Monday, September 29, 2008

Green Tee

I've heard it said life is better outdoors and I agree, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it was this weekend. John and I spent as much time as possible outside with a fishing rod in one hand and a kayak paddle in the other. We also attended a wedding and went to the Astros/Braves game with friends...and I finished my tee.

Pattern: Nothing But a T-Shirt
Yarn: Brooks Farm Yarn Willow
Fiber Content: 70% Superwash Wool, 30% Bamboo
Needles: US 7

Overall, I'm pleased with the way the yarn worked up--not too much pooling or flashing on the front...

...or the back. Pretty good, considering that I took the lazy way out and worked from one skein at a time instead of alternating skeins every couple of rows.

I ran into some trouble with the seaming and I'm not sure I understand what happened. I sewed the sleeve on in the normal way and the seam looked great until I put the sweater on, then it stretched open and really looked awful. I reworked it in places, but it wasn't my stitching that was off, it was just that the yarn had to stretch too much, I suppose. The only way I could figure out to neaten the seam was to add backstitching for strength. That did the trick.

This is a very comfortable sweater and I can see myself wearing it often. I really like the fact that it's easy care too. I washed it in the machine and I even tossed it in the dryer on delicate, though I might not do that every time.

The weatherman is predicting cooler weather this week. Bring it on. I'm ready.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Special Olympics Scarf

I'm joining Jennifer and many other knitters and crocheters across the country in the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games Scarf Project.

The purpose of this project is to present each athlete that competes in Idaho this winter with a handmade scarf (knit or crochet) as a show of support from the maker of the scarf to the athlete. 5000 scarves will be needed and I'm very happy to be donating this one.

Pattern (CO 21 sts.)
Yarn: Red Heart Worsted Weight
Colors: Delft Blue (0885) and White (0311)
Needles: US 10
Size: 6" x 56"

Anyone can participate, but there are some guidelines that need to be followed. The most important one is that you must use Red Heart Super Saver yarn in two very specific colors--Delft Blue (0885) and White (0311). Did I sense a collective cringe from all the natural fiber lovers out there? Yes, this acrylic yarn is a bit crunchy right from the skein, but it does soften up considerably after it's washed and dried.

Coats and Clark, manufacturers of Red Heart yarn and sponsors of this project, have provided two free patterns for use, but any scarf pattern is fine as long as it uses both colors of yarn. Size recommendation is 4 1/2" x 50", but there is some leeway here it seems. You will find guidelines and mailing instructions here and here. There is also helpful information and discussion on the Raverly group.

There is still plenty of time to get involved in this project. Scarves must be received by January 15, 2009.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

S is for Seashells

I enjoy searching for shells on the beach.

After Ike hit Texas, we went to Matagorda Beach in search of treasures. Though hurricanes are never welcomed, they do bring lots of shells to the coast. In the short time we searched we found a number of nice Lightning Whelks, the state shell of Texas. It's different from other whelks in that the opening is distinctively "left-handed"--it invites your left hand in when you hold it tail down. It is considered a good find on Texas beaches.

Lightning Whelk

Another good find is the Sundial. It's one of my favorites and I've adopted it as my signature shell. I've collected hundreds of them which I display in a wooden bowl on our dining room table. Normally I find light-colored Sundials, but this day I was lucky to find two black ones.


The Lettered Olive shells below are considered common finds, but they are the first I've found at Matagorda Beach, so I was really excited.

Lettered Olive

But not nearly as excited as I was when I found the shell below.

Mitchell's Wentletrap

This rare treasure is a Mitchell's Wentletrap! It's not a perfect specimen and it's a little smaller than normal, but I'm convinced that I've identified it correctly. This highly sought after shell was first discovered by Texas naturalist J.D. Mitchell. It's such an uncommon find that I never really believed I would ever find one, though I hoped so.

Additional Source: Shells of the Texas Gulf Coast

Monday, September 22, 2008

This is More Like It

This weekend was much more typical than last. You could say we're back to normal, except I don't know how many people would agree that we were normal to start with.

Our Friday evening date took us to Matagorda for dinner at Spoonbills and a walk on the beach at sunset. Then off to Palacios for fishing from the First Street Pier, which somehow survived the hurricane even though it was under water during the storm except for the benches at the end. Click here to see a picture of the waves crashing the pier during Ike (6th picture down).

Sunset Behind the Dunes

Saturday after lunch we ended up in Matagorda again. In case you're counting, that makes three trips in a week! By the light of day we could see better how the hurricane changed the beach. It looks to me like erosion from the storm surge has moved the water line closer in and taken out about four feet of the dunes.

We fished at Three Mile Lake, which looks a little different too. It's a bit disconcerting to see so much change all at once. Everything was familiar and strange at the same time. The weather even has a different feel to it. Though the temperatures were high, it didn't feel like summer. Fall has arrived.

