Saturday, April 20, 2013


G'day all!

It has been a very disturbing week.  Not only have I been coming off the high from last week, but things like the Boston marathon bombings, the explosion in West and then earthquake in China - normally I try not to let things in the news disturb me, but this week I've been a bit vulnerable and some of the news has been quite shocking.  I'm still feeling a bit off-balance.

I'm probably in pretty good company though, aren't I?

So when the going gets tough, the tough start knitting madly.  This week I've knitted two cowls and finished off another massive one (that I am likely to rip out and redo in another way, now that I've worked out what that way should be).

Do not adjust your eyes,
well maybe put sunglasses on

IRL the yarn is neon yellow and green.

I've been planning to knit a Norwegian sweater ever since Syttende Mai last year, when there were not enough handknitted Norwegian sweaters on display at the parade.  Well I finally got some yarn together and with less than a month to go, cast on.  Nothing like giving myself a challenge!

Since 5pm, I've managed to cast on 265 stitches, do five rows of ribbing and then three rounds (yep, it is joined and will be steeked!) of pattern.  It has taken me over five hours to do that much, but I did get heavily distracted for over an hour and then had to cook and eat dinner and watch Man Lab as well.  Once I am past the first fifteen rows of checkerboard knitting, only every fifth row needs two handed knitting (hooray!) until I get to the main pattern, which is only 15 rows long.   I only have something like 110 or so rows to go on the body (and they should speed up a little when I move to larger needles where the stitches won't be so tight with not as much patterning), and then the sleeves and then the steeking and the button bands and the neckband... so not much more to go!  Tally ho!

At the knitting retreat, people exclaimed over my knitting speed but I'm no speedster, just faster than them.  I would need to modify my technique further to make it really speedy.  Even so, wish me luck, I think I'll be knitting a vest.  LOL

I'm starting to think I should go and knit in the very local LYS more often.  I should get out more and meet more people.  I'm still pretty isolated here but I fill it with busy-ness, making things, adding to my stashes to the point where I'm starting to not want to buy stuff any more.  Yes, I have enough stuff (though when faced with prettiness in the yarn shop in Friday Harbor, well we did have an accident there... and I had to buy some local Lopez Island yarn from the stall Maxine from ?Lopez? brought across.  And of course I had to buy some more yarn for the Norwegian sweater because I needed the right blue, Norwegian blue.  There's a joke in that!).  Last week, hanging out with so many knitters, having so many people around was a wonderful thing.  I am an introvert, I do need me time but I also started growing up as part of a household of six people and there was always noise, always drama until I was 13, the last of the kids to be at home (I'm a bit younger than my siblings).  It was nice to have chatter, to be able to help people and see new things and see people expanding their horizons and taking on challenges that a week before would've terrified them.  I need to get out into that more.

I have to say that I am pretty chuffed at the reactions to the photos I took on the islands.  I haven't put all of them up on my Flickr page as I don't have permission to share all of the people pics.  Some people really like them, they say they are really good, that I'm a good photographer.  I'm not used to being praised for anything - being so much younger than my siblings meant I was always playing catch up footy as we term it.  Yay me, I can walk at nine months but I have to learn to run because I can't keep up with my siblings if I don't.  Yay me, I can talk in complete sentences at whatever age but noone can hear me anyway because my next up sister won't shut up.  Yay me I'm reading the newspaper before I go to school.   I was always aware that even though I was good for my age in certain things, I was terrible in others and totally hopeless compared to siblings 5, 11 and almost 13 years older than me.  So praise makes me blush because I'm not that good - if I was, I'd be out taking award winning pics and making megabucks or I'd be curing cancer or making a difference to the world around me some way.  Then again, I admit that whilst I'm not that good, I still share pics and stuff with you.  I can't help but seek praise, try to master something, try to demonstrate my worth and my value through material prowess.  I want to be noticed (younger sibling syndrome much?).  At the same time, I don't study some of these things on my own and try to perfect the craft.  I'm leery of such things - perfectionism has caused me major amounts of grief in the past and I've had to learn to let such things go.  It's finding the middle road that is hard.

Speaking of family, my brother recently had a major birthday.  A Big One.  Of course I couldn't be there but I sent him a quilt.  LOL - I paid through the nose for fast shipping but because of Easter (which is a four day public holiday in Oz), it didn't get there until after his birthday.  You may be able to guess that he likes a certain cartoon character.

