Sunday, November 23, 2014

 

Post 52 Socks Doldrums


What happens to a serious (aka habitual, addicted) knitter in the months after completing 52 PAIRS of socks in less than 52 weeks? Inertia, that's what.

The wind has gone out of the proverbial knitting sails. This knitter is adrift in the uncharted doldrums of the seas. I'm "beached". I've lost the sock knitting mojo. I am a different knitter after participating in the 52 Pair Plunge on Ravelry that ended this past summer.

Sure, I had to let the cracks and callouses clear up on my fingers and palms. And yes, I was busy putting the boat to bed for it's lonely stay at the Brunswick Marina without us on board and organizing for our cross-country car trip. But it was more than that. I just didn't feel that strong internal drive to pick up skinny yarn and toothpick sized needles and knit socks. But I also had a duty to fulfill.

I HAD to knit a few pairs to complete some commitments I had made to others. So, over this summer I knit a pair of men's leisure socks for the Socks for Soldiers group and then knit the heel and feet on a pair in the mandatory regulation army green (see button on left side of blog for link to the group). Another knitter had cranked out the long leg on her circular sock knitting machine and sent me the pair to finish.

Not exciting stuff to be sure, but the organization had sent me the yarn and I owed them the socks. I still have yarn for one more pair of men's leisure socks and a couple of regulation knit hats. I owe, I owe, it's off to knit I go...

So while other knitters are scurrying about digging through their yarn stashes as the weather cools, I just keep sighing and feeling unmotivated. Oh sure, I knit a sock as a tester for another designer - that was fun. And, I've got 1 1/2 fingerless mitts done for Jonesy whose hands are cold on the boat. But I'm still feeling like I have a mild form of PTSD. Or is it the after "vacation" blues? I remember when I was a kid I was always unhappy when Girl Scout Camp was over.
CHAIN LINK FENCE MITTS 
Or perhaps I pushed myself too hard to knit those 52 pairs of socks as if my very life depended on it. I still feel shell (sock) shocked.

So, was it worth it? Yes. First, 50 of those pairs were sent to orphanages in Kazakhstan through the Motherless Child Foundation. In fact the Director is packing up the boxes that will travel with her right now. That will make 50 kids smile with warm feet. Then of course, it was fun to make the monster socks from all the leftover yarns from many sources. Those are my hands-down favorites to knit! I love playing with the colors and getting to feel the softness of high quality yarns that I wouldn't otherwise get a chance to work with if not for the donations.

Today was fruitcake baking day! Each year I bake a set of 2 gluten-free fruitcakes and then let them marinate in brandy (or whiskey) for a few weeks. Jonesy and I love this tradition - oh, not the baking part as much as the slicing a bit off the loaf for breakfast part of the tradition. This year I included the zest of 2 tangerines and an orange in the batter and they smelled so good while baking!

The cold weather here in Georgia (although I am in shirt-sleeves today) has meant that I can finally wear some of my wool vests! Here's a photo of me wearing my Grass Creek Park vest that I knit many years ago. I actually got to wear it to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival this past fall too. It's been stashed away on the boat for the 8 years that we were in the tropics and survived just fine.

Life is good.



Monday, November 10, 2014

 

The North American Landmass Crossing


KNITTING SOCKS IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MT
The North American Landmass Crossing via Automobile Adventure 2014 is complete! We are now back on our sailboat Niki Wiki in Brunswick, Georgia resting up before our next excursion.

We experienced 38 nights of car-camping at altitudes from ~5ft above sea level (on a beach in Oregon) to 8100ft in the Rocky Mountains. Not only did we drive from coast-to-coast and back, we also traveled north to just below the border with Canada in Glacier National Park to south to the border with Mexico in Big Bend NP. We covered 11,012 miles (yes, Jonesy kept track) and drove through 23 states.
THE RIO GRANDE WITH MEXICO ON THE FAR SIDE

One of our goals was to visit as many National Parks as we reasonably could. We trended towards the northern US on our way west in August and toured the southern states on our way east in October. The count? 10 National Parks; Smokey Mountains GA, Mammoth Caves KY, Grand Tetons WY, Yellowstone WY, Glacier MT, Crater Lake OR, Great Basin NV, Bryce Canyon UT, Capitol Reef UT, and Big Bend TX.

