Friday, July 16, 2010

Pulling my hair out

This is the saga of a sweater that either wasn't meant to be knit or had to be knit, I'm not sure. In summary, I had the wrong yarn, wrong pattern, then it was eaten by a dog twice, pattern lost, and I had to learn several knitting techniques while pulling out my hair along the way to even make the thing work.

It started with a trip to the Taos Wool festival in 2008, where the mountains of wool inspired me to knit a sweater for my husband, despite having only learned to knit a year earlier. I bought 1600 yards of yarn, in two colors which he picked out... then started looking for patterns only to discover that the thin yarn I bought would not make a men's sweater.

So it became my sweater. I found a tank-top pattern that I liked and thought to just make it a bit longer, with less of a scooping neck and add 3/4 sleeves to make it more of a sweater than a tank top. Nevermind that I had never made a sweater and did not know how to make sleeves, and the pattern wouldn't tell me. I'd deal with that when I got there.

I started knitting the sweater in September 2009, and a couple of months later discovered that my re-designed neckline was not acceptable. I undid the top of the shirt, and re-knit it. Then spent a couple of weeks researching sleeves and how to get the right size/shape. At about this time, the puppy managed to bite five holes into the front of the sweater. The helpful people at Village Wools taught me how to fix up those holes.

The sweater went along with me while camping in the winter, although I also found plenty of time to ignore the sweater by working on other projects.

As I was finishing up the sleeves, the puppy once again got her teeth on my project eating the needles off of it. It is possible to make a complete circle in our house from the dining room to living room to hallway to office to kitchen back to the dining room. Puppy did this trailing sweater yarn with her... twice. What a goofball and a terror, she is missed. I fixed that mess but lost my motivation to finish those sleeves, until just a few weeks ago.

And voila, I have a very well-fit sweater, as though it were custom-made for me! And no more hair to pull out!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mittens for Akkol

I will soon be embarking on a trip to Kazakhstan to participate in a seminar with the University of New Mexico and the Kazakh National University. Upon researching what kind of knitting tradition I might find in Kazakhstan, I found Mittens for Akkol. Click on that link! It's a charity that sends warm mittens, hats, socks, scarves and sweaters to orphanages in Kazakhstan. So I'm making and donating a hat and pair of mittens to take with me.
Pinwheel hat with Lion Wool (lemongrass) and Kerry woolen mills (berry). It's sized for a child and is quite thick and warm.

Now I'm starting on mittens in Plain and Fancy wool. They may not be completed before I leave, but in that case they certainly should be done after 26 hours of traveling.
If this sort of charity interests you, you should also check out Wool-aid. And even if you do not knit or crochet, these types of charities could also use cash donations to help ship donations to their destinations.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

San Pedro Parks

Once again, we ventured into uncharted territory (for us) within New Mexico for a backpacking trip over the holiday weekend. This is the San Pedro Parks wilderness section of the Jemez Mountains, a high-elevation wilderness of dense forest and grassy parks. Along with a friend who is visiting before moving to Colorado, we spent 4 days hiking about 40 miles. Couldn't really say exactly how many miles because we frequently found ourselves without a trail, despite bringing along a good trail map.

Above, is the highest point we reached: San Pedro Peak itself at 10,500 feet. As you can see, it was quite an accomplishment scrambling up those rocks to a height almost the same as Sandia Peak. Actually, the Geronimo Lake trailhead where we started is at about 9200 feet, so this whole area stays pretty high in elevation. We'll have to go back with cross-country skis in the winter!

Often, the trail was easy to follow, but other times it would disappear under thick grass crossing a park, or underneath fallen logs in the forest. Most of the time, we were able to pick the trail back up again, except on day 3 when we deliberately left the trail shortly before lunch. We didn't find a trail again until later in the afternoon, and then we had no idea what trail it was because it was not labeled. We didn't figure out where we were until the last day when we finally came across a trail intersection with a sign. Fortunately, we were about 8 miles from the trailhead and it was an easy walk out on Monday.

Apparently, carving names into trees is a tradition going back 70 years in this area, and it's hard to find an aspen with any blank space left. The handwriting on the trees helped us find the trail when it wasn't visible in the ground, but then it also led us down trails that certainly were not on our map.