Sunday, May 12, 2013
Rhymes with "Chicken Pizza"
The day started early with a ride on the 6:30am ferry from where we are anchored here in Isla Mujeres to the mainland city of Cancun. Upon arrival in Cancun, we were met by a tour group van, picked up a few more passengers at a resort and then headed into the "Hotel Zone" of Cancun. Whoa! Cancun is like the Las Vegas strip! Giant hotels line the road combined with all of the big dollar restaurant chains. But, from the road all we really got to see was the back yards of the hotels. On the beach front is where all the action takes place. These hotels are so big that it is really a hike to walk from one to another - guess they want their guests to stay put and just spend all their money at the hotel.
The van took us to a big over-priced tourist souvenir store to join up with the other folks going to the same destination. We had to wait about a half hour for our bus at this "aggregate and separate" facility. That was obviously planned by the tour company so that folks would shop while waiting. We boarded our bus and were off to Chichen Itza.
The scenery was...nil. After I made a great effort to get a window seat on the bus, I discovered that - seriously - there was nothing to see. The Yucatan
|Chichen Itza Skull Platform|
Finally we boarded our bus again and continued to Chichen Itza. Admission was included in our tour fee and we were able to quickly get to touring the grounds. Even though there were hoards of tourists, the grounds are large enough to spread everyone about. Interestingly, I'd guess that most of the tourists were Mexican nationals or otherwise Spanish speakers as that's what most of the tour guides were speaking.
Also interesting was the fact that Mexico allows vendors to sell their wares INSIDE of the heritage parks (saw this at Pelenque too). These vendors line the walkways selling just about the same stuff. It's kinda distracting and annoying. But then, after I thought that this city probably had similar vendors doing the same thing in its heyday I relaxed and...went shopping.
I bought a batik cloth with a "Mayan" influenced design and a carved wooden mask. I got a chuckle out of the male vendors sitting by their goods - all with unfinished masks at various stages of carving in their hands. Nope. These guys aren't the carvers. But tourists like to think they are so it makes for good business.
|Chichen Itza columns|
Even the vendors picked up on the skull thing and featured them on their wares. I thought of my son Brett who likes all the Mexican "Day of the Dead" stuff when I saw this serving platter. Very special. I can just see me serving cupcakes to the
And speaking of KNITTING...I've been hard at work on several new designs mostly for socks and mittens (did you see that segue coming?) That means that I've spent many hours on the computer in Excel and Word charting and writing the knitting tech talk. Frankly, my eyes started to give out and my seat was sore from sitting for too long. But I got them done!
Usually I wait until a pattern is officially published before I put a photo on my blog but after all that icky talk about skulls I thought y'all would need a little break. So here are my brand new SNOWY KITTENS Toddler Mittens.
Somewhere in my travels on the Internet one day I saw a photo of some hand knit socks that were for sale in Russia that had these kittens on them. I loved the motif so much that I carefully charted it and squeezed it into a pair of little size 2-4 mittens for a small child. The sample pair here is knit with Knit Picks Palette fingering weight wool yarns.The pattern is being tested right now and will be released to the Holiday Mystery Gifts group for the month of June. After that it will be on Ravelry.com.
So Jonesy has been busy too with boat chores as usual. But this morning he had a bigger adventure! Today, as we were enjoying the local cruisers' net on the VHF radio, a boat broke into the chat to ask for help. Seems they were sailing north from Providencia (an island owned by Colombia) up to Isla Mujeres here and had engine problems. They had been at sea for six days and were exhausted and needed a tow into a marina.
|Iguana at a local marina|
Many cruisers volunteered their dinghies and within an hour the boat (s/v Ducks in a Row) was safely tucked into a marina. Jonesy has had quite a bit of experience towing sailboats with our dinghy when we were the Host Vessel at the mooring field in West End, Roatan (Honduras). So he was the perfect guy to be out there to help. I think he's the perfect guy anyway - that's why I have him sail me around in our big boat!
Our open sea cruising season is almost over for another year. Already the weather forecast warns of a low pressure area down in the southern Caribbean which means that the area is heating up for hurricanes. We're planning to hoist the anchor on Friday and sail south to Belize. From Belize we can do a quick dash into the safety of the Rio Dulce in Guatemala should an early hurricane form. But until then, we'll stay out at sea. Life is good.
