Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow, snow and more snow

We are very behind on all things holiday this year but it smells like Christmas at my house now. I took advantage of my snow day to check out the favorite cookies through the decades on Gourmet's website. I made three: thin chocolates, molasses oatmeal, and brown sugar ginger thins.

The winter storm is mostly gone but it left behind plenty of fluffy snow that should last until Christmas. You can get an idea how much by looking at our evergreen. The first year after we lived in this house we bought a real tree for Christmas. It worked out great because Matt and the dogs could not reach over the top of the root ball to take any ornaments off. It has been thirteen years and the tree has grown a lot.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Arrowhead Stitch

Here is a sample of my experiments with arrowhead stitch. Looking through my needlework books, I found that there are a number of stitches that are called arrowhead stitch. In this sampler, I have stuck with just those that had no other name. There are several variations of stitch size and orientation here as well as two distinct kinds of arrowhead stitches. One is used as a linear decorative band, the other is a stand alone embellishment that is described as a decoration in fine tailored garments. The samples are stitched using Crescent Colors cotton floss in three colors and Mill Hill beads on an even weave linen.

I also finished my inchies and am ready to send them off to swap. I used Ultrasuede scraps for the backing and sewed it on using nylon filament thread. They are exactly 1" on each side and look very small.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Elements inchies

I have been looking at stitching blogs and web sites over the past few days which has inspired me to do some more creative stitching of my own. (It could also be the monotony of rows of monochromatic satin stitch motifs at the bottom of Anne Depauw that is motivating me to be creative.) This evening, I sat down and made a set of inchies that represent the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

All four are stitched in Crescent Colors cotton floss on 28 count linen using Algerian Eyelet variations. They will be included in the Cyberstitchers Inchie exchange.

Even though I have not been able to keep up with Sharon B's Take it Further Challenge this year, I love looking at her blog and admiring her energy and creativity. The idea of a stitchalong to experiment with different stitches started on her blog at the beginning of the summer, it is Take a Stitch Tuesday working at your own pace. I started with the first sitch, Algerian eyelet, and experimented with different variations of stitch alignment, color and size in this set of inchies.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Glad Tidings

I have been stitching again and finished Glad Tidings this weekend. The pattern is from Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly. It is stitched in silk on lambswool linen. I like the colors and the flam stitched bottom band. It will be a nice addition to my holiday decorations once I get it finished or framed.

It seems right to feature a holiday finish during the first snow of the year. The big flakes are actually sticking to the ground tonight, bringing an early winter. The dogs are really excited -- they love to go wrestle in the snow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


It is hard to believe that it is September already, this year has flown by. It sounds like it has finally stopped raining but I am waiting for the 10 o'clock news -- delayed because the football game ran late -- to tell me what the weather will be like tomorrow. We are not flooded and there is no water in the house but everything outside is wet and the dogs are muddy. When I was at church this morning, it felt like we were sitting in a rain forest.

This is the third time that a hurricane has hit a city that I recently visited. Earlier this summer, we stayed in downtown Houston. I haven't seen pictures of the Hyatt but I heard that it was damaged. We also visited New Orleans before Katrina and Fort Lauderdale before and after Wilma. This time, my husband and daughter benefited from the hurricane, they went to see the Cubs play the Astros in Milwaukee this evening. They called earlier and told me that it was a perfect game.

I have a finish to show off -- my Tudor Rose Scissors Fob is finished. It was designed for the Lake Michigan Sampler Guild Anniversary Party last year. I continue to work on Anne DePauw, one day I may finally be able to post pictures of a completed sampler.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Six word memoirs for pets

I read the book Not Quite what I was Planning which is full of six word memoirs collected by Smith Magazine and I have been writing some of my own for my pets. Holly, the beautiful, long-haired calico cat wants only to be waited on and left alone. However, her long, soft fur and beauty make her irresistible -- everyone wants to pet her.

I know I'm beautiful, don't touch.

Gambit on the other hand is extremely tame, to the point that we have sometimes wondered if there is something wrong with him.

I am shameless; rub my tummy.

In addition to the pets in the house, we have animals outside the house. I apparently did not scare Mama Robin off by cutting down half the tree and exposing her nest, she has laid her final egg and has taken up residence. She stays put when the dogs are out but gets up and scolds us when we get too close. I suppose we are lucky that we don't have a nesting red winged blackbird -- they apparently dive bomb people who come too close to their nests.
I made up some six-word memoirs for myself as well, they include:
Iron low, thyroid low, very tired.
Mother, manager, engineer, artist -- hired housekeeper.
Teenager driving, parents gray and broke.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Red, white and blue . . .

All of the snow this winter, and spring, and all of the rain an cool weather have made my roses very happy. My favorites are the firecracker roses. Since I hurt my back last fall and did not get them cut back, they are starting to climb the porch railing and are very happy. The buds and flowers are just beautiful.

We also have a bumper crop of white alpine strawberries. When they are ripe, they taste like the essence of strawberries and I think they look very pretty against my blue glass bird bath.

The real blue in my garden are the robin's eggs I found in a nest. I was afraid that I disturbed the mother too much when I pruned the tree her nest is in but when I got home from work today, Mama Robin was sitting on her nest. Unfortunately, every time I get close enough to her to take a picture, she flies off. Maybe she will stay put once she lays another egg or two and has to stay on the nest to keep the eggs warm. I think it is cool that we will get to watch the babies grow up.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Summer is here

At the end of March, I posted pictures of my garden covered in snow. I spent part of this afternoon weeding and then took some pictures of my garden today. In another couple of days, I will have roses as well. They seem to like all of the wet, cool weather as well as the fact that I did not get them cut back as far as they should have been in the fall.
Right now, the garden is full of blue and purple flowers -- the red and yellow columbines have bloomed out but the blue ones are still blooming along with lupine, chives, Russian sage, and iris. Soon I will have white, pink and red roses, yellow and orange day lilies and red hollyhocks.

We are enjoying rhubarb and asparagus from my farm shares as well as a variety of beautiful greens. I am very spoiled by all of the bounty available to me this spring and summer. Soon I will be enjoying strawberries from my garden. The one white alpine strawberry plant I planted several years ago is taking over.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Reading, Stitching, and Blogging and a really cool gift

I have been reading, knitting, and watching high school LaCrosse games rather than stitching and blogging during the past couple of months. The reading has been rather obsessive -- I keep track of the books I read each year and last year I read fewer books than I had in any of the last 5 years. This year, I set a goal to do better and so far in 2008 I have finished reading 30 books; I listened to another 10 in the car. You can see the results on my Shelfari shelf at the bottom of the blog. I really enjoyed Graceland by Chris Abani. My local library had two more of his books and I am looking forward to reading them.

I have also been knitting and have finished the back and 3/4 of one front on my Noro sweater. I made the front of the sweater a little wider than the pattern -- both to make the pattern come out even and make it easier to knit and because I want the sweater to cover my chest without strain. Now it looks like I will need one or two more balls of yarn to finish the sweater. I have also started a new pair of socks. I visited a new local yarn store, Prairie Arts and Fibers, and bought a ball of borroco sox. I have started the Roman Rib Socks from the Little Box of Socks. I also got sock yarn from the Webs Skein of the Month club this month.

I have found a way to combine knitting and reading. I am moderating the discussion of Middlesex on the Ravelry Book Club and have joined a Don Quixote summer knit and read along. I fell in love with Annie Modesitt's Corset Tank, a Dulcinea like knit along project, and fell off the stash wagon to order the Art Yarns Regal Silk to make it.

The high school LaCrosse season is over. We are making plans for summer karate, summer basketball camp, summer football camp, and, of course, summer LaCrosse. I started yoga last week and got the blood work results back from the Doctor's office. It appears that I am anemic which may explain why I have been so tired. It will be a couple weeks before I can see the Doctor, so I bought some iron supplements at the store. Hopefully I will start to feel like I have more energy if I take them.

To finish with the really cool gift, my father sent me a Hopi Kachina. It is a clown with two dogs carved by Robert Albert, Sahkomenewa. If you look closely, you can see that they are my dogs -- Cain and Abel the lab/shar pei mixes.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

CSA Shares Start Today

I picked up the first share of the CSA growing season this afternoon. It contained baby greens, pea shoots, new potatoes, tomato puree from last season's tomatoes, green garlic and chives. I bought a dozen eggs from free range chickens to add to my share. I thought about an organic, free range soup chicken but decided to wait until a different week.

It was tempting, especially since I have been reading Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma again. I finished the section about organic farming and have started on his discussion of foraging.

In addition to reading, I have also done some needlework. I finished SamSarah's Embrace and have been working on my Noro Sweater. Embrace was fun to stitch once I really got started on it. It will be added to my collection of snowmen. I posted progress pictures of the sweater on Ravelry. I will post here when I make some more progress.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Take it Further Challenge

This month the Take it Further Design Challenge theme was about details. I cut my left thumb at the beginning of the month in the kitchen. Since I am left handed, holding a needle was out for most of the month. So I started thinking about machine patchwork. I have also been thinking about small pieces this month, particularly inchies. Since a 1 inch square has to be about details, I made a series of inchies using fabrics that match the month's color scheme. When I was done, I decided that a bookmark would be more useful than a pile of 1 inch patchwork squares. The end result is shown at right. I am also including some close up pictures of the inchies -- blogger would not cooperate with positioning all 5 so if you want to see them all, you need to take a look at the Flickr group for the Take it Further Challenge.

I mentioned in my last post that I have been listening to podcasts. One of my favorites right now is The Classic Tales podcast. B.J. Harrison reads classic stories and short works in this podcast. Right now he is reading Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness in installments. I have been sampling different knitting podcasts that I find on iTunes as well. Cast-on by Brenda Dayne is one of my favorites. Another is Faery Knitting by Spinning Erin. Please share your favorite podcasts with me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

March Take it Further Challenge and Spring Snows . . .

It is almost April and Spring has officially started but someone forgot to tell the weather. Last Friday, we got 9 inches of very fluffy, wet snow. That melted and then more fell last night. This picture is of my front flower bed this morning. Normally this time of year, you would see green here but not this year. I am ready for spring but the dogs are loving it. They should have been sled dogs but since they are not, they go out and eat snow, throw it at each other and wrestle in it. Then they come in and track water all over my house.

I am procrastinating working on my Take it Further Design Challenge piece until the end of the month. This has not been intentional but it is how it has worked out. The theme is details and I decided that I would try making some inchies using fabric colors from the color scheme. The fabrics I pulled last night are in the picture. In real life, they match the color scheme pretty well. Sometime this weekend, I am going to work on my inchies and if all goes according to plan, there might be some samples before April starts.


I did finish some knitting -- I made two clutches using the Webs Skein of the Month. This is the smaller one. It is the perfect size to hold my IPod and headphones. I have been listening to podcasts for the past two weeks and have been trying to decide which are my favorites. The larger one needs to be blocked before I finish it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My pictures on the web

I had an interesting experience yesterday while checking out the referrers that had led people to my blog. I found a photograph of an original piece of free embroidery by me, on another web site. You can see it here by the Free Embroidery Workshop. It is flattering to know that someone thinks highly enough of my work to steal an image of it for their own use, but it is also a bit disturbing that someone would do this. It surprised me because they obviously know where it came from but did not contact me to ask if they could use it.

My March TIF piece may be delayed a bit as I may not be able to stitch for a while. I cut my left thumb while chopping spinach in the kitchen yesterday. Cooking with sharp utensils and open flames is not always a good idea in a small kitchen with two large dogs and a 15 year old who wants your attention. Since I stitch left handed, you may continue to see knitting for a while unless I get creative with my sewing machine.

I did have a beautiful idea to go along with the March theme of details -- I was going to make a series of beaded borders into a sampler. However, I think I am going to have to think about something that requires less hand work and use of my thumb -- maybe this is the time to try to make some inchies. Just based on their size they would be details. . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

February TIF finished

Here is my finished February TIF piece. I finally decided to leave the agricultural areas plain and unembroidered and to embroider the other areas to show the development of the urban areas and their movement into the agricultural areas. The detail does not show up well in the photo, I will have to play with it some more in photoshop and see what happens.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

February TIF and more knitting

I know that it is March, but I am posting another progress picture for my February TIF. I printed the image on fabric using a computer ink jet printer. I layered the fabric with a purple hand dyed cotton and am embellishing it with surface embroidery using over dyed cottons from Gentle Art. My original concept was to embroider the agricultural areas but upon further thought, I decided to embroider the urban and recreational areas instead. The embroidery shows growth and movement since the urban areas continue to overtake the agricultural ones.

I have also been knitting and finished my Elfin Hat in time for the temperature here to rise to 50 degrees. The hand spun yarn really looks excellent in the hat. I am working on a boucle scarf to match. I added several other projects to my project notebook in Ravelry, I will show off pictures when they are completed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

4000 hits

This weekend, the stat counter registered 4,000 hits on my blog. Since I have been posting regularly for about a year now, that means that there are at least 10 visits a day to this blog. Now some of them are from my own visits but most are not. About 20% are from repeat visitors which shows that some of you find me, or my needlework interesting. As you can see from the map on the side, the visitors are from all over the world. I am flattered that you are willing to spend some of your time with me. Please leave a comment when you find something you like.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Finished knitting

I took pictures of my finished sari silk scarf and the mermaid's tail evening bag. I am going to embelish the bag with small brass bells that I took off an old shirt, they are sitting on the bag in the picture but are not attached.

I also finished my farrow rib scarf and made a hat to match. The hat is my own pattern. Both are made out of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino yarn in black but they look very different in the pictures.

