Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Felted Bags

Yesterday Biker Chick (she doesn't want me to refer to her as "youngest child" on this blog anymore) and I took three purses we knitted to the laundry to felt them. In case you are not familiar with felting, all it really means is taking something made from wool, and shrinking it by means of heat and moisture, like using the washing machine. You yourself may have felted something accidentally when you washed your favorite sweater in the washing machine only to take it out and find it doll-sized.

Now why would anyone purposely shrink something? Because the resulting fabric is much stronger and warmer. During the felting process, fibers mat together and create a smooth surface.

So when did people start felting wool? I'm sure it all began by accident when our wool sweaters started smelling quite awful and the laundress tried to remedy the situation on wash day with a pot of boiling water and a stick. People were already felting on purpose in the 12th century, and Ken Follett describes this process in his historical fiction book Pillars of the Earth. Creating yards of felted fabric, or boiled wool, was a hellish process for the medieval characters. Someone had to beat the fabric with a stick while the fabric was covered in boiling water.
Here's one of the purses before it was felted. Notice that while it is attractive, it's quite floppy and probably would not last long as a purse:

Here's a close up of the strap after felting. Notice how the stitches have "blurred" together:

And here's a look at the finished bag:
This is the second bag before felting:

This bag, which was made of sheep's wool and mohair, shrunk up considerably more than my other bag, which was all wool. During the drying process, I shaped it somewhat like an acorn, which I thought was fitting for the fall colors. Here's a side view:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Let's have a Picnik!

I'm always looking for new things to do with photos, without spending money on outrageously expensive software I may not even use.  With this in mind,  one of my kids suggested I go and have a Picnik. So I took one of my best buddies, Sparky, and headed on over to this awesome photo site.  We sure had fun playing around. While Picnik seems to have dozens of cool editing features to fix most any photo problem, I concentrated on Picnik's extra features I don't already have in my iPhoto program.  

Let's see what Sparky looked like when we started:
This special effect is called Lomo-ish, and blurs the edges.  Sounds pretty simple, but I'm quite pleased with the results.  Brings out Spark's angel-nature, don't you think?  
Here's what Sparky looks like through night vision: 

Heat seeking:  
Sparky and I used the Doodle feature here, for when Spark is feeling silly:  

I'm loving the way Sparky looks here with the posterize effect:  
Signing up with Picnik is free.  There are premium features available for $24.95 per year, but I haven't had a chance to see what those are. For now, I'm going to stick with the free account.  

Creepy Crawlies

I love driving from Boulder to Estes Park, which takes about an hour.  The small town of Lyons marks the half-way point, and I've always wanted to stop and take a peek in the charming shops on Main Street, but I'm always in too much of a hurry.  Last month I finally made the time to stop, and look at what I found in the quilt store:  

Rather than get out the can of Raid, I decided to turn these guys into something cute for youngest child.  We even found a darling neon green friend to sit upon the bow:    

Monday, July 14, 2008

Scottish Things; Part II: What's For Dinner?

You know you're in trouble when little dogs begin casting long, ponderous shadows and you've prepared no supper at all:    
On this evening, a beautiful midsummer's eve, I long to leave behind the mundane casserole and create something special, something that nourishes both stomach and soul.  Hmmm... I decide on something from the happy food group--homemade Oreo cookie ice cream:

That problem now solved, the only question remaining is: red or white wine? Oh, amber of course.  I'm going all out and having a dram of something extra-special.

And what makes this product of Scotland worthy?  According to William Black, " I hef been in Isla more as three times or two times myself, and I hef been close to the Lagavulin Distillery, and I know that it is the clear water of the spring that will make the Lagavulin whisky just as fine as new milk."  

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Scottish Things; Part I: Scotch Thistle

Isn't this lovely?

No, it isn't. This is the vile Scotch thistle, also referred to as a noxious weed in my county in Colorado. This plant, a member of the sunflower family, can grow to a whopping twelve feet, and is covered in spikes. We are admonished to rid our properties of this invader from Europe and Eastern Asia, lest it take over completely. One plant can produce 20,000-40,000 seeds.

This made me wonder how on earth this very same plant was adopted as the revered emblem of Scotland. Legend has it that marauders from Norway decided to invade the shores of fair Scotland one dark eve, and took off their boots in order to remain completely quiet. One of the Norsemen stepped upon the thorny plant and shrieked out in pain, alerting the Clansmen of the advance. And of course, the Scots won the day.

Thistle in dusk:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fun With Photos

Wow-Wee! We sure had fun taking these pics. Nope; no special software used. Tequila, maybe? Not a chance; not with children and ratties around--at least not while they're awake.


Middle Child:  
Youngest Child:  
Child of Billy Idol (post for another day):  


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

I'd like to take a moment to wish all my dear friends in Canada a Happy Canada Day!
Wish I would have remembered on my own, but my friend, Annapurna, reminded me with her blog post today.  She made the most beautiful Happy Canada Card that I'd like to share with you. Gorgeous, Eh?