Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Granny Square on Steroids

The first granny square was addictive, once I got the hang of simple crochet.  9 inches square (it is supposed to be square, that is, although it looks a bit wobbly around the perimeter):

Whilst watching tv, the little 9 inch square looked up and said "FEED ME".  Really.

So back to the craft closet for odds and ends of yarn, and more crocheting.  It will end up an afghan because it just keeps growing.

It is abour two feet square now and continuing to add girth.  It is eating up wool, acrylic, possum fur, and every blended fiber in my stash. 

Even without vitamins, it is growing like a weed.

The pattern can be found here under Heirloom Stitches.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Picasa Web Album Photos

Just found that Google has an inbed code for pictures that are uploaded to their albums. 

Here are pictures from October (167 total) from London, Bath and Wales (Cardiff, mostly, and some in Tenby)

CRAFTLIT TOUR 2010 (London, Bath, Wales)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Apple Dumplings

You probably think that all thoughts of dessert the day before Thanksgiving in the US are on pumpkin pie. 

But this is what I'm going to do in a few minutes for breakfast (don't scold about the calories, ok?): apple dumplings.

This recipe is so easy and I love the syrup that covers the apple dumplings.  The weird part is that canned soda pop is added before cooking.
Here is the recipe and video from FoodTv:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Free Fonts (monthly) at Outside the Line

Wow.  Outside -the -Line, written by Rae, Justine and Nancy V., offers a free font of the month if you sign up for their monthly newsletter.

Here is the example page of their November font give away, called Holiday Doodles, found at this webpage.

A fun new free toy to work with !!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Stewardship of Pain

You probably have a book, or poem, letter or picture you sometimes review to keep your focus on what is important in your life.

I would like to share this missile with universal meaning. These are excerpts from a sermon by Fredrick Buchner, whose "many books include the critically acclaimed The Sacred Journey, Whistling in the Dark, and Godric, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times has called Fred Buechner the finest religious writer in America."  (Source: 30 Good Minutes)

The Physician, Pablo Ruiz (Ciencia Y Caridad, Barcelona, 1816-1897)

Someone once said to Buchner:

"You have had a fair amount of pain in your life, like everybody else. You have been a good steward of it."
That phrase caught me absolutely off guard -- to be a steward of your pain. I didn't hear it as a compliment particularly. It is not as if I had set out to be a steward of my pain, but rather something that happened.
I thought a lot about what the stewardship of pain means; the ways in which we deal with pain. Beside being a steward of it, there are alternatives. The most tempting is to forget it, to hide it, to cover it over, to pretend it never happened, because it is too hard to deal with.
Buechner goes on...
Stewardship of pain. What does that mean? I have thought a lot about it. I think it means, before anything else, to keep in touch with your pain, to keep in touch with the sad times, with the hard times of your past for many reasons. I think it is often those times when we were most alive, when we were somehow closest to being most vitally human beings. 
Keep in touch with it because it is at those moments of pain where you are most open to the pain of other people -- most open to your own deep places. Keep in touch with those sad times because it is then that you are most aware of your own powerlessness, crushed in a way by what is happening to you, but also most aware of God's power to pull you through it, to be with you in it. Keeping in touch with your pain, I think, means also to be true to who in your depths you have it in you to be -- depths of pain and also in a way depths of joy, because they both come from the same place.
Pain can become a treasure if we treasure it to the point where it can become compassion and healing, not just for ourselves, but also for other people. If you want to see that sort of thing in operation, the treasuring of pain, the using of pain to the healing of yourself and others, someday attend an open meeting of AA or any of the related groups. That is exactly what those people are doing, sharing their hurts, their experiences and their joys.
And remember the cross. It seems to me that the cross of Christ in a way speaks somewhat like this same word, saying that out of that greatest pain endured in love and faithfulness, comes the greatest beauty and our greatest hope.
Read the entire writing of Fredrick Buchner here at 30 Good Minutes.  It is good to remember.

Better yet, listen to his sermon on your computer by clicking on his recording back in 1992.  It can be found at the top of the website.  His voice is comforting yet authoritative.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

William and Kate: How about their Future?

There are mixed reviews as for the future of William and Kate's life.

Here is China's Report from fortune telling prognosticators: (bleak)

What will they name their children? (Harry, Rose)

Will Princess Diana affect their marriage? (she will)

How much will the wedding cost? ($15 M)

What is the benefit to the UK in monetary terms relating to this union? (620 M pounds...over $100 M)
It is no wonder that Prime Minister David Cameron was thrilled at the news stating that: "This is a great day for our country, a great day for the Royal Family and obviously a great day for Prince William and Kate. As well as this being a great moment for national celebration”

Cha Ching!
When Princess Diane and Prince Charles married thirty years ago, daughter Julie stayed up all night to watch their televised wedding.  I wonder if she will do the same for William and Catherine.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Complementary Colors and Fibers

New color books on my bookshelf and a few older ones helped me prepare for a new fiber project.  Color books speak a different perspective on choosing a color palette, helping me define a new project in color choices I don't usually gravitate to.

