Catalonia – Costa Brava

I started biking toward France at Costa Brava starting from Sant Feliu de Guixols. I am really horrible with names, so after checking and immediately forgetting the name of the next town over and over I fina2015-09-07 13.41.42lly did resort to writing it on my finger with a pen so I wouldn’t have to look it up at every next sign post. Color is what I remember, and I will be knitting wraps and sweaters from the colors I saw for years to come. Everyone is so friendly and helpful in Catalonia. Whenever I pulled out a map I got good advice where to go and what not to miss. I headed for Begur not quite realising that it was more than 200 meters above sea level. Ended up pushing my bike uphill a bit. Got to this tiny village on cliffs with a castle on top as they were sweeping up from a 3 day festival. Banners and decorations everywhere. I of course had to push my bike all the way to the top of the castle so that it could take in the view.
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Begur has a beautiful hotel that has a birds nest, ships and all kinds of whimsical details lovingly put into the old stone walls. It’s all topped off by a metal tree on a pedestal. I will have to go back there one day and book myself a room.

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Downhill to Pals where there are still street lamps that basically are a metal basket where a few logs get tossed in. Pals is from the 9th century with at least one family still living in the same home they have had since 1400 or so. It finally dawned on me that these villages have are the result of hundreds of years of remodel on remodel. You build a village from rock, add-on and add-on for each generation. War comes and it gets partially destroyed, you rebuild, and add-on and remodel… That’s why arches end in walls and things go in circles and it looks like the architect was drunk. 2015-09-07 16.08.04

Here you see the slits that archers used to protect the village from North African pirates. Yup, right there next to the red doggie poo container. Now how do you explain the value of using that container to the 10th, 11th, 12th century man shooting arrows from the slits to protect his wife and children?  Not possible.

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Time to move on to Peratallada. Inland on the Costa Brava each village has its own charm, all an easy bike ride apart but centuries ago stone walls were built to protect them from each other and foreign invaders. They also learned from those same invaders. Rock pebbles were deliberately placed so that rainwater slowly ran over them evaporating and cooling the air. That’s from the Moors.

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Peratallada is partially carved out of rock, and you can see where ancient cart wheels eroded the rock. Notice the wood fire street light above the arch. I would love to see it lit up at night.

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I love the colors of the doors with all the rock and metal. This is inspiration for a few wraps and sweaters for sure right here. Apparently Hobbits live in Catalonia, because I saw a few of these half arch doorways.2015-09-07 17.41.21

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It’s just amazing to me that a building can be a home for 900 years or more. Then again if its made of stone, it’s there to stay, and you don’t have to go out and purchase new rocks at the building supply store, just redo and redo.

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Finally got to a campsite by the sea at Illes Medes. I didn’t plan to buy a tent, so I didn’t have my sleeping bag with me. I did buy a new sleeping bag liner made of turquoise silk. It weighed much less than the cotton liners, plus silk is warmer than cotton. I did have my emergency blanket foil, and due to a backpacking mix up I had used it instead of a sleeping bag on a hiking trip to the Trinity Alps in northern California. You end up looking like a burrito, but it does keep you warm.  

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2015-09-08 14.30.16The next day I biked to the opposite side of this bay to Roses. I went all the way to the furthest point because I was determined to visit the national park, Parc natural del Cap de Creus. Making a quick stop to see Sant Marti d’Empuries, I could not resist going up another hill to see another castle fortified village. I found a well, with well-worn wash basins, drainage holes and about 900 years worth of village gossip still ringing from the depths.

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While we are on the subject of water. I have one big bottle for only water, and one bottle for juice or Gatorade. If you have ever had leg cramps in a sleeping bag you will understand why the daily supply of the electrolytes and salts that Gatorade has is vital to a long bike or hike trip. The powder sport drinks I can find in Latvia are more carbohydrate & caffeine based and I prefer a good cappuccino for that. Well I kept refilling and refilling my Gatorade/juice bottle until I not2015-09-09 16.31.48iced some spots of slimy something growing. This is a pure genius campsite solution to that. Without thinking I got the cheaper two pack of toothbrushes, and they just happen to have bendable necks that can be bent back to scrub the bottom of my bottle. A bit of duct tape work and voila! Oops, that’s French. Sorry…my brain has a foreign language drawer where everything gets tossed in. I only studied French one year in College, but it kept coming out when I meant to speak Catalonian or Spanish. Mind you my Spanish knowledge comes from eating Mexican.

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I wanted to bike from Roses over the mountain to Cadaques. The Catalonian working at the campsite sketched out a map of how he did the route, said it took 3 hours. I could not find any good biking maps with elevations at any of the tourist information spots. Everyone is staring at the beach, and knows nothing about the mountains behind them. Halfway to Cala Montjoi a German man asked where I was going and showed me the app he had that mapped out a route for him. He made me take photos of it and the posted map in the park. People are so very nice and helpful. By the time I got to Montjoi I was not sure if my tires would make it all the way to Cadaques on the sharp 2015-09-09 14.50.24rocky dirt roads. I saw another German couple with a good map, that they got at the tobacco shop (wish the tourist info places had told me that) and they said they would bike a bit down the road to check it for me. An hour later the man came back and said my tires will get a flat, better not try. I have had 2 flats this summer while biking in Latvia with panniers full. I rode back to Roses and saw the most beautiful cove on the way. I must go back, I was too tired to go back down to seal level a third time in one day. I had to bike to Figueres to take the train to Barcelona the next day, not enough time this trip.

2015-09-09 15.18.332015-09-09 12.21.24Stayed tuned, tomorrow Barcelona…..

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Catalonia – Costa Brava

Catalonia – Ripoll to the Mediterranean

Its been a long time since I have had a chance to take a vacation out of Latvia. Most summers I have worked 7 days a week selling at local crafts markets and knitting to replace inventory. I was exhausted and realised I can’t keep doing that. I really needed a break, so I got on a plane to one place I always wanted to see – Barcelona. That along with a bike trip through the Pyrenees was the perfect jump start to my traveller spirit.2015-09-02 18.40.54

I landed in Barcelona, rented a bike and took the train to Ripoll… well kind of. I was looking for an ornate Grand Central Train Station when almost too late I found out the train and metro are the same. 7 minutes left I took my bike packed with paniers down stairs and with 3 minutes left ended up going down an escalator with my fully loaded bike. Scary!!! That so rattled me, especially so because a small child was going down ahead of me, that I got on the first train that immediately arrived. Seeing the sun and the sea I rejoiced that I was going in the correct direction. An hour later, still seeing the sea I realised I was not on any of the maps that I had, and became aware of the fact that I should be seeing mountains instead of coast.

Got off in Calella and a sweet security guard wrote instructions on how to go back and get on the right train. We were both laughing, at and with me. I am sure that if you can laugh at yourself so much of life becomes fun, full of good stories and experiences. Try it and see!

2015-09-03 16.36.44Finally got off in Ripoll and started on the Greenway, Via Verda. It used to be a coal train but got converted into a biking hiking trail.

2015-09-03 16.56.35  Going through the train tunnels I could not help doing a toot-toot train whistle just to hear the echo.2015-09-03 19.42.49 Pretty sure I am not the first biker to do that:) Stayed the night in Saint Joan de les Abadesses and then started the climb to Olot2015-09-04 11.51.32.2015-09-04 11.54.252015-09-04 11.54.542015-09-04 12.23.36

On the way down I passed a spring that has obviously been there quenching the thirst of travellers for hundreds if not thousands of years. The pavement seems silly next to it, a dirt trail would be more appropriate. Here is a bit of the very Catalonian cow sounds I heard:

2015-09-04 12.45.56 2015-09-04 12.45.072015-09-04 13.12.122015-09-04 15.04.49The youth hostel in Olot was insanely ornate.2015-09-04 17.29.47 a real city mansion. It so happened that there was an annual festival in town and everything was booked for the weekend so I could only stay one night. I did the reasonable thing and went out and bought myself a tent. An early birthday present for me. My old tent started leaking a few years ago, and after about 13 years I finally admitted that I really need a new tent. The store staff did not want to let me set up the new tent to see if I fit. They both were a bit below my shoulder in height but I finally convinced them and they gasped in shock when they saw that my head and feet were at the ends, I have to sleep diagonally. I wanted to get a better tent, but this one was half the price and has a higher roof, so it will do for now. I can actually do a bit of yoga in it to readjust my back.

