Category Archives: travel

One holiday at a time…

That’s my motto. No Christmas before Thanksgiving. Heck, no Christmas before Halloween!

A couple weekends ago, it couldn’t be helped. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincided, so we had to do both at the same time. My sister-in-law made a menurkey. I can’t find the picture of her with it, so here’s DH.

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We came home and celebrated the rest of Hanukkah.

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(Playing with depth of field and my menorah collection)

Now I’m ready to prepare for Christmas.

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We had a little snow here to put me in the right frame of mind.
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I found Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans for a reasonable price at Costco, so I’m making some vanilla extracts. Two are made with vodka, and two are made with bourbon. I gues that would make the latter…Bourbon Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract! A week later, the vodka version is nearly as dark as the bourbon version. But don’t let that fool you; it won’t be ready to use for about a month or so. Here’s a recipe; it’s crazy simple. I love these flip top bottles, but I wish they came in a smaller version! These are 8 ounces, which is a lot of vanilla extract.

More merry-making: Here’s a group from Westlake High School singing at the Rotunda in the Texas Capitol in Austin Texas.

Yes, Austin! We had a quick getaway this week. Here’s a better view up into the dome. The star up there measures 8 feet across.

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This is a beautiful building. So much detail!

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Even the door hinges are beautiful.

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Texas State Representatives meet here.

We also toured the LBJ Library and Museum, and saw lots of bands play. Favorite meal: breakfast tacos at Torchy’s Tacos. Cheap hipster slacker breakfast.

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We got around via Car2Go. Very cool!

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Cheaper than a cab, and pretty convenient. You only pay for the time you drive, 41 cents/minute, and you can park in any legal parking lot in their service area. We have these in Portland, too, and use them occasionally when we need a second car. Do you have Car2Go where you live?

Are you ready for Christmas? Not me, not yet!

Fall back…

You’d think that gaining an extra hour would give me some bounce, but I feel like I can’t quite catch up on sleep! I’m tired earlier and wake up earlier than I want to because it’s light outside. Give me another week and I’ll have my act together.

I spent the weekend over on the sunny side of the Cascade Mountains, visiting good friends who have fled the gray rainy side. They’re happily ensconced in their new town. We hiked up Umtanum Creek Canyon on Sunday. The sage looked and smelled wonderful, and the mountains look very different over there.

Umtanum Creek hike

We passed an abandoned homestead, complete with the remains of an apple orchard.

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I wonder what this stone was for?

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The still parts of the creek reflect the mountains, gloriously.

Umtanum Creek hike

There are beaver dams along the creek. Most impressive.

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I had a great time, and it was kind of depressing driving back under the cloud cover into the rain. Sigh.

October is over, and that means it’s time to give away books! Thanks for all your comments. The winners of the 2013 Swish Pattern Collection for KnitPicks are:

purple penguin and Lillian Henegar.

Congratulations! I’ve emailed you your ebooks. I hope you enjoy knitting from them!

In other news, I saw my first Christmas ad on TV last week, the Monday before Halloween. Blergh. But it’s definitely holiday season in the stores already. I was in my local Fred Meyer and saw this:

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I think that’s cheating. Gluing felt reindeer on an acrylic sweater isn’t the same as digging through closets (or thrift stores!) and coming up with the perfect egregious Christmas sweater. And paying $24.99 for the privilege of faking it? Meh.

I just finished a design project and am mailing it off today. Another is gone to the tech editor. And the yarn for a new one just arrived. I’ll start…after I finish a baby sweater for Lorajean’s impending bundle of joy. Two weeks to go! I started to knit a Baby Surprise Jacket, but it just wasn’t speaking to me. Now I’m knitting In Threes by Kelly Herdrich. I’ve knit one of these before, it’s quick and cute.

What’s hot on your needles now? Do you have an “ugly” Christmas sweater? I have a cute one! Picture in December, when it’s seasonally appropriate.

