Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Beautiful stream, so broad and blue

Today I bring you the majestic Hudson River. I had the opportunity to travel down its banks a few times this week and its beauty took my breath away.

These are the Palisades, on the New Jersey side of the river. All of these were taken from a moving train so there may be some imperfections.

The Tappan Zee bridge:

There are some ugly electric wires in the way here. I had a tough time finding a view of the Tappan Zee that didn't include wires.

Looking downriver at the Tappan Zee:

A couple of shots of the river by itself.

The river is home to many, many sailboats.

The Bear Mountain bridge

And finally the Newburgh Beacon bridge:

It has been a beautiful fall week with blue skies and that reflects in the river. Unfortunately, the leaves are just beginning to turn color. When they do, these vistas are truly spectacular.

I knitted on Viajante all the way down and back, except when I was clicking photos. I must have looked like a starry-eyed tourist. It was fun playing one for a few hours at home.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

TdF 2013 prizes

I was lucky to win a number of prizes in the 2013 Tour de Fleece. I realized I hadn't posted about them, so here goes.

Fiber and spindle courtesy of the Wayward Sheep. The color is a special dye for the Tour de Fleece.
Spunky Eclectic Fiber club selection donated by a fellow Raveler.

And last but not least, a complete set of Trindle shaft and arms by Trindleman
The blue arms and the shaft were my prize. The smoky quartz arms were a gift from Trindleman. I put them all on so you can see the latest Trindles - a 6 socket hub so you can mix and match arms to get even more flexibility with respect to weight.

I also ordered a Jenkins Aegean when Ed Jenkins briefly opened up a window for custom orders. I left the design to him and now am the proud owner of a pear Aegean.
I think my spindle herd is complete. I no longer look at listings and lust after them. I have the spindles I want and now just need to spin on them.

I have been knitting away on Viajante. Nothing exciting to show yet. The triangle is getting bigger.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shawl cozies

I can hear you now... what on earth is she talking about now? Well, I would have had the same reaction a few weeks ago but I read a thread on Ravelry about a portable, roll-up shawl pattern. In the thread, one knitter pointed to a number of shawl cozies she had knitted. One was based on a candle cozy, another was a based on a pouch pattern. It got my gears churning.

I don't like what happens to a shawl when you toss it into a bag. It always gets messed up and I am afraid that it will get caught in a zipper. Sometimes I store them in ziplock bags but I don't like putting them in plastic.

I also had some leftover handspun yarn from the spring shawl I made this year. So I thought I would knit myself one. I made it like a sock toe. I started with Judy's magic CO and increased every other round on both sides till I got to a normal sock width (80 sts). After that, I knit straight for a bit and then kep increasing about every inch till I had 100 sts. I wanted it to be a bit wider to accommodate the shawl. But it turns out that I didn't need to do that.

I got bored and added a lace panel thinking I'd end with the lace. But I got bored knitting lace and went back to stockinette. Then I got bored with stockinette again and did some textured pattern I made up - a round of k2, p2 and then a round of k but I staggered the knits and purls on the next k2, p2 round. I ended with some more stockinette and a rolled edge. The end result is something that I'm pretty pleased about.

This is what I ended up with:
I rolled the shawl up like a burrito:
And this is what the end result is:
I added some ribbon I had laying around. I think I will move it a bit further down but for now, it is done. It can be used as a little pillow also. Which leads me to my next idea...
Yes, it is an envelope. But it is a knitted envelope. And large enough to hold one of my larger shawls. With the shawl inside, it would be a nice pillow and would also hold the shawl secure. I have some thicker handspun that I can knit up into a firm fabric which will be more pillow-like than the soft flexible bag that I made last week. Practice skeins are good for this sort of thing.

I don't anticipate making one for each shawl but just a couple in different sizes that can be used for any shawl.

Interesting, right? Did I inspire you to knit a shawl cozy? Or even to sew one?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A little taste of Tibet

On one of my trips to Beijing, I had the opportunity to visit the Yonghe Lama Temple. The temple is a place of worship and photography inside the temples is not permitted. But it is set in a lovely garden and there are a lot of buildings - each one containing one or more shrines. So I took some photos in the garden and around the outside of the buildings. It is a lovely, peaceful place.

I was surprised by the fact that this is a very old temple that was set up when Tibetan lamas lived in Beijing and taught the Emperor and his children. I thought it was a relatively recent temple. There is a museum in the temple that has a lot of artifacts which were gifts to the lamas as well as gifts to the temple. 

The buildings all are beautifully decorated...

Here are some closeups of the painting
There was a giant bell there. I wish I could have heard it but it was silent.
And many prayer wheels. I spun all of them and sent my prayers out to the wind.
Inside the shrines, people were worshiping with incense and prostration. There was a huge Buddha statue in one of the shrines. Others had much smaller ones. The large Buddha is a couple of stories high and carved completely out of one block of sandalwood.

And that, dear readers, is all I have from a travel perspective. I have to travel some more before I have more travelogues to write for you.

Therefore, we will move on to the next topic - fiber.

