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....

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

 

TWO YEARS?

Really? Has it been two years since I managed to post anything? Yes. It's true. I could blame it on the hot coastal weather including 3 hurricanes, health (getting old sucks), travels, deaths in the family, boat preparation for selling, non-adventurous living in the USA, and pure laziness and it would all be true. Sometimes life just gets in the way.

Black Cat Beanie (design by Sandra Jager)
 Because I'm just so chuffed with finishing this recent knitting project I just had to shout out to the world. Aren't these cats wonderful? They remind me of the siamese cats in Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" movie. No, I didn't design this one, Sandra Jager did and it's a free pattern on Ravelry.

I used Knit Picks Palette (100% wool) fingering weight yarn because I still have so many colors in my stash.

Because I have just finished a massive boat beauty enhancement project I felt I deserved some recreation time. Those dang cushions on the salon settee had to be reupholstered and it was much cheaper for me to do it than to send it out. I'm free labor. It was a long, tough job and my fingers ached but they turned out great!
Ribbon Candy Ornament 

Since it is the holiday season, I whipped up another Ribbon Candy Ornament from some Lion Brand Bon-Bons yarns. This little guy is only about 1 1/4" tall. Oh! Notice the beautiful wood work he's sitting upon? Jonesy and I have been working on exterior boat beautification as well. Our son, Brett suggested that we should add a gloss coat to our semi-gloss finish wood and he was right. It looks much better now.

Life cycles sneak up on us. Now, we rely upon our son to make us lists of the projects we need to do to the boat to get her ready for sale. We have been reporting back to him on our progress. Somebody needs to keep us old folks accountable for our time. We do tend to just drift from one day to the next.
Generic mittens for a kid

The mission to supply kids in the orphanages in Kazakhstan continues to absorb my time and yarn stash. Although I've slowed down in the count of pairs of socks, mittens, etc. I'm still churning them out. Those dang other crafty endeavors distracted me. But I'll never abandon knitting or these kids.

As long as my sewing machine was out of the storage unit, I sewed up a couple of my favorite accessories for my knitting friends. This first Double-Pointed Needle Case is a prize for an online Knit-a-long on Facebook. There are two rows of pockets in various sizes for needles and a measuring gauge, and misc. tools of the trade.

Double-pointed Needle Case
Inside pockets
So, that's some recent highlights. We're still living on the boat, but are making plans to trade her in for a land yacht (Motor Home) and travel to Alaska and Canada and wherever we want to go. Home will probably be in southern Oregon. But, plans can change.


Thanks for looking! I'd love to see comments of just "Hi" so I know whose still around.



Thursday, December 24, 2015

 

Beach Wreath for the Holiday Season

Go for a walk on the beach with a friend for a couple of hours and what do you get? A holiday wreath that's what!

The Glynn Visual Arts center had a silent auction for wreaths made by us members. Jonesy helped to hot glue my beach treasures to a recycled serving tray with the center cut out, stuffed with newspapers and wrapped in burlap. We "artistically" glued on the washed shells and driftwood, looped some rope around and tied a big burlap bow.

But wait, there's more...as a bonus I also made 3 ornaments from small pieces of driftwood and shells to go with the wreath. Although it is quite rustic (and very different from the other fancy wreaths) it actually got a few bids and was sold! I hope it wasn't a mercy purchase ;o), but other wreaths didn't get a single bid so I feel quite lucky.

Happy whatever you celebrate this holiday season!

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