Sunday, August 30, 2009


Can We Keep It?

Here's a photo of Jonesy surveying his latest "catch". We had another southerly wind storm this week and look at what we caught! Another sailboat, this time a monohull. Can we keep it? This sailboat had been at anchor for quite some time, and survived previous storms without dragging, but this wasn't his lucky day.

Lucky for us though, he was on board his boat and several fellow cruisers who were hanging out at the bar joined in to hold him off of our bow. I'm wondering if we should install a "cow-catcher" like they have on the front of locomotives? Anyway, no damages so all is good.

Oh..also note in the photo above our beautiful anchor chain which is laid out on the deck. We had it re-galvanized so it would last a few more years. Jonesy had it folded in 25 foot lengths and has painted it: red=25ft, blue=50ft, green=75ft, white with gold stripes=100ft, 200ft, 300ft. Next, he attached matching color "tie-wraps/cable-ties" to each colored area. That way he can know exactly how many feet of chain he has released when we drop the anchor.

Here's a photo of all 450 pounds/318 feet of size 3/8ths chain loaded into the chain locker at the very tippy pointy (bow) part of our boat. Whew! There's a big (and expensive for the galvanizing at US$600) chore crossed off the list. Do we know how to have fun or what?

Another chore for us this week was to return to Baranquilla to pick up our new US passports. No biggie - we now know how to ride the buses here. Along the way we kept our eyes open for anteaters, but we didn't see any. Yep. There are warning signs all along the road with an illustration of a giant anteater like those deer caution signs back in the states. We could see many, many ant hills out in the fields - cones about 1 foot high - but no anteaters. Dang.

Long bus rides = mucho knitting time. Remember the ugly self-patterning yarn I overdyed with brown? Well here are the finished socks. I am quite pleased with the results and will be be overdying some more offensive sock yarn soon!

More socks, this time I'm using the current pattern Cloud Socks by Rebecca A (Becbec on Ravelry) from the Six Sox Knitalong yahoo group. I was searching Rav for an idea of what to knit with my Regia 6-ply and came across the socks that another Raveler had knit with this yarn. Lo and behold - I'm already a member of this yahoo group so I cast on immediately. This is a self-striping yarn, yet the short row areas of the pattern create the "clouds" of color and make 3-Dimensional waves in the fabric. I'm loving it. The pattern is written for all weights of yarns and is currently free. I received this yarn as a contest prize last year from the Mittens For Akkol yahoo group so naturally I'm turning around and knitting these socks for the kids in the Akkol Orphanage.

Okay - gotta get ready for the Mexican Train Domino game this afternoon, then trot up to the store and get some meat to toss onto the grill for the Cruisers' Potluck BBQ at 6pm today. See ya!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Monkey & Socks

Yesterday I managed to get a photo of one of the many monkeys who roam the parks here in Cartagena. It was a holiday (again!) so the park was unusually quiet. I think that folks must feed these little monkeys because they came a-running when we stopped to see them. They were probably hungry and looking for a handout. Sorry - no food with us.

Also yesterday, I finished the pair of socks I was knitting for my friend Kathryn from the sailing vessel Pelican. Here she is with her debut as a foot model. The yarn is Skacel Trampoline and has a bit of elastic in the core of the strand, similar to Regia Stretch. As Pelican will be sailing north up to the Eastern Seaboard soon, wool socks are much appreciated.

The wind is blowing from the "ugly" direction this morning which kicks up the spiky wind waves and rocks the boat. So, we'll probably have to stay aboard to guard against other boats dragging their anchors into us if a squall builds. At least we don't have to go to work!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Molas & more

Finally! I took photos of my collection of Molas that I purchased from the Kuna women in the San Blas Islands of Panama a few months ago. As we anchored in each new group of tiny islands, we would purchase a mola from the resident family. I'll share a few here.

