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.

In which it is revealed that P is not for Polk County, although it certainly could have been


have a way cool Polk County water bottle, given to me by a high mucky-muck in Polk County herself!

With an excellent built-in handle, which you can’t see in this photo, but which is great for those of us who don’t have ham hands big enough to grab some of those water bottles you see. I know how jealous you are. You should be.

Worth driving 3 1/2 hours for all by itself, wouldn’t you say?

Actually, as you heard, my husband and I were stealing some time together — but we ended up spending some of it ‘alone together’ with kmkat and her husband!

The Kat(tm) and I spent part of the afternoon knitting at the Osceola Coffee Connection, which has a delightful deck (no pictures from that afternoon before some rain drove us inside, but here it is the next day from outside).

(That’s OUR umbrella you can see there! Well, it was until it failed to keep off all the rain, not really being designed for that sort of thing.) Her husband wasn’t there yet from work, and when my husband’s eyes glazed over at a bit of knitting esoterica, we sent him off to Wal-Mart and continued with our knitting and chatting. Despite conversation-induced occasional knitting lapses, progress was made on my Spring Forward Socks, and it seemed on the Summer Raglan as well (much further along than shown on the dress form who stuffs; you’ll have to nag Ms. Kat for progress photos!). And I was furthermore gifted with local llama yarn, MMMMM! So soft and pettable. It makes me need to sing the Llama Song. (If you do not know the Llama Song, you need to click that link. You may curse me later. But it is still necessary.)

But then we all convened for a lovely dinner, at which point the Y-chromosomes bonded over Chicago neighborhood stories (they grew up not far from each other, a few years apart, but separated more so by the bussing that my husband was subject to in the 60s, leading to different schools).

Sadly, Osceola is a reasonably fur piece from where The Kat(tm) and spouse live, so they needed to depart near dusk and we headed to our B&B, the St. Croix River Inn.

It overlooks — what else — the St. Croix River, where in the morning, I sat and stitch by stitch, double yarnover by slip-slip-knit, tinked my pink shawl.

And that was even before coffee. Now, I’d hoped to just have to tink two rows. Two reverse rows got rid of the scary loops of lace spaghetti I had trapped on a stitch holder, which I had created in my ill-advised attempt to fix a faggoting mistake. But I realized the mistake would still be there — it was related to some very odd weirdness from the row before, which I couldn’t sort out. So two more rows will be required to reverse the madness completely. Well, I’ve come this far.

So I had some coffee and an excellent breakfast

and tinked some more. (Still not quite there yet, as of this writing.)

Then, after checkout, I had to check out myself – the local yarn shop, Mrs. I’s Yarn Parlor.

I was unprepared. The population of Osceola is 2500. Granted, that’s just the town, not the outlying areas, nor the seasonal population.

So picture me, quite surprised, in a yarn shop which has yarn I’ve never seen in person yet, and some delicious yarn I’ve never heard of!

Also, the owner is a strong advocate of local yarn, so I came back with some Blackberry Hills yarn which is a llama/wool/mohair blend. The animals are all raised by a local woman; she handspins the blended yarn; and then hand-dyes it. Hard to be more local than that! And it’s so cool! I also bought another farm’s Wisconsin alpaca, naturally chocolate brown and so soft. I love local yarn!

But I got my first sight in person of nettle yarn (bought some to make market bags for Christmas presents, though I suspect it will be hard on the hands; it should make great bags), and I found some gorgeous wool from a Michigan mill, Stonehedge Fiber Mill; aran weight, so soft, with some heathered shades, worsted spun. Like Cascade 200, but softer. Apparently, the mill owner has done commercial fiber milling for some time but not long ago developed her own yarn. Today, a friend to whom I showed it, heard it featured on Lime & Violet’s podcast! Wild. I love it. I bought several shades because it cries out for colorwork or something similar.

There was even more I’d never seen in person, and a couple yarn brands I’d never heard of, but I’ll stop now (no pictures, I got home at dusk today — penance for a day’s vacation from work!) But if you happen to be in the Stillwater (Minnesota)/St. Croix Falls/ Interstate Park/ Taylors Falls area, take the short drive to Osceola and check out this LYS — well worth the drive (relocating upstairs to a bit bigger space as of September 1, 2008, also).

Back on the road, more sock and tinking time; then back to reality. Dang. I want to play with yarn and meet up with fellow knitbloggers as fun & nice as kmkat every weekend!

Pre-Vacation Vacation

So, I need to rest up before Family Camp.

(Actually, I’m mostly taking advantage of being temporarily without children!) My husband and I usually celebrate our May anniversary by going away for a night or two to an area bed and breakfast (usually a different one every time). It didn’t happen earlier this this year because I had to work every weekend around then, including Memorial Day weekend. Thus, we’ll just celebrate a bit late this year!

