Monthly Archives: October 2015

Alpaca it is then Barbara

Heather went to Peru a couple of years ago with her Scout troop.  She brought me back some medium brown alpaca.  It has been waiting in the freezer since then.  I bought a mixed bunch of colours this time to go with it.  Two balls each of five different colours.  I will now make as many hats as 20 balls of Indiecita DK Baby Alpaca will do.  One hundred and twenty stitches will probably be my baseline number of stitches for this yarn.  It is a finer yarn than the worsted weight I have been using for a while.  It has 5.5 st to the inch on 4 mm needles vs 5 st to the inch on 4.5 mm for the worsted.  I like 120 stitches, it is divisible by 3, 4, 5. 6, 8, 10, 12 and 15 so it gives lots of scope for pattern repeats as well as

For this hat, I cast on the 120 stitches and did 14 rows of Woven Stitch, pg 95 with turqouise., Then I  joined back into the cast on edge with white.  I did 2 1/4 inches of Bubble Tweed, pg 66, then back to Woven Stitch for 10 rows, then joined back in again to form a roll.  I then used Twisted Basket Stitch, pg 118 for the top of the hat.  There were 15 repeats of the Twisted Basket Pattern, I decreased in every third one, leading to 5 points of decrease.  I used double decreases every other row to the top.  it went as planned from the beginning and I didn’t have to rip out at all along the

Last of the Redblacks for a while, Barbara

gillianknits.comThis is the last of the three hats I worked on in Peru while I was on planes, trains and auto mobiles.  Although I was looking out the windows like a good girl most of the time.

I cast on 100 stitches and did a ribbing of sorts with Three and One Pattern, pg 94.  I find I am playing pretty fast and loose with the concept of ribbing these days to git ‘er done as we say at work.   I switched to  Zigzag Checks (pg 64), but I found it drew in too much so I ripped back and increased to 108, which, as you know, I am fond of for its decreasability (9 x12 and all the factors thereof).  I originally tried to lose one pattern every so often but I didn’t like the gaping effect.  Sorry about the picture but I just snapped it in available light before ripping out.IMG_20151019_191907

I also tried 5 points of double decrease but that looked pretty awful too.IMG_20151023_213139

So I settled on 9 points of decrease. It is an also ran hat.  Neither the best nor the worst I will ever make.

I made another hat in Peru Barbara

I took one ball of red and one of black to Peru with associated needles.  This is the second of three hats I made with them.  This hat was made with Belted Stripes, pg 64 and Close Stitch, pg 94.I cast on 108 and did Close Stitch for 1 1/2 inches.  I then switched to Belted Stripes and did 4 repeats.  I decided to decrease in the black parts because then I could keep the integrity of the pattern as much as possible.  The pattern has 9 garter stitch in red with 3 slipped stitches between.  I decreased to 6 garter stitch with 3 ss between, then 4 garter stitch with 2 ss between, then 2 garter stitch with 1ss between.  At this point I kept the same number of stitches until I could do a roll at the top., then decreased for the center of the top.  I turned it inside out and sewed the roll in

I found that it was a bit too big, so I hemmed up the Close Stitch in

Hey Barbara…I’m back…did you miss me?

gillianknits.comI cast on 102 sts. I am not sure what possessed me to think that Staircase Pattern, pg 65 might not curl.  I guess I thought maybe because of the two colours.  I thought

It curled like a son of a gun, so I decided on my usual solution…make it reversible which corrals the edges of the piece and makes it straighten up and fly right.  New problem, what to put on the other side.  I texted my kids to get an opinion but wasn’t getting much answer.  At this point I was in the departure lounge heading for Peru and I needed a solution.  I decided on my skulls from way back when.  I looked up my very first post on this blog to figure it out and by the time I had got that taped, Heather had answered with #YOLO (you only live once).  I thought, wow, that works even with the skulls, actually they may make each other better, so I went ahead and did it.  I decreased to 100 stitches first. gillianknits.comI then did the main body of the hat with Double Woven Rib Stitch, pg 95.   I used 4 points of decrease and did a double derease each time (slip one k2tog psso)

