The Quirk Comes Out

I'm not going to lie, I am getting pretty good at making and designing garments. I make a lot of things for myself. However, I am constantly thinking about what I can make for my family and friends. Those are the projects I get most excited about.

However, I am often way wrong when I try to guess which pattern / color they will choose.

Take my mom for example. She is a typical (lovely) mid-western woman. If you don't know what that means, her style is mostly functional with a little flare. She only wears shoes that she can walk in all day if need be. She is a teacher after all. When we go shopping together, the first question is will I be comfortable in this all day long? No, don't buy it. Or will this necklace hurt my neck after an hour? Can I go to my kids soccer game and my other kids art show in this and then meet my sisters for dinner? Yes, excellent. Needless to say, I think of her as someone who goes for versatility and functionality.

My husband is athletic, does fieldwork for his job, and in general doesn't need to dress fancy a whole lot. I feel like he needs to be able to go from the office to digging in the dirt without pausing to think about his clothing. Trust me, this is normal - he's a scientist.

When I am pattern browsing for these two, I think timeless, simple, durable, and colors that match everything. Perhaps these:

Cobblestone Pullover by Jared Flood;  Image:

Cobblestone Pullover by Jared Flood;

Instead John was really excited about some colorwork in a fair isle pattern. I still think the colors I chose are too subdued for what he wanted...

Come on Carrie, these aren't that different. It's not like I made a crazy pattern from Stephen West or anything. Still, this felt pretty radical for John. Also, he has since asked me to make him a sweater from all of my leftover yarn!! It will be a sweater made up of browns, greens, pinks, purples, turquoise etc. He knows this and is stoked. He surprises me every day.

My mom is another quirky one. I thought she might like something like this...

Nutmeg Ginger by Alicia Plumber; Image:

Nutmeg Ginger by Alicia Plumber; Image:

Every time we are at a yarn shop, however, she gets excited at the most colorful and odd patterns in the shop! So I will be making this shawl for her birthday...

Kelius by Cailliau Berangere Image:

Kelius by Cailliau Berangere Image:

She doesn't know about it, so don't tell her. I hope is a good mix of quirk and functionality so that she will actually wear it.

Ultimately, I think mass production suppresses our individual flare. Perhaps getting something handmade makes people question what they really want, outside of quick consumer trends and play with the possibilities. I really hope this is the case.

Be quirky. Make something strange and wear it everywhere! I love the surprises.

Camera on Manual

When I go out to an awesome place, I need to remember to change my camera settings.

This weekend John and I went sea cliff climbing at Point Perpendicular. It's a fantastic place to climb. The vistas are so rich and colorful. Of course, silly me got excited about these small little plants. I changed my camera settings to maximize my little guys macro settings. Only I forgot to change my settings back when I began climbing.

Oops! Well, at least one good photo came out of the weekend.

They're quirky little trees! This one is about 2" or 5ish cm tall.

Climbing Notes

I guess you will have to imagine the ocean blues against almost burgundy rocks with seals laying in the surf as I suffer through an awesome steep crimp fest. I was crushed by Rex Hunt's Love Child, though it was a blast to try. It is a grade 21, (yea right!). Superliner is a crag classic at grade 19. Climbing at Point Perpendicular is a must!

Why Am I Here

Some days I want to cry. I can't control it. The overwhelming feeling of being so far away from home sneaks up on me.

How am I supposed to do my taxes from three different jobs spanning two different countries for the US tax year that is different from Australia's tax year? It would be easier if I never left Illinois.

Why do I have to remain patient and calm when my landlord is negligent? It would be easier if I never left Illinois.

Why are my family and friends asleep when I want to chat with them after work? It would be easier if I never left Illinois.

Why do I have to apply to change my name with two different countries, two states and two jobs? It would be easier if I never left Illinois.

How many Christmases, Thanksgivings, Birthdays, soccer games have I missed? It would be easier if I never left Illinois.

In my slump, I struggle to get the daily chores done after a full day of work. I walk outside to take out the trash. It's dark by 6:30, so I walk by the moonlight. And then I notice it... The moon isn't out.

It's the Milky Way.

This is why I left Illinois.

I had never seen the Milky Way until I left the US. Sure there are spots where you can travel to in order to see a great night sky in the states. But I get to see it every time I bring the trash out.



Experiences like this are why I left Illinois.

