Friday, April 17, 2015


No Go

Manatees by the boat dock

The Final Assembly of our boat's engine is complete! Today is Day #2 of trying to get the dang thing started. So far....No Go.

Once you've opened up these diesel engines it's a real pain to bleed the fuel lines and get it to start again. There's only so much battery power (we've even hooked up the "house" batteries to the engine start battery to get more power), so we have to pause and recharge the batteries after about 60 seconds of running the starter motor. While Jonesy studies the repair manual and the internet forums after each try, my part of all of this is to keep Jonesy fed and to sit in up in the cockpit and press the start button every hour or so. It's not looking good - could even be a very expensive repair/replacement of the fuel injector pump. Yet another failed part?

So, we're still in the marina in Brunswick Georgia. But that's not all bad at all! Just last week we had three visitors to Dock #15 here where we have our slip.

See those lumps in the photo? Those are
manatees! There were two big manatees and a cute little one. The adults had their heads under the dock (why? so we couldn't see them?) but the little guy was visible and kept having to come up for air. So cute! All you actually get to see are his nostrils out of the water. No, I couldn't catch it with the camera. 

As these animals are protected we had to be very quiet and not disturb them. So I tippy-toed along the dock and got a photo of my latest little pair of socks for the Motherless Child Foundation.

I'm sure a lot of long-time sock knitters will recognize this older Regia sock wool used for these. When this self-patterning jacquard yarn first came out from Germany I know lots of us added balls and balls of it to our stashes. As we became more experienced sock knitters, we realized that the best way to use this yarn was to knit very simple and basic socks - no special stitch patterns - just boring to knit. Cables and lace designs just don't look good with this busy yarn. So that's probably way I get so much of it in donations for me to knit socks!

Notice the lines on the backs of the manatees? Those marks could be scars from the propellers of boats. As these gentle beasts often hang out just inches below the surface, getting hit by boat propellers is a major threat. Poor babies.

I'm still knitting the sweater for the teenager in Kazakhstan and only have 1/2 of a sleeve to go! But, as you know, I am not monogamous in my knitting/crafts so there were other projects that attracted my time and attention.

This is a "Fur" coat for one of the 18" teddy bears that we knit for the younger kids in Kazakhstan. It was designed by one of the other knitters and I knit this one in Bernat Boa yarn ($1 at the Dollar Tree Store). It is so soft!

It turned out that there was a pair of black mittens needed for a different teenager so I volunteered to knit those up too. I just happened to have some black Knit Picks worsted weight yarn on board and of course I have plenty of time.
It's hard to photograph black knit projects (and black dogs my friends tell me). But here they are in all their dark glory.

When a fellow liveaboard cruiser here in the marina saw my latest ceramics work she made a special request. I had just gifted her a center piece for her pine needle baskets that she makes. She wants to make a bread basket and loves lighthouses so she asked if I could make that for her. Yep.

I'm no artist, but I gave it my best shot. I left it as natural (red) colored clay and used some iron oxide to accent the textures. Then I added the two gun-metal black stripes with copper oxide, and just a splash of glaze on the top piece. For the holes, I used a plastic straw from a juice-box to punch out pieces of clay. The first couple of basket bottoms that I made the weeks before had the holes too small to fit the needles and weaving strings after they were fired (clay shrinks a lot with the 2 firings).

Now, she has taught me how to make the pine needle baskets! Yipppeeee - a new craft and one I've always wanted to try! I so enjoyed going out and finding the long-leaf pine needles too. What a great excuse to wander about a pine forest.

There's some work involved in the preparation of the needles in that you have to remove the sheath from the ends. But other than that, it's really pretty simple. For my first few rounds I used some of her synthetic sinew. This stuff is very easy to work with. Next, I used some nylon twine/cording that I had on board and a different stitch style.

So here's what I have so far....4 hours of work for a novice basket maker. The center is a filigree style piece of metal that came from an earring set. Yes. I have made several more ceramic basket centers and will use those for my next pine-needle creations.

Yesterday, in the ceramics studio I spent a couple of hours glazing the new basket centers, a couple of trivets and a few smaller "accent" pieces. The accent pieces feature some glaze technique experiments for me and the finished items can be used as buttons (for knitting or sewn pieces) or accents woven into baskets or simply as necklace cabochons.

My favorite trivets so far that I've made are the woven clay trivets (as in hot plates/table protectors). I'm hooked on these!! Not only are they fun to make, but I really like how they turn out. Now I need to get some wood or bamboo slices to add "feet" to the trivets. Here is a photo of a couple of them. I'm already using another two.

There's so much to explore with this woven clay strips technique!

Another technique I used to add texture to some trivets was to knit up a simple cable in worsted weight cotton and make a mold (sprig) with it. Then, after bisque firing the mold, I pressed clay into it and then added some gansey-style looking rows. These I simply used the iron oxide to accent the texture on one and copper oxide (the darker one) on the other. A final clear glaze finished them off.

Knit cable pressed to make a mold
First, here is a photo of the original knit piece in pink and white yarn and the resulting mold. The cotton yarn is a little soft and didn't leave much of an impression. I'm thinking that I'll try to knit some items up using a sturdy twine made out of nylon? I want the stitches to hold their shape and not flatten out.

Also, I think the string should be larger. Because the clay shrinks so much the detail gets a little lost. So perhaps going bigger would be better.

You can (perhaps) see that the cables on the trivets below are a raised design - but not by very much. There's just so much more to explore someday.

Life is good.

Trivets with raised knitted cable motifs

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


A Dilettante visits Jeckyl Island

Spring has arrived down here in southern coastal Georgia! How do I know this? Easy - the little orange trees here on the marina grounds are sharing their sweet-smelling blossoms, the migrating birds are passing through in droves, and the azaleas have begun to burst into bloom.

Although we have had some warm sunny days over the winter, the landscape was brown and sleeping. Oh sure, the new season has encouraged little bugs to hatch and feast on us, but heck, we're used to that after spending all those years in the tropics. DEET once in the morning and we're good all day. Yes, it's controversial (because of the chemical) and there are other "natural" products we could use, but nothing works as well and as long as a quick spray of Deep Woods OFF! from the green can. I'd do a commercial for free.

So, once we've prepared our skin surfaces to fend off the neighbors, what do we actually do? Here we are, living on a sailboat in the tidal marshy low country of Georgia with no jobs, grandchildren, nor eldercare responsibilities. Like when we're not watching the comorants, pelicans, seagulls, horseshoe crabs and other wildlife? Well, you know how Jonesy has been spending his time...
Bilge Gynastics and Yoga Stretches

It was a grand day (or actually night) when an 18-wheeler truck pulled right up to our dock and delivered our 100-lb. heat exchanger. Using the chain hoist, we lowered the monster down into the bilge. Next we had to line up the 14 holes on the exchanger with the 14 six-inch studs sticking out the side of the engine. Would it fit? This wasn't the same chunk of metal that we sent away as ours was deemed too corroded to be saved. This was a refurbished part from another engine so there was a chance that we wouldn't have a match.

How about that shiny new pressure cap?
At first the holes and studs acted like they wouldn't line up. I joined Jonesy down into the bilge to take a closer look (I don't spend much, if any time in that scary basement so you know I was highly motivated that day). We wiggled and teased the heat exchanger which was still hanging supported on the chain hoist. No joy. Next, using my knee and thigh, I raised just the back half of the unit perhaps a couple of milimeters, then pushed against it with my belly. Voila! Jonesy pushed at the same time and it slid on smooth as snot. A major milestone in the engine repair had been completed.

Sasha's Sweater
Since then, every day (unless I've whined enough to get him to take me on an adventure) Jonesy has been down in the bilge doing his bilge yoga stretches with his engine. He's been connecting hoses and setting up the fuel injection system for the fuel injectors. We've sent our old injectors out to see if they can be refurbished and are now waiting for the answer (hoping for the repair option as it will save us big bucks).

Me? Well of course I've been knitting. I finished writing up the design of the sweater I'm knitting for a teenager who is aging out of the orphanage in Kazakhstan. As for the knitting, the body is complete and I am now roaring down the sleeves. I did have to order some more Wool of the Andes yarn from Knit Picks and was thrilled that the new dye lot was a perfect match with the older yarn! Plus it arrived a day earlier than promised. Gotta love a good supplier.

And there has been another completed pair of little socks for the younger kids at the orphanage. These are knit with Regia sock wool in a Kaffee Fassett colorway.

As you know, sometimes I like to dabble in arts other than knitting as in the glass fusing work I've been doing. The other day on the blog of a friend (Diane's Corner) I was introduced to a word that perfectly describes my involvement with other crafts. Dilettante; a person whose interest in an art or in an area of knowledge is not very deep or serious. I dabble, piddle, tinker, etc. in a lot of other crafts. I don't claim or expect to be an expert, but I simply love to create new things (even if I don't need, nor have space for stuff).

This month's craft has been pottery/ceramics! What fun! Way back in high school and college I took a few ceramics courses. I was never very good at it, I just enjoy getting my hands dirty playing with mud. My primary goal was to make some buttons for knitting projects. A single, unique button really adds interest to a knit and felted bag or at the top of an open vest.

Anyway, these items are from my first day working in the studio (don't laugh). I didn't know how the red clay would work with the available glazes (other folks were using a light colored or speckled clay) so I made rather simple buttons. The larger circles are unglazed - just have an iron oxide wash on them to accent the texture. What are these for? They are the center bottoms for future pine needle baskets! Now, there's another craft. There certainly are a lot of long-leaf pine trees and needles in coastal Georgia. Some of the gals here in the marina are making baskets - why not me?

Oh, the fern leaf flat piece is a new trivet for me. I'll add some natural wood feet or a base to it. But wait....there will be more coming out of the kiln tomorrow! I would LOVE some suggestions and ideas from y'all for other things I could make. I'm simply working on hand-built pieces these days as the arts center requires 6 class sessions before you can play on the potter's wheel. So I'm not flinging clay across the studio - yet.

The shell bowl was made by simply pressing clay onto a real shell. I had to quickly make a little bowl to hold the beads that I'd made for when they went into the kiln! The beads are for a new BIG fiber arts project of mine.

Jonesy on DRIFTWOOD BEACH Jeckyl Island Georgia
Yesterday, we took a short drive across the marshes to Jeckyl Island which is one of the barrier islands of Georgia. We walked along 3 different long beach areas looking for shells (nope) or fossilized shark teeth (nope). The photo here is of Driftwood Beach. This is the only beach that has
the dead wood on it because it is the one that is getting eroded from the waves and strong currents. Those trees used to be alive on land, but now that land is gone and is beach.

This tree on the edge of the beach is still alive - we know this because it was starting to bud out. The branches and roots of the trees are so beautiful don't you think?

Life is good.

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