Friday, December 31, 2010

Try This On For Size

Ten stitches made all the difference.

The fingerless mitt on the left had a 60 stitch cast on with size 3 US needles.  The one on the right had a 50 stitch cast on with the same knitting needles.

My husband claimed the left mitt and the other one is mine.  Now I have to make two more in the same (differing) sizes.

Maybe I can find us purple matching polyester running suits, and then we can wear them with our mitts when we walk the dogs. 

On second thought...not.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Moebius Cowl

This is my second knitted moebius scarf with the free download of the Cat Bordhi pattern found here.

One skein of a chunky yarn and a 47" circular cable was used (thanks, Natalie, for the use of your cable).

Here is some information from the Berkeley Lab about the moebius, which has no beginning and no ending:
Möbius symmetry, the topological phenomenon that yields a half-twisted strip with two surfaces but only one side, has been a source of fascination since its discovery in 1858 by German mathematician August Möbius. As artist M.C. Escher so vividly demonstrated in his “parade of ants,” it is possible to traverse the “inside” and “outside” surfaces of a Möbius strip without crossing over an edge.
Once the cast-on is mastered, it is just a matter of knitting in whatever pattern you like; infinite possibilities, of course.

Here is Bordhi's video explanation of the Moebius cast on:

 I'll definitelyt knit this pattern again.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Thought on Being Thankful

What is it all about?

Go here for a ponder.

Rudy Favard, 17, cradled Sammy Parker, 8, as he carried him upstairs. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)

Christmas Blessings to all, especially to the caregivers among us who often give more than gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Father Plough Shares at Christmas

This is taken from a series of homilies written and compiled into a spiral bound book "Father Plough Shares" by Fr. James Plough of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Grand Junction, Colorado:
...What did Joseph and Mary hope for on that first Christmas?  Remember that they were on a journey; they were away from home  They faced an uncertain future.  They lived in darkness.  The story of Bethlehem inevitably suggests a comparison between that moment and our own.

Our moment is a time of darkness, to be sure.  We face an uncertain future from weapons of mass destruction and shadowy networks of international terrorists.  Has the world ever known a more dangerous time than now?  The holy family had less to fear from the wicked King Herod than we do from today's radical extremists.  The holy family trusted that God's word to them would be fulfilled, that Mary would bear a son to be named Jesus.
...The story of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, taken in a particular place and in a particular moment of time, reminds us each year that our personal lives and the communal lives of nations are also journeys, moving always into an uncertain future, remembering the past and renewing its wisdom, but never simply repeating the past, a journey made in faith and trust, confident that the final word of the story will be one of light shining in darkness and life triumphant over death.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hey! Granny Square Afghan Finished

...and I am not even a grandma!

In all its glory:
The husband does not like all the colors.  And I can just hear my mother saying "...if you would make one in off-white and beige, it would look better with my decor"...  But I like it because it makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Awkward Family Photos

Some of the best Awkward Family Photos can be found HERE.  You must, absolutely must, peruse this site for plenty of guffaws.  They are even having a "Best Family Photo Submission with Holiday Spirit" that is open for submissions until midnight December 22, 2010.

A few holiday favorites:
by Brad

My submission the the 2010 Awkward Family Photo Contest (my daughter in 1971 on the lap of a boozy Santa):

Another priceless photo can be seen on my husband's blog found here.

We laughed for an hour over these photos. 

Merry Christmas !

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Carving on Cottonwood

The man of the house has been encouraging me for several years to take up carving.  He may be wanting me to try this new hobby because a while back, he gave me a Dremel tool set that has not been getting much use.  Brother John bequeathed me wood carving tools and a heavy hand turned solid wooden mallet from a white elephant exchange a few years ago, so why wait further to begin a new hobby, right?

Having all the appropriate paraphernalia (including several pieces of tree wood, the Dremel set and wood carving tools, sandpaper and paints), inspiration was all that was needed.

My first thought was to try and carve a forest gnome from this "raw branch" from the wood pile we use as fuel for our fire pit:

But wait!  My analytic side said that a web search on wood carving was also needed.  A refresher course on the Dremel tool for wood carving was found here; carving on wood information was found here; more basics on how to carve were found here.  And finally, rules for carving faces from Gene Graham were found and can be accessed below the page break.

This rescued branch had an outgrowth of small twigs growing from it. After a bit of finessing with the Dremel sander and various small drills, it began to resemble an open mouth. Those twigs were filed down and refined and lo and behold, they began looking like big old teeth!

This is what the "Christmas deer" or gnome, or dog is looking like, but he still needs lots of work on his ears, forehead and temple.

It is a warm Saturday, so more carving refinement might be on today's agenda.  And it will need paint!

To read more about carving heads from Gene Graham:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Christmas Angel from Nebraska

This is a Garrison Keillor writing appropriate for the season:
...My own Christmas vision appeared three days before Christmas, in a deli on 10th Avenue in New York, where a rather elegant young woman was managing a herd of eight teenaged boys, ordering their breakfasts from the lady behind the counter. The boys spoke Spanish, which the young woman translated into English for the counter lady. I'm standing there, waiting my turn, observing. The boys are docile, cautious, soft-spoken, and then it dawns on me that they are so because of brain damage, mild retardation, however you want to put it, and the young woman is their hired shepherd. A teacher's aide, perhaps. Probably minimum wage. She is lovely, green-eyed, dark hair spilling down on a puffy parka, red wool scarf, and her English sounds very Midwestern to me.

The boys want muffins for breakfast except one boy who earnestly desires a sesame bagel, toasted, with cream cheese, but the deli is all out of sesame, and this is a cruel disappointment to him. He really was counting on it. When you are 14 and so desperately vulnerable in the big city, you do pin your hopes on certain small pleasures. His face crumples and he is about to melt, and the elegant young green-eyed woman puts her head down next to his where he sits slumped on the deli stool. Her pale cheek against his cheek, she murmurs to him and a string of his enormous tears runs onto her face and she wipes it away and says something in Spanish that makes him laugh. And then I notice at the end of her red scarf, the word "Nebraska." Nobody would wear this in New York except a Nebraskan.

I might've asked her a few questions, but she had turned her street face toward me, and so I didn't bother her. A girl from the prairie using her Spanish to care for damaged boys in a callous world where, contrary to everything the Savior said, the poor and powerless get short shrift -- in the U.S. Senate and elsewhere — and she is sharing the tears of the sesame boy and making him laugh. She's my Christmas angel. I hope she gets to go to a party and sing and dance until 3 a.m.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Granny Squares Galore

Having chosen nine different colors of yarn that roughly mirror the colors in the painting previously posted here, granny squares are being crocheted.

This free pattern for a granny square afghan requires 30 granny squares with dimensions of 9" x 9". So far, I have 14 finished.

A few pictures of some completed crocheted squares:

Then the question of how to join them together comes up. How to do this?

Mikey knows! (method 1, the single crochet, is the favored method):

saga to be continued of Granny Squares Galore...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Heifer International and a Podcast Drawing

Listening to Clothed in the Lamb on her recent podcast, subscribers learned that Janeen not only talked about her "fiber adventures," but also gave an incentive for those contributing to Heifer International.

Janeen says about this program:
What Heifer International does is they give animals to impoverished communities. They teach them all they need to know about how to raise the animals, breed them, and use and sell the products of the animals. I’m talking about goats, cows, pigs, rabbits, chickens, bees, llamas, water buffalo, and of course sheep!

Here’s what they do with, say a sheep. They go into a community and choose a family to train about how to care for sheep. When the family is ready, they give them a healthy female sheep, making sure there is healthy breeding stock nearby. Through the next year, the sheep provides the family with wool which they can use to clothe themselves or which they can sell. In time, they breed their own sheep, and give one or more of the offspring to another family in need. This new family agrees to do the same, and so it continues. With the gift of one sheep, a whole community is helped.
The Recycled Lamb in Lakewood, Colorado is the sponsor for this yarny give away.  So how about helping out Heifer International and join in with a sense of community spirit?

