Friday, March 24, 2017

Northern California Coast Pt.1

Connor and I just got back from a trip up to Oregon to celebrate my Oma's birthday. Usually when we go up to Oregon, it is a pretty direct trip up and back. We pass by all sorts of things that look interesting, but don't have time to stop for. This trip we stopped.

After spending a night in Willits, we got up bright and early-ish to see what we could see. First on the list was the Drive Thru Tree in Leggett. There are several drive thru trees, but after one got blown over in a recent storm, it seems like a good idea to take advantage of driving through this one. It's five bucks to drive through the park, which includes some really impressive redwood sculptures.

The next place we stopped was Confusion Hill. It was confusing to find, so we made all sorts of jokes about the origins of the name. Also worth noting is that there are long stretches of the coast where there is no cell phone signal. We relied on signage to find the confusing hill. It turned out to be very similar to the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. I wondered if the same architect of the Mystery Spot sold their plans to all the different vortex spots.
Although Confusion Hill and the Mystery Spot are similar in architecture, the big difference is that Confusion Hill is a self-tour, which is great if you want to take pictures unhurried. The Mystery Spot is more fun if you want to watch well rehearsed demonstrations. 

After getting really dizzy at Confusion Hill we kept going up the road until we found the One Log House.

It really is made out of one hollowed-out log. For a dollar, you can go inside. I commented to Connor that it looked bigger than our first apartment together.

At this point, we were on the Avenue of the Giants, which Connor and I had been on before we were married. It was dark when we drove it, so it was nice to see it during the day. We stopped at the visitor center to see if we could find a Humboldt Redwoods State Park patch. They were out, but we learned about a great program that is going on in the parks in the area.
Although this is geared towards children, the volunteers told us anyone could do this. Each of the participating parks have a little brochure that has clues in it. You go to a certain trail in the area, follow the clues, and by the end you have to fill in the last clue to earn a patch. Even if the visitor center is closed it is possible to go onto to get a brochure. Once you find the final clue, you can fill out a little form to have them send you a patch. Of course it is a bit more fun when the visitor center is open and you can just do it in person.

A treasure hunt that ends in earning a patch? I was hooked immediately. We went to the Rockerfeller Loop Trail and followed the clues. It turned out to be quite educational. We learned about burls and snags. We also came across a large downed redwood that must have not been able to withstand the last storm

We also spotted a few things that weren't in the brochure, like this Trillium.

Near the end of the hike, I dropped my lens cap. It turned out to be serendipitous because as we turned to pick it up, we saw a Rough-Skinned Newt. These guys are really hard to spot. Kudos if you can see it in the picture I took.

If we had more time, we would have hiked more. As it happened, we had a dinner date with some friends a bit further north, so we headed up and met up with them. We talked so long that we closed out the restaurant. All in all, it was a great day. Connor and I fell into bed absolutely exhausted from all the fun we had.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sock, Sock, Sweater

The weather has just turned warm, which means the two new pairs of socks I finished will have to wait to be enjoyed. Luckily I have my socks out on display, so I can enjoy looking at them while I wait to wear them. 
The first pair is my Hieroglyphic Socks. I started these in September and have been working on them on and off until now. They required quite a bit of attention when I started, but I found that once I got my rhythm, I could knit them at knit night or while semi-distracted. They never quite got to car-knitting level, though. I didn't like putting them down mid-round.

I did make some edits to the pattern. I didn't care for the recommended heel, so I put a heel flap in. And rather than leave it plain blue, I took a page from Stickfia's book and kept the stripes going. I did find that the golden stripe on either edge of the sock got a little gappy, so I sewed through the blue loops on the heel flap and anchored them with duplicate stitching to the blue stripes on the gusset. I was pleased to find that it worked just like I had hoped.

I'm also quite happy with my replacement rainbow socks. It sort of looks like a trick of the camera, but the sock on the left is the old, washed out sock. The one on the right is the new one.

I had hoped to finish while it was still raining, but wasn't quite able to make it. I thought it would be delightful to wear rainbows in the rain. Honestly, I would have been happy wearing rainbows in the sun, but I'm not so happy sweating in rainbows.

Now that both pairs of socks are entirely off my plate, I have been devoting all my knitting time to my Iceland sweater. I'm not quite done with the first sleeve, but I'm getting there. The recommended sizing would have the sweater fall off of my shoulders, so I am entirely ignoring the recommended sleeve/body width and am blocking my progress after every 20 rows or so to make it match my own measurements instead.

So far, so good. The pattern is pretty intuitive and has paired well with Netflix watching. Speaking of which, I have been watching Greenleaf. Or, I should say, Connor and I have been watching Greenleaf. After watching a few episodes by myself and talking about it, Connor thought he would watch an episode with me. We are both sucked in and now I need to find a different show to watch when he isn't around. 

Has anyone else got a show that has just sucked them in? I'd love to hear some recommendations.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Catching Up On Crafting

I've been pretty productive with my various projects as of late. After realizing that I was not quite starting or finishing anything, I knew that I needed to make a list of what was causing each project to stagnate. It seems silly, but every project just had one step that needed to be worked on before I could go full steam ahead. 

For the Iceland sweater, I needed to swatch, so swatch I did. The swatch wasn't very helpful though. Since the pattern doesn't have a very good schematic, it was difficult to know how to successfully make the adjustments I wanted to. Eventually I decided that maybe I should just cast on. If it goes badly, I'll just rip it out and try again.

Next up is this test knit on my to do list for a while. It doesn't have a solid deadline, so I've waited until I had some brain power to put to it. I did my swatch, got confused over the stitch pattern directions, got clarification from the designer, and cast on. Of course after I got past the cuff, I realized that I had another question. This project will sit for a little while longer, but I'm glad to have gotten it started.

I recently wove in the ends to two different pairs of socks, but they still weren't being added to my sock rotation. I've mentioned in the past that I like to re-fix the color in all my socks before wearing them. If I have several pairs of socks close to completion, I'll wait until they are all done so I can do them together. I wasn't getting around to re-fixing the color and I realized it was because the Hieroglyphic Socks were a little too long in the toes. I wanted to fix the toes before re-fixing all the color. I don't know about the rest of you, but I wasn't really motivated to unweave in the ends and rip back color work. I finally caved and am pleased to say that both the Hieroglyphic and Rainbow socks are now re-fixed and drying.

My lavender sachet project also had been languishing. I often thought about embroidering, but kept putting it off because I needed to set up the fabric. After having a good think, I worked out the spacing I needed between each sachet. (2.25 inches) And to prevent myself from putting it off again, I'm sewing all the bag boundaries before I keep embroidering. It's going pretty well.

The last project that I'd been putting off was catching up on my comics. After Hawai'i, I was nearly two weeks behind. I've been slowly catching up by doing two comics a day: the previous days' comic and one from when we were in Hawai'i. Eventually I'll be up to date.

How has everyone else dealt with stagnating projects? Do you find a list helps or do you have a different method?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

To My Husband On Our Second Anniversary

Oh Connor, who knew that this last year of marriage would be a tough one to get through. Not because of any friction between us... just that life decided to throw everything at us at once: illness, family deaths, loss of friendships. As it turns out, all that hardship has further glued us together.
The Death Valley trip we went on with Joe

Even through it all, you have been kind and compassionate even when I've fallen apart. You kept up on chores on the weeks I could hardly get off the couch. You've had a good attitude even when things we hoped for didn't work out. Thank you.
The time we went to the Rocky Mountains and took the wrong trail with your family on the way to Dream Lake. 

Despite it being a tough year, we still were able to have fun together. Looking back, I'm really surprised by all the travel we still managed to do. We made it to Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Kentucky, and Hawaii together. We also traveled to different spots in California like Sequoia National Park, the Alabama Hills, Death Valley, Camp Layman, and Pinnacles National Park.
The time we went on that all-day canoeing trip in Kentucky. We chose the fiberglass canoe because it wasn't hot from the sun. It turned out to be superior because had a flat bottom and didn't get stuck on the rocks.

