Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Holiday Finish!

I was recently thinking about my friend Renee and how we used to go over the Just Cross Stitch Annual Christmas Ornament issue as she would choose designs to stitch for holiday gifts. I bought a copy of this year's issue and found a design to stitch in Renee's memory.  I'm not much of a cross stitcher, but I enjoyed this project
   The "one more stitch" motif seems appropriate.
While I had the brown linen handy, I began test stitching a design for Susan Johnson. I'm loving it. The circle will be about 6" when I'm done.  I'm using a 24 count linen with DMC coton a broider size 20. (Thanks to Jenny--it's wonderful to stitch with!)
I also got out the paints and painted the backgrounds for the Catherine Jordan trees through the Shining Needle Society.  I'm not terribly controlled about these things. Paint always gets away from me.  I was pleased to find that I could dip the undried fabric in water and the color would rinse out and I could start over.  The seasons I selected are: left side, bottom to top is summer, spring, autumn, and winter.  The right side is a second autumn. They're drying now. With everything, they got quite saturated.  Next I'll press them to set the colors and then I can begin stitching.
And here's my drip/blotting cloth. I always try to use fabric under my painting because I end up with an interesting piece of painted fabric. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Plugging along...

My new Sontag shawl is coming along slowly, a row or two at a time. I spent last weekend balling yarn.  While I only plan to add a row or two of the yellow near the outer edge, I decided to ball up all of this handspun/handdyed wool. (It was originally the flowers on the shawl of the planned sweater.) The skeins were loose loops that had tangled over the years.  Even now, after reballing some of them for better tension, they are kind of sloppy.  I figured if I didn't grit my teeth and do it all at once, I would never do it.  While I was at it, I balled several more balls of the blue Cascade wool and I found another ball of handdyed in a similar color, left over from a completed shawl. I added it to the pile. 
I also began work on the new Catherine Jordan trees pendant project.  
Step 1 is to get the pieces of fabric ready to paint the backgrounds. The kit included one set of cut-to-size fabrics and then uncut strips for the other pendants.  I cut a set of card templates for the openings (pinned together in the photo above) and then used them to trace my pieces.  I left the strips as strips and just cut out the openings. I need to paint the inner edges of the openings so no white shows, but the outside edges of the pieces will be hidden by the frame.  Now to dig out the paints!

It's been three months since my second knee surgery and I'm just about to finish up physical therapy. I'm still having some issues, but they're improving. I'm back doing morning walks with my friend, World Embroideries. And I'm still quite tired in the evenings.  Progress is slow, but as of today I have completed the cutting and weaving one-quarter of the way around the border of the Hardanger tablecloth. It doesn't look much different than the post here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Another New Project

I'm a big fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and it was with great anticipation, and thanks to a good friend, I was able to watch the first episodes of the new series based on the first book. The costuming is full of lovely knitted garments, rich woven tartans, some lovely cartridge pleating, and all-in-all a textile lover's delight.  Knitting patterns and stitch alongs inspired by the show abound.  I want to play, too, but I have another garment in mind.
A Sontag is kind of a wrap around shawl.  I've made them from big triangular shawls by tying the ends together in back or adding a button and loop.  That's pretty much it, from what I can see.  And they stay on nicely, not slipping here and there.
While looking through the Outlander knitting on Ravelry, I came across this Sontag pattern I really liked: Kay's Tess d'Uberville's Shawl designed by Kay Meadors. It perfectly fits my need for a brainless knitting project.  I have umpteen projects going, including some knitting, but all take more energy than I have right now in the evenings. And there was another reason for a new project.

A favorite activity of mine is to knit and read.  I'm rereading the first Outlander book and wanted a very simple knitting project to go along. And also for knitting in waiting rooms at doctor's offices. 
This garter stitch Sontag fits the bill.  

(You probably need to sign up for a Ravelry account to see the links above. It's free and Ravelry is a wonderful site full of great knitters, yarns, patterns, and conversations. Their pattern search feature is awesome.)
Many years ago I was in a knit-along group to make a shawl collar jacket with lovely dimensional flowers on the collar.  I got yarn for the sweater and the flowers and knit samples. It was a lesson in custom fitting the sweater and I made lots of pattern notes. And along the way I realized that while I really loved the design, I'd probably never be comfortable wearing a sweater with dimensional flowers on the collar. (Watching the Kentucky Derby with the horseshoe shape of flowers that bedecked the winning horse convinced me of that.)  I worked on possible ways to make the flowers removable. And then thought about just omitting them. And I began procrastinating. I never cast on for the sweater.  

I pulled out that yarn (lovely Cascade wool) and knit up a swatch for the Sontag.  First, I need to make the shawl larger than the pattern. Second, my wool knits to a finer gauge than the pattern.  And I'm thinking I may like to make a Sontag a bit more like the historic one in the photo at top.  I ignored all of that, pretty much, deciding to think about it later on. I cast on and began knitting. And reading while knitting. I was in heaven!  (I debated this morning about doing a bit before heading in to work and decided that was too dangerous.)  

So there are decisions to come, but for right now I'm in knitting heaven.   A very good place to be.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Beautiful Fall Weather

We've been having a delightful fall with lovely weather and some nice unseasonably warm days.
One day we drove to the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City.  It was a weekday right before I came back to work, so the zoo wasn't crowded.  The Budgies were very hungry and we were delightfully swarmed.
We could have stayed there all day, but did walk around the lower levels of the rest of the zoo. I didn't make the climb up to our favorite bench, overlooking the lake. Next time (I'm walking better now.)
The budgies are eating seeds on Popsicle sticks that you can buy at the gift shop. The seeds are really stuck on there and they have to work to get them.  Steve finally put the sticks on the ground and let them have at it.
This past weekend was just glorious. In between laundry and errands, we went out to the Hesston Steam Museum to ride the Hesston Ghost Train (just east of Michigan City).  It is totally hokey and I just love it.  Definitely kid friendly and the grounds were full of cute kids in costume (and parents and grandparents taking photos).  The train in the background of the photo above, just leaving the station, is the same one we rode on.  They had many trains out and running to accommodate the crowds.  The grounds were deep in fallen leaves so there was a lot of leaf play by the little ones. It's become one of my seasonal "musts."  

I think I will "need" to ride on the Candy Cane Express this year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Back to Work

And not stitching.  :-{  

I'm still doing physical therapy, it's a bit up and down....this leg has had problems since I was a baby and now it's protesting some muscles and tendons being brought back into use. 
I see improvement, which keeps me going.
  
That and a bit of shopping!  
There's nothing like a new project to lift my spirits.
I joined the Shining Needle Society and signed up for this online course with Catherine Jordan.
A few years back I took her "full size" embroidery class. This is a miniaturized version, finished as a pendant.
My kit arrived very quickly and I've been reading it, thinking about it, and planning my forests. Like the model picture, I plan to make seasonal trees. So while I'm too tired at night to stitch, it's never out of my mind!

SNS has a number of other course offerings that are really tempting, but so far I'm resisting. So far...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Staycation!

Since I've been off recuperating, we discussed taking a short vacation before I dove back into work. But a gaping hole in the base of our chimney changed our plans. We now have a brand new, very nice chimney.  

So we've been finding fun things to do locally. We've been having amazing weather and took full advantage of it.

We visited Chesterton's European Market, which is a lot of fun. It goes through October. In addition to farm fresh produce, baked goods, honey, preserves, and maple syrup, they have a lovely variety of crafts.
Hubby bought me the lovely handmade Jewelry Box from Pa's Woodworking as an anniversary present. It's prompted a big clean out of my jewelry boxes, bins, and baskets--I was very disorganized.
Some drawers have dividers, some don't.
Then we went by the Dunes for a picnic lunch. This tree has an amazing load of pinecones at the top...and only at the top.
Dunes Grass.
We also went out to Hesston to visit the Hesston Steam Museum. The trains were running. They have a lot of steam power, a generator, sawmill, and other big equipment that are fired up for special dates. We love their Halloween train and hope to go back for that at the end of October, but the day was lovely so we decided to go and enjoy the fall color and beautiful weather.
Several sizes and styles of train cars were running. They have trains from Brookfield Zoo, Kiddieland, and the Donnelley Estate.
Here's Hubby, checking out a caboose.
Here are tiny trains (that take full size people!).
And here's the view from our train as we start our journey through the woods at the Indiana-Michigan border.