Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Aftermath!

The problem with baking is the aftermath! What a mess I had to clean up. Does handwashing mixing bowls and pans burn off enough calories to offset the cookies I ate? No, don't answer that's Christmas after all :-)
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The After

Despite the 17" half-sheet pan, my blondies runneth over and maketh a big mess in the freshly cleaned oven. Of course! But they were scrumptious and a big hit at the Relief Society cookie exchange party.
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The Before

Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chip-Gingerbread Blondies
adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Spirit of Christmas

The weather has been terribly cold here in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We've even had snow flurries -- something not common in early December around here. I put up my Christmas tree and started baking a few cookies, all things that help me get in the holiday mood. But the thing that really helps me feel the Spirit of Christmas is music. I've been singing and playing music my whole life. For much of that time I was in either a choir or an orchestra rehearsing for December concerts and Church meetings. It's the songs, carols, and oratorios that speak the loudest to my soul about what Christmas is truly about, the birth of Jesus Christ.

Of course my favorite Christmas music is Handel's Messiah followed closely by the simple carol Away in a Manger. Given my background as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I have a special fondness for the Christmas music performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I have been blessed to have opportunities to sing in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, first as a member of the Utah Oratorio Society and later The Mormon Youth Chorus. Now that You Tube is a household word, I can share some of my favorite Mormon Tabernacle Choir videos with all of you. May this music spark the Spirit of Christmas in you!

First the choir's most recent video of the Hallelujah Chorus, followed by Mack Wilberg's amazing arrangement of The First Noel. Last is another Wilberg arrangement featuring one of my favorite opera singers, Renee' Fleming, singing What Child is This?. Merry Christmas to one and all!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

On this day in history...

On this day in 1859 the abolitionist John Brown was hanged in Charles Town VA (now WV) for leading a raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Brown's brazen act was just one of the highly controversial actions which ultimately contributed to the onset of the American Civil War. I visited Harper's Ferry last June and took this photo of the fort John Brown used during his raid, now a part of the Harper's Ferry National Historic Park. Located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers near where the states of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland meet, Harper's Ferry was a critical point of crossing from Washington, DC to the Western United States and an important focal point at various times during the Civil War. Now a scenic and serene place except when the trains come roaring through, Harper's Ferry serves as a tangible reminder of the conflicts of our past.

Over the next few weeks and months we as Americans will be given the opportunity to pause and remember the events that transpired as we commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. It started with the succession of South Carolina on Dec 20th,1860and was followed by the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. The Stars and Stripes didn't fly over Fort Sumter again until April 14, 1865, more than four long years later. The Civil War marks a horrific period in our country's history. It's history is multifaceted, the originating conflicts complex. Too many of today's history books portray slavery as the salient issue behind the war. The reality is that slavery had little to do with the onset of Civil War, becoming an issue only after the war had started. While important, the Civil War was about much more than just slavery. It was about regional differences, about state's rights, and about westward expansion. It was about humble farmers and hunters and owners of large plantations. It was about large factories and big cities and taxes and tariffs. It was about the powerful few and the humble majority. It was about one group and ideology trying to impose their will and power over others of different values and circumstances. It was also about ignorance, miscommunication, and misunderstandings. Most of all, it was sad that so many felt that war was the only answer to the problem.

As we look back 150 years I can't help but wonder what could have been done to prevent such an atrocity from happening. Perhaps if the citizens of that time had been less concerned with power, pride, ignorance, & greed and more concerned with mutual respect and understanding this ugly war could have been avoided. Perhaps if those with political clout had been more willing to listen with open hearts and work to find an acceptable middle ground and had been less concerned with self & party-focused wants, maybe war could have been avoided. I also wonder about what is happening in our country today. While we are not involved in a civil war per se, deep divides once again exist in the USA. Politics and parties, pride and prejudices continue. The power struggle is as fierce as ever and it is ugly. Can we not learn from the bloodstains of our past? Can we not learn to work together to truly be "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?" Surely we can find a better way if we try hard enough. Let's not repeat the same mistakes that ultimately led to the Civil War. America can be better. Americans can do better. Our very lives and liberties depend on it. God Bless the USA!
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Sunset

I looked out my window and this is what I found. I grabbed my camera, quick!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Cumberland Gap and Wilderness Road

Today I'm playing a little catch up and posting about my recent adventures in the Cumberland, Blue Ridge, and Smoky Mountains. After having survived such a rough summer I was determined to enjoy the month of October with all it's scenic wonders as much as I possibly could. This year, for the first time in forever, I conquered October and had a blast doing it. I started things off by visiting the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park which is located in the Cumberland Mountains where NW Tennessee, SE Kentucky, and SW Virgina meet. The gap in the mountain range played an important role in the westward exploration and expansion of the USA by such famous persons as Daniel Boone and Lewis & Clark.

I chose to venture up to Cumberland Gap on this particular day, October 1st, because it was a gorgeous day and because the park was hosting their annual Fall festival, a Raptor Festival this year. They had a huge tent erected in front of the Visitor Center where rescued raptors from bald eagles to peregrine falcons, owls, and kestrels where on display. Park volunteers and local groups offered all kinds of hands-on encounters with wildlife. There were also historical displays about the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as reenactors portraying Rachel Carson, John Muir, and John James Audubon. It was quite a lovely event -- simple but very educational and entertaining.

Cumberland Gap NHP is a hiker's paradise, with lots of trails plus a large underground cave to be explored, but for wimps like me a simple drive up the Skyland Road to Pinnacle Overlook is enough joy. The narrow road filled with hairpin curves takes you to the Virginia side of the mountains where one can look out over all 3 states and see everything and anyone who may be trying to cross the gap. No wonder both the Union and the Confederate Armies each had possession of the gap during the Civil War. A relatively small number of soldiers with strategically placed artillery such as this canon at the earthworks Fort McCook were sufficient to keep the enemy from crossing the Gap with supplies communications important to the war effort.

The Skyland Road ends at the Pinnacle Overlook, so named for the rock formations which protruded from the tree-covered hillside.

From the overlook you could look north into Kentucky and see Fern Lake or look south into Tennessee across Powell's Valley and, on this exceptionally clear day, over to the Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest.

Over the course of the summer my mailbox has been filled with travel brochures and information about the Civil War from TN, VA, WV, MD, PA, & NC. Reading though all these brochures has been an education and offered wonderful diversion for those nights when I couldn't sleep. One booklet was all about the VA state parks and I discovered that there was a nifty little park just 10 miles from Cumberland Gap called Wilderness Road which features a colonial period outpost called Martin's Station. The historic log structures had been reconstructed and it was quite an extensive community with numerous buildings and livestock and gardens to support life on the western frontier. Reenactors demonstrated everything from tanning deer hides to making rifles and blacksmithing. I loved seeing the muddy pig, woolly sheep, horses, and colorful chickens. It was a great place to visit!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Punishment and Rewards

Those of you who know me well know that I have been through a very challenging year as I have made major changes in the way I am managing my chronic health problems. The changes are a very good thing, but the process has been a brutal, punishing event. It has taken all the courage and guts I have been able to muster to get through the countless weeks of misery. During the past 7 months I have been a grump, insufficiently attentive and loving to friends and family, neglectful of life's little details, and only marginally able to do the things that typically bring great joy and satisfaction to my life. Through it all my dearest friends and family have been exceptionally patient and caring, even when it wasn't easy for them to do so. I consider myself very fortunate to have such amazing people in my life and am grateful for their care.

Through this healing journey, there have been moments of joy which have empowered me with enough beauty and strength to endure the tough times. The first came back in June when my dear friend Diana once again welcomed me into her home and helped me laugh as we knit together in the company of delightful friends at the 3rd Annual Rustic Tarts & Old Farts Gathering. I was desperately sick at the time, but was blessed to have enough energy to not only knit with friends but also to make shorts visits to Gettysburg, Harper's Ferry, Antietam, and Lexington, VA -- all Civil War history sites that I have wanted to explore. Without Diana and Tony (and Mom & Dad) I would not have had this glorious experience, which sustained me all summer.

I made it through the long, hot summer by pretty much staying indoors where the air-conditioning keep me cool. I can't say that I accomplished much. Even my knitting and tatting have been languishing -- a rare thing! Now that fall has finally arrived and the temperatures have moderated I want nothing more than to get out of the house and get back out in nature. Let's just say I need to get my soul filled up for the next phase of my journey which will take me through the winter. My reward for a long miserable summer was a two-day excursion to the North Carolina High Country and the Blue Ridge Parkway earlier this week. My newest BFF Paula and I escaped earlier this week to Boone, NC and the surrounding area for a little taste of Autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm still editing photos and thinking about all the places we went and things we experienced so it will be a few days before I can share more, but I thought I'd start with just a couple of photos of the fall colors (Grandfather Mountain and the Linville River near the BRP Visitor Center). I'll post more later after I recover from the nasty respiratory virus I came down with after I got back. Punishment - reward - punishment... a never-ending cycle! But, Paula and I had a great time and that's all that really matters!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Falling in Love with Fall

During the last couple of years I have overcome my I-lived-in-Utah-and-Fall-means-it-will-snow-soon aversion and have fallen in love with Fall all over again. Things got cooked up last year with a couple of trips to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in late October. This year, both the fall colors and I hit the Park sooner, camera and tree identification book in hand, ready to savor the season. My most recent adventure led me back to the Smokies and up to Newfound Gap on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line where the Appalachian Trail crosses over.

The weather forecast was for clouds and ultimately rain. By the time I got to the Park the clouds had parted and the sky was sunny and crystal blue for the lower and mid-elevations. The skies did cloud over by the time I reached Morton overlook and I got a little drizzle at Newfound Gap but it really didn't matter as the trees were stunning! I took an excessive amount of photos without guilt thanks to the digital era and photo editing software. Even shots I doubted would turn out could be rescued with a few mouse clicks. WooHoo!

Despite the gray skies and clouds over the North Carolina side of the park, the view from Newfound Gap was amazing. There was a fairly large sugar maple tree that was ablaze in a golden orange hue that reminded me of Tennessee orange. There was fierce competition from visitors to capture the perfect photo by that tree. I had to compete to get my shots with no people in them!

On my way back down the mountain I took the little River Road all the way to the Townsend Entrance. This Past Spring & Summer the NPS received enough funding from various sources to do several major repaving and renovation projects in the park. Included was a major overhaul to a favorite waterfall and swimming hole area known as the Sinks. I just had to stop and check it out. The new overlook is wonderful, yet you could still access the cliffs without much trouble. There was more color at the Sinks than I expected, but I especially was impressed by the strong red hues in a small white oak tree that was growing out of a cliff. Amazing!

It was early in the color season so most of the leaves were still on the trees. Even still, I found a few lovely specimens perched on the cut-stone steps at the Sinks that just begged to be photographed. Such beauty in simple things! It's good to be back in the Smokies in the Fall. I love it!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I'm a Big Girl Now

Well, a Big Girl Lace Knitter that is! You know you are all growed up when you can grab yarn and needles and successfully knit a semi-complicated project that you couldn't couldn't do before. For me that project is Evelyn Clark's wonderful Trellis Lace Scarf, first published in Interweave Knits, Spring 2006. Excited after completing my first lace project, an Old Shale scarf, before Christmas 2005 I had just finished knitting my 1st lace shawl, Kiri, for the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics (which coincided with the Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy in February, 2006). Those two projects sealed my fate -- an addiction to lace knitting. I was ready to take on the lace world...or so I thought.

I fell in love with the Trellis Lace Scarf immediately. My first order of lace yarn from Knit Picks had arrived and I was ready to conquer anything lace. But pointy-tipped lace needles were not readily available in 2006 as they are now and I was using Addi-Turbos. The 7-into-5 cluster stitches which are the hallmark of Clark's design had me befuddled. I just couldn't get my needles to gather up 7 sts once, let alone 3 times to form the 5 sts needed for the lace patterning. After multiple attempts I finally gave up and repurposed the yarn for another shawl. I was not ready for fancy stitches just yet. You can't run a marathon if you are still mastering the art of walking.

After finishing my Echo Flowers shawl, I had an odd ball+ of yarn left over -- just the right amount for a lace scarf. I love my shawls, but scarves are so much easier to wear day in and day out and I could use a few more in my wardrobe. A quick survey of my pattern options and I came across an old working copy of Trellis. Perfect! It's amazing how readily I can purl super loosey-goosey sts on the row before the cluster sts, then scoop up all 7 sts and come up with 5 nowadays. It's almost like magic, but I know it has everything to do with all the nupps I've knit over the last year or so.

I'm adding a few 8-0 seed beads just to the edging. I like the little touch of bling and the beads add just a tad of extra weight which really helps a lace scarf or shawl drape nicely when worn. I'll probably knit a few more repeats of the 16 row lace pattern so I'll have the option of wearing the scarf doubled as is the current rage. I have lots of yarn so the only question will be do I have enough patience to stick it out when I'm sick to death of knitting the same thing over and over again (the problem with scarves). We shall see!

