The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Seattle – a weekend escape

I slipped away for a quick weekend escape to Seattle. An hour and change drive + a 35 minute ferry ride deposits me into another world. I adore small town life. But sometimes I crave time in the city.

I knew there would be lights to see.

A wall of antique sewing machines-an unexpected sight.

This delightful, joyful procession caught me by surprise.

So Much Yarn shop’s holiday display. Cute! I’ll likely pick up a live tree this year. I could make some mini skein ornaments.

I sauntered down to the market at perhaps the worst time. It was packed. They were lighting the tree.

Watched the gals at Beechers make cheese then indulged in a dish of Mac n cheese.

Indulged in a Top Pot donut. Mmmm!

This was interesting. There were two mounted police training their horses. They were repeatedly stopping and backing them up. A yappy little dog started in on them and they intentionally walked over next to it. I can’t believe how tolerant those horses were of traffic and that dog. Incredible!

Beautiful stonework on the Federal building.

Though I enjoy my rare trips over there, it’s still great to cross back over to home.

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Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat-Part Three of Three – On the Street in Tacoma

The hotel and festival are smack dab in the middle of an interesting downtown area. I set out a couple times to explore and eat.  What a cool spot!  I can’t wait to return – even as an overnighter. Tacoma’s about an hour and 30 from home traffic depending-

Some sights within just a few block radius from the Murano Hotel where we stayed:

I live in a small town. Which I love and wouldn’t trade. Sometimes I need the re-charge that city exploration provides.

I found the lovliest glass buttons in this antique shop filed with curiosities-

Curiosities as such-

Retired store signs, displays, lighting, furniture-

A classic theater building-

On the last day I had just a couple hours to spare so I skipped full entrance to the Chihuly Museum. I wanted to save that for a time I could really take my time.

The walk around it, however, has many outdoor installations-

In the ceiling of the overpass bridge-

I fell hard for the copper on the old Union Station building, now a District Courthouse.

And then back to class…

I can’t wait to return to explore Tacoma some more!

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Madrona Part Two of Three – Stephanie Pearl McPhee – Lightning Fast Knitting – And restrained (somewhat) stash acquisition.

The last class I took at Madrona was from Stephanie Pearl McPhee, AKA the Yarn Harlot, a woman whose blog I’ve been following since 2007.

What a treat to finally take a course from her.  Via historical photos detailing a timeline of knitting, she explained how knitting sustained families and how British families accomplished knitting 2 pairs of socks per week per person back when.  It was all about efficiency.  In time, knitting became more restrained, more lady-like and  the mechanics that promoted efficiency were frowned upon.  Hand and body positioning changed to meet society’s requirements.

Show us the palm of your hands while knitting?  For shame! Walk while knitting?  Gasp! That’s for peasants…

Thus, the norms of knitting changed which slowed pace and efficiency.

Stephanie then taught us tidbits about hand positioning, arm motion, knitting belts, walking while knitting, how to carry it on your person, yarn organization, choosing continental vs English method (picking vs throwing) depending on the project (in the round? colorwork?  flat?) and being willing to use both. She discussed varying your projects’ yarn weight to cut back on fatigue and injury (eg: socks and worsted weight item and something bulky) which was also a concept Carson touted in his ergonomics course.

Then,  she put on her knitting belt and walked around the room knitting, and all fell silent. The speed and efficiency of her knitting was astounding. This is called Lever Knitting. 

In this video she is using DPNS on a sock. I grabbed this video off YouTube and it shows the technique well and the gal provides interpretation of it. Very interesting:

I tried the technique with a pair of long straight needles  (had to scrounge to find a pair, haven’t deviated from circulars in ages), one tucked into my right armpit.

It felt super-awkward but really neat-

Here’s Hazel Tindall, the worlds fastest knitter, using the lever technique and her knitting belt:

This is a technique I’d like to delve into and try more.

On to the Stash Acquisition part.

The vendors market was glorious! One could find yarn, fiber, notions, handmade needles, all sorts of things. I focused my shopping on unusual and locally or small-batch produced yarn.  So many choices.

The grey wooly yarn is from Island Fibers on Lopez Island up here in the San Juan Islands. It’s soft but rustic. 1600 yards will easily yield a lovely cardigan. I bought it with Naima or Aileas in mind. To the right, Local Colors Rambouillet Fingering weight, all plant dyed, will combine for a lovely shawl.

I’ve yet to knit with cormo, a lofty, plump and deliciously squishy wool. The greenish blue yarn on the left is from Sincere Sheep and begs to be something very cabled, probably a hat. In the middle, the joyfully colored skein is a DK weight yarn by Fancy Image Yarn. Myra Garcia has an eye for color and I was so glad to meet her. This lovely is destined to become a little cardi for my niece Lily, the colors every bit as bubbly as she is.  The luscious froth of moody blues on the right is sport weight alpaca/merino by Black Wolf Ranch out of Montana.  It’s marinating.

Dat’s it!  I used restraint.  I’d love to go next year.

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Orcas Island-Day One-The Journey

Pete’s son Zac came up from FL last week. Wanting to share an adventure with him, and show him a beautiful part of WA, I planned a trip to Orcas Island.

We set off from Anacortes. It’s a beautiful sailing through a watery world.


Orcas Island looks like two saddlebags.  53 square miles of

Orcas Landing welcomes the ferry.

Realizing some blog readers may have never set foot on a ferry I figured I’d include a photo of one. This one is landing to receive off-island traffic.


Once we disembarked, with a bit of time until we could check into our lodging, we explored Deer Harbor.  The slow season, the harbor was quiet.


At low tide, there were some critters to check out.

The VRBO cottage, the Dragonfly Cottage at Dragonfly Farm was adorable and comfortable.   It felt like a hobbit home. It backs up to Turtleback Preserve where we hiked the next day.

The property has a view across a valley of farms.  The Orcas landscape is patched with farms, thick woods and coastline.

An evening light, blurry photo looking across the valley.


A pond with kayaks beckoned but I did not know they were up for use.

Three hens entertained me.

Spring is starting!


So cozy. So comfy. This cottage was a great find. The next day, a hike among old oaks.


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Jefferson County Farm Tour – Part Two

Marrowstone is a beautiful island with distinctive spaces. Bluffs and beaches rim the island.   A patchwork of cleared farmland and thick woods blanket the rest. I hike and visit the beaches here often.

We were sure to share this special place with my visiting friend.

My first trip ever to Port Townsend included a friend taking me around the farm tour.  The deal was sealed after that. I was hooked!

Here are pics from one stop featuring the One Straw Ranch and WSU Twin Vista Ranch. The Organic Seed Alliance also had a booth set up.  I found a video on WSU’s website that records speakers during the dedication festivities at the ranch.



Unprocessed Romney fiber is their specialty.


Fleece and yarns with a name tag.


This was a real hands on stop which we enjoyed.  I’ve never had quail eggs. They’re so wee!


I’d only seen wild California quails not domestic ones.


One furry bear meets another. Pete and the barn cat really hit it off. It was gas seeing such a huge cat sponging the love off him.  Such a sweet sight.


I really fell hard for this place. We talk about having a patch of acreage ourselves someday.  Pete loves outdoor work, making things, and he’s a helluva gardener with some experience working on farms. I’m smitten by the romantic aspect of it.  And I’d love more of that sort of honest work that produces food.  Those long summer days, when we stumble in after nine PM from the garden, are some of my happiest.

But I also see the work, and some restrictions to travel when you have such responsibility. Conflicted thoughts…


Old apple orchards and a fine table and flower garden were obviously lovingly tended.




Remember my mentioning quinoa in my last post? Here’s what it looks like growing.  Not sure what the flags are for. Being afiliated with Wash. State University I wonder if there was some seed testing in progress? The light was getting odd and it was hard to get the correct color of the plants which was more saturated than this.


There was a fenced off area with a few of the excavators (hogs).  Seriously. They turn and fertilize and loosen up that soil. How clever to have that benefit.


A calf.



And turkeys. Yum!  I know birds are for eating and not just eggs. I’d have a tough time slaughtering them though I know it’s necessary.  I now know the difference between eating commercially produced vs free-range turkey and I won’t go back.


We finished up our Farm Tour with a stop at Fort Flagler (look for a post on this park coming soon) to share the expansive view across the water to Port Townsend with Anise. But the rain came and cloaked it all. And soaked us.

Can’t wait for next years tour!

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Jefferson County Farm Tour 2015- Part One

How about some summer-y farm and garden and fiber photos to brighten up your winter?

September  brought the annual Jefferson Farm Tour. A dear friend was visiting, such great timing.  Using their handy map I plotted out a day’s excursion for us culminating in a short walk through Fort Flagler.

First stop was Ona True Farm run by Max and Chris, two Wisconsin transplants. Their tour included a Max guided walk where he explained his forward-thinking approach to farming, especially water conservation techniques.

A favorite site of mine was the garlic drying loft. I load up on their garlic at the farmers market (on hiatus until March.)  We planted some of his cloves.

A blurred pic. Sorry!


Quinoa has a new presence on the Peninsula.  Here the gals show a way to winnow away dirt and debris from the seeds.  I found a link to information on the plants history, how to grow it and prepare it once harvested.


Max and Chris have a hoop house of ginger. Bringing this home from them is always a treat.  It flavored some of my peach jam this summer. A few slices in hot water is tasty.


Next stop was Amity Farm, a pretty little farm, out on Discovery Road.  The barn’s built from the trees cleared off the land.  They have sheep, angora rabbits, chickens and alpaca.

And a sheep watch-dog that bonded with Pete.

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There were spinning demos.  I don’t spin. I haven’t fallen down that rabbit hole.


Speaking of rabbits, here’s an angora.  Yes, it really is as soft as it looks.


Under multiple canopies, Amity hosts several spinners and hand-dyers.

Eye candy:

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My LYS Bazaar Girls carries Local Color Fiber Studio yarns. I’ve yet to knit with it. (This is the year of wading through stash…I mean it!)


I wanted to climb up on the table and stretch out.


See the sheep’s name and photo? That I get a kick out of.


Look at that face!


Next leg of the trip took us over to Marrowstone Island to tour a unique farm.  More on that later-

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Pacific Northwest Part 6 of ? – Finally! Getting Above the Trees in Olympic Nat’l Park

Nearest alpine environment is many hours away from my home. I miss getting above treeline.  Some of the hills here in Marin are grassy, bald and open with stunning views.

But nothing puts a hectic, spinning life into its rightful, grounded place like standing high atop a mountain and seeing the lay of the land spread out in all directions.

I had a few hours before catching the Ferry from Port Angeles, WA over to Victoria, BC.

Wanting a quick alpine fix I drove up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.  Avoiding crowds I drove out Obstruction Point Road.  Narrow and windy (just as I like ’em) the drop offs made me glad I wasn’t a passenger.

A peek down to Port Angeles and at Mt. Baker:

I started up a trail.  My CV system reminded me I wasn’t at sea level.  :  )

With just a short bit of time on hand I walked a ways out.  Mt. Olympus standing tall:

Found a quiet spot to sit, eat lunch and make a few spins around my Pinata Socks.

Then, reluctantly walked out.

Olympic National Park, what a treasure!  Mountains, rain forest  beaches.