Check one off the bucket list

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I’d never seen the Grand Canyon close up.  I flew over it once in a small plane – something like 30 years ago – but I’d never stood on the edge and gazed.

Now I have.  It was amazing.  Overpowering.

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We drove up from the Phoenix area on the scenic route that goes through the red rock hills of Sedona, which are pretty amazing themselves.

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It was a bit of a whirlwind trip – we arrived in the evening on a Wednesday, so stuck to the fairly crowded viewing sites around the main visitor’s center for that evening.  The next day, after an overnight in a motel in Williams, AZ, which prides itself on being a stop on the famous Route 66 highway, we went back and spent the full day exploring along the southern rim.

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We started by hiking down into the canyon on the Bright Angel trail.  We did only a very small segment, just the first mile or so, because I kept reminding my sister and children that there was a very real possibility they would have to carry me out – an easy downhill makes for a very difficult, steep, upward climb on the return trip.  Signs the park has posted included illustrations of people throwing up, overcome by the climb out.  No one wanted that!

This is a partial view of the part that we walked, along with a lot of other people.  Mules had left a lot of clear signs that they also used the trail, which we carefully maneuvered around.

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This is more of the trail, showing where I called a halt – we stopped at the top of the extreme switchbacks that you see starting there.  Overall, we spent about two hours going down and up.  Enough to get a sense of the ambition and endurance of those who hike all the way down – it is a two day trip to get to the river and back out again by foot.

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There is a very helpful shuttle bus system set up along the rim that we used for the rest of the day.  It is a hop-on-hop-off system stopping at a multitude of overlooks.  The further out we got, the fewer the people, so there was a chance to stop and really look out over the canyon and think about how amazing nature’s processes are.

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We went full tourist at one point and faked some falling-from-the-edge shots to freak out the Grandmas on Facebook.

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Some grew a little weary of looking at scenic rocks.

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We met elk and learned that they eat pine needles.  A hard way to make a living.

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But mostly we just looked, and looked, and looked.  I just couldn’t have imagined how impressed I was going to be.

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The next morning we had to head back to Grandma’s, but we are already in family discussions about signing up for a hiking/rafting/mule trip in the future for the extended family.

Sad as we were to leave the Grand Canyon, the return to the pool was very welcome.

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And, because this is supposed to be a craft blog, not a family vacation blog, I’ll sneak in a picture of the mini-quilt that I made my mom a while back, that hangs on her hall wall:

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This was my first use of beads on a quilt.  I’m really itching to embroider some more cacti as well after all that time in Arizona, so we’ll see where that takes me in the near future.

 

 

 

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Misc.

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One skein of Sockulent got me through the first branches chart repeat on Understoried, and through the men’s aerial skiing, which looks terrifying.  How do they get the nerve to hurl themselves so high and twist so much!?

The Chinese New Year means we are now in the year of the dog, my husband’s year.  Cute Theo photo in honor of the holiday:

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And, finally, I would also like to introduce what may be the first ever clarinet/guitar duo.  At least the first I’ve ever heard of.  They have big plans to take the music world by storm, as soon as they learn a few more chords.

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Happy New Year!

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I rang out 2017 with a glass of prosecco and the last rows of my Kiko Mariko project.  My boys stayed awake until midnight for first time on a New Year’s Eve – they were a lot more energetic than my husband and I.  At 12:06 we were all in bed.

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My sister made all the non-knit stockings hanging here. Even the dog got one.

I spent some time on the last day and the first day of 2017/18 cutting up scraps from various vacation projects.  My sister had come over to make a lot of new stockings for us all, I finished one of the charity quilts we’ve been slowly working on, and I pieced the backing for the new living room quilt.  So a lot of pieces were piled up, waiting to be sized.  I cut my scraps into 5″ squares when they are big enough, then 4 1/2″ as a second option.  If they are too small for that, they become strips or 2 1/2″ squares.  The littlest pieces go into a small bin for future tiny scrap projects like the still unfinished blob quilt.

The new year is the time to revisit my 2017 crafting goals.  Last year on New Year’s day I’d pulled out all my yarn.  We’ve moved since then, and both my yarn and fiber stash feel more organized now, so I’m not doing that again!

I went back and reviewed my crafting goal list for 2017.  To be honest, I didn’t do that well.  New shiny things distracted me from many of the older WIPs.  I can knock off maybe four of the things on that list, and a few more that I did away with because I knew they’d never get down (J’s crochet monster for example – he’s in middle school now and would be horrified at the damage to his dignity if I gave that to him.)

My spinning really suffered in 2017.  The urge just wasn’t there unless I was with my fiber friends.  I started and finished a few quilts, but the older ones are still languishing.  I didn’t get the king size bed quilt done, I didn’t knit a whole sweater, I didn’t weave a single length of fabric.  Honestly, it was the worst craft goal achievement ever!

