Friday, January 27, 2017

On The Hoop

After my last post, I still tried to put off starting my lavender sachet project. Of course because I had said I would stitch at least one stitch, I was too embarrassed not to go through with it. So I stitched a stitch and it was ugly. Then I stitched another stitch: still ugly. I stitched a bunch more stitches before pulling them all out and trying again. My second try went much better. I stitched a smaller stitch and it was less ugly. Then I stitched another stitch and it looked nice too. Eventually I hit a rhythm and was sad to put the fabric down at bedtime. I finished up the next day, broke out the sewing machine, and voila! I now have a completed lavender sachet. The pattern has been stitched on both sides, so there is no wrong side.
This sachet has a quarter cup of lavender in it.

I've already started my second project. This project also suffered from some ugly stitches that I pulled out before getting a size I liked better.
With knitting a WIP is "on the needles." Is an embroidery project WIP called "on the hoop?"

While I was getting my pictures together for today's post, Scooter came out and joined me. I snapped a few pictures of him too, but he wouldn't make any eye contact with the camera today. I'm happy to report that since his surgery to remove fatty tumors back in November, he has fully recovered and has so much more energy that he previously had. It's always a pleasure to see him bound around joyfully.
He looks grumpy, but he was quite happy while he was following me around.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Breaking Down A Quilt One Lavender Sachet At A Time

One of the goals I have this year is to work on my quilt of the US to display my patches on. (It's goal #2 on this year's list.) But if I'm honest, I've had the supplies for this project for a year now and it has been sitting. I thought it was sitting because I didn't have time for it, but now I realize it's because I am intimidated by it. It is too big a project and I have too little knowledge. I need to break this project down into smaller pieces, and I've decided to do that by first working on a small embroidery project for practice. I was given loose lavender for Christmas from my in-laws, so I'm going to make little lavender sachets. To accomplish this goal, I've done some prep. So far I've bought some books on embroidery.

I've gotten fabric, needles, scissors, a disappearing ink pen, and a hoop (that isn't pictured).

I've bought my thread, wound it, and labeled the colors on the bobbins.

I've sketched some ideas out.

And because I'm so thorough, I've even drafted out patterns for the sachets: one with seam allowances and one without.
I plan to sew french seams on the sachets since I don't have a serger.

I've done all of these steps to help break down the process.... but I'm still intimidated. It's silly, really, but my perfectionistic tendencies have gotten the better of me this time. It's clear that I just need to jump in and just start. Today is the day. I will stitch at least 1 stitch. Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Very Kiwi Christmas

I might have missed my Christmas deadline with these socks... luckily Christmas comes around every year. I really enjoyed knitting this pair. The pattern, Geek Socks, by Wei Siew is completely potato chip knitting. I just had to have another round, another stripe, another another another. 

I did make an edit to the pattern: I knit heel flaps rather than an afterthought heel as recommended in the pattern. I have gotten reasonably good at getting my stripes to look nice in heel flaps, so I went for it. I only had to rip once because I decided I didn't want the red stripe surrounding the heel.

This pair is so cozy, too! I bought Stray Cat Sock's Essential Deluxe base, which is a 80/10/10 Merino/Cashmere/Nylon base. And I'm just in love with the Kiwi Christmas color way. It reminds me of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

I'm pleased to report that I was able to enable friends at knit night. When I had ordered all my yarn, I'd offered to tack on anyone else's order to help save on shipping from New Zealand. No one took me up on it. But after I started knitting these socks... well. I'm pretty sure Stray Cat won't be going out of business any time soon.

I'm not the only one to have finished up some knitting. Connor knit me a pair of Lambing Mitts out of Stansborough's Mithril (also a New Zealand yarn) in the Kokako color way. 

When he knit himself a pair, he left out the extra bit that can fold up over the hands. I insisted on having that part added.

Connor even joined me in watching Netflix while knitting. We watched Versailles while he knit the second mitt and it ended up too small! The plot was pretty stressful at times; he must have been knitting much tighter. Connor ripped it out and knit a third one and that one fit just fine.

So now I have warm hands and feet. It's been pretty cold, so I'm sure they are both going to get lots of use.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pinnacles National Park

This past weekend, Connor and I went to Pinnacles National Park. Going to a new national park is on my goal list for this year, but if you've been following this blog long enough, you'll know that I've been before, so that goal hasn't been crossed off just yet. Connor, however, hadn't been before. I was excited to share this park with him.

I haven't been on a challenging hike since July... or any hike really since then. (I briefly felt well enough to go up Sierra Buttes back in July.) But after walking 7 flat miles (or 11k) in a day last week, I was feeling like I might be up for the 9.2 mile (15k) hike up, down, and around the mountain. 
Halfway up the mountain, we bumped into a pair of hikers that started when we did, but were a little faster. We took each other's pictures.

