kitty companiona

kitty companiona

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Can of Worms

More accurately, a deli tray of worms.

I do not like leftover worms!
My first instinct is to throw them out as soon as I a finish a rug.  That would be wasting wool.
I do not like wasting wool.

When I designed my flower urn rug last week, I purposely put in those little circle flowers to use up worms.

I didn't do ANY color planning.  I just took out random pieces of wool I wanted to get rid of and put them in a pile.  What to take along to Grant Street today so I have plenty to work on?

The kitchen table before sorting and folding the wool.  A MESS!

It was a beautiful day for driving to Chambersburg, cool breeze, sun shining, fluffy white clouds.  Who would have guessed that the night before we had tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms and torrential rains?

I arrived about noon and there wasn't a lot of people there.  Most of the hookers arrive later in the day, appropriate for  Ladies of the Evening!  So we had time to chat and check out each other's rugs.

Marian is hooking a commemorative rug for a family member's wedding.  There was a lot of discussion about which textured wools would look best for the border.

Kathy has one horse finished and is starting on the red one.

Barb is working on a small colorful quilt.

This is Linda's rug.  It's a large Jacobean style design in soft colors.

Linda also made these cute carrots  (which I thought were ears of corn.  LOL!)  I can see them done in some of the textured wools to look like Indian corn for fall.  

I really love this dog rug which was hooked by Nancee.  I'm amazed with the color choices which make it look like an instant antique.  I'm envious!!!

For once I didn't spend ALL my time talking.  I worked on my rug and got a nice amount finished.  Since I used so many colors in the flowers and the urn, finding a good shade and color for the background wasn't going to be easy.

Kathy pulled wool quarters off the shelves and we debated the pros and cons.  I was hoping for three slightly different textures and shades of the same color.  We tried gold but I thought it was too bright.  Purple/lavender just didn't work.  We finally settled on a sage green.  My leaves and stems were already hooked and showed very dark.  I thought the much lighter sage would have enough contrast to look OK.

When I got home and cut my strips, the stems and leaves blended into the sage background.  YUCK!!!
Luckily I had bought some much-needed gold wool and used it to outline the foliage.  I can live with that!

I want to welcome the new followers who have joined recently.  I hope you enjoy what you see and read here.  And a big Thank You, to all the regulars who put up with my foolish wanderings.

Please have a great weekend, everyone!
Good weather and Happy Hooking!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who Sews There?

Yesterday morning I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and went to work at the sewing machine.

Too many times lately, a sewing order that I've HAD to get done has interfered with my hooking social life!  I was determined to get this pair of pants done so I could go to the Cumberland Valley hookers meeting.

Deiter thought I was crazy.  Any self-respecting person should still be sleeping.

By 6:30 I had put in the last buttonhole.  Finished!  I even had time for an hour nap before getting ready to go.

When the sun came up I could see what a glorious day it was going to be.  It was warm and beautiful.  Just the kind of day that I would create if called upon to make the 'perfect day'.  Trees are in blossom everywhere.

We didn't have a large crowd at the meeting, but there was lots of chatting going on.  I'll just post pictures and not make a lot of comments.

I have to comment here!  Karin looks like she just heard some shocking gossip!  Did I miss something juicy???

I took my rug and my wool, and my cutter and frame.  Dragged all that heavy stuff in and never pulled a loop!  I hadn't talked to some of these ladies for several months so there was lots to catch up on.

For those of you who did not attend yesterday, we are trying to get the word out that the meeting will be a week early next month due to Memorial Day.  So please mark your calendars that we will meet on the 4th Monday instead of the last Monday.

I was tired when I got home so sent Zip off to his evening music lessons by himself and I took some quiet time.  Well, kinda quiet.  The kitties were enjoying themselves sitting in the open windows checking the great outdoors.  They fought over windowsill space and clawed the screens.

Reggie finally won the battle of window space.  See how clawed the wood is on the windowsill from years of cats jumping up.

I settled in for some knitting, but instead became a leg rest for the Big White One.

This morning I got up and tried to pull a few loops before seriously getting into the day.
Check the large white paw creeping into the picture!

Well, it was a THOUGHT!

 My Constant Companion!  I love that cat!!!
He's sitting with me now as I type my post.

Happy Day, everyone.  I hope the sun is shining and the air is warm!

Friday, April 22, 2011

What a Sweet Mess!

Most of you who know me know I love chocolate.  And sweets.

Several weeks ago when I went to Ligonier for the get-together at Kathy's Kreations yarn shop.  One of the other ladies brought these amazingly yummy chocolate covered Easter eggs made by a small candy company in her home town.  They came in a variety of different interesting flavors.  One I really liked was fruit and nut (the healthy choice!  hahaha!!!)

I've always wanted to make Easter eggs and never tried them.  I went to the internet and found some recipes I thought would work for me.  I like easy!  One began with butter and Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, the other with butter and cream cheese and then you added flavoring and powdered sugar to both.  Since Eagle Brand is already very sweet, I went with the cream cheese so it wouldn't be overpoweringly sweet.  I bought dried pineapple and cherries.  There was already dried cranberrys and peanut butter on hand.

I chopped the fruit VERY fine, added 1/2 stick of butter, 1/2  of an 8 oz. block of cream cheese and then started pouring in the powdered sugar.  I worked it in with my hands until it became a stiff dough that no longer stuck to my hands.  The peanut butter eggs were made the same way but I added about a 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter.  Then I shaped my sugar dough into egg shapes.

When they were all shaped, I put them in the fridge to harden for a while.

Both recipes used chocolate chips for the coating chocolate with the addition of a little butter.  I had semi sweet, milk chocolate and some leftover white chocolate coating wafers.

Working with chocolate is an exact science.  It's tricky, at least for me.  I started out with a makeshift double boiler affair with two pans, thinking the water would keep the chocolate nice and fluid while I did the dipping. 

It started out fairly well.  Long ago I had bought this little loop-shaped device for dipping candy (in case I ever got the urge).  Did the eggs stay on the little loop?  No they did not!  Next I tried a two-tined fork.  Not ideal!  I tried a skewer, but that definitely did not work.  Back to the fork.  But it left holes in the egg!  I want pretty!!!  Oh well, time to settle for just OK.

I completed about eight decent looking eggs and then I slopped a few drops of water into the pan by mistake.  Voila!!!  Chocolate turns to concrete!!!  My chocolate had seized up and the party was over.

The eggs went back in the fridge and I made a new attempt the next morning.  This time with the white coating chips.  I used the microwave with no chance of splashing water.  Things went much better. 

Emboldened by success, I decided to try the other bag of chocolate chips.  For some reason the chocolate was not very melty right from the beginning.  I soldiered on, determined to finish and not waste any more chocolate.  I ended up with a nice batch of spiny looking eggs, but they taste good.

I only put the prettiest ones in the picture!  There are some REALLY lumpy ones.

How do the ladies at the churches make those hundreds of eggs and they all come out pretty???

Maybe I should become a volunteer....

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Long Dry Spell

No, not the weather!  It's raining buckets and there's thunder and lightning.

It's the rughooking long dry spell of which I write.  I decided it's time to get back to the hooking whether I'm inspired or not.  I was laying in bed Friday night unable to sleep thinking of designs and not coming up with much.  Finally I decided on a primitive, very simple flower urn.  Something that could be done in an 8 cut and I won't have to think too much about color planning beforehand and just let it evolve.

I got up yesterday morning determined to get something on paper and maybe even on the backing.  It was the task of the day.

Of course I had much-needed help from my darling Deiter.  The minute I picked up the pencil, there he was, settling in on my paper.  At our house it is impolite to refuse a cat the attention he wants whenever he wants it.  So before I can continue my work, we have to talk and have a petting session.

A word of caution to those of you who do not have cats.  You may have heard that cats are independent, aloof, loners who would rather be by themselves.  NOT SO!  They are independent thinkers, you can't tell them what to do very often.  They can be aloof if they are offended or just don't want to talk at the moment.  They do need some alone time every day.  But most of them LOVE human companionship.  They NEED Mommy and Daddy time.  They will DEMAND it!

I was hoping a little bonk on the head with the pencil would move things along, but he stayed until he was good and ready to move.  Meantime I drank coffee and planned rug stuff.

Deet finally decided that Mom time was over and I finished my drawing.`

I do the enlarging at home on my computer because I'm impatient and it isn't always convenient to run to Staples.  I did all the appropriate math and the print setup and started the printer.  YIKES!!!  My design was coming out humongous!  I sized it down a bit and it was still HUGE!  What on earth???  I checked back through the cropping, math, and setup and discovered that somehow during the cropping of the excess around the edge of my design, the sizing had increased.  I'll have to check that more carefully in the future.  Meanwhile I wasted enough paper to make about a quarter of a tree.

All laid out and ready to put together.  Note that I have another 'little helper'!

OH NO!  No tape!!!

We were leaving shortly to meet Chuck and Willa to have dinner at the Pizza Grille in Carlisle.  We could get tape on the way, if it became possible to get out of the car without drowning.  The lightning was flashing, thunder booming, and the rain was falling in heavy curtains!  We saw small stream flooding everywhere.
We were lucky to make it home, but we did get the tape.  Hey, no food pictures this time!

This morning I got up early and transferred to my sheer fabric.  This is a drapery fabric that I get at a local fabric outlet that is stiff enough to make it easy to work with but finely woven enough that I can easily see through it and
get good detail in the transferring.  And it's inexpensive.

Now if only it were sticky like the 'crack stop' that so many hookers are using now.  It has to be pinned on.
Another thing I like about this fabric is that it doesn't suck up the marker ink like 'red dot'.

All the while I'm working, The Big One is close by.  Look at that wide behind!  I think we're both sitting around too much!

Finally finished!  I have no specific color plan.  I know I want the urn to look like yellow-ware and the leaves to be a sagey gray green.  Beyond that, it will just have to evolve.

