April 30, 2009

Pure Grace...

Last night, I was sitting thinking about the events of the day. I accomplished a lot. I was cleaning house...in more ways than one. I scrubbed blinds, washed windows and baseboards, and vacuumed carpets (even though we only have a few, as most of our house is tiled).

Cleaning house also helps me clear my head. I thought about the relationships in my life and the friends and family I love so well. Both near and far away, they sustain me when times are difficult. I'm not going to bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I had a lot of stuff rolling around in my head yesterday!

So, as I was sitting and thinking last night, I notice my legs were dry (yeah, well). The name of the perfume and cream that I currently use - and love - is called Pure Grace, by philosophy. I have about five products in their line and what I used last night is the body butter. (Don't we all love butter in all its forms?) I grabbed a container of cream that I've used many times before, but for a change, I read the label. I want to share with you what I read. It's something that brought me great comfort at the end of a long day of cleaning and thinking.

"One of the best tools for longevity and good health is not just taking a walk outdoors, but taking your walk while holding the hand of God. When we walk in gratitude for each and every moment, we empower ourselves by empowering our spirits. When we breath in nature through our eyes, ears and lips, we become certain that not only are our souls eternal, but that God knows how to manage our lives, our troubles, our worries and our days better than we do. So today and every day "let go and let God".

Was it a coincidence that I now read this message? I couldn't believe that God was speaking to me through a body cream! (But don't we know that He's always where you least expect Him to be?) It was a perfect way for me to end my day, but as I write this to you, my friends, I see that this message is a perfect way to start my day, too.

I hope you find comfort in these words as I did, and that you have an empowered and blessed day. I'm going out for a walk now. We'll chat again soon.

April 28, 2009

Morning On The Estate...

The tour started at ten this morning, so Amy and I arrived at about 9:45 to beat the rush. As it turned out, we had the sole attention of our knowledgeable Sarasota County tour guide, Priscilla.

We were at the Edson Keith Estate, located on 60 acres of prime Sarasota property nestled on the banks of Phillipi Creek. The main estate house is 9,000 square feet of hardwood floors, spacious rooms and beautiful blue ceilings. Painted to emulate the Florida skies, the purpose of the blue paint on all the outside eaves was to fool wasps and hornets into thinking that they were seeing sky - instead of protected places to build their nests. Clever, indeed.

All the interior paint colors, floors and interior fixtures are original to the house, with the exception of the elegant, Italianate chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the dining room (a donation from a local resident). Priscilla even shared the secret to cleaning it with us. (and I don't mean "Have the servants do it"!)

After our tour of the house, we thanked her and walked outside to survey the grounds. Amy and I headed to the path that would take us to the beautiful oak hammocks that lead right down to Phillipi Creek and the Intercoastal Waterway. There is a canoe launch site on the grounds, as well as gazebos for weddings and family picnics. We were also told of the Indian "midden" beneath the lawn to the west of the house and rock formations located to the east of the house.

Middens are thought to be prehistoric landfills used by the tribal members to dispose of broken tools, animal bones and other artifacts from life in their villages. When their landfills reached capacity, the tribe simply moved to a new location. Great care is taken when these sites are located, as much of the prehistoric debri is, in many cases, within inches of being exposed. This particular location has not been opened and explored, however a midden located south of here in Osprey, Florida at Spanish Point, has been extensively researched and is open for viewing by the public. (We'll have to make that one of our next outings.)

After leaving the estate, we went to a local nursery and chose the plants that are going to go into my beautiful blue pot next to the entry to our home. I can't wait to show you what it looks like with our choices! I'll save that for another day.

We had lunch at the Madfish Grill and chose much more intelligent meals...and there were no cameras (except mine) this time. Wish all of you could have joined me today. It was truly a perfect day for a morning on the estate.

Click on the title of this post to go to my Flickr album with more photographs of our day at the Edson Keith Estate.

April 25, 2009

It's Official...

I now have a "domain". Doesn't that sound positively regal?

I decided to protect my name - Brynwood Needleworks - which I've used for my sampler designs for the past nineteen years. So now you can also find me at www.brynwoodneedleworks.com.

I'll be busy setting up the website, which currently welcomes you and then redirects you here, and I'm working out the bugs for contacting me through the site. I've also got a new email address, which I'll activate as soon as I get the links to my computer worked out.

Currently, my schedule is to launch a new line on my Brynwood Needleworks site as well as on Etsy, and I'm very excited to be working on all the components for an August 1st debut. Until then, you can follow my progress right here as I give you the inside scoop.

Don't worry...I won't be expecting any special treatment when we visit. You can still call me "Deece" and there's no need to curtsy in my presence. I'd just giggle anyway.

April 24, 2009

We Were So Busted...

We hadn't gone to lunch together for a few weeks. Amy has been losing weight, working out and behaving when she eats. I've been watching what I eat and thinking about starting an exercise program.

So Thursday, we decided to get together for lunch in Sarasota. Amy got to choose the location this time. She lives in Sarasota, and she knows all the good spots. She suggested that we meet at a restaurant near Phillipi Creek, but frankly, when we got there, the place she was thinking of was closed. Instead, we walked next door to a place called "Jackie's Diner".

Quaint inside, and obviously dedicated to public servants, there were photos of cops, soldiers and family. It's owned by a retired cop who loves "comfort food"...oh, yeah, he's the cook, too!

So after checking out the menu (and finding out that my first choice wasn't available), Amy and I decided to jump completely off the reservation and order the worst possible thing we could eat. We decided to share a deep-fried hamburger, french fries and a root beer float - with deep-fried pickles on the side. We had already decided that we were going to have the deep-fried oreos for dessert. We knew it was wrong, but we figured we were the only two who would know...and it's not like we do it every day!

Just as the order was being brought to the table, I noticed a Sarasota News Network Channel 6 van pull into the parking lot. A cameraman and reporter were heading - with their camera - to the front door...and Amy and I were the only customers in the restaurant! (EEGADS!!! I started to panic. Tell me they aren't bringing that camera to our table!)

They were coming in to interview the owner about how small businesses are adjusting to the current economy and how they continue to survive when discretionary dollars are at a premium. Then - you guessed it - they came, with that darn camera, to our table. (Oh, Crap! We are soooo busted!)

After about 10 minutes of chatting with both of us, asking us what we were eating (and shooting footage of it as proof!) and how often we come to this establishment (remember, it was our first time!), they thanked us and packed up.

The interview will be part of a five-part series next week, scheduled to air on the 5 pm news on Monday through Friday. We're guaranteed to be seen once next week...with plates-full of fried food in front of us. (Thank God they didn't ask for "eating" shots...I would have refused. This way I can always say the food was Amy's right?)

So, what I learned this week...When you least expect it, someone could come along and announce to the entire world that you are what you eat. And on one day last week...Amy and I were lots of deep-fried food! (One more thing...deep-fried oreos are worth every calorie.)

The photo is courtesy of "istolethetv" on Flickr. Imagine the addition of fried pickles, oreos and a root beer float, and that will just about do it!

April 22, 2009

My Earth Day Walk...

The weather in south Florida was perfect
for a little walk around our yard today.

In celebration of Earth Day, I'd like to introduce you to my favorite and majestic Cypress tree. I estimate that it's about eighteen feet tall now. We had it planted as an adult tree (although its's grown considerably in the past 3 years) when we first moved to this home, and the following fall Hurricane Charley set its sights on our neighborhood. I prayed that this tree would be spared, and my prayers were answered. This tree continues to grow and thrive...and it has beautiful and large knees...a good sign!

I saw the light moving through our palmettos and thought
you might enjoy seeing what I saw.

The front entry is pretty with the light and shadows, too. Handsome gave me this gorgeous pot for Christmas and it sits empty as I try to decide what I'm going to plant in it. There is no frame of reference for its size, but it's actually about three feet tall and nearly as wide at the mouth of the pot. It's big! During the summer, this corner can get pretty hot, so I need something hardy that loves the heat. I'll let you know when I decide what's going to live there. Til then, I'll just enjoy the color it adds to this part of our yard.

Of course, no walk would be complete without a little dip in the pool! We came back in from our walk and Kes & I went swimming - except for Kes. She just grabbed her kong toy and danced around the pool deck with it. Not too impressive, but it works just fine for the ol' girl. (I mean Kes, not me!)

Hope you enjoyed sharing our little walk.
Happy Earth Day!

April 18, 2009

Knitters Hit The Road...

Today, four of my girlfriends and I (who all met through Ravelry) decided to take a road trip. We drove to Naples, Florida and met up with another group of friends from the Fort Lauderdale, FL area. Most of their group are members of Ravelry's Sweet Stitchin' Betties. Netta is from the Ft. Lauderdale area, so many of these gals are friends of hers. It was so nice of her to share them with the rest of us today! Above: L-R: Monica (monnielu), Adele, Tammy (pazzagatto), Netta (nstherd) and me (craftydeece).

We all met up at a shop called "Gabriella's", named for the owner, and she couldn't have been more sweet or accommodating. Seventeen of us converged on her quaint little shop where she offered 20% discounts to all of us, had a fabulous selection of quality yarns and a little Maltese dog that melted all our hearts. She and her staff were friendly, helpful and so accommodating. I can tell you that I'll be visiting her shop again in the future! I made sure I didn't leave without a photo of Gabriella (Naplesknitty on Ravelry!) and her sweet shop mascot in front of her shop window.

Thank you, Gabriella, for a wonderful visit to your shop!

All of us stood for a group photograph after a morning of shopping, and then we headed over to the local Mel's Diner for a hearty and well-earned lunch. (Shopping can really make you hungry!)

Lunch was great, and then we all drove over to a shop on the east side of Naples. We went to another shop (a not-very-creative "Knitting With...name"), but, in spite of their larger shop and more extensive selection, I won't be going back there. The shopowner was asked it she'd also extend a 20% discount to our group of shoppers, to which she replied "no". She has a sign behind the counter stating that she charges $1.00 for large shopping bags (really!!), and she stapled her "shop rules" to each and every receipt before we left the shop with our merchandise. Oh, yes...there's my personal favorite - a sign that says they can't be bothered to wind your yarn unless you purchase one of their five more expensive yarns. Wow! There really was nothing unique about her establishment and when I looked a little harder, it was actually sort of an "unkempt" shop, so I'll go back to Gabriella's instead on future trips to Naples.

In this day and age, we have many choices of where we choose to spend our money. I prefer to spend it where I feel welcomed and appreciated. Isn't it interesting how the attitude of owners and staff can make such a drastic difference in shopping experiences?

I've added a photo album with pictures of my Ravelry friends. You can see a few more photos there.

14950 Old US 41 in the SunCentury Plaza, Unit 3
Naples, Florida
• Hours:
Sunday 12 - 3 pm
Monday & Wednesday 10 am - 7 pm
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10 am - 5 pm
Saturday 10 am - 3 pm
• Her phone number is 239 325 9251 if you need directions.

April 17, 2009

Taking A Break From The Hard Stuff...

After a few months of working on more involved projects, I decided to play with something simple and fun today. Did I tell you I love pincushions? Oh, yeah. I really looooovvveee 'em!!

I started thinking about the different ways I could create new pincushions and came across these lovely little ceramic egg cups at our local Cracker Barrel. The Project Linus gals gather there for lunch on Monday's after a morning of creating blankets, and we usually look over the goodies in their shop before or after our meal. I knew these little egg cups would be perfect for my pincushion idea so I decided to purchase a few.

So today I took one out of the box and grabbed a piece of pink wool felt from my stash. I cut out a circle and stitched a strand of perle cotton around the outside edge of the circle (perle cotton is a strong thread). I pulled the thread ends to make the circle "cup" and filled it with fiberfill as I continued to tighten the thread. When I decided I had put enough fiberfill into the center of the circle, I tied the thread ends and cut the ends off.

Next, I took my adhesive (I use E3000) and ran a bead along the inside top edge of the egg cup. I put the felt "ball" into the cup and weighted it down until the glue dried. I finished off my design with a little trim with pearls and a satin rose on top. Voila! My new pincushion!

I've been involved in a few pincushion swaps in the last six months, and will be participating in a new one in May. I think one like this might be my gift for my swap partner this time. Either way, it was a fun day creating another pincushion for my collection! Go ahead and make one yourself...it's really fun!

I've added a flickr album (My Pincushions!!) for photos of my creations. Check it out!

April 15, 2009

She's Just Wild About Yellow...

It took longer than expected, but I finally finished the yellow sweater requested by my youngest sister, Jan.

You see, I knitted this pattern once for myself, and I have a difficult time doing a large project more than once...but she fell in love with my sweater ("Oh, pleeeezz, Donnie. Pleeeezz, would you make one for meeee?"). How could I resist that? In spite of the fact that she's shorter (and smaller) than I, she wanted the exact size that I had knit for myself...but she's just wild about yellow...there really was no other color choice for her sweater.

This is the Sally Melville "Sally Sweater" from The Knit Book. I made mine in Tahki Cotton Classic, but Jan's is knit in Bernat Cotton Tots, making it a bit bulkier and softer. Jan lives in Wisconsin, so she'll get more use from a cotton sweater that's a bit heavier. Everyone who lives there knows that Wisconsin has nine months of winter and three months of poor sledding.

I finished the sweater assembly last night, and carefully put it into a box to ship off today. Jan should have it by Friday or Saturday, and I'll enjoy hearing her squeal over the phone line when she opens it.

