Category Archives: Travel

It’s Devonderful…

OK, OK, terrible pun.  (Terrible.)  But Devon was wonderful!  Let me take you there….

I left you at Knit Nation Bingo. (Which, by the way, raised money for Refuge, a UK domestic violence charity.)  The next day was still Knit Nation, but I was less busy, having been wait-listed for a morning class that did not open up.  This was my day to visit the marketplace in a more leisurely fashion and carefully select a few fibery souvenirs, to sit and knit a bit, to have tea:

try on knitted things at Ysolda’s “Little Red in the City” booth

(the RockStar models Vivian, (Ravelry link) published in Twist Collective Winter ’08)

watched Carole winding laceweight (winding that was a bargain for the buyer at 1£, I’d say)

and ran through the marketplace another time.

I did NOT get these earrings at The Bothered Owl’s stall, though I was very tempted, but I did get a superb bag, which was one of the bags I showed you earlier this week, with a map of London on it (perfect size for socks, and so well made!).

After some more London frolics in the rain, which I will catch you up on later, we packed our suitcases that night, and left early in the morning, dragging suitcases and all on the Tube to Paddington station, and thence on a train  through the English countryside.

A pleasant  two plus hours later, watching the rain and wet sheep go by, we were in Exeter St. David’s, in Devon.

Very close now to our destination!

A change of train to a lovely and well-known train, the Riviera line, and so farewell to Exeter

(Yep, still raining) and hello to the SEA!

We were right on top of the water.

So lovely, even in the rain.

These meres, or what have you, reminded me very much of scenes from ‘Clouds of Witness’ (Lord Peter Wimsey), though that is set in Yorkshire, or perhaps “Hound of the Baskervilles”… I could easily imagine being deceived by the greenery.

Very soon, we were in Teignmouth, and my friends Esther and Sally were there to meet us, and help with luggage! (Hooray!)

Off to eat at the ‘posh’ fish and chips shop on The Street With No Name

and the BEST fish ever.

(The RockStar and Sally.  Very happy!)

After a little walking around before and after (it had stopped raining),

we proceeded to our afternoon destination, Seashore Ceramics Pottery Painting Studio, the shop of my friend Esther and her husband.  SO COOL!

Oh, my, we had so much fun!  There was a huge selection of things to paint (rather hard to decide).

But the RockStar painted a colorful dinosaur and a bowl; Sally an adorable little Welsh dragon; and I painted a banal yet satisfying cupcake (it opens up to be able to store trinkets) and an artsy vaguely Oriental vase.

DSC04140

(Totally stealing Esther’s photo of the fresh-out-of-the-kiln pieces.)

Again:  SO MUCH FUN!

After Sally headed back to her home a ways away (she had driven down just to meet us, so awesome), we went home with Esther & her husband (who is especially awesome, as she invited us into her house to stay the night.  The generosity of knitters astounds me).  After a delicious mac & cheese & nom dinner, their dogs hopped into the car

as, despite the recurrent rain, Esther knew I wanted to see THE MOOR.

(By the way, this was arrived at by rocketing down one-lane roads surrounded by high hedgerows.  Eep!)

A bit of a climb, and:

oh, my.

(Spot the dog.)

RockStar, Queen of the Tor.

(Spot the dog.)

(Dogs for scale.  Yep. Right.)

It was amazing.

And there were moor ponies, and moor sheep, and everything. Including slightly deluded scramblers leaping about on the wet tor.

After a last good-bye to the tors

and a last stick thrown for the dogs

we headed home, via the same narrow hedgy roads (a little unnerving from the perspective of the back seat, but all was well)

to our guest bedroom with the lovely view

where the RockStar actually was tired and wanted to go to bed when I did (rare, at her age).  (I have a sleeping teen picture from this night, but she would kill me if I posted it, so you will just have to imagine.)

Then, in the morning, up the hills and to downtown Bovey to start our trek back to London (and the next day, back home to the United States).

Whew! Still with me?

My daughter (and I) totally want to go back to Devon.  It was gorgeous, and we had such a good time, especially thanks to my friends, to whom I am eternally grateful.

Besides, I never had Devon clotted cream.

I definitely have to go back!

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My Trip In Bags

Once before, I showed you My Trip In T-Shirts.

While I’m preparing my Devon post (hint: lots of photos), here’s a quick synopsis of my trip to England (except I have no bags from Devon!  Silly me.)

(Click to embiggen for detail if desired.) You’ve already heard about Knit Nation and Bingo (center front and center back).  More info to come!

Edited to add:

Oops, forgot a couple!  I love the Tate bag…

OK, the second one is plastic, but it’s very cool!

Far Away Eye Candy Friday

Part of the recent Blog Silence may be explained by the fact that this photo of mine, from 4 days ago, was taken 3898 miles (6273 km) from my house.  (Wow.  Did not realize that until I just looked it up.)

I have no idea what the above are, though I did know these below:

Heather.  (Rather wet.)

On a moor in South Devon, England.

More (moor?) to come…

Of Hail, Snow, Flood, and Lethal Creatures

Doomy doom doom….

Or perhaps not as bad as it sounds.  Wisconsin weather, with a bit of knitting and travel thrown in!

I’ve been mentally working on Sock Camp posts, but at the same time physically fighting off a nasty respiratory virus, which has caused all my energy to go to trying to turn my lungs inside out.  Lots of medicine and time later, I am definitely on the mend, so take up laptop to try to begin to chronicle.  But first, since my last post, lots has happened here!

I had mentioned that storms were predicted soon in my last post, and indeed, the girls got to hear tornado sirens and head into the basement, for just about the first time that they remember doing so (the RockStar does have vague memories of her toddler tornado warning trip to the basement).  One advantage of a laptop and smartphone: one can keep track of the National Weather Service’s updates on what’s going on, as the winds whip up and the lightning crashes and the hail rattles down.

Ah, the hail.

The hailstone going in the freezer

Have a hailstone (or two, or five)

Our garage is a storage area, and my (new) car was thus parked outside, so I winced in the basement as I heard that hail crashing and bouncing and pictured my car in its sights. Amazingly, it’s almost impossible to see the couple areas where the body is ever so slightly rippled. Everything else except my daffodils was fine. I certainly know people who didn’t fare as well, with broken house windows and damaged siding. But no tornado activity was noted in the area (though one had been apparently spotted to our southeast). Thus the area lives up to its reputation and the legendary Native American saying, that no tornado will hit where three rivers meet….

The weather continued bad, but not that bad, through the rest of the week, and I certainly felt bad. Then yesterday, as I started to feel as though I was going to make it, I woke up to this Saturday Sky:

which had already dumped this:

The robins were not amused, let me tell you.

unhappy robin

After I got over my own disgruntlement and worked yesterday, I stopped down by the Mississippi River, which is cresting well into flood stage right about now. Though the snow melted later yesterday, the weather continued blustery, with a cold north wind hurrying the flood waters along.

No viewing the river from THAT viewing platform today.

These rubberneckers were also checking the flood out.

(To give you an idea of the river’s rise, here they also are in happier times two years ago. The brick walkway goes perhaps four or five feet below the river watchers, and the river is some feet below the edge of the walkway.)

waving at sunset

In this picture, you can see the ramp down to the walkway….or part of it, anyway.

Another comparison:

a view downriver a month ago, when the river was already rather high.

and the same view yesterday, with the same trees.

(Fortunately, our cold spring has caused the water level to not be nearly as high as it could have been, thus flooding has been manageable. Also, because my city has preserved the flood plains (they are primarily parks) and some wetlands to soak up the floodwaters, it tends to do better during floods than other communities on the river. Thankfully.)

All of this snow and hail and flood made me remember my time in the Pacific Northwest with fondness….even if it was typical spring weather there (cloudy, cool, on and off rain), or perhaps even more rain than typical. At least there was no snow, or hail, or flooding….

There were lethal creatures, granted. But that was kind of my own fault.

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You see, this year’s Sock Camp was called “Camp Jabberwonky”, with an Alice in Wonderland theme. There is always homework; and this year’s was to knit a Jabberwonky. Not a Jabberwocky, mind you, but a Jabberwonky. Details here.

After seeing an old photo of my half-stuffed mermaid (homework from two years ago): I had an idea. I would knit a headless Jabberwonky, after the victorious knitter has beheaded it! Complete with gore….

This required dyeing wool top for the gore (I had some that had proved not so good for spinning, due to still having suint — sheep sweat — in it). It seemed to turn out well!

