Monday, October 31, 2011

A Hit and Miss Week

I'm sure it is the pattern of my life, but this past week was particularly good at reminding me that every project will not be a resounding success. LOL It was peppered with small victories and small disappointments.

On the "success" side of the roster, I finished a sweater and knit a very quick eternity scarf - making up my own pattern by combining a few. Here's the picture of the sweater from Ravelry. I also did a grey one, similar to this colour. It was one of the most boring knits ever - 60" of k1p1, followed by ribbing for the ruffle - 300 stitches for the first section - 600 for the second!!! But the fit is great and it's very cozy.

The eternity scarf is from some "upcycled" wool from a vest I haven't worn in ages. Not sure what I will do with the rest of the yarn, but the eternity scarf is great. I wore it yesterday, doubled, with a short-sleeved T and I was toasty without being too hot - a regular challenge lately. I combined a couple of patterns to get this interesting stitch. I haven't blocked it yet, but when I do, I am sure the lace will open up more and make it even airier.

In the middle between the hits and misses, I did some dyeing for a Teachers' Branch workshop next weekend. I am not a prolific dyer, so the results are often surprising. And since I didn't have real formulas, the element of surprise was even greater.

We are doing an apple and pear with dip dye instead of value swatches. All I can say about this is my apple will be a Royal Gala (my favourite) and the pear is definitely a Bartlett (in a colour I have never seen) LOL. (That little bite out of the end of the pear wool didn't deter me from using it for this project. After all, it's just a little pear. Waste not, want not.

On the definite "miss" side was my little treat that I made to take to a party on Saturday. I hate it when things don't turn out like in the picture, which should never come as a surprise after all this time. It was a fun recipe to make, but the results.....a little scary, so suitable for Hallowe'en. How cute are these? (This is not my picture - I didn't take one, mine were so bad.)  I couldn't find coloured melting chocolate and in hindsight I didn't have enough, so mine were like melting ghosts, very scary, but delicious all the same. So I guess that isn't a total miss.

The other frustrating miss - or partial miss - was winding a ball of beautiful Madeline Tosh Light Merino yarn. Or should I say part of it. I don't own a Swift, though I do have a ball winder (the Swift is definitely going on my Christmas list). I was going great guns till about half way through the very large skein and hit a definite speed bump. What a tangled mess!!!! So I started a ball from the other end, hoping to meet in the middle. Instead, I got this.

I will save this and see if I have enough with what I wound for the project - if not - on a calm day, a little tangle therapy.

But the kicker to the entire week was just before dinner last night when I realized I may have inadvertently screwed up my trip to the Round Barn in Vermont!!! Week before last, Rick and I applied for passport renewals for our trip to Barbados in February. We wanted it done before the Christmas rush, so decided to get it done early. I TOTALLY FORGOT I WOULD NEED IT FOR VERMONT next Thursday! Processing time is 20 days before mailing - according to the website. Which could mean I am completely SOL to get it back in time. Yikes - what was I thinking?  The answer - I wasn't!!

I filled out an online status update form this morning and I will go and be charming at the local Service Canada office and see if there is anything that can be done. Fingers crossed I get it in time to go. Cuz I guess there is no other I.D. that is acceptable anymore. Gone are the days when a Drivers License did the trick.

I wonder if sobbing at the office will help......

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Purse's Progress

Despite constant interruptions - some wonderful like my daughter's visit - some not so wonderful like hours and hours of blowing leaves - the purse is in the home stretch.

You know how every once in a while, something goes better than you hoped. This is one of those instances. To my delight, when I sewed the front to the back, the zig zags lined up perfectly and the side seams are virtually invisible.

Yesterday, after the leaf blowing olympics, I sewed the lining together, put the trim on the top of the bag and figured out a way to use a button that I have been saving for something special to close the bag. 

Heeding Jennifer Manuell's advice (brilliant as always), I decided to use the wool that I trimmed the top of the bag with to make a loop, which will come around the button to close the bag. I think it is going to work. At first I worried it would fight with the handles, but I think by positioning it further down the front, it makes a nice accent and will be functional as well. When I don't want to close the bag, the loop can just tuck inside and the button will be purely decorative.

Right now, all the pieces are placed in position to evaluate - and now that I see this image on the screen, I think I will really like it. The trick will be determining how to place the button so that it visually compliments the design, but also will function when the bag is stuffed with all my worldly goods.

Hopefully, I will be able to do the final assembly today......if my arms still work, that is. I think there are completely different muscles for holding a leaf blower for hours on end. (And they are slightly different again from the rediscovered muscles from sweeping at curling).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Do Not Punch While Sleep Deprived

I finished the second half of my punched Bala bag last week. I am pretty sure they match. But there's a story here.

Doing the second side, I developed a plan of attack that meant I wouldn't have to move the piece inside the frame as much as I did the first side. Each time I moved it (since the loops are on the under side in punching) it got a bit of a pull on the gripper strips. So for the second side, I did the left side first and then the right side, so I wouldn't have to move it at all. And it was a very good plan indeed. Until...

At one point, I pulled out the upper right quarter of the second side, thinking I had done something horribly wrong. It was about 3/4 of an hour of punching. I later realized that I had done something wrong, but it was a little error that didn't require the extreme tearing that I did.

What caused my rash decision? I attribute it to sleep deprivation! I had three really bad nights where, no matter how tired I was, I couldn't fall asleep. With so little brain power left, the smart thing to do would have been to "step away from the purse" and come back to it on a day when I was firing on all cylinders. But oh no, that part of the brain was not engaged either - obviously. And when I realized what I had done, I laughed at how silly it was. Definitely impaired!!!!

As chance would have it, I took my car in for service on Friday morning and was flipping through an old issue of Chatelaine at the car dealership and came across a very interesting article. It was about insomnia being caused by back lit devices like ipads and readers.

According to the article, reading from a backlit screen can prevent some people from producing Melatonin, our natural sleep-inducing hormone. And as I thought about the nights where sleep wouldn't come, they coincided with reading on my ipad. (I usually play a game of Sudoku on it if I can't fall asleep, but had been reading a novel lately.)

So Friday night, I refrained from reading. And sure enough - 8 1/2 hours of glorious sleep!! Same thing Saturday and Sunday nights. Coincidence? Perhaps. The truth could be complete and utter exhaustion will eventually cause you to fall asleep, but last night, I even used a book light and a real book (for a few pages) and dozed off, no problem.

The moral of the story is "don't hook or punch when extremely sleep deprived". Your centre of reasoning is wayyyyyy off and you will do something crazy for sure.

Stay tuned for finished bag - hopefully, assembled under the influence of lots of good sleep.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Toddler in Leaves is finished.

What an incredible Thanksgiving weekend! Good food, good company and the most beautiful leaf show by Mother Nature. How thoughtful of her to save it for the weekend when so many could enjoy it.

Inspired by the colours on the lake and on the road, and finding little pockets of time - mostly while others were sleeping or reading - I finished this little mat. I still need to "finish" it but have to figure out what I want to do with it first. (Or else that's my excuse for having so many small, unfinished pieces waiting for the decision. LOL)

I think I may put this on a canvas stretcher, along with some of the other smaller pieces. Not only does it keep them from curling, but it also makes them feel more like the impressionist 'sketches' that they are.

On the drive to and from Toronto yesterday - to return my daughter and have a quick late lunch with my son - I was overwhelmed by the splendour of leaves once I was north of the city. Even the yellow birches were illuminated by the other colours around them. They were positively glowing, which I had never witnessed before. And in some spots where there were lots of evergreens, the smaller trees with coloured leaves appeared to be nestled inside the pine boughs. Breathtaking.  (The city leaves are still far behind.)

Since driving and taking pictures is not a good idea, I wasn't able to get too many. But this one (yes, I stopped the car) is an example of how the colours together are amazing and how the birch trunks stand out against the colour. It truly felt like being inside a Group of Seven painting and the drive was like an art show versus a chore.

I think today is forecast as the last sunny day for a bit. The sun is sparkling on the water. The wind is bringing down lots of leaves (I guess their job is mostly done.) So hopefully today can be spent cleaning up the gardens and getting ready for what is lurking around the corner.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hooking Fall Leaves in the Fall Leaves

What a beautiful day it was here today. So I decided to join my hubby on the lower deck and do a little hooking there.

When I realized I was hooking fall leaves, somewhat surrounded by fall leaves, I got Rick to take this picture to share.

Ironically, there aren't many fall leaves in this picture. But if you look closely....see behind the chair that patch of yellow....and next to my worm boxes, those scattered leaves. I'm not sure why the trees are so far behind this year, but they seem to be.

That big pine directly behind me has dropped so many needles, you can hardly see the stone path anymore. Here's a pic of that. (I am sitting on the deck to the left of that big patch of rust pine needles.)

And yes, the colours have begun - I'd say they were about 30-40% now. Here's a picture of the side of the bay that is furthest along. (OK, so maybe that looks more like 50....)

And some glorious colour on the road into our home.

Now THOSE are fall colours. Maybe they were waiting for our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend to really show off.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Faceless Portraits

I have always believed that some of the best portraits of people didn't involved showing their faces at all. When I used to paint, I did a series of family portraits without showing a single face.

My husband's portrait was of him reading the newspaper sitting in a Muskoka chair - from the back. His hair, his feet up on the railing and the way he held the paper was distinctly him.

My daughter's portrait, also from the back, was her lying on a beach towel with her face down on her crossed arms. Her beautiful swimmer's shoulders and the dimples in them were as personal as her face.

And my son's portrait of hunting for salamanders in the creek, was from the bottom of his t-shirt past his jean shorts to his feet in the water - scratches and bandaids and all.  I will try to see if I still have the sketches to share.

I think they are portraits that are "universal" but very intimate as well. The mat that I did of the kids "reading in the canoe" was another one of those portraits that I had to hook.

Another one is on the frame. Finally after what seems like months, I am back at it. And this one is another "universal" moment captured. A toddler in the fall leaves. Everyone has a picture like this.  It is much too soon to be taking pictures of my progress, but I am so excited to be hooking again, I have to share.

Little rubber boots and a plaid fall jacket. You can't see them, but you know there are ruddy cheeks and probably a runny nose above the frame. How many times did we rake up the same leaves, just so they could jump in them and play with them.

I think Matt was nervous about jumping in at this stage. He left that up to his big sister and the neighbour kids. He mostly stayed around the edges of the pile and either kicked the leaves or tried to pick them up in his chubby little hands.

A perfect portrait for a fall day that will go on through time as long as we have leaves. This is a small piece - only 6 x 12, so I should have it done while the leaves are still falling.

Boxy Chevrons by the Sea

Happy to report that the colds are gone and we have assumed our positions down on the deck at the Beach Club by the sea. And after having ...