Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Christmas! (Well, Day After Christmas!)

Scenes from a Christmas Snow! It started snowing last night ... and it's still snowing today, December 26!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Miss My MOM!

I switched out the fall decorations on my Mom's grave and put some winter/Christmas ones in the vase. I really don't visit the cemetery very much because I've never felt my Mom is there ... I know her body may be there, but she's safely in heaven ... and her presence is with me all the time. And this is a good thing because I can't help but think about her all the time, anyhow ...and talk to her all the time ... as she was such a huge part of my life ... but right now, during this season of Christmas, I miss her SO much that it hurts.
Today is December 8 ... a Holy Day ... the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Every year, we would go to Mass and then go out Christmas shopping on this day. It was like the official start of the season. Well, at least the official start of our Christmas shopping! While I was at Mass this morning, it was all I could do to hold back my tears. I really hate crying in church, but that's one of the places I always feel like crying these days! I so wish my Mom could be here.
Last year, we went to Macy's for our Christmas shopping ... a few days after December 8, in fact! I remember there was a lot going on last December. Anyhow, we had a really good day, even though it was cold and drizzly and my Dad wasn't doing that well. Mom wanted to make sure she had presents for everyone. She gave my sister and me cozy, flannel pajamas ... a wallet for Kent (something he always wanted and it still looks pretty good a year later!), those super-soft warm blankets with sleeves for Colette and Amelia and a pair of warm-up pants with pockets for Randy ... she got boxes for every gift, too. She sped around Macy's with her walker, looking so cute in her white wool coat and little red gloves. Gosh, I had no idea last year, as we did such a simple thing as head to the mall, that that would be the last Christmas shopping I'd ever do with my Mom.
One day last week, I was out driving past my parents' old neighborhood, and "We Need A Little Christmas" played on the radio. That became my Mom's favorite Christmas song over the years. It seemed to sum everything up so perfectly, especially the line, "For I've grown a little leaner; grown a little colder; grown a little sadder; grown a little older ... And I need a little angel, sitting on my shoulder ..."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Festive Felted Chain Garland Pattern

Let's decorate!

Izzy and Brown Bear are getting ready to decorate for a birthday party ... and Snowman and Gingerbread Man already have the Christmas spirit! Whether you want to decorate for Christmas or anytime of year, the knitted/felted festive garland pattern will be just right! I also used a very thin, lace-weight yarn held together with some Gold Rush sparkle and came up with little links perfect for a small garland or even a fashionable necklace!

Each link in the garland chain is knit within the next, so there are no seams to worry about and nothing to come apart! Give it a try! You can find it at the Pattern Box in the holiday section. Go there now!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall at the Cemetery ... My Mom's Grave ... and the BENCH

My Mom's grave in the Fall ...

Here is the rather expensive bench that everybody thought everybody else really wanted ... but, in the end, nobody really did. But by the time we realized this, it was too late to cancel! So here it is.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

View from Our Back Yard and Visitors!

Look at this! This is a tiny flower on the flowering almond shrub a friend from my swimming class gave me last April after my Mom died. She said it would bloom every April. I guess it decided to bloom now that my Dad has moved in! It's probably just a coincidence, but it feels like my Mom is sending us her love and approval.
Meanwhile, two of my brothers came for the weekend a couple of weeks ago and we had a great time! They were able to see my Dad's addition for the first time ... and we had fabulous weather.

My brother Chris loves to cook ... so the first night he was here, he made shrimp scampi.

The second night he was here, he made a pork roast with apple, currant and hard apple cider stuffing. See the sage sprigs on top? Here it is going into the oven.

And ... VOILA ... here it is, finished. It was perfect. It tasted fabulous, but it took him all day to chop the fruits, saute various things at various times, cook the stuffing until the hard cider was absorbed, butterfly the pork roast, pound it flat, stuff it and roll and tie it up. PHEW! I was feeling pretty guilty by the time we sat down to eat. He had been cooking for two days straight and then had to drive back 8 hours the next day. We all decided that, next time, we'll order take out! (But it was delicious, I have to say ... he really needs his own tv show: Cookin' with Chris!)

Dad and I in front of the koi pond. (Pay no attention to the beverages on the pond wall!)

Here's a photo of part of the stone patio and path.

It's really great having my Dad here. It feels like he's finally home.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Chow Hand Puppet Is on Knitty!

Sometimes, it seems, mouths have minds of their own! In this case, it's true! Chow is knit in the round, then felted in your washing machine. The teeth are I-cord and shaped by dental-floss stitching.
I hope you'll visit Knitty's Deep Fall 2010 issue, now LIVE! and give my free Chow pattern a try and, as always, if you run into any trouble spots, or just want to say, "hi," please email me!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Walkabout Dolls Are Going to Be PUBLISHED!

I am so excited to finally let it be known: My Walkabout dolls are going to be published by Leisure Arts in April, 2011. It's been hard to keep quiet about this project the last year and a half ... so I can finally breathe a wonderful sigh and let you know what I've been working on!!! You can even pre-order it from! Here is the link: Storybook Dolls to Knit
You can also read more about it here: Midpoint Trade Books
All of the walking dolls are knit with wool yarn on double-pointed needles and then ... yes! You guessed it! Felted in your washing machine! The felted dolls are perfect little canvases for embroidering great details and faces, etc.
The patterns include The Gingerbread Man; Hansel and Gretel and the Witch; The Three Little Pigs (and the Wolf, of course!); Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf; Mary and her Lamb; Humpty Dumpty; and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. They were so much fun to design and I hope you'll want to try them! And, as an extra bonus, there's an audio cd of the fairy tales and nursery rhymes included!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Izzy Wellington pattern is up!

Izzy and Old Bear love the koi pond!

Don't fall in!
Wow! It's been a hectic couple of weeks! But my father is all moved into the addition! and I've even had time to put the Izzy Wellington doll pattern up for sale on my website and on Ravelry, too. The 8-page pattern comes with the directions to knit and felt Izzy, her separate dress and her shoes (or dancing slippers, as she likes to call them). I've even detailed how to make her hair using a circle loom as a starting point. And you can have all this in a moment's download for a modest $2.50!!! Plus, don't forget, I'm always here if you have any questions or concerns about any of my patterns.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Please Meet: Izzy ...

Meet Izzy ...

She stands a full 18" tall

She wears her hair up in a bun.

Her dancing shoes. (She's hoping to attend a ball soon!)

A view of her hips/leg sockets before attaching her legs.

Here she is after felting, stuffing and sewing up.

Here she is next to Samantha, an American Girl doll ... this is to get a better idea of how big Izzy really is!

Well, I worked a lot longer on perfecting Izzy than I had expected I would. She went through many transformations. I tried several faces that looked more like the Izannah Walker dolls, but they just didn't suit her. So, I finally came up with this face, which I think is a little like the face on Bangwell Putt, my favorite doll in a book called The Journey of Bangwell Putt by Mariana.
What do you think of her? I hope you like her. The pattern will be available soon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Izzy in Progress!

"Izzy," my knitted/felted version of the cloth and wooden 19th-century Izannah Walker doll, is coming along nicely! This is the biggest doll I've ever designed, she measures 18 inches after felting!

Here are Izzy's pieces before felting. (above)

And here are the pieces after felting. They've just been taken from the washer, rinsed, stuffed and shaped.
I used Galway 100 percent wool yarn for the "wooden" parts ... the feet/bottom part of the legs; the hands and bottoms of the arms; the shoulders, neck and head. I used Paton's classic merino in aran for the "muslin" body parts.
Many of the dresses I've seen for the Izannah Walker dolls leave the shoulders bare, as was the style of the day. Of course, that will be my next project ... knitting and felting an appropriate dress for her. Perhaps she should have a string of pearls or beads and some earbobs, as well!
I am planning to make her hair also the style of the day: parted in the middle, pinned up in the back, with ringlets around. She should probably wear some sort of ornament in her hair, also.
After she dries, the fun will really begin! Stay tuned!

Oh ... and for more information on Izannah Walker, try these links: Laurel Leaf Dolls

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Look at the Addition Now!

Move-in date for my dad is on or before September 1!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Izannah Walker Dolls

Some dolls are scary. There. I said it.
Come on, you know the ones I'm talking about. Those old, wooden dolls just have a creepy look to them. The porcelain and china dolls can be really frightening. I've always wondered what it was exactly that attracted people to collect them.
One day, while searching the web, I stumbled upon photos of Izannah Walker dolls. At first glance, these dolls are incredibly scary, in my opinion. Of course, they were made over a hundred years ago and those that have survived may not be in the best condition. They do not, I believe, actually have "short" hair, as I thought at first. I think their painted heads actually had been styled in some sort of a period hair style that had ringlets around the face, hair parted in the middle and probably swept up into some sort of a bun or twist. Now, this is just my best guess as a complete newcomer to the Izannah dolls. I am at once rather frightened by them and intrigued at the same time.
While I am working on a couple of long-term projects that I must keep under wraps for now, I think I'm going to try my hand at making a knitted/felted Izannah reproduction!
Here is a great place to learn a little about the dolls and the woman who invented them. Go here

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Great Movie for a Summer Afternoon ...

A friend of mine and I went to the movies this afternoon ... just a spur of the moment ... at 1 p.m. "Want to see the 2 o'clock show?" YES! For once, we both could get away! And it certainly sounded like a movie we both could appreciate (my friend helps take care of her elderly mom) ...

"Mid-August Lunch"

The film is in Italian with English subtitles and is only 1 hour and 15 minutes long. I'll just post a link here and you can read the review and watch the trailer for yourself. BUT let me just say it is about a son who takes care of his elderly mom ... and then is pressed into service to watch three other elderly women. It's a really sweet film and great for a summer afternoon ... only it made me miss my Mom all the more ...

Unwanted Mocha Has a New Home

I was at Starbuck's today and someone didn't want the Mocha that had been prepared for her. Evidently, the order had been taken improperly. The woman didn't even want this poor Mocha even after her order had been corrected. "You can have this one, too," the clerk offered. "No," the woman replied forcefully, picking up her new coffee and making her way to the door.
So, this Mocha was just sitting there, all by itself. When my coffees were ready, I asked meekly, "So, are you just going to throw that Mocha away?"

The clerk eyed me with marked irritation and replied in a disdainful tone, "You can have it, if you want it."
"Okay," I heartily agreed (without a hint of hesitation, I might add!) "I'll take it." I tried to ignore the fact that I felt vaguely like a beggar. After all, it was just going to be thrown out ... and it was perfectly good.

So, here it is, hours later, and I'm sipping it. It tastes great. Cold and all!

Of Ballgames and Blasting Caps ...

Randy and I really enjoy going to baseball games in small towns. Last night, he took me to Kannapolis to see the Intimidators. We had a great time. Although it was a little warm out there, even at twilight, it was "Thirsty Thursday," so drinks were discount priced!
And no trip to a ballgame is complete without a bag of salted-in-the-shell peanuts! I love these things! In fact, I was taking this photo when the best play of the evening happened! A triple play, no less, for the home team!
I pretty much ate the whole bag by myself and yes, they were fantastic.
I love the 7th inning stretch when everybody stands up and sings "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" ... it's really fun.
Another interesting part was the elderly woman who sat in front of us. She kept notebooks full of the players' statistics! She was taking notes as the game went on ... and making kind of mean comments, too, like "Do you need my glasses out there?"
And she kept yelling out, "What, did they send all our good players up?"
I couldn't help but feel sorry for the guys out there. What happened to a little encouragement?AND
while we're on the subject of ballgames, the other day, for no apparent reason, I started thinking about an advertisement I had seen ages and ages ago when I was little. I mean, I think this was before I was even in kindergarten. I remembered a few things about it: It had an African-American sports person in it ... and it was warning kids not to play with blasting caps. Well, I took these two pieces of information to GOOGLE and lo and behold, I found it!
Here it is for anyone who is interested (or if you want to just have a good, old trip down memory lane ... I mean, it might just ring a bell!) This is so great, you have to watch it! I mean it! Who can forget Willy Mays instructing you to "Play with these, not those!" "Don't touch them!"
Blasting caps must really have been laying all over the place back then! Remember the horrible stories about the kids who HAD played with blasting caps and blown their fingers or hands off?? I even remember colorful posters lining the school halls that warned about the dangers of blasting caps! Why, they must have been everywhere!

