Mexico: A Trip in Pictures

Balcony ViewBalcony View

WIP: Radian Yoke Cardigan

Shade Pavillion

Chichen Itza

Xcaret

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Xcaret

(The full photo set, with descriptions, is on Flickr here.)

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I’m more than a little disturbed to find myself suddenly on this side of Labor Day, but the weather in DC is at least being a good sport, and allowing us a taste of fall weather.  The summer was crammed with a lot of work, three trips, and a lot of knitting.  I’m not quite ready to give it up, so the cool weather feels like a little bit of a consolation prize.

Since I blogged last–months ago!–I’ve been to Chicago and met Sue, the largest, most complete T-Rex.

I love the Smithsonian and feel really blessed to live someplace where there are so many free museums, but I enjoyed The Field Museum more than I’ve ever enjoyed our Museum of Natural History.

Later in the summer, Jason and I went to Seattle.  We spent a few days together visiting friends and exploring the city.  I really, really loved Seattle, but as soon as we got home, it rained for about a week to remind me that I couldn’t handle the Pacific Northwest’s weather.

After a few days, I left Jason with Liz and Nate to continue romping around the city, and I headed out with a group of Ravelry friends for a knitting retreat in the mountains.  We spent the weekend in a cabin at St. John’s Pass, knitting and spinning and talking and laughing.  Its always great when online friends are just as amazing in person as they are on the internet.

I test knit a sock for Allison, which has since been published on Ravelry.  It uses some crazy New Pathways type construction that was a lot of fun to work with, even if it did require math.  A month later, it is still just a single sock.

I taught myself to Navajo ply (this is Targhee, dyed by A Verb for Keeping Warm):

And then tried again, and did a much better job:

(That one is BFL from Teresa Levite Studios.)

And, I made a few sweaters, which still need to be properly photographed and, in the case of the one at the top, properly finished.

Summer in Fast Forward

It feels, as usual, like we’re careening through the year, and its moving too fast to keep up with.

My nephew turned one at the end of June…….

And enjoyed his birthday cake in the way that only babies can.

Never ones to do things half way, his parents gave him an entire ear of the cake–not because there was any danger of him eating much of it, but because it was more fun to play with.  Black icing maybe wasn’t the most charming idea, but he sure did have a good time!  (Shockingly little of the cake wound up on the floor, and probably about as little went in to his mouth.)

Jason and I celebrated our fourth anniversary at a Bed & Breakfast in Oxford, so that we could be in the area for Jerry’s birthday party.  The building was a Victorian mansion that dates to 1875, and it was just spectacular.  I wish I had made time to talk to the folks who run it and learn more about its history.

We went kayaking on the Tred Avon river, and explored Oxford and found the house where I lived when I was very young and my father was the foreman at one of the shipyards there.  We tromped around St. Michaels and were surprised by how much it is starting to change.  And we sat on the lawn and the porches and marveled at how lovely and peaceful it was.  (The rest of the photos are here.)

There has been lots and lots of knitting and spinning, but not a lot of my taking pictures of it.  I finished spinning a braid of alcapa sometime back in June.  In a way, this was a big victory.  The fiber had been sitting in my stash for a year because the first time I tried to spin it, it just pulled apart and turned in to a whole lot of nothing.  It was great to realize that I have enough experience to work with it now.  On the other hand, it made me realize how spoiled working with a wheel has made me.  This was spin on a drop spindle and plied on a wheel, and it felt like it took forever to spin.

Its dyed by Sanguine Gryphon, and the color is Walden.  About 200 yards, maybe a little less, spun at something that averages out to worsted weight, although its pretty inconsistent.

I finally got around to blocking a baby sweater, and its just darling.

Its a short sleeved variation of Helena, knit in Three Irish Girls Kells sport merino, in the colorway Georgia Peach.

I finished a mini-Clapotis and I love it.  Everyone involved in the online knitting community has at least glimpsed Kate Gilbert’s pattern, and after knitting one, I understand why it went viral.  Its a great pattern–just enough variety to keep it interesting, but simple enough that you aren’t constantly referencing a pattern, and the finished product looks great.  There is a least one more, larger version in my future.  Maybe more.  I think the pattern is just perfect for handpainted yarns.

The yarn is Three Irish Girls Springvale Sport (which feels thinner than sport weight to me, but that’s probably just because the twist is so firm that it doesn’t squoosh down the way other sport weight yarns I’ve used have done), in the Cherry Blossom colorway.  It really does remind me of DC in the spring.

There is more–vests and sweaters and socks that I didn’t mean to be knitting, but I think I’ll save them for their own post.

In No Particular Order:

1.  I finished some socks a week or so ago, and was able to cross something off of my holiday goals list, except that the socks turned out smaller than I had intended and will really only fit me.  I’m pretty much okay with that because I really, really love them.

The pattern is Through the Loops Mystery Sock 2009, and the yarn is some old club yarn from Three Irish Girls–Baltic Sea on the “vintage” Adorn base.  I knit them on square dpns, which I have decided I am awfully fond of, and I need to get more.

2. I have been working my way, however slowly, through the Couch to 5k running program.  Today began my 6th week but I am still stuck on the third week’s workout because I can’t seem to run for a full three minutes more than once in a half hour, and I think its a bad idea to move on to trying to run 5 until I can make it through three without needing to walk.  That part is frustrating, but it is pretty great to be outside and seeing things like this:

(Mid-afternoon on Sligo Creek trail, near Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring)

And this:

(Early morning on the back roads near my parent’s house on Maryland’s eastern shore.)

3. I cannot possibly knit fast enough to keep up with everything I want to make and everything I hope to finish for the holidays.  I have a handspun hat and a pair of socks on the needles that are meant to be gifts, and I am test-knitting a pattern for Kirstin at Through the Loops.  I’m  super honored to be allowed to do that, and the pattern is fascinating to watch work up, but holy wow is it requiring some attention on my part.  There are no pictures of any of that just yet.  You’ll just have to take my word that it is happening.

4. I spent several days in the Chicago area visiting Christine (who I haven’t seen since January and that is way too long) and her boyfriend Jason, who is just as great as she is.

5. We spent a little time in the city, mostly at the art museum, and then explored Naper Settlement, which is a replica of a 19th century village.  Since we were there off-season, it was pretty much closed, but it was still a lot of fun to poke around.

The mansion and its carriage house were the only buildings original to the property:

But several other buildings were historic buildings that had been relocated or reconstructed on site.

We also visited the zoo with Jason’s son, who I’m pretty sure was twice as big as the last time I saw him, but just as delicious.  The weather could not have been more perfect, which has kind of been The Thing for the past several days.  Their zoo has not one, but two kinds of bats and the gorillas actually look happy (They snuggled! And one had a blankie!) which, in my opinion, makes it far superior to the Nation Zoo here in DC.  I took lots of pictures at the zoo but may camera’s battery was dying a slow death, so they pretty much all turned out blurry.

6. Now I am home, making myself late by sitting here and typing when I should be getting ready to leave.

Bad Blogger

Its really hard to blog when you can’t take pictures of your knitting, and that’s the only sort of knitting I seem to be doing lately.

Most of my time has been spent working pretty monogamously on a secret project for Sharon at Three Irish Girls. I have no idea what she is up to, but she asked a number of knitters from her Ravelry group to make some projects for her in a number of categories. Everyone chose a pattern and was sent yarn in secret, and there has been a flurry of activity on the group as everyone tries to finish their projects under a deadline. I hadn’t realized what a resource that group was to me until I couldn’t go to them to ask specific questions about my project when I got stuck. My project went in to the mail yesterday and the deadline is the 23rd, so hoperfully the project (and Sharon’s master plan) will be revealed soon.

My traveling project has been a shawlette (though I did cast on for a pair of simple socks when I reached the shawl’s lace edging and the thing became unwieldy) knit in some squishy merino/silk yarn form Woolarina. Its nearly finished, but the longest size 3 needle I had was only 32″, and at this point, the stitches are so crammed onto the cable that it only looks like a big blob of fabric. Given that, there’s no real point in trying to photograph it.

Instead, I have pretty pictures of other things. Jason and I went to Maine last weekend to celebrate his cousin Katie’s wedding. We stayed in Boothbay, a little fishing village that was just darling. Jason made all the plans, so I was floored when I got to the hotel and found a balcony that looked out onto this:

The wedding itself was on Burnt Island, which sits in Boothbay Harbor and has an old lighthouse and keeper’s house (that I wanted to live in).

Both the location and the ceremony were beautiful, Katie and Jesse couldn’t have been a cuter couple, and every detail of the wedding was so obviously them.

Its pretty important that we go back to Maine in February when there are six feet of snow on the ground and it is -43274684758 degrees because before the ceremony even started, I was texting Liz asking if she and her sweetie would move to Maine is Jason and I did, so that she and I could have an alpaca farm. I was pretty serious about the idea, but I suspect that seeing a Maine winter would change my mind quick, fast and in a hurry. I’m still not on board with winter in D.C.

Moments From Italy (Episode 1: Dinner)

One of my favorite moments from vacation was the dinner we had our third night in Rome. We had eaten at our hotel, and in a few small restaurants and pizzerias on side streets, and in cafes where we found espresso and pastries and gelato, and Jason was ready to find someplace where the locals ate. We spent an afternoon on a tour of catacombs and crypts (another favorite yet-to-be-blogged moment) with a guide who spoke fluent English and Italian. What I gathered was that his mother was British and his father was Italian (though he sounded a bit Australian to me, so I could be very confused), and at the end of the tour, he offered himself for advice about what else to do and where to eat.

We were near Piazza Barberini, and the first thing he said was, “Don’t go anywhere around here.” Those places, as was the case with so many in the old sections of Rome, were for tourists. After chatting with Jason for a while about what we really wanted, he recommended two places. One was “nice,” but expensive, someplace locals went for a special occasion. “You’ll pay mid to high prices, but the experience will be worth it.” The other place wasn’t fancy, and he admitted that he hadn’t been in about a year, but it was clear that he remembered it fondly.

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