Thursday, June 28, 2012

The butterflies (and patterns) were free.

This mountain climate, which is normally is quite harsh, has worsened the past few years with the drought. Each year, I am happy to find a few hardy survivors in my little flower bed. The daisies, prosaic though they may be, are my favorites.

They have made it through quite a few winters. I'll try separating this batch in the fall.

The daylilies will never die, I'm sure. They were here when we moved in.

Looks like there will be a huge crop this year. I must have taken a clue from it with my recent pattern giveaway.  I awarded the promised prizes, then decided to give everyone a prize.  It was fun, easy, and not too extravagant, thanks to my stash and the Ravelry gift program.  I enjoyed it so much, I will have to repeat it when I have another pattern to give away.  Thanks to everyone who participated!

I honestly don't remember the name of this flower, but it is my most prolific.

The butterflies like it too.

This yarrow, which was a gift from my neighbor, is huge.  I understand why she pulled a bunch of hers out.

But I'm a happy recipient.  It smells lovely.

I spent awhile trying to get a good photo of the cute spots on these delphiniums.   I just bought them this year and was pleasantly surprised when I noticed the spots while I was planting them.  I didn't see them in the shady nursery.

Another thing I didn't see was the worm in the flower. When I reviewed the pictures on the camera while I sat in the garden, there it was. I rushed back to the flower, but I couldn't find the worm. He's a lucky one.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Quilt Show is Back

After a year gone missing, the local quilt show is back. I am not a quilter, but I am a fan of this show. Although my fanship is limited to an annual viewing (and buying frenzy in the boutique), I usually expand it to share a few images here. This year's show is outstanding, as a glance at the photos below will tell. Since I have tried to remove names and other personal details from the images to protect the quilter's privacy, I have included a few details below each image.

The small quilt above, which was in the Art Quilt category, uses a "stained glass" technique. The black lines around the colors are appliqued bias strips, while the checkerboard background is patchwork.

Another use of the same technique is evident in this large quilt, "Sunlit Stained Glass."

This quilt, "Arizona," repeats pottery and other Native American images prevalent in that state.  The edges of each embroidered block are frayed.

In response to a guild challenge to create a quilt using the theme, Mountains, this quilter found inspiration in the Denver skyline, seeing the buildings as steel mountains. She chose to recreate the Blue Bear sculpture from the Denver Convention Center. It's really an appropriate subject for a quilt, since the original is composed of triangles.
Continuing the animal theme, this more conventional quilt depicts mountains and chickadees.

This one offers an unconventional look at a hummingbird.

Finally, my favorite animal, a moose. Besides the subject, I love the colors in this one. Too bad it wasn't for sale.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Knitting Pattern Giveaway

This post is outdated, the giveaway is over, no need to comment now!  But keep reading, I might have another one sometime.

I read a lot of knitting blogs and often see apologies, excuses, or at least explanations of the chosen topic or time frame. Although I generally prefer to just launch into the subject, letting the reader speculate, if she wishes, as to motive, logic or connection, I will list the events that led to this post. But first, I'll start with a photo and explain it simply: Google Reader, Ravelry and other feeds show an image of the latest post in their link to blogs. I like to have a nice photo front and center.

This is the view from the first rest stop on my morning bike ride these days.  For me, bike path + bench = stop.  Although I have lost weight and become more fit, I'm not a maniac.  I'm doing it in moderation. 

Moderation is not the word for my pursuit of knitting, however.  To list the progression:
1. Seven years ago, a chain of events worked to revive my lifelong interest in yarn and needlework.
2. Five years ago, I began this blog.  I was reminded of this quinquennial this past weekend when I was attending the local raft festival, often a topic for my blog posts. 
Below is a shot of one of this year's downriver contestants.  The downriver race is not overly exciting, but it is scenic.

3. Two years ago, I published Burning Stripes, my first commercial pattern.
4. This month, I bought back two print versions of that pattern from one of the shops that stock it.  It had run its course there and I wanted my sample back.  The sample pair looks pretty good, considering it has hung in a yarn shop for two years. 

5. Today, to celebrate this succession of events, which all seemed to happen in the late spring, I am giving away those two print patterns.  To enter to win a copy, leave a comment by midnight, Monday, June 25, 2012.  One lucky winner will also receive the yarn to knit the pattern, assuming we can work out the logistics of agreeing upon and delivering said yarn.  If you win, you will have to let me know your address, but don't include that in the comment, just your e-mail, or a link to it so that I can contact you if you win.  Also, please include some feedback on blog topics.  Besides knitting, what do you enjoy reading in a knitting blog:  points of view, personal details, travel photos, or...?

Ending with a another photo, again from my bicycling route, but this one is more knitting-related.  You can spin yarn from the undercoat of these cattle!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Knitting with Nook

Since the loss of my iPod, I've used my phone for audio books.  It worked, but it wasn't ideal.  I've taken a long time to decide what I wanted as a replacement, considering either another iPod or an e-reader.  My hesitant and sporadic research finally led me to get a Color Nook.  I was really torn between it and the Fire, but I finally reasoned that the recent price break broke the balance.  I plan to use my Nook not only for the audio books (obviously) that we play in the car on long trips, but also for books, games and magazines.  Knitting magazines are high on my list, but for now, I'm trying it out for patterns. 

