I think I’ll journey out some day to wondrous lands afar,
Or even chart a journey to a distant blazing star.
But rest assured that when my journey begs to take its cue,
Always know that when I go, this journey takes you too...
And in the winding route, this journey's bound to bide content,
But most of all take heed - let's make our journey life's event.

from JOURNEY TO BE, by Mark Slaughter

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rambling Rose Scarflette

Rose Scarflette


This elegant rosette gets its shape from a technique known as hyperbolic crochet, in which the number of stitches is doubled in each row as the work progresses. This creates the lovely ruffles that naturally form the suggestion of a rose. Five "stems", ending in optional decorative beads, loop gracefully around the neck and "flow" through a hidden ring of crochet formed by the rosette.


135 yards DK weight yarn (Sample done in Rowan Classic Yarns Cashsoft DK: 57% extra fine
merino, 33% acrylic microfiber, 10% cashmere - 50 g, 142 yards)
3.5 mm crochet hook
Yarn needle
Beads (optional) with holes large enough to thread on yarn
Floss threader (optional) to thread beads on yarn


slst - slip stitch
sc - single crochet
dc - double crochet
ch - chain


CH 10, join with slst to form a ring.

Round 1: Ch 1, sc 20 times in ring. Slst to first sc to join.

Round 2: Ch 3, dc in same stitch. 2 dc in each sc to end, slst to top of beginning ch 3
to join. (40 stitches)

Round 3: Ch 3, dc in same stitch. 2 dc in each dc to end, slst to top of beginning ch 3
to join. (80 stitches)

Round 4 : Repeat Round 3. (160 stitches)

Round 5: Repeat Round 3. (320 stitches) Fasten off and weave in ends.


Cut 5 lengths of yarn 9 yards long each.

Fold one length of yarn in half so that one end forms a loop. Working on the back of the rosette, insert the crochet hook into the space between two of the sc stitches of the ring. Catch the loop with the hook and pull through the space between the sc stitches. Yarn over both yarns and pull through, starting a chain. Ch 130 stitches with both yarns together, fasten off.

Repeat process with the remaining 4 lengths of yarn, inserting the crochet hook into the space next to the previously used sc space in the ring. All 5 stems should be attached next to each other on one side of the ring.

Add beads (optional) to the ends of each stem and tie knots to hold beads in place. Trim ends to desired length.


Place the ends of the stems through the hole in the middle of the rosette from the back to the front. This should form a large loop of 5 ties, which is placed over the head. Pull the ties to adjust the desired location of the rosette. Flatten the back of the rosette to pull the ruffles forward around the ties and hide the hole. Pull the ties downward while adjusting the ruffles so they hang from the bottom of the rosette.

© 2010 by Julie Beal.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Magic in the Treetops

         There IS magic in treetops, with the rustling and whispering of their own secrets as the wind blows gently through their leaves. I used to sit up there to read when I was young. My sister and I would ride out bicycles to the library and fill our baskets with books. We would ride home, eagerly anticipating the adventures that lay ahead in our books. I would get pieces of fresh, juicy, ripe nectarines and peaches from the bowl on my mother’s kitchen table and put them, with two books, into a small basket with a handle. I would tie a rope on the handle, throw it over the lowest branch, and after swinging myself up to my first perch on my favorite tree, I would pull the basket up. I continued this way to the top of the tree, always conscious of the familiar footholds on the limbs that ensured my security. Perching myself in the top of the tree, the queen of the neighborhood would look out over her kingdom before embarking on a journey to a new time or place between the covers of my best friends…books! Needless to say, I was overlooked for many a chore by taking my refuge in the tree top…no one could find me!It was the perfect escape…food, book, and peace!

Monday, November 1, 2010

ODE TO THE WOEFUL SOCK, a Sad Knitter's Tale

I spent Sunday at a party for an elementary teacher my Mom knew from her childhood. The teacher was turning 100, and we drove to my Mom's home town in Pennsylvania for a lovely reunion with friends and cousins. I took my knitting, of course, and was knitting away smugly on my sock when tragedy struck and put me in my place pronto! Here is the story:

Oh, knitting friends, do not forego
A hearing of my tale of woe.
Pride always goes before a fall,
And I was surely full of all!
In awe the people watched me knit,
I didn’t have the heart to quit.
My needles flew, I was impressed,
My stitches looked their very best.
I felt so smug, my sock was great,
Until it met an awful fate!
While compliments just flew about,
I pulled the empty needle out
With such a flourish and a flash,
So full of ME, so bold and brash!
And suddenly, I was a jerk.
I’d pulled the needle from the work!
So there I was, with stitches loose,
Just feeling like a silly goose.
Humility came flooding in,
And all that I could do was grin.
I put my work away in shame,
With some excuse, so very lame!
Now I’m no longer flying high,
My sock’s a mess, but I will try
To fix the tangled sock yarn wreck :(
And keep my arrogance IN CHECK!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back to School, and Busier than Ever!

School started at the end of August, and I am truly enjoying my team of teachers and students in my 30th year of being an educator! It has been a very busy start to the new school year, but things are starting to settle down and fall into a new routine. The knitting, spinning, and sewing have been on hold for a while, but schoolwork has to come first. Now that it is becoming more manageable, I am able to start to dabble in some projects in all three areas.

I am designing a sock pattern to use with the new Blackthorn double pointed knitting needles. I found them online last spring and ordered a pair. They are quite unique, as they are made from the same polycarbonate materials as stealth bombers and NASCAR racer cars! They feel great in my hands and I love to knit with them. The pattern is called "Under the Radar" and it has a flight pattern in lace (or not in lace) moving up and down the front of the sock. I have been working on it for a long time, and I'm anxious to get it done. The pattern will be listed for sale when I am finished and the sock I am knitting is properly photographed.

Under the Radar
 This summer, I also designed and produced  "Love to Create" small project bags for knitters, crocheters, stitchers, and any other crafters wanting something portable for small projects. They aren't just for crafts, I've discovered. My niece, the ballet dancer, carries her sewing kit and toe shoe supplies in hers, and her younger sister carries her collection of small dolls in hers! They are selling in a yarn shop south of me, and another yarn shop about an hour away would like to carry them as well. Also, 20 of the bags are going to NEW YORK CITY to be sold at the Vogue Knitting Show at the end of January! I'm very excited about all of this, and the bags are really fun for me to make.  The little heart closure and the batik fabrics are their trademarks.

Summer Plums
One of my bags went to Ireland, too! A lady bought it for her trip and, of course, it was an all-green one (not pictured here) from my Pacific Northwest Collection. I bought fabric from two stores in Oregon during my visit in July, and I named all the bags I created with names of locations in Oregon. It was really enjoyable creating those bags, and I loved the challenge of naming them. It was truly fun having my sister there to help pick them out. She even has one named after her...Fleur Chantal. And the sweet part is that one of her best friends bought it from me!

Spinning hasn't happened much, but I do have one lovely, fuzzy skein of yarn that I spun a little of because I couldn't wait to see how it looked in yarn. I LOVE it and am anxious to spin the rest! It is roving from Homestead Wool and Gift Farm in Wisconsin, and the fiber is Romney wool, from a sheep named Annie, blended with cria, the first shearing from a baby alpaca. SOOOOO soft and silky and fuzzy!

Busy, busy, busy! I enjoy the busyness, though.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Little Blessings

It has been an interesting two days, basically in the form of a sewing marathon! A friend's cousin asked me to make a purse for her. Seemingly simple, it turned out to be very complicated, but very special! She had recently lost her husband and had saved his favorite jeans and button down shirt for a potential project. Although she sews, she didn't feel she could manage to make her vision become reality. So she asked me. I found a wonderful free pattern for a stylish hobo bag, and we got together yesterday morning to talk about what she envisioned and what I thought I would be able to incorporate from the jeans into the purse. After a field trip to the fabric store for notions, thread, and heavy-duty needles, she went home and I embarked upon what turned out to be a 9 hour creative adventure. I had to deconstruct the jeans and the shirt and turn them into bag parts. The front and back of the bag had to be pieced in 3 parts from the leg fabric, which really turned out to look nice and jeans-ey after I top-stitched them in gold jeans thread.

Here's a breakdown of what all the parts became in the bag:

leg fabric - body of the bag
belt loops - stitched 3 together to make loop closure
frayed bottom 8"of one leg turned upside down - inside pocket the width of the bag
back pocket with Levi's tag - front outside pocket of bag
other back pocket lined with shirt fabric - eyeglass case
small key pocket from right front pocket of jeans - attached to inside pocket for small change
waistband with button and buttonhole - shoulder strap
shirt - bag lining, zippered inner pocket, and scarf bow

 And here's the finished product:

Eyeglass Case
Zippered pocket in lining
Upside down leg hem pocket with small key pocket attached to other side of lining. Isn't the shirt fabric fun?
Completed bag (the Levi's tag on the pocket is hiding under the bow)

It was, to me, a labor of love for my friend's cousin. As I created it, I hoped it would bring her joy and comfort, and perhaps ease some of the loneliness I know she has been feeling. I took it to her home this morning, and judging from her reaction, I knew it was going to contribute to her healing in a special way. Grateful for all the blessings in my life, I feel like I was truly fortunate to be able to do this for her.

So when you reflect on your blessings, do something to bless someone else. You never know how positive an impact you might make on them for even just that moment!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

I love roses...obviously! I usually can't grow them successfully, but I do have three ever-increasing climbing rose bushes in my backyard. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that, sadly, they only bloom in June, and then they are done for the season.

One of the highlights of my trip to Portland, Oregon this July was a visit to the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. Spread over four acres of land, the seemingly never-ending beauty of hundreds of varieties of rose bushes, paired with the perfumed fragrance in the air, makes for a delightful treat for the senses. One can spend hours there, wandering peacefully through the rows of proud blossoms.

Aren't they gorgeous? I don't know the varieties, unfortunately, but the view of the acres of roses was spectacular. I can't wait to browse the garden again next summer...this time with pen and notebook in hand to write down the varieties!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sheepy Fun and Llama Kisses

There is a lovely sheep farm in Estacada, Oregon called Cedar Haven Farm. It is the home to about 30 sheep, a delightful llama, peacocks, hens and roosters, and a variety of cats, including two gorgeous Maine Coons. While I was in Portland this summer, I was interested in purchasing some Shetland fiber for spinning on my spinning wheel to incorporate into a geometric knitted design technique, called Fair Isle, for a handspun, handknitted cardigan for me.

Cardigan for teaching colleague's little boy...the geometric pattern is the Fair Isle technique.
It was just my luck that the owners had some beautiful natural caramel-tan Shetland lambswool spinning fiber from a sweet sheep named Dove, and a lovely silvery gray Shetland wool from another sweetie named Dahlia. I plan to use the tan lambswool with a dark brown handspun alpaca yarn, from an alpaca in Ohio named Olivia, and a white handspun Corriedale from  a sheep named Theo at Homestead Wool and Gift Farm, a rescue farm in Munroe,Wisconsin.
Dove (brown face) and Dahlia

Olivia the alpaca (and her new baby)

Spinning fiber and my handspun yarn from Theo
It was such fun to visit Cedar Haven Farm, and probably one of the most memorable experiences was being sniffed by Haley, the llama guardian of the sheep. She would practically rub her soft furry muzzle on my face, sniffing gently out of curiosity to see who this intruder might be. The other memorable experience was the opportunity to hear the owner of the farm, Lynne, play her harp for us. Such a beautiful, haunting melody and a truly special experience.

Haley the llama

Spinning is an earthy pleasure for me, the ultimate in relaxation (other than a massage!). It is very soothing, and I become one with the rhythm of the treadling of the wheel, the whir of the flyer, and the feel of the fiber twisting between my fingers. Stress drops away for a while, and I end up with a beautiful, one of a kind yarn with which to knit something lovely or gift to my knitting friends. I love to spin on my Ashford Traditional, Rosie. For those of you who know spinning wheels, she is pictured here without the flyer since she had just been transported back from my mom's house. Mom had painted the beautiful roses on Rosie and I still needed to let them dry.


Science Rocks!

