My blog about knitting, teaching, and being a mother to two energetic young boys.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

All things must come to an end....

I can't believe how quickly 7 days at sea went by! Our last day was spent cruising College Fjords in Prince William Sound. I've been to the fjords several times, but again - still enjoy the magnificent scenery.

During the last afternoon, Aunt Sis & I participated "On Deck for the Cure" - a 3K walk around the ship to support Breast Cancer Research. A great way to get exercise (they say on average cruisers gain 3 pounds per day!!) and to support a fantastic cause.

Here's a photo to show why gaining weight is a distinct possibility:
Yum! Add to that the daily cocktail hour & dessert & if you weren't careful you'd be hauling around your own personal excess baggage!

Here's a photo of our table companions - Jerry & Marsha from Minnesota. Vesi from Romania and Justin from the Philippines were our waiters for the week. We had 2 other people at our table, but they only dined with us only one night. I guess the siren call of the 24 hour buffet was stronger than our riveting nightly conversation.

Cheers!Isn't it pretty?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Alaska at It's Best

While on the cruise people wondered why an Alaskan would choose to take an Alaska cruise. I explained that it affords the opportunity for relaxation hard to get at home with 2 young boys & the chance to see parts of Alaska not accessible by the road system.

Our next 'port of call' if you will was Glacier Bay National Park. OMG - I think I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Even though I live here, I am always in awe of the majestic wonders of Alaska.

Not the best photos, I know - but take my word for it - this is a place everyone should visit. I'd love to go back & perhaps do some backpacking & just enjoy the scenery. I can see why many environmental groups are concerned with cruise ships entering the bay - I'd like to think the ship left no lasting damage.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Juneau & Skagway

Did you know the capital of Alaska is Juneau? The 3rd largest city in Alaska with approximately 30,000 residents & the seat of our state government (much to the dislike of many Alaskans). I'd last visited Juneau back in high school when Steve Cowper was our governor. Now, we have the infamous Sarah Palin, who helped put my hometown of Wasilla, AK on the map, but who couldn't be further from sharing my views on many subjects.

Let's digress from politics, shall we? Juneau was fantastic - the weather was fabulous. We spent the morning walking around downtown & just happened to wander into a knit shop called Skeins. (What a shocker!) I purchased two skeins of sock yarn dyed by Bobbi Daniels of Raven Frog Yarns in Sitka. Of course - did I take a photo of this yarn? No. And right now, I'm just too lazy to go inside and upstairs to get it out of the stash. Perhaps another time...

The afternoon was spent on a tour called "The Taste of Juneau". The tour visited the Alaskan Brewing Company, Mendenhall Glacier, and a local cooking school. However, I had to cut the tour short due to some ailment (not Swine Flu). As soon as I entered the brewery & the smell was overwhelming. So - I took a cab back to the ship to spend the afternoon in our cabin. A quick nap, a warm beverage & I was good as new & ready for happy hour.

Next Port of Call: Skagway

As we cruised up the inside passage, our last land port of call was Skagway. In 1898, Skagway was the beginning of the Yukon Gold Rush. Many a miner arrived hoping to make their fortune, only to be thwarted by the rough terrain, and complications of going up the White Pass. Miners were required to have 2,000 lbs of equipment before they were permitted to enter Canada! That meant taking several trips up and down the 2,000 ft pass ferrying needed equipment. I don't remember the exact numbers (this is why I'm not a history teacher!) but I'd guess less than 1% of those hoping to strike it rich actually did so.
We took a short excursion up the White Pass. Since our travels brought us into British Columbia, we were required to bring passports along. Notice the knit hat & down vest? Skagway is Tlingit for "Land of the North Wind" - no lie. It was windy & chilly, so knits were apropos for the day.

A shot of the famous White Pass railway. While our tour was relatively short, it was probably the best of the trip. Our tour guide Paul something-or-other was fantastic. He was very knowledgeable about the area & great fun. He spends his time tending bar in Monterrey, CA and then he and his wife, whom he met in Skagway, drive north to drive tours during the summer. Seems like a fun life.

Of course - after the tour we headed to the spa to enjoy the thermal suite - a room with heated stone beds and scented steam rooms. Pure luxury! And don't forget - happy hour!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

North to Alaska

Back Post #1:

The week after school let out for the summer (the Friday before Memorial Day weekend), I met my fabulous aunt Sis in Vancouver for a 7 day northbound cruise to Alaska. Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and College Fjord were ports of call along the way.

For anyone considering a trip to AK, I highly recommend this start to exploring our marvelous state. First off - travel in May if you can. May tends to provide the best weather - sunshine & relatively dry. Then, after disembarking in Whittier or Seward (Whittier is closer to Anchorage), rent a car & do your own thing to explore. Lots of companies offer packaged tours, but remember you are on their time schedule - just a suggestion.

My aunt is my father's sister. Many of you may not know, but my father was killed in Vietnam - so she, and his twin brother, are my only biological/blood relatives that I have. I was fortunate enough to have a family (my mother remarried) that helped me maintain a strong relationship with my father's family. Aunt Sis (as I've always known her) is fantastic - she is a retired teacher & tons of fun to be around. She hadn't visited AK since I was married (almost 13 years ago), so we felt it was high time for a return trip. We took the 7-day cruise aboard the Island Princess. I chose this cruise line primarily for the fact that it went all the way to Whittier rather than disembark in Seward.

Day 1: Get acquainted with the ship and participate in the mandatory 'muster' drill.
Doesn't she look smashing in the orange life preserver?

We opted for a stateroom with a balcony. We were on the port side which provided plenty of afternoon sun. In fact, the head maitre'd, Vincenzo, gave me a hard time for the raccoon face attributed to wearing sunglasses.

Port of Call #1 - Ketchikan

Ketchikan is the rainiest place in Alaska. Rather than measure the amount of rainfall using inches, they use feet! I think I remember they have over 200 days of rainfall during the year - no shocker as to why the environs is a lush coastal rain forest. We left the ship to take a quick walk through the rain forest and coastal wildlife preserve. We didn't see any wildlife, but had a chance to experience a quick downpour.

This is a caribou - kept in at the preserve, for a reason I don't know. Perhaps to give tourists a chance to say they fed a reindeer?

The stop in Ketchikan was brief, so we didn't take time to wander into down town & find the local knitting shop. In 1995, my hubby and I (fiance at the time) took a cruise in the Caribbean with Princess as a perk for my summertime employment (I used to drive tour buses). We missed the ship at one port & had to have the pilot boat rush us to the ship & climb up a rope ladder to get on. Pretty crazy, so now I'm very cautious about being back at the ship at the correct time.

Of course, that meant being on board in time for happy hour.

Our evening ritual was to visit the Crooner's Bar on deck 7 - the Martini Bar & decorated with scenes of Frank Sinatra and his gang. We got to know Christian our bar tender & sampled several varieties of Martini. Yum Yum.... I think I need to go to a store & buy the appropriate supplies.

Next stop - Juneau!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not Socks!!

Hey look - finally a FO that's not a pair of socks!!

Introducing the Tulip Cardigan, take 2. If you recall, I knit one for my niece a year ago. This version was cast on during our 2008 summer road trip & finished this evening. It's for my good friend, Julie (who doesn't read this blog... or at least I don't think she does....) - whose baby shower is this Friday. Nothing like a deadline to get 2 sleeves, attached i-cord & loose ends all tied up.


Pattern: Tulip Cardigan by Coldwater Collaborative

Yarn: Dream in Color - The fabulous folks at coldwater collaborative put together the yarn & pattern in a kit. I can't tell you how much of each color I used, but I know it's more economical than buying 6 separate skeins. Unless you happen to have lots of odds & ends of DIC lying around, I'd go for the kit. The kit comes in both girl & boy varieties.

Needle: US size 7. The pattern calls for a size 5 for the attached i-cord & seed stitch trim. But of course, while I thought I had all of my needles with me during our road trip, alas - no size 5 double points, or tips available. So - I did the entire garment with one size needle. I don't think the little be-ba will care, do you?

Here's a close-up of the applied i-cord (cast on 3, pick up stitch on sweater, slide 4 stitches to left needle, K2, ssk, pick up & knit stitch from sweater, slide 4 stitches to left, etc) & seed stitch trim. I made the ties a bit long so they can be tied in a bow.

A gratuitous photo our our almost 13 year old (look at her gray muzzle) dog, Joulee (named after the unit of energy, Joule - she was a very energetic puppy & adolescent). She just wanted her photo taken - I think she forgot how old she is. Isn't she sweet?

Okay - what to knit next? Hey, Teach, part 2? More of the February Lady Sweater that's gathering dust, finish the Shur'tugal mate? Choices, choices. I'd better choose soon - school's over in a week & then I leave to meet my fabulous Aunt for our north bound Alaska cruise. :0)


Monday, May 11, 2009

Double Points Mondays

But what if I prefer the Magic Loop?

Oh - you mean this sign isn't just for knitters? Hmmmm

Friday, May 8, 2009

May Flowers

April showers bring May flowers!!


Pattern: Rogue Roses by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka The Yarn Harlot)
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, Medium weight
Colorway: Gertrude Skein
Needles: KnitPicks 1.5
Dates: April 25 - May 8, 2009 (I knit the 1st sock in 2 days!!)
Size: Medium
Modifications: None really, other than not continuing the pattern all the way to the toe. I stopped after 5 repeats on the foot & then knit a standard wedge toe.

Recipient: My friend Julie in honor of her impending motherhood

These were such fun to knit. Lots of stockinette to let the sock fly by, but plenty of other things to keep you from getting bored. Making the little rose buds turned out to be pretty fun. Although -somewhere along sock #2 a rosebud 'fell off'. Oops - noticed that as I was knitting the foot; no way in hell I was ripping back. Rosebuds fall of bushes all of the time, right? Knitting with the medium weight also allows the socks to fly off the needles.

My friend inadvertently saw these socks before the planned unveiling at her baby shower next week. Fortunately, she doesn't know they are for her & her reaction with oohs and aahs lets me know she will like them. :0) Now to finish the baby sweater for her little bump.

The photo makes the yarn look very orange-y. I think that's because I rushed out to take photos this morning (around 7:40am) as the sun was just above the mountains. Here's another to show the detail & the color:

Enjoy the weekend! I know I will - the sun is shining & the snow is gone! :0)

Ciao ~