Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Quilt for Nicholas

My sister Angela showing you the finished quilt
Look at that pretty blue ruffle, adorable animal and letter figures, and all the hand-quilting!






The flannel on the reverse side is very soft































































 My successes with this quilt:

The quality of the stitching is good, and there is a lot of it. I stitched around each animal/letter figure and then added stitching in between the figures.

I like the overall appearance, the fabrics are adorable, the flannel is soft and compliments the front and ruffle nicely, the contrast of the blue ruffle against the yellow fabric is one of my favorite things. 

Because it hand quilted I was able to use a high loft batting which makes the quilt very soft and cozy (the soft flannel on the reverse side helps with that too).









What I wish was different:

The fabric bunched up, perhaps because I used a hoop to do the hand-quilting. Some of the stitching seems to buckle up and come loose, maybe I need a longer tail when I begin and end stitching, and need to be sure to just use one thread for a given section.
 
You can see that the stitching went into the blue ruffle. Poor planning gave the perimeter of the quilt an unevenness and when I stitched the ruffle there were certain things that couldn't be avoided. The ruffle is also not 'perfectly' square on one corner, which perturbs me. Also, the stitching in between the alphabet letters and animals was an afterthought. I washed the finished quilt, ruffle sewn on and all, and discovered the batting was bunching up and the ruffle part inside the fabric as well. So I added all that quilting to keep that from happening any further. But was unable to get the ruffle to lay completely flat everywhere inside the fabric.



 And the thing that may bother me the most is that darned uneven seam where I sewed the ruffle to the quilt. You may think I didn't take it out to resew it, but the reason for the unevenness is the need to match where I sewed the seam on front and back and that is what was poorly planned and resulted in this seam like this (not the same size so the seam appears different on each side). I was going to sew a ribbon over it, but then I'd loose the contrast of the blue ruffle right next to the yellow fabric, and that was my favorite thing about the quilt. So I just decided to let it go.
 
 I also had planned first to do a box pleated ruffle, but there wasn't enough fabric for that (poor planning on my part), unless I could be content with a very narrow, box pleated ruffle, and I couldn't, nor even with a regular pleated ruffle like that. So I finally went with a flat ruffle (after spending forever trying to make the other two options work) to just finish and be done with the quilt. The irony is that my very first instinct/desire was to do prairie points for the border but I determined that would take too long. However, I discovered just how long I can spend on a ruffle. I could have done the prairie points to begin with. Oh well. Lesson learned!

Now I should say that I started this quilt six years ago for my nephew Eric. He's now in kindergarten and doesn't need this. Nor does his sister Rubie now in preschool. Nor their cousin Atreus, also in preschool. So this is for Nicholas. And he is growing so fast and is such a big kid that I wish he could have more time to enjoy it.

I'm taking a break from quilting baby blankets right now. But not a break from blankets! I am currently cross-stitching a Noah's ark afghan for my newest nephew Isaac. But I learned from Eric's now Nick's quilt. Isaac's afghan is HUGE and will serve even after he's in preschool or kindergarten, as far as size goes. I'll try to post pictures of my progress with that as I go along, and so you can see the size. It is truly enormous.

I do have fabric to hand-quilt another baby blanket similar to how I've done Nicholas' blanket. I also have a pieced top for a baby blanket that is all sewn together just needs batting and quilting. I also have fabric cut out to piece a couple more baby quilts. AND I've also got a monk's cloth afghan with swedish weaving, but I haven't worked on that in a while. I'll post pictures of all this sometime and update you on progress. Now you know the real reason I keep telling you all to have more kids.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Names - Billy

Billy the Kid
Names like Billy and Tommy and Jimmy seem to have fallen out of favor. But they used to be very popular. Sure they were usually nicknames, but they were so popular they began to be the child's full given name. My great-uncle was named Tommy Dick. Not Thomas Richard. In fact, the popularity of these names spread and girls were given these as their full names as well. Vernie and Jimmi and Billie could all have worked in Mel's Diner as waitresses with Alice.


