Sunday, January 29, 2023

January OMG complete: Tablet Weaving

This was my first month back to One Monthly Goal, and I am so happy to be back. You see, in early 2022 I bought a workshop kit from what was then called The Crafter's Box to learn Tablet Weaving. When the kit arrived I was overwhelmed and intimidated to the point that I just closed up the box and put it into the basement. 

I decided my OMG for January would be to simply watch the course video. And, of course, watching the video made all the difference. I could see what the process actually looks like, as well as how to read the patterns, warp the loom, and actually weave. 

I have done nothing else besides choose a pattern (the kit comes with a few to choose from), but I feel like next month (foreshadowing?!) I can make a real start. 

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see how everyone did in their January projects on the Finish Party page! Or choose an OMG project of your own and join us in February. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Valentine's Day Stitch-a-Long, part 2

Hi everyone! Again I'm writing this early as I'll be out of town on the date of our check-in. This time I'll be in Florida on a long-planned vacation. Is it vacation when one isn't working? Not sure. But I'm still looking forward to this trip!

Last time I had started a new Valentine's Day cross stitch pattern. Here's where I was:

And here's where I am now -- nearly halfway done!

I'll need to fill in the pale pink checkerboard around the whole piece, and then some backstitching around that, but wanted to keep moving through the rows first. The next row has one full-coverage square, but also has one that is just backstitching, so I think I'll be able to get it done before our next check in. So, no Valentine's Day finish, but I'll have a good portion complete!

Don't forget to check out the amazing projects my fellow stitchers are working on -- they're always fascinating and inspiring. Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, AJCathie, LindaHelenConnieCindy, and Mary Margaret.

Friday, January 13, 2023

13x13 January 2023 (!!!) edition

Hi everyone! It’s January 13, so that means it’s time to check in with my 13x13 project!

In December 2022 I decided to make Autumn Pumpkin by Mill Hill Beads. 

I like that this pumpkin is “tall” rather than squat — it’s nice to have a different shape. 

For this month I’m going to make another pumpkin from this Painted Pumpkins series: Persian Pumpkin

I like the vibrant colors; it should be fun to stitch. I also have some travel coming up, and these small projects are great to travel with. 

I'll check back in on February 13 to share my finished piece, as well as my next project. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

January OMG: Tablet Weaving???


I haven’t participated in One Monthly Goal for a while now, but I always loved the gentle, semi-anonymous accountability. I think this project is perfect for this link-up!

I bought a workshop kit from what was then called The Crafter’s Box to learn Tablet Weaving. I’d never heard of it, but it looked intriguing. 

And then the kit arrived and I was TOTALLY OVERWHELMED. 


I had never done anything like this, and I was intimidated by it. So I just put all the lovely yarn back in a box and set it aside. For at least a year. 

I’m still intimidated, which is absurd because I haven’t watched the instruction course yet. I mean, of course I don’t know how to do it yet! 

Anyway, the teeny tiny baby step for this is that I want to watch the course once to get a sense of how it all works. That’s all. 

I find that, when I’m stuck, just making an easy, gentle step gets me moving again. At least I hope so. 

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts; you can see all the monthly projects on the January Link-up Page.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Valentine’s Day Stitch-a-Long, part 1

Hi everyone! Welcome to 2023! Full disclosure here: I’m writing this on December 29 and getting ready to go away for the weekend. We’re going to Salt Lake City, Utah, to run an indoor half marathon: 52 laps around a speed skating rink built for the Winter Olympics. Pretty wild — but it will be the 42nd state I’ve raced a half marathon in, which I’m excited about, even if all those left turns make my hips ache a bit. But that’s not why we’re here!!!

Last time I shared that I had FINALLY finished my Great Wave piece, which was super exciting. I haven’t taken it to the framers yet, but that’s a goal to get done this month. I’ll be sure and post it when it’s done!

I struggled to decide on my next project — I had thought about a sequins-and-felt Christmas banner, and was going to start that when the wind was taken out of my sails a bit. My company laid me and 25% of the employees off in the middle of December.

I hasten to point out that I’ll be fine; as this was the 4th round of layoffs in 2022 it wasn’t exactly unexpected. Just less-than-kind timing, I suppose. So it was hard to get into any Christmas spirit. If we hadn’t put our tree up earlier in the month, I’m not sure we would have bothered. 

