Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow Day

 I woke up this morning to 7 inches of white stuff! It made the backyard a fairyland of snow.
 I love the view out the bathroom window, with all the trees edged in white.
Meanwhile, a few days ago we made a wall of boxes downstairs to create a make-shift guest room so my mom and brother could visit for Christmas dinner. I ended up sleeping here and it was fun. There is a bathroom on the left, so it is a comfortable space. Eventually we hope to make it a regular room, but it works fine for the moment.
 The Riggs family was together for dinner, and it was delightful to share our new kitchen/dining area/family room with my mom, brothers, nieces and sister-in law, as well as having my kids and husband all home..
Meanwhile I finished a sweater I've been working on, so that was a nice warm way to end the year .It is a version of "Medallion Cardigan" done in Noro sock yarn.


 Happy New Year to all. I wish peace, success, joy and happiness to all of you this coming year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Home for the Holidays

It has been a very busy month of moving and unpacking and organizing. I moved the entire contents of our condo except for the furniture while Peter was in Maui on a business trip.Using a shopping cart, I would take a load of boxes to the elevator, down to the parking garage, load the car, go back up to the condo, repeat, then fill a huge suitcase and put that in the trunk. Then drive out to the house, 1/2 hour away. Unload the car, unpack and arrange stuff, then drive back to condo and collapse. Repeat. Finally, Peter returned, and movers moved our furniture, and now we are mostly moved in. Luckily, the weather was cooperative, I got enough sleep, good food and my fibromyalgia was painful but not overwhelming, for a change. I was running on adrenalin and coffee! Yesterday  the kids arrived for their month-long college break, so we can all continue to unpack and get ready for the holidays. Here are some photos of the state of it now:
Living room

Kitchen nearly done. Still missing oven, hood and dishwasher

Front half of studio

Back half of studio. Sewing machine is set up!

My office. Central vacuum system is so wonderful!
Slowly things are getting organized, and it is a huge job. My heart goes out to those affected by Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook, and I can only hope the new year brings a measure of peace and comfort. I realize how fortunate I am to be able to do all of  this. May you all have a peaceful and loving holiday, and hold those you love close.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Progress!

The family room is painted!

Kitchen cabinets are almost in place.

The hardwood floors are laid down, and covered now with paper, painters are almost done with painting the whole house, the cabinets are almost finished, but we are waiting for the counter tops and the appliances ......( which should come tomorrow!). The house is starting to feel like mine.When our stuff is delivered and moved in, and curtains are up, the fun of arranging, sorting and decorating begins...it is a huge amount of work, and I am so grateful for my husband,who is coordinating this big job himself. His knowledge of house construction is coming in very handy.I am very pleased, although it feels rushed because of the holidays approaching...Happy Thanksgiving! I have so much to be thankful for! And thank you for following along!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

And to think that I saw it on Newbury St

For my birthday, my dear friend Laura treated me to a glorious afternoon in Copley Square,  lunch, and a stroll down Newbury St. The weather was a balmy 65 degrees, and the buildings shone in the sun.


We stopped in at all the churches, particularly
the Trinity Church and the Church of the Covenant, which is finally on the National Registry of Historic Places. Built in 1865 in Gothic Revival Style, the church has stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany from the 1890s and spectacular details which delight the eye.
The baptismal font is amazingly beautiful

I wish I had a telephoto lens to capture the intricacy and beauty of the stained glass windows

We also saw a display of antique crank sewing machines which were fantastic at Sanford Brown College.

