Saturday, June 28, 2008

Angel for a Day

I've received so many wonderful, creative, generous swap packages over the last few years.... when I heard an angel was needed for The Big Bag Swap & KAL I figured I'd help out. When I found out it was Brenda who needed an angel, it seemed so appropriate that I would be doing this for her. See, Brenda has been my "spoiler" for two knitting swaps (one of which was The Big Bag).

This angel project was a bit bigger than a normal swap. That's because, in addition the normal goodies in the package, you needed to knit and then felt a large bag. A bit of work! But I love making bags, so it was lots of fun as well.

I wanted to make this as quickly as possible because I knew she'd already been waiting several months for her package. So I bought some brightly colored (her choice) yarn and JoAnn's and started knitting. The bag took a little over a week to complete -- drying it after felting took the longest in this humid summer weather.

In addition to the bag, I tucked a bunch of goodies that she specifically requested into the bag. I hope you enjoy it all Brenda!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday's Feast

I don't want to fill up my blog with these types of posts, but OTOH they are a nice way to get to know other folks... so, another Friday's Feast:


What is the weather like today where you live? Hot, super humid, volatile

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how career-minded are you? Probably about an 8

What type of window coverings do you have in your home? Blinds, curtains, shutters, etc.? We live way out in the country -- really no close neighbors. So hardly any windows have coverings on them. There are light curtains in our bedroom, curtains and shades in the media room (to screen out the sun as needed, and keep it warm in the winter), and black-out shades in Tommy's room -- the window covering of choice for all teenagers!

Main Course
Name something that instantly cheers you up. 1) Chocolate, 2) a warm bath, 3)a cup of tea, 4) a kitty on my lap, 5) a hug (I'm a creature comfort type of person...).

How many times do you hit the snooze button on a typical morning? Never; my snooze button is broken.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Summer of Yarn Love Begins

I'm participating in a bunch of knitting swaps this summer so I suspect I'll be blogging quite a bit about sent and received parcels. Yesterday it began...

The two big swaps I'm in are ongoing -- they each run about 3 months. Packages in the mail filled with yarn goodies arriving all summer... what could be better?

This is the package of goodies I received last night when I arrived home after a day on the road. I got it in my head that I wanted to find one or two nice wine shops north of Ann Arbor (Livingston & western Oakland counties, primarily) to carry our wines. We have lots of customers from Brighton, Howell... those areas, who have been repeatedly asking for a source of our wine near home. I visited 5 shops (several tasted all the wines I brought with me), got 4 orders, and two more who were very interested but not ready to write an order on the spot. Got home at close to 9 pm. Whew!

So this morning I'll be delivering wine orders... :)

Anyway, back to the package. It was waiting for me when I got home. What a wonderful package of goodies! Lamb's Pride worsted in a lovely rusty red-orange, Misti Alpaca (baby alpaca... yum!) in a gorgeous variegated green colorway, a smoothing skin scrub, an adorable notecard with cute little knitting on it, a tiny knitted sweater in beautiful colors (did my partner make that herself?), and truffles made with ice wine!

Ok, I'm going to be good and wait until Holly (my sister, the winemaker) comes home -- she's out of town right now -- to share my truffles. But it's gonna be difficult!

Thanks partner. Everything is perfect!

Edited to include two more treats. Out of sight, out of mind, eh? The Vogue-on-the-Go Bags II book -- great bags in there, I was reading it last night -- and a cute little bracelet too. Thanks again!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Garden of Blue Flowers

They're my favorite group of flowers in the garden. Blue salvia, flax, delphinium, bachelor's buttons....

I guess it's because they're all so old-fashioned. You just don't see the growers coming up with big, showy blue petunias or geraniums like they do in bright pink or red or purple. Blue flowers remind me of a grandma's garden.

In fact, more than even my parents' perpetual vegetable garden, I think my grandma's garden was what started me as a gardener. She didn't have much land -- her little Detroit backyard was half-filled with a lovely, but dominating willow tree. But her little garden was cool, and informal, and always very beautiful. Old-fashioned flowers. Something always blooming. My favorite sort of garden.

Last year Bob and I were finally able to landscape the front of the house. For several years it looked like a construction site. Subsoil, scrubby weeds, and planks of particle board for a walkway.

We spent most of the spring and early summer on it. Bob built two really lovely brick walkways from the front porch. One leads to the garage door, the other to the parking area. He rototilled and we packed the soil full of leaf mold, compost, and Canadian peat. We raked and cut a deep edge along the bed where we laid heavy-duty plastic edging.

I didn't really make a garden plan. I knew I wanted a cottage garden feel to it. And I wanted a little evergreen it in somewhere because early on Bob told me the house looked like "Santa's house." (I was going through a patch of buyer's remorse after I made the decision to do green stucco and a red roof.)

