Tuesday, September 04, 2018

 

WHALE OF A CRAFTING TIME

Juvenile Blue Whale Skeleton (photo by Lance Wallace) 

Yep. I love having my picture taken next to a whale skeleton. Why? Because I look so "petite" in comparison! It's not often that works out that way in photos.

Let's see, where was this taken? Blue skies, whales, dry grasses, trees, sandals, no sweating (low humidity) and my friend Sally. Sound good? Yes, it is California, specifically beautiful Santa Barbara at the Natural History Museum in town. We made a special trip to the museum because they have a wonderful display of Native California Indian basketry primarily from the Chumas Indians. Displayed in the Chumas Hall you can peer at these up close to see the intricate weaving. Unfortunately, my camera was out of battery but you can click on the link to see more.

I had a lovely week with my high school buddy out on the coast of California in July. It's amazing and comforting that after all those years apart, raising kids, pursuing careers, etc. we can get together and just pick up the friendship we had so many years ago. We share the same perspectives and values so that conversation was easy and oh so fulfilling. Now I am really biting at the bit to get our boat sold and move back to the West Coast where I belong with my old friends. Imagine, there were fresh oranges in the fruit bowl from the trees in the back yard! Yesterday here in Florida I had to pay $1.25 for a single naval orange.
Boho triple wrap bracelet

Sally had picked out a crafting project (!) for us to try together. We enjoyed a few hours of hunting for beads in a couple of small shops right at the beach - and of course picking up some REAL California style Mexican food at a small tienda in another coastal town. Yes. I ate the whole dang carne asada burrito in one sitting.

Secret Burrito hot spot
We spread our project supplies out on the coffee table and taught each other how to make these using some instructions that Sally had found. We picked up and worked on these intermittently during my visit whenever the mood struck one or both of us. There are many free tutorials for this sort of bracelet out there on the web.


I LOVE my bracelet and have been wearing it often this past month. Thank you Sally for inviting me to play with you!

Inspired by the success of a new crafting endeavor, I next tried to make an orb ornament with wings. This is a shameless copy of some I've seen on the internet. It's just thumbtacks stuck into a styrofoam ball with wings pinned on and a cord loop for hanging. I think it is something in the Harry Potter books for a game.
Anyway, I sealed the whole thing with craft varnish to ensure that the tacks stay put. I can't believe that I made the whole thing without stabbing myself even once! So, that was fun....what's next?

The Beekeepers Quit hex-puffs
More leftover sock yarn knitting has begun. These are hexi-puffs that are individually knit pockets, stuffed lightly with unspun wool. The pattern is available on Ravelry The Beekeepers Quilt. So far I have made 30 of these cuties and am about 8% done with what I need to create a warm afghan. Since there is no pressing deadline for these, I can just relax and crank out one or two in between other projects or when I'm out and about, waiting somewhere.

These socks were finally finished for dear husband Jonesy after being on the needles for over a year. The yarn did all the patterning for me, all I had to do was actually pick up the needles and knit. So, we lost one of his brand new hand knit socks in the laundry (grrrr), and another pair from 2006 bit the dust after being darned many times, so he needed these replacements for when it gets cold (as in below 70 degrees).

One of the projects that I took to California to work on during "quiet times" (like when I finally stop talking), was this Celtic Lattice Vest designed by Oberle. I had purchased her yarn at a knitting event many, many years ago, and finally started this in 2015. When I took it out, I noticed that not only did I not like how the stitches were so loose, but that I had also TWISTED at the join to work in the round. AGH!

So, I patiently sat and unknit (tinked) back all of the 5 rows of stranded colorwork knitting to where the work switched from flat (back and forth) after the hem to in the round. Using smaller needles, I have now worked back to where I was 3 years ago.

Actually, it's all good because as I have lost some weight, it would have been rather big and now will fit me better.

Life is good.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

 

SIDEWAYS GARTER SCRAP HAT


I finally found the time to write up the pattern for this crazy hat knit from leftover sock yarns. It's all just knit stitches with short-rows to shape, knit flat.

Now, I just wrote this up and it has NOT been tested by a real live knitter yet. Please, if you do work from this pattern, let me know in a comment if you find any errors or have a question. That really helps me.

Enjoy!

Life is good.

 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

 

Fiber crafts keep me happy


For a week now we've had tremendous thunderstorms just about every day here on the east coast of central Florida. They usually build up in the late afternoon and come roaring in with dark skies and furious rain. Usually we can manage to get our evening walk in before the rain hits, but sometimes we do get wet...oh well. The nice part is that it is often quite cooler after the storm passes. We've even been able to turn off the A/C and sleep with fresh air in the mid-to high 70's.

I've been working on a few projects that are a little different for me. First up is an up-cycled denim cuff/bracelet that I made for ME. I've been working on this on and off over the last month, just playing with embroidery, beads, and bending up wire bits. For the edging, I crocheted a chain from some flashy novelty yarn and simply sewed it to the edges.

There's no clasp needed because I used the waistband of some old jeans and saved the button and button hole.

Vertical Garter Stitch Beanie
So far, I've embellished it with french knots in embroidery thread, assorted beads, and two squiggles (one copper and one brass) shaped and pounded flat. I left the belt loops on the piece and connected the raw edges by just sewing them tightly together.

Thinking about what to do about the two belt loops together at the join...someday I'll come across a cool "thingy" to add there, but in the meantime I'll wear it.

So, I've been knitting on a few projects as usual. This hat is an idea I had to use up those smaller balls of leftover sock yarn and make VERTICAL stripes in a hat. I choose to work in garter stitch because it is so nice and stretchy, and easy to knit. The shaping is accomplished by the use of "short rows" which make wedge shaped repeats. Many of the yarns I used are self-patterning or striping (I save the solid colors for Fair Isle use
on socks).  Because I changed yarn colors so often, I had a mess of yarn ends all at the top of the crown. What to do? Instead of weaving in all those ends at the top which would have made a lumpy mess, Jonesy suggested that I simply braid them together. Yep. That works quite nicely.

The photos are of the same hat - just different halves/sides of it! I have started writing up the pattern to be released on Ravelry soon. I think that this beanie looks a little too scrappy to send on to the Motherless Child Foundation for the kids in Kazakhstan. I like to send them nice knit wear and not something that looks too "leftover-ish". So I'm keeping this wild thing for myself. I'll be making more for the kids, but keep the colors more solid and coordinated.

At one of our weekly sewing classes, I was introduced to these adorable fabric flowers! Seems like I'm the only person on earth who's never seen these before. I was given a quick tutorial and a good sized handful of finished flowers and scraps for more.

Hmmm....what to do with these? Hair clips! I bought some colorful clips and finished off the flowers with button centers, sewed and glued to the clip and voila! The little girls in Kazakhstan have something pretty to wear.
Here's another 1st for me...I made a pincushion! At a Tea Party with my sewing friends, we all made these pincushions stuffed into a tea cup. Mine is a little puckered, but it works great just the same. Yes, the puffy part is glued into the teacup which is also glued onto the saucer.

Living on a boat, I'm not sure how long this will last before it is tossed onto the floor, but if I find a good home for it I'll be happy to let this go. I'd rather somebody else enjoy it than let it get broken on the boat.


And..socks. Yes there have been socks. Jonesy requested a pair of "shorty" socks for summer so I knit him a pair from some hand-dyed yarn. He wore them about twice before one of the socks went on walkabout. We've looked everywhere. Maybe they will turn up. But in the meantime, I will start work on another sock (starting with the cuff) with the leftover yarn and keep working until I run out of yarn. He will have to have a different color on the foot, but that's OK as nobody sees that part anyway.

NATURE REPORT

The Ospreys in the area have reared their young and we're seeing many fledglings out learning the flying maneuvers this past couple of weeks. These slightly fluffy young birds are often accompanied by a parent and they call out to each other constantly. It's been a fun experience watching these beautiful large birds of prey build nests on the light poles, lay eggs, feed their hatchlings, and now encourage them to leave the nests. We consider a privilege to be able to observe this part of their life cycle.  Yes, they do crap on the boat and it smells to high heaven, but Jonesy does a great job of hosing it off in the mornings.

Life is good.


Friday, June 15, 2018

 

EXTREME KNITTING


Australian Homespun Magazine, May 2018
It's here! I just received my copy of the May 2018 Australian Homespun Magazine which includes their special feature about Extreme Knitting. Why am I so excited? Because I'm one of the "extremists".

A few years ago, my diving buddies challenged me to knit underwater while we were all living anchored out on our sailboats at Roatan Island, Honduras in the Western Caribbean. I'm always up for a new adventure, so after a beautiful dive along the reef's wall in the West End, we stopped for our usual decompression safety stop and I knit.

This publication is marvelous! They have all sorts of fiber/textile activities such as quilting, sewing, knitting, embroidery and much more. It's a complete fiber artist bundle of joy! There are pull-out templates tucked into the magazine that are ready to use for your own craftiness. Anyway, I'm honored that they asked me to participate.

A big thank you shout out to sailing vessel "Interlude" for sharing your passion for diving (and your equipment) with me and for making these photos possible. Jonesy and I miss you gals.

Coming back down off of my cloud of celebrity-extremism to real life, and the little projects that have keep me entertained and out of trouble...here are some bracelets that I created from up-cycling jeans.

I simply cut out some side seams from the used jeans -some right up close, and a few with about 1/4 to 3/8ths inch of
fabric left on the sides. After picking out the horizontal threads, I tossed these in the washing machine to encourage a soft frayed edge. Add a decorative button and a loop made with 1/2 of a little girl's hair band and voila! A bracelet. I made some more plain for the guys.

Last month, at a retreat with American Sewing Guild (asg.org), we learned  about using elastic hair bands for loop closures over a shank button. Serendipity happens! I was waiting for an online order to arrive with some lobster clasps as closures for these bracelets, but happily used this method instead.

These bracelets are simply something special for the kids in the orphanages I support in Kazakhstan. It is very real treat for them to be able to CHOOSE what they want to wear and have something that is different from the other kids.

On a more practical note, here are two pairs of knit and felted big wool mittens. These are intended to be worn over another pair of mittens for extra warmth.

We're continuing to enjoy the relatively mild weather here in coastal Florida. Sure, it is hot and it rains just about every afternoon, but we find windows of sunshine for our daily walking adventures. Below are pictures of an alligator, great blue heron, ibis and egret, wood stork, and manatees floating on their backs in the marina to gulp fresh water from a leaky water hose. We know to never feed or water manatees or any other wild animal as it encourages them to get used to people and could endanger them. This hose was soon shut off by the owner. Enjoy!
Alligator

Blue Heron
Egret & Ibis
Wood Stork

ee
Manatees floating on their backs drinking fresh water

Life is good.

Friday, May 04, 2018

 

Nudes and Jellyfish - Oh My!

Jonesy on Playa Linda Cape Canaveral National Seashore
One of the great benefits of hanging around Central Florida is the beaches. We took a little adventure to Playa Linda on Cape Canaveral to frolick in the sun and waves.

Because we are older than the hills, we qualify for the National Parks Senior pass. Thus, entry into the Cape Canaveral National Seashore is FREE for us. Just for fun, we decided to drive down to the very last little parking lot on this barrier island. We passed 12 different parking lots, all set up with sanitary facilities and boardwalks over the dunes to the beach. Families were coming and going hauling their kids and massive amounts of beach gear.
We drove a few more miles, eventually getting to the end of the road and the last lot, #13. Whoa! There were a lot more cars here than in the previous 12 lots! Why?
Portuguese Man-o-War Jellyfish

We soon found out what made this end-of-the-line remote spot so popular. Nude people. Yep, naked men (mostly) and a few women enjoying their day in the sun! Everyone was quite spread out along the shore with lots of "personal space" between the couples and the singles. We just minded our own business and walked a couple of miles. As you can see in the photo above, Jonesy kept his clothes on. I behaved myself (but it was great having sunglasses on so I could allow myself a sideways glance now and then).

I searched the wet sand for "interesting" bits to make into centers for my coiled pine needle baskets and jewelry creations. Now this purple blob was interesting...and scary! It's a Portuguese Man-o-War jellyfish which has a nasty sting! Such a pretty color - and such a painful sting. This one has been washed ashore and I assume it is dead. My finger is shown in the photo for scale - and even this was too close for comfort.

At first I thought that the white pieces in this photo were plastic trash. But when I looked closer I realized that they were the leathery egg shell remains from baby sea turtles! Loggerhead turtles nest along these shores and apparently this is a nest that has completed the cycle. Hopefully the little hatchlings made it to the safety of the water beyond.

On to knitting...

The black wool sweater for the teen in Kazakhstan has been finished and mailed to the executive director of the Motherless Child Foundation. Whew! Deadlines make me so nervous, but this one got checked off the list a full week early. The delivery trip is scheduled for mid-May. We will all get to see photos of the kids displaying or even wearing their new clothes! What a lift!

The weather has been wonderful these past few weeks - in the high 70's and low 80's with cooling at night. Consistent breezes make it so we've had the boat all opened up for the fresh air. Also, I've been able to cook and bake because the breezes whisk away the heat from the stove. I do love to cook (and eat), but I don't like doing the dishes.

Some days the magic boat fairy does the dishes! It's the same creature who makes coffee every morning so that it's ready when I get up!

Thanks Jonesy. Life is good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

 

And the knit goes on

BLACK SWEATER 
Busy, busy bees we've been. Although we do spend a lot of hours just chilling in the sea breezes, we do actually get things done and have some fun too.

We managed to move all of our camping gear and other treasures from our large storage unit in Georgia down to one in Florida. This took 2 long car trips and a couple of hundred dollars in clear storage boxes, but we did it! Our much smaller unit in Florida is organized and has no dead, mummified marsh rats in it like the Georgia unit had. Yuck!

One of the hurricanes washed away the rat traps and the facility failed to set up new ones. Of course, the marshes were flooded at the time so all the rats scurried to find new nesting places in safe high grounds. Storage units were hard hit. Disgusting.

The good part about the long drive was I got to get a lot of knitting done. I've designed another wool worsted weight Gansey style sweater for one of the kids leaving (aging out) the orphanage in Kazakhstan. He requested the color black - as did many of the teens.
Scottish Kep (Fair Isle stranded knitting)
I can only work on this in the daytime as I simply can't see what I'm doing at night even with an Ott Light. Size 38-40"

Also for the kids in Kazakhstan, I've been playing around with my many balls of yarn and knitting up traditional Scottish "Keps" (hats). The brim is doubled (folded back on itself) for extra warmth. These hats I made are shorter than the traditional pattern and I omitted the tassel. I don't think that the kids would appreciate a floppy long hat and a wriggling tassel. It's a lot of fun to play with color combinations.
I'm not quite traditional when it comes to the colors. Another good thing about clearing out the storage unit was that I found even MORE of this same wool yarn. Whooo hoooo....more hats to come.

Of course there have also been socks falling off the needles too. There are always socks on a few sets of double point needles. Two pairs of plain socks knit from yarns donated to me to work sock for the kids were finished. These projects live in my purse and go everywhere with me. I can get a few rounds in while doing errands. A lot more rounds were accomplished waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicles to correct our Florida Drivers Licenses (see? I told you we were having fun).

For more entertaining sock knitting I finished up a pair of "monster socks" that I had started at the hotel when we were holed-up for Hurricane Irma. These socks use up my small balls of leftover yarns - waste not, want not. And another pair was worked with 2 coordinating 1/2 balls.


During the storage unit move, I discovered my giant stash of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn. As a rest period from the black sweater knitting, I knit this "Baable Hat". I just love sheep and I hope the kids in Kaz will find this amusing and warm.

So what was Jonesy doing while I was so busy knitting? Well, he cleaned the BBQ on the stern of the boat and discovered it needed replacement parts (rust). When the parts came in, he made it whole again and has been grilling some of our dinners outside.

He's also been doing all the routine maintenance on the boat to keep her in top shape.

Jonesy also took me out to the auto races at Sebring for the 12 hour race. Actually, I wasn't planning to go but at the last minute he asked if I would go and keep him company. So off we went. It is a beautiful track here in Florida but the
crowds were boisterous for most of the 4 days we camped there and the cars were LOUD. I wore earplugs both day and night.

In February I taught 20 lovely folks from Tybee Island how to coil Pine Needle Baskets. Each student was provided a baggie with a wood centerpiece and all the tools needed. Jonesy had drilled all the holes in 24 bases for me.

Then the victims students could choose a hank of #3 cotton thread and a bunch of pine needles.  We managed to have quite a few ladies end up with some nice baskets started. They scarfed up the remaining needles and thread to take home and finish their projects. I sure hope that some of them will get the same pleasure as I do making these works of art.

AND...I've been sewing again. I've joined the American Sewing Guild and attend a group every week. My first project was some cushions for the boat. Now I've cut up some fabric and an old shirt of Jonesy's to make myself some lightweight sleeveless tops.

Jonesy took this photo today of me wearing a top that I made from a men's shirt that I bought for 50 cents in Guatemala.

I was asked on a Facebook group how I cut my tops from old shirts so I shared this photo. Jonesy LOVED this shirt, but the collar was too frayed to wear with pride. So now it is mine.

That's all for now....

Life is good.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

 

Life on the water - Now in FLORIDA

Fueled Up & Ready to GO
You just never know what we'll do or where we'll go next....

Everything - absolutely everything mechanical on the boat was working at the same point in time! We had not only completed Jonesy's list of repairs, but also tackled some new issues (you know, that's life with a boat).

The exterior was looking pretty good so we TOOK OFF and pointed the bow south. Here's a photo of the Niki Wiki sitting at the fuel dock - the last time she was in Georgia. Warmer weather and blue ocean waves of Florida here we come!

The first night of our adventure we stopped and anchored  in the Intra-Coastal Waterway right behind Cumberland Island and the National Seashore. The next morning we dropped the dinghy and blasted over to the island to explore. This was during the government shutdown so there was nobody on the island!! Just us and the wild horses. The beach was littered with shells - mostly sand dollars, clam, and whelk and LOTS of shorebirds. We even saw a pair of large American Oyster Catchers courting in the dunes! This is the first time either of us had seen this species (we had our bird book with us). Eventually we realized that we had walked until we could go no farther knowing that we had to follow our footsteps in the sand back to the dinghy.

The following days, we meandered along the waterway, stopping to anchor overnight and sometimes for a couple of nights if the weather was ugly. We had no plans, no timeline, and no final destination.

There sure was a lot of knitting going on during this time.

First off the needles was a second Black Cat hat in more subdued colors. (Knit Picks Palettte Wool & pattern by Sandra Jager)

Then I switched to another pattern by Sandra and knit up a Red Dragon Beanie. Again, I modified the pattern and added my own fair isle patterning, corrugated ribbing, and striped swirl crown.


As long as I had the bag of yarn with me, and was stuck on the boat, I kept knitting hats while I watched the marshlands and wildlife along the waterway.

So for a week and a half we crawled under bridges, called the draw bridges to request openings and halt the local car traffic, and motored along just about by ourselves. February isn't a popular time on the waterway which is one of the reasons we enjoyed it so much. No jet-skis! Very few sports-fishing speed boats!

Eventually we ended up slipping into a marina (not too gracefully unfortunately) in the Cape Canaveral area. We'll gather our wits for a while, get the car down here, finish up some interior projects and get this boat for sale!

In the meantime, there have been some heavy wool socks appearing on the needles too. Here I mixed worsted weight wool with self striping sock yarn.


Knitting on....

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?