Archive for the 'vacation' Category


Postscript to the summary

I should add one interesting point to my vacation summary: while we were in Vermont, I managed to go into not one but two yarn shops and walk out without purchasing anything.

The first shop was one that we’ve visited before many times. It’s the small shop attached to a historic mill where I bought the local yarn that I used to make Wonderful Wallabies for Jan and Sylvia (well, some of hers–a portion of hers was done in Noro Kureyon). Last year I bought enough of it to make a sweater for myself, and since that yarn remains unknitted in my stash (still looking for the perfect project for it), I didn’t feel a need to buy more. Maybe next year.

The other shop I visited was the famous Kaleidoscope Yarns in Essex Junction. About two weeks before my trip, they were running a free-shipping promotion, so I placed an order with them for some Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit. I had purchased four skeins of this in Moonshadow at the spinnery itself three years ago, and earlier this summer started a new project with it (more on that later). Sometime last month I realized that I’d need at least another two skeins of the stuff to finish my project, so I started trying to find some.

I contacted the Spinnery directly, hoping they might have a few skeins of my dye lot squirreled away somewhere. No luck. (No surprise, either. After all, it has been three years.) So I decided to take a chance with Kaleidoscope. I ordered three skeins and crossed my fingers.

When they arrived, I was disappointed to discover that they were decidedly grayish in tone–and I needed something brownish. I contained Kaleidoscope for an RMA number but then realized that at least one of our day trips would take us near there, so I could just return the yarn in person.

So that’s what I did. I browsed around the store a bit but didn’t see anything that I really wanted–that is, nothing that I wanted to buy right then, knowing that I have plenty of yarn to work through at home. So I actually walked out of there with more money than I had when I walked in. How often can someone say that about a yarn shop, right?



We left Vermont nearly two weeks ago, and I’m just now starting to get caught up here.

raspberriesftf.jpgwading and boulder hopping in the Winooski River
picking wild berries
the jewel greens of mosses and ferns in the forest

heronftf.jpgchasing and (rarely) catching frogs and snakes
the susurration of wind in the trees
swimming in a cold lake on a hot sunny day
eating lots of maple ice cream

mossftf.jpga campfire on the beach
carpets of pine needles on forest floors
seeing the amazing night sky*, including the Milky Way and shooting stars during the Perseids
walking along the top of Vermont

lichenftf.jpgspotting hummingbirds and herons
kayaking and canoeing on the lake
Queen Anne’s lace everywhere

thistlesftf.jpgeating a picnic lunch at the bottom of a cliff bordering Lake Champlain
the beaver lake and dam down the dirt road from our cabin
visiting the place where we got married

leavesftf.jpgWe built a lot of great memories this year. We are already looking forward to next year’s trip.

*”The stars were so many there, they seemed to overlap.”–“The Painted Desert,” 10,000 Maniacs


Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I last posted here about three weeks ago, shortly before we headed out of town and up to Vermont for our annual two-week stay in a little cabin next to a little lake. We got home yesterday afternoon, unloaded the car (which resulted in the living room looking like a laundromat exploded in the middle of it), and spent the evening settling back into being home. And recovering from the drive, too. In an attempt to avoid the hell known as The New Jersey Turnpike on the Weekend, we decided to take a slightly longer (in miles, but not usually in time) and decidedly more scenic route through the charmingly named Delaware Water Gap. Unfortunately, one construction zones and several accident sites delayed us considerably.

During our vacation, I was completely Internet-free. The cottage has a (glacially slow) dial-up connection that I’ve used in past years, but crawling the Internet when you’re used to surfing it Point Break style is just too painful. So this year I opted to stay away from it entirely while in Vermont. This also served as an experiment of sorts to see what it would be like to avoid the constantly flowing river of information in which I usually dip my toes a few times daily. The result? Well, I didn’t go insane. So that’s a good sign.

Ultimately I found that I didn’t really miss the Internet–not in the short term, at least. I’m glad to have it in my life and happy it’s here to help me keep in touch with old friends, meet new friends, learn new things, and generally keep my brain from turning into mush. But the Internet hasn’t always been around, and sometimes it’s nice to step back from it and pay more attention to what’s going on around you. And when what’s going on around you is Vermont in August, well, then paying attention to it isn’t really that hard.


Vermont: The yarn-related version

p8062128wallaby.jpgThose of you who’ve been around here for a while may recall that during my family’s annual trek up to Vermont last summer, I knit a Wonderful Wallaby for Sylvia out of Rowan All-Seasons Cotton. If you take a look at that old post, you’ll see one of my first—and last—attempts to carefully document the parameters of a knitting project (e.g., start date, finish date, needles used). I jot down these things in a pocket-sized notebook that lives in my knitting bag, but somehow I just don’t manage to get that information into my blog, too.

p8072164wallabysmall0807.jpgWhen I was packing my knitting bag for this year’s trip, I brought stuff to make socks, mittens, and a Sylvia-sized sweater. The day after we arrived at the cottage, I suddenly felt the urge to knit another Wonderful Wallaby for her (I dunno…maybe it’s something in the water up there?). So I did. This one was made mostly out of Noro Kureyon, but I knew I wouldn’t have enough of it for the whole thing. So I knit the pocket in some dark green local Vermont yarn. And about halfway up the hood, I ran out of the Kureyon and used the green stuff there, too.

Yeah, the finished sweater is a bit large on her. But that gives her plenty of room to grow into it. And she loves it, so I’m happy, too!

p8122460blueyarnftf.jpgYou’d think I’d have the Wonderful Wallaby out of my system by now, right? Nope. I bought some local yarn to make one for Jan, too. I got started on it right away, and by the time our two weeks in Vermont were up I’d nearly finished both sleeves.

p8122459tanyarnftf.jpgAnd I bought some local yarn to make myself a Wallaby, too. We’re going to be one of those families who wear matching sweaters—well, slightly matching, at least. I like that all three of our sweaters will include yarn from our favorite place.

p8132814shelburneyarnftf.jpgMy yarn expenditures weren’t that huge during this trip. The local worsted I bought was only $4.50 for each four-ounce skein. This stuff here, merino made from sheep who live at Shelburne Farms, cost twice as much—which is why I bought only two skeins. But Shelburne Farms is one of Sylvia’s favorite places (at our first visit there, last year, Sylvia had a memorable meeting with a chicken), and Jan suggested it might be nice to knit something for her with yarn from there. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with it (Jan thought an intarsia sheep or chicken on a sweater made of other yarn could be fun). Suggestions?


Vermont: Flora and fauna

p8132818chipmunkftf.jpgWe saw lots of interesting animals on our hikes and bike rides, but I was never quick enough with the camera then (or camera-less entirely). But there was plenty to see close to home, too.

On the deck behind our cottage is a huge wooden bird feeder. It’s more like a trough, really, and we keep it filled with sunflower seeds. (The cottage owners make sure to keep the place stocked with a large bag of seeds.)

p8132835chipmunkcheeksftf.jpgThe feeder is visited by plenty of birds, but it also gets a fair number of chipmunk visitors, who brazenly climb in and sit inside while stuffing their cheeks full of seeds. (Click on the picture of the feeder, and you’ll see what I mean.)

Here’s one little guy, just after he visited the bird feeder. It almost seemed as though he stopped to pose for this photo, the little ham!

p8132827hummingbirdftf.jpgThere were two hummingbird feeders out there, too. And they were both very popular! I’d never been this close to hummingbirds before—they were literally a foot away from me at time. The buzzing of their wings sounds a lot like bees.

p8122458berriesftf.jpgDuring our outing to the beaver pond, we spotted lots of blackberry bushes with not-quite-ripe berries. “D’oh!” we thought. “We’re a week early!” And then, on our way back to the cottage, Jan spotted a likely blackberry patch. Ka-ching! We hit the mother lode. Wild blackberries have plenty of thorns, but if you’re willing to put up with a few scratches here and there (well, okay—maybe a lot of scratches), you end up with one of the best-tasting things in the world.

p8132756grasshopperftf.jpgThis year, Sylvia had two firsts in the animal-catching department. She caught her first frog, and she caught her first grasshopper. In both cases, she was absolutely tickled pink with her accomplishment—and extremely gentle with the animals, both of which she released. She held the grasshopper (pictured here) for a few seconds. And then, with no prompting from Jan and me, she said, “It’s time to let the grasshopper go,” opened her hands, and watched it hop away.

img_0260smokeysmall0809.jpgAnd of course you can’t have a proper vacation without at least one encounter with a pantless Smokey the Bear, right?


