Saturday, September 30, 2017

London in May

It's odd.  The temperature drops, and suddenly I want yarn in my hands and I'm all about blogging.  I guess the summer must be over!  So I'm going to start by taking us back to when I fell off the radar in May, and talk about London.

As you may have guessed by now, my husband and I really enjoy London- it's a wonderful city to walk around in, full of museums and restaurants.  We've rather embraced the Samuel Johnston quote, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."   Seeing as this was a busy travel year, we decided that rather than rushing hither and yon, trying to cover new ground, that we would rather just stay in London, with perhaps occasional day trips.

Our first destination was the Borough Market, filled with good things to eat.  We weren't the only ones headed that way.

He appeared to be looking for friends, so we continued on to the market.  Our biggest problem there is there are so many choices!  I eventually settled on a roasted pork sandwich, and a bowl of fresh local fruit- it was strawberry season.

We did a lot of walking.  London in May is a fabulous time to see the gardens.   Here's St. James Park.

We were amused to see homesteaders setting up camp on the lake.

We hung out for a bit outside the Kensington Tube station (near our hotel) to hear some excellent Spanish guitar.

We took a train one day up to Peterborough for a day to visit with friends.  Their cats made us feel like quite one of the family.

We went to the Museum of Londons Docklands, to see an excellent exhibit on the archeological finds made during the construction of the new Crossrail Tube line.  As a feat of civil engineering alone it was amazing- 26 miles of new tunnel under London- construction started in 2009, and it will finish next year- on time and on budget.   But they not only built it- they had archeologists working with them at every step to preserve as much as possible of the artifacts they dug up in the process.  The deepest tunnels went well past any human habitation, but brought up 55 million year old fossilized amber and bones.  Every layer of the region's history was intersected by the excavations- from prehistoric, to Bronze age to Victorian and modern.
We also took a walking tour of the Canary Wharf area.  After fits and starts over the last 30 years, it's become very trendy and upscale.   I especially liked the new Crossrail station, which has an indoor garden featuring many of the plants brought from across the British Empire.

From there we walked down the Thames Path.  Most of the week was nice, but this was a particularly lovely day.
We happened on the site of the launching of the Great Eastern, which was the ship that laid the first Atlantic telegraph cable.   I'd read about it The Great Iron Ship by James Dugan many years ago.  (My dad is an amateur historian with a special interest in the Atlantic Cable.)   I hadn't realized the site still existed though, until we found it.

From there, we took the pedestrian tunnel to Greenwich, and had dinner, wandered about town and then headed back to the city center.    And here I'll break- this covers the first few days of the trip.  I've broken this into sections rather than trying to give a day by day, meal by meal account!

The slideshow:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fall KAL Entry

So, it's nearly a month after I've returned from my travels, and I'm still playing catch up.  However,  I am not so behindmost that I could pass up a fall-themed KAL.    Whether I'm going to finish while it's still fall remains to be seen.   However I figured I could a least put up a pic of my entry.
Uncharacteristically for me, it's a shawl.  I don't actually know what the yarn is- it's laceweight, I have a lot of it, and I plan to use it all (unless it turns out that it makes a shawl eighteen feet long in which case I will cast off at 60 inches or so).   And I think it's autumny- a lovely reddish brown, like oak leaves.

I'm thinking it will be just the thing to keep me from shivering like a leaf in the ice cold conference room at work. (Unless it's a day when the ice cold conference room is overheated and my coworkers and I swelter in it instead.  It likes to keep us off balance.  Kind of like fall.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

This Always Happens to Me

Along about the beginning of summer, I add pool and yard and entertaining and visiting relatives to my agenda, and the blog kind of falls off the map.  And then I get the email from my mom, asking if I'm still alive, and if so, have I given up on the blog?  And well, no.  Because I need to babble about crafts somewhere, so my husband and non-knitting friends don't start giving me The Look.  (You know what I mean, right?)

Anyway- while blogging may have fallen off the map for a while, crafting has only slowed down slightly, on account of it being able to travel.   Yesterday I was at the New Bedford Folk Music Festival, and between that and my husband generously doing all the driving, I got some things finished.   The navy socks:
Yes,  they still don't photograph as dark as they are.

Naturally, I had to start a new pair of socks, in the Cascade Heritage Paint I picked up at Webs a few weeks ago.  Very patriotic, I thought.

