Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tettegouche - 3rd Time is the Charm

We picked our best weather day for our day trip.  After the sad ending to our trip to Tettegouche and a cancelled trip in the fall last year due to my health issues, we were determined to explore Tettegouche this summer.

And explore, we did!  It was a fantastic day.

I love exploring the shore of Lake Superior.  There are endless interesting rocks, including this one that makes a good toy camera.

Teeny, tiny wild strawberries! I ate them.

After hiking, picnicking and playing along the shoreline, we headed to the trailhead to hike a portion of the Superior Hiking Trail.  While in the parking lot we heard these noisy kids mimicking birds a ways off on the trail. They were really loud!  I heard them getting closer and closer, expecting them to emerge out of the trail area and then I saw them!  Lots of these big black birds. Further research has revealed that these are ravens.  I think.  Do you know?  They were making such loud sounds that didn't sound at all like a crow.

They followed us a little ways into the woods and then went their own way.  It was a fascinating experience!

Little known fact about me, I can't help but be on constant lookout for things to eat while I am hiking.  Paul thinks it is funny and it has become a bit of a running joke between us.  Here I am with some foraged edibles: wild strawberries, wild blueberries and purple clover. The blueberries were just starting to ripen so I only found a few but if it had been a week or two later, we would have found the motherload!

Paul would usually rather get to the destination than stop to shop, so it was surprising that when I shouted "FLEA MARKET!" he almost squealed the tires to maneuver us into the parking lot.

Somehow we spent a long time browsing but left without any treasures.  It is ok, though.  We have plenty of stuff.  It was really fun to peruse the well organized tables of goods.  I would definitely stop here again and hope they still have a good collection of vintage pyrex.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Around the cabin

The area around the lake cabin that we stayed at was beautiful.  The lake was clean and spring fed and alongside the roadway and driveway were wildflowers galore.  We didn't do much exploring but the little bit we did included frequent stops for flower admiring.  One of us enjoyed that more than the other.  I will leave it up to you to figure out which one of us was more taken with the flowers.

Paul was trying out the camera on my new phone.  It is very easy to get your fingers in the shot, as you might be able to tell from the photo above.

Most of our attention turned lakeward when at the cabin.  We had access to a rowboat but no oars, so we took one trip out with canoe paddles.  It wasn't the most efficient way to move, but it got us out there.

While we were waiting for the fish to bite, we played with another feature on my phone...the smile detection setting.  It has settings for big, medium and small smiles.  We had a lot of fun testing it out.

BIG smiles

small smiles

The thing is, it doesn't stop taking pictures!  We were laughing so much that it kept taking random pictures of us.

We had some bouts of rainy weather while we were there.  I was just fine with that as the view, my book club book and some tea were very satisfying company for a rainy day.

And the food!  We planned an awesome menu of food for our time there.  With the exception of the meal we had at the Duluth Grill we made all of our own food.  It was such a treat to have that much time and energy to prepare each meal.

I guess there was one bad thing about the rain.  I brought fancy chocolate for making smores by the fire.  The evening fires in the outdoor firepit were rained out.  Don't worry! I improvised and used the burner to toast my marshmallows! Smores plan saved!

We spent nearly all of our time at the cabin except for one awesome day trip.  It started with a wrong turn, but that is ok because we saw this deer.

Tons of pictures from our day trip to come tomorrow!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Vacation!

Apparently there is a reason I own so many tote bags: so I could pack all of the things I needed for our summer vacation!  Paul and I rented a cabin in northern Minnesota for 4 glorious nights in mid-July. We had planned it pretty far in advance but it ended up coming at a perfect time where disconnecting and recharging was desperately needed.  No phone or internet service, just a cabin, a lake, a dock, a few local channels on tv and public radio to keep us company.  We also brought plenty of our own entertainment like books and games and projects to work on there. I have a few posts planned so that I can share the trip with you.  Here we go!

On the drive up we made a stop at Franconia Sculpture Park.  I haven't been there in a few years so there were plenty of new sculptures to look at.  Our time there coincided with a outdoor concert series so we strolled the grounds to the backdrop of bluegrass music.  It was a great start to our trip!

We stopped for a late lunch at the Duluth Grill where we had very memorable lemonades: beet lemonade and lovage lemonade.  I enjoyed the lovage lemonade so much that I have since gone out and bought a plant to add to my herb garden!

And then......we got to the cabin!  Paul didn't waste anytime trying out the fishing at the dock.

I enjoyed the dock for a different purpose: knitting, drinking a glass of wine and soaking up every minute of the sunset.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Zen Tunic

My knitting pace is definitely a lot slower in the summer but I still value partaking of meditative, restorative, plant-based knitting sessions.  This past spring, I placed a big order of cotton and linen yarns from Webs.  My stash is mostly animal fiber and I knew I would need some good hot weather knitting options if I was going to enjoy my projects this summer.  Included in that order were 12 skeins of Classic Elite Katydid, which is a 100% organic cotton tape/ribbon yarn.  Sadly it is now discontinued.  I say sadly because it turns out I was a bit short on yarn for the pattern I chose and because I like the yarn and want to knit with it again.

Before placing my order, I worked hard to pair up patterns with the yarn I was buying.  It is always tricky when you substitute cotton yarns in patterns written for animal fibers.  Fortunately, I think I made a good choice with the Zen Garden pattern.  Obviously, I opted for the tunic length which adds a bit more of an A-line shape than the shorter version (Ravelry project link).  I had a bit of a challenge matching my yardage with this garment as I ordered what the pattern called for and ran a bit short.

My strategy was to stop working on the body when I got near the end and knit up the shorter sleeves following the sweater version instead of the longer tunic sleeves.  Then, I went back to the body and worked until I felt like I had just enough left for the hem.  In the photo above, I have the trimmed bits from the joins in my left hand and what was remaining of the last skein of yarn in my right hand.  So close!  Ideally, I might have wanted the tunic length an inch or two longer, but the result I got is wearable.  I have to admit, as I was futzing with things in order to stay within the yardage I heard Tim Gunn's "Make it work!" advice on repeat in my brain.

The yarn is dense enough yet light enough that the drape works well.  Cotton has a reputation for stretching and drooping, but I think this yarn might avoid the worst of that problem due to its woven ribbon-like construction.  Only time will tell on that front.

The flowing design on the front of the tunic was my main attraction to the pattern.  I wasn't happy with these stone buttons on my February Lady Sweater, so I eventually swapped them out.  This sweater is the perfect fit for them!

The folded over hem instructions in the pattern didn't seem to yield the results I wanted so I played around with some other ways of sewing it to the body.  I ended up using a darning needle and the end of the live yarn, grabbing a live stitch from the needle, then a stitch from the finished body and then back to a live stitch from the needle.  I am not sure if there is a name for that technique but I like it best out of the options I tried.  It was the right balance between firm and stretchy and seemed to minimize the fabric's desire to flip outward.

I think this tunic has good layering potential which will mean it will be able to span the warm and cool months.  I wore it to a casual, campground wedding last weekend and it was a bit too hot for that humid summer day, especially with the high, sculptural neck area.  I hope to wear it again soon a milder summer day.  And there you go, my first knitted dress!  
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