Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Lost Hat

Remember this hat?  I knit it in April - it was a one-size fits all kind of hat... see...

A nice, soft, warm hat that both my son and I liked to wear.  In cold weather it was easy enough to pull down over your ears.  My ears always get cold so I like a hat that I can pull down over them if I want.
Except - a couple of weeks ago - I lost it. 
Today, while we all were walking down the street a group of school children were walking the other way.  And in that crowd there was a little girl, about the size of my son.  And she was wearing... my hat!  I KNOW this was  my hat.  I mean really - a hand knit item is really one-of-a-kind and you just know your own hat when you see it.  The yarn was slightly varigated making it even more unique.  I am pretty sure I lost it at my son's school, and if so - it went into Lost and Found and someone found it - just not me.   It's OK.  She probably needed a hat and now she has one - a nice one too!  I can always knit another - a simple K2, P2 pattern - happy mindless knitting that works up quickly.
But really, in a city of almost 300,000 - what do you think the odds are that I actually saw my lost hat going in the other direction?  I was laughing about that.

Then later this afternoon Omi (DH's Mom) came to visit and she brought me something...

Can you guess?  ... her box of knitting needles, since she no longer knits.  The box says Stricknadeln and is full, full, full of needles.  Coincidence?

And - a photo of a few of my little Christmas tree collection (I have 11 altogether and each one is different).  I just love these sparkling little trees! 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Doll Quilt Fling

18.5" X 24.5"
I think the last time I made a doll quilt I was about 12 years old.  But, 2 days ago my son came home with a birthday party invitation for a little girl.  Hummm.  2 days to get a birthday gift.  Now mind you - to go to the store it is at least 1 1/2 hours round trip and bus fare.  You can only stay 1 hour at the shopping center or you have to pay the fare again.  And I hate crowded shopping centers anyway.  Nope, I decided to just  make a doll quilt.
Granted, I already had a great head start - here is a photo of a larger quilt that I WAS working on - just wedges at this point.  I am not sure why I just love small blocks on big quilts, but I do.  The more pieces in a block, the more I seem to like it.

I thought this was looking pretty good.  But you know - I don't have enough of the "right" fabric or batting on hand to finish it... so once these blocks were complete it would just be sitting for awhile anyway until I could make more that sort-ov match what I have already done.  Hummm.  Looks like I can divide this work in progress into 3 smaller doll quilts with a few pieces to spare.  And I actually have a long, narrow scrap of batting on hand that is the perfect size for 3 doll quilts.  And my son actually does need 3 doll quilts to give as gifts this month.

The blocks finish at 6" each.  And I made a great discovery about quilts this size - you don't need much yardage for a backing!  I think that this was a 1/2 yard cut that I never could figure out how to use in a quilt - makes a perfect doll quilt backing, don't you think?  What little girl isn't going to love butterflies and flowers on a light pink background?  There is still some left over for another project.  And I have a few other similar 1/2 yard cuts for the other 2 doll quilts.

My dear sweet son - goes to school the next day and asks the girl if she plays with dolls?  Does her doll want a quilt?  He comes home and announces that the girl would love a doll quilt, so this is "perfect".  Never mind the fact that the girl does not speak English very well and my son does not speak German - this is how my son interpretes their conversation!  A funny thing is that many parents have told me that their kids say that my son DOES speak German and then I tell them that my son says their kids DO speak English!  Eventually the language understanding will emerge, but the important thing is that the friendship blocks are already solidly in place!  They seem to be able to communicate the important things by pantomine.  The parents and teachers tell me that my son is well-liked among his new classmates and that makes me very happy for him! 
I  hand quilted it. I quilted around every other square and then every other square I quilted the light wedges.  I would have put more quilting in if I had the time (if for no other reason - because I enjoyed the process), but I think it still looks really, really  good! 

It was really so quick and easy - and very relaxing to just sit at night with needle, thread and thimble and stitch away.  Who knew?  Why in the world don't I make doll quilts?  I think that this little Doll Quilt Fling just might become a full blown Doll Quilt Love Affair! 

