Friday, December 29, 2006

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

It's snowing again today in Rio Rancho! Sam & I have been making snowmen. Amazing considering yesterday we had only a couple of remnants of melting ice left in shadowy areas.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and here's Best Wishes to a Happy New Year!

Storm #4 for those keeping track.)

New Blog: Wish Lists & Gift Guides

I've created a new blog (deleted) specifically as a wish list. This is open to anyone who wants to join. Sam and I have already posted - Sam is a little less discerning than I. If you'd like to join, just email me at and I will set up up with a profile. You will be able to post your own wish list. No one else can edit your post, with the exception of the moderator (me).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

3rd Storm of Season - Is this ME or NM?

The Winter Weather Advisory became a Winter Storm Warning with accumulation estimates of 3-10" in our area. We saw early showers that accumulated then melted away. At about noon, the serious stuff started and this picture, taken about 2pm shows us well on our way to the first 3".

I expect to see about 6" considering the snow fall that continues, and the weather band we see on the doppler.

It looks so much like Maine. Funny, I thought moving here was going to stop me from having to shovel.
I'm late in sending out presents this year. Some of my family will receive gifts after the holiday. There's just no helping it. Some things were late in getting finished, others were late in arriving here. Now the Post Office is giving no guarentees on delivery, and honestly, my local Post Office is so messed up, it's a wonder anything gets where it's supposed to. Most Monday's we don't get delivery until after 6pm.

Our local paper would make you laugh. They suggested we start a letter writing campaign to the Post Office General to express the delivery and lost mail problems with our local office.

Seems kinda like we could call him and tell him we'd done this letter writing campaign (without actually doing any writing) and make a stronger point. Either way, he wouldn't get the letters.

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night..."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lessons Learned During the Holiday Season

  1. Cheap wrapping paper is cheap for a reason.
  2. Never buy wrapping paper with straight stripes - no matter how square your present, the stripes will always make it look like the dog wrapped it.
  3. Setting aside small objects for that special project opens a vortex otherwise only visited by odd socks.
  4. Organizing your crafts is a great way to halt creativity - you are inspired by the clean space to dig into new projects... but you can't find anything.
  5. Gravity can be controlled - at least by the post office or anyplace that offers shipping by weight.
  6. Although he has more time than you, don't let the dog do the wrapping.
  7. Even if you can see your Christmas tree from space, it still won't have enough decorations for your 5-year-old.
  8. "Well begun is half done" may be a lasting status.
  9. Collect boxes year round. You may not think that odd shaped box will ever fit another item, until you need it.
  10. Always buy gift bags. (see 9 above)

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Making Ornaments with Sam

On Wednesdays, Sam has a short day at school, so when Sam got home today, we started to make Christmas ornaments. My favorite project is clothespin reindeer.

This is a fun project I remember doing in school when I was just a little older than Sam.

For each reindeer, you need 4 clothespins. You saw the legs off one pin.

Monday night, I had Sam paint clothespins brown, and we left them to dry.

Of course, they got painted a little too heavily and they stuck to the newspaper. We didn't have time to work on them Tuesday night.

Today, we pulled them off the newspaper and touched up the paint. Then we glued the pins together.

Once the pins were glued together, we glued on googly-eyes. The googly-eyes take extra patience because they are so small.

Finally we glued red pompoms on for noses.

Sam liked the idea that they all got to "pretend" to be Rudolph.

I love the googly-eyes.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Latest Beading: Ice Princess Beaded Choker

I just finished this piece and posted it for sale on Etsy. (Click on the picture for an enlarged view.) I thought you'd enjoy seeing a beaded piece for once... it's been a while since I completed a beaded project; I've been so enthralled with knitting.

I recently discovered some new polymer clay techniques, and I've learned some new design tricks, so I'm planning a new set of focal beads which may be sold individually or incorporated into new works.

I also hope to find some time to do some more lampwork (glass bead making) but I think I'd better reduce the doggie population in the house before I go firing up the gas torch. (Nothing like the smell of burning dog fur to ruin your day!)

Too Many Puppies!

Chris is out of town working this week, so John and I are taking care of his house and his two dogs, which means we've got FOUR dogs in the house all week long. (Thank God for a fenced in yard!)

From time to time it still gets a little nuts. Imagine having four dogs chasing and playing and running full-boar from room to room.

I decided to try and get a group picture last night. Even with treats, getting them all to sit still was a project. John and I were ambitious - we even tried to get them to sit in some kind of order. This is the best we could do.

Role Call: (counter clockwise from left) Morgan (Great Dane), Bitsy (Jack Russel Terrier), Chica (Pure American Mutt / Terrier cross), and Stinky (German Shorthaired Pointer).

Monday, December 4, 2006

Vintage Style Keyhole Scarf Pattern

This pattern is perfect for both kids and adults, as it prevents having to tie knots and long ends that can get stuck on ski lifts or trees when sledding. Put this on under your jacket and you have both warmth and safety.

I found this at:
All patterns and images © Alison Hanseland are shared here for individual personal use only.


Measurements:approx. 8" wide and 26" long (note: ribbing will usually cinch in making the scarf skinnier)

Instructions:Cast on 38 st. (26 stitches with bulky yarn).

Row 1: Work in 2x2 ribbing across the row, starting with K2 and ending with K2.