Simultaneously, I cast on with some Socks that Rock and knit a somewhat fearsome creature (with a picot-edge neck). And was, of course, still working on it when I arrived in Seattle the day before Sock Camp started, to visit my friend Astrid and her husband Greg. In between Astrid’s taking me to see the Nick Cave exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, and an excellent lunch and equally excellent dinner, I knit away. And talked. Astrid being a knitter (and dyer) totally understood and kept me company by knitting herself as we talked; her husband is rather used to it, and accepted Jabberwonk-knitting unflappably! Also, Astrid had some awesome ideas for finishing strategies, and invaluably, had SUPPLIES! (Florists’ wire works better than pipe cleaners. Just FYI.)

On our ferry trip over to Bainbridge island the next day, the last bit of stuffing was stuffed, and my Jabberwonky was complete.

I can’t really say that Jabberwonky enjoyed the sights as we crossed Puget Sound to Bainbridge, since he’s headless and presumably can’t see; but I have to think he enjoyed the fresh air! Or something.

Saturday Skies from Three Coasts

Three Saturdays, three coasts.

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Two weeks ago, deep in the Southeast, not terribly far inland, anyway (close enough for this midwestern girl):

I was in Atlanta.

It was a stormy Saturday night

but during the entire meeting that I was attending preceding that weekend, the weather had been gorgeous: 60s and sunny. The southerners thought it was rather cool.  Those of us attending the meeting from northern climes spent every break and every lunch out in the hotel courtyard, enjoying the sun and the flowers.

I didn’t have much extra time, as the meeting that I was at took up essentially all daylight hours, but the short walk from my hotel to the meeting hotel took me past these sky-glass towers

which made it clear that hurricanes generally did not get this far inland, and also spectacularly reflected the lightning above when the thunderstorms happened on the last two days of my Atlanta stay.

Because the bad weather rolled in just as the meeting ended, I didn’t get to take advantage of my six hours or so of free time at the end of the meeting; I had thought about visiting the Atlanta History Center or the Aquarium.  Next time!

Just seeing spring was oh, so therapeutic.

Plus knitting outside.

(This is my Citron…. ‘crazy lace’ variation.  I haven’t really told you about that, have I, being blog-neglectful?  So, it’s a Citron from Knitty, but for the ‘crazy lace’, you throw in small lace patterns of your choice in the stockinette bands between the ruching.  I’m also further modifying by increasing with a yarnover at the outer edges on every right side row to make it more than a half-circle shape, and to echo the laciness of the lace portions.  Last, I have a lot of yardage of the lovely yarn: Arial, by Twisted Fiber Art, in the “Haunting” colorway.  Thus, this will be a lot bigger shawl than the original shawlette size!  I’m knitting on it on and off….)

I then came home for two busy, tiring, and chilly days, then packed up to go to the Pacific Northwest, for a day pre-camp with the lovely Astrid, and thence to Sock Camp.  I have a lot more to tell you about that, but here’s my Saturday Sky from Camp (Port Ludlow, Washington).  (Hence the second coast: East Coast to West Coast in 72 hours!)  The only sun we saw all week was for about an hour, that Saturday morning.

Then it clouded up.  This photo is from the day before, but believe me, it looked pretty much the same for the entire week of Sock Camp.

Of course there was lots of knitting (and other hijinks) at Sock Camp, but again, definitely for another post!

The third coast?

Why, the West Coast of Wisconsin, where I live, of course!  (Seriously, some marketing person dubbed us this at some point.  I do live on the Mississippi River, which is the western border of much of the state….).

Yesterday on said coast:

Grey sky.  But crocuses!!!

(Then thunderstorms overnight.  Then a brief glorious bout of sun this morning with unnatural warmth.  Which of course means even more severe weather predicted for this afternoon….hail, damaging winds, possible tornadoes.  Which will further increase the Mississippi flooding (not severe to date, fortunately).  Springtime in the Midwest!)

Ah, well, at least the snow is gone.

Four Shawls and Two Socks

It’s a gorgeous weekend here, at least for early November (we could have had snow by now), and I may need to go out for a walk in a bit.  Today looks like yesterday did

maybe a little cloudier, though warmer.

But I thought I’d first show you that I have been knitting, during my blog quietness (this being due mostly to work, and a bit of travel).

This isn’t everything by any means, of course!