Taking one of my oil paintings in purples, blues and greens and going to the color wheel for assistance, new yarn was purchased to make an afghan of granny squares.  This is ambitious as 18 skeins of yarn were purchased from Knit Picks.
Identifying the colors in the painting, I found these yarns at Knit Picks online.

On the color wheel, complementary colors are directly across from one another in the circle. Example: choosing the color red, its complementary color is green. Split Complementary Colors are "one off" from the opposite color. The split complements of red are the two colors on either side of the complementary color. Using this information, playing with the colors in making yarn selections opens up a whole new world from simply choosing one or two of your favorite colors for project work.

Here are the two books that I will be referencing to make the afghan from those 18 yarn skeins.  It will never be boring as there are 200 patterns, all the same size, that will keep this handwork ever changing.

The first book, 200 Crochet Blocks, is a gem.
First, the good: all of the blocks are designed to be the same size, so you can mix and match them as you please. This is a considerable help. I have a number of vintage crochet-block books from the 60s and 70s, and none of the blocks are the same size, so it takes a lot of tweaking for each block if you want to make an afghan.
Not so when starting from scratch, making each square the same dimensions and allowing for a uniform size.

The second book, Knitter's Yarn Palette, had a fun color wheel made of yarn to illustrate the use of the color wheel when choosing yarns:
Webs has this explanation of Knitter's Yarn Palette on its website:
This unique book explains everything there is to know about weight, gauge, texture, and the suitability of mixing yarns using a wide range of 30 projects that revolve around 10 themes including: Seashores, delicate shades of sky and sand, string, cotton, and linen yarns, ripple-effect techniques. Lazy Meadow, grassy green, poppy red, buttercup yellow, soft, silky, velvety yarns, ruffling and layering techniques. Tribal Adventure, earth tones, linen, wools, and felted yarns, felting techniques.
The washable and soft woolen yarns are a feast to the eyes and will definitely brighten up the coming dark winter days as I work with them.

handmade projects

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Husband

Today marks another birthday for my husband

The dogs in our house gave him several presents: a box of fish crackers (they really like them), a pair of boxer shorts with dogs on them, and a new dog toy already named "Gramps" by the maufacturer:

Gramps has a cane, a hat, squeaks when you touch him on his belly, and comes with an attitude. Just like my husband when he takes the dogs on their daily walk!!

CharmingPetProducts put this on the label:
Grampa Gimpy Hip was born in the old country, although he can't quite recall which country that was exactly.  Most of his day is spent entertaining young chicken whippersnappers with stories of yesteryear, the vast majority of which are wildly inaccurate and historically impossible...(more)
This is my 500th post, and it seemed proper to mark it with Gene's birthday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shalom Cardigan and a Sturdy Knit Edging

This cap sleeve cardigan, knit in chunky weight wool, was a very easy knit and had just enough variation in stitches to make it interesting.  It is a free Ravelry download and is called the Shalom Cardigan.  Designer Meghan McFarlane says of this design:
Shalom is a simple knitted cardigan with a striking appearance. This triple-yoked sweater is seamlessly knit in the round, top down, with a single button closure. The cap sleeves bow out slightly from the body to create a more dramatic shape.
On McFarlane's page on Ravelry, a picture of the Shalom Cardigan:

Paula, The Knitting Piper, pod caster and blogger, explained a different way to bind off stitches and I incorporated it into the Shalom Cardigan for the sleeve and bottom edges.  It is both more attractive and sturdier than any other bind off method I have used.  Here are her instructions:
My Favorite Edging for Nearly Everything
Knit to the next to the last stitch.
Yarn forward and leave it there.
Slip last stitch.
Turn work.
Knit into back of first stitch.
Then continue to slip over that stitch which you have knit into the back, creating the bind off.

Close up of the bound off edge: (disregard the blue background)

My modified and finished Shalom:

The picture is too dark and I really should have ironed that turtle neck for the picture.  Oh, well.

...here is the actual yarn color:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocates

Long time friend Sharon in Dallas encouraged me to pursue CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteerism this summer when we visited over iced tea and salads.  I had been thinking of this for some time, knowing the great need for CASA volunteers in Mesa County, Colorado.  But Sharon spurred me on to start the process of child advocacy due to her commitment as a Dallas County CASA.
Here is more about CASA in Mesa County from their website:and from the Dallas Morning News:
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Mesa County (CASA-MC), recruits, screens, and trains volunteers to speak in court on behalf of children who are abused, neglected or abandoned by their families. These volunteers are the eyes and ears of the Judge. Judges, make the final decision of where a child will live. Will the child be returned to the parent or will parental rights be terminated and the child be placed for adoption. This decision is influenced by the information the volunteer provides to a Judge and could be a major determining factor in the future of that child.
Casa means home, but for thousands of abused and neglected children, it's an acronym that has even more meaning – it's the best chance of finally finding safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.
A CASA volunteer performs these functions on behalf of the child who comes under the court system because of neglect or abuse:
  • investigates the needs and situation of the child...
  • has regular, in-person contact with the child sufficient to have in-depth knowledge of the case
  • makes fact-based recommendations to the court
  • seeks cooperative solutions by acting as a facilitator among conflicting parties
  • advocates for the best interest of the child, including providing reports that include findings and recommendations
  • files interim court reports of important developments in the case
  • advocates for the child's interests in the community by interfacing with mental health, educational and other community systems to assure that the child's needs in these areas are met
  • monitors implementation of service plans and court orders, assuring that court-ordered services are implemented in a timely manner and that review hearing are held in accordance with the law
  • participates in all scheduled case conferences with supervisory staff
  • participates in in-service training
  • maintains complete records about the case, including appointments, interviews and information gathered ab out the child and the child's life circumstances
  • records volunteer hours and submits times sheet to program office
  • maintains strict confidentiality on all cases
  • complies with all applicable statutory requirements pertaining to confidentiality of client information  (from volunteer training manual)
This list may look exhaustive, but as with other worthwhile efforts, much satisfaction can be derived from giving of your time and talents.

 To whom much is given is much required. [Luke 12:48

John F Kennedy : For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by ...

More than a dozen of us will be sworn in as CASA representatives on November 15, 2010 by the Honorable David Bottger, Chief Judge of the 21st Judicial District in Mesa County, Colorado.

In Mesa County, contact 970-242-4191 or email to casamc@wic.net for further information about how you might become a CASA advocate. (Children from birth to six years of age are the age group under the "expedited permanency planning process" in most states.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Falling Leaves

My blogger friend Alina at the purple caravan showed this picture first.  I grabbed it.

Image from Bing

Here is some music to go along with it:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Knitting Conversation with Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Graphic assistance and creativity by brother Chuck McCarroll.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Sound of Onions Frying

I've become interested in sounds, thanks to Felix at her PhD blogsite.  She is studying sounds in Oxford, England.  She says, in part:
I am studying for my PhD at Oxford Brookes University. My PhD title is ‘The Domestic Soundscape and presenting everyday sounds to audiences,’ and my major interest is in our imaginative relationship with everyday sounds. I think of sound in a very material way, as a substance which is around us all the time, and a texture which can be played with, deliberately listened-to, framed, and celebrated.
I think the world would feel completely different without the constant wash of traffic, the chorus of birdsong, the snap of twigs when one walks in the woods, the happy pops that emanate from an open fire, the comforting drone of a boiler heating the house in Winter, the bubble of a stew when one is hungry, and the rasp of toast as it is being buttered. I love the busy murmur of the streets on a Saturday morning, the aggressive banging and hissing of a really good espresso machine in a coffee house, the pinging of pedestrian light-systems signalling that it is safe to cross a road, the strange noise my car makes when I drive over a cattle-grid, and the sizzle of pylons in a rainstorm.
Saturday nights are a favorite radio listening date night for my husband and me since we listen to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion (PHC).  And this sound is one which makes me happy (click on arrow to listen):

Why does it make me smile?  Because the opening song for many productions of PHC contains the lyric "I smell the onions, I look around for you."  It is a familiar phrase, and I have been known to sing along with it as my husband often sautes some onions for a dinner sauce.

Go to the London Favorite Sounds website for more information about sounds.  (The project is also being carried out in Chicago, USA, Berlin, Germany and Bejing, China).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dylan Thomas and a few Pictures from Laugharne, Wales

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) Poet
Hometown: Laugharne, Wales

Thirty-one Craftlit fans (thank you, Heather Ordover found here and here and here and here and thank you, Holiday Tour Guide Dianne Read-Jackson) saw Dylan Thomas' hometown, house, and boathouse in Laugharne, Wales.  His boathouse was where he wrote and spent the better part of his days.

A bit about Thomas:
Dylan Thomas, often described as a "classic Welsh writer", never actually learned the Welsh language himself. Though he achieved much notoriety during his short life, he received little financial gain. It was only after his death that his work truly began to be appreciated. There is no doubt, however, that he is one of the great English (language) poets of the twentieth century, arguably the greatest poet of our time. Dylan Thomas' incredible use of metaphor, meter, and a comic wit, allows his work to stand alone, balancing a reckless neo-Romantic sensuality against the more staid Puritanism of his time and culture. Thomas' lust for life and love of drink may well have contributed to his premature demise, yet his work remains, a testament to both his skill and mastery of The Word.
Are you familiar with this?  It is a quick reading by Dylan Thomas himself of one of his more notable works:

Dylan Thomas - Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Uploaded by poetictouch. - Watch original web videos.

