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August 1, 2010

Cat Bullet

New Orleans Adventure

Filed under: Started Projects,Travel — Cat @ 10:16 pm

As I mentioned previously, I recently headed to New Orleans for the wedding of a long time friend. The red sweater was too big to be a comfortable travel project, so I did a quick stash dive and brought out a new project:

Lamia, from the “First Fall 2010″ edition of Knitty. It is a scarf made out of sock yarn and is in kind of a leafy, lacy pattern. Complex, but not too difficult to work on away from home. I’m making it in Sophie’s Toes sock yarn, color called “Harlequin.”

So, the scarf started out with just one section completed. We were disappointed on the flight out because they turned the lights off in the cabin (it was a late evening flight), so not much work got done on it during the flight.

Friday morning, I wandered around, mainly riding the Street Cars up and down. Eventually, it got too hot and humid, so I went back and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of knitting and investigating the functionality of my new iPod Touch (very cool toy, by the way…).

On Saturday, I met up with two friends from High School (waves at Tami and Melissa!!!). We had a yummy lunch and then headed out to explore the French Quarter. The scarf, which had grown quite a bit on Friday afternoon), asked to come along and we said that was OK.

On St. Charles Avenue, the scarf was very amused and wondered what the trees had done to “earn” this many Mardi Gras beads…
Live Oak Trees and Mardi Gras Beads

The French Quarter has quite beautiful architecture, often characterized by ironwork balconies. There is a lot of humidity and rain there, so plants grow really well…
French Quarter

The scarf found a new friend who looked a little cold:

Zombie?  Mummy?   Don't know
(the scarf couldn’t figure out if it was a Zombie or a mummy…)

The scarf, being lace, was quite intrigued by the intricate ironwork on many of the balconies:

French Quarter Ironwork

The scarf really wanted to listen to some Jazz music, but unfortunately, Preservation Hall was closed:

Preservation Hall

As happens to many New Orleans tourists, the four of us ended up on Bourbon Street:
Burbon Street

The scarf really thought that it should be part of Mardi Gras – its colors just blend right in with the festivities…
Mardi Gras Masks

We wandered into Pat O’Brien’s and ordered a hurricane. The scarf was intrigued by the hurricane…
Pat O's Hurricane

“It’s Kool Aid!! Great!!! I’m SO thirsty!!!”

No, little scarf, it isn’t KoolAid. But the scarf couldn’t be convinced otherwise…

After hurricane

Things got a little wobbly after that…

…but the scarf quickly recovered and headed to Jackson Square.

Iconic Jackson Square image
(that is the St. Louis Cathedral behind General Jackson)

There was a clump of people standing around, and the scarf wandered over to see what was going on.

Could it be?

Is it really?

The scarf tried to be discreet in its celebrity photography…

But ultimately, the scarf just got so excited, it couldn’t control itself….

Vince Lombardi Trophy!!!
It was the actual Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy!!!! Right out in public where anyone could see it!!! A real celebrity!!!

The scarf was overcome and had to lie down for a while…
Scarf in repose

As we left the French Quarter, the scarf thought about rubbing the nose of this friendly mule, but it was decided that waving a scarf around an equine might not be the best idea (we didn’t want to scare him). Therefore, I got to rub his nose. He was very sweet and SO clean!!!

French Quarter Mule

After that, the scarf was tired and decided to rest up with someone who looked like she could have been a knitter…
Lady with ball of yarn

All in all, the scarf had a lovely time on its New Orleans excursion. It has grown significantly since it got home and hopes to be presented to the blog readers after it is done.

Many, many thanks to Tami and Melissa for driving, for putting up with me and my crazy scarf. You both have definate futures as knitting blog stylists…

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September 23, 2009

Cat Bullet

Alaska Interlude: Riverboat day

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life,Travel — Cat @ 8:52 am

Alaska Interlude: Riverboat day

When we flew into Fairbanks, there was lots of smoke in the air due to multiple forest fires in the area. The next morning, we were driven to the dock to get on the Riverboat trip.

The sun was rather ominous…
Fire sun

But the riverboat was really nice:

It was a functioning paddle boat, though powered by diesel engines rather than steam:
Paddle wheel

One of the first demos that they arranged for us was the take off and landing of a float plane. It was really neat to see (and we had radio contact with the pilot, so he described what was going on and answered questions). No pictures of that worth seeing, at least from my camera. It was a red and white piper cub, though, so I would imagine that you could figure out what it looked like.

Another of the demos that they arranged was a young lady who demonstrated traditional fish preservation techniques (by smoking).

First the salmon are caught using the rotating fish weir, seen in the river:

Fish camp

Then the fish are filleted, leaving the two sides connected to the tail, but removing the head and the bones (this is harder to do than it sounds, I think):

Fillet o' fish

After that, the fish is hung to dry for a period of time:

Drying fish

Once the fish are dry, they are moved into the smoke house (seen with the smoke coming out of the opening):

Smoke house

The fish remain in the smoke house until they are well cured. The fish that we saw were “dog salmon”, not really good for people, but the sled dogs love them.

The smokehouse was part of a display of native life. We got off the riverboat at this point and were shepherded through very interesting talks at various stations. The first one that we went to talked about native textiles and clothing and how moose were tracked and “processed” into hide and leather.

Native home with fashion

It was at this station that we learned the secret moose call, used by hunters to attract moose. Let me see if I can reproduce it here:

“Heeeeerrrreeeeee Mooosey mooosey moosey”.


There were other stations that talked about the animals that were important to the natives:

They may have been culturally important, but reindeer are JUST not pretty, are they???

After the various stations, we were given plenty of time to wander around and look at everything.

Look at the size of this bear skin:

Bear skin on cabin

There was a statue of Granite, who was Susan Butcher’s lead dog. He was the runt of his litter and not expected to do much, but ended up helping Susan win four Iditarod races.

Granite the dog
No, I didn’t ask if the statue was made out of, well, granite.

During the talks they described to us how the sod roofs were constructed. It beats hauling in (or making) shingles, I guess.

Sod roof

I really liked how the sod had flowers growing in it:

Sod Roof detail

Actually, there were flowers growing everywhere. Very prevalent was a flower that I had never heard of before, a bright pink bush called Fireweed:

Also growing in abundance were delphiniums:

Even though it was really smoky, I enjoyed the day. And, when I got back on the riverboat for the return trip, my aunt pointed out that there was a lady knitting… she was making a dishcloth. My aunt was REALLY impressed.

Keep in mind that this is the Aunt who was the recipient of the Taos stole, but she was really impressed by a cotton dish cloth. I smell a Christmas present coming…

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September 12, 2009

Cat Bullet

Alaska Interlude: Trail Breaker Kennels

Filed under: Travel — Cat @ 1:38 pm

Our recent trip to Alaska was absolutely fantastic. I have hundreds of photos to go through. Rather than try to process them all at once, I’ve decided to produce a series of “interludes”; posts that have a few pictures that are all related in some way or another… They will be posted at random intervals, determined by how much time I have to go through the photos. Hope you enjoy.

Alaska Interlude: Trail Breaker Kennels

We had a Riverboat trip scheduled for our first day in Fairbanks. Along the banks of the river, the riverboat company had arranged several demonstrations. One that I especially enjoyed was the stop by the Trail Breaker Kennels, a dogsled racing kennel that was started by Susan Butcher and her husband.

Susan Butcher was a woman who won the Iditarod Dog Sled Race four times. By all accounts, she was an amazing woman.

Trail Breaker Kennels

The dogs that are used at this kennel are Alaska Huskies – very powerful dogs with tons of stamina, and even more enthusiasm. And lots and lots of “yapping ability.”

When the Riverboat pulled up to the banks, a nice young lady came out. She had a radio headset so she could talk to us and answer questions. As you can see, she had a friend with her…

Dog talk

After she talked for a while, they started hooking up some dogs to the “summer trainer”, which was an ATV with everything removed except for the brakes. The dogs were already in place, but they were connected with their collars, not the harnesses.

Waiting their turn

As the handlers moved along the line, they connected the harnesses and disconnected the collars (dogs would hurt themselves if they pulled with their necks, so the harnesses distribute the strain across the chest, shoulders and back).

Wanna GO!!

Finally, all of the dogs were hitched up proper, and very excited.

All excited

Finally, the brakes were removed and the team was off!!


They really flew. They ran out of the yard and disappeared for a while. Then we could hear them coming back, and faintly see them in the distance. Look at the dust they are raising!!

Dust trail

They ran back through the gate:

Coming home

After they stopped, the handlers unhitched the dogs, who promptly ran straight into the river to cool off…

Cooling down

…and to get a drink

Slurp slurp

It really was amazing to watch (and hear). All of the tails were wagging and ears were up. They were obviously very happy and well cared for dogs. The demonstration was one of the (many) high points of the trip.

Is it any wonder that later that afternoon I fell temptation to the following?

Dog Sled Team

Hand painted sock yarn by Fireweed Dyeworks (Nancy Sopp). Color name: Dog Sled Team

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March 31, 2009

Cat Bullet

My new “Happy Place”

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions,Travel — Cat @ 9:49 am

Coming in for Dinner

I have found my new “Happy Place”.

And shockingly enough, it didn’t have yarn.

Well, except for the yarn that I brought with me, but that doesn’t count.