In Oregon we took care of the homes of two of our friends. The first care taking gig was just for a few days. We gorged ourselves on the bounty of the organic garden and loaded up on black doggie hugs. The second gig was for 4 weeks and was just up the road in the same lovely country setting. Here we were servants to a terrific cat named Ozzy.

OREGON BEACH - Bone-chilling cold and foggy in September
From the kitchen window I could watch the horses in the pasture next door and from the back deck we saw does with their fawns almost every day. The temperatures in this area near Corvallis are idyllic during September and sunny skies were the norm.

Here I had the use of the studio of the resident fiber artist where I read most of the books in her textile library! What treasures! As I was scheduled to teach a Needle Felting workshop in October, I spent my time creating samples for the participants using many
JELLY FISH
different needle felting techniques. Can you say "Heaven"?

Jonesy and I spent many hours simply walking around downtown Corvallis and the Oregon State University campus. The students hadn't arrived en masse yet so both the town and campus were relatively quiet. We shopped at the Saturday Farmer's Market and had our minivan's radiator replaced at the local auto repair shop. Good timing on that repair actually as we would be crossing vast stretches of desert on the return trip where a radiator failure would have been disastrous!!
NEEDLE FELTING 

After our Oregon vacations duties, we headed north up to the Seattle area to visit with our son Brett for a while. We rode the ferry in the Puget Sound (like the good tourists we were) and I stumbled across the excellent knitting store Churchmouse Yarns and Teas on Bainbridge Island. Unfortunately, they were getting ready to close so I just a quick look-see, but I'll be back!

Once I'm rested more, I'll share about our visits to some interesting fiber places such as the Pendleton Mills, Mountain Colors, and more.
VIEW THRU KITCHEN WINDOW

On the way back east we stopped to visit some cruising friends who were back at their land bases. Folks who we probably won't cross paths with because we're heading north instead of cruising the western Caribbean, but you never know!

I had Jonesy make an unplanned stop (how? puppy dog eyes, sad face and whimpering) for a couple of hours in Houston because I saw road signs for the International Quilt Festival there that very day! It was a chance of a lifetime and I wasn't going to miss it. So I paid $12 to get in and literally jogged through the market area and glanced at a few of the quilts on display. Jonesy sat in the car and read.
SOCKS KNIT FROM LEFTOVERS from Kris
The festival was a visual overload. But I got a lot of inspiration from the colors and new products and techniques available to quilters that I can borrow. I didn't spend a dime.

We are both LOVING being back on the boat and in the water. We are comfortable in it after all these years. Back in July we were exhausted and itching for new experiences. We've now had that and are happy to be back home. Right now, there is a breeze which is making the boat rock slightly at the dock. The rigging is making the familiar creaking sounds as the boat moves, birds are flying about noisily, the wifi is working as well as the new little heater that keeps the boat warm. Life is good.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

 

FIBER NOTEWORTHY LOCATION #1

On our road-trip last month out to the West Coast we not only visited many National and State Parks, but we also stopped at Fiber Noteworthy Locations (FNLs).

Our first such stop was the the Brown Sheep Yarn Co. Mill and Factory Store in western Nebraska. We thought we had the location all mapped out on our iPad, but the app took us to this spot - way out in the corn and bean (as in dried beans to eat) fields on dirt country roads. Nope. No wool processing mill in sight. We drove around a bit feeling quite lost. Finally, we realized that we had a phone (we're still not quite used to that) and the phone number. After a quick call and a confusing conversation (the locals don't call the roads the same names as in the map app), we found Brown Sheep Yarn Co.
MY YARN HAUL

The Mill Store sells only "seconds" quality yarns so as not to compete with their retailers. As it is the only yarn store for a hundred miles, they also carry needles, books, and other fiber craft supplies. There was plenty of yarn to purchase and the place was quiet, so I took a deep breath and started fondling.

