Category Archives: vacation

Summer on Narragansett Bay

What a beautiful place to be this summer, especially by boat…..a coastline of bridges and windmills everywhere you look!  I spent almost a week in Providence during July, and now we are floating by many of the other wonderful towns along this coast.

So here is my vignette of sights.  No surprise that it is mostly gardens and doors! Here is a colorful door in Bristol.  There are numerous streets in Bristol with lovely, old homes.



Lots of historic houses with beautiful gardens…


And then there is Blithewold, the fairest of them all.

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Not only is it an amazing house that can still boast its original furnishings, the gardens are superb……and most with a view of the bay!


Here is Bob walking under the garden arch toward the house.



When you’re not admiring the bayviews from the gardens, you can admire a different kind of water view.


We passed this last gem of a house on our way back to the dinghy after finishing up at Blithewold….although you can never really ‘finish up’… can only force yourself to leave with a promise to come back and spend more time.


On our way back to the dinghy at the Herreschoff Museum docks, we stopped for lunch at The Lobster Pot.  We had a great view from our table!


We are in the Bahamas!

It was a long night making the crossing to the Bahamas.  I’m very thankful that it was a LOT easier than last year, but there were still a couple of hours of boisterous wind and waves that I could have skipped.  This is the dawn that greeted us after we’d been sailing on the banks for several hours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis year we cleared in on a small cay in the Berries called Chub Cay.  It doesn’t look at all like the Exumas, being much more lush….rather like the Abacos. Here is the little church at the main cross roads on the island.


And here is Pandora sitting at anchor while we visited the Chub Cay Club.  Even on a second visit to these waters, I am stunned by how beautiful it is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The water all around us is full of sea life:  red starfish, ramoras, barricuda, sharks!….even little puffer fish.  Here is a shark that was checking us out….I think he knew that Bob wanted to clean the hull of Pandora, and maybe he thought he might get lucky and snag a couple fingers or toes if he waited… (and there is nothing to get a sense of scale in this photo, so I’ll tell you this shark is about 8 feet long).


When Bob did clean the hull (and I stood on deck keeping watch for the sharks, with a big screw driver in my hand, ready to bang on the hull to give Bob a warning to get out of the water!), all the fish hung out all around him.  The ramora stayed right by his side, and we’re thinking he was enjoying the little bits of stuff that Bob was scraping off the hull.

The second night we were here we saw the green flash!… and then there have been wonderful sunrises, sunsets, and even a rainbow and a water funnel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday we left the Berries and sailed for Nassau where we will meet Christopher in just a couple more days.  While we wait I think I might take a look at the shops in Atlantis…. now there’s a thought! We are anchored right off some docks with a pretty restaurant called Luciano’s.  Dinner there last night was quite memorable! We ate on the terrace, shown here, overlooking Atlantis across the harbor.

2-11-2014 Lucianos terrace nassau

And I’m celebrating that I finished the first Oktoberfest sock!  Go me! I know the photo is too dark.  Sigh….it was getting late in the day.  I am happy with the pattern.  The barley stalks remind me of bubbles, and I love the frothy finish at the top! ….the color is quite reminiscent of a Blue Moon!  I might not see one of those ’til I get home in May…


Thoughts of Home

It is truly springtime in southern New England now, and I’m feeling a bit homesick.  I heard that the peepers are calling at night, and the forsythia and daffodils are in bloom!

Bob happened to get the New York Times on Sunday, and saw this editorial, “The Rural Life: A Box of Sheep,” by Verlyn Klinkenborg, which he sent to me.  It put me in mind of springtime all across the continental US.

Klinkenborg wrote: I set the box on the kitchen table, opened it with a knife and folded back the newspaper inside. The scent of sheep rose like a genie from a bottle — a genie who used a lot of lanolin. This was the fleece from a Cheviot sheep, sheared only a few days earlier.

I can see that flock of sheep, moving out into the fields now, at least during the mild days, feeding on the lush new greens of spring.  The ewes are lambing so there are frolicking little wooly creatures in those fields as well.  I remember the little lambs that Susan and I held in our arms at Kinderhook Farm in New York state. In my new little part of the world on the Connecticut River, I have seen a nearby sheep farm and an alpaca farm.  I can’t wait to visit!

I’ll be arriving home in time to visit the Connecticut Weavers’ Guild biennial exhibition in Hartford.  There will be one more guild meeting for me to attend before the summer hiatus, and you cannot imagine how excited I am to reconnect with weavers!  In July I’ll be going to the New England Weavers’ Seminar.  My landlubber life is starting to call to me!

Meanwhile, life here is still quite fascinating.  On our last day in Little Harbor we visited the smallest blue hole I’ve ever seen! The water around the hole was barely ankle deep, yet in the hole we could see yellow tangs, parrotfish, sargent majors, and some varieties we don’t yet know!

We spent some time with Bret and Kristin and saw the pieces coming out of their plaster shells.

On our last morning in Little Harbor we took a walk along a residential road.  One property had quite an elaborate tropical garden.

The weather is decidedly different now, and we’re not sure if it’s because we are now in the Abacos or because it’s now April….or both!  We’ve had some terrific squalls that brought lots of rain, the first we’ve had in almost four months.  On our walk we found some orchids that we think are Epidendrums that are just now setting buds.  I guess the wet season will be here soon….and then the hurricanes!

We have spent two days in Marsh Harbor, provisioning, doing laundry, and  Bob found a barber!…his first haircut since December!  He is thrilled, but I thought his longer hair was quite cute! While Marsh Harbor did not inspire us to take photographs, I am thrilled beyond words to now have onboard two avocados, several tomatoes, and a green pepper!  Can you say guacamole?? We may now have enough lemons and limes to last ’til I leave! Even better than that are clean sheets and towels!  And Marsh Harbor has a lovely spot to relax called Curly Tails!

Yesterday we wandered into Curly Tails for the second time in late afternoon and saw on TV the coverage of the Boston Marathon tragedy.  Being in this simple place, where people have so little and yet, on the whole, are so thankful for their little piece of home, it seems impossible that there could be such malice in the world.  I cannot fathom it.

Shortly we will head to Hopetown.

Ending the trip with a Bang!

My last few days in Maine will be spent riding out what remains of hurricane Irene when she hits these shores.  Hopefully she will be spent by the time she arrives, but everyone has to be prepared for the worst!

We are in a small island harbor called Pulpit Rock in Penobscot Bay. There is a big rock formation at the mouth of this natural harbor that does look a bit like a pulpit.  More than looking like a podium this rock is famous for having a 200+ year old osprey nest at the pinnacle of the pulpit.

Our preparations for the storm are almost complete.  We have two anchors out to keep us from swinging when the winds increase, all the sails are furled and lashed down, loose items have all been stored below.  The larder is well stocked so I intend to cook some comfort food today, perhaps an egg/veggie/cheese timbale, onion soup, and warm homemade chocolate pudding!

Chocolate Pudding from Cook's Illustrated

Thank heave there is a good internet signal because I got the chocolate pudding recipe from this month’s Cook’s Illustrated!



Also on my agenda after we have finished our storm preparations, is watching a couple of good spinning DVDs I have on board while doing some spinning! I have Margaret Stove’s “Spinning for Lace” and Judith McKenzie’s “A Spinner’s Toolbox,” both from Interweave Press!

Handpainted cotton roving "Phoenix Garden"

And in my large bin of toys I have some handpainted cotton roving from Girl Meets Spindle in a colorway called “Phoenix Garden.”  Now doesn’t this sound like a good plan for riding out a tropical storm?

So I’m hoping that wherever you are you are safe and dry, and doing something fibery on this stormy weekend.

Knitting and Fabric Shops in Coastal Maine

Several of our usual ports have surprised me with wonderful knitting and fabric shops!  Our ‘guest room’ is quickly filling up with my treasures!

Bath: Halcyon (the photo on their homepage is that Ecobaby sailor pattern! Ha!)  I have to admit that I’ve never been to Halcyon by

Halcyon Yarn

boat, but I have been going by car for 15 years.  You could get there by boat if you wanted to go that far up the Kennebec River and brave its challenging currents.  In all the years I’ve driven over that bridge I’ve never actually seen a sailboat moored in the river near Bath.  That’s not to say no sailboats ever go, just that I haven’t seen them on my yearly visit.  And what can I say about Halcyon, other than it is a weaver’s and knitter’s Mecca, not to mention spinners, rug hookers, crocheters, braiders, felters, etc…etc… If you do anything related to fiber, this is a great resource! Halcyon is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.  I had a wonderful shopping spree there!

Boothbay Harbor:  You need a car to get to Onboard Fabrics, but it is really worth it!  It’s a barn on Rte 127 (and their address is Edgecomb but my point of view is the harbor where a sailing seamstress might disembark), not far off Rte. 1 on the way to

On Board Fabrics, near Boothbay Harbor

Boothbay Harbor.  They have lots of nautical fabrics, inweights from upholstery to cotton lawn.  This year I bought fabrics to make aprons for gifts.  No sewing machine on board Pandora, so these projects will have to wait ’til I get home (meanwhile, my husband does have his sailrite sewing machine on board…but it will only sew heavy canvas and sail materials!).


Rockland: Quilt Divas.  They have fabric and yarn!  And the selections for both are great!  It is walking distance from the harbor

Quilt Divas in Rockland also has a large selection of yarn and knitting books

for us sailors!  I bought the Debbie Bliss “Ecobaby” book here as well as the yarn for the sailor sweater that is currently challenging me to re-design the collar!  I also bought more fabric for aprons here.  Now I’m going to make a lot of aprons for gifts!




Camden: The Cashmere Goat is new this year, in a good location right in the center of town (what used to be a shoe store).  The shop

'The Cashmere Goat in Camden

is not yet full, but they do have some wonderful yarns.  I bought Manos del Uruguay’s “Serena” (kettle dyed, 60% baby alpaca, 40% pima cotton) in a handpainted colorway (#9796) of watery blues and greens.  I’m going to knit a lace shawl from one of the free patterns at Interweave Knits


Belfast: Sock Heaven.  This yarn store has been in business for about 10 years now, but I haven’t been to Belfast in about 15 years,

Heavenly Socks in Belfast

so it is new to me! There is an entire wall of yarns produced in Maine, including Hope Spinnery and Done Roving. My big score here was Louet “KidLin”(49% linen, 35% kid mohair, 16% nylon) which I’ve been hoping to find during all my yarn store hunting.  It was hard to choose a color for Louet’s “Cia” Pattern, but I finally settled on “Mexican Orange,” a fun blend of gold and warm pink.

There is also a beautiful fabric store on High St. in Belfast.  I did not note the name yesterday, but I hope to go back today to spend more time there.  I will take a photo and get the name!


Other places.  I’ve been to the guild shop in the center of Blue Hill, as well as the yarn shop slightly out of town that has since gone out of busines (sigh…), and I’ve been to Shirley’s Yarns in Hancock (where I bought Dale microfiber years ago for a tank top I never finished because it was so unflattering on me!). Now I understand there are two shops in Blue Hill that I may not know: Blue Hill Yarn shop on Ellsworth Rd. and  String Theory on Beach Hill Rd.  I don’t know if we’ll get to Blue Hill this year, but now I hope so! And a google search shows two promising shops on Mt. Desert, one in Southwest Harbor (Lilac Lily Yarn Shop) and one in Bar Harbor (Bee’s, Inc.), so I hope to visit both of these since we are on our way there for the weekend.

I am putting aside the Debbie Bliss sailor sweater for the moment.  This is quite a disappointment to me, but I do want to give some thought to that collar.  The knitters on Ravelry did not have any solutions that appealed to me, so I will take a look in my library of knitting design books when I return home in September.

Here is my next knitting project, Louet’s “Cia.”

Louet's "Cia"

Louet's KidLin Mexican Orange

First I will finish my own design that uses Tess Designer Yarns’ micofiber ribbon.  I’ll be writing up that pattern to share here and on Ravelry.  It’s a very simple pattern, and I’m almost finished!




Greenhouse Tank finished!

Camden Harbor and Mt. Battie through the stern of Pandora


Schooner "Appledore" with Camden's iconic steeple in background


pedestrian bridge of flowers in Camden


Camden Harbor from the top of Mt. Battie. "Pandora" is at the bottom of photo, closest to shore in second row from left of moored boats.

Camden Harbor and beyond from Mt. Battie

Seals on the beach...on our way to Buck's Harbor

sailing to Buck's Harbor with schooner "Mercantile"

Sailing with Herreschoff New York 30'. This is the boat I used in my tapestry of the Palisades on the Hudson River.

