Monday, June 30, 2014

Riots of color

I went to Hampton Court Palace today. The gardens were gorgeous and a riot of color. And smell.  And back in the day, the king had a padded "stool"...I got some knitting done on the train out there.

I'm very excited because I got to talk with an instructor at the Royal School of Needlework.  I think I'm going to apply for their certificate program.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Special exhibits

One of the best things about London is that many of the museums are free.  They'll have a few paid-for special exhibits but the rest is for you to wander around I for as long as you like.  I like this because, honestly, museums are exhausting.  That slow walk through crowds, peering, preening, and reading.    So, if you want to go see one specific thing, you can just walk into any museum, go to that thing, and leave. One hour and nothing wasted.

Unfortunately, those special exhibits never (as in ever) allow you to take, unfortunately all the wonderful wedding dresses and haute Italian couture I saw today will live forever in my brain but not my camera.

I walked back to my hotel from the Victoria & Albert...probably 2 miles.  Through some beautiful neighborhoods.  Those are the pics I'm sharing today.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A palace, a chicken, some amazing art, and fun dinner

That about sums up the day. I do want to go on record that taking a couple of hours to stroll the National Gallery was like taking a smash course in art history. All the biggies.  Well worth the time, and I just wish I had more and the museum to myself. Unfortunately we couldn't take pics in that museum, but the rest of the day was just lovely. (The queen says howdy!)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A tale of two Tates

We have gone to the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern in the past two days. We couldbt take pics in the special exhibits of either:  British folk art and Matisse.  Both of the special exhibits were hugely inspirational to me...I even felt moved to the point of tears with the folk art. I'll share a few pics here from each...but know that between David and me we probably took 400 photos...and that's not counting the ones we didn't get to take because they weren't allowed...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Where even the floors are pretty!

Today we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum and looked at the exhibits on the first floor. I will be going back on Sunday to view the wedding dresses and the history of Italian fashion exhibits...

There are 6 floors to this museum, btw.  It's massive and wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed the cast room and was very inspired by the South Asia art (mostly Indian).

We rested and then went to dinner at the wine bar restaurant down the street. We played our annual monopoly game (London Underground version)...I lost...that never happens.  No jewelry this year as David feels it's more fitting to buy me a smaller when I get home, I'm ordering some 24" loom! which is super exciting.

There were so many pics to share from today.  I'm holding back and showing you just a couple. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Queen's Bling

Today we saw the Tower of London and went to see the Crown Jewels while we were in there. It was a great day with loads if tiny steep stairs and now I'm wiped out!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Services and Inspiration

Today we went to the midday services at St. Paul's Cathedral. It was an amazing experience sitting under the dome listening to mass. I'm so glad we did it. 

Then we had lunch and went to the British Museum to see the eclectic collection there. We were really hoping to see the Bkiking Exhibit but tickets were sold out until 8pm and we had evening plans. We saw lots of pretty amazing stuff anyway.  I'm definitely planning to use the art, flowers, and architecture as inspiration for my first you'll be seeing more of these (and things like them) in the near future!

We capped off the day with dinner at a high school friend's house. What a nice thing to know someone living in the city you're visiting...and how awesome to catch up again after all this time!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice

I hope you had a great Summer Solstice. We did here in London: Kew Gardens, amazing dinner and The London Eye.  If I make myself stay up until dinner on Day 1, I'm good to goon day 2!

And btw, best strawberries ever!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The weather is beautiful! Wish you were here!

We left the 90s and arrived to the 60s. It was a bit of a shock but we managed to have a great day anyway.  here we are on the plane right before landing.
And here we are after arriving at the hotel:
We decided a stroll to and through Hyde Park would help with jet lag and I'm happy to report that it did..
Just look at that inspiration!

And finally we ate dinner at the Ebury Wine Bar.  Yum...missed having the girls with us as this is what we did on our first day in London with them last year.

For the record, I'm currently running on about 5 hours of sleep since Wednesday and the big crash is imminent.  Can't wait until tomorrow to show you what trouble we get into!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Flight companions

And I'm actually worried about running out of knitting and crocheting...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I'm on a jet plane tomorrow, but promise some picture postcard posts while I'm gone.

2 weeks of vacation...and then home to figure myself out!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

London Calling!

So, back in December 2012, I got on an airplane and flew to London and stayed a week.  We were going essentially to celebrate Alyssa's graduation from college, but we also celebrated our birthdays, Christmas and mine and David's anniversary while we were there (for the record, my birthday is around Thanksgiving and the girls are right after the new year...and everything else is sandwiched in between).

What an awesome trip that was.  Here's a picture to prove that we went and loved each other and had a good time.

It was cold when we went and dark.  We were there during the Winter Solstice that year and sunset was right about 4pm.  While I've experienced colder, and damper, we didn't spend lots of time doing things outside.

Oh, and I was 90 pounds heavier and David was 140 pounds heavier.  I haven't been on a plane since that trip and David assures me it's going to be a shocker.  I'm SO excited to be shocked...Because you know what?


This time we are celebrating 25 years since David and I decided to be a couple "forever and ever" (on July 4, 1989).

And you know what?  I'm so very very tired right now I'm having the hardest time getting myself geared up and excited about this trip.  I've made an itinerary (which I never do) to see if we can work in most of the things we want to do...I've been checking the weather every day (60s and sunny predicted for our first 5 days there!)...

...but mostly I've just been getting through the day I'm in (and to demonstrate just how much I'm just getting through the day I'm in, I haven't even THOUGHT ABOUT the knitting/crochet I'm taking on this trip.  NOT EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT IT!....And I'm having trouble mustering up the usual panic that that would elicit...)

I'm so ready to get on the plane, go on vacation, and leave this job and my other worries and cares behind and simply enjoy being in the company of the man that 25 years ago I was impressed enough with to want to spend the rest of my life with him...

And...this year we're going to be there over the Summer Solstice...sunset around 9:45pm...

What an awesome way to usher in the new life I'm setting up for myself.  I'm staying an extra 5 days than originally intended. David will be working with his students (research project for graduate students in his department) and I will be going to see and do something textile-y type things that I know he isn't much interested in.


Daddy's Story:  Once when we were talking with my daddy about a vacation we wanted to go on, he said, "I don't know why you want to travel so much.  Aren't you happy with where you live?"  And when I told him I was, he said, "I just don't see any point in leaving home if you like it there."

That he was a homebody and only went on a couple of vacations in my memory of him shows me that he was indeed a very happy man with where he lived.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Crazy Pants

I think I may be going a little Crazy Pants these days...I mean...I did quit my job to be a textile artist and I have no idea how one goes about doing that...

I know I have a plan of figuring out how one goes about doing that after I get back from London...


I only have 2.5 more days of working a "real" job and then...


My emotions in thinking about it are so excited and scared at the same time I'm hardly able to think about it.


Must get the "real" work done so that when I do walk away I get to walk away and feel good about how I left things!


Today's picture is of Alyssa's rug I'm working on.  I made a granny square for the middle, triangle borders to turn it on point, then put on an outside border in that light green.  Next is a final little trim border in the medium green.  Can't wait to see it finished. (but that'll be after I get back from London, I'm sure!)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Y'all...I'm singing...

I can tell I'm getting happier and less stressed by the day.  Today on the way to work, I cranked up the radio and sang one point I stopped and said, "when was the last time you did that?"

And I don't know.

Clearly things here had gotten to me deeper than I realized.  Just as I wrote about yesterday, it's the little things that make you realize just where you are and what you're doing...that whole gaining perspective thing that's so difficult when you're bogged down in the middle and don't know where the end is anymore.

Things for me had gotten to the point that I didn't have enough time between work days to destress and put it aside and enjoy myself.

I didn't sing. or play piano.  or laugh nearly enough.


One of the things I'm definitely looking forward to about my working from home will be this...sweet kitty time!


Daddy's story:  As I mentioned he really loved the weather and would pay attention and store away weather conditions for people wherever they lived.  He'd look up the weather in Austin, Houston, and even where I lived.  If you went on vacation, he'd hunt up weather information on your vacation destination as well.  How I would love to tell him that the past few weeks in London has been in the mid-70s for highs and sunny...he'd be so jealous he might even consider getting on the plane with us...but nah...he wouldn't do that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's the little things

People always say it's the little things that count, and I find that to be a fascinating concept...especially to someone who crafts.  It is the little things we do that add up--one stitch at a time, one little speck of yarn or strip of fabric, one minute we spend adds up to many minutes...and all those little things become glorious works of art that we can either enjoy or look at.

In a building sense, little things become big things.  Bricks for instance, look tiny next to a 2 story house, but that house is built out of bricks.

Life, too, is built up of little things.  Moments we share with people we love.  Imprinted memories we have.  Those special connections we make that sometimes seem incomprehensible...sometimes we don't even know that it's going to be the "thing" that sticks out for us.

In my mind's eye right now I'm trying to look at the positive things about my work and my choice to be brave and do the artist thing (that's what everyone is telling me, that I'm being brave...and considering how terrified I am, I'm getting it...being brave is really scary stuff!)...


...and this is where it gets tricky because I don't want to be negative on my blog ever, but man...there have been a lot of little things here that have piled up to make me into one miserable person.  It was a major component of my decision to do the artist thing...(though really I don't think I had much choice in the was becoming increasingly evident to me what my path was: I just had to step on it).

I'm finding when I go home at night this week that I'm more excited about things that I've always been excited about until recently.  I want to read books. I want to play with the cats.  I want to stay up all night and create and play.  I'm cracking jokes, being silly, and encouraging people around me to play.  I even had a full conversation with myself yesterday morning.

I'm such a huge believer in play and how it helps us be more creative and energetic.  I totally think we need recess at work and exercises or games or something fun to do to distract our minds from the toil that it gets into.

...and I've been in the wrong environment.  Play is not appreciated nor respected in my office and I have become more and more unhappy as I've had to shut out that instinct in me to ENJOY myself in the things that I do--and to relax with a little silliness before getting back to the seriousness.


In discussing all my professional life with David recently he's said over and over again that I'm really just not the personality that fits in well with an office environment where I'm expected to do the same thing everyday.

And I get it and I can't wait until I get into my studio environment and can play.


I'm going to color by the way.  Make pictures with pencils and markers.  I'm excited.


I started to crochet a shawl from lace weight yarn.  I thought it would be nice to take to London next week.  It might--it's tiny and will hardly take any room in the suitcase--but it's definitely NOT something to do on the plan, so now I have to figure that out.  I'm thinking it'll probably be socks, but we shall see.

Here is the's pretty...and it took me a few tries to get it right, but now it's easy peasy.  But I do want to say that doing 386 single crochet foundation chains is time consuming...


Daddy's story:  Everyday when my dad got home from work he would go out and feed the cows.  I got to go with him when I was younger and it was always fun throwing the hay around for the cows to eat.  He would let me ride in the trailer sometimes and I think he hit every hole in the ground on purpose to hear me holler...he liked hearing us holler!

Monday, June 9, 2014

A platform 3 miles high...

...that's what I just stepped off of, or at least it feels like it.  I sure hope I can fly because if not...oh dear.

Anyway, I resigned from my professional position today because I want to work in the textile industry and make a go of being an artist.  It scares me to death but has become increasingly evident that I'm only going to be happy if I take this path and make the most of it.

Wish me luck!

Today's picture is of an eye glasses case I made this weekend.  It needed to be just a tad longer, but it'll do.  I'll probably be writing up the pattern soon after I make another couple and get things "perfected."  But what a great way to protect your glasses AND show off a cute button.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The past few days

Things have been a whirlwind this week.  My uncle passed away on Friday morning so we drove out to Texas for his Celebration of Life service.  It's been hard dealing with this death only 6 weeks after my father's.  I found today on my drive in to work that I'm rather emotional about everything.  It's going to be a difficult couple of months as I process all of this.  I certainly hope that nothing else happens because honestly I think I'm completely wrung out.

What did I do, you may ask, over these few days...well, lots actually.

I finished the basket and gave it to mom.  Pattern is here.

I also decided that it was time to finish Elizabeth's bath mat.

(this design is all my own, yarn is Lily's Sugar and Cream).

Then for the road, I knew I wanted something cheerful so I picked out this rainbow self-striping yarn from Twisted Fiber Arts.  Oh's got cashmere in it and may be the softest sock yarn I've used.  LOVE.  Pattern is my favorite, Hermione's Everyday Socks.

(Don't you love the "rainbow" in front of the storm clouds?  We saw several rainbows on our drive out Monday morning...and not just on my knitting needles!)

And finally...yesterday when I was recuperating from 20 hours in the car in 2 days, I started putting some of my crochet squares together.  It was such fun and I was just cruising along and having a great time of it when I realized that I was really tired and should bathe and go to bed.  Really not fair how this sleep thing gets in the way.  I'm using a book of "99 Granny Squares" and my random mini skeins as well as the "magic ball" I'm making from my sock yarn scraps.  My blocks are all piled up and I'm picking out random squares to put together based on a random number generator.  I started with the horizontal bright yellow one in the bottom(ish) center and putting it together log-cabin style.  I have to add rows and borders and such to get everything to join up at the same size, but it's cool...more fun taking some of those Granny ideas and making them rows instead of rounds...interesting thought experiment.  I'm joining with a reddish brown Malabrigo Sock yarn which is divine.  It's SO fun putting these together and I love how it's turning out.   I gotta get to crocheting more squares...this afghan wants to be a big one, I think.

I'll have more daddy stories next week.  Right this very minute I have to report for academic advising (I'm the advisor, though I really wonder about the logic of that! ha!)