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?