Monday, October 31, 2011

The Seagulls Of Clam Beach And Other Adventures

When I last left off, I had a really strong margarita in Chico. That night I called up Justin to make sure he'd be around for a visit the next day. The next morning, Mum and I had a good breakfast at the Diamond Hotel's restaurant, Johnnie's. Then we packed up. Mum commented that she felt like she was on assignment. Then she said something that had me giggling the rest of the day. "Let's take the elevator. No need to be a hero." Like taking the stairs would have made us heros.... hahaha. (We were on the third floor, so the elevator was nice.)

When we got to the coast, we picked up Justin and visited Knitter's Lane. Neither Mum nor Justin knit, but both have been dragged to enough yarn shops to know the lingo. They spent time giggling over how the could make complete sentences using words such as dye lot and fiber content. Then they both told me to check the dye lots and fiber content. Haha, very funny guys. 
The shop is small, but well kept and the prices are good. Mum picked out yarn for her annual birthday scarf, Patons Silk Bamboo in Orchid.

Justin pointed us in the direction of a local sandwich shop called Central Sandwich. Mum had a wrap, Justin had some vegetarian sandwich, and I had the The Big Turkey, which is a BLT with additional turkey and avocado. We took our food to Clam Beach and sat in the sand eating. Turns out there are some rather aggressive seagulls that live on Clam Beach. That seagull is about a yard away from Justin, and he had to duck a few times because it swooped at him.

While I was eating, both Mum and Justin started to laugh. Why, you ask? Well, the stupid seagull (who I thought had finally left) was actually hovering six inches above my head. It had its feet outstretched and was about to land upon my head and eat the sandwich out of my hands. I shrieked and ran off, but it followed me. 

And chased me down the beach.

This happened a few times. I'd see the seagull, hide the sandwich in my sweater. When it wasn't looking I'd take a bite. But then Justin took to trying to attract it. Mum thought it was funny. Justin thought it was funny. I did not. Justin got minus points for this. (He later found my lost lens cap in the sand, so he got some plus points for that.)

Before we left, I got my "Jumping At Clam Beach" picture with Justin.
Don't worry Justin. I photoshopped out your butt crack.

We ended the visit with Justin earning a million points. He was able to go to the Natural Fiber Fair in Arcata. (I'd like to point out again that at the moment, he does not knit, crochet, or do any kind of fiber craft) He handed me a box. I thought that maybe he picked up a little roving for me. Justin did so much better. He got me two different colors of Alpaca roving, two skeins of Alpaca, two circular needles, and a cable needle. Justin is awesome. He has earned a pair of hand knit socks. I might even come up with a new design for them. He is that awesome.

After leaving Justin, Mum and I headed northwards. We passed the Trees of Mystery. They were closed, but I still like getting my "Me and Paul Bunyan" picture whenever we pass by. Me and Paul are buds. However, Paul is much, much taller than I.  Let's put that in perspective, shall we.

Much, much taller. I wasn't even next to him. I don't think I even reach his boot. On a slightly separate note, I've done the Trees of Mystery tour before. It's a fun thing to do at least once in your life.
Not pictured: The anatomical correctness of Babe the Blue Ox.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Six Days, Four Yarnshops

I'm back from my trip, and boy was it lovely. It turns out that I had access to the internet the whole time, but I chose to take an internet break. Honestly, I was so busy I didn't have time for it. In the six days I was gone I managed to visit four yarn shops and five thrift/ antique stores. Mum and I first stopped in Chico, which is where she attended college. She hadn't been back since she graduated. We walked around the campus.

We also went to Heartstrings Yarn. The building looks rather plain, but the inside. Whoa baby. It is full of everything. Yarn, roving, buttons, needles. Sigh. And Laura, who helped us, was incredibly friendly and helpful. My only complaint was that it was a wee bit difficult to find. But only beccause Chico has the most backwards street numbering system ever. There is a 1st Street and a 1st Avenue. One set is in downtown and the other set is just outside of downtown.

Here's the damage. Three skeins of Cascade yarns Eco Alpaca and the 9th volume of the Norah Gaughan Collection.

We found the most wonderful Mexican Restaurant called Tres Hombres. Everything was so fresh. We chose it based on the fact that it was pretty full even though it was a Monday night. I can recommend the fish tacos and the steak quesadillas.

And the margaritas. Unless you are driving somewhere afterwards. Then you might want water instead. (It was a powerful brew.)

