Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shopping Results and A Welcome Sign of Spring

These are one of the pay-offs of today's shopping. I splurged on King Arthur 100% whole wheat flour and mixed up a batch of whole wheat rolls--they're dark because I used a bit of black strap molasses as the sweetener. I needed to make the rolls because we also splurged on crab cakes, something our local Smith's store usually carries only at this time of year.

This bedraggled little specimen is the pansy that has clung to life all winter, putting out new, tiny sets of leaves whenever the weather has been warm enough to allow it to do so.
Alexandra wanted to plant some things in the planter. I asked her to be careful of that brave little pansy. I hope she didn't bruise it too badly. It looked a lot healthier this morning.

The real signs of spring are these tulip leaves poking their tips up through the soil in several planters. They didn't bloom last year. Maybe they'll manage this year.
They could still be frozen before they have a chance to bloom. We expect a low of only 25 F. tonight--and, according to our notoriously erroneous forecasts, a high of 76 F. tomorrow. I don't know how all our recent unseasonably warm weather is going to effect our bulbs. In the past, we've had snow as late as May 8, so it's touch and go.
We've also had precious little moisture this winter. We know that with or without moisture, we will still have many, many days of wind. (I just didn't take pictures of the most recent tumbleweed blessings.) With so little moisture, there's no point in even attempting to break soil that's not in a planter. Alex and I do need to go get a few more planters, however.

Socks, Sickness, and Theft

Socks: These are the socks I started February 16. This is as far as I have gotten.
I have been working on continental style knitting, hoping to speed things up. I do think I'm faster than I was with the traditional method of throwing the yarn with the right hand. It does take longer to pull the loop and needle from one side of the socks to the other than it does to change from one needle to the other when using double pointed needles. An advantage is that I really don't have to be concerned about needles slipping out of stitches. Overall, it's still slower than knitting one sock at a time on double points, but I hope it will become faster.
Sickness (graphic--feel free to skip this part): In 1993 on my way to the only faculty restroom at a school in Arizona, I asked the office personnel to come check on me if I wasn't out in 15 minutes. They forgot. I lay on the floor of that restroom for well over half an hour before I was able to get up and stagger out. The principal had to take me home; after school a couple of teachers brought my car to me--a mere six miles.
Now I commute over 60 miles each way. When I arrived at school Thursday morning, I had to unlock the pod door to get in (two custodians were absent, the third is intent on doing as little as possible), dropped my coat on the table, and headed straight for the restroom. Yech insued. I arrive at school nearly an hour before most other teachers due to my daughter's midschool schedule.
I did consider a fast run to the 24-hour Walmart but realized that since I was already sick, investing in new clothes I wouldn't even enjoy wasn't likely to make things much better--I'd just have felt poorer and still been sick on top of it all. I phoned my principal and Alexandra's school, explained that I really didn't want to go in to check out my daughter smelling the way I did, so they arranged to come out to the car, check my ID, and get her out of class. I managed to drive home. I was still sick yesterday. I'm still sick today; apparently I finally succumbed to the illness that has been keeping my students at home. Checking our district's online absence site, I see that the school did not get a substitute for me either day. I'm not sure I care. Maybe we'll be able to pick up where we left off. Since the district has no substitutes trained in Orton-Gillingham methodology, subs don't teach what I would teach anyway.

Theft: These are the views to the west {with the mountains covered in haze) , north (with the mountains invisible), and east of my house, respectively. Seven houses on our little street.
Last weekend I had planned to put some new lightbulbs in the exterior lights. I left the ladder on its side near the portico on the front of the house--invisible unless someone was at the front door. I knew I should carry it back to the storage building. I asked Alexandra to help me. She wasn't willing to do that. I should have done it by myself. Monday we came home to discover the ladder was missing. The only visitors we get out here are Mormon missionaries, people campaigning for public office [no elections in the near future, so no people campaigning], and, last weekend, someone claiming to be selling Kirby vaccum cleaners. My money's on the Kirby salesman. Wait....I don't have any money. I don't have a ladder either; that means that no lightbulbs will be changed until I go buy another. I don't think I'm going to have money for a ladder this month what with entry fees for flute festival, car license and title renewal, and an unexpected dental bill from when Alexandra had her bike accident almost two years ago. On the other hand, I still have a job and I still have insurance so I'll eventually get a ladder, and if I'm lucky, I'll find a used one.

Alexandra's making a list of what we need from the grocery store, so I'll take my sorry stomach there before the Saturday crowds get too large. If I'm lucky I'll manage to work on a quilt before the day is over.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Magic Loop Socks

Today my daughter, a friend, and I met at the home of a mutual friend so that I could try a new (for me) sock knitting technique, so I can knit and finish two socks at the same time.
Alex was working on one of those furry scarves for a friend. She wants some very expensive yarn to make a scarf for herself; my stipulation is that she must first make one of inexpensive yarn so I can be sure she will finish it when/if I buy the yarn.
My friend Mary was using the technique to knit sleeves for a toddler sweater.
The pile of socks on the table were made by our friend Judy, who was teaching us the technique. We didn't get any pictures of her because she was the one taking the pictures.
I thought by this evening I would have at least the toes and part of the lower socks done so I could post a picture. However, they are still too tiny to make a picture worthwhile. Hopefully, I will get more time to work on them this week.
I loved having a day off work, but I didn't get any quilting done--I didn't even manage to fondle fabric! The time between Presidents' Day and Spring Break always seems to pass much too slowly--in large part because I'm becoming eager for spring, and it's still winter.
I wonder how much more knitting I can get done before I need to be asleep an hour from now. Hmmmmmm...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tuscany - Another Quilt-to-Be

Here's the other priority quilt I'm struggling with. I planned for it to be done at the end of November or early December. Obviously, it's still not done. Obviously, I'm still struggling.

Obviously, these are not my colors. However, they are lovely colors, just not ones I could live with day in and day out. I have way too much excitement and stress in my life, so I need calming, peaceful colors in my home. However, I realize an awful lot of people perceive these colors to be warm and comforting. And, in real life, the reds and greens are richer and the golds are much nicer. These fabrics are from Moda's Charisma line.

I thought I ordered more than enough fabric--and, in fact, I did. Unfortunately, the fabric that I ordered for borders just isn't enough.

Of the fabrics in the second picture, I do not have enough of any one fabric to make a single border X 4. I do have quite a few strips from the rest of the fabric line--strips I'd planned to use in a Victory Quilt. If I use some of those strips, there will be a pretty sharp contrast between the body of the quilt with its carefully controlled fabrics, and the borders, which will be much less coordinated.
I'm wondering if a variety of fabrics in the borders could serve as an analogy for the parts of our lives, especially on the edges, where a lot of things aren't at all "controlled" or "organized" but where the diversity of our encounters enriches us despite the lack of control. Since all the strips are from the same fabric line, they do have the same general feeling as the fabrics in the body of the quilt.
When I make quilts, my brain does form all sorts of analogies between life and what's happening in the quilt; undoubtedly, the recipients never perceive the analogies when they use the quilts. I never tell the recipients about them. My brain always does that--even in other people's quilts. However, I do not want the recipient of this quilt to think it's ugly because the borders are uncontrolled.
I need to get some kind of border on there and get this quilt layered so I can begin quilting. With any luck I'll have time next weekend and on Presidents' Day to do some quilting.
What to do?

A Victory Quilt--Ruth's Folk Art Dolls

This is something Ruth asked me to quilt last fall before she had to take several weeks off from quilting. I finally finished it today. It will be passed on to someone else who will sew the second side of the binding, but at least my part is finished.

Among the unanticipated benefits of making Victory Quilts are that I take a few more risks than I would take when creating an heirloom (although I realize that for some families a Victory Quilt can become an heirloom) and that I experiment with new ideas that I've not used before.

In the close-ups of the borders and sashing below are some quilting designs I haven't used for a while or that I designed to be used on this quilt.

Another risk I took on this quilt was using much bigger stitches for quilting.

I don't know if I like the bigger stitches much, although I can certainly acknowledge that the quilting went faster because of them. I do like some of the design variations in the patterns of the quilting stitches and need to take better close-ups of them so I'll have a record of them after I pass the quilt on, probably tomorrow at church.

Ruth pieced this quilt top from VIP/Cranston prints from the 1980's, and the prints were actually a light blue, a medium blue, and a pink that leaned toward peach.

A funny thing about this quilt is that although I originally thought of it as Ruth's Folk Art Dolls, I'd barely begun to quilt it when in my mind, at least, it became "The Segregation Quilt" because the African-American angels were in one column and the caucasion ones were in the other--something unintentional on Ruth's part, occuring because she had three of each doll, bordered two of each in one color and one of each in a second color, and then when she put them together, they ended up "segregated."
It will be dedicated at our congregation's next prayer quilt Sunday and shortly thereafter will be blessing someone facing some serious health challenges.

Now I can mark it as my first 2009 completion and move on to the other quilt which is a current priority but not yet even a finished top because I'm too short on fabric to do what I orginally intended to do with the border.

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