Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Everyone's Gone to the Bahamas

Left behind. Where have all the boats gone? This marina was full when we arrived last July, now in February there are more empty slips than occupied slips. Everyone's gone to the Bahamas.

Now that the "Holiday Season" is over, many of the part-time snowbird cruisers have flown down from parts north and sailed off to the Bahamas for a few months. We've been left behind. Couldn't even go if we wanted to because of the dead engine. But then, we never planned to head down to the Bahamas. But still, it makes me very envious of those folks who are splashing in warm waters and drinking rum cocktails. Sigh. It's OK - we make our own fun.

See? Here's Jonesy working on the electronics in the navigation station inside the boat. Is he having fun yet? Our AIS (Automatic Identification System) which gives us data about the big freighters traveling in our area, has been not working for a while now. We like to use AIS, especially at night when making a passage, as it tells us how far away the ship is, how fast it is traveling and then calculates how close it will come to us in how many minutes! If the AIS forecasts that we'll come too close to a big ship, we can change course slightly to give us more sea space between our vessels. Radar just gives us a big blob on the screen which is enough to get your adrenaline going, but AIS gives us the data to make decisions.

Anyway, Jonesy carefully chased the signals all along the long wires and checked all the connectors. This meant he had to wiggle his way into small spaces. Lastly, he patiently buffed all corrosion off of every connector. Magic. That worked! That's the way it is on a boat on salt water. Corrosion happens. We're both very happy to have this checked off of our "To-Do" list of boat chores!

I've been playing with new knitting patterns for hand-knitters. Some are complicated and some are more simple. These CHEATING CHECKS Mittens are quite simple to knit. The self-striping sock yarn makes its own color changes for the checkers on the hand and the stripes on the thumb gusset. This is still being tested by my trusty testing friends on my group. When it's deemed fit for release, I'll put it up on Ravelry. Also I have a rather complicated sock pattern being tested right now too.

Yes, there have been a lot of mittens produced around here lately. They are such fun little projects and I love how they use up my immense stash of fresh bulky weight yarns from Brown Sheep Mill.

This next pair have "thrums" which are tufts of wool interlaced into the knitting. These are WARM mittens! I have fun combining the bulky wool yarn with different colors of roving, and even the yarn itself unraveled back into unspun.

Then with a barbed felting needle, from the outside, I stabbed and poked all the little V's of the thrums to better adhere them to the mittens. Why didn't I think of that before? Well, because until last summer I had never used a felting needle!! Now that I know what one can do I'll be poking and stabbing a lot more. Watch out!

Of course both of these are going to Kazakhstan in May for the orphans. My own boys have recently agreed to let me knit for them too. So I have also been busy with warm socks on the needles for the older son and am charting out a hat for the younger son.

Socks, socks and more socks are filling up my knitting bags. Unfortunately I am in the middle of some serious SSS (Second Sock Syndrome) where I have finished the first sock, but haven't even started the second sock. Starting a new project is so much fun, but repeating that same item again? Not so much fun.

I got into the current pickle because I have been test knitting for a couple of other designers. Only one sock needs to be worked through to test the design. So I jump to another project rather than make the twin sock. Oh! And I've received some more donations of beautiful sock yarns so I am excited to dig into the stash and play with different colors.

For example...here are the Her Ladyships Bed Stockings by Meagheen Ryan. I absolutely love the patterning on these socks (there are hearts on the front and on the foot too. The yarn was donated by Wooly Wonka Fiber to me to knit socks for the kids in Kazakhstan. The owner sent me some of her "seconds" or "mis-dyes". Whoa! They are beautiful and luxurious and you'll be seeing more socks knit with Wooly Wonka Fibers in the coming months. THANK YOU and the cold feet of the orphans thank you too!

What's this? These are pretty baubles as Jonesy calls them. I took a Glass Fusing glass at the Glynn Visual Arts Center on St. Simons Island and made these four pieces. You can see my finger in the lower right corner for scale.

This was my first time working with glass like this and it was so much fun!! I have some acrylic button shanks that I'll be gluing on the back of a couple of these to use as buttons for a single button vest or on a felted purse. Maybe I'll even have to wear one as jewelry. Yep. I've already signed up for an open studio workshop at the end of the month. What should I make this time? Any ideas?

Oh yes, life is good.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Sapelo Island of Coastal Southern Georgia

THE PERKINS "JIB" status - Ugh.

Yep. This is still how our engine looks today - still a no-go. We've managed to hoist the freshly machined head (as in top of engine, not toilet) back onto the boat but it sits gathering dust under the salon table. Unfortunately not all of the repair kit parts we ordered were the correct sizes for our head, but the originals (springs, etc.) were still in good condition thankfully. We ordered a "kit" and it was a mixed-bag of good and wrong parts. Sigh.

