Category Archives: hiking

Autumn home and away

We finally made it back to Italy.

I17-fonte pacile

New needy house, new needy dog, future uncertainties, and the fluctuating costs of travel kept us away for the last few years. It was all over in a flash though, and I’ve never been less interested in returning to my home country…

I17-monte amaro

But for a few brilliantly sunny days we hiked some familiar and new trails, ate some familiar and new food, and stuck much closer to the familiar little city, but in a new little house.

I like mountains. #italia #appenini #abruzzo #majellanationalpark

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We were oddly thwarted from many planned days – mountain passes closed (since just after we were there last 3 years ago!), restaurants too crowded for lunch, other places inexplicably shuttered – but we found other routes and other places and all was fine in the end.

I17-celano golle-n & tree

Even better than fine – my shredded knees kept their complaining to a minimum and I finally felt their restrictive grip released a bit for the first time in years.

(And Italy is always downright magical in terms of taking away all of my allergies and mild dairy/digestive issues…)

But there’s always one hike that flirts with going very wrong in every trip, right? One new-to-us trail that was supposed to be an easy/lazy couple hour meander suitable for infants and elderly (according to a tourist map) took a turn for the tired, sweaty, and absurd and involved mildly frightening encounters with wild boars, an unavoidable boot-sucking mud pit, and hand over hand scrambling underneath power lines.

I17-endurance

It all went tits up when the trail markers ceased and all signs pointed (inexplicably in english) for endurance in all directions. But the tourist map was still accurate for way finding, though it left the infants and elderly in the dust looking for their broken glasses.

And several hitchhikers joined me for a few excursions – the mantis population seemed to have exploded and grown to monstrous proportions.

I17-mantis

And we sought N’s ancestors and ancestral places – finally finding a house (or what was left), but not graves – most of the town was pointlessly annihilated in WWII.

I17-interior

I missed visiting with a few fiber folks and buying wool, but I ate the beast from which it comes and sipped from the same fonts.

The weather was entirely perfect, the autumn in full color, and the markets still stocked with the peaks of harvests.

But autumn is still here at home – even a bit slower perhaps – and the white throated sparrows are back, and the garden is still giving us patty pans, carrots, greens, and a few last winter squash…

It's eat or be eaten… #organicgardening #rampicante #squash #vintagependleton #wintersquash #gardening

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But we also returned to a dead boiler, yet more job rejections for me, and my need to re-enter the shitzoo that passes for public healthcare in this (currently really fucked up) country.

I17-gelato

So while my mountain sunshiny vitamin D high wears off, and I’m not making up work hours, I’m getting my nesting game on – clearing out (or at least organizing) the clutter, shaking out the woolens, considering baking a bit, debating yet again if one of those light alarm clocks is worth the clams, and knitting and spinning with more ferocity to keep my hands warm.

And snuggling with the beast.

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Crazy 8s

My manic knitting episode didn’t last long – it was triggered by the need to pack a week’s worth of projects for a trip up to the White Mountains with a rainy forcast – but all new attempts were thwarted, so I’m back to being monogamish to what’s on the needles now.

I started the Amiga a few days before we left thinking it was possible that I could be done and wearing it by July. I used US 9 needles to get a better drape (some of the others I’ve seen on ravelry with this yarn look a bit thick or stiff) but the 9s ended up being a bit too loose.

(Bamboo needles for stitch holding purposes only – just knitting one row of this cotton blend on to them took me down for the rest of the day.)

But then I couldn’t find my 8 tips. I knew with certainty that I didn’t have a current project on 8s, and couldn’t remember the last time I’d used them, and I was pretty certain I’d never used my 8 tips at all… So that project didn’t make the cut.

So I packed a small paper pieced quilt, a thrift unraveler, and 4 knits – only 1 of which was new and not yet on the needles.

On the first rainy day, I stared a cabled reflective hat for N.

Though I remembered to pack a few sizes of needles, I forgot that the old dpn packs have only 4 needles, not 5, so I started it on 3 US 8 needles, but kept dropping stitches off the tips and it was driving me bats – I added a fourth US 7 needle to the mix but by then I’d screwed up a cable too and had had enough. I thought if I re-started it on the full set of 7 dpns top-down and knit it plain I’d whiz through it and he might be able to wear it on the trip, but it was too tight on the 7s, and again, I don’t like bamboo needles unless the yarn is super slick, and I prefer doing the main part of hats on circulars and didn’t have them packed with me (and the 8 tips were still awol anyway).

So I knit, and knit, and knit on that firey sontag.

And amazingly, my hands & wrists were okay with marathon sessions, so I condensed what was likely 2 months of my painful knitting rate into a week.

My favorite color change was this brief moment of pink-grey – reminded me of things from my past, not specific and not necessarily happy, but familiar – I’m inexplicably drawn to dirty pinkish these last few years…

I took just a few breaks – one to prep a thrift cashmere tank for unraveling, and the other to shoot and reacquaint myself with the Paulie cardigan, perhaps even knock out a few rows.

I tried it on the skunk, and only after I shot it did I realize…

skunk paulie had the 8s.

Why?

I’m knitting this sweater on 2s. I’m guessing I needed said 2s (yes, for this hat likely) and put the 8s on to save the stitches knowing I’d never used the 8s and it wasn’t likely I would.  So even if I’d planned to work on it while away, I couldn’t have.

But I had one last back-up – the Paris Toujours I started in the mountains last summer.

I love it, but I didn’t work on it, but I will – I’d like to be wearing it by early fall (or perhaps I’ll knit on it during another mountain trip then).

But there was some great weather too and I managed to get on the trails a little bit – my good knee is now my bad knee and I’m dealing with pain and the clumbsiness of favoring the other, formerly bad side now – it’s still bad, but not as bad as the newly bad – I’m just grinding down on bones now, no longer receiving the sharp bite of torn cartiledge.

We did a few short woods trails, a lovely pond, and a pretty impressive waterfall.

But taking it easy was the biggest accomplishment.

And Rocco was the most relaxed we’d ever seen him at the cabin – no road in sight, nor people, or animals – he only barked twice at some hummingbirds and a scent – either bear or turkey – not a single full tantrum/rage/freakout the whole week – until spying a bichon frise 50 yards away at a rest stop on the way home.

I got some quality time with the foliage – forget-me-nots, mosses & lichens, ferns – in the few acres around the cabin.

I like moss. #moss

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(Yeah, most of that is lichen).

And ate some of it (from a food co-op, not foraged) cooked up by N and other spring tasties too…

Going up north also means going back in time to tasty spring eats again… #fiddleheads

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As well as sweets (and of course pancakes) I usually only buy up there.

We’re home to the heat and finally productive, but needy garden (though some asshole ate half the onions and squash plants), and my wrist hurts again, so the knitting has sloooooowed down once more.

 

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Not a Paris vacation

We headed north to the Adirondacks for a much needed vacation recently.

adk-weathervane

We packed up our hiking gear, the dog and his gear, and lots and lots of our garden’s bounty.

adk-tomatoes

We usually stay in the High Peaks region where good grocery and produce options are few, so we usually bring a week’s worth of food with us.

N still manages to make fancy stuff with limited ingredients.

adk-tuna tomatoes

(Tuna balsamico is a regular staple either in a sandwich on the trail or stuffed into things, or both).

adk-rain

The trip up sucked, and the weather was somewhat crummy on and off, but thankfully the cabin had a generous covered porch. And the rain brought somewhat cooler temperatures that seemed downright lovely for our heat-soaked hides.

Cabin bathroom was a wee bit humid… #fungusamongus #toilettoadstool #shrooms #mushroom #mushroominthehouse

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(And mushrooms in the floor.)

But it was cool enough to consider touching wool again, so I immediately cast on for a Paris Toujours.

adk-stitch marker

The beginning wasn’t without incident and I might go into detail later – a very minor pattern issue – and it’s a pattern that doesn’t really need a pattern anyway. And of course I forgot my stitch markers again – and I think I prefer the twist tie now…

The yarn is frogged from a thrift sweater and is kitten/bunny/puppy/mouse soft.

I ended up frogging a few more short sections from between the button holes before we left and I’m glad I did – I got nearly a foot of shawl for it and the yarn easily accepted the spit (hot air huff) splice.

adk-rocco model

The dog failed as a knitwear model.

And as a trail dog on the busier park trails – he’s still too much of an asshole to be around others – but he made a good porch companion and was so much calmer that week without kids on bikes, runners, dogs, cats, certain kinds of jalopies, mail carriers, and garbage trucks going by.

adk-porch with dog

I didn’t get much time on the trails but I got a good chunk of knitting done – the most I’ve done in months. I knocked out a heel and instep on one of the pair of yellow & teal very occasional socks, a few more rows on the last washcloth, and worked a bit on a very long-term hexagon quilt.

adk-shawl start

The weather was the most glorious on our last day and I felt like the vacation had only just begun – yes, a common feeling, but this time it was too real.

adk-shawl in sun

And now this oh-so-soft shawl has remained untouched since we returned – the garden called for too much tendon-aggravating attention and the temperature has once again soared…

Too short vacation. #sunset #latesummer #adk #adirondacks #highpeaks

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From foot to face

I have a lot of socks – many, and the most frequently worn, are wool, and an equal number or more are cotton which I don’t wear much except the “sport” style for summer walking, more aged ones for home improvement/yard tasks, and a few decent ones for those scarce days that are too cool for bare feet but too warm for wool and perfect for thin wool (but I have the fewest of those). Most are leftover from work and my days of living without a washing machine wherein quality of life meant fewer trips to the laundromat.

