Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 

Everyone's Gone to the Bahamas


LONELY NIKI WIKI on Dock 15
Left behind. Where have all the boats gone? This marina was full when we arrived last July, now in February there are more empty slips than occupied slips. Everyone's gone to the Bahamas.

Now that the "Holiday Season" is over, many of the part-time snowbird cruisers have flown down from parts north and sailed off to the Bahamas for a few months. We've been left behind. Couldn't even go if we wanted to because of the dead engine. But then, we never planned to head down to the Bahamas. But still, it makes me very envious of those folks who are splashing in warm waters and drinking rum cocktails. Sigh. It's OK - we make our own fun.

See? Here's Jonesy working on the electronics in the navigation station inside the boat. Is he having fun yet? Our AIS (Automatic Identification System) which gives us data about the big freighters traveling in our area, has been not working for a while now. We like to use AIS, especially at night when making a passage, as it tells us how far away the ship is, how fast it is traveling and then calculates how close it will come to us in how many minutes! If the AIS forecasts that we'll come too close to a big ship, we can change course slightly to give us more sea space between our vessels. Radar just gives us a big blob on the screen which is enough to get your adrenaline going, but AIS gives us the data to make decisions.

CHEATING CHECKS MITTENS
Anyway, Jonesy carefully chased the signals all along the long wires and checked all the connectors. This meant he had to wiggle his way into small spaces. Lastly, he patiently buffed all corrosion off of every connector. Magic. That worked! That's the way it is on a boat on salt water. Corrosion happens. We're both very happy to have this checked off of our "To-Do" list of boat chores!

I've been playing with new knitting patterns for hand-knitters. Some are complicated and some are more simple. These CHEATING CHECKS Mittens are quite simple to knit. The self-striping sock yarn makes its own color changes for the checkers on the hand and the stripes on the thumb gusset. This is still being tested by my trusty testing friends on my group. When it's deemed fit for release, I'll put it up on Ravelry. Also I have a rather complicated sock pattern being tested right now too.

THRUMMED MITTENS
Yes, there have been a lot of mittens produced around here lately. They are such fun little projects and I love how they use up my immense stash of fresh bulky weight yarns from Brown Sheep Mill.

This next pair have "thrums" which are tufts of wool interlaced into the knitting. These are WARM mittens! I have fun combining the bulky wool yarn with different colors of roving, and even the yarn itself unraveled back into unspun.

Then with a barbed felting needle, from the outside, I stabbed and poked all the little V's of the thrums to better adhere them to the mittens. Why didn't I think of that before? Well, because until last summer I had never used a felting needle!! Now that I know what one can do I'll be poking and stabbing a lot more. Watch out!

THRUMMED MITTENS
Of course both of these are going to Kazakhstan in May for the orphans. My own boys have recently agreed to let me knit for them too. So I have also been busy with warm socks on the needles for the older son and am charting out a hat for the younger son.

Socks, socks and more socks are filling up my knitting bags. Unfortunately I am in the middle of some serious SSS (Second Sock Syndrome) where I have finished the first sock, but haven't even started the second sock. Starting a new project is so much fun, but repeating that same item again? Not so much fun.

HER LADYSHIPS BED STOCKINGS
I got into the current pickle because I have been test knitting for a couple of other designers. Only one sock needs to be worked through to test the design. So I jump to another project rather than make the twin sock. Oh! And I've received some more donations of beautiful sock yarns so I am excited to dig into the stash and play with different colors.

For example...here are the Her Ladyships Bed Stockings by Meagheen Ryan. I absolutely love the patterning on these socks (there are hearts on the front and on the foot too. The yarn was donated by Wooly Wonka Fiber to me to knit socks for the kids in Kazakhstan. The owner sent me some of her "seconds" or "mis-dyes". Whoa! They are beautiful and luxurious and you'll be seeing more socks knit with Wooly Wonka Fibers in the coming months. THANK YOU and the cold feet of the orphans thank you too!

What's this? These are pretty baubles as Jonesy calls them. I took a Glass Fusing glass at the Glynn Visual Arts Center on St. Simons Island and made these four pieces. You can see my finger in the lower right corner for scale.

This was my first time working with glass like this and it was so much fun!! I have some acrylic button shanks that I'll be gluing on the back of a couple of these to use as buttons for a single button vest or on a felted purse. Maybe I'll even have to wear one as jewelry. Yep. I've already signed up for an open studio workshop at the end of the month. What should I make this time? Any ideas?

Oh yes, life is good.

Friday, February 20, 2015

 

Sapelo Island of Coastal Southern Georgia

THE PERKINS "JIB" status - Ugh.

Yep. This is still how our engine looks today - still a no-go. We've managed to hoist the freshly machined head (as in top of engine, not toilet) back onto the boat but it sits gathering dust under the salon table. Unfortunately not all of the repair kit parts we ordered were the correct sizes for our head, but the originals (springs, etc.) were still in good condition thankfully. We ordered a "kit" and it was a mixed-bag of good and wrong parts. Sigh.

We are waiting for the big 100-lb casting from up north. Yes, we paid for it back in early December with a wire transfer, but the piece wasn't actually ready to ship. It still needed to be refurbished too, and there were problems with it. Oh, and the winter weather up in Massachusetts wasn't exactly cooperating either so work has been slow. To be fair, we told them that we weren't in any hurry as we aren't planning to leave here until late March or early April. They may (probably) have customers who are stranded and really need fast service so we can wait. But Jonesy is anxious to get this big chore done.

This coastal area of southern Georgia is a little on the sleepy side these days, but it has an interesting history and was quite prosperous in the past. The nearby village of Darien was once a major sea port for ships burdened with rice, cotton, and pine timber. So there's lots of historical sites to visit and ponder how life was out here back in "the day".

A new friend and long-time resident took me to see Christ's Church out on St. Simon Island. We toured the cemetery and viewed the beautiful stained glass windows. This one is my favorite. I seem to have good taste as this one is also the only certified made-by-Tiffany piece. I think I see a mitten pattern here....

Another day we took the ferry to Sapelo Island which is one of the barrier islands of Georgia. Access to this island is limited - you have to be a resident or have a prior reservation to meet someone who has permission to be on the island. Sapelo was once a large plantation with many slaves doing the labor, but is now mostly federal land of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and hosts the University of Georgia Marine Institute. For our tour of the island we had hired a local man who was a decedent of the slaves who once toiled the island. Today, only about 50 people remain. With no jobs or way to make a living, most of the people have drifted away.

SAPELO LIGHT HOUSE
Check out this historic lighthouse. After years of neglect following the civil war it has been refurbished. This light guided the big sailing ships into Darien. When we leave here to sail north, we will be passing by this lighthouse so we'll get to see it from the point of view of being on the water. It's nice to have BOTH perspectives!


I fell in love with Sapelo and the natural beauty it is today again. We watched a very informative slide presentation at the Marine Institute given by a marine scientist and were able to study their artifacts (turtle skulls, shells, and other marine goodies) in their laboratory. Fortunately for us, there was a group of  Road Scholar folks (aka Elder Hostel) touring the island that same day so we were able to piggy-back onto this part of their tour (oh and get invited to share their BBQ chicken & all the fixin's picnic lunch on the beach). We walked along the long, wide beach and saw horseshoe crab shells of many sizes, beached  jellyfish, and many beautiful shells. It was so nice to be back (almost) on the wild water and knitting in the sea breeze.


I also fell in love with the sweet grass baskets that are made on the island. Yep, I'm planning to take a class to make my own...one day.

ATRIUM - REYNOLDS MANSION
Also on the island is the historic vacation mansion of R.J. Reynolds - the tobacco (and cotton) magnate. Today, groups of 16 or more people can rent the Reynolds Mansion for events as it is now a Georgia State Park. Now, wouldn't this make a GREAT KNITTING RETREAT? Who wants to go?

Look at the atrium photo here...can you imagine a gaggle of knitters hanging out here? Even though it is February, it was sunny and warm outside (with a chilly breeze). The dinning room was lovely, yet I found the circus room (old children's room upstairs) to be a little creepy. The circus characters were scary looking - not funny.

The hotel rooms were well-furnished and had windows for lots of light (to knit by). There were bicycles available to the guests for touring the flat (and at sea-level of course) island.


PATIO OF REYNOLDS MANSION
In the meantime, when not exploring, I knit. Not just plain garter stitch stuff these days, but actually some test-knitting for other folks who design and write up patterns (in addition to my own new creations).