Friday, May 03, 2013
Stocking Purse Ornament
|Christmas Stocking Purse Ornament|
This little hanging purse is only 3" wide and about 7" long and is knit with Knit Picks Palette fingering weight wool yarns. Add a ribbon to tie onto the tree or as a package tie. The purse frame was found at a dollar store as a ready-made purse. I simply removed the old (glued in and squeezed into the frame) fabric so that the knit ornament could be glued into the frame instead. I haven't decorated mine yet - but I'm planning to add (sew or glue) colorful seed beads to the Christmas Trees, and perhaps clear seed beads to the snowflakes on the foot.
This little guy is big enough to hold a gift card, or any other special gift. Anyway, the pattern is free only during the month of May to members of the group. After this month, the pattern will be for sale on Ravelry.com.
|Jonesy on the seaside Malacon on Isla Mujeres|
We moved the boat yesterday from our great spot in the anchorage in the harbor. We motored through a narrow channel and up into a well-protected lagoon here on Isla Mujeres. The weather forecast is for a storm from the north to sweep through here starting tonight which will bring high winds from the northwest. As the harbor anchorage is open to the sea to the northwest, that means the wind-driven waves will roar through the harbor. Not fun. Usually the winds are from the east where the island protects us from the waves. So, we hoisted the anchor and fled to safety.
A couple of nights ago we experienced the WORST thunderstorm we've ever seen!
The lightning was so fierce that even though it was night, the whole area was lit up like daytime! The light from the flashes was a solid light reflected by the storm clouds and the strikes so brilliant that I had to close my eyes. And it was right on top of us! The squall winds were clocked by another boat at 50 knots! The gusts blew us over first on the starboard side and then over on the port side. The rain was blowing sideways which means that it came right in the ports (windows) on the hull before we scampered to close them and crank down the handles. We were fine - didn't even drag the hook although several boats did and one ended up on the rocks (but he's OK).
|Jonesy negotiates the dinghy dock - or what's left of it|
In the meantime, we'll hang out on the boat and for now, enjoy the much cooler air temperatures (78 degrees this morning) that the latest front has brought down from the north.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Isla Mujeres Mexico and Knitting
|Mono-hull sailboats are tippy|
We managed to really sail! I mean we actually turned off the engine and let the two sails do all of the work. We had a 2 knot gulfstream current running north (the right direction) so we were hauling buns at 9 knots! Our tropical-sun-fried faces were wearing big grins as we experienced one of the best sails of our cruising life. Of course it also meant that this mono-hull sailboat was heeling hard (leaning) with the port side down. Everything that wasn't nailed, glued, or velco'd on the starboard side of the boat went crashing down to the floor. There it all slid around on the floor for a day or so until it was safe for us to be down below and clean it up. In the photo above that's all my gear from my knitting workplace playing on the floor. Oh, and yes, I did find some things that I had been missing after they popped out from their hiding places behind my knitting chair.
|Stowaway Squid - in too much tropical sun|
Our usual bungie cord closure system for the fridge was inadequate for the first time in many seasons of cruising. I managed to work out a "system"; put a folding beach chair backed by a pillow across the hallway to keep the lower door closed.
Then the winds picked up and the seas got rough. Actually, the seas off of the coast of Cozumel had waves coming from all directions like a washing machine. We had to reef in the sails and power up the engine as we were "in irons" and couldn't make headway in the direction we needed to go to avoid running into land (never a good thing). Upon arrival in Isla Mujeres, we were able to go out on the aft deck and we found a squid up on deck - how had it gotten there? Probably was thrown up by a wave!
Since we've arrived we have quickly adjusted to the laid back yet full lifestyle here in Mexico! We love Isla Mujeres! The food is fabulous and I get to buy fresh, thin Mexican-style tortillas. Many of our old friends and some new ones are here so we have been social butterflies eating out in little cafes and riding the ferry over to Cancun for shopping. Every other day or so we take our dinghy to the white sand beach lined with palm trees, beach chairs, and open air restaurants to get in the warm water. It's lovely to be able to simply "bob" about in the sea. Plus strolling along in the wet sand gives our feet free and natural pedicures!
|Vivian (s/v B and B), Terry and Jonesy|
Besides beach entertainment, I've been doing a lot of knitting of course. Above are another pair of socks from my Yaneris Socks pattern only this time I used twisted stitches for the cables instead of real 1x1 cable crosses. This made the knitting so much faster! But this method also makes a tighter sock. So I made them shorter so that they will fit about a pre-teen size kid at the orphanages in Kazakhstan.
Below are some toddler sized mittens which were requested from the baby house (orphanage). I used a self-striping sock yarn combined with a solid green sock yarn for this pair. I love how fast a toddler mitten knits up! Mittens are fun (except for the final thumb knitting which is futzy).
Then I designed another pair of toddler mittens with kitty-cats on them. So far the palms are knit and all I have to do is add the thumbs (sigh).
Of course, there have been socks on the needles too. I finished up this pair of pre-teen sized socks (foot length 8") with some Regia self-striping yarn. I always need some brainless knitting going on.
The real work has been the research for my Level one TKGA
|Regia sock yarn 20cm socks|
That said...check out Arenda Holladay's blog for excellent tutorials on knitting skills. Her videos on YouTube are very clear and her tips are priceless!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Parting shots of Life in Belize
|It's HAPPY TIME|
Our new dinghy engine carburator finally flew in to the tiny island of Caye Caulker! We sure were getting a lot of exercise walking out to the airfield everyday in anticipation. But we know nothing happens fast in this part of the world so we weren't overly anxious. But it was a tremendous relief when we finally had that little 2 pound package in our hands. I say "our", but the truth is Jonesy coveted it and I never even touched the box.
Within an hour, Jonesy had the new carburator installed. He was that fast because it was the 9th time that he had taken that section of the engine apart in the last few weeks and he had really come down the learning curve on how to do it. Very soon after he was racing our power-loaded dinghy around the anchorage and zooming a circle around our friend's catamaran Blue Water Cat.
Captain Jimmy reported that Jonesy had a wide
|Drinking IS FUN until you get the gout|
That inflatable little boat is our prmary mode of transportation and thus is very important to us. Without a well-functioning engine we are practically marooned on the big boat way out at anchor. The waters of Belize are very shallow (we saw extended 6 foot depths on our trip to Caye Caulker from Robinson Island!). This means that they get too shallow for our 5 1/2 foot keel anywhere near land. We have to anchor way, way, way off of the beach. So getting to shore is either a long swim (and then you're all salty-wet and risk getting run over by a speedboat), a long paddle (and inflatables don't paddle well because of the windage) or a short trip in with a good dinghy engine.
|NIKI WIKI at anchor way, way offshore of Caye Caulker|
So it was HAPPY TIME. We knew what we were supposed to do as the signs told us.."Drinking IS FUN". We could relax and enjoy our last few days in Belize knowing that we could continue with our plans to sail to Mexico.
We spent the next few days wandering the island with friends, shopping for provisions, and taking care of the business of offically checking out of the country of Belize.
|Ferry in Belize Caye Caulker/San Pedro/Belize City|
There are no Immigration, Customs, Port Authority, norTreasury officials on Caye Caulker so it meant that one of us needed to ride the shuttle ferry over to the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. That someone was me (Terry). I'll take every opportunity to go-see-do something new.
The ferry was very comfortable. These are fully-enclosed speed boats which they pack folks into like sardines in a tin can. The ride only takes about 45 minutes dock to dock as we zoom along first the shoreline of Caye Cualker, and then the shoreline of the southern end of Ambergris Caye. The winds were still blowing pretty hard. The forecast was for the winds to lie down overnight so we were going to take this weather-window opportunity to sail north. The whole trip takes place behind the big barrier reef so there are no big ocean swells to rock the boat, just stiff and smaller wind waves.
|SAN PEDRO TOWN, BELIZE, AMBERGRIS CAYE|
SAN PEDRO TOWN, BELIZE is like Caye Caulker on steroids. There are beautiful hotels which sit on the white sand and palm tree lined beach fronts and many restaurants and small cafes. I'll bet one could even find live music here at night which is a rarity on smaller Caye Caulker. The primary means of transportation are gasoline powered golf carts which tourists can also rent.
My cha-cha dance to check out of Belize went smooth until the very last part when I was in the Immigration office for the final offical exit stamping of our passports. Suddenly the office was
|Ambergris Caye, San Pedro Town|
I removed a $50B from my wallet, still questioning the new fee and asked if I should go back to the Treasury office. "No" she said, I was to pay it directly to her. She turned to the jewelry lady who whipped out and handed me my $10B change. What's that all about? So I guessed that I had just paid our second bribe to an official in our 7 years of cruising to 9 different countries. I hope she enjoys her new jewelry. I got our passports stamped, a little peeved (that's a lot of yarn money), but glad to be able to legally continue our travels.
|"Better Not Litter" sign on Caye Caulker, Belize|
We had 24-hours to get out of the country and start our long passage up to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We'd be on the boat for 3 days so we took our final opportunity to walk on the dirt. This would also be our last shot at getting some internet service for about a week until we got settled in Mexico.
|Yep, the road crosses the runway of the Caye Caulker airfield|
Amazingly they did exactly that and almost to the hour that it was forecasted. So we hoisted the anchor and worked our way through the shallow waters towards Amergris Caye, and then out thru the narrow San Pedro cut in the reef.
Next blog post soon (I promise): Knitting and Isla Mujeres Mexico!!
Monday, April 01, 2013
Waiting in Paradise
|Caye Caulker, Belize Airport|
Here's Jonesy standing at the Caye Caulker, Belize "airport" waiting for his part to arrive. Maybe tomorrow they say. After all it was Easter week last week and everyone is sleeping off the big partying that's been going on today. We know from tracking data that the part has been through the FedEx hub in Memphis and is now in Florida so it'll get here soon.
So we've been happily tromping about the island checking everything out. Other than that, we've simply been living on the boat reading, knitting, and watching movies and TV shows in the evening.
|"Middle Street" Caye Caulker and Jonesy|
Finally it is April 1st and I can share TWO new knitting patterns of mine that are released today. First up are Carol's Garden Socks . These socks were inspired by my friend Carol's beautiful and abundant organic garden in Oregon. I had fun adding the chickens to the
|Carol's Garden Socks|
Anyway, these socks start with tiny scallops on the 1x1 ribbed cuff, then the knitter can choose whatever colors they want for the different motifs. The pattern will be available for free only during the months of April and May 2013. After that, it will be on Ravelry for purchase.
Then, on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group they are releasing the Snowflake Biscornu Ornament. This little 3 1/2" diameter stuffed ornament is knit in stranded color work like the socks in two pieces from the outside to the centers. Then the two pieces are joined with a 3-needle bind off. The center is pulled in with a button. Just another fun little project for the
Advent Calendar of Ornaments project.
|Snowflake Biscornu Ornament|
|Snowflake Biscornu side view|
|The Homemade Ice Cream shack, Caye Caulker Belize|
Oh! We found the homemade ice cream stand here on Caye Caulker! Yummy. Jonesy had Rocky Road with the marshmallows being those pastel fruit flavored ones. Plain white marshmallows are a rarity down in this part of the world and usually all we can find are those fruity ones too. I had Blueberry Cheesecake because it's been way too long since I tasted a blueberry (up at Carol's house in Oregon).
Tomorrow is another day and we may just receive our carburetor. Or we may have to simply sign and pay duties then get the dang part later. We've been warned by other cruisers that that's sometimes how it works. Speaking of
|Jonesy manages the sunset in Caye Caulker, Belize|
Thursday, March 28, 2013
|Caye Caulker, Belize|
We had a thrill yesterday evening. A catamaran came close to our boat on their way up to the shallows to anchor and when they spotted Jonesy they called out to him. "We love your blog - we've been reading it for years" hollered a man on the catamaran! What a hoot! I got goose-shivers! Unfortunately, they were one of the boats that sailed off this morning so we didn't get a chance to chat. We are still giggling and smiling about it today.
