Knit for penguins

The little oil-soaked penguins of New Zealand need you.

penguin sweaters

I didn't want to steal images, so this is not as cute as the real blue penguins in their colorful sweaters. For those, follow the links in the text below.

Please, check out the Worldwide Campaign To Knit Sweaters for Penguins to prevent them from ingesting poison while they wait to be cleaned up.

These tiny sweaters are a quick knit. Instructions for the Penguin Jumper in 8ply are on Skeinz’s spring newsletter.

Now I have to find some wool of appropriate thickness. 8-ply doesn’t mean much to me, and unfortunately there is no mention of gauge so I’ll have to guess based on the needle size. It also seems to me that it would be easier to knit this in the round up to the wholes for the wings (are they called wings?). What do you think?

Pacific Northwest

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slice of Oregon.

Home again

Catch up time for me after a twelve-day road trip and close

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to 3,000 miles. I thought I would blog a few times along the way, but I was either missing the time or a reliable internet connection. After three days in the Bay Area to attend the color workshop at Janine‘s house in Berkeley, we drove to Eugene (OR) where we stayed at a sheep farm with Elissa, an old friend from my spinning days who moved from Los Angeles a few years ago and now lives with two dogs, five miniature donkeys and ten sheep.

at Elissa's farm in Eugene

at Elissa's farm in Eugene

hay bales

Hay bales, unfortunately rotting in the field after the rain

Elissa and the beasties

Elissa and the beasties

Gina, the miniature donkey

Gina, the miniature donkey

Elissa's sheep

Elissa's sheep

Oskar the sheep

Oskar was the only sheep who would get close and be petted. He's a sweet fellow with a beautiful fleece.

Dinner time

Dinner time

From there we drove to Lakewood (WA) making a quick stop in Portland (OR) along the way. More like a blitz, really, and no time to get together with friends though we managed a strategic stop at Knit Purl, easily the best yarn store I’ve ever set foot into. Half their stock wanted to go home with me and I had to be firm to make it out of there with only four skeins of Isager Tvinni, two skeins of Shibui Cloud and one supersized ball of Kauni.
Marianne Isager Tvinni

Marianne Isager Tvinni

Shibui Silk Cloud

Shibui Silk Cloud, color "Suit"

Kauni EC

Kauni EC

We spent almost more time trying to get out of Portland than we spent in Portland because of a major accident on the Interstate Bridge.
Even the rest areas are impressive in Oregon

Even the rest areas are impressive in Oregon

A bridge in Portland

A bridge in Portland

Another bridge in Portland

Another bridge in Portland

In Lakewood we stayed with Lorette and John and experienced the most marvellous hospitality which included a guided tour with ferry trip to Bainbridge Island (7-minute visit at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas), extensive stop at Pike Market and a spice shop nearby, and gourmet dinners at their place. Half the extra pounds I came home with were put on in those two days. Not complaining!
Bundled up on the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island

Bundled up on the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island

Not the right day to go on the Space Needle

Not the right day to go on the Space Needle

Puget Sound from the ferry

Puget Sound from the ferry

Ghost mountain

Now you see it, now you do't.

Fish stand at Pike Place Market

Fish stand at Pike Place Market

On the knitting front, the only activity was mindless scarf knitting in the car. I’ve been working on the Wild Apple scarf that goes with the hat. The scarf is all in plain broken rib and let me tell you how boring that is to knit, but just what I needed while we were driving 5-8 hours at a time. About 42 inches into the scarf (14 more inches to go) I can see why no one on Ravelry has added that project; they all had more sense than me and worked on either the sweater or the hat. More pics in a couple of days. Now I have to take care of laundry, grocery shopping, and other odds and ends.

Attraction

When we went to Santa Barbara last week, we brought home another orchid in addition to the Licaste aromatica. This one is a tiny plant with a white flower as big as its foliage and is another fragrant orchid that has been releasing a subtle scent in the early evenings while it was advertising for sex. At least this one doesn’t smell of cinnamon but rather like a subtle gardenia, so it has a place on the windowsill in my office.

Angraecum didieri

Angraecum didieri

So far it seems to attract the wrong species.

Angraecum didieri attracting the wrong kind

Are you food?

A most unsuitable orchid

Encyclia

Encyclia something

An orchid intermission was just the thing to do to tear myself away from the never-ending editing job of putting the not-quite-so-final touches to my pattern, so yesterday we took a day trip to Santa Barbara to visit an orchid nursery, a couple of yarn stores, and walk around the chalk paintings of the Madonnari festival at the Santa Barbara Mission.

On the trip there I managed to scribble a few notes on my print-outs, because I was to anal dedicated to leave home without them. All that dedication went away as soon as we reached the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate and Ben had to figure out how to leave the place without me mortgaging the house.

Lycaste aromatica

Lycaste aromatica

I had a vague idea of what I wanted to look at, which I did, but then fell in love with the most unsuitable orchid. Leave it to me to become infatuated with the only cinnamon-scented specimen among thousands of orchids. Of all the scents that give me instant headaches and leave me gasping for air, cinnamon is the worst offender and the beguiling orchid smelled like the most disgusting chewing gum. It took me a while to realize that the plant I was admiring was the source of that smell. By then it was too late; I already knew that I wanted it. Fortunately, the Lycaste Aromatica in question turned out not to be for sale, being that it was the mother plant and they had run out of smaller specimens. Unfortunately, the nice woman at the nursery offered to call another orchid nursery down the road to see if they had a young plant available.

You know how the story ends: we have the orchid in the back seat for the two-hour trip home while I try to survive without breathing. The Lycaste Aromatica is an outdoor orchid and is now sitting pretty between a languishing lavander and a struggling raspberry plant. We’ll see how she does in the next few days. I just couldn’t resist the intense yellow flowers.

No water until Luis says its' raining in Mexico

No water until Luis says its' raining in Mexico

Ah, the watering instructions are a bit on the fuzzy side: “No water until Luis says it’s raining in Mexico.” Hm, OK.

So many shapes and colors and sizes!

A tube of orchids

A tube of orchids

Some kind of Masdevallia?

Some kind of Masdevallia?

A disturbing orchid

A disturbing orchid

White is always pretty

White is always pretty

Horned orchids

The horned ones

Oh yes, there was yarn, lots of yarn and all of the Habu variety — insert little dance here — from the cutest yarn shop: Loop & Leaf. But by then I was tired of taking pictures so you’ll just have to go there yourself next time you’re in Santa Barbara.

Humming

Not a lot of knitting pictures lately, and not for lack of knitting activity. Or I should say knitting related activity, as a lot of what I’ve been doing in the past couple of weeks has been refining Riva based on feedback from my testers on Ravelry. This public testing is proving a more valuable and enjoyable experience than I had anticipated and I am getting excellent feedback on the charts and written instructions. Between my friends’ feedback on structure, logic and presentation and now the step-by-step testing and corrections, I am confident that the final pattern will be in good shape. The learning for such a simple pattern has been fenomenal. At the same time I am working on the next project, a lace stole or scarf. Yes, I am getting back to lace —

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who would have thought? At the moment I am finalizing a lace motif that has kept me busy swatching variations, charting, recharting, and trying out different yarns. I was feeling rather pleased with my progress until I saw Bethany’s swatch. Is that gorgeous or what? Perhaps I should rethink my design aspirations. The current plan is a rather complex stitch to be used as an all-over pattern and a simple shawl construction: rectangular with understated edgings on the short sides. Too boring? Keeping me company this past week or so: a lot of rain and my baby hummingbirds who finally graduated from flight school and left me an empty nest, fond memories and a couple of video clips. Amazingly we were able to watch both birds make their first flight. It’s hard to put into words how exciting it was to watch first one and then the other fluff their wings and move a little away from the nest and then actually fly. They did it a couple of hours apart from each other but followed the same pattern, moving further away from the nest and higher on the tree until they were gone. Too bad those video clips didn’t turn out well, but we still got a couple with the birds in their nest and just outside, fluffing their wings. What can I say? I am a sucker for cute baby critters. Baby hummingbirds feeding Baby hummingbirds fluffing their wings Going going gone

Valentine butterflies

For Valentine’s Day we went butterfly watching. From his college days at
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UCSB, Ben knew of a butterfly reserve just outside Santa Barbara, a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, half of it coasting the ocean. Even if we didn’t get lucky with the butterflies, it would be a good day out. When we got to the reserve, the sky was overcast and the temperature quite colder than in LA — Santa Barbara seems to have a microclimate of its own. As a result, the luscious greens of the ground cover were more saturated and walking around was more enjoyable. None of that southern Californian sun that washes out everything. The downside was that the butterflies were not very active. After walking around a path that took us through a beech grove, a few vernal pools and a wide field covered in wild flowers in view of the ocean, we reached the eucalyptus grove that is the local roosting spot for thousand of Monarch butterflies who migrate to California to overwinter. The butterflies gather in clusters hanging from the eucalyptus trees and from a distance resemble branches of dead leaves, then when the sun warms them up, they start fluttering around and you see that those dried brown leaves are not leaves after all. They detach form the clusters and reveal their bright orange inner wings. We didn’t see that many flying around, but it was a lovely way to spend the day. And if you wonder why Ben has his eyes closed in that picture, it’s because he was listening to the birds.

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