These pieces of reverse applique work have been traditionally worn on the blouses of the Kuna women. Two separate pieces are worn - a front panel and a back panel. These are usually matched in color and style but not necessarily in pattern as in the pair in the photo on the right. The Kuna will try to sell these as pairs, but the seller will gladly separate the panels in order to make a sale. The cash received from our purchases is an important source of income for the Kuna families. In return, we get a hand-stitched piece of beauty and the privilege of enjoying one of the most beautiful spots on earth.

The needlework is outstanding on some of these pieces - check out the detail in the photo to the right with the US dime for scale. This is a close-up photo of the Stingray shown at top which was created by the well-known "Master Mola Maker" Venancio. Look at the "X"s- these are tiny pieces of fabric stitched over each other with exactly matching thread. Then look at the tiny sizes of the chain stitch embroidery stripes in the upper right corner of the photo. Absolutely amazing.

Some pieces are made strictly for the tourist trade. These are faster to sew and are usually simple applique with embroidery. These smaller panels will make nice gifts for the folks back home. Again, I put a US dime in the photos to show scale.

So, I've been knitting a lot of socks lately (duh) and have been digging around in my stash for yarns. I had two skeins of flat ugly sock yarn that I knew I would never knit the way they were. One was a commercially dyed (printed) yarn from Regia. What were they thinking? Burnt orange and kelly green spots together - then striped with cornflower blue? The designer must have been colorblind - literally. A common form of colorblindness is the red-green type where these colors both appear as shades of yellow. Given that assumption, this yarn would have been pretty nice. But I'm not colorblind.

Solution? Overdye the stuff with brown! Ta-da - now the yarn has subtle spots of reddish brown and almost black. Much nicer for a pair of socks for a guy. The tangled mass to the far left is some of the original yarn which was horribly knotted so I didn't dye this section.

The second skein was one that I had hand-dyed many years ago as an experiment. Not successful. I tried to dye some dry yarn for a sharper color effect - but the red still bled into the dry yarn and created pink. That combined with the orange and brown areas was nasty. Eeeew. So now it is all shades of brown-red. I hope some kid will like the socks from this yarn now.

Hey! I want a turn too! This is how they are drilling the holes for new pilings to support the second floor of the new building here at the Club Nautico Marina in Cartagena. Take one drill with spokes. Have four men - one on each spoke, push the drill around and around. Set one (lucky) fellow on top for added weight.

They should have let me ride. I have alot more weight to help drill than that scrawny young kid.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Socks & Blow Outs

Life has been deliciously slow and easy for the most part these past few weeks. The days are all warm (hot) but a breeze kicks up in the late afternoon. We took a 2-day bus-jaunt over to the large city of Barranquilla to apply for renewals for our US passports at the US Consulate office. Have to go back next week to pick up our new passports - FAST service!

I've been concentrating on knitting socks for the kids in Akkol, Kazakhstan. Jonesy has been watching car racing on TV and his computer and making small repairs on the boat.

These yellow socks were knit with a German yarn - Wolle Rödel Sport & Strumpfwolle Color. Yellow is not a very popular color for clothing (or anything for that matter) in the USA, but I saw a lot of it in Central America and now here in Colombia. I actually enjoyed working with this bright varigated yarn - it made me a happy girl.

The orange, gray, and black socks were knit from some Opal Rodeo yarn (also German) and yes, I did purposely match the striping so that they are identical twin socks.
Then, there is another pair of Regia Jaquard (German again) self-patterning socks, this time in shades of blues.

Finally, I wove in the yarn ends and blocked out my Isla Buena Socks that I knit as one of the photo samples. I hope some kid likes bright colored designs in (German) Regia wool yarns!

Well, we did have a couple of "events". After 3 years of continuous use, I blew out my trusty hammock! Yep. As I was doing my knitterly meditations, watching the city lights and enjoying the breeze, the bottom fell out. Literally. Those cotton ropes just gave up holding my mass. Dang. The worst part was that as I fell, bottom first, the hair on the back of my head got caught between the now-tightly-squeezed-together ropes. Jonesy had to rescue me. I was bummed. But soon I realized that Hey! I'm a fiber person! This hammock is made of fat cotton yarn! I can fix this! So I did, and now I'm back out on the bow of the boat most evenings, swaying to the gentle wind waves.

We dodged a bullet of another "Blow Out" event this past week. Docked right next to us on our starboard side is a very old, rotten wooden boat with two masts. These masts had become rotted and were loose - moving about on their flopping shrouds (wires). Plus, the top two feet of the forward mast had snapped right off and was dangling from the wires! Well, all it took was another wind storm and SNAP! went the rear mast at it's base! (See the white painted pole that all the folks are staring at in the photo). Luckily for us - it fell away from our boat. Whew! But, it did smash into the radar dome and arch of the sailboat on the other side which will be quite expensive to repair.

Golf Sauce? Does anybody else like to mix ketchup and mayonaise together to dip your french fries into? Well, they are so into that here in Colombia that there are many brands of "Salsa Rosada" (pink sauce) sold in the grocery stores. Check out the plastic squeeze pouch with the spout in the corner. Many types of products are sold this way. Anyway, this brand tastes a lot like 1000 Island dressing without the pickles - yummy!!

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Exploring Cartagena

Even though it is hot, hot, hot, we've been regularly taking walks through the central (old) city of Cartagena. During the day we try to stick to the shady parks and museums where there's air conditioning. But in order to experience the famous stone walls surrounding the city built by the Spanish in the 16th century, we have to venture out during the day.

Here's Jonesy on top of one of the walls with the city in the background. And then, another section of the wall with the Caribbean Sea behind him. Yep. Those canons are real and they are still here.

The streets of the city are quite narrow and are lined by the houses, some several centuries old! Tourists can take rides in horse-drawn carriages in the evenings and at night when the cool tropical breeze kicks up off of the Caribbean Sea.

The Gold Museum
The first museum we visited was the free and air-conditioned Gold Museum. Here, they have on display many pieces of gold jewelry that was worn by the local indians before the invasion by the Spanish Conquistadors. The chest plates, nose rings, earrings and figurines were amazing! Amazing too because these are some of the pieces that survived the pillaging by the Spanish.

In this photo, you can see an ornamental nose bar that went thru the nostrils. Below in the chest area is a pottery cylinder with a decorative design in relief. These "Body Weave" cylinders were rolled in vegetable and mineral paints and rolled up the chest to paint a design on the skin! So clever!

Now these little beauties caught my fiber-oriented eyes - fiber spinning whorls! The whorls were made from potter or bone and were used to spin cotton to make blankets and hammocks. Also used were these bone, shell or metal needles.

Another thing that caught my eyes were the beautiful hinges on the front doors of the museum! All around the old section of Cartagena we see marvelous metalwork on the doors and windows in the old Spanish style. I've been taking photos for ideas for knitting designs!

The Spanish style of the buildings is such that the fronts - the part of the houses that face the street - are simple. The doors are elaborate but that's all you see. But if you have the opportunity to peek inside you will see that there is almost always a central patio open to the sky with plants and water features. THIS is where the people live! The photo above is of a government office!

Bolivar Square is one of the more famous small parks in the city. We sit in the shade, rest our feet, and watch the people (and I knit). In one of the other parks, we saw monkeys in the trees and giant iguanas rambling thru the plantings.

So...what have I been knitting? Socks. Plain ole socks in self-patterning yarns. We are having a Sock Challenge Marathon on the Mittens for Akkol yahoo group and I'm churning out socks as fast as I can in adult sizes. Join us! Use up that stash yarn! These are 2 pairs knit with Regia Jaquard sock yarn, and one pair with Jawool sock yarn. Exciting? Nope. But I love to know that the kids in the orphanage in Kazakhstan will have warm feet this coming winter.

On the needles now is another pair of socks using a bright yellow varigated yarn from Germany. Actually, I'm loving these socks as they make me smile! Back to knitting.

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