And yet I did do a lot.  Many cowlsPatchwork furnishings.  Some quilts, though many of them were small or smaller.

And we moved!  So a lot of my crafting energy went into creating a new home for us.  House hunting, and getting the old house in sellable condition.  Packing and unpacking.  New floors, new windows, new fireplaces, new furniture, and the list goes on and on.  So many weekends and so much energy were taken up with that, so I’m giving myself a break on the less successful goal finishing.

And, wiser now, I’m not making a long specific list of goals for 2018.  Instead, my goals are to use my stash as much as possible, be judicious with the spending for new additions to the stash, and to try to finish more projects than I start, at least until the WIP pile goes down.  I still need to document that list, just as a memory jogger, but not something to beat myself up about if I don’t accomplish it all.  It is supposed to be a fun hobby, after all.  Not a chore!

I hope you got through 2017 healthy and happy – a difficult year by many measurements – and I wish you all a terrific 2018, with as much fiber, fabric, or yarn as you can handle, happy families, and good health.

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Yak and silk and potatoes

Before I start on the fiber talk, Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate it!  Bring on the latkes!

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Our dog Theo turned out to be a big fan of both latkes and suvganiyot (jelly filled donuts).  This is his first Hanukkah.

My finish this week was my Eureka cowl, made from aran weight handspun yarn.

The gray single is a 60/20/20 merino/yak/silk, and the cream is an ultra soft 50/50 yak/silk.  It was such a joy to spin!

The cowl has a unusual shape, more of a bandana than a cylinder, narrow in the back and triangular in the front.  The triangle dipping down means it will block more drafts when worn with a v-neck or a slightly unzipped coat.

I modified the pattern’s ridge rows somewhat, but the shape is just as the pattern dictated.  It still needs blocking, but I’ve tried it out and it is warm and soft.

Thanksgiving knitting

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While making the Thanksgiving meal and enjoying visiting relatives, I tried to sneak in some simple knitting.  It did not go well.

I had two colors of Noro silk garden yarn and planned to make a simple striped scarf.

Step 1 – Cast on 45 stitches.  In between stuffing a turkey and ricing potatoes for lefse, knit about six inches of the two row stripe pattern.

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Step 2 – Decide the edges are too ragged.  Rip it all out and start over, slipping the edge stitches at the start of each row.

Step 3 – Start worrying that the yarn is a little rough.  Will it be too inchy?  And since I added some stitches to the cast on, will I run out of yarn?

Step 4 – Rip back half the rows, then have second thoughts and decide that it will soften over time as other Noro projects have, and that I can always order more yarn if it is too short.  Pick up the stitches and start reknitting the rows I just ripped back.

Step 5 – During a board game of Would You Rather with the extended family, ask self if I would rather have a cowl.  Decide yes and rip all rows back to zero.

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Step 6 – Eat way too much really good food.  Wash way too many dishes.  Tear apart the craft closet looking for another size 7 needle so I can cast on a spiral knit cowl.

Step 7 – Knit seven or eight rows of a long cowl, but dislike the single row look. Rip it all out.

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Step 8 – Look up directions for jogless two row stripes and start again, on one needle.  Decide that I won’t like the thin strips in a multi-wrapped cowl.  Rip it all out.

Step 9 – Cast on 45 Stitches and restart the simple two row scarf.

Step 10 – Eat pie to forget.

Andy’s boards & hooded scarf

My brother lives on the east coast, and the winters can be bitter.  He’s a fan of my knitting, although I still haven’t recovered from the time he machine washed the handspun cabled blanket I knit him and turned it into a small bullet proof rectangle.  I try to make him something warm periodically, and I definitely owed him because he just made me the most beautiful cutting boards:

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They are walnut, made from a tree on his land that came down.  He bought a little mill saw and now he can make his own boards!  I love them both, but especially the one on the right which he left with the live edge.

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And the grain is gorgeous.  I’m not sure I’m going to let a knife near them.

He also made a stack of small cheese boards for my friend who wanted them for gifts for her office mates.

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And for my mom he made one using dark end grain cuts.

 

The most creative one I somehow missed taking a picture of – one in the shape of a flying pig for my sister.  I can’t believe I can’t show it to you.  I’ll have to add it if I can get her to take one.

Anyway, as you can see, the man deserved more hand knits!  He’d asked me a while back for a scarf that he could pull up over his head and around his ears when he’s out walking in the cold.  I took some chocolate colored baby alpaca yarn my friend brought me home from Peru and made him a hooded scarf.  It is about the simplest possible pattern – a biased garter stitch scarf with a seam added to create the hood.  I threw in some noro kureyon stripes to add a little more color to it, and made it quite long so he can wrap it around multiple times when he needs extra wind protection.  He can also push down the hood and it just looks like a normal bulky scarf.

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It was a hit!