Monday, January 30, 2012


My birthday is coming up and I was informed by my knitting group that I am not suppose to buy any knitting related items until then. I agreed without hesitation. I have a few projects going on and have no need for anything, especially yarn. Then we got a new shipment of malabrigo at the shop. And I forgot I ever made that promise. All I could think about was getting some yarn. I'm not sure if I should be proud or ashamed that I managed to forget my promise in under 24 hours. I think I'll attribute it to "yarn amnesia" or yarnesia. I will renew my pledge to not buy anymore yarn until my birthday... unless the shipment of madelinetosh shows up.

In other news, I'm having difficulty with getting the right fit with my Rocky Coast Cardi. The shoulders are really wide, but I haven't put in the collar yet. After last nights knit and rip session with the arms, I've decided to put in the collar before the arms. I figure that if the collar doesn't make the cardigan stay up, I won't even need to bother with the arms. Of course when I brought out everything this afternoon, Scooter promptly decided that he knew the perfect place to lay down. Scooter's secret power is to get comfy in the most inconvenient place faster than you can blink. He's even using the freshly wound ball of yarn as a pillow.

I removed him from my sweater and he decided that laying on my pajamas would be an acceptable substitute.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Artistic Swatch Organization

I don't know about the rest of you knitters and crocheters out there, but I have the worst time with keeping my swatches in order. They just kind of end up... everywhere. But I have devised an excellent way to keep current swatches in order. You'll need a little wood crate. Mine held fudge and is 8 x 6.25 x 1.5 inches. You can find small wood crates on etsy as well. Here's a good one. You'll also need some paper clips and your swatches. I personally tie on a bit of paper with swatch information onto my swatches, but that is optional.

Start by bending the inside part of the paper clip down. You now have a little hook.

Use the paper clip hooks to hang your swatches onto the crate and voila, you now have a way to organize swatches. And, if you like, you can always hang the crate up on the wall. It's a great way to see what kinds of projects you have on the needles, or are planning for.

Once I'm done with a project, I use an old cigar box to hold all my old swatches.

Now I need to come up with a project that can use up old swatches.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Best Weekend EVER

This past weekend I went up to Davis to visit friends and film The Music Video. The first night Jackie and I went over the music video storyboard, then headed over to a house show. Every band was awesome. I have no pictures because I was busy having fun. But I did pick up CDs from Cat Party (s/t) and The Babs Johnson Gang (Alive At The Press Club). La Corde and Burgers also played. I know La Corde has released some material and I'm a bit bummed I didn't get ahold of any of it, but I busy helping break down some stuff between sets.

Saturday afternoon was spent doing lighting tests. Jackie and I spent hours making sure everything would run smoothly. ie, Seeing how well a guitar would fit in the hallway and testing camera angles.
Light Tests

We actually filmed Saturday evening. I had originally said filming would take an hour or two. I know better than that. I always have to multiply my time estimates by three. But it's easier to convince people to help you when it's "an hour or two". Not six hours. So yes, I suckered everyone into a 6 hour shoot. But we shot the whole video in one night, which is pretty awesome.
 More Light Tests

Now I have some serious editing to do. I really hope the video comes out well. All signs point to yes, but I'm a perfectionist... so I'll probably not be completely satisfied, but that's ok. (What artist is ever completely satisfied with their work anyways? Probably none.)
Even More Light Tests

Here's a couple "behind the scenes" shots from A.J.

I didn't even realize he was taking any pictures. But I'm glad he did. This one is of me explaining to Nat the general premise of the video.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

When Penmanship Was Romantic

Along with all the other projects I've been working on, I've been seriously considering getting a dip pen and trying my hand at letter writing. After looking at old family photographs, I realized how beautiful and difficult it was to write. There is a little added romance to writing done with a dip pen.
As I was researching pen nibs, I came across this image on wikipedia.

