Category Archives: travel

Spring has sprung/Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival is coming!

Ah, the first blush of spring. It made me think of this yarn, which has been waiting ever so patiently for inspiration. I’ve known forever that I want this to be long armwarmers, with a ruffled cuff, but just couldn’t see it yet.

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I don’t remember when it came to me. It’s from the now defunct Pico Accuardi Dyeworks, Francino, which is a lusciously soft 50% merino/25% bamboo/25% nylon blend. 100 grams/459 yards. The color is nude, and it reminds me of a maiden’s blush. I think Stevanie Pico hand painted this one. I’ve started playing with ideas for it. Wish me luck! Especially knitting the second one…

This makes me think of spring, too.

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It’s my March CSY yarn from Knitted Wit. It’s Bling, in Fuchsia Basket. I was at her house the other day to help her label yarn, and I named this one. There are four shades in this month’s CSY, all different percentages of the same dye, so they’re gradations of the same color. Sakura, Plum Blossom, Carnation Nation, and Fuchsia Basket, in order of intensity. Is one coming to you? I love the bling in Bling; it’s hard to see it in this size picture, but it sparkles in the full size pic on my iPad. You need to get some and see for yourself!

These colors also remind me that cherry blossom time is coming, along with the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in Hood River, April 19-21. It’s the third year for this festival, organized by Yvonne Ellsworth of Lavender Sheep. There is an enticing market which is open to the public, and admission is free. There are also great classes. I learned to steek last year in Mary Scott Huff’s class. Now I’m scheduled to teach two classes there, an expanded version of Tink Drop Frog (fixing mistakes, and more tips and tricks), and the Thrill of the Thrum, which will be a guided tour through my Thrumbelina slipper pattern, as well as a history of thrumming, practice thrumming, and lots of ideas on how else to use it.

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I hope you can come to the festival! Please sign up for workshops; they can’t happen unless we have a minimum number of students for each one.

But now, just a little more winter before we get into full on spring. I went cross country skiing with friends on Sunday at Teacup Lake on Mt. Hood. It rained at the end, but it was a fun outing.

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My 30 year old skis still work fine. They don’t get out much. Yes, those are old school 3 pin trap bindings. Relics!

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There are even more ancient ones on display in the little lodge.

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And this gray jay/camp robber/whiskey jack was happy to share our lunch. It came with a bunch of friends!

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What are you knitting for spring?

Git ‘er done

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Crafty Moms Weekend was great; it’s always nice to hang out with friends. Our kids have grown up so we’re no longer hanging out at soccer games and school concerts together. That means we were overdue to have the chance to catch up with each other. And I got a lot of knitting done, even if I had to rip out 7452 stitches. That project is finished and blocked, and the pattern is nearly done. But it won’t be a self-published pattern, so it will be a while before I can show it to you. I loved knitting it, and hope you will too, eventually. It was great Downton Abbey knitting! Fairly simple, with just enough going on to keep it interesting.

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I started a sweater for me. This is the beginning of the Honey cardigan by Veera Välimäki. The pattern is pretty straightforward and nicely written. I just haven’t decided if I like the yarn yet. It’s 45⁰ North Worsted in Pinot Noir, 100% Superwash Merino specially dyed for Twisted, but discontinued. I bought it on sale last week, knowing that I wanted a worsted weight cardigan. The yarn is nice, but different. It’s a tightly twisted 3-ply, and it almost feels like knitting with cotton rather than wool. I will knit a little further and see what I think. I am happily cabling along without a cable needle. Do you use a cable needle? For these 2×2 cables, I don’t really need one. Check out the tutorials on the sidebar if you want to know how you can ditch your cable needle, too.

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One more sunset!

Life’s A(nother) Beach

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Not Hawaii; this time I’m at the Oregon Coast for our annual Crafty Moms Weekend. This is the 10th annual gathering. There are 12 of us this year; some of us are knitting, others are sewing, beading, making cocktails. It was glorious yesterday when we arrived, 60 and sunny.

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The sunset was gorgeous.

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And this morning’s view was equally lovely, through the window as I knit. I love the reflection of clouds on the wet sand.

I just got to the finishing on half a scarf, and figured out I should have cast on 2 more stitches than I did. I had 2 prototypes but I knit from the graph and didn’t check which one, because i thought they were the same width. Oops. 7452 stitches, to the frog pond…

But first! The winners of the Lantern Moon silk needle cases are…Sheila and Stephanie! I’ll email you to get your snail mail addys. I also want to give a shout out to Sheila for her beautiful Mergoum shawl design. So lovely!

Life’s a Beach…

Well, perhaps not, but I did have a stellar beach getaway last week. I went to Hawaii, the Big Island, with a group of friends to help celebrate a birthday. No people pix, since I don’t have permission to share them. What happens in Hawaii stays in Hawaii! But I did take my knitting. Gotta work, you know!

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It’s a shawl; can’t you tell? I love all the blues in the water and the white sand at Manini’owali Beach at Kua Bay. This is a good beach for wave jumping.

Snorkeling was great (and easy) at Kahalu’u Beach, and rock hopping was even better for pictures.

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This guy was there all three days; sea turtles come up to bask in the sun on the rocks.

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My favorite fish, the Moorish Idol. They’re quick; it’s hard to get a decent picture from above. My second favorite fish? The humuhumunukunukuapua’a, or triggerfish, which is the state fish of Hawaii. I just like being able to say it, but it’s good looking, too.

We went to Buddha’s Cup to see how Kona coffee is grown, and had a very informative tasting session there. The grounds (ha!) are beautiful, as is Milo, the resident parrot.

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This is a jade vine. It comes in this unusual blue-green, and also fire-engine red.

Lots of different birds to spot here!

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These are my favorite birds, the saffron finches.

We saw many beautiful sunsets.

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And howled at the full moon.

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I happened to wake up early the next morning (6:30) and saw the full moon setting over the water. It was magical. I was so pleased to get this picture, a 7 second exposure. Who knew my little point and shoot could do that? It was left on the “night portrait” setting for the birthday candles from the night before. When I realized it could do a long exposure, I set the timer for a 2 second delay so I didn’t have to touch the camera to push the shutter button.

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The view from our lanai looked out over the water, with crashing waves on the lava rock below. It’s high whale season. We saw whales every day, sometimes heads, sometimes backs, and my favorite, the tail flip. It’s hard to catch a picture, though. Can you see the whale spouting in this picture?

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And here’s a whale of a tale for you. It happened on our last day in Hawaii. That afternoon, we were on the lanai, watching whales a half mile offshore: flukes, breeching, turning…thrilling. We saw a kayaker getting closer and closer to the whales. We weren’t sure it was a good idea to be that close. And then…

A whale swamped the kayak! The kayaker disappeared for a bit. We waited for him to surface, unsure of what to do. Eventually his head popped up, a tiny speck in the sea. We could tell with our binoculars that he didn’t have a life jacket, just his floating paddle. He didn’t return to his kayak, though. We knew that he couldn’t swim to shore where we were, because it was all rocks and crashing waves. He was trying to swim back to the marina, which is maybe a mile or more  away. We called 911, and they asked us to keep an eye on him while they sent a boat and had 2 helicopters on standby.

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Before 911 arrived, a small tour boat (zodiac) happened by and he waved them down. Can you see him in the picture above? His head is a tiny black speck in the big ocean, on  the same level as the boat, but 1/3 from the right edge of the picture. Zoom in! They picked him up and transferred him to the rescue skiff that showed up a few moments later. He looked happy to be rescued. The skiff took him back to get his kayak, because he wanted to bring it in, so apparently he was ok.

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Tour boat on left, rescue skiff at center, and kayak is just to the right of the skiff.

We ran into some firefighters at the grocery store later and got the scoop from them. The kayak was broken. The kayaker had some minor scrapes on his arm from the broken kayak, but nothing too serious. He probably could have made it back swimming, eventually, but it was good that we called. It’s a good idea to stay away from the whales, and maybe smarter to stay with the kayak to avoid SHARKS! (We hadn’t even thought about sharks. Yikes.) And apparently no one wears life vests here (except me).

We were glad to see the kayaker live to see another adventure. 60 years old; I wonder how many of his nine lives he’s used so far? We think we should go back every year to monitor the whales and the kayakers!

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2013

Mark your calendars! The Rose City Yarn Crawl is coming. This year’s crawl will feature 18 shops in the Portland metro area February 28-March 3.

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Each of the 18 shops will have a prize basket with goodies donated by sponsors, plus something from the shop. You can enter to win a basket in each of the shops. If you make it to all the shops and fill out your shop passport, you can enter to win the grand prize basket.

Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit and I are teaming up and donating a fun little project for this year’s baskets.

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These are my new Daffy Taffy Twists, knit with Knitted Wit’s Gumballs, mini-skeins of fingering weight superwash merino. I wrote the pattern especially for this event, and it will be available here on the blog soon. I just need to reformat it so it’s not a postcard! It ties in with Lorajean’s theme: Treat yourself!

Check out the yarn crawl buzz on Facebook and Twitter. You can follow the fun on the Rose City Yarn Crawl Facebook page, or on twitter. You’ll find the full shop list and more information on the Rose City Yarn Crawl website.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s crawl; I missed last year’s because I was in Nicaragua. See you soon!

Paris, je t’aime

My favorite city in the world. We’d been there once before, nine years ago. This time we rented a tiny apartment in the Marais. On our first walk out, we found ourselves at the Pompidou Center, just a few blocks away.

That evening, we went for a walk and saw these dancers at the Hotel de Ville. Tango?

We crossed the Seine, and found ourselves at Notre Dame.

I love Paris. It’s ancient and modern at the same time. And I have a weakness for cathedrals, palaces, and iconic monuments like Les Invalides and the Arc de Triomphe. Why don’t we have more monuments here? (Um, because Napoleon’s not around to build monuments to his own glory?) My favorite:

Especially at night.

Or any time.

We took a side trip to Reims to visit Champagne caves and the cathedral there. Notre Dame de Reims is even more airy gothic than Notre Dame de Paris. What a difference a century made, as they were figuring out the engineering in the 12th and 13th centuries.

So different from the Romanesque St. Germain des Pres in Paris, dating from about 1014.

Check out these bottles at Taittinger. A normal champagne bottle is second from the right.

95,000 bottles of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne.

Back in Paris, behind Notre Dame, we saw this bridge that was covered with locks. Apparently couples commemorate their love this way.

We even saw locks on the statues on the Pont Alexandre III. (This bridge is another over-the-top monument to past glory.)

Fabrice Risi runs an excellent ice cream cart at the north end of the bridge. I really only wanted a bottle of water, but he gave us a sample of his mango ice cream and I was hooked. It tasted like fresh mangoes! But I opted for chocolate instead. Divine.

I enjoyed the charm of circular staircases. This one is at end of 284 steps at the Arc de Triomphe, looking down…

And this one is at Taittinger, looking up.

We loved the Rodin Museum. Of course, I had to do this:

Don’t miss my post on yarn shopping at La Droguerie! I didn’t see anyone knitting in public, but local mass transit wasn’t really optimal for it. I did knit on trains between cities, finishing a shawlette that I ripped out when I came home. (It’s done now, and I love it. I’m knitting version B now. Post soon.)

Travel note: I loved having apartments in Amsterdam and Paris, and would highly recommend this if you’re staying more than two nights. We had wireless internet in both, and a washing machine/dryer in Paris. It’s so nice to be able to have breakfast (and sometimes happy hour) at “home” instead of having to go out for every meal. It was also less expensive than a hotel for us in both cities.

It was fun to be a part of a neighborhood. I had my favorite boulangerie, wine shop, cheese shop, and produce stand. I had a little game going with myself. The object was to go in, greet the shopkeeper, have a little interaction/conversation and keep it all in French from beginning to end. Most of the time I was successful, but on my third visit to the wine shop, I thought I had counted exact change, but I wasn’t quite right. I stood there, befuddled, with a handful of coins. The shopkeeper helpfully plucked the correct change from my palm, and said, “thank you.” Busted!

