Friday, August 29, 2008

Q is for Quest

Our quest was to find some of the geocaches hidden at Matagorda Beach.

The first one we discovered gave us all a good laugh.

Matt and Carly are experienced geocachers. They have a good eye for finding the treasure.

John is still learning....

Here's one for you to try. Can you find the micro-cache hidden on the tank in the picture below? It's small and well camouflaged.

Here's a closer look. It's clearly visible in this picture, if you know what you're looking for.

Did you find it?

Each cache has a logbook to sign, even one this tiny.

Our quest was a success: five out of five caches were found and a good time was had by all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weather Talk

It's been raining here all week. I'm glad, because we really need the rain and because it seems like more knitting gets done on rainy days. I'm nearly finished with my scarf already and I've started a new project too.

It's the beginning of Nothing but a T-shirt using Brooks Farm Yarn Willow, a light worsted weight superwash wool/bamboo blend. I had a tough time deciding what to knit with this yarn. I tend to be attracted to variegated yarns in the skein and then I never know how to use them to their best advantage. Simple stockinette stitch and casual styling was the way I decided to go and so far I think it's working. The colors are aligning nicely with no major pooling problems.

I'm also happy with how neatly the first hem went in.

Viewed from the Wrong Side

Back to the rain. I'm not sure how it will affect the fishing this weekend, but we'll know soon enough. We're heading out for Matagorda after lunch to try our luck. The lures are packed and ready to go.

One of Every Color

Let's hope the fish are hungry!

If we catch something good, I'll report in on Monday as usual. Otherwise I may wait until later in the week. Matt and Carly are coming for a visit (arrive on Monday) and there won't be much time for blogging or knitting while they are here.

Rain or shine, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beautiful Yarn, Simple Stitches

Remember this yarn?

Hand Maiden Sea Silk
Color: Rose Garden

I won it in a random drawing a few months ago. Originally I thought it would become a Swallowtail Shawl, but I wasn't confident there would be enough yardage, though several people on Ravelry seem to have gotten by with one skein. Instead, I've decided to turn it into Montego Bay Scarf.

The fishnet lace pattern is very simple--mindless, even. It's so simple that you wouldn't think there would be any way to mess it up. I suppose that's the pitfall of mindless knitting. See all the yarn wrapped around the ball?

That's the amount I had to rip back when I realized I had zigged when I should have zagged. I was about three inches away from my mistake when I noticed it. It wasn't a big deal, but I'm paying better attention now--reading my stitches instead of letting my mind wander too much.

This scarf is growing at a steady pace and I'm enjoying it. Right now it's the only thing I'm working on, though that's always subject to change.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lifetime Pair #27

Another pair finished and ready to wear.

Basic Sock (Priscilla Gibson-Roberts Style)
Stitch Pattern: Garter Rib (Rnd 1: K2, p2. Rnd 2: K)
Needles: US 1 DPNs
Yarn: Happy Feet by Plymouth Yarn Co.
Color: 4

You can also find a pattern for socks like these in Sensational Knitted Socks. Garter rib stitch is simple and works well for socks for both guys and gals. This pair is for me, but the next pair will be for John.

I leave you with one picture from Friday evening's paddle in the kayak.

Sunset in the Marsh

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
~Psalm 84:11

Friday, August 15, 2008

P is for Pelican

It's not always easy to photograph a pelican up close. However, this one was very cooperative.

And so were these.

Sometimes I can sneak up on them in the kayak without spooking them, but I'm limited by the zoom on my pocket camera (I'm not brave enough to take the good camera out on the water).

Most of the time they fly away before I can get very close. And even with a decent telephoto lens, they are too far away to capture much detail.

There was one pelican in the flock that stayed behind so I tried to get closer.

But eventually he sensed my presence.

That's close enough.

See ya!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thinking Ahead

As summer winds down, I find myself thinking of the season ahead, which is why I suppose I got the urge to knit up a few pumpkins. I might be rushing things, but not by much. Fall is only a little over a month away.

Miniature Felted Pumpkins

The pattern, Miniature Felted Pumpkin, is one I came up with a couple of years ago. It's a quick knit on double pointed needles. Many people are surprised by the pre-felted shape, but never fear, a pumpkin it will become.

