Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Goin' On?

Yet another song reference... Can't think of anything better, unfortunately. Here is the baby cardigan I showed you before, all done except for the buttons. I used some of the yarn Meital swore she absolutely had to have when we were in a fabulous yarn shop in Oklahoma City in 2007. She graciously allowed me to use her yarn to make this sweater, and I promised her I would save it for if/when she has a baby. I will wait until that happy day before finishing the sweater by adding buttons.

I have also finished the first of my pair of socks, and hope to share a photo soon. I cast on but haven't started knitting the second sock. I got sidetracked between Meital's English homework, a burst pipe in the girls' bathroom, and making tomato sauce for tonight's dinner.

Yes, my life is glamorous and full of non-stop excitement. Thanks for noticing!

Other recent activity includes working on Meital's Starsky Jr. sweater and a bit on my top-down raglan sweater.

Aside from all that, I am busy working on the editing and translating of a special project for Maccabi Tel Aviv. I also write/translate for their website (I know you remember!).

I also made approximately 1,702 chocolate chip cookies yesterday...some of which I gave to Meital's friends, who were over to work on a project for school. Most of the rest will be handed out to the girls' friends at school.

What I really need to do is start thinking about stamping up some holiday cards. I have a couple of ideas, now I just need to find the time to settle down in my stamping room and see if they work or not.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Special Visitors

I had to smile when I read Alison's post on Thursday. The timing was just perfect. Because today, we were honored to have two very special guests in our home, cousins Birgit (above) and Ruth (below). Birgit and Ruth, who are sisters, are visiting in Israel from Sweden. And they are my father's second cousins.

I think I am the first in my family to meet these two delightful ladies. We had such a wonderful time, talking and laughing together. I had prepared a list of questions (yeah, that's the way I am), but as it turned out, I somehow or other already had the answers to most of them in my files. Clearly, I didn't prepare enough beforehand. But I learned a bit more about this branch of the family. More important, we met two truly wonderful people and had a terrific time together.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Feeling Papa Maxish

My maternal grandfather, Max Kameny (shown here with my grandmother in a photo from the mid-1970s), was a wonderful man, playful and generous, smart and opinionated, and always sure he was right. He also loved to fix things himself. Sometimes he was more successful than other times, but he always tried his best and had the best of intentions.

So today, when I finally got around to yet another home improvement project I've been meaning to accomplish, I thought of my Papa Max. I think he would be proud, not only of my efforts but of the fact that I didn't have to buy anything in order to complete it!

We've had our dining room set (purchased at Scandinavian Design or some such place) for about 19 years. As you can see, the chair seats were not only showing their age, they were in the process of spilling their guts and dying a painful, highly visible death (the dining area can be seen from our living room, so trying to feed guests from the coffee table wouldn't have helped avoid the shame and embarrassment).

After spending a great deal of time thinking about buying fabric to recover the chairs, consulting friends and relatives about the appropriate place to locate such cloth, and agonizing over the fact that I had not yet actually acquired anything, I finally decided to see whether the fabric I bought for a large-scale cross stitching project about 10 years ago (possibly more) might not fit the bill. It did, and it didn't. I feel (and luckily for me, Avi agrees) that this fabric is perfect, and I wouldn't have found anything better had I indeed gone shopping. However, I only had enough cloth to cover the seats of four chairs (of a set of eight). Once again luckily for me, only four chairs were in a state that absolutely demanded instant action.

Avi is so pleased with the results, he has asked me to go back to the same store (my lucky streak continues, because I remember exactly where I got this fabric) and get enough to cover the remaining seats, plus all the chair backs (they don't actually need it, but like me he is a proponent of the old matchy-matchy). I rather doubt my luck will extend to the store having the identical fabric in stock after all this time, but that's out of my hands.

That's not all I did today! I knitted a bit, worked in the garden, translated yet another article for the basketball team's website, changed all the sheets and did laundry. Right now I'm relaxing in front of the computer with a lovely glass of Shiraz Cabernet, and hoping all of you are having a fun and productive day, too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Today was rather a boring day, spent doing such stimulating things as mending ripped pockets and giving the bags I've made for Liat a going over (reinforce felted strap on Doll Bag, remove players no longer with the team from her Maccabi bag). I also did laundry and ironing.

What? You're still awake?

I did finish up the Jean Greenhowe puppy for Meital, but will wait to introduce him to you until he has his "accessories" - a bone and water bowl, of course! I also worked a smidgeon on my current sock. And I worked in the garden.

