Friday, November 30, 2007

Signs of the season!

it's beginning to behave like winter in these parts. It's finally cold but we don't have enough moisture or sustained cold to bring on a good snow. But there are signs of the season around our house. First we have this:

We put the snowguy out! We actually put him out before Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that snowpeople are not Christmas thingies, but winter thingies. We keep him up into March. DH and I love snow. We think of him as our snowy good luck charm. Maybe if we keep him out, the Gods will smile and send a blizzard!

Next we have this:

Now those are for Christmas and they went up this week! We have been keeping the candles in the windows year round. Our house sits off the road a bit and it looks so dark and haunted from the street at night! The candles make it a little less ominous!

Third--we have this:

Another pair of favorite boots! I blogged about my Western boots a couple of weeks ago. They are the first boots to be worn any fall season. These are certainly to be the second pair. I got these at my favorite shoe store-- Little's Shoes in Pittsburgh a couple of years ago. I found these boots to be very unusual and I really love them. That's one thing I miss about having to drive Bird back and forth to the Burgh for school. It was always a good excuse to visit Littles--particularly in January when they have their big sale! Another thing I get there are these:

Kunert Socks! I love these socks more than you can possibly know! They are extremely thin wool that has been infused with aloe. They were originally made for diabetics. They are soft and they go well under dress boots --plus they are really warm! I think I have 4 or 5 pairs of them! I've never ventured to making hand knit socks because I wear boots when I wear socks! Why make fabulous socks that you can't see!

Last we have this:

As soon as the weather started getting cold, Harley started sleeping next to the portable radiator in our bathroom. I remember Peanut would do the same thing with the fireplace screen. He would get up right against it whether there was a fire or not. Harley spends everynight there. As you can see, he likes to pull my bathtowel down and make a little nest. I think I need to get a towel for him so that I don't have to put cat hair all over myself everytime I shower!

I need to get crackin' and finish up the Tree Jacket! I'm almost there!

Bushism of the day:
"We are fully committed to working with both sides to bring the level of terror down to an acceptable level for both." —George W. Bush, after a meeting with congressional leaders, Washington, D.C., Oct. 2, 2001

Kitty cam:
See above! Harley --aka Bar, Barley, Barley-boo, Little Mister Pink Nose, Weasel Boy, Tiny Tuxedo #2--is the star of today's kitty cam!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: What I Wear, Week 5

Something old, something new . . .

I love vintage clothes and have a collection of dresses from the 1950's and jackets from the 1940's. There's just something about the clothes from that period that I love. For one thing, they were made for women with curves. Secondly, they were usually made with a lot of little details that you no longer see--extra seams, bound buttonholes, fancy cuffs, and the list goes on. I like mixing my vintage wear with contemporary accessories. Here I am wearing my favorite winter 50's dress. It is made out of black corduroy and has 4 rows of mini ball fringe around the torso. I am wearing it with vintage gloves and new fishnets and, of course, Icon shoes. I love the fit of this dress and the versatility of it. It can be worn with flats and a cardigan for more of a schoolgirl look, or with stiletto heels and gloves for a dressier look!

Such a girly girl thing!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back on track!

I was able to pick up my knitting again last night! I have finally gotten to the point on Tree Jacket where I separate the sleeves from the body. I tried it on and found that the XS is going to fit just fine. I thought I'd have to make the S which is what I made for Rusted Root. This yarn has so much more stretch to it than the cotton I used for Rusted Root. I absolutely love this yarn and can't wait to see how it wears. It is Tahki Savoy which is 52% silk, 48% merino. I'm hoping that the merino will help the garment to keep its shape and not stretch out while being worn.

At the time the photo was taken I had knit 2 repeats of the lace pattern. My Addis are only 24" so the fabric is quite bunched up. Speaking of Addis, I decided to use them on this project instead of my KnitPicks options. I really prefer the Addis. I find that the knit fabric slides along the cable much better than on the KnitPicks cable which is sort of limp in comparison. I use the Options needles when I want to try the sweater on. I attach the 60" cable and knit a row with those needles. There is enough excess cable that I can stretch the sweater way out when trying it on without worrying that I will lose stitches. Once I've done that, I just knit the next row back onto the Addis. The KnitPicks are better for lacey designs though. I used them on the lace for Sahara which involved purling 3 stitches together through the back loops. I just couldn't work that maneuver on the Addis as the points are just too dull. The lace on Tree Jacket only involves knitting two together which is no problem!

My other FO is not of the knitting variety. I did the swags for my living room.

Basically, all I had to do was angle the ends of the fabric and do a narrow machine hem. The tough part was draping them so that they were even and fell the way I wanted them to. I have a coordinating fabric for sheers. I'm debating whether or not to make them at this time. I like the windows being open. We get a lot of light in that room and the sheers would diffuse it. I also miscalculated my measurements. I had originally planned for the curtain to hang a few inches below the window on one side and only halfway down on the other for an assymetrical look. As it turned out, both sides hang to the floor! I had no clue as to how much fabric to allow for the drape over each window. It's all good though because I rather like the way they turned out! Now I have to do the ones for the dining room. Again, they will involve minimal sewing but the draping will be very tricky. There are 3 colors of sheers which have to be sort of braided. It's hard to explain. I will post a photo whenever they get done!

I have to mentally prepare myself for school tomorrow! Actually I think the mental preparation is more for getting up before the sun than for school. I like school. I hate getting up when it's dark. There should be rules about that!

Bushism of the day:
"I'm hopeful. I know there is a lot of ambition in Washington, obviously. But I hope the ambitious realize that they are more likely to succeed with success as opposed to failure." —George W. Bush, Jan. 18, 2001

Kitty Cam:
The tiny tuxedo twins compete for space on DH's lap.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Home for the Holidays

Finally! My house is actually back to "normal" once again! Just in time for the holidays! For those of you who have no clue as to what I'm talking about, here's a little history. We live in an old farm type house which was built in the early 1920's. When we moved in (1982) our living room had panelling and the dining room had panelling and this horrible wall board which looked like wallpaper. The entire first floor had suspended dropped ceilings--like those you see in schools. The dining room had this tacky hanging light which looked like a wooden wagon wheel--think redneck barroom here. A long time ago, we literally doubled the size of the house with an addition in the back--36 feet wide, 20 feet out, two finished floors plus an attic suitable for finishing and an additional basement. This included an entirely new kitchen, laundry room, powder room, master bedroom with dressing area and huge bathroom. We've been enjoying this part of the house for sometime now. About 6 years ago, DH decided to redo the living room. He tore down the paneling and the dropped ceilings revealing plaster walls which needed some repair. We put plastic on the floors and lived in this state for about 2 years. After new drywall, paint and other things, I got the living room back in order only to have DH decide that it was time to redo the dining room. So, we took a couple of weeks to pack up the antique china, Waterford crystal, collectibles and whatnot then moved all the boxes to the living room along with the dining room chairs and the boxes of living room nick nacks which I still had to go through. So then I had a living room and dining room which could not be used. The living room was completely full of boxes with a path about 18 inches wide to the piano. This took place in 2004 as revealed by the newspapers we used to wrap stuff in. Here's a photo of the tiny tuxedo twins sunbathing on the loveseat surrounded by --well--junk!

We've been working on the dining room--new drywall over the plaster and paint. DH had to make wood mouldings for the french doors and windows and we had to have an antique light fixture restored:

We got the dining room together for Em's birthday on the 11th with the exception of some of the stuff hung on the wall. Last week I traded in my knitting needles for these tools:

I covered by worn brown leather chair seats.

Actually Sam was the first to use the dining room:

The next morning, I found all 4 of them sleeping under the table.

In fact every day, I find both Harley's and Sam's favorite toys under the table only to then find them upstairs in our room at night!
I found a silver Art Nouveau epergne to put on the table:

It looks particularly lovely with fresh flowers in it! At least the tiny tuxedo twins seem to think so! This has become their favorite spot to sunbathe!

We had Thanksgiving here and I had fun setting the table up fancy!

We had our family plus KC and my friend Cat and her daughter Caitlin. Cat made mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, Ems and KC brought marinated asparagus and seared, herbed tuna. KC is taking food prep classes so Ems is really enjoying his cooking! I fixed the turkey, Harvest Dressing ( that's my special stuffing recipe), broccoli, sweet potatoes with praline topping, corn pudding, and a pumpkin, apple tart in puff pastry. I think we will be eating Thanksgiving dinner for the next week depending on how many leftovers Bird decides to scarf!

When I was unpacking the living room, I came across the box of fiesta serving pieces that my friend Cat gave me as a thank you gift. She used to collect vintage Fiesta and I still do. First she gave me the five nesting mixing bowls:

These bowls were made in the 6 original colors and there were 7 sizes. I hope to find bowls 6 in green then bowl 7 in any of the other colors. She also gave me a set of 2 stacking cannister bowls with the lid and the covered casserole in red and the blue carafe with stick handled creamer which can be seen added to some of my other vintage pieces here:

I'm finding that these unusual serving pieces have become really collectible and they have really gone up in value even though Fiesta is being reproduced now in other colors. The old stuff has gone nuts! I use vintage fiesta as my everyday dishes, but I'm getting a little leary of using my serving pieces for fear of chipping them!

It will be so nice to actually be able to decorate the house for the winter holidays! I have a collection of snowmen that I haven't been able to put out the last few years. I also got the creche that my dad made when I was a kid that I hope to put out as well.

Life can get back to normal, if normal includes holiday preparation. My knitting group is having a cookie exchange on Dec. 12 which should be fun. I need to get going on Tree Jacket to finish her up, though she may have to hibernate until after Christmas so I can get some Christmas knitting done.

Time to go measure for window treatments! I refuse to go into any stores today. I figured it's a good day to get stuff done around here!

Bushism for the day:
"I've always found the best investments are those that you salt away based on economics." —George W. Bush, Austin, Texas, Jan. 4, 2001

Kitty Cam: Mikey has found the new living room rug to be his favorite napping place!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: What I Wear, Week 4

Autumn is officially here. In fact--at my house autumn officially arrived on Sunday October 28. How do I know? Because that was the first day I put on these:

In spite of all the high fashion shoes--I always gravitate toward these boots. My husband gave them to me for Christmas several years ago, and they are what I wear most of the time when I'm not at work all fall and winter. My casual uniform is pretty much these boots, jeans and my favorite handknit thrift store sweater!

Spring will officially arrive when I get out my sandals and paint my toes bright orange! Until then, I'll just keep kickin' it in my boots!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: What I Wear, Week 3

I can see clearly now. . .

my specs are on--to paraphrase that song from the 70's. They say that the eyes are the first thing to go. It's true. I've never "needed" glasses. I've only worn them periodically. I was horrified, after turning 50, to find that I could no longer read stuff I was used to reading on a regular basis. I bought some drug store reading glasses which were fine until I looked in the mirror. I realized that I looked like Miss Warren, my elementary school principal. I remember shuddering in fear whenever I saw her peering over the top of her glasses which sat on the end of her nose. I took corrective measures immediately and got myself some stylin' specs! These have progressive lenses which are clear on top, so I can keep them on if I need to. Now, I can read music and entertain my little darlings all day long! No longer can I blame my missed notes on poor eyesight!

For more of what people wear, visit the Self Portrait Challenge.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

As promised. . .

Here's a picture of my finished Juliet being worn!

I thought it would be something for transitioning from summer to fall, but I may find myself wearing it over a slim fitting knit top as in the picture. I quite like it!

My knitting queue for the winter seems to be getting longer. I need to stop looking at knitting books. There are a couple of things in the new IK that I will have to make. But the real kicker is the new pattern that Stitch Diva will be putting out soon. They sent a newsletter about it and I just have to have it! It is called Giselle and it was designed by Marnie Maclean.

I am particularly fond of the cropped version. This sweater just cries out to be knit in some type of silk--maybe Tilli Tomas. She does discount her stuff at Sheep & Wool, so I think I have a plan! Meanwhile, I am loving knitting the Tree Jacket. The yarn is like a dream!

The weather is turning colder. I am breaking out Sahara to wear for the first time tomorrow. Goody, goody!

Bushism of the day:
"There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead." —George W. Bush, May 11, 2001

Kitty cam:
His Highness, Lord Harley sleeps on his pillow most of the day!

I guess he didn't appreciate my intruding upon his quiet time!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: What I Wear, Week 2

I walk in art.

I discovered Icon Shoes about 7 years ago. I remember stopping dead in my tracks when I saw a pair of oxfords with Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup painting on them in a store window display. Icon Shoes have famous artwork on them. They are beautifully made and truly unique. Over the years, I've amassed quite a collection of them which has earned me the nickname of the "Shoe Queen" at work. Some days I walk in DaVinci, other days it may be Gaugin, Monet or Klimt. Then there are the days I may walk in modern art--Warhol, Palanker or Sicre. What will it be today? Ahhh--I will be walking in Degas' Ballerinas!

Often the color of my outfit will determine which shoes I wear, but sometimes it's the art. Some days certain works of art just speak to me. And for those days that I don't walk in art, well, then I carry it! I've carried my Icon bag with Klimt's painting of Adele Blocker-Bauer daily for the last 3 years and will probably continue to do so until it is in shreds!

There needs to be more art in the world. As a music teacher, I feel the squeeze--less arts, more reading and math. It's so sad. I will still do my part. I will continue to sing all day and walk in art!

For more of what people wear, go here!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Another one bites the dust!

Another FO, that is! I finished Juliet last night. I even did the button loops, buttons and wove in the yarn tails! Here she is drying on the blocking board.

I will model her when she is dry. Here are the details:
Yarn: Cascade Venezia (bulky weight, 70% merino, 30% silk)
Color: White Heaven
Needles: Knitpicks Options, size 10.5
Pattern: Zephyr Style Juliet, Size S
No modifications
Buttons: Mother of Pearl

I think this will be a very serviceable sweater. I wanted a neutral color cardigan for the cooler summer nights.

I have swatched for Tree Jacket. I am using Tahki Savoy which is a worsted weight yarn of 52% silk, 48% merino. This yarn is indescribably soft. It just feels delicious in my hands. It swatched to gauge on the recommended size 8 needles. I also played a bit with the lace pattern. Everyone has had problems with the lace twisting and I really don't want mine to do that. The lace pattern for the body is: K4, YO, K2tog, YO, K2tog. I thought I would try to do mirror image decreases so I did two repeats of the lace in K4, YO, K2tog, YO, SSK. I could see that it would twist so I then tried two repeats as recommended by someone on the Zephyr message board: K3, K2tog, YO, K1, YO, SSK. That looks like it will be straight, so that's how I will do Tree Jacket! I plan on pretty much following the pattern.

Other accomplishments--I finally hemmed the jeans I got this summer at True Jeans. It was suggested that I hem them with the original hem. I was amazed at how much easier it was to do it that way instead of all the cutting and measuring. Plus the original hem just looks so much better. I made a little tutorial on how to do this. You can find it here.

Nothing else much to talk about this weekend except that I went to a conference Friday and Saturday. That's about it!

Bushism of the day:
"I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2001

Kitty cam:
Ems was out of town, so I went over to give Mokey some love! He was only too happy to show off for the camera!