Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Bankhead and Knitting Accessories

I ordered this reflective yarn online a while back. It was something I saw advertised on Facebook of all places.

It is mostly acrylic but not 'crunchy'  - rather it is very soft and surprisingly warm for a synthetic yarn. The reflective strand is plied throughout the yarn.

I made this Bankhead cap to give to Scooter for Christmas. He is a runner and this would be good for him to wear as it gets dark so early here in the winter. I have tons of yarn left so may also fashion a scarf for him.
Bankhead is a free pattern on Ravelry and it is sized for all sizes from child to XL adult. I didn't make the ribbing (ktbl, P1) as deep but did go up a needle size for the rest of the hat. This yarn was about worsted weight. There are lot of other reflective yarns available but this one seemed to have the reflective strand plied many times more per inch than any others I've seen.

Speaking of buying stuff from Facebook -  a while back I bought the 'free' knitting kit that I saw advertised.
The shipping from China was $10 but it was well worth it. It comes in a little, partitioned organizer box and contained stitch markers (coil-less, locking and closed),three kilt-pin style stitch holders, two sets of point protectors (only one is shown) three cable needles, a tape measure (not shown), yarn snips, one plastic and one metal darning needle, a locking drawstring threader, and a seam ripper.
 
When I removed the measuring tape, I could fit in my row counter. I paid $5 at some show or other for the row counter. This is the stock photo but shows the one I bought in my favourite colour, apple green. I found several for sale on eBay for around $1 with free shipping.
Here's the link to the 'free' knitting kit but I just checked eBay and it's about $3US with free shipping.

This accessory kit was one of the handiest things for me to have on the cruise and I would recommend it for any knitter. It took almost 6 weeks to arrive by mail but it was well worth it.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Silverleaf Shawlette

Off the wires, I look forward to sporting the Silverleaf Shawl.
It measures 60" from point to point in a straight line
and 17" deep.
As I used 4mm needles, it is very open and 'drapey'.
I was inspired to do the picot edge after completing my green Nurmilintu.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Blocking Silverleaf

While on the cruise, I worked on the Silverleaf Shawlette off and on. I actually knit one garter stitch/eyelet course too far as I was running out of yarn while knitting the lace edge so had to rip back. I finished the picot edging in New Orleans and just now got the shawl blocked.

I was lazy and only ran the wires through the picots, and along the other short side, pinning each of the three points.
 I could have run a bendable wire along the long side but rather like the shape as it is.
The pattern doesn't call for a picot edge but I really liked the look of it on someone's project page on Ravelry.

I'll have some nice pics of the blocked shawl very soon.

This pattern would be excellent to combine multi-coloured handspun on the garter stitch part with a coordinating solid or tonal yarn on the lace part. The garter stitch pattern is very easily internalized and the chart for the lace was easy to follow.

I'll be making a few more of these.

I re-blocked my old, red Swallowtail Shawl when I got home and it is as beautiful again as when I first knit it lo those many years ago. I wish I had taken a photo before pulling the wires out. That reminds me, I have a crescent swallowtail still on the needles and am very close to the bind-off. I need to get that finished.




NOLA

Skip and I arrived in New Orleans on Monday afternoon after sailing up the Mississippi delta all morning.
The ship docked right downtown beside the outlet mall and between a paddleboat and the Carnival Triumph which were also in port. We were all required to get off the ship and clear US Customs before getting back on to enjoy our last evening onboard and pack for final disembarkation the next morning.

As we didn't have any flights to catch the next morning, we could take our time having our last sumptuous breakfast on board. We then grabbed a cab to our hotel (St. James) just west of the French Quarter. As it was too early for check-in we stored our luggage there and headed out on foot to explore our environs.

My goal was to visit the Royal Orleans Hotel and 812 Bourbon St. The Royal Orleans was where my parents were married in 1961. My mother had been living in New Orleans through the late 50s and early 60s. It is now an Omni Hotel.

We then walked up to Bourbon St. where we had been warned that it was not a 'family friendly' street by the tourist office. In fact, this area is crammed with gay bars and strip clubs. When I saw "Pete Fountain's" embedded in the sidewalk in tile, I knew I was in the right neighbourhood as I recall my parents telling me his bar was right on the corner of her block
According to Google Maps it is now 'Oz', New Orleans' #1 Gay Dance Club. I was surprised to learn he just died this past August.
810 Bourbon St. was clearly marked so I assumed that 812 was the next door.
After taking a couple of photos, we walked back towards our hotel and grabbed some lunch at the famed Palace Café on Canal St. on the way back.

There was no doubt that this was New Orleans Saints and LSU Tiger territory.
We saw several houses displaying purple footballs on the door wreaths.

Finally checked in, we baffed out for a while enjoying both of the HD TVs and unlimited Internet for the first time in over 2 weeks. We always are surprised at how tired we are after being on a relaxing vacation. For Skip, it was nice to not be rocking. It took me a couple of days before I no longer felt the rocking sensation.

After finding dinner that night, we were delighted to see the Christmas lights up Canal St. which apparently had just been lit.



The next day, we had breakfast outdoors on the corner at the Ruby Slipper Café before walking over to Jackson Square and then to the place where we could board the Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus. Of course, we had to take a selfie with Jackson Square and the iconic St. Louis Cathedral in the background.

No, we didn't go to Café du Monde. Being US Thanksgiving week, there was a lineup a block long to get into the place and we just didn't want spend our limited time in 'The Big Easy' doing that. I'll just have to find a place in Toronto that serves NOLA-style beignets.

Thursday morning we left the hotel at 7:30 and were at the airport, checked our bags, were through security and at our gate by 8:20. Woo hoo!!! That would never happen flying out of YYZ. We landed in Buffalo at 4pm after a stopover in Baltimore. Our shuttle to the hotel was waiting for us at the hotel shuttle stand. Now THAT's what I call good service. The Clarion Hotel makes it a practice to meet arriving passengers who have used their Park Stay and Fly program.

Travelling on Thanksgiving Day was a really good idea as the usual crowds and traffic were greatly reduced. When I booked the flights, I didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving but was happy it worked out well.

The next morning we anticipated a crush of people at the places we wanted to do some shopping before crossing the border and returning home. It actually was really quiet on the US side and only when we drove past the new outlet mall on the QEW and the adjacent Bass Pro did we see parking lots crammed with cars. However, the traffic was acceptable and we were glad to get home in the early afternoon.

We are now home for a while with no big trips planned until our departure for the sunny south at the beginning of February.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Bonaire

Yesterday we docked at Kralendijk, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. It lies about 120km off the coast of Venezuela and is the ‘B’ in the ‘ABC’ islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.  There are about 18,000 inhabitants - the most populous of the small islands we’ve visited.

Skip had looked up attractions on TripAdvisor before we sailed and noted that there was a Donkey Sanctuary only 7km from where we were going to be docking. Once we got off the ship, we grabbed a taxi and headed there.

Donkeys were brought to Bonaire in the 17th Century by Spaniards. They were used for hard labour. Once more modern equipment was used for work and  transportation, the work animals were just set free and left to their own devices. Bonaire is a very dry island and there is not a lot of natural vegetation on which they can feed. Nowadays, they are also in danger from motor traffic. Many are either killed or left severely wounded along the roadside and left for dead. Foals are orphaned when their mothers are killed. In 1993, the donkey sanctuary was established to help donkeys in distress and offers a protected life to all the donkeys on Bonaire. Currently there are about 600 donkeys in care ranging in age from 5 weeks old (a foal born to an injured, pregnant donkey that was brought in) to 45 years old. Males are castrated to help control the population. In spite of the efforts of the sanctuary there are lots of donkeys still roaming wild on the island.
The 5 week-old foal and me

We had a thoroughly delightful time walking amongst them, visiting the Special Care Unit/Nursery and the Senior Paddock where any donkeys older than 30 years old reside.
My new 'best friend'

Cars were permitted to drive through. Donkeys knew to swarm the cars because many occupants would be handing out carrots.
Swarming a vehicle
After the taxi returned to retrieve us, we returned to the downtown area to walk around and have a cold drink at a place where we could get free Wifi. Skip had a Polar beer and I had a delicious and refreshing mango margarita. They even gave me the extra stuff from the blender that didn’t all fit in my margarita glass. Then we headed back to the ship for lunch. (Heaven forbid we miss a meal on board!!!)

A couple of knitters from my class decided that they wanted to meet every day to sit and knit so after a wee nap and freshening up, I met them at 3:15. Dorothy is from the Seattle area and is working on a beautiful shawl with tonal, Malabrigo lace yarn. Judith lives near Amsterdam (Netherlands) and is working on a very long lace scarf. I alternate between my Silverleaf designed by Lisa Hannes and another pair of Business Casual socks.

After I went back to the cabin, Skip and I sat out on our verandah and watched as our mooring lines were released and reeled in and we thrusted away from the dock and set sail for Montego Bay which we’ll reach tomorrow after our full day at sea today.

After dinner, we attended the show in the Galaxy Lounge. Featured performers were Irina, a virtuoso violinist from Russia and Gary Hunter’s ventriloquist act. Gary’s day job is cruise director for the ship. Irina also is the first violinist in the ship’s string quartet.

Today being a sea day, I’ll be teaching at 3:15. I have at least one more class scheduled before we disembark in New Orleans next Tuesday morning.
Skip photographs Geri as she composes her blog post in the Palm Court


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Another Most Excellent Adventure

Skip and I are on a most excellent adventure at sea. The night before we flew to Florida, I couldn’t sleep. I was fretting about having overweight luggage as I had to bring a second suitcase full of knitting equipment for the classes I would be teaching. The next morning, I went online only to find that all my worrying was for nothing - Southwest has a very generous luggage allowance - 2 pieces of checked luggage with a 50 pound limit per piece plus an unweighed carryon with dimensions within 10" x 16" x 22" plus a ‘personal item’ (i.e. purse). I was SO relieved.

Our ship, the Crystal Serenity, is a very luxurious ship that accommodates about 1000 passengers. We have a deluxe stateroom with a verandah with a fridge that is always stocked with beer, pop, and bottled water. Crystal is an all-inclusive cruise ling so there is no extra charge for pop, coffee, standard wine, booze, tips, etc. Since our last cruise, each guest gets 60 minutes of free Wifi per day that rolls over if not used. Basically, it’s like afloating 6-star resort.

Customarily, I was scheduled to teach on the ‘at sea’ days of which there are 4 on this cruise. However, more classses have been scheduled for the guests so at least two more knitting classes were added for today and tomorrow. My knitters have been very enthusiastic including one guest who, when she, a few months ago, saw my name on the entertainment list for this sailing, looked me up on Ravelry and sent me a message that she’d be on the cruise I was scheduled for. She is very enthusiastic and decided to meet at our teaching place every day, class or not, for a sit and knit. Last cruise, I had beginner knitters at every class which occupied most of my time. This cruise, I’ve only had one beginner (a left hander I taught to knit by just having her sit facing me and mirroring what I did as a right-hander). She was thrilled to master the long-tail cast-on and knit stitch after years of being told she would never be able to learn to knit left-handed. I was very happy for her. Today, during class, a gal who was eating nearby (I teach in a café) asked if I could teach her how to knit. I assured her that I most certainly would be happy to do so at tomorrow’s class.

After a day at sea (on which I taught my first class) we docked at Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos. This is my favourite beach destination as the beach is about 200ft from the end of the dock. We spent the morning there where I dipped myself in the crystal clear, turquoise water. The next day (yesterday) we anchored at Samana, Dominican Republic. However, it was pouring rain and many of the guests didn’t want to be tendered ashore in the rain so not many guests disembarked. Today was a beautiful day as we anchored off Virgin Gorda BVI, so Skip and I went ashore to stand on ‘terra firma’ for the first time since Grand Turk. There really isn’t much of a shopping area where we docked and we didn’t sign up for an excursion, so we just walked around a bit, found a free Wifi connection, sent some annoying ‘here we are in Virgin Gorda and it’s 30C’ photos home and went back to the ship for lunch, a bit of a nap, and preparations for today’s class. Tomorrow we anchor off St. Barth’s FWI - a very high end island where wealthy French people frolic and millionaires dock their yachts and boats. Skip and I will walk to a very nice beach in the morning, do some swimming, and again, return to the ship for lunch (God forbid we miss a meal), a wee nap, and prepare for my 3:15 class. The next day we anchor at Guadeloupe. We have no excursions planned so my just tender ashore and walk around a bit. Then there’s a sea day (another knitting class for me) before we arrive at Bonaire. One of the Dutch ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) islands. Skip Googled it and learned there is a donkey sanctuary only 7 km from the port which we hope to visit.

I have been knitting an Escher sock using Regia Blitz yarn. I should have just knit a ribbed sock as the pattern really gets lost in the faux fair isle pattern. Oh well.  I finished the first sock and started the second, but bailed on it and have just cast on yet another Business Casual sock.

Right now then satellite Wifi onboard is very slow so I won't upload any photos. Hopefully time.

Until next time...

Friday, 4 November 2016

Next Step - Securing and Cutting the Steek

I finished knitting the yoke of my sweater last night. The neck stitches are being held on the cable until after I've cut the steek and have knit on the button bands. I'm happy with the short rows I did below the yoke on the back which has brought the back neck up over 2" than if I hadn't added the extra rows between the underarms.
There were a couple of rounds of the yoke where I was managing 3 colours and one round where I dealt with 4 colours!! I guess Icelanders don't adhere to the rule of Fair Isle knitting where a maximum of two colours are used. Again, I went up a needle size for the stranded knitting and knit it inside-out for maximum 'apogee' of the strands.

I'm deviating from the original pattern and will pick up the stitches along the steek and knit perpendicularly to the front opening rather than knitting a ribbed button band and attaching later.
Once the button bands are finished, I will go back to finishing the neck and neckband. A lot of decreasing will be in order. As it is, I switched to a smaller needle once I got above the shoulders (at the blue and yellow band) to begin tightening up the top of the yoke. I don't want it to gape when I'm done.

Since taking these photos, I've grafted one underarm. I think this will be a very spiffy sweater to wear with my 'winter uniform' - jeans and long-sleeved shirts.

I'm packing for our upcoming cruise and got lots of things checked off my to-do list today. Tomorrow I'll get packing in earnest for the last push on Sunday before we head out.

I just submitted two proposals to teach at an upcoming knitting event. Cross your fingers for me that what I am offering will be of interest to the committee.

Jen1 and Jen2 are at the Needler's Retreat this weekend. I really wish I could be there but I can't be everywhere. I really hope I can get to next year's.