Monday, December 31, 2012

Historical Threads

Jeune Dame de la Nord-Hollande (No. 31)
We've lived in threads for a very long time!
And fashion always, ALWAYS, repeats itself.
Her sleeves are very much in fashion today, although if you
enter "arm sleeves" in a search engine, then click "images"
you will have to wade through a ton of tattooed appendages
to find the knit/crochet versions.

The photos here are being shared from the Flickr photostream
I double-dog dare you to head on over there and get lost for a couple of hours!
And y'all thought Pinterest was addicting ...

Paris. Tricoteuse. (28)
I got a kick out of this one ... knitting whilst standing.
Of course, with the way my lower back and tailbone have been feeling lately,
standing has been my position of choice lately.
(I fell off a horse a couple of weeks ago ... and that's all I'm going
to say about it!!)

Paris. Maitresse Lingére. (39)
Oooooooooooo ... lace!
I may have been born 200 years late.

Costume de Madrid (No. 66)
Ooooooooooooo ... more lace!

Hope everyone is having a marvelous day!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bathroom Makeover ... Work in Process

It's been a looooooooooooong time coming!
Our 1979 home is getting one of its circa 1979 bathrooms made over.
I wish I could say it's happening to the master bathroom.
It's not.
It's the upstairs bathroom that serves the two peeps living up there,
i.e. darling son #2 and darling daughter.

The choice was made by necessity. 
The upstairs shower was leaking, big time, on the downstairs ceiling
which happens to be the ceiling of the closet for the master bedroom.
Meaning, leaking all over MY clothes.
Not the dear husband's ... mine.

The fix required busting through tile.
So at the end of the year, with bonus in the bank
we knew the time had come to bring at least
one of our watery rooms into the 21st century.

The 1970's are not known for design and style sensibilities.

So without any further ado, and with a beg for tolerance
of blurry photos because I took them with my new phone ...
one that is supposed to be known for it's picture taking capabilities ...
I guess I need to work on my end of the capabilities ...
but I digress ...
here's the good, the bad, and the seriously ugly:

The entry ... and yes, I need to paint the landing too!

Frankly, I'm glad for the blur ... it's easier on the viewer's eyes!
The floor was something I did about 8 years ago, quick and easy.
But seriously ugly ... along with that sink.
Shell-shaped, solid surface, so 1979.

Not pretty.
The pink tape was over the corroded overflow metal thingee
that leaked the constant drip from the capped off tub spigot.
Needless to save, the temporary capping of the spigot
did not save my ceiling or clothing.
I needed to pull out the hot pink duct tape to save us
for a couple of weeks while awaiting for the bonus to land in the bank.

This actually made our day when the contractors got to this point.
First, we were worried about mold ... but there was none.
Secondly we were worried about the condition of the sub-floor
because the tub itself leaked around its drain.
The tub has been a source of trouble for a long time.
It couldn't be used as a tub because any time it held water
for a period of time
... like the time it takes to soak in a nice hot bath ...
water leaked onto my clothes.
But the sub-floor was in very good shape!

New tub installed with new plumbing fixtures
and the installation of the new tile in process.
The contractor had to stop at this point and let the listello set over night.

Tile completed. The shower head was raised an additional foot
which brought the shower into the 21st century.
I don't know why shower heads were installed so low during the 1970's.
It's not like we all grew exponentially in the past 35 years.

The other corner of the tub and tile.

The new granite sink top.
We got this on close out at Floor and Decor ... I think we paid $169 for it.
The vanity will be sanded and repainted, update with new
drawer pulls, handles and hinges to complement
the burnished bronze plumbing fixtures.

Here's a view with the plumbing fixtures installed.
I know it's not easy to see on account of the blur.
The next series of photos I take will be with my camera!

The floor tile is the same as the tub tile.
This bathroom is small so we needed to go with a light
color palette and some uniformity so the user's 
don't feel like they are literally in a water closet!

