Monday, October 29, 2007

The Fishing Weekend That Wasn't

Bob and I departed on Friday morning for a 3 day weekend of fishing the waters off Long Island, NY for bluefish or striped bass. The weather was not encouraging, but DH is nothing if not determined when it comes to catching fish, so off we went.

The drive wasn't bad - the rain was off and on - so we made good time. We headed to Shinnecock Inlet first - it was on the way - and checked out the possibilities. There were few fishermen there, and half of them were "surveying the situation". Those we spoke to said fishing had been extrememly slow. The wind was blowing 20-25 mph, with some rain and lots of spray mixed in, which would have been perfectly acceptable had there been fish being caught. No one caught anything in the time we watched so we headed for Montauk Point.

We checked in at the hotel and headed for the lighthouse - one of the more popular places to go surf fishing out there. Montauk. The End. Literally. The end of Long Island and as far East as you can get in NY. Mother Nature was trying to blow Montauk back a mile or so, I think. The wind was very strong and blowing right into our faces. We didn't try to fish in that - the lure might well have come back and hit us in the head in that wind.

The next morning the grey, overcast skies were spitting some rain at us, but not too bad. We drove to the point, just below the lighthouse, and geared up. This is harder than it sounds. We removed shoes, added socks (thick ones, for warmth) and pulled on neoprene (think wet suit, but thicker) chest waders. It's sorta like pulling on thick, unwieldy tights over jeans (not under them). There are boots (that weigh more than I think they should) attached to the bottom of those waders, and you have to wiggle your feet into those while being squeezed in the middle, because you have pulled up your waders to your waist and now they are trying to cut you in half when you bend over. To say that these things are close fitting is an understatement. Now, remeber how little kids always have to go to the bathroom once they get their snowsuit on? Yup. But we're not going to give in. Time to cinch those straps and tighten the belt. Yes, there is a belt and it's important to have it fairly tight despite the fact that there's no way these things are coming off without help in the shape of a tug of war. The point of this belt is so that if you fall in the water (a very likely occurance due to the wave action - remember, we're going surf fishing) you won't be drowned by water filling up your waders. Nice thought.

Then it was time to don a wind and water resistant jacket (which also helps keep the waves from soaking you down the front of your waders) and, in DH's case, a pair of spikey things that get strapped over the boots and are supposed to help him get a good grip on the rocks under water and decrease slipping. I think that's a ruse to get more money for the manufacturers, personally. But they sound cool when walking on the rocks. Are you tired, yet? I was. Next we had to choose our spot and get out there. You want to stand as far out as you can get so your casts go beyond the rocks (thereby decreasing the number of $6 to $10 lures that you loose by getting them caught in the rocks and having the line break) and as far out in the water as possible. To catch the fish that theoretically come in close to the rocks to eat. There's something wrong with that scenario, I think.

We waded out to about thigh high water (with the waves now coming up to our waist or higher) and Bob commenced his battle with the elements and the fish. He casts the lure out as far as he can with his 10 ft fishing pole (I am not sure how much it weighs, but I need two hands to hold it comfortably), then reels it in while simultaneously jerking the tip of the rod up and down to make the lure look like a fish moving on the surface of the water. My shoulders hurt just thinking about it, and he did this for hours.

I was his assistant. I changed lures for him, watched the "action" of the lure and reported on the success or failure of a new technique, and chanted. "Blue fish, bass, bite, bite, bite". I called out - "Here, fishy, fishy, fishy". I danced and swayed to the chant. All to no avail. Not one bite. We took a break for lunch, then went back and tried in a slightly different spot, more chanting, swaying, calling, but..... Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

It was also my job to watch the other fishermen to see what they were doing - which lures and techniques they used, etc. and watch for anyone catching a fish. We saw guys in wet suits actually floating out in the water (over their heads) and fishing from there in an attempt to get their lures out further. That was a scary thought. The current was quite strong at some points, and there's nothing but open ocean past the point, but they just didn't seem to be bothered by it. They didn't catch anything either, so I didn't have to worry about Bob getting any ideas in his head. (Whew!!)

At the end of the day we were both tired (though not cold, because all of that work kept us warm) and we had to make our way back through the water (that has been rising) with the waves coming at our back! I tried to walk backwards so I could face the waves, but that didn't feel right. I suppose my body prefered the thought of being pushed face first into the water by a wave rather than falling backwards on my butt while watching the wave that pushed me. It was an interesting experience.

Finally it was time to remove all of this stuff. I did actually need to have Bob pull on the waders to get them off. And walking any distance in these things is very tiring indeed. I got my exercise for the day.

