Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

As seen here:
Detail of people drinking, from a treatise on the Seven Vices, Add MS 27695, f. 14r

A picture above of revelers from the past making merry in their own way.  For us, champagne at home and asleep way before that ball descends in Times Square.

Three loads of fabric including linens and clothing in the trunk of the car for a Good Will run, house cleaned, and soup about to be cooked.  That is my New Year's Eve, in a nutshell.

This is a five star recipe from Alton Brown from Food Network.  I am hungry already.  Lunch soon.

What are your evening plans, if I may ask?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Thread Painting, Needle Painting

There is nothing new under the sun.  That Old Testament saying definitely applies to what I though was a "new" technique of painting with thread.  And here I thought that drawing my pup with embroidery stitches was going to be a state of the art gift for my husband.

Several years ago I painted our nine year old shih tzu Mercy, and the husband has been asking for a companion piece of our eight year old dog Libby Sweetpea to hang up in his office over his computer.

Mercy in Oils, 2006

So I decided to try and embroider the second dog using just threads to make her portrait (as a surprise Christmas present).

Half way through the project of stitching Libby Sweetpea's face in white wool threads, I found all sorts of references to thread painting.  Even an e book is available free from Quilting Daily entitled The Art of Thread Sketching: Free Thread Drawing and Thread Painting Techniques.  Just join Quilting Daily and you can download the book without charge (no charge to join Quilting Arts, either)  Excerpted from that e book:
Think of thread as you would paint: you can make dots, smooth strokes,or long, sinuous curves. Like paint,you can apply thread sparingly or very heavily.  Going over an area with several layers of thread can create wonderful texture, but you need to make sure our surface is sufficiently stabilized to support these layers without puckering. 

Pinterest has beautiful images of thread work, but does not allow for copying of their images.  If you log in, you can see stunning needlework pinned by others under the category of "needle painting" or "thread painting."

Here is a half baked version of Libby, and no, it was not completed in time for Christmas.  Still need to work on her eyes, nose and little buck tooth.

Wonder if Libby approves so far?

Updated December 30, 2014 (yes, after Christmas)...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fair Isle Knit Socks and More

Phew.  Those fair isle socks (only two yarn colors per row, knit intermittently while holding the opposing color in the back of the knitting) are complete.

What with all the self striping sock yarns now available, I doubt if anyone other than an experienced knitter could tell that the technique used in whipping up these socks was indeed "fair isle" knitting.

Alas, one of the women from the Shetland Fair Isle Knitting Guild (link here for information and pictures) (link here for more pictures) (and also here for a knitting workshop blog post) would be able to differentiate and critique this knitting.  They could right away spot my errors.

But I continue working on the technique and do have a bit of prior fair isle knitting under my belt:

(Our Mercy)
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing kit by Sandra Manson and Kate Davies, using all nine shades of 2 ply Shetland Supreme wool yarns from various types of sheep on Shetland) .. kit available here

Now I have the bright idea of trying to create a portion of this picture in fair isle knitting, along with reference help from the Book of Fair Isle Knitting by Alice Starmore. 

Giovanni Battista di Jacopo (Italian Mannerist painter, 1494–1540), known as Rosso Fiorentino (meaning the Red Florentine in Italian) Angel with Lute Madonna dello Spedalingo

If I can graph this out correctly ensuring the shading on the cherub, it should be a year long knitting project taking a lot of patience and many shades of yarn. Pinterest has some graphing aides, along with Starmore's book.  There are very few Renaissance needlepoint kits with angels, and none that I could unearth on the internet linking angels, Renaissance and knitting.  If you know of any such kits, including needlepoint, please leave me a comment as it would save lots of time if I could find a kit readily available.

Linking with Ginny's Yarn Along this Wednesday.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Now is the Third Sunday in Advent

One of my favorite Christian authors, Fredrick Buechner, writes of the advent season in a personal manner that sets me pondering on thoughts sometimes outside the usual realm of a spiritual Christmas.  He writes about the ugliness in me (yes, I personalize that ugliness for it is in me, not necessarily in you).

