Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lottlympiad Medal Controversy!

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Bob: Welcome to the second Lottlympiad update. There's been a flurry of activity, and very little sleep in the past nine days. To catch us up to date, let's go live to Al, Tim and Elfie.

Al: Thank you, Bob. We're coming to you live from the LottLoft, with a breaking controversy over medal award levels here in the Peacock Dressage.

Tim: That's right, Al. The stated Bronze medal level for the Peacock Dressage was to complete the top part. But now we hear that the Silver medal has been given out for reaching this level!

Al: How could this happen? Elfie?

Elfie: Well, Al, it seems that our stitcher has had most of the Bronze level complete for days and days. However, with lighting conditions being what they are...

Tim: It's shocking, really.

Elfie: ...the last step, the beads, could not be applied until daylight hours were available.

Al: And we all know what's important in beading.

Tim: You've got to stick it, Al. Stick and stab.

Elfie: But the sticking is the most important part.

Tim: That's right, Elfie.

Al: But how did this result in the Silver medal being issued?

Elfie: It turns out that the stitcher poured out some beads, and when the beading was complete, she had poured out the exact number needed!

Tim: Wow.

Al: No more, no less?

Elfie: No more, no less.

Tim: WOW.

Al: So the Head Judge suggested that this was a performance worthy of the Silver medal. I guess that's the Home Field Advantage coming through. We've seen it time and again. So let's take a look at the results...

Tim: WOW!

Elfie: This work has exactly the kind of quality we all look for.

Al: Such as?

Elfie: Qualities that define quality work.

Tim: Absolutely!

Elfie: And you have to stick it.

Tim: Yes, otherwise that is a one-tenth deduc--

Al: We've also reached the Bronze medal level in Synchronized Shawling.

Tim: WOW!! Just look at the match we have here! It's like we're looking at one side of a shawl, twice!

Al: Except one side has way more done.

Tim: Of course, there's a little deduction there.

Elfie: There have been allegations that this matching wouldn't have been possible without a little "adjustment" on the start date.

Al: Decide for yourself. Is it possible that two skeins could start at exactly the same place?

Tim: Let's just all remember that equipment preparation prior to eventing is perfectly acceptable. For instance, winding part of a skein off in the car on the way to work in the morning when you're too brain-dead to do anything else...that's not cheating. And, anyway, there was definitely some over-achieving in the Bronze category of the Tubey Tornado.

Elfie: Yes. I was told that when the medal levels were set, it was thought that fewer stripes were done than actually were. But rather than count those ahead to the medal, the correct number of stripes were actually knitted. So this is definitely a Silver medal performance.

Tim: Wow. What's up with the sides there?

Al: To the uneducated viewer, it looks like that was meant to be waist decreasing.

Elfie: Oh, my. That step out of bounds is a one-tenth deduc--

Al: Well, that's all from here. There has also been a report of a Bronze and Silver in the Bead Relay, but we don't have a photo finish yet.

Bronze in Synchronized Shawling, Silver in Bead Relay, Silver in Peacock Dressage, and Silver in the Tubey Tornado!! And if you haven't watched as much gymnastics as I have over the past week, you probably didn't get any of that...sorry. =)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lottlympiad, Update 1

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Bob: Hello and welcome to the first Lottlympic update, on day 4 of the games!

Jim: Wait, Bob, that should be day 3.

Bob: What?

Jim: It's day 3. You know, Saturday, Sunday, is Monday: Day 3.

Bob: No, Jim, it's DAY FOUR. Friday was the first day...

Jim: But the only thing that happened Friday was the Opening Cermonies! And that was at night!

Bob: Actually, Jim, that's not true; there were soccer games that day, as well as other preliminaries...

Jim: But the Opening Ceremonies was the start! And that didn't end until, like, midnight. If a soccer game started after that, it would have been the next day, or "day two" by your count. Note that I'm doing air-quotes with my fingers right now.

Bob: Well, Jim, there are events going on before the Opening Ceremonies. Soccer was earlier in the day. And shooting, I believe. And, the Ceremonies started at 8am Eastern anyway, so...

Jim: Wait a minute. What are you talking about? 8am? It was dark there, man! You can't have fireworks during the day! Are you telling me Bejing is like Siberia, where it's dark for half the year?

Bob: No, Jim, it was 8am here. It was 8pm in Beijing; that's why it was dark. We're 8 hours behind Bejing. And it's only dark in Siberia during the Winter, not the Summer.

Jim: There's at least two things wrong with that statement. If it's 8am here when it's 8pm in Bejing, then we're ahead of them, not behind. Ahead, Bob.

Bob: No...we're behind. It's already tomorrow morning in Beijing.

Jim: Oh, I guess that's how you're coming up with one extra day. "Day Four"...I gotcha. Let's keep going with you and your crazy "future time". I'm air-quoting again, Bob.

Bob: No, Jim, that's not how I'm...nevermind. What's the other thing?

Jim: What?

Bob: The other thing wrong with my statement. You said there were two things wrong with my statement.

Jim: Oh,'s totally Winter in Siberia right now, because it's Summer here. You know, they're East of the Prime Median or whatever.

Bob: Meridian.

Jim: Yeah, Meridian.

Bob: Uh-hunh. Moving on... I'm afraid the Opening Ceremonies passed by without any participation in the Lottlympiad.

Jim: But things picked up on day one...I mean, "day two". We've already reached the Bronze Medal level in the Autumn Jewels Clean and Jerk.

Bob: That's right, Jim. A stunning one-day effort, especially considering most of the day was taken up with chores...unfortunately, none of them in the Chore Steeplechase event.

Jim: Yeah. Now, this is an interesting stance we're seeing in the Clean and Jerk. Can you explain what's going on here, Bob?

Bob: Jim, it looks like our stitcher is trying to capture the very last of the fading daylight to complete some detached buttonhole.

Jim: Ah, yes. She is working with some non-standard materials, isn't she?

Bob: Yes. She didn't care for the original orange chrysanthemum, so she changed it to a lovely shade of deep rose. Unfortunately, detached buttonhole in that color provided completely unworkable in anything but daylight. In this shot, she was trying to complete the last row.

Jim: But didn't she do one too many rows?

Bob: Normally she's a very good instruction follower. She blames poor short-term memory for her increased row count.

Jim: So she could have been done earlier.

Bob: Best not to bring that up, Jim.

Jim: That's some bumpy, curly detached buttonhole, Bob.

Bob: It's certainly not the best I've seen, Jim. But it's done! And quantity is what's counting in this Lottlympiad. As wiser souls would say, "If it looks OK from the back of a running horse..."

Jim: So that was all Saturday. What happened Sunday?

Bob: We don't have any shots from Sunday, but we've received reports of progress in the Tubey Tornado and the Peacock Dressage.

Jim: Will we have more medal progress after tonight?

Bob: Only time will tell.

Jim: So I was right! Day three! There hasn't been any activity today!!

Bob: Say goodnight, Jim.

Jim: Goodnight, Jim!

Bronze in the Autumn Jewels Clean and Jerk!! Chances for gold in the Tubey Tornado and Peacock Dressage are looking mighty slim....

Sunday, August 10, 2008


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A few weeks ago was Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week, when downtown restaurants come up with special prix fixe menu for $25 per person. This can be an OK value or a stunningly great value. This year we only had time to partake at two of the restaurants, Maxim Prime and Room. Guess who the winner was. =)

I neglected to take pictures at Maxim Prime. They are located off a hotel lobby, but the foyer is walls with backlit purple foliage trailing all over them. This motif continues into the circular stairwell, which takes you to the rather small restaurant. The decor is understated and mildly interesting once you're up there. The food was excellent for a hotel restaurant, but I probably wouldn't go back. The service...meh. It may have been because they were busy, because it was DARW, or because we didn't order alcohol, but none of those are good excuses.

When we went to Room, we thought ahead and invited the lovely Maria to join us. Her other half is in Colorado right now, but she's more fun, anyway. ;) Plus, she remembered her camera.
The decor's still nothing to write home about, although we were enamoured of the candle holders (which had stems of beads on bendy wire and were more fun than crayons and placemats)...
...and fancy virgin drinks. The sushi was competent, though not outstanding. Their sushi offerings seemed to be standard rather than innovative.

The drinks were very yummy...
...though $7 for a virgin drink (essentially just a mix of fruit juices) was, I thought, way too much. Cocktails were at least twice that. The goat cheese and arugula salad, though...
...YUM! It compared favorably with Maxim's version. While the goat cheese in Maxim's was shaved (scwunh? Who ever heard of shaved goat cheese), you could actually taste the plentiful portion of goat cheese in this one. It had all the salad components I require...fruit, cheese and nuts! Not to mention the great sugar snap peas! (Oh, wait...I just did.) I nearly licked the plate.

Here, Michael eyes his "Warm Gougeres". We had to look that one up when we were perusing menus while deciding which restaurants to visit. These included prosciutto.
They tasted like teeny ham sandwiches. Good, not incredible.

The best part about dining with three? You can share and each taste...
...all... ...of the entrees.
That's the aforementioned lovely Maria, holding the seared tuna (yum). My tenderloin, at the top, was very good. Michael's lamb, in the middle was good, but its accompaniments were ridiculous! We think we tasted peaches and fresh mint puree in amongst the capers and mashed potatoes. I gotta try to recreate it!

And dessert..., yeah. Can you tell it was good by how we forgot to take the picture until we'd already dug in?? Carrot cake, no raisins, with an icing somewhere between the plain cream cheese (ugh) and overly sugary versions I hate. Well, I don't really hate the overly sugary versions, actually, but I feel like this icing is a great compromise for "normal" people. =) The mousse cake with raspberry sauce was the perfect strength and density; not too heavy and not so light you wondered if you'd put anything in your mouth. Kind of like dessert with Goldilocks...just right. The three layers had different textures, just to keep things interesting.

If you're interested in dining at Room, they have their own "restaurant week" with some sister restaurants (most of which are also excellent) next week. I believe the menu for Room will be the same.

You gotta catch Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week...and bring a friend.

Friday, August 8, 2008

League of My Own

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Stitching Olympics, Knitting Olympics, Ravelympics, it seems like that's all I'm hearing!! Well, I've been so busy, I haven't had time to formulate a grand plan like casting on my first ever lace shawl during the Opening Ceremonies and binding it off during the Closing Ceremonies or finishing 20 UFOs or knitting an entire anything, really. But I am looking forward to increased crafting time. So I came up with some events for me, with medals in each. I had to add a "Platinum" medal in a couple...and I added a "Bonus" category to a few, too, which is not a medal but a reward for getting everything else done.

Bead Relay
Bronze: Finish unspecified gift
Silver: Redo dragon stitch holders
Gold: Finish Jing Quo necklace and earrings
Platinum: Make black/white earrings

Chore Steeplechase
Bronze: Send in passport application
Silver: Sew on all missing buttons/beads in mending pile
Gold: Fix ripped seams, alter pillowcases
Platinum: Make Tech volleyball shirt

Synchronized Shawling
Bronze: Complete second endpiece of Herringbone Block Shawl
Silver: Add 5 blocks
Gold: Knit enough blocks to match the first piece
Platinum: Finish. Bwahahahahaaaa…

Tubey Tornado (a sailing event)
Bronze: Complete 2 colored stripes
Silver: Complete 4 stripes
Gold: Complete the sweater!
Bonus: Cast on /swatch bamboo tank or Molly sweater

Autumn Jewels Clean & Jerk
Bronze: Finish chrysanthemum and verse
Silver: Finish stitching
Gold: Finish border
Bonus: Start Spring Jewels or Spring Garden Gate

Peacock Dressage
Bronze: Finish top of Peacock Cypher
Silver: Finish first page of Peacock Cypher
Gold: Work on Peacock Tapestry
Platinum: Finish half of Peacock Cypher

Is this doable? Probably not. Realistic? Not even close. Fun anyway? You betcha.

Go USA!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ornament Exchange

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Today's eye candy will be in the "way more sane" level of bandwidth.

Saturday night we exchanged our Ornament Exchange kits. If you're interested in how the exchange works, I talked about it last year. The program I wrote to match everyone up is, I believe, the main reason some of the group call me "The Magic That Is Heather" (or TMTIH for quicker typing). Anyway, Debbie (no blog) put us all in the mood at the very beginning of the weekend by putting up a small tree displaying her completed Emie Bishop hardanger hearts...
Emie Bishop Tree Aren't they gorgeous?? And yes, she's done the whole collection!

I managed to "ornamentify" my Britty Kitty Poinsettia, from the JCS 2007 issue, mere days before the weekend started:

And here it is, residing with its brethren...
ornament exchange tree That's still not quite all the ornaments stitched for the exchange. I didn't get a few latecomers, not to mention that some of our members are remote. But look at that pile of kits...yowsa!! And that's not all of them, either!

