Thursday, June 30, 2011

I-Cord on a Circular Needle

   The first purse I made called for an I-cord.  I made it in the standard way with two double point needles.  You cast on 2, 3, or 4 stitches, knit them, and then instead of turning the work around, you push the stitches to the end of your needle, switch hands, and knit them again, drawing your working yarn across the back.  The result is a beautifully rounded tube that when felted is sturdy and durable.
   The trouble is that when felting I generally use a size 10 1/2 needle, or larger.  I don't have any double points that are that large.  On the first purse I designed, I simply used size 8 double points for the straps. This worked fine, but later I wanted to do something similar with a thicker yarn.  At first I used a circular needle, pushing the yarn all the way down the wire to the other end. This, as you might suppose, was mighty tedious for a 3 stitch row, and I was beginning to greatly dislike I-cords.  I began to simply slip the stitches back to the right hand needle after each row. Simple. Relaxing. Quick.  It is now my preferred method for I-cords regardless of the needle size and availability of double points.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mt. Ranier

Another beautiful day, and we went to Mt. Ranier.

We were very blessed.
 As we we climbed the mountain, the clouds dispersed.

When I stood with my back to Ranier (above), I saw this:

When we got to Paradise, the sky was clear:

 Looking the other way:

The trail we chose not to take this time:

Lee gazing at the mountain he summitted  years ago:

On the way back down we took a walk on a half mile trail at Longmire:

The Trail of the Shadows

A sucking fawn.

Mineral springs

Old mineral spring bathing area.

Cabin used by the Longmire Medicinal Hot Springs.

Inside the cabin to the left.

Inside the cabin to the right.

View of the meadow from the cabin.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Beauty of the City

   As I read this morning from Ezekiel 27 about the glories of the city of Tyre, I was struck by this passage:

"They have made thy beauty perfect." (verse 11.)

The work of wicked men may be admirable for its beauty.  I can't help admiring the great buildings and the skylines of many of the cities I have visited. They don't offer the same sense of quiet peace that the beauties of God's creation provide, but there is nonetheless a beauty and a glory in them ~ and this passage of Scripture assures me that there is no wrong in noticing and admiring it. Yet to own it and to trust in it would be folly, for judgement is proclaimed against it.

   All that is in the world is not of the Father, (1 John 2:16.) and even if it has its beauties, I take my place outside the camp with the Lord Jesus Christ.  "For here (on earth) have we no continuing city, but seek one to come." (Hebrews 13:11-14.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lillie's Little Sweater

   Cottage Creation patterns by Carol Anderson are wonderfully simple.  Here is Lillie's Little Sweater done in Cottontot yarn from Bernat:

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   I sometimes get frustrated reading Carol's over simplified directions, as I scan a page looking for what I am supposed to do next ~ but I have to admit I have learned a lot from her. Her explanations may get in the way once you think you have it all figured out, but until then, they are wonderful.

I've gotten my patterns from the BeeHive in Spencer, Iowa.  They can also be ordered from:

Cottage Creations
at the farm on Deer Creek
Carpenter, Iowa 50426-0070

Friday, June 17, 2011

How I Learned to Write Poetry, Part II

   I was serious enough in my desire to write good, old-fashioned, well-metered poetry to call in the help of a friend who had written some very good hymns (Glenn Conjurske.)  He wasn't overly enthusiastic at first.  He told me that poets were born, not made. Nonetheless, he was a friend, and he gave me some pointers and some healthy criticism. He even expressed some hope for me when he saw the following poem, which was patterned after one of his:

    To Hear a Loon’s Cry

   I want to hear a loon’s cry,
      I want a wooded lake.
I want to ride the placid waves,
      And watch the gentle wake.
   I want the soothing quiet,
      Of little splashes made,
When paddles touch the peaceful lake,
      Where never oar was laid.

   I want a starlit evening,
      A campfire on a bay,
In deep, untrammeled wilderness,
      Where cares are far away.
   I want the muffled stillness,
      The birch, the fir, the pine,
The woods that shield from troubled thoughts,
      And whisper peace divine.

   I want a dewy morning
      All stillness but the loons,
Whose distant melancholy cries
      Are sweet, alluring tunes.
   I want a place to listen,
      To think and pray and dream,
A rock, the woods, the lake, the loons,
      All near my God supreme.


   He became more earnest in helping me and even sent me one of his poems with his own critical remarks scribbled all over it. He was a tough critic, and I didn't always like having my poetry torn apart, but I never would have learned if I had received all praise.

   The basic and most important things he taught me are:

1.) Have something to say.  A poem should speak to the heart, and therefore must come from the heart.  A poem which is merely an intellectual exercise may have the form of poetry, but it lacks the spirit and essence of it.

2.) Don't include any words that don't have meaning.  Work and rework your lines if you have to until every word counts.  None should be thrown in merely to make up the meter or the rhyme.

3.) Try not to sacrifice either meter or sense, but if you must sacrifice one, sacrifice the meter ~ never the sense.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How I Learned to Write Poetry, Part l

   I have sometimes been asked how I learned to write metered, rhymed poetry, as it is so uncommon today to attempt it. Like many others, as a teenager I wrote the more common and rather unruly poetry of our day.  Yet, I was always fascinated by more classic verse. Disappointed with my own effusions, I gave up writing poetry altogether..
   When I was around 30, I read an article about Fanny Crosby in a magazine.  It said that she started writing hymns when she was 40.  I misunderstood the statement, thinking that she had begun to write poetry at that age.  She had been writing poetry since she would write.  But I thought to myself, "If Fanny Crosby could start at 40, I can start at 30."  I was inspired to start working on verses that had enough structure that they could be used as hymns.
   One of my first attempts was a plea for my two-year old, whom we called Liddie Bear, to be allowed to continue sucking her thumb a little longer.

Liddie Bear

Ity, bity Liddie Bear,
Sucks her thumb and strokes her hair ~
Comforts that cannot long last,
When her baby days are past.
Daddy says, "No more, no more,
When those toddling steps are o'er.
Thumbs are for the younger set."
We agree, and yet, and yet?
What, oh what then will there be,
For a girl who's less than three,
Of solace meet and comfort sweet,
For childish fears that she will meet,
For little cares that come her way,
Plaguing Liddie Bear each day?
Daddy, Daddy, don't you are?
Won't you help your Liddie Bear?

   I had to strain my wording to make the rhythm, but the plea had its effect.  And it doesn't seem to have had any debilitating effect on her.  Here she is on her wedding day in March of 2011:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Buried A-Frame

On our recent trip to Mt. St. Helens one of the most intriguing things we saw was a buried A frame house about 25 miles from the mountain.  We stopped to take a picture of Lee with "Bigfoot"

And saw this:

An information board nearby explained that when the river of mud settled the valley, a gigantic log broke through the front of this then newly-finished house. It still stands but is now partly underground.  At one time you were able to tour the main floor, but it is now filled with water.

 One among many earthly reminders to seek the "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." (1Peter 1:4)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Animal Slippers

   I've always wanted some of these! ~ Ursula, age 2


Grandmas make slippers.  Knitting grandmas do at any rate.  So it seemed to me that when  going to visit my grandkids I should bring them home made slippers.  The trouble is that I wasn't sure they would appreciate them ~ until I saw felted bunny slippers in a book called Knit One, Felt Too by Kathleen Taylor.    Ms. Taylor's slippers called for a lovely mohair yarn, which would make fuzzier slippers, but as I didn't have any of that available, I used her idea to design my own slippers using plain ol' worsted weight wool ~ and the kids love them.

Written for size 2 or (4).
Size 10 1/2 needles,
Worsted weight 100% wool: 1 3 oz ball of main color for each pair of slippers.
Small amount of any worsted weight yarn for tails and bunny ears.
Yarn of choice for embroidery.
The gauge isn't crucial because the size is approximate and can be adjusted in the felting process.  Mine is around 3 stitches per inch.

Cast on 36 stitches.
Knit in garter stitch for 7 1/2" (8 1/2").

Decrease for toe:
ROW 1: k4, k2 tog across.
ROWS 2, 4, 6, 8 k across.
ROW 3: k3, k2 tog across. (24 st.)
ROW 5: k2, k2 tog across.
ROW 7: k1, k2 tog across. (12 st.)
ROW 9: k2 tog across.

Cut yarn, leaving 10" tail.  Thread yarn onto sewing needle and draw through the 6 remaining stitches.  Pull tight.  Then sew up slanted toe edge, forming a slipper.  Sew 2" or so over instep.  (I didn't sew far enough and had to sew up a little farther after felting.)

Bear Ears:  Make 4
Cast on 5.
Knit one row.  Purl one row.
Knit front and back of each stitch across. (10 st.)
Purl one row. Knit one row. Purl one row.
Continuing in stockinette st, on each knit side row, knit the first two and last two stitches together until you have 4 stitches.  Then, purl 2 tog across. Cut yarn and run it through the two remaining stitches.
Felt these with the slippers.

To felt:  Place slippers in a pillowcase and tie shut.  (I use a coated rubber hair band to tie the pillowcase shut.) Place in washing machine with a heavy piece of fabric to increase agitation.  Set washer on lowest volume setting, hot wash, cold rinse.  Add a little soap.  It may take more than one washing to get the right size.

Make a 3" pompon and attach to the back of each slipper.  Embroider faces as you see in the pictures, using French knots for eyes, satin stitch for the snout, with a big black x for the bear.
For the bunny whiskers, thread a piece of yarn on a needle, sew it through the front of the slipper and cut leaving both ends free. Knot each end.

Bunny ears:
Make 4
I tried to felt bunny ears also, but they were too narrow and stuck together like a tube.  These are not felted:
Cast on 4.
Knit front and back of first stitch.  Knit 2, Kfb of last stitch. (6st.)
Work 6 rows in stockinette st. On 7th row SSk (Slip 2 stitches and knit together through the back loop.), K2, K2 tog. (4st.)
Purl one row.
SSK, K2tog (2st.)
Purl 2 tog..
Cut yarn and draw through.
The edges will curl forward, so the purl side is the inside of the ear.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mt. St. Helens

Friday was a gorgeous, blue-sky day, and Lee decided to drive to Mt. St. Helens.

The first place we stopped was the 7 Wonders Museum in Toutle.  This is a creationist museum run by Lloyd and Doris Anderson.  They were proponents of the gap theory until after Mt. St. Helens blew. They were invited to an Institute for Creation Research convention where the details of the explosion convinced Lloyd of the young earth.  In 1996 he visited Mt. St. Helens and decided to start the museum upon retirement. They started it about

Before we went inside, Lloyd showed us this mural on his garage door.  It depicts four of the seven wonders of Mt. St. Helens.

The introduction to a pamphlet Mr. Anderson wrote states, "The 7 Wonders, summarized below, are seven kinds of geological features resulting from the eruptive activity of the '80's and displayed at the Mount St. Helens (MSH) Creation Information Center.  Because they formed rapidly, they challenge evolutionary thought, which routinely assigns long ages to such formations." These are the seven points:

1. Mountain rearranged beyond recognition in minutes.
2. Canyons formed in five months.
3. Badlands formed in five days.
4. Layered strata formed in three hours.
5. River system formed in nine hours.
6. Sinking logs look like many aged forests in just ten years.
7. A new model for quicker coal formation.

We visited two other museums, both highly interesting. One is run by Weyerhauser, the company which has replanted much of the area destroyed by the volcanic eruption.  Their beautiful and educational museum spoke much of the rapid recovery of nature and nothing (that I saw) of "millions of years."

The other was run by the forest service at the Johnsotne Observatory overlooking the mountain and about five miles away. It has an excellent view, detailed interactive, scientific information, and a great 16 minute film of the eruption.  The narrator, who spoke of the continuous and violent changes we can expect from the earth, still dared to assume "eons" in those cases where we have no personal observation to prove otherwise.  If the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness.

Bridge at Hoffstadt Bluffs

Tourists (Notice the neat felt camera bag.)