Monday, August 31, 2009

Small World

Occasionally, I am reminded that the internet has really made it possible to "meet" folk from around the world whose lives would never have otherwise crossed mine.

It was one such individual that I have occasionally corresponded with after finding out about his work from another blogger, and viewing his photos on flickr. As soon as I saw the cover, I new this had to be the same fellow:

Sure enough, Trond, aka the KNITKID, pulled together his great Knitting Project into book form: HatHeads: 1 Man + 2 Knitting Needles = 50 Fun Hat Designs The book is a peek into the crazy 20 months and approximately 200 hats created during this time. Throughout the book are glorious photos of the hats and their recipients. The beginning portion of the book includes the story of how the Knitting Project came into being, and while it is a very small section, I really enjoyed reading about it. The hats in the book vary in size from Small (17.75-19 inch circumference) to Large (21.25 - 22.75 inch circumference) - there's a handy reference before the patterns start to help narrow things down if you know what size hat you need to knit. Of course, there are some tips on size adjustment.

Each of the hats follow a simple beanie shaped pattern, but are colorful and whimsical. Every hat is presented with a photo of its recipient and a little bit of backstory along with clear instructions and charts (if appropriate). Many of the hats do make use of stranded knitting (fair-isle), so the book may not be fantastic for knitters that are just getting started. At the end of the book, there is a basic hat recipe, along with some information on how to customize your own motif into a hat.

Personally, I was drawn to the book more for the photos and inspiration than anything else - the hat patterns are a bonus - it's simply refreshing to see all the different variations that Trond had come up with during the course of his knitting project, and reading some of the insight behind his work and designs. If you'd like to see a selection of the hats that Trond has knit, have a look at the flickr photoset.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last Looks

Continuing downcanyon towards the Colorado, you eventually will find yourself walking the benches above the slot that is the lower end of Havasu Canyon before it joins the Colorado. The water is startlingly blue, and reminds me of the summer sky.

The Colorado River, in contrast, is much more green, and can also run chocolate-milk brown during the monsoon season. We were lucky enough to catch a blue heron fishing (he was successful) along the bank. Other wildlife spotted on this trip (though not successfully photographed) include a healthy number of bats and lizards in addition to a rarely seen (for us anyhow) desert fox!

If you are interested in making the visit to Havasu Canyon yourself, you can find information and make your reservations with the Havasupai Tribe. Peak visitation is likely during the summer months - though I personally prefer the shoulder seasons when there are fewer visitors (and temperatures are more suitable for hiking). For those who don't care to hike in or pack in your own gear, it is possible to ride a helicopter or hire a horse service to carry your pack(s) in or out of the canyon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Magical Travertine

Travertine rims make for some beautiful photography while hiking downcanyon from Mooney falls towards the Colorado River. The calcium carbonate comes out of solution, coating and trapping leaves, sticks and other vegetation while forming miniature dams, rims and terraces.

Amazingly, evidence of historical watercourse changes can be found throughout the entire hike down canyon, provided you know where to look. Often I found myself climbing down (or up as I went back up towards the campground) old travertine terraces that have since been covered by canyon grape and other vegetation. In some regions of the canyon, I spotted silt and travertine-covered tree roots. Based on the relative elevation of these abandoned travertine terraces relative to the current water level in addition to the quantity of vegetation present, I imagine it's been quite some time since the watercourse has changed its preferred location - it makes me wonder how many large floods have occurred in the canyon, resulting in major changes to the watercourse.

Given how fast some of the vegetation grows, in addition to the evidence of travertine already covering the man-made dams near the falls, I suspect the canyon will recover relatively quickly from the flood of August 2008. Regardless of the changes, the area is stunning to visit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Falling Waters

In case you haven't guessed, I escaped for a backpacking trip to Havasu Canyon. It's been 8 years since we last visited, and we were curious to see the changes since the the flash flood from last August.

The biggest difference occurred at and above Navajo Falls - Navajo Falls, unfortunately, is no longer (you can see what it looked like in its glory via the link above). During the course of the flood, the stream cut a new path, eating away at the relatively soft embankments to form two new waterfalls while abandoning the watercourse over the old Navajo falls. Unfortunately, we had some issues with our camera that went undiscovered until we got home, so many of our photos of the various falls did not turn out satisfactorily :(

Anyhow, this is Havasu Falls, no longer a dual split fall - all the water now flows out what was previously the right hand channel (looking at the falls). In addition to the change in waterflow, the travertine pools below the falls seem to have taken a hammering. Some work has been done to try to reconstruct the pools, and travertine is already starting to cover the man-made dams.

Mooney falls remains largely unchanged, with the exception of the silting up of the pool below the falls in addition to the loss of some of its travertine dams as well. Similarly to Havasu Falls, the tribe has installed some rock walls in the pool, to encourage the reformation of the terraced travertine.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mineral Waters

Mother Nature sure has a way with colors! There's something about mineral laden water and red sandstone walls along with the greenery of the surrounding riparian zone that always makes me happy.

