Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Festivities

The week started with a phone call from a mom from the school who had a quilt top that needed to be finished "yesterday".  She asked if it would be possible to squeeze it into my schedule, and I said I would.  I got it on the frame that day, started quilting, and ran out of bobbin thread (done in brown) by 8:45.  Store closes at 9.  I decided to delay shopping for it until the morning.  At 9 a.m., I went down, got the thread, and finished the quilt before lunchtime.  The mom stopped by to pick it up before it was time to go pick up the kids from school.
Detail of the quilt top, decorated with birch leaves like the border fabric.
Afterwards, we went to lunch--Kelly took the day off work--and we went to a local burger place.  Wouldn't you know it, all the teachers from school had reserved the banquet room for a staff luncheon.  It was funny...we joked that they were following us...that we were being invaded...

That night was the school musical spectacular...the Christmas program!  We arrived early because the 8th graders have to prepare for the play and nativity--costumes...rehearsing...serious amounts of giggling...

Ben sat in the front row, waiting for his classmates and teachers.  He made a "handsome pose" for me...  I can just hear the voice over, "I don't always drink milk...but when I do, it must be chocolate.  I am the most interesting boy in the world..."

Then his real personality comes out...  When his teacher arrived and several other classmates were there, we felt comfortable leaving him in that section and heading to our seats in the balcony.  Then it turns out we sat very near the Spanish teacher, whose husband works with Kelly (same company, different departments).  She said she had been working with the kids over the last few weeks on their pronunciation of "Feliz Navidad" for the show's finale.  They had greatly improved by the time of the performance and she was very proud of them.  

The show starts with the entire school singing a song or two...  The first narrator at the show has just returned to school a week or so ago following a sports injury, followed by a scary diagnosis that resulted in several brain surgeries.  She's receiving treatments and wearing lots of fashionable's was a festive Santa hat.  

8th graders performed "Do you hear what I hear?" to which Kelly mumbled, "What an awkward age for boys..." while they cracked and squawked through it.  Emma's in the back row, wearing red.  Not sure what's going on with the blonde on the right she running away, or trying to balance on the end?

Ben's class performed a couple of songs (he's front & center...all the better to keep an eye on him, I suppose...).

Emma played a small role in the play as a towns person (didn't get a good picture of her during the play--she just walked quickly across the stage a couple times).  It was based on the Tolstoy story, "Where Love is, God is."  They joked that the cobbler in the play looked more like a Starbucks barista in that green apron.  I might have been able to source some better cobbler costumes and props, like a leather apron, a shoe in progress and a last to put it on, but I didn't see a call for help with this. In all, it wasn't that vital to the story.  

Later, after the rest of the musical numbers, the 8th graders did a brief story of the birth, where Emma dressed as an angel in the nativity (back row, far right).  Last year's play was really long and we didn't get out of the theatre until after 10:00.  The little kids were exhausted and it was brutally hard on many families to stay out that late.  The music teacher--who has done amazing things to the school's music program in the last couple of years...I can't say enough nice things about her--heard the comments from parents and promised to keep it shorter this year.  We were done by 8:45. :)

After the play, Emma went to Miss E's for a weekend sleepover.  We had planned on going to two different parties the next day, but knew that no kids her age would be there, and she would be bored at both, so we said she didn't have to come.  Turns out there was one girl about her age at the second party, but the rest were boys or little kids...lots of little kids.

The first party on Saturday was a birthday luncheon for Jen, my yurt-making buddy (photo provided by Cammie).  We met at a deli in Mt. Vernon with a few other SCA friends, her family members and church friends.  They had great food and followed it with an awesome chocolate cake.  I gave her the 4-yard woven trim in the Aquaterra colors.  

The second party was in the evening with the "Pitt" crew.  This is the gaming group that met at Jim's house (the Pitt--a 100 year old house that has been under constant construction since we've known him...about 20's still not done).  The party was not held at his house, however; it was held at another 100 year old house a few blocks away, owned by the mother of one of the Pitt crew.  Mary has lived there for 50 years or so and has done everything in her power to maintain the main part of the house in its original glory--woodwork, flooring, lighting, tile fireplace, etc. A few minor changes have been made for more comfortable living, but much of it remains the same.

