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Friday, July 25

Of Blueberries and of Lace...

Well, it sounds like a good title! Kind of Victorian or something.

Click on pics for a larger view...

Of B
lueberries: we have 4 or 5 blueberry bushes in our fenced-in garden. Basically every other year we have a bumper crop. I've read that honey bees are the number one pollinators of blueberries, and with the tremendous loss of honey bees in New England and the U.S., J and me were really worried about getting many berries--and big ones at that. Well, take a look at this bowl of berries! They are huge! (Note: that's a quarter in the bowl.) J's been picking them (and blackberries) for a couple of weeks now (he's the #1 berry picker in this house), and I've been reaping the benefits of his hard work and time amidst the prickly bushes. Don't worry--I do a fair share of the work! I do all the canning and preserving (including occasional blueberry jam!). The really talented hard work.

Of Lace:
Sigh. I lost the 'Sunray Shawl' I started in May. Somewhere between here and Easton (NY) it disappeared. I've also ditched the 'Rose of England' for a spell, as it was too frustrating to accomplish with dull needles. So, I found 'Springtime' from the same book by Marianne Kinzel: First Book of Modern Lace Knitting.

This pattern is a square one (the 'ROE' was round) and a lot more fun--but maybe I will bore of it too
soon? I'm using the dusty rose alpaca/merino lace from

The second picture is a shot of the pic in the book. The last picture is a closeup of the center square, which is the part I have finished, chart A.

So, as you can see, there is lots more to do! But it's fun...

Note to self: less Plurking and more Etsying (putting my stuff on my Etsy site)

Wednesday, July 23

RU Plurking?

Blame Jason on this one, really. Seems I'm having a midlife crisis or something. Like I really need yet another techno thingy in my life! I mean, i just starting blogging about three months ago. I was talking to Jason (of Jason Knits) in Cali last night, and he asked me if I had heard about Plurk yet. Well, I had just heard about Twitter about a month ago--now I gotta plurk?

After seeing a news story last night about using Twitter for feedback on customer service, I decided that now everyone will be using it so I'll pass up on that. Like, I had bypassed both Facebook and Myspace (too adolescent for me I guess), and Twitter is going to be Uber popular now (probably be bought up by Coke or Uni or some huge mega global conglomerate thing), that I should jump in on the Plurk bandwagon. So, I'm Vtknitboy on plurk. There you go!

Thursday, July 17

What's a Stash?

Lol. In the '70s and '80s, a "stash" meant something far different from what we knitters and spinners call a stash these days! I'll let your imagination wander. My purchased yarn stash is on a spreadsheet--over 85,000 yards of it! I woke up at 2 am and thought, what's the conversion to miles? So I grabbed my handy-dandy cell phone and punched in the numbers into my unit converter and came up with, gulp, 48.28 miles! Phew! Now that's a stash!

So, someone asked me how much fiber (unspun) stash do I have? Here's what I found around the house in terms of roving (in ounces):

7 white alpaca, 2 superfine brown alpaca, .5 superfine camel down, 3 dk brown alpaca, 3 quanaco, 16 super soft fawn Icelandic wool, 16 super soft silver gray wool/merino blend, 3.25 gray and color silk/merino, 23 superfine white something—alpaca?, 1 white angora, 10 black lamb’s wool, 12 silver grey silk/wool, 6 white alpaca, 20 silver/grey wool, 12 jet black lamb’s wool, 32 dk brown lamb’s wool, 48 dk brown lamb’s wool (different shade), 16 black gray wool, 32 white friesian sheep wool, 32 white sheep wool (low grade), 8 lt brown camel top, 4 gray alpaca (northstaralpacas), 4white huacaya alpaca/merino (northstaralpacas), 4 black blend (luke: northstaralpacas), 7 green/purple merino top, 4 teal/purple soysilk/merino, 4 white Shetland.

That's roughly 330 ounces, or about 20 pounds of fiber. I think I can get a couple of sweaters out of this... ; )

And then, there are over 5 fleeces in the garage not washed yet, and some other roving, but nothing fabulous--that's all in the house. Oh yeah, then I have about 2 pounds of cotton, in various blends...

J says "sell, sell, sell!"


Knit Witch Contest!

