Monday, December 24, 2012

Feeling Christmas

Christmas isn't a season, it's a feeling.

- Edna Ferber

Best wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas and all that's good in the New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #27: Take the High Line

You may remember from last year, that on the morning after Thanksgiving, Mr. D and I always take the train into New York City from my in-law's town in New Jersey and we have an adventure before meeting the rest of the family for a matinee of a musical. Last year we had a wonderful wander in Central Park, and this year we explored the High Line.

If you aren't familiar with the High Line, it's a former elevated railroad track that has been turned into a twenty block-long park on the West Side of Manhattan. Before seeing it, I couldn't quite imagine what it was like, and after actually walking the whole length of it, all I can say is that it totally exceeded my expectations!

Let me take you along with me on a photo tour...

Start at the northern end, at West 31st street.

Then follow the walkway.

Notice the vestiges of the past.

Enjoy the art.

And finally, revel in the special magic that is New York City!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cutting it Close

The Merrily cowl pattern said 300 yards. The yarn label said 300 yards (and I don't believe it). I am not a loose knitter. But despite all of these statements, I had to leave off one whole lace repeat on my But a Dream cowl, and, weighing the yarn after each round, eliminate three rounds from the final border. Whew, I just made it!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #26: Smoky

Wow, it's been a while since my last post, hasn't it? Well, there is a reason for that, and I'll share it soon in an upcoming post.

Today I want to share some photos from our annual hike at Paradise on Mount Rainier. It was very different from our day there last year, even though it was only three days later than last year. First of all, due to a very hot and dry August and September, the wildflowers had already bloomed, and were mostly gone. Secondly, there was this:

That haze you see draping the Tatoosh Range is smoke. Severe wildfires in eastern Washington caused heavy smoke to drift over the Cascades and envelop Mount Rainier. The air quality improved as the day went on, but we were always able to see (and smell) the smoke.

The smoke didn't stop us, and we still were able to hike up as far as Panorama Point, elevation 6,800 feet, to our usual picnic spot. Here are some images from the hike up:

At Panorama Point, the view wasn't as spectacular as in other years, but I did see something there that I have never seen before: a cairn! (You know how I love cairns...)

We also saw a rather daunting sign next to the route across the snowfields:

Even though the air was smoky and the wildflower season was almost over, we found beauty to enjoy. It is still Paradise, after all.

Friday, November 9, 2012

So Many Shawls

I love shawls. I love knitting shawls.  I love knitting shawls almost as much as I love knitting socks. So, as all of these statements are true, why haven't I shared very many shawl projects here on the blog? I don't really know the answer (except that I have been focusing more on hiking lately), but I am going to rectify that situation by telling you about some of the shawls I have recently knit. (All project links are to Ravelry.)

I'm going to start with my favorite shawl of 2012: Deep Green Waves. The pattern is Ebbtide by Elizabeth Doherty. You might remember my earlier post where I talked about meeting Elizabeth at Sock Summit and Madrona and seeing this shawl in person, not once, but twice. Shortly after I saw her at Madrona, Elizabeth gave me the pattern as a gift, and I immediately cast on. I loved knitting it; the directions were clear and the charts easy to follow. The finished shawl is just spectacular, and I find myself plotting my outfits based on having excuses to wear it. I've included two photos here so you can see me wearing it and so you can also get a sense of the true color of the Skinny Bugga yarn. (The one of me shows the shawl as being teal/almost turquoise rather than green.) The second photo also provides a closer view of the beautiful sand-dollar edging and the unique center spine—wonderful embellishments that were both fun to knit.

Up next is my Blue Crescent Moon. The pattern is the Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette, designed by Jaala Spiro. This shawl couldn't be more different than Ebbtide, and it isn't a coincidence that I cast it on the day after I finished my Ebbtide. The pattern is mostly garter stitch, punctuated periodically with yarnovers. It's knit in Noro Silk Garden on size 9 (5.5 mm) needles. This is probably the fastest shawl I've ever knit—cast-on to bind-off in less than two weeks. I wasn't sure when I finished it how much I would actually wear it, but it turns out that I wear it a lot. It has a permanent spot hanging over the back of the loveseat in our basement family room, and since the weather has turned cold, I grab it to put around my shoulders to wear around the house almost daily. (I'm wearing it as I write this!) It also coordinates so well with many of my casual long-sleeved tees that I can see knitting another one in different coordinating colors in the near future.

The next shawl that I cast on, the day after finishing the Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette, was Wholehearted, designed by Erika Flory. The pattern was given to me as a giveaway prize by Andi, one of my favorite bloggers.  (Be sure to check out her blog, My Sister's Knitter.) My Happy Heart was knit in two gorgeous shades of madelinetosh Merino Light. The pattern was easy, and should have been another quick knit, except for the fact that I had two gift knits that took precedence during much of the summer. When I finally picked this up again in late September, it flew off the needles. It is going to become a Christmas gift for a friend who has had a rough year.

