kitty companiona

kitty companiona

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Little Bit of Winter

On Saturday when I got up about 6 a.m., this was the scene outside my kitchen window.
Finally some snow!

When it got to be daylight, we had several inches of white.  Enough to make it feel like we were really in the midst of winter.

But now, a week later, the snow is all gone and it has been raining for the past two days.  I guess we can be thankful for the mild temperatures since we have gone through most of the winter so far only having to use our wood stove.  A good thing because the price of heating oil is outrageous.

In the morning when I wake up I head first to the kitchen for coffee and then sit down at the computer.  Yesterday I had dire error messages on the screen about failed attempts to download upgrades and that I was unable to connect to the internet.  The little box that houses the electronics to my high-speed connecting had all four of it's little lights on (good sign) so I think, 'Oh no! My crappy old puter is going to die!!!'

How did I ever get so attached to this darned machine???
I remember the first one I bought, way back about 20 years ago.  It was a black and white screen and worked on the dreaded MSDOS.  I took computer programming courses at our local college to learn to use the thing.  I wanted it as a supposedly quicker and more professional way to print up charts for the needlework samplers I was selling at the time.  I could have done it faster by hand!

I don't know if there was such a thing as the Internet then.  Mine certainly didn't have it!  It was mostly used by business people for spreadsheets and word processing and a few puny games.  But somehow, I haven't been without one since those times.  I can't even imagine not having this interactive connection to the rest of the world.  I could do without a TV,  but not a computer.

Anyhow, I found out later in the day that it was my service provider that was on the blink, so no new computer yet.  Thank goodness!

I've been having a little vacation from sewing.  Brad and Kami are off at a week-long re-enactment, so I have been goofing off.  Zip and I have been feeding their cats, but are otherwise unencumbered.

The knitting is progressing on the test knitting of Julie Matthews (Knitting at Large) Carnation vest.  Since I took this picture, I've gotten twice this much done.

With the heavier bulky yarn, its harder on my hands and shoulders.  It does knit up quickly.  I will definitely have it done to wear this spring.

My doll is also coming along nicely (I told you I have been playing!)
(copyrighted by Dixie Redmond, Izannah Walker inspired doll)
She is looking like a very proper 19th century little miss, which is the whole idea.  Somehow when I sculpted her head i have her looking slightly to the side.  I'm telling myself that this is not a mistake, it just adds to her demure look!

I didn't get to finish her hair because I didn't have the right paint color.  It's hard to choose from the acrylic paints based on those little color circles on top of the bottle.  She will be given an 'antique' finish and then a sealer of some kind to be determined later.

I love the way the boots turned out.

These are the fabrics that I plan to use for her dresses.

The light one with the tan stripes will be her dress for good and the other will be the everyday dress.
I think they would be most authentic looking sewn by hand.  Can I still do that adequately?  The old fingers aren't as nimble as they once were.

Hope all of you are having a great week.
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blogger Blues!

This is my 200th post and I'm celebrating with WHINE!

A while back when Blogger changed over to the 'new and improved' format, some parts of the features no longer worked right on my computer.  I switched my browser to Google Chrome even though I was perfectly happy with Internet Explorer.  But the switch solved most of the problems with Blogger.

Then recently the picture loading feature went wonky.  I would load my pictures in preparation for inserting them at the appropriate spot, and when I clicked back to the picture loading box, they had all disappeared.  In the past week, this was miraculously fixed.

Now, the worst torture yet!
I tried to leave comments on several blogs (notably crafty-cats-corner and Orange Sink) and wasn't able to do the word verification entry necessary for submitting a comment.
My comment comes up in a preview box and I can just see the very tops of the word verification letters, but can not scroll down far enough to see the whole thing and type in the letters.

I know my puter is getting old, as in every year of a human life is like 25 years in computer life.  Mine is now about 250 years old.  So the problem may be my outdated equipment.
But still, I'm frustrated!!!

So if I haven't left a comment lately, it's not because I don't want to!
Please know that I am reading your blogs and thinking of you.
And wondering if a new computer would really fix the problem our would I get the whole thing set up and encounter the same darned thing!?

Julia (Of Petals and Wool) directed me to the slider bar that's farther to the right that brings the word verification up where it can be seen.  Sometimes my impatience with things technoligical gives me tunnel vision and this seems to be the case here!
Maybe I'm getting too old for this!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where Does the Time Go???

It's hard to believe that January is half over already.
Wasn't it just New Year's Day not to long ago???

Since the holidays are over, I feel so much better.  My positive outlook on life has returned and the winter depression has lifted.  Maybe from now on I should say I suffer mainly from the Family Obligation and Expectation Depression with the all expense paid guilt trip thrown in!
Next year I will be making it perfectly clear well in advance that there will be no participation on my part in any holiday celebrations.  None what-so-ever!

So on to January and a new creative energy boost.

I think in my last post I mentioned that I would be a test knitter for a vest pattern designed by Julie at Knitting at Large.  There have been a few glitches in the pattern so that is on hold for the moment.  Isabell was looking forward to this project.  She had taken the yarn into her own paws and was ready to help.

But now we have to wait!
In the meantime, I'll be starting on a sweater for my Mom that will be a smaller version of the a-line cardigan with the collar that I made for myself.

Not to worry, there are other fun things that Izzy can help with.  Like helping me finish up stuffing the bunnies.  Would you believe there isn't a scrap of poly stuffing anywhere in the house when I really need it.  But this bag of washed wool fleece will work just as well.  I had cleaned this wool many years ago and must have been a little too vigorous because it's slightly felted in some places.  Not good for spinning, but makes fine stuffing.  And cat beds.

The finished bunnies.

