A blog about my interests, which include crazy quilting and various and assorted other artsy pursuits and sometimes known to contain mumblings of a random nature.

Monday, December 31, 2007

TA DAH! TAST Weeks 51 and 52

I know, two posts in one day - what is this world coming to? However - I finished the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge this afternoon and have to get it posted before the year changes!! Week 51 is the Chained Bar (shown at the top)....love this stitch! I used it here to couch down some ric rac and can see where it would be very useful couching down pretty much everything. Week 52 is the Spanish Feather Stitch - another one that is new to me but I like very much. It took me a few minutes to get onto it, but it's certainly one I will use again.

Extreme thanks go out to SharonB ( http://sharonb.wordpress.com) for all her hard work finding and photographing stitches for us to play with all year long. It must have been an incredible lot of effort for her and I want her to know how very much I appreciate all she does. I have learned so much since discovering her site and know that I will continue to do so. Thanks Sharon!

Happy 2008 to all!

I think I am finally rousing myself from the turkey/chocolate stupor of Christmas and actually feel somewhat like accomplishing something today! I have weeks 51 & 52 of TAST to do, so hope to get on that later today.

The past few days I have just vegged out with my nose either in a book (quite literally) or staring vacantly into space, eating the odd bon bon (because we all know they have expiry dates and have to be eaten up, up, up!). Actually have read three books in two days - two by James Patterson and 'For One More Day' by Mitch Albom. As I expected, 'Day' now resides in my top ten list of favourite books. Last night I started 'Bleachers' by John Grisham and expect to finish it sometime today.

January has always been a month of a combination of reading and cleaning for me. I guess I inherited the cleaning urge from my mother, because she always did what she called a 'T-10' (translated to mean THROW IT OUT) in January. There was never a spring or fall housecleaning when I was growing up, but watch out in January.! If you stood still for too long, you were liable to be out with the trash.

I've signed up for two new experiences in 2008 and am really looking forward to them. Arlee is running a round robin entitled 'Exquisite Corpse' which is sounding really fun. SharonB has another fibre challenge running for the year on her blog and, because I had so much fun with TAST I've signed on to do that too. I have plans to do a lot more crazy quilting in 2008 and a lot more in the creative-artsy line too. I hope to continue using up my stash and trying very hard not to buy everything new thing I see, because most of the time it just gets stored somewhere and never used.

As for New Years resolutions...nada. Don't believe in them, at least for me, because I know full well it won't last. The only wish I have for the new year is that all my friends have a happy, healthy and safe year. Thank you for all the lovely comments you've made on my blog over the past year - I treasure all of them and appreciate your interest.

Happy 2008 to you and yours!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Groan, Burp, Gasp...oh WHY?????

Why oh why does Christmas seem to entail eating far far too much? And why are we left with (horrors) leftovers that need to be eaten too? Why do things like Christmas stockings contain chocolate - crying out to be eaten? Why is there baking, baking, baking? It's all crying my name. Trouble is my size 16 jeans are crying too, despite the fact the label said they were 'stretch' jeans. Hah. They lie.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Christmas to all!

Christmas is rapidly approaching and I think my computer time will be severely limited, so this will be my last post until next week sometime.

Our festivities will be interesting this year. We start by collecting Son#2 on the night of the 21st. His girlfriend and her parents will be arriving on the 23rd. Her parents are from France and speak about as much English as we do French (none!). That should make things fun! Christmas day we will have my DH's brother and son, along with our friends, who originally come from Austria and England. We'll have a league of nations! Then we take Son#2 back on Dec 26th (Carole & her parents will leave then too) and trade him for Son#1- who has to work on Christmas day. We'll have him home until the 28th. His girlfriend will be spending Christmas with her father, so we'll be having another Christmas celebration with her sometime in January. Whew! Lots of festivities (AND food!!) for us.

I sincerely hope you and yours will have a blessed, happy and healthy Christmas. Stay safe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TAST - Weeks 49 and 50


Wow, it's hard to get my head around the fact that the TAST challenge is nearly over! Sharon posted the last two stitches already to finish off the year. But, but, but...I'm not ready for it to be over!!!!! I've had so much fun learning new stitches and playing with old friends and am quite proud that I actually stuck with it for the whole year.
The two stitches I'm showing here are the Pistol Stitch (week 49) on the top half of the sample, and Berry Stitch (week 50) on the bottom of the sample. These were both fun to work. I hope to complete the final two either tomorrow or between Christmas and Jan. 1.
A huge thank you to Sharon who is so generous to us all. She so willingly shares her stitching knowledge, which is quite extensive, believe me. http://sharonb.wordpress.com and if you're interested in checking out her challenge for 2008 http://sharonb.wordpress.com/take-it-further-challenge/

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas tree


Here's a couple of pictures of our Christmas tree. Clicking on it should bring it up larger so you can see more detail of some of the ornaments.
Yesterday we had a huge snow storm and people were certainly spending a lot of time digging out from under today. Jack spent the better part of the day gone with the snowblower trying to clear some driveways so people can get out. I sure hope we don't get another big storm anytime soon, because I really don't know where some people will put any more snow. We saw one car today that had been foolishly left on the street overnight and it's pretty much totally buried by the snowplow. That'll teach whoever it was to leave their car out in a big storm!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Presents and Slow Crafting




Today I have three pictures. I know, I'm getting carried away! However, I want to show you the gifts I've received in the past couple of days. One of my friends knitted me the pretty hanger cover. I've seen covers of course, but this is the first knitted one I've come across. Isn't it pretty?
The other two gifts are from another friend. The little pillow is pretty self-explanatory. The christmas tree object is actually a little sleigh which I've filled with antique VERY fragile ornaments which were from my mother-in-law. It is sitting in the centre of my dining room table and looks quite festive.
Slow Crafting - what's that you ask? Well, there's a discussion right now on SharonB's site (http://sharonb.wordpress.com ) about doing crafts slowly as opposed to the quickest means possible to get the end result. I thought I'd weigh in with my two cents on the subject here rather than taking up room in Sharon's comments. There is a decided difference of opinion concerning which is better/more artistic - the use of machines as opposed to doing everything by hand. I will focus on embroidery, since that is what I'm most familiar with. There are wonderful machines out there now where you basically can just push a button and turn out exquisite pieces with a minimal of fuss. Now before you machine people get upset with me, I do know there's more to it than that and it's just not as simple as pushing a button! I, however, am a lover of hand work as much as possible. That's just me and I can certainly appreciate the other viewpoint too.
I will admit that I use my plain ol' sewing machine for the actual piecing of crazy quilt blocks. I'm not THAT gung-ho with hand work that I would spend my time doing my piecing that way. However, when it comes to the embroidery, that's when I love working with my hands. I love being able to sit down and relax with my work. I like the quiet moments to be able to think, perhaps even meditate. I like the fact that it's portable. Not having to be tied to a machine means I can work pretty much anywhere. I like the slightly uneven look of handwork as opposed to the perfection that a machine provides. I like the history of it - my ancestors worked by hand and it's something that makes me feel a certain kinship with them.
I'm not really interested in being able to produce 'numbers' of projects, because I get much more pleasure from the process. Not that I have anything against finishing something! I love to make gifts for people and, to me, it means much more if the time (which is equal to love) goes into it. On the other hand, there are times when I need to do things assembly line in order to meet a deadline and therefore I must go for speed and the use of machines.
I'm the same way with knitting. I once had a knitting machine and gave up on it very quickly. I very much prefer the slower process of hand knitting (and I am an extremely SLOW knitter!). There are beautiful things being done on the machines and I am one of the first to admit it, but I still like the hand work. Just my opinion!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Knitting bag finished

I just finished this today and have it wrapped already. That's the last handmade gift for this year!! Hooray.

A footnote to yesterday's post - I was totally unaware that white Christmas cactuses (cacti?) were rare. Now I have another reason to appreciate it! Thanks for leaving a comment to let me know.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

That * * * * Plant!!


I don't remember if I told this story last Christmas, and if I did I'm sorry to repeat myself. However, I have enough new readers so I think its ok to present it again.
The top picture shows a white Christmas cactus in full bloom in my dining room and the second picture shows its baby. The 'story' behind this is that my mother hated (with a passion) white flowers - a fact that was well known by everybody. Jack (my DH) had established a tradition of getting her a plant of some nature for Christmas. One year he spied this white (horrors!!) cactus and just HAD to buy it for Mom. Of course she opened it on Christmas Day and through what were obviously gritted teeth, thanked him. She dutifully hung the plant in the living room window, quite hopeful it would expire sooner rather than later. Of course it didn't and bravely bloomed at least twice a year. Each time I would get the same phone call "You know that damn plant? It's blooming - again".
This went on for several years until finally Mom decided she had enough of it and flatly refused to water it. Yep - you guessed it "You know that damn plant? It's blooming - again". When Mom passed away it was the only plant I kept and it blooms faithfully for me too. Now it has babies that are blooming too! It will be known as That Damn Plant for evermore.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas decorations and Pillow



The pictures today are of the pillow I just finished making and of our creche which sits on top of our dining room cabinet. I bought the creche, piece by piece, from Avon when I was a rep and it's one of my most treasured Christmas things. Above you can see a picture of our boys when they were little and to the right you can just catch a glimpse of my antique light which was formerly a coal oil lamp.
Today I finished up the last of the handmade presents and got some more wrapping done. I had to clear off some of the mess from my worktable (!) so that I could get room to run the sewing machine. Don't worry...it'll be back being a huge mess again by this time tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Interesting purchase

When I was in our local fabric store yesterday I happened across this pattern and was intrigued by the 'purse' in the middle. I'm not interested in it as a purse, but wouldn't it be a perfect cradle for an art doll??

I got a few more parcels wrapped today but won't bother showing you a picture of that! I also have the knitted pillow pretty much done and hopefully will be able to show you the end result in the next couple of days.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Drowning!

Tell me, how on earth can a person be expected to accomplish anything in this mess? This is the view in only one area of my workroom too so you can just imagine what I'm living with!

I'm definitely going down for the last time.....

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ummmm.....

...does spending the day shopping for stocking stuffers, wrapping presents, and painting a picture frame count as a blog entry?

I thought not.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Letter 'K' - Yet More Knitting Content

Wow, two days in a row I'm talking about knitting!!

Today I'll visit the letter K, which leads me directly into knitting. It's not something I can say I'm good at (yet) but I'm getting better with practice. At least I've reached the point where if I make a mistake the chances are now 50/50 that I'll not have to rip it all out and start again!

Here's a number of good sites for free patterns which you might like to visit if you're not already familiar with them:

- www.knitomatic.com/freebies.html This is a Canadian site and lots of free patterns are available here

- http://oldmillknitting.com/retail.htm This site lists a large number of yarn shops, mainly in Canada with links to those that have web sites.

- http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/directory.php Lots and lots of free patterns available through this site!

- www.charitablecrafters.org/knitting.htm Again, all sorts of free patterns.

- www.LionBrand.com A wonderful resource with tons of free patterns and really good knitting instructions

- also, if you Google search a particular brand of yarn, the chances are quite good that they have a site and more than likely have free patterns using their yarns

Knitting blogs:
- http://masondixonknitting.com This blog is written by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shaye who are the authors of Mason Dixon Knitting

- http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com This one is written by a male knitter, with a sense of humour

- www.yarnharlot.ca The infamous Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, hilarious author of At Knit's End; Yarn Harlot - The Secret Life of a Knitter; Knitting Rules!; and Stephanie-Pearl McPhee Casts Off. I believe she has a new book due out in the spring with another to follow next fall and, quite possibly, a calendar too.

AND - ANOTHER K, but not knitting related is http://kittyandmedesigns.blogspot.com Pam is a prolific embroiderer and does the most beautiful things. Well worth checking her out on a daily basis!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Knitting content? This blog has knitting content?

Who knew? Actually I *have* been knitting, but it's things that I can't show here at the moment. This I can show. It's the Bespoke Pillow from the Holiday 2007 issue of Interweave Knits - Holiday Gifts magazine. Unfortunately the colour of the wool isn't coming through properly in the picture, but it's a soft olive-y green which will go with their decor. I'm about half done.

For those of you who don't have the magazine, the top and bottom of the pillow are done in seed stitch, with St st in the middle - which in turn gets duplicate stitched with his initials. This is for a friend who just got his first lazy boy chair which is crying out for a special pillow.

Monday, December 03, 2007

TAST - Weeks 47 and 48 and 'J'

Here are my efforts for weeks 47 and 48 for the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge. Week 47 was the thorn stitch, which is quite fun to do. I can certainly see the use of this stitch to make trees, but I also love it for couching because it adds a bit more texture to whatever you are couching on. Like this stitch!

Week 48 is the Knotted Cable Chain stitch, also new to me. It took a bit of work for me to get into the rhythm of the stitch but once I did, I liked it. Both of these stitches are ones I will do again, with pleasure.

Today I will also visit the letter 'J'. I thought long and hard about what I could talk about that involved that letter and realized the bestest thing is Jack - my husband of 27 years. What can I say, other than he's the most wonderful present I ever got. We actually met around Christmastime about 29 years ago - his sister introduced us. It didn't take me long to realize he was 'the one', but he resisted mightily. He's fourteen years older than I so he had this problem with believing he was too old for me. It took some doing to convince him otherwise!! He treats me like a queen. He cooks, he cleans - what more could I ask for!

Further on the letter 'J' - how about the jobs I've held over the years?
- I began when I was 14 with volunteering at the little local library, doing typing, filing and such. Had to ride my bike about 5 miles to get to the library, so I must have been dedicated.
- in high school I worked for the head of the commercial department doing typing, which led to a few short-term placements throughout grade 12 at various businesses. I actually spent about as much time out of school as I did in.
- I graduated at 16 and immediately got a job as a secretary at a new high school which was opening that September. I worked half days as the person who did most of the printing/duplicating for the school and the other half days as the secretary in the library. It was quite stressful because they really needed a full-time person doing the printing and I ended up working most of my lunch hours and staying late to keep caught up. The day they told me they were planning to add doing the secretarial work for the guidance office was the day I quit. Funny thing, they had to hire two people to do what I was doing before I left!
- from there I worked as a secretary for an insurance adjuster, which was a job I loved. Unfortunately the work load slackened and it came down to the boss keeping his wife on or me. You can guess which one he had to let go.
- then began my work in the CIBC (which was known as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce then). First I worked in a tiny little branch in my hometown and then transferred to a much larger branch in the city. That was just about the time that Jack and I were beginning to date and decided to get married. So...I transferred back to the town I live in now and worked there for four and a half years putting all my earnings into our first house. Once the mortgage was paid off, I quit in order to raise our sons.
- once the boys were in school full time I took over an established route with Avon and did that for about eight years building my business up to over a hundred customers. It was exhausting doing all the running and it seemed I spent most of my life in the car. Once the boys left home, I quit and have been enjoying staying home ever since.

There, that probably constitutes too much information about me!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Random-ness (maybe even some mumbling)

Sorry folks, no picture today. However you might be interested to know that I've started on the last handmade Christmas present today. Pictures will follow.

SharonB has announced the challenge for 2008 and the information can be found here: http://sharonb.wordpress.com/take-it-further-challenge/ I won't go into detail here, but if you're interested check out the link and you can read more. I think my personal challenge will be to create a crazy-quilted block of the month and use the wonderful cigarette silks my friend Jan gave me. Maybe 8" squares so they might be do-able in a month. I'll have to give this some more thought before I fully decide.

Lisa Vollrath is doing her Christmas countdown of images on her site at http://countdown.tentwostudios.com starting December 1st and running for the entire month. She is very generous and I think you can count on some pretty cool freebies from her.

Have you ever wondered if you are right or left brained? Can't say as I've stayed up nights thinking about it or anything, but here's a little test you can do... http://tinyurl.com/2zp5rk

Listened to a pod-cast interview of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) today and it seems she will have a new book out in the spring, with another to follow in the fall. There's also talk of a page-a-day calendar in the works. Her blog is at www.yarnharlot.ca

And a reminder that http://sewmamasew.com/blog has some interesting links to quickie gift ideas which has been going on all of November.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

All about "I"

Today, because I haven't been home long enough to actually accomplish anything, will be about "I" - and before you think my grammer ain't no good, I'm talking about the letter I.

I will tell you all about the things I like (some of which you might know, some of which you might not).

-Chocolate. Dark, decadent, succulent, top of the food groups, chocolate.
-Books. Craft books, novels, how to's, organizational books, self help books, biographies, even the back of cereal boxes.
- Satsuma bubble bath from The Body Shoppe. Oh to just inhale the scent direct from the bottle. Totally sublime.
- Scalloped potatoes. Actually pretty much any kind of potato is good but I particularly love scalloped. One of the ten best comfort foods (almost as good as chocolate).
- Purple, and blue, and burgundy. Red too. I'm a 'winter' so that probably explains why I really like those colours.
- Dogs and cats, as long as they're kept under control and not running loose
- carnations and orchids. Single old-fashioned roses too.
- The library, because it has such a wonderful selection of books (see above)
- People, because they are so diverse and many of them are so very interesting
- my town and my country. I would not want to live anywhere else in the world.

I'm sure there is a lot more, but that's all I can come up with for now.

On another note, thanks Arlee for the suggestion in the comments yesterday that I consider making bags for the homeless shelter in order to use up my denim. Great idea!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Latest bag

Here's another Christmas present I just finished up. I've been trying very hard to use up my stash of recycled denim and, even after making about fourteen of these bags, I can't see that I've even made so much as a dent in it. These are really easy to make, which is what I look for at this time of year. The originial pattern came from the book 'Jazzy Jeans' by Mickey Baskett, but you could use any tote bag pattern. The 'bits' of denim are sewn on in the sew-n-flip method you use for crazy quilting. I top-stitch using a yellow denim thread and add recycled pockets. This one has buttons from my collections added for some bling. A cheap, and cheerful, bag which can serve many uses.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A washcloth....

Another Christmas present is done! This is a crocheted washcloth of my own design and will be paired with a bar of nice soap and included in a Christmas stocking for my future d-i-l's Mom, who (along with her Dad) will be here from France this year. It's going to be fun because they don't speak English and we don't speak French! I'm looking forward to meeting them and I know everything will work out just fine, despite the language barrier.
The washcloth is made from Bernat Handicrafter Cotton yarn in an oatmeal colour. I'm hoping to find some oatmeal soap. Tied up with a pretty ribbon, it will make a nice gift.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ornaments!

Today we did the Christmas decorating/sorting. The back of the car is full of several boxes of decorations that are heading for the thrift store tomorrow. We have altogether too much 'stuff' so downsizing is a good thing!

I promised a picture of some of the ornaments I've given over the years. Here are some of them (there's more, but I didn't want to totally bore you!). One of them is from my 'ceramics' phase (the santa at the bottom of the picture). The round ball and the pine cone were another phase I went through (thankfully I got over that one). The three little wooden snowmen were mini-swags I made one year. The santa to the right of the swag is made from paper using an image from Dover Publications. If I remember rightly I printed him off on the computer, antiqued him, stuffed him lightly and stitched around the outside.

The final picture shows three cross-stitched santas (which I think was originally a kit, but can't remember for sure). The santa with the rabbit in the basket was one of the hand painted on wood ones which were just too time-consuming for words. Finally the felt snowman, which is pretty self-explanatory from the picture.





Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In which Magpie shall mumble...again

Sorry folks, I spent the day installing peel & stick liners in my s-i-l's cupboard at her newly-acquired house and so nothing creative got done (other than the ruination of my already sore knees, but we won't go there).

So....guess what? I shall mumble!

I just finished catching up on SharonB's site (http://sharonb.wordpress.com) and have discovered a few interesting topics, which I will pass along. Firstly, she has pointed us to a rather fun blog about to-do lists (we all have them, right?). Anyway, check out http://www.todolistblog.com for some fun reading.


Sharon has had some very interesting discussion about blogs themselves lately and her most recent post concerns comments and why people do/don't use them. I found her unofficial survey results to be very interesting and think you might too. Check out her site (listed above) and scroll down for the Nov. 21 entry titled "Response to Comments".


She has also been discussing what sort of challenge will replace our Take A Stitch Tuesdays we've been doing all year. If you're interested in voting on what we might be doing, scroll down further on her site to the post titled 'Take A Stitch Tuesday - Week 47".