My most recent finished shawl is Summer Soul Food, the Balm to the Soul Shawlette, designed by Jaala Spiro. This project was originally part of a knitalong, but, due to the aforementioned gift knitting, I didn't finish this until long after the KAL was over. The yarn I used is Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed in a lovely dusty rose colorway called Paper Rose. I finished knitting this in early October, right after I found out that a dear friend had suffered a freak accident and had broken her pelvis in two places. It was a perfect gift to send off to her with some chocolate to provide a little balm to her soul while she recovers.

So, is that the end of shawls on the blog? Not hardly! Sixteen of the twenty-nine items in my queue are shawls, and there does happen to be one on the needles right now. Here's a sneak peek; I'll come back to tell you more about it when it's finished.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I'm woefully behind on telling you about my knitting, and I have at least three hikes that I haven't shared, but today is Halloween, one of my favorite holidays of the year, so I thought it would be fun to post some of my favorite Halloween photos. Have a wonderful, scary, spooky, ghostly and happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #25: The Last Swiss Hike

All good things must come to an end, so on Sunday, August 26, we set out on our last hike in Switzerland. Mr. D and I were joined by one of the sisters-in-law and the niece. We started out from Pontresina this time, heading toward Muottas da Schlarigna, a mountain high above the village. Before we even left Pontresina, we saw a typical Swiss morning scene—the airing of the featherbed.

Not long after seeing this, we left the village behind and started to climb, and climb and CLIMB. After about two hours, and right about lunchtime, we reached the highest point of our hike. The views were fantastic!

There were cairns everywhere, and you know how I love cairns. I even added my contribution to one of them.

After enjoying the beautiful views and eating our lunch, we set out again. Our original destination was a small lake that was at the end of a trail that branched off from the main trail, but the going got a lot slower from this point on. Due to the heavy rains of the last few nights, there were several little streams that suddenly weren't so little anymore, not to mention mud and many slippery spots. We did walk through a beautiful forest, and saw trees like this one, clinging to the mountainside.

When we finally reached the turnoff to the lake, Mr. D and I decided to stay on the main trail and head down to Bad St. Moritz, and from there walk on to St. Moritz to catch the bus back to Pontresina. The sister-in-law and the niece continued on to the lake, and they didn't get back to Pontresina for almost another three hours (but they said the lake was beautiful). Even with skipping the lake, we hiked for another hour, and after reaching the end of the trail, it took another half-hour to get to St. Moritz. Though I was tired by this time, there were still some beautiful views to enjoy in Bad St. Moritz, including this one:

It was the perfect end to my hiking adventures in Switzerland.

This may be the last of my hiking adventures, but I had many more adventures on the trip. I will share some of my favorites with you in the coming months.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #24: Public Transportation and Hiking

Our next Swiss hike was one of my favorites of the whole trip. Before I share photographs from the day, I have to tell you about how we got to the start of the hike. First, we took a bus from Pontresina to Celerina, a nearby town. Then half of our group (Mr. D, the adult nephews and niece, a nephew's girlfriend and her friend, visiting for the day from Italy) started up the mountain on foot. My mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, the seven year-old nephew and I took the cable car up to Marguns, where we started our hike. Why am I telling you about how we got to the hike? Well, thanks to a transportation pass provided by the hotel, all of the public transportation was free! In fact, every train, bus, cable car and ski lift that we took while in Pontresina was completely free. What a wonderful perk from our hotel!

Anyway, from Marguns, we planned to take a short but steep trail up to Corviglia. If all worked out as planned, both hiking groups should arrive there at about the same time. I started hiking with my mother-in-law, who, at 84, is a slow, but steady walker. My sisters-in-law and nephew paused for a few minutes at the little playground at Marguns.

The trail we took was well marked and easy to follow.

We passed by a pretty little stream running down the mountain. I've included a bit of video, so you can experience this small part of the hike with me. (That's my mother-in-law hiking above me on the trail.)


After a while, the rest of our group caught up with my mother-in-law and me. Here they all are:

The views of the mountains as well as the small details of the landscape were spectacular.

After about two hours of hiking, we reached Corviglia, and within ten minutes, the rest of our group arrived, too. From Corviglia, we took another cable car (more public transportation!) to the top of Piz Nair, where the views were, once again, spectacular. Here is my favorite scene, a life-size sculpture of a steinbock, perched at the very top of the mountain.

After we enjoyed a satisfying lunch of Bundner Gerstensuppe, a barley and bean soup, we headed back down the mountain, taking the cable car the whole way down.

A great way to end another wonderful day of hiking in the Alps!