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What a Fun Weekend!

On Saturday, I went to visit a friend who lives in Grand Rapids, MI, which is about two hours north of where I live. He told me to bring something nice to wear, which I did, and was surprised by tickets to see the Grand Rapids Symphony!  The theme of the concert was “Scottish Visions” and featured a wonderful guest performer – Evelyn Glennie.    Ms. Glennie is an amazing performer and percussionist and what makes it so incredible to watch is that she suffered a profound loss of hearing at the age of 12.  If you click on the “Scottish Visions” link you can listen to her talk about how music can be perceived with much more of your body than just your ears.   It was interesting to watch that in many ways, she was indirectly leading the musicians by providing cues to the director, who was in turn leading the symphony and it all fit together just right.  There’s a short sound clip of the performance that you can listen to, and if you go to her web page link, there is much more to hear and learn about her.  There are also some links on You Tube.  She is an amazing musician and performer and the experience was something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

My friend suggested that we go get a drink and talk after we left the show and he took me to a bar called the Kopper Top.  This was a cozy little spot to sit and talk.  The place was totally decked out for Valentines Day with fun paper hearts and all shades of pink and red covering the walls..  Strings of red lights everywhere.  I am told that they do this for every holiday and that its always over the top.  We only ordered drinks, but the service was good.  We stayed there and talked until they kicked us out.  🙂

The following morning we went out to breakfast, then my friend took me to the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.  The grounds host a permanent sculpture collection.  We walked around in the snow and saw some pretty interesting things before the cold and the wind forced us back indoors:

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I wish I could credit the artists for these pieces….

There was much more to see, but for me, it’ll have to be on a nice spring or summer day where you can take your time and not worry about slipping on the snow and ice or wonder when your fingers might actually be warm enough again to work properly.  🙂

The main building on the grounds has a nice cafe and lots of interior artwork that was fun to look at. I was particularly interested in the floor of the building which is a work of art in itself. The floor has bronze inlays everywhere with plant and leaf themes and is named Beneath the Leafy Crown by Michele Oka Doner. I took lots of pictures of the floor, but due to odd lighting and the inadequecies of the camera on my phone, this was the only shot that turned out well enough to post:

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There were interior tropical gardens that were lush and green (and warm!) that we looked at too. I really liked the plants in this picture, and the train tracks shown were very extensive and as we walked along we would find the train tracks going over our heads.

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I really enjoyed the time spent at this place and hope to go back again when the gardens outside are flourishing.  The park also features what looks would be a nice childrens play area and an outdoor band shell.

(Note to self: Start carrying a real camera with you so that you can get better shots when you unexpectedly end up at a really neat spot.)

All in all a wonderful weekend with a wonderful new friend.

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Knitting Update and a Little Stitching

I finally finished my scarf. 🙂 I’m still not sure if I’ll do anything to finish it off, but I did like Missy‘s idea of chainstitching some sort of eyelash type fiber and sewing around the edges.

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However, I’ve learned that stockinette stitch likes to curl up, which is a little annoying for a first project:

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I might try some other pattern next time I feel like knitting up a scarf.

I finished side one of Sweetheart Tree’s Lavender Blossoms biscornu:

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This is very sparkly in real life. I’ve started the back, which is supposed to be the same, but life is too short to repeat the whole thing (I would if it were different), so I’ll do the center motif, the border, the rhodes hearts and the fans in the corners and skip all of those vines.  I’ll probably put those giant pretty beads on too.  If I had to do this again, I’d skip the platinum fabric that comes with the kit and do it on white or antique white fabric.

I’ve discovered the ultimate multi-task!  I really wanted to read the new Dan Brown book, but didn’t want to take precious stitching time away to read, so I got the CDs!  I wasn’t sure if I could concentrate on both at the same time, but I can!  It makes me feel soooo productive and has the added advantage of drowning out the annoying football noises coming from the TV.  I was surprised tho, to find that the abridged version of the book is about 6 hours.  The unabridged (which I got) is over 17 hours.  How can you cut 11 hours out and still have the same book??  I’m baffled.  Anyway, I’m enjoying it and see many trips to the library for audio books in my future.

Knitting Class Update

I took a knitting basics class a couple of weeks ago.  The point of the class was to learn to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off.  I was inspired to take this class by all of the lovely projects I see on people’s blogs – afghans, socks, etc.  I taught myself how to do this several years ago, but thought a class would increase my confidence to move onto some different projects.

The class was taught in continental style, but I had a terrible time with stitches slipping off the needle.  I just switched to doing american/english style between classes and found that I had a lot more control over the needles, tension, and the stitches.

One thing the class didn’t teach was how to fix errors.  You Tube seems to have some good videos on that, but right now my only recourse is to just pull out rows of stitches and pray I rethread the needle the right way.

Anyhow, here’s a pic of where I am so far:
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Right now I’m not sure what I’ll do to finish this off. I’m not a huge fan of fringe, so I’ll probably either leave it as it is, or I’ll maybe crochet a scalloped edge on it.

Despite the multiple start-overs and scores of rows that have been pulled out and restitched, I’m happy with it overall… I like the colors and the pattern the color changes created.

Right now, what I really want is to finish this off and get back to stitching. 🙂 I still have an August ornament to do, but really want to get back to one of my larger projects.  There’s talk of a stitching GTG soon, which would be fantastic!

Went and saw Julie and Julia this weekend. I found that the movie really left me wanting to make Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon (yeah I had to look that up to spell it…). Beef has not passed over my lips for 15 years tho…. somehow I don’t think that Tofu Bourguignon would be the same…

Knots, Knots, Knots…..

So, I took the plunge and started Teresa Layman‘s Snow White Rose Red this weekend…

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It started a little rough (see white stitches on the roof), but I’m now getting pretty good at colonial knots… after never having done them before. I could never figure out the stitch diagram and couldn’t figure out why so many people claim that they are so much easier than french knots…. Anyway… I’m pretty happy with this and it’s not really as tedious as I thought it would be. Its kind of nice not to have to count anything. 😀 I’m not totally happy with the door, which is filled in completely with french knots. There is lots of detail on there with lines, cross braces, handles and bolts in the door… but it is-what-it-is as these buggers are a PITA to pull out.   There’s also a bench underneath the left window that isn’t showing up too well.

I just remembered that I signed up for a knitting class that starts tomorrow! The class is at Erica’s Craft and Sewing Center in South Bend.  The class project is a scarf.  I bought the yarn required a couple of weeks ago and got something that I thought would match my winter coat, which is kind of a chocolate brown color:

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I’m kind of surprised that it only calls for two skeins…  Anyway I can kind of knit, but can’t cast on.  I can do entire rows of knit stitches and purl stitches, but can’t alternate between the two without a knotted mess.  So, I figure some instructions and hands-on guidance will help.

Went and saw Funny People last night… pretty good and kind of interesting to see Adam Sandler in a more serious role, even though it was still a funny movie.  Man…. he’s starting to look older tho!

Stitching Slump

I haven’t been stitching much the last couple of weeks, so have had nothing interesting to post.  I did have a little finish last night:

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Victoria Sampler Summer Biscornu Free Design

I finished this for the contest being held in the Victoria Sampler Yahoo Discussion Group.  Thea published the pattern then invited people to stitch their own version.  There are some beautiful entries already and I added mine to the contest album this morning.  I’m happy with how it turned out, and it is what I envisioned, but honestly feel not worthy to enter up my entry next to the others.  There is a prize being offered, which would be great, but I had a lot of fun picking out colors and thinking about what I wanted to do regardless of any prizes.

I’m feeling a bit in the mood to work on one of my larger projects – maybe Alpine Seasons.  I saw it stitched up and framed at Celebration of Needlwork – it was gorgeous and sparkly with all of the beads and crystals added.  Very inspiring!

I went and saw “Hangover” last night and am still LMAO when I think of certain scenes.

Stash Enhancement, Movie, and Theater

So, I took a trip to House of Stitches today to pick up floss and flossaway bags for Chatelaine’s Alhambra Garden (pics courtesy of Annette’s blog).  I also saw LHN’s Traveling Stitcher and had to have that, then picked up a lovely piece of fabric for Alhambra.  I’ll post a pic of the floss toss when I’m ready to get started on that.

DBF was kind and granted my wish to see Twlight…  it was fluffy, but I liked it and surprisingly enough, DBF didn’t seem to mind too much.  I do have to say I’ve been to Forks, Washington and most of this movie was filmed in the Columbia River Gorge rather than the Olympic Peninsula.  I’ve hiked to the top of the gigantic waterfall shown in the movie.  Anyway, I’ve read the whole series of books, and while not really literature, I enjoyed the pure entertainment value of the books w/out having to think too hard about things like symbolism or deeper meaning.

We also had tickets tonight for the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Morris in South Bend…. not a bad show, but not life changing either. 

All in all, a good day!

Fun and Productive Weekend

A couple of weeks ago we got an invitation to attend an art opening in Chicago.  The artists were DBF’s sister and her boyfriend, so we decided to go.  Since the opening was on a Friday night, we planned a mini weekend getaway!

Friday after work, we drove into Chicago and checked into the Palmer House Hilton downtown… this is a VERY nice hotel which we got a steal on through priceline…  I was dazzled by the beautiful lobby:

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Wow… the room was really nice too.

We hopped on the El and went to the Morse Theater to catch a show by Duncan Sheik.  I expected an OK show by a guy who had a hit song in the early 90’s but was ultra impressed! Apparently he has been quite busy composing contemporary music for a couple of broadway shows, Spring Awakening and Whisper House… I was blown away. It was an incredible show and the Morse was a great venue.

Following the concert, we visited the gallery where DBF’s sister was exhibiting, The Fill in the Blank Gallery.  We visited his sister and her boyfriend, who was also exhibiting.

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The next morning, we took an architecure tour through the Chicago Architecure Foundation.  DBF’s brother is a docent with the CAF and was conducting a tour of the hotel we stayed at.  In addition to the amazing lobby, there are some amazing ballrooms too.  This is the third CAF tour I’ve attended in the last couple of years and always enjoy them…

Next, we visited the Art Institute.  There was an exhibit by Edvard Munch that DBF wanted to see.

Finally, we had an early dinner at a great vegetarian place called the Chicago Diner.  The food was good, but I’ve yet to find a place that rivals my all time favorite vegetarian restaurant – Mizuna in Spokane, Washington.

We got home last night and I had a busy day of finishing pinkeeps. As these are secret in nature, I can only show one…
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I’ll post the rest once the recipients receive their gifts!  Pinkeeps are my new favorite finishing technique… so easy!  So pretty!