The toilet could not be saved, as much as I really wanted to save
our 1970's era toilet! Really. They were not "low flow" back then.
As much as I love being green and conservative about
the precious resources of our planet, 
I like a toilet the flushes waste away with NO problem.
But the toilet had a through-and-through crack in bad spot
so we had to let it go.
At the moment, we are without a toilet upstairs
because no one stocks a "biscuit"-colored round toilet.
Elongated, yes, but those are too big for our small space.
So hopefully the contractor has already ordered
our new biscuit-colored toilet (which matches the tub color) by now.

The work is not done.
Contractors are all done so now our work begins.
We have popcorn texture on the ceiling to scrape off
and walls and vanity need painting.

Lighting fixture and fan need to be replaced.
Needless to say ... I will be very busy for the next couple of weeks!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fixing a thread

As a newbie knitter, I make a lot of mistakes.
And I have spent countless minutes, perhaps hours, pulling
a piece apart in order to fix a mistake.
Thank goodness for a good teacher who taught her students
that pulling out hours of work can be prevented ... in most cases.

I tend to knit fast. Aided by the continental method and spending decades
of crocheting, I'm a bit of a speed demon.
Consequence of knitting speed is a periodic skipped stitch.

I used to rip out the row ... now I know what to do!!

First, isolate the stitch:

Next, grab a handy crochet hook and slip into loop:

Pull missed yarn through the loop:

Now I'm ready to slip fixed stitch onto working needle,
making sure the "twist" is right (counterclockwise):

And now the stitch is all better!

Sorry for the blur of the photos ... I used the automatic "close up" setting of my camera,
but it choose to focus on the background rather than the object.
Something to do with f-stop or some other photographic gobblety-gook.
I think I need a new camera!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Knitting has been keeping me busy ...

... other than my beginning to knit class project:

It's a shawl/scarf I found on Ravelry and downloaded the pattern from Knitty
where it was published a couple of years ago.

The comments on Ravelry gave me the courage to give it a try
as it was said to be easy enough for beginners.
And it is ... to some extent.

I found myself making numerous mistakes and ripping the thing out.
But at my class last week, our teacher gave us a great
tutorial on how to fix mistakes in the knit fabric without 
undoing hours and hours of work.

That tutorial is worth the class fee all by itself!

Here's a view of the flared bottom in need of some serious blocking!
(Link provided to explain "blocking" just in case.)

The flared bottom is created by gussets where I learned
how to knit "short rows."
I hope it will give me a boost when I tackle
my first knit sock project.

The main part of the shawl's fabric is a combination of
stockinette made with overly large needles
and garter stitch made with appropriately-sized needles.
I love the effect.
I'll love it even more after blocking! 

The yummy yarn!
Mini Mochi from Crystal Palace Yarns, color #323 - copper-turquoise.

Love that it's machine washable.
The Merino gives it a nice softness. I assume the nylon
is blended because this is meant to be a "sock yarn"
and nylon lends both stretch and memory to the yarn.

When I move on to knitting socks, I will definitely use this yarn.
It's a single ply but surprisingly strong, which I assume is also
because of the nylon blend.

I'm almost to the halfway point of the shawl.
Hopefully, I'll be posting pictures of the finished product
in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, we are re-doing our upstairs bathroom.
A complete much-needed renovation since the house
is almost 35 years old and the bathrooms
and kitchen need some serious updating.

So while it may not be totally "Tread" related,
I'll share the before, during and after of the ordeal.
Because of the plumbing issues involved,
we are using a contractor to do the lion's share of the job.
My tasks will be eliminating the popcorn texture off the ceiling
and all of the painting.

Oh joy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coming Up for Air

Busy. Wow ... the past couple of weeks have been very, very busy!

Happy to report that I've been knitting every day,
but no time for picture-taking and processing, 
writing and everything else involved here in the blogosphere.
But things are settling down ... 
I'm getting my groove back.

For now, my progress on my "learning to knit" project:

The pocket is complete, well, almost complete.
It hasn't been cast off, hence the stitch holder.

