Category Archives: Travel

Knit Camp

February again, and time for the 6th annual Kon-O-Kwee knit camp weekend.  If you haven’t been keeping up, the knit camp weekend is held each February at the beautiful YMCA lodge in Zelionople, just less than 1 hour north of the city.  All of our meals are provided and we sleep dorm style with shared bathrooms for the weekend.  Several areas are available to us to sit and knit, crochet, or spin.  If one can set down the needles, the grounds are gorgeous for a nice walk in the snow.

This year I was part of the favors committee.  It was a challenging job with a very small budget.  That meant I had to get really creative.  I took far too many trips to JoAnn Fabrics with coupons in hand for Susan Bates needle gauges and Deborah Norville’s Serenity sock yarn.  I got some yarn deals through Knit Picks and  Highland Alpaca provided some yummy yarn samples and discount coupons.  I turned to eBay for some amazing deals, including a huge lot of rubber o-rings (for use in tattoo guns) to use as stitch markers.  But the best favor, in my opinion, were the fabric needle cases. 

With fabric from my stash and Lisa’s, I took to sewing 58 of these awesome needle organizers designed by my friend Susan.  I love these cases for storing and organizing circular and double-pointed needles.  The metal needle gauge fits perfectly in the larger pockets.  Susan’s design includes a little notions pocket, but I left that out to save a little time (and sanity).

Every year there is an auction at camp and this year I got this awesome entrelac hat knit by Judy P.  I thought I would give it to someone else as a gift, but once I tried it on, I knew it was mine, all mine!

Sadly, I had no projects in mind for the knit weekend and much of what I worked on has been ripped back.  But the best part of this annual retreat is catching up with the many returning knitters anyway.  It’s very inspiring to see all the fabulous knitting projects and the beautiful designs and yarns in the group.  The project that had me rushing home to my stash was the Ten Stitch Twist using sock yarn.  I absolutely love stash busting projects and can’t wait to get this started!


San Francisco, part V

Finally, the final days of my trip to SF with Beth.  First…. THE MAKER FAIRE!

MF us

I specifically planned the SF trip to coincide with the Maker Faire. There are so many words to describe this event:  DIY, kinetic, art, craft, inventive, bizarre, steam punk, musical, flamable, deconstructive, robotic, and big, big big!  The fair is held for two days (we went for one) and it would take at least that to see everything.  I cannot do justice in explaining the whole event.  For that, I would suggest checking the Maker Faire website here.

MF FlamingFlowerHere are some of the things I managed to capture.

When we first entered the event, we were in awe of all the things billowing smoke and fire.  A steam train, a giant flower sculpture, the Crucible’s firetruck…  as we walked around there’d be a sudden blast of fire here or there.

MF Micex


There was a life-sized Mouse Trap, just like the board game.  And, although we never caught it “in action”, it was still something to marvel at and a nice trip back to childhood.  MF MouseTrap

Yep, bathtub, wacky stairs, and boot on a stick… it was all there!

MF Musiciansx


There were many musical acts, and most included an accordian.  According to Beth’s guide book, the accordian is the state instrument for California.  (We cannot find the official state instrument for PA, but we have our theories.)



There were crazy, handmade bicycles MF pen carand several art cars.  One car was full of tiny plastic windmills.  Two little girls were walking away from this car with marks on their fingers squealing “they write!”


Around every corner was another robotic creature walking through the crowd… even replicas of R2D2 beeping and whirling through the crowd.MF R2D2

MF iron creature

It was great to just find a place to sit and watch the “parade” pass by.

MF stiltsMF guys

MF wingsMF windmill

MF car

MF fire dance

One of my favorite parts was the hall containing the kinetic sculptures.  We managed to catch the interview with 5 of the artists and then see the works in action (literally).  I wish I had taken more pictures, especially of the plastic bottle “wave” sculpture by Reuben Margolin.   Here’s a little snippet of video, though. It was truly spectacular and beautiful.  Hung from the ceiling of the convention center, hundreds of plastic, 2-liter bottles moved in a slow wave.

In the same building were many other wonderful sights and sounds and lots of hands-on playing.  I once owned a piano that needed to be deconstructed to be removed from the house.  I was just a teen living at home at the time, but would have loved to have hung on to the portion with the strings.  IMG_9322


My absolute favorite part of the day was when we were sitting on a bench watching and listening to people play on this theremin-type exhibit (I think it was built around a Tesla Coil).  Those eerie sounds made the perfect soundtrack for this creature that suddenly appeared.  So cool!