Vermont: The great outdoors

p8122429beaverpondftf.jpgHere are some pictures from the two weeks we spent in Vermont in early August.

First, a beaver pond not far from where we were staying. The three of us went there on bicycles (Sylvia was in a pull-behind trailer) and found a little side trail leading to this spot. Here we had a great view not only of the entire pond, but also of the beaver lodge and the dam itself (on the left side of this photo)!

p8102395mossftf.jpgIs it just me, or do northeastern forests have a fundamentally different smell from forests in other parts of the country? There’s a cinnamon-y aroma surrounded by a pleasant mustiness. Interestingly, I’ve encountered the same smell in the Pacific Northwest, but not anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic or the Midwest. Hmmm.

And the jewel tones in the green moss…that’s mostly a northern thing, too.

p8082204thiscloud0808.jpgAnd finally, here’s a photo of the pond next to our cottage. It’s really hard to capture the sense of a place like this in a photo. I took gobs of pictures, but—like attempts to photograph sunsets—the results don’t look quite like the real thing. It’s enough to jog my memory, though…and enough to keep me going until next year’s trip.

Early in the summer, I signed up for the Knitter’s Virtual Vacation Swap. Over the summer, participants chatted with their matches, then sent a “virtual vacation” package from where they live to their downstream partner.

p9066706vacation.jpgI’ve had some lovely e-mail chats with my upstream partner but had no idea who she was until yesterday, when her package arrived: Chelle, at Rainforest Knits, in Burnaby, Canada. Burnaby is in the suburbs of Vancouver, where Chelle grew up, and she sent me a fabulous collection of items from Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada.


  • Tea. Thunderbolt Darjeeling (which I’ve not tried before, though Darjeeling is my favorite variety of tea) and blueberry tea (which I am looking forward to trying!).
  • Magnets. I collect fridge magnets, and Chelle sent three of them (including one with an otter, Gina!).
  • Maple syrup. In a maple leaf–shaped bottle!
  • A tiny stuffed beaver wearing a red sweater with “Canada” on it.
  • City of Glass, Douglas Coupland’s ode to Vancouver.
  • A rock and seashell (collected and cleaned by Chelle’s daughter) from a rocky beach on Galiano Island.
  • A plastic cup (with a built-in straw) from the Vancouver Aquarium. (Not pictured because Sylvia immediately claimed it as her own and refused to relinquish it long enough for me to take a photo.)
  • A skein of green hand-dyed, fingering-weight wool from Shelridge Farm in Durham, Ontario. (There are 350 yards/100 g of it. Any suggestions on what I should use it for?)
  • A skein of in Fleece Artist merino-seacell sock yarn in “Mermaid” (blue-purple-green), from Nova Scotia. (These are definitely getting turned into luscious socks!)

Everything in this package is so lovely. I feel like I’ve taken a trip to Vancouver. Actually, I have been to Vancouver—during one spring break while I was in grad school—and I loved it. I’m not a big-city person, but Vancouver struck me as a place I’d like to live. For now, I’ll have to content myself with traveling there virtually, thanks to Chelle—and maybe starting to hatch plans to travel there for real some time in the not-too-distant future.

The syrup and sock yarn were interesting to see, because my husband and I use similarly shaped bottles of maple syrup (my hunch is there’s one company in the world that makes those things and sells them to all the sugar houses) as wedding favors when we got married in Vermont. And the yarn has a wedding connection, too: it’s from Nova Scotia, one of the places we visited on our honeymoon.

Thanks so much, Chelle!


The rest of my vacation

It’s been a little over two weeks since we returned from our vacation in Vermont. Looking over the many (over 800) pictures I took, I find myself remembering all sorts of details from our trip. We had a great time in a beautiful place–I’d move there (or Oregon) in a heartbeat if we could manage it financially. For the time being, though, we’re staying in the Mid-Atlantic. And already making plans to go back to Vermont next August…

p8146357clover.jpg(Clover in the forest.)


p8166490poop.jpgEnvironmental education at Shelburne Farms.


p8075983waterfall.jpgMoss Glen Falls, near Stowe.


p8076002moss.jpgNo rolling stones in sight.


p8055869mcanoe.jpgMe in a canoe.


p8096063rasp.jpgWild raspberries, picked just moments earlier.


(There are more photos from this trip on my Flickr page, if you’re interested.)