But: currently I am on a shawl kick, having begun the lovely 22 Leaves Shawlette (Ravelry link) for an acquaintance who recently lost her mother:

(who said prayer shawls have to be boring knitting? By the way, the yarn is Sanguine Gryphon’s Skinny Bugga! in Cowkiller colorway (it’s an insect…).)

and also a shawl of my own design with my usual addiction, Twisted yarn.

The yarn is Arial yarn base (a fine superwash merino 2-ply) in Angst Evolution colorway, with coordinating yarns Drama (blue) and Mope (brown) (the original colorway was named by a preteen….).  I will continue the 2-row stripes for a while more until I run out of the slow color-change yarn  — seen better here:

and then I will add a knitted-on edging in blue.

Finished shawls since I last showed you knitting, are two shawls that went off to new owners:

The first, a special birthday present for a friend celebrating a special birthday: someone who likes warm colors but also wears a lot of black.

(this is me, not Kathe, but I did see her wearing it, and looking stunning!)

This is a modified version of the Annis shawl from knitty.  I modified for the yarn weight and yardage I had, and also left out the nupps (not because of anti-nupp prejudice, but because the nupps would have changed the rate of color change on those rows, which I did not want).  The yarn is Twisted Kabam! in the Ember colorway, one of my favorites.

Overall view:

Lastly, a shawl for a friend going through even more of a life-changing and stressful time than a ‘special’ birthday: yes, more of my Twisted yarn (it is my special yarn for special people.  Including myself, I guess.)  For Lisa, the Tsarina of Tsocks:

A soft hug shawl in merino-silk Muse, in Lagoon colorway: also one of my very favorites.

Here in close-up, and here on the recipient, who graciously took modeled pictures (since I had none) and let me use them.

This is modified slightly from the very cool Bermuda Scarf pattern by Ilga Leja.  It is suitable for any yarn weight; for my vision of this yarn (hills rather than waves), I took out the scalloped edges of the original and free-formed a bit.  (But you should see it in a self-striping or faster color-change yarn, too, in the original form; follow the link to check it out.)

I got to see both Lisa and Kathe, plus another knitting friend, Nancy, during a recent trip to New York City!

Here, my photo from the plane on approach, showing you the gorgeous pre-hurricane weather we had.

Would you believe that I’d never been?  At least, I’d never gotten to stay there: I’d only been through the city on my way elsewhere (and stopped at Kathe’s place for a couple hours once en route).  I had a big meeting there in early September, and delightfully enough, my husband could join me for a couple days around his birthday, and Kathe and her husband put us up the day after my meeting ended.

Before that, I got to walk around Manhattan with Kathe, and eat sushi with my knitterly friends.

(I didn’t ask K about putting her on the blog, so I shall restrain myself from posting her picture…especially the post-sake pictures.  Which I instigated, truth be told.)

Lisa gave me some gorgeous handspun to play with, and I promptly started….a shawl.

(Ooops, the title should be five shawls, I guess!  I barely started this one, though, which is Anjou, and then goofed up on the plane so put it aside.  It’s beauteous, though: the fiber is Spunky Eclectic merino/silk, in the Rhubarb colorway.  (But as dyed on the silk and spun up by Lisa, it reminds me of apple blossoms.)

I could tell you oh, so much more about my wonderful trip to New York, but that would be several posts in itself, so I will stop and finish up with one more FO.

I knit on this in New York, as I have been off and on since this spring….and finally subsequently finished socks for my mother, in another Twisted colorway, Vintage (also in Kabam!, a great sock yarn, being a superwash merino/bamboo/nylon blend).

Pattern is Circle Socks (Ravelry link), a free pattern by Anne Campbell.  These are very fun, and a great pattern for self-striping yarn!

Proof of two socks.  No Second Sock Syndrome this time.

(Not entirely coincidentally, Anne is a talented knitter closely related to the talented dyer of the sock yarn!  As in, her mother.  The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree!)

Whew!  I am sure that’s not all I’ve knit since I last posted knitting, but it’s what comes to mind.  Enough for one post, anyway!

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

You will come to understand the title of this blog post….but you’ll have to keep reading!

A (what was intended to be brief) wrap-up (I hope) of Sock Camp. Maybe.

I hadn’t shared yet that I went out a day early, just to see friends and hang out in the wonderful Seattle area, since there would be no extra time at camp, nor after. (On the way, I saw this mysterious communication at the Minneapolis airport.

Apparently, fiber-bearing animals were sending me messages?)