And that was just the first day. I'll keep posting more bits of my trip this week. Some rather interesting things happened to me. (I seem to have comically bad luck)

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Thanks for all the support guys. I feel so uplifted! I've been writing patterns of things I would like to wear, so I imagine that will come through.

On to more knitting news. I'll be gone for a week starting tomorrow (with questionable internet connectivity), so of course I had to start some new projects to work on while I'm away. The first is the Rocky Coast Cardigan. I preordered the book, Coastal Knits. (Which is into its second printing after being out two weeks! Congrats Alana and Hannah!) The Rocky Coast cardi was downloadable before the book was released. I meant to get going on it sooner, but at least I managed to buy yarn before the book arrived. I had bought Malabrigo Worsted in Azul Profundo, decided that it had too much green in it, and exchanged it for Bobby Blue. Much better.

I actually blocked my swatches. I don't know if I would have except I had extra yarn from the recent hat design. What do people do with their swatches once they are done? I'm kind of thinking it would eventually make a neat blanket.

I also got going on my next gift knit. I had promised Marci a pair of mittens for letting me go through some of her button collection. It took me awhile to decide how I was going to make the mittens with the yarn I had, Manos del Uruguay Maxima in the color way Arctic. I've decided on a pair Elizabeth Zimmermann mitered mittens. I am making some modifications so that I can incorporate buttons into the design. They shall be called "Zimmermitts."

Just in case I don't make it back online until next week, have a lovely week! (And if I do find an internet connection, have a lovely week anyways!)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Ugly Feeling

I've been reflecting on my book writing, and I've noticed that I have a distinct cycle I go through each month. I have 1-2 weeks of furious writing and knitting where I'll knit from 2PM to 3AM. I end up sleeping in pretty late, except on work days, of course. This has resulted in my Dad and brother believing that all I do is sleep. They only seem to pass by my room when I'm passed out. After two weeks of solid work, I spend a week fretting about what I've worked on followed by a week of recouping (playing computer games, knitting patterns that are not my own).
Three hats, same design. Not sure which ones will be pictured in the book. Hat details washed out on purpose.

This week is the week of fretting. It's a rather ugly feeling of "What am I doing?" "Why am I writing a book?" and the big one, "What if no one cares if it exists?" I think that last one worries me the most. Not because it actually matters if my book changes the world. But because I am pouring so much of myself into it. The rejection of my book is like a rejection of myself. If no one likes the book, then perhaps no one likes me. (Even though I know it isn't true, the feeling still exists) I imagine that is the feeling a lot of people have with their creative endeavors and that is why it is so hard to put yourself out there.
The second in a pair of socks for the book. This is the bottom of the sock. Can't show the pattern just yet.

I try my best to ignore that ugly feeling, but it is a bit paralyzing at times. I think the most important thing to do in this situation is to just keep going on. If I don't feel I can work on my own patterns, then I knit other peoples patterns. I can at least spend my time learning about different construction ideas and garments.
Emilien Sweater. Still needs the zipper. Hope to install it next week.

Working on the book isn't all gloom and doom, though. Even though work feels slow sometimes, I've started to write down everything I've knitted. It's funny how making a list can change my "Why haven't I completed anything" attitude into "How the heck did I have time for all that?"

On a slightly separate note, I'd like to thank everyone who comments on my blog. It makes me feel special and important. I am in the process of figuring out a different comment system for blogger. I want to respond to everyone, but blogger's comment system really isn't friendly in that sort of way. Just know that I read all comments and check out your blogs if you happen to have one.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Smells Like An Orc In Here

I spent the last week watching the extended versions of Lord of the Rings. Every once in a while I get the urge. And I can't just watch one, I have to watch all of them. Anyways, during one of the riders of Rohan bits in the Return of the King, I started to notice that it smelled a bit like the riders were in my room. Possibly napping right next to me.
He even looks like an orc sometimes. A cute orc.

So Scooter got a bath. He was starting to smell less like a rider of Rohan and more like an Orc. Now he smells a bit more like Arwen.

