Friday, April 22, 2016

Prance Past The Poppies

These socks have been a long time coming. Back in 2014 I was knitting away at these socks. Life got in the way as it likes to do. But with the help of my friends, the socks have been tested and tweaked. I am pleased to finally show off the Prance Past The Poppies socks.

Knit from the top down, Prance Past The Poppies are inspired by the California Poppy display that can be seen in Antelope Valley, California around March and April. These poppy socks are meant to be a cousin to the Fern Canyon socks, another California inspired pair of socks.

So forget about tip toeing through the tulips. It is much more glorious to Prance Past The Poppies.

The Prance Past The Poppies socks are now available on ravelry,, and craftsy.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sequoia/ Alabama Hills/ Death Valley/ L.A. pt.3

I had created an itinerary for Death Valley that involved driving to the furthest point we wanted to see, Badwater, and coming back out with a final stop by the sand dunes. On our way in, we stopped for a picture of the Death Valley sign. As I lined up the shot I commented that the boys were standing in front of the words in a way that made it look like we were going to "Death Nation." They thought it was funny and decided that their future death metal polka band would be named just that.

It should also be noted that just to the right of the mountains of the sign is an iPad. That would be the iPad that Joe forgot that we had to drive back and get after getting to Father Crowley point. It should also be noted that Joe loves the video game Mass Effect and fancies himself the main character, Shepard. When he forgot the iPad, Connor said, "The chief science officer left his data pad. Our mission is to retrieve it."
I referred to Joe as the chief science officer for the rest of the day, but only because it mildly annoyed him.

After stops in Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek, we finally made it out to Badwater, the lowest point in the continental USA. Connor and I stayed by the car to eat our sandwiches while Joe, who was itching to go, walked out on the salt flats. After our sandwiches were gone, we started walking out to find him. We passed large groups of people, then smaller groups of people, then just four other people without passing Joe. There was, however a speck in the distance, which I said couldn't possible be him because that person was clearly a nutter. Connor told me Joe was not a nutter, but that speck was definitely him. Connor was right. We were so far out, no one else passed us. I didn't want to go farther, so we stood out on the salt flats for a while enjoying the scenery until Joe came back to us. 

After Badwater, we rapidly saw several sights, including the Devil's Golf Course. I warned Joe that the salt formations were sharp. He verified it for himself.
Joe is a brave man. I would not have squatted so close to such sharp formations.

We stopped by the Artists' Palette, a drive I had missed in the past because the road had been washed out by a flood. The rocks there are almost every color. I liked the green and purple rocks the best. It was at this point that Joe and I started to pretend that we couldn't see Connor. He had worn clothing that almost perfectly matched his surroundings, except for his black socks. Joe and I giggled about the black socks that were walking around Death Valley.

We then headed up to Zabriskie Point. It was another stop I'd failed to make in the previous two visits to Death Valley. I was pleased to see it for myself this time.
It's Joe next to a pair of black socks

Our last stop was at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. I told the boys it would be much more pleasant later in the afternoon, and I was right. I also told them before we walked out there that the dunes suffer from the same problem that Las Vegas does: everything is so big that it looks closer than it actually is. 
You can see a silhouette of a tiny ant climbing up the dunes. That is Joe.

Despite the warning, Joe decided to go to the largest dune. My ego couldn't handle it, so Connor and I went after him. It was worth it, but we were all extremely tired by the time we got back to the car.
We walked to the third big dune from the left

Before we left, I got a picture of Yeti. Yeti had been with us the whole way because it isn't often that a yeti gets the opportunity to visit Death Valley.

It was such a busy day in Death Valley that I didn't paint at all. I didn't end up painting any more during the rest of the trip either. The day after Death Valley, we drive to L.A. to see my brother give his Masters Guitar Performance. And the day after that we drove home. It was a fantastic trip, but all of us were excited to have an early bed time almost every night.
Connor and I also collected a few more doodads to add to our magnet/ patch collection. Some of the patches were picked up because I'd previously been to a place but hadn't found a patch.

