Friday, May 31, 2013

SockMania -- Almost A Pair!

OK, so you hit the wrong button and you have to start over. Story of my life, right??

So the Robin's Egg sock is almost done. I've turned the heel, finished the foot and am working on the toe decrease. Standard decrease, and then maybe on the next pair, I'll try a different heel and different toe, just for fun. 

I also bought some pale blue Cascade 220 heather to begin another pair of hiking socks; using up the remaining purple as cuff, toe and heel on these. It's fun to mix it up, and if they look weird? Well, they'll be in hiking boots, right?

Turning the heel
Here are the first batch of pics from Robin's Egg. I started turning the heel using the instructions from the Madeline Tosh "Simple Socks" pattern by Amy Hendrix. Check it out here. As I noted, this is a "Franken-Sock" because I'm using several different sources. Kind of adventurous for me, but then again: look at the colors here, people!! I'm kind of a vanilla personality (yes, really I am) so if I can do "wild socks" then I'm expressing myself that way. Particularly "wild-knit-by-me" socks.  Again, my favorite needles: Kollage square DPNs. Made in USA. Very, VERY sharp points! I ended up buying some sheep needle protectors, but I'm not sure whether I'm protecting the needle tips or protecting me! Either way, they're cute and useful.

Heel turned
You can see that the sock colors kind of puddle at the heel. But it's a pretty shape, and it was easy to do if you kind of disengaged your logic and did what the instructions said, when they said to do it. Heel turning is "magic" no matter how you do it, and I'm always, always surprised! So was Hubby, who said, "Hey, that looks like a sock!" No stopping him, right? I'm glad he's noticing what I'm knitting. Or maybe not, if he keeps nosing in The Stash...

Back of heel
As we see the back of the sock, you can see how the colors blend here. It's not the spiral look on the cuff; it's also not a very dense heel. I'm hoping it holds up well since I didn't do a run-along support thread. And I paid an arm and a leg for the MadTosh yarn! I don't want to have to darn quickly, so they may become "clog socks" so that I prevent heel wear and tear. 

Using the Kollage needles has been good for my hands, and yeah, in spite of my usual cynicism about advertising claims, the stitch tension is really nice. A slight brag, but usually, I do get good tension. I just notice that with these needles, there are no ladders, and the stitches are very uniform. Huzzah!

Starting the foot
As I finished the gusset, the colors kind of evened out. You can see here that there was some puddling, but I wasn't worried about it. I knew it would even out once I was in a regular flow, so that the stripes would continue (you'll see that in a little bit). The gusset was a little longer than I thought it should be, but then the pattern for the toe decrease is more gradual, too. We'll see how it looks. All I have to do is make another one - I don't ever have to do this again if it looks weird. 

The heel
The heel, close-up - you can see that it's pretty basic, and not as triangular on the bottom as a lot of them are. They had me pick up the same number of stitches as were rows knitted, so it's a 28-stitch gusset. Kind of long, but it worked. I used a crochet hook. Sorry, perhaps lazy, but that's the easiest way for me to do it. You can see on the "heel" picture that the brown puddled directly opposite the blue on the gusset. That's fine, though, because it all resolved itself. 

I can't wait to start on Sock #2. And no, I'm not breaking the yarn to see if I can match the starting point directly. Since it's a swirl rib, and since the color goes down the leg the same way anyway, I'm not worried about matching - the yarn isn't self-patterning; it's self-striping. Not worth the waste of yarn to figure it out. If it works out that it starts in about the same place, I'll take it as a sign of grace from the Knitting Goddesses, and off we go. Here's the last shot.  See how the stripes resolved themselves? 

The Foot
I'm going back now to the toe decrease. I have that oddball Friday class, so I figure I can knit while they're doing their thing. Hopefully, it'll be an early night and we can get home before the next round of storms breaks loose. Right now, it's all tracking south of us, but with the way Mother Nature has been having hissy fits, it could change. Quickly. 

So, what's on your needles? Anything fun for summer? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So This is on the Needles and THIS is Finished!