An althogether thrilling and blog-worthy day, no?



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reveal and Repurpose

Hello everyone! Just crawling out of the bag of chocolates where I've been hiding to say, yes I'm still alive. Now that my niece has had her birthday (and has opened her gifts) I can finally reveal the things I made for her. Above is a fun gadget called a Stitch a Mug. The plastic mug and liner pop apart and you can add a decorated insert. It comes with a precut piece of plastic cross stitch canvas, which is what I used. I changed the colors in the design of an augury that I found in one of my many cross stitch booklets so that it would have teal, which is my niece's favorite color. Her initials are on the other side.

Then I decided that she also really, really needed a piece of birthday cake! This was quick and easy to knit up. The only change I made (if I remember correctly, since it's been a month!) is that instead of knitting a candle out of I-cord, I knit a thin strip and sewed it around a cut-down drinking straw (a la Jean Greenhowe, who is absolutely the cleverest toy knitter out there, as far as I know).

Another something I did a while ago was search out a way to reuse the clear plastic caps that come with the current favorite ice cream treat here at Bag of Chocolates.

I came up with a sort of mini-shrine idea. I had seen something done with a tuna can at Ten Two Studios, and had - once upon a dream - saved a washed and scrubbed tuna can for transforming into a shrine. Never happened. I ended up tossing out the can. But for some reason this tiny little cap seemed to work for me. I also use some of these for paint palettes for those liquid acrylic craft paints, but I've already got a million things that work for those. In any event, I backed the cap with a circle of leftover painted and stamped cardstock that I'd saved for oh, about forever, from another project. Glued in the lovely lady (who was missing half of her face for some reason - she came that way) from Collage Stuff. Glued part of a fish tail from an advertising circular for a pet shop over the flat part of her face. Added sand from our local beach and shells that were originally on a necklace that no one ever wanted to wear. The little pearl-like beads were part of a piece of costume jewelry that (do you detect a theme here?) no one wanted to wear. The ship's wheel charm also came from Collage Stuff.

I have a feeling I could have a lot of fun with these, once I get back to them. Meanwhile, I've got a bunch of Halloween cards that really need to go in the mail, birthday cards to make, and a second something or other to come up with for my niece (she of the knee socks) for her upcoming birthday. I hope to have some finished things to show you soon: I have one sleeve left to knit on the baby cardigan, am sewing up the Jean Greenhowe puppy for Meital, and have some super-cool socks on the needles (for me!), as well as the 17.33 other projects in the works. Time to come out of hibernation and get busy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Dancin'

Oh, yeah. I am SO happy to be finished with these knee socks for my niece! They really are the same length, they just don't look that way in this photo.

Here is a close up of the increases for the calf. Quite a long time ago I posted about how ugly my increases were turning out, and how I ripped back and started them again. I am so glad I did.

Interesting facts about these socks (well, they're interesting to me, anyway!):

* I used three 50 gram skeins of Regia Nation Colors yarn, and about one third of a fourth skein.
* Also used an undetermined amount of plain blue Opal yarn for the heels and ribbing.
* I started the first sock on June 5, 2008, originally working from a pattern which quickly revealed itself to be less than useless. I then spent quite a few weeks avoiding the sock, doing the math for the sock, avoiding the sock some more, avoiding the math, redoing the math, avoiding the sock, and so on. And on.
* Finally finished the first sock on September 28.
* Started the second sock on September 28.
* Finished the second sock on October 15.

Now, if that's not pathetic, I don't know what is. I had the first sock on the needles for 16 and a half weeks. Once I had finally figured out all the math and realized I didn't need to fear the sock, I was able to start and complete the second sock in 2 and a half weeks!

Oh well.

Once I had finished the socks, I took the photos then ran through the house, waving them in the air and shouting, "They're done! They're done!" If you don't believe me, ask Avi's friend in Sweden, with whom he was chatting (and using his webcam) when I rushed into the room.

Then, do you know what I did?

Yep. I cast on for a new pair of socks! For me this time, cuff down and fairly standard, except they call for stranded color work, which should be fun and only mildly challenging (remember the Doll Bag?).

Then later on, I did something I've never done in the 2+ years I've been knitting socks. I cast on for a different pair of socks. Plain 2 x 2 ribbing. For Avi, for Chanukah. He will see me working on my socks, and I will only work on his when I know he won't see them. So I've got stealth knitting and camouflage knitting going on at the same time.

