31 July 2012

Wordless Wednesday



bird feeder





my fav


original 1890

antique doily

beaded lampshade


Tiny tim


tea doily




done deal

Going for the Gold

lunch hour progress
... or, well, going for the green. And blue. And lilac. And gray.

I hoped for a full lunch hour last Friday, and I hoped I could pull it off at 2, which was the legal Mountain Daylight Time for Team Final Frontier and other all the other Ravellenics teams to begin this year's projects. We have until the end of the closing ceremonies to complete projects we started after the commencement of the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremonies.

I got my one-hour lunch hour, and I cast on a whole four stitches at precisely 2:11 p.m. I thought I'd be able to knit, knit, knit, purl 12 to 15 rows in that short time.

I did 40. !!! Lightning danced outside the 31st floor conference room window while I worked, providing me a light show nearly as good as what I might have seen had I been able to attend the Opening Ceremonies in person.

Yes, the first rows are extremely short, so they go extremely fast. But I made the same mistakes I made earlier this year when I made my first Lanesplitter Skirt with Noro, and I had to frog a row every once in a while because I kept forgetting which row was to be purled.

But now I'm in the swing of it, and man, oh, man, is this going to be the prettiest skirt I own! I'm hoping to wear it to work in two weeks!

lunch hour view

weekend progress

I love these colors.

30 July 2012

Snowflake Monday

Dark and early on the first morning of the second month in 2003, two of my co-workers joined me in an attempt to reach the summit of Mount Bierstadt in the deep snow of an uncharacteristically moist winter.

Both of my adopted kids had fled the nest the year before, and I'd had a hair-raising experience trying to make it up Mount Princeton alone in January. I wanted to do something I could be proud of, something that would require all my concentration, and all my friends wanted me to stop trying to climb mountains alone, particularly in winter.

My two co-workers and I began plodding up the gentle and snow-packed trail well before sunrise, hoping to catch the first golden beams of the sun from the high shoulder of the mountain. Alas, one of my co-workers began showing symptoms of altitude sickness and offered to turn back alone so we could continue on, and the other, an experienced and accomplished climber, still to this day does not believe in splitting any climbing party.

We all turned back together.

As we made our way back to the metro area in my 4Runner, we noticed all the flags in all the mountain towns we drove through were at half-staff. We assumed a well-known politician had died. We turned on my car's radio and found a news station that periodically broadcast more than just mountain static.

The Space Shuttle Columbia had disintegrated during re-entry, and once again, all seven astronauts aboard were lost.

In July of that year, another friend joined me in an attempt to make it up Challenger Point, which was named in honor of the astronauts of the first shuttle we lost. (Turns out I don't have the skills to summit Challenger Point. But my friend summited.) We'd heard rumors another plaque would be placed across the 14,000-foot hump of Kit Carson, on another sub-summit that had just been renamed in honor of the Columbia crew. Reaching the summit of that peak was beyond my abilities, so I asked my friend if he would get a shot of the newly named mountain for me from the summit of Kit Carson, which also is beyond my skills.

The following week, the plaque was indeed placed, and the ceremony included family members and friends of the Columbia crew, astronauts and an F-16 flyover in the missing man formation. I wish I could have been making my way up the mountain that day. I think the adrenaline surge might have helped me make it to the summit.

I didn’t make it up Challenger, and I’m not sure at this point if my future will include any additional 14er summits. If I am ever able to climb again, Columbia and Challenger remain on my bucket list. Today's snowflake is a promise I will try again if given the opportunity.

The second plaque reads:

Columbia Point, 13,980'
In Memory of the Crew of the Shuttle Columbia
Seven who died accepting the risk,
Expanding humankind's horizons
February 1, 2003
"Mankind is led into the darkness beyond
our world by the inspiration of discovery
and the longing to understand. Our
journey into space will go on."
President George W. Bush

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!

Finished Size: 4.5 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

Columbia Point Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: 12 sc in ring; sl st in starting sc. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.