So after doing enough overtime to garner FORTY HOURS of comp time in the past 3 weeks (!), I did a "work at home" day Monday. First off, it was our anniversary, and thanks to everyone who wished us well. Hubby announced it on FaceBook. Sorry, but I can't do that; not that I don't want to acknowledge it, but it's just me being paranoid/private. Anyway, there it is.

We went to lunch on Sunday at a winery and I had some really good crab cakes. Really good for Illinois, that is. Obviously not up to snuff for someone who lived in seafood country on the East Coast for over a decade...but these were good. What can I say? I'm a seafood purist. 

Hiking socks
Monday, I had a dentist appointment. At noon. Yeah, so who WOULDN'T go to the dentist at noon on a Monday, right?? And I had a filling replaced. Who doesn't want to be all numb and drooly on their anniversary, right?? And then I taught a Basic Yoga class that night. Luckily, I was done drooling about 4 p.m. 

So here's a few pics of the hiking socks. Notice the awesome heel, courtesy of my friend Doris. I call it the Doris Heel, but she said she got it ages ago when she was a kid - it was the way her mom or granny did the heels, and she's sure it's in a knitting library somewhere.

Doris Heel
These were done in Cascade 100% wool, which is a worsted weight, on size 3 DPNs. They're so thick they practically DO stand up on their own. And yes, there is a different top on each sock. I was experimenting. They'll be worn with hiking boots, so it really won't matter. I'd rather experiment on something like this anyway. The yarn normally knits up on size 7, but by dropping this many needle sizes, you do create a hugely sturdy fabric. 

The Doris Heel goes something like this: at each end, you K3, and on the RS you alternate a K1, sl1 with a WS row of straight knit, then the next RS is P1, sl1... I think. The actual pattern is at home. Either way, you see the thickness of the heel and the sturdiness. And how pretty it is! It'll look lovely in a "real" sock where the yarn gauge actually matches the needles. 
Two different beginnings

For the different tops, on Sock #2, I knitted 1 row all the way around before I started the ribbing; and since I have Biker Calves, I figure this'll give me some extra stretch. And also, Sock #2 hasn't been washed yet. It may not pucker as much at the top. Since I'm not meeting with my knitster friends this weekend, I'll probably douse Sock #2 in the Eucalan and let it air dry. I wonder if I need to get some of those sock forms?? I've done ok just shaping them and putting them out flat. 

I have enough of the purple yarn so that I'm probably going to whip over to the LYS and buy another hank of Cascade, in a complementary color. I can do the ribbing, heel and toe in this purple, or vice versa. Either way, there's enough left so that I have about 1 skein total; I have to weigh it to be sure, but I think it's totally worth doing another pair. And like I said: they're HIKING SOCKS... It really won't matter to me if the complimentary color is a light blue, pink or bright green. I really don't want to knit these in anything darker than this purple in the first place, so no navy, no black. We'll see what the LYS has. 

Robin's Nest socks
Here are some picks of the NEW SOCKS.... I am officially in "drooly-love" with this yarn. It's madelainetosh sock in a "onesie" bought at Jimmy Bean's - Robin's Nest. I was going to try Magic Loop with these, but instead, I'm using Kollage DPNs again, with VERY sharp points. I got the pattern from the madtosh site, but I was looking in one of the dozen sock books I have and I saw this swirl rib...and I'm doing the entire leg in this. 

The reason I mention the tips is because (a) they'd be great if I was doing a lace leg on my sock; and (b) we've had some wonky weather...I was sitting in my chair knitting and Quinn decided that RIGHT NOW I NEED TO BE ON MOM'S LAP. So whoppppppppp, I flung my right hand up in the air as 45 lbs. of Elkhound landed on my lap. I was afraid she'd land right on the needles and I'd have to explain 5 puncture wounds in close proximity to our vet...

The little pink case is something I picked up in a new LYS - Le Mouton Rouge in Morris. It's a sock yarn case from knit happy and it's just adorable. Open, it's got a spot to hold yarn, needles and a pattern. Closed, it's just cute and fits into my Jordana Paige bag, since those Kollage needles are nasty to grab the wrong way. 

Case opened
The pattern of the color spirals around and the swirl rib is echoing that nicely. I was thinking about doing just a 2" rib and a plain leg, but the more I looked at it, the more the ribbing was hollering to go down the whole leg. It's only crew length, but that's fine for me. 

