Up, Up, and Away

Yesterday, for my birthday, Tim and I went for a ride in a hot air balloon.

Back when I worked in Woodinville, every summer I would see them floating over the valley. Somewhere along the way, I decided it would be a fun thing to experience.

We chose the Sunrise Flight. Both of us tend to wake up quite early, because of work but also we are just naturally inclined that way. So it wasn’t a hardship for us to meet up at 6:00 am.

Before we left the house, we received an email informing us that the ride was a “go.” Sometimes, because of weather, a ride may need to be rescheduled. Lately, smoke from Canadian fires has been a compromising factor.

At the meeting location — the McDonalds in Woodinville — everyone was sorted into three groups and driven out to a field behind the Maltby Cafe where the balloons and gondolas were offloaded and the balloons inflated (not “blown up”).

First, a powerful, gas-operated fan blows air into the balloon. When it is about 80 percent inflated, then two propane burners attached to the gondola were blasted into the balloons to heat the air and cause them to rise.

The gondolas were righted and we all climbed in.

balloon 4

There were three compartments in our gondola — one for the operator with the propane tanks and two for the passengers. Besides us, there were four other adults and one child. More propane was blasted and we took off.

balloon 5balloon 5aballoon 6balloon 7

We were told that you can’t really control what direction the balloon travels in. That is completely subject to the wind. The operator can only make it go up or down, or make it rotate. Sometimes we were above the other balloons, sometimes below.

balloon 8balloon 11

Even though it wasn’t as smoky as it had been earlier in the week, it was still kind of hazy. We did get a glimpse of Mount Rainier, however.

balloon 12a

As we drifted eastward, we ran into some foggy clouds.

balloon 13balloon 14

The clouds got thicker, and we could see the balloon’s shadow.

balloon 15

After about 45 minutes, we were over Cottage Lake, and we headed toward a landing just north of the lake.

balloon 15a

One of the other balloons landed in a different field nearby.

balloon 16

After touchdown, the balloons had to be deflated and everything packed back onto the trailers.

balloon 17

The trip concluded with a champagne toast.


Posted in weekend activities | 3 Comments

My Kind of Florals

Last weekend, I was in Portland, Oregon, for Spring Quilt Market.

In addition to meeting up with several of my freelance clients, I took the opportunity to peruse the new offerings from the various fabric companies with an eye towards what sorts of floral prints they’re debuting.

Late last year, I started piecing Grandmother’s Flower Garden units. After a month or so, I had completed four full motifs and one half-motif.

Now, I have completed 19 full motifs and eight half-motifs. Can you tell that I’m loving it?

When I embarked on this project, I made a rule for myself that I would not use the same fabric twice. I have what I like to think of as a respectable stash of floral fabrics. I’m still sorting through my bin and coming up with pairings that I like, but I can see that I’m not going to have as many as I need, for the size quilt I envision.

Whenever I’m in a fabric store, I look around to see what sorts of florals they have, but it’s been hard to find ones that I like. I purchased a lot of my floral prints several (or many) years ago, and the ones that are available just aren’t the sort I’m looking for.

But that may be changing.

What I saw at Market was encouraging.

Several companies were displaying collections that included prints featuring aspects that appeal to me — all-over designs that are representational of real flowers, either realistically or impressionistically rendered.

These are just the ones that I took pictures of. I also collected several brochures that showed the following:

From Maywood Studio: Aubergine, Chloe, English Countryside, and Emma’s Garden.

From Elizabeth’s Studio: Roses, Tulips, Pansies, and Zinnias.

From Riley Blake: Fruitful Pleasures and Afternoon Picnic.

From Benartex: Midnight Poppies and Lilacs in Bloom.

Some of these are available; others will ship later this year.

I can’t wait!


Posted in fabric, quilting | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Baby on the Brain

Soon after my daughter informed me that she will be delivering my grandchild in October, I started thinking about what wee items I could knit.

Since he/she will be born as the weather is getting colder, first up was a warm hat.

I decided I wanted to make it to have ear flaps and ties, the former because caps don’t always completely cover the ear and the latter because babies sometimes have a propensity to lose things. I can’t begin to count the number of tiny socks, mittens, and shoes that I see on streets and walking paths.

I wanted something non-wool. Even though many wools feel quite soft to the hand, I was concerned that it might be a little itchy and uncomfortable nonetheless. I lucked out when I found some Bamboo Pop. The 50% cotton/50% bamboo felt just right.

Because we don’t know the gender yet, I went with a dark blue.

I perused the internet and Ravelry for a simple, easy-to-knit pattern. Eventually, I found one in one of my knitting books, “Grammy’s Favorite Knits for Baby.” I slightly adapted the hat from the Tricolor Ensemble.

baby hat and sock

When that was done, I printed out a pattern from the Summer 2011 issue of Love of Knitting. I’ve made this twice before, and it is so easy.

The four pieces are all done, just waiting to be sewn together. (I still have about 5 months.)

baby sweater

Lastly, some baby socks or booties for the wee feet.

I looked at a lot of patterns, but many of them seemed a little too complicated, or used short rows — which I suppose I could learn to do, but maybe some other time.

Finally, I found this design by Kate Atherley on Ravelry.

I’ve completed one (see above). I may need to make a second pair (I have plenty of yarn) because I think this first pair is a bit on the large size.

I hope the ribbing on the cuff will help it fit a little more snugly and make it less likely to be kicked off.

Posted in knitting | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Peek into the World My Grandmother Grew Up In

This morning, I was browsing through the email of headlines that I receive from the New York Times every morning.

Mostly I just read the headline, and sometimes the tagline, but usually there’s one or two or three that I will click on to read a little more. Occasionally, I will read the whole article.

There was one such today: “Found Footage Offers a New Glimpse at 1906 San Francisco Earthquake: Nine minutes of newly found footage, restored from an aging film reel that was revealed publicly this weekend, shows the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906.”

My mother’s mother was born in San Francisco in October 1891. When the earthquake hit in April 1906, she was 14-1/2 years old.

Towards the end of the article, it ways, “The recovered film was shown publicly for the first time this weekend in three sold-out shows at the Edison Theater, a century-old venue restored by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum [in Fremont, California], where Mr. Kiehn is a film historian. The movie will be played again in early June at the 1,400-seat Castro Theater during the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

“Mr. Wright said he plans to post at least some of the video online and will keep an archival copy for himself and share another with the Library of Congress.”

Several paragraphs into the article, there is a link to a video, of an 8-1/2 minute silent film shot just a few days BEFORE the earthquake by the same outfit that filmed the post-earthquake footage.

silent film 1

At first, it seemed kind of monotonous. There’s no sound (obviously), and it seems there’s just a whole lot of random activity.

But after a couple of minutes, it became weirdly hypnotic. It is still random, but somehow fascinating.

It must have been shot from the front of a cable car. You can see the tracks in front of the camera, and there is another set of tracks to the left along which other cable cars move in a steady procession in the opposite direction.

silent film 2

Throughout the film, pedestrians jaywalk . . .

. . . and horse-drawn wagons, and automobiles veer in and out of the frame, crisscrossing left to right and right to left.


At one point, a boy runs along ahead of the cable car.

silent 11

As the film progresses, the Ferry Building straight ahead comes into clearer view. About halfway through, an electric trolley rolls through.

silent 17

Toward the end, a couple of multi-passenger conveyances drawn by two horse come into view.

silent 5

The film ends when the cable car reaches the turnaround at the end of the line and gets ready to head back the way it came.

silent 18

Posted in film, history | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Sweater at the End of the Tunnel

It’s been almost three years since I purchased the kit to make this sweater.

Ana sweater

I last posted about it in November 2016.

After joining the side seams, it sat for awhile. A few months ago, I knit the ribbing for the sleeves.

Then it sat some more.

Last weekend, I picked it up again to knit the ribbing for the bottom band.

purple sweater

To get a nice bind-off on the ribbing, I consulted by big book of cast ons and bind offs. In the index, it’s listed as an elastic bind off, but I found that to be not-so-true. So I’m just binding off pretty loosely.

After the bottom band is done, then I will knit the front and back top bands, sew the side seams, and I’ll be done.

It should only take another year or two . . .

Posted in knitting | Tagged | Leave a comment

My Favorite Fabric

I bought this fabric back in the late ’80s, I think.

favorite fabric

I don’t remember how much I bought, maybe a yard or two. There’s not much left — just two pieces, one about 9″ x 20″, the other about 5-1/2″ x 7″.

I bought it, along with some other fabric, to make a sampler quilt. I did make a number of blocks. I may have sewn them together into a top, but I’m not sure.

Even though I really liked this fabric — and still do — I wasn’t thrilled with the blocks. This was early in my quiltmaking, and I think that the other fabrics I chose for the blocks weren’t a good fit, or I hadn’t used this fabric to best effect.

Eventually, I donated the blocks to a quilt group to make into a quilt for charity.

But every time I sift through my bin of floral prints, this one never fails to catch my eye.

I cut into it sparingly. This weekend, I cut out some hexagons and half-hexagons for a Grandmother’s Flower Garden block.




Posted in flowers, quilting | 1 Comment

My New Obsession Part 2

I am so into English paper piecing!

Here’s what I’ve done so far.

Plus I’ve prepped the pieces for 3 or 4 more, which involves cutting out the hexagons or half-hexagons and gluing them to the paper templates.

It’s fun going through my bin of floral fabrics, and picking out complementary pairs. Sometimes, there’s not enough to make a whole rosette. So then I will just make a half rosette, because I will need some of those too.

I keep my thread, snips, and the pieces I’m currently sewing together in the kitchen. It’s so convenient to work on them while my husband makes dinner, or while I’m waiting for him to text me that he’s on the bus and it’s time for me to drive over to pick him up at the transit center.

I’ve also been working on them while binge-watching episodes, starting from the beginning, of “How I Met Your Mother” or the current season of “Grace and Frankie” on my iPad.

Last week, I had a couple days off in a row, and it was very rainy, and I didn’t have any freelance work to otherwise occupy my time, and I might have overdone it. Since then, my left index finger has been a little twingy from gripping the pieces.

To help remedy the problem, I’ve been wearing on my left thumb and index finger these little finger splints that I purchased in 2014, originally to wear when I hand-quilt.

Posted in quilting | Tagged | 2 Comments