Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

I have dreamed of becoming a forest ranger. That is, I did as a child. My family took camping trips out west to mountain country. I would watch the scenery pass me by from the front window of our truck camper. Being here brings back a flood of memories. Here it is over 30 years later. Today I sit in the front seat of a convertible next to my darling. We spent the day in Rocky Mountain National Park. It's an unbelievable sight! Words can't describe the awesomeness of this park.

The road that loops around the park goes up over 12000 feet.

The drive to the top tested my nerves. There came a point that I couldn't look over the edge of the road. There is no guard rail. I will admit that I was terrified!

We were lucky to see Elk graze on the rocky tundra at the highest elevation.

At the highest point it was cold and rainy. Then the sun shone down like a gift from God! What an experience!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chasing the Sun

I was lucky to capture these beauties on film Saturday morning. Morning glories are on of my all time favorite annual flowers. They look so pretty climbing up an old gear box.

I planted several different varieties. I don't remember the name of this purple flower. The colors are so vivid.

The vines are now climbing on my sunflowers! It's lovely to see. My Grandmother took pictures of her flowers. She loved to garden and wanted to share and remember her success. Grandma would pull out her photo's for all of us to see. When I was younger I never understood the draw of flower pictures. I always politely sped through the dreaded flowers! Look at me now. I never would've thought that I would be taking pictures of flowers. I bet my Grandma would be proud.

We have been chasing the sun all day today. We left for vacation and are heading west. It's amazing to see these awesome wind turbines along the interstate. This is a shot of a cool turbine near Paw Paw Illinois. I'm sure the windmills are all over the country. There is something so majestic about these huge power makers. We found ourselves mesmerized by them. I am planning on blogging from the road. That's if I can get Internet. I hope you stop by and join me on our adventure!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Marching On Baby

My very first sock is taking shape. I can't believe that I waited so long to jump into sock knitting. So far I am finding the process fairly simple. The pattern is from the book Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. The leg of the sock is a simple knit 3, purl 1 rib. I have knitted away with no problems. Or so I thought!

The issue is me! I was so excited to get to the point where I could try on the sock. I had been anticipating that moment for several days. Finally I tried on the sock......It's a little big. It's not huge. It doesn't fit snug. I looked back at the pattern. Hmm, what did I do wrong? I read the first paragraph where it talks about size. I just skimmed through that part you see. I knitted the wrong size! When I saw the number 8 and I assumed it meant shoe size.

My thought about the second sock is to knit the correct size. I can't imagine frogging this entire project. It's just a little big, right? What would you do? I have learned yet another great lesson. Read your pattern carefully from start to finish! lol! It makes for a funny story. I will surely always remember my very first adventure into sock knitting.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I know it's been such a long time since my last post. I want to thank Grace, Susan and Marsha for the sweet e-mails. You all inspired me to sit back down at the computer and pound out a post. Thanks girls! I can't believe how fast the time has flown. It's been an event filled summer. Lots of work and not enough play! lol! Our summer here in northern Illinois has been a cold one. It's the coolest summer I can remember. The weather is not helping my garden. I am praying for heat so my tomatoes can ripen. I was able to get several jars of pickles made. Looking at the calendar I was shocked to see that fall is less than 30 days away. The first day of Autumn begins on September 22. Speaking of fall, I have finally started knitting my very first socks. I hand dyed the fiber myself. I call it cornfield colorway.

One of the creative things I have been playing with is dyeing yarn. I have been experimenting with different methods cooking batches of wool yarn. I am using simple supplies like good ole Kool Aid. You know, the stuff you drank as a kid.

First you need to make sure your fiber is 100 percent wool. For this method I used the crock pot. I filled the container half full of water and set the heat on high. Let the water get steamy. Using yarn that has been skeined soak it in water with a touch of soap for at least 20 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. You are ready to add the yarn to the crock pot. Because I was experimenting I decided to pour the dry Kool Aid right on top of the yarn.

I used lemon lime and orange Kool Aid. The smell from the kitchen was perfumed with fruity scents! I gave the yarn a slight stir to dissolve the powder. I wanted the colors to meld together and still look orange and green. I'm not sure how long it took for the colors to bond to the fiber. Probably not more that 30 minutes. You know it's finished when the dye is gone. The water will look clear.

Take the yarn out of the crock pot. Watch out, it's going to be hot. Let it cool off. I rinsed it in the sink. Hang it out to dry and then re-skein the yarn. Here is the finished product.

