God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;
the warmth of Christmas, which is love;
the radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
the belief in Christmas, which is truth;
& all of Christmas, which is Christ.
--Wilda English

Friday, March 29, 2013

RAKs, Yarn Shop Visit, Blanket Update, & Easter Wishes

I don't seem to be posting as much as I used to.  I think I have a case of LPS (Lazy Posting Syndrome).  I have things to share ... I'm just too lazy to share them!  Do bear with me as I play a bit of catch-up   : )  However, the first subject on the agenda does not involve catching up.  It involves RAKs.

This past Monday I mailed 2 RAKs, neither of which I bothered to take photos of before I sent them   : (   One was sent to Trace ... some chicken printed fabric & some old china buttons.  The other was sent to Vickie ... a set of kissing poodle salt & pepper shakers.  Well, what a shock I had when yesterday's mail brought 2 RAKs for me!  This first one has a little back story ... sort of. On Tuesday, Gracie posted a photo of an RAK which Dawn sent to her ... a beautiful beaded scissor fob.  I was green with envy!  This was the most beautiful fob I had even laid eyes on!  I commented on Gracie's post about how lovely it was, & on Wednesday when I read Dawn's post where she shared a photo of the fob, I emailed her (I fear I will never be able to comment on blogs with those little white boxes appearing underneath the posts again) to tell her how lovely I thought it was.  Well, what a huge surprise I had in yesterday's mail!  Dawn had made & sent me a fob as well!

Isn't it beautiful, & doesn't it look perfect with my purple handled scissors?  I love it! And look at that cute tea-related notecard! Looking at it now, I think that's probably meant to be a coffee pot, but for me it's a big teapot   : )   Thank you again Dawn!

The 2nd RAK is from Michelle.  Look at these lovely gifts she sent me!
Those 2 wooden ornaments are so cute!  I've not seen anything like them here.  She included some sparkly thread for me to use in my next cross stitch project, & at first I thought that other thing was an in-home pregnancy test stick.  I know I've gained a lot of weight over the past year & certainly look like I could be pregnant, but she knows that I'm well beyond childbearing years, so I was perplexed.  Of course it turned out to be not an in-home pregnancy test stick at all but a pair of snips   : )   She also included a very sweet notecard with lovely roses displayed on it.  Such thoughtful gifts!  Thank you so much Michelle   : )

I shared with you in my posts last Friday & Saturday that I had another yarn shop visit to tell you about.  This post will not be as lengthy as those others.  I know I mentioned in Saturday's post that the shop is in Lexington & that's as far as I'll go with that. I'm not going to mention the name.  I usually avoid this shop.  The owner is one of the most unprofessional, unfriendly, rude women I have ever met, & if you don't keep a close eye on her when she's writing up your bill, she'll overcharge you.  The shop staff I've had contact with would not win any congeniality awards but they at least offer you their assistance & try to help you when you ask them a question.  The shop is actually part cross stitch supplies, part knitting/crochet supplies.  I had planned that day to visit a different shop in another part of town, but it was lunchtime & I have this "thing" about traffic so I decided instead to stop by this one & hope for the best.  The best is what I got ... the owner wasn't there. I had a nice, relaxing time looking at all the yarns & notions.  I came home with 2 mega skeins of a super soft, decadent yarn I've not seen before ... Mushishi by Plymouth Yarn, 95% wool, 5% silk, made in Italy.  Each skein holds 491 yards.  I couldnt' make up my mind which colorway to buy so I bought them both   : )   I have no idea what I'll be making with these, but whatever it is will be gorgeous   : )
I also brought home some needle protectors, a set of 2 counting pins (one with a Sophie on it), & 2 leaflets I was delighted to see. When I find some yarn I really like, I think "this would make a nice scarf" or "this would make a nice sweater" & then I freeze.  How much do I need to make a scarf?  How much do I need to make a sweater?  Well, these little leaflets give you that information!  God bless the person who came up with this idea. I got one for knitting as well as for crochet.
I have been enjoying my crocheted granny stripe blanket journey.  I have taken this bit of what I've been able to accomplish so far just about everywhere in this house to try to get an accurate picture of the colors. I've gotten some real nightmare results, let me tell you!  The photo I'm sharing with you now is the closest I've been able to get to true life colors but trust me, it's not too close. The bottom stripe is a very dark red, next is sort of a robin's egg blue, next a light heather green, then sort of an eggplant purple, followed by a light heather blue, hunter green, true red, sort of a dark teal, & then a medium gray, & then the colors repeat   : )  
This blanket is going to be wonderfully warm. I've got a long way to go yet & I'm already wondering what to do for the borders.  Any ideas?

Well, that's it for my post today ... I will just leave you with an Easter greeting.
Have a very wonderful & blessed Easter!    

