Tag Archives: knitting

In the Depths of Winter

Recently one of my oldest friends starting seeing a life coach. In one of the sessions the coach asked if she’d rather work or go on vacation. My friend answered that she’d rather work! She is a sculptor and painter. When I gave this a mere moment of thought, I realized I would answer the same. So, here I am in the depths of winter, living on a boat while visiting numerous Caribbean islands, and what I want to do everyday is work!

I have more projects onboard than I can possibly finish in the 3+ months I’ll be down here, but each year when I promise myself I’ll only bring what I can actually accomplish, I break that promise. This year is no exception. Somehow I want to finish one tapestry and start and finish a second one, quite small, but still. I brought 8 oz of merino/silk to spin (so far the only finished project!); three sweaters, two to continue and one to make from start to finish (half done with that one); two embroideries, and a basket to start (and finish, of course). I couldn’t complete these projects at home in three months, even if I worked 12 hours a day! But it’s hard to choose what to bring. And don’t you know, even with all I brought, I pine for the things I didn’t bring!

One day recently, when I was recuperating from the seasick meds I take, I lay on one of our settees watching a couple of hours of youtube videos on various techniques in bobbin lace. I know I cannot do bobbin lace on this boat–but that doesn’t mean I can’t wish I had a pillow here to try.

This year, since we have starlink to stay in contact, I have also started a tapestry study group with six of my students from previous live classes. Setting up the scene for doing these zoom meetings is a little more challenging on a boat than at it is at home.

It’s a feat of Rube Goldberg-ness. I have my computer on our dining table, sitting on both a cutting board and a box in order to get it at the right height to see more than the top of my head. My tapestry in progress, which has some bamboo skewers inserted in an empty space in order do demonstrations of techniques, if needed, is sitting on a table top easel on top of an ottoman. In this photo I haven’t yet set up the cable to my mobile phone on a reticulating arm that faces the tapestry as a 2nd camera for when I might need to do demos. Bob had a big hand in gathering all these random props to get things just the way I needed.

Tomorrow is our second session. I am now in a less protected anchorage, and we are rolling sideways quite dramatically. I will try to set up in the cockpit so I don’t get seasick down below. Meanwhile I am a little worried that the students may not feel good themselves watching the horizon roll side to side behind me. Fingers crossed….

Spinning onboard is the easiest activity. I can look out at the horizon and keep myself oriented. I’m using an EEW Nano 2 from Dreaming Robots. It’s hard to believe that something so tiny and lightweight could work so well, and it doesn’t slide around as I draft out the fibers.

I did a poor job winding on my first bobbin. I forgot that I need move the hooks often when I’m spinning without a Woolee Winder which does the winding automatically. My next three bobbins got a lot better!

And those three sweaters onboard… I’d like to finish one of them! The two that were in progress when I put the materials onboard are a design by Martin Storey, which is a summer loose wrap type sweater made with two yarns held together–one linen and one cotton–called “Skylark.”

The other is a Kate Davies design called “Auchnaha,” also a loose wrap type sweater.

It would be wonderful to finish one of these to wear in spring when I return home to New England. On the other hand, it would also be great to wear this vest which I started onboard with my advent yarn from Kate Davies. Can you see the faint ‘shadow’ work in this? This is the left front/back, so I’m half finished with the vest, which is closer to completion than the other two sweaters. The right side of this vest has entirely different colors in it. What you see on the left side of this photo is not the armhole. It’s the neck opening with the collar already knitted into it. It’s a clever design, inspired by a design from one of the most clever knitters–Vivan Hoxbro.

Recently I returned to embroidery, which I haven’t touched in years. When conditions are calm I can do close work. This is a kit from Melbury Hill in the UK. Years ago when I bought this kit I could have chosen any of their designs, which are all Arts and Crafts inspired. I guess I settled on bluebells because I got to see a ‘bluebell wood’ the last time I visited England to see my friend Lesley. A truly amazing sight! I may finish the flowers today. Then I’ll have another completed project under my belt.

As I write this Bob is ashore checking Pandora in to Dominica. We spent almost a week in Deshaies, Guadeloupe, after about 3 weeks in Antigua, in English Harbour, Falmouth, and Jolly Harbour. I miss the calm harbors of Antigua. No wonder the English were so successful there. Calm harbors with great defenses against attackers. I’ve been onboard exactly a month today.

I have done a few things in the category of sightseeing, but since this is our 7th winter down here, I don’t feel compelled to revisit everything. We see rainbows multiple times a day, and Bob records all of them with his camera. We spent a delightful day at the botanical gardens in Deshaies, Guadeloupe. This year I only took photos of birds and fish. I took the bird photos for my friend who has had a Nandico parrot for more than 30 years. If we rent a car while here in Dominica, we will visit the Kalinago community, and I will enjoy seeing their stunning baskets. Hopefully I’ll bring a few home to give to my basket making friends. There is a lot to do here, in the depths of winter, but I’d always rather be making something with my hands most days. I’d rather work!

Janus

Ready or not, it’s 2024. I romped through the fall like a woman with her hair on fire, and I did manage to complete the loom woven projects I was determined to finish. I never managed to touch a tapestry loom. I’m not one who likes to look back and list all the things I didn’t accomplish, but every year I work hard not to do that. Here are some images of what I did finish! And I am celebrating!

For most of the fall I was in a class with Fran Curran to design a project entirely in linen. While thinking about napkins or curtains, or even just kitchen towels I remembered that I’ve wanted to weave some bread bags for a couple of years. Here was the opportunity, which I wrote about in my last post!

I love using these for my sourdough bread loaves.

Since I wove my project at home rather than at the Weaving Center where Fran’s class took place, I finished before the class was half done. So I started another linen project, which is also in my last post. This is a wonderful design called “Meta Weave” by Lisa Hill, which you can purchase her Etsy site. I don’t know any weavers who don’t love a design that looks like weaving within weaving! Her instructions are for kitchen towels, but I decided to make 6 napkins in sets of two colors each. I used blue that you can see above, before switching to red, then green, and I managed to get a 7th napkin in yellow. I also found that I preferred the underside of the design.

Five yards and seven napkins!

Okay! Enough of that. It’s been a long time since I’ve woven a project so quickly. It was amazing to zip through this project, especially after the drawn out experience of weaving the paper placemats that required dyeing twice and unweaving two placemats after they were cut from the loom in order to get back some of the paper weft in order to dye it! That was almost the limit of my patience, but not the limit of my stubbornness, which may actually know no limits!

Then, in mid-November, a good friend gave me a table loom dressed with a sakiori project, also known as ‘rag’ weave. She gave me the loom because she thought I might be able to shoe-horn it onto Pandora. It’s a special loom. It belonged to the oldest current member (96!) of our state guild, whose father made several of these looms for her mother. Sue, our member, had dressed this particular loom with a loosely sleyed cotton warp which she intended to weave with 1/2″ strips of quilting cotton. The loom came with a large stash of cut cotton strips. I didn’t know how long the warp was, but I didn’t want to just cut it off. In fact, I didn’t want to lose all those cotton strips she had cut either. So I felt incredible time pressure to weave it off. And it was enjoyable, especially after I learned the interesting quirks of this little loom. When the levers are up the shafts are at rest. When I depressed the levers the shafts raised. It’s the opposite of any table loom I’ve ever used, and it took me some time to get used to that. In the long run the warp was enough for 3 runners, each about 20″ long by 10″ wide.

I gave away two of the runners, one to the woman who passed the loom to me, and the other to a friend whom I learned had helped Sue dress the loom and cut all the fabric strips. Sometimes things work out just as they should. I have my small runner aboard Pandora now. And how serendipitous it is that the color of the weft cotton strips goes quite well with our onboard decor. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Then, lo and behold, I had the intense desire to weave another sakiori design with my own fabric. Now it was truly approaching time to gather our family for Christmas and get packed to depart. I found some wonderful Christmas-y fabric at a fabric thrift shop while traveling with a friend to see an exhibition in Vermont (Salley Mavor). I wasn’t sure it would be enough, and fate led me to find it on Etsy. Also, it was a stroke of luck that my husband offered to cut the strips! Three yards of 1/2″ strips was no easy feat.

I loved every minute of the weaving. It flew by like skating on smooth ice.

It also worked well with a few of my Christmas runners. Win! Win!

We had a simple Christmas with our younger son and a local family and some of their adult children. Holidays have certainly morphed in new directions since our kids have grown and grandchildren have joined the family, sadly not nearby. It was suddenly time to take down our few Christmas decorations and get packed for the flight to Antigua where Pandora was waiting. That deadline threw me into thinking about what I’d accomplished in three months of weaving, and a temptation to look at the things I didn’t accomplish.

That’s when I thought of Janus and the new year. He is the Roman god of beginnings, hence his placement as the first month of the year. He is depicted as two-headed, each of his two faces looking the opposite direction. This is my Achilles heel (sorry for analogy, but it fits so well). I want to take stock and see my accomplishments measure up to my aspirations. But since they never do….what weaver ever finishes all the projects she plans?….it’s not necessarily healthy to go down this path.

My younger son uses an app called “Notion” in his start up business. I am now trying to learn it because I think it will change my attitude about taking stock. It’s an app for tracking projects and goals, mostly for businesses, but I think it could help me realize that I get a great deal done every year. I’m struggling with the app a bit, but in the long run I think it’s going to be a positive thing– a wonderful way of keeping track of all my aspirations, my progresses, and my accomplishments. Every year there are projects I lose track of, and can’t find, in my over-stuffed work space. This app will remind me of things I started and eventually forgot. If I can just learn the nuances of this application I think I will be thankful to use it. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, it’s the new year, I am now onboard living a very different kind of lifestyle, with scenes like these…

This is the giant mango tree in English Harbour, where people usually meet because it’s such an iconic place to gather.

I have started two knitting projects. The first is a shawl, which typical of me, has already been set aside due to more tempting projects! The yarn is what makes this project a zinger. It is handpainted with long runs of the background color and short spurts of the contrasting colors. The pattern calls for knitting the background color in stockinette, then when you see the contrasting colors approaching the needles, you make a little motif by putting five yarn overs on the next three stitches. On the next row you let the yarn overs drop and take the working yarn to wrap those long stitches, creating a little ‘star’ or ‘butterfly.’ I decided to make an asymmetrical shawl shape with a small Shetland lace border called “iron brand” on one side to continue the asymmetrical effect. I was thoroughly enjoying it until bigger thing stole my attention!

The project that took me away from this shawl was an advent calendar of yarn from Kate Davies Designs in Scotland. She has a yarn called “Milarrochy” that is a single ply, 70% wool, 30% mohair blend. I have used it to make her “Con Alma” vest a couple of years ago. The mohair blooms nicely when wet finished. Well, imagine my excitement when she announced that she’d made up boxes that held 24 small balls of “Milarocchy” for an advent calendar! I could not resist. So fun. The box arrived in early November, and it was hard to wait until December 1, but I did it. Here is a photo of the most exciting day for me. On the last day, the little bundle also held a card with a link to an e-book full of patterns for using this yarn.

Drumroll! I love that last color, a perfect Christmas red.

After a good deal of thought, and a fair amount of arranging the yarns into colorways I might knit, I decided to make a vest using Vivian Hoxbro’s ideas for shadow knitting. I am enjoying the process.

I was quite challenged at first because the only needle I had in the appropriate size was only 24″ long. My idea was to knit sideways, a left side front and back, then a right side front and back which would give me vertical stripes with shadows. That’s why I have the yarns gathered in two sections. The right and left sides of the vest will not match. What a struggle to knit that long run of stitches on a 24″ needle!

I was thrilled to discover not just one but two (!) #3 US circular needles that are 40″ long that I’d already stashed on Pandora earlier in the fall. The knitting is so much easier now. Can you see the shadow effect moving diagonally across the knitting? I am almost done with first left side front/back and am looking forward to starting the 2nd colorway for the right side of the vest.

So, here we all are at the open gate of the new year. Let’s all concentrate on looking forward, shall we? Not only about ourselves and our work, but also everything, from family, to community, to global issues. Let’s make this a banner year in as many ways as possible. That’s my wish for all of us.

Projects Big and Small

It’s now October. I continue to procrastinate on that tablecloth on my Big AVL. I don’t quite know what’s wrong with me because I was on fire to get it on the loom. I was 7/8’s done with the threading in August, and now it’s October and it hasn’t been touched in more than a month. Maybe I’m worried that after all this work it won’t weave well. Yep, definitely worried about that.

On a better subject, I have been weaving my linen project for the class with Fran Curran. I’m more than half done with the 2nd bread bag, and I’ve started the braid for the drawstring. Here is the first design, showing the hemstitching which will be the casing for the drawstring. I designed a diamond with warp-only floats so the blue warp would show up strongly on the surface of the huck lace.

The 2nd bread bag has warp and weft floats. It will be interesting to me to see how they differ after I wash the fabric.

Of the two sweaters I found that I’d like to a) alter, and b) finish, I have started on the blue cabled sweater that was designed by Elsbeth Lavold. I am adding a gusset to each underarm that will continue down the side seam, which I have opened, to create an A-line silhouette. I’m not happy with how the gusset looks. It’s messy. I’ve started over again and am still not happy. Part of me thinks, well, it’s the underarm, so it will rarely show. But…. I know it’s messy! This nagging disappointment keeps me from working on it. It’s not worth a photo at this point.

I tried a tiny bit of Japanese Hogin embroidery and loved it. The fabric I had on hand was finer than what was called for, and I felt I was going blind trying to do these tiny stitches. I love the technique, which is counted running stitches that create simple designs that can become quite complicated in appearance when they are done on a larger scale. I saw so many tiny bits of textile mounted in wooden frames while I was Japan. I bought a tiny temari pin cushion at the Cohana store in Tokyo. There are wonderful sashiko pin cushions mounted in wooden bowls, and there are embroidered brooches mounted in wooden frames to be worn. I was smitten with those. I found someone on Etsy (Artbase) making some pretty brooch frames in cherry.

I’ve already ordered a larger brooch frame for my next embroidery, and I’ve visited my not-so-local needlework shop to buy a slightly coarser woven linen. The one above was embroidered on 32-count linen. Next time I’ll try 28-count. I enjoy doing this!

My next project, which feels both big and small, is cleaning and re-framing a beautiful crewelwork embroidery made by my oldest friend, back in 1981. This gem of a piece is over 40 years old now. It got lost for several years when we made our last move, so when I finally found it in a box in the attic, wrapped in tissue and packing paper, it had suffered some. I don’t know if these brown blotches are mildew, but I hope I can get them out. I am using Orvus paste, recommended by the women at Thistle Needleworks, my not-so-local shop. I was anxious removing this gem from its frame. It’s heartbreaking to see the stains on the fabric.

It looks like the framer used double stick tape to stretch the fabric on the backing. I hope to sew it in place when I re-frame it.

I took out about 50 staples on the sides. I hope I can make this as beautiful as it originally was. Then I’ll feel like a pro and I’ll tackle some other things from my stash.

My new tapestry students are doing a great job. Every class seems to show me new ways that a class can have a group personality and an interesting trajectory. This class is moving quickly, so I think they’ll be doing some of their own designs soon, when we are barely at the half-way point of the semester. I love seeing the colors that students choose. It’s always a visual feast to see all these colors become something real. Students keep me endlessly excited!

I hope I get most of my big and small projects done. There is energy in the air. I just need to harness it!

Rabbit Holes are Really Just Procrastination

For the past several weeks I’ve been deep into some interesting rabbit holes. There are so many compelling things to learn, tips to explore, and amazing images to see. That means I have not touched my tablecloth warp in three weeks. I do feel a little guilty. I am at the point of threading the final border, and it’s the hard part, considering whatever I thought I was doing 12 years ago that I now cannot remember or understand. I will tackle that final area of threading soon, but in the meantime I’m enjoying my rabbit holes.

I went looking for a stranded sweater pattern that I started quite a few years ago. I did not find find it on the first or second go-round, but it finally turned up late last week when I was looking for something else. Isn’t that always the best way to find something? A few months ago I came across this sweater and decided I ‘needed’ to finish it. That’s when I learned I don’t seem to have the pattern! I searched through my Ravelry library, my emails, and even through the printed patterns I’ve collected in two huge notebooks. No luck.

Do you see why I want to finish this? The yarn is a Finnish brand called “Kauni Effect.” I am using two different colorways. One is called ‘rainbow’ and the other is something like ‘autumn.’ Sorry I’m not sure of the second colorway. I’m knitting with one yarn as color A and the other as color B, and the yarn does all the work to create this amazing, glowing, beautiful effect! I know, I’m gushing.

I could not figure out what happened to the pattern. I posted a photo on Facebook, and many people began responding to help me retrieve the pattern. After more than a hundred responses I began to remember a few things about this design. The sweater pattern was designed by Ruth Sorenson, but the stitch pattern was from Dale of Norway. Someone whose name I don’t know put the two together to create this stunning sweater. It was easy to find the stitch pattern on Ravelry. It’s in quite a few people’s stitch libraries…but the sweater is no longer available, and for some reason I have lost it.

When I started googling various ways to get in touch with Ruth Sorenson or to see all of her designs, one of the top hits in my search was my own blog. Seriously? It turns out I wrote about my plans for this sweater here. That was March of 2014. That sweater has been laying in a canvas bin in my wall unit for almost 10 years. Yikes!

One of the 100+ people who responded with help on Facebook contacted Ruth Sorenson and got permission to share the pattern with others. She sent it to me, and by now I’m sure others have it too. Thank you, Ruth! Between the sweater directions and my own notes I plan to get cracking on this sweater again. I won’t be wearing it this fall, but hopefully in fall of ’24.

In the sweater department, there is also this: “Hild” by Elsbeth Lavold, from her Desinger’s Choice, Book 9. I made this years ago and have worn it a few times. It no longer fits, but I still love it. Last week I un-sewed the side seams and am adding gusset to each side. I hope that gives it enough flair for me to enjoy wearing it again.

The sweater bug has definitely bitten me. I haven’t been knitting much over the past several years, but clearly I’m back in knitting mode now.

I’ve started a class with Fran Curran at the Weaving Center of Hartford Artisans. She is leading us in designing a project using linen. We had a short presentation on designing huck lace by Jill Staublitz, and I decided that would be the weave structure I’d use for my project. I’ve woven a lot of linen projects over the years, and a lot of huck lace too. It was hard to decide what my project would be since I have plenty of napkins, placemats, even a couple of linen tote bags with huck lace. Then one evening I remembered that I’ve wanted to make bread bags for a couple of years now, ever since Handwoven Magazine featured a linen bread bag pattern. I fear my bread bag may be a bit over-designed, but I will have fun with it.

I will have a center diamond motif on the bag fabric, surrounded by plain weave stripes and a mix of natural and half bleached linen for the background fabric. The stripe colors are in the photo of the sweater above. They happened to be laying on the counter in my studio where I took the photo. I wanted the huck diamond look particularly blue, so I’ve made sure the huck floats are in the warp, which will be blue in that section. I’m looking forward to this!

Lastly, I have started teaching another 9-week tapestry class, also at Hartford Artisans. I’m intrigued by this new batch of students and hope they will enjoy tapestry weaving enough to continue to pursue it.

My son Chris calls this kind of distracting activity “bike shedding.” He says this phrase came about when a group of engineers were ‘stumped’ on a building design. They decided to design a bike shed for the building before working on the building itself. Who knows if this is true, but it seems to be something I’m rather good at…bike shedding, procrastinating, and going down rabbit holes. I could do worse!

Scenes

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks in this part of the Caribbean, with lots of wind and lots of rocking and rolling. I have not been able to weave or knit, and sometimes not even able to read! Luckily I have a long queue of audio books that I often neglect. I was able to close my eyes and listen to a relatively new book, Stolen, recently published in English. It’s written by Swedish author Ann-Helen Staestadius and translated into English by Rachel Wilson Broyles. When I went to find the link I saw that it will soon be a Netflix film. It was good on a number of levels and it helped me pass the time. I am not a patient person when it comes to waiting out bad weather in order to get some work done! Basically, I am not patient when waiting for anything! It’s odd because whenever I demonstrate any kind of fiber work, people always say that they’d never have the patience to do any of that. Well, there are plenty of things I have no patience for doing! Waiting is just one of them!

