Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Background

Did you notice my new background?

I stumbled across the website of a graphic artist, Karen, who creates beautiful backgrounds and teaches you how to put them on your own site! I have always wondered how people have such beautiful and creative blogs. The secret is that they are either techno-smart, or they know where to turn to for help. So, in my case, I am thrilled to have this enormously talented lady's help. And it's free! She is The Background Fairy. She also has vintage epherema-inspired clip art on her other website Graphic Fairy. I will be sure to credit her whenever I use her images.

Here are some examples:
She has an abundant collection of birds, eggs, and nests, some on greeting cards.

Then there's beautiful Spencerian penmanship, with its fluorishes and scrolls, not just text, but beautiful images, such as the leaping stag above.
And finally, since we are still in the 12 days of Christmas, I feel that it is still timely to include this adorable Christmas-y image. Karen has a huge selection of art depicting children that'll make your heart melt!
Speaking of the Twelve Days of Christmas, check out this website. Laura is on a blogging break, but has filled her absence with clever depictions from the ancient Christmas carol.
Well, now I need to go knit, birthdays coming up fast, you know...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dock Square, Kennebunkport

Just a fly-by post, as I am supposed to be busy with other things...;).

I promised pictures of the tree in K'port, and found quite a few. I saw one pic I thought was the best, but didn't really know how to "lift" it. As it is, I am "borrowing" the pics below, but with credit to the websites where I got them. I hope that's okay.....
This tree-topper makes me want to get out the"crackers" and melt some butter............... (Photo lifted from this website.)
This one shows the same Christmas tree, lit up in the dark --- can you see that the ornaments are lobster buoys? ( This photo came from here.) For those who are land-locked, or just not up on their lobster lore, lobstermen attach a buoy to the rope when they drop a lobster trap (sometimes also called a "lobster-pot") down onto the ocean floor. Each licensed lobstermen paints his buoys his signature pattern, so that he can find his traps when he returns to pull up the traps and harvest the "keepers". With all the color combinations, they make for colorful decorations on trees, lamp-posts, doors, and of course on the side of lobster shacks!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

As I was saying to my friends about the Country Club....

Shawl, that is... Here is the finished project. I thought I didn't have pictures, but it turns out Evan had my camera card with these pics on it. The knitting directions call it the "Country Club Shawl", but I always think of a long rectangular wrap as a stole, and then when it is a triangle, it is a shawl. Anybody want to weigh in? Is the distinction legitimate?
How do you like this year's tree-topper? The old lighted star broke last year, and we hadn't yet replaced it when Ian brought in one of his lobster-trap buoys. It made us want to decorate a whole tree with a seashore theme. Probably plenty of people should see the tree down in Dock Square in Kennbunkport, huge and decorated with lobster buoys, etc. I'll see if I can find a pic to post.
Anyway, back to the shawl/stole, Mum came to visit the night before Christmas Eve, and we had a Christmas morn with her on the 24th. She helped me with the shawl-fringeing. You can sort of see it in the second picture. She brought it back to Stratton with her and gave it to Gram for me. Apparently, she likes it- she sits with it in her lap. I'll probably call her in a day or two, when all the excitement dies down. She has had lots of visitors and festivities, and it's best to call when the house is quiet, when there is little background noise -- doesn't hear well.
Speaking of Mum.........
This dear lady is getting acquainted with her new techno-gizmo: a cell phone! And being a good sport about being photographed for the blog. The more I teased her about not having a cell phone, the more I realized how much utility she'd get out of having one. She lives in a very remote, rural area and drives through some potentially dangerous weather on a curvy, winding road alongside a river to get to doctor's appointments, pharmacies, decent grocery shopping. And let's not forget that the best way to communicate with her nearly 17-yo granddaughter is by texting. As it turned out, even though TracFone seemed to have the best coverage in her poorly-covered area when we consulted the coverage maps, her phone won't work up there! When we were trying to activate the phone, it refused to activate for her zip code. My DH Jeff called the 800# and they are going to send her a different phone for her zip. She should get it maybe Tuesday. In the meantime, she was so excited, we sent her home with one of our old TracFones. She is thrilled to be using it, and reports that she has in fact already texted Emma! Who says you can't teach Granny how to use the new-fangled contraptions!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Lovely Christmas was had by All......

I just remarked to Honore on her blog Bygone Knits that I am using "lovely" too much and I need to vary my adjectives more. You see I have just visited most of my favorite blogs to check in with everyone's holiday, and in the spirit of sending warm Christmas greetings, I left comments. And because I appreciate the sharing, both writing and photos, I told 'most everyone that her blog is lovely, or the photos were lovely, or her children/pets were lovely, or the sentiments expressed were lovely, and in at least one case, the music was lovely. What to do? The word "lovely" for me evokes soft and gentle expressions of happy and pleasant loving feelings. And that's what my favorite blogs do for me. That's why I go back over and over.

Feel free to leave suggestions for other adjectives I can use. I'll try them out and see how they feel.

We did not travel this year and actually only had 1 family member visit. We live pretty far from our families. Sigh.... Whose idea was that? Oh, yeah, mine. Hindsight is 20/20.

Christmas is less chaotic now that the youngest in the family is almost 13. And with 3 teenage boys in the house, any holiday is less about decorating and presents and very much about the food! I should work on photographing food for this blog, because there is lots of it around and most of it is really quite pretty. I'll work on that. It's been pretty quiet here. Even the snow fell softly today. No wind or fuss, just gentle flakes drifting down. And then, as quickly as it started, it was over.
And now, late at night, I am quietly counting my blessings and thinking about heading off to bed.

Good night, all. Thanks for coming by.

Monday, December 21, 2009

OTN Update

Here is what I've been working on. First, a dishcloth and dishtowel set. Here, I demonstrate the impracticality of not planning out your project before you begin. As you see in the picture, I have completed the dishcloth and am now working on the dishtowel. Note how cleverly I have rewound my little multicolored skein into a center-pull ball and am working both sides from the two ends of yarn. Note also the tiny ball of soft yellow cotton. Raise your hand if you think that tiny ball will complete the project. If you are raising your hand now, you lose. If you are thinking that I have a second ball in my stash to join at the end of this ball, you are wrong again. I will have to go to the drug store where I bought this stuff and hope they have another one, hope the dye lots are close. If I am lucky, I will be the only one who buys cotton yarn at a drug store, and the only difference between my first purchase and my second will be an (un)healthy layer of dust. I'll let you know.
I graphed out the teacup and saucer on an Excel spreadsheet, which wasn't too hard. Used that for the dishcloth. For the dishtowel, I started by borrowing a teapot graph I found on someone's website, but then I modified it to suit my tastes. Put that on an Excel ss too. But I'm knitting the teapot top-down, so that's why it looks like only plain stockinette so far. It is.
Next up in Wendy's Knitting Follies is an example of slow learning. I had this skein of Lion Brand Magic Stripes, which you may know is discontinued. It is intended for knitting one pair of socks, and will dutifully demonstrate self-striping. If you follow the label directions. Which I didn't.
Noooooo, I had to up the anti. I wanted a little more interest. I wanted a pattern, one that wouldn't get lost in the self-striping hoopla. I chose the jaywalker. If you are on Ravelry, then you surely are familiar with the jaywalker sock. Grumperina, who designed it, lives in Cambridge, Mass. and named it so because it reminds her of jaywalking in Boston (where the traffic is often bumper-to-bumper, and you have to walk around stopped cars to jaywalk). First you go right, then left, then right again. Love the look of this sock. Love most of the knitting. I amended the cuff so that I could at least like the cuff.
You will notice that my first jaywalker sock is still OTN. You will be supposing that I haven't closed the toe because I am dreading the Kitchener stitch. Well I am, but that isn't why I didn't close the toe. The skein started out at 3.5 oz., and so, in order to have enough yarn, each sock can only consume 1.75 oz. (stay with me on the maths). Before I finished shaping the toe, I threw the remaining ball on the postal scale at work. 1.6 oz., flickering to 1.5! What! But the label promised me a pair of socks. Oh yeah, smarty pants, but not a pair of socks knit on size 1 needles and with a pattern gauge of 38 stitches to 4".......
So now, having considered my options, and remembering that the skein cost me $1.99 st a discount dump, I mean store, I am going unravel a bit and complete the toe with a solid color and then knit a second sock with a matching solid toe. The Magic Stripes, remember, have been discontinued, but Lion Brand has superwash merino with almost identical yardage per weight, so I can rescue this $1.99 pair of socks for about $5.00. The fiber content will be a little different. The Magic Stripes yarn is good for socks because it is reinforced with 25% nylon. So, I'll probably wear through the toes after all my hard work. Sigh, too bad I don't love them. They'll probably last forever (to remind me of my erring ways) and serve me well.
This next project is finally cast off and I am fringe-ing. This is the Country Club Shawl in a color called Persimmon. (inexplicably spelled Persimmion on the label) This is another discontinued discount purchase. A huge amount of yarn for a piddling price. I want to turn my nose up at it because it is all acrylic, but I can't cause it is so soft and cushy. It is a textured yarn (specifically, Red Heart Value Textured Yarn - no pretense there), and so it's really kind of fluffy, and begs to be made into something cozy. I'll show you the fringe when I'm done. Never done this before, a bit tedious.
Another view. I wish I knew how to photograph this to show you the rich color, and with less light bouncing off of it.
Well, that's all for now. All three of these projects still have more to go, so I'll be dribbling them in a bit at a time. I know you are on the edge of your seat to know how they all turn out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Half a snack set

Here's a little arrangement I made using my unmatched snack set plate. Can you see the pretty little pressed design on the glass? Suddenly the flowers remind me of poinsettias. I feel so clever.What arrangement could you make with half a snack set? Can you see my reflection with the camera on the glass balls?

Tomorrow, I'll test my cleverness with something I have OTN and maybe I'll show you how my OTH project comes along.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don't you wish you were me?

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I thought I was going to have to throw together a dinner for hungry, albeit grateful teenage boys. (You don't believe teenage boys show gratitude, beyond seeming to appreciate something hot and reasonably tasty to shovel into their mouths? You'd be shocked-at my house, my husband and I get thanked by each kid, at each meal! I know, I know we still stare at each other, mouths agape, each time. You never really get used to it, and I guess that's the point, that they never take it for granted either.) Well, if that little aside isn't enough to make you wish you were me, then look what I found waiting on the dining room table.

My oldest son, Ian, and the youngest one, Sean (Evan was at driving school-don't you wish you were me?) are responsible for the fact that I have pictures to document my delightful surprise and thus have a blog-post to share with you. You see, I was given a new digitial camera for my birthday, almost 3 weeks ago, and being a bit of a technophobe, I hadn't tried it. I'm one of those people who wants to read the entire manual, before I do anything with whatever the techno-gizmo is. This is my mother's fault. Every Christmas, we took pictures of her puzzling over such acts of wizardry as "setting her new watch", and.....well, I don't know what else, but you know what I mean. Let me just say, she has never owned a cell phone. Last week, however, she achieved a milestone: she e-mailed a link. No, really. Now do you see what I mean?
So, anyway, the boys wouldn't let me open what was in the box, until we had the camera fired up and ready to document the process (since my argument for wanting a new digital cam was that I am, after all, a blogger.)
This is the part where I sheepishly admit that, after diss-ing my mother for her techno-backward ways, she was in fact the giver of the gifts herein! (Shame on me....)

That pic above is another look to emphasize the gorgeous presentation by the folks at Victorian Trading Company. I am sure that Mum paid extra for gift-wrap, and they did a fine job. Those boxes are not actually gift-wrapped but gorgeous decorated and re-usable boxes. The little card is scrumptious and a fine example of the Victorian ephemera reproductions they do so well. Mum introduced me to their catalog years ago, and I curl up with it with almost as much anticipation as I do with some of my favorite magazines. I am the lucky owner of only a small handful of their products, but my Wish List is a mile long.
This is what I found inside: Don't you wish you were me?

It took my breath away! I told you in a previous post about my ambivalence for tea-for-one sets, but I have yet to bore you with, I mean share with you how charming I find these little snack sets. I mean you can have a light lunch or a snack with them. Can you picture anything from a humble grilled-cheese sandwich with a cup of tomato soup to tea and cake served on such a set? What about a donut and hot cider? Coffee and a bagel? tea and crumpets? tea and muffins? tea and your-favorite-pastry-here? I love them! They always remind me of having a cosy tete-a-tete. (I wish I knew how to type in the proper accent grave.)At Goodwill last year, I picked up a plate for about $1, but alas no matching cup, but no matter, I mix-and-match with other teacups and this fall, I found a new re-use. I put a pillar candle on it, with a little dried arrangement on the body of the plate and it looks fab on my windowsill.
Okay, not the greatest picture, just me playing with new cam.
Don't you wish you were me? New camera, early Christmas present, and by now, husband in the kitchen making grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup...
No? Not yet? Holding out for more?
I left out the part about 12-year-old son forgetting for a minute to be a sullen near-teen and freely giving me a welcoming hug and kiss. And the merry Cocker Spaniels, who always behave as if your arrival is the best thing all day. (Every breed description of Cocker Spaniels uses the adjective "merry" to describe their personality, and what can I say, they really are. Makes you wonder how they will out-do their usual to celebrate Christmas....)
So, Okay, if you still don't wish you were me.................
There was more!!!!
The teapot, with birds, red-and-white transferware, and don't miss the hand-painted flourish on the spout! What's not to love?
When are you coming over for tea and cake?
Have a really good day anyway, since you can't be me. Only I can be me. Just sayin'.