I found this on one of the blogs I visit, and heck, it looks easy and won't cost you a cent!

Check it out: Knit Witch Contest for a new yarn store opening up. Contest ends July 31st! Act quick! Amia Yarn Company.

They are concerned about American and local products. I share in those concerns!

Wednesday, July 16

Surprises and Gifts...

My partner thinks I have an over-abundance of yarn, rovings, and fleeces. (I do, and he would prefer that I start using up some of my stash before buying more.) But there's something about surrounding myself with these wonderful things that can be transformed into objects of beauty, function, and fashion--well, maybe not the fashion, this is Vermont, after all! I'm quite positive I lived during the 1880's through the 1930's. I have the "Depression Mentality" where I need to have dry and canned goods stocked up to take us through times of trouble, and I also am horribly drawn to the Victorian England time period (as a "Born to the Manor" type, of course.).

Click on pics for a larger view...

J and I try to do as much as we can to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. We hang laundry outside in the summer, have a small drying rack to dry hand towels, dish towels, etc., and have changed most of our light bulbs to the energy saving kind. (Although, we are both concerned about how to dispose of these when they die--they have mercury in them.)

So, (there was a point to this) I was out in the garage, fumbling through the stacks of boxes of yarn, rovings, and fleeces (sorry--no pic; it's way too messy) looking for this large wooden drying rack we had when we moved from Burlington to Jericho a bunch of years ago. Alas, I never found it, but I found that I had all this fiber I had totally forgotten about.

In the stacks I found (among tons of other great stuff): 2 pounds of dark brownish-gray wool roving (enough for a sweater, plus), 1 pound of Icelandic roving (unfortunately, it's the rough, long and itchy stuff), the Russian cashmere spindles I bought at SOAR '97 at Smugglers' Notch, a Judy's Kick 'n Spin spindle, a Takli and bowl (for spinning cotton), and 1 pound of mohair dyed pinkish red, and sky blue. What finds!

In today's mail, I received another box from Kenny in Houston--fabulous yarn for socks! Fibranatura Yummy 100% superwash wool, in turquoise blue, salmon-orange, browns and greens (I'm color blind--what do I know.), and a skein of Acquerello superwash wool/nylon hand-dyed in a deep, dark reddish brown. A color he promptly described as, well, blood-clot red. Tigger is in the above pic modeling the yarns. There are two pics of tigger, as he's so darn cute. Thanks to Kenny for the care package. You are a great friend!

And, you ask, why does Tigger look so grumpy in the pic with the yarn? Because I moved the newspaper he was sitting on so that I could take the pic! He will not sit on our laps, but the second a piece of newspaper is put down, he jumps right on it and curls up and takes a snooze! I was reading the paper and he decided to plop his royal butt right on the paper! He's really quite a character!

Knitting projects: I finished the second of the Jewelled Steps socks. Love. Them. Although I have to redo the bind-off. And, I started a pair of Monkey-Socks by Cookie A., but the toe-up version. Although, now that I've done 2 reps of the pattern, I kind of like the idea of the purled base under the "V" in the pattern. What do you think? Leave a comment!

I'm using the Audacity yarn by Black Bunny. She's a member of the Knitters for Obama group I'm in on And, she's fabulously talented. I'm doing the linen stitch on the bottom (see second sock pic) for more durability.

Oh, I almost forgot! In the Knitters for Obama group, we are doing a second fundraiser--an afghan of the U.S. flag. The red and white stripes consist of squares with raised reliefs of the states. J and I were on vacation in Seattle and Victoria, and they were so sweet to save Vermont for me to do! Woo hoo! Here's a pic of my square before I sent it, and a pic of all the squares before being sewn together by one of the group members.

A couple of my friends are experiencing some rough medical problems with family members, so I ask all my friends out there if you could take just a minute or two out of your hectic life and say a little prayer, meditate, or just send some positive, healing, and loving vibes out to the Universe.

Your thoughts would be much appreciated!

Peace and Love to you all!

Thursday, July 10

Government House Gardens, Victoria, BC

Oops! Forgot to add the write-up of the Government House Gardens!

The Government House Gardens, were just minutes from where we were staying in Victoria. While we thoroughly enjoyed the Butchart Gardens, we were amazed at the GHG! There were only about 15-20 people milling about the gardens, so we were able to enjoy the gardens at a leisurely, relaxed pace.


