Mystery Project

Dick is working on a present for me and won't tell me what it is. But he gives me little hints . . .

It started out looking like this -
And now it looks like this - Dick turned and shaped the wood block into a bowl, then inlaid turquoise along the wood's natural inclusions. I think it's stunningly beautiful - and he isn't anywhere near done yet. Stay tuned for more hints!

I forgot to show you what Gary gave me for Valentine's Day.
He made this in his floristry class, including tying the bow himself. Pretty nice, huh?


Princess Sunshine. Love them bunny slippers.

Be sure to check out Addy's Sweet-Sweet Family. Click here to make your own character. Wenona's going to make one. Anybody else? Email it to me & I'll post it on the blog. We can have our own Parade of Stars - M&M style.


Real FO's!

I finished two shawls over the last couple of days. They're the same pattern - I'm teaching this one at my favorite yarn shop in March - in different weight yarns. This one is Blue Sky Alpacas worsted weight Organic Cotton in 'Tomato'. Blue Sky Alpacas is fast becoming my all time favorite yarn company. Their alpaca/silk yarn is fabulous - great colors and incredibly soft. I haven't succumbed to the allure of their brushed suri yarn yet, but I can feel myself weakening. Soon, very soon . . . .

I'd planned to make only one sample shawl - until I saw this yarn.
This is the brand new Ty-Dy 100% cotton yarn from Knit One, Crochet Too in 'Magenta Moss'. (Check out 'Cafe Latte' in the link. I LOVE those colors.) It was love at first sight - or first touch. It's a DK (light worsted? I'm not sure what what the difference is) and I loved working with it. Great texture, not splitty, and worked up fast. My only complaint? I wish the colors were more random and not quite so stripey.

AJ made herself right at home, as usual.
She sees wet, pinned crochet and immediately thinks 'aha! a bed just for me!' Wish I could have gotten a picture of her 'attacking' the blocking wires. She entertained herself (and me) for quite awhile.


Glass FO's!

The slumped glass pieces Dick and I did turned out much better than we'd hoped. The glass tiles went from this . . . .

to this . . . .

Dick's leaves had more detail and (I think) turned out better than my dragonfly and flowers. But for a first effort, I'm very pleased with both.

The fused jewelry is just awesome (if I do say so myself.) I love how the dichroic glass melted and flowed into the different shapes. Dick did more grinding and polishing on his raw pieces than I did. I preferred to take random shapes, put them together and see how they turned out. A couple are headed for the scrap heap, but the rest are definitely usable.
To give you an idea of size, the square blue piece in the second row is about the size of a quarter. Next time, I'll try to use something in the photo for proportion.

Marie appropriated the necklace below and has been wearing it constantly. Dick and I plan to cut a groove around the edges of most of the other pieces so we use wire wrapping techniques to make necklaces and bracelets.

Hmmm, can anybody say "Christmas presents"?


Catching Up

The lack of sleep and the long plane ride finally caught up with me. I crashed about 8:30 last night and slept through until 10 this morning. And then took a 45 minute nap when Dick fell asleep reading the paper. Oh, the life of leisure!

Yesterday's guild speaker, Dr. Robert Liu of Ornament magazine, was very good. He showed the work of various contemporary glass bead artists from around the world. O.M.G. Amazingly gorgeous stuff. The afternoon workshop was making
glass beads at my favorite art glass store. Rave reviews from all the participants. I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped - the working distance turned out to be a visual never-never land for me; I couldn't get my eyes to focus on the bead. It was too close to wear my glasses and too far away to see without them. And moving closer to the torch wasn't really an option. Getting a pair of glasses just for beadmaking might be though. I'm giving it some serious thought . . . . .

We got to bring home the copper mandrill beads we made, but the others - like this barrel bead - are being annealed in the store's kiln. Photos on Tuesday after I pick them up.And remember how I said Dick and I didn't like the glass fusion class? That was before we picked up the finished kiln-baked pieces. A kiln is back on our wish-list. Photos tomorrow after I break into Marie's room to get the piece she's already wearing as a necklace.


I Have A Good Excuse . . .

for not blogging in sooooo long. Want to see it? Isn't she beautiful? I flew to Colorado on Friday so I could babysit my favorite granddaughter. Grandpa Jim, John's dad, usually watches Addy but he was on vacation this past week, which gave me a chance to grab some baby time. I couldn't get on the plane fast enough!
Denver's weather forecast for the weekend was mild, 50's during the day and high 30's at night. So imagine my surprise when about an hour into the flight we were rerouted to Las Vegas due to an ice storm in Denver. We were told the delay would be about an hour and we got to deplane. Twenty minutes later - after I'd lost my one dollar in the slot machines - they were chasing down the staff and passengers so we could get back in the air. It was another forty-five minutes before they finally found the last passenger. Not fun sitting in a small plane, with limited air circulation, for that long. Even less fun for the 6'5 guy crammed into the seat next to me.

The good thing about airports layovers and long plane rides is the chance to finish presents for babies.
These bibs are crocheted with cotton and took about an hour each to make. I also worked on a pair of baby booties, but ran out of yarn before I finished the toes. I think I have something in my stash that might match; otherwise, I'll be shopping for off-white sock yarn very shortly. (Kimberly, if you're reading this - do you have any more of the red, white & blue sock yarn I bought from you awhile back? I just need a few yards, if you happen to have some stashed away . . . . .)

So what did I do on my Colorado vacation? On Saturday, Rachel, her buddy Tania and I painted pottery. I'll tell more about that when I have photos of the finished pieces. (But it was fun, fun, fun! And there's an almost identical store in Ventura. Anybody want to go painting??)
And I held a sleeping baby. Addy will sleep for hours during the day, as long as someone is holding her. Lay her down and she's awake within 20 minutes. So, of course, Grandma HAD to hold her. She's pretty good about sleeping in her crib at night; she's still getting up about once a night. Poor John isn't getting much sleep.

And I helped her play with her favorite toy.
Grandpa Jim gave Addy this Leap Frog chair. She loves it. She puts so much energy into trying to touch the swinging toys - which makes music play - that after about 30 minutes, she's exhausted. The first couple of days, Addy was using mostly her left hand to grab the toys. But then she figured out that she had two hands - and the fun was really on. It was hilarious watching how excited she got.

And laughed at her when she got the sneezes (bad grandma.)
Addy is so good natured, always smiling and making happy noises. And I got to hear her very first laugh while I was there! Rachel got her laughing so hard, poor Addy got the hiccups. And yes, we laughed at her then too.

The only time she fussed? When we took her out to Joann's for beads and yarn. She's not crazy about the car seat.
Or maybe it's all the bundling she has to endure when it's 36 degrees out. She looked cute, but she was not happy.

Oh! and I fixed Rachel's busted computer. It's been awhile since I reformatted a hard drive, so I was a tad nervous about it. But Grandma Tech Support rules! Be sure to check out the baby pictures of Addy, Rachel and John. I thought Addy had John's eyes. Guess again . . . .

So what did Dick do while I was out having fun? Worked on the house, of course. We now have the first section of tile in the hallway.
The main section of the house has the light brown porcelain tile throughout. Between each room, we're putting different borders to add visual interest. I love the rain forest marble that separates the sitting room from the hall.


This One's MINE

I talked Dick into giving me my Valentine's present at 12:05 a.m. (Hey, it was officially Valentine's Day at midnight. I think I showed remarkable restraint by waiting a whole five minutes.) I knew he'd been working on something, but didn't know exactly what. This . . .
is elephant ivory (pre-ban), ebony, and padauk. Isn't it gorgeous?? I can't believe how tiny the hook looks and how carefully he had to work to get the point exactly right. The good news is that he has more ivory - both elephant and walrus - and plans to make more hooks with ivory. But this one is all mine!


Hooks and Socks And Friends, Oh My!

This is the first 'real' crochet hook (not a prototype) that Dick has finished. It's bubinga, ivory, and ebony. The handle is a little shorter than I like - the next batch will be slightly longer - but Sharon said it fit perfectly in her hand, so it went home with her. Dick has about 10 more handles done, just waiting for him to carve the hooks. Zebrawood, canarywood, tulipwood, bubinga, cocobolo . . . . not sure what others he's done. They look beautiful and the balance is fantastic. (Can you tell that I love them?)

The last part of the sock class was tonight. I was hoping we'd get through the gusset and foot, and at least start the shaping for the toe. That was a little optimistic. The heel turn and gusset took awhile to explain - those 10 rows are the hardest part of the project - but everyone made it through. And the socks all fit! I love all the different colors and types of yarn that were used. Custom-made, custom-sized socks, as promised. Everyone promised to finish both socks and bring them in for me to admire. Can't wait to see them!

Vickie, Wenona, Ellen and I try to get together once a month to craft. We don't always make the 30-day interval; in fact, it's been about six months since we last met. But yesterday we were finally able to mesh our schedules and hang out for the day at Ellen's. Vickie's lockerhooking a rug with fabric left over from her quilting days; Wenona was crocheting the Martha Stewart 'Coming Home' poncho; Ellen was crocheting a prayer shawl; and I worked on a demo sock for tonight's class and got pointers on finishing my knit scarf. It was a wonderful day. Thanks, guys!


Glass Fusion

Part of my birthday present was a glass fusion class at my favorite art glass store - and yesterday was class day. Dick and I were two of five students for the three hour hands-on class.

I love fused glass, especially the clear glass tiles imprinted with shapes. Turns out that's the easiest one to do. You cut foam (not asbestos - we asked) into various shapes using stencils
and then place a glass tile on top of the foam. Bake in the kiln and voila, the glass slumps around the foam, creating shapes. We'll see the results some time next week. It takes hours to cook these things, between taking the temperature up gradually to over 1400 degrees, holding it during the 'bake', and then bringing it back down. No instant gratification here.

Next up were sun catchers. Method one was to draw a design (with a scrapbooking stencil - yeh! something to do with all those old templates I have stashed somewhere), create a dam around the design using good old white glue, then fill it in with glass frit.
Method two was the one Dick used - cut glass shapes and lay them on the round glass. When they are kiln baked, the frit and cut glass melt, forming the design. (The bottom glass has a higher COE - are you impressed with the technical terms? - or melting temperature, so it retains its shape while the other glass melts.) That's the theory, anyway; we'll see these results next week too. The last part of the class was jewelry making with various types of glass, including dichroic. Dichroic is so pretty, I just took a piece, topped it with clear glass cut into the same shape, and called it done. We also sandwiched different glass types, shapes, and colors between two pieces of clear glass. When cooked, the layers fuse together in unpredictable colors and shapes. So, have we added glass fusion to our growing list of hobbies? Probably not. With flamework, like glass blowing and bead making (that class is later this month), you get to immediately see your results and can make changes to get the effect you want. Fusion requires patience and lots of time. Neither one of us is all that excited about it.

Remember the knitted scarf?
Frogged the whole thing and redid it on larger needles. It's much more flexible now, much nicer. AND I figured out how to fix a mistake I found a few rows back, then get going again. Thanks to this site. Love it!