Thursday, June 28, 2012

Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair

On Friday Jane and I drove up to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair. It's a ways--about 80 miles north (Lake County Fairgrounds, Grayslake), but well worth it.

I took a class with knitter Judy Chang first thing.  A friend turned up in the class which made it extra fun. The class was to learn knitted on i-cord edging.  Our swatches at the end of class are above. Phyllis's are on the left and mine on the right.  First we tried picking up and knitting the edging. I had a hard time gauging how many stitches to pick up and getting them picked up from the correct side. After that the i-cord part was very easy! Our little swatches were begun with an i-cord cast on, have i-cord side edges and mine has an i-cord bind off. How cool is that?  Judy was a great teacher and it was a fun class.  We all left full of inspiration.
After a bit of shopping we headed outside for great music, good food (pulled pork barbecue and lemonade), and conversation between the music.  My sister-in-law came with two friends and Phyllis was there with a friend, so there were several of us swapping chairs as we ate.  After lunch we wandered over to see the llamas.  They are so stately. We watched them do an obstacle course that's training for both them and young 4-H'rs. 
Baby llama.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Nancy's nearly finished shawl--the same pattern as mine but she didn't use markers or lifelines. She's doing the edging now, adding beads.  Isn't the yarn gorgeous? (you can't see the pattern, really, until it's blocked.)
The fair has a lovely sitting area with tables where we could gather to rest, visit and do some show-n-tell.  Nancy and her friend are below. Jane, above, is knitting away on a chemo cap.
The stash in Nan's bag (above) turned out to be this gorgeous silk yarn below. I watched her playing with the various colors as she made her selections. I don't blame her for choosing this yarn and I can't wait to see what she decides to make with it.
Our day ended with a very long, slow drive home, that was relieved by good conversation.  It's so nice to go with a friend! 

I like this fair a lot because it's "more." It's a day to be with friends and family.  It has variety. It's not just knitting or even yarn things like spinning and weaving. There's quilting, beading, fabric, some antiques, trims and buttons, felting, baskets, ceramics, displays of challenge pieces and a gallery, music outside, music inside, and just lots of good vibes from the happy people (and the angora bunnies and llamas).  You can be sure I'll post next year's dates as soon as they're available and encourage you all to come.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Last weekend

I completed a couple of small projects this weekend, which had much more to do with the fun and inspiration of Friday's visit to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair than it did to the rest of the weekend.  After Friday it was a bit of a roller coaster.  Less than a month ago we replaced our aged furnace and dead window air conditioner with a new furnace and whole-house air system. It's lovely and it's been hot enough that we're making good use of it.  First thing Saturday morning, the laundry water backs up out of the sewer--tree roots. Not unsurprising given our recent drought-like conditions. Trees just want water, no matter where they find it.  Then hubby notices the 'fridge isn't making the right noises.

Now, I never would have noticed until the food all melted or it caught fire, but he's attuned to motors.  He took it apart and tested this and that, called around and found that parts had been discontinued for this model many years ago (we bought it in 1978--our first appliance for our first house).  A helpful service woman suggested a work around, but he did more testing and found the compressor was shot.

So we went shopping.  I'm kinda embarrassed to say I'm not sure what brand we got. It's close to the almond color I wanted back in '78 (back then it was more expensive than white; now the almond was the bargain).  It's the same size on the outside as our old one and much smaller on the inside. I guess that's insulation.  It's not magnetic so we have a pile of magnets and papers with no where to hang. It's been a surprisingly disconcerting change, this big box in our kitchen. It's life expectancy is less than 10 years.  (Can you tell me why, if they could make a long-lasting refrigerator in the '70s, they seem to have lost the ability to do so?  All the talk was about energy savings.  Buying one 'fridge every 20 or 30 years would save a whole lot more energy in materials, manufacturing and recycling than these short-lived appliances. Just sayin'.)

Then the real work began. We had to clear a three-foot-wide path through our tiny house.  We moved videos, dvds, books, suitcases, computer carts, and piled them around the bed, into the corners and very high to make way.

In the midst of it all, I screwed up. I was doing small loads of laundry to get by, draining the washer into the utility tub and then letting it drain slowly before starting the rinse cycle. Umm, well, I forgot to stop the wash in the middle and the tub overflowed. More or less clean water. But everywhere.

Hubby did an amazing amount of work hauling boxes (and boxes and boxes) out of the basement. Some were packaging boxes we really no longer needed. They were flattened to be recycled. Others were full of my magazines and some other stitching stuff.  Some were too musty to be usable any longer and I was taking them out a bit each week to recycle.  All six copier-paper boxes went.  I did not look inside. Hubby did and pulled out nonpaper items and a few rare things (like a notebook from a class I took) he thought I might want to keep.

So our basement is clean(er), at least until the sewer guys come to do their thing.  Our upstairs is still oddly empty--we're slowly putting things back.  We've earmarked more things to get rid of.

 Okay, rant over.  Here's some stuff to look at to make up for it for those who've hung on this long. The above is a bracelet kit I got at the Fiber Fair.  It's a fairly simple technique, but I can see where I need to improve my technique a bit.  I'm pretty sure it's from On the Surface, but I didn't see anything like it on their website so I may be wrong.
 I had this almost done by the weekend. It's a second bird mat from felt. I'm not sure whether I like the yellow or not. I had thought I'd like it more than the green one shown here.
 I got a kit to make a felt geode from Esther's Place. It was quick and fun to make. It was hard to wait for it to dry for a day or so before I cut the sphere in half to see the geode. This is my kind of fun. They will make good pincushions.
I have more to say about the Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair with photos. Without any appliance rants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not much stitching done

Last week I worked long hours and six days, so not much handwork got done.  I came down with a cold (just before the conference at week's end).  What I did got done Sunday and Monday (I stayed home to nurse my cold; it's settled in my chest for now).
I worked on this project, a two-row zig-zag crochet scarf. You alternate the two yarns as you stitch. I'm aiming at a Christmas gift.
I also finished this simple wreath. Very much a reminder of the '70s. It's made with waxed linen and the base around the ring is woven.  I like the effect but I don't much like the waxed linen--it's quite sticky. I got the project kit at the Bead & Button show a couple of weeks ago. I started it at the show, sitting in the lunch area, in a failed attempt to stop shopping.  It's pretty mindless and that's what I needed last week.

I also knit several rows on my lace shawl but it just looks like a tangled pile of wool.  It struck me how much an act of faith knitting a lace shawl really is. You can't see what you've done until it's all completed, bound off and blocked. Until then you just have to trust.  I can see the individual stitches and I count each section between markers on each row to catch any mistakes, but beyond that, I don't really know how I'm doing.

My sister-in-law (the knitter in a recent post) is knitting this pattern, too. Without markers or lifelines and in a more difficult (harder to see the individual stitches) yarn.  There's always something to aspire to.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ukranian Embroidery

Come join Needle Artisans of Northwest Indiana EGA chapter for a one-day workshop on 
Ukranian Embroidery
The workshop will be held on Saturday, September 8, 2012, at Briar Ridge Country Club in Schererville, Indiana (on the border with Illinois).  The $55.00 price is all inclusive--it includes the day of instruction, kit,and lunch. 

Please e-mail me if you're interested and I'll put you in touch with the organizers.  The registration deadline is August 7.

This is a beautiful piece.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Indiana Excursion

On Sunday we took an excursion to see the new exhibits at the Brauer Museum of Art on the Valparaiso University campus. There were five exhibits!  We especially liked the lovely photographs of William Richardson. He was an early Twentieth Century artist who helped save the dunes. 

The Photography of William D. Richardson
A collaborative exhibition with the Westchester Township History Museum
Art in Bloom at the Brauer: Arrangements by Kenton Johnson, Hidden Garden Florist
 Floral arrangements inspired by art in the Museum's collection. (they were amazing!)
Plus three exhibits from the Museum's permanent collection.

Since we'd seen "part 1" at Brauer, we drove over to Chesterton to see "part 2" at the Westchester Township History Museum. That was a wonderful surprise.  The museum is in a lovely historic home and has local exhibits, dunes exhibits and the William D. and Flora Richardson collection of photographs and books.  The people on duty were very friendly and gave us a lovely tour of the home after we had viewed the items from the Richardson collection that are on display.  I was thrilled to find a huge overflowing notebook on the Bailly homestead and family.  

