Saturday, August 18, 2012

Taos Gorge & Dead Cholla Wall

When you drive north from Taos, north across the flat sagebrush-covered plateau that seems to stretch to the horizon, you suddenly come across an incredible gash in the earth.  It's the Taos Gorge, cut some 650 feet down by Rio Grande River, and spanned by the fifth-highest bridge in the country.

Now follow the gorge to the west a few miles, and it softens.  There are climbs on the top layer of basalt -- in a spot known as Dead Cholla Wall -- and hiking trails in the valley below.

We, of course, were climbing, and I was getting in a few stitches when I could. It was such a blissfully cool and overcast day. So lovely to sit and knit and watch the clouds swirl through the sky.

As for the knitting ... you might be wondering what happened to that red sweater that I was so enthusiastically knitting when we were in Sedona.  Let's just say: there was an incident.  An incident with the sleeve caps.  It's now stuffed angrily into the bottom of a knitting bag and I don't know when it will see the light of day again.

So I started another shawl, which is really the great love of my knitting life.  This is another Moonbeams -- the final version, in a laceweight alpaca/silk, before I release the pattern.  You can see how the m1s radiate out from the center to create the half-circle of stockinette.

Actually, it might not be the last version.  I'm probably going to see how it works up in a drapey DK or Worsted weight, too, because I love the idea of having a lush, heavy alpaca shawl to wrap around my neck come November.

And, yes, I'm going to need it this year.  I don't talk a great deal about my graduate work on this blog, but you'll all see soon enough anyways -- I'm moving back to Cambridge this fall for one last semester. So in a few weeks it'll be goodbye Southwest, hello New England again.  See what Isis thinks about that ..

As for me, I'm in the midst of a tremendous mountain of work, but I'm also trying to soak up the stark beauty here before heading off again.

Mountain Man setting up his rap from "Lava Flows," 5.11, last climb of the day

Monday, August 13, 2012


Sunday afternoon.  Partly cloudy.  Crisp air. We went for a hike up Wheeler Peak.   At 13,161 feet it's a majestic mountain, the highest in New Mexico.  Well, harumph, majestic or not, somebody found a mud puddle on the way up!!

What can I say?  It was marmot country, which means Isis was running this way and that way all over the meadows, chasing after chirping marmots and tiring herself out.  I was chasing after marmots too ... only I was trying to creep up on them slyly ...

I got to within about twenty feet of this grizzled old marmot, before I started to think there was something wrong with him for letting me get so close.  I took a last look at his beady eyes and then hurried to catch up with Mountain Man.

Up, up we went.  It was an exciting day, as the New Mexico Fish and Wildlife folks had been airlifting bighorn sheep out of one of the high mountain cirques. We'd run into them hiking the day before and were rushing up to try to see the helicopters.  After we summited, we ran a mile along the ridge, just shy of 13,000 feet, to see if we could get a better view.

Somebody was tired and expecting snacks after that.

Don't worry. We gave her some cashews.

We sat up in that high meadow until the storms threatened to blow in.  Didn't get to see the next helicopter. But I did catch a grasshopper. That was something.

All in all, a fine critter-filled day. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

sunset & sagebrush

Taos, New Mexico.  High desert heaven. 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

happy trails

A few nights ago -- on the night of the full moon -- we said goodbye to Sedona.  We hiked up to an overlook just above where we were staying, poured ourselves a glass of wine, and toasted the end of our sojourn.

To the west, we watched the setting sun.

To the east, the moonrise.

And then we were off, walking down the dusty red rock trails to finish packing and get on the road to Phoenix.

It seems like yesterday that we arrived, doesn't it?  This month went by in the blink of an eye.  But the next adventure is just around the corner ... 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

red vest, red rocks

Mountain Man and I hiked up towards Cathedral rocks the other day.  It's been a favorite late afternoon outing this month -- strolling along the red dirt trails, keeping our eyes on the thunder clouds, heading down to Oak Creek for a dip, watching the sunset from high up on the rocks. And, of course, taking knitting photos!  (apologies about the color, by the way; it got all oddly red-saturated in the sun)

So, here I am with the latest on my red sweater.  I divided for the front and back, shaping the armscyes with a few decreases along the outer edge and shaping the scooped neckline (front and back) with short rows.  I grafted together the shoulder stitches, then picked up stitches all around the neck to knit a collar in 1x1 ribbing. 

Last thing I did was to pick up stitches along the front openings and knit a button band in 1x1 ribbing.  I've, shall we say, had some issues with it.  Difficulties figuring out the precise number of stitches, since the ribbing creates such a stretchy fabric (even now, I think I'm going to rip these both out and re-knit them).  Difficulties figuring out how to do a perfectly tidy vertical buttonhole in the ribbing.  

Oh well.  I was very pleased with how the neckline and the back scoop came out (And I do promise that the back stretches further towards my shoulders than it looks here -- the sides are curling under, and when I lifted my arms to tie my hair in a knot it pulled the fabric inwards). 

Anyways. Still outstanding issues with the finishing, but I'm pleased with the overall construction thus far.  Now I need to figure out how to shape the sleevecaps, with the help of my trusty 1980s edition of the Vogue Knitting book (I'm old school like that) and it will be turned into an actual cardigan!