SF from Ferry comboOn Sunday I took a beautiful ride on the Larkspur ferry from the Ferry Plaza to visit my brother. (Note that San Francisco Fog vs. the bright blue skies across the bay.)

Scott had been preparing his yard for his garden and I arrived just in time to help put everything in the ground.  What a treat!  Squash, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, and lettuces.  And, in true Scott fashion, the garden was a handmade masterpiece of beautiful reused items.  I love the coiled rebar to hold the climbing cucumbers and the iron plant stand as tomato cage.  Take a look:

Scott Garden

TeethAlso in true Scott fashion, he brought out the ugly teeth and made me wear them. Oh, the things my brother can make me do!

And that’s the trip.  Just a sleepless red-eye back to the ‘Burgh, and then it was June.

San Francisco, part IV

Beth and I had been getting by really nicely with public transportation since landing in San Francisco, but on Friday we rented a little, red Ford Focus to get us to Wine Country.  Our only sure destination was Cornerstone Gardens.  Each garden plot at Cornerstone Gardens was designed by a different landscape architect or designer.  There were whimsical gardens, like the field of hundreds of plastic, flower pinwheels blowing in the wind.  Political gardens, like the garden reflecting immigrant workers tending crops in the fields.  Sophisticated gardens, reflective gardens, gardens for sitting, gardens for climbing.  Each unique and beautiful.


Within the Cornerstone complex we also found a gift shop, garden shop, cafe, gallery, salvage shop, and wine tasting.  We did a tasting at Artesa and each walked away with a bottle of 2006 Albariño.  After grabbing some lunch we head out to check out some wineries in Sonoma.  It was late and wineries were starting to close, but we managed one more tasting at a winery owned by the manager of the Doobie Brothers.  Photos and memorabilia of the band were all over the tasting room at B.R. Cohn.  They even had a Doobie Brothers red for tasting.  By this time my allergies were full blown (thanks to one particular grassy plot at Cornerstone), so I kept my sampling to white only.  (I am allergic to reds.)  Beth took advantage of the generous pourer and sampled several wines, but none seemed worth the hassle of trying to get home on the plane.  As we headed back to the city, we took advantage of the use of the car and hit the Marin Headlands for some spectacular bridge and city views.

GG Bridge small

San Francisco, part III

CaAcadOfScienceOn Wednesday we went to Golden Gate Park to tour the California Academy of Sciences.  After paying a pricey entrance fee we walked about 50 feet inside the building when the fire alarm went off.  ARGH!  Why all the bad luck?!  We had to wait outside for quite a while and just when we were ready to bag the whole idea, the firemen cleared the building for re-entry.  Inside we found a glass-walled lab with a live video feed showing animals being taxidermied which was very interesting.  We spent most of the time in the “Rain Forests of the World”, a spiraling walkway through three levels of examples of rain forests.  There were great examples of colorful live exotic poisonous frogs and lizards, but most exciting were the birds and butterflies flying out in the open.  We took way too many pictures trying to capture the butterflies.  butterflyThey were quite spectacular and we did manage to get a nice shot or two.  Upon exiting the rain forest we were dumped in the aquarium section of the museum.  We had little time left after the aquarium, so we quickly ran through the other areas of the building before heading to the living rooftop.  It was a very impressive roof top with a nice view of the new deYoung Museum and the Music Concourse.


In the early evening I took the Bart to the East Bay to catch up with my friend Jen.  Jen and I used to work together at SFGTV and since I’ve left she’s become quite an impressive wedding photographer.  I sure have missed spending time with this awesome lady!  Our visit was much too brief.


ExploFtMason1On Thursday, Beth and I tried, once again, to find the outdoor exhibits at Fort Mason.  We had much better luck, running into some employees of the Exploratorium near the first exhibit and finally obtaining a map.  We had fun trying out each of the dozen or so exhibits and it was a beautiful walk through Fort Mason and along the water.  Here are a few of the exhibits:

<—- WIND ARROWS shows that the direction of the wind is different even at slightly varying altitudes.  Each arrow moves in the direction the wind is blowing.

ExploFtMason2TASTING THE TIDES talks about varying amounts of salt in area waters and what survives best at different salt levels.  This exhibit allows you to add more or less salt to water and taste it.  Beth’s first taste was too salty. —->





<—- WAVE TRACING uses a loose piling to etch into sand the motion of the waves, currents, and tides below the pier.


<—- RUST WEDGE shows the strong effect on iron and rust on concrete corrosion.


LIFT (below) was a favorite of mine, also displaying the moving and changing winds.  The plastic birds seem much like flying gulls as they lift and fall in this display.


In the early afternoon I had the chance to visit my friend Marisa in her classroom after school let out and to meet her babies, Zamora and Xavia.  So sweet.  At night, Beth and I took in a show of one of my favorite Bay Area musicians,  Mark Growden.  The tiny Stage Werx theater was literally right around the corner from the hotel and in the basement of the Shelton Theater and Playhouse.  This small venue held about 25 people for the duet with Seth Ford-Young.  This is the way to see live music.  They played several familiar tunes and many from the soon-to-be-released album, Saint Judas.  What a great night!  We were too excited to call it a night,  so we took a very lonely, cold, foggy cable car ride to the end of the line then walked to North Beach for some wine and a little bite to eat at a very lively restaurant in an otherwise very quiet North Beach.

San Francisco, part II

Beth spent Sunday with her brother’s family and stayed with them overnight, so on Monday, Memorial Day, I set off on my own.  I headed to the Castro for breakfast at Cafe FloreCafe FloreCafe Flore has the best granola and fruit and sometimes freshly squeezed blood-orange juice.  My cousin Ron lives nearby and was able to meet up with me for a little catching up.  After I left him I walked around the Castro a bit.  Many stores were closed for the holiday, but Imagiknit was open so I stopped in to admire the yarn.  It was at Imagiknit that I first learned to knit socks.  After browsing the yarn store I grabbed one of the street cars and headed down Market Street, past the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf, and toward Fort Mason.  Market St

I had read that the Exploratorium had installed some outdoor exhibits in the area and was aiming for Building “A” to grab a map.  Beth was heading back and making her way towards Fort Mason to meet up with me.  When I got to Building “A” I discovered the info center was closed for the holiday.  Argh.  I tried to guess where the exhibits might be, so when I met up with Beth we headed for the Marina.  The exhibits were nowhere to be found, so we walked to end of the jetty at the Yacht Harbor to check out the Wave Organ.   There was some college-level sailboat race taking place, so the area around the Wave Organ was filled with spectators.  We started walking back and dropped onto the little sandy area where some men had built a fire.  (It being San Francisco and May, of course it was foggy and cold.)  One of the men asked us, “Hey, do you want some tequilla?” to which we replied, “Yeah”.  We spent a little while with the group who gathered to celebrate a birthday.  They gave us tips on the best places to eat, places we needed to visit, and mixed us drinks while we kept warm by the fire.  We even had a little manicure work done by a guy with a can of green spray paint.  By the time we left the fire, the Wave Organ was empty and we were able to listen to the sounds of the lapping waves through concrete pipes.

Wave Organ - 1

Wave Organ - 2


On Tuesday we headed down to the Ferry Building to check out the Farmer’s Market.   The Tuesday market is a little smaller than the weekend market, but still full of wonderful choices.  I have missed the size of the Bay Area markets and the wide variety of fruits and vegetables available.  With no where to store fresh produce or cheeses in our tiny hotel room, we browsed without buying, then headed towards SOMA.  We were searching for the Museum of Craft and Folk Art.  We entered the building and browsed the gift shop while waiting for the woman to get off the phone.  After waiting too long for her personal call to end, Beth asked if we could enter the gallery and we were told it was closed.  It appears the exhibit had just ended.  Argh, again.  So we made our way to Noe Valley and another knitting store.  We grabbed some lunch in the outdoor patio at Savor and made plans for the week.  We were going to see the Harvey Milk double bill at the Castro Theater, but had too much time to kill and not Marchenough time to make it to the hotel and back, so we bagged the idea.  We decided to make our way to Ocean Beach to watch the sunset.  Along the way we came upon a large mass of demonstrators protesting the supreme court’s decision to uphold Prop 8 banning gay marriage.  We joined the march for a bit before breaking out and heading to our beachy sunset.


San Francisco, part I

If I can remember it all, here is a recap of my 10 day trip to SF at the end of May.  I was traveling with my friend Beth who also has family in the area and has visited before.  The trip was a nice mix of part-time tourist and part-time ex-resident.  I got to visit a bunch of friends and family and take in so many of the Bay Area’s unique treats.  We crammed a lot into our trip.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and checked into our hotel room at the Chancellor HotelSF Pillow MenuWe got a room with a street-view right on Powell street  adjacent to Union Square.  The location was ideal.  It was close to everything and so easy to get to Bart and the main Muni lines.  The main cable car line runs down Powell Street, so we listened to the sounds of the underground cables clanging and the bells dinging morning and night. The hotel was nice and clean and had some sweet amenities.  One favorite was the “pillow menu”.  SF DuckThough we had grand ideas of trying a different pillow each night, we usually were too tired to call down and order one.  We settled on the magnetic pillow for me and the buckwheat pillow for Beth.

Probably the best treat we found at the hotel was the rubber duck.  We decided that we would use “Ducky” as our travel gnome, documenting our journeys by photographing him.  This became especially nice when a second duck appeared and we could each take a duck on our separate daily jaunts.  Then at night we’d share our adventures.

After checking in on Saturday and freshening up, Jen picked us up to whisk us down to Redwood City to Milagros for dinner with the old MPAC gang.  Milagros - 6We had a lot of fun catching up.  This is one talented bunch!  Jen was in town from Southern Ca. where she works on creating the bonus materials we all enjoy on our DVDs!  She was visiting family and taking advantage of the long weekend (and getting in a dentist visit).    Dave and Karen are still at the Media Center (formerly MPAC) and filled us in on all the people we used to work with.  Doug and Wendy are busy with their jobs at Apple, their company Digital Turbulence, and getting ready for their first baby, which Erica has already named Penelope Rose.  Erica is recently married and working at Stanford and keeping us amused on Facebook with tales of her CalTrain commute.  Sharon is acting and appearing regularly in the comedic improv show, Point Break Live (which, sadly, we missed).  We called a few folks while we were together and left a bunch of “Happy Birthday” messages.  They sure make me miss living and working on the Peninsula.

Milagros - 8

On Sunday Karen and I celebrated Betsy’s birthday with a trip to Point Reyes for Open Studios.  I don’t remember when we started doing our little birthday outings, which usually included Jen and Erica too, but they are some of my most memorable times living in California.  Karen has a penchant for finding the best of the best.  The best events.  The best restaurants.  The best getaways.  We always had planned a sweet afternoon of museums or flower gardens or house tours that began or ended with wonderful food in the cutest of restaurants and cafes.  It was always great to be in the company of this group of gals.  These ladies taught me the true meaning of sisterhood and will always have a special place in my heart.

Sadly, I have no pictures of my Sunday visit with Karen and Betsy.  We hit our first artist in Olema, painter Jan Davidson.  I was instantly in love with her work.  My favorites were her little city scapes and wax pieces.   An added bonus to open studios is seeing the amazing studios the artists create in.  Jan Davidson’s studio was open and bright with many windows and surrounded by beautiful greenery.  Artists always have the best homes!  We took in a couple little shops and the Beulah Gallery and then went for a bite to eat at the Station House Cafe in Point Reyes.  Hours later we emerged with no time left for the rest of the open studios. (No one seemed to mind).  We walked around a bit more then Karen took us for a drive near the coast and into the hidden town of Bolinas and then to the Pelican Inn for a drink and a snack.  The Pelican Inn is located near Muir Woods and is modeled after an old, 16th century English country inn.  We weren’t able to see the rooms, but Karen talked them up quite a bit.  Based on the bar and restaurant, the rooms have to be one spectacular experience!  We left eachother with plans to meet up once again during my visit.

Kon-O-Kwee Knitting Weekend

kok4someThis past weekend was the 5th annual Kon-O-Kwee Knit Camp.  This is my third year at Kon-O-Kwee, Lisa and Elise’s second year (Elise coming all the way from Baltimore!) and Beth’s first Knit Camp weekend. Knit Camp is a weekend getaway for about 50 women at the Kon-O-Kwee YMCA Camp a little north of Pittsburgh.
kok09dininghall2 “What do we do all weekend?”  Well… we knit.  We knit and we eat and we knit and talk and laugh and make new friends and teach and learn and swap and buy and so much more!  There was a sock contest and Beth took second prize for her beaded socks!

Lisa entertained and challenged us with a kok09alpaca1knitting trivia contest (Did you know China is the biggest sheep producing country, followed by Australia, India, and Iran???) Raspberry Hill Alpacas brought Pretty Boy Floyd for us to pet and feed and yarn and roving to purchase.  We were revived with ten-minute chair massages.  There were class demonstrations by fellow “campers”.  We showed off our finished knits during show and tell and the fashion show.  We bid on a variety of knitterly things at the auction.   We stayed up late and knit all day while our meals were taken care of by the camp staff.  Now, doesn’t that sound like a wonderful way to spend the weekend?