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oopsie!

Happy Saturday morning everyone!

Last night I started crocheting my Granny Stripe blanket.  Once again, here is the pattern photo to show what it looks like.

Here is a different photo showing a blanket someone made using different colors.
Here are the colors I am going to be using, sort of.  Most of the colors look nothing like what you see here.  I took this photo in natural light so I have no idea why the colors didn't transfer well.    
This photo of John's color arrangement isn't any better.  To give you an idea of what you should be seeing here, that ball of yarn 4th from the right is a very pretty hunter green!
The directions state to chain 240.  I figured that would be too large for the blanket I want to make ... a snuggly nap blanket to curl up with on cold afternoons.  I tried chaining 150, then 180, then 210, & finally settled on the 240.  It measured a tad wider than the size I'm going for but I decided that wouldn't be a problem.  Well, dopey me ... I totally forgot that a border gets added which is going to make the blanket even wider!  So even though I have made my first colored stripe & have gotten half way through the second, I'm going to rip it all out & start again.  Here is a photo pre-ripping. The colors here are more true to life.  I guess I need to take photos of things on the diningroom table from now on.
This is sort of my first crochet project.  I remember my mother trying to get me interested in crochet when I was a teenager but I couldn't have cared less.  Then last year I started seeing photos of crocheted blankets ... especially on Hazel's blog ... & crocheting started to tug at my heart.  I went so far as to buy a learn to crochet kit from Walmart ...
... but I put it in a cupboard where it remained unopened for many months.  I told myself "you don't need another interest," but Hazel kept posting pictures of her blankets ... & then I found my way to Tina's blog & there went any good sense I may have had, especially when she posted a photo of the Granny Stripe blanket she is making for her husband.  I totally fell in love with it, found the pattern directions & many other photos of completed blankets on Ravelry, & here I am crocheting.  Prior to starting my blanket I did do a little practice piece ... a dishcloth in single crochet.  Nothing really worthy of a post but I'll share a photo anyway.
Right now I am waiting for a visitor who is going to bring me a home blood testing machine & show me how to use it.  I need to have a particular blood test done quite often.  Now, rather than having to drive the 30-mile round trip to my doctor's office, I can just do the test myself in the hellishness comfort of my own bit of hell home.  I do the test, then call in the results & am told whether I need to adjust my medication or not.  I was thinking this morning ... this will be the first time someone has been inside our house since the guys from Lowes brought us our new refrigerator last year!

I promised to show you the other things I brought home from The Woolery.  I bought 3 skeins from this pile of Malabrigo worsted that I pulled out of its cubby during my visit there.  I'm using the same photo I posted on Wednesday since the colors appear more true to life.  The colorway is Cuarenta.  I plan to make a hat & scarf with this yarn.
These are 3 balls of Cascade 220 superwash that John picked out for me to make him a scarf.  He saw a scarf at one of the yarn shops we went to in NYC that he liked very much, with large stripes done in 3 different colors.  Keep in mind the natural light oddity once again as you view these.  The colors are Como Blue which probably doesn't tell you much of anything, black, & charcoal gray.  
I also brought home that wool bundle with the purple plaid wool on top from the store display pictured in my last post, & 2 sets of double points that I will need for some fingerless mitts.
I went to another yarn shop on Thursday, this one in Lexington, & I'll post about that next time.  I hope my cross stitching followers aren't too bored with all this yarn talk   : )

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Very Fun Day!

You may recall me mentioning in Wednesday's post that I had been to Frankfort (the state capital ... just under 45 miles from here) for an appointment.  That's not the fun part though.  The fun part is this: I have been living here in the devil's playground (this part of the state) for what will soon be 4 years.  Now hold on ... this is not the fun part either.  No way!  The fun part is that a well-known fiber shop (all things wool) has been just under 45 miles from me for what will soon be 4 years but I have never gone there.  I thought about it.  It just never happened.

After enjoying my visits to a few yarn shops while in NYC a couple weeks back, I decided that while I'm awaiting my parole, I should check out a few shops I know of that are closer to where I'm currently doing time. One of those shops is in Frankfort.  It's The Woolery.

I was a bit apprehensive to drive there.  It is sort of located in downtown Frankfort.  I grew up with "downtown" referring to downtown Pittsburgh which in my day was a big, sprawling, traffic infested nightmare of a city.  However, I saw that The Woolery is located less than 2 miles from where I had to go for my appointment so I decided to take the chance.  John would be driving anyway.  He's driven in Italy so he can drive anywhere   : )

The Woolery was actually located on a very quaint little brick street with many old buildings.  I think I read something on The Woolery's building about it having housed the town's newspaper offices once upon a time. There weren't many parking spaces on that street.  We were fortunate to find one right in front of The Woolery.

I could tell as I was walking toward the store that I was walking toward fiber heaven.  I opened the big wood & glass door & literally almost lost my breath.  My eyes were bombarded with so many things to see in so many places!  I was the only customer in the store at that time so I didn't embarrass myself too badly.  However, I'm sure the salesgirl working there thought I had never been in a fiber shop in my life.  I sometimes get a little ... okay, a lot ... excited about things.  Sort of like a little kid.  I remember going somewhere with my son one time ... I don't remember where ... & getting so excited that my son said "Gee mom, you act like you just walked off the farm!"  One time John & I were looking at houses to rent & this one house, which unfortunately slipped through our fingers & it's the house I will always remember as being "the perfect house" ... a beautiful old colonial thing with a gorgeous staircase, gorgeous outside, immense & gorgeous kitchen, interesting nooks & crannies, wonderful rooms ... you get the idea.  Anyway, in the kitchen there was a trash compacting unit.  I had never seen one before.  It was inside a bottom cabinet so you didn't really know it was there.  The agent showing us the house opened up that cabinet & said "here's the trash compacting unit" & it was like I had been blind since birth & my sight suddenly returned & I saw the face of God!  I'm not being disrespectful here ... it's just that I was that excited about this goofy trash compacting unit inside a kitchen cabinet!  I remember gushing about how neat it was, & John sort of got this embarrassed look on his face & the agent looked at me as if I had indeed just walked off the farm.  Anyway, it was a sensory overload experience to walk into The Woolery.  

I give the salesgirl credit for approaching me to ask if she could help me with anything. My first thought was "I could use an oxygen tank," but I managed to tell her I was looking for Cascade 220 superwash worsted.  She took me over to the yarn area. showed me where it was, & said she would be happy to help me if I had any questions or needed any other help.  Here's a picture of where she took me.  Look at that wonderful yarn!  Look at those wonderful baskets!  I was overwhelmed with those baskets as much as I was overwhelmed with the yarn!  I wanted one of those baskets!  However, my mind was nearing overload at this point & I couldn't handle trying to find the perfect yarn & trying to find the perfect basket at the same time.  The basket purchase will have to wait for another day.
John did not come into the store with me at first.  He wanted to walk up & down the quaint little brick street to see what else was there.  While I waited for him, I walked around the store & became more & more overwhelmed with things.  They had wool fabric, rug hooking supplies, a huge spinning supplies area, & beyond that a huge weaving area.  A man, who seemed to be the owner or manager of the store, passed by & I asked him if I could take some pictures for my blog & he very graciously said that would be fine.  How I was able to work the camera I don't know but here's a bit of what I saw.

This is a photo of some wonderful yarn!  It wasn't displayed like this.  I took whatever I could find out of the cubby & placed it on this table so I could choose 3 skeins to make a hat & scarf.  Absolutely gorgeous stuff!
Here are a few bundles of wool fabric on display.  I'm thinking that there had been more there which had already been purchased & this is what was left.  Why someone left that wonderful bundle you see there on the left, with the purple plaid wool on top, is beyond me.  That baby came home with me   : )
Here are a couple more photos of not all, but some of the shop's wool fabric offerings.