So I decided, for my next project, to pick something atypical for me: a Valentine’s Day cross stitch pattern that I will turn into a pillow cover. Here’s the pattern. It’s pretty cute:

I doubt I’ll finish the stitching in time (ha!) but it feels more seasonal than a Christmas banner at this point. Here’s where I am so far: 

It’s pretty relaxing; a larger-scale Aida, and not full coverage. I hope that before our next check-in I can get the next “row” stitched. Until then, check out the amazing projects my fellow stitchers are working on! Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, AJCathie, LindaHelenConnieCindy, and Mary Margaret.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Magic City Half Marathon Race Report


The final race of our "southern swing" was the Magic City Half Marathon. This race had a lot going for it -- the 5K option is Birmingham's "Girls on the Run" graduation 5K, so huge thumbs up to them for that. It also starts and ends at a baseball stadium, so there was plenty of bathrooms and we could have gotten undercover if the weather was bad. But the weather, though cold, was lovely!

We got into Birmingham on Saturday afternoon; tired and achy from the morning's race in Meridian, MS. We drove out to funky Avondale to pick up our race packets at a very nice brewpub with a huge outdoor space. Had it been warmer (and we been less tired), we might have lingered. 

Then to our big chain hotel -- Home2Suites by Hilton -- where we had a warm, friendly welcome one might have hoped to have in a fancier hotel. (I'm looking at you, Threefoot Meridian...). 

That night we stretched our legs a bit, seeing the Birmingham Barons stadium lit up, and the groovy "rainbow underpass". The lights on both change colors slowly, and it looked amazing.

Also, look how cute this sign is! I sure hope that her tail wags and her eyes move when they hit a home run. 

The next morning we bundled up (c-c-c-cold again) and headed to the start. This was a bigger race, and one we thought we would really enjoy as the course was simple -- just two loops with long straightaways. 

We lined up -- towards the back, of course... but notice how bundled up people were!

And then we headed out, past the replica "Magic City" sign. No, I didn't know that Birmingham's nickname was the Magic City either. 

The original sign used to stand in front of the train station, but deteriorated and was torn down in 1952, and sold as scrap. 

Postcard from Birmingham Public Library

But when the Rotary Trail was built, a replica was included. Not quite as pretty, but a nice nod to the history!

ANYWAY, there I go again getting distracted. I got distracted a lot during this race because, well... it was a little boring. 

I thought the long straightaways would be nice, relaxing. But in the end it just felt like we weren't moving at all. A loooooong way out along the train lines, an odd little lollipop loop in an industrial area (that we saw a huge number of people miss / skip, BOTH laps), then a cut over to Avondale, and then a looooooooong way back to downtown. Then around the outside of the stadium, and back out again. 

The aid stations were frequent, well staffed, and well stocked. One was staffed by what was probably a track team? Cross-country team? Who were upbeat, dancing, and making "runner tunnels" for people to run through and high five. 

At some point we caught up with the back of the 5K pack, including a pair who were dressed as the tortoise and the hare, which made us smile. 

Towards the end of our second lap we passed a lot of folks who were fading, so we did our best to cheer them up and keep them moving. 

The best part, of course, was running down the steep ramp to get on the field at the stadium, and run around the warning track to home plate and the finish. I think there were shoutouts by an announcer, and some pics on the jumbotron. And then we were done. 

After the race, sitting in the stadium, drinking a beer and snacking on pizza, we met a woman who had finished her 50th state THAT DAY. She told me that "you'll speed up at the end", and that she ran 17 STATES in 2022. I guess with so many races canceled in 2020-2021, she had a lot pent up! 

We headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and have a nap, but we didn't have to rush out as we were staying one more night. Why? To make sure we had the chance to visit THIS GUY:

We passed through Birmingham in 2016 en route to Tupelo with Wil's folks, but sadly Vulcan was undergoing restoration so we couldn't visit. You can take an elevator up to the base of the statue and there's a nice view (and I don't mean of Vulcan's bare bottom, ahem...):

There's also a museum (we saw an exhibit about soda pop), but let's face it, the big attraction is the big guy!

But this was supposed to be a race report, so let's wrap it up. The medals were handsome and large -- I love the "stained glass" in it:

Magic City Half Marathon
14:49 pace

Most importantly, this was STATE 41!


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

13x13, December 2022 edition

Hi everyone! Here we are at the third installment of my 13x13 project! I always feel like it takes a few times to make a habit, and so I feel good to have completed a second project. 

In November 2022 I decided to make the Moonlight Ghost kit by Mill Hill beads. As I noted then, the kit was set up as a magnet, but I added some ribbon as a hanger. 

I love their detailed little ornament kits. In fact, several of the projects I have lined up for this project will also be from Mill Hill, including this one, Autumn Pumpkin, for December: 

I'll check back in on January 13 to share my finished piece, as well as my next project. 

Monday, December 12, 2022

Magnolia Half Marathon race report

I chose the Magnolia Half Marathon for my Mississippi race based simply on timing. A week after the Summit2Summit Half in Arkansas, the day before the Magic City Half in Alabama. But in the end it was a good choice -- a sweet little small-town race with thoughtful touches that prove the Race Director is herself a runner. 

On the Friday afternoon we dropped in to Threefoot Brewing to pick up our race packets. Swag included a nice shirt, a decent reusable bag, and the offer of a previous year race shirt for free. (We politely declined...never wear a shirt for a race you didn't run!)
On a verrrry cold morning we gathered at the start with the small group of runners. They had an announcer talking about past winners -- plus there were two runners who had participated in all 10 of the races over the years; they were given free entries to the race for life. That's a nice touch. Recognizing your repeat runners is a great way to build a loyal following!

The fire department were there with a great big flag (a small-town classic!). In the background you can see our hotel, the Threefoot Meridian, so you can see how close were were staying to the start!

A little before 7, following the national anthem an a prayer (ahh, the south...), we gathered in the starting chute. 

The course was really, REALLY well marked with these amazing signs. Branded in all 4 corners, they could be turned whatever direction the arrow needed to go. I love a race that doesn't assume you've memorized the course, and shows that sometimes you just go straight at an intersection. 

We started off with a little loop around downtown -- first through a long underpass beneath the railroad tracks, then a few blocks, and then a soaring bridge back across them into downtown. You can see how big the railroads are here!

We then ran out to an area of handsome older homes, past a golf club, and then a loooooooooong straight shot back into downtown. While we were headed back into town we passed a few other runners, including a woman who was running her first ever half. "Everything hurts!" she said as we passed her. We told her she was doing great, and that we were within 5K of the finish. "5K...ok...I can do that."

Though I didn't take a lot of pictures, I did snap this of a new Jimmie Rodgers mural. 

The race finished with one more little loop -- down the underpass, back over the bridge, and then done. 

At the end we got a nice little shout-out -- at packet pick up we were asked to write a little note about why we were running, etc. Of course, by the time we finished there weren't many half marathoners still out on the course! But it was nice to get a "Here's Sunny Delaney from Seattle, Washington, who has just finished her 40th state!" regardless. 

The course itself was varied if not particularly interesting. But when we came to water stops they were staffed with enthusiastic volunteers and well stocked, too. And, again, the course marking was excellent with dozens and dozens of those very clear arrow signs. 

Once across the finish line we were given our handsome, handmade medal:

We spent the last mile or so with a woman who had run the race several times before, who told us all about the medals. They're made from magnolia wood from fallen or cut trees (they even have a note on their website asking locals to contact them if they have a tree fall). The RD's father makes each medal; the shape reflects that year's race. So as this was the 10th running, it was a 10-sided medal. Then each one has the logo burned into it, and it's hung on a handsome custom ribbon. (There's a nice collection of photos on the Magnolia Marathon website.)

Medals around our necks, we grabbed a slice of pizza and then headed back to the hotel -- we only had an hour to get showered and changed and on the road to our next location. Farewell, Meridian!

Magnolia Half Marathon
14:34 pace

And, of course, STATE #40!

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 31: HAPPY DANCE TIME!!!

Hi everyone! I almost can't believe it. But the Great Wave is complete!!! 

I saved the "signature" section until last -- I don't know if it's legible (any Japanese speakers?), but it translates as "From the brush of Hokusai, who changed his name to Iitsu". Iitsu means "one year old", so his name change was meant to symbolize a creative rebirth. 

I found the 300+ French knots really tedious, and to be honest I don't know how essential they were -- maybe on the blues, but on the pale beige they are almost invisible. 

Looking back, this was the image in my first post about this piece, waaaaaay back on March 21, 2021. 


I haven't quite decided what to do with this piece. It's too delicate (and frankly precious!) to do anything but frame and display. Just not sure where it should go. I don't want to do my usual "roll it up and set it aside", but I also know we're only a few weeks before Christmas so framers are probably overloaded. I'll put it on my project list to clean and frame it in the month of January. (Hold me to this!) But for now, I'm just going to spend some time happy dancing. 

Now... what's next? I don't think I have the energy to dive into another big project. (After all, there's a LOT of happy dancing to do!) I have a small, secret project that is a Christmas present, so I can't really show it here. I also have one of those goofy felt-and-sequin Christmas banners; I love how kitschy and silly they are, so perhaps I'll apply myself there: 

I really only like working on Christmas projects close to Christmas, but the tree is up, the mercury glass trees collection is on the mantlepiece, so NOW IS THE TIME! 

I have just realized that this is our last check-in in 2022 -- and that our next check-in is January 1, 2023. Until then, I hope you have a magical, merry Christmas. Make sure and take time for yourself, too! (May I suggest taking some time and checking out the amazing projects my fellow stitchers are working on? Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, AJCathie, LindaHelenConnieCindy, and Mary Margaret.