I debated and debated what to do with this yarn; of course, sock yarn shawls are all the rage, but I normally don't wear brown with blue, and I didn't want to overdo that fad; I already have 2 in the queue so I don't need to have more. 

And I want to knit more socks. So I figured that this was a good yarn to do socks with. And I apologize for the crummy pics...they're taken with my phone camera. Love my phone. Hate the camera. 

Swirly colors
As you can see from this one, even though it's not a great shot, the sock top (again, 1 row of K before starting the pattern) starts with the brown swirl and the blues and whites just pick up. The swirl in the colors is going in the same direction as the swirl in the knitting. I'm not sure why this tickles me so much; probably, it's meant to go that way... but heck, lately I'll take the least little thing that tickles me. I can't wait to show these off to my knitster friends, but it won't be this weekend.

Case closed
Tra-Laaaaaaaaaaa - I have a Saturday off, and it falls on the Memorial Day weekend, so that's Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday AND Tuesday.... Oh jeeze... What to do with myself???  Anyway, the knitsters are busy. I did e-mail my niece and told her that if she needed help with the twins and Kid #1, to let me know. Haven't heard yet, but there's still time. 

So I'm also back on my detox. The trip and subsequent falling off the rails of my eating plan kind of did me in, and I'm back to the "get rid of sugar" thing. I'm telling you, it sounds harsh, but it's really easy after you get past the first few days. 

Hubby and I have a bike ride planned if Mother Nature cooperates - at least one ride sometime over this long weekend. And a cook-out where the kids want to make fish tacos. Hubby will have bratwurst...He's not all that adventurous with food. 

Oh, and we'll be delivering wedding pictures to my sis. It'll be nice to get that off my dining room table! 

And I have to weave in the ends of the Fluffy Scarf. Then it'll be done. Yes, it only took about 3 days. And yes, I do have another ball of it. And yes, I might actually just make a scarf for Tippi to wear... 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pictures and Updates

Don't faint -- it's two posts in two days!!

Anyhow, I couldn't find the sock pics on the computer because they were on my phone... So here they are. Still hunting for a sock pattern for the size 2 DPNs - a set of 5 of 'em. So I will continue the hunt. 

As you can see, the two cuffs are slightly different. I don't mind that because these are pretty much going to be buried in hiking boots, and I wanted to try the "ruffle" that I spoke about. I didn't wash the second one yet, so it's technically "not blocked" yet.  I don't think it'll make a whole lot of difference. 

The next picture is the "Doris heel" - so named because my knitting buddy Doris ALWAYS does this heel. It's a variation on a k1, sl1 kind of thing. There are always 3 knit stitches at the beginning and end of the rows. I think this makes a lovely heel and she taught it to me. The gussets on the bottom of the sock are also a bit different from each other since I wrote Doris'  down and I realized that I couldn't translate what I wrote! Drat. Anyway, again - not like I'm entering these in the county fair. They're just an experiment. 

The yarn is a worsted weight, and I used a size 3 DPN, which means they can practically stand on their own two soles! But that was the point of the pattern. The author said this would be a lovely tight fabric, and with the 100% wool, very warm and durable. And that's what hiking socks should be like. 

You can see a close-up here of the different cuffs. Remember, too, I didn't wash the top sock it may flatten out a bit with the help of some Eucalan! I might do that this weekend. 

As I got more and more annoyed at the Fluffy Scarf, I started trolling for "simple sock patterns using size 2 dpns" --- and I had one good site that somehow isn't turning up on subsequent searches. Rats... But I will look at a few of the ones I found. They're all basically THIS construction above, but I'm kind of a dork. I want the number of stitches, etc. I'm not a "knit a sock as easily as baking a cake" kinda gal, so I still need specifics. 

So far, the ruffle scarf is coming along. As you can see, ironing was probably a waste of time. LOOK at the twist in that ribbon!!! Urggggggggghhhhhhhh. The ball band said "you can use one or two balls of yarn, depending on how long you want your scarf." It's a good thing my mom is short. I wouldn't knit this as a 2-ball scarf for anything!!

The gal in the YouTube said she wound hers over a toilet paper roll. Do you think that I could find an empty TP roll ANYWHERE in my house?? Nope. Normally, I could find one but not when I needed it.

Though I guess it's always more efficient to find a FULL toilet paper roll when you need it, right? 

One thing I will tell you on this fluffy scarf: use wooden needles. The ones in the picture are beautiful birch needles that I bought for the "Ugly Duckling" scarf that I'm still puttering with. That one was the lace-weight yarn knitted on size 7 needles so you have a very open fabric. It turns out that that project is much better on a set of size 7 Addi Turbo (16") circulars. The lace-weight yarn didn't need a lot of "grip" but this stuff here really does! 

Sorry for the "faded" look of the pics. I love my Nokia Lumia and when I bought it, I was aware of the "camera sucks" reviews... But it's good in a pinch. 

Till next time, I'm going to slog away on that scarf for a bit more...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Catching Up...

Wedding Cake

There's been a lot going on. Some good, some sad. The good news: my sister got married to the man of her dreams. They are certainly a well-matched pair! So after the bus trip, I made her wedding cake.

Of course, it was only for 30 people or so, so it wasn't a big deal. While I wish I had been there to see her see the cake, I couldn't be. I was at a previously set-in-stone training session and frankly, with my schedule, I didn't have anywhere else to stick in a make-up if I had missed the training. And Hubby, love though he is, says, "Oh, she liked it." Details, dude... I need DETAILS of her reaction!!! Men.

However, my mom knew what I wanted to hear and she told me that Sis gasped and said, "It's exactly what I wanted. How did she know that?" Well, I know my sister, and when she said, "I want simple" it was easy to comply. She's not a girly-girl. Funny, she used to be! But she's got simpler tastes recently. So, it was devil's food, with chocolate buttercream filling (groom's request) and my "everyone loves it" buttercream icing. The flowers and butterflies are silk. She carried a small bouquet of the lavender roses.

Apparently, when she and the groom cut it, she almost dropped the slice on the floor. I wish I would've been there to see know I would've given her grief!

Fluffy scarf in progress
Today, I'm wearing my fish-button-bolero, and thanks to the weight loss, it's kind of swimming on me, but I'm enjoying wearing something I made that's not a scarf! I'm in the midst of knitting one of those Starbella scarves for my mom. On a tip from a lady on the tour bus, I spent an hour or so of my knitting life IRONING the mesh ribbon yarn. Yes, ironing. And you know what? It still curls!! Urgh...I could be making something that I have in stash, but my mom fell in "serious like" with the one the lady on the tour bus was knitting, so in a moment of weakness (will I ever learn???) I said, "Yeah, that shouldn't be too hard."

It's a pain in the butt. I can't understand those folks who said, "Oh, I made 25 of these for Christmas gifts." I swear to  you - I heard it while I was getting my hair cut. What in the world?? And the directions on the ball band aren't exactly clear. Pull out a short length and pull ribbon width-wise to open up. To knit, insert needle into a loop and pull only the loop through the stitch on your needle. Work one stitch with each loop."

Okay...but how do you cast on, and more importantly, how do you bind this bugger off??? I hope my mom likes it. I may (just MAY) make one for Kid #1's girlfriend, though I've already done a couple of knitted things for her. Or I may make one and donate it to a charity auction, since I was stupid enough to buy 2 balls of this crud.

Imagine a pair...
On another, happier note, my hiking socks are done. Of course, since it hit 91* yesterday, I'm finally done with 100% wool socks! Here's what they look like. I did a bit of different work on the top of the second sock, and I think I may make that a habit. Instead of starting in the K1, P1 rib, I did a row of straight knit. That loosens the top band just a hair, and I think that'll be good for the "biker's calves" I have. If you do a couple rows of the straight knit, it makes a nice "ruffle" on the top that's not too floofy and makes the top of the sock fit a bit better. Of course, I can't find the picture, so just use your imagination. This is Cascade 220 heather. I love the color and while you had to buy 2 skeins, I have enough left so that if I bought ONE more skein perhaps in a different color, I could do contrasting cuffs/heels/toes. Not sure yet. Will have to scout that one out. I absolutely love the Kollage square DPNs. I bought a pair for a skein of madelainetosh that I'll put to good use with a nice pair of socks. Maybe then, too, I'll do a different toe: swirl or something. I have a ton of sock books; time to use them!

Safe spot...
And here's what my parking lot looks like today. It's week 3 of "cop training." I have the safest campus in the state right about now! It's been fun having them here. They go from facility to facility to do the training, so as to expand their training base; you don't necessarily want a lot of your patrol out in training far away so if you have local sites, that makes it easier.

And now for the sad stuff. I have an online knitter friend, Mary Lynn. She has started hospice care. She's got lymphoma. I can only aspire to the kind of grace she's exhibiting. She was going through another round of chemo and apparently took a turn for the worse. The chemo was in a port and she suddenly got a fever; they believe the port may have become infected, and you know with a weakened immune system, anything can happen. She is at home, surrounded by her loving family and with a view out her window of her beloved Tennessee River. That's how she planned it, and that's how it's happening. What a blessing indeed. 

This comes up alongside the one-year anniversary of my friend Sonda's death from melanoma. It's going to be a rough couple of weeks here.

Do I smell CAKE??
Madame Tippi and I have the summer off. However, to keep up the spirits of the kids at Lewis, we've posted a series of pictures. The latest one is this one.  We have one of her in a mortarboard, so that will happen this weekend. 

Over Mother's Day weekend, we finished the garden, and Hubby tore out the ailing clematis, replacing it and the arbors with 2 lovely lilac bushes. The veg garden consists of tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, shallots, carrots, cukes and some herbs. I've started dill and lime basil (!) from seed. My French Tarragon came back and I planted some "spicy oregano" in a pot in the front. 

Now to find the 2 hummingbird feeders that went MIA. They're here somewhere...for now, though, we have one up. We'll see what we did with the others.

We got our indigo bunting back, along with a pair of rose-crested grosbeaks, and a black-capped grosbeak. And red-wing blackbirds by the ton. No blue jays yet, though I hear them. Oh, and on my way in to work today, I saw a bat heading for naptime! 

Otherwise, I'm just trying to find time to re-learn some new guitar patterns, work on yoga homework, figure out what project I want to do next, working on that mindless scarf. And planning some trips on the bike, provided Mother Nature stops having hot flashes.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Sea Islands...

So in a fit of insanity, I agreed to get on a Mayflower bus with my mom and take a week-long trip to the Sea Islands. Of course, in the meantime, my sister decides to get married and my nephew + wife have their twins... But anyway, I'm getting on a bus with my mom.

Man O War
Here's a quick recap of the trip. First rule: NEVER SHARE A ROOM!!! Seriously, that was a bad idea. I'm very low-maintenance (at least I think so...Hubby might have other thoughts), and I can get ready in a flash. She can't. And we have opposite sleeping habits. And I overdosed on HGTV(only because that was the only decent thing on the hotel televisions...).

Icelandic horse
Our first stop was the Kentucky Horse Park, at which, because I'm a horse nut, I could've spent a couple of days.  We got to see 2 former Derby winners, Funny Cide and Go for Gin. And I got up close with an Icelandic horse. I'm making the pictures small, because there were a lot of them! This fella was really friendly and I got a sniff and was allowed to cuddle his head for a while before he went back to grazing. They also had a barn full of draft horses, and I think that I impressed our tour guide because I really am a horse nut. I know breeds and I know enough about the Derby to be somewhat intelligent in a conversation. The horse museum was interesting, though it was disconcerting to see that the "models" were donated horses that were taxidermied. There were numerous artifacts and I was also amazed at the sculptures everywhere. Did you know that Man O War is the only horse buried there, intact? Usually, they bury the head, heart and hooves (ick). But because Man O War was "such a horse" -- he's there in his entirety.

Cotton Exchange
So then we went through the south, including Savannah, Charleston, and then the Sea Islands. I'll spare you the 300+ photos I took (!) and show you some of my favorites. The building here is the Cotton Exchange in Savannah. Beautiful town. Parks all over the place. Spanish Moss hanging from trees like crazy. We took a short space of time on their River Street, and then did a trolley tour. The tour gave you a "3,000 feet" overview - just highlights, and a taste of what you might want to do at another visit.