I took a day off tomorrow, and today we’re driving Up North a few hours to the lovely St. Croix River Inn. This is a place we’ve stayed a few times, actually, over the 25 + years we’ve been together; more often when we lived in the Twin Cities. So it will be nostalgic. It’s really beautiful; and breakfast is amazing, too.

AND — double bonus — upon realizing that Osceola was in Polk County, Wisconsin, and upon that triggering a recollection about who was a newly elected governing official of said Polk County, I fired off an email; with the result that a knitblogger meet-up is in the works for later today with kmkat! W00t! and Woo-hoo! Having met her IRL before, and having lived with my husband all these years, I’m looking forward to them meeting (I promised him we wouldn’t just talk about knitting — no fear!)

I ran across the Polk County info in some random Google search. But, above and beyond this allowing us a rendezvous, I was glad to get the county info. The last time we stayed at the St. Croix RIver Inn, there was a tornado somewhere in the vicinity. We could see black and green clouds (no funnel, granted) from the huge picture window in our room (picture THAT imploding into the room), and turned on the radio; well, the tornado warning information is by county, and we had NO clue what county we were in! There is no innkeeper on premises in this particular inn. So we went into the hallway of the lower level of the inn for some time, and hoped for the best.

I already know what knitting I’m taking — now to throw some clothes together. Priorities, after all.

Here’s yesterday’s Saturday Sky with bonus bird (much more photogenic than today’s gray sky, which just started sprinkling as I typed this; ah well, perhaps we’ll just have to plan on more indoor-type activities….)

And last week’s Saturday Sky, which never got shared with you as such (I guess I did show you a close-up of the sunset bee on echinacea) .

And, lastly, how about a flower picture, since I didn’t really give you my usual Flower Eye Candy Friday?

Phlox in yesterday’s early morning sun.

See you when I return, hopefully with knitting progress to report!

O is for Camp Olson

Very timely that O came up right now in the ABC-Along schedule.

Camp Olson is the YMCA camp in Northern Minnesota which I went to every year I could as a camper, and where I also was a CIT (Counselor-in-Training). Now my kids are old enough to be campers, and we have gone to Family Camp for the last several years as well, which has been awesome. It’s a special place for us — beautiful, with its thousands of acres enclosing near-wilderness, and with people who make being at camp the unforgettable experience that it always is. It’s named Olson after the farmer who donated thousands of acres of land to make a camp in the early 1950s, so that kids could experience Northern Minnesota outdoors.

It’s hard to pick out one picture of Camp Olson to show you. It takes a gallery. So I cheated again and made a collage, because camp is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

(If you have high-speed internet, here’s the collage bigger amd much more clear. I’m the photographer for all but one picture, but you can find me tucked away in one of them!) This shows most of our favorite activities, except I seem to have neglected photos of the rifle range (I always have to go test my skills and get my bullseye) and archery, as well as the swimming beach & sauna….

Why do I mention that O is so timely?

The daughters just went off to regular “camper camp” at Camp Olson yesterday. (Actually starts tomorrow, but the Preteen’s friend’s mother drove them to the Twin Cities yesterday to shorten the bus ride and have city fun before camp fun.)

And we go to Family Camp the following week!

I am so looking forward to this, our family vacation. It’s the fourth year we’ve gone together. My husband was extremely dubious to begin with, but is now a convert, due to the indescribable and wonderful nature of the place and the people. It’s a week out of time for us, and we all have a wonderful time. We’ll miss my parents this year, however, who have gone with us in prior years; my mother’s foot is acting up (still or again), and walking is unavoidable at camp, where both meals and the bathroom are a short walk away.

If you’d like to see more (for the hard core), the below links are posts & pictures from last year. Or just click on those that interest you.

Eye Candy Friday Courtesy of Camp

Fauna of Camp

What We Did At Camp

Eye Candy Friday (from Camp again)

Flora of Camp

Final Glimpses of Camp


Just after the amazing fun and friendship and family time of Camp Olson ended last year, we were all brought up terribly short. Please, because I need to remind myself of what I wrote in this post every so often, and I want to tell you again, too — even if you were a reader last year — please click on this last link and read the short post.

In the Midst of Life

Puts a different perspective on the fact that The Preteen went out the door on the heels of a fight about whether she was going to take her hair straightener and her iPod (guess the outcome of those discussions).

I hope you all have the chance to experience your own version of Camp Olson at some point. (Or if you’re looking for a great kid or family camp in the Midwest, follow that link above! No need to be a Y member!)

O is for Camp Olson.