It's so nice to be happy about working on a rug again!

While I'm trying to write this post, guess what!

He's Baaaack!!!

Not stomping on the keyboard, thank goodness.  But clawing the screen instead!

Have a great day!
May all your cats be Big Fat Lovey Ones!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Out of Hibernation

This past Thursday I decided I MUST join the outside world again.  I came slithering out from under the rock and was met with a wonderful warm day in the high 60's,  How delightful!

Zip has music lessons on Thursday in Hagerstown and occasionally I ride along and he drops me off at my friend Marian's.  Her house is conveniently located en route.  We had been working on a rug design together and wanted to do a little more tweaking before committing it to backing.

But just for fun we also visited the Asian Market in Halfway, MD. 

I had noticed the sign while Zip and I were traveling through and have wanted to see what they had to offer.  It is a small market, but had all the ingredients I had been looking for to make a batch of spring rolls plus the wonderful sweet hot chili sauce for dipping.  In their freezer section I found not only the spring roll wrappers but a package of about two dozen spring rolls already made up.  If only I had taken a cooler. 

Check out all those noodles!

They had some bright golden yellow mangoes that were about half the size of those in the regular grocery.  I bought one of them and that little darling was yummy!  The Japanese eggplants looked nice and fresh, but I didn't get any this time. 

This pastry is made of a delicious soft Phillipine sweet roll dough and contained long strips of sugar-soaked coconut called 'coconut strings'.  Zip and I both loved it.

Then on the way back to Marian's we stopped at the Dutch Market, which features Amish vendors selling their produce, baked, goods, meat, cheese and candies.  I was so thrilled with the variety and clean, beautiful arrangements that I forgot to take pictures.  Please believe me, it was an excellent market.  Another 'bring-the-cooler' venue!  Everything looked so temptingly good that you just wanted to BUY!

Good thing I didn't indulge too heavily because later we were invited by Willa to join her at the Lions Club spaghetti dinner in Shippensburg. 

Her husband, Chuck is a generous supporter of local charitable and civic organizations and he kindly bought our tickets.  Thank You, Chuck!  unfortunately he had to work so could not join us.

On Saturday Zip and I traveled to Ligonier PA which is about a two and a quarter hour drive to the west.  I wish I could show pictures of lovely countryside along the way, but the weather was atrocious.  Gray clouds, fog and periods of rain prevailed.

Ligonier is a pretty little town.  As we arrived they were having a wedding in the gazebo on the square. 

Fort Ligonier was built in the time of the French and Indian war (mid 1700's) as a staging point for driving the French out of the western part of PA.  It opened the area for further exploration, making it possible for the settling of Pittsburg.  Amazing that they had chain-link fence at that time.  LOL!

But you may ask, why did we go there??? 

Because I joined an on-line knitting group through the Knitting at Large blog by Julie Matthews.  I've shown pictures of my sweater in progress and now the participants who lived within a reasonable distance were getting together for a meet and greet day for showing sweaters and generally having fun.

Sweater parts for show and tell.  Kathy, who came from Brookville PA brought the delicious Easter eggs made by a candy company in her town.  To die for!!!


We met at Kathy's Kreations, a lovely knitting shop owned by Kathy Zimmerman, the designer of the Waltham sweater we are all working on.  I had not met Julie, Dottie and Kathy until now but had commented back and forth on her blog and Ravelry.  Kathy Z. was kind enough to sit down with us and have a discussion about what plus-sized women wanted and needed in knitwear patterns.  So many designers and pattern publishers only offer their patterns in S-M-L and are missing a huge (pun intended!) market by not offering plus sizes.

I was so busy talking and shopping and eating that I didn't take time to get out the camera.  I only got a few shots of the shop.  I will be returning and will do better the next time! 

And since I mentioned food, there is a delightful little deli next door where we had lunch.  The panini sandwiches were excellent.  They were so satisfying that we didn't even sample the gelatti!  For once, no pictures of the food!

All in all, it was a fun day.  I hope when we finish our sweaters we can get together again and model the sweaters.  By that time I will have decided which of my new patterns I would like to try next and will be ready to buy YARN!

The new patterns and books.  I'm doing my part to support the plus-size pattern industry by voting with my dollars!

Monday I spent most of the day sewing with Brad and Kami.  When I arrived home it was in the high 70's outside and Zip had opened several windows in the house.  The kitties were in HEAVEN!  Aaaah, smell that air!!!  I didn't get any pictures, but Penny's eyes were even bigger than usual and she had her little pink nose pressed right against the window screen. 

Deiter wasn't really impressed with the great outdoors.  He would rather lay on my shawl and sniff where I had been lately.

One of the signs of warmer days.  FLIES!!!  Izzy will protect us!

Today it's back to cool and dreary with rain.  The winter was dominated by cold.  Now spring seems to be dominated by rain!  But last week when I posted, the buds on the maple trees were only showing green tips.  Now they are blooming!

I'm going to try really hard to stay out from under the rock.