Friday, February 29, 2008

D is for Dinghys

Large or small, with engines or oars, shiny new or old beat up, metal, wood, or inflatable - you name it, we got 'em.  This would have been a much better shot in the summer, when they are stacked a couple rows deep around the float, tied long and people climbing through others to get to & from their own.  But the letter D falls at the end of February, so what can I do?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Another 371 miles (plus approx 26!)

I made it. From Santa Clara back to Catalina Island in a day. If you are interested, here are the pictures:

The drive was much more pleasant this time, and I'm glad I waited out the stormy Sunday to get a nice day. But I was very aware of the fact that this meant I was driving into Los Angeles on a Monday, and it was crucial to the success of my homeward trip to get past the dreaded 405 freeway before rush hour traffic. But I made it, including the last little hitch of parking the truck in the garage in Long Beach, and taking a taxi over to San Pedro in time for the last boat. Because, man oh man, once you've made it that far, missing that last boat is just the worst!

My truck is just nasty lookin' now. Some sort of whitish stuff washed up on the hood from a passing semi and the windshield is nothing but an insect graveyard. But it performed like a trooper, and added on 750 miles in less than a week. That's a hell of a lot for a vehicle that often sits garaged for several weeks at a time or even longer. Since my decision to take it instead of a rental car was rather last minute, I didn't have time to take it in to get all of its fluids checked and innards reviewed, I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. To reward my faithful wheels though, I will go back overtown sometime in the next few weeks and finally take it in to be serviced and cleaned!

My first day home I was just sort of blotto all day. I meant to unpack, pay bills, spend some time on the computer - but nothing happened. Just a sort of blurry day spent with a cat plastered to me, watching the SciFi channel and knitting. On this:

It's a great little pattern and I've already completed the first itty-bitty sock and have started on it's itty-bitty mate. Looking at the itty-bitty ball of yarn remaining it seems impossible that that it could be enough, but I've heard sock yarn can be misleading that way - a tiny bit will go further than you expect.

My theory that this would be a good warm-up for sock knitting is turning out to be true. The only thing about the whole process that I struggled with at all was the Kitchener stitch toe. I could have wussed out and just threaded the working yarn through the last few live stitches and cinched it tight (what we refer to around here as "kitty butthole style") like at the top of a hat, but I persevered with the Kitchener and I'm glad I did. I've already decided that for my first sock I just want to do a simple ribbing pattern and to keep from being bored out of my mind with it, I'll use some of Spunky Eclectic's "Goblin Eyes" from my stash. That's got enough colors to keep me interested I think!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Not gone yet. (Again)

So I'm still here.  In Santa Clara.  Not where you expected me to be today.  (Or maybe you did.)

I looked at the weather forecast this morning and when I saw that it showed Sunday to be non-stop crappy and Monday to be fine, I just gave in and figured it was meant to be.  I spent most of the day lazing around the hotel, knitting and vegging out. Later in the afternoon, I went out to gas up my truck and headed over to Bobbins Nest to visit and knit with them for a bit.

It's been in my head for a while, that while I have not yet knitted a single sock, I am perhaps meant to be a sock knitter.  Maybe it's in the genes, I don't know.  But the signs are there.  First, I received this lovely Fleece Artist from Stella:

Then I received this great colorway of Spunky Eclectic from Tiennie:

I swapped a couple hanks of Inca Alpaca for some yummy Duet from A Swell Yarn Shop:

And, you don't think I left last night's yarn release party at Bobbins Nest empty-handed, do you?

Now I know one can use sock yarn to knit things other than socks. But at Christmas I received a copy of Ann Budd's "Getting Started Knitting Socks", a book that actually made me believe I could. So I figured my hat and wristy knitting would run it's course over the winter, and by summer, I'd be knitting socks. My own personal Summer of Socks.

At the Bobbins Nest party I received a little goodie bag that included a sample of the Hazel Knits signature colorway and a pattern for a baby sock.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me before, but an itty-bitty baby sock might be a good warm-up to knitting an adult sock.  I mean, it's little - so you'd finish it pretty fast, right?

So this afternoon, I purchased a set of itty-bitty dpns with which to knit the itty-bitty socks. And this evening, I wound the yarn sample into an itty-bitty ball.

