Sep 302010
 

We are again at the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge for a couple of weeks doing some post-season work and post-season play. Even here, the sun’s been shining most of this month–and this is a rainforest. But no more.

It’s been raining for two days, and this is the marine forecast for the weekend (the highlighting is mine).

…HURRICANE FORCE WIND WARNING FRIDAY…

.TODAY…SE WIND 30 KT EXCEPT E 40 KT NEAR THE COAST E OF MONTAGUE ISLAND. SEAS 13 FT. SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS.
.TONIGHT…E WIND 30 KT EXCEPT E 45 KT NEAR THE COAST E OF MONTAGUE ISLAND. SEAS 17 FT. RAIN.
.FRI…E WIND 50 KT INCREASING TO 65 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 20 FT. RAIN.
.FRI NIGHT…E WIND 65 KT BECOMING SE 45 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS 27 FT.
.SAT…S WIND 40 KT. SEAS 22 FT.
.SUN…S WIND 15 KT. SEAS 14 FT.
.MON…SE WIND 20 KT. SEAS 11 FT.

The lodge is well protected, but we may see some dramatic weather tomorrow. I love the drama of this place, even the blustery wet kind. We’ve got a cozy cabin, lots of wood, some books, and stitching supplies. We’ll weather the weather just fine.

Changing Seasons

 Posted by  Alaska
Sep 292010
 

I think we set some weather records this month. Most of September was sunny and mild. Absolutely gorgeous.

And then one day it was winter. Just like that. On Saturday, I gathered the last batch of peas, and on Sunday, Mike and I harvested the carrots, beets, garlic, onions, and potatoes–while it snowed.

The freezer is jam-packed, the garage smells like onions (that will go away), and the potatoes are growing thicker skins. The garden beds are put to bed. We’re all ready for winter.

Well, mostly.

I’m not sure what this plant is thinking, but I admire its determination against the odds, its valiant effort in hopeless circumstances, and its pretty flowers.

Sep 242010
 

Ooo-wee, busy, busy, busy. I’ve been assembling and pricing materials for kits, and it’s proving to be quite the undertaking.

The kits I’ve made in the past have been for specific patterns, where all stitchers use the same materials to create the same end product. I

  • do the project,
  • keep track of what and how much I use,
  • look up prices,
  • do the math for dividing materials into appropriate quantities,
  • place orders,
  • cut and divide materials,
  • assemble and bag the kit.

I love cutting, assembling, and bagging; it’s the brain work of planning and figuring that is hardest. Most kits contain fabric, fiber, chart, needle, and maybe some beads, buttons, or charms. I call that fairly straightforward, though that’s not to make it sound easy. There are always issues, especially regarding quantities.

This time around, however, there is no specific pattern, and that complicates matters. There isn’t even a specific size or quantity for the project. I’m assembling materials that might be used any number of ways for any number of end products. A sampler pack. A grab bag. Instant stash.

Another complication is that I’m including a wide variety of materials: I have over 40 items for which I had to find and re-calculate prices. It’s not as though prices can be found in a single Excel file; I have to look in different places: manufacturers’ price lists, shop receipts, websites, etc. For just the beads, which are listed as one item, I have separate bags of differently-priced beads: $.03, .04, .05, .08, .10, .12, .14, .15, .25, .30, .35, .40. I want to make $3.00 bags of assorted beads, a nice variety of color, size, and shape, including about $.25 worth of size 8 seed beads. Anyone care to tell me how many I should pull from each bag? And don’t think for a minute that each bag contains a single size/shape/color.

It’s a challenge and it’s time-consuming to make kits. But it’s fun, too, handling all these great materials. Sometimes, it’s hard to let the kits go!

Sep 212010
 

Registration is open for the

Bookmarks 101:
Simple, Smart, and Swanky Finishes

online class

October 18 – November 14

There’s more to embroidered bookmarks than pre-finished rectangular forms. Lots more! Use scraps, stash, beads, buttons, charms, ribbons, hooks, and any and all fabrics and fibers to make simple, smart, and swanky bookmarks.

The trick is in the finishing, except it’s really not so tricky. In fact, it’s easy!

In Bookmarks 101, we’ll learn four general ways to finish bookmarks from scratch, including no-sew methods and three techniques that employ simple backstitching, whip stitching, and fringed edges. We’ll discuss variations of each of the finishing methods, providing dozens of exciting options.

We’ll investigate a variety of materials for adhering, backing, and embellishing, and we’ll explore basic beading and wirework techniques and tools.

Together, we’ll craft one-of-a kind bookmarks that are fully functional and fun to make and use.

The class takes place in a private Yahoo Group; once you’ve registered, look for an invitation to join the Group on October 17. One lesson will be uploaded every week for four weeks. You’ll have time to read the lesson, ask questions, participate in discussions, and work on assignments throughout the week, whenever it’s convenient for you. Upload images of your work to share with the Group.

Make some fun and functional holiday gifts while stash-busting, and get a head start on some Bookmark Challenge bookmarks. I hope you’ll join me.

Visit the Funk & Weber Designs website for further info and to register.

Sep 202010
 

Back in July, Checkout Girl held an Embroidereading Contest.

On August 1, when I shared news of the contest here, I offered an original verse to anyone who wanted to participate in the contest.

Karen, owner of Arctic Needle in Anchorage, took me up on the offer. I sent her a selection of verses, and she chose Sourdough Sherri, from my incomplete and unpublished Mother Moose Alaska Nursery Rhymes collection.

Woot, Karen!

We didn’t win (sure, I helped!), but it is oh-so-fun to see this verse in stitches.

Check out the Embroidereading Flickr pool. Winners are announced here.

Something tells me we need to do this again, putting stitched poems on bookmarks.

Cranberry Mystery

 Posted by  Alaska
Sep 162010
 

Last year, in an attempt to make jellied cranberry sauce, I discovered cranberry butter–or cranberry taffy, cranberry tar, cranberry glue, take your pick.

I loved my cranberry butter.

This year, I’ve picked a bunch of cranberries so I can make both. With the first batch, I aimed for jellied cranberry sauce and got it. Woot!

With the second batch, I aimed for cranberry butter and decided to try adding allspice and cinnamon. Now, last year, the butter was an accident. I don’t know exactly why or how I got the gloppy stuff I did; to the best of my knowledge, all I did was triple the recipe. For the second batch this year, I didn’t triple the recipe, but rather tried a shorter boiling period, reducing the liquid less.

It didn’t work. I had two batches of jellied cranberry sauce, one spiced. I haven’t decided if I prefer it with or without the spices.

So I tried a third batch.

Since I liked the butter so much, I thought maybe I had inadvertently added too much sugar. I like sweet. Maybe I mis-counted the number of cups I added. So I tried adding extra sugar this time around, and I stirred pretty much constantly.

I now have three batches of jellied cranberry sauce: one regular, one spiced, one extra-sweet.

Hrmph.

I’ve searched for cranberry butter recipes online, and what I get are recipes that combine cranberries with butter-butter, the dairy kind. I have recipes for apple butter; I have recipes for jellied cranberry sauce; I have a recipe for cranberry ketchup. They’re all pretty much the same. I can’t figure out what alters the texture, what makes the liquid set up and what makes it gooey.

I’m not giving up. I’ll keep experimenting until I run out of cranberries. If any of you kitchen or cranberry gurus have ideas or advice, I’m listening.