Progress plus

Since everyone seemed to like Alice, but really thought that the Bewitching Pixies was ever so cute – she is the one I went for.

there were about 350 black beads to add along edges, the band on her hat, and then fiddly stuff on the bow. You can barely see the Kreinik that is the string, but I am considering her finished.

At middle of the afternoon, I could hardly say that I was done for the day – so…

my start on Part 15 which had been stalled for over a year (and I looked it up – the original pattern was released in 2021, not 2022..) progressed to here –

leaving me the rest of the tree, two small bushes, another heart, and cup details. Not bad for today…

I have to make a run to the SFVA tomorrow, so I am packing up some knitting as a much more portable bit of crafting to take along. Think BART, shuttle buses, Muni, Bart and ACTransit. Fun? Not….

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Choices, choices

Unlike all those planners out there, I really haven’t made significant craft plans or goals for this year. It isn’t so much wanting to avoid pressure on those days where pressure is totally and completely unwelcome. It is more that I want to maintain the flexibility to work on what I want without engendering feelings of guilt.

We will leave birthday presents, family obligations, and medical appointments completely out of this discussion.

With the Beaver finished, I got to 30% on the Castle before hanging it early in the evening. 1100 more stitches hardly seems to make a dent.

So tomorrow I have two choices – since I would really like to get another one of those projects hanging out for a while completed.

The first is one of the Nora Corbett Bewitching Pixies – I started her in Aug/Sept and have only the bow string (Kreinik) and beads to go. That amounts to less than 350 “stitches.” It is skinned into Pattern Keeper, so tracking isn’t that hard.

My other choices is to work on the 2022 OwlForest SAL – Alice in Wonderland. I have just the last two portions to finish – the rest of the wizard and then the whole of the tea party. This one is imported into SAGA which I find less than easy to use. Probably need to find a tutorial somewhere. It just isn’t as intuitive.

What do you think?

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Houses & Visitors

Let’s start with the visitor –

Along the way – we have brave flowers which have decided to bloom in January –

move on to starting the Feb chart of this year’s Cottage Garden Samplings “Fabulous Houses” which is going to turn into a Castle at some point. I am ` 1800 stitches in of ~ 96oo so a ways to go.

and end with the sunset

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The Beaver – all 12 now complete!

And here he is in all his glory. Just to recap – he was the Nov 2022 chart of Cottage Garden Samplings “Year in the Woods.”  He is stitched on a 16 ct fabric from BeStitchMe that she dyed especially for the series.  Each month used DMC + 2 specialty flosses…

Sept-Nov now looks like this –

Since all four (3 month) pieces are exactly the same size – I will find a simple frame so that I can swap them out..

I skipped the series in 2023 – it was snowmen… seriously – snowmen doing “stuff.” One to two were kind of cute, but not worth the investment of time compared to so many wonderful other choices.

I will be stitching this year’s Fabulous Houses series – but as individual pieces so that it will be easy to skip any that just aren’t worth doing.

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Port of LA

AKA San Pedro.  We were docked at the Pier before 0600. The view of the sunrise which was also right after 0600 –

was amazing. And even the cranes looked interesting against the sky

As a turnaround day, the ship wanted everyone off as early as was feasible. Cabins empty NLT 0800. There was a mad rush for coffee on the part of most passengers. I grabbed a couple of croissants from the 5th Deck cafe thus missing the insanity that is an open buffet on departure morning.

We caught the shuttle bus to LAX then hung out till we hit the “4 hour” window. After dropping luggage, we cleared customs, security, and hung out at our gate. Lunch was a pizza shared between Miriam & I. Our flight departed ~1500 and we were on the ground in Oakland by 1615. Fast forward through the usual hike to baggage claim, luggage recapture, mono-rail to BART, then Orange Line train to North Berkeley where George picked us up.

I am wiped. Other than opening some mail, I am not dealing with anything else till morning included my suitcase.


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Too many children

Ok, this is a sea day and everyone is running around the ship looking for things to do. There are about 3k worth of passengers which has become way too many for me to deal with. Worse – over 600 of them are under the age of 16.

That is right – school is running in the US and Canada (which is where almost all the passengers live). And there are more than 350 school aged children on the ship. I just don’t get it. This is not an educational trip where they are going to meet history, learn amazing things, or do anything other than potentially get a chance to use Spanish in the ports. Other than that?

I had a chance to chat with a number my age travelers. They all concurred that there was absolutely no way they would have (or could have) taken kids out of school for a vacation. That certainly held true for the German schools – unless you were home ill, in the hospital or missed 1-2 days due to a family funeral (and documentation was required) school days missed counted as unexcused absences. All homework due and exams missed = fail.

Yes, I am cranky. It is also because there are too many running around and running into people to balance out those who are well behaved. Obviously being well behaved means that you don’t get noticed. Anyway – we are off in the morning. 

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Cheers with….

Unlike some of my more recent cruises on Royal (see Symphony in March and Quantum in Oct/Nov) there were a limited number of senior loyalty members on this cruise. About 65 all told in the above 350 nights category.  So today was the “meal with an officer” luncheon that has been substituted from COVID on for dinner with an officer from a decade ago.

OTOH – nothing could have been worse than one I attended on the Independence a number of years ago where we were stuffed into a corner of the dining room and handed the normal noon time menus. Here at least the Hotel Director greeted people, introduced his staff and walked around visiting tables. The Captain did the same once the meal started. The menu was limited, but drew from dishes normally only found in the specialty restaurants.

After that it was mostly hang out, some small stitching was accomplished and I ran out of the blue yarn so I had to put the afghan on hold till I get home.

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Opening Hours

and here we are in Puerto Vallarta. The ship is docked in the usual place. There is also the Carnival Panorama which pulled into port a couple of hours after us. It makes for business at the Sam’s Club and Walmart which are directly across a rather busy road from the cruise terminal.

We wandered off the ship and started heading down the road toward the city center. It became quickly obvious that this was not going to be a great walk. Miriam decided to catch a local bus and I headed back toward the shopping center opposite the ship. Turns out that everything there (except for Starbucks & the Wifi) opens at 1100. This was well before 1100. Did I want to sit around and wait? No…

After a bit of a walk in the other direction, I just decided that the ship was where I wanted to be. A bit of progress on Treasure Island (OwlForest)

(pix to be added whenever the server decides it isn’t too busy to process the upload. Mostly I have started the island in the middle…)

and some shots of us sailing away in the evening.

Miriam had a great time in the city center. Said it was lovely, found a great place for lunch, did a small bit of shopping and took the city bus back to the ship.

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Blue Line again

I didn’t remember that I had been to this port just last year until after Miriam and I were off ship, through all the tour hawkers and across the street. There is was – the sign for the “Linea Azul” – Blue line that I clearly remembered from last year (6 Feb 2023). So we just took a walk, mostly attempting to stay in the shade. Yes, this was reasonably early after we had docked, but it was already starting to feel warm.

Falling the line, we made the central square which is starting to get ready for Carnival –

from there we walked toward the water and Liverpool Street –

where I present you with the “Beatles” but will spare you the Yellow Submarine and closeups of the English standard phone booths…   I will also skip pictures of court buildings, other government buildings and like structures.  We did a gradual wander back toward the ship, avoiding stores, souvenir shops and more tour operators. There was also a smaller ship in port today, but I never figured out which line it belonged to. It certainly wasn’t listed on any of the standard look-up tables.

Any way – we came back to the ship fairly early and relaxed for most of the day. I finished the tail on the Beaver and that is as far as I can go with the floss colors I have on hand and moved on to knitting for a while.

The sunset was spectacular –

just as we were leaving the pier. Tomorrow is another port day – then two sea days on our way back to LA. I will save the craft pictures for then.


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Not tenderized

Today, after sailing past/through a pod of whales (long past by the time I grabbed my phone and ran down 8 flights of stairs….) we arrived in Cabo San Lucas about 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

This particular stop, a frequent hit on most Mexico west coast cruises is a tender port. The main attractions here are water sports, beaches, and whale watching. Since I have been here a number of times, I elected not to get off ship. And it wasn’t just that my last tender ride was that incredibly challenging one getting back to the Star Breeze, it was more that I was perfectly happy hanging out, stitching in one of the lounges and chatting with a number of individuals who stopped by.

I made serious progress on The Beaver today –  like 1417 stitches worth which meant, according to PatternKeeper, I had only about 540 to go. Then I took a look at the pattern, at the import into PatternKeeper and the actual stitching.  Hummm I have one color more on my thread holder than I have listed in the program. That color is listed on the pattern. What the heck?

As it turned out – two symbols, for whatever reason did NOT import. I pulled out the PDF and looked at it –  there are 11 colors listed.  I tried importing the PDF again. No change – those two symbols still didn’t import. So, I have 500 + of one color (DMC301) and  41 (DMC646) of another also to stitch.

The grey in the feet will be easy – but the other color? I have leaves, leaf piles and a tree base all needing stitching.

Oh yes, and the large open area of tail. I had thought I could finish today but now it looks  he is not going to be finished till I am home. I will get as far as I can, but am pretty sure that I didn’t bring enough of the second leaf color….

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A different elevator music

Didn’t most of us grow up with Muzak – aka – elevator music? Well, Miriam spotted an alternative this evening. Music in an elevator. Right, From a piano. And the piano is in the elevator –

It is one of those ship’s elevators with the glass side toward the central area rather than towards the sea so that anyone who wants can look into the car as it passes on its way up or down. We figure some one must have put casters under the piano to roll it into the elevator. The young woman in the top hat who was playing certainly seemed to be enjoying herself – and the occasional passenger got on/got off.

This, in case you hadn’t looked at the schedule in yesterday’s note, was a sea day. I sincerely appreciated it, especially since I was pretty tired after yesterday’s travel. I really don’t have a good explanation for being up early and finding that the coffee machine in the Lounge is no longer working. It took until the concierge came in for fancy coffee alternative – Out the door, down to the Promenade Cafe and ask for a latte/cappuccino/etc and show your card – no charge until the machine gets fixed. One alternative.

I decided to limit my coffee and went up to the lounge on Deck 15 and sit where I had lots of light and could stitch for a few hours. End result today?

Horrorflies is done, including all the antenna.  I have three other mostly done projects with me so picked up on where I left off on the Beaver (the last of the 12 from Year in the Woods.). I only have about 2k worth of stitches on that one, most of which is the Beaver’s tail. I will share start and finish pix tomorrow.

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And it is the Navigator again

But not the same route that the Eldest, the Toddler and I sailed last year about this time.

The actual itinerary is :

Friday, January 19 Los Angeles (San Pedro), CA 4:00pm
Saturday, January 20 At Sea
Sunday, January 21 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 12:30pm 8:00pm
Monday, January 22 Mazatlan, Mexico 8:00am 6:00pm
Tuesday, January 23 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 8:00am 6:00pm
Wednesday, January 24 At Sea
Thursday, January 25 At Sea
Friday, January 26 Los Angeles (San Pedro), CA 7:00am

The really great thing for me is those three sea days. I am hoping to get in some gym time.  I certainly will be able to get in stitching and knitting time. Getting off the ship? Not sure that I am going to bother….

(and we will not talk about having to leave home at 0400 to make it to airport to drop luggage, clear security, etc for a 0700 flight, nor hanging out at LAX till the RCCL Shuttle bus showed up to take us to the port) Leaving early? Needed to have George get home before he was stuck in traffic for 90 min on a 25 min trip.

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The day started with errands and ended with me being ready to head to bed early.  Packing took me all of 10 minutes at least for the clothing portion. As soon as I finish up this note – I will pack up the laptop – and add it to my carry-on along with my one knitting project (yes, only one). I also have several cross stitch projects left over from last year. I would love to come back with at least two, and potentially all four finished,

The youngest and I have an early flight to LAX. Then we have a bit of a wait for the RCCL Shuttle bus to the San Pedro Cruise Terminal. From there, we are headed down the coast to Mexico and back (on the 26th) before resuming real life.

So the knitting project – a variation on the Ten Stitch Blanket (Pattern free on Ravelry)

this one in two colors which will spiral around each other till I run out of yarn.

I also managed more stitches on the Horrorflies –

Which leaves me the top of the remaining wing and about four much smaller flying critters a bit further down the project. Since I am now at 84% complete – I think this will probably be the first one I tackle when on the ship.

(Did I mention that we will be leaving for the airport ~ 0400?)

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I needed to charge one of my camera batteries. The catch? The charger I have is 220…. So I went looking for adapter plugs –

I have US to UK, OZ, EU …. what I needed was EU -> US which I finally found.

This was after I was up at the crack of dawn (literally on the road before the sun came up to drop off this bag –

which has in it the dozen dish towels that I embroidered with travel themes.  They are wrapped around with a rather large gross-grain ribbon and the roll is fasted with that ghilbi grannie pin. One of the other Infusion Center nurses was more than willing to put it in her locker till the farewell party next Friday.

And then it was home, back through San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge in the non-traffic direction with a stop at Acme Bakery since the line at the door was only about 4 people long.

Home? I finished clearing out more stuff, took everything to go into the garage storage down to the entry way and then rewarded myself with stitching.  Pulling out Horroflies – I found the thread carrier, was less than thrilled to find out it wasn’t about 1000 stitches left but more like 3k, restocked the colors I was sure to be short and decided to stitch.

It is that center eye thingie that needs to be complete – the eye + those two bottom petals/leaves/wing parts was over 1000 stitches. I am hoping to finish the rest tomorrow which will make one less project to take this coming week….


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And it only took twice as long as I had planned. Originally, I had contemplated about an hour per item and that worked well for the first three. Not much stitching, everything fit exactly where it was supposed to. The fourth? Eh – it just took longer with a few color substitutions since I have no clue as to where the spools of thread that are supposed to be in those emptied slots have disappeared.

It is not like my craft room is completely neat, organized, or logically arranged.

And then I headed merrily down the path of some lovely embroideries, the files for which it looks like I purchased back in 2018. After looking at what I had – I went with England, France, and US to match the skylines already completed for London, Paris, and New York.  After that? Well, I still had plenty of towels….. so why not add Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand…. I will tell you why … 26k to 41K stitches per.

But they are done, rolled up with a ribbon fastened with an enamel lapel pin featuring grannie and tucked into a bag featuring a world map. I am planning on getting up early tomorrow and dropping off the set at the start of the day so I can beat most of the traffic. Hopefully one of the other nurses will hide it in her locker till next week….


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Today was pretty much a PITA.  My plan had been simple: listen to an audiobook or two: sort out some floss; finish backstitching the Death of Rats;

and machine embroider a bunch of kitchen towels for a nurse that I know who is retiring.

This particular lovely person works at the San Francisco VA and has for a lot of years. She runs the Heme/Onc infusion center which is how I met her. Her sympathetic, but no nonsense manner of handling things worked extremely well for me when I was dealing with my weekly dose of multiple chemo drugs (2016-2017). Support, but no sugar coating.  Anyway – sometime during that period to 2019, there was a day when I had machine embroidered a bunch of dish towels because I wanted to try out  the different patterns.  I brought them with me that Wednesday morning and handed them out to any of the nursing staff who was interested.  She took two – one that featured London, and one that featured Paris. What I didn’t know at the time was that the next morning she was picking two of her adult (20s?) children up from the airport. They were returning from London. Typical parent, she packed them a good breakfast snack because when you get off the plane from Europe in the morning most of the time you are hungry, tired, and crabby.

They were thrilled. Both with food and the fact that the “wrapper” was a kitchen towel featuring London. Her daughter took off with that one, and she told me when I was there on Wednesday that she still had the Paris one. So…. I decided to add to her collection as a retirement gift.  I found the patterns I had used along with a few more that just seemed right,  And then I figured this wouldn’t take more than a few hours.

Wrong! First problem – ½ the buttons on my sewing machine didn’t respond, This was the machine that I just had serviced before I left for our Asian trip. So embroidering was going to be out of the question. I called the dealer/service center. I had forgotten they are closed on Sunday & Monday. Darren answered the phone anyway and talked me through a couple of things I could check try – after confirming that yes, this was the machine I had brought in.  He suggested that I use the other machine that I had which I normally don’t use for embroidery. Ok, I suppose I can do that.

Next – I found that I was out of the stabilizer that I usually use. I dug around till I found a roll of pre-stitcky stuff so that I wouldn’t have to deal with finding the iron and ironing board. Then I attempted to locate the thread colors that I needed. I have them stored, with the colors clearly marked on the box lids. Doesn’t mean it turned out that anything was where it was supposed to be, and I am missing about a dozen spools – obviously the ones called for….

Then the fancier machine wouldn’t thread. Replacing the needle (as it wasn’t in completely straight solved that problem. Then the one hoop didn’t want to clip in properly. So, I dug around till I found a bigger one and managed. I didn’t quite tear my hair out, but it was close.

End result? Instead of being finished – I still have five to stitch tomorrow…


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The afghan is growing – in fact, I just started the second ball –

The backstitching is about ½ complete –

I just have a bit more to add on the cape, one word to stitch, outline the top of his tail, and finish the scythe outline. 

and then there is this –

which I am making up as I go, but just might wind up being a cat bed. 

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quicker stitch

Today was what I love to have as a weekend day – other than a brief run to get a fancy latte and get George to an appointment (we left home right after 0800 and were back by 0915) I had to go NOWHERE today. I could sit, relax, sort out a few more things, listen to audio books and stitch/crochet.

I have done 2 more complete rows on the afghan.

and it is moving along. I have several more balls of this yarn so will probably go till I run out.

And then there is “Death of Rats” from Terry Prachett’s Discworld. It is the replacement for that other one which has probably gone on permanent hold.  I found the pattern on Etsy and it looked like it would stitch up quickly which it did. Unfortunately, the pattern was pdf’d in landscape rather than portrait and I gave up attempting to load it into PK. Back to highlighters – blah.

Squeak is complete, except for the back stitching which is going to be essential (words, scythe, skull and hand bones.


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Tired just contemplating

The list of errands that I ran today – here to El Sobrante to breakfast to Costco to Richmond to El Sobrante to home. And it was early afternoon and headed out again to Mountain Hardware to Target to home.  

I did minimal picking up, some 400+ stitches on the replacement present cross stitch (see yesterday’s note for the previous fiasco) and another full row on the broomstick lace afghan. I need to measure it so that I actually might know the gauge. It will give me a clue as to end size and how much yarn I may actually need. 

I am NOT planning on going anywhere tomorrow!

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It wasn’t until the Youngest looked at my current cross stitch project that all the pieces fit together in my head. Oh! she said – Quidditch! What? Oh yeah – Snitch in the center and the four house colors…

Darn – I am glad I am less than 10% into this particular project. I am so not a JK Rowling fan. Any one from the UK who claims never to have hear of or read Diane Duanne or Diane Wynne Jones (first author wrote – So you want to be a Wizard… about a young student and a wizarding school complete with adventures with friends, Second is probably better know for Howl’s Moving Castle….)

The potential recipient isn’t particularly a fan either so all that work wouldn’t be fun for me, nor appreciated.

Time to find a new project….

And I had a whole, wonderful day at home!

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