Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pinnacles National Park

This past weekend, Connor and I went to Pinnacles National Park. Going to a new national park is on my goal list for this year, but if you've been following this blog long enough, you'll know that I've been before, so that goal hasn't been crossed off just yet. Connor, however, hadn't been before. I was excited to share this park with him.

I haven't been on a challenging hike since July... or any hike really since then. (I briefly felt well enough to go up Sierra Buttes back in July.) But after walking 7 flat miles (or 11k) in a day last week, I was feeling like I might be up for the 9.2 mile (15k) hike up, down, and around the mountain. 
Halfway up the mountain, we bumped into a pair of hikers that started when we did, but were a little faster. We took each other's pictures.

We took our time as we climbed up and up and up. I was huffing and puffing the whole way. Connor kindly reminded me that most people would be breathing hard on the trail we were on. Eventually we made it to the top, where we had lunch.
I can see the top!

One of the main reasons to come to the Pinnacles other than for the rock formations is to see the California Condors. There were once 27 left, but now there are many more that survive in three different locations; the Pinnacles being one of those. As we ate lunch and enjoyed watching the condors, the pair of hikers that had taken our picture earlier in the hike joined us. We had a great chat. For the rest of the day, we would sometimes see each other on the trail and talk a bit before one group out paced the other.
The California Condor has a 9.5 foot (3m) wingspan

I'm really proud to have done the entire hike without too much trouble. I feel like I've graduated from being too sick to leave the couch to finally being able to hike the way I used to. Also, in the end, we beat that pair of hikers who had been ahead of us at the beginning of the day.

Connor and I added a new patch to our collection, too! We picked up this patch at the visitor center at the east entrance. I've added a "Pinnacles National Park" entry on the souvenir patch map for those who may want to find one of their own.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Knitter May Safely Knit

Hello friends. I am in a much better knitting mood than when we last talked about my knitted socks. Last time, all my socks decided to mutiny. After several weeks of battle and many more rippings, I now have two pairs of socks that are willing to be worn. First off, my Sheep May Safely Graze socks now have brand new heels.
 The previous heels wore out after wearing the socks twice. After repairing them, they didn't even survive another day out. New heels were needed.

I ended up using two sets of circular needles to get the job done. The new heels were knit out of Baah La Jolla! in the La Perla color way. I'm happy to have these socks back in my sock drawer.

The other pair of socks that has finally decided to behave are my Concrete and Tulip socks. 
Yay!

I really appreciate everyone on instagram who gave me great advice on how to keep my socks up. I chose to rip back the socks past the ribbing, reknit everything in stockinette, then add some new yarn (Anzula Squishy) for the hem. I ran out of grey as well, so I used Anzula Squishy in Charcoal to turn the hem and Anzula Squishy in Boysenberry to make the insides more cheerful. The Charcoal was used again for sewing the hem down.

It was tough figuring out what elastic to use. Did you know that there are a bunch of different kinds? I didn't. After stretching just about every type and size, I selected a 3/4 inch braided (not knit or woven) elastic in black to get the job done. To test out how tight I might need it, I cut a length, safety pinned it together, then put it over the sock and wore it around. I even went on an hour walk like this, every once in awhile pulling my pant leg up to adjust the elastic. I felt a little dorky when people passed by as I was safety pinning away. To get though it, I pretended to be a designer for a high end fashion house. 

I also need to give credit where credit is due. Tech Knitting's articles on creating a hem with elastic and how to sew a hem down were invaluable for finishing these socks. 

After all these knitting successes, I am feeling quite good about my next set of knits. Connor and I even finished a project each, but I'll save that for another day.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Souvenir Patch Map

A little over a week into the new year and I'm pleased to say that I have completed one goal for the year: I've made a map that shows where each patch was bought.


Sometimes I was able to find multiple patches at one location. To accommodate that, each point's title reflects what patches were bought and includes an image of all the patches that were found in that location. For example, I bought the Big Cypress and Everglades patches at the same location, so they share a pin, a title, and a photo. Each pin also includes a little extra information if the patch wasn't easy to find at said location. (Las Vegas, I'm looking at you.)

There is now a little button on the side of the blog to help you guys go directly to the patch map. 

Now the big question is, which place should I try to get a patch from next? Any suggestions?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Annual Goal List 2016-2017 Edition

2016 was a tough one. I got pretty sick early in the year with a gastrointestinal ailment and it lasted all the way until the end. (I'm great deal better now. Not 100% yet, but getting much closer.) During my illness, I wasn't able to be there for a lifelong friend. She needed more than I could give. After talking to many different people who are wiser than myself, I was given the same advice: focus on my marriage and health; trying to continue the friendship wasn't going to be healthy for me anymore. It was hard, but ultimately I did end the friendship. It still hurts.

Despite the difficulties, there were times where I was a bit more stable. So here are the highlights.

We were able to travel a surprising amount. I was able to go to Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Alabama Hills, Death Valley, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, we had a week with my family in the Plumas Eureka area, and Connor and I went to Kentucky together for his best friend's wedding. Connor also got to add Japan to his list. I was supposed to go, but wasn't well enough. I'm still jealous. We are now saving up to make it there together.
The Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Alabama Hills, Death Valley trip with Joe. See Pt. 1, Pt. 2, and Pt. 3 

I taught my parents to knit. They wanted to learn how. They didn't tell me it was because they had signed up for Cat Bordhi's knitting retreat in the San Juan Islands. Mum had wanted to go to the San Juan Islands for as long as I can remember. After I went to the retreat and made it sound like so much fun, she wanted to go to it too... despite not being a knitter. Well, they both knit now. My brother (who doesn't knit... yet) says that I've made my own knitting group. Some nights Connor, Mum, Dad, and I knit together.
I am Dr. Knit-entstein and these are my creations

I was able to reconnect with some friends, including my friend Jackie. She moved to the area and we have had fun adventures and good talks together.
We were searching for the proper Ernie pumpkin

I don't have a picture of this highlight, but I also really enjoyed going to see Flight of the Conchords in concert. I rarely go see bands live anymore, it was a real treat.

And now for the assessment of last year's goals:

Goals for 2016:
1. Work on a menswear pattern collection. Ideally it will have two garments and three accessories. I've been interested in developing a menswear collection for awhile now, but before Connor entered into my life, it was hard to motivate myself to knit garments for someone who wasn't me.
Status: Incomplete. I have sketched out ideas and acquired yarn for this project, but it's on the back burner at the moment. I might go back to it one day.
2. Put up a daily comic site. This was a goal in 2011, which changed in 2012 because I stopped doing the comic. But I'm drawing the comic again... so it's a goal again.
Status: Ongoing... perhaps forever. Connor and I worked on putting together a daily comic site. it is complete enough for me to start scanning and posting comics. I'm just nervous about putting it out there.
3. Learn to weave. I've alternated between being really interested in trying out weaving and having no interest at all. At the moment, I know I have yarns that would look far better woven, so I'm interested again. And I have a buddy who is going to loan me a small loom so I can see if I like it.
Status: Working on it. I have borrowed a loom (for most of the year now... how embarrassing). I bought a book on how to use the loom. I even know what yarn I'm going to use first! I just need to carve out some time and mind share for this project.
4. Design a sweater with set in sleeves. I think doing the math for different set in sleeve sizes is rather intimidating, which is precisely why I must try.
Status: Still on my mind. I've got the yarn and the idea for the sweater. Other knitting obligations got in the way. But I'm not giving up on this one.
5. Go somewhere I haven't been before. This year, our current vacation plans are to places I've been to, but want to share with Connor. I hope that we can throw in one that I haven't done yet.
Status: Complete! This was the only goal I managed to do. We went to two places I'd never been: the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. I wasn't 100% during both trips... but I'm glad I went.
6. I'm adding a bonus goal this year: Work on the Knitting Photography Series again. I worked on it in 2013, but stopped when I put my energies towards finishing writing Lit Knits instead. I've wanted to work on it, but just didn't put time aside. I think I'd like to give it a go again.
Status: Incomplete. This just ended up not being on my radar this year. I spent my time on other creative pursuits instead.

