Friday, April 24, 2009

Sock Madness 3 - Tokena

Meet the lovely socks that took me out of the competition.

The pattern is called Tokena(Ravelry link) and were designed by Tricia Weatherston.

As you can see, the pattern is stranded colorwork, with solid color sections at the cuff, heel, and toe. They were designed to have a heel flap/gusset heel, and, as per the Sock Madness rules, I started out knitting them that way.

Every time I looked at the socks, I couldn't help but think "What a beautiful pattern!"

And then I'd get to the heel.

Okay, I admit it. I'm not a huge fan of heel flap/gusset construction. Now I realize that it can be an important part of the design, but it's not my favorite, and I avoid it when I can. It was at this point that I decided that I had to change the heel to my favorite method - short row heels. Yes, that meant I was out of the competition, but I prefer the look of short row heels, and life is just too short to spend it knitting something you don't love.

And I do love these socks!
The inside is just as beautiful as the outside.

And they are so comfortable.

The pattern isn't yet available, but when it is, I would encourage everyone to make a pair. They are fantastic.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring in the Desert

So many people seem to have this picture in their minds of the desert as a burning wasteland, with, maybe, an occasional cactus. Perhaps there is a desert somewhere that fits that stereotype, but here in the Sonoran desert, there is so much more. Especially in spring.

There is Texas Sage with its pretty purple flowers

Ruellia "Katie" has lovely purple blooms as well

Palo Verde trees, with their yellow blooms and green trunks

*Rant 1: Though not in this picture, there are lamps that line the sidewalk you see in the above picture. They help to provide safe usage of the area regardless of the time of use. Parents, before you turn your children (or yourselves!) loose with a BB gun, make sure you let them know that lights such as this are not for target practice. The loss of light, as well as the broken glass debris create a safety hazard where none need be. And lest you think I'm randomly singling out BB gun owners, the perpetrators left little copper BBs in the debris. /rant

Red yucca (and some seemingly indestructible weeds)

Fairy dusters that are always in bloom

Ocotillo, with their bright orange blooms and sharp spines

Bougainvillea's beautiful pink "blooms" (they're not true flowers)

Oleander, too.

Anything but barren, don't you think?

And finally a gratuitous shot of my walking and photo shoot companion, Gypsy.

*Rant 2: If you're going to bring your dog with you on walks, be responsible and PICK UP AFTER THEM! Nobody else wants the presents they leave behind. /rant

Secret of the Stole, Estes Park

Last August, I participated in the Secret of the Stole mystery KAL.

Last October I finished all of the knitting on the project.

Well, I've finially completed all of the finishing details. The stole is now blocked with the ends woven in. (And repaired because I had dropped a stitch.)
So I give you: Estes Park, the stole.

I know it is difficult to tell in the picture, but this is one l-o-n-g stole! It is approx. 70" long by about 20" wide, beaded, and just lovely. I can't wait to do the next one, but I don't think I'll wait as long to do the finishing details next time. At least, I hope I won't.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What's for Dinner

I have been doing a lot of cooking lately. Today was no exception. I had a burning desire for potato soup, and it was VERY good. (Even if I do say so myself. Although Scott and Jordan agreed. ;) )

Potato Soup

For the soup:
2 large stalks celery, finely diced
1 med. to lrg. onion, finely diced
2 T. butter
3 lbs. russet potatoes, cubed
4 C. chicken stock
2 C. milk
1 T. salt
1 1/2 t. black pepper
1 1/2 T. parsley
3 T. cornstarch + 1/4 C. water
For the garnish:
green onion including the green tops, finely sliced
bacon, cooked and crumbled
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer extra sharp for this)

How it's done:
In a large pot, saute the celery and onions in the butter till softened; do not brown. Add in potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are soft. Add milk, salt, black pepper, and parsley, and cook just until the soup starts to bubble. Mix cornstarch with water and add to soup. Cook, stirring constantly until soup starts to thicken. Spoon into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of cheese, onion, and bacon, and serve.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Reid Park Zoo

Another day, another field trip. This time we went to Reid Park Zoo. This small, yet lovely zoo is located in a park in downtown Tucson
Jordan enjoyed the get wet area.

And I loved seeing the wild life.

I'd never seen an albino peacock before.

This is a zoo that is well worth seeing. It is very small in size, but contains wildlife from 3 continents: Asia, Africa, and South America. It also has an "Adaptation Zone" which contains, among other things, a beautiful polar bear. You can get through the entire thing in just a couple of hours, or you can go more slowly and make a day of it. The giraffe feeding area, wildlife shows, and even a little train make it a fun, interactive experience. It's definitely a place I would visit again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Empty Tomb Shelf

But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the plce where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:5-6

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sock Madness 3 - Tropical Mer-tini

Jenny was at it again, this time talking me into joining Sock Madness.

The pattern for this is "Tropical Mer-tini" and included a recipe for the drink. I skipped the drink, but did make the socks.
This pattern used a Twisted German Cast-On which I had never done before. I LOVE this cast-on! I do believe that it will be my standard for socks, mittens, and gloves from now on.

Another new-to-me technique was the afterthought heel. Now I'm not sure, but it seems to me that a heel that is planned and worked on purpose hardly qualifies as an afterthought*. I didn't particularly like this technique, but it's always good to expand one's knitting skills.

The pattern doesn't show well, what with all those colors, but they are VERY comfortable socks.
Knit with Plymouth Yarns Sockotta Sock Yarn in colorway 30 (very descriptive colorway name, no?) on size 1 (2.5 mm) dpns.

* After writing the above I was searching the web for links and discovered that the Yarn Harlot had posted about this as well. She, however, was able to explain a proper use for this. I bow to the wisdom of both her and legend Elizabeth Zimmerman, and humbly apologize to Ms. Zimmerman for doubting the usefulness of this technique.

Fanboy Socks

My son is a HUGE fan of Formula 1 racing, so when he saw that I had sock yarn in red and white -- the colors of his favorite team and driver, he asked me to make him some socks that showed off his love. Well, more than a year later, enter the Fanboy Socks.

The writing on the cuff reads "Kimi Raikkonen", who is Jordan's favorite driver. The cuff was knitted long, then folded over and seamed to keep the strands from being exposed and able to catch on a toe.

He said that he likes them a lot.
And I think I do, too. :)

Knit out of Knit Picks Essentials in Bare and Burgundy on size 1 (2.5 mm) dpns.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Goldfield Ghost Town

On March 17 our home school group went on a field trip to Goldfield Ghost Town.
Goldfield was the largest and most productive gold mine in Arizona until they dug too deeply tapping an aquifer and flooding the mine. There is still gold mining going on there, but it is not nearly as productive as it once was.

We started our day with a ride around the town and mining area on a little train.

The trip takes a loop that goes past both the active and inactive mines and around the town which looks likes a Victorian mining town -- all wooden buildings with gingerbread trim, dirt roads, water storage towers, and boardwalks, with a church at the highest point at the end of town, just a couple of doors down from the bordello.

We then had the opportunity to do some gold panning.
Each pan was guaranteed to contain gold, iron pyrite (fools gold), and garnets. And the best part was that you got to keep what you found. Between the two of us, we managed a pretty respectable haul, mostly of garnets.

We wrapped up the day by taking a tour of a mine. Much of it was just replica (remember - the real mine flooded!), but it was fun and interesting just the same. Our tour guide was, of course
dressed in character, and shared the history of mining and some really bad jokes with us.

This was one of the funnest field trips we have ever been on, and if you ever get the chance to visit, it's worth the time. Be warned though, it IS a tourist trap, so come prepared!