What I Learned New Today

Just a short write tonight. I have lots to share, but it needs to wait. However, I couldn’t resist sharing what I made this evening at the Dayton Knitting Guild meeting. We had a mini class in felted embellishments, taught by Esther Bechler. This is an entirely new realm for me. Although I’ve messed around with some needlefelting, somehow I’d missed this concept, and I certainly did not realize just how unlimited the options are. I would have liked to have had longer to play, but I’m still quite pleased with the way my sample came out.

(Click to enlarge)

The rose is felted from Merino 5 yarn, and the stem and leaf are from roving. I think this took me about 15 minutes or so to produce.

I would have assumed that wool, alpaca, and such would be the only acceptable fibers to use, and that it would have to be worked onto a wool base, but Esther has very successfully embellished with silk, soysilk, and even cotton, onto silk, polar fleece, and even denim – and she had the projects there this evening, so I saw the unbelievable with my own eyes! This definitely bears more exploration on my part. If you visit her site via the link I gave above, go to the gallery and check out some of her painterly pieces in the purse section. She’s still building the site, so many of my favorite pieces are yet to be posted. She was wearing a lovely silk blouse tonight, purchase for a couple dollars at Goodwill, then embellished with soysilk to make it a beautiful, one of a kind piece of wearable art. My mind is definitely whirring a bit!

Published in: on April 22, 2008 at 9:08 am  Comments (2)  
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Kiddie Gourmet

While talking to a friend online the other day, I was reminiscing about “the good old days” when my children were still actually children. I didn’t want to make the mistake my mother did (“I’m going to make supper, so you get out of the kitchen now!”), so I involved my girls in food preparation activities almost from day one. We have pictures of six-month old Marissa peering over my shoulder from her perch in the backpack, supervising my dinner preparations, and again at 15 months, cutting fresh mushrooms into unidentifiable shapes with a plastic knife for inclusion in that night’s casserole. I had ulterior motives in this, as I really don’t much like to cook. It’s not that I can’t; it’s just that if I’m going to invest that much time doing something creative, I’d like to have something more than a burp to show for it an hour later. My plot worked, and both my girls were quite proficient in the kitchen by the time they were 12 years old, and I was eventually barred from evening meal preparation – for about 10 years! (It was a real jolt when #2 moved out…) Both also cherished their jobs working in a busy restaurant kitchen, and my older daughter is now a full-time cook in an orphanage. They learned to love a task that I haven’t ever enjoyed – and I consider that a major success!

So, back to the purpose of this post. My friend has 4-year-old triplet grandchildren, and it struck me that they might enjoy making a favorite recipe or two from my girls’ toddler cooking days. Dare I say that it was actually one of the few things I made when I was a kid – and I was a lot older than a toddler? I promised to share the instructions with her, then realized that there were surely other people of all ages who would enjoy it as well, so decided to share it here. Don’t let the simplicity of this keep you from the fun of it – even if you are well past age 5.

And by the way, I don’t want anyone who knows me to make snide comments about the irony of me blogging recipes! ;o)

Bunny Salad

A picture is worth a thousand words here. As always, click the photo to enlarge.

Ingredients to make one bunny:

Bedding/grass – Shredded lettuce in this photo, but could be shredded cabbage, carrots, or cheese, or a leaf of any sort of edible greens. Coconut would even do in a pinch.

Body – Pear half. We’ve always used canned pears, but there is no reason not to use fresh if you prefer. If using a fresh pear half, I recommend inserting a knife to make a slit for the ears instead of just trying to stick them in.

Eyes – Nothing beats whole cloves for eyes. Be sure children know not to eat them!

Tail – A bit of cottage cheese makes a wonderful, nutritious, fluffy looking tail. We have occasionally used a marshmallow which is still wonderful, just not so nutritious.

Ears – Nothing beats sliced almonds for ears!

Nose – I like using a raisin best. Roll it between your fingers to make it rounder if you wish. We’ve also used a bit of a pink miniature marshmallow, piece of maraschino cherry, or a red hot.

Note – bunnies can very easily become mice if you use a piece of shoestring licorice for a tail.

