Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Camp Layman - Family Vacation Edition

Connor and I just got back from a week vacation with my family where we had no internet, phone service, or stress. I often go into great detail with my vacation posts, but so much happened, I think a highlight reel will be much better.

We stayed in one cabin together for the first part of the week, then split to two different cabins later on because Dad decided he didn't want "that much" family time. I think that was inspired by the fact that we were five people to one bathroom.
This was the cabin I stayed in during my childhood.

Much of the week was about sharing my childhood memories with Connor. Dad insisted that we go to the train museum and ride the train. No complaints from us. We got into the car that had an upper viewing area and rode around.

There is an annual boat race that takes place on the nearby river. I hadn't participated before since it had started after I had stopped coming. The idea is to house a raw egg and have it get past the rapids in one piece. Connor and I built the S.S. Shark Tank. The egg survived. We placed third.

Earlier in the week, Connor and Dad did a longer hike around the Lakes Basin area. Mum and I took a shorter route so I could paint. After we all met up and the painting was done, Connor, Mum, and I swam to the little rock you can see in the picture. Or rather, Mum and Connor swam, and I got pulled along while I floated on my back because I was still recovering from my strict diet. The water was quite cold... probably because is was a snow fed lake. Dad stayed on shore, but shouted to us that he was "getting cold" while we were swimming back.

By the end of the week, a hike to the Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout was planned. I was delighted to find that I had enough energy to join in and we made it to the top in good time. I enjoyed finding snow patches on the way up and throwing them at one of our friends. It made the hike go much faster for me. We had lunch at the top, but I chose to save a bag of M&Ms for the car. This was not to be. On the way down we passed some young parents with a child who was clearly out of energy and having a meltdown. I gave my bag away to help them out, but spent the rest of the hike mourning my lack of car M&Ms. 
Going up. The mountain we were summiting is just off picture on the left.

Before leaving town, Yeti insisted on getting an Orange Freeze from the Frostee. Who am I to deny Yeti?
You have to go to the Frosty 10 miles away to get an Orange Chocolate Chip Freeze as opposed to an Orange Freeze. Yeti wanted that during the week too.

Connor and I took a longer route back home so we could see Lake Tahoe. I hadn't seen it in (ahem) decades... and Connor had never seen it. He waded in and pronounced it "not too bad." I was impressed with how close the wildflowers were to shore. 

Per usual, we collected patches and a magnet from places we visited, which included: Donner Pass, the Feather River section of the Western Pacific Railroad, Plumas Eureka State Park which is where gold had been mined, and two patches from Lake Tahoe. One from North Lake Tahoe and one from South Lake Tahoe. I also quite liked the magnet that looked like a geological marker.

Far more things happened on our vacation. There was tubing, rounds of Ping Pong and Shuffle Board, walks to the bridge, star gazing... etc. But rather than record it all, I left my phone in the cabin and took it all in.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Kelp Forest

As a child, I remember going to the beach in winter after storms had gone through. In California, the kelp grows thick. After a storm, some of the plants would inevitably get uprooted and deposited on the beach. My Mum showed me how the little bladders of air that usually help the kelp aloft in the water could be popped just like bubble wrap. Needless to say, I'd be entertained all the way down the beach. Pop, pop, pop.

The Kelp Forest shawl is inspired by the thick forests kelp that can be found in the waters along the California Coast.The stockinette portion of the shawl is knit side to side with stitches being increased and decrease along one side to stop the "stockinette curl." Once the body of the shawl is knit, stitches along one edge are picked up for the edging. The beginning of the edging has a thin line of stockinette to form the "stem" of the kelp. Then the air bladders are knit in before reaching the thick cabled kelp leaves. The whole shawl ends with a picot bind off which accentuates the mesh background.

Two different, yet similar colors of Mithril from The Verdant Gryphon were used in order to capture the subtle look of light shimmering on the kelp below the water: Forest Clearing and Green Water Snake. Just one color can be used just as easily in this pattern.

