Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Theme-a-licious Amazon April Wrap Up

This month started off scattered, but I ended up doing pretty well, I think. My first major accomplishment was finally sewing up the sweater I had finished and blocked during the Lottlympiad last summer!
You'll get more pictures on Friday. =)

If you missed it last week, I finished my ornament, too!

I made more progress on Toccata I.
The astute observers among you (and probably even those of you in need of another cup of tea) will notice that I skipped some spots. That's so I can continue working on this during next month's theme "legitimately". I guess that shouldn't be in quotes. Because it will be "legitimately". Darn it! Legitimately. There we go. No theme-fudging. Can you guess which color I skipped?

Towards the end of the month, I focused my attention on Autumn Queen. Here's where she was mid-month:
And here's where she ended up.
That's pretty good for me, slow stitcher that I am...especially considering all the Wisper. I'm almost finished with the first card! Of three. *sob!*

Now it's time for...
Monochrome May
Pick a color, any color, then stitch only on projects that contain that color for the month!

Ornament Theme
any monochrome ornament

Whoah. Now, hang on...I know this one sounds scary. But you don't have to stitch only on projects that contain ONLY one color...you can stitch on projects with lots of colors, but you can only stitch with one of them. Are you completely lost now? =) If this sounds like too much to handle, you could just do it on the weekends, or only one night a week.

For those of you who know me IRL, and probably those of you who have been paying any attention at all, you'll be absolutely unsurprised to hear that my color will be BLUE. I should have a ton of projects to work on. =) As for my ornament, it'll be the Peace tree by M Designs.

So how did your Amazon April go? Did you make it out from under your vast swaths of fabric? Please add your link below (to your wrap up post), and visit some other Themers if you can (everyone loves comments and encouragement!) Our next post will be on the 15th of May, when we'll check in for Monochrome May!

1. TAGM: April Stitchery Wrap-Up
2. Serendipitous Jo
3. Katri
4. Tiki Stitches
5. Katie
6. Karoline

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Monday, April 29, 2013

The Geekend That Was, 4/28

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Thursday night we got a special "treat" (I am quoting this because at the time I did not want to go, though it turned out to be kind of fun) and went to a Falcons draft party at the Georgia Dome.
It was neat to be able to go down on the field...
...and into the locker rooms...
(Even though I was a little weirded out when I peeked in the showers.)
Best of all, there was free food (including the most amazing chocolate bread pudding in all of creation. I think I ate about a quart of it.)

Saturday we went to see Oz, The Great and Powerful. Great eye candy. Best opening titles, EVER. I spent most of the movie trying to decide how I felt about James Franco. Charismatic? Melodramatic? Creepy? Handsome? Cheesy? I DON'T KNOW!!

Sunday after church we went to see Zorro at the Alliance with Michael's parents.
I didn't really know what to expect, but this show completely blew me away. I didn't realize the music was done by The Gipsy Kings before we went. It was amazing! They introduced flamenco to this story set in California by having some gypsies follow Diego back from Spain. The cast was outstanding; they didn't cast actors and then teach them flamenco, either. They cast real flamenco artists--singers, dancers and instrumentalists. Their biographies all talked about what kind of flamenco artists their parents were and who they had studied with. The show was full of passion and fire (literally and figuratively) and sword fighting and fantastic music. Go see it if you get a chance!

Excellent entertainment this weekend...oh yeah, and there was some stitching. But stay tuned for that tomorrow. =)

Friday, April 26, 2013

LA Trip Day 2 - Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree

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It's the long-overdue second part of our trip to LA!

Previously on the LA Trip: Day 1 - The Getty

On arrival day, I fell into bed in Palm Springs (almost literally...I believe I hit the floor trying to take off my jeans...Michael didn't laugh...too much ;) We awoke the next morning to lovely sunshine with just a little nip in the air. This is a shot of our hotel, which had a great breakfast and a lovely fire in the lobby.
Taking advantage of our East Coast internal clocks, we made it to an early church service and found the best "local" (California-based) coffee and tea shop, The Coffee Bean. They actually knew how to make a real tea latte. Heaven.

After visiting a local Shag gallery (and then another Shag gallery), we headed off to Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree. First, though, I got to see all the windmills I'd missed the night before.
This is a lousy picture and in no way captures how HUGE these things are, but it wasn't possible to stop along the side of the road to get a better picture.

The first order of business was to find me some protein. This is sometimes a very tall order in California. The number one restaurant in the area, according to Trip Advisor, made a lovely salad from locally-sourced organic veggies, but the only protein option was tofu, which doesn't power me for more than 10 minutes. After the wonderful salad and bee pollen smoothie, we headed next door to the number two establishment, the Ricochet Gourmet (!) cafe.

I wish I'd taken a picture inside, but it was this tiny, tiny place (the width--and depth!--of the sign)...only a shared bench and two chairs around two tables...so I felt self-conscious snapping photos. The walls were covered in all manner of beat-up old stuff, AND some adorable frilly half-aprons (for $75 - $100 a pop!) "Eclectic" wouldn't even begin to describe it. We had the best tamales in the word! For dessert, we had a gluten-free chocolate cake, which was really good in spite of being gluten free. (I'm sure there are good gluten-free cakes out there, but usually they leave something to be desired.) We had the privilege of telling the baker that we enjoyed the cake, and she was very grateful for the praise. In fact, she told us all about what her design goals were with the cake, and the feelings that went into making the cake, and the feelings she hoped the cake inspired, all the while I was very distracted by the 3x4" pearl brooch that she had pinned to her fur hat, with dangles that kept hitting her forehead. Did I also mention she was wearing a sweater, with a poncho over it? I felt a lot was explained when we found out she owned the second-hand shoppe at the end of the strip, but Michael assured me I'd just had an encounter with a "real" dessert dweller. I...am not used to people talking about their deep, personal feelings with relation to cake (at least, not in a non-ironic way).

Thus fortified, we headed out to the Indian Cove Campground, where Michael spent many a Boy Scout camping trip, to look at (and climb on) the cool rock formations. Probably more than you want to know about how they formed can be found here.
We had planned on taking about an hour hike, but we were unprepared for the low temperature, and with the wind gusting, it just wasn't going to be possible for me to make the hike.
So after climbing around a little (and watching some way more ambitious climbers...you know, the ones that actually use ropes!), we headed in to town and stopped at the visitors' center, where there is an oasis. You can tell where it is because of the palm trees.
Here's the center, where you may just be able to make out the small puddle of water there. It is so strange seeing water when there are no streams or real vegetation anywhere in the vicinity.
We spent a while hunting for birds in the brush; we saw some pigeons and doves and a hummingbird, but never could track down the quail we could hear all over the place.

We then headed off to the 29 Palms Inn, where the original twenty-nine palm trees are located around the Oasis of Mara.
Now, this really was strange to see...not a normal "shore" like you would expect with any other lake or pond...the water is just suddenly there when you peek through the trees, but the ground all around is perfectly flat! Very bizarre.

Finally, we headed off to Joshua Tree National Park. Again, it was way too cold (down to about 45 F WITHOUT the wind chill, and we did not have proper windbreakers or sweaters!) to hike, so we drove through and enjoyed the scenery (with the occasional stop and quick trot to get a good shot!) The main attraction? The Joshua trees, of course!
Doesn't it look like something out of Dr. Seuss??
That's a yucca in the foreground, with the Joshua trees in the background.

Also, more wonderful rock formations...
It took a little finagling to get the moon to show up just so. =)
So many cool shapes!
Joshua trees were named by Mormon settlers who were reminded of the prophet Joshua stretching his arms up to pray. The younger Joshua trees start out with one central branch, and two branches extending to either side, like arms.
This guy's "head" has already branched.
I could have taken a million pictures. I really wish we could have hiked some of it; I had a great desire to see a coyote, or cute little kangaroo rats, or any kind of wildlife! I'd love to go back when the temperature is more reasonable...but before it becomes crazy hot.

Day three will find us travelling to Hollywood...

Awe-inspiring rocks and vegetation in Joshua Tree National Park!

Stay tuned as we are Hollywood-bound!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Ornament (On Time and Everything!)

Not only is my April ornament finished on time, I am posting about it on time, too!
(Let's gloss over the fact that this was only possible because it was in progress, and yea verily, close to finished already at the beginning of the month. Let's just celebrate the finish! *throws confetti*)

I plan to make a cubie out of it, since it's fairly large and heavy with all the beads (not to mention that it was in progress for so long, the perforated paper is getting a little...soft!) I have no idea what ornament I'll stitch next month. I'll take a nice stash dive this weekend and see what jumps out at me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Geekend That Was, 4/21 (IHSW and belated WINNER!)

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I got no snappy intro here, folks. Let's just jump into my weekend recap so we can get on with the eye candy, shall we? Friday night we had the rare treat of seeing a show with friends...we saw "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" at DramaTech (where both Michael and I have performed...even together =). It was a great show; some of the actors were really entertaining.

The next day it was time for tea.
If you remember past teas my sister has given, you know this one was special. I'll do a full post on it later.

After tea we tried to go to a nearby garden, but at 3:57, the gate slammed in our "faces"...seriously, we saw it close just after we pulled into the driveway...it turns out they don't let anyone in after 4:00 (they close at 5, which is weird since the sun doesn't set here until almost 8 now)!

Sunday I had some time to bake, so I made one of this month's recipes from the Cookie A Sock Club.
Lavender Shortbread...mmmmm....

Speaking of the sock club, I not only continued to knit on the sock I had started, but I cast on the other pattern for this month as well.
'Cause that's how I roll. Of course, neither of these is in the sock club yarn...I want to make a shawl from that.

I also got some time in on Autumn Queen.
I seriously dislike Wisper, have I mentioned that??

If you'd like to see what other hermitters were up to, click on the graphic above!

...and now to finally announce the winner of my 6th Blogiversary Giveaway...something sugary and something made from iron will be going to...

Please send me your snail mail address at heather at lottloft dot com. I shopped this weekend for the iron-based stitching gifts, but I'll leave them a surprise until socialsue opens her package. =)

Sugar helps everyone stitch faster, right?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Geekend That Was, 4/14

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This weekend, the cake was not a lie.
Friday night we celebrated my dad's 79th birthday! (Yep, that's a 7 up there and not a 1...very tricky to make those things stand upright!) My dad and I share a love of dark chocolate cake with white icing. It's all he'll ever ask for for his birthday. My oldest sister made the cake (and cooked the best pork roast ever!), and knowing we both LOVE icing, she sat us together and put a bowl of extra icing between us. =)

But before the cake...there was shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. Stitches South was in town, so I set forth to bolster the economy and divest myself of that pesky tax refund, along with DFs Teresa, Jean and Jill. I normally give myself some "rules"...my main ones this year were that I could buy any solid or semi-solid sock yarn I wanted, but no random multicolored sock yarn, and anything else needed to be for something specific on my Ravelry queue. I was also allowed to buy "accessories", and I took a fairly small tote bag, thinking that when I filled that up, I was done.

I think I did pretty well!
Oh. Uh...gosh, that's a lot of yarn when you put it all together like that! Hmm, I guess when I picked my tote, I kinda forgot how much yarn can compress when you're determined inspired. The three at the top left are solid sock yarns, so that's good. The one to the right of those three is...ah...a multicolored sock yarn. BUT! It's really self-striping! And I had a pattern in mind for it! (It turns out it won't work for that pattern, but oh well.) I could not get the color to come out right for the life of me...it's a DARK purple (the left side) with SHOCKINGLY BRIGHT pink and deep turquoise. Also, it was dyed by a friend of Jean and Teresa's, so I kind of had to buy it.

Beneath that is some Tilli Thomas Disco Lights (it has sequins!) for a sweater that's been long queued...I had to pick that up because it was 40% off!! The yarn under that is interesting...its main fiber content is MILK! Whey protein, to be exact. It's very soft and silky, and will be a shawl. To the right is this crazy yarn that was sold by the pound, half off the marked price, so it's like 800 yards of fingering for $18. It will become a Mehndi.

Now, you might notice I skipped that yarn in the lower-left corner. Let's give you a closeup:
If you click on the picture, you can see the sparkly threads in the yarn (maybe). This is destined to be a Mithril Vest. This yarn has a special story, because we met the yarn manufacturer and her husband. You may have heard of her before if you do cross stitch. In fact, when I met her, I said, "OHMYGOSH, you're Vikki Clayton! You're FAMOUS!" which gave her a good laugh. =) Her husband invented a machine that spins the same silk she dyes for needlework with a cashmere yarn and sparkly fibers. She had some really luscious fibers, and it was difficult to choose, but the one that was closest in spirit to "mithril" won out. I was so happy to find this yarn, since the yarn that design calls for contains mohair (which I hate!)

I also did find a few things in the "accessories" category...my favorite dellaQ bag in a cheery print:
Some beads (for Kumihimo, that exactly match my just-finished sweater), and gorgeous antique Victorian brass buttons.
This booth had PILES of buttons, and I could have spent ages going through them. Can you find the one with the dragon on it?

Saturday and Sunday I was pretty wiped out (the super-high pollen count and being in a house with several furry animals will do that to you). Sunday afternoon was wet and dreary, so we decided high sugar snacks were in order. I bought this cute Easter bunny on sale for only 2 bucks:
He's about 5-6 inches tall. Do you recognize him? He came with some small friends, which I don't care too much for on their own...
...but they make great companions for graham crackers and dark chocolate!

No real bunnies were harmed in the making of this post, but some Peeps got it, and good.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Theme-a-licious Amazon April Check In

I'm afraid I don't have too much to show yet this month! I had to finish my first sock club socks to get an entry into the prize drawing. Then I wanted to finish a sweater in time to wear it to Stitches South...this one:

I did manage it, but I haven't been able to get pictures yet.

I already showed you my progress on Tocatta I, but here it is again...

AND I did just finish my ornament for the month, but unfortunately it was late last night when it was already dark...so no picture.

Expect big things at the end of the month, though! (Get it...??)

So how is April going? Are your projects larger than life or are they overwhelming you? Please add your link below (to your check in post), and visit some other Themers if you can (everyone loves comments and encouragement!) Our next post will be on the 30th of April, when we'll wrap up Amazon April!

1. Topcho
2. Lynda @ The Auld Grey Mare
3. Sherrie
4. Tiki Stitches
5. Melissa Ziggyeor Cook
6. Serendipitous Jo
7. Kathy
8. Katie

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Finished Object Friday - Newton!

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I have finished the first socks in this year's Cookie A Sock Club!
Newton by Cookie A (my pattern page)

These socks were knit in the most squooshable (that is so a word!) sock yarn ever, MCN (merino, cashmere, nylon) from Indigo Dragonfly. I had to hold myself back from ordering more...after all, this is just the first club yarn shipment. And the second one arrived on Monday!
I should have made a size small instead of medium; they are a little loose and prone to fall down. But more than likely my odds-defying washing machine will render them a little smaller no matter how carefully I bag and hand-wash-cycle them. Whoever said that front-loading machines can't felt has not met my Tromm.
So this means I'm caught up, right? Let's ignore the fact that to enter the monthly drawing, I could have actually used this yarn to knit something different, then knit the TWO patterns we got with another sock yarn, for a total of FIVE entries (with the two batches of cookies I baked...oh yes, did I mention that along with the two sock patterns, we get two cookie recipes??) I used the club yarn, and knit some club socks. DONE!


Please, let's not talk about the fact that I won't get to wear these socks for another six months. Actually, YES, let's talk about that! HOORAY FOR SPRING!!!

For more finished objects, visit Tami's Amis!

Old Geek-outs