I love being an expat. I may not be one forever, but this is an incredible life.

Tomorrow I will try again.


** Disclaimer: This photo is not the view outside my front door. I am practicing my night photography skills. As of yet, I do not have anything from our house. This is a photo I took while on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

For photos of the night sky in the Blue Mountains, check out Karl Lindsay's work. Stunning!

My First Try at Hand Dyed Yarn

I'm a painter......but I might convert over to hand dyeing yarn!

A few weeks ago, I ordered a yarn dyeing kit from Knit Picks on a sale whim. I have been wanting to try dyeing yarn for some time now. It seemed silly to buy a bunch of different dyes and supplies in order to get started. What if I don't like it / suck at it? A whole dye set would be incredibly wasteful. Knit Picks has a kit (currently sold out!) that includes small samples of 9 colors, three skeins of yarn, and a how-to book. This is the perfect taster kit.


Ombre yarn! The main characteristic of ombre yarn is it's really long sections of color gradually changing hues throughout the skein. Freia Handpainted yarn is a spectacular example of ombre yarn. It's so luscious! The Twist Collective has a fantastic example of ombre yarn in this sweater. I can't find this type of color change i any yarn available in Australia! Help, someone call me out on how wrong I am.

Image from:

Image from:

So yes, that is my life goal for dyeing.

Let's Do This

Today was my first attempt.

There are several posts on blogs about using lots of pots with a bunch of stove top burners in order to dye different hues. I don't have the luxury or the desire to have a separate pot set reserved for dyeing. Not yet anyway. Perhaps one day I will go to the thrift store for more pots. For now, glass jars and a double boiler did just fine.

Supply List

  • Greener Shades Dye
  • Citric Acid
  • 8 recycled glass jars from food
  • 1/4 teaspoon
  • 9"x13" brownie pan
  • 2 wooden spoons
  • canvas tarp
  • large pot
  • 1 skein Knit Picks Bare Stroll Fingering (4ply) Sock Yarn (75% merino 25% nylon)
  • 1 skein Knit Picks Bear Wool of the Andes Worsted (10ply) (100% Peruvian Highland Wool)

Dye Batch 1

The first batch used the Bare Stroll, Coral Reef Aqua pigment, River Blue pigment, and Amethyst Purple pigment.

I attempted to go from Cora Reef Aqua to a River Blue/Amethyst Purple mix in four stops. I used 2% DOS (Depth of Shade) to make two jars of each color dissolved in 1 c of water each. These two were then split up across the middle two jars. More specifically, I ended up with the following.

  • 1st jar of 100% c.r. aqua
  • 2nd jar of 70% c.r. aqua and 30% r. blue / a. purple
  • 3rd jar of 30% c.r. aqua and 70% r. blue / a. purple
  • 4th jar of 100% r. blue / a. purple

At the end, all of my water ran clear! Whatever amounts were added, something must have gone right.

I'm pretty happy with the finished product. It's not exactly an ombre colorway, but the blues are lovely.

In hindsight, I wish I had used less River Blue and Amethyst Purple in the two mixes. It overpowered the Coral Reef Aqua. Also, it would have been much better to have more gradations between the two ends.

Dye Batch 2

I had to try a second time before cleaning up, right? Right. I only had one more skein ready to go. This was the KnitPicks Bear Wool of the Andes Worsted (10ply) (100% Peruvian Highland Wool). This was split into 8 sections. Initially I miscounted and thought I only had 7 sections, which resulted in a last minute addition of a color. The colors used were Coral Reef Aqua, Amazon Green, Sunset Orange, Sunshine Yellow, Ruby Red, and River Blue. Here are the color mixes:

  • 1st jar of an unknown mix of s. orange / a. green / c.r. aqua (random added color)
  • 2nd jar of 80% c.r. aqua 20% amazon green (beginning mix)
  • 3rd jar of 80% c.r. aqua / a. green and 20% s. yellow / r. red / a. green (gradient)
  • 4th jar of 20% c.r. aqua / a. green and 80% s. yellow / r. red / a. green (gradient)
  • 5th jar of 70% s. yellow 20% r. red 10% a. green (beginning mix)
  • 6th jar of 90% s. yellow / r. red / a. green and 10% r. blue / r. red / s. yellow (gradient)
  • 7th jar 70% s. yellow / r. red / a. green and 30% e. blue / r. red / s. yellow (gradient)
  • 8th jar of 20% r. blue 40% r. red 40% s. yellow (beginning mix)

Instead of trying to end up with a total of 1/4 tsp dye between all of the jars... Note: this would give me ~a 2% DOS. I decided to try and get a total of 1 tsp pigment in each of the three starter color mixes (jars 2, 5, 8). I still couldn't accurately measure 4/64th's of a teaspoon. Let's be fair, the smallest measuring spoon I have is 1/4. Basically I estimated, trying to keep the ratios the same while eyeballing the amounts added.

These are my colors!!!!

I dyed two of the three skeins, from the kit, this morning and have plenty of dye left over. I am so happy with how this second batch turned out.

Notes to future self

  • Use a lot of gradient stops. The more small skeins the better.
  • Dye a lot of yarn at a time. This way you won't waste dye. ... Then again, you will have to find bigger containers than the little glass food jars. Which is more wasteful? Don't be wasteful.
  • You must get more yarn immediately!


Did you notice what sweater I am wearing in the first photo? I finally finished knitting my Briggs Street pullover with my hand dyed, hand spun! I guess it makes sense that I am wearing it while I try to dye yarn on my own for the first time. Here's another photo of the sweater. It's super comfy!

Not Enough Time

Housework, gardening, projects on the back burner... all things that keep me home on my days off. These things stop my from going on big adventures by myself. I do like the company of being with John and other people. I'm always a bit disappointed when the day ends and I haven't left our neighborhood. P.S. The trail around our house doesn't count. I might as well be in the cul-de-sac given how often I run that trail.

This week I had enough. There were a ton of things to do around the house, but there are also a bunch of hikes that I want to do. I need to remember, there will always be more homework!! It's time to get outside. Hiking alone is rejuvenating. It's peaceful; and it helps me get through the week in one piece.

My favorite part about solo hikes is that I pick the pace! This means as many photo/drawing stops as I want.

On Monday, I hiked the trail that was my first adventure in the Blue Mountains back in 2012. Beginning at the Three Sisters, or Echo Point in Katoomba, I walked down the Giant Staircase and then hiked back up the Furber Steps.

It was a wonderful, albeit foggy and rainy day with minimal tourists. The loop took me about an hour and forty-five minutes. The guide book says this loop takes 4-5 hours to do this 5.8 km circuit with 689m of elevation gain. Perhaps it takes this long if you have three little kids in tow? To be fair, I was going quite fast. Even on a slow day I can't see this taking more than 3 hours.

Until Next time...

Speaking of always having things on the back burner.... This has been a month of finishing projects. More on the climbing, knitting and painting to come. Feast your eyes on this in the meantime. Isn't this adorable?

Awesome Family

I have to tell you about my cool family.

Today, my niece and I finished her first hat!! We've been doing Skype knitting lessons for about a month now. It's taken so long because she's a busy 11 year old and I have this silly thing called work. Regardless, she successfully knit a hat in the round, decreased stitches, picked up just a few dropped stitches, and switched to double pointed needles near the end. I'm a proud aunt!! Not to mention, I'm crazy lucky that she still likes to do the virtual hang out thing.

Way to go squirt!

Thanks for taking the photo and running around to buy supplies Sis!

Thanks for taking the photo and running around to buy supplies Sis!

We finished the hat this morning. I ran out to do a few errands. When I came home, I had a belated birthday package waiting for me. My brother went all over Omaha looking for yarn for me. He hit the jackpot sending me some Madelinetosh Pashmina! This is seriously my favorite yarn. It also happens to be nearly impossible to find in Aussieland.

Big brother score! What am I going to get you for your birthday?

He said, "When I told her that you lived in Australia, know someone who has Alpacas, & were learning how to spin your own yarn, I think I out-hipstered her." I love it! Apparently, I'm a hipster. I guess I better get some tattoos. Whatever I am, I have a great family.

P.S. I already know what I am going to make... Color Affection by Veera Valimaki

Climbing Fears

A couple of weeks ago, John and I went camping and climbing at the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran, NSW. This was our first time backpacking with our climbing gear, tent and five days worth of food. Fortunately our campsite had a water tank. Otherwise, carrying five days worth of water would have been a non starter.

