Wednesday, April 01, 2015

 

A Dilettante visits Jeckyl Island

ORANGE BLOSSOMS - heavenly
Spring has arrived down here in southern coastal Georgia! How do I know this? Easy - the little orange trees here on the marina grounds are sharing their sweet-smelling blossoms, the migrating birds are passing through in droves, and the azaleas have begun to burst into bloom.

Although we have had some warm sunny days over the winter, the landscape was brown and sleeping. Oh sure, the new season has encouraged little bugs to hatch and feast on us, but heck, we're used to that after spending all those years in the tropics. DEET once in the morning and we're good all day. Yes, it's controversial (because of the chemical) and there are other "natural" products we could use, but nothing works as well and as long as a quick spray of Deep Woods OFF! from the green can. I'd do a commercial for free.

So, once we've prepared our skin surfaces to fend off the neighbors, what do we actually do? Here we are, living on a sailboat in the tidal marshy low country of Georgia with no jobs, grandchildren, nor eldercare responsibilities. Like when we're not watching the comorants, pelicans, seagulls, horseshoe crabs and other wildlife? Well, you know how Jonesy has been spending his time...
Bilge Gynastics and Yoga Stretches

It was a grand day (or actually night) when an 18-wheeler truck pulled right up to our dock and delivered our 100-lb. heat exchanger. Using the chain hoist, we lowered the monster down into the bilge. Next we had to line up the 14 holes on the exchanger with the 14 six-inch studs sticking out the side of the engine. Would it fit? This wasn't the same chunk of metal that we sent away as ours was deemed too corroded to be saved. This was a refurbished part from another engine so there was a chance that we wouldn't have a match.

How about that shiny new pressure cap?
At first the holes and studs acted like they wouldn't line up. I joined Jonesy down into the bilge to take a closer look (I don't spend much, if any time in that scary basement so you know I was highly motivated that day). We wiggled and teased the heat exchanger which was still hanging supported on the chain hoist. No joy. Next, using my knee and thigh, I raised just the back half of the unit perhaps a couple of milimeters, then pushed against it with my belly. Voila! Jonesy pushed at the same time and it slid on smooth as snot. A major milestone in the engine repair had been completed.

Sasha's Sweater
Since then, every day (unless I've whined enough to get him to take me on an adventure) Jonesy has been down in the bilge doing his bilge yoga stretches with his engine. He's been connecting hoses and setting up the fuel injection system for the fuel injectors. We've sent our old injectors out to see if they can be refurbished and are now waiting for the answer (hoping for the repair option as it will save us big bucks).

Me? Well of course I've been knitting. I finished writing up the design of the sweater I'm knitting for a teenager who is aging out of the orphanage in Kazakhstan. As for the knitting, the body is complete and I am now roaring down the sleeves. I did have to order some more Wool of the Andes yarn from Knit Picks and was thrilled that the new dye lot was a perfect match with the older yarn! Plus it arrived a day earlier than promised. Gotta love a good supplier.

And there has been another completed pair of little socks for the younger kids at the orphanage. These are knit with Regia sock wool in a Kaffee Fassett colorway.

As you know, sometimes I like to dabble in arts other than knitting as in the glass fusing work I've been doing. The other day on the blog of a friend (Diane's Corner) I was introduced to a word that perfectly describes my involvement with other crafts. Dilettante; a person whose interest in an art or in an area of knowledge is not very deep or serious. I dabble, piddle, tinker, etc. in a lot of other crafts. I don't claim or expect to be an expert, but I simply love to create new things (even if I don't need, nor have space for stuff).

This month's craft has been pottery/ceramics! What fun! Way back in high school and college I took a few ceramics courses. I was never very good at it, I just enjoy getting my hands dirty playing with mud. My primary goal was to make some buttons for knitting projects. A single, unique button really adds interest to a knit and felted bag or at the top of an open vest.

Anyway, these items are from my first day working in the studio (don't laugh). I didn't know how the red clay would work with the available glazes (other folks were using a light colored or speckled clay) so I made rather simple buttons. The larger circles are unglazed - just have an iron oxide wash on them to accent the texture. What are these for? They are the center bottoms for future pine needle baskets! Now, there's another craft. There certainly are a lot of long-leaf pine trees and needles in coastal Georgia. Some of the gals here in the marina are making baskets - why not me?

Oh, the fern leaf flat piece is a new trivet for me. I'll add some natural wood feet or a base to it. But wait....there will be more coming out of the kiln tomorrow! I would LOVE some suggestions and ideas from y'all for other things I could make. I'm simply working on hand-built pieces these days as the arts center requires 6 class sessions before you can play on the potter's wheel. So I'm not flinging clay across the studio - yet.

The shell bowl was made by simply pressing clay onto a real shell. I had to quickly make a little bowl to hold the beads that I'd made for when they went into the kiln! The beads are for a new BIG fiber arts project of mine.

Jonesy on DRIFTWOOD BEACH Jeckyl Island Georgia
Yesterday, we took a short drive across the marshes to Jeckyl Island which is one of the barrier islands of Georgia. We walked along 3 different long beach areas looking for shells (nope) or fossilized shark teeth (nope). The photo here is of Driftwood Beach. This is the only beach that has
the dead wood on it because it is the one that is getting eroded from the waves and strong currents. Those trees used to be alive on land, but now that land is gone and is beach.

This tree on the edge of the beach is still alive - we know this because it was starting to bud out. The branches and roots of the trees are so beautiful don't you think?

Life is good.


Monday, March 16, 2015

 

Cheating at CHILE VERDE


Niki Wiki in Belize 2014
Many, many years ago when Jonesy was working on Al Unser Sr.'s race car, he had the chance to try the famous Green Chili that was made by "Mom" Unser at the Indy500 race in Indianapolis. Since then, this spicy pork dish has been one of his favorites. So of course, I had to learn how to make Chili Verde for him!

As good as Homemade
Yes, I've made Chili Verde from scratch...fresh green "Anaheim" chilies, tomatillos, and all the spices, but now that I'm just feeding 2 people, I cheat a lot. I've found that I can simply start with a 16oz. jar of Herdez brand Salsa Verde (made in Mexico) that is available at most markets both in Mexico and the USA. This saves about 2 hours of roasting and peeling chilies, washing tomatillos, chopping, pureeing and then finally sauteing the basic paste/sauce and frankly, tastes the same.

Today there is a Chili Cookoff at the yacht club here at the Brunswick Landing Marina and although I know most folks think of the red stuff for these events, I'm taking my Chili Verde. So there nanny-nanny. I even cooked up some lovely dried Peruano beans to add. These pale colored beans (start out light yellow-green and cook up into a light tan color) are favorites in Mexico around Mazatlan and have a mild flavor and creamy texture. I think they go perfectly with the green sauces.

Cheating at CHILE VERDE
2 lbs lean pork cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
2 TBL bacon grease or vegetable oil
1 tsp chili powder
1tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 16oz. jar Herdez brand Salsa Verde
1 7oz. can diced Green Chilies aka "Ortegas"  (NOT jalapenos, NOT bell peppers)
1 tsp onion powder
salt to taste
3 cups cooked beans (canned is fine)
2 TBL chopped fresh cilantro for optional garnish
Sour cream (optional)

Heat bacon grease in a large stockpot or skillet. Add pork cubes, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder and cook stirring often over medium heat until pork is cooked through. Add entire jar of Herdez Salsa Verde, and the can of Green Chilies. Add salt to taste. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 1 hour or until pork is very tender. OR transfer to a slow-cooker/crockpot and cook on high for 2 hour. Add cooked beans to the pork mixture and cook until well heated. Serve in a bowl with tortillas or over rice. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

KNITTING CONTENT
"HORNET SOCKS" KAL for Kazakhstan
Of course there has been a lot of knitting activity going on, especially because I am banned from the boat when Jonesy is working in the bilge. You see, I tend to forget when the floor hatches are open and then I fall down into the bilge (I call it the basement). That's not fun. So I take my knitting and go outside somewhere or up to the yacht club if the weather is yucky.

So why is Jonesy working down there? Because our heat-exchanger unit was finally delivered by an 18-wheeler truck, after dark, directly to our dock! Whooo hooo!

There's still a lot of work to be done to put the engine back together again. As Jonesy can only spend a few hours a day contorting his body into inhuman positions and squeezing into spaces where he can't see, it will take a few weeks before we can give the old girl a start.

Here's a pic taken just minutes after we managed to hoist the head into place. It was tricky business...I managed the chain hoist from up in the cockpit (aka Florida Room) and Jonesy lined up the head over the studs on the block. Slowly, slowly we lowered the head - and all is well! As you can see, there is still more work to be done. Jonesy also discovered a bad hose and a couple of bad hose clamps. On a boat you have to have two high quality steel hose clamps at every junction because the salt water is so corrosive. For the cost of a clamp (about $3) you could lose the whole boat. Oh, that's $3 PLUS A lot of bilge gymnastics to get at the dang things.

From the kind donations of sock yarns from other knitters I have been able to crank out a few more pairs of socks while Jonesy works. Above are a pair of Hornet Socks by Heather Walker. This year, Heather is leading a "Knit From Stash" knitalong on Facebook. Stash? Oh yes, I now have enough sock yarn to keep me busy for a long time! The yarn is a yummy donation from Wooly Wonka Fiber. Because the hand-dyeing of yarn process isn't an exact science or automated, there can be mis-dyed yarns. The kids of Kazakhstan will get socks knit in luxury yarn due to this dyer's generosity.

These small socks stuck to a tree are knit from some self-striping Regia wool. I tend to knit a lot of the smaller sizes (these have a foot length of 17cm for a child) because the orphanages have requested "thin" socks. Thin Socks are knit with fingering or sock weight yarns. We also knit "thick" socks with worsted weight yarns and even worsted weight combined with a sock yarn for extra warm socks. Anyway, a lot of the knitters in the Mittens for Akkol group prefer to knit the thick socks and I love to knit the "thin" socks so I knit the smaller sizes.
The yarns for both of these pairs of socks was NOT attractive when still in the unknit state on the ball. Both of them looked like they would turn out as jumbled and splotchy clown barf socks. But, what a surprise I had for both pairs! The yarn turned out to stripe nicely and make some great patterning. That's Berroco Sox on the dark socks and the pink, grey and orange pair is knit from Rellana Garne Flotte Socke yarn.  
Fused Glass Pieces - Buttons? Pendants? Simply pretty baubles?
Pretty bauble for a pretty friend
More glass? Yep. I had so much fun making the first batch that I went back again for a few hours to
work during open studio time. I sent my favorite (purple) piece off to a friend as a little surprise. Although I was a little aghast at the top piece with what looks like a green worm in it, a kind friend suggested that it looked like an undersea reef. Yes! It does! Not so ugly after all.  And I've started back with working with clay again. I just had to get my hands dirty. So far I don't have anything to show yet, but don't be surprised it it's all related to knitting too. Isn't everything? 

Life is good.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 

Everyone's Gone to the Bahamas


LONELY NIKI WIKI on Dock 15
Left behind. Where have all the boats gone? This marina was full when we arrived last July, now in February there are more empty slips than occupied slips. Everyone's gone to the Bahamas.

Now that the "Holiday Season" is over, many of the part-time snowbird cruisers have flown down from parts north and sailed off to the Bahamas for a few months. We've been left behind. Couldn't even go if we wanted to because of the dead engine. But then, we never planned to head down to the Bahamas. But still, it makes me very envious of those folks who are splashing in warm waters and drinking rum cocktails. Sigh. It's OK - we make our own fun.

See? Here's Jonesy working on the electronics in the navigation station inside the boat. Is he having fun yet? Our AIS (Automatic Identification System) which gives us data about the big freighters traveling in our area, has been not working for a while now. We like to use AIS, especially at night when making a passage, as it tells us how far away the ship is, how fast it is traveling and then calculates how close it will come to us in how many minutes! If the AIS forecasts that we'll come too close to a big ship, we can change course slightly to give us more sea space between our vessels. Radar just gives us a big blob on the screen which is enough to get your adrenaline going, but AIS gives us the data to make decisions.

