Recently in Travel Category

Hand Dyed Yarn in Paradise

| 4 Comments
20120814_HanaleiHandDyed.jpg

The truth is, that while I love Hawaii (and the Island of Kauaii, in particular) I don't really go to Hawaii to knit or go yarn shopping.  It's warm, it's humid and I'm at the beach and knitting is only infrequently on the agenda - so yarn doesn't even seem like the right kind of souvenir from Hawaii most of the time.

That said, I was so surprised to find a nice little yarn store in Hanalei (Kauai's North Shore) in the local Ukelele shop, Strings and Things that I had to stop in and look.  Imagine my surprise to find not only Arucania, but also beautiful locally hand dyed yarn, Hanalei Hand Dyed.  Apparently the yarn originates from a rainy season some time back where there was 40 days of rain.  The owners of the store, who knew how to knit, thought it would be good to find something else to do and the dying business was born.  They have some yarns dyed with local plant-based dyes.

So, in spite of myself, I walked away with some souvenir yarn that would be completely impractical for Hawaiian use (the yarn on the left is 65% cashmere, 35% silk; the yarn on the right is a bamboo/merino blend) but will be perfect for Chicago.  The dusty muted tones of the cashmere silk blend remind me of Kauai rain showers (of which there are many) and the bright sunny tones of the bamboo/merino remind me of Mai Tais by sunset. 

The shawl pin is also a local product, from njm designs (I couldn't find a website). It's labelled as "copper mandala".

There's been a little bit of knitting going on (the scarf of my last post has grown longer) but mostly it's been about the beach and the pursuit of shave ice since arriving on Saturday.  This is our third trip to Kauai... and every time we visit it feels a little more like home.

New York City for Hallowe'en

| 10 Comments
Hey all you New York City knowledgeable folks!  I'm making my first trip ever to the biggest city in the US.  The husband and I *love* food... so you know what we're planning to do as much as we can of while we're there.  I've got a Saturday, Sunday and Monday night to revel in the dining experience.

Thing is, the restaurant options are almost overwhelming.  Any of you experienced NYC travelers or residents care to share your favorites?  We're open to high end and low end and looking to have meals in places that help us really feel like we're in New York!

We're staying in the middle of Manhattan for the first two nights, near the financial district Monday night.

And if you don't have suggestions for dining, but do have other "don't miss" locations, please share those as well. 

We will be there sans child, so we're planning to have an adult mini-vacation. 

In the Air Again

The small area of DC that I got to see was lovely. I can see why the people who live here like it. Hopefully, my new job will bring me back sometime so that I will have the chance to see more. One thing that has been neat is using this BlogPress app for my iPhone. Syncs up with my MT install without a problem. I give it a thumbs up for anyone looking for something similar. That said, I'm looking forward to getting home, getting off my iPhone, seeing my girl and heading to Goose Island to get a beer with my favorite guy. Business travel is always good for making me appreciate the things I get to do at home. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Access Rd,Arlington,United States

On My Way East

| 1 Comment
It's 6:20 in the morning. I've been up since 4. I'm sitting at O'hare enjoying my decaf skim latte (not so bad for airport Sbux) and waiting for my flight to DC. Capitol City, here I come! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Access Rd,Des Plaines,United States

On the Road Again

| 2 Comments
Well, my bags are packed, my book selected, my projects in my travel bag and soon it will be time to leave for the airport.  And just in the nick of time, because Chicago has officially started displaying chilly fall weather. 

Our next stop is San Antonio, on the way to Marble Falls, TX, to spend a long weekend with my brother and his family.  It will be the first time that we meet his sweet little boy -- my only nephew -- and I think that we are all looking forward to that.  I can't wait to see what Z thinks about him.   Even if it rains (which is, unfortunately, what the weather forecast is predicting) it will be warmer weather by a lake. 

What am I taking along?  Well, I decided against anything major (Dragon is staying home, as is Z's second Zebra sleeve) and am packing the yarn for Otto, the JaWoll sock I am currently working on, and the pair of Francie socks that I started some time back (even cast on and knitted the cuff for the second sock) in the hopes that I'll be motivated to just wrap some things up so I can focus on the last toy and the Zebra Striper sweater when I get back.

Wherever your weekend takes you, may it be a good one!  Happy Trails!

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

| 3 Comments

While my Vesper socks are lovely to me, they are not, perhaps, interesting blog fodder two days in a row.  Since I am not quite willing to put my vacation behind me (in fact, I am trying to store little bits of it inside me where I can call on it when I need some inner calm) I thought I'd share something I wrote on our last day in Kauai.  We'd just finished up a drive to the southern and western most end of the road on the island and gobbled down our last shave ice (the best we had the whole trip) and were letting Z have some play time in a wonderful park area near Lydgate Beach.  I pulled out my knitting/craft project journal and thought about that perennial question that every grade schooler gets to answer in September: "What Did I Do on my Summer Vacation?".  Here's a snapshot of that list:

  • Celebrated my baby girl's 2nd birthday by lighting up 30 sparklers on the beach.
  • Swam with an eel, an octopus and a green sea turtle while snorkeling.
  • Drank my coffee on the beach almost every morning.
  • Finished a milestone sweater project: Lotus
  • Watched my baby girl go from being unwilling to go in the water to running into the ocean up to her neck. 
  • Forgot about work.  Job?  Arlington Heights?  What Job?
  • Went to sleep almost every night listening to the rain fall.
  • Saw several beautiful rainbows.
  • Looked down into a valley from Wai Ale Ale.
  • Watched the sun go down over Ke'e Beach
  • Ate shave ice almost every day. Personal favorite flavor combination: pineapple and margarita over macadamia nut ice cream from JoJo's in Waimea.
  • Packed the lightest I've ever packed -- and still overpacked.  But it was still a major accomplishment. 
  • Got a really great tan (as long as you don't look at my pale belly) -- with sunscreen.
  • Lived up to my promise to John to make our vacation a bitch-free zone given his incredible baby wrangling on the flights out. 
  • Felt content about my world and grateful for all the good people and wonderful things in it.

These are small things, mostly, but this vacation, I think, was about teaching me to appreciate the small things and not to get hung up on what I couldn't do.  Having a child creates some vacation limits, but it also created some wonderful memories that only happened because those limits existed. I like to think that maybe part of growing up is being able  to accept what is in front of me instead of just always wishing for something I don't have or getting frustrated when I can't check off every box on my "to do" list. 

What about you?  Have you learned anything important so far this summer?  It doesn't have to have resulted from a vacation. 
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Vesper on the Beach

| 6 Comments
20090719_VesperSocksBeach.jpg
My Vesper Wee Skein socks are coming along nicely.  This photo was taken using my fast 50 lens on Ke'e Beach (the western most beach on Kauai that is easy to get to -- also the beach I took the sunset pictures at) about an hour before sunset. I'm rather pleased with both the composition.  The sunlight was gorgeous and I actually did get to knit a few rows at the beach (though generally I find knitting at salt water beaches hard because of the minerals and humidity in the air) which watching Z splash around in the water.  Ke'e Beach was where Z really started to get her water mojo on and started to go into the water on her own, just because she wanted to. 

As you can tell from the first, completed socks, these socks are taller than my normal variety.  I decided that I was going to use up 4 repeats of each colorway on each sock (there are 8 total repeats of each colorway in each wee skein) so these socks come up over my calves a little bit.  Not quite knee socks.  I suspect if you wanted  knee socks, all you would need would be the remnants from another skein of Vesper and you'd probably be pretty close.  I had to do a little shaping as I got up to the calf area, I added two stitches to either side of the back every other stripe for a few stripes and then did every stripe for a bit and then left it once I'd gone up to 72 stitches (so I added about an inch to the circumference).  The ribbing was done using that last full color progression for the last color.

The second sock is now just past the heel -- not finished in Kauai, as I had hoped, but there were just too many other things to enjoy so I didn't feel too bad about that. 
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Last Day in Kauai

| 5 Comments
By the time this is posted, we'll be in the process of packing our bags and wrapping up our vacation.  My emotional state on these days is always a puzzle to me.  While I have gotten to the place where I feel good, feel that we have done almost as much as we can do with a young child on an island full of outdoor activities and am beginning to miss home, at the same time, the thought doing laundry, packing up and going home makes me feel both a bit surly and melancholy.  It reminds me of what I think of as "after the party syndrome" -- the big let down I usually feel after planning a big event and then watching all the guests leave.  I don't really mind the packing or the cleaning up, but I think there's some draining away of the kinetic energy that went into making the event or vacation happen.  All those things I was excited about are now wrapped up and gone until the next event or next vacation. 

I'm trying not to let these feeling take away the last moments of beauty that we have here.  As much as I love Chicago, and feel like I was supposed to be a Chicagoan, I also regularly wish that Chicago had stunning mountain views or ocean beaches and ocean breezes (of course, we have Lake Michigan, but it is not quite the same, and the west side of the lake is really the low quality shore... the place where sand has to be imported in every year).  Nothing makes me feel more serene than sitting on the shore of a restful beach (like Anini) feeling the breeze off the water and listening to the ocean sounds.   The city is my home, but it is not a place that brings me the spiritual well being that comes from staring up and a night sky full of stars, uninterrupted by city lights and sirens. But I often wonder if I find Kauai so delightful because it is the antithesis of Chicago -- a complete and polar opposite that forces me to dump my issues at the door simply by being completely unlike my day-to-day world.  I know that it is precious because it is not easily reached and time here is limited.  Certainly I will leave here with many good memories -- and looking forward to the next visit.

Since my last slide show with Flickr seemed to work well (and saved me a little bit of photo editing), I thought I'd wrap things up with another little show covering our last few days. Tuesday morning I managed to capture some pictures of the little crabs that live on the beach and we took a trip up Wailua River to the Fern Grotto. Wednesday we explored Lydgate Beach Park and the wonderful playground nearby (a place where Z could have played forever.  Thursday we went to Na Aina Ka -- a lovely, privately developed garden on the north shore of Kauai that is open to the public for tours and has a nice children's garden.

 

Friday will probably be mostly "dry" adventures (since we have to check out of our beach house at 10 AM and our flight out doesn't leave until 9 PM) and maybe a small family celebration of Z's 2nd birthday (official celebration to be held next weekend).

I wish all of you a lovely weekend.  I'll be back to my regular posting schedule and more fibery topics next week.  Thank you to all of you who checked in for my vacation photos.  In most ways they are for me more than for any one else, but it makes me happy to know that others enjoy them, too.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Three cheers for Flickr!  Sometimes I have cool options at my finger tips, but forget that they are there! (and would have never remembered if I hand't received a reminder that it was time to renew my pro account). I uploaded the entire series of pictures that I took of the sunset at Ke'e Beach (apologies for the few where the horizon shifted around -- I was trying to avoid that) and put them in a set so that I could create a slide show.  In my opinion, Ke'e Beach is one of the most beautiful places in the world to watch the sun go down.  If you're on Kauai, you have to treat yourself to a trip to this spot (there's plenty of parking) preferably with a bottle of wine and some bread and cheese.   These photos were taken using the maxium range for my telephoto lens.  John also gets a big round of applause for his role in this photo taking session -- he kept a tired, hungry toddler entertained while I shot them.  Much harder than sitting behind a camera. 

I got a perfect evening for taking the pictures -- started out with an almost cloudless sky.  One thing that you can count on in Kauai -- there almost certainly will be clouds in the evening, so sometimes sunsets can be hard to see and capture because they happen behind billowy curtains.  This night, conditions were almost perfect -- a few clouds snuck in right before the end and provided some lovely diffusion effects for the last rays of sunlight.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090712_ZAtKee.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090712_TransientFootprint.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090712_NaPaliCoastline.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090712_KeeWave.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090712_WetRockKeeBeach.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090712_KeeBeachSouthView.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090712_KeeBeachNorthView.jpg

(click on images for bigger)

top left: Z on the shores of Ke'e Beach, top center: photographers footprints washed away by Ke'e Beach waves, top right: NaPali Coastline as seen from Ke'e Beach, center left: waves over the reef at Ke'e Beach, center center: ancient rock on Ke'e Beach, center right: looking south down Ke'e Beach, bottom left: the deserted north end of Ke'e Beach


I have had requests for more beach and more sunsets.  And, in truth, those things were on my agenda, too.  In particular, a trip to Ke'e Beach, which is the beautiful beach "at the end of the road" to Hanalei -- quite literally, the 10 mile marker is actually on the beach.  Ke'e is a lovely beach, one of my favorites on Kauai.  It has a reef for snorkeling and is one of the few beaches that doesn't really require reef shoes or flip flops in the water to avoid rocks and coral since the bottom is sandy.  It's also a fine sand beach with a smattering of black sand mixed in, which makes it seem like "dirtier" sand than it really is.  We headed out after Z's nap so that we could dip in the water, snorkel and watch the sun go down.  Because the beach faces pretty much directly due west, it's an incredible place to watch the sun go down from.  Some folks claim you can occasionally view a green flash here -- unfortunately, we've never seen it, but that doesn't make the sunset any less lovely.  Supposedly, Ke'e is also a favorite location of green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals, but neither of those lovely creatures made an appearance while we were there, either.

Perhaps the nicest thing that happened on our visit to this beach, was having Z discover that she could wade into the water deeper than her thighs -- and that she liked it.  Z comes from a long line of water babies on my side (my parents grew up in the the lake side town of Ludington, MI and I spent much time there and on other Michigan coastlines) so I figured she'd find her inner fish eventually. 

Sunsets will find their way to the blog tomorrow... still haven't figured out the best way to show the series I shot.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Images of Kauai -- July 11, 2009


http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090711_AniniBeach.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090711_OFalls.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090711_WailuaRiver.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090711_WFalls.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090711_BirdInFligh.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090711_WFallsRocks.jpg

(click on images for full sized versions of photos)

top left: Anini Beach in the sunshine, top center: Opaekaa Falls, top left: Wailua River, bottom left: Wailua Falls, bottom center: bird in flight at Wailua Falls, bottom left: rock formation at Wailua Falls


The theme for Saturday was waterfalls.  Kauai gets a pretty stunning amount of rain every year.  Sometimes that rain gets in the way, but the locals will remind you that without the rain, there would not be the stunning collection of waterfalls that dot the upcountry. When John and I were here in 2006, we took an open doors helecopter flight that took us into a grotto where seven or eight falls had formed.  Many falls are hard to get to by car, but since having a toddler means that even simple hikes are complicated (and few trains in Kauai are the sort that have good surfaces and hand rails), we opted to take a look at a couple that we could get to with wheels instead of feel.  Wailua Falls is one of the more famous falls on the island, but I thought Opaekaa Falls was the more interesting to look at and to photograph (the angles I had for photographing Wailua Falls weren't all that great for the main overlook -- I suspect it's much better if you hike to the bottom of the falls). 

