Thursday, September 20, 2012


Independence Day Guatemala style

Now what is this? Hint: it's not a baby bra or a frilly bowtie. It's my two center mesh diamonds for "Waldesgrund", the intricate lace knitting table centerpiece that I've been working on with a Knit-A-Long (KAL) group on Yahoo. I'm blocking out some of my time and energy to focus on this design by the late Herbert Niebling (German master knitted lace designer). His patterns are beautiful and quite challenging.

Practice Swatch
First there was a swatch to check out gauge and different ways to handle the crossed stitches and edges. Then I cast on 3 stitches and began knitting the diamonds. Tiny, tiny thread (DMC Cotton Cebelia nr. 40) and needles (US 0, 2.0mm). but it is after all just knitting! Already I have learned so much from the other lace knitters on the group. That's what KALs are all about - sharing tips and tricks and encouraging each other.

More bracelets
After my brain has been fried by the lace knitting, I return to my comfort zone...socks (of course) and now these addicting bracelets for the kids in Kazakhstan. The little coins are 5 and 10 centavo pieces from Guatemala here and are so pretty and lightweight too! Value? Well about 1/2 a US penny and 1 cent respectively. They don't buy much even here, but they do add a bit of glitz to the bracelets.

The wider bracelet (cuff) is knit with two different colors of yarn in the double-knitting technique. This really fiddly knitting gives a double sided fabric that is reversible with the patterning being opposite colors on each side. I'm not happy with the little white purl bumps though, but thankfully I have an idea in my head to rectify that on the next experiment.

Last night when I was taking these pictures and chatting with folks, this bracelet flew off the table on onto Sherry's ankle. She wanted it! So she got it. I can go knit another one (or more). It's nice to know that a little piece of my knitting has gone to someone who wanted it.
Blue Water Cat's dinghy

It's still HOT here in the tropical lowlands of Guatemala. But we are expecting (hoping, wishing for) some cooler temperatures (like down in the low 80's) to finally arrive in the next month. The water temperature of the river is still up in the high 80's so it's tough to keep the boat cool even with air conditioning! Remember, us mono-hulls sit down in the water so our living quarters are submerged. Cooling rains only cool the top decks.

The heat and humidity didn't stop all the activities last week for the celebration of the Guatemalan Independence Day. Local schools had presentations by the students which were well attended by the families. Even some of the gringo cruisers helped celebrate.

Marco's 100% Guatemalan launcha
Here in the Rio Dulce both locals and cruisers decorated their dinghy's or fiberglass launchas and had a little parade. They started at BackPackers restaurant in town and motored past businesses and marinas on the river. We managed to get some photos when we went into town for our exercise. We walk 2+ miles along a nice paved road every other day to help offset our sedentary hide-in-the-A/C-on-the-boat lifestyle during these hot summer months. The tall teak and other trees along the way make enough shade for us that we don't get too over-heated. Gotta get out and move or we'll end up looking like the local manatees!

Volleyball at Mario's Marina under the cashew trees
Plenty of cold drinks and good conversation by the pool
As part of the celebrations Mario's Marina hosted a volleyball tournament, BBQ, and games for all. The kitchen staff prepared hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad which was served by the pool. Yummy!

Good news! The generator is again up and running! Jonesy was successful in the repair so he can cross that big chore off of the list.  This is a big ($$) maintenance summer for us as the boat needs to be hauled out of the water so that new bottom paint can be applied. Also, our insurance company wants a complete dry dock survey done which is a normal every-few-years hassle. Our boat is well-maintained - after all we have Jonesy! But if you could see some of the other boats you'd wonder how in the world they still float.

Because we were already planning to stay in Guatemala until the storms from the north die down, we have plenty of time to take care of all the tasks. But, really most of the time we do exactly what we want. That's what we call the good life.

