Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve, 2009: Dropping the Ball in Times Square

Have you wondered if the crystal ball traditionally dropped on New Year's Eve in New York City actually shatters when dropped? Here is the answer: no!

According to The Huffington Post:
Organizers of the celebration unveiled a new design Sunday for nearly 300 Waterford crystal triangles to be installed on the giant ball. The crystals feature an interlocking ribbon pattern, woven into a Celtic knot, to illustrate the theme for 2010, "Let There Be Courage."

Some 288 of the ball's 2,668 Waterford crystal triangles will be replaced this year with new ones featuring the Celtic knot design. Straus said it evokes the yellow ribbons that welcome home soldiers or red ribbons for AIDS awareness.
The triangles are custom-built to withstand high winds, snow, rain and temperature fluctuations in their spot 400 feet above Times Square.
More about the dropping of the ball from this site says:
2009 – The 2008 design is maintained, but is doubled in size and is 20% more energy efficient than the previous one. The new ball, a 3-frequency icosahedral geodesic sphere, incorporates 3500 lighting cues designed by Focus Lighting, Inc.[3] The new ball weighs 11,875 pounds (5,386 kg) and is now 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter. The flag pole on the top of One Times Square that the ball is hoisted atop was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate the ball. When raised it is now placed 475 feet (145 m) above Times Square. As of January 6, 2009, the ball also now remains mid-way atop the pole in Times Square as a permanent fixture.
Very few times I have actually been awake at midnight on any New Year's Eve, but for those of you who celebrate, do it with gusto, but safely. I'd like you to be here for 2010, continuing to read these diatribes.

Photo courtesy of

Happy 2010 to all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Lamps from Old

Retrofitting tired lamps into a newer look is included in the comprehensive craft blog, All Free Crafts.

From the All Free Crafts Blog:
...don’t relegate that old, boring lamp to the trash heap just yet. Take another look at it, and think what a coat of paint, a fancy button and some new feet could do.

picture copyright by Susan Spatone

Spatore gives a tutorial here about how she rewired and created a new look for an old lamp.  These are the supplies needed:
Wood Lamp base of choice
White Paint
Decorative Button
Super Glue or Household Goop
Fine Sandpaper
Brass Corner Feet (optional)
Lamp Shade
Decorative Beaded Trim
Hot Glue Gun and Glue or Fabric Glue

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bookcliff Gardens Provides Poinsettias to Nursing Facilities

Marilyn B.and Nancy V. at Hospice & Palliative Care holding a Christmas wreathShown are Diana and Cindy at Mesa Manor

Patient (blurred for confidentiality) and staff at The Fountains

Many thanks to Bookcliff Gardens for their donation of beautiful poinsettias donated to local nursing homes. Although it was too cold to take Libby Sweetpea, our Therapy Dog International pup, on her regular rounds this week, the flowers and visits were still welcomed.  (Next week, Libby, it will be warmer and you can visit, too.)

Friend Starr provided the impetus for getting these cheery plants to The Fountains, Mantey Heights Nursing Home, Mesa Manor and The Hospice Care Center of Western Colorado.  She plans to deliver more flowers later today, along with her mother and teenage daughter, to Family Health West in Fruita, CO.

Fabriano: Adoration of the Magi

Another cropping of an iconic picture by Gentile de Fabriano (1385-1427) entitled Adoration of the Magi seems appropriate to display on Christmas Eve.  The entire panel is 300 x 282 cm and is housed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Double click on the picture to see the remarkable detail of emotion portrayed on the faces of the adorers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Potica: Famous Christmas Bread from Russia

Our neighbor Mary, shown below with the pups, gave us her delicious home made potica bread.  I am eating it now (warmed) with coffee.  It is delicious!

This is a picture of the dessert bread:

This site gives the time and labor intensive recipe for potica. 

Mary was born in Denver, although her parents came from Russia.  Mary said her mother made this bread for Christmas both in the "Old" country and after they immigrated to the USA.  Mary and her siblings were reared in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Making Fabric Labels

Personalized labels for special hand made items can be produced using an ink jet printer.  A special quilt or hand made item can be finished off with an individualized fabric label. 

How do you begin?  Instructables comes to the rescue with a simple method of transferring printing onto fabric. All that is needed is freezer paper, a pair of scissors and an iron, along with the fabric for printing.

A Piper Knits showed a nice label for her prayer shawls, thusly:

Instructables will be the guideline to use for my future labels to be made and sewn into hand knitted gift items.

It's a good idea.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gift Mixes for Christmas

Below is a quick recipe for neighborly gift giving.  Carol Lewis in Cary, NC sent me this last year.  It is yummy.

Caramel Snack Mix
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white corn syrup
1 C. packed brown sugar
1 C. chopped pecans
1 C. almonds
1 (12 oz) pkg. Crispix cereal

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. In glass bowl, mix butter, white and brown sugars and microwave for 2 minutes, or until butter melts. Place the cereal, pecans and almonds onto the roasting pan and pour melted butter mixture over the cereal and nuts, gently mixing until all are well coated. Bake for one hour and stir every 15 minutes.

As the snack cools, be sure to continue to stir so that the mix will not harden in one big lump. (Double the recipe because it goes fast!)
Gene's homemade cookies, instant low-cal spiced tea mix, this crispix snack, some hot cocoa mix and a dog toy or two for our neighborhood Fidos rounds out the festive gift baskets lined with seasonal napkins.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

World War II Watch Caps

In searching for information about watch caps, here is an interesting aside from this website, along with instructions:
This hat pattern was probably knit at least a million times during World War II, and remains one of the most enduring hat designs. Tim Gunn would call it one of the classics. Watch a movie or television program which takes place during the winter months, and somewhere in each outdoor
frame will be someone wearing this hat.
What makes Beanie No. 212 distinct is the unique pattern created on the crown of the hat as the  crown is shaped. When the hat is knit with classic ribbing all the way to the crown, the ribbing creates a large star-shaped pattern. When the hat is knit with stockinette stitch all the way to the crown, three lines are created which converge at the top of the hat. What keeps Beanie No. 212 so popular is the variety of patterns which can be included in the hatdue to its 6-stitch panel construction. Within those 6-stitch panels, a wide variety of choices canbe made to create a unique hat each time this pattern is knit.
For beginners, Beanie No. 212 requires no special skills and can be knit on straight needles.

Although not the best picture, hubby was accommodating enough to pose in his new (old) watch cap from the 1940 complimentary pattern.

Oh, and Libby says "Merry Christmas."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adult Surprise Jacket

Knitting furiously on this sweater since October, it is now finished.  It looks ok in the picture, squared off corners with the colors queueing up as they should:

The collar was knit up to form a snugger closing.  It was ingenious how the pattern was designed and knit on one circular needle, and it was fun to work with the various colors of yarn.

But durned if the back is not about six inches longer than the front when actually worn.  I can't figure it out! It must have something to do with how the sweater sets on the shoulder, but it looks odd if the front is swagged way down.

It is warm and obviously large enough, so guess it will be a snuggle-down-and-knit sweater to wear during these cold times.

Has anyone else had this problem with the pattern?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sweet Honey Beret

A slouch hat was on my "want to knit" list.  I found one, and downloaded the PDF file for just $5.50. The hat was designed by native born Russian Faina Goberstein. It incorporates a honeycomb brioche stitch in its design.

Picture courtesy of Interweave Knits, 2008
This from Faina Goberstein's blog:
My neighbor, whom I called Aunt Nina, lived alone and loved me as if I were her own daughter. In the dark Russian winter evenings, when my parents would not let me go outside, the two of us were sitting in Aunt Nina’s room and knitted together while listening to some plays transmitted on the radio from Moscow theaters. The only knitting that Aunt Nina knew was how to knit socks, and naturally, my first project was a pair of socks. I loved it, and made a few pairs that winter. I often recall with gratitude aunt Nina and those warm and cozy evenings that we spent together. From that winter, the knitting became an important part of my life.
This design was a bit more complicated since it incorporates a brioche honeycomb stitch, with a video tutorial found here.  I tried and tried, and could not replicate this stitch.

So I went here. No luck trying to replicate that, either.

Finagling around, here is how it is coming along, although I'm not convinced the brioche stitch is turning out like it should:

Ah, well.  Live and learn.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Pink Glove Dance

There have been over 3 million hits on this YouTube video!  From this site:
...more than 200 doctors, nurses, lab techs, administrators and kitchen and janitorial staff getting down to the appropriately named R&B song by Jay Sean called “Down". The touching video was filmed all around the hospital Nov. 4 and was created to raise funds and generate awareness about breast cancer; A portion of the sales from the Generation Pink synthetic exam gloves will provide mammograms for uninsured women thanks to Medline Industries Inc., the company that makes the gloves and produced the video.
“Breast cancer is an important cause for the employees at our hospital, as well as the entire community,” said Martie Moore, chief nursing officer for the hospital. “The video was a really fun and creative way for our employees to help spread awareness about breast cancer.”
Yet the video is more than a public service announcement. Thousands of comments that appear below the video on YouTube profess how touching, uplifting and heartwarming it is to watch Providence’s staff joyfully swing and line dance, do the monkey and the twist all around the hospital – an environment most commonly associated with sickness.