I didn't include the knitting needles crafted by my favorite needle embellisher, Tami Steptoe (Designs by Tami). I have needles topped with dogs, sheep and gnomes, as well as sheep stitch markers and a sheepy crochet hook! - all made by her loving (and talented hands). Check out her website at http://www.designsbytami.com/. I've also added her Etsy store to my list so that you can visit her from time to time simply by linking through my blog. I'm warning you now, you might find something in her line you just won't be able to live without.

Don't forget to call me, Jan!!!

BTW-Readers can leave comments without signing in or registering...please just sign your comment so that it doesn't just show up as "anonymous", and I'll know who read my blog.

April 13, 2009

Filled With Symbolism and Hope...

As I said in my Easter Sunday post, I finished Preston's gown on a day special to Christians.

I had worked on the gown, slip and bonnet for the week leading up to Easter, and as I usually do with garments that hold special meaning, I sewed love, hope for the future and a little symbolism into this project.

Keeping in mind the Trinity - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - I decided that I would use motifs and elements in threes to follow my theme. There are three pintucks on each sleeve, three oval motifs in the front of the gown, three circles (love never-ending) on the motif I chose for the yoke, and finally three crosses on the motif at the bottom front of the gown.

I said special prayers for Preston's future - and for every child who will wear this gown - as I did my handstitching.

I shipped the finished gown, slip (bearing Preston's name and birthdate as the first child to be christened in the gown), and bonnet to Wisconsin today to the baby's waiting parents.

My nephew, Daniel - Preston's father - said he and Preston's mother, Amber chose the baby's name in hopes that their child would grow up to be strong and successful. My prayers for their baby asked for blessings that he grow into a man who loves the Lord and his family, a man who is hard-working and studious, and a man who believes in himself to become anything he chooses to become.

I look forward to watching this baby grow into a young man. I'll continue to pray for him and his parents...beginning with the symbols embodied in this simple cotton batiste gown.

You may view larger photos of the completed gown and bonnet in my Christening Gown Flickr album.

April 11, 2009

He is Risen...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
By His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a
living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead.
1 Peter 1.3

I finished Preston's Christening gown, bonnet and slip today...Easter Sunday. (Go to my Flickr album to see photos.)

April 10, 2009

Good Friday...

Surely He has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted Him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the punishment that made us whole, and by His bruises we are healed. Isaiah 53.4-6

April 8, 2009

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood...

Today dawned sunny and dry. This time of year can already be humid in Florida, but not so today. It was the perfect day to work outside and give our garden shed a much-needed spring cleaning.

Handsome and I moved everything into the yard, and then we swept the cement floor, put up a great tool-hanging system, moved a few things from the garage to the shed and really streamlined our yard equipment.

Kes spent the day staring at the shelf where we keep her retrieving dummy, and every once in a while, we'd stop our work and toss it a few times for her. It's nice to see her still moving like a puppy, but now that we've all had our dinner, she's sound asleep in her favorite spot in our bedroom...snoring like the senior citizen she is.

We've made a game of working outside during hot, humid weather. The work sessions are short, punctuated by quick dips in the swimming pool to cool off, and then back to work. Today, because the weather was cooler, we waited to jump in the pool until all our work was finished. A friend who is currently visiting his second house in Pennsylvania called to tell us it was snowing there, which made our afternoon dip even sweeter.

We ended our day with a meal featuring salmon on the grill, so I took a moment to enjoy the fragrance of the jasmine bushes in full bloom in our back courtyard. I couldn't resist taking a snapshot of the flowers which grow over a small monument that my dad brought up from the bottom of a Wisconsin lake when I was a kid. He and my mum gave it to me as a gift, and it's one of my treasured possessions. We brought it with us when we moved from Wisconsin eight years ago. I think of Dad every time I look at it, and now with the jasmine growing all around it, I can't help but smile whenever I walk past it.

April 4, 2009

Baubles, Bangles and Bright Shiny Beads...

Well, I did manage to finish one project this week. I love this scarf! It's a Deanna's Vintage Styles pattern.

I used Koigu KPPPM 100% merino wool in a fingering weight, and the prestrung beads available from Deanna's in Grosse Pointe Woods, MI. These people are really friendly, and Gary is happy to help with reorders.

I started my scarf on Tuesday when my friends, Netta and Becky came to my house for a girls' knitting night. We shared a light dinner and then got to our projects. Becky had done knitted beadwork before, so I saved this project until she came over because I just couldn't figure out how to do this when I read the pattern. There is an old adage that "knitting patterns are meant to be worked, not read", and it turned out to be true, particularly in this case. Both of us read and re-read the instructions, but I just wasn't getting it...until I started just doing what the pattern told me to do and then...voila!...easy peasy!

I finished my scarf last night and wore it out to breakfast this morning when I met Netta and Becky for our Saturday morning "gossip and nosh" and it was a huge hit. I'm going to make a few more so I'll have something beautiful as gifts for family and friends throughout the year.

So, this week wasn't a total loss...I learned some lessons, had fun with friends and I have a fabulous new scarf to show for it. I'm a happy girl.

(Click on the link in the left column to go and check out Deanna's Vintage Styles website!)

April 3, 2009

This Week's Lessons...

I like to think that a person never stops learning, and this week was a perfect example of that for me.

I had changed my mind about the design I wanted to use for Preston's Christening gown, so I took out my sample cloth and stitched out the new design layout so that I could size it to the actual pattern piece for the gown. Perfect fit! So, yesterday I decided to mark the layout on the fabric (a lovely Martha Pullen cotton batiste) and start the machine embroidery process.

I also worked on a new "quickie" project, Deanna's Vintage Styles' beaded scarf, rather than just sit and watch the machine stitching away.

I carefully aligned all the elements as I moved the hoop down the fabric to make sure it all stayed in the center of what would become the front piece for the gown and it was looking fabulous - if I do say so myself. Scarf and embroidery projects sailing along just fine. After working on both for most of the day, I was down to the final three small motifs for the gown front.

I finished small motif Number One; reset the machine to start stitching small motif Number Two and headed to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.

Did I tell you that my Ellisimo sings to me? She does! She twinkles when a new setting is entered into the machine; beeps when I make a mistake; and sings a whole little tune when a design has finished stitching. It's so cool! Well, I was just finishing making that cuppa, when she "twinkled". I knew that meant that I had to check on her. I went into my studio, read the screen and she told me that the thread had broken and that I should check and rethread the machine. I opened the cover and...Oh, No! I was OUT OF THREAD!!!

Now, I don't mean that the spool was empty, and I'd just grab another spool of the same color and thread up the machine to complete my project. Noooooooooooo. I mean OUT OF THREAD. No more. Empty. Nada. Period. ARRAAAGGGGGHHHH!

And, because no one in the area sells this particular brand of thread (which I purchased via mail order), I knew I wasn't going to match the color with anyone else's brand to finish the embroidery. To say the air in my studio turned blue would be an understatement. I looked in drawers - I don't know...I guess I hoped I'd find that a spool of the exact color I needed had spontaneously generated when I wasn't looking - I searched through my, ahem, vast stash in hopes of finding more. What was I thinking? The only saving grace was that this pattern calls for 3 yards of fabric, and I knew that I had 7 -- er, now 6 yards left to do the project so I would have enough extra to start over. sigh

So, here's what I've learned this week:
  • Never stitch your practice design on your sample fabric in the actual color (and the only spool) of thread for your project. Go in the drawer and pull out a spool of "Why do I have this color?" thread to do your practice embroidery.
  • Always purchase at least one spool more than you think you'll need for a project. If you get caught in the middle of the night - or at the very least after shop hours - you're going to have to wait until the next day to resolve your "issue".
  • Don't walk out of the studio while the embroidery machine is hard at work. This really has nothing to do with why I ran out of thread, but I figured my Ellisimo (newly named, "Ellie") burned through more thread than she should have because she was lonesome. (Well, it could happen, right? I'm not taking chances on that again.)
So, there you have it. I went to Sarasota today to my favorite fabric store (Sew Worth It! - that's the name of the store), and with the help of my friend, Loreen who works there, purchased two 1100 yard spools of the closest match I could find to the color I had originally fallen in love with, and now I'm back home telling you about this so you don't make the same mistakes I did. I'll fire up "Ellie" tomorrow and hold her embroidery unit until the stitching is complete. It'll be ok...just a slight delay.

By the way...my scarf is looking fierce!

You can see my gown progress in the "Preston's Christening Gown Project" Flickr album, and my scarf can be seen on "Currently On My Needles..." (down the lower left column here)

April 1, 2009

Happy April 1st...

I received a yarn review from my friend, Amy, this evening. All I can say is that I had visions of being mauled by a pack of dogs while wearing my new tank top knit from this fiber! Don't worry...Kes will protect me!

Be sure to let me know what you'd make with something made using this innovative process!
Click on the title above to read more about it.

Thanks to Knitter's Review for the link content.