I've been working on my Izannah Walker inspired doll using the Dixie Redmond instructions.
The basic body is cloth and the head and shoulder plate is then covered and sculpted of paper clay.  

I have never used this product before, but am finding it easy to work with.  It dries nicely without cracks.
My helpers are nearby as usual.  Several times this morning Isobell has emptied my plastic water container onto the floor and Penny likes to chew the bristles of the paint brushes.

I've drawn on the outline of the hair and features just for reference.  It still needs several coats of paint.

I'm certainly no sculptor, but this  is fun.  I'm pleased with the results so far.  Brad and Kami and I went to Needle and Thread near Gettysburg several days ago and I purchased two Civil War era reproduction fabrics to make dresses.  By my next post I'm hoping to be ready to start the clothing.

And yes, I've been getting out of the house!  Horay!  Even on some of the coldest days of the month so far, I've been out doing errands and taking small trips.

Last week my friend Marian and I went on an international grocery excursion to Frederick, Maryland.  And would you believe I didn't take any pictures!  I guess the moment just swept every thought of the camera out of my head.  Any way, we had fun visiting two Indian groceries and a Mexican bakery, all of which were along Route 40 west of Frederick.  Then we went back to Hagerstown and ate at an Indian restaurant (I think it was called Sitar) that's in the shopping complex across from the Valley Mall.

It was an excellent day!  I came home exhausted.  It's been a while since I've worn myself out having fun spending the day with a friend.  Thanks, Marian!!!

Goodies from the bakery.  The layered pastry with cream filling at the top right was soooo yummy.

I just couldn't resist these tiny eggplants at the Indian grocery.  

I thought they were baby eggplants, but when I cut them open, they had fully developed seeds.  Must be a miniature variety.  The green vegetable is a bottle gourd.  I stir fried the veggies and the gourd was very much like zucchini but it wasn't as watery and didn't get mushy when cooked.  Maybe we'll try some in the garden this year.

Hope the year is off to a good start for all of you.
My only regret is...   Please, don't shoot me!!!  We haven't had any yet....
Maybe we could have just one nice wintry snow storm so we don't forget what time of year it is.
I love sitting inside warming my hands with a cup of  hot chocolate and some wooly craft work in progress watching the snow fall!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Oh, What a Night!

We had a delightful New Year's Eve.

Zip and I have never been big celebrants of N-Y-E.  We are stay home and have a nice dinner and watch TV types.  Who wants to be on the road after midnight???
Then about ten years ago, our friends Chuck and Willa asked us if we would go out to eat with them.  Of course we said YES!  We went to a local Japanese restaurant.  It was fun and somehow sushi seemed just the thing for the celebration.  So after that we went every year, sometimes with their children and ours joining the fun.

Afterward there was the option of going downtown in Shippensburg and watching the anchor drop.  SHIP-ensburg.  Far from the ocean and certainly not named for the nautical, but I guess you have to drop something.  Being a farming community, I would have suggested a cow (not a real one, of course!  I'm an animal lover!) but it would be more interesting than an anchor.
Well, there is no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks  that this woman would be caught downtown after dark anyhow.  Not in winter, not in the cold, not after 8 p.m.  No amount of music and dancing in the streets and fireworks could make me do that!

Chuck and Willa have since moved to Missouri, and last night we expecially missed them.

But not to be dismayed, we went to a new Japanese and Thai restaurant with Brad and Kami.
The food was delicious!!!  We had such a wonderful time that I forgot to take pictures until the meal was half over.  Not cool showing partially eaten food!  I had the least disturbed plate so will show it

This is Chicken Pattaya, with fresh pineapple, green peppers, mango and onion in a hot sweet chili mango sauce.  Yummy!  Isn't the flower made from daikon radish pretty?.

We all shared a scrumptious smoked salmon and mango sushi roll.

Before Kami and Brad met, she had never eaten Oriental or Mexican food.  In the four years they have been together, she's become quite adventurous.  I guess you have to be to go out to dinner with us.
We ended the meal by sharing an order of fried banana topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
We all had plenty of food left to bring home and enjoy again today.

Willa and Chuck, I wish you could have been here with us!

                                      *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

With my sweater knitting finished, it was time to do the blocking, the part I HATE most about making a sweater.  I've been stewing over this for a week, dreading this crummy chore.  Then I had an idea.  One that would hopefully be fast and easy and not require a zillion pins and those darn blocking wires.  A method I could use and not need a large uncluttered space which is very hard to find in my junky messy house.

I had Zip go to Lowes and get me a piece of 1/2-inch foam insulation board and on it I drew a full-sized schematic of the sweater body.   I made two separate sleeves, leaving enough excess so they could butt together at the center front.  I cut all these out..

I soaked and spun dry my sweater and 'dressed' the Maxi-Me cut-out, sticking the arms in last and securing it all with t-pins.  As an afterthought, I added a twisted coat hanger so I could hang it from the rafters near the woodstove to speed the drying.  The only extra pinning needed was down the front band to keep it straight.  Voila!!!  Sweater blocking made easy and reusable!

My yarn for the next project came yesterday.  I will be test knitting a vest that Julie Matthews of Knitting at Large (check my sidebar) has designed and will be offering as a pattern on Ravelry.
I am so excited to have been chosen to do the test knit!  Pictures of the yarn will be in my next post.

Speaking of which, my camera seems to be out of adjustment lately.  Without the flash everything seems to be too dark and then when I use the flash, everything is too bright and washed out.  Guess the instruction book will have to come out of hiding.

And....Blogger seems to be having a brain furt again.  I load pictures and then they disappear before I'm able to add them.  So I've been loading them one at a time as needed. Is anyone else having this problem???

Hope your year is off to a great start!
Happy 2012., everyone!!!