Sunday, December 27, 2009

are we all merry-ed out?

Hope you all had a merry time! Our Christmas tree is deflating as I write. Yes, there are inflatable Christmas trees! We just couldn't gather the enthusiasm to unpack our great collection of ornaments and decorate the real thing. But I don't think we fell down on the present-making department.

My plan is always to do as much merry making as possible---for holiday gifts. What we can't bake or make, we shop for online away from the retail mob scene.

Though Christmas is over officially I'm still gift-making.
My favorite gift to make this year was/is a slipper pattern to knit and then felt from FrenchPressKnits. It's a quick knit, lots of sewing and more fun in the washing machine. And look how cute they look with buttonshow buttons! Soon yours (those of you who traced your feet know who you are) will arrive by post or personal delivery! I know, the surprise is blown for the most part---all but the color and the buttons...

I started a pair of socks the day before Christmas, never thinking I would finishthem in time to be wrapped and under the inflatable tree. One sock might be finished for New Years Day, but don't hold your breath, dear. Their destiny may be as the first-day-of-the-Spring-semester Socks. (For those of you not on the semester system, that would be sometime towards the end of January 2010!)

That wraps up my gift making ambitions for Christmas 2009! Is it better late than never? I think so.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

post big snow

OK! As the official photographer of snow in our household I have these shots of the blizzard dump. I perhaps spent too much time in photoshop trying to figure out how to fill the empty spot, but the official photoshop user is busy shoveling my car out of the driveway.

Don't know what the news is saying but it looks like we got 20 inches or so easily. I like the big drifts coming off front gable---

Saturday, December 19, 2009

big snow

I took before pictures of the pre-blizzard conditions here on Long Island at the 2:45 dog walk this afternoon. Things weren't looking bad at all, though the neighbors inflatable snowman was wavering in the wind.

But the 9:50pm dog walk was much different. Shivering dog under one arm and shovel under the other to create a pee path through the 10 inches of snow! That was fun.

We'll see what the conditions are tomorrow morning for the post blizzard pictures!

Is that better Sarah?

Friday, December 4, 2009

it needs pink bark, right?

All through with the oven drama, for the time being, but keep in mind that Christmas is just a few short weeks away and anything is likely with my tempermental appliances!

So this little 3-legged stool is now the object of my attention. Until a couple of days ago I was going to toss it. I changed my mind about it's potential and here it is being admired by my camera. I love how you can tell it was made by someone's hand, however crudely, to serve a purpose. A milking stool? To put a plant on or one foot. I'll never know what place it held in someone's house or barn or...

It has character. It's paint job has acquired that desirable crackly patina. And probably the maker of this stool would never have imagined it needed a pink bark slip cover, not in a million years. That's where I come in. I know it needs a pink bark slipcover.

The fabric that inspired pink bark, the Joel Dewberry wood grain fabric at the lower left hand corner of the first shot, is taking it's turn in the dryer after being pre-shrunk. It'll make a nice inner lining, though I'm not just sure how I will construct the slipcover yet, it might be visible. Or it might just have to be a secret thing that few will be aware of, like the intimate details of the little 3 legged stool once it too is obscured by shirred pink cotton.

It's now underway and it's definitely going to be a colorful addition to the natural palette of the other bark textile pieces in my etsy store, Sewfaux.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ha, Ha stupid oven! Or how I managed to make Thanksgiving dinner this year

I hope you have all had a delightful Thanksgiving day!

Eventually we did too...though the potential for not having a pleasant and tasty meal was hanging in the balance for the last 36 hours.

I hesitate to chronicle Thankgiving 2009 at our house, 'cause I've read many a blog with appliance rants, but I might as well go ahead.

We moved into this house 16 years ago and worked hard to finish remodeling the kitchen so we could invite friends from upstate NY to join us for our first Thanksgiving back on the East Coast. The new GE range arrived in November. I planned a sort of southwest menu, did the grocery shopping, cleaned and organized our small house. Masses of turkey enchiladas were readied, as our upstate guests were making their way across the bridges from the Bronx.

