Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Channel Islands National Park

Connor and I had been keeping a close eye on the weather around the Channel Islands for the last 8 months. There is a narrow window where the weather isn't too hot and the water isn't too rough. The weekend before last we saw that our time had come. Friday we jumped in the car and drove 6 hours (there was so much traffic...) to Ventura so that we could catch the morning ferry to Santa Cruz Island. It was worth the wait, the weather was glorious.

We took a morning kayak tour to see the different sea caves. Our guide, Mel, was lots of fun. We also made friends with the other people on the tour who were all pals from Quebec. Connor learned a new-to-him French phrase when one of the ladies jumped in the water: "C'est froid! C'est froid!" We already knew how cold the Pacific Ocean is around California, so we didn't jump in.

After kayaking, we opted to go for a hike to Potato Harbor. Along the way we saw one of the famous island foxes that is endemic to Santa Cruz island.
This fox was grooming itself rather vigorously. I got a picture when it came up for air.

It was good it wasn't too hot out because most of the five mile hike is exposed. But, being out there made us feel so free. On occasion we would pass someone, but for the most part we were alone on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Part of the hike is along the sea cliffs. Before we had gotten on the ferry, we picked up a patch. I thought it would be nice to get a picture of the patch that included the sea caves we had been in earlier.
There are whale tails on the patch, but we didn't have the pleasure of seeing one on the ferry ride to or from the island. They said that sometimes you can see a Blue Whale. I hope one day I'll get to even if it didn't work out to on this trip.

Once we made it to Potato Harbor, we sat and enjoyed the view. I thought about painting, but I opted to just take it all in instead. We live such busy lives, sometimes it is hard to remember to sit still and just be.

We ended up bumping into our Quebecois friends again on the trail and walked with them for a bit before splitting in different directions.

We timed our hike carefully. It's important that you make it to the dock in time for the ferry. They don't wait for anyone and if you are late, you get to camp. There isn't any food or water to be had on the island, so an unplanned camping trip is rather unpleasant. We got to the dock on time and found seats on the back of the boat. After such a big day, Connor couldn't help but nod off while I meditated on the day.

Funnily enough, we went out to dinner and bumped into our Quebecois friends again. Even though it was a quick trip, I'm glad we got to have it. The only regret I have is that we only had one day to explore. I hope that this isn't our last trip to Channel Islands National Park.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Christmas Knitting Starts Early

Classes are still going well. An unexpected perk at school is that I'm getting a lot of knitting done. There are many spare moments in the day when I've been able to pick up the needles and continue knitting. I've not quite finished anything yet, but I'm closing in on finishing the Primavera Socks for my mother-in-law. She kindly sent me an outline of her foot, so I was able to confirm how long the foot needed to be.

My Denature and Trick or Treat vanilla socks both have their heels put in. These are both first socks, but the hard part of getting the stripes to line up in the heel is done, so it should be smooth sailing from now on. Incidentally, both socks are Stray Cat Socks yarn. It was unplanned, but with such wonderful yarn, who could complain?

I've also been working on the loom again. I used Little Wool Company's 4-ply in Tamarillo for the warp and Malabrigo Sock in Chocolate Amargo for the weft of the scarf. It only took me a week and a half to finish. The scarf wove up really fast once Connor and I started a new show, Medici: Masters of Florence. The show is interesting, but most of the Italian main parts are played by English actors, which seems a little odd. I'm pretty sure everyone in Italy didn't have blue eyes at this time. We did enjoy seeing that the actor who played Rob Stark in Game of Thrones' has a father-in-law who just happens to be played the same actor who was Walden Frey in Game of Thrones. I wonder if the casting director did that on purpose.

Connor has also been hard at work on a scarf. We are both working on our Christmas gifts and every night we both try to hit our quota. It's going well so far.

Meanwhile, in the little bits of time we have together, I've also been showing Connor how to watercolor. Basically after I learn something in class, I show him how to do it. We started out with fruit, so Connor tried his hand at it. Maybe I'll have him try the classic bowl of fruit next.

After all, I just finished up my bowl of fruit.

There are some things I would do differently now that I understand more about watercolor, but overall I'm happy with it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SF Zinefest 2017

The weekend before last Connor and I went to San Francisco Zine Fest. I'd been trying to go for years, but something always came up. Last year we went to Joe and Emily's wedding. The year before that I realized it had passed exactly one day after it had happened. This year there was nothing standing in my way.

