Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Knitting Update - September 2013

It occurred to me recently that I haven't written much about knitting for a while. This is mainly because I haven't done a lot of knitting for a while. Not sure why. Partly this summer was just so hot and sticky that wool didn't hold its usual allure for  me. Also, there was so much going on this summer - both good and bad.

In May the sump pump failed and our basement flooded. We got someone in to rip out the soaked carpet and put in dehumidifiers and fortunately our home insurance paid for this (although, unfortunately, not the cost of a new sump pump). Just when everything dried out we had monsoon-like rain again, and again came down to find water all over the floor. But this time it was coming in one of the basement windows (which is not covered by the insurance) so more carpet ripped up and more dehumidifiers. By the time we figured out why the water was coming in that window the basement had flooded a third time, and we had to pay for a third lot of carpet-taking-up and dehumidifiers.

Not long after the first flood David was away on a short trip and I popped out to the bank. As I was pulling up to the stop sign to exit the parking lot a woman coming from my left tried to pull up to the stop sign as well, without noticing I was there. She plowed into the front, driver's side corner and just seemed to keep going forever. Eventually she noticed she'd hit me and stopped her car - she had a dog in the back seat of her car so I assume it had distracted her because otherwise I can't see how she failed to see me. Her car was hardly scratched of course but my poor car was a mess. I had to really shove the door to get it open as the front panel was buckled.  We exchanged the usual information and she left, both of us thinking I'd just drive home and then contact a repair shop. Unfortunately, when I got back in the car and turned the key, absolutely nothing happened. It didn't even turn over. So I had to get the car towed and in the end it was in the shop for nearly two weeks. Fortunately the woman's insurance paid for everything, including a rental car, but it wasn't good timing at all.

Then our airconditioner failed - twice. During this hot, humid summer.

So not a lot of knitting over the summer.

I did make a fair number of baby things earlier this year for the Washington Adventist Hospital's baby unit.

A few of the hats (the super tiny ones are for the babies born too early)

A few of the cardigans - aren't they cute?

Squishy baby blankets
A close-up of the thermal stitch

A burial gown set

Most of these I knit with my very favourite baby yarn - Bernat Softee Baby - the softest, squishiest baby yarn I've found.

I did do some knitting while we were on vacation.  A pair of slouchy socks for myself from the Verdant Gryphon's "Bugga" I bought at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May and a lacy hat for Evie (she declared she doesn't wear socks) from the Miss Babs. The hat didn't take up a lot of the yarn so I still have more than half of it left to make something else.

I cast on a pair of socks for David while we were still in England but only finished the first sock about a week ago. I've cast on the second sock but haven't got very far with it yet.

Earlier in the year I bought enough wool to make David the knitted waistcoat from Jane Austen Knits and Evie has recently expressed a desire for a hooded scarf for when she's traveling this winter.

She also wants these -
(c) Ann Kingstone
 So I really need to get on that second sock and get them done.

Our knitting group at church has reconvened after the summer break and is re-starting our knitting for the homeless project. Last year we collected nearly 200 items so this year I'm hoping we can make it to 300. So now that it's finally cooling down I will hopefully have more on the knitting front to report later in the year.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ghost Towns Pt 2

There are a number of ghost towns in the area around Ouray, where we were staying in Colorado, but several people had recommended Animas Forks as the one to see. The easiest way to get there was to drive south on the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton and then on to Animas Forks. Unfortunately much of the road beyond Silverton was marked as 4-wheel drive territory and our budget didn't stretch to the nearly $200 it would cost to rent a jeep for the day. I had thought about risking our rental car (a Nissan Altima) as far as I was comfortable to see how close I could get, but as I came down into Silverton it started raining, so I abandoned that idea. My thought was then to have a mosey around Silverton as it seemed to have some fun little shops but when I went to the bank I couldn't get my card to work. So I had to make do with the cash I had in my wallet, which was just enough to buy me a sandwich, fries and soda at the oddly named, and very pink, "Thee Pits Again". Apparently it had been featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" so there was a TV on with an endless loop of the feature episode (with the sound turned off) and a multitude of pictures and newspaper articles on the walls.

Thee Pitts Again... best barbeque around!

To be fair it was a very generous sandwich, good fries and free refills, but it left me with a handful of change and no inclination to dash through the rain to window shop when there was no possibility of buying anything. So I rather sulkily shook the mud of Silverton off my boots and headed home. Ironically, once I got up out of the valley the rain cleared and it was gorgeous again. I'd like to go back someday for a proper look around but at the time I was wondering if I had been cursed. The Animas River that runs by the back of the town is also known as "Rio de las Animas Perdidas", or the River of Lost Souls. It felt like that kind of afternoon.

Fortunately, I had made a few stops along the way down. The scenery on Million Dollar highway is breathtaking, and just off the road, about halfway along on the way to Silverton, is Ironton. Established in the early 1880s, it survived into the early 20th century but declined over the years and was finally completely abandoned in the 1960s.

It is settled into a hollow between the road and the Red Mountain Creek

and the woods are gradually taking over, growing up between, and occasionally through, the buildings.
Most of the buildings are more or less collapsed

but there are a few fairly intact.

These two were the best preserved. The windows on the ground floor of the first one were open so there was plenty of light but in the upper floor, and all the windows of the white house, had been boarded up. A few of the pictures I took in pitch black rooms with my flash and couldn't see what they actually looked like until I got back to the hotel and downloaded them onto my computer.

There was some fascinating detritus in these old houses.  Like old mattress springs -

I think this is an old Sterno can? (ETA - apparently it's an oil filter for a car)
Layers of old wallpaper - it was fun trying to guess which decade each was from.

The 50s?

The 60s? Could be the 30s.
Layers of linoleum as well.

You could see the woven cotton backing on the earliest layers.
The plaid was some kind of vinyl and was on top so I'm guessing this was the 60s contribution.

In the first room of the white house, the one with the door, there were some large remnants of a very pretty pink wallpaper, as well as some of the white ceiling paper.
This was one of the rooms that was pitch black so I had no idea what it looked like till I got back and could look at the photos.
There was a little bit of light coming into this room but I didn't realize it was yellow till I'd seen the photos. More of those wood slat ceilings.
This is the same cupboard, without and with flash. Looking at it now, it kind of looks like something in a horror film.
Love the chippy paint.

Despite my disappointments at Silverton I had a really good day.

Abandoned places are  compelling. I could hear traffic from the nearby road but couldn't see it through the trees and I enjoyed having it all to myself.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ghost Towns Pt. 1

We were in Colorado last month for meetings and I had a few free days to myself, so I went off in search of old Ghost Towns. When I was little we used to drive up into the foothills in California to visit some of the old mining towns there and I find them fascinating (kind of like castles). They create a pleasant sense of melancholy.


 Can you tell I love weathered wood and rusty metal?


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