We drove to my mother's house for the night and spent Sunday visiting and doing a few chores for her, then headed for home. On the way we went exploring. We followed a map that indicated a public fishing area that we had not been aware of, (very close to NY Harbor) and plan to return some other time for fishing there. The sun was shining but we needed winter jackets and hats and gloves to stand outside with the wind and temperature drop. BRrrrrr. We headed across the Verrazano Bridge and over to NJ for the drive back to MD and arrived at about 11PM.

Back to work today. I hope to resume walking with Karen tonight. I was not able to walk towards the end of the week last week due to the high moisture level in the air. I wheezed just climbing a few stairs, never mind trying to walk a couple of miles.

I did get some knitting done over the weekend. I made good progress on the lace scarf from Victorian Lace and also on the Trekking Natura socks and finished the first of a pair of fingerless gloves.

I can't wait to get home from walking tonight, have a cup of soup and cuddle up in bed with my knitting. I wish the same for you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Catching up

I am not sure what to blame my lack of blogging on. Karen and I started walking daily, or as close to it as we can come (for exercise, not just a stroll) a little over a week ago, and that has certainly taken some of my time and energy. There's also work and knitting competing for my time, not to mention housework and laundry.
My mother fell a few days ago, and I have been worried about what the cause might be and whether it might happen again, with a worse aftermath. She lost consciouness, hurt her arm and head (probably giving herself a concussion, since she's been nauseated and had a headache since) and has some memory issues. No, she hasn't seen the doctor yet. Why? Because she doesn't think she needs to. I am concerned, and my husband is concerned. He called her and told her that she has to take better care of herself, since she's the only parent we have left. I think that got to her. Yes, he's a good guy, but he's taken, so back off. ; )

I finished the mittens for the mitten swap, and I have packed the box with most of the goodies. I am waiting for a few more things to arrive that I purchased on line and the whole thing will be sent out. No photos yet, since the recipient has not gotten the package.

I finished the side to side garter gloves, including the cuff and weaving in all ends. I just have to find 2 buttons that look right and they will be wearable. I am reasonably happy with them, and think I will make another pair, but in softer, slightly fuzzier yarn. The gloves include short rows for shaping and I don't like that you can see the turning spots so easily in this smooth yarn I used. Photos with the next post, since the batteries on the camera just decided that they were tired and need to be recharged.

I do have photos of the Twisted Flower socks I finished a short time ago. I loved this pattern, and it was a joy to knit in Shelridge Farms yarn.

And here's the heel, which was a good part of the reason I chose this pattern.

Now I have a dilemma. Do I get back to work on the lace scarf I am knitting from Victorian Lace or do I cast on for the merging colors mobius capelet? I have finished 2 projects recently, so I could justify starting something else. On the other hand, this lace scarf, which I like, by the way, has been on the needles for a while. It would be nice to finish it. Not only would I have one more project crossed off my UFO list, but I would have a beautiful scarf to either enjoy myself or to gift to someone for the holidays. What would you do?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Technical difficulties

Thursday afternoon
We had an internet outage (due to a modem that was so old, they laughed at us when we turned it in) at my house for 2 days, and my husband monopolized the computer last night, but I hope to post those stash enhancement photos soon. Meanwhile I have been working on my Mitten Swap mittens and catching up on house work and laundry that didn't get done while I was enjoying myself at Stitches. The mittens are progressing well and may be finished by the end of the night.

It's knit night at my LYS and I am going out for supper with Karen first - a very nice way to spend a Thursday evening. I hope to get the thumbs finished (that's all that's lacking) on the mittens. I would also like to work on the side to side garter glove that I have in progress and have a finished pair. I need to finish some WIP's - mentally as well as physically (since the projects are all over the house). My husband can't see well, especially in the dark, and he's tripping over my project bags in the living room. Shame on me.

Time passes....It is now Friday night. I just got back from a 40 minute walk. Karen and I are trying to get into an exercise routine, and it is working. We both felt really good after our long walk. Tomorrow I will find out (with my car) how far we walked.

I do have stash enhancment photos to share with you. First we have Cinnamon's Dye Pot Wooly alpaca, 70/30 wool/alpaca, 2 skeins, 500 yds each. I think this will become a lace shrug of some sort.

Next we have Cinnamon's Dye Pot Wooly Tussah, 50/50 tussah silk/merino - very yummy. 2 skeins, 400 yds each. Definately a shawl in the making.

There were a surprising number of vendors with fiber for sale, and I wanted to encourage that, so I purchased 4 oz. of a lovely mohair/wool blend. This will become part of my Tropical colors shawl.

