Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Creative Recap

Welcome to this year's creative recap. This might be the most projects I've finished in a year. The totals came out to 12 pairs of socks, 10 woven scarves, 3 sweaters, 1 hat, and 1 cowl.

My project total was boosted because I took up weaving and decided to weave a bunch of gifts. I really enjoyed trying out all sorts of different color combinations and ideas in each scarf.

I also took a watercolor class this year and got to learn how to do all sorts of techniques. 
This was the final for the class. We had to do an animal with lots of colors. I did a manatee with a Florida theme.

Connor and I got the daily comic site up and running. It can be seen at

I also took up embroidery. Most of what I embroidered was practice for the USA quilt, of which I have made fantastic progress. I just have part of the Southwest and the South left to go.

I think the theme of this creative year was diversity. I had my hand in a lot of different areas and at times I got overwhelmed and had difficulty deciding which project I should work on next. I'm hoping that with some of these projects wrapping up I'll feel less scattered when it comes to my creative output.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Arrowhead Cardigan

I finished my Arrowhead Cardigan a few days ago, and it was just in time. We've been at Connor's parents' farm and the temperatures have gotten down to 15°F/-9°C during the day. Brrrrr. I was in desperate need of a warm coat that would allow me to layer underneath it.

Like many of my knits, I modified a huge amount. The smallest size was 49"/125cm. I didn't want such an oversized jacket, so I resized it to 42"/106cm. There is no shaping in the jacket and the new size didn't leave me with much ease for my hips, I steeked in 5"/ 13cm side vents.

The original jacket didn't have any closures, so I added four toggles. I also gave the jacket a slight v-neck by decreasing 3 stitches on each side and adding a big shawl collar.

Originally I had done a crochet steek. Even thought the yarn I used is sticky (Fancy Tiger Crafts Heirloom Romney in Poppyseed and Spincycle Yarns Independence in Payback), I was manipulating the jacket so much that the steek started coming apart. No matter. I sewed the steek and made sure to add all the facings, including along my vents.

I'm really pleased with how this jacket came out. It's been warm and wonderful.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Elephant Seals Of Año Nuevo

Last Friday Connor took the day off of work so we could go on a guided walk at Año Nuevo to see the Elephant Seals. Mating and pupping season are just starting. We were hoping to see some of the giant bull males, but the first view was of the juvenile and some slightly older males. One of them had the long proboscis they are famous for and it was pointed down into the sand. Every time he exhaled, a cloud of sand would blast into the air. I giggled every time.

We were also lucky to see the first pup of the season. It's really hard to see, but the little dark lump alongside the leftmost seal is it. We heard it crying for milk.

It was starting to look like we wouldn't see any big bull males as we reached the last viewing point. Someone on the tour went to the far edge of the view area, looked down, and there he was. He looks like a giant rock, but if this guy had reared up, he would have been quite frightening indeed. He is the size of a good size car.

With the holidays moving full steam ahead, it was nice to get out and have some peace and quiet. After seeing these amazing animals, we walked back and had lunch by the Marine Education Center. Connor closed his eyes for a bit and I just took in the view. I can still smell the salt air and hear the loud grunting the seals made.
The house in the background belonged to the lighthouse keeper. It hasn't been maintained since 1948 and the seals and birds live in it now.

I had been to Año Nuevo before, but hadn't been on the look out for a patch at the time. I think the current patch looks great. We also got a magnet to add to our fridge.

In what ways have you all been able to reclaim some peace during the busy holiday season? 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Miss Steek

School has kept me pretty occupied for the last few weeks. I was looking forward to finishing up my finals, which I did on Tuesday, so I could get back to my sweater. On Wednesday I woke up with a case of tonsillitis. Sigh. 

Luckily I was able to see the doctor on the same day. That mean that today (Thursday), with antibiotics in my system, I was able to get up and finally cut my steek.
Snipping 1-2 threads at a time

Ta da! 

