Sunday, January 25, 2009

Keeping Busy

I had a lot of fun making this row house for a new challenge at Club Posh. We were given a size range, not hard-and-fast size rules like for Artist Trading Cards. My row house is 2.5" x 4". The theme was flowers, and we were supposed to name our houses. Mine is called the House of Posh Blessings. Of course, all stamps are by Dee Gruenig.

I went into town today to return the leftover fuzz from Liat's scarf (two unused balls). I bought a skein of yarn, at Liat's request, for a friend of hers who wants to learn to knit. And then I saw this yarn, and figured one or both of my girls would love the color. They only had these two skeins, so I ordered three more. I have a feeling I will need even more, because they both like it and want sweaters from it. I have been trying to knit from my stash, but I just don't have enough of anything to knit either of them a whole sweater. And while I would really rather not knit with 100% acrylic anymore, this shop doesn't carry much of anything else and the prices, as compared to yarn in the U.S., are unbeatable. These 100 gram skeins have over 200 yards of yarn and cost me somewhere around $2.50 each. Plus, I didn't have to pay for shipping. I guess I will splurge on wool on our next trip to the U.S.

Today we continued to work on one of the large translation projects we received last week. It's pretty technical, and the Hebrew is convoluted enough to lead me to believe it was written by a lawyer, so the going is slow. It's for a new client, and we really want to do an outstanding job.

I found a few minutes to do some cross stitching today on Fred (Frederick the Literate), which was fun. It was lovely sitting by the open window, in the mild winter sunshine with a cool breeze wafting in. Unfortunately, our weather is much more spring-like than wintry, and we are not getting the rain we so desperately need. But I am trying to enjoy the pleasure to be found in what we do have.

I've accomplished a fair amount on Liat's cabled bolero, and really must take a progress photo for you soon. The Peruvian Highland yarn I am using (from Elann) is soft and lovely, and the pattern is just challenging enough to keep me on my toes without overwhelming me. My Better Than Vanilla sock is growing and the pattern is as much fun as I'd remembered from the last time I made these socks. And the yarn is just yummy, an Opal Magic in minty green. I've done a little more on my sister's wristwarmers, but my sweater hasn't been out of the closet in a while. Maybe later this week...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bet You Thought I Forgot

Okay, it's understandable. I haven't blogged about cross stitching in a long time. I also haven't done much cross stitching in a long time. But my friend Tama is currently working on a project I also happen to have in my unfinished objects (UFO) drawer, and she has inspired me to pull it out. I first started working on "Frederick the Literate" a long time ago, in a stitch along with some friends on the cross stitching board. Their Freds are long since finished, framed and hung - most likely in a place of honor. Mine, meanwhile, languishes in the abovementioned drawer. But Tama has encouraged and inspired me, so I pulled Fred out today and took a photo before getting back to work on him. I haven't done much, mind you. We're very busy with translation work and I've got stuff coming up next week that needs to be dealt with, so I really only put in a few minutes' work today. But after I've done more, I will post a progress photo.

Of course, I still haven't worked on Mother's Arms in a long time... In fact, I have at least three works in progress (WIPs) - sounds better than UFOs, doesn't it? - that need attention. But just because I'm not stitching doesn't mean I don't think about these projects, not to mention all the other gorgeous charts I purchased because I absolutely knew I must make them! It's the same malady no matter what the medium; whether you're a knitter, stamper, stitcher or whatever.

The other thing I got done today (aside from translation work, of which we suddenly have an abundance) is to finish up these toddler-sized socks, made from Knit Picks Simple Stripe yarn leftover from a pair of socks I made for my mother-in-law quite a while ago. I have since cast on for a pair of Better than Vanilla socks for me, using Opal Magic yarn given to me by the pattern designer, the incomparable Judy Sumner. What a wonderful lady! It is thanks to her that I knit socks at all, and I had the great pleasure of lunching with her and spending some time in the yarn shop where she teaches and assists knitters. She gifted me with some lovely yarn while we were together, and I immediately knew I would knit it up in one of her many fabulous patterns. I very much enjoyed making the Better Than Vanilla socks for my niece several months ago, so I decided to make a pair for myself.

Tomorrow will be spent (at least partially) working. Luckily, the three projects that came in this week are not rush jobs, but we will do our best to get them done as quickly as possible, since next week is rather full.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Right on Time

A few days ago I went through the pain and trauma of blocking, then sewing together Meital's Starsky Jr. sweater. Here you can see it pinned out on the floor. I used steam from my iron to block it. Not that it did much good; Plymouth Encore yarn is something like 75% acrylic, 25% wool. Still, at least I felt like I went the extra mile. This is the first time I've ever blocked a sweater, and I rather hope it will be the last! The two front pieces are not pinned out in the correct positions relative to one another, in case you're trying to puzzle out how it all comes together.

The day before yesterday I knit on the collar/button bands, and today I wove in the last ends of yarn and sewed on the buttons. It fits Meital perfectly! Except for the sleeves, which are longer than we wanted. But that's what folded cuffs are for, right?

You can't see the leaf pattern too well in these photos (nighttime photos are never as good as daytime), so be sure to look at the pattern photos at the link above to see the design. I made a bunch of mistakes here and there (a purl stitch where there should be a knit stitch) throughout the sweater, and of course didn't notice until the pieces were all done. I hope I can be more careful with my next project, a cabled bolero for Liat, which I started today.

I am very happy to have finished up Meital's sweater today so she can wear it to school tomorrow (no uniforms required on Fridays).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Heart of Gold

There's a stamping challenge going on at Club Posh right now. Stamp something with a heart on it. Easy, and perfect for getting a head start on those valentines. The only catch: the heart can't be any shade of pink or red. I started thinking about all of my wonderful, caring friends, and the idea for this card evolved from there. My biggest problem now will be deciding which friend should get the card. I may have to make a few more!

This card has quite a story behind it! I started with a tan colored card. Stamped the saying ("It's all about the Journey and the friends you make along the way") all over the back with Versamark ink. Now, the idea with Versamark ink is that although it is clear, it leaves a nice image that will be slightly darker than the original color of the cardstock. The other thing about this ink is that it is very thick and slow drying, so it is perfect for heat embossing. When I stamped the card, I hadn't planned on embossing the background image (the saying). But when I went to stamp another saying at the bottom of the card, the Versamark wasn't dry enough yet, so it grabbed hold of the clear embossing powder, too! No problem, I'll just emboss everthing, I thought. Well. You could hardly read the saying I'd wanted emphasized at the bottom. So, I restamped the saying on black cardstock, and just covered up the earlier attempt. The saying at the bottom, and the heart, were stamped using a gold Cat's Eye ink pad, and covered with clear embossing powder. I have been struggling all day, trying to figure out a combination that would give me a brighter gold than what I usually get when I stamp with gold ink and emboss with gold powder. Liat suggested clear powder over the gold ink, and that's what gave me the best result. Thank goodness she was hanging out with me in my stamping room, instead of working on her English project upstairs! All stamps, of course, are by Dee Gruenig.

Lest you think that all I did today was get gold ink all over my hands and clothes (though you know that happened!), we went to Jerusalem today, and of course that means knitting in the car. I had originally thought to work on my sister's wristwarmers, but in order to do that I would have needed to bring along a book and a notebook (where all my notes are for increases, etc) and I just didn't want to hassle with it. Instead, I finished the first baby sock and got mostly done with the leg of the second sock. I have a huge ziplock bag full of yarn leftover from socks made over the last year or two, and I really want to convert all of that to baby and toddler sized socks, to either give to family, donate, or save for the future.

I am nearly done with the sleeve caps on Meital's Starsky Jr. cardigan. I hope to get those done tonight, then block all the pieces (back, both fronts and both sleeves) tomorrow. I just couldn't manage to get them done before we went out today, and I'd rather tackle the blocking in the morning. Maybe while that's drying, I will swatch for the bolero I am going to knit for Liat. Fun stuff!

I hope you're all keeping warm! Please send us some precipitation, if you have any to spare...

Friday, January 16, 2009


Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
William Arthur Ward

I finally got around to taking photos of the cards I have been working on lately. In the first photo are three cards stamping on glossy cardstock using Dee Gruenig stamps and (mostly) Marvy Uchida inks. On the fish card, I took a piece of plastic mesh I'd saved from a bag of potatoes and sponged through it using Distress Ink (Broken China) and a wedge-shaped makeup sponge. I love the way it came out sort of wavy instead of perfectly straight. Of course, I hadn't planned it that way!

In the photo above are two more cards using Dee Gruenig stamps. The southwestern card was done on glossy cardstock (I trimmed about 1.25" off the edge so that the "Gracias" on the inside of the card shows when the card is closed). In the arctic themed card, the igloo, person and sun were stamped on glossy paper and added to patterned cardstock. The snow was cut from a piece of soft fluffy paper that someone gave me a very long time ago, and I'd never used! The border at the bottom with the snowflakes was inked with Radiant Pearls paints and embossed using clear embossing powder.

And finally, this card has a dark blue, matte cardstock base. On that is a piece of glossy cardstock that I colored using Adirondack Alcohol Inks. I bought those back in October and hadn't really used them yet. In an effort to start using more supplies (before they dry up or spoil in some other way), I am going to make more of an effort to use all those things I just had to have but have never (or barely ever) used. The background was done with the colors Wild Plum and Stream. The trim and snail were done on cardstock colored with Wild Plum and Butterscotch inks. I had fun and am pleased with the results, but I want to keep playing with these inks and see what other kinds of looks I can achieve.

I started out making thank you cards because the girls and I have people to thank for Chanukah gifts. I realized, though, that I want to make as many more cards as I can, because it turns out I have a lot of people I am very grateful to have in my life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

They Really Work

For the past two days, when the chill in our house turns my fingers to ice cubes, I have put on the simple pair of wristwarmers I knit for myself in 2004 out of very plain 100% acrylic yarn, and my hands - including fingers! - have warmed up completely. Now, these wristwarmers are so simple that not only are there no finger stubs to warm my individual fingers, but there isn't even a thumb gusset to warm up my thumb! Yet, within ten minutes of putting on these wristwarmers, my ice cube hands are cozy and warm. The power of knitted items should never be underestimated.

Above is a photo of the first in a pair of wristwarmers, or fingerless gloves/mitts if you prefer, that I started yesterday for my sister. Someone asked if this is the sister for whom I made the 50 birthday cards last year, the one who sent me the gorgeous cross stitch picture and Never Not Knitting calendar. Yes, I have only the one. And with a sister like that, why would I need another? She is wonderful. And so is this Schaefer Anne yarn (merino wool, mohair, and nylon). I am using the same make-it-up-as-I-go pattern I used for my niece Kim's fingerless gloves last month.

It makes me feel good to know that their hands will be warm because I love to knit!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This and That

Above is a card design called an "explosion" card (there are several types). It folds up to about 4" square, but expands when open - as you can see. I learned how to make this type of explosion card on Club Posh. I get so many great ideas, and so much help, from the folks there! This card will be going out to a very special Poshie friend who reads this blog...Can you guess who??

With the exception of the small snowflake next to the words Thank You (covering up a boo boo, thankyouverymuch), all images are by Posh Impressions, um I mean Dee Gruenig Signature Designs. I covered up some green cardstock that had been dry embossed in a Cuttlebug machine with white acrylic paint and a light coating of Glitz Spritz (see yesterday's post for the link if you would like more details). I tried to make the whole thing as glittery and shimmery as possible.

I played around with some other stuff in my stamping room, and hope to have more cards to show you soon.

I also finished a scarf for Liat today. I really don't enjoy knitting with this 100% polyester eyelash "yarn." In fact, I have come to detest it! The only thing that kept me going was knowing how much Liat loves scarves made with this yarn. I have now made three scarves from this stuff for Liat, and one for a friend of hers (which was carried along with a more normal yarn and so wasn't quite so annoying to knit). I have also used it as trim on mittens, and quite possibly in other circumstances that I am supressing for the good of my mental health. In any event, I purchased two skeins too many of this stuff last week, and instead of stashing the remainder, I am going to return it. Who knows, I may even buy something else while I'm in the shop!

Now that the scarf is done, I have three projects on the needles: the Starsky Jr. cardigan for Meital (back and both fronts done, sleeves done nearly to the shaping at the top), a top-down pullover for me, and a baby sock for... well, let's call it the baby gift stash. That means that I am, to my way of thinking at least, free to cast on another project. Yay! I will show you in the next post what that will be. It's gonna be good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stamping Again!

It's been such fun getting inky in my stamping room again! I have made three thank you cards, with a fourth nearly finished. And I made the card you see above, which I sent to my parents in honor of their upcoming 52nd anniversary. A stamping friend sent me the image, so I don't know which company makes the stamp. It was embossed, so it was very easy to paint it to add color. I used my small supply of Radiant Pearls, which for those who don't know is a thick, very shimmery paint that dries by being absorbed into the paper (so in other words, it doesn't ever dry on certain types of glossy paper, unless you emboss it by coating it with embossing powder and heating the powder to seal in the paint in a raised, shiny surface). Sadly, they don't make Radiant Pearls anymore. I have no idea if there is something else out there that replaces it. There is something called Twinkling H2Os that is also very shimmery, but it comes in a hard cake form and must be activated with water.

Anyway! Under the central image is a piece of what was tan colored cardstock. I sprayed it with Adirondack Color Wash in Butterscotch, then with Moon Shadow Mist and finally with Glitz Spritz (also from that link - Lindy's Stamp Gang). Once all that was dry, I stamped a Dee Gruenig Signature Designs leaf image, inking it with more Radiant Pearls paint. So much fun! I love to layer all those different colors and sprays and see what happens. Only drawback: it took quite a while to dry. The dark green cardstock is years old, probably not made anymore, by Keeping Memories Alive. You see? I'm using up all my old scrapbooking papers on cards these days!

The thank you cards I've made are very different from this one, and I hope to share them with you soon. I also hope I will have more cards done by tomorrow! Today went by quickly, as I spent a fair amount of it outside the house - very rare for me. Liat had the day off from school, so I took her into downtown Netanya to check out the beading supplies at a crafting store I know. Unfortunately, she didn't find everything she wanted, though she did bring home a few things, mostly beads. I can certainly understand the concept of "a beader can never have too many beads!" I bought a piece of gold dry embossed cardstock which I think will make a nice layering piece for cards, and a meter of black fabric with gold stars, which I hope to use as a lining for another jeans purse (this one in black denim).

Later, Avi and I drove into Tel Aviv to deliver the scarf and Fetching mitts to the lovely recipients at Assuta Hospital. I hope they like them! I feel so much better knowing those have finally made it into the hands of those for whom I made them (how's that for a convoluted sentence?! Sheesh!).

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Photo Op

I used to be a nigh-fanatical scrapbooker, snapping hundreds of pcitures of my girls every month. I would spend hours planning and executing a lavish 2-page layout of one particular moment in a day. I have numerous scrapbooks stuffed with great snaps, funny stories, and wonderful memories. But after awhile, it all got too overwhelming. I tried to figure out how many albums each of the girls would have by the time they hit 18. It would have been something like 15. Each.

Now I rarely get opportunities to take pictures of the girls. One near-craved-in-stone tradition is the first day of school photo. A close second is the post-haircut photo. Yesterday, Liat and Meital got their hair cut and blown dry, and I got my first pictures of them together since September 2008.

Meanwhile, all the "unscrapped" years that have gone by are weighing on my conscience. I keep meaning to go back and get those photos into albums, but the hobby has lost its joy for me. Now, it's more like a chore. Most likely, once I got started and saw all those pictures again, I would enjoy the process, but I know that all the little details and stories that should go with the photos are lost by now. It makes me sad to think I let it happen.

I think several factors contributed to my loss of pleasure in scrapping. We switched to digital photos, and while it is great to print out only what I need in the size I want, I don't usually like the way the photos look printed out, even on special photo paper. Also, when Liat hit her teens she began to actively shy away from the camera for the first time. If you have to nag, threaten or beg, the pictures just aren't going to be as good. And third, the scrapbook industry and the on-line communities I had been a part of changed. It seemed to me the focus was 95% on products: who had the latest gadget and what could they do with it. Layouts became, in my opinion, more about the artistry of the scrapbooker, and less about the people (or places) in the photos.

But I started keeping scrapbooks when I was about Liat's age, so more than likely I will get back to it again one day. I just need to find the enthusiasm for it again first.

Monday, January 5, 2009


When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves -
Welcome wool sweaters.

B. Cybrill

Today I had the house to myself for several hours, and in an unusual turn of events, I felt rather lonely. Usually I relish the time alone, but today I wanted everyone to hurry back.

While they were gone, I baked a cake and knit. Not too shabby.

I am into the decreases on the right front of Meital's cardigan, which means it won't be long before I am casting on for the sleeves. I'm looking forward to being done with the complex cable pattern that adorns the front and back of the sweater. I think it will be a great looking sweater, but I'm just a little tired of cabling on every row of a 12 row repeat.

On one of my knitting lists, people are talking about dedicating January to knitting things for themselves. Nothing at all wrong with that. They started out calling it "Selfish" Knitting. I can see where that came from; most knitters I know knit at least 90% of the time for others (family, friends and charity), and to them, it feels selfish in some ways to want to devote a large portion of their time knitting something for themselves. I think it would be wonderful if everyone who longed to make something for themselves would do so. I hope they will!

Another person pointed out that even if she gives away everything she makes, the actual knitting is something she does for her own enjoyment, so in a way everything she knits is for herself. I have mentioned before feeling this way myself.

In other words, it's all good.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Forever Friend

A sister is a forever friend.
Author unknown

Today a package arrived from my sister. It contained gifts for all of us, including the two you see above (for me!). Of course I was delighted to get the Yarn Harlot's calendar. And the fact that my non-knitter sister sent it to me shows how she pays attention and cares. The cross stitched picture is even more beautiful than it looks in the photo, but more important than that, it is something my sister made for me. She is always busy, and I have not known her to pick up a needle in a very long time, so I am humbled and honored that she would put in the time and care and love to make this for me. I will always treasure it.

I know if I have it framed and put under glass, it will be protected and stay clean. But what I long to do is make this into a pillow that I can hug close to my heart. And I have a feeling that is exactly what I am going to do.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Still Quoting

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

In the photo above you can see the Fetching wristwarmers (as modeled by Liat) and one of the two thank you cards I prepared. I used two different templates to make the Hebrew letters, then colored them in with Radiant Pearls paint. The heart in the center is a rubber stamp, which I inked with gold pigment ink and embossed with gold embossing powder. I'm pleased with the results, but I do want to find a more yellow gold embossing powder one of these days. This one looks almost brass colored to me.

The words say, "Todah" - "Thank you" - and "m'kol ha lev" - "from all the heart" - but of course the intention is, "with all my heart."

I think that pretty well sums it up.

Now, to wrap the gifts, write messages in the cards, and deliver them.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Getting Even?

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. ~John E. Southard

Recently, I was shown kindness by several people whom I had never met before. I have learned many things from Alison, and so I am making a couple of gifts that I hope to deliver to those people. They helped me, and touched my heart, and I want to be sure they know that I appreciate that, and them.

Above is the Heart scarf (pattern on for Dalia. I am working on Fetching wristwarmers (also a Knitty pattern) for Edna. Thank you cards are made, but not written in yet. I hope to finish all these things up by Sunday.

I've also been working on Meital's Starsky Jr. sweater (yet another Knitty pattern. Hmmm, I sense a trend...). I finished up the left front and started the right front this afternoon. Feels good to be making progress on that.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.

Edgar Guest

Lots going on in the new year, but I want to wish all of you a year filled with smiles, hugs, friendship, good health, joy and love.