Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's All About the Yarn

Two more pair of socks have crawled off the needles. They are both generic patterns - the first ones to show off the Kaffe Fassett self striping Regia and the second pair to use up leftovers.

I can't explain the lack of knitting or blogging other than to say "Don't turn a hobby into a job." The urge to knit will always return so I give myself a break when dormancy sets in. Same with the blog. It just sits out there in cyperspace and waits.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I went to Reno for a week to meet my newest nephews and to visit with family. They are grand nephews, I suppose, the children of my niece. What sweet boys! What a great age! They were two months old, just learning to smile and coo. Precious! Their mom makes it look easy to care for two babies and a two year old. Ah, youth. I sure didn't want to leave.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Denmark Socks

Pattern: Denmark
Knitting on the Road
Nancy Bush
Yarn: Fortissima Socka
Needles: 2.25 mm

A lace cuff was substituted, the stitch count was increased to 64 to accommodate the finer gauge yarn and garter stitch rib kept things neat between the cables.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Friday Harbor Socks

Pattern: Friday Harbor
Knitting on the Road
Nancy Bush
Yarn: ShiBui Sock
Color: Pagoda
Needles: 2.25 mm

I used a lighter weight yarn for this sock than the pattern called for so I increased the stitch count to 61. I also substituted garter stitch rib for the back of the sock because it makes my 2x2 ribbing look better and used a different decrease for the toes. This is great yarn and is now one of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fingerless Gloves

A friend of mine had a well loved, worn out pair of fingerless gloves. The llama motif makes me think they were made in South America but I don't really know. I made a new pair for Rick but left out the best part, the little beast of burden. It isn't possible to do intarsia in the round and I thought the trial embroidered llama looked lame. As is often the case, the originals cannot be properly replaced but the new ones should keep his hands warm.

Yarn: Sheldridge Farm Soft Touch Heather
Colour: Charcoal
Needles: US 2

Monday, September 24, 2007


We were at the cabin this weekend and I had a lazy hour or two on Friday to drift around in the rowboat. The water was calm and I was surrounded by high mountains and big sky. We had just seen a black bear on the beach across the way and I was hoping for a closer look. There were mountain goats up on the ridges and a dozen trumpeter swans floating nearby, honking in swan language.

My little camera was with me and and I took a lot of lousy pictures - flat light, crooked horizons and out of focus shots from straining the zoom. Wanna see a picture of the oar? It's the best I could do photographically.

I wish I could say that all that calm water calmed me down. There have been more than a few things to worry about around here and somehow my worst case scenario kind of mind has been running amok. The fall colors and the fresh snow on the peaks do convey a natural sort of peace but it has been a great deal more reassuring to get the results of some medical tests (on 3 different people) and find out that the best case scenarios are the ones that are playing out. Several phone conversations sorted out some other kinks and my mental boat seems to be more stable today.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Photo Contest

My picture won a photo contest! Dave submitted "Chilkat Lake Vista" to AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) magazine and won the June contest. AOPA has over 400,000 members so more than a few pilots will see it. The picture was printed in the September 2007 magazine and appears online here. We actually think another Alaska photograph, the February winner, is the best shot for the annual grand prize but it was cool to be published.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Unheard

My friend, Josh, wrote a book. We worked together in Zambia some dozen years ago for the Peace Corps and he has written a great story of his experience as a volunteer in Mununga, a remote village in the northwestern part of the country. The task of writing a whole book seems so huge to me and I really have no idea what is involved in finding an agent and a publisher. It can't be easy. Yet he did it; he did all of it, and a box landed on my porch from Amazon and there was the book. How cool is that?

This morning Josh was interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition by Scott Simon. The link to the broadcast is here where there is also an excerpt from the book and other links to more audio and video clips.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tourist Town

I met Dave downtown for lunch the other day. Since I was early, I stood for awhile on the wharf, warmed by the sun, breathing in the dock scents of creosote and tide that are usually carried away by the wind or dampened by cold and rain. Morning fog had kept the float planes tied up but now they were coming and going, filling the air with noise and the kerosene smell of aviation fuel. Four big ships bring in a lot of business.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Merino Baby Sweater

This quick project is now a model garment for the local yarn store. I had asked the owner if she needed anything knitted up and she reached for a colorful skein that wasn't selling well. "Maybe if people see how it looks as a pair of socks," she said. Washable? Yes. Baby sweater? Sure. A pattern you would like to sell as well? This would work.

I like it. Lovely, soft, buttery yarn. Big needles. It was a pleasure to make. It can hang in the shop for awhile, sell some products and then make its way to a baby.

Yarn: Merino Kind Superfine by Ornaghi
100% superwash merino wool
Needles: US 6
Pattern: King Cole DK
Leaflet #2887

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rib and Cable Mitts

I may turn this back into a knitting blog. There has been a bit of a lull around here this summer but a big new bag of yarn from the local knit shop is providing some inspiration - and there are more supplies on the way. Love the online world!

I warmed up with a couple of baby hats with yarn from my stash (Cotton Twist) and a generic flat cable stitch pattern.

My sister-in-law kindly looked over some glove patterns and chose a pair for me to make for her. She lives in Montana and wanted warm fingers which were not difficult to add.

Pattern: Rib and Cable Mitts
Interweave Knits Spring 2006
Needles: US 4
Yarn: Frog Tree 100% Alpaca, Sport Weight

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I loved these beaded blue gloves, called Seaside, when I first saw the pattern. It can be found online here at Magknits. However, I do not love my red version. I used some yarn from my stash - an alpaca/tencel blend - which proved to be not quite soft enough for gloves. I didn't like the chart from the moment it rolled off the printer and the stitch proved to be difficult to memorize. It all adds up to an abandoned project.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Wetlands Trail

I better get some sunny summer pictures posted before the season changes. I walked on the popular trail near the airport last week when the trail closest to home started to seem spooky because of the bears. I also had a lovely bike ride through the woods up to the Herbert Glacier a few days ago but didn't take any pictures.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Platform Bed

This is the fifth bed like this that I have built. One was enough for awhile but then there were cabins, children and guest rooms. Most of the material for this one came out of the scrap pile at the lake. It is amazing how those sharp blades on the planer transform the wood. Some of our local spruce is really beautiful when it is dressed up.

I didn't fuss with the construction details. Butt joints and wood screws do the job, enabling a quick disassembly if needed. There is room underneath for storage.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


My niece, Jessie, had her babies on August 9th. They are boys, are not identical and have been named Carter and Cayden. After more than a week in the NICU, everybody is home now and doing fine.

"She has her hands full." says my mom, the great-grandmother. Yep. Congratulations, Brian and Jessie and big sister, Aubree. I can't wait to meet them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Talk to the Blog

I have had time to write posts on the blog but I haven't. There has been time for other things like knitting and sewing but nothing is getting produced. It seems to be a dormant phase. But it is rich nonetheless.

Dave and I have gone to the cabin every weekend. We are so happy with our marriage. It is the most important thing. His side of the family has been visiting this summer and my side of the family is doing a five sibling round robin phone discussion almost every day. My niece's twins were born, early but big enough and healthy. Ray is king of the neighborhood - gone all day but checking in as requested. Katherine cleaned out her room in an hour and a half and left for Hawaii to start college. My friend's daughter, 18, was killed in a car crash and contacting him led to more phone calls and emails and pictures of old friends and their growing children. I read "Three Cups of Tea" and "Be Cool" this week, serious world issues and Elmore Leonard. We watch Jon Stewart and laugh. The sun has been shining for a week. It's warm.

That's my life.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bacon, Bagels and Beer

What do you bring to a friend's cabin for the weekend? Well, really, we were just going for an overnight stay, so we brought some fresh king salmon steaks and some bacon, bagels and beer.

It is interesting to see different places and projects and what other people concentrate on. Dave is a systems guy, so six years into our place we have hot running water, abundant solar electricity and a flush toilet. But we don't have any fruit trees or fresh arugula.

Our friends' place is such a contrast to ours and it was delightful. It was our first time visiting them and it was fun to see all of their projects. Their land is flat and spread out, with a tight little log cabin and a lot of space around it. There is a lively creek off to one side and a large adjoining lot with a fine start on a new cabin. They have spent many hours in the garden and landscaping the grounds over the years and it really shows. They are on the beach, which is salt water with big tides, so the very air and all of the natural sights and sounds feel quite different than our lakeside spot.

Rick's place, on Shelter Island, the site of Spanish camp, is another variation. His site is upland from the shore, in a large muskeg meadow and he has focused on his organic garden and fashioning a summer only, outdoor living kind of retreat. He has many roofs but few walls. He has a wood fired hot tub and a propane stove and oven but only a small solar panel to charge his cell phone. There is no generator, but there is a monster rope swing. Rick, and his friends, have carried everything up to his land over a half mile trail that is still rough enough that one cannot use a wheelbarrow. Priorities get defined by such limitations.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Spanish Immersion Camp

Ray and I spent a week speaking Spanish with some other folks from Juneau. The camp was nearby on Shelter Island at the cabin owned by Ray's Spanish teacher. It was very wet. The land is mostly muskeg (aka swamp) and it rained hard most of the time we were there. Our tent was warm and dry, though, and the camaraderie of our fellow campers more than made up for the dank and dreary conditions.

There was music. A saxophone sounds great coming through the trees. I'd never heard a bassoon in the woods before, and though guitar music in the forest was not a first for me, it always sounds perfectly right. "Guantanamera" and "Friend of the Devil" were played at midnight. Ben Harper songs were sung at sunset on the beach in a strong, clear voice. I should have asked Ricardo for my favorite Leon Russell song, "Back to the Island". I'm sure he knows it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Estonian Garden Wrap

Pattern: Estonian Garden Wrap
Design: Evelyn Clark
Yarn: Fino - Alpaca with a Twist
70% Alpaca - 30% Silk
One skein
Needles: US 5

This went in the mail today. I knit it for a September bride, the daughter of our friends. Her mom chose the pattern and the yarn; I knit it up without changing a thing.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Furniture, Lighting and Tile

We spent another week at the cabin. The work is satisfying at this stage; the projects get started and completed in a few hours or a day and the progress is always visible.

There are new lights:

We made nightstands out of scrap lumber:

We also laid some tile under the woodstove. We have some more to do on the wall behind the stove - photo to follow.

I think the most fun is transforming rough lumber. I remember, once when I was twenty something, receiving a letter from my auntie who was in her eighties. She wrote "I am having fun with my new barometer." I was floored by how narrow life gets for old people and I laughed and laughed. Now, in my fifties, I am tempted to write "I am having fun with my new doweling jig." Life is narrowing right down. But - fun is fun.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Bench

We have spent every weekend and holiday at the cabin and just returned from a vacation week as well. Dave's job keeps us in Juneau otherwise, but the floatplane makes coming and going much more convenient. So far the weather has not interfered with flying.

Our biggest chore was applying stain and sealer to all of the wood upstairs. It was nice to finish that job and move on to making furniture, which I really enjoy. We used some off cuts to make this rustic boot bench, built one shelf and got started on two bedside tables. There are more tables and bookcases coming up.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Carpentry at the Cabin

We finished nine windows at the cabin last weekend. We used the planer, the jointer, three saws, two sanders and a nail gun and all of the tools were powered by the sun.

The window trim makes a big difference upstairs. It seemed like the work was going slowly day by day because we ran out of material and had to scrounge for wood under the shop. By the end of the three days, though, the progress was visible and satisfying. Dave and I both like that kind of work and we do well together. It was a good time.

Ray's idea of a good time involved his .22 rifle and a box of 525 shells. He shot into cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and various other targets. He also built boats out of duct tape, wood scraps and nails, and sent them sailing from one dock to the other.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Conwy Socks

Pattern: Conwy
Nancy Bush, Knitting on the Road

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock
Color: Pioneer

Needles: US 1

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

African Stories

I went to a talk at the University recently given by two men from Sudan. They were some of the "lost boys". Separated from their parents as children, they walked barefoot hundreds of miles at night, while being hunted by enemy soldiers. They recounted a life growing up in refugee camps, a life of hunger and deprivation. They decided early on that education was to be their father and mother. They have written a book.

Paul Rusesabagina also wrote a book, An Ordinary Man, which I finished not long ago. I then listened to the recorded version of the book, just to hear the sound of his voice and how some of the local names were pronounced. His story inspired the movie, Hotel Rwanda, so, of course, I rented the DVD and watched it. It was not too graphic, considering the subject is genocide.

Initially, I felt like getting on a plane and going to Rwanda to volunteer. The Internet allowed me to read some journals of Americans and Canadians who are doing just that. I felt less like going after a bit. So much of the volunteer experience is getting to know other volunteers and going on side trips and bonding with like minded people. Also, we carry so much of ourselves and our culture along when we go to "help". One woman wrote of being there at Easter and organizing an Easter egg hunt for an orphanage. She noticed the kids went along with it all and had fun, but really what they wanted was to eat the eggs. They didn't get eggs very often.

Mr. Rusesabagina has established a foundation to aid in the rebuilding of Rwanda and to care for orphaned and ostracized children. The website is here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Lake Report

The ice went out on Monday and we flew in to the cabin on Thursday. We were ready. The lake looks good with a float plane in the foreground.

Some of the neighbors reported finding collapsed porches, missing docks and broken trailer axles but we were lucky this year. All that heavy snow just melted away and our buildings, docks and boats were undamaged.

We spent two hours the first morning digging snow from the beach and inching our pontoon boat back into the water. It started right up and we got everything else up and running. I moved some firewood which wasn't the first time this particular pile has been moved. We are still burning wood from clearing the building site five years ago. It will last us quite a while.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Kid Falderal

The school year is winding down and some of the annual rituals and ceremonies are taking place. Ray was recognized with a fine certificate for his achievements in math. He placed second in the fourth grade in his school and was suitably proud. His friend, Jamie, got a medal for being first in fourth grade and another medal for beating all of the fifth graders as well.

The school district makes a fuss about math, which is cool. The kids like the awards and the cookies and the attention. It doesn't cost much in time or money and one hopes that the little nerds are encouraged. There was also a demonstration by the middle school competitive math team which was engaging for all of us. Who doesn't want to beat a 12 year old to the right answer?

Katherine, eight years older, went to the prom. Her achievements in math this year are certificate worthy, but what she wants is that other piece of paper - the diploma. In three more weeks, she will be walking across the stage with a tasseled square hat on her head.