15 December 2008

mini-parade day 3: irish moss

(ok, so obviously this is a slow parade. the clowns must have tripped up the ROTC squad or something.)

pattern: irish moss in alice starmore's aran knitting. i redrew the cable charts so they'd scan easier, added selvedge stitches, and left the shoulder stitches live for a 3 needle bindoff with the saddles. otherwise the pattern was straightforward and error free.
in: knit picks wool of the andes, which is holding up well so far. no sagging, a little pilling.
irish moss cablesmade for chuck, mostly on sundays over the course of 10 months. kind of. i cast on sometime in august 2007, and finished knitting all the bits by may 2008. it could be called the month of sundays sweater, since that ends up being about 40 sundays of knitting. the last bits of it really dragged. suddenly i was sick to death of it (maybe because i wasn't switching between 5 other projects) in a "i can't believe this isn't done yet" kind of way. the last inches of the second sleeve and its saddle were done in a mental frenzy where i kept wishing my hands would knit faster so i could be Done.

i blocked it before seaming (which i don't always), and took it on our MA trip.block partythat was largely futile. seaming is one of those things i like time and quiet to focus on, which was in rather short supply this summer. i tried doing the saddles first as recommended, but they came out not quite right. the pattern doesn't specify the saddle length, and all the stretchy cables in the body made it hard to figure out just how long i needed. so i ended up doing them last, and they fit perfectly.saddle shouldersthe corners look so square and neat. i realized that this is only my third sweater, which may be enough of a reason for the amazed it-looks-just-like-a-real-sweater glee i have when it all fits together.irish moss completethis sweater was intended for chuck to wear last winter, and finishing it in july was a bit disappointing. i wanted to see him wear it right now right now. as it was, he did wear it the week i finished it, thanks to the chilly, rainy summer. i haven't managed to get a shot of him modeling it yet, but it fits and looks very good on him. hugs are extra cozy when he's wearing it, because i can snuggle up to him and the yarn.

06 December 2008

mini-parade day 2: massachusetts in may

my #5 brother jeremiah graduated college this spring and fulfilled his life-long dream of getting paid to wear camo and sneak around by joining the air force (which i did mention ever so quickly, when it happened). although he's in communications so that might limit his sneaking around sniping opportunities somewhat.

the ceremony was mercifully rather short, with about 20 ROTC graduates taking their oaths.
swearing inpinning the bars
my mom and dad got to pin the officer bars on jeremiah. after being sworn in and getting their new rank, each graduate could say a few words. many thanked family. my brother simply said "lock and load."

the last bit was the traditional silver dollar salute. the first enlisted person to salute a newly sworn-in officer is given a silver dollar. no one really said why, but it was kind of cool. jeremiah had asked his high school ROTC colonel to swear him in, and his high school ROTC commander gave him his first salute. chuck couldn't resist saluting him after as well - after 22 years in the navy i think that was the best way chuck knew to show jeremiah he respected his choice.

i was very proud of jeremiah for doing something so crazy as joining the air force, simply because that was his dream all these years.
LL and famwe also, not coincidentally, got to meet his girlfriend. she's the red head in the middle of my family (not my whole family, but it's some of us).

while in massachusetts we went to one of my favoritest places on earth: the windsor jambs at windsor state forest. our family vacations always consisted of camping for a week in july when the factory my dad worked at shut down for inventory. it was probably the cheapest vacation for a family with 8 kids, but we loved it. building fires, hiking, playing in mountain streams, and of course harassing each other. we never liked camping at windsor (the sites are small, close together and very dark) but we'd always drive there to hike the jambs. the offical site i linked to says one may not hike the jambs as dangerous conditions exist. um, oops. we never looked at that website.

the jambs were formed by some stream wearing through bedrock to create an (apparently) 80 foot gorge. there's a trail from the top of the jambs down to the bottom. normally we follow the trail to the bottom1. trail at top of bedrock to right, 2. a waterfall from above, 3. once this waterfall was low enough for me to climb up the middle of it, 4. bottom of the trail where the jambs flatten out

and then hike up through waterfalls, around fallen trees, clinging to rock ledges until we reach the top.as i've gone back over the years, i've wondered what my parents were smoking to let us climb that thing as kids. my dad just shrugged when i asked him. the first time i was maybe 10 with at least one younger brother trailing behind. it probably isn't the safest thing in the world to do (and this last time i realized how long it's been since i did something like that - my confidence isn't what it was, but we still made it), but man is it fun.

