Monday, August 29, 2005

Photos from Alaska trip

Our last day in port was at Ketchikan. This was the only day of the trip that we had rain. As a matter of fact, the clouds were so low that day that we were unable to make our excursion to see bears. There was plenty to see & do in Ketchikan, though. It reminded me of LaConner WA on steroids. Doug scoped out potential fishing charters, while I visited . . . well, you know where I ended up.

Glacial waters of Alaska

Glacial waters are opaque. This was a real surprise to me. The glaciers contain a lot of silt. When the ice breaks off & melts the silt gives it a cloudy or milky appearance. Another thing I hadn't realized is the variation in the colors of the water - from jade green, to bright aqua, to pale taupe. The inner parts of icebergs are brilliant clear blue, brighter & darker than baby blue. . . nearly an intense sky blue.

We took an excursion up to White Pass from Skagway. Summit Lake, along the way, was surrounded by small trees, and rocks which had been placed by previous visitors, into small structures. If I could add anything to photographs of this lake, it would be "smellavision". . . the scent of the trees and wonderfully fresh mountain air. You just have to go there & experience it.

Photos from Alaska

Hi guys - Thought I'd post a few photos from our recent trip. Alaska is truly gorgeous & we hope to go back someday. In the meantime, we have a lot of wonderful memories of the trip with Doug's folks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

This is the Life

Knitting on the deck of the Zaandam, as we depart for Alaska . . . what a life! I was working on a lace sock pattern, the weather was perfect, and we found a complimentary bottle of champagne in our cabin when we arrived. What else could we ask for? Porpoises! Dahl porpoises, once we got underway, following along in the wake of the ship! Oh My Gosh! Wish I could have gotten a photo, but with my zoom they just looked like little elongated blobs. Knitting on . . .

Monday, August 22, 2005

Flower Basket Shawl

Okay, guys - Theoretically, this should be a photo of the recently completed Flower Basket shawl. As I mentioned in a previous post, adding photos to the blog is an entirely new process for me. As I attempted to retrieve this particular one by its assigned JPG #, I came up with a picture of a guy performing in a rock band. What concert was that? I don't have a clue. Anyway, getting back to the shawl, I can just hope that I've gotten the correct file uploaded, and that it's something you'll like to see.

The shawl was made of yarn I bought at Artfibers in San Francisco. It was a delight to work with, and the pattern, being relatively uncomplicated, was just the right amount of challenge for my lace-impaired pea brain. Enjoy!

Friday, August 05, 2005

YO's & TOG's, or "Adventures in Lace Knitting"

It's been a long time since I've posted. Sorry 'bout that. I've been wanting to post some photos on the blog, but haven't figured out how to do it yet. As a matter of fact, just yesterday, figured out where to put in the card on my new camera. It's a learning process, with many baby steps, which involves "spare time" (whatever that might be). In the meantime, words will have to suffice.

I'm happy to say that the Flower Basket Shawl (Interweave Knits, Fall 2004) is now soaking & ready for blocking. Lace knitting has been a real challenge for me, to say the least. This project was manageable, with a little help from friends along the way, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The yarn was from Artfibers in San Francisco, a very fine mohair confection in a taupey color. I used two strands. It will be going to live with a friend in Tennessee (shhhh, don't tell her, it's supposed to be a surprise). I'd just like to say that it's been a real learning experience. I've got a loooong way to go to attain lace knitting expertise, but this little project has been a good, moderately challenging endeavor.

Let me first tell you how NOT to start knitting lace. Last year, I picked up a pattern for the Pacific Northwest Shawl, a lovely Fiber Trends pattern which includes seagulls, trees, and fish among its motifs. "Very easy pattern" remarked a friend. "You should have no trouble with that." Well, yes, the pattern should be manageable. But wait - let's make it a bit more difficult - how about LACE WEIGHT YARN. Oops. This was the first in my series of errors. Not a great idea for a newbie lace knitter. Did you know you can use heavier yarn to make lace? (I didn't.) Even the cast-on had me bogged down. Did you know that if you're going to make a triangle shawl, you start by making a little tiny square & knitting around three sides of it? Who knew? As the PNW progressed, seagulls mutated into asymmetrical squiggles, and after a very short time, the shawl went to live in a bag. It's been there for over a year, while I did some smaller and easier projects to build up a bit of skill.

The things I've learned so far about lace knitting:

1. You don't have to use lace weight yarn! Best to start with something heavier, like worsted weight. A dishrag is a great practice piece - just cast on 4 - 5 border stitches at the beginning & end of the piece, make a couple of lace pattern repeats in between & you can try out a pattern & have a useable product at the end.
2. YO's migrate. They like to hide under adjacent stitches & get knitted together when you least expect it. . .devious little twerps. . . which of course, throws off the pattern & stitch count in your motif. That's why it helps to count stitches in each pattern repeat, each row. Markers between motifs help, too. Of course, when you become more experienced, you'll be able to "read" your knitting & see where your errors are (at least, that's what I've been told. . . I've not arrived there yet).
3. Circular needles can complicate matters a bit. Just having that narrower section of plastic cable changes the tension on the stitches enough to make #2 above occur more easily. That doesn't even take into account sticky joins between the needle & cable on the needle. Which is why I've gone to straight needles (well, I did need *some* reason to splurge on all those gorgeous Lantern Moon needles) on relatively narrow projects.
4. If you need to repair a mistake, you do not need to frog entire rows (unless, of course, the entire row is just one huge error. . . it happens). It works very well to isolate the problem stitches, pick up the corresponding stitches in the row just below the error (using a smaller gauge dp), and drop only the affected stitches from the top needle. You wind up ravelling just a few stitches for just a few rows (if you catch the error in time). Then, using a smaller dp, re-knit, row by row, correcting the pattern, until you get all the stitches knitted back up to the top needle. Last, even out the tension on all the new stitches.
5. I need good light, and good concentration to knit lace accurately. I've gone to using a headlamp (okay, stop snickering there) if the day & lighting is not bright enough. Ideal situation - a couple cups of coffee, moderate sunlight, a non-migraine day, & never after a glass of wine. Don't drink & knit. (Also, don't drive & knit - just a reminder to my friend, Janice.)

Perhaps the PNW will emerge from the bag again soon. The last time I looked at it, the mutant seagull wing was so apparent that it could have been knitted in neon. I think I can fix it now.

Good luck & happy knitting!