Friday, July 25, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness ...

Lately, it seems, people around me having been giving of themselves in very nice ways. They have all inspired me to do the same. Not that I was not a giving person before but I think, and hope!, you know what I mean. I have a lot of photos today to share. Last summer my Mom was very giving and bought me season tickets to the Santa Fe Opera this year so that I could join her and her friend Mike on their Opera outings. A very nice gift indeed! Last summer I went to my very first opera, La Traviata, and had a most wonderful experience! Unfortunately, this season Mike is not joining us. He took a bad fall and broke his arm. It was so severe it required surgery to repair it before it could even begin to heal. We felt badly for Mike, not only because of his ordeal but because he would not be able to attend any of the operas this season. His tickets were available and he asked Mom if she knew anyone that might be interested. Well, we sure did. My best friend Dilshani is a huge fan of the theater and productions like Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. I knew she would just love the opera! The tickets, the entire season, were gifted to Dilshani. Mike is a very giving guy but that was most certainly a random act of kindness; the two of them have yet to meet. As soon as Mike is better we are all taking him out for a wonderful meal so that we can tell him all about the operas we have seen this season. Every Wednesday night is Opera Night during the month of July. I have taken a lot of pictures so far this season and will share them with you. There are selfies taken to mark each week! I don't have each week but I have a few. I try to get a good picture of the staging too because its always spectacular. Unfortunately, Dilshani couldn't come with us last week because she was sick. And last week she missed the best tailgaters of the season! Yes! People tailgate at the opera but not in the sense that you may have in your mind. It isn't like tailgating at a football game. People bring tables and wine and eat amazing foods. Most of the time these table are covered with white linens and have either flowers in a vase in the center of the table or candlesticks or a candelabra. I'm totally serious. Last week we saw the best ones yet. When we were done parking I walked over, introduced myself, and politely asked if I could take their picture. I explained I had a blog and would like to show their picture and explain they were definitely the best set up so far!


They were all dressed to the nines and noshing on salmon and steamed asparagus and I'm not sure what else. That's just what I could make out for sure. But the candelabra was the best we'd seen all season! Isn't it fantastic! They were so kind. They laughed when I told them I was blogging about them. They all paused and posed and looked like they were having a good time which I assure you they were. 

The weather had been bad as we were leaving town and rained almost all the way there. We were just a tad worried we would get rained on. This is what the sky looked like when we got there...I love the way the sun was shining on the trees...


Mom and I...


Let me show you the left side of the theater. We have 7th row seats on the right side of the theater, awesome seats but if it rains we're gonna get wet. Just like we did back on week 1. This is the openness of the theater and why we were just a little worried...


This is the staging from last weeks "Fidelio"...


We never go anywhere without our knitting, even to the opera! We knit before the show and during intermission. The folks sitting one row in front of us also have season tickets so we've been seeing them weekly. I still don't have their names. I'm going to have to fix that this coming week. Anyway, they live in Santa Fe and the wife is a knitter! We have been talking and sharing knitting info since the first week. They are wonderfully kind and very funny. She frequents our favorite Santa Fe knit shop, Yarn & Coffee, all the time and we all envy her! Mom was working on a pair of socks...


Dilshani and I from this weeks opera...


And Mom and I, we were both laughing and its one of my favorite pics of us...


And this is the staging from this weeks opera which was The Impresario and Le Rossignol. The first half was one opera and the second half was the other but they worked like an entire show. It was uh-mazing. So artistically creative and bold. We all loved it...


Earlier in the week we went out to run errands and have lunch. We drove right by some random acts of kindness...


Yarn Bombing!!!


I love seeing yarn bombing while out about town! Spreading the love of color of knitted goodness! While we were finally headed home after dropping off Aunt Betty we drove past a young girl holding up a sign for a lemonade stand. Now, when I was in the hospital last month and had some tests done in the nuclear lab, there was a huge poster that had been framed and drilled onto the ceiling so you could read it while lying flat on your back. It was a list of 100 things to never forget to do. One of the things on that list was to always buy lemonade from kids who have a lemonade stand. I told Mom to turn around. She did and we went for a glass of lemonade each. It was fabulous, home made with pulp lemonade. It was awesome lemonade...


As we were turning the car around I asked the girls if I could take their picture. They were SO excited! They all gathered together and smiled the biggest smiles they each had in them...

 
 You never know when you will have the opportunity to make someones day by just doing something nice. I enjoyed paying for the car behind me in the drive thru at Starbucks last week. It felt good. I know it made their day and my message to them was simply to pay it forward. 

I have belonged to the group on Facebook called "Addicted To Sock Knitting" and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing every one's handiwork, answering questions, giving my two cents when asked, etc. I had no idea until Dilshani told me that there is a mirror group for the Facebook one on Ravelry. Tuesday afternoon Dilshani texted me that she just received a package that made her day. Someone from the "Addicted To Sock Knitting" group on Ravelry had blindly sent her a Random Act of Kindness package with 2 sock knitting books and a one of them came with a DVD. It totally made her day. She told me that she joined the RAK....I asked her "Whats an RAK?" And then she told me. Things started to get a clearer for me. I asked her how I could join. She told me how and so I did. So did Mom. I like the idea of sending knitters I don't know a care package of goodies. We aren't that difficult to please...if its knitting related we're happy! I've put together a couple packages of my own and am just waiting for the Ravelers to get back to me with their addresses. I tried to tailor them a bit. I looked at one of the persons projects enough to know she likes to do shawls. So I went to my stash and pulled out a couple of skeins of Malabrigo and printed up 2 of my patterns and stuffed them into a envelope for mailing. I also put in a little cardboard tube used for holding crochets hooks and DPN's and things like that. For the second package I pulled a skein of Schaefer Yarn Anne which was already caked up and 3 skeins of Mini Mochi that I have been waiting to use and just never have. I looked up patterns that would suit the yardage for both of them and enclosed 2 patterns and another cardboard tube for the second person. I cant wait to get them sent out! I was so happy when Dilshani told me about this group. More importantly, I couldn't wait to put something together. I know how it just made Dilshani's day to receive that package. I read through some of the thank you's and some of these women receive their packages on really rough days and it totally changes the outlook for them for the rest of the day. Each one of us has the power to do this. I like that. With all the nice things people have done for me, I am paying it forward and cant wait to do it. 

In a previous post I wrote about making a square that would be made into, along with many other squares, a blanket for our friend Cheryl as a wedding present. The blanket has been made and here it is...


That's Celeste on the left and Debbie on the right. Debbie put all the squares into a blanket and did an awesome job too! My square is second from the right on the top row...Debbie has her hand on it. Another random act of kindness that will be appreciated every time Cheryl wraps up in it. 

We all have the power to change someones day, to make it better. We have all been given gifts time and time again and have the power to make things better for someone, if even only for a short time. I encourage you all to do random acts of kindness, pay it forward. You'll get it back time and time again if you give freely of yourself. Now on to the knitting!

I am way further along than this now but this is the most recent pic I have of it...my latest shawl design in progress...


And my sock progress...


The package with the sweater yarn arrived from Knit Picks so I've started on the first one but there isn't enough of it done to look like anything yet. But the yarn is gorgeous. Its their Shine Worsted in Currant. It photographs differently depending on the light. Its a deep red. I though the best place to photograph the knitting was outside. Well, maybe only for certain things. Here it is outside...


Could've just been the time of day it was. Here it is inside...


 My parents are leaving for England tomorrow. I am so envious I can barely stand it. They are having the good fortune of being able to visit Highclere Castle on this trip too. For You Downton Abbey fans, Highclere is where its filmed. If Audrey gets any closer she's going with them...



And I love this next one. She's been hanging out in the nooks along the wall lately and I got a good pic of her...just not looking at the me!


Rae has been on my mind a lot lately. I couldn't believe it when I captured this last week...


A heart in the sky! I miss you Rae Rae. Pass the good forward folks. I'd love to hear any good stories you might have of paying it forward or whats happening in your knitting world. Leave me some comments! Until the next time...Knit On!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fourth Verse Same As The First ...

So, y'all know I've been on a bit of a baby sweater making kick, better known as the Baby Sweater Movement (and just an FYI, it ain't over yet but I'll get into that later). This chronicles the last kimono styled sweater I made, the pattern is Carina Spencer's Small Things Sweater. I haven't been able to blog about it because it had not yet been gifted to the recipient yet. And this good friend of mine is on Facebook and as you all know, I post all my blog entries on Facebook. I was a big surprise and I couldn't blow it by blogging about it too early. 

My friend Heidi, who I graduated High School with, was pregnant with her first baby and it was a healthy pregnancy. She and her hubby didn't announce this pregnancy until she was 6 months along. Heidi has a high chance for stillbirth. The fact that she has been having a very healthy pregnancy and little baby Bentley is doing well is a very good sign she will deliver her daughter safely. Heidi and her her husband Todd have been showered, I mean absolutely SHOWERED, with baby gifts. Bentley may already have a car, I'm not sure. I knew when they announced the pregnancy I wanted to do something special for her. She needed hand knits. Period. Anyone can buy diapers and baby wipes. I needed to make a killer sweater and say...some cool baby Mary Jane's to go with it.

This was the funnest of all them I have made so far. Dilshani and I picked the colors together and I am so thrilled with the outcome I could barely stand it. Again, I worked with Knit Picks Shine Worsted because, well, it rocks. Its great in the hand, it doesn't pill, has a nice sheen to is, it is cotton and modal, and it is machine washable and tumble dry low too. Its just great stuff. We chose the colors hydrangea and green apple to go together...


Aren't those color just fabulous together?  The hydrangea was an easy pick but choosing the right shade of green was the hard part. Thanks Dilshani! Once it arrived I couldn't wait to get started on it. Except that it all arrived 2 days after my surgery on May 1st and then 8 days later I was back in the hospital with severe pneumonia and pleural effusion. I was so sick I didn't even knit while I was in the hospital. I didn't want to. I had no knitting mojo at all. Once I was release on May 24th I got home and got to work. I had done of 3 of these previously so I had this down. I was surprised I even needed the pattern but I did. I knew early on that choosing the buttons was gonna be fun! This is about a day and a half into it...


 This is the back of the neck starting to take shape...


At this point I like curling it up and see how much of it is really starting to take shape!

 
 Itty bitty little neckline! I love it! Now enough of it is getting done that you can where the sleeves will go as those stitches have been divided off...


 Enough of the body has been done its time for some color!!


Even the buttonholes are done at this point. The more that went into this the more I loved it! The combination of colors were truly working together so well. Here you can see that the body has been completed, we just needed some sleeves!


By the time the hem was finished I was so in love with this thing that I Could.Not.Wait. to get this to Heidi, I knew she would love it. Heidi has always said such wonderful things about my knitting and my design work, I knew she would appreciate this. Even though the excitement we have for buttonholes can be viewed as unhealthy! One sleeve down and one to go...


Ta-dah! Now she's done!


Let's get a closer look at the buttons I was so excited about...


When I was looking for buttons I couldn't believe I found these. They needed to be girlie but not overdone. I found these and believe it or not, lime green ones JUST the same color as the green in the sweater. I kept laying each ones over the buttonholes to try and decide and then went with the purple ones. The green ones kind of took something away from the green garter ridges in the middle. They matched too perfectly they were almost hidden and no one wants to hide a good button let alone a great one. I went with the purple because you could see them and it helped really set off the garter ridges. They were just perfect. Also, I knew the Mary Jane's were going to be green with lavender buttons too so I wanted to keep it consistent. Now, onto those Mary Jane's...


 Terminal cuteness!


A person could just pass right out from cuteness overload with these tiny little Mary Jane's! And those buttons! The buttons were so fun and perfect for these. Now it was all done...all together now...


All of the photographs were taken outside on our portal and the colors you see are very true. I think I am going to try and photograph little knitted items like this outside from now on because the color is so much better. I loved doing this set, I really did. I joked about how I wanted to keep it but had no reason to. It isn't like I'm going to have a wee one! I truly was so excited to gift this to Heidi and her husband Todd and little baby Bentley who will be arriving in just a couple short weeks, maybe a little sooner. When it arrived at her place and she opened it she immediately sent me a message on Facebook letting me know just how much she loved it and that she was so thankful. I think I spent the rest of the afternoon smiling because I knew she was happy with it. There's nothing cuter than sweet, beautiful, and perfect hand knits for kids and babies!

Okay, now remember at the beginning of this post when I told you that the Baby Sweater Movement wasn't over yet?! Its not. I found the sweetest little pattern for a short sleeved sweater...and then I had an idea. I've decided to make matching sweaters for my Goddaughter Alia and her older sister Savannah! Each of them have a sweater from me, now they need matching ones! You can read about Savannah's sweater here....and you can read about Alia's sweater here. Making Savannah's first sweater was all about learning for me. I had never made a garment before and needed to learn how to do it. What better way than to start out on a child's garment? I didn't take a lot of progress pics of that first one. I also learned how not to make sleeves and that, for me, using a row counter was much more accurate than measuring for sleeve length. I got an education and Savannah got a sweater which fit her beautifully. I was so paranoid that it wasn't going to fit almost the entire time I was making it. Alia's sweater was only my second one and first baby sweater. It gave me a chance to use some of the information I gained when making Savannah's sweater. At the same time it also showed me other places where I needed to improve. In general, I was furthering my education in garment making. Alia's sweater came out beautifully but by the time Heidi's was done, I was confident in even taking a few liberties with the pattern here and there. These matching sweaters will not be difficult to make, its not a difficult pattern. But my abilities have improved and I know they will technically be better sweaters. Here is a pic of the sweater which each of them will be receiving...

 Photo copyright to Rachel, or Ravelry user name Reward

I have gone to Knit Picks again for yarn and will be using Shine Worsted, again. I chose the color called Currant which, from its picture, is a beautiful dark shade of red. It may be a purple red, I'm not sure. I'll know in about 5 days when it all arrives! I cant wait to start them and I will as soon as the yarn arrives. Many of my friends have "Year of the Sweater," or "Year of the Shawl," or "Year of Whatever" to describe their annual knitting trends. For me, I am having a "Year of the Baby Sweater!" I've been wanting to get back to my designing but its kinda been a rough year. Certainly a rough few months here. I'm not going to stress over it too much. I started a new shawl, a DK crescent shaped shawl which is another first for me. I done lots of crescents but none in a DK weight yarn so its exciting for me. I have plans to start a rectangular lace shawl but just haven't done it yet. Hopefully I can get that cranked out before the year is up though. I have one completed shawl that is with Phydeaux Designs and is being test knitting and when its released it will be done through them for the first 90 days, then it comes back to me. I really cannot wait for that one to be released. Hopefully within the next month, I'm not sure. It's a process that's taken a lot longer than I ever anticipated but again, this is something that's new to me. I've never released a pattern through someone else other than myself. Patience will pay I am positive. 

Audrey Grace has been spending her time sleeping next to me as I write this evening. Love this little girl!


Would love to hear what you are all up to and what you're knitting. Perhaps your best sweater making advice?? Have a wonderful evening where ever you are and until next time...Knit on!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Little Tea & A Little Knitting ...

Are you a coffee or tea drinker? or neither ? Up until just a few years ago my coffee was religion to me. Then I married my ex-husband who's Mother is English. Very English. Cuppa in the morning and afternoon like clockwork English. But I've come to learn that most of the English are that way. Tea is a religion to them like coffee is to many Americans. And English tea is different than American tea. I know this because on my folks last trip across the pond my ex Mother-In-Law sent home about a pound of good black English tea for us and my parents. My Moms suitcase still smells like Yorkshire Gold! I became a tea drinker overnight but without abandoning my coffee. I still love my coffee. But I also LOVE a good cuppa. I like mine sweetened and with milk or half & half.

For years I have loved and adored all things English. I follow the Royals very closely and have received Royalty Magazine for a couple years now which is fantastic. You get all the Royals not just the English ones. I love British television programs. I think in many ways British TV is much better than American. I don't mean at all to sound UN-American, but I must tell you of my love of all things English so that you can understand just how much of a big deal it was to me to have proper English tea. I have attended events that were presented in High Tea fashion which is to say wonderful teas were served along with their courses of savories, breads, and sweets. But I had never attended a tea event with just a few friends to see what that was like. Here in Albuquerque, if you want to attend a proper English tea, you go to the Saint James Tearoom. I had never been before. I have been hearing stories of the several times my Mom and Betty have been but have never been myself. I was beginning to get a little jealous truth be told! This last time they went to tea they all agreed that the next time would be reserved for a time when I could go...when I wasn't in the hospital! So, reservations were made for 11:00am tea this past Friday. Mom, Betty, our friend Dee, and I got all gussied up and went to the Tearoom. I was so excited! I knew, being the person I am, that I would be taking LOTS of pictures. I was blown away by everything, absolutely everything. The grounds were gorgeous, all the people who worked at the tearoom were dressed in English maid uniforms. It was fabulous. I'll get to the pics because there are a lot of them....

It started when we first pulled up...

The grounds of the Tearoom are absolutely gorgeous. Very lush and peaceful...
 

 I wished I'd have gotten pics of the entrance into the tearoom but it was quite crowded. I can tell you that when we first walked in it was immediately into part of the gift shop. The gift shop was SO extensive. From cute things for babies and tea sets for young kids to hats and fascinators that could be purchased. They even had a selection of hats to choose from should you desire to wear one. There were beautiful tea sets everywhere. There were old fashioned shaving kits for men too and by the price I think they were plated in gold. Colognes, lotions, jewelry, and any tea accessory you could possibly think of. And the tea sets! Oh, the tea sets! They had very affordable sets and sets where one cup alone was $150.00 let alone its matching pot at $450.00! Again it would have been nearly impossible to get photographs of the gift area because of the number of people that were there. This is were everyone sort of waits for the tea chime to ring. When it does it means they are beginning to seat everyone. There were just 4 of us so we got a little nook all to ourselves with a curtain that pulled back for privacy. When they are seating you you pass wonderful things! Art and tapestries and this...


This helps the guests find their way back to their seating should they need to go to the loo (bathroom) during tea. Here is a picture of our nook on the way out. I didn't think to get the picture on the way in so there are empty glasses on the table here but it was fabulous! The name of our nook was Munstead Wood...


We were seated and waited on by a wonderful girl named Dominique. When we arrived there was a hot pot of tea on the table for us to begin with. I do not remember its name but it was amazingly good. We arrived to a table set just for us and welcoming us personally...


 There was a exquisitely framed copy of our menu for the day, the teas we would be having and the food too...


Each menu is created around a theme or a person or a story. It just...it was wonderful. Just wonderful. All the very fine little attention to detail, I couldn't believe it. We started on the first pot of tea...


They had both regular sugar and lumps, if you cared for either in your tea. And real creme. It was so wonderful. I highly recommend...if you are a tea drinker and have not had an experience like this before please look up in your area and see if they have a tearoom you can pay a visit to. You wont regret it but rather spend a lot of time wondering why you didn't do it sooner. After we'd had some tea Dominique arrived with our food. The attention to detail and artistry with the food was simply divine.


And this is Dominique! See how she is dressed?! Every person working and walking around in there was dressed this way. Lovely! She is standing by our curtain which was kept pulled for our privacy.


Its hard to say what my favorite part of the meal was. It was all so good. The breads were incredible. And in the center there? Yeah, that's real lemon curd and clotted creme next to it. The scones just melted in your mouth. The others were like little sticky buns but with white raisins and currants and nuts. Just wonderful. The dessert section was a no brainer, I knew I would love that. On the top level were egg salad sandwiches with fresh parsley along the edges, little cups of chicken salad so good I wanted a 2 inch think sandwich of it, cherry tomato and melon with basil cups and prosciutto wrapped asparagus which was no less than awesome. In the dessert section were coconut cookies (the ones that look like Madeleine's), mini creme puffs and chocolate cookies with chocolate creme on top. With each layer of the meal came a new tea. And each tea was paired with the food so beautifully!

Here is a fantastic picture of Mom...


And Dee...


And Auntie Betty...


 Everything around was beautiful. I found myself taking pictures of things like our window...I thought the view was gorgeous...


 On the little table between Mom and I sat a stained glass butterfly/angel lamp. The sun was shining on it just so...


And another window in the tearoom...


 When we left the tearoom I took a few more pictures outside. There was one particular flower that I had to shoot. It was the essence of what this entire experience was all about. It was beautiful, colorful, the sun shined on it in all the right places, it was delicately put together, there was no attention to detail that was missed....


I cannot wait to go back the next time. It truly was an adventure in tea! I hope you have the chance to have a similar experience where ever you live. Going to a tearoom may not sound like all the much but it truly was a maiden voyage I will not forget. You can visit their website for more pictures of different nooks and different seating arrangements for larger parties... its a great site.
The St. James Tearoom

I did take my knitting though I knew the instant I arrived I wouldn't be knitting. At all. But I have been knitting and ever starting knew things and getting back to some old things that have been sitting for far too long. Like this one. I am finally getting back to this one. This is Sidney's Cornwall Coast. All I need to do is finish up the border and she's ready to go! So I pulled this one out to work on it...


We have a friend in knitting group who is getting married soon and several of us have made squares to put be together into a blanket for her. This was the first one I did for her...


And this is the second one that I have going for it. It's the same pattern just a different color. Its actually all I had available in worsted weight yarn. I don't normally have a lot of that around. I work in mainly fingering weights or lace weights...


I made these for my "Fairy" Goddaughter Alia and they were so precious it was hard to give them away! Not that I would have any use for them but still. But "awwww" factor. And even with little gold ladybug buttons!


Little Mary Janes! Too cute. And as if I didn't already have a lot going on and what feels like a million different WIP's...I had to start another. The yarn is amazing and I have been wanting to work with it for some time now. I CO for a shawl. The body will be done in just plain garter. I don't want to interrupt all that wonderful color in there. Lace will go on the edging when I get there...


Isn't the color amazing!? I shot it this way so I could get an accurate pic of the color of this yarn. Its from Phydeaux Designs and all of her yarns are absolutely amazing. If you haven't been over there to check her out yet please do. You will not be disappointed.

Today is definitely a tea day. I am drinking Yorkshire Red from England and its fabulous. I am going to put a movie on a knit. Maybe fall asleep. I decided to take this week "off." I did not go to stitch group today, I am not going to knitting tomorrow. The only thing I am doing is the Opera on Wednesday. That's it. I've been so tired and I'm still not fully well yet and I've been doing too much, plain and simple. I need to recognize that and haven't been. So this week is a lazy week of knitting, watching movies, and napping because its what my body needs to get over being sick for so long. I will miss all my peeps but I know they understand. Thanks for taking my tea adventure with me! I took all the pics for you!

Let me know what you are all up to...tea or coffee? crochet or knitting? movie or TV show? Until next time my friends....knit on!