Monday, October 29, 2012

Work With Me, Baby

I finally have the scoop on my latest sewing project.

Leaf Peeper Cardigan-Coat


I was inspired by this version from the blog of a well-known fabric shop in Australia, Tessuti:


(Hope they don’t mind that I borrowed their photo.)


Fabric:  Black boiled wool jersey from Mill End store, Portland, OR. I began with 4.5 yds which when re-washed and machine dried became 3.75 yds, 42” wide.

Pattern:  McCalls 6084, view with long sleeves, size S (yes, really!)

Mods:  Slight sloped and rounded shoulder adjustments. Shaved a bit off the sleeve cap sides, a little more on the front edge. Drafted a pleated pocket similar to the one in the Tessuti photo.

Comments:  This coat took awhile to make because I was intimidated by the fabric! Not that it was hard to work with at all, but because it was the most expensive piece I’ve sewn with in quite awhile and I wanted it to be just right. Also I haven’t been able to find wool jersey locally. It’s very popular and for good reasons. Warm, light, no-fray, easy to cut and sew.

BlackCoat3 Since I’ve already used this pattern once there was very little extra work to do on it. I only needed to deal with the sleeve and my pocket pattern. I used most of the fabric in cutting it out so there’s not enough left for a second garment unless I figure out how to piece it with something else. It’s unbelievable to me that a size small fits me nearly perfectly in the shoulders and back! And because there’s so much extra fabric in the drape front, it fits me fine there too. The sleeves were 2” too long of course, but I wanted a fold back cuff so that wasn’t a problem.

I decided to make use of the non-fray ability in the well-fulled jersey so I opted for lapped seams everywhere except the sleeve caps. I even lapped the front darts and they turned out very well. The wool steams nice and flat but I needed a press cloth to avoid shine. For the neck and shoulder seam, I trimmed off the seam allowances on the back and overlapped it with the fronts (after they were joined at the back neck. It was easy to stitch right across, pivoting at the corners, and it turned out much better and smoother than the first version where I had followed the pattern instructions. The neck was a little stretched out though (should have stabilized it beforehand) so I stitched a piece of black lace (non-stretchy) over the neck seam inside to bring it back into shape. Fits great and looks nice both inside and out.

Of course I couldn’t leave this plain black coat unembellished! I decided on a leaf theme (the inspiration is everywhere at the moment, obviously) and cut-outs for kind of a lacy edge treatment. My sampling showed that I couldn’t get too much detail or the fabric became unstable so that influenced my leaf designs. I also had to cut them with sharp scissors because a craft knife wouldn’t do the job. First I sketched the freehand design onto the finished coat with my blue Chaco liner:


I only covered a short distance at a time because a) the chalk wore off pretty quickly and b) I wanted to arrange the next leaves based on how the previous ones turned out:


Snipping with the sharpest small scissors I own (Fiskars) was a little nerve-wracking. But it came out pretty well:


So I’ve been trying to improve my photo-documentation of garments. My in-house photographer does his best but both model and photographer are not particularly good at their jobs. We are practicing.


Accessories:  Embers Cowl (qiviut, yum!), Selbu Damselfly beret, self-tie-dyed t-shirt, Baggy Pocket Pants, and (the only thing I didn’t make/re-make) red Blundstone boots.

Afterwards I immediately took off my hat and cowl. And later after our walk I wished I had taken off the coat too. Too warm! This is a good thing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Leaf Prints

I promised to share the results of my eco-printing experiments so here we are! The photos are not great. I couldn’t spread them out anywhere where they would show up properly. The weather has been dismal and the colours are subtle. Plus the camera tends to shift them a little and who knows what your screen shows as opposed to mine! Anyway, I did my best. On the top of the washing machine again. Heh.

Here’s the first sampler scarf:


If you remember, I wrapped this one in plastic to keep the leaves separate and then rolled and secured with rubber bands and steamed one hour and left overnight to cool. You saw it earlier in its wet and unembellished state. The writing came out somewhat fuzzy because the ink travelled along the silk fibres - particularly if I hesitated for a fraction of a second. I don’t really mind though. The hard part was spelling everything correctly. Cotinus coggygria, anyone? (That’s “smoke bush” to you. And please don’t ask me how to pronounce it either.)

And here’s scarf number 2, a long narrow one:


This one was layered with woad, purple-leaf plum, cranesbill geranium and Diablo ninebark. I didn’t use any plastic wrap but just rolled it up and secured with rubber bands. As before, I steamed for an hour in the colander and then left it overnight before unwrapping. Want an undraped detail?


You can really see the intense prints of the plum leaves. They have a lot of colour in them! And here’s the last scarf I finished yesterday, another square:


This one has Japanese indigo leaves, Persian walnut and marigold petals. I treated it the same as the second one. Here’s a detail:


So anyway, the marigold yellows don’t show up this brightly in real life. I’m really pleased with these three and with the technique. Because I began with a mordant (5% alum acetate), the colours are quite fast to washing. I wish I had more scarves to print quick while there’s still leaves to work with! But then I’d have to start giving them away.

In other news, I finished my Drape-Front Cardigan-Coat. About time, I know. It was really such an easy make but somehow I got bogged down with nerves when it came to snipping into $80 worth of fabric. Pffftt…

It did turn out really well anyway. I’ll have to show it to you next time. It needs to be bright enough for a photo and I’m hoping for a better day today. Crossing fingers.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Leafy Goodness And More

True confession: I always feel like I don’t accomplish much because everything I do takes lots of time to complete. I have so many projects in my head that only a small percentage of them ever see reality. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy the process of making, however long it takes. Going back and perusing my notebooks filled with FOs really helps when I start to get frustrated that I’m not finishing more-more-MORE. However other people always say I’m really prolific! Guess it all depends on your perspective, hey?

Speaking of FOs, here’s the latest one. It was really easy to finish because apparently I can easily knit plain stockinette in sock yarn and read at the same time. I’m multi-tasking! Yay.

Johnny Boy The Third


For: grandson Stargazer

Begun: October 8, 2012
Completed: October 24, 2012

Yarn: Patons Kroy Socks FX, 75% wool/25% nylon, colourway 57110 Cadet Colours, dyelot 1206, 152m = 50g (shorter than most sock yarns), used nearly 5 balls.

Needles: Addi Lace circulars, 3mm (main), 2.5mm ribbing. Aero aluminum dpns, 2.5mm (neck ribbing).

Pattern: Johnny Boy by Berroco Design Team, Ravelry link, free pattern link, size 6.

Mods: I left off the buttoned shoulder bands thinking they were too babyish for a 6-year-old. I used dpns for the neck ribbing and finished with my new favourite bind-off, Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.

Comments: This is the third time I’ve made this sweater for my grandson! He loves it and wears it but keeps growing out of it. How does that happen? Since this is the largest size, I’m going to have to find a new favourite for his next sweater. Judging by past history, I have maybe another 2 years to hunt.

I discovered much later that Patons Kroy Socks has less yardage per ball than I’m used to with most sock yarns. It has the same 75/25 wool to nylon ratio and it doesn’t seem much thicker if any at all. Add that to the mystery of why I only used just under 5 balls of yarn, maybe 800 yds total, which is not much more than the size 4 that I made him last time. Go figure. It seems counterintuitive to my meagre little brain.

Anyway, I love knitting with sock yarn especially in stockinette stitch. My hands just go where they’re supposed to and it becomes a totally relaxing experience. Maybe I need to make a sock yarn sweater for me?

So what else? I played with some eco-dyeing. This is definitely the time of year to take advantage of the leaves! First I did a sampler square silk scarf using leaves from my yard and a couple from the purple-leaf plum across the street. I had already mordanted three scarves in alum acetate and this one was just rinsed but still wet. I arranged the leaves in groups on one diagonal half of the square and folded the other half over top before covering with plastic wrap. I wanted to keep the layers in the roll separate so I could really see what colours I could get from each species. Here’s what it looked like after it was all rolled up before steaming:


After I steamed it in the colander for an hour I turned off the heat and left it overnight. Very hard to do! I wanted to rip it open right away. The next day I couldn’t stand it anymore so I opened my pressie:


This is a quick-and-dirty photo on top of the washer while the scarf was still wet. Want to see a close-up?