I'm just going to have to give myself a lot of forgiveness on this list. I was able to start several of the goals, but my energies had to be put in other areas. I feel pretty confidant that some of them, like the weaving, will still get worked on.

I'm a lot healthier than I had been all year, but I'm going to keep this year's goals a little smaller. I think the following is achievable.

Goals for 2017:
1. Make a google map to share that has the locations of where I've found my travel patches. I've occasionally been asked where I've found various patches and I've noticed that the information for finding them, let alone knowing that a place has them, is sparse. I'd like to help change that.
2. Make a quilt to display all the patches. The plan is to embroider the United States, then place the patches around the outside of the embroidery. I'm still working out some details, but I bought a map from Haptic Labs, got my fabric, and have bought a few books on embroidery to help move me forward.
3. Go to one National Park I haven't been to yet. I think that we might manage more than one, but I'd like to see at least one this year.
4. Knit a sweater out of stash. I haven't knit a sweater in two years. I think it is about time to change that. I also have a habit of buying new yarn for sweaters because I "have plans" for all of my stash yarn. It's time to just knit with it. I can replace it if I need to.
5. It seems like an annual tradition, but I'm going to keep it on the list until it is done: put up the comic site. Connor and my father have sorted out the complicated calendar that I wanted and the site is largely put together. I just have the intimidating job of scanning and formatting all the comics. Although, the most intimidating part is getting over the feeling that the comics aren't "good enough". I keep thinking that the writing could be neater and the comics could be cleaner, but if they are ever to be put up, they will have to remain as they are.

That is this year's goal list, which is the 8th one I've written. It's been fun to look back to see how things have changed from year to year. Some years have been really good, some have been years focused on recovering health. It's good to see that the only consistant thing between years is that each one is different.
For those who would like to see what other years have been like, here are past post links: 2010201120122013201420152016.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Creative Recap

This year was surprising productive considering how unwell I was for most of it. I did notice that it took me far longer to finish a pair of socks than it has in the past, but I still got a few pairs knit up.

I knit 5 pairs of socks (one which was knee-high), 5 hats, 2 cowls, and 1 shawl. 5 of those knits were gifts, 2 were shop samples, 1 was a design sample, and all 5 pairs of socks were for meeeeeeee. Looking at all my new pairs of socks, it seems that my love for self-striping yarn isn't going to end any time soon. Also, it looks like I spread the love around: each self striped pair was from a different dyer.

I put out five designs this year: two pairs of socks: Whiskey and Rye and Prance Past The Poppies; a mini collection called A Midsummer's Night Knit that had the Oberon Mitts and Titania Cowl; a shawl called Kelp Forest, which had been in development for over two years before I called it perfect.



I also started to paint again. At the beginning of the year I was obsessed with gouache.
By the end of the year I much preferred to play with watercolors. 

I also drew my daily comic, well, daily.

This year has been a tough one, but I learned that just doing little bits of art each day, or even weekly, add up to a large body of work by the end. I might have felt like I wasn't doing anything artistic all year, but clearly that wasn't the case. I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish. I hope that I can remember that feeling as I move into the new year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sock Mutiny

This post was supposed to be a success story. A story about how even though my socks had been acting up, I was able to tame them and able to blissfully wear them all. Instead this is a story of how all my socks mutinied against me.

It started off like any other day. After working hard to get my Concrete and Tulip knee high stripes to match perfectly, which included several rippings,  I was ready to debut them. Connor helped me get some lovely pictures.
Half a skein of Caterpillar Green Yarns in the Concrete and Tulips color way was used for each sock.