Tempus fugit

Time flies! I’m a little buried under right now, in a good way. I have two design projects in the works, but I can’t show them to you yet. And I’m prepping for classes at Stash in Corvallis this weekend and Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival next weekend. There is nothing so inspiring as a deadline. Git ‘er done!

I did take a little time out last week to celebrate a friend’s significant birthday. We were in Pacific City, home of the other Haystack Rock on the Oregon Coast. (There may be one more, but this one and the one in Cannon Beach are the most well known.)

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Yes, there are surfers here! Full wetsuit required; it’s cold out there.

haystack sunset

Our house was high on the hill (out of the tsunami zone!) overlooking the town and the beach, perfect for sunset viewing.

sunset in a glass

Click on the photo for a closer view; the sunset is echoed in the stem. Bonus!

We went down to Lincoln City to Jennifer Sears Art Glass Studio, and played with glass. I made a paperweight, and my friends blew glass floats. Very cool to learn about the process, and do our own…with lots of help.

stretching glass

Stretching molten glass so I can twist it in a knot. Even in glass, I wanted something yarny…

swirled float before blowing

Swirled float before blowing…

swirled float after

And after.

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My paperweight.

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The bubbles are caused by a sprinkling of baking soda. There’s no place for the air to go when it’s dipped in the last layer of molten glass, so it makes bubbles. I love this. And I’m dreaming up ways to do it again. So many possibilities!

I did take a little time with graph paper and pencil to chart out my new project, and math out the underpinnings. Now I’m home, knitting it, and I think I love it. Looking forward to showing it to you, later.

What are you working on? It’s definitely fall here, so I need to get back to my cardigan…eventually. Deadlines first!

Happy September!

It’s Labor Day weekend here in the states, summer’s last hurrah. I hope you have a little time to regroup before fall’s busy-ness kicks in.

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Take a little time to just be…

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And enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

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Oregon Coast August

You never know what you’re going to get, weather-wise! I had a quick getaway to Cannon Beach with friends last week. Wednesday was a glorious day. Breezy sunshine made it perfect for a visit to Haystack Rock.

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The tidepools were full of starfish, anemones, and barnacles.

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And that evening’s sunset added a rosy glow to everything, including the sand.

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I even had some knitting time on the beach.

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On Thursday morning I woke at dawn to chase the moonset, but the sunrise was too early for me to capture what I wanted from the moon. You can barely see the moon directly above the seagull; the sky was already too bright. It was a nice walk, though!

cannon beach moonset

The day turned out to be cloudy and cool, but it was great walking weather. We headed north in the late afternoon. The mist around the rocks at Chapman Point made everything seem a wee bit magical. And these horses and their riders made me feel as if we had stumbled into another time.

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Horses

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Despite the mist, up close everything was crystal clear.

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stars and anemones

We explored a small cave, and this arch through the rock.

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I love getting out and looking at things with my camera in mind. It makes me see everything a little differently. And my camera lately is just my iPhone5. Lightweight, always with me, great photo quality.

What are you seeing these days? Are you ready for fall?

The weekend that was…full!

First of all, I was guest blogging as one of the Voices of August on a friend’s blog. This is the second time I’ve done this, and I was honored to be invited again. As a maker/crafty person, I feel like I’m pretty capable of making things happen, so it’s bothersome when I come up against something that’s not so easy. How do I deal with it? Go read my guest post, Because I Can, to find out. And if you’d like to know what I wrote last year, you can find my musings on The Empty Nest here.

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Saturday was also the Portland Bridge Festival Block Party to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Broadway Bridge. DH and I rode our bikes down to check it out.

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Tyler Mackie, Bridge for Blankets creator, hosted the Bridge for Blankets info/raffle table. I bought tickets, but I didn’t win the Raffghan. I’m glad it’s going to a good home, though.

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Members of the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus modeled some fancy bridges. I can’t walk in heels like those on level ground; how do they do it on gravel?

DH and I rode under the bridge to look at some condos along the river that I admired on my last ride. He says they’re not urban enough; he’d rather be in the Pearl. proper. Guess we’re not moving to a condo yet since our condo visions don’t match up!

And Sunday afternoon I went sailing on the Columbia with friends. The sky cleared and there was a very light breeze. The sunset was lovely.

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How was your weekend?

Biking Portland’s bridges

My friend Karen and I rode our bikes down to the Broadway Bridge to see the rest of the Bridge for Blankets panels. In the process, I found a path along the west side of the river that was new to me. We picked it up at the Portland Police Department’s horse stables, and rode south, oohing and aahing over the four knit panels on the bridge. (Click any of the pictures for a larger view.)

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Portland is such a beautiful city, and the bridges over the Willamette River help make it so. My favorite? The Fremont Bridge. It’s a tied arch bridge, and I love its modern look. It’s the next bridge north of the Broadway.

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Our ride took us along Waterfront Park, back over the river on the Hawthorne Bridge (vertical lift), along the Eastside Esplanade, crossing the river again over the Steel Bridge (vertical lift) because I’d never crossed it on the bike/pedestrian path next to the train deck, and then back towards home over the Broadway (bascule). The sun came out and it was glorious.

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Steel Bridge (black, train deck lowered), Broadway (red), Fremont (green).

One more look at the lovely knitting:

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If you’re local to Portland, don’t forget the Block Party on Saturday, August 10, noon to 7 p.m. at NW Broadway and Hoyt. You can still buy raffle tickets for the Raffghan there; the drawing will be around 2 p.m. Proceeds go towards defraying costs for the Bridge for Blankets Project. Music, dancing, bridge tours, food, arts, crafts…what’s not to like?

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(Photo: Sharon Mackie)

And if you want to get your whole bike geek chic on, the Providence Bridge Pedal ride is on Sunday, August 11. The ride offers routes of 3 to 36 miles, and crosses up to 10 bridges, depending on route. This is the yearly opportunity to ride your bike on the top decks of the two freeway bridges, the Fremont and Marquam. The views are spectacular. Here’s an ancient picture of the family on the Fremont Bridge from 1997, the second Bridge Pedal. Yes, I hauled 4 year old kiddo on a Burley Piccolo trailer bike. The year before he had a toddler seat on my bike rack. We’ve grown up some since then…

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Have a great weekend!

ETA: Here’s a in-depth feature on Tyler Mackie and the Bridge for Blankets project.

Garland, Garland, Garland…waterfall!

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I bound off Saturday night. Blocking to follow. (And I wish I could capture the awesome super-saturated bright blue-undertoned green of this, but I’ve tried, and apparently I can’t.)

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Cathy sent me this picture Saturday night. She’s on her last repeat. This color is called Madge. Love it!

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I saw Claudia at church yesterday. She bound off Saturday, too. I offered to block for her. Pictures soon!

You may think that I’m just sitting at home knitting, cooking and jamming, but it’s not so. We went for a family hike in the Columbia River Gorge on Saturday. The weather was spectacular, and so were the views. I think that’s the peak of Mt. Adams across the river in Washington.

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The destination Saturday was Upper McCord Creek Falls. These are twin waterfalls, but the one on the left is just a trickle at this time of summer.

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I saw a picture from early June, when both were full, on this hiker’s site. Maybe next year.

Nearby is Elowah Falls.

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How long until this rock is eroded away?

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A pipe that used to carry water down to a sawmill, long ago.

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We stood looking out over this ravine, watching hawks ride the thermals. They spiraled upward without flapping their wings. We also saw swallows? swifts? flitting about. Much more work for them. So cool to be above, looking down on the hawks. And I love how you can see that the gorge is laid down in strata over time.

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I’m not sure what the function of this is. A pipe goes in from the back, and it’s overflowing at the top and leaking at the side. But it’s cool looking. It’s right at the trailhead.

It’s hard to believe that this is just 45 minutes from home. If you’re local, you might find this gorge hike guide useful. I always pick the easy ones!