Our guests arrived with their dishes, fortunately, because the enchiladas never cooked in the erratic GE oven. (Did I mention it was a GE?) We celebrated with the dishes that didn't need the oven. A memorable, though embarrassing holiday. This was the start of the era of unreliable oven karma.

Fast forward to 2003. I'm working part-time at Williams Sonoma surrounded by upscale cookware which causes me to dream of a professional stove with a grand price tag. Days before Thanksgiving, the GE range, the replacement for the earlier unwilling GE model, dies. There's not enough time to purchase a range (in or out of our price range) and get it before Thanksgiving. Chalk up another turkey day meal thwarted by GE.

I decide or am dazzled by a Kitchenaid Superba model, which once installed looked more like the front end of a Ford Explorer---huge, black enamel and stainless steel. The imposing Ford Explorer impersonator Kitchenaid range has not functioned in a dazzling manner and has required regular visits from the appliance repair guy since it's arrival. Last December unreliable oven karma, predictably sets in a few days before Christmas with no possibility of repair until after the holiday. Christmas baking was foiled as well as a traditional oven roasted Christmas dinner.

This year I took a peremptory approach to the problem and had the appliance repair guy come to replace the broiler ignition just before Halloween. But this was not enough to stop the holiday tradition of not having a working oven. Oh no!

Unaware of impending doom, I went ahead and did my planning and my shopping over the last week, confident that my Halloween trick was the solution. All systems were GO, right? Small turkey dinner for two, not a problem, until Tuesday evening.

It goes like this, you turn the oven on, it reaches temperature, you put the fish in, you turn on the front burner of the stove and an indicator thingie buzzes? The clock goes off and an error code is displayed on the control panel. No amount of touching or pounding the display panel changes the display. (Did I mention this is a Kitchenaid?) The oven has shut down and doesn't intend to come back on. I whispered to the oven in an unthanksgivingly manner "I hate you".

Googling the error code reveals it's either the control panel or the bake assembly ignition which I replaced last Christmas. The Kitchenaid helpline operator tells me the warranty is up on the control panel. Thank you very much. Wednesday morning I call the repair guy and he confirms its an expensive control panel issue. I've had it with this range, it is dead to me. But my plans for Thanksgiving aren't.

Plan B. What a surprise! There are no roaster ovens available on the shelves of local retailers on Thanksgiving eve. OK, OK let's not panic. This stinkin' appliance (did I mention it's a Kitchenaid Superba?) is not going to ruin the $30, 12 pound, butterflied Bell & Evans turkey in my refrigerator.

Ah ha! Plan C. It can all be braised in some assembly of my Le Creuset cookware on top of the stove! I made my adjustments to the ingredients and proceeded to make a Thanksgiving dinner. Though we had to eliminate a few (most) of the usual side dishes and baked items, the braised turkey breast was delicious! Ha, ha stupid oven!

We will be shopping for a replacement in the next few days. Hopefully there's a model of some kind out there that can overcome unreliable oven karma. I have no idea what oven I mistreated to deserve this, but what are the chances.....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Come support a birdy cause!

Next Saturday, if you live on the East End of LI, there will be a Holiday Bazaar in Greenport at the Audobon Society's Red House Nature Center to raise funds to improve the facilities. I'm going to be there with a little table of my hand-embroidered silk sachets, and lavender kits to make your own beauteous holiday gifts. Last time ever for my lavender!

Support a worthy cause---

2nd Annual Holiday Bazaar
Location: Red House Nature Center at Inlet Pond County Park, Rt 48, Greenport, NY
Saturday, November 14, 2009, 10:00am

Monday, October 26, 2009

yarning oversaturation

Yesterday I drove 3 hours to Hartford CT to see what the knitting show, Stitches, was all about. Like the last yarn-filled weekend in Rhinebeck wasn't enough. Just had to find out for myself.

I set out from my house early Saturday morning where the leaves on my trees looked like this.
Every year I'm amazed at how they fill my windows with yellow leaf glow and I take pictures of it.

Connecticut's leaves are still glowing too. I'm happy to be driving through the Fall landscape passing towns with names like Beacon Falls and I try to describe by name the colors that whisk by.

Around 11 I arrive in the parking garage at the Hartford Convention Center. I'm armed with copies of sweater patterns that I think I might need to knit.

It's a convention center like many, you could be anywhere, and the booths are set up like any tradeshow. After the first aisle although I like what I see in the String Theory booth by the end of that aisle I've forgotten all about their lovely yarns, because there's lots of yarn and lots of people. In the third aisle I think maybe I better get a shot of something. So I hold my camera up over my head and click the button to shoot the busy aisle.

By the time I get to the end of Aisle 300 there's an announcement over the PA system about ....some unauthorized photography. What? I take it personally, close my camera and shove it back into my purse. Though I'm a visual person I've apparently missed the big signage at the entry warning the attendees that there's to be no unauthorized photography, because apparently there's something classified going on here.

I've now lost track of what I'm doing here and temporarily lost the will to buy yarn too. I'm also wondering if I can go home before seeing every booth, but I'm also not ready to sit in the car for another 3 hours. It's beginning to look to me like every yarn store within 70 miles has decided to sign up for a booth and brought all their stock with them.

I spot the Tutto Isager booth ---these people know how to display yarn and knitted samples and the urge to buy something wooley comes back to me. I do that, but apparently I wasn't at the right end of the line (what line?) to make my purchase. At least they didn't announce that on the PA system.

One kind lady manning a large booth from another state, a patient state, took the time to show me all the needle felting options. Handles that secure multiple dangerous needles for poking wool---maybe this is what I'm not supposed to take pictures of. Anyway, I buy the one she says she likes the best, the cheapest one.

The Habu booth is filled with baskets of little skeins of intriguing fibers. I buy pineapple twine, it looks like, in two colors and plan to bring it home to add to my collection of unused skeins of wonderous Habu fibers. Oh yes and there was that skein of Possum Lace I bought from the discontinued yarn booth because... I don't know why. Was that a good thing to do for the possum community or not?

In one vendor's booth I was encouraged to knit with triangular knitting needles, but preferred his flat needles. Though he is good at making weird shaped knitting needles in his workshop, his wife has suggested he learn to knit. Good idea.

I'm real tired and I don't remember what aisle I'm shopping in or not shopping in. It's a blur of yarn store cubbies. I've yet to pull out my sweater pattern reference. After all, my current sweater knitting isn't going all that well. I've started 2 different sweaters and a scarf all from the blue yarn I purchased to make one sweater. Sweaters involve things like fitting and knitting to gauge, things I'm not interested in. It takes a long time to do make all those parts and then you also have to be willing to wear the sweater once you've knit it. But that's not Stitches East fault, they probably have a class to deal with this problem, I just didn't READ their information.

I see every last booth or think I do in spite of my hunger and thirst, make one last purchase of Moving Mud glass buttons (for what? a sweater?) and head for my car. Four harrowing hours later I'm home having driven through the pouring rain to safely conclude my weekend knitting or "yarning" adventure. (In my household, "yarning" refers to any activity related to knitting or dyeing yarn or looking at yarn online or receiving it in the mail, now also including taking off for the day or part of the day to do any of the above).

Perhaps no more Stitches for me. It just made me think a yarn crawl of the yarn stores and any independent yarn artists studios within 70 miles of the Convention Center would be a more interesting thing to do. That way you get to stop in towns like Plainville or Beacon Falls, maybe, and be inspired by their leaves, have lunch at a local restaurant, meet a yarn store owner and buy yarn from their brick and mortar establishment and/or meet a creative yarn-dyer in her studio and appreciate the work that goes into that skein of hand-dyed yarn.

Or maybe I've just hit my yarning capacity for the month and I need to turn my attention to scrubbing my stove.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

post Rhinebeck post

The much anticipated NYS Sheep and Wool Festival, aka Rhinebeck, has been and gone. I'm home, sorting and reorganizing my buttons, the booth components and the rest of it.

On Friday I arrived in Rhinebeck around noon, picked up a sandwich from Bread Alone and unloaded my stuff on the fairgrounds and set up my new display, which is sort of fiddly to do, but shows off my wool buttons and button-centric knit samples better than previous displays or at least I think so.