This is a view back to the shop's spinning area.  I tried spinning long ago ... didn't really care for it.  You can see some little rug hooking kits hanging on a display there in the bottom right corner.   
I took a walk back into the spinning area, turned to my left (note the various drop spindles on the shelf in front of me), & gazed into the distance where I saw a sign indicating the weaving area.  It's hard to tell from this photo that there's another whole room back there but I'm sure you can see that there's a sign attached to the wall above the entrance.  I didn't dare go back there.  I had a weaving loom long ago.  I loved weaving.  I just hated warping the loom.  Every so often I think how wonderful it would be weave again.  I envision myself contentedly throwing my shuttle back & forth, stepping on the treadles, moving the beater to position my threads, etc.  I had a jack-type floor loom.  I always dreamed of having a counterbalance or countermarch loom from Sweden.  If it weren't for me hating the warping process so intensely, I might still be weaving today.  I could walk through that spinning area without a second thought, but I knew that if I even ventured close to that weaving area, I would have a flashback of me sitting at my loom with a Mona Lisa smile on my face as I contentedly threw my shuttle back & forth.  Nope ... I didn't need to go there.    
Upon returning to the front of the shop, I just had to take a photo of these adorable bunnies & lambs wearing The Woolery logo t-shirts.  Aren't they adorable?  They were so soft & snuggly!  That bunny there in front really wanted to come home with me, but I resisted.  
John entered the store at this point for which I was very thankful.  He has an amazing color sense.  I have no gift for choosing colors whatsoever, but John excels at it.  I asked him to help me pick out some colors of Cascade 220 superwash for my granny stripe blanket.  We spent a lot of time doing this, both of us actually sitting on the floor facing each other with balls of color in between us, him moving them about, excited about some color combinations, frowning at others.  I was watching a master at work.  I should have asked the salesgirl to take a photo of us.  What a sight we must've been!  We/he finally settled on a combination he was pleased with ... 17 balls, 2 balls each of 8 different colors, plus one. God bless this man ... he bought them for me! Here he is at the checkout counter   : )
I didn't think it fair for him to buy everything, so after taking this photo I went back to the yarn area to buy some yarn for other projects.  I'll share pictures of all this yarn in another post.  Until then, here is a photo of me standing outside the store with 2 bags full of yarn.  If only I had 3 bags, it would've been like "Black sheep, black sheep, have you any wool?  Yes sir, yes sir, 3 bags full."  I'm definitely considered to be a black sheep in my family, but alas, only 2 bags of wool this particular day.
After leaving The Woolery, we made our way to Frisch's Big Boy.  We like Big Boy restaurants & this one in Frankfort is one of the best.  The food has never disappointed us.  I got my usual, a bacon cheeseburger with an order of onion rings & a vanilla coke. John tried something new ... some sort of hot sub sandwich with sliced chicken breast, melted Swiss cheese, & grilled onions.  It was huge!  I helped him eat it   : )   He also got fries & sweet tea.  He is sometimes a wee bit adventurous when we go to restaurants, more so than I am.  As usual, I saw several things on the menu that called to me but I love my burger/rings combo so much that I've never given them a try.  Maybe next time.  I did come home with a takeout piece of coconut cream pie & thought I'd have John take a picture of me with BB out in front of the restaurant.  I really didn't spike my hair after visiting The Woolery ... it was just extremely windy when we came out of the restaurant   : )
Thus ended a very fun day!  In my next post, I'll show you the yarns I brought home & tell you about another yarn shop visit I made yesterday   : )    

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March IHSW Report

Greetings one & all!  It took me a couple days to post my March IHSW report. Monday was a very dark day ... literally. Very cloudy, very gray, very overcast. Definitely not a good picture taking day. Yesterday I had a few errands to run & by the time I got home, I was too tired to bother with taking pictures.  However, this morning I got them taken before we headed off to an appointment I had in Frankfort. That's Frankfort, Kentucky ... not to be confused with Frankfurt, Germany.  Sigh!  If only!

My first stitch since the dreaded HE Along for the Ride (see header photo) was a pure delight.  I posted about this pattern here.  It stitched up quickly & I totally enjoyed the whole experience.

Title:  A Day of Joy
Designer:  The Little Stitcher
Threads:  Suggested DMC
Fabric:  32 ct Belfast Platinum linen

After taking my last stitch in Joy, I felt cocky. Giddy even!  I began rummaging through my chart files & as soon as I saw this one by Jardin Prive, I knew it was going to be my next stitch.  I had just the perfect size piece of 32 ct antique white Welchelt linen in my stash, & I decided to use a lovely variegated thread my friend Sally included with an RAK she sent me last year.  It's a Carrie's Creation hand dyed floss in the colorway Olde World Red.  Lovely floss!
I was really enjoying stitching this piece ... up to a point.  The left side of the design seemed to go very well.  I remember thinking how contented I felt doing the stitches.  Well, I don't know what happened after I started working on the center portion of the design, but the little heart to the right of the lantern ended up being positioned incorrectly.  I decided to not allow my OCD to overtake me.  It was one space away from the lantern just like the heart on the other side. It looked good.  I was okay leaving it that way.  Well, when you make a mistake like that, you need to remember to allow for the incorrect positioning when you stitch anything else near that motif.  I positioned the squirrel's body based on that little heart. I positioned his tail based on the key which was based on whatever that thing is in the top right corner so all was well there, but when I got to the end of the squirrel's butt, it did not meet his tail.  Rip, rip, rip.  I restitched the squirrel's body & all was well ... for a while.  My next step was to stitch the bird on the thread spool, making sure it was positioned exactly where it should be based on that mystery thingie in the top right corner.  It wasn't until I reached the bottom of the spool that I discovered I had counted down 4 spaces instead of 3 to begin the tail which totally threw off the positioning of that motif.  Did I rip it out & start again?  In the immortal lyrics of an Amy Winehouse song, "no, no, no."  This meant I had to creatively (?) redesign the spool & then the border to accommodate the redesigned spool.  Okay ... all's well that ends well, right? Not quite.  I then started the back stitching. I had to add some back stitches to the squirrel's head.  Things became a little fuzzy here.  Do squirrels in France have antlers, or perhaps long ears?  Does this particular squirrel have a bunny wish?  By this point I didn't care ... I just wanted to get the blasted thing finished.  I then moved over to the left side of the design to add the back stitching to the floss card.  It wasn't a surprise to discover I had make an error in positioning the square representing the floss. I reached for a Xanax & continued.  My last bit of back stitching was supposed to show the flight of the butterfly.  Naturally since the floss card had been mistakenly positioned, the path of flight for the butterfly was a bit off.  I just winged it.  Lol!  Winged it!  Butterfly!  Get it?  Why am I laughing?  

Just writing about my second IHSW piece has my hands shaking & my throat closing up.  I am wondering ... do I have to add French designs to my list of cross stitching projects to avoid?  I don't know what happened during the stitching of this piece, but it turned out okay despite the errors in positioning.

I think it's time for another cross stitching breather.  What will I be doing instead?  I'll show you tomorrow   : )  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

IHSW Interruption

We interrupt IHSW to bring you this blog post.  I made bread!!!  I searched & searched & searched online for "the perfect old fashioned white bread recipe."  I found a bunch of them but one sort of called out to me.  I know someone is going to ask me what the recipe is so I will tell you ... it's Traditional White Bread Recipe (it has a 5 star rating) & you can find it here on Allrecipes.com.  It's a simple recipe I suppose. I did know that making bread takes a bit of muscle.  For whatever reason, my upper body strength has always been weak so mixing the dough was quite a feat as was the 8 minutes of kneading it ... but I survived, albeit with some soreness lingering today.  I substituted butter for lard (it was noted you could do that if you'd like) & likewise greased my bowl with butter rather than with oil during the rising process.

It rose beautifully!  And yes, that's more Peeps aging on the top of the counter back there   : )

I punched it down & put it in loaf pans for the second rising.  Once again I achieved success   : )
I was a bit hesitant about using these loaf pans but they're all I've got.  They are nonstick & things usually burn on the bottoms/sides when you cook them at the temperature suggested in a recipe.  I carefully put them into the oven & hoped for the best.  The smell of bread baking has got to be one of the best smells in the world   : ) When the baking time was up, I removed the loaves from the oven & turned them out on a wire rack to cool.  I brushed the tops with melted butter because I didn't want a crispy top crust.  
As you can see, they turned out rather nicely!  The bread tastes rather nice as well, but it's not the same as the bread my father used to bake   : (   I've mentioned before that he was a cook & baker while in the Merchant Marine during WWII.  He really enjoyed cooking & baking, & on Sundays he would make homemade bread, breadsticks, & rolls.  The taste, the smell, the texture ... everything about it was wonderful!  How sad that no one in the family ever got the recipe from him   : (   The entire time I was mixing & kneading & baking, I thought about how surprised & pleased dad would've been to see me doing that.  It's kind of a link to him.  I miss him so much.  

I won't make this bread recipe again.  Like I said, it's good, but it's not dad's.  If anyone has a really good old fashioned white bread recipe, please do share it with me.  I'd love to try it.

And now we resume IHSW   : )

Thursday, March 14, 2013

IHSW Is Upon Us


Yes, you read that right.  I said IHSW.  I said "us."

Now that I've finished knitting my socks (I still need to weave in some ends & close up the toes), & I don't yet have the yarn I need to start crocheting a blanket (whole 'nother story here), I think it's once again time to pick up linen, floss, & needle & stitch something.  This decision has not come lightly. I still have fantasies about taking all my Homespun Elegance charts, piling them in the yard, setting them ablaze, & dancing around them with gleeful abandon ... then sending the ashes to HE with a note saying "here's what I think of your charts!!!"  However, that would take a lot of energy ... something this overweight, over stressed stitcher doesn't have much of these days.  Therefore, the HE charts will sit neglected in my files until whatever time I decide to burn, sell, give, or trade them.

Although I haven't been able to bring myself to stitch a stitch since my traumatic HE experience, I have purchased a few charts that have shown up on my computer screen ... very few ... for that day when I would feel able to stitch again.  I purchased one of them just this morning.  I was pretty excited about it, but then I'm usually pretty excited about The Little Stitcher's designs.  Laura is one of those God-given designers who create cross stitch designs that are made up of cross stitches only!  No blankety-blank french knots, no whoop-de-do fancy stitches, just cross stitches.  Nothing more.  God bless her!  Anyway, yesterday she posted her latest creation, A Day of Joy.  Here is a photo which I've copied from her post.  
The proceeds from the sale of this design will go to Sister Anna & the Malawi children. You can get more information about this cause on Nadia's blog, La Soffitta.  Nadia is the organizer of this initiative.