More on the Addition!

Here are a few photos for an update on my Dad's addition!
My Dad's future bathroom. The hole is where the roll-in, curbless shower will go. Lots of grab bars and a really great shower fixture picked out! The door will go, obviously, and instead there will be a pass-through laundry chute. The washer and dryer are on the other side of that door.
Here's a view from Dad's bedroom.

And here's the view from the sunroom!

And here's a view from the side of the whole thing!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Brown-Sugar Fudge! (or Penuche!)

Okay ... I know I probably shouldn't have, but I did. And I'm loving every, single, rich, delicious piece of it!
I made brown-sugar fudge!!! Have you ever eaten the Butterscotch Squares at See's Candies? One taste of those fabulous, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of candy and I'm done. I'm hooked. I can't stop myself from going back for another ... and another ... and yes, even another! It doesn't matter that my stomach feels queasy. I want MORE. The only thing that See's Butterscotch Squares have that my Brown-Sugar Fudge doesn't have is the chocolate on the outside. And that's quite all right, because it's what's INSIDE the chocolate that I crave!!!
Well, over the weekend, for no apparent reason, I just had a yen for Brown-Sugar Fudge. And yet, my plans were foiled every time I thought I had everything ready. Oops! No evaporated milk! Oops! I can't find my candy thermometer, etc., etc.
FINALLY, yesterday, I had everything ... okay, well, I didn't have the light corn syrup, only dark, but I was determined that would do. And, boy, did it ever!
You will find the recipe here.
I omitted the nuts, but they'd be very good, I think. Give it a try!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A New Project! (and it's got nothing to do with knitting!)

Yep, it's official. I've started a new project. Only I have help on this one! We're building an addition onto our house so we can move my Dad home! Two weeks ago, the man came and scraped all of our stairs right off the house! He scraped up all of our patio, our gas grill and, sadly, even our 30+-year-old blueberry bushes (which, I might add, were loaded with unripened berries. It looked to be a bumper crop this year *sniff)
This is what the back of our house looked like two weeks ago.

And then it rained.
This is how it looks after the rain. There are so many frogs, toads and croaking things in there that it's really hard to sleep at night with all the noise!
I'm hoping the proper permits will be procured soon and that the actual building will start. Every day that my dad stays at the assisted-living facility is another day gone by.
My mother's death is still so fresh for all of us and some days are just really, really hard. About a month ago, when my sister was visiting, we started talking about how lonely it is for my dad without my mom (they had been married for 62 years, you know) ... and we started talking about moving him to our house. Right now, our house is a typical, 1974-era, two-story traditional that is absolutely not handicapped accessible in any way! So, the only solution was to add a few rooms that would be ... and make sure the doorways to the rest of the rooms on the main floor were wide enough to accommodate the wheelchair.
We're adding an all-season porch that will have a wheelchair ramp outside the entrance from the yard. From this room, my dad will have a master bedroom with a large bathroom. The shower is going to be one of those great roll-in showers (no curb to get over!) with wonderful hand-held shower heads. It will be large enough to fit not only my dad and his shower chair, but another person, too, so we can help! We're going to make sure the sink can fit a wheelchair under and move the mirror down low enough so he doesn't have to crane his neck in order to see himself shaving.
A fabulous feature: A laundry chute from the bathroom directly into my little laundry area!!! No more hauling all his laundry down the halls at the assisted-living facility out to my car! Imagine that!
But the best part will be that my dad will be home. With us. We are going to keep some of his private-duty staff, but we won't need all the shifts, which will save an incredible amount of money.
And one other thing we're planning: A koi pond in the yard!!
In the midst of all this, though, I am, believe it or not, still working on knitting projects. I have two major ones in the works right now that are going to take a long time for all the pieces and parts, but I'm really excited about them and I hope you will be, too!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cool Cat Makes His Debut!

This cat thinks he's pretty cool!

Cool Cat is knit almost completely in the round on size US 8 double-pointed needles, then felted in the washing machine. The only sewing is to add his ears after felting ... and to sew up his bottom! Now, how cool is that? His design is available for only $2.50 at The Pattern Box and on Ravelry.