30 September 2010

Project Blizzard

These are some of the things that made me smile this month.
Tomatoes that don't stay green!
Lizard Sunsets
Snowflakes from Brazil
Hot, Hot, Hot!
Fresh Flowers in September
Here's lookin' at you, Kid!
The spirit of Halloween seizing last night's moonrise!
Bucking Lizards
Smile!
I'm trying to help make the world a happier place, one picture at a time. See more about Project Smile here.

28 September 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Autumn Color on Molas Pass
Make a Wish
Peekaboo Color on Molas Pass
Engineer Mountain
Autumn Color on Molas Pass
Past Prime on Engineer Pass
Final Breath of Summer on Molas Pass
Autumn Color on Engineer Pass

Christmas Early

A Doily from MariaThe economy made fund-raising this year a little more difficult than it has been in the past. Nevertheless, I've raised $1,135 for the Colorado Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society so far, with two days to go!

A couple of months ago, the Knackful Knitter bumped me up into the Premium Pedaler Club, which means I get a $10 discount on my registration for next year's ride, and I get to register a month before everyone else. Perky perks!

I was so tickled, I sent this to Maria. I wanted to show her how much I appreciated her contribution, which was made in memory of her sister who died of multiple sclerosis.A bear and heart in a basket for MariaMaria loved her surprise gift, but I had no idea how much. Two weeks ago, I unexpectedly received this in return...Wow!I have never owned a knitted doily in my life. This gorgeous masterpiece brings such joy every time I walk into my living room, where I proudly display it. I can only hope the socks I'm making as Christmas presents for my female relatives (and sweet hubby!!!) and dearest friends will bring even a fraction of the emotions I feel knowing how much time went into creating this for me. Even though Maria tells me she is a speedy knitter. Still, to devote time to creating something for someone you've never met in person! Life just keeps getting better and better!

My heart melted again last week when I received yet another unexpected package, this one from Ane Scherrer, whom I electronically interviewed last spring during Knit and Crochet Blog Week.Brazilian Snow from Ane ScherrerThis package drew ooohs and aaaaahs throughout my office. Ane said one is for me, and the second she hoped I'd be able to auction to raise money for the NMSS. I couldn't bear to part with either one, so I made a donation in her name.

Both of these gifts came at a time when I'd been feeling low. My friend Shonna, who has bravely fought ovarian cancer for three years, is nearly finished with her battle. Many of my thoughts every day for the past two months have been encompassed by and directed at her. My two surprise packages lifted my spirits in ways I can't begin to describe and made me appreciate the ability to make friends the world over through something as simple as sharing snowflake patterns. I've learned first-hand the power of a well-aimed warm fuzzy.

Shonna's courageous fight, in turn, has taught me how precious and valuable every moment spent with friends can be, whether in person or even electronically.

If you take anything at all from my post today, please let it be a renewal of a bond or the passing on of a warm fuzzy. Take a moment to savor life and priceless friendships. And then take a moment to make someone smile.

I promise, it's worth it.

27 September 2010

Snowflake Monday

Lanterne Rouge
Back on August 29, I was so convinced I'd make it to the top of Pikes Peak on my bicycle, I designed this pattern in my head while pedaling uphill — 24 miles — from 6,412 feet to about 14,020 feet — in a 30-mile-per-hour headwind. That’s right. Just 24 miles. I needed to go 24.5 miles. I didn’t make it to the top. But I never gave up!

About six miles from the top, I realized I was last, what they call the Lanterne Rouge in cycling. Back in the days of steam-powered locomotives, a red lantern placed on the caboose allowed the conductor to see on curves, particularly while going uphill, that none of the couplings had failed. All cars were still attached.

Green means GO!When the "honor" of being last in a bicycle race became a sensation long before my dad or I were born, riders not fast enough to keep up with the peloton would sometimes hide before crossing the finish line to assure their title of Lanterne Rouge. A battle for last place actually occurred more than once! Scandalous!

You earn big bucks and speaking engagements for winning or taking a spot on the podium, and being last might bring in one or both plus a little bit of blushing fame. There is no reward for being in the middle.

Nevertheless, I had never been last in any cycling event. I am slow, but my motto has always been "Don’t Sag, and Don’t Be Last." (SAG is an acronym for Support and Gear. SAG wagons assist cyclists with flats, mechanical failures, first aid and sheer exhaustion.)

So I was a bit discouraged when I saw, one by one, riders behind me turning back until I was... gag... number 262 of 261 riders who actually made it to the top. I didn’t want to be last! But I wanted to finish. Period.

I remembered the fabled Lanterne Rouge. My dad is a railroad fanatic, so I thought maybe I could design something he might like that also would blissfully commemorate my climbing success. Because, by golly, I was going to make it! I refused to turn back!

I didn’t make it to the top in the allotted time (and was swept by the "broom wagon" that cleans the course at the end of a ride), but I did come up with this great memento. So here’s to next year. Yuppers. I’m going to try again. I’m going to climb that mountain. And I may even have one of these dangling from the back of my bicycle seat for luck!

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!

lantern top assembly tools
Finished Size: 4.75 inches tall
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread in red (or whatever color you deem fit) and white, size 8 crochet hook, LED tea light, unused tea light candle, 2-inch wide and .5-inch tall rounded lid such as the one found atop Oil of Olay and its knockoffs, 1-inch tall lid such as the one found atop Ocean eye drops or some nasal sprays, empty pizza box, graph paper, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, glue, water, glitter (optional – I did not use glitter), small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, LONG stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, and clear thread, fishing line, ribbon or Christmas tree hanger

LED tea lightsInstructions

Lantern Bottom

With white, ch 28, sl st into 1st ch.

Round 1: Ch 2 (does not count as dc), *1 dc in each of next 2 ch, 2 dc in next ch; repeat around for a total of 36 dc; sl st in starting sc.

Round 2: Ch 2 (does not count as dc), *working in back loop only, 1 dc in each dc around; sl st in starting dc.
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 3: Ch 2 (does not count as dc), working through both loops again, 1 dc in each dc around; sl st in starting dc.

Round 4: Ch 2 (does not count as dc), working through both loops again, 1 dc in each dc around; sl st in starting dc; turn.

Round 5: Working in back loop only, *1 sc in next sc, sk 2 dc, in next dc work [1 dc, 1 tr, 1 dtr, 1 trtr, ch 3, sl st in top of trtr just made, 1 dtr, 1 tr, 1 dc], sk 2 dc; repeat from * around 5 times for a total of 6 petals; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

half a lanternIf desired, you may end here and make just a snowflake holder for the LED tea light, as shown.

If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Glass Panes
Make 6.

With red (or other desired color), ch 10.

Round 1: 1 sc in 4th from hook, *ch 1, sk 1 ch, sc in next ch; repeat to end for a total of 4 sc; ch 3, turn.
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 2: *Sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1; repeat from * 2 more times; sc in ch 3 sp; ch 3, turn.

Round 3: Sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1; sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, sc in next sc, ch 1, sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, sc in ch 3 sp; ch 3, turn.

Rounds 4-6: *Sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1; repeat from * 3 more times; sc in ch 3 sp; ch 3, turn.

Round 6-10: *Sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1; repeat from * three more times; sc in ch 3 sp; ch 4, turn.

Round 11: *Sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1; repeat from * three more times; sc in ch 4 sp; ch 4, turn.

Round 12: *Sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1; repeat from * three more times; sc in ch 4 sp; bind off. Weave in ends.

Tip: Making the glass panes in one sitting helps maintain the tension throughout all six pieces, helping keep them the same size.

Lantern Top

With white, ch 2 tightly, sl st into 1st ch OR make magic ring. You may leave a long tail on this piece to use as a hanger if desired, or you may weave in the end and attach a ribbon, fishing line, invisible thread or a Christmas tree hanger when done.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as dc), 5 dc in ring; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as dc), 1 dc in same ch, *2 dc in next dc; repeat from * around 4 more times for a total of 12 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as dc), 1 dc in same dc, *1 dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc; repeat from * around 4 times for a total of 18 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as dc), 1 dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, *1 dc in each of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc; repeat from * around 4 times for a total of 24 dc; 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 dc), 2 dc in next dc, *1 dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc; repeat from * around 10 times for a total of 36 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 6: Ch 2 (counts as dc), 1 dc in same ch, 2 dc in next of next 2 dc, *2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in each of next 2 dc; repeat from * around 10 times for a total of 48 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 7: Ch 2 (counts as dc), 1 dc in each of next 6 dc, 2 dc in next dc, *1 dc in each of next 7 dc, 2 dc in next dc; repeat from * around 4 times for a total of 54 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 8: Ch 2 (counts as dc), 1 dc in each dc around for a total of 54 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 9: Ch 1 (does not count as sc), 1 sc in same ch, ch 1, sk 1 ch, 1 hdc in next dc, ch 1, sk 1 dc, 1 dc in each of next 2 dc, ch 1, sk 1 dc, 1 hdc in next dc, ch 1, sk 1 dc, ch 1, *1 sc in next dc, ch 1, sk 1 ch, 1 hdc in next dc, ch 1, sk 1 dc, 1 dc in each of next 2 dc, ch 1, sk 1 dc, 1 hdc in next dc, ch 1, sk 1 dc, ch 1; repeat from * around 4 more times for a total of 6 scallops; sl st in starting sc.

Round 10: Ch 1 (does not count as sc), 1 sc in same sc, *ch 1, 2 dc in next hdc, ch 1, between next 2 dc work [1 tr, 1dtr, ch 5, sl st in 4th ch from hook, ch 1, 1 dtr, 1 tr], ch 1, 2 dc in next hdc, ch 1, 1 sc in next sc; repeat 5 times for a total of 6 petals, ending with sl st in starting sc instead of sc on final repeat; bind off. Weave in end.

To use long tail as hanger, weave end between double crochets into lantern top, knot and weave end in.

Lantern assembly

lantern bottomTape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Place tea light inside lantern bottom, and position tea light upside down on pizza box. Pin snowflake points to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

Place face cream lid on wax paper- or plastic wrap-covered box, and place eye drop lid on top in center of face cream lid. You may glue these lids together if desired, but the lantern top will hold them in place as much as they hold the lantern top shape. I did not glue my lids together. Fit lantern top snuggly around lids, pulling tight to pin. Pin snowflake points.

Note: I curved the snowflake tips up a little with my fingers a couple of hours after applying glue mixture to encourage them to curl.

pinned lantern top
Tape graph paper to top of empty pizza box. Tape wax paper or plastic wrap over graph paper. Position and pin glass panes so they are equal in size and shape.

pinned glass panes
Mix a few drops of water with a tablespoon of glue in small washable container. (I use the cleaned container the dipping sauce for our bread sticks came in.) Paint lantern bottom, glass panes and lantern top with glue mixture. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow pieces to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel crocheted pieces from tea light, lids, wax paper or plastic wrap.

Place LED tea light in lantern bottom, making sure you are able to turn light switch on and off. (You can use a toothpick if it is covered by the lantern bottom, and you may glue the LED tea light into place if desired.) Please do not use a real candle in a crocheted lantern. Crochet thread burns. Use only LED tea light.

assembling glass panes
Place narrow end of first glass pane between LED tea light and snowflake petal. Glue in place. Use pins as necessary to hold shape. (I waited for the first piece to dry before I attached the second, etc.) Glue next glass pane in place. Continue placing glass panes around LED tea light until all are in place. Dab glue atop glass panes and position lantern top over glass panes, making sure each makes contact. (I left one pain loose on top to allow access to tea light.) Allow 24 hours to dry. Remove pins if used.

Nearly done!
To hang if you are not using the long tail on top of lantern point, attach 10-inch clear thread or fishing line to top of lantern, weaving in end, or make a loop, if desired, and thread knot into lantern top so it doesn’t show. Secure with a dab of glue, if desired. OR weave color-coordinated narrow ribbon through top of lantern point and tie a bow, leaving space for hanging, if desired. Or, attach Christmas tree hanging hook. Lantern is now ready to hang on tree, doorknob, rearview mirror or plant hanger. I'm using mine as a centerpiece on an empty bookcase shelf. Turn on the LED, and enjoy!


Lanterne Rouge

20 September 2010

Snowflake Monday

Blizzard for Your Neck scarf
One year ago tomorrow, I posted my first free snowflake pattern, thanks to the encouragement of Marikamum and Allicats. Had no clue back then my passion for flakiness was going to become somewhat of a tradition, routine, habit and ritual, but it's been a fun journey. I'm toying with the idea of continuing as long as I can keep coming up with ideas.

Afew weeks were missed since September 21, 2009. I was forced to take a designing break during an annual service project I participate in that requires hours upon hours of photo retouching, and I opted not to post a snowflake the week my brother-in-law died. I learned while preparing for Ride the Rockies, however, that I could design, crochet and write more than one snowflake pattern at a time to stock up. I was able to keep my snowflakes going throughout cycling season, even though I had no time at all to crochet during May and June, except in my tent each evening of my weeklong bicycle tour across Colorado.

My annual service project once again looms on the horizon (November and December), but I hope to keep Snowflake Mondays going throughout at least the end of the year by stocking up once again. (I've got five more patterns ready to go right now!) We'll celebrate one year of snowflake designs with this Blizzard For Your Neck scarf.

If you don't crochet, you may buy this scarf here. (Shameless plug!)

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



Finished Size: Mine is 10 flakes (7 inches across each) and 70 inches long blocked without the fringe, but you may do this whatever length suits your fancy. I connected two points on each side of the connected flakes; you may connect just one, or you can even make two rows if you'd like. Design away, and let those snowflakes fly!
Materials: One skein of approximately 150 yards of the softest white yarn you can find and the recommended size crochet hook for that yarn. I used baby chenille yarn and a size F crochet hook.

Instructions

Ch 4, sl st into 1st ch to form ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as first dc), 1 dc in ring, *ch 2, 2 dc in ring; repeat from * around 4 more times for a total of 6 spokes; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 2: 1 sc in space between 2 dc below, *ch 2, in next ch 2 sp work 1 dc, 1 tr, 1 dc, ch 2, sc between next 2 dc; repeat from * around 5 times, ending with sl st in starting sc.
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 3: Ch 1, sc in same sc, *ch 5, dc in next tr, ch 5, sl st in 4th ch from hook (picot made), ch 1, dc in same tr, ch 5, sc in next sc; repeat from * around 5 times for a total of 6 petals; bind off. Weave in ends.

joining snowflakes

Finish: Make desired number of flakes. To join, instead of picots on two petals on the third round, ch 3, sl st up through bottom of picot another snowflake, ch 1, sl st in 4th ch from hook, ch 1, and repeat on next picot, joining two snowflake petals together as shown.

This is a project that looks better if blocked when complete. Otherwise, the flakes don't hold their shape as well.

Blizzard for Your Neck scarf
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