Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where's Waldo?

If you're not keeping your eyes open here in Colorado, you're going to miss out. Yesterday afternoon we were heading west on I70 to Vail, and I was determined I was not going to miss out. I was watching the mountains closely and here's what I saw:
Just mountain, scrub, and boulders, right? No.

I looked closer and found my prizes, a herd of big horn sheep:

You don't get to see these guys often, since they blend right in with their boulder-colored bodies and snow-colored butts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For Deniz: A No-Sewing Knit Garment

Deniz and I are both writers and knitters. We've been chatting back and forth about the sorts of projects we like to knit. And I discovered that she and I DO NOT like sewing stuff together after it's been knit, as in, sewing the front to the back and/or sewing in sleeves.

May I suggest this gorgeous vest? The pattern, called the Raveneli, (scroll down mid-page) can either be made into a vest or a jacket. This vest was created for one of my daughters, and required NO SEWING! It's all done in one piece, and it uses big needles as well, which means it works up quickly. I used yarn from Textiles a Mano which I discovered at the Estes Park Wool Festival. Laura Macagno-Shang is the owner and hand dyes the yarns. I've also placed phone orders with Laura, not only because she has gorgeous products, but because she treats her customers so well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monkey Mind

Subtitle: Enjoy the entire sky, please!

I mentioned earlier on this blog that I had a dream come true for me the first weekend in October, when I was lucky enough to get to go to Taos, New Mexico and study writing at a weekend seminar led by Natalie Goldberg. Natalie Goldberg is the author of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, 1986, and ten other books. She has been a practitioner of Zen for over thirty years and teaches seminars in writing as a spiritual practice.

Now before I get any further in describing what I learned, PLEASE remember one thing: There are as many successful methods of writing as there are authors. So I am not saying that this is THE one and only way to write. It may not be for you. But it is for me!

THE IDEA: Natalie teaches an extremely simple writing process. She advocates writing longhand with a fast pen. Buy a cheap spiral notebook so that you give yourself permission to write the worst crap ever. One of her first writing rules, and there are very few, is to keep the hand moving at all times. Within each of us is a creator and an editor, and that by keeping the hand moving, we keep the editor (called Monkey mind) at bay. If you keep your hand moving, something creative will come out of your hand.

Why not use the laptop? Writing on a computer is a completely different physical activity from writing longhand. You will get a different result. Be mindful that if you use a computer for work, handwriting will signal to the brain that you are involved in a different activity.

Monkey Mind: Monkey mind is the name of our internal editor, that voice that tells you how stupid you are, how you can’t write, how what you write is garbage, etc. Monkey mind robs you. Monkey mind is always commenting, and we shouldn’t care or listen. Monkey mind lives within every artist, not just writers.

Natalie gave an excellent example of how Monkey mind works: You are out enjoying a beautiful day and you get a tall ladder and a marker. You climb up the ladder, and place a mark on the sky. Then you observe and obsess over the microscopic mark (Monkey Mind) and cannot even see the rest of the sky, much less enjoy it. You are blind towards anything else, towards the entire rest of the sky. All else is called Wild Mind. By the way, when you are writing a book, the closer you get to the end, the more Monkey mind screams.

Wild mind is where we want to write from, because this is where we all really think. We engage in discursive thinking; below it is Wild mind. It is our job as writers to connect to Wild mind and then get out of the way. When you meet Wild mind and write from that place, others connect to your writing. Monkey mind, the dot on the sky, that’s where we focus, whereas the whole sky, Wild mind, is where we should focus.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eins Swine, Wish He Were Mine

Meet Tetley the tea cup pig, featured in this article. Isn't he a doll? Various family members who shall remain unnamed (Biker Chick) want me to get one of these darling creatures. So just for grins, I did look here for more details. These animals are so popular that this breeder can only put your name on a waiting list. It's a great site, giving plenty of information about pig ownership.

One of the disadvantages of owning a pig is that they become "spoiled and manipulative." Eke! That would be dreadful. I wonder what that would be like? Dear Spark and I don't want to know.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

TuTu Tuesday

Subtitle: My Mouth Gets Me in Trouble Again

First off, I know it isn't Tuesday, but I like that title so you're stuck with it. The moral of this story is control your outrage and your mouth, or else it's off to the sewing machine for you.

During the summer months, I was at the shopping mall with Biker Chick. Now, I'm not a shopper, while Biker Chick is quite the trend setter. We stopped at one of her favorite stores, where she admired the tutus. I looked at the garment and expressed my outrage at the price, the lack of a lining, and at the poor quality of the scratchy tulle. (You know what's coming next!) "I could make a tutu much cheaper and much nicer than that!"

To which Biker Chick replied, "Oh Mumsy, would you?" I saw that lovely smile and I was trapped like a fly in a web. So off to the fabric store I went to purchase tulle, lining, and gross grain ribbon. I could not find a pattern, so I winged it by cutting strips and sewing them together. I also purchased flowers to go on top of the ruffling.

This first tutu was created for elder teen daughter in her favorite colors of lime green and purple:

And this tutu was made for Biker Chick:

The girls love their skirts so it was all worthwhile, but next time I will keep my mouth shut at the mall.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Another Pair

I loved everything about making these socks:

I'd been admiring this yarn from the moment I first saw it at Morehouse Farms; so when I saw they were having a sale, I jumped like a ewe and bought some in Indian Summer. Morehouse Farms is located in the Hudson River Valley in New York, where they raise their own Merino Sheep. Merino sheep are said to produce the finest sheep wool around, quite soft and durable.

Most hand-knit socks are made on small needles (size 2), but I made these on a bigger needle, (size 4), which means they made up much quicker. You can see the cabling much better on the back sock in the photo below. These socks are thick, which means they're suitable for cold winter days, unless you are biker chick, who likes to wear them anytime with hot pink high heels:

I used a chocolate brown merino wool for the toes to mix things up:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Nothing like snowy weather to make me get back to making socks, one of my favorite things to knit. Knitters have extreme feelings about the humble sock--it's either your thing or it isn't. One of the reasons I love creating socks is because they are so portable. I like the idea of slipping the needles and a small ball of yarn into my handbag or coat pocket and working a couple of rows while waiting for the next important thing to happen (translation=waiting for one of my children.)

I also love making socks because I actually get them finished. Because I sometimes get overwhelmed, I don't enjoy making big projects, like sweaters.

People who don't enjoy making them say that they do not like making things that wear out as fast as a sock does, or things that require hand-washing. I hand wash socks I make because I want them to last longer.

Socks are made "in the round," meaning that they are created on three or four double-pointed needles so that they have no seam. (Circular needles also create items "in the round" but are not used for socks.)

Here's a pair of socks I made last fall. Because this yarn was self-stripping, I chose to make the socks completely plain and let the stripping set the style. This photo shows the top of the sock, which I chose to rib:
Here's the finished product:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What do you mean it's over?

Mo says: Halloween CANNOT be over!

Mo checks the window to see if there are any more trick-or-treaters:

An angry monster tells Mo to be quiet and go back to sleep: