Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday Tangle - Diva's Challenge #28

We think we're getting better at this. OK, so that's subjective. After we scanned this little beauty we of course had ideas of how we might add to it or edit it but, guess what? It's good enough! Lesson for today .... Good enough'll do! See this Zentangle® blog post for more on that philosophy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Midsummer Night - Illustration Friday

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

Who says romance is only for the young?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tangling Tuesday ... on Wednesday

The Diva's challenge this week was a doozey for beginners like us. Weekly Challenge #27 is a "Duo-Tangle". We're supposed to limit ourselves to only 2 patterns....dex and verdigogh....both completely new to us. But, hey!, we're brave! We gave it our best shot and after a couple of false starts ...

and for this one we wondered "what if" the fern pattern poked through the grid pattern ...

The funny thing is that even when we think the outcome is still a long way from some of the amazing Zentangles we've seen on other blogs, it's still a whole lot of fun.

Breaking ALL the rules with the February Lady Sweater

Apologies to all the non-knitters.
This is a very geeky post, heavy with knit-speak
but wildly compelling to all those of us who understand the lingo.
 Trust us. Simply riveting.

Everyone else should just admire the pretty pictures.

We need a sweet white cropped cardigan to wear to an outdoor wedding next month. We considered a shawl but shawls can sometimes be difficult to hang onto. Nope, a cardigan is what we need. We also want something light and lacey. Something that's going to fit....like the February Lady Sweater. But the FLS is made of worsted weight wool and we wanted something lighter. We also don't expect to wear this more than a couple of times. Tops.

We had our Eureeeeka! moment when we read that acrylic yarn isn't necessarily off-limits for lace knitting. We were really excited to read about killing the acrylic without reducing it to a melted mess. It really can be done. So, off we went to the nearest WalMart and bought the stuff that most knitters wouldn't kick out of their way for such a project ..... We bought Bernat Softee Baby which is a sport weight ... fully washable .... and intended for baby wear.  Less than 10 bucks and an easy knit.

We used the February Lady Sweater that we knit previously as a guide and knit a swatch of the garter stitch and of the lace pattern. We "killed" the swatches (more info to follow) and used that as a guide for how many stitches to cast on.

Because this is for a very special occasion, we wanted to knit in some beads. We went with red ones (to match the dress underneath) a couple of rows before the lace starts with a bead centred over each lace repeat. Simple.

We had one reservation about the FLS after we finished our first one and that is that it has the fly-away front that tends to make us pear-shaped ladies look even more....well....pear-shaped. We devised a plan for this, too. Each pattern of the Gull Lace begins and ends with a knit stitch and that means there is  the perfect opportunity to insert a purl stitch that is hardly seen but will increase the circumference of the skirt of the sweater. We calculated we needed about 6 extra stitches and we figured out where to place them strategically so that when we got to the place (a couple of inches below the bustline) where we wanted to begin the increases, we just made an extra stitch on the 4th row of the lace stitch pattern .... the wrong side row. This works REALLY well and is hardly noticeable. We marked one of them in green in this photo.

We cropped the body and sleeves a little. Making it even quicker to knit than the original. Genius!

Next came the "killing". This part was a little nerve-wracking. Once killed, it can never be revived so you have to make sure it's blocked exactly as you want it before you steam it. On the upside, it shouldn't need reblocking after washing as wool garments do. The best reference we found is BeadKnitter Gallery. We went slowly and did it in stages becoming ever more aggressive until we were happy with it. In this photo you can see how we have it pinned out on the ironing board with the wrong side up and you can clearly see the increases.

Grandma Coco is counting this one as a victory!!

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

Remember .... We are not sheep. We do not need to follow the herd (or the rules!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

IF: Launch

No chit.
No chat.
Not even a smile today.

Watercolour pencil crayons and ink.
Tiny. A page from our 5 X 5 inch moleskin.

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

What do we do when our mind is whirling? 
We draw,
we knit endless scarves with 4 row repeats,
we hand quilt,
we write poetry,
we ...

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

You can tell it's a very whirly day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Turn that frown upside down Thursday

Are you in need of a chuckle this fine morning? Is the work week crawling by too slowly? Got a Stanley Cup hangover and feeling blue (not so much because Vancouver lost but because we apparently have so many losers living there .... come on! .... burning cars, looting stores, stabbing people .... over a GAME!!) Grandma Coco has something (from the vault) to lift your spirits.

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 1996-2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tangling Tuesday Again

Still fascinated by Zentangles®. As in most things, we're autodidacts (meaning self-taught). We learn by researching and reading, trial and error. We've discovered Zentangling is meant to be done without too much thought and as we've mentioned before, we are heavy-duty over-thinkers. That might explain why we have found it surprisingly difficult to get into this Zentangle® craze. It's the sheer appeal of other people's tangles that has made us so tenacious. So, without further ado, here are our responses to the Diva's current challenge ....Challenge #26 Tangle A Spiral.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A full mailbox inspite of the strike

After all the bad things we've been thinking about Canada Post this past week while we waited for deliveries that we were sure would never arrive (due to the on-going strike), today we're happy to announce the arrival of not one but TWO long-awaited items!! (Isn't that always the way.....either feast or famine!!)

First of all we received an absolutely beautiful fabric postcard from our pal Monika Kinner-Whalen who is one of those people whose enthusiasm for life and art is infectious. She's one of the influences that got us started on these postcards in the first place!! We were so thrilled to see her postcard is one of her prairie landscapes....so distinctive in their style that you recognize her work the minute you see it. Thank you, Monika!!

Summer Road Trip Postcard by Monika Kinner-Whalen
We considered having Mr. Coco hold the card for a photo but alas, he's not nearly as photogenic as Monika's little one ....although he has been known to whine "Are we there yet?" when we travel. (Neither he nor Grandma Coco are very keen travellers.)

Monika's postcard brought back memories of the summer of 1966 when Grandma Coco was but a kid-size captive in the back of the family car travelling across Canada on a 6-week trip that was intended to be "educational" according to our mother. We remember crossing the prairies in a blur of nausea, due to the heat and lack of air conditioning. We know we shouldn't let that memory colour our impressions of the Canadian prairies and seeing Monika's postcard now, we really think we ought to have another look at the place. Maybe someday!

The second item was the Summer 2011 issue of Quilter's Connection Magazine which contains a feature written about....US!! We're the "everyday quilter" in the Show & Tell section of this issue. WooHoo! How exciting! We are (modestly) going to rave about the magazine now so skip this part if you like. You've been warned. It's beautifully laid out with lots of photos and everything is bright and fresh. Lots of patterns, and lots of news about quilting in Canada. We haven't read it through yet....we were in such a hurry just to announce it had arrived! However, we did notice that Monika has a quilt pictured in it, too. Right there on page 51, Simple Blocks = Stunning Quilts. Monika is everywhere!!

The magazine features a pencil drawing we did that we've never exhibited before. So, in honour of that milestone, we thought we'd publish it here as well. The Quilting Bee.
Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011
If you ever get the urge to swap fabric postcards, Grandma Coco suggests you check out Post Card Cottage. We're having a lot of fun over there.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tangled Tuesday - Weekly Challenge #25 - Zendala Magic

We haven't designated particular days for particular posts like we've seen on other blogs but we like the idea. There's a nice predictablitity to a designated day. Grandma Coco therefore proclaims that today will be a Tangled day whether we manage to continue to tangle on Tuesdays or not.

We have mentioned that we're fascinated with Zentangles® and now we've discovered Zendalas courtesy of Geneviève Crabe who is guest hosting this week's challenge for The Diva . We're not totally sure if we're even on the right track, but we're having fun. Geneviève provided a template and everyone can decorate it as he/she sees fit. So, this is what fits us...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shadows and Contagion!

Look what's lurking in the shadows ...
Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

Everywhere you look people are falling ill with a new sickness.
We thought we were strong and ate well and got lots of sleep
but it turns out, we're not immune after all.

There is no vaccine, no medicine, no cure.
We are hopelessly, terminally afflicted with a terrible case of .......


Our first shareable Zentangle ®.  (But not our last.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A smile for our knitting buddies

 Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2005 - 2011

Somewhere between the burning of Atlanta
and "Frankly, Scarlett...",
Sophie's dishcloth became a scarf.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What do we call appliqué, if it's done with paper?

4 x 6 inches - Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011
We had an extra idea left over from the Summer Road Trip postcard swap. To paraphrase the slogan of the United Negro College Fund, an idea is a terrible thing to waste! What to do with it? We decided to play with some collaged illustrations made from glossy magazine pages. As always, we learned a lot. We used a glue stick to layer all the paper pieces in place but we only tacked them lightly. Next time, we would glue them down completely using the mod podge stuff that we covered the surface with. That brings us to the 2nd thing learned.....one soooper-doooper layer of mod podge is NOT superior to many thin layers. Next time, we'll know better. And there WILL be a next time because this was beyond fun!

Grandma Coco has added glossy magazines to the list of things she's scrounging.....just sayin'.........

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Solar Cookery 101

 You know how when it gets really hot
 people talk about it being so hot
you can fry an egg on the sidewalk?

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

Well, lately at Casa Coco, we've been obsessed with the idea of cooking food by harnessing the sun. We don't actually fry on the sidewalks. Frankly, that doesn't seem very hygienic, does it? We have something else in mind. Think about how hot it gets in your car on a sunny day and you'll have some idea of the potential of the sun for cooking. (It's also a good lesson in remembering how vulnerable kids and animals are in closed cars ... even for a few minutes.)

First of all, you need a day like this one .....

And then you need a homemade solar cooker like this one that Mr. Coco made for us. It's sort of a coffin-like contraption, insulated around the sides and ideally lined with something black. We used fabric because there's lots of that around here. Ours has 2 pieces of plate glass (quite thick) to lie on top and completely cover the top of the box. There shouldn't be any gaps because then your heat will escape. Don't make the mistake of insulating with styrofoam like we did at first. We had trouble imagining how much heat could be generated and the styrofoam simply melted in spots. We have a layer of pink fibreglass in there now.

Here's the set-up with the box on our deck and all the mirrors arranged to concentrate the sun's rays. There is actually a mirror on both hinged pieces (front and back).We found some of them at GoodWill and some we scrounged. One was a gift from S&S who knew what we were up to and found a great one at a garage sale. It's important not to spend any money on this solar cooker because then everything you cook tastes better! :) As the sun moves in the sky, remember to adjust the mirrors so the light is reflected right onto your food.

So, you've got the cooker set up. What to cook? Well, on Tuesday we made Vegetable Biryani, an Indian dish made with rice. We put it together around noon hour and we think it was probably cooked by about 4 pm. Our deck gets a little shady by then so we just left the cooker closed and the trapped heat kept the food hot until we ate it at 5. (That's one of the downsides of solar cooking....You're really on the sun's schedule not your own.....No sun, no hot food.)

Cooked Vegetable Biryani & Asparagus

Vegetable Biryani Ready To Go in the Solar Cooker

As well, we cooked fresh asparagus from the garden. This time, we put some water in a clean, tall glass jar and put the lid on loosely. That went in the cooker around 2 o'clock and by 3 it was definitely right around the boiling point. We took off the lid and put in the asparagus and it was well cooked (maybe a little TOO cooked) by the time we ate.

We have done scallopped potatoes in a covered dark-coloured glass casserole, rice and oatmeal in glass jars, potatoes and carrots in glass jars (with very little water). Basically anything you'd put in a slow cooker you could cook this way but I'm wary of meat. There's no sense poisoning yourself even if it is in the name of science.

Cakes bake really well! Especially dark battered cakes like gingerbread and chocolate because the dark attracts the heat. Cookies are possible. Granola! We have also made pizza! Just heat up a cast-iron pan in there first and slide the pizza in place.

We are having lots of fun discovering what's possible with our cooker. There are only a few things to be careful about. First, the reflected light is powerful and you have to be cautious about your eyes. Good sunglasses are important. Second, even though this is our 3rd year playing with the cooker, it's still very hard to remember that it really does get hot! Keep your potholders handy.

Here in the Kingdom of Coco, solar cookery will never replace the electric stove. However, during the summer, when we get a perftect solar cooking day, it's lots of fun!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A New-fangled Double Wedding Ring

Double Wedding Ring Made Easy Workshop Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

It's time for another in-depth report from the Nosey Nelly News' Intrepid Reporter Grandma Coco. Always on the prowl for a hot tip, she got a sizzler from Nan, the Marketing Director at The Quilt Pattern Magazine. The June issue of the magazine is out! And one of the features this month is a workshop put together by our very own Cheryl.

GC: Cheryl, you’re usually such a Shrinking Violet on this blog. Tell us what your workshop is all about.

C: Well, Grandma Coco, I really don’t think I shrink so much as I’m overshadowed but, since you asked….It’s an innovative way to make a Double Wedding Ring Quilt, one block at a time, quilting it as we go. I’ve always loved the Double Wedding Ring but the traditional approach is very fussy and precise.

GC: Hmmm….those aren’t words I’d use to describe you.

C: True! One morning as I was waking up, it hit me that there’s an easier way to go about it. Quilt-as-you go! With foundation piecing AND freezer paper appliqué. Easy peasey! The workshop is in 6 parts starting this month in The Quilt Pattern Magazine.

GC: Cool! What’s this month’s part about?

C: This month, the introduction, is all about gathering your supplies and getting ready. The whole workshop is broken down into manageable parts, so that step by step, we’ll go from the basic block to more exciting variations. If you follow along, you can end up making a complete crib-sized quilt…..not just a quilt top you’ll have to quilt later. No. A completely (some might say painlessly) quilted baby quilt. 

GC: Sounds intriguing. How do we get started?

C: Just head on over to The Quilt Pattern Magazine and set up a subscription. It's an online magazine so there's no delay, no waiting for the mail man. You'll get the June issue and everything you need to know is right there in the magazine. You can work on the workshop at your own pace and on your own schedule.

GC: Is there anything else you`d like to mention?

C: Yes, actually, once you’ve subscribed to The Quilt Pattern Magazine, you can join Pattern Pastiche which is a social group for subscribers to the magazine where quilters can make friends and show off photos of their quilts. There’s a discussion group set up especially for the Double Wedding Ring Made Easy workshop.  I’ll be hanging around there, listening in and ready to help if there are any questions. But  the workshop is really an exploration. There are so many variations on the basic Double Wedding Ring, I’ll be very interested to hear what the workshoppers come up with in terms of suggestions and innovations of their own. The workshop is a stepping off point. I fully expect once quilters get going, we’ll see an explosion of creativity.

GC: So, that’s the scoop on The Double Wedding Ring Made Easy Workshop. Remember folks, Coco knows! And now, so do you.