Friendship Sloop with schooner in background

Wednesday Group Tapestry Retreat

The Wednesday Group held a 3-day tapestry retreat with Susan Martin Maffei and Archie Brennan at the end of April.  It was a wonderful workshop, an escape into the Catskills just outside Woodstock, NY, where we lived together at the secluded house of one of our members, sharing meals , working hard each day and sleeping ‘slumber party style’ each night.  We brought food to share, tapestries to critique, and lots of materials for weaving. Our hostess took great care of us with her fabulous cooking and generous hospitality.

First day lunch gathering

Betty Vera, who lives nearby, came to visit for lunch on the first day. She is half way down the table on the right side of photo.  Susan and Archie are at the far end.

We spent the three days reviewing tapestry techniques, mostly how to create smooth angles and revisiting the ‘stealing’ technique.  By the end we were all creating smooth curves with stealing.  I hope to write more on this shortly!  As a finale to the workshop, at our last dinner together we each brought a coin with our name taped to it and tossed it on to the generously full table of food. Now we will each create a small tapestry depicting whatever was within a short radius of our coin.  We spent the end of the workshop creating and practicing ideas for these small tapestries which might someday hang together as “Helen’s Buffet” or “Helen’s Feast” in honor of our hostess!

The highlight of the retreat was being able to buy the first copies of the long awaited DVD on tapestry techniques!  It is an 8-disc set that comes with a booklet.  Gary Benson and  Wed. Grouper Sarah Doyle have worked hard to complete this project. The DVD is in production now and should be available to everyone soon!

Brennan Maffei Tapestry DVD, 8-disc set


>Scrapbook of Maine


The weeks are passing, in some ways quickly, in others rather slowly, and I’ve now been on board our boat Pandora for a full month as of yesterday!  This is the longest I’ve ever been on a boat.  Here are some images from my month in Maine.

Maine 8.21.10 019 Day schooner that sails out of Camden





Maine 8.21.10 045 Along the Fox Island Thoroughfare, between North Haven and Vinalhaven.




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Herreschoff 12 1/2 (means the water line is 12.5 feet),  well known wooden gaff rigged sloop from the early 20th c. designed by Nathaniel Herreshoff, “the wizard of Bristol” (RI).

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Bass Island lighthouse, southern most tip of Mt. Desert Island.  This is the most photographed lighthouse in Maine!



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Our boat, Pandora, is in the center of this photo, taken from the lookout on the way up to Thuya Gardens in Northeast Harbor, on Mt. Desert Island.


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Thuya Gardens, designed by Charles K. Savage.




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Thuya Gardens




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The reflecting pond at Thuya Gardens





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Bee house at Thuya Gardens.  Bob took this photo for me so I could remind him to make one for our garden!



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The fog bank rolling into Southwest Harbor on Mt. Desert Island.




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The fog bank coming into the harbor and boats rapidly disappearing!




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The rapidly ebbing tide near Blue Hill.  This type of rushing tidal current is called a reversing waterfall.  This is supposedly the biggest reversing falls in Maine.


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Reversing falls near Blue Hill.





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Morning mist on our friend’s 100 yr. old lobster boat in Oven’s Mouth on the Sheepscot River.



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Osprey nest.

>Maine Fiber Artists’ Open Studios


Well, it’s another beautiful summer in Maine, and I’m so lucky to visit other amazing fiber farmers and fiber artists’ studios!

This year’s plan was a bit more involved than previous years, and it was a fun adventure!  My husband wanted to attend a rendevous for the Seven Seas Cruising Association on Islesboro so we worked out a plan to take the ferry to Lincolnville on two of the weekend mornings.  The first morning we hitchhiked partway and got a cab partway to get back to our car in Rockland.  Then, at the end of the day, I left the car at the ferry terminal so it would be handy for our second day of sightseeing.

This is the eating area of the snack bar at the ferry terminal on Islesboro.  It’s about 7am, and the fog bank is rolling away to reveal the Camden Hills and the beautiful day ahead!Maine 8.7.10 002 It took two hours from the time the ferry left ‘til we had our car, although the ferry ride was only 20 minutes!  We also got picked up hitchhiking a lot faster than when we waited for the cab in downtown Camden!

Day one of fiber sightseeing included Eolian Farm where no one was home, too bad for me!

These photos were taken outside Swans Island Blankets on Rte. 1, just outside of Lincolnville.  What a stunning 18th century farmhouse they use for their showroom! Maine 8.7.10 003We saw the looms as well as the dyeing room.

