Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have a happy Christmas everyone, be safe, and be appreciative of what you have.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Deck Us All With Boston Charlie

Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo! Do you remember this Christmas song from the old Pogo comic strip? There was a time in my life when I could sing all six verses of this beloved carol. That time just happened to coincide with my college career, which could go a long way in explaining my grade point average.
Anyway, we are pulling into the home stretch of Christmas festivities around here. It didn't look good for a while, as I spent most of December laid low by some sort of virus from hell. By the time I dragged myself to the doctors I had bronchitis, a sinus infection and the plague of school teachers everywhere: pink eye (The other plague is head lice, which I have managed to avoid so far). But with the help of a good strong antibiotic, an inhaler and some steroids I'm starting to get back to normal.
We did get our trees up. I say "trees" because I gave up on huge Christmas trees once my kids became adults and moved on to a few tabletop trees sprinkled throughout the house.

This one has all my favorite ornaments--the ones my kids made, gifts from friends, some angel ornaments that belonged to my mom......a little tree with a lot of memories.

This is becoming my new Christmas obsession:

Glitter houses--or Putz houses. Isn't' it great? This is a new one, but you can find old ones on E-bay. They used to be popular back in the 40's and 50's and were sold in dime stores. They have holes in the back to insert a light and most of them had cellophane in the windows to create a nice glow (and was probably the cause of many a Christmas fire!) I bought one for this year and want to keep adding on until I get my own little winter village under my little tree.

All my rug hooking has been put away until after the holidays. Too messy to leave out. Perhaps that should be my New Year's resolution--find a way to organize myself so I don't have wool and frames and backing and more wool scattered all through the house. I continue to work on our new baby Marla's little blankie. The baby shower is in January, so I better get hopping on that one.

We are taking a trip after Christmas, so I should have plenty of knitting time in the car.....more on that later........

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh my, it has been a while, hasn't it? Hopefully the two or three of you that check in from time to time haven't left.
Things have just been.....well, up, down and all around actually. Some good things, a bit more not so good, but let's not talk about that. Let's go to my happy place and talk about some of the things that have been lifting my spirits in the form of retail therapy, shall we? Because, if nothing else, I am all about throwing money around to make the harder things in life recede to the background.
I know I stated previously that I was going to work on finishing up some of the many projects I have started around here and at the time, flushed with the success of finally finishing something, I really, really meant it. But then before I actually knew what I was doing I was off to a nearby yarn shop to buy this:
I know, I know....not exactly my usual darker color palette. But these lovely bright spring time bundles are going to be used to make something to welcome little Marla, my grandniece-to-be who will be arriving on or about February 9th.
I'll give you a little sneak preview of the finished product.A sweet little blankie! As you can see it is a perfect after work, sit down and relax project. Simple garter stitch and, the best part is that you don't even have to weave in all those pesky ends when you are finished. You braid them which makes perfect little ends for baby to play with.
My next purchase was actually made in the same yarn shop. I took the in rug I finished at the beginning of the summer...........Ha! It wasn't on the floor for 10 seconds before a cat just had to sit her furry little self right on top of it! (This is my daughter's cat, Grace. But don't let her name fool you, the boys around here tremble at the sound of her name.)
Okay, that's better. Now here's my question. Because I tend to suck everyone around me into everything I do, I had to make sure that each and every person in the yarn shop gave their opinion as to what color yarn I should use to whip the edges. And to a person, they all chose brown to go with the house and the trees.
I picked this....
A heathery, light purple to match the majority of the background and the whatever-they-are-supposed-to-be sticking out from the tree. I thought a brown would have way too much contrast and take away from the rug itself while the yarn shop ladies thought it would be a nice way to frame the rug. Any opinions?

Saturday, October 31, 2009


So. Happy Halloween.
Yeah, I know. Can't get too excited about it.
I think it is the 23 years of classroom Halloween parties and parades. About all I can say about being a teacher and the whole Halloween experience is--well--there's just not enough Xanax in the world to take the edge off of a classroom full of over-excited, sugar-filled, crazed children.
Anyway, thought I'd share the one and only Halloween decoration I managed to put out this year.
It's a wool stitchery that my sister made for me several years ago. I'm not sure what Jasperkitty is looking at.
A ghost????
Scary goblins????
Or the dust bunnies in the light fixture???
And have you noticed that Mr. Jasper seems to worm his big bad self into any picture I take?
Enjoy the little goblins, black cats, and ghosties that come trick or treating your way tonight!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Done and Hung!