Thanks to the talent of our technology team, I learned how to create a web site last school year. I was pretty proud of it, and it was fun to find Earth pictures that corresponded with my lab activities. If you want to take a look, then click here to go to my Science Website. Enjoy!

Summer Musings

Summer vacation! How I always loved it as a kid, even though being in school was usually not unpleasant for me. I still love it, and I am blessed that it is a perk of my chosen career as a middle school teacher. It was wonderful to be able to spend the summer with my kids when they were very young, since they were in day care before they started school. Even after they started school, it was such fun to be able to hang out with them during the summer. Their grandparents lived behind Geauga Lake and Sea World, just 20 minutes from us, and they would receive complimentary passes every year for about 5 years due to the inconvenience of the noise and increased traffic of the parks. They would generously bestow the passes on us, and we would take short trips to both parks often. I always had to ride the roller coasters in the front seat with my son with my eyes squeezed tightly shut and a white-knuckled grip on the handlebars! Once, we went on a ride that he assured me did not go upside down. HAH! I quickly learned not to trust his perception of  rides! His maniacal laughter as I was screaming and hanging upside down in this car-thing let me know he had planned to fool me, not maliciously, but in his own rascally way!

Now that my kids are adults and on their own, I fill my summer days with knitting, crocheting, spinning, gardening, sewing, and traveling. With a daughter and new son-in-law in San Antonio, I travel to Texas at least three times a year. I LOVE getting off the plane in 75 degree weather in December when I have left 25 degrees and 2 feet of snow behind.  Having dinner on a balmy evening at an outdoor table next to the colorfully lit Riverwalk at Christmas was truly a treat! The Riverwalk is also lined with softly glowing luminaries during the holiday season.
Holiday lights on the Riverwalk
This June, San Antonio was really hot, but it was a dry heat without the exhausting humidity at home. It felt great after the cold, rainy spring we experienced in Northeastern Ohio! This June marked my 7th  trip to San Antonio in 2 1/2 years, and I finally got up the nerve to take my daughter to work in order to use her car and actually DRIVE alone in that crazy traffic. I thought Akron traffic was bad!

For a change in scenery, I visited my sister and brother-in-law in Portland, Oregon in mid July. Such amazing geography there is in the Pacific Northwest! We went to the Pacific coast, to Mount Hood, and up to Astoria. Astoria is the northwestern-most point in Oregon, where you can see the meeting of the Pacific Ocean and the mighty Columbia River. If you turn around from that scene, you view the Cascade Range with its snow-capped mountain peaks spreading out along the whole horizon. It is a breathtaking sight! Astoria is also the location for the filming of many movies, such as Goonies and Kindergarten Cop, which I didn't know until this visit.

Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean - Washington is on the other side of the bridge.

One of the highlights of Astoria is the observation tower called the Astoria Column, which shows a pictoral timeline of the history of Astoria from the arrival of the Clatsop Indians, through the explorations by Lewis and Clark, finishing with the arrival of the pioneers. One can climb the 164 spiraling steps inside the column to reach the observation deck at the top. Well, YOU can! I only made it up 36 steps before I froze and had to go back down...the risers on the steps were open and I could see to the bottom of the column as I got higher. I have a problem with heights, and I REALLY thought I could climb that tower since the steps were enclosed in the interior of the column. No such luck! Even if I had made it to the top, I would have had to plaster myself against the wall of the observation deck. I was even shaking while taking the picture of my sister and brother-in-law waving from the deck, and I was standing with my feet firmly planted on the ground!

Astoria Column

Another highlight of the trip was seeing Mt. Hood from different perspectives. The majestic 11,250 foot mountain can be seen from the top of my sister's street, and it is a breathtaking sight especially during a beautiful sunset! We drove an hour and a half to set foot at the timberline (6000 feet above sea level) of the snowy towering peak. What an incredible sight!

Mt. Hood from my sister's street at sunset

Upper 5200 feet of Mt. Hood from the timberline

They were great trips, and I plan to return to San Antonio and Oregon next summer for another visit! Now summer vacation is drawing to a close, and I am eagerly anticipating the start of a new school year.