Sunday was quite hot and our excursions perfect for the day.  We'll be back to visit both places in the future.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

my turn

Boy, do I have show and tell! On Saturday our final Homewood Guild field trip was to the Bead 'n Button Show in Milwaukee. Chris was my partner in crime and we had way too much fun. I mostly bought kits--I think it's a great way to learn new things and try things out. And, boy, did I!

This was the first project I completed Sunday morning, a pearl and wire necklace. I'd seen them in stores and couldn't quite figure it out. Then, on to Steampunk style.
 A Christmas gift, done! Below is a tin charm, I put it back into the original package 'cause it's so cute. Glass Garden Beads.
These next two were from a St. Louis shop with great ideas, Lady Bug Beads.
 This last is a sample of "Viking Knitting" which is done on a stick-like tool. I got a pack of materials and a kit to give it a go. I made this sample in a short time, just to get some experience with the wire and how it works. It uses a lot of wire--this took about 32" and the finished piece of wire maybe an 1-1/2" long--and that's after being drawn (which makes it longer, smoother and even).

No housework got done this weekend. We (Hubby and I) did go on a fun Sunday excursion, though. More on that to come.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012


None of this was done by me--my sister-in-law the knitter is quite prolific.  
A teaching cardigan (on how to add sleeves using steeks).  
 I love this collar.
Another cardigan
This one just needs buttons.
 In addition to knitting, she's a felter. I fell in love with this amazing nuno felted vest. 
 We made her model it for us. 
 Isn't it wonderful? 
 Not to be outdone, my sister's been busy, too. She made this purse for the sister-in-law.  
 She has several quilts in the works. I got a pic of one in the planning stages.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Days flying past

Poof! this week has flown by. Work is ramping up--a conference to run next week followed in July by a two-week-long summer school. I'm mired in details! Last Saturday we visited with my family, at my sister's. 
We feasted and brought home bags of fresh-picked asparagus. We had a very good time.  
 The weather was perfect. We lingered by the cars, not wanting the day to end.  
On Sunday, we went to a car show in Crown Point. Lots of interesting vehicles. In parking lots today all you see are bland white, silver, greige, beige boringness, with an occasional black or red car. At car shows there is COLOR! Peach, hot pink, yellow, orange, blue, purple, a rainbow! (although you can't really tell that by this picture!
How's this?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

We saw this movie on Memorial Day (movies are a great way to escape the heat!). I really enjoyed it. Great characters, each making the same trip for different reasons. I found it lovely. It discusses that forbidden topic--aging! It was not the focus of the movie, but rather the backbone, perhaps--just there. It was not clich├ęd, maudlin, or brushed off but looked at right in the eye and dealt with. No pat answers, either, everyone deals with life differently and this is true in the movie.

A couple of finishes

 I've completed a couple of odds and ends lately. My sister gave me this cute design with preprinted fabric. I decided since I'm on a wool kick to stitch it in wool. Mostly Medici and some other odd things I had on hand, silk'n'wool among them. Cute charms from Designer's Desk. 
I saw this design in a recent issue of Stitch and liked it so I got out wool to make up two. One's done, the other cut out and ready to go. 
This doesn't look like anything and I got some amazing blank stares when I tried to explain it to people in the doctor's office recently where I was knitting. It's a swatch for a project I'm planning to knit. The swatch is done, washed and dried like like I expect the finished item to be, and carefully counted and measured. Last night I planned the pattern. I'm adaping a pattern to a different idea. Should be interesting. It's something I've never done.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Japanese Embroidery

I set up my frame for the holiday weekend and got in some stitching on three mornings. (I took a four-day minivacation--bliss!) One morning I completed the hemp leaf pattern on the left-hand fan blade. Another I stitched the maple leaf. And on the third the bamboo leaves. For each of the latter, I was deciding on my own what threads to use in what order. I spent a lot of time dithering. 

But, on the whole, less time ripping out than I usually do. I was more relaxed with the stitching and not as "don't come near me, I need absolute quiet!" as I have been. Hubby knows, though, and took himself off to work on the car and to the store one morning, giving me more time to stitch.
Another one of the neighbor's roses.