Category Archives: travel

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.

P1060211

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.

P1060220

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.

P1060219

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:

IMG_2664

Multnomah Falls:

IMG_2666

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

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

IMG_2669

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

IMG_2685

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

IMG_2677

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.

VL blocking

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.

P1060136

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

P1060111

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

P1060115

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

P1060128

Lots of greenery along the way…

P1060130

…as well as some not as green things.

P1060122

P1060132

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.

P1060141

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…

Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle

Oh! I was so excited about TNNA and my new iPad, I forgot to tell you about last week’s little jaunt to the Emerald City. I went up for a piano friend’s birthday dinner, and had the afternoon to myself beforehand. I ended up at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle Center, a stunning new exhibit right next to the Space Needle.

CGG9

I love the Space Needle. It’s so iconic, much like my beloved Eiffel Tower. This is the view from the Glasshouse, a large area with these glass flowers suspended from the ceiling. Wouldn’t this be a great place for a party? The exhibit has both indoor and outdoor elements. One of the first things you see indoors is this towering piece.

CGG2

A closer look reveals that it’s an incredibly detailed seascape.

CGG1

There’s a room with glass pieces in the ceiling, much like the Chihuly Bridge of Glass at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.

CGG4

CGG3

The room leads to this view through a doorway.

CGG5

Which draws you in to this:

CGG6

CGG7

My favorite piece is below. It’s two boats, one filled with round balls like Japanese fishing floats, and the other…well, you tell me what they are. I love the way the boats are reflected in the floor. They’re bigger than they appear in the picture, maybe 8 or 9 feet long, each?

CGG8

There’s a beautiful garden outside, too. I love how the Space Needle is reflected by so many shiny surfaces.

CGG10

CGG11

It was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Birthday dinner was fun, too. A very nice quick getaway. OK, back to TNNA prep!

How hot was it?

Maybe a little *too* hot to be knitting with worsted. 96 degrees, and the humidity was right up there. But I tried!

IMG_2329

We went to St. Louis to celebrate my father-in-law’s big birthday (no numbers, per his request). It’s definitely summer in St. Louis! While we were there, we took in a Cardinals game. Cards won against the Phillies, 3-8.

Dad (Neil) had a birthday greeting on the scoreboard, which was pretty cool. (As I said, no numbers. It was his ??th birthday.)

P1050992

I played with the picture a bit. Maybe not exactly how it happened, but this sums up the event:

funshop1

And when I came home, look what was waiting for me!

Untitled

3 skeins of polwarth/silk dk weight yarn from Sincere Sheep. I bought a subscription in the {Among Friends} yarn/pattern club that she’s doing with Knitted Wit, but I didn’t need to knit yet another version of my Pointer Hat and Mitts (my design is the first offering in this club). I have a hankering to knit a sweet little cardigan for me, and this should give me enough to do so. I’m thinking of Thea Colman’s Vodka Lemonade, Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s Goodale, or Jennifer Thompson’s Garden Cardigan. Goodale is the KAL at JimmyBeansWool right now, but I’m not sure I’d like the shape on me. The Garden Cardi has leaves, and I always love botanical elements. Currently the Vodka Lemonade is winning my affection, but I’m not sure I love the collar. I do love that it’s top down and very customizable for length and shaping. What do you like? What I really like right now is that everything is possible! Beginnings are always fun.

But first, I need to finish the worsted project! Luckily, the Portland weather is a bit more cooperative for this.

20120529-222209.jpg

And this! Someone yarn bombed the stop sign by the school. It wasn’t me, but I like it. Looks to be at least a size 15 needle…

Did you knit over the weekend? What’s on your needles?

Road trips, and swatching

The week has flown by! The weekend is here and I’m still on last weekend, which I began at Menucha Retreat Center in Corbett, in the Columbia Gorge. This is spring on my side of the mountains…damp and cool.

gorge

step

I always walk the labyrinth at Menucha. It helps me quiet my busy mind, and focus. A meditation and a revelation, perfect.

center

I don’t remember ever seeing this much color in the mosaic stones before. I guess all that moisture can have its advantages.

color

And Diane became a new spinner! I’ll pass along a spindle to her; I have more than I need.

newspin

I went home Saturday night, and on Sunday morning I headed to the other side of the Cascade Mountains with my friend Vickie. We went to Kahneeta to hang out with her mom in her mom’s new RV. Nice digs.

lemondrop

The landscape is completely different over there, sunny and dry.

rocks

trees

cattails

The cattails reminded me of spindles, with their loads of fluff.

cattails2

The cottonwoods were shedding their loads of fluff, too, and it made me think I should try to spin that…

cottonwood

With all that fluff going on, you may ask if there was any knitting. Yes, a bit.

