Sunday, November 7, 2010
When we first moved into our house, we weren't sure if we loved or despised our propane fireplace. It was easy to light and got the house plenty warm. But soon we realized it also did not have thermostatic control so we had to turn it off and on constantly. It made our eyes burn and it took up alot of room in the house. The efficiency rating on it was dismal and we just knew there had to be something better.
We had always longed for a good woodstove. It was not possible in the last house we owned cause it had a traditional built in fireplace. So it just seemed natural that we would swap out the propane fireplace for a brand spanking new woodstove at some point.
But as usual, with my DH, making decisions on things that cost bit bucks end up being a chore. Ken does not part with money easily!! So the last 2 winters came and went without us doing the switch. But the man does suprise me sometimes. About 6 weeks ago he came home with a sales slip from our local fireplace shop for a woodstove and a propane wall heater. Now we just had to wait for a very busy installer to get here and get it all put in for us.
Strangely enough, Ken did not bring home a picture of what he bought, nor could he describe it very well. So I ended up looking the model number up on line in order to be able to see what we were getting. I was hoping for a more traditional cast iron type stove but it was not to be. He bought a more modern looking cold rolled steel design from Vermont Castings. It is said to be a very sturdy model that will outlast us. Cast iron can crack with age, and cold rolled steel should never be able to do that. Yeah, whatever. I know it came down to dollars!! But once it was in, it looks pretty good with our living space and style and I am fine with it. It is one that has a large enough top surface to be able to cook on it if the power ever went out during a snow storm so that is a plus. And it sure does heat nicely without taking up too much floor space.
Now in case you thought we were smart people, shake it off. Cause we didn't think to maybe buy wood to have on hand ahead of time. So when cold weather hit the day after the stove got installed we were in a panic to have something to burn. Luckily, enough people sell wood in the area that we were able to get a load delivered that very next afternoon, just in time for our first very cold night. The stove heats up fairly fast and soon we found that not only were we going to love it, the dogs were in total heaven. Usually in the evenings they get pretty rowdy in the house and drive me a bit loco. But now they are more than happy to veg in the space between the back of the sofa and the stove itself. Sometimes they get so close that I worry they might burn their nose if they stretch wrong in their sleep. But they snuggle up, stay warm and sleep the evening away, leaving me in total peace to knit or watch TV. Who knew? All we needed was a good toasty spot for them to sleep in and we could have saved all that money we spent on toys!!
So here are pics. Starting with how it used to look and ending with a "few" of the doggie sleeping poses that I have managed to catch so far. Every time I think I have gotten all the cute shots, they come up with a new one. Please try to ignore the places where the paint needs touched up. Ken has to take a rather large paint chip somewhere to be mixed to match so we can fix the rest of the wall. At least all we had was a very small hole in the floor where the propane line had come up to the old unit. We simply placed the new stove right over that. Job done.
And now one last photo. This is of some of the wine I have made so far this year. The light colored bottle is dandelion and is now finished and into smaller bottles. The other 2 are elderberry. They just got reracked to get more of the sediment out of the liquid. I hope to be able to finish off the oldest bottle of that next time I do any racking. I also got a batch of wild persimmon into the secondary fermenter this same day and it is going to be some wonderful stuff. Sorry the pics are not as pretty as they should be. I am afraid the flash bounces off the liquid instead of going thru. I guess I could have slupped all this outside onto the porch to make nicer photos for all of you. Nope. I would rather wait and just let you taste it instead!!
There are a few more knitting projects done and I do need to come back and post about those separately. So expect me to do another post soon.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Several blog posts ago I told you all about my dear friend who is battling the little "c". The Lizzies have decided to not ever call it the big "C" again. Being the big "C" gave it to much credit and we are not going to let it take center stage in our lives. But darned it, if Jan, at least temporarily, isn't having to let it dominate her life. She is smack in the middle of some pretty tough chemo and heading into another round of testing to see how things are progressing. There is also a matter of another big firm place in the surgical breast. Hopefully the PET scan will reveal that it is a scar, seroma or infection and not more of the little "c".
But I knew I wanted to do something for her that would be from my heart. Something to warm her. And to be soft and comforting. And knitting is usually my avenue for that. Yes, I know she lives in South Florida. But when you are not feeling your best, have lost all your hair and are in over air conditioned doctor's offices, I knew a prayer shawl would be just the thing to keep her warm and to keep her spirits up.
This shawl is a generic Pi shawl, first discussed in length by my knitting goddess, guru, Elizabeth Zimmerman. I wish I could say I chose the yarn with the exact intent of making this shawl, at this time, for this exact person. But that is not the case. The day I decided to start, I went in my knitting/sewing room and saw 2 skeins of this wool/cashmere blend that I had bought at a fiber show back in April. I thought that it was pretty then and even prettier now cause it was just sitting there waiting to be knit into just the right thing. Trouble is, it ended up not being enough yarn and I had to order another skein. Twice. And the dye lots ended up not being the same any for either of the subsequent orders. But this shawl ended up being so organic and earthy that it worked. No overdyeing had to be done, which was something I did consider at one point.
I chose to do a simple garter stitch Pi which turned out lovely but I would probably not do again. First of all it ate up the yarn faster and didn't stretch out as far once finished. But the edging I found later on in another book worked out perfectly with it to give it just a touch of romance after all the garter stitch. I loved doing this edging using a "knitted on" technique which meant I never really had to cast off those 567 stitches that were live around the outer edge. I just used them up by doing a knit 2 together each time I got to the inside edge of a row of the lace. I am not sure I ever want to know what it is like to have to cast off that many stitches!!
The gift was very well received by Jan!! Never doubted that it wouldn't be, cause she is such a sweet heart. And I think they both are probably munching away on Cranberry Pistachio biscotti right now. Wish I had saved some of that for me!!!!
Stop the presses....I kinda forgot to take pictures of the monkey. Off to do a quick photo shoot....
This monkey was a fun knit but one pattern that you needed to read line by line and page by page. There are tons of short rows, plenty of increases and decreases and a few new techniques to learn, such as intarsia in the round. But the pattern is written spot on perfect, and is achievable by anybody who is a step above a rank beginning knitter. There are only 2 seams to worry about when the knitting is done. One short on at the crotch which is left open for stuffing and a partial whip stitch seam to fasten the bottom half of the muzzle to the lower part of the face. You do have to sew on the eyes but I found that very easy to do. The pattern does call for any weight of yarn and the appropriate size of needles to have a tight gauge when worked. I chose worsted weight, Cascade 220 Tweed to be exact. The total length is 15" not including his tail or 9" when sitting to the top of his head. The pattern pics show him knit in self striping sock yarn. I am not sure I would personally enjoy knitting him in yarn that small. Doing all that work and having a 5" tall monkey when done just doesn't grab me much. But hey, the striping effect is really cute. Here is the link to the pattern. But if you aren't on Ravelry you will have to join to be able to purchase this pattern. But hey, Ravelry is free, and oh so much fun. So go ahead and join like the entire rest of the knitting world.
I am half way done with the purple twin to Jacobus. It will be for the 2nd granddaughter. And I already have a request to do one for my walking partner's daughter for Christmas so I ordered another skein of Cascade, this time in a pretty aqua blue. I have a number of other knitting projects on the invisible list for the holidays and really need to pump up the production if I want to get most of them done. So expect some more project posts soon. None as picture heavy as this one, I am sure...
