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.
Continue reading

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

Sweater Stain
Liebster Award

Acceptance Speech

I’ve been nominated for a what?

That was my general feeling as I read through this recent post over at Lattes and Llamas.

Well, that’s not entirely true. My first reaction was more like, ‘Whaaaat…is a Liebster?’  I then began some quick online searches. Once I knew a bit more about it there was definitely a victory dance involved. Or two. The bearded fellow got a kick out of it.Liebster Award

very-inspiring-award1But wait, there’s more. Since Jac and Megan-Anne were nominated for the Liebster and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, they decided to mash the two into what they call: The Very Inspiring Liebster Blogger Award. Think of these awards as a way to give other blogs a virtual high-five and to welcome new bloggers (like me!) into the community. Let’s take a look at the rules.

The Very Inspiring Liebster Blogger Award Rules

  • Thank and link back to the awesome person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the awards.
  • Answer the ten questions given by the nominator.
  • Nominate five other super cool blogs for the awards and notify them.
  • Create ten questions for nominees to answer.

First things first: Jac and Megan-Anne, thank you for reading, enjoying, and nominating my blog! Jac and Megan-Anne do wonderful things with charity knit-alongs, which they call Geek-A-Long. Their current project for a mystery blanket features a treasure trove of geek-themed imagery using spectacular double-knit designs. Even though I am not making the blanket, I drool over every square those two produce. Take a look!

My answers to the ten questions from Jac and Megan-Anne:

What is your go-to caffeinated beverage?
Coffee or tea, depending on my mood. Just so long as it is in one of my favorite mugs.

MugWhat is your favorite cult classic film?
Ooh, tough one. Three minutes have just passed as I have pondered this question. Taking one look at the movies that the bearded fellow and I own, they are all cult classics. And we watch them over, and over, and over again, for different reasons. Conan is perfect background noise for craft days. Stargate and Big Trouble in Little China are infinitely quotable. Dark Crystal and Labyrinth for the puppets. Krull, Masters of the Universe and The Beastmaster are just…they just are. Alien, Metropolis, the list goes on. My ultimate favorite is Bladerunner. I cry every time Roy Batty tells Deckard about the attack ships on fire over the shoulder of Orion. Such a softie.

What yarn related thing have you always wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to it yet? IE spinning, tatting, dying, Tunisian crochet, etc.
Spinning! I have a Maine-made drop spindle that the bearded fellow found at Goodwill for all of three dollars, fleece included, that is holding a few yards of my first-ever hand spun yarn. I take it out every so often to remind myself just how uncoordinated I can be.

What color are you in love with right now?
Colonial blue!

What is your favorite fiber to work with?
Currently, cotton.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
With great power comes great responsibility. You know, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to talk to animals…

What was the last book you read?
Three Hearts and Three Lions, by Poul Anderson.

If you could own any mythical creature as a pet, what would it be?
My first reaction was dragon, but that would be a bit messy. My next choice is a Podling from The Dark Crystal. They look like potatoes and could teach me how not to kill plants.

If your life was turned into a movie, what would it be titled?
Here, There and Everywhere: The Universe is Calling.

What is your favorite season?
Winter. I know, crazy right? My thinking is, you can always put more layers on in winter but you can only take so much off in summer and it is still humid as all get out. Also, you can spend snow days making things like Jabba the Snow Hutt. Why yes, that is a tiny spoon-shaped Leia (complete with slave Leia bikini) in the second picture.

Jabba the Snow Hutt

The bearded fellow keeping warm in his Tardis hat as he crafts the legendary Jabba the Snow Hutt.

My five nominations for The Very Inspiring Liebster Blogger Award:

Note: I picked folks who, from what I could tell, had not received the award before. So many blogs, so little time.

*B*A*M! crafts. She’s fun, she’s funky, she’s all geek all the time.

Green Elephant Crochet & Things. She just started crocheting this year and has a real knack for color combinations, quirky projects and, in her words, things.

Saltwater Hill Knits. Not only is she a native Mainer (whoop), her blog is a smooth blend of daily life and handy knitting tips.

An Irish Knit Odyssey, for her daring quest to find, promote and use Irish-made yarn.

