Wednesday, October 31, 2012



Terry's workspace on Niki Wiki
Today is Halloween so I thought that I'd share a couple of the Monster Socks on the needles this week. Halloween isn't a big deal here in Guatemala, but tomorrow is Day of the Dead and that is the holiday in Latin America.

Monster socks are knit using whatever leftover yarns are available. Sometimes we monster knitters (a class of creative and thrifty individuals) just randomly pick up small balls from the basket and knit with what we get. But other times we like to make them look as beautiful as possible. I've been reading a couple of group forums on Ravelry lately, Monstersocks and Restend to pick up some ideas for combining my own odd little bits of sock yarn. Remember, my fellow knitting retreat campers donated a pile of sock yarn a few months ago and I'm challenging myself to knit-it-up!

Child size with a little bit of Fair Isle work
So, I've been working as you can see from my studio cramped work space here on the boat. There are actually 3 different socks in progress in this pile of yarns. These blue/green socks have a touch of fair isle stranded color knitting in them. That keeps me happy and challenged and makes the socks a little more special for the kids.

Then, I felt like doing a larger sized sock (Men's Medium) using more subdued colors. These next ones are worked in 10 rounds of 5 different sock yarns "shnivels" as Lee Ann from camp labeled them on her donation bag.  You can see that I knit both socks of a pair at the same time. That let's me know how much yarn I have left so I can make a matchy-match pair (and so I can remember what int he world I did on the first sock).
10 rounds each 5x1 ribbing, let the yarn talk

The town of Rio Dulce was a busy place this week. So busy in fact, that Jonesy got hit in the shoulder by the rear-view mirror of a truck while walking down the street. No big injuries, except to our sense of well-being. When drivers illegally park their vehicles on the side of the road, even for a minute, then the 2 way traffic has to creep around them taking turns to pass. Everyone is in a hurry. At the same time, pedestrians are trying to navigate this same narrow stretch of pavement. Both sides of the road are crowded with tiny stores, street food vendors, shoe shine boys, women with baskets of veggies, cheese, tortillas, you name it.

Rio Dulce traffic
So we were walking around a parked van with a truck coming towards us. As we passed the van, the truck swerved towards us and the van and clipped Jonesy. We were both shaken up, but are fine. The mirror didn't hit me as I walked behind Jonesy because the force of the impact bent the mirror into the truck (they are made to do that).  We still walked our 2+ miles, shopped, then went back to the safety of the boat.

Here's a shirt that we spotted on this young fellow selling dried white, red, and black beans on the side of the road. "WWCD? What would Ceepak do?" is what the printing says. John Ceepak is a fictional character in a popular series of mystery novels by Chris Grabenstein written in English. Like a lot of the discarded clothing in the USA, this shirt found it's way down here to Guatemala. Guatever.

NEWS!  This blog, with our sailing and my knitting aboard in remote places lifestyle was featured on Kelley Petkun's Knit Picks Podcast #200! You can listen to it here.

Remember, today is the final day of October and tomorrow is the first of November. Members of the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo Group know that this means that today is the last day to download the free knitting and crochet patterns before they disappear. Tomorrow there will be a whole new batch of free patterns to enjoy!

Monday, October 22, 2012


Castillo de San Felipe, Rio Dulce Guatemala

Jonesy protecting us all from pirates
Finally...we actually got to scramble around inside the large Spanish colonial fort Castillo de San Felipe. Although we've driven our little launcha past this historical landmark a few times, we've always been on our way to someplace else. It's only 4 miles from our marina. Isn't that the way it is sometimes? You just never get around to exploring things that are right in your home town - until visitors come, right?

Well, this time it was an Arts Festival which was being staged at the fort that got us up there. We wanted to check it out and I was there to help man a booth where the orphanage Rayo de Esperanza (Ray of Hope) was selling some of the kids handmade jewelry and bags.

British? canon from 1796 in a Spanish Fort
The Spanish installed and operated this fort to keep the English pirates from entering Lake Izabal and looting everything in sight. After several hundred years.from about the mid-1500's all the way up to the early 1900's.  Now it is a popular tourist destination in a lovely park setting.

The Arts Festival wasn't well attended. Hopefully next year word will have gotten out and more visitors would attend. There were plenty of vendors and educational displays! Unfortunately, the first 2 days of the event were the last 2 days of school and most kids had final exams. Oops, bad timing.
Terry perched on canon

We have continued with our walking for exercise despite Jonesy having injured and re-injured his knee. If he wears an elastic brace he can keep it from over-extending his knee and we can get our walk on. Although the temperatures are still high here, there have been brief moments of cooler temps (like in the low 80's) and breezes which have made the walks easier.

And because we start our walks from the town of Rio Dulce, we get to shop for fresh veggies and fruits more often! Yeah!

Teak tree farm
Today we spotted a new-to-us bird. We think it was an Eastern Kingbird either on it's migration down from North America or actually wintering over here. That's one of the fun parts of hanging out in Central America - there are plenty of opportunities to see birds!

And teak trees! These teak trees are along our new walking route. Someday, the wood from this tree farm will make long-lasting and lovely decks and furniture for future sailboats. This time of year, the teak trees are all blooming way up in their high branches. It's hard to see from below, but when you can manage to be on a hill above them you can see the light green to yellowish clusters of blooming "stuff" (that's my scientific term for when I don't know if they are actually flowering yet, or still budding, or have flowered and now there are seed pods).
Blooming teak trees

Life is changing here on the Rio Dulce. As hurricane season ends and as North America starts to freeze there has been both an exodus of folks from the north to down here and even a few hardy cruisers already leaving to head out to the Caribbean Sea. There are folks who have spent almost as much time as we have here but that we have never met. We leave to go cruising just as they come down for the "winter".  But this year we are planning to leave later in the winter.

But, we did lose some very good friends this past week. They sailed away to Mexico and onward to Florida and the Eastern Caribbean islands. We met them many years ago on the Pacific side of Mexico and then reunited on this (Caribbean) side of Central America. Safe travels dear Hooligans Paula, Tim, and boat dog Nigel! We'll see you again in about a year perhaps when we sail that direction!

Treasure Pocket Socks
Got socks! These are some socks with one of my little secret treasure pockets knit into them for the kids in Kazakhstan. The yarn is Knit Picks Felici Sport Self Striping. Although it is called a "sport" weight which is fatter than the usual sock yarn, it is a fluffy and lightly spun yarn (soft!). I started out with size US2 needles on the cuff and soon realized that I needed a tighter gauge for a better wearing sock. So I ended up on my usual size 1.5 needles. The downside was that the yardage is less with this yarn, and the striping pattern so broad, that I ended up with mismatched toes because there wasn't enough yarn to match. They will still keep some feet warm.

No lace knitting to report. It is screaming at me now and I had to confess on the Yahoo group that I was a lace knitting slacker. I WILL pick it up again.

In the meantime, I also am working on a pair of Monster Socks using up some leftovers, finishing up the second sock for an old pattern of mine, and test-knitting for another designer. Here I'm flashing a bit of the test knit. The yarn is Trekking (XXL) and there was no repeating of the color patterning in a WHOLE SOCK! Which means that the finished pair will have to be fraternal twins. Test knitting for others gives me the opportunity to experience different ways of constructing socks and writing instructions.
Roasted peppers and tomatoes

Ok, I'm off to prepare the Chili Relleno Casserole we're taking to the Cruiser's Potluck supper tonight. It will have to be a Guatemalan version because there simply are not the "correct" California or Anaheim chilies available here. So, I'm adding a touch of ground pork and using bell peppers like the locals do for their chili rellenos. Then I'm assembling it all together like I used to do for my family years ago. In fact, it was my son who inspired me because he asked for the recipe recently. I'm tickled that he remembered it and wanted to share it with others.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Dear All the Mamas

It's here! Last night we released the eBook (that I've been working on with 2 other editors) for your reading and knitting pleasure!

Dear All the Mamas; Knitting for the Orphans of Kazakhstan is available for a donation of $15.95 to the Motherless Child Foundation through Ravelry. ALL proceeds flow directly to this 501(C)(3) nonprofit public charity to help fund our work for the children in orphanages in Kazakhstan.

Not only does this 70-page eBook feature a collection of 21 PATTERNS, but the knitters of the Mittens For Akkol Yahoo group also have shared our knowledge and experience about knitting for extremely cold weather. We have included several stories about the children and experiences in Kazakhstan, sizing charts, and information for all knitters who enjoy working in wool and providing warm items for others.

I contributed 6 of my patterns and 9 other designers also contributed patterns, including two new patterns from knitting rock star, designer, author, teacher, and founder of Lorna's Laces Yarns Lorna Miser! So, now you know what I've been busy working on these past 9 months - heck, could have produced another child in that time. Speaking of kids...HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my youngest son Brett! So much to celebrate!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Turtlegrass Socks

Turtlegrass Socks
Introducing the new Turtlegrass socks knitting pattern! When our boat guest Bobbi gifted me some yummy Cascade Heritage Paints yarn I knew it had to grow up to be a new design for socks. I fiddled with a curving lace motif and introduced some 1x1 ribbing elements into the lace in the cuff for a better fit. Then then lace sways down the leg and gently diminishes asymmetrically on the top of the foot. Just like the turtlegrass that swayed under our boat when we were anchored in Roatan Island, Honduras last winter and spring. And yes, there were turtles swimming about in the turtlegrass,

The exciting part of this new pattern is that it has been selected as the KnitAlong pattern for October and November on the Six Sox Knitalong Yahoo group! That's why I haven't been able to share it until now - had to keep it a surprise to the 3000+ group members.

Not a surprise, there's been knitting for the orphanage in Kazakhstan. Here are some socks that I knit with Berroco Sox yarn which was donated to me by fellow knitting retreat camper Joan S. Thank you Joan! And a few more knitted bracelets (cuffs) for the kids came off of the needles. The group has now made 500+ bracelets which will be hand-carried to the orphanages in mid-November along with the socks and other warm items.
Reversible Cuff Bracelets
These reversible double-knitting cuffs sure are time consuming to knit! The first few rows of the color knitting section are the hardest. Then after awhile I found that I developed a rhythm and could keep the yarns from twisting around each other. I think I'll stick with the sock knitting as it's quicker and doesn't challenge my brain so much. The Reversible Cuff Bracelet pattern is now being test knitted and will be available soon.

Speaking of socks, here's another pair that I whipped up for the kids in Kaz. I used one of my go-to "Monster Socks" methods for these which is simple stripes of 2 rounds each. Yep, there are two different colors of hand-dyed yarns used in these. The cuffs, toes and heels are the more blue toned colors. The legs and foot are worked in 2 rounds of this blue, then 2 rounds of a green and blue colorway. Why did I do this? Because another knitting retreat camper (Chris) donated a bag of beautiful yarn that she dyed and in the bag was 2 little wound up "cakes" ready to use. Each ball (cake) wasn't enough for a pair of socks, but if I combined the yarns I could squeeze out a teenager sized pair of warm wool socks.

That's what "Monster Socks" are all about - creatively using up leftover or small balls of yarns. This yarn is from Briar Rose Fibers and is delicious! It is lofty, full of life and a real joy to knit with. I'm soooooo looking forward to winding up some of the other skeins Chris donated just so I can fondle this yarn again.

Chris of Briar Rose Fibers isn't the only one doing a bit of fiber hand-dyeing these days. Paula from the sailing vessel Hooligan brought out her Tie-Dye kit and shared it with a few of us fortunate cruisers. This kit has been on her boat for 5 years! It was finally time to get it out and play.

s/v Hooligan Paula
I decided to colorize a lightweight shirt that I wear to sleep in and hang out on the boat. It was a plain light blue and big and baggy and comfy. First we tied rubber bands in the t-shirts. Some of us obviously placed these dye-restricting rubber bands much more strategically than other. Some of us had watched the video. Not me. Oh well.

The next step was to soak the banded shirts in a bucket of water with washing soda. After 20 minutes, we artfully(?) applied dye from the red, blue and green squirt bottles. Some of us got dye on our clothes that we were wearing. Some of us (ok, just me) got dye on my feet which is STILL there after showering and scrubbing.

s/v Happy Times Mikayla

This was so much fun! The next step was to put the dyed shirts into individual ziplock bags and let them sit overnight (ferment? - mine smelled terrible the next day).

The next day (today) we rinsed the still-banded shirts with a hose, then removed the rubberbands and rinsed again. Removing the bands was a real chore and my hands are still bluish tinged.
Tie-Dyed Shirts
Then it was time for a final rinsing and voila! Got tie-dye! I'm really impressed with the results from the other folks! I guess it does pay to follow the instructions.

Boat dogs Nigel and Belle joining in the fun
We hung them out on the clothesline at the back of the marina to dry. Next step? I guess we'll have to wear them in public.

So, that's what I've been up to lately. Jonesy is continuing to knock off chores from his to-do list. We finally received our shipment of anti-fouling paint for the bottom of the hull. A thousand bucks for 5 gallons of paint. Painful.  I am excited about the new LED light Jonesy installed over the galley sink - it's so bright! I can really see now when I do the dishes. Maybe they'll get done more frequently - as if.

Terry's sleeping/boat-slug shirt

So, other than weekly potlucks with fellow cruisers, "Trivia" quiz night, All-you-can-eat Taco Bar night, shopping in town for veggies, that's all that's been happening in these parts. We're planning to have the boat hauled out in December for the bottom job and other things we can only do when it isn't floating. Then we'll mosey on up to Belize probably in February after the storms from the north die down a bit. Then on to Mexico and the Yucatan area. At least that's the plan...and we all know that cruisers' plans are written in the sand at low tide. Subject to dissolving.

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