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Two Sons Alpaca Farm in Damariscotta was the farm highlight of the weekend for me!  Owner Ricki Waltz was very happy to talk about her animals to us, a fascinating blend of alpaca husbandry and tales of the various personalities in her herd.  The babies were adorable and had quite distinct personalities right from the start!

Timberdoodle 2 (alas! no website!) is a lovely studio overlooking the water near Cushing.  It’s a tiny, perfectly appointed showcase of Kathryn Woodstock-Lynn’s lace spinning and knitting!  Using traditional Shetland techniques, learned from such venerated knitters as Gladys Almedro, Sharon Miller and others, she knits lace shawls and wraps of her own design.  Her spinning is exquisite and so is her dyeing!  There were two large hatboxes of yarns for sale, each with enough to make either a shawl or a scarf.  One box held natural colored yarn, the other was full of her hand dyed creations.  She blends acid dyes into a stunning array of colors.  I dearly wanted a ‘red’ but did not have the pocketbook for it this summer.  I did buy a Shetland/Oxford mix dyed an indescribable mix of pink/lavender/tan ….just a small ball that will make a lovely scarf.

Katharine CobeyWhen I entered this studio I instinctively knew that I was in the presence of an artist, and that her studio was probably going to be the highlight of all our travels this summer!  Her studio and its setting along the water is as artistic as Katharine herself.  The wall of glass that faces the water must provide an ever changing inspiration to her spinning and knitting. When I entered Katharine was reclining in an overstuffed chair with ottoman, knitting away on a current project. Her large Rio Grande ‘sitting great wheel’ was nearby, and one of the first things she did was give me a demonstration on how it works!  I’ve always wondered how one could sit and spin at a great wheel, and after seeing Rachel Brown’s simple technique which Katherine does so well, I am awestruck by what a simple feat it is to change from spinning off the spindle to winding on without stopping the wheel.  Thank heaven for Rachel Brown! Katharine made it look utterly simple, but when she encouraged me to try it I quickly learned that I’d need several hours (or days!) to get the hang of it!Maine 8.7.10 033







Part of Katharine’s studio is a showcase for some of her work.  There was a display of knitted mantles arranged in a circle and exquisitely lighted called Ritual against Homelessness.  They were beautifully moving.  There was also a wire-knitted form on the wall that was wonderful. The form itself was interesting and was greatly enhanced by its shadow.  The combination of real form and shadow were terrific together.

On leaving, Katharine handed me one of her postcards which is when I realized I knew of her!  I had seen Boat with Four Figures at the Portland Museum a few years back, but didn’t realize she was the artist!  I’m thrilled to have met her!  

>The Price of Eggs in China, aka Talking Pears


I did finally take an afternoon to weave while we were anchored in Hadley Harbor, on the Island of Naushon just across from Wood’s Hole.

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I’m working on a small tapestry that was an assignment from a workshop that Archie and Susan gave to the Wednesday Group several months ago. They called the workshop “Talking Pears.” For the workshop we were to bring two Bosc pears, our sketchbooks and pencils, and a variety of colored papers.

For the morning, we arranged and drew our two pears several times.  After our lunch break, we took the sketches we liked best and used them as ideas for making several paper collage designs.  The nature of the paper collage designs being so graphic led to other ideas.

pears cropped

At the end of class we lined up our paper collages and discussed shapes, arrangements, and color choices.

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This may be more than you want to know about the “price of eggs in China,” but I’m certain that Archie and Susan carefully chose this workshop as a clever way to make us start thinking in the language of tapestry rather than in the language of pure image.  Many of us are often intrigued by an image first and foremost, and we attempt to make a cartoon that will be weaverly.

Here, the relationship of our pears as two shapes coming together, along with the relationship of the surrounding area, and the colors we chose to use took precedence over the image itself.  The simple paper collages we made prevented us from creating shading and contours.

This simple exercise has allowed each of us to focus on how to create the shapes of the pears and the surrounding areas.  I’ve never paid so much attention to my curves and slopes!  I’m usually too busy also trying to create light and shadow.  I had a lot of fun choosing the colors for this little project, and with only six colors I really concentrated on the relationship between them.


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Here you can see the frame that Bob made for me to hold my copper pipe looms.  This frame allows me to adjust the loom up and down so I’ll always be weaving at a comfortable height.




One Wednesday Grouper has already woven eight small tapestries!  Several others have already woven two.  This is my first one, and I do hope to weave another.  I’m so slow that two will probably be my limit!