Friday, April 20, 2018

Rainbow Of Possibilities

Have you ever looked at your to-do list and said, "I have no idea where to start?" That has been me for the last two weeks. Every item on the list was really 50 hidden jobs in order to finally cross it off the list. I've been doing my best to break down each job and work on them a little each day. Some of those items have been more mundane like returning a pair of pants or cleaning the fridge coils. Others have been a bit more fun to tackle, like the quilt.

I finally decided to do the quilting with 3 strands of embroidery floss (out of six) in a square pattern that doesn't match latitude and longitude. In order to make the lines relatively straight, I decided to baste little x's into the quilt. Part way through basting, my measurements started to go off and I raged.

Enter Connor. He offered to help and we've spent our evenings with him measuring and basting while I do the actual quilting. We've been listing to Anne of Green Gables on audiobook while working. Of course after watching Anne With An E on Netflix, Connor was curious about the book because I had so often yelled at the TV about how "that wasn't in the book!"
I didn't realize how big this quilt was until I put it on our Queen sized bed for the photo. I might need to make the quilt a little less tall.

I've also been trying to work out what brand of paint to use for long distance trips. I love M Graham watercolors, but they just will not dry in my pans. (I poured these more than a month ago and they are still wet.) It's fine working with them near home, but as we have a bigger trip in the works, it has become clear I need to come up with a new solution.
The reason I love M Graham is because they rewet so easily; great for painting, not great for tidy transportation.

Deciding what paints to use instead isn't easy, especially when you are still sad that your favorites aren't working out. I started by making swatches of what I do have. Then after puzzling a few days more, I decided to order a color dot card that will allow me to try out some new colors. I'm just waiting on that to arrive. Hopefully I'll be able to make a final decision soon.

What kinds of things haven't been coming off of your to-do lists? And is it because of lack of time or a lack of a plan? (Or something else?)

Friday, April 6, 2018

These Boots Aren't Meant For Walking

This past March was a "put one foot in front of the other" kind of month. With a combination of family health scares and a pile of difficult tests, I ended up pretty stressed out. It's taken me a week or two to start feeling better. But rather than focus on the negative, let me show off some things that helped lift me up.

1. I have made a new pair of baby booties. The last pair I made unfortunately didn't fit the recipient. After seeing the tiny baby feet in person, I decided to make up my own pattern. They look weird without feet in them, but I'm pretty sure that with small feet inside them, these new cowboy booties will look much cuter.

2. I finished embroidering the lower 48 states. What a job! I'm not anywhere close to finishing this quilt, but I feel pretty darn good about how far I've gotten. I've ordered some new embroidery floss and plan to quilt the remaining background with longitude and latitude lines. (Alaska and Hawaii will be added too!)
Toughest coastline embroider: Maryland

3. Yarn! My Plucky I ordered at Stitches West arrived. I initially felt it was too dark, but it's growing on me. Then a fantastic package from Wei Siew arrived. She sure did spoil me. Dark Harbor, Bleeting Arts, and Fiber 2 Go?! She also sent a few other unpictured goodies.

4. I finished my Groovy Socks and have cast on two new pairs. Vanilla Latte socks in Stray Cat Socks's Blue Moon color way and Woodpile socks in Spun Right Round's Bug Jar color way.

5. Just today I decided to paint a scene from the TV show Riverdale. Connor and I recently finished it and I really liked the design for Pop's Chock'lat Shoppe. 

How has life been going for all of you? Have you focused on anything to help keep you sane?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Mending

Yesterday was the first day in I don't know how long where I wasn't in crisis mode. There wasn't any homework to be caught up on, no supplies needing to be bought, no promises that I needed to make good on; it felt rather weird.

I looked around, trying to figure out what would be the best use of my time when my eye caught my Dad's sweater. Both sleeves needed some mending and I had finally found some yarn that matched it. It was tough to fix because it was a double knit. Eventually I was victorious... but not before I texted my Dad telling him what a miserable experience it was going to be mending it.

Since I had all my mending stuff out, I looked around again and realized that I had a stack of socks that have been waiting for some attention for maybe more than a year. Some needed duplicate stitching, some needed a woven darn, some needed a combination.

I don't know what possessed me, but I mended the lot.

There is still studying to do and other things that will need my attention in the coming days, but I haven't felt this much peace in a while. Who knew that mending all the knits might mend me a bit too.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Littlest Cowpoke

This past week was another wild one. A loved one had a few days stay at the hospital for a complication from a routine procedure. (All is well, thank goodness.)  It looks like I might be able to go up to Oregon to visit my Oma soon. An exam was delayed by two days. Connor is going back to Japan for business, but it looks like this time I might get to join him. All the ups and downs have left me worn out. Not much happen creatively except these cuties.

I've been doing my best to quickly make these little booties for my cousin and his fiancĂ©e's new little girl. I'm not really sure how quickly baby feet grow, so I really hope that their little girl is able to fit these. 
Embroidery scissors for scale

I'm happy these little booties are done. I've been re-reminded that crochet is not my strength. I ripped out and re-crocheted these so many times! But clearly it was worth it. They are so cute!  Both my parents squealed when they saw them.

Now all they need is a little cowpoke to fill them.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Sock By Any Other Name

The last two weeks have been hard. There have been lots of positives, but there has also been an enormous amount of stress. I've been doing my best to ride it out and be kind to myself. Meanwhile I've continued knitting and, in an unusual turn of events, crocheting. I taught myself to crochet a year after I learn to knit. And while I feel ok at it, I don't actively search out patterns to use that skill. Of course it turns out that sometimes those patterns find me. 
My cousin just had a baby and I was trying to figure out a good gift when I came across the cutest bootie pattern. It's going to take me a few days to make these, but I managed to get past the soles with minimal fudging.

I also finished up my Rose By Any Other Name socks. When I mentioned them last I thought I would be finished with them by Valentines Day. Ha! I did finish them, but just before I cut the yarn to kitchener the toe, I counted the stitches. I was one off. Eventually I discovered that I had decreased an extra stitch at the beginning of the gusset and that because I was a whole stitch off for the entire foot, my second sock was a 1/2 inch longer than the first one due to me placing the toe decreases based on the stripe transition. Rip, rip, rip. Then the sock sat in time out while I kicked myself for not counting my stitches after finishing the gusset. I made sure to count multiple times when I knit the foot for the second time.
Vanilla socks in Canon Hand Dyes color way A Rose By Any Other Name

So now I am left with only one project on the needles, my Groovy Socks. I'm actually a little worried about finishing them because I have no idea what my next project should be. I have all sorts of design ideas floating around in my head, but not enough brain cells to devote to figuring them out. 
Groovy Socks in White Birch Fiber Arts color way Wild Thai Ryder

I know that a lot of knitters suffer from startitis. Has anyone had a case of anti-startitis? (Does anyone have a better name for anti-startitis for that matter?)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Stitches West 2018

This year I wasn't going to go to Stitches West. I told myself, "I have enough yarn" and "If you go, you know you'll buy more because you have no self control once the yarn fumes hit you." So that was that. The day before Stitches opened to the general public my father said, "Well, if you don't go, you might be sad about it, but if you do go, the worst that could happen is you'll forget about the experience. Also, I need a replacement 'Knit Long and Prosper' mug. Mine got chipped." Ever the dutiful daughter, I went.

As you can see, I got the "Knit Long And Prosper" mug from Pawley Studios... and a few other things. Connor came along during his lunch break and talked me into two skeins from White Birch Fiber Arts. The bluer one is "The Truth Is Out There" and the purple one is "Travel Agent For Guilt Trips." We also got a pretty soap dish from Kunihiro Pottery. I've been jealous of the one I gave my mum back in 2015. Then there were the girl scouts...
After all those purchases Connor had to go back to work so I was left to my own devices. I picked up a skein of Baah! La Jolla in La Perla. I've decided that it's my favorite skein of white, it's hard to find, so it is worth the money. After that, I wandered around, peeked in a bunch of different booths, and almost left without any more yarn. The last booth I stopped at was the Plucky booth. There are some really hardcore fans of Plucky. I am not one of them, but I appreciate their colors. I picked up three skeins of Trusty Fingering in Barn Door, but tragically, I needed four to make the sweater I wanted. As I lamented being short a skein, two fellow stitches west attendees chatted with me. They said, "Don't you know you can preorder skeins. Also, that grey would look great on you." Then they left. I wish I could tell those two lovely ladies that they succeeded in enabling me. I not only bought 6 skeins of Trusty (worsted) in Metro, I preordered four skeins of Trusty Fingering in Barn Door. I didn't get a chance to say thank-you, but just know you helped me enhance my stash.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Postcard Project

Late last month I decided I wasn't going to show my paintings online so I could reclaim the joy of painting. That is mostly still true, although a friend of mine launched a 50 State Postcards in 50 Weeks project and I just feel compelled to join in. Obviously, it's more fun to be a part of a project like this when you are sharing. It feels almost like a collaboration, which I think I've needed far more than I realized.

I've really been enjoying dusting off my old graphic design skills with this project. Coming up with compositions that best represent each state has been a fun challenge. I've also enjoyed trying to have the occasional easter egg appear in the cards, like having the Hawaiian Islands dot the i's in Hawaii as well as represent the stigma in the hibiscus flower.

What makes this project a bit more challenging is that I'm choosing to do it all in watercolor. There isn't much room for error with watercolors, so sometimes when I'm stuck on a color decision, I'll make little color studies. I didn't know what color to make the words, "California" so I took a picture of the unfinished postcard and made a sheet of them so I could color in different possibilities.
I texted this picture to a bunch of people and everyone like a different option. I went with #4.

I've had real fun with this project and I've looked forward to seeing Heather's postcards each week. We are both posting on instagram under the hashtag "#5050postcards". Heather is also posting her postcards on her blog.

I've realized with this project that there are a bunch of states I know nothing about. If anyone has any ideas of what symbols make you think of a particular state, I'd love to hear about it. I'm particularly at a disadvantage with East Coast and Midwestern states. I'm embarrassed to admit that some of those states seem so similar to me that I'm worried I won't make a distinct enough postcard for them. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Stitching States And Socks

It was another busy week with school and other commitments, but I still have found a little time in the evenings to work on my crafty pursuits. My Hylestad socks are finally done, for one.
Hylestad socks in Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering's En Garde and Baah! La Jolla's La Perla

Truth be told, I had finished them a week or two ago, but only finally sat down and wove in the ends. We've been watching Man In The High Castle and it is too interesting to weave ends to.

I've also be knitting away at my Rose By Any Other Name socks. I was hoping to have them done in time to wear for Valentine's Day, but in the last week the temperature has gone up significantly and now it is too hot to wear hand knit socks. I'll try to get them done anyways, just in case it decided to cool down.
Vanilla Socks in Canon Hand Dye's Rose By Any Other Name

Then there are the socks I cast on while we were in Hawaii. Or rather, I cast them on while we were in the airport to leave Hawaii. Still counts as Hawaii socks, right?
Groovy socks in White Birch Fiber Art's Wile Thai Ryder

There was also a night this last week where I was overcome with the need to work on my USA quilt. First I was just going to stitch a bit of Oregon. Then I was just going to stitch the California coast. But before I knew it, it was past midnight and I had finished all of Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. I got to move the hoop and now I only have the gulf states and a bit of the east coast left.
The quilt is still far from being done, but at least a major potion will be complete.

Has anyone else found solace in their projects this week? Are there any projects that you've felt compelled to work on?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

To O'ahu We Must Go

Connor and I just got back from a quick getaway in O'ahu. It was very spur of the moment, but there was a good deal on plane tickets, so there you go. As usual, we really packed it in, but because we took time to sit and enjoy ourselves, we came away feeling well rested and relaxed.
On our first day in O'ahu, we hiked up Diamond Head to watch the sun rise. Or we almost saw the sun rise... more like we saw the sun rising. I sat and painted this scene while Connor listened in on the many Japanese tourists to see if he could recognize any words.

The hike wasn't too hard, but it was humid, so we came away rather sweaty and tired. After a nap, we headed out to see the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. You see a film, which is sobering, before you board a boat to visit the actual memorial. I think the film allowed everyone to be much more respectful as we were all on the same page about the gravity of the bombing in Pearl Harbor. We came away with a better sense of the loss that happens during war.

After Pearl Harbor we stopped by a beach to snorkel. It was the beginning of our snorkel adventures as the next day we got up to snorkel at Hanauma Bay. We arrived about mid-morning and we relieved to get a parking spot. After watching the required movie, we were allowed to go down to the beach and reef. There was a huge variety of fish in the reef. I must have seen 3-4 varieties of parrotfish alone. I got a kick out of seeing both the largest and smallest rainbow parrotfish I'd ever seen. We also saw a few Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Hawaii's state fish) swimming around.
After two rounds of snorkeling, I was ready to warm up, so I did something I don't think I've ever done in my life: I sat on the beach and did nothing. Connor went back in for a bit longer before we left.

Eventually we left and drove to the east side of O'ahu to see what we could see. We might have chosen the best time to leave because soon we were driving through a giant cloudburst. After exploring a few places we found ourselves on Lanikai beach. It was pretty quiet and as advertised: beautiful. We decided that if we ever made it back to O'ahu, we'd have to spend a little more time here.
It was here that we decided that we could live in O'ahu quite happily

On our last full day in O'ahu, we headed north to see the Dole Plantation. The first order of business was to get lost in the biggest botanical maze in the world. We spent nearly 50 minutes looking for the 8 stations throughout the maze.

Afterwards we jumped aboard the train to see some of the pineapple fields. I've decided that pineapples are a weird fruit. They grow at such odd angles on the mother plant. We also learned that pineapples aren't even native to Hawaii, but because of Dole's success, we associate them with Hawaii. After our train ride we stopped for some Dole Whip, which is as good as they say, before going to the north shore.

In winter, the north shore if famous for its large waves and the surfers that follow them. We decided to go to Banzai Pipeline to see if anyone was there. As it turned out, there was going to be a competition the next day. We saw quite a few great surfers. Connor decided he wanted to frolic in the waves and did so while I painted. When I finished, he talked me into joining him. It was fun until the second time I got a mouth full of seawater. 
If you look carefully, you can see a surfer riding the wave

After exhausting ourselves, we found a bar/grill that served Loco Moco past breakfast. (Loco Moco is a rice/egg/beef patty/ gravy dish that is rather tasty) While waiting for our meal, we spotted some of these guys. Unfortunately, these geckos are not native, but they were sure fun to watch. One stalked a fly and another one tried to sell me car insurance. We also saw a brown one that had two tails! He was too quick for a picture.

We came away with two patches and a magnet, which was much more restrained than the last time we were in Hawaii.

All in all, we had a great time. I only wish we had a few more days to snorkel and eat a ton more tasty food. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Shaking Off Perfectionism

I've had a really rough time reclaiming my creativity lately, especially when it comes to painting. I look at different artist's sketchbooks on various social media and they all seem so perfect. Intellectually I know that it is unlikely that every page they have produced is perfection, but it's left me being too afraid to lay paintbrush to paper.
Filling some new pans with paint

But what could I do? You only get better by practicing and I am now afraid of practicing.
Empty Meeden watercolor tins

Eventually I realized that what I was most afraid of was not having any masterpieces to share. So I've taken a new approach.
Holbein, M. Graham, and Grumbacher tubes. Not shown is Daniel Smith. I'm most fond of M. Graham at the moment.

Even if I paint a masterpiece, I am not going to share any paintings online for a while.
Moleskine Art Plus sketchbook

I think it will be much healthier for me to reclaim painting as something I do for myself rather than something I do to earn accolades.
I got an adhesive magnet tape, cut it into little rectangles and adhered it to the bottom of the pans so they would magnetically stick to my tin.

In the meantime, I'd like to share some artists I greatly admire.
Missy Dunaway paints the most beautiful journal entries. Even she will tell you that she paints over some of her paintings repeatedly before she has something she likes.
Chandler O Leary has some awesome travel sketchbooks. She was kind enough to share what materials she uses. It helped me get a better idea of what I could use that would hold up to heavy use.
James Gurney regularly shares his plein air paintings. And still one better, he often releases videos showing how he did it.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

One Tree Short Of A Forest

I have some good knitting news and some bad knitting news. Let's start with the good. I finished my Joyeux Noel socks early for next Christmas! Ok... so I didn't finish in time for this past Christmas, but that's ok. They came out great and now I get to look forward to wearing them during the next holiday season.
Stray Cat Socks in Joyeux Noel and a special-ordered contrasting brown

The bad news... well... I made a big boo boo. It might be hard to see in the picture, but last night as I was doing the decreases for the second sock to go from 72 to 64 stitches, I couldn't get the stitch count to come out right. Finally I counted out my stitches... and I already had 64 stitches. I turned a little grey. There are 9 repeats of the tree pattern on the first sock; there are only 8 on the second one. Sigh. I held off ripping until today.
It's probably better not to rip when you are angry

Of course with no knitting to work on, I cheered myself up with casting on something new. I've been meaning to knit my skein of Canon Hand Dyes in "A Rose By Any Other Name" for a while now. Every time I get to it Valentine's Day has passed and I lose my motivation. Not this year though! Maybe with enough of a head start I'll be able to wear these puppies in time for the pinkest holiday of the year.

What kinds of things have you all had to rip out lately? Has anyone else been one tree short of a forest?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Three To Kentucky

We've been back from Kentucky for more than a week. Christopher came along and the three of us enjoyed spending Christmas together right before we all banded together to help Annabel (Connor's sister) get married. But in between all the business of the season we had some fun. We did things like...

Chop wood.

Christopher had his first Waffle House experience. He ordered the peanut butter waffle, expecting there to be real peanut butter. The fool. They put peanut butter chips on peanut butter waffles at Waffle House!

The three of us hiked up to Natural Bridge.
Natural Bridge is in the background as we stand at Lover's Leap.

We did a tour at Buffalo Trace Distillery.

I tried to make friends with the chickens. 
Only one was brave enough to eat from my hand.

It got so cold that the creek began to freeze over and we had to keep the wood stove burning.
Before we left, a thin sheet of ice developed across the whole creek

Christopher chopped more wood.

It was all this and more. It was a good trip, but we were all tired by the end. I'm still glad that Christopher got to have a taste of Kentucky.
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