Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks Today

Today I give thanks.  I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my health, and my job.  I have a roof over my head, food to eat and a bed to sleep in.  I even have a little extra to share.  I am so fortunate in so many ways, that I can't even put it into words. 

Mom is staying with me this week while the men in the family are deer hunting in Wisconsin.  We have been discussing how lucky we are to have this time together as our annual tradition. All week we run all around town shopping, eating, cooking, crafting, and whatever else we can think of.  We make a traditional turkey, dressing, sweet potato, mashed potatoes and cranberries meal for our Thanksgiving dinner - mostly so we have leftovers!  Some years we go to other relative's homes, and some years we go out for a buffet, but most of the time we just hang out at my house.  The girls and their boyfriends sometimes join us, sometimes are off with other families.  This is just how it is for Thanksgiving at our house.

Army Girlfriend's BF is home so we will spend some time visiting with them, and the English Major is home too, so she and her BF will be around as well.  My little girls have grown up.

I will relax today, and just be thankful from the bottom of my heart for everything in my life!

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gifts from India

One of my coworkers recently made a trip back home to India for her brother's wedding.  She shared pictures with me of the wedding, and explained some of the culture and tradition surrounding weddings in her family and religion.  I don't have permission to share the pictures, so I will just tell you a little about them.  The bride wore a beautiful cream colored sari with lots of beautiful gold thread accents for the ceremony.  During the ceremony, the groom "ties the knot" by tying several strands of gold colored thread with a gold cross/pendant into a necklace around her neck.  Immediately following the ceremony, she changed into a sari given to her by the groom's parents.  This bride's new sari was a beautiful salmon/pink color with gold accents.  A day or so after the wedding, a gold chain is added to the pendant, but the threads must stay and dissolve on their own - as this is the important tied knot.  Traditionally, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.  The family photos were fairly casual with the groom in a suit, other men in dress clothes, and the women were wearing the beautiful, rich-with-color saris.

I love to learn about other cultures and family traditions - it's so interesting to see what stands out in any given celebration, and helps to understand why we sometimes have such different opinions on many subjects. Last summer we all learned a bit about becoming a U.S. citizen from this coworker too.  It's very interesting to see it from the perspective of one not born into it.  I have never studied other cultures - I prefer to hear it first-hand.  "Tying the Knot" has a whole new image with the meaning to me now. 

Before she left, she asked if she could bring me anything from India.  Not knowing what might be available, all I could think of was fabric or some thread.  She agreed to look if she was able to do any shopping.  I knew her trip would be a very short one for a significant family event, so imagine my surprise when she returned with this:

I may have to hoard these things for a bit while I decide what I should make!  She even brought me sewing thread to match one fabric, as she was able to get it very inexpensively.

And she knows I love all shades of blue, so she got this ball of a variegated blue thread (pretty colors show better above),

and this colorful, metallic thread too. 

She is so thoughtful to bring these all the way back from India.  I treasure these items and the fact that she even remembered during her short visit with her family for such a special occasion.  Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to make!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

T.A.T. Artisan Phase II

It has arrived.
My goal is to accomplish this phase in less than the 3 years the Apprentice Phase took. 

Wish me Luck.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Snail Mail Encouragement

How's this for cute mail?  Tatting on the envelope was pretty darn cute!  I'm going to remember to do that - it adds some fun.  I got some encouragement and instruction from Fox on that problem of joining that last pesky ring to the first.  For some reason, that concept just eluded me and made me crazy every time I tried it.  Fox sent me some instructions that helped her out - the book Tatting by Cathy Bryant explains this technique in a way I hadn't seen before, and Fox had said it helped her.  She is a wonderful tatter, so her suggestions are most welcome!  Funny how the same instruction just put a different way can be so helpful.  Thanks Fox - I think I got it!  Online tatting friends are so helpful.  And generous.  Fox also sent me some pretty thread to play with - and a postcard.  I think I really miss getting snail mail more often in this emailing/internet world.

I tried the same snowflake I had goofed up on before, just to have a comparison.  However, I'm such a doo-dah that I used heavier thread with metallic in it just because I thought it was "Christmas-y".  That probably wasn't a good idea, as the thread was a bit harder to practice with as far as watching the twisting goes.  But, I got that last join done without pulling out my hair.  I think I did it right :)

I need to find a fairly simple motif to do over and over again to practice.  I worked the same small pattern when I was learning to crochet, and it helped to become really familiar with the pattern and how the stitches were supposed to look when finished. It's just boring to do the same pattern over and over again.  I think this is a pretty snowflake shape - but I can see it definitely needs to be done in smaller thread to be as pretty as it should be.

I've also been working on some more of these bookmarks to have on hand to include in a Christmas card or two.  I really like this pattern - it's easy and works up quickly.  I like it best when done in Perle Cotton 12 - I'm finding I really like that particular thread.

On top of being wildly busy at work for the past week, I have been working on figuring out some Secret Santa gifts for the InTatters December exchange.  I've only participated in a couple of exchanges, so it will be fun to see what ideas everyone comes up with!  Any ideas welcome . . .

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Right or Left-Brained?

I always thought I was right-brained.  You know, mostly artistic and creative.  But then, I have that practical, serious, perfectionist left-brained personality too.  What a conflict!  It seems I have an insatiable desire to accomplish everything before I can even learn it.

I tried a little tatting this week, but most everything I attempted came to a screeching halt for one reason or another.  Not only did I abandon several attempts at figuring out patterns that might work on a Christmas ornament, but I also got sidetracked trying to figure out how to do those self-closing mock rings (SCMR's).  When I couldn't master that, I decided I was getting ahead of myself AGAIN, (as usual) and promptly sent off for the Artisan Phase II of the T.A.T. program to torment myself learn some more.  The logical, orderly, practical left side of my brain knows that it's time for me to slow down and learn the basics, and quit trying to do everything perfectly the first time at record pace.  I really do like tatting, it just frustrates the heck out of me when I can't figure out a pattern or a technique.  What is even more frustrating is that I don't have the time after work, supper, etc., to really research the internet for the answers I need, so I end up abandoning my tatting for awhile and working on something that I can be successful at.  The creative, imaginative dreamer right side of my brain makes me turn into a mad-woman with a burning desire to accomplish something.  (You should see my sewing/craft room - it currently looks like a tornado hit it.) The left sided perfectionist in me makes me even more determined to learn to shuttle-tat, and learn it well.  The right side wants to tat every beautiful pattern I see, and design my own patterns. I wish the left-side and the right-side of my brain could agree more often.  They did agree long enough for me to get three of Heather's Hearts for Tracy tatted and get them sent off in the mail, but I forgot to take any pictures of that accomplishment in my haste to get them to her on time.  Does anyone else have this right-left brain conflict? 

After abandoning the tatting, I decided to read a book.  I have found Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilt Series to be easy, entertaining reads, so I got the newest book The Lost Quilter at the library, and proceeded to devour that.  You don't have to be a quilter to enjoy the books - they are wonderful stories of women, friendship, quilting and history.  A good escape when the right brain and the left brain are disagreeing!

My biggest accomplishment this past week was finishing one last doll quilt. For Elmo.  Elmo required a smaller quilt than the others, and since I had Friday off from work my goal was to finish it for this bunch I am donating to a local Crisis Nursery.  Back in September, I blogged about making some quilts and that some coworkers agreed to donate some stuffed animals to go with them.

My generous coworkers didn't disappoint, and added some personality to these little quilts. Aren't they cute?

These guys are off and ready to be loved as needed. 

This week I will get back to trying some tatting again.  Fox was kind enough to send me some encouraging mail and some pretty thread to try.  More about that another day :)