Thursday, February 15, 2018

A BIG JOB

I kind of stumbled into a big job today.  It began with sorting a few fabrics for another quilt.  I didn't get much sewing done in AZ this year and am eager to do some in the next two months before we get busy in the Garden Centre.  So I was digging through my stash and got kind of carried away.  It turned into a complete clean out of the sewing room closet.  This first picture is looking toward the mostly empty closet.  Some of the mess is ranged around the floor.  The container with the white/black fabric and the red fabric is one sorted bin.  It will have the larger pieces of material, bigger than a fat quarter but not as big as a piece of backing.
The second picture looks in the opposite direction.  These boxes and bins have the scraps of fabric big enough to make blocks.  The fabric is (mostly) sorted by colour, a box of reds, a box of blues, etc.  I did a lot of that sorting, ironing, folding and putting away of this size scrap today.

Then I hauled out all the boxes that were on the floor of the closet.  They contained mostly fabric for sewing clothing.  Some of this was bought more than 20 years ago.  For instance, there's a very nice red/white/blue linen plaid that was intended for a blazer and just never happened.  These two boxes and two containers are filled with those fabrics and will be donated to the local second-hand shop.


Last fall I wrote about the huge donation of fabric that came into the sewing room in our village in AZ.  Joan and I spent a LOT of time sorting through all that.  Remembering how much work that was inspired me to get at it now and not leave it for our kids to do after I'm gone.  Plus, I love having things clean and organized. 

There's more to do yet in terms of sorting through each of the boxes and getting rid of fabrics that won't be used.  But the major part of this BIG JOB is now done!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

HOME-HOME AGAIN

After a three day drive we arrived home in AB at 4:45 on Sunday afternoon.  It was terribly cold! -28ºF.  What an adjustment!  We quickly unpacked the car, turned up the heat; the house was warm enough because S. had turned up the heat for us but as cold as we were we wanted MORE HEAT!  The gas fireplace in the living room was not working for some reason.  Later we found out that the gas for all of the area had been abruptly turned off in November when a construction crew for a new subdivision breached a gas line.  Today the gas co. rep. came and relit the pilot light for us.

Today the temps rose to right around freezing.  A BIG IMPROVEMENT!

Today was the regular meeting of the quilt club here in town and it was a treat for me to go and be warmly welcomed back by my quilting friends.  We always have such a good time together--lots of teasing and joking, lots of laughter, plus a nice Valentine's treat for tea time in the afternoon.

I finished the two blocks for the quilt we plan to donate to the Seniors' Outreach for a raffle to help support them with their budget shortfall.  There were a lot of upgrades to the hall where we meet, resulting in a major deficit for that group.  We're trying to help.

Then I also made a block for a quilt I plan to make:

I had a lot of trouble making the block (the top one of the two) and felt like I was having a really "dumb" day!  But in the end if turned out o.k.  I kind of like using more of the different black/white fabrics in this block.  I'll see how many I can make before the material runs out.  I plan a 40" x 52" lap quilt (approx.) to donate.  We'll see how it goes.

This photo should be lightened, but I have such trouble with my iPhoto, that I hardly dare do something like that--it so often produces "black screen."

I bought an iPad last week and am in the process of setting it up.  NOT EASY!  But it would be very handy to be able to travel with just an iPad rather than the laptop.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

GRAMMILOU'S BOOKSHELF

Recently I've reread a few books that I read a long time ago.  They were good books, worth rereading.

The first was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, a coming of age story about Francie Nolan, granddaughter of Irish immigrants, growing up in the early 1900's in New York.  France and her family are very poor, but find joy in life in simple things and the closeness of a loving family.  Just as good in a second reading as in the first.

Then I reread My Antonia by Willa Cather.  It describes the life of young Jim Burden, orphaned, gone to live with his grandparents and of Antonia, daughter of a neighbouring family, extremely poor immigrants living in a dugout on the prairies.  These best friends spend their childhood together, forming a close bond that endures throughout life. The descriptions of life and nature are brilliant.