This is only my second steeked sweater, but both times I've chosen to pick up the stitches for the button band before cutting the steek. I find it is easier to make sure I'm matching stitches on both sides. After all, a sweater with offset ribbing on either side doesn't look tidy. 
I used a dk weight yarn for the crochet steek on my worsted weight sweater

Once the button band is in, I'll be ready to steek the armholes and put in the sleeves. I have a personal goal of finishing this by next Thursday. I'm not sure I'll be able to do it, but I think I'll get close.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

O Christmas Tree

I thought I'd have some great knitting progress to show off today, but finals are next week and all sorts of homework and projects have gotten assigned at the last minute. Instead I'd like to share this year's Christmas Tree. We've enjoyed the warm glow of the lights in the evenings as we snuggle up together.

I'm also pretty excited about some of the presents under the tree. The three kiddos that live next door have no idea that they each have a present waiting for them. I've had the pleasure of spending time with them and had a pretty good idea of what they each would enjoy. Rather than buy a toy, we have chosen to get them each a book that can help them do something they already have voiced wanting to learn. (One of them wants to be a knitter!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Front And Center

I've got this professor I really enjoy who has admired my knitting. (I knit in class.) I not-so-subtly asked what color she likes to wear. The answer: red. She told me not to make anything, but I have just the skein for this project. It's a skein of Wollemeise that didn't have quite the spring I like in my sock yarn, but Herzblut is the perfect red color. The scarf is going to be largely plain weave, but I'm putting leno lace at both ends. 

Last week I had hardly started my latest sweater, my Arrowhead Cardigan. I initially thoughts that there wasn't any chance of me wearing the sweater before Christmas, but I might have changed my mind. I'm already at the armholes! I will admit that I've been sweating about where the diamond motif might land. Unfortunately the center of the diamond looks like it is at exactly bust level. (Not good) But there will be a four inch (5cm) button band on that will be put in after the sweater has been steeked. I'm hopeful that even if the diamond motif is at bust level, it will be closer to the armpits rather than "front and center."

I finished knitting my Denature socks earlier month, but it took me a while to get around to weaving in ends and blocking them. I'm pleased. The stripes line up and I only had to cut the yarn and splice it in three times to do it :)
Stray Cat Socks in Silver Star

I've been doing my best to take things off of my crafting list so I can remain relaxed and happy. The scarf is going well enough that I might try to weave one last scarf before Christmas. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Three For Me

I've been a selfish crafter recently. All my knits are for me! I started knitting the Hylestad pattern. I only had to rip once to switch from a grey to a white. The grey didn't give me the contrast I needed. Luckily I still have a pile of whites to choose from after the whole Sheep May Safely Graze debacle.

My Joyeux Noel socks are coming along great too. Have I mentioned recently how much I love Stray Cat Socks' yarn? Yes? Well, I'll say it again. It is vibrant and wonderful to knit with.

This week I also cast on the most anticipated knit of this year, my Arrowhead Cardigan. I've been talking about this one for ages. So much so that Connor started asking when I was going to cast on. It is an oversized cardigan (the smallest size is 49.5 inches/ 126cm) that I am resizing to be a more reasonable size. Rather than have a cardigan that has 14 inches/ 36cm of ease, I'm going for 6 inches/ 15cm of ease. After talking to my friend Carol, who is an excellent tailor, I'm also adding side vents to help me move more freely. I was really inspired by Rachel's version of the cardigan, so I also am also going to add closures to mine. I really hope I can be wearing it by Christmas, but I've never knit a sweater so fast. We shall see.

I'm also proud to show off what should have been the last of this year's gift weaves. Of course now I've thought of more people who need to be covered in wool, so I might make a few more. 

But back to the gifts at hand. These scarves are made out of yarn I've been hoarding for 5 years now. It took me all this time to find a way to show off the yarn in a way to convey the subtle color changes in the ocean around Big Sur. I even had to learn a new-to-me skill! Weaving. The warp is the beautiful yarn from Anna Gratton, but I ended up using yarn from Lost City Knits for the weft. 

Is anyone else making gifts this year? Wha kinds of things are you making?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Morro Bay Weekend Pt.2

The weekend adventure was far too short. I could spend quite a bit more time in the peace that is Morro Bay. In the morning we stopped by the Elfin Forest before heading back home.

It's called the Elfin Forest because the oaks here are stunted because of their location on an ancient sand dune. They are a few hundred years old, but only four yards (4ish meters) tall.

We said good bye to Morro Bay, but decided to drive up the coast a bit to tour Hearst Castle. Connor hadn't been before and I thought he might like it.  I was right.

Hearst Castle is full of artistic treasures. There are tapestried from the 16th century. The Louvre has the same tapestries, but they are 17th century copies of the ones at Hearst Castle. The piece of art that Connor found most impressive was the statues of Sekhmet. The bust on the right is the oldest at 3500 years old. The others are a mere 3000 years old.

We were just about ready to head home, but before we finally committed, we stopped to see the Elephant Seals that were 5 minutes up the road. At the moment the beach is filled with juveniles. The big guys won't show up for another month. 

Of course Connor and I were lucky to see two juveniles practice their fighting. Although rather than fighting over females, there were fighting over a prime spot on the beach. The guy on the left won and pushed the previous occupant off.

And with that we headed back home. There were accidents all along the way, so we took back roads and enjoyed seeing the stars come out and we drove into the night.

We did come away with a few more patches for the future quilt as well as a magnet. I've already posted the patch information onto the patch map.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Morro Bay Weekend Pt.1

With the time change happening, we haven't been able to hike after work/school; it's gotten too dark. The last weekend or so has been rainy, so the trail around here have been too muddy to go to. I've been just itching to get out of the house and see the sun again. This past weekend I found myself without any pressing homework, so Connor and I decided to go to Morro Bay for the weekend. We had stopped by on our way up from the Channel Islands, but there is so much to see, do, and eat, I knew we had to come back. We stopped by the visitor center as well as the natural history museum, which I would highly recommend. Thanks to that stop at the visitor center, we had a clear idea of where we would hike the next day.

We got up bright and reasonably early to headed over to Montana de Oro State Park. We had learned that the Point Buchon trail, which could be accessed by driving to the end of the road at Montana de Oro, was open from Thursday to Sunday from 8-4 during their winter hours. We decided to take advantage of that and hiked the full there and back again trail. The views were spectacular. We also saw some whales spouting as they traveled north.
The land is owned by PG&E. It buffers their nuclear power plant, which locals told us looks like a pair of boobs sprouting from the earth. I thought they were kidding. They weren't. This is the more pleasant view of the "Stonehenge" formation.

After heading back, but before checking back out at the gate house, we saw a bird feeder.

The wee finches were kicking seeds down to a huge group of quail and two bunnies!

After the cuteness overload, we rushed back to see if the Spooner Ranch house was open. There was a narrow 3 hour window and we had hiked during most of it. We were in luck. We even were able to get a patch on our way out. We had our lunch while overlooking the ocean. Both of us were jealous that someone once got to call this place home. 

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve. The oaks there have twisted in many different directions. The only thing more twisted than the oaks are the trails. We managed to get lost and had to retrace our steps to get back out. Luckily it isn't too big an area.

Our day ended with a fantastic sunset and a fantastic dinner at Taco Temple.

With full bellies and tired feet, we both feel asleep around 8:30.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Daily Creative Practices

I was feeling a little down this week. I've been wanting to find time to do little paintings, but it seems like I keep running out of time once some of my more mandatory projects have been attended to. (School work, getting groceries, etc.) I thought about how I could "make time" when I realized that I have quite a few daily creative practices already. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had reasons to celebrate.

The daily comic has been updating daily for a few months now, but behind the scenes, I'm still catching up on the backlog. This week, however, I finally finish editing Book 2. Hurray! I'm on to editing Book 3 and it feels like a big hurdle has been crossed because I am still drawing in Book 3. I'm looking forward to being entirely caught up, although to get there, I know I have to continue to make it a daily practice.

Related to editing the daily comic, I make it a practice to draw the daily comic daily. The goal is to never have a backlog. I finally found that I if I drew the comic while eating breakfast, I had more success. Now it just feels wrong not to draw it in the morning.

Another thing Connor and I have been keeping up on is writing with our non-dominant hand. We started in July as a way to prove that there is no such thing as talent. The idea was that talent is just a culmination of practice. Well, I'm not sure if either of us has seen much improvement in our non-dominate handwriting, but both of us have noticed that our left hands have felt much stronger. The experiment continues.

These three daily practices have required making a habit, but my last daily practice is one that I just can't help myself: knitting. Just about every day I've got knitting in my hands and a few more rounds find their way onto my current project. And let's face it, my current project is probably socks.

Does anyone else have a daily creative practice? Or is there something you'd like to make a daily creative practice?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

If You Go Two Years In A Row, It's A Tradition

And like that, October is gone. I really enjoy the nights getting cooler, the leaves becoming crisp on ground, the curl of smoke coming out of chimneys. Our last few days of October were full of fun. Last year we went to Arata's Pumpkin Farm for the first time. Jackie, Connor, and I returned again this year.
We are responsible, serious adults

Arata's has an amazing hay bale maze. It's different each year.
It's really, really, really big

This year was colosseum-themed.
You can see the minotaur over Connor's shoulder

We went though twice, saving a group of people who had been stuck in there for two hours on our second run-through. Then we headed to the pumpkin patch to picked out our pumpkins. It's a careful selection each year. We want to be sure to choose shapes that best show off what we are going to carve into them.

The next day was pumpkin carving day. My brother joined us this year and the three of us decided on a Futurama theme. It was kind of funny how that came about; Connor and I decided we wanted to do Futurama, so I called up my brother to let him know and it turned out he had independently decided on the same theme. Jackie's pumpkin was going to live at her place, so she decided to break from theme and go with a classic Frankenstein's monster.

I had been really careful with my pumpkin. When you carve words, you want to be sure not to misspell anything. I showed everyone multiple times throughout the process. At the very end, I asked what everyone thought. Jackie and Christopher agreed that it looked really good. Connor gasped and said, "You spelled Plant Express, not Planet Express." I couldn't believe it! Luckily I had enough space on the pumpkin that I was able to turn the T into an E and add a T at the end. Crisis averted.
Left to right: Jackie's Frankeinstein's monster; Christopher's Bender; My Planet Express logo; Connor's Fry

Mum let us know that the pumpkins were admired by the trick-or-treaters who came by their place. It's always fun to carve our pumpkins. We are already discussing what next year's theme could be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Must... Stripe... Evenly

Hello friends! Last week I talked all about the socks that were being knit over here. This week I'd like the share the neckwear. I finally finished my last Christmas knit, the Deep Sea Wanderer cowl for my brother.

Connor was kind enough to model it for me, but then he started making sounds about how nice it was and that maybe he'd like to have one at some point. I have a feeling this isn't my last dance with the pattern.

I also finished up weaving a University of Kentucky themed scarf. I used the fibonacci sequence as a starting point, but didn't stick to it 100%.

Meanwhile, I still love socks. I started my Christmas socks...

And promptly abandoned them in favor of finishing my Denature socks. I'm not sure how everyone else decided to get things done, but I check things off the list by what is bothering me the most. The Denature Socks have been on the needles since July and I'm ready to have them finished.

Connor and I watched Stranger Things and I was able to power through much of the leg of the second sock. Just last night I got to the heel and realized that my stripes were not going to match. Mismatched stripes are too much for my little knitter's heart to take, so I ripped back, got some spare grey that I had wound off the ball earlier, and made the grey stripe before the heel longer.

Although.... now that I'm typing this, I'm thinking that I might rip back again and make the green stripe before the final grey stripe a little longer so I can hide how thick the grey stripe is.

Something tells me the saga of this sock is not over. Is anyone else out there as obsessive about their knitting as me? Or you you more of a "No one will see that mistake" kind of knitter?

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