Fancy machine sewn binding

The back?  The front?

Or is this the back?  Or the front?
Yep, I made him a double sided Snoopy/Peanuts (tm!) quilt.  My goodness this thing ate so much fabric!  I thought it would be simple and quick but then suddenly I needed more and more and more fabric, and I started using fabric that was for other projects and had to go back and get more fabric twice!  Then again, it pretty much covers a double bed - one more row and it would've.  Building the log cabin style blocks I thought would be quick but nope, lots of ironing (oops, pressing) and sewing happened, and I thought I'd never finish cutting fabric into strips and then joining the strips together and sewing them onto the block....  I think I had to wind three bobbins of cotton for all of the piecing.  After all of that, I was exhausted when it came to quilting so I kept it simple and just did "straight" lines in one direction.

He emailed me and said he liked it and it was sitting on his armchair, waiting for cold weather to come along.

Is it surprising that I gave my brother a "childish" thing?  I tend to see being an adult is full of enough crap as it is (eg I have to go have a colonoscopy soon, when I arrange it.  I won't be full of crap then!  I have to see a dermatologist about my moles and I seem to be developing rosacea in response to cold weather/wind burn).  So why not mix it up, make it a bit more fun, do something silly or childish (as long as it doesn't hurt other people)?  Wear brightly coloured socks, wear something that gives you a thrill or makes you feel special, do something fun, brighten someone else's day with a quick witty quip or a kind act.

Anyway, time to bid you toodle pip, what ho and take me off to bed.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Describing the indescribable

G'day all!

I was told that I would not have words to describe this last week, and well, whoever told me that, they were right!

I arrived in the evening at Lakedale Resort, along with three other later arrivals, after catching the 4:30 ferry and having dinner.  All bar one of the other attendees were sitting around chatting in the gathering space.  Cat (Bordhi, the organiser and leader and teacher of the retreat) asked each of us to introduce ourselves and relate how we learned to knit, and the stories began to unfold.

Hmm, hope this size doesn't overrun the edge of the blog.  Lakedale Lodge.

And over the next four days something magical happened.  We became a group.  We chatted, we laughed, we ate together, we learned about each other to a greater or lesser extent, we learned... some of us didn't get enough sleep for either staying up and knitting and chatting or reading uninterrupted by family or other pressures.  We ate magnificently, thanks to our caterer, Deb Nolan, who cooked us wonderful lunches and dinners.

We heard stories that inspired us, saw the knitters around us growing and developing skills they never thought they could.

We introduced a couple, Mags and Jim, to the wonders of knitting.  They run a non-profit yarn company (Frog Tree), amongst other things, and clearly had decided it was time to learn more about their yarn.  They told their story, and enriched the group immensely.  And after some tutoring could cast on and knit.

It is much easier to describe the afternoons.  These were free - we could do whatever we liked, whether it was sitting in a paddle boat and making our way around the lake, wandering in the forest with its early spring leaves sprouting, contemplating the lake, napping, or getting away from the resort and exploring the island.

I am sure you can guess what I did.  I left the paddle boat this time around, though it was very tempting.

San Juan Island is the most westerly of the San Juan islands.   If you stand on the west coast, you can wave to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada just across the strait.  I have a cousin who lives in Victoria on Vancouver Island, though I don't think she saw me waving ;-)

Also, if you are on the west coast, your phone thinks you are in Canada and wakes itself up (out of flight mode!) and gives you a cheery welcome to Canada, please pay through the nose for all data communications.

The weather was lovely in the afternoon on the first day, so I decided to drive around the island and stop at anything that looked picture-skew.  (Other people might say picturesque.)  All these pics, as is mostly the case on the blog, are from the phone and not retouched.  I'll get an album of the big camera pics up on Flickr soon.

Lime Kiln lighthouse was probably the highlight of that trip,

More picture-skewness.

Lime Kiln lighthouse. 
Vancouver Island is in the background.

though I did rather like this pretty little lake

I may like panoramas too much.

and Roche Harbor was very picture-skew and I suspect quite pricey as well.

Think I like flowers too?

There is no escape from flower pics on this blog.

Then next day it rained a bit and was not a great day for sight seeing.  That was ok, cos I wanted a comfy pillow (my version of comfy) and after only finding a twin pack of pillows in Friday Harbor, went to the craft shop and bought the makings of a small pillow - flannelette (flannel), which I washed and dried, needles, thread and stuffing.  And gosh it is a nice little pillow.

Me and my pillow.
That fabric had been waiting for me.

Wednesday afternoon was glorious, so I went to the south west corner of the island to take pics of Cattle Point lighthouse.  After all, I had taken pics of it from the whale watching boat last August.  Halfway down the coast I realised it was very very very windy.  I got out of the car at a lookout and nearly got blown away.  Despite how people apparently see me, I am not a featherweight and when the wind gusted, it was all I could do to stay on my feet.

And it was worse at Cattle Point, a mile down the road.

The grass is being blown flat, making a hoopy blurry effect in the pic

It wasn't so windy here.

Yes, yes, I know, not a panorama....

This isn't open water, it's a strait.

It was so much fun - exhilarating to be honest.  When the wind is so strong that you can barely hold on to the camera, barely stay on your feet let alone walk into it - I felt like I was running as fast as I could but I was really just trudging into the wind... I was laughing like a child.

The seas were tremendously rough and you would've had to be a very brave, more likely foolhardy, person to take on the waters between Cattle Point and ?Goat? Island.

Ok, that isn't between Cattle Point and Goat
Island but you get the idea.

Thursday afternoon, a group of us got on the interisland ferry and tootled around on that.  Pity that my big camera's battery had pretty much given up the ghost and the battery I had borrowed was soon on its last legs - it wasn't charged fully when I got it.  I had to resurrect the old point and shoot by giving it fresh batteries but better some pics than none.  And the phone was doing its best too.  We saw dolphins and a couple of seals on that trip, but the dolphins were the best.  No pics of the small pod of dolphins - the big camera was on its battery's last legs and the other cameras were too slow.

Pulling out of Shaw Island.

A cute little island

Pulling out of Orcas Island.
Note the concentration on that knitter's face.

The marina at Friday Harbor

By Thursday, I was rather dreading the next day, all of us breaking up and going our separate ways.  For days, I had had nothing better to do than sit around and knit and yack, or go sightseeing.  My food was prepared for me, the dishes done, the cleaning done for me... Lovely!

So Friday morning came, as is inevitable, and we started saying goodbyes, and it was all rather traumatic.  The weather agreed that things were very sad - it started raining and did not stop all day.  Even more traumatic was not having my passport with me and being on the international ferry (there's a ferry each day that goes from Anacortes, USA, to Sidney, Canada, via Friday Harbor, my embarkation point).  I should carry it all the time but well I wasn't because it is an important document and I'm afraid of having it stolen and I'd forgotten it is a legal requirement and I can be chucked out of the States if I don't have it with me.  And I thought the border control agent wouldn't let me back in.  I'd been told all I needed was picture ID.  I carry my driver's licence 99% of the time (not to the gym or the market) and for Americans, that is enough.  But I am not American and have to show that I am legally here.  It was one helluva kick in the teeth after the warm fuzzies of the week, a reminder that this is not my home and that I do not always understand how things work.  Admittedly at home I am a citizen, but unlike many countries, I don't need to carry around papers saying that.  I just carry my driver's licence if I'm going to be driving, or some cash/card if I'm just popping out to the shops on foot.  And I open my mouth and my accent says a lot.

DH survived by going out for dinner every night and leaving the washing up he promised to do.  He managed to get as far as opening the dishwasher door and leaving it open.

And now things are back to normal, and those nearly five days are just memories.  Amazing memories.

I signed up for the second Spring retreat next year :-)  I hope to see some of my new knitting buddies again.  And as one of them said, it's only eleven and three quarter months away!


Sunday, April 07, 2013

Friday Harbor

G'day all!

I am sitting in the Rumor Mill in Friday Harbor (yes, I am using the american spelling as both are names spelt in the local fashion) on San Juan island.  I have already discovered that at this time of the season, ninety percent of the eateries are closed... But this place can feed me!

The ferry ride was tranquil. Once we got into the rain shadow it was much nicer and drier.  Within five minutes of getting on the boat I had located another knitter headed for the retreat and then late in the ride realised I could see two more knitters.

I have no idea if the pics are good or not, I'm on the phone and pics on the phone are always interesting to integrate into a post or even view properly (eg, one of those pics is a panorama, or should be but I can't see it).