The pocket was added to the lining and now I'm at the part of continuing the scarf
for a total of at least 38 running inches ... all in stockinette
with a border of 5 garter stitches on the edges.

At least 38 inches! Thankfully I can watch movies and knit at the same time.

I still have about 10 inches to go, maybe more.
Next lesson will be the start of the other pocket.

I'm using the other stitch holder to make measuring the stockinette run easier.
I set the stitch holder at 20" from the pocket.
It's much easier to measure shorter distances of knit when using a tape measure.
At least, I find it to be so.

Here's a close up of the yarn I'm using:

It's a very pretty color ... you can see the gold highlights in this picture.
It's 100% wool and not a bad hand although it's certainly not Merino.
And the price was a nice $4.99 a skein of 219 yards.
But unfortunately, it's not a consistent skein of yarn.
It has slubs, and I came across broken plies in a couple of places.
But for a first time project, it knits smoothly and this particular
one does not split, unlike some of the other Ella Rae yarns
I've practiced with.

One other note:

I found the perfect use for this carryall I was forced to make
back when I was working at the sewing machine shop.
And yes, forced is what it was!
It was the sample made for a sewing club meeting.
It was the hardest thing I ever put together.
The bottom was a bear to sew ... ugh.
But I loved the fabric, still do, and all those pockets
are just right for holding circular needles.
Anything else has a tendency to fall out of the pockets
because they are not very deep, but just right
for circular needles.

And it's a great place to store my Wooley Ewe Ravelry dog tags!

I've been working on another totally fun project (knitwise) that will
be the topic of my next post.
In the meantime, I'm off to spend some time I really do NOT have
over on crack for knitters

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh Noooooooooo!! Obsession

Just. Can't. Stop....

Finished my "Infinity Cowl"
It's cuddly and soft and because it's made from "baby" alpaca
it keeps me really warm!

Learned to knit cables in class last Thursday.
Definitely not the easiest things on earth to knit,
but as Mom says ... they are challenging 
and when you see them come into being
it gives a newbie knitter a bit of a thrill!

I bought some homespun yarn
at McKinney's Farmers Market on Saturday.
Just enough for a scarf so I opted for the "seed" stitch.
I figured it was time to start stretching my knitting wings a bit.

After finishing the scarf made from the homespun,
my wings still felt the need for more stretching
so I started to knit eyelets from some yarn I have on hand.

I played around with a couple other patterns, 
but settle on this eyelet to become another scarf.
A gal can't have too many scarves, can she?
And there are plenty of other gals in my life to spread the scarf love around!

I spoke with my Mom earlier today
and she asked me "why now" after all the years
she tried to get me to try knitting.
I guess I can blame this blog!!
But no blame because I'm having a fabulous time learning to knit.
I'm not sure why I avoided knitting all this time ...
but I'm very glad I finally gave in and started to learn.

Only problem ... I just can't stop!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life Interrupted ...

... or was last week a period of Art Interrupted?

I did "art" every day since last week, 
but life was too busy to document the process.
Or should I say: progress.

I'm definitely becoming a knitter! And I love the process ... and the progress.
I've downloaded my next project from
I found this project by searching for patterns using the yarn I purchased a couple of weeks ago.
I love Ravelry ... it's one of the more addicting sites I visit.
It's a lens into eternity because it would take an eternity to do everything I've marked as "favorite" on the site!
And to think I've barely scratched the surface.

Anyhow, this is where I get to bore show you my progress:

"Basket Weave"
This is my homework for my Beginning to Knit class.
Tonight I will learn cables.

Progress on the cowl I'm making just for fun.
And practice. But really, this feels more like fun than practice.

So whether life interrupts art, or art interrupts life,
I figure it's all a matter of personal interpretation.
I would love to have been able to post every day
about the things I make and create everyday,
but as much as I love this blogging experience
and the participating in Art Every Day Month Challenge
I also love giving my attention to all the other areas of life,
of which there are many, in all our lives.

My projects are calling ...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Shopping is Art ...

