Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Alive and Well and Kindle-ing in Oakland

Can you believe that before we left Australia I didn't get a photo of the completed quilt? Here's the best I can's all pinned together and laid out on the queen-size guest bed, so at least you can see how it fit. The quilting was a trial, but fun...I have such trouble stuffing large quilts through my home machine. I get stuck, then it all pops free and I get great big stitches, and other fun stuff. Still, Katie has now received the quilt and tells me she really, really likes it, and THAT's what's important! And here's what I've been up to lately: Kindle! With reassurance from some good Blog Buddies, I took the plunge, and I am totally in love...
Of course, as usual, here's the first thing we did when we arrived in Oakland. Can you see that happy smile? TACOS!
There has been knitting going on, too. This plain ribbed sock, made with gorgeous merino sock yarn from Piedmont Yarn Shop, knit on 2.25 bamboo DPNs. It's such a luscious color, I've decided to call these socks my Plain Strawberry Vanilla Socks.

And there's even been an FO (finished object) today. My first Kiri Shawl, in KnitPicks Swish DK in Forest Heather, knit on KP Options 4.5mm. I added some size 6/0 beads in a very pale green crystal and I think I'm going to like them. Once the shawl is dry, I'll try to get DH to take a pick of it being worn.

Other than that, it's been eating, drinking, walking the neighborhoods around our apartment, visiting family and friends and really enjoying life. We took a trip up to the Sierra Nevada Foothills over the weekend, visiting friends in Pioneer, and we even got a little rainstorm...unheard of in California in July!
Eight more days of play, and then we return to Oz. No hope at all that we'll have the same flight experience we had on the way up: the plane was madly oversold, and they bumped us to Business Class...what an incredible luxury!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nearly Finished!

It was a productive week, I'm happy to say! Realized at some point that there's no floor space that's safe to pin on and large enough for a queen-size quilt inside the house. So...a couple of days ago I set myself up in the garage after carefully sweeping up any dust and dirt. It was freezing out there! Worked out pretty well, though. Here's "Life is a Promise, Fulfill It", and all the layers stretched out and ready for pinning. Before I started the layering process, I decided to try to get one shot of the entire quilt top, for posterity. Not easy...had to perch on a ladder and it still isn't really satisfactory. I need a design wall!
Back in the house, after all the hours of pinning, sore knees, sore fingers, but that quilt is all pinned together!

Here's how I reworked the top border to balance Katie's name a bit.
Y.esterday and today I cloistered myself in the sewing room and got the entire top quilted! Hooray! Also got the binding strips prepared, so tomorrow I will sew those on and start on the hand sewing of the folded-over edge.
This baby is nearly ready for its new owner.
Another BIG thanks to Tonya...I needed to swat up on the wonky letter instructions again when I did these borders. I'm really happy with how they turned out!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Quilts and Shawls, Oh My!

Well, woo-hoo! Yesterday I finished piecing the words for Katie Rose's quilt, at last. I forgot to take a picture of the entire center section when it was spread out on the guest bed, and we've got company coming any moment, so a pic of the full center will have to wait until tomorrow...but here it is with the center section folded up and pieces of the light pink border fabric laid out around the edges, so I could make sure the phrases are going to fit along the sides. Looks like they will! I'm hoping all these words in the border won't make it looke like it's from the Ransom Note School of Quilting! Now the hard part comes: sewing each letter to its tiny piece of background fabric, allowing for extra space between words, and then adding the extra border strips to top and bottom of the phrases so the overall quilt size will be correct. Not to mention deciding what to do about the backing...and THEN there's the actual quilting. Keep your fingers crossed that I can keep this momentum going and finish this quilt by the 29th, when we leave again for California.

And I have an actual FO to show, too: the Adamas Shawl is finished and here's the proof. All up, I think it ended up taking about 1200 beads, size 8/0, and that was a real exercise in patience! I like the effect though - especially as the beads add just a bit of weight to the outside edge, making the shawl drape very nicely. So, I pressed DH into service this morning for a bit of a photo shoot.

All in all, it was really a fun shawl to knit. Next up will be a very dark purple, almost black, mohair blend, with more beads, but I need a break from beading for awhile, first!
No pics yet of the new cardigan, Amused, but that's going well, too. I started the second sleeve this morning, so it will be finished this week for sure. Pics next time!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

That's Why We Call It "Fall" in the U.S....

So we are home, after an uneventful flight. DH still has a wretched cough, and finally went to the doctor yesterday -- secondary infection, following his bad cold of two weeks ago, resulting in the need for antibiotics and rest. Since the swine flu fear is everywhere, he is to avoid socializing until he is feeling better, and if he gets worse we must have a throat swab taken at the local hospital, just to be sure. No fever, though, so it's doubtful if it's anything but the result of overdoing work duties while he had a cold.

Add to that the fun of jet lag, and this is probably not our best week ever! Still, as you can see from the above photo, autumn has landed in Exeter big time. This is one of five big buckets of leaves that had accumulated outside our back door. Nice mulch for the perennials...

Not much sewing or knitting at the moment. Hope to be feeling more like doing something in a day or two.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Farewell to a Sweet Friend...

I have postponed writing this because there is so much sadness for DH and me. We got news a few days ago that our beloved Spike was found dead in her kitty condo a few days after we left for California.

This is a pic of Spike taken in 2002, when we lived in the Sierra Foothills in California. She spent most of her time in DH's office, so we called her the Secretary Kitty.

A word or two about her name might be called for. Spike and her sister, Rosebud, were born under a house in Ione, CA in 1996. A predator took several siblings, so the people whose house it was rescued the remaining kittens and looked for homes for them. We adopted these two adorable furballs in a flash. A visit to the vet for first shots and a general physical inspection was called for, during which the veterinary assistant said, "Well, this one is a girl, and that one is a little boy," (indicating Spike). So we duly named them Rosebud and Spike, and a few months later were shocked when Spike came into heat! We tried to rename "him" -- Suki stuck for a week or two but just didn't come trippingly to the tongue. So we bowed to the inevitable and considered her to be our little biker chick kitty.

Spike had the most loving nature of any cat we've ever had. You could always count on a few gentle licks from her oh-so-soft tongue any time you petted or combed her. Over the years, she gained a few pounds (haven't we all?!) and came to be known as "one of the fat ladies," along with our two other female cats, Cassie and Chloe. (Rosebud had disappeared several years ago...she refused to sleep in the house, preferring a large knothole in a gigantic oak tree on our country property there. We believe a bobcat or mountain lion took Rosebud while she slept.)

Rebecca, our petsitter, told us that when she came in to feed the cats and clean their boxes, she found Spike stretched out on the grass, looking as if she had stretched out for a nap in the sun and just never woke up. Spike was Rebecca's favorite of our seven cats, and she is feeling grief-stricken, too.

We will miss our little Spikey more than words can sad, so sad.

Friday, April 03, 2009

All Knitting, No Quilting...BAD Quilter!

For some reason, I've been feeling like knitting instead of working on "the" quilt, so I thought I'd share the most recent FO: This is Hypoteneuse (Rav Link), by Anne Hanson of Knitspot. It's really large, and very drapey and soft. Knitted with KnitPicks Swish DK, a really lovely, soft, altogether wonderful yarn. The pic below shows how long it was windy today (surprise, surprise!) and you can see it flipping around in the breeze.
And I realized I never posted a pic of the pink alpaca shawl (also Rav link) in its full glory, so here it is. You may remember the disaster of the big hole that appeared in one corner as I was blocking it. Fortunately, I don't think it's too noticeable, but just to be sure, that corner is at the BACK in this pic.
And the obligatory close-up, to show off all the lacy detail. The yarn is Misti Alpaca Laceweight, and it's light as a cloud. Still provides a bit of warmth on cool evenings, though, because it's alpaca.
I've also begun work on another shawl, Adamas, (another Ravelry link) using that glorious KnitPicks Shimmer (alpaca and silk laceweight) in the color Cumulus (a pale, shaded taupe), but no pics yet. Right now it's just a puddle of loops on the needles.
One of these days I need to get back into the quilting studio, but that means back to cutting a zillion small squares for the sashing, and I just don't feel like cutting fabric at the moment.
We leave for California on Easter Sunday, for a couple of weeks, so I may postpone the cutting till we're back...on the other hand, think how happy I'd be to return home to a nice pile of neatly cut squares, just waiting to be stitched into star points on the sashing pieces...hmmmm, wonder how I'll resolve this...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More of Tonya's Inspirational Letters!

