Tag Archives: mountains

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.

(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…

 

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under gardening, hiking, knitting, recycling, thrifting, travel

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…

Leave a comment

Filed under gardening, hiking, knitting, recycling, sewing, travel

Deer john and the changing seasons…

toms&flowers

Random things of late…

Our garden is done, but the CSA is finally paying off – we completed a massive tomato and tomatillo salsa canning session last weekend.

canning-after

The deer called Doe [rhymes with  Zoe] might have had some babies, joined up with a larger family group, and has been bringing along another five or six to nibble at our backyard smorgasbord and leave an astounding number of shits – making me re-consider putting in a perimeter fence.

I found another alarming pile of poop of another kind when N moved one of our new window-unit air conditioners.  I identified it possibly as:

1. bat guano

2. squirrel turds

3. roof rat droppings…

Amazingly, all of these beasts leave remarkably similar scat.  I’m leaning toward bat though, because of the height of the window and I don’t want rats in our roof.  Perhaps a bat took up residence in or under the air-conditioner while we were on vacation?  But it didn’t stick around (at least I don’t think it’s in there still).

And I forgot to shoot the shit.

And speaking of bats, I do love them, and we’ve got plenty around here – I love watching them swoop in in the evenings and take out a sizable chunk of the even more sizable population of ‘skeeters.  Eventually we’ll get around to building some bat houses.

I found out by accident that the giant spotty crickets that I found living near our well (that I was so startled by and didn’t bother to photograph in case I was the only one who saw them and they didn’t really exist) turned out to be another Asian invasion and quite common in the area.  And now I’m wondering if they’re edible…

And we’ve finally experienced the yard in every season, and have identified all of the flora.  The last hold-out was a large Burning Bush – I suspected that it could be one, and hoped it was so because otherwise it was a somewhat boring green thing.

sunchoke-maybe

Some of the weeds I never got around to pulling ended up being lovely flowers.  I see the stuff around the roadsides here, so perhaps it’s native, or perhaps it’s an invasive beast?  I wished I’d paid more attention to what it looked like when it was coming up, so I don’t pull it out next year, unless of course it is something to be rid of… I think it’s a Sunchoke.  Anyone know if this variety is native to the Eastern states, or a nasty invader?  I haven’t gone digging for the tubers yet.

And I have another pair of socks on the needles – these might end up being a gift.

socksonatrain-window

I’ve been traveling for work a bit, and have enjoyed going by train, even though it adds another three hours to the trip.  But the leg room is astounding, the cars are nearly empty (come on Americans, use it or loose it!) and the scenery on this particular route is nice.

socksonatrain-withball

I never wrote down (or can’t find my notes) my formula for going down a needle size or two for my standard socks, so I have to go through the misery again of figuring it out.  In the meantime, I’m just using a heavier yarn and my old numbers…

Abruzzo October 2013-trail

And because of the new-to-us house and its ongoing expenses and labor (and my continued hobbled state) we decided not to go to Italy this year.  The weather turning to autumn reminds me of my boots crunching along the trail in the warm central Apennine sun, so I’m a bit bummed out about it, but hopefully we’ll be back next year.

I also decided not to go to Rhinebeck to save money too – and since we’re often in Italy when it happens, this year was good timing for it – but I got enough of a fix at the New Jersey festival a few weeks ago.

I’ll have my own personal wool festival when I can finally unpack my boxes of the stuff soon…

5 Comments

Filed under gardening, hiking, home, knitting, travel

[Jet] lagging…

I made it to 5:12 a.m. this morning and feel triumphant!  Then I realized it was daylight savings,* so the jet lag beast has been tossed a scrap and is still pacing a bit around the room.  No more middle of the night pancake dinners/breakfasts though, but the last one was quite tasty with the last of our White Mountain edible souvenirs.

pancakes

My brain is still buzzy and unfocused and my body mildly flu-like.  I came home with mountain legs as firm as two well-aged prosciutti, but now they’re returning to their younger non-dead jiggly piglet state.  My body and mind are out of synch with my reality and just want to put one foot in front of the other until a pleasing distance and vista and lunch spot have been reached.

murder on the mountain **

I know it is incredibly pretentious, but I feel more culture shock returning to the U. S. rather than being outside of it (at least in the European bits).  Americans weigh too much, they are sick, they are loud, they drive enormous machines, they wheel enormous luggage, they can be demanding of bedraggled clerks and service workers, their children are wild, and worst of all, they build and live in suburbs – vast expanses of land without sidewalks or farms – utterly purposeless and ugly.

But this is where I was born and legally reside and thanks to N we can leave it once in awhile.

But I’m also just another American wishing she could eat, pray, love (mostly the eating part) under the Tuscan (I’d prefer Abruzzo) sun.  But there are a few things in Italy (and probably Europe in general) that are downright magical that even more increase my desire to stay.

  Dairy.  I have dairy issues in the states – I don’t know if it is lactose or casein or something else, but even when I get the organic grass-fed hoity-toity localish stuff here, I can have problems.  I can tolerate milk, ice cream, cream, etc., about 15% of the time here, so I usually just forgo anything not aged or fermented – cheese and yogurt are ok-ish.  In Italy, I have about a 99% tolerance rate – the only bad dairy experience I’ve had there was from a mediocre cream-based pasta sauce at an even more mediocre tourist trap restaurant in Rome a few years ago.  So I load up on the stuff while I’m there – cappuccino, gelato, cream sauces, oh yeah!  And of course cheese – I especially love the sheep and goat stuff – pecorino dolce, ricotta di capra, caciocavallo etc., etc., etc….

 Allergies.  I barely have them there, and leave behind my constant ropey mucous companion dangling down my throat here.  That probably has a straightforward reason about the different climate and fewer useless expanses of lawns and less proliferation of non-native species with their companion herbicides and pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

So now that I’ve established that my brain is broken, my body atrophying, my nose dripping, and I’m suffering from a vague yogurt induced gut cramp, I must mention fiber – specifically my travel knitting.

I started the first pair of socks since my sock knitting debacle months ago.  Again, my sock mojo is off – I used a bit bigger yarn on my preferred shorty wood needles with my 64 stitch vanilla pattern, thinking it would firm things up and be ok, but they’re big – baggy ankle big.  But I don’t give a damn and still have to finish the leg parts, so I can firm up the upper ribbed section.  I’m constructing them in a strange fashion, but it makes sense in my head and should allow me to use up all the yarn.  I’ve dubbed them my “Nostalgia Socks” as the color reminds me of old quilts, 1970s sweaters, and now my trip.

sock in progress

The colors in this pic are wrong, but accurately portray the weak blue light that just barely stretched down to our nearly subterranean Italian apartment.

nostalgia socksThis is how the color should look – and if you look closely you can see one of the two knots I’ve found so far.

And remember my giddiness over Pigeonroof Studios Mimsy BFL roving?  And even more over the Hitchhiker pattern? I can call it a finished project now since I shoved it in my bag at the last minute.  It was one of those that ended sooner than I was ready to finish, and previously I only let myself knit a few rows here and there as a reward for meeting some goals on my portfolio pieces.  Ok, I may have over-rewarded myself, but this is my favorite handspun yarn to date – the softness and drape are wonderful (if I do say so myself) but most of that is due to the inherent qualities of the fiber itself.

Mimsyhiker on wall

My yardage was less than the suggested amount and I used bigger needles, so I didn’t quite make it to the original 42 points.  Mine is 41 1/2 – instead of a half a point, I just made the last one wider.  I watched 42 on the plane over and hoped I could have that numerical reference as well, but I didn’t quite make the team.

Mimsyhiker & acquedotto

Mimsyhiker & biscotto

I finished it in the first few days we were there, so I was able to wear it again and again and again – it’s finally taking a rest drying from a light blocking to stretch it out a little.

As for acquisitions, I bought some cheap (but ugly) sock yarn, and some cheap (but lovely) mohair in the market.

But of course I bought more of the real thing.

yarn-laquilana

It deserves a post of its own next time.

* Daylight savings happened in Italy last weekend.  We spent a day wondering why none of the cafes were opened when they should have been, rushed to return the rental car when we didn’t have to hurry, and even left for the airport an hour before we needed to – but none of it was the problem it would have been in the spring.

** I love this picture that N took – in the camera it appeared that I had been steamrolled, but now it looks more like a Nancy Drew book jacket for “Murder on the Mountain.”  I love sleeping on mountains – some bedroom designer should get on that – forget beds – rig up a soft inclined meadow and mimic warm sun and chilly breezes in a room instead.

2 Comments

Filed under hiking, home decor, knitting, spinning, travel

Trekking, face-stuffing, and of course, wool

I’m back from our few weeks sojourn to Abruzzo.

to the castle

(And yes, those last posts were pre-written and hastily posted from an internet cafe – I wonder how much longer those will exist, and/or how long it will take me to get a smart phone?)

Being away meant I couldn’t go to Rhinebeck this year, but um, I don’t care – though I’m enjoying reading about it.

I’m now suffering through the haze of jet lag (pancakes at 3 a.m. seemed like a good idea at the time…) and clogged ears, the depression of leaving a land I love, and the bureaucratic shitstorm and other items of work I left behind (and which gathered strength instead of my unrealistic hopes of dissipating).  So just a bit now, but more later – especially the wooly bits.

First I must take a moment to praise the porchetta panino.

porchetta portrait

We set an all-time record of eating 4 in one trip (not in one sitting though).

porchetta

And they are the perfect protein-packed porcine pranzo on the trail (even if they get squashed in the pack).

Valle Gentile

Days and days spent in the mountains with near-miraculous perfect weather and autumnal shades.

truffles

And let us not forget pasta – especially with saffron and generous shavings of truffles.

hexagons

And more hexagons too!

traveling yarn

And of course, wool!

Definitely more on that later – here it is on the journey to the states after eating a pretzel in the Frankfort airport.

greenland

And we got one last dose of mountains on the way home with some excellent views of Greenland.

Leave a comment

Filed under hiking, knitting, travel

Terroir in wool

So I yammered on for a few posts about my new yarn and roving from New Mexico a few months ago here and here, but all along I’ve been thinking about the wool I acquired in Italy last autumn.

We were in Abruzzo for a few weeks in September/October 2012, on a mission to hike nearly every day in all three of the relatively new national parks: Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga, Parco Nazionale della Majella, and some regional parks and preserves including: Parco Naturale Sirente Velino, Riserva Naturale Regionale Monte Genzana e Alto Gizio, and Riserva Regionale Gole del Sagittario.  We had previously been in the area in 2008, less than a year before the devastating earthquake in the L’Aquila region, and had only a small taste of the hiking then that was later to come.  In the four years since however, more North American tourists have invaded come to the region, and though it is good for the economy, especially the areas still rebuilding, it isn’t the same immersive/escapist experience as it was before.  Now you hear the occasional loudly spoken English (I still can’t get past that someone-will-understand-me-if-I-speak-louder-rather-than-actually-learn-a-word-of-the-language habit), see flip-flops on ugly feet, pay much higher prices for apartment rentals, and stumble around overly large rolling luggage.  But I too am a North American, and a visitor, and have poor language skills, so I can’t be too much of a snob.

I first learned about Valeria and her AquiLANA yarn in a round-about way through ravelry when I posted to an Italian group seeking information about local wool producers.  She and her husband’s family raise sheep in the L’Aquila region – their business, Azienda Agrozootecnica Damiani Ovidio, can be found on Facebook.  Through another ravelry friend, we managed to communicate despite my awful Italian, (thank you Google translator) and because of her friend’s quite good English, to set up a time to meet in her town for a yarn purchase.

AquiLANA - Copy(Photo by Valeria/AquiLANA)

I would love to give more details about her wool and the company, but I’d have to commit to a serious translation session that I am too unfocused to partake in at the moment.  But to say her yarn is fabulous and it comes from these sheep off the mountains is enough for me.

But back to the area for a moment – our time hiking in the parks was simply awesome.  Some of the maps and trail markings were extremely good, some not so, and we had a hiking guidebook that should be burned due to some dangerous misinformation.  Many of the trails also had formerly been mule tracks and were best left for four-legged beasts or those very sure of foot and without any tendencies toward vertigo.  But overall, it was some of the best hiking I’ve done.

(But I’ll pack a few more emergency supplies the next time).

Abruzzo-Corno Grande

Abruzzo-castle

Abruzzo meadow

And of course eating was a nearly spiritual experience.

Can’t get any better to come down off a mountain, stop along the road, and dive into a plate of freshly grilled lamb arrosticini.

Abruzzo-lamb

I’ve purchased wool from small producers at domestic festivals before, but this was the first time the wool smacked me in the face as coming from a very specific place – it had an intense “terroir” if you will.

Laquilana montepulciano

And to make it even more local, some is dyed with Montepulciano wine for a lovely muted rose-grey (this is fingering weight).

AquiLana skeins

At first, I only wanted to buy the Montepulciano-dyed wool because I almost never knit with white/natural.  I don’t have a reason why except that I usually like color more, I fear stains (I like to drink the Montepulciano too), and some whites look really bad on me.  I guess I do have my reasons.  But after spending some time in the mountains with the fluffy clouds, bleached rocks, and flocks of sheep with their fluffy white Maremma guard dogs, I decided that I had to have the color of the land (or, ahem, lamb).

Abruzzo sheep enclosures

See?

Abruzzo sheep

So then my new stash of clear, clean, true wool went from the crisp vast mountains and valleys to the land of exhaust and grime…

AquiLANA in NYC

I have a couple of ideas about what I’d like to do with the yarn, however I’m putting pressure on myself that both items will be my own designs. But I’m also realizing that with the strange turns of my life lately, my self-diagnosed ADD, work on portfolio pieces, and the chaos of everything else, I’m absolutely itching to dive right into this yarn NOW without the bother of critical design thoughts and only the happiness and escapism in remembering the land and enjoying the wool.

Laquilana swatches

I’ve swatched some of the natural wool in aran/bulky weight and it will probably turn into a cable-knit sweater – either something classic/vintage inspired along the lines of the Beatnik Pullover, or more modern like the Roam Tunic.  I’m leaning toward classic though since I pray for the day skinny jeans disappear (and will probably take tunics with them).  Unless of course it could be a dress on its own…

New England-new pattern shadow

The wine yarn will be a shawl, and that pattern is about halfway done, but I’ve run into a few snafus that I need to work out.  I’ll test knit a version of it in recycled yarn before I use the good yarn too, so it will take some time.

The bulky/aran yarn reminds me a little of Quince & Company Osprey – it seems that it may be processed and spun in a similar fashion and has that same lovely soft, sproingy, spongy factor – and maybe even more so.  It is soft, yes, but not weakly soft – almost cottony.  I even washed one of my swatches and it got even better – I wouldn’t say that it bloomed, but the stitch definition relaxed slightly while still being entirely legible.  I’m sure the yarn will wear quite well, yet be very comfortable.

It is already my favorite sweater.

And we’ve made plans for a return trip, so perhaps I may come back with more sheepy souvenirs!

Leave a comment

Filed under hiking, knitting, spinning, travel

Mid-August progress…

We spent last weekend in the Adirondacks.

It was the last of the summer hiking trips for us.

ADK-pond hike

Our cottage was decorated in “Wal-Mart for cabin.”

ADK-bear

I actually miss the tacky painted saw blades, crude whittlings, and sh*t made out of driftwood and antlers of mountain/country crafts of yesteryear (or just a few years ago really).

Now it is plastic sh*t from China (often copied from domestic crafters).

ADK-racoon

But I managed to finally finish basting all of those damn letters.

Letters-done

The pile looks smaller than it really is.

I will never be so wordy on a quilt again.

Our CSA has been offering loads of lovely flowers.

It is a nice thing to have fresh flowers, but not in place of food – they really need to step it up in the veg department.  And as vinyl village apartment dwellers, we can’t compost, so I don’t like to have too many fresh flowers.

Quilt-shirt fabric

The letters are ready to mingle with the as yet unmade quilt blocks.

In Review

I’m also getting wordy with a fair isle scarf.

I don’t love stranded knitting.

I don’t hate it though.

PRS-lettuce on machine

My Tour de Fleece spinning goals fell short.

PRS-lettuce skein

But I finished plying my Pigeonroof Studios “lettuce” and have one braid left to finish spinning for a particular project.

I spun this one a little too thin and it came out lighter and softer in color, so it might have to become a different project.

Or the original project will be scrapped altogether.

That will have to wait.

I also started a major embroidery piece.

It will take some time.

It is pink.

I don’t love pink.

Leave a comment

Filed under hiking, home decor, knitting, quilts, recycling, sewing, spinning, travel