In other news, watching all of the Lord of the Rings makes me want to knit up Lord of the Rings themed socks. I'm stuck between making Aragorn by Janneke Maat or Rivendell by Janel Laidman. (I'll probably make both if I'm going to be honest about this) There are only two things keeping me from making either. The first is that my sock needles are currently occupied by a sock design. But it's knitting up pretty quick. (To be honest again, I'll probably buy myself another set of sock needles on Sunday, when I'm working at the yarn shop)
Images belong to Janneke Maat and Janel Laidman respectively

The second problem is a bit bigger. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to get gauge. I never thought I was a loose knitter, but I've never been able to get 8sts/in, and I'm knitting on size 0 needles. The closest I've gotten is 7.5sts/in. I've tried different yarn. I've tried knitting tighter. I'm ok with altering a design a bit, but it's still a bummer. Especially because I want to make a pair of Druid mittens. I bought the yarn in New Zealand last year. I tracked down the magazine. Turns out the pattern is now available on ravelry, but it wasn't when I started this whole thing. The gauge is, you guessed it, 8sts/in. (On size 3 needles no less. Jared Flood must be a crazy tight knitter) Luckily there is some room to subtract some stitches. But still.
Exhibit A. I know that it is important to knit out a large swatch. But lets face it. This will never be the 1 inch it should be. The minute I block it, it will probably grow to be 2 inches.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Boom. Sweater.

Boom. The sweater is done. I even started work on a sock. It's kind of a relief to have hit a bit of a knitting groove after having a week of blah. I wonder how long it will last...

I'm not normally into baby stuff, but making little clothes does appeal to me. I'm sure the little mooseling it's intended for will be quite cozy. The pattern I added to the sweater is intended to be stars above the moose herd and a river below them. I would have added more white, but it's a baby thing. I though grey would conceal stains more effectively. 
I kinda wish this sweater was me-sized

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I had an incredibly productive day yesterday. I went on a hike, finished reading a book, finished a sock, and started my very first baby knit. For a friend, not for me. She hasn't told me if it's a boy or girl, so she gets a grey sweater. I'm using Petite Purls Beach Baby sweater as the base. Although I am making the sweater Moose-themed per request.

The yarn is lovely as well. I'm using Cascade 220 Superwash Sport. It's superwash merino. Very soft, very shiny. Everything has gone reasonable well except that the grey ball has decided to explode. I'm hoping that I can knit fast enough before that becomes a problem.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Well Read (1)

I wanted to share some of my favorite knitting blogs as of late... in alphabetical order.

First up is AC Engineered Knits. Her writing style keeps me in stitches. (Haha. Stitches. I wrote that before I realized how funny that is) Everything from knitting tragedies to "The Sweater That Is Probably Going To Look Like A Bag" Sometimes, late at night, you can hear me giggling in my room. 9 times out of 10, it's because I think about the bag sweater. Also, you can't beat someone who will "stand close to you so you seem cool by association" I hope that one day I will be cool by association.

AC Engineered Knits:
Pattern Design

Next up is Fernknits. Jennifer knits and bikes! And she posts about both. I am certain that if we lived in the same town, we'd be biking and knitting buddies. (Maybe even beer buddies) Alas, I live in a different state. Her adventures remind me not to give up on my own. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be convinced that mountain biking isn't so scary. She also had one of her designs show up in the knitpicks catalogue. I was simultaneously happy for her and a wee bit jealous. She's got several gorgeous designs in the works, so keep an eye out for them.

Pattern Design

Andi of My Sister's Knitter has always got something on her needles. And more often than not, they are socks. I love seeing all her wonderful yarn and pattern selections. And the speed with which she knits. I'm sure that every time she sneezes, a pair of socks fall off her needles. Also, she regularly shares an lovely song. Little gems that I wouldn't have necessarily come across, but really should listen to. She's lovely to chat with to boot.

My Sister's Knitter:

Last, but certainly not least is Andi of Untangling Knots. Andi has been posting a bunch of button hole, CO, BO reviews. And even though I was bad and didn't post any comments on them, I have thoroughly loved reading each entry. She also has some wonderful designs. In the picture below is Agatha. Not only do I love that name, but check out the clever decreases in the side of the sweater. I want to make the sweater simply because I'm in love with the way she chose to do the decreases. (And the sweater is attractive as well) I'm going to go ahead and admit that initially I was nervous to even leave a comment on her blog because her designs are so pretty, but Andi is a lovely person. And she has taken the time to answer various questions about tech editing and other intimidating things, in detail, which I have very much appreciated.

Untangling Knots:
Pattern Design

Anyone have any fun blogs they've come across? I'd love to know about them. (Even if it is your own blog) They don't have to be knitting exclusive. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just Keep Spinning

I decided to spend a day or two spinning to get my mind off of all the problems I was having with some designs. Plus, I had to start using all the knowledge I'd gained at Lambtown.

This fiber is BFL from Twisted Sunshine. The color way doesn't have an official name, but I think I'll call it Merlot. It reminds me of the deep hue merlot grapes have.

I also finished up all the practice yarn from Lambtown. The white yarn I left as singles. They were made using a long draw (aka the beer draw). The other two skeins were made using various different drafting techniques, but I went ahead and chain plied them. They are practice skeins, and I still need to practice my chain plying.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scooter's Cologne

My knitting output has been frustratingly low and my creative zen has gone, so here are some pictures of Scooter rolling on a dead worm to entertain you.

First he determines if the smell is worth rolling in. The answer is always yes.

Then he works a back and forth wiggling motion to maximize the smell to fur ratio.

Followed by a good head grinding action to solidify the worm smell in his fur until the next bath. (Those baths have been occurring more frequently as of late)

And one last roll for the sheer joy of it.

He has also taken to trying to roll in bird poop when we are on our walks... as we are walking. It doesn't matter that we aren't stopping. He hurls himself into the concrete for the chance to add Eau De Poo on his shoulders.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

I thought that I would be able to show off my finished sweater today. This is not going to happen. Possibly for a really long time...
I finished blocking my sweater yesterday and was happy to pick up a zipper today. I felt pretty smug over choosing the made in USA rather than the made in China one. The lady at the counter asked if I needed black thread. "Not me. I have plenty."

By plenty, I actually meant none. After digging through all the sewing boxes in the house (We have four. I didn't know that before today.)

I found that I only have navy blue. I'm within walking distance of Hancock Fabrics, but I was pretty mad at myself, so I drove. Quickly. (but within the speed limit, of course) Got my thread, waited in an enormous line, drove straight home.

Only to find that my sewing machine has given up the ghost. That piece in my hand. That isn't even suppose to wiggle in the sewing machine. I've had the machine serviced regularly, but I think that plunking down $100 every time I need that machine has gotten to be a bit much.

I got a bit teary when relating the story to my Dad. I'm trying to finish a sweater, that as it turns out, doesn't stay on my shoulders very well. I hoped the zipper would help out. Usually my Dad's advice is something like, "wait on it" or "don't worry about it". This time his advice was, "Maybe you should have a beer."
It's five o' clock somewhere...

Friday, October 7, 2011

In Order To Finish, You Have To Begin

I noticed that it's been two weeks since I've talked about any knitting. Two weeks! I have been knitting quite a bit, but it's all been secret knitting. (Or that wretched sweater. I've sworn to myself not to post anymore about it until it's done.) I've been debating whether or not to talk about what all the secret knitting is for, mostly because once I start to talk about it, then I'm admitting to myself that I'm really going through with the idea. So here it goes...
I'm working on a knitting pattern book. And while it is too soon for me to talk about the theme, (unless you know me personally, in which case I talk about it all the time) I will start talking about all the frustrating and rewarding things that go along with creating a knitting book.
Madelinetosh Sock in Graphite, soon to be a pair of socks

The first thing that I find frustrating about writing a book is that everyone seems to be writing a book. I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter how many people are writing books. All that matters is that I finish mine.
Malabrigo Worsted in Bobby Blue, Ravelry Red, and Natural, soon to be a pair of hats

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I love October. The smell, the pumpkin themed coffees, the weather. But best of all, I get to pull out all of my Halloween socks.

I've got quite a collection built up.So much so that I've even had to dedicate a drawer to holiday socks. The Halloween socks take up a good fifth of the drawer.

I'm even contemplating designing a pair of Halloween socks. I don't even know what they would have on them, but I sure want to make a pair. Anyone have any opinion on what must be on a pair of Halloween themed socks?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Winemaking: Year Four

This is the fourth year I've made wine and the third year I've gone to Dennis' place to get grapes. (the first year I lived at a place with an established grape vine) Dennis is a pretty good sport. He wasn't feeling 100%, but still helped me harvest the grapes and pull them all off of the stems.

I much prefer making a zinfandel by hand rather than a merlot. The grapes are much larger, so the number of grapes we had to pull off the stems is much lower. The year I made the merlot by myself it took me from 10am to 1am with a 30 minute dinner break to harvest the grapes and pull them off of the stems. (I'll do the math for you. It took 14.5 hours.) It took the two of us three hours to harvest the grapes and pull them all off of the stems.

It was divine providence that I managed to get a hold of Dennis and harvest the grapes when I did. The next day it rained. I heard on the news that all the wineries in the area were scrambling to harvest. Partially because the grapes would rot from the dampness, but mostly because the rain would drop the sugar content in the grapes. The higher the sugar content is, the more food the yeast can use to make alcohol. Low sugar content makes for watery wine.

I mashed up the grapes on my own when I got home. I used my hands, not my feet. Everyone wonders. My brother commented that I ought to have a cleaner hobby.
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