I've loaded a few pattern pdfs on the Nook and am pleased with the display.  I thought I could use it instead of printing the patterns, but there's a drawback.  I don't often memorize the complex lace patterns I prefer for shawls.  I like to look at a chart the entire time I am knitting a pattern row.  While it is possible to display the chart on the Nook, I have to stop knitting now and then to touch the screen to keep the display active.  Otherwise, the screen goes to sleep.  For long rows at the edge of a shawl, this works out to a lot of stopping.  If I don't stop, I'll have to wake the Nook up (a two-step process) when I need to check the chart.  Not that having to stop a a big inconvenience, but coupled with the battery drain of keeping the chart displayed, it is enough to make me resort to printing the charts.  I can still use the Nook to make a quick, occasional check of pattern instructions, but it doesn't work well for charts.

I have yet to buy a digital magazine.  Interweave Knits is available for Nook. However, I made a point to acquire all the back issues of IK a couple of years ago and am still dedicated to buying paper issues.  It will be handy to have a digital subscription at some point if I keep traveling as much as I do.  I am often away from my magazines, just when I want one.  Vogue Knitting, on the other hand, is a magazine that I usually buy, but don't mind missing.  I'd buy a digital issue of VK for my Nook if I could.  At this point, VK is only available digitally for the iPad.  I think.  Let me know if I'm wrong.

About now, someone is likely wondering what I think I'm writing here.  If this is a recommendation, it isn't a resounding one, thus far.  Welll, that's because I haven't discussed the games yet.  Games on the Nook Color are great, way better than the ones on my phone.  Playing games on my phone passes the time, but that little-bitty screen is the drawback.  I love the games on my Nook so much that I'm probably spending more time on it playing games than I am reading books.  My favorites are the crossword puzzle (they are the NY Times crosswords, free with the Nook), MineSweeper (also free), Neptune (not free but cheap) and...surprise(?) Sheep 'em.   Yep, a cute little sheep game meant for children but full of giggles for me.  This one is free but there's another one or two games including sheep for cheap that are more challenging.  Who am I kidding, Sheep 'em is hard enough!

I haven't even gotten to putting my photos, videos, movies or tv on the Nook yet.  I'm sure I'll like those pretty well, just a little worried that the screen is too small.  Meanwhile, I'm happy with the internet connection, offering apps like Taptu, an easy-to-read multiple fashion feed that keeps up with all the celebrity fashions and designers.  I've also got a calorie tracker and a couple of other apps I'm trying out.
All of which is to say that the Nook Color is a good buy.  My biggest complaint is that they sent me a $20 off coupon after I'd bought mine.  I forgive them, though, because I can pass it on:  coupon
Since the coupon expires in a few days, I'm posting this now, before I've properly proofread it.  If something is unclear, ask me about it in a comment. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moderne Blanket, modern shawl

I've completed a slightly modified version of the Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting.  This relatively easy knit breaks a few of the log cabin rules--one too many for me.  I knit plain blocks on the outside rows, eschewing the suggested intarsia blocks.

Avoiding the intarsia was the easy way out of this project.  After several weeks of dutiful garter stitch, the way out was a welcome sight.  It isn't easy to knit Blue Sky Alpacas' worsted-weight cotton on smaller-than-recommended needles (size 6), but the resulting fabric is worth the effort.  It is not only dense, soft and cuddly, it handles a machine wash and dry quite well. 

Once the blanket was on its way to the mother-to-be, I was free to start a project that is a little kinder to my hands than knitting cotton yarn on small needles.  Still fascinated with red shawls, I turned to the extensive Ravelry search options, discovering that it is possible to search for projects that used red yarn to knit a shawl.  My first try produced an astounding lot of red shawls, confirming my hopes about the success of this project.  First up was Tricosa's Tiong Bahru.  See her Flickr stream for a surfeit of photos of this stunning shawl, which elicited 40 comments so far.  Too bad it is laceweight, while my yarn is closer to worsted weight. (It claims to be worsted, but at 5 spi, I'd call it dk.)

Next was maanel's Less is More Shawl, always a good concept.  Again, though, the yarn weight isn't a match.  This one uses sock weight yarn.  Then I came across multiple red versions of Rose Beck's Falling Water Shawl, one by the designer, one by suseknits, and one by Prairie Piper.  This last one was aran weight.  Decision made!

I began the plain stockinette portion with a variegated hank of the Ella Rae worsted, reasoning that its reddish tones would combine with the bold red to produce a shawl that might mix with more of my (invariably brown) shirts.  

Now that I've started the lace, I can consider modifications.  Up first is the possibility of adding a repeat, if the yarn holds out.  Also, I like the garter edging on the last shawl I linked and might use it.  I'll have to decide soon, since this project is flying by.  Too bad, because it is so much fun to work with this yarn.