Friday, November 28, 2008

A Whole Lot of Embellishing Going On

I am still in the process of making Laura's Chocolate Truffle Socks, which is a great design, and are coming along, but I've felt scattered and having my Knitter's Attention Deficit Disorder.

What has been drawing my attention is my fascination with embellishing my knitted items with embroidery. I mentioned this earlier, a couple of posts ago, but the fascination continues!

I made a pair of Cupcake Fingerless Mitts by Karen Neal (works at The Studio). She designed the mitts in both adult and children's sizes. They are called "Cupcake" mitts because you knit the mitts up plain, like a cake, and then you decorate the "cake" with yarn "icing" (embroidery). For this pair, I embroidered a paisley design on each mitt. I LOVE paisley. The knitting part is fast and easy - the embroidering took a bit longer, but very enjoyable and helped me renew an old forgotten skill.

This partiular pair is a gift to my Mom. I think I'll also make a pair for myself and predict they will go faster. It's hard to see in the photo, but the little tiny circle of silver on them are two tiny word plates, the left glove ways "wish" and the right says "believe." I bought those little word plates at Michaels. Yarn used is Nashua's "Julia." I love that yarn, the colors are great, and the yarn has a bit of mohair in it to add just a slight halo.

I had fun making these . . . and now I'm at work on yet ANOTHER embellishing project that I'll be showing you very shortly.

People must be doing a lot of crafting (more than in usual Christmas times) BECAUSE, while the regular shopping malls and stores in my area have not been very crowded, the craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby, not to mention the local yarn stores, have seemed EXTREMELY busy. More so than usual Christas times that I've noticed. I think with the weak economy, people must be focusing less on buying expensive gifts and more on making meaningful, more personal gifts.

My goal is to do more charity knitting in 2009. I know, I said that last year, but this year, I really mean it. I'm going to try to do one charity project per month. Even if it's just a plain hat or scarf, doing a little bit of embroidery on it, especially for kids, would make it more unique, don't you think?

Retreat Plans in the Making

One thing I've always tried to do is to plan things in advance that will bring future happiness. It's a way of investing in yourself, and it pays off BIG in terms of life satisfaction.

Two years ago, I attended The Studio's Winter Retreat at the historic Elms Hotel and thoroughly enjoyed it. My Mom, Laura and Carol all went along. I skipped last year, because of a personal budget crunch. This year, I just decided "I'm going!" and I am indeed making plans now. Registration complete.

The retreat will, once again, be held the last week of January. I don't know which is more thrilling, anticipating it for the next two months, or actually going! I thoroughly savor pleasant experiences - and this one will indeed be one to cherish.

The Studio really spoils and pampers their customers. I must say, it is and remains my favorite yarn store because they treat customers like gold. They flat out know what we like! What better gift than totally immersing yourself in a 120 year old resort hotel and doing nothing but eating (delicious food), knitting, talking, gabbing with your friends in front of a comfy fire in a luxurious lobby? Or getting spa treatments? Or doing early morning yoga? All of this is part of the package. It's a 2 night sleepover with your knitting buds. There is also a Studio Market and several classes to choose from. And it's affordable and FUN.

Now who all is joining me? Huh? Don't miss out. You can go to this link and read more about it. Be sure and let me know if you are attending.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always my favorite holiday of the year. I love the food, the family and friends joining together, the pure gratitude and sense of appreciation it inspires and renews within me. And I love having 2 extra days off to enjoy the biggest luxury of all - time spent with loved ones without obligation, in a relaxed fashion. There's no gift giving or "musts" involved at all - it's simply time spent with those you love most. There's even time for a post-holiday meal nap if you feel like it.

Unlike most Thanksgivings of the past, we won't be going to my grandmother's small apartment to celebrate Thanksgiving. She's in a nursing home now and we just finished the final steps of dismanting her apartment last weekend. Instead, we'll be having a small (very small) Thanksgiving celebration here at home this year with just myself, Bob, Emily and Kegan. I'll be cooking and taking a plate to my grandmother at the nursing home. So our Thanksgiving will be quiet and simple.

Have a lovely, peaceful day and I'm grateful to each of you who have touched my life, either in "real life" or through this blog. Thank you for reading throughout the year.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Baskets Galore

It's been a crazy week, trying to get my body back in the right time zone, getting back to work, catching up on errands and playing post-vacation catch-up. But I decided to take a break from the everyday routine by visiting my knitting group today. That was really fun seeing everybody and spending a couple of hours chatting and knitting.

While I was there at Borders, I stopped in to visit Michael's craft store - it was SWAMPED today with busy Christmas shoppers. While there, I noticed that they had 40% off on all wicker baskets. And guess what? I've been really wanting to buy wicker baskets. Not only do I love them, but it makes selecting yarn for projects much easier and more decorative when you leave your knitting sitting out in the living room or by your bed, etc. So I bought several.

I've been in a real mood to embellish the knitted items I make with embroidery. I've always LOVED embroidery. As a teenager, my favorite pair of jeans was a pair that I had embroidered slogans and designs all over and wore until they were threadbare. I really wish I'd kept that darn pair of jeans instead of getting rid of them when the knees wore out.

But I've been listening to my favorite podcast, Stitch-It, and Meghan, the podcast host, has been talking all about her friend and SOARS roommate, Cosy, who wrote Knit One, Embellish Too by Cosette Cornelius-Bates. It focuses on knitting and embroidering hats, mittens and scarves. She has some GREAT ideas on how to make really cute, small projects "pop" with the right little designs and embellishments. I'm getting a real kick out of experimenting with Karen Neal's Cupcake Fingerless gloves and adding my stitching over the knitting. The class I took on it last Sunday was really fun and it got me enthused about embroidering EVERYTHING. Well, not everything, but you get the idea. Yeah.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's So Good to Be Home

That old expression, "There's no place like home" has special meaning for me this morning. We've been on vacation in Los Angeles and San Diego for a week and just returned late last night. It was a wonderfully relaxing week and was just the vacation we needed as a family. We went from temps in the high 80's out in Southern California and plunged back to the cold wintry weather of KC, but I couldn't be happier to be back.

We were visiting relatives in both cities - some cousins in LA and a niece and her young daughter in San Diego. We had a simply fabulous time. We were constantly on the go, and ate out most of the time, so I've gained even more weight than I started with, but I'll just have to work on it - otherwise I'll have to go on a full-blown shopping spree at Lane Bryant's and I'd rather not do that.

Anyway, back to the trip - I knit a little bit, but surprisingly, not as much as you'd think, instead I've been reading a fascinating novel called "Middlesex." The plot and main character sounds bizarre from reading the description on Amazon, but it really is an absorbing read.

I did knit one pair of Karen's Cupcake Fingerless Gloves and I'm going to take an embroidery refresher from her this afternoon over at The Studio to do some embellishments on these gloves. I think they're really cute and will post a photo later today or tomorrow, after I've unpacked and done some catching up with errands here on the homefront. But if you're looking for some quick holiday gifts, these gloves would be a good choice because they knit up fast and easy. She has a pattern for both adult and children's sizes.

Believe it or not, while gone, I did not visit a single yarn shop. I had sort of planned on it, but knowing that there's more than enough yarn at home, and our suitcases were already bursting, it curbed my yarn cravings. Stopping at yarn shops just seemed like a waste of precious time, especially when we were trying to do some many fun activities all in one trip.

Some of the highlights were: eating at all the best deli's in LA, watching the movie THE CHANGELING at a theatre in Burbank, shopping with my daughter in several of the little shops on Melrose, going in a charming little vintage shop called Hidden Treasures, going to San Diego's Sea World, visiting the spooky Queen Mary ship, idling around Balboa Park, spending time with Jamie and Katelyn at their ranch and seeing her realize her dream of living on a horse ranch. Spending time on the beach - it was cold, but fun to walk along LaJolla's beach front and get our feet wet in the sand/incoming tide.

The people in California were so nice to us! We met so many friendly and hospitable people. Of course, the driving out there is crazy to me, but luckily Bob drove, and that's the one time I knit, to keep my hands busy and my eyes off the road because it was nerve wracking. But other than that, yeah, the people were extremely nice and helpful, even though we were typical tourists, they welcomed us and it was a blast to be there.

Unfortunately, as we drove back up to LA and spent the night in a hotel in the San Fernando Valley, we woke up with the smell of smoke and it was "snowing" the ash from the huge fires that are going on out there. The hotel where we were staying was 20 miles away from the fire, but they lost power for a while and had been incoming residents who were fleeing their homes. We talked to a few of them as we were checking out and heading to the airport on Saturday morning. This fire is really tragic and sad for those suffering through it. It seems trite to say, "my prayers are with them" but it's really true.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes We Can! (And Did)

After a late night of celebration last night, I can say, "Yes We Can!" As a nation, we did it.

My Mom arrived at the polls at 5:30 A.M. to vote, and so did we - the line was so long that I had to turn around, leave the poll, go to work and then come back later in the day to finally cast my vote at around 4:00 p.m. but it was SO worth it. Emily's boyfriend voted for the first time ever, and was very excited about it.

This makes me feel hopeful, which I haven't felt in way too long. What really excites me about this new President-elect is that he doesn't have the idea that he'll go it alone - I really believe he WILL be a uniter in every sense of the word, and that he'll use his network of supporters to get to work and have all of us contributing. When he said that he will be everyone's President, even those who didn't vote for him, and that he'll listen ESPECIALLY to those with whom he disagrees, that is such a turnaround from the present administration that it felt like a breath of fresh air had been brought into the White House. The fact that the vote isn't our only contribution - but is only the beginning of the work we have to do is exciting. Involving the American people in the work is a great way to get us all involved and bring us together on a common goal - at least that's what I think through my rose-colored glasses this morning.

As far as results go, in my own state of Missouri, we have a sqeaker - it was 49% to 49% but McCain had about 6,000 extra popular votes - so admittedly, he narrowly took our state.

Now I am determined to be a gracious winner and to be respectful of those I know who are disappointed this morning. I remember how sore I felt "the day after" every time we've lost in the past.

I am also going to start thinking about how I can help in some way - get involved in my community to volunteer or do something productive so it doesn't just stop with the vote.