... or that is what 10,000,000 Divas across the land will tell you.

Balancing my budget is going to take some real art.
Beginning to Knit class is going to cost way more than the class fee!

That's 100% Baby Alpaca yarn.
How can I describe the softness for those unfamiliar with alpaca fiber?
"Dreamy" just doesn't cut it. "Downy" gets close, but not all the way.
Baby alpaca is extremely soft ... incredibly soft ...
and for reasons I don't fully understand, but tried to comprehend
and posted about it here but it involves understand physics and high-level math.
I don't understand the physics or the math, I only know I love the feel.

I purchased the yarn, new set of size 11 needles
and that little red box thingee which I call my "clicker"
which helps me to count rows - a necessity in a lot of patterns.

In addition to my class project, I started to work on:

The cover project - the "infinity cowl" - looked like a beginner project
and my teacher agreed.

The pattern is in the current, Holiday 2012, copy of Knit Simple magazine.
Can you see this worked up with the baby alpaca yarn?

I think my teacher realized last night that I was a good mark!
After gravitating towards the baby alpaca yarns,
she started showing me other absolutely luscious pickings
throughout the store.
I told her my goal is to get good enough to knit lace,
and she proceeded to show me some drop-dead beautiful lace/art yarns.

I must find a good dose of self-discipline before going to the next class.
Although, last night I got my first $25 off next purchase coupon
at the bottom of my receipt.

This reminds me of the time I worked in a quilt store.
I told my family and friends I was earning 1 yard/hr.
I was not joking!

I've learned not to make that same mistake.
The next thread-type store I worked in was a Bernina store.
Needless to say, I did not earn a machine/hr.
I actually brought real dollars home to the bank account.
But I did leave some behind, bringing fancy feet and gadgets home instead.

I will NEVER work in a yarn shop!
(quit rolling your eyes, Mom!!)
(oh --- and don't tell George about this post!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Life is Art

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.” 
― Norman MacleanA River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Norman Maclean is my favorite authors of all time.
He was not prolific, which perhaps is a shame for the rest of the literary world,
but he was profound in everything he wrote.

Plus, he comes from Missoula, Montana.
Enough said.

I've been doing Art Every Day, but I figured I can't keep 
posting my "learning to knit" effort because I know that would be boring.
It would certainly bore the you-know-what out of me.

I have another piece of jewelry coming out ...
but not enough yet to post. 
It hasn't taken on it's full form yet; the beginning stages 
are not a whole lot to look at.

So, I leave you with the following pictures
taken last night, Wednesday, November 7, 2012.
These were taken by Hillary, my daughter's and my horse riding coach.

Forgive the blur, Hillary used my camera set on "simple mode"
because I didn't want to trouble her with having to learn the settings.

My darling daughter, her smile can light up a room!
She's on Shiner, her current lesson horse.
Well, pony actually, Shiner is a Pony of America.
She loves working out on Shiner as he's as feisty as she.
Plus, he's fast and nimble and trained in reining and barrel racing.
And he could even do dressage ... he has a very fancy trot.

This is me on my good friend, Review.
This picture reminds me I need to get back into counting calories
and get back into the gym!

This is me loping on Review.
Up to about three months ago, I was too scared to lope.
I had a real fear of falling.
But after my fear came to reality when riding whilst on vacation
in Missoula, Montana (visiting my Mom),
I realized that I can't let my fears of what could happen
prevent me from living to the fullest.
It helped that my fall did not kill me ... nor did it hurt too much.

Now, Review and I spend a good chunk of my lesson at the lope.
When we are done, I find myself totally, completely relaxed.
Horse therapy, for me, is better than massage therapy.

I've heard it said, by many people in many places, that life is art.
I agree with that statement.
To think, every single day we wake up,
we are given a fresh canvas on which we can put whatever we want.
Even when the day is spent doing things out of obligation,
at the core we are doing what we want to do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Paper Change of Pace

For Art Every Day Month, November 5, 2012

I've had this stamp set for a while, and the punches that go with it,
but never took it out to play, until yesterday!