Billy (and Bill, Willie, Will) comes from William
Bobby Brady
Bobby (Bob, Robbie, Rob, Bert, and Bertie) comes from Robert
Tommy (and Tom) comes from Thomas
Jimmy (and Jim, Jamie, Jem, Jack) comes from James
Vernie (or Vern) comes from Vernon
Dick (Dicky, Rick, Ricky, Rich, Richie) comes from Richard
Jack (or Jacky) - can come from various names, John, Jacob, James
Joey (or Joe or Josey or Joss or Jose) comes from Joseph
Mikey (Mike, Mickey, Mick) comes from Michael
Andy (or Drew) comes from Andrew
Johnny comes from John, but could come from Jonathan as well

Little Ricky
Johnny and Jimmy are great. I love that they are nicknames and we think of nicknames as shorter versions of a longer name, though the fact that they come from shorter names - John and James - shows that nicknames are not just shorter versions of a name. They are pet forms of a name, which means they are a name someone uses to indicate a close or casual relationship with you. They are a way of indicating that the person knows you well enough to call you something other than your formal name.

Jackie Cooper
To me these names suggest an innocent little boy. Well, not so innocent, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn innocent. They might be very mischievous, but they are still children, in the classic, Norman Rockwell vision of innocent childhood, rather than a more modern, inundated with adult innuendo and knowledge childhood.

I have to admit that I prefer the long forms of the name with the nicknames as possibilities, but not set in stone. I only like some. Joey and Johnny are very sweet.

Little Mikey
Any favorite nicknames? Any nicknames you think should come back in style? Stay out of style? Names you can't think of a nickname for? Do you have a nickname? Does it have a story? What do you think of naming a child Billy or Joey for a given name (and not just as the nickname)?

Monday, October 15, 2012

cross stitching again


Not a particularly clear image, but I wanted you to be able to see as much detail as possible. This is the Noah's Ark afghan I am cross stitching for my nephew Isaac. I started it a few months ago but haven't worked on it in a while because I was finishing a baby quilt for my other new nephew, Nicholas. But now I am back to cross stitching, which I love so much! I am excited to make progress on this.

But I thought it was amazing how many different options there are of Noah's Ark afghans you can make. Even just cross stitched ones. But here are a few I saw when looking for the above picture of the one I'm making that I thought would be cool to make.

I thought this was very cute

I know it's a pillow, but I thought it was cool
This was my favorite
How fun is this?
Ok, not Noah's Ark, but a cross stitched crocheted afghan that is very cool.



Friday, October 12, 2012

Name - Newton

Sir Isaac Newton



I thought I would post about the name Newton today. My nephew Isaac, who is almost 6 months old, has a very serious demeanor for his young age, and a rather intellectual look. Which made me think of Sir Isaac Newton. And the idea of using the name Newton for a first name. Because though Isaac may sound like an intelligent person, Newton sounds like a brainy one. Isaac seems like the name of someone who may be intelligent but is not solely defined by that whereas Newton seems like a name for someone wholly immersed in an intellectual world, where ideas are reality.


Newton's origin is simple. It's an English surname which comes from a place name meaning "new town". A possible nickname is Newt.

Now, Newt conveys something rather different from Newton. Newt makes me think of a little creature. Newts are small aquatic creatures, amphibians. A type of salamander. They are found in Europe, Asia, and North America. They metamorphose through 3 stages: aquatic larva, terrestrial juvenile (they are called an 'eft' at this stage), and adult. Adults look like a lizard, as you can see below. They can dwell in the water all the time or dwell on land and only return to the water to breed. The North American variety typically is water-dwelling while the European newt is land-dwelling. A very cool thing about newts is that they are able to regenerate limbs (which reminds me of the book The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle) as well as eyes, spinal cords, heart, intestines, and jaws. An interesting theory is that this regeneration can take place because the cells that do this are similar to tumor cells. Many adult newts produce a toxin in their skin, some strong enough to kill an adult human (if ingested, or if it comes into contact with mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. otherwise they can safely be your pet. be sure to wash your hands though, not only because of the toxins in their skin but the bacteria they carry, including salmonella). The coolest name for a type of newt I came across was crocodile newt and also the warty newt. Both are found in Asia.

I thought this was interesting. Even though Newt is a nickname for Newton, which means "new town", newt as a name for the salamander has a different origin. Remember that the juvenile newt is called an eft? Well, that's the original name of the newt, it changed along the way to euft, then to ewt. In English we use an instead of a before nouns beginning with a vowel, so an ewt = a newt.




