Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Sprang has Sprung!

First, let me say that I'll never abandon knitting as my primary fiber arts pleasure. But, I'm not a monogamous crafter. I do occasionally stray off with other fiberly delights. This week I have discovered the ancient art of Sprang through the Braids and Bands Yahoo Group. Sprang has now sprung from these old fingers.

This photo is of my very first attempt to make the two primary movements of the warp strands to create an open-ended practice piece. I used some nylon cording that I have on the boat (crafts as well as boat stuff) because it is slick and smooth so will be easy to work with. One of the local carpenters made me 2 frames from the blueprint plans I got from the group so I am ready to begin a real project - whooo hooooo!

What do you think this photo kind of looks like? How about a hammock! Yep, many hammocks are made using this textile technique - how cool is that? I've often studied the hammocks that I spend a lot of time in when we are at anchor and wondered how they were made. Now I know! No, I won't be starting off with a full-sized hammock or trying any of the fancier twists which create lace. But I will try to make a little one to...to...use...use...well, to use for something, somewhere on the boat. It's not about the finished item - it's all about the act of creating it that is fun important.

But this new adventure in the textile arts world must wait for a week or so. Right now I have to concentrate on getting the boat, and us, ready to set sail for Roatan Island, Honduras. Mr. Auto Racing Team Manager, Jonesy, has his project schedule and has been checking off items every day. I knit, (feed him and murmur encouragement periodically).
GRASSHOPPER woven from palm fronds - 55 cents

Our recent professional boat survey found some issues deep inside the bowels of the boat yet Jonesy has already worked to eliminate them as potential safety threats. It was unexpected work, and took quite a bit of bizarre physical contortions on Jonesy's part to actually reach the offending items down in the (scary to me) bilge. Not only did he manage to wriggle and snake his body through all of the equipment down there, but he has emerged relatively unscathed.

Now he is up on deck installing the jib sail that we had re-stitched and showed back up yesterday afternoon along with our new dinghy chaps. (Hopefully he will still be able to move tomorrow).

On the knitting front, I experimented with some modular square knitting to create an after-thought pocket. The socks were already done but I wanted to add a secret pocket for the kid who gets these. Thanks to my crafty friend, Saundra, who suggested that the button for the closure should be red. Yep. That really works! I've tucked in a little Guatemalan coin for a surprise. These socks won't go out until next year for the 2014 Sock Challenge campaign of the Mittens for Akkol Yahoo Group.

Of course, there are already more monster socks knit with leftover yarn on the needles. I still have quite a bit of yarn from donations which I have been mixing with my own "restends" as the German knitters call the unused small amounts of yarn.

When I make these fun little darlings I usually will knit a few inches on one sock then switch the the matching sock for a few inches. This way I can get them to somewhat match as far as the yarn used. This pair has a couple of self-patterning yarns in it so the colors that show will be different from sock to sock. But the pair will (hopefully) have a cohesive appearance.

Adding just a touch of stranded colorwork (Fair Isle style) helps to not only use up the different yarn colors but also adds a little design element. I like to break up plain ole striping with simple 1x1 or 2x2 alternate stitches of two colors. It doesn't take much brain power to work these and I like how they look. The heel is worked in the slip stitch heel pattern alternating yarn every 2 rows. Because of the slip stitch it mimics the 1x1 stranded stitches used on the leg and foot of the socks.

School is out for the "summer" vacation in these parts. During what is technically the winter months is what the locals call summer. There is far less rain and the temperatures are not quite so hot. The Christmas holiday season is well-celebrated and families like to travel to be together for longer than the few days that folks in the states tend to do.

We see children more on our walks. Here are a couple of young boys who were out collecting firewood with their (young) father. Many (most?) of the local families still cook only with wood. We often have seen men and women foraging for wood on our walks. They don't need to get out and walk just for exercise as we do because they have to walk to the same place we do - and then chop wood - and carry or cart it back home.

See how this boy carries the wood in a bag with a forehead strap? This is the traditional way that loads have been carried for centuries. This is also how the local women often carry their infants!

Traditionally, these bags were made with maguey which is a fiber extracted from the agave plant. The process is very time consuming to get the fibers separated from the stalks, cleaned and spun into a usable product. These days, most utilitarian morrales (bags) are made of cheap and long-lasting plastics. Yes, I own one of the real maguey bags (which was hard to find and cost $4) and a couple of the plastic ones (50 cents to $1 each). I found this bag in the town of El Estor on the shores of Lake Izabal in the sleepy little mercado (market). For more information about this fiber check out this article by Kathy Rousso from the Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings.

Gotta go to town while the sun is shining today to pick up some last minute provisions! We are expecting a "norther" storm tomorrow to bring heavy rain so we'll be stuck on the boat. Still...life is good.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Dos Cables En Uno Scarf Pattern FREE PATTERN

The other day on Ravelry a knitter asked if somebody could find a pattern to match a photo she posted. It was really a very simple scarf with a cable (or two cables) running up the center. No pattern found.

So, I wrote up a pattern by reverse-engineering off of the photo. The result is Dos Cables En Uno Scarf (Two Cables into One). This narrow (6") scarf starts with 2x2 ribbing that is morphed into the two opposingly twisted cables which together makes what is known as a horseshoe cable. The difference here is that there is a stitch - or two - between the cables. Originally I thought it was just 1 reverse stockingette column, but now I'm thinking that two reverse stockinette stitches is a better option.

We're still getting prepared for our big sailing adventure to the Bay Islands of Honduras, perhaps Belize and Mexico and then over to Key West! This will be over many months. So far it is still a "go" for early December. The professional survey on the boat has been completed (no show-stopping issues found) which was the big unknown in our planning. The canvas guy is waiting for the special Tenara thread to repair a sail cover, and Jonesy has another dentist appointment tomorrow (yes, they work on Sundays here). We have sold our cherished fiberglass launcha (skiff) to be relinquished the day we leave. It has served us well here on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala.

Anyway here is the FREE KNITTING PATTERN for the version with the cables separated by 2 sts. Enjoy!

(2 Cables into One)
By Terry Morris - SailingKnitter

350 yds. Worsted weight yarn (sample knit in Knit Picks Worsted 100% wool, Bare)
US size 7 (4.5mm) needles or size needed to obtain gauge

Size:  6” wide
Gauge: 5 sts = 1” over Cable Pattern in worsted weight
Note: Any weight of yarn such as chunky or bulky may easily be substituted in this pattern by also increasing the needle size. The width of scarf will also be wider.

Cast on 30 sts.
Row 1 (RS): *k2, p2, repeat from * to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 2 (WS): *p2, k2, repeat from * to last 2 sts, p2.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until border measures 3 1/2" ending after working a Row 1.
Set Up for Cable (WS): (p1, k1) 4 times, p6, k2, p6, k2, (p1,k1) 3 times.

Begin Cable Patterning. Use either the following written instructions or the chart below.
Row 1 (RS): (k1, p1) 4 times, C6B, p2, C6F, p2, (k1, p1) 3 times.
Row 2 and all even rows (WS): (p1, k1) 4 times, p6, k2 p6, k2, (p1, k1) 3 times.
Row 3, 5, and 7: (k1, p1) 4 times, k6, p2, k6, p2, (k1, p1) 3 times.
Row 8: same as Row 2.
Repeat these 8 rows until piece is your desired length minus 3 ½" for the final border ending after working a WS row.

Work Border the same as the beginning border until border is 3 1/2". Bind off. Weave in ends.  


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Antigua and Chichicastenango Guatemala - knitting all the way

Can you guesss what all this stuff is?

Last week I took off out of the hot and humid jungle lowlands of Guatemala here where our boat is docked and rode the bus up to the colonial town of Antigua. It was a long trip of many hours on a ratty bus this time and then an over-packed van but it was worth it to reach our goal. Ah...the cool temps of the highlands brought life back into this old gal.

This was a shopping trip and these goodies pictured here were at the top of my list of things I wanted to find and buy. Obviously, I was successful - but it took a lot of work, walking, talking in my lousy Spanish to women whose first language is K'iche' (Quiche), hand-waving, and pantomines. I wanted to find and buy, and these Mayan women wanted to sell something to me.
Pictured above are two handmade Guatemalan Backstrap Weaving Looms and a couple of cotton spinning spindles!

These simple, rough tools are used to make the beautiful woven textiles that make the weavers famous throughout the world. Saundra, my crafty travel buddy, and I watched several women as they used these looms in their stalls while waiting for customers and were facinated with how fast they worked. I certainly don't expect that Saundra and I will be making anything quite so beautiful, but we are excited to get some warp threads on these babies and get weaving! Yes. We bought oooodles of colorful thin cotton threads and even some very chunky handspun wool on a day trip to the fabulous local market in Chichicastenango.

Did I say thread? Check out this shop in Chichicastenango.That is all cotton weaving thread on the top shelves and back and DMC brand cotton embroidery thread on the racks. This is only a small portion of what they had for sale. You name it, they had every type of fiber content (nylon, rayon, cotton) and type (Omega #2 cording, sewing, pearle, etc.) We didn't buy our stuff here as it was more expensive than out in the scruffy temporary market day stalls. The market was a jungle of activity and was very difficult to make our way through the narrow makeshift alleyways as they were throngs of people. You can see that this expensive store was quite devoid of customers.

In the photo above of some of my booty that I bought, you may spot a couple of DMC brand embroidery charts. This is something that I was looking for as I had read that the Mayan women have historically used European charts for their embroidery work after being introduced to them by the early colonial folks. The brown paper wrapped circular object is chocolate for hot chocolate. 100% pure cacao including all the natural cocoa butter, and sugar plus a touch of cinnamon. The Mayans have been drinking cacao for thousands of years - not made with milk but with water which makes a much stronger tasting and delicious drink. I've been hooked ever since trying it years ago.
Market day in Chichicastenango Guatemala

Our hotel in Antigua was called "Sin Ventanas" which we thought was an odd name but it was cheap and right off of the central plaza in Antigua. Score! But little did we realize that during the day it was quiet - but at night the bar and disco downstairs was pounding! Saundra found the "music" obnoxious. I slept peacefully through it. The difference between us? I've been cruising in Latin American countries for many years and have anchored off of many party towns. After a while, I guess I just got used to it. The funny name of the hotel also finally made sense to us - "Without Windows". Nope! The 4 storied building was squished between two other buildings and there were no windows anywhere except at the front of lobby to the street. Each cell room had jalousy type glass windows which opened up to the single wide hallway kindof like a prison block. Whatever. We didn't spend much time holed up in a hotel room anyway - there was shopping and exploring to do!

Another quiz for you...where do you think we found this beaufiful courtyard complete with a fountain? Yes, it's in Antiqua and yes, we spent a lot of time here simply drinking splendid coffee and knitting. What? Your McDonald's doesn't look like this?

Yep. It's a McDonald's fast food restaurant with a separate McCafe lounge. As is commonly found in Latin American countries, the street front of the establishment very plain, but once you go inside and turn the corner you're in for a lovely surprise.
Terry and Saundra Knit at McDonald's Antigua Guatemala

Proof that this knitting spot is McDonald's is the familiar form of Ronald in the background of this next photo. Naturally, we were both knitting socks as they are such a nice portable project when traveling. The two balls of yarn on the table are mine - brown and green - which are for the new sock design of mine to be released in December. The pattern is already written and tested so I'm just working on the second sock here so that I can send the finished pair off to the kids in Kazakhstan.

Speaking of knitting for the kids, here's the latest pair of socks off the needles for them. The lacy cuff is a little experiment of mine for a new pattern. I didn't have enough pink yarn for a full pair so once I played around with the cuff, I switched and knit the foot in a black wool yarn with a silver metallic thread running through it (both are donated yarns from knitting camp). The black yarn is Sandnes Garn Sisu Glitter and surprisingly the metalic thread is not scratchy or itchy.

We're in countdown mode for sprinting away from the docks here at Mario's Marina. Our plan is to cast off on/about Dec. 1st. There are a lot of activities that need to take place between now and then but we've done all this before - it just takes a lot of organization and luck. All repairs on the boat are done, so now we're just waiting for one last dentist appt for Jonesy, the required professional survey of the boat for the insurance company, the high tide around the 1st. and good weather! Life is good.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


2014 Calendar of Hope

The 2014 Calendar of Hope has been released. Yippeee! Now I can share my design contribution to this fundraising project - the Heliconia Cloth. Although the patterning looks complicated it is really quite easy to knit. There are only knit and purl stitches, yarn-overs and 2 types of decreases; k2tog and SSK.

