29 December 2017

Friday Fortius

28 December 2017

Loom Love

A couple of years ago, a reader asked how much crochet thread I go through in a year. I took the above picture to illustrate how much crochet thread I'd gone through that year.

Other readers ask what I do with all those cardboard thread and yarn skeletons.

Well, I recycle and repurpose them, of course!

The cones, of course, go on to become Christmas trees or Pink October trees. Yes, I have a forest in the making.

While I was still volunteer teaching crafts on Tuesday nights, one of the girls' favorite activities was dyeing yarn with Easter egg dye and/or Kool-Aid. That meant I had to come up with a host of yarn-hungry crafts to teach the girls.

I thought I'd snapped photos of the girls building and then using their round looms, but I can't find the photos. All I could find is a photo of a circular loom that lost a tooth weeks later, and I showed the students how to combine the dropped loop onto an existing tooth and keep going if they were unable to glue the lost tooth back in place.

I also save yogurt lids, and we used them for circular weaving.

We did finger knitting. One of the girls later conducted a contest to see who could make the best clothing accessory with finger knitting, and I was surprised by how many of "my" girls jumped at the chance to enter! I took photos of some of the entries, but... must have been when my old iPhone was dying because I cannot find any of the photos of the girls with their yarn crafts.

We made flower looms from plastic canvas.

We crocheted. One of the girls made me a scrunchy with a crocheted flower. She came up with this idea all on her own. She just finished a full-sized afghan for her older sister for Christmas - without a pattern. It took her four months. She is still crocheting every day, years after I taught her! There is a joy beyond measure knowing at least one of the young girls I have taught throughout my life has taken the treasure given me by my grandmother and excelled in it.

I love to quilt, sew, weave, knit, embroider, bead, dye, draw, write, photograph, bicycle, and I love to repurpose everyday things into crafts. Crochet, however, seems to be my go-to project. It's calming. It's an explosion of creativity. It makes awesome gifts. It seems to bring smiles everywhere I turn.

It's wonderful to know my yarny craft(s) won't be gone from this earth when I climb that final mountain that hopefully leads to heaven.

Rainbow of Dragonfly Snowflakes

And now, for the pièce de résistance... Look what my sweet husband got me for Christmas! I cannot wait to use it!!! I wonder, could I do this on the commuter train?!? :)

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

26 December 2017

If I ever get to shoot the Milky Way...

I've wanted to attempt shooting the Milky Way since I was a child. One day, I will have the proper equipment to do the job. For now, I must enjoy (and drool over) the stunning work of others, such as this series by Abe Blair. (See more of Abe's work here.)

I got a real kick out of some of the comments, particularly those doubting the authenticity of the photography.

For those who don't know how to capture the Milky Way on a fancy DSLR camera, in order to get the whole sky, an extremely wide angle lens must be used. Such lenses cause curved distortion. That's why they are called fish eyes.

Sometimes the photographers will use auxiliary lights to "paint" the dark landscape. The exposure used (extremely sensitive) to capture distant light in the heavens can distort and/or enhance the color of the sky and clouds. To capture professional-quality photos of the Milky Way, the photographer typically must get far away from city lights.

There also is a process called sandwiching. Multiple exposures are layered together to provide the landscape view at the tail end of the day with the night sky. The best of both worlds, so to speak. Typically, it takes a ton of planning, and often a ton of mistakes, to capture shots like Abe's.

One day, you'll see such pictures here. In the meantime, giggle with me over mainstream media comments on Abe's photos...

"Looks to me like pics from some computer game." - T

"I've been to many of the places in these pictures and I have never seen anything like this." - Big Al

"I've seen the Milky Way many times in the candy bar section of any food store." - Leland

"Who screwed up at Yahoo and actually posted beautiful pictures!!!!" - Alex

"I love the Milky Way. I also like Snickers and 3 Musketeers." - Leonard

"How does he get pictures of starlight when there is still sun on the horizon? I am skeptical that these pictures are real." - DebbieA

"These look like pics from Hubble, not Earth's atmosphere." - Edward

"Very inspiring presentation. I'm not sure I understand the curved structure of the galaxy in some photos." - Dwight

"Once a photo starts down the PhotoShop path, at what point does it become the digital equal of a watercolor painting?" - one eyed jack

"That is not what the human eye sees, how much did you manipulate the photos in Photoshop or what ever you use." - William

This comment's actually right on target:

"Light and air pollution prevent most people from seeing this." - Jeff

25 December 2017

Snowflake Monday

We had a white Christmas Eve!!!

I had to send my favorite lens to Nikon last month for repairs. It's old, like me. It started wiggling a little bit on the camera mount, which is never a good sign, about a year ago. The more I used it, the more difficult it became for the lens to communicate with the camera. Eventually, they stopped speaking the same language. (My humorous way of saying it stopped working altogether.)

We'd taken the lens to the local camera repair shop, but they instructed us to send it directly to Nikon because that's all they could do with it, and it would be faster, cheaper and save us at least a couple of weeks by not going through a middleman.

That would have been helpful because I had scheduled some Hanukkah family portraits, and I'd need my portrait/macro lens.

The lens arrived back the day before my portrait shoot! I was SO excited! It felt like Christmas without the wrapping paper!

Unfortunately, the cute little note inside the package was not a Christmas card. Although I should consider it somewhat of a gift. The $185 service fee required just to look at the lens was waived.

My sad little lens is too old for surgery! Tears!!!

At least the bubble wrap in the package will be a GREAT Christmas present for my bubble-popping granddaughter! (with supervision, of course)

I have other lenses I can use, but that was my only macro lens, which means I can't do super power close-ups anymore until I get a new lens. I will have to save up for the replacement.

My macro lens is (or I guess, WAS) 60mm, which means I could get right up next to a flower or a snowflake for a close-up photo. The replacement lens is 135mm, which means the praying mantises, ladybugs and butterflies will have some breathing room between them and the big black barrel that might as well be a tank, from their point of view. It might also be pretty handy for sneaking up on shy little kids who don't want their picture taken.

That $185 fee, plus everything I made at this year's craft fair (which primarily was the sale of snowflakes, ironically), is being banked toward the new and improved macro lens. Meanwhile, I get to experiment using my regular, non-macro (which means no close-up) lens on the big, puffy, beautiful snowflakes that inspire my crochet. I equipped the lens with my extension tubes during this gorgeous storm, and I was delightfully surprised to get a few really good shots. Extremely blown-up, but inspirational just the same.

Today's pattern is inspired by one of those big, frosty flakes that halfway melted before I manually focused the lens. I'll share more of my Christmas Eve surprise snowflakes Wordlessly on Wednesday! Because, yes, I got enough good shots to fill a blog post!

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 Merry Christmas!

Finished Size: 5.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 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

Christmas Eve Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), *1 dc in ring, ch 3; repeat from * 4 times for a total of 6 spikes; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 5. 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: * 3 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 6, 1 dc in 4th ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch; repeat from * around 5 times for a total of 6 spokes; sl st in starting sc.
NOTE: Binding off here makes a pretty cute and super simple little snowflake.

Round 3: * Ch 5, sk next sc, sl st in next sc, working up next spoke sk next sc, sl st in bottom of hdc, 1 sc in bottom of dc, 2 dc in 1st ch of ch 3 tip, ch 10, 1 dc in 10th ch from hook, ch 9, 1 hdc in 9th ch from hook, ch 7, 1 sc in 7th ch from hook, ch 5, 1 dc in 5th ch from hook, ch 7, 1 dc in same ch as previous dc, ch 5, sl st in same ch as previous dc, working back down spoke ch 7, 1 sc in 7th ch from hook, 1 hdc in top of hdc on opposite side of spoke, ch 9, 1 hdc in 9th ch from hook, 1 dc in top of dc on opposite side of spoke, ch 10, 1 dc in 10th ch from hook, sk next ch of Round 2 ch 3 tip, 2 dc in next ch, 1 sc in next dc, sl st in next hdc, sk next sc, sl st in next sc; repeat from * around 5 times; 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 snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

19 December 2017

November Reign Wrap

I shot at least one picture (actually, at least three) every day of November for the third time in 2017. As awesome as it was to get back into the habit of waking early every morning, it was pretty nice to be finished with the project on December 1, too.

Now I can just shoot sunrises when I want to, and I don't have to be creative on gray days or cloudless days if I don't feel like it.