In anycase, 1 down, 2 to go.  My son was very happy to be carrying this little wrapped present when I dropped him off at the party awhile ago.  I think he is so brave, so many big changes for him lately.  I really hope that he has fun. 

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Here in Austria it is St. Nicholas Day.  He arrived in the downtown square on a horse drawn wagon and handed out candies to all the kids.  I noticed that the sleeves on his shirt look like hand-crochet trim...

See the Christkindle Market behind him?  We steered clear of there because the crush of people is unbelievable on a weekend night.  Interestingly enough, Austria shops stand firm on being closed on Sundays so all of the shops were closed today - just the Christkindle Market was open - and still downtown was packed!
In years past, St. Nicholas has been accompanied with his side-kick Krampus - he looks like a demon.  I don't know why he wasn't there this year.  Usually the kids get matching chocolates of St. Nicholas AND Krampus because they are a pair.  Also - the bakeries make special breads to look like Krampus.

There is also a little "train" that goes through town.  It is about a 15 minute ride and cost 1 Euro.  A great way to see some of the decorations and shop windows!  The line is brutal though - you have never seen people push and shove so much - it was as hard to get OUT as it was to get in the train.  The earlier you are the better off you are.  We were fairly early - it gets worse as the night goes on.

My son was thrilled to see this amthyst - it is the largest one discovered and is over 2 million years old.  It was found in 1980 between Brazil and Hondurus.

And when we got home - look, St. Nicholas had paid our home a visit as well.  He brought the traditional gifts of oranges, dates, peanuts and chocolates and candies.  Yum.  There might even be a few coins in the bottom of that dish somewhere...  in anycase, my son was sooo excited to see this sitting out when we came home.  I just looked at the photo and realized that it doesn't look like alot of clementines, but there is an entire bag in that bowl!  Funny.

All in all, a fun time.  We were only gone for 2 1/2 hours, but outside in the cold - that was plenty! 

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A High Fever

This week has been as busy as ever with me once again going back and forth to the hospital, this time with my son.  He had a fever which was nothing for too much concern - just needed to be watched and I was giving him Motrin for it.  He actually was scheduled to go to the doctor that afternoon - the fever had come on during the night and I called for an appointment that morning.  And then it spiked up to 40.5 (104.9) and he had a small convulsion and trouble breathing.  Straight to the hospital, I tell you!  Of course, I was home alone when this all happened (DH was at his own DR's appt) so getting him to the hospital was a bit of an adventure with my limited German speaking skills, but get there we did.  A series of blood tests ruled out any virus or flu, no infections either.  Just a high fever. 
The children's rooms are bigger than the adult rooms.  My DH's room had 3 beds to a room, all very close together.  The kids have 4 beds to a room, but with space in between the beds for the "Momma beds".  So, I was able to spend the night.  Not that I slept well, but I was thankful for the Momma bed - much better than sitting up in a chair all night because believe me - I would not have left him there all by himself.  At least I was able to stretch out and doze.  They kept the fever in check, but it went very high again during the night.  But by the next afternoon he was ready to go home  - the picture is of him waiting for the doctor to come make the afternoon rounds to approve a discharge.  He had to go back the next day for a brain wave scan, but I am not too worried about that - eventually they will call me with the results, I am sure.  So all ended well, phew!
Just a note here for those of you with small kids that run fevers... the doctors told me NOT to put him in a lukewarm bath to bring down the fever - this is too much of a shock on the circulation system going from so hot to a lukewarm bath.  I never liked that idea anyway - no kid with a fever wants to get in the bath, but I know some people think it is a good idea.  My Mom always put wet, cool faceclothes on us - and this is what the doctors recommend at the hospital too for high fevers.  And don't overdress them or put too many covers on them - just 1 lightweight blanket.  This is hard because of course they feel really cold and cry for more blankets, but it is for the best.
I still did get a bit of sewing in this week... a little here and there does add up.  I am making progress on my Maple Leaf Logs.

