November 30, 2011

Don't Believe Your Eyes

With photo retouching, and even movies being photoshopped, you really can't believe what you see.  Being surrounded by images of so-called perfection is extremely detrimental to a positive self-image.

Researchers at Dartmouth have developed an altered-image rating program.  Check out the before and afters.  Their aim is to create a Photoshop plug-in to warn retouchers who stray too far from reality.  But isn't that often their goal?  A plug-in for web browsers this would be awesome!  Imagine getting real feedback about the photos you see everyday.

November 29, 2011

Shoes, Yet Again

I went a little overboard buying shoes tonight: I bought four pair!  But returns are free and I'm difficult to fit.  My amazing waterproof Timberlands (similar to Docs) are finally dying :(

So I bought a few pair from Zappos:
I love these from Børn, but they only had an 8.5 where I normally wear a 9.  Fingers crossed...

I like saddle shoes, liked the off-white, and Bass makes narrow width.  I ordered them before remembering that there are quality issues and many people have had the soles split.  Bass was purchased in 2004 and the problems started then.

Another pair of saddle shoes, on sale and also in narrow sizes.  Just to hedge my bets ;)  They're Jumping Jacks, mainly a kid's brand, so sturdily made.

Then I saw a fantastic Cyber Monday sale on Willits saddles in black and white, so bought them:
Willits have been making saddle shoes for years and have many widths to choose from.  The white stands up to hard wear better than I'd have thought, and having been married to an Army guy I know how to shine shoes!

The Fedora Lounge has so much info on saddle shoes, I could never have figured this out in an evening without their resources.  Thanks ladies!

I'd been looking at some fab reverse saddles at Muffys, but they're not available in narrow.  If none of these work I'll definitely call Muffy's and ask about sizing of the reverse saddles.
In the meantime I hope my Visa bill doesn't come too soon!
Muffy's Reverse Saddles

November 25, 2011

Urban Birds

© Capitol Hill Seattle
A local Cooper's Hawk was out celebrating Thanksgiving.  It seems pigeons are good for something: attracting hawks! The story here.

Great Blue Herons found two local koi ponds and there are now heron statues to save the fish (dubbed dekoi ;).  Amazing to see wildlife flourish in urban areas.  The raccoons, however, are not well beloved.

November 23, 2011

Christmas Came Early :p

I saw my Dr yesterday and I have arthritis in both hands and wrists, including a really owie bone spur in my pinkie.  This explains the pain when washing my hands, etc, for about six months now.  It's scary to have more hand pain, and continue losing function.

Also my doc is retiring.  He's seen me every 1-2 months for 16 years.  I hope I'll find a good Dr to continue my care but no one can replace him.  He was my safe place in the medical world and guide to adulthood with chronic pain.  And a kind, caring man.  I will miss him greatly.

November 20, 2011

Leaf Quilt--Done!

I finished the autumn leaf quilt!  The blocks were completed several years ago, it remained to sew them together then quilt and bind everything.  The quilt is quite large, about 5' x 6.5'.  The perfect size to snuggle on the couch with a companion :)  Now to find a snuggle buddy...

I'd planned to use some cool free motion quilting designs, before I knew how hard that is.  Instead I quilted mostly in the ditch with some free motion on the white inner border.

The leaves have Art Deco-ish straight line designs, more visible from the back.  I added yellow perle cotton bobbin work to outline the sawtooth border.  I may add a line of burgundy stitching outside the dark red border.

Leaf Quilting

Sawtooth border; free-motion quilting

At right are the sawtooth and white borders.  The edge of the quilt has a 3" wide dark red border, 1/2" white border, then green binding.
More photos here
Back: leaves

The bobbin work was done using a straight stitch, 3.5mm stitch length, invisible nylon thread in the needle and perle cotton in the bobbin.  I bypassed the bobbin case's tension spring when inserting the bobbin.

You can also couch thicker threads, especially textured threads or yarn.  In that case use a narrow zig zag, nylon or matching thread, and pull the thread through the hole in your needle plate if there is one.  A couching presser foot would be even better.  A center pull ball or thread wound around a reused thread spool are good ways to hold the thread, and I typically let it dispense from my lap.

November 18, 2011


Straight from Scotland to you...Wool and November rolled into Wovember!  Because it's cold out and wool is warm :) As a knitter I love wool.  It's great for coats and skirts, too.  And makes the best socks ever!

Plus it's environmentally friendly, sustainable, and sturdy.  Support your local sheep.

As an aside: most wool is processed in China, so check the source of your yarn.  Yarn shops carry local yarn, very nice yarns.  Good fleece spun well will wear longer and better.

November 11, 2011


Today is Veteran's Day in the US.  I'm always mindful and grateful for the friends and family who fought, and continue to fight, to keep us safe.  This is not a day to think about motivations for war, but about the men and women who are uprooted, placed in danger, and do not always come home.
Thank you.

November 8, 2011


Last night I pulled out some sheet music, thinking that I should play my piano keyboard more often.  Of course more than none doesn't take much effort ;)

Today a neighbor with a real piano was playing Moonlight Sonata.  My mom used to play it and it's one of my favorite pieces.  Then, just now, the neighbor started playing ragtime.  Which is funny because the top piece of music I pulled out last night was Scott Joplin, the most famous ragtime composer.  I remember it being pretty technically challenging, though, and was amused when I heard the neighbor thump the keyboard in frustration.

November 5, 2011

Angora Oops

The first mitten is coming along well, except the contrast pattern looked awful.  I chose a new pattern and am reknitting just the pattern stitches instead of undoing everything.

 I didn't take pictures of the first pattern, it was too dark last night.  I reknit most of the new pattern before bed and have only two rows left today!  This may seem like a ridiculous amount of effort, but it's really less work in the end.  Ripping out patterned double knit is quite tedious.

First Pattern (aka The Blob)
New Pattern

The star points were too stubby to show up well.  The new pattern is theoretically four hearts but I choose to see it as a vaguely flower-shaped design ;)

The new pattern looks quite nice.  It takes some fiddling to even out the tension on each row, but not too bad.

New pattern, mitten exterior

November 4, 2011

Angora-lined Mittens

Outer layer
It's starting to feel like winter here.  I remembered some merino wool and angora I had socked away...and decided to make angora-lined mittens.  They should keep my hands nice and warm all winter :)

I'm double knitting them, since it's cool.  You knit two layers of fabric at once using two balls of yarn.  Patterns can be made if you use different colored yarn.  The outer layer is purple merino, the inner white angora.  There will be a snowflake on the back of the hand.  So far I'm to the thumb (the triangley bit on the side).

I'm making my own pattern and being quite clever about it, if I say so myself.  The angora is slightly thicker so I'm using a few less stitches of it, so the inner layer fits inside well.

The easier way to make these would be to knit two separate mittens, joined at the wrist, and stick one inside the other.  But this is much more interesting, and I can knit patterns!

Inner layer, and yarn

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