Friday, December 26, 2014

T'was the Day After Christmas . . .

...and all through the town, not a creature was working or clowning around.
For the sales had all started at each crafty store, and the deals were just super,
The buys were no chore.


OK, that's about as far as I can take it. I knew JoAnn Fabrics and Hancock were having sales starting the 26th, so this morning I went shopping. We had been at my daughters in Milwaukee for Christmas morning and I noticed that she had a store-bought Christmas tree skirt. Well, that just won't do, said I, because I knew all the holiday fabric would be on sale right after Christmas. Next year she will have a new tree skirt.


All the yarn was 25% off, and I just couldn't help myself. I got enough for a couple pairs of socks, three skeins of yarn for hats for Green Bay school children, and enough Fisherman's Wool (Lion Brand) to knit a cabled sweater.

It was a little bit of heaven. Can't hang around here much this morning, I've got stuff to do - projects to finish, etc., so I can start these new projects. You understand, ...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cold Weather Breeds Activities

There is something about a white landscape and crisp, cold air that makes me want to bake and knit until the cows come home. That is exactly what I have been doing. Of course the house is a mess, and I keep forgetting to do things (you know - run errands, make this appointment, call so-and-so) because my mind is all wrapped up in what should I bake today?

Usually, this time of year, I would be baking Christmas cookies, but since Dad passed the family doesn't congregate here anymore. It is easier if we are the travelers. Oh, I will do some Christmas baking, because it's nice to take goodies with you when you go visiting, but it's not like I am feeding a dozen people three times a day the way I used to.

Yesterday I decided to bake something that would use up my leftover sourdough starter. See, when you feed a starter it doubles in size, then you use about half of that in whatever you are making. Over time the starter begins to mount up. I have an old fashioned mason jar that I pour the extra starter into, and when it gets full, it's time to make something. Pretzels were the recipe yesterday. I do lack an essential ingredient – some kind of malt – that is used to coat the outside of the pretzel before it bakes. It's the malt that gives pretzels that dark brown color and that is what the salt adheres to as well. The recipe said you could use a sugar wash, which I did, but it wasn't quite the same. What do you think?

Today I will make another loaf of sourdough bread. We are out. That will leave lots of time for knitting as well, because sourdough starter and then the bread both need time to rise. I have lots of sock yarn to wind and socks to make so that should keep me out of mischief. Speaking of knitting, these are the things I have knitted by hand this month. Doesn't hurt that I am to be a great grandmother.

On the left are a pair of fingerless mitts that I started years ago. I discovered them in a bag yesterday and realized they were almost finished. I finally got it done. They sit atop a red and white dishcloth I will be taking to the guild meeting next week for the swap. The socks were not hand-made, but cranked out of yarn I got for a steal. The little booties are for the new great granddaughter and I've had a blast making them.

You all have a good weekend. Stay warm and dry.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Generations

'Tis interesting that 'generations' and 'genes' begin with the same root. You see, the generations continue to unfold in my family, and the genetic makeup continues to be passed along to the new generations. I discovered on Thanksgiving Day that I will be a great grandmother in February. My oldest grandson made the announcement via Facebook, and the family is overjoyed, while also being wary that he is quite young, in his early 20s.

The generations do repeat, however. I was in my early 20s when I had my son, and he was in his mid 20s when he had my grandson. So whoever said history repeats seems to have known what he was talking about. Of course, I was elated when my son arrived. I do remember the night we took him home from the hospital; he wouldn't stop crying. I remember vividly holding him while sitting on the edge of the bed and rocking back and forth, crying myself because he wouldn't stop crying. My mother arrived the following day, all the way from Oregon, and set things right. I was clearly overwhelmed.

As a knitter I couldn't let the opportunity to knit a few baby things slip by. I ordered some yarn yesterday to that end, and I also found a really nice section of knits for babies in Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders. One pattern requires Cascade Fixation, and while most of mine was blue ( the expectant is female) I did uncover a ball of yellow. I set those needles to working right away as you can plainly see. Can't wait for the rest of the yarn to arrive.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Yarn Deal Was Really Super!

In the last post I wrote about visiting JoAnn Fabrics and buying a one-pound bag of un-labeled yarn. It looked like sock yarn but it was enclosed in plastic, so I wasn't exactly sure what I had just paid $6.99 for. Both colors on the left are sock yarn, and I haven't cranked anything with the teal-colored skeins, but the dark blue behaves just like Opal or Austerman. I don't know the brand but I cranked a pair of size small socks, thinking that if it was a disaster or didn't take well to the washing machine, I could just keep them for myself.

Surprise, surprise. That pair of socks washed up beautifully. I didn't
dry them in the dryer, but then I always dry socks on sock forms. They look better that way. What do you think? Each skein also contained more than the standard 100 grams of yarn. I can tell by the thickness of the yarn on the cones after I rewound them. I probably have enough left over from the first cone of yarn to make another sock. However, I think I will hold off on it and make two pairs of size large socks, then combine the leftovers with Russian joins to make fingerless mitts.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I've Been Busy ... How 'bout You?

After reading my friend's blog the other day, http://crazynovelpeople1.blogspot.com/, I rushed right over to JoAnn Fabrics yesterday. Well - I needed some other things too, and I was the first one in the door, bright eyed and bushy tailed at 8 am. I found the tall styrofoam cone I needed, and then I headed towards the yarn department, See, BM had mentioned that there was a mill-ends sale of yarn that had been advertised in the paper. We don't get the newspaper. (Don't get me started. It's pretty paltry, and we weren't even opening it some days, so we stopped taking delivery.)

 I finally found the big, dilapidated cardboard box that was full of plastic sealed skeins of yarn. None of the yarn had labels, so weight and fiber content start out a mystery. I must have pawed through that box for a good 10 minutes, until I found what I thought would be DK or baby weight yarn - good for the hats the knitting guild makes for new borns at one of the hospitals in town.

I got busy when I got home and caught up with other things. I didn't open the bag of yarn until just now and this is what I found.  Each bag in that old box weighed one pound, and a one-pound bag cost $6.99. This is fingering weight yarn, and there is enough there for 5 pairs of socks. I'm not sure of fiber content yet, but I will wind it up this afternoon and see what kind of socks it makes. Five pairs of socks for $7 is the steal of the century. Also, the washing after they are cranked will tell the entire story.

The purpose of the trip was really to buy a taller cone, as I mentioned and I did get one of those as well. That's what I got so busy at when I came home. After cutting a large assortment of 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5 inch squares out of every Christmas fabric I could find, I spent the afternoon pinning the diagonally squared fabric pieces into the styrofoam.

Voila! the result – I went to the basement, riffled through the old Christmas decorations to find some small gold balls to put on the top but what we have is too large. I'll keep my eyes open for some small ones at Walgreens on future trips.

Tomorrow I drive down to Oshkosh to pick up my new Saddle Chair. Can't wait. They were supposed to email me when it could be picked up, but they never did. If I had known that it was already in Oshkosh I would have gone yesterday to pick it up. Now, as it is, I have to pick up the chair the day before Thanksgiving - a day when I was going to cook the pies, Green Bean Casserole, and Candied Yams. I still have to make them, whether I go to Oshkosh or not. Drat!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November Has Been Quite a Month

Winter arrived early here this year; we really never had much of a Fall, and there wasn't any Indian Summer either. So there is snow on the ground now, and on my car as well, because the garage door broke. I know. You don't really want to read about my trials and tribulations, but I'm going to write about them anyway. You can skip to the next blog if it suits you. I won't be offended.

About two weeks ago I did a craft fair near me called Christmas in Suamico. My friend AT went with me to keep me company, and my husband helped me load in and out that day. It was a 9am-4pm Saturday, and I made enough money to buy some more yarn for my sock knitting machine cranking habits.

Many of those socks on the left sold, and I had enough money to order a full cone of Opal sock yarn. That should make about 9 or 10 pairs of socks I think. All of that was going on when the world whirled out of control.

My husband had a heart attack. All agendas ceased, paramedics were called, and six stents later, he seems to be as good as new. He went back to work on Monday. I don't mind telling you that it was a life-changing experience that I don't need to have again. He would tell you the same thing. Diets and life styles have changed around here quite a bit, and it seems as if I am grocery shopping almost every day, just to stock the larder with lo-fat this and lo-salt that. We were already eating pretty healthily, but now it is mandatory that we do so all the time.

The garage fix-it people came long enough to help us get our cars out of the garage. AJ can't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk, so hoisting the garage door was not an option. They will be back tomorrow to actually fix it. In the mean time we are sweeping off cars and I have become the chief snow removal officer. Egad!

This little do-dad is something I saw on the web and thought, I have lots of fabric scraps. I could make that. All it required was a styrofoam tree cone from Michaels and a gazillion 2.5" squares. I did it in an afternoon.

That reminds me. This is dishcloth knitting season again for the guild Christmas party. Guess I'd better get busy.

You are all caught up now. Drop by again. I'm going to be verbose in the New Year.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Acorns and Alpacas

Yesterday it was windy all day in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I don't remember another day, however, that produced such a deluge of acorns, and everyone of them seem determined to hit our back deck or skylights (We have 2 of them in the house.).

This afternoon I put Jessie out on her chain for a little bit and she got it twisted around a tree. To retrieve her I had to put shoes on, because the deck is so covered with acorns that I can't risk walking out there in my bare feet. I hope you can see them in the picture. They are particularly evident against the dark brown mulch just above the deck. Then overnight we had a doozy of a thunderstorm, and today it is warmer here. I thought that all the rain we had last night might cause the cancellation of the Oneida Apple Fest, but the sun was out by 10am and I went with AT.

We met in the Schlotzky's parking lot and proceeded to the Brown County Park on the west end of Mason. There were scads of vendors, and I learn now that it is not necessary to be a member of the tribe to participate. Next year Socks by Victoria will have a booth. They have restored a traditional pioneer village, complete with doctor's office and a typical pioneer home. If I remember correctly there are 6 buildings in all. At the end of the village street was a petting zoo with miniature horses, goats, and alpacas.

As you enter the venue there is a small Oneida long house, and they have begun building an actual standard size long house for next year's Apple Fest.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Blocking Lace with Wires

Yesterday I wrote about the blocking wires that I made out of 1/16" stainless steel welding wires and Plasti Dip.


I blocked the shawl this morning, and this is what it now looks like.

First I washed the piece and ran it through about a minute of the spin cycle on the washing machine. Then I began to insert the wires.


This is the unblocked damp version of the shawl. I then ran wires along the top, down the middle, and down the sides.


Below is a close up of the point where the side and center wires cross.


Notice that I am pinning into floor tiles that were intended for a child's playroom. I bought them at a garage sale many years ago. You can get them new at Sam's Club and Knit Picks, but they will be more expensive than these were.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Repurposed Items!

I had an adventure this morning. After finishing a triangular shawl that I have been working on for some time, I realized I didn't have any blocking wires. I don't want the blocked item to be "peaked" so wires are essential. I did a Google search and this is what came up: http://imgur.com/a/CUICA.

A couple more searches told me where I needed to go to buy the supplies, so I hoped in the car and bought. The stainless steel wires are considerably more expensive than the above cited article states, but the Plasti-Dip was still $7.

When I got home I layed out some waxed paper to protect the counter top and began dipping one end of each wire into the Plasti-Dip. I wasn't happy, however, with the flat side resulting from the dipped wire laying on the flat surface. First I tried rolling the waxed paper so I could lay the wires on a slant over the ridge created by the paper roll. This, too, was not successful, because with the addition of more wires, the paper began to collapse toward the counter top. Then it came to me to use rolled up aluminum foil to support the wires, and the rest is in the pictures.

It takes about 30 minutes for the Plasti Dip to dry completely, and I will dip the opposite ends of the wires this afternoon. By that time I should have all the shawl ends woven in and ready to block.

I love finding a new use for something that is usually used in another way. This morning I was able to do that. Made my day. You have a good one too!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Times They Are a'Changing

It is 45 degrees here in Green Bay today, and there is a definite hint of winter. I guess that means if Fall, although no one who lives here is ready for it. You see, we didn't really get summer. Oh, there were a few humid, hot days, but that general summer, hot, sunny, lazy, feeling never really set in for any length of time. I was out at a vegetable farm last week and they were calling it The Year of the Green Tomato. It just wasn't hot long enough to ripen the tomatoes at the normal "ready to pick" time of year.

I've been knitting and quilting up a storm over the summer. I've made 4 baby blankets for the guild to present to the church where we meet, (they give a baby blanket to the parents of babies who are baptized, quilted a quilt for the Comfort Quilts project at quilt guild, and put together a king-sized quilt out of the blocks the guild gave me when my Presidential term was  complete.

I taught a quilting 101 class at guild on Tuesday on Foundation piecing. It was fun and the students seemed to enjoy it. After class I dropped my sewing machine off at the repair place for an 'oil and a lube'. Then I came home and decided I couldn't Not Quilt for 2 and a half weeks , so I
got out my antique Singer Featherweight. Luckily the manual came with it so I could read about each new item. I am using it to sew on the borders. It is a joy to use.

Tonight is Bay Lakes Knitting Guild so I guess I better get my knitting act together. More at you later.
                                                                                        

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ah, Camping! Well Not Really

For the next 10 days I am going to be "camping", although I can't really call it that because we have a fifth wheel with all the amenities. It is hardly camping, but it is in the woods, and we build campfires, and cook over them, fight the mosquitos and enjoy being away from home.

The beauty of it this time is that while AJ and I are going up tonight, he is coming home to go to work on Monday, but I am staying throughout next week. KC, KB, and LB, my knitting group, are joining me at the campground on Sunday night, staying until Tuesday. Then I will be on my own until the following weekend when AJ will come up again for the weekend.

I have packed a lot of knitting and some designing for a Fair Isle sweater I am working on so I will have plenty to do. No wifi at the campground but it is available near by, so the computer goes along. I'm really looking forward to having the uninterrupted time to do what I want to do - no meals to plan, no phone to answer - oh, did I tell you? phone reception is very spotty, so if you need to get in touch with me, send an email. I will drive in to the town with wifi once a day.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE 1930s, '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s!!

I received an interesting email from a friend this week and I just had to share it. It is all so true. The American historian Howard Zin is credited with having written the original document. Enjoy! I did!

*************************

First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then, after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets, and, when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps, not helmets, on our heads.

As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes.

Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And we weren't overweight. WHY?

Because we were always outside playing...that's why!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day; and, we were OKAY.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Play Stations, Nintendos and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound or CDs, no cell phones,  no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms.

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found  them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from those accidents.

We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare hand, and no one would call child services to report abuse. 

We ate worms, and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and -although we were told it would happen- we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team.
Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! 

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever. The past 50 to 85 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

If YOU are one of those born between 1925-1970, CONGRATULATIONS! 

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives  for our own good.

While you are at it, forward it to your kids, so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it ?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Quick Catch Up

I have to take a short diversion from double knitting because I have photos to share. You see, it is deer season here in our neighborhood. Last summer they arrived and ate all of the Hostas - right down to the ground. This year, they seem to have a fondness for geraniums.

We have two large flower pots at the end of our driveway, right along the street edge, and I planted them both with red geraniums this spring. The photo on the top left is a picture of how both of them looked yesterday. Now I have one with flowers and a one without. If you look closely to the photo on the right you will see small green stems sticking up in the air. There were flowers on those stems two days ago. Arg! Most displeased - they looked so nice.

Tuesday night was the monthly meeting of the Evergreen Quilt Guild and I wanted to share the gift they gave to me for surviving a two-year term as president. First of all, the more than 140 members did this all in secret. I was totally unaware that this was afoot. Each member made two 9-patch 6" squares using purples and whites. One of the members made this gorgeous box in which to present the squares.


When I opened the box, this is what I found. There are enough squares to make a King sized quilt and I have figured out how I want to configure it. The plan is to sew 4 of the 6" squares together to make 12" squares. I am also looking for a pretty complimentary border print for sashing and borders. Much fun. Can't wait to get started.

Have a great day and see you all tonight for the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild meeting.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

More on Double Knitting

I think, perhaps, that confusion arises over the term double knitting, because those two words strung together describe a yarn weight, the technique that I began writing about yesterday, and a loose general usage pertaining to anything worked out of DK weight yarn. When I began researching the topic I often found double knit patterns included in the category with "color knitting" because there are almost always at least 2 colors involved with double knitting. I also often found collections of patterns for baby knits labeled as double knits - because DK weight yarn was used.

To further the confusion there are two main techniques used for double knitting. One works both sides of the fabric simultaneously, and the other works or slips each color, one color at a time. So let's arrive at a definition:

Definition: At its most basic, double knitting is a two-color knitting technique that produces a stockinette fabric on both sides of the work, one a negative image of the other. (see photo above left) It can be worked out of any weight yarn, so long as the needle size chosen is appropriate for the yarn weight.

There are two main methods for producing a double knit fabric:

1. Knit across a row with Yarn A while slipping (as if to purl) every other stitch. Then return to the beginning of that row and purl the slipped stitches with Yarn B.

2. Work both sides of the fabric at the same time. Holding a color in each hand, knit with color A, and purl with color B, moving both yarns forward for purls and backward for knits.

I prefer method #2, probably because I am comfortable working Continental and English stitches at the same time.

I mentioned chart reading in yesterday's post as being problematic for me at first. That is because the chart only shows one side of the work, what we will call, for lack of a better term, the right side. Looking at the picture above you see on the right and left of the picture, the right side. The little V of fabric in the middle is the reverse image of the right and left, and therefore the "wrong side" of the fabric. A chart for that might like like this:

When working on the "right" side, the white squares are worked in the lighter color and the black squares in the darker color. When working on the "wrong side" the white squares are worked in the darker color, and the black squares are worked in the lighter color. (This all assumes that you are not working in the round, but working flat from side to side and back. 

Next post will deal with increases and decreases. Oh, and surprise - there are several ways to work those as well. Happy knitting all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Double Knitting Saga

I believe that this topic will become serial over time. About three months ago I decided to learn how to double knit; my experiences since that time are based upon two texts:


Having been an editor in a past life, the written word is extremely important to me in terms of directions and descriptions. Some authors lack the ability to organize their thoughts in an orderly manner and express them in a way that a new double knitter can understand. Of the two books above, the one by Baber is the clearest to follow. That said, however, Extreme Double Knitting offers much more "how-to" information. I find myself going back and forth between the two.

I started out attempting a hat in the the Post-Quinn book and after several attempts, threw in the towel. At that point I was not completely understanding that the results of my work on Side A was affecting by work on Side B. I ordered the yarn for the coat in the Baber book and decided to try that, as the pattern is worked flat. (The hat was circular, not normally a problem, but in double knitting it was giving me fits.)

