Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter Is Too Long to Drink Cold Coffee

Winter is too long to be drinking cold coffee. And tasty as it is when you make it with a press pot, you pour one cup, drink it, and the next one is only lukewarm. The British don't put up with this situation for their tea (even though their houses are sometimes very chilly). They knit up tea cosies to insulate the pot, ones like this, and this, and the one I am totally going to make someday.

And now those clever Brits have designed coffee cozies and put out a book of patterns for them:

Americans only think of wrapping their to-go cup. If you don't believe me, search Ravelry's patterns for "coffee cosy" or "coffee cozy" (British spelling) and see what you get.

Reader, I got the book, turned to Pattern #4, and made me a Waffle Weave coffee cosy:

Used leftovers from my Juniper Moon Shepherd and Shearer and Colored Flock yarns. Nice, thick aran wool, 2 colors making a double insulating layer. And, Reader, it really does keep the coffee warm longer!

I had intended to make one for my coffee gourmet son who will only drink single-source freshly roasted and ground coffee and only from a press pot.  He used my cosy some of the time, admitted it held in warmth, but found the buttons a little fiddly to bother with. I agreed about the fiddliness, and there is something a little sloppy-looking about the button fastening.

Then the light bulb went on. Magnets! Off to the craft store to procure some cute little rare earth magnets, the really sticky ones. (Take care with these guys, though. If swallowed by people or pets they can cause terrible harm. Enclose them securely so they'll never never escape!)

Cosy 2.0 is double layers of aran wool--2-color ribbing--with 6 little magnets sewn into felt strips at each end of the piece. Wrap it around the pot and clunk! they grab each other instantly and hang on. Absolutely no fiddling!

 Am I pleased with myself? Utterly! It only remains to be seen if the coffee gourmet is pleased as well.

And what's this on the needles? Another cosy for another of my offspring who has suddenly found herself compelled to use a press pot far from home. Happy New Year, kids! As the Scots say, "Lang may yer lum reek." (look it up) And lang may yer coffee stay hot!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Alpaca Love

Here's another cool thing I did on my recent travels--a visit to an alpaca ranch! It was the Albuquerque Alpaca Ranch located in, not surprisingly, Albuquerque NM. And I mean in the city, not on the outskirts, but right there in town.

It's run by a friendly couple who fell in love with the friendly animals, Skip and Stacie Chavez. Call them up, and you can arrange to go visit and meet their fuzzy herd. And many of them are just a curious to meet you as you are to meet them--

Skip took us around and told us lots about his particular alpacas and alpacas in general. He's really crazy about his animals, crazy enough to teach one to do this:
She's taking an alfalfa pellet from his lips, an alpaca-style kiss.

We got up close and personal with one of the crias (a cria is a baby alpaca). Really up close:
If there's anything sweeter and fuzzier than a little cria, I can't think of it right now because my mind is all fuzzy with the memory. Little Romeo there had a hard luck story turned happy.  He was his mama's firstborn, and she was pretty clueless about motherhood. She rejected him, refused to let him feed. He was fed from a bottle for a while, but then he rejected the bottle. He wanted his own fuzzy warm mama, and who could blame him? So he was rubbed with the scent of another new cria and introduced to a mama that accepted him. Supermama doesn't mind providing dinner for two, and he's now a happy cria. Put him down, and he wants to get through that gate and back to his family.

One more Alpaca to meet, the herdsire. Isn't he a handsome stud?
There's something about the Egyptian eyeliner and the two-tone mop top that has got to make the ladies swoon. And the fine hairs of his fleece that makes the knitters swoon.

There's more to the ranch than the animals. There's a shop where you can buy all manner of Alpaca items, including yarn and fiber (check for moths, though). And a lovely space where they hold classes in felting Alpaca fiber. I'd love to spend a day there...