Monday, December 30, 2013

Knitting Highlights of 2013

Only two days until 2014 begins, so it's a good time to look back at my knitting in 2013. It's particularly important that I do this, because the knitting posts have been few and far between this year. To make up for that lack at least a little bit, I going to share some of my favorite knitting projects from 2013, and add a promise that there will be much more knitting content on the blog in 2014.

So here is the whirlwind tour of my knitting year. Links are to my Ravelry project pages.

Hats: I knit more hats this year than in any other year since I returned to knitting in 2008. Below are a few of them.

The Mr. D Hat and The Matt Hat.  The pattern is BRRH! (Basic Reversible Ribbed Hat), designed by WillyG. The two clowns in the photo are each modeling one side of said hat.

The Baby-to-Be Hat, which I knit for my friend Emily, who gave birth to Oscar in late November. The pattern is Rhythm, designed by Stick Chick Knits, Melissa J. Goodale.

Over the past two months, I've been knitting hats for Halos of Hope, a wonderful organization that provides hats to people going through chemotherapy. So far I've knit three hats, and I have another one on the needles. The hat in the photo is Marly Bird's Gerri Hat, my Halos of Hope Hat #1, modeled by me.

Scarves and Cowls: I knit three scarves (two of them lingering WIPs, one from 2011 and one from 2012) and three cowls. Here are photos of my two favorites.

This is my Zig-Zagging Around the World, started on our European trip in August 2012, and finally finished in May. The pattern is Zig-Zag Wanderer, designed by Kimley Maretzo.

This is my Berry Breeze Cowl, the Summer Wind pattern, designed by Carrie Sullivan, Irishgirlieknits. I loved knitting this pattern, and I know I'll knit another one in the future.

Shawls and Socks: As always, my two favorite things to knit, and I knit many of each of them this year: 9 pairs of socks and 7 shawls. Some of those socks and shawls have gotten into my posts this year, but here are two that haven't:

My happiest pair of the year, Toe-Up Try (Once Again), the first toe-up socks that I have knit that actually fit! The well-written pattern is Straight Up Socks by Kellie Oreb.

This is my Rusty Milkweed shawl, started in 2012 and finished last January.The Hazel Knits colorway, Big Red, was a bit too orange to look good on me, so I gave it to my sister-in-law, Karen, and it was perfect for her. I loved knitting with the yarn, Hazel Knits Entice MCN, and the pattern, Laura Chau's Milkweed, is one I will knit again.

There was a real variety of projects in 2013 that I haven't touched on here—mitts, toys, coasters, dishcloths, and cardigans—but this post has gone on long enough, so you will have to wait and see what comes off the needles in the months ahead, as I know there will be more of all of these (except perhaps, the coasters).

Watch for my knitting goals for 2014 coming up soon!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Going Back to the Gilded Age

I'm sure you are wondering if I have fallen off the face of the earth, right? Well, I haven't; it's just the holiday season, and I've been busy, busy, busy!

I also realized that I haven't posted any photos of the week in a long time. I'm not going to go back and find a photo for each week I've missed. Instead, I'm going to share some recent "themed" photos occasionally.

First up, some photos from our Thanksgiving trip last month. On the way to our first family visit, in Massachusetts, we decided to explore Ventfort Hall, a Gilded Age mansion in Lenox, Massachusetts. This choice fit in very well with my recent reading: I had just finished reading Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence shortly before we left on our trip. Lenox is also Edith Wharton country; her home, The Mount, is located not far from Ventfort Hall, but isn't open in the late fall and winter.

Ventfort Hall was saved from the wrecking ball in the 1990s and is slowly being restored; in fact, parts of the second floor had just been opened a few weeks before our visit. This amazing mansion is beautiful! Here are a few of my favorite things from our visit.

I hope you have enjoyed my little photo tour. I'll be back soon with an actual knitting post!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Goal Accomplished

Remember my annual goals post last January? Item number 3 on the list was to improve my stranded knitting skills by knitting either the Fireweeds socks or the Winter Twilight Mitts. Look what I finished on November 17: the Winter Twilight Mitts! It's so satisfying to meet my goals...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekly Hike #22: I Did It!

For at least the last two years, I have had a mostly unspoken goal to climb Mount Si. I know I have mentioned it here on the blog occasionally, but it has never gotten into the official list of annual goals that I compile every January.

In case you aren't familiar with Mount Si, it is a 4,000 foot mountain located just outside the town of North Bend. For those of you who were fans of the 1990s television series, Twin Peaks, it is the mountain that was shown in the opening titles every week. The Mount Si trail is one of the most popular and heavily traveled in the state. Mr. D climbs it dozens of times every year, especially in winter, because it is almost never impassable due to snow.

Anyway, this was the year that I was determined to finally hike Mount Si. We originally planned to hike it with our friends Sarah and Dave on September 29, but that was the weekend of the record-setting rains, so the hike was cancelled. We rescheduled for the end of October, but Sarah's husband had to work that day. So we finally settled on this past Saturday, November 16, and crossed our fingers that the weather would cooperate.

Mr. D warned me that this late in the fall we could encounter some snow, so I packed my backpack with an extra hooded jacket and some warm mittens and a hat (both knitted by me). We started hiking a little before nine, and the first mile was pretty benign: chilly and a bit muddy from recent rains.

By the time we reached Snag Flats, at mile two, we noticed a dusting of snow, and it was noticeably colder, probably in the mid-30s.

From this point on, there was more snow on the trail, and somewhere in the middle of mile three, we stopped to put on our warmer clothing. Here is what the trail looked like at that point:

The last mile was a slog, but I managed to persevere all the way to the top. By the time we got there, it was snowing in earnest, and COLD! There was no view to speak of, so I will have to wait until I do this hike in better weather to see Mount Rainier looming over the Cascades in the distance. At least the snow on the trees and rocks was very photogenic.

Because of the cold, we didn't linger long on the summit, but Sarah and I did take a few minutes to pose with our knitting. We have decided to bring our knitting every time we hike together, and to call the series, "Knitting in the Wilderness". Check this post for the first photo in the series.

I think Sarah was very brave to actually take her gloves off. My hands were way too cold to even think about doing that! so even though there was knitting present on the mountain, no knitting actually was accomplished. Maybe next time!

This hike officially marks the end of my 2013 hiking season, but watch for occasional posts from some of my winter walks. And guess what? Knitting posts will be making a comeback very shortly!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Weekly Hike #21: It's All About the Light

On Monday, October 28—a beautiful sunny day—Mr. D and I decided to hike at Wallace Falls State Park. This hike is a favorite of both of ours, and my favorite time of year to hike there is in the fall. Why, you ask? Well, as the title of this post says, it's all about the light, and especially, the angle of the light. You may remember this photo from a hike at the park in October 2011:

See what I mean about the angle of the light?

We were treated to equally beautiful light on our hike last week. There was sunshine on the autumn leaves along the trail.

There was sunshine and blue skies enhancing the view of the distant Olympic Mountains.

But the most beautiful view of all was the forest, exquisitely bathed in luminous light.

it is, most definitely, all about the light.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Weekly Hike #18: Sunny this Time!

I know that you all have been waiting with bated breath for the elusive hike number 18. (Well, maybe one or two of you have.) On September 19th, following days of checking the weather forecast, Mr. D and I returned to Paradise on Mount Rainier, with only one goal: a sunny day hike with views, to make up for all the clouds and rain that we experienced at the end of August.

There was no question what hike we would do. We both love hiking up to Panorama Point, and enjoying the spectacular views while we eat our lunch. This time was no different. Here are the view highlights from this day:

That isn't Mount Rainier, although it certainly looks like it, doesn't it? It's Mount Adams, also known as Mount Rainier's "Little Brother". It looks a lot closer to us than it actually was, thanks to my 55-250 millimeter lens.

Mount Adams is located southeast of Mount Rainier. When I turned and faced the southwest, I was able to see and photograph Mount St. Helens on the horizon. This is the side of the mountain that blew out when Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 20, 1980.

After enjoying these wonderful vistas and eating our lunch, we headed back down the trail toward Paradise. We once again were treated to a relatively close encounter with a marmot:

When we got back to Paradise, and before heading home, we paused for while to soak in the view.

It's always sad to leave Mount Rainier after our last hike of the season, but as I've said before: We'll be back next year, Mount Rainier, we'll be back.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Weekly Hike #20: Updating Hike #17

It really is a Million Dollar View! After a week of nothing but fog, Mr. D took me up to Cougar Mountain for a hike yesterday, and this is what we saw:

That's Mount Baker on the horizon, and miles of fog in the lowlands. In addition to the fantastic view, we also enjoyed temperatures in the low 60s, a big improvement from the high 40s inside that layer of fog.

I haven't forgotten hike number 18; it's coming up next. There is also a nice long knitting post coming soon, too.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekly Hikes #16, #17 and #19: Rainy, Misty, Foggy

I know that you are looking at the title of this post and saying, "But what about hike number 18?" I will get to that hike in a day or two, but I wanted to post about these three hikes together because they are similar in many ways.

On Saturday, September 7th, Mr. D and I decided to hike again on the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail, and see if we could explore a bit farther than we did on our hike earlier this year. Unfortunately, the weather looked like this:

Our plan had been to hike along the top of the mountain, stop in a new spot with a view for lunch, and then hike back down. But, in addition to mist and fog that we encountered in the early part of the hike, it began to rain hard when we were just past Rattlesnake Ledge. We decided that wimping out was our best option, so we turned around and hiked back down. Ironically, it was not raining when we got back to our car, and the sun came out shortly before we got home. While the hike was shorter than planned and there were no sweeping views, we did enjoy the solitude of the dark forest, and we saw some "little views".

A week later, we decided to hike at Cougar Mountain. I really wanted to go back to see the Million Dollar View. This time, we took a different route to get to the viewpoint, but on this day there was no view, just fog all around us. (Click the link above to see the view on a better day.)

We had two other hikes planned in September, one of which was to be my first expedition to the top of Mount Si, but both were rained out. A new rainfall record for the date was set on September 28th, the day we would have been hiking on Mount Si. I was very glad we stayed home! Because of the rain-outs I'm extending my "Weekly Hike Season" until at least the end of October, and maybe even longer, weather permitting.

On October 16th, Mr. D and I decided to hike the western end of the ten-mile long Rattlesnake Mountain Trail. We learned about this section of the trail from a woman we encountered on our rainy hike at the other end of the trail. She told us that it was very scenic and less heavily traveled than the east end of the trail.

Once again, we started our hike in the fog:

As we started to climb, it became brighter and brighter, and finally the sun broke through the fog.

When we reached Stan's Overlook all we saw was fog below us, but we did have a great view of the mountains.

After eating a snack, we headed back down into the fog, which provided us with another great view:

Sometimes less than perfect weather can still be your friend!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Weekly Hike #15: A Hike with Friends

It was a week of hiking, first, the three hikes at Mount Rainier, then on Saturday, August 31, a hike with our friends Sarah and Dave, and Dave's son, Justin. We decided to do the approximately seven-mile round trip hike to the beautiful Olallie Lake. (You may remember that I blogged about this hike in 2011.)

It was a gorgeous day for a hike, as you can see.

The sunlight cast beautiful shadows along the trail.

At one point, the trail was made of wood. These walkways are called puncheons.

Sarah is one of my knitting friends, and not only did we talk knitting the whole way up to the lake, but look what we did once we got there...

We didn't just knit, we also enjoyed the view of the lake and posed for a photo.

All in all, it was one of the most fun hikes we have done this year. We scheduled another hike (Mount Si) for late September, but got rained out. Mount Si has been rescheduled, so watch for a post toward the end of October about that hike.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Catching Up with Photos of the Week

Wow, it's been two weeks since my last post! And in addition to that, I am even farther behind on posting my photos of the week. Today you are in luck, though, because I am going to share several photos of the week all at once. Enjoy! I'll be back with another post, catching you up on my hiking, in a day or two.

The Fremont Troll, very appropriate for Friday the 13th!

My grandfather's dice cup, photographed on September 18th, which was his birthday.

It's the season of the spider; seen on a very foggy morning.

An Anna's hummingbird, seeking refuge from the downpour inside a rhododendron in my garden.

Infinite pumpkins. Halloween is just around the corner!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weekly Hikes #12, #13 and #14: On the Cloudy Mountain

I'm still a bit behind in telling you about my recent hikes, so this is post is going to be mostly photos. Last month, from August 26th through the 29th we were on Mount Rainier, staying at the Paradise Inn, and hiking every day except the last one, when there was a downpour that started overnight and was still going strong when we headed home.

We had a great time, but there was one thing that was very disappointing: we never saw the top of Mount Rainier, because it was cloud-covered the whole time we were there. Here is what it looked like:

Just because it was cloudy didn't mean that we couldn't hike, however. I'd like to take you on a photo tour of the three hikes that Mr. D and I did while at Paradise.

Day One: We arrived around noon, and after eating our picnic lunch, we set out on the Lakes Trail, then the High Lakes Trail, looping back to the Lakes Trail, which brought us back to the Paradise Inn. We saw wonderful alpine meadows, filled with wildflowers, and a serene little pond that reflected the sky.

Day Two: We drove a few miles below Paradise and parked at Christine Falls, then walked a quarter of a mile down the road to the Comet Falls trailhead. The trail started out relatively flat, and we passed some of the cascades of beautiful Christine Falls before the trail began to get steep and rocky. It was a real slog getting to the falls, but once we did, the view was worth it.

Day Three: Whenever we are at Paradise we hike up to Panorama Point and have our lunch looking out over the Paradise valley and the Tatoosh Range. This time, the view wasn't the highlight of the hike, although we enjoyed it. We were more enthralled by the wildlife. Very early in the hike we saw a doe calmly nibbling greenery near the trail and totally ignoring the hikers going by. Later in the hike we had several close encounters with the marmots that live in the high alpine meadows.

Being at Paradise isn't all hiking. Mr. D and I went on some pleasant walks on the paved trails near the Visitor Center, and we hung out and enjoyed being in the inn. So, to finish this post, here are some photos from our walk and our time at the inn.