Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

I don't do many book reviews here, but this book is worthy of a mention because of its fun format. The book is presented as a scrapbook of a young woman, beginning in 1920 when she is 17, and ending in 1928. Every page is filled with ephemera of the era: postcards, food wrappings, ticket stubs, advertisements, photographs, souvenirs, fabric swatches, and more. The story is fairly interesting, too. Even though I never quite made an emotional connection with Frankie, I still wanted to know what would happen to her next!

Here is one of my favorite pages in the book, with souvenirs from her visit to the Eiffel Tower:
I find little trinkets endlessly fascinating.

Here is another page from the book, when Frankie sets up her first apartment in Greenwich Village after college graduation:

The author, Caroline Preston, used her own collection of ephemera, and bought lots more on Ebay, to make the book. What a fun and creative endeavor! If you want to read more about that, here is the author's web site.

Another thing I like about this book is that it demands you read the actual physical book. This wouldn't translate to an e-format very well.

I've been thinking about books and e-books a lot lately because I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I have to say, I'm still on the fence about the whole thing. While I think it's wonderful that practically any book I might want is immediately available to me at any hour of the day, I am so hard-wired to use the library that I just cannot pay money to read a book! On the occasions that I am willing to pay to read a book, I'd rather have the book in-hand to put on my shelf when I'm done. I just cannot bring myself to pay $12.99 for an e-version of a book.

I do admit the e-reader is convenient. I've downloaded many of the free classics, and I am taking advantage of the Amazon lending library available to Prime members (although the lending library selections leave something to be desired). I've even bought a few of the less expensive books available (I haven't paid more than $3.99 yet), but I am going to be a slow adapter to this. If my local public library ever makes the borrowing-of-e-books process more streamlined than it it is now, I will be one happy person.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Folk Sampler

My friend Lynn is going to recognize this quilt right away. When I saw her version of this many years ago, I rushed to get the pattern and make one of my own. I can't remember how long ago that was now. It's been awhile!

The pattern is Folk Sampler, by Cordie Gary, and I see that it's still available here. The original pattern has 12 folk motifs, and they are all lovely, but I knew 12 would be far too many for me to tackle, so I selected four.
I knew I wanted the rabbit for certain. He was my first choice. He's the least colorful of the lot, but he's just so sweet.

This is a seasonal decoration in my house, perfect for winter time, but a bit too dark and heavy for spring and summer. We will enjoy it for a few more weeks before it gets packed away again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

crocheted rock

I've been seeing rocks covered with yarn and fabric out in the blogosphere and on etsy for a few years now. I've always thought they were pretty, but not something I particularly coveted for myself, until this tutorial was posted. This seemed just 70s-cover-everything-with-macrame enough that I wanted to try it. Even though my past experiences crocheting with thread have been rather ugly, I thought I'd give it a go, one more time.

I looked around the house for a suitable rock, because goodness knows with my daughter's geology obsession we have plenty of rocks here, but all of her rocks are specimens and samples for scientific study, geez, Mom. I ended up buying river rocks from the craft store. I know, I know.

The other day I finally felt confident enough to tackle it. I sat down in front of the computer with the tutorial open and started hooking.

I had to start over five times. Size 8 thread and a size 9 hook are just not my thing! At one point my hook disappeared, and after searching my lap and the floor all around me I finally found it up my sleeve. I am not kidding!

But! I struggled through, and if you don't look too closely to see where I made counting errors and hook-placement errors, it looks alright. I did have a really hard time getting it snug on the rock I initially choose, so I solved that problem by finding a bigger rock. Ha!

File this one under useless but pretty!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Afghan Completed!

Hooray, I finally finished it! This was five years in the making, due to neglect, not difficulty.
It's a giant granny square made with Lion Brand Wool Ease yarn, which was nice to work with. There were so many ends to weave in (endless!), but I sat down with it Sunday night in front of Downton Abbey and got it done. Perfect way to spend the end of winter vacation!
I like how it looks on the white couch, but it clashes horribly with the rug in that room, so this will live in our family room, where the couch and carpeting are brown. We could use a burst of color in that room.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Old Crocheted Scarf

I made this scarf for my mom when I first learned to crochet five years ago, before I took photos of the things I created. I had forgotten about it, but when I was visiting her for Christmas, she wore it, and I was shocked by how gorgeous it is! Did I really make that? I was impressed with myself! I asked her if I could photograph it for my catalog (aka my Flickr photo set). Unfortunately, the photos just don't do it justice. It is rich and shimmery and nuanced in person.
The pattern is the Cluster Stitch Fiesta Scarf from the book Vogue Knitting Crocheted Scarves Two. I used the same yarn they featured in the book: Fiesta Yarns La Luz Multi (silk) in the color wild oak, which if I remember correctly was not inexpensive yarn, but seeing the scarf again 5 years later, was totally worth every penny.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Welcome 2012

Our big Christmas gift to the children this year was a 2-night New Year trip to a ski resort in northern Michigan. We took them four years ago, and they have been begging to return ever since. We don't downhill ski, but there are snowshoe trails and cross-country ski trails, an indoor/outdoor spa pool, and (the main attraction for my two children) a very large indoor water park!

The lodge still had all the Christmas decorations up, and they were still piping Christmas music into the public areas, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and hearing.

We had blizzard conditions the two days we were there, but that didn't stop my children from riding the Zip Line!

Our room had a nice view of the ski hills. I enjoy watching the bustle of the skiers, but I can't imagine standing at the top of that "mountain" myself with boards strapped to my feet and feeling anything but sheer terror.
The outdoor pool is a fun winter time feature. It's a bizarre feeling to swim outside when the temperature is in the low teens (Fahrenheit).
The indoor water park is a balmy 84 degrees Fahrenheit. That is where we spent the majority of our visit! My children love all the slides, but I personally stick to the lazy river, or the hot tub.

We did venture out to find a sledding hill. Conditions were blizzard-like.

One minute it would be clear for a lovely view of Lake Charlevoix:
The next minute a squall would blow in and obscure the view:
Late in the afternoon my husband and I decided to brave the storm again and snowshoe for a bit. The children refused to join us. I still had on my snow pants from the sledding outing, which I normally wouldn't wear for snowshoeing, but I was too cold to take them off.
(Oh my, I look like my daughter in this picture! We don't think we look alike, but seeing this photo makes me think that all those people who say we look alike must not be crazy after all!)

And of course the morning we had to head for home, this is what it looked like outside:
However, as it was only 6 degrees (Fahrenheit) out, I was secretly glad we didn't have time to stick around!

I brought my crochet afghan to work on. I started this project at least four years ago, maybe even five.
It's a granny square, worked in the round, that gets bigger and bigger and bigger as you go. I haven't worked on it much because it's a cumbersome project, requiring many skeins of yarn. I can't leave it out at home because my cats steal the yarn, and taking it on trips is not easy because of its size. I am determined to get this finished, though, especially since I am so near the end, so I stuffed it into the front seat with me for our long drive. My project bag isn't big enough to hold all the yarn plus the afghan, so I carried the afghan loose in my arms when we went to check into the lodge. My husband asked me to "do the talking" as he likes to say, so there I stood at the desk, clutching my afghan like it was some kind of security blanket. I felt a little bit silly! And then on the return trip home, the sliding passenger doors on our van were frozen shut, so the children had to enter and exit the vehicle by crawling over the front seats, which meant I had to gather up the afghan and my project bag every single time. Such a hassle! I did make some progress, though. Only three rounds to go now!