So, the beach photo above was taken just 2 hours ago while I was out scoping sites to take photos of my newly finished pair of socks. Even though it is Easter Week, there aren't a lot of people about. We do see groups of college aged young and healthy folks wandering around with sunburnt skin but not nearly as many as we expected. We wish our sons could have come down to play on the boat.
|Eggplant Parmigiana Socks|
See? I've been busy. I finished these Eggplant Parmigiana Socks by Nicole Rodgers for her recent KnitAlong.
To be able to post this blog, and do anything that involves the internet, we have to come ashore. Actually we love coming ashore here! Caye Caulker is a quaint little island with flat crushed coral streets that make walking fun. Most residents and tourists walk everywhere, some ride bikes, and a few drive golf carts. The streets are spotless and are even raked every day! What a change from other places we've been!
We have already researched the different little grocery stores (interestingly all owned by Chinese people). Prices are eye-popping! After a few days you just get used to it. Even so, when Vivian (my new friend that I miss already) and I saw a baggie of sugar marked "11b" we were outraged. 11 dollars Belizean is $5.50US. Heck they grow sugarcane in Belize! Vivian, we were wrong...the marking is 1 lb for one pound of sugar and costs 55cents Belizean!
We found a lovely lady to wash our laundry. We don't like to (hand) wash on the boat as it releases detergents into the fragile reef environment - oh, and it roughs up my hands which negatively impacts my knitting and makes me hot, sweaty and crabby.
We've found a couple of friendly restaurants and bars who encourage us to bring our laptops and use the wifi if we buy something. So we buy our lunch and enjoy the breezes.
Here we are at Bambooze Restaurant and Bar on the beach. We sat on swings at the bar as that is where there was a power outlet for Jonesy's battery challenged laptop. Sorry for the awful quality of the photo. There is just so much difference between the inside shade and the bright tropical sun.
We've ordered a replacement carburetor for the 15hp Yamaha outboard engine. We've been fighting an expanding problem with how the motor runs. The carburator has been taken apart 8 times now by not only Jonesy but two other hired mechanics. Finaly they tried simply to put a known good carburetor on our balky motor and it worked! Of course, there is not a single spare carburetor to be found in Belize, so we ordered one from the states and it is now on it's way FedEx down to us here. Our address here? Simply: c/o Tropic Air, Middle Street, Caye Caulker, Belize City. Tropic air operates little Cessna Caravan airplanes between spots
|Niki Wiki at anchor on the lee side of Caye Caulker, Belize|
Now here's something wierd. After spending time in Belize, our ears have gotten tuned into Caribbean music including reggae. Sure, we've liked some of this before, but now we CHOOSE to listen to the "Joint" station on our Sirus radio. See? Even old cruisers can gain new appreciations for different cultural expressions. Who would have thunk?
Life is good.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Not Always Palm Trees and White Sand Beaches
|Oil Barges in Robinson Caye|
We, and the professional weather gurus, thought that the late winter storms from the north were done terrorizing us for another year. Nope. We have again had to hole-up in a safe place to wait out another one of these "norther" brutes. Sailboats all throughout Belize, Mexico, and the Bay Islands of Honduras scrambled a couple of days ago to relocate to anchorages which give better protection from north and northwest winds and waves. Not just the 25 to 30 knot winds, but also the high seas and rain that accompany them. It's no fun riding a boat which is rocking, rolling and bucking like a hobby-horse on worn out springs. Things break, including humans in these conditions. It's not just uncomfortable, but there is the risk of pulling the anchor off the bottom and taking a walkabout (dragging) to someplace you don't want to be, like on the reef.
|Entertainment: A tugboat moves the barges during the strong winds|
We had a lovely night as the only sailboat under the stars in calm water. There we traded bottles of rum, tequila and vodka for over 5 pounds of fresh-caught and filleted snapper with the fellows from the fish camp on one of the cays. That's my most successful fishing this year! I use Liquor Lures.
The weather forecast on the sideband radio network put the storm out a couple of more days so we had time to sail north up to another group of isolated cays. Robinson cays are, again, mostly mangrove mounds but they offer more protection from the incoming storm. So, above is a photo of our view as were were tucked safely away with a couple of oil barges ("lighters") until the blow dissipates. Yep. We were here alone to wait out the storm with scenic oil barges and scrubby mangrove cays as the view, but not for long.
A tugboat arrived and asked us to move for a a few minutes so they could swing both barges out and go to work. Of course we happily complied (who wants a barge bashing into them driven by the wind?). So we hoisted the anchor and took a little motor trip in the narrow channels within the mangroves. It was an interesting little tour including going aground in the mud once, and having to spin this 50-foot boat around in a narrow, and shallow area and not hit the other sailboat which had anchored there for one night. Let's just say there were some tense moments, and we were very relieved to anchor again in our spot after the tug and barges left.
|Alone among the mangroves - See? No waves!|
|DAK canned ham - ugly, but tasty|
We did tap into our shelf-stable storage just for some variety. OK, I just gotta say these DAK canned hams are not what they used to be years ago. They are now more like coarse SPAM with scary bits of fat and pink-ham-slime. But it tasted yummy crumbled (as it couldn't be sliced), fried and mixed in eggs.
|New VHF radio|
Next, Jonesy tackled our weak transmission signal on our SSB (Short Wave Radio). He climbed up the back stay, then dove down into the bilge under the rear bunk to clean corrosion off of the antenna connectors. They are clean now, but we still aren't getting our signal out very far.
I finished the bottom ribbing, then cut off the cuffs and reknit them looser and longer in plain rib. Finally, I have picked up and knit the two sides of the zipper placket, and am now working the neck edge. After so many years in my UFO stack, this sweater is going to be done. Zippers are wildly inexpensive in Mexico and we'll be there in a couple of weeks.
|Manatee viewing site - note how close we were to the mangroves!|
We watched a manatee loiter about off of the stern of the boat, and our favorite topic of discussion was what we would eat for the next meal. Such is the rhythm of life at anchor in a group of remote cays off of the coast of Belize.
|Corrosion on copper connector for the SSB|
Thursday, March 07, 2013
We Be in Belize
|View of Placencia, Belize from Niki Wiki|
First we motored down river to spend a couple of nights in a relatively safe cove, Texan Bay (aka Burnt Key) to let all of our off-shore systems run and get a last minute check. Jonesy rode the water taxi down to the port town of Livingston and did the paperwork cha-cha to check both us and the boat out of Guatemala. In Latin America we are always required to also have a piece of paper called a "Zarpe" which is permission to leave one country and travel by sea to another. Of course if all costs money. I stayed on the Niki Wiki in Texan Bay and knit (and made sure that nothing burst, leaked, growled, went dark, etc. and to guard the boat from locally known thieves).
When it was time for the high tide, we safely crossed over the sand bar and simply headed out to "Tres Puntas", a large peninsula in Guatemala and dropped the anchor for the night. As we passed Livingston we were surprised at the large number of pelicans hanging out! We have never been in this area this late in the year so we figure these seabirds had migrated into the area. Also while passing Livingston, I turned on my computer and managed to get a wifi signal so I could send a quick message out to our friends telling them that we'd be a few days later to Placencia than we had told them earlier. That was our first access to internet in 3 days and was to be our last for another week.
Our plan was, and still is, to travel during daylight hours. Overnight sailing is exhausting so if we can break up our passages into day-hops we will do so and love it. The islands of Belize will allow us to do that this year. We enjoyed our first night at sea anchored in Tres Puntas, gently rocking. An immature Ibis stood stock still along the beach under the cover of the mangroves. What a treat!
|Latvian Style Gift Card Pouch Ornament|
Early the next morning we hoisted the anchor and motor-sailed to Belize. Our first stop was the small harbor of New Haven which offered excellent protection from the forecasted storm coming down from the north. Other than two other sailboats that came and went, we were alone for our 3 night stay. There were no people on the shores, and we only saw one open fishing boat motor across the mouth of the bay. The strong winds came in as expected so we simply stayed on the boat and entertained ourselves. I knit until my hands were stiff and Jonesy made a few little repairs just for fun. Now, remember, I also need to prepare all of our meals onboard so there was a LOT of cooking going on. I even baked a gluten-free cornbread and pressure-cooked a butternut squash and made a squash dessert like pumpkin pie.