Another site I've stumbled on is at http://sewmamasew.com/blog where you can find all sorts of patterns for all sorts of areas of crafting...a different 'topic' each day this month.


I guess winter must be here because when we came home late this afternoon it was attempting to sleet. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. The weather report is calling for some heavy snow tonight so I would just like to curl up with a good book and stay in. However, that's not to be because we are headed out again tonight. Sigh. I wish I was a bear and could just hibernate and sleep through the entire thing. Zzzzzzz.....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Birds of a feather!

In this case, they are flocking together. To answer Arlee's question in the comments - they will all be pretty much the same because they are going to different people. Every year I do a limited edition of ornaments (pity the poor people who have known me for lots of years...I have a personal connection with their trees!). Once we get our tree out for this year, I'll try to remember to take a picture so you can see some of the ones I've made over the years. I'd hate to hazard a guess as to how many years I've been doing them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The birds!!




Yep, I have a whole flock of birds in my workroom, soon to be turned into Christmas ornaments. This year I'm doing something pretty simple and will show the idea I've come up with in a day or so.
The other picture is of a journal book I covered with some very rich looking velvet which I will be giving as a gratitude journal to a friend who needs it. The picture isn't very clear so you can't really see the pretty pattern in the velvet. Hopefully she will like it!

Friday, November 16, 2007

And another one bites the dust!


Another Christmas present, that is. I really don't know how one takes a decent picture of an apron without having someone to model it. Jack would be very unwilling (at least when it's this lacy!). The material is a slightly off-white eyelet edged with some lace I had in my stash. Pattern is McCall's M5551. It's for someone who appreciates girly things and I know she will like this.
I even (wonder of wonders) managed to figure out how to make a buttonhole with my Janome! That's a first and I've only had the machine for at least four years. I'm quite impressed with myself that I actually did it. Only goes to prove that I don't sew anything with buttonholes -ever!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

And the stockings were hung....


...by the chimney with care. Today I've made a couple of Christmas stockings. It's a horrible dark picture (but couldn't get it any better). You'll have to imagine the main part of the stocking is green velvet with Christmas-y poinsetta fabric at the top, trimmed with gold ribbon. B.aaa.d picture, but you can get the idea! #2 son's fiance will be bringing her parents here for Christmas this year so I needed to whip up a couple of stockings real quick. They are from France and they don't speak English, nor do we speak French!! Should make it interesting, but I'm not the least bit worried. Body language works, and Carole will be here to translate if we need it.
You can also see in the pic a corner of a book (the pink-ish blob in the upper right) which I bought today to cover for a gratitude journal for a friend who really needs to discover some gratitude in her life. Maybe writing things down will help her to see that things just aren't as bad as she thinks. One can only hope!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

TAST - Weeks 45 & 46




Here are my efforts at weeks 45 and 46 of the TAST challenge.
Week 45 is the Pekinese Stitch, which I loved playing with. I had done the simple stitch (shown on the top of the picture) but had never gone further than that. I'm quite in like with the braided look when I did more than one row.
Then, I attempted week 46 - the Chain Braid stitch. Sharon said it was difficult and she is absolutely right. The best of my several efforts is pictured here and it's NOT what it should look like. This stitch will not be taking up residence in my permanent repertoire, altho, to be fair, I could see it's use in something where I wanted a totally messy look. Sharon asked at the end of her post that we not curse her too much and I didn't. However, there were a few words uttered aimed at the stitch! For those of you wanting to see how it should be done, check out http://sharonb.wordpress.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Letter 'H'


H is for HELP, which is what I need right now. Chain Braid Stitch for the TAST challenge is getting the better of me and I'm going down for the last time....picture to follow tomorrow ( I hope).



H is for house and here's the picture of the front of ours. The two blobs in the front of it are NO (ahem) relation!!

H is for helmet liners. And why, you ask, would I be interested in helmet liners? One of the mailing lists I belong to (knitting content) was talking about the need for warm knitted liners for the soldiers to wear under their helmets. It gets very cold and they need the small comfort of something they can wear underneath. I'm sure the comfort also comes from the thought that someone cared enough to make them something. Right now I'm trying to find a place in Canada that gets them to where they're needed. I know I can send them to the US, but I think our soldiers must need them too. If you're interested in the pattern and in finding out more check out: http://www.geocities.com/helmetliner/

H is for Huh! What's with this weather we're having right now? It's NOVEMBER for cryin out loud. It's CANADA. We're supposed to be cold. We're supposed to have snow by now. These double-digit temps are just not right. I'm not a fan of winter, but even I know that this isn't healthy. Global warming...bah!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Gee!