Fashion note: Animal prints are everywhere, and I love them. First of all, my boots from Bruges.

One print item is usually enough, but the woman in front of me in the passport control line had a leopard print bag AND zebra print shoes.

This huge billboard at Histoire d’Or on Rue de Rivoli intrigued me enough that I went in to price the watch.

He didn’t have any in stock, but they were due in the next week, and cost 199 euro. Too rich for me! He gave me a card so I could call him back…in French.

September in the rear view mirror

DH and I went to Europe last month to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We started in Amsterdam, where we rented an apartment on the Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal).

It was across the canal about two blocks north of Westerkerk, the church in the picture, and the Anne Frank House. The churchbells ring every 15 minutes, 24/7, which is tough on the jet-lagged. But they were a comfort to Anne Frank, reminding her there was a world outside her hiding place. The Anne Frank House was a very sobering, moving exhibit.

We had a great time in Amsterdam. It has a laid-back, Portland kind of vibe. I love the mix of old and new; many of the houses are from the 17th century. Our apartment was in a canal house on the edge of the Jordaan district, and there was always something fun going on nearby. We stumbled on the Rock Arkiv our first night in town. It’s actually a gallery that sells pictures, but this was going on outside.

What else is Amsterdam/the Netherlands known for?

Delicious cheese.

Bikes as real transportation. These are parked at Centraal Station (train station), and don’t include the 3 story bike parking garage I’m standing on.

Tulips. I wanted to bring some of these ice cream tulip bulbs home, but they’re not cleared for export to the USA yet. The shop owner said I’d have to smuggle them in. Um, no thanks. I’d look too guilty!

I accidentally found a yarn shop when I was walking around the neighborhood. This is De Afstap, a cute little shop. Lots of Rowan yarns, but nothing I can’t get at home. No one tried to chat me up there, so I just made a quick tour and went on my way.

From Amsterdam we went to Bruges/Brugge, Belgium via train.

Unfortunately, DH had a mishap getting off the train in Antwerp, so he ended up on crutches for a few days. (Socialized medicine was pretty efficient. And I went to the pharmacy and pantomimed crutches. It worked!) We didn’t climb the bell tower, which was the one thing we really wanted to do (366 steps). The tower dates back to the 1300’s.

But we did tour the town by carriage. I left DH in the hotel room to rest while I took a quick look around.

Just another beautiful canal view, with the bell tower. (Thanks to Rick Steves, who notes this picture perfect view in his guidebook.)

I love this alley, which reminds me of scenes from the Tudors.

I went to Dumon for chocolates. These were my favorite of this trip. Leonidas was a close second. I think I need a larger sample size, though.

I bought some boots to celebrate that DH’s foot wasn’t broken. (Picture in next post; this one is getting too long…)

Next stop, Paris!

I bought yarn I didn’t need

But wait, I can explain! I did it for the experience. Yes, the experience!

I went to La Droguerie, in Paris. I had read about them online, and it’s a very different experience than visiting a US shop.

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This shop is located at 9 and 11 Rue du Jour, just off Rue Rambuteau, right next to Les Halles. It’s a 15 minute walk from our apartment in le Marais. Pictures are not allowed inside, but here’s a view from across the street.

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You can see that the yarn hangs in hanks along the walls, but these are just samples of the yarn by type and color. I decided I wanted linen, which they carry in about DK weight, in a deep purple (violet, but I think of it as eggplant). I asked for it in French, 200 grams. The clerk went to the back wall, climbed a ladder, brought down a cone, and wound off the required amount.

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It’s really not this blue; I can’t get the camera to capture the eggplant-iness of it.

The rest of the store is lovely, too. There’s a wall of buttons, and if you want some, they get them out of wooden boxes and drawers for you. There are jars of beads, and you have to ask for them; they’ll get those out for you, too. Definitely not US do-it-yourself, but a fun experience. And now I have some lovely French linen to play with!

Still one at a time…

I’m trying to work on more than one project at a time, but so far it’s just not in me.

