Getting away

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Another fiber friends weekend has flashed past.  This time we met up halfway between the northern people and the southern people, at an Air BnB house in Olympia.  Tucked into a quiet little neighborhood we sewed and spun and knit and played with fiber.  Also, there was wine.  🙂

I cut out and sewed most of three more tunics based on the Dress No. 2 pattern.  I got as far as the neck bands before I broke the sewing machine needle on a misplaced pin and had to stop.  But look at this book card fabric I found!  Perfect for my job as a high school librarian.

Leslie 1 (50% of the group is named Leslie) brought her blending board and showed us how to make rolags, which you need if you want to spin in true woolen fashion.  And it makes it really easy to mix up colors and fiber types.  There is cotton, wool, angora, and alpaca in those sample rolls.

I added another big chunk to my 1×1 ribbed stash-eating scarf.  I’m holding three strands together for a marled effect.

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There was knitting in public, which greatly intrigued the wait staff at the Three Magnets Brewing Co. when we ventured out of the house in search of cold drinks on a very hot day.

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Look at all the handspun my friend Paige has created and accumulated! This is just the fraction I could fit in the photo.

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I tremendously enjoy each of these weekend getaways.  Like minded people laughing together, plus fiber.  How can that not be great?

 

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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.

 

 

 

Olympic fever

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I am not a sports person.  I can identify many of them if I see them – “That is a baseball!”  “That is a hockey puck!” “Look, that woman is bicycling!” – but I don’t know a lot about the rules, players, or records.  My life feels okay, despite this.

Yet, I love the Olympics.  Not the player bios that all seem to have tragedies-overcome-redemption videos that NBC dwells on far too much, but the actual Olympic events.  I watch the Super G, even though I don’t know what the G stands for without a quick google.  I watch the biathelon with my son, who is intrigued by sports that require weapons.  I spent a lot of time this week discussing curling with my friends.  (We all want to try curling, mostly for the teflon shoe sliding. )

It is weird, and not easily explained, but every two years I get all settled in and watch non-stop sports (with breaks for night, and work) and then I forget all about sports until the next time the flame is lit.

There used to be a knitting Olympics.  I don’t know if it still exists online, but people would start a project during the opening ceremonies, and race to be done with it before the flame was extinguished at the end.  I decided to do a knitting Olympics project this year.

Snow colored yarn seemed appropriate.  And an outdoorsy sort of pattern, since all those skiers and snowboarders are going to be out in frozen nature for their competitions.  Plus I’m back on a lace knitting kick.  Understoried, the wrap version, fit all the right criteria.  I cast on during the opening ceremonies.

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And, like a crashing speed skater, I quickly realized that I will not be bringing home the gold.  How did I think I could knit 1000 yards of fingering yarn in two weeks?  Especially since right after I began, I had to stop to knit a hat my son demanded for an upcoming camping trip.

I’m on the 8th repeat of the first chart of Understoried.  The chart requires 14 repeats.  There are four or five more charts to come. I am announcing now that this wrap is not going to get finished by the end of the final ceremonies.  I’m going to be that last struggling athlete across the finish line.  Sometime in March, maybe.

But it is lovely to knit, and it is growing, albeit slowly, and I’m still going to call it my Olympic wrap.  Someday, when it is done.

My son’s hat was a much speedier knit, and my official finish for the week.  I’ve knit a number of hats from this pattern in the past, and it never fails to please.  Stretchy so it fits many head sizes, adaptable to any yarn, a little twisted stitch cable detail to keep it from being boring.  It is a winner, deserving of time on the podium. The pattern is Jesse’s Christmas hat.  The yarn is a random unlabeled green from the stash that my son chose.  I’m just now noticing it is remarkably similar in looks to the one posted on the pattern’s website!

I knit the finished hat, and also began the unfinished wrap, while we were in Seattle this weekend.  We watched the opening ceremonies from our hotel room and then spent much of the weekend out revisiting favorite tourist sites – eating crumpets and smoothies at Pike Place Market, watching the octopus at the aquarium, going up in the waterfront ferris wheel, and riding across the Sound on a ferry.  It was a really wonderful break, and the kind hotel bartender even let us have control of the cable remote so we could keep the TV filled with alpine skiing and curling matches in the evenings while we met up with relatives.

We’re back at home now, and back to work, but there is a four day weekend coming up quickly, so me and my knitting will be parked in front of the TV, cheering on the best of the best.

