Rain, Rain Go Away

Could someone from some other area of the country remind me what the sun looks like?  I think I've forgotten.  The weatherman keeps promising it will clear and we'll see the sun.  It may be my imagination, but I think his nose is growing.

The damp weather did not dampen our spirits and we had a lovely Thanksgiving.  In years past we've gone to the local Community Thanksgiving, but I decided to cook at home this year.  Hubby carved the turkey:


My sister put the "butt cracks" in our angel buns:


This started many years ago with a recipe for biscuits called "Angel buns".  We jokingly put butt cracks in them and it drove Ben nuts.  So now we have to do it just to annoy him – long distance.  This one's for you Ben!!

My mother-in-law came over and surfed the computer:


She was able to video chat with Isobel and Ivy and was absolutely thrilled.  Isobel did most of the chatting.  I think Ruth was too overwhelmed by the technology to do more that just watch and laugh.  How different from when her children were growing up!  More on that later.

Then we went over to my sister-in-law's house for dessert.  Here's Beth with her stunning creation!


I'm happy to report that it tasted as stunning as it looked.

There was knitting and sewing accomplished in between basting the turkey.  I finished the little red Christmas sweater – just need to block and weave in ends.  Yeah!!!  No sewing!


Sorry I can't get a more accurate color shot.  Maybe some day if the sun ever shines.  And I embroidered a veritable snowstorm of snowflakes as gifts for our ministry group:


I mentioned how different things were for us versus our parents.  I've begun dabbling in digital scrapbooking, wanting to document our family history.  The first daunting project has been scanning in all our photos.  My mother-in-law loaned us her family album and I was able to get everything scanned in over the weekend.  Thank you hubby for the new computer!  It made everything so quick and easy!!  From there I started scanning in our family photos.  I noticed that the photos from my mother-in-law's generation were few and far between and of very poor quality.  The photos of our children growing up were all film – we didn't go digital until about 8 years ago, long after our children had left home.  More of those and better quality, but many have faded over time.  The photos of my grandchildren are astounding!  I took more photos of the girls over one vacation than I have of our children's entire growing up period. 

I loved going over our photos and reminiscing about the past.  We have so many wonderful memories.  Over the next few months I hope to share some of that with you.  The first is a photo that was taken on the day we adopted our younger son.  We went straight to the photographer's from court.  Over the years this photo had faded horribly and I was thrilled to find that Photoshop Elements could restore it.  It is probably my favorite photo of my sons:


Two fine young boys who grew into fine young men.

Computer Maintenance and Other Projects

At last!  I think I finally have my new computer all set up with my programs, files, etc.  Today I installed Windows XP using Bootcamp and it works like a champ!  Now I can run my Bernina embroidery software and my Electric Quilt on my laptop.  That makes me happy.  I don't expect to use Windows a lot, but I do love those two programs and unfortunately they do not have a Mac-based application.  I also got Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 installed, but no thanks to Adobe!  Oblige me with a little computer tech support rant.  I kept getting an error message when I was trying to install.  I checked out the troubleshooting section on Adobe's site, but nothing addressed the problem.  So I called tech support.  After almost an hour on the phone we were getting nowhere.  The tech had never heard of this problem and had no idea what to do.  Finally he said he had to hang up because it was time to go home.  Excuse me???  I still have the problem.  I pointed out to him that Adobe's website said they were open until 8:00 p.m. PST and it was only 5:30 p.m.  His attitude was "Too bad!"  He said I would have to call back at another time.  I spent another day trying on my own and then got the bright idea to just google the error message.  The very first hit was a tech note ON ADOBE'S OWN WEBSITE!  Within two minutes I had the problem solved.  Sheesh!

Ok, enough of that and on to more fun subjects.  I started a new project for Christmas, but I think everyone will understand.  I took Izzy's and Ivy's Christmas sweaters in to work and one of our newest assistants was oohing and aahhing over them.  This young lady lost her mother at a very young age and her father several years ago.  Her older brother took in all of the kids so they wouldn't go into foster care.  After a rocky start with an abusive relationship she is now the single mother of a little girl who will turn a year old two days before Christmas.  It hit me like a ton of bricks that she has no one to "do" for her little girl.  So sweet little Keara will be getting a Christmas sweater too:


The color is a little washed out – it's really a bright Christmas red.  If time permits, I'll make her a matching hat.  The yarn is Encore DK, the pattern is an old standby from Topdown for Toddlers.

I've also found two new projects that are really calling my name.  I blame Lynne for the first one:


This is Sylvi by Mari Muionen from the The Twist Collective.  Isn't it just the most gorgeous thing?  The downside (at least for me) is that it's 3 stitches to the inch on size 10 needles.  Hmmm – this is the knitter that thinks anything larger than a size 5 needle is a stretch.  However, I still downloaded the pattern and will let the idea simmer for a while.

And . . . . speaking of thick yarn on large needles, how about this:


From Interweave Knits new issue, Pfeiffer Falls Hooded Scarf by Anne Kuo Lukito.  Don't you think that's just the ticket for walking Maggie this winter?  A hood to keep my head warm, a scarf to wrap around my neck and little pockets for doggie treats.  I just think this may jump on my needles after Christmas.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I'll be cooking at my house and am looking forward to it!  The only thing that would make it better would be having Ben, Abby, Isobel and Ivy with us, but we can hope for next year.  As it is, we have so much to be thankful for!  A warm, comfy house – a strong supportive marriage – two sons who have become successful, each in their own way – a loving sister – parents who are still active and healthy – a fantastic daughter-in-law – and two of the cutest granddaughters on the face of the planet.  Thank you God!

Mission Accomplished!

I set several goals for myself this weekend – to finish the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl, to finish two little Christmas sweaters and to finish quilting a quilt for our Community Quilt Project.  I'm happy to say I completed all of them!  It took some discipline – I really wanted to sit down and play with my new computer.  But I do feel such a sense of accomplishment and peace to have these projects finished.

First up – the shawl, before:


And after blocking:


Pattern:  Shetland Garden Faorese Shawl by Syvia Harding
Yarn:  Dream in Color Baby in the Gothic Rose colorway
Needles:  Size 4 Knitpicks Options

This was a fun knit.  Although it isn't a pattern I will do over again, like Peacock Feathers, it was a great pattern, easy to follow and error free.  The yarn really bled in the wash, but there was no transfer onto the white sheet during blocking, so I think it all came out.  The edge is technically supposed to be even, but I didn't have enough pins or patience, and blocked out little points.

Next up – little Christmas sweaters (Izzy and Ivy, hide your eyes):



Both sweaters are from Top Down for Toddlers – an absolute essential if you're going to be knitting for little ones.  The title is deceiving because the sizes go up to a 6.  Both sweaters are made of Encore DK with some Jelli Beenz for contrast in Ivy's sweater.  Size 5 needles for both.
There will be more sweaters from this book.  Quick and easy, wearable patterns.

Last up – the quilt:


I didn't piece this quilt, but volunteered to take it home for machine quilting.  This will be sent down to our local hospital's Cancer Unit.  Our goal is that every patient that comes in for treatment gets to choose a quilt to keep with them during treatment.  Unfortunately we have having a hard time keeping up.

Now that I've gotten my goals for the weekend accomplished, I can relax and play with my computer this afternoon.  I've gotten most of my photos transferred over, although I'm having some problems with some of them.  Some of my files are corrupted and I'm not sure I can recover them.  So Monday I'll need to check our safety deposit box for a backup, or worst case scenario I do have printouts of some of the best, so I could scan those in if necessary.  Soon I hope to have some digital scrapbook pages to show, but at this point I'm awfully slow!!

And, as you can see from the photo, Maggie seems to be feeling well.  It's still a problem keeping her "quiet" and I think as of today I'm giving up.  If the weather is nice I'll take her out for a short walk today.  We're both going a little buggy and need some exercise.  She'll be one happy little camper, and to tell the truth, so will I!

The Best Husband Ever

I've always known that hubby was a keeper, but yesterday he cemented his position as The Best Husband Ever.  I came home to find a beautifully wrapped package sitting on the table (in all the emotion that followed, I forgot to take a picture!).  He said it was my birthday/Christmas present.  My birthday is two weeks before Christmas and it's not uncommon for them to be combined.  He said it was my choice to open it now or wait until my birthday.  Talk about pressure!  But then he presented me with a little white box that he said would help me make up my mind:


I immediately began bawling because I knew what it was.  And of course, I opened it.  Meet Mac:


It's the brand new 13" Mac Book.  Hubby saved up the money for it from his aluminum can airplanes and penny stoves!  I am just blown away.  My poor little iBook G4 was limping along with a broken catch and constant error messages – "You are running out of disk space."  The operating system was so old it was no longer supported by Apple!  I am having such fun setting everything up and customizing it to my tastes.  I was a little disappointed that the Migration Assistant wouldn't work to transfer everything over – my iBook was just too old.  But maybe it's for the best.  Transferring everything piece by piece is giving me a chance to get organized.  It's amazing how much garbage can accumulate on a computer in 6-7 years.

I hope that I will get in a little knitting this week to show you.  My plans are to block the Shetland Garden shawl and do the finishing work on two little Christmas sweaters.  I do, however, have a sewing project to show.  I finished this beautiful little angel last weekend:


I'm off to do more computer organizing – but not before I give hubby another big ole smooch!

Estonian Excitement

At knitting group this week I saw my first copy of Knitted Lace of Estonia  by Nancy Bush.  I had to apologize to the owner for all of the drool marks I left all over it.  I immediately wanted to cast on for every single project!  However, even better – my friend informed me that Nancy Bush was doing a two day workshop on the book in Mt. Vernon – only 45 minutes from my front door!!  I knew she was coming to the Madrona Fiber Festival in Tacoma (3 hours away) in February and I had signed up for the preregistration lottery to get a spot in the class.  Since I haven't heard, I'm assuming I did not get a spot.  However, I was on the phone the minute the shop in Mt. Vernon opened and I snagged a spot for the two day workshop – for only $30 more than the one day workshop at Madrona.  Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Until then, I'm trying to concentrate on getting Christmas presents done.  I guess I can post pictures and everyone who reads my blog will just have to wonder if their present is showing up.  Well, except for little size 2 and 4 sweaters – no wondering who those are for! 

I did finish (well, kinda) one project – the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl is off the needles:


You'll have to take my word for it.  I tried spreading it out and it didn't look any better.  I'm hoping to have time next weekend to block it.  And isn't it fair to finish one project and start two?


Of course, since they're socks, they don't really count, right?  The brown pair was started because I needed a mindless project to take to knitting group.  Simple top down socks with a mini cable.  The blue pair, Mad Color Weave socks (free download on Ravelry) was started for the Sockknitters Anonymous group.  Actually, it's pretty mindless too, but I didn't realize it until I had done a repeat or two.

I'm happy to report that Maggie came through her surgery with flying colors, although she was pretty sad yesterday:


Her foot is bandaged because she had a weird little dewclaw removed.  That seems to bother her more than the tummy incision.  But she has perked up tremendously today and I think it is going to be very difficult to keep her "quiet" as we have been instructed.  She keeps bringing me her ball and dropping it at my feet to throw for her.  She's going to be pretty bored by the time this is all over.  It's a good thing we are not superstitious.  After Maggie went in for surgery, I realized it was just about a year to the day since we lost Hester.  Looking back at my post for that day still brings tears to my eyes, but Maggie has brought such joy to our lives.  Certainly not a replacement for Hester, but another chapter in life.

Thought you all might like to see some of the cutest Halloween kids:


Is that a precious family, or what???

Quilt Retreat

I've just returned from a three day quilt retreat.  That's one of the reasons I haven't been posting – I've been busy trying to get ready for it.  Knowing I was going to be sewing for three days, I was afraid I would get there and run out of projects.  There was nothing to fear, though.  I packed plenty to do.  The retreat was held at Warm Beach Camp on the mainland.  It was a beautiful venue with very gracious hosts and meals to die for.  Here is the view from my sewing machine:


We were there over Halloween and not to fear that we missed out on anything – the yard workers really got into the act:


My main project was to finish my Garden Path quilt and I kinda sorta accomplished that:


I realized after I got there that there are still 12 more little flower blocks to embroider!  Thank goodness they were placed in the quilt in groups of four, so I was able to put plain strips in as place holders until I can get them done.

After finishing this, my friend Lisa and I got the wild idea to do a miniature Christmas tree wall hanging:


Mine is only 12" x 14" and some of the pieces in the presents at the bottom are only 1/4" across!  We had the idea that these little pieces would make great Christmas presents, but decided that these will be our only little trees – they were probably more labor intensive than a big quilt would be!!

At the end of the retreat, we had the drawing for the grand door prize.  Each of us was required to make a signature block out of the same pattern in fall colors.  On Saturday the winner of all of the blocks was chosen – and that would be moi!


Not only do I get to keep all of these, I get to design the block for the next retreat.  What fun!

Several news updates from last week.  Thank all of you for your well wishes for Ben and his family.  I'm happy to report that after only two weeks of unemployment, he has a job!  I'll report on more as I know more, but it is a tele-commuting job, so he will be working at home.  It sounds like a very good job and we're so excited for him and Abby.

Also, as I may have mentioned, we had hoped that down the road Maggie would be having puppies.  The breeder came out to look at her this week, and although she said she is absolutely beautiful with many features that she would like to pass along, she is not going to breed her.  Because of the structure of her hindquarters, she is afraid that a large littler would do some serious harm.  She could probably carry a small litter successfully, but Kathy will not take the chance on harming Maggie.  I respect her so much for that!  In the end it doesn't make any difference to us because she gave Maggie to us and all of the puppies would have belonged to her.  But she said that her greatest concern is the welfare of her dogs.  So Maggie will go in this week for "the operation" and then return home to us for the life of a pampered pet!

I leave you with this lovely picture of two sweethearts napping in our front yard: