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Vacation Tuesday October 19 – Chimney Rock

Tuesday morning was so clear, bright, and beautiful we decided that it must be the day to go up Chimney Rock.

From the room balcony you can see the River and Chimney Rock. You can barely see the large American Flag on top of the actual Chimney.

After breakfast in town we entered the state park and drove the winding road up to the top.  Only about 8 cars had preceded us and we were able to park immediately in front of the gift shop.

The penny stamping machine caught my eye and we both had to make a souvenir of our visit.  A couple of pictures at that altitude and we were ready to brave the long dark tunnel to elevators.  Naw, it wasn’t dark at all with the lighting that displayed the texture of the solid rock walls

The tunnel to the elevator

We were able to get on the next elevator and swooshed to the top exiting in another gift shop and snack bar.  Well, nearly the top. A stairway of 44 steps remains to arrive at the Chimney portion of the mountain.  An outside eating area provided the first unimpeded view of the valley, Lake Lure, and mountain ridges in the distance.

Wow - what a view, and we can still get a little higher.

Up the 44 steps and although the top of the chimney is a pretty good size, it feels strange to be standing on a small rocky portion of the mountain.  After a few pictures we went back down the steps and looked for postcards.  You know how hard postcards are to find anymore?  Instead of 50 different views to choose from, only a dozen were available, and it was the same everywhere we went.  While sis was shopping I had a chance to write postcards to family and a friend or two while sitting at a table at the snack bar.

After coming down from Chimney Rock, we drove towards Brevard to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and see family.  One of our cousins was hosting a family dinner that night so we could see her whole family-husband, sons,  siblings and their children.  She made some casseroles and soup and was even able to go with us on our drive up Mt. Pisgah.  It was a fun afternoon, chatting and visiting while driving to see just one more overlook filled with leafy trees and mountains.  Ahhh.

Looking Glass Falls was one of the first stops.

Sis got us back to cousin’s home just in time to start meeting all the cousins and little cousins as they arrived for dinner.  What a lovely evening, visiting and getting to know again this NC part of the family.  Of course we exchanged emails and Facebook ID’s to keep in touch.  The kids were intrigued with some of the games and activities sis has on her iPhone.

The drive back to Chimney Rock at night was a bit more challenging than we supposed.  It is sooo easy to take a wrong turn at night.  After getting on the correct road, the iPhone neglected to advise us the road was closed for a bridge repair so we were a bit surprised and apprehensive about the detour.  Once back on the intended road…there was another detour.  It tickled my silly bone but since Sis was driving I wasn’t sure if she would find it as humorous as I did.  But a giggle escaped and we had a good laugh about it.

Before too much longer we were back in the comfortable beds at the Carter Lodge and listening to the sounds of the river.


Vacation 2010 Monday October 18-NC

Sunday night we spent in a hotel just off the interstate in Hendersonville, NC.  We have family nearby and it was a good location to start the next day’s activities.  Dinner was at a nice Italian restaurant on Broad Street and they had the best pesto butter for their bread!  YUM.  As good as the meal was, I could have eaten a meal with bread and that butter and been satisfied.

I am a BIG fan of the Peaches & Creme yarns – the last cotton yarn spun in America from American Cotton, dyed in America by a family owned business.  The factory is located in Old Fort, NC not too far from Asheville.  Sis agreed to let it be our first stop on Monday, and I am so glad we did!

I met a fellow Ravelry member that lives nearby and we were able to see all the colors and different yarns produced by the company and spent some money at the outlet store.

A few of the many colors - too many to choose from!

Here is the yarn we took home.  Sis bought a bagful for the Pink Ladies to knit and crochet baby hats and bibs – I have the rest!

Yarn and thread - what a lovely pile!

Lunch was at Mustard’s nearby and we all enjoyed our meal – then Sis and I hit the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We wanted to get some maps and info and get to the Folk Art Center before it closed.  Success!  Beautiful structure, and just jam packed with all handcrafts you could imagine – pottery, quilting, wood working, weaving. glass work, and more.

Our hotel for the week was a lovely motel right on the river in Chimney Rock, The Carter Lodge.  We could step out on our little balcony and look down on the river and then up to see Chimney Rock!  The room was cozy and the beds were quite comfy and it was a good place to call home for our time in NC.  Believe it or not, it was still light and we ate at a restaurant in town, also overlooking the river.  The food was fantastic – Sis had the chili and it came in a huge bowl and I was a bit jealous I didn’t order it.  She did give me a bit, along with a taste of the cornbread, too.

We watched the sun go down over the mountains and I took one of my favorite photographs


Evening sky over the river


Podcasts I like Part 1

While working on the ebay stuff I like to listen to podcasts.  Some of my favorite podcasters talk about knitting, spinning, and books.  I keep “discovering” new ones because each podcaster likes to mention and discuss the podcasts THEY like to listen to.

In no particular order:

Crafternoon Tea with GrannyG – From New Zealand!  (I can’t believe spell check doesn’t recognize that Zealand is a proper word).  “A fibrecraft podcast from NZ featuring interviews with inspiring people.”  And recipes.  Cooking yummy stuff!  She even prepares fiber for spinning – I love messing with wool.

The Knitmore Girls – “A Mother Daughter Knitting Production”  Jasmin and GiGi share their knitting projects and errors, spinning, sewing, and reviews.  I really enjoy their respect and love for each other that comes through each discussion.  Makes me cherish the memories I have of my mother even more.  Of course,  she would never record her voice because she sounded “too southern” as do I.

CraftLit – Heather O discusses her knitting, life, cooking, and comments on the book portion.  She serially presents a book in audio form from Librivox and discusses the themes, plot, and other information that enhances your understanding and enjoyment of the book.  It is like sitting down with your friend the English teacher over her/his favorite books.  I got hooked on her with Jane Austen and stuck around for Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  It is not a book I would see myself reading (so many books, so little time…) but I am enjoying  the commentary and a few chapters each podcast.  The reader is fantastic.   I am looking forward to going back and “reading” some of the previous books with Heather.

CogKNITive – A Knitting-Psychology Podcast.  Dr. Gemma is a practicing Psychologist in California in both private practice and the prison system.  Each podcast includes a discussion about knitting, crochet, spinning, aspects of her job, and a life strategy.  She organizes a small fiber festival each year at the beginning of October and I wish I was close enough to go.  I love her common sense approach to living life.  Knitmore Girls mentioned her, and I am so glad they did!

I Haz a Cold…Air, that is!

I have cool air in all of my house.  Yippee!!  New Central AC installed today.  I don’t care if it is September and MOST of the hot weather is behind us, I have conditioned, dry air in my house.

The inside air handler is sitting in a pan with a cut off switch so if the condensate pump quits working, the unit will not continue to run and leave water all over the floor.

If you are a local friend of mine, I have the name of great AC people.

I didn’t realize this message hadn’t posted to the world, so the update.  AC went in on 9/13 and a week later I still love it.  It is marvelous.  The only disadvantage is the condensate pump that will ensure all stays dry sounds like an jet engine winding up.  Sitting on an aluminum pan suspended above the floor might do that.  Will be talking to the AC guys about maybe putting it on some cushioning so the vibrations aren’t transmitted directly to the metal pan.

Update on eyes – the new eye is doing great, and I continue to be amazed at the improvement in vision.  My brain has adjusted to seeing with two eyes with different vision.  The new eye has a different perception than the old eye with glasses.  It has been interesting…

Gamble Plantation – Florida State Park

Ahhh.  This is the weather I remember from growing up in Florida.  I am enjoying every moment of it!

The weather in Florida is glorious.  Saturday a few of my knitting group went to the Gamble Plantation, a Florida State Park in easy driving distance. It is believed to be the only surviving antebellum mansion existing in south Florida.  The mansion itself is glowing white and reminds me of a mini-Tara (from Gone With the Wind if you need a bit of a reminder of the reference).  Do check out the link to the state park page. (they have a better picture)  I am not a student of architecture but there is just something appealing about the appearance of the building.

The grounds are right on the “main road” and when you see the white picket fence you know you have arrived. The house makes a great impression and  you know you have arrived at a special place.  I can just imagine riding up on horseback in the sticky heat and seeing the cool white mansion as a place of rest, recovery, and refinement.  A bit of astonishment too of what was built on the frontier.  Over to the right is a tidy gray and white frame house, where some of the family lived once the “big house” became too expensive and impractical for upkeep.  It had been moved from another part of the property to the current location.

There was just enough time before the tour began for us to view the exhibits in the small but informative museum for a perspective of the property, people, and the events through the years.

We were in the first tour group and had a very interesting and knowledgeable docent to show us the house and relay the history of the house and it’s people.  I’ve toured some of the big Louisiana plantations and kind of expected to see somewhat of the same design here.  Entering the house, there is a beautiful (but rather ordinary) wood staircase to your immediate left and a hallway to your right.  No elegant foyer to take your breath away.    The home was built when this part of Florida was the frontier and danger lurked from every direction; not only from lightning, fire, and storms but also from unfriendly folks.  Mr. Gamble designed the structure so there was always an alternate exit or two from any room.

One of the stops on the tour was a workroom that we could not enter as there was damage to the roof above and the ceiling of the room wasn’t stable.  But the docent opened the door and allowed us to look into the deep, dark interior.  And what did we see? A spinning wheel and a skein winder!  I had my camera out and snapped a couple of quick shots before we had to move along.  It was torture to be that close and not be able to inspect more carefully.

The warming kitchen, where the vegetables and side dishes were cooked and plates prepared for serving was fascinating.  It had the odor of wood fires as there had been recent demonstrations and dinner prepared by a famous chef specializing in recreating the techniques and menus of the time.  What a sense of reality that created.  As if a couple of logs added to the coals are all that would be needed to start the meal preparations.  The odd shaped globe in the image below is a coffee roaster!  You really can’t see, but it has a long handle that the cook could turn for even roasting.

The house is decorated with antiques, but not all of them are from the 1850’s era.  Some might find fault with that, but I find it charming – as if each generation left behind their cherished bits and pieces for us to enjoy.  The stories of the acquisition and restoration of some of the pieces is nearly as interesting as the information about the house!

The Cistern was fascinating.  The water collected in there provided safe and clean(er) drinking water than was otherwise available.

You really have to admire what they were able to accomplish with local building materials and the skill to construct a building that has lasted through the years.  Not without quite a bit of work as the building was in serious disrepair (especially after being used as a fertilizer storage barn) and in danger of demolition in the early 1900’s.  Fortunately it was rescued by some women who took the preservation of the site and it’s history as a mission.  The result of their hard work and vision is the bit of irreplaceable history we can take a few moments of our time to tour and visit today.

I do encourage you to make a point of stopping here on a visit to Southwest Florida.

Spinning in Florida

Last week I attended a spinning retreat/camp/gathering in Florida and had the most marvelous time learning new techniques and meeting so many other spinners.  I spin on a spindle and most of the people there were wheel spinners but we are all making fiber twisty to get yarn.  A lot of the techniques are the same and a spindle is “better” in one sense because it is portable.  And lighter!

The vendors had tables and displays full of soft, colorful wools and yarns that begged to be taken home.  You could clearly see the different displays empty as the days went by.  I bit.  I had Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket and just had to buy a few things.

Brother and his family were very generous to me at Christmas and gifted me with about 2.5 lbs of different wools for spinning.  All of it soft, well processed and in deep, rich colors.  I wanted to experiment with the dark navy solid and purchased some dyed merino in a blend of blues.  After spinning each one separately I combined the two together into a two ply yarn with a “Barber pole”  look.  The yarn is 102 yards of soft and squishy.

I have Stuff To Do so better get this out so you all can see something new.  More later!

Knitting for Warmth

Christmas is past, and I was supposed to start knitting for ME now.  Not so fast.  The R2D2 hats I knit for the nephews were quite popular and a couple of people have actually begged me to knit one for them.  The knitting is finished on one, and the second has a good start to it.

I did break in the middle as it was unseasonably COOOOOLD in Florida and I wanted something to help keep me warm IN THE HOUSE.  Yes, I have heat, but my body heard how cold it was outside and refused to listen to the thermostat reading.

Peaches & Creme cotton yarn is one of my favorites and so I tried knitting some hand warmers (fingerless mitts) and a cowl out of two different colorways.  Both turned out and I will be going back to the P&C for warm things again. Some of my buddies on the P&C Ravelry list in the cold north lands (New England states!!!) say they like wearing the cotton items, except when scraping ice off windshields.  BRRRR.

fingerless mitts

Free pattern found through Ravelry, Susie’s Reading Mitts by Janelle Masters (click the link to go to the free pattern off Ravelry).  Of course I felt I had to mess around with it and initially did a ribbing cuff at the top.  Didn’t like it and ripped and reworked in the edging the pattern called for.  The yarn was quite a bit heavier so I cast on 36 stitches with size US 6 knitting needles and worked in the round by Magic Loop. Color is Country Garden (much prettier in person than in the scanned image)

The next item was a cowl, Stacked Eyelet Cowl – I wanted something to keep my neck warm as my short hair wasn’t quite long enough.  An advantage of this pattern is you can pull it up to sink your mouth and nose into the soft warmth or let it accordion low on your neck.  It drapes nicely and the choke factor is quite low with this cowl; I truly hate something pressing on my throat.

cowl from P&C

The yarn is Peaches & Creme Passion and is a lovely mix of gold, peach, coral, lilac, light red..and I keep seeing different shades of each in it.  Simple knit and I started with a cast on of 110 instead of the 120 the pattern called for – again the pattern is written for a finer yarn. I just kept going until it was the size I wanted.

Warm and cozy!  And the temp is finally back up in the 70’s.