Buechner talks about our faults, our sinful ways, our selfishness, our arrogance.  He has a way of revealing all our human flaws, yet reminding us that God actually loves us.  And that every fault in our beings that is wrong, just wrong, is most certainly known by God.  But He keeps on loving us because grace is there, a present, a real Christmas present, that He gives us just for the asking.

With over thirty books written by Buechner (link here to his website), he has a way of unveiling grace to us, making it alive even in our somewhat sin-disguised and tawdry lives.

Episcopalian Rev. Barbara Taylor Brown said in a speech what fans of Buechner have always believed about his writings:
From you, I have learned that language itself is revelatory, with power to ignite hearts, move mountains, and save lives. 
From you, I have learned that the good news is not the cheerful news but the dismantling news of what it is like both to love and to betray the Holy One who has given me life, only to hear the saving question asked anew, for the umpteenth time, “You, you child of mine, Do you love me?”
This is what Christmas is about: the opening up of God's love to me, even me.  Such a powerful present, and it is there just for the asking.  Imagine.

From Whistling in the Dark:
The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen.
You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you've never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart.
The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of you somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.
It is Advent.  I am enjoying my candles, my Mother and Child icons, and perhaps holding my breath, just a little. And opening up that present called "grace".

Join with Angela and others in blogging about Advent.  Here is the link.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December Happenings

One of the blog feeds that comes to me daily is that of BJWS. Her blog is entitled "It's About Time," a reference to the many essays and pictures she posts from various historical eras.

BJ posted a picture several days ago that I will try to paint in oils for future Christmas display.  It is from the 13th or 14th century, and depicts angels and lutes.  The colors are vibrant.  It just "feels" like Christmas.

Mariotto de Nardo (1394-1424) Virgin and Child, Detail Angel musicians

We shall see if I can do it any justice.  It may be personal hubris to even try to recreate this angelic scene, but if seeking to paint with humility, realizing one's small talent, and/or simply trying to make a spiritual feel in one's home is hubris, so be it.  The quest continues.

Other than trying to keep down a persistent cough and struggling with viruses in both body and computer, I have been knitting intarsia socks.  Have you tried TOFUtsies sock yarn?  It is partially made from wool, soysilk and Chitin (made from shrimp and crab shells, a marketing gimmick that tells the fiber has naturally antibacterial properties).  It sold me. And the price point is practically a give away.  After waiting with bated breath over the weekend, this came in the mail yesterday,  The TOFUtsies yarn was even packaged in a little happy net bag with a silk ribbon drawstring.

This is one Salsa Sock in progress, found on Ravelery here.

Next month, I am looking forward to attending a women's writing retreat taught by Sandra Dorr and Susan Crosby.  If you google Sandra in Grand Junction, you will find out that she is an author, teacher, artist, and all around Renaissance woman.  Susan, a yoga teacher, likely has similar credentials.  All the information about the retreat can be found at this link. It will be held at the Redstone Inn in mountainous Colorado.

This is a teaser on the above link that caught my eye:

“You are perfect just as you are. And you could
use a little improvement.”
Suzuki Roshi

More history and lovely photographs of The Redstone Inn, an historic mining community built in the late 1800's, can be found here.   Come join in the wilderness experience!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday in Advent: Questions for Angels

A pilgrim on a pilgrimage
Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge
His sneakers torn
In the hour when the homeless move their cardboard blankets
And the new day is born
Folded in his backpack pocket
The questions that he copied from his heart
Who am I in this lonely world?
And where will I make my bed tonight?
When twilight turns to dark

Questions for the angels
Who believes in angels?
Fools do
Fools and pilgrims all over the world

If you shop for love in a bargain store
And you don't get what you bargained for
Can you get your money back?
If an empty train in a railroad station
Calls you to it's destination
Can you choose another track?
Will I wake up from these violent dreams
With my hair as white as the morning moon?

