Thursday, October 02, 2008

Alaska - land of soul touching beauty and bizarre politics

I recently traveled to Anchorage Alaska for work. I attended a meeting with representatives from other Federal agencies and from Alaskan agencies, universities, and non-profit groups to discuss the lack of geographic information for the state. It is very far behind the coverage and quality of the data in the lower 48 states. This lack of information has an impact on plans to deal with many issues in the state such as coastal erosion, air travel (poor elevation data means more accidents), settlement of native property rights, pipeline development and several other important issues facing the future of Alaska.
I met many wonderful people on my trip and was in constant amazement by the beautiful landscapes. I will not comment on Alaska's politics (this is not a political blog), but will say that I would be in a minority there. Liberal, vegetarian, tree-hugging, feminist, fiber obsessive, anti-gun, hippie-renaissance women like myself are not plentiful, though, they do exist.

This first picture is of me in my recently finished Pi Shawl standing on Byron Glacier (near Portage Glacier in Girnwood just south of Anchorage).

I knit this in Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace 'Black Purl' and 'Blackberry'. I used about 2600 yards of yarn and the shawl is huge. It is so comfortable and versatile to wear. Here is a picture that shows off the concentric rings. It began as a travel knitting project in the spring, so I stuck to the simple, concentric circle pattern which shows off the variegated colors well. I choose to do a border of flowers with a lace pattern knitted onto the edge in the solid blackberry.

I flew to Alaska a couple of days before my meeting. I took a train from Anchorage to Seward, a boat trip out into Resurrection Bay, then the train back, all in one day. It is arranged to make this possible for visitors and it worked out very conveniently. The views from the train are spectacular (I wish my photos could show the grandeur, it was absolutely breathtaking). The boat trip enabled us to see a variety of wildlife and a glacier.

Sea Lions in Resurrection Bay. We also saw bald eagles, sea otters, seals, two type of puffins, kittiwakes and other gulls. From the train we saw moose, mountain goats, Dall sheep and beluga whales. Later in the week I saw more moose and a black bear.

At the conference, we saw two young moose eating from a planter outside of our meeting room window on the campus of Pacific University in Anchorage. Right after this photo was taken, the FedEx truck's engine startled the moose, and, as they ran away, one had the bamboo stake hanging around it's neck. Later it was spotted after having shook it off.

After the several days of meetings, I went to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, about an hour north of Anchorage. I bought some Quiviut, the soft fiber down from the Musk Ox. I also had a tour of a musk ox farm in the Palmer area. They are such ancient a gorgeous creatures.

The women that I met at the demonstration area of the fair were very friendly and generous. They shared tips on spinning and fiber blending. Here is a photo of a one-of-a-kind spinning wheel. This woman's husband made it for her! Marjorie even shared some fiber and a spindle kit with me. It made me want to move to Alaska to join their guild!

I have so much about creating with fiber, my travels and life in general to share that I will be post frequently now that I again have access to blogging more easily (computer issues that I will not waste your time with.)

I leave you with one last photo. The beauty of milky glacial runoff (due to the silt content).


CiCi and CAJtalk said...

Hi, just seeing this.. great post. Love your pictures. Great trip.

linda said...

hi ran into your blog when i was searching for something about spindles :) i liked one of your pictures quite a bit, and wondered whether you have contact info for jen at crowhill house fiber works. she seems to have stopped publishing her blog, but her spindles look luscious. if you have any info and don't want to post publicly, you can email me:


linda said...

found her :)
your images are great to see!