Well, the journey has begun for Katie Rose's quilt. Here is a shot of the first quadrant of blocks with their sashing and star cornerstones. I've laid the first pieced letters on top: Katie Rose. As you may or may not be able to see, I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board for the "OS" of Rose...the O is too big and clunky, and the S is made from too busy a fabric. Try, try again! I do like the "Katie" part, though. I'm finding there's a little learning curve to come back to the free-pieced letters after a few months away. My brain needs to readjust...kind of like with paper-piecing, only not quite as "backward and upside down," if you know what I mean!
You can see the actual blocks and stars better in this upside down shot (taken from the other side of the ironing board. I like the look of the dotted sashing, and the deep pink stars.
I'm kind of rushing to get a bit of something together for this quilt, because I'm giving a little talk about my quilts tomorrow to a local group, and they'd like to see some of my work. Since I give away most of my quilts, I don't have a lot to show, so I thought they might like to see this one in progress. Hope to have the actual quilt finished and delivered by the end of June, so I need to keep on keepin' on. As you may remember, I have a LOT of words to make for the borders. First up will be side one: Life is a song -- sing it. I think I'm going to use one color family for each phrase, using maybe one fabric for the "Life is a song" and a deeper tone of the same color for "sing it." What do you all think?
And how about the obligatory kitty pic? This time with DH in the picture, too. He said this picture should be captioned "Ross and Cloudy...Working"

There's some knitting going on, too, and I'll be attending my first Southern Highlands Stitch 'n Sip (sounds a lot nicer than Stitch 'n Bitch, doesn't it!) gathering tonight. This little group was recently begun as a forum on Ravelry by Clovelly, and now, at her instigation, we're actually getting together in person -- face time! I'll try to remember to take my camera...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Deja Vu All Over Again...

Here we are in the boarding lounge at SFO (San Francisco, for non-Californians), having had our flight cancelled last night, after four hours sitting on the tarmac with no news and nothing happening. After scrubbing the flight at around 2AM, they put up in hotels those people who didn't have a place to stay in the Bay Area and told everyone else to go home and come back at 9AM for an 11AM departure. We could have gone to our apartment by taxi, but we didn't like our chances of getting to the apartment, sleeping a couple of hours, and and then making it back to SFO on time, given that it's raining and we'd be in rush hour traffic, so we spent the night on the benches in the terminal.

Keep your fingers crossed that this 11AM flight actually goes...our kitties NEED us at home!

Wow, looking at the grammar and syntax of that first paragraph, I can see I'm sleep deprived (or maybe just crazed!)...

Next post from Oz, one hopes...

Friday, February 27, 2009

O. Ver. Whelmed!

Well, I'm back from Stitches West, which was unbelievable. I think I wandered around in a daze for the best part of four hours, unable to focus on anything in particular. Feeling like a kid in a candy store, I just couldn't bring my mind to what I should buy...amazing! Eventually, I did find some gorgeous things. Here's Tactile Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in Aventurine:
And, feeling adventurous, I bought some Habu Wool Stainless Steel (75% wool, 25% stainless steel):
And a skein of Habu Superfine Merino:
My friend Margaret, in Oz, had contacted me this morning to see if I would bring her a couple of bits of Blue Faced Leicester so she could try spinning it. That helped focus my mind a bit, and Lynne (Yarnivorous) was a big help in keeping me on track to accomplish that goal. Thanks, Lynne!

Here's Lynne admiring some gorgeous yarn in just "her" colors:
And here's the BFL I chose for Margaret...first up, A Verb for Keeping Warm, in Color #9:
Next, some gorgeous Lisa Souza BFL in a color Lisa calls "Cwanberri", because that's how her grandson pronounces it:
And some gorgeous Leaf Pile:
And finally, some South Pacific:

I had hoped to find a scarf pin or two, but was just too distracted to focus on anything. I think next year, with the experience of my first Stitches already under my belt, I'll do better. But oh, my, it was FUN!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

EZ Rules!

