Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In the Beginning

The flight from Boston was only 5 hours, bringing us into Keflavik at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday. The sun was shining in a bright blue sky and work was far away. As soon as we stepped outside, however, we thought perhaps we'd made a big mistake. The wind blew hard and steady from somewhere. I could barely hang on to my suitcase on the way to the car.

The drive from Keflavik airport to Rejkyavik is quite barren, belying the beautiful scenery that is so abundant in the rest of the country. We were driving to Hveragerði which meant that we had to skirt the city and veer east. I don't know about you, but driving through a strange city on a mind full of doubt after a sleepless night generally results in wrong turns, and well, stress.

From the sea, the mountains, or the glaciers, it didn't matter. The wind came at us like a non stop train. This went on for 2 days. It began to remind me of another island vacation in the Atlantic where the wind was so relentless that after 2 weeks I was having nightmares about being trapped in an endlessly blowing field of wheat. And now this. Inwardly we were both quite desperate. Thankfully, at sunset on the second day, the wind died down completely.

Here is how Hveragerði looked to me as we were driving in on the first day. Not a very inspiring photo, but it reflects my mood at the time. H. turns out to be a very interesting town.

The town is built on top of hot springs. The houses are heated by the hot water from underground and everyone has hot tubs full of lovely spring water. There are two swimming pools there despite the fact that there are only about 2000 inhabitants: the municipal pool and a pool associated with a clinic that also has old fashioned mud baths. The town is known for it's green houses which produce vegetables and flowers for the country. The people who live there are very proud of their trees and shrubs which they careully prune and cultivate to keep them strong. I think it must be very difficult to grow trees so close to the Arctic Circle. Poets, painters and writers lived in the town in the mid 20th century and have left their mark there. In the hills above the town, there are lovely walks. Here you can see the steam rising up from the ground.

We rented a small apartment at the Frumskogar Guest House and took advantage of the breakfast offered there each morning. It is an excellent place to stay. You can read about the resident poets on their web site and see some more pictures there. This is where we based ourselves for the better part of two weeks. On the first day we checked out the town and the springs and then drove to Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri on the coast. There we dined on the legendary lobster soup at the restaurant Hafið bláa . Some places were rather picturesque. Click to see the whole piture:

And Mary Lou, we saw these people riding horses that first day near the coast. The Icelandic horses are small and strong. Very special indeed. Again, click to see the whole picture:

I've been away, and now I'm back

Two weeks in Iceland with a car. No phone, no internet, no tv, newspaper, radio. None of it. Oh, and especially no pollen. Up in the morning to a good breakfast.

Hit the road, hike all day through the volcanic landscape, walking off the stress of work and home...

Then into a hot tub full of spring water heated naturally underground, followed by dinner and an excellent sleep. Repeat 14 times.

Oh, and shopping....

This trip is in my top three best ever. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Progress on the Pine Tree Palatine

I bet you forgot I was even knitting the Pine Tree Palatine. I put it on waste yarn last Fall when I  went to England, but never worked on it again until this March. It was tricky to figure out where I had left off and what size needles I had been using. Thanks to my project page on Ravelry, it didn't take me too long to figure it out. I left off on row 103, at the end of the first chart. That chart does have a well defined repeat outlined in red, but it's the last one which does. The others are all spread across two pages and require a magnifying glass to read. My theory is that Russian knitters have memorized the knitting of the various traditional motifs to such an extent that they think things like, OKAY, I've done with that mouse. Now I'll just knit past these trees and knit a line in this strawberry. They know what they're doing. They're not used to following patterns. They just do it. The rest of us struggle to catch up.

With Galina's patterns I must give myself over to the concept of knitting motifs. It's time to start the next line from the next motif when I find that have arrived at a point above a particular yo a few lines below, and not because I have painstakingly counted 70 stitches from the one before. I feel insecure. I want to see the numbers. I want to see well defined repeats in bold red on the chart. For me, this is like walking on a tight rope. I am walking on it anyway.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Here is my renovated Lopapeysa.

I cut up the front with small scissors.

I think it looks much better as a cardigan than it did as a pullover.

Here's what the cut edge looked like before I trimmed and finished it.

Mattress stitch....

I'm quite happy with the results. The armholes are low, but there is plenty of room to move around. I did a line of single crochet in dark brown along the bottom hem to finish it off.

Now James, send me your real measurements and I'll make one for you that fits!

Hang on, almost there...

Just look at this! It's typical for our area. One day it's Spring and the forsythia is trying like h-ll to bloom, the nextday, snow and 26 F/ -3 C...

Last night, I did cut up the front of my Lopapeysa, but I'm still stitching on it. I'll post photos later today or tomorrow,

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nip Tuck: 21

One freezing day earlier this winter, I came home from work to find a parcel from my brother. I knew what was in it and seeing that the house had not yet quite warmed up to an acceptable temperature, I ripped it open and donned the contents:

This is Pattern no. 21 from the Istex Lopi  Book No. 21. I knit it several years ago for my brother James at the behest of our sisters. Now James is rather tall, big even, you might say, but he's not this big. The sweater is 48 inches around at the chest and measures 29 inches from the neck to the hem. The yoke ends around  a normal person's waistline. Yes, at the encouragement of persons who shall remain nameless, I had knit the XXL size of this man's Lopi sweater.  Maybe it would have fit Eric the Red or Leif the Lucky or some other Viking, but it did not fit my brother. 

James cared for it for several years with nary a peep until one day last summer when I asked him how it was faring. He politely admitted that it didn't fit him. After much um-ing and er-ing and passage of time, as well as many promises of another sweater, it finally turned up in the mail. Come to think of it, the promises of another sweater may have slowed things down. Note to self.

Now, I decided that all was not lost and that with some adjustments it could make a decent jacket for a woman, a jacket with dolman sleeves that is. Oh look. The dolman sleeve was a fall trend. Last year. 

Yes! And into the sewing machine it went:

Then out came the scissors and off came the cuffs:

You can read about cutting up your knitting and put it back together all over the place in books and on the web, but here's a photo of the operation in progress. I carefully caught one loop of each stitch on a spare piece of yarn at the level I wanted to cut and then I cut one row below it:

Then I transferred the stitches onto dpn's and knit the new cuff:

Somewhere in the middle of all these activities, I picked up and knit the button bands on top of two lines of single crochet. Here's where things stand now: 

Will this be another horrible waste of time and material? Stay tuned.

In Nature
We are expecting Winter back tomorrow along with 1 to 2 inches of snow.  Though Spring is slow to come, today was gorgeous. Here's the garden:

And here is a pic of my neighbour's rather spectular Lenten Roses, one of the few things blooming. Click to embiggen: