Saturday, July 28, 2012



Terry concentrating on socks
It's been a whirlwind past couple of weeks! First was the hellish trip from Guatemala to Wisconsin with numerous flight delays including an unscheduled overnight stay in Houston, an attack of the infamous norovirus, and arriving a full day later than planned in Milwaukee. Thank goodness for friends like Patty who had the pharmacy in Guatemala City deliver Pedialyte oral rehydration solution and Tylenol to the hotel and Jim and Linda who waited 8 hours for me in Milwaukee with their rental car to drive up to knitting camp. THANK YOU so very much!

Big Meeting Room Full of Knitters
Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp was wonderful as always. I attend Retreat 2.75 with about 60 other voracious (and some famous) knitters. By the first full day of camp I was back to feeling good and was ready to immerse myself in woolly goodness and converse in knit tech talk.

Very cool clogs with knitted print
We spent the day in the meeting room around our tables and listening to Meg and other campers share new ideas, techniques, books, anything related to knitting. Of course we are free to knit all the time! After dinner, we gather either back in the big room for impromptu discussions or in the "living room" seating area of the hotel to (duh) knit.

The Generosity of Knitters
The week before camp, I mentioned on our group discussion forum on Ravelry that I was looking for sock yarn leftovers or unloved balls to knit more socks for the orphanage in Kazakhstan. The response was unbelievable!! Soon after arriving my seat at the table became loaded with bags and boxes of beautiful sock yarns - not just small leftover balls, but some really nice yarn. Aren't knitters the greatest??? This will surely keep me busy for at least a year or even more.

When Jonesy heard about the donations he was a little concerned about how I would be able to carry back such a haul of yarn on my trip back to Guatemala. But never fear...I packed an extra suitcase inside of my suitcase for boat parts and yarn! Also, I had brought with me to the USA a large amount of finished socks to ship to the Motherless Child Foundation so I will have plenty of space. After all, the yarn is necessary to pack around the delicate boat parts like LED lights to provide plenty of really. And it's more friendly to the environment than bubble wrap.

So above are the pair of socks that were my travel take-along pair. I didn't get a lot of knitting done because I was so sick and spent time sleeping on the floors of both the Guatemala and Houston airport. At camp, I started a new pair with some of the donated yarns and made these monster socks. Now, I am working on two different pairs of socks with some of the self-patterning yarns from my new stash of yarn.

My good friend Sandi B. gave me some chunky weight Brown Sheep Nature Spun wool that she had won at camp so I could knit something for the orphanage. Wow - does that fat yarn work up FAST! Here's the vest I knit which is ready to be sent off with the load of socks.

Now I am in Oregon having a wonderful visit with my friend and teaching a sock knitting class. More on that later...

Monday, July 02, 2012


Dinghy tripping & NEW Socks

Woven Wisps Socks details of cuff
Let's start with the sock knitting, then we'll take a look at the journey we took up a little river in our launchita (panga, fiberglass skiff).

Finally, I have completed the second sock for my Woven Wisps Socks. Why did it take me a year to get this done? Well, remember I am not monogamous with my knitting projects - if something new calls me then I'll run off with another project. But I always come back to those I've left fermenting in the knitting baskets (yes plural). I tried to pick these up again while we were out in Roatan Island but because of the high humidity the wooden needles and yarn had swelled and I couldn't even move a single stitch! So, I put them back in time-out until we got into Guatemala and we could run the A/C on the boat. Yep, after about a week of drying out the interior the needles and yarn were ready to go.
Woven Wisps Socks

The work on the cuff takes some concentration, but the lace and ribbing down the leg and out the foot is actually very simple. Next December these socks will be given to a kid in one of the orphanages in Kazakhstan, either Akkol or Urupinka Children's Homes thru the Motherless Child Foundation.