But I’m getting more and more organized and for shits and giggles konmaried the whole lot. Folding*, that is – socks don’t spark much joy so I keep them until they’re 100% unwearable/unmendable so I haven’t had to buy new ones in ages, and I still appreciate the broken-down ones.

But I was left with a couple of pairs of 25+ year-old cotton and wool socks that have never quite served a purpose – too much cotton for cold outdoors activities (cotton can kill and/or loose toes), but too thick for warm ones, and not enough wool for warmth and elasticity. (The wool is the thinner grey-brown strand of the marl.)

So I finally decided to kill, rather than darn, a pair with blown-out heels.

foot face-before

But the yarn of the cuff felt nearly perfect still, and useful for something

foot face-unraveling

So I cut it above the worst of the heel, and it unraveled well from the bottom up.

foot face-elastic

(It also had an annoying near-invisible thread of elastic that I painstakingly picked out.)

foot face-balls

And I was left with a couple of good-sized balls of enough yards to become something.

I didn’t want it to be socks again, nor any other wearable thing, but it hit me that the blend would be perfect for washcloths/dish cloths.

So I cast on for Grandmother’s Favorite dish cloth and knit to 68 stitches wide on US 4 needles

foot face-during

The fabric ended up being better than I’d expected – lovely natural colors and good drape.

foot face - after

So I started on a second, and will try to salvage some yardage from the worse for wear (mostly pilled) feet for a third.

They might be too “nice” for the dishes now though…

*The folded socks ended up returning to their more fluid balled state shortly thereafter – if the drawer isn’t overstuffed, it doesn’t really matter how they go in as long as they’re paired.

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Camo for crocuses in the snow; Blizzard socks

blizzard-zepplins

Our cars decided that they wanted to become zeppelins during last week’s blizzard.

blizzard-shoveling

And N had an excuse to break out his awesome vintage plaid wool pants.

blizzard-sock inside

And I had the time to sit on my ass and finish my latest socks while watching the snow fall and then get shoveled away while my toes stayed propped up and toasty.

(Yes, that is snow piled against the window, even after it was knocked down several times – the storm wanted darkness).

blizzard-sock before

But I too eventually went to war with the frozen shit – donning my swants over some wool long johns and stomping my way to uncover various vents and utility meters and paths to compost piles and sheds and garbage cans…

blizzard-sock after

(And I really should have put on my gaiters first.)

When I was making the socks, the colors reminded me of crocuses popping up through the snow. The multi-colored yarn also came from a market in a town in Abruzzo known for its saffron crop.

Now I see that they are perfectly coordinated with my snowshoes.

They could have been longer.

They could be warmer.

Next time maybe I’ll drop another needle size while holding the yarn doubled, but I’m starting to think I just need 100% wool socks – screw the bit of polyamide and/or nylon which I think is the culprit for clamminess…

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Not a Roman holiday

Autumn gets me itchy for the opposing forces of nesting and travel.

Autumn is my favorite time in Italy because it is the most familiar – I spent the most time there over the years during these months – and the tourist season calms down a bit. When the leaves begin to crunch, I automatically sniff for roasting chestnuts, but alas, for most of the United States, I’ve got to settle for woodsmoke and cider, which I love too. But we decided not to go again this year for a number of reasons, and headed back north to the White Mountains, then the sea, instead.

north-dawn

Only we headed straight into the belly of American tourism, or more specifically, an army of leaf peepers. We thought we’d be ahead of them, but instead we hit at the peak – don’t get me wrong, it was a glorious multi-hued autumn bomb – but the more accessible trails were like Fiumicino airport. But luckily, we were tucked away again in our now very familiar rough and tumble-down rental cabin on the lake in near solitude, and I’m finally getting back to slightly more moderate trails.

The cabin owners left some knitted and crocheted afghans for us that we haven’t seen in the summer.

north-blanket

But I brought our big guns – vintage wool bed blankets that kept us perfectly warm sitting outside watching birds, otters, beavers, and this time, a mink, although several mornings had frost.

north-blankie

I did just a little knitting – started a gift hat that is identical in color, but hopefully sized down, to the selbu modern I made last year – and the second sock of the pair I’ve occasionally worked on since June, some sewing, and this time I also had work work, which wasn’t really unpleasant to do while away – in fact, I felt more focused.