Most of the morning was cloudy and rainy (in fact, we got caught in something of a downpour at Opaekaa Falls) but the afternoon, as per usual, turned beautiful once we got back to the beach house and put Z down for her nap.  It was a picture perfect afternoon on the shores of Anini Beach. 
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

A Little Crochet

| 3 Comments
Today we headed to Tunnels Beach to do some swimming and some snorkeling.  In spite of the fact that the scenery was absolutely stunning, both at the beach and on the drive to the beach, I took no photos.  In fact, I didn't even bring the camera along.  I think that's the hardest thing about going to beaches that you aren't able to walk out your back door and go swimming in -- you just don't want to take all that much valuable stuff.  Especially if your car is not going to be where you can keep an eye on it and you have a toddler to patrol.  The water was wonderful and the snorkeling was great, even in the afternoon when all the water was stirred up.  It was like swimming in a fish tank with all sorts of salt water beauties swimming around and under us.  We're hoping to head back in that direction sometime in the next couple of days, and next time the camera will probably come with me.

Thank you to everyone who left nice words about Lotus.  They are much appreciated!  To anyone who likes the sweater but thinks it's too complicated to tackle, don't let the crochet or the fine gauge dissuade you -- it takes a little care, but it's not all that hard if you follow the instructions carefully.  Also, I know the Fine Milk Cotton is pretty spendy -- but I'm pretty sure that almost any sport weight cotton would work out just fine.  Rowan has a standard cotton 4 ply, and I believe Patons also has a yarn in the right weight range and I think both would be more affordable than the Fine Milk Cotton.

When I was packing for this trip, I brought very little in the way of fiber-related projects.  I packed Lotus and the supplies I needed to finish her up.   I packed the sock project I am working on using the Vesper Wee Skein kit, yarn for one additional pair of socks, should I finish up the Vesper sock, and a collection of perle cotton, an interchangeable crochet hook set and my Japanese Doily book.  It may not seem like it, but, for me, this was remarkably restrained.  With Lotus out of the way and my desire to knit wool socks dulled by tropical weather, I turned my attention to the doily book.

20090709_CrochetMotif.jpgI picked this motif somewhat at random, bt mostly because there were no complicated stitches to figure out.  Of course, it ended up having the crochet equivalent of bobbles (at the corners, they're a little hard to see), but I liked the end product even so. I crocheted the motif using 5/2 perle cotton on a size 3 steel crochet hook.  The motif is aboutt 6-7" in diameter and the perfect size for an actual doily.  The color changes are due to the fact that one little skein of perle cotton didn't go as far as I thought it would -- all those double crochet stitches eat up yarn pretty quickly.  I'll have to block it when I get home, but I think it will make a nice dresser decorationn.

With this one finished, I'm itching to start another one -- these things come together so fast, even on a small hook, and almost every row is different, so I'm finding it hard to put them down!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Images of Kauai -- July 10, 2009

| 1 Comment

http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090710_Coral.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090710_BeachView.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090710_BeachGlories.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090710_NaturalTunnel.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090710_MountainClouds.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090710_TreeRoots.jpg

(click on images for bigger versions)

top left: coral on Anini Beach, top center: north Kauai shore line, top right: beach Morning Glories, bottom left: tunnel through the trees near Hanalei, bottom center: mountains in the clouds, bottom right: tree roots near Ha'ena Beach Park


This is the mid point of our vacation.  The midway point is always a little melancholy for me, as it's a reminder that while the glass is still half full, it's also half empty and the busy world we left behind is only another week away.  This is silly, of course, since even though I love to visit places like Kauai, I know I couldn't make my home here.  In fact, I think vacations would do less to recharge my batteries if I always lived in paradise.  I think that the fact that vacations are fleeting is part of what makes them precious.  What I need to get better at is taking a little bit of that peace that I find and stashing it away inside myself so that I can find it again when I need it.

Today was a lazy day with no particular plan.  There was a morning dip in the ocean and after Z settled in for her nap, John and I headed west and had lunch at a restaurant with a lovely view not too far past Hanalei, the Mediterranean Gourmet (very passable Lebanese inspired food... and a Macadamia Tart to die for).  One thing that often gets forgotten amongst all the beach pictures is that Kauai is much more than her beaches.  Kauai also has a stunning mountain scape courtesy of her long dead volcano.  It's almost impossible for me to take the panoramic pictures that would really show off the landscape -- but that's okay... somethings have to be experienced and no photo can really capture their grandeur.  Such is true of watching the sun set throught the clouds casting stunning rays of last light over the mist on the upcountry. 

One thing that has stood out to me, compared to our last visit, is how much real estate along the north shore is available for sale.  I'd say it ranges from 20-50% depending on the area.  It seems that Kauai is no stranger to the same housing issues plaguing the mainland.  And it's clear that unemployment is hitting the island hard, too.  A number of beach parks that we've seen that have full amenities (i.e. showers and toilets) have clearly become more than temporary camping sights for some.  Not that this makes the beaches less enjoyable (the main camping area at Anini Beach is only a couple hundred yards from us and you would never know there were a bunch of people there), it's just a reminder to me of how lucky John and I are to be where we are in life and to be able to take a vacation. 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090707_LighthouseCove.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090707_JohnathanLivingsto.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090707_Lighthouse.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090707_FrigateBird.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090707_ZatLighthouse.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090707_BirdIslandWaves.jpg

(click on the images for larger)

top left: little cove near Kilauea Point, top center: sea bird (red footed booby?) in flight, top left: Kilauea Lighthouse, bottom left: greater frigate bird, bottom center: Z at the Lighthouse, bottom left: breakers near the Lighthouse


It was a low key day today, some swimming, some seaming and a trip to the Kilauea Point to see the Lighthouse.  The Lighthouse area is a state park and wildlife refuge that is filled with ocean birds.  We visited the Point on our last trip, but I was unable to get any good pictures of the birds in flight with my little point and shoot camera.  This time, with big DSLR and telephoto lens (a much appreciated Christmas present from John that is finally getting a real work out) in hand I was finally able to capture some of these birds.  I think the bird in the top center picture is a red footed booby -- he reminded me of my memories of reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  But the photos that I was most excited about were those of the Greater Frigate Birds, which have forked tails and perform beautiful acrobatics in the air.  Using the mode that allowed for rapid shooting, I was able to take a whole series.  I am particularly happy with the one above and the way the bird is juxtaposed with the clouds.

I mentioned that there was some seaming.  Indeed, Lotus is now has all crochet completed and all ends woven in.  Just one more sleeve remains to be attached. 

Beach view.  Coffee.  Sweater without sleeves.  Seaming inspiration.  Looking forward to tomorrow when the light is good again and I can get the second sleeve sewn in.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Images of Kauai -- July 6, 2009

| 3 Comments

http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090706_Sunrise.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090706_WaimeaCanyon2.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090706_WaimeaCanyon1.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090706_JohnAndZ.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090706_WaimeaCanyon3.jpg


(click the images to enlarge)
top left: sunrise, top center: Waimea Canyon, top left: Waimea Canyon, bottom right: John and Z at a Waimea Canyon overlook,bottom center: looking down to the Napali Coast
)

Today we headed down to Waimea Canyon.  John and I had been before (in fact, we'd done several hikes in the canyon on our last trip), but it was nice to introduce my Mom and Dad.  I think Waimea Canyon is one of those big surprises on the island.  You drive up the mountain road and suddenly come face to face with this stunning terrain.  The most stunning views, in my opinion can be found at "the end of the road" in the park, looking down from the top to the Napali coastline.  I was unable to take a picture that did it justice.  It's one of the few places that calls out for a wide angle lens to help you take it all in. 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Images of Kauai -- July 5, 2009

| 5 Comments

http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090705_MorningBreak.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090705_RockyFish.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090705_HammockView.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090705_KauaiRooster.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090705_SpoutingHole.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090705_SunsetPalm.jpg

(click thumbnails for full sized images)

top left: early morning break in the clouds over Kilauea Lighthouse, top center: camoflauged rocky fish near shore, top right: a view from the hammock, bottom left: wild Kauai rooster, bottom center: Spouting Horn near Poipu Beach, bottom right: sunset with palms

Our second day on Kauai started off with an early morning dip in the ocean.  John and I explored tide pools in the coral (for which there are no pictures because it was not a camera friendly place to go) and discovered more sea urchins than we could count.  After naptime (during which I both got myself sunburned and discovered that I had made a mistake in the pink edging on the main body of Lotus that required I rip it completely out ) we took a trip to Koloa Town and Spouting Horn, stopping off for some Caramel Coconut Macadamia Nut ice cream at Lappert's Ice Cream.  Ms. Z has decided that she doesn't like convertables ("Too windy!  I no like it!"), but thinks the beach is a good deal ("Want to go in the water!") and is starting to get used to her new flip flops. 
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Images of Kauai -- July 4, 2009

| 3 Comments

http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090704_KauaiSunrise.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090704_CottageHammock.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090704_AniniBeach.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090704_KilaueaLighthouse.jpg
http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/knitblog/images2009/jul/20090704_CottagePlumeria.jpg

(click images for bigger)
top left: sunrise over Anini Beach, top center: cottage hammock, top left: Anini Beach, bottom left: Kilauea Lighthouse, bottom center: plumeria blooms

We've been in Kauai for less than a day, and we're now settled into our lovely beach house on the west end of Anini Beach. The house is simple, but the view is to die for, since the panoramic windows on the front of the house give you a spectacular view of the water. After being woken up just before 6 AM to the sound of crowing roosters (if you are on Kauai for any length of time, you will encounter these loquacious fellows)  we headed down to the beach to enjoy the sunrise (top left picture).  No matter whether I'm in Chicago or Hawaii, I love the early morning when the sun hits the water and turns it into liquid silver.  Ms. Z got her first splash in the Pacific Ocean and my parents and I enjoyed a cup of coffee on the edge of the water (John doesn't like coffee,or he would have been included, too).  There was the briefest of rains and a stunning rainbow over our cottage.  A perfect beginning to our vacation.  I can almost feel the cares of home melting away.

I think I feel some swimming coming on.  Happy 4th of July, everyone!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Aloha for Now

| 6 Comments
Not so much time to write today, as packing and getting ready to travel dominated almost everything I did today.

The next time you hear from me, I will be here:



View Larger Map

We anticipate quite an adventure ahead of us, with 9 hours on airplanes combined with a rambunctious child.  But compared to when we set off without children, we are traveling amazingly light.  Amazing how having to one new person in our lives gets us to be less concerned about the little stuff and more concerned about making sure that we can entertain her on the plane.

The beach house we are renting is situated on the west end of Anini Beach and is sheltered by a lovely reef system which keeps the shore mellow and baby-friendly.  And it's big enough for grandparents to share in the visit.  My mom and dad will be spending some quality time with us on this trip and I can hardly wait for Zosia to have such an extended visit time with them.

Lotus now has pink edgings on both cuffs, but, still needs sleeves sewn in and the edging around the crochet border on the body of the sweater.  She's been tucked into my suitcase and will be what I work on when I get to the island... I just can't imagine trying to focus on that kind of project while on an airplane with a toddler. 

As per usual, we have found a place with a broadband connection, so I hope that I will be able to share some of our vacation photos with you while we are there.

To all in the US, a happy 4th of July weekend to you.  To all others, may you have a lovely weekend to kick off July! 

Made in Pennsylvania

| 3 Comments
20080526_MadeInPennsylvania.jpg
I'm not a very good yarn store tourist these days.  While "a lot of stash" is a relative concept, I feel like I have gotten to a place where I don't need to accumulate at quite as rapid a rate (which is partly why there has been so little spinning in the past year, I think).  As a result, when I travel, I don't spend as much time seeking out yarn stores as I once did.  It's not that I don't enjoy the atmosphere of rooms full of yarn, it's that I have my own room full of yarn that fills up the psychic space that I used to put yarn store visits into.

But when I asked y'all to guess where I was, and so many people mentioned Loop and Rosie's Yarn Cellar (and then I realized that I had actually heard of those stores before) and I realized that I could walk to both of them from my hotel I decided that maybe I had a little space in my stash after all.  Besides, the stunning weather we had in Philly called out for a walk.  And if I hadn't taken a walk, I never would have had a chance to see some of the wonderful neighborhood around Rittenhouse Square.

However, I decided that I could only make yarn acquisitions if there was something special about the yarn that made it hard to find near my own home.  I thought that would limit my purchasing opportunities.  And it did, but it didn't keep me from bringing home some goodies  from Loop (I enjoyed Rosie's but didn't find anything that reached out and grabbed me).  The yarn on the left is a skein of Black Bunny Fibers Superwash Merino Classic in "Reptile" and the yarn on the right is a skein of Colorful Yarn Superwash Merino sock yarn in "Berry" (the color is just slightly more purple in person, really a stunning deep magenta).  Both yarns are hand dyed in Pennsylvania -- and the Colorful Yarn yarn is spun in Pennsylvania as well.  (The book is Socks from the Toe Up: Essential Techniques and Patterns from Wendy Knits -- which I can get anywhere, but thought it would be nice to support a yarn store with the purchase).

Nice mementos of a business trip!  Certainly beats all the post-it notes and pens that were my other options...

Where Am I?

| 24 Comments
A few views from my hotel:

20090517_WhereAmI3.jpg
20090517_WhereAmI2.jpg

20090517_WhereAmI1.jpgI'm traveling on business to a scientific meeting/trade show.  I doubt there will be much time for the visiting of fibery locations, but I might be able to take in a couple of historic landmarks. Any idea where I am?

Wrapping Up Boston

| 11 Comments
It seems like I turn around and another week is gone.  I've been meaning to sit down and post for quite a while, but with one thing and another, it hasn't happened.  My husband marked another year on the calendar (happy birthday, sweetheart!), Ms Z had her first overnight away from home and parents this week (she was with her Babcia while John and I celebrated his birthday a la Belgian beer without having to worry about when we had to get home) and at work I am settling in with a new boss (I've now watched several leadership changes where I work, so the transition doesn't seem quite as traumatic as it might have at another time).  So it's all good, but this biologist is busy, and not getting a whole lot of non-work related computer time.

20080612_BostonDucks.jpgBoston is always one of those places I like to visit.  It's filled with history and roads that don't necessarily go where you think they will.  It's got crazy drivers (they make Chicago drivers look like they are out for a Sunday stroll) and beautiful landscape.  It's got good shopping and great eating (as far as I am concerned, no meal that involves fresh oysters on the half shell can be too bad) and some beautiful spaces.  The picture above was taken in one of them.

Thanks to some very helpful commenters, I learned that "Make Way for Ducklings" (a book I knew about but had never actually read)  was centered in the Boston Public Gardens.  And with the help of the most fabulous Claudia (who gave me a great tour of the area near the Boston Commons and the gardens) I not only found a copy of the book for Ms. Z, I also got to see the famous bronze statues of Mrs. Mallard and her celebrated ducklings. To commemorate the trip for both me and Z, Claudia took a picture of me with Mrs. Mallard -- I'm going to print out a copy of the picture and put it in the front leaf of the book, so Z will have a small set of books that are part of her mother's travelogue.  And if I go back to Boston, I still have some good book options -- I found out later when Claudia and I went into an old cemetery not too far from the garden, Mother Goose also hails from the Boston area (and is buried in that cemetery), so if I get back that way while Z is young, I know what book I will be looking for next.

