Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fun in Kansas City

Hi all -

No quilting or knitting to share this week because I decided to take an impromptu trip to Kansas City to visit my family. I was needing a family fix, had finished my taxes and it was my sister's birthday, so I decided to head on out. So, Lance and I drove out last Thursday and returned home yesterday. It was great fun, as usual!

On this trip we got to meet a new member of the family. Introducing Charli:

She's an adorable 10-week-old Golden Doodle that belongs to my niece. She is such a sweetheart! And very smart:

She's still working on potty training, but already knows not to bite at all (but she does give lots and lots of kisses!) and will sit or lay down for treats. My sisters and I got to take her to the dog park for her first visit. This is a huge dog park with trails through the trees and a beach area on the lake. We started with her on leash, but once we got to the lake we let her free and she loved playing with all the dogs and getting attention from all the people. She was really good about sticking around and we were able to leave her off leash until we got back to the entrance. And she was a real trooper, not getting carried for any part of the long walk. But she did have a good snooze with her mom later:

It's going to be fun watching her grow up!

This visit was also filled with activities. I love movies but don't get to the theater much at home, so when I visit we always go to the decadent theater by my sister's house. It's a regular theater, AMC I think, but they have some theaters that also serve food. There are a couple of levels of these, but we go to the most decadent one with leather seats that have a little motor to recline the seat and raise the foot rest. Extremely comfortable!! And they have waiters to take your order and bring your food. My sisters and I saw The Boss with Melissa McCarthy. It was amusing and we had a good time.

Another tradition we just started at Christmas is getting a Chinese foot massage at Long Life Foot Massage in Olathe, KS. Their foot massage includes the entire body and is incredible! We opted for the 90-minute massage. It was so relaxing that I kept dozing off!

We also started a new tradition on this trip. This one included the whole family. My sister heard about this place in Kansas City that is a real-life version of those adventure games they have on the computer. It's called Break-Out KC and what you do is go into a room where you are locked in and have to find clues and solve puzzles until you finally figure out the combination for the lock on the door and get out. You have an hour to try to solve everything. I won't go into detail about the puzzles because this is a public forum and I don't want to give anything away. But I will tell you that it was a really fun thing to do and I loved doing it with my family. We all had our different talents and skills, and it was fun seeing how everyone stepped up to the task. Unfortunately, we didn't solve the room (our room had a 19% success rate), but we're definitely going to try another room when I go back. And there's another place that does the same thing so we'll be trying that one out, too, to see how they compare. Here we are after the game:

For those who don't know us, from left to right we have: Trevor, Linda, Terra, me, Kelsey, Sue and Lindsey. As you probably guessed, Sue and Linda are my sisters. Trevor, Kelsey and Lindsey are Sue's kids, and Terra is Linda's. They are an incredible group of "kids!" Trevor is a software engineer, following in the analytical footsteps of myself and my sisters (Linda and I are software engineers; Sue is the CFO of an oncologist partnership). The girls went instead into the healthcare industry. Terra is a nurse; Kelsey is a Respiratory Therapist; Lindsey is a freshman in college, studying to be a doctor or a veterinarian. A very smart and talented group, and I am so proud of each of them that I burst at the seams!

And this is how Lance spent his time in Kansas City:

He LOVES sitting in the chair behind Linda. If he sees her walking towards the chair, he'll run around her and jump up. If she's already in the chair, he'll just hop up and snuggle in behind her. Very cute!

While I was in Kansas City, I was also able to avoid our biggest snow storm of the season so far. Our neighborhood got over 40" of snow the weekend after I left. We have a webcam in the neighborhood so I was able to keep an eye on how the snow was melting and I ended up waiting an extra day before driving back. I wanted to make sure I would be able to drive up the driveway since there's no place on the road to leave the car while I shovel. I was glad I waited! I made it up the driveway, but don't think I could have gotten over the pile of snow at the end of the driveway left by the plow if I had come back on Thursday, as planned. Here's what the driveway looked like:

The driveway itself had 8-10" of that heavy, wet, melting snow that you get in the spring, but the end of the driveway had about twice that. We had some more good melting today, so that helped a lot. We have another month or so of possible dumps, but will have more and more nice weather in between as summer finds its way up here.

Well, that's my week. I hope you're having a wonderful week, too!


Sunday, April 10, 2016

More Knitting

 Hi all -

First, last post I forgot to include a quote to finish my quote challenge from Terry Knott. (She's been doing some interesting quilting that she shares in her latest blog post, if you want to check it out.) So, here is my final quote:

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." -- Maya Angelou

Definitely something I need to remember!

On the quilting side, I've continued working on quilting my Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt. There's really not much more to see than I showed you last time.

I've done a bunch more knitting, too. I realized that I should include information about the pattern with each of my knitting projects to acknowledge the designer and to give me a reference if I want to go back and make something again. So I will try to do that from now on.

My first hat was from the Spiralini Hat pattern by Jane Tanner of Knit Jane Knit. This was a pretty cool pattern because the spiral is created by the stitches that are used, not by offsetting the pattern with each round. I was really surprised at how this worked. Here is a side view of the hat:

And the top:

And here is Lance modelling for us:

Doesn't he look debonair in this slouchy style hat???

My second hat is called Brambles by Amanda Muscha of Strange Knits. What drew me to this pattern was how it looks from the top:

Isn't that cool? And here it is from the side:

Lots of cool cables! It's hard to see the hat on Lance:

My final hat for this time is the Butterfly Hat by Sofiya Cremin. Even though the description was good, it took me a while to figure out how to make the butterflies. I think I had a picture in my head of how the butterflies would be made before reading the instructions and that kept me from understanding how to do it at first. But once I got it figure out, everything went really well. Here is a side shot of the hat:

And a close-up of one of the butterflies:

Isn't that cool? And a shot of the top:

 Finally, my beautiful Lance showing it off:

Since I was getting sick of the pink yarn (yes, there's still quite a lot left!), I decided to pull out some fun yarn and make a cowl for my sister for her birthday next week. I used the Fir Cone Cowl pattern by Vermont Farmhouse Designs. The color of the cowl is actually a little lighter than in the picture:

I decided not to have Lance model this one because it was so nicely blocked that I didn't want to mess it up.

Lance has been having a lot of fun lately enjoying the spring snow before it disappears. Last weekend we still had quite a bit left from the blizzard. While I was hanging the laundry on the line, Lance was running around the house like a crazy dog. Here he is mid-leap:

Then he would come to a screeching stop and sit completely still on top of the piles the come off the roof:

It was hilarious!! I tried to take a little movie, but I couldn't figure out how to do that on my camera. Oh well, the pictures are still funny!

Finally, I started to work on my Hoffman Challenge quilt. As promised, I'll scroll down the page really far so if you are also working on the challenge and don't want to see what I'm doing, you can move on. Thanks for stopping by!

For those of you not familiar with the Hoffman Challenge, Hoffman is a fabric company who picks a fabric each year and you have to make a quilt using that fabric in whatever way you want. There is no specific minimum amount of the fabric you have to use in the quilt, the fabric just has to be recognizable in the top. This year, for the first time, there are actually two fabrics that you can choose from, one with a white background and the other with black:

The black and white made me think of yin-yang so I thought I'd make a large yin-yang symbol. I started off by printing out a large symbol (about 27" square). I plan to use the 6-minute circle technique described by Dale Fleming in Pieced Curves So Simple for all of the curved piecing. To do this, I need freezer paper patterns for the different curves, so I cut the printed pattern so I could trace around it:

Then I started preparing the freezer paper. I've read that freezer paper shrinks when ironed, so I ironed each individual piece:

The pattern is wider than the freezer paper, so I ironed two pieces together to get the needed width:

I did this twice, then ironed them together to get a double-thick piece. I rotated the top piece 90 degrees so the seams would only cross in a small place:

Then I traced around the pattern:

I need the part outside of the circle for piecing the final yin-yang symbol to the background so I cut carefully on the line and put that piece aside. I used a rotary cutter to start the cut since I needed both the inside and the outside to be pristine, then finished the cut with scissors because I was worried about going off the line with the rotary cutter. I then cut the yin and yang apart in the pattern and traced that boundary:

With some careful cutting, I now how two patterns for the yin and the yang:

I'll let these sit for a bit while I decide whether I'm going to use the Hoffman fabric for the yin and yang, or I'm going to use solids for the yin and yang and use the Hoffman fabrics somewhere else.

That's it for now. I hope you're finding some time to follow your passions and feed your creativity,