Category Archives: travel


I’m knitting away at my String Theory. It feels endless. This is great TV knitting, but I don’t watch enough TV to get a lot done. I could probably stop now, but what would I do with the leftovers? We’ll see who wins: the bored me or the thrifty me.


It doesn’t look very exciting yet. The fun will be in the finishing. I can’t wait to get to that part, so the bored me may win out and stop soon. I wish I had taken this project for car knitting last Sunday.

My friend V invited me to go cross-country skiing at Teacup Lake on Mount Hood (or Wy’East, as it was named by the Multnomah tribe). I hadn’t been skiing in about 25 years, since before we moved to New York and back. I do still have my same 30 year old equipment. I’m happy to say it’s all still quite serviceable, although a bit antiquated. Remember 3 pin rat-trap bindings? Got ‘em!


It turned out to be a gorgeous day, with none of the forecasted snow or rain. The sun even came out for a while.

the road

I saw a hill that backcountry skiers had been on. The telemark lines look like knitting cables…


It was very nice to get out for the day.

(Mount Hood in the rearview mirror)

How was your weekend?

A little more Nicaragua

Before we left Managua for our worksite, we had a history lesson and a whirlwind tour of Managua. The old portion of the town was hurt badly by the December 1972 earthquake; modern Managua has grown up around it. At the Plaza de la Revolucion, the Catedral Vieja (Catedral Santiago de los Caballeros) is not safe to enter; the outside is still striking, though.


The clock on the tower is stuck at 12:35 a.m., the time of the earthquake.


We went up to the Parque Historica overlooking Laguna Tiscapa (a volcanic crater lagoon); from this high point you can see a lot of relatively flat Managua. There is an enormous silhouette of Nicaraguan hero Augusto Sandino up there.


During our work week, we met the vice mayor and mayor of San Lorenzo, the town we stayed in. We also visited a health clinic and a school, where we donated school supplies. These visits were interesting and informative, and gave us a better idea of life in Nicaragua.

city hall, San Lorenzo

emergency room at the clinic

maternity house, where 4 moms-to-be wait for their time

1st-3rd grade. The 2 room school house has grades 4-6 in the other room, about 60 students total.

After our work week in the village, we spent Friday night at Aguas Claras, a hot springs resort. It was a step up from our hotel in San Lorenzo: hot water! No shower heads on the shower pipes, though, and oddly stained sheets. The many swimming pools full of hot water were lovely. I have no pictures of them, just of this gecko who joined us for breakfast.


The next morning, we headed for Volcan Masaya National Park, home of a steaming, active volcano.


There is a cross up on the hill overlooking the volcano. The first cross placed at this volcano was erected in the early 1500′s, meant to drive the devil out of the smoking inferno. It’s still smoking.


That afternoon brought us to the colonial city of Granada. Our hotel was right across the street from Iglesia Guadelupe, which dates from 1626. On Sunday morning, the bells start ringing at 5:30 a.m., then at 5:45, then a long clamorous tintinnabulation at 6 to call people to church. 200 people in church at 6 a.m.!


I felt a distinct culture shock on arriving here. Hotel Granada is sprawling and beautiful. The rooms were lovely, with ceiling fans, nice beds, real pillows that didn’t feel like they were full of lumpy mashed potatoes, nice tiled bathrooms with hot and cold running water and showerheads, a piano in the high-ceilinged stone-walled restaurant, and a fabulous swimming pool. After a week in the country, I felt stunned that a hotel could be this nice. Heavenly!


We toured the Antiquo Convento San Francisco in the afternoon.


Lots of history here, including a mural of the history of Nicaragua, and an impressive gallery of pre-Columbian statuary from Zapatera Island.


(Edvard Muench’s Scream? Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone?)

And if that’s not enough in a day, we also took a boat tour of Las Isletas in Lake Nicaragua. You can see Volcan Mombacho in the background.


Yes, monkeys, but imported, not native to the tiny island they live on.

Nests of weaver birds, oro pendula.


Sunday morning took us to Laguna de Apoyo, a volcanic crater lake, for swimming. This was a gorgeous place to decompress before heading home.


