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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Brrrr - it turned freezing as soon as I came back from Sweden.  From being in the 80s, I hear, we went down to below 32 in just a few days.
Spring did a belly-flop this weekend.  The ground was covered with a thin layer of snow on Sunday morning and the outdoor birds were complaining loudly and repeatedly about the lack of seed in the bird-feeders.  My hyacinths looked accusingly up at me - almost double-bent in the chilly air.  Even the daffodils looked less than amused.  The snow melted away pretty quickly though and the spring bubs stretched back out again.

Note the seriously impatient clematis and peony plants in the last garden pic below...  Boy, I thought that I had issues with patience..  ;-)

This last pic show "the big birds" haning out in my kitchen.  See the blue stuff on the right in the door-way?  That is a drape, hung there specifically to keep the little monsters out... they like to hang in the kitchen, isnce the sliding glass door makes this room so bright and since there is a hot air vent right below them.  They are so cute that it is hard to get really mad.  And they know it!  Oh, and yes, my ironing and sewing machine stations are placed smack on the kitchen table....  I guess that I ought to feel bad about that...  :-(

Well, what better excuse to stay in and stitch than freezing weather?  I got time to stitch up a storm this weekend!  I started off on Friday evening with finishing up as much as I can on the PS Birth Sampler.  Now the baby boy needs his full name to be decided and we are ready to get this sampler on the road!

Saturday got interrupted with taking care of the fuzz-balls.  I was left as the single parrot parent on Saturday, since DH had to work (I keep forgetting - I think that I am married, but I am not sure if we actually live together anymore...)  and to be nice to him and the birds I had fun leaning over the bath-tub for a couple of hours.  I have probably mentioned it in the past - 6 large bird cages take time to clean...
Anyway, it's definitely worth it - as you can see below, Rocky and Hugin are quite pleased.  Rocky is munching away on a large chunk of apple.  I remember that I thought that it was absolutely fascinating the first time I saw a bird eat like this! 
Rocky and Hugin have had 19 babies together and they are out only mating couple (thank goodness!!!).  Rocky (Rock) is the female and is quite a little overachiever, laying up to 10 eggs per clutch.  There is not a chance in the world that she can sit on all 10, so generally about 4 of the eggs hatch.  That keeps mom and dad quite busy as it is...  The first time Rocky sat on her eggs, she was so devoted that she refused to come out of her nest-box to eat.  Hugin  did actually have to go in to the box, chase her out and guard the entrance until she had eaten some food and drunk a bit of water.  She was really skinny when the eggs finally hatched and I am sure that she would not have survived without him taking care of her.
After the babies hatch, she is generally not too interested in family time anymore.  See, she loves DH and probably wishes that she could have married him instead of Hugin.  She does not even bother trying to keep it a secret.  :-)  She will sit and kiss DH on the forehead and tell him "Hi baby!" for hours.  Luckily neither Hugin nor I are the jealous type! 
Hugin is a great dad!  It is pretty cool to see how birds are taught how to fly in your own living-room.  He will line up all the babies beside him on the top of a cage, look them all over to make sure that he has the undivided attention of all babies and then he will fly over to another cage or object close to where he started from.  Then he turns around and all the babies fly after, one by one.  Then he makes sure that they are all lined up, paying attention, and it is off back to the point of origin.  It is quite a sight and he has the patience of a saint.  And I must say that the concentration and discipline of the babies are simply awesome!

Well, after bathing birdcages for a while, I thought that it would only be logical to finish up the final stitches on Just Nan's "Birdcage"/  I had some beading, back-stitch and charting to do, so I opted to do that at home instead of at work.  I switched out the text on the outside back for my initials and a large egg.  I like the egg, but I am not certain about the letters just yet.  (They are taken from the PS Birth Sampler book btw.)  After that, I read that finishing instructions about three times and fell asleep...  Snore!

I did also finish up a small stitch for Littelest Sister.  I always used to call her my little piglet, since she is very blond, has a beautiful rosy complexion and has the cutest little button nose (oh, how I wish that I had gotten that nose...)!  I think that it is only fitting that I could be called a chicken, so this design is  dedicated to her as a symbol of the two of us.  If you surf the on-line stitch stores as often as I am, you probably know that this little square is only the part of this design.  I am sorry that I can't show all of it to you, but LS, "Herr Slusk", follows my blog regularly.  I promise to show you as soon as I have handed it over to her.

I was a tad tired on Sunday, but managed to start on a brand new kit; the LH 1818 Quaker Pocket, which is an old kit from The Goode Huswife.  This was the very first kit that I bough by contacting the desiner directly.  I got two kits - one to sticth for my Mom and one for me.  I have been thinking that I'd better stitch on these ni parallel, or I have a feeling that only one will be done...  Supposedly, the pre-finished pockets that came with these kits werer accidentally made with the wrong count linen, so I feel a bit like I am living on the edge...  It will be very pretty when it is done and I think that it will stitch up a lot quicker than I originally thought.

So, since I can't stick to just one new beginning, I started on yet another kit tonight.  I have the opportunity to take the Hare Pyns finishing class with Sherri Jones of Patrick's Woods through the QCSG in October.  I took this class at CON back in 2007 and never even opened the kit.  I even missed the class!  I do have a good excuse; I took Forget-Me-Nots-in-Stitches "A Victorian Melon Bag" that year too and the classes were scheduled during the same time slot.  Well, Sherri's class was jam packed and there were only three students in Lauren Sauer's  class, so it was an easy pick of which class-room to sit in!  I think that Lauren is the sweetest person, by the way!  Oh, and Sherri is also a lovely lady.
Anyway, I have told myself that I am not registring for the finishing class unless the stitching is done.  Basta!  It is a lovely design, but the vast majority of the stitching is over-one I think, so nothing that I will whip up over a weekend...  ;-)  Here is the beginning of the needle book.  Herringbone stitch and over-one..... 

Before I say Good Night, I guess I'd better post a picture of the Melon Bag!  It was a fun prooject and the first one that I ran amok and redesigned a big part to be more personal.  I will have to go back and change out all the rings that the drawstring goes through.  The keep snagging the string and it drives me batty!!!!
The secon pic shows my monogram - that was the panel that I redesigned.

So, Good Night all friends - talk with you soon!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Back and Jumping Right Into Spring!

Hi Everyone!  It feels really good to be back home!  I am not tired at all and could even keep a pretty high tempo at work today - I figured that I'd better use this energy to my advantage and get a post out of it!  ;-)

First off, big thanks to all of you for the kind words about my parents' home.  They certainly appreciate all the sweet comments too.
The seriousness and sadness of this trip was embedded in fun and relaxation too.  My Littelest Sister, from now on also known as Herr Slusk (which is truly exceptionally hilarious, but you may have to be Swedish and grown up in a home with ample access to child literature to understand why...), moved back to my parents' while I was in Sweden.  We even shared the gigantic pull out couch.  No pictures from that room... it looked like a closet explosion!  As I already reported a while back, we did have time to schedule a craft session, but she is much more determined than your average duck and managed to get an additional number of things started and completed.  She made 4 fabric rose brooches and almost finished a mountain climber pouch to keep chalk in during the four evenings we spent together. This is her craft tote BTW.  I am thrilled that she uses it, since I made it for her I few years back (I love, love, love Charley Harper!!!).

We did also keep Little Sister company most of the evenings.  She is at home with a wonderful, happy and very energetic 2 year old girl and a baby brother that was less that two weeks old when I arrived.  I tell you, the newborn babies sure spend a lot of time eating....  Anyway, the dad was studying for an exam and had to go to the library in the evenings, so the rest of us came over to play with the girl, keep sister company, bring food, and all that other good stuff.  I must say that it is pretty easy to be an aunt - you just figure out what the niece in question loves = dolls, and you bring her a package with a gigantic doll that you hand over as soon as you meet.  Bribing -> easy-peasy!  :-)  Anyway - she is simply super-charming and I will miss her a lot!

Other great memories;
The funeral, with a fantastic female priest, beautiful psalms and flower arrangements in the absolutely breathtaking Tibble Kyrka. 
This is the church from the outside - a boring and bleak box:
But this is the inside - fabulous, isn't it!?  I used to go to church here when I was a teenager....
Mom served both coffee and dinner after the service and it was wonderful.  Quite a few family members that we have not seen in years or, in some cases for "us kids", have never seen came to pay respects.  My God Mother came with most of her family and it was a lot of fun to reconnect with her.  She is both a seamstress and a stitcher and is, just like me, crazy about vintage Clara Waever/Eva Rosenstand cross-stitch patterns.  She also shared that she has been researching our family history and learned that our fascination with textile crafts lies in our DNA; we are decedents of silk traders.  How cool is that!?

I woke up at 5.30 AM on Sunday and it was already light outside.  I left the house for a walk in the forest around 8, while everyone was still in bed.  It was just wonderful to walk in the woods.  I listened to the silence, the bird song, the dripping of the melting snow.  I laughed as I almost landed on my back in a slick and icy area and I cried just 10 minutes later because it felt like I had come home, safe and welcomed back into open arms, right into nature.  I ran here every evening for years, to keep my feelings and thoughts down and the mounting stress at bay.  We swam in the little forest lake, dark, deep, quiet, mysterious.  I watched and learned to love the light; the long shadows in the early hours and the gold in the tree tops just before night begun.  We took cross-country ski trips in the winters and mom would bring hot chocolate and snacks as a bribe to get us to come.  I walked here with friends that I no longer know, back when I was a person I can't remember.  I look at the bird houses that someone has nailed to the tree trunks, far far up and I think to myself that good and caring people really do exist.  Tranquility.

Herr Slusk (bwahaha), mom, dad, and I going to City to shop for clothes and eat lunch at the Dance Museum in Stockholm.  All three were so sweet and helped me choose from all the cool clothes - it probably took about an hour to go through everything...   We got to walk through Old Town and enjoy the architecture and the beginning of spring.  (When DH saw my purchases, his comments were "That is colorful.  ....And artsy.".  That's what I get for trying to dress less in muted browns, blacks, and whites...  Here is a link to the Gudrun Sjoden web site "main entrance" if you would like to take a look at her style.  GS is a Swedish designer who is not afraid of colors in the least!)

Littelest Sister and I having a lot of pretty serious and deep discussions about life, work, family.  It was really great!  Here is a beautiful flowering spring basket that we passed by while out shopping & talking.  The basket belongs to the shop Oleana, which is a Norwegian sweater designer - check out the fantastic knitted beauties here: catalog (this pdfwill take a while to load, I am sure...  I was bad and bought the long shirt on the right side, page 2.  Yeah, I know.  It is colorful.  ...And artsy.).  The designer gets her inspiration from old wall paper, textiles and so on.  I can swear that one of the patterns she has was definitely inspired by Ruskin Lace! 

I got a fair amount of stitching complete on the way home.  Sitting 8 hrs on a plane works wonders for any stitching progress!  I am out of the dark gray floss, so I need to hit the store before long.  Other than that, it is pretty much done.

Another wonder was one of the feature movies on the flight back to the US, Black Swan! I won't bore you with my interpretations of this movie, which is a flick that is complicated and clever, deep with terrifying symbolism, scary, thrilling, exciting, and simply pure art.  Just go and watch it!  I saw "The King's Speech"  a couple of weeks ago.  Great movie, but I did not think about it a whole lot after it was over.  The Black Swan is a movie that I will carry with me for a long time.  I am even contemplating going to the movie theater to watch it all over again, just to get the full effect!  (I watched it twice on the flight... that is how great it was!)

Once I came back home, I noticed that Spring did not dip her toes in the lake this year, she found the highest trampoline and jumped off canon-ball style and splashed everything!  There are flowering trees, bushes and bulbs everywhere.  Before I even grabbed my purse from the car coming back from the airport, I got the camera out and took a few pics:

And finally, Herr Slusk (hihihi) showed me a couple of really awesome music videos that are a bit in the same line as Sledgehamer.
Here is "Mad World" by Gary Jules
and the really beautiful and impressive "Her Morning Elegance" by Oren Lavie 

Well, time to go and stitch or something... ;-)
Thanks so much for stopping by and talk with you in a bit!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Quick Hello from Sweden

The trip to Sweden has been great!  Time really flew by, but it feels like I have been here for a real long while too - time is such an odd dimension...  I am leaving for KY tomorrow mornintg, so I wanted to post a quickie before it is time to sleep.  The bags are packed and we are getting ready for bed right now.  I promise to write more later, but I wanted to share some photos from my home before I leave.

 First an update. the PS sampler is coming along.  Sitting in Chicago for 6 hrs between flights helped along a great deal.  The baby's name is yet to be finalized, so there is no great hurry.  I mean, it will be pretty hard to chart any of the baby's personal information unless I have it all....  I do like how the yellow and the blue flowers work out.  I am trying to determine the colors of the spots on the birds heads and wings.  I tried pink, but I am not sure that I am a fan.  The original calls for dark grey, but that seems a tad boring...  I may go with creme or with a nice yellow.
Littelest Sister and I managed to squeeze in our mandatory craft night early on.  We made four of these triangular ort baggies.  She loved the quilt cutting board and the rotary cutters that I brought for her.  I am so happy she liked them!  We had a lot of fun - craft is just a fabulous time to spend time together.

And here are some photos from home....  Mom and Dad are definitely at home in the Grandma and Grandpa roles now.  There are toys collected in boxes, baskets, and bags stored along all the walls in the living room.  some of these toys are things that my sisters and I played with as kids.

The House - we moved here when I was 8 and this was my home until I turned 18.  Dio you see the bird-house hanging on the birch-tree in the front?

Feeding birds in the winter is something that the vast majority of households do in Sweden.  Here is an example of what the birds feast on outside my parents' kitchen window; peanuts, unsalted butter, bird seeds, and an apple every now and then.
 The back yard:
 Waiting for spring:

 Snow and very early spring flowers (snowdrops and vintergäck):
Behind the garage:
 My dad loves music and here is a part of the guitar collection:
 The taste is defenitely eclectic - elegant, but with a big dose of fun and humor.  This is the ceiling lamp in the downstairs bath-room...
 The window in the library (this used to be my room).  Note the artichoke lamp!  The close-up photo below shows all the collection of various textile craft books in the library.
 A small glass grape-cluster lamp under the staircase - just adorable (looks really yummy too)!
Upstairs - the leather couch has been sat in many times.  The oil painting on the wall was painted by my dad's aunt.  I believe that the cross-stitch pillow was stitched by one of my sisters.  
I have tried to get Home Depot to reproduce the gorgeous wall color, but without any look - they always give me much more lime than apricot.
The upstairs sun window.  Needless to say, mom loves plants.
 This is my mother's hoya.  Mom told me that it is blooming for the second time this season.  Love the lamps!
 Breakfast this morning, Littelest Sister, mom and dad.  We are getting ready to go in to town.

Next time I write, I'll be back in Kentucky!  Take care and see you soon!
PS Excuse the spelling, but Swedish spell-check does not work real well on English... :-)