Thursday, August 30, 2007

Baby Kimono and Piping Competition

Saturday was the pipeband competition. The weather was beautiful, which is always a bonus because these events are held outside. Our band didn't do as well as we have in previous competitions this summer but we got 3rd place and prize money, so that part is good. The downside is that we were only competing against 4 bands in our grade level. In other words, we beat just one band but since it is one of our close friendly rivals, that was good. Thirs place was better than being last. I knitted a teddy bear while we were waiting between the competition and massed bands.
A piping friend just called me to ask if I could pipe at a wedding on Saturday. She is not able to do the gig due to bursitis. Since I do not have anything going on that day, I am happy to do it. I like to play funerals better than weddings because there is less pressure. At funerals people are just so happy to find a piper at a moment's notice. Brides want everything perfect and they have no idea what perfect means with piping. They want specific tunes that cannot be translated to pipes. The reason is that there are only 9 notes on pipes and a lot of embellishments. The embellishments have names like "birl", "taorluath", "doublings". The embellishments make the music interesting. One of the reasons people hear Amazing Grace so often on the pipes is that it is easily translated on our scale. It is also probably the most popular hymn and one everybody knows. For this wedding I am going to pipe the bride down the aisle and back. Then a friend will join me for the reception so he and I will play together while guests are arriving.
I finished a toddler sweater that will be a gift and will post on that later. I also knitted up the "Heartbreakingly Cute Kimono" from Mason Dixon Knitting. For a baby gift this is about as easy and quick as it gets. The yarn is Bernat Cottontots 100% cotton. It was a dream to work with. These ombre yarns are seductive. They definitely entice me to "do one more row".

The kimono is a gift for a friend who is having a baby at the end of September. I have enough yarn left over to knit a hat or booties, but probably not both. I'm leaning towards booties.

This is a photo of the sweater before any sewing up is done. Interesting, isn't it?
Here it is laid out for sewing up. Two nice seams is all it needs now. The pattern calls for gros-grain ribbon ties on the side. I love garter stitch, especially for babies.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Zimbabwe Project

Today I worked on a knitted teddy bear that wil be going to Zimbabwe. I've made 3 so far and have a group of knitters who are also making them. Some of these ladies haven't knitted in a long time so they have needed remedial help. Some of them knit prayer shawls in a group I started over 3 years ago. The Prayer Shawl Ministry has been very rewarding. The bears are a fun diversion! It is exciting to think that the bears we make will be placed into the arms of a child in Zimbabwe. Many of these children have very little, not only in terms of material objects but also emotional support. Some are heads of households at a very young age, having lost both parents to AIDS. The average lifespan of a person in Zimbabwe now is about 34-36 yr. 80% of the population is unemployed and 1 in 4 have the AIDS virus. Anything we can do to help is important.
These little guys are so cute. Each one has its own personality. I find the facial features the trickiest part.

The pattern we are using is from Teddies for Tragedies.

Tonight is pipeband practice from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. We have that competition on Saturday. The practice before a competition is always critical.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Roses and Herbs

One aspect we do miss from our old house is our garden of herbs and roses. Now that we live in a wooded area our gardening interests will shift to deer-resistant plants. The first order of business is to get some grass in our yard to keep the water from washing all our soil to the creek.
Digitalis/Foxglove is a flower I will try to grow in our shady woodland. I had a large stand of it every year in our old garden.


The yellow rose is Graham Thomas, a David Austin Rose. We're going to try roses up near the front of the house. The deer come close to the back of the house. We'll see next year how this works out.

I finished my first WaRshrag from the Mason-Dixon knitting book, which is also the pattern on the Peaches and Cream label. One ball of Peaches and Cream is heck of a lot of fun for a $1.27. I used the color cream as the base and the left over ball of Potpourri for color B. I can see getting addicted to knitting these. There are so many fun colors to choose from. I've already picked up some more balls in some very fun colors.

Our House

We built a house this year and moved in about 3 months ago. I had a ball with the building process. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time. We finally found the property we were looking for. Although we are in a subdivision, it doesn't seem that way when we are in the house. From the main living areas (office, kitchen, sunporch, great room, and master bedroom) the views are to the woods. It feels like a vacation home in many ways.

Our former home was 100 years old and in the center of our small town. I do miss being so close to everything: library, post office, grocery, bank. I used to hop on my bicyle to run errands and I can't do that any longer. Other than that, I don't miss a thing about our old house although it will always be a special place for us. We raised our 3 sons there. We had remodeled every room, including the kitchen. We enlarged the kitchen and enhanced it with a bay window and custom cabinets. We added central air, high efficiency furnace, a large back porch, garage, and numerous other amenities. Thanks to all of these perks, we did not even have to list the house to sell it. When word got around that we were building several people approached us about buying it and it is now occupied by a family who loves it as much as we did.

Our new house is about 4 miles from the old one. I love sitting on the deck and looking into the trees. I won't ever get tired of it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

You have to start somewhere

I've finally plunged into the world of blogging. It seems a bit daunting but I'm going to give it a try.

It rained most of the weekend. What could be better on a rainy day than knitting in a rocking chair and listening to rain on the skylights of the sunroom? From my chair I look into the treetops and also watch the birds flit about the feeders. I whipped up a little baby bib out of Sugar and Cream Cotton. The pattern is called Petal Bib from the book Oneskein: 30 quick projects to knit and crochet by Leigh Radford. It turned out very cute and I will probably make more so I have a set of them for a gift. One seems a little paltry. If the middle petal were a bit more narrow it would look like a butterfly. I'm thinking about trying that variation.

On Saturday I happened to see a hummingbird flop down on a chair on our deck, just below the feeder. I don't know what precipitated the fall although I am guessing she was hit by another hummingbird. They can be quite aggressive and territorial. At first she was on her side, but still breathing. I ran to get my camera and when I came back she was sitting up, looking much better. I know I could have put my hand over her and held her, which was tempting, but I knew it was not the best thing for the bird. My camera was just a few inches away from her and she didn't seem to having a panic attack. I left her alone and came back about 10 minutes later and she was gone.

The pipeband has a competition coming up on Saturday, probably the last one of the season. That reminds me that I have to plan a project that I can easily work on while we are not tuning up or playing. On Saturday I practiced my pipes for an hour, 30 min on pipes and 30 on chanter. The chanter looks like a recorder and has a double reed, just like the chanter on the pipes. Pipers learn the music on chanter and it all has to be memorized. Have you ever seen a piper with a music lyre? No, because there isn't anything to attach it to.

We also had rain all last night and throughout today. It is hard to believe that neighboring states and even other areas of our own state are experiencing drought conditions when we have had so much rain all summer. Everything looks very fresh and green, and yes, muddy too. I like rain because I hate drought. This summer has been unusual because we have had no drought the entire summer.

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