29 October 2008

A Worse-than-Sad Day

Today we euthanized our dog, Charka. She fell down the steps (just four, but still awful) yesterday, and this morning she was clinging to my side and panting heavily. I think there was more pain in her than we knew.

Today I also learned that a friend's father died on Tuesday. This is my friend J, the amazing massage therapist, who is engaged to M, a knitterly friend. It was J's father who died. J and M will be married on November 7th.

You know how they say to take things one day at a time? Well about six days just hit me all at once.

I've been consoling myself with knitting. I have successful started (after at least one failed attempt) my first pair of toe-up socks. I'm knitting both socks at one time.

Somehow we'll get through this.

27 October 2008

A Sad Day

Peg Johnson, who worked part-time at Village Stationery, passed away this morning at her home in Omaha.  She was diagnosed with leukemia on 28 August 2008.  The wake is tomorrow night and the funeral is Wednesday afternoon, both in Oakland, Iowa.

When Peg knew she was going into the hospital for chemotherapy she had initially said she’d wanted me to teach her to knit.  As it turned out, she felt she had enough to keep her occupied through that first bout of chemo, so she asked me to hold off on the lessons.

As it turned out, the medication used in the second round of chemotherapy was what did her in.  She went home from the hospital this past Wednesday (22 Oct) when it was clear that she could not recover from the damage that had been done to her body.

Peg was in her late 50s/early 60s.  She was retired from a career with the American Red Cross.  She had a great sense of humor and a warm heart.

The world is a little more empty now that she is gone.

I like to think that she is now communing with the likes of author Tony Hillerman (who entered heaven’s gates yesterday afternoon), jazz great Duke Ellington, the gorgeous Paul Newman, the generous soul of Mother Theresa, and all of the others who have gone before her.  No, I don’t know whether any of these people were Peg’s favorites — they just came to my mind (although I’m sure Paul Newman was at the top of the list for her!) — and I rather have it in my heart that Peg was as great and as wonderful as any of them.  At least, she was that memorable to those of us who knew her.

26 October 2008

Rollercoaster Ride

Dear Mandella,

Have you ever read Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet? Let me give you selected excerpts from one of my favorites:

Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; . . .

I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing.

. . . many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens. And this is why it is so important to be lonely and attentive when one is sad: because the apparently uneventful and stark moment at which our future sets foot in us is so much closter to life than that other noisy and fortuitous point of time at which it happens to us as if from outside.

Rainer Maria Rilke
August 12, 1904

And this is where I have been for the past 2 - 3 weeks: Unable to see further than my knowledge reaches, then suddenly aware that the future had indeed entered into me and transformed.

I had been grousing about some major changes in the way my work was to be done and about the added responsibilities that were assigned to me; this week I discovered that all of this added up to a redefined job classification which will ultimately mean a significant raise in salary if it's approved. (I don't know when or if any of this will come through, but the signs are favorable.)

In addition to all of that, I've been on a rollercoaster ride with my beloved dog, Charka, who will be 13 people-years old next month (which is roughly 91 dog-years). She has been so weak in her hind-quarters that she can't get herself up the four steps from the back yard to our deck. The shot of cortisone we got for her on Wednesday afternoon kicked in about 26 hours later and she's perkier in attitude and behavior, but I know this is only a temporary fix because the cortisone lasts only 3 - 4 weeks and has the nasty side effect of eating away at her stomach lining. I know that eventually she will have to be euthanized (sp?) and it will be my decision. I am dreading it.

I also learned on Wednesday morning that Peg, one of the part-timers at the stationery shop where I work part-time, has gone home from the hospital for home-hospice care. That second round of chemo for the leukemia did so much damage to her and she just won't recover from it. Peg was diagnosed at the end of August and did so well with her first bout of chemo that we were certain she'd come through this with flying colors. It is impossibly sad.