I even was going to have a bit of a victory lap by showing off the perfect calf shaping.
Look at that shaping. That slight negative ease. The socks were perfect.

Then disaster struck. After getting the pictures, Connor and I went for a walk. I thought to myself, I'll just wear these socks since I've got them on. I've re-fixed the color (Like I do with all my socks now), I've gotten the pictures... so now I can wear them. By the time we went down the driveway I felt the dreaded sag. By the end of the block it was like I had donuts around my ankles.
I've since reached out to people on instagram and have a vague plan involving elastic to make these wearable.

Fine, fine. I've had socks misbehave before. It's really disappointing, but that's how it goes. Just as I was finishing up the Concrete and Tulip socks and feeling smug, I thought I'd fix my Sheep May Safely Graze socks. They had been misbehaving for awhile, but the Concrete and Tulip socks were going so well (at the time), that I was convinced I could fix them "really quick."

The Sheep May Safely Graze socks are a tale full of woe. It was difficult to find the right white yarn for them. When I finally did, it turned out to not be well wearing. I wore them three times and had to mend the heels twice. Obviously, it would be a better use of my time to just rip out the heels and put new ones in. The socks sat on the mend pile for some time, but it was getting colder and I wanted to wear them. Carefully, I ripped out the heel, picked up the stitches, and started to replace them. I didn't have any sport weight yarn, so my plan was to hold some fingering weight double. The heels would be beefy and I'd never have to replace them again!

Except that I didn't realize that my plan would also make the heel so beefy that it would be uncomfortable in every pair of shoes I own. Look at that thing. It's huge! So the heel goes back to the frog pond... along with my patience.

So now I'm trying to finish my Christmas socks in time for Christmas. I started these on December 5th. Plenty of time, I thought. So much time, in fact, that I could finish up my knee highs and replace some heels. Well my friends, I'm getting a little nervous about finishing my Christmas socks on time.
Stray Cat Socks in the color Kiwi Christmas using the Geek Socks pattern.

Connor asked me after the knee high debacle, "You aren't going to let a pair of socks ruin your day?" I'm not proud of the answer... which was yes. I was a bit grumpy the rest of the day. Of course with three pairs of rogue socks, who knows what the rest of this week will be like.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Kamakura pt 2 - Enter the Daibutsu

Connor is coming home tomorrow. It's been along three weeks without him, but I'm glad he was able to have so much fun with his brother when we wasn't at work.

Connor and his brother had gone to Kamakura earlier in their trip, hence the pt 1 (which is not on the blog), but Connor learned from his co-workers that he missed the main attraction: Daibutsu. I teased him mercilessly for missing the biggest statue around, so they went back to see it.

Connor:

Finally we saw Daibutsu after enduring a week and a half of criticism for not knowing about him the first time we were here.
Did you know that:
-Daibutsu means “Big Buddha”. (I asked a co-worker if the other Daibutsus are all big like this one. He said, “yes, Daibutsu is always big”.)
-He by far attracts more crowds than any other temple in Kamakura.
 -You can buy and drink beer at his temple (possibly contributing to the above).
-You can go inside him for 20 yen (which we did)
Now you know.

In 1923 a great earthquake destroyed the temple surrounding Daibutsu. Only Daibutsu and his shoes survived.

Mason is sitting at a traditional Japanese eating area, where kids and adults can come together as equals. He was tempted by the green tea ice cream, but this is also the place that sold beer.

After seeing Daibutsu we started hiking at the opposite end to finish of what we didn’t finish last time. Along the trail, we passed a small farm with a fence that was doing a poor job of keeping this chicken inside.

You either have it or you don’t. Saw this store sign and thought it the two phrases complimented each other quite well. Although I’m not sure what a store with this motto could actually sell….

They have cornbread! This place is just like Kentucky.
Note from Audry: Connor is from Kentucky. Also, he likes cornbread, not corn bread.

Thanks Connor, for that terrific report. Wish I could have seen Daibutsu myself. At least you aren't going to be mocked anymore for missing it.
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