I actually made good use of those little leaf/log blocks I drew earlier - made keeping track of which way I wanted to sew the logs on easier.  And this is what it is looking like so far... the bottom row I need to seam rip the 1st logs off at least 1, maybe 2 of those blocks - I got them mixed up a bit, but on the 1st strip so it isn't a big deal.

This afternoon I am just catching my breath.  We had a lovely afternoon family tea time with a sweet treat!  Everyone in my household is healthy and that is cause for peace of mind.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Maple Leaf Quilt Blocks

I sewed these 9" blocks together over the week.  Quick and easy - I love making blocks!  I had cut the fabrics back when I was in Canada and had access to my fabric stash, so everything was cut and ready to sew.  I just love making my own "quilt kits!".  Sewing the blocks is the easy thing - the hard thing is deciding upon a setting... at least for me. 
My computer with EQ is in Canada.  Soooo - that means I have to do the design options the old-fashioned way if I want to experiment with layout before actually sewing...
I want my Maple Leafs inside of a Log Cabin.  I love log cabins!  And the log-cabin pattern works perfectly with all the pre-cut strips I brought with me.  It is really easy to pencil in a 9 patch Maple Leaf - I just used a 3" grid.  1" for the 3 log cabin strips - so to scale that will make a 12" block.  My little paper blocks are 4".  While my son does homework - I color!

But then I thought maybe I want to turn the logs this way and that...  so I cut everything apart and played some more...

Finally I think I have a design that I like...  in order to keep track of which side to sew the logs on - because it varies by block - I draw myself a very small scale drawing.  Now, DH has no idea how I can tell what is what on my drawing - he is wondering if I could make it any smaller?  But I know what this all means - so I pay him no mind.
In the end I change my mind again - and now I have this small quilt drawing that I won't be using.The leaves and logs will be put away for another day.

My son thinks that he has found the PERFECT use for that itty, bitty scrap of paper.  His Lego man now has a quilt.  Don't you love it?!

While I really do like the above design - I am going to save it for when I can expand it into a bigger sized quilt - add a top and bottom row of blocks and maybe even seperate some of the units with Flying Geese. 
For this set of blocks, I first rotated the paper logs around in design I liked (just a simple Greek border - why reinvent the wheel?) and then plopped the Maple Leaf blocks down into the centers.  My leaves will be willy-nilly - like they are blowing in the wind.
With the issue resolved, now I can get back to sewing!  Don't you love traditional blocks and all the designs you can come up with using them?!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Waiting Is Over

Right after my son & I arrived in Europe my DH became very ill.  After 1 week in the hospital he had surgery to remove a 6.6 pound (3 kilogram) tumor.  This surgery was followed a few days later by another surgery - a liver biopsy.  He spent another week in the hospital and has now been home just over a week.  This photo is of a church you can see from the hospital.
You can imagine - I just arrived into a country where I don't speak the language (although most his doctors and many nurses do speak English, phew!), was getting my son settled into his new school AND making the trip to the hospital 2X a day to see my husband.  1 longer visit by myself while my son was in school and then a shorter one after school so he could see his Pappa.  Plus the whole stress of my DH being sick.  And grocery shopping - sometimes I meant to buy 1 thing and would buy the wrong item - oops!  So some meals were a challenge.  Walk, walk, walk everywhere.  Just to get my son to school is a 20 minute walk.  There was homework to complete that I didn't even understand for myself, food to cook, laundry to do (and my downstairs neighbor does not like me to do laundry at night because it makes too much noise?!).  And my poor lonely, scared DH who was extremely uncomftable.  He needed lots of company.  Fortunately his family is close by and we came up with a plan to alternate visits so he did have lots of company.  My son and I spent weekends at my DH's sister's house.  The company was good for me too!
The hospital is at the end of a tram line.  We like trams!  Here you can see the tram coming down the road - the red lane is for bikes and the sidewalk for people is to the right.  Most bike lanes are not painted red, but this one is because it is easy to confuse the bike/walking area.

Friday we finally got the test results.  Yes, my husband's tumor was cancer.  BUT, the doctors feel like they got it all out - such a strange, all enclosed tumor.  And unbelievably big.  No wonder he was so tired all summer.  The tumor was smooshing a kidney (which they thought they would remove, but then did not!) and crushing a main artery.  Right after surgery my DH went from white to pink - so immediately we could see results!  The recovery from this surgery is coming along slowly, but it is so much nicer to have him home instead of at the hospital!  The tumor originated in the fat cells and was not attached to any organ.  The liver biopsy came back clear.  Bone scans are clear.  Blood work is clear. 
It has been a long 3 weeks, but now with good news in hand and a recovering DH, I can get around to the business of unpacking and settling in.  I have now unearthed my sewing machine from down in the basement storage area and looking through projects that I left behind... 3 years ago.  Look at this - an almost completed quilt top - I used the "rejected" blocks to make a different quilt, which is in my sidebar photos.  I guess I am making this in reverse order.  I just know that a little bit of sewing therapy will do me worlds of good right about now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bright Honeycomb Mittens

I like to dress my son in bright colors.  And orange is one of his favorite colors, so that works out just fine for the both of us.  Before we left Canada he picked out this bright orange wool (Briggs Little)  for his honeycomb mittens.  They are all done now - I just have to wash them in hot soapy water to shrink them a bit - I knit them a little big on purpose so I could shrink them.  I especially like him to wear orange because generally - every other week seems to be a hunting season of some sort or another in the fall. 

Here he is with another family dog!  This one is Burro and belongs to my husband's sister.  As you can see - I really make sure that no hunter is going to accidentally think my son is a deer!
Obviously, I don't really have to worry about that right now since we now live in the city.  None-the-less, he has orange mittens for the winter.  Nice, warm, wool mittens!

I am just trying to figure out why everyone in the city wears dark colors.  Maybe  is because they don't pay attention to hunting season, do you think?
*You can find a honeycomb mitten pattern in the book Homespun/Handknit - Caps, Socks, Mittens & Gloves.  My version is slightly different but that is the fun part about knitting - you can change patterns around to suit your own needs.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Destination

All that family visiting was leading up to... my final destination.  Here I am - back at the Munich train station.  How not to travel in Europe by train... with lots of luggage.

There is my tired boy - in the past 24 hours I think he slept 2 hours.  About that luggage - in my defense, we had to pack our winter coats, his rubber and snow boots and rain gear, favorite blanket, etc.  My clothes I kept to a minimum, but I had to pack a functioning office for the winter.  I tend to prefer smaller suitcases/bags so I can actually lift them up.  So - we have 2 suitcases each, his little carry-on, my carry on and laptop bag.  But when you are all by yourself - this is alot of luggage to manage.  Fortunately, DH met us in Munich and helped.  Because look...

All your luggage has to go way UP over your head on the train.  That's why I like smaller bags!  In Europe when you buy a train ticket they usually don't tell you - but for another $3 per person you can RESERVE a seat.  This tells you what coach and what seat is reserved just for you.  The reservation is well worth it... because the trains can be full and finding seating together for 3 people and luggage would have been impossible.  Plus - with a reservation you just stand there and watch the coach numbers carefully and then you can jog down the track with all your bags and get on the correct coach.  Sure beats hauling your bags, single file, through train coach after train coach looking for seats.  We had reservations, but there were already people in our seats and they did not want to move.  Geez!  Our seats were clearly marked "reserved".  So - the conductor had to oust the squatters and we got our reserved seats.  This particular train had 6 seats to a cabin and each cabin has its own temperature control.  Really comfy!  But take a tip from me - if you go to Europe and plan to travel by train - do yourself and favor and get a really good hiker's backpack and make everything fit in there and then make sure you can lift it up over your head.
We changed trains here - I think at this point in time we were in Austria.

I love that the farmer's fields are full of these old fashioned hay huts, which are still heavily used despite new, modern hay-wrapping techniques.

And, finally, somewhere along the way - a little, tired, someone got some sleep.  Our flight left Boston at 9 pm and they did not serve dinner until 1 am and then they still kept the lights on.  Finally 3 hours before we landed they did turn off the lights, but 2 hours later they turned them back on for breakfast. 
Fortunately, we got to Boston in PLENTY of time - well ahead of the internation flight check-ins so we had no line at check-in and just a small line at security.  Because we were so early we were able to "enjoy" an airport meal while waiting for our plane, which is a good thing because my son would have never lasted until 1 am for meal!  We went that early because we were taking the bus and the bus schedule is such that I didn't want to take any chances.  Good thing too - because our bus broke down along the way and we had to go to the bus garage and get a new bus, which then needed the tires pumped up.  But, I didn't have to get all stressed out like some of the other passengers because we went on such an early bus.  Phew! 

After a bit, I laid him down in my lap and he never even stirred.  I am so lucky that he is such a good traveler.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On The Mountain Top!

A quick weekend trip to my sister's in NH - and we hiked Mt. Kearsarge (3268 feet).  We did it the easy way - drove way up and then went up a 1/2 mile trail to the summit.  My son was soooo excited to reach the peak and had a wonderful time.  Truly, a fantastic 1st mountain summit experience for a 6 year old.  Here he is with an older cousin enjoying the view.  His cousin has a firm hold on him because he didn't want him to fall, so cute!
There was a lot of rain recently and the trail up was like walking across stepping stones in a brook.  The sun was shining and the water was all sparkle-y. 

New Hampshire isn't called the Granite State for nothing.  The entire top of the mountain is granite.  Here is my son - making great progress just like a little moutain goat.  Mountain climbing is in his blood - his grandfather (my DH's Dad) loved climbing mountains.  He died many years ago in Nepal - he got strep throat on a climb and by the time they reached Katmandu it had gone to his kidneys and he died.

We dressed in layers.  Started in jackets and peeled them off as we went along.  As soon as we reached the top - on went all the winter jackets/hats/mittens.  It was really cold and windy up there!  The boys had fun squishing down behind various rocks looking for the perfect wind-break.  It was a good lesson because I explained that even in the summer time you shouldn't climb a mountain without warm clothes in your pack, no matter how warm it is when you start out.

Down at the parking area there are picnic tables.  Isn't this a lovely picnic spot?  We ate our lunch at the summit though.

This is a photo of my sister's back yard.
New Hampshire sure is beautiful!

Monday, November 02, 2009

A short visit

My son and I have been on the road again.  I just love driving straight through Boston!  Drive, drive, drive.  But the visit was worth it!  Headed to see the family!

You might be able to just make out the large square building in the far right of this photo - that is the hospital my son was born in.  You aren't a Cape Codder unless you are born on the Cape.  In the 1920's when my Dad was born, this was a very big deal.  Grandpa got a teaching job off-Cape and Dad was due in September,  What to do?  Nana said she wasn't going to have a "wash-ashore" (someone born off-Cape but who lives on the Cape) and refused to leave Cape Cod soil - never mind the fact that she was by herself, the hospital was 45 miles away on a dirt road and she had to go crank up the car when she went into labor... my Dad is a Cape Codder.
We did try to stay with Dad, but he smokes cigars in the house and my son has allergies.  We manage in the summer with the windows/doors wide open, but in cold weather - it didn't work.  So after 2 days we were rescued and moved to a house with this view... ahhh.  And we had a wonderful visit with the occupants of that house too!

One day we went to a shellfish festival and boy, did they ever have shellfish! 

They had a kid's area with a boat filled with things from the local seas. 

And, I saw something I never saw before... a BROWN preying mantis on the beach - I never knew that they turned the color of sand!  I've only seen green ones before.  Who knew?

Of course, we saw my big family and my son got to play with lots of cousins.  Good times.  I'll leave you with a photo of yet another family Dog - this one is Willie.  He is really sweet, but a big goof-ball.  If you read the book Marley - he is like that.  Seriously.  But how could you not love a face like this?  He is now the proud Grand-pappy of 11 squiggling, grunting puppies.  Precious!