Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cabin: Everything Else

Hey, lookit guys, I'm combining knitting AND more ramblings about my cabin in the same post! (OH, how 'bout dat dere...)

I finished the back of my brother's sweater and now have a couple of inches done on one of the fronts.  I went back and forth about the idea of knitting both fronts at the same time, but I opted not to.  I'm obsessive enough to have counted that I knit 148 rows on the back before beginning the raglan decreases, and I'll do it again for the front.  I think knitting one piece at a time will make each go faster (though it doesn't change how long it'll take to get them both done), and I think not having to switch strands all the time will help me get into that crazy knitting zone where things seem to happen on their own.  You know what I'm talking about.

On an unrelated note, the pumpkins in my back garden are threatening to take over the entire house.  They've already hidden the tomatoes, carrots, beans, peas, and some of the lettuce (oh, and the zucchini).  For reference, the back of the sweater is 28" tall.

Here's the part where I talk forever about my cabin again.  I made a huge list of things I wanted to blog about while I was there, but as the trip becomes more distant, I've crossed a lot off the list because it's boring.  However, there's still quite a bit that I want to touch on.  You may need a snack.

Here's a little better picture of the "turtle" on the Turtle Mountains, where my cabin is located.  (Hint: It's in the middle of the picture, hiding behind a, um, power line post thingy.  What are those called?  He's facing left.)

I am so excited to share these pictures with you guys.  It happens to be my absolute favorite part about being up at my cabin.  The sunrise!

My cabin faces the sunrise head on and I made sure to be awake every morning by 5:30 so I didn't miss it.  The water is calm beyond belief, and the only beings awake are me and the birds (although, honestly, I was usually awake before even the birds).  Oh my goodness, and the birds!  I am a huge bird lover and it was heaven to sit on my dock and watch the sunrise while the loons (which were usually the first birds awake) called back and forth to each other.  Throughout the day there were dozens and dozens of different birds coming and going - Bald Eagles, Nuthatches, Wrens, Cardinals, Chickadees, Northern Harriers, Goldfinches, Catbirds, Yellow Warblers, Hummingbirds, Cormorants, Woodpeckers (of all varieties), Orioles, Grebes... I could go on forever.

As beautiful as the sunrise always was, the real reason I got out of bed every morning was the silence.  I will be the first to admit that people bug me, noise bugs me, and I love to be alone with nothing but silence.

You can almost hear it in this next picture - the sound of absolutely nothing.

When you start your morning like this, there are never any worries, no stress, and no fears.  These mornings really got me thinking about a lot of different things.  It really got me thinking about where I'll end up in the future and what will make me happy.  I can tell you right now that these two things seem to conflict.  You see, on the one hand I dream to be a great musician playing in a professional orchestra, while on the other, I want to live with my horizons looking the way these do.  The trouble is, great orchestras are in cities - sunrises are not.  I want to live somewhere with space, with nature, with views that are uninterrupted by skyscrapers and sounds devoid of freeways and airplanes.  I've never been driven by power, fame, money, or "success", but happiness, comfort, and a sense of belonging.  I think all too often these days people forget about what's truly important in life, but I hope to one day surround myself with it.

I absolutely love the sound of wind blowing through aspen leaves as they shimmer in the sun.  It sounds like gentle raindrops on a beautiful, bright day.

Some days, both the sunrise and the lake looked more colorful, more alive.

My brother made an interesting remark one day while we were driving past a gas station near the area.  He said, "It seems like everyone up here is 20 years behind the rest of the country" and my first thought was, "isn't it wonderful?"  Of course, he was making fun of their fashion, but there was a lot of truth in his statement.  I know there are many who can't imagine living outside of a city because there would never be anything to do, nowhere to go, no one to see, but I think it sounds fantastic.  The area where my cabin is located seems untouched by this big city life, seems to exist not along-side urban life or even as its opposite, but as something completely different.  Things are truly moving at their own pace out there, and it seems so much more real, more full of those things I value.

In my brother's eyes, it all seems as if it is behind the times, but I see it as being completely removed from the times.  Not only removed from city life, but seemingly removed from all of today's problems as well.  It is a place where values are upheld and respect is shown to others.  Some find it annoying, but I love how everyone waves and smiles at you as you drive by - whether they know you or not.  They're just having a wonderful day and glad you're there to enjoy it with them - and I don't blame them one bit.

I made a point to photograph some spiderwebs one morning to remind myself of something that can be applied to both knitting and life in general.  Look how beautiful it is, how delicate, how perfect it is.  They have long been admired for this beauty and fragility, the spider for being so skilled at what it does.  But there are flaws, there are holes in the web, there are strands stuck together, and there is gross gunk stuck all over in there.

I thought they were a great way to remind myself that perfection isn't everything, that flaws shouldn't get me disappointed, and that when there's a whole lot of nasty speckling your life, the beauty is still there.  So who cares if there's a missed YO in my lace, or if I squeak in a Beethoven symphony?  Ok, so I didn't do too well on that test, or I had to eat peanut butter sandwiches for two weeks in a row because it's all I could afford.  So what?  Those little things seem insubstantial compared to the big picture.

I'm sure this all sounds very deep and philosophical coming from an atheist, but really, I do believe that life is something that should be cherished, respected, and that we should expend our energy seeking out happiness rather than material wealth.

Because otherwise what's the point?  I say enjoy life while you can.

and don't forget to listen to a sunrise every once in a while.  It'll do ya some good.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Tour de Fleece

The Tour de Fleece is over, which I suppose means the Tour de France is over too (who won?), and I have some yarn to show you all!  I took pictures of my progress every day just so that I can see what I've done.  This post is full of pictures of my spindle, so feel free to scroll down to the bottom to see the actual yarn that I made.

My goal came in two parts: 1. to spin merino for the first time, and 2. to spin a yarn that wasn't so twisted that it felt like twine.

I was spinning merino top from J. Knits in the Boston colorway.  Here goes!

Day 1, July 4:

Day 2, July 5:
Day 3, July 6:
Day 4, July 7:
Day 5, July 8:
Day 6, July 9:
Day 7, July 10: This was the day we drove to our cabin
Day 8, July 11: Finished 1st single
Day 9, July 12: Prepped fiber for 2nd ply
Day 10 was a rest day

Day 11, July 14:
Day 12, July 15:
Day 13, July 16:
Day 14 I forgot to spin, days 15 and 16 I didn't bother taking pictures because I only spun about a foot of yarn on each day

Day 17, July 20: Technically a rest day, I made up for missing the day 14
Day 18, July 21:
Day 19, July 22:
Day 20, July 23:
Day 21, July 24: Finished 2nd ply...
Wound 2nd ply...
Re-wound singles, held double for ease of plying...
...and started plying.
Day 22, July 25: Finished plying and washed the skein
...there was a bit of color bleeding.
Last day!  Day 23, July 26: Re-skeined and measured the finished yarn

I ended up with about 388 yards of 2-ply, 11 wpi (roughly DK-weight), 4 oz.  It is super sproingy and really soft.  It may not be as much as some other people did, but I met my challenge and ended up with this great yarn too!

(I then unclimactically tossed it in the direction of my yarn stash where it will sit until I re-discover it at some point in the future.)

Thanks Cookie and Team CrankyPants!  I may have been silent, but I enjoyed the company.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sweaters Sweaters Everywhere

As promised, here's a bit of knitting to show you all.

I swatched for Franklin (my brother's sweater) and really loved working with the yarn.  The silk and cashmere in the Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed (oh man, what a long name!) definitely makes this yarn soft and luxurious, but the tweediness and slightly bumpy texture, along with the little bits of VM that keep falling on me, gives it a sort of rustic feel as well.  It's like the best of both worlds!  It's also very light, but very warm.

I was supposed to measure gauge with the ribbing stretched.  So I stretched it until I got gauge, no more, no less.  I was happy with that, so I started on the back of the sweater.

That's about what I've got so far (and by "about", I mean it is).  9" of 2x2 rib, and I'm not bored yet!

Last night I also worked on Delain a bit because I wanted to get him all put back together.  13 and 1/2 inches of the front, only 4 1/2" to go before I can split for the neckline and begin the armscyes (is that the proper plural of that word?).

Tomorrow: Tour de Fleece!  I finished my skein and it is beautiful if I do say so myself (feel free to disagree tomorrow).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cabin: The Tube

Up at the cabin, one of the more frequently asked questions among the kids (myself included) is, "Want to go jump?" or "Where's the tube?"

You see, once we're removed from the comfort of computers and TVs to keep us entertained, we must take matters into our own hands.  It's a good thing, then, that as long as I can remember, we have always had this ingenious toy at our disposal...

...otherwise known as a large inner-tube from some sort of gigantic farm equipment.  Seriously, it brings hours and hours of entertainment every single day.  Only this year did I realize how weird it is that my family can have so much fun playing with an old tire.

Look, you can jump on it (last one on wins!)

Oddly there have never been any broken bones due to this activity, however there have been countless bruises, sprains, knocked-out winds (I don't know how to say that), and plain old tears.  In fact, this year I knocked the wind out of myself with my elbow after trying to do a backflip off of the tube.  It wasn't pretty.

The tube can also serve as both a daycare center AND a dog kennel - AT THE SAME TIME!  (Dog, Leo; Nephew, Darby; Brother, Mark)

However, it gets even more fun when the tube is transformed into a floatation device.  It becomes extremely hard to balance on it, and even harder to get back on if you fall.  Which obviously makes for a great game of "King of the Tube".

Clearly I was the last one on, and therefore won.  :)

I highly recommend that anyone and everyone get an old tire of their own, it may come in handy someday.

Also, unrelated to the tube, check out this cool diving sequence my sister managed to capture (I stole most of the pictures in this post from her off of facebook.)

I don't know how I managed to get so much height.  The trampoline at the end of the dock may have had something to do with it...

There's more to show, but the next post will return to knitting for a bit (so as to not lose all of my readers.)  Happy, um, Today!