Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Garden Gnome

Okay, so today, the kids & I ventured out into the front yard. (I can't even call it a garden, because we barely have grass.) I kept glancing over to the big ivy covered pine, hoping to catch another glimpse of the garden gnome.

I finally did see it & I was ready with the camera.
at tree

We played for a bit & then went back indoors. I had to get back into the kitchen, as I'm in the middle of prepping mashed potatoes for a big dinner. I've done about half of the potatoes, and have about 20 pounds left to peel, dice, cook, mash & season. You can imagine my shock when I reached over to the potato basket & saw this:

in basket

My only guess is that it followed the kids or was captured by one of them.
Upon close inspection, I realize that this must be an infant. You see, it has sprout eyes.
close up of eyes
Unlike the root vegetable potato, which grows eyes as it ages, Garden Gnomes have the eyes when they are young. This is to aid in their camouflage, as they have a tendency to wander off & be spotted by muggles. The eyes & stumpy legs make them look like a random potato lost in the yard/brush/shrubbery.

I left the back door open for a bit & when I looked out the window, I saw him vanish as he reached the edge of my yard. I guess he found his way back home!

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Patronus, Pretending to be a Scarf

My Portuguese Man Of War Patronus Neck-Scarf Thing

scarf on Lula

I used the free pattern I found through Ravelry.
Could it Be Any Easier? Neck Cozy by karendeane
I really like the look of the sample scarf, but I knew mine would be different. First off, I used an 8mm hook, instead of the 6.5mm & 6mm called for. I used 1 strand of bulky acrylic boucle yarn, which really isn't bulky, just uneven. The pattern calls for 2 strands of Bulky Alpaca Wool.
They suggest 2 buttons; I had the perfect button, which was really a pendant that a friend brought back from a trip to the Amazon. (Hi Bibb!) I had to tear out about 20 chains when I started so this thing wouldnt meet below my navel. I had to tweak the stitch placement to achieve the fabric qualities I wanted. Oh. AND, I had to add tentacles. But only to one end, because the Man of War is sorta asymmetrical like that.

Now, this appears to be quite dense and solid, but actually it is light weight yet cosy.
I actually remembered to photographically document some of my pattern changes & I'll try to show that with the following photos.

The working fabric stretched to show stitches:
Hook is through Chain Space, as indicated in pattern:
2nd Hook showing placement of next Chain Space:
White Hook added shows placement of my stitches BETWEEN the 'V' of the sc:
Work this space front to back:

Continue the pattern of sc into 'V' space as shown here, and chaining, as indicated by the pattern.

In about a dozen rows, you will have your very own scarf/neck wrap thing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I have wizarding neighbors.

HA- I KNEW it!
I’ve suspected it since we moved here, but now I have proof. I have a whole slew of wizarding families living next door. But, since I’m a part time muggle, I can’t see their houses. MY house is number 852. My next door neighbor’s house is number 890. So there are several houses that should be in between us. I can’t see them but I have proof.

You see I found this by chance having to make a run out to the car after dark. Because of the full moon, I caught a glimpse of some sparkly blue in my ivy. I ran back inside & grabbed the camera. I didn’t think about the flash, so the first shot– Well you see.


Then I popped the flash & CAUGHT proof on film. Well, digital media card, but same difference. I tried to get a second shot, but the flash must have sent him(?) scrambling, as I might have blinded it.

Care of Majical Creatures Homework

If you are a muggle and aren’t sure what I’m so excited about– let me explain. I have photographic proof of a garden gnome. These creatures usually only reside in wizarding yards & gardens. But I think this one has taken up residence in my front yard. I’ve noticed the strange hole in the ivy around the tree, and now I know why. I’ll try to explore it further in daylight.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Patronus

So my classes in Ravelry's Group HPKCHC, We are having to do a lot of assignments based on our personal Patronus.
I have been trying to settle on what mine is-- and had a horrible time settling on the right animal.
I tried searching online for various crochet patterns that I could manage (not too many separate parts, not too fussy, easy for a beginner...) Nothing struck me.
I tried going through my vintage crochet magazines. Lots of cute critters, but none of them were IT.
So then, I just quit focusing on what it would be & would think about it later.

Again, back to researching & I decided I needed a water animal, but it wasn't a fish. My thoughts went to manatees, but that wasn't quite right-- they didn't project quite the right vibes. Whales & dolphins-- nope. Crabs or shell fish- too fiddly. Then I decided on a Jelly Fish.

That would work. There are lots of patterns for these & it shouldn't be too hard to make. So I googled for a pattern. Found one I liked-- who knew there were so many ways to make a jelly fish? Pulled out my desk yarn & started-- made a few rounds. Then back to the internet for a bit of research on the traits I wanted my patronus to exemplify. WHOA. there are eleventy-billion different kinds of jelly fish. And they have all kinds of different traits.

Did you know that Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) is the source of a jelly fish's bioluminescence? And scientist have been able to make this protein & they use it as a marker when inserting genes into cells or organisms? HOW COOL IS THAT?

You can eat some kinds (they show a photo of tentacles in soy sauce in the wikipedia entry -- GROSS. And then they talk about treatment for stings. Vinegar, can be used but should not be used for treatment of Portuguese Man of War stings. AH HA. THATS IT! MY POTRONUS!!!!

See, "my" beach gets these quite regularly. They are beautiful. They are shimmery & iridescent. They have log tentacles that will sting the bejeebies out of you, even after cut off the creature. YES, this is my Patronus.

A little bit of research tells me that the Portugese Man of War is actually 4 types of creatures that live together as one unit. There is a fancy scientific word for this-- but you can check the wikipedia, cause I can't spell it & can't say it-- so why type it!

The Sail or floaty part is a clear iridescent bluish color, or sometimes pinkish or purple. The tentacles are a beautiful aqua blue with touches of purple. Good colors for me! (I even have yarn for this!) The floatie bit is usually 2-4 inches long, and a couple of inches high, but the height can expand up to 15cm (6inches). The tentacles range in length, but are usually about 3 feet with one or two or more long ones- up to 158 feet in length. YIKES! Most of the ones that get washed to shore have shorter tentacles, as they have been broken off. However, I have seen some spread maybe 10 feet along the sand.

So Back to my lovely Patronus.
WHY does the Portuguese Man of War suit me for my patronus? Its pretty. Its shiny. Its dangerous. And its more than meets the eye.
Although I'm not much of a girly girl, I have been known to pull out all the stakes & model, or win a beauty pagent-- or really out shine the others at a formal event. That takes care of the pretty.
Shiny Iridescence? I love jewelry. I love buying it, wearing it, making it.
Danger-- oh yes. I have a high tolerance for stupid people, people who piss me off, and idiots. Push me too far & I'll let you know it. I can be one very "Not-Nice" fishie. I think just like the tentacles, I can really pack a punch!
More than meets the eye. Just like the Man of War looks like a simple singular creature, I've got you fooled. I have multiple talents, multiple careers, multiple functions within my family. I am a complex creature.

Another thing-- there are few predators for the Man of War. I want my protector to be safe!Remember I said that the Man of War has only a couple of inches present on the surface of the ocean-- with varying amounts of length below? Well, there are three things that feed on these creatures in my part of the world. A little 6cm blue sea slug, a 4cm little common purple snail & the Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

Now loggerheads are near & dear to my heart-- as many seasons sections of "my" beach have been closed for nesting. (Turtle nesting is ok, but those dang tern nesting ares- bah.) I've seen evidence the morning after hatching, but I've never been there. My mother has been out several times and seen turtles laying eggs. And she was able to assist when a turtle was confused by the conflicting sounds of the surf & couldn't figure out which way to go back to the water. That turtle had laid her eggs on the point, and could hear the surf both to the north and the south. So, yeah, I'm okay with the turtles taking a little nibble.

So, after happily discovering my patronus, I've found the pattern I want to use for my project & I already have the perfect button to use! Now to find time to work on it! More to come!

Thanks for reading!