Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hat Factory - Baby Version

A friend at work has a new grandson and she asked if she could pay me to make him a hat. Well, no, I'll make a few hats and you can pass on some good will somewhere else in lieu of cash. Grandma wanted red and grey.

I bought three balls of yarn for $20 and made six hats, adding in some leftovers from the yarn drawer for the stripes. They are all basic hats, made from knitting formulas rather than patterns, and sized with the idea that they will be given to the parents when the baby is small and they are bound to fit at some point. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cape Flattery

When you get cabin fever from a long and dreary winter, it doesn't really help to spend the weekend at the Washington coast. It does get you out of the house, though, and out on the road - and when you get back to work, you have something to talk about in the break room.

Cape Flattery, the intersection of the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, has always seemed like a particularly interesting place. Big water meets huge shipping channel - it is a gateway from the big wild that leads all the way to the bright lights of the big city. Tatoosh Island stands guard with its lighthouse, just off the point, and you can look out to sea and imagine all of the mariners tales and the many centuries of Makah history. There aren't many roads or towns in the area; there is, however, a lot of rain forest and moss. The Cape Flattery point of land is Makah Indian Reservation and it is pretty much surrounded by national forest land and Olympic National Park. It is hard to miss the impact that logging has had on the region and there is still a strong footprint of shipping and industry. 

Port Angeles

Port Angeles 
We visited a great museum in Neah Bay, the Makah Cultural and Research Center. It houses many artifacts, centuries old, recovered from a village at Ozette which gave us a good look at many of the accomplishments of the native peoples. The full size longhouse was fabulous and the replica cedar canoes were magnificent; the lines of the whaling boat were absolutely perfect. A good museum exhibit can transport you back in time and I looked at that exquisite boat and thought about the huge cedar tree that had stood in the woods, not too far from the beach, being selected by craftsmen who would transform it into the beauty that sat before me. Every detail would be fashioned with tools made only of wood and stone, and the boat would be launched on that rugged coast and the men would go out with paddles to harpoon whales. One of the descriptions of the whale hunt left me stunned - "A diver was assigned to go overboard and sew the dead whale's mouth shut, to keep it from sinking on the tow back to the shore." What a task! It is unimaginable even with modern boats and equipment. 

The hike out to the Cape is short with a good boardwalk trail. It wasn't quite the geographically magical spot I had imagined because the walk ends on a small platform perched on a cliff. The nearby town had felt so quiet and deserted but there were plenty of other folks around on the trail and out at the point so the feeling of expansiveness I was expecting just wasn't there. The seas were calm and there was no wind. I imagine it would feel quite different on a stormy day or in a small boat.

Tatoosh Island

Cape Flattery
Cape Flattery is a seasonal place and most of the tourist related businesses were shuttered for the winter. We found a nice cabin out on Hobuck Beach which was uncrowded and came with two resident dog companions.

Hobuck Beach Resort
Hobuck Beach

Hobuck Beach
All in all, it was a good trip and we learned quite a bit about a remote corner of the country. As the pictures show, there are a lot of green trees and grey skies out there. Descriptive words kept running through my head - damp, decay, dank, decrepit, dilapidated. Hand lettered signs were posted around the village of Neah Bay with slogans like "Don't meth up your teeth" and "Use your brain. Don't fry it". We saw no signs of gentrification and we had a strong wish to get back home and check for moss on our roof. 

It didn't look too bad...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February Bee Blocks

This month, our quilting group was asked to make blocks using the same colors as those assigned in the QuiltCon block challenge.  

Mary Anne, the quilter designing the quilt, chose this tutorial for the blocks. She asked for prints and specified how to orient the four squares. They were super easy to make and will look really nice once all the various blocks are assembled and quilted. 

Here are the two that I made. I will be mailing them out to Austin, Texas today!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SKYP Socks

I like to try out new yarns that I haven't used before and bought this soft and pretty yarn online. The shop is located in Gridley, California, near where I grew up so that was part of the appeal. Why on earth that matters is the subject for some psychology student, not me. I just thought, Gridley! How cool, though once I thought about it, I realized I have never left the freeway to see the town; it really is just a road sign that was close to home. Also, I think there is some old high school attitude buried in there somewhere; we must have played basketball against them or something. Gridley...just a name, but now a place to order yarn.

If you want both of your socks to be the same color, however, this is not the pair for you. They were both knit from the same skein (of course) but the hand dyeing process must have been unbalanced or something because the end of the skein was quite different from the beginning. The colors are rich and varied and there was no pooling or odd effects so it was nice to knit along and watch the colors change. I chose an uncomplicated pattern, Simple SKYP Socks, one that wouldn't compete with the dyes, but did these toe up with a short row heel.

The yarn is Beurre, a three-ply fingering weight 100% superwash merino wool. The color is Prairie. Here is the link for the online shop. Go Gridley!

Friday, February 08, 2013

California Solstice

Rancho Palos Verdes
Just before Christmas, we took a trip to Southern California. Ray and I flew down to LA, where we met Dave, who was finishing up a motorcycle trip to Mexico. He had the truck and camper down there already (with the bike on a trailer) so we were all set up to cruise and camp, road-trip style, all the way back home.

Watching the skateboarders
We spent a few days in the LA area, staying with Dave's sister and family in their small apartment with a killer view. Dave's parents were there, as well, so we baked cookies and feasted on treats and holiday meals. It was energizing, somehow, just to see so many palm trees swaying and flowers blooming and oranges and lemons hanging heavy from branches in December. The sun was shining and we shed our sweatshirts and coats and went out each day to a different beach.

Oh, yes, I do like your music!

My new look for Venice Beach
We drove north from LA on Christmas Day and it didn't seem crowded or smoggy or anything unpleasant. It was all glittery light and the air was soft and warm. I may have had my blinders on but it just seemed like we were moving through the mythical California, the land of milk and honey. 

San Simeon State Park

Hearst's Castle

San Bruno National Cemetery
Remembering the parents

San Francisco
Trinket from Chinatown