Saturday, December 31, 2016
Friday, December 30, 2016
A year in stitches--Take a blank canvas, each day add at least one stitch to that canvas. This is
a great way to practice all those techniques you want to learn or already know. It is also a diary of
each day's progress in your thread world.
Michelle Anas Beauliew Morgan created a colorful canvas stitching each day in 2016. Check out Facebook, Pinterest, and blogs to find tutorials on special stitches.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
It's always a grand time when friends can gather to share fellowship.
Rosemary was our hostess for this day--we enjoy seeing her Christmas tree,
which is loaded (over 200 handmade ornaments!). We can spend hours
looking and admiring these ornaments gathered over the years.
Most are handwoven, felted
Some arrive from foreign countries or visitors to
All of her ornaments are small and Rosemary says she 'talks' to each one
as she places them on the tree--she shares memories of each
This was the day we exchanged handmade gifts, either made by yourself
or someone else. This was felted fingerless mitts made by Olga--
we all loved them!!
Olga is a super felt maker! She made these wonderful bracelets
Dottie was wearing her little snowman pin, handwoven and stitched.
A knitted cowl was given from Penny's hands to Olga--
perfect match her lovely bracelets.
Marion received this super cotton scarf woven by Pat
My gift was one of Rosemary's handwoven cards and one of her
little woven angels--wings are lace from her wedding dress of
50 years ago--what a privilege to receive this sweet angel
with such memories
Ann received two indigo dyed towels, shibori stitched
Connie stitched the stars and moon and hand dyed with indigo
Penny received this wonderful thread angel.
Perfect day with friends!
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Yep! It's a good way to end my year--just ordered a new magazine subscription
that is loaded with more UFOs for me to add to my stash!
I'm so excited to see another publication on wool art applique, hooking, etc.
First issue released January, 2017
Check it out.
I already 'love' Primitive Quilts--have done some projects from past issues!
And now I'll have more!
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Whew! Finished before 2016 ended--actually, I wanted to give this as a gift to blond headed daughter--after all I had only been knitting on it the whole of 2016.
Each month you had a different lace pattern to knit--to me, this is the
best way to accomplish a goal--even if it is a year long project.
I had this handspun merino/silk yarn--so glad I have handspun for this project.
I wasn't really sure I would like this yarn for the scarf, but it turned out okay!
I love knitting LACE! Never thought I would--when I took a workshop with THE
Lace Knitting Gal from New Zealand--I was just dumb stuck while in the class!
Now, It finally clicked--don't laugh--that was 20 years ago!
I know! it took me that long to get my brain to accept lace knitting! But,
it's so worth it--
I'm preparing to knit in 2017 with Elizabeth Ravenwood in her 2017 Estonian Lace Knitting project.You can find her and this project along with another year long learning adventure on Ravelry.
Monday, December 26, 2016
Take your preference--celebrate Boxing Day or St. Stephens Day......here is why
Boxing Day takes place on December 26th and is only celebrated in a few countries; mainly ones historically connected to the UK (such as Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand) and in many European countries. In Germany it is known as "Zweite Feiertag” (which means 'second celebration') and also “Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag” which translates as Boxing Day (although it doesn’t literally mean that)!
It was started in the UK about 800 years ago, during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, collection boxes for the poor often kept in churches, were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people. Some churches still open these boxes on Boxing Day.
It might have been the Romans that first brought this type of collecting box to the UK, but they used them to collect money for the betting games which they played during their winter celebrations!
In Holland, some collection boxes were made out of a rough pottery called 'earthenware' and were shaped like pigs. Perhaps this is where we get the term 'Piggy Bank'!
The Christmas Carol, Good King Wenceslas, is set on Boxing Day and is about a King in the Middle Ages who brings food to a poor family.
It was also traditional that servants got the day off to celebrate Christmas with their families on Boxing Day. Before World War II, it was common for working people (such as milkmen and butchers) to travel round their delivery places and collect their Christmas box or tip. This tradition has now mostly stopped and any Christmas tips, given to people such as postal workers and newspaper delivery children, are not normally given or collected on Boxing Day.
Boxing Day has now become another public holiday in countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is also the traditional day that Pantomimes started to play.
There are also often sports played on Boxing Day in the UK, especially horse racing and football matches! It's also when shops traditionally had big sales after Christmas in the UK (like Black Friday in the USA).
The 26th December is also St. Stephen's Day. Just to confuse things, there are two St. Stephens in history! The first St. Stephen was a very early follower of Jesus and was the first Christian Martyr (a person who dies for their religious beliefs). He was stoned to death by Jews who didn't believe in Jesus.
The second St. Stephen was a Missionary, in Sweden, in the 800s. He loved all animals but particularly horses (perhaps why there is traditionally horse racing on boxing day). He was also a martyr and was killed by pagans in Sweden. In Germany there was a tradition that horses would be ridden around the inside of the church during the St. Stephen's Day service!
St. Stephen's Day (or 'the feast of Stephen') is when the Carol 'Good King Wenceslas' is set. It's about helping the poor - so it has a strong connection to Boxing Day.
Sunday, December 25, 2016
So, why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?
One of the most fascinating Christmas events that we attended was
the Planetarium, where we learned that Jesus was most likely born in the
Spring, not December.
Does it really matter what date Christ was born ? We
celebrate the joy of this event any time of the year.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. This happened in the 160s BCE/BC (before Jesus was born). (Hanukkah is the Jewish word for 'dedication'.) Hanukkah last for eight days and starts on the 25th of Kislev, the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December. Because the Jewish calendar is lunar (it uses the moon for its dates), Kislev can happen from late November to late December.
In 2016, Hanukkah is from in the evening of Saturday, 24 December until the evening of Sunday, 1st January.
During Hanukkah, on each of the eight nights, a candle is lit in a special menorah (candelabra) called a 'hanukkiyah'. There is a special ninth candle called the 'shammash' or servant candle which is used to light the other candles. The shammash is often in the center of the other candles and has a higher position. On the first night one candle is lit, on the second night, two are lit until all are lit on the eighth and final night of the festival. Traditionally they are lit from left to right. A special blessing, thanking God, is said before or after lighting the candles and a special Jewish hymn is often sung. The menorah is put in the front window of houses so people passing can see the lights and remember the story of Hanukkah. Most Jewish family and households have a special menorah and celebrate Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is also a time for giving and receiving presents and gifts are often given on each night. Lots of games are played during the time of Hanukkah. The most popular is 'dreidel' (Yiddish) or 'sivivon' (Hebrew). It's a four sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side. The four letter are the first letter of the phrase 'Nes Gadol Hayah Sham' which means 'A great miracle happened there' (in Israel, 'there' is changed to 'here' so it's 'Nes Gadol Hayah Po'). Player put a coin, nut or chocolate coin in a pot and the top is spun. In the letter 'nun' (נ) come up nothing happens, if it's 'gimel' (ג) the player wins the pot, if it's 'hay' (ה) you win half the pot and if it's 'shin' (for 'there' ש) or 'pe' (for 'here' פ) you have to put another item into the pot and the next person has a spin!
Friday, December 23, 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Evergreen plants, like Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe have been used for thousands of years to decorate and brighten up buildings during the long dark winter. They also reminded people that spring would come and that winter wouldn't last forever!
The Romans would exchange evergreen branches during January as a sign of good luck. The ancient Egyptians used to bring palm branches into their houses during the mid winter festivals. In many parts of Europe during the middle ages, Paradise plays were performed, often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories to people who couldn't read. The 'Paradise Tree' in the garden of eden in the play was normally a pine tree with red apples tied to it.
Now the most common use of green at Christmas are Christmas Trees.
As mentioned above, an early use of red at Christmas were the apples on the paradise tree. They represented the fall of Adam in the plays. Red is also the color of Holly berries, which is said to represent the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross. Red is also the color of Bishops robes. These would have been worn by St. Nicholas and then also became Santa's uniform!
Gold is the color of the Sun and light - both very important in the dark winter. And both red and gold are the colors of fire that you need to keep you warm.
Gold was also one of the presents brought to the baby Jesus by one of the wise men and traditionally it's the color used to show the star that the wise men followed.
Silver is sometimes used instead of (or with) gold. But gold is a 'warmer' color.
White paper wafers were also sometimes used to decorate paradise trees. The wafers represented the bread eaten during Christian Communion or Mass, when Christians remember that Jesus died for them. White is used by most churches as the color of Christmas, when the altar is covered with a white cloth (in the Russian Orthodox Church Gold is used for Christmas).
The color blue is often associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. In medieval times blue dye and paint was more expensive than gold! So it would only be worn by Royal families and very rich people. Mary was often painted wearing blue to show she was very important.
Blue can also represent the color of the sky and heaven. During Advent, purple and sometimes blue is used in most churches fort he color of the altar cloth (in the Russian Orthodox Church red is used for advent).
Monday, December 19, 2016
The tradition of the Christmas Pickle has got to be one of the strangest modern Christmas customs in that no one is quite sure why it exists at all!
In the 1880s Woolworth stores started selling glass ornaments imported from Germany and some were in the shape of various fruit and vegetables. It seems that pickles must have been among the selection!
Around the same time it was claimed that the Christmas Pickle was a very old German tradition and that the pickle was the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and then the first child to find the pickle got an extra present.
However, the claim that it's an old German tradition seems to be a total myth! Not many people in Germany have even heard of the Christmas Pickle! (Similarly in Russia virtually no one knows the supposedly Russian story of Babushka!)
Some families now have the tradition of hanging the pickle on the tree, with the first person/child to find it getting a present. But it probably didn't start in Germany!
There are two other rather far-fetched stories linking the pickle to Christmas.
One features a fighter in the American Civil War who was born in Bavaria (an area of what is now Germany). He was a prisoner, and starving, he begged a guard for one last pickle before he died. The guard took pity on him and gave a pickle to him. The pickle gave him the mental and physical strength to live on!
The other story is linked to St. Nicholas. It's a medieval tale of two Spanish boys traveling home from a boarding school for the holidays. When they stopped at an inn for the night, the evil innkeeper, killed the boys and put them in a pickle barrel. That evening, St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn, and found the boys in the barrel and miraculously bought them back to life!
There is an old legend about St. Nicholas rescuing boys from a barrel but the barrel was originally holding meat for pies - not pickles!
So it's most likely that an ornament salesmen, with a lot of spare pickles to sell, invented the legend of the Christmas Pickle!
The American city of Berrien Springs, MI (also known as the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World) has an annual pickle festival held during the early part of December.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
I love this time of year; especially when I can relax and knit on my advent pieces. There is something peaceful about these knitting projects.
Once I figured out the way of Mosaic knitting,
I'm on a roll! It's fast and easy to knit.
This could be a male scarf with the colors I chose.
I know it's comes across as brown against this white
but trust me...
It's really a burgundy color--I wish I had used different
colors, but it is what it is
and I live with it. This pattern is designed by Mosaic Advent Scarf 2016
The other Advent scarf is coming along nicely--
I enjoy knitting lace and this one will
make a nice warm scarf for someone special
I wish--why do I always second guess my choices?--
I'd used lace weight yarn instead I
Fingering weight yarn--it does make a difference!
Fingering vs lace
Saturday, December 17, 2016
After Thanksgiving we had lots of leftover ham! I'm not a big fan of ham! Ham sandwiches were made! I baked a ham quiche! There was ham for breakfast! And there was still plenty of
ham leftover! Gee whiz, was it multiplying in the refrigerator?
Then it hit me--there was a jar of green olives in refrigerator too and I remembered this delicious bread
that was made when we lived in Venezuela--Pan de Jamon!
I had to find that recipe and make that bread.
Here is the recipe I came up with:
Friday, December 16, 2016
Thursday, December 15, 2016
The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl, meaning "flower that grows in residues." Today it is known in Mexico and Guatemala as Flor de Noche Buena, meaning Christmas Eve Flower. In Spain it is known as Flor de Pascua or Pascua, meaning Easter flower. In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as Crown of the Andes. In Turkey, it is called Atatürk's flower because Atatürk, the founder of the Republic, liked this flower and made a significant contribution to its cultivation in Turkey.
The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.