At the end of the day I had a chance to shop in The Folds booth in it's new location. I couldn't decide which Socks that Rocks yarn I wanted with only a handful of people in the booth! I need that Filene's basement frenzy to do a better job of shopping! Workshop attendees and other vendors have that Friday advantage.

Maybe the alarming weather predictions were a factor this year and maybe the upcoming Stitches East impacted the attendance, but the wonderful, avid, rabid fiber people braved the sunny, brisk Fall weather to come to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds were greatly appreciated. Saturday morning before the gate opened it looked like this, (see the happy-to-be-there attendee waving!):

I took a few minutes before it opened to attempt to shop at my short list of booths. My wonderings are restricted since I'm supposed to be there selling and not shoppin'! Beyond my booth in Building A I sought out Creatively Dyed Dianne's colorful yarns and went away with a skein of the multi-multi colored fingering.

Across the aisle was the popular Briar Rose booth which had a line in it already, so I had to abandon any notion of shopping there or even seeing the selections, unfortunately. (Look at the detail on that lady's sweater!)

Had to scurry back to find my boothmate Sarah selling buttons for me already. The rest of Saturday was made up of a flurry of sales of my leaf pins, shawl pins and assorted buttons. Jane (as in, Not Plain Jane) stopped in to compliment me on my new direction---she's been a supportive customer there each year through all my transformations. I asked about her current projects and she's very pleased to have one of her shawls in Clara Parkes' new book. Yay! Jane!

I also was fortunate to be next to the Wool Room booth where author and artist, Carol Cypher, was helping out. Two years ago I had bought her then current book, Hand Felted Jewelry and Beads, she signed the book and talked with me briefly about the book process, being an author and teacher. I intended to start felting right away! Didn't happen. But now I'm determined with her encouragement to get my dyepots going, dye my supply of roving and get started with wet felting. Hope to take a class from her next month at the Kinokuniya book shop in NYC.

The aisles bustled in Building A with great knitwear and other fiber celebrities. I wore my Swiss Cheese Scarf knit in Dicentra Designs glowing golden orange and it befriended several other Swiss Cheese Scarves throughout the day.

Half way through Saturday a woman in an eclectic array of garments dropped into the booth to admire my Einstein Vest (also in a glowing Manos yarn, glowing was the key word for my accessories) and I started to refer her to the Sally Melville books and the pattern for it. It's a very, very simple garter knit but makes a great billboard for a special set of embroidered buttons. She didn't want to knit it she wanted to buy the vest off my back! I thought she was kidding, but she wasn't. We made a deal, I clipped off the special buttons and she left me there unsweatered. That was just too funny! I asked what she wanted me to knit for her next year!

On Sunday the weather was not so great and surely many chose to avoid the damp and drippy conditions. I got to do more shopping and headed for a booth that Sarah guided me to, Julia M Hilbrandt, who makes sleek, simple bags, purses, pillows out of industrial felt with great machine stitched detailing. I was so attracted to her aesthetic I tested all the strap lengths and found the bag I couldn't live without. She also had on display an apple green, heavy felt tree skirt with curvy stitched pleats that should certainly be on someone's Christmas list. Hope to see her again next year.

A big thank you to those that stopped by my booth and bought buttons, admired buttons, touched buttons, rummaged through my sale buttons and my vintage buttons and appreciated my work.

And I'm thankful that I have friends in the area that are willing to put up with me for the weekend, feed me warm dinners, give me a comfy bed to sleep in and accommodate my whims. Thanks Sue and Jamie!

The sun's out here, the Fall color is just arriving in our neck of the woods and it's perfect light for photographing buttons to upload to the new etsy shop:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

2 weeks to go

I don't blog regularly, or haven't you noticed? Last time I sat down at the keyboard I was busy knitting cowls and hats with Noro yarns. Cowls became hats and hats became cowls, it got confusing even for me. There were several transformations and they ended up looking fine. Haven't touched them for a month so they must be done!