What do you think? Pretty cool. I have tried all different methods that I will share with you in the future. I have to say that the entire process is so enjoyable. If you have any questions please ask. I'm not an expert but I can muddle my way around and tell you what not to do! lol!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Super Simple Clothes Pin Bag

I don't know about you but we have had some pretty wet weather here. Yesterday we got over 4" of rain. This morning the sun was shining and the breeze was blowing. It's the perfect day to hang out the laundry. I got busy sorting and washing. I brought the clothes outdoors and was surprised to find all of my pins on the wet ground. The bag is totally destroyed. All of the rain and wind split it apart.

I have wanted to make my own bag for years. I never got around to it. Hmm, I need to whip up some kind of bag quick and don't want to go out to the store to get any supplies. I searched through my summer clothes box and dove into the very bottom. That's the archive section. I have things in that box that haven't seen the light of day for years. Yup, many years.

I present you with a sleeveless shirt from the early 90's. Notice how long it is? I don't know what I was thinking when I purchased it at Farm and Fleet. Long shirt on a short person? It never looked good on me. It's better suited as a clothes pin bag.

First thing you have to do is button up the front of the shirt. Turn it inside out and measure down about 5" from the lower edge of the armhole. Draw a straight line across the shirt. I used my favorite blue wash away marker. Whack off the extra fabric of the shirt if you need to. I had to cut off 10". Darn dumb shirt! lol! The next step is to sew on the line. I used a simple straight stitch. Make sure as you are sewing that you won't come up and hit any buttons. That could mess up your machine. I know these things from experience. Trust me.

Next I stitched up the button lapel of the shirt. That's to keep in your pins. Again, be careful of the buttons. I left the top button opened for looks. :)

Now you are ready to sew up the armholes. If I was using a shirt that had sleeves I would sew up the edges of the sleeves. Pretty easy so far. Now we are ready to turn it right side out.

Final step is to put it on a hanger. I used a cheap 10 for $1.00 plastic hanger. It fits snugly. Now put it to work! This took me about 30 minutes from start to finish. Yes, that includes fishing through the "vintage" clothing!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Warm Woolies

One of the groups I belong to on Ravelry is Malabrigo Junkie's. For the month of June we are participating in a charity KAL. One of the charities is Warm Woolies. This vest is my first item that I am donating to Warm Woolies. It's also my very first vest I have knitted. You can find the vest pattern here. Warm Woolies knit warm wool items for deserving children living in orphanages in Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The organization also donates to Native American Reservations in the United States.

Do you remember a quite a few years back when Diane Sawyer reported on the state-run orphanages in Russia? It's a story that has stuck with me since it first aired in 1989. I know that many children were rescued from the horrible conditions and continue to be adopted to loving homes. The winter conditions in these nations are brutal. They don't have the luxury of well heated buildings. About 8 years ago a very dear friend and I made several baby quilts for hospitals in Romania. I quilted the fabric together and Ann Marie sat at the serger sewing the edges together. I'm not sure how many we made but it was a lot. Any little way I can try and help some little child that needs to be kept warm is well worth the effort.

Part of the requirements for the knitted items are they must be made with animal fiber. Also you must knit in bulky weight. I used worsted Patons doubled for the vest. It's knit on large needles size 10 1/2. I used 2.25 skeins for this size 6-8 project. The great thing about knitting with bulky yarn is instant gratification. It knits up super fast too. I'm going to knit a hat to match next. I wanted to start today but I got caught up in mulching the flower beds.

A very good friend of mine gave me a whole case of vintage natural wool. I am planning on making more 100% wool items for Warm Woolies. I plan on dyeing the vintage wool in bright colors. I have experimented with Kool Aid and will share that with you later in the week. If you would like to join me in a charity KAL for Warm Woolies please check out the link at the top of this post.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Is It June?

The weather man just commented that June 2009 is one of the 14Th coolest on record. It feels like April. Lots of cold and rain. It's great weather for handwork. I recently finished machine quilting this beautiful log cabin quilt top for one of my very good friends. There is something so special about this simple quilt block. Come in for a closer look.

When I quilt a design for someone it usually takes a lot of planning and playing. I get to know what my customer likes. I try and get a feel for her personality. I ponder on as many combinations as I can think of. I always pray over each top I quilt. My friend is passionate about her garden and is an expert gardener. I tweaked this floral design and quilted it all over the quilt especially with her in mind.

I quilted large and small flowers. I wanted it to look like flowers were scattered all over her quilt. I also used a green and blue variegated YLI thread. It was a dream to work with. The machine quilted flowers glowed with color. Her response? She cried when I unfolded her treasure. I love those kind of reactions! I am so blessed!

{7:17} I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bowled Over

I didn't do much knitting the past month. I have been in a knitting slump. After ripping out my last scarf I felt burned out. Frogging back 400 stitches per row will do that to a person. I set my scarf aside and kind of gave up for a while. I knew I needed to find something small to work on that was totally different and new. Knitted and felted bowls. There is something so unique about a handmade bowl. It defies all logic.

The pattern is pretty simple yet so creative. I got it from the book One Skein by Leigh Radford.
The fun thing about these projects is how you can use them. They look so darn cute with a few eggs inside.

I think a felted bowl full of buttons is so sweet!

How about a bowl filled with sewing notions. It just fits.

Or how about adding an adorable knitted strawberry to a handmade bowl?

I love this itty bitty pattern. You can find it here. These bowls would make a great gift filled with the recipients favorite things like chocolate perhaps. The best thing for me was I got my groove back! Yippee!

Thank you for stopping by. I have a ton of stuff to share over then next few weeks. I have been working on all kinds of things. Everything from knitting to quilting and gardening. I leave you with this final shot of my first small harvest from the garden. Mmmm, fresh radishes!

Psalms{128:2} For you will eat the labor of your hands.
You will be happy, and it will be well with you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's Going On?

I was so surprised to notice how long it's been since I have written a blog post. Time seems to go by so quickly. So, what have I been up to? Actually lots of stuff. Today I wanted to share this cute little baby ruffled hat. The pattern is called Lilly and you can find it here.

The yarn is Bernat Cotton Tots colorway wonder dreams. I used size 9 needles. It's a fairly fast knit. Perfect for a little baby girl. I have finished a few other items this past month. I'll blog about those later. Lately my mind is not on knitting.

It's spring and my mind has been on gardening! Look what's growing in the basement. Yup, I've got lots of tomatoes and a few mini pepper plants growing.

I also started herb plants. I've got basil, sage, dill and thyme ready to transplant into larger pots.

Lat Thursday I spent most of my day playing in the dirt. It was wonderful to get my hands in the warm dirt. My mind swirled with grand gardening idea's! I bought a few plants at Home Depot.

Here are a few of the items that have been planted: Bok Choy which tastes great stir fried. Several broccoli plants, red romaine lettuce plants. By accident I purchased some iceberg lettuce plants. Those plants should be interesting. I planted radish seeds and all kinds of greens including my favorite, arugula. Yum!

This morning I checked the progress of the garden and look what I saw. You have to look closely. Yes, the greens are growing! Now if it would only stop raining and dry out a bit. I have lots more to plant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Need an Idea For Dinner?

Do you need an idea for a great, quick meal for dinner tonight? Boy, do I have the recipe for you. I am passionate about creating a fantastic meal each and every night. Most evenings when I come home from work I know that time is of the essence. I can't spend 2 hours chopping and sauteing. Lets not even think of all of the clean up time. I don't want to spend a full evening chained to the stove and the sink.

Beef Fajitas fits the bill. I promise it's easy peasy. This meal can be made entirely on the grill. First you want to start out with a great piece of flank steak. I get my meat from a small local grocer. I find that the larger the grocery store the less quality meat they offer. At least that's how it is in my area. I always let my meat get to room temperature. I never cook a cold piece of meat. Alright if you are using a gas grill like I do pre heat your grill on high for 15 minutes. Next squeeze 2 to 3 limes over your flank steak. Don't forget to salt and pepper your steak. There is no need to marinate your steak for hours. Just sprinkling your juice while your grill heats is enough. Throw your steak on your grill and cook each side for about 5 to 7 minutes. On my grill it turns out medium to medium rare. Just the way my family likes it. Remove your steak from the grill and tent it with tin foil so it can rest for about 10 minutes. While it rests we can cook our veggies.

Check out this beauty! Trust me, it's out of this world! Is your mouth watering yet?

Next get your veggies ready. Remember we are cooking everything on the grill. Slice your onions in 1/2" rounds. Don't separate them into rings. Seed and cut your peppers like I have so they can cook easily on the grill. Turn your grill to medium heat. If you like add a bit of olive oil to your veggies to keep them from sticking to the grill. It will take 8 to 10 minutes to cook. After you have removed the veggies from the grill quick throw on your flour tortilla's for 20 seconds per side.

Slice your rested meat thinly on the bias against the grain. Next slice your veggies. This is great! Not a pot or pan to wash! Yippee!

Put together your Fajitas. Yum! Make sure to make some guacamole and salsa if you are a fan of those condiments. I have a great recipe from guacamole. If you are interested just let me know in your comment. I am always happy to share.
I guarantee you that if you serve this meal for your family or friends you will be a total rock star! Enjoy!