Wednesday, February 27, 2008

a GRAND finale

Yesterday afternoon, we walked across the lava field in front of our house, out toward the shore, and snorkeled in Champagne Cove for hours. All kinds of aquatic life, of every color in the rainbow, to keep us entertained, but we stuck around for the possibility of something special, as we had heard is likely to happen there. Sure enough, at nearly high tide, the sea turtles swam over the rock wall to rest in the quiet cove. We snorkeled around and over them as they rested on rocks on the bottom, then swam alongside as they came up for air. Unforgettable.

p.s. Yup, Rani, lots of knitting going on, mostly poolside or on the lanai while watching sunrise/sunset. :-) Joanne, you'll be pleased to know that the green lace is halfway finished and I can confidently say there's a skein coming your way. Lorraine (Lori) and Pat, I'm thinking of you both with every kaleidoscopic Hawaiian quilt that catches my eye. TTY all soon. I can't wait to see how the pics look on a larger than 1" camera screen.

Friday, February 22, 2008

inept on mac, but happy on maui

no clue how to rotate these photos, but I'm posting them anyway.

now, to dinner with cliff diving show and snorkeling afterward!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Just a quick pop-in at an Internet cafe to say HOLY GUACAMOLE, we saw a lot of whales today! We were out at Molokini crater for a snuba trip, but the whales are all over the place, so it was an impromptu whale watching tour. Someone called it whale soup and that's a good description. We're watching their spouts from our lanai every morning and oohing and ahhing about the sunset every evening. It's hard for me to pay attention to the road as we're driving the convertible along the shore and everybody's pointing out whales all along. We saw one breach within 10 minutes of seeing the ocean, and that was after seeing many of them from the little plane we took to this island.

On Maui now, having checked out Oahu earlier and on to the Big Island soon. Leah has fully transformed into a floral bedecked island girl and Jesse got his life-long wish of breathing underwater. Jesse, Scott, and Bren are ready to sign up for scuba lessons.

A million fantabulous things, but the whales are at the top of the list. Brought tears to our eyes, to see so many, so close. A mom and calf swam under and along our boat! Wow. Just wow.

I'm on a Mac and Firefox, both of which are new to me, so this tiny post has taken way more time than you'd imagine, although I have to admit that both the computer and the software are super cool. Gotta run, though. I've been out of the water almost long enough to have on a dry bathing suit and there's a beach calling my name. :-) Woo hoo -- wish you all were here!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

watercolors cardigan

My handspun watercolors cardigan is finally finished and exactly as I had imagined it way back at the very beginning!
When I bought these three merino and tencel colorways almost two years ago, I asked dh Scott to spin them at random color intervals, in hopes that they would gently flow from one tone to the next in the final knit fabric, in sort of a watercolors effect. He was a beginner spinner, but happily got right to work, turning out skeins of soft handspun and improving his technique as he went along. I knew the multicolored yarn would do the work for me, so I planned a simple stockinette sweater, recipe calculated with the help of Jackie Fee's Sweater Workshop. I knit it in the round, alternating skeins with each round, because my newbie yarn-spinner's beginning yarns were significantly thicker than skeins from further along in the process. We ran out of fiber, but got more with the help of Ashland Bay. The picot hem on the sleeves worked out fine, but the hem flipped and flared no matter what combination of needles and stitches I tried, and I tried a LOT of them! Asked knitterfriends for input, scoured the Internet, tried and tried and tried all sorts of combinations. Just when I was formulating a similar plan in my imagination, Techknitting's zig-zag band tutorial was posted and I knew the end was in sight!

Sure enough, no flip there when I did a test segment, so I plowed ahead with the whole hem and -- yay! -- it was a winner. Button band knit while chatting with a friend last Saturday, the fun of that conversation being undoubtedly responsible for unevenly spaced button holes. ;-) Steek cut Sunday, when we got home from Webs' Big Game Bash.

Scott's handmade glass buttons were sewn on Monday, even though Leah insists they are completely wrong for this sweater. I think the butterscotch background color of the buttons complements the golden bits from the Sapphire colorway, and the teal/purple metallic frit (I know it just looks teal above, but there's dichroic purple in there when natural light hits it) is a perfect match. Anyway, they make me happy and it's my sweater so I get the final choice and I love, love, LOVE it! The sleeves grew in length a bit more than I'd like with blocking, but that's no biggie. I can always cuff them if needed, but today's my 2nd day of wearing it and I haven't needed to roll the cuffs up yet. This sweater is against-the-skin supersoft and also very heavy and warm -- perfect for someone who lives in an old house in New England. Since these are the only colors I ever wear (I'd put a :::wink wink::: in here, except it's basically true), I may never take it off! (I'd put a :::wink wink::: in here too, except that also might just be true!)
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Friday, February 08, 2008

wips r us

Everywhere we turn, there's a work in progress around here. Leah's moving along on her wrap sweater with the yarn we got at Webs' Big Game Bash last weekend...
I started a pair of gloves for my sister while knitting with a friend, and running into another, yesterday...
and Jesse is adding new contraptions to the K'nex croquet/mini-golf course on our first floor.

Combined with a crookedy old house, rug edges to hop/avoid, and a big goofy dog who does not respect the importance of maintaining ball position, this ongoing engineering project by our master tinkerer has been great fun on these winter evenings.
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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

couple of quick things

You've seen the shark hats we knit for Scott and Zach. Now the pattern is up at Knitting Ninja. Since Leah and I were the test knitters for this design, the pattern includes pics of some silly kids you might recognize as they're happily getting munched by sharks. Nom nom nom.

I started the Estonian garden wrap (shown at Elann because the Fiber Trends site won't come up for me this morning) with vintage wool I scored at the stash swap a couple of weeks ago. Those of you who are lace knitters will undoubtedly see the boo-boos that identify me as a relative newbie to this kind of knitting, but it's also partially attributable to the countless distractions around here yesterday evening and the fact that I was foolishly trying to follow the written pattern, having forgotten that there were charts on the back of the leaflet. With the help of the charts and some quiet time this morning, I'm on track now and will leave the mistakes as a mark of the learning process. At least for now. We'll see how I feel about it after I finish the other end...correctly. ;-)

Leah's making fantastic progress on her first sweater, having finally realized that it's not such an enormous undertaking and definitely spurred on by how her yarn is knitting up into a cushy, beautiful fabric.

My watercolor cardigan is blocking. Love. It.

Have you guys tried the pattern browser in Ravelry yet? I had been searching before using pattern names and tags, but last week I discovered the pattern browser and, wow, what a helpful tool! The filters make it incredibly easy to sift through the many thousands of patterns and narrow it down to the ones that will be of interest.
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Monday, February 04, 2008

knitters' pre-game festivities

We used to spend Super Bowl Sunday with a lot of rowdy people having an awful lot of fun. Yesterday, at the Webs Big Game Bash, I realized it's still rowdy and raucous and a ton of fun, but the beer has (mostly) ;-) been replaced by yarn. Once again, Leah and I made the trek north to spend the afternoon in Northampton. We met up with friends from New Jersey and a growing number of acquaintances with whom we can talk like old friends because there's that instant connection and easy flow of conversations that start with "What are you knitting?"

Leah was especially looking forward to this event. She made sure to wear her "Love to Knit" shirt from Creative Fibers, which has become our local yarn store. She had plans to score a bag of yarn to knit into her first sweater and also to chat with every person in the store. She certainly didn't expect to win a generous door prize -- including a $15 gift card, Eucalan, needle gauge, and tape measure -- but she did! And then I won a door prize (4 skeins of yarn and a scarf pattern to go with it, Eucalan) too! Thanks for a great party, Webs!

This morning, I cut the steek on my handspun cardigan and am wearing it at this moment. Still need to bury the yarn ends, sew on the buttons, and block it, but I can tell already that it's likely to become my favorite sweater. Yahoo!
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

the other one

There are at least two confirmed fiber fanatics in this house. One has been working waaayyyyy too much to have much to show here, but the other seems to have gained momentum on all fronts of late, thus allowing me feed the blog when my own efforts would have amounted to a fairly weak post.

In the kitchen department, Leah is following recipes with glee. Scott and I were both busy with work on Thursday morning, which happened to be his birthday, so she headed off to the kitchen on her own and the next thing I know, there's a 2-layer white cake with chocolate chips, made from scratch and decorated by hand in the silliest of ways.
At Friday's knit night, she put the finishing touches on a pair of socks. These knit in Big Mexiko (yes, that's how it's spelled) yarn, which makes a thick pair of socks that she especially likes because they were not a huge undertaking. She got lucky with the stripes matching, but I think that was helped along by making one sock foot longer than the other. ;-) These were knit toe-up in an improvised pattern.
In the beginners' quilting department, she is learning the importance of accurate cuts and accurate seam allowances. Because she didn't take this advice as seriously as she could have at first, there were definite struggles in putting together this first block for her quilt-block-a-month club at the local quilt shop, but we're looking at it as a learning process with much room for improvement. (The block I made had different issues, so we're both learning!) Looking forward to the next one.

Clearing off some bobbins in preparation for loaning out her wheel to a wannabe spinner friend resulted in this skein of handspun that progresses from lavender to powder pink to cotton candy pink. This is mystery wool from the spinning stash, possibly part of the haul from Spa Knit and Spin last winter.

In the air this morning, there's fiber and fabric excitement of a different kind. More about those, and hopefully a newly completed sweater, next time!
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