It's been few days since we ended our trip and Joe headed back home. And while it has been nice to have a rest after such a jam-packed journey, I'm looking forward to painting more scenes from our trip. It was so easy to be inspired in such amazing landscapes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Sequoia/ Alabama Hills/ Death Valley/ L.A. pt.2

At the end of the last post we were about to drive into the Alabama Hills. I'd been there before with Mum and previously had been able to see Mt. Whitney through the Mobius Arch. This time it was too cloudy. It remained cloudy all three days we could have seen Mt. Whitney, so poor Joe and Connor never got a chance to see it.

We followed the trail and had fun spotting different shapes in the rocks.

We were also lucky to see the desert in bloom. The rain doesn't come often, but this year there has been a fair amount of rainfall. My favorite flowers were the orange ones.

It threatened to shower on us, but there was enough light to paint, so the boys left me in the parked car before going off to scramble over some rocks. It was a good move on my part. My paint is water soluble and would have been ruined when the clouds finally did let loose. Unfortunately I didn't remain dry. I managed to spill my paint water all over my lap half way through.

With my spirits dampened and the light fading, we drove back to town and got dinner. I spent another hour in the hotel finishing up my painting before going to bed. 

The next day would bring us into Death Valley and we had an aggressive itinerary planned.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sequoia/ Alabama Hills/ Death Valley/ L.A. pt.1

I have been rather unwell for the last five weeks. Two weeks ago I was certain that I'd be fine by the time Joe came to visit us. (Joe was the best man at our wedding and can be seen on the far left of the last photo on the wedding post.) Then another week passed... and another, and I started getting worried that I might not be able to go on the big trip we'd been planning for months. I kid you not, the night before he arrived, I started feeling better. Good thing too. I would have been sad to miss out on the Sequoia/ Alabama Hills/ Death Valley/ L.A. trip.

Our first stop was Sequoia. We were only going in for a few hours. I was horrified to find that we had to spend $30 on a week long pass. While I like to support the national parks, I wish there was a less expensive day pass option. It put me in a bad mood. Connor's response was, "There had better be some really big trees." And there were. We got to see the largest tree by volume, the General Sherman tree.
The theme of the day would be "Fees and Trees"

I had anticipated not having the energy to hike and brought my paints with me. So while Joe went off to hike for a bit, I turned around and set myself up to do a little painting.

Turns out I'm an angry painter. I spend lots of time muttering to myself that I don't know what I'm doing. It is only at the end when I put in the final details that it starts looking right. Midway through the painting, Joe came back and he and Connor hiked a bit while I muttered to myself some more. In the end I think it came out right. I did adjust a shadow or two when we got back to the hotel.

That night Joe, who was still suffering jet lag from being on Eastern Time, went to bed. Connor and I drove from Exeter (which smelled like orange blossoms all around, except at our hotel where it smelled more like manure) to Visalia to eat. We happened upon a nostalgia station (103.3 fm) and were thrilled to find that the Habit Burger we went to was 50s themed.
I love the neon!

The next day we started our next long drive to Lone Pine. We were treated to a rather under photographed bit of California. There are a lot of oil wells in southern California.

As we rounded the bottom of the Sierras, there was some concern over whether we would even get to see the Alabama Hills. I knew that the road going in was dirt, and it looked rainy. In fact, we had a ton of rain pour on us on our way up.
You can see a sign for Gus' jerky. It once said "Best Jerky in the World." Now it says, "Really Good Jerky."

We made a backup plan to go to the Film Museum in Lone Pine first. It was a good plan and we got to see all sorts of movie props from movies made in the area. The boys especially appreciated it as we decided that the roads looked dry enough to get out to the Alabama Hills that day.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Social Media - How Many Frontiers?

Since I've started to paint more seriously, it's been difficult to decide the best way to show off what I'm up to. Honestly, it is really tempting not to show anything at all. I feel like such a beginner again. But after reading Austin Kleon's book, Show Your Work!, I know that I need to show the paintings. All of them. Even ones I can see mistakes in. (Which would be all of them. But I don't think any painter is truly satisfied... ever.)

I have determined that I don't want to show every painting on this blog. If feels a little spammy to me. So instead I've opened up a tumblr account and I've been posting my work there.

I'm still figuring out how this blog and instagram (my other haunt) will work in the grand scheme of things. Questions like how much cross posting do I want to do and how much time do I really want to spend online are being puzzled out.

How has everyone else decided what to share and where?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Gotta Catch Them All

The kids next door lost their TV privileges last week, so knowing that they enjoyed art too, I showed them some things I worked on when I was their age. One of the kids has really taken to drawing and is writing a story about a kid brought up by two wolves. Not sure if that is representative of how he feels about his life....
Anyways I thought I'd share with you all what I shared with them. I made miniature Pokemon cards. I remember spending hours on this. Actually, during my childhood, all the neighborhood kids spent summers drawing comics and making miniatures.

Here's a detail shot. I used a 005 micron pen to draw the tiny lines.

We also made little medallions out of scraps from a hole puncher. Mum bought the finished medallions from us, but we had to give her 10 medallions per payment and there couldn't be any repeats. (Good one Mum. I'm sure you had the most peaceful summer when you thought of that.)
There are 109 face up medallions in this picture. We were quite industrious.

We had little jelly roll pens at the time, and boy did we use them.

The neighborhood kids also came together and made Pokemon badges out of clay that could be baked. We must have all had Gameboys with a Pokemon game and the usb link that let us battle each other at that time. If I'm remembering right, each kid pretended to be a gym leader and you had to beat them in order to earn the badge.

It's fun to see how into Pokemon we were. It inspired quite a bit of creativity.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

We're All Mad In Here Redux

Could it be? I have a FO? After being stalled on all sorts of projects and finding motivation in none, I decided that every day I was going to knit one more stripe in these socks and eventually they would finish themselves. 
The heels match, like usual. I don't care if they laugh at knit night. I'm sure they are just jealous of my self-striping heel matching prowess. 

I've knit these socks before. We're All Mad In Here color way was the first Canon Hand Dyes I ever knit with. Unfortunately they faded. 
The sock on the left is the faded one. It almost looks like it is in shadows compared with the new one on the right.

Here is a close up of the damage. I've since been re-fixing all of my socks to help them resist fading. These were far from the only pair to fade, but because they had been neon, the contrast was much more stark. Luckily the old socks won't go to waste. Mum has found that she not only likes hand knit socks, she likes them even better when they've been worn in. Apparently they are more cozy. That works for me.
The sock on the left is in the Oscar base. The sock on the right is ion the Charles base.

Of course finishing my on-the-go pair of socks meant I could start a new pair. I didn't realized I had been so starved of a new project until I started knitting  this one. I blinked and I'm already at the heel.
The yarn is from Opal's now discontinued Little Prince series, the color is The Geographer, and there is a mildly embarrassing story as to why it needs to be knit now. I bought the skein back in November of 2013. After that I carted it around everywhere I went. I think it even came with me to New Zealand in 2014. Wei Siew saw it and was enchanted, so I found a skein at Stitches 2015 and sent to her. The embarrassing part is that she knit up her socks with her far newer skein before I got around to mine. So I'm knitting them now.

Progress has been steady on my other WIPs. I got more yarn for the shawl I'm designing. I had to unravel a few rows so I could blend the new skein in better. It took some time, but the shawl is now ready to be knit again. The Pucker sock is growing slowly but surely. I am ready to put in the toe on the first sock. (Finally!) I just need some quiet time to figure it out. The toe is a little different than my usual one because the mosaic pattern is 72 stitches around and I need it to be 64 stitches early on. I'm glad I have my Geographer socks to keep me sane while I work on the other two projects that need brain power.
There is one more thing in that photograph that I want to share and it also has a little story. I was reading Alicia's blog and saw a delightful bag. (See the second picture down.) I lusted, but decided I didn't want to buy a kit I wasn't interested in for the bag. The same day while reading Monica's blog that I saw a second bag and lusted over it. (See the third picture down.) After a bit more research I realized that those bags were both made by Jenna Rose. It was going to be a birthday present, but the bag accidentally got sent to our old address. We tried to get it back, but it was long gone. (I hope whoever stole it likes it a whole bunch.) So we ordered a second one. It became more of an anniversary present. It is my new favorite. It sits open really well and, well, I love that Jenna dyes and screen prints the fabric herself.

So that is what is going on in my knitting life. I'm still painting and learning all I can. It is exciting to have a new area in which to be creative.
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