I ordered the pattern from Nadia as soon as I saw it this morning.  I told myself that if it arrived in my inbox today, I would begin stitching it tonight.  That is what I will do. What will I stitch afterward?  That's anyone's guess.  Maybe another one of these designs.  Maybe one of Laura's other designs. I know one thing for sure.  I won't be stitching any blankety-blank HE designs!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Can I Use This Bowl?

A couple years ago, I  bought a set of old bowls.  Actually it's a partial set.  I didn't realize at the time that one was missing, but I've since tried to avoid thinking about that. Here are the bowls.
Yes, that's a Peeps bunny aging on the counter behind the bowls.  Let's just focus on the bowls   : )   In particular, I am concerned about the largest bowl.  I am going to try my hand at making homemade bread & I need a large bowl with which to do that.  Naturally, I have no idea where these bowls "have been."  The inside of the big bowl has some light crazing but no chips. There are some dark discoloration spots though.  The spots are not rough or anything.
The paint smear looking thing you see there on your left & the obvious reflection on the right are just that ... reflections.

So ... is it safe to use this bowl after a good washing?

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Bird, a Movie, Pain, the Arrival of Spring, Knitting, and Crochet

On Saturday, John & I went outside in the bright, sunshiny 65-degree weather (ugh) to replenish the bird feeders.  I hung up this little seed bell & before too long one of the many black-capped chickadees who visit us decided to check it out.  He really seemed to enjoy it!


  
That last picture turned out cute.  It's like he's saying "Hey!  Who told you that you could take my picture?"

Yesterday it was a bright, sunshiny 67 degrees (ugh again).  I went out & did some cleaning up of the garage while John installed a new car battery.  We then went out for dinner.  When we came home, my feet were hurting a lot & I had trouble walking.  I think I really did a number on myself with all that walking we did in NYC.  I've also noticed that my left leg is swollen more than usual since we've been back.  This leg is always swollen a bit & I always have some degree of pain there thanks to 3 blood clots trying to do me in over the years.  Sometimes the pain gets really bad.  My dad once joked with me & said I should just have the doctors cut off the leg & give me a wooden one ... then I'd only have to worry about woodpeckers.  That is how I describe the worst pain ... cut it off & give me a wooden one.  Well, that's what it's like this morning. Quite swollen, horribly painful.  No clot though.  After having 3 of them, I know the signs.  I'm also taking preventative medication.  I think I need to see someone about this increase in discomfort.  Every time I have a bad pain somewhere, I think of a made for TV Christmas movie I first saw many years ago.  It's called The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story. 
This is one of the best movies ever!  As you can see, it stars Lee Remick, Angela Lansbury, & Polly Holliday.  If you haven't seen it, it really is worth checking out.  I don't want to give away the story, but at one point, Angela Lansbury utters the line "It hurts like a holy curse."  I have no idea what that means.  I've looked on Google & there is no reference for it.  It does, however, seem to indicate a lot of pain.

What was I talking about?  Oh yes, my left leg.  My left leg, my feet, my left arm.  Yep, gotta see someone.  The pain bothered me all night despite medication & I finally got out of bed at about 3 a.m. & tried sleeping on the couch.  No luck, so here I am, writing a blog post.  I had plans to do some cleaning upstairs today.  I hope I'll be able to do that.

This past weekend I did do a bit of spring decorating.  This basically involved taking down the Let It Snow snowman sign hanging in the kitchen, the Warm Winter Wishes sign near the thermostat, & the winter themed cutting board, sewing drawer, & pinkeep in the diningroom, & replacing them with the usual farm themed kitchen sign, a spring paddle, & the spring themed cutting board, sewing drawer, & pinkeep.  It also meant changing the dishes. I have Fiesta dishes.  I've sorted them into spring colors, summer colors, & fall/winter colors.  With the change of these seasons, the old season dishes are pushed to the back of the cabinet & the new season to the front.
The spring dishes are of course the pastels. Some of the colors are missing.  I'm hoping they were put into a moving box with Christmas decor or something because I couldn't have missed them & tossed them out by mistake when we moved here.  Yes, you see some paper plates there.  We use those a lot.  Saves me washing dishes.  

I'm still knitting that pair of socks I started last month.  No new photo to show you on this front.  However, I'm a bit skeptical as to whether or not I'm going to be able to finish this second sock based on the yarn I have left.  I'm ready to start the gusset now & then work my way down the foot.  Who knows, I might be surprised.  I think I will also be surprised if these socks fit me (see previous increased leg swelling reference).  I used a loose cast on for the cuff of the socks but I am afraid it's not going to be stretchy enough.  When I tried the first one on, it was just a very wee bit tight on my good leg.  Ah well, I've enjoyed knitting them & will figure out a different course of action for the next pair if need be.  

