Category Archives: yarn

Antigua to Guadeloupe, from English Charm to French Shabby Chic

We left Antigua more than a week ago, and I have not had internet until now.  Bob has had better luck than with that than I have.  Isn’t that weird??  He’ll be sitting next to me able to get email and write a blog post while my computer will not connect.  The mysteries of cyberspace…. especially the mystery that his ancient clunker of a PC works so much better than my moderately middle ages Macbook.  Hmmm…

Guadeloupe is the most beautiful island I have ever seen!  Some of our cruising friends have told me that Antigua is the beginning of the ‘real’ Caribbean, and that every island gets more and more beautiful as you head south.  I really cannot imagine that.  We spent almost a week in the small harbor of Deshaies (pronounced DAY ‘Eh–reminds me of a certain Caribbean song made famous by Harry Belafonte…how about you?) on the northwestern coast of Guadeloupe, and I was thoroughly enamored of the charming seaside village.  As we sailed in the mountains rose up all around us and a tiny bit of shoreline was dotted with colorful buildings, all with red roofs.  The scene was dominated by a white tower with a red roof that rose above all the other buildings.  No surprise that it is the Catholic church for the village.  We had arrived back in the land of baguettes and wonderful vegetables!

But before I talk about Guadeloupe, I should finish up with our last days in Antigua.  We rented a car to take Chris to the airport, so after we said our tearful goodbyes (for my part certainly), we took the rest of the day to explore parts of the island we could not get to on foot.

Betty’s Hope is a well known tourist attraction.  At some point in Antigua’s past there were about 600 stone windmills on the island, used to power the processing of sugar cane into sugar.  All these windmills were built by the hard labor of slaves and oxen.  There are still about a hundred windmills in various stages of decay on the island, but two at Betty’s Hope are beautiful examples. One has been restored to working order and is used to demonstrate grinding the cane on certain occasions.  While we were not there on one of those occasions, it was still very impressive to see the windmills.  Just to move the arms to face into the wind requires a lot of manpower and oxen power.

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Betty’s Hope was named for the daughter of the landowner.  I was disappointed to learn this.  I had hoped that the name was in honor of a slave woman, possibly the wife, mother, aunt, grandmother of several of the men who had built these windmills.  Well, so much for my romantic notions about the history of this place.  What on earth was this Betty hoping for?  A big sugar yield to make her family wealthier than they already were?  I can imagine so many more interesting hopes for a Betty who lived and worked the land with her family than for the real Betty.  Still, I bet there is some pretty interesting history here.  I would know more if we had internet!

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Betty’s hope is now home to a large herd of goats, which Bob and I enjoyed most of all!  There were lots of kids frolicking, even some newborns.  Baby goats are about as cute as babies get! Our new baby granddaughter, Tori, would have enjoyed them too!

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We have been so entertained by all the goats on Antigua.  There is large solar farm in the middle of the island where we saw goats eating the weeds around the panels.  This is their day job. Late in the afternoon the goats somehow know it’s time to go home.  They head out with no shepherd to guide them.  They know the way.

Bob and Chris encountered this mother and kid heading home after a day out.  Bob said the kid whined the whole time he and Chris were behind them.  Makes you wonder if kids complain about the long trip home, or the heat of the day, or even the two creepy humans following them, just like our kids might. The goat mother bore it without comment.

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And speaking of kids, here is a scene from our last full day with Christopher before he headed back to his new home in San Francisco.  We took a cab up to Shirley Heights, right outside of English Harbour.  It’s a great place to watch the sunset, and every Sunday hundreds of people show up to do just that.

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With a view like this, you can see how popular it would be–

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–especially at sunset.

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Back to the day that Chris left– at the end of the day we drove out to the northeastern corner of the island to see something called “Devil’s Bridge.”  I had no idea what this might be, and so I was pretty awestruck to see this natural wonder.  It doesn’t look like it will last much longer, but that’s just conjecture on my part. Maybe it’s been in this almost crumbled state for a century already.  I know that people walk across this bridge, but I certainly wasn’t going to try it.  Bob didn’t either!

When we returned our rental car to a parking lot in Falmouth just around sunset, and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself to return to Pandora sans Christopher, we found that the local liquor store was having a tasting of French wines hosted by a French importer who lives on St. Martin.  It was a very nice distraction to an evening I was dreading!  All in all a wonderful last day on Antigua.

The next day we sailed about 50 miles to the pretty harbor of Deshaies on Guadeloupe.  Here is a bit of what we do when we have a long day at sea.  Bob fishes!  This time I was quite lucky that he caught a small tuna!  It’s no fun at all when he catches a king mackerel, and hardly fun when he catches a giant mahi mahi because we have to deal with a very large fish on a rather small boat!  This tuna was perfect for our appetites and our size boat!

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I worked on my orange linen sweater while we were underway, which sometimes includes winding a ball of yarn (Shibui linen) on the steering wheel.

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At mid-afternoon we arrived in Deshaies.  It was wonderful to be back in the land of French food.  There are plenty of tourists here, but also a big fleet of local fisherman.  The next morning we were given a first hand view of fishing with a purse seine right behind Pandora.

First the men dropped the net in a wide circle between Pandora and the boat behind us.  One of the crew jumped overboard wearing his shorts and t-shirt and snorkeling gear.  Perhaps he was checking on how the net was laying before the rest of the crew began drawing in the purse.  3-22-17b 006

As the crew began to draw in the circle of net at the water’s surface, the diver stayed at the opening.  We are guessing that by being there, he discourages any fish from trying to escape at the opening of the net.

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The crew began drawing in both the perimeter of the net on the surface as well as the purse at the bottom to trap the fish.  As the net closed more I could tell that this was very hard work. In fact, once both the top and bottom of the net was closed, the diver got back on board to help pull it in.

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There is a pelican inside the net, helping himself to a bit of the catch.

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It was a good catch! My friend Maureen (Kalunamoo) told me that these fish get fried in strips and served like French fries.  I have not seen this yet in any restaurants. But, when we were ashore yesterday, we came back to our dinghy to find several pelicans diving right around the dinghy dock and three dead fish in our dinghy, just like the fish in the net.  There must have been a school of them being chased by larger fish and some jumped right into our dingy to escape certain death from the big fish– only to find themselves stuck in our dinghy.  Out of the fire and into the frying pan, as the saying goes….

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Experienced cruisers in this area, including Bill and Maureen from Kalunamoo, have told us that once you get to Antigua the islands just get more and more beautiful as you head south.  It’s hard for me to imagine this!  Both Antigua and Guadeloupe are so charming and scenic and dramatic with their ancient volcanic mountains–how can it get better?  I guess I will have to wait and see.

Summer is for Workshops

Getting ready for my first summer workshop!  A trip to New Hampshire for a day of indigo dyeing.  Luckily no mordant is needed for indigo dyeing, but my yarns must be clean and free of sizing and dirt, so I gave them a good soak in Eucalan and hung them out to dry!

Harrisville Designs

I started the weekend with a trip to Harrisville Designs.  What a scenic spot!  The building further in the distance houses the retail shop and the workshop studios.  Other buildings house the spinning operation for the yarns and the woodworking shop for building the looms.

Harrisville Public Library

This was the first sweltering hot day of the summer, so it was lovely to be in a town so full of water.  The library sits just a short walk from the Harrisville Design buildings and is on a large body of water called Harrisville Pond.  Such still water here funnels into a stream that rushes past the mill buildings in the previous photo.

A delightful place to have lunch, overlooking the Harrisville Design buildings, the rushing stream and the distant mountains!  What an idyllic spot!

The dyeing workshop took place at Long Ridge Farm in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, owned by Nancy Zeller.  The studio is on the right and includes a beautiful balcony on the back where we had lunch in the canopy of the surrounding trees. The barn is on the left.

Nancy Zeller (center) instructs us on making an indigo vat

The next morning was the workshop at Long Ridge Farm in Westmoreland, New Hampshire.  Another idyllic spot, with beautiful views of mountains, gardens, and sheep!  Nancy Zeller owns this bit of heaven and runs various workshops from her studio and barn.  We started the day in the studio, pictured here, but moved outside when the going got messy, and then moved into the barn when a thunderstorm passed by!  Through out it all, Nancy remained calm and organized!  She is a terrific teacher!

Mixing the stock solution from powdered indigo from India.

The color change: blue on top where the stock has oxygen, and yellow/green beneath where there is no oxygen.

Ready to Dye!

After the addition of Thiourea Dioxide and Lye (both of which get mixed separately with water in their own container before being added to the vat) we checked the color of our new indigo vat.  Yellow/Green color along with a Ph between 9 and 10 meant we were ready to dye!

My friend Susan standing near the growing skeins of indigo dyed yarns.

Look at all our gorgeous skeins of blue!  My friend Susan joined me for this workshop and she brought lots of cotton skeins which turned purply blues.  My skeins of merino and mohair and mohair/merino blends turned various shades of French blue!  It was so exciting!

The Artist Loft B&B in Brattleboro

During the weekend my friend Susan and I stayed at the Artist Loft just over the border in Brattleboro, Vermont.  What a lovely spot.  The large picture window overlooks the Connecticut River and the scenic bridge that crosses it. (You can tell I did not take this photo since there was no snow during our visit.)

View from the Artist Loft

Our stay was enhanced by a bit off shopping in Brattleboro.  The fabric shop Delectable Mountain Cloth is a must!  It is full of beautiful textiles, and I believe they are all natural fibers.  The food in Brattleboro was also a high point of the weekend!  Dinner at Fireworks and breakfast at Elliot Street Cafe were both great. The ultimate dining experience occurred at Burdick’s Restaurant in Walpole, New Hampshire!  That is a destination in itself!

Back home with my newly dyed skeins drying in the birch tree.  It was a great workshop, and I highly recommend Nancy Zeller as an instructor!  Her farm is a wonderful destination and she is a thorough and organized teacher.  What a terrific 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!


Famous Knitter or just Famous?

Each year at some point in our Maine sailing adventures we go out to Allen Island, a lovely getaway for the well known Wyeth family where they have very nicely placed a few moorings for visiting boaters to enjoy.  Last year I was thrilled when Betsy Wyeth arrived at the island and waved to me from her launch.  But this year’s visit topped even that.  Betsy sat outside her house with a basket of knitting; I sat aboard Pandora with my knitting.  We each sat knitting and watching the other knitting.

Knitting with Betsy Wyeth!

So,  Where in the world were my Signature Arts knitting needles?  At Allen Island, a rather private place only accessible to those with means of traveling on the water, where they rubbed shoulders with Betsy Wyeth’s needles!

And, by the way, there are about 100 sheep on Allen Island….and it  is the spot where George Waymouth landed with his ship Archangel in 1605.

Betsy (on left) knitting

And that was the day I finished my “Garden Tank” by Deborah Newton.  Deborah’s designs are extremely attractive and wearable for many body shapes which makes her one of my favorite knitwear designers!

What I love about this design: the simple lace pattern that does not overwhelm the sweater, the flattering boat neck, the A-line ‘swing’ shape, the armhole shaping, the way the lace creates a scalloped edge at the hem!

In Interweave Knits the sweater was knitted with Manos del Uruguay “Serena” (60% alpaca, 40% cotton).  Now maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t alpaca one of the warmest fibers?  So even with the addition of 40% cotton, wouldn’t this be too warm for a summer tank top?  I decided to use raw silk, and since this yarn has virtually no elasticity I made the top with zero ease.  I’m very happy with the fit!

>April Showers


We are having more than showers today, and it seemed a good day to stay in, do some baking for the upcoming holiday weekend, and spin during the waiting times of rising and baking.

A good friend of mine gave me this wonderful roving over the weekend. I don’t know why I’m getting such lovely surprise presents this spring, but I’m enjoying all of them.

This roving is from Linda Lee, known as exclusivelylindalee on etsy. It’s cotton, and I have not spun cotton since a very futile attempt once as a new spinner! Since I could only spin worsted back in those early days I could not spin the cotton I’d bought. I think I got rid of it in a guild raffle. Fast forward about a decade, and I am having a wonderful time with this beautifully painted roving, which is called “Phoenix Garden” colorway.

Cotton spinning (1)My, that decade sure flew by quickly! I have visions of a woven project with this yarn….just have to find appropriate warp, as I’d like to leave this yarn a singles so I don’t have to plan the color sequence in plying.cotton spinning 002

>‘Arwen Cardi’ gone awry, run amok….