The green leaves are Japanese indigo (unexpected, I know!), the purple ones are smoke bush, the yellow ones are cranesbill geranium, and the brown one is Persian walnut. In the top photo you can also see the Japanese coral bark maple (yellows) on the left and the dark wine colour of the purple-leafed plum on the right. That big blur of purple and burgundy at the bottom is woad. There’s also some blueberry (red-brown), white ash (surprisingly deep wine colour), plus a few you probably can’t see: heuchera “Palace Purple” (pale purple blur), blackberry (very pale beige), American chestnut (even paler beige). It is of course somewhat lighter after it dried but virtually no colour rinsed out. After ironing out the creases, I amused myself by using a fine black permanent pen and writing all the Latin names of the plants next to the leaf prints on the darker half of the scarf. On the lighter half (which had contacted the back sides of the leaves) I wrote the common names. I think it’s kind of neat! A wearable sampler.

So of course I couldn’t leave it alone after that! Yesterday I covered the long narrow silk scarf with woad, purple-leaf plum, “Diablo” nine-bark (one I hadn’t tried yet) and cranesbill geranium. This time I didn’t use any plastic wrap at all. I wanted the colours to mingle and blend. I have yet to unwrap the bundle today. And I still have one more square scarf left.

OK. Bye…

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Colour-fall Inspiration


Yeah, I know. Bad pun. We are in Full Colour Mode here in Soggy-By-The-Sea and needless to say I’m enjoying it as immensely as always. Oranges, reds, rusts, golds, weird intermediates between green and magenta, odd browny-purples etc. are my most favourite colour palette of all. Puts a smile on my face and a song in my heart every year.

Yesterday we walked over to Trout Lake for the last farmers’ market of the season. Everyone was in a happy mood. How could they help it? The sun was out, the leaves were colourful and the produce was scrumptious. We got some organic carrots and radishes and ate them dipped in herbed fromage frais for lunch by the lake. We also got a red kuri squash, some kale (mine is sadly covered in powder mildew), mixed salad greens, Mitsu apples and shiitake mushrooms. And then we walked home. It’s a bit of a walk (3.5km) but not out of our comfort zone. Of course we could have taken the bikes but that’s just too easy.

Meanwhile in crafty news, I’m up to the last sleeve on Stargazer’s new Johnny Sweater. Once I finish that then all I have to do is knit the neckline ribbing and sew up the side seams. I’ve eliminated the button placket on the neck since the opening is big enough to get over his head. I was afraid he’d think the buttons were too “babyish” for a nearly-six-year-old.

I’m also knitting away on my Black Spruce Shawl and getting a little concerned about having enough of the yarn to finish. It’s definitely going to be close. I’m not quite halfway through the chart and nearing the end of the first of only two 50g balls of the charcoal. Luckily I only have one more row with nupps which use up an amazing amount of yarn – especially when you work them loose enough. After that there’s lots of lacy holes which use less. Hopefully. I suppose I could cannibalize my swatch if necessary.

I’m actually beginning to enjoy nupps. Yes, I know. Crazy damselfly. However, it really helps to practice making them very loose and holding each loop to the needle with a finger as you make the next one so they don’t close up again. They have to have enough room so on the return row you can get your needle tip all the way through all the loops and have it stick out the end far enough to get the yarn around it to pull through. I use my pointy Addi Lace circulars and wiggle the tip through the tunnel, feeling for the metal-on-metal that tells me that I haven’t missed any loops. It seems to work and I haven’t had nearly the trouble that I did on the first project with nupps that I knit, the ever-popular Swallowtail. I know a lot of knitters are intimidated by nupps and tend to substitute beads but, much as I like beads, I feel they don’t have the same poofy texture as the little woolly knots and much is lost in the pattern’s design. IMO, beads are better in patterns where they are sparkly accents rather than depending on them to carry a larger visual impact as nupps do. Simply put, beads aren’t dominating enough as a design element. Am I making any sense? nevermind…

I’ve also been slowly and carefully sewing up my fulled black wool jersey cardigan-jacket. I’m using the same pattern that I used for my grey Shawl Collar Vest, McCalls 6084:


This time I’m putting sleeves on it. And cutting lacy leaf shapes for an embellishment on cuffs and front edges. I realised that this stuff cost me over $80 so I don’t want to make any fatal mistakes! Out of the original 4.5 yards it shrank down to just over 3.5 and down to 42” in the width as well. It’s lovely stuff and ridiculously easy to cut and sew even though it’s super-thick. No fraying at all. After cutting out my jacket there’s only a small amount of fabric left, not even enough for a small vest. It’ll have to go in a collage garment of some sort. I’m certainly not going to chuck it out! More on this garment as soon as I’ve finished it.

The weather is changeable today. A little sun, a little cloud, a little rain. It’s colder than it has been but still nowhere near freezing. We did have some hail yesterday morning but it didn’t seem to hurt anything. I’m still hoping for Japanese indigo seeds. I may bring in some of the oldest flower stems soon.

Here’s another of my iTouch’s Hipstamatic photos from yesterday. It’s so fun to play with! Even though you don’t have much control over the results, it always looks artistic.


Friday, October 12, 2012

The Sky Is Leaking

Rain! It feels rather odd to hear the dripping sounds this morning. It hasn’t rained around here since sometime back in July. I’m sure the plants are happy. But the people aren’t! Although I’m certainly enjoying the change, now that the autumn rains have finally set in we probably won’t get much of a break until next July. Such is the price of living in a mild coastal rain forest. Oh well. I have lots to occupy me indoors.

Anyhow, I managed to get quite a lot of gardening done over the last couple of days while it was still dry. The garlic is in and several more beds have been cleaned out and the fall rye mix planted. The green cover keeps the soil from washing away in the winter rains plus adds nutrition next spring when it gets turned under. The seeds are getting well watered in today! Excellent timing. We aren’t completely put to bed for the winter but some things aren’t ready to say goodbye yet.

In knitting news, here’s another FO for you:

Many Mosques Shawl

ManyMosquesScarf For: me

Begun: September 13, 2012
Completed: October 7, 2012

Yarn: Newton’s Yarn Country Happy Feet sock yarn, 100% superwash wool, green multi (greens, golds). 1800 yards per pound. Used about 360 yards? The colour is more true in the second photo below. And there’s still over 100g left from the original monster skein!

Needles: Addi Lace circulars, 4mm (main) and 5mm (cast-on).

Pattern: Mezquita Shawl by Roxanne Yeun, free pattern from Zen Yarn Garden. (Ravelry link)

Mods: I started this with a regular long-tail cast-on but when I felt that the beginning was too tight I began again with the Twisted German Cast-On and a 5mm needle. (Yes, that would be 361 stitches cast on twice!) Switched back to 4mm in the next row. Then I bound off with the Estonian “knit 2 tog” bind-off on the wrong side.

ManyMosquesScarf_beforeComments: I’m a little disappointed with this scarf-sized shawlette. Not the size because I’m OK with it being smaller than the pattern states. After all I used a 2 sizes smaller needle and finer yarn which pretty much guarantees a smaller result, right? And I’m very intrigued by the crescent shape. However as one might judge by the before blocking photo, it’s a little uncooperative. Even after a hard blocking the darling thing still curls rather alarmingly. (The cool “stegosaurus” effect did go away though.) I likely should have gone up yet another needle size for the cast-on and at the end worked at least an inch of garter before binding off. Oh well. I love the colours and they coordinate with a large part of my wardrobe so it will probably get a lot of daily wear.