Friday, September 03, 2010

A few photos

I finally managed to haul out my camera and snap a few photos of what I've been knitting on. Tonight I'll just post my latest FO -- the Echo Flowers Shawl. This shawl has been all the rage among lace & small shawl knitters on Ravelry. The orignal design called for 100g of sock yarn, which really ups the popularity factor for many knitters. Me? I still prefer knitting with lace weight yarns, so of course I grabbed a couple of skeins of my favorite go-fiber, baby alpaca, for this little beauty. Throw in just a few seed beads for a touch of sparkle in the border, and this shaped triangle shawl is pretty darn close to perfection, as far as lace shawl designs go.

I am quite enamored by the intricate motifs in Estonian lace knitting, and these 9-stitch flower clusters are no exceptions. Now that I have mastered the tricks of knitting perfect nupps, I no longer feel the need to shy away from complex Estonian lace patterns. The wide nupp (and bead) border really distinguishes Echo Flowers from some of the other popular Estonian-inspired triangle shawls that are popular right now. The border is what people really see so ending a shawl with a flourish is really important.

The scoop for this project is:
Pattern: Echo Flowers Shawl
Designer: Jenny Johnson
Source: or Ravelry
Yarn: Cascade Alpaca Lace - col#1408 (yellow heather), 2 skeins (437 yds/50g; 82g used)
Needles: US 5/3.75mm
Beads: Matsuno 8-0 SL Champagne Pink
Cast-on: 18 July 2010 Bind-off: 26 Aug 2010
Size: 42" across shoulders at back neck X 28" neck to point after blocking
Details: I knit the flower clusters as mirror images, knitting the right side as sssk and the left as k3tog for the flower bases. I did 14 repeats of the Flower Chart

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Footvol - Swiperboy ( EXCLUSIVE NEW MUSIC 2010

So Long Summer...Hello Fall

September has finally arrived and I can thankfully say so long to the summer of 2010. With a few wonderful exceptions, like my trip to the Rustic Tarts & Old Farts Knitting Gathering back in June, the rest of this summer has pretty much been lousy. I've been working with my health care team to make drastic changes in the medications I take to manage my fibromyalgia. The end result will be very positive, but the journey has been anything but. I've been sick as a dog pretty much all summer. Add to that the excessive heat and humidity we've had here in Smoky Mountain Country and, well, I'm ready for Fall to get here and for life to get better. Much better.

When I haven't been sleeping --or not-- I've been watching sports on TV and reading novels that have been collecting dust on my bookshelf for years. My knitting output, especially in August, has been minimal. I spent July watching Braves baseball, Wimbledon Tennis, and the Tour de France. My TDF KAL project was an amazing Estonian-inspired lace shawl called Aurantium Blossom, which I knit in a delicate pink baby alpaca laceweight yarn. The lace patterning is comprised of two different Estonian flower motifs, accented by a simple leaf motif edging. Never one to leave things as is, I chose to gild the lily just a wee bit by adding pale pink silver-lined AB 8-0 seed beads to the edging. When the light hits the beads just right they look like raindrops. Beautiful!!! AB is one of the prettiest shawls I've knit to date.

Inspired by the stunning outcome of AB, I cast-on another shaped Estonian Lace shawl, Echo Flowers, the last week of the TDF. Having mastered the 3-into-9 stitch flower cluster I figured I could whip out EF in no time at all. Yeah, right. NOT! I was so sick I hardly touched my knitting for 2+ weeks. I barely managed to finish EF before the start of the La Vuelta in Spain(another 3 week road cycling Grand Tour Race, another KAL hosted on Ravelry). A shawl that I could normally knit at my leisure in maybe 3 weeks took closer to 6 weeks to finish. SIGH!!! The good news is that EF is perhaps even more stunning than AB because of the wide nupp and flower border that finishes the bottom edge. Once again I used baby alpaca lace yarn, this time in a butter yellow with rosy pink heathered highlights, and added a touch of bling with a few champagne pink SL 8-0 seed beads. The shawl is blocked, but I have yet to take FO photos. Stay tuned!

In the meantime I have several knitting projects I'm working on in fits and starts. The Atlanta Braves are in the NL East pennant race and playing better. Tennis has moved on to the US Open in NYC, the Schleck brothers are cycling in the sweltering heat of Andalucia, and beginning this Saturday it's FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE! GO VOLS!!!

Friday, July 02, 2010

If I finish a few...

...lace shawls, then maybe I can start some new ones, right??? Well, that's what I'm hoping. In the last week or so I finished two lovely lace shawls, Haruni and Trachtentuch B. Both shawls are crescent-shaped triangles knit from the top down with stunning wide leafy edgings. With my love for lace doilies and such, knitting shawls with similar characteristics really float my boat. Hence, I loved knitting both of these shawls.

I started the Haruni Shawl last March when the peach tree in my back yard was in full bloom. I bought the yarn a couple of years ago from an Etsy shop called Prairie Daisy Homespun -- a merino laceweight in lovely shades of pink and pale spring green called Peach Blossom. With those colors and that name I couldn't pass it up! With my tree in blossom I just had to cast-on a shawl with my peach tree yarn and Haruni was calling my name. I normally would not use a handpainted or variegated yarn to knit a lace pattern with such a statement edging, but the overall lace patterning of the shawl body helped persuade me to try it out. While I would definitely use a solid or semisolid for this pattern the next time I knit it, I do love how my lovely pink Haruni turned out. Sometimes "rules" are meant to be broken!

I broke no "rules" when it came to knitting a very traditional German Trachtentuch. this lovely shawl is a vintage design of Erich Engeln, who created numerous lovely lace patterns for tablecloths, doilies, and other home goods in the mid-to-late 20th century in Germany. This is the second, or "B" version, of the trachtentuch patterns, which I chose to knit in a heavy laceweight cashmere cotton blend yarn. The original design was knit in a fine weight cotton thread, and was scarf-sized, but I wanted something just a bit larger. I was the intrepid leader of the Knitalong group in the Small Shawls forum on Ravelry, where a number of knitters created beautiful versions of the two shawl designs. It was rather quite fun!

I totally love the leafy edging on my German shawl, though blocking such a detailed-shaped shawl is a bit tricky for those who haven't done it before. I did take photos of the process and will try to post a quickie tutorial shortly. Meanwhile I am moving on. I have an Elizabeth Zimmerman classic Pi shawl and Eugene Beugler's new Circle of Life shawl in progress, and will be casting on a new shawl tomorrow morning as a part of the 2010 Tour de France KAL over on Ravelry. FUN!!!

Randon Fun

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Friday, May 14, 2010


Everywhere you turn these days you run into someone or some entity preaching the redeeming qualities of being eco-friendly. Everything we eat, everything we buy, everything we do is supposed to be eco-friendly if you are to be considered hip, savvy, or at the very least politically correct. Um, yeah....OK.

I know these "preachers" are talking about saving the planet from doom and destruction, or at least "global warming." I have another take on how to be eco. Call it Kristina's way. My eco is driven out of a little kindness, the generosity of others, a desire to improve the World, and dire necessity. My eco is economy-minded and has only a little to do with "living green." Above you will see Exhibit A of my Eco-K: a stunning ruffly-pink gem of blooming wonderfulness. This gorgeous bloom is on a Japanese tree peony located in my front flower bed just in front of a hedge of deep pink azaleas. It started blooming in mid-April and the last flower is just now fading. A wonderful knitting friend, Leo, gifted these peonies to me two years ago when he couldn't find space for them in his family's garden. It was a most generous gift to be sure. I read the catalogs and know what the sellers want for these high-end plants. I doubt I would ever splurge on them myself, but thanks to a good friend my spring garden has an extra dose of delight. Thanks Leo!!!

Below that gorgeous peony is Exhibit B: the flowerbed outside my bedroom window. This is a marvel of eco at it's best--composed mostly of plants found on the "scratch and dent" sale table at a local garden center. The towering foxgloves were marked down because bad weather an insufficient watering left them with broken flower stems. Who wants to pay $8-12 for a huge pot of busted blooms? Not me...and I didn't. There were 3 plants in each pot, so now I have a self-sowing, self-perpetuating perennial that is an eye-catcher in my garden and requires a minimum of care. I've grabbed foxglove "steals" twice now, once 2 years ago and again 2 weeks ago. Oh boy!!!

The pretty peach and sultry deep purple iris rhizomes came in a bargain box I was gifted a few years ago. Irises don't bloom for long, but while they do the aroma and beauty is unmistakable. They cover a lot of red clay too--and I have gobs of that here in Tennessee. I also have amazing blue irises that have the fragrance of the finest of perfumes...and I didn't have to go to Nordstrom's to buy it!

Finally, the spiky stems covered with pink and white flowers is another "scratch and dent" steal that also self-sows--Nora Barlow columbine. I've seen this plant on sale for cheap in catalogs before, but always preferred the more traditional columbine form of the Winky series plants, both the deep periwinkle/white and the pink varieties. I've changed my mind. Both are wonderful in the spring garden. Add a few bleeding hearts in both the cultivated and the native wildflower forms and I had a show outside my window! Now that's my kind of eco... Eco-K! And oh, that's pretty "green" too :-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fat Yarn, Fat Needles

Since the day I finished my first lace knit scarf about four and a half years ago I have been in love with skinny yarns and tiny needles. That scarf, an "Old Shale" lace knit in a white mohair/silk blend yarn on US size 6/4.0mm needles sent me on a path where my knitting had never gone before. It's been exceedingly difficult to persuade myself to return to fat yarn and fat needles and to try knitting sweaters again. Let me define "fat" for you. By fat yarn I mean anything worsted wt or heavier and fat needles are anything bigger than a US 7/4.5mm. Such yarn feels more like rope in my hands, the fat needles more like broomsticks.

Returning to the "fat" way of knitting has been a real challenge, but I was determined to give it a go. Besides the added bulk of everything was my fear of knitting sweaters. Me? Afraid? YES!!! Why? Because I have yet to ever knit a sweater than fit well and flattered my curvy self. I've done big-enough-for-two-to-wear-at-the-same-time sweaters, I've done boxy, oversized, drop-shoulder, you-just-gained-20-pounds-by-putting-this-on sweaters. I've done multi-stranded, super chunky, cropped OhMyGosh! sweaters and no-pattern-innovate-falls-off-the-shoulders sweaters. And (oh yeah!) the one it's-kinda-snug sweater (you mean dk wt is different from worsted wt????) that I did wear even though it left marks on my arms where the sleeves were binding (so much for puffed sleeves of the 80's). I have learned that accurate gauge swatches are not only important, they are essential to good sweater knitting. Sigh.....

When the new Spring/Summer 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting showed up at my LYS I picked it up and started to thumb through the pages with my usual skepticism for VK. But wait! This time VK came through with lots of lace and plus-sized sweaters that even I wanted to knit. SHOCK!!! When I came across the lace tunic designed by Project Runway contestant Gordana Gehlhausen I knew I had to knit one for myself. I bought some lovely lavender cotton blend yarn (dk wt. :-) and started in. My gauge was perfect using a size smaller than the pattern calls for needles (sz 8). I couldn't stand the thought of having to heft around sz 9s!

Knitting WW cotton yarn sweaters is physically more taxing than lace shawls, so I have had to pace myself. I found that I can do it in the morning, but not at night. Even still, I am only a few short rows from being finished only a month after starting. This is very good. Once I am done there will be photos to share, so keep tuned. In the meantime I chose another summer cardigan/top from a back issue of VK for my next sweater project. Sweaters are great for my wardrobe. I think I'll try and knit some more :-) Shocking, I know :-)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Rant : TNNA

This evening I received an email asking me to complete an online survey for TNNA, the National Needlearts Association,the professional trade association for "hand needlearts" in the USA. I followed the link and filled out the survey. I willingly indicated the needlearts I practice and how competent I am in each discipline. I counted up and categorized every project I completed last year and summarized my spending for materials and related supplies as queried by the survey. I filled in all the blanks. Fine. Then why the rant? Why am I so irritated???? Because of the narrow vision of TNNA.

The only needlearts TNNA wanted to know if I was either skilled at or practiced last year were: knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, or hand embroidery. PERIOD!!! What?????? Not once in any of the survey, even when they were asking about "other" things like sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, or beading did they even think to mention a single form of lace making. No tatting. No bobbin lace, no needle lace, NOTHING!!! It's no wonder that only one published needlearts magazine in the USA ever has anything about tatting (Interweave Piecework) and the only company that publishes tatting patterns (Handy Hands excepted) is Annie's Attic...and that ain't much to speak about. If it weren't for Lacis and a very small handful of other retailers (Nordic Needle, etc.) the lacemakers in this country would have practically no industry acknowledgment or support at all! That's pretty shameful considering the last time I checked folks used needles and related hand implements to make lace in its various forms.