All the details about the contest can be found here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sage Remedy Top

Remember the "Sage Remedy" Ravelry sweater with capped sleeved and a lace pattern that first showed up on this blog here?

This is a picture of the yarn while in progress:

And here it is completed:

It knitted up fairly quickly and is warm enough to use as a light sweater outside, yet comfortable enough to wear indoors.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Granny Square on Steroids

The first granny square was addictive, once I got the hang of simple crochet.  9 inches square (it is supposed to be square, that is, although it looks a bit wobbly around the perimeter):

Whilst watching tv, the little 9 inch square looked up and said "FEED ME".  Really.

So back to the craft closet for odds and ends of yarn, and more crocheting.  It will end up an afghan because it just keeps growing.

It is abour two feet square now and continuing to add girth.  It is eating up wool, acrylic, possum fur, and every blended fiber in my stash. 

Even without vitamins, it is growing like a weed.

The pattern can be found here under Heirloom Stitches.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Picasa Web Album Photos

Just found that Google has an inbed code for pictures that are uploaded to their albums. 

Here are pictures from October (167 total) from London, Bath and Wales (Cardiff, mostly, and some in Tenby)

CRAFTLIT TOUR 2010 (London, Bath, Wales)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Apple Dumplings

You probably think that all thoughts of dessert the day before Thanksgiving in the US are on pumpkin pie. 

But this is what I'm going to do in a few minutes for breakfast (don't scold about the calories, ok?): apple dumplings.

This recipe is so easy and I love the syrup that covers the apple dumplings.  The weird part is that canned soda pop is added before cooking.
Here is the recipe and video from FoodTv:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Free Fonts (monthly) at Outside the Line

Wow.  Outside -the -Line, written by Rae, Justine and Nancy V., offers a free font of the month if you sign up for their monthly newsletter.

Here is the example page of their November font give away, called Holiday Doodles, found at this webpage.

A fun new free toy to work with !!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Stewardship of Pain

You probably have a book, or poem, letter or picture you sometimes review to keep your focus on what is important in your life.

I would like to share this missile with universal meaning. These are excerpts from a sermon by Fredrick Buchner, whose "many books include the critically acclaimed The Sacred Journey, Whistling in the Dark, and Godric, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times has called Fred Buechner the finest religious writer in America."  (Source: 30 Good Minutes)

The Physician, Pablo Ruiz (Ciencia Y Caridad, Barcelona, 1816-1897)

Someone once said to Buchner:

"You have had a fair amount of pain in your life, like everybody else. You have been a good steward of it."
That phrase caught me absolutely off guard -- to be a steward of your pain. I didn't hear it as a compliment particularly. It is not as if I had set out to be a steward of my pain, but rather something that happened.
I thought a lot about what the stewardship of pain means; the ways in which we deal with pain. Beside being a steward of it, there are alternatives. The most tempting is to forget it, to hide it, to cover it over, to pretend it never happened, because it is too hard to deal with.
Buechner goes on...
Stewardship of pain. What does that mean? I have thought a lot about it. I think it means, before anything else, to keep in touch with your pain, to keep in touch with the sad times, with the hard times of your past for many reasons. I think it is often those times when we were most alive, when we were somehow closest to being most vitally human beings. 
Keep in touch with it because it is at those moments of pain where you are most open to the pain of other people -- most open to your own deep places. Keep in touch with those sad times because it is then that you are most aware of your own powerlessness, crushed in a way by what is happening to you, but also most aware of God's power to pull you through it, to be with you in it. Keeping in touch with your pain, I think, means also to be true to who in your depths you have it in you to be -- depths of pain and also in a way depths of joy, because they both come from the same place.
Pain can become a treasure if we treasure it to the point where it can become compassion and healing, not just for ourselves, but also for other people. If you want to see that sort of thing in operation, the treasuring of pain, the using of pain to the healing of yourself and others, someday attend an open meeting of AA or any of the related groups. That is exactly what those people are doing, sharing their hurts, their experiences and their joys.
And remember the cross. It seems to me that the cross of Christ in a way speaks somewhat like this same word, saying that out of that greatest pain endured in love and faithfulness, comes the greatest beauty and our greatest hope.
Read the entire writing of Fredrick Buchner here at 30 Good Minutes.  It is good to remember.