The buttoned cowl now looks like this:

And the original cowl morphed into this conehead hat:

These two items will be on display along with other button-topped samples in my booth, A28, at the Sheep and Wool Festival, in Rhinebeck, NY. Stop by my booth in Building A. I share the space with sisters McNamara from The Paisley Studio and Thimblefolk. I know Sarah and Barb are working hard to get ready for this big event!

There is still much work to be done as far as button production, display components---a big list. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I love Noro yarns! Kureyon is one of my favorites. I love it's unpredictable color combinations, how it looks and feels only slightly processed, more like a handspun than a commercial yarn.

When I first joined the online knitting forum, Ravelry, I discovered the Noro lovers group and a treasury of Noro patterns. I chose a hat pattern, knit it quickly on a wintery weekend.


After I tried it on it was clear this Noro hat belonged to someone youthful---like someone that snowboards.

August 13,2009. Back at work on my embroidered buttons. Inspired by the Noro yarns again, knitting samples that require buttons for display purposes and for using up yarn purposes. I've returned to that snowboarder's hat, thinking, how would it look as a cowl, a neck-warmer that needs buttons? I pull out my stash of Noro yarns, I swatch, I calculate and I cast on. I knit away, shaping with short rows, fiddling with button holes until I've bound off and have a finished cowl/neck-warmer. I select a few buttons at random, pin them on and head to the bathroom mirror.

Hmmm. I find that I have knit a cowl for your average sumo wrestler. Though I swatch, I forget to measure during the knitting part (it's over so quickly)! The cowl thingie is not entirely a bad experience, because as I was pulling it over my unruly non-hat hair, I discover it looks better as the beginnings of hat. The wheels turn.

It's now becoming a hat. I'll revise the calculations for the sumo cowl and will knit another one in a regular person size. Now I'm focused on the transformation of sumo cowl into a hat. I've picked up stitches and I'm heading towards the hat's crown.

This is often how the best things come about for me---enthusiasm/disaster/resurrection. It does remain to be seen though.

Monday, August 10, 2009

sat morning o'er the Peconic

Ah! The best time of day on our back deck, overlooking the quiet scene on the Peconic River, sun breaking through the oak branches, in my chartreuse flamingo print pj's, coffee (and camera) in hand...

Our goal this summer has been to make sure every paintable exterior surface is layered with a fresh coat of driftwood grey! I know, quite an inspiring color. I feel like we've been working on the Intrepid since June. So I'm savoring the last horizontal, ungrey surface before the painting maniac returns and the paint brushes come out.

Just enjoy your coffee on my deck---we have plenty of room for more tables and umbrellas on this soon-to-be all grey deck!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

slow sock making

I just looked back to see when I first posted about knitting these socks for my husband. May 28. Now finally they are off the needles and it's August! Quite possibly the slowest pair of socks ever knit.

I learned a lot about knitting socks from the toe up and about fitting the foot.

He loves his socks and how they look with his favorite shoes. I may be persuaded to knit more, if the right shoes come along!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

breezy, 73 degrees and sunny!

We had sun today! That meant tackling some exterior house projects this morning. When that was over I started harvesting lavender stems from what remains of my lavender cutting garden. Haven't replaced the plants that didn't survive over the last, few wet winters, 8 plants remain and only 2 or 3 are really producing, due to my neglect, I guess. Since I've developed a sensitivity to working with the dried lavender, I only work with it outdoors. This year's harvest won't yield a lot to make wands with but it will be enough to supplement the already dried bundles from last year.

I was just shooting a few pics to remind me of this summer's lavender work and waiting for some busy bees to come into the frame. It was a little breezy and not late enough in the afternoon, to catch them clinging to the stems in drunken stupors.

And finally a little worker bee----

Hope to re-open my lavendertrifles shop in the next week with new lavender wand-making kits and finished lavender sachet wands.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

who needs sunblock?

Monday was one of those few sunny day we've experienced this summer (and spring) and I spent the day happily shuttling back and forth to my dyeing area in the garage minding my crockpot full of yarn, hand-painting hanks of yarn, rinsing and hanging them out to dry in my breezeway. The light was so ...light!