Vermont: the yarn

p8106175.jpgLast summer, when my family went to Vermont for vacation, we stayed in the Northeast Kingdom. This meant that on the way up there, we passed right by Putney–so of course we stopped at the Green Mountain Spinnery. (And on the way back home, we stopped by one of my favorite restaurants in the world, the Miss Bellows Falls Diner.) This year, though, we went to the other side of the state, about thirty miles northeast of Burlington. Our route took us through the Adirondacks and on a ferry across Lake Champlain, far from the Spinnery.

p8106178.jpgBut of course that didn’t stop me from acquiring some yarn during my vacation! On a rainy Wednesday, my friends Gina, Katie, and Beth (who were vacationing with their families on the same pond we were on) and I drove to Essex Junction, just under an hour away, where we visited Kaleidoscope Yarns. Hands-down, it’s the best knitting shop I have ever visited. The staff was friendly but not in-your-face (and certainly not snooty or unwelcoming like pretty much every other yarn-shop owner or employee I’ve ever encountered). And the yarn selection was…well, let me just say that I am still amazed at my willpower. I was surrounded by amazing yarns (with no tacky novelty yarns in sight) and managed not to buy anything. I was sorely tempted by the Malbrigo and by Green Mountain Spinnery’s Sylvan Spirit, but I decided to wait until I had a particular project in mind before making any yarn purchases.

p8106180.jpgAfter a terrific lunch (thanks to a recommendation for a local restaurant from the yarn-shop staff), we headed to the Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, owned by Joanne Littler. Her in-home studio/shop is open only by appointment, and it took a couple of days of back-and-forth phone calls to find a time that worked for all of us. But it was well worth the trouble–what amazing yarn. It’s super-bulky stuff best suited for hats. The huge, hanging skeins Joanne had were a bit out of my budget, but she had a few baskets of odds and ends–ten yards here, thirty-five yards there–available at a discount. From those baskets (and the two giant plastic totes of other oddments that she brought out for our perusal) I managed to put together enough yarn for three hats: one for Jan, in blue (top photo); one for Sylvia, in purple and magenta (second photo); and one for me, in red and a russet autumnal mix (third photo).

p8106181.jpgSylvia has her own “knitting bag” at home–a small totebag filled with my yarn scraps and gauge squares. It also includes a giant crochet hook, which is just right for her version of “knitting” (i.e., poking at a clump of yarn bits held in her hand) but not something that’s likely to poke out her eye. Joanne had a few bunches of brightly colored merino tops, so I picked up an orange one for Sylvia to add to her knitting bag. (The fuschia one is going to my downstream Virtual Vacation Swap partner.)

p8216599.jpgA few days later, after the hike featured in the previous post, we stopped in a little shop attached to a nearby historical society. There, amid the books, jewelry, cards, and prints featuring the work of Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, I found locally spun and dyed yarn. I had no idea how much I’d need for an adult-sized sweater, but figured that five four-ounce skeins of heavy worsted would surely be enough for something for Sylvia. I chose a subdued periwinkle blue that I think (hope!) she’ll like.


Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I’ve just returned from a two-week vacation in Vermont, which is one of my favorite places on the planet. There were  hikes in the woods, a friendly white chicken, wild raspberries picked on the trail, a mountain pond, shooting stars, the best sweet corn I’ve ever eaten, and so much more. And yarn. Yes, there was yarn, too.

We’ve got most of the unpacking done, but I’ve only just begun to get caught up in my electronic life. I have e-mail to go through (I checked it several times while I was away, but somehow a truckload of e-mail decided to arrive in my mailbox since I last checked it a few days ago) , my Google Reader to browse, and about a gazillion photos to download and sort.  It’ll take me a few days to get situated, and then you’ll all be regaled with tales of my northern adventures.

My local post office held my (snail) mail while I was gone, and for some reason I can’t quite explain, when I put in the hold request I told them not to deliver it until tomorrow. I think my brain temporarily went on vacation before the rest of me did. I know there’s a Dishcloth Swap package in there (my swap pal mailed it a few days before I left, so I just missed it!), and I think Gnorm from the Knitting Gnome Swap is in there, too. So I just want to let those senders know that I’ll post about those packages within the next couple of days.

Oh–and Secret Pal 11 started while I was gone, too (just a few days ago). So hello to my SP11 pal, too!