Photography, Travel

A Solo Journey, 22 years ago . . .

22 years ago today – at the tender age of 24 – I boarded a plane to embark on a month-long SOLO trip through beautiful Italy.

Armed with a wheeled carry-on luggage, backpack, calling card to phone Mom frequently and let her know I was ok, 1000+ page fiction novel, guide books, Lira currency (!) and 35mm camera with lots of film, I had a reservation at a modest pensione in Rome to start the journey.

Back in 1999, my roundtrip airfare from LAX to FCO was less than $400 USD, Eurorail pass was less than $400 USD! 

Il Colosseo, Roma, Italia – Febbraio 1999

During my month there, I met up with friends-of-friends who toured me through the little towns outside of Rome, connected with my cousin Laura in Firenze and stayed with her former classmates in their Florentine flat, took a bus tour with architectural grad students through the streets of Verona, stayed in a seaside hotel in the Ligure area, had my breath taken away by all of Venice and hand carried 3 bottles of wine back to the States.

Chiesa del Santi Luca e Martina, Roma, Italia

Most of the time, though, was spent in quiet contemplation about the future . . . 

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italia

What turned out to be a trip of a lifetime, I look back with delight that 1) I actually did that, 2) how different the world is now and 3) I wouldn’t do anything different. Well, I wish I didn’t have bronchitis and walking pneumonia during the trip – THAT I would change!

I would return to Italy 5 years later with my (now) husband, making even more incredible memories while reliving the great ones of the past.

Closing the chapter on the year 2020, I look forward to what 2021 will bring: more memories, hope and amazement for what is yet to come. (And more yarn, of course).

Portofino, Italia
Knitting, Yarn/Roving

2014 Yarn & Fiber Colors – Weeks 11 to 14

Aloha! Here are the colors for Weeks 11-14!

APPLE PICKING is a hand-dyed, hand spun yarn in superwash merino, then double plied with silk. The dyed silk roving is from Phoenix Fiber Co on Etsy, which I spun into a thin thread for plying.


LIGURE SUNSET 2 in merino/tencel roving (not pictured), alpaca/merino/silk roving and cashmere/merino/nylon fingering yarn was inspired by a photo I took while in Monterosso, Italy.


OLYMPIC SKI TEAMS were inspired by the uniforms I saw during the Winter Olympics. I dyed the wool, ran them through the drum carder and pulled them off as roving. These are available as a set.


KA’ANAPALI BEACH always brings back great memories of my friends’ wedding. This photo was taken while waiting for a spa session for us bridesmaids. These are alpaca/silk yarn and merino/bamboo/nylon roving.


Tencel is great for blending with wool projects!


In the area called Days Bay in Wellington, New Zealand we came upon a bus stop painted in bright colors of pinks, yellows and orange and lovingly adorned with hearts. On the bench were two beautiful words: Love Life. These pieces of LOVE SHACK are polwarth/silk roving and sparkle fingering yarn.


This is a sample set of rolags I created using Corriedale, Wool, Silk, CVM/Romeldale, Merino & Banana Fiber.


I hand-dyed the yellow/green/black multi yarn for this ballet bag, then added the black top for contrast.


Finished up another test pair of FLAG SOCKS: USA, but adjusted the pattern on one sock and found an error as well so I’ll be frogging/re-knitting/re-testing this pair, but here’s what it looked like when I finished.


Another pair of BOARDGAME SOCKS in KnitPick’s Stroll Tweed yarn. This one goes to Ms. Chantal.


Speaking of which, Knitpicks just sent out an email introducing the new line of sock yarn called Hawthorne and included my pattern in the email. Super cool!

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 11.47.19 AM

More stuff on the shoppe soon! Enjoy!

Knitting, Yarn/Roving

Yarn & Fiber Colors for Weeks 31 – 32

Hard to believe it’s mid-August already and they have the ‘back to school’ commercials running on TV. Pretty soon Autumn will be here – my favorite season. I’m still posting summer-y colors, though I am adding some fall colors to the line up. For now, here are some colorways with a bit ‘brighter’ disposition.

MAGIC is a handspun laceweight yarn spun from Hanks In the Hood roving. This is a lovely Merino/Bamboo blend and I just love the colors – reminds me of the Disneyland show, Fantasmic!

ST. PETER’S DOME is inspired by a photo I took during a trip to Italy over a decade ago when I made sure to visit Vatican City to tour the Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica and eventually made my way to the very top of the dome. As you near the top, the walls cave inward giving you a sense of vertigo! This picture was taken with the camera positioned perpendicular to the floor. I later returned to Italy with my husband and challenged him to see how fast we can make it up the 320 steps to the top. We did it in less than 10 minutes 🙂

VICTORIA SUNSET was inspired by a photo I took while on our Alaskan cruise as one of our ports of call was the town of Victoria, British Columbia. Though we didn’t disembark we did spend some time admiring the beautiful sunset.

This is VICTORIA SUNSET in merino/silk lace weight.

I’m excited to be branching out into cellulose (plant) fibers and this is BEACH PARK, a bamboo top roving. Many beaches in Hawaii have a grassy area above the shoreline where patrons can have picnics, parties and hang out. One of my most favorite memories at a south Maui BEACH PARK was the day before my wedding where our family played in the ocean, grilled hamburgers and hotdogs on the beach on a perfect fall day.

HAWAII KAI SUNSET 2 has another photo inspiration. We love this part of Oahu and sunsets here are breathtaking.  I took this photo while driving back towards Honolulu and was stopped at a red light. The sun was just behind the clouds on while the winds gently swayed the trees. I snapped a number of photos and this was number 2 (hence, the name of the colorway). This is merino/tencel roving.

And this HAWAII KAI SUNSET 2 is a superwash merino lace weight.

P.SUE SPRING is a fun watermelon/coral tweed fingering yarn inspired by a fellow fiber enthusiast who’s screen name is PickleSue. Back in May she said she was on a ‘watermelon/coral’ kick and that combination has been stuck in my head. . . and now on yarn. Thanks PickleSue!

Another rendition of VERTIGO BLINDS in a black/gray tweed fingering. I’m quite enamored with this one because of the vary shades of blacks and grays. . . very dramatic. . .

more to come! enjoy!

Photography, Travel, Yarn/Roving

Yarn & Fiber Colors for Weeks 29 – 30

Oh, again a bit behind in posting, so here are the colors for Weeks 29-30!

Roving, roving, roving – keeps those spindles turning . . .

COLLEGE DORM is 64 ct Merino roving in the colors of my college dorm linens. Mom took me shopping for my freshman year and I ended up picking out a bed set that was probably more ‘boy’ colors with grays, teals, purples and black, but I loved it! (My purple towels did have girly embroidery on it, so I made up for it with the bath supplies). If I remember correctly, that bed comforter was later passed down to my little brother who . . . hmm . . . may still have it?

VINTAGE CHRISTMAS is a South American Wool top that’s great for beginning spinners. As I get older, I gain a better appreciate to all things vintage and I just love seeing the Christmas decorations from an era gone by where the colors are more muted but still reflect the magic of the holiday season.

LANIKAI HIKE is inspired by a photo I took last spring during the famous Lanikai Pillbox Hike. I love how the aqua complements the brown in this merino/tencel roving – just like water and earth . . .

BUTTERFLY DUO 2 is a variation of the original colorway which didn’t have any green in it. This is Peruvian wool and is also great for beginning spinners.

Last of the rovings is BLOOD ORANGES, a wonderful merino/bamboo blend. I had never even heard of BLOOD ORANGES until I took a trip to Italy more than a decade ago. At a farmers market near the Campo dei Fiori in Rome, I purchased a few oranges to try them out and was hooked with the first sweet bite of the ruby red orange. I made sure to buy more and snacked on them all trip long.

The wife of one of my colleagues is also a yarn fanatic so I have to smile when he is talking about things like pages in a script and says comments like “Well, we’ve got enough yarn in these pages, we just have to see if there is enough to make a sweater”. Now, how cool is that??? Perhaps I can bring my UFO (unfinished object) sweater project into one of our meetings . . .  But I digress, now back to yarn:

RAINY DAY EIFFEL is my first attempt at dyeing up yarn in this colorway. I’ve done a few in roving, but not yarn. I think it turned out pretty 😉 This is a merino/tencel fingering yarn:

VERTIGO BLINDS is a merino/cashmere/nylon fingering yarn what was inspired by a photo I took during a photography class. This was taken during an afternoon, just as the light was coming through the vertical blinds. I loved how the blinds cast shadows in all directions on the window seat and I placed a circular candle holder in the frame just to break up the lines. This yarn has various shades of gray, black and blue-black.

The inspirational photo:

BUTTERFLY DUO is the original colorway inspired by a pair of butterflies I saw at a Butterfly Farm in the Carribean. This is a merino/silk fingering yarn:

The inspirational photo:

ROMAN CHURCH is a superwash merino fingering yarn inspired by a photo from my 1999 Italy trip. I found this church while walking around and the ornate features on the facade and dome were such a great complement to the blue sky. Now, if only I could remember the name of the church . . .

The inspirational photo:

POI is a superfine merino/silk lace weight yarn in the color of the Hawaiian food made of the Taro plant. if you’ve ever been to a Hawaiian luau they will most likely have a small bowl of Poi for you to try and the consistency is usually paste-like, though for most people, it is an acquired taste. Some of my friends like Poi with a fair amount of sugar added 🙂 Seeing that purple is my favorite color, I draw from the color of Poi and bring you this wonderful lace yarn . . . hold the sugar.

And lastly, a bit of handspun yarn. A GRAY AREA was raw alpaca fleece that at I washed, dried, hand carded and spun into a really soft lace weight yarn.


Photography, Travel

Firenze At Dusk

I’ve been conversing a lot about Italy lately so I’m posting one of my favorite photos taken with my 35mm SLR.  The hubby and I went to Italy after finishing a project and visited Roma, Firenze (Florence) and Venezia (Venice).  While in Firenze we met up with some friends of ours who were taking their honeymoon in Italy. The wife knew of a spot to watch the sunset, so armed with wine and cheese we walked to a bridge, hopped over the wall where there was a small platform just above one of the column supports. Apparently this was a popular spot to hang out. There we drank our red wine, dipped our Parmesan cheese into honey and watched the sunset on the Arno River.

(Firenze, Italia | Settembre 2004)

Photography, Travel


I was speaking with someone last week about a  trip to Italy that she had recently returned from and that got me thinking about my very first trip over a decade ago. Towards the end of my month long solo trip through the country, I spent about a week up north and stayed in a quaint town called Santa Margherita Ligure.   SML is north of the famous town of Portofino, known for regattas and maritime sports.  This  shoreline/bay in Portofino was small, but beautiful nonetheless.  Since I was traveling during the off-season, it wasn’t particularly crowded and the weather was wonderful. I thought this photo of ‘everyday’ life was interesting with the various types of boats in the water as well as the adjacent shoreline in the distance.

(Portofino, Italy | February 1999)

Photography, Travel

Roman Church

Back when film cameras were still used regularly, I was always surprised when a print came out well since I normally used the local drug store to develop my film. For this trip, I went to a ‘professional’ camera shop to develop my photos – and what a difference! The photos came out beautiful.

I could not believe the color in this photo – the saturation of the blue in the sky with wisps of white clouds made such a great background to the vibrancy of the building and great contrast in the dark areas. For the life of me, I wish I knew the name of this beautiful church, but I think it was somewhere near the Roman Forum.

(Roma, Italia | Febbraio 1999)

Photography, Travel

Venice Light

The second time I visited Venice it was during the early fall.  The weather was still warm during the evening hours which made for a nice stroll along the waterfront.  It was just before sunset when we found a number of these ‘lightposts’ in the water with the gorgeous skies in the background.

(Venice, Italy | September 2004)

Photography, Travel

Venetian Gondola Ride At Sunset

After spending time in Venice and witnessing first hand the glory of the Grand Canal, it’s not surprising that a gondolier propelling a couple through the canals evokes a sense of romance and splendor.  This was taken on 35mm film and I love how the gondola and people are in silhouette while the buildings in the background still retain a bit of color.

(Venezia, Italia | Febbraio 1999)

Photography, Travel

Basilica San Petro Cupola | St. Peter’s Dome

In 1999, I surprised family and friends by deciding to travel through Italy for a month . . . alone.

It was a wonderful time for new sights, sounds, tastes as well as self-discovery. Armed with 1 rolling luggage, a backpack, camera, guide books and a thick novel, I made my way through Rome, Central Italy, Florence, Venice and the Coast.

In Rome, I made sure to visit Vatican City to tour the Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica and eventually made my way to the very top of the dome. As you near the top, the walls cave inward giving you a sense of vertigo! This picture was taken with the camera positioned perpendicular to the floor.

In 2004, I returned to Italy with my husband and challenged him to see how fast we can make it up the 320 steps to the top. We did it in less than 10 minutes 🙂

(Vatican City, Italy | February 1999)