22 July 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Spectacular music: "We Will Rock You" written by Queen's Brian May, featured on the 2012 David Garrett CD "Music." (I enjoy David Garrett's music so much, I didn't wait for this CD to become available in the US; I purchased an imported CD just a few days after release!)



I've been anxiously watching my hit counter for the last three months, wondering when I will hit the 4,000,000 viewer mark.

In the meantime, I've shot my 99,900th shot (the snowflake photo above) with the Nikon D300 I bought in 2008. I will hit 100,000 shots on that baby this very week!!! I've never been able to coax that many shots from a digital camera before!


21 July 2014

Snowflake Monday


Last year I planted black hollyhocks because I also had seeds for black columbine and an iris bulb called Men in Black. This year I found seeds for black pincushion. I planted them all together in one area because... well, because I thought that arrangement would be cute.

The flowers, of course, are not truly black. They are deep, dark maroon and purple. So dark, they look black.

Men in Black


None of the black flowers bloomed last year. This year, grasshoppers devoured the black columbine leaves before blossoms could form. The pincushion may not bloom until next year, but hope remains for this year. This year, the iris bloomed, and the hollyhocks are going to town! I've been collecting the spent blossoms, of course...

first batch of hollyhock dye

the first hollyhock dye jar

ammonia vs. vinegar

The petals stain my hands violet. So the color has to stick, at least for a while, right? A couple of drops of ammonia turn the dye fluid blue. A couple tablespoons of vinegar turn it gorgeous purple.

Of course, I had to dye some yarn with my hollyhock juice...

my first hollyhock wool sock yarn

hollyhock steep

my first hollyhock wool sock yarn

And then some thread...

my first hollyhock thread

my first hollyhock thread

my first hollyhock thread

And of course, I had to make a Hollyhock Snowflake...

Hollyhock-dyed Hollyhock Snowflake

I think the little shell fans are shaped like hollyhock blossoms! Don't you?!?

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Hollyhock Snowflake

Finished Size: 5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Hollyhock Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in ring, * ch 7, sl st in 6th ch from hook, ch 1, 2 dc in ring; repeat from * 4 times; 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th sp of Round, ch 1, 1 dc through top of dc directly below to form 6th ch 6 loop of Round. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 3 dc over post of dc directly below, * 7 dc in next ch 5 loop; repeat from * around 4 times; 3 dc in next ch 5 loop; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 3 dc in same ch, ch 4, * 7 dc in middle (4th) dc of next 7/dc group, ch 4; repeat from * around 4 times; 3 dc in sl st ending Round 2; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 3 dc in same ch, ch 5, * 7 dc in middle (4th) dc of next 7/dc group, ch 5; repeat from * around 4 times; 3 dc in sl st ending Round 3; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 5: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 3 dc in same ch, ch 7, * 7 dc in middle (4th) dc of next 7/dc group, ch 7; repeat from * around 4 times; 3 dc in sl st ending Round 3; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 6: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), 1 dc in same ch,* ch 5, 3 dc cluster over ch spaces of previous 3 Rounds, ch 5, 1 dc in middle (4th) dc of next 7/dc group, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc, ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 2, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 dc in same middle dc of 7/dc group, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 2 dc and last ch 3 of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 5; bind off. Weave in ends.

Yes, of course, I HAD to make one in white for my special project!

Hollyhock snowflake

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

A link to the blocking template I use is located here. That website has some of the most helpful snowflake information I know of. I also have a link to it on my sidebar to the right. I try to keep all the important links there so everyone will be able to find the information they need.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

holly hollyhocks and sock yarn

18 July 2014

Friday Funny

pincushion and bachelor button

I recently had to thin out my bachelor buttons, a.k.a. cornflowers, because they were taking over my garden. My no-longer-four-year-old neighbor (she's 5 now!!!) noticed me snipping blossoms and sticking them in the dyepot. She came running, full steam, to plead for a blue bouquet.

As I cut a dozen or so straight-stemmed blossoms for her, she asked if she could have a pillow cushion, too.

A pillow cushion?!?

She pointed to my purple pincushion flowers.

"Oh, my goodness," I exclaimed! "I can't believe you remember the name of those!"

Her mother promptly added, "She practices the names of your flowers every day."

Pillow cushions it is! The perfect birthday bouquet!

Indoor Happiness


17 July 2014

A Better Eye

Mount Evans Sunrise, tinkered with in Photoshop(goat was facing the other way)

Photoshop trainer Dave Cross recently published five suggestions for photographers to challenge themselves and shoot better photos.

I sometimes find myself in a photographic rut, not so much because I fail to try new things as being limited via time and daylight.

I found his list interesting, and I'm going to consider a couple of his ideas. What really got me going, though, was the simple phrase: "Challenge yourself." I had recently finished "competing" in the Ravellenics, which sports a stated goal of challenging oneself. Every snowflake and every new pattern are challenges because I typically make them up as I go, and the challenge is multiplied if I attempt to write the pattern, particularly if I'm on a bumpy commuter train and trying to type on my phone.

Photography, too, can be a challenge for me every single time I remove the lens cap. I want every shot to be different than what everyone else is shooting. In addition, I don't like harsh flash shadows, and not every available light opportunity is successful without a tripod. Unfortunately, I don't always carry a tripod. Just too danged inconvenient!

In considering Dave Cross's challenge, I realize I have a built-in challenge right smack dab in the middle of my time and daylight limitations. Trying to snap a great photo when I'm trying not to be late is incorporated into my everyday routine. Getting a great sunrise when all around me are telephone poles and powerlines is SO.DARNED.FRUSTRATING!!! Even worse when I'm stuck on the train when the color hits the sky...

And then there's that not-enough-daylight thing. I've got the answer to that packed in my purse, where it's been for more than a year now, and not once have I attempted to tackle it.

Gonna Paint with Light

I think maybe I should do a little bit of painting with light this weekend.

4th of July Fun

Playing with Night Light

Back to the Dave Cross challenge...

His challenge: Stop chimping. (Chimping is checking the shot on the rear screen.) My reply: Not if it's a shot I can't duplicate and it's imperative I not miss it.

His challenge: Pretend to use a roll of film instead of a huge memory card. My reply: Can you imagine me using only 24 shots at The Wave?!? GET REAL!!!!!

390 of 406

369 of 406

349 of 406

Lived that 24-shot-roll life for 33 years; no interest in ever going back. Sorry! Besides, I always seem to run out of memory when I get to the best shot. I'm SO grateful I don't have to worry anymore whether the film leader catches on the sprockets and spindles.

His challenge: Used a fixed lens. My reply: I hate zoom lenses. My workhorse is a macro portrait lens, which can be a real challenge when I should be using a wide angle. It forces me to work outside the box.

His challenge: Self-assignments. My reply: After 14 years of newspaper journalism, assignments become sort of habit. I've been in my second career for 20 years this summer, and I've still yet to break the habit of assigning myself to new and different shots.

His challenge: Find something new in old territory. My reply: I do that every day.

Sunset, Mary Carter Greenway

Oh, how I hate to be in a place where I can't get a clear view when the sky turns this magnificent color!!!

I couldn't convince the deer to move away from the power lines and fence, darn it!

My version of this particular challenge: Make a good shot from ugly circumstances.

Sometimes I see the most brilliant and colorful sunrises and sunsets. From the train. Or from my bedroom window. Back when we still lived in an apartment, the most beautiful sunrises always seemed to happen when I couldn't get out of the parking lot.

I began taking pictures without the city lights, power lines and signs. Just sky.

And that's how I began digital quilting with sunrises and sunsets. I had to do something creative with all those cloud shots. I call them my Quilted Skies Series.

Sky Swirls

Quilted Skies

This is hanging BIG in my living room now!

While I was writing this post, DIY Photography came up with a post on a completely different topic that really piqued my interest. Allen Mowery uses the example of one of my earliest influences, Ansel Adams, to unhinge the myth a photographer must have all the latests and greatest equipment with all available bells and whistles to take meaningful photos. Ansel Adams often used heavy old cameras and prefered black and white to color.

"Knowing what I know now, any photographer worth his salt could make some beautiful things with pinhole cameras," Adams said.

One of my favorite photos from Snow Canyon in Utah was made with an iPhone. Not even the latest iPhone. A reconditioned model I picked up for 50 cents.

Snow Canyon

15 July 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Sip, Sip

a gathering

Oooooh, this feels kind of good!

Wheeeeee, this is fun!

Everybody, Let's Swim Tonight!

Wait for us!

Oh, perhaps we came up on the wrong side of the river...

all wet

A Blaze of Glory


Best. BikeMS. Post. EVER. !!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE: This post was supposed to be for Friday, but I forgot to set the date. Oh, well. Two posts in one day! (The official post for today is here.)


awesomized with my iPhone

This year's iPhone photography awards are so inspiring!

I didn't know the contest existed, and I'm not sure I'll enter next year, but I do enjoy the challenges of shooting with my phone after years of professional photography, and I have captured a few iPhone photos I really like. Here are some of my favorites from last year.

Downtown Denver

Downtown Denver

Downtown Denver

December 26

Rustler Snowflake Rock

Wrangler Snowflake Rock

Snowflake Builder

Dream Tree


Snowflake Temple

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire

Snow Canyon
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