Gardens of Victoria and Vancouver Island

Two major highlights of our trip out west were to the famous Butchart Gardens, a short drive from Victoria, and the Government House Gardens, just minutes from where we were staying in Victoria. The gardens offered a wide variety of views and perspectives for differing tastes and interests; from rock and cliff gardens, shade and wet gardens, to Japanese, Italian, and other formal designs.

Top three pics are in the Japanese Garden at BG

ETA: I just received an e-mail from Graham Bell, the Advertising & Promotions coordinator at BG, who pointed out a couple of errors pertaining to driving distance and costs, along with some suggestions for enjoying the gardens at less visited times (such as first thing in the morning, or early afternoon).

Wow, I had just barely posted this entry! The miracles of modern technology. I thank him for his astuteness, as I certainly wouldn't want to post inaccurate information. The paragraph above has been edited to delete the inaccurate information...

Pics at right are in the formal garden and Italian Garden

I'm going to have to cull about 400 pics to 8 or 9, so if you would like more, just e-mail me and I'll send you a batch!

Next four pics are in the sunken garden.

There were also lots of annuals just planted--geraniums and many other flowers. They are probably just blooming now! I can just imagine beds of color, streaming around the bottom of groups of trees, bushes, and perennials.

Sigh, only about 1/2 of the stuff we saw are able to safely grow in our planting zone...but, hey, with global warming, in perhaps another ten years I can plant some of them! lol. (not really lol.)

This was just stunning. The flowers were gorgeous, and one thing I really appreciated are the layers of color and texture of the evergreens, interspersed with deciduous trees and bushes. Seriously, I have oddles and oddles of fabulous pics. If you want more...

And, the trip sock update

I decided to continue my quest to finish unfinished objects/projects, and instead of starting the Rose of England again (which I shredded last night), I picked up the second Jewelled Steps sock. I started the expansion arch last night, and finished it plus started the heel. I love, love, love knitting socks with the two circs! No more DPNs! (double pointed needles for non knitters...)

Note: click on pics for larger view...

If you remember, our trip left us in Port Angeles, Washington. It's now Friday morning (June 20th) and we have ferry reservations to Victoria, BC. Above is a pic of the mountains as we are leaving the port. That's Washington, US.

We were eagerly anticipating the Victoria harbour, which had been much ballyhooed. However, neither one of us were thrilled. It was overbuilt with hotels and condos, and took away from the dramatic presence of the Empress Hotel and other old buildings. But, it was still kind of cool to ferry on in, waving at people in smaller boats and such. Not being a sailor, I guess that's the sea-farin' protocol!

Jeff successfully negotiated driving our rental car out of the ship's hull, and we took off for our B&B, Trutch Manor.

I was pretty tired, and my general rule of thumb is to find the hotel/B&B, make a pot of tea and put my feet up. We were only blocks away from the B&B, and I called them to let them know we had arrived.

Here's some pics of the B&B, with the welcome committee of the neighbor's cat and a stray! Cute. We stayed in The Parlour. For better pics and a panoramic view, click on the link...

One thing we both enjoyed about Victoria was the flowers and gardens. So many of the homes were surrounded by flowers: plantings, on the lawn, in buckets, arbors, arches, etc. And lots of flowers were in bloom. We are in zone 3b in Jericho, Vermont, and it fluctuates from 3a-4a depending on the year. I think Victoria is like zone 7! It's not how hot it gets, rather the minimum average low. Sigh.

Many, many pics of the flowers, building, and gardens to appear shortly! Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 3

Jewelled Steps Socks Update...

Here are some pics of the Jewelled Steps socks I'm working on, from Cat Bordhi's "Pathways" sock book. For some reason, my brain just can't figure out the instructions for readjusting the stitches prior to working the heel.

I have the hardest time doing it! Maybe because I'm left handed and right-brained. For the Coriolis socks it was an agonizing 1.5 hours. For this sock last night was an hour. I think I am doing the reverse in my head. The pics of the needles is backwards for me. I have to look at the knitting from the view as I am knitting them, so moving the markers to the left would be to the right for me. I basically just gave up and put the marker 10 sts to the left of the steps, then added 15 for the wings.

Click on pics for larger view...

In the top pic you can see the expansion stitches nicely fan out on the inside (left side) of the right foot sock. Nice.

In the middle pic (I just updated this post with the new pics), you can see the steps, and the expansion section clearly. I like how this runs on the inside left flank of the right sock. Hopefully this will be mirrored in the left foot sock!

I decided to add a 3x2 rib on the cuff, but only in the back of the sock. The steps continue on the front half.

Some other thoughts, the wraps for the steps are pretty small at sock weight yarn. I'd do 4 stitches and maybe wrap 3 times. And, it's way easier to do the wraps by putting the stitches on to a short cable needle, quickly wrapping the yarn around twice, and then knitting the stitches.

Just Pics...

Oympic Peninsula Drive Pics...

Top: drive out to Lake Crescent

Middle Row Left: drive to Lake Crescent

Middle Row Right: view through the pass

Bottom Row Left: the lake

Bottom Row Right: snow on the peaks

Oympic National Park and Beyond...

To recap: we landed in Seattle on Tuesday, spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle, hopped on the ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island on Thursday, and drove up to Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, where our journey continues...

Pics at the right are from the Lake Crescent drive. No captions needed! Click on for really great enlargements.

Port Angeles was kind of a dive (sorry to offend anyone from there!), but we took Rt. 101 out to Lake Crescent, which was one of the most beautiful drives we have ever been one--bar none. The mountains loomed, the valleys were gorgeous, and Lake Crescent was stunning! The road hugged the south shore of the lake, and there were ample opportunities for vistas and snapshots. We stopped at just about every turnout, as the angles changed dramatically, and the views were truly breathtaking.

We stopped somewhere to take a, you know, rest stop--I think at Granny's Diner or something. It was a cute little place, full of antiques--really homey.

We made it about 1/2 way up the length of the lake, and made a little excursion to see some waterfalls, but the map detailing the hike said it was about 2 hours, which we didn't have. Check out the pic of the deer outside the warden's hut!

We headed back to Port A, and decided to go out to Ediz Hook to check out the rocks. Remember, Wendy of the S'Klallam tribe told us we should go out there to look for jade, agates, jasper, etc.

The drive out to the spit took us past the Nippon Paper plant. It was kind of weird. The road goes right smack through the middle of the buildings! Then, it's a cool drive way out into the bay, and ends up at the Coast Guard station. The views from out there were dramatic. I took more pics...some of the pics are the same as I took on the ferry from Port A to Victoria, but being on the spit, you're literally standing on this thin strip of dirt and rocks in the middle of the bay!

I decided on this trip I'd try to take some unusual pics. So I took closeups, pics from ground level, closeups of rocks, trigs, grass, trees, etc. Note that I did not rearrange anything. All objects were just as I saw them.

It was very windy out on the spit, and getting a little cold. Luckily I had an LL Bean Gore-Tex jacket with me! The view looking back at the mountains was just simply amazing! The mountains are, I believe, looking south at the Olympic Range.

We were both eagerly searching for rocks: I'm a rock-hound--I collect them from every beach, park, mountain, lake, city, etc., that we visit! I have them from Brighton, England; London, the gravel beneath the Eiffel Tower (really), the Cliffs of Dover, Chartres; outside the Taj Mahal, all the palaces in Jaipur, Rajasthan (in India), and tons of other places.

I believe in the spirituality of Nature. I love the Earth! And I enjoy collecting all the varieties of rocks I can find.

Oh! On this day it was Jeff's birthday! We headed back to the hotel and were trying to decide on a place to eat where Jeff could have his Pacific Northwest Salmon, or something dramatic like that. I was just about on my last leg of energy, and getting a bit bitchy. I just wanted to make a pot of tea and rest. We scoped out the restaurants on the route back to the hotel, and couldn't really find a place where we wanted to eat.

My mom had secretly given me some cash and a card for Jeff's birthday, which I stashed away in my carry-on. We both were kind of beat, and we ended up just getting carry away (take-out) from an Italian restaurant within walking distance. We thought we'd save the "birthday dinner" money for someplace more romantic or rememberable.

We sacked out, as we had to be at the docks really early the next morning for the ferry to Victoria....