Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Birding in Tobago

Yesterday, Skip and I stepped off the ship to explore Scarborough, Tobago on foot. The Botanical Gardens were only a couple of blocks from the dock so we headed there.

We walked around a little bit. I found a bench up a hill and in the shade so I sat there for a while. It sprinkled rain a bit but the canopy of the trees only allowed a few misty drops through.

This is the view of Skip at the centre area from the sidewalk beside my hillside bench.
The first bird I was was a bananaquit
sitting on one of the Christmas lights adorning a tree. I had seen one before - at St. Barth's last year.
This tropical mockingbird
sounded just like the ones I see in Texas.
I thought this was a dove until I uploaded my pics and looked closer. It's actually a spectacled thrush.
This was some type of flycatcher.
There were a couple of these black iguanas.
I think this little guy is a blue-tailed emerald hummingbird. His forked tail and straight black bill are  the diagnostics.
These Carib grackles are smaller than the ones we customarily see in Texas.
There were several of these doves.
I also saw a black-faced grassquit but didn't get a very good shot.
I believe this is a blue-grey tanager.
I'm pretty stoked that I put 9 birds on my Caribbean birding list just walking around a tropical garden. Doing a birding trip here would be an awesome experience.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas at Sea

Skip and I are spending the holidays at sea on a luxurious ship, the Crystal Serenity. I've taught 3 knitting classes so far including teaching 3 knitters from scratch. One learned to purl at the second class and two more will be purling today. Several other guests join us just to sit and knit. It's pretty fun.

We sailed from Charleston SC on Wednesday, picked up more guests on Thursday and had two days at sea before docking at St. John's, Antigua yesterday for 6 hours.
Looking astern as we sail into Saint John's Harbour
Our dock mate, the Caribbean Princess with Saint John's in the background. The captain was getting ready to turn and back into our berth.
We went ashore, wandered through some of the shops, and stopped for a refreshing drink quayside. Skip had a Wadadli - a local beer and I had a mango daiquiri. Yum!

Back on the ship we had a wee nap before dinner. Skip and I usually ask the maitre d' to seat us wherever is convenient for him (i.e. to fill out a table, etc.). Apparently we had made such a good impression on our table mates the night before that they requested that we dine with them again. After dinner they invited us to the 'post-Hannukkah' celebration where delicious latkes and cookies were served.

After the show we went to the bar in the Atrium for a nightcap and to listen to the little combo. After I finished my Bailey's, the bartender gave me another one. I didn't really want to drink it there so we took our drinks back to the stateroom.

A little bit of the remaining Bailey's got splashed INTO my mobile printer.
My little office at sea - Netbook and mobile printer
Yikes! I spent the next hour cleaning out what I could and praying it would work OK. To no avail. I was very bummed out as being able to print patterns for my guests makes my job so much easier, not to mention printing our boarding passes next week for our return trip home. I Googled the error message and tried all the suggestions to get it to work again but no dice. I gave up and went to bed, pouring the offending, remaining Bailey's down the sink.

After breakfast, I tried to print something with no luck. After lunch I removed the battery pack and just used the power cable and it worked!!! I was able to print the patterns I needed for today's class. I'm SO relieved as I figured it would cost more to repair the printer (now a discontinued model) than to buy the updated version that has mixed reviews about its Wifi connectivity.

So the crisis has been averted. I'm done mourning the demise of my printer. Yay!

Tomorrow we dock in Scarborough, Tobago for the day. Neither of us has been there before and we didn't book an excursion so we'll probably just walk around the town.

Skip secretly packed a couple of Santa hats and surprised me with them this morning. We have been wearing them today and have been wished 'Merry Christmas' by many guests. We took our Christmas selfie out on our balcony/verandah.

Merry Christmas from the Caribbean Sea

Friday, 15 December 2017

Christmas Deer

I bought some linen fabric for stitching on some trip or other (UK knitting tour or Irish knitting tour). One of the pieces was 36 count linen which I thought would make a nice background for a Christmas deer.
I bought a locking embroidery hoop at the big box craft store with a coupon. It was recommended for punch needle projects and it works great for regular stitching, too.

I stitched over two threads with one thread. I didn't use a magnifier because I was in a semi-reclined position and watching TV whilst stitching.
That's 18 stitches to the inch, folks.

Not sure I'll get it finished into an ornament before we leave for our cruise.

BTW, I got final confirmation from the cruise line today that we will be on the scheduled 14-day sailing. I'll be teaching on every one of the 'at sea' days and possibly one or two days more, depending on when the ship sails from some of the ports. As far as I know, there won't be an art teacher so I may have more people in my classes which used to run at the same time as the art class. However, the iPad class is also at the same time so the art students might all flock there.

Trillium Embroidery Guild Christmas Potluck Meeting.

Traditionally at our Christmas potluck, we have an ornament exchange. This year we had 9 ornaments!

I really liked the blackwork pattern done with green thread and the rick-rack around the outside.
This is the one I picked. Jeanette stitched this blackwork design with variegated pink thread and embelished with beads.
This beauty was stitched by Barb. She said she purchased the tassel. She has really gotten into stitching with great enthusiasm.
This is a cute way to finish an ornament
This image better shows the white stitches and variegated red threads.

