Archive for February, 2013

Ice and Snow

On my regular walks I am always on the look out for beautiful and unusual things.  Winter is no different, although it is definitely harder to be consistant getting outside.  Many times the roads are icy and conditions not good for walking, but when I make the effort I am usually rewarded with unexpected beauty.  Here is a sampling of some things that have made me stop and take a second look.

I found these beautiful ice crystals in the road.  Some of them were small amounts of frozen water that had collected in foot prints and tire tracks.  The others were of frozen mud.

ice lace - footprint ice lace - tire tracks ice lace - frozen mud

These footprints in fresh snow made me wonder about the sleek fox that made them.  Was he looking for breakfast?  Did he find some?

footprints in the snow

I spotted an eagle soaring overhead.  I don’t know that I have seen very many here in Vermont.  I know they are here but seeing this one reminded me of our time in Alaska last summer where they were everywhere.  What a treat to see one here and watch him soaring about on such a lovely day.

soaring eagle

Ice fringe!  Formations along the rivers and streams can be amazing.  The water levels change; there is melting and splashing and some wonderful things occur.  I happened on these on one of my walks, a chance glance really as I was walking by and I stopped to take a closer look.  The formations were so beautiful and unique that I went back the next day with the long lens to take some closer views (the bank was steep and treacherous).  What a treat!

ice fringe on the Black River

ice fringe on the Black River

ice fringe on the Black River

ice fringe on the Black River

Ice fringe on the Black River

Creative Ventures

While I haven’t really been quilting in the last few months, I have been doing some creative projects.  Several of them have involved finishing up things that have been in process for a while.

First off was this pair of socks, languishing on needles for what seems like forever.  This is the project I always took on airplane flights: small, compact, mindless knitting.  The first sock seems like fun somehow, but then the second one seems to take forever.  I vowed to finish them up in time for Christmas gifting since they were for my daughter, but I didn’t quite make it.  The time got away.  But they are done now and being worn proudly in their new home.  This pair is made of Tofutsies yarn on size 0 needles.

Ellen's Tofutsies socks

Next up was alterations to a sweater I had knit for Nathaniel.  The arm length and body width were still fine but the hood didn’t pull up anymore and it was getting short.  After chatting with several good knitters and searching the web for help, I took a deep breath and cut the yarn, picked up stitches and knit down the extra length for the body.  The hood was easier since I just had to undo the bind off row, remove the shaping at the top, pick up stitches and continue knitting to add extra length.  It all came out fine, it’s hard to tell that I altered it at all, and the best part is that he’ll get more wear out of it through the spring.  Yes, I’ve purchased more yarn to make a bigger sweater for next year and beyond.  Why is it the queue never seems to get shorter?!  Don’t answer that.  I already know!

sweater alterations

Then there is this beaded scarf, made of Schaefer cotton yarn named Susan that I strung with over 15oo size 6 beads.  I got a little less than half way and had the wrong number of stitches for the pattern.  I had no idea where I had made my mistake and un-knitting didn’t rectify the problem.  I set it aside until I found Jocelyn, an expert lace knitter who helped me get back to the right count.  Then the project sat for months while I was busy with other things.  I finally decided that I had too much time and money invested to not finish, and being newly empowered by success with the socks and the sweater revisions, I set about completion.  Knitting with beads isn’t all that hard but it does take time to figure out how to get the beads to display in the right place, in this case on those periodic yarn overs.  And then there was the beautiful undulating waves pattern (found at the same link as the yarn).  It seems like every time I set it down for more than a day, I had to figure it out all over again.  I ended up un-knitting a lot but set myself a goal of either one full motif per day or at least getting back to where I started if I had to take out mistakes.  Tail ends are woven in, blocking is on the agenda.  It will be perfect for my spring wardrobe.undulating waves scarf

In the midst of all this, I started the hat kit that I bought at the Oomingmak store in Anchorage, Alaska this past summer.  The yarn is made from qiviut, the very fine under hairs of the musk ox.  It is amazingly light weight and amazingly warm; it is also amazingly expensive since it is labor intensive to process to perfection.  The pattern didn’t call for the little leaf at the top, but since I had some yarn left over and I wanted to use it all up, I fashioned the two-sided leaf motif atop a short icord stem for the finish.  I am enjoying wearing it on our chilly Vermont winter days.

qiviut hat

And finally, what are the holidays without a little project in the offing?  Ellen wanted to make her little nephew a backpack that she had seen on a That crafty Mrs V’s website.  Of course, she didn’t want pink prints like the sample and wanted to add a few design elements, so asked for my help while they were up for their visit.  Mrs V’s’s blog post said she had made hers in two nap times so it sounded doable and I suggested Ellen gather all the supplies needed, bring them along and we would set aside the time to execute her vision.  All I can say is that the Mrs V’s’s child must have taken 5 hour naps; either that or our addition of special batman motifs, water bottle pockets, special loops and labels doubled our construction time.  We managed to finish but spent several late-ish evenings in the process.  The pay off is that the BATpack (batman, get it?) was a huge hit – it was worth all the effort!

Here is Nathaniel inspecting the batpack prior to sending off, and cousin Caleb proudly wearing his pack to the nursery at church.

the inspectorCaleb and his batpack

Valentines

There is a woman in our town who started a lovely tradition several years ago.  Her name is Nancy Hagge and she sews and stuffs hearts all year long in preparation for February.  Her hearts are pairs connected together with string and they are made from brightly colored fabrics.  They magically appear in various places on February 1st and remain for the entire month.  One can see them all around town hanging from tree branches mostly but also in the gazebo on the green, on front doors and porch railings.  What a welcome surprise on a dreary day to round the corner and behold the wondrous sight.  It almost takes your breath away.

February hearts

I made my own little homemade valentines.  There weren’t so many this year and they were made from felted woolen fabric and embroidered with floss.  They were actually little pockets, and each one held a tiny card with a special message.embroidered Valentines

embroidered valentines - front

embroidered valentines - back view

But of course. the most special “Valentine” ever given was Jesus.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I’m Here!

Dear faithful readers, perhaps some of you are like my friend Colleen who wonders where in the world I’ve disappeared to. I’m here. Really.

It is a sad commentary that it has been nearly two months since my last post. It isn’t because I haven’t done anything, just that I haven’t taken the time to let you know about it. So, in this post and the next several ones I hope to rectify that.

Let’s start with the holidays. We had a wonderful time with family – visiting, sharing good food and enjoying the great outdoors. One of our neighbors has a sizable tractor collection and runs his own earth moving business. SinceNathaniel LOVES all things tractor/ digger/ construction vehicle, we stopped by one day to ask permission to wander among the wonderful machines and try on a few for size. You can tell by the big smile that the little man is ready to take this vintage red number out for a spin.

Nathaniel on Mr Tucker's tractor

We wandered out into the woods on snow shoes to find tree gnomes keeping watch in the silence,

tree gnomes

and the snow was absolutely perfect for sledding. The runs were long and quick. We all had a grand time, including the dog.

SleddingEllen, Nathaniel and Monte

After our adventures, the antler chandelier in the mud room was just right for hanging snowy gear.

snow gear
This last image is from my walk one day. Most of the photos I took with my phone on that outing were of snow drifts along the road, but somehow I snapped this one too. I’m still trying to figure out how I did it.

view toward Okemo Mountain


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