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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cold hands

My hands — and feet, too — get awfully cold, even in the comparatively mild climate where we live. Sometimes they get so cold that the shade of white they turn makes them look dead. Ugh! I've worn gloves for years, of course, but sometimes gloves get in the way of doing things that need "direct finger contact". As a result, I've been looking at the patterns of cute fingerless mittens, and I finally decided to go ahead and make a pair in hopes of keeping my hands warmer while still being able to use my fingers easily. This pattern, called Owl Study Gloves, was posted on the Alpaca Direct blog. I've never received yarn as quickly from anyone as I have from these people! They're amazing.

This was my first time using double-pointed needles, but they didn't all gang up on me and spill their stitches all over the place or stab me unmercifully, so everything worked out well. ;) In fact, the thing I had the most difficulty with was finding 1/4" buttons to use as the owls' eyes! I had no choice of color at all and figure I'm lucky I found any even in plain white. LOL! I used brown thread to attach them to the mittens, just to make my owls look awake.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday wishes

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope we all have a peace-filled, healthy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Silk!

In Houston last month, I ran across a stand selling silk yarn called Silky Mulberry. Oh, yum! It's so soft and luscious to touch that I simply couldn't leave the stand without a skein of that yarn. The hardest part was deciding which color to buy. I finally ended up with a skein of shades of grey that I think will look nice looped around my neck over a black or white sweater. Heaven knows it will feel wonderful! The people in the stand were giving away a simple pattern with the yarn, so I made a scarf from what I bought and just finished blocking it today. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy HIll

We've been reading about and mourning the loss of those 20 innocent children and six courageous adults last week at the Sandy Hill school in Connecticut. Who knows how or why these things happen? I won't get political and say what I think about gun control, but today I found out about something positive that I could do. Who knows whether it will help? But at least I can do something. Two different sites for embroidery digitizing have designed free-standing lace snowflakes and are giving the designs away for those who would like to participate. Apparently, the PTA for the Sandy Hill school will welcome back their students (in their new location) with a winter wonderland theme. To that end, people are sending snowflakes to decorate this school. I will send the ones I made today, and I hope the children and staff at the school will realize how much we all care about them.

This first design is from Embroidery Library. I wasn't sure I liked it as much as the second one, but after stitching it out I can say that I certainly do! :) It's very delicate and sweet.

The second one is from LindeeG, and hers is every bit as beautiful as the first one. It's not quite as delicate, but those hearts are perfect for this!

Both designs are available in multiple sizes and multiple formats for any embroidery machine.  Both sites also have the address for mailing the snowflakes to the PTA.

Mine go out tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

April Azalea

This little quilt was an unexpected bonus from my quilting buddy. She purchased a Hawaiian-themed two-block kit from Stacy Michell, but she didn't feel like doing both blocks. She did one and gave me the "negative image" version of the one she'd finished. Hers has pink where mine has yellow/blue/green and vice versa.

The blocks are laser-cut and backed with fusible, so all that's necessary is to fuse the motifs to the included background and then appliqué them by machine. I used blanket stitch, and the fun part is that this is done right through the batting and backing (not included), too, so that it's quilted at the same time!

I didn't have a suitable fabric for binding, so I added a facing instead. The finished block is about 17.5" square; it would have been a trifle bigger if a bit hadn't been turned to the back with the facing. Oh, and it really is square, but I had it "hanging" on the curved back of a chair. It was fun to do! :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Gift for You!

A few days ago, I was given the opportunity to review a book, and you can get this book free of charge, too! :) The book is Build Your Best Log Cabin, put out by Fons and Porter, and it's an ebook, which means you don't even have to pay for having it shipped to you. You'll just download the PDF and then deal with it the way you prefer: you could read it on your computer, print it (or portions of it) out, or transfer it to your iPad/iPhone/iPod or other tablet or portable device. That's the joy of a PDF document: it's so portable!

As for the book itself, it's only 24 pages long, but it's chock-full of great information and very clear photos. One of its best features is a series of charts with cutting information for the logs. It's so much easier to put together a log cabin block with pre-cut logs! Trying to do so with logs that are sewn from longer strips and then lopped off to size only leads to skewed, wonky blocks. Not fun, as I learned several years ago. ;)

The book has a variety of log cabin versions; there is something to appeal to the traditionalist or the more modern quilter. There is also a bit of history of the style, and there are variations from such quilters as Ricky Tims and Marti Michell. As a final touch, there are lessons on making piped binding and on how to do a smooth binding.

So, you say you'd like to have this book? Great! As I said, it's a gift from the Fons and Porter site and can be found here. Enjoy! :)

Update 2/6/2013: I've just changed the link to a corrected copy of this ebook — I hope this hasn't caused any problems for anyone.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday decorations

Last night a friend and I went to the Las Vegas Strip to catch a performance of Ô, a Cirque du Soleil show at the Bellaggio. The trip there was an adventure, since there had been little or no publicity about a marathon occurring yesterday afternoon and evening — a marathon that required the complete closure of the Strip itself! Ack! After driving in circles for a time, we finally parked a few miles away and caught a cab to Caesar's Palace (the cab driver knew about back access roads), then walked to the Bellaggio. Unfortunately, we had to forego our dinner reservation, as we had no way to get there in time, but we did have a lovely dinner at the Bellaggio prior to the performance.

The show itself was amazing. Of course, they don't allow photography of any kind, but suffice it to say that this is a show that is definitely worth seeing. The performers manage fantastic feats of swimming, diving and gymnastics, all with complete control and grace.

While we were at the Bellaggio, we went — of course — to the Conservatory to see the Christmas decorations. The Conservatory is redecorated every season with gorgeous floral displays. This one was breathtaking! Here are some photos of that.

  
 This is, naturally, the centerpiece of the display. The tree — a real one — goes right up to the ceiling and is decorated with white lights (my favorite!) and surrounded by giant hanging bells.

Near the tree and under the bells are giant tree ornaments lying on a bed of poinsettias. In fact, there were multiple varieties of poinsettias all through the Conservatory, as well as some carnations and other flowers.

The tree and ornaments were guarded by these enormous toy soldiers.


Nearby were a family of three polar bears covered in white carnations. This is Baby Bear, and Mama and Papa were nearby. There was also a large toy train going round and round in a different vignette, but I couldn't find a good spot to get a photo of that.