Yesterday we stoked up the BBQ so we wouldn't forget what a grilled burger tastes like, we did errands with car roof open, we wore sunglasses, we took the dogs to get ice cream...

The sun didn't last long. This morning it's back to being overcast and threatening rain, not good for dyeing, barbequeing, photography or painting the house.

I was trying to shoot a picture of the results of Monday's dyeing to email a friend this morning---the light from my back window did little to enhance the fiery results.

I pivoted to see if the schizophrenic's worktable had better light for photography---

Not really! So from the worktable cam this morning---socks in progress (SIP), over-dyed Tweed (removed that pesky tweed detail!), punchneedle embroidery in progress (PEIP)and threads, threads sorted to be dyed, knitted edging in progress (KEIP), bulky knit hat waiting for button, finished embroidery waiting to become buttons and pins, the always open Barbara G Walker pattern book, hanks waiting to be wound...and all of this with the Ott light switched on because it's too dark at 9 am not to have lights on!

No need for sunblock again today!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

fathers day antimacassar

My father requested that I make him a chenille rug last winter after seeing the multi-colored, stashbuster rug in my etsy shop. He threatened to buy it for the back of his Design within Reach leather couch, a robin's egg blue leather minimalist piece of furniture that doesn't need further enhancement but...I promised to make one especially for him and his couch. Got started on it in late winter, stalled in early spring, realized that Father's day was coming up without verifying it on the calendar, hurriedly finished it two weeks ago and mailed it off prematurely.

I called it an antimacassar! You know those lace doilies that your parents or grandparents might have had on the headrest and arms of an upholstered chair. This is just a big shirred cotton antimacassar!

I'm not taking any chances that my dad might be peaking in at my blog, so I'm posting this on Fathers's day so I won't spoil the surprise! I'm sorry that I can't be there in person to deliver the rug and make french toast. Happy Fathers Day!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

button hunt

I used to collect buttons until I found out there were rules involved. Several years ago after buying a big batch of mother of pearl buttons at an antique show I wanted to know more about the buttons and joined a button collectors club. I lasted about a year and a half--nice group of women but the rules involved in sharing your interest were beyond my capabilities and so was the price range these women were dealing with at this stage in their collecting careers.

Saturday I went to Southbury CT to shop the vendor showroom at the Northeast Regional Button Association's Annual show. I had been to this show when I was a practicing collector, 8 years ago. Then it was overwhelming to walk into a meeting room filled with buttons, everyone talking about buttons, boxes full of 9" x 12" cards full of buttons and tables filled with boxes! I was totally absorbed in the hunt and unwittingly aggravated the tendonitis in my shoulder by looking at all those cards of buttons, every last one of them. The circumstances mystified my orthopedic surgeon who obviously wasn't a collector.

Yesterday when I finally found the Crowne Plaza at exit 16, not exit 11, not exit 14 or 15 I was greeted by one of my former button collecting mentors at the door. Once inside the familiar room it was much less stressful to be looking for buttons for resale. I said I wasn't a collector for 2 hours or so, then I saw a button that awakened my acquisitorial spirit: an ugly worn wooden button shaped like a squished stump. What else? A log button! (See the ugly one on the lower right of the picture!)

I happily hunted my way around the room in search of more log specimens, tucking manila envelopes full of buttons for resale into my bag for a few hours and then had to concede that I was buttoned-out, just couldn't look at another one. Packed it in and headed south on Connecticut's leafy route 25, I was still absorbed in button euphoria. Well, not exactly euphoria, maybe two steps below euphoria. I would have been euphoric if I found these buttons along the roadside and paid nothing for them, but...

Log specimens examined---

Monday, June 1, 2009

glass in the desert

I saw an amazing installation in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix last week. My friends in Phoenix had shared their night photos of this wonderful display of Dale Chihuly's work earlier this year and I hoped it would still be up when I was in Arizona. It was and I'm so glad I got to see it. I took 200+ photos before sunset, but without a tripod I was less successful when the sun went down.

I loved this show! I loved the Desert Botanical Garden, the hard-scaping, the plantings---all of it! I have more photos but I found the links at the Desert Botanical Garden and Dale Chihuly's even more informative, take a look!