Madrona

1A84D652-93E3-4291-9AB5-B597BEEC1C7EI spent the weekend with friends at the annual Madrona winter fiber retreat in Tacoma, Washington.  Four days of classes and vendors and hanging out with people who understand that knitting is an appropriate activity pretty much anywhere.

There were opportunities to see all sorts of examples of the crafts, from the stylish sheep in the pic above to even more intricate samples.

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The inexhaustive options offered by yarn were inspiring.

The Murano hotel where the retreat is held is within walking distance of the Museum of Glass and the decor is all about glass – which is similarly inexhaustive in its varieties.

55CDAB07-5148-4A8D-B60D-620A4A5A9B0AOur favorite was the kind that came with a drink in it.  I highly recommend the Murano’s chai vodka sidecars.

I didn’t take classes this time and I didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon, but I learned a lot from my friends and spent time knitting and spinning.  I also spent a lot of time wandering the vendors.  So many beautiful colors and ways to display them!

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I kept my head and came home only with a new bobbin for my wheel.

But I also found a pattern I loved that I had enough yarn for in my stash.  I cast on as soon as I got home Sunday afternoon, even managing to coordinate my tea mug with the yarn.

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The pattern is a cardigan called Woodfords, and the yarn is Silky Wool.  The construction is very interesting — I’ve had to trust the pattern rather than understand it in advance and just dive in to each section as the sweater grows out in various directions.

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So far I’ve cast on with long tail and provisionally, picked up stitches, knitted in three different directions in two different stitch patterns, and added a braid in what will become the upper back.  It all seems to be working so far.

 

Covering the walls

Our previous house had very few wall spaces that were free of windows or doors, so we moved into the current house without a lot of things to hang on the wall.  One of my favorites that we do have is a wood and metal framed mirror that I bought in a trip to South Africa.

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I bought it impulsively, and then discovered that it wouldn’t even fit in the rental car — I’m not sure how I thought it was going to fit in a suitcase.  I walked right back into the shop and they mailed it to the States for me, minus the glass.  Except I lived in Israel at the time, so it sat in a friend’s storage until we moved back.  I was so happy to be reunited with it several years later.

I love everything about it: all the metal colors, the cute animals, the little nails holding all the pieces together.

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The wall hanging I’ve been working on is for the same hall.  I wanted the colors and feeling to go with it, minus the creatures.

Today, yet another snow day (those foothills on the side of the school district keep even those of us on the rainy lowlands out of school) meant sewing time to finish up the binding and hanging sleeve.

It was hard to get a picture of it hanging because of the narrow hall.  I didn’t have a dowel so it is just pinned, and at some point I need to dampen it and toss it in the dryer as it got overly pressed in places while I worked on the binding, but it is done, and up, and works in the space.  I left room between it and the mirror to hang some smaller pictures in the future.

I started without a real design plan in mind and it morphed a lot along the way, but I’m calling it a success.

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(I stood inside the coat closet to take this picture.)

 

Summer’s end

 

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I go back to work tomorrow, and it rained yesterday for the first time in a couple months, so I guess we are finally letting go of summer.

There was very little fiber or fabric in my summer.  Too busy, too distracted, and just never in the mood.

Instead, we remodeled, and traveled, and lazed, in about equal amounts.

I took the first major road trip we’ve ever done with the kids.  My sister and I loaded up a 1970s tent trailer and the boys and took off for California, driving south for 8 days.  We stayed mainly in state parks along the way.

We stayed in the redwoods first.

And then headed over to the coast:

We saw wild and aquarium creatures of all sorts:

The boys enjoyed every minute of it, of course.

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(And oh, how I wish I could have recorded their appalled voices when they found out that national forests don’t supply wifi!  Insert evil mother’s laugh here.)

At the end of the eight days we reached Anaheim, dropped my sister at the airport, and greeted my husband, who had flown down to join us, and we temporarily traded the trailer for an air-conditioned hotel.

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Then it was a week of heat, and rollercoasters, and junk food.  It was the kids’ first time at Disney and Universal Studios, and my first time in 20 years.  I have really mixed feelings about that part of the trip.  It was crowded, and expensive, and exhausting, and omg-level hot, but it was also fun, and nostalgic, and scary, and funny.

