Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Skein is Enough

One skein of yarn (220 yards) and four days is all it took to knit Morning Surf Scarf.

I'm sure you'll forgive me for not modeling it properly at the beach. It's just a bit too warm for wool around the neck right now.

Pattern: Morning Surf Scarf
Cast On Stitches: 36
Yarn: Cascade 220 Paints
Color: 9843 Paradise Beach
Needles: US 8

Aggressive blocking resulted in a scarf that measures 7" x 51". Just right!

SSK wanted to know if the stitch pattern is reversible, so I'm adding a picture to show both sides of the scarf.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Kayak Fishing in Matagorda

Saturday was my first time to fish from a kayak. John suggested we get an early start. "That's when the fish bite," he said. I wondered if this would prove to be true. I had my doubts. After all, he was also the one who said, "The big trout move in after midnight," which we proved false last Monday when we fished until 2:00 a.m. off the 1st Street Pier in Palacios (crazy, I know) and didn't catch one fish we could keep.

Would this fishing trip be worth setting the alarm for 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday? Would it be worth skipping my morning cup of coffee because there are no bathrooms in the marsh?

I should have never doubted him. Shortly after launching the kayaks, I was reeling in my first keeper redfish ever. It was 20" long--just big enough.

John began reeling them in too. Our combined take-home catch for the morning was impressive.

Two 20" Redfish, 18" Trout, 26" Redfish

John hooked the other 20" redfish and the trout...and I caught the 26-incher! This fish was strong. He pulled my kayak all over the place as he fought against the line. I'm told this is referred to as a Texas sleigh ride. I probably couldn't have landed this whopper without some expert coaching from my guide.

I don't know if we'll ever have another trip as successful as this one, but next time John suggests getting up early for kayak fishing, you can bet I'll be the one making sure the alarm clock is set.

Now, on to knitting.

Here's a quick and easy project that really turned out nice. If you know how to knit I-cord, you can make these.

Pattern: Covered Pony Tail Holders by Joan Beebe
Yarn: Cotton Chenille
Needles: US 5 DPNs
Embellishments: Shells I found while beachcombing in Matagorda. They were perfect for this project since they already had holes in them.

Note: The yarn I used for these covers is very inelastic. To help prevent the cover from restricting the elasticity of the band inside, I knit it slightly longer than the band.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sea Scarf

My new project is Morning Surf Scarf. I'm using Cascade 220 Paints in a pretty color called Paradise Beach (#9843).

My original intention was to knit this scarf from my own handspun, but I couldn't resist casting on with this yarn. Working on 36 stiches, I will knit until the yarn runs out. I'm crossing my fingers that 220 yards will be enough for a short scarf. I think it will.

Later when the spinning bug bites, I'll spin up a lighter weight yarn for a second Morning Surf Scarf. This is a pattern that I can see myself making multiple times. It lends itself well to all types of yarn and is easy and enjoyable to knit. I especially like dropping the yarn-over stitches and tugging to neaten the loops. I'm not sure why that is so entertaining, but it is.

There are likely to be other sea scarves in my knitting future as well, as I just purchased Ocean Breezes by Sheryl Thies. Included in this book are patterns for 25 knitted scarves, all inspired by the sea.

Her scarf called Sea Foam is very similar to the one I'm knitting now--the same drop stitch design, minus the reverse stockinette "waves" and the addition of a garter stitch edge along the sides. There are several other designs that I like including Starfish on the Beach, Fish Net and Cockleshell Lace. Many are featured on Ravelry.

Tomorrow is Saturday, so you know what that means: we're heading to Matagorda. Some of you expressed concern about the impact of Hurricane Dolly on Matagorda Beach. Fortunately, all is well in our area. We received only a little bit of rain at my house and I expect to find that Matagorda fared about the same.

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

While the Kids are Away...

...the parents will play.

So what's a pair of empty-nesters to do when there's free time on a Monday evening in the summer? Head to Matagorda, of course, for dinner and fishing afterward.

We were encouraged to see that the water was green all the way to the beach and relatively calm. Usually this means conditions are right for catching fish. We worked our way through the maze of fishermen on the big pier, stepping over rods and walking around ice chests waiting to be filled with fish.

The jetty is where we decided to try out luck. It's not always calm enough to walk out on the rocks, but today the waves were gentle.

