Cuckoo For Cuckoo Clocks

I love cuckoo clocks. One of my most prized possessions is a cuckoo clock that I inherited from my great-grandmother, Anne Chambers. I remember it from when I was a little girl in Tennessee. Whenever we would visit, my sisters and I would gather under the clock and countdown until the cuckoo appeared on the hour.

Over the years, I've added a few clocks to my collection. One is an antique I found at a flea market; it doesn't keep time, but probably could with a little work and a little luck finding spare parts.
Two other cuckoo clocks were purchased at a shop in Solvang that has an entire wall of cuckoos. I love going in and listening to the ticking, the different bird calls, and the variety of tunes. It's a real struggle not to buy another clock every time I'm there.The majority of my cuckoos are one-day clocks; they have to be wound every day. This is my only seven-day, and my only musical clock. It plays two different tunes, one for a.m. and the second for p.m. Pretty clever, huh?
Remember Kevin, the guy that took over my job when I retired? (Everybody wave to Kevin.) Kevin just got back from a three week trip to Germany, where he has family. Before he left, he asked if I'd like him to bring me anything. (I think he asked everybody in the office. I heard he brought back two very large bags of really good chocolate to distribute.) So, what did I ask for? Need you ask? Here's my newest cuckoo clock, straight from Germany's Black Forest.
It's gorgeous! I plan to hang it in a place of honor in my new studio. Thanks, Kevin!

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Spinning Challenge

I'm a bit disappointed with my progress for the first week of the Summer Spinning Challenge. My goal is to spin 4 hours each week - which I did. The other part is to spin Grover, a 7.5 pound fleece, into yarn for a sweater. I didn't spin any of Grover this week - I'm still working on the BFL I bought at Stick and Stone Fiberarts. But I did get more of Grover washed. Before the Challenge began, I had divided the fleece into "best" and "seconds"; all of the "best" wool is now washed and drying. I love the color and crimp in this fleece. It is truly gorgeous.
I plan to use the new picker on Grover and each night I make plans to do it the next day. And each day, something else comes up that "must" be done. Since I have to give Susie the picker next Wednesday, I better get my rear in gear and get something accomplished.

But not tomorrow. Tomorrow I have to finish my part of Vickie's birthday present so Wenona can start her part on Saturday. And Saturday is wedding dress shopping with Lisa. Sunday is
also taken - we are taking the double decker bus tour of L.A. with Lisa and her maid of honor, who is visiting from New York. I've lived in California for 30+ years and never done the bus tour. Can't wait to play tourist! But that means I won't get any picking done until Monday. This is exactly why I signed on for the Challenge. I need to concentrate and spin!

Earlier this week I bowed to Gary's pleas and allowed him, for the first time, to get his hair cut without parental supervision. Just for grins, I took a before
photo: and here is the after photo. Or maybe this is the before and that one is the after. Hard to tell, isn't it? Needless to say, parental guidance will be back in force for the next haircut. For $20, I'd like to see more than just one hair cut.

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Happy Birthday, Lisa! (And FO!)

Today is Lisa's twenty-something birthday. (Yes, I know which birthday, but I'm not telling.) She celebrated at work with a party featuring the fabulous fresh fruit basket her mother sent. Mouthwateringly gorgeous. Matt had to work, so Dick, Gary and I took Lisa to dinner at her favorite Italian restaurant. It is the only one she has found, in the entire area, that has "real" cannoli. And for an Italian girl, real cannoli is a must on your birthday. The meal was great - as always - and at the end, the wait staff sang Happy Birthday (Lisa was thoroughly embarrassed) and presented Lisa with ice cream, which Gary was happy to eat since Lisa still wanted her cannoli. The silver bracelet she's modeling - along with a ring that's not pictured - was her birthday gift from Matt. He also sent the three bouquets of roses pictured on her desk at 'blog central'. (One on Monday, another on Tuesday and the final one today. He's a pretty smart guy.) Dick and I gave Lisa a necklace with blue stones and a blue afghan that I made. It's huge - it covered most of our dining room floor when I laid it out to photograph. But it should keep Lisa warm on the nights Matt has to work.
(Finished Object (FO) Technical Stuff: made with Lion Brand's Homespun in Montana Sky, Windsor, and Delft using an "N" hook.)