My friend KT sweetly picked me up at the airport, took me to lunch at Pomegranate Bistro (NOM!), and thence to her house for a couple hours of knitting and talking in her crafty hideaway.  (The mother-in-law apartment in her house is her craft area.  It is awesomeness.  Not just for knitting, but for quilting and all KT’s other artistic endeavors: she is incredibly creative.  KT is a sock camper also but went the second session, so we were not going to see each other otherwise!) I also was a magnet for her beautiful cats, Frog and Tink.  😀

Then I got to go with KT to see her sons’ Montessori school (my daughters went to a Montessori school until just last year — wow, when I think about it, from when the eldest started Montessori preschool in 1999 to last spring 2009 when the younger completed 5th grade at her charter Montessori school in the public school system, I always had at least one child in Montessori for a decade!).  That was really cool, to see a lovely, and different, Montessori school.

Bad blogger.  No pics.  Too busy talking, apparently.

KT then, in a demonstration of true knit-sisterly love, drove me to my friend Astrid’s house through rush hour traffic on I-5 in the rain, with her two young men in the back who did become slightly bored with the process, small gentlemen though they are.  KT, you are a saint!

Thereafter, Astrid and her husband Greg very generously fed me and put me up overnight.  After a wonderful meal, the usual engaging conversation that occurs any time Astrid and Greg are in the room, and a stormy night/early morning, which I slept through most of, an absolutely gorgeous morning greeted me.  At which point, I remembered my camera…though I just realized I haven’t yet taken a picture of the way cool hand-dyed yarn that Astrid gave me!  (But it’s somewhat similar to this one in her etsy shop, but without the sparkle, and more colors.  Very pretty!  I love it!)  Here’s the view from Astrid and Greg’s deck on a stunning Seattle spring morning:

A few remnants of rain

soon evaporated, and after a lovely breakfast, Astrid continued her generosity by driving me to Sock Camp at Port Ludlow.

We had a lovely trip across the Kingston-Edmonds ferry!

And I got to show Astrid around the Inn at Port Ludlow a bit before she headed back.

The mountains came out to be seen, for Astrid.

We got to see a sea otter swimming by the docks!

So, after hugs were exchanged and Astrid headed home, I explored a bit, took a few more pictures,

had dinner in the bar with new and old friends, and then that evening

Sock Camp officially kicked off with a dessert reception and the sorting of the Tribes.  And the laying down of the Camp ground rules by Steph, baby Maggie and Tina.

After that….it was kind of a blur.  Oh, gee.  I wish I could have blogged concurrently, there is still so much to tell you, but this post is getting too long already!  But one highlight was mid-camp: the Talent Show.  Wow.

The knitters who come to Sock Camp are an amazingly talented bunch.  Knitting, of course.  But in many other ways.  I saw Dorie’s incredible quilt that left me almost speechless….it took a third place at American Quilter’s Society’s Paducah show (this is A Big Deal in the quilter world, and if you saw the quilt, you’d totally get it.)  My picture is abysmal:  I hoped the Harlot would blog her photo, but not to date.  (The quilt tells the story of Bernard, the timid cat who dreams of Africa.) And then there was Anne’s artwork, of which my photos are completely blurry, but you can see it for real at the link.  Amazing.

If I had done my little talent show offering AFTER those — I’m not sure I would have dared to perform!  But, I deliberately signed up to go first.  My voice was extremely iffy, as I was just recovering from a prolonged bout of The Plague (OK, some nasty virus that settled in my lungs).  So I drank some bourbon and hot tea, on the advice of my musician husband (though not too much bourbon, or I would not have been able to stand, let alone perform).  And quick, before my voice ‘went’ any more than it already had:

I got up and sang a little song about socks.  Written by yours truly.

So now you see the reason for the title?  Between my last post with the angelic teen voices singing a lovely song, the beautiful scenery at Astrid’s house and at Camp, and then my teammates (Dorie and Anne were both Fellow Foxes in Socks!) with their incredible art….definitely The Sublime.

and then — there is this….

Maybe This Time”. Definitely on the ridiculous side of the Sublime vs. Ridiculous scale!

(For the unedited song, with chatter before and after, including the American Idol-style “Camp Idol” judging by Steph, Tina,  and Stephen, see here…. this video also hints at the hidden story behind the name of one of Blue Moon Fiber Artsnewest colorways!)