Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Polygamous Knitting

Even though I had been monogamous with my Oma's cardi for three... maybe four days, within an hour of my post about being a monogamous knitter I cast on for something new. I had a good reason though. An opportunity came up and I had to act. So what I cast on for was a new design. I'm hoping to release it within the next week. Until then, here is a little peek.

The actual knitting for this pattern is all done, so I'm back to being monogamous with the cardi again. I'm half way through sleeve #2.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Tough Decision

I'm not exactly sure how to say this... but I have some bad news for everyone who has been enjoying the Spring hat and scarf. Sprig has been free since May and the matching Sprig Hat has been free since July. As of tomorrow, they will be pay for patterns. I've been wrestling over this decision, but ultimately, I think it is for the best.

I actually wrestle with whether or not each of my patterns should be free or not every time I publish. Honestly, if there was some way for me to make money and give away my patterns for free, I would. Obviously that is impossible. But for me to continue writing, I have to sell my patterns. But the good news is that even though the Sprig set will be pay-for patterns, Free Bees and Mr. Tumnus will remain free.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monogamous Knitting

Monogamous knitting is not something that comes easy to most knitters... Actually, I challenge you to find a knitter with only one project on the needles. I've heard they exist, but I personally think that they are as common as unicorns.

Anyways, I am giving monogamous knitting my best shot right now. I'm currently knitting the Gnarled Oak Cardigan for my Oma. Boy is it difficult resisting the temptation to cast on for a pair of socks. That's all that is on my mind while knitting the cardi. Socks, socks, socks.

I suppose it wouldn't be so bad except that I'm in the sea of stockinette. I've  finished the main portion of the cardi and am now working on sleeve #1. Once I'm done with the sleeves I'll be joining them to the yoke, which looks much more exciting.

Even when I'm not being exclusive with a pattern, I'm usually not wild with projects either. My average wip (work in progress) pile has three knits. One easy "movie watching" project, one "complex as hell" project, and an extra for when I'm upset at the other two projects.
Almost done with sleeve #1

But I'm sure we all have the, "this project doesn't count because..." pile. For me that pile usually has to do with designs. All though, at the moment I don't have any designs on the needles, which has made it more difficult to avoid being monogamous with the cardi. It would be cheating if I cast on for another project... but if it were already cast on, it wouldn't count.
The latest temptation

Anyone else being monogamous with a project at the moment?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tradition, Tradition!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving for those of us in the States. Everyone has their own tradition. My brother and I have a long standing tradition that includes getting along for the day. My brother has made the turkey for six years now. He faithfully bastes it every half hour.

Scooter holds vigil near the oven.

In between basting, we play video games. The games change from year to year. Usually we'll hook up the Super Nintendo and play a round of Sunset Riders and Turtles In Time. But this year Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword came out. So we took turns playing that instead. (Actually, I let my brother play most the the day so I could get some knitting done.) I insisted that he wear proper adventuring gear, aka the Elven Hero hat. He protested, but didn't take it off. I think it improved his game play.

What kind of Thanksgiving traditions do you guys have?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pepper Spray Day

Usually I like to keep current events off of my blog. I much prefer to talk about yarn, adventures, and have lots of pretty pictures up, but this has hit a little too close to home for me not to talk about it. So this might be a little more word heavy. For those of you who don't know, I am a UC Davis alumnus. And right now everyone is talking about the incident involving a UCD police officer pepper spraying students who were involved in a non violent protest. I'm going to leave some videos interspersed throughout this post.

The actual incident.

What has hit me is the lack of ACTUAL reporting that has gone on. I understand that major news networks have a lot of news to cover, but when something this big happens, you would think that they would actually talk to someone who was there. Or maybe someone who has been involved with the protests. It looks like they all just watched the youtube video that everyone else has watched and summerized it. "Police pepper spray non violent protesters" As a student who was there for previous protests, I'd like to share a few things that aren't being said.

