Friday, July 27, 2012

Adventures In Knitting

 One of my prizes from the fair was a $25 gift card from 3 Kittens Needle Arts so Dave drove me over there this weekend to spend it.  What a fabulous store!  One whole section of the store was devoted to tapestry, cross stitch and needlepoint supplies.

 They stocked a large selection of different yarns and weights, plenty of books and patterns and probably the largest and most well organized selection of knitting needles I'd ever seen.
 On the upper right of this photo, you see all the Cascade 220.
They stocked plenty of Dale of Norway, Jamieson and Smith, Noro, etc.  I didn't see any Lopi but I was also in a bit of a hurry because Dave was good enough to drive me and he was patiently waiting.  I could have wandered around in there for hours looking at and touching all the yarn.
They didn't stock any Koigu but I found quite a few awesome substitutes.  I have fallen in love with Madelinetosh yarns and got 2 skeins, as well as a skein of Koigu-like Hazel Knits, and 2 skeins of very Koigu-like Claudia Hand Painted in the 50% off bin!  I got a set of size 00 needles for bead knitting.  They stocked size 000000 (!!!) dpn and I had never seen any smaller than 0000.
We also went fishing last weekend and I brought my knitting on the boat.  I did fish for a while but I feel bad sometimes because poor Dave baits my hook and takes the fish off for me and he doesn't get a lot of fishing done himself.  I spent some of the time knitting and it was a great afternoon.  I'll admit I'm kind of a wuss when it comes to handling the fish.  I couldn't even put my thumb in the fish's mouth to hold it up for a picture and not because I thought it was gross.  Believe me, as a nurse I've had my fingers and hands in some nasty things!  The fish were just so wiggly and strong and they'd scare me and I kept dropping them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

London 2012

 Mother planned another great trip this year which also included my 10 year old niece Ava.  She has always loved hearing about our prior trips to London.  When she was 4, she actually told her pre-school teacher, "My Grandma is going to London to see the Queen."  My parents have a London coffee mug in their cupboard and that was always the glass she wanted to drink from.  Mother promised her years ago that when she was 10 she'd take her to London and by gosh, she did.  Mom did her homework and basically got her a free airline ticket between her frequent flier miles and her Delta Sky credit card credits.  Her transportation was cheap because she can ride the Tube for free.  We rented an apartment for a week and a half and had a great time in Merry Olde London.  This is of course Big Ben and Parliament and behind that is Westminster Abbey.  She was thrilled of course and even though I'd been there before, so was I!  London never gets old.

 I'd never ridden in The Eye before which was something we did on this trip.  All I can say is England should have absolutely no national debt because of this thing!  There was a huge line both when we got on and got off and it was $20 a crack to ride.  It was worth the price of admission though.  The wheel never ever stops, it just slowly goes around.  There is a security check when you get to the front of the line and they bunch you into groups of about 20 or so.  Then they herd your group up to this large platform ramp thing and the pod comes along, the doors open and a group steps out, staff step in with mirrors to security check the pod, and then your group steps in--all while the wheel is moving.  The pods were air conditioned and it was an awesome view of the city.  You can see Big Ben in the lower right hand corner of the photo.  The Eye is right across the river from Parliament.

We also took a day trip out of London to Salisbury to see Stonehenge which I'd also never seen.  There were a bunch of Druids and Morris dancers inside the stones when we were there.  That is one combination platter I wouldn't order.  We civilians had to stay behind the rope but we did see a Latvian Harley Davidson enthusiast promptly escorted out after she stepped over the rope and touched the stones.  At almost $30 per ticket, that was an expensive stunt to pull. 
We explored the town of Salisbury a little as well as visited the cathedral.  This church is the tallest spire in the UK and leans almost 28 inches to the east.  The adjoining museum houses the Magna Carta.  We learned that even though Salisbury had secret plane manufacturing facilities, the town was never bombed during WWII.  The German pilots were given strict orders not to bomb Salisbury because they'd use the spire of the cathedral as a landmark and then follow the rivers up to London.  While we were inside the church, there was a full orchestra and choir rehearsing pieces from Haydn.  Hearing that glorious music made the space even more magnificent.

My other favorite day trip was a train ride to Dover to visit Dover castle and the WWII tunnels.  Dover has always been a significant location as a fortress and military outpost.  The castle was interesting with it's intact buildings and walls and mock ups of medieval living, but I enjoyed the WWII tunnels the most.  This was the sight of the historic Dunkirk evacuations, aka Operation Dynamo.  Hundreds of thousands of allied troops were isolated and surrounded without supplies or transport on the beaches of Dunkirk.  The Germans were bombing any and all rescue attempts and the Allies couldn't risk their large hardware.  In the end, civilian fisherman and merchant boats rescued thousands and thousands of troops and brought them back to Dover.  They were blessed with both calm weather and German inactivity for a few days and got the job done.  We toured the tunnel that served as command center for the mission as well as a hospital tunnel.  The tunnels were dug and used before WWII during the Napoleonic wars and used after WWII in the 1960's as a Cold War regional seat of government.  The weather was rainy and cloudy when we were there so we were unable to see France.  We did get to see a bit of the White Cliffs of Dover.

I loved all the WWII memorabilia and picked up a few items.  I wasn't going to get the thermos because I already have one that size and it was L17, but I found one that was reduced to L13.60 because it had a slight dent in the cup!  Whoo-hoo!  I also never knew the British TV show "Dad's Army" was set in a fictitious town similar to Dover.  I will be getting that on my Netflix.

We were so busy with our daily activities and day trips that we had time for only one yarn shop, but I picked a good one!  We went to Loop which was quite easy to find.  We rode the Northern tube line to the Angel stop and then followed the signs about a block to the Camden Passage and there it was. 

It was a lovely two story shop that was well stocked with tools, notions, books, patterns and help.  Lots of designer brands as well as plenty of English brands.

It was very busy in the shop!

We bought a pattern book written by one of the proprietors of the shop and all the pattern examples were in the shop which was nice to assess the garment size.
I also bought a beautiful book of embroidered Estonian gloves.
I bought a skein of Madelintosh for a baby sweater in the Loops book and 4 skeins of Quince and Company linen yarn.

They also sold Sajou threads and scissors.  I so wanted to get an Eiffel Tower pair...but they were over L50.  So instead I bought the charming L8 pair instead.  We also visited the Liberty store where I got some Sajou ribbons and a few knitting tools.

My other favorite purchase was this herb grinder from the Tudor Kitchen shop at Hampton Court.  It is beautiful burled wood and filled with thyme.  Ava learned a lot about Tudor life, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I as well as Queen Victoria. 

My mother Queen Elizabeth III planned yet another great trip!

It. Is. Done.

 I finished the invitations, stuffed them, addressed them with cheating printed labels, stamped and sealed them.  I have to get a few more stamps but these babies will go out in today's mail.  I can't brag that these are anything fancy.  We went with Wilton invitation kits for our announcements.  I was pleased with the kit and the price and once we going, they weren't so painful.  I remember the days before we had decent home printers and you had to order your announcements and have them printed and then all the inner and outer envelopes, etc.  Such a production.
And while we're on the subject, I wanted to share my collection of wax seals.  I have always loved the medieval idea of sealing correspondence.  These were picked up all over Europe on different trips.  They make great souvenirs because they're small and pack well, they're beautiful and unique and they can be used and enjoyed all your life.  I think my favorite is the green/blue glass one on the left.  It is Venetian glass that I purchased while backpacking IN Venice in 2001.  Two are thistle designs, one is a Celtic knot, one is a flourish design, and the rest are all K's.  I have a K I bought at St. Paul's Cathedral years ago and last month in London, we visited St. Paul's again where I bought an A for my soon to be new last name.

Monday, July 16, 2012


 My brudekrone arrived in the mail 2 weeks ago!  I have always dreamt of a Norwegian wedding crown ever since I was a little girl.  We are not having a traditional Norwegian wedding by any means but I do want to have some Norwegian and Czech traditional elements present on our day.  Norwegian bunads, or traditional costumes, have delicate jewelery distinct to each of the 19 counties in Norway.  This jewelery is called solje and is made of silver or gold with dangling "spoons" of gold or silver.  Solje is beautiful and handmade but it is also very expensive.  There are a few Scandinavian gift shops that will rent out their crowns for weddings but for some crazy reason, I thought I'd be able to own one.  I regularly checked eBay and didn't find anything.  I did come across a few museum caliber antique crowns in Norwegian auction catalogs but it seems the only place to get a non-antique crown is ordering one from a solje goldsmith.  I contacted one such goldsmith in Norway and to purchase and ship a new crown to the US would cost over $2,000!  That is just a little outside my budget.

 And then I met Karen!  I found a woman on Etsy who was selling solje jewelery.  At first glance, I thought this woman clearly didn't know what she had because she was selling brooches that should cost well over $200 for $40.  Upon closer inspection, I learned she MADE the jewelery out of silver plate components.  I contacted her and sent her pictures of the rental crown from Ingebretsen's and asked if she'd ever made something similar.  She spent a weekend looking around for different components and agreed to take on this project.

I didn't have time earlier today during daylight and tonight took these absolutely ghastly pictures of this beautiful crown.  These photos do it absolutely no justice.  I don't know how many times I have gotten it out to look at it.  I swear I am going to wear it to the grocery store.  I told Karen she needed to take out an ad in Viking Magazine but until then I will tell anyone who will listen about the beautiful crown she made for my wedding.  Thank you again Karen!

Fair Winnings

 Yesterday was the last day of the Ramsey County Fair and this morning I picked up my knitting on the way home from work.  I am very pleased to report that 6 out of my 7 entries placed in their lots and my bridal purse took home the champion ribbon for the knitting class!  This was my first time exhibiting at this fair and now the pressure is really on for next year because there is no where to go but down from here.
I had to post a picture of my knitting moment of glory on display.  I am going to enter this in the State Fair next month!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Wedding Flowers

 I spent much of last evening cursing this wretched heat and sitting on the floor playing with silk flowers.  Our wedding is not until the end of September but getting this done will be one less thing to worry about later.  Plus we have a wedding pile in the corner of our living room and it is getting larger and more unorganized so this helped a little.  As happy as I am to be getting married to Dave, I can't help but feel this wedding business is for the birds.  I have never wanted a royal wedding and I have been to enough weddings in the last few years to know that they involve months and even years of planning and they're over in minutes.  When it comes down to it, I'm also very cheap!  I refuse to pay someone to plan it for me and I cannot justify spending a fortune on a cake, a party, and a dress which is really what a wedding is when you boil things down.  I think what I do love the most about weddings, at least in our family, is getting to see people you haven't seen since the last family wedding or funeral.  That being said and working within the tightness of my pursestrings, I am trying to pull together a wedding that won't look shabby and will bring our extended family together.
I am the last unwed cousin in my family and I never put much thought into wedding planning/costs because it never loomed on my horizon until now.  I have actually been brought to tears in researching venue rates, catering expenses, photography packages, florist fees, DJ's, etc.  All that and THEN you will spend the most money you've ever spent in your life on a single garment that is the wedding dress.  It goes on and on.  Needless to say, we are chipping away at different things and trying to do as much ourselves as possible.  Case in point, flowers.  I went to Joann Fabrics around Memorial Day when they were having sales on silk flowers and still spent around $120.  I see absolutely nothing wrong with silk flowers but quality silk blooms can be pricey.  I am willing to spend the money though because I don't want people to be able to tell from across the street that my flowers are silk.  After last night, I can see why florists charge what they do.  I sat down with my flowers and stripped all the leaves off and cut them apart and trimmed the stems and then you have to reattach leaves closer to the bloom and tape up the stems.  After all that fussing you start arranging them together with your greenery that you've also cut up and separated and start wiring and taping together your stems.  I made corsages for our mothers, boutonnieres for Dave, his groomsman and our fathers, and bouquets for myself and my sister who is my matron of honor.  They really looked nice enough on their own but I wrapped them in a little ribbon to perpetuate our chosen colors and that put a nice finishing touch on them.  I can't imagine doing this the day before an event with perishable blooms and praying they'll hold up throughout the day.

I wrapped the large bouquets with some blue Czech ribbon I got when we went to the Festival of Nations.  His family is Czech and mine is Norwegian so this was a nice way to add some of his ethnicity into the trimmings.  I have some wider Czech ribbon that I bought years ago with Melissa at the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids.  I will decorate our guest book with that and I'll post pictures of that when I get around to it.  I just got off the phone with my sister and she teased me that by posting pictures of my flowers, I am giving away all my secrets!  I am just so proud of these that I couldn't help but share them.  Also, I am taking knitting to the Ramsey County Fair on Sunday and I already looked to see if they had a silk flower arranging category and they don't!  I totally would have entered these!