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Coast and eclipse

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Summer vacation is ending and we are all in denial about it, except my husband who thinks it will be nice when other people in the house have to go to bed at a reasonable time and get up early. Mornings are a little lonely for him in the summer.

We are squeezing a few adventures in at the end.  My friend Paige invited us to the coast for a couple days (well, one day but then we just didn’t leave).  Beach walks and whale watching, ice cream and sea lions, knitting and puzzles – an excellent couple of days.

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I finished the I-cord binding on my Volt wrap at long last and cast on a simple pair of socks.  Simple once I got a handle on the tension.  The first attempt was way too loosely knit and made a floppy open fabric.  A failed attempt at finding a knitting store on the coast to buy smaller needles led to ripping it all out and cranking up the tightness on the same needles.  Not ideal but it worked out.

From the coast we headed inland to Salem, OR, for the eclipse.  We got there a couple of days early to hang out with my friend Cathy – friends since junior high! – and the other people who had also called her to request a bed in the path of totality.

Cathy and her husband are excellent hosts.  I may never need to eat again.  As an example, one of the nights we had five desserts to choose from.

And the eclipse!  Words are inadequate!  It was beyond amazing.  We all settled in on their deck up in the hills above the city and watched the very first sliver of moon crossing onto the sun’s face.  It gradually got colder, and the light weirder, and the sun beams through the leaf shadows all turned to crescents. So did the little points of light shining through my straw sun hat.  The sun through our eclipse glasses was a molten orange, but the totality itself, when we could look without the filters, was drained of color – a white flaring ring around a black featureless hole in a black sky.  The diamond ring effect as the sun reemerged was spectacular.

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Those aren’t my eclipse photos in these pics – the boys and hat crescents are mine – but they look exactly like what we saw.  Nothing like anything else I’ve ever experienced.  It was truly a thrill to see.

Worth every minute of the five hours it took to get home afterwards on what is normally a one and a half hour drive.  Eclipse traffic also lived up to its hype.

And I made good progress on the beach/eclipse socks:

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Sisters quilt festival

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I posted last week about our trip to Black Butte and some of the fused fiber wall hangings my cousin and I made, but I never wrote about our day at the Sisters quilt festival.

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I’ve heard about the festival for years but this was the first time I’ve ever been there on the day they put all the quilts up. It was spectacular!

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During the week many of the businesses put up quilts inside their stores, and we went in the town several times on errands and walked around the shops looking at the displays.

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Then, early in the morning on Saturday, quilts were put up everywhere outside around the main streets of town.   Crowds descended on the town to wander and admire. It was really rather overwhelming, and I know we didn’t see them all, but we did our best.

It was also extremely hot! But luckily there are a lot of places that sell ice cream and they had put up tents for some of the displays so there were shade opportunities.

Every possible style seemed to be represented.  Very traditional blocks, free form, collages, representationsal, abstract, hand and machine stitched, mixed media . . . they ranged in size from small wall hangings to king size bedspreads.

So inspiring!

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This is just a tiny sampling – someone told me that there were over 1500 quilts in the show.  So much concentrated talent and creativity.

I must get my sewing set up very soon!

East of the mountains

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The Italian cousins are visiting so we got to leave all the moving boxes behind and escape east of the mountains to Black Butte Ranch. My boys hadn’t seen their slightly younger cousins in three years – they all immediately picked up where they left off and have been inseparable.  Older and wiser cousin Amelia watchs over them all to keep things sane.

Lots of laughing, walking, games, swimming – and wine for the worn out adults.

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Patti – another cousin – and I have squeezed in crafting time as well.  I have my spinning wheel:

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And I dug out some bins of fabric so we could work on fused fabric wall hangings:

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The annual Sisters quilt festival is this weekend so we walked around the shops of Sisters where a lot of the quilts are hanging, then spent some time on Pinterest and got further inspired.  The fish and the trees are my two finishes – the fish was sparked by all the fish quilts hanging on the shop walls, and the trees and birds are a not-as-good copy of a paper card I saw on Pinterest.  Stitching later will add in the details.

Patti’s is a lot more complicated – she is still working to cut out more trees and figure out how to make fabric camp chairs:

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Isn’t it great?  I am so making a camping quilt of my own some day.  Though mine will have to have tents as that is how we camp.

it has been so wonderful to relax and not think about boxes needing to be filled or emptied, or walls painted, or IKEA furniture assembled.  Just the sun through the trees, scissors finally back in my hands, and the occasional visiting wildlife.

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Tomorrow Patti and I go back for the quilt festival.  I’m sure there will be a lot more pictures!