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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all! 

We're awaiting the arrival of our daughters and their families so we can have our traditional Christmas breakfast together and open gifts — though Santa has, of course, already visited their homes. ;) 

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season. :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

A new pin cushion!

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was in a pin cushion exchange with a group of French quilters, and my new pin cushion arrived yesterday afternoon! It's really nice — all handmade, with a dimensional flower on one side and a six-pointed star on the other. Have a peek:
Flower side
Did you see what was included with the pin cushion? Yes, a lovely embroidered card with a sweet note inside, and a meter of some beautiful floral ribbon! I'm really overwhelmed! But here's a second photo so you can see the star side of the pin cushion:
Star side

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A little more complicated ...

Some time ago, I heard that there were skins available — even custom ones — for certain models of Bernina sewing machines. Unfortunately my Bernina 630 wasn't on the list. :( However, I then learned that the reason was that removing the skin might damage the faceplate, and that replacing that faceplate would solve the problem. Yay! I ordered the new faceplate and a skin, both of which were very reasonable in price, and settled down to wait. In a relatively short span of time, both arrived, and that's when the complication arose. No one had mentioned (even to my dealer) that replacing the faceplate was somewhat tricky, involving circuit boards and that sort of thing. Now, I used to repair Mac computers, so I'm not really afraid of circuit boards, but I was really nervous about doing this without any instructions and without the proper tools. Drat! But onward I marched. 

The skin I chose wasn't the one I'd originally envisioned, which would have had my grandchildren on it. But there really wasn't a way to get all five of them into the space provided without at least one of them having a nob for a nose. ;) So into the breach stepped our little Bisou. I am very pleased with the quality of the skin and the ease with which I was able to apply it to the faceplate! In fact, several of the people at my dealer's shop thought it had been baked onto the faceplate. The tech there spent a couple of hours getting everything all in order, and I'm absolutely delighted with the results! Do you want to see? Here you go:

Skin showing Bisou

Just click on the photo to get a larger view. Can you see how well Bisou fits the available space? Here's a close-up of the main portion of the skin:

Close-up

This is such fun to look at — I can hardly wait to do a bit of quilting this afternoon! Just in case this has inspired you to want something similar, go to this part of the Bernina site and select one of their available skins or design your own! I love mine. :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Decorating

Last year, I posted photos of a portion of our Christmas tree and of our santons. I've just been finishing up the seasonal decorations, so I thought I'd show you a couple of other things we use. 

This first photo shows two special little bears. The one on the right (she has angel wings) reads the nativity story aloud from her book, and the one on the right reads 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to his little son, sitting in his lap. They're both so cute! 

These are two little sand cast figurines. Since we have our adorable red and white cocker spaniel, I fell in love with these and had to have them. The larger one (on the left) is running away with a string of holiday lights, while the three puppies in the basket on the right are all dressed for winter weather. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pin cushion

I'm a member of a French-speaking online quilting group, and the list mom suggested a little swap of pin cushions as a holiday activity. This is the little Santa (Père Noël) pin cushion that I made and which is now on his way to a new home. :) 

He's made from wool felt with hand stitching to accent the mustache and beard and French knots to make the holly berries on Santa's hood. I think he's pretty cute and hope his new owner will agree. He's stuffed with a layer of wool batting to keep his shape, but I also put in crushed walnut shells for weight and because I really like them in pin cushions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Knitting progress

Blocked and drying!
I mentioned previously that I was taking up knitting again after many years. My first efforts yielded a gift to be given at Christmas, but my next project didn't go as well. Hmmm. Unknitting, anyone? However, during my trip to the Houston Quilt Festival, I ran across a stand that does online classes in a variety of subjects, including knitting. I signed up for a class in knitting lace shawls; the class gives instructions for two different patterns, and I'm very happy with the results! :) My first shawl is now drying after having been blocked, and I'm anxious to begin the second one.

Nostepinne
I'm going to make the second class shawl from a baby alpaca and silk blend that feels like heaven when I touch it. It came in a hank of 875yds, which needed, of course, to be wound into a ball. Do I have a ball winder? Nope. ;) But I do have something called a nostepinne, and it does a great job, albeit more slowly than a ball winder. To the left you can see the finished ball of yarn and the nostepinne. The end of the yarn is looped around one of the indentations in the nostepinne, and then the yarn gets wound — and wound, and wound — around the slightly tapered end until finished. Then the yarn can be fed from either the inside of the ball or the outside. Below is what the ball looks like before being removed from the nostepinne. This ball is about the size of a large navel orange.
Finished winding the ball!