In the afternoon, we headed to the craft market in Masaya. This platter came home with me. It’s by Jose Ortiz of San Juan de Oriente, titled el Volcan. I love it. It will always remind me of my time in this beautiful country of volcanoes.


Many thanks to our guides from el Porvenir. They made the week perfect.


Driver Jairo, Tania in Managua and Granada, Marcos all week as interpreter/guide/general all around helpful guy, Catalina all week organizing, and cooking our lunches in the village.

I’ll close with a video of some of the girls singing at our worksite. They dissolved into giggles when watching the playback of this on my camera!

And now, back to my knitting…

Hola, Nicaragua!

It’s been two weeks, and I’ve hardly knit a stitch. But I have a good excuse…


I went on a service trip with a group from my church, through el Porvenir (the Future). El Porvenir works in partnership with the rural poor of Nicaragua through sustainable self-help water, sanitation, and reforestation projects. Our mission last week? To build a lavandero (bathing and laundry/wash station) next to the community well in a rural village. Our worksite was pretty remote, about 45 minutes from our very basic small town hotel (no hot water or daily, or even weekly, housekeeping service) down the highway, through a tinier town, over 6 river crossings (some dry, some not),


into the hills along the back roads,


through a spent cornfield, and into a grouping of a few houses.


There is no running water in these houses; water is fetched from the well about 200 yards up a foot path. No indoor plumbing, but el Porvenir has worked with this community before. All the houses have latrines behind them, and the well was also an el Porvenir project two years ago. There is no electricity in the village, except for one house that has a single solar panel.


Enough for some light during the winter, and probably a source of charging for the cell phones! Yes, there are 2 bars of signal from Claro Nicaragua. I thought I’d be completely off the grid, but I guess not.

The kitchen of the house where we had lunch each day was basic, but enough.


It even had a hen and her chicks, who were too young to be in the yard with the rest of the animals.



I love this picture; it looks completely unfocused, but each area has something going on. On the left, on the machete-crafted sawhorses, we’re making reinforcement beams with rebar, rods, and wire, that will be filled with concrete. Directly behind that people are digging for the foundation slab. On the right you can see the blocks that will become the walls of the lavandero, and behind those are people bending metal rods to make squares to shape the reinforcement beams. The kids helped us cut thin wire to wire the squares to the rebar, and men of the village helped with the concrete work. The women also helped shovel, and gather rocks to fill in the base for the concrete slab. This is what I found most impressive about an el Porvenir project. We didn’t come in to build a lavandero for this community; they worked alongside us to do it. Our contribution, more than anything, was to purchase the materials so that they could make this happen.


Building materials were carried up to the worksite by wheelbarrow, pack horse, or hands. The stone blocks in the previous picture came up by horse. Another feature of the worksite? Free-roaming cattle and chickens!



But the best part of the project? Meeting the children. Even though my Spanish is very limited, and their English was even more limited, we became friends. We read stories in Spanish (Eres mi Mama? Are You My Mother? Big Dog, Little Dog…the older kids helped me with my reading) and worked together.

Elieser and his brother Osman took turns taking care of baby brother Egner.

Evert was a source of fun, always!

Elieser and Owen, and Jazz Hands with Gloves.

Jamileth with brother Carlos Manuel and Egner.

Mariela at the well.

Me and my wire cutting brigade!

We also met the matriarch of the community, Hermenegilda, who’s 95. Her son Jose Angel is on the left, and one of her daughters (didn’t catch her name) is on the right. Hermenegilda is related to everyone in the community.


We knew we wouldn’t finish this project in the time we had there, but the community will get it done. Eventually it will look like this one:


But when we left it looked like this:


I’m happy to say I helped build these shower walls!


My brigada (brigade):



And a couple of pictures from the road.



We spent a lot of time trying to get just the right picture of this rocky mountain. It’s hard to get a good picture when you’re standing in the back of a moving pickup truck!

And how was your week? Did you miss me? What did you do while I was gone?

Out of my comfort zone

The key to my current project.


Yes, size 15. But at least they’re ebony. I’m not enjoying this as much as I thought I would; something about P2tog tbl is really not very comfortable with giant needles and super bulky yarn. But this pattern was so cute, I had to try. It’s the Leif Slipover by Adrienne Larsen from the winter Interweave Knits. The pattern actually calls for size 17 (12 mm) needles, but gauge is everything, right?

mag pic

I thought I’d get most of it knit this weekend while I’m away, because the yarn is so bulky, but working with charts and multiple P2tog tbl is slowing me down. When your needles are size 15, certain accomodations are required. Stitch markers? How about some yarn ties?


It’s Crafty Moms Weekend, so I’m at the Oregon Coast with 10 of my favorite people, and one of my favorite views outside the window.


It’s been really stormy this weekend, but it cleared enough for a walk today.


I love these little jellyfish dots; they’re about the size of a nickel.


A very different view from last week’s!

ala wai sunset close

Oh! One other sighting from last week. We went to Morimoto Waikiki for dinner on a whim, since it was only a block from our hotel. We’d been there in December at CollegeKiddo’s request, but Chef Morimoto wasn’t there. (He was there a week later for the Obamas.) There weren’t any tables available, but there was room at the sushi bar. DH wasn’t wild about sitting at the sushi bar. I thought it would be fun to watch the sushi chef.

morimoto 2

It was Masaharu Morimoto himself! Way cool. Do you watch Iron Chef? CollegeKiddo introduced me to it; it’s a fun show.


Beautiful, silky sashimi stacks. Oh, pro tip: Don’t finish your dinner at high end Hawaiian restaurants. The takeaway bags are lovely. Heavyweight paper, lovely chopsticks.


Our favorite meal was at Alan Wong’s. The bag isn’t as lovely, but we had the five course tasting menu, and each dish was exquisite. I couldn’t finish!

alan wong

OK, back on topic. Have you knit with big fat needles? Do you like them? Any tips for me, other than taking breaks?

Honolulu whirlwind

Last week DH had a project in Honolulu. I took advantage of his location and headed over on Thursday for the end of his work week. His hotel room faced the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor; this is the view from the window.

ala wai sunset

It’s just down the block from the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where I found this dragon on the beach.


I actually did do some knitting on the beach, too.


I wanted to visit a yarn store, so I picked Yarn Story. (Thank you Google.) I met the owner Kim, in her second floor space on King Street. She has a good selection of yarn, but I wanted something that I couldn’t get at home. This cute package holds my purchases.

yarn story

This yarn is from a local hand-dyer, Nadezhda’s Crayon Box. I have lots of access to hand-dyed wool, but this is the first time I’ve come across hand-dyed rayon/cotton. This color is Pink Lipstick and Pearls, pretty much not me, but I know a young lady who will love it. (Hi, e!)


Kim was knitting with some gorgeous deep sky blue 100% cashmere that Nadezhda is debuting…next week. I asked if she had another ball because I would have bought that luscious softness right then and there, but no luck. I guess I’ll have to go back.

This Romney wool roving is from Hawaiian Homegrown Wool Co. on the Big Island. It’s not as smooth as merino, but lofty and bushy. It will either go into thrums or maybe I’ll drop spindle it…or just put it in a basket and admire it. Kim says that this is the only commercial wool to come from anywhere in Hawaii.


We drove up to the North Shore, just for grins. Apparently lunch from a shrimp truck is a must-do. Giovanni’s was highly recommended, and it was delicious.


We stopped in at Turtle Bay Resort to check out the north shore waves, which are much bigger than those in Waikiki. Gorgeous! The beach is also nice, with deep coarse sand. No beach pic, though…

turtle bay

turtle bay splash

turtle dude

We did spend some time on Waikiki Beach on our last day, near the Duke Kahanamoku statue. I love how people leave him lei tributes every day.


Back to cold and rainy Oregon!


Sorry for the radio silence; I’ve been on the road! I found a dragon…guess where? More on that next post.


