Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Heading to Japan

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

I’m on my way to Japan today, and I’m making great progress on my travelling sock.

I knit the toe of the sock in June while watching a former student perform a comedy show at the Grand Theatre.

I’m liking the stripes… It keeps the project interesting, and I can work the sock in 6 row chunks. I have a feeling that with the long flight, and hours of train riding, I will have these done to wear home!

I’m writing a travel blog while I’m gone. Check it out here.

FO: Mittens for Evan

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

One month ago today….

I was on vacation, meeting alpaca.

and dyeing roving on the fire.

Today I’d like to present to you the result of all that spinning

I have completed a pair of mittens for Evan (my traveling buddy) to commemorate our adventure, and remind him of his introduction into the crazy world of fiber arts.  (He spun the white fleece on a drop spindle at our campsite)

The mittens have 2010 on the cuff (palm side) and on the back of the wrist they have alpacas!

All of the black stranded colourwork is done with alpaca that I bought on our trip.  This means that the inside of the cuff is extremely soft and fluffy.

I like how all of the colours stripe and blend together.  The mittens don’t match perfectly, but I think that adds to the charm.  They are one of a kind, and will be making their way to Providence this fall for his birthday!

More Vacation Yarns….

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

While on vacation Evan and I spent a lovely day in Salem Massachusetts.  We saw the historic village, saw lots of thatched roofed houses, learned a lot of American history, and of course, I was drawn as if by gravity to the room with the spinning supplies! 

There were hand cards, drop spindles, knitting stuffed into baskets of hand spun yarn, and in the back corner of the room was the spinning wheel.  I asked the woman in period costume about all of these artifacts, and she had no idea how to use any of them.  It was such a shame….she could have been sitting and spinning all day long!

There weren’t any other tourists there, so I took a moment and showed the woman how to use the drop spindle.  I don’t know that she was all that interested, but she humoured me as I took pictures of her set up.

Here’s Evan in the stocks–he escaped soon afterward.

After wandering historic Salem, Evan and I went to Seed Stitch Fine Yarn.  This wasn’t exactly a random event.  I had planned the mission for a very special purpose which unfortunately I can’t quite reveal just yet.  Poor Evan got dragged along, but seemed not to mind so much.  He had never been to a yarn store before….except on Martha’s Vineyard where we saw the alpacas.

seed stitch fine yarn

What a friendly colourful place this is.  We were greeted right away, and given a bit of a tour.  There are so many yarns that I can’t seem to find in Kingston, but I’ve heard about them on Ravelry.  It’s nice to be able to feel what they are like, and see the range of colours.  There are comfy chairs and a work table, patterns to browse, and SO MUCH YARN!  If you are in the Salem area, go visit.  If you are nowhere close to Salem…go to their website!  (free shipping in the states if you spend more than $75)

"it's so fluffy I'm gonna die!"

Evan went looking around and….he found alpaca yarn!  What a guy….


I was very impressed at the creative display in the entry to the store.  Most of what you see is knit.  I like the little knit lobster, and the yarn in the mason jars.  It’s such a perfect combination of summer colours.

My purchase will be revealed later once my project is complete…

Across the street from the yarn store was a pretty awesome looking ice cream store, but we were already stuffed, so we kept walking around the small side streets, and we ran into something pretty cool.  We ran into Michael Allocca (etsy), who was making chain maille baby clothing!

The interlocking rings were aluminum and rubber, so the finished garment will be light and stretchy.  Such a neat idea.

We watched for a while, and it looked like a fairly easy process….link rings together….but I’m sure that if I tried it, I’d just end up with a tangled mess and lots of rings on the floor.  I’m impressed with his talent and creativity.  I think it looks a bit like knitting….what do you think?

Feels Like Fall

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Thank goodness for cold fronts!  The windmills have been turning like crazy, and the wind whipping through my windows, bringing with it the feeling of fall.  The change in weather has made such a difference in my day.

I woke up motivated to get things accomplished–starting with the last inch of ribbing on my vacation sock.  Drum roll please!  I hereby present the pair of completed socks (2 summer vacations in the making).  I’ve come to terms with the fact that this year’s vacation is done.  I think I might wear them on the first day of school, if it stays cold enough.