My mood has gotten darker as each day passed with no way to work on any of the projects I brought onboard this year. Poor Bob. For two days, in Ste. Pierre, the rolling was so violent that we had to lock our cabinets and drawers so that the things inside, bashing against the cabinets doors in one direction, then bashing against the hull, and back again, would not come flying out of the cabinets. We’ve had that happen on passage in the past. One of our drawers once came flying out of its cabinet in the galley, sending forks and spoons and knives flying. We had not noticed that drawer when locking down everything before a passage. These are things we prepare for when we are sailing. This is the first time we’ve had to batten down our cabinets while at anchor.

But, on the bright side, we’ve had some beautiful sunsets. In the Caribbean it’s a tradition to blow your conch shell right after the sun falls below the horizon. Don’t have one? That’s a priority when you spend time in this part of the world. Bob got his during our first winter in the Bahamas. It’s nice tenor conch. Smaller conchs have higher pitches; bigger conchs have a lower pitch.

Since color on different monitors is so varied, I wonder if the green flash will look green on other devices than my own! I hope some of you will weigh in on what you see.

Back in Dominica, we took a tour of parts of the island with our friends from sailing vessels Kalunamoo and Roxy. It was an interesting day. I have always enjoyed taking photos of loved ones taking photos, as you may have noticed over the years. Here is Lynn from Roxy taking a photo in the foreground, as I took the same photo. Maureen and Bill from Kalunamoo are in the front, followed by Bob and Mark (from Roxy.) We’ve been cruising friends for more than a decade at this point.

This is the coast line we visited on the Atlantic side of Dominica.

The hard, smooth coastline here is hardened clay.

There is a rather interesting stairway carved into the rock. I can’t imagine it’s natural, but what do I know? Not much! Mark could not resist climbing down these steps. I was holding my breath too tightly to take a photo, and he got back up safely.

After Dominica we sailed to Ste. Pierre, and somehow managed to spend two nights there, which is where we had the worst rolling we’ve ever experienced. We decided to escape to Fort de France for the beginning of Carnival, but the anchorage was too crowded for us, and it was pretty roll-y there as well. We tried to anchor six times, and in the process bent our stainless steel spade anchor. That will cost a pretty penny to replace, and until we get to Le Marin to do that we have to be pretty careful about anchoring. So, we headed across the bay to Trois Islet. It’s been windy, but the three islands and shallow waters have lowered the waves to a chop. This is the village of Trois Islet–quite charming. This is the Saturday open air market in village square.

When Bob writes his next post there will be some stunning photos of the Martinique Yolo regatta which took place here in Trois Islet, as well as great photos of Carnival in Fort de France. We took the ferry there for Sunday’s festivities. Today is the last day of Carnival, but I’m happy to stay aboard. Our friends from Kalunamoo and Roxy have gone to see the last day’s parade.

And on Pandora, small things are happening. Our little unidentified succulent plant is making babies on the edges of its leaves. Can you see them on one of the inner leaves, to the right of center? Quite fascinating!

And here is my almost non-existent progress on my “Amphora” sweater from Purl Soho. It’s only grown about 3″ in length on the body, below the sleeve stitches that are waiting on spare needles. Slow and steady….can you see the swirls that create the increasing shape of the yoke? That’s what drew me to knit this design! You might have to ‘bigify’ this image to see the swirls.

When we get to Ste. Anne, the harbor should be reliably calm. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, we may stop at Anse d’Arlet for a night or two. I hope it will be calmer than where we’ve been the past two weeks.

News from home: the wonderful volunteers in TWiNE (Tapestry Weavers in New England) have been hard at work toward an exhibition of members’ works that will open on April 1, the day I fly home. I hope to get there shortly after the opening! If you’re in the area around Leverett, Massachusetts, I hope you will visit this exhibit.

So…although there hasn’t been a lot work accomplished here over the past weeks, there have been quite a few good scenes. Hopefully there can both from now on into March.

Working Remotely in Remote Places

A couple of weeks ago Rebecca Mezoff’s email newsletter mentioned that since she traditionally works at home, when she works ‘remotely’ it means that she has traveled somewhere. It’s the first time that I realized I work remotely every winter. Many people think Bob and I are on vacation when he sails south for the winter, but it’s really our ‘other’ home. We live our every day lives, full of chores and responsibilities, from our 2nd home, which happens to float. I always bring ‘work’ with me, and am often disappointed that I’m missing some vital color for a tapestry, or a particular size of knitting needle, or some other item that derails for my plans for work. At my first home I can quickly go online and replace almost anything I’m missing within days. That is never the case here. This is a view from Shirley Fort overlooking Portsmouth Harbor. Pandora is out there!

We are in Dominica now, and have been moored in Portsmouth for the past four days. Bob’s sailing group has arranged for an impressive number of outings on this island, known as ‘the nature island.’ Most of Dominica is rain forest. Most of the hikes here involve hiring a guide. Perhaps the most intensive hike on this island is called the ‘hike to the boiling lakes.’ This hike, which I have not done and Bob regrets not doing, takes people to the edge of the volcanic caldera where the sulfur lakes are literally boiling. It’s not easy getting up to those heights, and this week’s trip was particularly hard for the hikers because it rained most of each day in heavy downpours, which made the paths and rocks quite slippery in addition to being quite steep. The hikers walked along the steep rock walls of three caldera that looked down into the boiling lakes.

From Wikipedia: The Boiling Lake is a flooded fumarole located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a World Heritage Site on the island of Dominica. The lake, located 6.5 miles (10.5 km) east of Dominica’s capital Roseau, is filled with bubbling greyish-blue water that is usually enveloped in a cloud of vapour. The Boiling Lake is approximately 200 to 250 feet (60 to 75 m) across and is the second-largest hot lake in the world after Frying Pan Lake, located in Waimangu Valley near RotoruaNew Zealand.

In the rainforest people clear small plots to grow all kinds of veg and fruit, and the rest of the West Indies is indebted to Dominica when the supply boat arrives in the other islands carrying produce grown here. They even grown coffee here in the higher elevations. The melons and bananas are unbelievable! I’d forgotten what non-GMO avocados taste like, and these bring back memories of the first avocados I ever tried, as a teenager, years before Haas avocados had been developed. I’m a big fan of the real ones now. And, as it happens, there are numerous varieties of avocados. We’re about to try some that are quite tiny. The one thing I cannot find–and don’t even seem to know how to ask for–is cilantro! There is an herb grown on some of the islands called “chadon beni” that’s pronounced more like “shadow benny.” It does not look anything like cilantro, but it tastes like it! It roots easily, so I was able to grow my own the only year I found some to buy.

I know that some cultures call cilantro ‘coriander,’ which is what I call the seeds of the cilantro plants. At the local Saturday market here in Portsmouth, I tried asking for cilantro, coriander, and ‘shadow benny,’ but I got no hits. I even had an image of chadon beni open on my phone for clarification. The only response I got was an offer of some flat leafed parsley! Oh well. I can’t make the guacamole of my dreams, but I am enjoying eating avocados in other ways, including the way I first ate them in junior high school, with canned tuna salad stuffed into the place where the pit was removed in the big avocados! And when you root one of these avocado plants you will get fruit on your tree, unlike Haas, which are sterile. I am making do quite well with a healthy, rooted Caribbean version of basil which is growing like it’s on steroids.

The Saturday Market in Portsmouth, Dominica

The entire Caribbean is a colorful world, as Bob captured in the fishing fleet on the dock.

At the moment I am licking my emotional wounds that I have a major set back on my Caribbean ‘postcard’ tapestry. I don’t have any white or cream weft yarn to weave the iconic church in Deshaies, Guadeloupe. I have other options, you know, necessity being the mother of all mislaid plans. I can weave a different scene from Guadeloupe to eliminate this church entirely. I’m feeling a bit negative about that since drawing the rough cartoon was quite an effort for me, with no option to resize some of my images with a printer, or even stopping into a Staples store for help. In the end I have four pieces of paper glued together to create my cartoon, and it has angel fish and turtles swimming around the postcard of the church. I just continue ‘to sleep on’ the idea of tossing out this idea.

So I’ve turned to my current sweater in progress, a design by Ainur Berkimbayeva for Purl Soho called “Amphora Pullover.” It is a top/down sweater with fun increases through the neck and shoulders that create swirls. Quite attractive on the model! Now that I have put the sleeve stitches on holders and am about to continue on the body only, I am going to test some ideas of continuing some of the swirls to create a swing style body. I can never just knit a design as instructed. Patterns are jumping off places for adding our creativity to a garment! I hope my idea works.

The “Amphora Pullover” by Ainur Berkimbeyeva for Purl Soho.

Looks like I have an opportunity to start my own small business here in Dominica!

During the past week I have been challenged by an exceptional idea that is currently keeping me awake at night, with all kinds of possibilities running wild through my mind. If you don’t know me, you may not know that I have recently begun teaching tapestry at a non-profit organization in Connecticut that is near and dear to my heart. The organization is Hartford Artisans, and their mission statement is what captured my attention: The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center is committed to being a welcoming, accessible community that actively works to create a kinder and more equitable world for everyone. Our diverse community unites people from different backgrounds and experiences to learn from each other and uncover their own unique skills. We challenge assumptions about disabilities and aging and show that everyone deserves an opportunity for creative expression. We recognize we have a responsibility not only to open our doors wider, but also to understand and work to change the racial and gender inequities that hurt us all. 

The director of this organization recently got a letter from a blind weaver in the Southwest, asking if there were any audio sources for learning to weave tapestry. I have done a preliminary search and found nothing. Yet there is one weaver out there who wants to do this. There is, or was, a weaver at the Artisan Center who wove a tapestry that hangs on display in the hallway. I don’t know whether that weaver is still with the Center, but if so, I’d like to her/him. The piece is more texturally interesting and is not based on imagery. It has striking merits. As we all know, there is no one way to describe or view tapestry, and no one correct way to achieve an idea. While I was thinking through ideas, Bob googled textured tape to see if there is a tape that has bumps or some kind of measurement device done in texture rather than in visual marks. By Jove! There is! I thought about how to describe the process of making an Archie Brennan copper pipe loom without any visuals, how to describe the seine twine I’d recommend for the first few warps, and at some point, how to describe various techniques. I thought about describing the warping process in words only. Are you now thinking too? If so, I hope you’ll get in touch. Creativity should be accessible to all people, and it falls to some of us to make this happen. In the meantime, I’m going to proceed, hopefully talking to some of the visually impaired artisans about what kind of instructions make the most sense to them. I am hopeful.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my ‘real’ home, my first home, where I can be more connected and less remote! I’m halfway there: six weeks to go! And it will be almost time to garden again.

species cosmos in bloom against a wall in Portsmouth, Dominica

Weights and Measures Onboard

Here is my working space onboard. In yacht parlance it’s called the main saloon (I have always pronounced that ‘salon’), and it is the main living space down below on Pandora. It is connected to a small galley, and there is an aft cabin toward the stern, and a ‘main stateroom’ forward of this room. That’s a glamorous phrase for where we sleep. It doesn’t seem ‘stately’ at all.! I am very good at making a huge mess of our limited living space. We had a couple of days of calm conditions in Deshaies, and I took good advantage of it to finish the first part of this tapestry that I started in May of 2020–more than 2 1/2 years ago. My heart has not been in it, perhaps because of some bad memories of that year. The odd thing is, when I sit down and work on it, I enjoy it. Go figure.

Now I am ready to slide the woven section partially around to the back of the loom in order to keep weaving. I hope to do that today, when I finish this post. The conditions in Les Saintes are not nearly as calm as they were in Deshaies, and that is why I have not gotten back to work on this piece. I’ve been lucky to knit, which was only once. Otherwise, I’m just trying to keep my balance onboard!

Weights and measures have factored rather significantly over the past few weeks. First I attempted to weight the merino/silk top I was spinning because I wanted to have an equal amount of singles spun on each bobbin in order to have equal amounts to ply together into finished yarn. Have you ever tried to weight something on a boat? The gentle, and not so gentle, up and down movements on a boat raises havoc with a scale. On the scale the read out for my merino/silk to cycled up and down by about 10 grams. I usually just try to pick the number in the middle. When baking a cake it’s far more important to get it right! Here was my guess for baking a quiche. It was not perfect, but we certainly thought it was good.

I also wanted to measure the length of that newly spun and plied yarn. Luckily Bob found PVC pipe at a hardware store just outside Falmouth, Antigua, and he made one that has a central arm of 18″. The yarn winds four times around that central core, for a total of 2 yards per single go ’round. I was able to measure that my merino/silk skein is 840 yards, plus or minus probably 10%. I can’t measure this accurately until I get home. Winding on a niddy noddy, or anything else, depends on the tension you use to wind. Too tight, and you’ve got quite a bit less yardage than you think. It’s hard to wind too loosely because of the nature of this repeated action. In general, we all tend to get tighter and tighter even when we are trying to avoid that. I took my time and tried to ‘stay loose.’ We’ll see.

This niddy noddy absolutely will not come apart, even though it is not glued. I wonder if that is due to the heat and humidity of the tropics. I padded one of the arms with a folded napkin, hoping that would give me some ‘wiggle room’ to get the yarn off when I finished winding. It worked.

We’ve been in Les Saintes for three days. The conditions here are rough, but the place is scenic. You can’t have everything. Below is a chart that our good friend aboard Kalunamoo created to measure of how UNcomfortable the ‘harbors’ down here can be. Most places are not harbors at all, simply coves or bays in which you can throw down your anchor, but there is no protection from the sea conditions. In Antigua, we were in real harbors, both in Falmouth and English Harbour. That’s a great way to start a winter of sailing, and really quite a come down for the rest of the trip. Deshaies, Guadeloupe is between a 3 and a 4 on Bill’s chart. In Les Saintes, we rarely get a mooring ball right near the village on our arrival, so we have to spend at least one night anchored between the islands of this archipelago. The roll conditions are consistently between stage 5 and stage 7. It’s awful. One night while I was sleeping a book jumped right off the shelf above me and clobbered me in the head! It was a rude awakening. The next morning I discovered that my glasses came down with the book, and I had fairly mangled them by tossing and turning all night on top of them. Bill Woodroffe writes a great blog about the lifestyle of living on a boat here.

Luckily we only spent one night on anchor, and early the next morning we were ready to head closer to shore in the village (Haute de Terre) to grab a mooring from anyone who was heading out. We were on a mooring by 7am.

One thing I measure while we are traveling aboard each winter is the home ports of all the boats that are anchored or moored nearby us. Antigua had a predominance of Union Jacks, in all the varieties that signify the colonies and protectorates of the UK. There were some number of French flagged boats, as well as Canadian, and Norwegian/Swedish/Danish, with only a few Dutch flagged boats. I saw a few Swiss and German boats in the mix. The past decade of sailing in the Caribbean has honed my flag recognition abilities. In the French islands, the French flags outnumber the British, as do the Scandinavian boats. I’m used to looking up the variations of the Union Jack when I’m curious about exactly where some of these boats call home. Yesterday I saw a variation on the Norwegian flag that caught my eye. It is currently the most beautiful flag I have seen!

I know it’s hard to see the detail on the flag. It was waving in a fairly strong breeze, as I attempted to catch it mostly open. It’s a Norwegian flag with a triple swallow tail, something I’ve never seen before. Usually swallow tail flags are associated with yacht clubs. This flag is the ensign of the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club. It’s a beauty, even though the boat is not.

The beautiful center crown and IVI design was Haakon II’s royal emblem, which he granted for use to yacht club members starting in 1906. This image shows a standard flag. The triple swallow tail has the two red points and center blue point with a narrow white outline. This image is from wikipedia.

Identifying the flags of countries in all the places we visit keeps me entertained. In these islands not many natives speak English, so using my almost non-existent French keeps me on my toes, and is something I am attempting to improve–therefore, another form of measurement. Food words are somewhat easier than everything else, since I have a moderate familiarity (and love) for French food! Everything outside of food is quite a challenge for me!

Bob measures more things than I do. He’s constantly tracking how much electricity we have made with our solar panels and wind generator, and when we are motoring, how much power the engine made. He weighs that constantly against our usage. We now have a star link gadget for the internet and that is big energy guzzler. We need to make hot water for showers, we need to make that water (!), and we need lights at night and energy to run our gas stove to cook. It all adds up, and Bob spends a lot time measuring the input and output of energy. He says he enjoys living off the grid. I say give me a light switch and instant access to heat and electricity. It’s quite a process to start cooking on Pandora, not to mention taking a shower or any of the many things we want to do daily. I am not an ‘off the grid’ kind of girl.

Here are some scenes from Haute de Terre, in Les Saintes. This was the view from our table at breakfast this morning.

Pandora is out in the distance. She’s light grey and just forward of the bow of the boat in the foreground

How about a close up?

Pandora has a light grey hull, in the distance, just forward of the bow of the boat in the foreground.

This is an idyllic place, and it would be perfect without the wind and the rolling conditions. Photographs are also a measurement of sorts. We take the ones we love, and sometimes we share them. Au revoir for now.

Views of the New Venue

Like many people, my work space is my living space onboard. I’ve posted plenty of photos over the years of projects underway in the main saloon or cockpit of Pandora when she herself is not underway! I cannot work when we are sailing, only when we are anchored or at a dock.

Here’s a look at how I manage my projects onboard. This is where most of my supplies are stored. This 3-shelf cabinet extends back further than I can illustrate in a photo. This year it is holding three knitting projects–the hot water bottle cover and two sweaters– my little Nano 2 e-spinner plus merino/silk fiber to spin, a rather large supply of tapestry yarn for weaving as well as another pile linen yarns for experimenting on a new tapestry design, and various tools. I have two copper pipe frame looms onboard, and they are stored in the hanging locker that holds Bob’s clothes. They couldn’t possible fit in my hanging locker, and luckily Bob is a very good sport about my need for equipment and stash!

On the bottom right of this photo there is a folded maple contraption that is my new tapestry stand! I have great expectations that this will make weaving onboard more comfortable. There will photos in the future.

Here are two little gems that hold tools. The first is a wonderful woven envelope by Lucienne Coifman (of rep weave fame), who is a member of my weaving guild. I have a number of small items from her that she makes from samples. Her hand finishing is exquisite.

There is a embroidered loop for the button similar to the loops that hold the scissors in the next photo. Lucienne’s finishing work is equal to her fine weaving.

Then I have this small tin full of handy tools.

This is the best small tool kit I’ve ever owned. It even has a ridiculously tiny pair of scissors. Can you see them? On the upper right of the tin, with pink handles. You can see that there is a tape measure, a needle gauge and various needles, along with a small crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches (although I never pick up stitches that way). What you can’t see are various stitch markers.

Having extra knitting needles onboard along with tools is worth far more than their tiny weight and size. Ellen, who started the knitting group, has given me a little envelope of dental floss threaders which will get added to this tin.

We’ve also had a change in venue for two days last week, which merits showing. Life onboard can get pretty small. I’ve always called it “Living small, with a big view.” Back in November when all of the sailboats that rallied together arrived in English Harbour, the national parks administration here threw a celebratory dinner to commemorate the arrival of so many sailboats. You can see some great photos of this on Bob’s blog. At that event the Minister of Tourism gave Bob the gift of a two-night stay at the historic Copper and Lumber Inn that is part of Nelson’s Dockyard. It’s a place where the Tot Club meets weekly, and this is a photo I took when Bob invited the fleet of our boats to be guests at a tot.

Tots take place in the courtyard of the Inn. I have only been up on the balcony once, last year, to get a similar photo before the tot ceremony began. This year it was a thrill to actually get to stay in this beautiful, historic spot.

There were three large double windows, which had stunning views. In the previous photo the drapes are drawn because the light completely washed out the interior. But of course the views were the best part!

Copper and Lumber is particularly beautiful at night. Above the entrance are the three windows of our room.

And back on Pandora, we have some new views this year. I brought one Christmas ornament from home since I wasn’t ready to give up the holiday when we came back here.

We also found orchids for sale at the local market! We could not resist getting one since we left our little family of phalaenopses and a paphiopedilum at home in the care of Melody and Chris.

I’ll close with a video Bob took of how my little Nano 2 spins. I am enjoying it, and I’m using the time to think about how to proceed with the tapestry experiment I want to try. Soon.

Life onboard is well underway this year. I hope it will be productive.

Mother Nature Always Has the Final Say

The pre-modern world is still very much on my mind after seeing that ancient, worn piton and imagining the fearsome sea monster it would have seemed to an ancient sailor. Lately I’ve been thinking how ridiculously removed I am from nature in the modern world. I turn up our heat, turn down our air conditioning without a thought, I store our food in near perfect conditions in our freezer and fridge–even on a boat! I mostly leave home in the cocoon of my little mini cooper, so that there is not much weather that keeps me confined at home. Anyone who camps or lives on a boat knows that weather rules everything we do.

This morning, while having breakfast at a cafe right on the dock in English Harbour, Antigua, we all felt the wind gather speed. One person at every table jumped up to run back to boats to close hatches so our beds would not get wet in the coming squall. Meanwhile, we all continued to sit at our dockside tables, out in the weather, rain or no.

On our sail back to Antigua from St. Lucia we experienced a moment of epic nature that has stayed with me over the past two weeks or so. The low angled light of morning is perfect for watching flying fish jump out of the water as the keel of Pandora slices through their fishy schools. It’s amazing to watch them leap out of the water, their winged fins flapping furiously. In that perfect light their fins sparkle like diamonds and remind me of what fairie wings might look like, similar to a dragon fly’s wings, but entirely white. I’ve never seen a dragon fly with white wings. Some of these fish can fly so far, it is quite remarkable, like skipping stones made of faceted diamonds. I spent a lovely hour watching them glide above the water as Pandora’s bow sliced through the waves. Shortly after the fish started flying we were visited from above by several brown boobies. I thought they were gannets, but I’ve now found out better.

There was such a symmetry between watching the fish glide through the air, skimming over the surface of the indigo water, while birds glided high above us and swooped down so close to our bow and our sails. Those birds are great navigators maneuvering so close to Pandora. I wished I could see in all directions at once to follow the swooping birds and keep an eye on the flying fish. It was not possible. I saw that Bob had our camera out, trying to follow the exciting trail of just one bird.

If only Bob had gotten a photo that showed how close these birds got to us. They are so agile. In this photo you can see the blurry outline of our forestay.

I don’t think I do anything as hard as what the boobies and flying fish were doing as I watched. All that work for a such a small meal of fish with very little meat and so many tiny bones. And all that work for such tiny fish to fight for life–avoiding the giant boat hull lumbering at them, escaping from the depths to be attacked from above. What a hard life!

This has been an exciting season for experiencing nature’s extremes. The cruisers down here have all noted how much windier it’s been this year. Almost all of us have been visited by porpoise on our voyages, and several cruisers have seen whales. Bob and I think we saw a whale breach…in the far, far distance. No photo.

Bob is currently writing about his extreme experiences racing in the Classic Yacht Regatta aboard Columbia. That was extreme sailing! Everyday a few of the crew were swept down the deck by the force of the waves crashing over the bulwarks. The experienced crew were well versed in grabbing people as they slid by. Bob got tossed down the deck on the first day of sailing and was caught by a crewman who apologized for getting so ‘personal.’ Bob was thankful to be grabbed. A friend of ours got swept away on the 2nd day — not overboard, but he did have his pants ripped off entirely, and he got a nasty rope burn down his chest (and etc.) from the line he was desperately clinging to as he made that voyage down the deck.

One of the professional photographers sent these two images to Bob. No one is in charge at all, except the force of nature!

I can’t even tell where the bulwark is in this photo!

The islands of the West Indies are extreme in the best and worst that nature offers, although nature doesn’t make judgments like that. Nature just is. There are volcanic mountains and remains of pitons, rainforests, incredibly blue waters, skies and rainbows, and hurricanes. And when things go down it’s on a different scale entirely than when I decide to head home in my car, park in the garage, and get inside my house for comfort. Safety isn’t even on my radar. I just want to be warm and dry!

And thinking of home, we head home in three days. On Sunday night I’ll sleep in my cloud bed, and when the sun rises on Monday, I’ll be outside checking my gardens. With a little luck my flower boxes might hold miniature daffodils and grape hyacinths. The daffs at the top of our hill might be starting to bloom. I have to start preparing for Easter the things I want to share with our NYC kids and our grandchildren in Maryland. We have a short tour of the Eastern seaboard to take within a week of getting home. It’s all pretty exciting to this weary, and reluctant, sailor.

Earlier this week I looked at a few years’ worth of garden pictures, missing home, but also getting psyched for the return. I found this photo of a bouquet of my first rose of the season, with other spring flowers, from a few years ago–hellebore, tulips, bleeding hearts. I’m looking forward to all of these!

Ever the goal seeker, I have to make an accounting of the projects I have finished during the Caribbean season. I finished that blue sweater, knitted sideways, from cuff to cuff, more than a month ago. I have finished the orange vest, but cannot bring myself to put it on for a photo. For one thing, it really needs wet finishing to complete the look of the knitted lace. And I don’t have the proper clothing to set off this pretty vest! Some time ago I finished a Nanucket basket vase that needs a bit sanding and a coat of varnish at home. Not a bad showing for four months away from home.

The bigger news is that I have completed everything I can do down here on my small tapestry. I now realize that I love embellishing things! The last time I added ‘bling’ to a tapestry was in 2015, when the Wednesday Group made portraits on chop stick warps that Archie made for each of us. I did a triptych of Greek characters: Artemis, Theseus, and the Minotaur. The best part of that project was thinking up non-woven ‘accessories’ to add to the weaving. Now, I am having the same fun embellishing my current small tapestry. I’ve added needle weaving and knitting so far. At home I will make a length of kumihimo in a pattern I know that uses three colors and looks a bit like snake skin. There are slits in this tapestry, and I plan to thread the braids through various slits.

And one final thought on nature. My friend Stephanie on Hero took a photo of this sign we both saw during our time together in St. Lucia. So true.

Homeward bound, back to modern life.

Disconnected

Every year Bob and I are promised better connectivity in the islands, with promotions from various internet providers. I think I have finally given up hope! This year takes the cake! Moments after getting onboard my iPhone got the ‘black screen of death.’ I googled how to solve this, but without being able to back up my 10,000+ photos and various other things, I decided to leave that job to a professional…and that means waiting until we return home.

So we bought the least expensive android we could find at the Digicel store in Ste. Rosa, Guadeloupe. We were promised that a certain Digicel plan would give us 70 gigs of data for about $40 (US) a month. We could add more, 10 gigs at a time for about $10, and we could pay by automatic payment. The service would work in all the islands from Antigua to Grenada. Sounds good, doesn’t it? We fell for it! So it came as quite a surprise when the phone turned itself off about a month later. In the settings it showed that we paid for the next month, so we didn’t think it was a payment issue. After that we saw the payment on our Visa account. For the next month the phone did not work. We had no hotspot, and Bob’s google fi phone did not have enough data to use for a hotspot. We eventually went to a large marina in St. Lucia where wifi is included with dockage, but of course the service did not reach a single boat on any of the docks, except before 7am. What fun!

Are you thinking we should be less tied to our electronics? Well, sure. But when you live onboard you need more connectivity than if we were just on a two-week vacation. We want to talk to our kids and grandkids, we want to read the news, we want to write blogposts. Bob has managed to keep up his blog because he can take his computer ashore and use wifi there. My computer is now old enough that it needs to be plugged in at all times to work, and I can’t do that ashore on any island except Antigua due to the type of electrical outlets. We left there in January! When we were on the dock in Marigot, St. Lucia, I had electricity onboard, but no wifi. Now we are in Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia, and I have both electricity and wifi. At long last!

I’ll stop whining now and move on. We’ve met new friends this year, cruisers who are on their first Caribbean journey. I can tell already that some of these newbies will become long term friends. There are still no weavers who’ve crossed my path, but I have been able to keep in touch with some of my weaving friends at home. In reality I’ve been able to keep in touch more this year than previous years, so some of my ranting above is not fair!

SEA MONSTERS

When we sailed from Martinique to St. Lucia, earlier in March, it was a ‘sporty’ sail. I was seasick and unable to move from my spot on the leeward side of the cockpit. We passed an ancient piton at the southern tip of Martinique that sent my brain to thoughts Scylla and Charybdis from Homer’s Odyssey. The piton we passed is quite small compared to others in this area, well worn and likely much older. As we passed it I was able to see three sides of the rock, and on each side of that rock there was what looked like a fearsome face etched into it. I could not possibly get up from my perch to get good photos, so I got out my cheap phone and did my best through the glass of our protective windows in the cockpit. This is the third side, as we were passing our last view of this piton. I was too sick to make sure the horizon was straight, and since I took this on an android, when all my other ‘toys’ are apple products, I don’t know how to edit this image to straighten that horizon. At any rate, maybe it’s better crooked, since it evokes my extreme state of off-balance!

Can’t you feel the fear some long ago sailors must have experienced as they passed this piton in a gale with angry seas and black skies and wind all around them? It brought these ancient sea-monster stories to life for me. I was so happy to tuck into Marigot Bay after this rather short, but sickening sail. And I’ve been thinking about sea-monster stories since this day.

RESORT LIFE ON ST. LUCIA

While in Marigot we were visited daily by a little Lesser Antillean Bullfinch. He was a cheeky little bird, very used to people and boats. He had no fear of flying down below through our small companion way, and he was not easily shooed out of our cabin! He seemed to know which boats had bananas, so Bob started leaving a half bananasfor him out in the cockpit each day. It was not a good idea because he became a constant pest. If there wasn’t a banana waiting for him outside he’d come below and take a look around.

While trying to chase him out of our cabin he ducked into our ‘stateroom’, aka bedroom. I wish he’d given me time to make the bed before I took this photo!

St. Lucia is a gorgeous island, known for its lushness, its high volcanic mountains, and two striking pitons down in the southern part of the island. Pitons are the leftover cones from ancient volcanos. Here is a view of the two famous pitons (Petite Piton on the front and the larger Gross Piton in the back–I know! The one in the back looks smaller from this vantage point) with the sprawling capitol city of Soufriere just to the north.

Stopping along the roadside to capture shots of the pitons. The roads seems greatly repaired since our last visit pre-pandemic. We were locked down in St. Lucia when the pandemic started, in March of 2020, but we were confined to Pandora, so we did not visit this area that year.

You cannot visit this area with a snap of yourself with pitons in the background!

On each of our visits to this part of St. Lucia we stop for lunch at a beautiful resort called Ladera. It’s at a high elevation with terrific views of the pitons right at eye level. The food and wine is just perfect in this setting!

There is a new game in town, which is a thrill for me. The Rabot Estate that grows cocoa for export, including to supply Hotel Chocolate in the UK, has opened a showroom and bar/restaurant facilities, just down the road from Ladera. They opened two years ago, just as all the islands of the West Indies locked down. Lucikly, now business is taking off, and luckily we were able to participate in their growing success! If you’ve never had Hotel Chocolate, you should! There are some shops in the US (look online). My dear friend Leslie sent me my first taste for Christmas last year. I’m hooked!

Here are just a few temptations on display!

These displays were inside 40′ shipping containers lined up inside a giant tent. It was sleek–very modern. There was a full container of beauty products made with cocoa butter. Here is my favorite purchase from the day.

We almost opened this bottle last night, but decided it would be great share with Chris and Melody over Easter.

This is the resort at Marigot where we’ve spent the past two weeks indulging in pool time, great food and time with friends. I even visited the spa–twice.

Being tied to a dock for two weeks gave us the ability to run our air conditioning, which allowed me to knit my wool vest and work on my tapestry in cool comfort. This “Con Alma” vest is now much further along, above the arm scythes.

One day I tried weaving at the pool, but it was challenging! The wind is always blowing, and at this stage of life, my eyes struggle to see when the back light is so intense!

I finished my Nantucket basket vase! Well, the base and the top rim need sanding and then the whole thing can be varnished. That will happen at home, in Bob’s woodworking shop. (And hopefully, he’ll do those jobs for me.)

After spending so much time in French islands where there are many boulangeries serving up baguettes, I have finally mixed up some sourdough starter. I made the batch with a new friend, Oana, from a giant catamaran that is currently docked in Marigot, and will soon head back to Portugal. Oana found it interesting to be delving into sourdough at this stage of life (a few years younger than I am), when during her childhood in Poland, sourdough bread was the only bread available. What goes around comes around.

There will be a sourdough boule later today, just in time for our overnight voyage back to Antigua starting tomorrow morning.

I’m very glad to be connected to the world today. Life needn’t revolve around connectivity, but sometimes it’s good to be in touch. I’ll be home 14 days from today. New England spring is calling to me!