As you remember from my last post, I have been spinning some Briar Rose BFL. I finished the two singles on Thursday evening.
Now, my plan was to do a sample ply and see how the plied yarn looked when knit up. But as I started plying, I realized that the look kept changing as the colors of the two singles changed. So a sample would not be representative of the yarn. I therefore decided to go ahead and ply it up but I stop every so often and look at it. I wasn't able to photograph it at each stop because my hands were in the singles. But I did take a few photos when I had to stop for other reasons. Sometimes I liked the yarn, sometimes I didn't. But I will say that it looks better than some of the green by itself. The green has some gorgeous spots and some that just look like mud. The rose also has a few spots that look like mud. So the combination, while more muted than the best spots in either one, makes for a more cohesive look. I think it will look like an Impressionist painting with tweedy flecks of both singles visible. But that is left to the future.

Here's a composite of the photos I took. I am a little less than half way through the plying. I had to stop as the battery ran out of charge. I will finish it up tomorrow.
There were some muddy bits where the rose yarn was brown and the green yarn was green. But overall, it is not too bad. The purples in the photos are a bit brighter than in real life. And some of the sections are rather green where the rose yarn was a yellowish tan. On the whole I am happy with the result so far but of course, the proof will only come when I knit it up.

The fiber is gorgeous. It has a lovey sheen that you can see and it drafted like butter. Even while plying, it feels silky and smooth. And it is going to be a cardigan which means that all these colors will be affected by what I wear with it.

Next time there will be more knitting as I think I am going to take a break from spinning after this long spinning project.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sunsets and more, Down Under

I went to Australia and New Zealand for about 10 days. Unlike the trip to Istanbul where I was in one city, this one was a few days here, a day there, a couple of days here, and so on. As a result I spent more time in airports than outside. So there was limited opportunity to  sight-see. I got some in but I also needed to veg out a bit the one weekend I was there. Therefore I didn't use it to its full potential.

I spent my first day wandering around the Riverwalk in Melbourne. I arrived mid-morning and of course there was no room ready. So I checked in, and took myself and my knitting to a cafe on Riverwalk where they didn't mind me sitting for a few hours. I got breakfast and coffee and sat and knit and people-watched for a few hours before I packed up and headed further out.

There are pedestrian bridges across the river, along with vehicle bridges. I didn't cross the river at all. The river here is the Yarra river.
There are restaurants, mostly, lining the river side and the walkway is used by both pedestrians and cyclists. Behind the restaurants there are office buildings, the Eureka Tower and other residential buildings. My destination was one of those office buildings. My hotel was in a casino complex that I had to walk through daily to work. It was easier walking through the complex than going outside as I didn't have to cross any streets this way.

I walked along to the next vehicle bridge and then went up to the street level to see what was going on. I was very pleased to see a street market outside the Arts Center
I didn't actually go in as I was taken up by the market. I showed you the things I bought a few posts ago. I also walked by the National Gallery which was having a Monet exhibit. I toyed with the idea of going in but it was 4 pm and the gallery closed at 5 so I decided not to. I tend to loiter in front of art.
As I walked back to the hotel, I found some more stalls in the market tucked away. There are outdoor sculptures around the arts center and the stalls were surrounding one of them, Kids were happily playing in the sculpture which seemed to be tailor made for exploration.
More photos of the Riverwalk:

An interesting sculpture or two..

My hotel room had a fabulous view.

I flew to Auckland, New Zealand next and didn't leave my hotel except to find an ATM. I was speaking at a conference in the hotel and I had a lot of meetings to attend via phone so I ended up spending the evening in my room. Auckland is 3 hours ahead of China which is in turn 12 hours ahead of the US Eastern time zone. So I was 15 hours ahead of the US. This made all the meetings happen in the evening!

But I did get a glimpse of the Sky tower, which was quite close to my downtown hotel.
There was also a lovely St. Patrick's church down the street.
What little I saw was charming. Auckland, I will be back!

My next stop was Canberra, Australia. Here again, I didn't see anything because I went from hotel to work to airport. But I got some lovely photos from the plane flying to and from Canberra.

Next stop was Sydney, where I spent the weekend. My hotel in Sydney was right on Circular Quay, although I got a 'city view' room.
The same view by day...
A very kind colleague took me to the Blue Mountains on the weekend. Coming from a hot, humid, hazy summer Shanghai, I found the winter light and air really beautiful.

My first view of the mountains:
The wattle was in full bloom.
Our first stop was in Mt. Hay where we hiked a bit and had a picnic lunch. Mt. Hay is only reachable by a 4WD vehicle so it is a little out of the way for crowds.

This is banksia which I had seen made into crafts at the arts market.
Our lunch spot:
It was extremely windy and we had to anchor everything down. We didn't linger because we felt as if we would blow away! But I did stop to admire this interesting rock.
We hiked back to the car, and drove to another lookout point, called Cahill's Lookout.
Our last stop of the day, mostly because it was getting near sunset and things were closing, was the Three Sisters. The evening light bathed the rock formations, highlighting the colors and the strata that comprises them.
More sunset photos:

The next day I wandered around Circular Quay and went to the Rocks Market, which I remembered from my last trip decades ago. There is a lot of stuff that is imported from other places but I focused on the local craftspeople and designers. It was a fun browse.

Along the way, I took a few photos of things that I don't have to name. By day...
and by night...
I also took some photos of the Circular Quay...
and a Master Chef tent and truck
There was activity outside the tent but no customers that I could see. People were carrying boxes in. The truck, however, was serving food. In this photo, it hadn't started yet. But later, I saw people buying food. Not a long line so maybe it is a regular thing.

And with that, my trip to the Land Down Under was over.