Friday, November 27, 2009

Martha Stewart's Snowflake
Decorations — Stiffened Doilies

Simple, yet stunning and if you use TATTED doilies, you probably won't need to stiffen! 

Martha Stewart's Doily Snowflakes

Friday, November 13, 2009

Image reprinted with permission from Urban

Wouldn't this machine embroidery pattern from Urban Threads looks cool (no pun intended) on hand towels for the holidays? Just sayin'...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Martha Stewart gets me every time. Loop-edge Paper punches:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

You're Invited!

Bostonians (and visitors) are so lucky! They are perfectly positioned to go see Carol Gillott's watercolor art exhibit, "Paris Façades" at the Alliance Française Boston. Wish I were so lucky.

But if you can't see it in person, content yourself with the delightful Paris dreams she paints every day and posts on her blog, Paris Breakfasts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Tea Rap by The Tea Cup Mafia

Oh Sweet Mercy! The Tea Rap by The Tea Cup Mafia that Tatting Goddess posted today over at Threads of a Tatting Goddess is a riot! Who knew?

You really must go pay her blog a visit to catch this video. Just be duly warned, the language is gangstah (not PG-rated).  Take that, coffee snobs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

eebee Adventure Board Book Giveaway

Just had to share this awesome giveaway that Jentifa is currently having at The Dirty Shirt.

eebee is an adorable puppet that helps spark babies' and toddlers' imaginations for learning.

eebee’s Make it Happen and From Here to There adventure board books are based on the award-winning brand, eebee’s adventures. Winner of 20 national parenting awards including NAPPA’s Gold Seal Award, Parent’s Choice Gold, and the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, and whole-heartedly acclaimed by popular mommy bloggers across the country, eebee’s adventures is the innovative and popular multi-platform infant and toddler brand for today’s active families.

So go on over and enter for your chance to win!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"It's Dead, Jim."

Sill Hat Central's lone household PC died. It is not currently reading the hard drive as a boot-able device. I will be offline until it gets fixed. Until further notice, this is IsDihara, signing off!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

LIPDUB - UQAM - "I've Got a Feeling"

This takes me back to my French Immersion Summer à l'Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQATR). Wishing I could share it with mes chères amies.

If you ever stumble across my humble blog, Antoine, Oriana et tous les autres, this one is for you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Win A #Year of Lace

Re-Tweeting Icon_lock@yearoflace: I would love to win a subscription to the 2010 #yearoflace! Sign me up!

Go to the Year of Lace website to enter for your chance to win. And if you Twitter, don't go sign up or you'll make it harder for me to win. Just kidding and good luck!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Insider (Germ) Trading &
Motif #4 of 25 Motif Challenge

School is back in session and the first wave of germ trading has begun. Three days into the school term The Sprout got sick and developed an ear infection.

This is me blogging from bed, cuddled close to an alternately teary and talkative boy. He has been watching cartoons, marathon-style (Toy Story, Little Einsteins, Dinosaur Train or Pinky & The Brain). We have also read several books and even made up a few stories to break up the monotony.

And Big Daddy seems to have caught the germ(s) from Sprout. How I have managed to escape (so far) is a mystery. Knock on wood that I don't get it next!

Tatting under these conditions is not ideal, but I have managed to finish this little bit of lace for my design class homework. It is tatted in Manuela size 20.

Motif #4 for 25 Motif Challenge

It is my latest experiment with stabilizing chains. I worked rings after short series of chains and used a split ring-chain combo to add more strength. The design ended up being wavy and square. Added bonus! One repeat makes a nice chandelier earring, especially with beads or small dangly bits added.

Overall, I am pleased with the results even though it turned out to be more ornate than I expected. Stability and negative space are both good. It makes a nice motif #4 for the 25 Motif Challenge.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

They Might Be Giants, "The Elements"

I love TMBG!

Thank you,, for debuting this awesome video.

Can't wait for the arrival of the new album, "Here Comes Science!"

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rainbow Quiz

Everyone seems to be taking this quiz so here I go, lemming-like.
No surprises here.

Your rainbow is strongly shaded violet.


What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at

Friday, August 7, 2009

Stencil With Your Lace

New CraftStylish post "How to Do Spray Stencil Printing" using lace for the stencil.

Take your old snippets and cast offs to create a collage or scene.

Imagine the holiday gifting possibilities. Lace makes great looking snow and snowy effects.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Is She a Winner?

(Click on the photo for a larger view.)

YES! Look what I won.

Back on July 5th I posted about receiving a super-duper awesome gift in the mail from JB. It was my prize for winning the Pay It Forward Giveaway on her blog. The workmanship and thought that went into this gift were jaw-droppin' awesome and I'm thrilled to be able to show them to you now.

Isn't this the prettiest heart-shaped bookmark? Be sure to click on the image because it is even more beautiful close up. I cannot tell where she made her final thread joins. It looks completely seamless. And yes, this bookmark is my new favorite!

But that's not all! This splendid embroidered linen hand towel she made for me. Linen! Aren't the colors vibrant? The flowers cheery? Just look at the details. I just LOVE IT! Here is a close up of the monogram.

(Click on the photo for a larger view.)

It looks so pretty hanging in my powder room. I wish I had another one for my other powder room. Maybe I'll proffer a trade or offer to pay her on commission. But a trade would be more fun. JB, if you're reading this, would you be interested in making one more of these lovely hand towels? Let's chat about what I can make for you (that is, if you are interested). :-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tatting Tea Tuesday - Birthday Edition

New blog post on Ambitatterous: Tatting Tea Tuesday - Birthday Edition.

(because my post didn't work right and I don't have the energy to recreate the post)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Christmas in July

Today I received a piece of email marketing (what I like to call SPAM mail) from JO-ANN fabrics. Normally I just delete these but the copy caught my attention. It was promoting Christmas in July.

Growing up in small town USA we always looked forward to Christmas in July celebrations such as sidewalk sales, lifeguards wearing Santa hats at the pool, strolling around the KOA campground admiring the holiday decorations and making Santa smores around a campfire. Do people do this anymore?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Six Word Saturday

It's that time again! For details on how you can participate, visit Call Me Cate's blog (by clicking the button below).

Consuming rage eats my soul whole.

And of course the follow-up is...


Get over it already!

(I said it so you don't have to.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pay-It-Forward Giveaway Teaser

A bit of a post backlog is building so it is time to make an announcement:

An incredible, super-duper awesome gift arrived in the mail this past week from JB!

But I can't tell you about it just yet. All I can say is that it was my prize for winning the PIF Giveaway on JB's blog. I was floored with the workmanship and thought that went into it. And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! See I can't stop gushing.

A proper blog post will follow in a few days (with photos!) so you can share the awesome-ness in all its glory. Thank you, JB.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Teapot Tuesday!

Love @Mothermark's charming one-year anniversary Teapot Tuesday post:

Tatting Tea Tuesday

Thread: Handy Hands' Flora 20
White-to-Dark Purple variegated

It’s time for another Tatting Tea Tuesday!

Tatting hubris got the better of me this week. I imagined sitting down and working stitches quickly and effortlessly the first time through, regardless of the new techniques involved. (Go ahead. Laugh. I make these mistakes so you don’t have to.)

The false starts began with me not paying attention to which shuttle I was using. Then I jumped into the Self Closing Mock Ring (SCMR), forming the loop with knotting thread, not core thread. Sorry Shuttle Brothers! Your excellent instructions clearly state that it must be done with the core thread.

Following that I used the core thread shuttle to tat the center ring. Another big no-no. It only took me about an hour to painstakingly open up that center ring and pick out the stitches. I got lucky, the thread didn’t break and I was able to recover.

Tiny Round Teapot pattern is not difficult. I just kept making basic, careless mistakes. That said, I don’t have a finished teapot to scan in for you this week. But I have successfully mastered the SCMR.
It is time to step back and practice folded split rings before working the one in the teapot. So I’ve stopped for now at the folded split ring and switched to a set of practice shuttles.

It may not look like much, but the small snippet of lace above shows quite a bit of progress made this week.

Wishing you all blissful me time to create something beautiful.
See you next Tuesday for more communi-tea!

On a completely different thread, I saw an adorable tatted heart pattern for sale on Etsy called Paw Prints on my Heart.

I’m a dog lover so this heart is a perfect addition to my collection of tatted heart patterns.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Six Word Saturday

In honor of my neighbor Eva, whose candid simplicity says it all:

"You need to get out more."

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Ants Come Marching In, Day 2.

Mass genocide ensues after ants demoralize mommy.

Longtime friend and undercover war strategist Marty gave me some very good advice after yesterday's post:

Take the war to them!

So I did. Or more accurately, WE did...

My neighbor Eva suggested I mix up a batch of DIY ant-killer using 40:40:20 (or 2:2:1, same thing) ratio of water, alcohol and dish soap. She even came over to help. This stuff works great! It kills ants on contact and is safe for pets, kids and the environment.

What? You want a tale from the trenches? Well, okay.

While outside on backyard ant reconnaissance, Eva and I discovered a mondo-gi-normous infestation of ant larvae being tended to by a small army of what I can only describe as Nanny ants. Upon detection there was a mad scramble to save the babies, but we (Eva and I) eradicated the ants with the homemade spray. We were quite the pair of war mongers!

But one question remains...does anyone know if it will kill the larvae? I mean, it's not extermination if the eggs are allowed to hatch.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

#b Mood: disgusted
Rain, rain, falls all day. Ants stream in and overrun kitchen. Launching umpteenth ants-b-gone campaign. When will it end?

Happy International Sushi Day

Hilarious new Teapot Tuesday post from @Mothermark:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tatting Tea Tuesday

It's time for another Tatting Tea Tuesday!

The Chantilly Border from last week is still in progress, but I couldn't wait to start a teapot from Tea is for Tatting by Martha Ess. Her collection of tatted teapots is a natural choice for lovers of tea and tatting.

Quite frankly, it was difficult to decide on a pattern because every single one is adorable. The Celtic and Maltese teapots are stand outs, but I could easily tat my way through this book cover to cover. In the end I decided to start small with Tiny Round Teapot.

The tiny round teapot pattern calls for two shuttles and one color thread. Martha Ess doesn't mention winding the shuttles continuously, but I did. Here is my spout:

Shuttle Love
My favorite rosewood shuttle (photo above) has a tiny embedded crochet hook. Years ago the wood cracked. I was devastated. Later that same year the tatting angels were watching over me. At the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival I found a vendor who sold small, hand-turned items. He only had three shuttles on his table. EUREKA! It was the same craftsman. Thank you, tatting angels!

(Does anyone else have "I'm a Little Teapot" stuck in their head? No?! Guess it's just me.)

Even though it is a small piece, Tiny Round Teapot presents
three new techniques for me: the
folded ring, the folded split ring and the self closing mock ring.

The folded ring worked out well on the first try. Now on to the
self closing mock ring (SCMR).

More photos are coming! And
I will post a finished teapot
as tatting time permits.

Wishing you all blissful me time to create something beautiful.
See you next Tuesday for more communi-tea!

For coffee-lovin' lacers, try this recipe for cold-brewed iced coffee.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Whoa, where did the week go? Summertime always rushes by so quickly, with festival outings, ice cream socials, barbecues, stayin' cool by the pool...

As much as I wish these days would last forever, without seasonal changes my psyche would suffer.

But back to six word Saturday.

Today's effort was going to be about the sunburn I got yesterday, but I only managed four words before wincing from the sting of moving my arms to type. Hee, hee! I'm such a sun weenie!

Then I remembered the bit of excitement in our neighborhood.

Without further adieu, I give you...

Carjacking teens evade police after wreck.
Derelict car recovered after teen carjacking.

A slew of squad cars patroled our neighborhood all day looking for two teen-aged carjackers. There was a brief high-speed chase that led to a collision with a truck. The teens abandoned the crashed car on foot, running into our neighborhood to evade police.

Seriously, when I was a teen-ager (back when rocks were soft and dirt was new, hee hee!) our stoopid antics maxed out at toilet-papering cars. But forcing a woman out of her car for a joy ride? What's the matter with kids today?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pay It Forward Giveaway

I won the Pay It Forward giveaway on Knot Enough's tatting blog. Yay me!

Thank you JB! It was especially nice of you, considering you had to track me down to award the prize.

Pay It Forward is such an empowering concept and I'm delighted to be doing my share. Now it is my turn to offer a giveaway!

Here are the rules: If you want to play along, be sure to comment on this post. You must have a blog in order to enter. If you win, you agree to "Pay It Forward" (i.e. keep it going) on your blog by displaying the PIF graphic and offer a giveaway. The handmade gift you make and send to the winner is entirely up to you. You may either reveal the gift at the beginning of the giveaway or not; it's your choice.

Want more chances to win? If you post about the giveaway on your blog, or mention it on Twitter or Facebook, you get an extra entry. That adds up to three more chances to win! Just be sure to come back and comment again on this post with the link to your blog, Twitter or Facebook update.

The prize?

Your choice of either the blue or the purple cotton hanky (please indicate your color preference in the comment) AND a 9-inch round linen doily. All lace is in the classic hen-n-chicks pattern.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tatting Tea Tuesday

It's Tatting Tea Tuesday!

I am so excited to start this communi-tea! I hope you all have fun.
Here are the rules:

  • Set aside some time on Tuesdays to tat.
  • Put the kettle on for tea.
  • Share your progress on your blog or your favorite tatting group list, with "Tatting Tea Tuesday" in the headline or email subject line.
(Adding the Communi-tea part is optional...I just like the pun.)

And don't forget to leave me a comment with a link to your post or message so I can come see.

This week I began tatting an edging called Chantilly Border.
Source: May/June 2009 issue of Piecework magazine, p. 41

The original pattern was written in longhand notation, which I find hard to follow. So I read through the instructions and re-wrote them in shorthand formula. I cannot post the pattern though, until I have been granted permission by the magazine.

What I can tell you is this: the pattern is gleaned from Weldon's Practical Needlework, Volume 4. And facsimile printings of Volume 4 are available to order from Interweave Press by visiting Interweave Store. Or purchase a copy of Piecework magazine.

Chantilly Border is a lovely edging pattern that tats up quickly and is easy to memorize. I am using a vintage Coats and Clarks varigated tatting cotton in size 70 so it tats up dainty and delicate. Click on the image to see a larger view.

Did you notice my two twisted joins in the large rings at picot #6? I didn't notice them until I saw the image full size. How would you work an awkward join without twisting it? Tips? Suggestions?

: Georgia Seitz has a great page of notes on joining above as well as below the normal line of progression: Thoughts on Joining - The Shuttle Join

Unfortunately The Sprout woke up early from his nap so I only managed 2 1/2 repeats before having to stop. Not that I'm complaining. Today's effort is the first tatting I have done since 2005. The shuttle felt so good in my hand. The tea delicious. Taking a few relaxing moments for myself? Priceless!

Wishing you all blissful me time to create something beautiful.
See you next Tuesday for more communi-tea!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Today's installment of Six Word Saturday describes a fun family outing. True, we got up way-too-darned early, but it was so worth it. Without further adieu, I give you...

trains + summer = supreme happiness

And in case the formulaic approach counts as cheating,
here is another one:

Sprout conks out after train festival.

It was a really good day. (Hey that was six and it rhymed!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

R.I.P. David Carradine

My mom always says bad news comes in threes.

First, David Eddings. Now David Carradine. Is this some trippy coincidence or a macabre chain of events? I can't help but wonder if another "famous Dave" will turn up his toes for tagging.

The news of David Carradine's passing came as such a shock. The actor, 72, was found dead in his hotel room yesterday in Bangkok, Thailand, where he had been filming a movie called Stretch.

Elizabeth Snead (who writes The Dishrag for The LA Times Entertainment section) posted this several hours later: Director Adam Rifkin doesn't believe David Carradine killed himself
Mr. Carradine's obituary is linked at the bottom of the story.

The Associated Press offers up reaction to the iconic actor's death:
Friends, family react to David Carradine's death

However the story plays out, David Carradine's memory deserves to be treated with dignity.

Farewell, David Carradine, you will always be remembered for your candor, your brilliant, selfless demeanor and your role as virtuous warrior Kwai Chang Caine.

R.I.P. David Eddings

Sadly, one of my favorite Fantasy novelists has passed away. The Belgariad cemented many a friendship as well as got me through boring, small town doldrums. His vibrant characters are etched indelibly on me. I would not hesitate to say he shaped what I perceive to be "good" science fiction (leaning more toward fantasy than tech) and instilled in me a life-long love of great stories.

Heartfelt thanks, Mr. Eddings, for being brave enough to chuck the safety of university professorship and boldly step into the far less financially secure world of struggling novelist. You found your niche and influenced a generation. Not unlike J.R.R. Tolkein...

Fantasy Novelist David Eddings Has Died
David Eddings, the acclaimed fantasy novelist and author of such series as The Belgariad and the Malloreon, has died at the age of 77. David Eddings was predeceased by his wife and writing partner Leigh two years ago.

David Eddings passes away
Fantasy author David Eddings has sadly passed away, aged 77, last night. Best-selling and popular are often epithets that are applied to authors on writers' press releases, but in David's case, it was well deserved. His commercial success, says fantasy author Stephen Hunt, paved the way for a whole generation of doorstopper sized fantasy series.

Fantasy Great David Eddings Has Passed Away
Fantasy icon David Eddings, known and beloved by millions of readers for his Belgariad and Mallorean series, has passed away at the age of 77.

Randy Fanney said it best, but it is worth repeating.
"Farewell Mr. Eddings, you will be sorely, sorely missed."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tatting and Belly Dancin' Teapot Tuesday

Today I discovered a lovely scrappin'/belly dancin'/tea pot post from Colorado stampin' mom Mothermark. It hits upon three things I love so I just had to share.

Mothermark says since we can't all get together for tea the next best thing is a Teapot Tuesday Challenge. Her blog, This is my Story, has a terrific slide show of amazing hand-made cards inspired from fun teapots. Go see all the lovely creations.

And lest you think I've forgotten, this concept lends itself well to a Tatting Communi-Tea. So I'm brazenly hijacking the idea for my own tatting purposes! Are you all on board my thought train?
Here's how it will work:

Set aside some time on Tuesdays to tat and put the kettle on for tea. Share your progress on your blog or your favorite tatting group list, with "Tatting Tea Tuesday" in the subject line.
(Adding the "Communi-" part is optional...I just like the pun.)

And don't forget to leave me a comment so I can come see. It will be fun!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

ASH (Rupert Giles on Buffy) in NBC special, "Merlin"

If U watch BBC One, Anthony Stewart Head acts in "The Invisibles" and NBC's "Merlin:"

Tatting & Lace

What an evocative photo: It almost pulls you out of time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend, Part Two:
Farmer's Market and Strawberry Pickin'

Day two of our long weekend started off bright and early at our local farmer's market. This is the first weekend of the season for some open-air markets, but ours has been open since April.

We bought kettle corn for the drive and left to go berry pickin' at Belvedere Plantation. The weather was perfect: slightly overcast with a breeze and enough sunshine to put you in the pickin' mood.

Photo Credit: Anne Marley

And pick we did. Our two flats of juicy, red berries weighed in at 20 pounds. That's even after the Sprout's tasting spree.

I wouldn't say he feasted on berries fresh from the vines, but...

...the berry stains speak for themselves.

For Sprout, tractors working the farm are every bit (bite?) Free Smiley Face Courtesy of
as good as the berries.

If it wasn't the tractor pulling the hay wagon or the tractor team removing round bails from the next field over, it was "'Tain, ma ma! Choo choo tain. Over dair!" when he heard the train whistle blowing faintly in the distance.

Sprout did enjoy some spirited jumping on the moon bounce.

He also found a pen of miniature goats that were eager to be fed.

In counterpoint to morning events, late afternoon naps were at the top of our itinerary after we got home. What's a three-day weekend without some good R & R? Imagine the whole house, dogs and all, sacked out in slumber for a few hours before supper. It was heaven.

Tomorrow is a "do nothing" day. (Of course, "do nothing" means endless piles of laundry and other chores to prepare for the week ahead.) But that doesn't mean we won't pay respect to those who have, or are now serving, our country.

If you find yourself at a cookout, lift your glasses (or grill forks)
in honor of those lost. Wave a handheld flag during your local parade. Spend a few moments in conversation with a service member. Whatever you do, seize the day and enjoy it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend, Part One:
Barbeque to Baby Ducks

The unofficial beginning of summer at Silly Hat Central looked something like this.

Big Daddy fired up the grill and made kicked-up veggie kebabs for lunch. He also steamed a redonkulously large spaghetti squash. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and it was a feast fit for kings.

But the day started with an early morning trip to IKEA for $49 Expedit bookcases. We scored two of these birch-stained beauties, plus Dröna fabric baskets for each cubbyhole. As you can see, Silly Hat Central was in desperate need of a storage solution for the Sprout's toys.

Now we have plenty of storage space for the trains, tracks, trucks, plastic food items, play kitchen utensils, power tools, and stray Matchbox® cars that have routinely littered the floor. A big win.

After supper, Big Daddy took Sprout down to the lake in his covered wagon to feed the "ducks," (Sprout-speak for geese) including four "baby ducks" (goslings). He must have been pretty worn out from such a full day of excitement.

The unofficial ending of the first day of Memorial Day weekend looked something like this.

Here's hoping your day was as eventful and enjoyable!

Tomorrow — strawberry picking at Belvedere Plantation. And a scrapbook page Big Daddy created to record the Sprout's 2007 visit. Oh, ha, ha, ha! Look at that sweet, berry-pickin' bunny!

Six Word Saturdays

C. Beth, the sparkling mommy blogger of One Minute Writer and
C. Beth Blog fame, recently began posting Six Word Saturdays on her blog. My response was "Eureka!"

My first post is dedicated to C. Beth and also to my very good friend Caelie, without whose wisdom I never would have realized the folly of these words: "I can't strings six words together."

Friday, May 22, 2009

More Toilet Talk

As if my earlier post on this topic wasn't enough, add this "scratch your head" public service toilet site-ing to the list.

Run Pee
Tagline: "Can you hold it?"
This beta site tells you when you can afford to miss a few minutes of a movie to go pee.

What at-home movie watcher can't operate the pause button on their remote control? Do movie house patrons arm themselves with pee-break-points before heading out to see a flick?

Sheer madness...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Front Porch Tatting

Another wonderful tatter, Sister Anthelma Feuerstein, 99, of Wisconsin, has passed on. The obit in her local paper is a wonderful and sweet dedication to her life and her tatting. Thought I'd share since there are several notes about tatting.

I particularly love her memory of gathering on the front porch to tat. So simple. What a lovely way to unwind (hee, hee a pun!) our shuttles or needles while catching up with friends on mild days.

Regretably, I don't have a front porch. So I will be taking my tatting on the road to visit friends whose porches just BEG for gatherings.

Thank you, Sister, for reminding us about the simple pleasure of front porch tatting. Let's keep it going!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gingerbread House Mold circa 1955

Little Sprout being chauffered around the festival

While at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival last weekend, I ran into my friend Miriam and her awesome stonehouse man, Chris. We were standing right next to each other in the food vendor area and hadn’t noticed. If you have ever been to Md. Sheep & Wool, you know how easy it is to bypass friends in the milling crowds. After a joint moment of startled surprise, we hugged and started nattering about photography, food, the nirvana of fondling luxurious fibers and sock knitting, not necessarily in that order. Then Miriam said, “You’ll never believe what I brought for you!”

She pulled this goodie out of her bag. Of course, I didn't have the presence of mind to photograph it while at the S&W festival. Too caught up in the fiber-friend-zy!

“Remember when you were looking for a gingerbread house mold?” Miriam asked. “I looked through storage boxes for this but couldn’t find it. And then out of the blue Chris found it!”

I was floored by their kindness and intrigued by the gift’s design. It is a mold for a SOLID gingerbread house. Not the flat pieces you cement together with royal icing, like this NordicWare® mold.

See where it says "make a friend happy" on the back cover?
The small print reads:

I want to make a friend happy. Please
send me __________ WOMAN'S DAY
Aluminum Gingerbread House Molds.
I enclose $1.00 for each mold, postpaid.
Total enclosed: $______

Well friend, color me happy! Thank you, Miriam & Chris, for your thoughtfulness. Can't wait to try out the new mold.

Ghosts of Gingerbread Houses Past
Autumn 2008 will be fondly remembered for my first forays into edible architecture. One dark October night a group of friends met to drink martinis and decorate haunted gingerbread houses.

Here's a batty, backside view of the one I worked on.

And a cat-y view from the front. See the pretzel fence?

The rest, as they say, is history.

November saw a second event, this time with a Thanksgiving theme. Traditional Christmas cottages came next. By now the creativity was really flowing and we didn’t want the fun to end.

So we built Valentine love shacks and Easter bunny hutches in 2009. They were fun, festive cookie construction sessions.

Image Source: (until my copy arrives)

After Easter, I hit a lull in holidays around which to build cookie constructs. Believe it or not, I miss it. So with this book, "The Gingerbread Architect," I start dreaming of creations to come.

Calling All Cookie Construction Workers

Do you decorate gingerbread houses for holidays other than Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day or Easter? Please leave me a comment and let me know.

You prefer making gingerbread castles, churches or cathedrals? Tree houses? A bat cave? I'd love to hear about it.

Edible Architecture 2009 will officially begin with Haunted Gingerbread House Night in October. There will even be a gingerbread house blog contest! Check back for details.

(See, now aren't you glad you read all the way to the end?)

Friday, May 8, 2009

See Sean Connery & Gina Lollobrigida tonight on TCM 12:15 a.m. in 1964 film "Woman of Straw"
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brilliant New Tatting Technique

Sharing news of a new (at least to me) tatting technique that has knocked my socks off today.

First, British tatting ace Jane Eborall has posted about a "double double stitch" on her blog, Tatting and Not Much Else. She says the idea of the double double stitch isn't new and isn't hers. It first appeared in Rhoda Auld's book "Tatting the Contemporary Art of Knotting with a Shuttle" (1974).

And the amazing Ruth Perry (a.k.a. Rozella Linden) posted a YouTube video showing how to tat rings with rings thrown off using a reverse ring technique.

Need more to impress you? Ruth shared a technique she calls Balanced Double Stitch with the online tatting class last year.

It turns out that Ruth and Jane are actually describing the same technique. They just approached the idea from slightly different perspectives. You know what they say about great minds thinking alike...Ruth and Jane are Genius Minds in Tatting. (Hmmm, doesn't that sound like a good title for a tatting book?)

Have you seen this impressive stained glass effect that Marilee achieves with her tatting?

Image from Yarnplayer Arts

Find out more about her strikingly beautiful work on her blog, Yarnplayer Arts.

Sharing new techniques over the Internet is quite exciting, as it opens up new lace design possibilities. It also shows the dynamic state of our art form. Tatting is not a lost art!

You can bet I'll be focused on learning them all over the next short while (don't know how long it will take...) and working them into new projects.

Watching big names in tatting circles (like Georgia Seitz, Mark "Tatman" Myers, Martha Ess, "Maus," Karey Solomon, Betsy Evans, Wally Sosa...just to throw out a few off the top of head) weigh in on these new developments is pretty awesome too.

Thanks to Mark and all the other Genius Minds (GMs) out there in tat-land who so graciously and generously share their breakthroughs with us.

Thoughts on Chagrin and Embarrassement

I like Jessica's style on It's My Life blog. Her writing is real and effortless. Uncontrived. Its spirit speaks to the writer in my soul.

So I sympathised and agonized along with her when she shared her embarrassing writing story.

Could I commiserate by sharing my own doozies? Sure! But unlike Jessica, I probably couldn't handle the scrutiny and rejection.

Like Kari (comments), I think I want to hear more about the naked babysitting adventure...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My First Sock!

In knitting news, I've launched into the realms of sock knitting with my first practice sock. It's a toddler sock made with some cheap-o, self-striping acrylic in fun springtime colors.

As is the norm for me, I jumped in without a plan or a decent set of instructions. Instead of following a basic, top-down sock pattern, I decided to knit from the toe up.

Having never done short rows or turned heels or Kitchener stitch, it seemed smart to try toe-up first. Anything to avoid Kitchener stitch grafting, right?

Online resources favor the magic loop technique for toe-up socks. This knitter knows naught of the magic loop technique. I freely admit rationalizing about needing to buy a set of Addi Turbo Circular Lace Needles. (For more on knitting impulses, see my blog post: Startitus and Knitting Delusions) Rather than buying new circulars to tackle magic loop theory, I'm using DPNs that I already have.

No one ever said my way (a convoluted dirt-track meandering aimlesly along the the path to sock knitting enlightenment) was easy. Needlessly complicated is how I do things, whether or not I mean to.

Wiping away sweaty palms, I set to work: adult-size Toe-up Socks with a Difference by Wendy D. Johnson, stitch counts from a top-down kiddie sock pattern, plus an actual toddler sock for reference.

First, I learned the Turkish cast on; a fascinating, weaverly technique. It did take several tries before I got the correct tension in my wrapped loops, but it was so much fun to do I didn't mind ripping out and starting again until I got it right. This link includes a quicktime video tutorial: Mingled Yarn: Turkish Cast On

That got me to the point of creating the gusset. Wendy's toe-up sock pattern uses gusset increases on the bottom of the foot, instead of two small side gussets underneath the ankle.

The photo above shows the halfway point in the heel gusset increases by my best guess-timation. After this section is finished it will be time to turn the heel and tackle short rows.

But I've blathered on long enough about this little sock. The rest is best left for another day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Turn Coat," the new volume in The Dresden Files series, is #1 on the NYT Bestseller List!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Emancipation Proclamation

Today our miracle dog Julie officially stops taking steroids! We're having a pork dinner tonight to celebrate.

NY Mom Leaves Bickering Kid on the Road

My mom wanted to do this many a time!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Puddle Jumpin'

In sharp contrast to the sunny and bright weekend, today the skies opened up and a steady, drubbing rain poured down. Lucky for us, mommy bought a new pair of rain boots so she could tromp around in the rain with her splash-happy son.

And that's how we spent the morning. We didn't go far; barely past the neighboring yards. Mother Nature provided plenty of small, muddy pools to run, stomp and frolic in in front of our house.

Sticks and pebbles probed the murky waters, but most of the morning's effort was spent splashing away. A couple of twigs and...drum roll, please!

Right outside of our front door is a small sink hole that usually gets filled with a flower pot to prevent tripping accidents. It was a perfect wading pool-for-one. Boots water tight? Roger that.

It is a good thing the puddle wasn't any deeper. Little Sprout would have needed waders.

Check out the self-satisfied smirk after a good depth check. Mission accomplished.