What fun! Having 3.5 wheels of leftover Unspun Icelandic from Schoolhouse Press in the great color, Sumac, I decided to try Elizabeth Zimmermann's Stonington Shawl (from Knitter's Workshop, maybe? I left my book at home). Actually, this was my illicit airplane knitting: you may remember the great Bamboo DPNs Scandal of last year...well, this time I decided to be smarter. I took my KnitPicks Harmony 5.5mm tips, tucked into my briefcase beside the pens and pencils. The cable resided in an outer pocket, all on its lonely. One wheel of yarn was tucked into my rollaboard. Once settled on the plane, well after takeoff, I assembled the needles, cast on, and during my sojourn in California I have been knitting.

Today I paused to admire my brilliance in attempting a picot bind-off on the completed shawl/blanket, and here's what it looks, eh?

And here's the unblocked, blanket. We're going to leave it here in Oakland at the apartment, so we'll have something nice and toasty to throw over our knees while we watch TV.
You may remember that I used this yarn in the Blacksheep color to make my Pi Shawl last year, and that's what we use at home in Australia for TV watching. It was a blessing having so much of the Sumac leftover from my Pansy Triangle Shawl, so I could make up this the pattern, love the yarn, love the color!
And's off to visit some fabric shops on a quest for the perfect border fabric for Katie Rose's string quilt. Did I mention that she's chosen the words she'd like for that border? Here's the winner: Life is a song, sing it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is a dream, realize it. I'll use the stronger colors from the string blocks, probably one color group for each of the three phrases, and the background will be a light pink, either a very small print or a tone on tone. That's today's quest.
And TOMORROW it's Stitches West at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I'll have a chance to meet Lynne of Yarnivorous, too...woot!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Alpaca, and Wires, and Blocking, Oh My!

Well, dang! Looky-looky...see that blue bow? As I started blocking the wet pink alpaca shawl, I found a very large hole, getting larger with every gentle pat of the shawl. It was such a sickening sight, I couldn't stand even to take a pic of it for you to see! Instead, I grabbed a yarn needle and some yarn, gathered up every open stitch I could find, and pulled them into this bow. Now I've gone ahead and blocked the thing, and I'll worry about somehow sewing that spot in some not-too-obtrusive fashion when I'm finished. Grrrr! Can't even feel too sorry for myself, because I remember Bells had a similar experience recently, and someone else, too, but I can't remember who it was. Anyway, here's the nearly finished piece -- sorry for the poor pic. It's a very grey day outside, and pink alpaca doesn't show up very well against the pale blue sheet on which it's being blocked.
In happier news, here is the scene when we visited our friends in the Sierra Nevada Foothills this weekend...pretty, no? It didn't actually snow up there while we were visiting, but I think they're getting some now!

As you see, they had gotten a pretty good fall over the previous week, although rain the previous day had melted off quite a bit of it. This is actually how I LIKE snow: enough to look pretty, but not enough to be a nuisance.

And, as promised, here's the Mini Mochi sock yarn. Since I took this pic, I've turned the heel and started down the foot on the first sock. I think it's going to be pretty, don't you? And very warm, due to the small percentage of alpaca in the yarn.

So now we're back at the condo for the final week of our visit to the Bay Area. Next Monday is departure day, but in the meantime, there are friends and family to visit, restaurants and shops to visit, and Stitches West on Friday...yay!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pics, At Last!

Look what jumped into my shopping cart at KnitPicks...two skeins of Imagination in the color Looking Glass, and two skeins of Felici in Tyrian Purple. These were supposed to be for socks, but...Imagination just wanted to be a scarf...
And then, and Peace Fleece (in Volgasippi Blue) and Beaverslide (in Dusty Clover) arrived. Peace Fleece will be the Acer sweater, and Beaverslide I'm not sure...was thinking of the Amanda cardigan from A Fine Fleece, but now I'm uncertain.