Kelp Forest can be found on bear-ears.com, ravelry, and craftsy

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

White Rice Is Exciting

Hello friends! The last two and a half weeks have been quite a challenge. The special diet I was put on left me completely exhausted. This week I was told that I am allowed to start reintroducing things to my diet, but I'm being careful and adding only one new thing a day. (As a side note, you know your diet is strict when the idea of plain white rice fills you with joy.) There are more doctor visits to be had, but I'm just celebrating the little things as they come... you know, when I'm not stressing out about all the things I haven't gotten around to.

One of the things I have managed to get around to is finishing up the two baby Giraffe Hat samples. They came out cute! They now live at Green Planet Yarn, which is where you can find kits for these hats.

I also finished my Geographer Socks. They only took me... three months. There was a time I could get a pair of socks out in 8-10 days. Actually, I'm not sure how people can get socks done so quick. Either they knit faster, or, more likely, they have smaller feet than me.
I'm so happy with how these came out: matching and my size

With the Geographer socks finished, I got to go into my stash and pick out my next pair of socks. Out came Stray Cat Socks yarn in the Jaffa color way. My feeling on socks is the louder the better. If I can still hear you when you talk to me, my socks aren't loud enough.

Confession: I just went to Stray Cat's page so I could give you all the link. I'm really tempted by the Lilah color way. So very tempted. I'm going to be good because I'm knitting so slowly and clearly don't need more yarn. But if I needed more yarn, it would be that ball.

Since the Jaffa socks were the only thing on the needles, I decided it was high time to cast on another Equatorial Nights. It should have been for Mum's birthday last month. You can see how far I got on that. It might be awhile before it is done, but at least it has been started.

That's all the current knitting, but not all the current work being done. I've got a shawl pattern to put out this week. If things go well, it will be out tomorrow, if not, Friday instead. So me and my celery juice will be working on that for the next few hours.

Disclaimer: I hate celery and am torturing myself with doctor prescribed healthy things in an effort to never have to go on this terrible diet ever again. Also, I've decided to never drink another straight celery juice after this one. It is salty and weird.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

As The Needles Click

I have not been well for awhile. The last time I mentioned that things were not right was in April. I thought I was on the mend back then, but it wasn't to last. Since then I have visited many a doctor and been probed, scanned, and prescribed. After ruling out some really scary things, I made it to my nutritionist and it looks like we may have found an answer. I'm on a rather strict diet of meat along with certain fruits and vegetables now. I won't lie, I am mourning the loss of cheese, butter, and grains in my diet. (We just bought fancy cheese! Drat.) But if this works, I'll finally feel better.

While this has been going on, I've done my best to keep on knitting, designing, and being generally creative. I've had quite a few days of being exhausted, so progress has been slow. Never the less, I do have a little knitting to show off. I've been working on some shop samples. A baby giraffe hat and the cow variant of the baby giraffe hat.
After the second hat is complete, I'll put together the ears and horns

With all the doctor visits, I've snuck in a round or two of my Geographer socks. I was almost at the toe, but I noticed that there were two consecutive rounds that were rather loose. I don't want these socks to wear out prematurely, so I went ahead and ripped back a little to fix the problem.

Now that the Pucker socks are done, I feel I can use the white to mend my Sheep May Safely Graze socks. It turns out that the white I eventually chose, Rosy Green Wool Cheeky Merino Joy, is really too weak for the heels. Heels are my wear point and after wearing the socks three different times, I have had to mend the heels two different times. I'm planning to rip out the heel (and maybe the toes for good measure) and replace it with some Baa! La Jolla in the La Perla color. I think the Rosy Green Wool will last just fine for the rest of the sock. I'm looking forward to being able to put my sheep socks back into regular rotation.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


When I started the Pucker socks back in the beginning of January, I had visions of finishing them by the end of January. That didn't happen.

I didn't realize when I started that I was going to have to do a 72 stitch sock rather than my usual 64 stitch sock. 22% more sock knitting was going to go into these socks. When I do color work, I often end up doing a 72 stitch sock. No big deal, I told myself. I'll be done in February.

It took a bit longer than usual to get the leg to the length I wanted. I figured I wasn't used to the pattern. When I finished the first heel of the first sock, I read the gusset instructions, which said something like: decrease the gusset every third stitch because mosaic knitting is tighter and you'll need to space out the decreases. Aha! That is why it was taking so long. I needed to knit a third more rounds in order to get the length I needed. All in all, I was going to have to do 55% more knitting than my usual sock knitting amount. I gave up on guessing when I was going to finish.

By the time May rolled around I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to be knitting these socks for the rest of my life. So after finishing some deadline knitting and decided that I was going to be completely monogamous with these socks. Why not? We were clearly going to have to get used to each other now that we were spending the rest of our lives together.

Lo and behold, after spending time on these socks and only these socks, they decided to finish themselves. Maybe they realized how long our lives were really going to be. One sock is slightly bigger than the other. (I'm putting that one on my bigger foot.) And now I can knit new things!

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Midsummer's Night Knit

At Stitches West in 2014, I got to talking with the wonderful people over at Dragonfly Fibers. I left with a skein of yarn and a plan. Despite my vision, the stitches didn't play nice... until now. I'm so happy to present to you all the two piece collection: A Midsummer's Night Knit.

The first piece of the collection consists of the Titania Cowl. The cowl has a triangular bottom that is blended into a more traditional cowl shape. I'm always surprised by how even a gauzy bit of knitting can provide so much warmth. I was pretty cold when we took these photos.... until I put the cowl on.

The second piece to the collection are the Oberon Mitts. Fit for a fairy king... or those who aspire to be fairy royalty, these mitts have a leaf motif on the top of the hand as well as in the thumb gusset.

Both the cowl and mitts can be made from one skein of Damsel. I used the Spanish Moss colorway.

The collection, which is at a discounted price together, can be found on the bear-ears.com and ravelry. They can also be purchased individually. The Titania Cowl can be found at these links: bear-ears.com, ravelry, and craftsy. The Oberon Mitts can be found at these links: bear-ears.com, ravelry, and craftsy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dinosaur Ridge/ Rocky Mountains Pt.2

The next morning, we all got up at a rather early hour to hike in the Rocky Mountains. Mason would have liked to sleep in, but I saw that a storm was coming through, so early morning it was.

The highest I'd ever hiked to was 10,000 ft. Today we were going to be at 11,000. I was glad to have spent time in Denver (5000+ft) to have had a chance to acclimate from our usual 100ft above sea level.

The destination was Dream Lake. I grumbled a bit going up the mountain. It was cold and I, unlike Connor and his family, haven't ever lived through a white winter. Snow is something you drive to and have a day in. 
On our way up we saw a Dusky Grouse. It made a mating call at me. Connor said something about me being "taken." On and on we went until we made it to the lake... or so we thought. Other helpful hikers let us know that we were at Nymph Lake. Thanks guys.
Nymph Lake

The trail was unclear, so the groups who were going on to Dream Lake split up. We wandered to the left. The views were unbeatable.

Turns out we did not take the right trail. Our trail eventually met up with the proper trail: the one with stairs. After slipping around for around an hour, we made it. Dream Lake. The jokes about why Dream Lake was called Dream Lake started to come out: You'll dream about reaching it... etc. 
Dream Lake

We climbed back down the icy trail much faster that we did going up. I might have crouched down and "skiied" with my shoes down some steep bits. When we reached the bottom, Connor's mum decided she was cold enough and went back to the car. The rest of us went around Bear Lake, which was so white that I didn't realize I had gone all the way around and almost went around a second time. I'm glad Connor noticed that the trail looked familiar again.
Dream Lake

The next morning, before going back to the airport, we stopped by the Stanley Hotel. The Stanley Hotel is most famous for being in The Shining... or as Connor pointed out, "It was in Dumb and Dumber!" Yeti couldn't help but take a selfie in front of it. 

I'm glad we were able to spend some quality time with part of Connor's family. Vacations that have a bit of adventure in them are my favorite. I hope it isn't long before we are able to join them again.
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