Saturday, May 02, 2015


Sweet Sounds and Accomplishments

One bit of advice that I picked up years ago was to "celebrate your accomplishments". Sometimes we get so focused on all the little things that are going wrong, or that simply need to be done, and we forget to pat ourselves on the back for jobs well done. This past week, the crew of the sailing vessel  Niki Wiki have some major project completions that needed to be celebrated.

We have ignition!
Ahhhh - it was the sweet SOUND of success when the big Perkins diesel engine finally got fuel up to the injectors and into the engine! Here's a short video taken during that first minute of the engine running after the big rebuild. It's been many months since we've heard it's mighty rumbling. Jonesy (head down in a red shirt) was still down in the bilge adjusting the injectors when I took this video from the helm.

Whooo hoooo! We can now go cruising! Sure, there are still some other projects to take care of before we hit the Intracoastal Waterway headed north, but now that we know that the engine is
purring again, we need to spend some time planning. As Jonesy said today..."It's hard to be in a hurry if you don't know where you're going!" We've pored over the charts and cruising guides and have decided to go for it next Saturday, May 9th. That is our planned "Get out of the Marina" date.

Jonesy next tackled the clean-up of our trusty dinghy named Scooty Puff which has been hanging off the stern of Niki Wiki on davits since last July. Then he mounted the Yamaha 15hp motor on Scooty's transom and got it to fire up on the 2nd pull. We now have a big movable home and small inflatable waterway transportation.

While Jonesy worked on the boat stuff, I've been spending time putting things (mostly my crafty stuff) away into secure cubbies and lockers for the trip. We tend to spread our stuff out in the boat while in a marina, but that's not going to work when we are traveling. Even wakes from passing motorboats can make the Niki Wiki rock and bounce and anything loose will bounce too. I've also been provisoning with the shelf stable items such as coffee, paper towels, cereal, beans and rice, drinks and condiments. We will not be able to shop for food very often and may need to walk a long ways too, Plus it is a lot of work to lug and transport heavy or large items in the dinghy so I like to stock up on the important items.

The Darien Seaport Sweater
Crafty Accomplishments

Ta-da! Here is the completed sweater that I knit for a teenager who will age out of the orphanage in Kazakhstan. The shaping and pattern stitchwork of this sweater is based on the traditional fishermen's gansey sweaters. It is 100% wool, but is a heavier weight (thicker) yarn than the original sweaters were knit from so that it is warmer for the extreme low temperatures where it will be worn.

I have written up the initial pattern notes and charts, but still have to do the size "grading" for multiple sizes so that more knitters can recreate it. That's a big part of the fun for me in the whole knitting process!

The final knitting and blocking of the sweater was done while I was house-dog-dog-dog-cat sitting for a friend. The house sits right on the tidal marsh near to the Darien Seaport. Check out this sweet view of the wetlands from the screened veranda where the sweater dried. For 4 days I played with the dogs and cat, soaked up the view, knit and sewed.

The sewing projects were repairs on our big Shade Tree awnings for the boat and a little awning we had custom made for the stern deck. The tropical sun of the past few years had weakened the fabrics and all it took to produce rips and holes was a fierce windy storm last fall while we were off on our car trip. So I spread them out on the concrete driveway under the giant oak trees with spanish moss swaying and evaluated what needed to be repaired. It was almost too much fun be outside working on a sunny, dry day with temps int he high 70's and loving dogs watching me.

 And there has been more knitting going on (like you didn't know already). Here's a pair of smaller sized socks knit from some yarn generously donated by a fellow knitter. These are knit with Patons Kroy sock yarn which did all the color work for me. I just knit plain socks.

But another pattern caught my eye while browsing Ravelry the other day. Now that I've finished the gray sweater above, I find that I have some extra wool. I've always wanted to make some felted mittens so I did!

The pattern is called "Norwegian Fisherman Mittens" (free on Ravelry) and is very simple to knit. After knitting them I tossed them in a top-loading washing machine with hot water and a couple of winter blankets to have them shrink and felt into a tight, thick fabric.

The Knit Picks Wool of the Andes yarn felted beautifully!
Before and After Felting
 See how BIG the loosely knit mittens were before they were felted? And then you can also see that the finished mittens fit my hand with a nice long cuff and some extra room for a thin pair of liner mittens on the inside. Perfect!

Of course, there is already another pair on the needles. Why argue with success? I have quite a large stash of this type of yarn in many colors so I think this will become some of my cockpit knitting as we travel the ICW.
Remember the ceramic trivets that I shared before? Well I offered one to a friend on Ravelry and here's a picture she took of it in its new home! I also tucked in one of my handmade buttons. My friend offered to send me some of her handmade soap. So now I am using some wonderful, natural soap that smells of Lemongrass. I used to grow lemongrass on the grounds of Mario's Marina in Guatemala so the smell reminds me of those days so far away and not so long ago.

Speaking of Mario's Marina - it is no more. The lease was terminated so the business of the marina was abandoned and all boats had to vacate. It was sure nice while it lasted and many cruisers have fond memories of time spent there and the wonderful people who worked there and became our friends. We spent 4 hurricane seasons (of about 5 months each) at Mario's. Here's a very recent photo of what is left - just the docks and facilities and no boats. Change is inevitable so enjoy the present.

NO BOATS at the old Mario's Marina - May 2015

Life is good.

Photo from Bob and Trish Meredith, s/v Barnacle.

Friday, April 17, 2015


No Go

Manatees by the boat dock

The Final Assembly of our boat's engine is complete! Today is Day #2 of trying to get the dang thing started. So far....No Go.

Once you've opened up these diesel engines it's a real pain to bleed the fuel lines and get it to start again. There's only so much battery power (we've even hooked up the "house" batteries to the engine start battery to get more power), so we have to pause and recharge the batteries after about 60 seconds of running the starter motor. While Jonesy studies the repair manual and the internet forums after each try, my part of all of this is to keep Jonesy fed and to sit in up in the cockpit and press the start button every hour or so. It's not looking good - could even be a very expensive repair/replacement of the fuel injector pump. Yet another failed part?

So, we're still in the marina in Brunswick Georgia. But that's not all bad at all! Just last week we had three visitors to Dock #15 here where we have our slip.

See those lumps in the photo? Those are
manatees! There were two big manatees and a cute little one. The adults had their heads under the dock (why? so we couldn't see them?) but the little guy was visible and kept having to come up for air. So cute! All you actually get to see are his nostrils out of the water. No, I couldn't catch it with the camera. 

As these animals are protected we had to be very quiet and not disturb them. So I tippy-toed along the dock and got a photo of my latest little pair of socks for the Motherless Child Foundation.

I'm sure a lot of long-time sock knitters will recognize this older Regia sock wool used for these. When this self-patterning jacquard yarn first came out from Germany I know lots of us added balls and balls of it to our stashes. As we became more experienced sock knitters, we realized that the best way to use this yarn was to knit very simple and basic socks - no special stitch patterns - just boring to knit. Cables and lace designs just don't look good with this busy yarn. So that's probably way I get so much of it in donations for me to knit socks!

Notice the lines on the backs of the manatees? Those marks could be scars from the propellers of boats. As these gentle beasts often hang out just inches below the surface, getting hit by boat propellers is a major threat. Poor babies.

I'm still knitting the sweater for the teenager in Kazakhstan and only have 1/2 of a sleeve to go! But, as you know, I am not monogamous in my knitting/crafts so there were other projects that attracted my time and attention.

This is a "Fur" coat for one of the 18" teddy bears that we knit for the younger kids in Kazakhstan. It was designed by one of the other knitters and I knit this one in Bernat Boa yarn ($1 at the Dollar Tree Store). It is so soft!

It turned out that there was a pair of black mittens needed for a different teenager so I volunteered to knit those up too. I just happened to have some black Knit Picks worsted weight yarn on board and of course I have plenty of time.
It's hard to photograph black knit projects (and black dogs my friends tell me). But here they are in all their dark glory.

When a fellow liveaboard cruiser here in the marina saw my latest ceramics work she made a special request. I had just gifted her a center piece for her pine needle baskets that she makes. She wants to make a bread basket and loves lighthouses so she asked if I could make that for her. Yep.

I'm no artist, but I gave it my best shot. I left it as natural (red) colored clay and used some iron oxide to accent the textures. Then I added the two gun-metal black stripes with copper oxide, and just a splash of glaze on the top piece. For the holes, I used a plastic straw from a juice-box to punch out pieces of clay. The first couple of basket bottoms that I made the weeks before had the holes too small to fit the needles and weaving strings after they were fired (clay shrinks a lot with the 2 firings).

Now, she has taught me how to make the pine needle baskets! Yipppeeee - a new craft and one I've always wanted to try! I so enjoyed going out and finding the long-leaf pine needles too. What a great excuse to wander about a pine forest.

There's some work involved in the preparation of the needles in that you have to remove the sheath from the ends. But other than that, it's really pretty simple. For my first few rounds I used some of her synthetic sinew. This stuff is very easy to work with. Next, I used some nylon twine/cording that I had on board and a different stitch style.

So here's what I have so far....4 hours of work for a novice basket maker. The center is a filigree style piece of metal that came from an earring set. Yes. I have made several more ceramic basket centers and will use those for my next pine-needle creations.

Yesterday, in the ceramics studio I spent a couple of hours glazing the new basket centers, a couple of trivets and a few smaller "accent" pieces. The accent pieces feature some glaze technique experiments for me and the finished items can be used as buttons (for knitting or sewn pieces) or accents woven into baskets or simply as necklace cabochons.

My favorite trivets so far that I've made are the woven clay trivets (as in hot plates/table protectors). I'm hooked on these!! Not only are they fun to make, but I really like how they turn out. Now I need to get some wood or bamboo slices to add "feet" to the trivets. Here is a photo of a couple of them. I'm already using another two.

There's so much to explore with this woven clay strips technique!

Another technique I used to add texture to some trivets was to knit up a simple cable in worsted weight cotton and make a mold (sprig) with it. Then, after bisque firing the mold, I pressed clay into it and then added some gansey-style looking rows. These I simply used the iron oxide to accent the texture on one and copper oxide (the darker one) on the other. A final clear glaze finished them off.

Knit cable pressed to make a mold
First, here is a photo of the original knit piece in pink and white yarn and the resulting mold. The cotton yarn is a little soft and didn't leave much of an impression. I'm thinking that I'll try to knit some items up using a sturdy twine made out of nylon? I want the stitches to hold their shape and not flatten out.

Also, I think the string should be larger. Because the clay shrinks so much the detail gets a little lost. So perhaps going bigger would be better.

You can (perhaps) see that the cables on the trivets below are a raised design - but not by very much. There's just so much more to explore someday.

Life is good.

Trivets with raised knitted cable motifs

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


A Dilettante visits Jeckyl Island

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.

"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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 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.

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 day.

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.

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.

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