Water for Elephants is a much more recent book, well known also from the movie.  Jacob Jankowski, a young man about to graduate from Cornell Veterinary School suddenly loses his parents in a car accident and finds that all their money and assets were consumed by the bank which held the mortgage that financed his education.  Distraught, he cannot write his final exams, leaves the campus and wanders into a travelling circus where he is welcomed, after some ordeals, and becomes the circus vet.  The story is told in flashbacks from his perspective as an old man living unhappily in a care home.  Lots of interesting details about elephants, circus life and dangerous personal relationships.  A "can't put it down" read.

Just now I finished rereading The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  This is not an easy book to read, a post apocalyptic novel of a man and boy travelling painfully through a dead, ashen world, dealing with roaming bands of predatory people, cold, starvation.  Quite horrifying, but illuminated by the self-sacrificing love of the man for his son, with a surprising ending.

For our coming time in the car I bought Louise Erdrich's newest novel, Future Home of the Living God.  She is one of my favourite writers, and I've read most of her books.  I've no idea what this one is about.  And we have along a copy of Walter Isaacson's Leonardo Da Vinci.  That makes me remember our junior high school art teacher, Mrs. Post, who, we all joked, was in love with Leonardo, as she talked about him with such rapture.  I've started reading this and find it very well written.

What interesting books have you read lately?  

Saturday, February 3, 2018

THE SHAWL GOT AWAY!

The shawl was finished yesterday about 2 p.m. and was immediately given away.  It went to my friend Marcy who has had some health struggles lately.  When I started knitting it I thought it was for me, but by the time it was halfway finished I knew it was meant for Marcy.  I forgot to get a picture of the finished shawl before I gave it away.  It looked much the same as before, but just longer.  I bought a beautiful, big red button for it and thought it looked just smashing.  I already have the yarn to make another one.  That will make a good project for the long drive back to Alberta.

We have reached our last week here.  The time seemed to go by so quickly.  Partly because I was quite sick for some weeks there in December, and it took a long time to get back to my usual self.  Also, we had quite a few visitors this year.  In fact, my little sewing room was packed up in a corner of the closet since the first week of December, so there was very little sewing accomplished.  I had cut out squares to make a Disappearing Four Patch quilt to donate here but never sewed even one seam for that quilt.  The squares will go home-home again with me, and hopefully I will get that done this summer.  (A friend on mine distinguishes between her home here and her home in Portland, OR by calling the home here "home" and the home in Portland "home-home."  That works!)

What did really work well for me this year was my time on the wonderful pipe organ at church.  I had 6 hours a week on the organ this year, and that was a great joy!  I was privileged to play three pieces in the "Organ Marathon" and then this past Sunday Gloria and I played a piano/organ duet on "Our Father" by J.S. Bach for the morning offertory.  That was a good experience and I had several very nice comments on it.  Practicing regularly makes such a difference!  So that was one of my highlights of this winter, although I was unable to get to the organ for about five weeks due to the flu and the time needed to recuperate.

I also very much enjoyed playing in the Sun Cities Chamber Orchestra again this year.  Our viola section has become a group of friends; we even went out for lunch once day with four of the six of us.  One of our members is getting too old to drive so he was not able to come along, as his ride needed to go straight home.  I also enjoyed playing in the cantata for the Bellevue Heights Baptist Church.

So here we are up to our last week.  I need to clean and pack and make final arrangements for change of address, etc.  We leave on Friday morning for the three day drive (depending on the weather) and on Friday afternoon our renter comes in.  We've never met him, but he's a good tenant and always takes good care of the place.

There probably won't be much news this coming week, as it is just a matter of tying up ends and leaving everything in good order.  If anything remotely interesting happens on the road home I'll post it.  In the meantime, have a good weekend and a productive week!

Friday, January 19, 2018

MORE ON THE SHAWL

This is the shawl I started last week Saturday.  Here are some more details on that project and pattern.

The yarn is Lion Brand "Scarfie" colour 216, Cream/Silver.  There are 5.3 oz/150g in a ball, 312 yds./285 m., gauge: 14sts/4" or 10 cm. on US #9 needles or metric 5.5.  The needles I'm using are Knit Picks, Interchangeable Rainbow Wood Needles.  There are 9 sets of points, sizes US 4/3.5 mm to US 11/8.0mm.  They came with four cables, but no cable connectors. The wood points are very, very smooth and that makes for fast knitting.

These points screw onto the cables, which gives a very smooth join.  The stitches don't get "hung up" on the join while you knit, so the knitting moves along very smoothly.  That's such an advantage!  But there was a problem with them early on.  I hadn't noticed that the points tended to "screw loose" from the cables while I was knitting.  Suddenly the right hand point came loose from the cable and stitches were hanging off the gap (no picture)!  I transferred the right hand stitches, already knit, to the left hand needle and reattached the point to the cable.  After that experience, I "rescrew" the join after each row--no more problems.  Here you see the point and the cable partly unscrewed.
I especially appreciate these needles because I used to have a set of "Denise" interchangeable.  That join between the needle and the cable was quite bumpy and stitches tended to get hung up on the join.

This morning I finished the first ball of yarn and started on the second one.  It was important to find out how far the first ball covered, to know if the second ball would be sufficient to finish the shawl.  I think it will work.  If it came up short I would need to buy a third ball, but I'm pretty sure there is enough yarn to finish.

When joining yarn I make a knot and a bow on the wrong side of the work.  
When the piece is finished I will go back, untie the bow and knot and weave in the ends of yarn. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

NOT THE SOCK...

Well, what I have been knitting the past few days is not the sock.  There's a new project.  It's always so much fun to start a new project!

My friend Mary brought this shawl, which she had bought at a flea market, to me and asked me to extract a knitting pattern from it.  Fortunately, it's a very simple shawl:

It doesn't look like much, just spread out like this.  You get a better idea when you see how it's worn:
I took this picture with the help of the mirror on the closet door.  My left hand is held out just to show you how long the shawl is when worn.  It's very cosy.

It was easy to chart this simple shawl.  Here's the run down:  
SIMPLE SHAWL:
Cast On 70 sts. (or as many as needed to create a width of 20").
Knit 12 rows in garter stitch.
Section A:
Row 1: Knit 6 stitches, purl to the last 6, knit the last 6 sts.
Row 2: Knit all stitches.
Alternate these two rows for 18 rows.
Section B:
Knit four rows garter stitch.
Alternate Section A and Section B until you have 11 sections.
Repeat Section A one more time.
Knit 12 rows garter stitch.
NOTE: In the second section A, row 8, knit 8 stitches, cast off 5 stitches.  In row 9, when you come to the cast off stitches, cast on 5 stitches, finish the row as per usual.

Mary's shawl was knit in a fairly heavy cotton yarn, 14 stitches to 4 inches.

My first try with the lovely acrylic yarn that I bought at Walmart was short 2 inches in width, so I pulled it out and recast with 77 stitches.  That version had a big problem: there was a knot in the ball of yarn causing an abrupt colour change from grey to cream, totally unacceptable.  I pulled that one out and recast with 80 stitches with my second ball of yarn.  That's the version you see here:

This is the version that was begun Saturday morning.  We had company from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning, during which time there was some progress made.  Since it's such a simple pattern it's possible to knit while visiting or watching t.v.

This yarn is from Lion Brand and it's called "Scarfie".  I really like how soft and smooshy it is.  It will be comfy to throw around my shoulders when I'm sitting reading or just need a bit of warmth when watching t.v.  And a scarf is a nice change from one pair of socks after another.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

I FEEL A LITTLE LOST...

I feel a little lost without a sock project on the needles!  I finished the pair for Zack, and the pair for my sister.  There is a pair I could finish that were started back in March as a demonstration for the sock knitting class, showing how to combine two different balls of yarn to get a nice mix of colours, but ...  they're not for any specific person.  The two granddaughters tried them on last week, but they were too small.  I should just get them out and finish them.  Maybe they would fit my friend Marcy who will be here tomorrow to sew with me.

When I get back home-home (Alberta, as distinguished from just "home" which is here in AZ), I will start a pair for Lola, who received my gift certificate and certificate of promise for a pair of hand-knit socks as the Pieceful Stitchers Christmas party.  Together we'll pick out the yarn for that, unless she already has bought the yarn.

I did start a hat to go with the scarf, but that's not too inspiring.  There's just a lot of plain garter stitch that needs to be done on that.

O.K., so I will get off my "duff" and get pick up that pair from March.  Picture of the finished pair will follow.