Monday, July 23, 2012

knitting at hobo jungle

On Sunday we headed north, past Flagstaff to a new climbing area called "Hobo Jungle." It's hidden in the forest on the eastern side of the San Francisco peaks. Peaceful. Green. Drizzly in the afternoon.  Very laid back. Good for knitting.

The whole area is tucked into a subtle pine-forested valley. On the north side are the climbing crags; on the south side is a rough, rocky slope. When I needed a break from climbing I meandered up it to take some photos.  Here's looking down-valley to Sunset Crater. Can you spot Mountain Man?

He's roughly in the center .... here is he zoomed in so that you can see him victoriously waving at the top of the climb ...

I strolled half-way down the slope and caught our friend David following the climb with a fabulous heel hook.

I've been rusty with my climbing, but I was quite pleased with what I worked through on this outing. Also, equally pleased with my find of wild currants.  I felt like a bear, rumbling around the slopes, rooting around for berries.

And I was even more pleased with my knitting!  When we got back to the truck and changed for dinner, I bounded out into the trees for some progress shots.  Much of the way done with the lower body, I reckon ....

Friday, July 20, 2012

sinuous reds

Dusty and sweaty, having finished up a day of climbing.  Mountain Man spotted a colorful snake that I wanted to get a good look at.  A bit pouty, I sat on a rock -- knitting my red sweater -- and waited for the snake to emerge from under a boulder so that I could see it too. (By the way, there's my cabled chalk bag making a cameo appearance.)

It's back!! C'mere!!

Let's go get it!!

I climbed on top of the boulder, precariously balancing myself to try to get a picture of this beautiful little Arizona Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana):

Once it had come out a little further, I scampered down and behind it to get a closer look at its incredible body.  Its Latin name means "shiny-scaled fire-against-black."   What an evocative name!

After a healthy dose of snake-watching, we hiked back to the car.  I thought I'd show you how far I'd gotten with the body of my sweater -- already up to the waist.

I started with a thick border of 1x1 ribbing, then switched to stockinette with a simple mirrored cable on each side.  There's a bit of waist shaping in there. Slipped selvedge stitches.  Once I'm finished with the body I'll pick up those stitches and knit the button bands in 1x1 ribbing. 

One of my tricks with cables is to start with fewer stitches and then do increases behind the first cable crosses. These cables are 8 stitches wide -- they're half of a Staghorn cable -- but I started with 6 stitches.  This avoids flaring at the base (although here, perhaps it would have been enough to just go down to 7 stitches -- it's a bit straight).

And here's Mountain Man and Isis playing tug of war, waiting for me to finish all my snake-watching and yarn-photographing. All right -- I'm coming!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

desert rain

Rain has come to the desert ...

BIG rain.  Arizona's summer monsoon.

The rains have been hitting the rim -- which is to say the Colorado Plateau -- for a week or so, but they hadn't made it past the wall of heat in Sedona and Phoenix until now.

Yesterday we had storm after storm blowing through this valley, bringing splendidly chilly air and filling the dry wash behind our casita.

I can't say the animals were happy.  They're absolutely terrified of thunder, and they followed me so closely all day that I kept tripping over them! Poor Isis wouldn't even leave my side when I went out in the rain to take photos of the wash or to go for a walk. But me? I was in heaven.

The most beautiful, sensual part about desert rains in the aroma.  In Phoenix it smells of creosote bush; it's an acrid, musky smell when you first encounter it, but it works its way into your soul once you've lived in the low desert.  In Taos, there's an enchanting perfume of sagebrush. Here in Sedona, it's the ancient, resinous aromas of juniper and pinon pine.

(there's Isis, by the way, saying "can't we go home and get out of the rain?!")

It had been blazingly sunny and in the low 100s here where we're staying -- rather unpleasant since we only have a swamp cooler on the house.  But right now, sitting on the front porch, it's a lovely 69 degrees. The crickets are chirping. The little toads are hopping about in the driveway. 

The rains have thankfully broken the heat. And they've cooled my head and helped me think, so that I think I've finally broken the back of this dissertation chapter I've been agonizing over.  You might say it's been a watershed weekend, ha ha

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

starting with the sleeves

I've started my little red sweater.  Began with the sleeves, done in the round.  They look like curious arm-warmers at the moment, but they'll grow.

My vision is to make a close-fitting cardigan with 3/4 sleeves, a preppy crew neck, and small cables flanking the button band.  If the yarn gets me that far, that is.  The sleeves may need to be shorter and the neck may need to become a v-neck.  Always a dance to see how far the yarn gets me! 

As for shoulders ... any thoughts out there about making seamless shoulders that are not raglans (which I find rather ill-fitting sometimes, and not that sharp looking)?  I'm thinking of trying to engineer SusieM's contiguous set-in sleeves method such that it can be worked bottom-up rather than top-down ... 

Monday, July 02, 2012

Sedona summer

We've retreated to Sedona for this midsummer month ...

It's our own writing retreat.  We're in a little house that backs up to forest land.  Spend the days working on dissertation and grant proposals.  Take Isis for walks -- on this trail behind the house -- in the cooler hours of the morning and evening. 

And of course there's knitting in the evenings. Apropos of the red rock landscape, I've been swatching with my red yarn from Thirteen Mile.  It's hard to think of sweaters when it's 100 degrees outside, but that's my plan.