Looking back, I can now confirm that when we got married I got the better end of the deal.

 Happy anniversary, my love.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Stitches West 2017

About a month before Stitches West happened this year, I decided that maybe I did want to take a class. I've been interested in trying out weaving. The all-day weaving class was full, but Deborah Jarchow was doing a one hour market session on how to set up a Rigid Heddle loom. She was an excellent teacher and I have all sorts of aspirations now. Besides the class, I spent two different days at the market. I know, I know... I have plenty of yarn. I'm weak.

This is what came home with me. In the top left are three skeins of Spincycle Yarns Independence in the Payback color way. I'm planning to make an Arrowhead Cardigan out of it. In the top center are two skeins of Lost City Knits Foothill Fingering in the Cerrillos color way. I plan on using it as the weft for a scarf I'd like to weave with my skein of Big Sur yarn that has been waiting for the perfect project. On the second row on the left are four horn toggles from Buttons! to go along for the Arrowhead Cardigan. I really liked how Rachel of Spincycle Yarns had made that mod to her sweater, so I am going to do the same. To the right of the buttons is a bit of fiber by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks BFL Dark in the Oaxaca color way I got from the Carolina Homespun booth. Earlier this month Connor had taken me to the Cirque du Soliel show that was in town for my birthday. It was called Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico. The Oaxaca fiber just captured the feeling of the show so well I had to have it.
I knew I shouldn't have gotten within 100 yards of the Canon Hand Dyes booth. I have so much yarn from her... but I love it. Of course upon walking by her booth, the yarn sirens called and I gave in immediately. The two striped skeins in the bottom left are Canon Hand Dyes on the Charles Merion Sock base. The grey/red one is called Bucky and the yellow/grey one is called Hufflepuff. The bottom left purple skein is Miss Babs Hot Shot in the Amethyst color way. I plan to pair it with another skein in my stash for some color work socks. In the bottom center of the picture are two orange skeins. The one to the left is Hedgehog Fibers Twist Sock in the color way Monarch. (There's the Luzia influence showing up again.) The orange skein on the right is Material Culture Fiber Arts on the Modern Era base. The color way was an exclusive for the show and it was called Indian Paintbrush, after the flower of the same name.
Along the right side of the picture, you might have noticed some mugs. Pawley Studios was at the show and I couldn't help myself. The top mug is for me and says, "No Skein No Gain." The middle mug is a Hufflepuff mug for Connor. He was pretty excited when I brought that home. The bottom mug I got to help encourage my father with his knitting. It says, "Knit Long And Prosper." I was going to give it to him for Father's Day, but I couldn't even wait 24 hours after buying it to give it to him. I was too excited.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Knitting Basket Full Of Socks

It has been raining buckets all month. I think we've had maybe four days of sun. What has that all added up to? Lots of knitting time of course! At the moment, I only have socks in my knitting basket.

I've been diligently working away on my Hieroglyphic Socks that I started in September. I only have to knit the toe on one of the socks. But, like all my other recent socks, this one has the potential to misbehave.
Yarn is Lisa Souza Hardtwist Merino Petite in the Coachella and St. Louis Blues color ways 

The stitches are a bit loose where I picked up along the heel flap. I have a plan on how to fix it, but I'm not sure how the fix will affect the length of the sock. So until I'm sure that I got the length of the first sock's toe correct, I'm going to hold off on knitting the second sock's toe.

The other two socks pairs I have in my basket I had cast on just before we left for Hawaii. I've knit the Haleakala socks before, although they have since been gifted to my Mum. I thought that since we were going to Haleakala, it made perfect sense to knit a new pair. Well, after casting on and knitting a round and a half, I realized that I probably wasn't going to work on anything with a cabled pattern while on vacation. Although, I still took them to Haleakala. They sat in the car while we hiked. Now that we are back, I've started to knit on them again.
Yarn is Malabrigo Yarn Sock in the Pocion color way

I still wanted some knitting for the airports. Since Haleakala socks were out, I also ended up casting on a pair of vanilla socks. They might look familiar because I have knit the exact same pair of socks before. The yarn washed out and the rainbows aren't as bright anymore on the old pair. I've since learned how to better maintain my socks, so I'm knitting this pair again.
Yarn is Canon Hand Dyes Charles Self Striping Sock in the Yoga For Elephants and Silver color ways

I've also kept up at my embroidery. After sewing most of one side, I realized that I'd done it really crooked. I ripped it all back out, took some deep breaths, and started again. It's ready to be sewn into a sachet, although I think I might wait to have a few more ready before I break out the sewing machine again.

Well, that's what I've been working on for the last 2 1/2 weeks. I hope to have the Hieroglyphic Socks finished up soon so I can cast on a sweater. What has everyone else been working on? And what do you hope to start?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hawai'i Pt. 4 - Volcano National Park, Kīlauea Iki, And The Goddess Pele

Day 7: I woke up feeling under the weather, so we drove the 30 minutes to Hilo to get some medicine and some supplies. When we got back, we had lunch where the resident cat, Figaro, tried various ways of persuasion to get part of our sandwich.
Feed me, human

When staring didn't work, she started rubbing up on us to charm us into giving up our sandwiches. I told her that I had a pushy dog, so I was used to resisting the charms of cute animals.
I know you have a tasty food. Let me put my fur all over you so that you are enticed into giving it to me.

After lunch, I had a nap before we went to Volcano National Park. After going to the visitor center and getting a patch, we headed over to the Kīluea Iki trailhead.

The hike is 4 miles (6.5km) and descends into what had been a lava lake in 1959.
Here we are on the guided tour to Mordor.

It is solid now, but it is still hot enough underneath that when rainwater gets into the cracks, it steams right back out.

After ascending again, we found ourselves next to the Thurston Lava Tube. We went ahead and added the extra mile (1.5k) to the hike before getting back to our car.

I had heard that the best time to see the volcano was at sunset. It was getting close to it, so we drove down the road to enjoy the show. Halemaʻumaʻu Crater inside Kīlauea is where the volcano goddess Pele is believed to live. We watched for a good hour, every once in awhile seeing bits of lava fly into view. We heard it said that there is something magical about watching earth being made that is younger than you. I'd say it is true.

Day 8: I woke up feeling terrible. My head was so stuffed up I had trouble swallowing. Our wonderful hostess, Joan, let us know that some people get really stuffed up near the volcano. She gave us a ginger water tonic and golden milk. Within a few hours I was able to breath out of my nose again (a miracle), but was unhappy to find out that I had a 101˚F (38˚C) temperature. We had originally planned to do a 10 mile (16k) hike to see the lava flowing into the sea. I wasn't too broken up to miss it though. We had heard that the view wasn't that great because of how the rock had been breaking and falling into the sea. Instead I had probably the most pleasant sick day I've ever had, sleeping with a warm breeze and happy bird songs wafting over me. Connor sat outside and read some of the mythology books we had bought during the trip. It was a really restful day after packing it all in. I felt much better the next day, when we flew back home.
Waiting at the airport in Maui with a view of Haleakala before our final leg of the journey home

I'll admit, we went a little nuts with the souvenirs. We bought a bunch of books, including one on the Hawaiian language to satiate Connor's thirst for knowledge. The bracelets we made and the manta ray necklace we got at the lū'au, but baptized the night we saw all the rays. (I'd like to think that is why we saw so many.) We had forgotten our reusable bag at home, so we rectified that while at the grocery store. I also wanted a silly mug. The most unplanned purchase was the little man in the barrel. We saw this young girl holding it in a store telling her brother, "Look at this." She lifted the barrel, then said, "Boom." You'll have to come over to our house to see what made her say boom.

We also got quite the collection of magnets and patches. I've already added the locations of the patches to the souvenir patch map.

While this vacation was a challenge to what my expectations were, overall, I'd say it was a great success. Now I just need to recover from it.
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