I also got to come home with my own heart warming Boston story.  On Wednesday evening after I had dropped off all my booth shipping information to the shipping company, I went outside the convention center to wait for a good friend from when I was doing my post-doc.  She pulled up and while I was putting my suitcases in the back of her car my iPhone decided to make a run for it.  It was a little rainy and rather cold and a bit noisy and I didn't notice it's unfortunate bid for freedom until we got to Burlington for dinner.  After searching my friend's car it was clear that the phone was gone.  Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.  Borrowing my friend's phone, I called John.

The call went something like this:

Me:  Guess what?

John: You lost your iPhone?

Me: <surprised> How did you know that?

John: The person who found it called me at the same time as you did... I'm going to merge the calls...

As it turned out, not too long after we pulled away from the convention center, a gentleman on a bike with a penchant for electronics noticed my iPhone's bid for freedom.  He stopped, surprised to see it in the street and nearly getting run over himself, retrieved the phone.  He took it home and there he and his wife turned it on, saw the picture of Ms Z on it that is my wallpaper and decided that the phone must belong to the mother of a cute baby and that it needed to find it's way home.  They figured out where my recent call list was, saw that John had been called more than anyone else, and called that number to find out if he knew anything about me or my phone.  And just at that time, I called John as well.  The gentleman who found the phone agreed to leave it at a hotel near the convention center where I could pick it up.  With Claudia's help I retrieved the phone the next morning.  I never got to meet either of the people who helped my phone come back to me, but they did leave me a nice message telling me that they had once lost a phone and never gotten it back and they knew how frustrating that was and wanted to make sure my phone got back into the right hands.

These people deserve much good karma to be sent in their direction.

Needless to say, I am still sort of in shock (in a good way) that my phone came back to me.  I know most people do the right thing given the opportunity, but I guess I just don't expect it to happen when it comes to me.  One of the other things I have been doing this week is finding some Chicago things to send back to them to say thank you for going out of their way to help me out. I settled on a pound of Intelligentsia coffee and my favorite variety of Vosges chocolate bar and a gift card.  Z and I are going to head off to the post office after her afternoon nap to see these goodies on their way.

Tonight I start my first color theory class at Quiltology (I am so excited about this I can hardly sit still) and then we're off to Ann Arbor this weekend to celebrate Father's Day with my dad.  I wish all of you a most wonderful weekend full of family warmth.

Plushies

| 15 Comments
20080602_PlushMicrobe.jpg
So far, this is what I have to bring home to Ms. Z -- a plush E. coli bacteria toy (E. coli is a bacteria that likes to live in the human gut; it's also a work horse bug for molecular biology studies).

Thanks to everyone who left me such great suggestions.  I brought a journal along to make entries to Z about my trip and I am definitely going to try to find "Make Way for Ducklings" since I love the idea of bringing back books from interesting places. 

My first night away from Z was a mixed bag.  I did okay until I had to go to sleep and then, for the life of me, I couldn't get to sleep.  So, finally, I just got up and worked on a sock I'm knitting since lying in bed feeling frustrated with not sleeping didn't seem to be all that great an option. I still don't know if it was strange missing the baby vibes, circadian rhythm issues or I just wasn't coping well with my new location. Every now and again the same thing happens while I'm at home -- though I haven't had an episode like that one since well before Z was born.  I'm hoping tonight I don't get a repeat performance.  A good night of sleep would do me a world of good right now.

First Trip Away from Ms. Z

| 15 Comments
Well, the time has come.  Next week I'm going to be spending most of the week in Boston, like a lot of other people associated with the microbiology world, taking in the big ASM meeting.  (Well, I won't be taking much of it in, I will be hanging out in a booth on the trade show floor, but you get the idea).  And for the first time ever I'll be apart from the baby -- she came with me to Toronto for last years meeting.  On one hand, I'm excited.  On the other hand, I know I'm going to miss her terribly, especially at the end of the day when I don't get greeted by that big fabulous happy smile when I come home from work. 

Since I'll likely travel a fair number of times for my job during her childhood, I want to start a tradition of bringing a little something special back for her.  This will give me a Z-related mission that makes me feel like I am doing a little something sweet for her and I hope that it will give her a reason, especially as she gets older, to not feel bad about my going away. Not something large, just something small, easy to collect and transport, tough enough to withstand the love/appreciation of a child.  I'm also going to try to work on a pair of socks for her.  I have Cat Bordhi's most recent sock book and some lettered stitch markers from JLYarnworks all ready to go -- and I love her idea of making baby sized test socks in order to try out her general sock forms from the book.   Z hardly needs socks with warm weather approaching, but making things for her makes me happy and makes me feel close to her even if she is too young to understand of know. 

20080531_BookAndMarkers.jpg
Any of  you travelling moms have suggestions for how to make the time away from the baby easier? 

Friday Eye Candy

| 3 Comments
20080404_FloridaBeachBirds.jpg

This picture was taken the Friday before we came home from Florida.  John and I were walking along the beach with a sleeping baby in a Baby Bjorn.  The weather was perfect and the sun was just going down. These seabirds were enjoying the shore, looking for dinner.  A nice memory of another Friday.  And while I can't put my finger on why, I just love the bird on the right who is facing the camera while all the rest face into the wind.

Do I miss the beach, or what?  At least yesterday morning I got to sit with my coffee, my new iPhone (playing a podcast) and my second Fiesta Foot enjoying the sunshine with a short sleeved shirt.  Maybe Spring is finally beginning to show itself here in Chicago.

Fiesta Feet at the Beach

| 8 Comments

20080309_LastStitchesOnMarc.jpgFor this vacation, I did something remarkable.  I got all the things I needed for the vacation in my single suitcase (which is small enough to be carry on when I am on a business trip) and a tote bag.  I limited myself to one book to read (never touched it), one book of Sudoku puzzles (did a few) and one knitting project (made many stitches).  On the way back, there was still a little room in all of our suitcases.  I consider it an ironic victory that we were able to travel lighter with a baby than when we travel on our own.  Maybe just knowing that we weren't going to be going out any place fancy with a 7 month old in tow was the key.  Who needs fancy shoes or clothes that have to live on hangers when you have to find a restaurant that is tolerant of a small child spreading saltine cracker shards everywhere?

Ms. Z did travel very well and I think we were impressed with both her and ourselves when it came to our airplane trip.   My best advice for traveling with a baby?  1) Pack some juice.  And then take twice as much as you think you need.  Take offs and landings can take longer than you think they will and liquids are the perfect way to make a baby swallow so they can handle the pressure changes.  2) Toys. Lots of them.  Sacrifice your own potential entertainment for that of the kid.  As we learned, you might get lucky and get a short nap, or you might get an active baby. An active baby means that you won't be reading that third book you brought (or knitting) anyway.

By limiting my own entertainment options, I actually made my vacation better.  One sock project is easy to schlep around without feeling over loaded.  My usual regimen finds me with much more day-to-day luggage because I worry that I won't feel like working on any given project.  This time, I just had one project to focus on, and, as a result, I got quite a bit accomplished.  Nap time when you are on vacation is just pure bliss time to do whatever you want, even if you can't leave the condo.


20080309_PartialFiestaFoot.jpg
If I was only going to take one project along, I decided it was going to be a good one.  I bought my Fiesta Feet sock pattern and Soft Touch yarn from the folks at Shelridge Farm at my first MS&W.   Looking back, I'm not sure what I was thinking because while I have always been intrigued by color work knitting, I had relatively little interest in doing it.  And when I got the pattern home, I remember looking it over, thinking it looked too complicated (without really reading it over very well) and putting everything into my stash. 

With the start of the color work projects for Z, I got to thinking about what was in my pattern library that might be fun for me, and remembered this pattern.  This time, when I looked over the pattern, I realized that it's no where near as complicated as it looks.  In fact, until you get past turning the heel, all of the knitting is done using either one or the other color.  Once you get past the heel, every other row is a single color, and the two color rows are straightforward, easy to memorize.  In fact, I'd argue that this is a very nice project to "learn" two color knitting on.  And all the different techniques in the cuff and leg of the sock make it impossible for you to get bored. 

I'll talk about those different sections in my next post -- this sock really comes to life under a macro lens!

Last Day in Toronto

| 17 Comments

I can hardly believe that I'm settling in for my last night in Toronto. Where did the week go? I got to spend my night in an exceptionally fun way, though.

20070523_LettuceKnit.jpg
SnB at Lettuce Knit

With almost perfect weather, I got to enjoy a final fabulous evening in the company of a very friendly group of knitters at a beautiful little yarn store, Lettuce Knit. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming and it's hard to imagine a better way to spend an evening in a new city. I enjoyed seeing Rachel H and Stephanie again (Rachel made sure I got a nice walking tour down to Lettuce Knit and I got to hold Stephanie's current sock) and I got to meet Amy for the first time as well as Michelle and more lovely Toronto knitters than you can shake a stick at. As always, I have to apologize for my terrible memory for names -- but it really was a pleasure to spend a few hours knitting with such a nice group of folks, and I do hope that I get the chance to come back someday and do it again.

Of course, a little bit of shopping was done... but discussion of that will have to wait until I have good light to take pictures in.

First Views of Toronto

| 28 Comments
20070520_CNTowerFromHIC.jpg
CN Tower from the 14th Floor of the InterContinental Hotel Toronto Centre

You have to love a conference package that comes with free high speed wireless internet access -- and the claim is actually true. I've been in Toronto now for about 4 hours and from where we are staying the views are lovely.

20070520_LakeOntariofromHIC.jpg
A View of Lake Ontario from the Hotel

And the hotel room isn't all that bad, either. Now I just need to figure out where some good restaurants are (as opposed to the touristy near by to the hotels restaurants) that really give some flavor to Toronto. Clearly a city that's this lovely must have some good places to eat.

Given that the troops are still gathering for our meeting (it is just a hoot to me to see signs saying "Toronto Welcomes the American Society of Microbiologists" -- who would have thought that any place would be excited about having a bunch of people who study viruses, bacteria and fungi running around?), this night is likely to be a good one to relax in my hotel room. So I think I'm going to dig into this:

20070520_BootieMaterials.jpg
Bootie Making Materials: Rowan Wool Cotton, Cotton Glace, and 4 Ply Cotton

There are so many cute patterns in Zoe Mellor's book and too many lovely baby girl friendly colors to choose from in cotton and cotton blends. I've always wanted to try out Rowan's cotton-based yarns without making a commitment to a big project in case I didn't enjoy the experience of knitting with them. Babies need lots of booties, right?

And one last picture before I sign off. I just could resist getting a snap of this sign just past the security check point in Terminal One at O'hare.

20070520_OhareStarbucks.jpg
Be Careful Choosing Your Starbucks

I don't know which is funnier... the concern that people might choose the wrong Starbucks and not have the option of getting their tall skim mocha lattes or that the "drip only" Starbucks and the restrooms seem to be in the same place...

Toronto Bound

| 27 Comments

The annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) is going to be in Toronto the week of May 21st. My company is going to be there to market our wares on the trade show floor and (assuming my doctor clears me for travel) I'm going to be there from Sunday evening (May 20th )until Thursday morning (May 24th).

This will be my very first vist to Toronto. We're staying downtown at the InterContinental Toronto Centre and I'd love to have some recommendations for "must sees" in down town Toronto. I'm hoping that the famous Lettuce Knit isn't too far away -- I'd really like to see it and find out what makes it so special to Toronto knitters. But I'm interested in finding out about other places that make Toronto special. And if you have a favorite restaurant, please share it! I always love to know about good places to eat.

I understand that May 21st is Victoria Day in Canada. Are there good things to see? Events to take in? We'll be setting up our booth that day, but, otherwise, I'm expecting to have some free time. I'd love to know more about the holiday and how Canadians usually celebrate it.

Finally, while I hope I don't need it, can anyone recommend good hospitals downtown in Toronto? As I mentioned earlier, I'm not going to leave Chicago unless my doctor tells me everything looks good, but I figure better to be safe than sorry and be prepared with a phone number or address or two.

I don't know yet how much scheduled free time I'm going to have (that's the hard part about being there on business... the whole point is to schmooze potential customers, meet with strategic partners and find out about new technology) but I'm hoping I have time for a couple of coffee breaks and that I might have a chance to meet some of the folks in the Toronto fiber community.

Time on a Jet Plane

| 8 Comments

I was supposed to have a post for you today. I even have a good picture and everything. But my plane didn't get into Missoula, MT until almost 1 PM mountain time and it took an hour to get to the hotel.

I can tell you one thing, though. Even in the dark, under a layer of snow, Montana's the Bitterroot Valley is beautiful. And the drive from Missoula to Hamilton on 93 is quite lovely done by moonlight.

I hope to get a few pictures today (I'm here on business so I probably won't have too many opportunities to sight see until tomorrow) so that I can give you an idea of what the place is like. This is definitely one of those un-sung beautiful places that you don't hear about too often.

I've also got a special -- fiber related -- side trip planned before I head home. Can any of you guess where I might be planning to spend some of my afternoon tomorrow?

Last Day on Kauai

| 4 Comments

Today is our last full day on the island... I was going to work on pictures (there are definitely a few more for the gallery) but instead I am just going to soak in the last of the lovely island weather and feelings before we have to pack up and head home. Unlike some vacations I've been on, I always find it difficult to leave Hawaii. There is something undefinably special about this place.

And it's been such a great trip... canyon hikes, beach strolls, dramatic sunsets, snorkeling that included several up-close interludes with some wonderful green sea turtles, some excellent Mai Tais in Po'ipu, out door showers, beautiful gardens and natural spaces, incredible surf, and a doors-off helicopter ride that put the whole island in perspective.

Would I come back to Kauai again?

In a heartbeat.

Would that I didn't have to have a job and that I could travel anywhere when I wanted to.

Even then, I am sure I would find myself spending much time on the Hawaiian Islands.

The next post will likely be in a couple of days when I am back in Chicago. Dealing with much less hospitable weather. Until then, Aloha!

P.S. I seem to be having some email problems right at the moment, so if you left me a comment or sent me some other email to one of my keyboardbiologist.net accounts, I probably won't be able to answer until I get back to Chicago. Not sure why I am having this problem, probably some strange quirk of the internet that will repair itself when I get back into my home territory.

Hawaiian Earthquake

| 18 Comments

Yes, we did feel the earthquake this morning. It woke us up right after 7 AM with some mild shaking, though nothing strong enough to cause anything to fall off tables or shelves. Everything was relatively gentle here in Kauai, and, to my knowledge, we also never lost power.

However, Hawai'i Island (the Big Island) -- the Island that made us first fall in love with Hawaii in the first place (we went there before I started blogging) -- has had a much worse time of it. Please keep the people on that island in your thoughts today. So far no casualties have been recorded, but much damage has been done, and the residents of that island will have much to deal with in the next coming days.

At the same time, residents of O'ahu and Maui have been without power most of today. And O'ahu is dealing with the heavy rain downpour that we had on Kaua'i yesterday. A tough day on the Hawaiian Islands. I think the governor of Hawaii has declared a statewide state of emergency.

Here on Kauai, we have nothing to complain about other than grey skies (we did get some sun in the morning) and some mild afternoon rain. We're about to head to the beach to see how all the earth motion has affected the surf.

Mellow weather and geological activity to you all.

Kaua'i, Day Eight: Limahuli Gardens

| 1 Comment

Our next adventure on Kaua'i was to head to the Limahuli Garden. This garden, like the Allerton Gardens, is a part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. It's located after mile marker 9 on Highway 560, the road that hugs the coast leading out from Princeville. The Limahuli Garden is located in the beautiful Limahuli Valley which used to be home to many native Hawaiians. The garden is now a focal point for preserving Kaua'i and Hawai'i's native plants.

As such, it is not really what you think of when you think of a traditional botanic garden. The focus here is not really about providing you with a stunning year round display of flowering plants, but instead to preserve and educate about the native plants of the islands. Most of these plants are not showy flowering plants, instead tending towards mostly being leafy green foliage. The garden also points out invasive species. Both of these kinds of displays are focused around educating people about the ecology and botanical diversity of the island and how to preserve it. While the garden displays are quite beautiful and the views are stunning, it has a diffierent kind of feeling than you might expect.

I did take a lot of pictures, but after taking a tour of the website for the garden, I discovered that they have a virtual version of the same self-guided tour that we took. That tour includes pictures -- good pictures. Instead of trying to repeat the excellent job that they have already done, I thought I would just provide the link to the virtual tour and encourage you all to take virtual trip through their gardens. It's not the same as physically walking the garden, but the text is exactly the same as what we received for the self-guided tour.

Of course, I do have a few pictures of my own -- these are mostly just the pictures that made me happy as we wandered through the garden and hopefully add to the flavor of the garden that you get by going through the virtual tour.. You can click here to go to the starting point in my Kaua'i gallery for the garden walk.

You might have taken note of the fact that many of my pictures have grey and overcast skies. From this, you might get the impression that Kauai is always grey and overcast. This really isn't the case. While we have been here, it has almost uniformly been beautiful and sunny in the morning moving towards cloudiness with patchy sunshine in the afternoon. John and I just don't tend to get out very early, so most of our pictures have that cloudy afternoon thing going. I think this is just part of how the Hawaiian winter shows itself on Kauai (yes, October is considered to be the start of winter here) and goes hand in hand with the beatiful heavy surf that brings the surf boards to the beaches in droves. It is still between 70 and 80 degrees and the sights are still lovely. And given the current weather in Chicago (snow, already!) it's hard to complain about a few grey skies. After all, waterfalls and lush plants both require a goodly amount of rain.

Most of there rest of our afternoon was spent at Ha'ena Beach and Ke'e Beach (the beach at the end of Highway 560 which I previously posted sunset shots from). While we had a late afternoon snack on Ha'ena Beach, I took this short movie of one of those waves that was drawing surfers out of the woodwork all around us.

No new pictures from Ke'e, unfortunately. Once again we went there to snorkel, and the camera stayed safely locked in the car.

There's just something about the place we rented for the second week of our stay. 100 Shades of Green is a two level house in the upcountry between Hanalei and Ha'ena. When we first walked into it, I got that feeling about it that just made me feel like we had come home. It's decorated with all sorts of fun objets d'art and walking through the place, you just get the sense that many happy memories have been created here. It has a good aura, if you'll forgive a little bit of new agey-ness from me.

On the seventh day of the trip, we didn't do very much. We enjoyed the house, took a trip out to see Tunnels Beach (I didn't take any photos because we were planning to snorkel and I didn't want to leave my camera unattended on the beach). Then we came home, relaxed and got ready for a relaxing dinner at a restaurant at the Princeville Hotel. We had dinner while watching the sun go down over Hanalei Bay.

20061014_HanaleiBay.jpg
Sunset Over Hanalei Bay from the Princeville Hotel

A lovely way to end the day -- and dinner was quite good, too.

Princeville, however, struck us as very strange. It was as if someone had taken a gated community from an upscale Houston suburb (yes, I know what these look like, I've been to Houston a number of times) and dropped it down on a tropical cliff overlook. It just seems completely out of place in Kaua'i, an island with a very down-to-earth and natural feel. Not a place where you need to worry about feeling unsafe, or where you would want to trade the beautiful tropical landscape for golf-course manicured lawns and exactly placed palm trees. But to each their own, I guess. Clearly it is the comfort zone that a large number of people desire.

It's all about the beaches today. This was the day that John and I drove from our south side beach house at Kekaha Beach to our north side, upcountry house.

I realize now that I never showed you any pictures of the actual places we stayed. You can see Hale Moana here. Yes, it was a little decadent. Yes, we did love it. Yes, outdoor showers rock. Our north shore home away from home, 100 Shades of Green, is just as wonderful. I wish I could show you the stars from that hot tub on the deck or let you smell the ginger.

We started our drive up highway 50 to the main entry place for Kekaha Beach Park. (The link will take you to the images in my gallery). Kekaha Beach was the closest beach to us for the first week, and had beatiful golden sands and high surf. You definitely could go in, but you had to be careful with the waves and the currents.

After a brief stop at Kekaha Beach, we drove to the end of highway 50 (past the Pacific Missile Range Facility) and down several miles of bumpy dirt road to Polihale State Park (again, the link takes you to the beginning of these pictures in my gallery). Polihale Beach is on the true west side of the island and marks the start of the south end of the Na Pali coast (one of Kaua'i's most famous features). The surf here was absolutely amazing. It started out fairly sunny when we got there, but got increasingly overcast as the afternoon wore on (which seems to be the trend for Kaua'i in October). The beach was fairly empty and it definitely wasn't what I would have consdered swimmable, but it was beautiful and definitely worth the trip. And I did get a couple of videos from the beach:

Big Waves at Polihale:

Surfer at Polihale:

Kite Boarder at Polihale:

After that it was time to move our stuff from Kekaha to west of Hanalei on the north side of Kaua'i. The change in the scenery is amazing, as you move from somewhat dry and rather red to exceptionally lush and green. It's worth driving from one end of the highway to the other, just to observe the changes (and unlike the Road to Hana on Maui, the whole trip will probably take you less than 3 hours and is not that aggressive). While we waited for our new digs to become available, we headed down to Ke'e Beach (yes, the link takes you to my gallery, with a brief detour near Princeville) for the sunset. Ke'e Beach is literally as far as you can go on Highway 560, 10 miles past it's start point at Princeville. It's a beautiful beach, and you can take a swim as you watch the sun go down. And in case you wanted to know what watching the sun go down at Ke'e Beach is like, I have one last video from the day to share:

Sunset at Ke'e Beach:

(The "big bad boys" I am referring to at the end of the video are the waves... unfortunately there were no buff men on the beach besides my favorite guy...)

Kaua'i, Day Five: Waimea Canyon Trail

| 5 Comments

I had to pause a little while we travelled from the south side to the north side of the island and get settled in. There were lots of pictures from our 5th day, so I got a bit lazy about sorting through them and preparing them for the gallery. The great thing about digital cameras is that you can never really run out of film. The bad thing is that you need to spend more time selecting and processing the best images for viewing. There's something about the north side of Kauai that downshifts everything a few gears and just makes you want to take everything a little more slowly.

Our fifth day in Kauai took us back into the Waimea Canyon for some dayhiking. For this trip, we started at Hale Manu Road, just inside Koke'e State Park, walked on to the Black Pipe Trail, Canyon Trail and Cliff Trail before returning to Hale Manu Rd and our car. (You can click here if you would like to see a PDF containing a trail map for the park.) This was a nice loop, and it gave us some lovely views of the canyon, it's foliage and the Waipo'a Falls.

The day was very overcast, which will become clear in the pictures. For hiking, however, this was not necessarily a bad thing, as it kept us cooler and made the hiking more comfortable, and didn't really change the inherent beauty of the canyon.

There are so many trails and hikes that could be done in Waimea Canyon. If we had been staying on the south side of the island for our entire trip, it would have been tempting to spend most of our time there, taking in the views and watching the clouds roll in and out. It really is a remarkable and special place, I could have sat on the Canyon Trail ridge for hours just watching the view change.

There will be a few videos that I upload later, but for now, you can see the pictures we took by going to this point in my gallery.

Finally, a short video of Waimea Canyon from the Canyon Trail overlook:

Kaua'i, Day Four: Spouting Horn

| 3 Comments

Our fourth day on Kaua'i was given mostly to water sports that weren't camera friendly -- i.e. snorkeling. I don't have a waterproof camera, and even if I did, I don't have one of those cool filters that allows you to filter out the blue wavelengths. You'll just have to trust me when I say we saw some lovely fish around the Po'ipu Beach tombolo.

We did make a short excursion out to Spouting Horn -- a lava shelf over the south shore where there are blow holes. These blow holes act almost like geysers, sending fountains of water up in the air. Because these things are more impressive in moving than in still pictures, I took another video to help us capture the memory:

I also did get a few pictures of the shore line around Spouting Horn and of the Po'ipo Beach tombolo. You can find them starting at this point in my gallery.

The Hawaiian Islands are a remarkable place to grow all sorts of plants. In fact, because of the climate, it essentially is a greenhouse without the glass windows. Orchids can grow "in the wild" on trees with no additional maintenance. Flowering plants from all over the world are in great abundance. In fact, this raises something of a problem, because it is very easy to introduce non-native species whose vigorous behavior can overwhelm the native plants. The same is true of animals as well. Many of Kaua'i's animals (and this is also true of the other Hawaiian Islands) did not develop in a predator-filled environment, and thus, don't have the ability to protect themselves from introduced species.

It's one of the cool things that happens from having a blog, but my trip from Kauai inspired an email from Pauline, who is part of the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project where she is specifically working on helping to preserve the Puaiohi -- a bird with only 200-600 individuals left in the wild.

She wrote the following in her email to me, and I thought I would share it:

if you ever give any money towards conservation of biodiversity in the U.S., please consider supporting Hawaii (the nature conservancy does great stuff, and they're not my employer). Hawaii has something like 2/3 of the endangered species in the U.S., but gets very little money and has low visibility. The bird which I mostly focus on, the Puaiohi, has only 200-600 individuals left, but gets less than $200k in funding per year - compare that to gray wolves or whooping cranes or anything on the mainland U.S.

Even if you never contribute any money to this kind of cause (and I am not soliciting donations here) I think it's important to know about the ecological problems that face the US and other countries. While I knew Hawaii was a fragile place, I never realized how fragile some species are. It's a good reminder to treat every place you go with as much respect as possible and to do your part to take good care of the wild places that might be home to some animal that desperately needs that place to stay wild to survive.

It's probably the ultimate irony that I would talk about native species conservation in the same post as when I talk about our trip to the Allerton Gardens, which are part of the the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. It is a truly spectacular garden, but almost all of the plants are imports from other tropical locations. It was a space the transformation of which started with Queen Emma and progressed with the Allerton family (the Allertons founded the First National Bank of Chicago). So today's new gallery entries are from our guided tour of the Allerton Garden. Flowers a plenty ahead! (Apologies in advance for not remembering most of their common or scientific names... I didn't have a notepad with me to write things down with). And if you want to start at the beginning, you can enter the gallery here.

20061009_05_AllertonOverloo.jpg
Overlooking Allerton Garden

Our second day of exploring Kaua'i was spent on the north end of Waimea Canyon Road in the Koke'e State Park. Koke'e has a whole collection of wonderful trails and some beautiful views of the Kalalau Valley looking out to the Pacfic Ocean.

To see some of our images from the day, here's the link to the starting point in my Kauai photo gallery.

In addition to photos, there are also a few short videos from the day, taken after I remembered that my little camera also takes very nice movies and that I could upload them all to YouTube and not take up my own disk storage space with them.

The first movie is a short movie showing the moving clouds over the western edge of the Kalalau Valley, taken from Pu'u O Kila Overlook.

The second movie is our encounter with a Nene, a native Hawaiian goose, taken at the entrane to Koke'e State Park on our way back down from the overlook.

And, in case you were concerned, John is not feeding the goose, nor did we ever attempt to touch the animal or be aggressive towards it in any way. He simply is gesturing with some grass to get it's attention.

If you want to see these videos in the context of the rest of the day's photos, I have also linked to them, where appropriate, in my photo gallery.

And if you just want to keep track of what I am uploading at YouTube, here is a direct link to my YouTube Channel

You might think, when visiting an island, that your first adventures would involve surf and sand. Instead, we headed inland (or mauka which is toward the mountain in Hawaiian) and took a look at the Waimea Canyon. Waimea Canyon is a specatular canyon north of Kekaha were we are staying that Mark Twain once dubbed "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific" and it really is just that stunning.

20061006_14_CanyonOverlookW.jpg
Waimea Canyon from the Waimea Canyon Overlook

This picture that I took in widescreen is one of my favorites from the day. Shrunk down to blog-acceptable size, it hardly does the scenery justice. But I hope it does convey some of the majesty of this work of nature. From what I understand, that canyon was formed by a combination of repeated volcanic eruptions and lava flows, several rivers and general water run off. At its tallest point, it's about 3-4000 feet.

What makes Kauai so truly stunning to me so far is how it is like stepping forward into geological time.

The first Hawaiian island that we visited was Hawai'i -- "the Big Island". This island is still incredibly volcanically active and still growing in size. You can see lava flows and erupting volcanos. Mauna Kea, considered dormant, is over 14,000 feet tall. The western side of the island looks almost like a lunar landscape, where the most recent flows have occured, while the eastern side of the island, which gets much more rain, is more green and lush, but still rocky and jagged.

Last year we visited Maui. Maui is just north and west of the Big Island. None of its volcanoes are considered active any more, but you can drive to the top of Haleakala and once again, you are 13-14,000 feet above sea level looking down onto a barren rocky landscape. The north side of the island is lush and green, and you see occasional places where the jagged lava rocks peek out, but mostly the north side of the island doesn't give the impression of being volcanic. The south side of the island is dry, and as you drive around the southern base of Haleakala you can see evidence of old lava flows, but you are also struck by the small plants and trees that are taking hold. Even without too much rain, biology is taking over from geology. Maui gives the impression of being more careworn than the Big Island. And this is most clearly in evidence when you drive around the mountain that is the main structure of the north western half of the island. The volcanic activity is long gone, and what you find is water and plants breaking down the rock and smoothing out and flattening the surfaces.

Looking at Kaua'i is like fast-forwarding into time again (John and I haven't been to O'ahu, but I suspect if we did go, we would see another intermediate phase in geological evolution). Kaua'i has long since been separated from the hot spot in the floor of the Pacific Ocean that resulted in this incredible island chain. There are no 14,000 foot peaks on Kaua'i. While it is warmer on the south and western portions of the island, the entire place is surprisingly green and rich, hard volcanic edges softened by time. Kaua'i is firmly in the process of being reclaimed by the ocean that it arose from.

After going up Waimea Canyon Road to the Waimea Canyon Lookout, we drove back down the road to the Kukui Trail. The Kukui Trail descends down into the canyon and allows you to see the changes that occur, both geologically and botanically as you go lower into the canyon. It's something of a challenging hike because the elevation changes pretty dramatically in only a mile or so, but we loved the changing views of the canyon and the vegetation. We only went about a mile along the trail because it was late afternoon when we started, and we didn't want to do the return trip in the dark.

I've loaded the day's best pictures into my Kaua'i Gallery. If you've already looked at the first couple of pictures, then you can go here to get to the start of the pictures for today.

I'll be back as soon as time permits. I have more pictures from our trip up the northern part of Waimea Canyon Road, as well as some video. I do so very much love my little camera!

Aloha from Kaua'i

| 12 Comments

Well, after a few weather related issues that I will blog about at some other time, John and I are happily in Kauai. We are staying in a lovely rental home across the street from Kekaha Beach Park. Where in the world is that? Perhaps a little map image would help...


Kaua'i, Hawaii with our Current Location Marked

(Yes, I did just figure out how to include a Google Map on my blog just for this occasion. Why do you ask?

Our first day on the island was fairly uneventful. It included the usual shopping for things we forgot, grocery shopping and trying to find a place to have dinner. Not so many pictures yet, but I did get a gallery started. You can find my Kauai photo gallery here. I'm not as happy as I would like to be with the photo quality -- I think it's because I saved them at 72 dpi. I'll leave them at higher resolution tomorrow and see if that comes out better. I thought the gallery might make it easier for those of you who want to avoid large page loads to do so, at the same time as it makes it easier for me to upload and display a larger number of pictures from our trip. Please feel free to comment or otherwise entertain yourselves with the gallery. It will get much more entertaining soon. Unfortunately, my blogging time is being cut into by the need to finish up a work project. And the sooner I finish that project up, the sooner I can be to the business of some hard core vacationing!

Shopping in Maryland

| 12 Comments

For some reason, I'm having a hard time organizing my thoughts about Maryland.  For me, even though it was only two days, it's really hard to sum up all the people and colors and animals and fiber that were part of the trip.  I love travelling with Julie.  We always end up having a good time together and we're pretty good at rolling with the punches (like doing a U-turn on a bridge going into Baltimore after discovering that 895 only connects to 195 going outbound from the city).  Not only that, but we each tend to be drawn to different things and different colors, so as a result, I think we both see more things than we might otherwise.  And then there's the real joy of getting to see old friends and meet new ones. Claudia, Silvia, Norma, Liz (my CVM enabler), Jen, Cassie, Laurie, Jodi (who gave us some most excellent "KNIT" buttons), RockChick, Cara, Juno (who's Canadian production wheel with purpleheart accents was both beautiful and interesting to spin on), and Rachael (who has an affection for woodworking tools that my father could appreicate) all made the event a special one.  The more of these festivals I go to, the less it becomes about stash acquisition and the more it becomes about enjoying the company of creative and interesting people.

But, of course, there was a good deal of acquiring.  I was more reserved than in previous years, but I still found some special things to come home with. 

20060509_MSWYarn.jpg
The New Yarn Collection: (starting from the top right and going clockwise)
Cormo/Nylon Sock Yarn from Foxhill Farm, Duet Yarn from Brooks Farm, and 2 skeins (a 4 oz and a 5 oz) of Laceweight Merino from Morehouse Merino  

 
I was very moderate with regards to yarn.  In fact, I had originally decided that the only place I was going to buy yarn at was going to be the Morehouse Merino booth.  I can wear their laceweight against my skin, which is relatively rare, and I think their colorways are wonderful for scarves and shawls. I got a 4 ounce and a 5 ounce skein to use in bigger scarf/shawl projects.  I'm particularly taken with the brown/gold colorway, which is from their Monet colorway collection and is called "Grand Canal, Venice".  The smaller skein is either their Blossom or Sugar Plum colorway (it's not labelled and it's not easy to tell from their website).  The Duet (from Brooks Farm) is a Mohair/Fine wool blend.  Since I did use up a skein of Brooks Farm yarn making a scarf for my mom, I figured it was okay if a new skein got added.  Anyone who knows me well, knows my love for the luminous blue.  And this yarn was just too luminous to pass up.    Scarf? Shawl? Pet rock?  Who knows what this skein will become.  But it makes me ever so happy!  The final skein, that plain white skein, is the most incredible cormo/nylon blend sock yarn from Foxhill Farm (one of my absolute favorite places to buy fiber from, as you'll see very soon).  The yarn is probably closer to DK than sock weight, but, no matter, it will still be lucsious on the feet.  Julie got herself a skein, too, and we are thinking that some self-striping sock yarn dyeing may be in order for this lovely wool.  If you've never sampled a little cormo, you should treat yourself some time.  In my mind, it's equally as wonderful as nice merino.

 

20060509_MSWWool.jpg
The Spinning Fiber Haul, Part I: Wool
(starting from the top right)
Undyed 100% Cormo Top from Foxhill Farm, 2 bags of Hand Dyed Cormo/Silk blend Top from Foxhill Farm, Hand Dyed Cormo/Silk/Alpaca Blend top from Winterhaven Fiber Farm and Cochineal and Madder Dyed Corriedale from Handspun by Stefania.

 

My spinning fiber purchases can be divided into 2 categories: wool based blends and silk based blends.  Most of the wool based blends contained Cormo.  Did I mention that I like Cormo?  Our first stop at the festival on Saturday morning was the Cormo Association, where Alice Field of Foxhill Farm was selling some of her incredible fiber.  Alice, in addition to being a treat to talk to, has spectacular Cormo wool.  In fact, one of her fleeces took Reserve Grand Champion for the entire show, in addition to winning in a number of other categories.  Her Cormo/silk blends that I took home last year were so wonderful that I knew I needed to have more this year, in addition to just some straight up Cormo (I'm curious to see how the silk changes the spinning of this fiber).  In keeping with both my blue and cormo obsessions, the soft blue balls of fiber come from Winterhaven Fiber Farm of Indiana.  If cormo and silk is good, then cormo silk and alpaca should be a real treat.  Finally, that beautiful deep red/burgundy roving is Corriedale dyed with cochineal and madder by Handspun by Stefania. While Corriedale isn't quite as soft as Cormo, I think it's just a blast to spin since it has so much loft and spring to it.
   

 

20060509_MSWSilk.jpg
The Spinning Fiber Haul, Part II: Silk
(starting from the top right)
Two Sets of Dyed Bombyx Silk Hankies from Spinner's Hill, Dyed Tussah Silk Top from Shadeyside Farm in "Breeze" and an unnamed colorway, and 2 ounces of a Silk/Brown Cashmere Top from Shadeyside Farm

 

If you hang around with Julie and I long enough, you learn two things.  She has an incredible radar for alpaca and I will almost always put my hands on anything containing silk.  Maybe it's the brilliant luster, or the soft hand, but silk is one of my absolute favorite fibers.  I've been very curious about spinning with silk, so I decided some more top and some hankies were in order.  The hankies (left in their protective zip loc bags come from Spinner's Hill (they have some incredible hand dyed top and roving, their colors are just to die for, if you'll forgive the pun).  The silk top came from Shadeyside Farm in New York.  By now, it probably shouldn't be surprising that my colorway selections leaned towards the blue and of the spectrum.  The top is delightful to the touch and drafts very effortlessly, so I am hoping that I will enjoy working with this fiber on my wheel.  The last little treat, that really doesn't come across as beautiful as it is is the 2 ounces of Silk/Brown cashmere top.  This is a 50/50 blend and is the sort of thing you'd like to fill up a bathtub with and just dive into.   There really just aren't enough superlatives to describe this stuff.   It will take me a little while to get up the courage to spin it, I think!

And speaking of spinning... I did try out some wheels from Robin Wheels, Golding Wheels and the Merlin Tree.  By doing this, I learned that when you spin at a fiber festival, you will draw a crowd.  Everytime I Julie or I sat down in front of a wheel, people started to gather.  The Golding wheel was lovely to spin on, it seemed to almost treadle itself, but I had a hard time getting a good rhythm going with the Robin and Merlin wheels, though I thought the Robin wheel was absolutely beautiful.  We also got to spin on a wheel fitted out with a Woolee Winder, which I really liked the feel of.  Can you say "possible anniversary present"?  Hopefully John will.  Such a clever device.  Clearly we need more engineers to think about spinning wheels.

Whew!  That was a lot of typing and linking.  Now I'm off to go bond with my wheel.  I really missed my wheel while we were in Maryland.  I can certainly spin on a drop spindle, but I don't enjoy it nearly as much as spinning on my wheel.  A shame she doesn't fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane... 

Maryland Bound

| 7 Comments

This morning Julie and I (after a wonderful KIP with Bonne Marie, Mary Neal, Rachael, Dana, Elizabeth, Mary, Carolyn and Corrine) take wing and head out to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  We're looking forward to the sheep, the fiber and most importantly all the wonderful people in our local and internet community.  If you're there and see me wandering around, don't be afraid to come up and say hello!

Have a great weekend everyone!  I'll be back with stories from the festival on Monday. 

Only On Maui

| 9 Comments

Wednesday is "date night" for John and I. Basically, the first night we met was a Wednesday, and for the first month or so, almost every Wednesday night we saw each other. Wednesday just sort of became the night we were doing something that just involved the two of us. No friends, no family, no work, just the two of us and a nice dinner or a movie or some other activity that we both enjoy. It usually means that I really only have something to blog about if I had something done in advance that needed to be caught up on. Or if I've found something that I think will be generally amusing, even if it has nothing to do with knitting. Tonight, after a lovely dinner at Mirai on Division (our favorite Japanese restaurant) I got a few rows of knitting on John's sock, but decided you might be more amused by something we saw on our last day on Maui.

20051005_FavoriteBumperstic.jpg
Maui Mercedes

This just made me laugh out loud when I saw it. The Mercedes (an older one to be sure) was parked in front of us at Ho'okipa Beach, a world-renowned place for windsurfing (and it is a gorgeous beach in more ways than one -- its a great place to go to watch windsurfers... these guys have awesome abs and shoulders, girlfriends, and make for very nice watching as they set up or take down their equipment on the beach, they're also pretty cool to watch out on the waves). When I lived in the Chicago suburbs and just about every minivan in existance had one of these "My kid is an honor student at..." stickers.

Only on Maui.... and maybe So Cal.... you've got to have your priorities straight!

The Last Pictures

| 3 Comments
20051002_SockBaliBungalow.jpg
The Man Sock Says Good-Bye

We've got about 4 hours left on the island. This morning, I got in a little bit of knitting before we left the gorgeous Bali Bungalow in upcountry Maui (Makaweo). There will be more pictures of this when I get back to Chicago. The sock decided that it wanted to soak in the fresh upcountry air on it's own.

Aloha, folks. You should all come here someday. Your socks will enjoy the island, too!

Rainbows

| 3 Comments

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.

20050930_OheoGulchRainbow.jpg
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.

20050930_PaiaBayRainbow.jpg
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.

The Road to Hana

| 3 Comments

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.
.

20050929_RoadToHana1.jpg
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.

20050929_RoadToHana2.jpg
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.

20050929_RoadToHana3.jpg
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.

20050929_RoadToHana4.jpg

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.

20050929_RoadToHana5.jpg
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!

Lazy Tuesday Afternoon

| 4 Comments

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...

20050927_PaiaBeach.jpg
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....

20050927_SunDownOverPaiaBay.jpg
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.

20050927_SailBorderPaiaA.jpg
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.

Pa'ia Bay

| 7 Comments

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.

20050926_PaiaBayHouseA.jpg
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.

20050926_PaiaBayRoomA.jpg
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!

20050926_PaiaBayHouseViewA.jpg
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.

20050926_PaiaBayHammock.jpg
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.

A Trip Around Northwest Maui, Part 1

| 3 Comments

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.

20050924_NorthKiheiWaileaCo.jpg
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.

20050924_LahainaShore.jpg
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.

20050924_LookingBackAtKaana.jpg
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.

20050924_JasiuTarzanski.jpg
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.

20050924_HonoluaBaySock.jpg
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.

Sunset Over Maui

| 2 Comments

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

20050924_SunsetOverMaui.jpg
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...

Wailea Makena Shore

| 7 Comments
20050923_JohnMustang.jpg
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.

20050923_HaleakalaDry.jpg
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?

20050923_CatchAWave.jpg
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.

20050923_BigBeachWave.jpg
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.

Aloha!

| 6 Comments
20050922_KealiaView.jpg
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?

20050922_KealiaBloggingStat.jpg
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.

Maui Bound

| 15 Comments

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?

Back from San Diego

| 10 Comments

I have a nasty habit of showing up in San Diego during the "June Gloom" component of the year. In other words, I am one of the few people in the entirety of the US that believes that San Diego is not a sunny happy place, but is, instead, a place of grey skies and 65 degree temperatures. (Don't worry San Diegans, I know it's nicer there most of the time, it's just that the beginning of June seems to be particularly bad timing for that part of the world).

Given the cool, grey weather, you'd have thought that I got a lot of knitting done. Um. No. What did I do?

  • Caught up on work-related email
  • Programming for work
  • Took care of a work-customer problem
  • More CivIII than you can shake a stick at
  • Some shopping in La Jolla (I am now the proud owner of a very cool, very sexy, Armani Exchange top). La Jolla is a very nice place to go shopping in, if you like that sort of thing.
  • Toured a Cold War-era Soviet submarine (this was probably the very coolest thing I did, from a geek girl perspective -- there will be a short tour in a subsequent post, since the geek boy travelling with me got some great pictures)
  • Lots of good eating, including, George's on the Cove (La Jolla) and Bella Luna (San Diego)
  • Seeing Huey Lewis and the News in concert (yes, they are getting up there, but they are pretty good in concert and it was a nice flash back to my high school days

Which is not to say I did no knitting related things. I did visit Knitting in La Jolla for a few minutes (not too long, since I had a boy with me and because I just have way too much stash right now as it is). I also finished up one singular sock:

20050607_OpalRodeo1153Sock.jpg
A Rodeo of Opal Colors

I'm pretty much digging this sock with its happy Fiesta of colors (the husband, on the other hand, seemed concerned that this sock might get inflicted on him). I followed Lucy Neatby's process for the short-row garter stitch heel and garter stitch toe. I'll be curious to see how they wear. I was actually quite proud of myself, I actually remembered how to do the toe grafting without having to refer to some book to get it started!

Vacation Ahead

| 5 Comments

Soon I will be winging my way to San Diego. I have a few things that I want to show off, but getting ready to travel is overwhelming my ability to put a good post together.

If you want to see a little bit of what I was up to this weekend, I leave you with this picture...

20050530_DyedHands.jpg
Friends that Dye Together Should Probably Wear Gloves


...and encourage you to click on over to Julie's blog to see her post on our little adventure this weekend.

Feeling Sheepish

| 12 Comments

Most of the time I come back from trips where I get little sleep and lots of activity exhausted. Tonight, I am feeling energized. Who knew that sheep could be the livestock version of caffeine for a city girl like me?

Friday morning, Julie and I got on the Blue Line with our suitcases and a lot of positive energy and headed off to O'hare on our way to see this:

20050508_ColumbiaMaryland.jpg
The Actual View Out of Our Hotel Room Window in Columbia

Maryland is very green and lush compared to Chicago. And while the weather was a bit dodgy in Chicagoland all weekend, it was absolutely perfect in the area around New Friendship, home to the annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. And my second trip to this focal point in the fiber universe was every bit as good as my first. Maybe even better. How could I not have a good time surrounded by Claudia, Silvia, Norma, Stephanie, Wendy, Leigh, Carolyn, Maggie and everyone else I got the chance to meet? I have to admit that I met many more people whose names I just can't remember right at the moment (I've never been good with names, but it seems to get worse in places like MS&W). Some parts of the weekend just became a colorful blur. But perhaps that's no surprise when images like this abound:

20050508_MSWRainbow.jpg
Colorful Curly Locks

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I did a great deal of shopping. There will be more demonstration of me expanding my stash's horizons tomorrow when the light is better for pictures. In the meantime, I'll share my biggest revelation: there are a mindbogglingly amazing number of types of sheep, all of whose breeds I cannot remember. These are just the few that I was able to photograph (not only do I have a difficult time remembering names in Maryland, I also have a hard time remembering to use my camera).


20050508_MSWBlackLamb.jpg
How Now Black Sheep?

20050508_MSWFourSheep.jpg
A Little Herding Instinct
20050508_MSWKarakul.jpg
A Karakul: a Long Wool Sheep used mostly for Carpet

(I have a strange attraction to these sheep. They look soft and lovely to me. In fact, their wool is long and coarse and not so good for anything but carpets. But I still think they are pretty neat.)

20050508_MSWOneCurlyLamp.jpg
Curly Lamb

(I think this may be some kind of Leicester sheep... all that I can remember is thinking she looked like a rasta sheep. Very pretty curly wool with a subtle sheen).

20050508_MSWTwoAdultSheep.jpg
Sheep Settling In

(While looking through my sheep book, I kept seeing references to sheep with "Roman noses". I think these guys probably arewhat they were describing.)

20050508_MSWTwoRedSheep.jpg
Red Rams Resting

This is probably my favorite picture from the whole show. These lovely red rams were definitely getting in some quality nap time.

Which seems like quite a good idea right about now....

Getting Ready for Maryland

| 8 Comments

I'm studying up for my big trip...

If I want to learn to spin, I figure I have to learn more about the medium I'm going to work in. I do wish there were more pictures of actual sheep (as opposed to pictures of just locks of wool), but other than that, the book seems to me to be a good, simple reference guide to types of wool. A nice starting place for a beginner that leaves me wanting to start investigating the different types of wool that come from different types of sheep. A nice place on the web to find out more information on sheepy creatures (scientifically known as Ovis aries) is this lovely directory provided by Oklahoma State University. They have nice pictures of most of the breeds to go with information about breed history and wool characteristics.

Leavin' On A Jet Plane...

| 1 Comment

I was hoping to have something good to post tonight, but the reality is that it's not going to happen if I want to pack, double check my presentation, figure out what I am going to take on the airplane to entertain myself with and deal with a few work-related issues before I head across the ocean for a business meeting. I can't remember a 12 month period in which I have travelled so much. Hopefully it all pays off!

I'll be back Thursday afternoon. See you then!

Well, here we are at the end of the week and at almost the end of my trip. After another three to four hour drive on Tuesday, and an hotel with a very strange 70's decorating style, I woke up in my 3rd country of the trip. Here are a few of the photos I took while I was there...

20041007_TripCont5.1.jpg

20041007_TripCont5.3.jpg

20041007_TripCont5.2.jpg

The Final Stop

These pictures were taken in the center of town of a beautiful little city of about 60,000 people that is roughly centrally located in the country to which it belongs. The castle is from the 17th century (it was meant to be a small replica of the castle at Versaille) but the town may have been founded as early (or earlier) as 838 AD

(To those who are curious about what the street sign says in the photo from my past entry... it's Kaiser Wilhelm Strasse).

No knitting tonight. I took a short nap in the car on my way to Ann Arbor. But this long weekend for me should be filled with good knitting time. Hopefully I will make good progress on a few of the things I am working on. And get to see

20041006_TripCont4.1.jpg

20041006_TripCont4.2.jpg

20041006_TripCont4.3.jpg

Images from My 4th Stop

Yes, I know, I'm very late getting a post up today. John and I finally got a PVR for our cable connection and we have taken to hiding in the basement to watch every episode of What Not to Wear and Clean Sweep that the machine can find on our cable network. I still get a lot of knitting done, but last night it was well past my bedtime when I realized I still hadn't gotten some blogging done. Expect a late post tomorrow, too, since we will be travelling to visit my parents tonight and I don't know when exactly I will get back in front of a computer.

Once again I have had to resort to misappropriating photos from a city tourist site. My next stop was in a city 280 miles north of my last stop (yes, I spent a great deal of time in a car) and involved crossing back over the border. This city is on the Rhine (or perhaps Rhein) River and has a very industrial reputation. It's also home to a an enormous multi-national company whose slogan is simply "The Chemical Company".

Butterfly did get to see some knitting action again yesterday (actually, Fitzgerald did too, because knitting in the dark while watching Clean Sweep and What Not to Wear requires low brain-involvement knitting like straight stockinette). I'm still moving up the back of this sweater. One thing I can say about knitting with the Shinano, it makes the Kureyon seem baby-soft by comparison.

20041006_ButterflyBack.jpg
The Back of Butterfly Proceeds

While knitting with this Kureyon, I can't help but feel that I have reached into Emma's closet and stolen some of her favorite colored yarn -- rich, saturated purples and fuscias speckled with green and turquoise.

I crossed the border from yesterday's location and stepped into a country of panoramic vistas. Panoramic vistas and cows just about everywhere I looked. You just don't expect to be in a modern city and find cows grazing near a gas station. This picture was stolen from a tourist website for the area (when the contest is over it will be properly cited).

20041005_TripContest3rd.jpg
Monday Afternoon's Destination

The city is known for a variety of things, but also happens to be the home of the International Olympic Committee. It's about 180 miles from my previous stop. If you can't figure out the name of the city, at least tell me what significant geographic feature(s) are in view in the photograph and what country I was travelling in.

I managed to finish my second skein of Shinano this evening. All I can say at this point is that men are large. I feel like I've been knitting on this piece for quite some time without making much progress.

20041005_FitzgeraldBack.jpg
Up the Back of Fitzgerald

I think my chair is doing a lovely job of modeling -- and the colors are actually pretty true to real life. Not colors I'd choose for myself, but I think they do have an harmonious earthy quality.

Now I have to decide whether to switch back to Butterfly or keep going another skein on Fitzgerald. Decisions... decisions...

20041004_TripContest2ndSpot.jpg
The Second Stop on My Tour

I got a number of email comments telling me that my first entry was too easy. Don't worry, I plan to get a little bit more obscure as we go a long. Mostly I just wanted to get everyone on the right continent.

The picture above is of a train station. It was in front of the hotel I stayed in Sunday night. This train station is interesting because it is shared by two countries and contains actual border patrol representatives from one of them.

The town surrounding this train station is very picturesque (see the photo out of my hotel room below) and is considered a tourist destination. It has a lovely waterfront and was about 4 hours away from where I arrived.

20041004_TripContest2nd2.jpg
The View out My Window

To anyone who might not have seen the rules in yesterday's post, send me your answers by email. I'd prefer to receive all your answers for the week in one email after I've posted all the destinations. That way you can be sure that I won't lose any of your guesses.

As to knitting progress, I am plugging away at my earthy Fitzgerald (I'm about 2/3rds of the way through with the second skein). I've also tried on Audrey and come to the conclusion that I need to remove the neckline, remove one of the lace units and re-attach the lace. Sigh. Audrey seems destined never to reach completion. But I also know that I won't wear her if the neckline doesn't look right.

After a nice weekend enjoying my own home and some beautiful fall Chicago weather, I am all ready to start my little trip contest. I'll post a new photo or set of photos each day this week and try to provide a few useful clues. Everyone will have until October 15th (a week from this coming Friday) to send me an email with all your guesses. The person with the most correct answers will win. In the event of a tie, I will have a random drawing. You don't have to be in the US to play along. What can you win?

20041003_TripContestPrize.jpg
Contest Prizes

Since it's fall, and my thoughts are turning to Christmas gifts and thinking about how to keep warm, I thought I would reach into my sock yarn stash. The yarn on the left is Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy, a wool/cotton blend that makes for lovely socks (check my gallery for an example). The yarn on the right is a no longer available Opal colorway. Opal is a wool blend yarn that makes fabulously durable socks and comes with great yardage. These skeins look a little bright. They are a little more subtle in person.

The First Stop

20041003_TripContestTheFirs.jpg
Where Was I on Sunday? Click on the Picture for Another Clue

Hint: According to my frequent flier report, I flew 4342 miles from Chicago to get to this place.

Some Actual Knitting

When I got back from my trip this weekend, guess what was waiting on my doorstep?

20041003_NoroShinanoNo9.jpg
Noro Shinano #9

John's manly colored Shinano has finally arrived. I need to start another project like I need a hole in the head, but since I don't really have a mindless stockinette project, I decided that it wouldn't hurt to swatch and get started with Fitzgerald.

20041003_FitzgeraldBegins.jpg
A Swatch and A Ribby Section
Click for Swatch Closeup

So far, so good. The Shinano is a little rough to knit with, but it feels better when knit up and softens up nicely when soaked. The colors are still man-approved (shhh! no one tell him about that little bit of greyish purple that snuck in there) and I think they will be wonderful for fall. I like the rustic quality of the yarn a great deal. It adds a lot of texture, and creates visual interest even beyond the stripes.

Back Again!

I'm back from my great and grand journey. I only had an internet connection on Monday, and then I managed to leave my laptop cable behind somewhere, so it wasn't possible to start my little travel contest.

But I did manage to take some pictures (though I will probably have to supplement those pictures with some I find on the internet) so I will still be able to have my little contest. More on Monday when I will put up the first of the pictures, some hints and show off what you can get from playing along.

Back from San Diego

| 6 Comments

You can take my lack of posting as an indication that I had a great time in San Diego. I just didn't have time to sit down in front of the internet very much. Of course, who wants to sit down when the world outside your window looks like this:

20040611_ViewFromARoomInSD.JPG
A Room with a View: The View from the Sheraton San Diego at the Marina

From our hotel room on the 11th floor we could survey all of San Diego and the lovely harbor around us. It's difficult to tell, but on the right side of the picture is a naval base. The big grey thing that you see is an aircraft carrier, (I think it is the USS Nimitz, but I am not exactly remembering the ship number). While we were there, there were a total of four carriers in port, if you include the USS Midway, a decommisioned carrier that is now performing museum service duty. Also docked (briefly) while we were there were the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Carl Vinson (which we had seen before when we took a trip to Seattle). Although we didn't see her, apparently the USS Ronald Reagan was due in soon, as well, as a result of some big training exercise that is scheduled to occur. To give some sense of the scale of these boats, here's a picture that John took of me in front of the Midway (which is about 200 feet shorter than the current Nimitz class carriers).

20040611_USSMidway.JPG
USS Midway in San Diego

(John took a lot of other pictures, but I will spare you all the photos of planes and gun turrets and landing gear, which, while cool, probably are more interesting for John than for anyone else.)

We learned an interesting fact about the carriers while we were touring the Midway on Monday. Apparently, ever since the attack on Pearl Harbor, there is some kind of military rule that states that there will never be more than three carriers docked in any one port. However, due to some significant training exercise that is happening soon, there could be a lot more than three of them in the area. One morning, I got to see the USS Abraham Lincoln heading out to sea. All I can say is "Wow".

Actually, the seeing the Midway (which is on the left side of the picture near the cruise ship) and getting a chance to meet some of the veterans who served in various branches of the US military did make me stop and think for a while. Many people have given up a great deal to protect this country and her allies. While I may not always agree with the reasons, I do have a deep respect for those who choose to serve.

But we didn't come to San Diego to see the Midway, we came for the QualComm BREW 2004 Developer's Conference. Well, "we" is not, perhaps, the right word. John came for the conference, I came for the weather and the chance to see a good friend. BREW is the OS platform that QualComm has created so that you can run applications on your cell phone.

It's not that difficult from the Palm OS, so I was kind of interested in finding out more, but the conference was completely booked. They were pretty serious about checking IDs so I figured there would be no chance that I could sneak in and hear about some of the cool geeky things going on. But one of the people from John's company got sick and couldn't come to the conference, so John's manager transferred his registration to me. How cool is that? (At least if you are a geek girl like me?) I actually got to go to a few interesting sessions, and to the big party, which featured the B52s. Now, as both geek girl and child of the 80's this was about as cool as it could get. I never thought I would be dancing to live by the artist "Private Idaho" and "Rock Lobster". You can bet I'll be tagging along next year when this conference happens again.

On Wednesday, I got to go to the famous San Diego Zoo with a good friend and her beautiful five year old son. There's nothing quite like tromping around a great zoo with an enthusiastic child. We saw Pandas and Hippos and Elephants and all sorts of other interesting wildlife. But I never got out my camera once -- I was too busy soaking it all in to remember.

Did I do any knitting? Not much. I did finish a scarf for the friend I went to the zoo with. She's been going through a rough spot, lately, and I wanted to make her something special.

20040611_RedErosScarfforJulie.JPG
Red Eros Scarf

I know I swore that I would never make another one of these scarves because EROS makes me crazy, but I just thought the red would be perfect -- and I had just learned a little trick to make the knitting easier. You can find the pattern here. It's a very easy scarf, and I've yet to make one that didn't make it's recipient happy. Here's a closeup of the ruffly edge of the scarf:

20040611_RedErosScarfDetail.JPG
Eros Scarf Detail

What's the trick? Well, make the garter stitch happen by purling the whole scarf. It goes a lot faster (even though you're purling) because its much more difficult to split the yarn with your needle coming at the loops purlwise. This scarf is also where I learned to make the worlds easiest ruffle -- cast on twice as many stitches as you want for the body of the scarf, knit as many rows as you want the ruffle to be, then K2Tog all the way across the row.

San Diego

| 4 Comments

I was hoping to have a few pictures to show, but between the rather slow internet connection at the hotel and the reticence of my CompactFlash reader, I am photoless.

Today we spent the better part of the day strolling around the decks of the USS Midway -- an aircraft carrier decommissioned in 1992 that had entered the US Naval service in 1945. This was actually the first day that the ship was open to the public for touring, so we felt pretty lucky. There were television news crews wandering around all over the place. For me, it was most interesting from the perspectives of what technology it had and what technology it was lacking. There was definitely very little high technology around, except when it came to the planes that were once shot of the decks. Most of the complicated stuff was maintained and manipulated by well trained humans. Perhaps the most impressive computer of all is still the human brain.

Also entertaining was watching my husband walk around and scope out all the different bits of technology and machinery. If you could look through our photos you would be impressed by the number of pictures of airplane wheel assemblies, large pipes and large pieces of metal working equipment. I couldn't help but think that my Dad would have loved to be there with us.

But probably the best part was the older veterans who were populating the carrier, both as visitors and as guides. There were many good stories and it was really neat to hear guys who had actually crewed the ship talk about the role they played there.

Apparently it was also quite an amazing effort to get this carrier ready for viewing. If you want to know more, they have website.

I've done just a little knitting (I'm working on a simple Eros scarf for a friend who lives in LA and needs a little pick-me-up) and I spent most of the evening working on my Needle tracking program. A number of people have asked if I will be making an announcement when it is ready. I definitely will be! I will also have a place on my website where you can go to download it. It's about 85% of the way there now, so hopefully by the end of this week or early next week I'll have something to share.

20040602_SouthToSanFrancisco.JPG
North of Golden Gate Bridge

The trip to San Francisco was quite an adventure. Like all adventures, there are good parts and bad parts. Fortunately for me, I got the bad parts out of the way at the beginning.

I've done a reasonable amount of air travel in my day. I'm not a high flying frequent flier, but I'm used to airplanes and air travel out of O'Hare. And this trip started the way it was supposed to. I got to the airport around 9:30 am on Friday and was all ready for my 11 am flight across the country. We boarded on schedule and I was happily anticipating an afternoon of swatching and fibery goodness while John finished up his conference obligations.

But this was not to be.

Before take off, the pilot let us know that there was going to be a little delay while they checked to make sure that a particular maintenance item had been taken care of. We waited a bit as this was attended to, and then we got the all clear and headed on our way. So far so good.

About 30 minutes into the flight, I was yawning and thinking about taking a nap when the pilot announced that the equipment that maintained the cabin pressure had failed or was failing (apparently this was what they had been concerned about at the airport, and had been told was taken care of) and we would be turning back for Chicago. If there's anything that makes you wake up quickly its your pilot telling you that something is wrong with your airplane.

Now, before I go on, I should remind you of a couple of facts about this flight. 1) it was a very full long distance flight bound to SF from Chicago with a lot of jet fuel 2) you can't land an airplane carrying too much fuel without a serious emergency (which apparently we didn't have -- even though the reason we turned back was because the O2 masks were about to drop), and 3) only 1/2 an hour our from Chicago, we hadn't burned very much fuel at all.

So you can guess what comes next. We flew back towards Chicago and the pilot came on again to tell us that we were going to have to circle Rockford until we had burned off enough fuel to land. We flew in circles around Rockford for an hour. I think I saw the same power plant go by the window five or six times. And then we landed at O'hare again at about 1:30 pm. The time we were supposed to have arrived in San Francisco. Sigh. So much for a nice afternoon in San Francisco.

To give American some credit, they did have things taken care of, and we were off the ground again by 3 pm. It was a very deja vu feeling since we left from the same gate both times. The passengers deserve a lot of credit, too. With the exception of 2 people, everyone else was well behaved (although there were a lot of people taking advantage of the bar next to the departure gate). I got a little bit of a chuckle out of the pilot as he came over the intercom "Just in case anyone is concerned, this is not the same aircraft...".

Fortunately, the second trip out went without a hitch. But the moral of this story? It's bad karma not to go with your hometown airline. I shoulda been on United...

John and I stayed in "Grand Hyatt" downtown in the center of the shopping district. The good karma part of the trip is that I was staying just three blocks away from Art Fibers.

Art Fibers, I have to say, was worth a trip to SF all on its own. It's its own very special place. The folks in the shop were friendly and helpful and the fiber was a treat to touch and work with. One of the nicest things about this place is the little sitting area and the free swatching balls. Like a yarn? Grab it, swatch it and then you can get help from the staff putting together a custom designed sweater. If I lived in San Francisco, I would be in this place more than I should be. The yarn isn't cheap, but you do get bigger discounts, the more you buy.

I wanted to try a couple different yarns, so I decided that I would try for a trio of summer tops. Here's the yarn I came up with:

20040602_StashAdditionsFromArtFibers.JPG
Yarn So Good You Could Eat It: From Left to Right, Chai, Biscotti and Mousse

I set out on this mission with a goal towards making some things that I could wear in the office. So the colors that you see are a little more subtle than I would normally pick. But not quite as subtle as they appear in the picture.

20040602_ArtFibersChaii.JPG
Chai in Color #16

Chai is a handpainted 100% Tussah Silk yarn. Hopefully as I start working with it, I will be able to capture it's true colors better. It really leans towards a deep charcoaly grey, garnety purples and reds, deep ocean blues and teals. It is a buttery soft yarn that you just have to feel to believe and that has a special sheen that I usually associate with mohair. The yarn comes 165 yards to 50 g and knits up at roughly 22 stitches/28 rows per 4" on a 4 mm needle. It has a lovely uneven texture that makes the fabric airy without being too revealing. This is destined to become a little top with short cap sleeves, a V neckline and a bit of a frill at waist.

20040602_ArtFibersBiscotti.JPG
Biscotti in Color 5B

Biscotti is 100% nylon. Neither photo captures it's colors very well. The group shot is a little dark, the up close shot is a little light. It is a dark yarn that appears almost black until you get up close to it and realize that it has blue, green and brown undertones. I am hoping to make a simple sleeveless shell with a ballet neckline out of what I bought -- perhaps trimmed with some of the Phildar Reliefs (a yarn with a similar texture) that I got from Becky a while back. This yarn comes 83 yards to 50 grams and knits up at 14 stitches/24 rows to 4" on US 10.5 needles. It's a soft yarn that knits up into a interesting textured fabric (much like the Tai that I knit with last summer).

20040602_ArtFibersMousse.JPG
Mousse in Color #3

But perhaps my favorite purchase is the Mousse. Mousse is a boucle ribbon yarn that appears to be the younger cousin of Rowan's Cotton Braid. It's a 20/30/50% Linen/Cotton/Nylon blend. There are a whopping 193 yards per 50 gram skein. The recommended gauge is 22s/33r to 4" on 5.0 mm needles, but I liked the tighter gauge that I got on 4.0 mm needles, so I will be doing a fun summery tank top with a lace edging on the smaller needles.

I'm likely to start with the Mousse. I just can't stop touching it, and I think it will be the most practical for the summer. The top is going to be K2Tog YO lace up to the waistline, after which it will be solid. It's going to have a scoop neck and wide shoulder "straps" so that it will be work friendly.

After my trip to Art Fibers, we did a good bit of meeting with friends, eating, shopping and bonding with big trees. In spired by all the wonderful chocolatey goodness I've seen on Mariko's blog, I couldn't resist bringing these home with me:

20040602_RichArtChocolate.JPG
Chocolates from RichArt

I think they are almost too pretty to eat -- but I will make the ultimate sacrifice since the "instructions" tell me that they are at their best up to a month after purchase. This batch is full of nutty fillings -- hazelnut, praline, etc. You can find out more about these decadent little French goodies here.

The trip back from SF to Chicago was uneventful and calm. We got in around midnight Monday night and between work and school and programming I've been on my toes since my return. My needles have been conspicuously silent since I have a lot to do before I leave for San Diego on Sunday to soak up some sun while John attends a geek meeting.

My Palm programming project is due next Tuesday, and I hope to have it all but completed before I get on the plane to San Diego. I'm going to be skipping KIP tomorrow night in hopes of getting some good progress made (it's hard to program and socialize at the same time). I wish a good time to everyone else, though, and will definitely be there for the next meeting on the 17th.

P.S. I'd love to hear about "must see" or "must eat" things in San Diego. I'm going to be there from Sunday to Thursday afternoon and should have a lot of free time.

Warning -- image heavy post ahead. I didn't get my camera out as often as I should have (but I still did better than I normally do). Here are a few of the things that fascinated me while I was at MS&W.

The real stars of Maryland Sheep and Wool are the sheep. And there are just so many different kinds of sheep to look at. Big sheep, little sheep, young sheep, mature sheep. rams and ewes, sheep with and without horns, sheep of all sorts of colors and textures. A few of my faves are here:

20040503_KarukulSheep.JPG
Karakul Sheep

The Karakul were probably my favorite -- but only because they almost didn't look like sheep to me. Their fleece was long and straight and they reminded me more of llamas than sheep from a wool perspective. They look cuddly, but Claudia assures me that their wool is really not very good for garments -- rugs and carpets. Apparently it's long staple and kind of coarse.

20040503_RedLambs.JPG
Baa Baa Red Sheep

I don't remember which breed these little red guys belong to, but they were sure cute! I saw several more of them being walked around the fair grounds on leashes (only at MS&W would you not be surprised to see a sheep on a leash!). I love the color.

20040503_SheepyProfile.JPG
Handsome Sheep in Profile

Yes, it's another sheep from a breed I can't remember the name of. If I had to guess tho, I'd guess that its a breed that has some Merino heritage. I just thought this guy looked regal and self possessed.

20040503_SheepGoRound.JPG
Sheepy Fun On the Playground

Who needs a carousel when you can have a sheep-go-round? I have no idea what these folks were selling. Sheep replicas of some kind for those of us who can't have our own live specimen in our back yard?

20040503_FleeceSale.JPG
Fleece Sale Corner

Not too far from the sheep-go-round was the huge area set aside for raw fleeces. I stayed away from this area because I just don't have any interest in unwashed sheep wool (although I suspect my cats would get off on it), but I was intrigued by the bags of fleece and all the people digging through it. I suspect even if I learn to spin, I won't find much alluring about processing the raw stuff. But you never know, I could change my tune.

20040503_MSWSockTailGate.JPG
Tailgate Sock Party

All we're missing are the brats and the brewskis. Silvia kindly took this picture of Bonne Marie, me and Claudia furiously working on our socks Sunday afternoon just before we headed back to the airport. Apparently we were an amusing sight for a lot of people as we got many offers of picture taking and many friendly comments in passing.

The best part of MS&W truly was meeting all the people and hanging out with a wonderful crowd of folks. What a treat to meet Leigh, Claudia and Silvia in person for the first time. They are all as witty and wonderful as they seem on their blogs. Silvia kindly brought me some white Phil'Onde that she had left over from her Onde sweater project. So now I can knit on in confidence on that project. Claudia and Silvia also acted as native guides. Nothing like having help finding the best vendors and the neatest stuff in the park. And not just fibery vendors -- the soap from GotSoap.com smelled to fabulous to leave at the fair.

And you can never beat an evening with Bonne Marie and Carolyn who I'll get to see again tonight at KIP. Could there be more fesitvals in my future? Quite possibly. I've been told I might get a spinning lesson if I can find a way to get to Rhinebeck. Who could resist an offer like that?

Still Unpacking after MS&W

| 6 Comments

I'm still unpacking and getting settled in back at home. Lots of good things to talk about from a wonderful trip. Here's my goody bag as I started unpacking for a little photo shoot this morning.

20040502_BackFromMaryland.JPG
A Bag Full of Fiber Booty

Lots of good stuff to tell and talk about, stay tuned for more tomorrow!

ThreadBear Road Trip

| 10 Comments

I love spring. As soon as the weather warms up, it seems like an invitation to bring more color back into my life. And there's no better way to bathe in color than to go visit Rob and Matt in Columbus.

20040307_MoreKerstiThanYouCanShakeAStickAt.JPG
More Color than You Can Shake A Stick At

It was definitely a whirlwind kind of day. We (Julie, Bonne Marie and I) left for ThreadBear around 10 AM CST and didn't return until about 3 AM CST. Once we got there it was hard to stop moving because there was just so much to see and so many wonderful people to talk to -- especially my old knitting buddy Judy who drove in from Cincinatti to meet us.

Once again, I should have taken more pictures (I took a total of 4, and never got a picture of Judy's incredible Alice Starmore Fair Isle, which I regret since it's a stunning accomplishment). But the great wall of Koigu Kersti and Rhumba is pretty representative of the color that is splashed all over the store. It's hard not to feel like a new season is in the air when you're surrounded by color and positive energy.

20040307_MattAndJulieAndHelen.JPG
Matt, Helen, Julie and a Spinning Wheel

Towards the end of the afternoon, things started to slow down a little bit and I got a chance to work on a small sock project and learn a little about spinning. I don't think I am going to be picking up a new hobby any time soon, but there was something incredibly peaceful about watching Matt turn a roving into yarn. I also got a chance to talk to "Low Helen" about Manos -- she was involved in the color selection process for my Banff sweater. Thanks again, Helen, for helping to steer that sweater in the right color direction.

And speaking of Manos...I have my own version of "Monday Morning Mirth" today. I bet you didn't know that it was so multifunctional.

20040307_BonneMarieAntoinette.JPG
Bonne Marie Antoinette: Let Them Knit with Manos

Not only does it make excellent sweaters, you can also use it for French Revolution costuming.

After dinner we got a chance to just hang out at the table in the back and talk and knit. And then all of a sudden it was midnight. Time must just go by faster in Columbus!

Now, before you think that I left without doing a little stash enhancement...

20040307_MyHaul.JPG
From the left... Squiggle and a Katia ribbon yarn, Cascade 220 to felt with, America's Alpaca Suri Lace in "Raiku", Butterfly Super 10 and Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in "Latte"

The only thing I had planned on getting for myself during this trip was the Butterfly Super 10 -- a mercerized cotton yarn that is destined to be the Polka Purl Dot top from the current IK. Its bright and its happy and I can't wait to swatch it up! The Cascade 220 is for testing out some spring felted bag ideas I have. The Suri Lace Weight Alpaca was an unexpected find that will be turned into a lacy cardigan sweater. Can you believe that there are 875 yards of yarn on each one of those skeins? Also in the category of unexpected finds was the Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb, a silk and wool blend. I loved the colorway when Rob introduced it on his blog, and was so disappointed to find out that it was too hard to reproduce for Lorna's to keep making it. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found a skein of Lion and Lamb in Latte.

And I think I have discovered the new "Pet Rock" for knitters... Crystal Palace Squiggle. I don't know whether to knit with it or just enjoy it as an objet d'art.

There was more, but it is destined for other knitter's needles, so I will let them reveal it if they so desire.

Needless to say, I'm very psyched to get knitting for spring. A big thanks to Rob and Matt for making our visit so wonderful!

Michigan Fiber Festival

| 6 Comments

The Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, MI turned out to be a wonderful daytrip. Neat people, neat critters and neat fiber -- what more could a knitty city girl want? Advance apologies to people with dialup connections -- this is a pretty picture heavy post.

Neat People

I'll start with the neat people! One of the best thing about blogging for me has been making a wonderful collection of new online creative friends. While online is great, I think it's even more fun to move online into "real life". Yesterday I got to do just that. Originally, I planned this trip with just my knitbud, Julie. Then, after a little local knit night, I got to meet Bonnie Marie, and she came with us, too! After I posted about our trip, Tonya dropped me an email to say she was going to be there, too. Here we all are not too long after meeting up.

Julie, Me, Bonnie Marie and Tonya
From Left to Right: Julie, Me, Bonnie Marie and Tonya

Later on in the day (just as we were on our way out of the last barn) we all ran into Lynn -- who had spent most of the week at the festival. Lynn had so much happy exuberance that I wished I had been there all week, too.

Julie, Me and Lynn
From Left to Right: Julie, Me and Lynn

There's really nothing like being able to put real faces and voices to the blogs I read. It was wonderful to meet Tonya and Lynn and to get to spend the day with new and old friends.

Neat Critters

But this was a fiber festival, and of course, some beautiful sources of fiber were at the show to be seen and shown off. Angora rabbits, alpacas, llamas and at least zillion different types of sheep, were there to see and enjoy. Here's a little sample of the wonderful creatures we got to see:

MFFBabyAlpaca20030816.JPG
Baby Alpacas
MFFLlama20030816.JPG
Adult Male Llama
MFFShetlandSheep20030816.JPG
A Rainbow of Shetland Sheep
MFFRam20030816.JPG
My favorite picture of the whole show: a lovely ram whose breed I can't remember

Neat Fiber

I wouldn't want anyone to think that I got away from this show without spending my pennies on some fibery goodness. Fortunately for my wallet, I am not a spinner -- there was so much top there in a rainbow of amazing colors. Interestingly, almost all of my purchases were inspired by neat patterns and not just impulse fiber grabbing.

My first stop was Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill of Mt. Horeb, WI. The very nice folks at this booth were lovely to talk to and had a lovely selection of fibers and colors. The thing that initially drew me to their booth was, actually, my husband. John pointed to a sweater hanging up on display and said "I'd wear that". Well, John likes so few sweater patterns, that I had to find out if there was a pattern that I could buy. Sure enough, it was their Lattice and Seed Stitch Pullover Sweater. After looking at that, my eyes travelled over to a lovely lace scarf display. A Week in the Life of a Knitter's Cat has 8 lovely lace scarf patterns. It inspired my first yarn purchase:

MFFBlackberryRidge20030816.JPG
Lace Weight Silk Wool Blend in Dark Violet

The next purchase was from Dzined. The skein below is destined to be socks, as Bonnie Marie assured us that this incredible Wool, Hemp, Mohair blend was wore well and just keeps getting softer wash after wash. Apparently, while the wool will full in the wash, the hemp fibers keep the felting process from happening. Her colorways are all unique and it was almost hard to choose from all the possibilities. (I picked up the Noro at a different booth. It's not terribly special, I've just been looking for a few skeins in this colorway to try out Julie's Felted Bag pattern with).

MFFDzined20030816.JPG

The Shelridge Farm booth got my attention because of a Lucy Neatby pattern I've been coveting: Fiesta Feet Socks. A combination of Fair Isle and other kntting techniques that were just impossible for me to pass by yesterday. Not only that, but the owner who was there was lovely and helpful and not at all pushy. I bought some yarn from their flock (they have about 100 sheep) that reminded me of Koigu which will eventually become these lovely socks. They've got some lovely kits and their website is worth checking out.

MFFShellridgeFarm20030816.JPG

By now you are almost thinking that I was relatively well behaved and in control with my yarn purcahses. Really, I would have been had it not been for Tracy Bunkers and her Bonkers yarn. Really. But there was just too much color and texture for me to escape the pull of this particular fibery gravitational sink. I saw this sweater -- just enough texture to make the sweater fun and interesting, but not too much so that it doesn't come together quickly. And that led to this purchase:

MFFBonkers20030816.JPG

Yum! It's a little hard to see how turquoise this yarn is. This sweater is going to glow when it's all done up. It really needs to get cooler in Chicago soon...

This was a wonderful trip. A great adventure and feast for the eyes. I want to say a great big THANK YOU to my incredible husband (I know a lot of you out there think that you have the worlds greatest guy... but well, I'd put serious odds on my sweetie) -- he did all the driving so that Bonnie Marie and I could knit and he patiently tromped through the barns and helped me take sheep pictures. He's definitely the sort of guy who needs a custom designed sweater soon!

I'm off to work on the back of the Karabella Halter... I ripped the whole thing out and decided to do the back one size smaller (it's just narrower, not shorter) and to do K2 P2 ribbing all the way across. I've finshed decreasing for the waist and now am starting the increases. Wish me luck! If that doesn't snug up the fit, I'm gonna be one unhappy camper.

Monaco

| 2 Comments

FashionableMonaco20030715.JPG

Ah, here I am at the last stop in our trip. We decided that we would hop the bus to Monaco for the last day of our vacation. We didn't have any particular goals in mind about where we wanted to go in Monaco, it just seemed like an interesting place to spend the afternoon.

John and I didn't rent a car for the entire trip. Generally speaking, unless we're in the U.S. neither of us gets too excited about driving in a place where we really don't know the rules of the road. And I have to say that the southern French are pretty aggressive drivers -- they put your average Chicagoan to shame! It didn't take us very long at all to figure out that it wasn't safe to step out into a crosswalk, even if the "walk" signal was present. Taxis are very expensive, so we defaulted to the easiest means of transport: the bus. The main bus line takes you to almost all the main cities you could want to visit: Nice, Grasse, Antibes, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Menton. Unlike Chicago buses, the buses in France were comfortable touring buses with big windows so that we could take in the sites. You definitely don't need to rent a car in the Cote d'Azure, even if you want to travel a bit and take in the sites.

MonacoHarbor20030715.JPG

The picture above is me trying to figure out where we are. Another very handy thing about French cities is the tourism information centers. All of them have free maps of the surrounding area -- very useful for people from places where the streets run more or less north-south and east-west.

The picture to the right is the harbor -- if you have an ultra luxe yacht, this is definitely the place to dock it. Some of these boats must have had more square footage than my house! You can also see a little bit of Monaco in the background. It's a very overbuilt place with expensive buildings and shops absolutely everywhere.

AquariumView20030715.JPG

Our only real desitnation goal for the day was the Aquarium. Yep, forget palaces and wax museums, give me fish! It's not a huge aquarium (the upper half is dedicated to the sport fishing expeditions of the Monaco royality, the lower two floors contain a beautiful reef tank and examples of fish from a variety of areas, including the local Mediterranean species. The picture to the left was taken of the same harbor the boats are in from the top of the aquarium.

MonacoFish20030715.JPG

This picture really has no tourist value whatsoever, but I thought it was a neat pic -- they had a tube tank containing a bunch of small, schooling fish (I should remember the name of the species, because it's a common one, but I don't). John took it without a flash so as to avoid spooking the fish. He actually took quite a lot of fish pictures, but since you can find fish pictures almost anywhere, I'm just going to post the one and leave it at that.

JohnBear20030715.JPG

There are some surprising things on the upper floors of the aquarium. One of them is an enormous whale skeleton (part of the trophy fishing collection) that makes you appreciate how big whales really are (there are also a number of other skeletons of smaller whales and dolphins, and all sorts of pickled sea creatures are in bottles along the walls.) Another is this stuffed polar bear (one of my few pictoral contributions to our trip). Not only is the bear an unexpected find, but John is also smiling in this picture!

CathedralDeMonaco20030715.JPG

Of course, no trip to a new city would be complete without a visit to a local cathedral. Not too far from the aquarium we were able to find one! Pictured here you can see the Cathedral de Monaco. We decided to avoid taking pictures inside (since there were people using the church as a house of worship and not just a tourist site), but we enjoyed the lovely artwork inside. This is the cathedral wherein the Monaco royal family is entombed. You can find Princess Grace's final resting place here along with a few other royal tombs. Not surprisingly, there were fresh flowers where Grace was laid to rest. Her memory obviously lives on long after her departure from the living.

The cathedral is on the edge of the old part of the city. I think if John and I hadn't already spent plenty of time in Cagne and Nice, we would have found it wonderfully quaint and decided to take pictures. But what we realized instead was that these quaint little areas are just the French equivalents of tourist traps, complete with t-shirt shops and places to buy panini and ice cream. Still pretty, but we decided not worth burning any more digital film on ("oh look, John -- another picture of narrow streets and quaint little houses!"... John and I have habit of taking lots of pictures of the same types of things while we are on vacation and then not being able to remember what they were.).

InsideUnknownChurch20030715.JPG

Such is the case with the artwork we discovered inside a little church just off the touristy area. I wish I had saved our map of Monaco so I could find the name of this lovely little sanctuary. Both of us were struck by the artwork on the ceiling and the statuary around the altar.

We figured that no trip to Monaco could possibly be complete without getting a look at the famous Casino de Monte Carlo. We aren't gamblers, but we've seen enough movies to be intrigued. Our walk back from the area around the aquarium took us by trendy shops and through some lovely gardens. We also had an interesting revelation about Monaco.

Remember how I mentioned that Nice drivers were not all that respectful of pedestrians in crosswalks? Well, Monaco is completely different. There aren't all that many actual stop lights, but there are quite a few pedestrian crosswalks. We more or less only had to think about stepping out into a crosswalk and the cars would stop! We have no idea why the driving styles are so different in Monaco... all we could come up with was better manners and expensive liability insurance for cars. But it was definitely nice not having to worry so much when we crossed the street.

JohnCasino20030715.JPG

I'll close this post and the Southern France travelogue with this shot of John in front of the Casino. He looks quite cross. Could it be because he wasn't dressed correctly for the Casino? Could it be because he has to fly back to Chicago soon? Could it be that his wife didn't tell him when to smile? The world may never know...

For some additional neat pictures of Monaco, check out this link

Nice, Part II: Cimiez

| 2 Comments

FranciscanChurch20030714.JPG

The next part of our wanderings through Nice took us to Cimiez, a "suburb" of Nice that is just to the north of central Nice. Unlike Chicago, suburb is a relative term. John and I just took a northernly uphill walk and had no problem getting there on foot. While Le Chateau marks the place of an ancient Greek settlement (by the way, the name of the city of Nice is derived from the winged goddess "Nike"), Cimiez is located on what used to be an old Roman settlement, Cemenelum.

Cimiez, in addition to being a pretty swanky suburb, by standards American or French, is home to some neat things to see. Our first stop was Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, the centerpiece church of a 16th century Franciscan monestary. ("Eglise" was one of the new words I added to my French vocabulary, it means "church"). John and I didn't visit the museum associated with the monestary, but we did take time to take a look at the church and peek inside... after all, it was Sunday, and we thought we might be able to earn some "extra credit points" with John's (very Polish, very Catholic) mom if we at least went in and took a look.

FranciscanChurchInside20030714.JPG

John snapped this picture before we realized that cameras were not supposed to be used inside the church. It gives an idea of how beautiful and how much art surrounds the average parishoner in one of these old churches (and this church was hardly unusual). It was a lot darker inside than the picture suggests, and made us realize why people might have gone to mass in the morning instead of at night: it was a lot easier to see what you were doing without a lot of candles. One thing that also struck me was the lack of a big crucifix at the front of the church (there was a very significant one towards the back). Crucifixes feature quite prominently at the front of American Catholic Churches, and it made me wonder when the shift occurred, since we noticed this absence in several French churches. The churches we visited also seemed to have a lot of side chapels dedicated to particular saints or events in Christian mythology. Even though I don't practice much, from a historical perspective, I found these churches fascinating (I almost majored in history during college, but worried about my job prospects...).

FranciscanGarden20030714.JPG

The gardens next to the church were as lovely and as tranquil as the church itself. John took this picture of me at the entry to the garden (I should point out that John took most of these lovely pictures... I only took the few where you see him by himself). In addition to sporting my handy daypack, I am also modeling my peasant top, which was perfect for the sojourn up the hill in warmish weather. Rarely have I been so pleased with one of my knitting accomplishments. Even though it is an incredibly simple garment, it is one of the most unique in my current wardrobe, and it makes me happy when I wear it (by the way... KnitPicks has Porto Cervo in Jeans on Clearance, if you're looking to make this top.)

FranciscanFountain20030714.JPG

We would have spent more time in this beautiful little fountain sanctuary if there had been a little more shade. It would have been a lovely place to settle in with a book and just soak in the peacefulness.

The next stop on our tour of Cimiez was the Musee Matisse, which is housed in a 17th century villa that we didn't seem to get a picture of. (One very useful fact when travelling in France is that the museums are free on the first Sunday of every month -- we didn't learn this until we got there, but we were happy to take advantage of it!). One of my favorite things about the Art Institute of Chicago (if you've never been, it's a must when you come to Chicago) is the large collection of French artists that are featured there, including Matisse. The Musee Matisse is quite small by comparison to the AIC, but had great exhibits. I particularly liked the one featuring his designs for the Chapelle du Rosaire, which included a mock up of the chapel itself, and sketches of the artwork.

RomanArenaRuins20030714.JPG

After a brief stop for an ice cream and water break, John and I started off to look more closely at the Roman ruins of Cemenelum. (Here's a link to a little Roman history). I liked this picture a great deal because of the juxtaposition of the ruins of this ancient Roman arena with upscale French suburbia (which was also once the trendy get-a-way for weathy English travellers as well). There's not too much left of this amphitheatre that once featured gladiatorial combat, but you can almost imagine what it must have been like.

The arena sits outside of the rest of the ruins that are protected by the Musee d'Archeologie. This museum, in spite of its ancient subject material, is a relatively airy and modern building (and unlike the Musee Matisse, seemed to have turned on its air conditioning).

RomanCityRuins20030714.JPG

Probably one of the most difficult things for John and I when we went to these museums was our rusty French. I could read most things and get the general idea of what was going on, but I really wished that I had a better vocabulary and could remember more general grammar. Even so, we learned a lot here about the Roman empire and the structure of Roman settlements. John was fascinated about the process of heating the baths.

The picture above is some of the remaining substructure to the baths. One thing that we liked very much is that we could wander around in and actually touch the remains of this old settlement. Makes you appreciate the durability of Roman masonry work, but also made me wonder what would still be standing in Chicago 1600 years from now. Will people be fascinated by old hotels, shopping malls, and the remains of the Navy Pier ferris wheel?

RomanBathRuins20030714.JPG

The largest structure left standing is the main bathhouse. It's at least two stories tall and its kind of neat to think that they took the time to put in decorative brickwork to make the place more enjoyable to hang out in. When you get up close to the brick and mortar work you can almost imagine people building this place brick by brick and the work it must have required.

Now the structures only inhabitants are pigeons ("oh la la, les pigeons!", to quote an older French lady who was examining the place while we were there). No matter where you go, the sky rats seem to follow.

InsidetheBathhouse20030714.JPG

This last picture was taken inside the bath house (John found a creative place to put the camera so we could take a timer shot). I'm not sure what we're looking at (maybe keeping an eye out for divebombing pigeons), but I thought it was good for giving you a closer look at the brickwork.

Lest you think that I've done no knitting at all since coming back from France, I'll also throw in a quick update on my current projects. After feeling terribly guilty about the unfinished state of Pebbles, I've gone back to working on the sleeve. I think I'm about 2/3rd done with the left sleeve now... I like the way moss stitch looks, but I'm not sure I'll be diving into another major project that is all moss stitch and worked in a very inelastic fiber. I'll probably put up a pic after I get the sleeve finished.

I also succumbed to extreme temptation this morning and placed an order at Elann for 9 balls of Filatura di Crossa Tai in "Tapestry" so that I can do yet another top out of the Filatura Summer 2003 book. I really tried to resist, but at almost half off, I figured it was my only chance. I saw one of the tops knit up when I was at Ruhama's and just fell in love. Nothing like a good floor sample to sell yarn!

Categories

Monthly Archives