Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Travelling to New Zealand

We interrupt this blog to bring you a notice that I will not be posting for about three weeks due to exciting developments on the National Scrabble front.

Thirty Scrabble players and our 27 companions will be traveling on a Scrabble cruise (Jan. 16-Feb. 1, 2009) with esteemed travel guides Barbara Van Alen and Larry Rand from Phoenix, AZ. Both are Scrabble directors and have overseen hundreds of tournaments and local club games. Barbara and Larry are excellent tour guides and an all-around wonderful couple who also run a travel agency named "Van Rand Travel". They were highlighted in the Phoenix Magazine in 2008 in a very complimentary article. You can read about their game passion and directing abilities at Word Play in Phoenix Magazine.

You might also check out their Phoenix Scrabble Club information at Phoenix Scrabble Club News.

We (30 Scrabble players and 27 companions of the players) will be leaving from Los Angeles and arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on January 19, 2009.

We will be travelling on the Celebrity Cruise Line around New Zealand, ending our journey in Sydney, Australia on February 1.

Travel itinerary includes:
Auckland, New Zealand Day 1
The "City of Sails," known for its sparkling waters, bustling harbor and cosmopolitan flair, and an ideal spot for water sports and sailing.

Tauranga, New Zealand Day 2
Located at the entrance to one of the largest natural harbors in New Zealand and nestled beside magnificent Mount Maunganui.

Napier, New Zealand Day 4
Arguably one of the prettiest cities in New Zealand, with elegant art deco architecture,captivating beaches and award-wining vineyards.

Wellington, New Zealand Day 5
The cultural, commercial, cosmopolitan capital of New Zealand and home to one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.

Christchurch, New Zealand Day 6
New Zealand's "Garden City," featuring numerous parks and gardens as well as Victorian architecture, avenues and squares.

Dunedin, New Zealand Day 7
Dramatic scenery and some of the finest historic buildings in New Zealand, including remarkable architecture that reflects the city's Scottish roots.

Dusky Sound Day 8
One of three amazing sounds featured on most itineraries. The largest and most complex of the many fjords along this coast, with steep-sided cliffs and hundreds of cascading waterfalls.

Milford Sound, New Zealand Day 8
One of three amazing sounds featured on most itineraries. Situated within Fiordland National Park, part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site and surrounded by sheer rocks and lush forests.

Doubtful Sound Day 8
One of three amazing sounds featured on most itineraries. An unusual sound with two distinct layers of water: fresh mountain water atop cold,heavy, saline water teeming with remarkable deep-sea species.

Melbourne, Australia Day 11 Day 12
The capital of Victoria and Australia's second largest city. A cultural melting pot of Greek,Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese and Lebanese and host to major international events.

Sydney, Australia Day 14 Day 15
Among the world's most exciting cities with dazzling beaches and the Sydney Opera House, an architectural marvel and arguably the most recognizable performing arts venue.

This will be a tremendous opportunity to learn about another country, to play the addictive game of Scrabble, and to enjoy the summer weather of New Zealand and Australia. I am really looking forward to this trip. Hubby is staying home with the pups and keeping the home fires burning (his choice :o)

See you in a few weeks!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mending with Vintage Fabrics; Mending Hearts

Susan Cooke Kittredge, senior minister at the Old Meeting House, Vermont (daughter of Alistair Cook, whose “LETTER FROM AMERICA” was the longest-running commentary series in history.) Excerpted from “We ALL NEED MENDING” on THIS I BELIEVE, aired on National Public Radio in February, 2008, I would like to copy her writing here because I believe it to be valuable.

After reading through Kittredge's thoughts, I am posting a picture of my favorite work shirt which has been mended over many times with old linens. Each vintage piece incorporates beautiful embroidery work done many years ago by women whom I will never having the privilege of knowing.

by Susan Kittredge, taken from National Public Radio:
Like most women of her generation, my grandmother, whom I called Nonie, was an excellent seamstress. Born in 1879 in Galveston, Texas, she made most of her own clothes. Widowed at 43 and forced to count every penny, she sewed her three daughters' clothes and some of their children's, as well. I can knit but I cannot sew new creations from tissue-paper patterns. Whenever I try, I break out in a sweat and tear the paper. It clearly requires more patience, more math, more exactitude than I seem willing or capable of giving.

Recently, though, I have come to relish the moments when I sit down and, somewhat clumsily, repair a torn shirt, hem a skirt, patch a pair of jeans, and I realize that I believe in mending. The solace and comfort I feel when I pick up my needle and thread clearly exceeds the mere rescue of a piece of clothing. It is a time to stop, a time to quit running around trying to make figurative ends meet; it is a chance to sew actual rips together. I can't stop the war in Iraq,

I can't reverse global warming, I can't solve the problems of my community or the world, but I can mend things at hand. I can darn a pair of socks. Accomplishing small tasks, in this case saving something that might otherwise have been thrown away, is satisfying and, perhaps, even inspiring.

Mending something is different from fixing it. Fixing it suggests that evidence of the problem will disappear. I see mending as a preservation of history and a proclamation of hope. When we mend broken relationships, we realize that we're better together than apart, and perhaps even stronger for the rip and the repair.

When Nonie was 78 and living alone in a small apartment in New Jersey, a man smashed the window of her bedroom where she lay sleeping and raped her. It was so horrific, as any rape is, that even in our pretty open, highly verbal family, no one mentioned it. I didn't learn about it for almost five years. What I did notice, though, was that Nonie stopped sewing new clothes. All she did was to mend anything she could get her hands on as though she could somehow soothe the wound, piece back together her broken heart, soul and body by making sure that nothing appeared unraveled or undone as she had been.

Mending doesn't say, "This never happened." It says instead, as I believe the Christian cross does, "Something or someone was surely broken here, but with God's grace it will rise to new life." So too my old pajamas, the fence around the garden, the friendship torn by misunderstanding, a country being ripped apart by economic and social inequity and a global divide of enormous proportions — they all need mending.

I'm starting with the pajamas.

Each time I mend, I think of Susan Cooke Kittredge and her thoughtful commentary.

This is my work shirt that is in a constant state of "mending", because each time the shirt is washed, some of the vintage embroidery work frays. Those torn pieces are covered over with newer pieces of linens, be it hankies, pieces of antique tablecloths or napkins or even old table runners.

Just like the repairing of this shirt, I believe we are in a continual state of mending over wounds, be it in the loss of expectations or ways in which we have disappointed others and ourselves.

It is something to think about.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sharing Good Blogs

Many thanks to Swapna at her Cook and Craft blog for sending me a blog award. And when I opened an email yesterday, Cathy at Cate's Back Porch gave another. Thank you so much, Swapna and Cathy.

Reasons to receive blog recognition are:

... blogs who receive this award are exceedingly charming. This blog invests in the PROXIMITY in space, time and relationships. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that even more friendships are propagated". The award recognizes the quality of the person writing the blog. I consider your blog to one of the best. You take the time to provide enjoyable tutorials. You are a giving talented person and I decided other people should know!

The Noblesse award is presented to bloggers who display consistency in any one or a combination of these conditions:

1. The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervades amongst different cultures and beliefs.
2. The Blog contents inspire; it strives to encourage and offers solutions.
3. There is a clear purpose at the Blog; one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Culture and Sciences, and Beliefs.
4. The Blog is refreshing and creative.
5. The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.
The Blogger who receives this Award will need to perform the following steps:

1. Create a Post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.
2. The Award Conditions must be displayed at the Post.
3. Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved- preferably citing one or more older post to support.
4. The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award Conditions.
5. The Blogger must display the Award at any location at the Blog.

Nancy's arts and crafts is about creativity and making crafts. I try to research "how to" tips and give credit back to the people who have also found ways to use their talents in cooking, reading, crafts of all sorts, and artistic endeavors. I like to research the internet and give references to websites that are meaningful to the referenced subject.

Examples of some of my recent posts incorporating the above criteria are:

how to make beads-and-sequin-ornamental balls

Thank you so much, Swapna and Cathy, for the awards. The deal is that I may now share the honors by linking to a few other interesting blogs. Just copy the pictures of the awards and pass along according to the rules to play in blogland. I'm passing the awards along to the following blogs written by the thoughtful, talented people:

freeprintablefun (Jamie Sue)
Cast-on blog
Mama Flo's

Friday, January 9, 2009

Making Knitting Markers Using Beads and Acorns

In a previous post about making knitting markers from beads, and with references given on a previous post, these colorful markers were made with beads and wires.

Having recently returned from South Carolina visiting with my daughter and her husband, we picked up lots of acorns from around the area. Many acorns were perfectly separated from the seeds, and looked like little leprechaun hats.

Although it is not a new idea, I decided to glue several atop a few wooden knitting needles, using Sculpey or Fimo clay and regular craft glue to hold them on securely.

The steps to making the acorn topped knitting needles are:

1) Choose your needles (NOT double points);
2) put a bit of malleable molding clay atop the end of the head, ensuring the acorn cap will easily fit over it after baking;
3) bake the clay on the needles according to directions on the clay (about 25 min.);
4) let the knitting needles cool, then adhere the acorns atop the clay with any good crafting glue.

Here is a pictures of the finished product using size 11 knitting needles :

This is an inexpensive craft, and one children will enjoy. You can read about a first grade teacher's project she accomplished several years ago with her students at Burrobird Blogspot. The children even made their own bamboo knitting needles. By now, some of them are possibly accomplished knitters, having been inspired to make their own tools.