On top of all of this, the yarn gods have been toying with me. I'd gotten out all of my leftover balls of Cascade 220 wool to start knitting a pullover (with lovely and colorful striping). Feeling plucky about the pattern of color and stitches I'd come up with, I cast on a front to knit simultaneously with the back. Alas, I screwed up the stitch pattern in a such a way that it had to be frogged. I pulled it all off my needles and put it back. The yarn gods were right: I had too many projects going anyway.

All of this was after I'd tried to start a pullover in the lovely Louet Gems sport weight I'd dyed to a lovely shade of red. That one was doomed by a poor plan and needed to be taken off the needles. (I've worked out the pattern now and all should be well, but I'm not starting it until after the beginning of the new year.) It was also after about a dozen failed attempts to get a scarf going with an 8 oz skein of the same yarn that I'd dyed into quasi-Southwest colors. I think that the first yard or two of wool on that skein is worn down to lace-weight!

My wonderful sister Mary is visiting from Albuquerque this weekend. She is the one for whom I knit the Opera Shrug. Alas, it's too small for her! It will go to her daughter-in-law and I will start anew on something for Mary. I have some new Cascade Venezia (wool/silk combination) in worsted weigh that will do very nicely, but I can't start it until I finish (A) the second of the hand/wrist warmers from the Berocco Alpaca fine and (B) the cardigan for Jane (which is now to the point where I bind off for the armholes).

We took my sister to dinner last night at Rick's Cafe Boatyard which is on the Missouri River in downtown Omaha, but prior to eating we took a walk on the new pedestrian bridge that spans the Missouri and connects Nebraska and Iowa for walkers and bicyclists. It was dark when we walked it and it was lit beautifully. I'll have to check to see whether any of my pictures came out at all well -- it was windy so it was hard to stand completely still for the dark photos.

The bridge is an amazing structure. The suspension cables and the serpentine design gave me an impression of music, but I can't describe it any more distinctly than that. Here's a link to a web cam trained on the bridge.

Alas, today I have a migraine. I think it was a combination of dust in my nose from cleaning (long story) and the high winds in our area. But, the day is sunny and the trees are vibrant colors. I'll ride this part of the rollercoaster happily.

Hugs and good knitting to you!


18 October 2008

The Tracks of My Years

Dear Judith

I did a variation on your last post – I checked on what all the No.1 British singles were for the year I did my A’Levels and left school. These were the results, and what I thought of them:

  1. Paul McCartney, Pipes of Peace. Don’t care for the song, but I had the LP.
  2. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Relax. Ah, the song that got banned from Radio 1 because of the lyrics and therefore became an instant hit. I had the LP.
  3. Nena, 99 Red Balloons. German Eurovision winner from back in the day when normally if the song was good, it won.
  4. Lionel Ritchie, Hello. What a classic slow smoocher. Yes, I had the LP.
  5. Duran Duran, The Reflex. Not their best, but as a confirmed Durannie, I’m glad they got in.
  6. Wham!, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. Don’t you yearn for the innocent days when George Michael was a teenybop idol and we didn’t know what he got up to in public toilets? Plus this is one of the all time great tracks to fill a dance floor at a Christmas disco.
  7. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Two Tribes. Just to remind us of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and the fear of imminent nuclear destruction.
  8. George Michael, Careless Whisper. I know every, tortured, word.
  9. Stevie Wonder, I Just Called To Say I Love You. I will probably be struck down for saying it, but I detest this song.
  10. Wham! Freedom, George Michael again. Oh, how I loved him back then.
  11. Chaka Khan, I feel for you. Where did this one come from?
  12. Jim Diamond, I Should Have Known Better. Classic one hit wonder and again, I know every word. Gorgeous song.
  13. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Power of Love. People thought they were taking the mick out of the Nativity Story. I liked it. Now it smacks of rampant commercialism in the hunt for the exalted Christmas No. 1. Of course they were denied by:
  14. Band Aid, Do They Know It’s Christmas. What a charity fundraiser that was. I still remember Bob Geldof demanding we gave money “Now!”

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I guess 1984 wasn’t such a bad year after all!

Music Meme from Minnie

Here's what you're supposed to do. You go out to a site called MusicOutfitters.com.

B.) In the search box at the top right, enter the year you graduated from high school. It will come up with a list of several things, among which is a list of the top 100 songs in the USA for that year. Copy and paste that list into your blog.

C.) Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate.

Hmmmm.... I don't seem to have a strike-through font feature, so I'll just turn them grey.

I added italics for the ones I've never heard of before this.

And if it's in regular type then I've heard it and think it's OK but not my favorite.

I graduated in 1977:

1. Tonight's The Night, Rod Stewart
2. I Just Want To Be Your Everything, Andy Gibb
3. Best Of My Love, Emotions
4. Love Theme From "A Star Is Born", Barbra Streisand
5. Angel In Your Arms, Hot
6. I Like Dreamin', Kenny Nolan
7. Don't Leave Me This Way, Thelma Houston
8. (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher, Rita Coolidge
9. Undercover Angel, Alan O'Day
10. Torn Between Two Lovers, Mary MacGregor
11. I'm Your Boogie Man, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
12. Dancing Queen, Abba
13. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Leo Sayer
14. Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffet
15. Telephone Line, Electric Light Orchestra
16. Whatcha Gonna Do?, Pablo Cruise
17. Do You Wanna Make Love, Peter McCann
18. Sir Duke, Stevie Wonder
19. Hotel California, Eagles
20. Got To Give It Up, Pt. 1, Marvin Gaye
21. Theme From "Rocky" (Gonna Fly Now), Bill Conti
22. Southern Nights, Glen Campbell
23. Rich Girl, Daryl Hall and John Oates2
4. When I Need You, Leo Sayer
25. Hot Line, Sylvers
26. Car Wash, Rose Royce
27. You Don't Have To Be A Star, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
28. Fly Like An Eagle, Steve Miller Band
29. Don't Give Up On Us, David Soul
30. On And On, Stephen Bishop
31. Feels Like The First Time, Foreigner
32. Couldn't Get It Right, Climax Blues Band
33. Easy, Commodores
34. Right Time Of The Night, Jennifer Warnes
35. I've Got Love On My Mind, Natalie Cole
36. Blinded By The Light, Manfred Mann's Earth Band
37. Looks Like We Made It, Barry Manilow
38. So In To You, Atlanta Rhythm Section
39. Dreams, Fleetwood Mac
40. Enjoy Yourself, Jacksons
41. Dazz, Brick
42. I'm In You, Peter Frampton
43. Lucille, Kenny Rogers
44. The Things We Do For Love, 10cc
45. Da Doo Ron Ron, Shaun Cassidy
46. Handy Man, James Taylor
47. Just A Song Before I Go, Crosby, Stills and Nash
48. You And Me, Alice Cooper
49. Slow Dancin', Johnny Rivers
50. Lonely Boy, Andrew Gold
51. I Wish, Stevie Wonder
52. Don't Stop, Fleetwood Mac
53. Barracuda, Heart
54. Strawberry Letter 23, Brothers Johnson
55. Night Moves, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
56. You're My World, Helen Reddy
57. Heard It In A Love Song, Marshall Tucker Band
58. Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas
59. New Kid In Town, Eagles
60. My Heart Belongs To Me, Barbra Streisand
61. After The Lovin', Engelbert Humperdinck
62. Jet Airliner, Steve Miller Band
63. Stand Tall, Burton Cummings
64. Way Down, Elvis Presley
65. Weekend In New England, Barry Manilow
66. It Was Almost Like A Song, Ronnie Milsap
67. Smoke From A Distant Fire, Sanford Townsend Band
68. Cold As Ice, Foreigner
69. Ariel, Dean Friedman
70. Lost Without Your Love, Bread
71. Star Wars Theme-Cantina Band, Meco
72. Float On, Floaters
73. Jeans On, David Dundas
74. Lido Shuffle, Boz Scaggs
75. Keep It Comin' Love, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
76. You Made Me Believe In Magic, Bay City Rollers
77. Livin' Thing, Electric Light Orchestra
78. Give A Little Bit, Supertramp
79. That's Rock 'N' Roll, Shaun Cassidy
80. Love So Right, Bee Gees
81. The Rubberband Man, Spinners
82. I Never Cry, Alice Cooper
83. Nobody Does It Better, Carly Simon
84. High School Dance, Sylvers
85. Love's Grown Deep, Kenny Nolan
86. Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman), Joe Tex
87. I Wanna Get Next To You, Rose Royce
88. Somebody To Love, Queen
89. Muskrat Love, Captain and Tennille
90. Walk This Way, Aerosmith
91. Whispering-Cherchez La Femme-C'est Si Bon, Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band
92. Year Of The Cat, Al Stewart
93. Boogie Nights, Heatwave
94. Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac
95. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Elton John
96. Don't Worry Baby, B.J. Thomas
97. Knowing Me, Knowing You, Abba
98. How Much Love, Leo Sayer
99. Star Wars (Main Title), London Symphony Orchestra
100. Devil's Gun, C.J. and Co.

17 October 2008

Can't Work Today

Dear Mandella,

I'm sorry, but I just can't be working. The sky has been too blue, the leaves -- even pine needles -- have been too full of color, and the weather has been entirely too magnificent. It is pullover weather. It is dig-out-something-warm-for-a-walk-in-the-crisp-outdoors season. It is the season that is the reason why we knit with wool even in the hottest of summer.

The colors are magical. Truly, the sky is this blue and the leaves are practically radiating color. This tree is just outside of my building at the Air Force base where I work full-time.

Yes, that's my building in the background, but my office is on the other side. I have to take a walk outside and around to see this tree, and when I do I never want to come back inside!

Well, I have been working, actually. I've had a horrendous week at both of my jobs, but I'm rewarded with two classes this weekend, both with Melissa Leapman of cable fame. See? I have my preparation swatches knit, my graph paper on hand, and her first book open to an inspiring photo:

The Leapman classes are also a reward for slogging through this very-much-altered version of the Dinan Jacket, here shown being done in Red Heart bullet-proof acrylic:

The truth is, it has to be done in this yarn. The dear person (Jane M) who will receive this is a teacher of "special needs" children. She needed something that would take numerous washings and God-knows-what-else. And it's quite a re-do, by the way. The original pattern is a cropped jacket that tapers from armholes to waist (where it stops). This version is straight up and down, going from hip to armhole with no shaping whatsoever. It has 3" of 2 x 2 ribbing on the bottom (another change from the original, which has only a rolled bottom). I've been slogging away at the stockinette portion (which is 10" so far, just an inch shy of the initial armhole bind-offs).

As you can imagine, I have amused myself with a few other things in the meantime, not the least of which is a fun little project of knitting my various scraps into mitered squares:

I know, I know; I have become my mother, using up every last little scrap. It's fun, though. I like stopping every now and then (as I have above) and looking it to figure out what kind of shape I see. So far it looks like a very colorful stingray that is having an extra fin grafted on. *sigh* It will take years for this blanket to be done, but it will be fun looking back and remembered what I knit from the yarns involved.
Oh, speaking of yarns involved, here is the leftover of a huge skein of Interlacement's Toasty Toes, a dk or sport weight washable yarn (shown in the Las Vegas Lights colorway). I'd originally knit a nice, thick pair of socks from this for my sister Denise; the leftovers are going to be a pair of thick anklets for my nephew Jerry who will be 6 soon. Not, of course, that I will get these done for his birthday, but they'll likely be done before Christmas. I'm nearly done with the foot portion of the first sock and will soon begin the toe decreases.

Oh, this one? Well, I don't know yet what it is. It will likely be a pair of mittens. It's from The Sanguine Gryphon. I think it's the Traveler, which is a dk weight washable wool, but I don't remember the colorway and I'm not going to fish out the ball band from the center of the yarn.

So much yarn and only two hands.
And then the weather turns lovely!
Hugs and good knitting to you!

12 October 2008

Colorful Days

Dear Mandella,

The quilts are awesome! That four-corners one is just magnificent! I love your color palette (sp?)! I love your piecing! Oh, gawd, and you quilt, too????

Here (top left) is the basic unit for this new quilt top I'm working on. As you can see, it's comprised of four squares each of which are really 2 squares plus a rectangle. I have a light gold square in each, then the 2nd square and the rectangle are the same color; one set is a kind of oak leaf and acorn print (which comes off as kind of greenish) and the other is a rich brown spattered with black spots. When they're all put together, the overall design should be something like the photo below it.

Except that there will be more of it. A lot more. About 400+ little gold squares alone. The finished top (without borders) will be 60" x 60".

No, I didn't get a chance to work on this one this afternoon at my mom's house. I spent the time changing the dress pattern.

When last I'd written on the subject (October 6th), I'd put in the zipper and noted adjustments that needed to be made. Today I made the pattern adjustments and stitched a prototype (top portion only) from scrap fabric. It fits like a dream.

What I didn't mention earlier is that, when I went shopping for the 22" navy blue zipper for the trial dress, I happened to find this:

It's all crimped and creased and dyed lovely fall colors -- I think it looks like a whole lot of leaves that fell to earth and were kissed by sunshine! These are my colors! (Hmmm... they're looking a bit bright on my monitor. The reddish-violet is really darker than that. Oh, well...) So, I found a lovely deep reddish-violet in a dull satin from which to make the dress. The above fabric will be a simple shawl to wear with it. It will be perfect.

I have two sides (one long and one short) basted for hemming. My mom said she'd do the other two sides. I'm probably going to hem it by machine. It's just a narrow hem (about 5/16") and the piece is rather large (about 50" x 40"), so no one will notice a machine-stitched hem.

Let's see, other pictures I promised I'd show you are this quilt that was made by M's mother as a shower gift:
Isn't it adorable? It's a bunch of all style handkerchiefs that are stitched to white squares and then quilted. I think there are 35 in all. This one I thought was particularly sweet:

To the right of that square is a little hanky that has vignettes from Omaha, by the way. And above it is a hanky just like one I'd had when I was a child.

Now, as for dyeing yarn yesterday, here's the results:

This is one of those sock blanks from KnitPicks. It was a gift from a dear friend, Lorna. I had lots of fun dyeing it. I'm considering making it my first toe-up sock projects, but I'm also considering knitting two halfs of a lovely, lacy scarf and then grafting them at the center.

Three skeins of Trekking XXL sock yarn (75% washable wool; 25% nylon) dyed in a motley collection of medium blue, blue-green, and light blue:

Three 8 oz. skeins of Louet Gems sport weight (100% washable merino wool) in a luscious red that is for me. I will be knitting a lovely pullover for myself from this:

Last, two trials of "Southwest Colors." The first one I dyed yesterday, the second one I dyed this afternoon. These are Louet Gems sport weight, both 8 oz skeins (about 500 yards each). My friend M wanted something like this for knitting a scarf for her future father-in-law. I think she'll like the 2nd better than the first because that orange on the first (remember our orange friend?) needed to be toned down.

And I dyed three silk scarves to match the "Pacifica" sock yarn (the Trekking XXL), the luscious red, and quite coppery to go with the southwest colors.

I'm tired and I need to go to bed. Lots coming up in the next few weeks!

Hugs and good quilting to you!


Names and Quilts

Dear Judith

I went through every single name in your last post and came up with some truly interesting combinations - not all of which worked. Having an unusual name, both first and surname, is sometimes a blessing (people don't forget it easily) and sometimes a curse. For instance, I've had a letter at work addressed to Amanda Lewisby (10/10 to the post room for their deductive powers) and I really ought to let you into my Porn Star name. Twice, from different sources, I've received correspondence addressed to Mandy Love .....

Today I finished a quilt. Well, it's finished apart from the label. I printed one out using Bubble Jet Set and it's in the airing cupboard drying. So tomorrow I will have a mad scramble to prepare and applique the label before wrapping it and delivering it to my friend and her husband. It's their joint birthday present as one of them has one of those horrible birthdays with a "0" on the end and they're only a couple of weeks apart. They've just returned from a special holiday to the Four Corners region, and those blue blobs in each corner are the silhouette of each of the 4 states, just to make it a bit of a memento.