we can't ever resist taking tons of pictures. the water, the rocks, and the still sparkling pools (some shallow, some so deep you can't see the bottom) are mesmerizing, and never quite the same twice depending on what storms have blown through and how much meltwater the spring brought. but still we know it like the back of our hands, always looking for our special landmarks.
there's the mermaid's seat , in a pool we always say we'll stop and swim in, but never do,

and nature flipping the bird to the sky.

i love the huge bedrock slabs, slowly eroded down, the falling boulders that shift so slowly over the years

with the blog in mind i even took a shot of our hand and foot holds

i look at that and think: what was i smoking to go trusting my life to that narrow edge of stone? we put our fingers in the cracks and hope the mossy rock will hold as we pull ourselves up, and that our feet won't slip when we have to balance on that edge.

chuck did look as if he thought i was mad when i wanted to climb, but gamely followed me through the jambs. he must have seen the gleam in my eye and known i would have gone with or without him.

after the jambs we went driving around a bit, looking for another elusive waterfall we had vague memories of visiting near the jambs (which turned out to be bashbish falls and nowhere near the jambs), and passing some very small signs that said craft festival. i was entrigued, but lured by the waterfall and mindful of everyone else, i let it go. i sure wish i hadn't and that i'd been reading blogs on vacation. turns out we were driving through west cummington, the home of the MA fiber festival. arg! i could have went to my first fiber festival........

the last highlight of our trip was a jaunt over the border to new york with my dad and brother andy to watch some drag races. sadly, i have no photographic evidence of the awesome cars (or the sunburn we all got there) but it was loads of fun. my dad loves old cars, which has rubbed off on some of us. there was a mini-car show in the parking lot, and seeing those gems along with the pumped up race cars was great. if i still lived in the area, i would be tempted to race my 74 catalina some weekend just for fun. and speed without getting a ticket of course :)

04 December 2008

mini-parade: day 1

to keep things short and sweet, set apart so you'll know when i have (finally) finished reliving the past and moved onto the present, and yet still keep a sense of fun, i've decided to host a parade. a mini-parade, because when parades are too long everyone gets antsy, so this will be more like just a few floats going by (because i don't have the bands to march in between for relief). i don't think it'll go much longer than a week, assuming i post everyday. so not quite a december advent calender. although, (if only you speak swedish) there is a chocolate advent calender over at pickipicki, where you click through a photo to a quick chocolate recipe every day. how cool is that?

without further ado, leading off our parade is a knit shawl that survived mistakes, ripbacks, and running out of yarn at least twice to make its way to my mother's shoulders in may.

the length was exactly where i wanted it, and it took 3 skeins to get there (which the pattern utterly neglected to even hint at). the babyull impressed me so, (soft yet warm and light) that i still daydream of babyull sweaters for myself. it stood up well to ripping back, and there was no visible difference in the 3 dyelots used throughout the shawl. it blocked wonderfully from a lumpto beautiful lace. blocking was easier than i anticipated, all i really had to do was smooth out the shawl and pin out the points (which didn't take nearly as long as i expected). feather and fan is one of my favorite lace patterns. i couldn't resist a closeup of the lace itself. and the faroese shaping is something marvelous to behold. i test wore the shawl and it really does stay in place all by itself. so very very cool. i may have to make myself one.

03 December 2008

the other day someone mentioned stumbleupon in a blog post. being a bit bored (coughatworkcough) i checked it out and started wandering through random websites. it's very good for when you've read all the blog updates and just need a break for a few seconds.

yesterday, it turned up a website where i could get my very own hobbit name. what the heck. it had fields for first and last name, so for fun i did my maiden name first and then my married name. i got this:

Prisca Moss of Lake-By-Downs (which sounded faintly and pleasantly british due to the place name)


Prisca Chubb of Deephollow
(which sounds rather as if someone on that site knows a bit too much about the state of my waistline since i got married)

chuck laughed a good ten minutes or so over that.

(although i just tried his name, and he's Meriadoc Chubb of Deephollow. so at least we know the last name is his fault. nothing to do with my dress size. now if only i'd known marrying him would turn me into a chubb.......)

02 December 2008

i'm not dead yet - honest!

somehow my life this year was thrown for a loop, and not for any good reason really. but my life balance is definitely off. i feel like i've finally caught up on almost everything after working here and there and traveling this summer. now i'm just trying to stay caught up with dishes and laundry and bills and emails and fun and work, and i wouldn't claim to be very successful at that just yet. the small things are what pile up most (and then take ages to go through), so i try to take care of them as soon as i notice them. that helps. a lot.

my brain has calmed down enough that i'm writing blog posts in my head again (and wouldn't it be so cool to have an internet connection in my head, so i could visualize it all and post it without having to actually sit at a computer and type - but then who would get any sleep with the internet right there? and i can picture conversations with blank eyed people: are you online again while i'm talking to you? no, mom honest.). which means that i'm trying to squeeze that back in too. i've got stories of weddings (well, only one really) and beaches and snow and family and knitting and replacing ghetto house stuff and you know, life. with pictures even! i'm thinking blogging is like those small things: if i just do a little at a time (and maybe try to go on a little less) i'll get posts up more often.

sounds good anyway.

11 August 2008

who you gonna call

we always had a tongue-in-cheek joke back home that had a lot of truth in it:

if you need a cop, don't call 911, call dunkin donuts.

we couldn't resist this photo op on our massachusetts tripthe best (worst?) part was there were actually 3 police cars lined up there, but one drove off in the time it took us to turn around for the picture.

so if you've got dunkin donuts in your area, remember who to call if you need help.

09 August 2008

i've been a bad girl

besides the virtual pile of photos and the stories rolling around my head going back to may that i haven't posted yet, i am behind in the public displays of appreciation department as well.

podcasts are still a strange new world to me, fascinating but wildly overpopulated. discovering them rather behind the curve makes navigating through the hordes of knit podcasts to see what i like tricky, and i haven't dared cross the threshold to other topics, like music or books. especially because i want to be able to listen and quiet me-time for that is awful limited. so i haven't gotten very far, to be honest.

with one exception. the most wonderful podcast in existence (i am convinced, despite it being my first and only) is faery knitting by erin. erin reads and discusses a (public domain) faery tale (with voices and clever asides), then talks about yarn and gardening. brilliant! it's a perfect mix, and so fun to be read a story, discuss the background and underlying messages, then hear about planting and knitting and raising alpacas. and to top it off, she has little contests with book, yarn and gardening prizes.

one of which i won, ever so far back now. a little package with pole bean seeds, a book mark and cool chinese print card were waiting for me on my return from our MA trip. yes, in may. i told you i was bad. thanks, erin!

sadly, or perhaps luckily, the seeds did not get planted this year. the very little that did get planted was very late, and due to lack of sun (it's literally been raining for a month straight), hasn't grown much at all. the seeds would have been wasted. they'll spend the winter in the freezer and next year we'll see how they do in an alaskan summer.

roxie, of sanna's bag, recently held a contest for her 600th post. rather than picking one or two winners, she generously picked everyone! almost a week ago now i was the ever-so-proud recipient of a skein of bamboo hand-dyed by Teresa Ruch from the portland handweavers guild.
it's got the loveliest dark blue and purple shades, highlighted by surprising green and magenta streaks. i love it - thanks roxie! now if i only knew what to make with it........

one of chuck's daughters (also in oregon, hmmm) has an etsy shop selling pendants she designs. apparently she's done well enough to be copied now, frustrating as that compliment is. she had promised way back when the gift of whatever pendant caught my eye. finally i looked through and made my choice, which arrived last week, along with an extra ladybug design (for chuck's nickname for me).the pendants were larger than i expected somehow from the etsy pictures (not that this was a problem), and i've got the smallest size. her designs are so simple that they enhance the natural wood of the pendant. the dark woods were really my favorites. thanks val!

while i am publically confessing my failings, i may as well add another. last weekend we went to the tanana valley fair, which after solstice, is practically the highlight of the summer. it is THE thing to go to. why, i'm not sure. back home we had the eastern states exposition, called the big E. that lasts 3 weeks, and you could spend all day there and still come back for more. the tanana fair on the other hand, takes about 2 hours if you walk slow and look at everything twice. my first summer, we'd heard so much hype from locals about it, our expectations were rather high. when i went with some friends from work, we walked through at work-speed and were done in a half hour. then stared at each other, saying, that's it?

