Tag Archive | vacations

Harry Potter Vacation

Brace yourselves, friends: this one has a lot of photos! But they’re all super fun, at least if you like Harry Potter (and who doesn’t?). We took an actual family vacation recently, our first real vacation in about three years. The kids and I are HP nuts, and I really wanted to take them to the theme park at Universal Studios before the girl grows up and moves out. She’ll be a senior this year, so my time was limited, and I managed to convince the husband that we should do it this year. We kept it short (only three days in Florida) but managed to pack a TON of fun into those three days.

I wanted to make the most of the experience and do the whole typical tourist thing, so I chose a hotel onsite. We stayed at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which was a super-fun 60s-themed hotel with bright decor, mid-modern furniture and oldies playing in the lobby. There was even a bowling alley and a diner. The kids and I loved it, but found out why it was the cheapest onsite hotel: despite being advertised as “within walking distance”, it was about a mile away. And when you’re walking all over the theme park, you don’t want to walk a mile to and from your hotel. Thankfully, there was a fast and free shuttle that got us there easily. The first two days were spent almost completely at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

We got a first glimpse of Hogwarts as we entered the park, and it was awesome! We started at Hogsmeade and went to Ollivander’s to watch the little show there: Ollivander chose a boy from the audience and went through the wand-choosing with him. Then we went into the shop, where we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of wands to look at! None of us could decide right away, so we moved on. There were a ton of fun storefronts, plus several real shops where you could buy any kind of souvenir you wanted. We went to Honeydukes, had lunch at the Three Broomsticks, tried Butterbeer, had drinks at the Hog’s Head, and rode the rides, and the girl discovered she loves roller coasters! Even the boy rode them, and enjoyed them! I discovered I don’t like scariest ones as much as I did in high school. The Quidditch ride in Hogwarts was scary but fun, the Flight of the Hippogriff was tame but my favorite, and the Dragon Challenge coaster was terrifying for me. I kept my eyes closed and was too scared to scream; the girl and the husband ended up riding it three more times!

A short ride on the Hogwarts Express took us to London, where there were intriguing (but sadly fake) bookstores. We saw the Knight Bus, caught a glimpse of Stan Shunpike, and tried the door at 12 Grimmauld Place. We looked around but didn’t see Diagon Alley, but we did see people going through an alley next to a brick wall…

And there was Diagon Alley! It was amazing! I loved it even more than Hogsmeade. So much attention to detail, so much like the movies. I just wanted every single storefront to be real. We did go into Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Ollivander’s, Florean Fortescue’s, and Madam Malkin’s. I wanted the wool store, with the window display of self-knitting needles, to be real, but alas it wasn’t. By then the girl had chosen her wand (Luna Lovegood) and she’d gotten an interactive one to be able to do spells throughout the park.

Diagon Alley was even more impressive at night, when the lights came on and the dragon atop Gringotts roared. The Gringotts ride was fun, but only good enough to ride once. We definitely preferred the rides at Hogsmeade. Still, it was so fun to go through the bank and see the lobby and the chandeliers and the goblins!

Over the two days, we went back and forth several times. I finally chose my wand (Cho Chang) but also came home with a beautiful Death Eater wand. We ate all the food and bought all the souvenirs and candy, and walked until our feet were ready to fall off. It was marvelous.

The last day in Florida was planned for the husband, as a reward for being a good sport about the theme park. We spent most of the day at the Kennedy Space Center, and we all ended up loving it.

My favorite part was seeing the actual Atlantis shuttle. It was immense; I still can’t fathom how things so huge get into space. The husband was in his element, more excited than he’d been at any point at the park. He spent just as much money there as I did at the parks! It was all fascinating, so many shows and exhibits, and we learned a ton about the space program. The girl and I were too scared to ride the launch simulator, but the boys loved it. My only regret is that we didn’t have time to do any of the bus tours. I can see another trip in the future.

From there we drove to Cocoa Beach to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

I took a ton of photos but none of them capture the magic of the ocean so I’ll just share these two. None of us are water lovers, but we all wished we had suits so we could frolic in the water, which was warm and soft and inviting. We learned a very important lesson: when going near the beach, always bring swimsuits just in case.

We’re settled in back at home now, but I’m still wishing I could go back.

IMG_4061

Souvenir Yarn

Before we left for our vacation to Washington D.C., I made sure to research the local yarn stores. There were several in the metro area, and two actually in DC. I wasn’t sure I’d have a lot of time for yarn shopping, but I hoped. Thankfully, our hotel was only a 15-minute walk from Looped Yarn Works. I can’t remember if it was in Georgetown or Dupont Circle, but I do remember it was full of great old homes and unusual shops. Our second evening there, we had a free evening and I decided to get my yarn fix while I could. We left the hotel at 6:15 and the shop closed at 7, so I knew it would have to be a mad dash.

Thanks to my phone and the Fresh Stitches blog on DC yarn stores, I found the shop easily. We ran up the stairs and turned the handle…the door was locked. It was only 6:45 so I knew we weren’t late, and thankfully someone saw us and welcomed us in with a big smile. We were the only customers in the store, and there was a friendly, chatty guy working that night who showed us around and answered questions. My son liked him because he shared his Swedish Fish. There was one room with the bulkier yarns (worsted to super bulky) and there were brands I could find at home, some I’d heard of but never seen, and some I’d never heard of but coveted desperately. There was a small cozy couch and a couple of chairs in there, and samples everywhere. One of the samples was the Purl Ridge scarf I’d started on the train!

I touched a lot of skeins, but the first one to call my name was this vibrant green wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill. I just love this bright grassy green, and I like that I can use this for felting if I want.

Image

I saw some Manos del Uruguay Maxima, which I can get at home, but this was a gorgeous color.

Image

Then I saw this nifty icy gray yarn, and for some reason, it said I needed two to take home. It makes me think of winter and snowflakes. It’s called Finch, by Quince & Co., and the color name is Iceland. I’d never heard of this brand before but I like it!

Image

I was running out of time so I popped into the other room for a quick peek. It had all the thinner yarns, from sock to DK, plus a big table that I’d love to sit and knit at. I’m not a big sock knitter so this room didn’t tempt me much…until I found the madelinetosh yarn. I’ve read about it, seen pictures, but this was my first personal experience. The colors were vivid and gorgeous, and it felt delightful, but I could resist…until I saw this Iris colorway.Image

That was all I could do in 15 minutes, though I did find a neat little digital row counter by the register. I figured I was done with DC yarn. But late in the trip, we’d had a long day and I wanted some yarn retail therapy. Because I married the best guy in the world, we went back to the yarn store. They were open until 9, so we had plenty of time. There was a knitting group in the bulky room, and my daughter and I marveled at the women knitting without even looking at their needles. There was a beginner’s class in the other room, and I smiled at the women struggling with casting on, remembering when that was me.

I chose some Cascade 128 Superwash in a great pink called Cerise. I can find this yarn at home but I really enjoy knitting with it, and this was a color I hadn’t seen before. I picked out two skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton because it’s one of my favorite yarns, and I’m collecting different colors to make a fabulous blanket someday.

ImageImage

 I explored the sock yarn room a little more this trip, and found two little prizes in a corner. The first was two skeins of Cascade Ultra Pima Fine cotton, and the main reason I snatched them up is because they were only $4 per skein! Plus the cranberry color was pretty.

Image

But my favorite finds that day were these two little skeins of bright blue Urban Silk yarn by Skacel. They’re 80% silk, 20% cotton and feel like a soft, puffy cloud. They were the last two skeins of that yarn, which has been discontinued, and at $8.50 they seemed like a good deal. They should make a lovely little cowl or scarf, maybe a shawlette if I can find the right pattern.

Image

 

Thank goodness my addiction is yarn, because otherwise my suitcase would have been overweight coming home. I had yarn stuffed in every nook and cranny of my suitcase. But what a treat to come home and get to take it out and play with it again! I really enjoyed exploring that store; I wish I’d had time to visit others but can’t imagine any other store being better!

Vacation Knitting

Image

 

So, that’s me in front of the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. (pretty obvious, I know). We just got back from a two-week vacation there, and I’ve been going through photos and souvenirs and trying to get back into the swing of normal life. And by normal life, I mean finding time to knit!

I thought I’d have a lot of time to knit this vacation: we were traveling there by train, so I’d have two days on the train, plus I figured I’d have time in the evenings to pick up my yarn. So I packed six projects, one a WIP and the others new. Of those, I managed to finish the WIP and…that’s it. And that I finished on the train. I didn’t knit at all while I was in DC! We spent all day exploring the city, and by the time we got back to the room, I was exhausted with no energy left for my needles. But like I said, I did finish one project, and it was very rewarding for me. I’d started a shawl a few months ago with some gorgeous Simply Sweet Whipped Cream yarn in my three favorite colors and it was going swimmingly until my dog got hold of it.

Image

I frogged and started over right away, but I’d lost some steam. I’d pick it up occasionally and do a few rows, but mostly it hibernated. I packed it for the train, hoping I could wear it in the evenings in DC, and I finished it that first day on the train. I had to fudge the end a bit, since I ran out of purple sooner than I anticipated, but I’m happy with it. No one would know if I didn’t point it out. Since I started it around Easter, when the colors reminded me of jelly beans, I named it the Jelly Bean Shawl. That’s my son helping me show it off.

Image

Given that I mostly do small projects, I was quite pleased that I was able to complete such a large piece, and I love the pattern. The mohair makes it fuzzy and it sheds on anything it touches, and it’s a warmer shawl than I expected. I thought it’d be more of a summer shawl, but I think it will be perfect for spring and fall evenings. And it’s already seen some use: the girl got cold on the train and borrowed it. My mom also borrowed it later in the trip. I was always too hot to wear it but I’ve got it set back for cooler nights.

Image

I did start another project on the train, a Purl Ridge scarf with one skein of vintage purple Malabrigo from an estate sale. It went quickly and smoothly, and the yarn was a joy to knit with. I pulled it out yesterday on the flight home and got almost to the end of the skein. The problem was I only halfway through the pattern. It has now been frogged and restarted with fewer stitches. It’ll just be a bit shorter.

Sadly, that’s all for recent knitting progress. But just because I didn’t have much knitting time in DC does not mean I did not have yarn time. My hotel was near old Georgetown, and we were a 15-minute walk from a lovely yarn store called Looped Yarn Works. It was a delightful store, and tomorrow I’ll try to post some pictures of all my lovely souvenir yarn.