The winds from the storm were quite nippy (in the 60's) so it was a great time to get the galley oven going while I had plenty of wind flying through the boat. The storm passed through quickly so soon it was calm enough to enjoy a day sail up to Placencia.
So here we are! First order of business was to head to shore and dance another paperwork cha-cha. We walked through town (getting our land legs) and hopped aboard the Hokey Pokey water taxi to Mango Creek. Even though the sign clearly stated "No Loafers" they still let us ride.
I guess we clean up real nice when we try. Along with two other couples we hired a taxi to take us the couple of miles to the Immigration Office, Customs, and the Port Authority (Captain).
|Jonesy waiting in the Immigration office in Big Creek, Belize|
|New home of the Port Captain and Customs in Big Creek, Belize|
So what has been all the knitting going on? For the most part I am trying to knock out some UFO (UnFinished Objects). The biggest and oldest project is my FLAK Aran Cabled sweater. Knitting a sweater all in one piece from the top down sounded like a great idea when I started. But it just doesn't work so great in the tropics. It's just too dang hot to have a large wool sweater on my lap. So I can only work on it when there is a nice sea breeze – like the last week. Right now I'm on the ribbed lower edge. After that I only have to add the neck treatment and zipper closure!! This "monster" as I've named it will be sent to the kids in the orphanage in Kazakhstan.
Socks, too, have been keeping me entertained. I have a new pattern in test so I knit the second sock of the pair for the photo sample. In years past I would only knit one sock for the picture on the pattern, but now that I have a place to send PAIRS of socks I am more motivated to work that dreaded second sock. Then I'm still chugging along on the chartreuse socks but because I didn't have access to internet I didn't have the last two parts of the pattern – but now I do!
March 1st was the release date for one of my new ornament patterns to the Holiday Mystery gifts Yahoo group. The photo higher up in this post is the LATVIAN STYLE GIFT CARD POUCH ORNAMENT. I've always loved the detailed color work of the traditional wool mittens from Latvia. When you give a gift card, or cash as a Christmas gift you need to dress-it-up a bit to make it festive. So if you're a knitter, you can whip one of these up with your leftover fingering or sock weight yarns. Enjoy!
Friday, February 22, 2013
Ship-Shape and Ready to Cruise
|Pixie and Ellen Shopping|
Of course that also meant that I needed to continue grocery shopping. One of the fun benefits of living "on the river" is the weekly visit by Esperanza. When the business that she worked for decided not to provide this meat and dairy products delivery service anymore, she put together her own shop in town and continued the personal delivery. This young Guatemalan gal is quite the entrepreneur isn't she? She's extended the offerings to include fresh fruits and vegetables which we all adore. So every Tuesday we hang around the docks in the marina here so we can be first in line to make our selections.
And because we had some extra time, Jonesy also managed to squeeze in some not-so-critical repairs to the boat. We had lost our wind indicator (vane) which sits way up high on top of our mast. How? Friggin' Frigate birds. These "magnificent" big sea birds love to sit up on top of the mast. But their weight has caused the delicate wind indicator to bend. Several times we have paid folks to go up the mast and make repairs. This last time the dang thing just broke right off and disappeared into the sea. Sure, we have electronic wind speed and direction indicators, but simply looking up is a lot easier to quickly grasp the wind direction.
|Man up Mast - Niki Wiki gets a Wind Indicator|
Another pleasure has been being able to spend some time with my friend Teresa and her Read Smocking Machine! Teresa used to make smocked dresses for her daughter many years ago (said kid is now 30-years old) and she has hung onto this precious machine. We set it up and smocked a length of fabric for me to embroider. This will be the yoke of a sundress for my 1-year old niece Ella. The machine saves a bunch of time! Without it I would have to carefully space and hand sew the 8 lines of gathers. Now I can just dive into the embroider which is the fun stuff!
Of course there has been a lot of knitting going on too. Mostly I've been doing mindless knitting of socks for the teenagers in the orphanages of Kazakhstan. But there's also been brain-bashing charting and writing of complicated instructions of new designs for other hand knitters.
|Beautiful young women in Kazakhstan with handknit socks|
|Jonesy's Perkins Punk Necklace|
Off we go! (we hope)