And so much screaming.  My husband doesn’t do heights and falling, so I was designated rollercoaster parent.  So Much Screaming.  I may never recover from the Guardians of the Galaxy drops or the twists of the IncrediCoaster.  Frankly, I barely made it through the sliding gondolas of the California Adventure Ferris wheel.  My youngest and I clung to each other to the point of bruising on each ride.  But we were proud of ourselves after we shakily exited each car and shook the blood back into our limbs.

And now they can say we have taken them to Disney and we don’t have to do it again for another 15-20 years!

The last leg of the trip was a bit truncated.  We dropped Roni off at the airport, and the plan was for me and the boys to drive up I-5, stopping at historical spots and in the mountains along the way, but wildfires put an end to that.  Once we got to Sacramento, the smoke was starting to get bad, and the huge Redding fire meant it only got worse the further north that we got.  So, we sped up the plans and cancelled a lot of stops, and made it home in four days.

It was arid, and smoky, and we were a bit vacationed out, so it was just as well.  And once the tires on the elderly trailer started to go, I was about done with camping.

All in all, it was a great trip. The kids got to swim in pools and rivers.

They saw new parts of the country and drove some really twisty roads, and some really straight ones..

We learned that we really like tent trailer camping (no sleeping on the ground!) and I think we are going to buy one.

And I learned that changing a tire on the side of I-5 is possible, but not pleasant.

We are definitely going to hit the road again on future vacations.  But with newer tires.

And in all that time, and all those miles, this is how much knitting I got done:

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Getting away

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Another fiber friends weekend has flashed past.  This time we met up halfway between the northern people and the southern people, at an Air BnB house in Olympia.  Tucked into a quiet little neighborhood we sewed and spun and knit and played with fiber.  Also, there was wine.  🙂

I cut out and sewed most of three more tunics based on the Dress No. 2 pattern.  I got as far as the neck bands before I broke the sewing machine needle on a misplaced pin and had to stop.  But look at this book card fabric I found!  Perfect for my job as a high school librarian.

Leslie 1 (50% of the group is named Leslie) brought her blending board and showed us how to make rolags, which you need if you want to spin in true woolen fashion.  And it makes it really easy to mix up colors and fiber types.  There is cotton, wool, angora, and alpaca in those sample rolls.

I added another big chunk to my 1×1 ribbed stash-eating scarf.  I’m holding three strands together for a marled effect.

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There was knitting in public, which greatly intrigued the wait staff at the Three Magnets Brewing Co. when we ventured out of the house in search of cold drinks on a very hot day.

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Look at all the handspun my friend Paige has created and accumulated! This is just the fraction I could fit in the photo.

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I tremendously enjoy each of these weekend getaways.  Like minded people laughing together, plus fiber.  How can that not be great?

 

Check one off the bucket list

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I’d never seen the Grand Canyon close up.  I flew over it once in a small plane – something like 30 years ago – but I’d never stood on the edge and gazed.

Now I have.  It was amazing.  Overpowering.

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We drove up from the Phoenix area on the scenic route that goes through the red rock hills of Sedona, which are pretty amazing themselves.

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It was a bit of a whirlwind trip – we arrived in the evening on a Wednesday, so stuck to the fairly crowded viewing sites around the main visitor’s center for that evening.  The next day, after an overnight in a motel in Williams, AZ, which prides itself on being a stop on the famous Route 66 highway, we went back and spent the full day exploring along the southern rim.

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We started by hiking down into the canyon on the Bright Angel trail.  We did only a very small segment, just the first mile or so, because I kept reminding my sister and children that there was a very real possibility they would have to carry me out – an easy downhill makes for a very difficult, steep, upward climb on the return trip.  Signs the park has posted included illustrations of people throwing up, overcome by the climb out.  No one wanted that!

This is a partial view of the part that we walked, along with a lot of other people.  Mules had left a lot of clear signs that they also used the trail, which we carefully maneuvered around.

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This is more of the trail, showing where I called a halt – we stopped at the top of the extreme switchbacks that you see starting there.  Overall, we spent about two hours going down and up.  Enough to get a sense of the ambition and endurance of those who hike all the way down – it is a two day trip to get to the river and back out again by foot.

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There is a very helpful shuttle bus system set up along the rim that we used for the rest of the day.  It is a hop-on-hop-off system stopping at a multitude of overlooks.  The further out we got, the fewer the people, so there was a chance to stop and really look out over the canyon and think about how amazing nature’s processes are.

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We went full tourist at one point and faked some falling-from-the-edge shots to freak out the Grandmas on Facebook.

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Some grew a little weary of looking at scenic rocks.

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We met elk and learned that they eat pine needles.  A hard way to make a living.

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But mostly we just looked, and looked, and looked.  I just couldn’t have imagined how impressed I was going to be.

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The next morning we had to head back to Grandma’s, but we are already in family discussions about signing up for a hiking/rafting/mule trip in the future for the extended family.

Sad as we were to leave the Grand Canyon, the return to the pool was very welcome.

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And, because this is supposed to be a craft blog, not a family vacation blog, I’ll sneak in a picture of the mini-quilt that I made my mom a while back, that hangs on her hall wall:

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This was my first use of beads on a quilt.  I’m really itching to embroider some more cacti as well after all that time in Arizona, so we’ll see where that takes me in the near future.

 

 

 

Olympic fever

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I am not a sports person.  I can identify many of them if I see them – “That is a baseball!”  “That is a hockey puck!” “Look, that woman is bicycling!” – but I don’t know a lot about the rules, players, or records.  My life feels okay, despite this.

Yet, I love the Olympics.  Not the player bios that all seem to have tragedies-overcome-redemption videos that NBC dwells on far too much, but the actual Olympic events.  I watch the Super G, even though I don’t know what the G stands for without a quick google.  I watch the biathelon with my son, who is intrigued by sports that require weapons.  I spent a lot of time this week discussing curling with my friends.  (We all want to try curling, mostly for the teflon shoe sliding. )

It is weird, and not easily explained, but every two years I get all settled in and watch non-stop sports (with breaks for night, and work) and then I forget all about sports until the next time the flame is lit.

There used to be a knitting Olympics.  I don’t know if it still exists online, but people would start a project during the opening ceremonies, and race to be done with it before the flame was extinguished at the end.  I decided to do a knitting Olympics project this year.

Snow colored yarn seemed appropriate.  And an outdoorsy sort of pattern, since all those skiers and snowboarders are going to be out in frozen nature for their competitions.  Plus I’m back on a lace knitting kick.  Understoried, the wrap version, fit all the right criteria.  I cast on during the opening ceremonies.

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And, like a crashing speed skater, I quickly realized that I will not be bringing home the gold.  How did I think I could knit 1000 yards of fingering yarn in two weeks?  Especially since right after I began, I had to stop to knit a hat my son demanded for an upcoming camping trip.

I’m on the 8th repeat of the first chart of Understoried.  The chart requires 14 repeats.  There are four or five more charts to come. I am announcing now that this wrap is not going to get finished by the end of the final ceremonies.  I’m going to be that last struggling athlete across the finish line.  Sometime in March, maybe.

But it is lovely to knit, and it is growing, albeit slowly, and I’m still going to call it my Olympic wrap.  Someday, when it is done.

My son’s hat was a much speedier knit, and my official finish for the week.  I’ve knit a number of hats from this pattern in the past, and it never fails to please.  Stretchy so it fits many head sizes, adaptable to any yarn, a little twisted stitch cable detail to keep it from being boring.  It is a winner, deserving of time on the podium. The pattern is Jesse’s Christmas hat.  The yarn is a random unlabeled green from the stash that my son chose.  I’m just now noticing it is remarkably similar in looks to the one posted on the pattern’s website!

I knit the finished hat, and also began the unfinished wrap, while we were in Seattle this weekend.  We watched the opening ceremonies from our hotel room and then spent much of the weekend out revisiting favorite tourist sites – eating crumpets and smoothies at Pike Place Market, watching the octopus at the aquarium, going up in the waterfront ferris wheel, and riding across the Sound on a ferry.  It was a really wonderful break, and the kind hotel bartender even let us have control of the cable remote so we could keep the TV filled with alpine skiing and curling matches in the evenings while we met up with relatives.

We’re back at home now, and back to work, but there is a four day weekend coming up quickly, so me and my knitting will be parked in front of the TV, cheering on the best of the best.

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