Jonesy had been worried about how cold it was going to be when we camped up in the high altitudes of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. He needed a warm hat. Guess what? He's married to a knitter! So the first item we (he) picked out was some washable wool for his new hat. Just one skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Superwash in the the color "Purple Haze" was all we needed.
JONESY'S NEW HAT

While empoyees of the mill rushed about in a adjoining hallway and office complex, doing their jobs, I sat on the floor and unloaded a couple of bins sorting through small mill ends (they were less expensive than full skeins). People must have wondered what was taking me so long because eventually the owner Peggy Wells came in to chat with me. We had a wonderful conversation about everything from the mill's history to what was growing in the fields and why. She also shared with me how the same 2-ply yarn is sold as lace weight, then plied with more 2-ply yarns and becomes the heavier weight yarns. Very clever indeed! I

TERRY AT BROWN SHEEP CO.
After a couple of hours (really!) Peggy came in again to check on me. I allowed her to weigh my selections for payment. All yarns are sold by the pound. What did I buy? Amazingly I purchased mostly bulky and worsted weight yarns including some small skeins of hand-dyed yarns. Why? Because now that I am living in North America again I will have cool enough weather to let me handle thick wools. I've wanted to visit this store for many, many years and it was a dream come true!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

 

From Sea to Foggy Sea


CAR CAMPING the easy way
We made it - all the way from the sunny, humid and hot Atlantic Coast of Georgia to the foggy and downright cold Pacific Coast of Oregon! Our new (used) Dodge Caravan and driver performed flawlessly over the 2-lane by-ways and mountain passes. I knit.

We traveled through 13 states, stayed in 5 National Parks, 3 Forest Service campgrounds, 5 State Parks, 1 BLM campground and 1 private campsite. Total cost for overnight stays and park access was a grand total of $356 (28 nights).

We slept comfortably in our van with our new "tent" attached and on our V-berth cushions from the boat. Our new camp stove and pop-up rain/shade cover worked great.
Our "Deluxe Chairs ($9 each and purchased by our son Brett for the Sebring 12-hour race earlier this year) are still going strong many hours of use. That's Jonesy reading in one of them at our campsite in Fort Mountain, Georgia. This photo was taken before the black bear walked through our site.

Bear? Yep. I was just sitting in my Deluxe Chair reading when I glanced up and saw a bear walking slowly by me. I froze. He came up onto the gravel of our site, looked at me casually, and kept walking. Slowly, slowly, I stood and backed up towards the car. Then I threw myself in the car and started yelling "BEAR!, Bear! Bear!" and honking the horn. Jonesy was just walking up to our site from the bathrooms and he clapped his hands. The bear trotted away - not in a real hurry. Heck, there were lots of kids camped near us!

We notified the park staff and they sent out a guy with a Paint Gun which they use just to scare the bears and discourage them from hanging out at the campgrounds. Turns out this bear was what they call a "yearling". He/she was one of the cubs born last year when they had a population explosion. He was a littler larger than a Bernise Mountain Dog/St. Bernard and much heavier looking. I actually got to about 6 feet of him and could see the beautiful shiny black fur. So that's our bear story.

As I can knit simple socks without having to look at my hands, that's what I did whenever we were underway. Jonesy did all the driving, in fact, I haven't driven our car yet. I make a great "rider" and a mediocre road navigator. But at least I got some socks done. Here's one pair for the teenagers at the orphanages in Kazakhstan. These are simple socks from Regia Ringel Color wool yarn donated by a fellow knitting camper.

More to come! We have bison and Tetons and visits to fiber studios!

Monday, July 28, 2014

 

Ships' Stores

JONESY AND THE NIKI WIKI

So here we are in our slip at the Brunswick Landing Marina. We're way down on the new Dock 15 which means that we can enjoy lovely views of the marshlands, sunsets, and all the birds. Oh, and watch the steam rise from the cellulose (pulp) mill up river.

The ShadeTree boat covers are in place and the A/C is running 24/7 to keep us cool from the Georgia summer heat. We know how to do this after 8 years in the tropics and actually it has been cooler here than it was anywhere else we've been. Being farther north does have it's advantages.

The downtown area of Brunswick is just a short walk from our boat. It's a sleepy little town that has seen better days. Back during World War II this town was busy building the large cargo "Liberty Ships" for the war effort. Over 3 years they built 99 ships! There sure must have been a lot of people and action around here in those years. It's kind of eerie to walk the streets as most of the old buildings are vacant, and the styles haven't been updated. I like it!
OLD CHUNK OF ROSIN

The other day one of our dock neighbors shared with me some rosin. He was out shrimping (which is what he does for a living) and the nets hauled in a mess 'a (that's southern speak) pine rosin from a site where a barge had sunk many, many years ago. Back in the early 1900's Brunswick produced products called "Ships' Stores". These were pine tar, rosin and turpentine made from the pitch of the numerous pine trees which grow here. So this yellow chunk may be almost 100 years old and is still good after spending time in a barrel on the sea floor!

Pine tar and rosin were important to ship builders and owners to prevent the wood from rotting. These days with most boats being made from steel or fiberglass, there's not much demand for pine tar. Now rosin is still used a little. I remember the small piece of rosin that I used to draw my horsehair violin bow across. It had such a great pine smell. In Brunswick there is still a factory which produces modern rosins, resins and other chemicals out of the pines. I'm having so much fun learning about the history of this area.
LOADING UP THE VAN

We have wheels! Jonesy put in a lot of research trying to find a used minivan for us (because they aren't very popular), but he did it! Yep, this is our 4th Dodge Caravan and no, it isn't white like the first 3 were. This one is silver. We have flipped all the rear seats down into their hidey holes in the floor and are getting it ready for our cross-country car-camping adventure.

Yep, we are leaving the boat all alone for a few months while we go-see-do from literally, coast-to-coast. Guess what? The cushions from our V-berth fit perfectly in the back of the van as our bed!
LINDA P. SOCKS #3 FOR KAZ
We didn't have to buy any foam or a mattress which saved us a lot of money. We are leaving early Thursday morning for our trip to see how many National Parks, Monuments, Historic places, etc. we can see before we arrive in Oregon.

In the meantime, there has been some local sight-seeing and knitting going on. We took a drive to nearby St. Simon Island and toured the Ft. Frederica National Monument. This was an English fort build in 1736 to fend off Spanish ships from this territory. There's not much remaining of the fort or all the houses which were there, but the site itself is beautiful.


VAL SOCKS #2 FOR KAZ
The knitting has been mostly simple socks knit with yarns donated by Linda P. and Val. Yes, there is a new sock design in the works but I can't share anything for months. Also finished recently was a pair of Socks for Soldiers olive drab socks. But I did cheat on these. Another group member sent me the ribbed legs already knit on her antique circular sock machine. I only had to pick up the stitches and work the heel, foot and toe. Again, easy and mindless knitting.

Yes, I have a large amount of donated sock yarn already in the van for our trip. What could be better than being driven through beautiful country, camping in natural places, and knitting socks?

Life is good.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

 

NEW Sock Knitting Book!


Yippeeee! This brand-spanking new book from Interweave Press includes both an article I wrote about knitting with multiple stranded colors of yarn in socks and the corresponding Spectrum Socks pattern. Yes, I'm tickled to pieces.

I received my author's copy in the mail last week and haven't come down from the high yet. Sockupied: 20 Knit Projects to Satisfy your Sock Obsession is available online as a Pre-Order or Kindle download on Amazon, on the Interweave website and soon in book stores and at your local yarn shops.

If you already own the Sockupied Spring 2014 emag, then you already have my contributions. BUT if you prefer a nice paper book (like I do), then this one has that and a whole lot more.

Now I really must get to knitting my lastest sock design which are on my needles. Life is good

Sunday, July 06, 2014

 

The WHY we do this thing we do


Why do we bother to travel slowly, winding back and forth up the Intracoastal Waterway instead of heading out to sea and doing a straight through sail? Because, we get to spend our evenings and nights safely anchored in beautiful places like this.
video

In Northern Florida we watched the large PINK Roseate Spoonbill birds go about their daily business, and in Southern Georgia we spent the late afternoon watching the wild horses on Cumberland Island graze the shore grasses. Along the way we passed Bald Eagles sitting atop their nests in tall trees.

We left St. Augustine just days before Tropical Storm/Hurricane Arthur blew in. We traveled north during the "calm before the storm" enjoying the sunny weather. We went through drawbridges and under fixed bridges and only went aground once. What?

Yes, even within the very nice channel markers on the waterway it can get too shallow for our 5 1/2 foot draft. It's not supposed to be that way but it just is. We managed to quickly throttle up and back off of the "hump" or shoal. No biggie. The few miles of channel at the back side of Jekyll island is notoriously shallow. So for this section we planned on arriving about a half hour before high tide. This allowed us to move through it during mostly high tide. Yes, we saw 5 1/2 feet  on our depth gauge but we didn't feel any bump and made it safely through. Why again did we do this instead of going out to sea and around the island? Because of the unique opportunity we had to see the unspoiled beauty of the tidal marshes. Finally, on July 1st, we sailed under the big Sydney Lanier bridge and now are safely tucked into the Brunswick Landing Marina in Georgia.

Of course while Jonesy manned the helm, I sat in the cockpit and made myself useful by knitting through the long daylight hours. Unfortunately I managed to accidentally toss a bamboo double point needle overboard. But not before I finished these little pull-on skirts for the knit teddy bears for the kids in Kazakhstan.
These are knit with worsted weight yarns from the bottom up. To finish, a length of cord elastic is threaded through the last stitches and a ribbon can be woven through the eyelet round. Lazy daisy flowers can be stitched onto it too!


These are sized to fit a 9" circumference around the waist. Many of the children who have received these bears, and will in the future, are quite young so I wanted to make clothes that would be easy for them to dress their bears. Elastic and ribbing should work, and maybe a touch of Velcro.

And we all know that teddy bears also need some socks, so I knit up some sport weight ribbed socks too. No. I don't have a picture of my completed bear because I STILL haven't gotten up the nerve to embroider his eyes, nose and smile. That part intimidates me, but I'll get it done before he gets send to Kazakhstan.

Of course there were people-sized socks started and completed too along the way. These 3 pairs are from yarns donated to me to knit for the kids from Linda P. and Kris. Two are simple plain socks (well the yarn isn't plain) and the purple pair is knit from my Hug Me Socks pattern which makes a stretchy and textured fabric.

So, here we are in Brunswick - another town to learn where the grocery stores are, how to work the laundry machines in the marina and how to get around in general. I wonder if my friend Pam K.who lives here in Georgia felt a change in the "force" when we came back.

Back? Yep. We lived in Georgia up outside of Atlanta for 7 years back in the 80's and early 90's. So in a sense we are returning. But this time by sailboat.

We're living the slow life.

Friday, June 27, 2014

 

Storks, Cranes, and Blue-Tailed Skinks Oh My!

LIGHTNER MUSEUM & SHOPS
Our mandatory "Get out of Florida" date of July 1st is fast approaching. We aren't used to having to be somewhere by a certain date so it is looming over us like a tax filing deadline. Why do we have to leave? Because the insurance on our boat is not valid south of Latitude 31 due to the risk of "named storms" (tropical storms) and hurricanes during the summer months. We need to have safe harbor which we've stated to the insurers will be in a marina in Brunswick, Georgia.

But, we're doing our best to enjoy our last few weeks here in Florida (just like we used to enjoy Sundays when we had to go to work on Monday morning). You just have to clear  your head of the thoughts of what's coming next and enjoy the present. Jonesy loves life in a marina and I like to Go-See-Do and be on the hook. So, where are we now?

We're almost north enough, but not quite - we are in St. Augustine Florida. This is an ancient city (at New World standards), the oldest in the Americas. St. Augustine is a tourist destination due to the historic fort and beautiful old buildings and of course the shopping and dining experiences aimed at tourists to grab their dollars.
LAUNDRY, A/C, WIFI AND LOUNGING

Now for us, it was a chance to meet new doctors (thanks Obamacare) update our meds, shop in (my first) Hobby Lobby craft store, and get our laundry done. We picked up a mooring ball at the City Marina and have been enjoying the sea breezes and chuckling at the tidal flows.

