Monthly Archives: August 2008

Quiet Eye Candy From Camp

I’ve missed Eye Candy Friday.

Let me share a little of my lake serenity from Family Camp vacation.

(By now, I need to be reminded too.)

White water lily (also known as fragrant water lily), Nymphaea odorata.

Second Shurd Lake, YMCA Camp Olson, Longville, Minnesota.

Q is for Quiet

One of the treasures of Family Camp vacations for me is the moments of Quiet.  Though much of camp is filled with fun and laughter, games and activities, it is also set in over a thousand acres of Northern Minnesota lake country.  YMCA Camp Olson is on the shore of Little Boy Lake, and has its own small chain of lakes contained within its property, surrounded by private trails and wilderness. 

I and my husband are both creatures who need some solitude every so often.  (His friends couldn’t believe he ever got married, being such a ‘lone wolf’, but that’s a different post!)  Between my occupation which deals with people all the time, and my busy school-age daughters, however, my alone time is usually limited to travelling for meetings (where, truth to tell, I get a bit lonely, since I want to share new sights with my family). 

So the moments I can sneak away in the North Woods replenish my soul.  Can you hear Quiet?  It certainly takes Quiet to hear the wind softly rustling the leaves, the tiny water sounds, the occasional scold of a squirrel or rustle of who-knows-what in the underbrush, even to hear the loon’s wail (at least my daughters kept missing the loons’ call at first, given their chattering!).  

I might be knitting, I might be hiking or canoeing, but the Quiet permeates my whole self until my pulse slows, my breathing deepens, my thoughts become Quieter as well.


This picture is from last year at camp, when every morning, I woke up an hour or more before my family, so would usually take my knitting and sit by the lake various places.  (One morning, however, instead of knitting, I and my father went on a pre-breakfast birding walk with the camp naturalist, as Quietly as possible, and we saw these little guys, baby bluebirds.)

This year, either I was more tired, or camp being a week later in August, and the sun thus coming up not as early, threw me off (or the habit of the girls leaving the curtains closed didn’t cause me to wake up).  Though I still woke up before my family, it was no hour early.  And both girls had friends along, so the cabin was usually full of giggles and shrieks and shenanigans (once they woke up!).  

So I stole my Quiet times in moments here and there, all the more precious.  Starting my Ravelympics projects by the lake before camp officially started, as you saw the other day.  After everyone had left the dining lodge for morning activities.  While waiting for a horseback ride.  Going to see the moon on the lake at night (I really wanted to take a kayak out by moonlight, but it probably would have been frowned upon solo, and I had no volunteers to accompany me). 

The last day, my husband and I took a canoe out on one of the small lakes, which we had all to ourself at the end of the morning; the sound of our paddles was the only thing that broke the Quiet.  (Well, the paddles, and my camera, my husband would tell you!  My camera was in Quiet mode, I’m telling you… and you’ll see those pictures soon.)  But it was really wonderful, being Quiet together, with no particular place to go or thing to do.

We all need Quiet time.

Q is for Quiet.

Color Me Gobsmacked!

Surprised, delighted, blown away!

When I returned from camp (that place of which you’ll see the evidence ONE of these days), there was an unexpected package waiting for me.  Remember the Forest Canopy shawl which suddenly discovered its destiny?

It went off as an ‘angel’ gift to Gigi,  a talented crocheter whose International Scarf Exchange 6 package seems to have gotten lost in customs.  She likes blues and jewel colors, and crochets gorgeous lace shawls, but in her questionnaire hinted that she’d love a knitted shawl if her spoiler were so inclined.  So she is now the professedly happy owner of Forest Canopy.

Completely out of the blue (har!), because it was NOT at all required, Gigi made me a crocheted lace shawl for my very own!  Look at this gorgeous work of art!

And a hopefully not too blurry closeup (I was taking pictures with the timer, and the camera was being refractory; it prefers hands on, evidently).

What both Gigi and I found both amusing and apropos is that the yarn she picked, gorgeous, soft Dream in Color Smooshy yarn in the Night Watch colorway, looks almost like the end result of the Socks That Rock yarn that I overdyed!

She also tucked in the pattern for the Amanda Hat, a great pattern (pdf link) by Gina House, sleepy eyes knitting, a friend of hers.  I had recently run into this pattern on Ravelry and loved it. But even better, she sent along — wait for it — enough mmmMalabrigo worsted to knit the Amanda hat, in our favorite colors!  (I couldn’t get a decent picture of it, but it’s scrumptious, and Gigi knew I’d love it.)  And some handmade fragrant soap, and some chocolate-covered sunflower seeds which my family didn’t let sit around too long.

What a treat!  And no one has ever made *me* a lace shawl before, and I am so surprised and delighted. (Delightedly surprised?  Surprisedly delighted?)  I wore it last week for A/C coverage, and it was perfect and elegant.

Thank you , Gigi!  You didn’t have to, but I’m so glad you did!