Before Felting

The yarn I used for these three pumpkins is (left to right): Cascade Pastaza-Burnt Orange, Monos del Uruguay-Persimmon, Brown Sheep Lanaloft-Orange Confection.

I suggest knitting several and felting them all at the same time. My method of machine felting is detailed in the pattern instructions. These shrink quickly, so check on them every five minutes until you get the look you want.

After Felting

It's not until stuffing is added and sections are created with lengths of yarn that these oval pouches look anything like a pumpkin. A knitted stem is the final touch.

It doesn't take much yarn to make one of these pumpkins, so it's a great project for left over bits and pieces of yarn you have no idea what to do with. I've used traditional pumpkin colors for mine, but any color goes. Check out the Ravelry Project Gallery for inspiration.

Think ahead and start knitting for fall.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Morning in the Marsh

It was early--very early.

Somehow John convinced me to wake up at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday to go fishing in the marsh. We left the house at 4:30, arrived in Matagorda at 5:30 and launched the kayaks right around 6:00. There was just enough light in the sky for us to see where we were going without the aid of a flashlight.

Paul, John's brother, was with us. He got his boat and gear ready before we did, so we bid him good luck as he paddled off. We told him we'd meet him later at McNab Lake. John and I didn't rush the one mile paddle to the lake, but stopped to fish the oyster reefs along the way and enjoy the sunrise over the marsh.

The marsh is a beautiful and mysterious place in the early morning light. Sitting low in the kayak, all you can see is cord grass, sky and water. We were lucky to be shaded by clouds early on, but later the sun broke through with its full force and the heat began to build.

When we finally arrived at the lake we heard Paul whistling for us and calling for help. At first, we thought he was in trouble, but as we got closer, we saw his rod bent nearly in half and realized the help he needed was in landing a whopper of a fish.

Now this is a fish story that John and Paul tell much better than I ever could, so if you're interested in such things, you can check out their blogs. The landing involved a lengthy kayak tow to the far shore, some quick work with the net and above all, endurance and determination of man over beast. The catch was an alligator gar with an estimated weight over 40 pounds and a length of 43 inches.

We fished until about 11:30 and those leaving with fish for supper were the ones with the most experience. Paul brought home two redfish and John caught a flounder and a redfish. The only thing red in my boat was the sock I brought along to take a picture of. I've delayed starting this second sock for about a month. This week I'll try to complete the pair.

The paddle back to the launch-site was hard work against the current and by this time of day it was extremely hot. I have a tendency to overheat easily and though I'd been careful to stay hydrated, it wasn't enough. As we were loading the kayaks and gear, I realized I'd gotten too hot. John and I had to cut our day in Matagorda short and head home so I could recuperate. It was disappointing to say the least, but we made up for it on Sunday after church with a return trip for lunch at Spoonbills and a drive on the beach...this time in the comfort of an air-conditioned Jeep.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Hot Off the Needles

A new batch of Curly Purly Soakers is finished!

Curly Purlys in a Row

Left to Right:
Lion Wool-Midnight Blue, Lion Wool-Winter White, Lion Wool-Cadet Blue, Cascade 220-Summer Sky, Cascade 220-Lime Heather

It's hard to beat this pattern--cute, quick to knit and fits well. My favorite way to knit them is to omit the short-row shaping and add 1/2" to the length. My friend was excited when I delivered them to her on Wednesday night.

A few weeks ago she expressed an interest in learning to knit, so I decided to look for a soaker pattern that would be well suited to a brand new knitter. Curly Purly might be considered beginner friendly to some, if you leave out the short rows, but it requires three different sizes of circular needles and a set of double pointed needles. That's a lot of money to invest in needles to start with, especially if you're not sure knitting is something you will even enjoy.

I found a pattern I thought would be better for a beginner and decided to test knit it.

1932 Ribbed Soaker

Pattern: 1932 Ribbed Soaker Pattern
Yarn: Cascade 220-Sage Heather
Needles: US 5 straight (and DPNs optional)

The design is simple: knit a long strip of 2x2 ribbing and sew along the sides leaving an opening for the legs.

Omitting the eyelet row and I-cord would make this soaker even easier for a beginner.

It is completely optional, as are the leg cuffs. I picked up the stitches for the cuffs after the body was sewn together and knit them in the round on DPNs. However, the stitches could be picked up and knit flat before seaming if you prefer.

The only drawback to this soaker is that it seems to take forever to knit. A new knitter might lose interest before it's finished. I almost did, but I kept slogging along until I reached the end...perhaps a simple baby bib is a better project to learn on.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Knitted Sheep

Small in size. Big on texture. This knitted sheep has it all--cables, twists, seed stitch and bobbles.

It's a sampler of sorts and that's what I love about it.

Pattern: Petite Sheep by Melanie Elizondo
Purchased At: Black Sheep Wool Co. for $4.00
Yarn: Dalegarn Heilo
Colors: Natural and Charcoal Gray
Needles: US 3 DPNs
Size: Small (4" tall x 6" in length)

I'd recommend this project to knitters with intermediate skills. It's involved, but because it's small, it can be finished relatively quickly. I spent three evenings on the knitting and saved the sewing and stuffing for the daylight hours. The finishing, by the way, is minimal--only two seams along the belly.

This was the first project I've ever knit that has bobbles and I really loved making them.

I changed the way the legs are finished. Instead of using the recommended U-bolt in each leg, I use chenille covered wires (pipe cleaners)--bent into a U-shape--two for each set of legs. This gives the legs structure like the bolt, without being heavy and floppy.

If you want a copy of this pattern, you will need to contact Black Sheep Wool Company. I believe this pattern is exclusive to their shop.

To give you a size perspective, I took a picture of the sheep with a knitting/sheep themed gift my neighbor gave me for taking care of her house while she was out of town.

Cottage Creations Pattern Books, Wool Wash,
Sheep Towel, Sheep Tape Measure

She's not a knitter, but she knows what I like!

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Fish Weren't Biting...

...but it was a wonderful weekend anyway because our daughter was home for a visit!

Robyn wanted to try kayaking for the first time. We put the boats in at Three Mile Lake for a paddle on Saturday, but it was so hot, we abandoned that pretty quickly in favor of relaxing on the beach.

Relaxing With a Book and Keeping Cool

That turned out to be a good idea. The breeze across the water kept it cool enough for us to enjoy being outside, even on one of the hottest days of the year. Summer is our extreme season for weather. Right now, we are in a hurricane watch as tropical storm Edouard heads our way. If it should become a hurricane, we will evacuate, so don't worry about us.

While Robyn was here, I asked her to teach me a few crochet basics. I want to learn to crochet so I can make the flowers in Crochet Bouquet, a new book written by my friend, Suzann Thompson. Robyn started me out with a pattern called Simple Five. I crocheted a few of these sweet flowers with varying degrees of success. I definitely need more practice.

Learning to Crochet

As we thumbed through the book, I noticed Robyn's eyes light up at all the interesting flower designs in this book. There are about 50 different patterns for flowers and foliage. Each pattern is rated with a skill level, so it's easy to know which ones are suitable for beginners like me. I could tell Robyn was itching to try some of the more detailed flowers, so I returned to my knitting and encouraged her to test out a few of the ones she liked. She worked from my stash of Cotton-Ease and came up with these.

Pretty Flowers

The pansy and the daffodil are her favorites. She gave Suzann's designs and directions a big thumbs up. If you like to crochet, you'll really enjoy this book.

Crocheted Daffodil

Those of you living in the Houston area will be interested to know that Suzann Thompson will be at Yarntopia on August 21 from 5-7 p.m. signing books and demonstrating some of her crochet flower techniques. Visit Suzann's book blog for more information.

I hope to improve my crochet skills by then. I'd love to be able to show Suzann a few flowers that I crocheted myself.

Friday, August 01, 2008

O is for Oleander

I was afraid of oleander shrubs when I was young.

The house I grew up in had an oleander in the backyard. I think the blossoms were red, but I'm not sure. The one thing I vividly remember though was that this shrub was off limits and we were not allowed to play near it. Oleander is poisonous if ingested and my parents didn't want to take any chances. I was convinced from their warnings that just touching the leaves was dangerous.

It's not surprising then to learn that I've never been a big fan of this shrub...until recently. I've noticed it's used a lot in landscaping in Matagorda and Palacios. It seems to grow effortlessly on the Texas Gulf coast and looks great in a beach setting. In my dreams I see myself living in a house near the beach one day with an oleander in the backyard. Hey, it could happen.