For those of you who don't know what a zine is, it is typically a little self-published magazine someone has made using a copy machine. (I guess there is some controversy over whether or not a book made using a printer or publisher counts. Most of the books we saw had previously been in zine form or on the internet, so the book was more of a compilation.) Zines can be about literally anything. It might have essays on someone's opinion on carrot juice or just have photos of socks. Connor said that if it were possible to walk into the internet, zinefest would be the closest to that experience.

We weren't sure what to expect at zinefest, but after walking into the building the event we were handed a map and wandered our way into the reading room. The reading room had a ton of zines that anyone was welcome to sit down and read.
This is maybe and eighth of what was available to read

Most of the zines in the reading room were from past years and weren't available any more. I took a picture of this one so I could look up the author later, but out turned out that he was tabling and had this for sale.

There was so much to do and see, I'll admit I got rather overwhelmed. I did get to see two people I knew who were tabling: Maia Kobabe and Amy Watson. Maia Kobabe writes fantastic comics about gender identity. I've learned quite a few things, including gender neutral pronouns. (E, em, eir in place of he/she, him/her, their.) Amy Watson is the woman behind 1984 printing. She is the one who printed Lit Knits.

We did come away with some treasures. There were so many different types of zines, but I was more in the mood for comic books.
The top two books are by Andy Warner. I really love his command of the medium, but also I'm a sucker for histories of things you might encounter in every day life. I had heard of his Brief Histories book, but also picked up When We Were Kids just to give it a read. I asked Andy how he ended up making a whole book on everyday objects and he said he had drawn about ten of them, but wasn't getting paid, so he quit. He had made them into a zine and sent them to various comic stores. It just so happened that someone from Picador (the publisher of the book) went into one of these shops, picked up the zine, and loved it so much he asked Andy if he'd like to make a whole book on the topic. Andy said yes. He said it really was an out-of-the-blue opportunity as he hadn't drawn that series for two years at the time of the offer.
We also picked up Liz Prince's book Be Your Own Backing Band. It is a collection of music-related diary comics that had originally been in Razorcake. I really like her comedic timing in her comics.
Finally, we found Slices, by Jaime Crespo. Slices has 40 1-page vignettes of different people who Jaime has run into in his life. He sure has met crazy people!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more comics to read.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Accounting For Knitting Time

Whew, it's been a wild two weeks since I last wrote. I started school last week and it has taken some time to adjust to the change in the amount of time I have to myself. One of those classes is Accounting, which I've found has a steep learning curve, but I'm enjoying none the less. The other class I'm taking is beginning watercolor. I've tried to watercolor for years and I just never felt like I had a good command of what I was doing. I'm really enjoying myself already. Partially because the teacher is so kind and partially because I haven't mentioned that I have any painting experience, so I don't feel like I need to create masterpieces. It's been freeing.
I think the plums came out the best

Meanwhile, I've managed to finish my Cider House socks. I realize that I never mentioned them here on the blog, but they have been mentioned on my instagram. I adjusted the Primavera Sock pattern to accommodate my sport weight handspun.

It took me four tries to get contrast yarn I liked to match my handspun. This seems to be a trend when I need yarn to match my handspun. In the end I bought a skein of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in sport weight in the Fedora color way.

And because I got something off of the needles, I rewarded myself with casting on something new. I bought this ball of Stray Cat Socks last year just after Halloween. I've been looking forward to the "I must have Halloween socks" bug to bite me and it has. With the way classes are I thought I ought to start now to guarantee that I finish in time for Halloween.

The Mother-In-Law Primavera Socks have also gone pretty well. I am mostly done with the foot of the first sock, but have had to put it aside until I can verify the foot length it needs to be. My original measurements seemed a little off and I'd like to get this one right. The Denature sock hasn't gone quite a smoothly. I was just about at the heel when I realized that the leg of the sock was quite a bit longer than I usually knit for myself and it wasn't going to fit up my calf. (Usually I knit a length that doesn't require a gusset for my calf.) So rip, rip, rip. I've had to do some extra work to make the pattern shorter and still have it line up correctly on the heel flap. Sigh.

Despite being able to fit in some knitting time, I'm still a little worried about how long that will last. Accounting is pretty tough and I'll be starting a second accounting class in the second week of October. I'd better knit as much as I can for now!
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