The Thrill of Victory, Etcetera, Etcetera

And the 2008 Summer Olympics, and thus Ravelympics, conclude!

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I have a confession to make, first.  I am an Olympics junkie.  Hence the blog silence (as well as the vacation/post-vacation work overload trifecta). 

I watch very little television, nor many current movies if it comes to that.  I (gasp) have never seen American Idol, nor Survivor, nor The Sopranos, nor Lost.  Probably haven’t seen a lot of other shows I don’t even know about.  (Yep, nothing to talk about at the proverbial water cooler.) 

But put the Olympics on, and I’m glued to the set!  My children & husband are starting to resign themselves to the fact that for two weeks every two years, they have to yield the TV to me.  Given that I let them watch pretty much whatever they want the other 102 weeks, I think it’s reasonable.  Too bad vacation and work got in the way this time for half of the Olympics.  Ah, well.

Even while at camp, I could participate in the Ravelympics at least (and of course, we had camp Olympics events of various sorts, too.)

So here are my personal Ravelympics results!

First, my Country Manor scarf.  The name is a play on words; this yarn was handspun from Twisted Fiber Art’s Festive Roving in the Netherfield colorway (a Jane Austen reference), and the spinner, Kirky (a fellow Twisted aficionado), named the yarn Country Manners (see her etsy shop here).  So I twisted the name a little. 

This scarf was inspired by Barbara Walker’s Seafoam stitch, which I made a shawl from in the past, and by the Morning Surf scarf, recently featured in Spin Out magazine.  Though I have the Morning Surf pattern, I had only glanced at it in passing (and didn’t care for the modification to stockinette between the drop-stitch rows when I had seen it in the magazine, because I like reversibility in a scarf), so I started totally from scratch in designing my own.  I also wanted the ends of the rows to be closed, especially in this chunkier yarn where there were fewer stitches, to give the scarf structure.  Lastly, I saw a reference somewhere on Ravelry to modifying the Seafoam stitch by using fewer wraps and thought I’d try it (it takes severe blocking to block the extra wrappage out, plus I wanted the handspun to go further).  Hey, I like it!  I may rewrite my Seafoam stitch shawl (Coulee Shawl in my Ravelry projects) with this in mind and try knitting it again, then publishing the pattern.

(Unblocked above, on our cabin clothesline, a little wonky.)  Because I was making a scarf; designing the scarf pattern, small though it is; and working with handspun; the scarf was eligible for more than one medal.  I proudly received these on the Ravelympics Podium:

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The other two projects entered in the Ravelympics were WIPs.  Nay, not just WIPs, but UFOs.  My father’s Oktoberfest socks were my main priority, and they accompanied me to camp many places.  The yarn was untangled and rewound, the modified pattern stitch recalled, steady progress was made, and the second sock was finished back at home, actually around one of Michael Phelps’ last races.  It was rather amusing, because it seemed like every third commercial was a beer commercial, and here I had my beer sock in my lap.

I’m not going to show it to you, because it’s slated for the upcoming late September birthday (never mind that it was due last birthday; I still want to present it ceremoniously!) and I don’t want to spoil the presentational effect.  But if you’re on Ravelry, here it is.

I thus was awarded a medal in WIP Wrestling!

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(If these had been new socks, the medal would have been in the Sockput, ha!)

However, I’m sorry to say that my third entrant did not cross the finish line.  I knew there was a good chance that this athlete might scratch.  She requires a lot of apparatus and a lot of training time. 

Swan Lake (symmetric variation) was up to here

(row 190 of 334 of this half) at the official end of Ravelympics.  (As you remember,

 this is what it will look like, though I knit a little further on this half too after the photo; this isn’t quite to row 334 yet….)

I am motivated to keep going and finish this!  Therefore, I knit some more yesterday until the televised closing ceremonies, by which time I had fnished the inverted “V” and am on the plain (as plain as it gets) section, with “Cat’s Paw” motifs in the center, and split “Wings of the Swan” motifs on the edges.  It goes a little faster from here.  Then, for the symmetrical variation (for us part-German types who just won’t wear a one-wing shawl), you join the two halves with a perpendicularly knit section.  Cool!

And the flame is extinguished….

A Month of Saturdays — and Knitting for Ravelympics 2008!

Back from Family Camp, where an awesome time was had by all (but sorting out and severely paring down the almost 1000 pictures to show you just how awesome, will take longer than the current state of laundry, work, and spare-time Olympics-viewing is currently allowing me!).

But I wanted to show you a brief knitting update as far as the Ravelympics Challenge I took on! Then I’ll soon be showing you the results of the challenge when the Olympics is over.  Ravelympics (Ravelry link) is a knitting/crocheting challenge in conjunction with the 2008 Summer Olympics. I took this as an opportunity to do some ‘WIPS Wrestling” — wrestling some put-aside Works-In-Progress into submission; as well as also designing and knitting a small design project I’d been mulling over.