Reading about your latest quilt in progress, sewing squares to squares to rectangles, made me think of one of my own WIPs. I don't think yours is anything like it, but I'm posting it here in the interests of establishing whether there's a family resemblance:

The pattern is "Strait of Georgia" and it can be found in the book More Fat Quarter Quilts by M'liss Rae Hawley. I love fat quarters, after all like I said, why use 1 fabric when 10 will do? If you look very carefully at the top of the photo you will see my sand and sage green bedspread, complete with silk ribbon embroidery which comes out for a pastime and drives me to distraction!

10 October 2008

Name Game

1. Your rock star name (first pet, current car):  Charka Grand AM

2.Your gangsta name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe):  Fudge Mint Clog

3.Your Native American name (favorite color, favorite animal):  Blue Cat

4. Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born):  Ann Denison

5. Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name):  Broju

6. Superhero name (2nd favorite color, favorite drink):  Green Coffee

7. NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers):  Otto Anton

8. Exotic Dancer name (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy):  White Linen Starburst

9. TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter):  Jacobsen Juneau

10. Spy name (your favorite season/holiday, flower):  Christmas Tiger Lily

11.Cartoon name (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now):   Raspberry Jeans

12. Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree):  Egg Biscuit Sugar Maple

13. Movie star name (first pet, first street where you lived):  Kitty Main

06 October 2008

Back to (House) Work

Dear Mandella,

Lovely colors! Oh, I'm sure you'll come up with something in no time for those fabrics. What type of dye did you use? Was it cold pour? microwave? steam set?

I am taking today as a holiday. My husband is off this week from his courses (although he has some studying to do for make-up exams) and we have planned two days for me to be at home and doing "stuff around the house." Today that means cleaning up the livingroom so that he can clean the carpeting and one incredibly grungy chair tomorrow. Somewhere in all of this I also need to (brace yourself):
  • Empty the guest room of extraneous boxes (move them to the storage unit)
  • Ditto the garage so I can get my car into it again
  • De-muck the laundry room
  • ...and the dining table
  • Get all of the ironing and mending into separate piles
  • Restore my "craft room" to its former status (it's not a junk room)
  • Clean up my side of the bedroom

I hope to be able to dye some yarn this week, too, but that might not be until Saturday.

Yesterday I was at my mom's to do some sewing. I finished up a navy blue dress -- a prototype, if you will, for the one I will make to wear to my friend's wedding in November. It's a simple pattern: a front, a back, sleeves, and the neck facings. I'd have had it done a week ago if I'd had a 22" zipper. So, yesterday I installed the zipper, stitched the side seams, sewed in the sleeves, and finished all raw edges except the hem.

It's passable.

Luckily I have a professional acquaintance who runs an alterations shop next door to the stationery shop. A week from tomorrow she'll be able to kibbutz on the fitting. I'd ask my mom and /or sister to do so, but they really don't have the eyes or knowledge for this sort of thing. Linda (the pro) will likely agree with me about moving a bust dart downward and shortening a few of the shaping darts in the front. I'm also considering opening up the neckline. Hmmmm.... I'll have to do some before-and-after pictures. It will be sort of like a Project Runway challenge.

What can't be fixed with sewing is my gigantic body. Ye-gads, I don't know how I'm going to be able to shrink myself at all. Like sister blogger Lady Euphoria, I'm not a lazy person: I do resistance training at the gym at least once per week and I try to get 100 - 120 minutes of cardio (usually walking) per week. It's mainly in the eating where I have my downfall. With working 2 jobs, I'm often too tired to make rational decisions about what I'm putting into my mouth. OK, that and I end up eating from fast-food places a lot.

Well, such is life. I console myself with the absolutely unshakeable belief that God does not require a weigh-in at the pearly gates. My value has no connection to a number on the scale or the size printed in my clothing.

