Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Weekly Hike #6: Never Again!

This is going to be a very short post. The hike that we did, West Tiger Mountain Summit, was not a fun hike. Here are the reasons why:

  • The trail was very steep.
  • The last quarter mile was covered with a lot of loose rock, which was especially treacherous on the way down.
  • It was cold and misty at the top, so there was no view.
  • The hike took way too long, and then we had to wait until we got home to eat lunch.
  • Hungry = Grumpy.
I did see some photo-worthy scenes on the hike however, so I'll leave you with those. Don't worry, the next hike is so much better!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weekly Hikes #4 and #5: Opposite Sides of the Same Valley

Don't worry, I'm not going to do any more of these "twofer" hikes, but these two occurred so close together in both distance and time that I decided to cover them in the same post. The valley in the title is the Snoqualmie Valley, and the two hikes in question are the west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail, which we hiked on May 31, and Little Mount Si, hiked on June 6.

I hiked the west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail a couple times last year, but this was the first time I've done it in the spring, with the accompanying new growth and seasonal bright greens.

This view is near the start of the hike. I love how the sun casts shadows of the alder trees on the trail. As we hiked further, we came upon hints of summer bounty to come.

This is a just-opened thimbleberry blossom, that will become a sweet red berry by early August.

Most of the forests in the foothills of the Cascade Range were once covered with Old Growth forest, which was, sadly, logged many years ago. You can still see evidence of those forests along many trails, and this one is no exception.

Here you can see the base of one of the giant Douglas firs that once covered these slopes, with much younger trees next to it and nearby. The stump and roots of this huge tree probably provided nourishment for the surrounding  trees when they were seedlings. Maybe, if we are lucky, these trees will someday be giants like their predecessor.

On June 6, a beautiful sunny day, we did our annual hike up Little Mount Si. Mr. D and I have been doing this hike at least once a season for almost as long as we've known each other. The hike is relatively easy, with only one steep and rocky section, the last quarter-mile before the summit. Once on the summit, there are some spectacular views of the Snoqualmie Valley and the surrounding foothills. That's Rattlesnake Mountain underneath that one little cloud. The notch on the left end is Rattlesnake Ledge.

We always take a few minutes to enjoy the view and have a snack before heading back down.

On this hike, I saw two metal markers—one is in the photo below—attached to rocks on the summit. I'm sure that they have been there before, but perhaps I'm more aware of my surroundings than I have been in the past—I'd like to think so, anyway! Wikipedia tells me that the markers are used for land surveying. You can read more about the markers here.

As you can see from these two hikes, we had some perfect late spring hiking weather. Next up is a hike that wasn't so perfect, followed by the first hike of the summer. I'll be back soon to tell you all about both of them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spectacular Cabled Socks

Can you believe I knit these socks? I almost can't, and yet, I did! These are my recently completed Hazel Knits mystery socks, in the Tree People pattern, designed by Heidi Nick. This is, by far, the most cabled project I've ever knit, not to mention the only mystery sock I've ever finished. It's also the first time I've ever taken apart a grafted toe, ripped and tinked back and reknit that toe for a better fit. I'm so proud of myself!

The yarn is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in the Conch colorway. I love how it is almost the exact same color as the rhododendron blossoms that were blooming outside in my garden as I was knitting: perfect serendipity!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Blue, Blue, Blue, Some Green and a Bit of Pink

Before spring is officially over—only a little over a week until summer begins—I want to share a spring adventure/day trip that Mr. D and I went on a few weeks ago. I happened to see in the newspaper that a special event was happening at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden on Saturday, May 17. We have been out to the garden twice before, but never on this special day.

And what was the special day, you ask? It was Blue Poppy Day! The garden contains a meadow planted in Himalayan Blue Poppies (Meconopsis). These relatively rare plants are a perfect true blue, and so beautiful! Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some of the blue poppies that I saw and photographed:

Aren't these blue beauties spectacular? Definitely worth having a whole day to celebrate their appearance.

The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden also has a delightful fern garden, and Mr. D and I spent part of our time wandering there, and enjoying the green of the new ferns.

I'm sure you are wondering if there were any rhododendrons blooming, given the focus of this garden. Well, there were (many!), and here's one:

I know we will return to the Rhododendron Species Botanical garden in future springs, and I will share more of the wonders of this place with you when that happens.

In upcoming posts: Three more hikes, and new socks!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Weekly Hikes #2 and #3: Two Sides of the Same Place

We have been having some beautiful weather down here in the lowlands, but it is still very snowy up in the mountains, which limits the options for places to hike. For my second and third weekly hikes of this hiking season, Mr. D and I went to Cougar Mountain both times, but our hikes started out from two different trailheads, and we did explore a trail that we had never been on.

On May 7th, we set out from the Sky Country trailhead, where we have started a lot of our shorter hikes in the winter and early spring this year. We did most of our usual trail, but then we took side trail, mostly downhill, that neither of us had ever been on. This trail went a long, long way to the park boundary. At the park boundary, we turned around, and it became a long, long uphill trail:

That's Mr. D ahead of me on the trail. The woods were beautiful with their spring green, but it was definitely a slog on a hot day.

The hike wasn't completely a slog, however. There was a wild Pacific Bleeding Heart blooming alongside the trail, and sunlight backlighting the Vine Maple leaves above.

Six days later, Mr. D and I set out for a hike on another beautiful sunny day. We had intended to hike the west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail, but we forgot to bring our annual Discover Pass, so we opted for Cougar Mountain instead. This time, we decided to start at the Red Town trailhead, where I hadn't hiked in almost a year. Because it had been so long, some of the trail felt brand new to me. We took a side trail to look at the meadow restoration project, where there were scads of wildflowers in bloom. I'm not sure what this one is, but I loved that shade of blue.

There was also something really wonderful about the angle of light, and the amazing circular shadows on the trail.

Sometimes even the familiar can become new...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Weekly Hike #1: The Hiking Season Has Started!

I have been meaning to get the new hiking season started on the blog for the last three weeks, and now I am finally doing it. In between a lot of rain—yesterday we set a new record for rainfall for February through July (in May)—Mr D and I have gone on three hikes.

The first of these hikes happened on April 30, a gorgeous, sunny day. We had a lot of things going on at home that day, so we opted for a short hike (about 5 miles round trip) up to Rattlesnake Ledge in the morning. It was a Wednesday, so we thought that it wouldn't be too crowded, and it wasn't, but we still saw a lot of people on the way up and down and at the top. I don't think that hike is ever completely solitary...

Because the hike was planned to be short, I took very few photographs, but it wouldn't be a hike to the Ledge without a shot of the spectacular view across the Snoqualmie Valley to Mount Si:

The only other photo I took happened at the end of the hike, on the shore of beautiful Rattlesnake Lake. What a vista!

I know this isn't the most exciting hiking post, but there are more hikes on the horizon, so stay tuned!

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Fortnight of Finishing

Do you know the word "fortnight"? The dictionary defines it "a period of two weeks." It may be due my fondness for English novels, where this word is often seen, but I am always looking for a good excuse to use it.

Happily for me, the last fortnight has been full of finished objects: a total of 5 major projects and one minor project have made the last two weeks of my knitting very satisfying. Are you ready for the reveal? Here we go!

On April 20, after months and months, I finally finished my I'm in Focus, Veera Välimäki's design, Shift of Focus. I cast it on last September, so it took over 7 months to complete. It was A LOT of garter stitch! That being said, I really like the finished cardigan, and I love, love, love the yarn, Hazel Knits DK Lively in the Queen of the Night colorway. This was the project that got a bit of a sneak peek in the last post, and here is the finished photo:

On April 22, I finished a project that had been on the needles since early February, a sock project that I called That Crafty Honey Badger! The pattern is Honey Badger by Irishgirlieknits, and the yarn is Socks That Rock Lightweight in the Paula Mae—A Night at the Show colorway.  I won the yarn in 2012 in a KAL drawing in the Irishgirlieknits Ravelry group, so I knew I had to knit one of her patterns with the yarn. The pattern was easy but interesting, and I love how the socks turned out. I will definitely knit these socks again.

Next up was my Shades of Purple Beret, finished on April 23. I purchased the yarn, The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering, at WEBS on my annual November visit. I purchased it with the pattern, Kate Gagnon Osborn's En Blekksprut Beret, in mind. I'm really proud of myself for not waiting a year or two to knit it! I'm also finding that I am really getting to like stranded knitting. I may even embark on another two color project later this year, so stay tuned. Here is the finished beret:

The following day, April 24, I finished Sending a Little Love With Castanets, Melissa J. Goodale's shawl pattern, Castanets. I knit this for the March-April Hazel Knits knit along. The idea behind the KAL was to find a pattern that was at least six months old and that had less than 25 projects. Extra points were assigned for stash yarn more than a year old (definitely!) and a colorway (Sapphire) not part of the Hazel Knits lineup. My project was number 17 for the pattern, but I notice that there are now 27, so maybe it is getting some more love. It certainly should, because it is an interesting pattern and such a pretty shawl! Mel has some variations to the pattern (garter stitch instead of stockinette, a larger size and a two-color version) that I may try in the future. I will definitely knit this pattern again sometime!

On May 1, I finished my car project, which I called The Most Boring Car Project Ever. No, it wasn't the pattern, Ann Budd's 8 Stitches Per Inch Socks (my go-to plain vanilla pattern), that was boring; it was the yarn. For the past several months, I have been knitting my car project socks in self-striping and self-patterning yarn (see my knitting goals for 2014 for more on this), and I had thrown this yarn into the hopper for that effort. Mistake! The yarn was definitely not self-patterning and so boring, although the finished socks look nice. Here they are:

On May 2, I finished the last of the fortnight's projects, Dishcloth Thank You Gift, two cotton dishcloths for my friends, Jill and Dick. We had dinner with them a couple weeks ago, and Jill gave me four big balls of Lion Brand Cotton dishcloth yarn that a friend who had stayed with them for a few months left behind when she moved out. Dick mentioned that they hadn't had any hand knit dishcloths since Jill's aunt died a few years ago, and I thought what better thing to send along with a thank you note than two dishcloths! I knit one using the Grandmother's Favorite pattern, and the other using Variation on a Theme, which is a pattern based on Grandmother's Favorite. I'm not a grandmother, but these two patterns are definitely my dishcloth favorites! Here they are, Grandmother's Favorite on the left and Variation on a Theme on the right.

The fortnight is now over, and I don't expect that there will be any finished objects for a while, but keep an eye on the blog for some in-progress knitting coming up soon.

In the meantime, happy knitting!