Monday, September 10, 2012



I-Cord Bracelets
As a special treat for the 500+ kids in the orphanages in Kazakhstan that we support with our knitting on the Mittens 4 Akkol group some members have been knitting little bracelets. An experimental batch of 30 or so was sent and distributed in May of this year to the teenaged kids who were aging out of the children's home. They were a big hit! So the group decided to make enough (500+) to gift every child in the orphanages for their winter "Father Frost" celebration in December

Well, I told the group that I would stay focused on knitting warm socks for the kids because we need 500+ of these too and I love to knit socks. But then I made a life-changing discovery. While digging through my stash (sailboat insulation) for some thread to swatch for a new lace KAL (remember, I'm not a monogamous knitter), I came across a little bag of glitzy yarn. Who would have thunk it? Un-natural fibers and metalic glitz on my boat? Yep.

Suddenly I remembered that way, way back a looong time ago (2008) I had whipped up a little design for my Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group for bracelets. These are simply I-cords to be worn either alone, or multiple colors twisted together, or embellished with a charm, buttons, or beads. EASY. The pattern has a little tutorial on how to knit the tubes (I-cords) which are like some form of knitting magic. This little instructional pattern is free on or you can click here for instant gratification:


Twisted I-cord Bracelet
See? I just learned today how I can link to my free patterns on to my blog so I can share it with you right here! Anyway, I'm sure that other knitters will create even more fun and beautiful things than what I whipped up here a few days ago. See that flip-flop slipper "charm"? That is actually a piece from a set of little girl pony tail elastics. Very inexpensive and cute and they make great buttons for knit stuff too. The heart shaped plastic "charms" were bought at a bead store and I've attached them to the bracelets with a simple jump ring. (Yes, I know the flip-flop bracelet is different. It was knit just like the top cuff of a sock in 1x1 ribbing: cast on, rib for an inch, bind off. There...that's the pattern)

Conch Machine with chocolate
Now that we've finished discussing knitting we can move on to chocolate. While we were in Belize last week (resetting our visas for another 90-days in Guatemala) we visited a tiny local chocolate factory. The Cotton Tree Chocolate factory in Punta Gorda, Belize opens it's doors to the public and of course we visited. It was torture to walk past this place on the days/times when it was closed because the aroma of chocolate filled the air.

This photo is of the chocolate being smoothed out in the conch machine. I was given a little stick which had been dipped in this batch - yummy!  Besides chocolate, there wasn't any other exciting food to eat in the scruffy port town of Punta Gorda. On Saturday, when the fruit and vegetable market suddenly appeared along the road there were food stands selling BBQ chicken with coleslaw and beans. That was the food highlight of the 3-day trip; fresh apples, bananas and a styrofoam clamshell to-go box of chicken.

We had come prepared with a stash of portable foods such as granola bars, nuts and dried fruit (because we had visited here 2 years ago and knew about the food situation) so we didn't starve. Our bananas that we carried from Guatemala were confiscated by the customs official in Belize - oops. Thus we were fresh-fruit-less until Saturday as there is nothing fresh sold in the local stores.

We took long walks along the shoreline road to pass the time and explore. The breeze off of the Caribbean Sea was fairly steady so it was pleasant to get out and walk. Here is a photo of some white flowers that were blooming out in the fields. We've seen these lately in Guatemala here even in our marina by the boat. They are seen along banks where water stands such as the river here - and in Belize in flat, swampy areas. I've tried to identify them but no luck so far - any ideas?

Jonesy and his 9 Kilowatt 3-cyl Diesel Generator
That's all for now - Jonesy has the floorboards torn up here in the salon of the boat right now as I write this blog. He's working on the generator which konked out on us the last few days we were anchored on Roatan Island (spewed black smoke). There are piles of tools spread out, he's wearing his geek-factor headlamp, and now he's using his torch to heat up a bolt at his workbench in the galley. Uh-oh...he just said the word "Oops". That always scares me 'cause I worry if he hurt himself or just messed up. WAIT! Just now he announced that he found the problem!

As Guillermo the local master diesel mechanic suggested could be our problem, there is a clog in the exhaust system. Jonesy has torn apart the whole system and found the clog of exhaust particles in the exhaust manifold as pictured! Eureka! No expensive parts to replace - no way-too-expensive total replacement (like $18,000 US)! Time to celebrate!!!

I'll go make us some nice spaghetti with fresh bell peppers in various colors, onions and zucchini squash. Life is good.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?