Thursday, January 31, 2019

January OMG - The 2019 Temperature Project

In January I decided to start off slowly on my 2019 temperature project... and, well, I did. Start slowly, that is! My stated "One Monthly Goal" was to "really get going", to get the canvas in a frame, and get stitching.

Well, technically I've succeeded, though without actually achieving anything.

I have attached the canvas to a frame and stitched the year -- that's it.

Part of this is because my other big needlepoint project -- which I am really enjoying -- has taught me that I love the texture of a different stitch ... and that stitching borders around the different squares would really add interest to what has started out as a relatively boring design. Why boring? Well, here in Seattle our temperatures have been so moderate that so far only TWO colors have been called for. That will make for a pretty bland piece.

Let's be clear: I am NOT complaining that we're having a mild winter! For everyone affected by the Polar Vortex, stay warm and safe!

I decided to order some black wool to stitch into some sort of raised border between the frames, but then balked at paying for shipping. However yesterday I got a 25% off code from Herrschners which essentially gave me free shipping -- so the new wool is on the way!

So, not huge success, but a slow start. Thanks for Elm Street Quilts for the inspiration! You can check out the other crafters and their January project progress here:

Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal - January Finish Link-up

Here's looking forward to more progress in February!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Adventure 2/50 : Climbing the Space Needle

Every year the company I work for holds a "Day of Difference" as part of their global sales meeting. Last year all the employees split up to do community service projects around Seattle, but this year we decided to come together to raise $50,000 for for the anti-domestic-violence educational charity, One Love.

Employees reached out to friends and family and asked them to sponsor them ... and those of us who raised at least $250 were eligible to CLIMB THE SPACE NEEDLE!!!!

All the employees met at the Chihuly Garden and Glass, where we met for a company photo. I got there a bit early and took some gorgeous photos in the garden. I had been there by day, but never in the dark!

It also gave me a chance to admire the Needle in the foggy morning:

Hmm.... from down here, that looks pretty darn tall... it's 848 steps, to be precise, from the bottom to the top....

After the company photo, and with surprisingly little advance notice, those of us who were climbing set off towards the base of the Needle.

In through the gift shop (of course!), into a nondescript door, and suddenly we were climbing.

Much of the next 10 minutes really just looked like this:

a tight, triangular stairwell, going up and up, around and around, with the occasional pause to snap a picture:

The stairwells are open to the elements, with chainlink fencing "enclosing" it. Because it was drizzly and breezy, the stairs were wet -- making me extra glad to be climbing up rather than heading down.

The views of the city -- and the support structure of the Needle itself -- were pretty great, through. Look, there's the tunnel entrance by those yellow exhaust pipes.

And here's the sound and the under-renovation Key Arena from a spot close to the top -- see the curve of the support?

I didn't really know what to expect -- would I struggle? Would I make it? Would I have to stop halfway up? But all of a sudden we were at the top!

And, of course, it was foggy!!! It was still pretty great to be up on the new, very glassy, outdoor observation deck. On a clear day, this is going to be spectacular!

After some high-fiving of other climbers, I headed down to the lower level, or what used to be where the restaurant was. The Space Needle's website states that they're developing "a new dining concept", but why hide the new, amazing glass floor under tables and chairs?

Oh, yeah, about that glass floor...

it's pretty amazing to see the ground waaaaay down beneath you ... as well as the stairwell we climbed up!

My favorite moment was spotting the cog that helps turn this level of the Needle -- though with the ongoing (but 95% complete!) renovation, the top of the Needle isn't rotating currently.

Is it any surprise that the organizers had a difficult time getting all of us off the top of the Needle and back to the Westin for the rest of the day's events?

Really fun morning, and quite an adventure. Also -- huge thanks to my sponsors, including Suz and Rebecca! Thanks for helping make this happen.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Adventure 1/50: Snowshoeing at Lanham Lake

I'd been wanting to try snowshoeing again for a while. It had been a loooong time since Suz and I went snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass -- possibly also through REI? -- and possibly 15+ years ago. 

Given that we're now pretty keen hikers, snowshoeing seemed like a great way to extend our hiking season year round. But between not really knowing where to go, needing to rent equipment, and hating driving in snow, signing up for the class through REI to go snowshoeing in Mount Rainier National Park in January seemed like the perfect solution. 

However, the government shutdown (thanks, president T...) meant that much of Mount Rainier National Park was closed, so REI changed the location to a hike out to Lanham Lake. Not ideal, obviously, but unfortunately that's the current reality. Wil and I talked it over -- did we want to try and reschedule, or just go, since the weekend was forecast to be nice, and we didn't want to wait until March ... when we would have to hope the government would have reopened...

In the end we decided to go to Lanham Lake, and we're glad we did. First we drove to the Bellevue REI and met up with our guides and fellow trekkers. We piled into the very comfortable van and drove north.

It was a gorgeous morning -- probably the nicest Saturday of the year so far... so we were not the only folks heading up to the ski areas... which meant we did a lot of slow crawling on our way up the pass.

The Nordic Center is on the far side of the pass, which meant we had to drive past the parking lot, which seemed oddly calm... and then drive past the overflow lot, where we saw a HUGE line of skiers waiting to be picked up by a shuttle bus. The sight of this made us all groan a little, but we moved on. And then we came to a stop about half a mile from the Nordic Center ... and realized that they were letting downhill sliders park in the Nordic Center lot. After inching forward for several minutes, our guides did a very smooth "driver switch" and our driver ran up to see what was going on. By the time we got to the entrance they were turning all cars away, sending them to the next parking lot down the mountain... but we had secured a tiny space half in a snowbank for our group of 14 snowshoers.

So we had arrived about an hour behind schedule, but we were soon at the trailhead and shown how to put on our snowshoes. Exciting!

Amusingly, I put mine on backwards -- left snowshoe on right foot -- but given that they're not fitted, it just meant that my straps were on the wrong side. Extra amusingly, I didn't notice until halfway through the day. 

I was feeling anxious -- would I fall down a lot? Would I be able to keep up with the group? Would I have to turn back????

But, no. It was really lovely. 

Our guides kept up a good pace, stopping now and again so we could shed layers (new motto: be bold, start cold), hydrate, snack, and rest. The trail climbed over some rolling terrain, and we crossed a set of lovely groomed cross-country ski trails -- so nice!

Once we passed the power lines, we headed back into the forest and up to the lake. Wil and I both tried using the "heel lifts" on our snowshoes for steep climbs and, once we got the hang of how to flip them up and back down, used them a lot. 

And then, suddenly, we were at the lake. 

Yeah, that's open water at one edge, and ski tracks across the middle. Nope nope nope. We were happy to just hang out and take a lot of pictures. 

We took a break for lunch, laughing that one of the guides brings a can of chili with him for lunch, but all acknowledging that none of us heated up our lunches, either. (For the record, Wil made awesome veggie burgers for us.)

Because we had made such great time up to the lake, the guides asked if we were interested in hiking around it, too -- apparently, we were so fast out to the lake that we had made up the hour traffic delay, and more. 

The guides checked the trail to make sure we could cross the creeks safely, so we packed up and headed out around the lake. This was actually the best part of the day, hiking through powder and blazing our own trails, and no one else around. 

It was pretty great to come back to the "trail meets lake" point to find another group of  snowshoers, all staring at us like we had just come from the moon. Brilliant. 

But then it was time to head back down ... which I enjoyed less than the way up. That said, the sensation of feeling the snowshoes really bite in to the snow on the downhill made me feel more secure than I often do in just my hiking boots. 

The trail down was pretty uneventful; I almost wiped out once when I had stepped on my own snowshoe while going down a steep bit -- but I somehow held on with my wrist in the trekking pole strap. Not ideal, but I didn't pitch down the hill!

We got back to the trailhead, took off our snowshoes, and started walking back to the van ... and promptly put our snowshoes back on, given that the parking lot was an uneven icy mess! Before heading back we all had hot cocoa (so good!) and then piled back in the van for the drive home. Traffic wasn't quite as bad -- we never stopped completely except at traffic lights -- and we got back to Bellevue essentially on time. 

If you're keeping track, that's another one of my 101 things in 1001 days complete!

I really enjoyed our adventure, but I still don't know that I want to invest in a couple of pairs of snowshoes. I hate driving in the snow, mainly. And I don't know where to go ... though that's easier to figure out. But we're going to keep our eyes out for a sale  -- or a gently used pair --and keep our options open! 

Now, I know what you're wondering ... what is this "Adventure 1/50" thing? Well, I turned FIFTY on New Year's Eve, so decided that my project for 2019 is to experience 50 adventures. Now, adventures aren't necessarily BIG THINGS. And some of them overlap the 101 in 1001 project, which is okay by me. But I do want to keep trying (or re-trying!) new things. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Swan Stitch-a-Long, part 6

Hi everyone! Happy new year and all that! It's time for the first stitch-a-long check-in of 2019!

I've been slowly making progress on my swan needlepoint. I've now filled in the outer background of the bottom half.  

I used a simple texture pattern and I really like how it came out.

I also did more on the central background, and stitched most of the "feather edging" on the left swan.

And... drumroll please... I rolled the piece on the frame so I could work on the top part. Or higher up, anyway.

Remember our grumpy friend, right swan?

Next steps are to finish the feather outlining on left swan, then stitching the eye and beak to match right swan. And then doing the outlining and stitching of the upper leaves -- including the ones swirling around the outer edge. My goal for the next three weeks would be to do as much outlining and stitching of the leaves to be able to roll the piece again so I could finish them up. But we'll see.

It's a new year, so we've had two new members join the stitch-a-long, and an old friend return. Visit their blogs to see what they're all up to! If you're interested in joining and getting some serious support and inspiration for your projects, visit Avis's blog for all the details.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, CatherineDeborah, Connie, and Clare... and welcome back Mary Margaret, and welcome to Renee, Jenny.

Our next update will be Sunday, February 3 -- let's get stitching!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

52 week drawing challenge wrap-up

One of my 101 in 1001 Goals was to complete a "52 Weeks of Drawing" challenge. I had found a super cute graphic created by The Paper Mama back in 2014 (??? the Internet *is* forever!):

I printed it out and pasted it into my sketchbook. And every Sunday -- well, okay, most Sundays, but I always made up for it! -- I spent 15 minutes or so sketching.

Now, I'm not going to call myself an artist just yet, but I do think my sketching has improved, at least a little. Besides, I enjoyed the physical act of drawing every week, and in the end I produced 52 drawings. Here are a few of my favorites:

1/21: Plant -- the cat tree in the front window, complete with cat.

3/5 (really drawn on 3/4, for some reason): Favorite Book - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

4/15: 2 - my feet.

7/29: Crafty - a cross stitch project I was working on for my Mom's birthday

8/19: Sky - a view from the Adirondack chairs at the side of the house.

10/21: Comic Strip - recounting our adventures getting to the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon.

11/4: Sweet Treat - a couple of sketches of pears.

12/9: Toy -- a plastic "solar dancer" that makes me smile just looking at it.

12/30: Your Choice -- a view from the couch at the cabin, looking out at the small barn.

I enjoyed this project so much -- and the ritual of sitting down and sketching for 15 minutes at a time -- that I found a nice set of drawing prompts on the Mona Lisa Lives Here blog … for a DAILY drawing project.

So far I am 10/10 on sketches, and I really enjoy it. I know there will come a day when I just don't get to it, but for now, it's really fun. You can download your own list of 365 drawing prompts from the Mona Lisa Lives Here blog if you fancy joining in!

Completing the 2018 challenge means I have completed 18 things on my "101 things in 1001 days" list -- with several more in progress. So it looks as if I'm way behind, but I'm only a little behind...

I'll share more of my sketch-a-day images later in the year ... and hopefully my drawing will continue to improve!

Friday, January 4, 2019

January OMG : Starting the 2019 Temperature Project

Hi everyone! I have (reluctantly) returned to the real world after our New Year's / Birthday break and, no surprise, feel like I am somehow way behind on this "kicking off 2019" thing. However, though it feels like December 31 was a loooong time ago, I realize today is only January 4 and there's time to get going. *IF* I set it as my One Monthly Goal!!!

In 2017 I made a temperature afghan. I loved the process of picking out the yarn -- in my project, a  monochromatic "Fifteen Shades of Grey" -- and I loved tracking the temperatures and watching the colors shift over the course of the year. Who cares if it ended up nearly 10 feet long; it's warm and cozy and really nice on our big bed.

But I knew I didn't need another massive afghan, so wanted to find another project to do. I thought about some sort of cross stitch project, or even a pillow top. But nothing really felt right. Then I remembered this lovely old thing in my basement:

note Kiki in the background...

When I was growing up we had two of these; one with a burgundy cushion and this one with a green cushion. I don't know what happened to the other one, but I insisted that I had to have it, and often thought of stitching a needlepoint piece and recovering the sadly ripped leather cushion. But then it just languished in my basement, an odd UFO.

I decided that, somehow, I would chart out a simple pattern and spend 2019 tracking the temperature in needlepoint. This was easier said than done -- it's HARD to chart out 365 spaces, darn it! Lots of sketches, tests, and recounts. Oh, and of course it's not a true rectangle, and there are those cutouts to contend with!

But finally, with some fudging and some shifting, a 365-space grid was sketched on an old piece of needlepoint canvas:

The center piece will include the year and a very simple border, and then the background of it will be whatever color corresponds with the temperature. But what color would that be, I hear you ask!

I wanted something with a little color, but I'm not super into rainbows. I recently crocheted a scarf from Mandala yarn that was in a muted rainbow, so I used that as my inspiration and spent a lot of time trying to choose colors of DMC tapestry wool... without being able to see any of them in person. That said, when they all arrived, I was really happy with the range -- everything is a bit muted or, as DMC calls it, "Drab".

Of course, one can't predict the temperatures for the coming year, but I made some guesses and ordered between 2 and 7 skeins of each color. The nice thing about this project is if I need to wait to restock a color, I can keep working on other days, unlike with my temperature afghan!

My One Monthly Goal for January is to really get going on this -- get the canvas in a frame and get stitching. Oh, and to decide what to call this project. Temperature Needlepoint? Temperature Tapestry? Temperature Topper???

This link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts, you can check out all the monthly projects on the January Link-up Page.

Oh, and here's a gratuitous photo of one of my adorable cats...