Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Festival of Lanterns

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Well, it sounds like from the comments that I was not the only one who was under the weather at the end of last year and the beginning of this one! I am feeling much better, although the fatigue continues.... I hope you all are feeling better as well!

We live very close to Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, so when we found out a Chinese Lantern Festival was there, we knew we wanted to check it out.

Then, we waited until the very last day we could possibly go. =) So the night before I was leaving for my girls' weekend, I raced home from work, dashed around packing and making some food, and then we headed over! We arrived just before the last performance of the night (9pm). The performances were mixed; the dancing was just OK, but there was a face changer and an instrumentalist that were both great!

The lanterns varied widely in terms of both subject matter and size, and it made for a beautiful display. They ranged from "normal" sized hanging lanterns...
...to 20 foot (7 meter) tall "palace lanterns".
I'll save the very largest one for the end of the post. =)

There were a lot of couples taking selfies under the heart arches. :)

I really liked this display, inspired by Chinese porcelain, even though it was outlined in LEDs rather than being a traditional lantern.
The giant ferris wheel is not part of the festival; it's just across the street from the Park and is semi-permanent. To the left, you can see part of the snowflake walk (which was kind of a mish-mash of LED snowflakes and reindeer and Santa Claus lanterns). The only criticism we had about the Festival (well, along with the price!) was that the displays weren't visually separate enough in some cases. I think they would be better displayed in a garden setting where you had trees or bushes to break up the views so the different vignettes didn't compete with each other so much.

I liked these fish.
The sign beside them told me (verbatim!), "The form of each festival is a sedimentation process of the history and culture of a country. ... The pronunciation of fish in Chinese is the same as surplus which means people can have remains in wealth and food for next year."

Which was informative and hilarious. I'm kind of surprised they didn't have a native speaker help with these signs, since the Festival was sponsored by the Hilton Garden Inn and had its logo plastered on each sign.

Of course we had to have a dragon!!
You can see how detailed some of the bigger lanterns were. This dragon was actually as long as his counterpart...

the phoenix!!
Isn't he spectacular?? Both the dragon and phoenix were about 50 feet (16-17 meters) long!! I kind of expected there to be a rooster since the Year of the Rooster is coming up, but this guy was definitely an acceptable substitute. ;)

JiffNotes
I'd tell you to go see the Chinese Festival of Lanterns in Centennial Olympic Park, but of course we procrastinated going to see it so long that we went on the last day.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Long Weekend of Gorgeousness

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I just got back from a long weekend with "the girls" in Highlands, NC. A good friend has a condo there and allows us all to descend on her and her husband and plop ourselves in comfy chairs to stitch for the weekend from time to time. There is much laughter and food and fun. And stitching. Oh, yes, there is stitching! While some like to stitch on one thing the whole weekend (those people that actually finish things), OTHERS of us tend to bring enough stitching for six months and flit from project to project like a hummingbird on Pixy Stix. I pretty much switched projects every time we stopped to eat a meal.

Since I'd been knitting for so long, and I just "reorganized" my WIPs, I really brought a random selection of projects that would travel well. (Read: I grabbed whatever I could find that wasn't mounted on a frame or stored in a giant container.) Here's what I ended up stitching on (yes, there were even a few things I brought that did not see the light of day)...

Purrfect Christmas Santa (Jim Shore) from Mill Hill
Always good to have a "my eyes are too darn tired to see much of anything" project along.

In Full Glory by Blackbird Designs
You might remember this from the Lottlympiad. It's a conversion to Gloriana silks by Jean Lea at The Attic.

Bluebell by Nora Corbett (Mirabilia)
I did not get too much done on her (tired eyes!) Someone asked why I started her at the bottom...there is a little swirl in the fabric that I wanted her to be "skipping over", so I had to place her feet first. =) See that cute little bee skep pincusion at the bottom? That was part of my Christmas gift from our hostess that I forgot to take a picture of when I took this picture:
Can you believe she found a bag with a knitting squirrel on it?? And the other squirrel there is holding hand sanitizer. I don't know which of those two needle minders I love best! Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, she ALSO gave me...
This gorgeous squirrel canvas!! She is trying to tempt me to the dark side (needlepoint). I think it's working... ;) She also gave us cute goodie bags with things like hand moisturizer, scissors, and that super-cool green twisting needle case. You twist it like a tube of lipstick and it fans out your needles like an old-fashioned soda shop straw dispenser! I am fascinated and may have played with it like a 5-year-old....

I was really excited to work on Prancer (by Mirabilia)!
Although, technically, I did not stitch on poor Prancer, just his GIANT Christmas stocking. It's big enough to fit a tree in! Oh, gargantuan stocking, where were you when I was a kid???

Peacock Cypher by Just Nan
If you've never seen this piece before, you may be thinking, "What language is that??" Well, it is a code (hence the "Cypher" in the title). It's difficult to explain without seeing the whole piece, but you need to find a letter that makes the words make sense. I'd tell you what it is, but Nan assures you in her directions that if you reveal the secret, all your needles will rust and all your stitches will unravel! =)

Castles by the Sea by Teresa Wentzler
I bet not many of you have seen this piece. It was taught at a retreat in 2004. I am changing the verse. Here's what the original looks like:

Finally, I tried something new this weekend...soutache embroidery!
The kit makes three snowflakes, and I got four out of six pieces of the first snowflake (the right-most one in the picture) done. I wish you could see how sparkly this really is! One of the pieces of soutache is an iridescent pearl.

I have already identified this as one of my Theme-tas-stitch 2017 projects for Focus Finish February! What's that? You haven't heard of Theme-tas-stitch? The wonderful Kerryp77 at Ramblings of a Biscornu Addict kindly contacted me to ask if I'd mind if she hosted a SAL reminiscent of my Theme-a-licious SAL from years past. I was happy to give her the "go-ahead"! And I'm thrilled to participate in a themed SAL that I don't have to host. ;)


I am linking up with Jo at Serendipitous Stitching for Gifted Gorgeousness 2017, because I posted about some really lovely gifts I received, a friend gave me the gift of stitching time, and I learned about soutache embroidery (I am getting the gift of knowledge!) ;)

JiffNotes
I came, I sat, I stitched (on a girls' weekend away). I'm excited for Theme-tas-stitch!!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Finished Object Friday: Pointelle Socks

Let's all get in the Wayback Machine and look at some socks I finished in 2015!
These are Pointelle, by Cookie A (Ravelry project link)

Somewhere in my stash, there is a ball band that would identify this yarn, but I know not where it is! I know it was a Cookie A Sock Club exclusive yarn, and has a delightful high twist that really makes the stitches pop. I decided to knit this pattern rather than whatever patterns came with the yarn.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year, Maybe More Blogging?

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Well, looks like I fell off the blogging wagon again.

Work has been soul-crushing; I won't bore you here. I was so looking forward to the holidays, and then three days before Christmas, I came down with the flu. This meant I had to miss Christmas Eve services (my favorite thing all year!) and Christmas day with my family. Fortunately we were all together on New Year's Day, so I at least got a kind of makeup Christmas. :) Michael got it after Christmas (plus bonus bronchial infection!) and it has continued to kick our butts for weeks and weeks.

The good news is that we took our 14-year-old niece/goddaughter to Disney World for the first time ever before I got sick, and she loved it. I won't lie; I was worried...after all, she IS a teenager! But after about 3 hours at the Magic Kingdom, she said, "I think I'd like some ears..." and my heart grew three sizes. ;)

I have not been stitching at all; I signed up for Loopy Academy again, AND decided to make my sister a shawl for Christmas, so it's been all knitting all the time. I do have a lot of finishes to share...it looks like I haven't talked about Loopy Academy since Freshman year, and I just finished the first semester of Junior year!

One stitching finish I had last year that I never blogged about was...the second of Nora Corbett's Christmas Eve Couriers!
Named, appropriately, Dancer. =)

At the rate I am going, I will be done with all eight when I am 70 years old.

Of course, I immediately started Prancer.
Aaaaand, I haven't touched it for six months. Prancer's going on a weekend retreat with me, though! Not an "official" retreat, just a very kind friend who has a vacation condo and lets some of us girls come crash every now and then.

JiffNotes
Good thing I never make resolutions or do year-end wrap-up posts...

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Lottlympiad 2016 Finale (Finally!)

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Majestic drums and fanfare play over a swooping graphic of Five Rings...

Bob: HOLD IT! CUT!

Needle rips* and music stops

Bob: Shhh...Jim will think we're doing a broadcast.

Rebecca: But Bob, we are doing a broadcast.

Bob: Yes, but we're trying to lure Jim out of the broom closet. Now move that fan a little to the right.

Rebecca: Got it.

Jim: *faintly* Is that steak I smell?

Bob: Jim, how long has it been since you've eaten? Come out of there.

Jim: *door creaks open* That does smell delicious.

Bob: Yes, Jim, there's a bunch of food from a churrascaria out on the deck. Why don't you go outside and have some?

Jim: Is it safe?

Bob: *sighs* Yes, Jim, it's perfectly safe. Go ahead.

Gaucho: Olá, senhor, gostaria Alguns bife?

Jim: BOB, THAT'S A BRAZILIAN!!!**

Bob: QUICK, REBECCA, GET THE DOOR!

*door slams*

Jim: *muffled* Bob, let me back in!! *trailing off* Oooo...steak....

Bob: Jim will be fine, ladies and gentlemen. It's taken so long to come up with a good plan to dislodge him from that broom closet that both Games have come and gone, and we really do need to vacate the International Broadcast Center. So let's keep this wrap up short and sweet! First, Tom and Atto have reported that a Bronze medal was earned in the Patriotic Relay. Let's take a look.


Rebecca: Very inspiring, Bob. Or it would be, if that were my country's flag.

Bob: Ah, yes. Well. Let's go out to Dan and Rowdy for the results of the WIP Medley.

Dan: Thanks, Bob. To get the Bronze here, you had to make a complete circuit of the pool, and that's just what happened. Right, Rowdy?

Rowdy: Dan, can you believe it?? To come all the way around, and match up exactly like that, it's just UNBELIEVABLE!!

Dan: Just take a look at that.


Rowdy: UNBELIEVABLE!! I gotta calm down, Dan. I'm starting to get excited way too early.

Dan: The water started to look a little rough after that, Rowdy, as we moved on in the Medley.


Rowdy: Ohh, I don't know, Dan. That looks bad. Can we even make a silver?

Dan: Choppy waters ahead, Bob.

Bob: Thank you, Dan, we'll check back with you later. Now Dave and Heather will give us the results of Synchronized Shawling.

Dave: Bob, we've seen a lot of formation changes in Synchronized Shawling. Heather, what did you think of this one?

Heather: Dave, this is definitely an improvement in technique for the team. They are really nailing the basics now, and that's a good step towards more complex arrangements and higher difficulty.


Dave: Good enough for a Silver, in fact.

Heather: Yes, but let's look at this next effort. Just look at the increased intricacy, the smaller distance of separation.


Dave: Looks like a Gold medal to me! Hey, is that supposed to be the Rio torch?

Heather: Ummm...hard to say. Let's just enjoy the Gold medal performance.

Dave: A great display of athleticism and "artistry" here, Bob. Back to you.

Bob: Thank you, Dave. Rebecca, do we have an update from Dan and Rowdy?

Rebecca: Bob, Dan has reported that against all odds, a Silver was earned in the WIP Medley. You know things were looking rather rough before.

Bob: Are we ready to go to them live?

Rebecca: Sorry, Bob, it sounds like Dan is administering smelling salts to Rowdy. He sent along this shot of the Silver medal finish.


Bob: Looks great. I hope Rowdy's OK.

Rebecca: Well, Bob, he has four years to recover now, so I'm sure he will be fine.

Bob: I guess that's true. So, Rebecca, do we have an update on the Chore Steeplechase?

*both laugh uproariously*

Rebecca: *wiping tears from eyes* Did you really think there would be? Of course not. Ironing! Honestly, Bob.

Bob: Just checking. Finally, let's go out to Paul and Christian for the conclusion of (re)Cycling.

Paul: Bob, when we left you last, there were bumps in the road and wet weather coming. But I think you can see that everything washed out and now it's smooth going.


Christian: Oooo, what a turnaround there! Do you even remember the uneven terrain before?

Paul: Yes, this Silver medal performance is pretty amazing when you consider how things were looking.

Christian: It really set things up for a Gold medal, too! Just look!


Paul: That is a picture-perfect photo finish, Christian! Back to you, Bob.

Bob: Thank you, Paul. So by my count, that makes 5 Bronze medals, 3 Silvers and 2 Gold medals. Not a record setting effort, but still respectable.

Rebecca: Yes, Bob, it was--

*door bursts open*

Jim: BOB!!!

Bob: Uh oh.

Jim: This food is AMAZING!!

Bob: That's...that's great, Jim!

Jim: Oh my gosh, and have you tried frescobol?? It is SO FUN!

Bob: Jim, about a month ago, there was a demo--

Jim: And the people here! They are SO NICE!!

Bob: Yes, Jim, I know.

Jim: Well, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?

Bob: Jim, we've been trying--

Jim: I am having SUCH a great time! I met a lot of great people and they told me how to make the national drink, and I learned how to play beach football, and I really want to play some more, and tomorrow there is going to be a pick up tournament, and--

Bob: Jim.

Jim: --and they promised to teach me how to tie a canga the right way and I can't WAIT to go see more of the country and--

Bob: Jim!

Jim: --and a couple of beautiful girls invited me out tonight to learn to samba dance and I am SO EXCITED and--

Bob: JIM!!!

Jim: WHAT, Bob?

Bob: Our flight home leaves in an hour.

Jim: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Rebecca: Sorry, Jim.

Bob: Well, folks, that's it for the 2016 Lottlympiad. We'll say konnichiwa to you in Japan in four years! Say obrigato, Jim!

*Jim sobs quietly in the background*

JiffNotes
Thus ends another "thrilling" and "timely" Lottlympiad. You can check out past Lottlympiad coverage for more antics from Jim and Bob.

*For you youngsters out there, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, music was delivered on "records", and sound was produced by running a needle through the grooves. A universal TV/movie "meme" was someone stopping a party by sliding the needle off the record, resulting in a kind of "ripping" noise. Eventually, you didn't even need to see anyone touch a record, and that ripping noise was a universal sign that someone had done something shocking enough to stop any action.

**Jim had a bad experience in London with communication difficulties, and is now terrified of embarrassing himself in front of anyone from another country.

Old Geek-outs