Pretty cool.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tag and Pocket

I've been up to all sorts of things, and here is a glimpse at some of it. Above is a pocket and tag set; I copied the idea from a thread on Club Posh. Since the pockets are not yet available for sale, I tried creating my own. All stamps by Dee Gruenig, images colored with Marvy markers.

Here I did a more vintage version. I am so in love with my Distress Inks by Ranger, I just had to use them! The original is more yellow/orange than it appears here. Again, all images by Dee Gruenig, and available at Sunday International, on the fabulous EZ Mount.

I've made a few other things lately, but I'm less pleased with them. I do like the background I made here. I sprayed watercolor paper with water, then with Adirondack Color Wash, then smooshed a piece of plastic wrap on top and let it dry. Love the cool effect, which is why I didn't go to too much trouble covering it all up. Can you guess what the message inside says?

I've also been hard at work on the knee sock, and have finished the calf increases. Now I am going to start decreasing toward the knee, then all that will be left is the ribbed area at the top and the afterthought heel! Tomorrow, we're going to Jerusalem, which of course means lots of sock knitting time, and no stamping time.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spinning my Wheels

I spent most of the day in my stamping room, and the only thing I have to show you is something I finished yesterday! I'm nearly done with a few things that I worked on today, but one I want to submit to a magazine, and the others... Well, I'm not happy with them yet. Plus they're not really finished. Even if I hate them I will probably post them for your reviews next time.

The piece above is something I made in response to a challenge on the Ranger Ink Link group. The theme is harvest, so I got to thinking about my genealogy work and what it means to me, and came up with this piece, which I call Harvest Your Memories. The women in the art are my great grandmother and her sisters; the photos were taken in Russia in the early 1900s. I really enjoyed making this piece, playing with my new Distress and Adirondack inks and thinking about my ancestors. Maybe one of the reasons I feel so blah about today's creations is that I am using either purchased collage art or free downloads from the Internet. Hmm, I'll have to think about that...

Yesterday I took a little dip in the frog pond; spotted a misplaced increase in the knee sock and ripped back about an inch and a half. It took me all day (well, in between bouts in the stamping room) but I finally got back to where I'd been when I spotted the boo-boo. I am now more than halfway done with the calf increases. If I keep at it, I feel confident I can get these socks packed up and in the mail to my niece by the end of this month (uh oh...did I just tempt fate with that statement??).

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, also called the Day of Atonement, the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. It is a day for reflection and soul searching. Many people fast, and many also spend much of the day at services in the synagogue. I wish for my friends who observe the day an easy fast, and may we all be sealed in the Book of Life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

This is Only a Test

Several weeks ago, I started wondering which of my dye based inks truly lasted, and which faded over time. I ran a test; then a couple of weeks later, I ran another one using different colors. I stamped the images, then noted which companies the inks came from. Then I left the paper out on my stamping desk, where it was exposed to both direct and indirect sunlight. Today, I stamped the images again, below the first set, so I could compare. Above you see the results. In the first set (the leaves), I used Adirondack, Close to My Heart, and Marvy. In the second set, I used Distress Ink, Close to My Heart, and Marvy.

As you can see, which inks faded was perhaps more a matter of tone than company. The colors are pretty off on the leaf set, and I'm not positive I used the exact same Marvy color on the leaf I stamped today. Oops. Anyway, I guess it's more a matter of trial and error. Except that I do think those inks that claim to be fade-resistant have a better chance of staying true over time.

Today, when Liat brought in the mail, I was suprised to see an envelope from Scott Publications. Turns out they sent me a contributor's copy of Just Cards, volume 11, which is where my bees and apples card was published. I was delighted to have a new stamping magazine to browse through. But imagine my surprise when I realized there was another of my cards in the magazine! Pretty cool.

I spent part of the day working on some more backgrounds and cards. In fact, I should go and check on how my version of the tie dye paper towel background came out (if you follow the link, scroll down past the enormous photo in her header to see the tutorial). I didn't want to use the inks in my microwave, so I sprinkled salt on the damp paper towel instead. Hopefully, I'll show you that tomorrow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Last in the Series

This is the fourth and last Halloween card in this series. The male model is from the same catalog as the woman in the three previous cards. The asparagus came from a circular from a grocery store. I had a couple of other, similar things at the half-way stage, but my enthusiasm has waned. I want to try taking the next set of cards in a different direction. So today I cleared off my stamping table and am set to begin again tomorrow.

I've also been knitting on my niece's second knee sock, and am about 1/4 of the way done with the increases up the calf. Now that I've finished the first sock, this one seems a lot easier. What a relief!