First of all, the people who were sprayed were expecting to be arrested, not sprayed. As with previous protests that I had been present for on the UCD campus, there would have been people keeping watch and letting those who did not want to be arrested know when the police were coming. The police could have easily arrested those students. No pepper spray was needed. That is what happened in the past and that is what was expected on "Spray Day"

The second bit that isn't being said is that the UCD police have always overreacted to everything. I will cite a personal experience. I had forgotten my bike light one night while on my way to meeting someone. This is a big no-no in Davis. But I was on a well lit part of campus, which is closed off from traffic other than police, maintenance, and the occasional pizza guy. One of the campus police stopped me. I offered to walk my bike. At this point he accused me of being drunk. I wasn't. Then he accused me of being stopped before. He told me, "I remember you. I've stopped you before." I was horrified. I'd never actually talked to an officer in Davis before and here I was, being accused of being a repeat offender. And for what? Not having a bike light? I ended up telling him in a strong, loud voice, "That is untrue!" At which point he told me that I could just walk my bike. You know, like I had offered to do at the beginning. I'd never felt so threatened in my life.

The rally on Monday. It happened at that same spot the Pepper Spray incident happened.

The big uproar at UC Davis isn't just because protesters were sprayed with pepper spray. It's that everyone in power has supported the excessive police action. At least until now. Now the outside world is telling the administration at Davis that this isn't ok. It isn't fine to bully students. Because that what that incident was. It was the police abusing their power any bullying the powerless.

Professor Nathan Brown spoke at the rally on Monday.

Now the police chief and two officers have been put on leave. But I'm going to bet that they are just waiting for everything to blow over before reinstating them. And that would be the worst thing we could do: letting this blow over.

I could go on, but there have been some excellent articles written by people who were there that day.
  • An article by Bob Ostertag, a professor of technocultural studies at UCD talks about Militarization of Campus Police and how even prisoners are not allowed to be pepper sprayed if they are seated. 
  • Professor Nathan Brown wrote an open letter to Chancellor Katehi on why she should resign.
  • And an article about how hot pepper spray really is.
  • I couldn't help but share the one dumb thing that has come of this. It's a little funny though. There is now a tumblr dedicated to the Pepper Spraying Cop.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Elven Hero

Going on an adventure? Are you in need of a proper adventuring hat? Never fear, the Elven Hero hat is here. 

It will keep your hat nice and cozy when you are off on a quest, beating up bad guys and saving princesses. If you are in more of a marauding mood, the hat can be made with brown yarn. Or if the Santa look is more your style, you can knit the hat in red with a white brim and pom pom.

The hat is $5 and can be purchased on ravelry or on the bear-ears site.

The hat is constructed by provisionally casting on the brim edge. The brim is grafted together, then folded over to make it double thick and well fitted. Stitches are picked up along the edge of the brim to complete the rest of the hat body.

My pattern testers have told me that they found the pattern easy to follow and easy to execute despite it being an unusual construction. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Smashing Success

I was waiting until these were finally gifted before posting about them. But the other bit of knitting I've finished recently is a pair of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Mitered Mittens. I made a few modifications. One being that my gauge was wildly off, so I changed the stitch count.

The other is that recipient wanted something with buttons, so I added a garter stitch strip with a one row button hole in it along with buttons made of sliced antler. The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Maxima in the Arctic color way. I thought the antler buttons and arctic color seemed to create a nice theme.

I think it's safe to say that they are a success. I'm basing this on the feeling of, "maybe I can make another pair so I can keep this pair." 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Natural Bridges

After a meeting, Mum and I headed over to Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz. Around this time the monarchs are in the eucalyptus grove. The sun was setting when we got there, so the monarchs were all going to "bed" on the branches. We plan on going again when it's warmer.

Lucky for us, there is also a little milkweed garden by the visitor center. It's been awhile since I've seen a monarch chrysalis. 

And this poor monarch was nearby. I think she got a bit too cold to fly after sipping on some nectar. You can tell it's a girl because there are no black spots on the bottom wings. Males have scent spots.

If you turn right rather than left into the grove, there is a little pond. Usually it's clear, but this time around it was really green. And you could hear the ducks eating. They were just nibbling the water. 

I thought it was just algae, but when we got closer we found that the green color appeared to be coming from a bunch of green seeds. Weird.

As the sun set, we stopped in the little vista point to watch. Mum remarked how when she was a child there was more than one bridge at Natural Bridges. There is still one left, although it is eroding away as well. So if you haven't been, it's worth making a trip out.

Mum and I also got a bunch of good pictures for my next hat release, which should happen by Sunday. Hurrah!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stash Busting... Sort Of

I've been pretty consistently stash busting for the last week and a half. It wasn't really a conscious effort. My yarn bin just got full and I started to pull out a bunch of skeins to give away. But all of a sudden I was able to match projects that I was going to make anyways with the newly discovered yarn. Mum wanted some mini socks, which she requested back in August. They are now done. And quite cute I might add. The yarn was left over from my Appalachia hats. (Mini mochi in lake trail.)

Next up is a tam made of leftover yarn from my Koolhaas. (Which was originally yarn leftover from a failed sock attempt.) I actually ran out of yarn exactly. I even had to go back a little bit an decrease a bit more rapidly in order to run out of yarn exactly. That hat is my own pattern, which I haven't released for some reason. I guess I thought no one would be interested, but the ladies at the yarn shop told me otherwise today. So I will write it up soon. This particular tam was given to a friend today and she was quite pleased with it.

This is going to be another Link inspired hat made from yarn left over from my brother's Grinch slippers.

As good as my stash busting has been I still manage to fill in those freed up spaces pretty quick. I bought four skeins of Madelinetosh Pashmina in Denim yesterday. It's for my Oma's cardigan, which I finally decided will be the Gnarled Oak Cardigan from Coastal Knits. I bought the book, I ought to use it. And it's a really cute cardi.

(I'd rather not admit this, but in between taking pictures this morning and going to work at the yarn shop, I succumbed and bought two skeins of Ella Rae. But it's for the two pairs of socks I talked about last month, so it doesn't count. Right?)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Armistice Day

In previous years, I didn't even know when Veteran's Day was. I knew it was in November and I knew I'd get the day off. And even though I'd had the various history lessons on how Veteran's Day, originally Armistice Day, was the day the commemorated the end of The Great War, WWI. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, WWI ended. But this is the first year that the magnitude of the end of the war hit me. You see, this year I finished reading the Anne of Green Gables series. The eighth book, Rilla of Ingleside is almost entirely about WWI.

For seven books I had bonded with all the characters. I actually had a difficult time reading the eighth book. So much so that I could only take one chapter a day in most cases. It wasn't just that the characters suffer. There are many humorous bits too. But you can feel L.M. Montgomery's sorrow throughout the book. The war was known to have taken a great toll on her. In Rilla of Ingleside, Montgomery's style perfectly captures the apprehension that the women who were left behind had as they hung on every news story, every battle, and every letter sent to them. There is also a great deal of cheerfulness from those who sacrificed everything because they knew they were doing it for the greater good. The general selflessness in the book hit me hard.
So this year, hearing all the advertisements for Veteran's Day sales has left a bitter taste in my mouth. It seems like today should be a quiet day where we reflect on the great loss of life. Not how fast we can spend our money. Even though I'll be working for a bit today, I still plan on spending most of my time reflecting on the true meaning of Veteran's Day and sacrifices that have been made. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Last Ten Percent

Why is it that the last 10% of any project is the most difficult to finish? In the case of knitting, if it's a gift, it takes forever to get around to blocking it. Or in some cases, you get the yarn, pattern, and all the bits you need for a really quick knit... and then it sits there.
A gift knit made with handspun.

