Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What's on my needles?

I've got a Dragon Scarf on my needles.  It's my second Orenburg lace scarf, and the pattern is a more contemporary design.  The pointed tail and the zig-zag edges inspired the naming of the scarf. 

I'm using #2 needles and a luxurious cashmere yarn.  A 28-row repeat makes up the pattern.  This repeat is to be knitted 14 times; I'm on the 8th...so I'm a little more than half way through the project.  Now that I'm getting more familiar with the pattern and reading the chart, it doesn't seem so intense. At this point, I can even watch TV and knit. I must admit, however,  there are times when I have to stop, recount stitches, and sometimes back up and fix an error because I got a little too interested in the program!

Dragon Scarf in progress...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Musings...

In the past few weeks I have been reminded that...

Salmon and BBQ chicken and BBQ ribs taste FANTASTIC when prepared (slow cooked) outdoors in a smoker... thanks to my brother...

Live music sounds wonderfully majestic when played under a canopy of tall evergreens and cottonwoods in city park...   and it doesn't hurt to have a beautiful sunset as a backdrop...

Attending an elegant garden wedding in the shade of tall trees on a 90 degree July evening in the company of many old friends and colleagues is a grand event...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Chit Chat

On Wednesday morning (7-25-12) I agreed (with some apprehension) to join Sherry S. on the radio broadcast of "Chit Chat" on one of our local AM stations to talk about upcoming non-credit classes I will be teaching at Central Wyoming College this Fall.  I have four needle-felting classes scheduled, and this was certainly a great opportunity to inform listeners and perhaps generate interest for the classes.  However.....speaking "off the cuff" in front of many listeners is sometimes out of my comfort zone; but I decided to accept the invitation (bite the bullet, so to speak). 

The talk show host, Leslie S., was very kind, most interested in learning something about this craft, and led the conversation in such a way that it was a delightful experience.  Thank you, Sherry and Leslie!  Leslie was most fascinated by the 3-D figure of the Woodland Santa that I brought for her to see.  It was similar to the one pictured below.  This is one of the classes I'll be offering, and I'm looking forward to pulling out the wool and getting started again on some new projects!

Woodland Santa carrying a lamb

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Needle-felted Horse Ornament

I enjoy needle-felting 3-D forms and have made several animals.  This horse-head took about 2 hours  to make, and the gal who has been making over a hundred of these to sell was walking me through all the steps.  I was actually amazed at how well it turned out.  Could I make another one? Not without the artist's help!  I need a little more practice!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Big Horn Canyon, final thoughts...

What a fun time on the water!  

I’ve always loved being on the water and am ready for just about any excuse to do so.  I used to slalom ski, wakeboard, kneeboard, and tube for all I was worth; I just couldn’t wait for the next trip out to the lake!  My brother and I have stories of skiing so hard and long, we could hardly pull ourselves back into the boat!  And for the next week, we could barely lift a glass of water to our lips... or lift our arms to wash our hair or brush our teeth, “oooowwww!”   But after resting for a week, we were ready to get back at it and build up those muscles! 

 Now I’m happy to pull others around the lake.  Or take a beautiful tour of some of the spectacular waterways in our state.  That’s excitement enough!  I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to return to Big Horn Canyon this summer…and hope to do it again.  

Looking up, that's where the overlook is located and where I took the pictures for the opening of this post about the canyon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Big Horn Canyon, continued...

When we arrived at Horseshoe Bend, the marina where we would launch the jet ski, it was about 10:00 a.m., and not many people had started to unload.  That made it really nice to get the trailer backed down the ramp without a lot of people waiting.  

After slowly cruising out of the marina boundaries, we found that Horseshoe Bend is a pretty big area.  Once we were all ready, we headed north to the waters between the high canyon walls.  As the rock walls began to rise, our friends wanted to stop for a while to let the boys jump off the cliff walls.  So we watched them climb up the rock ledge and then muster the nerve to actually make the jump.  They commented that it didn’t look too terribly high from the water, but once you were up there, it was intimidating!  As we watched them jump, it seemed like they had a lot of "hang time," and their legs would start pedaling on the way down.  Then “whoosh,” they’d disappear into the deep water.
The boys climbed up on  this rock ledge and jumped off.

Then they found this ledge to jump off...even more of a thrill.

We explored the first few miles of the canyon and took some pictures before lunch.  The canyon walls rise as high as 1000 feet.  In the deepest areas, the water goes down as far as 500 feet. 

A scenic picture near Devil's Canyon.
 After lunch, it was decided that the adults would take a tour of the canyon, going up about 25 miles, just beyond Barry’s Landing.  That covers the most spectacular scenery in the canyon. The guys were driving the other two jet skis and had their wives on behind.  My friend Julie was riding behind me, and we were hoping to cruise, look around, and have ample time for pictures.   When they said, "Let’s go,” I had no idea they meant full throttle!!  Whoa.  The boys obviously loved the open water and high speeds!  So as not to be left behind, I did my best to follow…30 mph…40 mph…45 mph …50 mph!!??? I guess this was not the scenic tour!!  It was all I could do to navigate the waves and keep us from being bounced around too much.  I had a death grip on the handle bars, my pony tail was flying, and the wind blew my visor off…three times.  Luckily, Julie caught it each time, and I finally decided to just hook it around my knee and forget it. 

Do you see the jet ski on the right edge of the picture?
 After a few miles, the guys stopped, waited a minute for us to catch up, and then pointed out some beautiful rock formations.  As we cruised into Devil's Canyon, we got a real treat: we spotted several mountain goats.    