I have been very intrigued by this shawl shape, knitted lace edging from the bottom up with the plainer crescent-shaped top area formed by short rows. It’s been used to great effect by Susanna IC (for instance in the Annis shawl which I made last year) as well as several other designers – though I’m not sure who actually came up with it first. I decided I needed to try to create my own version using one of the lovely Estonian edgings in The Haapsalu Scarf, the second book by Siiri Reimann and Aime Edasi. They didn’t number or name the edgings but this is the top one on p.173, an expanded tree with a zigzag row of nupps underneath. Here’s my swatch:

BlackSpruce swatch

The dark charcoal yarn makes it kind of hard to see the nupps in this photo. They’re a little more defined in real life. The top section experiments with a small area of short-rows to suggest the crescent separated by eyelet rows. I used the k2tog bind-off on the wrong side as is traditional but I made a mistake in the beginning. The knitted-on cast-on with doubled yarn is correct but I accidentally skipped the return row 2 (all even rows are knit, except when purling the nupps to finish them off) so the loops are on the right side where I find them quite decorative. However, apparently in Estonian tradition they are supposed to be on the non-public side and the plainer side is the public side. I had a big debate with myself on whether or not to be traditional. I’m not above being a rebel sometimes but the “correct” way won out on the actual shawl.

Lest you think I’ve gotten very far on this project, I’m only on the third row so far! Not enough there to photograph yet. It’s all garter stitch so at least there will be no issues with curling. The main yarn is DGB Confetti but I don’t have quite enough so I’m going to knit the crescent area in a dark burgundy red Sisu. It’s really 2 plies of charcoal and one of white but I overdyed it in dark red years ago when I thought I was going to run out of yarn for a pair of T-Man’s socks. There’s only one 50g skein and it coordinates really well with the charcoal Confetti. There had better be enough because there ain’t no more.

I’ve tried to find other uses than socks for this particular Confetti yarn. I usually like this stuff the best because it’s really long-wearing but the way they made this particular colour doesn’t hold up to a great deal of friction. The manufacturers mixed white nylon with black wool to get the deep charcoal gray but unfortunately the lighter nylon pills show badly on the dark surface. These are my gloves from 2008:


See what I mean? Nylon dyes the same as wool so when they do the printed colourways any pills will be the same colour as the wool underneath. Not with this yarn. The contrast just makes them look blech. I now wear these for non-fancy occasions only. No, I’m not going to chuck them until they actually wear out. Too much work to knit gloves. Unfortunately it’s the only way (apart from the dollar store stretchies) that I can get gloves that fit my teensy hands.

Anyway, I’ve already used up one ball plus leftovers from the gloves for the last round on T-Man’s 10 Stitch Blanket (which he’s been using, BTW). I hope it doesn’t show the same kind of wear on an afghan as it does in gloves. Or in my Black Spruce Shawl. After this it will be the end of the colour number 9030 in my stash. And the overdyed Sisu as well. I’m not using Sisu for socks any more either because it tends to wear out faster than some of the other yarns. Probably because it’s a 3-ply instead of 4 and not quite as tightly twisted. After knitting well over a hundred pairs of socks, one comes to understand which yarns might last longest. Don’t you agree?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Think Warm

Oh look! Another post right after the last one. Things are looking up. Heh.

The weather here has been ridiculously warm and sunny for the last couple of months. We’ve already broken a record that’s over 100 years old. Apparently that’s all going to end by Friday and we’ll be into the usual fall rains. Darn. The trees and plants will like it though. They’ve all been suffering from a lack of water unless somebody took pity and gave them a drink. So I’ve put another blanket on the bed, fuzzy slippers on my feet and am anticipating the cooler weather to come. If you snuck a peek at the Flickr photos in my sidebar then you got a preview of my new warm sweater:

Oakmeal Cardigan


For: me

Begun: September 4, 2012
Completed: October 4, 2012

Yarn: 2-ply woolen-spun 100% wool yarn, approx. worsted weight, unknown source, nearly 1 kilo cone, colour “fawn” tweed.

Needles: Addi Lace Clik interchangeables, 4mm and 3.75mm for ribbing on hem and cuffs.

OakmealCardi_backPattern: Quercus Cardigan by Julie Turjoman, Knitty, First Fall 2011. (Knitty link, Ravelry link)

Mods: I began with the M size and because I couldn’t get row gauge even after dropping down 2 needle sizes, I rejigged some of the lengthwise calculations. I also tweaked the waist/hip shaping to fit my body better and lengthened the sleeves slightly.

Comments: This yarn came out of deep stash, so far down that I have no idea where it came from originally. I had tried to use it for a sweater last year but was unhappy with the shape so I tried again. I skeined and washed all the yarn to get rid of the dust and the smell of spinning oil and mothproofing. It helped but there was still a lot of kemp and VM in this yarn though it’s surprisingly softer after washing. Still really rustic however and an excellent choice for this sweater.

This is an attractive and very clearly written pattern. My modifications worked out pretty well (with just a few revisions on the fly) and it fits great. It took me my whole September vacation and a few extra days to finish but I am much happier with this sweater than the last one I tried to make from this yarn! I hope to get lots of wear out of it this winter because it’s very thick and toasty. I’ve pinned it with a padauk stick that was turned by T-Man on his lathe.

The title reminds me of Milady Daughter when she was very little, not much bigger than her sprout, Rosebud. “Oakmeal” is what she used to call her oatmeal porridge which this yarn resembles. And since “quercus” also means oak, there you go.

Speaking of weather and plants, my Japanese indigo is flowering but I’m really hoping that frost holds off for at least another month because they aren’t nearly ripe enough to bring in to finish the seeds. I’ve collected lots of weld, marigolds and coreopsis seeds and will let at least one or two of the woad plants flower next spring. We also plan to dig up the madder bed and try to replant more root eyes to expand the bed. Ideally I’d like to have enough to dig part of the bed and allow the other part to develop for future years. They’re best dug up every third year which gives the roots enough time to grow big enough.

On another subject entirely, Elaine Lipson, author, editor and artist, has published a talk she recently gave at the Textile Society of America Symposium, Washington, DC. Lainie has given lots of thought to the idea of “slow cloth” and articulates it very well. The PDF is here. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Was That A Turkey That Just Flew By?

Hope all my Canadian readers had a Happy Thanksgiving! We did. Turkey, ham, stuffing, good family. I’m thankful for so many things.

I’ve had lots of finished items to show but somehow it’s not as easy to get around to posting as I could wish. I don’t know why. Lazing around knitting and reading is easy. Writing is harder. Perhaps I’m distracted a little by T-Man – not that he prevents me from doing anything! Just that there’s more going on around me than there used to be. It’s the New Normal. Things are still finding a post-retirement balance. And no, I’m not complaining one little bit. Except that the blogging is a little sparse these days. Sorry about that.

Oh well. Here’s the scoop on the socks I finished last month on the first day of our holidays.

Kaffe’s Blues Socks


For: me

Begun:  August 9, 2012
Completed:  September 5, 2012

Yarn:  Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, colourway 4253. 50g = 210m, 2 balls.

Pattern:  Damselfy’s Basic Socks on 64 sts, 2/2 rib 24 rows, 8” before flap heel, 6.75” before toe dec, to 24sts, dog-ear reduction.

Comments:  Just another plain pair of socks with slightly longer legs. I like them to slouch a little above my boot tops. Some of my oldest pairs are starting to wear out. Regia is one of the yarns that wears really well.

Is it just me or are there less choices in this type of sock yarn out there now? The last couple of yarn shops I went into had lots of the indie handpainted skeins but very little in the way of Trekking or Regia or Patons Kroy. The handpaints are lovely but I’m not going to use them for everyday socks. Or grandchildren’s sweaters. Maybe it’s just a current trend in popularity. Personally I’d love to buy huge cones of the base yarns and dye my own. But that’s just me. I did manage to find a suitable yarn (Patons Kroy FX, cadet colours) for grandson Stargazer’s new Johnny Boy sweater. This will be his third version! He actually wears them which inspires me to keep going.

In an effort to spread this out over several posts, I’m going to hold off on the next two FOs. Yeah, I’m a meanie. In other news I’ve washed all my new fabrics except the muslin which doesn’t need it. They came out pretty well even though I tortured them in a warm wash and hot dryer. The silk needs ironing and the rayon microfibre needs wool lint brushed off courtesy of the wool jersey. The latter actually shrank and plumped up quite a bit even though it was labelled as already washed and dried. I like to avoid later surprises by giving my fabrics a pretty hard go at the beginning and then treating the finished garment either the same way or more gently in future, depending on how they perform. For instance, I never dry linen or hemp in the dryer ever again if I can help it. They last much much longer if you hang them to dry and then iron. It takes longer for them to get softened up but it happens eventually.

Oh, and I also started designing a crescent scarf/shawlette/thingy using one of the edgings in The Haapsalu Scarf book. Swatch is knitted and blocked but I’m a little ambivalent about the yarn. I’m trying to use up stuff from the stash and this DGB Confetti yarn in charcoal kind of looks chunky in garter stitch. The jury is still out. More anon.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Hello, Hello, Hello

(Channelling my inner granddaughter Rosebud there. She likes her words in threes.) Yes, I’m finally back! We actually came home Friday but have been madly catching up with things since then including five loads of laundry, picking beans and tomatoes and squash from the garden, sweeping the debris off the decks, downloading and attempting to read 350 emails, buying groceries, enjoying the luxuries of hot running water and clean sheets and little things like that. We really did have a wonderful time and the weather couldn’t have been better but it’s confirmed – there’s no place like home! I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but here.

This was a holiday of Volcanoes and Desert vs. Surf and Sand as we travelled in a big loop through Washington, Oregon and northern California. Definitely lots of volcanoes! We saw a lot of the big guys: Mt. Baker, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood…


…Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, the Three Sisters, Newberry Caldera, Crater Lake, Mt. McLoughlin, and Mt. Shasta. And the littler ones, like Lava Butte, Paulina Peak, and Wizard Island in Crater Lake:


We explored lots of lava tubes, including the big one (a mile long!) in Oregon called the Lava River Cave and a whole bunch more at Lava Beds National Monument in northern California. Science lesson: lava tubes are formed when molten lava rivers cool and harden on the outside but the middle is still hot enough to flow out leaving behind rounded tunnels. Here’s the evidence that I actually was underground (for those who might find it hard to believe):


You might not be able to tell but that is several hundred feet in and without the flash it would be pitch dark! Note my chic headlamp and gloves plus I am wearing my one and only pair of jeans. I was too hot from exertion to need a jacket even though the temp was 13C. We also didn’t wear our bike helmets because it was actually easier to avoid hitting your head without the extra height of the helmet to confuse you. Every tube was different and all were incredibly fascinating. Some even sparkled silver and gold with tiny water drops held by bacteria. Sadly we couldn’t get a photo of how beautiful that was.

We climbed the Big Obsidian Flow at Newberry Crater again, this time in the sunshine instead of pelting rain:


A sparkling mountain of black glass. Also at Newberry we hiked around the edge of Paulina Lake to the natural hot springs and simmered our toes:


I had to find another pool that had lake water splashing in because this one was much too hot! Besides the volcanic stuff we did a lot of trail walking. At Cove Palisades we hiked up the steep switchbacks of the Tam-a-lau trail to the Peninsula. From here you can see Lake Billy Chinook (a dammed section of the Crooked River) to the right and an arm of the Deschutes River on the left:


Such a pretty algae green. The Island in the middle is a unique ecosystem that’s protected and our campground was actually down in the gap between the Island and the Peninsula. It seems like most of the desert hikes included a lot of uphill and started at something like 6,000 feet! Hard on us sea level types, I’ll tell you. We also saw petroglyphs and rock paintings. There’s a preserved petroglyph rock at Cove Palisades. (Look over the edge of the cliff straight down there and you can almost see it!) Two of the lava caves at Lava Beds have rock paintings and there’s also a huge bluff (just outside but still part of the same National Monument) at Petroglyph Point. Along the edge of what had been a lake’s water line is covered with overlapping pictures and symbols and patterns of waves and dots:


This is just a tiny section. Unfortunately they are now behind chain link fencing and barbed wire due to vandals. Apparently even the descents of the Modoc people have no idea what they all mean.

