September 2005 Archives

Answering Some Questions

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Today is a day of rest Chez Keyboard Biologist as I take care of some other things going on in my life. But since I got a couple of questions from yesterday's post, I thought I would try to answer them here for everyone. Bear in mind, I'm not an expert, just an experimental beginner. Your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.

Carole and and Ann asked:

Okay, so I don't spin, but I enjoyed seeing the process step-by-step. How long does that all take, start to finish?

Preparing the fiber doesn't take very long. Maybe half an hour for this amount if you really get into therapeutic fiber massage. More takes longer. I'm now coming around to the idea that it's good to prepare the entire batch of fiber that you intend to spin. This way you can make sure that you know it's features well and you can control some of how it turns out by the order in which you choose to spin certain pieces. Sometimes hand-dyed rovings hide little secrets -- regions of intense color that only show up in one part or in one half. Changes in "dye lot" or other things like that. Best to know the whole story up front so that you can blend and control as appropriate.

The spinning part takes longer. It probably takes me 4 or so to spin the single (I am not exactly sure about this, as I don't really pay a lot of attention to the clock. Spinning really takes my mind away from things like clock watching and email inbox monitoring. If I was doing this on a wheel, it would take much less time.

It takes 2-4 hours for me to wind, wash and set the single (including drying time). Plying is much faster. I'd say it probably takes a little over an hour for me to ply my single into a two ply. Then another 2-4 hours for me to wind, wash and set the two-ply.

This means that my total time invested is somewhere in the neigborhood of 8 hours. Bear in mind, all this is for a lace weight single and a fingering weight/sock weight two-ply. Bulkier singles will take less time to spin and ply because there is less yardage. Doing this on a wheel would cut down the spinning time significantly. But I am just doing the spinning for me at this point, so I don't mind putting in the time.

Sue asked:

...have you tried to duplicate a coloway yet..to make more of a color of yarn to make something larger like a shawl?

Not yet, but that is certainly in the plan. Right now I'm wishing I'd dyed several ounces of this color way up. But the goal of this part of the dyeing adventure was to take good enough notes to start to create reproduceable colorways, in the event that I came up with a winner. I know which dyes I used and what concentrations and have a reasonable sense for the color intervals (the other reason why I take a lot of pictures). Certainly I'd love to have a shawl or nice accent scarf out of the stuff.

And a number of folks asked what I might do with this stuff. Well, I want to go with a water or wave theme. I've been digging through my Barbara Walker books looking for something evokative of waves. Perhaps a small scarf? I've also been thinking about a small bag or container that could hold herbs or pot pourri. I love lavender and having near my pillow when I go to sleep.

Weekend Projects

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So what will my weekend look like from a fibery perspective?

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Fall Leaves Version 2

The flash makes the color look a little more extreme in the red zone, but this is still a pretty intense colorway. I'm getting kind of psyched to have all that red fiber moving through my fingers.

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Blue Hawaiian Chinese Lace

For my Blue Hawaiian yarn I wanted to find something that made me think of waves and moving water along a shore line. After a search of my Barbara Walker books the Second Treasury yielded up the Chinese Lace pattern. The movement of the yarn overs and decreases creates an undulating edge and there are lovely but subtle undulating motions in the lace as well. I only got through one interval, so it's hard to see the effect yet, but I have high hopes that it will make a nice, if very small scarf. I chose to cast the project onto US size 6 needles, so the stockinette has a little openness to it. It makes me happy to knit with this yarn. Even if I only end up with a longish swatch, I'll be happy.

I know that I keep bringing up the Barbara Walker books, but they really are the set that I go back to over and over when I am trying to come up with ideas for what to do with my yarn. If you only own a couple of knitting pattern books, her first and second volumes are the ones you should have. Simple black and white photos help you focus on the elements of the pattern instead of the color of the yarn. The first two books have all the instructions written out (the second two use charts), which is about the only downside to the books (I do better with symbols than with words when it comes to knittng charts).

Almost Nothing

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Meager Showings

I have almost no crafty output to show for the weekend. I did make a little progress on both spinning up the Fall Leaves roving and knitting a bit more on the Chinese Lace scarf. But certainly not enough to account for -er- 4 days. Saturday started well enough -- a good shopping trip and my first ever spinning wheel experience with Julie. Julie, brought her Ashford Joy along for me to try out. I learned enough to realize that I need to get my own wheel set up. I can tell it will take me a little while before I can co-ordinate both hands and feet, and it's probably not fair to make any good friend sit through that painful process. I can learn co-ordination, but it's usually not something I like to expose anyone else to!

The rest of the weekend was an exercise in getting side tracked. Amazing how the process of getting organized often leads me to new levels of chaos. Usually this happens because as I clean and sort I come across things that I abandoned by accident. When I find these things again, I immediately want to engage with them. This weekend the sorting process involved a closet full of old and not-so-old computer games. I was able to part with most of this treasure trove (looking for a PC computer game? let me know... if I have the one you're looking for, and it's in the pile that is due to be re-located to somewhere else I'll send it to you for the cost of shipping) but I did come across one that I always meant to play through... Railroad Tycoon III ....

