Monday

[knitting] Afghan Square #9

Finished and blocked another square for the Aran Afghan:

Afghan Square

Time to start another...




Friday

[spinning] Teal Superwash Merino

The Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival was a couple weekends ago. The fairgrounds are close to where I live, so I can go over easily. I went on Sunday (better weather of the two days) only for a couple hours- just to check out the animals and vendors. I bought a few things- some fiber to spin, some sock yarn. And a little woven rug for my cell phone.

It's been a while since I've spun any yarn but I wanted to work up some fiber from my stash to justify buying more at the festival. "Look, I've spun 4 oz. That's why I can buy 16 more oz of fiber. See, it all works out."

I pulled out a 4oz bump of superwash merino from my stash (purchased at the VT Sheep and Wool Festival last year, from the Fiber Stash booth). It spun up easily into a squishy 2-ply worsted weight.

teal handspun

teal handspun

I've just finished spinning another 4oz into lace-weight singles that I want to Navajo-ply into sock yarn. It took me weeks to spin evenly and thinly, but I can stop whenever I feel like and pick it up again the next day. When I sit down to ply, I'm going to have to do it all at once which I know will take hours. HOURS. Good thing I just started Dan Carlin's Hardcore History "Blueprint for Armageddon" series of podcasts. That's a good 15 hours of WWI history to listen to.

Thursday

[crafts] Clover PomPom Maker

I've tried a few different pompom-making tools but my favorite are the Clover pompom makers. They are easy to use and make nice, fluffy pompoms. For the hats yesterday, I made a pompom for each.

I didn't have that much leftever yarn from knitting the rainbow-colored hat, but was able to fill up either side of the tool:

Clover small pompom maker

Push the curved arms back together:

Clover small pompom maker

Get to cutting:

Clover small pompom maker

Tie a piece of yarn around the middle, cinch, pull apart either side of the pompom maker and poof:

Clover small pompom maker

I like the different sections of color from the striping yarn. I'm tempted to try some other pompom crafts... like hedgehogs, or Adventures in PomPom Land (that bird's pompom head is so stupidly round and perfect), or it's the right time of year for a PomPom o' Lantern, or whatever this thing is, or maybe animals. So many options. I should use all my leftover yarn for pompoms.

Wednesday

[knitting] Strelisias

I fell in love with a hat on Ravelry. The pattern is called Strelisia and is in Russian only. But there was a chart and I thought I could figure things out. After asking a couple questions in one of the Russian groups in the forums, I gave it a go:

grey hat

The hat has interesting texture and movement from the combination of purled sections and knit sections that slant this way or that way. As written, pattern calls for two colors of yarn- which I think helps accentuate the 'swirliness' of the design. The yarn I used for this was self-striping sock yarn but the tonal colorway was just too subtle. 

Also, this hat is crazy small. I used sock yarn and US 2 needles and I think I'm going to have to give this to Dollar's 6-year-old niece.

I tried again, this time with a rainbow colorway of Revel by Plymouth Yarn and I worked the body on US 4 needles:

rainbow hat

Yeah... it's brighter and fits better... And I was able to knit the entire hat with one 50gr ball but... I'm not in love-love. I would like to revisit the pattern again someday- knit even looser with a longer brim and yarn that has even color repetitions. I think once I get it just the way I want it, it could be one of my most favorite hats.

And in case you want to make one, there is an English version of this pattern called Madreselva. When I went asking for help and translations in the Russian group, I didn't check the designers other patterns first. (Oops.) Had I seen this, I would have simply adapted this pattern for fingering weight yarn rather than the DK weight it's written for.

Tuesday

[knitting] Rockies Socks

For the Canadian Rockies trip, I brought enough yarn to knit three pairs of socks. In my head, I'm a much faster knitter than I actually am. I ended up knitting one pair of socks:

rockies sockies


Pattern: Retro Rib Socks from Favorite Socks

Yarn: Araucania Itata Multi

Needles: US 2

Notes: This is a rather busy colored yarn and I was a little worried that the pattern would be lost- but I think it worked out.

rockies sockies

I definitely felt a little Second Sock Syndrome when I finished closing the toe of the first and thought, "Oh man, now I have to make another one?" I started a new pair and I'm doing them in tandem on two sets of US 2 needles- so I'll finish the pair at the same time.

Friday

[misc] Jack old Lantern

Wow. After one week, my Jack o' Lantern has aged from a terrifying, nightmare-inducing demonic face to:

Pumpkin didn't even last a week. Now it just looks like a crazy old toothless man covered in flies and hornets.

What the actual F? Now it just looks like some toothless old man who, at worst, will try to gum you to death. I can hear a wheezy, high pitched laughing in my head followed by a chronic cough. So not scary anymore- apart from the gross flies and hornets hanging around on it.

I'm going to have to pitch it over the bank this weekend. I guess I shouldn't be surprised- I literally placed large piece of cut vegetable on my deck and got mad when it rotted in a week's time. I've read a few things online to help preserve the pumpkin- spritzing the finished piece inside and out with a bleach/water mix and then slathering all the cut surfaces with petroleum jelly to seal/protect but... ugh, it sounds like so much extra work. 


Wednesday

[cooking] Apple Pie Biscuits

The 2nd Baking Bootcamp challenge was posted by Joy the Baker. This recipe features King Arthur Flour's Self-rising flour.

Apple pie biscuits


They're simply biscuits with slightly-cooked apples on the inside but they're not overly sweet, which is nice. I used one McIntosh apple that I picked at Poverty Lane a couple weeks ago. 

This recipe makes about a dozen. I ate one, put the rest into Tupperware, woke up the next morning and there were only four left. You might want to hide them from any late-night snackers you have in your house if you want them to last more than one day. Or, give in and just make more.

Tuesday

[misc] Jack o' Lantern

Spent Friday evening on the deck, whittling a pumpkin. Blades were slashing, bits of pumpkin went flying (a la Edward Scissorhands). I ended up with:

My jack o'lantern is scary in daylight and freaking terrifying at night.

Uh, that's pretty scary. I have Dollar go out at night to blow out the candle when we go to bed because it's too creepy for me. I hope it lasts until the end of the month.

Friday

[trave] Rockies Heli Tour

The last adventure before ending in Calgary and winding down for the trip home was a 12 minute helicopter tour. It was very short but each helicopter can only hold 4 or 6 people and we had a bus load of people to get through.

As we were heading toward one of the helicopters, my group was asked "Who wants to ride co-pilot?" I put my hand up so fast my arm almost flew off. I jumped in next to the pilot and we took off.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Below is the Bow River (I think) where HBO had just been filming a Lewis and Clark miniseries.

Untitled

Untitled

This is the helicopter we rode in:

Untitled

It was pretty awesome. Would definitely do it again.

We continued on to our hotel in Calgary. The city was big and a lot more urban than I thought it would be. We flew out the next day, going through US customs at Toronto- which was a totally convoluted system/set-up. The flights were easy. Air Canada was so much nice than our United flights out. Got home late on Sat night / Sun morning. It was a long trip but we saw and experienced so much. And I got a decent amount of sock knitting done, too.

I'll finally have some knitting and craft stuff to show next week!

Thursday

[travel] Lake Louise to Banff (or, There and Back Again)

After staying in Banff for a night and heading to Lake Louise for the next night, we woke up and headed back to Banff. I'm not sure who planned this tour but thank goodness these two places aren't far apart.

We stopped at Bow Falls, where two ladies have gone over: Marilyn Monroe (in River of No Return) and Lassie. 

Untitled

A group was heading out for some river rafting:

Untitled

We went up the Banff Gondola:

Untitled

This was awesome. Amazing sights on the way up:

Untitled

Views from the summit we're too shabby either:

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

It was freezing at the top- there was even snow left from a storm the previous week:

Untitled

These bighorned sheep were hanging around the summit building:

Untitled

This young one was so cute. Those eyes!

image

This guy ponders the Do No Feed the Bighorned Sheep sign:

image


Wednesday

[travel] Banff to Lake Louise

After arriving to the hotel too late and leaving too early, we headed from Banff to Lake Louise.

First we stopped at Emerald Lake:

Untitled

And then a natural rock bridge:

Untitled

We checked into the Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise in the afternoon, pretty much the only place to stay at the lake. The hotel was huge with so many shops and at least five restaurants.

Untitled

Lake Louise was pristine. We walked along the edge:

Untitled

Untitled

We came back and did some souvenir shopping inside the hotel. There was a Qiviuk shop:

Hotel has a Qiviuk store. Lolololz all day long.

I didn't buy anything here (because OMG $$$$) but they did have balls of yarn for knitting/crochet. I'm not sure if the balls had been pet too many times by too many people but they felt horrendous. Like the worst fuzzy acrylic ever. In hindsight, I would question the content of the yarn they felt so bad.

I love qiviut. I visited a musk ox farm in Palmer, AK some years ago and have purchased qiviut yarn from the University of Alaska Large Animal Research Station, which I think is a great resource for the yarn/fiber (the other being Ooomingmak) since the money helps fund education and programs. 

Monday

[travel] Kamloops to Banff

Well, last week a cold that had been going around caught up to me and I spent two days in bed. I am very thankful to have not gotten sick during the Canada trip.

Our 2nd day on the train was also the last day. You may think 2 days on a train isn't that long but they were looooong days. The train car was roomy, you could get up whenever you wanted and go out to the viewing platform but still. It was a long day when we rolled into Banff.

From Kamloops, we left the dry hills and finally reached the Rockies in the late afternoon.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

It was dark by the time we rolled into the Banff station, after a stop at Lake Louise to unload several passengers. We all fell into bed exhausted.

Tuesday

[travel] Vancouver to Kamloops

On Tuesday we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer for the first day of travel. It was an extra-special journey called the Train of Heroes with a special welcome ceremony for organ donors and recipients. The train was longer than normal- two engines and more than 20 cars. The train was going to split into two shorter lengths at Kamloops overnight, with half the group going up to Jasper and the other half (our half) going on to Banff the next day.

Our car was awesome- so spacious and since the car wasn't full, my mom, sister and I were able to have a whole row each. We had three hosts in our car that kept us fed, watered and informed on each area we went through.

Leaving Vancouver, the Frasier Valley was very fertile and great for agriculture:

Untitled

So, all those white UFOs in some of my pictures are a reflection of the overhead lights inside the train car. There was no way to really avoid them when taking pictures inside the car. There was an opening between the cars when you could go for better pictures.

Heading east-north-east through the Cascade Range:

Untitled

Untitled

A view of the inside of our car:

Untitled

As we approached Kamloops, the terrain started to get a bit drier. We would often see other freight trains on the other side of rivers or we'd have to pull over and wait for other trains that used the same tracks as us to pass by. It's kind of scary to think of two trains on the same track, heading straight for one another (especially if you're riding inside one of those trains) but scheduling/timing seemed to work out well. I think the longest we had to wait, completely stopped, was 30 - 40 minutes.

Untitled

Untitled

Looking back on our looooooong train:

Untitled

We arrived at Kamloops Lake as the sun was starting to set:

Untitled

It was a long day on the train but enjoyable and the time passed quickly.