We grumbled the entire 5 kilometers from the Pincham Carpark to Balor Hut, which would be our base camp for the weekend. It was a really weird hike in, made up of either a brick walkway or metal stairs. I was carrying the heaviest pack I've ever carried. My stiff hiking boots and a paved uphill ascent turned out to be an awkward combination. None the less, we made it, through a nasty rain storm, to our campsite.

Seriously, who carried those bricks up there?

Seriously, who carried those bricks up there?

Day 1

John and I started the weekend out with an easy climb on Crater Bluff, Cornerstone Rib. It was a great day, perhaps a little boring. The climbing was super easy at grade 14 and the views were spectacular. I followed the entire climb because it was trad and the rock is notoriously crumbly. I don't have a lot of experience in leading trad. We moved to Australia from Boston before I was a confident leader. New Hampshire is full of great trad climbing. The Blue Mountains and it's crumbly sandstone doesn't allow for many trad opportunities. Sport climbing is easier and much safer here. So, on long multi-pitch days on new terrain, I tend to be the follower.

Day 2

The forecast called for possible rain on our second day. Also our next climb required a pre-dawn start. With a long climb on day 1 and not much daylight to prepare for our next climb, we decided to spend a day scouting. Our next climb, Flight of the Phoenix on Bluff Mountain, apparently had an epic approach. So on day 2, we packed light and did the approach to take a look at our next climb.

Day 3

The alarm went off at 3:00 AM. John is awesome on these days. He makes breakfast and hands me a coffee as I crawl out of the tent. Otherwise, I might never get out of bed. We hit the trail at 3:30 by headlamp. The approach consisted of ~3km of trail followed by 45 minutes of bushwhacking down then up a gully, skirting across a boulder field to finally get to the base of the climb. Hiking by headlamp seriously reduces your field of vision, obviously. We couldn't see the mountain or major landmarks to gauge the distance traveled. Needless to say, we went about 1km beyond the base of our climb. We thought this was the case, but couldn't tell without being able to see rock formations on Bluff Mountain. We found an almost level spot to sit and waited until the sun came up. Immediately it was clear that we had to backtrack. Our path was easy now, with a full field of vision as the sun rose. We arrived at the base of our climb around 7:00 AM.

John geared up to lead, and the day started. After a while of confusion on the first pitch, John decided to bail. Flight of the Phoenix looked like an obvious line. The first pitch is described as follows:

"45m (18) Up jamcrack (trickier than appears) for 12m, then step L onto nose. Up for a few moves then do an intricate (dicky?) traverse R across slab and tricky step onto nose below chains. Nice moves lead up nose to chain, step slightly L and up corner to small belay stance at small tree/bush ~8m above chain (PR, wire, small cams)." From The Crag

There were a few cracks to choose from and the slab wasn't so obvious. I'm sure my lack of confidence leading trad weighed on John. Oh well, he bailed and we decided to do a nearby climb. Neither of us wanted to bush bash home again!

A few meters left on Bastion Buttress, I felt confident that I would be able to lead some. Regardless, John started off the climb. Both of us were a little shaken from his retreat, but still wanted to climb.

John got up the first pitch easily. As I followed, each piece of gear felt tentative and the rock felt loose. I hate hearing that hollow sound when you tap on a flake that you're about to use to hold all your weight. John is a really great leader. He has pulled my butt up so many climbs. I trust him completely. I don't always trust the rock.

The first pitch was odd. It was a slab with diagonal crack systems running down. I felt off balance the entire time. Each piece of gear I cleaned, freaked me out just a bit more. I got to the anchor, surprised that a grade 13 was causing such trepidation. John reassured me that everything was fine and, Hey!, we're having fun. There were four pieces of gear equalized to make our anchor. We moved smoothly through our routine of swapping the rope and gear. John began to climb and BAM! A cam from the anchor flew out! I absolutely flipped. In hindsight, everything was fine. There were three bomber pieces still keeping the anchor together. We were safe, no one fell. However, at the time, that didn't matter. I wanted to go down and it had to be immediate. John came back to the anchor, he lowered me to the ground and then followed. This resulted in leaving more gear in the rock, on a grade 13!

I've never had a piece of gear pull out of the rock at an anchor. If it's a piece along the route, no big deal. Something clicked when I saw a cam fly at my face having been behind a flake moments before. In that moment, I realized I didn't know if that rock was going to pull off the wall. I didn't know if our gear was solid. Yes, I trust John to take care of us. However, we're both responsible for checking the others gear placements. I'm an idiot!