The Brave Little Thread. She’s got an eye for photography and a way with words.

Ten questions for each blogger to answer:

  1. Do you prefer eggs scrambled, fried or sunny side up?
  2. Would you rather sleep in or get up early?
  3. What is your most cherished finished object?
  4. If you could learn any new skill related to fiber arts, what would it be?
  5. What is your favorite color?
  6. Would you rather bake a cake or a pie?
  7. What is your go-to comfort food?
  8. Do you have a favorite constellation?
  9. What book is next on your ‘to read’ list?
  10. If you could travel anywhere, where would you like to go?

I’m off to go notify my top five favorite blogs of their new celebrity status. Thanks again to Lattes and Llamas for the nomination and to everyone here for reading along!

The Forks Sky

Whitewater and Fireflies

I was tempted to call this post ‘Marshmallows and Moxie Falls’, but settled for ‘Whitewater and Fireflies’ instead. They both played an important role this past weekend when, to celebrate a friend’s wedding this coming August, a bunch of friends from New England and beyond got together to show her a good time in The Forks, Maine.

The Forks at sunsetThe Forks is known for its snowmobiling trails in the winter and whitewater rafting in the summer. Seeing as how it is July, we opted for a weekend rafting trip on the Kennebec River. 13 miles of water with rapids aptly named with such charming titles as The Rock Garden, Mystery Falls, and (my personal favorites) Big Mama and the Three Sisters. Such a lovely little family of class III-IV rapids. The water races by at 4800-6000 cubic feet per second, just in case you need to know that for, you know, a trivia game or something.

If I had a picture of our group racing down the river, which I do not because who in their right mind brings a camera whitewater rafting when they have a paddle to hold on to and their life to consider, it would most likely show me making a face of extreme surprise, excitement and slight terror. I can say this: I did not drop my paddle. And I did not fall out of the boat. Well, other than that one time when our guide said, ‘Go ahead, jump out of the boat. You can body raft the next set of rapids.’ There was a slight pause before our entire boat, save two, jumped overboard to spend the next few minutes swallowing water and screaming with excitement as we traversed the ‘swimmers rapids’ around us.

Kennebec River

This is a picture of the Kennebec in the morning, before the hydro plant upstream releases the surge of water each day.

We had campfires, made themed puffy paint t-shirts just like my junior high school birthday parties, and ate lots of marshmallows.

FireAnd the fireflies! It was magical. Before moving to Maine, I had never seen a firefly (or lightning bug). Nowadays I cannot imagine summer without glowing bugs. While stunning at night, with their little rumps all aglow in just the right shade of nuclear green, fireflies are also quite pretty during the day.

Firefly

I mean, really. It was so glow-y! Glowing-y. Glowtastic. It glew?

We heard from some locals that we just had to see Moxie Falls while we were in the area. So, we did. After a quick hike we were rewarded with stunning views of the falls. It was a fitting side trip as that weekend was also Moxie Fest, a celebration of all things…Moxie.

Moxie FallsJust like when I traveled up the side of a mountain earlier this month and brought my knitting projects along, this weekend was no different. I actually brought two projects with me to The Forks, in case, well, I’m not sure how I thought I would get bored, but I brought them in case I got bored. Spoilers: I was not bored. Not even for a second.

Simple lace scarfThe first project is a classic ‘keep increasing until you have a huge triangle’ scarf, in soft turquoise cotton. Perfect for knitting while doing other things. Like eating marshmallows. Bonus of fireside knitting: my upcycled cotton sweater smells like smoky goodness and carries with it memories of the weekend.Eyelet work on cap sleeve sweaterSince I am knitting this sweater in the round, not back and forth as the pattern recommends, it took me a bit to figure out the easiest way to work the front and back eyelet portions. I settled on scrap yarn to hold half of the stitches as I work one side at a time. Once they are both done I will seam them along the top. I am so excited to be working on something other than stockinette!

Holding back stitches on cap sleeve sweaterOh! And the bride to be adored the pastel camisole top that I made her, first mentioned here. Thank you for your feedback! I opted for a simple eyelet stitch through the waist and top, finished with crochet picot edges all around.

Do you have projects that remind you of the places you worked on them?