Friday, October 2, 2015

It's All Going To Be Alright

I like to try to blog at least once a week. I think it is a good practice and allows me to keep my writing and photography skills sharp. In writing this blog, it can be difficult to decide how to stay genuine without over sharing. Recently most of my posts have covered knitting failings and fun vacations, but they leave out the less glamorous parts of life. The tears, stress, and insecurities are difficult to convey and often there isn't a photo to describe what is going on.

They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I'd say that has been true, but it isn't the marriage itself. If anything Connor has been the most steadfast part of my life. It's all the weird crap that swirls around us that has been difficult, like the month we dealt with a false insurance claim against us. Long story short, we were accused of rear ending someone and the driver who caused the accident gave false insurance and license plate.... our license plate. When we finally were able to convince the insurance that we weren't there by having them photograph our car to prove there was no damage, they forgot to call off collections. It's sorted now, but it was stressful while it was happening.

Just this past week a traumatizing event occurred. No one was hurt, but I was severely spooked. It's been difficult to know exactly what to write, so for now I will leave it. But I have learned quite a bit. (Might as well get something out of all the pain.) I'm gaining a stronger sense of empathy for those going through tough times. I also know that behind everyone's beautiful blog, there is someone who is trying to make ends meet, who is dealing with death or illness in the family, who isn't sure what they should do with their lives. And really, it's ok. Things will work out one way or another (although usually not according to plan). There really is only one guarantee in life (other than death and taxes) and that is that things will always be scary. It's hard making decisions and it's impossible to know what is right. And it's ok to be scared.

Future blog posts will probably continue with mini trips and fiber-related content, but I just felt it was time to talk about something a little different. Hopefully I can take my own advice and remember that things will be ok.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I Must Really Love Ripping Socks

My Sock Lover's Socks are coming out quite well. It's my only project on the needles at the moment, so I've been able to devote all of my knitting time to them. But they hit a snag about a week ago. Of course all my socks seem to have complications, so I'm not sure why I was surprised. I guess I was feeling pretty confident about having knit so many stranded socks in the past months. Surely I had made all the mistakes I could.

The saga began while knitting the sock on the left. As with all stranded color work socks, I thought it was a good idea to try it on as I went to make sure it fit right. It fit great (hurrah!), but then I noticed that the colored stripes nearly disappeared. Now, you would think that after knitting two different pairs of stranded socks I would have gotten a handle on yarn dominance. (A note on yarn dominance: I knit using two hands when I do stranded color work. In the typical knitter, the left hand holds the dominant strand.)
Before the reckoning

You can see on the left, the grey is the dominant color, while on the right, the colored stripes are dominate. Well, wouldn't you know it, if a pattern is regular, like vertical stripes, the color in my left hand is the dominant one. But, if a pattern is somewhat irregular, like an image of a sock shape, the yarn held in my right hand is the dominant one. Apparently, I'm a very special brand of knitter.

Before I ripped out the first sock, I started knitting the second one with the grey held in my left hand and the color in my right. It seemed to fix it, which is good. I'm much happier with how the pattern is appearing on the socks now. Super bonus: some of the rounds on the first sock had been a little tight for my taste. Having the yarn dominance be off made it easier to rip.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shasta Caverns, Crater Lake, and Oma

As with many other people in the US, Connor had a three day weekend for Labor Day. We around different ideas until we realized that we could see Oma. Connor and I last saw her in January and I had hoped we could visit her again after we were married. Mum had said she wanted to go up, so quick arrangements were made with my aunt and uncle and away we went. Of course we thought we'd do some sightseeing on the way up. Mum and I had talked about going to the Shasta Caverns for some time and Mum thought this trip would be a perfect opportunity to finally go for it. 
You can see how bad the drought is here in California. The treeline is where the water ought to be.

After purchasing tickets we walked down a long and dusty path, got on a boat, and crossed Lake Shasta.

After disembarking we piled onto a bus and drove up and up and up.

The view was fantastic. It was hard to believe that we started out on the other side of the lake.

Then we toured the caves. Mum had been before as a child and she didn't mention that at the end of the tour you enter a large cavern called the Organ Room. It was breathtaking. Once upon a time it was used as an Oddfellows meeting spot, long before paths were cleared and tours were given. And honestly, if you saw the way people used to go in, it was obvious why it was a place for secret meetings.
Connor is wearing his new Angel Island shirt

We got in pretty late, so we didn't see Oma until the next day. As usual, we surprised her. Later on she told us she didn't want to change her shirt because our hugs were still on it.

After a nice visit with Oma, we decided to go to Crater Lake. Connor had seen it in a previous blog post and wanted to visit himself. The crowds were legendary, so Aunt Janet and my Mum told us to get out and enjoy ourselves while they looked for parking. As soon as he saw the lake, Connor exclaimed, "It's like I'm in your blog!"

We got a few more doodads for the future patch project. I already had a Crater Lake patch, so we got a magnet for the fridge instead.

Since the trip, we've taken it easy. After three straight weekends of fun and adventure, we decided to spend time playing Super Mario Sunshine instead. We'll probably keep playing until the urge of adventure is overwhelming once again.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Monkeying Around

After a diligent bit of knitting, my Monkey Socks are done. I used White Birch Fiber Art's 80/20 merino nylon self striping yarn in the Sugarbush color way. I believe Lisa does special requests, so if she's out of something, go ahead and ask.

The joke at knit night is that I'm a little anal about my self striping yarn when it comes to socks. It has to match exactly or I'm driven nuts. I thought that it would be a challenge getting these ones to match., but I was pleasantly surprised that it only required mild adjustments to make my stripes exactly the same. On the second sock, I only did 10.5 of the 11 rounds of the 6th repeat before the heel. And when I reached the toe, I only needed two extra knit rounds before starting the decreases.

A big thank-you to Connor for not only suggesting we take sock pictures in the rocks, but took the pictures for me. To get this shot, I wasn't comfortable at all.

What we do for our sock pictures, right?
At the moment, Pente is the most worn sweater I have knit

In other sock-related news, I cast on for my Sock Lover's Socks. Connor helped me wind the skein of Patons Kroy in the Blue Stripe Ragg color way into a ball so I could see the color progression better. The dark blue doesn't show up against the dark grey, so I'm cutting that bit out.
Scooter got a bath, so he is nice and clean... for now

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Local Tourists - Angel Island

Mum has wanted to go to Angel Island for an age. I had gone awhile back with Rachael and had since offered to go with Mum, but she wanted to go with Dad or someone who was just as enthusiastic as her. When Connor hear this he told her, "I don't know of anyone more enthusiastic than me!" We hit the tipping point and Dad decided to come along too. So one Saturday, we got up earlier than anyone cared to and drove to San Francisco. It was a misty morning and we enjoyed walking in the ferry building, getting some tea, and waiting for our ferry. The ride out was quite fun and Connor was especially happy. He usually is whenever he's on a boat.

We passed Alcatraz, circled around the back of Angel Island before creeping up, just behind the Tiburon ferry. 

After docking, we searched for a patch. Angel Island is in the middle of a rebranding, so they don't have their own patch just yet. A very helpful lady did let us into the gift shop (that was closed that day) so I could get this patch and took my info for when the Angel Island one becomes available.

The thing Dad had wanted to do the most was visit the detention center. Angel Island was the Ellis Island of the West. This center is where everyone came through when entering the bay. The majority of the immigrants coming through were Chinese. They were not treated well.

Many Chinese carved into the walls. Workers at the detention center assumed it was graffiti and would putty over the words and repaint the walls. As it turned out, the writing was poetry and almost every single wall is covered. I loved how the center had a section where different layers have been lifted so you can see the various states the poems had been in. Most of the walls have the slight dimples of puttied over characters. The museum did a beautiful job explaining the poems and had English translations, although I'm sure they are much more vivid in their original language.
The poems are suppose to be read out in Cantonese for the best effect

After we toured the museum, we headed out and had a look at the bell and memorial walls around the site. Mum had a look inside the bell. I thought she looked silly.

Although we were hungry, we collectively decided to walk to the top of Angel Island before having our picnic lunch. It is quite a climb, but the view is worth it. You can see 360 degrees around you. Dad pointed out that 180 of those degrees were fog. I managed to snap a picture in between the swaths of fog floating by.

As we hiked back down, Mum commented on how she was just about out of water. We ended up passing by some sort of work party in the lower picnic area and they offered us not only water, but cookies as well. Mum was quite pleased on how we seemed to get rewarded for hiking.

We caught our ferry and enjoyed the views as we headed back. Of course that isn't the end of the story...

We didn't know that it was only the last ferry of the day that goes back to the ferry building. The one we were on would go to Pier 39, then Angel Island, then back to Pier 39 before going to the ferry building. We opted to walk the nearly 1.5 miles (2k) back. Needless to say, by the end of the day we were all tired and ready for dinner. But it was a good kind of tired where you feel you earned extra chips and guac.

Friday, September 4, 2015


May I present the newest Bear Ears pattern, Septet. I'd worked on this scarf earlier this year, but it took some time to be able to get pictures. Mum liked the scarf so much she kept bugging me about it. I gave in eventually and handed it over to her for her birthday with one caveat: she had to model for me.

I went up with her to help with leather crafts, like I usually do every year, and spotted tall, dried thistles. With only about 20 minutes available, we took pictures before helping out the campers. I'm quite pleased with how the images came out.

The name took some time to decide on. It was actually the last thing I had to do for the pattern; even testing was done before it was named. I had designed the scarf to use seven colors and it finally dawned on me to base the name off of that feature. Septet: noun - A group of seven people singing or playing music together. Or in this case, seven colors playing together.

The sample was made using Hikoo by Skacel's Llamor yarn in the entire Peruvian Palette line. But if you've got 20 yd/ 18m scraps of dk weight yarn, this is also a great way to use up extra yarn ends.

Septet can be found on ravelry, craftsy, and the bear-ears website.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Monkey See, Monkey Knit

My Monkey socks are coming along nicely. I'm now at the heel flap of the second sock. And since this is the only thing I have on the needles at the moment, I'm starting to look at my stash and my ravelry queue a little more frequently.

And by look at my stash, what I actually mean is buy new yarn. Connor and I went to Michaels to get  a sketchbook. I made the grand mistake of looking at the yarn. I figured that my yarn snobbery would keep me safe. I was wrong. A few months ago when I was contemplating what color work socks to knit next, I thought about knitting Sock Lover's Socks. Nothing in my stash is quite right for the pattern and I really wanted a skein of Paton's Kroy in Blue Striped Ragg. I didn't know they had the yarn, but there is was, just waiting for me to buy it. As for the two other skeins, I have plenty of plain colored yarn, but after the debacle of the Sheep May Safely Graze socks I thought it better just to buy yarn that I knew would match.

Speaking of which, ravelry has put my Sheep May Safely Graze on their Sept 1st, 2015 eye candy post. Very exciting! Thanks to those of you who noticed and wished me well. I actually didn't notice initially because it was below the fold. But once I scrolled down....

I've also been quite busy behind the scenes. Other than keeping a household going and doing responsible adult things... like budgeting... I've been working on designs again. This is Dragonfly Fibers' Damsel yarn in the Spanish Moss color way. I know what I want it to be, but getting the numbers to come out right has been a fight. I'm getting closer to knitting it every day.

And finally, I have a pattern coming out within the next few days. My goal is Friday, but we shall see.  
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