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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nostepinne: a yarn winding tool

Here is my new yarn winder (made in Poland by Kromski & Sons), purchased at the Hatchtown Website:

It was hand turned, all wood, with a natural finish, available for less than $15. 

You can go here to a video of how to use it, courtesy of Designed by Kristi.

This should make crafting with yarn a bit easier, insofar as winding goes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cranberry Relish by Susan Stamberg

While listening to NPR the other day, I heard about this famous recipe for cranberry relish.

Now don't turn up your nose immediately when it turns out that besides fresh cranberries, it also calls for a small onion and a good bit of horseradish.  Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourment Magazine and author of a number of books centered around food, was talking with Susan Stamberg about this shockingly pink relish.

Here is the link to this fun story, along with the original recipe:
* 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
* 1 small onion
* 3/4 cup sour cream
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")
Grind the raw berries and onion together. ("I use an old-fashioned meat grinder," Stamberg says. "I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind, not a puree.") Add everything else and mix. Put in a plastic container and freeze.
Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. ("It should still have some little icy slivers left.")
The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. ("OK, Pepto Bismol pink.")
Makes 1 1/2 pints
I just finished making some, and it is SURPRISINGLY refreshing.  Of course, my conservative husband and his family are into the jellied cranberry sauce out of the can, so I will probably be the only one enjoying this little relish.  Sigh.  What's a gal to do but make herself happy?  ... and pawn off five little sacks of this taste treat to my friends this morning!

Monday, November 23, 2009

LED Lighting for Decoration

Coming up with a new lighting decoration for Thanksgiving dinner being served after the sun goes down, here is an idea: use LED cool white bulbs.  What are the advantages of LED bulbs?

Here is a good summarization of LED cool white lights:
LEDs present many advantages over incandescent light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved robustness, smaller size, faster switching, durable and reliable. However, they are relatively expensive and require more precise current and heat management than traditional light sources. Current LED products for general lighting have higher costs than fluorescent lamp sources of comparable output.
Also, the lights are stated to have a 25,000 hour average light bulb life.  The purchased light string consisting of 30 bulbs was less than $5.

Michael's had last-of-season silk flowers on sale for 90% off, so I bought a bunch of sunflowers and cut out the centers of the stamins so that a LED bulb could be pulled through.  Silk foliage was added, and the resulting lighted garland now decorates the window sill of one of the dining area windows. This was an inexpensive Thanksgiving decoration project for less than $10.

 Although the cool lights do not emit a "warm" glow, hopefully the candles on the table centerpiece will add to the soft lighting ambience. 

Please visit  tomorrow for a famous cranberry relish recipe supplied via an NPR podcast.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Temple of Flora

1799 was the first publication date of The Temple of Flora, Dr. Robert John Thornton's seminal work of supreme achievement of botanical illustration and artistic literature.  The referenced site links to an interesting blog which says, in part,
Filled with lavishly beautiful full color illustrations, botanical information, and even nods to classic poetry, "The Temple of Flora" is truly without a doubt one of England’s premier pieces of botanical literature.
More plates of Thorntons' works can be found here for purchase.

If you have a few minutes, go here to leaf through some of the works in the Temple of Flora available at Taschen Books.

The Botanicus Digital Library, part of the Missouri Botanical Garden Library, is another excellent web source for all things botanical.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Invisible (Provisional) Cast On Technique Video (KnitPicks)

Here is an excellent video link that shows the "invisible cast on technique" used in knitting, so that extra length can later be added on to the cuffs or hems of a knitted garment without showing an obvious seam line.

Using this video helped in starting a sweater from mid sleeve.  The link can be accessed here (about 3/4 of the way down the page) and shows this and many more knitting techniques, thanks to Knit Picks.

The pattern for this sweater is from Elizabeth Zimmermann, an iconoclast in knitting. From Wikipedia:
Zimmermann was the first knitter to be honored with a full obituary and article in the New York Times titled "E. Zimmermann Is Dead at 89; Revolutionized Art of Knitting." It appeared on Sunday, December 12, 1999. Her motto was "Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises."
Here is a photo of the Zimmerman Adult Surprise Jacket (started with the invisible cast on technique).  I'm about 3/4 of the way through its completion.