We are waiting for the big 100-lb casting from up north. Yes, we paid for it back in early December with a wire transfer, but the piece wasn't actually ready to ship. It still needed to be refurbished too, and there were problems with it. Oh, and the winter weather up in Massachusetts wasn't exactly cooperating either so work has been slow. To be fair, we told them that we weren't in any hurry as we aren't planning to leave here until late March or early April. They may (probably) have customers who are stranded and really need fast service so we can wait. But Jonesy is anxious to get this big chore done.

This coastal area of southern Georgia is a little on the sleepy side these days, but it has an interesting history and was quite prosperous in the past. The nearby village of Darien was once a major sea port for ships burdened with rice, cotton, and pine timber. So there's lots of historical sites to visit and ponder how life was out here back in "the day".

A new friend and long-time resident took me to see Christ's Church out on St. Simon Island. We toured the cemetery and viewed the beautiful stained glass windows. This one is my favorite. I seem to have good taste as this one is also the only certified made-by-Tiffany piece. I think I see a mitten pattern here....

Another day we took the ferry to Sapelo Island which is one of the barrier islands of Georgia. Access to this island is limited - you have to be a resident or have a prior reservation to meet someone who has permission to be on the island. Sapelo was once a large plantation with many slaves doing the labor, but is now mostly federal land of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and hosts the University of Georgia Marine Institute. For our tour of the island we had hired a local man who was a decedent of the slaves who once toiled the island. Today, only about 50 people remain. With no jobs or way to make a living, most of the people have drifted away.

Check out this historic lighthouse. After years of neglect following the civil war it has been refurbished. This light guided the big sailing ships into Darien. When we leave here to sail north, we will be passing by this lighthouse so we'll get to see it from the point of view of being on the water. It's nice to have BOTH perspectives!

I fell in love with Sapelo and the natural beauty it is today again. We watched a very informative slide presentation at the Marine Institute given by a marine scientist and were able to study their artifacts (turtle skulls, shells, and other marine goodies) in their laboratory. Fortunately for us, there was a group of  Road Scholar folks (aka Elder Hostel) touring the island that same day so we were able to piggy-back onto this part of their tour (oh and get invited to share their BBQ chicken & all the fixin's picnic lunch on the beach). We walked along the long, wide beach and saw horseshoe crab shells of many sizes, beached  jellyfish, and many beautiful shells. It was so nice to be back (almost) on the wild water and knitting in the sea breeze.

I also fell in love with the sweet grass baskets that are made on the island. Yep, I'm planning to take a class to make my own...one day.

Also on the island is the historic vacation mansion of R.J. Reynolds - the tobacco (and cotton) magnate. Today, groups of 16 or more people can rent the Reynolds Mansion for events as it is now a Georgia State Park. Now, wouldn't this make a GREAT KNITTING RETREAT? Who wants to go?

Look at the atrium photo here...can you imagine a gaggle of knitters hanging out here? Even though it is February, it was sunny and warm outside (with a chilly breeze). The dinning room was lovely, yet I found the circus room (old children's room upstairs) to be a little creepy. The circus characters were scary looking - not funny.

The hotel rooms were well-furnished and had windows for lots of light (to knit by). There were bicycles available to the guests for touring the flat (and at sea-level of course) island.

In the meantime, when not exploring, I knit. Not just plain garter stitch stuff these days, but actually some test-knitting for other folks who design and write up patterns (in addition to my own new creations).

A group of us have formed our own online cooperative design forum to have our newest knit and crochet ideas tested by other people. We not only do we have dedicated testers, but us designers also help each other with testing and technical discussions. We are also taking it a bit farther and
CIRCUS ROOM Upstairs at Reynolds Mansion
working on all of our technical editing skills. Why? Because we want our published results to be as free as possible of errors and also as easy as possible for other needlework people to work from.

Speaking of published... Interweave's Knitting Daily has (again) released information about the article I wrote, but this time they included the article itself! So if you haven't read it yet because it cost money, take a peek over here and find out everything you need to know with Tips For Knitting Fair Isle Socks. Get it while it's free!

And one more publishing event...Introducing Secret Pocket Socks by yours truly.

These are the Feb/Mar 2015 Knit along socks on the Six Sox KAL Yahoo group. They feature an "afterthought" tube that is knit from a long hole that you purposefully create by knitting in some waste yarn that you'll later cut out.

I need to use a passkey (like one of those hotel plastic card keys) to access the yacht club, showers, and laundry facilities here in the Brunswick Landing Marina. I'm always forgetting to take my card and I often don't have safe pockets in my clothing. Voila! I now keep the card in my socks!

The little pocket would also be useful for credit cards, female supplies, cash, key, etc. Anyway it's free for members of the group through March 2015, then it will be available for sale on Ravelry. See? I'm not just knitting garter stitch anymore.

Life is good.

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