Tuesday, December 5, 2017

when knitters are in the forest

We made our annual visit to the National Forest to cut down a Christmas tree last weekend.  This tradition is important in many ways: we like to spend time with family, we like to spend time outdoors, we like that we're helping our local forest service by thinning the forest - and we know firsthand about forest fires.  Most importantly, although I don't know of  a direct tie-in from Christmas trees to the meaning of Christmas, we are so blessed to celebrate the birth of Christ. 

So if you're a knitter, and you're walking around in a high country forest, what do you wear??  I'll tell you! 

~ a qiviut blend hat, pattern Aisling
~ a wool cowl, pattern Folsom Points
~ a hooded, long, wool and alpaca sweater, pattern Cobblestone Trenchcoat
~ some stranded-colorwork wool mittens,pattern Now with Thicker Frosting!

~ and don't forget wool socks! pattern, my own recipe 


Picture by my husband, and yes, we found the perfect tree!  

Saturday, October 28, 2017

pattern: Tree Delivery, a hot water bottle wrap

Of the many ways that learning to knit has changed my life, one of the most obvious is through physical warmth.  (I was surprised what a difference a real wool hat made over the cheap imitations I'd been wearing.)  And then, there was the hot water bottle cozy.  After seeing them on Ravelry through the years, I bought the first hot water bottle as a gift for a friend who is always cold.  I thought, maybe I need one, too.  I knit hers a snugly cocoon before giving it, but I never got around to knitting one for mine.  Until now!  


This basic little invention has warmed my bed, my chair, my feet, while I read, knit, sleep; in the car on a cold, early drive, and in a hotel room when my roommate likes the A/C cranked!  I use it when I'm sick, and every now and then, I surrender it to a sick little boy, who humbly asks if he can borrow it "just for one night."  I fold up a woolen blanket and place it under my desk, and throw the hot water bottle on top for hours of warmth while I type, edit, and so on.  On winter days home alone, it's my constant companion.  

It's about time that I knitted a wrap for my favorite foot warmer, a little softer for my feet to rest on than the rubber or plastic of the bottle.  And may I say, much prettier, too!!  Whether traveling to strange lands, or movie night on the couch with people who don't understand why you're always cold, there's something so comforting about having your own little armful of warmth.  And another reason to break out the needles and yarn?  Bonus!  

If you would like to knit this pattern, you can find it on Ravelry - free for a limited time.  More details below:

Pattern link on RavelryTree Delivery
One Size (easily modified, though, and with plenty of stretch)
Yarn: Cascade Yarns' Longwood Sport in 4 Red & 46 Cream
Needles: US4 - 16" or magic loop on 40"

I'm working on a green and white one, next!  

Saturday, September 30, 2017

butterflies abound

Several Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies have stopped in our garden on their migration path this year.  Isn't it magical?!










Friday, September 8, 2017

Photography

A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed. 
Ansel Adams


Ah, light.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

late-August delights

A beetle on a recent photo shoot.



I didn't think the eclipse would be a big deal, and it was my first "normal" day home, alone, in months, so I made no plans.  As the moment arrived, I did go outside and spend time enjoying the changing shadows -I  had no glasses or other viewing equipment.  What a regular/expected thing, and yet so glorious and unique and bonding.  I wish I had made the effort to share this experience with someone I love, but I'm glad I didn't miss it.  Celestial events like this always remind me of the short story, All Summer in a Day.  Heartbreaking.  

Saturday, August 26, 2017

morning tea, now it is political


Early morning tea...  

I recently read a discussion on Flickr about whether and how to capture steam (from food) and that it is often faked with smoke.  Not my first shot of a hot, fresh cup of tea; I'm thinking tea stays steamy longer than bread.  I enjoy all my senses getting involved:  the smell of the blend in the tin, watching the color disburse in the water, the sound of the sugar granules breaking the surface, the warmth of the cup, and of course, the taste.  Having tea is one of my favorite morning rituals.  


I recently realized that my favorite variety of tea has begun an affiliation that, to put it simply, I find appalling.  And out of character - or so I would have thought.  I am heartbroken to lose this little, daily moment of savoring what is good, what is simple, what is home.  And I wonder, what should I do about it?  Does this company really mean that they've joined up with the anger and hate?  Or did they feel pressured?  Extorted?  Or am I overthinking it all?  I am reminded of an article I read this month on the silent majority.  I will probably write a letter to the tea company; not an angry, accusing letter, just the opinion of one loyal customer.  I wonder if it will matter.

On the look-out for a new tea company to invest my mornings with, I contacted a small tea company that I followed on Instagram; they're a bit more local, and I asked a few questions.  I got a response wondering about my questions, but when I explained my plight, I did not hear back.  Salt in the wound!  Or maybe I'm overthinking it again.  I am not giving up, though.  My mother-in-law introduced me to Constant Comment, which is also delightful and will do in a pinch; and Celestial Seasonings is local, but I like loose tea.  
If you have a favorite tea, company, blend, I would love recommendations!?   

In the meantime, perhaps I will track down some tea from the Brown Palace Hotel, where I spent a lovely afternoon last winter, with a friend. 



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.

Karen 

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

roses


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!