I am hoping to stay connected with the outside world via internet whilst I'm away. The resort doesn't have mobile coverage but does have wireless internet and I brought the work laptop. What, you think I can spend five days without the net?


Saturday, April 06, 2013

A whale of a time

G'day all!

Last Saturday I took DH, a friend and me up to Everett.  LOL, we had an adventure getting there....  A massive navigation fail.  I thought it was odd that we were leaving I5 before we got to Everett but eh, what do I know about driving around the place compared to phone navigation?  We had a nice tour of a very exclusive part of umm Mukilteo I think it was.  Also the google maps voice kept saying muke-ill-teo, like mucus, but it seems to be said muckle-teo locally.  All because the W (for west) and one digit of the address were wrong.

But we made it to the boat in plenty of time.

The fog that had been drifting around lifted and the sun started shining and DH was in a snot about something he couldn't change, and both Q and me worked at him until he decided being snotty wasn't helping and started enjoying the day.  Seeing whales helped, but it still was jolly cold out on the water so he watched mostly from the warmth of the cabin.

We departed on a three hour tour.
A three hour tour...

Thank heavens the weather didn't start getting rough.  And we weren't on the Minnow.

And we had a whale of a day!  We saw four different whales.  I shall bore you with pics :-)

That whale was puffing hard!
Lifting up in front of Mt Baker

And diving in front of Mt Baker

Two whales side by side.  BTW, their blow reeks.
A table top?

No, a grey whale tail.
I also have pics of various sail boats and other things that I could bore you with, but I shall forebear.  Actually, some of the pics of the ?sealions? were pretty amusing - they like to sleep on the 44 gallon type drum floats at the entrance to the navy shipyard.  Most of the beasts look like deflated toys that had melted in the sun but a few were a bit animated cos there can only be one on each of the floats.

DH was away for most of that week - he went to Chattanooga and came back raving about the food.  I admit the last thing I expected was that he would rave about the food.  He was also a bit freaked after being driven from Atlanta when their plane was diverted to North Carolina.  Apparently driving at high speed is fairly normal there.  And it snowed.  He had been told he should expect lovely spring weather.  Well he got lovely winter weather instead.  Just as well he was inside for most of the day....

So I was home by myself and bored.  I made a quilt.  A very simple quilt that I have taken very bad phone pics of under artificial light whilst stretching up trying to get as much quilt in as possible.  Apologies for the bad quality... but you get the idea!
Most of the quilt, missing the blue end.

The back of the quilt, well part of it.

Blue quilting!  Fuzzy!

Green quilting, sharp!

Red quilting, in focus!
I kept plugging away at some knitting projects too but they seem to be never ending.  I thought they would take a little less time, being a smoke ring and a pair of socks.

I think you need some images of Spring.  The Quad at UW was absolutely spectacular last weekend.  The cherries were in full bloom, the skies were blue and it was amazing.  See how I managed not to get very few people in these pics?  It took a lot of effort.  There were even people climbing the trees.

This little pic shows the truth.  I think there must've been about 2,000 people there, all taking pics of the trees, climbing in them, taking pics of family and friends....
The Quad was crowded.

We also wandered around a bit - we had a friend visiting and showed her some of the sights.

Lake Union and Seattle from Gas Works Park.

A random pic from a very low tide at Golden Gardens.
Time is flitting past.  About five months ago, I heard about Cat Bordhi's knitting retreat up on San Juan Island.

It seemed like ages away.  I was so excited that I managed to get into one.

It starts tomorrow.  Well really on Monday morning but I have to leave for it tomorrow afternoon.  I have to drive up to Anacortes and then catch a car ferry to Friday Harbor and thence my accommodation.  I have to find some dinner too.

The ferry trip apparently takes about 80 minutes.  This could be an issue. 

Y'see I love being on ferries.  You should see how tired I get in a half hour ferry ride, pretty much running from one end of the boat to the other and taking millions of not very good and often very wonky photos.  The only good thing might be that the weather forecast is pretty woeful and it is likely to be persisting down.  If I can't see anything apart from grey, I probably won't scuttle from one end of the boat to the other and might even manage to sit down for more than ten seconds before bouncing up again like a five year old hepped up on red lollies and cordial.

We shall see!

After a couple of weeks of beautiful weather, the clouds have come over and dumped a lot of rain on us.  The cherry blooms are destroyed, but we have pictures and memories.

DH and I - pretty as a picture.  Maybe.

Or autumn, depending...