Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blocking With Nemo

I finished up knitting my Deep Sea Wanderer a few days ago, but I didn't get to blocking it until just yesterday. It's amazing what a good blocking can do to a project. Stitches relax and the project becomes what it was meant to be. To prove it, here is a blocked and unblocked Deep Sea Wanderer. 

There are different blocking methods for different projects. But for this one, I just soaked it in the sink, pushed the water back out, then lay it outside. Sometimes I'll pin the project, but for this one I just smoothed out the infinity scarf with my hands. I've found that I'll often end up with a crease in my projects. What I do to prevent it is to rotate the project periodically while it is drying. A quarter to half turn will do it.

Tada! A finished infinity scarf. It's hard to believe that the first picture in this post is of the same two scarves.

I just have to wait for it to get cold enough to wear it. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Año Nuevo

On Wednesday Mum and I decided to get out of the house and go to Año Nuevo State Park. It was a beautiful day. One of the docents told us that every day she had been out there, since April, had been cold and windy. I like to think that good weather follows me. I hope I'm not jinxing myself.

There is a large colony of Elephant Seals that live at the park. It's a bit of a trek through the sand dunes to get to the area where the seals are, but it is worth it. (It's also worth doing the walk in sandals, unless of course you enjoy pouring half the beach out of your shoes when you are done.)
While we were watching these guys, there were a whole bunch of them flipping sand onto themselves.

I also noticed a pattern in how they itched themselves. Every time any of them had an itch, they would first lift their flipper into the air, where it would stand for a little while. Then they would do the Queen's wave, followed by a good scratch.

But my favorite bit was seeing their tracks. It kind of looked like giant lizard tracks.

Right now there are only juvenile seals out there. But come winter, the large males (with giant, silly noses) will be out there battling for a harem of ladies. I'm hoping we can go out and watch.
Bonus: Elephant Seals fast while they are on land, so they don't foul up their living area. They smell a-ok. The California Seal Lions are another story....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Sock That Refused To Be Knit

So I've been working on the same sock since Sept 22nd. I've knit on it nearly every day and it still isn't a sock. The saga of the Pomatomus sock began innocently enough. I saw that Alicia was destashing yarn, so I got a skein of Socks That Rock Medium Weight in Tlingit from her. I've desired this color for some time and I liked Elfielori's project that I'd seen done with it. The sock was 72 stitches, and I already knew I'd be modifying it down to a 60 stitch. No problem. But then I got fancy...
I decided to do 2.5 repeats of the pattern down the leg. Once I got to the foot, I'd figure how to proceed. Except I couldn't figure it out. I puzzled and puzzled... and then I noticed a different problem. My decreases had been k2tog. They SHOULD have been k2tog tbl. Three little letters I didn't read. It bothered me, so I ripped back to the cuff. (Note, in the picture there is no heel. I had put the heel in and most of the gusset before discovering the additional tbl problem.)

Try #2. I decided not to get fancy, so I did the 3 full repeats of the pattern down the leg, turned the heel, started the gusset... and it was too tight. So I ripped out the gusset, extended the heel, put in the gusset again.... and although the gusset now fit, I realized that the rest of the sock was a little tight. And by "a little tight" I mean that I was nearly ripping the sock in order to get my foot in it. Once it was in, it fit. I then decided that the sock was too tall and I didn't really like how the yarn pooled.... so RIP.

Try #3. I went up a needle size and I'm only doing two repeats of the pattern down the leg. I like how the colors are lining up now.

Mum called me a bulldog for continuing on with this sock. I'm hoping that means that I'm persistent. Anyways, this sock is a prime example of why I don't do 2-at-a-time socks. Hopefully I'll have at least one sock to show for Soctober.

Friday, October 11, 2013

How To Make Bobbles More Bobble-y

The KAL for the Deep Sea Wanderer is moving along quite well, so I thought it would be a good time to explain how to make the bobbles that show up in the pattern look more bobble-y. First off, here is what the bobbles look like as knitted. (And unblocked) The bobbles can be seen, but they are nearly flush to the rest of the fabric.

The first way of fixing a bobble is the Yank Method. Slide your needle behind the whole bobble and give a good yank forward. It certainly helps, and it pretty quick to perform, but the bobbles can still slide back.

The problem is that when making the bobble, the stitch that was knitted just before making the bobble becomes loose. (The stitch is to the immediate right of the bobble.) You can see how loose this stitch is in the picture. As a result, the bobble can move to the back of the project rather than lay nicely on the top of the project. There is a solution, although it is a little tedious.

Note: For this project, bobbles are made in three rows. This will be referred to in the following method.
The second method is the Redistribution Method. Rather than just yank the bobble forward, the yarn in the loose stitch is redistributed into the bobble. First I give the bottom right stitch of the bobble a good yank. The goal is to have that loose stitch to the right of the bobble be the same size as the stitches surrounding it.

Next I pull the excess yarn all the way across the first row of the bobble. Once this is done, you'll have a large loop of yarn on the bottom left of the bobble. And where does all that excess yarn go? I like to distribute it all along the second row in the bobble. I slowly pull the yarn into each of the stitches of the second row of the bobble, which makes the stitches in the second row a bit bigger. If I'm having trouble getting the stitches in the second row to look nice, I might pull some of the excess yarn into the first stitch of the third row.

This takes some time since there are quite a few bobbles in this infinity scarf. But I really like the result. The bobble remains on the front side of the scarf and looks "bobble-y"

Here is a comparison of each technique:
1. The Redistribution Method
2. The Yank Method
3. Left As Knitted

I hope that helps you guys on your bobble adventures. If anyone has another method that you find helpful, feel free to share it in the comments.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Yarn Crawl Of Doooooom

A bunch of us celebrated being done with various projects at the end of August. The only way to truly celebrate when you are a knitter is to go on a yarn crawl. (This might have become some sort of tradition. Carol, Krista, and I did a similar yarn crawl last year when we saw the Yarn Harlot.)
The first stop was K2TOG in Albany. Carol found a pair skeins that would help her finish up a sweater. Krista and I got yarn for no other reason than "because we liked it" and Tyler managed to resist, despite my best efforts to enable. Apparently he needed to save himself for our next stop....

Which was A Verb For Keeping Warm. Tyler had talked about Verb so often that we all thought that he had been there many, many times. Turns out it was his first visit. He almost left with nothing again, but I turned on my super powers of persuasion and he left with a sweater's amount of Shelter. HA! Carol also left with a sweater's amount (Tosh DK). However, Carol is really into three color Brioche at the moment, so her sweater's amount could have made 2-3 sweaters. And Krista got some fiber to spin (camel and silk, I think) and a skein of Verb's house yarn. I got off relatively light. I only bought 2 skeins of Tosh DK in Cousteau to make another Deep Sea Wanderer.

After Verb, we went to lunch at a place down the street from Article Pract. The place kind of reminded me of "The Soup Nazi" episode of Seinfeld. You could order one of two things and the line was out the door and down the street. The chicken sandwich was worth it though.
Promptly after lunch we explored Article Pract. Once again Tyler got off scott free, but not before he found me some yarn that perfectly matched my loud biking shoes. Both Carol and Krista bought some Habu. 
Krista, Article Pract, and I have an interesting relationship. Krista has only been to Article Pract two times, but has four reciepts. Both times, I have been there with her and managed to tempt her enough into going back to the counter to buy more things. This time she liked the skein of Sweet Georgia I was holding. I was kind enough to find another skein for her.
Last year we did a silly picture. It has become a kind of tradition.

We stopped at Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles. There were so many books! My favorite were the Japanese Stitch Dictionaries. Only Krista fell down. But Carol has been working hard to get everyone to buy a copy of Knitting Brioche. So far, almost everyone has. Everyone except me... for now. 

So here is the Haul. A skein of Cascade 220 fingering in Mossy Rock and two skeins balls of Crystal Palace's Sausalito in Big Sur from K2TOG. (I'll admit it. I bought the two balls because they were called Big Sur. I almost got Half Moon Bay too, but managed to resist.) Then two skeins of Tosh DK in Cousteau from A Verb For Keeping Warm. From Article PRact I got two skeins of Alchemy's Juniper in the colors Tangerine and Blue Jay Way. I also ended up with two skeins of Sweet Georgia's Tough Love Sock in the colors Summer Skin and Lakeshore Drive.

I'm proud to say that I've already knit up the Alchemy and have started in on the Tosh DK. I'm also pleased to say that I have managed to knit up all the yarn I collected on last year's yarn crawl. Go me!

In other news, everyone but Carol "fell down" and bought more yarn within a week of the crawl. It took Carol two weeks to fall down, but only because she was really busy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Deep Sea Wanderer Cast On

Today is cast on day for the Deep Sea Wanderer KAL. (KnitALong for the muggles out there.) Most of the action will be happening on the KAL thread on the Bear Ears ravelry group. But I wanted to share some tips over here too.

The recommended yarn for this pattern is Tosh DK. Tosh is a hand dyed yarn, which means that different skeins will often have some variation between them. As a result, sometime when switching from one skein to another, there will be a line, showing where the switch happened. There are two main ways to combat "The Line." The first way is blending.
To blend the yarn, you alternate skeins. For the sleeve below, I was knitting in the round. After each round, I switched between each skein. And to keep things uniform, I was careful to twist the two skeins the same direction each time I switched between the skeins. If you are knitting an item flat, you would typically switch skeins after every two rows, carrying the yarn up one side of the project.
The second method of hiding the difference in skeins is to be strategic in where you change skeins. For the sleeve, I didn't want to blend the yarn through the cuff, so I chose to knit the cuff using just one of the skeins. The cuff is darker and a little more blue, but it looks more natural in its placement.

For my Deep Sea Wanderer, I plan on using the second method: I'll be strategic in where my yarn changes happen. As you can see, one skein of Cousteau is a little lighter than the other. (I pencilled in which was which so I wouldn't mix it up later on.) Since the eye typically is drawn to lighter colors, I'll be using the lighter skein in the main portion of the pattern. So the order will be Chart 1: darker skein, Chart 2: lighter skein, Chart 3: darker skein. All going well, the difference in color will be unnoticeable.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day At The Monterey Bay Aquarium

In late August, Rachael and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I hadn't been in nearly 10 years and there was a seahorse exhibit that was nearly over. I didn't know that there were so many kinds of seahorses. Our favorite one was the Leafy Seadragon. It honestly looked like kelp, especially when it had it's head pointing downward. Not to mention, it was large. I'd only ever seen small seahorses, but this guy was close to a foot long.

There was a baby Loggerhead Turtle. We didn't realize until seeing this guy that the displays have two-way glass. When the various creatures are looking at you, they are really looking at their own reflection.

The aquarium does a fair amount of rescue and rehabilitation. In the aviary, there are a number of birds with broken winds or hurt legs. Birds that can be released eventually are. We learned from one of the workers that most of the birds here no longer can fly, but it's because they are fed so well that they are too fat to take flight.

Some of the displays can make you feel quite small. This is a school of anchovies. (I'm pretty sure these were the anchovies.)

And it is amazing how close you can get to some of the different creatures. This guy is a Leopard Shark. He kept circling the tank. I'd never seen a shark with eyes like his.

But my favorite thing to look at is the jellyfish display. It always has, and it probably always will be. I took a gazillion pictures, but I'll not overwhelm you guys with them all.
My favorite David Attenborough documentary is the The Blue Planet: The Deep. I'm pretty sure this guy shows up in it. (I think it is a ctenophore.) It doesn't actually shine light. It has cilia that reflects light.

Near the display was a set of lamps that were made to look like moon jellyfish. When I showed Mum this picture, she thought they were really jellyfish. I wish I could have a lamp like this in my room.

Especially because Moon Jellyfish are my personal favorite jellyfish.
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