swatch

I’m going to call this swatching, mostly because I’ve completely frogged it. I’ve started and ripped three times now, as I hone in on what I want from this piece. There have been a lot of “aha!” moments. I’m about to start my last (I hope) rip, because now I think I know exactly what this needs. This time. Real swatching would be smart, but I get so excited about getting started, I just jump right in. Oops. We’ll just call them “very large swatches.” At least this yarn can put up with repeated froggings. I may be impetuous and lazy, but I’m stubborn, too, and I will prevail…

stubborn

The original colors, below. It turned out that the pale green in the variegated didn’t pop against the gray, so I had to choose a new background. It’s Violetas, also in Malabrigo worsted.

P1050895

On our way back over the mountains, we stopped up at Timberline Lodge for the view. Here’s Mt. Jefferson from the parking lot:

jeff
(Love that sky!)

jeff2

And Mt. Hood out the back window of the lodge, near the bar.

wyeast

The bar window is pretty cool looking, too.

bar glass

And now mama bird is home, for a while.

mamabird

What’s up for you this weekend? I think the boys (young men) are going to help me whip the back yard into shape. It’s Mother’s Day, and that means they’ll do it, even if it’s not their favorite thing to do! Don’t worry; I’m making a fabulous dinner as their reward…

On the road again…

Where have I been? Not knitting much. I took a trip to Orlando last week to see CollegeGuy. DH was in Orlando working on a project, so I thought I’d just go use his hotel room. I left on Tuesday, but got stuck in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport while waiting for a connecting flight, due to some tornados. I kid you not. At first they asked us to move away from the windows. Then to move to the center of the terminal. And then the sirens went off and they put us in the storm shelters (bathrooms).

IMG_2153

I was slightly amused by this, thinking it was a great bloggable moment, but then the storm came through (no tornado at the airport, thank goodness). The sky was really dark, the wind was howling, there was lightning, thunder, and golfball-sized hail bouncing off the windows. And that shut everything down for the night. No flights. When I saw the video of tractor trailers flying through the air, I realized it was way more serious than I had thought.

After a sleepless night in a hotel, more canceled flights, three re-bookings, and three standby lines, I was lucky to make it to Orlando Wednesday night, due to the kindness of an excellent ticket agent. I was flying first class on an award ticket, and she found a first class seat through Miami. I was too fried to knit, but at least it was a nice flight.

IMG_2162

I had 2 instead of 3 days to see the Kiddo, but we made the most of it. I took him to Cocoa Beach, because it’s the end of his freshman year and he still hadn’t been to a Florida beach.

IMG_2176

It was great to visit with Dee while Kiddo was in class. Look at the UCF Knights snowman she made for me. With beads!

P1050823

And the trip home was smooth and uneventful. Thank goodness. I knit an entire something, which I can’t show you until the next post. But soon!

How was *your* week?

Endless…

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.

endless

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!

wyeast

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…

telemark

It was very nice to get out for the day.

rearview
(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.

P1050111

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

P1050116

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.

P1050094

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.

P1050276
city hall, San Lorenzo

P1050320
emergency room at the clinic

P1050321
maternity house, where 4 moms-to-be wait for their time

P1050327
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.

P1050514

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

P1050523

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.

P1050537

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.!

P1050697

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!

P1050691

We toured the Antiquo Convento San Francisco in the afternoon.

P1050617

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

P1050605

P1050604
(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.

P1050676

P1050660
Yes, monkeys, but imported, not native to the tiny island they live on.

P1050669
Nests of weaver birds, oro pendula.

P1050638
fisherfolk

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

IMG_2085

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.

elvolcan

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

P1050568

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…

P1050453

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),

P1050164

into the hills along the back roads,

IMG_1994

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

P1050221

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.

P1050317

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.

P1050256

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

P1050312

P1050239

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.

P1050235

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!

P1050289

IMG_2019

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.

P1050300
Elieser and his brother Osman took turns taking care of baby brother Egner.

IMG_2016
Evert was a source of fun, always!

IMG_2060
Elieser and Owen, and Jazz Hands with Gloves.

IMG_2061
Jamileth with brother Carlos Manuel and Egner.

IMG_2013
Mariela at the well.

P1050233
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.

P1050306

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:

P1050285

But when we left it looked like this:

P1050459

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

IMG_2070

My brigada (brigade):

P1050442

P1050460

And a couple of pictures from the road.

P1050266

P1050201

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.

needles

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?

leif

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.

beach

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

jellyfish

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

jellydots

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.

sashimi

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.

morimoto

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?