Category Archives: travel

A whale of a new year, and more on Barbie knitting

Last week was Winter Whale Watch week at the Oregon Coast; gray whales are migrating down to Baja to their warmer winter waters. I went on a day trip with friends to try to catch a glimpse of them.

We ended up at Ecola State Park, which has gorgeous views. You can see Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach from here.

We didn’t see any whales/spouts, so I made this picture to commemorate the day.

Along the way, I had this very happy lap full of rainbow knitting. This is a project with Knitted Wit, due in late February. It’s her #glowupknittedwit rainbow mini skeins, paired with a skein of Oregon Sky. The base is Knitted Wit Fingering.

It was the perfect knit for a drizzly day. The project is done and currently blocking; I love how it turned out. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you soon.

Thanks for all your comments on the previous Barbie knits post. I was wondering just what kind of skating outfit was in that Knitting for Barbie canister, so I googled “knit 2 piece barbie skating outfit” and found this pattern page on Ravelry. It’s a 1962 pattern for a sweater and skinny pants. There’s a picture of the printed pattern, and more googling found a copy of the pattern posted on an old blogspot blog.

The instructions are extensive and quite bossy, with a header that says DO ONE STEP AT A TIME — DO NOT READ AHEAD and a footer that says DO NOT PUT YOUR WORK DOWN BEFORE YOU FINISH THE ROW YOU’RE WORKING ON. The pattern is aimed at beginners, with instructions for ribbing that include moving the yarn back and forth between the needles for knits and purls. I wonder how many of these outfits were knit, and how many were abandoned?

Maybe it wasn’t that hard. At least it was small; the cast on for the back is only 14 stitches.

My Aunt Rose taught me to knit when I was 14. My first knitting project was a pullover sweater knit in the round with baby blue worsted weight yarn, with twin cables up the front. What was your first project?

2018 was a trippy year

We had a pretty trippy year in 2018. We began the year in Kona, swimming with the mantas, and returned to Kona in December and met some octopuses. In between, we went to Scotland to hang with Son1 on his sabbatical, and I even made it wool-related. We stopped in Barcelona along the way. And in November, we had a weekend in New Orleans to meet up with friends who have moved away from PDX.

Another friend just asked me about our NOLA trip, since she’s headed there next week. That reminded me that I never posted! So here’s the scoop on NOLA and a bit of Barcelona which was also lacking a post.

Music: We stayed in the Marigny near Frenchmen Street, which was a great location. We used AirBnB, and had a really cute semi-attached shotgun house. Frenchmen Street has lots of live music venues, and isn’t as grossly alcohol focused as Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. We enjoyed music at the Spotted Cat and the Three Muses.

Food: The standouts were a breakfast at the Ruby Slipper Cafe, with huge fluffy biscuits and outstanding benedicts. (Bonus: You can get in line, online, before you arrive. No waiting!)

And a dinner with no pictures at all at Pêche Seafood Grill. Lots of fun flavors, locally sourced fish, delicious.

We had beignets and café au lait at the original Café du Monde in the French Market, the venerable original purveyor of these tasty bits. No picture until after we inhaled them.

Stuff: The best thing about NOLA is walking around and running into things! Jackson Square in the French Quarter feels like the center of the universe.

The architecture is distinctive, lots of verandas and narrow houses.

New Orleans is home to Mardi Gras festivities, and there’s a museum exhibit at the Presbytère, Museum of Louisiana history right on Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Lots of great costumes.

And one of Fats Domino’s two pianos, rescued from his flooded house after Hurricane Katrina. (Really interesting story of the two pianos here.)

Music in the street? Why not? There are buskers everywhere, including this group outside Café du Monde.

This is Tuba Skinny. Loved them!

I don’t know if it’s a weekend thing, but we saw several Second Line processions. These can be celebrating weddings, funerals, anything that needs it. This one was my favorite.

Somehow we ran into Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine in a hat shop. She’s a costumer!

I got into the hat thing, just for a moment. New Orleans is great for a quick weekend, and probably even better with more time. Alas, I had to go home, and DH had to go to his next gig.

Here are a few photos from Barcelona. For me, Barcelona was all about Gaudi. We visited Sagrada Familia, of course.

Casa Batllo was really interesting, too.

We did the tourist picture!

DH was bemused at the Picasso Museum.

I was, too.

Overall, we liked Barcelona, but didn’t love it. Maybe because we didn’t feel connected? We stayed in a hotel because we were using points, so we never felt part of a neighborhood. When we went from there to Scotland, I felt at home, especially at the B&B in Oban.

2018 was a big travel year, and probably the last one for a bit. DH has taken a new job here in PDX, so he won’t be traveling all the time, racking up all those points and miles. Back to being a regular Joe!

(DH and la girafa coqueta on the Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona)

December Aloha, and happy new year!

We ran away to the sun in early December, and had a fabulous time. There was even knitting involved.

We saw turtles and tide pools.

Honu at Ai’opio Beach

Tide pool at Wawaloli Beach

Shingle urchins

We visited an octopus research facility…

And watched sunsets and moonsets.

Waning crescent moonset Dec. 8, 2018

Eventually we had to come home…

It’s been a good year, knit-wise. I published 13 patterns this year (the newest one, Concentric Bed Socks, will be out tomorrow), and taught at retreats, festivals, and yarn shops. Designing and teaching go hand in hand for me.

What will 2019 bring? More of the same, I hope!

I’m working on a collaboration with Knitted Wit for March. It’s flying along, and I hope to be done with the knitting next week.

What do you want to knit in 2019?

On the cusp of fall

Oh, Labor Day! Farewell summer, welcome fall…

I ran away with my knitting last week. Good thing I brought more than one project; I lost at yarn chicken on this Mitered Crosses Blanket square. I just needed 2 more green garter ridges, probably about one yard of yarn. I considered using the red as an accent stripe, but it would have been too much. One garter ridge, yes. Two garter ridges? Christmas! I had to finish at home.

This is for a group blanket project through Mason Dixon Knitting. #mdkteamblanket2

My other project is a slipper sock. I’m using 4 50g balls of KnitCircus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient (worsted weight), colorway Thanks for all the Fish, to double strand the socks. They are glorious. (Picture from KnitCircus site, since I forgot to take a picture before I started knitting.) I finished the first one at the coast. Good thing it was time to go home; I was out of knitting!

No real sneak peek on the sock yet; the excitement is on the cuff! I knit mine using the magic loop technique, and Biscuit thought that was pretty interesting when I tried it on. I’ll be looking for test knitters soon. Would you like to knit slipper socks? They’re really quick! This one took me one day.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

It wasn’t all knitting last week. I love walking on the beach. This one was a solitary walk, just me and the seagulls.

Lone sea star at Chapman Point

I saw a lone sea star. Five years ago, there were hundreds of sea stars here. Sea star wasting disease killed many of them, but they’re starting to come back. I’m glad.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

It was a perfect getaway.

Now I’m swinging into knitting season! I have several new designs coming soon. The first is this cowl, which is also designed with KnitCircus Ringmaster Gradient, this one in Fig and Prosciutto. Look for it later this week.

Fall brings more teaching opportunities, too. I’ve got my schedule mostly set at Twisted and For Yarn’s Sake; you can see it here.

There’s still room in my Favorite Shawl Shapes class at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (pre-register by Sept. 8).

And a few knitters’ spots left at our Nymphaea Fall Retreat (Nov. 9-11).

What are you knitting this fall?

Highland Games, Harris Tweed

When we decided to meet Tyler in Scotland, highland games were high on my list of things to see. The Lorne Highland Games are pretty small, but going to Oban meant we could take the train from Edinburgh and not have to drive. Also, puffins! (Still not over them.)

Admit it, you’re not over them either.

These games were small but fun, and included most of the things you’d expect.

Highland dancers, Lorne Highland Games

Highland dancing.

Mull & Iona Pipe Band

Piping. This is the Mull and Iona Pipe Band.

Scotland the Brave! Of course.

Track and field events, and the heavies. Heavies? Hammer throw, heavier hammer throw, stone put, throwing a weight over a high bar, and caber toss. (Like tossing a slim telephone pole.)

It’s cool to watch kilted men and women make the hammers fly!

Unfortunately, we had to leave to catch our train to Glasgow before the caber toss. I’m guessing caber toss comes last because it’s like a finale, and also because it must really tear up the field! This just means I need to go back to Scotland for more games.

I did come home with an awesome souvenir, though. It even involves wool!

Harris Tweed bag

This is my new knitting bag. It’s certified Harris Tweed. What does that mean? The wool has to be sourced in the UK, and it’s spun and woven on the Isles of Harris or Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The fabric has to be woven in a crofter’s home, on a human-powered loom (not electric). Some weavers weave for Harris Tweed, and some are independent weavers designing their own cloth that will be certified as Harris Tweed, but not sold by Harris Tweed. The woven fabric goes back to the mill for washing/finishing (*see below for historical sidenote) and inspection. Independent crafters can purchase this fabric for their designs.

Harris Tweed bag by Thistle Fairy Designs

This bag is made by Shona of Thistle Fairy Designs. I love the colors of this tweed; it’s so vibrantly pinky purple!

Harris Tweed bag by Thistle Fairy Designs

The fabric lining features Highland cattle (hairy coos!), stags, heather, and pheasants? grouse? All very Scottish.

It was a pleasure meeting Shona and talking to her about Harris Tweed. Her work is exquisite. I love my new bag!

*Woolen fabric used to be finished by hand, and this was called waulking the wool. It involved stale urine(!), rhythmic beating, and usually singing to pass the time. More info here (this is the singing group I wanted to see at Auchindrain on our Oban weekend, but it was too far and we didn’t have a car). Nowadays this finishing is done by machine at the mill, using ammonia rather than urine. Thank goodness.

A taste of wool waulking

Now I’m home, catching up, trying to decide if I like my current design project enough to continue with it. So far, it’s not blowing my kilt up. No pictures! I’m also trying to perfect that no-hump crescent shape I mentioned earlier, so I can make a tutorial, as requested.

And I’m dreaming of more Sheepish Sock yarn from Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

I have the blue in the center, Pappy’s Garden. I wrote to Jess to see if I could get a coordinating color so I could design a shawl. She suggested either Dove on the left, or Breakfast with Ginger on the right. What do you think? So far Dove is trending on Instagram and Facebook!

Scotland vacay within vacay

We had a great vacation last month. Our older son was on a two month sabbatical trip through Europe, and we caught up with him for a week in Scotland near the end of his trip, spending time in Edinburgh, Oban, and Glasgow.

Oban was our vacation within a vacation. It’s a sweet town on the water, and a hub of the Caledonia MacBrayne ferry system. I picked it for the Lorne Highland Games going on that weekend, and for its proximity to Iona and Staffa, two islands that I wanted to visit.

Kilchrenan House

We arrived on Friday afternoon and settled into Kilchrenan House.

Dunollie Castle

It’s just down the road from Dunollie Castle. We walked up to the castle, but it was closing by the time we arrived. No worries; it was time to head for our tour at Oban Distillery.

No pictures allowed in the distillery, but here’s one of the whiskies we tasted.

I quite liked it. We also tasted the Oban 14, which is smokier/peatier. Who licked the ash tray?!

On Saturday we took the Three Isles Tour with West Coast Tours. It was spectacular. We took the ferry across to Craignure on Mull, then a scenic bus tour across Mull to Fionnphort to take a smaller ferry over to Iona. We spent two hours walking on Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland.

Nunnery ruins on IonaMedieval nunnery ruins

St. Oran’s Chapel on IonaSt. Oran’s Chapel

Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey is ancient and beautiful, but that was not our destination. We were looking for the beach at the end of the road, and we found it.

North Beach, Iona

Next time we’ll climb Dun I, but two hours isn’t enough to do everything. Iona is a most bucolic place. Peace abounds.

We saw this rounding up of sheep on the walk back.

Good dog! or dogs.

From Iona we took an even smaller ferry to Staffa, home of Fingal’s Cave, and a puffin colony that comes ashore to nest in the summer.

If you sit very quietly, the puffins will come to you.

This was my favorite part of our entire vacation.

Tyler’s too! We spent about half an hour with the puffins, and then decided to hurry down to see Fingal’s Cave before our hour ran out. The hexagonal basalt columns are very cool.

Fingal’s Cave on Staffa

(as seen from the water)

We made it back to the boat with one minute to spare before the appointed departure. I was the last person to board. Do you think they would have left without me? (They were counting the passengers as we boarded, so I hope not.)

It was a perfect day. And on Sunday, we attended the Lorne Highland Games. More on that in the next post. I’m trying to give you something a little wooly in each post, and there’s a Harris Tweed story in the next one!

What hump? Better crescent shawl garter tab cast on

I’m back! We took a wee trip to Scotland. And Barcelona. And St. Louis! More on all of that when I get myself sorted. I did manage to visit one yarn shop while I was away, Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

Jess’ shop is tiny and packed with beautiful yarn, much of which she dyes herself. I bought only one skein, this lovely British BFL fingering; the color is Pappy’s Garden.

I wish I had bought a coordinating color, but I needed the bag and yarn to fit in my purse because we were hiking the Salisbury Crags that afternoon after a visit to the Scottish Parliament. Packing in the fun! (The bag is wrinkled from being crammed into my purse, true story.)

I took a new shawl design project on this trip. I didn’t have a lot of knitting time, but it kept me occupied on planes and trains. When I got home, I decided I didn’t like how the later stitch patterns were playing with each other. Or were not playing with each other, really.

I asked Biscuit what she thought. “To the frog pond!” she squeaked. I agreed, but not before tackling another issue that was bugging me.

My first try at this had a hump in the middle. Sometimes these block out, and at the beginning of my knitting it looked like it might.

But it seemed to look worse the further I got. Since I was going to frog it anyway, I wanted to try to avoid the hump on the next version.

This is so much better. The difference? A much longer garter tab cast on.

My first one was very short, because the numbers worked. But there were so many stitches concentrated right there at the beginning, and a short, unyielding garter tab. Hump! Even worse, when I tried to straighten it, it folded over.

Besides the longer garter tab, I added YOs between the picked up stitches along the edge of the garter tab. This serves two purposes. It adds a stitch between the picked up stitches, which gives a little more stretch. And it mimics the YOs that are going to continue along the edge of the shawl.

I’m back on track, and it’s flying along.

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after a vacation? Catching up!

Drum roll…the winner of the Delicate Details e-book is Terri Oliver. Thanks to everyone for commenting and playing along!

Coming soon…puffins!

36 hours in Ellensburg

One catch up post!

I spent 36 hours in Ellensburg, WA to celebrate a friend’s birthday the weekend before Knot Another Fiber Festival. It was quick but we packed in a lot of fun!

Saturday was LYS Day. I wasn’t near my LYS, but Ellensburg has a very nice shop, Yarn Folk. Ann Miner’s shop has lots of high quality yarns and is full of inspiring shop samples. I didn’t need any yarn (do I ever?), but I needed a shawl pin so I picked up this leaf pin by One of a Kind Buttons. (More about the book in a bit.)

There was a sheep to shawl exhibit by Thorp Mill at the rodeo grounds, and I met this sweet lamb, as well as some spinners and weavers.

In the afternoon Vickie and I took a beyond basics block printing class at Gallery One. Every time I play with block printing, it gets a little better. So much fun!

This particular class was about chine collé (like collage, adding contrast papers in the printing) and puzzle blocks (cutting your carved block into pieces so you can put it back together while using different colors for the different parts). In three hours we sketched and carved blocks, and tried these two new techniques.

Pictured above, top row: Carved block (it’s been cut and put back together), original test print. Bottom row: Chine collé bird print, and puzzle block print. I’m looking forward to playing more with this block, or even re-doing it now that I know what I want it to look like.

In the evening we went to the college rodeo. Why yes, this was my first rodeo! It seemed about time my boots went to one.

Waiting

Birds on a wire

Matched set

I came home Sunday to teach a class, and picked up the new Mason Dixon Field Guide, Transparency.

I love the look of this Shakerag Top. (Thanks, Biscuit, for helping with the picture.) It’s knit with one or two strands of yarn to create the striping, but the yarn is all the same. This particular yarn is Jade Sapphire Sylph, a blend of cashmere and linen. I love linen and I love cashmere. It’s a little spendy, so I have to decide if I’m really going to make it. Also, deadlines! We shall see.

Knit on!

Crafty Moms 15.0, plus FlexiFlips needle review

This past weekend was the 15th annual Crafty Moms weekend at the Oregon Coast, whoa. Fifteen years of friendship and fun.

Fifteen years of beautiful sunsets and walks on the beach, and projects we may or may not remember.

I’m putting the rest of the pretty scenic pictures at the end of the post, so I can talk knitting at the beginning.

I started Anna on her first brioche project. Petite Brioche, of course! Funny how her colors match her clothes. Everyone has a palette, right?

I finished my green brioche design project (no pix yet) and went back to my Nymphaea Shawl. This one is in Bumblebirch Heartwood, Atlantic and Hellebore. The colors might seem familiar to you; I used them in my Tumbling Leaves Shawl, too. It’s a very different look when you feature the blue instead of the green.

(Love this view)

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the rest of the beads, so I didn’t get very far. Oops.

The blue/brown yarn is Malabrigo Mechita in Cielo y Tierra (Sky and Earth). Perfect name.

I sketched and charted an idea for this yarn combo, but it wasn’t cooperating in the swatch, so I set that aside, too.

I’ve been wanting a pair of worsted weight socks, and I’ve been wanting to try Skacel’s new FlexiFlips needles. They come in a set of 3; these are US5. They’re like dpns except they’re flexible in the middle. One end has an Addi Rocket tip, and the other has an Addi Turbo tip, so you can choose your desired pointiness. I like the pointier of the two tips.

The idea is that you hold the work on 2 needles, like using 2 circulars or magic loop. The third needle is the working needle. This means you have one fewer needle than when working on dpns, and no flappy needles as in 2 circulars, and no loopy ends as in magic loop. I don’t mind dpns, but one fewer interruption in the knitting is nice. And I don’t mind magic loop, but that gets a little dicey with brioche and the YOs.

Verdict: I like them! I cruised through most of a cuff down sock, pausing only to puzzle out how I wanted to arrange the heel/gusset stitches. What I’m not loving is that this blue yarn is leaving dye all over my hands. I look like a Smurf.

The dye washes off my hands pretty easily, but now that I’m home the project is in time out. According to my dyer friends, I should treat the yarn with a good bath and some citric acid and heat. It’s a pretty big skein; I could:

  • Finish knitting the socks and then treat them
  • abandon this sock and just reskein and treat the rest of the yarn, hoping there’s enough for a pair
  • or frog the sock and reskein and treat all of it, then knit

What would you do? I’m afraid to wash some but not all of the yarn; there’s a good chance I’d end up with two different colors.

I also tried a small brioche sample with the FlexiFlips, and I liked them for that, too. Mmmm, brioche. I don’t know that I’d want to buy a set in every size; they’re $24/set. Maybe one more set in a reasonable sock size? This is breaking my 5 year sock knitting hiatus!

Now that I’m home, I’m back to knitting Nymphaea. This is the shawl for the Fall Shawl Retreat with me and Laurinda Reddig in November. I want to have a sample in semi-solids; the original is in gradient mini skeins. I may want one in a continuous gradient, too. It’s a pretty simple and zen knit!

As promised, more pictures below.

What’s wrong with this picture?

We didn’t have an iron

Sunset

Gorgeous Monday morning

Nature signs her handiwork with a flourish

Leftovers for Monday morning breakfast. Here’s to friends!

Catching up! RCYC, Lantern Moon Retreat

Still catching up…March began with a trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake to kick off the Rose City Yarn Crawl.

I took two whole pictures. But I had fun! It’s a group trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake with Knitted Wit (Lorajean Kelley), Shannon Squire, and Debbi Stone, and it’s become a tradition, with bubbles.

I didn’t go yarn crawling; instead I packed my bags to head out for the Lantern Moon retreat in Sisters, Oregon on Saturday.

It snowed a little at the beginning of the week, just enough to be pretty but not a problem.

Is showing up at an event wearing the same sweater the same as showing up in the same gown? Nah, it’s way more fun. This is Virginia in her Stopover, and me in mine. (Pattern by Mary Jane Mucklestone.)

I taught a version of my Tink Drop Frog: Lace Edition to two lovely groups of knitters, and also gave a blocking lesson. Susan B. Anderson taught a shawl design class, and a sock class.

Artist Kathy Deggendorfer (left) was our speaker on Monday evening. She told us about her process when painting with watercolors (color first, then lines come after), and how she uses those images on other products or in other media (clay tiles, for example). She opened her studio for us the next day and showed us what she was working on (shhh, it’s a secret). Karin purchased this original watercolor of chickadees, and I went home with a chickadee tile.

Wednesday I had the opportunity to join the retreat students for a block printing class with Valori Wells at the Stitchin’ Post.

I had chickadees on my mind, so I traced a photo off my phone and made a chickadee block for printing.

I was really happy with how it turned out. This was my fourth experience with block printing, but my first with fabric instead of paper. And each time is a little better as I figure out positive/negative space.

The gift baskets were amazing. Here’s a sampling of what was in them, but not everything!

This soap is a work of art, and smells divine.

We had afternoons off to relax (hello, spa!). On Wednesday afternoon I went on my favorite walk in the woods with my friend Becky, who moved to Sisters with her family 2 years ago. Becky is one of my Pie Birds; I love singing with her and Claudia.

Looks like cake

Madrone

Scars of last summer’s Milli fire

Putting this here so I know what to call it next time I’m trying to explain how to find it!

It was a fabulous retreat. If a small (about 30 people), luxurious knit-focused retreat with lots of time to relax is what you’re looking for, you should definitely check this out next year. Thanks to Lantern Moon for inviting me to teach!