I’m not going to talk about the ‘Arwen Cardi’ just yet…. First I want to talk about positive things!

My husband (Bob) and I just spent four days in Portland, Maine, which was a first for both of us. What a pretty city! We both thoroughly loved the Art Museum, and Bob enjoyed the Maine Boat Builders’ Show while I happily visited three yarn shops and a weaving shop! What a wonderful surprise for me to find that Tess’ Yarn has moved into a retail space in Portland. I was actually alone with owner and mother of Tess, Melinda, in the shop on Saturday afternoon after years of not being able to get anywhere near her wares in her booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! And what did I do with that whole shop to myself??? I freaked….I completely shut down and could not choose a color. There was no way I was leaving that shop empty handed though, so I finally chose three skeins of neutral colored yarn as well as a pattern.portland shopping 3.09 007 In spite of my resolution not to buy any yarn or fiber this year, I felt I was contributing in the smallest way to keeping these wonderful local yarn shops in business by purchasing just a bit of yarn and some patterns and needles. Am I not a master of justification?

At Knitting Central I bought sock yarn, needles and a pattern for a moebius (“Omega Wrap” by Christina Bylsma). I actually left on this trip without a knitting project! I had just finished the most recent Swallowtail and the Arwen Cardi (more on that shortly) so I actually didn’t have anything quite handy, although I do have more UFOs than I can count in one lifetime…portland shopping 3.09 005

I am already beginning the toe decreases on this sock, and it feels like this sock materialized out of thin air because I did all the knitting during times when I don’t normally knit! I started it while walking around the Boat Builders’ Show. I continued while having coffee in a coffee shop, and I continued through the whole ride home on Sunday. I wasn’t as fast as when I’m not walking around, but I still accomplished most of a sock during times when I normally do nothing at all!

At KnitWits I bought two skeins of sock yarn: Regia’s Design Line Kaffe Fassett in color 4454 and Louet’s ‘Gems’ in eggplant. I will use these yarns to make the cover socks from The Eclectic Sole by Jane Laidman.Eclectic Sole portland shopping 3.09 006

I also bought two skeins of Louet sport weight linen in a lovely green that will someday become a shawl, probably the Icarus shawl by Miriam Felton.

Well, now I’ve shared all that good news, and I should begin to talk about my Arwen Cardi debacle. But I’m out of time! Until next time, suffice it to say that I wanted to wear it in Portland so I stayed up well after midnight into the wee hours of the day of departure to finish the collar I had designed and sew on the zipper. A quick trip to the large bathroom mirror at 2 am gave me a horrible shock! I need to photograph the Arwen nightmare in order for anyone to fully comprehend the problem, so I’ll do that shortly and report back!

>Fallen Woman

>I’m a fallen woman! I only made it 6 weeks before falling prey to a yarn purchase!

What would you do in my situation? I read on my tapestry list that Weaving Southwest was discontinuing its fine singles tapestry yarn. ….never to be had again. Oh, I wish I could post the colors I ordered, with luscious names like Chokecherry, Ganado, Red Willow, Caramel, Pinon and Spruce. I can’t wait to open that box!

And I have to say this has been a particularly hard 6 weeks. I’ve spent too much time trying to think of ways I could get yarn without actually buying it! I asked my husband to buy me yarn for Valentine’s day (he said, “why don’t we just go out to dinner instead.”). I offered to send my sister money and a list of yarns I wanted. I’ve been getting more and more uptight as the weeks go by. Deep down I knew I’d never last a whole year… truthfully, I don’t feel that guilty!

I worked on Rob’s hand at Soyoo’s today. Finally all the ‘dotty’ shapes turned into a hand! I like it! Here are two of Soyoo’s rules: when shading within a shape (in this case, Rob’s hand) always include most of the colors from the previous colorway. And to unify a piece use one color throughout. In this case the bright and deep golds of the background will be used anywhere there is light to give a sense of the wonderful golden light of sunset falling on everything.

A little project making a temari ball. I made a few more than 25 years ago (where does the time go?), but decided to join a group of friends to make a few more. Our time together is a great learning session, because we are following a plan, starting with the first exercise in the Diana Vandervoort book and working through the different techniques in order.