Sock 1: completed during my vacation in 2009 to Jordan and Egypt.
Sock 2: completed during my vacation in 2010 through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
Pattern: my regular toe up sock pattern
Yarn: Regia sock yarn

The rest of my day included lots of sorting and organizing and cleaning both the bathroom and kitchen, and then (after a little nap) I cooked up a big pot of vegetarian chili–a delicious way to clean out the fridge!

somehow food pictures don't ever look as good as the real thing

My Recipe:

  • 1 very large onion (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 green pepper (cut into small pieces)
  • 2 carrots (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 can diced tomato
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • the end of my salsa and tomato juice
  • textured vegetable protein (TVP) to soak up the liquid and look like meat.
  • pepper, chili powder (to taste)

Campfire Dyeing

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

After our visit to Island Alpaca, Evan and I returned to our campsite, got groceries (which included vinegar and food colouring) and cooked dinner while we dyed most of the white wool roving that we bought.  We kept some of it white for a spinning lesson, and dyed two different batches (using up all of our cooking pots).

We got all our materials ready, and then wet the wool with water, then added some vinegar.  The vinegar is acidic, and wool needs to be in an acidic condition to accept the colour of the dye.  You could use kool-aid instead, since it is already acidic, but Evan decided that he wanted to make tough colours, so pink, purple, orange and baby blue wouldn’t cut it.

We transferred the wool to our cooking pot (it’s ok to do this since we are just using vinegar and food dye). We added lots of food colouring to be sure we would get a deep colour.

yellow + blue = green

Our other dye pot was more of a mix of all the colours.

We had to be sure that the water didn’t boil.  We didn’t want any turbulence in the pot which might encourage felting.  This is harder to control when you are dyeing on the campfire–pretty easy to control on the stove, or in the microwave.

As the mixture cooks, all the colour gets soaked into the wool and the water will eventually appear clear.  I wasn’t sure how this pot would end up.  Right now it looked kinda like a brown mess.

multitasking is a great thing.  We cooked our meal while we cooked our wool.  Tinfoil package dinners or hotdogs on a stick are good menu ideas when all your cooking pots are occupied.

The mixture of colours ended up looking quite interesting.  We put it on the fence post to dry overnight.

After our scrumptious dinner, I got out my drop spindle to spin up some of the fiber that we had left dry and white.

Evan learned to spin by candle light.   He did a really good job!  We took turns, and got quite a lot done that evening.

Stay tuned to see what all that lovely roving has turned into….

Island Alpaca

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

While on vacation this summer, Evan and I ended up taking the ferry from Falmouth Harbour to Martha’s Vineyard, where we spent the day walking around exploring, and navigating the bus routes to arrive at Island Alpaca.  If you are ever in the area, it’s worth a trip.

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I was really excited to see alpaca, and was eager to get my hands on some luscious spinning fiber.  Evan had never seen alpaca before, and couldn’t really understand why I was so excited, but he got pretty excited himself when he saw the cute animals frolicking in the fields.

They make whining and grunting noises, and one of them let our a real squack!  When they run, their thin long necks seem oddly misproportioned.  The first field we saw had a self guided tour of posters on the fence posts.  As we took our time reading all the information (good English practice for Evan), we noticed several of the young male alpacas with necks tangled, wrestling each other into the dirt, biting and spitting at each other.  Boys will be boys I guess!

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We followed the signs to the barn and saw more alpacas inside.  They were way too busy eating, or moved too quickly to photograph well in the dim light.

Next up was the lovely farm store with yarn and roving and knitted things of all shapes and sizes.  I think Evan got a kick out of seeing me totally hypnotized by the soft fiber.  I met Philippe who showed me where the roving was hiding.  He’s a spinner too, so we had a good time chatting about spinning things as I tried not to drool over the superfine jet black alpaca roving.  It was so gorgeous that I had to buy 8 oz worth, and probably should have gotten more when I had the chance.  I’ve started spinning it, and it spins like a dream!

