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 northwind.etsy.com 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.