Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blog Giveaway

Check out the Paper Crafting post on Kelli's blog "There's no place like home". It is soooo cute and such a good idea. If you leave a comment you will be entered in her giveaway.
Hmmmm.... there's an idea - a giveaway! Maybe I should do one -- potentially increase readership, definitely increase commentership, (and bring some lurkers out of the woodwork)...but what to offer as a giveaway? How about an adolescent male who never picks up his dirty clothes? No? Oh, come now, where's your sense of adventure?
Good luck with Kelli's giveaway contest...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Daffodils and Wordsworth

"Daffodils" (1804)

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,

They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:

I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

I think I first read this poem in the March 1993 issue of Victoria magazine. Do any of you remember Victoria? No, I don't mean the skimpy re-tread we're forced to endure six times a year now. I mean the original, monthly breath of fresh air that used to arrive in the mailbox like clean cool water in the desert. I do get Victoria now too, but often it serves as a reminder of what we will never have again.
Anyway, I have never forgotten the poem or the feelings it evoked, and especially the beautiful photographs that accompanied it. Of daffodils of course, thousands upon thousands. Whenever I see daffodils, I think of the magazine/poem/feelings.
So, how could I help but fall in love with this potholder on the Lily Sugar 'n Cream website ? And so, finally I have a pattern that I'm working up for the swap. I know, you haven't exactly been holding your breath.... But I've been worried about getting something good enough done in time. I have made all the potholders and embroidered all the stripes. I've edged and looped 3 of them. I've made 1 and a half of the daffodil petals, and 5 orange trumpets. I'll take pictures and post them soon; I've done just a little changing of colors and I like the way they're looking. Will share soon.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Enchanted Cottage

Well, the pattern is actually called "Honeymoon Cottage" and I have finished the one and only one I will do! I immediately took a picture as it is going into this evening's mail. The object lesson for this pattern is "Read the directions all the way through". A couple of days ago, I complained that it would have too many holes and you could burn fingers trying to use it. I had made 2 of the rooves and 2 of the front walls thinking I would make only 2, for Mother's Day, with a felt liner and calico backing. Well, that didn't happen - on the way to finishing one of them, I discovered a small paragraph at the end, which began "Repeat Roof and Wall. Sew to Front, inserting Chimney between 2 Roof pieces on left side." And so, here's the finished project, and I won't be doing it again. With all the crochet pieces and parts made, it took me almost 5 hours straight to do all the hand sewing and embroidering the little flowers. I know that seems impossible, but really it did.
And for contrast, here's our Enchanted Cottage. I got a few passing raindrops on me when I was out taking these pictures. The Spring rains that promise the blooms. I have been watching these tulips and hoping for the best. I put the bulbs in 3 and 1/2 years ago. The first year - not a single bloom! There had been a ridiculous warm-up in February which woke everything up, only to kill everything when we went back to the usual cruelly prolonged Winter. Snow and ice everywhere. The crocuses I had put around the tulips were completely destroyed for good, never blossomed, never recovered. I had learned that a lot of bulb flowers really never bloom as well in successive years, but these tulips are proving to be an exception. Last year, they looked okay, but this year they look the best yet so far. We are going to have a warm (for us) and sunny weekend, so I'm guessing they will peak on Mother's Day. I'll watch them and try to get pictures.

You may not be able to tell, but the blooms should be purple & gold. I chose them to celebrate two things: my bright purple front door and Cheverus school colors! (Remember Ian's scarf?)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A new respect for designers