And thinking of a little salamander creature called a newt made me think of witch's spells where they mix all sorts of creepy ingredients in their special brew in a big black cauldron, like 'eye of newt'. Apparently this comes from Shakespeare's play Macbeth, where the three Weird Sisters, 3 witches, mix a brew, and chant the following:

"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

Now, my instinct was to think that eye of newt was included because a newt has poisonous toxins in its skin, but remember, that's not the European varieties (though they would have other bacteria, and salmonella is quite deadly). However, eye of newt is apparently supposed to be a type of herb or plant, possibly the wild mustard seed.

It's also a little hard not to think of Newt, the little girl in Aliens found moving about rather quickly, like a tiny salamander, through the watery parts of the mining settlement. Ahem. If you haven't seen Aliens that thing behind Newt is the alien, not part of the little girl.



I'm not sure I can 100% recommend Newton as a name, but I don't discourage it either. Although it might be a name to be teased about, with it's nerd connection to the physicist and the American politician Newt Gingrich, it also has a cool factor, since it is a surname and that is a rather popular trend. It fits in with Colton or Easton or Ashton. And of those four names, Newton has more substance, I think, and a very cool nickname.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Honey crisp


These are the best apples! Not sure why I'm so late to discovering them. They are sweet and tart at the same time.

http://www.honeycrisp.org/index.htm

I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I think I should! Let me know if you do (or have) and how it turned out.

Do you grow honeycrips??

Honeycrisp Apple Bread

2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup sour milk (add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to fresh milk)
1 teaspoon soda
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups chopped Honeycrisp apples
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Mix together all ingredients. Divide batter between 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees (at times I have to bake the loaves for 10 or 15 minutes more until they feel set when tapped).  Note: Batter will be stiff.

And what could be more appropriate than Robert Frost's thoughts on Apple picking? He was alive when the variety was created in 1960, even if he never ate one and they did not inspire this poem. I wonder what varieties people harvested a hundred years ago?

After Apple-picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.




Monday, October 8, 2012

Upstairs Downstairs Disappointment

Have you watched the tv show Upstairs Downstairs? It's been on Masterpiece theater the past two Sundays. Last week I fell in love with it. Especially the matron of the family - Maude. Last night I watched the 3rd episode and what do you think? Maude entered in an urn. Yep, dead. It jumps forward a few years. I was disappointed with that, with Maude dead, my favorite character, no appearance from the maid lady who runs the household, another favorite character, Ivy is nowhere to be seen, the fun young maid. What??? At least Persephone does show up, but wait a minute, just long enough to kiss her brother in law. Now, I like a little naughtiness in a show. When she was using the chauffeur it was a mixed blessing, yes it was kind of fun and exciting to have that element, but rather sad to see how little she cared about the person. Now Hallam? I liked this guy in the first two episodes, he seems like the upstanding, noble British man. But now? Not happy. I did like the storyline with the butler. He's cool. Can't help but like him. I also thought it perfect that the young footman has not in a few years grown any additional brain cells. And I'm hoping life becomes very difficult for Persephone soon.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Names - Caitrin

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Caitrin is an Irish form of the name Katherine. It looks similar to another Irish variant of Katherine - Caitlin - but it is much less common. It is also similar to Katrina or Catrine. I love Katherine and most of her variants and nicknames. Lately Caitrin is my favorite, though I also like Caitria. I love the combination Caitrin Liessa  - Liessa is the name of a character in a medieval Spanish romance, but not a name commonly used in Spanish at all.

Katherine has Greek origins - Aikaterine. It is often associated with the word katharos meaning pure.

How many versions are there of the name Katherine? Not really sure, but I've found these:

Katrina (or Caitriona)
Aikaterine (from which it originates)
Ekaterina
Katerina
Katharina (pronounced like Katerina)
Katalin
Katarin
Katell
Katica
Katka
Kathrine
Katrine
Kaya
Karen
Kate
Katie
Kathy
Katelijne
Katelijn
Katinka
Katja
Caitlin
Kathleen
Cailey
Cailin
Kaye
Kayla
Karina
Catlyn
Kit
Kitty
Trina
Tina
Caja
Ina
Trine
Kadri
Kaisa
Riina
Triinu
Kata
Katri
Ketevan
Catrin
Katina
Kakalina
Kalena
Kateri

Katalinka
Kato
Cateline
Catalina
Kari
Katarzyna
Kasia
Yekaterina
Katenka

Kai

I've also come across the name Katiria in Spanish, which may be a form of Kateri, a form of Katherine, not sure on that though. In addition to Kathleen, there are the possible forms Kathlen and Kathlina, and in addition to Katharina pronounced like Katarina, it's also possible that an English speaker might say "kath ah ree nah", which would be an additional form of Katherine. Quite a few more spellings of the above names as well.

Any favorites of the name Katherine?

Quite a few famous Katherines also. Saint Catherine of Alexandria is one of the saints who spoke to Joan of Arc. Her martyrdom is rather famous, as she was tortured and then put on a spiked wheel to torture her but the wheel was miraculously broken in response to her prayer. She was then beheaded. Also a rather wonderful detail about her is that her body was taken to Mount Sinai and a monastery built there in the 6th century AD (about 1600 years ago). It is a famous pilgrimage site still and there are various Christian relics, artwork, and illuminated manuscripts there. I think if I ever go to that part of the world, this would be a site worth visiting. Saint Catherine was also known to be a scholar. She is one of the Virgin Martyrs. It is a bit creepy (to me anyway) that her fingers are supposed to be in Rouen. Seems like she should have been left all in one place. Her feast day is November 25th.




Thursday, October 4, 2012

What would you buy on eBay?

I love looking for things to buy on eBay (alas, lately my finances require me to buy NOTHING, no matter how inexpensive). But I'm a window shopper and eBay lets me do that when I have insomnia at 3 a.m. and what's more, I can look for things that are out of print or hard to find. I love that.

One of my passions is cross stitch and other needlework, especially books or patterns or magazines containing designs. But, I'm very stingy about what I will spend for it used on eBay. In my mind, a small pamphlet of patterns should be under a dollar, no more than $2, possibly $2.50 if I really love it or it's hard to find. Magazines no more than $2.50. Books I'd prefer to keep to $3.50 and under but I suppose a fantastic book could squeeze up to $5 from me.  Some people list the patterns and books for the price they were originally or even more than they were originally. That only works for me if it is a specific pattern I need and am looking for and it is exceptionally hard to find (so far this has not been the case, but I'm allowing a hypothetical here).

Here are two I would consider buying. The first is a kit, which is why I would spend that much for just one pattern, because it includes the fabric and threads. However, shipping changes it all, with shipping it's $5 so that would be a no!



The second is a blackwork kit, but the seller is in Great Britain so the shipping alone puts this out of the range I would pay for something. There are a lot of fabulous designs that you can only really get from out of the country so if I really really wanted it I would have to consider paying a high shipping fee, but the price as well, $49.99 is something I wouldn't pay. Now, that is actually rather reasonable for a good design like this, coming in a kit, I just would never pay that much. This is the sort of thing I'd consider paying $10-$15 for, if I were absolutely dying to have it, $20. But posting it on my blog is as close as I'm going to get for now!



So, what things have you found online that you would buy IF the price was right? (obviously if it is, you've already bought it, so the price must not be)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Names - Margaret

Saint Margaret and the Dragon

Since I am obsessed with names, I thought it would be fun to do a post on some I love. I've really been fascinated with all the Margaret names. Margaret comes from Greek and means 'pearl'. It comes from the Greek 'margaron' for 'pearl'.

Margaret
Margarita
Marguerite
Margot
Margery
Margareta
Margarette
Megan
Margriet
Margrieta
Marietta
Merete

A fun nickname for Margaret is Maisie. Other nicknames are Maggie, Margie or Marge, Madge, Midge, Mags, Meg, Peggy, Peg, Greta, Gretchen, Gretel, Grieta, Mamie, Metta, Mari, Mai or May, Daisy, and Rita.

There are of course many more versions of Margaret, more nicknames, and quite a few other spellings of all the above, but these are the ones I wanted to share with you. Lately my favorite has been Margot, but Marguerite is quickly rising in my esteem. I've also been enchanted with Margery a lot lately. Margaret feels a bit boring next to some of the variants and nicknames. But it is still a very classic name and has a certain respectability and old-fashioned beauty about it.

Suggested first name/middle name combinations for Margaret or her variants

Margaret Alice 
Margaret Sarah
Elisa Margaret
Fiona Margaret

Marguerite Ailsa
Ava Marguerite

Margot Esmeralda
Calantha Margot

Margery Winona
Margery Esther
Ella Margery