Candle Salad


Plate garnish – Shredded lettuce in this photo, but could be anything along this line. It’s just to make it look pretty, after all. ;o)

Candle holder – One slice of pineapple. Might be able to substitute another fruit with help from an adult to cut it, but we like the simplicity and convenience of canned pineapple rings. Besides, they fit the average banana perfectly.

Candlestick – Banana, or really just part of a banana. If you are shopping expressly for this recipe, do yourself a favor and buy bananas with long, straight parts. Curved candles look sort of dopey, and they are tough to light.

Flame – Half of a maraschino cherry. I raided a can of fruit cocktail tonight, because I didn’t have a jar of cherries open.

Decorations – When I was a kid, pineapple rings were yellow, but this one was a really bland color and I thought the salad looked boring. Since I opened the fruit cocktail in search of a cherry anyway, I picked out some peach chunks and used them as decorations. I think it looks much prettier this way! Use your imagination on this part, and I’m sure you can come up with all sorts of ideas.

Once your child masters these little bits of food art, you can challenge them to see what else their imaginations can present. A peach half can become a clown with a licorice grin…

Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 7:22 am  Comments (3)  
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Counting Down

Only 146 more photos and captions to rescue from Epson, and I’ll be done. My mousing hand is starting to feel abused, especially in my wrist, and I think my brain is fried from doing such repetitive work for so long, and the Epson site seems to be running slower by the day, no doubt swamped by folks doing the same thing I am. But I’m close enough now to know I can do this – and I’m going to get it done well before the deadline. No lallygagging on this project! I have visions of the site being so congested the last week so as to be virtually in accessible, and I don’t want to take that risk. I have to say it will definitely be a huge relief when it’s done – and a tremendous pleasure when adding pix to the albums will be classed as making progress instead of just holding my ground.

I will confess that as much as I hate being forced into the task, two good things have come from it. First of all, in the process of moving each photo and each caption one at a time, I’m seeing each picture and reading each story – and having lots of laughs and a few tears as I relieve so many of the memories from the past 3 years.

The second good thing is that I’ve gone from thinking I’d never find another photo site as well as Epson, to knowing very securely that the site I’m using not only has met their level, but exceeded it many times over. Page layout is much more appealing and can be personalized, I can set up main albums to manage any number of sub-albums and keep the basic look clean and easy to navigate, I can upload videos, and if all that isn’t enough, I even get bonus points toward free prints or a year’s upgrade when I make purchases or refer people. It’s seriously a winning set up, and unquestionably the silver lining in what had otherwise been a very gray cloud.

In other news, I’m in love. A friend introduced me to SugarSync over the weekend, and the question, “Where have you been all my life?” seems quite appropriate. Sure wish I’d known about it before I lost my last computer. As I’m starting to learn the ropes of the program, I become more and more amazed. I was sitting at my desktop just shaking my head in disbelief while I worked on cleaning up some photo files on my laptop – yes I said that correctly – then with a couple clicks moved the video I’d been seeking from my laptop onto my desktop so I could put it in an album. The laptop is clear across the room, and I’m previewing and editing its files on the desktop. All I can say is that it is really weird to watch it happen. Not only do I love the security of having both computers backed up – especially considering the antique nature of my laptop – but the ease of transferring files from one machine to the other is almost as good as chocolate. The added bonus is that my laptop is so old and so crammed full of data that it is slow as molasses, but when I use the desktop and SugarSync to work on those same files, it is at least as fast as if they were on that machine. Time being as scarce as it is these days, given the choice of the two options, I prefer using the system that loads pages about 4 times as fast. The quicker I get the work finished, the sooner I’m back to email, knitting, and my version of a normal life. Bravo for SugarSync!

Published in: on April 10, 2008 at 6:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Bunny Hop

It is decidedly spring in Ohio! I just wish I could be enjoying it more than I am. Fleeting glimpses out the door just aren’t doing it for me, but I’m chained to the picture project right now and spending so much time there that I’m just not getting out to play. However, bless her heart, Mae Lei gave me a good excuse to revel in a bit of warmth and sunshine today. She just got a new dress, one I’d commissioned her Tante Nancy to make for her, and she stated quite firmly that we were going outside to take pictures of her with the pretty flowers. “Okay,” I thought, “This will be fun – just like old times, back when my daughters were young and we took Easter pictures by the daffodils each year.” I smiled my agreement – then discovered that her new baby bunny (also from Tante Nancy) was part of the package…

Although she managed to get herself a bit unkempt before we were even out the door, things went pretty well – at least for the first few minutes.

As a special present, Nancy made Mae Lei a bunny tablier to go with her outfit. (She can’t say “tablier” so calls it her apron.) Perhaps you’ve figured out already that Mae Lei has a thing for bunnies. ;o) Noting that she was already getting fidgety, I had her sit down for next picture.

Two belts came with the dress, one pink and one the same soft ecru pique of the collar and cuff. The plan was to model each, but we never quite got that far. It seems the bunny was getting a little tired of sitting still, too, and suddenly decided the tender, green shoots of grass were more appealing than Mae Lei’s lap.

Needless to say, this brought an end to the picture taking…

And it took a good half hour of giggling and squealing for her to finally catch the little rascal. In all honesty, I don’t think she was trying too hard, and truth be known, though I got a few odd looks from the neighbors while I was sitting cross-legged out in the driveway inhaling the fragrances of spring, I really didn’t mind at all. ;o)

Published in: on April 7, 2008 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sweet & Sour

I don’ t have time to write more than a brief entry right now, but I had to put something up! I’ve been working at the somewhat gruesome task of saving all the photo stories I entrusted to Epson over the last few years. If you don’t know, they are closing their album site at the end of the month, and bless their hearts anyway, they chose not to set up a deal with anyone else to transfer the pictures. This means that I’m having to save each photo back to my computer after enlarging it on Epson’s site, then upload it to my new site – which is actually plural, as I’m trying to avoid the headache of having to deal with this sort of situation again, at least any time in the very near future. Of course, both new sites have totally different formats, not only from each other, but also from Epson. Once I get the photos where I want them, then I have to copy the captions over. They are posted at both sites, and I’m also emailing them to two different web hosted email accounts. I just really don’t want to lose this stuff, but the price I’m paying is hours of time and the risk of going totally loony before I’m finished. I do think I’m getting over the learning curve, so the process is speeding up. However, I’d much rather be knitting than redoing a task that was a pleasure to do spread out over several years, and a nightmare to rush through.

So anyway, in the midst of this irritating task today, I got a phone call that gave me enough adrenalin to transfer another entire album. My offer to teach beginner’s knitting classes has been accepted! I was almost afraid to hope, but now I can start making firm plans – and in fact, must make them quickly so I can quote a price on class kits. I’m so full of ideas that it will be difficult to narrow them down to a perfect 4 week course, but since I have to be employed in a somewhat brainless task, thanks to Epson, I’m sure it won’t take me too many days.

I’m so excited… I just can’t hide it… Yippee!!!

Published in: on April 4, 2008 at 8:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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Short, but Very Sweet!

It is finished!

Victorian Lace Capelet

(Shawl Pin by Pam Nelson)

I haven’t yet blocked it, but the knitting is done and the join is grafted on my Lady’s Circular Cape from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. (Original pattern published in Weldon’s Practical Knitter in 1886.) The last stitches actually went in during the wee hours of Monday morning, and would have been much sooner had I not run out of yarn. Sylvia, a fellow Raveler, came to my rescue, sending me the leftovers from her own project, which was, amazingly enough, even the same dye lot! My capelet is made from Knit Picks’ Shadow (100% Merino) in the discontinued Campfire colorway, so when I ran out of yarn, it was all I could do to not panic. It seems to be common for the yarn suggestions to be a bit short on the patterns from this book. This particular garment calls for 1200 yds, and I bought 1320, so thought I would be safe. I love this book with a passion, but from now on, I’m going to overshoot a good bit when planning projects from it. I might not be so blessed the next time around, and this much lace would be an awful lot of work to frog.

Final feelings about this pattern are that it was very easy, but it’s big enough to be very time consuming. I didn’t get a good feel as to how long the body took, but the 146 points on the edging, once I memorized the pattern, were taking me 15 minutes each. With no mistakes to fix, that would be 36.5 hours right there, so the biggest challenge on this pattern, in my opinion, is just sticking with it until it’s finished.

My next challenge is going to be to figure out how to block this piece…

So anyway, let me know what you think.

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