Waving Girl
Saw the Waving Girl statue on the seawall. The Waving Girl is a local legend: she was the sweetheart of a sailor. He left and she went, every day, for ages, to wave at the boats, thinking that one day her beau would come back. He never did, but she continued, for nearly 40 years, to wave. A statue was erected on the spot where she waved and they dedicated it to her on her 90th birthday. Ships coming from all over the world into the port knew to look for her. Lots of old buildings. Lots of azalea. Funky restaurants and a lot of "tourist" things, but also some nice inns that, if we wanted to, we could stay at for a longer visit to this city. I can see why Gen. Sherman didn't want to burn this city.

Next was my favorite area: the islands and Charleston. I lived in VA for quite a while, and while Carolinians will tell you that VA isn't "really" the south, if you live NORTH of the Mason-Dixon line, Virginia really is quite southern, though not as much as the Carolinas. The large military presence lends a more cosmopolitan air to the area and in Charleston there was much more "southern charm" than I came to know in VA.
Carriage rides available
We were lucky enough that there wasn't a lot of heat and humidity. People were complaining of the chill, but I've lived in that - so no thanks!  We had several hours to look at the Charleston Market (tourist trap) and we had lunch in a little bistro called "Henry's" where I was able to sit at an open window and smell the sea, the horses, and my she-crab soup! What else could you want? Oh, a sweetgrass basket, which I did buy at the plantation (see pics below). I don't have a shot of the basket, but I had already forewarned Hubby that I was going to buy one. I didn't take a lot of pictures in Charleston because we did take a bus tour. "Here's Rainbow Row" on a bus really isn't effective because half the time you either have a light pole in your view or you're on the wrong side of the bus!

Boone Plantation

I have to say, I got my fill of seafood - REAL seafood. But the only "green" was the resurrection fern on the live oaks and the iceberg lettuce. I was overly exposed to fried and rich foods. I have to detox!!

Back yard tenant
After Charleston, we headed to Boone Plantation. Beautiful and sobering.  Saw the slave quarters: The ones for the "house slaves" were of brick. The "field slaves" lived in wooden shacks which have long since disappeared. The plantation is occupied, and the family lives in the top 2 floors. There is a quick tour of the downstairs, and then you have run of the grounds. Well, you're also sharing it with fire ants and this critter, who occupied part of one of the lakes on the property! The tour guide said that "we'll occasionally feed him a tourist" just to make a point when one idiot asked if she could get off the wagon to feed it something.  Really. I can't make this stuff up. "Why don't alligators eat divorced people?"  (wait for it...)

"Because they're bitter." ba-dum-dum

Hunting Island Light
The Sea Islands were beautiful. Again, chilly, but that's ok. We climbed to the top of the Hunting Island lighthouse. I had to. There was no way I was going to let my 75-year-old mother beat me!!! Took some great pictures, and enjoyed being in a lovely area. The Hunting Island light has been moved 3 times. It was burned down during the Civil War (or "the late unpleasantness" as they call it down there...). They're thinking they'll have to move it again soon because of erosion. It's modular (ahead of its time again!) and so it'll be easily moved when it's time. The park we drove through was not meant for 40-foot tour buses, and the roads were quite narrow. But that's ok. The landscape was gorgeous. Almost as lovely as the mountains!

Resurrection fern on live oak
Here's a shot of that resurrection fern I was talking about. It lives on the live oaks, as does Spanish Moss. Resurrection fern is on the trees. It comes out when it rains, and then when it gets dry, the fern disappears.  Spanish Moss, for those who are interested, is NOT a parasite. It's like an orchid where there's a symbiotic relationship between the moss and the host tree. And in another bit of trivia which will win you a contest, do you know where the phrase "don't let the bedbugs bite" came from?

Well, those early settlers used the Spanish Moss to fill their mattresses. In itself, there's nothing wrong with it. In clumps? Chiggers. Chiggers bite... My mom went around scratching her head because she was convinced they were dropping down out of the trees onto her head!

Single House
We spent a couple of days in Beaufort, SC. Now, I was going around pronouncing it "Bow-fort" like the French "beau." Wrong.... There is a "Bow-fort." It's in North Carolina, which I was told kindly from a tour guide. This one in South Carolina is "Beew-frt" (that's the phonetic pronunciation). Another charming city, if you don't mind that when it's 100% humidity, it's not necessarily raining. The air's just so damp that you chew on it. This picture is of a particular type of house called a "single." It's a house where it's one room wide and 2 rooms tall. I wish we could've gone into one.  
Doc the wonder horse

The hero of the tour was "Doc" the carriage horse. He has beautiful blue eyes and is a real character. When he was younger, Doc was silly enough to get himself into trouble in the marshes and he nearly drowned. After a heroic rescue effort, he was rushed over 100 miles to the closest equine hospital and they didn't think he would make it. He's nearly 30 years old now... What a trouper! He is very smart; knows his traffic lights, and knows to avoid potholes. And he will totally ignore you if his driver is holding a carrot!

Appalachian Trail
We went to Pidgeon Forge. A total tourist trap. But...there were the Smoky Mountains! We got up a little over 5,000 feet, stood on the state line, and I did a short stint on the Appalachian Trail. I want to do more, and this is certainly a trip we'll make sometime soon.

Oh, I forgot -- we did take a boat trip in Beaufort -- on the Prince of Tides. Yes, this is Pat Conroy territory. I know I took a picture of his house, but I can't figure out which one it is!!

The boat captain was very funny and knew his stuff. He was the one who corrected my pronunciation.

Fresh oysters!
Here's a shot of oysters as fresh as you'll ever see them. And the bird is the endangered Oystercatcher. We also saw bottlenose dolphins - a mom and baby. And we enjoyed fresh seafood for dinner. Then came the Heimlich... True story. But for now, let's stick with the pictures. The oyster bed is on the right, and the bird is on the left. There were lots of boats out, we saw the huge new bridge, and it was odd to me that people on the tour boat were all bundled up. Honestly, the breeze off the water was very bracing. I loved it. I realized how much I missed it, but again -- thoughts of 90-100*+ temps and 100% humidity? That sobered me up a lot!

Pied Oystercatcher

The Heimlich: One of our dinners on the tour involved a lovely restaurant and we had a fixed menu. Choice of shrimp, prime rib or grouper. Why anyone would eat beef in seafood country was always a question for me... Anyway, one of our table-mates had the prime rib; a lovely elderly lady. She was very careful in cutting up her dinner and careful in her eating habits. But somehow, a chunk of prime rib got down the wrong pipe. My mom whapped me on the arm and said, "Do something!" Her daughter, who was with her, was patting her on the back. You shouldn't do that, obviously. I got up and ran around the table, hauled her up onto her feet and gave her a couple of good squeezes. She fought back!! Luckily, one of the servers there has a "day job" in the local ER as a nurse. She took over, and the elderly lady fought her, too!! Eventually, though, we got her fixed up. I was afraid we'd broken a rib, and she was sore for a couple of days, but like her daughter said: "Better sore than dead."

Needless to say, I had a lovely filet of grouper there and lost my appetite...

Before and After Scarf
What did I do on those long bus rides? I worked on the Before and After scarf. Here's what it looks like now. It's coming along. It was a sanity-saver on this trip! The bag is one I borrowed from a friend - she'd used it on a similar kind of trip and it's a great knitting accessory - nicely squishable and pretty impervious to tears, spills or any kind of destruction except perhaps fire! I will be ordering one of them for shoving in the purse. It's the nylon rip-stop stuff. I have fabric bags, but this is also less bulky.

Again, the scarf looks like "nothing much" now, but it'll be gorgeous after blocking.

Live oak outside Penn School
So we headed home. I was glad to have been there, but even more glad to be home. But I'll leave you with this parting photo of an ancient live oak. This was taken at Penn School - a historic school which educated the black population on the island. It was a museum and they asked that we refrain from taking pictures inside. It was an interesting place and a great history on the Gullah people. The education was very practical: the morning was all academic and the afternoon was what they called "industrial" in that they were taught the 3 Rs and then a trade. It was ahead of its time for not only educating blacks but in the format of the education. Started by a woman. Of course!

Don't scratch. The bugs won't fall on your head.