Saturday, December 29, 2007

Double, double

There is lots to be said about "doubling" up on things.

My daughter Anna Maria's best childhood friend is expecting twins in a few months. We were excited to be part of hosting showers for her--one in my home for her high school friends, and another at church today for our parish community.

So far, my handiwork for baby gifts has been quilts, but I decided to break the mold this time and knit baby blankets. So I "doubled up" on some knitting. I did learn in this knitting process that the same size, but different composition, needle will yield a different guage. I used bamboo on the first (blue) blanket, but because the joint from the needle to the circular's "wire" was not smooth and my yarn kept catching, I switched to all plastic for the second (pink). Wow, what a difference. By the time I realized there was such a difference, I was too far along with not enough time left to go back and redo the pink for them to be identical. You can probably see the difference in the photo that I took as I was ready to wrap them.

There were several hostesses for the church shower today and a joint gift was purchased. My task for the shower was to get the corsage. I also volunteered to use my poinsettias for the serving table decoration. "Doubling up" all the way around here. Keep that stash ladies, every last bit of it. You never know when you can use the tiniest pieces of fabric.

The decoration theme for the shower today was rubber duckies.

Guess what, I made flannel duckie PJs for one of my granddaughters a couple years ago. I had only 2 small pieces of the fabric left, probably only 5x5 inches. Just put some craft weight "wonder under" on it, cut out the duckies with my embroidery scissors and voila, with a glue gun, there's a little something extra in the corsage!

Use another little duckie, along with some more stash (just plain gingham, again stiffened up with some "wonder under") and you've got a themed floral arrangement. These same poinsettias, by the way were wrapped in pink and blue gingham for the shower at my house earlier in the week--after being in the gold foil from the nursery for Christmas. (I usually use red poinsettias, but this I year opted for the white, knowing that they might soften the Christmas decor a bit for the shower.) Gee, I guess that's "tripling up"!

But I wouldn't wish "tripling up" for you, Jennie--doubling up with your twins is quite enough, don't you think?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ah, Crochet is pretty good too!

I haven't crocheted in so long. It was really nice to be forced back in to that wonderful form and needlework to finish the edge of my baby blanket.

And, yes, to those of you who know that there was to be a matching pink one: it is also finished. Nina, if you are reading this, no fair telling Jenny before Wednesday!

But back to crochet, I think one of my all favorite crochet items are "doilies". I have so many from my mother-in-law and sisters-in law and I love them. And this time of year, I think there's nothing much better than a Christmas tree with lots of crocheted snow flakes. (Oh, I guess I should admit: No, I didn't make these; they are a mail order purchase.)

Now that I'm up to date on my knitting, and the first group of family Christmas visitors have come and gone, I think I'll actually get back to my quilting project that has been so patiently awaiting my return.

And in the meantime, even though it's a night early: from our East Tennessee home

from Mary Lynn and Terry

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I promise I'll be back soon--just busy being busy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Somehow I can't read that title statement without hearing Julie Andrew's voice singing it!

But that's not what this is about. Goodness, so much to do in these days as we near the holidays.

In addition to placing hardware on the walls for me to hang drapery and knowing that he must help me assemble our large Christmas tree before I host a luncheon next week, my dear husband was still willing to hang a rod for me to display one of my favorite (albeit first) quilts. Several years ago, before the family farm was sold, I found pieced squares that my maternal grandmother had hand sewn. (They are pre 1948 as that is the year she died.) I purchased some off white flannel to back the squares, sewed them together, hand quilted them around the patterns, and viola, my first quilt. Although I have used it for some of the grandchildren, I have decided to consider in an heirloom and display it as such.

I have purchased some 1930s replica children's prints for a quilt that I will use to cover the babies from now on. My purchased prints are so much like the print in this central square that it's almost uncanny.

And this is the "hope chest" where those squares were stashed in our Indiana farm attic. The chest had been my mother's 1932 high school graduation gift from her parents. The poor cedar chest was in terrible condition when I found it, with much water damage. I had the top veneer replaced and I refinished the wood. This is perhaps one of my most precious material possessions.

And now for some holiday magic. Although we all know that this is not the reason for the holiday, I love Santas and I have managed with the help of market shopping with my daughter Eleni to get a pretty nice collection. This is the new one for the year. If you look closely, you may see the needle and thread in his hand.

Right now Santa and his elves are sitting on the cutting table in my laundry/sewing room. I hate that not too many people will see it there. Either I will have to move it, or send my guests to the laundry room "potty" instead of the powder room!

I just had to show him to you before tomorrow since December 6 is the day that the Christian world commemorates St. Nicholas. Almost every Orthodox Christian church world wide will celebrate Liturgy tomorrow in memory of this great Saint. And yes, dear grandson, Nicolas, he IS your saint!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Ah, the joy of a special treat from a great little knitting shop in Soho, NYC. My daughter Anna Maria was there last week for a segment on the Martha Stewart show. And she just can't let a visit to NYC go by without a trip to Purl Soho. (I was with her there once myself, and it is a wonderful little store.) When she and her husband arrived home and walked in the door, the children (the older ones who were still awake, that is) eagerly waited to see what goodies Mom and Dad brought home for them. They were all happy, but none happier than "Nani" with the surprise that she got:

some luxurious soc yarn and a great little knitting book.

I fact, after I brought her two little girls home with me, I just had to take a break from my baby blanket knitting and try out one of the patterns. Last year I had made a beret to go with the sweater for one of the girls, but didn't have enough sweater yarn left for big sister. What to do? Mom, Anna Maria, had made a crochet scarf for her, so two little girls happily went with me to JoAnn's last week to find yarn that would look good with the scarf. She picked out the perfect yarn. I found a pattern in the book that was knitting with 2 strands at a time so it would go quickly.

I left out the "Nordic" pattern and Isabela wanted a pompom, so this is what we got:

Not bad for about 3 hours, huh? She loves it and happily wore it when she went for a walk at Grandpa Ben's farm where we reunited two happy little girls with their Mom, Dad, and siblings on Thanksgiving day.

Now, back to my baby blanket.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. And may we all learn to be more thankful to our God above for all that he has bestowed upon us.

Oh, how I'm going to miss those busy arms around me for little girl, night time hugs--just one of the many things I am thankful for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ah, the joys of life

Yes, some of the best joys of life--incredibly better than even knitting and quilting--are grandchildren. I was busy last week caring for Anna Maria's children while she and her husband were in New York for Anna Maria's stint on the Martha Stewart show.
On the evening before Mom and Dad left, I made it very clear that Nicolas, the "tree climber", would not be allowed to do this while Mom and Dad were away. (That's his brother, Joseph half way up--thankfully, not quite so brave.)

Apparently I had everything pretty well under control as Leo, the Lab, seemed pretty relaxed with my presence. Oops, sorry Anna, I think he's not supposed to be on that patio couch!

I got to have even some extra time with some of the children, bringing Isabela and Eleni home with me, to be returned on Thanksgiving day when we meet up with Mom, Dad, and siblings at their other grandparents house. Part of the fun of their visit here was to take them to Dollywood on Sunday after church. The favorite part of the little one's day was the "horses".

This really is about knitting: the sweaters tied around the waist and neck are two of the "Nani" sweaters.

I'm not really sure how I managed to get written to you all before they are out of bed, but there it is!

Monday, November 12, 2007


Just wanted to give you all a little greeting, wishing you a great week.
So I thought I'd share my last rose of the summer:

I won't be able to keep you up to date on my "doings" this week. I'm headed out in the morning to my daughter Anna Maria's to baby sit. Most of you found me through her blog, I know. But for those who may have found me some other way and haven't been reading her blog, the reason I am baby sitting for her is that she and her husband will be in New York.


So tune in to see my baby, if you get a chance.

I'm taking my knitting with me, young Joseph will get his sweater, and I think I'll even take my drapery fabric with me to spread it out in her studio space. Hmmm, maybe I'll even take some of my stash quilting fabric and do some cutting and piecing. That sounds like more fun that making drapes! Gee, I wonder just how much of that I can get done while little Eleni is napping! My guess is, a lot of it will be left to do when I return home.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Goodness me, so much to get done, so little time. I like the idea that one of my e-friends shared the other day in a discussion of doing our own quilting or sending our quilts out to be stitched. There just aren't enough hours left in our lifetimes to do all the quilts we want to do if we take the time do hand quilt them all! So I'm thinking that my next large quilt project just might be sent out. I'll still do the baby quilts on my machine because that is doable for me, especially after watching a "Simply Quilts" show the other day on the subject.

In the meantime, still a lot of other things on my plate right now:
the Christmas PJs

and a baby blanket.

So my hand quilting project stays on its frame by the window, patiently waiting for my return.

While at the other window, my newly transported hibiscus is waiting for next summer to go back outside. Gosh, maybe I could use that for my Christmas tree this year and save some time decorating!

With all this to do, it's wonderful to awaken to a beautiful East Tennessee dawn to brighten my day for the work that's always awaiting me.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Ah, it's finally beginning to really feel like fall in East Tennessee. I think we might even have to turn the heat on one of these days. Time to break out the fall socks. Hmm, I think I can probably replace my old standard silly socs

with my new bamboo hand knitted ones.

It's a good thing I brought some of my plants in yesterday; I think a freeze is predicted one night next week.

(Those copper pieces in the center were my husband's grandmothers--one of my favorite inherited items--and one my favorite fun things from daughter Eleni's shop is the fake baby olive tree just right of the copper.)

I hope young Joseph doesn't get too cold waiting for the school bus before I take his birthday sweater to him when I go to Nashville to baby sit while his mom is in New York to be on the Martha Stewart show.

Of course, anyone that knows anything about SEC football knows that there is a group of boaters known as the "Vol Navy" who take their boats to the river docks just adjacent to Neyland stadium. Many of those boats pass right by our house--of course, lots today for homecoming. That's also a sure sign of fall. We're not in to going to the games, just watching on TV or listening on the radio. Today is one of those beautiful, crisp days that just feels like a football stadium would be a fun place to be.
But I'll just stay home and take a walk. The leaves have turned a bit more, but still not the typical fall color that we would have had if we were not in a drought.

(I promise I wasn't going more that 25 MPH!)

But I'd better speed up and get back to my quilting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Changing Seasons

Well, my trip to daughter Eleni's over the week end did prove to show that fall really is here and winter will follow close behind.

There were very few bright colored trees (I'm sure because of the dry weather we have had here) on the trip over the mountains on Thursday, but on the way home, the leaves were already gone! Must have been quite a windy couple days.
I did get a couple shots in the foothills on the South Carolina side of the mountains.

In a few days, I'm hoping this view from my sewing room window will have a little more color.

But winter coming? Besides the pretty cool Sunday morning temperature in South Carolina, and frost on Tuesday morning here in East Tennessee, getting ready for Christmas is a sure sign that winter is coming. I had lots of fun in Eleni's shop while she was gone and the children were in school. I got to unpack a lot of her Christmas items. I'm not really sure which were my favorites. She has some of the most beautiful florals I have ever seen.

And while they look pretty good just stuck in a vase the way I did it (although, even the photos don't do them justice) her arrangements are so much better . . . absolutely fantastic.

She also carries Mark Robert's "Fairies" which have apparently become quite a popular collector's item in some circles. This is just one of the many that I unpacked.

I remember how much I liked this Nativity set when I was at "market" with her in January. (The light streaming in the shop window made it a little difficult to get a good photo, but I just had to share it with you.)

