Sunday, April 11, 2021

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 2

Hi everyone! Not sure where the three weeks have gone! I'm just getting started on Hokusai's "Great Wave Off Kanagawa", which means there's not much to see. I love the original woodblock print, and the closer I look at the pattern, the more I learn about it. There are so many details to see! 

Here's where I was last time, just getting a tiny start: 

I soon realized that I really would need the gridlines I'd seen so many of the talented stitchers in this stitch-a-long use. I have in the past, on the small projects I've worked on, done the main central lines, but this piece is much larger than I am used to. 

I also realized that I would be better off with the frame rolled horizontally -- meaning I wouldn't have to reach so high around the frame.  So I took it off, re-mounted it, and stitched a lot of grid lines... every ten stitches. 

I really wasn't sure how big a piece to work on at a time; inspired by Japanese writing, I decided to work top to bottom, right to left, in columns. (Top half first, anyway...)

The colors are so subtle, but I love how they show the stormy sky. 

I only got one slightly wide (13 stitches, a per the pattern) column done, plus another one started. At this rate, you'll be seeing this project for the next 18 months!!! 

In the meantime, please visit the blogs of the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long. I know at least a couple of them are doing happy dances today because they have finished their most recent projects -- which is always inspiring!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Outstanding Blogger Award

The fabulously talented Kathy from Sewing, Etc. nominated me for the Outstanding Blogger Award, which was a nice surprise. She gave her nominees five questions to answer, and I like how I had to think about each one before I could answer. 

How do you learn best? Lessons, watching, a mentor? 

I learn best by using my hands. Whether it's a new craft, a dance step, or something technical like Google Analytics, I could watch someone do something for hours, but until I actually try it for myself (over and over, in some cases), it just won't make sense to me. 

Did you do post high school training to prepare you for a career? If yes, what was it, and are still doing that? If no, tell us how you got to the career you are doing!

After high school I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next – I studied fashion design for a couple of years! Through that I fell in love with the history of costume, which then led me to study history. I set my sights on a PhD and becoming a professor, but then while taking a break from writing my thesis after my doctoral exams, I took a job as the history books editor at – possibly the best job I could have imagined at the time! I read books, wrote book reviews, recommended books, interviewed authors, and learned a lot about early ecommerce and email marketing. 

I've always said I didn't have a career path so much as a career trail system – I've worked in publishing, managed brand aesthetics for a major telecom company, developed email marketing programs in the outdoors industry, and, for a couple of very cool years, wrote and edited travel guides. I love projects where I can feel useful, help people have great experiences, and most of all learn something. So I'm not sure my university education formally prepared me for it, in the traditional sense, but it did point me in the right direction! 

What do you look for in a friend? 

I look for someone who makes me laugh, someone I can trust, and someone who loves to learn new things and have new experiences. 

Early Bird or Night Owl? 

A younger me would have definitely said night owl, but now I wake up a little after 6 a.m. every day without an alarm and then start the day with a 4-mile walk to a park with a view of Puget Sound. Our morning walks have really helped keep us sane during the COVID year, and we hope to continue them as life gets back to "normal". 

Favorite instrument to listen to? 

This is tough – I feel like the only real answer I could give is the stereo! I love violins and the many ways they are played. But I think more than anything, I love the sound of the human voice. I can't sing well myself (I can't even sing Happy Birthday in tune!), but I like to sing along with music. 

I had never learned to play an instrument – any instrument – but a couple of years ago my husband gave me a ukulele and lessons for Christmas. Learning to pluck and strum simple tunes and sing along to them was a real joy. I haven't kept up with it, but every time I pick it up and play something simple like "Jambalaya" it makes me smile.

I really appreciate the nomination, Kathy; though I admit I don't really know many bloggers, and am a bit of an oddball, blogging wise, having started this blog to track our running training, then documented our travel, and nowadays mainly crafting and the occasional hike! That said, one day we'll get to travel again.

If I was going to ask my own set of questions, I'd ask the following:

1. When we are all past the coronavirus lockdowns, and it's safe to travel again, where is the first place you want to go? Assume there are no restrictions on your time, budget, etc. 

2. What is your favorite book, and why?

3. If you could only eat one dish or cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

4. What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with, and why?

5. Big party or intimate gathering -- where are you happier?

Feel free to post your answers in the comments below; I'd love to know more about my readers!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 1

Hi everyone! It's happy dance time!

Last time I had decided to work on both the Starry Night embroidery and the sashiko bag. And, well, I finished the stitching on both! In fact, I got my sewing machine out and actually finished off the bag:

I had some fun fabric printed with origami rabbits, which seemed like a good match, so used it for the lining. 

It's fun and satisfying to make something "useful" -- though to be honest, I use the other sashiko bag I made a couple of years ago to hold.... you guessed it, my sashiko supplies!

I also finished the stitching on the Starry Night embroidery:

I got into a rhythm and by the time I started to embroider the cypress trees in the foreground I was really happy with it. Amusingly, when I compare it to Van Gogh's painting, the color is much different. But I still like the piece. 

The real challenge, now, is to figure out what to do with it now that it's done. I mean, I'm pretty sure we have established that I don't need any more pillows! And I don't want to hang it on the wall. The circular shape makes it a little more challenging, weirdly, as does the fact that it's 8" in diameter. I suspect I'll end up appliquéing to something... but I don't know what. I'd welcome suggestions! 

So... the next project. It's Hokusai's "Great Wave off Kanugawa". 

It's a large piece, 206x140 stitches. I've decided to break it into smaller pieces, though I've never done a large, full-coverage cross stitch project like this so I honestly don't know how big each section should be! But for now I've cut off one strip from the right side of the very large chart and diving in. Not much to see yet!

At the end of three weeks I'll have a better idea of how long this will take. But I suspect you'll be seeing this project for a Very Long Time. 

In the meantime, please visit the blogs of the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long -- you're sure to be inspired by all the amazing things they do!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

New Project(s) Stitch-a-Long, part 1

When we last checked in, three weeks ago, I was trying to decide what project to work on next because I finished stitching Mister Tiger! Would it be the small but for me stressful freeform embroidery of "Starry Night"? Or the big full-coverage cross-stitch of a classic Hokusai print? Or the small and in the end functional sashiko bag? 

Well, first things first -- I ordered trim and fabric off the internet, crossed my fingers, and made up the Tiger needlepoint into a cushion. The trim isn't perfect -- even if I had been able to shop in person it is always a challenge for trims, isn't it? -- but all in all I like how it turned out. 

Of course, now it's clear I have a PROBLEM and probably am not allowed to make any more needlepoint cushions. 

Kiki says "there is no room for me on the couch"

But back to the next project. I liked what a few people suggested -- balancing the freeform embroidery with the tidy, ordered world of sashiko. I have been trying to focus more on the Starry Night piece -- it' the one I find more difficult, so I am trying to work on it first. Not so much force myself -- hey, this is supposed to be fun, right? -- as flex myself. And though I think the colors aren't all that true to the original painting, I'm happy with what I have done so far. 

Most of the piece is done in long and short stitch, with a bit of satin stitch and some backstitching on the "village". I'm now using reverse chain stitch to fill in the trees and give them a little different texture. 

I plan on finishing this up over this nice long weekend; it's my husband's birthday and we're heading off to a cozy cabin in a state park a couple of hours north of here. Heating, electricity, a full bathroom, but no television or internet, and only limited phone service. Bliss!

I also plan on finishing the stitching on this cute sashiko bag. I've gotten a little over half of one side done, so finishing the stitching on that is next up. 

No bonus points for guessing what project will follow these two! I made copies of the big charts and am going to try to approach it like a lot of my fellow stitchers in this stitch-a-long do; by stitching one section at a time. As someone who usually stitches by color in bunches, I'm not sure how that will go!

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. I'll report back in three weeks. In the meantime, please visit the blogs of the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long -- you're sure to be inspired by all the amazing things they do!

Avis, Claire, Gun, CaroleConstanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, CarmelaSharon, DaisyAnne, Connie, AJ, JennyLaura, Cathie, Linda, and Helen.

Also, a fond farewell to Sue who is leaving our stitch-a-long. I'll miss checking in with her every three weeks!

Monday, February 15, 2021

2021 Elwha Bridge 5K Race Report

In 2020, the Elwha Bridge 5K was the last in-person event we were able to attend. Sadly -- obviously, only a minor sadness compared to the world's worth of sadness in 2020 -- the other four races in the series had to be virtual events. Still, we we so impressed by the organization, planning, and, yes, the swag that we signed up for the Run The Peninsula series again in 2021. I mean, look at this year's medals!

As things are looking up, this race was permitted to be held in person. But -- and this is our discomfort -- we weren't ready to run with even a small number of heavy breathers. (Ourselves included.) So despite having already booked the hotel in Port Angeles again, we decided to participate virtually. 

The RD was very understanding, and let us swap our registrations to virtual events, and even shipped us our swag early to make sure we'd have it on time. See, we had decided that we still wanted and deserved a weekend away -- just a very isolated one. 

So on Friday afternoon we packed up and headed out. We made the first ferry, and even got across the Hood Canal Bridge with no trouble. We were a little sad not to be given an upstairs room at the hotel, but turns out the top floor was being renovated, so we didn't have upstairs neighbors anyway!

We ordered some food for takeout, then came back to the room, listened to music, watched random TV, and ate in bed. Bliss!

We got up early in the morning -- a nice but chilly day. We put on our running gear walked out of the front of the hotel, and ran eastward along the Olympic Discovery Trail. The sun was just coming up and we had the trail nearly to ourselves -- during our entire run we encountered a total of 11 other people, and were able to stay distant from them all. 

We set our watches for 3.1 miles, and ran and walked until we hit the distance. You can tell I did run -- my glasses were steamed up!

Note that we're both wearing our RTP buffs; part of the swag from this event. Oh, and of course we carried our medals with us for our finisher pic!

As I said before, the swag was fun and useful: the custom buff, no-tie shoelaces, and a luggage tag. 

And, yes, this very cute medal. 

Sure, it was, for us, only a virtual run. But we have such good memories of last year that I felt like it still deserved a proper race report. 

We spent the rest of the weekend in our cozy hotel room, going for walks along the trail, finally climbing up that viewing tower on the pier, and enjoying the different scenery.

The next race in the series is scheduled for April 24, in Sequim. I don't hold a lot of hope that we'll have been vaccinated by then, so we will probably run this remotely, too. We'll see. I think we'll still head over to the peninsula for a little R&R!

Elwha River Bridge 5K


13:41 pace

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Tiger Stitch-a-Long : It's happy dance time!!!

Hi everyone! Hope you are all safe and healthy. I'm wishing we lived in the UK; my in-laws received letters notifying them of when and there they had appointments for their COVID vaccination jabs, whereas I am checking 43 different links twice a day to try and get an appointment for my 86-year-old mother. But people are getting vaccinated, which is the good news -- we just haven't won the lottery yet, and I'm sure it's even worse in a lot of places. 

In happier news, I finished the stitching on Mister Tiger!

Apologies for the wavy picture -- it's actually pretty squared up in real life, so won't need much blocking. I'm going to attempt to order backing fabric and trim online ... always a little iffy to get the colors right. 

Now I know what you're thinking -- what's next? Frankly, I'd like your help. I have a few options here. 

One is an embroidery project, which might be perfect, given that February is "National Embroidery Month". It's a weird little kit I bought a while back, thinking I might enjoy it. And, well, to be honest it stresses me out a little! Or maybe I should say it stretches my skills because it's a little free-form, so should I say "impressionistic"?  

For me, deciding how much of each color to stitch is hard -- though the stitching itself is easy. I love this painting and want to do this "right". So it might be a good choice to work on because maybe I'll relax and let this idea that there is one correct solution go. 

Next option is based on another of my favorite works of art, Under the Wave, Off Kanugawa (aka "The Great Wave") by Hokusai. 

It's pretty straightforward; very nicely charted (no squinting at tiny charts!). And it's small compared to some of the projects my fellow stitchers work on -- though it is 10"x14", so it will be a nice long project. 

Finally, potential project number three is a very cute sashiko kit to make up into a bag. Longtime readers may remember an earlier sashiko bag from this same company that was a joy to stitch and worked up pretty quickly. This one has the added bonus of featuring a bunny!

I can't really decide -- so I'd love to hear what you think, and why. (What's clear is that I've moved from my "green period" into a "blue period"!) When we check in next time in three weeks I'll show off the progress made. In the meantime, visit the blogs of the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long -- you're sure to be inspired by all the amazing things they do!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, SueConstanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, CarmelaSharon, DaisyAnne, Connie, AJ, JennyLaura, Cathie, Linda, and Helen.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Hike of the Week: Camp Wil-Sun to Carkeek Park, 1/24/21

On a drizzly Sunday we decided to stay closer to home and got for a walk in a local park. But in order to get some extra miles under our feet, we walked there and back. And we visited part of the park we had never seen before. 

We made our way to Mary Street, as it appeared that a trail would lead from the dead end there into the park. Happily, yes! 

And soon we left the city behind us as we went downhill into the park. 

We reached a turn and a lookout over the water -- weirdly unexpected as we had never been in this part of the trail before. 

And then we continued down toward the bridge that crosses the railway tracks. I do always love stairs built into a trail!

There were a few too many people on the beach for our comfort, so we decided to turn and head back up the Piper Creek Trail and then to home. I always forget in November / early December, but I'd really like to come here to watch the salmon swimming upstream to spawn!

Not the most exciting or strenuous of hikes, but Carkeek Park is pretty, has some nice hills to climb, and didn't require us to get in a car, drive up a potholed forest road, or share a trail with too many people. I suspect we'll walk this loop again. 

Camp Wil-Sun to Carkeek Park

6.23 miles
512 feet elevation gain

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Hike of the Week - bonus! Snoqualmie Valley Trail, 1/17/21


A three-day weekend meant an extra day to fit in a little hike. After all the previous day's "close encounters" we decided to look for a wider trail. 

We've been enjoying the wide "rail trails" that crisscross our region, so decided to drive to a different section of a trail we have walked and ridden in the past: the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

We passed under I-90 and worried that it would be noisy. But we soon came to the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River and it drowned out all the traffic noise. 

To be honest, the trail was neither challenging nor particularly scenic. But it was quiet and we only saw a few other people on the trail the whole time we were out. 

Of course, none of the people we saw wore masks, soooo..... But the trail was wide and we were able to stay far away from everyone.

The trail was long, slow, gentle uphill -- which would be the perfect trail for me to run on. It also made me want to bring the bikes to this part of the trail and go for a long ride.

We had decided to go three miles up the trail, and three miles back. Nice and gentle. 

If we lived closer we would walk this trail all the time, even if this wasn't much of a "hike hike". Still, a nice, gentle day out.

Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Tanner to  ??

6.12 miles
378 feet elevation gain

Monday, January 18, 2021

Hike of the Week: Heather Lake, 1/16/21

We got up early on a Saturday and decided to take a little hike out to Heather Lake, which I had heard was frozen over. We arrived at the trailhead just before 8 and found it already pretty full -- despite the fact that the road up to the trailhead included about a half mile that was riddled with large potholes. Lucky (our Crosstrek) had no problem with them; but we saw a few cars that really struggled. 

The trail is short -- just 2.1 miles to the lake, then another scant mile around the lake at the end. 

It's a bit rocky, a bit rooty, and with all the recent rain much of the trail serves as the course of a stream. We were very happy to be wearing our waterproof books for creek crossings like this. 

We had packed our microspikes as I had heard there was some snow over the last quarter mile to the lake. I don't know that they were necessary, but they were definitely nice to have because, once we put them on, we didn't slip at all. 

We reached the lake after the short hike -- it was quiet and the lake still looked frozen over with a thin layer of snow. 

We walked around the lake, popping down to the shore now and again when we could. 

On the far side of the lake we thought we had reached the end of the trail -- at least for the winter. 

But the path curved and a series of boardwalks crossed what, in summer, would be marshy. 

The ice had that pretty, glacial blue tint to it. 

On the far side of the lake there was a lot of thawed water, especially in marshy areas. 

You can see that the lake was far from frozen solid -- about 3/4 of the way around there was a lot of open water. 

It was difficult to tell from the other photos, but here you get a sense of how much snow had been on these boardwalks -- though this side had much less snow piled up. It was a little like walking on a slippery balance beam on top of a bridge across icy water. So no pressure. 

Sadly on the way down the trail the later risers were crowding in -- for the last mile we passed dozens of people who were not wearing masks, and didn't make any effort to distance. Which, sadly, reminded us why we stopped hiking popular trails last summer. 

It's a very simple hike, and in non-COVID times would have been pretty pleasant. But I don't think we'd hike it again. 

Heather Lake

5.23 miles
1,211 feet elevation gain