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.