Using some yarn from my stash, I also bought these Wool of the Andes skeins from KnitPicks to round out the colors in the striping effect:

My first Zimmermann book, Knitting Around, should arrive tomorrow via Amazon.  In the meantime, I am having a bit of anxiety because one side of the jacket is one stitch over the limit required, but thanks to Zimmerman's advice, I am knitting on with confidence.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tahini Sauce and Hummus: Quick Snack Recipe

Here was this new jar of tahini sauce on the pantry shelf, and it had not yet been opened.  It was just waiting for me to make this hummus recipe sent by friend Lynda in Wisconsin.  She found it in Cooks Illustrated (May, 2008).  Apparently she uses this recipe source often.

From what the recipe indicates, the problem with most hummus is that it has a course, dense consistency caused by the tough skins of the chickpeas.  The solution is to use canned chickpeas, not fresh garbonzo beans.  Not a problem since there was also a can of chickpeas patiently waiting on that same pantry shelf. 

But the REAL secret for smooth hummus is to emulsify the beans in a blender while slowly adding olive oil.
Here are the ingredients:

3 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons tahini , stirred well
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed (see note)
1 small garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves


1. Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.
2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and cilantro over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Lucky for us that our parsley is still growing outside and was available for garnishment.  No pita bread in the cupboards, but Fritos worked just fine with the hummus.
Thanks, Lynda, for this superb recipe.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Calorimetry Scarf

The Calorimetry Scarf is off the needles.  It is a free download pattern available at the referenced site.  Check out a copyrighted picture of the scarf here.

The word "calorimetry" has been given this definition:
Calorimetry is a scientific term describing the measurement of heat lost or gained. Knit hats are a wonderful way to block out the cold, but when you have long hair it usually requires wearing it down, not often the most comfortable option on a blustery day. This headscarf allows you to wear your hair up while keeping your ears warm and preventing heat from escaping from the top of your head.

Above is a picture of the one just completed, and here is another that Velvet (her blog posting can be found here) finished a few weeks ago:

It is toasty warm, and doubles in its function as a way to keep not only your ears and head warm, but also serves for iPod earphones to stay in place while walking. Best of all, it can be knit in just a few hours.

It's a good thing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vintage Embroidery for Baby Pillowcase

Anticipating the birth of her first child, Marie at Knitted Gems is busy making darling things for soon-to-be born Elizabeth.  Knowing that Marie is a beautiful knitter, it would be like taking coals to Newcastle to give her a hand knit baby item.

Looking through my vintage pieces of needlework that good friend Dorothay sent me a while back from her mother's and sister's stashes dating from the early 1900's, here is what I found: a baby pillow case cover that was about 3/4 completed in embroidery.

The bunnies and flowers were so cute.  And the flowers gave it a whimsical feel.  But the back of the pillowcase was a grey cotton linen and definitely needed an update.

Here are the project finds that would help complete the "new" pillow after a bit of tweaking with embroidery floss, crayons, and a new piece of fabric backing:  Tracey at Giggleface Studios has an excellent tutorial on using crayons on fabric that can be accessed here. Using those techniques, more color was added to the picture.

Just a  fat quarter of fabric was required for the new backing for the pillowcase.  $1 would purchase a bit of batik color fabric that coordinated with the existing floss colors.

Knowing that Elizabeth has a great chance of inheriting her mother's beautiful strawberry blonde hair color, just a bit of mixed orange and pink embroidery floss was used on the fabric for the little girl's head to make it a personalized pillow for Baby Elly.  A new pillow, a bit of vintage tatting and lace, re-worked embroidery and a bit of sewing turned out this:

This was a fun project, and hopefully the pillow case will be something that Elizabeth will save for her own daughter in future years.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Easy Cowl to Knit

Using only 150 yd. of yarn, the Rievaulx cowl can be knit in a few days.  Here is what designer Kelly Herdrich said about this pattern:
Rievaulx is modeled after the green, rolling landscape on the drive to Rievaulx Abbey, and the gorgeous columns and architecture that make this abbey ruin such an amazing place to visit in Yorkshire. There are two versions for the pattern; one long, drape-y, reversible version, perfect for warmer days, and one snugger, taller version perfect for chilly weather.
Kelly's blog can be accessed here, and the pattern is free.  I modified it by adding a bit more ribbing to make it wider, and held two yarns together while knitting to add some color into the monochrome dark green and brown novelty fiber.  The second, more colorful, yarn was a bit of leftover hand dyed sock yarn in reds, purples and greens.