Fishing Three Mile Lake

Soon it will be cool enough to wear a sweater. Good thing I'm almost finished with my tee. As you can see, it's in pieces right now.

In Pieces

I have to finish knitting the last sleeve, then work the neck and sew it all up. It won't be long!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Evacuation Vacation

So how did I spend my time in the Texas Hill Country during Ike?

I had all the time in the world to knit, but I didn't really feel like it. I completed only 17 rows of stockinette stitch on my tee. We bought three movies to watch on DVD, but didn't even open the packages. Our thoughts were elsewhere, so mostly we sat outside and enjoyed our surroundings. The hummingbirds entertained us at the feeders and we listened to reports of the storm on the radio. In the evenings we cooked out on the grill and roasted marshmallows for dessert.

One day we drove into Fredericksburg and while there, I stopped by Stonehill Spinning.

As the sign says, they cater to Rug Hookin', Knittin' and Spinnin'.

The inside of the store is just as charming as the front porch, though I didn't take any pictures to show you.

I browsed for a time, waiting for something to call my name. Right away I knew I wanted to buy one of their aprons. And of course, there was yarn purchased as well. I couldn't decide on anything for me so I had John pick two colors of El Coyote Ranch yarn.

It's a blend of natural colored Rambouillet sheep and Angora goat with a bit of Llama added to the light gray.

He has requested that I cook up a hat for him with this yarn.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What About Matagorda?

Thank you for the concern, prayers and thoughts you extended to us during hurricane Ike. We are home now and all is well--no damage to our house and the electricity is working.

After a busy day of putting everything back to normal at home, we decided to take a drive to Matagorda to see how things fared there.

Our first stop was the launch site for McNab Lake. The water was high. You cannot even see the channel anymore.

The picture below shows how it normally looks.

We were happy to see our favorite restaurant, Spoonbills, is in good shape. Wind damage did not appear to be significant in Matagorda. It fared well in that respect, even better than our town.

In place of the usual Spoonbills sign was this one. It sums up how we all feel about Ike.

On the way to the beach we began to see the results of the tidal surge. It was obvious that the water had come up high enough to cover the road. Lots of debris from the river was left behind. The road had been cleared, but the piles remain.

In some places the debris mounds are taller than me.

Our favorite RV park is closed for now, at least until the debris can be removed.

I was expecting to see some of the same on the beach, but it was clear and clean looking.

However, the surge did damage the dunes. Here you can see how the water cut into them.

All in all, Matagorda is in very good shape. At one point, hurricane Ike was projected to hit Matagorda directly. All the horrible pictures of destruction you've been seeing of Galveston could have been Matagorda, only worse because there is no seawall for protection.

Our town would have been heavily impacted as well. We were very fortunate.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Comfort in the Storm

All is well with us. We hooked up the travel trailer and escaped to Comfort, Texas on Thursday. The evacuation process went smoothly--no traffic jams like last time. It seems many people decided to stay and ride out the storm.


Last night as the sun was setting, I thought of those that stayed behind and said a prayer for their safety. My sister stayed and so did John's brother and family. They both live on the north side of Houston.

We received good reports from both of them this morning. My sister said the wind howled for hours, but her home is in good shape. John's brother was on the "dirty" side of the storm. We've only been able to text message him. He says they are fine, but have downed trees blocking them in on all streets. Neither of them have electricity. We thank God for keeping them safe.

We've also talked to our neighbors that stayed in Needville. There is only minor damage on our street. Our basketball goal was blown over. We've been wanting to take it down anyway, so I don't consider this a loss. A few small tree limbs are down. And power is out on our street, though many in Needville still have electricity.


Hopefully the power will be restored before long. We plan to go home tomorrow if it is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

R is for Run from Ike

Hurricane Ike is headed for Texas and we've decided to run from him.

Exactly where Ike will hit is still uncertain at this time, but predictions keep moving him closer and closer to the Houston area. Instead of waiting around for a more accurate prediction, we're packing up the travel trailer and heading out in the morning. We feel it's better to err on the side of caution than to wait. And we'd really like to get going early enough to avoid a nightmare evacuation like the one we went through three years ago with hurricane Rita.

I don't think we'll have Internet access while we're on the run. It will probably be next week before I check in, so don't worry if things are quiet on the blog for a time. We will be fine, because we know where to find refuge.

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

On a Roll

To say stockinette stitch has a tendency to roll is an understatement in this case.

Let me pin it out so you can see what it is.

It's the back of NBT.

To refresh your memory, I'm knitting this tee with Willow, a superwash wool/bamboo blend by Brooks Farm Yarn.

The yarn is nice to work with. The colors are aligning in a pleasing way. And it looks like this tee it's going to fit me.

Let's hope this roll of good luck continues as I begin knitting the front.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Yarn Fish

A couple of things happened this weekend that made me realize fishing has become an obsession with me.

Palacios Pier

After an evening of pier fishing on Friday, I slept soundly and dreamed guessed I casted, reeled and caught fish all night in my sleep. When fishing invades your subconscious, that's a sure sign you're hooked.

And not that I needed any more convincing, but Saturday on our way home from an afternoon of fishing, I saw a grouping of clouds that looked exactly like a trout to me.

Trout Cloud

If you can't see the trout in the sky, don't feel bad, it just means you haven't been afflicted with the fishing sickness yet. I blame John for infecting me. He's had it for years.

I already "suffer" with a little obsession called knitting and now I have this one too. Evidently both were working on me Sunday afternoon because I had the need to knit something fishy. I searched Ravelry and came up with this cute little project.

Yarn Fish

Pattern: Fishy Twashi
Yarn: Lily Sugar 'n Cream
Colors: Robins Egg Blue & White
Needles: US 7 (smaller size than the pattern called for)
Size: Approx. 4" x 6"
Changes: Embroidered the eye instead of knitting or crocheting.

This little fish is designed as dish scrubber. It's the size of a regular kitchen sponge. Twashi, I learned, is a Japanese word meaning scrubber or brush. Though intended originally for kitchen use, it can also be used in the bath. Acrylic yarn is recommended for scrubbing dishes, but cotton is the best choice for a washcloth.

There are lots of cute tawashi patterns on Ravelry and even a group called Tawashi Town for fans of these Japanese inspired scrubbies. I had never heard of a tawashi before yesterday. It's funny where an obsession (or two) can take you.

Friday, September 05, 2008

My Go-To Gift

When I first saw these dishcloths on Renna's blog, I knew I wanted to knit a set for the next wedding shower I was invited to. I got a chance to try the pattern this week.

Pattern: Waffle Knit Dishcloth
Yarn: Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton
Colors: Khaki and Cinnamon
Needles: US 7 (one size larger than recommended)
Size: Aproximately 9" x 9"

I give the pattern and the cloth a big thumbs up! It's a quick knit, has lots of texture (good for scrubbing) and looks great on both the right and wrong side.

A gift card from the couple's choice of stores completes this shower gift. I'll wrap them up together and include a note something like this:
Tracy's Hand Knit Dishcloths
Making Dish Washing Fun For Newlyweds Since 2003

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sunny Skies

Checking in quickly to say thanks for all the nice comments on my new scarf and to let you know that all is well here with the weather.

Hurricane Gustav did not effect our area, except to churn up the Gulf and cause higher than normal tides. We tried to drive on Matagorda Beach on Monday. The tide was out (I think), but the water was still high enough that it forced us to drive near the dunes where the sand was too fluffy for our four-wheel drive Jeep. We turned around before we got stuck.

Later in the day, beach access was being denied to all but four-wheel drive vehicles and even then they were discouraging people from attempting it. The water was up higher than it was in the morning. We were told that someone was stuck 13 miles down the beach. I'm not sure if they were trapped by the water or if they were stuck in the sand. Either way, it's a long hike out!

I didn't get any pictures of the beach Monday. All the pictures in this post were taken last Thursday. You can see the water was calm and beautiful then--the prettiest I've ever seen it. Monday it was rougher, but not violent. Surfing conditions were favorable and many surfers were there to take advantage of it.

It's proving to be a very active hurricane season, so we'll continue to keep a watchful eye on the Gulf and be prepared to leave if we need to. This is the way of life when you live near the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Montego Bay Scarf

Photographed at Turtle Bay, Jensen Point, Texas.

We were up early on Friday morning to say goodbye to Matt and Carly. We decided to take advantage of that fact and drive to Turtle Bay for kayak fishing. We arrived right at sunrise and hurriedly took some pictures of my new scarf before putting the boats in the water.

Montego Bay Scarf
Pattern Source: Interweave Knits Summer 2007 and Ravelry
Yarn: Hand Maiden Sea Silk (70% silk, 30% Seacell)
Color: Rose Garden
Needles: US 8

Project Notes:

This scarf was a breeze to knit and the yarn is a perfect match to the pattern. The only challenge I can see with this scarf is that some knitters may find simple fishnet lace monotonous. I didn't, but I enjoy easy repetitive knitting.

One of my favorite parts of the scarf is the braided fringe. Two hundred strands of yarn, each 12" long are cut before any knitting is started. This sounds tedious, as does the process of braiding each section, but I think it's worth the effort and it's not as much work as it sounds.

After the photo shoot we launched the kayaks and fished. We didn't catch anything we could bring home, but we felt blessed anyway to be spend time together in such a beautiful place.