Because I Do Not Knit With My Toes

Or, Ode to an Ankle.

I am thankful that I do not knit with my toes.

Sprained Ankle
For, if I knit with my toes, I would be far more upset at myself for tearing a ligament.

If I knit with my toes.

Thankfully, I do not knit with my toes*. Therefore, thankfully, this injury has not stopped me from knitting wooly goodness on a snowy day.

Traditional knit wool mittens

These will eventually transform into mittens for the bearded fellow. Eventually.

Oh, the foot? Let’s just say that I will not be winning any fancy awards for my rather-enthusiastic-cross-country-ski-clad-gymnastics in the snow this past weekend.

I am forever grateful to the designer who decided that ski boots should be supportive, rigid, and tight enough to allow the wearer to cross-country ski for several miles, over hill and dale, without the slightest hint of injury.

Until the wearer takes the boot off, that is.

Libby Hill Forest Cross-Country Ski Trails, Gray, Maine

It was a rather spectacular day to be on the trails, unknowingly gimpy or not.

*If you knit with your toes, please do prepare your mailbox for the thousands of handcrafted high-fives that will soon arrive.

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

View from the top

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

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.

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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.

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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?

Grafton Notch State Park

Of Mountains and Knits

Over the holiday weekend the bearded fellow and I took a reprieve from Portland and wandered our way up to Newry, Maine. Situated in the western part of the state, Newry has historically been a popular destination for great ski slopes in winter and spectacular hiking throughout Grafton Notch State Park all year.

Above the TreelineGrafton Notch State Park includes part of the AT (Appalachian Trail) and offers a range of hiking opportunities for mileage seekers and day hikers alike. L and I decided to tackle Old Speck, a mountain known for its challenging climb and stunning views. Although we spent all day Friday pelted by heavy rain and high winds as ‘post-tropical cyclone’ Arthur made its way up the East Coast, Saturday was a perfect day to summit.

Summit View

The bearded fellow himself and Old Speck summit on the left.

Surprisingly, the climb was not as tough as we were expecting. Cool weather, swift breezes and a complete lack of biting bugs definitely worked in our favor. We started up the white-blazed AT at 10:00 am and reached the summit by 12:20 pm, 3.8 miles covered. At the top of Old Speck is a very (very) tall tower to climb for even better views of the surrounding landscape. Even though the ascent was nothing but nerve-racking (for me at least) the views from the top were worth the increase in blood pressure.

Old Speck TowerAfter a leisurely lunch on the summit, we took our time descending the trail as it was a bit tricky with lots of exposed granite made slippery by Friday’s storm. There were plenty of neat little spots like this one which are, without a doubt, where magical faeries live.

Fairy Land

Welcome to Mirkwood.

Overall the climb was easier than expected and quite worth the effort. Definitely up there on my list of favorite East Coast summits.

Panoramic Tower PhotoBack at camp we refreshed with our feet up by the campfire. The bearded fellow taught me how to make feather sticks, traditionally used to start fires when you have damp wood and need to reach the dry, seasoned wood inside your logs. Their open design allows for air to circulate to get the fire going.

Feather Stick

Look at those cute little curls!

No campfire would be complete without knitting and I made sure to bring plenty of projects with me. Although I was not able to work on my second upcyled sweater mentioned last week, I was able to make great headway on a new project. A dear friend of mine is tying the knot in August and we are celebrating this upcoming weekend with a camping getaway and whitewater rafting. She is a classic gal with a healthy obsession for all things flowery and pastel. I found it fitting to make her an ultra-soft camisole to suit her feminine tastes. Even better, the yarn I selected fits with her wedding colors of lavender, green and peach. Score! The pattern is loosely based on this one, with lacework in place of the stockinette. It offers vintage appeal in an old lace slip kind of way.

Lace CamisoleSo, I cannot decide if I should add embellishments like ribbon to the slip, perhaps along the empire waist. What do you think? I am open to suggestions!