We tried to find Tappas to have lunch, but they didn't open until 5, so we stopped in at a bistro and had a delicious lunch nearby. It was a great way to celebrate!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Demolition

The fun of owning a house is the customization, don't you think? Our new house was built by a builder for some generic people, most likely, and the previous owners don't seem to have done much to make it better. Once the excitement of the closing occurred, we had time to really look at the house, and decide it had to change. There were so many features we loved about our last house, and the little things that made it so wonderful are absent here.The first order of business was to remove the existing kitchen, with its stains and cracks and inconvenient layout, and take up the tiled floor and the carpeting so we could lay down oak flooring and re-finish the existing, weathered and scratched flooring. Peter has done all the work so far singlehandedly. It is a grueling schedule, and it is a good thing he knows so much about construction and demolition, and that he has been getting in top shape in preparation for this.He's done a great job so far!
Here is how the place looks now:


The fridge is temporarily there but will be moved down to the basement next week. Oak flooring will make everything so much cleaner, and a nice coat of paint will brighten it up considerably. Because lead time for kitchen cabinets is about 6 weeks, we have time to get the flooring down and make everything ready, and move some of our belongings into the rest of the house. The place looks a lot bigger without the huge unit in the family room, and that awkwardly angled island in the kitchen. I am so glad we have another place to stay in the meantime!

Friday, October 19, 2012

New House!

 After waiting 2 months for the lawyers and bankers to hash it out, we finally closed on our new house. It is in a fabulous location 25 minutes from my husband's job, and near a huge mall with everything anyone could ever want. Plus several local yarn stores nearby! It is in a part of town near a forest and there are great walking trails, but there is a Starbucks 2 miles down the road.
 The original kitchen was laid out in a most unusable way, at least for the way I like to work, with the stovetop jutting out at an angle right where the counter should be left clear. Peter is spending this week demolishing this so we can re-do it entirely.
The powder room is also going to be changed. In fact, we will put hardwood floors down and re-paint the place also.

The livingroom and diningroom will become my studio. I haven't quite figured out how I will arrange it, but there is a great deal of space there!

We will remove the wall unit in the family room and use that as our living room.It is right off the eat-in kitchen, so will be a great space for parties.There is also a deck with a grill right off the family room!
 The basement is huge and has a bathroom and a kitchen, so it will be excellent for Peter's lab and a guest room. I hope to host many visitors eventually!
 The master bedroom is also huge, but strangely has only one closet ( with a window!). I might use that for yarn storage and add another closet for clothes. And we will put down oak flooring up here.
Here is another shot of the basement which will be re-carpeted and host Peter's stuff. There is a cedar closet and a huge boiler room for additional storage.
We are very excited about customizing this house, and finally getting our belongings out of storage!
And, probably we will keep the blue theme going...( you noticed that, right?).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bird of Paradise

A couple of years ago, we were visiting my brother Phideaux (www.bloodfish.com ) in California, and were excited to see how the little plants I grew in my greenhouse were giant hedges and trees in the yards of Hollywood. My brother had a hedge of Jade along his house, where I had a few foot-high plants. We saw Bird-of-Paradise plants all over the neighborhood, as well as waist-high ferns and banana trees. Later, back in New York, we happened upon some BoP seeds for sale in the Bronx Botanical Garden shop, and wondered if we could grow them in our greenhouse. There were two inch long seeds with orange fuzz on them, and we planted them, kept them moist, and waited. And waited. After a few weeks, nothing happened. We googled, and found that the tough outer coating of the seeds had to be cut to allow them to germinate, so Peter made a few cuts with a razor blade, and we waited some more. After a month, success! Both seeds germinated, and threw up shoots, which turned into foot-long leaves on long slender stalks. We transplanted them into ever-larger containers, and a few years later had our own big leafy plants.
As we were moving, we had to decide what to do with them,and as we were going to be temporarily in a small condo, we could not take them.The new owners agreed to let us leave some plants, so we left them in the greenhouse.