I re-finished the sleeves on the Raspberry Vodka Lemonade, and they’re perfect. It was worth ripping them both back. I took the lazy way out and only re-blocked the sleeve ends. Modeled shot later, when there’s a photographer around. And see the freshly washed roving in the bag? It’s in the queue.

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I’m knitting almost exclusively on the Blueberry half Pi shawl. I was going to knit this on my beloved Lantern Moon ebony circulars, but I quickly found that I needed a pointier tip to work with laceweight yarn. Lorajean let me borrow her HiyaHiya sharps, and that seemed to do the trick, so I bought my own.

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But metal needles are soooooo slippery for this loose knitter! After tinking 600 stitches because I kept messing up the tink, I am back on track. I wonder if I’d have a better time with sharp wooden or bamboo needles to reduce the slip factor, but I don’t want to switch now in case it changes my gauge. I’m 100 rows in and not going back, thank you very much.

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This isn’t really much to look at yet, but I know that blocking will transform this duckling into a beautiful swan.

I do need to set this down and get a few other things going, but I’m not very good at juggling projects. We shall see…

What else is going on? Summer has arrived, today, threatening to hit 100 degrees. It’s the first time we’ve been over 90 this year. I’m hanging out inside, in the A/C. But yesterday I took a jaunt down the Old Columbia River Highway with a friend, and we stopped at several waterfalls. All except Ponytail Falls are right on the highway, so it’s a very scenic drive.

Wahkeena Falls:

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Multnomah Falls:

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Oneonta Gorge. No photo; the end of the gorge isn’t particularly picturesque.

Horsetail Falls (I hiked there last month, too):

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Ponytail Falls (see Pattie under the rock overhang?):

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We heard rustling in the foliage, and saw this little guy:

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For all of you baking in the heat across North America, here’s a little refreshment at Wahkeena Fails!

And I am finally (!) sending out my handmade pay-it-forward goodies. I made them last night, and liked them so much I made one for myself, too. I hope that Susan, Rebecca, and Denise enjoy their handmade gifts, and wonder if they were more timely in mailing theirs out than I was! I haven’t received mine from Mimi yet, so I know that I’m not the only one falling behind.

How are you keeping cool? Can you stand to knit with wool?

Hedging my bets

I finished knitting my Raspberry Vodka Lemonade, and the entire time I was knitting the sleeves, I wondered if I had made it too small. I tend to second-guess myself when I’m nearing the end of something, and it takes all my will-power to push through. Thoughts of completely frogging the piece, or even just abandoning it, dance through my head as I knit on and on.

I’ve learned my lesson about ease in sweaters; too much ease just makes it look like my sweater is wearing me. But I was afraid that I might have gone overboard this time in my quest for a flattering fit with zero or minimal ease. I’m hoping that the seed stitch bands will relax a bit and cover just a bit more in the front.

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Which they did. Now I’m just waiting for it to dry so I can try it on again. But you’ll notice that I haven’t sewn in my ends yet…in case I have to frog! But look how delicious all the subtle color shadings are in this Damson colored Luminous DK (85/15 Polwarth wool/Tussah silk) from Sincere Sheep.

While I’m waiting, I’ll show you pictures from our Tuesday hike. We did the Horsetail Falls Loop hike in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s an easy 2.6 mile hike with views of 3 waterfalls. It begins and ends at Horsetail Falls, which is 192 feet high and right off the Historic Columbia River Highway.

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There’s a trail that wanders up to Ponytail Falls, which feeds Horsetail Falls.

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This part of the trail goes behind the falls, which lends a great perspective.

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The third waterfall on this hike is Middle Oneonta Falls. (There are three: Upper, Middle, and Lower)

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Lots of greenery along the way…

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…as well as some not as green things.

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I like how the drops of sap look like beads on knitting. (It always comes back to knitting, doesn’t it?)

The end of the hike loops back to Horsetail Falls, where we spent some time hanging by the splash pool. I used to bring the kids here on hot summer days, a long time ago.

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It was nice to get re-acquainted with the falls, and to do something completely different!

I’ll let you know about the Vodka Lemonade after I try it on…