I had my 15 seconds of fame on the Oregonian News Network as the featured blogger this week. Check out the other featured bloggers; we’re the first five and I’m in good company. I especially love GoodStuffNW who blogs about food and other wonderful things.

I ran up to Madrona yesterday; it was my first time. It’s going on all weekend, so go if you get a chance. I couldn’t do classes, but I checked out the market and hung out in the rotunda for a bit. Here’s what I saw.

HazelKnits yarn at Fiber Gallery. I don’t stash, but the colors were so rich, I couldn’t resist. I had a hard time deciding which to take. Both of these are my colors.


Guess which one I bought?


All three! Splish Splash, Hoppy Blonde, Jam Session. All in Artisan Sock. They won’t be socks, but look for a shawl, perhaps, in one or a combo of colors…eventually. While in line to check out, I chatted with Nicole. Her scarf had the same colors as the one I was wearing (my fingering weight Infinity scarf). She held my yarn so I could take her picture. She’ll be making an Infinity of her own!


Cathy and I also delivered a skein of Scrumptious From Lantern Moon to Fiber Gallery; they’re carrying Ysolda’s special selection of colors.


I saw one other yarn that really wanted to come home with me. It’s from Blue Cocoon Yarn. I think it’s called Cocoon, and it has big bulky slubs plied in. They’re really squishy. I can’t imagine knitting anything with it, but I can definitely imagine draping it around my neck as art. Really pretty. But I’d already bought non-project specific yarn, so it stayed right where it was. Gorgeous, though.


I loved the glass knitting needles from Michael and Sheila Ernst; I tried these at Sock Summit last summer, and they’re really smooth and surprisingly sturdy. These are their “don’t drop spindles.” They’re beautiful, but take heed of the name; they’re not nearly as sturdy as the needles!

dont drop

I met the very charming Laura Lundy of Slipped Stitch Studios. She has great bags and pattern keepers. I won a pattern keeper recently, so it was fun to meet Laura in person.


Oh! June Hemmons Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting is out, and I saw it in person. It’s huge. I may have to get a copy.


And I saw a very striking woman with fiber in her hair; it was gorgeous.


In the rotunda at lunch, I saw Brian Kohler using this walking wheel. Very cool. I was trying to wrap my head around how it related to my drop spindles, and he explained it very patiently. I’m still not sure I get it, but it was fascinating.

walking wheel

We met Josie, who was helping in Catherine Lowe‘s booth. She was wearing the most gorgeous sweater, her own version of the cover sweater from Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting.


There are no sewn seams on this masterpiece sweater; all seams are done with three needle bind off. On the side seams, she picked up stitches along the edges of each piece, and then used three needle bind off to make a decorative seam on the outside of the garment (wrong sides together). I went back to find her in the marketplace, to ask, “May I take a picture of your seams?” Only at a knitting conference, and of course she said yes.


We also met Erika, who was knitting a sweater with her own handspun. I don’t have a picture of her, sorry. But she had just come from a class with Lucy Neatby, where she learned many cool tips and tricks, including Lucy’s Modified Conventional Bindoff. Check out the link; it’s ingenious and looser than the conventional bindoff. Thanks, Erika!

Whew! That’s just yesterday. I’ll have to go back in time to tell you about last weekend’s adventures. What do you have planned for this weekend? Madrona is calling you!

Mele Kalikimaka!

I missed this picture when I was sorting last week, but somehow it’s more appropriate today.

Mele Kalikimaka! I hope Santa is getting some R&R time, somewhere. And I hope that you are having a peaceful day with friends and family.

Never enough Aloha

Let’s see, where was I? Oh, paradise!

Friday we went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. The bay was formed thousands of years ago when the southeast wall of Hanauma Crater eroded away. This is a perfect gentle snorkeling experience. Shallow waters, lots of colorful fish and coral. What’s not to like? Even swimming averse me had a great time.



I don’t have a lot of pictures from this day, because the real show was underwater!

Saturday began with a parade on Kalakaua Avenue, just below our lanai. It was the Hawaii Heroes and Veterans Parade, complete with troops and marching bands.


