Wednesday, January 15, 2020

ScrapHappy Day : yarn as scraps?

One of the great things about participating in a stitch-a-long is that you meet a lot of other crafty folk, and then you meet their networks, and so on. I noticed that some people in my stitch-a-long take part in a "ScrapHappy Day" -- a day to show the projects you make from scraps -- and that I even knew the organizers!

A lot of my fellow stitchers are also quilters, and while I have quilted, I haven't made time to do it lately. So I didn't think I really had anything to show. And then I wondered, would leftover yarn be considered "scraps"?

Well, yes. Yes I say. And it's a lot of yarn.

How might someone end up with quite so much scrap yarn? Well, it's like this.

In 2017 I made a temperature afghan using "15 shades of grey" -- 15 shades, from black to white, reflecting different temperatures. A lot of people do their temperature afghans with a rainbow motif -- not my style -- or with 8 colors. Not me -- I went to the fabric store and pulled the largest range of black to white I could. It remains one of my all-time favorite craft projects. Here's the end of January, in the cold, dark winter:

Here's a few months in, when I realized it was going to be massive.

And here's the end of August, when I realized this massive blanket was going to be too long for a bed (but my cat didn't care).

The problem with a temperature afghan is that you don't know in advance how much of any particular yarn you're going to need. Because I wanted a greyscale afghan, I had to use multiple yarn brands ... thus increasing the chance that any one might go out of stock/production during the year. I bought one skein of each and when I ran out, bought an additional skein. In one case I managed to get the last skein listed on the Jo-Ann website in Western Washington -- and had to drive 15 miles to go get it.

But for the most part, I had extra yarn. We only topped 90 degrees F 3 days in 2017, and never topped 95, so the skein for "Elephant" was barely touched, and the white skein was untouched. Other colors were replaced late in the year, and were mostly full, too. So what to do?

While I loved the temperature afghan, the last thing I needed was ANOTHER TEMPERATURE AFGHAN. So the yarn went back into a box and into the basement.

At some point in 2019 I saw this pattern for a Rainbow Stained Glass Blanket by Pat Foster online and thought, "Oh! This might be DESIGNED to use up leftover temperature afghan yarn!:

I decided that, rather than use grey "leading" and a rainbow, I'd use black yarn leftover from this and other projects and fill in the "windows" with my shades of grey. And it's PERFECT:

Sadly the photos don't really show the different shades -- I blame the light-correction on the iPhone trying too hard! But hopefully you can see that the colors start with a very dark charcoal and are now at a medium grey.

My plans are to use up as much of the scrap yarn as I can by crocheting each color three times -- or as yarn allows. Given that I don't make a ton of time to crochet, I'm pleased with my progress so far. And it feels great to work on a project that didn't require new supplies!

ScrapHappy Day is organized by Kate and Gun, so if you're interested in participating please see their blogs. And why not check out what all the other scraptacular folks have been making out of their scraps?

Kate, Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline, and Sue L.

I'll be back on the 15th of February, hopefully showing off more progress!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Travel Tuesday : The Pyramids of Giza

Got up early and had a quick breakfast before going out to meet Alaa, our driver. Again, having the driver was fantastic: he took us to buy water ("it's very hot -- and water inside is very expensive") and then drove us to the ticket counter, waited until we went through the controls, and then drove us to the Great Pyramid.

We went IN the great pyramid -- strange -- you go in and then up a very steep, small ramp, and then up a steeper but tall ramp, and then squeeze through a low doorway into the chamber... which was full of what I must assume were so-Cal hippies chanting. Awesome. The best part was that they had seated themselves right in front of the door -- so you had to squeeze past them into the room. Oh, and they shushed you when you made noise. Great.

It was at that point that I realized that the pyramids are just amazing manmade structures, very old. Not spiritual beacons. Just buildings. Amazing buildings, but just buildings.

At some point they stopped and all you could hear was breathing. Then, after a few minutes they started again. That (and the fact that I was dripping with sweat in the heat) was my cue to squeeze back out past the hippies, telling the people trapped outside that there was plenty of room inside if they could just squeeze in.

Then down down down the ramps, scary scary, and back out into the fresh air. I was amazed at how big all the blocks were.

Alaa was waiting, and took us around to the smaller tombs. He told us to give the guard $1 or 5 pounds each, AFTER looking, and no more. So he convinced the guard to unlock the doors and let us in. There was some back and forth, but we did get in. Smaller tombs but more inside them -- lovely carvings, some still with paint. Really happy we got to see them.

Then back to the car and Alaa drove us to a panorama point and took silly pictures of us making pyramid shapes. I loved seeing police on camels. Alaa's presence kept other would-be guides and touts away, making the money completely worthwhile.

A few more stops for photos -- by the small pyramid, by the sphinx, and then we were dropped at a papyrus museum. Bless. But it wasn't a hard sell, and they showed us how they make papyrus. Pretty interesting. Of course, we didn't buy anything. Then back to the hotel, where we hung out for a few hours before catching our train to Luxor.

Pyramids: so big! Still surprising to spot them out of the corners of our eyes.

Sphinx: Alan Bennet was right -- it is like meeting a famous person and being surprised by how small they are in real life.

Alaa: marvellous. He bought me a falafel to try and then laughed when we told him we eat it at home. At one point he and I chatted while Wil was in the loo and he told me he has a family here in Cairo but another wife in South Africa. Wow! I took his picture and he said "You can e-mail it to me." Really nice man -- he kept the hassle away from us completely.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Hike(-let) of the Week : Twin Ponds Park

We didn't have a ton of time -- so much to do! -- and the weather was pretty miserable. So we pinpointed a park near where we needed to head later in the day and decided to explore there.

I thought I had never been to this park -- though when we were walking around I realized I had been there when the north pond was home to river otters. Still, it was a nice, very brief walk.

We parked on Meridian and entered the park via the Trail of the Cedars.

It was well maintained, level, and dry despite all the rain we had been having. Soon we came into sight of the first pond:

You can tell by the photo just how rainy it was -- absolutely pelting down with rain.

We followed the edge of the lakes, eventually going around the northern lake. The water seems pretty high here...

And eventually went around the soccer field and into a little wooded area called the Arboretum, behind a p-patch and a tennis court. But this was essentially a dead end, so we headed back the way we came.

There's a trail -- we could see it in person, and it was marked on the map -- but it looked pretty overgrown, and I had read that there's a little stream crossing, so we avoided it and skirted the soccer field again.

We walked next to the lakes for a bit.

And then crossed a little "land bridge" between the two of them. Isn't this beautiful?

But all too soon we were back at the Trail of the Cedars and back out to the car -- a very short "hike".

the very wet wildlife
Still, it's the first conscious "let's go out and walk on a trail" of the year, so I'm including it in my 2020 Vision project. They can't all be big treks!!!

Twin Ponds Trail

1.3 miles
43 feet elevation gain

Friday, January 10, 2020

Concrete and the Skagit Eagle Festival

Yeah, I love the town of Concrete. We love camping in the area, hiking in the area, and stopping in Concrete when we can. Visiting their Skagit Eagle Festival had been high on my list for 2020.

We stayed in the very nice cabins at Rasar State Park, ran a 5K on Saturday morning, and even (finally!) went to see a movie at the adorable Concrete Theater. But other than that, it was ALL ABOUT EAGLES.

After the run -- and because the weather seemed to be holding -- we drove out to Rockport to the Skagit Eagle Interpretive Center. I really just wanted to poke my head in and look around, but it turned out a National Forest Service ranger was about to lead a nature walk along the river, so we joined in.

And then the heavens opened. A little boy, visiting from Texas, said, "Whoa, is that HAIL?!?!" Luckily Wil had suggested we put on our goretex jackets and hats, so we weren't caught out. Still, the weather and my level of preparedness (did I mention I was in running tights?) and the large group of chatty folk -- never great on a nature walk -- meant we went rogue and turned back on our own.

So of course we went to the little Rockport Pub, which is adorable, and I had a pint of very nice tart raspberry cider while Wil wisely had a hot toddy.

Then we walked up to the 530 bridge over the Skagit and chatted with a NFS volunteer who let us look through her spotting scope at a juvenile eagle in a nearby tree. Then we drove to the little pullout "park" near mile marker 100 and looked at an adult.

Eventually we drove up to Newhalem -- I thought the road was closed there; turns out you could still go another few miles to Diablo -- and started to head back downriver. We popped into "downtown Concrete", desperately wanting to patronize the hardware store but realizing we weren't really in a position to buy a big leaf rake and keep it in the car.

We stopped in at Miga, an Asian restaurant down on the highway near Annie's Pizza Station (Don't worry -- we had already bought our Annie's Pizza on Friday night!), and had really nice bibimbap and a traditional Korean drink. One of those two things caused me to flush BEET RED, but them's the breaks.

Then back up to Concrete where we had a time-wasting drink at the Pub, and then -- dream fulfilled! -- to the Concrete Theater to see a movie!

Okay, so we'd seen Star Wars before, but still. That theater is so sweet, and the couple who own it are so lovely, it was a pleasure to go.

Sunday morning we got up, layered up with warm clothing and gore-tex, and headed back to Rockport for another adventure: an eagle-watching float trip on the Skagit with Skagit River Eagle Tours.

We were driven upriver to Marblemount, then climbed aboard big aluminum boats with comfy seats AND HEATERS for a float downriver. The boat was uncrowded with 5 passengers plus our friendly guide, and for the next 3 hours we floated along, our guide pointing out sights and telling us things -- and of course watching eagles.

It was getting wetter by the minute, but I especially loved floating down "eagle alley" and seeing the big adults so close. I was amazed by their big furry legs.

The trip was really lovely -- and when we got off the boat, we headed up to the car and I suddenly realized just how cold it was, and that the "handwarmer" parts of my sleeves were soaking wet and I was shivering. (It was fine on the boat near those heaters!!!) We grabbed some dry clothes and headed over to the Rockport Pub where we were treated like regulars (2x in 2 days = regulars!), ordered hot toddies, and I changed out of my wet shirt into something dry and warm.

The weekend was great -- and we probably had better luck sighting eagles in the bad weather than we would have in good weather.

The Skagit Eagle Festival continues for the next three weeks, with some activities available every weekend, and others only on certain days. Skagit River Float Trips operates every day and the float trip is fun. Besides, EAGLES.