This collection of 11 knit and 1 crochet patterns is available as a PDF download on the Fitter Knitter (Cindy Moore) website for $18.

100% of Proceeds (less PayPal fees) are donated to the Army of Women organization which is a collaboration of efforts from both the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and Avon to drive research towards the cause of breast cancer. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 02, 2013



Niki Wiki gets moved to the water
We've splashed! After 4 weeks of continuous manual labor (by others) to repair the fiberglass blisters on the hull and many coats of anti-fouling paint, we are looking good and are back in the water. Our move from where we were set up on stands in the boat yard to down in the water took only about a half hour total. No real splashing even occurred - it all went smoothly as Niki Wiki was simply slipped into the river. It's always a worry for boaters though, as a lot CAN go wrong and often does.

Hauling out a big boat, and especially one that is also your home, is nerve-wracking, expensive and very inconvenient.
Jonesy supervising the "Splash"

But we did survive our 3rd (in the past 8 years) adventure to dry dock and living on land. We are now happily back in our slip at Mario's Marina (and summer camp for cruisers).

I'm always tickled when my crafting supplies come to the rescue in one of Joney's boat projects. This week he repaired the steps from the salon down to the galley which flip up on a piano hinge to provide access to some mysterious inner boat workings. He needed some sort of material
Craft foam used on base of stairs
to shim up the gap at the bottom of the stairs which had caused the intial hinge/woodwork failure. What to use? What about some of the craft foam sheets that I had in my stash? Yep! Those, plus the contact cement that I had just purchased for a cosmetic repair in the aft head were the perfect solution! Here's a photo of the double layer of white foam strips cut and glued onto the base of the stairs. Not only does it shim up the height correctly, but it also protects the teak and holly wood flooring of the galley.

That reminded me that I wanted to also share the way we hang our rolls of paper towels in the galley. See this? These are two cintas which are
Paper Towel Holder
lengths of handwoven belting that local Mayan women wear in their hair. I recycled a plastic buckle cut off of a snorkeling vest which failed and tacked the ends of the belts to a wood trim piece on the ceiling around our mast (yes, the mast comes down thru the galley to the bilge and no, I don't mind poking holes if the result is a practical solution).

To add a new roll of towels we just unclip the buckle, reload, and clip the buckle. The friction of the towels against the vinyl mast covering makes it easy to take just one towel at a time. Voila!

I know, these will sway when we are at sea making passages from one place to another. But it sure beats having a paper towel roll flying around the galley! Plus I love the colorful textile crafts of Guatemala and like to incorporate them into my home - the boat.
Tacked to ceiling trim

KNITTING (always)

The knitting of socks for the kids in Kazakhstan has continued. First up is a simple ribbed pair knit with mystery yarn from donations at knitting camp. The red/magenta hand-dyed yarn was wonderful to work with and has a soft halo. There was a lot of yarn leftover so naturally they'll be a second pair soon. These are sized for a younger child.

And there was yet another pair of monster socks which flew off the needles. I love knitting socks from all the leftover yarns because it is thrifty - AND - challenges me to combine the colors in a way that isn't ghastly. It's just my my warped idea of fun and because it actually produces something that someone will find useful I don't consider it a waste of time. This last pair uses a mixture of different self-patterning yarns knit by alternating yarns every 2 rounds. Yep. I got them to match too!

But they have a secret! I played around and knit in a little pocket using a different technique than I'd used in the past for my little pockets. This one is knit as a tube and then has a 3-needle bind-off finish.

Perhaps I should put some sort of closure on the top? I've shown both a view of the little pocket pulled out to the right side of the leg, and then how it hangs on the inside (wrongside). You can see from the photo of the completed socks that there is nothing on the outside that hints at a pocket being there.

I'm just putting little pockets in for fun for the kids. I like to tuck in a "treasure" like a little coin from whatever country I'm in. But pockets in socks would also be convenient for adult socks so that folks could keep spare folding money, a hotel room key card, credit card, car key, female supplies, etc.

Monster Socks with Tube Pocket

Last week a friend and I took a little day trip out to El Estor with the goal of purchasing local Mayan fabrics and crafts. We were successful - so I'll be posting about that another day. Let's just say we left there in sensory overload and with our shopping baskets full. Life is good.

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