Good job, Burrobird!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

mp3 holders or Cell Phone Neck Holsters

Over your shoulder or around your neck, these knit pouches are handy to hold keys, lipstick, and your cell phone or MP3 player. Off you go on a walk or quick trip to the grocery.

These little pouches can be used in many ways. Vary the dimensions according to your needs. (I made seven of them in different sizes!) Women's clothing is notoriously poor for providing pockets, so you might need to resort to making this as your own "pocket" to wear around your neck.

Materials: any DK weight yarn, ribbon yarns and purchased broaches and fur yarns for embellishment. A half ball of yarn makes a small pouch; size 6 or 7 dp needles; broaches for embellishment (optional)
Directions are provided at Fig and Plum.

For a long strap, you might want to try this simple technique described in Elizabeth Zimmerman's instructions to make the handle termed Idiot Cord I-cord. They are fun to make and can be used for a variety of purposes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Epiphany and our Wedding Anniversary

My husband Gene, on his blog today, composed a collage of pictures of us from childhood and through the past nineteen years of our marriage. It is shared here.

We chose to marry on Epiphany for many reasons,
The term epiphany means "to show" or "to make known" or even "to reveal." In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King.
but the symbolism for me was most apparent in that I was given a special gift of a wonderful husband on this day in 1990.
Let each day bring a new awakening. Happy Anniversary, Gene!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dogs and a Bewildered Toad

In review of 2008 videos, this one was not posted. Remember all the greenery and warm weather, now that winter cold is upon us?

Music is by Iris DeMent.

Leg Warmers to Knit or Crochet

A comment left today on my blog asked for some help on finding a pattern for crocheting leg warmers. Now that it is winter, maybe this website is one you would like to visit, too. The pattern is also converted for knitting if that is your mojo.

(photo courtesy of vanillabeanknits) on Flickr.

Here is the website and the directions follow from their webpage: Legwear:
These leg warmers will be most appreciated in the dead of winter when temperatures plummet and winds wail, but be sure to have them crocheted and ready to wear.

Directions are given for size 9-11. You will need two 4 ounce, skeins of 4 ply yarn and sizes I and K crochet hooks.

Gauge: 3 hdc equal 1 inch

Starting at lower edge with smaller hook, ch 30, join with sl st to form ring, ch 2, do not turn.
Row 1: Sc in each ch, join with sl st in top of ch-2, ch 2, do not turn.
Rows 2 through 8: Repeat Row 1.
Row 9: With larger hook, ch 2, hdc in each sc across, join with sl st in top of ch-, ch 2, turn.
Repeat Row 9 to length desired, after last sl st, fasten off
Knitting pattern: "I didn't really use a pattern, I just used a little math and knit a 1 x 1 rib. I kept knitting until they were long enough to stretch up to my thighs if cold weather required." Courtesy of VanillabeanKnits

Thursday, January 1, 2009

How to Make Japanese Knotted Bags (borrowed instructions)

A few months ago, I was looking for a quick purse to make from fabric and came across an excellent tutorial created by Helen in New Zealand. Her complete instructions, including nice photos of her Japanese print bags, can be found at Japanese-knot-bag.

Only two fat quarters (if you are not a quilter, one fat quarter equates to very little fabric) are required to make this bag (photo courtesy of Helen):

She says about her shop where she sells hand crafted items:
Welcome to Show Your Workings. I like to recycle and re-purpose. I mostly work with fabric but also collect and sell vintage patterns and haberdashery. I'm trying to live a sustainable life in New Zealand with a small footprint, craft is a way of living sustainably and inventively (that's my excuse anyway!). I also write and blog at
Thanks for stopping by and supporting NZ handmade.
Her online shop can be accessed at Helen's Etsy Shop.

The process for sewing the purse looked so intriguing that I just had to try it. I am not finished with my Japanese knotted bags, but here is a photo of three sets of coordinating fabrics that will be used to make three different bags:

A couple of coordinating face pins in my jewelry stash will be added to the sides of the purses when the sewing step is completed.

One idea that I added to Helen's instructions for making the Japanese-knot-bag is this: use the plastic that comes atop any 2 lb. coffee can as the insert for the bottom of the bag. You will not even have to cut the plastic, because it is exactly the same size as the pattern piece. And you will be recycling plastic and going green.

If you are looking for another type bag to sew, you can go to another quick tutorial on making shopping bags at Free Crafts:Shopping-bag.

The entire cost of making one Japanese knotted bag was less than $5, including newly purchased fabric. They are the perfect size for holding a small knitting project, or just your car keys and a lipstick.

If you make one of these bags, please send me a picture of it, and I will post it on a future blog. Thanks!