Sunday, July 17, 2011

Crested Butte Wildflowers

When we drive to Crested Butte, Co., we usually take the scenic route.

The drive over Cottonwood pass not only provides us with the spectacular views from the pass, it ends by plunking us down on the shore of Taylor Reservoir.

Although there weren't a lot of flowers at the pass, just some hardy dandelions growing right by the road, the woods on the way down to the Reservoir were carpeted with lupines.

The profusion of small flowers around the lake gave us an idea of what awaited in Crested Butte.

While the Wildflower Festival is an annual event, the flowers do not always coordinate their show with the Festival dates. Some years, the flowers bloom early, leaving only the larger blooms to show off for the Festival.

This year we had a late spring, and a dry, dry summer, suppressing most flowering everywhere. THEN, last week, it started raining. Ha. I knew it would be good.

I just didn't know how good.

There are so many flowers, of so many varieties, that it is nearly impossible to believe they are all growing wild. The "Bloom Locator" guide, available from the Crested Butte Visitor's Center, lists more than 80 varieties. They are everywhere, all mixed together, right by the roadside and along the dozen-plus trails. Trying to single out any individual blooms among the tumbling chaos of them is difficult. Making it harder is the fact that if you just look up, there are those amazing peaks towering over it all.

Yesterday, the Plein Air Invitational paintings were on exhibit just off the main street. All the restaurants and shops were busy, the food was delicious. If you were thinking of going, this is the year to do it.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Perfecting Ribbed Hand-knit Socks

Here's a little Christmas in July.

I actually took these photos a few months ago, setting a theme for my latest sock pattern, the one with the princess foot. My inspiration for this pattern started with a pair of socks I was knitting as a Christmas present. The giftee required princess-soled socks, ones with the knit side turned inside. I didn't like knitting the first pair; hated having to purl the sole. When I had to knit a second pair with princess soles for the next Christmas, I devised a method of avoiding the purling.

Last fall, I found that the purl bumps on the soles of my socks were making my feet sore. Suddenly, I was motivated to perfect my method and write a pattern. Actually, I've written two patterns. I think they will make great gift socks.

Cuff Down

Uses Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock, Patons Kroy FX, any similar weight yarn.

Toe Up
The cuff down version has a heel flap and gusset. The toe up version has the boomerang short row heel that I used for my Burning Stripes socks pattern--minus the colorwork.Both patterns explain how I turn the sock to the other side to avoid purling.

There you have it, Christmas in July. Super-comfy socks for your friends and family, or if you are like me, for yourself. Daylong Socks, Both Ways -- $3.99
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Yarn-winding gadgets

I have bought a couple of knitting gadgets. They are a little out of the ordinary, making them blog-worthy. Of course, the Royal ball winder mounted on the top of the swift below is not unusual. I was lucky to find it at our guild's stash sale for $5. Once I had it, I was motivated to buy the squirrel-cage swift I had been wanting since I'd seen one in Taos last fall.

I splurged and bought the maple. It is very attractive. I'm not overly happy with how it works, but my main complaint is due to the nature of squirrel-cage swifts. They have the advantage of taking up very little space and of being free-standing. However, while winding, the yarn travels over the squirrel cages. This produces a good deal of friction. Most other swifts move while the yarn stays in place. The first time I used this swift, I wound a yarn that was very soft. At the end, I had fuzz everywhere--all over the swift, all over me...a mess.

I decided to try a tightly twisted, durable sock yarn next. It wound just fine, but was a little too tight. It was hard to get it off the post of the winder. I didn't mind that, since I usually wind twice to relieve the tension created by the swift. This time, I had another useful gadget to help me with the re-wind.

This is a yarn holder. It incorporates a lazy susan and is just the thing for avoiding adding twist to yarn when you are unwinding. That's right, you are not supposed to pull yarn from the center of a center-pull ball. Doing so adds twist. Even pulling from the outside of a ball adds some twist to the yarn.

This device allows the yarn ball to rotate freely, so that the yarn pulls off without twisting. I am very happy with how well it works. When I wind from it to the ball winder, it spins at warp speed but still doesn't add too much tension. I also use it when I knit socks. I'm so happy that I don't need to stop knitting and hold the sock in the air to let it twist out the kinks in the yarn!

If you want one of these, they are available on line, in all forms. I bought mine at the Estes Park Fiber Festival, from this vendor. However, it actually came from this fellow, who has an Etsy shop. I messaged him through Etsy and got a quick response. I'm thinking of ordering the small yarn swift attachment that goes with this yarn holder.

There are all kinds of yarn holders available on line. I've even seen some made from plastic cd's rather than lazy susans. I ordered the swift from Kirtland's Yarn Barn. Their service was great. The swift was exactly what I wanted. It works, it sits in a very small space, and it is pretty. I just won't wind loosely-spun singles on it.

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