Monday, July 30, 2012

Cloud Tsunami

I spent some time last week with my Mum scoping out the next place to take more pictures for The Book. This time around we spent some time on a pier looking for good lighting and angles. It was an amazing evening. A wall of fog was rolling in and it looked like a tsunami coming at us.

Sea lions were making a real ruckus under the pier. I lamented the fact that the lens I had on my camera is a prime lens and I couldn't get a closer picture of this guy. He only came up for a brief moment before sinking back into the murky water.

We were pretty hungry, so eating at a restaurant located near the end of the pier was a must. I hadn't had clam chowder in a long while, so this was just heavenly. While eating, there was reminiscing that when I was younger I hated clam chowder. 

There were a fair number of pigeons hanging out and I noted that their presence really inspired quick table busing. I caught a picture of this guy right before he stretched out his wings.

The night was cool and windy and the clouds were sprays of ice in the sky. As we headed back home the moon winked down on us.

Picture taking is still going fairly smoothly. I'm rapidly re-knitting a new version of one of the designs before tackling design #9. There are massive improvements being made in the knit and the instructions.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Toad Tunnel

This last week has been a whirlwind of photo shoots for The Book. I can't show anything yet, but the pictures are coming out great. I popped up to Davis for two of the shoots I needed, but while I was there I made a point to see the Toad Tunnel

Toad Hollow was a really expensive project to give toads a way to cross a street. And rumor has it the toads still cross over the street and get squished.

But there are a few cute houses right by the hole. It was a fun way to spend a few minutes in Davis.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Yarn Harlot Day

After being really, really good about not buying yarn, (not counting the skein I had to get for The Book) I broke down. It's hardly my fault. I was invited to go to Oakland for a knit event and we hit up some yarn shops. First up was Article Pract. I really like this shop. There was a good color selection in each brand. And there were a fair number of brands represented too.

I finally won the right to call myself a yarn enabler after getting Carol (on the right) to buy yarn. She was resisting pretty well, but I got her to buy a book and a bunch of skeins of Pigeonroof Studios. Krista also fell victim to Pigeonroof as you can see below. I resisted, but I'm still thinking about those skeins in the colorway "Greenstone." If only it looked better with my skin tone.

I bought the new Knitscene, Norah Gaughan #7, a skein of Koigu KPM in Prince, Tosh sock in Edison Bulb, and Curious Creek Fibers Wasonga in Emerald City. Now comes everyone's favorite part, the rationalization for each purchase. I bought the magazine because it's my kryptonite. I ought to just get a subscription. The book I bought because it's pretty and has great photography examples. (I also got Krista and Carol to buy a copy. Does that make me a book enabler as well?) I tried to resist the Koigu, but I've never used it before. The electric purple is pretty neat, but I couldn't leave it behind once I saw that it was named "Prince." I've been lusting after Tosh's Edison Bulb for awhile. Don't know why. But it looked like a good match for the Koigu. I think I'll make myself another pair of Velomeisters with the Koigu and Tosh. The skein in Emerald City is for a project my Mum requested right before I left for the shop. I might have been able to resist everything if I hadn't been looking for skein for that project. (Who am I kidding. I might have bought more if there wasn't a project to match yarn to.)

And now I reveal the true purpose of our trip. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka the Yarn Harlot was giving a talk at A Verb For Keeping Warm entitled "This Is Your Brain On Knitting."
In the picture you can see that I'm not really smiling. I'm actually really happy to be there, but I stopped smiling at the exact moment Krista took the picture. Just imagine that I have a huge grin on my face, because I totally did before and after the picture was taken. Do you see the sock Stephanie is holding? It's mine. And it's a copy of the any gauge ribbed sock pattern I'm working on. I really appreciated how Stephanie took her time talking to each knitter even though there was a huge line. Plus she liked my sweater, so there is that. (The pattern is another one that I'm working on. It needs to be graded still.)

She signed a copy of her book for me too. 

Thanks to Carol and Krista for the wonderful day. And to Stephanie for such an entertaining talk. I learned a bunch about how my brain works and am even more motivated to continue knitting. It really does keep you calm. If you ever see that Stephanie is giving the "This Is Your Brain On Knitting" talk near you, go to it. It is thoroughly entertaining and enlightening.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Camp Retrospective

Just popping in to share a few things from camp. I was so busy running around and working that I only took three pictures. And two of them were of the same thing.
The belt making went great. I was really impressed how well everyone did. I think they were all surprised with how well the belts came out too.

Here's an in-progress belt. It was having its edges smoothed and still needed the final glossy coat.

Not pictured (but I wish it had been) was the counselor hunt. All the counselors hid around camp and the kids ran around trying to find them. I'm particularly proud of the spot I found. No one found me, but quite a few kids touched me without knowing it. (shoes and tummy) I won't reveal the spot in case I even need to use it again. It was surprising that only half the counselors were found. The rules were fairly restrictive in where we could hide, but it turns out high school kids aren't that thorough in their searching. They only think they are.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Leather Belt

Hey everyone, I'll be leaving for camp in two days. But before I go, I wanted to share one of the projects we'll be doing: making a belt. So here's a little how-to if you've ever wanted to make one. Here's a bunch of links if you want to make the same belt I did. You'll need a 1 1/4 inch belt blank, a belt keeper and buckle that is the same width as your blank, mallet, pounding surface, at least one stamp (I used a rope stamp), a 5/32 inch hole punch, dye, ecoflo super shene to seal the leather, some sort of applicator like a sponge, edge slicker, a spray bottle, some sort of blade for cutting the belt to size, and ruler.

Start off by putting on the belt blank. You need to bend the riveted end together because that is where the belt buckle will be. It does not count towards your total length. You will be cutting the belt end so that you have 4 1/2 inches of overlap. Mark the back with a pencil. And of course, measure twice, cut once.

Use your cutting tool and ruler to cut the end of the belt. Once you cut your belt end, you can choose to shape the end. My last belt was rounded, but I decided to have a more angular end this time around. Don't throw out the excess leather.

You can use it to practice your design. It took me a few days to decide on a design, but let's face it, how could I not do a knit stitch themed belt. I did a few combinations of knits and purls, but ultimately decided on just knit stitches. For those of you who are not familiar with belt stamping, you need to wet the front and back of the leather using your spray bottle. The leather should not be dripping water when you hammer your design into the leather.

The holes can be put in before or after stamping the belt. If you are doing an all-over design, put the holes in after stamping. If you plan on having the design not touch the holes, put the holes in first. 
I made a guide to help since I'll be doing this project with a bunch of kids, but it isn't necessary. The first hole should be put in 4 inches from the end. The remaining holes should be punched in at 3/4 inch intervals. My last belt had 5 holes, this one has 6. It's really up to you. The craftool in the image just needs one or two whacks to get it through the belt. I put some scrap leather behind the belt so that I wouldn't dull the tool on the quartz surface.

Once the water has dried, you are ready to dye the belt. This step is optional, but I wanted this belt to match my black work pants. (So I'll have a knit themed belt as I work at the yarn shop.) If you dye your belt, putting on clothing you don't care about would be a good plan.
There are specific instructions on the bottle. You shouldn't let the dye touch your hands. I used a plastic bag to hold the belt and belt keeper. Don't forget to dye the keeper! Unless you are going for the mismatched belt look.
Let the dye dry before continuing to the next step. I let it sit overnight to be sure it was dry.

Next up you'll use the eco flo finish to give the belt a nice sheen and help protect it a bit. Just wipe it over the top of the belt and let it dry. I tend to do this on hotter days, so I have found that it dries really fast. But if it is cold wet day, you might need to let it dry overnight.

This step is optional, but I think it makes the belt look nice. You can use an edge slicker to make the edges nice and rounded. I've used bees wax in the past, which also worked well.

And lastly, you put in the belt keeper and buckle. This belt blank has snaps, so I just snapped it together. If you don't have snaps, you can rivet the belt together. Congrats! You now have a belt! It will feel stiff, but will loosen up with wear. I have a belt I made 6-7 years ago and have worn daily and it is still in great shape.

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's Your Mountain

I've been struggling with a having a strong direction recently. It's rather tough to have several large projects going that can't be shared. It's difficult to keep working, not knowing if anything will pay off. But I watched a video of a commencement speech that Neil Gaiman gave, and I think I'm finally finding my way. It's worth watching. I think it might have been the best 20 minutes I've spent in a really, really long time.

I've been afraid to decided what my "mountain" is. Even though I've spent my whole life hearing that life is just a series of careers, choosing a direction has become paralyzing. When I choose to do something, I go full force into it. I'll exhaust myself for the sake of a goal. What stops me from even forming a goal is, what if I find that I don't like what I've chosen. It finally has hit me that not choosing a direction means that I'm simply not going anywhere. I might as well choose a "wrong" direction than none at all. So even though I've spent the last year designing patterns, I don't think I've really put my heart into it. Not fully at least. It was something to do until I figured something else out. Well, I'm choosing pattern writing, even if it isn't a permanent career. I'm giving myself permission to enjoy myself more. I'm giving myself permission to go out and have fun on occasion even if it required money. (I'm a saver and will spend time at home in favor of not spending money. But it's cut into life experiences. And as my Mum said, "What's the point of having money if you aren't going to use it.") And finally I'm giving myself permission to be uncomfortable. All my actions seem to be geared to keeping myself comfortable. But what's the point of living if you aren't going to get dirty at times.

What is your mountain?
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