Thursday, October 29, 2009


GEMS Shetland Wool Hat

So what's a gal to do when it's hot and steamy outside and on the boat? Knit a Shetland wool hat of course! I've been playing around with charting traditional patterns and my own designs in Excel for some years now. That's one of the things I do for fun when we don't have internet access.

Once I got the layout charted, I spread my stash of Jamieson & Smith's 2-ply jumper weight wool from Shetland, Scotland out on my berth and played with colors. The final hat has 11 different shades of wool and a lot of color changes. So much fun! I wrote up the pattern in 2 sizes which was easy to do because the motif is 20-stitches wide - about 2" of fabric. The medium size has 7 repeats and the large size has 8 repeats of the motif. So, looking down at the top of the hat you can see 7 points on the star so you know that I knit the medium size. The large size will have 8 points.

Okay - back to finishing up my UFO's. This hat was a happy break from my current self-discipline about finishing up hibernating knitting projects. Today, I actually worked on TWO of these neglected projects so I'm back on track. Gotta go knit before the sun disappears...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Global Warming?

So, what's your guess? We've been having some high tides lately, 1.3 feet which is a lot for Cartagena but puny for a lot of the world. When this happens, the bay overflows onto the streets of the Manga island which we currently call home.

Check out this photo of the street flooded with seawater coming up the drainage canal. Is the flooding caused by global warming and the rising of the ocean? Or perhaps the island of Manga is sinking - or maybe it's poor planning when the street was constructed. Or, maybe it's just the relaxed way of the Caribbean coastal peoples. No problema - it's only seawater, but it sure does make walking about a little difficult.

And speaking of walking about, check out these street cart vendors trotting along in the traffic. Not only do we see burros hauling construction loads, but there are many handcarts pushed along, weaving through the cars, motorcycles and buses. These men and women sell fruit, baked goods, ice cream, fried corn dough snacks and - my favorite -shaved ice with fruit syrups and sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top - yummy!
Which leads me to snacks - check out the photo I took at McDonald's. When you buy your kid a Happy Meal, you can choose to get it with orange juice, cherry tomatoes, or sweet corn! How's that for great choices! Are they offering anything like this in the states or elsewhere?

One of the local workers - Carlos - a nice young guy who cleans the bottom of our boat twice a month (yes! barnacles are a problem here!) is having his first baby soon. It's a girl! Another cruiser asked me to knit up something for her so this little hat and booties is what flew off my needles.

Next up is another pair of socks for the orphanage in Kazakhstan. The yarn is Regia and incredibly I knit a set of identical twins without even trying! Go figure. The self-patterning yarn just lined itself up so even the toes match.
On the scene at the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo Group this week was a new Elf Hat - Caribe. We see these colors everywhere, worn by the young people so I thought I'd make a hat including "dreadlocks". These dreadlocks are made with several strands of wool felted roughly together to resemble the hairstyle.
Last by not least is a new design of mine - GEMS Hat. This is the wrong side of the hat showing all of the yarn tails that I need to weave in. Next time I'll share a photo of the finished hat with y'all.
Today we received via FedEx our new compressor/condenser for our refrigerator! Yippeeee! So far, this little 17-lb box has cost us US$1,300 with duties, customs, shipping, and $820 original price. Yikes! You could buy a whole refrigerator for less than that in the states. But wait. This isn't the USA - it's Colombia and there are no 12-volt units available. That's because they don't have motorhomes in Colombia like they do in the states. Our refrigerator is a motorhome fridge. That's another part of cruising - trying to get parts for repairs is always a challenge. But the rewards of being able to travel independently on the seas are priceless.

Sunday, October 18, 2009



What do you do with leftover sock yarns? Knit MonsterSocks! This pair, fresh off the needles, are worked with various brown and gray shades of yarns. They are not quite identical because some of the yarns were self-patterning. But fraternal twin socks still keep teenagers' feet warm in Kazakhstan.

On the needles now is the 2nd sock of a pair knit with black/pink/purple self-striping Regia yarn. Simple, basic socks are what gets tossed in my purse for social knitting. The more social events, the more simple socks get done. Every Friday a group of us cruising women get together at a different restaruant each week and enjoy a "Ladies' Luncheon". This is a Cartagena restaurant which is located in what used to be the animal stable of a home hundreds of years ago! Now, it's a lovely spot to have a meal.

