Friday, June 29, 2007

The Flower and the Bee

For Friday Flowers... a lovely white columbine hosting a guest.

This will be a busy weekend for me, since my stepdaughter is coming into town and then we'll be off next week for a short cruise. Packing for cruises is always difficult, since you need to take such a variety of clothes. And, of course, it takes even longer when I have to try everything on to make sure it still fits...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Weekend Hike

Saturday morning we went on a beautiful hike in Millcreek Canyon to White Fir Pass. This is an "easy" hike, but since I haven't been hiking for a while, it was a good way to start. The path was shady all the way up to the pass in the morning, which made for a pleasant uphill climb. Going down it was mid-day, so the path was sunny, but it still wasn't too hot. There were lots of wildflowers and butterflies to enjoy along the way.

Salt Lake City is considered "high desert", and the valley itself isn't particularly "green". But since it's nestled right up against the Wasatch mountains, it's only a 15 or 20 minute drive for us to get to the canyons from our central downtown location. Yet within a half hour drive to the west, we're in the desert.

The trail

Butterflies and more butterflies

Larry having lunch at White Fir pass with one of our hiking companions

Monday, June 25, 2007

I Guess I Should Post Some Knitting Content

It's not that I haven't been knitting, but it just hasn't been too often lately. I've made good progress on the vest for DH, so at least he's happy about that. I also started the Motorcycle Chica Gloves from Interweave Knits, Summer 2007. I thought they might be good to keep in the car for those days when the steering wheel gets too hot to touch. I also cast on and knitted a few rows of the Curved Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I figured it would be a good vacation project since it will take up very little packing space, but provide many hours of knitting. I thought it would be a good idea to have a good start on it before my trip in July, so I wasn't frustrating myself by trying to work on the first few rows on an airplane.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

007 Snap a Dozen Days - June

Ah, June. What a beautiful month! Gardens are in full swing, both flowers and veggies. It really feels like summer. The spring veggie crop is winding down now, but the summer crops are just beginning. This is a round variety of zucchini - it's nice because the plants don't get as large as a typical zucchini, so they won't take over my yard the way the spaghetti squash do.

June is also the month for the Salt Lake City Arts Festival. We're fortunate to live only a few blocks from where the festival is held, so it's just a short walk. It's nice to look at all of the artwork, sample some food and beverages from the vendors, and listen to some great music. It's definitely an annual ritual.

Then there's hiking! As the weather heats up in June, it's time to head up into the mountains for some greenery and cool breezes. We're so fortunate in Salt Lake City to have the mountains so close - in only a few minutes, we can be enjoying beautiful forest and mountains. It's late enough in the year to have dried out the trails, but early enough so that it's not too hot. There's nothing like beating the heat in the valley by taking a hike along a lovely stream.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Flowers

I just adore having flowers in the garden, so I was excited to join The Woolen Rabbit in her Friday's Flowers pictures. This is a daylily in my front yard, with English lavender in the background. I love the orange and purple together. I had lavender and daylilies at my previous house, so I had to plant them together again.

Mmmmm, That Feels Good

Do you think I could train my cat to do this?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Getting Organized

I'm finally getting my stash a little better organized. It doesn't have a permanent "home" yet, so for now it's just located in the guest bedroom. Our longer-term plans are to clear out some space in the basement where I can spread out a bit more, but until we can find the time to go through all the boxes of crap valuable items and sort through everything, this will have to do. Unfortunately, there's no room for my recent Estes purchases. I guess it's time to go buy another stacking drawer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Estes 2007

I had the great pleasure of going to Estes with a group of fun grrls. The ride there and back was a bit cramped, since we had five people packed in a Subaru Outback, but we made the best of it, and much knitting was done. It was a long drive there and back to just spend one day at the market, but of course, that wasn't the point of the trip. This was my second fiber festival, and by far the largest. It was tons of fun to spend the weekend with a great bunch of friends - the animals, yarn, and fiber were just a bonus.

Laura, Margene, Chris, Val, and Karen

Margene enjoys her pear martini at the Stanley hotel.

Mim getting the opportunity to snuggle with her original Icarus

The stash (no, we didn't drink and drive).

Tough Love: Blog-free Val explains to the jailed llama that she's already bailed him out twice, and this time he's going to have to take responsibility for his own actions.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Overheard at a rest stop on the way to Estes Park

Psst! See that tall person over there in the rest stop parking lot? That's that kidnapper woman. You know, the one we read about in the Purling Dervish news. Quick - you go alert Hilda Von Cisterne. Chip over here is going to try leaping on her as she walks by us on the way to the restroom, and hold her at bay until Hilda can enlist Moxie's help to FREE JOHO!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Posy Love

I'm in love! I totally heart my Posy Sock Sack from Knitnana. It arrived in the mail today, just in time for me to take it on the trip to Estes Park Wool Market. How's that for perfect timing?

How do I love thee, let me count the ways:

1. Totally cute
2. Backpack-like strap, so you can sling it over your shoulder
3. Stands upright and open by itself, so you can leave your skein of yarn in the bag and knit from it easily
4. Custom made with my selected fabric
5. Excellent workmanship
6. Totally cute (did I say that already?)
7. The perfect size for a project bag
8. Button closure to help keep things neatly inside
9. Knitnana was wonderful to work with on the design

You want to take a peek inside, don't you? Of course you do. Nice little pockets to hold your needles, pens, cell phone, and so forth. It would be great as a nice little purse, too. Maybe I need more than one...

Want your own? It's not listed on the website yet, but you order one through the Nana Sadie Rose Special Order page.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Computers and Wine Don't Mix

Did you try to make a cocktail with your laptop and wine? Just for Carrie - or for anyone else who finds themselves in a similar fix:

The wrong way to fix your wine-soaked laptop.

The right way to fix your wine-soaked laptop.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Beautiful Day in the Mountains

The weather was fabulous this weekend. Bright, sunny, and very clear. Larry and I met up with Margene and Smith for a delicious breakfast at Silver Fork Lodge, followed by a walk around Silver Lake. (See more fab photos on Margene's post.) It couldn't have been better weather for it - warm sun and slightly cool breeze. Smith even lent me a hat - next time I'll remember to take my own.

Hummingbird at Silver ForkLodgeMy Huevos Rancheros tasted even better when accompanied by friends, beautiful views, and cute little hummingbirds. Only two were out and about, though.

Silver LakeSilver Lake was gorgeous as always. Only a very small bit of snow could be seen in a few spots (other than the mountaintops of course), and a few kids were taking advantage of the opportunity to play in a bit of snow while watching the beavers in the lake.

Hunting the Electric JaywalkerWe kept our eyes out for moose, but didn't see any this trip. On the other hand, Margene was able to stalk and photograph the elusive Electric Jaywalker, so our search for wildlife didn't go unrewarded.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Valpuri Finished

I finished the Valpuri top this weekend. I had a bit of a struggle figuring out how to deal with the cables at the shoulders on the front and back, so I just sort of faked it. I got smarter for the sleeves, and charted out the pattern and decreases, so I could figure out what to do with the cables when I started decreasing into them. If I made this top again, I'd certainly do the same with the front and back.

Overall, I'm pleased with the result. It fits well, and it was an interesting knit. Not too difficult, but not too simple, either. There was enough going on to keep my interest, without getting either bored or frustrated. I thought it would go more quickly than it did, but the cables slowed me down quite a bit.

I used Rowan All Seasons Cotton, which knitted up to the correct pattern gauge. The top is probably a bit too bulky to want to wear in really hot weather, but it should be nice in spring and fall.

Pattern: Berroco Valpuri (free pattern)

Size: X-Small.

Modifications: Used Rowan "All-Seasons Cotton", 7 skeins. I purchased 8 skeins as recommended in the pattern, but the Rowan has slightly more yardage, and I just squeaked by with 7. If I'd only had 7 skeins of the recommended yarn, I'd have been sweating bullets.

Started: April 16, 2007
Finished: June 10, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Buy Shoes

I got my newest DSW Rewards $10 coupon in the mail today.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mystery Food Contest

What are these, besides being part of my lunch today? Hint - I picked them in my yard yesterday. A box of Tazo "Zen" tea to the first person to leave a comment with the correct answer.

Update: Nicole was the first to guess correctly. Saskatoon Berries, or Serviceberries (Amelanchier).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Trick Pony

I took Susan's "Create Your Own Sock" class because although I've only made a few pairs of socks, I wanted to try new techniques, and not just be a "one trick pony".

The lace design I selected for the sock pattern was "Horseshoe Print" from "The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches", adapted for knitting in the round. Between the lace pattern and my reason for creating the sock pattern, what else could I name them, but...

"Trick Pony Socks"

Spunky Eclectic Super Nova (90% Superwash Merino, 10% nylon), 1 hank, colorway "Road Trip"

Needles: US 1 for the leg, US 1.5 for the heel and foot

New Tricks:
  • Casting on in rib
  • "Eye of Partridge" heel flap
  • Star Toe

The Super Nova yarn is very nice, and I was really pleased with how the handpainted yarn worked out with the lace pattern. My plan was to choose something that would break up the stripes a bit, and it did. I used a rib pattern for the cuff to give the appearance of the rib flowing into the lace design. I'd only done wedge toes before, and I really liked the star toe much better. Not because I don't have to graft the toe - I don't have any trouble with the Kitchener stitch - but the shape of the wedge toe just doesn't fit my toes as well as this one does.

The recommended needle size for the yarn was US2, but since I knit loosely, I had to use smaller needles. I started with US 1 only because I didn't have 1.5's. They worked well for the leg, but I could tell it would be too tight for the foot, so I bought some 1.5's and switched to them at the heel flap. I think working the entire sock on 1.5's would have been fine, but the legs aren't too tight.

34 Degree Drop?

Check out our weather report for today and tomorrow. Sheesh. Well, we need the rain.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Icarus Unleashed

Here she is, in all her glory. Or should that be "him"? There are a few irregularities here and there, but nothing I can't live with. I'm very happy with it, and I love how it drapes. Although it took me months to complete, there were long stretches when I didn't work on it at all. The pattern was well-written and easy to follow, even though I'm fairly new to lace.

And how much yarn was left? Well, not tons, but enough to feel comfortable recommending this yarn for the pattern. I ended up with about 4 grams left out of the 100-gram skein. I wasn't exactly panicking, but I must admit I was getting slightly nervous about it during the last few rows, since I'm not good about estimating how much is left. I'm a loose knitter and usually go down one needle size, but I stuck with the recommended needle size for this pattern - so anyone who knits closer to gauge shouldn't have any trouble.

The bad part (nothing to do with the pattern!) is that it killed my fingers to knit this. Towards the end, my right thumb and forefinger would be numb before I completed a single row, but the end result was worthwhile. I don't have a problem with small DPNs, or with larger-sized circulars, so it must be something about how I grip the smaller-sized circular needles that causes me so much trouble.

Pattern: "Icarus", by Miriam Felton
Yarn: Alpaca With a Twist "Fino" (70% baby alpaca, 30% silk), in "Ruby Slippers"
Needles: US 3
Modifications: None other than the yarn
Started: Nov 14, 2006
Finished: June 3, 2007

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Name That Lace

Yes, it's true! Icaraus is finally, finally off the needles and blocking. I haven't ever blocked a triangular shawl before, so I don't know how great a job I'm doing, but I think it will be OK. Whew - I can't tell you how good it feels to finally have this project done. I'm excited to see how it looks when it's dry.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Cooking Retreat

And now for a pictorial tour of the Conscious Gourmet cooking retreat which was held at Menla Mountain Retreat in Phoenicia NY (in the Catskills), about 20 minutes away from Woodstock. On one of the evenings we went to the Bear Cafe just outside of Woodstock. It was a wonderful restaurant, I'd highly recommend it. I had pan roasted chicken with garlic mashed potatoes, and it was incredible. And we even got to eat with Uma Thurman. Well, almost. She was two tables away, and looking incredibly beautiful. I think she looks much younger and prettier in real life. As it turns out, her father was one of the co-founders of Menla Mountain.

Our meals were organic, vegetarian (except for halibut in one meal), wheat-free, and except for a bit of butter in a couple of recipes, dairy-free. And no white sugar. We used a lot of ingredients I'd never heard of, but am anxious to try at home. Everything was delicious. And besides the food, we learned some great tips, and learned more about natural, whole, sustainable foods. It was a lot of fun, and I'd certainly do one again.

This is the Snowlion house at Menla Mountain, where we lived and cooked for the weekend. There are three bedrooms and a bath upstairs, and the same downstairs. There was a separate building where we had our yoga classes in the morning, which was full of windows for a beautiful view.

Cooking halibut.

This is our "staging area", with the kitchen in the background. It did get a little crowded at times, but it was surprising how well we all worked together without getting in each others way.

We made a delicious chocolate cake with fudge frosting that had no wheat, no eggs, no white sugar, and no dairy - believe it or not. We used spelt flour, cocoa powder, and maple syrup as the sweetener. We served it with a raspberry coulis, and it was delicious. That's my sis on the left in the photo.

This was our brunch on our last day. Clockwise from top: Spinach mushroom tofu quiche (you'd never know it had no eggs or dairy!); whole-grain pancakes made with spelt flour and soy milk, topped with almond butter maple syrup; wonderful muffins with carrots, apples, raisins, and nuts (and either barley or spelt flour, I'm not sure which was used); sweet potato mash; and cucumber and tomato salad with dill vinaigrette.

Our group. There were only six students plus the teacher and a student/assistant. They may say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but fortunately, we worked well together in the kitchen. It was a bit challenging to coordinate use of the burners on the stove at times, but we worked it out and had a great time.

The weekend wasn't all about cooking. We did spend an afternoon in Woodstock, where a band was playing in the town square.