And speaking of crochet ...   : )   ... some of you know that for the past I don't know how many months, I've been seeing some wonderful crocheted items on your blogs (Hazel's & Tina's blogs in particular) & it has been calling to me.  Strongly calling.  I went so far as to buy a Learn to Crochet kit at Walmart sometime last year but I've never opened it.  I, of course, have enough to do with cross stitch & knitting &, on the odd occasion, quilting.  Although I bought the kit, I constantly told myself I didn't need to do anything with it.  Well, this didn't stop Hazel or Tina from tempting me with their crocheted creations.  Then in NYC I saw many, many locals wearing beautiful scarves. It seems to be a fashion statement there. Men, women, & children were arrayed in beautiful scarves, both knitted & crocheted. However, it was the crocheted ones that really caught my eye.  I read once that knitting can be done by machine, but crochet can only be done by hand.  At one of the knitting shops I went to, there was a display of various scarves.  The two that caught my eye were ... you guessed it ... crochet.  Recently Tina did a blog post about a granny stripe blanket she is crocheting for her husband.  I fell in love. This is a photo of the blanket from samples given on Ravelry.
Isn't it gorgeous?  I wouldn't make mine in those pastel colors but I think more like the colors on the designer's pattern.

Well, I've probably rambled on long enough for one blog post   : )   I think I'll go make myself another cup of tea, maybe a couple slices of toast, & then cuddle up in the recliner, read a bit, & maybe work on my socks.  I'm still hoping to do a bit of cleaning upstairs today.  Wish me luck   : )

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bad Habit

Before John & I retired, we used to go to stores & never look at price tags.  If we liked something, we either tossed it into the cart or told the salesclerk "I'll take it."  I miss those days.  Now I must be more careful of my spending.  I must look at price tags.  I usually remember to do this, but then came New York City.  As I mentioned in my last post, I bought some yarn, mostly sock yarn, from 2 knitting shops there ... Knitty City (my favorite) & Purl Soho.  I didn't bat an eye at the cash register when the clerk told me what I needed to pay.  I figured that I had bought several skeins of yarn & shelling out that amount of money was worth it.  I still think it's worth it, but hoo boy!  I got out the yarn to take photos to share with you today & nearly choked.  I saw that one of the skeins was $30.00!  I then grabbed my receipt.  Seems I paid $30 each for 2 skeins of yarn.  No biggie ... it was a special treat, but I will have to pay more attention next time   : )

This is the yarn I bought at Purl Soho.  Going clockwise from the top left corner, there's a skein of Blue Sky Alpaca Suri Merino (60% baby suri/40% merino) in the color Crimson.  I think it may actually be a bit thick for sock yarn but I'll find something to do with it.  It feels like heaven!  Next is a skein of Anzula Sebastian in the color Madam, 70% superwash merino/30% sea cell which is a blend of seaweed & cellulose.  The next yarn is Manos del Uruguay, DK weight, 70% merino/30% silk.  This is an interesting yarn.  It is hand dyed in large kettles by a cooperative of 400 artisans scattered throughout the countryside of Uruguay.  My skein was dyed by Leticia in the town of Fraile.  Last are 3 skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca, 50% alpaca/50% silk, in the color Plum.  Softer than a baby's bottom   : )   I bought the knitting bag as a memento of my visit to the shop.
This next photo shows my haul from the wonderful, fabulous Knitty City.  Once again going clockwise from the top left corner, there's a skein of La Jolla Original Hand Painted yarn (Baah!), 100% merino superwash merino, in the color Singin' the Blues.  In the top right corner is a ball of Zauberball Starke 6 , 75% virgin wool sw/25% nylon, color name Pale Shimmer.  Under the Zauberball are 2 skeins of Terra-Logwood, DK weight, 40% baby alpaca/40% wool/20% silk.  At the bottom of the photo is a skein of Frog Tree Pediboo, 80% merino/20% bamboo.  No color name.  Last there are 2 skeins, one pink, one lilac.  The pink skein, color Sassafrass, is from Spud & Chloe, 80% superwash wool/20% silk. The lilac skein is another Frog Tree Pediboo, same description as above.  While looking at this photo you are probably thinking "Wow! What a neat knitting bag she bought!"  Well ladies, I did not buy this bag!  It is the bag that the store GIVES you when you buy something!  God bless 'em!  What a wonderful place   : ) 
So there are my stash acquisitions from NYC. This morning I had an appointment in Frankfort (about 40 minutes from here) & there is a well known shop there called The Woolery.  I've been living here in the devil's playground for going on 4 years now & I have never gone to The Woolery.  I checked on MapQuest & found that it is located less than 2 miles from where my appointment was, so I decided today would be the day I'd visit.  I even took my camera along to get photos of the shop!  Sadly, road construction was going on & the route that MapQuest gave me was blocked off.  Ah well, I will live to see it another day.  There is a knitting shop in Shelbyville & one in Louisville that I've never been to yet, & I just found out from Peggy Lee that there's apparently a "drop your garters" knitting shop in Bowling Green.  I see a few road trips in my future   : )

The temps this weekend are going to be in the 60s.  That just makes me want to gag!!! However, it was quite nippy yesterday morning & I caught a picture of Sophie warming her butt on the heating vent.  Silly girl   : )
I hope everyone has a great weekend!  Since it's going to be rather warm here (again, gag!!!), John & I will be going outside to clear some yard debris & I might even do a bit of weed pulling.  Such will be the bulk of my miserable life for roughly the next 7 months ... a constant battle with weeds.  GAG!!! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Very Long and Picture Filled Post

John & I have returned from a long weekend in NYC.  I must say that I am amazed at how much I enjoyed myself, even taking into account my sore feet & back that are probably going to  be with me for a while now after literally walking miles hither & yon in the city each day.  Honestly, while we were there we caught a TV interview with a 102-year-old man who was in better shape than I was!  Much better shape!  The last full day after walking a total of about 6 miles ... not really a lot when you think about it ... John hailed a cab to take us back to our hotel & I literally had to hold onto my pant leg & pull up on it in order to lift my leg/foot to crawl into the cab!  Pathetic!

John has been wanting to visit NYC for as long as I can remember so this trip was really for him.  I was not looking forward to it very much.  I imagined that the city would be dirty, that we would be taking our lives in our hands whenever we left the presumed safety of the hotel, & that all the people would be rude.  It was totally the opposite. The city was clean, I felt safe shuffling along the streets with my big purse hanging over my shoulder, & the New Yorkers couldn't have been more friendly!  It was delightful!

NYC is gigantic!  I knew it was a big city, but it was bigger than I could've imagined.  We would have to make several more trips there in order to see everything there is to see. We had great weather.  Cold, but rain free.  It even snowed a few flakes on Sunday!

On Thursday morning we flew to Baltimore, took the Amtrak train to Penn Station, & then walked to our hotel which was located in Times Square.  Our room was very nice.  We had a lovely view of 8th Avenue from one window & a likewise lovely view of the Hudson River & New Jersey from the other window.  

On Friday morning we visited an aircraft carrier, the Intrepid.  I was really excited about this for several reasons, not the least of which being that my brother served on the Intrepid when he was in the Navy during 1959-1961.  As we walked around the carrier I thought about how my brother had lived there & had walked in the same places where I was walking.  It felt kind of weird being there & thinking about how he had been there so many years ago & who ever thought that one day I'd be there as well.  



We were surprised to find that our hotel was located just about a block away from the famous Actor's Studio.  John, who loves old movies & movie stars, was very thrilled about this.  It was sadly a little ratty looking which is a real shame.  I don't know if it's still an actor's studio but if not they should give it a nice makeover & make it into an actor's museum of some sort.  
We then walked to the upper west side seeing many sights along the way.  I should be embarrassed to admit this but my goal was to visit one particular Food Emporium where they supposedly sold Laderach chocolate bark imported from Switzerland. This is the best chocolate I have ever had in my life.  Unfortunately I did not realize that there is an upper west side & an upper east side & so we were on the totally opposite side of Central Park than we should have been.  No big deal though ... we saw a lot of nice sights & landmarks along the way & experienced our first NYC cab ride for which my feet & back were very grateful!

On Saturday we visited Rockerfeller Center, St. Patrick Cathedral (lots of construction going on there), FAO Schwartz (I was so ticked seeing the large stuffed Peeps!), & we found the correct Food Emporium which sadly no longer carried the bark   : (   We also went to a yarn shop called Strings.



The owner & sales clerk at Strings were very nice but I did not buy any yarn there.  We then walked through Central Park over to the Dakota. 

Our last stop of the day was another knitting shop, Knitty City.  This was by far the best knitting shop in the city!  I bought some nice yarns which I will show you in another post   : )  
We hailed a cab to take us to an Irish pub which had delicious fish & chips! 
On Saturday we decided to walk south.  We visited Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, the famous Macy's, & then walked/shuffled far south to a tea shop, a CD store, & then to Purl Soho ... another knitting shop.  Yes, that's another bag of yarn loot you see me holding there   : )  



On Sunday night we saw a Broadway musical.  To be more precise, it was the opening night for the previews.  I really don't know what the difference is between opening night & opening night for previews, but the show, Kinky Boots, was fantastic.  

I tried taking a few photos from our windows that night.  In no way do they capture the real thing, but here they are anyway.   



We really had a wonderful time & it was good to get away from the devil's playground for a while   : )   We are looking forward to returning again one day.