Life Aboard
The good news is we have plenty of meat (colombian sausages, chicken, hot dogs, beef) to share at the Cruiser's BBQ Potluck tonight. The bad news is our refrigerator/freezer unit died yesterday. Unfortunately, there is not a replacement compressor here in Colombia. So, Monday morning, Jonesy will be on Skype (computer telephone) to call the states and see if we can get one sent via FedEx to us here. In the meantime, I guess we'll have to use the ice chest and eat out more often (yippppeeee!)

We've been getting the boat ready for some long-term cruising of the remote San Blas Islands again. The exterior stainless fixtures have been polished, and the wood trimmings are freshly varnished all thanks to the excellent work of Jose who works non-stop for $30 per day. Our fire extinguishers have been recharged and we purchased one additional unit. Jonesy installed a 12-volt little fan in my galley so now I have a constant delicious breeze while I cook or do dishes. Which means, I'll cook more often (but not necessarily wash dishes more often).

Oh, and the battery charger for the engine and generator start batteries failed last week. So, Jonesy found another battery charger and installed it which is not all that pleasant a task as he has to crouch down under the floor hatches and wiggle around to get in tight spaces. The new unit is not as powerful as the old unit, but is a good choice for what we need it to do for us. Suddenly we've been hit with some equipment failures and expenses that were not anticipated. That's life aboard a sailing vessel.
The Club Nautico marina is hard at work on their new building and docks. Six days a week there are a crew of men working in the hot sun on this new dock right next to our boat. Everything is done with manual, human labor and crude tools. When you can get this type of labor for $10 a day and the cost of machinery is astronomical or the stuff is non-existant here, the choice for strong men is obvious. Of course, their work has made it noisy for us, and difficult for us to get on and off of our boat. Before and after this hard day of work, a lot of the men take out their bucket and single line & fish hook and fish off of the docks. Some days they get quite a haul! To be able to get some food protein is a real bonus for people living on the edge of poverty.

So, I'll leave you now with this - yep, a size 18 mannequin wearing size 6 clothes. I know that gals like to wear their clothes tight around here (don't know how they can stand to do that in the heat!), but this is a bit too much "gappage". I do love the realistic mannequin though including the midrift bulge!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Tick Cheese

How about a little snack? We have TICK CHEESE! No, no flea ham or cockroach spread, but all the tick cheese you want. Actually, these are almost identical to Cheetos which are not available. But, it took me a while to get brave enough to buy some of these. I love Cheetos. For some reason I eat them with both hands and get those sticky orange finger tips, but it's so worth it.

So, here's the latest pattern release for the Holiday Mystery Gifts group...the Bi-Colored Fingerless Mitts and matching Bi-
Colored Slouch Hat. Both of these are worked in the Knit-1-below stitch pattern in worsted weight yarns. My knitting guild, the Camellia City Stockinettes were the first to receive these patterns. They had a class taught by Sandi Benward in the K1B method and these patterns were distributed to the members. The pattern stitch is easy...but don't make a mistake 'cause you'll have the dickens trying to correct it!!! I had to rip out my work many times! Finally, I taught myself how to fix the boo-boos and the knitting went a lot more smoothly after that.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Colombian Donut Question

So, my question the different colors of fillings in these donuts have different flavors? Who knows - I can't eat wheat so I'm not able to sample these babies. But, if I could, I would, just to make sure that every color/flavor was safe & yummy for fellow consumers. What flavor do you suppose teal blue is?

This past week the members of the Holiday Mystery Gifts yahoo group have been working on "Mystery #8". Finally, today I revealed the last clues - what is it? Well, first you get a pair of fingerless mitts, then if you want to go on, you can add to the top of the hand and the thumb and voila! mittens.

As you can tell by the clear blue water in the background, I finished this design and took the photos while anchored in the pristine San Blas Islands of Panama. Certainly, not here in the murky, who-knows-what-has-seeped-into-it water of the Cartegena bay.

