Monday, December 1, 2008

I Love a Good Book...

Once in a great while a book comes along that hours, days, even weeks after reading it, you just can't stop thinking about it. The characters become a part of you that you can't close your heart on when you close the back cover; the unanswered questions burn holes in your brain , and real life becomes an annoyance until the story clarifies itself to you in some way.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is such a book. If you have read this book, please, let's talk.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's Veteran's Day

So I would like to pay tribute to my favorite Veterans! My mom, who served in the Army during the Korean War:And my Dad who also served in the Army at the same time:
And my husband, who served as a fire fighter in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

My brother David served in the Marines after he finished school, but I didn't have a picture handy to post, and the scanner is not hooked up right now. I am proud of you all!

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Morning Constitutional

The frost is on the pumpkin here in Maine, or should I say on the Queen Anne's Lace. I have taken up morning walks and am enjoying the beauty of nature changing into her autumn clothing like never before.
The trees are alive with color. I walk by this lovely young maple daily and can't help but give her the onceover, she is just so pretty in her red dress...The milkweed pods have dried and opened to release their angel winged seeds...

and the thistles have dried into myriad prickly sprigs.

I walk across a small bridge and see this babbling brook every day. Some days the water is high, some days it is low.
On Saturday mornings Kaylee is with us, so we put her in a stroller, wrapped her in my shawl to keep her warm and headed for the open road...

We walked her up a big hill to see the local dairy farm. I am proud I was able to push her up the hill!
As we come down the hill we can see the cow barn and a beautifully colored woods in the background. Kaylee waved to the cows.

She especially liked this one sitting near the road and chewing her cud.

Then we took her to see the horse who lives across the street from the cows. She was all excited when Grampie took her to see the horse up close, but when the horse got a little to close for comfort she started to cry...

I have been walking nearly every day, or at least 10 days out of every 11 ever since my birthday last month. Two days ago Gary, Harley (dog) and I walked down a country lane to find a flock of wild turkeys grazing in a field. I loved seeing them so close. Today we walked 3 miles together. I hate the thought of winter coming and putting an end to our colorful fun, why can't it stay fall forever?

Back on the home front, we have finally gotten the gas fireplace to finish off the living room renovation. I cannot tell you how much I love this thing. We have a remote control to turn it on or off, and the amount of heat it throws off is amazing. Just the thing to warm those tired toes, which, by the way, are wearing the completed silk birthday socks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Catching Up With My Knitting...

I thought I would catch you all up with my knitting. I am participating in the Sock Knitters Anonymous Mystery Sock for September challenge, which must be knitted in the color orange. Since I didn't have any orange sock yarn on hand, I dyed a skein of 70% merino/30% silk sock yarn into this lovely "Cheetos" shade of orange. Here it is drying -
I really love how it came out! Once it was dry I balled it up and started the mystery sock pattern. Here it is after the first day of knitting:
And here it is after finishing the first clue:

I am now working on the second clue, where the "zig" starts to "zag".
I had previously started the Druid Mittens from the cover of the Fall Vogue Knitting magazine. I was using my hand-dyed and handspun red and black yarn. This one:

And here is the mitten in progress:

I loved working with the yarn and loved the pattern, but my yarn was way over half gone before finishing the first mitten *sob* so I unraveled it. Who wants one mitten? I really need to learn to dye more roving at a time, and I am really working on this. I am hoping eventually to spin enough of one color to knit a pair of socks.

I have finished another challenge from my list of 5 top UFO's to finish, inspired by my friend Cindy. Here is number 2 crossed off the list, the Icelandic Lace Shawl I knit from all neutral shades of 100% wool. It was a monster to knit, boring with a CAPITAL B! By the end of it I was just working incessantly to finish the darn thing off. I don't recommend this pattern unless you can knit while you sleep. Give me charted lace any day! Which reminds me, I have signed up again this year for the Halloween Mystery Shawl designed by Goddess Knits, the one I made last year is my favorite shawl ever! Here is my Icelandic Shawl blocking on my design wall:
One more project off the needles since my last blog post is my Zombie Socks. This was a really enjoyable pattern. I felt so naughty every time I purposely dropped a stitch! The yarn used was my first hand-dyed sock yarn ever. This one:
You know, the one where I wanted to use ALL of my colors? Well it knit up just beautifully as a pair of Zombies:
And, of course, THE EXTREME CLOSE UP:

Now it is time to start concentrating on some Christmas projects, I don't know how many I will be able to share this year since some of the family now reads my blog. We shall see, until next time...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Presenting My New Living Room!

The living room is finally functional! Furniture as been moved into it and the TV is mounted! We have purchased a new entertainment unit, bookcase, lamps and ceiling light. We still have a few things left that we would like to do to finalize it but there is no hurry. My purse can use the break!
As it turns out, the paint we put on the walls is nearly impossible to photograph. The color I chose (sumptuous silk) is a faux technique which employs 2 layers of paint, the topcoat being a metallic glaze. In most pictures it looks too coral, a few it looks too pink, and in a couple it even looks fuchsia. It is not. It is a rich dusty rose color and I love it.

I love the way the fireplace looks now. I am so glad I convinced Gary to paint over the dirty old sooty bricks. He scrubbed it first to try to clean it up, but it still looked like this:
Yuck! Not very pretty at all. But just look at it now! I always wanted a mantle for the fireplace so I could put a vase of flowers on it, and now I can! We have loaded it with pictures of the grandchildren for now.

Isn't that an astonishing before and after? Since the family portrait needs to be re-framed to fit our new decor, I have hung my grandmother's mirror over the fireplace for now. I really love it there, it just may stay!

And here are the flowers for the mantle! The wall color is pretty true in this picture. See that crown moulding? I painted every single one of those roses all the way around the room! No kidding! Want proof? Here you go!I used the wall color for the roses, and the ceiling color for the leaves, so it matches beautifully! I listened to a whole book on my iPod while painting those roses, and it was a long one, too! (It was The Potato Factory, by Bryce Courtenay, 23 hours and 22 minutes!)

The floor was a major pain in the you know where. This is what was beneath the carpet we installed in the early 80's, old pine board painted green in some spots and pink in others! (Should have left it, it matched the room...)

When Gary sat down to put the new cherry Pergo floor on, it was a crooked nightmare. He bought layers of (what's the word? luan?) wood and some floor leveler you kind of "dump" on, it was awful. He really stresses about things being level. Here he is working at it... you can tell he is thinking it is still not right. And here is a picture showing the floor all finished, level and all! With pre-haircut Kaylee in the princess chair. We stained the fireplace mantle cherry to match the floor. The chair was temporarily parked there while the TV was being mounted. (Walls are not that purply.)And mounting that TV on the wall, that was a job. Sure wish he had had someone other than me to hold that thing up for him! You can also see the new clock and the cherry A/V tower we put in. The surround sound speakers are mounted in the corners. And of course the walls are no way near that color.

Here is a picture of the ceiling before renovations. I can't believe those joint compounded ceilings were ever popular, looked like cottage cheese!

And here is a picture of the new light on the new ceiling. The roses carry on the theme started in the crown moulding. I got the light on eBay for a song. Aren't I the best shopper? It was just meant to be...

The Queen's loveseat has new lamps! I found the perfect gold lampshades with beads all around the edges, which give just the right Victorian feel. (At Lowe's!)

Here is the lamp spot-lighting our 4-generation portrait and a new poster I just put up. It declares "You are a rare bird." My son agrees that I am.

Since this husband of mine has not found a new loveseat to put in the bay window, we have hauled out our old recliners for now, and replaced the lampshade on the end table to match the other two lamps. I know they don't match the room, they are just temporary I swear. The new sheer curtains really brighten up the room also.

The most recent acquisition for the room is this cherry bookcase we found at Lowe's. The odd reflection on the wall is from the mirrored picture frame on the bookshelf, and it took us quite a while to figure that out. Duh.

So now all we want to do to finish off the room is to get a gas fireplace log to put inside the fireplace, hopefully one with a remote control, and to get the family portrait re-framed. It will then hang over the loveseat, the mirror is staying where it is!

I hope you enjoyed this trip around the living room! It was a hard spring being down 2 rooms, and just as I start to enjoy my newly spacious home, Gary announces, "So when shall we start the kitchen?" AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The New Vogue Knitting is Out!

Contrary to popular belief, I don't hate Vogue Knitting magazine, it's just that the last issue was particularly bad. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite sweaters of all time came from the magazine, the Enchanted Forest sweater. When my daughter asked me what I would like for Mother's Day this year I said perhaps a subscription to Vogue Knitting, and she replied "Why, so you can make fun of it on your blog?" I laughed, but she gave me Spin-Off magazine instead. You'll never catch me making fun of that one!

