Thursday, June 27, 2019

I Like #120

Good morning everyone!  Welcome to another week of things to like.  It's been slow on the making front, although I did crochet, rip out, and recrochet 1.5 baby booties.  Hopefully I'll finish those by next week.

Over the weekend I visited my sister and her family and we had an absolute blast.  It was so wonderful to see her and Andrew and the kids.  We went water parking and played games and legos and magnatiles and looked for Waldo.  I took Bentley and Blue with me for the first time too.  Bentley has been down many times (back when Bullet was still with us), but I haven't taken them since I adopted Blue.  Becky has two dogs, about the same size as Bentley and Blue, and I figured they'd have a lot of fun, but it's always a bit stressful introducing new dogs. 

In any case, they did great and had a blast.  Even on the first night Blue and Becky's dog Auto were playing and rumpusing and have a grand time.  I was so pleased with how well they did together.  No fussing at all.  It's good because in just a couple of weeks I'm taking them with me when I go visit my folks in NM.

Becky has two sofas and the four dogs kept jumping up and down interchangeably trying to identify where they would get the most snuggles.  Even for a dog, the grass is always greener on the other couch?

We made lemon blueberry gelato for the adults (so delicious and tart), while the kids made vanilla m&m ice cream using the can rolling method.

Backy made us delicious pancakes with homemade whip cream and blueberry sauce.  

And on the way home, in spite of my best efforts, Blue fell down into the area behind the drivers seat. Don't worry, he was fine.

I remembered to take a snapshot from the street of my friend's fabulous haunted-looking house (same place as the pink coneflowers from last week)

And!!  My dahlias have their first buds!  Hopefully that means soon flowers rather than just plants.  Hooray!

I hope you are all having a good week!  Click over to LeeAnna's for more of the good stuff!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

I Like #119

I'm grateful to say it's been a fairly good week here.  We've still been having rain every single day, but it usually comes in the form of thunderstorms between 1-3AM.  Frequently this wakes me up, but does also mean that the days have been sunny and warm.  My plants are still a little too wet, but I think they're recuperating a little bit.  No pictures of my flowers, but the marigolds are looking great,  the zinnias and dahlia plants are still growing, the blackberries are ripening, and I planted some lantana in the bed where my other stuff didn't come up.  Not sure how that will do, that bed is very clay-y, and when I dug a hole there was standing water just a little way down. Yick.

So some things to like this week:

1.  Royal Ascot is this week! In spite of growing up in a horse racing town, I have less than zero interest in horses and horse racing. However, Ascot is the millinery highlight of the year and I love looking at all the hats.  They're like fascinating fiber sculptures which to me is really cool.  If you're interested, check out the blog Royal Hats, she covers the hats worn by royals, but also tons of other hats in the daily wrap-up posts and comments section. 

2.  I love the pups!  I took Blue to the dog park last night where he had lots of fun playing with all the other big dogs.  I'm taking him and Bentley to my sister's this weekend and I wanted Blue to have some other dog play time before that.  I didn't get any pictures, but it was fun.  There was also a smallish dog there playing with a soccer ball!  The ball was almost as big as she was, but she sort of dribbled it between her front legs.

3.  I had to go to a local work conference last week.  It was pretty boring, but they goody bag did have this tasty OK shaped chocolate which made me smile.

4. I went to pick up my friend on Saturday and was reminded how much I love his place.  He lives in a beautiful old house from the  1920s.  The inside is really lovely but the outside is fabulous.  Lots of wrought iron and beautiful trees.  It feels very much like a haunted house.  Sometime I'll take a picture where you can see the house, but I loved his sort of overgrown front walk (you don't enter that way) and the pretty pink flowers.

 5.  I made some progress on my Lord's Prayer quilt, doing some faux trapunto quilting.  I like doing it this way, you basically quilt just certain regions with batting but no backing, then cut it away and layer with another layer of batting and backing before quilting like normal.  Then last night made a test sandwich and evaluated some 12 and 30 weight threads I'm thinking of using for the quilting.

6. I remembered to post about all my recent knitting!  My Deco drape shawl came out well, and you can check it out here.

I hope everyone had a good week with mild weather!  Click over to LeeAnna's for more things to like!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Recent knitting: Deco Drape shawl and witchy socks

I've been doing a fair amount of knitting lately, there's something easy about just being able to sit down and pick something up and work on it.  Sometimes the activation energy to work on my quilts seems hard to overcome.  Or maybe I'm just a bit lazy :)  At the end of last year the LYS in Norman closed and I took advantage of their going out of business sale to snatch up some yarn.   By the time I got there, the color selection was sort of limited, but I found two skeins of this variegated bright pink-baby vomit green-brown, and a skein of sort of brown olive to go with it.  Unfortunately, I didn't remember to take a picture of the yarn label at the time.  I loved the pink, and the brown actually makes a fairly nice combo with it.  The yarn was pretty intense so I wanted a fairly easy pattern, and settled on the Stephen West Deco Drape shawl.  It was fun to knit, really easy (lots of just garter stitch along with slip stitch color work) so good for knitting while visiting with people.  I blocked it last weekend and finally remembered to take some pictures of it yesterday.  I haven't work it for a full day yet, it's fairly large and wool and after all this is June, but I really love the crescent shape.  I didn't really appreciate that that would be the shaping of the final piece but I find it really wraps well and doesn't fall off compared to some of my other triangular shawls.  I love Stephen West's designs and in future look forward to trying some of the more complicated patterns.

Of course Bentley had to help baste.  *sigh*

In addition to the shawl, I also recently finished a pair of knitted socks.  I didn't want to haul the shawl to Scotland, but I needed something to work on while traveling.  I started with this skein I got last year at the Kellyville Christmas in July fiber festival.  It was half black/half rainbow and was labeled Morandia's MB Fibers.  Unfortunately all I have is this terrible snapshot of the skein, but maybe you get the idea.  I used the heel-toe-then-open-up-the-leg method my friend Melody taught me, and knit both socks together on two circular needles. It worked fine, except I think my knitting must have severely loosened up since my last socks because they turned out fairly big and loose.  I shrunk them a little, but didn't want to felt them, so part of that I'll just live with.  Also, at some point I accidentally got them all knitted onto the wrong needles and had to untangle, and somehow that led to one of the toes being 90 degrees off!  Like a vertical toe instead of horizontal.  It was so so weird, and I thought I was going to have to re-knit the toe, but it turned out there was enough give in the socks to just twist it around.  I love the way they look- very witchy with the black and rainbow stripe.

I've got more knitting and crocheting projects going, some small and some large, so there'll be more updates as we go along.  Are you guys knitting or crocheting anything now?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

I Like #118

Welcome to another week of things to like!

1.  I like my blackberries!  I put netting over them this year (in a fairly haphazard manner), and I think it's going to work.  I have only two bushes but they have a nice amount of fruit on them.  I don't think it's enough to make jam or cobbler but definitely enough to eat and enjoy.  I went to a church party last night where we spent lots of time talking about how everyone nets their blackberries so I have some good ideas for next year!  Mine are mostly not ripe yet, but I picked (and ate!) the very first ripe one yesterday.

2. I like my flowers!  I planted marigolds and zinnias from seed this year and it's been so fun to watch them grow.  I assume there will be more blossoms as we go, but these are the first!  The marigolds are growing in old laundry detergent buckets, but hey- that's what I had!

3.  I like Magee!  Magee is an old (fairly sick) kitty I housesat for over the weekend.  He's not much for snuggles but he has a good strong loud meow, and likes to be scritched on the head and chin.  His people were worried about him eating, but he scarfed down tuna like mad.  My pups are fine; having lots of fun, but I just forgot to take any pictures of them this week.

4. I finally got to blog about the banner I finished for my sister;  I think it turned out lovely.  It feels very in keeping with my other illuminated mansucrtipt style pieces.  Check out the posts here and here.

5.  I did a lot of enjoyable knitting while housesitting and flying on my trip, so soon I hope to be able to share some of my recent knitting projects as soon as I get them blocked!  I've really been enjoying knitting lately.

I hope everyone has a good week!  Click over to LeeAnnas for more things to like!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

MES banner: Finished!

A couple of days ago I started sharing the story of the banner I recently finished for the Montessori elementary school my sister's kids went to.  Here's the finished piece, it has wire inserted into an extra channel on the back so that the top doesn't flop forward when it's hung from a banner pole (the round top edge was tricky to plan for).  I love the way it turned out-  I think the pitchers are my favorite, they're made out of a silk velvet I hand dyed a long time ago.   I also love the way the feathers fill out the edge, they look nicer than a lot of my feathers do!

MES Banner, c. Shannon Conley, 2019, Photo Mike Cox

The whole banner is very small, 30" x 20" because we wanted it to be easily carried by a kindergartner (or younger).  So when it came time to mount, I didn't want a giant heavy flagpole, and I thought it should be a little shorter than a traditional flagpole to so it didn't look so teeny on a giant pole.  Unfortunately, pre-made stands for skinnier poles are hard to come by (or really cheesy looking), so I bought a 3/4 inch dowel for the pole and made my own stand from some chunks of wood from Lowes.  It turned out light enough to carry and stable enough as well.

I finished it in time for each of the kindergartners to get to carry into chapel one week, and Alex carried it for Kindergarten graduation.  Apparently they all loved carrying it, and it's received positive reviews from adults at the church and school as well.  It was a lovely project to work on and I hope it proves meaningful to the school for many years in the future.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Banner for MES: New Quilt!

Several months ago (that's generous- I'm very behind on blogging) my sister commissioned me to make a banner to give as a gift to her son's Montessori pre-school.  Alex (my nephew) was in Kindergarten this past year and it was his last year at the school.  Because the school is associated with an Episcopal parish church, the kids go to chapel every week and she thought it would be nice to have a banner for them to carry in.  It has been a really great school for both Anna and Alex.

Around Thanksgiving, I went to the school and met with the school director.  She talked to me about the school and it's history (this was their 50th anniversary year) and approach.  I walked through all the classrooms and through the church sanctuary, and she let me take lots of pictures.  I wanted to design something that felt like it fit in with the ethos and vibe and aesthetic of the school. 

In touring around the school classrooms, I kept noticing this cross on in-classroom altars as well as the nifty liturgical calendar.  And the tree image (the picture on the right is a plaque in one of the rooms I think labeling the parts of the tree) made me think of growth and roots creating a strong foundation.

And within the church itself, I was really drawn to both the stained glass and their Stations of the Cross.  I thought the rounded, romanesque shape and almost icon-like style was very interesting.

One design struggle is that I wanted the banner to feel like a banner for the school (take a look here if you want to see them) admittedly a Christian school) as opposed to a church.  I've done enough religious/liturgical quilts that my design sense sort of falls back on that naturally.  After talking some more with my sister, I learned that a Montessori education has five different areas, Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Culture. 

I decided on a tree for the central imagery with one branch for each area, with the cross on the trunk and the liturgical calendar in the background.  The design mockup is below on the left.  The plant represents Culture (which includes science, botany, geography, etc.), The MES 50 represent language and mathematics, respectively and were chosen to honor the 50th anniversary of the school (which goes by MES).  The pitchers represent practical life, which includes things like food preparation, washing, manners, care of the environment etc.  Finally the binomial cube represents Sensorial.  The sensorial category is designed to help refine the senses and includes refining motor skills, developing coordination, and the ability to order and classify objects.  I suppose technically the binomial cube probably belongs to mathematics, but it's the most "Montessori" thing I remember from my years in Montessori school (which I loved) so I figured it'd be ok.

Unfortunately, once I finished piecing the border, I realized that it was backwards (you can see the backwards version in this picture) with the liturgical calendar rotating counter-clockwise.  I was super mad, but decided to save the first one and use it in one of my projects and piece on for the banner going the correct direction. 

This was the top all finished,  the trunk of the tree is some sort of thick fake suede, it has a really great texture (though my sewing machine DID NOT like quilting it).  The branches are two different  gold fabrics on top of a sequined gold mesh, so in person there's a nice amount of depth of color.  The border is pieced with a variety of different silks, polyesters, suedes, and velvets, including some hand-dyes, so it also has lots of sheen and depth in person.

I had the back printed at spoonflower, it has the school prayer, all the label information, the school logo, and handprints of the kindergarteners that are graduating and leaving the school this year.   It was nice to have all that on the back, but tricky to get it straight and centered on the back of the quilt prior to quilting/squaring up.

And unfortunately, I had one of these.  Alas.  I hate this-it seems to happen to me more often than not, the backing gets tucked up underneath and I wind up having to pick out a ton of quilting.  And this was miserable to pick out-  it was clear monofilament on the back on a shiny polyester which snagged terribly, and velvet on the front which was so deep you could hardly get down to the stitches.  Yuck!

Come back Wednesday and I'll share pictures of the finished quilt!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

I Like #117

Well!  I'm back!  For any of you following along, I was out for two weeks on a hiking touring trip to Scotland with a good friend from graduate school.  We hiked the West Highland Way which runs from Glasgow to Fort William- a hiking distance of 96 miles we spread over 8 days.  Each night we stayed in a different bed and breakfast along the way.  We really lucked out with only two really rainy days, one hiking and one later on the touring end of our trip, and all in all it was a wonderful experience with fabulous hiking.  Since getting back it's been work and catching up and a summertime cold, so all the things to like this week are from the trip!  I know other people's vacation photos aren't ever quite so much fun as one's own, so I've tried not to have too many!  It's also wonderful to be back though- I missed my pups, and my shower, and my mattress, and my washing machine.

The first hiking day through low hills and fields.  Lots of stone walls and sheep.  It was the perfect time to see lambs, tons of them-- so cute frolicking through the fields.  Playing and aggravating their mamas.

View of Loch Lomond from atop Conic Hill.

The wildflowers were just exquisite- all different kinds, but giant giant fields of blooming bluebells.  I've never seen fields of flowers in the mountains like this before.

For some reason this picture of my Grandpa with his pups accidentally got selected when I was uploading and I thought I'd leave it-  he's definitely awesome and a good thing to like. :)

These were someone's pet guinea pigs we met at a campground while hiking.  They were huge for guinea pigs.  Super cute.  Also there were tons of dogs hiking the WHW with their people, so fun to see them over and over.  All so well-behaved and friendly!

The yellow scotch broom or gorse or whatever you call it was in full bloom too and everywhere.  Such a strong bright yellow in the sort of muted tones of the Highlands.  Really remarkable.

These slugs were pretty common along the way and since they aren't the ones eating my dahlias at home (ARGHH) I was able to appreciate them.

Tons of ferns in the mountains in the Highlands.  So beautiful and different from dry western mountains in the US.

The sore feet statue at the end!  This was of course after we'd showered and recovered a bit.  The lady in red is Andrea, a friend we met up with along the way, almost every night.  Fun to have trail friends!

Then a visit to the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides.  We rented a car and driving it was very very stressful, but Mull was a beautiful island.  This is the town of Tobermory.

Then a day trip to the Isle of Staffa and the most amazing basalt columnar formations.  These are naturally occurring formations, but feel almost temple like in their shape and grandeur.  Really cool.

And a last short visit to the Treshnish Isles where there are billions of puffins and other see birds!  I have so many puffin pictures, it was hard to pick just one!

We also found a couple of good knitting shops in Edinburgh, so that was fun and crafty too.  I hope everyone had a good week here,  head over to Lee Anna's for more things to like!