now chuck and i go, and take our time. there's a couple food booths we always hit, the fried dough one (called elephant ears here, very appetizing eh?) and the homemade french fries & potato chip booth. there are artists galore up here, photos of mount mckinley and the northern lights being very popular of course, and some of them are very talented. we always walk slowly through their booths, trying not to drool or whip out the credit card. we might not have succeeded at that last one this year.

the really dangerous to me booth this year was a new one, offering hand-dyed and hand-spun yarns, along with stained glass items. oh, and spindles and roving. i held out against the spindles, and the hand-spun and dyed quiviut, but i was no match for two 1/2 pound hanks of hand-dyed merino, one lace weight and the other fingering/sock weight, or the hank of handspun merino dyed that mellow yellow i've been fascinated with lately. chuck was no help at all either - even he knew at $35 a skein it was a good deal and made me buy all three.*sigh* there goes my resolution to only buy yarn as needed. i have no idea at all what i'll do with those. i'm sure i'll figure something out.

and, again with chuck's encouragement, i finally signed up for a sock club. they've always sounded like fun, but seemed very pricy. now, i don't know if the fearless fibers one i signed up for is just a good deal, or if i've been buying more expensive sock yarn, but it seemed very reasonable. maybe it being only three months long helps too. i've been watching anne at knitspot make all kinds of socks and shawls from fearless fiber yarn, and wanted to try them out. here i go! each month's yarn comes with a pattern, and i get to choose the colors i want. so it's not quite as adventurous as most sock clubs, but it'll be a good start for me.

apparently falling off the yarn wagon hits pretty hard. linking photos to this post, i discovered some other recent additions to the stash (we won't talk about any possible internet orders that haven't arrived yet). while waiting for the fair to open, we stopped by a LYS in the neighborhood i'd only been to once. they have a rather random selection of books and yarns, along with spinning and weaving supplies. a skein of bearfoot jumped at me and wouldn't let me leave it. chuck insisted (i suppose we could say he was being a bad boy too?).and we had stopped by the LYS we visit most a couple weeks ago, and grabbed some opal on sale.

how can i explain myself? it calls to me, chuck enables, it comes home. at least we'll never run out of socks - once i make them all. hehe.

among the virtual photo stack are finished knits that i'll save for another day with one exception. in a draft started in the dark before summer, i discovered my finishing up notes on the anastasia socks. the finished photos never were posted for them, so here they are.they're very comfy cozy squishy and soft. the shibui seems to be good yarn, i machine washed and dried them with no ill effects. i'm lucky it's not sold locally or i might have another public confession to make.

17 July 2008

in which we discover thumbs

when the weather couldn't decide if it wanted to be warm or cool, and the office as usual was even more indecisive, i made a pair of handwarmers in a weekend. a lazy weekend at the end of may, which fit perfectly with the pattern name - aprilmay. they have a simple eyelet lace pattern that looks kind of wavy.the first mitt i made according to the directions (and used some stash yarn - whoo-hoo!), but the thumb was too tight. through a ravelry search i discovered there are all kinds of thumbs, and this one was a peasant one (or afterthought or any number of other names that i forget now).

you can see how it pulls the rest of the hand material, distorting it. basically a peasant thumb is where you leave a line of stitches somewhere on waste yarn and pick them up later to make the thumb. apparently i have noble thumbs though, because the mitt was pretty uncomfortable. it felt like someone was pinching my thumb.

that ravelry search led me to an awesome group with a thread all about thumbs, in which i learned all thumbs are not created equal. i followed some links to one very helpful blog, knitting in color, with a series of posts on different thumbs (they're listed down on the sidebar). a thumb gusset sounded like the way to go, actually increasing along the side to make room for the thumb. i compared a bunch of free patterns to learn how they made thumb gussets, and then made up the math for my stitch count and gauge. they came out pretty good.

no more distortion! and they were way more comfortable. i must just have fat (meaty?) thumbs, because i had chuck compare the two thumbs, thinking guys have bigger hands and all so he'd prefer the gusset. oddly enough, chuck liked the fit of the peasant thumb better. huh. at least i know for whenever i get around to making him gloves, right?

in making the gussets, i tried to have the increases grow with the pattern - 2 different ways. the second try came out a little better (the lines are cleaner), but after frogging the peasant thumb mitt already, i didn't care enough to take out the first one and redo it.an interesting side effect of the gussets was actually using less yarn. i expected the opposite, but it must be because the afterthought thumb stretches out the hand, so you need more material to have enough length. i knit fewer rows for the main body of the hand with the gussets to get the same length. so not only are gussets more comfortable (for me), they use less yarn! yay! now i just need to make a more utilitarian pair that i can layer over gloves for work.....

16 July 2008

livengood to point hope...and back again

livengood is an old mining town just a couple hours north of fairbanks (and not pronounced "livin' good" but liven like "enliven"). i went there in may for almost a week. people still mine there, and we were doing a little survey. the little we found was historic (technically anything over 50 years old is considered historic archaeology) and mining-related: rusted out cans, a metal box rigged up as a stove or refrigerator (it's covered by sod and goes back a couple feet),and a rotting log cabin,but mostly mining ditches that diverted water. some of them still held water.but the very coolest thing we found (people are always asking what THE coolest artifact i've found is - such a difficult question to answer, but easy this time) was a shovel some miner hung up on a birch branch and never came back for.ingrown shovelanother thing i discovered was a new term - niggerheads. alaska has lots of bogs, and in these boggy areas grow tussocks. basically clumps of grass growing in a kind of mushroom shape above the rest of the ground level. makes for very difficult walking at times, because you don't want to actually walk on them, but between them (where water is usually lurking too). anyway, apparently a common name for them back in the day (and i'm not sure how far back we're talking) was niggerheads. a coworker told me about it while we were hiking through some muskeg, and although i never thought of it before, they could look like dreads. it was funny and appalling at the same time. the term was accepted enough that offical names on US geologic surveys included it, like niggerhead ridge.

this was bad enough to my way of thinking (niggerhead's not exactly a compliment, right?), but after the coworker explains that some politically correct black guy (in the 70s?) got the names changed (and only to blackhead ridge instead, not much of an improvement, i'd rather call it dreadridge), both he and my other coworker express their opinions that they should have stuck to the original niggerhead. um, hello? they said "nigger" wasn't an insult, and referred to mark twain calling huck's slave friend "nigger jim." uh, yeah. i think mark twain was recording southern culture and mocking it, not saying that black people weren't offended by the term. this time i was appalled and not amused. i'd like to see them go shout nigger in the middle of a ghetto and see how many people take kindly to it. there wasn't much i could do but shake my head and let it go.

after a couple projects closer to town, i had a fun adventure 2 weeks ago. i went up to point hope, which is way up north (farthest i've been so far in alaska) and almost in tomorrow.

View Larger Map
(that point farthest south is fairbanks, with livengood just above it. point hope is way out on the edge there, if you zoom in you can see it's just this little spit going off into the ocean.)

i was hoping to somehow (magically) see russia, but the point was fogged in the few days i was there. the point is just a gravel beach built up by the sea over time, and the village moves every 20 years or so.there's not really any soil there. and yet these tiny tundra flowers find niches to grow in, making small clusters barely rising above the ground. i was fascinated by the variety and maxed out the macro function on my camera. most of those came out pretty well. the pebbles in the background of those flowers are maybe half-dollar sized. it's great how nature fits prettiness in wherever it can.

despite being the middle of june, the temps were only in the upper 30s F (2-4 C) and everyone still had their winter coats on. my first glimpse of the arctic ocean (from the ground anyway) looked like this:ice floes that apparently came to town a couple days before i did. they even moved like in the movies, chunks drifting silently in opposite directions on the current swirls. it was mesmerizing, and a bit eerie with only a creak or an occasional drip of the melting ice to break the stillness.