My next project is going to be the elfin hat and scarf set from the Fall 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. The yarn is handspun that I bought at the Chicago Botanic Garden during the Fine Art of Fiber show last fall. The hat will be in the brown and the scarf in the boucle. I hope that I have enough of the brown for the whole hat and that the pattern stitch shows up in the boucle yarn. I will have lots of time today to find out since I am going to spend it at a karate tournament.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February Color Scheme Experiments

I have experimented with the February TIF color scheme and the results are shown here. I can't decide whether I like any of these well enough to stitch them or if I will stick with the colors from the original map. The green in the original ties in with the concept of agriculture more than the blues. I have been carrying the pictures around and thinking about them. Now you can offer your opinions as well.

I finished some knitting projects this week too but I don't have pictures yet. The Sari Silk mermaid's tail evening bag is complete. I also finished a farrow rib scarf that I started several years ago. I used a cashmere and wool yarn in black. I have two more balls of the yarn and am thinking about making a hat -- I need to work out a pattern for it because I want to have farrow rib for at least part of it.

I was able to finish the scarf because I spent 9 hours traveling from Chicago to Cleveland yesterday. Both airports closed last night due to snow and ice on the runways. I spent several hours knitting and watching the primary election commentary with a man from Munich, who was also on his way to Cleveland. He had a copy of Der Spiegel with Obama on the cover and told me that the Democratic candidates are getting a lot of news coverage in Europe. He was amused that I find parts of our primary system difficult to explain and amazed when I told him that Huckabee made Bush look like a moderate.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

February TIF Photoshop Experiments

I spent some time this morning playing with the land use image from 1975 in photoshop. Here is the original photo and here are some of my favorite results:

The yellow in this photograph shows the urban area in Maricopa County in 1975. The green is agricultural and the pink is recreation. I cropped the picture to select the southeastern portion of the county to include South Mountain, the urban areas of Tempe and Mesa and the agricultural areas that I remember from that time. Then I started modifying the image in Photoshop resulting in the three versions below. I used the color scheme form the photo without modification. I could make it bluer to match the color scheme in the challenge.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Random Thoughts

I have been thinking about my February TIF Design Challenge Piece. Even before this topic was suggested I have been looking at aerial photographs that show the changes in land use over time. These changes have accelerated over the last 50 years as urban areas expand and more land is turned over to commercial agriculture. I grew up in Tempe, Arizona, and I remember going to farmstands to buy produce grown in nearby fields and picking fruit in orchards and vineyards in Gilbert and Queen Creek. Now, the areas where I picked, and ate, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, and grapes as a child are full of adobe colored houses with desert landscaping. When I say I miss the orchards, my father points out that houses take a lot less water than agriculture and I am reminded that the fresh produce of my childhood was grown by mining water in the desert and crop dusting large areas of land. I found some land use maps on the internet that I want to use as the basis for my February TIF, unfortunately they are in a powerpoint format and I can't figure out how to upload them to my blog but you can see them here.

While thinking about TIF, I have been knitting with Sari Silk. I finished the scarf and have started making another Mermaid's Tail Evening Purse. A sample of the finished fabric is pictured. I don't like knitting with it that much and it doesn't look as cool knitted up as I thought it would when I bought it. I am thinking of donating both pieces to the auction at the Women's Spirit. I am sure that there is someone else that they are perfect for.
I did recieve the perfect gift today. My kit for the Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches Album from Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly came today with the gorgeous scrimshaw pieces. I ordered it at the end of last year. It is a great early birthday present. I am a fan of Lauren Sauer's designs. I have five of her floral designs stitched and hanging on my dining room wall and her Secret Garden needlecase is one of my favorite projects.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Pink Artist and a Lacrosse Cat

On Thursday, I made a 2 inch square beaded and embroidered piece for the The Pink Artist Community Art Doll Project. The title "Hopeful Heart" came to mind as I finished the piece pictured here using hand dyed fabric scraps, gumnuts silk threads, and beads from my stash of leftovers. I will be mailing it off to Alabama today.
The February challenge for the Take it Further Design Challenge is "What am I old enough to remember?" I have brainstormed a surprisingly long list of things that I am old enough to remember and am playing with some ideas for my challenge piece. There are a lot of things that I remember that we don't have any more -- tv sets with tubes, transistor radios, slide rules, rotary dial phones, library card catalogues with real cards, programming computers using punch cards and printing information off on tractor feed printers, etc. There are some things that we used to have that have come back -- I remember that we had a milk man who delivered milk, now you can have Peapod deliver your groceries and in some parts of this area Oberweiss will still deliver milk to your door. I also remember places when they were different -- when we used to go on vacations each town and city had different restuarants and stores -- now they are all the same and they look the same.
Last night, my son left his Lacrosse Goalie Stick out on the couch and our calico cat took it over. Doesn't she look like she is ready to play?