Well, Maccabi lost their first home game of the season last night. They put up a good fight, and ended up losing in overtime. It was a thrilling game, and we were lucky enough to have been given two tickets to the game, which meant that all four of us attended a game for the first time. The girls sat in our regular season ticket holder seats, and Avi and I sat in the gift seats, which were located in the next section over. It meant we could actually see them and make eye contact during the game, which was great.

Next week, the four of us are going with a bunch of our friends (and their kids) to see the Harlem Globetrotters. I haven't seen them in years! I am so excited for the girls to see this slice of American culture.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Just One

Only one card to show you today. This one uses the same basic black & orange background as the others, overstamped with a Harlequin pattern (stamp by Posh Impressions). The skull comes from Tim Holtz's grungeboard collection. To cover up the clothes the model was wearing, I colored them with a pigment ink pen, then embossed. The speckles of embossing powder on her face and hands were a mistake, but one I was quite pleased to see.

I started another card today, the final in the series, but didn't have time to finish it. I ended up working for most of the day, translating things for the new Maccabi Tel Aviv website. I doubt the work I did today will be there before tomorrow, but you never know.

Tomorrow night is the first game of the season! Actually, it's not a regular season game; it's a special game meant as an opportunity for Maccabi fans to say goodbye to a wonderful player who, after six seasons playing in Tel Aviv, has changed teams and is now with a Greek team called Olympiacos. We originally had only two tickets to the game (because we are season ticket holders) but thanks to my new position (!) we are supposed to have two additional (free) tickets waiting for us at the box office. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Some Cards

I've had a productive few days in my stamping room lately. I call the card above Lejba and Matjas. The image of the two little boys is a photocopy of a cabinet card taken in Siedlce, Poland in approximately 1909 (but don't hold me to that date, I'm only guessing here). The boys are Lejba (on the left) and Matjas (on the right), two brothers who grew up to become Louis and Max, my great uncle and my grandfather. Aren't they adorable? I wonder who knit their snazzy striped socks? The yellow paper (I tried to tone down that color; I think it still needs work) is a photocopy of the ship's record of the family's passage to America in 1920. It was from this document that I learned what my grandfather and his family were called back in Poland. The clock face was a free image I found on someone's blog, and the clock's hands are acutally game spinners from Tim Holtz.

This card and the one that follows are the start of my Halloween series. The woman in the images is quite possibly Israel's most beautiful model. The pictures came from a clothing catalog that came (unrequested) in the mail. I just love altering these things! I used crackle medium and orange paint on black cardstock for the background, then stamped various images over that. The words come from Collage Stuff.

I have one more Halloween card nearly ready to show you, and a couple more still in progress. I'm getting ready to move on to a different theme, though. I usually don't like doing a lot of the same thing, and even with different stamps and photos that's what these cards are. So keep a weather eye on the horizon; there will be more to see soon, I hope!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Costumes and Trimmings and Socks

Oh my! I realize that this sock looks fairly odd, but I hope it will fit.

Here's where I am on the second sock (nearly ready to mark the spot for the afterthought heel). I knit almost all of this on Monday.

About a year after we moved to Israel, I designed and hand sewed this costume for Liat to wear in preschool during the holiday of Purim. She wore it several times that holiday, and often for the next few years as a "dress up" costume (photo on the left). Later, Meital wore it to her preschool Purim celebration (photo on the right), and also wore it many times when she wanted to play "dress up."

Almost thirteen years have passed since I made this costume, and I finally decided something needed to be done with it. It has taken a fair amount of abuse over the years, and I didn't feel right donating it anywhere. So today I started the dissection process. Right now, I am taking apart the skirt, which is actually made up of a sandwich of two pieces of red fabric with black mesh in between. I should be able to re-use just about every part of this costume, and you know that makes me happy!

I've been working on some Halloween cards today (having tons of fun altering a clothing catalog that came in the mail), and hope to have things to show you tomorrow. I keep deciding to do things that then need to dry, so the process is taking longer than I'd anticipated.

I suddenly decided that what I absolutely needed to do today was knit a lace trim in Halloween colors. I am probably going to use this on a card; I just need to figure it all out. Maybe I'll use it with the "skin" I took off of my broken umbrella last night. Lots of lovely, shiny black fabric just waiting to become something! I Googled recycled umbrellas last night, and saw projects for using old umbrellas as bat costumes (including the inner workings), shopping bags, and even a snazzy evening dress made out of 20 recycled black umbrellas! Amazing what people can think up. I wonder what I'll end up doing...