Friday, August 11, 2017

local history: Estes Park and the Stanleys

Estes Park has long been a favorite day-out excursion with friends and family, and although it can seem very touristy, there are lots of fun things to do.  Currently, my aunt (Aunt Banana) and uncle live there, and we spent the night at their house to have a little extra time to explore (and because we like hanging out with them!)   

We had never been to the famous Stanley Hotel, although it is a grand presence above the lake as we enter town from the east.  It is said to be haunted.  We walked up from our parking spot on the main strip to get a closer look at this lovely example of Georgian architecture.  Luckily, we encountered no ghosts.  

What a gorgeous staircase; we learned later that the four different balusters on each step were designed to represent the four seasons.  

What we didn't realize when we planned this trip was that the town of Estes Park is celebrating its 100th year this summer!  Aunt Banana called to ask if we would be interested in touring the home of F.O. Stanley - not the hotel, but his actual home.  This was definitely a unique opportunity, as the home is a private residence and not often open to the public.  In the last hundred years, in spite of the property belonging to two families after the Stanleys, there are a surprising number of original details still in the house, including floor plan, woodwork, front stair case, wall paper, bathroom fixtures, and some light fixtures (although they were originally gas.)  Other items that have been replaced still maintain period charm.  The staircase in the Stanley home was the precursor to the one in the hotel.  Unfortunately, the tour started in a side door and finished at another, and we never got a good glimpse of the front of the house, up close.  However, we did learn that the home and hotel exteriors were originally a mustard yellow!  

 original wallpaper, staircase, and light switches

original fixtures in the bathroom, including sink and tub

When we returned from the tour into town, we ran into none other than Mr. and Mrs. F.O. Stanley!  He commented to me about these crazy cars from the future.  I thought that was funny.  
It was fun to step back in time and learn a bit about what the Stanleys contributed to our state and society, from the hotel to the Stanley Steamer, photographic advancements, and his love of hand-crafting violins.  

Besides the Stanleys, we had a quick trip through Rocky Mountain National Park, where we saw some beautiful waterfalls, and lots of creatures.  It was a great day for the tour, and I may have found time for some sweater knitting.  

And of course we walked through town, and bought some taffy.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

pictures of July

The new school year is looming near; we are savoring the end of summer!
ETA:  the last picture is just fun with water balloons and a needle.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Donna's Hat

Donna was my mom's friend, but she was my friend, too.  She was an incredible crafter.  She did everything from knit and crochet to ribbon embroidery, beading, and was a beautiful quilter. Quite a collector, she gathered fat quarters, of course, and miniature perfume bottles, Jim Shore figurines, antique hand mirrors, thimbles, and steins.  She was great fun on a shop hop! Her son was my first boyfriend - we were three! 

Donna's mini perfume bottles

In early 2013, Donna passed away from breast cancer.  It was at least her second battle with the disease; she had also had it many years before.  At her funeral, her casket was draped with a gorgeous quilt.

In October of 2013, I had been working with Windy Valley Muskox for a couple of years, and wrote a hat pattern for them in honor of Donna.  I started a post about this, but I just didn't know what to say about Donna.  I did not want to give the impression that I would profit from her family's loss.  And I did not; I did not charge Windy Valley for this pattern, and as was my hope, they donate 100% of the money for this pattern to Halos for Hope.  Even now, four years later, all the money goes to HoH.  As I was combing through unfinished posts, I came across this one, barely started; it is time to get it out there!

Details on the pattern:
Donna's Hat can be purchased at Windy Valley Muskox, here.
This is a pretty basic hat pattern, with some cabling in the brim and the cable up the front, as pictured.
The original sample is knitted on size US6 needles, from one skein of Windy Valley Muskox 100% cashmere, in 3003 Peacock Blue.  Windy Valley now has 11 gorgeous colors of cashmere, including Natural White.  Of course, a "chemo cap" in cashmere is for a special person; or perhaps you will knit it for yourself or a friend, in honor of a special person.  I would love to hear about who you knit it for!

If you would like to donate hats or money to Halos of Hope, I cannot speak highly enough of the founder and this organization.  To learn more, visit their website.

It makes my heart happy to remember Donna, and I appreciate very much that Windy Valley Muskox has been so completely generous with this pattern.  Thank you for reading my little story.


Monday, July 10, 2017

July: halfway through the year

The last few weeks have been busy with few things concrete enough to post about (or photograph).   As we are about halfway through the year, and our busiest weeks of summer are now past, I am hoping to savor this week, to reestablish routine and remind myself of the things I want to accomplish this year. 

I haven't crossed much off my list of goals for the year, but I have crossed off a few.  It is nice to have a benchmark, to know I am not just treading water.  And there is still half the year to enjoy, a little time to reach a few more goals. 

I see my kids spending a lot of time bored, with their imaginations limited by charging cords and gaming limits.

I think, I hope, we will spend some time in the next two weeks, offline: drawing, hiking, walking, reading, knitting, exploring, photographing, tasting, smelling, hearing.  Maybe I'll finally get the finishing done on this beautiful jacket.  I'll let you know!

Monday, June 19, 2017


Stopping to smell the beautiful roses (which smell wonderful.)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

knitting, and other almost-summer activities

Today, I finished painting, and then planted, the flower box I've wanted ever since we built the shed.  Unfortunately, it's been long enough since we built the shed that it needs a new coat of paint, as well! 

We get eggs from a friend with lots of chickens, and made scones today.  We had a nice morning in the shade, including fresh scones, cherries, tea, coffee or milk, and a few games of checkers. 
And now, I will be attempting to finish reassembling the screen door I took apart last week.  Then I might have time for weaving in a few of the thousands of ends on the Oriental Jacket I am working on.  The knitting is done, at least!  

What are you working on this weekend?  Finishing any projects?  Reading any good books?  

Friday, June 2, 2017

artist: Scott, luthier

Back in January, I spent some time with Scott, a luthier.  

You might wonder what a luthier is; he is a maker of stringed instruments.
At one time, I had a boyfriend with a roommate whose step-dad made guitars.  When I started my artists and craftsmen series, I knew I had to include him.  My boyfriend, (who has stuck around many years after marrying me) thought it was a good idea; so here's a little of what I experienced on a wintry day with a luthier who makes stringed things by hand.  Literally, he carved on an archtop guitar while we talked.  

He built the guitar and the harp in the first picture, most pieces carved from blocks of wood.  Other things he does by hand: fills out receipts (on paper), writes books (in notebooks), plays guitar.  And I will admit, I was pretty enamored to meet someone who still has a phone that is completely attached to the wall. 

I really enjoyed talking to this kindred spirit; we discussed synesthesia (another word you probably haven't heard before,) the whys of art, and all there is to enjoy about having a face-to-face conversation.  I had a deep appreciation for his relationship to his work: everything made custom for exact purposes; jars of nuts and other bits of pieces, saved for some future need.  And no internet at his house - none needed (although he was proud of his daughter's blog.)  

spare nuts
instruments ready for pick-up
 harp detail

At one point, a customer stopped by to pick up his instrument, and having no idea why I was there, assured me that Scotty is a gem in the music world, and how lucky we were to find him.  

So now you know what a luthier is, and I hope if you need one, you find one as talented (and fun and interesting) as this guy!  

Friday, May 26, 2017

good things to come...

I think I might actually blog more efficiently if I were writing by hand; I love a good pen gliding along paper in swirls and dips.  

Anyway, I took an unintentional hiatus from blogging, there.  I did read some, and discover new ones, though, and I am happy to see so many people are still blogging in this era of Facebook and Instagram.  It takes more of an effort, doesn't it? to hunt out lovely blogs, but like many intentional acts, I find it brings a higher percentage of good results than whatever debris lands on my Facebook feed.  

The school year is ended and our garden is just in the beginning stages, so I find it is a good time to review my goals for the year, the season, and begin again.  In anticipation of good things to come:  

a new batch of vanilla extract in progress.  

Monday, February 20, 2017


February has been unseasonably mild.  
It's President's Day.  Everyone has the day off except, well, my day is the same as usual.  

I spent the morning writing up a new hat pattern for Windy Valley Muskox.  At shows, we often have customers ask whether we have men's patterns.  Many of our patterns could be unisex, depending on the color it's knit in, but this was designed with the guys in mind.  Of course, it would look equally nice on a woman, in my opinion.  Anyway, this one's photographed on a man, so hopefully that will answer the question!  

Once I get the pattern posted on Ravelry, I will come back and add a link.  For now, a few details and a picture:

Yarn:  WVM's Australian Merino in 7014 Bering Sea, and WVM's Luxury Blend in 7015 Celestial Blue
Needles:  US 3/3.25mm and US 4/3.5mm, both 16", and US 4 dpns.  
It's lined - the qiviut blend is on the inside for extra warmth and luxury.  
Project page:  on Ravelry.

I know it's so dark, but manly color, you know.  You can see a bit of shine around the edge where the qiviut blend, which includes silk, peeks over.  

The other project I worked on was pruning my raspberries.  As I said, it's been so mild here; it seemed wasteful to spend the whole day inside.  I love having my own fruit, even if it's a few days here, a few weeks there, and I thought it was probably time I looked a little further into care for the canes.  I read this article and watched this video, which say the same thing essentially, and then set to work.  Now I hope for a healthy bounty, come September.  

 last September:

One more tidbit, my friend Susan was featured in the March 2017 issue of American Quilter.  Wow!  Congrats, Susan!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

not quite 116 in 2016

I decided in favor of quality vs. quantity, this year.  At the end of last year (2015), I chose to round out my set with the best I had... it wasn't the worst but I did not to do that this time.  And there were some I just didn't want to shoot.  Here are some favorites from the this year's list.  

creature comforts 

                               a map

out of place



                              nature's jewels

                                    a gate

You can see the rest of my set here