Row 2: Continue ribbing by working stitches as they appear, beginning with P2 and ending with P2.

Repeat the last two rows for 22".

Make opening: Work ribbing for first 12 stitches, bind off 14 stitches, continue ribbing over remaining 12 stitches (with bulky yarn, work ribbing for 8 stitches, bind off 10, continue ribbing over remaining 8 stitches).

Next row: Work ribbing for first 12 stitches, cast on 14 new stitches over the gap, join to stitches on other side of the gap and continue ribbing (with bulky yarn, work ribbing for 8 stitches, cast on 10 new stitches over the gap, join to stitches on other side of the gap and continue ribbing).

Continue working in rib across all stitches for 4 more inches.

Bind off stitches in rib (if the stitch is a knit stitch, knit it; if it's a purl stitch, purl it; pull stitches over one other as usual).

Weave in ends.

Wrap around neck, push one end through hole on other end and see how stylish warm can be!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Second Snow - The Chill Continues!

Evenings as low as 17 degrees, and days with highs from 25 to 47 degrees! It's cold in New Mexico. We got out second snow, the day after the first, and this one was even worse.

Chica was kind enough to pose for a quick picture to show off the snowfall we got. Sam actually had a 2-hour delay for THIS! Can you believe it? But honestly, the roads were a little slick.

Needless to say, we had the wood stove going in the evenings. Fortunately, we get tons of sun exposure that warms the house up incredibly during the day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

First Snow 2006

John woke me at 4:30 this morning and said we'd gotten some snow over the night, but it was gone and it was just wet out.

I'm guessing it wasn't done snowing, or it was still too dark to really see, because when I let the dogs out at 7:00 we still had snow.

I snapped a couple quick photos simply as proof that New Mexico really does get snow. It's rare, but beautiful all the same.

There were no cancellations or delays locally, however, immediately north of us got hit a whole lot harder (3-5") and many schools are closed.

In my day - you didn't miss school unless it was frozen solid, or snow was over 6" deep. But if you could see how people drive in perfect dry clear conditions out here, you'd understand why.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Congratulations John!

Extra special congratulations to John who signed on his first home today.

After a few last minute changes, and a little scrambling to get all the right information in the right places, John has officially bought the house.

We celebrated by taking a ride on the dual sport out into the desert and watching the sun set against the Sandia Mountains.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Backyard View

This incredible picture is a view from our backyard looking toward the Sandia Mountains. (If you look close, you can see a telephone pole.)

I took this picture one evening right around mid-October. This is just after the sun set far enough that the mountains were no longer illuminated.

I love the view we have. It is different every day. The mountains never look the same twice. It was this mountain I first fell in love with back when we visited in June 2004.

And I am very blessed to announce that John is officially buying this house. He will be closing before month end. We have many years of enjoying this view ahead.

Sunday, November 19, 2006 - Version 2 Now Up

Etsy has just upgraded their website, improving store function, shopping carts, imaging and more. There are some really creative and wonderful products here. Be sure to check out my favorites when you visit - I've bookmarked some of my favorite sellers and products from soap to just plain bizarre!

New in my store:

Elfish Stocking Cap - 39" LONG!!!

The colors are simply wild - not your traditional Christmas red & green!

Hooded Child's Poncho

I saw this pattern and wished I'd had it for Sam when he was smaller. Real easy on/off without having to wiggle little arms down tight sleeves.

I've already thought up a million variations for this one that I can't wait to try.

Knitting can be one of the most relaxing, yet productive activities. I love knitting in front of the TV on Sunday evenings. John and I watch our favorite shows and I produce fun items like this, with very little effort.

Blogs & Comments

I've had some feedback lately from a couple of different people that told me they were uncomfortable leaving comments online on mine or anyone's blog.

I agree with this discomfort. I don't like leaving comments on my friends' blogs either.

Sometimes there are things you would like to say privately, that you wouldn't say in a roomful of strangers. Online, anyone can see this page.

So, I'm making a change. All comments posted to my blog will be kept PRIVATE, and not published. Only I will see them. They cannot even accidentally be published.

Feel free to type what you will in response to any of my blogs, and know only I will receive your comments.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Letting Go of the Patterns and Designing My Own

I've done a lot of knitting lately, and therefore, am actually getting not only a lot faster, but definitely braver. Most recently, I made Friendship Scarf (pictured in previous blog) using two alternating colors every stitch with a fairly complicated furry yarn, without a pattern. I also finished a pair of socks for myself - with a pattern to remind me how the process goes.

I joined a newsgroup of sock knitters, and am learning lots of techniques from them and the websites they link to. I've gotten so used to turning the heel, now I look forward to it. I've even made little footy socks for myself simply to have another opportunity to turn heels without working long bodies.

Now I'm making hats without patterns. Once you get the gist of shaping... You can do anything! On the top left is my latest pattern, Peppermint Candy Twist. This was a lot of fun... I just made it up as I went along. I also documented my work so that I can recreate the pattern, and distribute it (maybe even sell it!)

On the bottom right is Snow Lantern. I'm not a huge fan of variegated yarns simply because I'm a control freak and prefer to know exactly what color is going to land where, but I'm learning to "release" and this was a neat project to use variegated yarns on. I took a standard, plain hat, graphed out a snowflake-like design and I think it came out really cute.

