Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Secret In The Sea Chest

Some people do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. I had no plans to do this, but I'm starting to think that I will have my own theme this month: No Blog November. Two and a half weeks ago I gave myself a good cut on my finger and I've been unable to knit since then. Most of what I like to show off on the blog is knitting. The other thing I like to talk about are outings and trips, but with all the moving, that hasn't happened either. But there is a silver lining to this knitless cloud I am currently on: I have been motivated to work on projects that don't require my left index finger. Specifically, I've been meaning to refinish the inside of my big, black sea chest for a few years now. I found myself with some time and motivation. While stripping the deteriorating wallpaper that covered the inside, I came across newspaper that was stuffed into a large knothole. It looked so small all wadded up, but when I flattened it out, I was quite surprised to see how much there was.

Looking at the typefaces, I knew it was old. My guess was initially around the 1920s. The paper was in good shape despite the musty odor that had been in the trunk. Connor and I started reading it to figure out how old it really was. Based on the ads, we quickly determined that it was probably from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It also was probably published just after October 12th since that number appeared quite often. But figuring out the year was a little tougher because we only had the bottom of the paper. When we found this news story about Governor Mitchell from Florida, we were able to narrow down the year to somewhere between 1893-1897. Connor further surmised that it couldn't have been 1897 because Henry L. Mitchell was out of office by January of 1897 and our paper was from October.

A bit more reading finally helped us determine the year it was printed. Based on when the schooner Sea Foam had capsized we discovered that the paper was published in 1894.

I was impressed to discover that the trunk is at least 121 years old, if not older. Also, that it had moved around the country. I had bought the chest in Oregon and assumed it was originally from there. But if the paper was put in the chest in South Dakota, it had to have traveled over 1850mi/2970km before I purchased it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Glued Back Together

Mum informed me that I hadn't blogged for a whole week and that she was tired of checking and seeing nothing new. So Mum, this one is for you.

It's been really busy here at chez Bear Ears. Every time I feel like I'm getting close to being productive again, life takes a swing at Connor and I and I'm back to feeling unproductive pattern-wise. The most recent incident occurred this weekend. Sunday, Connor had a terrible cold, so I went out, did some errands, came back and made him a sandwich. Or at least I tried. I'm used to my parents' dull bread knives, not the sharp one we have. I held the bread at an inappropriate spot and poor sick Connor had to take me to Urgent Care. Thanks to his work's wonderful insurance, it didn't set us back much, but it is interfering with my knitting. I can knit, but it is slower. Also, I can't do color work for now. Want to guess what I had planned to knit this week...
No stitches. They just glued me back together.

I'm hoping that the finger incident is the last of a long line of things that have occurred. Last week we dealt with the internet going out twice. It is now resolved, but interfered with blogging and checking blogs. But the reason we encountered any internet problems at all was because we moved. We were in a wee studio apartment and now we are thankful to have a one bedroom. Although it wasn't the size that made us want to leave. I had some prevailing respiratory problems that we were unable to resolve while we were in the studio. But now that we have moved, everything has cleared up.

With more space to play with, Connor and I went to Ikea. While we were there, we saw one of their house displays showing how it is possible to live in 260 square feet. We walked in, curious about how Ikea would do that and then we looked at each other and whispered, "I think this is bigger than the studio we were living in." 
I now have a yarn nook next to one of the windows. It is glorious.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Socktober Knock Out

Whew, October passed by fast! I had all sorts knitting plans, but after dropping multiple stitches on the plain foot of the Sock Lover's Socks and a surprise move at the end of the month (we are in a much better living situation now), I'm just happy to have made it.

I can't believe all the silly mistakes I made while knitting these. They were all my fault. I don't think I will knit with Paton's Kroy in the charcoal color again, though. It was just impossible to see the stitches while I was knitting. The yarn itself is lovely. The color is lovely too, but it is just too dark for me.

Good thing these socks turned out well in the end. It makes all the time worth it.

With no socks on the needles, it was time to dig into the stash and see what I could find. A skein of Miss Bab's Yummy 2-ply in the Biker Chick color way caught my eye. I needed to knit something orange in the fall.

I did have some trouble deciding what pattern would suit this yarn the best. It's variegated and has high contrast, which looks enticing in a skein but can be difficult to match to a pattern. After hemming and hawing, I went ahead and started designing my own. And unlike the last design I just finished up, this one came together almost immediately. What a relief! It was getting a bit disheartening not having any of my knits behave themselves.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lassen Adventure - Pt.2

The next morning of our Lassen adventure, we got up bright and early-ish, had breakfast at the restaurant by the motel, and pumped ourselves up for the big climb. Connor kept saying, "I can't believe I'm going to climb a volcano!" And I said to myself, "Who's idea was this?" since I'd climbed this once and I remembered it being hard.

We climbed and climbed and climbed. We stopped many times to catch our breath. A family was hiking right behind us and their three little boys had boundless energy. Connor's theory was that because they were shorter, the altitude wasn't affecting them as much. Har har.

Eventually we made it to the top, but not before we explored the crater just below the peak. That was a mistake. We were so tired after struggling up and down crevices that we almost didn't get to the peak. But when we finally summited, it was glorious.

We ate our lunch. Everyone up on the peak that day celebrated with everyone else over how we all made it.
Look! It's Shasta in the distance. It's about 70 miles from Lassen.

Then came the climb down. I had borrowed hiking sticks from my parents. It was a good move. The trail is pretty rocky in places and it's easy to loose your footing. As we got lower and lower, the air becomes positively soupy. There was so much oxygen it was exciting.

And so on September 27, 2015, we earned our Lassen patch. We climbed the mountain and lived to tell the tale. 

Then we stopped by Dutch Bros to get some liquid energy (Dutch Freeze) before driving all the way back home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lassen Adventure - Pt.1

Last month Connor and I decided to do an aggressive weekend hiking trip in Lassen. Located in Northern California, it's a little over 4 hours away from us... or 6 if you like to stop for lunch and look at things. What made this trip a little more aggressive than some is that we planned to do two hikes in two days.... but with some serious altitude. We live at around 100ft above sea level. Bumpass Hell is at 8,000ft and Lassen, well Lassen's trailhead starts at 8,500ft and peaks at 10,463ft. To help make the Lassen Peak hike more possible, we decided to stay in Mineral overnight, which is at almost 5000ft.

We also decided to do the easier of the two hikes on the first day. Bumpass Hell is a 3 mile hike, roundtrip. Easy for us, or so we thought, since we hike a 4 mile trail 2-3 times a week... usually in an hour. We were wrong as we ended up pretty winded from the elevation. But what you get to see at the end is worth the oxygen deprivation.

Bumpass Hell is a geothermic area that has fumaroles, boiling mud pots, and hot springs. The season and water levels will determine what there is more of as each phenomenon can evolve. A mud pot with more water can become a hot spring, but less water will turn it into a fumarole.

Of course you have to time your visit pretty well. When there is snow, Bumpass Hell is closed to protect people from accidentally going off trail and burning themselves. So contrary to popular belief, hell does in fact freeze over pretty often.

I was glad to see Bumpass Hell again. And Connor hadn't ever seen anything like it. There aren't too many places on earth were you can get pretty close to geothermic activity in a relatively safe manner.

As we hiked back, we were surprised to find that we were already starting to acclimate to the altitude. The walk back seemed easier. This boded well for the next day's challenge: Lassen Peak.
The further point is the actual peak. It looks shorter. It isn't.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fern Canyon: The Socks

I've been sitting on this pattern for quite some time, but thanks to good knitting friends who insisted that I was only imagining that it was impolite to ask them to test it out, Fern Canyon socks are now out in the world.

Fern Canyon is a favorite place to visit. (Insider tip, the fern display is better in summer, but there can be some amazing log debris seen in winter.) It is otherworldly, and I knew I needed to make socks that represented it to the best of my knitterly ability. Teaming the pattern up with Socks The Rock in the Enchanted Forest color way seemed like a no-brainer as well.

The socks themselves are written for both sport and fingering weight yarn. Knit from the top down, they feature a heel flap but that and the recommended toe can be replaced without affecting the pattern negatively. The fern patterning is knit only on the outside of the leg, but can be knit on both sides if desired.

Of course once you've knit the socks, you'll need to take them out on an adventure.

The Fern Canyon socks can be found on bear-ears.com, ravelry, and craftsy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Socks Of Betrayal

I had really hoped that I would be knitting a new pair of socks in October also known as Socktober. I had grand visions of using orange yarn. Perhaps my skein of Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply in the Biker Chick color or maybe my skein of Baah! La Jolla in the California Poppy color. I was making such great progress on the Sock Lover's Socks that there was no reason not to believe that I could be casting on fresh socks by the first week of October. We are just about done with the 2nd week of October and I am still knitting these wretched socks. Let it be known that the pattern is fine. It's the yarn that is the problem, specifically the dark grey yarn I paired with the self striping. It is a black hole of disappointment. A vortex of woe. It has betrayed me.

I had knit the entire sock all the way to the toe. I counted my stitches as I usually do before I cut the yarn. 16-17-18, good. 18 stitches on the top. 16-17.... 17?!? I was prepared to let go of my usual need for sock perfection, but I just had to know where that missing stitch went. I could have sworn that completed the gusset without any trouble with the right number of stitches. (There was loads of trouble with some mysterious section that kept being lumpy and tight which switched locations three times in between fixings... but that is besides the point.) And then I saw it... the dropped stitch. I know it is possible to mend a dropped stitch, but this one was on a wear point on the bottom of the foot and it was so very far down.
The marker on the bottom of the foot is holding the dropped stitch

So I ripped and reknit.... only to have the yarn betray me a second time! Another dropped stitch. I have no idea how this keeps happening, but I have just about had it. If both sets of my sock needles weren't taken up, I would have revenge cast on a sock already! As it stands, I'm trying to be disciplined and finish, but it sure is stressful knitting.
Can you see the stitches? Neither can I.

Meanwhile I am busy designing. Of course the project has been ripped even more than the socks. Each rip leads me to a better version of the pattern, but I would be lying if I didn't say that I am looking forward to knitting something entirely different.
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