When learning a new technique I usually begin by looking for Absolutes. Are there rules that apply all the time? There seem to be just two absolutes: 1. Every knit stitch is followed by a purl stitch and 2. Both strands of yarn come forward before purls and backward before knits, whether they are used or not. Beyond that, everything is up for grabs. Usually, but not always, the purl stitch is in a color that contrasts to the knit stitch, but not always; no absolute there.

The coat pattern is almost entirely in chart form, which is generally not a problem for me, but this time the chart is read from right to left, all the way to the left edge. The stitch at the left edge is called a Pivot Stitch, and from that point you work back to the right edge in the same row. OK. I get that, but every row is worked that way, whether it is a Side A or a Side B. Also, there is no right side or wrong side. Why? Because Side B is an exact reverse image of Side A, so actually the work is reversible. This requires transposing the chart on every other row - a requirement that I found challenging at first. In other words, when working on Side B, you are looking at a light-colored square on the chart and working a dark-colored stitch and vice versa.

Well, folks, that's it for today. I will continue the saga tomorrow. The bottom line is - thank goodness I learn by doing. It has all gotten easier.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

It Was a Sign!

Well, at least that's how I am interpreting it. There I was - at the laundromat - washing the quilt from our bed. You see, Jessie, our dog/child (I know, that's a discussion for another time.) sleeps with us, and our quilt gets pretty dirty. So every so often I take it to a local laundromat and take us back to square one. The news was blaring away on the TV in the laundromat, and just as I am packing up to go home and advertisement for Blaser's Acres comes on the screen. The laundromat is located north of my house a couple of miles, and Blaser's Acres is about 5 miles north of that. It was a sign.

If you live outside of NE Wisconsin you probably don't know that Blaser's Acres is the place to go for strawberries - U-Pick and picked for you. Last year I put up two flats of berries from there - all into freezer strawberry jam. So as I left the laundromat I put Blaser's Acres into the map app on my phone and headed north instead of south. Of course, freezer jam requires plenty of sugar and several boxes of pectin, so on the way home from the strawberry field I stopped at Festival Foods and picked up a few things. Just imagine. When AJ left home this morning I didn't know what I was going to do with the day. Now - the whole day is planned for me.

On the knitting front I had a revelation this past week that I thought I would share. A month ago I purchased some wool from a Door County sheep breeder. I purchased it in 3 natural colors: dark brown, very light brown, and while or off-white. I cast on for a cardigan, and soon realized that I would not have enough yarn to complete the object as designed. The photo to the left shows a 2 x 2 ribbing followed by a Quilted Lattice pattern I found in one of Barbara Walker's stitch collections.

The white yarn is what I was short on. Going into my stash I discovered that I had bought similar
yarn from the same breeder a few years ago, although the names of the sheep differed. The slight difference in color would show if the yarns were worked next to each other, but probably be completely disguised if I could put something between the whites so that they never meet. This was my solution.

I don't know that I have ever seen Fair Isle worked in quit this way before, but I think this works. It's going to look quite elegant I think.

Just so you don't forget the Double Knitting adventure, I will close this post with a picture of my progress thus far.
       

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Weekend Update

I had an awesome weekend and just wanted to share. I drove down to Morris, IL on Friday to the Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Festival. They hold it every year, and this was the 2nd time of my attending. I went two years ago, and AJ and Jessie came along. This time, I drove down by myself and had a good time doing it. While the festival is usually held at  Gebhard Woods State Park, there was considerable flooding there last year and they wanted to give the grounds another year to recover, so the festival was held in town at Goold Park which was just as nice.

The temperatures hovered around 84 degrees both days, although Sunday was a bit cooler. What does one do at a dulcimer festival, you might ask? Well, I'm going to tell you. There were workshops with noted placers/performers every hour on the hour, and performances on the main stage. Vendors were there to sell their wares, which included dulcimers, mountain dulcimers, accessories, CDs, T shirts, music, tuners, etc. You get the pictures. Oh, you want a picture? Here you go. The tent in back is the Stage Tent, and the one in the foreground was where the raffle items were displayed.