Last day in Lima and home

We arrived back on the bus-from-hell, oops, I mean the bus from Cusco to Lima just before noon on Saturday. We had 11 hours to kill before we were supposed to be at the airport, but we were encumbered by luggage.  We took a taxi to the Museo de la Nacion, again, which should have been open, again, but it was strike two. We took another taxi back to the bus station (only $4 poorer) and got on WiFi to try to find a restaurant.  Phil found one that we probably should have been able to walk to but, unsure of how to get there exactly, we took yet another taxi.  It turned out to be a huge local favourite and was jam packed with people in a huge sprawling restaurant with an upstairs as well as two huge rooms downstairs and live entertainment.   We had another excellent meal.  Those foodies knew a thing or two when they decided to make Peruvian food the next big thing.  In the picture that’s lamb, tacu tacu, fried plantains with quail eggs and some Lima type beans with corn kernels. imageWe walked back to the bus station and Phil negotiated a deal with a taxi driver to go round the city for 8 hours and be driven to the airport for $60. He had a taxi licence so he fobbed us off on his brother around the corner who took us in his own private car.   I wracked my brains to remember the things that were left on the list I made of things to do in Lima, but had subsequently lost.  I knew that the Bridge of Sighs (Puenta des Suspiros) was on it and we wanted to go the the seaside.  It turns out that this was a two birds/one stone situation and we walked down to the ocean from there, where Phil collected sand for a friend.image

I then suddenly remembered that we had been meaning to go to the Huaca Pucllana ruins, near where our hotel had been.  Although I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name, I managed to communicate this to the driver, whose English was unfortunately as limited as my Spanish.  Off we went, arriving not long before the last English tour of the day left.  They don’t let people on the site without a guide.  It was another good choice.


When we were back in the car, Phil noted that when the taxi driver was not trying to get us to the destination as quickly as possible on his own time, we saw a much nicer city than we had in the few days we had been there at the beginning of the trip.  This driver knew we had lots of time and took us along much prettier streets than we had ever seen before.  The last thing I remembered from the list was the Parque de la Reserva, which has a bunch of water fountains.  I knew that it said to go there at night and we got there just before sunset so we saw it in both the light and dark,IMG_1156It was a great place to walk around because some of the fountains were splash pads and there were lots of kids having a blast.  At this point my memory was tapped out so we asked to be taken to the Plaza das Armes to see it in the dark.  When we got there, the traffic was terrible and there was no place to park so we just took the driver for ice cream and headed for the airport.  This trip has taught me that I am a guidebook person and i will go back to my always having a guidebook with me roots from now on.

Machu Picchu…everyone’s favourite site in South America

There’s a reason this puppy is a world heritage site, although I have to admit I have never been to a world heritage site that I wasn’t impressed by.  You have all seen the pictures beforebut here goes anyway.  We got up at 6 am to catch a lovely viewy train through the mountains.IMG_20151015_085022

When we arrived, we got a bit out of puff climbing to the traditional view point


…climbed back down (gently because of my creaky old knees)

IMG_20151015_135125…explored the ruins for a bit and tried desperately to get some shots without too many of the other 2500 people they let in a dayIMG_20151015_135746

…went in and out of  the lovely stepped houses near the finish (they try to keep everyone going in the same direction)IMG_20151015_140400

…and joined the line for the buses back to the train, the end is NOT in sightIMG_20151015_142201We waited only 50 minutes to get to the front of this line (we had predicted an hour ourselves). We had a very expensive and mediocre supper in the tourist trap they call the village of Machu Picchu, and caught the train back to Cusco.  The sun set as we were going through the mountains and it was lovely to see them in the changing light.  My cell phone camera was not up to catching it.  Machu Picchu was definitely worth all the money and hassle it had been to get there.

Sacred Valley Near Cusco, Peru

I went on an all day bus tour of the sacred valley around Cusco.  Phil was of course supposed to come but she had wicked altitude sickness. She only got up once that day to go get pills apparently.  We had already booked the tour so she said I should go anyway .

There was chaos at the start as the scores of your operators from around the city brought their customers and tried to install them on the buses.  I was put on one bus then taken off it because it was a Spanish only tour, only to be put on another Spanish only bus.  IMG_20151014_130203It turns out that the last English bus had left in the meantime so I was promised that I could switch at the first site Pisaq.  Before we got there, however we had to stop at the first of three souvenir stops. IMG_20151014_111009

Pisaq had 4000 inhabitants in Inca times, 2000 of them farmers on the terraces.  The terraces had stone walls in front and were backfilled with gravel and topsoil. I was introduced to the English speaking guide and promised that I would be switched after the next site.  We then went for a buffet lunch.IMG_20151014_140002

We carried on to the next site, Ollentaytambo.  It was quite a zoo of tourists. None of my pics were all that great.IMG_20151014_155153

After this place they finally offered to let me switch buses, but I was understanding a lot of what he said and that were a very jovial group so I stayed with them.

The final stop was at a textile place where they did a demo about dyes and had another nice display of dyestuffs.IMG_20151014_175552

I got back to the hotel 12 hours after leaving and Phil’s meds were kicking in enough to go out for ice cream.

Cusco culinary school

We went to the Cusco culinary cooking class and made our own dinner. I would happily recommend this to anyone who has any culinary interest.  We started with Pisco Sour cocktails.  Apparently a bartender didn’t have any whisky for a whisky sour and subbed a local super strong wine.  We had one made with traditional ice cubes and two done with frozen juice cubes.IMG_20151013_172001

Next came the appetizer, Causa which is chopped chicken salad and sliced avocado sandwiched between two layers of mashed potatoes built in a mold. IMG_20151013_175544

  1. Unfortunately, Phil developed altitude sickness and she didn’t make it through the whole thing. She went and lay down after making the appetizer.  We made the main course which was quinoa risotto and lomo saltados (beef stir fry).  We flambéed the beef cubesIMG_20151013_183257

Then added tomatoes, red peppers, onions and cilantro.  It was delicious.IMG_20151013_184307

We finished off with a fruit mousse.IMG_20151013_190116

Great meal and fun making it ourselves.

Red and black, for Barbara…not me This hat actually looks better from a distance.  If you are too close, the middle patterns aren’t as distinct.  I have avoided the colour combination of red and black for decades because they were  the colours of my high school, which I hated with a passion.  Anyway, I do recognize the strength of the colour combo, even if I can’t like it personally.  It uses Basket Stitch (top and bottom) with Fancy Basket Pattern in between, both can be found on pg 63.  If I were to redo it, and i did briefly consider it, I would maybe do only the middle two sections of the Fancy Basket Pattern with wide red bands above and below.  This would look like arrows on a red field.gillianknits. om

Cusco today…sacred valley tomorrow

We got some sleep last night, but I didn’t get a ton. I tried to get back to sleep using Nirvana Unplugged, which usually works before the CD is finished, but I ended up doing that, the National, Wish You Were Here and Townes Van Zandt before it was 7 am and time for breakfast.. Sucks to be me.

This morning we signed up for a cooking class for this afternoon, then took a city tour on a sightseeing bus. First it circled the block twice and brought us back to where we started. When the tour was over I realized there was a sign which said they were only allowed to park for 7 minutes, so they were probably returning to base to try to fill the bus before the tour actually started.  Once we finally got going, it took us past the Plaza das ArmasIMG_20151013_091902

A PalaceIMG_20151013_100559

A monastaryIMG_20151013_095938

And up to Cristo Blanco above the city IMG_20151013_113231

With nice views of the city belowIMG_20151013_113221

And an archeological site whose name I didn’t catchIMG_20151013_121122

And then to the obligatory tourist trap where they try to sell you expensive artisanal goods, in this case jewellery and alpaca items.  They did gave a great display of dyestuffs for alpaca.  I found the blue corn particularly interesting.


I made my usual pilgrimage to McDonald’s.  I always try the local item. Maharajah Macs, Desayunos Tipicos, etc.  This time it was a nasty dried out piece of chicken breast on a bed of green rice with big corn kernels. Phil asked me if it was good and I said..of course not, it’s McDonald’s!IMG_20151013_131356but they had some neat condiments