Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Round Two

This year, the Saturday after Christmas was the official family gathering for traditional dinner and more frivolity. The Georgia guests had recuperated from their long trip to get here and the rest of the family that live in the immediate area were able to join the family to celebrate.

My day began by taking down the Christmas tree and packing up the decorations to go back to the storage shed. I had help, of course.

I made the trek up the mountain to the folks house and had to stop for this fabulous pic just west of downtown Woodland Park of the Tree People's woodcarving lot of the hot pink dinosaur and palm tree.

And this is the sight that greeted me in the yard at my folks. These are imported snow bunnies from the great state of Georgia. They had so much fun sledding in the driveway.

In the house I found Mom with the makings of the dinner in full swing, ham, sweet taters, mashers, lima beans (my fave) and I brought the stuff to make pineapple casserole. I like this as a side dish for ham, and after the meal, it doubles as a not-too-sweet dessert - just add Cool Whip. Yummy!

Here is the recipe:
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drain half liquid
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 lb. butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
5 slices bread
3 large eggs

Mix ingredients together, pour into a greased 8x4 bread loaf pan. Bake at 350-degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

After dinner all found pursuits like cribbage, go fish, and my brother performed some card tricks to the awe of the nephews.

When I returned home I found Pedro happily ensconced in his kitty igloo, dreaming about chasing mice and snacking on salmon.

Hope you had lots time to spend with family and friends this holiday season.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Knitterly Endeavors

For you fellow knitters out there: Do you buy yarn just because or do you buy for projects? And then, if you do not cast on right away, do you forget what it was for three months later when you are digging through your yarn box? Well, I am taking a hint from my favorite cooking show host, Rachel Ray, and prepping my produce (yarn) as soon as I get it home.

I am a project shopper. I go to the yarn shop when I need yarn for a pattern I want to knit. I do not always cast it on immediately. And I do have yarn in my storage bucket that I have forgotten what it was for. So this year I am packaging my purchase in my favorite 2-gallon ziplock bags with the pattern and any notes regarding the project inside. I am then adding it to my To Be Knit list with the recipient and pattern name so I know it is in the house, ready to cast on, when I am ready. That may be too much organization, but it works for me.

So my current Knit Project List looks like this:
Horde of Headbands for giveaway items for the upcoming contest on my blog (watch for it)
Cowls for Mom and me
Headband (made from Vanna's Choice yarn) for Dad
Fingerless Gloves for Dad
Sox for Mom
Kitty Pi bed for Pedro
That list should get me through to March. Then I will begin researching and knitting the prototype for my 2008 Christmas gifts.
All of this, plus my full time job, and I am working on Level One of the Craft Yarn Council of America (CYCA) Knitting Instructor Certification program.
Hope your knitting pursuits lead down happy paths!

Baby, It's Cold Outside or Brrrr!

And to think that just a scant month ago we could not think about getting ready for Christmas because it was still hovering in the 70s. Well, those days are over. Single digit readings are here and will stay at least for the next week.

Since I do not believe in paying high utility bills to keep my house warm when I am working everyday, I have learned over the years the beauty and functionality of polar fleece and, now, knitted garments.

I have been keeping my thermostat at a brisk 55. Even Pedro is noticing it is not balmy in the house and has been seeking warm pockets to curl up in. Last time I caught him trying to climb under the cupboard on top of the fridge and I realized that he could get himself stuck somewhere looking for warmth.

So, I present to you the very un-Martha Stewartesque pillow arrangement, now known as a cat igloo, in our boudoir. I built it this morning and he was ensconced within 10 minutes and did not even come out to watch me go to work through the window as he usually does. I guess that is what he has been needing. So much for any chance of having House Beautiful call to schedule a photo shoot of my bedroom.

The igloo is made with lots of pillows, my polar fleece skirt as the floor (Mom, I will need another one soon, he has claimed mine), a polar fleece throw as a roof and down ski pants as his welcome mat.

I just hope I can convince him I have to disassemble it at night to go to bed.

Hope you are staying warm and enjoying the winter season.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas is Grand

For the first time in ten or more years we had snow for Christmas. The above picture is the much acclaimed and chuckled at palm trees in Woodland Park that are part of the landscape of the Dinosaur Resource Center.

Christmas was lots of fun this year. My brother and his family from Georgia arrived with Santa's sleigh around 2 a.m. Christmas morning and were groggy but excited to open packages after a few hours of sleep.

Before they woke up, my mother, the other evil elf, was helping me, with the aid of a flashlight, find whose makeshift gift bag stocking was whose so I could add my gift donations. We had giggled earlier at my other brother's suggestion that instead of gift bags we could have used the redneck version of a Christmas stocking, the ever-present ziplock bag.

My brother, the evil elf, was in charge of passing out packages. We only had to fire him once for giving the wrong present to someone. Might have something to do with his eyes were propped open with toothpicks.

After the festivities with the gift wrap, we scrunched up on the couch for a family picture. My brother has assured me he will send the one with all of us soon and I will add it later. For now this one will have to do and, yes, I am behind the camera.
And since the kids had not seen snow in a while they all bundled up in the layers of snow suits and went out in pursuit of a sledding hill. At 18-degrees and blowing, I opted to stay in the house and help Mom with dinner prep.

Hope your Christmas was warm, filled with family and fun.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peace on Earth or Not a Creature Was Stirring

Pedro and I wish for you a Christmas filled with joy, laughter, family, friends, grand surprises, and love. From our tree to yours - Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Surprise packages in the mail

What a grand surprise to come home from work to a note in my mailbox that a package awaited me at the leasing office. And the best part is: the office was still open.

I picked it up, carried it home and Pedro helped me unpack it.

Thank you so much to Cat with Cats for the treats. Pedro especially liked the box and wrapping because he knew it had come from a house with kitties.

As you can see, he likes to help. He found kitty toys to play with and a scone mix for Momma to make. Thanks again, Cat, it was a wonderful treat.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Colorful Yarns or Wow! What A Store.

I finally had the good weather/road opportunity to deliver the Cat Care Society donation box to Colorful Yarns in Centennial, Colorado yesterday. The donations were welcomed with oohs and aahs for the blankets and chuckles about the spider strings and flying spider toys.

The shop is run by a mother/daughter team. It is stacked with yarns from all over, floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with many knitting and crochet books, and more needle choices than I have ever seen.

I was especially excited to find the Kollage square needles. I purchased a pair, size 13, to make scarves on and three skeins of yarn for just that purpose. After Christmas some of you may recognize the colorway in a gift. Not telling who. From the Kollage website I discovered that there are only two shops currently carrying these particular needles, the other is Green Valley Weavers and Knitters in Colorado Springs.

The gals at Colorful Yarns said that they collect for the Cat Care Society throughout the year so if you have the time and washable acrylic yarn (like I do) you can do 2'x2' blankets to help keep the kitties warm and comfy.

Enjoy your holidays!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Year of the Bag

You know how the Chinese have the Year of the: Dog, Cat, Parakeet, Pack Rat, Armadillo, Boa Constrictor, Agapanthas and Dragon? Well, this year has been the Year of the Bag for me. That's right, it has been the bulk of my knitting projects for this year. And today I can finally unveil the finished products.

Behold, the bags:

Four different patterns are represented here. The outer rows show the four bright and beaded bags called Take Along Bags. Each of these bags were knit using Red Heart yarn in variegated colors. I found this pattern in the Creative Knitting magazine July 2007 edition. I took some liberties with the pattern and added a linen stitch to the section that became the flap of the bag. It really turned out nice. The beaded fringe makes the bag more fun.

In the second row from the left, starting with the turquoise bag, is a row of Amanda Squatty Sidekick felted bags. This pattern is available free on the Net. All of these were made out of one skein of Cascade 220. Each one I knitted I learned more about how a pattern is written which is helping me write a pattern for the kittyghan to submit to the Knitting A Pattern A Day calendar for 2009.

The denim colored bag at the top of the third row is from Debbie Bliss Home book. It is called Felted Bag in the book. I call it a bucket bag by virtue of its round bottom construction. I used two skeins of Cascade 220 to construct this one. The pattern was not as clearly written as I needed for the first attempt, so when I went in to buy the yarn for the project I asked the gals at Needleworks by Holly Berry in Old Colorado for tips. They were very generous with their ideas, experience and suggestions. With their help this bag turned out just the way I wanted it to. I added the longer handles.

The lavendar bag is made from the Bucket Bag pattern by Two Old Bags. According to their website, they call this one a "feed bag" style. They are also the creator of the Lucy bag pattern that you may have heard of. I made the smaller version of this bucket bag from the pattern. It turned out beautifully and was a fun pattern to knit. I used two skeins of Cascade Eco + yarn to knit this one.

Update from December 8th: The snow-ice storm kept me home. So the kitty donations will have to wait or will go to a local cat shelter. Since I spent the day indoors I decided to clean and decorate for Christmas. I had help, of course.

Mother Nature Wins Again

As you may have guessed from previous posts, not much gets in the way of a road trip in my life. With or without my traveling family members (The 3 Mouseketeers, as we like to call ourselves) I ususally go on mini-road trip adventures as scheduled.

However that is not the case today.

My plan for today was to deliver the kittyghan donations for the Cat Care Society to Colorful Yarns in Centennial (that is on the current outskirts of southern Denver) and visit Knitty Cat in the same area before I came home to finish my Xmas projects.

Mother Nature has other ideas this morning. Even though the snow is minimal, the ice on the roads makes it treacherous, as the newscaster on Channel 13 has just remarked.

As you can see below the kittyghans are ready to go, mostly crocheted ones donated from CK and the knit one I made, with crocheted kitty spider strings and some additional toy items. Then I prepared the box to put everything in with help from my assistant, Pedro. He sat in the box for counterweight while I taped the wrapping paper on it. He is so helpful.

As you can see the box is ready and I am monitoring the road reports carefully to see if I am going to attempt it. I have driven in adverse conditions with much deeper snow depths before, however, ICE makes me hesitate. Will post later with the outcome of the day.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Be Thankful!

I just wanted to share what I am thankful for. I am trying to remember to do this daily and not just when it is prescribed on the calendar. Mood music, please:

I am thankful for: my family - who love me no matter what; my bestest friends who are around when I need to talk or I need to bounce ideas around ( and I am there for them too if they need me); my favorite feline, Pedro, the Magnificent (as seen here - modeling his new, favorite place to sleep - a pair of snow pants, and in earlier posts);

my knitting and new knitting friends; the job that keeps the bills paid; and the beautiful place I live. I hope your holiday has been relaxing, full of fun and all the things that you are thankful for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Birthday Trip to Golden

This year, to celebrate my mother's birthday, we decided to travel to Golden, Colorado to take in the holiday melodrama and musical review, From Rags to Riches, presented by The Heritage Square Players. This Victorian-style melodrama was written in 1908 by Charles Alonzo Taylor and adapted by T.J Mullin, with original music and lyrics by Johnson and Estey. And after two act play the actors come out for a Christmas Musical/Comedy Revue.

It was a fabulous show! We did not partake of the buffet dinner that is offered before the show. Instead we went for early supper at the Lonestar Steakhouse and had a great meal and a little b-day singalong with the staff.

Prior to our evening out we had driven to Golden by way of String. This hidden-away-in-a-shopping-center knitting store is small but stuffed floor to ceiling with an incredible array and selection of yarn and fiber. It has a lovely gather-to-knit table with stools, a back room with another table they must use for classes and filled with more yarn. It was fun to see another store and how they have it set up for knitters. On this Saturday morning it was already filled with knitters, men ,women and kids, sharing their ideas and projects and love for knitting. The other great thing was it is near Tattered Cover, my favorite book store. All my favorite vices in one stop.

Then we headed north and found where our hotel was located. Could not check in yet, so we decided that a visit to National Center for Atomospheric Research (NCAR) was in order. It sits on a hill against the backdrop of the Flatirons just south of Boulder. Below are my partners-in-crime for this trip and a close up of eagle carving they are standing next to. It was beautiful.

It has two floors of displays about all things weather and climate, a couple videos to watch, a gift shop and my favorite thing, a tornado machine. It was really cool.

Behind the building is a weather trail that was getting good use on Saturday, more so than the inside sightseeing. And the view is fabulous, out across the plains with Boulder to the north (left) the plains of Denver to the east (center) and down the Flatirons to the Red Rocks of Morrison (right).

On the way back to the hotel in Lakewood I took the scenic route through downtown Golden, which looks like a great walking shopping experience, the Coors/Molson factory and to the Recycled Lamb yarn shop, another fun yarn stop. Again lots of yarn choices and a place to sit and knit. At least here I found a pair of #7, 10" needles to finish a scarf I have been working on with super long straights that was making me crazy.

The next morning we headed home by way of a stop at the Butterfly Pavillion. It is located in Westminster, just east of the fabulous and overly large, Flatiron Crossing mall. We had a great time seeing all the creeping critters (Mom hates spiders so she mostly stayed away from those terrariums)

and then the flying ones. The butterly avairy was amazing. We even timed right (luck) and were there for the butterfly release and informational talk. It was very interesting.

I will finish here with butterfly pictures. Now that I have reviewed my photos I can tell you that b-flys are difficult to photog. Here are the best of the group. Enjoy these pics and your life!

And I was not the only one fascinated by the fluttering bugs.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Knitting Marathon

What do you do when you realize that you have not considered a knitted gift for someone very important in your life and their birthday is a week away? It's called a "knitting marathon" and I pulled one recently when I realized my mother's birthday was on the horizon. Here is the pictorial version of panic:
Day One: Have an idea, find a pattern, buy the yarn and cast on (don't forget to swatch):

It did not take long for help to arrive:

Pedro had his own ideas of what should be done on the project when I got up to get more coffee. He thinks the color suits him.

Day Two sees some progress. Please note I am doing this while still attending my full time job.

Day Three: I have the contrasting color stripes working and the inspector is liking the larger size and is in the process of softening it up.

On Day Four Pedro decides that he wants it and "Grandma" will have to get something else for her birthday gift.
By Day Five I am getting anxious to get this done. The toughest part of knitting this was doing the yarn in double weight and my left hand circular tip kept disconnecting from the weight and the angle I had to hold it to knit.

Day Six it is off the needles and ready for felting. Here it is posing with Dracubear for scale. It came out the size of a lapghan.

Now it is off to the washer for felting. Note: since this felting is an inexact science, do not cut your 2-inch styrene blocks until you have it felted the way you want. Then cut the forms and place two if them in the bag, stuffing plastic bags in the middle between the foam to get a squared look for your tote. Then if you want to make another like it you have the forms already built and hope that the next one comes out about the same size. This one had to go through the washer three times before it was felted completely. The finished size after felting was 15" wide, 5" deep and 15 1/2" tall.
Needless to say, Mom loves it.
Pedro got to visit it recently and did not like it as well as he did before it was felted.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Really, I Do Knit

I believe that everyone who knits or does any type of craft should have supervisory/quality control staff. As you can see above I have that particular help in the furry form of Pedro, The Pirate Prince of Pasah. Nothing leaves my house without being inspected by "boss."
In that picture he is examining the cream colored kittyghan that I made for The Cat Care Society donation drive. It is made with garter stitch, bramble or trinity stitch and seed stitch triangle stitch. It turned out really nice and I am also going to submit the pattern for consideration in the Knitting Pattern-A-Day calendar for 2009. (Better get busy, the deadline is December 15th -- this year). Also in the picture are three of the five Amanda Squatty Sidekick felted bags that I have done for Christmas. The turquoise one that is mostly covered by gold and white is the unfelted on, the other two are felted and awaiting buttons. And the multi-colored one in front is a Take Along bag with fringe and pony beads. The pattern came from Creative Knitting July 2007.
Below is another pic of the kittyghan being tested for how well they fit on the back of a recliner and how well they show off the intended recipient. He is so helpful. I believe he may have a career in modeling.

I still have several items to knit before the holidays so I will be busy.

Hope you are having a good time in your life.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Goes to the Coffins.

Happy Halloween!

The day dawned cool and foggy and by noon the sun was breaking through. A great day for a Halloween event that has gained national acclaim and it is right in my backyard. The site of this wacky event is Manitou Springs, and the event, The Emma Crawford Coffin Races. It is held in honor of the 19th century spiritualist who was buried on top of Red Mountain above town and in huge rainstorm her coffin was unearthed and it slid all the way to town. This year was the 13th annual, how fitting. It is one of the largest events that Manitou Chamber puts on each year.
Thousands of people gathered on Main Street, some in full costume, in anticipation of the pre-race parade of coffin racers and hearses and the leading lady herself as Grand Marshall. The advertised noon start was a bit delayed as is Manitou's way and the announcer of the day's event went on about the festive wake they had the evening before and announced to the crowd that the town now could claim national mention when they were written up last week in the New York Times travel section.

The article refers to it as a Hippie version of Mayberry and they may be right. Currently the official slogan is "Keep Manitou Weird" and I happen to agree with them. Where else can you go, besides New Orleans, to find such an all out celebration of everything that has to do with beads being thrown, flagrant costuming, and all out silliness to bring in the crowds.

The Denver Hearse Club was there in force, I counted 18 hearses. They also attend the Frozen Dead Guy Days event in Nederland, CO held in March each year.

The coffin racers themselves numbered 36 teams in full costume. The homemade racing rig is a wheeled coffin-like conveyance with an Emma-representative riding in it and four people pushing it for a 250-yard run up a slight uphill. They are run in two coffin heats with the winners advancing until the Grand Champion emerges. There are thrills and spills each year. Here are pics of some of the teams with their entourage.

There was everything from Aloha! hula racers to the skeleton crew with their little dog leading the way.

Not only were the racers and some of the crowd decked out in costume but several dogs were all duded up for Halloween. The devil dog was riding shotgun with the coffin rider and the tie die crowd was looked ready to rumble.
Even Elvis was represented here, with the Elvi all in full costume and extra padding.
This event is one of Manitou's largest during the year with second place going to the Annual Fruitcake Toss held in January. This coming year it will be held on January 5th at Memorial. Park.
Hope to see you out and about enjoying what life has to offer, be it wacky or not!