Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Knitting again

Oh, wow, Blogger has a new interface.  Who knows how this will look once I hit publish!  I shall press onward and hope for the best.

So... knitting!  I have a troubled history with knitting.  I want to knit, but most knitting projects I undertake cause more stress than pleasure, so I shy away from it.  Lately I have felt a determination to make knitting a joyful experience, though.  I can't explain why.  I just want to knit!

My niece (the one who got married in October) is expecting a baby at the end of summer, and we recently found out it's a girl.  I have about a half a million things I want to make for that little Nugget, things I am good at, like embroidered bunnies and pocket pillows and  sweet little quilts. But I also have this inexplicable desire to knit her a little dusty pink sweater using really expensive yarn.  I have the pattern, and I have the yarn, but I also have the fear.  I can't make a mess of really expensive yarn, now, can I?  Before embarking on the sweater, I needed to dust off my knitting skills on something a little less dear, so I decided to practice by making a washcloth or two.  And you know what?  This first washcloth is going really, really well.  I want to sit and knit all morning and all evening.  I will need to devote most mornings and evenings to it if I want to finish it, because I am very slow at knitting.  Painfully slow.  When I start the sweater, I will have to follow the instructions for the 12 month size, because I may need a full year to get it done!  It would be awful to finish the sweater and have it be too small.  I shall hopefully be able to post nice happy-sweater-knitting-progress posts once I have it underway.

Completely unrelated: I had an "oh my goodness I am getting to be such an old lady" moment yesterday.  My nephew turned 7, and his dad told me (as I heard him say it): "We got him Star Wars Connect for his birthday."  The image that sprang into my mind was a Star Wars themed game of Connect Four.  "Wow, that's cool, I didn't know they had themed Connect Four games!"  This was met with a blank stare, and then a very careful explanation of "No, Kinect.  Xbox Kinect Star Wars.  The video game?"  Oh, dear lord.  I am turning into my mother!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Four Pieces, completed

Back in January, I started work on four blackwork pieces to hang in my living room. I finally completed the fourth one today. I've already taken them to the framers, so now I wait for them to do their job, and when I get the framed pieces back, the final step will be to convince my husband that it's okay to put four more nails into a plaster wall. After that, this project will truly be finished!

The pictures are horrible, but I was in a rush and didn't upload them and inspect them before I took the pieces to the frame shop, so they will have to do.

The pattern is a modification of the Blackwork Sampler in Alicia Paulson's Embroidery Companion. I modified this pattern once before, blogged here. This time I wanted four separate pieces, and I enlarged them to finish at 4 inches square rather than the 3 inches square as originally charted. Enlarging them resulted in much more stitching than I anticipated! I was expecting the stitching on this to take a month at most, but it took me three times that.

I also counted incorrectly on one square. The design pictured second from the top is supposed to be more spacious (you can see how it should look here). I honestly don't know where I went wrong, and I couldn't recreate this accidental modification if I tried! Fortunately, I don't mind the more compressed design. At least it is still symmetrical!

In other news, our front yard apple tree is a symphony in pink and white today. The buds are pink, but the flowers are white when they open.

A swarm of butterflies has been busy pollinating this tree and the apple tree in our backyard all afternoon. They swoop over our house, going back and forth between the two trees. Such a treat to see.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Break

My children had spring break last week, which coincided with my daughter's 12th birthday. She has been pleading for us to take her to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Florida, and even though theme parks really aren't our thing, we decided to go for it.

I love driving through Kentucky in the spring.

We stopped in Gainesville and toured the University of Florida campus. They are the Gators, and they actually have gators on campus!
On to the theme park. My photos are posted here in the order I took them, so you'll get a real sense of how much running back and forth we did.

This is the Sorting Hat, who talks to you while you wait inside Hogwarts for the Forbidden Journey ride. He looks so realistic that I think magic must truly be in use there!

We went to the Hog's Head for butterbeer.

Don't let the fake snow fool you. It was 90 degrees, and people were elbow-to-elbow. The throngs in this photos are just a fraction of what the crowds became later in the day.
Seeing all those millions of people standing around drinking Butterbeer struck me as bizarre. J.K. Rowling's imagination has spawned quite an enterprise!

Palm trees and Hogwarts don't mix!!! I'm certain palm trees do not grow in Scotland.
We were in the park on my daughter's birthday. One of our birthday traditions is to read Happy Birthday to You, by Dr. Seuss, on the eve of her birthday, but I didn't pack it. By happy circumstance, Seuss Landing is just a few steps from Hogsmeade at Universal, and not only do they have book stores, but they also sell the book Happy Birthday to You! I grabbed a copy off the shelf and read a bit out loud to her before she sidled away. I guess it's one thing to read it in the privacy of your own home, and quite another to have it read to you in public, but hooray, our tradition lives on!
We had a scenic walk from our hotel to the park. I enjoyed the pretty colors.
The moon was full the nights were there. It was quite fitting for Hogsmeade:
No detail in that village is overlooked. The chimneys smoke merrily away, and the smoke is highlighted at night.
We spent one day at Kennedy Space Center.
The area surrounding it is a wildlife refuge, full of alligators and eagles, and this really prehistoric-looking bird. No worries, though--there is a full pane of glass between me and this flock. Otherwise I'd have been a blur running in the opposite direction.
Back to Hogwarts. We just couldn't leave it alone!
But eventually we had to say good bye.

We enjoyed ourselves, even if this was a vacation outside of our norm. I've blogged before about my daughter's love of rock shops, and how we always have to stop at rock shops when we travel. That is easy to do when we are visiting national parks, but it's a little harder to find one in theme park central. I kept getting fooled by this one:
Hard Rock Cafe. Oops. Wrong kind of rock.