We ended up bushwhacking back to our campsite. John was calm and listened to my worries. We talked through the situation. You see, he had known there were three awesome pieces and one marginal anchor point. He considered taking it out before belaying me up to him, but decided against it. He didn't communicate that to me when I reached him and I freaked out when it pulled out of the rock. Perhaps more importantly, I should have checked his anchor. I always trust that he knows better than me. This is a habit I need to break. It's better to check your partner rather than take a chance on it being the one time they slip up. John didn't slip up. Everything was so safe, but my freak out stemmed from a feeling of insecurity that I wasn't confident to approve or question his gear choices.

Day 4

The last days of our trip was forecast to be stormy. We hiked out on day 4 and just missed a massive rain storm. It sucked that we didn't get to climb more on this trip. I guess we will have to come back another day. The Bungles are a beautiful place. Even the non-climbers should come visit!


The Next and Every Weekend From Here On Out

I am determined to become a better trad leader! After getting home, I told John that we would go to Mt. Piddington every Sunday to practice trad. This is just about the only place in the Blueys to climb trad. He brushed it off as one of those things I say but don't follow through on. Two weekends of trad leading later, I successfully led Eternity at Piddo. It's a notoriously sandbagged 18 hand crack. My hand is a bit cut up, but I'm feeling good. We can't climb this upcoming weekend, but plan on hearing more about Piddo in a few weeks. I want to swap leads with John in Yosemite one day. This is a necessary step towards that goal.

So Many Projects So Little Time

Things are wonderful...and busy over here. I'm sorry for not having posted in two months. Gosh has it really been that long?

Did I tell you that I got married over the holidays?

Photo by Mike Drake

Photo by Mike Drake

Of course not. I like to keep some things to myself. My fiance and I went to the states for the holidays to spend a long overdue trip with family. We heard that all of our siblings would be in town. This is a rare occurrence in my family. Our sisters with kids switch off the holidays with in-laws. Our scientist siblings travel all over the world for research, and as you know, John and I live in Australia.

So, we decided this was the perfect time to get hitched! My partner and I have been committed to each other for years. Moving across the states and then the world together. However, we struggled to find a time to celebrate with our families. In December, we were able to make it happen. It was one of the most spectacular days of my life!

I'm sorry, this is a climbing and art blog. Let's get back on track. Sadly, climbing was not involved in our wedding. We couldn't get married / climb in Yosemite in December and expect our families to come. We did, however, try to incorporate locally and hand made products wherever possible. Here are a few of the details.

I made our invitations. The main invite is grey with a green cardstock backing with a texture resembling bamboo shoots. Zapfino and Abadi Condensed Light are the fonts.

Photo by:  Nicole Haley

Photo by: Nicole Haley

Lorgie, over on etsy, made our guest book. It is made out of Tasmanian Oak with 110gsm white paper. We made it into a combined guest book and photo album. I love it!

I made three little sweaters for my niece's to wear at the wedding. They are 11, 7 and 5. It was tricky to find a pattern that could span the children's sizing and the tween. In the end, the Madame Entrechat and Entrechat by Lisa Chemery were perfect!

Photo by  Nicole Haley

Photo by Nicole Haley

My wedding shawl was a very special component of my outfit. I was intent that everything I wore was not going to be ivory or white. I like colors. My mother helped me pick our the color range, it had to be somewhere between green and blue. The yarn is Fiberstory One Silky, made in Michigan. My mother-in-law worked hard with her local yarn store, Skeins on Main, to get it for me. It was shipped out in early October. This gave me a little under two months to demystify the Moon & Stars pattern by Shui Kuen Kozinski.

My shawl embodied everything important to John and I for our wedding day. Both of our mothers helped, the yarn was locally made (to our hometown), I made it and it added a bit of color and warmth. I was very grateful to have so many handmade things make it into our wedding.

Photo by  Nicole Haley

Photo by Nicole Haley

A warm thanks to everyone who helped make our wedding such a spectacular day! John and I spent a wonderful month in the midwest celebrating with our extended family. It was a really great trip home even if we did spend minimal time outside.

Photography: Nicole Haley

Venue: Matthaei Botanical Gardens at the University of Michigan

Flowers: Red Poppy Floral

Dinner: Aventura

Handmade for the Holidays

Every year, I do the same thing. October rolls around and I begin to fantasize about making things for my family members. Perusing the Amazon marketplace overwhelms me quickly. All I can think about is the shear volume of mass produced goods in the word. Instead I think about what I can make for my loved ones.

...Then comes the middle of November and I am crazy stressed out over the projects that I have to finish. My family does love receiving handmade presents. In the end, I suppose it's all worth it. Does anyone else have this problem? I would love some project organization tips.

My current project is a set of headphone earmuffs for my 11 year old niece.

Go For It: 7 Times

I stumbled across Crux Crush's blog today. (P.S. I'm sorry that I didn't find you sooner!). Back in January, Cate wrote a post discussing the wisdom we learn along the way. If only we could tell our younger selves.

One piece of advice really resonated with me. Lesson #2, The Seven Try Rule.

My feet are about to pop... and I fall. Photo by Markus Nolf.

My feet are about to pop... and I fall. Photo by Markus Nolf.

The rule goes like this. If you try a hard move and fall. Try it 7 times before giving up and coming down. John, my partner, is a good 4 inches taller than me. There are times that I try something he has done, fail and think, that's a really long reach. Just this past weekend, I tried to lead a route and got scared off due to a really wide reaching traverse move. I went back up on top rope, found an intermediate crimp and pulled it. After that, I finished the route easily. Granted, I did come down and retry with the added mental security of top rope. But I did it!

Seven is a good number. We all give something one more go. Who has the ability to stay mentally focused on a move to try it 7 times before giving up? This may improve my climbing in two ways.

1. Perhaps I will land that tricky move by giving myself more time to try.

2. My mental grit will be pushed to new levels.

So tell your belayer to sit tight and deal with you attempting that hard move 7 times. I bet they will think you're awesome!

Photo by Markus Nolf.

Photo by Markus Nolf.

Climb hard!

P.S. Major thanks to my friend Markus for taking photos of me while climbing. I am generally the one taking the pictures. It's wonderful to have a few good ones of me... even if I am falling all over the place.

Relax In the Mountains

Before the upcoming weekend, which starts this afternoon, I feel like I have to show you what I did last weekend. It was a wonderful long weekend of knitting outdoors, climbing and relaxing....

We brought chairs to a little cave at Narrow Neck. This spot is a hidden gem off of a very faint climber's access trail. Check out the approach to Cave Climb. While you're at it, do the climb. It's a fantastic beginners trad route.

John rocked this 22 called Glue Tube Sensation at Little River. I followed it, though I fell once or twice getting past that rooflet (at John's feet). I highly recommend it and the area in general. We didn't see another person all day.

I finished one of my projects! Just in time for summer. I haven't worn my down coat or the cowl since I took this picture. If you need a quick project and a warm neck, Ziyal is a good option.

A Beginner Climbing In Yosemite

Back in 2012, John and I took our first trip to Yosemite National Park. I've heard Australians pronounce is oz-i-might. Let's try it together this way instead, Yo (like Yo dude!)-sem-it-eee. See, now it doesn't sound like some strange mix of Vegemite.

We were about to move around the world to Australia. This last minute trip was planned along with John's parents. I am so grateful that we decided to take this trip. It's one of my all time favorites. If you haven't noticed yet, John and I are climbers. John thinks about climbing while he eats, dreams and works. I may not be that much of a fanatic, but I love what climbing has taught me about nature and how I can choose to interact with it. Yosemite is America's living heritage. It shows glacial time scales, struggles between human relations, generational tourism and campaigns for environmental ethics. Not least of all, it is breathtakingly beautiful. I can't describe the effect that this visit has had on my life.

This post, however, is about climbing.

Everyone hears about climbers going up the famous El Capitan. My personal favorite is the story about Lynn Hill rocking up and being the first person to free climb The Nose. A lot of the climbs in Yosemite are done in a style called 'aid climbing.' This means that they will place protection in the rock and pull on that protection to make vertical progress. When John and I finally climb a route on El Cap, this is how we will have to do it. The routes on El Cap are so difficult that it takes world class athletes to be able to climb up the rock without pulling or resting on anything man made. Both of these types of climbing, 'free climbing' and 'aid climbing', involve using ropes and placing gear in the rock to protect you in case of a fall. The difference here is whether or not the climber pulls on the protection to advance up the route. Lynn Hill has been a huge role model for me. She seems like a person who has spent her life trying new things and respecting nature along the way. Here is some footage of her climbing The Nose:

Wow! So one day, John and I hope to do a big wall climb in Yosemite. On our trip in 2012, we decided to go for something a little less daunting.

Photo by  Chris McNamara

Royal Arches is a great single-day outing. John had been lead climbing for about a year prior to our trip. I had never been on a multi-pitch climb. That means the climbers split up the climb into sections (pitches) because the route is longer than the length of a rope. On a multi-pitch route, the leader starts climbing, finds a good ledge or protected area to set up a belay station. They install climbing gear into the wall in order to anchor themselves to that spot. Then the second second person climbs up to meet the leader. That completes one pitch of the route. The two people continue in this way, one person climbing and then belaying the other person up to them until they reach the top of the route.

I love this type of climbing! John and I had to learn a lot about how to keep ourselves safe, what to do in an emergency, how to watch out for changes in weather patterns. On a day at the crag, you can just come down quickly and hike out to the car if something goes wrong. On a multi-pitch route, there is often no way to bail until you finish the climb.

If this sounds like fun, but maybe you're not ready to spend a week sleeping, eating and pooping on a wall 3,000 feet off the ground. Then I would highly recommend giving the Royal Arches a try. At a mere 1,400 feet, Royal Arches was a fantastic day out. If I remember correctly, it was a bit stiff for 5.7 (true to Yosemite sandbagging). It has a few cracks, on proper lay-back crack that I wasn't prepared for at the time. Don't judge, I was a novice climber in 2012.

A good portion of the climbing is made up of easy traverses and scrambling. Our day finished with 10 (give or take two) rappels to get back to the valley floor. This was such a wonderful way to avoid the tourists and see the whole valley.

If you're a solid 5.7 (Yosemite) or 15 (Ewbanks) lead trad climber and are confident in rapelling/abseiling but aren't quite ready for an 8,000 foot wall, then check out the Royal Arches. The best route description can be found on SuperTopo.

Lots and Lots of Knitting

I love beginning new knitting projects. Finishing them is another story. Ravelry, the knitters online community, constantly gives me new ideas. When I began knitting, I thought I would consume less because of the amount of time needed to complete a single garment. However, if you let me into a yarn store, I feel the luscious fibers, and I will come away with a lot of yarn!

Lately, there is a lot of yarn sitting around the house. The yarn doesn't just sit around in skeins. Oh no, I have 6 projects in the works at the moment...

Ziyal by Allison Goldthorpe is a free pattern on Ravelry. I bought this Misti Alpaca yarn in Tasmania and have struggled to find a project for it. This is a prime example of the yarn impulse buy. If there is one thing I have learned in my years of knitting, it is that one skein is rarely enough yarn for any project. Walk away, better yet run away if there is only one skein of that dye lot left in the store. Unless of course you want to make socks.

Socks, like Tin Can Knits Rye pattern, are a fantastic way to use up that extra ball of yarn from your last project. I am terrified of running out of yarn before the end of a project. It often takes me three months to make a sweater. I do not, on the home stretch, want to find out that I need one more ball and that colorway is sold out throughout Australia! So I often buy an extra 200 meters or yards of yarn just in case. So, I generally have leftovers. Check out some sock patterns. They are quick projects and super comfy!

I had a whole bunch of uneven handspun yarn sitting around the house. Did I mention that I tried spinning? It went alright. Spinning creates a lot of yarn fairly quickly, but leaves little time for knitting. I found more skeins were piling up in my stash. Again, not the best when I was trying to cut down on my general consumption. My handspun yarn is not the most even throughout. I chose Briggs Street by Dawn Catanzaro (Quince & Co.). This pattern let me use my handspun and even it out a bit with a contrasting color. I love Manos del Uruguay yarn!

We're not done yet. What is that, 3 projects? Holy moly, three more to go.

Maeve by Carrie Bostick Hoge - nice name by the way! - will be a fantastic sweater once it is finished. It is very very monotonous knitting. If you are looking for your first no-sweat-er, this is it! It is quick and easy. Lately, I like a little challenge, which this pattern doesn't supply. Therefore, it has been sitting on the shelf for a few months.

Did I just say that I wanted complicated? I take it back! I take it all back! This sweater has been my nemesis for two years. I have frogged it (taken it all out, every last stitch until I have balls of yarn again) twice. The pattern is not entirely hard to understand. It's just hard to see where you are at on the sweater if you don't constantly write it down. I often forget to write it down. Regardless, I will finish the Maija Pullover, Mari Muinonen, by the time I fly back to the sates for Christmas. Hold me to that.

Finally, ah we made it! We have the Summit Shawl by Mandi Harrington. I love this pattern. It incorporates a mix of eyelet holes created by an entrelac-ish pattern and dropped stitches. The only problem is, the yarn is itty bitty thin which means progress is slow going. I've been working on this project for roughly four years and plan to have a good portion of it done in the next four. I make no guarantees about actually finishing it.

I haven't looked at all of the projects together until today. I will finish at least some of these by the end of the month!

Do you like the bags that I keep my projects in? I make them! Head over to my Etsy shop and take a look at what's available.

The Popular Crag

My climbing partner, aka solemate, John works full time. That means our days on the rock are limited to the weekends. Incidentally, that's also when everyone else in the world can get out to climb.

John and I have a remarkable number of identical pairs of shoes. I think we're up to 4 pairs of the exact same shoe, color and all.

John and I have a remarkable number of identical pairs of shoes. I think we're up to 4 pairs of the exact same shoe, color and all.

There are so many rock faces in the Blue Mountains which means it is always possible to find an empty one. The popular crags, however, might literally have lines of people waiting to get on the classic routes. Not this past weekend!

On our way to a multi-pitch climb at Pierces Pass

On our way to a multi-pitch climb at Pierces Pass

It rained all week and also looked like it was very likely to rain as we headed out for the day. A few of the routes were dripping with water. Upper Shipley in Blackheath was practically empty!

Shipley is such a popular place that it feels like we sometimes do all the same routes. I tried out Girly Germs on the Hot Flyer Wall. I highly recommend it. The move by the third bolt stumped me for my first try on lead. I went right back up and sent it clean on top rope. Then I went back to lead it, only to fall once on an easy move just below the bolts. I had a stupid case of overconfidence. Night was closing in, so I will return another day and send it clean. Regardless, it was a fantastic day of climbing. I also love hiking out at dusk. Some of the best colors are highlighted at that time of day.

The view from on top of the last climb of the day, Sexi Mexi.

The view from on top of the last climb of the day, Sexi Mexi.

Goodnight moon.

Rain and Yarn

I love rain! When it's sunny out, I feel guilty for wanting to stay inside and snuggle up with a good knitting project. When it's raining, however..... The climbing gear stays in the cabinet, guilt free.

Today was a lovely day full of mist fog and the very occasional spot of sunshine. The rain coincided perfectly with my workshop I was leading at the local knitting shop. Four fabulous ladies drove up from around Sydney to learn Entrelac. 

Entrelac is a type of knitting that results in a fabric with a woven appearance. I first learned to knit four years ago just so I could eventually make something using this technique. It was obsession at first sight, and today I was able to share that skill with other crafters. 

Thank you for your generosity ladies. I can't wait to see your finished scarves!

If you're interested in learning Entrelac, I will be offering a few more workshops in the coming months at the Granny Square in Katoomba. Sign up at the shop or online here.

Very occasionally knitting and climbing do go together! It's like the ghostbusters crossing the streams though, do it with caution. Total protonic reversal.

Hopefully it will be sunny by Friday and we can get back on the rock.

Somewhere To Start

Dear Reader,

Beginnings are my nemesis. Ideas and interests flow though me like water coming down a raging waterfall. However, undertaking the process to actualize those ideas is daunting. What if I can’t do it? What if no one responds to my work? What if it sucks?

The only question that I need to remember to ask is, ‘Who cares?’ No one. Who am I to deny myself the experience of trying something new? I love change. The first step of a journey is just incredibly scary. That commitment means I may have to accept the possibility of failure.

This blog has been an idea on the back burner for a long time. The outdoors is where I feel most at home. I make things with my hands. Working with kids gives me indescribable joy. I struggle to be an environmentally engaged person. I live 9,238 miles from where I grew up. My only goal is to share the things that resonate with my lifestyle. Enjoy!

All the best,