Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Total Eclipse of the Sun!

This is me during the total eclipse,
but you can't really see the
hole in the middle.
Ken and I traveled to Alliance, Nebraska, to meet up with my brother and nephews to see the total eclipse of the sun. What a spectacular site! Although I am sure everyone has seen videos of the moon passing in front of the sun, nothing prepares you for the scene in real time. As the moment gets close, it gets dark, but not like the dark of night or even the dark of dusk. It has a slight and strange pink tinge to it. Then you see a black hole in the sky surrounded by a ring. When you see a picture of it, part of your brain is saying it did not truly look that way; it was Photoshopped or the camera distorted it. Your mind says it is not real. But to see it in person is jarring. Someone must have placed a giant animated character in the sky.

The day started out in a fog bank, and we had partial clouds throughout the built-up to totality. But it made real unusual pictures. Fortunately, it was clear skies shortly before the big event.

My husband built a staging box with great success.

 Going ...

 ... going ...
 ...and almost gone.
Strangely, the worst pictures were the ones of the
total eclipse. However, my brother took some through
his telescope that were outstanding. He will be sending
those to me soon and I'll update you.

It was also a good opportunity to knit for the 3 hours to get there and the 8 hours to get home!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Our Family's Legend of English Muffins

We are in the process of de-cluttering our house after being here for 25 years, preparing it for sale. We plan to move to Fort Collins, Colorado to be closer to our son and his future bride (wedding is September 16!) . Yesterday, while working on the drawers in the master bathroom, I was reminded of one of our funny family stories called the Legend of the English Muffins. Now what does emptying the drawers in the bathroom and English muffins relate? Stick with me and you will see.

When my sons were in grade school, my job required me to be at work at 7:00 a.m. With a 40-minute commute, I left before everyone else in the house got up. So Ken was in charge of breakfast, lunch money, and sending the boys off to school. I had the after-school duties of homework and dinner and so it worked out well.

Trying to put some variety in breakfast, I bought a package of English muffins. After about a week of no one trying them, the muffins were suddenly gone. Great, I thought, they liked them. At the next shopping trip, I bought another package. Within days, they were also gone. So I bought some more, and those too were gone within days.

This pattern continued for a few more weeks until one day Ken said, "Why are you buying these? No one eats them."

"Yes they do. They are always gone when I do the shopping list." I said.

"No, they are not gone. I have been putting them in the freezer because the first package turned green!"

Sure enough, I looked in the freezer in the garage and there were six packages of English muffins. (Don't worry, I was still able to blame Ken because he didn't tell me).

Fast forward to today (we'll skip the reason why I have four bottles of laundry detergent on the top shelf in the laundry room).

I spent yesterday sorting out the drawers in the master bath. I threw out old make-up that failed to make me look like I was 21 again. I sniffed then tossed the many bottles of magic wrinkle cream that not only failed to remove wrinkles on my face, but added wrinkles to my bank account. I found broken barrettes and hair clips that found their way in the trash.

Now, I have long hair, and yet when I look for a brush or comb, I am lucky if I find one. So the next time I am at the market, I buy another big tooth comb or brush. But within a few days, it's gone. It's not in my purse, nor in the car, nor in the drawer for my hair doo-dads. So again, I purchase another one -- sometimes an entire package.

As of yesterday, I have 43 combs and brushes. They were all hiding in the back of the drawers! I think they were planning a mutiny of some type, a comb-ination of sinking their teeth in or brushing me off. Instead of a clean, organized drawer of hair accessories, I have a pile of colorful items stuffed in so tight I can barely shut the drawer.

I am still trying to figure out a way to blame this on Ken.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Team Spirit Hat

I am a huge football fan. To me, knitting and football are joined at the hip (or the needles).  I know exactly how and when it happened so bear with me.

