I belong to a small weaving group that sets a challenge every year to make us better weavers.  This year we are supposed to make a bag based on a color palette of our choosing.  We can get our inspiration from the lining we choose, the inkle bands we wove this summer for straps, or other sources.

This year, I spent a lot of time natural dyeing fiber and I have spun up most of it into weaving yarn; so I know what colors I’m using.  The sticking point for me was the type of bag to make.  The last thing I need is another tote!

So recently, I started coming up with ideas during a long weekend vacation in Washington D.C.  I just got a new Canon EOS T2i camera and was forced to carry it in a backpack purse of mine.  It was certainly not designed for camera carrying.  Hmmm.  I need a bag for that.

My project is now a backpack to carry my camera and lenses during my travels. Now the challenge is the design–the structure of the bag and the weave structure of the fabric.  On a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian), I had a field day taking pictures of some of the incredible weaving that inspired my vision of a backpack design.

I just love the colors and the design of the bags, basket and clay pots. Each one gave me great ideas on some of the motifs I’d like to try. Ever since I started weaving, inspiration seems to be everywhere.  I will go back to these pictures when I’m ready to start sketching out my ideas.

I think it’s a universal feeling that we all need to “run away from home” once in a while.  Between a job, kids in school, homekeeping, and organizing guild workshops- a day in the country is in order to get me centered.  And on this amazing fall day last weekend, we took the bikes down to Gambier, Oh where it connects with the Kokosing Gap Rail-Trail. The trailhead is located near Kenyon College, lovely in its own right.

But our eyes were focused on the rural fall landscape where trees meet cornfields and the sound of cows and their abundant smell are in the air.

We make an annual trip to this trail because of it’s quiet beauty.  We are lost in our thoughts as we progress on the 13 mile trek.  My mind goes toward the colors and how they might inform my weaving.

We always visit the Kenyon Environmental Center adjacent to the trail.  There are gardens, hummingbird feeders, and a central Ohio fall landscape. 

 I hope you find the time to get away before the Fall colors disappear.  This beautiful season goes much too quickly.  Don’t let it pass you by.

My husband and I took a trip to the city of Ann Arbor a few weeks ago for our anniversary. In addition to taking a tasting tour of some great restaurants, we enjoyed walking the streets to get a feel for the local culture.  When we came upon a small city park, I was surprised to find trees decorated with knitted items.

Then it hit me that I had heard about this kind of display before in other cities, but just hadn’t seen it up close.  According to the tags on the scarves, it was the work of the “yarnabomber.”

I think this group exists to decorate public spaces but I couldn’t find much about it on the internet.  Their work sure beats graffiti!

Every tree in the park had some type of lovely knitted creation wrapped around it.  Cheers to the yarnabomber; may they decorate many more cities with beautiful fiber.

I usually have a small (okay maybe large) list of fiber goals each season.  It’s often wishful thinking.  But occasionally I actually make some respectable progress.

This year I really wanted to find an easy way to make socks.  I love hand knitted socks; it’s luxurious to put your feet into something thick and warm when the weather gets cold.  So I searched out some potential books and settled on Cat Bordhi’s Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters.

Cat’s the sock guru and her toe up, personalized method really worked for me.  And when I would get stuck on a particular aspect of her method, I found she had video support segments on YouTube.  What a brilliant idea.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the car this summer traveling with my family and I always take my knitting along.  My socks are almost done.

In the picture you can see the cardboard cutout of my foot with markings on it.  This is part of Cat’s wonderful personalized method.  You may have also noticed that I knit with double pointed needles.  In an age when everyone is fascinated with the circular needle method of knitting, I find that I still knit better with dpn’s.  Strange but true.

I have enough yarn for two more pairs of these socks. I’ll have to plan some more knitting road trips!

One of my travel goals every year is to ride a new bike trail with my family.  Because of the popularity of bike trails, particularly the rail-trail variety, I’ve been able to accomplish that goal for all of the last 10 years.

Over the weekend, yet another new trail was added to my family’s list.  About a two hour drive from Cleveland is the Allegheny River Trail, a wonderful former railroad line turned into a meandering bike trail along the Allegheny River.  Flat and paved, it was perfect.

Even though there are lots of trees, the trail was fairly exposed to the sun during a significant part of the afternoon ride.  But while it was a hot ride that July afternoon, the cool view of the river was inviting.

The history of the region is interesting. It was the site of an oil boom in Western Pennsylvania during the 1800s.  John Wilkes Booth was an early but ultimately unsuccessful investor.  But others made a fortune.  You can see some old oil wells on parts of the trail, some abandoned for over 100 years.

One of the nice features of the trail is the Belmar Bridge which spans the river and provides a nice surface to walk or ride.

Finding interesting trails to ride is one of the happiest parts of my summers.  And a trail with a story is a real bonus.

I had fully planned on addressing other subjects today, but my eye caught this picture on my desktop and it just carried me away.  Last fall, my husband and I traveled to Italy.  After we settled in a wonderful little European hotel in Rome, we started to explore the city for our first dinner.  Walking down a narrow, little street dodging speeding motorcycles, we discovered Mario’s.

It was as enchanting as it looks in the picture.  That October night we sat outside, dining on Italian pasta and drinking wonderful local wine.  Across the street, just a few feet away appeared the ruins of Trajan’s market.  The magic of Rome is that in the midst of this very modern city, you can dine among the ruins of a culture thousands of years old. 

We saw some unimaginable sites during our trip to Rome, Florence, and Tuscany, but I will never forget Mario’s and the warm way we were treated that first night in Italy.