There were two pairs of columns in the house--one set by the front door, leading into the large living space, then another pair leading into the dining room.  All of them had glass windowed cabinets with tulip designs on the clear leaded glass.  Next to it (behind the tree) is a closet with a beveled mirror on the door.  Lots of lovely crown molding.

This is the other side of the dining room and has lots of drawers built in to the wall.  Apparently the bottom drawer used to be filled with the shoe polishing kit.  

The kitchen is a mess in this was a party!  There were a couple dozen people there and lots of cooking and prep going on, so deal with it.  It's not a magazine spread.  The leggy farm sink is awesome!  There are also flour and sugar bins to the right of the sink. The entry into the kitchen has a swinging door, and off the kitchen is the "back" door.  Since the house is on a corner, it faces another street, so it's kind of difficult to figure out which is the front door.  The floor is original to the house and Mary was talking about replacing it because some of the tiles are broken, but I mentioned that there are lots of places to find replacement tiles for those few broken ones.  I love the floor design!  The wallpaper, on the other hand....ew.  The cabinets, on the other hand, were painted a few times.  The last time it was painted, it was painted brown to look like wood, but a bit was chipped off and you can see the layers of white and the wood underneath.  Cindy is thinking about stripping it all off back to the original wood (Cindy is daughter-in-law to Mary and is doing the painting in the living room).

There are lots of built-ins, original details, and funny little antique features.  There were a few interesting changes that was done to make the house more livable for its tenants--the best was the dumb-waiter that was converted into a small shower.  Mary's husband didn't do well with taking baths in his old age, so he had a shower installed.  Here's the closet that was the dumb-waiter...

But is now a shower!

Here's a blurry picture of the dining room built in.  Mirrored backs, leaded glass tulip designs in the doors, lovely woodwork...Just gorgeous!

The fireplace has all the original tiles around it (and unfortunately, a couch in front of it, to Mary's frustration...she didn't want it there, either, but it was convenient for the party).

Here's a detail of the tiles on the fireplace tiles.  Cammie has a much better camera than my phone.

Lovely front door knobs and locks.  

Art deco lamps (slightly altered so the hanging bits would stop hitting people in the head).  There are lovely designs on the glass that, sadly, didn't show up on the photos at all.  The paint around the base is in preparation of painting the ceiling (NOT the wood!).  A few of the sections have already been painted, but they didn't get them all done before the party.

I'm working on a post commemorating a friend who passed away the other day.  It's going to take some time on that draft.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

What's cookin?


Ben had a Christmas in Germany report to do.  The rest of his classmates did other countries and they presented these reports to their class with interesting facts, traditions, foods, and decorations.  We decided to make a traditional gingerbread type cookie called Lebkuchen.  I made it the night before and put it in the fridge, as directed.  This morning, I rolled it out onto the pan, sliced it up into rectangles, and baked it.  I nearly forgot it in the rush to get myself and the kids ready, but 10 minutes before we left, I pulled it out, tossed it into a brownie pan with a lid, and we dashed out of the house with the cookies still hot and smelling yummy!  The teacher swooned when we walked into the room with them and later said they were delicious!

Emma earned her orange belt on Saturday!  Woo-hoo!  We celebrated with sushi and a show--we went to the Bellevue "Snowflake Lane" show, which was 20 minutes of drumming, singing, dancing, and people in Christmas costumes handing out peppermint lollypops.  We finished it up with warm drinks--which didn't work out as well as anticipated...the kids didn't want hot chocolate, and the place we went to was located in the corner of a grocery store.  The chai was awesome!  It was a great time hanging out with Jean.  Thanks again for inviting us!  It was so good to see you again!

I finished up the Double Diamonds weaving the other day.  It turned out so remarkably well...I love it!  I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but this is a lot of fun!  I'm thinking maybe I'll have to sell these with a merchant--maybe I can work out a deal with the candle merchant.  Not that these have anything to do with candles, but she's a friend of mine, and might be willing to draw in a few more customers who go, "Ooooo!  Pretty!"

Working on a new weaving project.  This is more of a challenge because you have to split the stack of cards and turn some of them in different directions for four turns, then put them back together and turn them in the same direction for four turns.  Being able to do this opens the doors to a lot more interesting designs.  I might want to do this again in some other colors--Kelly wants me to make a guitar strap to go with the new electric he picked up a couple weeks ago.  He also picked up a Learn to Play Guitar game/program for the XBox.  Unlike Guitar Hero, this actually teaches you to play guitar.  I think I've heard "Boys Don't Cry" about 140 times in the last few weeks.

Last Monday I went to the quilt guild meeting for our annual Christmas party.  Several people signed up to decorate tables.  Just a couple days before, Tara wrote and said that she had signed up to decorate one, but since she is now in Minnesota, she would not be able to, so I filled in for her at the last minute.  It's not amazing, and it certainly didn't win any prizes, but there was a table, a centerpiece, some candies in the Santa chimney, and some paper plates and napkins.

Sharon also decorated a table...she did a bang-up job, but it was table #1 that won the prize.  By the end of the night, we were calling it Table #Won.  Several people won big raffle prizes that night.  It wasn't funny after about the fourth person in a row.  I didn't win anything, but we had a good time and I got to show Marge's quilt to the group.  I then took it over to her house before heading south again.

Today I got a call from a parent at the school who needed someone to quilt up a present for her sister.  I must have given her a business card some time back...I put it on the frame right away and started working on it tonight.  It would be done right now if I hadn't run out of the brown bobbin thread.  Sigh.  I gotta buy some more tomorrow morning and hopefully I can get it done early and get it back to her in the morning.

Tomorrow's the last day of school before Christmas break!  Yippie!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weaving Works

I've been going a little nutty with the tablet weaving this last couple of weeks.  It started with the open hole weaving that Bekah taught me.  This is when you leave one of the holes on the cards empty so the weft peeks through as you weave.  It was a short piece--about two yards--and it went together pretty quickly.  This was a learning piece where I discovered the importance of the S and Z warp.  It can really change the look of the piece depending on how they're threaded.  This was when things started to really click in my head about how this is supposed to work.

Then you saw my second piece, the blue, green, black, white and yellow piece ("Aquaterra, An Tir") that I made, which is destined to be a prize for the rapier tourney at Ursulmas.  This was a 25 card piece based on a pattern called "Andred" I found on the EQOS web site.

Here are a few new ones that I have been working on for the last couple of weeks.  It takes a few hours to warp it up--usually two or three, and usually when I've been watching TV.  The weaving takes longer, of course, but I can do a yard or more in an evening, so in two to four days, I can get it done and ready to tie up the ends.

This one I've been calling "Black and White and Red All Over" for obvious reasons.  It's about two yards long--experimental length.  I was trying to create a pattern based on a photograph I found online, and unfortunately it didn't turn out the way I expected.  It's still cool-looking, and I guess you could call it an original design... No idea what I'm going to do with this piece.  Historically, they could be used as trim for clothing or housewares, or even as horse tack as belly bands and reins.  In SCA, it is usually used as trim on a garment or belts.  Usually trim is smaller and more delicate, with finer threads to make a 1/4" to 1/2" wide band, rather than the 1" to 1 1/2" wide that I've been making.

So I decided to try something different and went with this "eyeball" pattern.  I call this one "Waverly".  I think I strung it up like EQOS's "Sed" pattern, but I used fewer colors and did a different turning pattern, so I ended up with something quite unique.  No idea what I'm doing with this one either.  I'm hoping that someone will say, "Hey!  I like that!  What do you want for it?"  Maybe I need to partner up with a merchant to sell things on commission.

This is one of my favorite pieces so far.  I just call it "Aquaterra" since it is the colors for the Barony. The pattern is called "Acret" although again, I changed some of the colors around (out of necessity--there wasn't enough white to do the pattern the way it was designed).  The site owner has an Etsy page, and I wonder if this is the way to go with my stuff.  Of course, I don't understand her pricing.  They can be anywhere between $15 to $50.  I assume that some of this is based on the cost of the buckles.

My most recent piece is this one.  It's the same pattern but a different colorway.  What I love about this one is the right side has a lovely pattern and the *wrong* side is even prettier!  (The wrong side is on top of this picture, the right side is below.)  I posted this on my Facebook page and Bekah now wants to commission works from me. My teacher wants me to make stuff for her.  How funny is that?

Today is going to be pretty busy--Emma is testing for her orange belt, and we're planning on getting together with Jeanie.  Have a great weekend!