Questions for the angels
Who believes in angels?
I do
Fools and pilgrims all over the world

Downtown Brooklyn
The pilgrim is passing a billboard
That catches his eye
It's Jay-Z
He's got a kid on each knee
He's wearing clothes that he wants us to try

If every human on the planet and all the buildings on it
Should disappear
Would a zebra grazing in the African Savannah
Care enough to shed one zebra tear?
Questions for the angels

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank The Lord

It now being the early morning of Thanksgiving Day in the USA, it came to mind the phrase "thank the Lord".  I can clearly hear my grandmother saying those words even though it has been three decades since she has gone to her eternal reward.   Mom usually said that phrase in an off-the-cuff manner and, most often, in such a quiet tone that only she was meant to hear.

So now, thank the Lord, I am sitting in a warm house, in front of a cozy fire, hot coffee nearby, hoping you are looking at your day ahead with a grateful heart and praying you are counting your blessings, as well.
We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to his name: He forgets not his own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!
We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
Traditional Thanksgiving Hymn
(A translation by Theodore Baker: 1851-1934)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Eclectic Linking Around the Web

Some interesting links over the past week have given me pause and wonderment.  Perhaps you might like to investigate.

Annemieke Mein and her intricate needlework, with a full presentation of her artistry celebrating the natural world through textiles, and this photograph courtesy of MrXStitch, Also take a look here for more of the background on Ms. Mein.  That website says
The book The Art of Annemieke Mein: Wildlife Artist in Textiles illustrates more than thirty major fabric sculptures she has worked on in exquisite detail, and her art has appeared in galleries all over the world.

A quick holiday pumpkin mousse pie with excellent taste and little effort, found here courtesy of Crunchy Creamy Sweet.  Such a happy little surprise created from this recipe, and I even put a dollop of the mousse in my coffee this morning for an autumnal taste.

For legwarmers, Purl Soho gives a pattern that I liberally modified to make a striped pair similar to the ones shown on Pinterest.  Except I used only one shade of red and four shades of grey and blue/grey to make these:

Felicity Ford has a series of articles about designing a yarn, accessed here.

Also, Sounds of Wool, courtesy of Felicity Ford.  I met Felicity on a fiber tour to England with Heather Ordover and the crew of Craftlit in 2010 while we visited London, Bath and Wales.  All those photographs of that trip are here on the Google Plus Album.

And speaking of Heather Ordover, she said this yesterday:
CraftLit starts a new book! 
Busy? Miss your reading time? Wish you’d read the classics but found them dull in school? stick a book in your ear! 
Audiobook with Benefits. For the remainder of each episode the host, Heather Ordover, will talk you through the tricky bits of these classic books so you don’t get flummoxed. After the heads-up you’ll listen to the chapter.
(I began listening to Heather and her classic books about ten years ago.  All books are read by volunteers.  Heather gives information along the way, making it fun to listen and learn.  All readings are archived for easy access.)

Take a look at Cape Candle.  This company makes scented candles that do not lose their aroma even after hours of use.  The Swan Creek candles last a long time and are worth their purchase price.

That is enough for today regarding the web. Did I tell you the husband made a delicious french onion soup last night to go along with that pumpkin mousse pie?  Now I did.  (He used the method of layering six sliced onions along with salt between the layers of onions, sweating them in an electric skillet for twenty minutes, caramelizing the onions, with hint courtesy of Alton Brown of Good Eats.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Scrabble Update

Our 19 day Scrabble tour, cruise and tournament ended aboard the Celebrity Equinox yesterday while sailing past Nassau.  Can you figure out who was the third place winner acting truly surprised?  I even won money!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

From Tenerife in the Canary Islands

Tour bus taking our group around the island stopped and could not start again, so am taking this chance while at McDonald's to post a picture from this island where mangos, avocados and bananas grow in abundance.  A banana grove is on the lower right hand side of the picture behind the trees.  Beautiful place!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Palma De Mallorca

Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Travel to Mallorca’s north coast to explore the picturesque village of Valldemossa. Nestled in the hills of the Tramuntana range, Valldemossa has long been a source of inspiration for famous writers, artists, musicians, and philosophers including Polish composer Frederic Chopin. Visit the ancient La Cartuja Monastery, originally built as a royal hunting lodge and later inhabited by Carthusian monks.

A three dimensional sculpture on the 14th floor of the Equinox ship, Celebrity line.

Another bus tour of the city today.  Valldemossa is the mountain town the tour visited.  It was the home of composer Chopin and author George Sand.  A local village pianist performed fifteen minute concerts for tourists, Chopin works of course.

We visited La Cartusa monastery in the mountain town of Valldemossa.  The monastery is said to have been constructed in 1399.  The monks had their own pharmacy of healing herbs.  It was dark in the monastery, and the pharmacy was lit by candles.   There was a smell of mustiness.   The ancient potery and glassware on wooden shelves held the monks' medicines.

Then on to Valencia, Spain

From the art museum in Valencia.  This was a painting in the museum, about twelve feet wide by eight feet, located in the foyer.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Malaga, Spain

Inside The Malaga Cathedral:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Barcelona on Monday Market Day

Busy market in Barcelona, open Mondays through Saturdays.  Maureen and I were there Monday morning and we purchased marzipan candies for her cake decorations.  One of her varied careers was a restaurant and tea shop owner, so she knows the business of making foods look enticing.  She purchased watermelon and strawberry marzipan.  Little baby bottles, all sorts of fruits, animal and bird shapes were available.

Nuts all around, not including the people.

Look at these fish!  Fresh.

Pretty fruits for a quick breakfast. 

 Now off to the Celebrity Equinox for the sail back to Florida.  Buenos diaz. 

Friday, October 24, 2014


October 24-26, 2014: Barcelona

My to do list on my second trip to this marvelous city (first trip was in 2007, so things have changed).

1) After checking into the Royal Ramblas Hotel and a quick shower, go to the Picasso Museum in the Gothic Quarter.  The Gothic Cathedral was built from 1298 to 1450 on the site of a Roman temple dedicated to Hercules, with stained glass from the Middle Ages. Would like to visit the museum again on a guided tour in a few days.  From this site:
Barcelona's Gothic Quarter (Barri Gótic) dates from medieval times, featuring narrow winding roads and impressively haunting architecture. On the streets, passersby find gems tucked away in the little nooks and crannies - trendy restaurants, chic bars and thumping clubs. The area's proximity to La Rambla also contributes to its popularity among the young, nightlife-loving crowd. Meeting with friends in one of the several placas (plazas) before heading to dinner or a club is customary among the locals, and you would be wise to follow suit as it is here that the most interesting people-watching takes place.   
Because the roads here are narrow and cobbled, most are closed to regular traffic and are more or less pedestrian walkways. Metro stops Jaume I, Drassanes and Liceu are all near or within this district and there is access from La Rambla as well. It's easy to get lost in the maze of alleys, but there's no need to worry - the maps are detailed and people are always willing to give directions. 
2) Visit textile museum opposite Picasso museum and go to textile shop for buttons.  In the Gothic Quarter there is a museum shop opposite the Picasso museum that has buttons also.  This may seem like a silly thing to do, but important to me to make this stop as I can perhaps pick up a few souvenirs to take home.

3) Walk La Rambla, a one mile walk from our hotel, the Royal Ramblas, to the port.  That is walk La Rambla from Place de Cataluma to the port, top to bottom, several times.  On this street, or street mall, one can buy anything from a canary, a monkey, a bunny or a turtle, a newspaper...just about anything!

