Friday, March 27, 2009

The Last Kayak

Four of us went for a paddle today planning to go to Peck's, the seafood restaurant in Ozella. Peck's is about four miles from The Islands by kayak and 17 miles by car. Since the forecast was for possible thunderstorms this afternoon, we decided we would make a decision about completing the trip once we were out on the water. Here we are just setting off from Sue's dock.

It was windier that we expected once we were out on the bay but it was manageable. We moved right along through the twists and turns the route takes through the sawgrass. There wasn't a lot of wild life today, just American Anhingas and Cormorants. I want to note, for my sister's sake, that there were no alligators in view. Once we spotted the buildings that make up Ozella, Abby called to reserve a table. We were told there would be a wait. After a brief conference, we decided that waiting to get a table and the subsequent time it would take to get served would not be conducive to getting home before 4 PM to beat any thunderstorms. None of us wanted to be out on the water in severe weather. We turned around and headed back to The Islands. The wind was behind us allowing Doris and Sue to use their kayak sails. They were really moving along. It wasn't very difficult for Abby and me to paddle with that great tail wind. Before long Dixie Shores, particularly the pink house that is our landmark were in view. I estimate our total trip at about six miles.

Just because we couldn't get a table at Peck's didn't mean we were going to miss our chance to have lunch out. We drove to Cravings on the Water in Crystal River and had a delightful lunch there. Cravings serves seafood and Cuban inspired dishes and is located right on Kings Bay. We snagged an outdoor table with a view of the water. Dick came with us and served as the photographer.

I'm going to miss these women, kayaking and the Florida sunshine. It's hard to believe we will be boarding the Autotrain on Wednesday and arriving back in NJ on Thursday. It seems like only yesterday that we got here. We'll be carrying many wonderful memories back with us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I had been plugging along on Decimal for almost two weeks and making a goodly amount of progress when I suddenly grew bored and restless. I needed to start another project!! I've written before about my knitting ADD. I need to have more than one project going at a time so I can switch back and forth. Usually it's a big project and one or two small projects but this time I had an itch to start something complicated, with color work.

In November, at Stitches East, I bought two large balls of Kauni EM (scarlet, crimson and red-violet) thinking they would make a nice sweater for DH. I knew I would need to combine a second color but I didn't want to do the standard rainbow effect--couldn't see how that would work in a man's sweater. On my first visit to the Lion Brand Studio in NYC I saw just the thing. A large cone of charcoal gray, very fine wool. I grabbed it.

I'm doing my own modification of both the Kauni design pattern and the sweater pattern. The classic Kauni rainbow pattern has stripes and small squares. The color changes in Kauni are very long making it possible to use two skeins, started at opposite ends of the rainbow, and achieve a moving color pattern. I'm using one mostly red skein juxtaposed against the solid charcoal.

The original pattern is done in the round, all in one piece (a very large tube) and then, horrors!, cut or steeked to make openings for the sleeves and the button front. I'm just not ready to cut my knitting so I've widened the stripes and plan to approach this as a standard man's sweater with dropped sleeves. I'll knit in a tube until I get to the arm holes, divide the front and back and knit them separately until I get to the neck. I'll join the shoulders, pick up stitches and knit the sleeves.

Here's a photo of my progress so far:

In the next section, the squares will be red and the background will be gray. This pattern will alternate up the sweater--red with gray squares followed by gray with red squares. I think it's going to be quite handsome.

Friday, March 20, 2009


It's been nearly a week since I last posted and the time has flown.

We had a day visitor last Saturday, a good friend from FUSP (First Unitarian Society of Plainfield). It was a warm, sunny day and we were able to have lunch on the screened porch for the first time in weeks.

Sunday we made our usual trip over to Citrus Springs to attend services at NCUU (Nature Coast Unitarian Universalists). Following the service there was a pot luck with a wide selection of delicious offerings. Dick and I had picked up a spiral sliced ham to bring and it was well received. We have been touched by the warm, friendly atmosphere at NCUU. The members encourage us to participate in many aspects of the congregation's life despite being snow birds and we are grateful.

Monday our friend, Maryann, also a member of FUSP, arrived to spend a few days with us. Maryann is an active outdoor person and we spent time biking, walking and kayaking. Here we are in Floral City taking an ice cream break during our ride on the Withlacoochie Trail.

Dick was with us (he took this photo) and we all rode about 17 miles, from Inverness to a spot south of Floral City and back. It was a beautiful day and the trail was getting some use. We saw quite a few people on recumbent bicycles and tricycles. We also saw this fellow, who was not riding a bike.

He was moving along at a brisk pace.

Progress continues on Decimal. I've finished both sleeves and am in the midst of the border pattern on the body. Knitting across 205 stitches for each row is a slow process. The pattern is easy to memorize with just enough challenge to keep it interesting.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Decimal Progress

Decimal Sleeve wip
Originally uploaded by rallaronson
I'm making progress on the decimal sweater and I'm really enjoying the lace pattern. I'm relieved to report the sleeve measures exactly the width the pattern requires. Of course, my sleeve will be straight rather than flared because I eliminated the gussets. The color is not totally accurate in the photo. The actual shade is a bit less pink and more mango colored.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring Knitty

Originally uploaded by snowdenbecker
The Spring Issue of Knitty was released last evening. In a quick review of the patterns Decimal by Snowden Becker immediately caught my eye. It's a beautiful summer sweater and I had just the yarn for it in my stash. And, I had just finished the gansey so I don't have to feel guilty about casting on for a new project. I went through my stash and came up with 12 skeins of Plymouth Bella Colour in what I would call a Mango colorway. It's a little heavier than the yarn suggested in the pattern but I knit so tightly and have so much trouble getting gauge that this might work.
The sleeves are very flared. Rather than knit a swatch (a swatch! when do I ever bite the bullet and knit a swatch?) I decided to cast on for one sleeve and see how wide it was with the gussets that make it flare. It was much too wide! The pattern itself, though is easy to follow and it really is attractive knit up. I frogged the sleeve and cast on again for only enough stitches to create it without the gussets. I'm almost to the place where I was when I decided to frog. This is going to be fun, just enough challenge with the lace pattern to keep my interest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gansey Finally Finished

RLA Gansey
Originally uploaded by rallaronson
Here it is! The gansey is finally finished and DH is very pleased. I started this sweater in late August of 2008. My first version, finished just about to the neckline (but without the sleeves) was knit on needles that were too big and the resulting drape was not very attractive. In late September I frogged the entire project and began again making a larger size on smaller needles. Other projects distracted me over and over. As part of the Knitters for Obama Knit Along project for the first hundred days I made a commitment to finish languishing projects. This was the one that required the most work. I'm relieved it's finished. Now, just one more small unfinished project, a baby sweater that just needs seaming, remains to be completed before the 100 days are over.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yarn Crawl

Four of us set off for Tampa this morning to visit Knit and Nibble. I had heard about the yarn shop on ravelry and for weeks now I've been feeling the need to fondle some fiber. We don't have any really well stocked yarn shops near Crystal River and I've been obtaining most of my yarn by internet.
A few weeks ago a visitor to Florida reported a bad experience in a local yarn shop that shall remain anonymous. She mentioned her disappointment on ravelry and immediately ravelers began suggesting shops that would offer her a warm welcome and a large selection of yarn. Knit and Nibble was mentioned frequently. I approached some of the members of my craft group and three of them were game to make the trip. Tampa is about one and a half hours from Crystal River. We left home around 10 AM and were happily stroking yarn by 11:30. Mapquest's directions were flawless and there was a parking spot right in front of the shop. Knit and Nibble has one of the most extensive selections of Cascade 220 I have seen in an LYS. I had brought a skein of Berocco Geode that I wanted to match to some Cascade and I was not disappointed.
All four of us left the shop with purchases. We moved one block over and had a very tasty lunch at Crispers. Since Florida has finally warmed up we were able to eat on the terrace. We were back home in Crystal River by 3:30 PM. What a lovely day!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Major Setback

Gansey, one sleeve
Originally uploaded by rallaronson
I thought I was on track to finish the gansey sweater this weekend. You can see from the photo, taken yesterday, that I had one sleeve finished. This afternoon, I was about seven inches into the second sleeve and feeling very pleased with myself when it dawned on me that I ought to either try it on myself or have DH give it a try. I could barely get my hand through the cuff of the finished sleeve and the part of the sleeve below the elbow was uncomfortably tight on me. When DH tried it on the result was the same. It was off to the frog pond for the finished sleeve. Fortunately, thanks to two trips to knitting camp, I know how to insert a lifeline. I then frogged back to the seven inch point on the finished sleeve. I'm now doing decreases every eighth row instead of every fourth row. The sleeve will be wider; I'm just hoping it won't be too much wider. Because it does not have a ribbed cuff, there is less tolerance for it to be too tight or too wide.