Monday, October 27, 2014

A sad day ...

It's been a difficult 4 days. Had to bury Pumpkin today. I found her on the floor of the bird room last Thursday morning, having gone during the night.

She was an inspiration, and like all other birds I've ever known, sweet sweet sweet. For the last several years she was blind in one eye. I believe her injury was the result of a fight with another bird, but I'm not sure. Found her bloody and injured one night after work. She healed slowly but surely and pulled through. Her flight was not as strong after the injury as before it, but she managed quite well within the confines of the bird rooms, both here and in NY. And she held her ground well.

I will miss her. Her 'home' was one corner of the seed platform, a place she found more comfortable than a perch, most assuredly attributable to her previous injury. There she has been every day for the last 5 years (maybe more, I've lost track) as I enter to change the seed and bring fresh water. Never one to let on that she may be a little weaker, she'd feign ruffled feathers and fly over to the window perch while I replenished their food.

Sweet Pumpkin.

Death is hard. The day I lost Pumpkin I was scheduled for a day long class at the quilt shop and almost didn't go. It took me the whole hour of changing the bird's food and doing dishes and getting ready, to decide that my best bet was to go, and if it became too much I could gracefully leave early. It was good that I went. ...

There was a dear woman working at the shop when I first arrived last year. She was always a pleasure to greet when I went in, helpful and congenial. A sweet soul. I saw her last this summer after she had had a heart attack and by all appearances was on the mend. Only last month I went into the shop to learn that she had passed away, having suffered a series of grave health problems. She wasn't very old. It seemed that one moment she was with us, and then she was gone, so suddenly and unexpectedly.

I discovered her portrait hanging on the wall of the workroom last Thursday morning as I walked in for the class, along with some of her quilting work. It was a memorial and tribute. As soon as I saw it I knew, and asked her to greet Pumpkin as she arrived. It brought some deep sadness, but a bit of peace.

Pumpkin is buried up near the trees by the stone wall.

A hard week.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Estonian Lace ...

The Estonian lace crescent shawl is done. Blocked it yesterday. It was my first crescent shawl and the first time I've ever done nupps. They were a source of frustration for a while but eventually the technique evened out. Not until I was over half way through did I think to confer with YouTube for some videos showing how they may be accomplished. It appears to me they are probably easier when executed using the Continental knitting style. I usually knit English style and found it difficult to knit the nupps loose enough--and they do need to be loose--to manage purling all 7 stitches together on the return row. I resorted to using a small crochet hook, yet that look a while to master as well. What can I say? It was worth it:

The pattern is called "Minarets and Lace" by Mary-Anne Mace, available on Ravelry: Minarets and Lace

In spite of the nupp learning curve--and other than the nupps--the shawl is not terribly difficult and I managed it in 2 weeks, start to finish.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vermont Sheep & Wool ...

Last weekend was the Sheep and Wool festival of Vermont, held in Tunbridge. I almost didn't go because the car hasn't been up to snuff, but the mechanic told me it should hold up ok so I decided to go for it on Sunday. We made it over and back, but it was apparently a close call. The following day I drove the car into the garage and it was discovered that my radiator had a leak. So a new radiator, plus a new block sensor, and new A/C pulley and gas cap adjustment and tire stud has left my wallet blowin' in the wind. But it needs to pass inspection next month, so there it is.

It was a brilliant day, very much a contrast to the downpours of Saturday. The festival was lovely, not quite a large as NH, but lovely, and well run. It's a wholesome feeling to attend one of these festivals, and just thrilling to do so in the autumn months. The animals, farmers, country folk, hand crafts, beautiful yarns and wool, fleeces, crispy air and earthiness. Oh, I do love it.

My stash enhancement:

Mosaic shawl... an FO

The mosaic shawl (it's the New Caesar - Triangular Shawl by Stitchnerd Designs) was finished last Saturday. It had been a most enjoyable knit. There is something about mosaic technique that really appeals to me, not to mention the fabulous results one can achieve with it. I think it's the fact that there's so much slipping of stitches; it makes the work seem to go fast.

It turned out 61" across the long edge and 34" down the center of the triangle. I just barely ran out of the green yarn and substituted a different one for casting off, which gives it just a hint of glimmer along that edge. I like it that way.

My new project is another shawl: An Estonian lace and I'm very excited. Can't wait to show it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wildlife ....

I witnessed half a dozen robins this morning across the yard from the music room window. They were picking berries from the bush that has turned most gloriously red. Through the binoculars it was a beautiful sight and I ran to fetch the camera hoping to get a few good pics.