We went to Chinatown at noon and found it to be…underwhelming. But I think we’re pretty jaded (hah!) because we love San Francisco’s Chinatown. It’s hard to top that one. Saturday turned into a shopping day, which was fine, and gave CollegeGrad a chance to catch up with his college buddies. Nice to have friends living in Hawaii!

Sunday started out with a double rainbow over the water. Can you see the second one to the left of the bright one?


We chose this day to have breakfast from McDonald’s, which was just down on the corner. Portuguese sausage, spam, eggs, and rice! Is this at your local McD’s? About 25 years ago, we had Portuguese sausage and rice for breakfast at a McDonald’s in Waikiki. I guess everything is super-sized now…I saved about half of it for the next day.


We had planned to go kayaking from Lanikai Beach, but our energy level wasn’t quite up to it, so we planned another hike instead. Our destination? Makapu’u Point, the easternmost point of the island. The trail is 1.75 miles long, and is hot and dry, and really windy on the eastern side of the point! I guess that’s why they call it the windward side of the island. The lighthouse at the point is stunningly beautiful, but it’s off limits to the public.


You look down at the lighthouse from the viewpoint at the end of the trail.


We saw a hang glider while we were at the viewpoint. He had a good time showing off for us.



On the way back down, we saw a rainbow, skimming over the water towards us. I love the little rain shower under the arc of the rainbow. It was a three rainbow day!


I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. It was just what this empty nester needed, face time with my family. I suppose we could have been anywhere, as long as it was away (too many distractions and comings and goings at home), but this was perfect.


Mele Kalikimaka! And I knit all the way home…

Aloha, Oahu!

It’s been an interesting year. Youngest son went off to college across the country, and DH does a fair amount of travel in his work. My nest is pretty empty sometimes! When CollegeGuy left, I planned a trip for his winter break return. I knew we’d all need some face time. Last week we traveled to Honolulu for some fun in the sun.


The Occupy Portland camp may be shut down, but there’s still an Occupy Honolulu.

Our first night’s sunset was spectacular, but then they all were. We were in a 12th floor condo in Waikiki, facing west.



The next day we hiked to the top of Diamond Head (760 ft at the summit), the volcanic crater that overlooks Waikiki. You can see the hotels in the background. The views were spectacular all the way around.


The boys (young men?) took advantage of this old winch to pose for one of their “vacation murder” shots. Someday I’ll post the collection…


And that afternoon, we played on the beach at Waikiki and looked back up to where we had been.


Thursday we paid our respects at the USS Arizona Memorial. The Arizona was sunk in the raid on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that drew the US into World War II. The memorial is a simple white structure which spans the submerged hull of the ship, where 1102 sailors are still entombed. It’s a stark, somber place, beautiful in its simplicity. The ship itself still leaks oil from its tanks; it bubbles up and spreads across the water. There is an estimated 500,000 gallons of oil aboard the ship, which is monitored for environmental hazard.


We also toured the USS Missouri, which is berthed next to the Arizona. The Missouri was the site of the signing of the Formal Instrument of Surrender that ended World War II, so the ships are bookends of the war. The end of our visit found us looking at the Arizona Memorial, the guns of the Missouri, and…a rainbow. Somehow fitting, I thought.


I did have time for some knitting on this trip; I took Thrumbelina with me. This is the Madeline Tosh Merino yarn that I showed you a few posts ago. It’s dreamy to knit with, but easier to split with my needle than the Malabrigo Worsted.



It wasn’t too warm on the lanai to knit with thrums!
More vacation in the next post…


I’m doing one Christmas knitting project. Just one. It’s under control; I’ll have it done tonight. It’s Thrumbelina for a friend. I took it on vacation with me, but I wasn’t sure how it would do on a plane. Big hint: Turn off the overhead air vent when making thrums; they like to fly!


There was also a little breeze here, but it was pretty manageable. And the birds didn’t try to steal the thrums.

I’ll tell you about the trip in the next post, but here’s my obligatory Lantern Moon sheep tape measure vacay pic:


How is *your* Christmas knitting? Almost done? Only four knitting days left!