Usually, a boat will face into the wind which is why all the hatch openings face to the front of the boat. But the tidal currents are so strong here in the mooring field that our boat is pushed to face up "stream" regardless of where the light breeze is coming from. Thus, we struggle a little bit to get cooling air into the salon of the boat. We've experienced this before in La Paz, Baja California Mexico.
JONESY WALKS THE BEACH
 A wonderful solution is to leave the boat and go somewhere cooler! That's not always as fun and relaxing as hanging on on the local beaches. The City Marina has a very nice AIR CONDITIONED coin-op laundry area and Cruiser's Lounge complete with free wifi.  There we met some of the crew from the 170ft. sailing ship El Galeon which is a replica of the Spanish ships that sailed this area in the early 1500's. This ship is a real working ship - it really sails

While out riding the bus on our many trips around this part of Florida we've seen a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a Wood Stork. Yep, they were just right there on the side of the roads for all to see! The large cranes winter in Florida, then migrate to points north for the summer months. I guess these were stragglers (like us). The stork stays in the warm south year round. We see blue-tailed skinks everywhere. Their tails are so brightly colored it's hard to miss them.
WOOLWORTH'S "SELF SERVICE" Air Conditioned

Here's some nostalgia - check out these engraved door handles on a bank in central St. Augustine - Woolworth's! These days there isn't a single store to buy general merchandise in this area as all the buildings have been converted into art galleries, restaurants, bars, and tourist cha-cha marts. This old city has gone through many changes over hundreds of years; changing nationalities in its colonial days, the most exclusive and expensive resort hotels in the nation at one time, to apparently to having a functioning middle-America downtown. Now it is a tourist spot - what will be next?
 Knitting Content

Yes! I completed my challenge to knit 52 pairs of socks in 52 weeks. In fact I finished a month early. What a relief! Here is pair #52 which is knit with yarn donated by Tina in Vero Beach (Knit Picks Simply Stripes). I used the slip-knot cast on for this pair because 1) Tina introduced me to it and 2) it is very stretchy and neat.

DIFFERENT STRIPES
Now these diagonal patterning socks are from a brand new pattern from Linda Pahdoco that I test knitted for the Six Sox Knitalong Yahoo group. I love how they change the look of self-patterning yarns and they were really fun to knit.

Oh, and another pair of monster socks were completed. For these I stuck to yarns in the red/burgundy/pink color tones. At each change in
yarn I worked 2 rounds of simple 1x1 stranded color work.

And finally here are pair #53 which officially made me an "over-achiever" on the Ravelry group for the challenge.  Ha! I think that must be the first time I've ever been called that!

This last pair shown today was knit with a mystery yarn donated by Linda P. The pink/yellow/purple yarn was already very pretty so I didn't use any special stitch patterns and just knit a plain sock. This pair lived in my shopping tote that I carry with me everywhere. We spend a lot of time riding or waiting for the little Sunshine Buses so I get quite a bit of knitting done during our land travels. We've even got to know some of the other riders on the bus and had a nice beach outing yesterday with a local gal.

Yes. I do have more socks on the needles, but now that I've reached my 52 sock goal I am also joyfully diving into other fiberly pursuits. Like what?

Crochet! Hardanger embroidery! Tatting! I purchased a set of 4 bookmarks from Nordic Needle which provide a step-by-step guide to learn the art of hardanger embroidery. Each kit comes with the bookmark already made with attached lace, the needles needed, a needle treader, and both types of thread to complete the project. This is the way I needed a kit like this because I wouldn't have a clue as to what needle to use.

So, I've finished the first bookmark and am now working on the second one. The instructions are very clear and complete so I haven't had any problems (except for my own counting errors). I don't get to cut out the peek-a-boo windows for which hardanger is famous for until the 4th bookmark after I've learned all the stitches. That's fine with me - I think they are lovely just like they are anyway.


