12 September 2011

Snowflake Monday

Collegiate Peaks view from Huron Peak

Last week I hit my 3,000th mile on my bicycle since January 1 just as I crossed under the Oxford bridge on my way home from work. Oxford the street was named after a Colorado 14er named after a university.

When I first decided to name snowflakes after our fourteeners, I vowed the five Collegiate Peaks would be reserved for new techniques, things I've never done before, things I'd have to learn.

So somewhere along the way, I will learn to tat, and my first tatted snowflake will be named after a Collegiate Peak. I already know how to knit, but I've never knitted a snowflake, and I expect that will be quite the learning experience, hopefully resulting in yet another Collegiate Peak snowflake. I have a couple more ideas up my sleeve for the remaining two Collegiate Peaks.

For Oxford, I did something I've wanted to try for years but never had the guts to do until I reached 3,000 miles in eight months and eight days. I made snowflakes with size 30 and size 50 thread.

And then... gulp...

sewing thread snowflake

I made a snowflake with sewing thread. (Insert photo here of me with every hair on my body standing on end, as if I put my finger in a socket.)

I used size 20 thread for the first time ever twice last year, but not for snowflakes. I wanted to see how small a thread bear I could make, and the project was daunting. I lost the ears twice before I got them attached. Small thread frightened the daylights out of me.

My dear friend Shonna, who completed her valiant battle with ovarian cancer in January, gave me a sack full of thread much smaller than I'd ever used when she reached the stage she could no longer do threadwork. Ever since January, I've wanted to dig into that bag to prove she didn't waste her treasures by entrusting them to me.

My Mount Oxford Snowflakes are the result of finally developing a handful of fortitude. And guess what? It wasn't so bad! I definitely will be using size 30 and size 50 thread and my smallest hook again. Small sizes of crochet thread do not intimidate me anymore. (The jury is still out on sewing thread; pinning that microscopic flake was a chore and not a highly recommended project if you're seeking joy and relaxation.) I hope I've made Shonna smile. I'm smiling right now, picturing her giggling over my long-awaited teensy snowflakes.

ptarmigan in spring plumageMount Oxford, at 14,153 feet, is the 26th highest Colorado 14er. Typically, climbers summit 50-foot higher Mount Belford first, then walk the 1.2-mile ridge to get to Oxford. Some climb 100-foot lower Missouri Mountain on the same trip, too. I’ve wanted to visit the basin below the three summits in winter for many years because it reportedly is a great place to view ptarmigans in their white plumage. When I finally do get to make that trip, I hope I can claim at least one of the summits, too. But I’d be happy with just a memory card full of ptarmigan photos!

Josiah Whitney, for whom the California 14er was named, began the tradition of naming peaks after great universities during an 1869 survey of the Sawatch Range, which includes the mountains now known as the Collegiate Peaks. Because his party was under the sponsorship of Harvard and his partners in climb were students there, he gave the Ivy League name to the highest peak they could see when the range first came into view. Mount Harvard is the third highest peak in Colorado. Whitney’s students in turn named nearby Yale for Whitney’s own alma mater.

Albert Ellingwood, a noteworthy historical mountaineer with two dominant and picturesque 14er features bearing his name, climbed a remote Collegiate Peak with lawyer Stephen Harding Hart in 1925. Both had attended Oxford, and that’s how the mountain got its name. I was thrilled to discover this tidbit in a 2003 issue of The Colorado Lawyer because many websites with partial details of the history behind the Collegiate Peaks claim no one knows how Oxford got its name. The footnotes for the trade journal include a book published by the Colorado Mountain Club. Information often is out there. You just have to be willing to look for it.

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!

Mount Oxford Snowflakes

Finished Size: 4.25 inches from point to point (size 10 thread), 3 inches from point to point (size 50) thread; 2 inches from point to point (sewing thread)
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook; OR size 30 crochet thread OR size 50 crochet thread, size 10 crochet hook; OR, if you are nuts like me, sewing thread, size 12 crochet hook; empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, glue, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Mount Oxford Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in ring, *ch 3, 2 dc in ring; repeat from * 4 times; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 (ch 1 and dc counts as final ch 3). Pull magic circle tight.
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: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same sp, ch 10, 2 dc in same sp, *2 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 10, 2 dc in same sp; repeat from * around 4 times; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 3: 1 sc between last 2/dc group just completed on Round 2 and ch2/1dc group of sl st just completed (in essence, you're working the sc over the sl st just completed), *ch 7, 3 dc in next ch 10 sp, ch 10, 3 dc in same sp, ch 7, 1 sc between next 2/dc groups; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

NOTE: I did another new thing with these snowflakes and tried the stiffening method many others have recommended for years – squishing the snowflakes around in a sandwich bag with glue and a few drops of water, then getting my fingers very messy pinning the flakes on my pizza boxes. This method seems much more efficient than painting glue on with a paintbrush, particularly when making such tiny flakes. However, I’m one who does not like to get my fingers and fingernails dirty. So I don’t know yet if I’ll use this method often.

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.

Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture. 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.

Shonna's Gift


  1. You're rollin' well this year! Maybe 4000 by January?

  2. Well done! I love tiny thread crochet and am glad you have discovered it with your beautiful snowflakes!

  3. 3,000 miles?! I'd say well done but it sounds a bit small compared to the effort that went into making that record. And it's only September

  4. You kicked 3,000's butt! Lizard seems to have dropped a (perfectly charming) gauntlet and somehow, I think you've picked it up :)

  5. Wow - the #10 thread snowflake looks positively burly beside the delicate 30 and 50.

    The only time I tried to crochet with sewing thread I gave up almost immediately. Too floppy and tangle-prone.

    But you completed a snowflake with the stuff - I would expect nothing less from a woman who can ride 3000 miles in less than a year. 3000 MILES! You could have ridden to Wisconsin and you'd be halfway home again! It's stupendous!

  6. I once crocheted a pair of earrings from sewing thread. I have no plans to ever repeat that task.

    I have opened an Etsy account and have some of my snowflakes for sale. I mentioned on there that I got most of my patterns from your blog.


    I love your patterns and they are always easy to understand. Thank you for doing these!

  7. 3000 miles!!!! I hope that you stopped on that bridge and did a little dance! That's an amazing accomplishment.

    I've never seen a ptarmigan in white plumage but I would love to!

    I can relate to the bike riding and the mountain climbing... but I couldn't make a snowflake if my life depended on it. You are a multi-talented person!

  8. I love your patterns!! You often talk about your bears though... do you have a pattern on here for your bear? I meant to ask you when you did the baseball, bat and cap...

  9. Thank you all!

    Anonymous, I have not written a bear pattern yet. But one is forthcoming. We have a Little Bear Peak, and I can't resist a snowflake/bear combo for that!

    But the tiny snowflake adventures have given me the urge to see how much smaller I can make a bear now... Why do I keep doing this to myself?!?! :)

  10. What a wonderful attainment! Your heart must be very fit from your cycling, I love the snowflake, it think is really lovely and the photos you enclosed also. Best to you!


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