Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Evolution of a Knitting Pattern

See my second Craftsy offering here.

The first iteration was a pair of fingerless mitts with just a simple hole for the thumb, made from a pattern in a book.

The second pair added a thumb made from picking up the stitches around the thumb hole.

Each one, for left and right, are the same. There is no identifiable front or back, except as it develops from being worn.

The third pair was similar, but I added a cable pattern and ribbing to the top and bottom edges.

Because it didn’t make sense for the cable pattern to cover the palm, each one is a mirror image of the other and they are not interchangeable between hands.

But then I got to thinking: wouldn't it be cool to have the cable pattern run up the thumb? So I found some instructions for how to make a gusseted thumb increase and charted a cable pattern. I also changed the cable pattern to make it narrower; though I think the red pair with the cables look nice (especially with the way the yarn self-striped), after a few wearings, they didn't fit very snugly.

The result was this, and they are perfect!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Double Wedding Ring

Yesterday, I uploaded my first pattern to

This is the pattern I used to make the quilt featured here. I originally drafted the pattern nearly 10 years ago, and have been working on the quilt ever since. (I feel like I’m finally on the home stretch; the interior is quilted, and all that's left are the lozenge shapes around the edge.)

I had to redraft the pattern, because I could not find it on my current computer. It may be on my old Mac G4. I still have that machine, and I suppose I could have looked but that would have involved finding the power cords and the cable to hook up the monitor, and so on. Somehow, redrawing the pattern seemed easier.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Today in my photography seminar, we made photograms.

Other classes delve more into film, film developing and printing, but this is the only assignment for this class that involves darkroom work. It's been 30-some years since I was in a darkroom, but it was instantly familiar. The only thing that was different, I think, was that they use yellow lights, not the red lights I remember from high school and post-college employment at weekly newspapers.

Another student and I went halfsies on a box of photo paper — 12 or 15 sheets each. I used 5 or 6 today. I may go back later this quarter, or next quarter when I have some free time, to use up the rest of it.

Here are the two best images I created today. The first one features a couple of necklaces and several pairs of earrings with interesting silhouettes. The second one includes the pearl necklace, one pair of earrings, and some lace. The lace created an interesting effect where it was layered on itself. It’s mostly gray, but where it’s more opaque and shows up as white, it has a “glow-y” look.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Butchart Gardens “Postcard”

About a week ago, in my Photoshop class, we had what I thought was a really fun assignment.

The goal was to familiarize ourselves with the process of pasting images inside specific outlined selections of letters.

Whenever my charming husband Tim and I go on vacation, I take scads and scads of photographs (digital cameras make it so easy!). For our first anniversary last May, we took a long weekend up to Victoria, B.C. While there, we visited the Butchart Gardens.

I browsed through my photos from the trip and picked out one showing a landscape for the background and several of close-ups of various flowers for the letters. I took one small liberty with the background photo: I flopped it so the bare patch of concrete walkway would be covered up by the type.

I was quite pleased with the result.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lighting Assignment

This week’s assignment for my Photography class was to take pictures of a subject, with each using a different lighting angle, and pick three to present to the class. The teacher emphasized that this can dramatically change the sense of the photo, and I think these images exemplify that idea.

Front lighting

Side lighting

Bottom lighting

Top lighting

Monday, February 13, 2012


Several months ago, my friend Julie and her husband went to San Francisco for a long weekend. After she came back, she gave me some salted caramel that she had purchased at a shop called Candy Darling, which unfortunately has since gone out of business.

I’d never been a big fan of caramel, so it was awhile before I sampled it. Well, when I finally did, it was revelatory. Similar to when I was in New Orleans and had fresh, never-frozen shrimp for the first time.

If the only caramel you've ever had was Kraft caramel, well, you ain't never had caramel.

This concoction was to die for!

After that, I thought it would be fun to try making my own. However, nearly all the recipes out there call for light corn syrup as an ingredient. Some others called for sweetened condensed milk. Both of these seemed like modern cheats to me. Caramel has been around a lot longer than those commercial products. I wanted something more traditional.

I finally found this recipe at, which I made this weekend.

It was incredibly easy! I don’t have a 6x6 pan, so I increased the amount of ingredients by one-half, to fit my 9x9 pan. I also did not follow the instruction to NOT STIR. My understanding is that that could cause the mixture to burn and stick to the bottom of the pan.

I have my mom’s old candy thermometer, so I just heated and stirred until the mercury hit 250 degrees, poured it into the greased pan, sprinkled some sea salt over top, and let it set.

It’s pretty yummy!

Afterwards, I got out my copy of “On Food and Cooking” to see what the author had to say about caramel. According to Mr. McGee, you can make caramel from just sugar and boiling water.

I may try that sometime. I’m sure the batch of caramel I made this weekend will not be my last. But I will continue to tinker with the recipe. Do I really need to use cream and butter? What if I substituted half-and-half or even milk? Or left out the butter?

Enquiring minds want to know!

Monday, February 6, 2012

“Rush Hour”

Last week, as part of his presentation on shutter speed, my photography teacher showed the class these images. Click on each thumbnail to embiggen it.

He explained that the photographer created them with the use of a very long exposure and a darkening filter to keep the images from being overexposed.

Because the exposure was so long, all the fast-moving traffic “disappeared,” leaving only the stationary objects.

Very cool!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shutter Speed Assignment

I try to post two or three times a week, but sometimes life gets crazy and several days may pass between posts. This week was like that. If I thought I was busy while I was working, school keeps me way busier!

This week's photography homework is all about shutter speed. The assignment is to shoot three photos of the same subject at three different shutter speeds.

(One of the most challenging aspects, for me at least, is to come up with something other than the usual. I mean, how original is is to shoot traffic?)

Anyway, yesterday I went to a local playground and took some pictures of a little kid in a swing. They were okay, but I thought I could do better.

So I called up my former co-worker Marcy. She has a son about 10 or 11 years old. I thought it might work to get some photos of him going around on a playground merry-go-round.

Well, they didn't work so well. But the pictures I took of him practicing throwing a baseball with his dad did. Because the camera was set in continuous mode and took multiple successive shots, I was able to select three images where he was in nearly the same position.

1/250th second

1/60th second

1/15th second