Round 2: Ch 9 (counts as 1 dc and ch 7), [sk next sc, 1 dc in next sc, ch 7] 5 times, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 9.

Round 3: [In next ch 7 sp work (3 sc, ch 7, 3 sc] 6 times; sl st in starting sc.
NOTE: Cute mini snowflake alert! Also tried changing up the points a bit for another variation.

Round 4: Ch 4 (counts as 1 sc and [ch 3), in next ch 7 sp work (1 sc, ch 5, 1 sc, ch 7, 1 sc, ch 5, 1 sc), ch 3, 1 sc in gap between next 2 3/sc groups], around 6 times, omitting last sc and last ch 3 of final repeat; ch 1, 1 dc in in 1st ch of starting ch 4 to form 12th ch 3 sp of Round.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.
NOTE: Another cute little snowflake alert!

Round 5: [Ch 7, sl st in 3rd ch from hook, 1 sc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 sc in next ch 5 loop, ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1, in next ch 7 loop work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, ch 5, 1 sc in 5th ch from hook, ch 6, sl st in sc, ch 4, sl st in sc (tri-picot made), 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc), ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1, 1 sc in next ch 5 loop, ch 3, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp] 6 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st in Round 4 finishing dc; bind off. Weave in ends.

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.

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.

26 July 2012

Dyeing to Crochet

a whole new stash

The starter dye kit I picked up on sale nearly a year ago finally got opened this month. I had dyed thread with fruit, fruit juice, drink mix, tea, food coloring, egg dye, permanent markers, cheap grocery store dye and rust. I wanted to try dyeing the way the pros do it.

Ready to Dye

I quartered the recipe in Deborah's Art Threads tutorial. (She doesn't mention in the post where the salt goes; it goes in with the dye to help the dye dissolve in water, but my results were just fine using no salt.) I recycled and upcycled non-aluminum tools from my kitchen, labeling plastic food containers and utensils with a big D for dye so we don't accidentally use the tools for food down the road. My husband provided a pair of rubber gloves he uses when working on our bikes. I did not use a mask because I was working with tiny amounts of chemicals. If I had been dyeing yarn, I would have used a mask.

I don't have a swift or a ball winder, so I measured out 50-yard lengths of cotton thread by walking the 50-foot-length floor of my house three times while stringing the thread along, securing the thread on both ends of the house as I walked.



After I had adequate samples, I wound the thread around a book and tied each end of the loop hanks with a short piece of thread. The looped thread hanks soaked in soda ash water for 20 minutes or more. As I removed the soaked thread hanks, I gently squeezed out excess moisture. One by one, I placed the hanks across a wire rack balanced upon an empty plastic container to catch drips. I dribbled each looped hank with color, placing the moist, colored hanks in sealed plastic bags to cure as I worked.

hungry for color

first attempt

My first mistake was forgetting to rinse off the rack after my first hank of what I hoped would be shades of bright lime green, which came out darker than what I intended. The violet I used for the next hank also was darker and bluer than I wanted, but the color looked nice with the drips of green I'd forgotten to wash off the rack. So I dipped a gloved finger into green drippings in the plastic tub and further enhanced my booboos, quite pleased with the final result.


For the next batch, I doubled the amount of water in the violet dye and added a tiny amount of pink. The resulting plum hue is closer to what I originally visualized.

color corrected

My second mistake came after removing one glove to take a photo of the dyed thread and forgetting to put the glove back on before I picked up the green thread. The resulting stains on my skin took a couple of days to fade completely.


The bags of thread cured overnight and throughout the next work day. After removing the thread the following day, I rinsed each looped hank individually with Synthrapol and lukewarm water, then let room-temperature water flow through each individual hank until the water ran clean. Most of these hanks needed a second washing, as dye remnants would bleed onto my work surface as they dried.

intentional dual color




fun combos

Once dried, I wound the hanks into balls, and I couldn't wait to get started crocheting!

my assistant

first wind

ready to crochet

mountain of fun
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