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.


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.
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!