I finally wove in all the (zillions of interminable) ends on the green and white baby blanket.
It was so intimidating, I couldn't even think about how many there were.  I just assumed I'd be doing it forever, worked through a bunch, went back to the sock for while, did a bunch more ends.  And eventually I didn't see any more!

Since I brought most of my WIPs with me, I didn't actually get to work on everything, but
I did cast on another mitten, the second one of the pair.

Those will go to join the mittens I made last month, which have already been donated.

There was also a random cotton baby blanket that happened and has already been given away.  It's more of the coned yarn I was given a few years ago, and there's approximately enough of it to knit a cozy for the state of Rhode Island, so you'll be seeing more of it in the future.

As for the rest of the household, they've also been busy.  Here's Cookie, when he was impatiently waiting for guests to arrive for our three-day Fourth of July BBQ.  (Cookie loves company.)

Biscuit has been supervising the construction of a new control panel for my husband's train layout.

And Jake has been busy dodging photographers and stalking my dinner plate.  (He has an inexplicable passion for tomato sauce.  I keep telling him that he's a carnivore, but it never discourages him.)

Anyway, I haven't forgotten the England photos, but I'm still working on the captioning, so those will be up in a future post.   Hope you're having a wonderfully crafty summer- and a good time, whatever you're up to.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

So There

The wireless router on my home network has now been replaced.  So I can go from trying to resurrect the dead router to my regularly scheduled coughing, cursing this dang cold, knitting and (I hope) finishing editing the latest batch of England vacation photos to show you.   A teaser:

Cavalry Day festivities in London

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Big Needles, Thick Yarn...

..makes for a zippity project.

Knit, ends woven in, gifted in three days.  And now I'm on to the next!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Year of the Round Tuit

So, I tend more toward goalsetting than resolutions for the new year, which may be why it took so long to realize what this year is.   Yes.   I have a round tuit.

And apparently this is the year I am finally putting it to use.  Witness-

  • I have been meaning to get to western national parks for around 20 years.  Check.
  • Have been meaning to do more weekend trips.  So far this year, I have been to NYC and Toronto.  Check.  
  • I have been meaning to get to FilkOntario (a music event) for about 20 years.  Check- that was this past weekend.  
  • I have been meaning to make socks with that navy yarn.   Check.
This is closer to the true color of the yarn, but it's still darker than it seems in photos. 
  • A second pair is on the needles as a traveling project. 

  • I've been meaning to turn those four inherited strips into an afghan.  I knit five more and used up another random ball of yarn for the border.  Check.  (Still need to weave ends in, but it's almost there.)
          I will note here that I wound up grafting the strips.  I tried a three needle bind off first.
          But it just didn't look right.  See the seam abover the two rows of garter?
          Grafting gave it a much smoother finish.  Plus?  After all that grafting, I've gotten faster. 
  • I wanted to use up random odds and ends of yarn.  Now one of the problems with this, is that one small ball of novelty yarn can be hard to find a use for.  But my mom gave me several more skeins a couple of weeks ago.  And with that, we have a project.  In this case, a cowl. 
  • I have cast on a....well, I'm not sure.  Could be a baby blanket, could be a bathmat. But it's using some of a vast cone of cotton I've had lying around. 
  • A few weeks ago, I darned an entire basket of socks that had been awaiting attention.  And as if that wasn't enough, I had a pair of cotton socks that I had made short, thinking they would be summer socks.  But the yarn was too heavy for summer wear and yet the socks were not tall enough to keep my ankles warm in cooler weather.  But I had yarn left, so I unpicked the bind-off and lengthened them, rendering them wearable. 
  • I have been meaning to finish ironing and sorting my quilting stash.  Almost complete- the last of it has been ironed and is waiting to be sorted.  After which, I am going to start laying out a new quilt- the first one in approximately forever.  (Actually, I finished the last quilt for a charity auction in 2006, but have done nothing since.)

And then in the FO department, there have been a few random things I've done.  A couple of pairs of adult mittens.

And another pair of kid mittens. Which has reduced the brown skein down to less than one mitten's worth of yarn.  

I'm feeling pretty good about the year so far.  I've made an actual dent in the deep stash, and progress is continuing.    We have two more trips planned for this year- one of which will be another 'we've been meaning to do this forever' trip.   And I've got ambitions.  This might well be the year we finally get out to Tanglewood, for example.    I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Part the Last: Canyonlands

While Arches is about natural stone formations, some quite large, they are on a scale that humans can at least relate to.  Canyonlands is about landscape on the macro scale.  The canyons of the name were carved by the Green and Colorado Rivers, and they rival the Grand Canyon for sheer multi-level vastness.