My love of football actually started when I was in high school (no need to count the years -- it was a long, long time ago). When I was a freshman, our PE teacher ended up with a difficult pregnancy and ended up bed-ridden. Since this was a very small school, the only one to take the class over was the football coach. Since it was the middle of a South Dakota winter on the prairie, we couldn't go outside. The coach was obviously uncomfortable with a group of 14-year-old girls in the gym, so he moved us into a classroom. He went through the basics, rules, player positions, strategies, formations, and just about everything Football 101 for teenage girls. Some of my friends rolled their eyes and looked out the windows, but I was riveted. I loved the trickery of the offense and the mind-reading ability of the defense. It went from a sport of high school boys just beating each other up to a game of strategy as challenging as chess. Now I saw the appeal of football and I was hooked.

Football went from a game of entertainment to a passion when I went to college. I lived in an apartment building with three other women, and we had the only color TV in the building (remember, this was in the 1970's). Just down the hall from us was a couple of apartments of law students from Minnesota. The Vikings was a regional football team for not only Minnesota, but also the Dakotas. This was during the Fran Tarkenton era, so football was big. Every Sunday, these guys brought the food and the beer to our apartment so they could watch their beloved Vikings on our color TV (like four college women would deny these handsome law students their football obsession!). These guys loved to talk football and I gathered all kinds of information. Occasionally I would ask a "dumb" question (yes, I already knew the answer, but hey, these with handsome law students who loved to talk to pretty college girls), such as "Why would you ever decline a penalty?" That question was good for at least a quarter-long discussion.

After college, I moved to Colorado, just because I loved mountains and was tired of prairies. As it turned out, Denver is a big, big football town and the Broncos were on their way to their first Superbowl. As a young woman in my 20's, I discovered the culture of watching football in a bar full of people, cheering and drinking.

And in Colorado, there is nothing like a Bronco sunset!

Now you are probably wondering how this relates to knitting, and I am getting there.

I became a wife and a mother and as time went on, I desperately needed time of my own without ignoring my family. So my husband became a "football widower" and my kids became "football orphans." Leave Mom alone when she is watching football. You can talk to her, ask where things are, ask questions, but don't ask to leave her place in the front the TV while her beloved Broncos are on. It worked perfectly! Now the question is which is more important: Her knitting or her Bronco game. The answer is simple: Leave me alone, I am counting my stitches and counting the number of first downs.  

So now that you have plowed through my football history, it is time for my hat pattern. This is a orange and blue slouchy hat I made for my son's friend who is obviously a big Bronco fan. The big trick of this hat is that I use very small needles (size 1) for the ribbed band and needles several times larger for the body. So enjoy in the colors of your favorite team from Little League to the Pros.

1 skein MJYarns Simple Sock Fingering Weight in King’s Blue (Color A)
1 skein MJYarns Simple Sock Fingering Weight in Intrigue (orange) (Color B)
(75% Superwash Corriedale wool; 25% Nylon, 100g/380 yds)
Size US 1 (2.25 mm) Circular Needles
Size US 6 (4.0 mm) Circular Needles
Size US 6 (4.0 mm) Double Pointed Needles
Yarn needle
Stitch markers
Gauge: 22 stitches per 4 inches.
Size: Fits most adults. Hat has a lot of stretch so one size fits most

With color A and smaller circular needle, cast on 129 stitches.  Join, being careful not to twist the stitches.
Work a 2x1 rib (knit 2, purl 1) for one inch. 
Next round: Knit next row, increasing 6 stitches evenly across the round (136 stitches).

Switch to Color B and larger needle, and work in stockinette stitch for 6 rounds.
Switch to Color A and work stockinette for six rounds.

Continue in stockinette for a total of three sets of stripes (not counting ribbed band) or desired length.

Crown: (switch to DPNs when necessary)
Row 1:  In color B, *K2tog, K 17, SSK* eight times.
Row 2 and all even numbered rows: Knit.
Row 3:  *K2tog, K 15, SSK*. Repeat to end of round.
Continue in this pattern switching colors every six rounds, reducing the number of knit stitches between the decreases by 2 until 8 stitches remain.   Cut yarn, leaving an 8” tail. Cut yarn, thread through the remaining stitches and secure tightly.  Weave in ends.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Magical Animal

Cats are wonderfully magical animals. Even my Hannibal Lector Neko has magical abilities that just completely flummoxes me.

I am convinced that he has the ability to appear and disappear at will. I have yet to caught him in the act, but I keep my eyes peeled for the act to happen. Many times, I call him and he doesn't come. I know he hears me and I know he knows his name. I look in his many hiding places where I have found him before:

... in a shopping bag...
... a wayward box in the living room ...

... pile of clothes in the closet ...
Under the spinning wheel ...

... in a basket of clean clothes ...

... behind the piano ...

.... a blanket on the couch ...

... or on the arm of the chair ...

... in the yarn ...

... and more yarn ...

... on the keyboard ...

... up the ladder ...

... in the sink ...

.... among the finished projects ...

... in the cupboard ...
... in a shopping bag, whether it is empty or not ...

...  and he is not in any of those places. I'm not worried because he can't get out, but where is he?

Finally, I give up and live with the fact that I will have to put off cuddling with him for awhile.

Suddenly, he is in the middle of the living room looking at me. I didn't see him come in, I didn't hear him. He was just suddenly there. He looks up at him with that expression on his face "I was here all along."

There have been times when we thought he might have gotten outside because we were in and out the front door several times and he might have sneaked out. Ken and I encircle the yard calling his name. We open a can of tuna cat food to entice him to come back. He can be hard to see in the bushes because he is all black, so you can occasionally see us lifting the branches to get a better look. We crawl on our hands and knees to look under the back deck and under the neighbor's porch.

I have had this cat for over 14 years and I can't believe that I hadn't figured this out before.

He is magic. He has the ability to appear and disappear at will. He wasn't invisible -- he was somewhere else. There has to be a cat dimension that he visits to play with other magical cats and maybe even dogs. Can you imagine what a wonderful place that would be? They have even been planning to take over the world from us humans, thinking they could run it better. They might have something there.

It could be that he is just screwing with me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tom’s Seed Rib Slouchy Hat

Purple, lavender, and beige
Tom’s Seed Rib Slouchy Hat
Blue, navy and light gray

The slouchy hat can be made for men, women, or unisex by just using sock yarn. I have made several hats it in different colors and I will continue to make many more. They are fast and easy, perfect for ‘mindless’ knitting while watching TV. I used my favorite yarn Loops and Threads Woolike, but any sock yarn or similar weight will work. You can also make it using just one color, or use a self-striping sock yarn to create a unique striped effect.

1 skein each Loops and Threads Woolike in any two colors (85% Acrylic; 15% Nylon, 620m/678yds)
Size US 4 (3.25 mm) Circular Needles
Size US 4 (3.5 mm) Double Pointed Needles
Yarn needle
Stitch markers
Gauge: 18 stitches per 2 inches.
Size: Fits most medium (22-23”) to large (23-25”) sized heads since pattern is very stretchy. To make a smaller size, reduce the number of cast on stitches by numbers divisible by 4.

Seed Rib Pattern Stitch:
Round 1:Color 1, knit.
Round 2: K2, P2. Repeat to end of round.
Round 3:Color 2, knit.
Round 4: K2, P2. Repeat to end of round.

Hat Pattern:
Cast on 144 sts. Place marker and join.
Work the four rows of the pattern stitch for 10 inches alternating colors, ending with round 1.

Round 1: With Color 1, P2tog, k2. Repeat to end of round.
Round 2: With Color 2, Knit.
Round 3: P1, k2tog. Repeat to end of round.
Round 4: With Color 1, Knit.
Round 5: k2tog to end.
Continue with K2tog until you have about 10 stitches left.

Break yarn. Thread yarn thread and draw through the remaining stitches.  Weave in ends.

Orange, brown and cream (Still working on it)

Monday, May 22, 2017

More snow

Just wanted to post pictures from the snowstorm of May 18th. No, this is a different storm from the April 29th storm.  Plus we are supposed to get another one this week.  Winter may last until June this year -- and it wouldn't be the first time we have had snow in June. And I'm okay with this because it means the heat of summer will be delayed again. Let it snow!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Erin Honeycomb Hat


If you like playing with color combinations, you need to try this honeycomb pattern in a hat. Woolike yarn comes is several colors along with neutral colors such as gray, white and black. This uses two shades of gray to offset the pink and maroon. I want to try this in a purple and lavender, orange and brown, and shades of blue. I used four different colors for the honeycomb, but you can use only one up to several colors. It also uses a banded brim for extra warm, but if you prefer, you can use a rib of 1x1 or 2x2 as well. I would love to see your combinations.

1 skein each Loops and Threads Woolike (85% Acrylic; 15% Nylon, 620m/678yds) in:
A – Demin blue
B – Light gray
C – Pale pink
D – Dark gray
E - Maroon

Size US 2.5 (3.0 mm) Circular Needles
Size US 2.5 (3.0 mm) Double Pointed Needles
Yarn needle
Stitch markers
Approximate 20” waste yarn

Gauge: 32 stitches in pattern to 4” (approximately one pattern per inch); 24 rows to 2"
Size: Fits most medium (22-23”) to large (23-25”) sized heads since pattern is very stretchy. To make a smaller size, reduce the number of cast on stitches by numbers divisible by 8.

Pattern Stitch:
Round 1: With A, knit.
Round 2: With A, purl.
Round 3-8: With B, slip 1, * k6, slip 2; repeat from * across to last st, slip 1.
Round 9: With A, knit.
Round 10: With A, purl.
Round 11-16: With C, K3, *slip 2, k6*, repeat from * across to last 3 sts, k3.
Round 17: With A, knit.
Round 18: With A, purl.
Round 19-24: With D, slip 1, * k6, slip 2; repeat from * across to last st, slip 1.
Repeat Rows 1-32 for Honeycomb Pattern.
Round 25: With A, knit.
Round 26: With A, purl.
Round 27-32: With E, K3, *slip 2, k6*, repeat from * across to last 3 sts, k3.
Round 9: With A, knit.
Round 10: With A, purl.
Hat Pattern:
Cast on 128 sts. Place marker and join.
Work in stockinette (knit every round) for 1½”.
Next round (fold line): K2tog, yo.
Next rnds: Knit in stockinette (knit every round) for 1½”.  

Increase round: K 8; m1*. Repeat to end of round (144 stitches)

Begin pattern: Work rounds 1 through 32 unless you reach the desired length. For this hat, the patterned part of the hat is 8 inches.

Switch to double pointed needles when appropriate.
Round 1: P1, k1. Repeat these 2 stitches to end of round.
Round 2: K2tog to end of round.

Break yarn. Thread yarn thread and draw through the remaining stitches.  Weave in ends.

Sewing up the brim. 
Using a needle and some waste yarn or thread, fold the brim on the fold line and baste the two sides of the brim together. Change the thread to Color A. Using a loose whip stitch, sew the cast on edge to the last row of the brim.

Weave in ends and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Our Foothills Home and Wildlife Need Protection -- from our Panther

We lived in a beautiful community just south of Denver in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The hills you see in the picture above are out our east kitchen windows. Our property backs up to the Pike National Forest so I can always say it is part of our backyard. As you imagine, we have lots and lots of wildlife in our yard and we want to preserve our wildlife habitat while we live in the center of it.

Therefore, we have to be careful not to let our little black kitty Neko out. He would show no mercy to the wildlife! He has been cited by the Wildlife Habitat and Territory (WHAT!) society as being a danger to the environment and wildlife surrounding our home. Neko knows no fear and will defend his home against any and all alien wildlife creatures, including humans and the following critters we have found in our yard:

We have bears, ...
Mama bear and her two cubs

This is how close the bears are; that black spot just over
Ken's shoulder

... and lots and lots of deer:
Our front yard ...

... at the front door ...
... the back deck ...

... grove next to our back deck ...

... tasting the seeds from the bird feeders ...
... even trusting us with their newborns.

We have foxes ...

... and wild turkeys ...
... lots and lots of birds ...

... and yes, mountains lions.
Just outside our garage door
Yes, that mountain lion is just outside the window 
on the south of our house!

Nothing like looking out your window at the mountain lion and then she turns and stares at you!

We also have raccoons, porcupines, and coyotes. I didn't get pictures of the skunks. You can imagine why.