Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Christmas in July

Yes, I know it's been quiet on the blog lately even though we DO have internet now. But it's so dang social here and I've also been madly knitting & pattern writing.

Christmas Stockings! Yep, we're having a Christmas in July Knitalong on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group beginning July 1st. I've written up 3 different patterns each of which uses a different knitting technique: Stranded colorwork (Fair Isle), Textured Knits & Purls (Gansey), and Intarsia block colorwork.

Each pattern also has a selction of motifs so that the knitters can combine them in their own ways and create unique stockings. Pictured are my two samples for the Stranded Colorwork pattern, and the sample for the Textured work.

I've gotten a little smarter with the Intarsia stocking and am knitting different designs on each side of the stocking! Take a photo of one side, then flip that puppy over and voila! a different stocking.

But wait...there's more...clever knitters will realize that the gauges and stitch counts are the same between projects and can MIX the techniques on ONE stocking! Whoa, Xtreme Knitting.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Guatemalan Baby Cribs & Socks

While I was walking around the little nearby town of Fronteras Rio Dulce the other day, I spotted these unusual baby cages cribs.

I love the natural peeled tree branches which were used for this wooden crib. Very rustic, natural and warm. The swinging hammock style crib below is made from strips of knitted fabric, including the bottom. I thought that these were both so innovative as they used materials that were from the parent's environments and were not mass-produced nor expensive. Hey! I want a swinging bed like this little fellow has!

As promised it is now time for some knitting updates. The sock blanks that I dyed while anchored out in the Albuquerque Cays a couple of months ago have been knit up into (surprise) socks. So, here's the reds, black and a touch of gold blank before it was unraveled and turned into socks.
These are the adult-sized socks knit straight from the blank. The photo is a little washed out looking. The heels and toes were knit with a black commercial yarn (Regia 75% wool/ 25% nylon) because the blanks were 100% merino which would not stand up to the daily wear that I expect these socks to take.

Next, I combined the leftover yarn with the black Regia and worked stripes alternating every 2 rounds. I actually like these better - the black sets off the colors.

The "Caribbean Sea, Sky & Reef" colored sock blank produced these socks. The merino wool is so soft! Again, I wanted to use reinforced yarn for the heels and toes so I dyed up a small hank of some Regia off-white sock yarn to match. The leftovers from this sock blank are currently being used to create a Monster Sock by combining it with some yellow yarns in my leftovers.
At the same time that I dyed these two sock blanks, I overdyed a blob of non-matching self-patterning yarns. As I only had rather small bits of these leftovers, these socks were knit as "fraternal twins" rather than identical. The overdyeing color brings a uniformity to the socks. The blob was a tangled mess and I swear I spent more time untangling yarn than I did actually knitting the socks. Lesson learned: Take the time to make neat butterfly hanks from the yarn before dyeing them. I sure hope some kid in Kazakhstan with cold toes enjoys these latest finished knitting projects!

But wait. . . there's more. . . I'll post some more finished projects soon. I certainly don't want to overwhelm you with all the sockingly exciting photos in one post.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010



We've made it safely to Guatemala and a new chapter in our adventure begins.
After 7 months of living on the sea and on the hook at anchor, we are now tied to a marina dock to hide from hurricanes. The wierd part is we are in FRESH water! Yep. We motored up the Rio Dulce river about 22 miles inland to Mario's Marina where we were greeted by cruising friends and friendly staff waiting to help us slide into our space and tie up to the dock. We are the center boat in this photo.

Here's a picture of Jonesy enjoying the Indy 500 race on television the day after we got here. He was served lunch and was brought cold beers by his lovely and attentive (except when she's knitting) assistant throughout the day so that he wouldn't miss a single moment of the race.

Despite the heat and humidity, we had chores to complete as soon as we got here to switch modes from active cruising to dock life; pickle the water-maker, set up the shade awning, do laundry in a real washing machine, hook up the electrical to the dock, paperwork with the marina, get onto the WiFi, get the air-conditioning working. Oops. The water pump (the A/C is water cooled) didn't work. After 2 trips (by boat) to town we bought a replacement and Jonesy installed it. Oops. The A/C needs to be recharged with refrigerant after 2 years of being in hibernation. So that fellow is coming out today.