Philippe and the girls

Through another doorway, and we were out with the female alpacas and the HUGE guard llama.  We could get close enough to pat them as they were eating.  They are the softest fluffiest creatures I’ve ever met.  Evan kept repeating a phrase from Despicable Me:  “It’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die!”.  I think that in this case, it is a valid statement.

Philippe and a cria

Philippe picked up one of the babies (young alpaca are called cria), and this one was even softer than the other older alpaca.

On our way out, we purchased alpaca fiber, and some white wool fiber to dye and spin back at our campsite (more on that later!).

Everywhere on the island is so pretty.  Here are some of the more beautiful views we saw that day.

Yale to Whales: Journey of a Travelling Sock

Monday, August 30th, 2010

First of all, I’d like to thank all of my guest blogging friends who have shared their knitting adventures over the past month while I was out having some adventures of my own.  This past month has been a whirlwind of road trip and camping adventures with my friend Evan.  For the full story check here.

Of course, I brought along a knitting project with me–a sock!

Pattern: My recipe for Basic Toe Up Socks (Ravelink)

Yarn: Regia self striping sock yarn of some variety

The first sock was knit while relaxing on the Nile, and chilling out in the desert with the nomads last summer.  I started this sock when I was staying at my cousin’s house in Connecticut on my first evening on the road.  We watched a movie, and I knit, trying to stay awake and figure out “who done it” before the film ended, or I fell asleep.  I had never driven more than 3 hours in a day before, to either Toronto or Montreal.  This day marked many firsts: first time to drive across the border, first time to drive almost 7 hours in a day, first time to meet my cousin’s baby girl who is now 17 months old.

The next day I continued on my journey, visiting Yale campus…

…and skirting the coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island so I could see the ocean before heading to Providence to meet my friend.

sunset at Watch Hill Rhode Island

We camped in Myles Standish state park, and then visited a near by cranberry bog to see the crop as it grew, then we followed some signs to find the Ocean Spray cranberry processing plant.

Ocean Spray, Carver MA.

The next stop was Cape Cod, where we visited some gorgeous beaches, played in the freezing cold surf, and went whale watching!  We saw so many humpback whales, but either because they moved so fast, or I was too excited, or the boat was lurching too much on the swells, I ended up with very few good pictures of whales.  It was such a spectacular day, even the naturalists on board were excited by what we saw.  This whale was much more cooperative, posing for a picture with my sock.  I had to wait a while for all the passing kids to get off of it.  For some reason everyone wants to ride whales (even Evan).

Dolphin Fleet Whale Watching, Provincetown MA

After our stay on the cape, we explored Boston museums and aquariums, then went to Six Flags New England, all of those places were far too exciting for knitting.  Things calmed down a bit when we returned to Providence to get Evan all settled in his residence room and get things like student cards and meal plans figured out.

Brown University, Providence RI

At the end of my journey, just as I was preparing to leave, Evan’s panda was willing to pose with my vacation socks.  The completed one was the 2009 version, and the one that is almost done is the 2010 version.  They match, up to a point.  For some reason, there was a knot in the ball of wool for the 2010 sock, so the stripes suddenly reverse their orientation.  Now I will know which sock is which!

Evan's Room, Providence RI

I have not yet finished this summer’s sock.  I think it is because I am not willing to admit that my vacation is over.   I’m going to wait until the last possible moment before I finish those final rows of ribbing, cast off and weave in all the ends.  There’s something symbolic about finishing this project for me, something that signifies the end of summer, the end of my adventures, and the beginning of a more structured and stressful routine for the next 10 months.  I need to take time to make this transition.

Here’s the question you have been asked each September of your youth…What did you do on your summer vacation?

Stay Tuned For Guest Bloggers!

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

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Since I’m not sure of internet availability while I’m camping, I’ve asked a few friends to help out with keeping the blog alive in my absence.  I’m thankful to my very crafty and creative friends who have stepped up, and maybe a little out of their comfort zones, to show their current projects, or talk about their creative process or anything else that strikes their fancy.

Stay tuned to see what they are all up to!

For those interested in reading some stories from the road, you can check out my road trip blog here.

My Bags Are Packed

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I’m headed off on Saturday for a little bit of a vacation on the east coast of the USA.  A friend and I are roadtripping and camping through Massachusetts, and spending some time on Cape Cod.  Relaxation on the beach, seeing the sights, whale watching, museum hopping–all sounds good to me!

image source

I’ve packed up all the necessary camping gear, and all that remains is to pack up my knitting.  My plan is to work away on sock #2 of the pair that I started last summer on my vacation in Egypt and Jordan (vacation pics here!).  Socks are a project that you can always keep with you for ferry/train rides, and these particular socks are very plain, so I’m sure I could knit them in the dark around the campfire too!  My travel companion has mentioned that he wants to try knitting….so who knows, maybe he’ll do a row or two as well.

One of the neat gadgets I picked up this year from was a set of sock needle protectors.

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They are two cardboard tubes blocked off on one end, open at the other, with a slot cut in them large enough to hold socks/mittens in progress.

Hopefully this will save me from impaling my fingers, poking a hole in my bag, losing needles, or accidentally dropping a needle’s worth of stitches and having them unravel in my bag all day long.

I have several friends that have scars to prove the power of an accidental sock needle impaling.  I don’t need to tempt fate!

Tonight, I cast on, and we’ll see how things go.  I will do my best to blog from the road if I can find the internet.

Road Trip

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Participating (rather poorly I might add) in the Tour De Fleece this year has made me realize that although I do really like spinning, I do NOT really enjoy preparing fleece for spinning.  I’ve been asking around, and found that there’s a fiber mill about 20 minutes from my house, so today I packed up my fleece to see if they could mill it into lovely roving for me to spin.

two bags full

I brought along Maggie, who knits, spins, throws pots, and is generally very crafty.  She’s the one that is making the ball gown from jeans.

The mill is located in the garage of the motel in Odessa Ontario.  We met Janet, who explained how to tell if a fleece is worth milling.  Take a lock of fleece.  Hold it with two hands, and pull lengthwise to stretch the fiber as far as it will go.  If you hear a crackle it’s a fragile fleece (not good).  If you hear a ping sound, then the fiber is strong, and it will make good roving.

Paul, Maggie and Janet with the spinning machine

Apparently you get what you pay for.  My fleeces were all donated to me from various places, and they all crackle when pulled.  Too bad!  It’s not worth it to have them milled, but I can still make something quite useful with them if I can put up with the slow and tedious process of carding.

Paul gave us a tour of the mill.  There’s a picker to get the locks of fleece open and fluffy, another machine to get rid of vegetable matter and guard hairs, a very large and complicated looking drum carder, a spinning machine and a plying machine.  It’s an amazing operation!

roving being spun onto bobbins

The store was next on the tour.  Such gorgeous merchandise, and all produced right there–yarns of all sorts and colours, rovings, woven scarves and blankets, knit socks.  I bought some superwash merino, and some “pandora’s box” (unknown fibers, mostly grey) roving.

the store

What’s best about this store is that you’re encouraged to touch and smell and really enjoy the fiber before you choose what to get.

Maggie with a soy silk moustache

We got talking with Janet about our fiber projects, and the topic of Maggie’s denim dress project was brought up.  This led to Random Freebie #1: 3 Pairs of jeans for Maggie’s ball gown!

Maggie with my purchased roving, and her free jeans

The next stop on our trip was to Wilton Pottery, just down the road.

We met Tim, who explained about his kiln and his process.

If you are in the area stop by to say hello, and have a look at the work that he and his wife Diane are doing.  She grows crystals in the glaze of her porcelain.

such beautiful crystals

We totally lucked into Random Freebie #2:  Zucchini!  I’ve frankly never seen a zucchini this big before in my life.  I’m not exactly sure why Wilton Pottery was giving them away, but it was a very nice treat.

The next stop on our way back to town was in Sydenham at a vegetable and antiques market.  There were lots of treasures to be found in this place, but I think I lucked out when I found sock blockers!

antiques/vegetable market

There’s something nice about taking a drive in the country on a lovely summer day.  You never really know what adventures you’ll run into.  I highly recommend it!

What cottage industries are in your neck of the woods?