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Next up are little nesties to be. I had some space at the end of my row of lima beans and thought I would throw a couple bird house gourd seeds in to climb up the trellis. Those 2 seeds gave me an amazing amount of fruit. These are all I picked but there are still some out on the fence that might still be large and nice enough to make houses for wrens or other such small birdies. But I am thinking I may have 3 to 4 large enough for Purple Martins and many more for finches, nuthatches and such. They are all now into my attic to dry for the winter and then next spring I will pull them all back down and do the finishing up work on them to get them out in time for the early spring arrivals. Gee, after writing all that, I may be a bit presumtuous to think I will have them done for 2011. Maybe 2012? BTW-the moldy spots on several of the gourds do not automatically mean they should be discarded. I have it on good authority that most of those spots turn out lovely after drying and can add to the decorating possiblities..
I got silly this afternoon and tried to change the look of my blog a bit. I am not sure if I am just not a techie, but it sure wasn't easy or predictable as to how it was gonna look. I will leave it this way for awhile and try to go back and redo it later on. I still don't understand why I can't get the photo slideshow to only be of my pictures. So ignore that. I can only wish I did some of that crazy quilting!!
Be back soon. Got several more projects just about ready to show off!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Lake Logan, North Carolina, 2010.....gathering place for Lizzies far and wide. A place to come together to sew, knit, laugh, hug, cry, talk, eat, drink, walk, sit in the sun, run thru the rain and even try to get in a little restorative sleep. A time to see old friends and to finish up projects that have been sitting on the back burner, some as long as from Lake Logan 2009!!
I think this year was a bit more important to all of us than in the 2 years past. Cause this year we have had so many health scares amoung our group. It seems our ta-ta's have been misbehavin' all thru out the group. Several Lizzies have had some bad scares, that have led to biopsies. Luckily most have come back normal. But for one of us, the news came back badly, and in a big way.
One of the sweetest souls on earth found out a few months ago that she did have aggressive lobular carcinoma of the breast. And even worse, they also found tumor in her brain. So our dear Jan had both a lumpectomy and a cyberknife procedure to melt away the lesion in the brain. The rest of us have felt a bit helpless, being so geographically far away from south Florida where Jan lives. So being able to see some of the rest of the Lizzies just made me feel like I was almost able to reach out and hug Jan myself. And I am sure many of the other Lizzies felt that way also. Plus it gave us the chance to all wear our "Friends Don't Let Friends Fight Cancer Alone" t-shirts and have a group picture taken. Our catch phrase for saying our prayers is, I am going to the rock. So we found the biggest rock we could, climbed up and had a picture made. I can not take credit for this photo. My people pictures don't always seem to come out that well.
This year we had 14 of the actual Lizzies participate and 1 honorary Lizzie. I think the furthest any one travelled was Martha, all the way from Colorado Springs. But then there were lots from all up and down the east coast, several from the midwest, me from 1 state over and Debbie right there in North Carolina. Dee, the honorary Lizzie is also local. We were able to occupy the lodge at Lake Logan which had room for almost all of us to sleep and plenty of room to sit and visit. A few girls did have to stay in one of the smaller cabins but it was a whole lot closer to the dining hall!! We still sewed in Celebration Hall which is still plenty big enough for all that came. Everybody brought the cutest, sweetest little personal gifts to exchange. I brought the felted pincushions which I think everybody liked. As usual, these girls work hard while they are there. I even got alot done in my 4 days. I pretty much finished my quilt top and did alot of knitting. Alas, when I got home I realized I will still have to add a small border all the way around the quilt before I can send it off to be quilted.
All to soon, it was time to head out for home. I decided to drive south on Lake Logan road until it dead ended into the Blue Ridge Parkway. It looked on the map like it might be an easier way to go, since I can not seem to keep from getting lost going thru Waynesville!! It was a gorgous day and I was hoping to finally see some of those Smokies without all the rain that kept me from seeing them last year.