When I finished up the navy blue dress enough to try it on, I started in on another quilt top. It is one of those death-by-little-squares quilts. I cut 2-1/2" strips, stitched them together, then cut them apart (so that I had a set of 2 squares sewed together) and stitched them to 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" pieces of fabric that match the darker of the two little squares (did that make sense?). I'll have 238 of these little things when I'm done. They will all make 4" squares when stitched together and will yield a 60" x 60" blanket top (sans borders).

"The next one will be simpler," I promise myself.

On another note, go here to see an absolutely silly image from brother blogger Bourbon Cowboy. He's in New York city and will likely get to see more interesting images throughout the day than will I.

Well, time to dig in to the work at home. I console myself with the concept that I'm getting paid to stay at home and do this stuff. (Ha! I'd rather get paid to go someplace fun on holiday!)

Hugs and great colors to you!


05 October 2008

Dyeing Days

Dear Judith

I hope your weekend has been as great as you expected now the pressure's off.

I took Friday off work as a day's holiday and spent the whole day at the new house with David. We're now decorating the bedrooms and they're looking great.

Yesterday I went on a dyeing workshop. Look at all the lovely fabrics you can get out of just 2 colours:

I used scarlet and golden yellow if you're wondering. I have no specific use for these fabrics, other than to take them out and pet them occasionally and wait until they tell me what they want to be, but I've got an idea for a throw quilt if I do the same sort of thing at home with bigger pieces of fabric.

Today I've been frantically working on the quilt that has to be ready before next Monday. At least all that's left to do is sew the binding to the back, but I hate cutting it so fine, especially as work's going to suck so much life out of me this week. Oh, and I gave myself a DIY breast biopsy today. A word to the wise here. If you drop something on the floor when you're sewing, make sure there isn't a pin cushion sitting on the table you have to lean over to reach the item you've dropped ....... ouch!

Never mind, at least it'll soon be Christmas, or at least you'd think it will be if you go in any supermarket around here.



04 October 2008

Ah, Saturday!

Dear Mandella,

Today has been a long time in coming. Today means I will have no more frantic calls about that big wedding I was working on (I actually had two more last-minute name/menu cards yesterday). Today means we're going to lunch to celebrate Ed's birthday (which was Thursday). Today means I was able to sleep in until 7:45 a.m.

Today I think I'll do as little as possible except to knit on my swatches for class with Melissa Leapman. (I have four of the 8 done.)

Tomorrow I'll go over to my mom's and sew.

I might even do a bit of laundry.

OK, I'll be doing quite a bit of laundry because I got behind last week, but that's another story.

And I have some work to do for a free-lance client.

I should really pile up those boxes into the truck and take them over to the storage unit so that I can get my car into the garage again.

And it would help to clear out the stuff that has accumulated in the guest room.


Too much to do and too little weekend.

Hugs and good weather to you!


03 October 2008

Coming Up for Air

Dear Mandella,

I am at last finished with a major project at my part-time job, which was menu cards (with names on top) and service programs for a wedding that with sit-down reception that will be attended by about 400 people.  I’ve been working on this since the end of August with a very skilled planner and it has taken nearly all of my time and energy to manage all of the pieces and still keep up with all of the other clients’ projects.  In fact, there are a few people I have to call because I’ve not been able to work on their projects for a few weeks while everything else was going on.

One great thing to look forward to this month:  Two classes with Melissa Leapman.  She’ll be at String of Purls on October 18 & 19.  I’ll be in her Celtic Cables class on Saturday afternoon and the Fully Fashioned and Fabulous class on Sunday morning.  I’ve just started working on my swatches.  A total of 8 are due; I’m just a row or two away from finishing the first one.  *sigh*

We are enjoying the most magnificent weather right now.  In the mornings (and I leave for work quite early) the temperature is about 40ยบ (F) so there is a pleasant chill in the air.  The sky is clear and I can see the Orion constellation over my house as though he is stopping by for a brief hello before he goes off hunting in the rest of the galaxy.

Oh…pshaw!  I have to go to a meeting.  Well, at least I can knit during meetings!

Big hugs and good weather to you!