Stay tuned for more photos from the land of blue-green waters!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Inspiration Found.

Sometimes, I lose my kitchen mojo. Okay, of late, it seems to happen a lot - I blame it on the ambient oven-like temperatures down here in the desert southwest. Sometimes I get over my slump by flipping through my piles of cookbooks - other times, I get ideas from my blogroll (though in all fairness, not all are listed because I've forsaken bloglines for google reader). Still other times I resort to PBS (generally on the weekend, and only because I do not have Food Network). When all else fails, my friends usually help me out by pointing me in a direction.

A recent suggestion was to head over to the Pioneer Woman blog and check out her kitchen experiments - and more specifically the recipe for this salad - it suited my mood perfectly - fresh, chock full of veggies - and no cook! I happened to have some leftover roast chicken in the fridge that shredded up nicely and went right in. I will warn you though - this makes a LOT of salad - so if you're not feeding a small army, nor are you prepared to be eating this for the next week, I recommend scaling it down some.

Go have a look at Ree's blog - it's beautifully done - all of it - not just the part about the cooking though all those photos in the cooking section seem to always make me hungry!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Craftacular - finishing with Felt

I'm finishing off the week with a book on felt:

As the title states, Feltique is a book that covers a variety of techniques and projects in working with felt. The book features projects from various artists - including some adorable softies, some great neclaces (see covershot!), various bowls/vessels, a sweet owl coinpurse, and a needle felted dog by Laurie Sharp of Woolpets!

Projects are separated into chapters by technique and are varied for a wide range of skill levels. The first chapter makes use commercial felt - these projects generally involve cutting and sewing sheets of commercially-made felt. The second chapter focuses on wet felting - a fun, if sometimes messy endeavour. Chapter three is all about needle-felting - great for getting out aggresions, but probably not suitable for small children without supervision due to the use of a sharp barbed needle-felting tool. The fourth chapter is about fulled felt - projects that involve throwing knitted or crocheted objects into the wash with the intent of shrinking it down into a denser fabric - if you don't knit, worry not, some of the projects make use of already knitted sweaters - thrift store finds or even rescues from your own closet. The last chapter combines various techniques into one finished project.

I thought this was a fun book that definitely opened my eyes into new ways of using felt as a fabric/medium. Would you like my copy? US only please, leave me a comment and make sure I can figure out how to find you to let you know if you've won. The Random Number Generator will be pressed into service for this book next weekend.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Craftacular - Flowers for Everyone

Next up - a craft that makes use of wee squares of fabric and turns them into beautiful floral embellishments:

I seem to collect fabric, though I definitely don't sew anywhere near as much as I knit. In any case Kanzashi is another craft that can help me use up my fabric stash without having to get out the sewing machine.

If you are unfamiliar with Kanzashi, it is an artform involving the folding of fabric squares to form petals that are then assembled into flowers. The art of Kanzashi originates in Japan and are still used to adorn the hair of geisha and maiko. Traditional Kanzashi can be very elaborate and realistic in appearance - the designs in this book are much more suited towards beginners in the craft.

Kanzashi in Bloom is broken into four chapters - the first chapter provides an introduction to the history of the art form (and in case you would like to support an indie artist skilled in the craft, there are a couple links to folks who make their creations available for purchase). The second chapter focuses on materials and basic techniques - with lots of clear photographs to guide you on your way. Once you get the hang of the basics, the third and fourth chapters focus on projects - wearables (chapter three) and gifts (chapter four).

While this book does not get you into the more elaborate Kanzashi (chrysanthemums, lotus flowers, etc), it does teach you the basic skills to build upon. The internet has proven to be a wealth of knowledge, with several tutorials on Youtube, Flickr and various blogs.

Monday, August 03, 2009


A trio of crafty book reviews coming to you this week - each focused on a different tecnique, and all great for embellishment projects.

The first book is definitely focused primarily on embellishment, rather than on projects that can stand alone:

Ribbon Embroidery focuses on simple stitches that can be used to personalize anything that you could embroider upon. After a brief introduction identifying tools and materials and reviewing some tips and techniques, the book is separated into three chapters beginning with: Small Repeating Stitches, followed by Line Stitches, and finishing with Filled Stitches.

Each chapter opens with a large photograph of a sampler, illustrating a variety of the stitches taught in that chapter. Within the chapter, each stitch is demonstrated in a variety of sizes and ribbons, followed by step by step instructions, each illustrated with a photograph. In most cases I had no trouble following along - however the technique of making french knots still manages to elude me (yes, believe it or not, I have actually tried my hand at embroidery before!). My favorites of the stitches are the woven wheel (looks like rosettes when executed in ribbon), fishbone stitch, fern stitch, and couching stitch.

Overall, if you're relatively new to embroidery - or looking for some inspiration, this book is a good one to add to your library. Would you like my copy? Please leave me a comment - and a way to get a hold of you in case you're the winner - US only please, on account of the postage. I'll dig out the handy Random Number Generator some time next week.