Bumble Berry Cabled Cowl Angle View
Aside

Bumble Berry Cabled Cowl

In all of the engagement excitement I forgot to post about my recent finished project! Oh the horror! To make amends, here are some pictures of the cushy Bumble Berry Cabled Cowl, fresh off my needles. Sort of.

Anyway. The original Bumble Berry pattern was created when inspiration struck in the form of a popsicle. What can I say. It inspired me. (It was a really good popsicle.)

Here is the original Bumble Berry pattern, in turquoise cotton:

Bumble Berry Swatch

With the original inspiration. For scale. And added flavor:

Bumble Berry Inspiration

And here is the updated cabled cowl version:

Bumble Berry Cabled CowlYarn: Cleckheaton Country 8 ply, grown and spun in Australia. In the colorway 2277 which, as I unceremoniously just discovered, is called: purple. Duh.

I have had this yarn in my stash for ages. Ever since the little yarn shop in Camden closed and everything was 75% off. I know. I bought the whole store. This yarn has not really spoken to me since I bought it. Until now. I knew. That…purple…color. It was destined for something big.

Bumble Berry Cabled Cowl Angle View

As I talked about in the original post, this pattern is a modified honeycomb cable with three stacked twists in the center, as shown above. The only change I made to the pattern for the cowl was tapering the larger honeycomb section into smaller and smaller circles (easily seen in the first cowl photo).

Bumble Berry Cabled CowlOverall it was a very simple knit, easy to memorize, with just enough difficulty to keep you interested. If I can find some time when I am not looking at pretty wedding dresses away from life’s most important tasks, I’ll be sure to post a pattern here for you to enjoy.

Until then pals, stay inspired. By things like popsicles.

Mount Katahdin

I Said Yes on a Mountain in Maine

Remember when I wrote about the recent wedding I was in? Well, I forgot to mention that I nearly caught the bouquet. Nearly. It flew through my hands and I was left with just a few petals. As I turned to watch its arc, it slammed right into the stomach of another bridesmaid behind me. As it turns out, I did not need to catch that bouquet after all.

Proposal on the summit of Katahdin

The air must be thinner at 5, 267 feet above sea level.

I know! I know. Before I get all weepy-engagement-storytime on you, let’s take a look at the cowl that I finished just before the bearded fellow and I left for our Baxter State Park vacation-turned-engagement.

Seven Rings CowlI crocheted the cowl using this pattern from Lattes and Llamas, available now on Ravelry, here. You can also view my progress and yarns used on my Ravelry page. My favorite thing about this pattern, other than its simplicity, is the ability to choose seven different yarns to work with. Whether you have a stash of luxury yarns or have a hankering for picking out some new delights, this project fits the bill. Yardage required varies a bit, depending on your gauge and yarns used. I lucked out with a substantial amount of surplus yarn for use with future projects. All in all I used about 1,350 yards.

Seven Rings Cowl as a shawlIt can be used as a hood, shawl or even a small lap blanket. It is cushy, warm, and will be perfect for long winters. Those living in warmer areas can reduce the row repeats for a thinner, lighter cowl. I really cannot speak highly enough of the overall simplicity and instant gratification of this project. Any project that takes less than a week of occasional crocheting to finish is a win in my book.

Seven Rings CowlAlright, you have waited long enough. Prepare yourself for the super-magical–backcountry-proposal-in-the-clouds engagement story. And moose. Lots of moose.

Mount KatahdinThe mountain greeted us Friday afternoon with clear skies and a perfect view of the summit. It is unusual, as you will see later, to have as clear of a view as we did on Friday. We made our way through the park to Nesowadnehunk Campground where a lean-to awaited us for our first night in the park. A lean-to and a whole bunch of bunnies.

Nesowadnehunk Stream Campground Leanto

Staring contest between the bearded fellow and the snowshoe hare.

Later that evening, we heard rustling in the bushes to the left of the lean-to. Upon turning to see what the commotion was all about, the bearded fellow exclaimed, ‘Holy #$@% it’s a moose!’ Imagine (because I was too shocked to snap a picture) a bull moose as large as the lean-to emerging in the same area where the bunny is in the photo above. We were sitting where I was standing in this same photo, about eight feet away. Eight feet from an enormous bull moose. He stopped, looked at us, made a sort of burping noise, and then continued on his way. We named him Manny. Manny the burping moose.

Flowers at Nesowadnehunk Stream CampgroundBunnies, moose, fields of flowers. I exclaimed on several occasions, and I quote, ‘Could this weekend get any better?!’ I am sure the bearded fellow had a field day with that one.

Katahdin at sunriseI did not sleep much Friday night. I was excited to summit, overjoyed to be on vacation, and slightly cold. The 3:30 am alarm arrived rather quickly, but I was already awake and ready to climb. We had a 40-minute drive to Katahdin Stream where we would hop on the AT/Hunt Trail to make our ascent. Once we arrived at Katahdin Stream we sat in the car to watch as the sun rose behind the mountain, creating this spectacular morning greeting. By 5:45 am, we were on the trail.

Rungs on Mount KatahdinOther than a small group of AT thru-hikers finishing their journey, we were the only hikers on the trail. We reached The Hunt Spur (read: huge $#?!*&@ boulders) around 8:00 am, and stopped for our favorite photo opportunity. These boulders are easily eight feet high. I measure in at 5’2″. Hmm.

Hunt Trail, Mount KatahdinOne, two, lift...and then scramble awkwardly onto the smooth rock like a beached whale.

The Gateway, KatahdinWe slowly made our ascent through the boulder climb and into the Gateway. This section is the steepest, leading into the mostly flat Tableland (covered in delicious wild blueberries). Some of our favorite rock creatures live in the Gateway.

Rock golemHis large, sad eyes meet an oversized nose above a substantial mopey lip. Thankfully this rock golem did not wake up as we passed. At this point on the trail, I would not have made my constitution save.

We reached the summit just before 10:00 am. There were only a handful of others there. It is a magical moment reaching the summit, especially when the peak is shrouded in clouds. The last mile or so after the Tableland is a true test of your ability to stay focused on the goal, rather than the Mount Doom-like climb. I feel ya, Frodo.

Usually, we stop to take our picture with the iconic summit sign, have lunch, and then start our descent. Usually. This time was different. This time, the bearded fellow did not want to take his picture with the sign. He did not want lunch yet. He wanted to sit behind a large boulder away from the crowds. There was a moment when I thought, ‘Oh my goodness. He is going to propose.’ I quickly pushed the thought out of my mind and replaced it with, ‘Nah, that would be too magical.’

After an hour of battling forty-five degree weather, crowds of hikers finishing their ascent and a (very nice, I’m sure) gentleman’s club with severe gastrointestinal problems, the bearded fellow decided that we simply must move to a more private spot. So we did. We sat down, and I knew. I just knew that it was happening. And then, it happened. He planned a speech. I probably sounded like Beaker the Muppet. He brought champagne. I tried not to hyperventilate. Eventually we emerged from our little shelter and asked a nice couple to take our picture with the summit sign.

Proposal on the summit of Mt KatahdinIt was a bit misty. I have waited nearly nine years for this moment. It was perfect.

Handmade sterling silver and lapis lazuli engagement ringThe bearded fellow made the ring from twisted sterling silver wire tied into a turk’s head knot with a faceted lapis lazuli stone in the center. Lapis is a rather interesting stone. During the Renaissance it was crushed to make ultramarine, the most expensive blue pigment at the time, and Cleopatra used it as eyeshadow. I think I’ll keep mine intact.

Cabin number 11, Kidney PondWe spent the next two nights at Kidney Pond in a rustic cabin on the water. There were leeches, so we did not swim, but we did venture out on a canoe to take a closer look at a cow moose munching on grasses across the pond. Weekend moose count: two.

Cow moose at Kidney PondTwo mating loons also made an appearance, calling to each other throughout the day and at odd times in the evening. It was a bit like listening to a game of Marco Polo.

Loons on Kidney Pond

Can you hear me now?

Somehow the ring continued to make its way into nearly every photo. I wonder who was behind those photo bombing shenanigans.

Ring photobombing breakfastBefore I go, I would like to extend mountains of thanks to sweet Joan at Caravan Beads for helping the bearded fellow craft such a unique ring. You are a gem!

Lattes and Llamas Seven Rings Cowl

Wedding and Work In Progress

This past weekend one of my friends tied the knot. (Perhaps it is just me but do you ever wonder what kind of a knot people tie when you hear this phrase? We will just leave it at that.) You can read about her rapid (as in rafting) bachelorette weekend here.

Their wedding took place in Camden at Merryspring Nature Center, where the bearded fellow worked as the Environmental Educator our first year in Maine. The rehearsal dinner was at Cappy’s Chowder House, a downtown Camden classic. The tables at Cappy’s are covered in butcher paper and topped with little baskets containing condiments and crayons for children anyone to use. Threepio and Artoo were drawn by the bearded fellow. That purple thing? That’s my Millennium Falcon. I think I will keep my day job.

See Threepio and Artoo Detoo in orange crayonWhile the ceremony itself took all of ten seconds (at least it felt like it did), the one part that felt the longest was the walk down the aisle. And I was not the important one in white! Not one for boring, the bride decided, four hours before the wedding, that her bridesmaids would walk dance and lip sync down the aisle to Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours. I got to go first.

me

Photo © Jeremy Turner

You can almost hear the words, ‘Ooh baby’ pouring out of my mouth. I owned that dance with my bouquet-turned-mic. After the wedding, the groom mentioned that he thought the (ridiculously-hilarious-over-the-top) dancing was just for the rehearsal…and that we would walk down the aisle normal style. The bride retorted by saying:

Oh no! Not my friends. My friends are not boring.

Life is too short to be boring and embarrassed, right? This is why I put this picture here for you to enjoy. You can thank me later.

In addition to wedding festivities the bearded fellow and I were able to walk around Camden, visiting old friends and old haunts. One of my favorites has always been this church converted into an apartment complex.

Camden, Maine, Thou Shall Not Park HereThe dumpster has an equally witty phrase which I forgot to snap a picture of.

We also stopped by the local yarn shop, The Cashmere Goat, to pick up two more yarn options for a (not so) secret project I am working on.

Seven Rings Cowl by Lattes and LlamasIf you follow Lattes and Llamas (which you totally should), you already know that they are publishing patterns that are literary inspired for their Kniterary line. Genius, right? Their recent post about Seven Rings Cowl called for testers and I jumped at the chance. Not only is this cowl wicked easy to crochet, it is the perfect stash-busting project.

Seven Rings Cowl by Lattes and LlamasThe cowl is based on Dante’s Inferno, with seven rings of color for seven circles of hell; four worsted weight and three fingering weight. I decided to take the theme to the max and chose my colors accordingly. It all started with Limbo, which transitioned into Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, and finally Violence (and Fraud and Treachery, too).

Seven Rings Cowl by Lattes and LlamasInterestingly enough, each yarn choice perfectly suited the circle it corresponded to. Limbo was crocheted too loosely, creating a ruffle on the starting edge. Gluttony, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, was so soft that I frequently stopped to pet the project. Greed, Berroco Remix in Buttercup, decided to take over the entire cowl with its overly bright golden color. Anger is also Berroco Ultra Alpaca (the Gluttony row was so wonderful, it made me angry for more). Heresy was actually DK weight, not conforming to the requirements of the pattern. Blasphemy. Violence did not provoke anything of the sort but I definitely worked that row the quickest, eager to be done with it.

Seven Rings Cowl by Lattes and LlamasI just finished the cowl last night and will be taking some photos this weekend when, delights upon delights, the bearded fellow and I will be camping in Baxter State Park. We will also be climbing Katahdin, the tallest peak in Maine. You may remember this delightful photo from our last Katahdin trek back in 2011.

Climbing Katahdin

Unlike our recent glamping trip, this camping is much more rustic. There is no potable water in the park and bears do exist. Backpacking in California taught us how to prepare for bear territory. I’ll be leaving my fruit scented anything at home.

Moose Pond at Pleasant Mountain Camping Area

Camp Crafts

Craft. Noun: An activity involving skill in making things by hand.

Featner tree and moraknivWait! I thought this was a knitting and crochet blog! Why the blade and little wooden tree? I have a little secret to share. I love to knit and I adore crocheting (and sometimes sewing makes me somewhat pleased) and I have a new obsession with camp crafts.

As you may have noticed from earlier posts chronicling journeys up Pleasant Mountain or when I first learned how to make a feather stick, the bearded fellow and I have deep appreciation for all things outdoors. Be it hiking, cross-country skiing, sailing or canoeing, most weekends we can be found exploring Maine’s backcountry.

Pleasant Mountain Summit

Pleasant Mountain Summit, Denmark, Maine

I have not always had an interest in bug bites and blisters outdoor adventures. It was not until I met the bearded fellow that I learned how much fun you can have outside. My first-ever backpacking trip was in Desolation Wilderness, just southwest of Lake Tahoe, in 2007. We covered fourteen miles in two days (it seemed like a lot back then but he was being nice). Since then, especially once we moved to Maine, we have made a concerted effort to spend as much time enjoying the natural world as possible.

Lake Megunticook

Lake Megunticook from Maiden’s Cliff, Camden, Maine

As for the bearded fellow, you know what they say. Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout. He grew up spending his weekends backpacking and hiking throughout the Sierras while working at a remote Boy Scout camp each summer. His love for nature has always inspired me and I am thankful that we can share the experience together.

Feather stick and moraknivBack to camp crafts. The bearded fellow recently gifted the both of us with original Mora knives (Morakniv), the wooden handles of which originally featured their iconic red stain. To increase their durability and longevity (and to make them look super cool) he tied knotwork around the handles and then covered them in waterproof goop. The blade above is his, along with a feather stick he made for fire staring. Which brings up another topic related to outdoor-ness: bushcraft.

Bushcraft is the art and practice of wilderness skills, popularized by legends such as Mors Kochanski and Ray Mears. It is about surviving and thriving in the natural environment, and acquiring the skills to do so. All while making as little impact on the natural world as possible. Leave no Trace. Come on, Bigfoot has been doing it for years. One of those skills is fire building, which the bearded fellow excels at. I’m still learning (how not to light my face on fire). Before firewood can be assembled, there is housekeeping to be done.

Splitting wood safely with a Gransfors Bruks small forestry axeSafely splitting logs with the best axe from Gransfors Bruk. Ray Mears would be proud.

Tiny feather stick and moraknivMaking feather sticks. That’s mine!

Morakniv and feather trees The knife above is the smaller of the two, perfect for my grip. I ended up making an entire tiny forest in one sitting. It is surprisingly easy to get as invested in carving a piece of wood as it is to sit and knit, sew or crochet. You really lose yourself in the slow, patient motion of the knife making delicate, careful cuts on the wood. It helps when you are sitting in the middle of the woods, near a lake, with loons calling in the distance…

We left my forest on the table for the next campers – a common bushcraft practice. Providing a few feather sticks for the person to follow you provides a sense of camaraderie and comfort. Especially if the next campers arrive in a storm and need to start a fire, and quick.
Bushcraft traditional fire setupOnce fire supplies have been chopped, carved, and assembled, it is time to set up the wood. In the foreground you can see firesteel for casting embers into the cotton ball and pine needles on the right. In the background are feather sticks in the center with split wood kindling in a conical shape. Underneath are larger split logs which can be slowly pushed into the fire as they burn, making for a longer, more complete combustion, fire.

Starting a fire with flint and steelOnce ignited, the burning ember is tucked under the feather stick arrangement. The fire then has a chance to burn through each layer, lightest to heaviest, so that it can generate enough heat to light the larger logs. It is important to use only the wood that you need, and to keep the fire in control. Think happy Smokey Bear thoughts. You only need a small fire to keep warm. It will last longer and burn more efficiently this way.

This is the fire when it first started, still pretty tall.

This is the fire when it started, still pretty tall while the kindling burns down to coals.

Other than feather sticks to start fires, there is another bushcraft skill that the bearded fellow also excels at: whittling. This past glamping* trip we arrived only to realize that I forgot cooking utensils. No big deal when you can use a stick of wood to flip pancakes.

*Glamping = camping, with glamor. And amenities. Like a table. And a percolator.

Wooden stick flipping pancakesEven better when the bearded fellow whittles said piece of wood into a proper spatula. Complete with my first initial! Important for when other bushcraft spatula users get confused about which piece of wood is theirs. D is for dopey camper who forgets utensils.

Carved spatula and moraknivSometimes the bearded fellow likes to make other things.

Carved wizard, Gandalf the Pine, and moraknivWe call him Gandalf the Pine.

Knitting by a campfireOne of my favorite things about camp crafts is blending my love for the outdoors with my love for fiber. I highly recommend knitting around a campfire for stress relief.

Blog Hop Kangaroo
Crochet Pineapple Doily in Progress

Discovering Doilies

I do not consider myself much of a home decorator. When the bearded fellow and I moved to Maine, our first apartment was adorned with two things: one Star Trek calendar and one framed picture of Leonard Nimoy as Spock (swoon).

Over the years we have slowly developed our self-proclaimed style: simple, unpretentious, with a vintage twist. The bearded fellow has a keen eye for color and design. Try as I might, I can only coordinate colors when I am not actually trying to do so.

On Saturday we suddenly had an urge to add houseplants to our apartment. For years we have lived with endlessly multiplying spider plants that simply will not die. Which is great, because I sometimes have a brown thumb. This time we wanted something more sophisticated. Peace Lily. Fern. Ponytail Palm. You know, something Poirot would have.

While hunting for suitable plants and holders we made our way to Michaels. I took a look at one aisle, the bearded fellow took a peek down another. It was relatively quiet until the bearded fellow happened upon the most ridiculously adorable hunk of ceramic we have ever seen. Not a plant pot, but, for some unexplained reason, we just had to have it.
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Knitting Meme Cross-stitch

She Gets Me

I have oodles of cousins. More than I can count on two hands. Plus most of my toes. Out of the multitude of cousins there is one who has always felt like more of a best friend. She was born in August, me in December. Our slightly dichotomous personalities are perfectly complementary to each other. She is a skateboarder, I would probably fall on my face. She creates impeccable embroidery stitches by hand, I knit and crochet. We fit. It works. Continue reading