Tag Archives: travel

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

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

(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

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under gardening, hiking, knitting, travel

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…

2 Comments

Filed under hiking, home decor, knitting, sewing, 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

Hello Spring

Just a little more than a week after moving in to our new-to-us home, we took a break.

We left behind the still weird smells, patched spots, the very beginnings of changes, and a basement loaded with things we miss on a daily basis.

We headed off in the car and stayed at one of my favorite hotels.

april 2014-1

Met up with my family who recently came across new old pictures that posed even more questions that no one can answer.

april 2014-2

Celebrated a birthday outdoors – the first alfresco meal of the year.

april 2014-3

The day was warm enough to stay out into the night.

april 2014-4

Broke up the drive on the way home with a stay at another well-liked hotel.

april 2014-5

And arrived home to find that the tree that we suspected to be a Magnolia, was one.

april 2014-6

I was a little sad I missed the unfurling, but new surprises are coming up in the yard daily.

I took some travel knitting along, but didn’t pick it up.

Instead, I mulled over colors for our walls.

Leave a comment

Filed under home, home decor, travel

Not too busy for a weekend jaunt…

I am busy these days.

I’m working on some knitting that is taking far longer than I’d expected, but must be completed in a certain amount of time, so I’m monogamous with it.

I’ve been work-working more hours.  And I’ve been doing some blogging for work that fills up that little writing time and space brain-hole that usually gets stuffed here.

But I’ve also been away due to both work and pleasure.  Recently, we had a nice long weekend in my old city visiting our old haunts.

We bought lots of delicious (and cheap) Italian foodstuffs.

weekend-meat

Basked in the warmth of radiators (I haven’t yet mentioned how I entirely [and somewhat irrationally] abhor forced-air heat).

weekend-radiators

Had properly made espresso drinks at our old neighborhood cafe.

weekend-caffe

Visited the lovely WPA mural in the post office again – it even has a spinner!

weekend-mural

And though I didn’t [cannot] visit my old LYS [due to potential uncontrollable purchasing] I did pop in another shop just out of town.  It was one of those tiny places where you’re the only one there and suddenly face-to-face with the owner who seems hopeful and maybe slightly desperate, and either way she’s friendly and helpful and you feel obligated to buy a little something.

weekend-yarn

So I did.

(I’m tempted to make another Honey Cowl with it, but I know it will be an oh-so-soft, but pill-crazy yarn, so I’ll either mix it up with something more durable, felt/full it, or most likely,  just sit on it for awhile… The color is more in the forest berries/cranberry range and less purple and pink than it appears – I think the colorway is “currant.”)

And what trip isn’t complete without a thrift store stop?

weekend-coat

This is such an entirely uncharacteristic garment for me in terms of color, but it’s a great vintage find.

weekend-coatdetail

I bought it to re-sell, but I just might keep it since it fits… winter greys be damned!

(It kinda hurts the eyes though).

(I got it in a small chain of regional thrift stores that absolutely have their heads up their asses when it comes to pricing.  Something that is a “better” department store or preppy shop brand will be priced astronomically, while vintage  and actual high-quality label things are often a steal – which is often a happy coup, but lousy when you find a holey and felt-able or harvest-able sweater and it’s priced at $19.99 but should be no more than $2.99.   The coat above was only $4.99, handmade in wool, in perfect condition, and from a fancy downtown shop that no longer exists…)

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, spinning, thrifting, travel

Oh camel, my camel…

I went to Morocco* in early 2001.

I froze my ass off, so I bought a huge sweater from a man who was knitting them on the street.

Camel-front

  He said it was made of camel hair, but it was also dirt, vegetable matter, shit, and even a dead tick.  And it had a strong pissy odor.

But it was warm.

I washed it well when I got home.

But then it was thoroughly and viciously attacked by moths in the great wool annihilation of 2002.  Obviously I had not washed it enough, for the little wriggly f*ckers ate it up like it was smothered in delicious shitsauce.

I washed it well again, and again, and sealed it up and froze it for months.

A year later, in 2003, while spending time in New Mexico, I found some Navajo Churro bulky yarn scraps that somewhat matched the colors.  Some of my fixes and mends were good and blended well, some not at all, as seen in the right half below.

Camel-back

I wore it around the house for a few years, but not often because it was a bit sheddy, and I’d still get poked and annoyed by residual vegetable matter.

When I moved a few years later, I was still dubious of its trustworthiness and I feared that it could still have moth eggs – I didn’t have any evidence of them, but instead I felt a ghost of an ominous presence.  Not wanting to potentially infest our new place, even with phantasmic creatures, I triple-bagged it, froze it again, and didn’t bother to deal with it for a few years.

However, after a month  living with a not-quite-working-right furnace, and wanting its warmth, I just dug it out during the Polar Vortex to wash it once thrice more and assess its condition.

Camel-detail

I still can’t get over the beautiful greys and browns.

But good god, it was still a dirty beast and a few more holes and seams opened up from the wash – but it also softened quite a bit.  I’ve got some tri-color Jacob fleece that I could spin to make a convincing mending yarn, but I may just keep up with my more motley repairs and call it full of character.

(And please let that be all that it’s full of.)

*An awesome trip, and I was quite lucky to get there before all hell broke loose here months later.  I’d share pics, but those were my pre-digital (better) days.  I went with my mother who was approached by a man with an offer to trade me for a camel.  I think she had to think about it for a minute – the camel was quite lovely and had blue eyes.

Leave a comment

Filed under knitting, travel

Lana blu

I think I’ve gotten all of the post-vacation brain fog and re-adjustment whining and rambling out of my system.

Abruzzo-clouds

I’ve spent the last week attending a training session and conference in my field, a grad school open house, and doing some networking.  I’ve been getting up at an ungodly hour to take trains to the nearby cities.  It almost felt like I was working again, but  it also made me feel lucky to work the few hours I do from home – I haven’t really seen daylight apart from a quick lunchtime walk for the last few days.  I’m a terrible commuter too – knitting, reading, and doing anything other than staring out of the window on buses and trains gives me motion sickness, so I spend the majority of the time fidgeting and stewing about how much time is being wasted.

But on to more important things, like wool.

A few posts ago, I wrote about meeting Valeria last year in Italy and buying her yarn.  And quite luckily, I was able to meet with her, and fellow fiberphile Antontella again this year.  You can read more about the Damiani Ovid and AquiLANA wool business in one of her recent posts here (Google translator is your friend).  She showed me many new yarns she’s produced this year – from delicate laceweights, to a gorgeous drapey one-ply fingering, to multiple plies in increasing weights up to bulky, and including a one-ply bulky that would probably felt/full quite well.   Luckily for her, she’s sold a good portion of the year’s stock (and for me or I’d spend myself into ruin) so I stuck to only a few skeins of the yarn in the new weights, and more of the aran/bulky I got last year in case I want to do some colorwork.

So when I say colorwork, I mean one color would be this intense lovely shade of blue – the exact color of the mountain sky.

lana

I’ve shied away from blue in the past – it’s one of those colors that I don’t like in the lightest or darkest shades, or in an “electric” form.  But it is also a color I’ve been gravitating to more and more in the past couple of years.  And I love that I have the creamy wool from the colors of the earth and sheep and now the blue wool of the sky.  Even better, the yarn is dyed naturally from Guado (Woad).

Abruzzo-octogonchurch

This trip was all about the blue sky – perfect weather and intense clarity day after day (at least after the first day which had an intense stormy sky that didn’t amount to much.)

plant with butterfly

And several of the alpine plants are blue too (along with the butterfly).  This one is Cardo, a thistle – perhaps also known as Sea Holly – it makes a yellow dye.

Abruzzo-blue door

And the ubiquitous old door – I wish I had a dollar for everyone who “just loves to shoot doors.”  I like old doors too, but I’m not out to make a calendar or something.  But I saw that the faded blue paint was the same color as my new yarn and had to snap it.

Abruzzo-bluebottle

And one of my trusty water bottles and favorite wool zippered jacket/sweater thing are blue too.

Abruzzo-Vasto

And though we haven’t seen it since our first Abruzzo trip in 2008, the Adriatic hugs the region’s eastern boundary, so the blue reminds me of the sea as well.

Valeria also showed me some gorgeous caramel colored yarn and the oak galls she used to dye it – she recently posted about it here too.  I got a couple of natural laceweight skeins with the thought of trying to dye it up myself with galls as well, though perhaps I’ll have to use black walnut since now that I’m looking for oak galls, I can’t find any – perhaps suburban pesticides keep the wasps away?

abruzzo-yarn

The other three blue skeins are a heavy fingering to sport weight.

yarn-laquilana

And along with the aran/bulky skeins, I’m thinking about some hats, or a shawl, or there might even be enough to eek out a short-sleeved lace pullover…

But whatever it might become, the yarn will certainly remind me of the amazing land, people, history, and animals from which it came.

Leave a comment

Filed under dyeing, hiking, knitting, travel