Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday wonder - M

M is for Mansions.

This is the only mansion I've ever been in:  Muckross House near Killarney in Ireland.  It was very impressive and I know that I would certainly be very well-muscled if I had to go up and down stairs and through the miles of corridors each and every day.  The servants would be even more trim.  As we looked and listened on the tour, I wondered how they kept the food hot as it was carried for what seemed like miles from the kitchens to the dining room.

Whether the food is still hot is not something the dweller of this mansion has to worry about. I'm sure that the swallow is as happy with this dwelling place as is the wealthy family.

Someone long ago built this to live in with his family.  Perhaps it was a mansion to them.  

We created this mansion for our squash vines the other day.  We had an old wicker shelving unit  that was no longer needed.  With the shelves and side panels removed it seemed like the perfect addition to the garden.  Especially with a little roof of wicker to shade the plant from the hot sun.  Actually, that was left on because taking them off was becoming too much work.

Even though it could get a little breezy and damp, I'm drawn to the squash mansion with its view of the daisies.  How about you?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Stash

The sun has been shining this week!  I just thought I'd share some good weather news for a change.

My stash-busting has slowed down some.  Two, or three, depending on how you count have been finished.  The scarf  is all ready to keep someone warm.  Here it is posing in the cabbage patch.

And my never-ending cone of white cotton has yielded this bit of instant glam for a very tiny girl.  Since tinies need their wee hats, I added a little beanie to go with it.  I used the Abagail Sweater pattern by Kay Squared which is one mighty adaptable design.  Mine looks nothing like most and that's all down to the yarn.  I would recommend it for a quick and easy welcome to the world project.  If I were a new mom, it would be great to have just to pop over the T-shirt and tights for an outing.  I'm not donating this one yet because grandbaby Number Four is arriving in September...could be a girl!  And it could be pretty warm.  I notice I've used a lot of 'small' words for this.  It is very much a newborn size.  So, not very practical.  But isn't that what glam is all about?

And, still on the needles is Charlie's Choice.  Like him, it's growing fast.  From what I had in my stash, he chose a beautiful sky-blue that makes me smile whenever I look at it.  I couldn't wait to cast on for this design.  Who wouldn't want to knit up something called Laughing Carrots?  Sabine Riefler has done a good job creating a cardi with unusual cabling. 

That's my knitting week all wrapped up.  

Friday, July 29, 2011


Thanks for comments about the quilt.  I'm almost embarrassed to talk about this.  I believe that I began it in late 2009.  The goal back then was to have it ready for my grandson's 3rd birthday.  Well, his 5th has just passed and it still isn't finished.

Just after I set it on the frame, I fell and hurt my back.  Then, I couldn't sit for long periods of time with my arms held out or up and bent over my work.  I left it on the frame and looking at it every day has finally motivated me to get going again.  I can manage longer periods now without aching - but nothing like what I have done in the past.  I really hope to have this done before he's out of kindergarten! 

Something else that's been a long time coming:  our pea blossoms.  Isn't this just the sweetest flower?  We planted one crop of peas but the weather was too cold and wet for them to get going.  Replanted and waited...and waited...waited.   There's been lots of green growth but not one bloom.  Now all of a sudden there are tons.  If there's hope for the peas, then the quilt is going to be OK, too. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jay story - part 2.

I was just sitting in a comfy chair on the deck, reading a book. Just minding my own business.  With a soft swish of air and feathers, the blue shape plopped down beside the door to the house.  I looked up; the jay directed his bright black eye at me and hopped toward the door.

Too late, I noticed that the door was ajar.  Ajar, not open...six inches at most.  I made a move to shove it closed but the cheeky fellow hopped in quickly and then started a little hopping tour of the inside.  He got himself down to the sewing room in his search for peanuts.  Hey!  He knows this is the place! Can you see the jay standing on the quilt frame? I do not keep peanuts under the sewing machine but that's where he's looking with such hope.

It was sad and funny and worrisome all at the same time.  The jay was clearly frightened as he couldn't find his way out. He squawked loudly and flew from window to window in what was mounting panic. So, I decided to lure him out with those peanuts he came to find.  He found the first one and came halfway .  But, of course, he had to stop and hide his treasure under a dresser.  That took forever.  Dust bunnies don't provide much cover for burying peanuts.

Another couple of peanuts led him to the now-opened double doors.  He flew out as soon as he saw those doors.  Inexplicably, he was back at the (closed) door about five minutes later.  I didn't think he'd had that much fun.    He really likes us!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gathering Nuts

Yesterday we had a trio of young Steller's jays - probably siblings - all trying to figure out how to get the one peanut.  It was really hard to capture them as they move very fast.  So, here's a series of not terribly great photos but I hope you get the idea. 

I am much prettier than that miserable flyer!