I did also succumb to this DK weight Swish in Ash, because I've been wanting to make something in a superwash wool.
But wait...there's MORE! The Yubina Cashwool and Cashmere I'd ordered arrived, too. That's the Cashwool on the left in the silvery blue (it's maybe a shade lighter in real life), and the gorgeous cashmere laceweight in the red violet on the right. Too cool...
And, can you believe it? I finally got my blocking wires. Now all I have to do is find the intestinal fortitude to tackle that big pink alpaca lace shawl... And look what I found, used, in my prowling around bookstores here...
Plus, KnitPicks had a big book sale, and look what found its way into my cart:
And then, my sis, Sheri, sent me this adorable book, as a prezzie:
Plus, a little jaunt to Eddie's Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale found me the fabric I need for the sashing and cornerstones for Katie Rose's string quilt. I think I'll use the dots for the sashing and the bright pink for the stars, unless someone has a better idea.
So all in all, I've been a very successful shopper on this trip. Somebody stop me, quick!
Oh, and I almost forgot...we will make a little jaunt up into the Sierra Nevada Foothills this weekend (snow!) and I made this little hat to take to my friend Liza. It's the Belle Starr hat knit with Berrocco Jasper:

Plus, one more fun find: Crystal Palace Mini Mochi yarn...soft, cuddly and a little fluffy, which is trying to become a pair of socks...pic will be forthcoming in my next post.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Post, But No Pics

Thought I'd check in, anyway. Guess who forgot to bring the camera to California. Grrrrr! Fortunately, DH will fly up tomorrow, and he's bringing it along, so I may have things to show soon.

Having a great time just lounging around the condo, taking naps, going for walks, EATING OUT! And I've had a chance to see the grandsons three times...they are leaving for India with their mom tomorrow for three weeks' holiday (DS is staying home to take care of their kitties and keep the home fires burning), so I was lucky to have the time with them. We made bread together the other day -- the No Knead Bread recipe that's been all around Blogland lately. Have you tried it yet? Absolutely wonderful. In fact, since I learned to do it in mid-December, I haven't bought a single loaf of bread.

And I've been shopping, of course. What have I bought, you ask? Well, my Yubina Cashmere Lace yarn in a silvery pale blue arrived and it's gorgeous, as well as the Cashmere-Silk lace yarn in orchid...ditto. I'll post a pic and link once my camera is here. Also bought some gorgeous new sock yarn called Mini Mochi and have started some socks. Plus some lovely DK weight brown yarn for a hat for a friend. Also, the yarn I ordered from Oz was delivered to me here: 7 skeins of gorgeous Beaverslide worsted in Dusty Clover and 7 skeins of Peace Fleece in Volgasippi Blue... wonderful! Also did a little damage in the clothing department: a couple of pretty outfits at Chico's, and some elbow-length, v-neck t-shirts is black, white, turquoise and lime (gotta cover up those chicken-wing upper arms these days...LOL).

I mailed off the 10 Wishes quilt to its recipient and it was received this week...everyone loved it. In fact, Katie, for whom I'm making the big girl quilt right now (see previous blogpost for a pic of the string quilt in progress), loved her sister's quilt a lot. She had the following to say about the pieced "wishes" in the border: "Mom, Tessabell can't even read...maybe I should take THIS quilt instead" and "Really, this quilt is too big for Tess, who is so little, but it would be a good size for me." I take that to mean the quilt was a hit. And of course I now MUST add some words to the border for Katie's quilt, too. Thinking about themes or phrases that might be appropriate...and still searching for the perfect sashing and border fabric, but no luck so far.

Meanwhile, back in Oz, the temperatures soared and soared and have stayed up...really dreadfully hot and unpleasant for everyone, even in the Southern Highlands, which is not usually so affected for so long. Poor old kitties, locked in their kitty condos for the next three plus weeks. Fortunately the catsitter will come every day to be sure their water is topped up, their litter boxes are clean and they have their favorite food to eat. Supposed to cool off and even have some rain next week...I'll be hoping that's so. And the poor old horses, too...Nadia is in her late 20's and has been falling off quite a bit lately, so we worry about her. Our neighbor is giving her a special daily feed of "seniors" feed, with vitamins and molasses and other good things, but I think she will really feel the heat. Tyler is only just older than 20 and in much better health and strength, so I don't worry quite so much about him...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Beauty Shot...

And here it is, in all its glory! Amazing how hard it is to photograph this color. It's not actually quite this red, but a rich mahogany browny russet. Hard to photograph, too. I stood on the bed to try to shoot down on it, and then scraped a huge piece of skin from the back of my heel when I tried to step down without standing on the blanket. The trials of photography! So now, I need to get serious about what's next. Nothing too complicated, since I only have a few days before I take off for California.