The stage play, Under Milkwood, was a mystery to me when I was first assigned it as a class project in a 20th century literature class.  So I bought the CD (an original New York recording from 1953 which Thomas narrates himself).  His voice is unique (yes, an understatement) and I get lost in his voice, but with a little concentration, it becomes more understandable with its mischievous use of language.


Peter Ffrench, tour guide extraordinaire, gives a blessing to Craftlit travelers at the end of our journey. Peter is a retired actor with a flair for the dramatic.  He was knowledgeable, friendly and a true extrovert who was thoroughly loved by all of us.

This 30 second mp3 file is definitely worth a listen, although it was recorded on a noisy tour bus.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Homemade Tomato Soup

For all these years, homemade tomato soup was not in my recipe file.  When you have good ol' Campbell's Tomato Soup in the can, why bother, right?  But friend Shirley convinced me that after I made tomato soup with garden vegetables, I'd be convinced it was worth the bother.

And Shirley supplied 6 orangish-yellowish heirloom tomatoes.

The how-to:

Peel 6 tomatoes by putting in boiling water for a minute. Retrieve, cool a bit and the skins fall off.
Saute 1/2 an onion in olive oil in one pan while the tomatoes are cooking on the stove top in another sauce pan.

Add 1 Tbsp sugar to the tomatoes

Make a quick roux by adding some flour into butter and stir along with some water until thick. You'll add this at the last to help the soup thicken.
Combine the onions to the tomatoes and then the roux and cook it all til thickened. Either dump into a blender or use an immersion blender to blend on top of the stove, leaving a few tomato chunks for texture.

Now add 1/8 tsp. baking soda, but don't ask me why.
Then add 1 can of evaporate milk to the soup and heat until it is hot, but DON'T BOIL the milk.  Salt and pepper and croutons on top!!
I'll make this again, especially if Shirley provides the tomatoes!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Watercolor on Heavy Canvas Paper

Several weights of watercolor paper are in my stash, ready to be used for painting with tubed watercolors.

This newly finished "PANSY in BLUES" was painted onto 170 lb. canvas paper.

A thorough explanation of why various weights of paper are used for watercolors can be found here.

If anyone with camera expertise can tell me how to get that flash blur off the glass reflection, please let me know.  I did take the flash off, but then the colors did not show through the glass.

Framed and matted, 9" x 12":

Monday, November 1, 2010

Remembering Rivka

Rivka, an amazing, generous, loving, faithful, Zionist (blogger friend) who went to Israel a while back, wrote a post Called "Choose Life" that can be found here.  She believed so much in fighting that dreaded disease of cancer that she made herself available to speak publicly about how to treat adversity while continuing to live the good life.  Rivka has several YouTube videos that can be viewed here and here and here and here.

In her words, on her blog, she says about herself:
Diagnosed with DCIS (stage ZERO breast cancer) at age 39 (June 2005). Three surgeries and 2 years later (July 2007)... I became a statistical anomaly: breast cancer mysteriously metastasized to my bones, liver and lungs. 2 years later (July 2009), we discovered metastases in my brain.

Diagnosis: Cancer is a "chronic illness." You can live with it.Translation: I hope to be on chemotherapy for a LONG time!
Sadly, Rivka's battle ended this weekend.  Her many friends sat Shiva for her and her funeral was Saturday night at 10 pm in Jerusalem at the Kehillat Yerushalayim Beit Hesped in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, across from the Herzog Hospital (on Har Hamenuchot). Over 1000 people attended.  Loudspeakers allowed those outside the building to hear tributes to Rivka.

To learn more about Rivka and her strong faith, I would encourage you readers to go to her blog and read over her past few years of writing and encouragement.  Her blog can be accessed at http://www.coffeeandchemo.blogspot.com/ if you are not used to clicking on links.  Again, the web link is the same: CoffeeandChemo.

I did not know Rivka personally, but she had a very positive impact on my life.  Likewise, here is what Baila, another virtual blogger friend, said (go to Baila's blog here):
Some of my friends think this whole blogging relationship is just plain weird. They wonder why I talk to "strangers". They don't quite understand why I am so saddened by a death of someone who, in their mind, I barely knew. It's hard to explain to you non-bloggers. I don't quite understand it myself. But after blogging for some time, we find that the lines of our real and blogging lives somehow blur. RivkA wrote so honestly about her disease and her struggle that I feel like I did know her. I will miss her--I checked her blog daily, even before the last week. She posted almost everyday.
Baila said it well and I agree with her sentiments.

Rivka ended almost all of her postings this way:
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism, RivkA

(June, 2009)

I believe this is what her friends say now and may I also say that her battle is over and Rivka, may you rest in peace.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya.