29 January 2013

birthday girls

The note in the book above reads: 

Jill, here is the some mace so that you have it if you need it. (heart) Jen

Do you have someone in your life who leaves you notes like this embossed with strawberries? I do. My twin sister. I found this note the other day when I was sorting through my box of old letters. Now it's tucked within the Jane Austen novel I'm reading. (Sense and Sensibility - in case you were wondering.) Every time l look at it, I smile. That's quite a combo, mace and strawberries, and only my sister would come up with it.

I took some time this weekend to tend to some of the quilts that she has given me over the years. This quilt is a decade old - a traveling gift to take with me when I spent the school year in England.

The work continues on my knitted blanket. At one point I was going to finish it off with a four by four square placement of the blocks, it's a baby blanket after all, but I decided that it wouldn't be big enough so I'm adding a row of squares to two sides, plus another square where the corners meet, so I won't be finishing this project up anytime soon.

That's okay though, I like to knit the pieces. I can usually get one done over the course of a movie or one episode of Downton Abbey.

Happy Birthday, Jennifer! I can't wait to celebrate our birthday together. (heart) Jill

26 January 2013

remembering and gifting

My great-grandmother Leona made my sister and I pillows like these when we were little girls. I remember mine had an embroidered kitty on blue checked gingham with my name embroidered in bright red floss and my sister's pillow was made out of pink gingham. I can remember the lace around the edge and the way the embroidered stitches felt against my check when I snuggled into bed at night.

There's nothing left of those original pillows. I continued to sleep with mine until is disappeared sometime in junior high, but by that time all the stitches had worn off and you could only see the pale outline of the pattern my grandmother had followed.

It was fun for me to dip into all of those great memories as I worked on this winter project.

It doesn't take Chewy long to sense that there might be a photo opportunity. She's usually curled into a ball of black fur on the fleece in the foreground of this picture. Smart cat. Wish I could lay there all day.

Here's some handspun I started working on last night and finished up this afternoon. It's probably going to turn into another baby sweater. I have about 220 yards here. This is the 60% CVM romeldale wool and 40% kid mohair from my mother's sheep.

I walked down to the Mississippi River last night after work. We've been in a deep freeze here, so it seems to be completely frozen over, but I couldn't help but imagine the water moving beneath the gray ice and I kept well away from the edge.

24 January 2013

for little feet

These are the perfect, sweetest things to knit. When they're finished you can't help but hold them in your hands like little pieces of art and imagine the tiny, perfect feet that are going to fill them.

Picking out the buttons is one of my favorite parts of making this particular pattern. I ended up choosing some real shell buttons with a opalescent sheen that picks up all of the colors in the yarn.

Finding time for my projects often finds me in my studio just before bedtime playing around with this and that and "tucking my projects into bed" so to speak. It's been a long work week and I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Garrett picked me up from work tonight and he dropped me off at the library and drove around the block while I dashed inside to checkout my books. I got a few books on knitting and sewing the a couple of novels.  Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery and The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. I hope to get the chance to curl up in a warm place this weekend with a cup of tea and just read.

Tomorrow's Friday, everyone. Hang in there!

21 January 2013

cold and bright

Today's highs were in the negatives here in Minnesota, like many of our past dangerously cold days the sky was clear and the sun was bright and it was just plain cold, cold, cold. I counted myself lucky to be behind the glass walls of my office and able to observe it all without having to participate . . . in the frostbite! (My husband dropped me off at work today, so I didn't have to walk from the train station to the office in the cold.)

My winter woolens have come in very handy this season, they're getting a bit fuzzy though. They need to have all of the nubbins picked off of them and then a nice soak in a tub of cold soapy water.

Dinner on Sunday night was really good. I made my sister's baked salmon recipe.
1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cup cream cheese (or sour cream) mixed together
2 cloves of minced garlic
three green onions minced (green tops included)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
crushed seasoned salad croutons

Then you mix the parmesan, garlic and the green onions with the butter/cream cheese (or sour cream) mixture, spread it over the salmon, sprinkle the salad croutons on top and pinch the tinfoil over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes (depending on how thick the fillet is) the salmon should flake when pressed - it's done. Very good. Works well on the grill too, when it's not forty below.  

Here's another project I started this weekend. (Another goodie for my sister's baby which is due in the beginning of March.) This is from some handspun that I made about four years ago.

I've been meaning to use it for something like this, but I always got distracted by the other yarn in my yarn basket. I love the garter stitches and the way the color switches with each row (almost as if I dyed and spun the yarn with that in mind) but I didn't - it's an accident. A happy one. Can you guess what this is going to be?

Something cute, that's for sure.

19 January 2013

weekend spinning

"There was a magnificent sunset, and the snowy hills and the deep blue water of the St. Lawrence Gulf seemed to rim in the splendor like a huge bowl of pearl and sapphire brimmed with wine and fire. Tinkles of sleigh bells and distant laughter, that seemed like the mirth of wood elves, came from every quarter."

excerpt from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

My fan sweater from Japanese Inspired Knits. I'm going to get some work done on this over the weekend.

All things spiral seem to be appearing before my lens today. I managed to beat the sunset home last night and tripped out to the sidewalk with my camera to capture the colors that were quickly sinking behind the houses across the street. The tree branches in the rose-colored light captured my attention.

I've been reading Anne of Green Gables on the train. It being winter, I love the winter passages that describe the landscape of Prince Edward Island. Having grown up with both the books and the movies of Anne of Green Gables, I'd love to visit there one day. Maybe I can talk Garrett into it.

I've started to spin the beautiful fiber shown above. I'm going to take a weaving class from the Weavers Guild of Minnesota and I plan to use it on my first weaving project. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get this spinning done between now and when the class starts the first weekend of February, but things are working out.

Tonight we're planning dinner and a movie with family. Should be a fun time.

14 January 2013

2 black cats

Sunday turned into a cozy afternoon of crafting. With the temperatures well below freezing, Ashley and I filled our laps with warm projects. Sorry Chewy, that's actually the cat in my lap along with my embroidery, but she was also warm and soft if not mischievous.

Some hand-dyed wool from the farm. This is our 40% mohair 60% CVM romeldale wool blend so its soft and warm too. This batch of combed top I find particularly easy to spin. It must the the mohair that makes it slide through my fingertips so fast and smooth.

Speak of the sheep and they appear. Here are some images from my last visit to the farm. I'm sure the sheep are even rounder and woollier now.

I wonder what little creature might build their nest in this tree? Some leaves, moss and soft feather down could make it a nice winter nest.

12 January 2013

baby sweater

I'm working on finishing up some projects this weekend. I've sequestered myself in the upstairs gable bedroom with a pot of tea, all my craft supplies, spinning wheel and my sewing machine. It's been about four years since I unpacked my sewing machine so we really need to get "reacquainted." I can't remember how to load the bobbin with thread and wind the thread through the machine to get it to run properly. I do have the manual, so that's good.

I just realized that I no longer have cutting mat and that my rotary cutter is as dull (three years of use in an architecture studio) so I'll have to invest in some new supplies in order to finish some of these things off. I'm working on a few presents for the toddlers in my life. Two little girls who need something frilly and soft to tuck into bed with them at night. That's where the embroidery is coming in. I'm having so much fun sewing. It reminds me of my 4H project days.

A long lazy winter afternoon stretches in front of me. I'll need to think of something to make for dinner later on, but for now I'll just keep playing in my studio. I have my friendly Kalanchoe plants (that are almost about to bud again) to keep me company.

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