HARDANGER - COUNTED THREAD EMBROIDERY
We'll be dropping the lines from our mooring ball early Sunday morning for our 3-day trip up to Brunswick, Georgia. This cruising on the Intracoastal Waterway is low-key compared to ocean cruising. We get to stop in the evening and drop the anchor to rest instead of staying up all night on watch. There are no big seas to contend with either. Of course it still does take a lot of planning and chart studying and yes, we have to pay attention to the channel markers all day and not stray. We're liking it.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

 

Knitters are the Knicest!

THANK YOU VAL of Vero Beach!
See these 100gr balls of delicious Regia World Circus sock yarn? Yes, there's four of them. Each ball easily provides enough yarn for a pair of adult socks with lots of leftover yarn to help me piece together a few pairs of smaller monster socks too.

This collection of yarn was generously donated to me by a knitter that I "met" online through Ravelry.com. Val (is her name) knew that I knit socks for my favorite charity, the Motherless Child Foundation and she had some yarn in her stash that needed a home. When she realized that I was traveling through her winter-home area of Vero Beach, and even though we couldn't meet up in person as she had already gone north, she had her friend hand-deliver these yarns to me! Yes. Knitters are the knicest.

But that's not all. I met Val's friend, Tina, at a knitting get-together (along with many other kind folks). Then, at our 2nd meeting, Tina surprised me with yarn donations from her stash! Not only did I get to sit and knit and chat with fiberly folks, but I went home with bags of yarn which were full of future entertainment for me and warm socks for kids in cold areas.

Tina also introduced me to a very unique cast on method that is SUPER STRETCHY and wonderful for the cuffs of socks. So many knitters make that one cast on row so tight that they can't even get their hand knit socks on over their heels. So sad. In the last few years I've been using the German Twisted (Old Norwegian) method with good results.

THANK YOU Tina of Vero Beach!
This Jeny's Stretchy Slipknot Cast On is a little difficult to learn at first and took me several tries to make it neat-looking, but it was well worth the effort. Not only can it be stretched over even the largest heel/instep but it also results in a nice edging which isn't sloppy loose like the results of other cast on methods.

The first ball I lovingly fondled from Tina's stash called out to me to be knit into mittens...soft, warm mittens. The kids in the orphanages of Kazakhstan need mittens too (it gets to -40 degrees there!) I was writing up the tutorial for my Mitten Knit-along on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo Group, and I needed a mitten-in-progress to photograph. How do these things all work out so great anyway?

The Mitten KAL is running right now through the end of June 2014 so if you've ever wanted to learn how to knit an adult sized mitten with fingering weight or sock yarns this is your chance! The pattern is free during the KAL and will be for sale later on Ravelry.

You know the old saying that things always come in sets of 3? Well the donations of yarn for my charity sock knitting really did just that. In the mail I received a big FLUFFY package of sock yarns donated by a friend of mine from knitting camp (Linda P.). I am overwhelmed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of these knitters who share from their personal stashes of woolly wonderfulness.

THANK YOU Linda P. of OK

The timing couldn't have been better! My personal stash of sock yarns is very low right now and I have just about worked my way through some past donations. The director of the Motherless Child Foundation just returned from another delivery trip to Kazakhstan and confirmed that the need for socks and other warm items continues and is greatly appreciated.

So I'm able to knit on because knitters are the nicest folks. Life is good.


Monday, June 02, 2014

 

All the way to the Moon

So, here we are now cruising the surface of the moon on our Lunar Rover. I knit.

Not? Oh. Well, we DID tour the Kennedy Space Center the other day which has been on our Bucket List for many years - more on that later.

We spent two weeks in lovely Vero Beach. We loved it there and now know why other cruisers have called it "velcro beach". You could really get stuck there.

The City Marina facility is the best that we've seen - shady picnic and BBQ areas, large, secure dinghy dock, friendly staff, and all the needed amenities for cruisers. The city of Vero Beach runs a FREE bus service that stops both at the dinghy dock and the cruiser's lounge every hour. The long white sand beach is within easy walking distance through a beautiful neighborhood, plus the bus also stops at the beach which is great when you get worn out from beach walking and need a lift back. There's a farmer's market on Saturday mornings, a charming yarn store (Knitty Gritty) and even get-togethers with friendly knitters at the Panera Bread cafe. What's not to love? We certainly are enjoying all the conveniences of life in the USA.
Niki Wiki on a mooring in Vero Beach, FL

Here's a photo of our boat taken from the big bridge we went under to get to Vero so you can see that there are natural areas too. We were in Vero during the beginning of the low season so we had a mooring all to ourselves and several even were unoccupied. During the high season they actually raft boats together to share a mooring ball because this place is so popular. Sounds a little too chummy to me.

But, we have to keep our eyes on the calendar to be sure that we are north of Florida (latitude 31) by the first of July, so too soon it was time to head up the Intracoastal Waterway to our next destination.
Vero Beach - walk, walk, walk forever
My view of the shores of the ICW for 2 days

TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA

It was a short 2-day trip up the Indian River (which makes up this part of the ICW) to the City Marina in Titusville. Cruising up the river is much easier and more scenic than doing ocean passages! All along both sides of this wide river are houses, many of them with their private docks. We saw small, older fishing get-away cabins right next door to sprawling mansions with manicured landscaping.

The waters were so calm because we were entirely protected from the ocean waves and most of the winds by the barrier islands or strips of land. The channel itself is well-marked so it was like driving on an open highway at 5 miles per hour. Occasionally, we encountered another sailboat but mostly we had motorboats of all sizes traveling with us.

And yes, we did drop the hook and spent the night sleeping during this passage unlike our big-seas passages. People have often asked us what we do at night when we sail from one place to another and wonder if we drop the anchor to sleep.
Osprey (Fish Hawk) nest on a pole and in the background

Nope. When out at sea that is impossible and we have to have someone awake and watching the helm at all times. On the ICW, we can stop at many different places and drop the hook. That's because it is very shallow water. We are loving this easy cruising!
Jonesy watching an Atlas rocket launch

Another reason why we were in a bit of a hurry to get up to Titusville is that there was a launch of an Atlas Rocket scheduled from the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force station. There was no need to travel anywhere because we could see it right from our boat! The roar was exciting! Up, up and away on a secret mission!

So, I mentioned our trip to the Kennedy Space Center earlier. We had a wonderful day there! The space shuttle Atlantis is now kept there inside a special display building so that we had the opportunity to get up close to it.

Jonesy with the Space Shuttle Atlantis
As part of our entry fee ($46 for seniors) we got a very informative bus tour of the different launch pads. Along the way the driver pointed out an alligator lurking in a canal and a GIANT bald eagle nest that is ab out 50 years old and is still being used. And of course we saw plenty of osprey, egrets and herons.

Some of you may not know that Jonesy spend his early years on an Air Force base as his dad was a test pilot. This was during the time of the "Right Stuff" and some of these pilots went on to become the first astronauts. Then in later years we both worked in the Rockwell Intl. Palmdale, CA facility which also housed the Space Shuttle Program (we were on the B1-B program).

Jonesy and his rockets
When the space shuttles would land on the dry lake out at Edwards Air Force Base we could hear the double sonic booms from inside our little house in the desert! So it was fun for us to see these things up close at the Space Center.

All of the staff at the Kennedy Space Center were so friendly and helpful which made our time there even more enjoyable. It was like they wanted to be working there! We appreciated their positive attitudes and smiles all day.

Yesterday, while I was doing laundry in the marina's A/C'd laundry room we had a thunderstorm with some rain.
Check out this photo of the Titusville Marina - what is that in the water? See those grey lumps, one at the concrete wall by the center downspout and one sticking up out of the water?

Well - that's a manatee! His/her head is at the concrete wall and that's the thick, wide tail sticking up. These critters know that if it rains there will be fresh water coming out of the downspouts. They position their mouths right under the spout and drink the fresh water. This got me wondering how they do it out in the natural areas...do they catch runoff from rocks or trees? Obviously, they like the fresh water.

Here's a close up photo. He/she is so ugly that it's cute! The chin was covered in thick bristles. What a treat to see one up so close!

Anyway, we'll be here in Titusville for another couple of days and then we need to head north some more. Next stop will be a single overnight anchoring off of Daytona Beach and then in to St. Augustine for do some more go-see-do activities!
Next post: knitting

Life is good.

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