I walked out to get some food and ran smack into to the Olot festival, serendipity at its finest:

2015-09-05 12.18.20 From Olot to Girona its theoretically downhill, but there are some extra steeper routes you can do to avoid biking next to the road. I did all of them. I love when life just happens to have a natural way to exercize so that you are not wasting your time going to the health club, but seeing and doing and getting in shape as a bonus benefit. Lots of volcanoes, I kept going in circles trying to visit the volcano park, but the maps and reality just did not match up.

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Usually the trail was well marked, but there was one town where it abruptly ended. I circled back and forth trying to figure it out. I continued out of town following other bikers. A few kilometers out I saw a sign to a town I wanted to visit. I followed those signs, ended up using GPS google earth, found the village center and was stunned that the station was identical to a station I had seen earlier in the day.  Deja vu until I came to the same abrupt end of the trail and realised its just my insanely awful verbal memory. I can remember colors forever, but forget everything to do with language instantly. Oh well, more exercise. Whats a few kilometers?2015-09-05 14.28.01

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An incredibly beautifully built water station. I love the attitude, an industrial building designed with beautiful details.2015-09-05 18.27.33

The mountains and the valley between Girona and the sea.

2015-09-05 18.17.13W2015-09-05 18.25.09hat is this tree? Looks like eucalyptus bark but the leaves are like maple. Its lining a lot of roads and streets in Catalonia.

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My very last train tunnel, you can see the Mediterranean in the not so far distance. The Via Verde track ended with train bumpers. If I kept going I would end up in Africa, Algiers to be precise. Next stop Cost Brava, to be continued…

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Catalonia – Ripoll to the Mediterranean

Furry friends and woodland inspiration

My cousin asked if I could feed 2 cats, a huge dog and a burunduks that lives uncaged in his daughters bedroom for a week? I had no idea what a burunduks is. I asked to see a photo so our first encounter would not result in an ear piercing scream and heart attack. Plus I wouldn’t want to feed the wrong small furry thing for a week.

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We met, he’s cute, no scream, blood pressure normal. Looks like a chipmunk, tastes like chicken… no no not really, just kidding:)

Another task was to collect the birch sap that’s flowing right now. It’s the new health craze, better than coconut water according to this:

http://www.medicaldaily.com/coconut-water-history-taste-5-benefits-birch-tree-sap-317048

Latvians and a lot of Northern Europeans have collected and drunk birch sap possibly for eons. It has all the nutrients that the trees need to sprout leaves, so it’s like a burst of spring energy for humans. I collected 5-10 liters per day. I drank as much as I possibly could. The sap was flowing faster that I could drink it down. Hated to waste it so I gave some to the 3 cats (took mine along), dog and burunduks. Dogs will drink anything, they don’t care, cats are snobs, burunduks happily lapped it up.

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My cousin’s house is at the edge of the woods, so I loaded my bike with bottles of birch sap and headed off for a few hours of biking. Having GPS on my iPhone opens up the world of possibilities. I can actually get to a crossroads and know that if I go left there is a long loop around a wetlands marsh.

the road ahead

I get the colors for my knitwear from nature. I rarely look at a photo and say I want to knit exactly this. I just soak it up and then when I knit the colors just make sense, I use color memories subconsciously. Heres a few samples of future knits:

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From now on when I put new knits in my shop (http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/) I am going to match the knit to a nature photograph with the color inspiration. Its fun for me to match it all up, and it may be fun for you to follow along and see how an artistic mind works.

You can follow me at Wrapture by Inese on Pinterest and Facebook.

If you see something you would like to have me knit for you, send me a note and let me know.

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/

Furry friends and woodland inspiration

Wrapture by Inese — Home

via Wrapture by Inese — Home.

Today was shadow day, and my friend Diana convinced me to let a few grade 9 and 10 students spend a day visiting my studio. The three aspiring designers put in a good day of work helping me with a photo shoot. They styled my knits for photographs, named them, wrote up poetic descriptions, asked a lot of questions, and got a pretty good idea of what a day in the life of an independent designer is like. I also told them about working for huge companies, and why I love working for myself. Read what they see in the colors of these scarves:

fire-water-earth_236

Within me there is fire, there is spark, energy and passion that can’t be tamed, however we need water to shape ourselves into the people we are, it gives us peace and confidence to go on with our life’s and stay motivated towards our goals. Moreover, earth is the one that soothes us, and keeps us all balanced and strong, and shows us the way.

…by Rebecca

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/product/fire-water-and-earth-infinity-scarf

flamingo_73

Although I have never been to Africa, I can visualise a flamboyance of flamingos walking in a slow, but yet energetic pace towards a peaceful lagoon, spending their days relaxing and living life confidently. I have always admired them for standing up – proud and tall, not worrying and creating balance of their own.

…by Rebecca

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/product/flamingo-infinity-scarf

bullfinch_78

Have you ever seen a little bullfinch sitting on a mountain ash, that is covered in clean fresh white snow? When the sun is just rising in the winter morning, and the long night’s blizzard is over, and everything in the streets is covered in white, a little bullfinch sits on a branch of a mountain ash, and snow drops from it, and he sings his silent song, but it is the only sound, so the loudest.

…by Anna

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/product/bullfinch-infinity-scarf

mermaid_163

A mermaid lives in the deep sea, and she can sing a beautiful song. Sometimes she is sad, do you know the story? Hans Christian Anderson wrote it, so if you have not yet read it you really should.

…by Rongchang

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/product/mermaid-infinity-scarf

autumn_31

Don’t you love the sound of leaves crunching after your steps? All covered in orange, red, yellow and still green leaves. The wind so gentle and patient, sun hiding behind the trees, not wanting to leave. Autumn teaches us that change is truly beautiful, and once the evening comes I safely fall asleep with the sound of rain.

…by Rebecca

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/product/autumn-infinity-scarf

Well done girls, and a huge thank you from me!

Wrapture by Inese — Home

February 5, 2015

Haven’t been to this spot in a while. Skied 4 hours today. It’s so nice that the sun waits until 5pm to set now. I saw two white tailed deer, I stopped to stare, and they stopped to look back. When they ran off into the woods all I could see were their two white bottoms bouncing against the darkness of the woods. It made them so easy to spot that I wondered how and why evolution worked in this way. Maybe to keep the population down, I don’t know?

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I see color everywhere, subtle shades. You really have to look closely

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Can you see the resemblance here?

Cloud, morning mist, birches and snow, lots of subtle shades
Cloud, morning mist, birches and snow, lots of subtle shades.

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/color-library

and for an earthier mood

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Like warm raisin toast.

Browns and lavenders, raisin to ocher
Browns and lavenders, raisin to ocher

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/color-library

February 5, 2015

January 26, 2015

Yesterday I spent 4 hours biking to and through the woods. 34 kilometers or so, not much for me, but considering I spent a lot of time crunching through frozen rained on snow it was a workout, and I really needed to clear my head and think.

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I have LOVED the fact that I can design and knit whatever I want, and for the past few years people all over the world (29 countries) have enthusiastically supported me. It was all going so well, this fall was better than ever. I knew that with the money I earned in November alone I could take a trip to New Zealand to relax and research adding some quality wool to my collection.

Then Etsy decided to completely redo their site and as a result my shop got almost completely shut down just at the start of the Xmas season. I am devastated, stunned, furious, depressed. I still can barely believe it. The only comfort is that it’s not just me, a lot of shops have been obliterated by an Etsy move to look good before an IPO that backfired a bit. My sales were up by 30% each year for 4 years, and then in one day they went down by 75%, and now are a negative 90% of last year. Etsy helpfully says “everything is functioning correctly”, and “Sellers have always been held responsible for managing and marketing their shop”.

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My response, is ok, so I will be responsible and not expect anyone at Etsy to help bring customers to my shop. I also see no reason to pay percentages to Etsy if they no longer work for me and my customer.

I got up and moved to my own place where I am in charge, and the full responsibility and full rewards go to me, so here I am!

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My new shop is by no means finalised. I started knitting and embroidering sweaters, and am planning a collection of sweater palettes where I can paint with yarn. I sold something similar in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago gift shop in the 80s.

Take a look at:

http://shop.wrapturebyinese.com/

Wish me luck and thank you for visiting!

Inese

January 26, 2015

How to fix a snag

I just made this video on how to fix a snag in a Wrapture by Inese knit. Thanks to Helen for asking!

Video