CHEATING CHECKS MITTENS
Anyway, Jonesy carefully chased the signals all along the long wires and checked all the connectors. This meant he had to wiggle his way into small spaces. Lastly, he patiently buffed all corrosion off of every connector. Magic. That worked! That's the way it is on a boat on salt water. Corrosion happens. We're both very happy to have this checked off of our "To-Do" list of boat chores!

I've been playing with new knitting patterns for hand-knitters. Some are complicated and some are more simple. These CHEATING CHECKS Mittens are quite simple to knit. The self-striping sock yarn makes its own color changes for the checkers on the hand and the stripes on the thumb gusset. This is still being tested by my trusty testing friends on my group. When it's deemed fit for release, I'll put it up on Ravelry. Also I have a rather complicated sock pattern being tested right now too.

THRUMMED MITTENS
Yes, there have been a lot of mittens produced around here lately. They are such fun little projects and I love how they use up my immense stash of fresh bulky weight yarns from Brown Sheep Mill.

This next pair have "thrums" which are tufts of wool interlaced into the knitting. These are WARM mittens! I have fun combining the bulky wool yarn with different colors of roving, and even the yarn itself unraveled back into unspun.

Then with a barbed felting needle, from the outside, I stabbed and poked all the little V's of the thrums to better adhere them to the mittens. Why didn't I think of that before? Well, because until last summer I had never used a felting needle!! Now that I know what one can do I'll be poking and stabbing a lot more. Watch out!

THRUMMED MITTENS
Of course both of these are going to Kazakhstan in May for the orphans. My own boys have recently agreed to let me knit for them too. So I have also been busy with warm socks on the needles for the older son and am charting out a hat for the younger son.

Socks, socks and more socks are filling up my knitting bags. Unfortunately I am in the middle of some serious SSS (Second Sock Syndrome) where I have finished the first sock, but haven't even started the second sock. Starting a new project is so much fun, but repeating that same item again? Not so much fun.

HER LADYSHIPS BED STOCKINGS
I got into the current pickle because I have been test knitting for a couple of other designers. Only one sock needs to be worked through to test the design. So I jump to another project rather than make the twin sock. Oh! And I've received some more donations of beautiful sock yarns so I am excited to dig into the stash and play with different colors.

For example...here are the Her Ladyships Bed Stockings by Meagheen Ryan. I absolutely love the patterning on these socks (there are hearts on the front and on the foot too. The yarn was donated by Wooly Wonka Fiber to me to knit socks for the kids in Kazakhstan. The owner sent me some of her "seconds" or "mis-dyes". Whoa! They are beautiful and luxurious and you'll be seeing more socks knit with Wooly Wonka Fibers in the coming months. THANK YOU and the cold feet of the orphans thank you too!

What's this? These are pretty baubles as Jonesy calls them. I took a Glass Fusing glass at the Glynn Visual Arts Center on St. Simons Island and made these four pieces. You can see my finger in the lower right corner for scale.

This was my first time working with glass like this and it was so much fun!! I have some acrylic button shanks that I'll be gluing on the back of a couple of these to use as buttons for a single button vest or on a felted purse. Maybe I'll even have to wear one as jewelry. Yep. I've already signed up for an open studio workshop at the end of the month. What should I make this time? Any ideas?

Oh yes, life is good.

Friday, February 20, 2015

 

Sapelo Island of Coastal Southern Georgia

THE PERKINS "JIB" status - Ugh.

Yep. This is still how our engine looks today - still a no-go. We've managed to hoist the freshly machined head (as in top of engine, not toilet) back onto the boat but it sits gathering dust under the salon table. Unfortunately not all of the repair kit parts we ordered were the correct sizes for our head, but the originals (springs, etc.) were still in good condition thankfully. We ordered a "kit" and it was a mixed-bag of good and wrong parts. Sigh.

We are waiting for the big 100-lb casting from up north. Yes, we paid for it back in early December with a wire transfer, but the piece wasn't actually ready to ship. It still needed to be refurbished too, and there were problems with it. Oh, and the winter weather up in Massachusetts wasn't exactly cooperating either so work has been slow. To be fair, we told them that we weren't in any hurry as we aren't planning to leave here until late March or early April. They may (probably) have customers who are stranded and really need fast service so we can wait. But Jonesy is anxious to get this big chore done.

This coastal area of southern Georgia is a little on the sleepy side these days, but it has an interesting history and was quite prosperous in the past. The nearby village of Darien was once a major sea port for ships burdened with rice, cotton, and pine timber. So there's lots of historical sites to visit and ponder how life was out here back in "the day".

A new friend and long-time resident took me to see Christ's Church out on St. Simon Island. We toured the cemetery and viewed the beautiful stained glass windows. This one is my favorite. I seem to have good taste as this one is also the only certified made-by-Tiffany piece. I think I see a mitten pattern here....

Another day we took the ferry to Sapelo Island which is one of the barrier islands of Georgia. Access to this island is limited - you have to be a resident or have a prior reservation to meet someone who has permission to be on the island. Sapelo was once a large plantation with many slaves doing the labor, but is now mostly federal land of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and hosts the University of Georgia Marine Institute. For our tour of the island we had hired a local man who was a decedent of the slaves who once toiled the island. Today, only about 50 people remain. With no jobs or way to make a living, most of the people have drifted away.

SAPELO LIGHT HOUSE
Check out this historic lighthouse. After years of neglect following the civil war it has been refurbished. This light guided the big sailing ships into Darien. When we leave here to sail north, we will be passing by this lighthouse so we'll get to see it from the point of view of being on the water. It's nice to have BOTH perspectives!


I fell in love with Sapelo and the natural beauty it is today again. We watched a very informative slide presentation at the Marine Institute given by a marine scientist and were able to study their artifacts (turtle skulls, shells, and other marine goodies) in their laboratory. Fortunately for us, there was a group of  Road Scholar folks (aka Elder Hostel) touring the island that same day so we were able to piggy-back onto this part of their tour (oh and get invited to share their BBQ chicken & all the fixin's picnic lunch on the beach). We walked along the long, wide beach and saw horseshoe crab shells of many sizes, beached  jellyfish, and many beautiful shells. It was so nice to be back (almost) on the wild water and knitting in the sea breeze.


I also fell in love with the sweet grass baskets that are made on the island. Yep, I'm planning to take a class to make my own...one day.

ATRIUM - REYNOLDS MANSION
Also on the island is the historic vacation mansion of R.J. Reynolds - the tobacco (and cotton) magnate. Today, groups of 16 or more people can rent the Reynolds Mansion for events as it is now a Georgia State Park. Now, wouldn't this make a GREAT KNITTING RETREAT? Who wants to go?

Look at the atrium photo here...can you imagine a gaggle of knitters hanging out here? Even though it is February, it was sunny and warm outside (with a chilly breeze). The dinning room was lovely, yet I found the circus room (old children's room upstairs) to be a little creepy. The circus characters were scary looking - not funny.

The hotel rooms were well-furnished and had windows for lots of light (to knit by). There were bicycles available to the guests for touring the flat (and at sea-level of course) island.


PATIO OF REYNOLDS MANSION
In the meantime, when not exploring, I knit. Not just plain garter stitch stuff these days, but actually some test-knitting for other folks who design and write up patterns (in addition to my own new creations).

A group of us have formed our own online cooperative design forum to have our newest knit and crochet ideas tested by other people. We not only do we have dedicated testers, but us designers also help each other with testing and technical discussions. We are also taking it a bit farther and
CIRCUS ROOM Upstairs at Reynolds Mansion
working on all of our technical editing skills. Why? Because we want our published results to be as free as possible of errors and also as easy as possible for other needlework people to work from.

Speaking of published... Interweave's Knitting Daily has (again) released information about the article I wrote, but this time they included the article itself! So if you haven't read it yet because it cost money, take a peek over here and find out everything you need to know with Tips For Knitting Fair Isle Socks. Get it while it's free!

And one more publishing event...Introducing Secret Pocket Socks by yours truly.

These are the Feb/Mar 2015 Knit along socks on the Six Sox KAL Yahoo group. They feature an "afterthought" tube that is knit from a long hole that you purposefully create by knitting in some waste yarn that you'll later cut out.

I need to use a passkey (like one of those hotel plastic card keys) to access the yacht club, showers, and laundry facilities here in the Brunswick Landing Marina. I'm always forgetting to take my card and I often don't have safe pockets in my clothing. Voila! I now keep the card in my socks!

The little pocket would also be useful for credit cards, female supplies, cash, key, etc. Anyway it's free for members of the group through March 2015, then it will be available for sale on Ravelry. See? I'm not just knitting garter stitch anymore.

Life is good.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

 

NECK KNITTING


Have you heard or read about "Arm Knitting"? It seems to be being pushed by the yarn companies to sell more yarn - especially to non-knitters. Well, Arm Knitting is SO 2014!

Introducing Neck Knitting! Make your very own warm and fashionable cowl with a single skein of yarn! No needles, hooks, or arms required!

Simply open up the skein, and cast on by putting your head in the center hole of the skein and let it rest on your neck. Then, pick up the front part of the skein and using your neck as a giant knitting needle, twist the skein once and pull the second loop down over your head.

Voila! One stitch made!And the best part is you're done! I demonstrated this new and exciting technique at our knitting get together last night with a friend's hand spun and hand dyed yarn skein. It is yummy! But wait...there's more! If you get tired of wearing your new hand-crafted cowl, you can reuse (recycling is green remember!) the skein and knit with it to produce something else when you actually do learn the craft.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

 

Never ending Garter Stitch


During our cross-country return trip I focused (or unfocused as the case really was) on plain old garter stitch knitting. I just didn't feel like counting, or working even a simple pattern. Yep. It was the beginnings of the knitting blahs. So with just a couple of needles and an endless supply of donated yarn and I was content to mindlessly work thousands of knit stitches.

Working just the knit stitch allowed me to be able to look out the car window and watch the scenery. No, I don't need to look at my project
ESCAPE ATTEMPT
when working this simple stuff. But, to add a touch of excitement I did change colors along the way. Perhaps I should have been paying more attention to the strips as they kept trying to escape from the car when we stopped.

This charity project (final size 49" x 42") was donated to the Seafarer's Center here in Brunswick, Georgia. The Seafarers International provides comfort and support for the men and women who travel worldwide working on the big shipping freighters.

Mad Miter Scarf
At the same time that I was working on this blanket, I also was test knitting a garter stitch mitered square scarf worked with various (donated) leftover self-striping and variegated sock yarns. The Mad Miter Scarf by Drachie Crafts is available for sale on Ravelry. The colors of the yarns I used didn't look so hot (aka ghastly or clown barf) when put together so I lightly over-dyed the finished scarf with a sapphire blue soak.

Some kid in Kazakhstan will have a new wool scarf next winter and I got to keep occupied.

Hey...these mindless projects can be quite rewarding! So, next I knit myself a simple warm hat. For the first time in 9 years my head got cold on a walk. I needed a hat.
TERRY'S NEW WOOL HAT
This was an easy project - just knit stitch with a few purls thrown in for show made with leftover yarns.

Hmmm...there was a bit of the green yarn leftover from the seaman's blanket so I knit a hat to donate too.

The knitting mojo was slowly and quietly sneaking back into my life. At Michaels Crafts store I saw a collection box for knit or crochet 7x9" rectangles for the Warm Up America campaign. Garter stitch squares? Sure, I can knit those - so I did, and actually got them delivered into the box at the store.

Seafarer Cap

plain 7x9" garter stitch squares


Oh look! There's a partially worked pair of mittens that just need a few hours of work. This was a group Knit-along from 2013 that got lost on the boat. I wasn't happy with how my color choices turned out so I lost interest in the project and tucked it away.

FINISHED!
The Motherless Child Foundation leader discovered in her December visit to the orphanages in Kazakhstan that there was again a great need for mittens. So I finished up this lost project and then got started on several more pairs of mittens.

At the same time (that phrase "at the same time" is a difficult one for knitters who work patterns that have you do knitting gymnastics in multiple places in a row/round) I worked on a pair of gloves for my younger son Brett. These were a special request from him as he had just moved from the warm beaches of Southern California to damp and chilly Seattle.

