began to spend more time outside the home. Shopping became a popular leisure activity and shopping bags were more widely used. Women also traveled for pleasure. Small leather handbags were designed to be kept with the traveler at all times. In the early twentieth century, more women began to engage in paid employment.Since that time, women began to carry more and more things with them. Many women became attached to their practical bags, which function as a sort of life support system, containing items crucial to their owners' perceived survival. A woman will rarely allow her bag out of sight.When more women began working and new opportunities opened to them, their purses began to get bigger and fuller. Women began to create their own personal microcosm of 'home'. The purse and its contents often represent the three abandoned personae that once defined a woman: the survivalist, the curator, and the homemaker. The persona of the survivalist is clearly significant, since many women "boast of the readiness with which they could face unforeseen disasters." Journalist Betsy Israel says that, "With a well-stocked purse, we are theoretically set for anything." In The New York Times, Enid Nemy is quoted, "I could spend the night on the subway, if necessary. My handbag is a life-support system." What a woman considers essential is on different scale, a far grander and more imaginative level, than men could ever perceive. The purse of a woman is both a weapon and a shield. In it lurks the means for urban and suburban survival and defense, as well as the means for taking the world by storm.Nowadays men manage to walk around with the three essentials (comb, wallet, keys) tucked neatly into their pockets. Women, on the other hand, seem to carry everything but the kitchen sink. Men do, after all, carry briefcases and gym bags. A few men even carry - or wear - unisex utility bags. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that men do not habitually carry as much stuff around with them as women tend to. Society forces women to pay more attention to fashion than function. Women's clothes have skimpy pockets, whereas men's clothes have copious pockets for a wallet, glasses, keys or whatever. But even the most copious pockets would not hold everything that the average woman carries in her bag on a day-to-day basis.The bag is a kind of miniature house and a portable world which women carry with them. When asked "what one object do you travel with to make a hotel room your own?" the celebrated architect Zaha Hadid answered: "My handbag." Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously referred to her handbag as "my trusty companion." And when the rest of us might never express our relationship with our everyday bag in quite such emotive terms, deep down we would be hard-pressed to manage without it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Early Morning and Knitting

I love taking a walk in the early morning. You can hear the birds waking up and see the morning dew on the leaves and grass. Just a wonderful and peaceful time to walk. One morning, recently, I opened the front door to go for my walk. I was so excited, because I could walk, the sun was out and rain had stopped.
Wow! Was the sun out! Look at the gorgeous view I saw as I opened the front door. Thanks to the UPS Store guy for this great photo, from a 6 foot perspective as opposed to a 5 foot perspective. :) Off I walked into the gorgeous sun and the beginnings of fall. Yup, November in north Texas, we still have leaves on trees.

Here is my little Gingerbread man doll. I really like him, he makes me smile everytime I look at him. He was a lot of fun to design and make. He stands 7 1/2 inches tall and wears a great vest. It is hard to see in this picture, but he has white embroidery around his entire body edge.

Then if that wasn't enough. I thought about Sugar Cookie! Here is Gingerbread man's friend, Sugar Cookie. Talk about fun, I love this cookie. Calorie free and oh, so sweet. Sugar Cookie wanted you to see that their vests can come off, so they can wear other colors.

Back in September, when I visited my mom in New York, I took a picture of this exquisite doily. This doily was crocheted by my grandmother or my great aunt. We aren't sure which one. They both made hundreds. I am serious. When we were going through my grandmother's doilies years ago we had....... I didn't count. :) I really loved this doily and wanted to share it with you. It was crocheted on a very small steel crochet hook, probably an 11 or 12, using a fine cotton thread. I was enamored with how it was made, of course. I always have to figure that out. If you can see it, there are 7 pieces made separately and then attached. When attached they form that center swirl. Separately, they are all a small swirl.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kid N Ewe

Last weekend I went to Kid N Ewe in Boerne, Tx. It is a fiber festival and happens every year in November. This is the first time that I have been able to attend and I am glad I did. I rode down with my friend Terri and we had a great time.

The shawl is an absolute work of art. I just think it is beautiful, but my picture doesn't do it justice.

This is the Jacob Reward's booth. They had a couple of my patterns in there. I didn't go to sell my items, but to shop. AND shop I did. I will be having some fun spinning and knitting times, and soon too. Not only did Cindy have this booth, but Laurie and Mary shared it with her. On Saturday, several of us set up behind the booth and spent time spinning.

This is a booth with dyed bamboo rovings and bamboo blend rovings in it. Dyed and ready to spin. Bamboo has a gorgeous sheen to it and yes, it is from the bamboo plant. When spun it is very soft. I have purchased from this vendor before, she lives near me north of Dallas.

There is always a sheep to shawl competition there. There were 3 teams. These teams, card and spin the wool and there is one weaver. The shawls are judged when done and the nicest one is the winner. This is a very serious event. Pictured is part of one of the teams.

My friends Marlene and Peggy have sock machines and love them. Here they are demonstrating antique sock machines. They own these machines and do make socks on them.

And JoJo was able to attend to. She had a great time, but her favorite place was sitting on Laurie's handspun yarn, that was for sale in the Jacob's Reward booth.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We Went to the Race!

The NASCAR race, that is. We had a blast. The race was in Fort Worth, Tx, this past Sunday, November 8. We have been to several races and have enjoyed every one. We always come home with a great story or two.

We parked far out from the track, in the free parking section. Under the sign with the flags. We wouldn't forget where our car was that way. Below, in the distance you can see where we were headed to, notice the flags. The cars on the right are people driving in to the paid parking.

More flags, and more flags.

The UPS Store guy wanted to pose with even more flags.(Notice his UPS jacket)

We made it in. It took us a while, but we like to walk and it was fun seeing all the flags. :) Apparently, the campers put them up, so they can find where they are parked. Ok, I get that.
Below, is the inside of the race track from our seats.

The UPS Store guy, modeling again, this time with his UPS jacket and the UPS sign painted on the track. In the background are the condo's, you can purchase one of those and live there.

Here we are. OK, now I have to stop making fun of his jacket. You caught me, I am in a Jeff Gordon jacket. Yes, it is my jacket. Actually, I like the whole Rick Hendricks team. They not only have Jeff Gordon driving for them, but Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Here's Jeff Gordon's car. :) In front. They are lining them up getting to start the race. He "won the pole." That means he starts in first place. Then the best part of this shot, below, is the US Army star painting on the grass. The race track had that done. You see the terrible shooting at Ft Hood, Killeen, TX was just a few days earlier. The base is about 2 hours south of the track. We had soldiers from the base at the race. They were the ones who unfurled the huge flags for the National anthem. You can see some soldiers walking around the painting. They had just noticed it. They were touched by the sentiment. Stood taking pictures and just staring at it. My heart goes out to our brave men and women soldiers who are trying very hard to keep us safe.

Well, below, we have the UPS Truck! It is parked on the race track. Sorry it is blurry, it was VERY far away.

OK, so we are sitting and talking watching everything get set up. We hear a loud rumbling and I mean loud rumbling. We look up over our shoulders and here comes a LARGE army helicopter. It lands on the track. What in the world is going on?????? The back opens up and out drives the pace car! The soldiers at FT Hood, had wanted to deliver the pace car. They wanted us to know that we should have a good time. When they took off the crowd was chearing and waving. The soldier in the very back saw, and waved back. I didn't get a picture, I was waving.

Back to the truck. Guess what, they raced the truck!! It went by so fast, I only caught its back end. But, that is a UPS Truck.

The race is starting. I put the camera away. Besides, I had plenty of pictures now.

Well, one more picture. They called for a caution flag, for debris on the track. The real reason was the black spot on the fence below. It is a hawk. It came swooping in and landed on the fence. Just sitting there watching the race. Looking down at the cars, as if he wanted one. The officials decided he could cause problems if he did decide to attack a car, that is driving about 200 mph, so they flew the caution flag and scared the bird off. We watched as he flew back up from where he came.

We had a great day at the race.