Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A little wet-felting...

I taught a wet felting class two weekends ago, and we had a great time.  It's wet and messy, but so much fun working with alpaca wool - luscious stuff - to create a scarf.  We used WY alpaca wool --all in the natural shades. 

Some of the gals got very creative with their combination of colors.  All went away with a lovely, soft, warm scarf.

On Sunday afternoon I was able to get the temperature up high enough in the "sun room" to use it to wet-felt another scarf.  I wanted to make one a bit longer, and the floor was the best option for a work space.  I made this one with what was left of the cream colored alpaca, with some of the curly baby alpaca mix on the ends for embellishment.

This is a scarf made from the baby alpaca mix.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Shawl we knit?

I found this shawl pattern called "Nurmilintu," and the asymmetrical structure reminded me of the "Hitchhiker."  I like the look of the lacy sections, so thought I'd give it a try.  The cast-on was started on the plane ride to Boston, and I got a good start while either in planes or airports.  But now I've completed 5 sections, and working on the 6th.  I chose lace weight yarn and size 2 needles; I'm quite sure the pattern actually calls for a little heavier weight yarn and bigger needles, but it can be done either way, depending on preference.  After this last section of lace, the pattern calls for the bind-off.  But of course, one can continue to add sections, and I think that's what I will do.  I'd like the length to be another 6 inches longer...or so.  The lace sections should be more visible/interesting after I block it.

The knitting is kind of slow in terms of progress, but I think I'm just getting impatient.  One stitch at a time...I remind myself.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Still knitting...

Oh yeah, I've still been knitting.  It's time to post a few pictures.  I knit this hat - a Fair Isle style pattern, using a purchased kit.  But then, I realized it's the perfect pattern to use for making use of left-over yarns from past projects.  So, I played around with some holiday colors to create this one:

Both hats have been given away.  It was fun to gift them.

I finished the fingerless mitts too...but haven't blocked them.  They are pretty light-weight; might be perfect for wearing when playing the piano in a cold room. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chain, chain, change

Like most of the areas in the country, a week ago we went from this...

to this.  And we have been enduring all those sub-zero temps.  Brrr.... The fire in the woodstove has been roaring.  

I was totally surprised to see these chuckers poking around in my yard this late in the season. 
Did they get caught unawares by the weather? 
"Did you miss your flight, boys?" 
And then, look at them;  they are round as balls!  All fluffed out...  and wearing aviator sunglasses.  Or are they wearing Zorro masks? 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Last day of leaf-peeping tour

The last full day of our stay in New England was mostly spent in and around Portland, ME.  We were advised to head to Cape Elizabeth and see the light house there, called Portland Head Light.  This whole area had once been a fortress and military compound.  At one time rows of barracks housed soldiers and officers defending the coast.  Evidently, this lighthouse is one of the more picturesque ones in the area, and it has been photographed and featured in paintings over the decades.  The main building next to the lighthouse is now a museum, but it once housed the light keepers.  It was an appointed position, and often those appointed had absolutely no knowledge or skills for running a lighthouse; they learned quickly.
Portland Head Light
The improvements of the lamps in the lighthouse over the years were significant and impressive. 

A unique chandelier in the pizza place.

A mural on a building in Old Town Portland

Next, we found our way into Old Town Portland, walked around the cobblestone streets, shopped, had lunch at a great pizza place, and by late afternoon, got back in the car and headed to Kennebunkport by dark-thirty for dinner.

We wished we had spent more time exploring these little towns along the coast, like Kennebunkport; what a cute place!  After a seafood dinner, it was time to find the freeway and "book it" to Boston.  That's where we started the trip, and now that we had made a grand circle, we returned for our flight back to the Rocky Mountain West.  So long New England... loved the leaves, the history, and the people!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans' Day

Veterans' Day is one of the most emotional holidays for me.  Perhaps for many.  Having a career in education, I have been involved in our high school's Veterans' Day programs that were truly moving tributes and a show of heartfelt gratitude for vets from every branch of service.  In preparing for programs, I learned so much more about various aspects of the wars our boys and men have fought, and with that knowledge, my gratitude has become more profound.  My trips to Washington D.C. and visits to the war memorials were sobering. 

Today, I'll post a bit about my dad, who served in WWII.  He had already established a grocery business before war broke out.  But, he was called to duty, and he left his store in the hands of one of his sisters, one of his brothers, and a very good clerk who had worked for him for a few years.  He would have been older than many soldiers, and I know that it must have been difficult to leave, not knowing if he'd ever come back. 

He joined the Navy and served most of his time in the South Pacific.  He talked about being on a "tin can," working as a store-keeper on the ship (although I'm probably not using the correct term).  He told very few stories of his time in the service.  However, he did share that one time when he was on deck, he was too near one of the big guns that fired, and it affected his hearing from that point on.

He brought home some very pretty shells which he must have picked up on a beach somewhere; I remember him showing his collection with pleasure, and his blue eyes would light up, but no stories for kids came with it.  I was in awe when he showed us his navy uniforms; he certainly was a skinny guy at the time!

I think the whole experience was very unsettling for him, and he was relieved to be in safe waters or back on land.  It was at a USO dance that he met my mom; so I guess I'm pretty glad they found each other on a dance floor, jitterbugging to some live Big Band music in Madison, WI.

He made it home, took back the grocery store, and continued to build the business, which provided well for his family. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nice surprise

We thought we were heading into Portland for our overnight stay in Maine.  So, we were a little surprised when we checked the address of the motel and followed the leadings of the GPS.  We were going a bit south of Portland to Old Orchard Beach, and the motel was right on the beach.  Wow...what a great location!!  We got there just as it was getting dark-thirty. 

We went next door to a great restaurant (later finding out it's the best one in town) and I ordered Maine Lobster.  Oh wow.  I needed some help in cracking the shell and knowing where to find all the good meat.  I have to say that it's not quite the same in WY when you just get a lobster tail; I don't need help with that.  But, a guy sitting next to us offered to show me how to eat this thing properly.  That also opened up quite a conversation with both him and his wife.  We got some good advice on what to see in Portland the next day and also where to eat.   I took notes.

It seemed like it would be fun to watch the sun rise over the water the next morning, so we got up in time to do that, right from the motel balcony. 

Then we got ready for breakfast and a stroll down on the beach.  First to the pier. 

Next, a walk along the beach, heading back toward the motel.  The tide was out.  Beautiful beach; beautiful water; beautiful sky.  Can you believe this weather?  We took our shoes off to walk the beach...and then just had to go down to the water and get the feet wet.  Oh my goodness, the water was COLD.  Or should I say REFRESHING?  We actually witnessed a retired guy walk right into the breaking waves, dive in, and then return to the beach.  His old black Labrador impatiently waited for him to come back up on shore; obviously the Lab decided that jumping into the ocean was not for him this morning!   Oh man, after I got wet up to my ankles, I couldn't imagine diving in!! 


But it was a great morning for a walk along the beach, and several folks were doing just that - and planning to do a little sun-bathing too.

Now it's on to Portland for the day's adventures.