last week we were back in livengood for a dull, and very dusty, survey along one of the wonders of alaska: a gravel highway. the best thing about that trip was being able to stay at the same company camp from before (even though we weren't working for them this time). all the people there are extremely pleasant, and the atmosphere is very positive. plus the cooks are great. the most adventure we had was when we were almost home. we'd just turned off the highway onto farmer's loop in fairbanks, when we heard an odd sound from a rear tire. a sort of rubbing sound - but it couldn't be flat because the truck was still level. that lasted maybe two minutes before the truck suddenly wasn't level anymore. because of this

at least we were back in town. changing a flat on the dalton would not have been fun, what with the gravel and dust and tractor trailers zooming by. well, if you can call an exploded tire a flat. that's what happens when your boss puts an unbalanced camper on the work truck. the tires obviously didn't appreciate it at all.

i worked on a pair of diagonal rib socks for chuck in point hope and the last trip to livengood. the first one was cast on in JFK airport on our way to MA in may. my gauge was a bit tighter than the pattern called for though, and the ribbing was standing out more than the diagonal mock cables, which was not the effect i was going for. so i ended up frogging half a foot, and adding a couple extra stitches to the fake cables. i was much happier with the results. i was working on the heel while waiting for the flight out of point hope, and talking with a couple guys who'd been working there. finally one of them asked if i was making socks for myself (i was impressed he knew what it was, so many people have to ask). after i told him they were for my husband, he said,

"i wish my wife would knit me some socks"

that gave me a nice warm glow. the first sock was finished sunday, and as soon as i cast off and chuck tried it on, he said "i need another one."

sigh. there is no rest for the weary. but rather than leaving (again) this week, i have a reprieve and can actually go to knit night! and do some laundry, and buy some groceries maybe. but probably (still) not bother with the cobwebs.

23 June 2008

stop and smell the roses grass seed

today driving home, i was hit by one of my favorite smells in the world: grass going to seed. at least i think that's what it is. i've spent several years now trying to pin it down. the smell takes me back to summers on hammonasset beach with my grandparents in late august. sometimes driving along, or walking through the woods, a wisp of that drifts by and pulls me into the green-gold of high summer. i'll breathe deep and try to hold the smell as long as i can. if they made perfume out of it, i swear i'd wear it every day. i love it.

enough that when i smelled it on the way home (detouring around construction), i slowed down to the speed limit just so i could smell it longer. plus the detour goes through town, and you just never know where santa's helpers will be. 

luckily for me, because while i was driving my 35 mph, the truck ahead of me turned right towards the high school, and another truck at the stop sign decided it was his turn to cross the street. i slammed on the brakes (schreeching tires and skidding at the end) and the truck was still a foot or three in front of my jeep when i stopped. we would have made a lovely t-bone otherwise.

all of a sudden i was very grateful for a lot of things:

that we just put new tires on

that my brakes work

that i reacted quickly

even for the skid at the end, because it turned me further away from the truck

that i slowed down for that grass seed

and maybe most of all, for our prayers to travel safe every day

i was kinda freaked out. and i saw the guy turn his head at the sound of my tires, like, what's happening. i've tried to put myself in his spot, but i still have no clue what he was thinking (was he thinking?). he was maybe 30 feet ahead of me when he pulled out. just barely enough space to stop. and if i wasn't paying attention?

so lesson for the day was: stop and smell the grass seed. it maybe could save your life.

here, there and everywhere

just as the trees were budding,back in the middle of may, i went north to livengood for (almost) a week of field worka day of rest, and another day of fieldwork, then i was off to see my brother commissioned as an officer in the Air Force back homewe got back with a week to spare before the church's youth group camp for girls (inventively named girl's camp), which i was organizing this year, explodedthat was half a week, and after a day to try and do laundry (we totally ignored the cobwebs and the dust), we raced down to chitina after work friday for dipnetting

we caught one fish.

to make up for it, we camped out saturday night too, rather than racing back for church. in a real campground, minus the wind and silt.just the one relaxing day was priceless.

last week we just tried to breathe and find something to eat in our depleted cupboards (still no time to shop), did at least 10 loads of laundry (for 2 people!!!), had knitting group over, and stared in dismay at our overgrown yardour garden may be doomed this year.

on the bright side, i was a good girl and took lots of pictures, of family and scenery and even some knitting that got finished and gifted, and downloaded and uploaded it all yesterday (bumping my free flickr account way over the 200 picture limit). whew. so expect to see some more illustrated bedtime stories soon.