Yes, sadly, this game is almost 2 years old and I am just now getting around to playing it. Lucky for me these simulation type games don't age too badly. Did I tell you I had a thing for trains? Oh yes, I have a thing for trains....

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of cargo to haul between Philadelphia and New York to support the war effort in WWII

P.S. to my Mom -- Happy Birthday!!!

A Long Weekend in Ann Arbor

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Didn't quite mean to disappear so abruptly, but there wasn't much of significance to talk about last week. Unless you want to hear about our exciting attempts to book hotels in Maui or make plans for a weekend visit to Cedar Point. If you know of something excellent that we can't leave Maui without doing, please let me know. We're going to be there for 10 days, so we have a lot of time to explore the island.

After a long weekend of family and roller coasters, you'd think that there would be pictures. But, actually, this blogger left her camera at home and just went along with the ride. Literally and figuratively. I watched my husband ride every crazy ride in the park, got to see some very cute little boys who are the sons of one of my brother's good friends, and realized that I don't do very well with heights. I broke through a new roller coaster barrier -- I went on one that rotated me upside-down (the Raptor) but didn't quite convince myself to be brave enough to try either the Magnum XL-200 or the Millenium Force.

And I finished my goals for last weekend, finally. I have a completed scarf and a fully spun single. But the scarf isn't blocked and the single isn't plied, so no pictures have been taken. Monday should be a better day for progress on those fronts.

If you need a little thrill, click on the link for the Raptor and check out the video. You can get a first-car's eye view of the ride without having to head to Sandusky!

Finally, A Finished Knitted Item!

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Now I have real proof that I am actually still doing some knitting.

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The Blue Hawaiian Chinese Lace Scarf Completed

This scarf, which was knit from a roughly fingering weight two ply yarn made from 0.5 ounces of hand dyed Blue Faced Leicester, is about 29 inches long and about 3-3/4 inches wide. It was knit on US size 6 needles (4.0 mm). The final dimensions (after blocking) surprised me, because I wasn't thinking that I would get anything of useful length out 1/2 an ounce of of this weight yarn. But, in fact, it is enough to drape around my neck and hold in place with a pretty pin. So it may turn out to be a nice neck warmer in the winter.

I didn't really want this yarn to stripe. I've now learned that it is a lot easier to get a striped yarn than an unstriped one given the way I have dyed things so far. I need to do the dying process with much shorter color intervals so that the runs of one solid color are shorter. But I'm happy with the colors and the way they look together. Now I just need to perfect my dying process to get to what I want. I am now beginning to realize that I could probably create one set of four or five colors and just spend a whole afternoon doing variations on one color theme, looking for rovings that created looks that I really liked when spun and knit. This dying experiment is turning into a very interesting adventure for me!

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Chinese Lace in Detail

I like the way that this lace behaves almost like a cable. It has a lot more relief and texture than I was expecting it too. The gentle curvature along the edges is a nice touch, too. Because of the striping effect, this yarn and this pattern are not an ideal match. My hope is to come back to this pattern with a yarn with much more subtle color variations. Perhaps Blue Hawaiian version 2!

Autumn Leaves, Version 2

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Fall Leaves Version 2 on the Spindle

My camera refuses to let you see the lovely browns that are mixed into this fall-colored concoction, but here's the proof that I finished spinning that second Fall Leaves colorway. It's a fairly rich collection of reds, browns, golds and oranges (the orange comes in more or less as a result of the mixing of different reds and golds) with a touch of burgandy. If you've been through a fall season in the midwest (and probably elsewhere...but I've spent most of my alls in the midwest), you'll know these colors as the ones you see on the maple trees as they invite the winter in. It's still quite warm here in Chicago, but as we were driving back from Ann Arbor, it was clear that many of the trees in our region are fairly convinced that the end of the summer season is nigh. Soon the incredible display of color will begin.

Hopefully tonight I'll get better light for taking pictures and I'll be able to show off a good picture of the single after a little dunk in a warm bath. I used my Niddy Noddy to determine roughly how much yardage I had...

To wit: 130 wraps x 54 inches/wrap = 195 yards Autum Leaves single ply

This is pretty consistant with what I got from the Blue Hawaiian single. So it appears that Julie is very good at measuring out 0.5 ounces of undyed roving and my spinning is relatively consistant.

P.S. to everyone who left me comments about good things to do in Maui.... thank you very much! It's very helpful. We're sooooo looking forward to this trip and I'm really psyched because I think we've found some very nice places to stay. I can't wait to take a car up the road to Hana.

P.P.S to everyone who asked about the computer games....I haven't forgotten about you, I just haven't had time to sit down and answer your email. I will very soon!

More Falling Leaves

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Fall Leaves Relaxing Before Plying

With a little bit of help from Photoshop Elements I have a better color representation of my Falling Leaves colorway. My camera appears to have issues with orange. Apparently it needs to have a long conversation with Claudia's camera to see how orange and red are done.

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Interweave Knits Crochet issue. My personal exposure to crochet has really only been to put decorative or solid edgings on my knitted garments. I have to admit that when I think of crochet, I automatically think of granny-square afghans in bright colored acrylics. But I'm trying to branch out and give crochet a better hearing. This issue has a nice basic introduction to how to read crochet charts, and, at least by my reckoning, quite a few cute projects. I like Norah Gaughn's Hemp Flowers Necklace and the kind of modern, kind of folksy Felted Folk Rug & Chair Pad. I'm intrigued by the shaping and the solid look of the Textured Tweed Clutch (though I am not sure about the bobbly looking things) and I could totally see myself wearing Annie Modesitt's South of the Border Jacket and I think I need to find someone to make the Granddaughter Socks for (you can download this pattern for free even if you didn't buy the magazine, along with several other designs). And how could you not want to crochet a Hyperbolic Plane? (Unfortunately there is no picture of this project on their website. But you can see it and more here).

So, overall, I consider it to have been a good purchase. And now I've got better things to remind me of crochet than '70's granny square afghans!

Autumn Leaves Version 2 Plied

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Autumn Leaves Version 2, 2 Ply

Dying, spinning and plying are still mystical events for me. The single ply of this yarn felt much more gold to me. The two-ply version feels much more red and deep orange. Goes to show that the sum can be very different from the parts.

On the statistics side of the equation, I got 65 wraps around my niddy, and at 54"/wrap that gets me to almost 98 yards of fall red. I'm sure there's going to be some striping action going on here but I have a feeling that it may turn out to be a bit more subtle than the striping in the Blue Hawaiian colorway. Now I just need to find a pattern to try out. I'll be heading back to my Barbara Walker books to look for things with fire or leaf motifs, I think. I think it might turn out to be a nice project to take to Hawaii with me.

The response people have to crochet always interests me. It seems to be one of those needle arts that inspires rather visceral responses. I, too, have issues with texture under some circumstances. However, I also have several sweater/top items (not handmade) that I love to wear. I like the fact that it is possible to create a more rigid fabric, which is why creating a handbag appeals to me. So we shall see.

Now I'm off to get myself into trouble with computer games again. I just downloaded the demo for Myst V... the last in the Myst series. Last in a very final way since Cyan Worlds, the maker of Myst has shut it's doors and laid off its staff. It always makes me sad in a small little place in my soul when a small company that took good care of it's people and made a big impact on the gaming universe passes out of this world. I can remember back to graduate school when I first saw Myst and got hooked by the simple magic it created. Good-bye for now, Cyan. The adventure gaming world is a poorer place for your departure.

Housekeeping

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Something about going on vacation makes me want to get everything in order. The change of the seasons has a similar effect on me. As I feel the fall weather coming to not only visit Chicago, but to stay, I have the desire to clean my desk and create an open work surface for myself. I want to look at my nearby book case and see something that makes me want to pick up my books and use them. Have a beautiful storage space like you can only find in one of those TV reality redecorating shows on the day they do their reveal.

I will spare you pictures of my desk and my bookcase. However happy their relative cleanliness makes me, I doubt it will provide anyone else with the same level of satisfaction. However, good knitter and drop-spindler that I am, facing an 8 hour flight to a an island in the middle of the pacific ocean, I'm starting to think about just what fiber and tools I will take with me. And of course, that takes me to my sidebar, as I think about all the projects that I have started but seemingly abandoned over the summer. I'm sadly amused by the section I created "waiting for summer". Now that summer has come and gone, these projects will probably wait a bit longer. Clearly I was not very motivated to get a lot done this summer on the knitting front. I'll blame the spinning bug on that one. But the spinning bug and I are pals, so it knows that I'm casting blame with a wink.

So Saturday morning, sitting down with a cup of coffee and a cool breeze floating through my house and some beginning-of-fall sunshine floating through my windows, and a wonderful vacation on the horizon, I'm starting the process of evaluating the things in my side bar.

The first thing I always like to start with is making sure that those things that I finished but just haven't moved to my gallery get moved there. This is where I can give those finished projects a last salute or, now that I've had time to live with them, drop them into the gallery wondering what I was thinking. This batch of projects gave me a nice stroll down the memory lane of Spring 2005

Quick Lace Scarf in Kid Silk Haze (Chill), Started: 11 February 2005 Finished: 1 March 2005
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Kidsilk Haze Scarf

This project was meant as a gift for a co-worker. She got it much later than I had originally planned, but in perfect time for her fall trip to Moscow. This project come out of a book I quite like, Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. It got a very nice response, so I will consider it to be one of my success stories. In fact, I may make one for myself out of some lovely pale green Habu Textiles yarn that seems very similar in consistancy to Kid Silk Haze. One thing I love about going into Nina's on Division is that she carries quite a few yarns from Habu. Last time I was in I found one that was somewhere between thread and lace weight that had stainless steel in it!

Phildar Eponge Top in Phildar Eponge (Camille), Started: 6 March 2005 Finished: 1 May 2005
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Theresa Attempts to Do the Rachael

To be honest, I haven't worn this sweater as much as I would like. By the time I finished it, there wasn't much cool spring weather left in Chicago and while the Eponge is a cotton boucle around an elastic core, it just wasn't all that airy a fabric when knit at the density called for this sweater. The fabric does have a nice texture, though and is easy on the skin, so, hopefully, this pullover will get a better hearing now that fall is approaching. I also have a dirty little secret when it comes to this sweater... I still haven't woven in the ends on the inside. So technically this project is not really finished. But knitting is not always about absolutes.