I was loyal to my knitting of the Hug Me Socks that I had started on the sailing passage from Roatan to Guatemala. This is such a fun little knit and I can even knit in social settings on these so they were done very quickly (lots of social opportunities lately). Oh, I did run out of the purple yarn so the toes each got a little splash of the pink on the toes. We'll just pretend that we meant to do that. At least I ripped back one toe that had already been knit in purple and re-knit it with pink to get them to match.
Hug Me Socks
Now what to knit? How about "monster socks"? My jar of leftover sock yarn has been filled up from all this sock knitting so I thought it was time to make a pair of socks from some of these odd little bits. I do try to make them interesting but not clownish because I am not sure the kids in Kazakhstan would appreciate some of the over-the-top color combinations that are popular these days. So this next pair just kinda developed as I knit them. I work both socks on two different sets of double pointed needles so I can keep them relatively matched up. Not every knitter strives to match their monsters but again, I don't want to scare the kids.
Monster Socks with leftover yarns

Touch of Fair Isle Socks
Remember the blue, white and green socks from last month? Well, I did write up a pattern for them and it is available just for this month (July) on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo Group. I've called them "Touch of Fair Isle Socks" because that's what they have - mostly simple 2-round stripes with just a couple of stranded color work fair isle type designs for fun. The limited stranding helps to keep the socks more stretchy and the k1,p1 ribbing around the ankle will hug skinny ankles or stretch to fit ample ones.

A few days ago I wandered into the back jungle/garden area of the marina here and harvested  some stalks from the lemongrass that I planted last year. As I was chopping away awkwardly with my kitchen knife, one of the marina employees came out and hacked a path thru the overgrowth back to a stand of sugar cane. He whacked off a stalk with his machete, confidently sliced off the outer peel and offered me a good sized (6") chuck of cane. Yummy! You bite off bits of the wood strands and crush them in your molars to extract the cane juice. Then you spit out the dry sawdust stuff. Not really attractive, but sometimes it's worth it.

Then I noticed that there was a fruit that had just dropped from the cashew tree - nice and fresh! I twisted off the nut hanging from the bottom (it has a poisonous layer with a poison-ivy type chemical), then peeled the skin off of the "cashew apple". Next, I tossed it into the blender with some water, sugar, and the juice of a key lime and voila! I had a refreshing fruit beverage. Now I'm just waiting for the avocados to get closer to the picking stage and the starfruit to mature....

Captain Jonesy
Last week a group of us took our dinghies and launchitas out for an adventure up a nearby tributary river.  We gathered together at Mario's and then crossed the Rio Dulce and entered the jungle. This is the area where the howler monkeys live and, well, howl in the mornings. We can hear them clear across the river. They are rather aggressive so it's best to just listen and not try to go trekking around their territory.

Soon we entered the green pastures where brahma cattle grazed. The land had long ago been cleared for agriculture as has a lot of Guatemala. But along the river banks we saw many types of trees, flowers, butterflies and birds.

Brahma Bull
Oh, and bulls. Gotta watch out for those Brahma bulls. As we approached, the female cows moved away from the river, but the bull stood his ground, and then some. At one point he snorted and stomped forward a few steps. We got the message "GO AWAY!" and we did.

Split-leaf philodendron
Shirtless Jimmy - our fearless caravan leader
The tropical sun was hot and bright, so we intelligently zoomed from the shade of one overhanging tree to the next. Along the way some of the cruisers just stopped to simply enjoy the quiet and to spot the wildlife. Our little engines scare a lot of the bird life away so this is the best way to catch a glimpse of them. We heard a lot of different song birds but without our binoculars (oops) we didn't get to see them.

Some of us like to also examine the plants like this giant split-leaf philodendron that you're probably used to seeing as a house plant. We saw quite a few wasp nests hanging from the branches (look out!) and even the hanging woven next of a Montezuma Oropendola bird.

Open grasslands for cattle
In the trees, Bromeliads and orchids grew among the branches and several different species were in bloom. These plants are native to Central America and will take every opportunity to grow if given the space to do so. Maybe I should break down and buy a field identification book so we can know what we are looking at. That always makes it more interesting instead of just saying "oooo...look at the pretty purple flowers hanging from the thing-a-ma-jig leavy thingy"

Mayan family on the river

At one point, we passed by a family living along the river in their wooden huts. Yes, the photo is hazy because of the cooking smoke. There is no electricity or other utilities so the "home-fires" smolder all day in these Mayan homes to cook beans and 3-times-a-day make corn tortillas. We saw logjams of brush and logs way up high (5 feet above us!) in some trees overhanging the river which is evidence of how high the water can get during heavy rainfall. That, and the soggy soil from daily thunderstorms explains why the houses are up on stilts
100_1792After a couple of hours we were over-heated and ready for an early lunch. Exploring makes me hungry! Plus the A/C was running back on the boat and I had knitting to do.

Ahhhh, there's Mario's Marina ahead of us on the other side of the Rio Dulce. Home, sweet, summer-camp home.

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