This cowl will be just the ticket for keeping warm on morning walks.  Thanks, Kelly.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Extreme Knitting

Here is something interesting from this site about extreme knitting:
Rachel John, Extreme Textiles, broke records by knitting with a 1000 strands simultaneously! This video shows the set up of the event and the event itself. This event took place at the Southhill Park Unravel Textiles exhibition in October 2006.

It is a challenge for all of us to take the waste products that our society produces and to put it to good use. This video was made in order to stimulate that process.
Go here to see the video.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fiber Artist Diedre Scherer

Deidre Scherer is the talented fiber artist who is perhaps most often associated with the poem "When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple" by Jenny Joseph.  Her picture of a contemplative older woman created in fabrics and threads has been in my study for the past three decades, alongside the poem by Nadir Stair that begins ... If I had my life to live over....

This same replica of the picture (copied at the bottom of the post) is framed and matted in reds and cream colors and is just to the right of my computer.  It always give me pause for thought when my gaze falls on it.

This is another favorite created by Scherer, and is one of her pieces in a collection (15" x 13" in fabric and thread) from this site of nine fabric works:

The Last Year, a series of nine fabric works by Vermont artist Deidre Scherer, portrays the final year in the life of an elderly woman. With immense compassion and respect, Scherer chronicles the woman's journey toward death, from the onset of her decline, through brief reprieves of renewed strength, and finally, to acceptance and release.
Combining the techniques of layering, piecing and machine sewing, Scherer builds a rich surface of images that have contours, highlights and shadows. Her unique approach to fabric and thread medium serves to tell the story narratively, and gives the figure a three-dimensional quality.
Each work depicts a visually compelling moment, while raising universal and social issues that surround the processes of aging, dying and grieving.
 This site gives the poem copied below, along with Diedre Scherer's picture, again created in fabric and thread:

I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another,instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I've been one of those people who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.
Nadine Stair, 85 years old.
As for me, I am trying to eat all the green bananas that life gives me.  And you?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scrabble Again

See the word "M-U-T-I-L-A-T-E" up in the right hand corner of the Scrabble board in the above picture?

That was my coup de grace in a winning game with opponent Wesley Slocum in Calgary on October 23.  The word spread across two triple tile scores and used all 7 letters on my rack, and the play counted for 149 points.  That play truly won the game for me as Wesley had a 120 point lead on me prior to that coup de grace play.  Wesley was a nice guy about the good word find and even took a picure of me with the board to bring home to Colorado!

A highlight of the week was going to the Saskatoon Berry Farm west of Calgary for lunch and a look-around.  The saskatoon berry cobbler was a favorite dessert and is local to the area.  Yum.

Thanks, Darlene, for your hospitality and to the Calgary Scrabble Club for hosting the 14th Annual Western Canadian Scrabble Championship last week in Alberta.  A great time was had by all 95 participants in four divisions of tournament play.

Monday, October 19, 2009

14th Western Canadian Scrabble Champtionship

Off to Calgary this morning: the beautiful land of Alberta.  Playing Scrabble.  See you in a week.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Emergen-C and the Flu

If you are feeling ... headachey and a touch of the sore throat...there's a number you can call...don't be afraid...
picture courtesy of RogueSun

Well, you can't call, but you can buy a product called Emergen-C or its generic equivalent.  My SIL stirs up a glass of the fizzy mixture in water a couple of times of day when she feels the need for a Vitamin C boost.

Here is a great review of the product where the reviewer says, in part:
... so I began the regimen: One Emergen-C at 5 am. Another once I woke up (again) at 8. Another when I got to work, two more after lunch. In all, I think I must have had six or seven packets of that goodness yesterday—probably not a dosage you want to subject your body to every day, but these were trying times.
It is now not quite 5 AM, and I have downed one dose of the Walgreen variety in cranberry flavor, am on my second cup of coffee, and actually feeling better than I did yesterday at this time before the wonder product was in my system.  (Yesterday I drank three of the packets with the recommended 6 oz of water and begged off obligations; in other words, so I could lie around and do nothing.)

Who knows, with 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C (1,667% of your recommended daily allowance) in each packet, maybe there is something to it.  It can't hurt.  And water is certainly good for you.

Drop Scarf with Beads

This clapotis scarf finished off with dimensions of 61" x 6.5" and was decorated with 8 mm seed beads along the diagonal lines created by the dropped stitches.   The beads are glass, and in colors ranging from lavender to cobalt blue with various hues of lighter and darker blues interspersed.  They beads were sewn with one strand of Knit Picks Shimmer yarn, a combination of 30% silk and 70% baby alpaca wool.   Don't let a little wool in the fiber fool you, it is as soft as a baby's bottom.  This same yarn was used in the scarf construction.  Although it is lace weight, I held two strands together to construct the scarf; so it ended up more of a fingering weight.

The beads added a touch of more design into the scarf, and although they were tedious to apply, the look was worth the extra effort,  IMHO.

There was no ready model for the scarf, so an outside tree trunk accommodated the scarf for photographic purposes.

Here is a picture of the clapotis scarf half way through:

Combining beading and knitting was a first attempt at gilding the lily.  The pattern for the scarf is free and available here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Selling a Mink in these Economic Times

Say, wish me luck in trying to sell my mink (female) full length coat at a consignment shop in Calgary, CA next week.  I'm going up for the 14th Western Canadian Scrabble Championship and to visit a friend who also will compete in the games.

Back to this non-politically correct issue of the mink coat.  Groan.  Yes, women (and a few guys) do still wear fur.  But this coat has had very little wear since its purchase 15 years ago, and it is high time for it to have a new home.  Of course, I want to make big bucks off it!

This site gave good information about trying to sell a used fur coat. It said, in short:
Still wearing big hair and eighties power suits? Well why not? They're only 15 years old! How much money do you think you could get for those suits on the resale market today? If they had major designer labels, they might be worth something. If not, by now either you've tossed them out, hidden them in the back of your closet (the shame) or altered them (somewhere I envision a secret tailor's landfill, where they've sent all those discarded shoulder pads). When you pay thousands of dollars for a fur, and want to sell it, it's not that simple. And it's really not funny.
Sigh. So that is where I am.  Like an avid ...good..over zealous ..stupid   average consumer who purchased a coat that I actually did use quite a bit in a different clime and time in my life when that coat got good use, now it is past its prime and worn maybe once a year. 

Let's say that is me in the picture below (it is not). The coat is the same, though.

With original invoice and appraisal in hand (home insurance rider policies requires that, ya know), we'll see if it sells.  I'm curious how much it will bring.  My guess is that I'll pocket maybe a hundred bucks after commission.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Colorado National Monument

Saturday was a spectacular fall day in Grand Junction and was excellent timing for a trip to the Colorado National Monument, "a unit of the national park system, is a spectacular area of twenty-thousand acres of steep-walled red rock canyons located in western Colorado, near the city of Grand Junction, on the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau. The Colorado National Monument attracts approximately 500,000 visits per year."

One of the Western Colorado's biggest outdoor highlights  is definitely ... the Colorado National Monument.
Here sheer-walled canyons, towering red sandstone monoliths and beautiful valleys host a myriad of wild animals and adventures for everyone in the family. Spectacular plateaus and canyons fill the park, where the land has been preserved as it was for thousands of years. A visitor center four miles up from the West entrance offers camping information and more.
There are 100 National Monuments in the United States.
... canyons, monoliths, colorful formations, bighorn sheep, soaring eagles and a spectacular road reflect the environment and history of plateau-and-canyon country.

Friend Kathy and I had a fun time taking in the scenery.

Only a 20 minute drive from our house, this day trip was a definite breath of fresh air.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Decorations - Quilted Centerpieces

Underneath the pumpkins and candles in the centerpiece below is a quilted fall fabric piece given to us several years ago by our Famous Family Quilter Pat McCarroll. Pat has won many awards for her quilting art at the Texas State Fair, and at local quilt guild shows in and around Dallas, Texas.

Pat has also shown one of her quilts at the annual International Quilt Festival  always held in Houston.

Thanks again for that pretty, seasonal and hand made item, Pat. And congratulations on your latest recognitions for quilting arts in Sulphur Springs, TX this month.

And another table topper:

Final cosmos showing their colors in the evening dusk:

Monday, October 5, 2009

St. Francis of Assisi: Blessing of the Animals

Sunday was a special day for all our animal companions as it was the day of  the Blessing of the Animals, a tradition set aside to honor St. Francis of Assisi.  This Blessing of the Animals was given in recognition of God's love for all creatures, and acknowledging that humans are helped by animals.
Oct. 4 is the day set aside to honor St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226). St. Francis had a great love for all of God's creatures, and for many years a blessing of animals has been held on his feast day. The appreciation of animals is part of celebrating the creative love that God has bestowed on the world. Blessing the animal companions honors how God touches humans through each creature.

St. Francis is not the only saint who loved animals. In drawings found in medieval manuscripts, there are images of early animal blessings performed by St. Anthony the Abbott (also known as St. Anthony of Egypt), who lived in the third century. The first formal church-organized animal blessings were held in Rome in the early 20th century...

Yesterday, at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Grand Junction, there was a special service to bless the animals.

Click on links below if you want to learn more about how our Therapy Dog Libby goes about her day, and information about Therapy Dog International:.

Libby's Work Day (a video)

A recent communication from Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado relayed the need for additional dogs for use with their patients.  Contact Judy in Grand Junction at 970-241-2212 for further information if you would like to offer your dog and yourself as hospice dog team volunteers.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Socks Knit Inside-Out on Bottom of Foot

A few weeks ago, while listening to the Knit Picks Podcast, guest Sandra McAlister talked about knitting the bottom part of socks inside out, creating the purl stitch on the outside of the sock.  This means that the knit part of the fabric on the bottom of the foot eliminates the "knobbiness" of the purl stitch closest to the skin.

Several people even commented on the show notes that this technique would be great for a person with diabetes and those ever present foot ulcers common to diabetics.  Sandra knits socks in this manner because she is a long distance walker, and blisters are less likely to occur when walking long distances if the sock is smooth where it touches the bottom of the foot.

What a great idea, huh?  So I made the second sock of THE PERFECT FIT Socks by Becca in this manner.  Here is how the heel and bottom of the feet look with the purl side to the outside:

As soon as these socks are dry and off the sock blockers, I'll be anxious to see if there is a noticeable difference in foot comfort while walking.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Newsboy Cap with Brim to Knit

This newsboy cap is next on my needles.

The pattern can be found (free) here.

What color?  Reddish?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Clapotis Finished; Another Clapotis Begun

Silk and wool, a 50/50 blend from Lorna's Laces, was used to complete the Clapotis Scarf begun in August. I added a crocheted edging, and the scarf/shawl finished off in an 18" x 70" size. 

Since the clapotis pattern was a fun one to knit, I started another one, decreasing the width.  This time I'm using the very affordable Hand Dyed Knit Picks Lace Weight Shimmer Yarn (70% baby alpaca wool/30% silk) and will add beads to the perimeter of the scarf.  This is what Knit Picks says about the lace weight Shimmer yarn:
From subtle to striking, Shimmer takes lace knitting to the top of the statement-making meter. The silk adds a luxurious sheen to the softest baby alpaca, and the hand dyed colors are a visual treat. The alpaca and silk blend provides a level of warmth that disregards the feather light quality of the finished garment. A scarf in Shimmer will add a punch of color to your outfit, but a shawl could be the dramatic focal point of any ensemble.

This is the first lace weight yarn I've purchased. I am using two strands of the yarn while knitting, increasing the diameter of the yarn by 100% with this method, but the stitches are still light weight. The baby alpaca wool and silk blend has a nice feel to it: very soft!  The beads shown in the picture are 8 mm seed beads in blues, lavender and turquoise and will be added as a finishing embellishment.

The Clapotis Scarf pattern can be found by clicking on the highlighted text.