Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hot and cold

There has been radio silence here for many weeks, because I have been on the road (or in the air). First I went on a trip to Bali with the Gettysburg College gamelan – we rehearsed intensively for about 10 days and then performed at the Bali Arts Festival. What a thrill! If you want to know more about our gamelan and this trip, check out the Gamelan Gita Semara Facebook page. (I’m not on Facebook but everything about the trip is there, so friend us if you’re into that.)  Then I got home and turned around to go on a family trip to Alaska. Another thrill of a totally different type!

I didn’t knit much at all in Bali. As I expected, my brain was full-to-overflowing most of the time. That, combined with the heat and humidity, meant I just didn’t get out the yarn much. I retreated to my ebook instead (A Little Life kept me occupied the entire time - it’s plenty long).

Kris and I stayed in Bali a few days after the performance for a short vacation (3 nights in Ubud). During that time, we took an amazing batik class from Nyoman Warta. Here are a few pictures of the process:

IMG_1913_thumb[3] IMG_1924_thumb[2] IMG_1928_thumb[2] IMG_1936_thumb[2] IMG_1947_thumb[2] IMG_1986_thumb[7]It was really fun to immerse oneself in a new creative medium. I spent about 4.5 hours working on this and the time flew by. If I had just one more full day in Ubud, I would have returned and made another piece.

But I did embark on a mitten project right when started our long journey to Bali (which took 41 hours door to door). Boy 1 requested mittens at the very end of mitten season last year, so I thought I would get ahead of the game. He requested WARM mittens, so I decided to make double layers out of sock yarn. And why not make them reversible? We looked at Boy 2’s Double Happy Hat for inspiration, and Boy 1 picked two balls of Felici from the sock yarn stash.IMG_2226_thumb[7]

To begin, I worked a provisional cast on with waste yarn and knit one row flat. Then I did the “criss cross applesauce” move that I use when I join to knit socks in the round on two circulars, and began working in rib for the cuff. I used the Linden mitten pattern as a guide, but I ended up modifying it a fair bit (as usual). I finished the fourth mitten just after arriving home from Bali, while my jet-lagged self was up in the middle of the night.  IMG_2232_thumb[6]

It was rather tedious to get those live stitches back on needles, but I managed it. There were an awful lot of needles to manage. I did a 3-needle bindoff in purl to attach the mittens. And here are the resulting mittens!IMG_2236_thumb[2] They fit perfectly – as I knew they would, because I measured his hands against mine before I left. They are exactly the same size. Handy, eh?

The project used one 50-gram ball of each yarn. I have 4 grams of blue remaining, and 6 grams of red. Nice little project.

Before I left for Bali, I prepared a project to take to Alaska. I knew my mind would be mud during my short hiatus at home (3 days). I don’t have any pictures yet, so I’ll save that for next time… but it is a sweater project – for me – with my own handspun! Pretty exciting.

I visited two yarn shops in Alaska, one in Skagway and one in Ketchikan. The second one wasn’t very exciting, but the first one was right up my alley.


Aurora Yarns was full of interesting skeins. I ended up not buying any qiviut. It’s very expensive and it’s also not springy like wool. The shop owner and I had a frank discussion about its lack of memory, so I decided against purchasing a small skein for a pair of fingerless mitts. But I did buy two skeins of yarn dyed in Alaska: IMG_3839_thumb[2]This skein of sock yarn spoke to me – the colors perfectly reflect the trees and waters of Alaska (and of my personal palette) and the speckles are fun. This might be my first Hitchhiker?

IMG_3834_thumb[3] This delicious skein is 60/20/20 superwash merino/yak/silk and will be something wonderful around my neck. I love how the cool jewel tones look dyed on a greyish fiber base.


I also got a wee bit of fiber. This is just 2 ounces of yak-silk roving, also dyed in Alaska. It is a moody bluish-grey that reminds me of the northern waters we sailed through.

I’ll end this with a bit of Alaska. Here is Denali, which we were lucky enough to see two days in a row. There are some clouds at mid-elevation here, but the peak is still clear (it’s white):IMG_2362_thumb[7]

Moose in Denali National Park:


Family hike (that’s my sister in the lead):


Margerie Glacier calving (you can see a splash toward the right):


The surreally beautiful Glacier Bay:


Sea kayaking around Eagle Island near Ketchikan (I was in a tandem boat with Boy 2, so this was one of my main views):



  1. I think you win the prize for the most fun and creative stuff fit into one summer (really only a month or so?)! Bali and your batik are amazing, as are the mittens. Alaska is the perfect contrast to Bali, and your take on qiviut is interesting and educational. I LOVE the yarn and fiber you did buy and will look forward to seeing what they become, along with your handspun sweater project. Thanks for sharing your hot and cold!

  2. I'm so glad we gave ourselves a little leeway in the yarn purchasing department (you: Alaska yarn and fiber; me: Brooks Farm and, possibly, some Plucky).

  3. Just the thought of all that air travel leaves me exhausted! Catching up on online reading, which I don't seem to do well when I'm on the road. I can't imagine all the beautiful things you go to see. Love that Alaska/Janelle palette. Those mossy greens on the trees in that hiking pictures are so Northwesty to me. You still managed to get a lot of knitting in, I think!