John rigged me up with a new lure. We just knew it was going to catch something.

After an hour of fishing...not one bite. That's my limit in the patience department when it comes to fishing. John is more optimistic, thinking the next cast will surely get a fish, so he continued to try. I gave up and sat down to enjoy the remainder of the day.

We refused to be defeated however, so we packed up our gear and took the long way way of the 1st Street Pier in Palacios. Fishing under the lights proved to be better. Between the two of us, I suppose we caught about 100 fish. Most were sand trout (we don't keep these) and an occasional speckled trout (good eating). I blame those almost-big-enough specs for keeping us out way past our bedtime. John has always told me fishing is a sickness, I now know firsthand what he means.

It's no worse than being obsessed with knitting though and since that's the main focus of this blog, here's an update on the yarn from the other day.

My friend wasn't interested in Orange Confection or Paradise Beach for soakers, so both skeins are mine for the keeping. I wasted no time in starting a new project with Paradise Beach. Details next time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Let's Go Yarnin'

This weekend was packed full of activities. It included a wedding rehearsal and dinner on Thursday night for John's nephew, late night fishing off the 1st Street Pier in Palacios on Friday, a bridal shower on Saturday morning for a couple from church, visiting with John's sister and family (from Massachusetts) on Saturday afternoon and then the wedding and reception that night.

The wedding was in Conroe which is on the north side of Houston--the same side of town as my favorite yarn shop, Twisted Yarns. Since it's about 1 1/2 hours from our house...and we were going to be in the area anyway...we should stop in for yarn, don't you think? Our schedule was tight, but I promised John I could get in and out quickly as all I really needed was some Cascade 220.

It's time to knit soakers in the next bigger size for my friend's baby and I was on a mission to find yarn in specific colors. She had already bought these pretty colors of Lion Wool at Hobby Lobby.

Midnight Blue, Cadet Blue, Winter White

But she really wanted something in baby blue and lime green, so I said I'd check TY to see what they had. I found what she wanted plus a couple of other colors I liked. If these don't work for her, I'll keep them myself.

Cascade 220
Paradise Beach, Summer Sky, Lime Heather

Brown Sheep Lanaloft
Orange Confection

I wish I'd had more time to browse at TY. All I could manage though, was a quick glance around while John paid for the yarn. Right away my eye caught sight of two Morning Surf Scarves on display. I have plans to make this scarf and now that I've seen it in person, I'm anxious to get started. (If you're interested in this pattern, but don't want to register to get it, you can print it from here or find it in the Summer 2008 issue of Spin Off.)

I also saw and tried on the store model of Circle Vest (Ravelry link). I had a copy of the pattern in my purse and a whole wall of Noro Silk Garden right in front of me, but no time to make a smart selection on a color. I decided to wait until my next visit, which I have a feeling will be coming up sooner than later. Until then, I have soakers to knit.

Pattern: Curly Purly Soaker
Yarn: Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool
Color: 126 Nature's Brown
Needles: 16" Circular Size US 3, 5, & 7 and US 3 DPNs
Size: Small
Notes: No short rows. Added 1/2" to length.

Friday, July 18, 2008


In my search for new hat patterns, I came across an adorable baby hat that I modified to fit a 3-5 pound preemie.

Pattern: Cupcake Hat (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Worsted Weight Cotton/Acrylic
Needles: US 7

The yellow hat was worked per pattern, top-down through round 10. I then knit 4 rounds, worked the moss stitch band for 6 rounds and the ribbing section for about 2 1/4 inches. I'm not a huge fan of knitting a hat from the top down, so I reversed the instructions and made the pink one from the bottom up, casting on 54 stitches and using K2tog for the decreases. The original hat is embellished with several flowers, but I decided a single blossom with a button center was enough.

The next cute hat pattern I found is one of several free patterns from 20 Hats Project.

Pattern: Conehead Baby Hat
Yarn: Worsted Weight Cotton and Cotton/Acrylic
Needles: US 7

This pattern is great just as written, but I decided to make the top more pointy by knitting 5 rounds after the last decrease. I then added a sprout topper like the one Susan B. Anderson demonstrates here.

The pointy top and little sprout add a bit of whimsy to this hat. I get a grin on my face every time I imagine it on the head of a tiny baby.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

N is for Nature

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20

A collection of nature photos:

Sweet Nectar

Sand, Surf, Sky

Texas Sunset

Sea Oats

Face Off

Empty Moth Cocoon

Gull Gathering

Barnacles on Driftwood

Majestic Oak

Thank you, God for your wonderful creation.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. ~ Genesis 1:31

Monday, July 14, 2008

Beat the Heat at the Beach

The weatherman calls this time of year July Fry. It's hot. Temperatures are in the upper 90s and the humidity is high, but there is relief at the beach...just be sure to bring your own shade.

Matagorda Beach is our favorite year-round escape destination. You'll find us there every Saturday we have free. Now that summer has arrived, it's also a favorite destination of lots of other folks too. It's only crowded on the first couple of miles of beach though. With four-wheel drive, it's easy to find a spot to yourself if you drive a little farther.

This Saturday we staked our claim just past 3 Mile, marking it with our new Texas flag umbrella and a couple of chairs. Then we settled down to enjoy the afternoon. John pulled out the fishing gear and I took a walk along the shore searching for shells and cooling my heels in the surf along the way.

When I returned, John was catching fish, but only hardhead catfish, so I decided to get out the knitting I brought along.

The shade of the umbrella and the steady breeze blowing across the water kept me cool as I worked on a cotton dishcloth.

I'm knitting up a few of these to have on hand for wedding gifts. A couple of hand-knit dishcloths along with a gift card from the store where the couple is registered is my standard go-to gift.

I was a few rows into my knitting when John began to catch whiting. He encouraged me to join him, so I set down my knitting sticks and picked up my fishing stick. He showed me where to find the fish and gave me a few pointers. A couple of casts later, I caught a fish--not a whiting, but even better, a redfish! And to prove it wasn't beginner's luck, I caught another one. They were too small to keep, but they earned me bragging rights for this trip.

I never did get back to my knitting.

Pattern: Ballband Dishcloth
Yarn: Peaches and Cream (Red, Black, Licorice),
Yarn: Lily Sugar 'n Cream (Light Blue, White, Sea Mist)
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Red, White and Blue

You've probably already figured out that knitting for preemies is a passion of mine. I never get tired of it. There is nothing more rewarding than using your talents to serve others. Try it and see what I mean.

Made in America

Yarn: Worsted weight in red, white and blue (I used Bernat Satin).
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) DPNs
Gauge: 5 sts/inch
Size: Preemie

Cast on 48 sts. Divide stitches on three needles. Join in the round, being careful not to twist.

1-5: K1, p1 (red)
6-10: K (white)
11: K (blue)
12: K (alternate 1 st. blue, 1 st white, beginning with blue)
13: K (blue)
14: K (alternate blue and white, beginning with white)
15-17: Repeat rnds 11-13
18-22: K (white)

Decreases (red):
*K6, K2tog, repeat from *
*K5, K2tog, repeat from *
*K4, K2tog, repeat from *
*K3, K2tog, repeat from *
*K2, K2tog, repeat from *
*K1, K2tog, repeat from *
*K2tog, repeat from *
6 stitches remain.

Cut yarn, leaving tail, and pull through remaining stitches.
Pull tail to the inside and weave in all ends.

I hope the hats and patterns I've shared this week will inspire you to knit your own red, white and blue creations. Start with this basic recipe and plug in a design of your own.

I'd love to see what you come up with.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Flag Hats

The United States flag was the inspiration for this hat.

Stars and Stripes Preemie Hat

Worsted weight in red, white and blue (I used Bernat Satin).
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) DPNs
Gauge: 5 sts/inch
Size: Preemie

Cast on 48 sts. Divide stitches on three needles. Join in the round, being careful not to twist.

1-5: K1, p1 (blue)
6: K (blue)
7: K (alternate 1 st. blue, 1 st white, beginning with blue)
8: K (blue)
9: K (alternate blue and white, beginning with white)
10-12: Repeat rnds 6-8
13-14: K (red)
15-16: K (white)
17-18: K (red)
19-20: K (white)
21-22: K (red)

Decreases (blue):
*K6, K2tog, repeat from *
*K5, K2tog, repeat from *
*K4, K2tog, repeat from *
*K3, K2tog, repeat from *
*K2, K2tog, repeat from *
*K1, K2tog, repeat from *
*K2tog, repeat from *
6 stitches remain.

Cut yarn, leaving tail, and pull through remaining stitches.
Pull tail to the inside and weave in all ends.


Yesterday I had another idea for a flag hat.

Flag Pin Preemie Hat

Knit a preemie hat in the color of your choice using this pattern or one of your favorites.
Embellish it with a knitted Flag Pin, a free pattern from Vogue Knitting.

Yarn: Bernat Satin Worsted Weight (hat), Omega Sinfonia Sportweight (flag)
Needles: US 7 (hat), US 1 (flag)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Patriotic Preemie Hats

The fireworks were flashing this weekend.

And the needles were flying. While visiting with my parents, I was able to knit up several patriotic preemie hats. A few of the patterns are worth sharing. I'll be posting them one at a time this week.

Today's free pattern:

Born in the USA

Yarn: Worsted weight in red, white and blue (I used Bernat Satin).
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) DPNs
Gauge: 5 sts/inch
Size: Preemie

Cast on 48 sts. Divide stitches on three needles. Join in the round, being careful not to twist.
K1, p1 for 5 rnds (red)
K for 3 rnds (red)
K for 2 rnds (white)
K for 9 rnds (blue)
K for 2 rnds (white)
K for 3 rnds (red)

Decreases (red):
*K6, K2tog, repeat from *
*K5, K2tog, repeat from *
*K4, K2tog, repeat from *
*K3, K2tog, repeat from *
*K2, K2tog, repeat from *
*K1, K2tog, repeat from *
*K2tog, repeat from *
6 stitches remain.

Cut yarn, leaving tail, and pull through remaining stitches.
Pull tail to the inside and weave in all ends.

Using white yarn and duplicate stitch, embroider USA on the front of the hat, centered in the blue section. Letters should be 5 sts high and 3 sts wide, with one stitch separating each letter.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Made in America

Happy Fourth of July! I've been celebrating our national holiday by knitting patriotic preemie hats in red, white and blue.

Normally I think of hats like this only for July, but with the Summer Olympics and the presidential election coming up, I think patriotic colors will be in fashion for the rest of the year.

Later when I have more time, I'll write out the patterns and share them with everyone. Right now, we're off to Louisiana to visit family.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. ~Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

M is for Matagorda

Needville is our home; Matagorda is our playground.

Matagorda Beach

You know about the beach, the fishing and kayaking, but did you know Matagorda is the third oldest town in Texas?

Welcome To Matagorda
Where Texas History Began

Matagorda was established in 1827. Several patriots of early Texas are buried in the Matagorda Cemetery. One is Samuel Rhoads Fisher, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Another is Albert C. Horton, the first lieutenant governor of Texas.

Albert C. Horton

The houses of both of these men are still standing, which is amazing considering the number of hurricanes and tropical storms that have gone through this area. Fisher's house was built in 1832. It is the oldest building in Matagorda. Now fully restored, it operates as the Stanley-Fisher House B&B. John and I plan to stay here some day.

Stanley-Fisher B&B

Other old buildings in town include the old post office (built before 1872) and the old meat market (early 1900s). Recognize the yellow bench on the post office porch?

Old Post Office and Old Meat Market

Christ Episcopal Church is the oldest Episcopal church in Texas. The original building was destroyed by a hurricane in 1854. This building was erected nearby. Some of the materials from the 1841 building were salvaged for use in the new structure.

Christ Episcopal Church

One of the two remaining swing bridges on the Texas coast is in Matagorda. It's been in operation for over 50 years. The Matagorda bridge spans the Intracoastal Waterway connecting the town of Matagorda to Matagorda Peninsula where the beach is. I have never witnessed it, but twice a year since 1919 hundreds of head of cattle are herded across this bridge. In the fall they are driven from inland ranches to coastal grazing land near the beach. In the spring before hurricane season starts, they are driven back.

Matagorda Swing Bridge

The Matagorda Cattle Drive will be a thing of the past with the opening of the new bridge that's being constructed to replace the swing bridge. I've been told there will be one last drive this fall. I would love to see it.

Bridge Construction and Shrimp Boats

There's no telling what other changes this new bridge will bring to the community of Matagorda. No doubt, it will be the start of a new chapter in the history of Matagorda, Texas.

Matagorda History:
Matagorda Area Chamber of Commerce
Historical Markers Guide
News Article/Dallas Morning News