When I saw the mittens on the cover of the Fall '08 issue, I fell in love. I was very excited to see smaller projects featured, especially mittens! I had the hardest time finding interesting mitten patterns last Christmas when I thought about making some as gifts. Everyplace you looked featured the trendy "fingerless gloves", (which I admit I knit myself 2 pairs,) but this year I am happy to see full coverage mittens back on the scene. In Maine, everyone needs a few pairs. My favorite pattern is on the cover:

They are the perfect pattern to showcase my fingering weight handspun and hand-dyed yarns! I have already joined the Druid Mittens knit-a-long on Ravelry! They are rich, intricate, and warm. Thanks to Jared Flood for this wonderful design.
Also I love the Let it Snow fair isle mittens, aren't they sensational in black and white? I might possibly get back into some 2 color knitting with these...

Then we have the yellow cabled mittens knit in Manos, I could use some of my early handspuns to make these! Rich with cables and quick to knit too...

Vogue also features a bag and slipper socks to knit. The bag is by Lucy Neatby and gorgeous, knit in only 3 colors. I am lusting for it. If the 2-color mittens don't drag me back into stranded knitting, this bag will!

The socks, however, require 3 balls of main color and 6 balls of contrasting color in Mission Falls 1824 Wool. I did a quick google and found the yarn online for $6.80 a ball, bringing the cost of the wool for this pair of socks to $61.20. That doesn't include the shipping costs either. Needless to say I won't be knitting these...

Also on my list of favorite patterns in this issue is this side to side lace cardigan. Unfortunately, the photography is inadequate to show off the rich detail in the lace design. How can you lure people into knitting one if they can't even see what the design is like? The front photo is so small I can't even make out whether it is lace or not...

Then we have this beauty. The model's face is highlighted perfectly. The placement of the model in the frame was perfection. The makeup is lovely. So is her jewelry. But the sweater, hmmm. I just can't for the life of me make out what the design is because it is totally in the shadows. Seems to be rich with cables, and if I squint really hard I get the impression that the ribbing is also rich with tiny cables. I'd never in a million years cast on for it without knowing what it looks like though. Would you? Too bad, I think it may be exceptional. I'll never know because the photographer was bewitched by her eyes only...
Look at this next pair of sweaters. The sweater on the left I would wear but I wouldn't knit it (yawn). The sweater on the right I would knit but I wouldn't wear it. The cabling is lovely, and upon closer examination, it is revealed to be knit from *gasp* Lion Brand Yarn? Are you kidding? Yarn from Wal-Mart in Vogue Knitting??? It is actually affordable and attractive! It probably costs less to knit than the socks above!

Okay, that's it for the wonderful patterns from this issue. But I can't leave you without showing you the truly awful ones too! Here is another monstrosity from Twinkle Knits. Boy talk about your quick knits! I checked out the instructions, and if you are knitting this for someone with a 30 inch bust (does anyone over the age of 8 really have a 30 inch bust?) you cast on 31 stitches. No kidding. I cast on more than that for a sock. For half of a sock in fact. And when could you possibly wear such a thing? The wool is thick enough to warm an Eskimo, but then the arms and neck are left bare. How very strange. This next pair makes me laugh. First of all, what happened to her hair? Did she ride to the shoot on the back of a speeding motorcycle traveling backwards? Hmm. And she is wearing so much mascara she can barely hold her eyes open from the weight of it. And look at the strange poses, is she identical twins or did they cut and paste her legs over each other? Or is Twin A trying to kick Twin B out of the picture? (Hey, this is my big chance at fame, get out of here, evil twin!)
And this one gets my vote for worst sweater in the magazine: TA-DA! Ms. Eyelashes (last issue it was Ms. Eyebrows, remember?) is modeling this strange conglomeration of delicate silk with a thick clunky cotton vest over it. And it is knit in a garter stitch pattern a child could knit. Is this high fashion or just bizarre? I can't figure it out...

Well, I will be back with another review when the next issue of Vogue hits the stands. I enjoy picking apart the rare mix of the unique and unusual, the beautiful and the just plain bad. And I'd love to hear what you thought of this review, leave a comment!