For my Spring Break last week, I went to the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch and had an absolutely marvelous time!!

I left work Wednesday at noon and headed up north west of Fort Collins. It was a beautiful drive and the roads were quite clear.

I got there just about feeding time, and was allowed to stand on some rocks in the feeding corral to take pictures.

It was really cool to see the horses come running in for dinner…

Dinner # 2

It started to snow during that evening, just flurries really. But when I woke up the next morning, I saw this:
First morning

It was snowing for most of the day, but we went riding anyway. Riding in the snow storm was wonderful – really very peaceful. Not too cold, either, because horses put out a lot of heat.

My room was lovely (and had a fireplace!!) and the food was excellent and excessive in quantity.

I really like that the wranglers take time to “match” a horse to your abilities and experience. My horse was named “Gauge” (which I thought appropriate for a knitter).

Gauge, my mighty steed

He was a very nice quarter horse and was fun to ride.

My wrangler’s name was Bryce and his horse was named Annie B:

Annie B

She was beautiful and moved very well (quarter horse, fjord horse mixture). I think that there were the beginnings of dressage training in her background somewhere, because she had a beautiful lope and would change leads…

All told, I rode three very nice rides. One on Thursday morning (in the snowstorm) and then twice on Friday. Friday’s second ride was quite strenuous – if we had been skiing, there would have been black diamonds everywhere!!! At one point, I think we went straight up a cliff!!! Very fun. Though I began to wonder if Gauge was part mountain goat…

The red cowboy boots did wonders on the rides – I had no idea that they would make such a difference in comfort. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn’t have achy knees and hips after a ride. The only problem was that my feet were cold – the boots fit, but there wasn’t room for hand knit wool socks inside.

I’m going to have to find some sort of thin but very warm sock to wear with them, because I’m definately going back soon.

Oh, and for the record: Cowboy boots are rubbish for walking (and even standing) in the snow.

Knitting wise, it was not a very productive trip. I had plenty of projects with me, but I was more interested in the book that I was reading (The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth by Alison Weir) and pretty much focused on that. I did do two “squares” of the Taos stole while I was up there and then three more at home (as well as joining strip # 3 to strip # 2). Only 11 more squares to go (and the I-Cord edging). So I guess the project is coming along…

Oh, and I stopped at a yarn store on the way up to the ranch…..

Waiting for Breakfast

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December 1, 2008

Cat Bullet

Post Thanksgiving blahs

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions,Travel — Cat @ 12:25 pm

more camels. They make me smile…

Hi all,

Well, the blog was silent for a week while we went down to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. We had a good time, though were only there for a short while.

We did manage to see the traveling King Tut exhibit, and (to copy the words of British Archaeologist Howard Carter) saw “Everywhere the glint of gold”.

Or, to paraphrase Serenity’s Captain Mal… “Shiny”.

It was a lovely exhibit with nice displays. I appreciated the fact that the object descriptions and explanations were written above the display cases as well as on cards within the cases. That way, you could read the explanation of the items as you were waiting to inch up to see what was inside.

I’ve decided that I need some shabtis for my house. They are very decorative, AND supposed to be able to get up and do work around the house. That is, assuming you understand the hieroglyphics used in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Apparently you have to read the spell that is carved onto the shabtis in order to “activate” them.

I was somewhat tempted by a figurine of Bastet (the cat goddes), however, not having shabtis around to do the dusting, I decided to leave her in the museum store.

My nephews, of course, had fun with “mummy” jokes.

Ginger and I managed to sneak away on Wednesday and visited her local yarn store “The Wooly Ewe”. A delightful store chock full of a lot of yarns I’ve not encountered before.

Why yes, I did buy some yarn. Are you surprised?

She had a lot of yarns from Italy. I’m not sure the connection, but the colors were rich and saturated and the textures very smooth and soft. One of my prizes that I bought was about 1400 yards of lace weight merino dyed in a subtly variegated sapphire blue through deep purple (almost black). The store owner asked if I wanted her to wind it for me, so I said yes. It wasn’t too hard of a decision, actually, because I could tell that it wasn’t well skeined. They had a terrible time getting it wound, and, as a matter of fact, couldn’t finish before they closed that day. So, I left my address and they are going to mail it to me.

OK, I’ll be honest. I felt a little guilty dumping that task on her, but she DID ask. It was a mess… I wasn’t looking forward to winding it myself.

I got some other yarns. One merino, dyed in colors from yellow ochre through emerald green and dark grey. Again, Italian. Very pretty.

Oh, and apparently Cascade has SOCK YARN!!! A couple of skeins may have fallen into my shopping basket. Very soft, beautiful colors and washable. Just perfect for socks.

So, the impatient among you are wondering just how I entertained myself in the car on the way to and from Dallas (two days, each way). Well, in the morning, I slept. Exhausted from the sleeping, I immediately turned over to take another nap. Eventually there was lunch and then… another nap.

In the midst of all of the napping, I pulled out the Modern Lace Henley (red wool-bamboo yarn). After taking my time to figure out where I had left it (project wise, not location wise), I began to work on it. Quickly, I picked up the rhythm of the project and made great progress during the trip. I think that, since I was “forced” to focus on the project, I got to the point where I was able to throw the lace chart away and just knit the sweater without freaking out over what row I was on. That was a great step towards progress on the sweater. Currently, the back is almost done – I have to knit about three more inches and then bind off for the neck and the shoulders. I’m very pleased and looking forward to the very complicated front. Um, sort of. It looks hard.

In addition to the sweater, I also worked on a pair of socks using Nachaele’s hand dyed yarn. The color is called “Bird in a Cage” and is bright yellow, orange, red and black. I had originally started out using the “Koi” pattern from a new sock book called The Eclectic Sole, but it was a classic case of yarn/pattern mismatch. I put HOURS of work into the sock on the Thursday and Friday before we left, and then pulled it all out in the car on the way down. After a couple of tries of patterns from the sock bible (Sensational Knitted Socks), I settled on my old favorite, the yarn over cable. The sock is now progressing nicely.

The colors are vibrant, and the yarn smooth and workable. I amused myself the whole time thinking up multitudes of appropriate names. “Scarlet Macaw”, “Campfire”, and “Matchbox Car” all came to mind. However, I finally decided that the colors most reminded me of Dumbledore’s Phoenix from the Harry Potter movies. Therefore, I’m calling these my “Fawkes Socks”.

Ah well, I’d best be going. Hope you all had yummy Turkey Days and that things are going well for you.

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October 7, 2008

Cat Bullet

Taos Weekend

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions,Travel — Cat @ 9:49 am

HI All,

Well, I had a super fantastic weekend.

I went down to Taos for the annual Taos Wool Festival. It was a lot of fun.

My hotel turned out to be within walking distance of the festival, which turned out to be a good thing (based on the limited amount of parking available). The festival was chock full of wooly goodness. There was a higher percentage of premade (knit and woven) items than I had expected, and hardly any animals, but still there were wonders to be seen. It was great to see tent after tent of exciting colors and textures. I did a LOT of fondling of various wools and other fibers, and I really enjoyed talking to many of the vendors.

While I was there, I got to meet Donna W of the comments – such a fun person (HI DONNA!). We really enjoyed the rest of the day together. We also met Joan Tapper and Gale Zucker, the author and photographer of Shear Spirit (you know… my absolute favorite knitting book of all time…). They were delightful to talk to, and didn’t seem to mind that I was stalking them…

    Why yes, I did get my copy autographed.

The weather was perfectly cool enough for me to wear my Alpaca shawl, which turned out to be a good idea. I got a lot of compliments on it. The coolest though, happened when I was waiting to meet up with Donna.

These two ladies in red shirts kept waving wildly – finally, one of them came running over to me and said “You have my shawl on!”.

Confused, I grabbed it closer to me and said “No, it is MY shawl” – but then they clarified and stated that they were the owners of Victory Ranch, and that she was the one who was modeling the shawl in the book. How cool was that??? They really liked the texture of the yarn in my shawl (and since they own alpacas themselves, that was quite the compliment).

The next morning, Donna and I met up early and then headed down to the Victory Ranch. When I die, I want to come back as one of their alpacas… it truly was a beautiful place. Wide open lush fields and beautiful scenery. We got to go into the “kindergarden” paddock (full of approximately 1 year olds…) and feed them – what fun!! All of the faces and necks and backs all swarmed up to get the food we were offering.

Did you know that Alpacas only have bottom teeth? I did not know that, but it made feeding to be a very enjoyable experience. Slobbery, but enjoyable. I got several hugs from babies as they were reaching around to get food – I guess those long necks are good for many things.

In addition to the alpacas, there were warm fuzzy (and very friendly) dogs and kitties to play with. Neither Donna nor I wanted to leave, but sadly we eventually had to depart and start the long drive home.

Pictures to follow, of course, as soon as I get them downloaded.

Why yes, now that you mention it, I may have bought some yarn. There will be pictures of that as well…

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June 7, 2006

Cat Bullet

It is Official!

Filed under: Travel — Cat @ 1:47 pm

It is official!

I have a wonderful camera. For the past several years, I have been using a Canon Powershot A-70, but it developed “quirks” that made it a bad candidate for a vacation. Little, annoying, quirks like shutting down at random intervals.

So, in April, I purchased a Canon S2-IS digital camera. I took it on my recent trip to England (in May). (more…)

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