Designs of the Other Needle

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Needlework has been a part of my life since around the age of 8 when my mother thought me a few simple embroidery stitches.  My love of handwork has grown, continued and has always been more enjoyable than working on a sewing machine.  In the mid-1990s I fell hard for counted thread embroidery.  The variety of designs and stitches, the history (young grrls and women have been taught  the techniques of counted thread for centuries) and lovely fabrics and threads, drew me in. The items I love to stitch most were neccessairés and needlebooks.

The picture above is a small collection of needlebooks I've stitched (one was a gift from a friend) and the picture belows shows the inside of two. Needlebooks are a place to keep needles together and safely stowed. The first holds paper packets of needles and the second, more elaborate, case has linen pages to hold the needles, scissors (beneath the needle pages) and pincushion, that also acts as a pinkeep (the white dots around the edge are pins). It is also a keepsake of the occasion in which I took the class with my name and date included.

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Groupofcountedthreadnecassaires_2 Neccessairés are collections of decorative items, usually in a case of some sort, that have a purpose.  Elegant antique apothecaries, travel sets and sewing cases are very collectible in todays market.  Many a young woman through the ages were presented with a neccessairé of sewing tools when she came of age. Woman of all walks of life could make up a sewing roll (sailors also made neccessairé to take to sea) either of elegant fabrics, or of scraps, and safely keep the needles and other sewing tools together, always at the ready. Todays designers create with the past in mind, but use ideas of their own.  For several years I (almost) obsessively stitched one piece after another and have quite a collection of needlebooks and neccessairés. Several of my handstitched neccessairés are in the picture on the side.  The pictures below are of the contents housed inside: scissors with fobs, needlebooks, pinkeeps, beeswax, thread winders (to hold the precious silk threads) and rulers of ivory.

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One of my favorite neccessairés is the Swan Lake Sewing Case.  Five of us, friends and/or acquaintances, headed to Phoenix, I believe it was late 2001, to take the class. We were all in the same guild and knew we were around the same age.  As we traveled we shared stories, chatted the hours away and found we were all born in the same year.  Many other similarities were found and we all became closer friends on the trip.  Before we sewed our stitching into the finished shape we made sure all our names were included on each and every one of our neccessairés.

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There are many mementos tucked inside this little bag and each one brings back the nostalgia of the trip, the class and each and every friend who shared the event. They are dated 2002 as it took a long time to stitch all the pieces. 

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Needlework
and knitting have enhanced and changed my life in so many beautiful ways.  For them both I am eternal grateful.

N is for Neccessairés, Needlebooks and Needlework.  


Soundtracks

One of the things I love most in life is music and, while I do enjoy silence, music is often playing in the background of my daily life.  Music was a big part of my childhood.  Dad loved music and we had the biggest (and first) Hi-Fi in the neighborhood. It was the main entertainment in our home, used far more often than the television.  Dad had a huge library of records and, during our early years, we learned more about music than most people do in a life time. As kids we acted out and sang every Broadway Musical from Guys and Dolls to West Side Story (I still remember most of the words). 

The music played in our home was a varied mix; from Dave Brubeck, the Big Bands, opera, symphonies, and even the popular songs of the day…we heard it all.  Dad's first love was Classical music and our education was broad.  One of my favorite memories is sitting next to him while we read through a libretto of The Flying Dutchman or La Boheme.  He made learning the ins and outs, the themes and 'jokes" in the music fun and I was often wide eyed with the information he passed on.  How did he know so much?

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From an early age I've enjoyed everything from the Beatles to Beethoven...a cliché I know, but it was and still is true. Music awakens the spirit, sets a mood, brings back memories and fills the soul with peace (or angst).

I thought about putting together a list of Desert Island albums/records/cds, but that proved an impossibility.  So I'm going to link to a few of the tunes I'm listening to and love today. Everyday it changes.

The current song of the day that runs through my head most often is The Step and the Walk by The Duke Spirit. The song has a very classic sound to it and I love the lead singer's voice. You can find them on Myspace, too. Myspace is a great place to find the bands you love and hear their latest music (free!).

The music genre that gives me a big kick is classic country. (Don't get me started on the "hat country" of today.)  A good country song will make you laugh out loud, wanna cry in your beer and/or give you a gen-u-wine feeling that you want to get drunk and beat someone up.  Seriously, this music, the good ol' outlaw country music, is one of my faves and Hayes Carll is my newest love. His website plays several tunes from his latest album and "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" runs through my head quite often. His Myspace page has more good tunes.

Bela Karoli is flying under the radar, but this groups sound is unusual and stunning.  The haunting voices, blended with acoustic instruments, evoke the past and future of music at the same time. Check their Myspace page and listen to Summertime.

I leave you with my favorite music video of all time...pre MTV.

Yes, M is for Music.


Where I Do What I Do

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Doentthemonkeypawlooklikesitspeekin This is where I make my living.  When you walk into my office (the front office of the business) you'll see me sitting at that old computer monitor slaving away working (I'm trying to get the company to pop for a new flat screen). On the desk is my morning snack (yogurt and fruit) with my Sigg bottle nearby. The best thing about this space is the thermostat control is for my office only and I like it warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter than most people. 

The tree behind my desk is not living…it's a living nightmare of dust and cobwebs.  I can't get to it to clean it as it's stuck in a corner blocked by the recycling bin and other big boxes.  The plant in front of my desk is a living, breathing plant called a monkey paw.  It is the only living plant I have been able to keep alive at work or home.  Everyday any water that is left in my Sigg, or anytime the water gets too warm to drink, it is dumped into the planter.  Ms Monkey Paw is very happy with this arrangement and she thrives.

Viewfrommydeskatwork From the desk I can see across the valley to the Oquirrh Mountains, but as you can see it has been rather hazy (heat and pollution created ozone). The view just outside the office door is a little better (but still hazy).  The mountains change as the sun moves across the valley during the daylight hours  The shadows are constantly changing. It's a dynamic and sometimes dramatic view and wonderful to see in all seasons.

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If you could hear what's happening in my office you'd hear KCRL streaming live (or my own music mix) playing softly in the background, the noise from the agents who reside down the hall (do they need to speak so loudly?) and the occasional sound of a ringing phone.  All in all it's a quite spot, a fun place to work and best of all, it's close to where I live

L is for where I make my living.   


Playing with Flickr Toys

K is for Knitting Friends

1. Anne, Kim, Terry, Carole, 2. Kim and Judy, 3. Terry and Risa, 4. Carole and Risa, 5. Norma and Isela, 6. Ann, Cara, Me, Vicki, 7. Knitting with Red Rocks and Rachel 8. Susan Won Several Ribbons, 9. Judy and Kim, (different Kim and Judy) 10. Kim, Terry and Carole at Silver Lake, 11. Waulking at the Great Basin Fiber Fair, 12. Estes Park June 2007 I'll be there next weekend!
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

K is for Knitting Friends (This is small representation of my knitting/blogging friends. Most of my pictures are on the old computer and I need to transfer them over!) 
Knitting friends
are best pals ever.

Another meme is running rampant around Blogland and it was fun to do.


Who Am I?
The rules:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

K is for Keeping up with other bloggers or being a Kopy Kat.


Once I Was...

...a collector. That person no longer lives here, but she left behind different collections of "things".  Today I, the new person, only collect yarn and fiber (apparently) and that's something I'm trying to keep under control. That's a story for another day, however, so let's get back to the person I am no longer...the collector or "things". 

One of the "things" that held my desire for many years was jewelry.  It started with gifts from Smith...a very sweet gift giver he is. His mother loved fine jewelry and I have many beautiful pieces from her collection which I cherish to this day.  Smith is very good at finding just the right piece for the right occasion and, consequently, I have many fine jewels of my own to cherish.  To make this long story very short, we'll jump ahead a bit to the late 80s-early 90s when I fell head over heels for costume jewelry...collectible, vintage costume jewelry. There were so many sub-categories to collect and I did try for a time.
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This collection is small Victorian pins and other early pieces. 

The antique shows brought in many a seller with large varieties and categories of collectibles...it was overwhelming and fascinating. For a time small silver Victorian pins were a favorite of mine. The first pin I purchased was $15, but within a short period of time, the prices escalated to $100+.  (High prices put an end to much of my collecting.) Mexican jewelry (Taxco and other signed pieces) were affordable for a few years and after picking up a few choice pieces, that market climbed sky high.
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Signed Mexican and other designer pieces.

When traveling my favorite souvenir was a unique pin, bracelet or necklace. They could be vintage or contemporary, but I just had to have something to add to my growing collection of "things".  While jewelry isn't something I spend my dollars on any longer, I have been the recipient of many beautiful, unique handmade pieces and this is the jewelry that means the most to me and that I wear most often.

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Gifts of contemporary jewelry.

The pictures show only a small portion of the amassed collection.  It might be time to become a divestor rather than a collector and buy a new wheel, eh?  As you might have guessed by now...

J is for Jewelry.


Come On Summer!

Participating in the ABC Along can be very rewarding.  Preparations must be made in order to do a good job of bringing the current letter of the alphabet to the reading public (that means you).  A participant might as well have fun getting into the process of gathering information, taking pictures and researching all the different aspects of the chosen subject.  To this end, I threw myself into the letter "I" with great gusto.  One must do what one must do…

I Scream, You Scream…. We all scream for ICE CREAM!!

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Isn't Ice Cream the perfect summer treat?  It can be made into so many cool, refreshing and delicious drinks and deserts.  You can eat it on a stick, in a cone, in a dish or glass, with pie, or dropped into a mug of root beer.  Oh my, how I love a good root beer float!

"I" is for ICE CREAM

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Ice cream is one of my favorite foods and it's just a sin that ice cream is so bad for you (but only if you eat too much) and so expensive!  While I could eat it daily, I try not to. However, during the heat of summer it's my favorite way to cool off and I do indulge from time to time.  Every neighborhood I grew up in had a local spot (or two) where kids and families could gather for malts, shakes, sodas or sundaes.   Remember the ice cream man who came around in a truck that played a tune?  I still hear him in my neighborhood from time to time.

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There were several ice cream parlours around SLC, but sadly, they are all now gone.  Our treats now come from hard pack ice cream from the grocery or soft ice cream cones (and shakes) from the local drive in.  They have all sorts of toppings and swirls, which Smith loves, but my favorite is plain ol' vanilla. Once in awhile we'll have an ice cream sandwich.  They are an easy to eat treat and always welcome on longass drives.  (Service stations always have a case full of ice cream treats.)

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For a variety of reasons, ice cream is a rare treat today, which made the research for this post even more fun.  I have never eaten so much ice cream in such a short period of time. Oh grrl, it was SO GOOD! 


Spinning My Wheel (and a Spindle or Two)

Nearly ten years ago a friend tried to talk me into handspinning.  She had a new wheel and loved the process, thought I would too, and continually pushed me to give it a try.  This was at a time when my main focus was embroidery and I was immersed in constant study of various techniques which took all of my leisure time.  Spinning was something I knew would be enjoyable, but I just had no time to give up.

After starting my blog, I watched as many knitters made the progression to spinning and knew I had to give it a try.  It took a couple years before I talked myself into a spindle, another year to talk myself in to learning to use it, and several more months before I bought a wheel.  While I have spun a bunch of yarn and knit several projects with my handspun, spinning has been something I could take or leave.

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I'm not meticulous or obsessive about spinning like some people I know.  I admire Susan and the perfect yarns she creates (SO exquisite), but I am not Susan,  I am not the precise spinner she is.  Her last two handspun skeins are breathtaking and I wish you could touch them both (and I'm happy that I could!).  The merino singles are incredible and will make an amazing shawl.  Her three ply looks like a commercially spun yarn...it's so perfect!

H is for Handspun

Pileofbluefluffforsingles There is usually something ready to go on the wheel and I can slip into place and spin when the mood strikes.  It takes awhile to get through a spinning project because I rarely sit at the wheel for more than a few minutes. My favorite handspun yarns are singles and 3-ply.  Currently I'm working on a single with a gorgeous Indigo Moon roving of a merino/silk blend. It was purchased from Rhinebeck and is a delight to spin. (Sadly the company is no longer around.)  I do enjoy watching it slide through my fingers and form an interesting yarn. The plan is to follow in the footsteps of Cheryl, who knits with her beautiful handspun singles and creates the most amazing shawls.

Jared has started a series on handspinning that will be interesting if you’re a knitter and/or a spinner.  Just his pictures are worth a seeing, but I think you'll find the series very informative and enjoyable.

Beautifulhandspnandgiftiesfromlaura This week a package of sunshine arrived on my doorstep from Laura.  The box was full of sun colored gifties, fun gifties!  Flower power coasters, a little handmade dish (for orts?), the most darling stitch counter I've ever seen (a pink martini!) and a skein of yarn!  When I picked up the skein of yarn I realized it was her handpainted, handspun and I was so touched. Isn't this skein  beautiful?! It's has summer sun written all over it! (EPos for Sandy) It will become a shawl and I'll have sunshine on my shoulders any time I need it.   Thank you, grrlfriend!

Take a closer look...yum!

Laurasbeautifulhandspunyarn


Grounded

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Newgreenleavesandredrockofzion This is my favorite photo from the weekend.  It has a painterly quality that shows the textures and colors of the area so well.  Spring has arrived here and the land has come to life.  Seeing green on some of the trees and blossoms on others made me giddy happy. Spring flowers are growing with surety and hopefully, the warmth and awakening will start heading north.

Zionparkshorttunnel Neena drove the long scenic Highway 14 and took us into Zion Park from the back entrance.  Nearly every bit of the drive is breathtaking and not simply because of the shapes, textures, colors and unique qualities of the Utah desert.   The entrance to the park includes two man made tunnels; one short and narrow, the other wider and much longer. It is not wide enough for todays large motor homes, etc. and so the tunnel can only handle one direction of traffic at a time. Everyone loves a tunnel, but long delays and waits are less than pleasant. (Tip: Go during the winter months and you may still be happy you have some knitting along.)

Checkboardmesaofzionpark The Checkerboard Mesa, with it's natural crosshatch, is one of my favorite views in the park.   Great hikes abound around this area, too. Every direction you look the slickrock forms wonderful texture, showcases variety of earthy colors and unique shapes.

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The only "hike" we took was a stroll along the Virgin River.  The first picture of this post was taken at the start of our walk and the views all along the way were spectacular.  The Virgin is shallow and runs only about 200 miles.  She is a dirty Virgin, never running clear, always full of earth and, only in a good runoff year, is there enough water for rafting, and yet, she is in a fight of her life (with Nevada) for what little water there is. 

Virginriverviewsareinspiring_2 Dirtyvirginriverviews

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After a weekend like this, an immersion into the beauty of this place, I feel especially bless to live here, where so many unique landscapes are only a few hours from my front door. I can visit often to rejuvenate and refresh my spirit. G is for Grounded. The most beautiful ground on earth...the Greatest Earth on Show. 

I wish you could all join me.

Psst. Today is KimG's Birthday! Please wish her a very happy one!


Picture Frames

Taking pictures was a life long hobby of my father's and one of my earliest memories is of his black photograph album. The first pages contain pictures of his friends, his interests, his car and girlfriend (my mother) before he was married.  There were a few pictures of the wedding, the year before I arrived, and then the rest of the album was page after page of pictures of his first child, me. A few years ago I riffled through the album and took a bunch of my favorite pictures and that started my quest for suitable picture frames.   

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Some were purchased when we traveled and others were found while shopping. Many of the pictures were very tiny and it wasn't always easy to find proper frames.  Over the years enough frames were collected to fill a shelf with images of my childhood (and before). But, a few years ago my interest in collecting frames was abandon.  I do enjoy seeing the grouping of frames and looking through them from time to time while remembering my parents and other family members.

Framefrommarthasvineyard

This frame is a souvenir from Martha's Vineyard.

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And this frame holds a picture of my hanging upside down on the monkey bars (age 8) and it was a gift to Smith.  Around the edge it says, "You do something to me You send chills right through me You're my thrill"

Tinylittleframesofmyparents

Here are three very tiny photos of my mom and dad during their engagement, their wedding day and my mother holding me. The frames are around 2" tall.

Framefromsantafe

This frame from Santa Fe holds the first picture taken of me with mom and dad.

Because of this post I have enjoyed going through each picture and no longer walk right past the shelf each day.  I stop and pay homage to my family, my parents and the past.

F is for Frame


You'd Think it Would be Obvious

But, I had to think and think and think to come up with something that started with the letter "E" for the ABC Along. (There are no cute elephants in my house, but I wish there were!)

The obvious choice came to me as I sat with a pile of sweater in my lap and knit together the sleeves and body of EPSEPS starts with an "E", Elizabeth starts with an "E", EZ (as she is commonly known) starts with an "E"…How could I have been so blind, I've been knitting "EZ's patterns" non-stop for the last few months.  At least it finally came to me, now I give you….

E is for Elizabeth Zimmermann!

Amebaiousbsjnearingfinish For years I had heard her name, knit patterns by others designers that were inspired by Elizabeth and even bought a couple of her books.  But, I never stuck my needles into one of her patterns until Susan's Baby Surprise Class last fall. The genius of EZ is evident from the very first stitches of the BSJ.  The amoeba-ous shape transforms into  a darling jacket and it couldn't be more fun to knit.  I was hooked on EZ from that point on.

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Mittensworkingthesnowlastyear Blogfree Manise and I had a mini-swap of handspun last fall, and the beautiful yarn or red and blue that she sent to me was destined to become the Mitered Mittens from Elizabeth's Book "Knitter's Almanac".  This is another ingeniously engineered pattern that easily, quickly creates a warm and beautiful mitten.  They are so much fun to wear, even more so because of Manise's wonderful yarn.

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The last two months have been spent (in large part) with EZ's EPS.  Instead of trying to come up with a yoke pattern on my own I decided to go with  EZ's.  It's addicting knitting to watch the pattern form in my choice of colors.  There is much work to do to finish up this project and I am enjoying the process and a glimpse into Elizabeth's mind as I knit.

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How fortunate for the world of knitters that Meg Swansen, Elizabeth's daughter, is carrying on her legacy (and creating one of her own).  EZ's books are informative and full of creative ideas that inspire even if you never knit a specific pattern.  Since I have all her books, it might be time to collect the DVDs, on which EZ can be seen and heard.  They are produced by Schoolhouse Press, a company Elizabeth started.

Get to know Elizabeth and her legacy, your knitting life will be enhanced and improved beyond measure.

Knit on!  Unvent!  EZ would be proud!