John suggested I make another one similar to this but with carousel horses going around the design band. I'm not big on horses, but the colorful challenge the idea presents is growing on me. I'm thinking I'll have to graph out the entire band and follow my chart stitch by stitch. It seems a little daunting, but I've done it before in beads, why would this be any harder?

I've made a scrapbook of all my knitting projects, complete with pictures of the finished product and the pattern for each. Its a fun (and beautiful, if I may say so myself) way for me to keep all my favorite knitting projects in one place, and perhaps a wonderful family heirloom to pass on one day.

If anyone has any homemade knit items on their wish list for Christmas, I'm doing holiday knitting now. Post to this article and let me know. Be sure to tell me if you have any specific colors in mind, material (cotton, wool, acrylic), and I'll need measurements. I wish I had time to make everyone a sweater, but I don't... so contact Santa for anything other than socks, mittens, hats, scarfs, mug cozies and headbands.

We are riding less, burning brush to clean weeds out of the yard, and roasting chilis on the grill. I'm very focused on building up foods in the freezer (chilis, lasagna, whole chickens, etc.) to both save money and to reduce last minute trips to the grocery. John is focused on the paperwork and processes involved in buying the house.

Oh, and one last thing... Yes, it gets cold in New Mexico. We've had a number of nights in the low 30's. Colorado is just to our North and we've already had some of the major snowstorms that buried them drift South to our higher elevation areas. John took a motorcycle ride two weeks ago and encountered a lot of snow.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Babble on Being Caring

Every night I get into bed and babble on for 15 or 20 minutes about whatever crap is in my head... kind of an end of day release before I fall asleep. (Plot exposition... it has to go somewhere.) John patiently listens to me, and more often then not I suspect, lets the noise of my babble float in one ear and out the other until he drifts off.

But last night my babble was more structured than usual. I'd had a difficult start to my day - emotional, disappointing and trying - but had faced it and worked through it, rather than letting it eat me alive all day.

My problem is that I care. I care about everything -- too much even. I want everyone in my life to be happy, healthy, successful, treated well and loved. I don't think that is too much to ask in life... but life is unfair and doesn't work that way. I see these injustices and they frustrate, stress and anger me.

Worse, I see people who deserve these things in life stand there and let themselves get run over by people who simply don't care. PWDC... People Who Don't Care.

I met one yesterday during my afternoon journeys. A young woman working at a craft store wearing a badge that indicated she was the Head of Customer Service. She was cashing out my purchase. A man had come into the store looking for a replacement blade for a rotary cutter. He was obviously new to the store, overwhelmed, lost and really just looking for a direct answer. The replacement blade is a common and simple item, that honestly was also available at the office supply store next door. He'd already gone to one associate, who then had come to the "Head of Customer Service" to try and direct this customer to the product. I watched this woman not only make vague hand gestures and statements, but basically waive the man away. She wasn't familiar with the item but announced that it might be found in one of two departments. Head of Customer Service. This man stood there and had no choice but to let this PWDC run him over and discard him.

I care too much. I intervened and told the man exactly what the item was and where it was located in the store. My reward was the look of relief on his face and his thanks as he strode off to get what he needed.

Outside the store I vented to John about how ridiculous that scene was and how frustrated I was by the "Head of Customer Service", and how this behavior seemed to be a growing trend. I'm simply disgusted by the way people treat each other, and frustrated with mankind in general. I actively try to be a good person and to help others, and with the exception of a rare few around me... well, I'm alone. It seems all too easy for the general population to not care, to absentmindedly say mean and hurtful things or to be dismissive.

Part of me would like to gain a little of that in my life... to reduce my sensitivity, if you will.

Then I'm reminded that caring isn't a bad thing.

So last night, my babble became more a counting of blessings. Not the tangible things like the roof over my head, my dogs snoring happily, or the fuzzy socks protecting John from my frozen feet... but the real blessings - my friends. I'm blessed with many people who actually care about the same things I do - maybe not to the same stressful end that I do - but who genuinely care and are supportive.

I told John I was going to knit a scarf for one of my friends, Janet. I'm awful at staying in touch, and reminding people how much I appreciate them. I found myself missing her and kicking myself for not being better at staying in touch. I guess that's the lesson. It's not enough to behave like you care... you have to communicate it too.

So, I'm knitting that scarf. Janet, thank you for working so hard everyday on your two businesses, your two children, and for being a wonderful, caring and supportive friend to both me and the strangers around you. You are a blessing in my life, and I'm making you a wonderful bright fuzzy scarf to keep you warm in the Maine winters, while reminding you of the bright spring flowers I know you love so much.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Congratulations Ben & Jill

Can you believe they aren't professional models?

This is one of those photos that come with the frame and you actually hesitate to take it out.

Congratulations guys! It looked beautiful.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Literacy Month

October is Literacy Month and today was the Storybook Parade. All of the student were asked to dress up as their favorite storybook characters. When I asked Sam who he wanted to dress up as, he didn't even hesitate - Curious George!

I made Sam's costume out of brown felt. It has a zippered front and a tail, tethered with fishing line to the back collar to keep it up and moving with him.

His mask is a foam monkey face I found at the craft store. I simply cut out the eyes and punched holes for a ribbon to tie it on.

I thought the banana was the crowning touch, but Sam says the tail is the best part. Everyone loved Sam's costume.

This is NOT Sam's Halloween costume. He has already chosen to be the Black Knight, but with 13 days left, that may be subject to change. It's not unusual for Sam to have a couple of costumes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Balloon Fiesta 2006 - "Glow-deo"

Friday night, John, Chris, Sam and I went to Balloon Fiesta Park and saw the Special Shapes Glow-deo. All of the corporate and special shaped balloons go to this event. They fill the balloons enough to make them stand, then as sunset approaches, they gas the balloons, making them glow. It is a great way to get an up-close look at the operations involved in getting one of these filled, as well as to enjoy the construction and creativity of the designs.

Many of the balloon teams have trading cards printed with pictures of their balloons and basic statistics. Kids and adults alike walk around to each balloon with hopes of collecting these cards. We collected cards from 16 different balloons (many either didn't have cards or had run out by the time we got to them. The picture above gives you a very small glimpse of the volumn of people attending. Card competition was HIGH.) We have cards from local Albuquerque companies, as well as cards from Arizona, Utah, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, South Dakota, Ontario, Brazil, and Germany.

I'm trying to come up with a cool way to display the cards. I'd love to put them up on the wall, but of course, you lose view of the reverse side of the card that way. I could put them in a trading card album, but then you only see them once a year. Of course, with the book, Sam can continue to add to the collection year after year. Perhaps I will color photo copy the cards and do both. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

This picture was taken before sunset with the digital camera. Unfortunately the digital camera doesn't fair well after dusk - so this is one of the few good pictures we captured with it. We did however take the regular 35mm with us. As soon as I get the film developed, there will be a lot more photos.

By the way, if you click on any of the photos in my blog, a new window will open up showing you an enlarged view.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Balloon Fiesta 2006 - Mass Ascension

This is my favorite time of year in New Mexico - the balloon fiesta. This picture doesn't even begin to do the mass ascension justice. Often when I describe it to people I say it looks like someone spilled Skittles in the sky.

This years fiesta got off to a rough start. The festival runs from October 6-15, but the opening weekend we had continuous rain with high winds and lightening - not good flying weather. But this morning was a gorgeous clear morning, and this was the view coming home from dropping Sam off at school.

Tomorrow night, John and I are planning on going to the Glow. At twilight the balloons inflate and the pilots gas without ascending. This lights up the inside of the balloon - effectively making it glow. It is a spectacular site, especially from ground level in close proximity. It's also a great opportunity to enjoy all the wonderful Fair Foods - roasted nuts, funnel cakes, burritos and fresh lemonaid.

I should have incredible pictures to post from the Glow.

More information and pictures can be found at

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Knitting Fool

These days, I'm a knitting fool. I'm working hard to rebuild my website design company, but with anything, it takes time. Clients need time to think about who to choose, then they need time to gather their information, then you put up the design, and they need time to review it. Once all the little changes are made, you invoice the client, and they take their time to pay. Therefore, I knit during all these "times" and sell my handicrafts online at to suppliment my income.

I don't consider myself an experienced or accomplished knitter, but it's getting easier, faster, and I'm able to improvise more and more, modifying basic patterns to get new and unique looks and styles.

The pictures I've posted are some of my most recent creations. I think the "knotty jester" is just plain cute, but the watermelon in one of my favorites. It's really nothing more than a simple trick of colors, but the part I like most are the seeds. I created these "seed" buttons out of polymer clay, baked them, glazed them and then tied them onto the hat. It gives it a neat look and it's definitely a unique product.

Sometimes new designs come out of necessity - like my elf hat. The original pattern called for red & white stripes over the total length of the stocking cap, but I quickly discovered that the red yarn I was working with was in short supply, and my backup supply was a different dye-lot (i.e. didn't match). So... I improvised and came out with a cut little tri-color elf hat.

I've got millions more ideas. New ideas pop up seemingly with every stitch. I saw a pattern for a snowman hat - thinking I'll take a shot at that soon. Also found some cute crochet patterns I'd like to try - they work up so much faster than the knit ones.

I've started a blank book with pictures of each piece and the pattern I used to build it. So far its a really cool collection.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sam's First Real Field Trip - McCalls Pumpkin Farm

Tuesday, Sam and I went on the school field trip to McCall Pumpkin Farm in Moriarty, NM. Sam went on his first school bus ride - myself and other chaperones followed the bus on the hour long trek East.

Unfortunately, I've been fighting off some weird cold/bug - been tired, weak and dizzy, but I made it to the trip. I did not, however, take any photos - sorry folks. I had five kids in my group - Sam, Jane, Aidan, Trinity and Lorna. Aidan's mom, Mrs. Whittemore also helped with the group, as did Aidan's grandmother.

Sam and I went on a hayride, picked pumpkins to bring home, ate bag lunches with the rest of our group, visited bunnies, pigs, goats, a bull and a pony, and played in various mazes, dirt piles, horse swings, slides, big tires.

After the group activities, I signed Sam out so he could ride home with me. We stopped at the McCall country store. Sam bought a tracker like the one that pulled the hayride. I picked up some pickled green beans for John - a rare and wonderful treat, and found a rooster for Mom.

Sam insisted we walk past the horses. Once in the car, we made it about 6 miles before I heard snoring. I know one little boy who had a very big day!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Necessity is the Mother of ... Re-Invention?

I made John a pair of socks. It was the first time I ever "turned a heel" that didn't involve an insult or the end of a date. At first, as I struggled along, I thought John was going to have to timeshare one sock between his feet. I figured I'd be so relieved to get a sock-like shape that I wouldn't bother with the second. Fear of having to make a second one that matched the first loomed over me. Actually, once I figured out how to read the pattern, knitting the socks really was quite easy, and the second done in a click!

So I decided I needed a pair of house socks. I went to the store and picked out a brightly colored "fuzzy- snuggy" yarn for my socks. Didn't think for a second there would be any problems with making another pair. WRONG. I bought a "thick" yarn for my socks, where his socks and pattern called for "worsted" weight yarn. Okay. I can handle this. Different gauge is required. I started to do the math to convert the pattern over to handle the yarn I'd purchased. About a half hour later, I had it all figured out, except for the part where I had to cast on and decrease in 1/4 stitches.

There had to be an easier way. There are millions of sock patterns out there. I got on the Internet and found a pattern that used the thicker yarn I had. Next problem - the pattern called for size 13 double pointed needles. I don't own any. And with good reason - you can only get them via special order, through the company that provides the free pattern that needs them. Really. Just try going to your average craft store and find double pointed size 13. I did. Everyone I asked about them either laughed, or looked shocked. Most didn't believe they exist. Sure they exist, if I want to pay $12, plus S&H online and wait a week. NOT ME.

So, Yes Martha Stewart fans, I MADE myself a set of size 13 double pointed needles. I bought a dowel (56 cents!) that was the same size (9mm), cut it, used a pencil sharpener to make points, sanded them with both fine and superfine grits, and polyurethaned them. (See my lovely supplies photo above.)

They are perfect! Now I have my yarn, a pattern, AND my own homemade needles. Talk about doing it yourself! Now I just have to get brave enough to translate yet another sock pattern.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jack-o-Lantern Cap

100% Cotton Handknit Infant/Baby Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Hat/Cap Handknit

I just finished this one last night. I've posted him to as I have had a couple of requests for this style.

I've decided to make all of my Jack-o-Lanterns unique - no two faces will be alike.

To make this one, I used graph paper and colored in a classic face design. His mouth is purposely lop-sided. I love this pattern, there are just so many options!

Ok, here's the basic pattern (This is for the original Fruit Cap design. I have altered it for the Jack-o-Lantern, et. al):

Use Size #7 DPN

Cast on 72 (80, 88) STS and K evenly for 18 (20, 22) rows.

To add Strawberry Seeds:

Row 1: K7 MC, K1 Green. Repeat to end of row

Row 2-4: K MC

Row 5: K3 MC, K1 Green, { K7, K1 Green } Repeat brackets to end, K remaining MC

Row 6-8: K MC

Repeat Rows 1-8 if extra length is needed.

When cap measures 4 1/2" (4 3/4", 5") and there are three solid rows of MC begin leaf pattern.

Top Leaves:

Row 1: K7 MC, K1 Green, repeat

Row 2: K5 MC, K3 Green, repeat

Row 3: K3 MC, K5 Green, repeat

Row 4: K1 MC, K7 Green, repeat

Row 5: K row Green

Row 6: K7 Green, K2TOG, repeat

Row 7: K6 Green, K2TOG, repeat

Row 8: K5 Green, K2TOG, repeat

Row 9: K4 Green, K2TOG, repeat

Row 10: K3 Green, K2TOG, repeat

Row 11: K2 Green, K2TOG, repeat

Row 12: K1 Green, K2TOG, repeat

Row 13: K2TOG, repeat

One ST should remain from each leaf. K these STS for 6 rows. K2TOG around and pull tail to shape stem. Secure tail.

To increase the size of the hat on this pattern, always use multiples of 8 stitches in your cast on. Rows increase by mulitple of 2 and length with multiples of 1/4".

Pattern courtesy of Ann Norling (tm)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ludo says "Smell Bad!" - Sulfur Springs

Couldn't resist... I had to put up a picture of Ludo from Labyrinth. If you've ever seen the movie you know one of his most memorable sayings was "Smell Bad!" as they journeyed through the Land of Stench.

Well, Sunday, we found the Land of Stench. In the Jemez Mountains is an area called Valles Caldera, and located on the southern side of the Caldera (or crater) is a hot spring rich in sulfur. We discovered this while off-road adventuring in the area - following dirt roads - and BoyHowdy did it smell!

Worse, someone lives there, beside the sulfuric acid pool! John and I both wonder how long you have to live in an area that reeks like rotten eggs before you get used to the smell.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Yucky Bug!

Saturday morning I'm on the phone with Chris, fresh out of the shower, working out a schedule for Sam, when all of the sudden I see something moving out of a partially opened drawer on the pedestal of our waterbed. I hollered for John immediately. John came running and I pointed out the centapede. John caught it in this plastic jug.

Needless to say, I made John empty out the drawer and inspect the bed in search of any others. I also had Stinky search around the bed, and have every night since. My skin is still crawling at the thought of it.

And to think, just a week earlier I commented to John about how lucky I'd been not to see any of the freaky creepy crawling things native to NM yet. Speak of the Devil!

For those of you actually fascinated with this bug, he's about 6 or 7 incles long, and covered by an exoskeleton. He has two long tentacles on top of his head, pinchers next to his mouth, and two longer legs at the end of his tail that he can use to grip with.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Labor Day

John and I both had Labor Day off - so we went out for a ride and found some of the most beautiful land. The attached link is to a PDF brochure I found on the internet this morning of the area we were in. It has a map. If you look at the inset map, you can see Albuquerque, with Bernalillo to the north. Rio Rancho (home) is about halfway between the two. From our house to the Ojito (Oh He Toe) Wilderness is less than 30 miles.

Because we were on the motorcycle (on/off road) we had the ability to follow many of the smaller near-washed out dirt roads. Having the GPS was essential. The land goes on and on seemingly forever. It can be easy to get turned around and lose perspective. The sun isn't much help when its right overhead.

The pictures I've posted are all from one stop we made. If I'd taken all the pictures I wanted to, we'd still be out wandering in the desert. This particular area is called Mesa Blanco - or White Lands - after the gypsum rich white sandstone in the area. The sand here is white like Florida beach sand. Its really quite amazing. Less than a mile away the soil is deep rust red. Some areas in the Ojito Wilderness are black sanded - mostly volcanic, others a yellow - due to high sulfur content.

There are many wonderful places to camp and explore. Everywhere you turn there is another path, another adventure. Its not a wonder people get lost out here. You get so excited about seeing what is beyond the next ridge, following the next path, chasing down a view, looking for fossils... I look forward to coming back another time.

Everywhere we went we saw just incredible things - cows and horses grazing, towering rock formations, flood carved trenches and canyons, blooming desert plants, circling hawks and so much more. Although it was hot in the direct sun, the shade was very pleasant. You could almost call it a crisp day. Unfortunately, there was a threat of thunderstorms, so we kept an eye on the skies, and headed home once we saw impending rain storms approaching. In the end, we never got caught in the rain.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Place to Sell Handcrafted Goods

eBay has become entirely too expensive for home crafters to sell their products, but fortunately there is another place now specifically for handcrafted goods with excellent rates. Please take a moment to check out my new store at

My most recent Native American style necklaces, some altered art shadow boxes, and my infant fruit caps are currently listed. I hope to get more items listed soon!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sam's First Day of School - Kindergarten

Today is Sam's first day in kindergarten at Enchanted Hills Elementary School. I am amazed at how quickly 5 years can pass!

Sam is smartly dressed in khaki Van Heusen slacks (size 5 reg) and a red Lee School button up (size 6).

His school has a strict dress code. He is only allowed solid color clothing - no stripes or patterns. Shirts can be blue, green, white, khaki, gray, red or turquoise. Any insignias must be smaller than a 1/2 dollar. Pants can ony be blue, green, white, khaki or gray. Jeans are allowed.

Sam's teachers are Ms. Magee and Mrs. Hunt. There is also a classroom helper, Mrs. Galindo. He is one of 17 students in his class.

Sam will be taking classes in language arts, written language, math, science, and social studies. He will also recieve lessons from the student counselor, librarian, coach, music teacher and art teacher.

Chris and I walked Sam to school this morning after we took pictures. School pictures are horrible... I remember lining up with my siblings to take first day pictures and hating it... now I'm a parent and I understand:

Be serious
Stand up
Stop making faces
Why can't you just stand there normal
Look at me
Put your hands down
Just relax
No, not straight like that
Just stand there

Still, we managed to get a couple of pictures that aren't completely embarrassing.

Sam was excited, to say the least. I think both Chris and I were more nervous than he was. We both managed to forget to bring Sam's lunch money to school.

At first Sam wasn't so sure about kindergarten. When the teacher asked whether he was being picked up or taking a bus, he announced he would be taking a bus. We quickly corrected that and made sure the teacher knew he most likely will never take the bus. Chris's house is behind the school and I live in another district (less than 7 miles away!) Then Sam's other teacher asked him if he brought lunch from home or was he eating school lunch. He announced he brought lunch from home. Again, we corrected this and made sure the teacher knew he most likely would always have school lunch.

So... as a mother, I'm now sure someday Sam will be starving as he rides across town on some bus to a friend's house I don't know.

Friday, August 4, 2006

My Home

Here are a few pictures of the house I live in. It's rented and its WONDERFUL. We really love it here.

The picture on the left is our front door. Many of you may be familiar with my duck. I don't move without him. He's my guardian of sorts. The loveseat was a "front yard find" - about 4 houses down they had it out on the front yard with a free sign. It is sturdy like its new. The only thing wrong with it was some old cushions. I recovered the cushions and voila a shady little spot for John and I to enjoy coffee on the weekends.

The picture on the right is the other side of our entryway. The entryway is really a walled-in garden and patio. My swing is here between the wall and garden. We've had many cups of coffee here as well, but in the morning it gets more sun that you can stand even with the canopy. I like to read here in the late afternoon.

Next is the living room. This shot is looking from the glass doors to the back yard toward the front entryway, almost as though you walked straight in and turned back to the door.

The walls are this wonderful oversized brickwork - we think its this compacted sand brick they make out here.

We have a woodstove which is perfect in the winter - just enough heat to keep the living room and kitchen warmed (sweaty hot if you're not careful!) The floors throughout the house, with the exception of the bedrooms, are all brick. Cleanup is a breeze.

Our kitchen has a pantry closet - you can just barely see it to the right of the cabinets. I like having the stove in the middle of the island, and love having a built-in wine rack. I even have space to have my most used stoneware out on the counter in a rack! It's a great kitchen to entertain from with the dining and living area being so open.

Just off the kitchen is our patio - this is kind of a lousy shot of it, but you can see 1/2 the view we enjoy. The patio itself wraps around the front of the living room. We have the Adirondack chairs, a hammock, grill and cast iron fireplace out here. Both the living room and master bedroom have huge windows looking out over the Sandia mountains. The backyard is about a 1/4 acre and completely fenced in so the dogs have full run.

This is Chica. If you asked her, she is John's dog. In fact, I'm pretty sure her world revolves around him. She's a terrier/mutt mix. Not the smartest dog in the world, but she is loving and sweet. This is a very recent photo of her - normally we shave her down pretty tight, right here she's getting a little scruffy. She's cute either way, but when her hair is long and Morgan (Chris's Great Dane) comes to visit, she gets really dirty - crusty even. I swear I've seen Morgan put her in her mouth, swish her around and spit her out in a glob of slime. Still, she comes out grinning, happy to have a "puppy" friend to play with. Chica is over a year old now, born in April of 2005.

Morgan was born in September of 2006, if I remember right, so she's just coming up on a year. She hasn't a clue how big she is. Morgan is a Blue Merle Great Dane. This picture doesn't show off her coloring very well (that and she's covered in dirt!) She has black spots with an otherwise blue/red purpley coat. It's hard to explain, but indeed beautiful. Morgan has not been docked or had her ears clipped.

Stinky just turned 6! He's still the biggest, stinkiest puppy. In the photo he's carrying his favorite toy - floppy dog. It's basically a plush dog that has no filling - on purpose. He loves that thing. Cuddles with it at night, and does the show off wiggle with it to get attention during the day.

And finally, this is John. Normally he's extremely camera shy. Okay, actually he hates having his photo taken. He'll kill me when he finds out I posted this, but getting a picture of him without a helmet is rare, and a smile even more so. I took this picture during one of our rides. We were north of an area called Tent Rocks. About a half hour after this was taken, we found ourselves on a rutted, washed out dirt "road" in the pouring rain. I love these trips with John. If you think this photo of him is funny, you ought to see me, sitting on back, soaked, muddy, and grinning like I won the lottery.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

"Stella" in Progress

Stella... she came to me one night late. I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep. It was hot, and although I was tired, sometimes sleep just doesn't come. I tried focusing on different things hoping my mind would stop working and start wandering me off to sleep, and then she appeared.

I'm sure at one time or another you've seen the t-shirts with either the incredibly eat-a-sandwich thin tanned bikini body or the larger-than-life muscle bound body builder on them. I remember seeing them often at the beaches in Maine, being used as cover-ups for the otherwise normal to plus-normal sized people with a sense of humor.

And so came Stella. In my vision she is wearing the bikini t-shirt over her otherwise horribly un-tanned and slightly overweight body. (I find the t-shirt image over exaggerates her size to almost obese.) Further, like any smart fair skinned beach goer, she wears a large brimmed hat decorated in the blooms of summer, and a pair of flip-flops.

I thought hard about her, memorizing the details so I could sketch her out after a good nights sleep, but she wouldn't let me. I crawled out of bed, crept through the house. I cut her primary shape out of a regular piece of copy paper, then sketched Stella out in all her glory. I felt great about it, and knew she would be a fun doll to make. Satisfied, I went back to bed.

Funny how cutting out her form and drawing on the details suddenly gave her a voice. I wasn't in bed much more than 20 minutes before I was back up. Stella demanded accessories. Ideas flew through my head. What did she need to go to the beach? A beach bag, towel, binoculars, radio, cell phone, folding beach chair, and umbrella all flew down on paper in wild beach colors. I jotted notes on construction (how does one make an umbrella out of beds in scale with a doll?) for each piece and what beads would work best. My enthusiasm grew. Now I could see her lugging all her beach bound affects. I went back to bed with beach accessories floating through my dreams.

In the morning I went straight to work. I cut out muslin in the shape of the pattern and stitched her together. But the basic pillow shape of Stella just didn't have enough personality or shape to her, so I set out to needle sculpt the little doll. I gave her a belly button, breasts, knees, ankles, and a butt. Each stitch seemed to excavate the true Stella within.

Next I used a pencil to lightly sketch the t-shirt onto the doll body - front and back. This gives me a guide for beading in the clothing. I also put great thought into the direction the stitches needed to go to give her flesh the most realistic look.

I wanted to dig into beading her immediately, but just didn't seem to have the right color bead for her flesh. I was torn between two ideas - either she was going to have an obvious sun burn, or she was going to be very pale (like I usually am!) Pale won out and I found the perfect color at my favorite seed bead store - The Beaded Iris.

Once back at home, I dug in ferociously. I started with her legs. The needle sculpting worked like a dream as a base for the beads, emphasizing the fleshy folds of the back of her knees and thighs.

I jumped to the bikini whenever I tired of the legs, making sure to use the most desirable brown-bronze color for the bikini-girl's body. The fushia pink with lime green pokka-dot bikini seemed the perfect style.

When my time is limited in the evenings, or whenever I don't feel like I'm making progress, I work on the accessories. First was the beach bag - lime green with bright blue stripes, two handles, and a flower clasp. It's a fully working miniature, which at some point I imagine will contain her cell phone.

I found myself modeling her beach towel after a towel I remember having when I was younger - striped colors of the sunset - red, orange, rosy peach and fushia.

I like the idea of using wild colors for each of the accessories, making sure nothing quite matches, much like the pile of junk I used to drag to the beach. It just wouldn't be real if she had matching accessories - it would be too "Barbie", and Stella is soooo not Barbie.

Realizing the 3-dimensioning of the doll vs. my sketch, I realized her own bathing suit will show below the t-shirt. I'm still toying with the style of that. I'm quite sure it will be navy and may even have a ruffle of sorts.

Of course, by now I had repeatedly scrounged through my beads trying to find just the right face for Stella. Nothing. I contacted a favorite polymer clay face beader I had bought from many times before - Linda Clink. I had discovered her on eBay a couple of years back and I truly love her work. Together, via email, she and I found the perfect design for Stella's face. (If you are interested in making dolls or using faces for scrapbooking, I highly recommend looking for "Linsart" at eBay!) She made the face bead for me. It arrived today. I couldn't be happier!

And that is Stella's progress to date. I'm off to bead, but I'll be posting more progress shots as I go.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Jewelry and Sculptural Bead Design

Here's a little bit about the artwork I do.

I bead. I love to bead. But when I say bead, I'm not talking about stringing a bunch of beads on one cord, adding a clasp and calling it a necklace. I'm talking about weaving intricate designs using numerous techniques such as Peyote, Brick, Square, Ladder and Fringe stitches. I also do freeform stitching, loomwork, and object embellishment through beaded embroidery.

I'm currently scheduled to teach two different classes on Art Doll Beaded Embroidery in Albuquerque. I'm very excited about this opportunity. I love sharing my work and helping others to discover their own creativity.

I currently have several Art Dolls in progress including:
  • "Stella - Beach Intentions" - my newest design - this one literally had me out of bed in the middle of the night madly sketching. Stella is the first of my works to have accessories, including a beach towel, beach bag, and several others I'm still developing.
  • An un-named dragon that may take me the rest of my life to complete.
  • "Rain" - my oldest work in progress, but also the closest one to done.

I have many dolls that have been completed and found homes:
  • Pat
  • Dina
  • Mother Earth

The doll pictured to the left is Mother Earth.

Mother Earth is covered in beaded depictions of nature, including 3 dimensional waves crashing on a pebbled beach, vines and flowers that grow towards her sunlit face, vast blue skies and a population of creatures including a lizard, ladybug, dragonflies, butterfly, bee and beehive, fish, crab, starfish, bird, detailed hand beaded birds nest with eggs, and a spider hanging from Mother Earth's glassy spiderweb shawl. All surfaces are covered 100% in beads. Core is muslin with polyester fill.

Mother Earth has enjoyed long periods of display at Morning Calm Art Gallery and The Red Door Books & More - both in Corrales, NM, and was one of the 169 entries in Beadwork Magazine's "The Beaded Figure" juried exhibit - entry photo can be seen online at:

Here are some photos of my recent jewelry work:

Northeast American Indian Abenaki Bear Paw Necklace / Choker
Bear Paw is best known in Native American culture as Good Omen
This is a One of a Kind Piece - There is no pattern in existence.
Native American Thunderbird Necklace / Choker
In the legends of native North Americans, the thunderbird is a powerful spirit in the form of a bird. Lightning flashes from its beak, and the beating of its wings is creates the thunder. The thunderbird petroglyph symbol has been found across Canada and the United States and within nearly all Native North American people’s legends and stories.
This is a One of a Kind Piece - There is no pattern in existence.

Starting Out

I've been promising for months now that I would send photos to everyone. I want everyone to see how much Sam has grown, the places I've been, the things we do, and the incredible land I live in. I've determined that this is truly the best way to do that. And so I'm setting out to do just that.

I currently live in Rio Rancho, just North of Albuquerque, NM. Unlike Maine, where I was born and raised, there is very little water here, and likewise, very little humidity. I don't get to go swimming unless I'm staying at a hotel or we go on a day trip to one of the few lakes in the state or, better yet, to the hot springs.
People often ask if I miss the ocean. It's a funny thing... I don't really. Sure, I miss ocean breezes and sea glass. I miss taking a picture of my feet on the waters edge to mark the beginning of summer each year. But I don't miss the ocean per se. I often joke that being in the desert is just like being back at Old Orchard Beach... you're hot, you can smell sunblock, you can hear expensive radios booming out of junk cars, people are walking around scantily dressed, you can see the sand, but you never get close enough to see the water.

My impression of "desert" has changed drastically since moving out here. I always pictured monotone sand dunes for eons with the occasional run down little town or sticky hot city.
My first visit here was in June, 2004. Summer in the desert was not at all what I expected. First off, the heat was tolerable, mainly due to the lack of humidity. Secondly, there was soooo much color - millions of colors in the layers of rock that make up the mesa and canyons, tiny blooms on cactus everywhere, hot-air balloons taking to the sky almost every morning, and art... explosions of expression everywhere in jewelry, clothing, paintings, pottery, architecture, rock gardens, gates, fences, rock sculpture, music, food and on and on and on! Since moving out permanently, I've only discovered more.