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So Cute When They're Asleep

Why is it that cats - just like kids - are so much cuter when they're asleep? When they're awake, they sure like to make messes. Just like the one I woke up to today. Oreo has a thing for balls of yarn. She bats them around, under and over and through things, until they are a tangled, impossible to unravel, mess. Her favorite thing is to knock them under my chair, where they get wrapped around the springs; the only way to unsnarl them out is to upend the chair and break out the scissors. And now that I'm in the process of moving from the old craft room to the studio, she has two rooms with yarn toys. I had most of the craft room yarn out of her reach; it didn't occur to me that she'd start on the studio yarn. She knocked over stacks of plastic bins and had at least six separate balls in play. What a mess.Oreo doesn't like toy balls, just yarn balls. I try to keep my good yarn (expensive stuff like Noro and my handspun) out of her reach. But it is getting harder to do. She watches where I put them, waits until I'm not looking, and then makes a grab for them. And she's learned to open drawers. (This photo is from a few weeks ago.)Which is what led to today's biggest disaster. I was keeping yarn from current projects in the top drawer next to my chair. She managed to pull the top drawer all the way out, turning it upside down in my chair. The other two drawers got knocked to the ground, along with a drinking glass, books, stitch markers & other miscellanea. Good thing she's cute or she'd be looking for a new home about now.

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Good News - Bad News

Always start with the good news, right?

First, my news. I won! I won! A couple of months ago, I donated $$ to Claudia's bike ride to benefit MS, in honor of my buddy, Diane. At the time, I don't think I even knew Claudia was offering prizes. But she's a knitter and a blogger and was raising money for a charity I support, so I donated. (Claudia raised $17,800.09!!! Hooray for Claudia and all the fiber people who donated.)

Today I get an email from Claudia saying I won a 400 yard skein of hand-painted lace weight cashmere! Then I get an email from Deb of Fearless Fibers asking me to go to her eBay store and pick out any. skein. I. want. It was a tough, tough decision but I finally settled on the 'Exotic Wood' colorway.
(Deep Sea and Wisteria made the decision harder.) Can't wait to receive it!

Now, Rachel's good news. John proposed on Saturday and Rachel said yes. (What? You thought she'd say something else??) Even though there is only a little water in the lake, they went out on the boat and that's where he asked her.
Rachel promised to send pictures of her ring; ahem, still waiting. She described it as a square cut diamond in an "invisible" setting, so you can see all around the stone. Sounds lovely. Dick and I both like John a lot. He makes Rachel happy - which makes us happy.

Which brings us to the bad news. On Sunday, Rachel was backing the boat up to the dock and hit
the ramp with the propeller. The water level is so low, she didn't realize how close she was. The sudden stop threw her into the boat's dashboard and her knee took the brunt of the force. (Baby's fine.) This is the same knee that she dislocated in high school and that still gives her fits on a regular basis.

She went to the doctor today because she can't bend her leg and it hurts to touch the kneecap (which, Gary informed me, is the 'patella'. See, he did learn something in high school.) Her doctor thinks the kneecap is cracked but xrays were inconclusive; since she can't bend her leg, they weren't able to get the correct view on the scan. Rachel said the technician was not happy to have a 5-months-pregnant woman in her lab; she put at least 4 lead shields on her before they got started. As it stands now, if Rachel is still unable to bend her leg by Friday, they will do an MRI to see if the patella is broken. Please send good thoughts and healing vibes Rachel's way.

Rather than close this on a negative note, here's a scrapbook page I did earlier this year for a contest at Scrapbooker's Villa (it won). Rachel, age 10. Isn't she cute?

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Not What I Had Planned

Neither the day nor the evening went as I had planned. Dick and I were busy working on my studio when we received a call reminding us that we had tickets to see 'Joseph And The Technicolor Dream Coat' at the Pantages tonight. We had completely forgotten. Fortunately, it was a very good show. Not, as Gary kept pointing out, as good as the production we saw in London two years ago. But still good.

If we had stayed home, the fireplace in my studio would be almost done.
It's not a 'real' fireplace. It burns a type of alcohol gel and doesn't require a chimney (no heat or smoke are produced; just lovely flames). Dick is building a mantle above the fireplace and bookshelves on each side. My new TV will go above the mantle. Can't wait for it to be finished!

And my evening after the play? Spent rebuilding my blog after Blogger - bless them - ate the code to more than half the template. My links, blog rings, Lila - all gone. So I spent the last four hours rebuilding it. It does look better and I learned some useful things, but I had other - better - plans for my evening. Like finishing the lovely Lisa's birthday present. A word to the wise - copy your template code, paste it into a word processing program, and save it in a safe place. You'll thank yourself someday.

