Friday, June 30, 2017

4th of July Yarny Prep

A repeat from 2014, because it's SO GOOD!

Patriotic Crocheted Stars

Do you have your 4th of July projects ready for the festivities?  You wouldn't want to show up empty-handed at the 4th of July party you're attending? Here are a few faboo items to whip up before the 4th!  Hurry up!  You've only got 4 days left!
American Flag Wreath
4th of July Beach Bag
Catherine Wheel Flag Afghan
Flag Sweater

Beverage Can Holder
Patriotic Garden Potholder
Little Star Dishcloth
The Beverage Can Holders, Patriotic Potholder and Little Star Dishcloths are my personal favorites. They're quick to crochet and make PERFECT hostess gifts!
Ellen's Welcome Blanket

I just finished a WELCOME BLANKET in red, white and blue to welcome a new immigrant to our country. This color combination always works! Hey! It's a long weekend, you'll have a enough time to start your own Welcome Blanket!  Join me!

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017


I've completed TWO Welcome Blankets! #welcomeblanket
Ellen's Welcome Blankets

I struggled a bit with my first red, white and blue blanket. I used the Corner2Corner crochet stitch. While this stitch is great for garments, it doesn't really lend itself to modular crochet. Stitching the blocks together for the design was tedious. Once I figured this out, I bit the bullet and just carried on until I was finished. 
Corner2Corner Welcome Blanket

For my second blanket, I discovered this tutorial for diagonals/triangles within a granny square. The uniform edges of a granny square are much easier to join than the Corner2Corner squares! 
Granny Triangle Welcome Blanket

I like this triangle granny square so much, that I'm now working on a baby blanket for one of my cousins using this pattern in blush pink and gray washable yarn.
Future Baby Blanket

Join me in making your own #welcomeblanket. Find the details HERE

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Neighborhood Mixer

We LOVE our neighborhood. It's a sweet little pocket in the center of Los Angeles called Wilshire Vista, part of Mid-City L.A. Everyone is friendly. We all look out for each other. We have pride in our neighborhood. Our WV sign says that we're a "Community of Respect." This is true.
Probably the most unique feature of the neighborhood are the buildings, the majority of which were built between the 1920's through the mid-1930's. Styles range from Spanish, Spanish Mission, and Mediterranean to English Tudor and storybook European. There are some very cool modernist buildings from the 1950's and 1960's too.
Click on photo to read our story

We have snacks!

Every spring our neighborhood, Wilshire Vista holds it's Neighborhood Mixer.  Many members of the community help coordinate, set-up, serve, decorate, clean-up and more. Restaurants in the area cater our event. Larry takes photos every year and there is a display of past year's get-togethers. 
Nic and Rosina
Kim and Stephanie
The twins are admiring our Wilshire Vista cake, donated by Hansen's on Fairfax Ave.

These ladies were prepared for the sun!
Ellen, Violet and Stephanie

It was particularly HOT yesterday, so I wasn't sure that people would attend, but we had a very nice turn-out! There were prizes for the people who had lived in the neighborhood the longest (1960) and another prize for the newest neighbors who moved here the day before!
Wilshire Vista's newest residents with photographer, Larry Underhill
Everyone is friendly. We meet the most amazing neighbors at the Mixer!

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summertime Swap

It's that time of year again. The Annual Dishcloth Swap on Ravelry is upon us. I love this swap! I've been participating for six years. My friend, Eve is in charge of this exchange of beautiful, hand-made dishcloths. I usually help out by offering my dining room table on swap day.
Here are the details: 
IN A NUTSHELLSend 5 dishcloths (same pattern, various colors) with one SASE to the address below by August 25th. Receive 5 different dishcloths back. No signup, no obligation - if you make it by the deadline, you are in; if not, then there is always next year. Now read the details:

THE RULESSigning up: There’s no need to sign up or notify anyone in any way that you intend to swap. Have your dishcloth at the destination below by AUGUST 25th, 2017 and you’ll be swapping. If you don’t have them there on time, they’ll be returned to you. We love you to participate in Ravelry group, but it’s not a requirement.
YOUR DISHCLOTHSEach participant is required to crochet or knit 5 dishcloth/washcloth/spa-cloths in the same pattern. Please do vary the colors as you see fit. 
Please be sure your cloths measure between 6x6 and 9x9 inches square or 6 to 9 inches in diameter. 
Label each dishcloth with maker and care instructions. Feel free to include yarn and pattern info. Affix the label with a safety pin or tie it on. No straight pins, please.

YARNS100% Cotton or cotton blend yarn – 100% cotton yarn is awesome and is used often for dish/washcloths. Blends are great too but they need to be at least 50% cotton and contain no animal fibers. 
Linen and hemp yarn – These yarns are yummy and last FOREVER. Feel free to use these yarns =D 
No boucle yarns – This stuff is awesome but not for dishcloths. Its spun a little to loosely to take the abuse that dish/washcloths tend to take. Save this yummy stuff for hats and baby blankets! 
Worsted or DK weight – #4 and #3 weight yarns make very scrubalicious washcloths. They clean well and they rinse and dry well when using this weight yarn too. 
Colors – Gooooooo nuts! Solids! Variegated! Striped! Neutrals! Brights! Muted! Its all good =D 
These are absolute requirements and if you don’t follow them, you won’t be able to swap.

THE ACTUAL SWAPPINGAfter the dishcloths are received, your hosts are going to get together and have a grand time looking at all of your gorgeous work and selecting 5 different beauties to send back to you.
The goal of this swap is to produce and receive little pieces of fiber art. Use beautiful yarns, color combinations, and patterns. Don’t feel pressured to use teensy little crochet cotton. Thicker cottons like Tahki Cotton Classic , Rowan Cotton Glace, and Elann Sonata make great washcloths. Have a ton of fun.
POSTAGE AND ENVELOPEUS participants need to include a self-addressed, postage-paid, large First Class Envelope (SASE). Please do NOT use those super-bulky 1/4” thick full-of-shredded-insulation type envelopes for the SASE, as they will cause over-weight and require extra postage (the envelopes themselves weigh 3 ounces or something ridiculous). Best are plastic envelopes or Tyvek®-style (though NOT the free priority ones the PO provides). Please put the P.O. Box address (PO BOX 1492, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91012) as the “sent from” address on the SASE. Do not leave it blank - the USPS will not accept a package without a return address. AND, if the return address and the mailing address are the same and the postage is short your package will get stuck in the DEAD MAIL box (details, details…I know…snooooooze).

The current first class rate for a large envelope weighing up to 13 oz. is $ 4.35. We will make sure all packages stay under 13 oz. so that we’re sure your postage is covered. You will have to purchase the stamp(s) to cover this.
Also, as much as we love people sending us cash, do not send cash for postage instead of buying your own stamps. Your return envelope should be complete: mailing address, return address and adequate postage.
Non-US participants 
Please see our Non US shipping page for details.

We’ll need to receive your dishcloth/washcloth/spa-cloth by August 25th, 2017. Please mail them to:
Swap Headquarters 
PO BOX 1492 
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91012

Also please include your Ravelry-name on the outside of the envelope that you are mailing all your stuff in. That way we can keep an easy list of whose package arrived and you can see when we got your package.
INSPIRATION AND PATTERNSWe have a page and a thread in the Ravelry group for pattern and yarn suggestions. Please add to it!
QUESTIONSFeel free to post in the discussions section. PM one of the mods of this group.
TAG for projects in this swap: Annual-DC-Swap
LOOK at all of those dishcloths I've made in the past six years! I've received that many and MORE back. It's so much fun on Swap Day, piling up all of those beautiful dishcloths for distribution. Usually, Lisa, Eve and I have a very difficult time deciding who gets what! We try to be fair.
2016 Swap Committee, Diane, Eve, Lisa, Ellen
I'm not sure which pattern I'll use for this year's swap. There are TONS of free patterns available on Ravelry for knitters and crocheters! JOIN ME this year. It's so much fun!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice

Sun scarf designs by VERA Neumann

SUMMER! It's the longest day of the year. Living in Southern California, we are fortunate to almost always have sunny weather. I'm a native. I love sunshine and all it represents. Of course, I do not like it when the temperatures reach over 90 degrees. In parts of sunny Southern California today, we're having record temperatures.
We live in Mid-City Los Angeles, on a mild hill. The cool breezes from Culver City waft over our neighborhood. I work in Santa Monica, not far from the beach. It is relatively cool here today too, while other parts of the City, especially the San Fernando Valley are rather warm.
This type of weather makes me want to crochet sunny things in golden colors.
Amigurumi Sun
Sunny Spread
I added a sunny Willow Square to an afghan
Floppy Brim Hat
I think I'll look through my yarn stash and see how many different shades of yellow I can find. Maybe I'll crochet another Welcome Blanket in sunny colors!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Music is a Mood Booster

Feeling down in the dumps? Kinda' depressed about nothing and everything? Music is a mood booster. When I hear a great song on the radio and sing along, I automatically feel better. When I'm playing my ukulele I really feel great. Just the act of singing and raising my voice makes breathing easier and more regulated. Music is my therapy of choice.
My earliest musical instrument, the Hurdy Gurdy! This is at my 4th birthday party, Roxbury Park, Beverly Hills with Robbie Feldman

When I was a child, my Mother used to play the piano all the time. She was quite good. Sometimes, when she played popular songs, I would sing along. She taught me how to read music and play a few tunes. Later, I took piano lessons and became somewhat proficient in sight reading. I never continued with the piano, which I regret. At least I had a basic knowledge of the keyboard and reading music to progress to other instruments.
My brother, on the other hand, took to playing music immediately. He was in the school orchestra as a youngster and had private lessons on the clarinet. Later, he picked up the flute, saxophone, French horn and more. At about the same time, Ken wanted to learn how to play the guitar. My Dad owned a classical guitar and was taking some lessons at adult school. Ken got hold of Dad's guitar one day, looked at the music and played the classical riffs that my Dad had been struggling with...just like that!
My brother Ken and his clarinet, 1960, Los Angeles

From that time on, my brother Ken has been a multi-instrumentalist and a luthier. In addition to the instruments mentioned above, he plays banjo, fiddle, zither, bowed dulcimer, traditional dulcimer, steel guitar, bandura, sitar and many more obscure stringed instruments. He has made music his life's work.
Ken with his 7-string guitar, Pilot Mtn., NC, 2017

I was very lucky to be around the house and become Ken's little musical protégé. Since my hands were too small to learn guitar, Ken 
taught me how to play the ukulele. I really don't remember having a ukulele, 
because I graduated to guitar and banjo rapidly. When I was 10 years old, 
Ken registered me as a beginning contestant at the Topanga Banjo and 
Fiddle Contest. I won! I didn't enter the following year, but the third year, I 
registered again in the beginning category and won a third place ribbon. I 
was going downhill fast. 
During high school, my best friends were in Band and Orchestra. Luckily, I could
count measures, so I asked to be in the percussion section. In Orchestra I played
whatever minor percussion instruments were necessary, usually the triangle. In
band, since I'd played piano, I was given the chore of playing the Glockenspiel!
That's me with the Glockenspiel on the right. Click on photo to embiggen

switched to playing guitar more often in high school and continued through 
college, going back to banjo periodically.
Wig Wam Motor Court Jamboree, 2011, Rialto, CA

During my high school and college years I was a camp counselor at Idyllwild 
School of Music and the Arts. I accompanied many campfire songfests. 
Needless to say, I didn't really need to be too accomplished to play the three 
chords necessary for those songs.
Duet with Jonde Northcutt, Idyllwild, 1970

I always had an instrument available to play in the subsequent years, but never 
really concentrated on getting to be a better player until I re-discovered the 
ukulele. I bought an inexpensive uke about 11 years ago and took lessons.
All of my early training kicked in (thanks, Kenny). I was hooked. I've been 
participating in ukulele groups, workshops and going to ukulele festivals for 
the past eleven years.
My sweet Brother built me a custom ukulele in 2010!
Picking out a few tunes on Nancy's autoharp
At The Fender Factory, Corona, CA, 2015
Ready to play and sing "Easter Parade," 2016
One of these days I might buy a Banjolele! Music Center 2016

I love to play and sing. Not that I'm any good at captivating others, but at least I like to 
entertain myself! After playing and singing for just a few minutes, I feel happy. One of
these days maybe I'll even improve my playing!
Ukulele Workshop, Culver City, 2017. This is my new Kala Tenor Ukulele, Salt and Pepper / Dog Hair finish. Photo by Cali Rose

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery