Thursday, January 31, 2019

I Like #100

It's been a fairly quiet week here which is good.  Pretty chilly, but not nearly as cold as people are having in the northern part of the midwest so I feel pretty lucky!

It was another week where I didn't take many pictures, but there are plenty of things to like anyway.

1.  I love bag making.  You'd think I'd have enough bags by now (and who are we kidding, I probably do), but I wanted a medium size bag with a pocket but not too stiff and bulky for my current knitting project.  I pulled out this home-dec weight pink fabric with sailboats and lined it with some leftover pretty vinyl.  I wanted something from which my yarn would pull easily, and something with a large pocket so that all the miscellany (scissors, needles, etc.) wouldn't be stuck with the yarn.  It was a fun quick make.

2.  I love my pups!  They've mostly been snuggling with me on the sofa, though Blue and I are still practicing our obedience tasks.  He's a big dork.  Unfortunately Bentley had another one of his neurological episodes this morning which is always scare for him and me, but he was better by the time I left for work.  It's been several months since he had one though, so that's good.

3.  I love going to the symphony!  My friend Melody and I went this weekend, and it was lovely.  A really nice mix of old and newer music.  I especially enjoyed a very atmospheric Brian Eno piece and watching the orchestra members play Mozart's Jupiter Symphony.  For that piece, they had no chairs (except the cellists), and it was quite different to watch them all play the whole thing standing up.  Their movements were quite interesting.  The conductor didn't have any music  or music stand for that piece and a couple times I thought he was going to whack into the cellists.

Just a short list for this week, but I hope all is well and everyone is staying warm!  Click on over to LeeAnna's to see everyone else's lists!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

I Like #99

Welcome to another week of I likes!

There were several good things this week to celebrate.

1.  Getting to spend a good amount of time quilting!!  This was really exciting for me.  I spent all of December knitting and then the holidays traveling, so it was wonderful to get back in my studio and quilt.  Of course it was for a January 31st deadline, and of course both my main sewing machines broke, but I borrowed two sewing machines from a friend (thanks Melody!) that were also Janome's so I was able to quilt and use my same feet and bobbins and everything.  Here's a sneak peak of what I've been working on.  It's a quilt about invasive species and their dastardly effects on our native habitats.  More on it to come!

2. Getting a bit caught up on blogging!  I got to blog about two projects I finished late last year, one was a mini-quilt that was a gift for a cousin and one was the knitted shawl I made for Becky for Christmas.  I think they both turned out nice, so check out those posts!

3.  Working with Blue!  We had our first dog training lesson and it went great.  Unfortunately for us, the instructor had a baby earlier this week so we won't have any more lessons for a little while, but we've been practicing.  It's been fun working with him, especially now that we sometimes have a little light in the morning.

4. I don't usually talk about things from work here, but we had a really cool thing this week.  We've been working for over a year to get some modifications done to our microscope to enable us to image the blood vessels inside the living mouse brain and we finally got it done this week.  One of the things my lab studies is how changes in blood vessels contribute to cognitive decline and mobility defects in the elderly, and it's been really important to get this technology in place so we can study how the vessels are changing in real-time.  This picture shows blood vessels in the brain of one of our anesthetized study animals.  This one was a control, but now we can start studying the mice that model human aging.  I'm super excited.

5.  Reusing things I already had!  I didn't used to sit in this part of the living room (it was where Mike usually sat), but over the fall, I sat there quite a bit to knit.  Unfortunately it was really really dark and I kept thinking I needed to buy a floor lamp since there's no room for an end table.  But the area is really congested already and I hated to buy something new, so my sister just suggested I reorganize and put a regular lamp there instead in the built-in.  I did that right after the break (just took out a shelf and moved it to the other bookcase) and it's so much better!  I can't believe it took this many years to think to do that!  I'm not much of a house re-organizer, so this felt like a big yet stupidly simple change.

In the first pic you can kind of get an idea of how it used to be and the second one is the new illuminated version!  Still not super bright, but enough light over the chair to knit!

Hope you're all having a great week!  Click on over to LeeAnna's to see more things to like!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Knitted Shawl

I started the Butterfly Papillon Shawl on our Thanksgiving trip to Florida, and it was fairly slow going at first.  My mom and I were working on it together but even though it was garter stitch, the pattern is created using short rows which I'd never done before.  We both ripped out a lot before I finally figured out how the pattern was supposed to fit together.  The pattern is really well written,  all difficulties were just due to my inexperience as a knitter, and I'd definitely recommend it.

It was to be a Christmas gift for my sister and after spending two full days on the way to Florida knitting in the car (this pic was after the first day of knitting) I realized I'd have to step it up a bit if I was to finish in time for Christmas.

I spent most of December knitting feverishly, and of course the rows got faster as I figured out what I was doing then slowed way back down as the whole thing got very large.  I did finish, almost at the last minute, and my kind friend Melody lent me her blocking mats and nice blocking wires so none of my stitches got spread out.  

It was a bit dark here because it was still wet.  It finished 72 inches wide by about 40 inches long.

I think it turned out beautifully, I had Mike take some pictures of me in it before I wrapped it up for Becky.  And then she got to wear it sooner than we thought when a New Year's Eve wedding in Tucson turned cold and rainy.  She said it was very warm (the yarn is superwash wool) and it draped beautifully.  I loved knitting it, and may make another one for me, but I'm taking a bit of a break from knitting for a little while I think!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

I Like #98

Welcome to another list of positive things to like!

1.  I like wrapping up Christmas!  I got all the decorations down inside and boxed up, but I'll probably leave the outside lights up until the end of the month (I love them so much)! And I did one last easy Christmas craft;  This clear Mickey Mouse ornament came with Mickey Mouse socks in it as a Christmas present, and I added a picture from this year's sledding and ribbon before packing it away with the rest of the christmas decorations.

2. Whole coconuts!  I don't particularly like these, but a week or so ago I was desperately looking for whole brown coconuts.  There were some Monty Python jokes in our 12th Night Feast skits that required the pages to come in on "horses" clopping coconuts a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I searched everywhere for coconuts or even pretend coconuts or coconut bikini tops anything to have something for them to use as props.  I went to party stores, halloween costume stores, and grocery stores.  Then I started calling grocery stores, walmarts, crests, organic grocery stores like sprouts and whole foods, trader joes, I even called the Vietnamese grocery store.  No one had whole brown coconuts.  The one place I didn't even think of calling?  The Mexican grocery store.  So of course when I went in there to get hominy last week (after the 12th night feast)- what did I see?  Whole coconuts of course.... 

3.  Pretty pink sunrises in the backyard!

4. The monsters being sweet and weird!  Blue and I had our first obedience training class last night.  It was fun and we have lots of homework to practice.  The teacher is having a baby imminently, so I'm not sure when the next one will be, but we had a good first lesson.

5.  Musicals!  I haven't seen the new Mary Poppins yet but I hope to soon, my mom really enjoyed it.  But I came across this fabulous video of Emily Blunt, Lin Manuel Miranda and James Corden doing 22 musicals in 12 minutes.  It was super fun, definitely worth the watch if you like musicals!  If the video didn't embed right you can see it here.

I hope there have been positive things for you this week!  Check out everybody's posts over at LeeAnna's!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Last Quilt Finish of 2018

This December one of my cousins (here using cousin in the sense of someone-related-to-you-by-a-mechanism-too-complicated-to-explain) celebrated her 80th birthday.  They had a big party for her in New Mexico, but since we were going out for Christmas just a couple weeks later, I couldn't make it for the party too.  She's a quilter and someone interested in native plants, so I thought I'd make her this little mini-quilt to have as a wall-hanging or table mat.  It was a fun weekend project and gave me a short break from all my knitting!

Happy Birthday Helgi!  May you have many wonderful years of quilting ahead!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I Like #97

I missed two weeks of I Like posts as a result of traveling for the holidays!  Now I have three weeks of wonderfulness to catch up on, but will try to limit myself so as not to overwhelm everyone.

The number one thing I loved during these three weeks was getting to spend such a great long time with my family.  I spent Christmas with my sister and her family in Dallas where I got to join in in one of her Christmas Eve traditions, going to the Zoo, followed by the wonderful Christmas pageant (my niece was an angel and my nephew a wayward sheep), followed by a lovely Christmas service.

One of these giraffes was missing teeth or something so his giant tongue always stayed flopped out!

Then Christmas morning Santa came and visited the kids and we played lots of games and saw Becky's family and then started the caravan trip to my parents. It started snowing immediately upon our arrival at my parents and continued on and off for three days culminating with about 11 inches of snow.  It meant less access to other family there (though we did get to see almost everyone eventually), but it meant really wonderful days of playing board and card games, as well as tons of fabulous sledding and snowman building.  Unspeakably wonderful, and strongly reminiscent of childhood Christmases.

Great sledding hill at my parent's.  The dogs loved playing with us.

Then after that, we all caravaned along to Tucson for a wonderful family wedding (congrats Queston and Mandy), complete with some hiking (I love love love the Sonoran desert), and a visit to the desert museum.  Unfortunately along the way, my dad had a blowout on his 5th wheel so we had to stop on the side of the freeway while he changed it.  My mom and I got her dogs out of the car and walked them along the railway easement.  The trains were pretty loud and we stayed out of their way!

The train was very loud and three trains came by in the hour and a half we spent there.  

My mom snuggling with her two brown dogs on the couch in the trailer.

Upon my return I was reunited with my precious doggos, but we had a snow/ice storm here.  It made for a little bit of prettiness and a bunch of annoying slippery roads as we all went back to work, and ten tons of mud in the house.  This was followed immediately by our biennial 12th night feast at church.  I've been in charge of it for several years and it is a TON of work, but as always we had a blast at the actual event.  Lots of singing and laughing and funny skits and great food and wine.

Icy branches in OKC at work.

Mike sent me this picture of Blue while I was gone to remind me I missed them (I hadn't forgotten!).

Cast and court for our 12th night feast!

And now, finally this week I feel like life is finally easing back into routine.  I find myself thankful for the every-day, for going home at the end of the day with only a normal sized to-do list and not a psychotic pre-holiday to-do list.  I am so very very grateful for all the wonderful time with my family, and am looking forward to a productive and creative 2019.  Here's to positivity for all of you and best wishes!  Linking up with LeeAnna!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Christmas Crafts 2018

Once again I'm sharing some fun Christmas-Crafty goodness from this year.

As usual I made some Christmas ornaments for my friends and family.  I make different ornaments each year, and this year I mostly followed this great tutorial to make these star ornaments.  I put photos in many of mine and changed the sizes around, but otherwise followed the tutorial pretty closely.  The ornaments were pretty easy,  this could easily be a kid project if your kids are craft-inclined. I made some smaller ones and some larger ones with photos.

I also made two additional lightbulb wreaths.  I used all the large C9 bulbs on my big 24" wreath, but I had a bunch of medium sized C7 bulbs too.  I used those to make small 8" wreaths for my mom and sister.  It was the year of hot glue!  They turned out really cute and the small ones are easier to handle than the large one (which is so big and fragile I'm constantly worried about it smashing to bits).

My last fun Christmas craft this year was actually brought by Santa!  I spent Christmas at my sister's, and though Santa filled up our stockings, the mouse king stole them away and hid them.  We had to follow clues left with her nutcrackers in order to rescue the stockings, but first we had to build an army of toy soldiers out of clothespins to help us conquer the mouse king.  Luckily Santa left us a bunch of materials and an example toy soldier so we were able to make an army and rescue the presents.  No one should be shocked to know that my toy soldier is the one with pink pants.

I hope you all had lovely holidays!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018 Wrap-Up

2018 was a busy year on the art front, in which I simultaneously feel like I made a bunch of work, and also that I spent the last several months being strikingly unproductive.  Year-end round-ups usually make me feel a bit better though so here we go.

Art Quilts
I made quite a few art quilts this year in the push to get ready for the show at the Capitol, but there were also a few not part of that show.   I'm struggling now getting going with a new body of work.

On Bromeliad

A is for Art


High Desert Garden
Tesseract #1

Tesseract #2

Bentley the Rainbow Dog

 Other Quilts
I also made a few other quilts; a couple of baby quilts and some swaps.

Yarn-y Stuff
This was a fairly good year for me on the crochet/knitting front too.  I made a neon crochet shawl and then picked back up knitting after a decade long break to knit a pair of socks and a beautiful shawl for my sister.

Of course there were other things too.  Crafts, clothes, costumes, and bags, but I can't share everything.  I'm not sure what my art goals are for 2019.  2018 was so full of work towards a single goal, that I want to try some more variety of things in 2019.  We're having the big capitol show again in 2020, so I'll have to gear up with work for that, but I also want to work on other projects and ongoing series.  Here's to a productive and creative 2019 for everyone!