When we finally got to the ocean at Patrick Point just north of Eureka, CA, we were quite dried out from the heat and dust. It was pleasant to be back on the coast with the mist and fog. This particular beach is Nehalem:


The hiking was mostly much more level. The road wasn’t though! We travelled the coast highway 101 all the way up the Oregon Coast, then diagonally across Washington to the Hood Canal, up to Port Townsend and over to Whidbey Island. Our last night was at Fort Casey which was very noisy during the day with the fighter jets flying around for hours on end. The Sound of Freedom, as they say.

The weather was sunny nearly the whole time and hot, at least during the day, especially at Cove Palisades where we pretty much melted in the afternoons. It got down to below freezing at night a couple of times though in Newberry Caldera and Crater Lake. Surprisingly it was pretty toasty even at night in Lava Beds. Once we got to the coast of course it was cooler during the days but not much colder at night. We only had a few tiny sprinkles of rain (mostly in early morning), high cloud when we needed it to cool off and a little fog. I’d call that pretty darn perfect weather.

Speaking of Crater Lake, we met a delightful couple at the Lost River campground while we were there. We don’t usually socialise when on holiday but were glad we made an exception this time. Shout out to Peg and Michael from Portland! Peg sews and knits and is on Ravelry as littlebugknits. Go say hey and tell her I sent you.

Critters encountered included this handsome barred owl at Humbug:


There were ospreys nearly every day, hawks of various kinds, a Lewis woodpecker, scrub and Stellars jays, turkey vultures, California quail, great blue herons and white egrets. Deer, jackrabbits, bunnies, lizards, snakes (no rattlers though), squirrels, chipmunks and ground squirrels. Harbour seals, porpoises (off the ferry), orca whale (from shore). We heard the barking of California sea lions but didn’t see them around the headland at Patrick Point. And we came home with raccoon footprints all over the front of the van! Cheeky devils.

What else? I haven’t mentioned the shopping! Going through Portland on our second day out we of course stopped at Powell’s Books. I managed to pick up a couple of independently published knitting books that I hadn’t been able to find. (More on them in a later post.) Then I navigated us to a new-to-me fabric shop, the Mill End Store. It was huge! But not very many patrons on a Wednesday noon. I managed to control myself but still managed to dent the budget quite a lot. I cleared off the end of a lot of bolts! This doesn’t show them very well but here’s the haul:


The colours were pretty neutral and mostly natural fibres too, except for that textured silver-grey poly on top and some non-static lining. (The orange on the bottom is the pumpkin-patterned tablecloth!) You’ll definitely hear more about them later. I have plans. I also stopped at the Jo-Ann’s in Lincoln City and picked up some muslin, both bleached and unbleached. My excuse is you can’t get it that cheaply here. In Port Townsend I got a couple of vials of beads from Wynwood’s to make some larger stitch markers. Yes, I know I already have lots of beads. So what?

In knitting news, I finished up the Kaffe’s Blues Socks the first day out. Then they went right on my feet. I immediately started my Oakmeal Cardi. I call it that because the pattern is Quercus (oak) and the woollen yarn looks like oatmeal. I knitted diligently on it the whole time we were away and I’m nearly done. It fits perfectly so I’m really happy that I reworked the math to accommodate my different row gauge and tweaking it for fit. Photo coming soon. I also started the Mezquita shawl pattern – twice. The second time I used a larger needle to cast on and also used the twisted German cast-on to make a stretchier edge. I then went down to a 4mm which is smaller than the recommended size so it will be a little smaller and denser. I’m calling it the Many Mosques Shawl (mezquita = mosque) and hoping that it blocks out flatter than it looks at the moment.

And that’s it for now. Clicking my ruby slippers together…