This young man's name is Max ZT and he is originally from Chicago. He has taken the hammered dulcimer and mixed it with contemporary Rock and Jazz; he's quite amazing. I took one of his workshops and learned a lot about harmony and arpeggios, how to apply them to the dulcimer, and how they can enhance one's hammer speed. He started a band call House of Waters, that is based in New York. Follow the link to hear a bit of what they do. The band performed on Sunday, and it was awesome.

Saturday night there was an Old Country Dance in a Catholic
church education building across town, and that was fun too. They had a caller, and the Bill Robertson band played for it. They also performed on the Main Stage on Sunday. Robinson  has designed some special hammers and I just had to buy a pair.

After the festival wound down Sunday evening, I got some dinner and planned to spend the night in Morris and drive home on Monday, but I fell asleep after dinner, waking about 10 pm. I thought, why not drive around Chicago during the night time. Far better than fighting rush hour Monday morning, so I hit the road - got home about 3 am. Boy was I rocky all day Monday. Sort of felt like I'd been hit by a truck, but no - I did it to myself. I must say, though, I've never seen such light traffic in Chicago before.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

He's Coming Back...

Pic taken in North Carolina
Today's title reminds me of a beautiful old ballad "He's Gone Away, for to stay a little while, but he's coming back if he strays ten thousand miles..."etc. I got curious about the background of this song because the melody is so haunting and found a website link that explains it in greater detail. Basically, for my purposes, it probably has roots in the British Isles, but more specifically North Carolina. The author of the linked website puts it in the same genre as Shenandoah and The Water is Wide - also among my favorite ballads.

All of that was my way of avoiding the housework that awaits. AJ IS coming home this afternoon and I have spent the last 2 days playing – with no self-discipline at all. Vacuming, dusting, watering plants, laundry - you name it, I need to do it, so that is the basis for my side step into folk history. Anything to avoid the obvious.


I had an idea a couple of days ago, and yesterday was the day that I tried it out. I have a drawer of widowed quilt blocks - blocks that have been made and rejected for some reason or other - and a basket full of scraps.
IDEA: what if I made a crazy quilt-like sandwich of those items and then stitched them down with decorative stitches from my machine? I could make yards of fabric like that and then use the fabric sandwich to make purses or bags or ... something? (not that I needed another project you understand) What do you think?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Busy Time of Year

So much has gone on since I last posted I hardly know where to begin. We opened up the 5th wheel in Door County. We call it our "cabin in the woods", because it truly is in the woods. We spend most weekends there, and have been up 3 times this season already. AJ took an extra day off for Memorial Day weekend, so we had an entire 5 days in a row. Attended the Art Fairs at Sturgeon Bay and Jacksonport, and went to an auction on the way home, where we bid on and won a nice iron planter that is now on the side of our house with plants in it. (whew! that sentence was way too long!)

This year the trillium were in abundance everywhere, as were the morels. We picked morels several times, finding enough for a couple of super omellettes.

Of course, summer finally arrived in Green Bay. It seems we don't have much Spring here. It's just BANG – one day it's winter and the next it's summer. This year it just took longer for it to arrive. So there has been a significant amount of yard work on two houses - the one we are trying to sell, and the one we are living in. I spent an hour each day of last week at the old house pruning rose bushes. The prunnings were so abundant that it took two trips to the garden waste dump site with the truck bed piled high to get rid of them. I also transplanted some rhubarb, daisies, and Euphoribia. The daisies were at our house in Illinois - a gift from NF, a flute playing friend, and we transplanted them up to Wisconsin. Now they are at our new house.

All the while I have been knitting and quilting up a storm. The double knitting project I mentioned a post or so ago has finally started to work. No - I said that wrong. I finally figured out what was necessary on a wrong-side row. Once I had that set in my head I was OK. What do you think? Coming along pretty well, I think.