Anyway, the Mystery Fingerless Mitts are totally knit flat on 2 needles, then are seamed along an edge. To get the full mitten, stitches are picked up along the top edge which is easy because the selvedge is a chain stitch. Then these are worked in the round. Same with the thumb. Very easy indeed in worsted weight yarn and size US 5 needles. Size can easily be adjusted by increasing/decreasing the garter stitch edging at the sides for longer mitts/mittens/cuff. For changes in width, the number of pattern repeats can be increased or decreased as desired. It's all knitters' choice (as EZ would say).
Jonesy has been meticulously working on the dinghy this past week. He's been re-patching all of our holes, slits, and other various leaks such as along the transom where water seeps in and keeps our feet wet. Big job! But we're trying to get this dinghy to last another season to save $$$. Yes, it's ugly - but then that can be a good thing - who would steal this dinghy when there are nice newer ones nearby? Theft is a constant problem. Notice this Lacquer thinner bottle which looks dangerously like a water bottle. Scary!! Oh, and the glue he used? It costs $65 per kilo which is half the price it was in Panama. Whew!

Boat parts arrived this past week hand-carried down from the states by another cruiser to us! Cool. Toilet parts. Way cool. Well, we certainly don't want to be without a functioning "head" onboard and these Jabsco parts are not available here in Colombia. We're getting the boat ready to take off to cruise the Western Caribbean area next month. Whooo hoooo!

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Fried Potato Salad

How about a fist full of Fried Potato Salad? This treat is locally known as a Papas Relleno (potato roll). These delicious baseball to softball sized snacks can be found just about everywhere around Cartegena. Surrounding a hardboiled egg is chopped potatoes held together by ????, then the whole mass is coated with corn meal and deep fat fried.
The state & county fairs in the USA should add this to their "fried everything" menu! Although I only pay about 50 cents to 75cents for one here in Colombia, I'd gladly pay much more. Sure, they're ugly...but oh my! I consider this a full meal and generously drizzle salsa rosa (mayonaise mixed with ketchup and a little vinegar) over it.

A Cartegena day
Last week a few of us "ladies" gathered together for morning coffee and Spanish language-only chat at the ritzy Hotel Santa Clara. OK, so I mostly knit quietly and listened. My Spanish isn't as good as the other women's so all I could do is mutter "si' occasionally when I could understand the conversaion. Thank goodness for knitting. This photo is of the interior patio gardens of the hotel. Like so many buildings here, the exterior is rather plain, but once you pass through the entrance you come upon an open courtyard.
Toucans live in this courtyard and freely roam, sitting at nearby tables as seen here in this picture. Also notice the attentive security guard, waiter and hotel staff. At the higher end establishments, staff wait and watch you to anticipate your needs. Nothing like the rushed atmosphere of restaurants in the states! Labor is so cheap here.

So, after we drank enough coffee and played with the toucans we headed back out to the streets for a walk about town. With us was Isabella, a facinating local woman who openly shares her time and knowledge of Colombia with us. Our next stop was a university of the arts - music. Now, as tourists, we wouldn't have dared enter the building, but Isabella felt quite comfortable doing so.

So much was going on there! Students were playing all sorts of instruments in the hallways, singing, and socializing. here is a photo of the upstairs hall which surrounds an open courtyard. The two women are fellow cruisers Ellen and Marilyn. And this is the charming Isabella with the University's courtyard in the background. Aren't the building's details lovely?

Here is a marvelous window in one of the music studios. As is true with most of the Latin American countries I've visited, lights are not turned on in the daytime. So it is quite dark (and cooler) in the buildings, but it does help to accent the beautiful windows. In this photo a blind vocal instructor is working with a student. In another alcove, we found an instructor working with a student on the violin. Again, the contrast between the dark corridor and the bright window was striking. As I watched, the instructor motioned for me to try to play the violin! Yikes! I haven't touched a violin since grade's proof that I gave it a go. Just a few notes played and no squawks.
As we again wandered the streets, I couldn't help but notice all the doors. Doors that led to what? What enchanting gardens, beautiful homes, or offices hide behind those doors? In some parts of town, there is nothing behind the doors. Nothing at all...just an open weed-filled space. The door hides the fact that the property is in disrepair. I know, because I peep through the cracks.

But other doors are freshly waxed or
painted and you can see that they are entered often. What is unusual is that there are little doors about 5 feet tall cut into the larger doors. It appears that these are the doors that are used for daily entering & exiting. Then, there sometimes is a tiny door about 6" square covered by grillwork in the small door. This must be the peep/talk hole.

Ah ha! A little door left ajar...and a quick peek of the garden beyond.

So, I've had another boat injury - I broke my little toe. I have to blame knitting. Really. See, I was knitting and suddenly realized that I needed a tool. I dashed across the salon and caught my little toe in a doorway just as the boat lurched from a wake from a tour boat. Ouch! Oh well, could have been worse...could have been a knitting finger!

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