Continuing up the river, we were enveloped by the colorful rock walls.  Jenn noted that between the walls we felt so small, like an ant in a deep sidewalk crack!  Perhaps one can get a sense of that from the pictures.  As boats and jet skis moved up and down the river, the waves they created didn’t have far to go before they bounced off the wall; thus, the waters stayed stirred up  as long as water-crafts were throwing big wakes.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Big Horn Canyon

Yesterday I returned to a beautiful, scenic, recreational area I had not visited in about 15 years.  It’s interesting how one forgets many of the details of an area; yet some details get tucked into the long-term memory bank, not to be forgotten.  I’m so thankful I could make a return trip to the Big Horn Canyon Recreational Site to refresh the details, as this is a beautiful place.

Big Horn Canyon is in northern Wyoming, just outside of Lovell. I traveled with one of my teaching buddies, and we met another teaching buddy and her family at the river to ride our jet skis up Big Horn Canyon about 25 miles.  One can actually ride all the way to Yellowtail Dam in Montana, which is about 50 miles, one way.

The first time I made this trip, I owned a 20 ft. Ebko boat.  My brother and his family rode with me, and we traveled the river all the way to Yellowtail Dam.  The run-off that year was plentiful, and in many places we encountered pockets of debris in the river, through which we had to carefully maneuver.  It was great fun “running the river” at top speed and jumping the wakes of other boats. The river was green and very deep, and the canyon walls were unforgettable, a few details that stayed with me.

Yesterday’s adventure started by taking a look at the canyon from the top.  We drove to Devil’s Canyon overlook, where we could see the river as it snaked through the canyon walls.  That’s where we would be riding…
Big Horn Canyon

Friday, July 20, 2012


Needle-felting is an art form that I have really enjoyed learning and experimenting with in the past few years.  I am amazed at what others have created with wool, from flat art projects to three-dimensional pieces.  I have found inspiration in needle-felting books, but even more from local artists.  Two of  the pieces I created this year are pictured below. The first is a landscape needle-felted on a 5X7" piece of polyester fabric.  Because it's behind the glass in this frame, it's a bit challenging to photograph.  I have begun to learn a lot about color, especially about laying down the wool so that the eye blends the colored fibers. 

Fall Mountain Colors
Another "flat" piece I made is on a wool table-runner.  I taught a needle-felting class last spring, which allowed the students to use cookie cutters to created the designs, rather than making the shapes free-hand. One of the gals made a beautiful one with the fish cookie cutter...and that inspired me to make one of my own (a variation on the theme). I decided to make mine into a wall-hanging and hung it from a tree branch with leather and beads.

Fish in the Stream

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flowering House Plant

I surely do have much of a "green thumb," but I do have a few house plants that I truly enjoy.  The plant pictured below was given to me at least ten years ago.  I was so pleasantly surprised when it put on some very unusual blooms.  Again, this summer, I have two such blooms on this plant. These little "stars" are very waxy.  Does anybody know the name of this plant or anything about the blooms???

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Strawberry Scarf

I attended a lace knitting workshop in April 2012, sponsored by the Fremont Fiber Arts Guild.  Our guest teacher was Galina Khmeleva, a knitter from Russia who is working very hard to keep the Orenburg Knitted-Lace Tradition alive.  She currently lives in the U.S., owns the company Skaska Designs,  and gives workshops across the country.

It has taken me about 2 1/2 months, but I finally finished my first Orenburg lace scarf. It is made of 50% silk and 50% merino wool, and it measures about 15" wide and 60" long.  I actually made it about 10 inches longer than the pattern required because I wanted to be able to wear it more like a shawl than a scarf.  It's a challenge to get a good picture of it, but here's a shot.

The Strawberry Scarf 

I have to say that I really enjoyed knitting this scarf.  Some lace projects, not so much. ( For instance, I still have a beautiful raspberry-colored  lace shawl on the needles...which I started 2 or 3 years ago.  I supposed most knitters have one of those projects waiting for them to return.) However, one of the things about Orenburg Lace that I really like is that it looks the same on both sides; there is no wrong side. Russian women would often have to wrap themselves in their scarves or shawls before sun-up, and with low light making it difficult  to see, they didn't have to worry about whether or not the right side of their lace would be facing out to be admired by others; it would always be the right side. Secondly, these patterns have knit stitches only--no purl stitches!!  Yahoo! Another fun characteristic of a well-made Orenburg scarf is that the holes must be small enough that your little finger cannot go through them. Evidently, good Russian mothers would check out the handiwork of their sons' potential brides for this kind of workmanship!  The saw-tooth edging may look a bit complicated, but it's easy and frames the scarf beautifully. 

Many thanks to my friend Julie, who walked me through the last steps of "turning the corner" and putting the lace edge on the end of the scarf.  It did take some "ripping back," some questions and  grumbling by me, calm words of encouragement by Julie...oh, and refreshment in a red solo cup.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thoughts About Drought, cont.

An inspiring image in the Bible is that of a tree growing on the banks of a large river.  Many lessons can be learned from it, but one is getting a clearer picture of what the tree gains from being close to the source of its nutriment, its very life.  The water is deep, constant, and good.  

In a year of drought, what would happen to the tree if it was moved away from the banks of the river?  Leaning on the uncertain nature of weather or luck to prosper, the result would eventually be worry, disappointment, and loss. 

Just like the tree, how blessed we are when our roots are in the river, a metaphor for the infinite source of all good, God’s love and provision for us.  Here we feel the refreshing assurance that we always have all that we need.  The river provides more than we can absorb.  We can let the flow of God’s love for us enter our thought and effectively drown fear, lack, greed, … or whatever would prevent our growth.

Psalms 1:3  “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”