Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dreams come true

Some of you may remember a while back a couple of years ago that I was trying to learn to play the piano.  Something I'd always wanted to do.  So we acquired a keyboard and a small mountain of beginner books and set to.  We practiced every day and thought we were doing pretty good.  Then, as life goes, something happened.  Our practicing was interrupted and never got back on track.

A few weeks ago, I joined a singing group so that I could  indulge my love of singing.  It's a pretty informal group and no one cares that I can't really carry a tune - unless I have lots of helpers.   But, wait!  We have an accompanist who teaches adults.  Should I do it?

Well, of course, I should.  How many opportunities like this come along?  I struggled for a week with excuses like: "I'm far too busy right now" and "It'll cost so much".  The truth was I was scared.  Scared to fail, scared to succeed.  So, as I do when presented with the deep end of the pool - I jumped!

I had my first lesson yesterday.  I may practice on a keyboard but my lessons are on a Steinway baby grand!  My progress in one half-hour was more than I'd made alone in a month.   I came home just glowing with accomplishment.  A good teacher makes all the difference.  Now to that practicing...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just in time

I have finished Leather 'n' Lace.
I used a pair of green suede pants from The Box and made a contrast band to finish the front and armholes.

I also changed the back to a very simple lace - essentially just holes!  I did try a version with a plain stocking stitch back but that fabric was way too heavy and dense.  I find this vest warm enough. The pattern I used enabled me to save yarn and create a lighter fabric.  Oddly, the front lace pattern uses quite a bit of yarn.  In case anyone wants to know, there's almost 400 yards of yarn in this vest.  All handcut to about 3/16 inch yarn.

I'm not as happy with this piece as I was with the first version.  It hangs a bit limp when not being worn.  I may try to get some better photos when there's someone around to handle the photography. 
But it's done...and before tomorrow's deadline.  Now to get it up on Ravelry.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday

Well, my world really needs a Mellow Yellow photo to clear away the gray skies and rain.

Here's a little yellow hand that greets me every time I sit down at the computer.  It's a paper clip, I think, but it's always on my desk lamp.  It''s not really very good at clipping paper but it makes me smile when I look up. 

Hope you're having some smiles today.  If not, check out all the photos here where Drowsy Monkey hosts the Mellow Yellow Monday meme. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday wonders - A

A is for Alchemy.

Turning waste to garden gold starts here in this stainless steel bucket which collects our veggie peels and similar leavings.

This then gets dumped in the composter and covered in grass clippings and old leaves...

Where heat, time and what seems like a million worms turn it into marvellous muck...

Which results in delicious food for us to eat.  These little rhubarb leaves, new and wrinkled will grow tall and sturdy with this feeding. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Artist vs.numbers

I am furious sorry to report that the leather vest is once more being frogged.  This yarn will be so soft by the time I'm finished with it.
Apparently I can't count to 65.  I thought I did but casting off for the armholes revealed a severe stitch deficit in the back of the vest. 
We're back to leather balls and bare needles again.  I shall work as fast as I can to get it done.  Now, I'm determined to make it work.  The challenge is really on!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Yesterday, Anne fell in love with the white magnolia and took the camera with her.

Washing dishes is a pleasure when this is your view from the kitchen sink...

Some of the blossoms are still buds...

and some are hanging on to their furry winter hats.

A few blossoms lean down to meet the periwinkle on the ground...

When you look closely, you can see that some little flies have decided the flowers are as sweet as they look.

The season is all too short for these blooms but it will be nice to see the new leaves, too.  Then the tree will provide quite deep shade for the flowering plants below. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

Just waiting their turn...

Thanks to Mary T for hosting this fun meme.  Find a photo you've taken with red in it and visit her to sign up and play, too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Wonders - Z

Z is for Zig-zag.

Of all the tweeds in my rug-hooking wool stash, the herringbones are my favorites.  They hook up in such interesting, and varied, looks.  I think that it's the diagonals that keep them interesting.  There is so much movement to catch the getting bored with these fabrics. 

And, now I'm at the end of a second run of the alphabet.  I had hoped that it would bring me to spring again - and it has.

I had thought that I would quit now but I've caught myself thinking about a third round.  There is so much variety in the world of letters that this never gets old for me.  Play it again?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Paint spots

Like grandparents everywhere, I have interesting artwork on my fridge door. 

Every time I walk by,  I am struck by this one: 

It was painted by my not-quite-two granddaughter so you know it wasn't intended to portray what I see:  a wonderful feathery yellow duckie with a pregnant blue woman swimming by. 

I'm fascinated by what some accidental brushstrokes with bright paints can create.  Or is it all in my mind?

Friday, March 19, 2010


Here's the results of my knitting with leather adventure, so far.

Here's the back.  The sides aren't seamed so it looks a little odd.

And the front...still on the needles.  With about 4 inches left to knit on each side. 

I have run out of leather yarn.  I've gone back to the box of leather garments that I've bought over the years.  Doesn't everyone have a leather stash?  There is nothing which is comparable.  This was a very fine suede with a lot of suppleness left in it.  The others are a bit coarser and not as thin.  But all that's irrelevant really, as nothing is a close enough color match. 

So, I'm taking a photo for history.  This vest will be frogged and I'll reknit the leather.  The upside: this yarn gets softer each time it's worked.  The swatch - which was frogged and reknit two or three times as I played with patterns - felt like silk. 

So, boo-hoo...onward and upward.  There's lots of time 'til the end of March...right?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reading challenge

Remember this?

I finally found one of the books:  This Side of Innocence by Taylor Caldwell.  It's been in the library so long it still has a paper pocket inside the front cover.  These haven't been used in our libraries for many years. 

I've started it and I think I'm enjoying the story so far.  But it's such hard reading compared to more current books.  I have to dig back in my brain for a much wider vocabulary than most books use today.  I mean, really.  Who describes weather as being "execrable"?  This is apparently how bad New York weather could be in 1868.  It is good to remind my brain that I actually know more words than I ever use on a daily basis  but it's darn hard slogging. 

It's fascinating to take a trip back in time to a different - very different - culture.  A society with a rigid class structure that almost everyone accepts as The Way Things Are.  How the rich folks live.  And how they think the great unwashed live.  I am, even after only a few chapters, quite happy that I'm living now.  It may not be perfect but at least we all have potential.  It must have been very discouraging to be labelled and have to Know Your Place and stay in it. 

I'm still searching for the other books on my list.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day!

I am celebrating today by going back to tai chi classes for myself. 

Last summer, I decided that my body needed a different bunch of muscles exercised and stopped regular tai chi classes.  Tai chi is mostly about core strength, balance and legs.  That alternate exercise didn't materialize as planned  but I did continueleading a weekly practice class for beginners.  And now I'm missing it.  It's funny how one small change can cascade a whole row of changes.  I'm hoping that I can rebuild some of those good habits.

We celebrated St Patrick's Day with  the seniors on Monday with home-made  Irish (lamb) stew and soda bread.  The bread  was as authentic as possible given our harder flour but still not as I remember from our visit to Ireland.  There was whole wheat as well as white and it made me happy to see them all taking seconds on the brown bread. 

We created limericks, told some jokes and even danced a few jigs - well, sort of.  There was a rainbow and a big pot of gold coins to be shared.  We were not stingy leprechauns!  Sorry - no green beer.   Even so, everyone left happy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

If you come and visit us, this fellow will greet you.  A souvenir of Puerto Vallarta, Senor Frog reminds us of hot sun and even hotter colors.

You can share your red photos for Ruby Tuesday here.  Thanks to Mary T for hosting.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday

I'm happy to see the Mellow Yellow part of Monday - it's gray and rainy here today. 

This beautiful water lily was found in a pond in Cork, Ireland.   Reminds me of summer.

If you need some yellow today just visit Drowsy Monkey here.  You'll be glad you did. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday wonders - Y

Y is for Youth.
You know you're getting old when you start thinking about the Fountain of Youth.

Mainly, I wonder:  what if you could you program the journey backwards?  Where would I want to stop it?

Would I want to go back just enough to have my kids be kids again?  Of course, they wouldn't be in the same time tunnel so that might be kind of weird. 

Maybe a free and easy university student again?  Would I take all my thoughts and experience with me?  That would be kind of strange, too.

Somehow, I think that no matter what age I might stop, I'd always be watching the big kids and wishing I might be as grown up as they are.   I'm sure my character wouldn't really change.   Would yours?

Saturday, March 13, 2010


OK.  All that whining yesterday seems to have made an impression on the universe.

Last night I had the MOST fantastic news.  I won!  No, not the lottery...something much better.  I won a year's subscription to Knitcircus and the patterns, too!   My friend, Rudee, offered this prize last week  with a post on Knitcircus.  I wrote my comment  and assumed that some other lucky person would win.  But, guess what?  It's me, it's me!  Check it out and you'll see why I'm so excited.

I could actually see myself using every one  these patterns.  That's an astounding ratio for knitting magazines - online or not. And,  this one actually gives back to some of the world's needs.  Do visit and read about them.

So, now, I'll have to buy that lottery ticket and hope the universe is still listening.  Need some deep pockets to buy all that yarn. 

Thank you, Rudee and Jaala!

Friday, March 12, 2010


So, on Wednesday, I was cruising by the magazine display in a local store and saw the Interweave Knits for spring.  I don't subscribe and I don't always buy it.  I used to subscribe to a knitting magazine and found that only half the issues actually had something I would knit in them.

So, I let that subscription lapse and now I just pick up the ones that have a pattern in that appeals to me.  It's rare for there to be more than one that really makes my fingers want to grab needles and cast on. There might be lots more to read about but not on first glance.  Just sayin'. 

As I browsed through the latest IK, I was immediately drawn to  the Yggdrasil Afghan.  You can understand how this would have caught my's gorgeous!  But when I got it home, I discovered that the instructions were only available on-line - for a price, I assumed.  I wasn't ready to knit so didn't look.   Guess I should have stood and read more closely at the store.  I know they love it when browsers read cover to cover and inspect the fine print.

Then, this morning, on IK's Knitting Daily email, came the offer of a free download for this pattern.  Now, I know this is the perfect way to get new subscribers and I know that's the aim.  But, c'mon guys...this is just a little sneaky.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


The leather 'n' lace project is progressing but it's mighty slow.  Some days I think I can see my vision coming to life and then, there are those other days.
This is a good day.

My design is a vest knit in one piece.  I am now almost 1/2 up the armhole on the back and then I'll just flip down the front which I hope will be a little faster than this has been.  The focus is funny and I couldn't get it any better.  It's not your eyes, the design does seem to dance.

The pattern is a simple leaf which I thought went well with the autumn-y color of the suede.  My fear is that it will get lost in the twists in the yarn that seem inevitable.  I've tried to eliminate them and create the right color on the right side.  Not possible for me and I'm a patient person. Maybe this is not as simple a pattern as I thought.  It would be super-easy in wool.

I changed to a larger needle - yes! I did swatch all over again! - to get as much mileage on the yarn as possible.  It's going to be a squeaker.  I think the fronts will use less - my fingers are crossed.  There's a small amount of uncut suede still to draw on. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


For weeks now we've had  balmy spring weather but just in the past couple of days it has turned cold.  There was even fresh snow on the mountains - I know, too late for those  Olympic skiing events!

But, still, we did fire up the BBQ last night for dinner.  And then, we we forgot to put the cover back on after it cooled.  All that outdoor cooking excitement plumb wore us out, I guess.

And now this morning, I woke up to rain and slapped my forehead.  What had flown out of my brain last night was front and center this morning.  Just needed a little watering.

But just a few minutes ago, the rain turned to fat wet flakes of SNOW!  It isn't sticking and is almost rain again.  But if I were a newly-opened magnolia blossom, I might be feeling just the slightest bit early for the performance.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

Here it is Ruby Tuesday again.  I have dug back in my photo archives for this one.

I admired the little extra power label attached to these pants.  Of course, it is red.

For more Ruby Tuesday photos, join Mary T here

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday

This cheerful little fellow rows to and fro on our deck. 

He has to work extra hard because he only rows when the wind is blowing.  I can't imagine how far he's taken his little dory.  Or maybe he's just going in circles.

Today is Mellow Yellow Monday.  Check out the other players - world-wide - here.  Thanks to Drowsy Monkey for continuing to host this meme.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday wonders - X

X is for Xylem.

When I was in elementary school, I was introduced to the parts of a tree.  Some of this learning stuck and some didn't.  But, Xylem, the innermost part,  has stayed with me for the many years.  And it did because it is an X-word.  There's something fascinating about having an X at the beginning of a word...there are actually quite a few...making it sound like a Z-word.    But most of these words don't have such splendid images as Xylem does.  

I just walked around the yard to find a few.  This is the stump of the huge hemlock that came down last year.

What's left of a branch of the butterfly bush (buddleia) - pruned a few weeks ago.

A branch of the climbing rose that was snipped off last summer to assist the house painting effort.

A lilac branch that's been gone so long it's stump has dried and cracked.

And a stem from a clematis which was pruned about three weeks ago.  I'm amazed at how dried out it looks and how quickly it happened.  No wonder plants suffer so in a drought.  

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Winner

I have decided on a material...and it is leather.

I bought a suede skirt at a thrift store just for this purpose.  I was just waiting for someone to challenge me since it takes FOREVER to cut the 'yarn'.  I wonder if I would have stuck to the script if no one was watching?

I haven't decided on a final design yet but it will have lace.  I've swatched - it is possible. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010


More hellebores, that is.

I love these plants and for years wanted them in our garden.  This is the first hellebore I found - at a garage sale.

Even though it's not one of the 'beautiful' ones, I like the green on green in its flowers.  They are such unusual looking flowers and will stay just like this for months. 

Sometimes, critters come to visit and since it's quite big are usually safe from discovery.  .  Eventually, the heavy stem collapses and, voila!  there are new little plants forming nearby.  Now I know why I found it in that sale.

You've already met 'Ivory Prince', I present 'Hot Flash'.  She is a bit of a late bloomer and just getting started now.  Her leaves are very prickly - like holly but not so stiff.

And she has a lovely blush.  She is not as robust-looking and stands a bit shorter at about 8 inches. 

I was really surprised to learn that the hellebore is a member of the Buttercup family.  No, wait!  Buttercup is the bane of my garden life.  Each year, it's a never-ending war just to look like I'm in control.

But, I have to admit it: I'm in love with Bad Buttercup's cool cousin.


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