We took our time as we climbed up and up and up. I was huffing and puffing the whole way. Connor kindly reminded me that most people would be breathing hard on the trail we were on. Eventually we made it to the top, where we had lunch.
I can see the top!

One of the main reasons to come to the Pinnacles other than for the rock formations is to see the California Condors. There were once 27 left, but now there are many more that survive in three different locations; the Pinnacles being one of those. As we ate lunch and enjoyed watching the condors, the pair of hikers that had taken our picture earlier in the hike joined us. We had a great chat. For the rest of the day, we would sometimes see each other on the trail and talk a bit before one group out paced the other.
The California Condor has a 9.5 foot (3m) wingspan

I'm really proud to have done the entire hike without too much trouble. I feel like I've graduated from being too sick to leave the couch to finally being able to hike the way I used to. Also, in the end, we beat that pair of hikers who had been ahead of us at the beginning of the day.

Connor and I added a new patch to our collection, too! We picked up this patch at the visitor center at the east entrance. I've added a "Pinnacles National Park" entry on the souvenir patch map for those who may want to find one of their own.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Knitter May Safely Knit

Hello friends. I am in a much better knitting mood than when we last talked about my knitted socks. Last time, all my socks decided to mutiny. After several weeks of battle and many more rippings, I now have two pairs of socks that are willing to be worn. First off, my Sheep May Safely Graze socks now have brand new heels.
 The previous heels wore out after wearing the socks twice. After repairing them, they didn't even survive another day out. New heels were needed.

I ended up using two sets of circular needles to get the job done. The new heels were knit out of Baah La Jolla! in the La Perla color way. I'm happy to have these socks back in my sock drawer.

The other pair of socks that has finally decided to behave are my Concrete and Tulip socks. 

I really appreciate everyone on instagram who gave me great advice on how to keep my socks up. I chose to rip back the socks past the ribbing, reknit everything in stockinette, then add some new yarn (Anzula Squishy) for the hem. I ran out of grey as well, so I used Anzula Squishy in Charcoal to turn the hem and Anzula Squishy in Boysenberry to make the insides more cheerful. The Charcoal was used again for sewing the hem down.

It was tough figuring out what elastic to use. Did you know that there are a bunch of different kinds? I didn't. After stretching just about every type and size, I selected a 3/4 inch braided (not knit or woven) elastic in black to get the job done. To test out how tight I might need it, I cut a length, safety pinned it together, then put it over the sock and wore it around. I even went on an hour walk like this, every once in awhile pulling my pant leg up to adjust the elastic. I felt a little dorky when people passed by as I was safety pinning away. To get though it, I pretended to be a designer for a high end fashion house. 

I also need to give credit where credit is due. Tech Knitting's articles on creating a hem with elastic and how to sew a hem down were invaluable for finishing these socks. 

After all these knitting successes, I am feeling quite good about my next set of knits. Connor and I even finished a project each, but I'll save that for another day.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Souvenir Patch Map

A little over a week into the new year and I'm pleased to say that I have completed one goal for the year: I've made a map that shows where each patch was bought.

Sometimes I was able to find multiple patches at one location. To accommodate that, each point's title reflects what patches were bought and includes an image of all the patches that were found in that location. For example, I bought the Big Cypress and Everglades patches at the same location, so they share a pin, a title, and a photo. Each pin also includes a little extra information if the patch wasn't easy to find at said location. (Las Vegas, I'm looking at you.)

There is now a little button on the side of the blog to help you guys go directly to the patch map. 

Now the big question is, which place should I try to get a patch from next? Any suggestions?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Annual Goal List 2016-2017 Edition

2016 was a tough one. I got pretty sick early in the year with a gastrointestinal ailment and it lasted all the way until the end. (I'm great deal better now. Not 100% yet, but getting much closer.) During my illness, I wasn't able to be there for a lifelong friend. She needed more than I could give. After talking to many different people who are wiser than myself, I was given the same advice: focus on my marriage and health; trying to continue the friendship wasn't going to be healthy for me anymore. It was hard, but ultimately I did end the friendship. It still hurts.

Despite the difficulties, there were times where I was a bit more stable. So here are the highlights.

We were able to travel a surprising amount. I was able to go to Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Alabama Hills, Death Valley, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, we had a week with my family in the Plumas Eureka area, and Connor and I went to Kentucky together for his best friend's wedding. Connor also got to add Japan to his list. I was supposed to go, but wasn't well enough. I'm still jealous. We are now saving up to make it there together.
The Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Alabama Hills, Death Valley trip with Joe. See Pt. 1, Pt. 2, and Pt. 3 

I taught my parents to knit. They wanted to learn how. They didn't tell me it was because they had signed up for Cat Bordhi's knitting retreat in the San Juan Islands. Mum had wanted to go to the San Juan Islands for as long as I can remember. After I went to the retreat and made it sound like so much fun, she wanted to go to it too... despite not being a knitter. Well, they both knit now. My brother (who doesn't knit... yet) says that I've made my own knitting group. Some nights Connor, Mum, Dad, and I knit together.
I am Dr. Knit-entstein and these are my creations

I was able to reconnect with some friends, including my friend Jackie. She moved to the area and we have had fun adventures and good talks together.
We were searching for the proper Ernie pumpkin

I don't have a picture of this highlight, but I also really enjoyed going to see Flight of the Conchords in concert. I rarely go see bands live anymore, it was a real treat.

And now for the assessment of last year's goals:

Goals for 2016:
1. Work on a menswear pattern collection. Ideally it will have two garments and three accessories. I've been interested in developing a menswear collection for awhile now, but before Connor entered into my life, it was hard to motivate myself to knit garments for someone who wasn't me.
Status: Incomplete. I have sketched out ideas and acquired yarn for this project, but it's on the back burner at the moment. I might go back to it one day.
2. Put up a daily comic site. This was a goal in 2011, which changed in 2012 because I stopped doing the comic. But I'm drawing the comic again... so it's a goal again.
Status: Ongoing... perhaps forever. Connor and I worked on putting together a daily comic site. It is complete enough for me to start scanning and posting comics. I'm just nervous about putting it out there.
3. Learn to weave. I've alternated between being really interested in trying out weaving and having no interest at all. At the moment, I know I have yarns that would look far better woven, so I'm interested again. And I have a buddy who is going to loan me a small loom so I can see if I like it.
Status: Working on it. I have borrowed a loom (for most of the year now... how embarrassing). I bought a book on how to use the loom. I even know what yarn I'm going to use first! I just need to carve out some time and mind share for this project.
4. Design a sweater with set in sleeves. I think doing the math for different set in sleeve sizes is rather intimidating, which is precisely why I must try.
Status: Still on my mind. I've got the yarn and the idea for the sweater. Other knitting obligations got in the way. But I'm not giving up on this one.
5. Go somewhere I haven't been before. This year, our current vacation plans are to places I've been to, but want to share with Connor. I hope that we can throw in one that I haven't done yet.
Status: Complete! This was the only goal I managed to do. We went to two places I'd never been: the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. I wasn't 100% during both trips... but I'm glad I went.
6. I'm adding a bonus goal this year: Work on the Knitting Photography Series again. I worked on it in 2013, but stopped when I put my energies towards finishing writing Lit Knits instead. I've wanted to work on it, but just didn't put time aside. I think I'd like to give it a go again.
Status: Incomplete. This just ended up not being on my radar this year. I spent my time on other creative pursuits instead.

I'm just going to have to give myself a lot of forgiveness on this list. I was able to start several of the goals, but my energies had to be put in other areas. I feel pretty confidant that some of them, like the weaving, will still get worked on.

I'm a lot healthier than I had been all year, but I'm going to keep this year's goals a little smaller. I think the following is achievable.

Goals for 2017:
1. Make a google map to share that has the locations of where I've found my travel patches. I've occasionally been asked where I've found various patches and I've noticed that the information for finding them, let alone knowing that a place has them, is sparse. I'd like to help change that.
2. Make a quilt to display all the patches. The plan is to embroider the United States, then place the patches around the outside of the embroidery. I'm still working out some details, but I bought a map from Haptic Labs, got my fabric, and have bought a few books on embroidery to help move me forward.
3. Go to one National Park I haven't been to yet. I think that we might manage more than one, but I'd like to see at least one this year.
4. Knit a sweater out of stash. I haven't knit a sweater in two years. I think it is about time to change that. I also have a habit of buying new yarn for sweaters because I "have plans" for all of my stash yarn. It's time to just knit with it. I can replace it if I need to.
5. It seems like an annual tradition, but I'm going to keep it on the list until it is done: put up the comic site. Connor and my father have sorted out the complicated calendar that I wanted and the site is largely put together. I just have the intimidating job of scanning and formatting all the comics. Although, the most intimidating part is getting over the feeling that the comics aren't "good enough". I keep thinking that the writing could be neater and the comics could be cleaner, but if they are ever to be put up, they will have to remain as they are.

That is this year's goal list, which is the 8th one I've written. It's been fun to look back to see how things have changed from year to year. Some years have been really good, some have been years focused on recovering health. It's good to see that the only consistant thing between years is that each one is different.
For those who would like to see what other years have been like, here are past post links: 2010201120122013201420152016.

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