Today I will visit the letter 'G'. The picture is of our dog Gypsy (more commonly known as Gyppy). She's a combination of llasa apso and shih tzu, but is mostly bark and wiggles. This isn't a particularly wonderful picture of her but, of course, my camera needs to be recharged so I had to resort to scanning an older picture of her.
G is for geocities, where I *think* I still have a website my #2 son started for me a couple of years ago. I never go there, but I do know there's a picture of me on there if you're really, really curious about what I look like (gag, choke!). http://www.geocities.com/marmic1954/index.html Oh!...gag is a G word!!
G is for 'great', which is what my husband is. He's busily tearing off wallpaper border in one of the guest bedrooms and getting ready to paint it. Of course the border is being stubborn and refusing to come off without a great deal of effort on his part. I, on the other hand, am spending my time happily working on Christmas presents and feeling guilty for not helping him (another g word is guilt!). The room is going to be a huge undertaking because right now it's painted a very dark navy blue and will require who knows how many coats of primer/paint to get it covered. He offered to do it and who am I to be stupid enough to say no? However, I do freely admit that he's great (and he cooks too!!).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Oh Futz! That's an F word, right?


For lack of anything more exciting to talk about today, I shall visit the letter 'F'.
F is for Futz. Yep, that's a good word. It's the only printable one I can use to describe my knitting abilities at the moment. 210 stitches, on circular needles x 4 pattern rows + a twist= Futz. Or more aptly described: Futzed Up. Argh!
F is for Floozie. Those who have followed this blog for awhile have already met 'Doll E, the fairy floozie', but I decided to show her again in honour of today being an F day. If you enlarge the picture you can probably see why she earned her name!
F is for Friends, both internet and in person. Where would we be without them? I really treasure the ones I have and really can't imagine my life without them.
On another subject, I've been reading 'Ripe Living After 50' by Susan Swartz and discovered something in there I really liked and thought I would share:
"They used to say that women over thirty-five shouldn't wear their hair long. They used to say women over forty-five shouldn't show their bare arms. They used to say all women over fifty better dye their hair and lie about their age. They used to say after baby-making women had nothing more to contribute. They used to say that menopausal women couldn't be world leaders. THEY didn't know we'd stopped listening."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The best laid plans...

....are bound to run amuck! Can someone please explain to me how one person can manage to ignore the fact that there's a 'certain' day in December and that it's bound to happen every year and that there's certain things needing to be done for said day and that leaving said certain things because 'there's plenty of time' is not exactly the least stressful thing to do?


Can someone explain to me how one person could manage to get herself bogged down in knitting projects when that person had been heard to say in no uncertain terms that she would NEVER have more than one project on the needles? And why would that person think (in her wildest fantasies) that she could possibly knit all these projects up in time for Christmas when she knits the speed of a turtle? No, don't bother telling me that the tortoise won the race!


Can that same someone come up with any ideas as to why that same one person could manage to futz so much time on a ridiculous box that has no bearing on anything needing to be done in the near future. Better yet, can someone suggest anything to remove too much gold leafing from said box?


Any someones out there want to come and help that one person knit??

Monday, November 05, 2007

Of snakes, and suppers, and kids

How do you like this? Our oldest son & his fiance had us come for supper last night so we could meet his new pet. Isn't she cool? Before you ask, yes this is my hand holding her! Right now her name is Rosie, but that's soon to change to a name which is befitting her. She's a type of boa, but I can't remember what exactly. She won't get much bigger than she is here because she's two years old already.

We had the greatest supper too (it pays to have a son who's a good chef!). Rack of lamb, fingerling potatoes, a wonderful leek soup, mushrooms in sauce, a homemade mint sauce, and a purely decadent chocolate banana crepe for dessert. Yum!! It was even nicer because #2 son was there too, so we got to see them both. All in all, a great evening!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

TAST - Weeks 43 & 44


Here's my Weeks 43 and 44 of the Take A Stitch Tuesdays challenge by Sharon of http://sharonb.wordpress.com.
On the left is my effort at week 43's Drizzle Stitch. This one was a lot of fun and yet another stitch I hadn't tried. I found that it worked better in a hoop, at least for me. I don't normally use a hoop but think it works better this way.
On the right is week 44's ZigZag Spanish Knotted Stitch. This one was also a lot of fun, once I got the rhythm going. I love it and would carry it through with some flowers or beads in the centres. Thanks again Sharon!
I have stumbled across another interesting web site if you are interested in doll making: http://www.ejtaylor.com Thanks to Lisa Vollrath of Ten Two Studios for telling us about this one. Check it out!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The letter E

EEEK! Hope everyone had a fun halloween!


Sorry to say, there are no pictures today because the box pretty much looks the same in a picture as it did yesterday. I've dry-brushed it with purple and am now ready for the gold leaf which I hope to get done tomorrow.


So...we will visit the letter E today:

1. 'E'mbroidery! My absolute favourite. My library sports lots of books on the subject, a few of which I will list here.....two books by Judith Baker Montano - 'Elegant Stitches' and 'Floral Stitches'; 'Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches' by Carole Samples; 'Quilt Savvy - Embroidery Stitches' by Joan Waldman; 'Stumpwork Embroidery' by Jane Nicholas; and 'Embroidery Illusions' by Gary Clarke. I love them all! And, of course, I can't discuss embroidery without re-mentioning the wonderful Sharon Boggins and her site http://sharonb.wordpress.com/ She has what has to be THE most thorough how-to's on stitching on the internet (or anywhere, for that matter). Another free source for some interesting embroidery (leaning toward crazy quilting) is the on-line magazine at http://cqmagonline.com/


2. Further on embroidery (notice my obsession?) - I collect patterns and stitches (and combinations) and have quite an extensive file. Someday I might even be able to use a small portion of it (should I live that long!).


3. 'E' is for empty, which is what my head is at the moment. Surely there must be other 'e' words, but for the life of me I can't come up with any. I may have to re-visit the letter later on!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween, Black Blobs, and Progress (maybe?)




First, thank you so very much to everyone who left a comment to help me decide where to go next with my box top. I really, really appreciate all the suggestions! As you can see with this picture, I've removed the faces (which I was really happy to do, even though I wasn't aware of it) and I've added some 'fluffies' on the buttons at the bottom. Now I'm waiting for the box proper to be done (pictured here as a black blob, but it's getting there) before I do any more to the top.
I think I will dry-brush the box with purple and then play around with some gold leaf I have unearthed from my stash, which in turn will maybe lead me to put some gold fibres on the top??!!
Happy halloween everyone. This is a rushed post or I would have some sort of halloween-y picture for you. We are headed out for the evening (supper, movie AND a trip to Michaels). We'd love to shell out to the little ghoulies, but we don't get that many on our street and the dogs go absolutely berserk, which in turn scares the kids - big time. It's not worth the angst so I get to go to Michaels instead. Works for me!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And yes, I DO know how to use paragaphs!!! Confound Blogger anyway.

Box Progress, Plant, and 'D'




Here you go Arlee...a picture of the base and leaves of the mystery plant. Yes, it has a light smell and it appears the stem (at least at the bottom) is quite woody. It's very tall and gangly too. Our elderly neighbour keeps giving us plants for both in and outside and has no clue as to what they are and nor do we, obviously!
I *think* I'm finished with the box top now, unless I decide to add more to it. Unfortunately the camera doesn't quite pick up how sparkly it is in real life. Don't forget you can click on it to enlarge it.
'D' today -
1. I hate to use the word 'disappointment' but it seems to be what I'm feeling at this moment about the box top. I set out to work outside my comfort level and, to a degree, I've done that. However, I wanted to go a whole lot further beyond what I normally do and something seems to stop me. I keep coming back to perfectionism and downright fear that people won't like it. (This is not a plea for nice comments either - I'd much rather you give me suggestions on what I should do with it now!). Don't get me wrong - I like it now, but really wanted it to be more 'out there' and can't seem to get to that point.
2. http://denofchaos.blogspot.com is another of my favourites. There's a little knitting and the author's very, very funny outlook on life with kids and doing renovations.
3. http://doreeng.blogspot.com is another place I like to go. Doreen and I have struck up a cyber-friendship of sorts and 'found' each other through our common interest in TAST and just stitching in general.
OK folks. Over to you. Any suggestions of what to do with my box top or should I leave it alone? Please comment with your opinion!

Monday, October 29, 2007

"C"onscience!! That's a C word.






Yep, CONSCIENCE. That's what I'm suffering from at the moment. Everybody knows there's a 'date' coming in December when things need to be completed by. I know this. It happens every single year. So why on earth am I spending my time working on a box that has absolutely nothing to do with the deadline staring me in the face? And why am I enjoying it so much, despite that pesky little voice in my head telling me I'm sure to regret this waste of time - big time. Picture of progress is included.
Further on 'C' for today:
- 'Cosmo' my 'cat' (second picture) who is the 'cause' of a lot of laughter and angst in this household. He was quite aptly named after the character of Cosmo Kramer in Seinfeld. Remember how Kramer always skidded into the room, making a dramatic entrance? Well, our Cosmo is exactly the same. He's also the cause of things going awol, amuck, and general mayhem in my workroom!
- http://cuteoverload.com/ I know I've mentioned this one before too, but it's worth a look if you like animals.
- http://crazyauntpurl.com/ is a knitting blog I enjoy. She has a wonderful sense of humour which is something I look for.
- "c" is also for Patti Medaris Culea who is a doll designer I particularly like. Check out http://www.pmcdesigns.com/ She produces patterns and has written some pretty inspirational books on the subject
- and 'c' is for http://www.comfortqueen.com/ if you are searching for 'self' and looking for an interesting author on the subject.
Lastly, anybody happen to know what this plant is? It is extremely tall and gangly (hence the reason I've buried the flower into my lemon tree to hold it up). It reminds me of a geranium of sorts in the flower, but the leaves are long and skinny. Got any ideas Arlee?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Box progress and 'B'

This is the base for the box top. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I expect it will tell me as I go along. In the meantime I have a lot of little seams to stitch down on this before I can go on.


Yesterday I got my 'invitation' to join Ravelry, which I am given to understand is THE invitation of the year. I hopped on over there, and have to admit that I am disappointed. All the hype led me to expect marvels and so far I have yet to find any. Sure, there are free patterns, but there are far more on the Lion Brand website. I'm not a huge lover of forums, so can't really see much value in those - at least for me. I will continue to check it out and may have to revise my opinion, but for now, I'm not blown away. OK, world, go ahead and shoot me!

Today, I will visit the letter 'B'....

1. Books!! Of course. What else would I put at the top of my list? I have a love/hate relationship with them; I love reading them and looking at them, and hate the fact that there is never enough time to read all of them that are out there. I have a insatiable curiosity I guess!