I know, I know! I shouldn't be surprised by all this...and I'm not really. Nevertheless, I'm still angry at the narrowness of TNNAs vision in light of how much tatting and lacemaking has grown over the past decade. At the end of the survey was a place for comments. I wasted no time in chastising TNNA for ignoring tatting and lacemaking, both in their survey and in their acknowledgment of what constitutes needlearts in the USA. Shame on them!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mystery Solved!


Since March is National Crochet Month (and National Craft Month) my LYSO Sandy decided to host a "Mystery" CAL (Crochet A-long) for customers purchasing a ball of her newest cotton thread offering -- Presencia Perle Cotton No. 5. Being a good customer and wanting to support my LYS, I decided to join in. I bought a ball of bright geranium pink thread, dug out an old #7 steel crochet hook and waited for my daily clue to arrive in my emailbox. I teased my friends at The Yarn Haven that we were making crocheted covers for rolls of toilet paper. Hey, they used to be the "in" thing for any fashionable bathroom decor, esp if they were pink! After working each of the 26 rounds given, plus adding one more of my own to "improve upon" the outer edge it is what I had suspected all along. A DOILY. Mystery solved!!!

PS. I have no clue what I'll do with an 18" diameter pink crocheted doily. It's pretty chunky looking compared to my delicate knitted or tatted doilies. I can't say this pink thing floats my boat and it doesn't really go with much of anything in the house except my room...which has no space for a doily this big. Any suggestions???
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Been Dancing

I've been distracted from my creative ways the past few weeks because I've been "dancing" with my team, the Tennessee Vols Men's Basketball Team, in the NCAA Tournament. After what can only be described as an unpredictably difficult year, Bruce Pearl and the Vols soldiered on through much adversity over the past year. They were valiant and worked hard to get an invitation to the "Big Dance", though they were a bit disappointed to receive only a #6 seed in the Midwest Region. Little did anyone expect that the Midwest bracket would be turned upside down the first weekend with top-seeded Kansas losing to a Northern Iowa team no-one ever talked about. It was a sign. The Vols beat a fiesty San Diego State team to advance to the 2nd round, then dominated Ohio University to return to the Sweet Sixteen. Very few of the experts thought the Vols could beat National Player-of-the-Year Evan Turner and Ohio State, but they did. Only one gave them a chance against Michigan State in the Elite Eight. The Vols had never made it to the Elite 8 before, but they came out and played marvelously. The teams proved to be evenly matched, with one never able to place much distance ahead of the other. It ended as the whole game had been played, neck and neck with one hitting the right shot in the closing seconds of the game. When the buzzer sounded the Vols were one point short after a crazy scurry of activity by both teams. Only one can advance, and this time it was Michigan State. It could just as easily been the Vols...and that was hard to watch.

It was hard to see my Vols lose by one point in the closing seconds of the game against Michigan State, but I have never been more proud of a group of Vols basketball players for what these hard-working, dedicated guys pulled off this season. When Tyler Smith made his huge mistake and got three other players in trouble for it, Wayne Chism and JP Prince took ownership of the team and led a scrappy bunch to huge, unexpected wins over top-rated Kansas and Kentucky. They played with heart. They played with class. They honored the coach and the University that had given them so much the past 3-4 years. They stuck it out when the going was rough, tough, and downright ugly. They did what the naysayers bragged a Tennessee team couldn't do. They went where no TN men's basketball team had ever had the opportunity to go. Vol fans are proud they made it to the Elite Eight.

Just an aside...I was especially tickled by (CBS-TV announcer) Verne Lundquist's charming comments about JP Prince's "salute" after he made a big slam dunk or alley oop. Lundquist has been a Vol fan for decades (also a fan of Chism and Prince), so it seemed fitting that he called our tourney games. What he and most folks didn't know was who JP was saluting after those plays. It wasn't an act of ego...just the opposite. It was one guy's way of silently acknowledging his father, the grade and high school basketball coach who had given so much to his son. JP was just saying "Thanks Dad, I love you!". I think that's pretty cool. And in the post-game interviews when Wayne Chism was asked his feelings about playing in the Elite 8? He swallowed hard a couple of times, paused, then croaked... "blessed." That's a pretty special player in my book...and He led a pretty special team. Championship trophies are great, but they aren't everything. Winning comes in many forms, and this year the Vols were the best kind of winners in my book. I'm very proud to be a Tennessee Vol alumae *and* fan. I too feel very blessed. Thanks Wayne!