I do have family news to report but I'm waiting on photos. Hopefully, I'll have them tomorrow. (Rachel! Lisa! send pictures!) (please)


Baby Sweater

Today's crochet class was fun, fun, fun! We used the Baby It's Cold Outside pattern from Crochet Me! (with permission from the designer.) It is a well written, easy pattern that makes a darling sweater. The colors are a little off in this photo. The body of the sweater is a light green and the trim is maroon. Very woodsy, very Colorado-y. I was able to get the sweater completely finished in class; it took just a smidge over 4 hours, which included making the buttons. I love it!
And I couldn't leave without a little retail therapy, right? I'd been resisting this book since it came out. But today, I finally gave up and gave in to my book obsession.
There is something for everyone in here - from skull caps (with skulls of course) to iPod covers, teddy bear hats, purses, lacy shawls, pillows and more. I can't wait to get started; the hardest part will be trying to decide what to do first.

I also made a quick trip to my favorite scrapbook store. Debra gave Wenona and I each a gift certificate for helping her with the crop at the fairgrounds last week. So I splurged and bought this:
With the gift certificate and today's 25% off sale, let's just say it was very affordable. Thanks, Debra!

(Technical Stuff: the sweater is made with Plymouth Yarn's Encore, 75% acrylic and 25% wool; using a "K" hook.)

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Baby Crochet

Finished! I love how the hat turned out. So lacy and sweet. I bought this book specifically for this pattern. And it didn't disappoint - the pattern was well written and interesting to crochet. The booties, on the other hand, I don't think I'd ever make again. The white section is all single crochet in the back loop only - I was basically working row after row, one half stitch at a time. It seemed to take forever. There are other patterns I'd like to try; no need to repeat this one.

Since Rachel doesn't know yet whether she is having a boy or a girl, this set isn't for her. It's a gift for the woman teaching tomorrow's crochet class at Anacapa Fine Yarn. She's expecting her first baby, a girl. Sure hope she likes this!

(Technical stuff: the purple yarn is Daelgarn's Baby Ull, 100% washable wool; the white is Paton's Kroy Socks yarn, 75% washable wool & 25% nylon. I used a "D" hook.)

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The Joys of Summer

Summer School Rant - You may want to skip this section.

Summer school started today for the teenager. Summer classes at Cam High run from 7:40 a.m. to noon. He signed up - back in March - for English, which he needs to graduate next June. We got him to school by 7:40 . . . . and by 9:15, said teenager is back home. WTH?? Seems not enough students signed up for summer English, so the District cancelled the class. Back in April. Without telling anyone. They didn't bother to notify the parents or those students who did sign up. Did I mention he needs this class to graduate?!?!?

Being a very unhappy camper, I called the school. Explained the problem. "We'll call you back." Fumed. Worried. Got a call back. Negotiated a compromise (No, he really can't go to another school in the district. No, he can't take the class in adult ed next year (he has to take another class that he also needs to graduate). Yes, he really, really needs to attend summer school or he won't graduate.)

So, he is taking a math class first session and an elective second session.
(horticulture?!? They cancel all the English classes in summer session but they still offer HORTICULTURE???) And in August, I get to call his counselor and try to get him in the English class for Fall session. He'll have two English classes at the same time, but he'll survive. Fortunately, he does pretty well in English.


I am so stealing this idea. She's right. It's brilliant!

Moms and Dads, has your teen done something horrible and is on restriction?

Do they keep asking you dumb questions, like if they can do stuff (like breathe and smile)?

Do what I did when I got tired of giving the same answer - make a sign!

It's amazingly effective! Now all I have to do is point ;o)"

Le Tour de Fleece

I signed up for another spinning challenge. Le Tour de Fleece takes place during the Tour de France, beginning July 1 and ending on or before July 23. Each participant sets their own goal; doesn't matter what the specific goal is, the idea is to challenge yourself. Those who meet their challenge will get a 'yellow jersey' award button for their blog, much like the award buttons given out during the Knitting Olympics.

My goal for Le Tour is different than my goal for the Summer Spinning Challenge. The Challenge goes for several months; I want to spin an entire fleece into yarn for a sweater. For Le Tour de Fleece, my challenge will be to get Bekki, my new-to-me Ashford Traveler, into spinning condition and then spin 8 oz of roving from my stash into a sport-weight yarn for a shawl. Bekki needs a new drive band - which I just received - and some tweaking before she will spin well. I'm really looking forward to getting to know her better. Let the Tour begin!



Finished object! (What did you think it meant??) Tiny little baby booties. Aren't they adorable? This is the first baby item I've made from the stash of books I bought recently. This particular book ("Baby Steps") has patterns for 12 different booties. And I may make all 12 - the patterns are well written, fun and - best of all - fast.

At Saturday's birthday party at Anacapa Fine Yarns, I added this book to my collection. I fell in love with the cabled baby sweater and hat - which I plan to make in Christmas red. I hope the pattern is written better than the ones in her Felted Crochet book; I wasn't impressed with that book. Nice ideas, pretty pictures; I didn't like how the patterns turned out.

Today is the start of the Summer Spinning Challenge - and I spun! My goal is to spin 4 hours each week and to spin enough of "Grover" (a gorgeous 7.5 pound silver gray Lincoln-Columbia fleece) to make myself a sweater. I spun for 2 hours today, but not on Grover. I spun this: into this: This is BFL (Bluefaced Leicester) dyed by Janel Laidman that I bought from Stick & Stone Fiberarts in Van Nuys. I love the colors - so sunny and cheerful.

And to top the day off, look what arrived in the mail.
I ordered new drive bands (love the colors!) for Bekki (Ashford Traveler) and the temperamental Eleanor (Dundas wheel) and a sizing guide that will hopefully help me spin more consistent yarn. Susan at Spinning Bunny got these to me in just 3 days. I'm impressed!


Separated At Birth

We joke that cousins Gary & Breanne were separated at birth, despite their 6 year age difference. They are so much alike, it is sometimes scary. They finish each other's sentences, like the same music and artists (Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher), laugh at the same jokes, and have the same temperaments. And they can both fall asleep anywhere, including the family room sofas at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Breanne (science major at Pepperdine) is determined that Gary (high school senior) will continue his education into college. She is very good at encouraging him, editing his term papers, and helping him with math concepts. Today, she took him along on a college field trip at the Getty to study Impressionist painters. The lecture was "dry" but they both enjoyed the paintings, comparing them to art they saw on our recent Paris trip. Next up? A jaunt to CSU Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara to see if Gary might like to attend those schools.

Progress was made on the craft room. Susie suggested I call it the "Studio" since I will use it for my fiber arts. So, studio it is. I really like how the green paint looks against the oak cabinets*.
Dick finished framing the window and I unloaded the cabinets in my old craft room so they could be moved into the studio. Next up is organizing my various stashes so they can be loaded into the cupboards. One cabinet will be for scrapbooking supplies and the other for ready-to-spin rovings. Fleece and large amounts of roving will be kept in plastic tubs. See that stack of storage bins to the right of the cabinets? Not a huge stash, right? Yeah, except I still have all this to move there as well. Dick is going to build an oak cabinet to fit around the bins so they will blend into the room and I will still have easy access to them.

I plan to organize my yarn by type/usage and put it in the drawers of one cabinet and in the clear plastic drawers above. The four cabinets and drawers along the window wall will each hold supplies for one craft - weaving, spinning, crochet, and scrapbooking. Progress is slow, but steady. I love my studio!

*Curious about the fish? Gary won them at Sea World several years ago by knocking over milk cans with a baseball. It was 3 balls for $1. He won the red fish with the first dollar - and with his second dollar, he won the purple fish for me! He kept the red fish in his room until he out grew it. The red fish now belongs to AJ; she claimed it as her own when I had it on top of a cabinet in my previous craft room. She loves sleeping with the fishes. (sorry!)



I was hoping to move the cabinets into my craft room tonight, but we are still a day away from completion. Dick painted the final wall this morning and I started cleaning up the cement dust this afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow will see me moved in (but not organized - it's going to take more than one day to accomplish that.)

Here's the new wall -
and the new oak window ledge. Dick is planning to design and install a stained glass window in the opening. It will be backlit and visible from the family room, but not from my craft room. (I want to keep the storage space along that wall.)

Snickers played Guard Kitty - or maybe it was Supervisor Kitty;
she was fascinated by all the goings-on today. Normally she would be hiding out from all the noise. Maybe she won't be Chicken Kitty much longer.

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