My camera is not an expensive piece of apparatus and there is only so much it can do, but I zoomed in a far as it would go and managed to snap one shot of one of the gorgeous birds. In the photo-processing software, I cropped down to the area surrounding the bird and then re-sized the picture. To give a tiny bit more of a focus point to the bird I slightly blurred the edges, just a tiny bit--as they were already well blurred from the zooming in. I love the colorful results.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Indian Summer ...

It was in the 80s today, forecast of 79 tomorrow; barely dipping below 60 tonight. Positively balmy. I'm sitting here at my 2nd floor desk feeling the sweet cool breeze waft in through the window. Ahhhhhh.

Outside, the surroundings are a spectacle of color. The vibrancy has deepend over the past week and I dare say we may have peaked already. It is truly a wonderland out there, just magical and I'm loving it to the hilt.

I was in NY earlier last week. It was my first trip down on public transportation (a bus), since moving here. I was absolutely astounded by the amount of energy I had the nights of my journey. I was aware of feeling tired on my drives down and back but did not realize how much of the fatigue was caused by driving. Oh my word, the difference between driving and riding is night and day. Needless to say, it was a pleasant change and I did a lot of knitting on the bus. No parking to worry about either and that felt just great.

The day after my arrival home I took a walk by myself on the trail above my house. I'd made the hike once before with my neighbors, but this was my first time alone. I took a big stick and kept in mind what everyone has told me about encountering wildlife. It was without incident. It is so perfectly peaceful up here in these hills and the trail is nice. It's good enough for logging trucks; in fact the 500 acres there is owned by a timber company. This foliage greeted me at the end of the driveway on my way up to the trail:

The beautiful trail:

I took the triangular shawl off the needles this evening so I could measure it. At 50" wide I'm more than just tempted to say that's it, so I'll start casting off and start on the edging.

The $4 scrap quilt top is finished. I changed my mind about the border and ended up with something simpler---and probably more in keeping with the character of the quilt.

I'm quite gobsmacked by this quilt. Can't believe the material cost $4! The actual quilting might be done by an outside service. I haven't made up my mind yet. Last night I laid out the bird top with it's backing and filling and basted it, having made the decision to hand quilt it. Yes, I suspect it will take me a while, hence the possibility that the scrap quilt--since it was practically free--might get sent out.

The checkered border that I had commenced working on has become two pillow fronts. Aren't they sweet?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Color, color, color ...

The leaves have started to turn. I noticed as I gazed out my office window late this afternoon that the canopy of trees makes a stained glass window over my yard. And it's only just begun. Breathtakingly beautiful.

It will be dipping to 37 degrees tonight according to the weather forecast. I'm afraid that means summer is over. I must say that it came to quite an abrupt end. Seems that just the week before last I was noticing how spectacularly beautiful the days had been for quite a stretch. Time to let go now, let nature give us her new suit of autumn color and the weather that accompanies it. I can always bring my attention to the current season. Love to death these changes from summer into fall, before long it will progress from fall into winter, glory be when it progresses from winter to spring, and finally to summer again. Isn't it just splendid!

Color in my work this week as well. Tonight I sewed the last strip onto the central panel of my new quilt. I have absolutely, all-out enjoyed sewing this quilt. It's been tremendous fun and excitement. There is so much color in it, every strip was an adventure.

I think the method I devised to ensure a good distribution of color, and to increase my chances of good effect, was quite successful. I don't see any puddles of color and overall it's a happy and fun piece. It is still--at least partly--random. Here's what I did. ...

I sorted all the colors into groups: yellows, oranges, reds, blues, greens. purples, and neutrals (of which there was a good amount).

Each strip was made of only two colors (which were picked out of their respective piles somewhat randomly, though I kept an eye on my favorites) plus neutral. I made up 6 sets of color, so there are 6 sets of strips.

Strip 1: reds and purples and neutrals
Strip 2: greens and yellows and neutrals (complements to strip 1)
Strip 3: oranges and reds and neutrals (red complements green in strip 2)
Strip 4: blues and greens and neutrals (complements to strip 3)
Strip 5: purples and oranges and neutrals (orange complements blue strip 4)
Strip 6: yellows and blues and neutrals (complements to strip 5)
repeat (yellows in strip 6 complements the purples in strip 1)

And because the strips of one color are in several hues, shades, and saturation the overall effect still looks quite random.

I cut the strips 2" wide and after sewing each stripe is 1.5" wide. 6 Strips makes a block 9" wide. I made 7 blocks giving the panel a 63" width. The strips are 72" long (they will be after I trim them down). I will add 9" or 10" of border on all 4 sides giving the finished quilt dimensions of 81" x 90".

The first border is already cut and sewn together. It will be 1" wide (it's cut to 1.5" wide, .25" seams). The middle border will be 8" and the outside border, 1" or 2". Here's the first border all rolled up. You can't see it in this pic but I arranged each strip of color in the order of the rainbow and there are no neutrals in it: