Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sock Fever

I've seen people talking about a thing called "Socktober." I didn't know this existed. It sounds exciting, but honestly I don't need a specific month to motivate me to knit socks. I have a fever and the only thing that will cure it is knitting more socks!
Observe exhibit A. I have finished the socks for my mother-in-law. It's the Primavera Sock pattern knit up in Tosh Sock Shire color way.
Somebody is going to have toasty feet for Christmas

Then there are these beauties hot off the needles. I managed to finish my Halloween socks with time to spare. These are knit up with Stray Cat Socks' amazing Trick Or Treat color way.

I'm still working away on my Denature socks. This is also Stray Cat Socks, but in the Silver Star color way.

Of course getting all these socks off of the needles meant that I could treat myself to new yarn! Just kidding. I bought the yarn before I finished any socks. It may come as a surprise, but I treated myself to some more Stray Cat Socks. Left to right, the color ways are Blue Moon, Sherbet Fizz, and Hipster. Subtly hiding behind hipster is a mini skein of black to be my cuff/heel/toe for the Sherbet Fizz socks. I want them to be my CMYK socks.

Just one question. Now that my Halloween socks are done, is it too soon to work on Christmas socks?
If you guessed that this is Stray Cat Socks, then you would be right. It is the Joyeux Noel color way and a complimentary brown.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I Am A Shark Now

Last Halloween I wanted to be a shark. We couldn't find a costume that I liked and was in my size. A whole year has gone by and I couldn't shake that thought: I needed to be a shark.

Yesterday my yearlong dream came true. I am now a shark.
I think the costume brings out my eyes

It arrived on our doorstep and as soon as I could, I put it on and headed outside to take it for a test run. Our neighbors across the way saw me walking down our steps and started shouting, "It's a shark!" "Hi shark!" Both the kids and adults were laughing. These are people we don't really talk to. They have kids, we don't. All our lives are so busy. But for a moment, we were all friends and able to bond over how silly I looked. It was great.

Connor and I took some pictures before heading back up. Before we got through the door, our next door neighbors saw and had a good laugh. Then we started sending silly shark pictures to friends and family. In the space of an hour 13+ people had a laugh.
Connor says it looks like I'm having a graduation photo

It is a goofy costume, but I think I've figured out the source of everyone's amusement. The comedy in a shark costume is dependent on the knees. If the shark doesn't have knees, it clearly can't be funny.

I told Connor he is married to a shark now. I don't plan on coming out of the suit any time soon.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The List Is Long And Full Of Terrors

I'm sure we've all had a time or two in our lives where the list gets longer than a trip to the moon and you are about to crack. At the moment, I'm not sure if I've cracked or am about to, but the list has gotten rather long.

Indefinite Projects
*Drawing/ Editing/ Uploading the daily comic - This is a big time sink. It's hard to know if it is worth it, but at this point I've spent nearly half a year on all the editing, so I think I shall just keep going.
*Keeping the household relatively clean - (Haha.) When the mold in the shower starts to become sentient, I clean it.
*Blogging approximately once a week - This includes thinking of something to talk about and taking pictures. I do like keeping my writing skills polished, which was the reason I started the blog in the first place. It's also so that all the family members who don't see us all that often can discover what we've been up to.
I draw four comics per page in my sketchbook. When editing it for the internet, I crop out each comic so it can be posted individually.

Long Term Projects
*Souvenir Patch Quilt - While it is kind of an indefinite project because of the continual collection of patches, most of the work is embroidering the USA and quilting the rest of the of the quilt.
*School - Luckily I like what I'm learning, but I'm a little stressed out about deciding how far to take it. Do I want to just learn some things or do I want to go for another degree? For now my decision is to not make a decision.
It took me two and a half hours to embroider Maryland. I don't have positive feelings towards the state of Maryland at the moment.

Projects Where The Finish Line Is In The Distance
*Christmas knitting/ weaving - I don't usually do handmade gifts for more than one or two people, so this year is an anomaly.
*A thank-you woven scarf - There is someone who I can only thank with a handmade scarf. The only deadline I have is my personal guilt of not doing this sooner.
This is one of the last Christmas gifts left to do

Short Term Projects
*Most of these are the annoying things that come up to prevent me from finishing anything else. Things like a doctor visit, taking the car in to be looked at, and various other errands. All important, but I wish I didn't have to.

Projects On My Mind But On The Back Burner -
*Comic Stories - I have four distinct comic story ideas in mind. Unlike the daily comic, they all have a definite end. I've tried to forget about all of them, but all the ideas swirl around in my head, so I occasional write or draw a little thing about each one to stop it from bothering me.
*Other Book Ideas - I have three other book ideas. One a humorous depiction of Silicon Valley and two others that relate to business and creativity. I've been taking notes for them whenever inspiration strikes...which is usually in the bathroom.
*Painting - While I am taking a watercolor class (thank goodness, or there would be no time carved out) I really would love to have a little time to make a small painting or two to apply what I've learned in class and have a little creative release.
This is a quick color study for a much larger painting due my class

It's tough to know what to give up when it comes to all these lists. They all seem like personal projects, but at the same time there is limited payoff because either I'm not getting feedback or the project is starting to feel like a slog. My bad habit when all my projects aren't feeling like fun is to start a new one, but as this list is showing me (and maybe you) is that a new project is probably ill advised. So I'm not really sure what to do except lean into it and get some things off of the list. If anyone has any advise or commiseration, please do share. I'm sure many of you also have a list that is long and full of terrors!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Channel Islands National Park

Connor and I had been keeping a close eye on the weather around the Channel Islands for the last 8 months. There is a narrow window where the weather isn't too hot and the water isn't too rough. The weekend before last we saw that our time had come. Friday we jumped in the car and drove 6 hours (there was so much traffic...) to Ventura so that we could catch the morning ferry to Santa Cruz Island. It was worth the wait, the weather was glorious.

We took a morning kayak tour to see the different sea caves. Our guide, Mel, was lots of fun. We also made friends with the other people on the tour who were all pals from Quebec. Connor learned a new-to-him French phrase when one of the ladies jumped in the water: "C'est froid! C'est froid!" We already knew how cold the Pacific Ocean is around California, so we didn't jump in.

After kayaking, we opted to go for a hike to Potato Harbor. Along the way we saw one of the famous island foxes that is endemic to Santa Cruz island.
This fox was grooming itself rather vigorously. I got a picture when it came up for air.

It was good it wasn't too hot out because most of the five mile hike is exposed. But, being out there made us feel so free. On occasion we would pass someone, but for the most part we were alone on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Part of the hike is along the sea cliffs. Before we had gotten on the ferry, we picked up a patch. I thought it would be nice to get a picture of the patch that included the sea caves we had been in earlier.
There are whale tails on the patch, but we didn't have the pleasure of seeing one on the ferry ride to or from the island. They said that sometimes you can see a Blue Whale. I hope one day I'll get to even if it didn't work out to on this trip.

Once we made it to Potato Harbor, we sat and enjoyed the view. I thought about painting, but I opted to just take it all in instead. We live such busy lives, sometimes it is hard to remember to sit still and just be.

We ended up bumping into our Quebecois friends again on the trail and walked with them for a bit before splitting in different directions.

We timed our hike carefully. It's important that you make it to the dock in time for the ferry. They don't wait for anyone and if you are late, you get to camp. There isn't any food or water to be had on the island, so an unplanned camping trip is rather unpleasant. We got to the dock on time and found seats on the back of the boat. After such a big day, Connor couldn't help but nod off while I meditated on the day.

Funnily enough, we went out to dinner and bumped into our Quebecois friends again. Even though it was a quick trip, I'm glad we got to have it. The only regret I have is that we only had one day to explore. I hope that this isn't our last trip to Channel Islands National Park.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Christmas Knitting Starts Early

Classes are still going well. An unexpected perk at school is that I'm getting a lot of knitting done. There are many spare moments in the day when I've been able to pick up the needles and continue knitting. I've not quite finished anything yet, but I'm closing in on finishing the Primavera Socks for my mother-in-law. She kindly sent me an outline of her foot, so I was able to confirm how long the foot needed to be.

My Denature and Trick or Treat vanilla socks both have their heels put in. These are both first socks, but the hard part of getting the stripes to line up in the heel is done, so it should be smooth sailing from now on. Incidentally, both socks are Stray Cat Socks yarn. It was unplanned, but with such wonderful yarn, who could complain?

I've also been working on the loom again. I used Little Wool Company's 4-ply in Tamarillo for the warp and Malabrigo Sock in Chocolate Amargo for the weft of the scarf. It only took me a week and a half to finish. The scarf wove up really fast once Connor and I started a new show, Medici: Masters of Florence. The show is interesting, but most of the Italian main parts are played by English actors, which seems a little odd. I'm pretty sure everyone in Italy didn't have blue eyes at this time. We did enjoy seeing that the actor who played Rob Stark in Game of Thrones' has a father-in-law who just happens to be played the same actor who was Walden Frey in Game of Thrones. I wonder if the casting director did that on purpose.

Connor has also been hard at work on a scarf. We are both working on our Christmas gifts and every night we both try to hit our quota. It's going well so far.

Meanwhile, in the little bits of time we have together, I've also been showing Connor how to watercolor. Basically after I learn something in class, I show him how to do it. We started out with fruit, so Connor tried his hand at it. Maybe I'll have him try the classic bowl of fruit next.

After all, I just finished up my bowl of fruit.

There are some things I would do differently now that I understand more about watercolor, but overall I'm happy with it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SF Zinefest 2017

The weekend before last Connor and I went to San Francisco Zine Fest. I'd been trying to go for years, but something always came up. Last year we went to Joe and Emily's wedding. The year before that I realized it had passed exactly one day after it had happened. This year there was nothing standing in my way.

For those of you who don't know what a zine is, it is typically a little self-published magazine someone has made using a copy machine. (I guess there is some controversy over whether or not a book made using a printer or publisher counts. Most of the books we saw had previously been in zine form or on the internet, so the book was more of a compilation.) Zines can be about literally anything. It might have essays on someone's opinion on carrot juice or just have photos of socks. Connor said that if it were possible to walk into the internet, zinefest would be the closest to that experience.

We weren't sure what to expect at zinefest, but after walking into the building the event we were handed a map and wandered our way into the reading room. The reading room had a ton of zines that anyone was welcome to sit down and read.
This is maybe and eighth of what was available to read

Most of the zines in the reading room were from past years and weren't available any more. I took a picture of this one so I could look up the author later, but out turned out that he was tabling and had this for sale.

There was so much to do and see, I'll admit I got rather overwhelmed. I did get to see two people I knew who were tabling: Maia Kobabe and Amy Watson. Maia Kobabe writes fantastic comics about gender identity. I've learned quite a few things, including gender neutral pronouns. (E, em, eir in place of he/she, him/her, their.) Amy Watson is the woman behind 1984 printing. She is the one who printed Lit Knits.

We did come away with some treasures. There were so many different types of zines, but I was more in the mood for comic books.
The top two books are by Andy Warner. I really love his command of the medium, but also I'm a sucker for histories of things you might encounter in every day life. I had heard of his Brief Histories book, but also picked up When We Were Kids just to give it a read. I asked Andy how he ended up making a whole book on everyday objects and he said he had drawn about ten of them, but wasn't getting paid, so he quit. He had made them into a zine and sent them to various comic stores. It just so happened that someone from Picador (the publisher of the book) went into one of these shops, picked up the zine, and loved it so much he asked Andy if he'd like to make a whole book on the topic. Andy said yes. He said it really was an out-of-the-blue opportunity as he hadn't drawn that series for two years at the time of the offer.
We also picked up Liz Prince's book Be Your Own Backing Band. It is a collection of music-related diary comics that had originally been in Razorcake. I really like her comedic timing in her comics.
Finally, we found Slices, by Jaime Crespo. Slices has 40 1-page vignettes of different people who Jaime has run into in his life. He sure has met crazy people!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more comics to read.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Accounting For Knitting Time

Whew, it's been a wild two weeks since I last wrote. I started school last week and it has taken some time to adjust to the change in the amount of time I have to myself. One of those classes is Accounting, which I've found has a steep learning curve, but I'm enjoying none the less. The other class I'm taking is beginning watercolor. I've tried to watercolor for years and I just never felt like I had a good command of what I was doing. I'm really enjoying myself already. Partially because the teacher is so kind and partially because I haven't mentioned that I have any painting experience, so I don't feel like I need to create masterpieces. It's been freeing.
I think the plums came out the best

Meanwhile, I've managed to finish my Cider House socks. I realize that I never mentioned them here on the blog, but they have been mentioned on my instagram. I adjusted the Primavera Sock pattern to accommodate my sport weight handspun.

It took me four tries to get contrast yarn I liked to match my handspun. This seems to be a trend when I need yarn to match my handspun. In the end I bought a skein of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in sport weight in the Fedora color way.

And because I got something off of the needles, I rewarded myself with casting on something new. I bought this ball of Stray Cat Socks last year just after Halloween. I've been looking forward to the "I must have Halloween socks" bug to bite me and it has. With the way classes are I thought I ought to start now to guarantee that I finish in time for Halloween.

The Mother-In-Law Primavera Socks have also gone pretty well. I am mostly done with the foot of the first sock, but have had to put it aside until I can verify the foot length it needs to be. My original measurements seemed a little off and I'd like to get this one right. The Denature sock hasn't gone quite a smoothly. I was just about at the heel when I realized that the leg of the sock was quite a bit longer than I usually knit for myself and it wasn't going to fit up my calf. (Usually I knit a length that doesn't require a gusset for my calf.) So rip, rip, rip. I've had to do some extra work to make the pattern shorter and still have it line up correctly on the heel flap. Sigh.

Despite being able to fit in some knitting time, I'm still a little worried about how long that will last. Accounting is pretty tough and I'll be starting a second accounting class in the second week of October. I'd better knit as much as I can for now!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Oregon Caves

Last weekend Connor and I went up to Oregon to visit my family. Part of the trip was spent making recordings of my Oma's stories of growing up in WWII Germany, but we also were able to visit with a number of other relatives too. I also was able to share the Oregon Caves with Connor. I hadn't been in a number of years. They aren't open year round, so we took advantage while we were in the area.
Oregon Caves National Monument set aside by President Taft on July 12, 1909

My aunt, uncle, and their grandkids joined us. We've been to a number of caves, but it is interesting how different each one is. We were told that the Oregon Caves are made of marble, which is rather unusual. I noticed that these caves were much colder than any of the other ones I'd been in before, although I'm not sure why that was.
The Paradise Lost formation

Part way through, one of the kiddos wasn't feeling so well, so my aunt left with him through a rather handy door that was available to exit by at the 40% mark of the tour. After going through the caves, Connor and I opted to do the extra nature hike that looped down to the visitor center. My uncle took the remaining kiddos directly down.

After doing the short hike, Connor and I had a look at the visitor center. They have this neat model that shows you the route you walk on the tour.

We also picked up a magnet and patch while we were there.

I'm glad I got to share a childhood memory with Connor and make some new ones with my family.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Duderino

But sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Dude here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.

I'd seen the movie "The Big Lebowski" before, but Connor hadn't, so a few months ago we watched it. Connor immediately identified with the main character, The Dude.

Not long after I came across Andrea Rangel's The Knitter's Dude pattern. It was clear that Connor needed his own Dude Sweater.

This is the first sweater I've knit for Connor. I told him hand knit sweaters are like a knitter's hug. He agrees.

Connor did ask for a slight modification. The pattern's instructions are for a button closure. Connor wanted to have a zipper instead. It took me two different zippers to get it to work. I cut the first zipper too short and then had a bit of a meltdown because I didn't realize I cut it too short until it was fully installed... four hours after I started. The second zipper went in much faster.

Connor is planning to channel his inner Dude for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Joyful And Fuzzy Spirit

Happy 15th Birthday, Scooter!

We have been buddies for quite some time now and I'm impressed by your continued enthusiasm for life... and treats.

When you first rocketed into our lives, we didn't know how long we would get to enjoy your playful spirit.

I'm glad it has been for this long and I look forward to each day that we get to continue enjoying each other's company.

Things are looking good as you leap into your next year of life.
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