The lovely Andy agreed to hand out kits...
let the madness begin! Thank goodness. Someone was yelling that the "youngest person in the room" (that would be me) had to hand them out, just like Christmas. What, people, it's not enough that I spend hours matching your kits up...I gotta hand them out, too? =) Seriously, she did a great job, and Linda provided backup by holding up the stitched ornament that went with the kit being handed out (if it was there). This was especially fun when the "surprise" ornaments were handed out. For the main exchange, you give your preferences about which ornaments you want. For the "surprise" exchange, you kit up a freebie containing specialty fibers (no DMC-only or DMC-and-metallics-only ornaments). No one knows what ornaments they're getting in exchange until that day (unless you let your secret slip. =)

Here's my haul from this year:
my kits! This is by no means the biggest pile. All told, we stitched 31 ornaments from the magazine, and 7 additional surprise ornaments. Jean gets the award for most kits...she got every single one in the regular exchange. As she always says, she has a rep to maintain. She had to carry them off in an enormous picnic basket!!

And since the surprise exchange is over, I can finally reveal my surprise ornament...this is the freebie Gazebo Tuffet from The Victoria Sampler:
tuffet I kitted it with Victoria Clayton Hand-dyed fibers. I used the Premium floss for the blackwork and black cross-stitches. This was my first time using the Premium, but it definitely won't be my last. It was fabulous to work with. The twist is tight, unlike my most-hated silk, Silk Mori, but not so tight it kinks. And since it covers 28-count over two with only one strand, I could work the blackwork as I stitched the border. That made things go so much faster than doing the border, then the blackwork. I tried that on the first corner before I realized I could do it all at once (duh!) I added some green leaves to the poinsettia, because, in my experience, poinsettias contain more green leaves than red!

This was also the first time I've made a tuffet (or biscornu). I found the stuffing a little tricky; I tend to be a tight stuffer, but I didn't want to overstuff the center so I'd have to pull the mess out of the button to get it to dimple right. I think I ended up understuffing it, but I'm still quite pleased with it. Here's a better shot of its tuffetiness:
tuffetier The lacing of the sides was done with #12 perle. The Premium floss was nearly as thick as the #12 perle, though...I could definitely see substituting it. It looks really cool hanging, although I may decide I'd rather display it as a pincushion during the holidays.

Two completely finished ornaments in one that a sign of the apocalypse? Better start praying, people. In fact, good idea regardless. =)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Enabling (Graphix Galore!)

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WARNING! This is a graphics-intensive post! If you're on dial-up, grab a cup of coffee, or bail out now, Now, NOW, I tell you!!

I promised eye candy. Maybe the volume of eye candy will make up for the lateness of this post. The stitch weekend was two weekends ago now, and I blame the lateness of the post squarely on Michael. I think it was the night before stitch weekend was to start when he called me over to the XBox 360, and showed me the Marketplace screen, which showed, in glorious Technicolor (breathtaking CinemaScope, and Stereo-phonic sound...sorry...) an expansion pack for Puzzle Crack Quest. "What are you doing to me??" I asked. "I'm just making sure you come home again," he said. Too cute. I managed to control myself during stitch weekend, suffering only the usual lack of sleep due to late-night stitching, but once I was back home, I spent copious late nights Questing. The expansion pack added a potential mount of a...Pegasus!! I mean, really, how could I resist immediately capturing it and training it to level 18 so I could watch my mini-avatar flap around on shiny, shiny wings??!?

Sorry...thanks to the all but 2 of you that had no idea what I was talking about for hanging in there. On with the eye candy, already!!

toes Oh wait...that's more like foot candy. Some of us got pedicures (and for the record, none of my coworkers have made any comments about my beflowered toes, although I wear sandals every day). Judy was horrified when I told her how long it'd been since I had a professional one (like, five years, I think...I give myself home pedicures, though!) Totally worth 23 smackers for the massage chair, leg rub, callous removal and embellishment. Michael's comment? "Your toes are like...encrusted. Weird." =)

First thing Friday, we descended on Beads by Design in Marietta. I totally copied Jean by scoring some dragon beads to make into stitch markers...
dragons I used some figure eight components, which makes them suitable only for size 3 needles and smaller, but I think I'm going to redo them with wire-wrapped loops (This is not my forte. It's not even my piano; I'm horrible at it and it takes me at least twice as long as any other human to do. There would also be twice as much cussing, if I cussed. As it is, there's twice as much indistinct mumbling.) The good news--Net stash gain: Zero!

After lunch and pedicures, we descended on Vicky's place (no blog), who was gracious enough to host us again, even though she was completely moving out THREE DAYS AFTER STITCH WEEKEND!! Even with that, she made us the cutest "party favors"...behold the pincushions in luscious fruity/vegetabley fabrics:

After completing the stitch markers, I was in a beady mood, so I pulled out a peyote and brick stitch ornament I bought about 8 years ago. live, lo- I did this weird two-rows-at-a-time version of peyote, which worked really well until I got to the letters...then, not as well. I need to time myself and see if it really is faster than doing two regular rows.

Behold the camaraderie...
chatting and stitching
relaxing and stitching

Behold the concentration...
more concentrating

Behold the comfort...
snuggled for stitching

Behold the M&M's...
M&Mmmmms Dude. These are "premium" M&M's in almond (blue), mint (green), mocha (bronze...ugh) and double chocolate (purple). They are insanely expensive and insanely good. And, I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but they are shiny. I mean, really shiny. As in, they have some kind of mottled edible metallic paint on them. Coolest of cool...and they don't have hard shells. The mint ones were sooo addictive....

Behold the WIPs!!!
Wisteria Gazebo Cathy's (no blog) Wisteria Gazebo (by The Victoria Sampler)
HAED Ann's stupendously gorgeous and impressive Heaven and Earth Designs piece (which I cannot remember the name of, but it's this Art Deco-ish fairy bedecked in animalesque patterns and shapes). Thumb included for scale...yep, it's over one! Patience of a saint, that Ann!
Heirloom Wedding Sampler Deb's (no blog) Heirloom Wedding Sampler
Rose Lady Vicky's (no blog) Lady of the Mist by Mirabilia
quaker wip Angela's (no blog) Quaker somethingorother WIP by Jane Timmers. Angela's taking a finishing class on this very soon (this week??) and somehow the kit just got to her right before the weekend!! (She made some good progress after this, tho'.) I love how she changed the black silk (ugh! on this fabric??) to this gorgeous blue.

And most importantly, BEHOLD THE CINNAMON ROLL!!!
cinnamon roll That's a ridiculously good home-made cinnamon roll, made by the fabulous Cathy (no blog). Or maybe it's a praline roll. Hard to tell with the insane amount of icing I smothered it with (just the way I likes it).

After beginning with that sugar high, we set out on Saturday to shop for beads because a couple people wanted to learn how to make the bracelet that I deliberately, with malicious enabling intent innocently put on that morning.

Behold the stash...
bead stash 1
bead stash 2
my bead stash Uh...whoops. That last is mine. I know, I know..."stash diet". In my defense, I bought the black and white beads to finish off some earrings that have been in the planning stages for a while. Speaking of planing, I meant to work on them right then, but I realized that although I had those beads with me Friday, they hadn't made it back for Saturday. I have no excuse for the silver springy beads.

Good thing Jill was there to remind me of all the niceties of how the bracelet was constructed. Don't you just love my moxy at enabling people to make something that I only vaguely remember myself and then glomming on to someone else's brain to help me remember? Anyway (my extant bracelet's in the middle)...
bracelets in progress
...they did juuuust fiiine...
Jean's bracelet Jean's bracelet
Andy's bracelet Andy's (no blog) bracelet and her lovely Baby Bug Ball WIP by Shepherd's Bush

And hey what do you know...there were even some happy dances!
Jill fob the first Jill's Two Penny Fob by Indigo Rose. This is the first of two fobs and three total happy dances Jill had during the weekend. Way to overachieve. ;)
socks! Linda's (no blog) socks...I can't remember the pattern or yarn, but I am proud of myself for not ripping them off her feet and running with them. Maybe I was able to restrain myself since it was about 95F outside.
Indigo Rose ornie Hey, that's mine! It's an ornament by Indigo Rose, and it's actually only the first of three sides. But since I did the whole thing in only a few hours, I'm keeping it in the current WIP pile. That's a blast from the past, that is, a kit from the very first Ornament Exchange.

Jill's second fob finish was a beaded pansy fob. Once I saw it, I said, hey, you know...I have that finished and unassembled, too...whattaya say we work on them together on Sunday?? Somehow, my experience with the Cubie seems to have not taught me anything. But this worked out much better, and look what we ended up with...
two of fobs Jill went with green twisted cord around her edges, while I boringly stuck to the kit's directions of adding an organza ribbon instead. I've done another one of these fobs (by Tomorrow's Antiques), a snowflake, and with that one, you just added a bead as you whipped the backstitch borders together. However, the shape of the pansy was too irregular for that to work. The directions said to tack down the ribbon and then leave a "puff" before tacking it down again. Um...yeah...say what? I ruched the whole strip before tacking it down, and although it was a close call, I made it around to the other side with a whopping 1/4" to spare!
my pansy fob Here's a better view of the ruching, hopefully.
ruching view

You may notice the glaring omission of the Ornament Exchange, the main event of the weekend. I decided this was enough craziness for one post. The ornament exchange coverage is coming soon....

We came, we saw, we stitched.

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