OK, if Christmas is coming, I'd better get back to work on those jammies!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yep, it's a funky fall

All right, this is getting ridiculous. I wanted to show you a photo of our fall leaves, but alas, they are not "fall" leaves just quite yet. I will be taking a trip through the Smokie Mountains tomorrow (on my way to grandchild--they are not babies--sit in Columbia, SC.). Perhaps I can get some good photos of an Appalacian fall for you after all somewhere along the way. We shall see.

If not that, I will at least be able to show you some of the fun things in daughter Eleni's shop. Most of you know my daughter Anna Maria; I thought I'd like to show you a little of her big sister's artistic talent as well.

On the home front, I am hoping to return to some real fall colors on the trees. I admittedly do have some nice mums, but along with them I also have

a springtime shamrock,

a summer rose,

and my crazy Christmas cactus . . .

Everything is so crazy with the flowers of nature, let's just make our own beauties knitting or quilting. Oh, that reminds me, I need to go put some yarn and needles in my suitcase! I think I'll even take my quilt with me and try my hand at quilting with the work on my lap--that is when I'm not holding Eleni's miniature dachsund, Fiona.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ah, fall in the air! Even if it is nearly 80 degrees out, you can still just FEEL it! As I look out the laundry/sewing room window and see the leaves blowing and slowly changing from green to beautiful yellows and reds (I'll share a photo of that when there is just a bit more color.), it's for sure that autumn is beginning. But with the fall winds blowing, it means that winter and Christmas can't be to far behind. That tells this "Nani" that it's time to get crackin' on those PJs for the grandchildren. (My husband swears I'll be making them PJs when they're 40. Not to worry, I won't be around that long.) Just how long will I keep making them? I don't know. Granted the oldest is almost 16; perhaps she thinks it's kind of a"lame" gift, but if she does, she doesn't let on. And of course she doesn't mind the little gift certificate tucked inside the package, either. I guess it may be time to start that with her 12 year old cousin, too.

You've seen some of the fabric. Well, I've got the rest now and did some more cutting today.
My daughter-in-law mentioned that her 5 year old is really in to night gowns now instead of pajams. So, the 4 younger girls will get gowns:

This for 6 and 3 year old sisters.

And this for their 5 & 8 year old cousins.

This fabric is so nice. I got it at a quilt shop and the quality is so much better that the sale flannel I used to buy. Not as many novelty prints to choose from, but I thought this might be a little change. The fabric just feels so good that I couldn't wait to get it cut out to see how much fabric might be left for a quilt. I'm thinking a "hearts and flowers" quilt. Hmmmmm, like I don't have enough not-even-begun-quilts in my stash closet!

Speaking of quilts, I am still plugging away on the hand quilting I started a few weeks ago. I finally have a comfort level of "rocking" the needle, using an under thimble.

I like this thimble for my stitching hand:

Still lots of frogging ("rip it, rip it"), here and there, but I'm slowly progressing.
Although these next photos are not very clear, you may be able to see how much smaller my
newer stitches are

compared some earlier ones!

Nowhere near 15/inch that a cyber friend told me that she gets! I guess I'll just have to keep at it! So I guess I'll close here and do just that!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


OK, I'm a little confused: it was almost 90 degrees yet again yesterday. I was even able to take a nice swim on Sunday and Monday.

But my front porch mum is looking really good:

and my Christmas cactus is beginning to bloom!

So I guess that means it's just about flannel time and I really can start on those Christmas PJs for the grandchildren (10 and counting--another due in Feb). My daughter, Anna Maria, suggested last year that for the older children I just make PJ bottoms and get coordinating knit shirts. What a time saver and the kids love them! So that's the plan again this year. I have already picked up a few fabrics

Oops, sorry about the blurry photos!

and shirts

over the last few months, so no reason I can't get started even before a trip to the fabric store.

So I guess instead of talking about it, I'd just better do it. Not to worry, though, sewing is my daytime work so I'm still able to keep up with my knitting and quilting in the evening!