Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Outer Banks

Our first night in the Outer Banks
The humidity and heat were insane the first couple of  days
even so close to the ocean.

After visiting Currituck Lighthouse, we found this little garden that
utterly delighted  me with its beautiful sunflowers. I am, inexplicably, drawn
to sunflowers. 

The Elizabethan Gardens near the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island.
Luke and I found several birds for our Big Summer List here.

These ancient oaks in the Elizabethan Gardens were imposing.

Ancient Oak- over 500 years old, I think.
These trees reminded me of The Two Towers.

After the initial heatwave when we arrived, the weather turned gray and rainy.
This is Cape Hatteras. It was raining when we arrived and I thought I wouldn't get to
climb to the top. We decided to come back after a little more sightseeing. When we returned, the weather had cleared and Luke, Sam, and I climbed to the top. It turns out that Sam is afraid of heights. He cried almost all the way to the top.

Luke and Sammy

The view from the top

Kity Hawk Memorial

This photo has a poignant atmospheric quality. This is at Cape Hatteras  Light Station.

Sunflower garden

The cottage that we rented had a lovely and relaxing porch swing. I spent some time there  looking for birds
or knitting. 

Currituck  Light house in the historic Corolla village.
Can you see both Luke and Sam?
The boys took a tour of the pirate ship in the background.

Can you see the dragonfly here?

The view from the porch swing

Another view of "our" yard

The only picture with me in it
Almost all of these photos appeared on my Facebook page at some point during our trip, but I wanted to put the best ones here.

The flights were grueling. This will be the only time that the twins will fly as lap babies. They turn 2 in October and after that, they will need their own seats on a plane. I'm fine with that. My arms were so sore after several hours wrestling with one of the twins.  I know that although most people are kind regarding small families traveling , they are still hoping that the couple they see boarding the plane with the 1 1/2 year old twins isn't sitting anywhere near them. I get it. I understand.

Traveling isn't easy or always fun with small people, but it's worth it for those precious family memories.

Yarn Along

  Since we've returned from our vacation to the Outer Banks, we're all exhausted and most of us are sick. So far, I have two kids with chicken pox, two with fevers and colds, one recovering from a fever and sore throat, and then there's me. I'm achy, head-achy, and just plain tired. I didn't get much knitting or reading done while we were away. I was within two rows of finishing an Oaklet Shawl, but then Tess climbed on me and several stitches popped off. Despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to get those yarn overs and the lace pattern back on the needles the right way. I forged ahead and when the next row of lace didn't line up with the previous row, I gave up and frogged the whole thing. I decided to use the same yarn to cast on the Saroyan instead. I'm enjoying this pattern much more than the Oaklet Shawl anyway. The tiny leaves on the edges are just so much fun to knit.

As for reading, I'm reading I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson. This is book club reading and it's about some Welsh girls in the 70's who are completely obsessed with David Cassidy. Well, it's more complex than that. It's really about the insecurities of adolescent girl-friendships set during the height of David Cassidy mania.

I just downloaded 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker after seeing that Elizabeth was reading it as well. Her goal is to combat the stresses of the excessive American life. As someone who strives for simplicity, this, I'm sure is right up my alley.
Here's a picture of the yarn I bought while on vacation. I love Adriafil Knit Col. I've used this yarn several times and the colors are just so fun. Since I never see this yarn in any shops, I scooped up 4 balls. I'm thinking about Autumn hats for the kids.

That's it for today. Don't forget to check out more yarn and book adventures at Ginny's!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Needle and ThREAD

needle and thREAD

When Tess was born, I bought the quilt pattern Ode to a Cupcake. I had planned to make the quilt for her first birthday. She's 3 1/2 now. I've learned that quilting plans never go as planned. We call Tess our little cupcake and this quilt is perfect for her. I love these simple little applique squares. It's absolutely adorable!

A few months ago, my husband, who supports and encourages all of my very expensive hobbies, bought a new-to-me Janome 10000 Embroidery sewing machine. As much as I wanted to learn how to use this new machine, I was also terrified of it. My best friend has this machine and the embroidery makes her quilts even better. So, my new machine sat in its case while I continued to use my mom's Bernina for piecing my quilts. On Tuesday, Stephanie walked me through my first embroidery applique square! Instead of using the template to piece the cupcake appliques for the quilt, I'm going to use my new machine to embroider cupcake applique.  Here's what I did on Monday:

Those cherries are all embroidery thread! Isn't that so cool? The cupcake on the pink background doesn't have enough contrast from between the top and bottom, but I'm still learning. Now, I just need to make 18 more cupcakes, cut the blocks down to 6", and piece the topper. Well, I'll need to cut and add the borders too and oh, yeah, cut the binding. There's still a lot to do!

As for reading:
I'm reading The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Kantor.  A while back, I read Jane Austen's Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson. Both books are similar in that both authors believe that in our modern times, we've lost our way on how to navigate relationships. It seems that even though Jane Austen herself never married, she had some good insight on relationships and what makes them successful or not. We just need to look to her novels for evidence that Jane knew what she was writing about.
Clarification: The picture of the cupcake quilt above is the picture of the pattern that I bought. I haven't made the quilt yet. I don't think I was as clear as I could be on that. I'm using embroidery applique to make the cupcake squares. I only have 2 cupcakes squares done right now.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our Big Summer

A few weeks ago, Luke, Paul, and I watched The Big Year featuring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson. It's a delightful little film about extreme birding. I haven't read the book on which this film is based yet, but it's on the GoodReads to-read list! The Big Year is an annual contest where participants count how many different species of birds they see in a year. It's not a cheap endeavor. Extreme birding involves a ton of traveling to remote places to see rare and hard-to-find species.

 Luke used to love birds. For a long time, he never went anywhere without Stan Tekiela's Birds of Colorado. His copy is in tatters. I still buy him a bird book from every state that I visit and he has collected many bird field guides. We are heading to the Outer Banks for our Summer vacation and fortunately, we already own a Carolinas bird book!

  Anyway, after watching the movie, I challenged him to a Big Summer. I thought this might be a fun way for both of us to get back into bird-watching. Instead of a full year, we would count the birds we see just this summer. I showed him how to use the list function on his Ipod Touch and I'm keeping track of my birds on my phone. I even downloaded the free Ap of the Sibley Guide to Birds on my phone. Unfortunately, it's only a demo and it only has 30 birds species on the free version. I have never bought an ap for my phone, but I am considering buying this bird guide because I'll be able to see all the birds of North America!
We'll see who wins at the end of the summer. He won't tell me how many birds he's already seen. For the record, as of now, I have 11. It's a big bummer (not a big Summer) when I continue to see the same birds over and over.  (If you haven't already seen The Big Year, the winner had well over 700 bird species on his list.) I'll be lucky to hit 50!


Yarn Along

I haven't updated my blog in almost a month! It's not because I haven't been thinking about it, I have. Summer has gotten me and the entire family off all of my routines. It's actually been nice to have long days stretch out before us. We've been relaxed about bed times with the older kids. We've been relaxed about a lot of things. I suppose that we have immersed ourselves in Summer.

 I've been knitting a lot without completing anything until yesterday. I've actually started to have some pain when I knit. Oddly enough, the pain is in my left shoulder and elbow. Most of my yarn movement is in my right hand.  After many years of knitting without pain, I suppose that I may be developing some repetitive motion injury. I know it's something I can't ignore forever, but I have been  kind of knitting through the pain.  I finished a Color Me Pretty hat in what should have been a toddler size, but came out sized more for a 6 month old baby. I really wanted to learn how to knit Fair Isle properly. Up until this hat project, I always picked up and dropped the yarns when doing color changes. This time, however, I held one working yarn in my right hand and the other yarn in my left. I had two happy results by changing the way I held the yarns. The yarns did not become twisted and the actual Fair Isle sections were less tight. I deleted the photo from my computer yesterday. So, go here and you can see my baby hat. About half way through this project, I realized that the two colors that I had chosen didn't have enough contrast. It's pretty difficult to see the flower     on the hat. I definitely want to make this hat again, but bigger and with better contrasting colors!

I read Phoebe's Birthday to Tess last night. In full disclosure, I kind of ordered this book for myself. This is a delightful little picture book, but the exciting thing about Phoebe's Birthday is the knitting patterns in the back of the book. Actually, this book also includes both a quilt pattern and stuffed "Mermouse"  pattern as well. The simple story includes some nice artwork and the patterns are featured in the book. Okay, so, I'm going to make this for Tess. So, I guess, in the end, this book is really for her after all. She gets the book and the Phoebe's Sun Tunic that I will knit for her!

Happy Independence Day! don't forget to visit Ginny for more Yarn Along adventures! Happy Summer friends!