About 10 miles south of the lake, there was a gorgeous spot where the river widens and slows down a bit. The banks are rocky but very picturesque and peaceful. But somehow, big clod that I am, managed to fall down and really crack my head. I mean hard. Seeing stars and wondering if I am going to black out, hard. I actually laid there for a minute wondering if I was going to be sick to my stomach. Finally I did get up and was able to walk..stagger...back to the car. After a minute or two, I did feel alot better, albeit, with a headache. But I figured I was going to live, unless a slow bleeder in my brain got me later on. I never even noticed that I had also falled on the back of my forearm and it was bruised from wrist to elbow. So what do I do another 10 miles down the road? Get out and take a 4 mile solo hike thru the woods to a really pretty, very remote waterfall!! Oh yeah, probably well out of cell phone range. But hey, if I died, I would have been a good meal for a bear or cougar!! I did get some good pics of the south section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. When I got to where state highway 74 crosses the parkway and goes on up into the Smokies, I turned and headed home. The headache was finally winning and I just wanted to get home. Maybe next year I will finally drive thru the Smokies, and it will not rain on me!!
This is where I fell
The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful. My sciatica didn't even get bothersome til I was less than 50 miles from home. The furbabies were of course happy to see me as well as the poor hapless hubby who just wanted some sort of home cooked meal after a week of sandwiches.
I do have several other things to post in the next few days. Pics of the almost done quilt, some pretty stuff out of the garden, several neat knitting projects and such. But for now it is time to take the doggies out for one last potty and then we are all hitting the hay. See you soon
Monday, September 20, 2010
I have a daily walking partner here in Tenneessee that would literally give me the shirt off her back. All I have to do is mention that the new bag she just whipped up over the weekend would go perfectly with the new little bag I am making, and it is given to me without hesitation. Constant jars of jelly and fresh veggies are being sent home with me. And she made sure that for the first time in years, that I had a freshly baked chocolate cake on my birthday, along with a gardening apron she made just for me.
So I knew I had to do something for her birthday. Something that did not involve my sewing machine. Since I guess I took my machine in for service to the most popular place ever, and the waiting list was made longer by some surgery that the service guy apparently needed to recover from, taking off a few days in the interim. And me being the only person I know, with just 1 machine.
So I knitted this lovely little pincushion. You basically knit this wool sphere, stuff it when it is almost totally done, finish off the knitting and then felt it in your washing machine. After 3 to 4 cycles thru it is this lovely shrunken ball that needs to have the fuzzies removed with a shaver. Then you use crochet cotton to sew thru the middle and make the divisons around the pin cushion which further helps the shaping. The last thing is to sew a pretty button in the middle. The one here is a pearlized glass, not antique, but pretty.
The other item that made sense to me was a needle book. She does sew a fair bit, and embroiders some too. She had admired my crazy quilt needle book, before Holly chewed it up some, and so I knew she would like it. I did not have the time to do something quite as ornate as mine but this one seemed to be a pretty compromise. The outside is green dupioni and the inside, which I forgot to take a picture of, is a green striped silk from a blouse I bought years ago at a Goodwill. When I picked out these 2 fabrics, I was not thinking at all about the wool I would need for the pages. I knew I had a few peices put away to do needlebooks but had no idea about what colors they might be. Lo and behold, when I pulled out my stash, the only 3 colors I had were a subtle but matching green, blue and a totally unstuitable orange. So the inside pages are blue and green.
I wanted to dress up the front so I thought doing her initial would be a good fast idea. Trouble is, I can't freehand anything and I only had 2 old books with any monogram ideas. The one I chose was a bit smaller than I would have liked but it still turned out OK. The beads are vintage lucite from my much smaller stash than I remembered having. Must remedy that on ebay!! The bug is a button bought years ago at a quilt show. We both garden and this little green beetle reminds me of the hideous cucumber beetles we both battle all summer long.
So when I got ready to take them down to her I thought to myself, Good job Ann. I rarely say that when I make something for anyone. Which is why I rarely do give handmade gifts. But I just knew she was going to like these. And she did. Told me they looked so professional and expensive. And that she would treasure them forever. This morning she let me know she was already obsessing over what she was going to do for my next birthday!! Let it go, girl. I was at the top of my game with these 2 things. It's all downhill from here out!!