I shopped at several local nurseries, picking up hundreds of dollars in perennials. A base of blue flowers, with snippets of other colors to add interest.

Almost everything survived the winter. It's been so much fun watching the new babies flourish and bloom.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another New Friday Tradition (or almost Friday, as the case may be)

If you could live on another continent for 1 year, which one would you choose? Australia, I think!

Which browser do you use to surf the Internet? Firefox

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you know about the history of your country? 8.5 - I worked in a historical museum for 10 years

Main Course
Finish this sentence: Love is… all you need (how could I answer any other way?)

Have you ever been in or near a tornado? Yes, we live in a high tornado area. I've never been in one, but there have been quite a few within a few miles of us.

On the Eve of Friday...

Friday Fill-In #77

1. A smile is a lovely way to light up your face.
2. Good old-fashioned Monopoly is my favorite board or card game.
3. I would love to have more time in my life (I know that doesn't quite work grammatically) and less stress.
4. When I think of the Summer Solstice, I think of Stonehenge and A Mid-Summer Night's Dream.
5. I just remembered I need to go to bed soon.
6. One of my favorite song lyrics goes like this: "the magic's in the music and the music's in me."*
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to sewing, tomorrow my plans include working (always on Saturdays... the busiest day at a winery) and Sunday, I want to do some gardening!

*Another favorite:
In this world you've a soul for a compass
And a heart for a pair of wings
There's a star on the far horizon, rising bright in an azure sky
For the rest of the time that you're given, why walk when you can fly.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

SP12: Question of the Week #2

As a kid, what did you look forward to most about summer vacation/break/holiday?

I think you perceive time very differently when you're a child. I remember summers lasting forever! More than any specific activity or event, I remember the gorgeous luxury of those months and months of summer spreading out in front of me once school was over. The days were open for whatever I wished. For those first few weeks of vacation it felt like summer would never end.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chickens on the Couch

I made a version of this pillow for a recent swap. It was a very fun idea -- you send your partner a book she'd like (I sent two vintage Gladys Tabor books) and make a few things to accompany the book, based on the theme of the book. In addition to the book, I sent a little needlebook with roosters, goatmilk soap, and a few vintage chicken goodies.

I love working with patchwork fabrics and papers. It allows me to work with all sorts of different patterns and textures. I'm constantly amazed at how compelled I am to work with these materials.

Whenever I make something new for a swap, I try to make at least one extra for the Etsy shop. So the 2nd pillow is now in the shop waiting for a new home.

Starbucks and Yarn Swap

Yet another swap... but this time I'm workin' it. I'm one of the organizers (well, with the help of Miss Wartbobble, Headmistress of the Ravelry School of Swap).

Starbucks & Yarn is a nice small swap -- limited to 36 swappers. It involves, well, you can guess.... Starbucks and yarn. Wonderful combination! Oh, and something homemade. Either a coffee cup cozy, bag, or mug coaster.

Sign ups run through June 30 or until we reach 36 swappers. Come on down!

Edited 6/19 - We reached the 36 swappers in two days so we decided to make it a larger group. So there's still room!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Fill-In (#76)

It's Friday again...

1. Travel is high up on my bucket list. So much of my 'bucket list' was wrapped up in building my dream house. And I'm so lucky to have it... well, as much as my budget would ever allow, anyway.
2. My favorite quote is:
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you.";
it's from Winnie the Pooh. (It's so hard to choose -- there are many, many quotes I love.)
3. A swap (SP11) inspired (um.. actually, required) me to start blogging.
4. Strawberries are best local and fresh.
6. The most enjoyable time to go for a walk is early morning or just before dusk.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to starting a new knitting project, tomorrow my plans include work -- an all-day wine festival (but I'm bringing my knitting 'cause it's World Wide Knit in Public day) and Sunday, I want to veg (but it never seems to work out that way)!

A Bad Wife

I'm a good cook... who would've known I'd be such a bad 1930s wife? I guess you have to be just as good at housekeeping... and not cook in your pjs, eh?


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

SP12: Question of the Week

The first "Question of the Week" for the Secret Pal 12 swap. What is your favorite summertime drink?

I really don't have a single favorite. However, I'm bound by family and work obligations to say a cold, crisp dry (or off-dry) glass of wine. White or rose', doesn't matter.

I'm so glad the world is getting over their fear of pink, and back to enjoying dry rose' wines. Not that they weren't justified in their fears.... just the thought of White Zinfandel makes me want to run screaming into the night...

Other choices? Pretty boring. Really cold water. Brewed iced tea (NO sugar, sometimes lemon or mint). Iced coffee.

I seem to be feeling a bit thirsty.

Monday, June 9, 2008

SP12 Questionnaire

The big Secret Pal 12 swap is just beginning and will run through the end of September. The official start is June 15, but I received my partner's info this morning (my hostess is on the ball!). I guess I'd better fill out the questionnaire! My info isn't much different from last fall, when I participated in SP11. Just a few little things have changed...

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
Yummy, soft, natural fibers like alpaca, merino, cashmere, silk...

What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Anything synthetic, especially "novelty" yarns.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have some vintage needle holders and store needles by their material (bamboo, faux tortoiseshell/casein, etc). I just organized my circulars -- they're now in separate sleeves by size in a big looseleaf binder. Everything else is jumbled into a Rubbermaid container. So... some organization, some not so much...

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn?
I taught myself to knit as a child and then picked it up again as an adult when my son was a baby.

Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Intermediate. I've made a few sweaters and lots of various bags, hats, etc. I've done entrelac, fair isle, but haven't done much lace (not particularly interested in anything that fine) or cableing/Aran.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
amazon - make sure you check the memos. The list is for me, my son, and my husband and we've memo'd in the name of the "wisher."
My Etsy favorites

My Swap-Bot profile (more info on me)

5. What's your favorite scent?
Green tea, lemon, lilac, lily of the valley

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Yes

Favorite candy? Dark chocolate (plain or with pretty much anything in it), maple

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
Lots of paper crafts/art, sewing, jewelry/beads, carving rubber stamps.

Do you spin? I did a bit of spinning in college and right after. Haven't done any since then. I'd like to get back into it some day -- I should probably take a class (I never really got past spinning a single strand).

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like pretty much anything. Yes, my computer can play MP3s.

9. What's your favorite color(s)?
I like almost all colors. My favorites are dark red, bright red, most greens (chartreuse, lime, teal, bottle green), and lots of various blues. I love interesting combinations of colors.

Any colors you just can't stand?
I'm least fond of kelly green, muddy yellows, and pastels.

10. What is your family situation?
Um, I have an interesting family situation right now. There's the actual "family" -- my husband and 19-year-old son. Then we've got my son's friend and his girlfriend living with us as well. All the teens (including my son) say they're moving closer to school before the next semester begins. We'll see... It'll be pretty quiet around here if that all happens!

Do you have any pets?
A Golden Retriever named Winston and four kitties, Little Bit, Violet, Charli, and Henry.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Yes, all.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Probably bags.

13. What are you knitting right now?
I'm just finishing up an angel project (can't say more in case she reads this). I made a dish cloth for a friend last night. And I just ordered Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece to make my Mom a short sleeved sweater for her birthday next month.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
I love them!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
I tend to work much more on circulars than straights.

Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Bamboo, wood, and I love the vintage faux tortoiseshell plastic needles (they warm slightly in your hand).

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes, both.

17. How old is your oldest UFO? From when my son was a baby. Eeek! I knit very slowly then, and he grew faster than I knit!

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I like pretty much all holidays, but am not terribly excited about any of them. I like seasons more than I like holidays.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Lots of various vintage kitchen stuff from the Depression era (bakelite, china, Fiestaware, kitchen linens), cookbooks, vintage sewing stuff (like buttons, trim, etc).

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?
I'm lusting after the KnitPicks Harmony circular needles and will put them on my birthday list. I like surprises a lot!

What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
None. I often buy Vogue Knitting, knit.1, and Interweave Knits.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Cables/Aran. I need to take a class, I think.

22. Are you a sock knitter?
No. I'm one of the few people on earth, I think. I knit one pair. It was ok. I didn't fall in love with it.

What are your foot measurements?
Size 9 shoes. I like a loose ankle. I'd love a handknit pair of socks!

23. When is your birthday?
September 11. Not a particularly happy day.

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID? Yes, winemakerssister.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday Fill-In (#75)

I've gotten hooked on these... Friday Fill-Ins are a fun, quick way to write a bit about yourself. I tend to write about what I'm working on, so this is good for me. This way, I am giving y'all a better picture of "Heather."

1. Idle hands are not my usual "MO," but occasionally a nice way to relax.
2. I love lingering in the shower. We've got a BIG water heater -- it's a dangerous thing.
3. My favorite time of the day is when I get home from work and the evening belongs to me.
4. The last tea I drank was Earl Grey. I'm drinking a cup of it right now!
5. I like to visit my family's northern Ontario cabin in the Summer.
6. My mother always said "'hey' is for horses."
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m [/looking forward to] grocery shopping, tomorrow my plans include working at a day-long Michigan winetasting event at the very fancy Papa Joe's Gourmet Market in Rochester Hills and Sunday, I want to take the day off!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New Bracelets

I love these tiny beads. They're ceramic, made in South America (I believe), and beautifully intricate. They're about 1/2 inch long, and look at the detail!

I recently used some to make up more bracelets for the Etsy shop. Charming, eh?

Another bracelet features little glass mushrooms. Too much cute? Maybe just enough cuteness....?

Monday, June 2, 2008


I love the idea of journaling, but rarely get the time to do it. I guess this blog is one of the closest things I've got to it.

However, recently I participated in a journal swap and it forced me into doing it -- just the kind of kick in the pants I need! We were to produce 20 entries sometime during the months of February, March, and April. I ended up mostly do a journal about the art I was working on at the time. I wanted to illustrate it, and that gave me an easy way to get content for the illustrations -- I just added little examples of what I was working on into the journal.

Here are some of the pages.

I had a really good time doing it... although 20 entries is a lot of entries when you're not used to doing it! And I wanted to make each one quite different from the other.

The best part was the journal I received. My "upstream" partner created a really wonderful journal for me. Each entry was a letter to me... sometimes about her day, sometimes just thoughts, sometimes reminiscences. I received it after a long, nasty day, and it turned the day around. I sat down in a comfortable chair, sipped some of the tea she sent, and read and read.

I had an idea of reading one entry per day, but couldn't stop. What a wonderful treasure!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Summer of Yarn Love" swap

Amy, the fabulous hostess of the "Longing For Spring" swap has started a new one.... the "Summer of Yarn Love." I'm hooked on these swaps -- they're a fun way to get to know other knitters. So.... I'm in again!

Here are my answers to the questionnaire:

  1. Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been at your craft - I knit. I taught myself when I was a little girl, but stopped for quite a while and took it up again when Tommy was a baby.
  2. Do you spin? What type of spinning? Not much. I used to spin in college. I'd like to get back to it.... someday.
  3. What are your favorite yarns/fibers? What are your least favorite yarns/fibers? I like all natural fibers: alpaca, wool, silk, cotton, bamboo, etc. I would prefer not to get synthetics or synthetic blends. They're not really something I'd use.
  4. What are your favorite colors? What are your least favorite colors? I love most greens (like chartreuse, forest green, teal, sage, bottle green). The only green I don't like is kelly green. I also like dark red, bright red, most blues. Honestly, I like most colors. I'm just not particularly fond of garishly brights or pastels.
  5. Are there any yarns/brands that you are dying to work with but never have? What would you recommend?
  6. What is/are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet? Bags, hats, some sweaters, other small to medium projects.
  7. What are you currently working on? I'm making an angel project for someone who didn't receive a package in a recent swap. Anything you plan to work on this summer? Probably some new bags. I've got lots more ideas than I have time!
  8. What is your favorite FO? (Post a pic if you would like.) I'm not sure. I've given some fun bags as gifts -- a fair isle felted bag for my aunt, an entrelac felted bag for my mom, and "Maggie's Tote," a big felted tote bag for my sister.
  9. What is your oldest UFO? I think I have an unfinished sweater or two that didn't get finished in time to fit Tommy (as a toddler).... eeek! he's now 19!
  10. Are there any techniques that you want to learn? I never got around to learning cables/Aran. I'd like to learn sometime.
  11. Are you on Ravlery? Yes. What's your ID? winemakerssister (my ID pretty much everywhere)
  12. Are you a sock knitter? No. I made one pair and didn't really get into it. There's obviously something horribly wrong with me! What are your foot measurements? I wear size 9 shoes. Oh, and I love a little loose-ness around the ankles.
  13. Do you collect anything? Cookbooks (especially maple & vegetarian), Fiestaware, depression era linens (especially printed cotton tablecloths), bakelite, other depression-era kitchenware, 1950s barkcloth
  14. Do you have a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes. I got a new winder for Christmas. I found a swift for $2 at a garage sale (they asked me what it was!).
  15. Do you love sweets? Yes. What are your favorites? Dark chocolate, maple.
  16. What are your favorite scents? Green tea, lemon, lilac, lily of the valley
  17. Where do you keep your needles/hooks? In a big rubbermaid box right now. I do have my circulars sorted -- I keep them in a binder with a section for each size.
  18. Do you have a wishlist (Amazon, Etsy, etc?) Yes, Etsy and amazon. Be careful on the amazon list -- pretty much everything other than the knitting books are for other family members.
  19. Having a birthday this summer? Nope...well, September 11. Is that still summer? Technically, I guess.
  20. Are you allergic to anything??? Please let your pal know! Nothing related to swapping (except smoke).