While not quite the accomplishment of six stair risers that Gayle posted on her blog The Middle Sister (which if you haven't seen, you must go over there right now, because they are fabulous), my one little stair riser is finally finished and hung. No, not on a stair, because the only stairs we have go down into the basement, but in the little hallway that leads to the bedrooms.
Although I didn't make it for that spot, it seems to fit just perfectly. Now off to finish the 137,399,764 other projects laying around in their unfinished splendor!
Edited to add: This is a Cindi Gay pattern. She has a seris of stair risers--all beautiful! You can read her blog here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dying Without A Net

Because I was such a Miss Cranky McCrankypants week before last, I decided to make some changes and make sure I did something joyful each night this past week. Of course, joyful could mean anything from a mystic spiritual experience to a night of wild abandon. For me, however, it meant getting out the dye pots!
I love to dye. Before I started to rug hook, I really wanted to get into dying fabric for quilts, but everything I read looked as if you need enough room to handle yards and yards of fabric. And since I live in a tiny 50's ranch and having a studio built is not an option, I put the whole idea to rest.
Then when I started rug hooking, I was so happy to learn that I could learn to dye. In my kitchen. With minimal materials.
And so with a firm belief that something worth doing is worth doing badly (for how else do we learn unless we allow ourselves to make mistakes?), I set forth. I bought seven colors of ProChem dye, the book Beautiful Wool by Laurice Heath and a porcelain dye pot. (I just went to link to a site where you could buy this book, but Amazon says that it is out of print)
I picked this book because I read it had a section that showed how you could make any color with just the seven colors of dye. Since I really didn't want to spend a major amount of money on dye, which it seemed you could do with Cushing dyes, I decided this was they way to go.
So I have been fooling around with it. Dying a little here and there. Trying this and that. And pretty much completely enjoying myself with a few major disasters thrown in here and there just to liven things up a bit.
This week, I thought I would try dying different values, 1/8 yard each, using canning jars. Since I don't have any wool swatches from the book I thought maybe I would start making my own.
What fun! I did one color each night. By using the smaller amounts of wool and the canning jars, the mess wasn't too bad. And since Rog was up north, I didn't feel the need to completely clean up and put everything away each night. This is what I end up with:

I'm sure you will see some of this wool showing up in my Crazy Horse Quilt rug--especially the reds and browns (actually the golds on the left are really more of a brown). And that little bit of black fluff in the background on the left? Mr. Jasperkitty trying to get into the act. He truly feels that each piece of wool isn't ready for use unless it has a good coating of cat hair!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Heart You

Yesterday, out of the blue, one of my students came up to me, gave me a big hug and said, "Good job, Mrs. Lloyd."
So I figured I had either just passed my yearly performance review or he was really happy it was time for lunch!
Hope your day has a least one hug.....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Just One Thing After Another

Oh Lordy, what a week.
It started off with two power outages at work.....continued with our special ed. director telling us she wanted to make a few changes to our program. You know, just some minor ones. Changes that mean all three teachers moving classrooms and changing up students after the school year has been in session for SIX WEEKS.
Sorry, didn't mean to shout. It's just that most of the time I feel like I am caught working in Superman's Bizarre-o world. You know, the one where everything is just the opposite of what it should be.
Oh well.....cleansing breath.....I know just what I need......take a drive up north to the cottage, spend some time with my husband and see all the beautiful fall foliage. So off I went to see this:

And instead I saw this:
And even this!

Yikes......snow in the beginning of October! I can only imagine what this winter will be like.
However, on our Saturday afternoon drive to see the fall foliage, we stopped in Bear Lake at the Two Sisters Quilt Shop. I love, love, love this shop! I bought some fabric for a bag. No pictures right now, but hope to finish the bag by next week and will post them then.
And while we were there.....guess what?
We found out that there was a quilt show in town! Of course, Rog was just giddy with joy at this news, but being the good guy that he is, he drove me right over and even went in and looked at the quilts with me.
That night we turned on the heat, popped a movie in the DVD player and I started whipping the edges on this:
It's a Cindi Gay pattern that I made at rug hooking camp in Manistee two summers ago. It is supposed to be used on a stair riser. However, since we live in a ranch I think this will end up going over a doorway. Here's a closeup of the center rose:

Amazing how a little fiber, color and time with a really good guy can make the rain, snow and that craziness I call work just fade into the background!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fiber Festival--Second Time Around

Last Sunday, my sister and I went to a fiber festival in Romeo at Mount Bruce Station. This one was held on a working farm and if you would like to read more about it, their web site is here. It was a beautiful fall day and while it wasn't a big festival, it was fun just to spend the time enjoying the cool fall day and sunshine. This is the farm house that was built, I believe in the 1920s:
One of the vendors had this really neat gourd tree which I would love to have in my backyard!
Anyway, after walking around and visiting all the vendors, we took a class in wet wool felting. Let me tell you people, this is not for the faint of heart. You really work up a sweat doing this! In fact, had it been any warmer I think we could have called the class "Naked Wet Wool Felting." It starts of looking like no big deal. In fact it seems kind of easy. You lay out our nice soft, fluffy roving...