(And was well-fueled by my favorite licorice allsorts and chocolate nonpareils snagged on the way up.)

north-candy

After a week in entirely non-internet ignorant bliss (though marred by a knife through N’s finger (I didn’t do it), a septic issue that further confirmed my certainty of never wanting to live with one, and a bizarre key issue on our way out that took half the day to not resolve and led to the elderly cabin owners having to shimmy through a window several days later) we headed further north and east to a comfortable seaside cottage near Acadia National Park.

north-acadia

We knew we’d hit crowds there, and with gorgeous weather and colors, everyone should be out, but we happily managed to have several choice trail lunch spots to ourselves and a few excursions without road noises or children screaming for ice cream in the middle of a lovely quiet forest.

We hiked, we biked, we ate a shit-ton of fried clams, chowder, and lobster rolls. The season officially ended at Columbus day, so many of the lobster pounds were closed after that much to our dismay, but the island noticeably got a bit less tourist-peopled.

I saw more sunrises in two weeks than I have for at least two years – it either comes too early or I’m not paying attention – and I shot most of them…

north-maine dawn

I’d been wanting to go to Acadia for a bit – I love moss and the juxtapositions of forest and sea and got just that – more kinds of moss than I’d ever seen before, squirrels on the beach, seaweed smells in the trees, the sounds of the surf in the pines, and chickadees and forest birds at the water’s edge.

north-teaberry

I figured we’d be annoyed with the over populated trails and cruise ships and it would be a once and done trip, but I’d come back – and definitely in the autumn…

north-rhinebeck

And Rhinebeck just happened to be on the way home… maybe more on that later…

north-frost

We left the frosty north just in time, but unfortunately, it hit at home too… more on that next time, or later…

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Vacationing body and absent mind…

I was away for another trip to the White Mountains last week, staying in the same shabby, smelly cabin that has a lovely view of lake fog and mists, birds, otters, beavers, and this year, a black bear (but no moose).

NH-mistymorning

It was a long-needed break for my recently increasingly absent brain (I didn’t even schedule that post correctly) but I think I needed another week or two to truly get it back, or at least more of the crucial bits.

But I got back to knitting which has been great – a long lost friend coming back and all that. I took two projects and managed to knock out most of a Trilobite hat – I’m not convinced it won’t be ripped as yet, the body is short and ended too abruptly, so I might undo the top and add a few rows, but we’ll see what a good block can achieve first (I did a provisional cast on and knit the body up, then picked and knit brim down so I can hopefully double it over)…

NH-trilobite-window

…and turned the heel on my latest sock.

fancy feets heel

I put on a pair of boots for the first time in over a year and did a few little hikes since messing up my knee

NH-tinyhike

(I’m not used to being so broken.)

As well as revisited one of my favorite bike trails.

The weather was unreasonably hot and humid, so I wasn’t as active as I’d hoped, but we found a good solution for a too-humid-to-hike day at a lake beach with beautifully cold water (our temporary residence lake tends toward bathtub temperatures and lily pads at our end).

NH-beach

I really like going up north, but I often dread that it is a few weeks ahead or behind the seasons from where we live. I’m always glad to shuck off winter and going up there in the spring is downright depressing when the leaves haven’t started to come out, or the end of summer feels like autumn, which I like, but I don’t want to come in August. But this was the first trip that it synced up with home and felt exactly the same – only some day lilies were still hanging around a few weeks after ours stopped…

NH-daylilies

I banged out a few more hexes, but sewing those most aggravates whatever is going on with my wrist, so I’m happy I’ve narrowed it down and I can still keep my hands working on other things rather than lying limp as they’ve been for weeks.

I also brought a couple of sweaters to deconstruct in preparation for unraveling – a super soft beige merino that I’ll likely dye or double up with a darker color and a completely unlikely metallic thing, but the base fiber is cotton and rayon, so it feels okay and will definitely be doubled or tripled with something soft and woolly (or alpaca-y). I’m surprised how often I wear my one scarf with a little bling, so this is just the right amount to mix into something else similar.

NH-unravelers at the pond

So for once I didn’t pack too many projects, and each got a little attention.

(I didn’t finish any puzzles though which is something I enjoy but rarely do unless in cabins…)

NH-blue moon

We came home to a thirsty, weedy, tomato-dropping garden, and a partially unfinished basement project in a deafening screaming match for days of attention…

I’m ready for another week away…

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