How fun would it be to write with a nib that is in the shape of a hand or eiffel tower? There is only two things that are really keeping me from this project. 1. I don't know who to write. 2. I don't know what to write. I suppose those are two very large barriers, but in my mind I am already blotting the excess ink off my paper.
Anyone want to be a pen pal? (Be warned, this could be a fleeting fancy.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Genius, Right?

Does anyone else do many, many things and then feel like they have done absolutely nothing. I seem to be in a constant time warp where I may have done an impossible number of things, but feel like I did them all last week. Things I've done since Saturday: A two day illustration project, massive coordination for the music video, picked up yarn for a prototype, drawn some comics, fixed the armpits of a sweater. 
Speaking of sweater armpits, I have decided to do my Rocky Coast Cardi's arms at the same time. The cables change around a bit as the arm decreases, so it is a little easier to remember what I've done if they are done at the same time. I've also come up with a great system to figure out where I am in the arm. The cables are an 8 row repeat, so I'm using the right number on the counter to mark where in the cable repeats I am. I'm using the left number to let me know how many total repeats there are. So I haven't done 32 rows. I'm on the 2nd row of the cable repeat and I've done 3 total repeats of the cable. Genius, right?

I've also continued working on the Druid mittens. I did come to the conclusion that my original plan of shrinking down the mitten wasn't going to work. At least not to the degree of shrinking that would be needed. I mean, look at that. I could nearly get both my hands into one cuff.

I've gone ahead and taken 18 stitches out of the pattern, which results in the cuff on the right. Much, much better. It may need to be felted a little bit, but not very much. Of course all this extra work to make the pattern fit me has sucked some of the fun out of the knitting. I'm going to look on the bright side though, and note that I have learned to make bobbles while making these mittens, and I think I like it. The bobbles do seem to like to flip to the wrong side of my work, and I'm not sure why, but I've decided not to worry about it too much just yet.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Favoriting Oma

I was reading a bunch of blogs where the bloggers talked about how they have made so many friends while blogging. I started wondering where my blog friends where when it hit me: I am a big fat idiot. I have a bunch of blog friends who I care about and converse with on a fairly regular basis. But the actual friendships have crept up on me. I didn't even realize that I had made friends while blogging. Isn't that dumb? The ah-ha moment came when this package appeared at my door.

I am a big fan of Stansborough and kiwipurler was kind enough to take the time and effort to send me some samples. I felt so loved and appreciated when I opened up that package. I'll be hoarding the skeins until I can come up with a good design for them.

I just wanted to thank everyone who does chat with me! I appreciate all the kind words. And I love reading all your blogs too. I wish I could think of a better way to express my thanks. (Feel free to leave me suggestions.)

On a slightly separate note, the pictures of the Gnarled Oak Cardigan has gotten quite a bit of attention on my blog and ravelry ever since I added the pictures of my Oma wearing it. I wasn't expecting that at all. My favorite comment so far is this one.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yarn Is The Solution

On my return trip home, Mum and I stopped by Ashland to visit a buddy of mine. I had knit Aja a little something. When I bought Lorna's Laces Zombie BBQ, I knew it had to go to Aja. No question about it. When I handed the knit to her and told her the color name, she laughed and showed me that she was wearing her zombie shirt.

This hood is a prototype to a design idea I have. The prototype's name is My Body's A Zombie For You. A million points if you get the reference without looking on google. 
As promised, I didn't post the picture that made you look like Pacman.

And while we were in Ashland I had to visit the yarn shop. I give The Websters an A+. Everyone was friendly, the selection was great, and the prices were reasonable. I could give it a more thorough review, but I think you should just visit the shop yourself.

I bought a skein of Tosh Light in the Cousteau colorway for a design idea and three skeins of Spindrift in the Ivy colorway as a backup to my Druid mittens. I've encountered some sever gauge difficulty with those mittens, so I panicked and bought the three skeins. I challenge anyone to admit that they haven't thought that buying more yarn was a good solution.

After the yarn shop Mum and I asked Aja about a good lunch spot that was unique to Ashland. We settled on The Black Sheep. Could this day not get any more perfect? Not only was the place named after my favorite fiber-producing animal, but it's a British Pub. I love pub food.

I had the bangers and mash. It was excellent. Everything that we ordered was great! Mum had shepherds pie and Aja had Irish stew. I can't wait to go there again. I think it is my new favorite eatery.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Favorite Detour

Whenever I go up to visit my grandparents, I usually try to also visit Jacksonville as well. One of my favorite cemeteries is there, a bunch of the walls around the town have old painted advertisements, and there are lots of fun little shops and places to explore. 

Unfortunately the yarn shop closed a few months ago, but my aunt introduced me to some fun new places. The first place we went to is called Jacksonville Barn Co. I predictably found some old suitcases I couldn't live without. The interiors were perfect. And although the bottom one is pretty large, it follows the "has to fit under my bed" rule.

I also saw a cute little book that I couldn't leave behind. I tried to, but it followed me to the register.

We all got hungry after scouring the Jacksonville Barn Co., so we went to our favorite restaurant, the Bella Union. Pictured is the Chocolate Decadence. It's like having a fudgy brownie. Yum! Not pictured (because it was awesome and I ate it so quickly) is the California Street Calamari Sandwich. Mum had one as well, but requested sourdough bread. 

After lunch my aunt took us to a little store I hadn't been to before. Pickety Place is one of the most fun little shops I'd been to in a long time. It was filled with all sorts of old knick knacks, but nothing really junky. And all the things I was interested in were priced well.

My aunt treated me to a little plate that had all the animals from the Chinese Zodiac around the edge. I bought myself a set of scrimshaw salt and pepper shakers. Don't ask me why, but I've been wanting a little scrimshawed something for awhile. I just think it's really neat.

Before we had left, I helped my uncle make a loaf of beer bread. So when we got home, there was a really yummy loaf of bread to be eaten. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mission Accomplished

Whew! I've been gone for a whole week from this blog. But I assure you it was for the best reason. Remember the cardigan I made for my Oma? Well, instead of mailing it, I decided that I would travel up to Oregon and hand deliver it. It was a surprise delivery. Guess who loves her new cardigan.

And it fits my Oma so well! The neck is the right fit, the sleeves end in the right spot. She can layer another sweater under the cardigan if she wants. I'm just so happy to see her in it. Oma told me that it will be her Thursday sweater. On Thursdays she goes out to the shops with my Aunt. She'd been a little sad to not have  something nice to wear outside of the house. But now she has a cute little cardi.

The trip up was pretty uneventful. Mum and I did stop at a rest stop that we don't normally stop at. I'm not sure I'd like to stop there again. I'm pretty impressed with the snake drawing though. The signs were all over. I wonder how many people were bitten before they were posted.

There was a really neat map sculpture at the rest stop. This stop is a little south of Redding.

Normally we don't go up to Oregon in winter. The pass near Ashland is frequently icy and we don't have chains. But it was pretty mild last week. I did enjoy seeing the winter light by Mt. Shasta. This picture was taken at the rest stops just north of Weed. We stop at a lot of rest stops...

I plan on posting a few more bits and pieces of the trip this week. Then back to knitting!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Beer + Yarn = 2 New Projects

Apparently I'm a bit knitting repressed. I usually only have 3 wips (works in progress) going on at a time. Well, last night while watching From Prada to Nada and drinking a beer I felt the need to cast on for not one, but two new projects! The first is a prototype for a color work design. I thought it would be easier to figure out the sizing before going crazy with color. This will eventually be gifted to a buddy I've know for over a decade. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepard Worsted in the color way Zombie BBQ.

After knitting on the prototype for a bit, I went ahead and cast on for my Druid Mittens. I've been dying to make these for several years. I've had the yarn and pattern since 2010. It took me awhile to feel comfortable with size 0 needles. And even though I know I'll never get gauge, I have come up with a crazy brilliant solution. After realizing that taking stitches out of the pattern would not keep the mittens proportional, I have decided to knit them, then shrink them a bit in the dryer. Does this have the potential for catastrophically disappointing failure? Yes. Am I going to do it anyways? Yes. I figure if things go really wrong, I either have to find someone with bigger (or smaller depending on how this goes) hands to gift them to.

I did end up ripping out the toe of my Boromir sock and lengthen it. I still have the second sock to do. But the socks require the same needles that I'm doing the mittens on. I figured that it is sock weather longer than it is mitten weather, so these will be put on hold for a little bit.
And for those of you interested, Claire has released her Fellowship of the Socks ebook. Her designs are really pretty. Although the Boromirs are my favorite, I may have to make the Samwise and Gimli socks as well.

My Rocky Coast cardi is also coming along nicely. I finished up the body two nights ago while watching A Long Walk Home and One Crazy Summer.

Thanks again to my brother for the pictures. Though I'm not putting up the picture that he said made me look like a turtle. I kinda did look like a turtle.

I actually have 5 wips going on right now. There is still the pattern for my book that is being worked on. It should be good car knitting. And all going well, I'll be delivering the cardigan to my Oma tomorrow. She doesn't know this yet.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Annual Goal List: 2011-2012 Edition

2011 was a year of new life direction and foundation building. I think that 2012 will be the year of building on the foundation of all the work I did in 2011.
Yesterday I did my knitting recap, today will be the Life recap.

I left my job at the wool mill mid-January and spent 6 months working on pattern designs before starting a new job at my local yarn shop.

I made wine for the fourth year in a row.

I was in charge of crafts at two weeks of camp. I came up with the craft program and put together everything for 180 kids. That's 5 days of different projects plus a service project craft. It was a big job, but worth every minute. (even if I whined a bit while doing the actually grunt work)

Here is a recap of last years goals.
Goals for 2011:
1. Spin enough yarn for a large project. (Sweater or Blanket) Then complete said project.
Status: Incomplete. But my life goals shifted a bit, so I forgive myself. I spent my time designing instead. But I still have some yarn spun up for that big project.
2. In the same vein, knit a sweater. I've tried multiple times, but I've never actually completed a sweater.
Status: Complete. I've actually knit three sweaters this year and am working on a fourth. Sweater knitting has become much less intimidating.
3. Visit the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Status: Changed. I went to Yosemite instead. I'd still like to visit Bonneville sometime, though.
4. Make another music video.
Status: Semi-complete. I have done most of the story boarding for the video done and the concept is pretty solid. I think this would move along a bit if I had an assistant to help me test out the lighting portion of my idea.
5. Own only one carload of stuff.
Status: A work in progress. Although I'm far from having only a carload of things, I did some serious downsizing. Most of the things I have I use regularly. And I'm still getting rid of things as I realize I'm not using them.
6. Make a miniature garden or terrarium.
Status: Incomplete. I never got to it and don't think I will. I'm ok with that.

Normally I'd be a bit miffed at myself for seeing all those incomplete goals, but some of the things I did in their place more than made up for it. I went to Yosemite instead of the Bonneville Salt Flats and I spent time designing knits instead of spinning yarn for a blanket. So even though some of my goals shifted, I still plan on making a goal list for 2012. Plus it's fun to see what happens and what doesn't.

Goals for 2012:
1. Finish designing and knitting the rest of the knits for my book. Figure out the next step in putting everything together.
2. Road trip somewhere. I'd like it if it was the southwest road trip I've been wanting to do, but anything would be fine.
3. Be able to bike up Highway 9 to Santa Cruz. I've seen serious bikers in lycra clothes and carbon fiber bikes going up there. I want to take my t-shirt wearing, commuter-bike riding butt up that way.
4. Knit a pair of sock with my own hand spun yarn.
5. Finally put up my daily comic site.
6. And one rollover from last year's list: Make that music video. Seriously.

What kinds of goals are you guys making? If you have a blog post about your goals, feel free to link me to that as well. I find people's goals really inspiring.

Also, I'd like to thank everyone who reads my blog and those who comment. You have no idea how much it means to me. Your interest in my little corner of the internet validates me.
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