Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting ready for the Renaissance Fair

Arms of the hat rack
The Renaissance Fair opens in two weeks but we had to get all the stuff down there this weekend. This is Ken setting up my hat rack. It really pays to be married to an architect who likes to do woodwork. The center post is cherry and the arms are made of oak. Now before you gasp at the high quality of the materials, this hat rack was made completely from left-overs from his other wood working projects. See? Guys have stash too!
It seems we get as many comments about the hat rack as we get about the hats. We were setting up the rack one holiday season and a woman came by and admired it. She said, "Being able to design and make this rack is truly a gift." Ken said, "Yeah, it must be a gift, because I never seem to make any money from it." 

Filled rack from last year's fair
So stay tuned for more pictures and stories from the Renaissance Fair once it starts. I will be only be there a few weekends, but I will be demonstrating knitting, crocheting, and spinning. On Children's Weekend at the end of June, I will be helping kids make felted kitty balls. I did this last year and it was a big hit. We felt the balls using the magic waters from the Avalon Isle using dragon spit. 

Making felted kitty balls

Me with a couple of my royal subject and kitty balls

Trying to Slow Down

Okay, I am ready for life to slow down a bit. For someone who works at home, it doesn't seem like I have been home much. Between graduation parties, birthday gatherings, setting up for the Renaissance Fair, fixing computers, having to buy a new computer, holiday stuff, stop! How am I supposed to get any knitting done if I am gone all the time? The good news is this week should be a little more relaxing, although the next several weekends are already full. 

One of the highlights of the weekend was the graduation of two of my favorite young people, Becky and Sarah Suzuki. I met their parents at church when Deb was pregnant so I have had the pleasure of watching them grow up into beautiful, intelligent women preparing to leave for college in the fall. I will miss them greatly!
Becky and Sarah wearing hats from the Chris pattern

Spiral scarves from book Scarf Style
Lorne and Dane (my sons) have always thought of Deb and Steve Suzuki as some of the 'beloved adults' in their lives. My youngest son Dane is a classical guitarist today partly because of Steve. I love being part of a village raising kids!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cafe Neko

Neko is finally getting his due!  Cafes named Cafe Neko in Japan, and now in Austria, are filled with shelter cats to sooth the customers. In case you didn't know, "neko" is Japanese for cat.  I wonder why they didn't ask my Neko to be the spokes-cat. I guess they didn't want blood in the teacups.

A 'cat cafe'
The sound of mewsic: Austrians seek creature comforts with its first 'cat cafe'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2146296/Cat-cafe-opens-Europe-Austrias-Cafe-Neko.html#ixzz1vKK8iOum

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baby Madison Hat

Baby Madison Hat

1 skein Baby Marble (James C. Brett yarn) (100% acrylic)
Size 5 (4mm) 16” circular needle
Size 5 (4mm) double pointed needles
Stitch marker
Yarn needle

Gauge: 2” = 12 stitches (6 twisted ribs)

Cast on 84 stitches. Join being careful not to twist the stitches.
Every row: K1 in twisted stitch, P1. Continue knitting in the round until piece measures 1½”.
Twisted Knit: Knit into the back of the loop.

Row 1 and 2: Knit around.
Row 3: *KF&B, K12, KF&B* six times. (96 stitches)  I often put a marker between the six repeats.

Row 4: Knit around.
Row 5: *KF&B, K14, KF&B* six times. (108 stitches)

Row 6: Knit around.

Continue knitting on the 108 stitches for 2 inches.

Row 3: *K2tog, K 14, SSK* six times.
Row 4: Knit around.
Row 5: *K2tog, K 12, SSK* six times.
Row 6: Knit around.
Row 7: *K2tog, K 10, SSK* six times.
Row 8: Knit around.
Row 9: *K2tog, K 8, SSK* six times.
Row 10: Knit around.
Row 11: *K2tog, K 6, SSK* six times.
Row 12: Knit around.
Row 13: *K2tog, K 4, SSK* six times.
Row 14: Knit around.
Row 15: *K2tog, K 2, SSK* six times.
Row 16: Knit around.
Row 17: *K2tog, SSK* six times.
Row 18: Knit around.
Row 17: *SSK* six times.
Row 18: Knit around.

Cut yarn, leaving an 8” tail. Cut yarn, thread through the remaining stitches and secure tightly.  Weave in ends. Add a pom pom!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I am a Mom

Lorne and Dane

Of all the things I am in my life, this is the one that is most important. No matter what other title I have -- writer, knitter, designer, musician, volunteer, organizer, all that really matters is being a mom. I am still stunned at the overwhelming tie that we have with our children. As they were growing up, I would think that this is the best stage ever, and then the next stage would start.

I am blessed with two extraordinary sons who have become two extraordinary men. I was there at the miracles of their births, their first steps, their first day of school, and the day they moved away. I learned how to see to world again with fresh eyes as they had the tenacity to capture a butterfly and the compassion to let it go. I learned how to laugh at silliness again as they played Ninja Turtles  from a make believe theater on a rainy afternoon. I talked them through the struggle of facing a bully at school, homework that was difficult, and having to do things they didn't want to do, such as clean their rooms.  I felt their joy when they fell in love and their pain when their hearts were broken.

My greatest joy is that I raised two independent, self-sufficient men, and my greatest sorrow is that they grew up and moved away. I still talk to them nearly every day and they still make laugh. I still worry about them. When I see the news about a car crash on TV, I still have to check out the cars for my piece of mind.

Lorne and Dane

So World, here they are. You are a better place because of them.
It may be Mother's Day, but this is my Sons' Day too. I love both of you so much and rejoice every day you are in my life. Thank you, my sons, my loves.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Note to me about Neko

Okay, note to me about Neko.

Be sure to clip his nails before taking him for a ride in the car.  I am still wiping the blood off the steering wheel.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bears Outside Our Windows

What a treat! When I went to open the window, I saw three brown shapes on the hillside. At first, I thought they were deer, but seemed too big and too brown. It was then I realized they were bears. It appears to be a mama and her two cubs, probably twins about a year old. That's a deer carcass, but I don't know if they found it or killed it themselves. Maybe I don't want to know.
See that brown spot over Ken's shoulder? That's our bears

Although you can't see it, Ken set up his video camera to take the close-ups. We weren't going out there! A mama bear with her cubs, guarding a carcass? I'm not sure we were safe in our living room.
There may not be the best pictures because they were taken through the windows and zoomed in. 


All kids fight.

That's the tree they were trying to hide behind.

Friday, May 4, 2012

You went to an alpaca show and all I got is ..

You went to an alpaca show and all I got is a fake alpaca?

I went to the Great Western Alpaca Show and Denver Fiber Festival this morning. If I had to knit with only one yarn, it would be alpaca. So soft and luxurious. It's not a big group of vendors, but a lot of hand spinners, weavers, and dyers, so it was worth it. The vendor not only sold their yarn, they also sold finished products such as hats, socks, rugs, scarves, etc.  Lots of good ideas. I bought a little yarn, but I have to save up any dedicated yarn money for the Estes Park Wool Festival next month.

So I bought a little alpaca for Neko. I thought he could use a friend. So far he is not impressed.

Who are you?
Are you something to eat?
That's it! You're history!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gilded rAge Video produced by my family!

Goodness Gracious, I must have been dozing
 I have to gloat a bit and I love this photo. 

It includes my four loves: cats, yarn, history (yes, I have a history degree), and my family. My husband Ken and my son Lorne made this movie called the Gilded rAge with music by my other son Dane, which is about the history and the politics of the US  about the Gilded Age and used old political cartoons to tell the story.

It is available on DVD at http://www.gildedagerage.com/index.html. You can also go there to see the trailer.

Chris Hat

Simple is elegant! By using a yarn with beautiful muted stripes, this hat looks as fashionable on the city streets as it does on the ski slopes. (hey, I'm from Colorado--everything is judged by skiing).

This is a simple and fast slouchy hat to make, suitable for both men and women. There is only one size because it is done in a twisted rib which is very, very stretchy.  It takes three different sizes of circular needles to create the shaping, and the yarn is self-striping.

Instead of increasing stitches, we switch needles to larger and larger sizes, keeping the integrity of the ribbing while working up the hat. Then we use a sudden and dramatic decrease for the crown to add shaping to the slouch. 

1 skein Mini Mocha - 80% Merino Wool/20% Nylon 195 yds/50 gr ball
     Hat on model is Ice Wine; Caramel Latte on table
Size US 6 (4.0 mm) 16 inch circulars
Size US 8 (5.0 mm) 16 inch circulars
Size US 10 (6.0 mm) 16 inch circular
4 double pointed needles size US 10 (6.0 mm)
Yarn needle
Stitch marker

With size 6 needles, cast on 110 sts. Place marker and join. Work in twisted rib (k1 through back loop, p1) until piece measures 2”.
Switch to size 8 needles and continue in the twisted rib stitch for another 3”.
Switch to size 10 needles and continue for 4”, for a total of 9” from beginning

Crown: (switch to DPNs when necessary)
Rnd 1:  K2tog into the back loop across the row.
Rnd 2 and all even numbered rounds: Knit through back loop..
Rnd 3:  K2tog into the back loop to last stitch, K1.
Rnd 5:  K2tog into the back loop to last stitch, K1.
Rnd 7:  K2tog into the back loop to last stitch, K1.

Cut yarn, leaving a tail. Thread through the remaining stitches and secure tightly.  Weave in ends.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Moods of Knitting

From Kitty Knits by Donna Druchunas.
Yes, those are black cats by the cuff.

In case you didn’t know, I love knitting. I could spend my entire day doing nothing but knit.  However, not all knitting is equal. My knitting has moods.  Not sad or mad knitting – to me all knitting is joyful. My knitting moods are different.

Mindless knitting mood. I always have at least one mindless knitting project going. These are the projects that I can do blindfolded. Yes!  Blindfolded. I do these projects when I am at a movie theater, in committee meetings at church, in conversations with friends, in any situation that my hands work completed separately from my mind. It could be, and usually is, a hat with just a plain stockinette or rib stitch but it can also be a sock in a straight stockinette. Now, mindless does not mean boring. I like to use colorful yarns, usually striped for these projects. I love working on a hat with a red strip, and a few minutes later, I look down and the color has changed to blue.  I don’t like variegate yarns as much because they tend to look too muddy.

My design

Thinking knitting mood. This is a step up from mindless knitting. I like to do these project while watching TV (which is mainly listening), listening to music or books on tape, or even having the radio on. (I am addicted to progressive and liberal talk radio).  This may be a hat or sock with a lace pattern or a sweater with a cable pattern. I have to watch what I am knitting. It is a fairly repetitive pattern so I don’t always have to watch a pattern as I go along, but knitting is not automatic.  I like going through a row reading the lace row below in order to knit the next one.  This is then followed by the ‘resting row,’ which is the all purl row, and a straight knitting row when working in the round.

From 60 More Hats

Concentration knitting mood. Every now and then, I have an overwhelming need to do a complicated lace pattern, intricate cable work, or intarsia.  It’s like my mind needs to be totally immersed into the project, marking each complicated row with a highlighter or a sticky note, multiple markers to break up the pattern, and row counters set up on an app on my phone.  I might work on this for a weekend and then go back to mindless or thinking knitting to let my mind rest. It is better to do smaller projects such as a scarf or hat when I am in this mood, because I flit from project to project too much to make a large project such as a sweater.

Attention-span-of-a-hummingbird knitting mood.  I want to get the project done in a couple of hours, or less. Sometimes, you just want to make a pile of stuff.  My crocheted scrunchies and knitted baby hats fulfill this need.

What? They can't be eaten? What good are they?