Friday, December 18, 2009

Summer Vacation Part 3

Bob Shotten of Wrexham, North Wales gave me the next two threads. I worked on this one shortly after boarding the train for the return trip. I started it near Mendota, Illinois and finished before coming into La Junta, Colorado. The thread is Rubi Size 10. The pattern is from the April 1963 Workbasket. The pattern called for a tie and cut between each element. I tried to rework it so I wouldn't have to do that, but my first attempt didn't come out quite right as you can see. My second attempt did a little better, but it involved doing a lot of split chain work over several lengths between isolated rings. I finally gave up and called it good.

This piece was started after a brief stop in La Junta, Colorado and finished near Lamy, New Mexico. The thread is Oren Bayen Size 20 The pattern is from the February 1963 Workbasket.

This is one of my older threads. I got it from Georgia Seitz during the 2008 IOLI in Rockford, Illinois and finally got around to using it. It is Lizbeth Size 20 Color 120. The pattern is from the May 1982 Workbasket and I tatted it from Lamy, New Mexico to Gallup, New Mexico.

In contrast to our trip east on the train, the trip back west was running about 3 1/2 hours behind schedule. Just outside of Kansas City, Missouri, one of the coach cars developed an overheated bearing and had to be dropped off. I didn't really mind too much. Rather than waking up at a really early hour to get off the train in Fullerton at 6:00 am, John and I were able to eat a leisurely breakfast before detraining.

Would we take the train again? If time is not an issue - absolutely. It was very relaxing, we saw a lot of the countryside, and there was no security to deal with. There were a few downsides, though. The shower only stays on for 2 seconds after you push the button, so the water never got warm. Also, during the night, they crank the speed up to close to 90MPH, so you feel every bump and rattle from the tracks. I finally had to knock myself out with some antihistamine to get some sleep. Otherwise the bunks were very comfortable. The food in the dining car would compare favorably with what you’d get at a chain restaurant. The food wasn't the same quality that you would get on a cruise ship, but it was better than you could get at a Denny’s and the deserts were great.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Summer Vacation Part 2

We arrived in Naperville, Illinois, Monday afternoon. The motel we were staying at was great. They sent a van the train station for us, then took us back to the station Tuesday morning so we could take a trip into Chicago and see the sights.

Our first stop in Chicago was the Field Museum. Actually, it was our only stop; we spent the whole day there and probably saw less than half of it. We're planning to go back some day and finish up. We did have a bit of a misadventure on our return trip to Naperville; we got on the wrong express train (right line, it just didn't stop in Naperville) so we had to get off at Lisle (the stop before Naperville) and wait a bit for a milk run commuter train to take us the rest of the way. Come to find out later from our hotel shuttle driver that he could have picked us up at the Lisle station just as easily.

Wednesday was the beginning of the Windjammers Summer Meet. Each day from Wednesday to Friday we attended six hour rehearsals and recording sessions in the motel ballroom (with a good break for lunch). I discovered at the end of the day that I really shouldn't have forgotten my glucosamine. The fingers of my left hand (the French horn is a left handed instrument) were pretty stiff. Surprisingly, while my lips had a pleasant tingle, they didn’t feel like jelly.

The music consisted of a variety of different pieces that were used through golden era of the circus. Some were the obvious circus classics, others were more obscure pieces that had been written by the great circus composers.. The publishing dates ranged from the late 1800's to the 1940's. What I didn’t know was that often the circus band would play what was called "The Center Ring Concert" before the show actually started. These pieces consisted of the popular music of the day or common dance tunes. In all, we played 80 pieces during those three days.

On Thursday evening, we drove downtown to hear the a concert by the Naperville Municipal Band. This also gave us a look at where we would be playing on Saturday. The concert facility was wonderful. The city built a dual-purpose rehearsal hall/concert pavilion at the edge of the central park. The whole side of the rehearsal hall opens upward to form a stage that fronts an open air ampitheater. The acousitcs of the stage are fantastic. On the stage, you can hear from one side of the band to the other, and from the audience, you can hear everything, with minimal amplification.

This is a picture of the facility.
The mural you see is actually
the big door for the stage.

Friday evening was a banquet at the local vets hall. A small Dixieland combo made up of Windjammer members provided the after dinner entertainment.

We had some free time Saturday after a morning rehearsal, so John and I decided to see what the DuPage County Fair was like. It was a very small fair, about the size of the Imperial County Fair in California. There were the usual things you'd find at a fair; the one thing we'd never seen before were the duck races (we've seen turkeys race, but not ducks). I didn't find any tatting or bobbin lace in the crafts, just the usual crochet and knitting.

The big concert Saturday night was almost cancelled. A band of rain came through right when we were supposed to start playing. The organizer said that we would wait about five minutes and see how things went. At the end of five minutes, the rain had passed so they opened up the wall/door. The people of Naperville are a resilient bunch when it comes to summer rain (after all, it's just part of life in the midwest). Quite a few just settled under their umbrellas and others retreated to their cars and waited for the rain to pass. By the end of the concert, we had a pretty good crowd listening to us.

