Do you Believe in Magic (Loop)

Anyone else have the Lovin’ Spoonful song Do You Believe in Magic in their head now?

Back on track: we are here for this kind of magic: the magic loop. Have you heard of it? (You probably have.) I just heard about it last week. (I know! That rock I was living under was rather large.) Nine years. I have been knitting for nine years and have yet to knit anything tube-like using this magical loop method. That is, until now. Magic Loop Knit Fingerless Gloves Continue reading

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Hikes and Hot Toddies

This time of year is perfect for two things: foliage hikes and hot toddies. What better way to warm up outdoors than by enjoying warm tea with a splash of spirit.

Fall ground cover foliageThe bearded fellow has been quite busy with educational events on the weekends but we have managed to carve away some time to visit a handful of new spots, and take in some fall foliage along the way.

Trail Floor in FallDuring a recent hike we decided to bring our new (and so very awesome) FireAnt Multi-fuel Backpacking Stove. If you have learned anything about us from recent posts, you will already know that we love the outdoors, camp crafts, and trusty tools.

Loading firewood into FireAntThe FireAnt is made by Mikhail Merkurieff of MerkWares, creator of the Emberlit, and these awesome flint strikers. Mikhail, like the bearded fellow, is an Eagle Scout with a keen eye for design and appreciation for the natural world. He creates simple, durable, high quality products for outdoor enthusiasts. The FireAnt is no exception. It is crafted from ultra-light, ultra-durable titanium. Just like a real fire ant, this hunk of metal weighs in at less than three ounces and offers a wicked bite when you get it going.

FireAnt Test Run The best part about the FireAnt is that it is multi-fuel capable. You can use firewood, Trangia spirit burners, or solid fuels like Esbit. No more pressurized fuel containers that take up space and are often disposed of improperly. Don’t get me wrong, the bearded fellow and I own a high-tech backpacking stove that we have used for years with absolute success. When you need to boil a pot of water, your compact stove will do it in an instant.

Making tea in a FireAntBut, you know what? The FireAnt did it better. It took just a few minutes to load the fuel,  fiddle with the firewood arrangement to produce efficient heat, and in less than ten minutes we had a rolling boil. It was also the perfect excuse to use our Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet. The (cutest) backpacking hatchet that performs like a full-size axe.

Making tea on the trailEven better, its various fuel options allow us to always have a backup fuel option. It is no fun when your pressurized fuel container sounds like it has more fuel than it really does and you run out of gas (literally) halfway through a boil. Instead of having to bring multiple fuel canisters on every trip, we now have the option to carry multiple fuel choices that weigh far less and offer varied burning qualities.

Trangia StoveWe had so much fun making tea the first time that we decided to do it all over again, this time using the Trangia stove. The FireAnt is set up so that you can easily slip the Trangia stove inside the slots as you assemble the walls, keeping it sturdy and secure. The Trangia performed a bit better than the firewood, most likely because it is constant, direct heat directed at the bottom of the pot. All in all, our FireAnt test was a success.

Trangia Stove Boiling Water TestI did not manage to grab any pictures of the FireAnt assembly as it literally takes a minute to put together. Each of the four walls slips into pre-cut slots on each corner, a bit like building a little cabin from Lincoln Logs. (Which are apparently made in Maine now.)

Reid State Park RocksAfter enjoying our two cups of tea each we made our way to Reid State Park in Georgetown. It was quite crowded, even for a chilly weekend in October. I cannot even imagine what it must be like in the summer months. The scene along the water reminded us of a set straight out of Star Trek: TOS. See what I mean?

Star Trek at Reid State ParkI can almost hear the Amok Time music now.Reid State Park

PacaNaturals yarn

PacaNaturals Yarn Review

Abbott Farms Alpacas baby

Stacey and a baby Abbott Farm alpaca.

A few weeks ago (I know, behind the times here) Portland held its first-ever Greenfest, a celebration of all things eco. Seeing as how the bearded fellow is an environmental educator for a living, he was hosting a booth and I offered to tag along.

It is a good thing I did, as we arrived to bustling crowds eager with questions. It is also a good thing that I know how to recycle. Otherwise, I would have sat there and knit while folks asked important questions like, ‘So, if I can recycle blue milk bottle caps, does that mean I can also recycle purple milk bottle caps?’ Recycle it all baby. Recycle it all.

Later in the day, I found myself wandering towards the ‘Green Living’ tent. Upon entering, I immediately spotted the alpaca booth, full of luxurious fiber from PacaNaturals. It must have been my lucky day because the owner, Stacey of Abbott Farm Alpacas, offered me two hanks of her fine fiber to take home and test. In exchange, I offered to create new items for her retail shop here in downtown Portland. Here are just two of her many happy alpacas.

Continue reading