Sometimes, I look at the designs offered in knitting and crocheting magazines, booklets, and websites, and I am underwhelmed by the offerings, or I think that something looks so simple that I can make it without spending money on a pattern. And then there are times like this....Remember the crocheted potholder and hot pad swap. I signed up because it looked like fun, and how fun it would be to see 5 new potholders show up in my mailbox. First, I perused my new and vintage pattern stash for potholder designs, cruised around on line a lot, including my cousin's website: , looking for freebie patterns to download. I have a great deal of cotton in my stash, and was pretty determined not to purchase any new materials if it could be helped. I love the simplicity of the newer designs, but I am also drawn to anything retro. I was disappointed to discover that among the cottons in my stash were really calm, typical colors, nothing like the really distinctive rich poppin' color combos that are showing up on my favorite knit/crochet websites.And speaking of websites, the swap has its own blog, where swappers have been sharing their quest to make just the right selection, and frankly, I've been intimidated! The finer points of yarn selection, and stitch selection have been discussed, and I'm glad for it, because it has caused me to eliminate patterns that I would have thought would be good. And I'm glad, because it has made me realize that design decisions that may at first seem picky are often in fact, based on important considerations. Here are two that I hadn't really considered: 1) Only wool or cotton is allowed, no acrylic, as it can melt at high cooking temperatures, and melting acrylic can burn your skin. And here I'd been thinking it was just fiber elitism. (Probably is a little of that too.); 2) People seem to be very considerate in their selection so as not to allow anybody's hands to get burned through holes in the pattern. For instance, those who are drawn toward the lacier granny squares, seem to be taking care to back the square in a solid crochet fabric, such as rows of single or half-double crochet in pretty contrasting colors to peek through.
If you look at my first pic above, you'll see my first selection (that led to actually trying a sample), which is called Honeymoon Cottage (how cute is that!). I have crocheted 2 rooves and 2 front walls. The details are crocheted with embroidery floss, and I will actually do that, BUT these will not be potholders in the swap! The roof is the bulk of the potholder and the very cute weave which gives the roof a shingle-y look actually would make a very leaky roof and as a potholder might actually allow burned fingers. If I were using wool and making it quite large, and felting it, it would probably be okay, but as is, no go. If I were feeling more clever and not pressed for time, I could stitch a backing, but I'm not feeling clever enough to make an irregular shape, etc. This probably makes a better hot pad. Maybe it works better in the original cotton, which of course is no longer available, although I worked out the gauge, and it seemed okay...So, in an effort to use interesting colors and a very solid-weave fabric, I am simply making a goodly-sized square of an interesting stitch I found in my crochet stitch booklets. Sigh....seems so un-worthy of all the delightful offerings I've seen on the blog. So that's why I have a new-found respect for designers. We consumers need only select a pattern and a color. They have to do a lot of thinking and sampling to come up with something with enough function and appeal to offer it for sale.
On another note, I have pictures of the lovely blooming miniature rose sent to me in sympathy by my sweet friend, Julie. Aren't they adorable? I really hope I can keep them alive. I'll keep them in my taupe-walled dining room, but not because the walls are taupe, and the colors will be so chic together..............
but because it is a southern-exposed room and with two windows gets lots of sun. In the summer, it's practically a hot-house!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dual purpose photos

Do you remember (so long ago) that I promised I would cut more (screaming) yellow forsythia and photograph it against the beautiful Cheyenne Rock (taupe) walls. And in this pic you can see the white (Behr Paint Pearl Drop) chair rail. The table for the tableau below (is "tableau" merely a contraction of "table" and "below"?) was a yard sale find- a very large, very beautiful side table. I got it at a neighbor's yard sale for $50. I later found out that she was in Dubai, and her college-aged son from whom I bought it, was raising money to complete a kitchen renovation to surprise her....I haven't yet offered to sell it back to her.....Another item of interest, which prompted the photo session is this gorgeous bouquet. Sweet Sue, my stepmother sent it, to thank me (not necessary!) for the care and company during my Dad's last few days. He was requiring so much pain control that I think he could have been only vaguely aware of my presence, if at all....but Sue and I got each other through those bittersweet days, his last days on this earth, and perhaps our closest time yet. I'll treasure the memory...Besides being breathtaking to look at, this bouquet has a lovely sweet scent from the carnations. They are the tiny ones, I think I've usually seen them referred to as pinks, with a sweet, slightly spicy scent. I loooooove the scent. I had never noticed that carnations have a fragrance, and I'm not sure the big ones really have much, but in my yard, years ago, I found that someone once planted pinks, (must be a perennial), and the fragrance stopped me in my tracks as I strolled by one day.As I was taking pictures, I realized that the plate and the teapot with the lavender stalks on them was also a gift from Sue, after we banded together to get through what turned out to be 30 days in the ICU after my Dad's initial surgery for his cancer almost 2 years ago now. The fancy crystal 3-photo frame was also a gift from Sue (and Dad) a few years ago. So, this photo series serves a dual purpose: to show you the forsythias as promised, and to showcase the lovely flowers Sue sent.
**Oh My!** As if on cue, another florist just showed up delivering more flowers, a miniature pink rose bush---lovely! If you ever have any doubt about sending someone flowers, do it! They are so comforting, so soothing. I feel so loved.