We only visited one section of the enormous park, and were conscious of giving it short shrift.  It was the tradeoff for having taken scenic route 12 instead of a faster route, and spending a day and a half in Arches.  The above photo was taken from the Grand View lookout on the Islands in the Sky mesa. There were three other major sections of the park we didn't see at all.

We took a short hike out to see Upheaval Dome.   It's a crater-like feature whose origin has been hotly debated by geologists- the two leading theories are an uplifted salt dome, or an impact crater from a meteorite strike.  The meteorite theory is currently ascendant.

The day was beautiful and we cruised around the park with the top down on the convertible as we drove from point to point.   We hiked out to Murphy Point.  The trail led through grassland, quite unlike anything else we'd seen in the area.  And thin and tough as it was, you could see why cattle were grazed there (and still are- we passed a number of them, and had to let them cross the road ahead of us at one point).

As we approached the rim, the grassland suddenly stopped and the land turned into desert again.

The views were staggering.
Here's the Green River canyon seen from Murphy's Point.
In the far distance we could see the La Sal mountains (the name dates back to the Spanish and means 'salt').  We sadly left the park as the sun was going down.

And that was the trip- we drove back through the Rocky Mountains to Denver, with a stop in Vail for lunch (it was very posh, and I had to take a photo of the ski slope for a ski-obsessed coworker).   We walked around and had dinner in Denver and then flew home the next morning.   Which was blessedly on time and uneventful.  There was a blizzard predicted in Boston for the next day so I wound up stopping by my office for my work computer so I wouldn't have to go in the next day.  And then the day after *that* my office didn't have power (kind of a pity we hadn't just stayed and seen more West for a couple of days).  But it all worked out.

And- since I know you're wondering- I took a pair of socks with me on the trip, and they still aren't done!  (It has been a busy few weeks, and crafting time has been at a premium.)  But I'll show you various things-in-progress Real Soon Now.

And- the last slideshow:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Part the Sixth: Arches

We arrived in Moab in time for lunch, and unlike Panguitch, found it lively and filled with restaurants, art galleries and a charming bookstore.   We got a quick lunch and headed back to the park, where we saw the visitors center and set out to begin exploring the park.

Arches has the highest concentration of natural rock arches anywhere in the world- over 2000 of them.   The area was a sea 300 million years ago, and successive cycles of drying and inundation deposited a layer of salt that is thousands of feet thick in places.  Sediment deposited on top of it was compressed and and became layers of sandstone.   The weight of the rock forced the salt to flow, and raise up layers of rocks in salt domes.  The layers cracked and subsided, leaving long fins of rock.  After years of erosion, the fins became separated and softer layers collapsed underneath leaving freestanding arches of harder material above.   It's a process that is ongoing, as new arches grow and the oldest ones collapse.

In between the arches and rock formations, the desert stretched out, stark and beautiful.

It was important to stay on the trails, because the life in the desert may withstand heat, cold and lack of water, but not people trampling it.   Particularly vulnerable is the 'biological soil crust'- a collection of algae, moss, bacteria, lichen and fungi that collect on the surface, trapping moisture and making soil that other plants can then use for nutrients.

As in other parks, the colors were fabulous.

We were very struck by slabs of an odd greenish rock we couldn't identify.   A ranger told us later that the rock was chert and the green color was unreduced iron.  (Oxidized iron is what gives us red rock- I hadn't realized that that unoxidized iron would color rock green.)

Everwhere we looked, we saw fantastically shaped rock.
Or fantastically shaped wood.
We saw all the 'major' sites- such as Balanced Rock:
But even the smallest details were eyecatching.  The trail called Park Avenue is a dry riverbed, and the water has cut and swirled the rock, exposing striking strata.
We spent all afternoon, had dinner in Moab, and returned the next day for more.  In the morning my camera batteries died, so I took photos with my phone until lunch when we went back to town and I could get more batteries. 

Despite the difficult conditions, plants managed to survive.  This little clump of flowers was growing in the middle of the trail. 

Of all the parks we visited, Arches was my favorite, but not because of the arches- it was just something about the vistas, the openness,  the colors and the shape of the scenery.  

We returned to town reluctantly and sought out dinner.  The next day would be our last day in Utah. 

The Arches slideshow: