Thursdays

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My sister and I decided to try to reserve Thursday evenings for crafting together as a sort of New Year’s plan.  We started last week, and it was a success for her.  I showed her the tutorial I used for my lunch bag, and she made a water bottle carrier from a canvas curtain I bought at Goodwill last week.

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My project was less successful.  I added more slices in the fine line wall hanging I started a while back.  Black lines on a light background.  I’m definitely getting better at thinner lines, but I just didn’t like how it was turning out enough to keep going.  Maybe the color combo was too blah?  I also like 90 degree angles better, like I had on my first one, which was a better color combo as well – blue and white.

 

Anyway, I abandoned it to the scrap bin and chalked it up as technique practice.

Today we met up again.  My sister started out by making wavy lines with different decorative stitches.  The plan is to add embroidery and other embellishments between the lines.

 

I’d started a wall hanging on the weekend, without a strong plan in mind.  I got out my scraps and sewed a lot of strings together into blocks, and then cut the blocks repeatedly to make long striped strips.

 

Those then became frames around shot cotton rectangles, and then got their own black frames.  I revised them a couple of times until I got them the size and color combo I liked best.

 

Today I auditioned background colors and got started on filling in the connections between the blocks and making some stripes for the sides.

 

Not a lot of progress, but I have a clearer idea in my head of where I’m headed now.

And we’re having fun.

Summer’s end

 

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I go back to work tomorrow, and it rained yesterday for the first time in a couple months, so I guess we are finally letting go of summer.

There was very little fiber or fabric in my summer.  Too busy, too distracted, and just never in the mood.

Instead, we remodeled, and traveled, and lazed, in about equal amounts.

I took the first major road trip we’ve ever done with the kids.  My sister and I loaded up a 1970s tent trailer and the boys and took off for California, driving south for 8 days.  We stayed mainly in state parks along the way.

We stayed in the redwoods first.

And then headed over to the coast:

We saw wild and aquarium creatures of all sorts:

The boys enjoyed every minute of it, of course.

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(And oh, how I wish I could have recorded their appalled voices when they found out that national forests don’t supply wifi!  Insert evil mother’s laugh here.)

At the end of the eight days we reached Anaheim, dropped my sister at the airport, and greeted my husband, who had flown down to join us, and we temporarily traded the trailer for an air-conditioned hotel.

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Then it was a week of heat, and rollercoasters, and junk food.  It was the kids’ first time at Disney and Universal Studios, and my first time in 20 years.  I have really mixed feelings about that part of the trip.  It was crowded, and expensive, and exhausting, and omg-level hot, but it was also fun, and nostalgic, and scary, and funny.

And so much screaming.  My husband doesn’t do heights and falling, so I was designated rollercoaster parent.  So Much Screaming.  I may never recover from the Guardians of the Galaxy drops or the twists of the IncrediCoaster.  Frankly, I barely made it through the sliding gondolas of the California Adventure Ferris wheel.  My youngest and I clung to each other to the point of bruising on each ride.  But we were proud of ourselves after we shakily exited each car and shook the blood back into our limbs.

And now they can say we have taken them to Disney and we don’t have to do it again for another 15-20 years!

The last leg of the trip was a bit truncated.  We dropped Roni off at the airport, and the plan was for me and the boys to drive up I-5, stopping at historical spots and in the mountains along the way, but wildfires put an end to that.  Once we got to Sacramento, the smoke was starting to get bad, and the huge Redding fire meant it only got worse the further north that we got.  So, we sped up the plans and cancelled a lot of stops, and made it home in four days.

It was arid, and smoky, and we were a bit vacationed out, so it was just as well.  And once the tires on the elderly trailer started to go, I was about done with camping.

All in all, it was a great trip. The kids got to swim in pools and rivers.

They saw new parts of the country and drove some really twisty roads, and some really straight ones..

We learned that we really like tent trailer camping (no sleeping on the ground!) and I think we are going to buy one.

And I learned that changing a tire on the side of I-5 is possible, but not pleasant.

We are definitely going to hit the road again on future vacations.  But with newer tires.

And in all that time, and all those miles, this is how much knitting I got done:

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Check one off the bucket list

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I’d never seen the Grand Canyon close up.  I flew over it once in a small plane – something like 30 years ago – but I’d never stood on the edge and gazed.

Now I have.  It was amazing.  Overpowering.

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We drove up from the Phoenix area on the scenic route that goes through the red rock hills of Sedona, which are pretty amazing themselves.

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It was a bit of a whirlwind trip – we arrived in the evening on a Wednesday, so stuck to the fairly crowded viewing sites around the main visitor’s center for that evening.  The next day, after an overnight in a motel in Williams, AZ, which prides itself on being a stop on the famous Route 66 highway, we went back and spent the full day exploring along the southern rim.

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We started by hiking down into the canyon on the Bright Angel trail.  We did only a very small segment, just the first mile or so, because I kept reminding my sister and children that there was a very real possibility they would have to carry me out – an easy downhill makes for a very difficult, steep, upward climb on the return trip.  Signs the park has posted included illustrations of people throwing up, overcome by the climb out.  No one wanted that!

This is a partial view of the part that we walked, along with a lot of other people.  Mules had left a lot of clear signs that they also used the trail, which we carefully maneuvered around.

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This is more of the trail, showing where I called a halt – we stopped at the top of the extreme switchbacks that you see starting there.  Overall, we spent about two hours going down and up.  Enough to get a sense of the ambition and endurance of those who hike all the way down – it is a two day trip to get to the river and back out again by foot.

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There is a very helpful shuttle bus system set up along the rim that we used for the rest of the day.  It is a hop-on-hop-off system stopping at a multitude of overlooks.  The further out we got, the fewer the people, so there was a chance to stop and really look out over the canyon and think about how amazing nature’s processes are.

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We went full tourist at one point and faked some falling-from-the-edge shots to freak out the Grandmas on Facebook.

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Some grew a little weary of looking at scenic rocks.

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We met elk and learned that they eat pine needles.  A hard way to make a living.

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But mostly we just looked, and looked, and looked.  I just couldn’t have imagined how impressed I was going to be.

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The next morning we had to head back to Grandma’s, but we are already in family discussions about signing up for a hiking/rafting/mule trip in the future for the extended family.

Sad as we were to leave the Grand Canyon, the return to the pool was very welcome.

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And, because this is supposed to be a craft blog, not a family vacation blog, I’ll sneak in a picture of the mini-quilt that I made my mom a while back, that hangs on her hall wall:

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This was my first use of beads on a quilt.  I’m really itching to embroider some more cacti as well after all that time in Arizona, so we’ll see where that takes me in the near future.

 

 

 

Misc.

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One skein of Sockulent got me through the first branches chart repeat on Understoried, and through the men’s aerial skiing, which looks terrifying.  How do they get the nerve to hurl themselves so high and twist so much!?

The Chinese New Year means we are now in the year of the dog, my husband’s year.  Cute Theo photo in honor of the holiday:

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And, finally, I would also like to introduce what may be the first ever clarinet/guitar duo.  At least the first I’ve ever heard of.  They have big plans to take the music world by storm, as soon as they learn a few more chords.

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Happy New Year!

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I rang out 2017 with a glass of prosecco and the last rows of my Kiko Mariko project.  My boys stayed awake until midnight for first time on a New Year’s Eve – they were a lot more energetic than my husband and I.  At 12:06 we were all in bed.

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My sister made all the non-knit stockings hanging here. Even the dog got one.

I spent some time on the last day and the first day of 2017/18 cutting up scraps from various vacation projects.  My sister had come over to make a lot of new stockings for us all, I finished one of the charity quilts we’ve been slowly working on, and I pieced the backing for the new living room quilt.  So a lot of pieces were piled up, waiting to be sized.  I cut my scraps into 5″ squares when they are big enough, then 4 1/2″ as a second option.  If they are too small for that, they become strips or 2 1/2″ squares.  The littlest pieces go into a small bin for future tiny scrap projects like the still unfinished blob quilt.

The new year is the time to revisit my 2017 crafting goals.  Last year on New Year’s day I’d pulled out all my yarn.  We’ve moved since then, and both my yarn and fiber stash feel more organized now, so I’m not doing that again!

I went back and reviewed my crafting goal list for 2017.  To be honest, I didn’t do that well.  New shiny things distracted me from many of the older WIPs.  I can knock off maybe four of the things on that list, and a few more that I did away with because I knew they’d never get down (J’s crochet monster for example – he’s in middle school now and would be horrified at the damage to his dignity if I gave that to him.)

My spinning really suffered in 2017.  The urge just wasn’t there unless I was with my fiber friends.  I started and finished a few quilts, but the older ones are still languishing.  I didn’t get the king size bed quilt done, I didn’t knit a whole sweater, I didn’t weave a single length of fabric.  Honestly, it was the worst craft goal achievement ever!

And yet I did do a lot.  Many cowlsPatchwork furnishings.  Some quilts, though many of them were small or smaller.

And we moved!  So a lot of my crafting energy went into creating a new home for us.  House hunting, and getting the old house in sellable condition.  Packing and unpacking.  New floors, new windows, new fireplaces, new furniture, and the list goes on and on.  So many weekends and so much energy were taken up with that, so I’m giving myself a break on the less successful goal finishing.

And, wiser now, I’m not making a long specific list of goals for 2018.  Instead, my goals are to use my stash as much as possible, be judicious with the spending for new additions to the stash, and to try to finish more projects than I start, at least until the WIP pile goes down.  I still need to document that list, just as a memory jogger, but not something to beat myself up about if I don’t accomplish it all.  It is supposed to be a fun hobby, after all.  Not a chore!

I hope you got through 2017 healthy and happy – a difficult year by many measurements – and I wish you all a terrific 2018, with as much fiber, fabric, or yarn as you can handle, happy families, and good health.

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Yak and silk and potatoes

Before I start on the fiber talk, Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate it!  Bring on the latkes!

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Our dog Theo turned out to be a big fan of both latkes and suvganiyot (jelly filled donuts).  This is his first Hanukkah.

My finish this week was my Eureka cowl, made from aran weight handspun yarn.

The gray single is a 60/20/20 merino/yak/silk, and the cream is an ultra soft 50/50 yak/silk.  It was such a joy to spin!

The cowl has a unusual shape, more of a bandana than a cylinder, narrow in the back and triangular in the front.  The triangle dipping down means it will block more drafts when worn with a v-neck or a slightly unzipped coat.

I modified the pattern’s ridge rows somewhat, but the shape is just as the pattern dictated.  It still needs blocking, but I’ve tried it out and it is warm and soft.