I bought hemp yarn

and a pattern to make this lacy top lanaknits
Before you cringe looking at that color, keep in mind that I do have red hair. ; )

My last purchase was some sock yarn for a Christmas gift - isn't that color wonderful? I hope it reminds the recipient of warm, fun times in the middle of winter and brings a smile to her face.

I think I did pretty well at Stitches, restraining myself from too many purchases but taking advantage of the opportunity to get things that I can't usually find, and I supported my LYS (that's where I bought the lace weight yarn).

Sadly, all of the fiber events are over for this year. Next up is Maryland Sheep and Wool. Time to start saving my pennies.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stitches Class - Fully Fashioned and Fabulous

Sunday's class was inspiring, also, but in a different way. No colors, no new stitch patterns, but a very cool way to make your garments fit, and make the fitting of those garments do design work.

OK, so I didn't describe that very well. What we did was learn how increases and decreases that are intended to make your garment fit properly - actually go in and out with your body parts - can also be used as a design element. We worked on swatches - there were 5 homework swatches - so we could see the shaping and design working together, and we received guidance on how to do this in other settings. So, I can potentially choose a sweater that I like from a book or magazine, but that does not have shaping that flatters me. I can study it, do a swatch or two (or 4), and add shaping to the sweater that enhances the design or my shape or both.

Stitches classes are not cheap. They are fun, there are good discussions and sometimes we meet someone that becomes a friend, and we get excited about the teachers' books or designs. We can purchase those books and faithfully follow those designs and execute a perfect duplicate now that we know the "secret". In order to make this a truly worthwhile expenditure, though, I want to do more. I want to really apply the knowledge I gained to my knitting, not to someone else's knitting.

My commitment for this coming year is to put what I have learned to use in something unique to me. I will swatch and experiment and not feel that I have "wasted" that yarn. I will make multiple swatches until I have worked out something that I want to accomplish. I may design my own sweater or vest or I may adjust someone else's, but I will customize a garment to fit me or I will choose colors for a Fair Isle garment that suit me and please me.

Serious stuff over, I hope to post photos of my stash enhancement tomorrow.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stitches class - Color and Fair Isle

I just came home after taking this class with Fiona Ellis, and I am so inspired! I knew how to do the mechanics of Fair Isle - when to twist the yarns, making sure the floats don't bind - that kind of thing. I wanted information on color. We discussed where to look for color ideas, how to evaluate tone and value, and the very important fact that if you have a Fair Isle design with 5 colors, for instance, the arrangement of those colors is very important and can change the whole look of the design.
If you change one contrasting color for another, not removing one but just exchange the relative places of the two colors, it can make your design look very different. Obviously, swatching is vital.

We had charts for some simple designs to try in class, and worked a few of those. Then we tried knitting the same pattern but changing one of the colors. The next time we changed the other color. Several people changed both colors.

Fiona had several swatches from designs she had made for a magazine or her new book in two different color stories and also using the same colors but with the positions of the colors varied (all the same design). It was hard to believe that they were the same design in some cases because the impression you got was so different. I would have been happy to sit there for another 3 hours to keep exploring, but that wasn't to be.

I head back to Baltimore tomorrw for some Market shopping and another class. I have to go finish my last homework swatch.
Have a great Sunday.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Spinning time tonight

I just couldn't resist the spinning wheel any longer. I arrived home from work, checked the fridge to be sure we had what we needed for dinner (my husband does the cooking - lucky me!) and sat at the wheel. I am spinning this fiber

into this

It will join other yarn I have spun over the last 2 years for a "Tropical Colors" shawl that I have planned. I thought it would brighten and warm things up in the middle of a cold, dark winter if I had a shawl in the colors of warm water to snuggle into.

My husband and I ate on the deck tonight. Is it really the 10th of October? He went out on the boat today (no luck fishing) while I was at work. That's OK. I will be at Stitches this weekend while he's at work. ; )

That's right, I am going to Stitches and have two classes this weekend. I will be taking Experiment with Color and Fair Isle with Fiona Ellis and Fully Fashioned and Fabulous with Melissa Leapman. I am ready to learn and be inspired. Hmmm. I suppose I should check on homework and supplies. Bye for now.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Spinning Retreat 2007

Edited Wednesday morning to say that I started this post on Sunday afternoon, added to it on Tuesday and completed it and added photos on Wednesday.

I just arrived home and unpacked the car. What a great weekend! I am sleep deprived, have a sore drafting hand and I am very happy.

Most of us - there were about 20 - arrived on Friday. Everyone brought munchies and we filled an entire table with them. Not many of the munchies were healthy, but we did have some fruit. I baked some "chocolate comfort cookies" which were made with cocoa, melted chocolate, chocolate chips, marshmallow fluff and cranberries. Yum! We set up our wheels and fiber in the meeting room and got to work. Everyone had brought some fiber with them and started with that, though part of the weekend was getting a fiber packet with a particular theme and information about it. The packet included bamboo, latte silk, soy silk, Karaoke top, some natural and some beautifully dyed, and Tencel. I chose to spin the natural Karaoke top that was in my packet and plied it from a center pull ball.

I had brought some Corriedale that I dyed over the summer when I hosted a dyeing day at my house. I plan to make 2 ply sock yarn with it, with one ply being (brightly) multicolored and one ply yellow. I got the variegated spun up over the weekend.

We experimented with the fibers, which were new to most of us, and commiserated with each other on spinning the more difficult fibers. Several people used a nostepinne for the first time. We ate and told funny stories and laughed and just had a great time. Sunday afternoon came way to soon for me. I can't wait for next year!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Knit night

It was "Needle Exchange" night at my LYS - we sit and knit and chat about everything imaginable - and some things not. I wasn't sure about going and leaving my husband, but he wanted me to go, so....
It was a small group, but we had a good time. I love looking at the projects others are working on. Sometimes it inspires me, sometimes I just encourage or help out with a knitting question, but it's always good to go.

I haven't made much progress on any knitting in the last few days, as I am sure you can understand. I am happy just to not be going backwards at this point.

This weekend is a spinning weekend for me. The spinning guild I belong to has an annual spinning retreat at a college in PA. The entire weekend is spent spinning, experimenting with new fibers, trying out new equipment and eating. Especially chocolate. Yum! I will be plying my singles into my first 3 ply yarn, then spinning with the fibers they have chosen for this year's retreat. I'll also bring some fiber of my own, just in case I don't get along with the new fibers being provided. LOL. it's a great chance to watch other spinners and learn a new technique and just spend time with like-minded people .

Our oldest son turns 30 tomorrow. My husband is taking him out on Saturday to choose a rod and reel so he can have his own equipment when we go fishing together.

Happy birthday, Rob!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Passing

My father in law died last night. He was 80 years old. He had lived through surgery for lung cancer, prostate cancer, a stroke and several TIA's, carotid artery surgery, emphysema and heart failure. He had been in the Navy in WW II and worked as a chauffer, carpenter, taxi driver, and ran a mean sewing machine. He had 2 children - my husband and his sister, and 2 grandsons. He was great with his hands and made a teepee for the boy scout troop my husband belonged to. He was a soft spoken, gentle man and I loved him. He died 10 months after the death of his wife of 60 years. He will be sorely missed.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hiho, hiho, it's back to work I go

It was truly a Monday morning this morning. I had to go back to work after 2 weeks off. I know, I should be very thankful that I had vacation time, and that we had the money to go on vacation, and I am, but going back is so very hard to do. It actually wasn't a bad day. I am caught up on all email and phone messages, though there is still a lot of work to do.

I had planned - looked forward to, actually - getting home from work and starting a walking regimen. Again. I usually do well with my walking during the cooler weather, even during the winter, but not in the summer heat and humidity. It was not to be today, though. I had to stop and pick up a prescription on the way home. I did that, took it out to the car and returned to the store with my vacation film to be developed. I drove home anticipating a quick grilled cheese sandwich with a home grown tomatoe, then a nice 1.5 mile walk, then some Monday night football and knitting before bed. I got home and couldn't find the prescription I had just picked up. I searched my bag, the car, my bag again, then sighed and drove back to the store, feeling sure that I had dropped it outside the car. No white phamacy bag. I checked inside the store. No one had turned in a lost prescription (it wasn't the kind of thing anybody could have gotten money for). Bigger sigh. Drive home, check the car and my bag again. No luck. Well, I suppose I will have to do without until they get more in at the pharmacy. Time to make that sandwich and eat - it's almost 8 PM and I ususally eat by 6:30. Oops, what's that on the counter? My medicine. It must have grown legs - I swear I have no idea how it got there. Biggest sigh.

I did finish the 3 singles I was spinning. Now I have to ply them. I think I will wait until the weekend. I am going to a spinning weekend get-away! We leave on Friday and don't have to leave until Sunday afternoon and it's a whole weekend of spinning and eating. Mostly chocolate. See, I needed that walk tonight. Grrr. I will walk every day this week, and on the weekend. I promise.

I think I will work on that scarf from Victorian lace. Have I told you how much I love that book? Beautiful patterns and wonderful information. That's all for tonight. Tomorrow I will tell you about my spinning projects and progress. Have a good evening.