And yet, there's something wonderful about meeting the challenge of attempting to get an outstanding and different sunrise shot when the skies just aren't cooperating. Or something unique each day, even though almost every workday sunrise of the entire month was spent in the same place.

I'm very pleased with the final results!

Of the 30 days, four were completely overcast, with no sunrise whatsoever.

No color today in my sunrise,
No color today in my view!
No rays to bathe the landscape;
Christmas lights will have to do!

Five days were cloudless or nearly cloudless.

More than half the remaining 21 days were out of this world!

I walked 72 Charity Miles capturing sunrises during the month of November.

I shot three timelapse sequences, and each one was progressively better, from a skill standpoint.

Now, here's the biggie. I shot 2,734 photo with the Nikon point-and-shoot P530 and the Nikon "Big Gun" D300. I confess I used the point-and-shoot most days because it's lightweight.

I shot 230 sunrise photos with the iPhone.

My online November Reign gallery contains 355 edited individual photos.

Highlights from the month include an impromptu trip to Fort Collins when my adopted son asked me to meet him there on a workday to help him with an urgent venture. I couldn't believe I was able to get the day off from work with only a day's notice, and I couldn't believe it when, en route to Fort Collins at 4 a.m., my son let me know he didn't need my help after all. I'd decided to shoot sunrise photos of the new Fort Collins Temple before meeting my son when I first found out. When plans changed, I decided I'd go ahead and shoot the sunrise anyway. It was worth it.

On November 13, I was able to capture the celestial rendezvous of Venus and Jupiter with my tiny little point-and-shoot! I was SO thankful some perfectly positioned clouds provided a focal point for the camera, which doesn't work so well in manual focus mode.

Lookout Mountain has been one of my favorite Denver sunrise destinations for years. Whenever Lizard rides the Triple Bypass or Double Triple Bypass, I drop him off at the start line, drive to my favorite Lookout Mountain curve, park legally and then shoot the sunrise while Lizard pedaled up a dark, closed-to-vehicles, two-lane highway for the first leg of his full-day, 120-mile journey. I'd then travel back to Idaho Springs and snap photos of him as he entered the realm of open highways.

I've shot SO many sunrises from Lookout Mountain!

It was even a good location for moonrises, too.

Snowcatcher photography isn't going to be taking place on Lookout Mountain Road again any time soon. My two favorite pullouts have been closed to any kind of activity at all. No stopping, no walking, no trespassing. That's what we discovered on November 25 when we headed up there together on Lizard's day off to shoot the sunrise.

We found a legal pullout where I could walk along the ridge for about 600 feet and snap a partially blocked view of the sunrise, which was already in progress. Lizard parked the car while I hurried out onto the ridge, only to find a couple... Well, let's just say they might have been more comfortable in a hotel room. We exchanged uncomfortable acknowledgements, I snapped two or three quick hand-held photos of the skyline, and I hurriedly left them alone.

Lizard met me as I returned to the car, sunrise now complete and color gone. I explained why I hadn't waited out on the ridge for him, and we decided together Lookout Mountain is just not a good location for sunrise photos anymore. Darn!

Before Thanksgiving, Lizard and I headed south for the only two-day break we shared the entire month. We visited the Paint Mines near Calhan and Bent's Old Fort near La Junta. We spent the cloudless predawn on the shores of Holbrook Reservoir. I managed to shoot a couple of photos before we heard gunshots. It was hunting season, and we were surrounded by geese. Until the shots rang out, that is! We decided that probably wasn't the safest place to be before the sky fully lit up, so we hit the road and stopped again on a bridge above the Arkansas River to see if we could catch another colorful shot or two.

The sky was beginning to brighten, and the photos weren't dynamic anymore, but I heard an owl hooting beneath the bridge, echoing out over the river, and it was one of the coolest morning songs I've ever heard in my life! I wish I could have recorded it to share now!

So many fun memories of the month! So many pictures to cherish for life.

Here's my second-favorite sunrise from this year's project.

And here's my most favorite shot of the entire month. I slid out onto frozen Echo Lake on my belly the day after Thanksgiving to get the light coming through the chunk of ice. It took nearly an hour to warm up my legs and torso after that. This shot might be my favorite photo of the entire year.

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