A group of us have formed our own online cooperative design forum to have our newest knit and crochet ideas tested by other people. We not only do we have dedicated testers, but us designers also help each other with testing and technical discussions. We are also taking it a bit farther and
CIRCUS ROOM Upstairs at Reynolds Mansion
working on all of our technical editing skills. Why? Because we want our published results to be as free as possible of errors and also as easy as possible for other needlework people to work from.

Speaking of published... Interweave's Knitting Daily has (again) released information about the article I wrote, but this time they included the article itself! So if you haven't read it yet because it cost money, take a peek over here and find out everything you need to know with Tips For Knitting Fair Isle Socks. Get it while it's free!

And one more publishing event...Introducing Secret Pocket Socks by yours truly.

These are the Feb/Mar 2015 Knit along socks on the Six Sox KAL Yahoo group. They feature an "afterthought" tube that is knit from a long hole that you purposefully create by knitting in some waste yarn that you'll later cut out.

I need to use a passkey (like one of those hotel plastic card keys) to access the yacht club, showers, and laundry facilities here in the Brunswick Landing Marina. I'm always forgetting to take my card and I often don't have safe pockets in my clothing. Voila! I now keep the card in my socks!

The little pocket would also be useful for credit cards, female supplies, cash, key, etc. Anyway it's free for members of the group through March 2015, then it will be available for sale on Ravelry. See? I'm not just knitting garter stitch anymore.

Life is good.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

 

NECK KNITTING


Have you heard or read about "Arm Knitting"? It seems to be being pushed by the yarn companies to sell more yarn - especially to non-knitters. Well, Arm Knitting is SO 2014!

Introducing Neck Knitting! Make your very own warm and fashionable cowl with a single skein of yarn! No needles, hooks, or arms required!

Simply open up the skein, and cast on by putting your head in the center hole of the skein and let it rest on your neck. Then, pick up the front part of the skein and using your neck as a giant knitting needle, twist the skein once and pull the second loop down over your head.

Voila! One stitch made!And the best part is you're done! I demonstrated this new and exciting technique at our knitting get together last night with a friend's hand spun and hand dyed yarn skein. It is yummy! But wait...there's more! If you get tired of wearing your new hand-crafted cowl, you can reuse (recycling is green remember!) the skein and knit with it to produce something else when you actually do learn the craft.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

 

Never ending Garter Stitch


During our cross-country return trip I focused (or unfocused as the case really was) on plain old garter stitch knitting. I just didn't feel like counting, or working even a simple pattern. Yep. It was the beginnings of the knitting blahs. So with just a couple of needles and an endless supply of donated yarn and I was content to mindlessly work thousands of knit stitches.

Working just the knit stitch allowed me to be able to look out the car window and watch the scenery. No, I don't need to look at my project
ESCAPE ATTEMPT
when working this simple stuff. But, to add a touch of excitement I did change colors along the way. Perhaps I should have been paying more attention to the strips as they kept trying to escape from the car when we stopped.

This charity project (final size 49" x 42") was donated to the Seafarer's Center here in Brunswick, Georgia. The Seafarers International provides comfort and support for the men and women who travel worldwide working on the big shipping freighters.

Mad Miter Scarf
At the same time that I was working on this blanket, I also was test knitting a garter stitch mitered square scarf worked with various (donated) leftover self-striping and variegated sock yarns. The Mad Miter Scarf by Drachie Crafts is available for sale on Ravelry. The colors of the yarns I used didn't look so hot (aka ghastly or clown barf) when put together so I lightly over-dyed the finished scarf with a sapphire blue soak.

Some kid in Kazakhstan will have a new wool scarf next winter and I got to keep occupied.

Hey...these mindless projects can be quite rewarding! So, next I knit myself a simple warm hat. For the first time in 9 years my head got cold on a walk. I needed a hat.
TERRY'S NEW WOOL HAT
This was an easy project - just knit stitch with a few purls thrown in for show made with leftover yarns.

Hmmm...there was a bit of the green yarn leftover from the seaman's blanket so I knit a hat to donate too.

The knitting mojo was slowly and quietly sneaking back into my life. At Michaels Crafts store I saw a collection box for knit or crochet 7x9" rectangles for the Warm Up America campaign. Garter stitch squares? Sure, I can knit those - so I did, and actually got them delivered into the box at the store.

Seafarer Cap

plain 7x9" garter stitch squares


Oh look! There's a partially worked pair of mittens that just need a few hours of work. This was a group Knit-along from 2013 that got lost on the boat. I wasn't happy with how my color choices turned out so I lost interest in the project and tucked it away.

FINISHED!
The Motherless Child Foundation leader discovered in her December visit to the orphanages in Kazakhstan that there was again a great need for mittens. So I finished up this lost project and then got started on several more pairs of mittens.

At the same time (that phrase "at the same time" is a difficult one for knitters who work patterns that have you do knitting gymnastics in multiple places in a row/round) I worked on a pair of gloves for my younger son Brett. These were a special request from him as he had just moved from the warm beaches of Southern California to damp and chilly Seattle.

So, I dug out some very, very dark brown/black alpaca/wool/acrylic blend yarn and knit his
THUMB'S UP TO NEW GLOVES
mittens. For fun, I added "conductive thread" to the tips of both index fingers and thumbs so that he can play with his touch screen devices without having to take off his gloves (his idea). And for a touch of safety while driving, I sewed on a patch of buttery soft leather to each palm. He likes them - and I'm a happy knitting momma.

So, while I've been knitting, baking to keep the boat warm and running around with some of my new knitterly friends here in Georgia, Jonesy has been making some progress on his boat projects. The machine shop work on the engine "head" was completed so he picked it up and we hoisted it onto the boat and down into the salon where it waits for installation. No blood, broken bones or buises during this episode! We still don't have the refurbished heat exchanger unit yet, so work will have to continue at a later date.
LOWERING THE "HEAD" inside NIKI WIKI



We're loving the new birds that have shown up here in the marsh lands of southern coastal Georgia over these past couple of months. The other day we saw our first Hooded Merganser Ducks diving and hanging out by our boat. Small flocks of White Ibis breeze through occasionally and of course we have the pelicans and comorants for entertainment.

Alpaca/silk (Bobbi K)
Now I'll leave you with photos of a few pairs of mittens for the kids in Kazakhstan. As you can see the knitting mojo has returned.
Alpaca fingering weight yarn

Life is good.
THICK large mittens











Friday, December 26, 2014

 

Living on Fruitcake


It's that happy time of year! Two loaves of gluten-free fruitcake were baked in mid-November, then soaked in brandy and orange liqueur and left to age in the refrigerator.

Finally, last week we opened the first loaf, and sliced our way to heaven. We've been living on fruitcake ever since. Let's see...a slice or two for breakfast (I count this as a serving of fruit) with coffee. Then an afternoon snack with a nice cup of tea, and finally a piece at bedtime to help us dream the night away.

We've baked fruitcake each year no matter where we were currently cruising. Of course, there was no such thing available throughout Latin America. Because we love a little touch of tradition (and a liquor soaked cake) we've had to make our own. We think ours are so good that we continued this year even though we are in the US state where a famous brand is made.

This year's cake has local Georgian pecans, walnuts, candied cherries, coconut, fresh orange and tangerine peel, raisins, and candied papaya and pineapple. We learned to use the tropical candied fruits while in Central America and now we prefer them. Yummy!

THE BIG BAD UH-OH

While we were traveling cross-country this past summer/fall we had a caretaker come onto the boat and run the diesel engine and generator occasionally to keep them in good shape. Good plan, but we got bad news. The last time he ran the big Perkins 6-cylinder 354 engine it started to overheat so he shut it down to prevent damage.

Well, it took Jonesy several days to disassemble this monster in our bilge and to haul out the big, heavy chunks of engine that were suspected of causing the problem. The photo above shows what is left of the engine today. The "head" is at the machine shop being inspected, getting a "valve job" including new valves and springs. Nope, this area of the engine wasn't where the problem started.
Road-trip Bryce Canyon - before we knew about the engine

It turns out the failure was in the "heat exchanger". The actual casting had failed. It had corroded to the point where it developed a hole that allowed the coolant to enter the exhaust port and end up in the combustion chamber!! BAD. We (I mean Jonesy... I knit) hauled the 100-lb chunk of metal out of the bilge and boat, up the steep dock ramp, to the car, wrapped it up and shipped it via UPS to Massachusetts. There was a slim possibility that it could be refurbished.

Nope again. So we've had to wire transfer $4000 to buy a used & refurbished heat exchanger.  Sometime next week we'll be able to pick up the head at the machine shop and receive the heat exchanger here at the marina. Then the fun part begins.

We are very grateful that the engine failed while it was sitting in a marina - and not at sea or at some of the very remote places we've traveled in the last 8 years! This past couple of months we've entertained ourselves with remembering where we traveled by Niki Wiki and where would have been the worst place to have this failure. The best place? Actually, right here in Brunswick Georgia.

Life is good.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

 

ST. AUGUSTINE SOCKS

Here's a new sock design of mine. The St. Augustine Socks pattern is now available on Ravelry. Yes, these were developed way back before I began my current sock knitting duldrums phase. No, I haven't yet finished the second sock.

Anyway, the pattern is written in FOUR different sizes"
St. Augustine, Florida is a beautiful and historic city where we moored the boat for a few weeks back in May/June as I knit these socks. Spanish moss can be seen gracefully hanging from the branches of the old trees which inspired the cables on these socks. Snaking cables and ribbing run down the sides of the leg and knit/pull textured diamonds are on the back of the leg and run from the cuff to the begining of the toe.  The sock is worked cuff-down to the toe and features the heel flap and gusset construction method.

Here's a view of the diamond knit/purl motif that runs down the front and back of the leg.

Enjoy!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

 

Post 52 Socks Doldrums


What happens to a serious (aka habitual, addicted) knitter in the months after completing 52 PAIRS of socks in less than 52 weeks? Inertia, that's what.

The wind has gone out of the proverbial knitting sails. This knitter is adrift in the uncharted doldrums of the seas. I'm "beached". I've lost the sock knitting mojo. I am a different knitter after participating in the 52 Pair Plunge on Ravelry that ended this past summer.

Sure, I had to let the cracks and callouses clear up on my fingers and palms. And yes, I was busy putting the boat to bed for it's lonely stay at the Brunswick Marina without us on board and organizing for our cross-country car trip. But it was more than that. I just didn't feel that strong internal drive to pick up skinny yarn and toothpick sized needles and knit socks. But I also had a duty to fulfill.

I HAD to knit a few pairs to complete some commitments I had made to others. So, over this summer I knit a pair of men's leisure socks for the Socks for Soldiers group and then knit the heel and feet on a pair in the mandatory regulation army green (see button on left side of blog for link to the group). Another knitter had cranked out the long leg on her circular sock knitting machine and sent me the pair to finish.

Not exciting stuff to be sure, but the organization had sent me the yarn and I owed them the socks. I still have yarn for one more pair of men's leisure socks and a couple of regulation knit hats. I owe, I owe, it's off to knit I go...

So while other knitters are scurrying about digging through their yarn stashes as the weather cools, I just keep sighing and feeling unmotivated. Oh sure, I knit a sock as a tester for another designer - that was fun. And, I've got 1 1/2 fingerless mitts done for Jonesy whose hands are cold on the boat. But I'm still feeling like I have a mild form of PTSD. Or is it the after "vacation" blues? I remember when I was a kid I was always unhappy when Girl Scout Camp was over.
CHAIN LINK FENCE MITTS 
Or perhaps I pushed myself too hard to knit those 52 pairs of socks as if my very life depended on it. I still feel shell (sock) shocked.

So, was it worth it? Yes. First, 50 of those pairs were sent to orphanages in Kazakhstan through the Motherless Child Foundation. In fact the Director is packing up the boxes that will travel with her right now. That will make 50 kids smile with warm feet. Then of course, it was fun to make the monster socks from all the leftover yarns from many sources. Those are my hands-down favorites to knit! I love playing with the colors and getting to feel the softness of high quality yarns that I wouldn't otherwise get a chance to work with if not for the donations.

Today was fruitcake baking day! Each year I bake a set of 2 gluten-free fruitcakes and then let them marinate in brandy (or whiskey) for a few weeks. Jonesy and I love this tradition - oh, not the baking part as much as the slicing a bit off the loaf for breakfast part of the tradition. This year I included the zest of 2 tangerines and an orange in the batter and they smelled so good while baking!

The cold weather here in Georgia (although I am in shirt-sleeves today) has meant that I can finally wear some of my wool vests! Here's a photo of me wearing my Grass Creek Park vest that I knit many years ago. I actually got to wear it to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival this past fall too. It's been stashed away on the boat for the 8 years that we were in the tropics and survived just fine.

Life is good.



Monday, November 10, 2014

 

The North American Landmass Crossing


KNITTING SOCKS IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MT
The North American Landmass Crossing via Automobile Adventure 2014 is complete! We are now back on our sailboat Niki Wiki in Brunswick, Georgia resting up before our next excursion.

We experienced 38 nights of car-camping at altitudes from ~5ft above sea level (on a beach in Oregon) to 8100ft in the Rocky Mountains. Not only did we drive from coast-to-coast and back, we also traveled north to just below the border with Canada in Glacier National Park to south to the border with Mexico in Big Bend NP. We covered 11,012 miles (yes, Jonesy kept track) and drove through 23 states.
THE RIO GRANDE WITH MEXICO ON THE FAR SIDE

One of our goals was to visit as many National Parks as we reasonably could. We trended towards the northern US on our way west in August and toured the southern states on our way east in October. The count? 10 National Parks; Smokey Mountains GA, Mammoth Caves KY, Grand Tetons WY, Yellowstone WY, Glacier MT, Crater Lake OR, Great Basin NV, Bryce Canyon UT, Capitol Reef UT, and Big Bend TX.

In Oregon we took care of the homes of two of our friends. The first care taking gig was just for a few days. We gorged ourselves on the bounty of the organic garden and loaded up on black doggie hugs. The second gig was for 4 weeks and was just up the road in the same lovely country setting. Here we were servants to a terrific cat named Ozzy.

OREGON BEACH - Bone-chilling cold and foggy in September
From the kitchen window I could watch the horses in the pasture next door and from the back deck we saw does with their fawns almost every day. The temperatures in this area near Corvallis are idyllic during September and sunny skies were the norm.

Here I had the use of the studio of the resident fiber artist where I read most of the books in her textile library! What treasures! As I was scheduled to teach a Needle Felting workshop in October, I spent my time creating samples for the participants using many
JELLY FISH
different needle felting techniques. Can you say "Heaven"?

Jonesy and I spent many hours simply walking around downtown Corvallis and the Oregon State University campus. The students hadn't arrived en masse yet so both the town and campus were relatively quiet. We shopped at the Saturday Farmer's Market and had our minivan's radiator replaced at the local auto repair shop. Good timing on that repair actually as we would be crossing vast stretches of desert on the return trip where a radiator failure would have been disastrous!!
NEEDLE FELTING 

After our Oregon vacations duties, we headed north up to the Seattle area to visit with our son Brett for a while. We rode the ferry in the Puget Sound (like the good tourists we were) and I stumbled across the excellent knitting store Churchmouse Yarns and Teas on Bainbridge Island. Unfortunately, they were getting ready to close so I just a quick look-see, but I'll be back!

Once I'm rested more, I'll share about our visits to some interesting fiber places such as the Pendleton Mills, Mountain Colors, and more.
VIEW THRU KITCHEN WINDOW

On the way back east we stopped to visit some cruising friends who were back at their land bases. Folks who we probably won't cross paths with because we're heading north instead of cruising the western Caribbean, but you never know!

I had Jonesy make an unplanned stop (how? puppy dog eyes, sad face and whimpering) for a couple of hours in Houston because I saw road signs for the International Quilt Festival there that very day! It was a chance of a lifetime and I wasn't going to miss it. So I paid $12 to get in and literally jogged through the market area and glanced at a few of the quilts on display. Jonesy sat in the car and read.
SOCKS KNIT FROM LEFTOVERS from Kris
The festival was a visual overload. But I got a lot of inspiration from the colors and new products and techniques available to quilters that I can borrow. I didn't spend a dime.

We are both LOVING being back on the boat and in the water. We are comfortable in it after all these years. Back in July we were exhausted and itching for new experiences. We've now had that and are happy to be back home. Right now, there is a breeze which is making the boat rock slightly at the dock. The rigging is making the familiar creaking sounds as the boat moves, birds are flying about noisily, the wifi is working as well as the new little heater that keeps the boat warm. Life is good.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

 

FIBER NOTEWORTHY LOCATION #1

On our road-trip last month out to the West Coast we not only visited many National and State Parks, but we also stopped at Fiber Noteworthy Locations (FNLs).

Our first such stop was the the Brown Sheep Yarn Co. Mill and Factory Store in western Nebraska. We thought we had the location all mapped out on our iPad, but the app took us to this spot - way out in the corn and bean (as in dried beans to eat) fields on dirt country roads. Nope. No wool processing mill in sight. We drove around a bit feeling quite lost. Finally, we realized that we had a phone (we're still not quite used to that) and the phone number. After a quick call and a confusing conversation (the locals don't call the roads the same names as in the map app), we found Brown Sheep Yarn Co.
MY YARN HAUL

The Mill Store sells only "seconds" quality yarns so as not to compete with their retailers. As it is the only yarn store for a hundred miles, they also carry needles, books, and other fiber craft supplies. There was plenty of yarn to purchase and the place was quiet, so I took a deep breath and started fondling.

Jonesy had been worried about how cold it was going to be when we camped up in the high altitudes of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. He needed a warm hat. Guess what? He's married to a knitter! So the first item we (he) picked out was some washable wool for his new hat. Just one skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Superwash in the the color "Purple Haze" was all we needed.
JONESY'S NEW HAT

While empoyees of the mill rushed about in a adjoining hallway and office complex, doing their jobs, I sat on the floor and unloaded a couple of bins sorting through small mill ends (they were less expensive than full skeins). People must have wondered what was taking me so long because eventually the owner Peggy Wells came in to chat with me. We had a wonderful conversation about everything from the mill's history to what was growing in the fields and why. She also shared with me how the same 2-ply yarn is sold as lace weight, then plied with more 2-ply yarns and becomes the heavier weight yarns. Very clever indeed! I

TERRY AT BROWN SHEEP CO.
After a couple of hours (really!) Peggy came in again to check on me. I allowed her to weigh my selections for payment. All yarns are sold by the pound. What did I buy? Amazingly I purchased mostly bulky and worsted weight yarns including some small skeins of hand-dyed yarns. Why? Because now that I am living in North America again I will have cool enough weather to let me handle thick wools. I've wanted to visit this store for many, many years and it was a dream come true!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

 

From Sea to Foggy Sea


CAR CAMPING the easy way
We made it - all the way from the sunny, humid and hot Atlantic Coast of Georgia to the foggy and downright cold Pacific Coast of Oregon! Our new (used) Dodge Caravan and driver performed flawlessly over the 2-lane by-ways and mountain passes. I knit.

We traveled through 13 states, stayed in 5 National Parks, 3 Forest Service campgrounds, 5 State Parks, 1 BLM campground and 1 private campsite. Total cost for overnight stays and park access was a grand total of $356 (28 nights).

We slept comfortably in our van with our new "tent" attached and on our V-berth cushions from the boat. Our new camp stove and pop-up rain/shade cover worked great.
Our "Deluxe Chairs ($9 each and purchased by our son Brett for the Sebring 12-hour race earlier this year) are still going strong many hours of use. That's Jonesy reading in one of them at our campsite in Fort Mountain, Georgia. This photo was taken before the black bear walked through our site.

Bear? Yep. I was just sitting in my Deluxe Chair reading when I glanced up and saw a bear walking slowly by me. I froze. He came up onto the gravel of our site, looked at me casually, and kept walking. Slowly, slowly, I stood and backed up towards the car. Then I threw myself in the car and started yelling "BEAR!, Bear! Bear!" and honking the horn. Jonesy was just walking up to our site from the bathrooms and he clapped his hands. The bear trotted away - not in a real hurry. Heck, there were lots of kids camped near us!

We notified the park staff and they sent out a guy with a Paint Gun which they use just to scare the bears and discourage them from hanging out at the campgrounds. Turns out this bear was what they call a "yearling". He/she was one of the cubs born last year when they had a population explosion. He was a littler larger than a Bernise Mountain Dog/St. Bernard and much heavier looking. I actually got to about 6 feet of him and could see the beautiful shiny black fur. So that's our bear story.

As I can knit simple socks without having to look at my hands, that's what I did whenever we were underway. Jonesy did all the driving, in fact, I haven't driven our car yet. I make a great "rider" and a mediocre road navigator. But at least I got some socks done. Here's one pair for the teenagers at the orphanages in Kazakhstan. These are simple socks from Regia Ringel Color wool yarn donated by a fellow knitting camper.

More to come! We have bison and Tetons and visits to fiber studios!

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