You sandwich the roving between two pieces of plastic, first spraying it with a mixture of water and dish detergent. You have to really wet the roving all the way through. Then the fun part begins.
First you rub the roving with the palms of your hands. You start on one side and just when you break out in a sweat, you turn the roving and do the other side. You have to turn the roving so you work at it from all four sides. And then just when your arms are starting to give out--you turn the roving over and begin again on the other side!
(By the way, our lovely and charming hand model for this post is my sister, Karen.)
At this point just when you are beginning to think you shouldn't have let your gym membership lapse, you find out that you now must roll the roving in a towel, squeeze out as much water as you can and begin rolling it back and forth between your hands. I guess, "rolling" would be a nice way of saying slap it around because that is exactly what you do!

Once you've "rolled" it this way and that--unrolled it, rolled it from the other side and started all over again--you end up with a piece of beautiful felted wool:

While it is hard to tell from this picture, this is a beautiful piece of wool made of angora and merino wool with some blue silk threads running through it.

Now what to make with such a lovely piece of fabric. I would make you wait, but as you may know I have this slight finishing problem, so I thought I would share the instructor's finished project-- wool mittens!
Aren't they beautiful? The instructor also gave us some angora yarn so we can make the lace cuffs. And this wool is just so soft; they will be just the thing on a cold Michigan day. I may just have to put my rug hook aside for a week or so and pick up my knitting and embroidery needles so I can finish these before the snow begins to fly. And seeing that I had my heat turned on before the first of October, I don't think that day will be too far away!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy.......

Gosh, it has been so long since I posted--the time is just flying by! What with the wedding, school starting and physical therapy three times a week, it seems like I get up in the morning and before I know it the day is over and I'm back in bed again.
All good stuff, however. The wedding, as I said in my last post, was just perfect. And if any of you would like to drop by, I'll be glad to sit down with you and a cup of tea and show you 32,438 wedding photos and discuss them in excruciating detail.
School is off to a good start. I have a nice group of young men and in spite of a few ups and downs, everyone is beginning to settle in and adjusting to the routine. I have two new paraprofessionals and they are very nice and we all seem to be getting along.
Physical therapy is going well. The therapist told me on Friday I could stop using my cane, which delighted me to no end until I tried to walk a long distance without it. Right now, I won't be entering any marathons, but I am beginning to see the light at the end of that tunnel.
Of course, I'm still plugging along on my rug. Here is my slightly wonky bluebird of happiness:

His poor little flat head looks like mama bird let him sleep on his back to much. And what is going on with that beak?
I also finished a couple of the flowers. A blue trio:
And some red......
And when you put it all together....

I also did some dying yesterday in search of the perfect chocolate brown. I'm not there yet, but I think I'm getting closer. And my sister and I went to a fiber festival in Romeo, but that is a subject of another post!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Love, Sweet Love

On Saturday we experienced a wonderful celebration of love as my son married his sweetheart and best friend.
They wanted a intimate, country wedding and, I have to say, the end result was beautiful and personal. It was truly a family affair. My sister and brother-in-law graciously offered their house as the site for the wedding. My niece performed the ceremony and my niece-in-law, who is a professional photographer, took the pictures. One of my good friends made the invitations and my former sister-in-law made the cake. The happy couple was surrounded by people who love them and wanted them to have the perfect day.
While we don't have the "official" pictures yet, several people were kind enough to share pictures they took throughout the day.
They were married under this rustic arbor made by my brother-in-law.
Nate gets his first glimpse of his bride.....

Lesley walks down the aisle with her father....
Vows are exchanged.....
As are the rings......
And Emily runs up to give her mom and new stepdad a hug.
The ceremony was followed by a picnic dinner, wedding cake, a country western band, dancing and the blessings of family and good friends!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oh, Mercy Me......

......two days of school down and I am tired, tired, tired! Last night I went to bed at 7:30! But the year is starting off well, and I have a nice group of kids. I think it will be a good year.
I finally took some pictures of my Crazy Quilt rug. Progress is slow, but steady.

I'm working on the flowers on the right and then I think I will tackle the bigger leaves. I need to dye some wool, but discovered I left my dyes at the lake! Oh well, too tired to worry about all that now---I'm off to do a little school work and then to bed. I may manage to stay up past 9:00 tonight!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Puttering About....

.....and that's exactly what I have been doing. A little of this and a little of that. While I am out of the cast, I still have to rely on a cane or crutches and need to rest frequently, so things get done in bits and pieces.
I've been in my classroom setting things up. It's not as ready as I would like, but it's the best I can do this year. One things of learned in this recovery process is the concept of "good enough".
I've also been working on my Crazy Quilt rug and making slow, but steady progress. I'm getting some of the larger motifs done and as soon as they are finished, I'll move on to the background. I tried to take some pictures, but the light is fading and my camera doesn't seem to take good pictures when it is dark outside--or maybe it is the photographer, who knows?
And for those of you who have been sitting up nights worried about my safety.......when Moses and Jasperkitty are not busy helping arrange my wool stash, they are on the job alert for any signs of our very own axis of evil.......

a chipmunk that is apparently building condos under my front porch and selling them to his little chipmunky friends. Oh, the growling, the hissing, the throwing themselves against the screen-- all in the hope of just one minute with that evildoer. So sleep well are safe tonight.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Home Again

For good this time, I'm afraid. No more lazy summer days at the lake for me.
When I go to up north for the summer, I take all the wool I will need for the rug on which I am currently working. Because this rug is so eclectic and I wasn't sure exactly what wool I was going to need, I ended up taking a good portion of my wool cabinet with me. Believe me, Rog was thrilled when he realized that the largest and heaviest of my suitcases was full of wool!
Coming home means I have to reverse this process and put everything back in the cabinet. Of course, I had helpers. Jasperkitty thought that my wool might have lost that fine sheen of cat hair while it was away over the summer, so he had jump into the suitcase and remedy that right away.....

Then when everything was back in its place, he was so worn out from all that work that he needed a nap. And there is no better place for a nap than in the wool cupboard!

Moses thought that all this fuss over wool was just craziness, and instead decided to catch his nap in the warmth of the afternoon sun.

The finished project........
Whew......I'm tired.....I think I'll go take a nap!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life is Good

Don't you love these T-shirts? This is my favorite. My sister gave it too me ages ago and I wear it all the time--way more often than a woman my age should. But I love the kitty and I love the message.

Yes, life is good around here.

After four days of rain, cold and general gloom, we finally have a what my husband calls a "bluebird day".....
This came in the mail yesterday.... My Bliss cutter is back and I can get back to rug hooking without having to cut my wool by hand! I finished this........

......and I love it! It is roomy and has two pockets on the outside and several on the inside. I hoping this will help keep everything from falling into a big jumble in the bottom of my purse. And it is so cute I can hardly stand upright from the cuteness!

I am, after ten weeks in various casts, in two shoes......

Granted, not very attractive shoes, but shoes nonetheless. It doesn't look like I will be wearing heels to my son's wedding on the September 12th, but I won't be wearing a cast either.

And best of all, Rog's daughter and two of his grandchildren are coming to visit for a few days.

Yes, life is good!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What do You do on a Rainy Day?

Build a fire in the a good book........grab the cat and an afghan and settle down on the couch for a good nap?
If you are us, and seriously you should thank goodness that you are not, you drive an hour in the pouring rain and then tromp around outside for an hour and a half.
We made plans to visit a perennial farm in Interlochen on Saturday. We checked the weather--cool, but no rain in the forecast. All right--let's go!
Five minutes into the trip it began to pour. We discussed turning back, but then decided the rain couldn't last long.
Of course, it was still raining when we pulled into the driveway to the garden! Fortunately we had umbrellas in the back seat of the car, which we pulled out, opened and held over our heads as we walked around and explored this beautiful farm.
They had water features.......They had flowering perennials.......
and so many different varieties of hostas........
The amazing thing was that although these all look like planted gardens, everything here is in pots, so you walk through and pick out what you want, put it in the pathway and they will come along and put it in your car for youI bought two different types of sedum for the front walkway and bee balm for my butterfly garden.
Afterwards, we went to the cutest coffee shop where they had the BEST cinnamon rolls with thick cream cheese icing. Which we ate while sitting in two very comfy chairs in front of the fireplace. Oh, I guess we did get our rainy day fire in the fireplace after all!