Thursday, August 30, 2007

Royal Gorge

In the face of the approaching Labor Day weekend, officially the last gasp of summer, I thought I would present yet one more fun thing to do. Just in case you don't have plans, there's always Royal Gorge.
Actually, I learned about Royal Gorge on tv several years ago. Bill Geist had a feature on it during one of my favorite shows, CBS Sunday Morning. I became fascinated with seeing the highest suspension bridge in the world and planned a side trip on one of our road trips in order to visit it.
At the time, I enjoyed visiting Canon City (that's pronounced "canyon" city--I don't know how to put the tilde over the n), and never knew I would one day be living nearby. Now traveling through the Gorge or visiting the bridge is one of the things we do when we have visitors. Recently, we rode the train through the Gorge. Besides the beautiful scenery, we were treated to up-close views of those rafters brave enough to tackle the Gorge by boat. This stretch of the Arkansas River has Class IV and V white water rapids.
It was the peak of the rafting season then, and there were a lot of rafters. We had views of them twice, as the train passed them going upstream, then turned around and caught up with them again.
They really seem to enjoy it.
One guide had a special effect for us.
I'll bet he does this for the train every trip. This rafting company has a video here and more info here, but there's lots of rafting companies here to choose from.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Knitting in Fairplay

Our Friday adventure began with a dental appointment. Although I don't enjoy going to the dentist, I do enjoy the fact that my dentist is in the same town as the nearest yarn shop. I suppose it is more than a coincidence, since I found out about this dentist when I met his wife at the yarn shop's knitting group. So a visit to dentist became a trip to the yarn shop, and the bead shop. Disappointed at the bead shop, I wanted to go to another one nearby, in Fairplay, Co. I vaguely remembered that there was something else interesting in Fairplay.

South Park City is a restored 1880s town. Actually, it is a most unusual museum. You pay, you walk out the back door of the visitor's center, and there you are--

In town. Virtually alone. The entire town, some of the buildings original to the site, some moved in, is restored and fully furnished.

There's a house or two, a railroad, a train, a blacksmith shop, a general store, the bank, the assay office, the stage coach stop, with lodging and the table set for a meal. There's stables, most of the mining equipment, even some gold nuggets (well, they look real), everything you would expect in a town, even the hearse:

The amazing thing is that it is all full of antique items and most of it is just there, no ropes, no bars, just there for you to pick up and look at. There's typewriters, tools, beds, washstands, tables, kitchens, I could go on and on. All there to touch, sit on, lie on (Well, who would want to do that? The beds looked like they were stuffed with cornhusks 100 years ago.) Some of it is roped off, but not much. It was all quite interesting. There was crochet and knitting, of course. The only thing I missed seeing was the saloon, with its painting of an appropriately 'clad' woman.
I took K's word on the painting. By then, I was more interested in the beads. The bead shop in Fairplay is a good one. There's lots of funky beads, besides the nice stuff, and the lady in charge was very nice.

I've been on a quest for certain size and shape beads. I'm making a knitting row counter bracelet. Of course, you can buy these on Etsy, and there are tutorials on their construction on line, but me, I had to figure it out on my own.

At first, I thought these were silly. I have row counters, and they work better and are easier to read than these bracelets. Even if the bracelets are prettier. But I was interested. Once I got bored enough (read: work has declined a bit, and we are bored). I looked and thought I'd figure it out. Scale is hard to judge with these, from what I've seen so far, so I thought I'd show you one in my fingers for scale.
It is quite nifty, actually. I find it easy to use for a short row count, even easier than the counters which must be dialed back to the beginning. Probably not as easy to read, but certainly prettier. Comfortable enough to wear for hours. Simple to make. Cheap to buy, whether you are buying from Etsy or buying the beads to make one yourself.

If you are unfamiliar with them, I'll explain: It's memory wire, with nine beads each of two different colors. One color bead represents ones, the other color represents tens, abacus style. There's a circlet (or in this case, a square) of beads on elastic cord that is large enough to let you pop a bead through. Knit a row, pop a bead. Knit ten rows, pop one of the darker beads, pop the others back. In the photo above, the count is 14 rows--one blue bead, four orange beads.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Harbinger of Fall

As the rains rolled in over the continental divide, I wondered if they foretold the changing of the seasons. A brief walk in the woods brought proof:

Fall is coming. Take heart, it may come a bit later to the rest of the country, but it will come! Temps this morning were in the 40s (that's Farenheit). My feet didn't warm up until 10 am. Fall is definitely coming, and I am ready.

Entrelac hat from Hip Knit Hats, to match (sort of) the entrelac scarf from the knitting class I took earlier this summer. I think I will block them, and perhaps gift them later this year. If I do block them, you may see them again. The scarf is Noro Silk Garden, and there is Cascade 220 in the hat, with some Noro and some Chroma from the Fibre Co. mixed in. I could keep them, but I find the Noro itchy.

I have started the Bubble Pullover from Knitting Nature. It is interesting, but the outsides of the pentagons take a long time, with 160 stitches in them. Then, as the decreases cut down the stitch count, it goes faster and faster, and before I know it, it is time to cast on and pick up stitches again. It is an odd way to knit a sweater.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hand-knit Cotton Camisole

One camisole, knitted in mercerized cotton yarn on size 3 needles. It sounds tedious, but it actually only took three weeks, and the results are worth a little fight with unyeilding cotton yarn. I used GGH Scarlett, in a teal color. The pattern is in the book, Beyond Wool. It is blocked, and not in a sloppy way. The pattern specifically says not to block out the curve at the bottom of the lace panel. The recommended yarn is mercerized cotton, just a different brand (Jaeger Pure Cotton). I think Scarlett is quite similar.  I started out with about 38" at the bottom and decreased down to what I thought would be 34" or so. The bottom band is knit on size 2 straights, and is all purl (I wonder why?), producing garter stitch. Then you decrease and knit on size 3s. I switched to circs, and had good gauge at first. Then it got smaller, and smaller anndd....

At one point, it was only 30" around. I frantically started increasing, but was a little late. I did add about an inch right before the armholes. I had my doubts, but shouldn't have. After blocking, it measured exactly as I wanted it. The 30" had stretched to 34", making the bust 35". I shouldn't have worried, but I still underestimate the amount of negative ease I need in a fitted garment.

I'm afraid it may grow a bit more, but I can usually block out too much width by stretching it longer. (Offside: The quilt it is resting on is an inherited one, made from old flour-sacking. No, I don't like the bright green fabric they used with the flour sack prints; it wasn't my choice.)

I really like the pattern. The placement of the decreases along the neck and armhole produces such a neat rolled edge. The only real modification I made was to knit the back plain, leaving out the lace panel. Since I had to finish the back center section someway, I used an i-cord bind-off for the middle 20 stitches, so it matches the rolled edges. Doing this, I found I need more practice in my grafting. I had trouble matching the beginning of the i-cord to the side, and then more trouble grafting the straps. The straps are not i-cord, although they look it. Just plain stockinette, 4 stitches wide, so they roll up. You wouldn't think I'd have had a problem grafting them. But I did.
The other change, not a big one, was to knit it in the round to avoid purling. I see now, after wearing it, that the natural biasing of this yarn would have been limited by side seams. As it is, it tends to bias around the entire cami. I think washing and drying flat will help. However, if I were to make it again, I'd do the purling to get the benefit of side seams.