Apparently, after the closing, the new owners discovered that one of the plants had finally bloomed! And he was gracious enough to share some photos of the marvelous flowers! We are so thrilled to see them! So, with permission, I share them. Maybe some day we will grow some more! But in the meantime I am so glad the new owners will enjoy the plants! And clearly the plants are happy, too!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Binding off

We found a buyer for our amazing house, which, now that I'm leaving and trying to find a new place to set down roots, taunts me with all the advantages it has. Lovely wide open spaces, yet plenty of closets and a huge and comfortable kitchen,close to train, town and parkways.. It will be difficult to duplicate this set-up elsewhere! Close to shops and my friends, yet private and leafy. I know the new owners will enjoy many years of fun here!
So, binding off is an odd phrase, isn't it? In knitting, it is where you finish the edge of the knitting by slipping one loop over another, and marks the end of a journey of creating a piece of cloth. Because most of my projects tend to be big and all in one piece, the binding off comes after a long acquaintance with a project and many hours spent knitting, designing, tweaking and sometimes ripping out and starting over! But if you consider the phrase itself, "binding off!" can also imply releasing the shackles and gaining freedom! So, in a way we are doing that also.
Here is my latest project: a vest knitted from a pattern by Brooke Nico in Vogue Knitting Fall 2010, #13 Lace Jacket. I left off the sleeves and made it a vest.






Onward to the next adventure!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Spring into summer


Our fickle weather has gone from spring right into summer, and back to spring several times already, so it is a challenge to know what to knit next! I have been finishing up two linen sideways cardigans, working on some infinitely boring stockinette pullovers, and playing around with some  fingering weight yarn that I got from the Eileen Fisher Lab store, which is selling some of the excess yarn ( on cones!) from their production. I fell in love with a grey linen and have been enjoying making a lace pentagon cardigan by Brooke Nico from Vogue Knitting Fall 2010 issue. As I am not using the yarn specified, I had to make some changes to the pattern, but it is a lot of fun and I think it will be interesting. The blue yarn is holding the space for the sleeves, which will be inserted when the body is done.
I also heard from a volunteer at Woodland Public Library who has been teaching crafts to students and ran across my website in a search for quilting information. She writes:
One of the girls in my group, Emily, found a great quilting resource during computer time that I thought I'd share with you, http://www.bedroomfurniturespot.com/bedroom-comforters-guide-to-quilting
 
So, I'm passing it along, and I am really proud to share my love of making great things with the next generation! Thanks, Heather and Emily!
Enjoy the weather...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jelly Roll Quilt Racing

There is nothing like the deadline of a show to spur one on to making new work, and with it the attendant anxiety I have about that very process. I think for me, immersion into the particular way of thinking that I need for making art has been in short supply for several years, mainly because of the anxiety of selling the house and giving up my studio, which has been my refuge and my solace for the last 18 years. I have really enjoyed knitting, which is portable and procedural and unfolds very slowly, incrementally, in time. The timescale of knitting is different from quilting, because it is almost fixed. You can't really hurry knitting. It is always one stitch at a time, regardless of the complexity of the pattern or the color . Quilting, however, can be manipulated and you can vastly simplify and streamline and use shortcuts. I think I gave up knitting in the first place a long time ago because to arrive at a garment, it takes a lot longer if you create the fabric too. Why knit if you can buy fabric, cut it up and sew it together? But that digression will move in a different direction from my point today, which is: how fast can you make a quilt that is simple, fun and interesting to look at?
I ran across a jellyroll of batik fabrics which I had purchased a while ago at a show and thought I should make something out of that. In searching the internet for ideas, I ran across this : Jelly Roll Race Quilts http://blog.heirloomcreations.net/?tag=jelly-roll-races and  this:http://craftygardenmom.blogspot.com/2011/12/jelly-roll-race-quilt-tutorial.html I thought that was a fun idea. Then I thought it might be good to use up some of my collection of Kaffe Fasset and Jane Sassaman fabrics which I have collected over the years, in case I didn't like the quilt, so as not to use the actual jelly roll. LOL. I also didn't like the diagonals created by mitering the strips, though, so I pieced them on end and added blue squares between strips.So, here is my "Racing with Kaffe and Jane" quilt: 49inX 67in. which took me about 3 days including quilting. I used a pillowcase method to finish the edges so I could avoid binding it. It needs blocking, but I love how it turned out.
I also completed a quilt for my mother who is studying astronomy and loves to discuss galaxies and black holes. I thought she needed a new quilt! But this one took a lot more time due to the piecing and cutting of triangles.Now I still have to decide what to do with my jellyroll. And I have a whole box of Kaffe and Jane fabrics left, of course. ...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gerald at 48

My brother Phideaux Xavier ( www.bloodfish.com ) sent me a link to a marvelous interview with Ian Anderson here: http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/interviewiananderson2012.htm. As a young person, I adored Jethro Tull and followed their music over the years. I made a few friends around my love of Ian Anderson's music, and recently was saddened to find one of them had passed away, as I went to share this article with her.It is always a shock to find yourself face to face with mortality and the possibility that our time is limited. We really never know what will happen to us, and how much time is left to finish all of our projects, complete our brainstorms and finally work on that magnum opus. Telling folks you love them is always big on the list, and as we never know, it is a reminder to make each day count. Goodbye, Pamela, and may you rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spring in February?

The weather today is a balmy 55 degrees F, and crocuses and hyacinths are coming up in my yard.
Certainly this has been the warmest weather I can remember for this time of year. I am glad for this, as our heating bills have been less! Leaving more money for yarn I suppose. Speaking of which, I wrote up and posted on Ravelry my pattern for Garter Stitch Circular Shrug, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/garter-stitch-circular-shrug
which is a stash-busting pattern. I decided to offer it for free and see how many variations folks would make of it. Also I didn't do all the calculations , so I felt it was a bit of work for folks to figure out, thus, free..
I'm still working on patterns for a few other sweaters, but somehow writing them up is not as much fun as knitting them! I love the figuring-out-on-the-fly part but not the spreadsheet part...
In other news, I am still looking for the right buyer for my marvelous house, and will be on the RiverArts Artist Studio Tour this year. That should be fun.It is April 28th and 29th, 2012.  I plan to hang as many of my quilts as I can and have a kind of retrospective for myself. Perhaps I will make a few small new pieces also.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

New Year Blues!

 For a change, I decided to work up some cowls and infinity scarves as the year came to a close. This first one is one skein of Misty Alpaca Chunky, which I overdyed with BlueGum dye. I love the bright blue color, and this one skein project is very easy. On a size 10.5 needle, Cast on 30 sts using a provisional cast on, and knit 30 sts. Turn and knit 30, then turn,* knit 15, wrap and turn, knit 15. Turn, knit 30 sts  4 times, repeat from * . When you have approx a yard of yarn left,and yarn is coming out at opposite end from beginning tail yarn,  remove provisional sts and place live sts on a needle. Here you can either do a 3 needle bind off, or graft by Kitchener stitch for Garter: which is as follows:( set up leave P front, P back), then work across row as follows:
Front needle:K off, P leave
Back needle:K off, P leave.

 Now, this seed stitch cowl was done with size 19 needles and 2 skeins of "Baby", a kind of big wool. A nice warm merino!
 This infinity scarf was made with 3 skeins of Bocciolo, which was a birthday gift from my friend Cara. I love how the yarn's bobbles of bright blue popped out! I used double moss stitch, which was loosely followed, as this was my knit-in-public knitting for a while, and some wine may have been involved. But I love this scarf!

My final project for December, shown here still in progress, was done with "Crazy Sexy Wool" by Wool and the Gang ( www.woolandthegang.com ), which also made the size 19 needles.Talk about instant gratification! This scarf took about 6 hours to knit, and was a lot of fun to watch grow. I have been having fun learning how to graft in seed stitch, and that formula is approximately thus:
front needle: opposite off, same on
back needle: opposite off, same on
with "opposite" meaning the reverse of how the stitch looks to you ( either K or P), and "same" meaning how it appears ( k or P).
So, Happy New Year to all of my faithful readers, and I hope 2012 brings you all health, peace and prosperity, but also joy and delight!