God's Canvas

God's Canvas
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.~~John 15:13

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer's here, I'm knitting socks, and there's a pattern here for a baby hat!

It is so hard to realize just how quickly time passes...that is, until I check my blog and see how long it's been since I last updated a post.  Yikes!  One might think that retirement would lend more time for keeping a blog post current, but oh no.  Not this "one" anyway!  Of course, I spend a lot of time being sedentary because my body betrays me, but my mind is as active as always!

One of the things that has kept me extremely busy for the past eight months is the injury of my parrot, Quillie.  He lost the toes from his right leg on November 13th, 2010, finally came home and then suffered a severe infection in his "good" leg about 12 weeks later.  This involved countless trips to the vet's office, which was 100 miles round-trip, sometimes for several consecutive days.  It was not only exhausting, but took its toll physically most of the time rendering me too tired to sit at the computer for the long period of time I need to adequately blog as I wish.  I am thrilled to report that Quillie has made a complete recovery and is fully back up to baseline.  He has adjusted beautifully to the loss of his little toes and is happy, healthy and well-adjusted.

Undoubtedly, summer is here with a vengeance!  The heat index at our house today was 105 degrees.  Yesterday, a trip to the grocery store at around three o'clock left me wilted into a puddle (and I NEVER sweat!) and totally exhausted.  There's something about this kind of heat and humidity, coupled with being in my 50's, that completely depletes whatever energy I might have left at that hour of any given day.

Whatever the summer heat steals from me is beautifully replenished by the loveliness of my garden and the birds of spring whose families are growing and showing new adult plumage daily.  Baby feathers are now replaced with the full regalia on the Cardinals, their big eyes now surrounded by brilliant red feathers and black masks.  There is a young family of four visiting our feeders every day, nearly all day.  So precious.  I even have a purple finch this year who is enjoying the syrup from the hummingbird feeder just as much as the hummers are!  They are so cute and sweet, and such a splended reminder of how good God is to me in the unexpected as well as the "norm."

This summer, I broke down and replaced a beloved Hibiscus I'd lost three summers ago with a new braided Hibiscus this year--a sort of tropicana color, rich in orange/red hues.  When it first landed in my garden, I thought my former misfortune would be repeated because the leaves began to turn yellow and dropped like confetti almost immediately.  I was apparently over-watering it.  So, I backed off with the watering and fed it Miracle Grow...it is gorgeous, having celebrated its beauty yesterday with four blooms at once!

It is full of budding promise and I am enjoying its beauty immensely! 

I always enjoy a hanging basket in the flower bed in front of our house and it's full of pink petunias and fuschia-colored verbena--so sweet and soft in its presentation.  Every day, I enjoy the process of dead-heading the petunias and other plants, affording me a piece of gardening in lieu of what I'd really love to spend hours doing if only my body would comply.  Any amount still brings me peace.

Each year, it seems the winter reduces my 15-year-old Peace Lily to a nub, so I routinely must attempt to resuscitate it in a new pot with new potting soil with great results.  This year was no exception, but the difference is that I covered the "nubs" of peace lily with Vinca and Celosia....beautiful!  I fight to keep the Peace Lily alive because it was given to me by a dear friend when my grandfather transitioned into Heaven and I do cherish it so.  The Peace Lily is alive under the flowers you see below.

I also have a Bleeding Heart (cuttings from my friend, Faye) that are on the south side of my house (no photo).  My trusty front porch planter maintains its spot with Vinca and Marigolds.

I haven't been spending ALL of my time on a sofa.  I've found a wonderful lady, Carol,  a sister in Christ who knits, quilts, sews and crochets.  She is teaching me to knit socks, and it's so exciting to think that I could possibly learn such a feat (no pun intended, regardless of the spelling).  This project has been on my "bucket list" for years.   Thus far, I have learned how to do a provisional cast on and knit the socks from the toe up on two circular needles (no DPN's), which affords me the opportunity of sizing the sock as I go.  This is especially helpful because of the swelling in one foot over the other.  I will soon have a pair of custom made socks by none other than myself.  Exciting...at least to me!  As the socks progress, I will post more photos and current updates.  If my friend, Carol, permits me to, I will post her pattern for you upon my completion of the socks.

I had a lot of graduates this year, so I made purses for the females.  I really enjoyed making these very simple yet cute little clutches!

The above, bluish-colored bag was made out of Raffia, flower and all.  I made the flowers so that they are detachable via a pin on the back of them.  This is easier for laundering and having the option of wearing the flower on a garment.  I lined the bags with 100% cotton fabric and put a pocket in some of them.  It was a lot of fun, and I will definitely keep that pattern near my sewing table!

I have dear friends in Lake Junaluska, NC and his mother broke her hip recently.  She just now was able to return home, so I made a walker caddy for her to tie to her walker for the convenience of carrying her things wherever she goes.  This was made with denim fabric and lined with a nice floral print, and the flowers were made from Raffia with pins on the back for easy removal and laundering.

My above-mentioned friend, Carol, recently began a knitting and crocheting group called "Chicks with Sticks," and we gather together every Tuesday night for the sole purpose of making items for charities.  We are making hats, scarves, and fingerless gloves and mittens for the local homeless shelter in Kingsland with plans to reach out to other organizations in the future.  On July 5th, Carol shared a precious knitted baby hat which she was given from a lady at her church.  It was so sweet and yet simple, and left such an impression on me.  My mission for last weekend was to learn how she did this, so with the collaboration of other patterns on line, I figured out how to knit the hat.  Now, don't faint, but I am including the pattern (finally after over a year of promises) for the hat.  I truly hope you enjoy making it and, if you have questions don't hesitate to contact me.

Straight needle baby hat with garter stitch cuff

Size: 10” circumference
Sport Weight (or baby) yarn, ¾ oz.
Size 8 knitting needles (or size required for gauge)
Darning needle to sew seam
Gauge: 20 sts = 4” in Stockinette St

Cuff: Cast on 48 stitches. Work one inch in garter stitch.
Row 1 (right side): Knit
Row 2 (wrong side): Purl
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until piece measures 5” from cast on edge, ending with a wrong side (purl) row.
To Shape Top:
Row 1: *K2tog, K2; rep from * across: 36 stitches
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: *K2tog, K2; rep from * across: 27 stitches
Row 4: Purl
Row 5: *K2tog, K1; rep from * across: 18 stitches
Row 6: Purl
Row 7: K2tog across: 9 stitches.

Finishing: Cut yarn leaving long end.  Thread yarn into darning needle and draw through remaining stitches on needle at top of hat. Draw up tightly and fasten off securely, tucking in ends.  Sew side seam of hat. Turn up cuff if desired.

I know I've shared health issues in the past, but I don't enjoy dwelling on that subject.  However, I feel it important that you know I am having foot and ankle surgery on July 21st and may be incapacitated for a while.  A complete recovery takes 18 months and I must be non-weight bearing and in a cast for a minimum of four months.  I know the Lord will see me through this and I look forward to feeling better at the end of the recovery and able to do more things in my daily life and ministry for Jesus.

Until next time, be blessed and to God be the glory!

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.  I Thessalonians 4:11-12

Thursday, March 31, 2011

We make plans...and God just laughs...

I have often said that we make plans and God just laughs. Although I have few followers, there are those who are faithful to continue checking now and then to see if my blog has been updated since...swallow...July of 2010, as I squint my eyes, bunch up my shoulders and let a a huge "sigh!" So much has happened since that time and not much of it has to do with quilting, sewing, knitting and/or crocheting. I am therefore hesitant to share all of the details, for I know you do not visit my blog to read tales of woe, but to be enlightened, to be shown something pretty, and perhaps to maybe...someday... see a free pattern!   I had such designs for the coming fall and winter, especially Christmas, for making this a better blog, but I guess the Lord had other things on the agenda. I will do my best to make you want to return again to read future updates.

There were things on my horizon in July of 2010 that I knew of, but there were also things I didn't see coming. Those are always the things that I believe shape our lives into what they truly are, not always what we would want them to be. When I last posted, I was preparing to undergo a total knee joint replacement in early September, which was very successful but sometimes challenging. The Lord was so precious to me in that He did not allow great pain and suffering, nor did it take me long to get back up on both feet and proceed on with life. I did, however, require much more physical therapy than anticipated and this continued into January of 2011. The first six weeks involved home physical therapy with a wonderful lady whom I miss a great deal. It looks like I'll see her again soon, though, because I'm facing another surgery on my left foot. More--and I promise only a little more--on that later.

On November 13, 2010, it was to our shock and heartbreak that we found our 21-year-old parrot, Quillie, perched and bleeding in his cage. He apparently had caught his foot in something, which we've never been able to determine, and ripped his foot open causing him to lose the toes of his right foot. He was hospitalized for three weeks until early December, as well as intermittently since then several times for a week at a time. His complications have included an infection, which has been quite daunting, in his only good foot, for which he is STILL undergoing treatment. For three solid weeks, I went to see him every day for 100 miles round-trip each time. As many of you know, we live in a remote area of southeast Georgia and most amenities require driving great distances. Those who do not live with parrots do not often know how very relational they are. In their hour of need, they can require the same attention as a two-year-old child on a perpetual basis without demanding a thing other than the most basic of needs, such as eating and being kept clean. Still, this requirement leans heavily on their "person" and the stress can be tough.

Quillie hatched in my hand the day he was born, and I was blessed to be able to hand-feed him into his adult life. He has moved with me from Virginia and made a wonderful transition into life in Georgia. He accepted my husband as his "daddy," although it took him a few months, and seems to be the apple of everyone's eye to include those at the Exotic Bird Hospital in Jacksonville, FL. In fact, I was beginning to feel a little nervous in leaving him there much longer as an in-patient for fear he would be "adopted" by one of the veterinary staff on board! Quillie is quite the celebrity there. He does have a way of wrapping those little "toes" around your heart, I must admit.
Quillie just three days prior to November 13, 2010
As evident, he is a gorgeous little guy and I can tell you that he remains to this day as happy as...well...a lark! While he was found in shock and had nearly bled to death, he recovered enough in just three days after we prayed and trusted the Lord for his life, to the point where he was responding to us by dancing and chirping. It was not our desire to see him suffer, nor did we wish him to have any less a quality of life than he had lived his 20 years leading up to that fateful date. The vets kept assuring us that Quillie would be none the worse for the wear and that he would adapt to and adopt his new way of life as though nothing had happened. They were right! Quillie required about a week and a half of recovery before surgery could be done to remove the already necrotic toes of his right foot. He tolerated the surgery quite well and we visited him faithfully, finding him improved a little each time as we prayed and trusted God with his life.

Quillie post surgery
Quillie wore an Elizabethan collar for several weeks after the injury for fear he would chew at his surgical site. When the collar was finally removed and he was allowed freedom, he showed no signs of chewing at his wounds and was released home to us. We took him back for several post-op visits and he was seemingly fine.

On Valentine's Day 2011, we awoke to blood spattered all over his cage. Again, the fear that gripped our hearts was gargantuan! We rushed him in to see the vet. Come to find out, the blood was coming from his "good" foot where he had knocked the callous off the foot while climbing all over his cage. Further examination revealed a very bad infection in the foot. Back to square one. He has been on antibiotics since then, three of them oral, and one intramuscular--yes--that's two shots daily into his breast muscle. What an amazing trooper he has been! He is now down to one oral antibiotic and several other medications for inflammation and pain, and maintainence of his good blood count (at least the red blood cells for now are good). We are looking forward to another full recovery for Quillie and pray that God will restore a quality of life to him that will render him a happy little guy once more!

Quillie being hand-fed his favorite formula!
We have trusted the Lord with him thus far, and we'll continue to do the same until such time as Quillie is fully healed and leading a happy and normal life. Many of my blog readers and friends, family, etc., have prayed for Quillie and us as we've walked this path, and we are eternally grateful to all of you for it! God bless you!

As you can imagine, Christmas was a solemn time for us and we just sort of stayed close to home and praised the Lord for His birth and for the re-birth of our little bird. I did make one thing I adored and enjoyed very much for our Christmas tree. I try to make a hand-made ornament every year for our tree.  I crocheted a sweater and made a hanger for it as well.

As far as other needlework is concerned, I am honing up on my knitting skills a little more this year, while trying to meet the requests of those who have asked for things to be made for Easter, or just in general. I knit a lot of dishcloths for our church basket ministry and try to sew a few things here and there for that as well. I have studied, whenever possible, Elizabeth Zimmerman's teachings and writings and also received a gorgeous set of knitting needles that are interchangeable for Christmas! What a delight to never have to worry about going to Michael's in Jacksonville or on line for every knitting project. I have the perfect size needles at my fingertips! I also decided to try and spin my own yarn, so this year I received a beautiful spindle with which I have managed to muddle through some Alpaca wool. I haven't yet plied the yarn, and that's the next step. I haven't really had adequate time to sit and do this properly, so I'm not really investing in the time as I would like to right now. I have too many other priorities at the present time to pursue this as thoroughly as I'd like.

Two commission scarves and the spindle (right)

I had been working on three commissioned scarves (two are above) when Quillie first had his accident, which really slowed me down, but I finally finished them. The one on the far left has pompoms for "fringe" and the middle scarf was made with the Noro yarn that I fell in love with. The spindle is to the far right and there's a little Alpaca wool to the right of the spindle. I think I will find spinning as comforting as knitting...no doubt!

My other projects have been few, but I have a few photos of them. My sister asked me to make a sweater set for a little baby girl (left). I also about that time finished up a little purple dress for our basket ministry.

I did manage to get a few other miscellaneous items done in the meantime, most of them crocheted.

Baby boy ensemble

Baby girl bootie
I am going to be having major foot surgery soon and will be non-weight bearing for a minimum of three months. I dread this, but it must be done or I may not be walking much longer. This is why I have done so many small projects and no quilting. I cannot stand to bear weight for long periods of time. I am praying that I will be able to quilt again in the coming years, for I miss it dearly!

I do have a few projects to finish on commission and then I plan on knitting a pair of socks. I've located a lovely lady through a website called http://www.betterfly.com/ which helps connect people looking for help in several areas to include knitting, crocheting, or even piano lessons, etc.  I highly recommend it to you! It is very user-friendly. You simply type in your interest(s), and then your zipcode, and...voila!...you are in touch with those in close proximity to you having those skills.   If only birdie toes were available on that site...I would surely conjure up a pair for my Quillie!