Morehouse Merino Bias Scarf in Morehouse Merino Laceweight, Started: 8 June 2005 Finished: 22 June 2005
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Bias Scarf Blocked and in the Clear Light of Morning

This is another item that has received more admiration (from me) than wearing. Even laceweight scarves aren't really summer wear here in Chicago. But the colors are perfect for fall and I will be packing this scarf to come with me to help give me a little extra warmth while on Maui. One thing we discovered while on the Big Island was that Hawaiian nights are wonderful but can be a little cool. I'm hoping this will be the perfect thing to take the edge off for me.

And that pretty much wraps it up... (except for the rainbow dyed pearl-barred scarf and my blue hawaiian scarf which I've blogged about recently enough not to give them another hearing at this point and which, given my general blog-maintenance laziness, never even made it on to my in progress list). Definitely a contrast to last summer where I remember having quite a few more projects finished and at least one pair of socks!

So now I have done the blog equivalent of cleaning off my desk (I also retired some buttons from some old knit-alongs that I've long since finished or will never finish), and it's time to start letting the feeling of open desk space help me figure out where to go next and what possibilties I want to take on. And maybe what things will be in my carry-on bag on the airplane....

Travelling Companions

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So now that I've finished some basic housekeeping, it's time for me to select some travelling companions on my trip to Maui. My goal here is not to be too over the top. After all, I want room left in my suitcase to bring back a sizable amount of Kona coffee. If you've never had fresh Kona in Hawaii and you're a coffee lover, well, you haven't lived yet. There is almost nothing better for breakfast than fresh Kona and fresh pineapple... especially when combined with an exceptional eggs benedict preparation and an open air restaurant.

Mmmmmm.... I can almost hear the waves and feel the breeze. Soon. Soon. Soon.

So what's going along for the trip? It's all about scarves and socks, friends.

1. Artisan Merino from NZ. A lovely yarn I got in a trade from Emma. What could be more appropriate for a trip to an Island in the Pacific than yarn from New Zealand. It's a little bitty skein combined with a nice lace pattern. Should keep both brain and fingers occupied, especially when combined with my iPod and a couple of good audio books. Though I'll probably switch it to my Denise needles, just to make it more airplane travel friendly.

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Soft and Purply Scarf Beginnings, Artisan Merino NZ Laceweight

2. Opal Rodeo Socks. Interestingly enough, this yarn also came in a trade from Emma. I've completed the first sock and have actually cast on and started the second sock. These socks have also been a bit of a revelation for me. I love the tubular cast on, but it takes too much energy for me to overcome the inertia of casting on a second sock. I'm thinking it will be back to my Twisted German Cast On for socks in the future. I love the happy colors in this sock yarn and now that I've gotten my second tubular cast on out of the way it should be pretty smooth sailing. Apparently others like the colors in these socks, too, as I can't go anywhere with them and not have someone ask to look at them! Should make for a nice airplane or beach project. I even have a chance of getting these finished, I think.

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Opal Rodeo Socks

3. John's Trekking XXL Socks with Bosnian Toe. I've been working on these socks -- er sock -- for way too long. My wonderful husband certainly deserves at least one new pair of socks every year, don't you think? Especially when he actually picked out a sock yarn that is not grey and does not have a completely regular pattern. I'm not sure why I've been so lazy about getting these done except that they are just for big man feet on small needles. I'm not optimistic about actually finishing the pair while we're in Hawaii, but if I could just complete the first one, I'd comsider that a major inertial victory.

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Trekking XXL Sock Waiting for Finishing and Afterthought Heel

4. Hand Dyed Autum Leaves 2 BFL. I'm thinking that I really need to take some of my own hand-dyed yarn to Hawaii. It wasnt't hard for me to find a pattern that worked well with the idea behind the yarn. Barbara Walker to the rescue again! Can anyone guess which pattern I picked? Just a hint, it's out of the second volume...

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Autum Leaves 2 Becomes a Scarf Swatch.
Can You Guess What Pattern I'm Using?

5. Habu Textiles KSH-like yarn. After being reminded of the Quick Lace Scarf by yesterday's post, I'm going to work on one for myself. How could I resist this cute little bundle? Certainly it will be easy on my suitcase!

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Sagey Green Habu Textiles Silk And Mohair: Embryonic Scarf

As per usual, I suspect I am being rather over optimistic about what I can accomplish, but I always like to balance that with having a lot to choose from. And since I don't plan to go yarn shopping on Maui (I haven't bought any yarn since MS&W and I'm hoping to keep this resolution going until at least Christmas given the size of my current stash). I want to make sure I have enough goodies with me to keep me entertained. My Denise needles will come with me, as well. They're nice and lightweight and easily fit into one's luggage and don't arouse airport safety problems.

You're probably wondering why there's no mention of spinning fiber and spindles here. I've given that a lot of thought and decided that it's probably best to leave these things at home. The fiber takes up more space than I would like and spindles are not airplane compatible tools, by my reckoning. So I'll use this vacation as an opportunity to get back to bonding with my needles, knowing that my good fibery goodies will be waiting for me when I get home. That said, I did get a little spindling in while washing clothes for our trip.

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A Little Silk and Cormo to Help Out with My Laundry

Oh, and I also got my computer "packed" and ready to go. No trip would be complete without a good complement of computer game entertainment. And I've got, for me at least, all the major areas covered. In the Strategy category, there's Civ III (how else to take on the husband in the quest for world domination?) and Railroad Tycoon III, to cover my adventure gaming needs I've got Myst IV: Revelation and URU: Ages Beyond Myst (with all expansions and upgrades) in preparation for the arrival of Myst V (it should be here by the time I get back from Hawaii), and of course, I could never leave home without a few entries from my favorite genre, role playing games, hence Neverwinter Nights (also with all the trimmings) and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. LIke the knitting, only a few are likely to really get engaged, but I know for sure that if I left one at home, that would be the one I want...and what else are nice, fat laptop harddrives for?

Maui Bound

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It's been an evening of packing and checking and checking and packing. I don't know why I live in fear of leaving something important behind -- it's not like there aren't stores on Maui! I guess I just always have to have something to worry about. But come 10 AM tomorrow morning, I'm going to be on a non-stop flight from Chicago to Maui enjoying the first class treatment that can only come from cashing in those frequent flier miles. Mimosas and a sock project, anyone?

I've found my compact flash reader, and I'm taking my trusty Nikon CoolPix 880. With a little luck, we'll find couple of good wireless hotspots so that I can share a few picture from paradise. If not, I'll be back on October 3rd, hopefully with a tan that will get me through the winter and enough Kona to brighten even the most unpleasant winter day.

10 days of sun, beach, beautiful surroundings and my sweetie... what more could a girl want?

Aloha!

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A View of Kihei Beach

Aloha from Maui! The first stop in the our tropical vacation is Kihei (just north of Wailea Makena). The photo above is the view from our rental condo's private lanai (lanai is Hawaiian for "balcony"). We face west and have already acquired a bottle of decent wine with which we can toast the sunset tonight. I was a little worried when John arranged for most of our vacation to be in condos that I was not going to like not having a full service hotel arrangement (yes, I admit it, I am not a cheap date when it comes to vacations... fortunately John is not either, so it works out okay). But how could I not like this?

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Blogging in Paradise

Me in my pajamas, my computer and a cup of fresh Kona coffee on our lanai over looking the Pacific Ocean with the sound of birds and waves crashing into the shore (okay, so there are also sounds of cars from the nearby road and helicopters, but those are easily ignored when you have an ocean calling your name). How could I not be happy? Actually, there's something to be said about being able to have your happy home routines in a place that is not your home. Being able to make myself a fresh cup of coffee this morning, editing pictures for my blog in the sunshing with an ocean breeze. Reading a few of my favorite blogs while sipping my coffee and contemplating a morning swim. It's like being at home on vacation. (As an aside, Hawaii is 5 hours behind Chicago, time wise, so even though it's 1:30 PM CST as I type this, it's only 8:30 here on Maui).

There are only two downsides in the whole thing for me. The first is that I seem to have gotten a little cold. It started manifesting itself on the airplane. It's not terrible, though and I've got a stash of vitamin C and some DayQuil and I am giving my immune system all the mental encouragement I can to fight the invader. The second is my brother and his family facing hurricane Rita. They live in a suburb south of Houston. After we got into Maui we chatted a bit through the Google Messanger. He and my sister-in-law were busy packing up their brand new house (they just bought it a few months ago) and their cats and preparing to head for a hotel in Dallas with her parents. It hardly seems fair that I can be thinking about a swim in one ocean while he is evacuating his home because of dreadful weather off of another. Please think good thoughts about him and all the others who are facing this terrible natural occurrence.

Wailea Makena Shore

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A Worthwhile Upgrade: John and Mustang at the Shore

Sometimes a little splurge is worth it. Let's face it. Would you rather be driving a Taurus or a convertable Mustang around an island paradise? It took a little bit of haggling with the woman behind the Hertz counter, but it was worth it.

It's first trip out was a trip down through Kihei (where we had a nice breakfast at Kihei Caffe) and then down the shore through Wailea and Makena, which are filled to the gills with very nice resorts. We decided to take the road (Wailea Alanui Dr.) as far as it could go. The car is parked at a little unmarked turnout with some lovely shoals and tide pools.

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Haleakala From the 1790 Flow Side

The next stop was a turn out after the road had dropped to less than two lanes and we were driving through the 1790 lava flow from Haleakala. The landscape is vaguely lunar, but 215 years has brought with it some recovery. This picture is long and narrow because I was able to "stitch" three pictures together using PhotoShop Elements. How cool is that?

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Catch a Wave at the End of the Road

The road ends at roughly the midway point along La Perouse Bay at what appears to be a pretty nice surfing beach. John and I got out to watch a group of surfers catch a few waves. I was lucky to get a few nice shots. Clearly this is not a sport for those of us who can barely walk straight without running into most of the time. But it's very fun to watch.

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A Big Wave at Big Beach

I was asked for more beach shots, so I had to post this one. We turned around from here and headed back for home. We did make one more stop, however, at a red sand beach called "Big Beach". This beach was absolutely stunning and we were both wishing we had our bathing suits with us. Towards the end of our walk up and down the beach we got to see some pretty spectacular waves crash in toward the shore. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any good pictures of those, but I rather liked this shot. That's Molokini island in the distance.

We're not sure yet where tomorrow will take us. We're just playing it by ear so far. But I'm going to be lobbying for a trip up the Kaanapali side of the island to the north and west of Kihei.

Sunset Over Maui

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Since I'm not sure I'll have internet access after we leave Kihei...

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Sunset Over Northwest Maui

We've had another delightful day on Maui that took us all around the green mountain and northwest spur of the island. I've got to get ready to go to dinner, so those pictures will have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, I leave you with this lovely sunset shot that John took from our lanai while we were having a nice glass of chardonnay

Have I mentioned I love this place?

Someone really needs to start a biotech company here...

A Trip Around Northwest Maui, Part 1

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A warning and an apology to everyone who is not on a broadband connection. This post contains a lot of pictures. I've tried to make sure they are a reasonable size, but I they are big enough so that they can be relatively high quality.

On Friday we headed up route 30 around Halemahina the extinct volcano on the northwest of the island. Haleakala is the "House of the Sun" and Halemahina is the "House of the Moon". Just past Ma'alaea we stopped at Papawai Point to look back at the Kihei-Wailea coast. Its actually kind of lovely and mystical to see the mountains and shores enshrouded in clouds.

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Kihei Coast seen from Papawai Point

We continued driving up the shore, past some lovely parks and beaches until we reached Lahaina. Lahaina seems mostly like a tourist shopping area. It's got the requisite ice cream parlor, places to buy T-shirts emblazoned with "Maui", too many jewelry stores, a few art galleries, restaurants with names like "Cheeseburger in Paradise" combined with a small shopping mall. After all, what good is a trip to paradise if you can't shop at Banana Republic? Since you've probably all seen a Banana Republic before, I took a picture of the walled shoreline instead. This wall extends all along the length of Lahaina -- or at least all along where there is no retail presence.

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The Lahaina Shore

One thing to note about Lahaina, is that the beach around the city is still a sandy beach. As you progress north on route 30, the beach experience begins to change dramatically from sandy to rocky. The landscape also changes from relatively dry to relatively lush and the old volcano top is blanketed in clouds most of the time. After we passed Kaanapali, we stopped at another turn out to take a picture and look back along the shore. Like the Wailea-Makena area, Kaanapali to Kapalua is another shoreline where you'll find a bunch of resorts. Clearly this area has a very different feel than the Wailea-Makena shore.

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Looking Back at Kaanapali

Our next stop was at a Honolua Bay -- a stony beach with some excellent snorkeling potential. The trip to the beach takes you through a forest area that makes you think that elves and fairies must be hiding somewhere within. I couldn't resist taking this picture of John as he explored a bit.

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Jasiu Tarzanski, Polish Lord of the Jungle

While John scanned the shore for fish (this is known as a good snorkeling spot) I got in a few stitches on my sock as I admired the scenery. This was probably one of the few sunny spots that we found during our trip. It's also definitely some place we will be coming back to so that John can work out his snorkeling gear.

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The Sock Gets a View of Honolua Bay

Since we took a little break here to catch our breath, and we're pretty much at the halfway point around our loop, this seems like a good place to take a blogging break. I'll finish up the journey tomorrow.

A Trip Around Northwest Maui, Part 2

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As with the last post, here there be many pictures. This is the second half of our trip around Halemahina. Because I may not have internet access for a while, I'm posting this early. For the record, we did go back to Honolua Bay the next day and had a lovely snorkeling adventure. All sorts of beautiful tropical fish and coral, including yellow tangs, sea urchins, saltwater angel fish and trigger fish.

The next stop after Honolua Bay was a brief pause to get a snapshot of some red rock cliffs. I'm pretty sure that this is near Honokohau Bay. There's a lot of "to do" about red dirt here on Maui, and this gives you a pretty good idea of where it comes from. In fact, the dirt on the shoulders of the road was also this lovely red clay color. This picture is also notable for the sunshine. It was a pretty grey day as we took this trip up the shoreline, but we got a nice little burst of sunshine here.

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Red Cliffs Near Honokohau Bay

While in this same area we stopped at a turnout that had a stunning view of the ocean. One of the strange phenomenon that you see here (and along the road in this area) are these little piles of rocks. Apparently, they mean nothing. People just started doing it for no obvious reason. I guess it's a bit of a Mauian Meme. We left the rocks to themselves, but I thought they made a nice picture standing on this lovely grassy green hill on the way to an overlook.

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Strange Standing Stones Above Honokohau Bay

After a little hike through this nice grassy area we got a stunning view of the ocean and the rocks and cliffs below and we stayed a while to watch and listen as the waves crashed on the rocks below us.

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Crashing Waves on Honokohau Bay

And my sock got a little action in, too. What sock would not want the chance to take in the sea air and feel the breeze in it's stitches? And there may be no fiber festivals on Maui, but I brought a little bit of Maryland Sheep & Wool along for the ride in the form of one of my current favorite T-shirts.

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Sock in Honokohau Bay

The rest of the trip from this point on was on mostly one lane road around the jagged edges of Halemahaina. Apparently there are some cattle ranches in the area. John was amazed when we saw these cows on the hillside. It doesn't look very steep, but these guys were probably standing on a hillside with something around a 45 or greater degree angle. Not a place you expect to see cows! John figures if you've got to be a cow, Maui is an awfully nice place to be one.

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Happiest Cows on the Planet

I would love to have some pictures from the one lane winding trip that we took to get to Kahakuloa, but there really wasn't any place that was all that safe to stop and pull over. It's a pretty narrow road and there aren't a lot of good guardrails. There were many places where we had to stop and wait for others to pass. The trip is extraordinarily beautiful, however, so I'd recommend it if you get the chance, as long as you have someone comfortable driving under those conditions. When we finally got to Kahakuloa we had to laugh a little but when we came across this sign...

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An Understatement in Kahakuloa

There was also a very good reason to stop at Kahakuloa. Who can resist the opportunity to have some of the best banana bread in the world?

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Julia's Best Banabread Stand

For the record, the banana bread was excellent... it was fresh and warm. We saved some for breakfast the next morning. Yum yum yum. Julia was also doing a little knitting when we got there.... in case you wanted to hear about a little more knitting content.

The trip back home required a little less caution because we got back onto a two lane road after passing the Mendez Ranch. This would have been a better shot in the bright sun, but you deal with the weather you get. We didn't think we'd get another chance to stop and see Kuhului Harbor this way. (Kuhului is where the major airport is located). I don't think it's very clear, but there was an enormous cruise ship "parked" in the harbor when we took the picture.

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Overlooking Kahului Harbor

Our last stop on our way back to Kihei was the Iao Valley. There's a lovely state park here. If I am remembering the signs I read here, this used to be a special place to the ancient Mauians. When you see the fog gently drape the cliff tops, it's easy to imagine why. Even on a grey, rainy day, the beauty and majesty of this place stands out.

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Iao Valley Mist Covered Mountain Tops

The valley itself looks out west onto Haleakala. So you can see the House of the Sun from the House of the Moon. Or you could if there was just a little less cloud cover.

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John in the Iao Valley

After that, we drove home to find sunshine on the shores of Kihei Bay and toasted the sunset with another glass of wine.

Aloha!

Pa'ia Bay

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John and I love to stay in small places when we travel. B&B's, vacation condos, beach cottages. But we've found, over time, that you have to be prepared for a few clunkers every now and again. Places that don't live up to your expectations or even come close to their description. Places that weren't bad, just weren't really what you wanted them to be. Places that would have been great if they'd just been in a slighly different location.

When we first got to Kihei, and we walked into our condo at the Kealia Resort, I was pretty sure that I was going to put it into the category of "nice, but not quite up to our standards". But then John found the beach towels all ready to go to the beach, and I discovered the coffee filters and coffee grinder so that I could engage in my favorite morning ritual with some fresh Kona, and I noticed some of the hand-stitched pieces in the bathroom and the quilts on the walls. It wasn't the Ritz-Carlton, but it felt homey and warm and cared about. And it overlooked a beautiful beach. So finding the Kealia Condos was clearly a victory (they are quite affordable as well) in my book and when it was time to check out, I didn't completely want to leave.

Our next stop was supposed to be a small cottage adjoining a vacation house on Pa'ia Bay on the north shore of Maui. When we got there, it was cute enough, but it hadn't been cleaned and wasn't ready for us. John made a phone call to the group that manages the property and suddenly we found ourselves moved from the cottage to the house (no one had reserved the house while we were scheduled to be here). We wouldn't have complained about being in a cleaned up cottage, but to be upgraded to the house was really a wonderful surprise. It's a two floor place that could probably house 8 people. And it has a full kitchen (complete with coffee maker!) and a wireless router. And John's favorite part? It has two available hammocks.

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Paia Bay House

And the sleeping accomodations aren't bad either... you go to sleep and wake up with the breeze and the sound of the ocean. If you're me... this is paradise. In Chicago, I never get to sleep with the balcony door open because the city noise makes it hard for John to sleep. Here, I get my fill of wonderfull breezes.

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A Room With A View

And the view? Well, it isn't so bad, either! Before we went to bed, we sat under the palms and watched the stars. Amazing!

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A View of Paia Bay

We face west and when the clouds aren't too bad, you can see Halemahaina. And there's nothing like doing a little surfing off your back porch.

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John and His Laptop Take In the Ocean View

We've had a number of people gently rib us about not being able to leave our computers behind and enjoy the world around us. But at the end of the day, we are what we are, and we like having out digital windows on the world , being connected to our friends and family, being able to post to a blog. As I put this post together, it's still not quite 8 in the morning yet, I'm having coffee on the lanai and enjoying a spectacular view. Peaceful and connected. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly makes us happy.

We're also within easy walking distance of Paia -- a nice little town with a host of cute restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries and touristy galleries. We felt much more at home having dinner last night in the Mexican/Southwestern style restaurant we found than in any place we went on the southern part of the island. I can see now why people like northern Maui. Southern Maui is a wonderful place to visit, but the north shore feels like a place you could really settle into and live.

Lazy Tuesday Afternoon

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Since John got a mild migraine today, we decided to stay closer to our home base and take it easy. Even so, the camera came out a few times. It's so easy to find things here to photograph!

For those of you who need a white sandy beach fix...

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Looking East Down Paia Beach

You can't see it very well, but the beach house we are staying in is roughly in the top center of the picture.

I spent most of the afternoon on the lanai working on my sock (there might actually be a real finished item accomplishment while I'm in Hawaii), but I took some time out from knitting to have a glass of wine with John and to watch the sun go down over Halemahaina. I love this cloud formation over the mountain....

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The Sun Goes Down Over Halemahaina

See that little "break" in the clouds in the center of the picture? That's actually the sky behind the mountain that is visible beneath the cloud layer. The clouds were hovering just over the tops of the mountain.

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A Kite Boarder in Paia Bay

This guy was enjoying the last rays of sunlight to glide across the bay on his board with the help of his kite/sail. We've seen a number of people doing this in different places. Looks like it must be fun. We enjoyed watching this guy cross the bay and surf into shore before we headed off to dinner.

The Road to Hana

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Yesterday we got into the Mustang and headed down Highway 360 -- the Road to Hana. We took so many pictures and there's just too much to put into one post. In fact, the taking this road is about the full sensory experience. The visuals are incredible, you can hear the sounds of birds and waterfalls and the ocean. You can smell the scent of gingers and other tropical flowers in the air. You can reach out and feel the gentle rain that doesn't quite make it into your car, even though you've got the top down. And there's just nothing better than the tast of fresh pineapple that you bought along the way and ate at a beautiful beach at the end of the road.

And driving the road is an experience in and of itself. So I thought I would start out with a few images that highlight the road itself. If you like some S curves in your life, this road is probably the ultimate. But don't expect to get much over 15-20 mph. Or, as the signs all over say... "Slow down, this isn't the mainland!" It's excellent advice.
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A View Down the Road

Everywhere you turn, there's something new and wonderful to see. The vegetation just draws you down the road, creates it's own lush and beautifully lit "caves" of green.

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Rainbow Eucalyptus

And the vegetation is both exotic and beautiful. These are the rainbow eucalyptus trees. Their bark is a rainbow of beautiful tropical colors. There are a couple of stands of them early on in the trip. Makes you feel like you are in a magical fairy wood. The colors look like they were painted on with water color or pastel brush strokes.

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Another View: The Vegetation Changes

You might expect the same tropical plants to repeat themselves everywhere. In fact, as you go farther down the road, the plants you see change as the road does.

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The road itself clings to the edges of the mountain sides. There were several places where we got out just to see where we had come from and to watch others take the path along the road.

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Maui Waterfall

I wish I could remember the name of this falls. Perhaps it doesn't have one. It's literally just off the road in a little turnout before one of the one lane bridges on the Hana Highway. And it's beautiful. This part of the island is clearly rainier than other parts, but without the rain, you wouldn't have sights like these. There are three lower falls and one above the main set of three. Probably hard to see in this picture that I made smaller for the blog, which is too bad. It was definitely one of my best pictures of the day. And one of the nicest falls we saw on the trip as well.

Aloha!

Rainbows

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Sigh.

This will be my last post until we get back to Chicago. Funny, I'm not really lamenting the return to Chicago, except that it means leaving Maui. Yesterday, as John and I made our second trip down the road to Hana, we saw a FedEx truck making it's rounds. John decided that if he could be the FedEx or UPS delivery driver on the Hana Highway, he'd be be happy to stay in Maui. It's also clear that Maui needs a yarn store. Ah, to dream...

We have many many pictures from the road to Hana. Interestingly, as I went back over them, I realized we didn't get any pictures of Hana itself. Funny how we get the small things and miss the big ones. It's going to take me a little while to organize and categorize the pictures. So while John and I will be coming home soon, the vacation tour will continue on the blog.

However, no trip to Hawaii would be complete without some rainbows. I love the license plates on the cars with rainbows, but John and I have been lucky enough to see some real rainbows. Yesterday, we drove all the way past Hana to the ocean edge of Haleakala National Park to Oheo Gulch. It was a stunningly beautiful place and we had a gorgeous afternoon. I got to work a little bit on the toe of my Rodeo sock while enjoying the scenery. And while we were there, nature provided us with the most stunning display -- a full arc rainbow.

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Oheo Gulch Rainbow -- and A Happy Sock Knitter

This is only the one end of the rainbow. I'm hoping I can use photoshop to stitch together the several pictures we got with all the rainbow pieces so that I can show you the whole thing. It was nothing short of stunning. John and I just sat there and watched it as it grew and ebbed. It really felt like Hawaii was putting on a magic show just for us.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I should let you know that the north side of Maui is not sunny full time, and those rainbows don't show up without a little help. This morning, as we prepare to pack up and leave for our last location in upcountry Maui, it's raining. Actually, it's been raining off and on (sometimes quite aggressively) since 8 PM last night. You don't get all the beautiful green here without a little water from the sky. But on this last morning in Paia, we were rewarded with another colorful treat.

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Rainbow through the Rain at Paia Bay

Now I've got to go shower and pack and get some dishes cleaned up so that we can get moving. We'll have one more breakfast in Paia and stop to get some of the best Chocolate Chip Banana bread that I have ever had courtesy of Cake Walk (Paia Bakery) on Baldwin St.

Aloha to everyone who's shared my vacation with me. I'll see you all again when I get back to Chicago.

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