So, I dug out some very, very dark brown/black alpaca/wool/acrylic blend yarn and knit his
THUMB'S UP TO NEW GLOVES
mittens. For fun, I added "conductive thread" to the tips of both index fingers and thumbs so that he can play with his touch screen devices without having to take off his gloves (his idea). And for a touch of safety while driving, I sewed on a patch of buttery soft leather to each palm. He likes them - and I'm a happy knitting momma.

So, while I've been knitting, baking to keep the boat warm and running around with some of my new knitterly friends here in Georgia, Jonesy has been making some progress on his boat projects. The machine shop work on the engine "head" was completed so he picked it up and we hoisted it onto the boat and down into the salon where it waits for installation. No blood, broken bones or buises during this episode! We still don't have the refurbished heat exchanger unit yet, so work will have to continue at a later date.
LOWERING THE "HEAD" inside NIKI WIKI



We're loving the new birds that have shown up here in the marsh lands of southern coastal Georgia over these past couple of months. The other day we saw our first Hooded Merganser Ducks diving and hanging out by our boat. Small flocks of White Ibis breeze through occasionally and of course we have the pelicans and comorants for entertainment.

Alpaca/silk (Bobbi K)
Now I'll leave you with photos of a few pairs of mittens for the kids in Kazakhstan. As you can see the knitting mojo has returned.
Alpaca fingering weight yarn

Life is good.
THICK large mittens











Friday, December 26, 2014

 

Living on Fruitcake


It's that happy time of year! Two loaves of gluten-free fruitcake were baked in mid-November, then soaked in brandy and orange liqueur and left to age in the refrigerator.

Finally, last week we opened the first loaf, and sliced our way to heaven. We've been living on fruitcake ever since. Let's see...a slice or two for breakfast (I count this as a serving of fruit) with coffee. Then an afternoon snack with a nice cup of tea, and finally a piece at bedtime to help us dream the night away.

We've baked fruitcake each year no matter where we were currently cruising. Of course, there was no such thing available throughout Latin America. Because we love a little touch of tradition (and a liquor soaked cake) we've had to make our own. We think ours are so good that we continued this year even though we are in the US state where a famous brand is made.

This year's cake has local Georgian pecans, walnuts, candied cherries, coconut, fresh orange and tangerine peel, raisins, and candied papaya and pineapple. We learned to use the tropical candied fruits while in Central America and now we prefer them. Yummy!

THE BIG BAD UH-OH

While we were traveling cross-country this past summer/fall we had a caretaker come onto the boat and run the diesel engine and generator occasionally to keep them in good shape. Good plan, but we got bad news. The last time he ran the big Perkins 6-cylinder 354 engine it started to overheat so he shut it down to prevent damage.

Well, it took Jonesy several days to disassemble this monster in our bilge and to haul out the big, heavy chunks of engine that were suspected of causing the problem. The photo above shows what is left of the engine today. The "head" is at the machine shop being inspected, getting a "valve job" including new valves and springs. Nope, this area of the engine wasn't where the problem started.
Road-trip Bryce Canyon - before we knew about the engine

It turns out the failure was in the "heat exchanger". The actual casting had failed. It had corroded to the point where it developed a hole that allowed the coolant to enter the exhaust port and end up in the combustion chamber!! BAD. We (I mean Jonesy... I knit) hauled the 100-lb chunk of metal out of the bilge and boat, up the steep dock ramp, to the car, wrapped it up and shipped it via UPS to Massachusetts. There was a slim possibility that it could be refurbished.

Nope again. So we've had to wire transfer $4000 to buy a used & refurbished heat exchanger.  Sometime next week we'll be able to pick up the head at the machine shop and receive the heat exchanger here at the marina. Then the fun part begins.

We are very grateful that the engine failed while it was sitting in a marina - and not at sea or at some of the very remote places we've traveled in the last 8 years! This past couple of months we've entertained ourselves with remembering where we traveled by Niki Wiki and where would have been the worst place to have this failure. The best place? Actually, right here in Brunswick Georgia.

Life is good.


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