It is said that on La Rambla, one is both the actor and the audience.

4) Go inside the food market. Oh, my! Lobster, octopus, eels, spices, confections or anything you might imagine in the way of edibles.  In 2007 I purchased beautiful marzipan candies, but alas, no pictures from then.  These pictures were from that trip, but I shall likely see this again.

5) Rest.  For the next few days, make sure these sites are visited and join in with this walking tour or one similar to it.



  • Pablo Picasso walking tour of Barcelona
  • Guided walk highlighting the places visited by Picasso in Barcelona
  • Includes entry to the Picasso Museum, Barcelona’s most popular museum
  • Professional guide

What You Can Expect

Barcelona Walking Tour: Picasso and Picasso Museum
Barcelona Walking Tour: Picasso and Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973) developed his famous painting style while living in Barcelona and spent many years of his life here. This tour will explore the man and the city he loved so much.

Your Picasso Walking Tour includes a guided visit to the Picasso Museum which honors his talent and is Barcelona's most visited museum. Your tour will end at the museum and you are welcome to spend additional time here at your leisure.

Some of the places you may visit during this Barcelona Walking Tour include:

  • Quatre Gats Cafe  (Les Quatre Gats is famous for being the site of Picasso's first exhibition. He was also known to drink there regularly.)
  • Frisos del Col legi d'Arquitectes
  • Sala Parés
  • Escudellers Blancs
  • Carrer Avinyó
  • Carrer de la Plata
  • Porxos d'En Xifre
  • Llotja de Mar
  • La Ribera Quarter
  • Museu Picasso
6) Visit again the famous park where Gaudi has many architectural pieces

7) Again see the Temple de la Sagrada Familia in the heart of the city (also an Antoni Gaudi structure).  This church, constructed in multi-spirals for the sanctuary, was begun over 100 years ago and still stands not quite half complete.

8) Eat lots of tasty gelato!

If these sites are seen and Spanish foods tasted, I'll be a happy tourist.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Off to Scrabble while Transatlantic

Today I put up a new blog picture header from the view out my study window.  Fallish, autumnal colors and a pretty ash tree quickly losing its leaves.  The time to hunker down is coming closer.

But for the next few weeks, I will be in Spain and then across the ocean back to the Americas, landing in Ft. Lauderdale in mid November.  I will be checking in and posting pictures from Barcelona and the Canary Islands, along with a few pictures of Scrabble tournament play while aboard the Celebrity Equinox.

For now, I leave you with this picture of a cosmos seed that was planted in May and has grown and topped up at five feet, two inches.  An amazing feat since most of the cosmos plants were well under three feet in height.  We will be saving the seeds for next spring from this yellow mother plant to see if the new plants from this giant will reproduce tall plants also.

And the usual size of our cosmos plants:

(September, 2014)
Happy Fall and see you in a few days.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Crafting with the Lutherans

Tomorrow and Saturday the church ladies (and a few men helpers) will be involved in the





Friday hours are 9 AM to 2 PM      Saturday hours are 9 AM to 2 PM
Bazaar proceeds benefit ALC Women’s Ministries and local service organizations

Here are the knitted items I've knitted over the past couple of years and will donate to the bazaar to perhaps bring in a few dollars for the American Lutheran Church ministries:

The Elowen shawl on Ravelry:

and the Wilhelmina Shawlette on Ravelry, including a few color coordinated accessories:

This week I finished knitting the Norwegian Shawl by Sivia Harding, with yarn from Louet Gem merino fiber. This project took four weeks to knit.  There were very few problems in crafting this lace shawl; it was well written and the yarn was very well behaved. Generally, I wear shawls with the spined upper edge at the neck and the longer pieces wrapped around and, so the finished dimensions of 62 inches in length (29 inches in depth) will give adequate coverage to the neck, shoulder and front area.

Joining in with Fiber Arts Friday, Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia and Yarn Along for sharing.