Better yet, listen to his sermon on your computer by clicking on his recording back in 1992.  It can be found at the top of the website.  His voice is comforting yet authoritative.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

William and Kate: How about their Future?

There are mixed reviews as for the future of William and Kate's life.

Here is China's Report from fortune telling prognosticators: (bleak)

What will they name their children? (Harry, Rose)

Will Princess Diana affect their marriage? (she will)

How much will the wedding cost? ($15 M)

What is the benefit to the UK in monetary terms relating to this union? (620 M pounds...over $100 M)
It is no wonder that Prime Minister David Cameron was thrilled at the news stating that: "This is a great day for our country, a great day for the Royal Family and obviously a great day for Prince William and Kate. As well as this being a great moment for national celebration”

Cha Ching!
When Princess Diane and Prince Charles married thirty years ago, daughter Julie stayed up all night to watch their televised wedding.  I wonder if she will do the same for William and Catherine.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Complementary Colors and Fibers

New color books on my bookshelf and a few older ones helped me prepare for a new fiber project.  Color books speak a different perspective on choosing a color palette, helping me define a new project in color choices I don't usually gravitate to.

Taking one of my oil paintings in purples, blues and greens and going to the color wheel for assistance, new yarn was purchased to make an afghan of granny squares.  This is ambitious as 18 skeins of yarn were purchased from Knit Picks.
Identifying the colors in the painting, I found these yarns at Knit Picks online.

On the color wheel, complementary colors are directly across from one another in the circle. Example: choosing the color red, its complementary color is green. Split Complementary Colors are "one off" from the opposite color. The split complements of red are the two colors on either side of the complementary color. Using this information, playing with the colors in making yarn selections opens up a whole new world from simply choosing one or two of your favorite colors for project work.

Here are the two books that I will be referencing to make the afghan from those 18 yarn skeins.  It will never be boring as there are 200 patterns, all the same size, that will keep this handwork ever changing.

The first book, 200 Crochet Blocks, is a gem.
First, the good: all of the blocks are designed to be the same size, so you can mix and match them as you please. This is a considerable help. I have a number of vintage crochet-block books from the 60s and 70s, and none of the blocks are the same size, so it takes a lot of tweaking for each block if you want to make an afghan.
Not so when starting from scratch, making each square the same dimensions and allowing for a uniform size.

The second book, Knitter's Yarn Palette, had a fun color wheel made of yarn to illustrate the use of the color wheel when choosing yarns:
Webs has this explanation of Knitter's Yarn Palette on its website:
This unique book explains everything there is to know about weight, gauge, texture, and the suitability of mixing yarns using a wide range of 30 projects that revolve around 10 themes including: Seashores, delicate shades of sky and sand, string, cotton, and linen yarns, ripple-effect techniques. Lazy Meadow, grassy green, poppy red, buttercup yellow, soft, silky, velvety yarns, ruffling and layering techniques. Tribal Adventure, earth tones, linen, wools, and felted yarns, felting techniques.
The washable and soft woolen yarns are a feast to the eyes and will definitely brighten up the coming dark winter days as I work with them.

handmade projects

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Husband

Today marks another birthday for my husband

The dogs in our house gave him several presents: a box of fish crackers (they really like them), a pair of boxer shorts with dogs on them, and a new dog toy already named "Gramps" by the maufacturer:

Gramps has a cane, a hat, squeaks when you touch him on his belly, and comes with an attitude. Just like my husband when he takes the dogs on their daily walk!!

CharmingPetProducts put this on the label:
Grampa Gimpy Hip was born in the old country, although he can't quite recall which country that was exactly.  Most of his day is spent entertaining young chicken whippersnappers with stories of yesteryear, the vast majority of which are wildly inaccurate and historically impossible...(more)
This is my 500th post, and it seemed proper to mark it with Gene's birthday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shalom Cardigan and a Sturdy Knit Edging

This cap sleeve cardigan, knit in chunky weight wool, was a very easy knit and had just enough variation in stitches to make it interesting.  It is a free Ravelry download and is called the Shalom Cardigan.  Designer Meghan McFarlane says of this design:
Shalom is a simple knitted cardigan with a striking appearance. This triple-yoked sweater is seamlessly knit in the round, top down, with a single button closure. The cap sleeves bow out slightly from the body to create a more dramatic shape.
On McFarlane's page on Ravelry, a picture of the Shalom Cardigan:

Paula, The Knitting Piper, pod caster and blogger, explained a different way to bind off stitches and I incorporated it into the Shalom Cardigan for the sleeve and bottom edges.  It is both more attractive and sturdier than any other bind off method I have used.  Here are her instructions:
My Favorite Edging for Nearly Everything
Knit to the next to the last stitch.
Yarn forward and leave it there.
Slip last stitch.
Turn work.
Knit into back of first stitch.
Then continue to slip over that stitch which you have knit into the back, creating the bind off.

Close up of the bound off edge: (disregard the blue background)

My modified and finished Shalom:

The picture is too dark and I really should have ironed that turtle neck for the picture.  Oh, well. is the actual yarn color:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocates

Long time friend Sharon in Dallas encouraged me to pursue CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteerism this summer when we visited over iced tea and salads.  I had been thinking of this for some time, knowing the great need for CASA volunteers in Mesa County, Colorado.  But Sharon spurred me on to start the process of child advocacy due to her commitment as a Dallas County CASA.
Here is more about CASA in Mesa County from their website:and from the Dallas Morning News:
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Mesa County (CASA-MC), recruits, screens, and trains volunteers to speak in court on behalf of children who are abused, neglected or abandoned by their families. These volunteers are the eyes and ears of the Judge. Judges, make the final decision of where a child will live. Will the child be returned to the parent or will parental rights be terminated and the child be placed for adoption. This decision is influenced by the information the volunteer provides to a Judge and could be a major determining factor in the future of that child.
Casa means home, but for thousands of abused and neglected children, it's an acronym that has even more meaning – it's the best chance of finally finding safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.
A CASA volunteer performs these functions on behalf of the child who comes under the court system because of neglect or abuse:
  • investigates the needs and situation of the child...
  • has regular, in-person contact with the child sufficient to have in-depth knowledge of the case
  • makes fact-based recommendations to the court
  • seeks cooperative solutions by acting as a facilitator among conflicting parties
  • advocates for the best interest of the child, including providing reports that include findings and recommendations
  • files interim court reports of important developments in the case
  • advocates for the child's interests in the community by interfacing with mental health, educational and other community systems to assure that the child's needs in these areas are met
  • monitors implementation of service plans and court orders, assuring that court-ordered services are implemented in a timely manner and that review hearing are held in accordance with the law
  • participates in all scheduled case conferences with supervisory staff
  • participates in in-service training
  • maintains complete records about the case, including appointments, interviews and information gathered ab out the child and the child's life circumstances
  • records volunteer hours and submits times sheet to program office
  • maintains strict confidentiality on all cases
  • complies with all applicable statutory requirements pertaining to confidentiality of client information  (from volunteer training manual)
This list may look exhaustive, but as with other worthwhile efforts, much satisfaction can be derived from giving of your time and talents.

 To whom much is given is much required. [Luke 12:48

John F Kennedy : For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by ...

More than a dozen of us will be sworn in as CASA representatives on November 15, 2010 by the Honorable David Bottger, Chief Judge of the 21st Judicial District in Mesa County, Colorado.

In Mesa County, contact 970-242-4191 or email to for further information about how you might become a CASA advocate. (Children from birth to six years of age are the age group under the "expedited permanency planning process" in most states.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Falling Leaves

My blogger friend Alina at the purple caravan showed this picture first.  I grabbed it.

Image from Bing

Here is some music to go along with it:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Knitting Conversation with Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Graphic assistance and creativity by brother Chuck McCarroll.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Sound of Onions Frying

I've become interested in sounds, thanks to Felix at her PhD blogsite.  She is studying sounds in Oxford, England.  She says, in part:
I am studying for my PhD at Oxford Brookes University. My PhD title is ‘The Domestic Soundscape and presenting everyday sounds to audiences,’ and my major interest is in our imaginative relationship with everyday sounds. I think of sound in a very material way, as a substance which is around us all the time, and a texture which can be played with, deliberately listened-to, framed, and celebrated.
I think the world would feel completely different without the constant wash of traffic, the chorus of birdsong, the snap of twigs when one walks in the woods, the happy pops that emanate from an open fire, the comforting drone of a boiler heating the house in Winter, the bubble of a stew when one is hungry, and the rasp of toast as it is being buttered. I love the busy murmur of the streets on a Saturday morning, the aggressive banging and hissing of a really good espresso machine in a coffee house, the pinging of pedestrian light-systems signalling that it is safe to cross a road, the strange noise my car makes when I drive over a cattle-grid, and the sizzle of pylons in a rainstorm.
Saturday nights are a favorite radio listening date night for my husband and me since we listen to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion (PHC).  And this sound is one which makes me happy (click on arrow to listen):

Why does it make me smile?  Because the opening song for many productions of PHC contains the lyric "I smell the onions, I look around for you."  It is a familiar phrase, and I have been known to sing along with it as my husband often sautes some onions for a dinner sauce.

Go to the London Favorite Sounds website for more information about sounds.  (The project is also being carried out in Chicago, USA, Berlin, Germany and Bejing, China).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dylan Thomas and a few Pictures from Laugharne, Wales

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) Poet
Hometown: Laugharne, Wales

Thirty-one Craftlit fans (thank you, Heather Ordover found here and here and here and here and thank you, Holiday Tour Guide Dianne Read-Jackson) saw Dylan Thomas' hometown, house, and boathouse in Laugharne, Wales.  His boathouse was where he wrote and spent the better part of his days.

A bit about Thomas:
Dylan Thomas, often described as a "classic Welsh writer", never actually learned the Welsh language himself. Though he achieved much notoriety during his short life, he received little financial gain. It was only after his death that his work truly began to be appreciated. There is no doubt, however, that he is one of the great English (language) poets of the twentieth century, arguably the greatest poet of our time. Dylan Thomas' incredible use of metaphor, meter, and a comic wit, allows his work to stand alone, balancing a reckless neo-Romantic sensuality against the more staid Puritanism of his time and culture. Thomas' lust for life and love of drink may well have contributed to his premature demise, yet his work remains, a testament to both his skill and mastery of The Word.
Are you familiar with this?  It is a quick reading by Dylan Thomas himself of one of his more notable works:

Dylan Thomas - Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Uploaded by poetictouch. - Watch original web videos.

The stage play, Under Milkwood, was a mystery to me when I was first assigned it as a class project in a 20th century literature class.  So I bought the CD (an original New York recording from 1953 which Thomas narrates himself).  His voice is unique (yes, an understatement) and I get lost in his voice, but with a little concentration, it becomes more understandable with its mischievous use of language.


Peter Ffrench, tour guide extraordinaire, gives a blessing to Craftlit travelers at the end of our journey. Peter is a retired actor with a flair for the dramatic.  He was knowledgeable, friendly and a true extrovert who was thoroughly loved by all of us.

This 30 second mp3 file is definitely worth a listen, although it was recorded on a noisy tour bus.