"Town" is called Frontiera or Rio Dulce and is a rather long dinghy ride from the marina. So, another chore was to buy better transportation as our dinghy is old and failing. Ta-da! Here's Jonesy in our new 14' fiberglass panga launchita. Our 9.8hp outboard from our dinghy powers this new boat and we can get to town in just minutes now.

So how did we get here - up a river and on a lake? First we had to determine when there would be a high tide in the morning at the entrance to the Rio Dulce. That is because there is a sandbar across the entrance which is very shallow so we need a high tide. Plus, it takes several hours to check into the country and we needed plenty of time to get all the way to the marina. At the same time, we needed a weather window to sail from Roatan island of Honduras to the mainland of Guatemala.

So, everything came together and we crossed over to the little mainland bay of Tres Puntas where we dropped the anchor for a night's rest. Early the next morning, we motored over to the entrance of the Rio Dulce river and "crossed the bar" at high tide and never tapped the bottom. Phew! What a relief as we've been anxious about this for a long, long time.

But before we could continue up the river, we had to check into the country of Guatemala; immigration, customs, health inspection, agriculture, and the port captain. We had emailed an agent to handle this for us and he came out to our boat soon after we anchored outside of the town of Livingston, bringing with him all of these officials! As we all sat in our cockpit, papers would passed and signed, questions were asked and answered and friendly chatter abounded. What an easy process this was here compared to some other countries! There are no roads to Livingston - it is only accessable by boat.

We wandered around Livingston for awhile while our paperwork was prepared. Check out this play equpment. I love the metal basket swings! And this strange looking set up is the laundry facility for the local people. Because many houses do not have running water, the local towns build these plazas with individual basins for the women to do the wash. You know, I think it would be more fun to wash and socialize at the same time than to do it alone at my house! After we stood in line at the bank (45 min.) to get the Guatemalan currency to pay for our processing (Q1000 or about $125 total) we completed the transaction and set out to motor up the river.

From Livingston, we entered the Rio Dulce river gorge. The current was running about 2 knots against us so we could only make about 3 1/2 knots speed over ground. Over thousands of years, the river has carved a deep gorge down through the rock and nature has covered the cut with jungle growth. Those are TALL full grown trees in these photos. Look closely and you will see another sailboat right ahead of us making the trip - that will give you a little sense of the scale of this gorge. And here's a photo looking back - that's our sad, overworked, over-patched dinghy being towed behind us. Time for a summer's rest little Scooty Puff Jr. before we head out cruising again next fall.

Along the river there were people fishing from wood canoes or paddling between the small Mayan settlements. The sound of the cicadas (insects) was deafening! Total jungle! We found out later that this was the first non-rainy day here for over a week so maybe that's why all the birds and insects where out singing.

We passed mineral hot springs where we could smell the sulfur fumes. You'll just have to trust me, but in this photo there is a canoe at the base of the cliff with a couple of people in it (the small white dot in front of the smaller cave). Jonesy and I kept remarking on the vibrant colors of GREEN. They were almost unreal.

Sadly, right after we arrived, tropical storm Agatha blew in on the Pacific side of the country (we are on the Caribbean side). At the same time the eruption of the volcano near Guatemala City was going on. Two natural disasters for the people of this beautiful and poor country. We only experienced a tad of ash falling and some heavy rains. Bridges were washed out so that there was (is still?) no travel between here where we are and the capital city. But, parts of Guatemala are still reeling. There are boxes here at the marina to collect food (rice & beans) and clothing for the people who have lost everything which wasn't much to begin with. I'll post about the status of the situation when I know more.

And, I promise to post photos of the socks that have been completed recently...later! I'll leave you with this road sign we saw in Honduras for a school zone. What? Watch out for chubby kids being pushed by rotund parents?

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