 Jen stitched this one. It was one that she finished on our finishing day at my house.
This little one was so cute!
 Bernie also stitched her name and date on the back. Tying off the cording at the bottom that way created a little tassel. Very clever.
The lace was stitched on an embroidery machine with soluble stabilizer. Finishing it like a little pillow was very effective.
Sue stitched this one.

I contributed my Joy ornament.

Thursday, 14 December 2017


I wanted to knit the Veronika Cardigan by Shannon Cook the moment I saw it. I had 6 balls of Patons Classic Wool in my stash in the right colour so I bought and downloaded the pattern and jumped right in.
I started with 5mm needles but frogged and switched to 5.5mm to get the gauge. I then blocked the finished item to size.

The only seaming (which I don't mind doing at all) is on the ribbed on the sides.
The pattern is interesting. You start on the bottom of the right front with 3.5" of ribbing, then begin the 4 row pattern. The shawl collar is knit as you go with increases starting about 8" up from the bottom. Then increases are made for the back and knitting continues across the back. Then stitches are bound off to knit down the left front with the shawl collar decreases before the ribbing finishes that side.

Then stitches are picked up along the stitches at the bottom of the back for the ribbing. Once that is done, simply sew the sides up along the ribbing only.

The sweater is nice and 'drapey' and looks great as is or with a shawl pin closing the front. Beware, though -- the armholes are exactly at the right height to catch on doorknobs!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Shuttlebug December Potluck

Our December potluck meeting was held at our usual meeting place at the Greenwood Recreation Centre.

Jacki showed off the socks she knit with the yarn handpainted at a spinning and knitting retreat a couple of years ago. We handpainted sock blocks that were knit with two strands of sock yarn. When the yarn was unravelled, two identical balls of yarn were yielded.
This was a beautiful wet-felted flower from a workshop at Gemini Fibres.
This bag was also created. The closure at the top is made from metal tape measure.
And here's the back.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Pyjama Pants

I usually make Scooter and Skip pyjama pants for Christmas or birthday.

I've used this pattern for Scooter several times.
I was smart and wrote pertinent info on the pattern envelope.

I always pre-wash and machine-dry flannelette because I want the final sewn size to be right. This pattern calls for elastic across the back and twill tape ties attached to each side of the elastic. I also anchor the elastic by stitching through it and the waistband down the centre back seam. I usually try to match the horizontal lines but this fabric only had vertical lines so I didn't have to do that.
I also ironed in this label, created for me by Jen1's dad for a quilting project they worked on. I hope the ink doesn't wash out.
Skip wanted pockets in his pyjama pants so I used the same pattern for Skip's pants. I just made them a size larger by just eyeballing extra width when I was cutting out the pieces.

I liked the Thunderbird motif and again, didn't need to worry about matching horizontal lines. Skip also got a nifty label for the centre back.

More Sewing Lessons

Jen1 came over on Friday to learn how to make a lined, zippered bag. She brought her sewing machine so I could make sure it was in proper working order and could show her some of its features.

She was very happy to finish the bag so quickly and easily.
She learned that directional fabric should always have the top at the zipper. She picked really cute fabric.
Then I taught her two ways to box the corners so it would stand up on its own. To give it some stiffness, we ironed fusible medium weight interfacing onto the wrong side of the outer fabric.

I then made a really skinny folded strip (like double fold bias tape but on the grain), poked it through the hole in the zipper tab and tied a knot. It's a perfect pull tab for the zipper.
After lunch Jen wanted to make a grab bag. She did a great job and learned that clipping the curves makes things lie nice and flat for topstitching.
She only stabbed herself once so a minimum of blood was shed. Here she is proudly showing off her reversible grab bag/project bag.
She went back to the fabric store and bought some more fabric to make more bags. She's on her way!

I had a scrap of Star Trek fabric left over from another project so I made Jen a pincushion for her wrist.
I used two juice can lids and some 25cm elastic. I cut a circle of the yellow fabric and stitched around the edge, inserted one of the metal lids and then pulled on the thread to encircle the lid with fabric, pulling tightly. I cut a larger circle and ran stitches all around its edge. This time, I stuffed it firmly with fibrefill and then inserted the other lid and encircled it by pulling on the running stitches. I then criss-crossed the stitches to make it really secure.

Using the yellow lid, I cut the elastic to fit around my wrist and added 1/2". I then sewed it into a circular band, zigzag stitching the ends together.

I then glued the two lids together sandwiching the elastic between them and set them between two books to dry. It was really easy and turned out great.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Another Finished Ornament

I've been wanting to finish this ornament for a while. It's from the 2004 Just Cross Stitch Christmas issue. I stitched it last winter when I was in TX. I hunted high and low for styrofoam so I could wrap the stitched piece around the front and the accent fabric around the back but couldn't find any to buy.

Since I had 9mm ribbon to wrap around it, I decided to cut two pieces of 5mm foam core and glue them together, then wrap the fabrics around them. Then cover the edges with the ribbon.
I like that the beads of the notes are actual beads.

I'm glad I finally found all the things I needed to finish this one.

I'm still trying to decide if I'll participate in the ornament exchange with my embroidery guild and if so, what ornament I'll part with.