The concert went well. We even had a ringmaster, all dressed up and in full cry. One bad thing about the great acoustics… his whistle was ear-splitting.

Sunday was a day to say goodbye to everyone over breakfast, then back on to the train for the trip home.

I do need to say something about the hotel we were in. It was the Holiday Inn in Naperville, and the staff was just wonderful. We had the doors of the ballroom open while we rehearsed and I think they enjoyed listening to us from the lobby. Aside from running John and me back and forth to the train depot several times, they also provided transportation to and from the concerts and the banquet. One of the evenings a small combo of Windjammers set up in the hotel bar, and the staff brought out extra chairs for the rest of us who were hanging around listening to them. If we go back to the Chicago area, we would probably make this hotel a home base for our stay.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Summer Vacation Part 1

The majority of the thread exchange tatting I did this summer was during a train trip I took with my husband, John, from Fullerton, California to Naperville, Illinois. The trip itself was about forty hours (two nights) each way aboard Amtrak's Southwest Chief. Of course I didn't tat the entire forty hours. I took time out to eat, sleep, nap, read, and a few other things. For the fun of it, I did make note of where along the route I started and ended each motif, or at least my nearest guess.

The actual purpose for the trip was to attend a Windjammer's Unlimited Convention. The Windjammers are a group of people dedicated to the playing and preservation of traditional Circus Music (, in case you're curious).

We could have flown in except that John won’t trust his trombone to airline baggage handlers. My French horn will fit in an overhead compartment, but his trombone would have to be checked. Taking the train ensured that the only person who would lay a hand on his trombone was him.

John and I boarded the train Saturday evening in Fullerton, California. I didn't get any tatting done that evening, though. After settling into our sleeper, we went to dinner, then unwound from the hectic days leading up to our trip by just watching the desert landscape go by in the twilight.

I started this piece sometime before I started on my vacation. I didn't finish it 'til somewhere around the Arizona/New Mexico state line. Valery Stewart from Scott City, Kansas gave it to me. It is YLI Silk Floss. I used 3 strands of the floss. The pattern is from the January, 1992 Workbasket.

Margaret Boos from London, Ontario, Canada gave me this thread. I worked on it from Gallup, New Mexico to Las Vegas, New Mexico. The thread is Altin Baesk, size 50. The color is number 365. This pattern is also from the January, 1992 Workbasket.

As a side note, the train arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico early. Albuquerque is the longest stop on the route, but rather than the usual half hour or so, we had an hour and a half. That gave us an opportunity to walk into the old part of Albuquerque and look around a bit. The local historical society has done a wonderful job of putting pictorial plaques on the buildings that either described what the existing building started as or, if the original building had been replaced, what it was and what it looked like.

Margaret also gave me this thread. It is Valdani Size 12, color number 0541. The pattern is from the July 1978 Workbasket. It was tatted between Las Vegas, New Mexico and La Plata, Missouri.

Between La Plata, Missouri and Fort Mason, Iowa, I worked on this thread from Bonnie Peters of Casadagy New York. It is Omega Size 30 and the pattern is from the July 1982 Workbasket.

The last thread I worked on for the trip east was this Flora in size 10, also from Bonnie Peters. I started it in Fort Mason, Iowa and finished it at Mendota, Illinois. The pattern is from the March 1961 Workbasket.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My old dog Winnie(Winnefred) died last night. She was 10 1/2 years old (average for a bulldog). My husband, John, and I think she had a heart attack.

The poor girl was on a lot of meds this past year, so this really was not a surprise. Last summer she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and Cushing's Disease. She also had to have a bladder stone removed. John and I decided at that time that if anything more happened, we would just let her go. We were giving her a pill to keep the crystals down in her urine, a blood pressure med, a beta blocker, Melatonin for the Cushing's Disease, as well as an antibiotic for a never ending eyelid infection.

The last thing Winnie did was her most favorite thing in the whole world. Go for a ride. When we leashed up our other dog, Sadie, Winnie found enough strength to get up and was right on Johns heels following him to the car. She died peacefully just before we got to the Emergency Vet Clinic. Sadie was with her the entire time, so Sadie knows she is gone.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What a year! It seems like I haven't had time to do anything other than work. I did get the M finished before Christmas, but didn't have time to sew it down, so it will now be a birthday present (Feb 15). The sweatshirt has turned into a tee shirt (I couldn't find any sweatshirts that didn't have anything printed on them).

I have found sometime to work with my exchange threads again. I also have a new scanner, so my scans are much clearer than before.

These next 2 threads were sent to me by Abby Calson of Rock Island, Washington.

The heart pattern is "Small Tatted Heart" by Betsy Evans.

The thread is Oren Bayan, Size 50, color 710.

The 2nd thread Abby sent me is Altin Basak, Size 50, color 3053. The pattern is from the January 1956 Workbasket.

Speaking of thread exchanges, I have started a new one. I'm not going to post the details here since this an open blog (I hope you all understand). The details have been posted to the assorted tatting email lists.