Everything comes from Stampin' Up.
The Designer Series paper is from last year.
I wish they still carried it ... but I have 3 unopened packages.

Love the little bird ... the blossoms need something though.
I may break out the watercolors and play with them.
You cannot see it very well, but the two blossoms 
in the upper left hand corner have pearls in the center.

I think pearls are one of nature's greatest gifts!
(I know those are fake, but still ....)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Heart Afire for Autumn

Earrings made Sunday, November 4, 2012
These are made to complement the Heart Afire Pendant necklace
I completed at the same time.

Here's a close up of the pendant

I usually don't name my jewelry pieces, but when working with this, 
I kept thinking how the colors remind me of fire.

These are not my colors.
I cannot wear deep autumn colors without
looking drawn and pale and washed out.

Many, many years ago I was "draped"
to determine what my skin coloration was and what 
color palette I should seek when purchasing or making clothing...
especially the things that were to be directly against my skin.

I am summer.
My complexion is somewhat pale (when not kissed by the Texas sun)
and my palette are the pastels in the cool light spectrum.

But I always find myself drawn to the warmth of the spring and autumn palettes.
I cannot live with them 24/7
but I do enjoy their spark in small quantities.

I will not be wearing this set.
Hopefully a autumn or spring will come along!

The earrings are my #AEDM Entry #4

Sunday, November 4, 2012

AEDM Entries 2 & 3

I'm going to be one of those who posts the day(s) AFTER.

AEDM entry #2 (Friday):

In my definition, this is craft, not art.
But I am learning a new art medium, so I feel OK to post
this as an entry for Art Every Day Month.

Continental style of knitting works for me!
Before the change, I couldn't get past three rows without
fumbling so bad I felt compelled to start over.
I lost count how many times I has to start over.
But I got a LOT of experience casting on!!
I can cast on in my sleep now.

AEDM entry #3 (Saturday):

This is the actual project for my Learning to Knit class.

I really like the color of the yarn, but I do not care for the yarn itself.
While it is 100% wool, which is nice, I like natural fiber,
it's twist is not properly set so it splits way too easy.
Split yarn ruins the piece.
This yarn was inexpensive, and there was an additional 40% off the price.
The normal price was $4.95/skein.
Take another 40% and you got a steal for 100% wool.

But I should have remembered that we get what we pay for.
Even the teacher admitted the yarn wasn't very good.
That's why the store is discounting it ... they are ridding themselves of the stock.

Fortunately, I have plenty of experience working with yarn
that I can avoid splitting ... most of the time.
I did discover some splits, but frankly
I'm not going to undo my work. Not for this project.


Like the slub?

I don't. At least, not when it's an imperfection. Slubbed yarn can be absolutely wonderful when the slubs are meant to be, but I don't think this was meant to be. For commercially-made yarn, this is disappointing.

I'm not even sure about the color of the slub. I don't see this blue in any of the fibers that make up this yarn.  There are some much, much smaller slubs that are yellow and there is yellow fiber in this yarn. I think the yellow is what drew me to this yarn in the first place. It lends a pretty warmth to the overall color without making me look washed out and jaundiced when holding the piece next to my skin.

I love these needles! The others I was first working with are made from bamboo. The instructor says the bamboo are a tad "sticky" or whatever at first, but they develop a nice patina. I'm sure this is true, but when one is just learning to knit, everything needs to be nice and easy and smooth! I got these circular needles because I needed size 8 and the store was out of size 8 in bamboo. I was leery about at first because I have no experience with the circular variety. But they are actually better for me. I think I'm less inclined to have the piece fall off the needles and for a beginner, that is a very, very good thing!

All in all, I am really enjoying this experience! My head is reeling with visions of all the gorgeous, fine lacey things I'm going to be able to make once I get my skill set up to par. Why did I avoid knitting for so long? Especially since I'm learning to spin my own yarn, much of which is going to be a lot easier to knit than crochet.
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