No longer! I have been spending the last couple days knitting away at my gift knit stack. I have finished 3 out of 8 with a pretty good idea of what I am going to do for the remaining gifts. I also managed to get another design out of the way. It is in the Free Tester's Pool to be test knit. So if anyone is interested in making a Hero of Time Hat, sign up.
This picture makes my face look fat. It isn't. I was just looking down.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Zipper Is In

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for. My Émilien sweater now has a zipper! And I've been wearing the sweater a whole bunch. It is comfy, it is cozy and it is exactly what I wanted. A sweater to lounge in. 

I don't know if I had mentioned this before, but I chose the colors based on my favorite pair of socks. The socks are a bit more subdued, but I really love the color combination on both.

Thanks again to my brother for taking pictures for me. Rather than begging him, this time I told him I loved his style of picture taking. (Which in his own words is the "not giving a rat ass" style) He actually leapt out of his seat and jogged towards the door in order to take these pictures. He really likes the sock ones. I fell over for some of those. He laughed.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bay Area Talent

Yesterday I went to Nine Rubies in San Mateo. It was Local Designer night. Not only is the store incredibly cute, but I felt really welcome. (Admittedly I had been a little worried that I'd be intruding or something, which is dumb.) What finally convinced me to go was that both featured designers posted to their blogs about their even and said "I'd love to meet anyone who can come out." Honestly, that helped me get over whatever weird not-sure-if-I-should-go feelings I was having.

And who were those designers? There was Carrie of Irish Girlie Knits and Hilary of The Yarniad and Citron fame. Both were incredibly friendly, chatted with me about all the designer questions I had, and posed for two pictures because I looked dumb in the first one. After talking with them I realized that all the things I've been worried about or putting off really came down to my own insecurity. I should just go for it. 
After meeting them, Dad and I went for dinner and I reviewed over what I learned. I then realized that I meant to buy a pattern from each of them because their patterns are lovely and I have a deep seated belief in supporting local artisans. But I totally forgot. The shame!

I think I might have to blame Carrie for that oversight though. She distracted me with yarn. I had never gotten to see Plucky Knitter yarn in person before and this has Cashmere. And she let me know that the blend is Plucky Knitters own mix. I got all excited about the mill work that goes into creating a blend. So there you have it. It's a good thing both designers have their patterns for sale online.
This is Primo! in the colorway Barely Birch. So pretty, so soft, and all mine.

A big thanks to my Dad for coming with me. According to Mum, it was "his turn" because she went to four yarn shops while we were on our trip. He noticed that only one other guy was there and that a yarn shop really is a women's den. However, he had a good chat with Hilary and asked questions I totally forgot to. I think he enjoyed the chat extra because she laughed at his "Possums are nature's little speedbumps" joke. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oma's Shawl

We last left off with me being bummed about my muddy shoe. Well, I actually didn't take pictures one of my days in Oregon. I was visiting with all sorts of family members I hadn't seen in awhile. I did remember to get a picture of my Oma the morning we left, though. Last year I made her a surprise shawl, the Cedar Leaf Shawlette, but had forgotten to take a picture. I remembered this year. She really looks good in it. 

My Oma is the reason I was inspired to learn to knit. She had made an amazing pair of mittens for my Mum. I aspire to be as good as her. (She doesn't knit anymore. She loves her gardening now.)
Oma has requested a cardigan. I'm plan on making it out of superwash wool so that she can just throw it in the washer, but I'm not sure what cardigan to make.  I thought about making a February Lady, but I figured the lace would need to be reblocked when it was washed. Now I'm kind of leaning towards a Deco. If anyone has any yarn and cardigan suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Something that is classic, but not boring, and will wash well.
In this picture, Mum said, "What if you took a picture of me doing this?" I took the picture. She shouldn't have said that if she didn't mean it.

After Mum and I left, we stopped in Weed. I got my jumping picture in front of Mt. Shasta. Note that the sweater now has a zipper in it. I put it in with my Aunt's machine. I'm super stoked it's done, especially now that the weather has turned cold. There will be more pictures of the sweater soon, courtesy of my brother.

As we continued south, Mum and I stopped by an old cemetery I had spotted by Arbuckle. It looked really neat and old.

I'm particularly fond of reading older gravestones. There is so much symbolism carved into them. And often you learn a little something about the town too.

Oma is one of the reasons I love visiting cemeteries. When she was a child, she and her friends would take buckets and brushes and clean up stones. When there were graves with no flowers, they would take some from graves with an overabundance of flowers and put a few on the neglected graves. Eventually the cemetery keeper hid to see who was cleaning the stones. Apparently my Oma and her friends spotted him and ran away, leaving their buckets, which they retrieved later.
Anyways, Oma enjoyed stopping by cemeteries whenever she passed by them, and that passed down from my Mum to me. I recall Oma taking me to a pioneer gravesite. The interesting one was where the person died from a bear attack.

After Arbuckle, we passed near Winters. I've never been to Winters, although I've meant to visit for awhile now. I heard there was a new yarn shop called Spin A Yarn. I didn't really know where it was in Winters, but assumed it was on Main Street. (It was.) I dashed in and found out that it was 10 minutes till closing time. I hurriedly found my prizes. A ball of sock weight Schoppel Wolle Zauberball in Fuchsienbeet and a copy of Interweave Knits Fall 2009 (50% off in the discount area!), which I'd been on the lookout for ever since I saw kiwipurler's Clasica Coat. Then we finished the drive home and got the biggest greeting from Scooter. He wasn't expecting me at the door.
Scooter insisted on being in the photo. I think he was claiming his dog pillow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


The morning after I returned Hermie, we all left Brookings to go to Grants Pass. However, about two miles past the junction to get from Brookings to Grants Pass is Crescent City. And there is a yarn shop in Crescent City. Guess where we went. A Perfect Yarn is a cute, small, well stocked shop. For being such a small shop, they had a pretty great selection of yarn weights, colors, and fiber. I picked up a skein of Ty-Dy Sock in Panama. It seems I'm still a sucker for variegated even though I don't normally like how they knit up. I'm getting better though. This has long repeats, which I much prefer.

As we worked out how to go back northwards to get to the 199 junction, Mum and I noticed a sign for Brother Jonathan cemetery. I love going to old cemeteries. There is so much history, and the stones have such great craftsmanship. This cemetery was a wee bit different  than I expected. While there are some stones, it's more of a memorial for those who were lost in the Brother Jonathan tragedy.

There was a large plaque that included the entire passenger list. There was an asterisk next those who survived. Not many made it, which is why the St. George Reef Light was put in. Even the lighthouse was dangerous. Four keepers were killed and many were injured while serving.

As Mum and I were looking at the passenger list, we noticed a particularly interesting entry. Mrs. Jno C. Keenan & 7 ladies of the evening. They didn't make it...

After exploring CrescentCity a touch more we headed north on 199 and passed by a spot marked Botanical Trail. If you are not in the know, this is where you can see the Darlingtonias, or cobra plants. They live in a bog, and they look really cool. This is not the first time I've been here. There is a sign that says don't go off the trail lest you disturb the plants. I have regularly ignored that sign and taken five steps off the trail to get a close up of the plants. This time, however, the ground was a bit more mooshy than I remember.

I got the bogfoot. I also did not get the picture I wanted, but I decided that I didn't care anymore. Mum noted that I was in a remarkably good mood for having gotten my foot muddy. I was informed that when I was younger, it would have spoiled my entire day. (And I'm guessing everyone else's.) This time I was laughing. After relating the story, Mum said, "Well, I guess it's lucky you didn't lose your shoe."
I realize that it doesn't look like my foot went deep in the bog. But my foot went in toe first and sunk the length of my foot into the bog. It was a bit worrisome. Thank goodness it wasn't quicksand.

The rest of the drive was lovely. But I ended up having to wear the only other pair of shoes I brought for the rest of the trip: Sandals. I had rather cold tootsies.
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