It was a beautiful day! I hope you’re enjoying your summer, too.

monogamous knitting

I’m back! I was traveling last week. I took two knitting projects with me. One was my Garland shawl, and the other was the beginning of a Filigree shawl.

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I guess I really am a monogamous knitter at heart. I only worked on the Garland shawl; I never even looked at the Filigree. I had been worried about trying to knit with beads on this trip, because we were spending a week on this 65 foot catamaran.

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(The Ouvea V)

Surprisingly, bead knitting wasn’t a problem, as long as I wasn’t knitting while we were actively sailing. Which is no time to be knitting, anyway.

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(hanging out at Monkey Point, Guana Island, a great snorkeling spot)

We were celebrating my mother-in-law’s significant birthday, and it was a blast. Our family of 10 spent a week in the British Virgin Islands on a crewed charter (captain, chef, hostess). It was a blissful week of sailing, snorkeling, and beaches.

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(The Baths at Virgin Gorda)

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(Above the Bubbly Pool at Diamond Cay, Jost Van Dyke)

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(DH getting away from it all, Benures Bay, Norman Island)

And sunsets…

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I found a couple of these little shells on the last beach of the trip (Benures Bay, Norman Island). So cute!

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It’s a coffeebean trivia (false cowrie). They’re about a centimeter long. They look like smiles on the other side.

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I brought them home and turned them into the centerpieces of a little keepsake project. Ankle bracelets, one for me and one for sis-in-law. These remind me of sand and the color of the sea when the sun is shining on shallow waters. (I had to drill holes in them to string them; I did that with a bead reamer.)

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The instructions for these beaded bracelets (or necklace, or whatever) are in my free Victoriana Bracelet pattern. They’re made with a crochet chain with a few beads worked in. Pick some beads and make one for yourself, and one for a friend!

Back to my Garland, and real life…

Same song, second verse…

I was hanging out with Lorajean the other day, labeling Knitted Wit yarn and fiber, because that’s how we roll. She was looking for something to feature at TNNA’s Sample It in June. I offered to re-work my Filigree scarf into a shawl, using her Shine merino/tencel yarn. Game on! This is a nice way for me to be present at TNNA since I can’t go this time, and a pretty way to highlight Shine.

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I’m knitting this in Knitted Wit Shine, colorway Silver Lining, which feels very appropriate for Filigree. In this picture from yesterday I’m 2/3 done with the lacy border, but in real life I’m way past that. I’m halfway done with the short row (no wraps!) crescent shaping. I should be finished tomorrow, and then I can block and measure, and update the pattern.

borders

Right now the pattern for Webfoot and Filigree Scarves includes both lace edgings. It’s a little confusing for linking on Ravelry. I’m planning to separate this pattern into two patterns, one for each edging. Each pattern will have instructions for shaping a long shallow scarf and a deeper, more traditionally shaped crescent shawl. If you’ve already purchased this pattern through Ravelry by the time I issue the update next week, you’ll get both the Webfoot and Filigree pattern updates as two separate patterns.

What else? More flowers are blooming in the garden. The clematis on the trellis on the front of my house is very happy this year.

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The first iris opened two days ago. The purple ones bloom first, and the yellow ones will bloom soon after that.

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This columbine self-sowed itself into the bed of irises. I don’t mind.

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By the way, this thing?

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It’s an alligator scute.

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Scutes are bony plates (osteoderms) inside an alligator’s skin. Inside, not under. They make the skin hard to penetrate, and they may also be involved in the alligator’s temperature regulation system. All that basking in the sun to warm up…

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OK, back to knitting! I want to finish this Filigree Shawl, and I also want to swatch a couple things to take to Amy Singer’s class on Saturday. Did you know Amy Singer of Knitty fame is coming to Portland? She’s doing three classes for Twisted on Saturday: Random Cables, Making the next Monkey (what makes a great pattern), and All About Knitty. There’s still space if you’d like to come. Call Twisted to register.

Happy spring!