A peanut!

If I'm really careful...

Got it!

No, it's not snowing here.  I know I complain but it IS summer and it is not THAT cold!  But my pictures above don't show the beauty of these birds.  This one, snapped a couple of years ago, may be a grand-daddy to the young ones we've had today.  In fact, we're still finding husks of the nuts he probably buried way back then.  No matter how many peanuts we give these birds, they always take them away and hide them.

Mostly they forget where.  Or the squirrels get their cache.  Or they hide them somewhere a pile of grass clippings.  Jays are a joy to watch.   They are really quite clever - like their crow cousins - and just as noisy. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ruby Tuesday

"Life is just a bowl of cherries."   Lyrics from 1931 by Buddy G. DeSylva and Lew Brown

They're a little late this year but oh! so sweet and juicy - some of the best cherries I've ever had.  Now if only life could really be like that.

More Ruby Tuesday over here.  Thanks to Mary T for hosting the party.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday wonder - L

L is for Living - in the moment.

No one does this better than kids.  Our  Friday night outdoor concerts are made so much more fun when we have music the kids like to dance to. 

Of course, some can dance quite happily on their own.

While others might want to wait for the right partner.  Don't you just love her dancing shoes?  She did wear her prettiest pink dance dress, though. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Stash

Yes, I am somewhat obsessed with this now.  I have spent every spare minute knit, knit, knitting.  There are other things I should could be doing but I'm happy to be clicking those needles.  The faster I empty those chests the faster I can start filling them up again.

What have I finished this week? The skirt is done.  I do like it.  But I worry that the white makes it look like something that should be under another skirt.  I may be investing in some dye for this.  Maybe. 

The lace was fun and pretty easy to do.  If anyone is thinking about knitting a skirt, I'd recommend giving it a try. Having so much plain knitting makes for a good project when you have company or when you need to give your brain a rest.

I have also finished the Trellis market bag from last week.  This was a total success.  The lacy bag expands nicely.  And it weighs hardly anything.  It's going in the donation box.

 I am halfway to finishing a scarf with reversible cables.  A trick I've wanted to learn for a while now.  It's a lot easier to do than it would have been to try and figure it out by myself.  Thank you to those who do the technical stuff for us. This is also for donation.

And does anyone remember my knit along 1953 stockings?  I'm not surprised.  They've been resting for so long that they were in danger of going into hibernation.  I quickly roused them and tried to remember what had stalled me.  Turns out that I wasn't enjoying the lace pattern.  The stockings weren't knit in the round but raher flat and sewn up the back at the end.  I wanted to convert it to the round.  This involved way more converting of knit to purl stitches complete with yarn overs and passed slip stitches.  I got bored with it.

So, this week, I ripped out the lacy part and started over using a vintage lace pattern from one of my old pattern books.  Maybe the diamond pattern is not exactly from 1953 but it would have been known then.  Is that cheating?  Doesn't matter, 'cuz I'm doing it. 

I've been very happy this week just strolling through blogland, visiting my friends and being a follower.  When I wasn't knitting, I was busy with less fun stuff.  I might try this kind of holiday was nice.  And now I'm going to knit in the sun.  Did you notice that sunshine in the photos? Hurrah!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday wonders - K

K is for Kaleidoscope.

Just a tube.  This one I found in the toy drawer is a bit fancier than most with some colorful fabric on the outside.

There is no hint to the colors and shapes that constantly evolve with each movement of the tube.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by kaleidoscopes.  Part of me wanted to know how they worked.  But only a very small part.  I'm more into the magic than I am the science.  It's enough for me that it is there, making rainbow pictures that delight my eye.

I am, however, a word nerd.  The word 'kaleidoscope' comes from the Greek words for 'beautiful' and 'shape' and 'observation instrument'.  It was invented - and named - in 1817 by a Scottish physicist: Sir David Brewster.  Now you know. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Stash

So, the day to make a progress report.  I think I'm doing rather well.  If I can keep up the pace for the next six months, I should have at least one chest emptied  - and ready to refiill, hee, hee.  I know I've made a pledge to buy no more yarn but really!  Temptation is lurking everywhere.  Elann knocks on my door with a trio of sock yarns - at least one I covet.  Simply Sock Yarns is opening a new showroom/store.  I think it would be well worth the trip to Fort Wayne just to see the old post office full of sock yarn, don't you?  Maybe next year.  Of course, it's the online buying that I have to be wary of...not the going into shops.  So easy to click that mouse.
But, I must focus; here's the report:

In the Finished-and-I'm-so-pleased-with-the-results category, I have two items.  First up is the baby dress.  It will be given over with all due ceremony to my daughter who has waited all these years.  She can decide what to do with it.  After a wash, 4 buttons and a ribbon it came up a beautiful summer sky blue.  I noticed that there was beading for a ribbon on the front.  A ribbon is just so traditional.

Second, is the Choco-vanilla Swirl skirt.  This I also love.  It's comfy and feels really good to wear.  Although, it is warm so no summer events for this one.  Besides, I think it needs leggings and boots to really carry it off well.  It makes me want to do the twist and make the skirt twirl.  It won't, really, that's just an illusion.  But it does make me think of the straight skirts we used to wear.  Back in those olden days.

This was a really, really easy pattern to knit up.  But the grafting was a killer.  Took me almost 1 and 1/2 hours to pull all 156 stitches together.  And, of course, I had to drag a tail on my needle that was over 6 feet long.  Fun!

What's on the needles now?  I'm still working on the white cotton skirt.  I'm a few rounds away from the lace starting,  Then it'll get interesting.  Right now it doesn't look much different than it did last week - just longer. 

And, since re-storing the left over vanilla cotton yarn from the swirl skirt seemed plain wrong, I decided to knit up a market bag with the remaining three balls.  This is the pattern I'm using: Trellis Market Bag - it will probably be donated.   Then I can cross that yarn right off the inventory.  The small ball of rust wool I did put back in stash, though. 
And there you have the week's progress. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tiny dress

It does seem so impossibly small.  When I measure it, though, it would fit a wee girl 6 to 9 months old.  Maybe even a year.

When we last saw our knitting heroine, she had one finished sleeve and no pattern in hand.  After many, many attempts to reproduce the pattern, this knitter has given up.  I think that the stitch pattern wasn't executed properly.  Try as I might, I just can't seem to figure it out.  It looks very easy - like a mock cable rib.  The kind of stitch that Patons is famous for in so many of its baby knits.  But, whatever error I made 40 years ago, I can't for the life of me do again.  So, Plan B.  I put the simple chevron lace pattern that's in the dress with the garter stitch hem into two new sleeves.  They're not as dainty as the original but I think that the design is more coherent now.  I couldn't really understand why the ribby sleeve when there was no other reference to that pattern in the dress.

The next challenge is the shoulders and neck.  How the heck is a mom supposed to get baby's head through this neckhole? Even dainty wee girl babies have big heads.  So,  I think I'll knit rib plackets on each side of the shoulder once the dress is put together.  The last (first) shoulder shaping section can be sewn to support the sleeve seam.  Then a couple of buttonholes and teeny buttons.  And it'll be finished.  Piece o' cake. 

Remind me again why it's followed me around all these years?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Red and Yellow

Most flowers on the St John's wort are only Mellow Yellow Monday flowers.  But some, like this one....

...have a sprayed on the red glitter to carry it into Ruby Tuesday.

For more Mellow Yellow Monday photos visit Drowsey Monkey here.

If you're ready for some Ruby Tuesday, check out Mary T's place right here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Wonder - J

J is for July.

Since this is my blog, I can say what I like about July.  You don't have to agree and you probably won't.  I have always thought of July as a disappointing month.  A rehearsal for the real summer of August.  It always has taken me almost the whole month to get into the mood of summer.  The real heat of summer never came until closer to the end of the month.

As a kid who loved school from the very beginning, July loomed huge and black during those last days of class.  July meant no more days spent learning stuff, seeing my friends and escaping from chores.  While my mother was a strong advocate of reading and learning, she had a home to run, a husband and five children to cook, clean and pick up after.  Having your oldest daughter home every day certainly provided extra hands and another child minder/entertainer. Who could blame her?

I never think of July as being a very festive month.  Back in those olden days, we didn't celebrate July 1 as we do now for Canada Day.  It wasn't even called that.  We were most of us, quietly proud to be Canadian but parades and festivals were few and far between.  A question of money?  Time?  The collective personality of our citizenry? I don't know what changed.  And fireworks were strictly for Hallowe'en in my town.  The biggest celebration that I knew of in July was my brother's birthday.  Not exactly cause for a town party and, anyway,  so far at the end as to be almost August.

The fruit season of course always began with rhubarb, strawberries and early cherries in June.  My favorite crop, blueberries, didn't  ripen in quantity until almost August.  The tomatoes were also not usually ready for much of July.  Not that July was a complete fruit could always look forward to the raspberries coming along in abundance.  Then, of course, there was the hot and steamy work of putting up the jams and canning the fruit.  Have to admit that got worse as the summer went along.

As a mom myself, July was when the kids started their summer vacation.  Home life's rhythms changed and weren't nearly so orderly.  It still seemed to take almost the whole of July while all of us adapted to that change.

So, July.  Not my favorite month. But, it's way better than January!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday Stash Summary

Well, I didn't get done what I had intended.  What else is new around here?

In the 'Finished' column is one pair of socks.  I think it counts as stash if I bought the yarn in May.  In any case, I have been using the sock as a bit of fancy in a sea of garter and stocking stitch.

Unfinished is the Choco-vanilla Swirl Skirt.  I have one gusset left to knit and then a bunch of grafting.  156 stitches to be exact!  Good thing I kind of enjoy grafting...but that's for socks.  Totally different scene when it's this big.  Also unfinished is the baby dress.  That will be my tiny piece with tiny needles and a bit of detail work for this week.

And, this is why I'll need it.  I have two of these cones of white cotton sport-weight in my stash.  I had no plan for them and their purchase (at the thrift shop) probably comes under the "what was I thinking?' category.

But, a pattern drifted past me on Ravelry.  Another skirt, this one designed by Cindy Craig which she calls the Flouncy Skirt.  I seem to be smitten by skirt patterns right now.  But, it's summer and a white cotton skirt might be just fine. I had the thought that I'd never had a white skirt before but that's not true.  Back in the 60's I had a white pleated polyester skirt.  It must have been a part of the fad which included the Ben Casey blouse - mine was white with turquoise polka dots.  These were a way to show our teen-age devotion to Dr Ben Casey as played in the TV series by Vince Edwards.  Not sure why the devotion - of course that's the me of many years on speaking.  No accounting for teenage tastes. 

I cast on as soon as I did the swatch.  This will be even more mindless knitting than the other skirt.  But it uses up a lot of yarn which is important in this stash-busting game.  It also has some fun lace at the bottom.  And I will get there.  Going round and round and round.  You can see why I might need the small diversions.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Such a pleasure!

It's been a little over a year since I began to realize a childhood dream.  We acquired a keyboard and I had an opportunity to take piano lessons with a great teacher who had retired from kids and only worked with adults.

This has been my instrument up until last week- note the add-on concert music stand.  This is a 20 year-old keyboard with 5 octaves and no pedals.  I have had weekly lessons with summers off.  I have practiced and practiced.  Our teacher hosts a monthly workshop for all her students where we play for each other.  This was pretty scary at first, since I was the only student who was starting from the beginning.  I had to learn to read music as well as how to play.  Most of the others were returning to the piano having had lessons as kids.  But, now there are a couple more beginners whom I can encourage.  The workshops are a joy with many different levels of skill being shared. 

Now, I have a new instrument.  Oh, my!  What a difference it makes.  This is a real piano.  Well, it is a digital piano but that doesn't make it less real to me.  It  sounds  - and looks - like a piano should and it makes me want to play it.  And I do.  I'm still learning the basics but I feel way more grown up now. The music has gotten more interesting over the year though still pretty simple. 

I try to get an hour a day to practice which pretty much flies by.  I've gotten some great advice from other pianists.  Here are my favorite three:  play some scales every day (if nothing else);  never miss a chance to perform in front of others;  and play duets whenever possible.  These have been very helpful to me as I navigate my small corner of the world of music. 

 And now, I'm off to play.   

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Looking back

As promised, I went digging in the pile of old knitting patterns to finish the little dress from the bottom of the box.

Now, I didn't find that particular pattern.  But I found lots of other neat stuff.   This book from sometime between 1940 and 1946 has a note on the front apologizing for the poor quality of paper.  It was the best they could do during wartime shortages.  I have a copy of a non-wartime edition as well.  The only difference I can see is that the pages are a bit heavier and glossier.  But the "poor" quality copy is as sturdy and readable as any magazine today.

And, on the back, is a box full of advice for the knitter on how to care for the garment and other important wisdom.  My favorite was the last sentence about the healthy properties of wool.  Today, wool producers are still telling us about these properties but they have changed over the years.  I don't think this one would get any dermatologists' approval today.

In the folder were some loose clippings from when my daughter was able to fit into that dress.  Most of them were taken from Woman's Weekly, a British magazine that always had knitting patterns that were useful.  Back then, all the US pattern magazines tended towards the adult and Vogue-ish styles.  Not only were there great patterns, but there was always at least two short stories and a serialized romantic adventure novel to take me away to some exotic locale while I sat in the laundromat waiting for the diapers to wash.

All this digging had me sitting on the couch with tears running down my face.  You know, those babies don't come back.  They do grow and become wonderful kids and adults with kids of their own, though.  But, really, I'm not sure why I was so moved.  Maybe just that the young mom that was me is also so long gone.  The patterns that I found?  Mostly never made.  Some things never change and that young mom just got older.  She still has to organize and then re-organize the things that don't get done.  I did make the little red jumper/sweater set (titled "Such a Poppet")  but I never got around to the lion.  I'll keep them, though, just in case.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ruby Tuesday

These seed potatoes might have had to wait too long for spring! 

For more Ruby Tuesday photos, visit Mary T right here.


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