Cast-on was allowed to happen at the start of the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing. That was, however, 7 am CST that Friday, the first day of my vacation, and although I was awake, I was busy caffeinating and doing some final packing for Camp, so I cast on for my new project slightly later in the day, as well as gathering together everything I needed for my wips/UFOs to take to camp with me.

Here are the projects the following day, at Camp, by the lake:

First: WIP Wrestling #1, last year’s Mystery Stole 3, Swan Lake, just where I left it off, about 40% done (I kept waffling about the length and whether to knit the wing, put it down for holiday present knitting, and never picked it up again). Here’s a better picture of it from last summer pinned out so you can see the pattern.


This is too pretty to allow to languish.  It mostly did so because it was for me (thus it goes to the back of the queue), and because of the aforementioned waffling and holiday knitting. (Actually, it was first displaced by my Wedding Pi shawl; I started Mystery Stole 3 as my first big lace project in order to have knit a lace shawl before I designed and knit the Wedding Pi shawl for my friend’s November wedding.  And then I didn’t finish MS3!  Slacker!  Well, I knit enough that I felt comfortable with the process, okay?  And I didn’t NEED to finish this, whereas I obviously had to get started on the Wedding Pi shawl so I could finish it in time!)

Second: WIP Wrestling #2, Manly version of Oktoberfest socks, a kit from the lovely and talented duo of the Tsock Tsarina (designer) and Jennifer (hand-dyer of the Flock Sock yarn, on excellent terms with the Yarn Fairy, and the source to buy the kit).  These socks were derailed last year when I sliced my left knuckle open to the tendon, which then had problems healing. I was working on these socks (sock #1, actually) at the time for my father’s birthday. However, I couldn’t knit well for quite a while after the bowl-attack-incident, then when I could, it was only with bigger needles, English style, and low tension. The reverse Irish knots in these require some tension to do, and it was a month or two before I could return to knitting in this style without pain or fear of splitting the cut open again. In the meantime — my husband, who is (no doubt laudably) more into cleaning than I am, had packed the kit away — in cardboard boxes with some yarn. Not only that — the sock and yarn were in one box, the directions in another. Eventually (very eventually), they were found and reunited — all except the creamy white yarn for the ‘foamy’ ribbing, which had been put elsewhere! That showed up very eventually too. Now to remember how Lisa had laid out her new, hot-off-the-press, galvanized by our email conversation “Manly Barleycorn” variation of the pattern. OK, found it in my old emails. But I (blasphemy!) modified her variation slightly! What was it I did, again? Plus, I changed the size of the pattern from large to medium width to fit my father’s foot better, so had to remember how that modified the directions. What you can’t see well (by design) in the picture above, is that after all its travails, the yarn cake of the second sock has now devolved into a demonstration of entropy (i.e. a tangled mess which had to be dealt with before any knitting with it could be done). My poor father’s birthday that I was planning these for was LAST September. My primary WIP Wrestling goal was to finish these before his upcoming birthday….

The third project is a new design; I’ll tell you more about it when I show you the finished picture, but it’s inspired by but is not a copy of the Morning Surf scarf; it’s actually more directly based on a variation of Barbara Walker’s Seafoam stitch, and involves handspun from fiber hand-dyed by my favorite dyer (no, I didn’t spin it); so this is entered in the Designer Dash, the Handspun Heptathlon, and the Scarf — Something, I can’t recall right now!

SO: At the conclusion of the Olympics, you will see if I achieved my lofty goals!  (Umm; really lofty!  At least as far as lace!)

Onto (practically) a month of Saturdays:

This morning’s Saturday Sky with moon.

Below, the Saturday Sky two weeks ago, right before the start of Family Camp. Taken as I sat and knit by the shores of Little Boy Lake, Minnesota, as above, on a gorgeous day:

(no color enhancement applied!)

and a view looking out over Viking Point as I knit later that same afternoon:

Last, the last day of Family Camp, another gorgeous day as we got on the road:

Definitely an archetypal North Woods picture!

I have so much to tell, and so little time to write — in fact, work calls right now. See you after the Olympics (and Ravelympics) end!

Vacation, all I ever wanted

Blog Break — off to Camp!

Here’s a flower to look at while I’m gone.

I’ll be knitting on my Ravelympics projects, and doing lots of other fun things too.

See you when I get back!

P is for Portable

My brand spanking new laptop (I’ve never had one). Portable computing!

My Portable project – to think I wasn’t a sock knitter until a couple years ago. The Perfect on-the-go knitting. (Notice one Spring Forward sock done — pretty much all while being ‘Ported’.)

My Portable pouch to pack my Portable project in — the Go-Knit Pouch from knowknits.  Love this one.

Portability is a must for a busy working mom, who occasionally travels. I used to borrow my husband’s laptop sometimes, on the road. I couldn’t ever function without my Portable knitting!

P is for Portable.