2. An author I particularly like is David Baldacci (note the 'B' in his name). He writes really good mysteries and I have yet to read one that doesn't keep me guessing. Some of my other favourites include Mitch Albom (who wrote 'The Five People You Meet In Heaven' and 'Tuesdays With Morrie' - two books that top my all-time top 10 of books I've ever read); James Patterson; Stuart Woods; Nora Roberts; Kathy Reichs; JRR Tolkein; James Clavell; Jean Auel; and many, many more. I could go on listing names forever, but I will spare you that.

3. http://www.bookcrossing.com/ I know I've mentioned this site before but it deserves another mention. This site promotes literacy in a fun way. The premise is that once you've read a book you register it with the site and then 'release it into the wild' (ie. leave it in a public place). Inside the book you must write a tracking number, which is assigned by the site. The finder of the book (hopefully) will read it, report to the site, and then re-release it for someone else to enjoy. Some books have been totally around the world, which I find amazing. What a fun way to encourage reading - and it's free too!

4. http://sharonb.wordpress.com/ I know that I keep telling you about this blog, but it's one you really need to visit if you are the least bit interested in the world of needlearts. Sharon B is one of the most knowledgeable people about the subject and very generously shares what she knows.

5. http://beadjournalproject.blogspot.com/ Again, I know I've mentioned this one before too. If you are interested in beading, check it out for a year-long project involving beaded journaling.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brown Paper Packages NOT (quite) tied up in String




Today I will begin the 'A-Z' Series, which I think will be fun and will also keep me busy to think of items to include for each letter of the alphabet. So, here goes with the letter 'A'....
- pretty obviously I should start with the A-Z book series, which I have to admit I love. So far I own the Embroidery one I've pictured here, along with 'A-Z of Ribbon Embroidery', 'A-Z of Embroidered Flowers', and 'A-Z of Bullions' - any and all of which I would recommend highly. They each have very good instructions and lots and lots of coloured pictures, which we all like!
- 'A' is also for one of my favourite blogs: http://arleebarr.squarespace.com/designjournal Albedo Designs (ie Arlee) is a great artist and my biggest inspiration to move on toward being an artist as opposed to a 'crafter'. Actually, yesterday she wrote a very insightful post about that very topic.
- 'A' is for another of my favourites: http://alliesinstitches.blogspot.com Allison Aller is another of my inspirations. She does the most wonderful things with flowers and embroidery that I've ever seen.
-'A' is also for another site: http://artsymama.blogspot.com This blog (whose name escapes me at the moment...did you know "a" is also for Alzheimers??) makes you really think about the 'junque' you find at flea markets and making art out of those finds.
Now, on to the picture for today. I'm doing another step towards redoing my box. I'm sure you are very interested to witness what crumpled up brown paper looks like whilst drying on my laundry room floor! Stay tuned for what I do with it....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Notes & Mumbles

Because I haven't done a thing on my box today (or anything else, for that matter), I will do a short mumble.....


1. I will be starting a 'series' of posts on my blog concerning the 'A-Z of Me' for those days when I have nothing in particular of interest to natter on about. The idea came to me from the following blog site: http://belladia.typepad.com/ Be sure to check her out, because she makes some pretty cool things! She has very nicely given me permission to use her idea on my blog too. Thank you Cassi!

2. Another site of interest: http://www.bloomingthreads.info/embroidery.htm

3. I can't remember if I mentioned this site before, however... http://philinthecircle.com/art.html His art is out of this world!

4. Anyone interested in the current scumbling craze, check out http://www.crochet.nu/scjwc/workshops/index.html

5. http://birdloversonly.blogspot.com/2007/09/may-i-have-this-dance.html for something funny

6. Went to a new dentist today. Never had a more thorough cleaning of my teeth in my life..and they're still not done! I couldn't believe it. Of course now that we have to pay for it (and not get it 'free' through a medical plan) might be making a difference. Certainly has eaten a rather largish hole in our meagre coffers and more to come, but at least not until after Christmas. I guess I should be happy about that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'The' Box - at the yucky stage




The first picture shows the box once I got the innards pretty much removed. The brown blobs you see are from the glue they used and, believe me, it's pretty gross. The next step was for DH to take it apart for me to make it easier to work on.
The second picture shows the addition of a coat of gesso, which I've come to a screeching halt with because I've run out. The box is very 'thirsty' and is gobbling it up, big time. Now I wonder - where do I get some more in this town?! After all, I'm on a creative spurt here and don't want to stop!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The last rose of summer?



































I think these are actually the last roses of summer 2007. It's hard to believe they are actually still blooming so bravely. I guess they chose now to bloom because they are surrounded by beautiful icelandic poppies most of the summer and can't reach above the crowd. Aren't they pretty?




And, the other picture is a 'before' of a project I'm planning to work on. This banged up old jewellry box was a 'found' item in my bil's house after he died. I assume it must have originally belonged to my MIL, but not sure. At any rate, I'm overhauling it, hopefully making into something a bit funky and useful for storing stuff. Don't know what I'm doing with it yet, but hopefully inspiration will strike when I start tearing it apart.
I'm sorry, I know Blogger doesn't post the pictures the way I want them to, so these are probably out of order!