So now it's time to sit down with my itty-bitty pattern and cast on. I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stitches West - Day 3

I had heard that Saturday was the busiest day at the Market and just 30 minutes after the doors opened, this is what the line to buy tickets looked like:

Shit howdy. And a short while later, the situation had improved a bit but the Stitch & Ride passengers started arriving, over 350 of 'em, and the whole shebang started up again.

I passed on the Market today and just went to my class, "Knitting with Fabric Strips", taught by Lorna Miser. (Yes, that Lorna.) It was a fun class, and I think she was a good teacher, I was just less than impressed with the behavior of some of the other students. Along with how different fabrics create different knitted fabrics, I learned the easiest & best ways to cut up a piece of fabric into one very long strip:

Which can then be wound into a ball and used for knitting!

Fun, and definitely something to play with more in the future!

About an hour later the Saturday night Ravelry Meetup at City Lights Espresso started. It was a slow starter, with folks trickling in two at a time. I was concerned about the turnout and I think we only had about 20 people altogether but once Jess and Casey arrived I think those who showed up were very happy. I'm just incredibly grateful to the 20-some people who DID show up, it would have been terribly awkward to be sitting there knitting alone! (My heartfelt thanks to all of you who braved the wet roads and crappy drivers - I'm really glad I got to meet you!)

The coffee shop is just 10 minutes from the convention center and was chosen for being located just steps away from Bobbins Nest Studio, a relatively new shop in the area. Bobbins Nest's owner Erin helped me make the arrangements and truly, I could not have done it without her help. Her shop held a yarn release party the same evening, featuring Wendee Shulsen-Wienker, of Hazel Knits.

Wendee creates lovely, hand-dyed sock yarn that is gaining popularity. especially after some rather well-known big name knitters have drawn attention to it. For Bobbins Nest Studio, Wendee created a special, signature colorway, using the colors from their logo and everyone attending the party recieved a sample in their goody bag.

At this point, I probably shouldn't be surprised at how amazingly small the fiber arts community can be. I was having a conversation with two women, one of whom had a cute little girl in a stroller, and we were discussing a dislike for the traditional pastel colors in knitting baby items. I mentioned that someone whose blog I read regularly had recently made a fabulous baby sweater in a sort of split pea green, and how wonderful I thought it was. Then the woman with the stroller looked at me, asked one question, and it all became clear - I was in the presence of the one and only Vivian. What fun!

I really had more fun this evening than I'd expected, and now back in my hotel room, I've already received a couple messages from people I've met over the past few days. After the recent nastiness with ------, the comments I've gotten, both in person and online, made me feel much better about the past couple months, that it wasn't all for nothing, and that maybe what I was doing was good and made a positive impact, even if just a small one.

My original plan was to check out of the hotel tomorrow morning and hit the road. I wasn't going to try to do the whole drive in one day again, it seemed unikely that I'd be able to make the last boat back to the island anyway, so it didn't make sense to hurt myself trying. So I thought I'd head out around 10am and see how far down the I5 I'd make it, and just grab a room at one of those little lodging stops along the way. But the weather forecast for Sunday is looking a little grim right now. In this area and even further north, we're supposed to get extremely heavy showers, with thunder, and gusty winds, for the entire day. If the predicted storm does materialize tomorrow, I'm questioning the wisdom of getting on the road at all. Would it just make more sense to stay here and hang out at my hotel for another day?  And then leave early Monday morning, after the storm has passed? I just don't know so I guess I'll check the weather again in the morning and make the decision then.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Stitches West - Days 1 & 2

Yesterday I was still fairly wiped from the drive so I lingered in my hotel room until lunch time and then cruised over to Stitches West to pick up my registration packet.

That dark, densely packed mass of bodies filling the photo? Knitters as far as the eye can see. The place was lousy with 'em. Knitters on the escalators, in the elevators, and on the stairs. Knitters sitting, standing, and walking. Knitters on cell phones and knitters on computers. Knitters in the coffeeshop, in the restaurant, and in the bar. (At noon.) And in my tiny, ever so limited world, that is the most knitters I have ever seen in one place. And suddenly, I blend.

I went to my first class, with the nauseatingly cute title, "Now I Can Crochet Too!", and taught by Barbara Kerr. Well, during the class I did this:

That's my little test swatch, learning the stitches. (Yes, I know it curves. Partway through it was determined that I should actually be using the next larger size hook.)

But now I can do this:

Although I'm not sure what one does with Granny Squares other than make afghans. But a search of Ravelry may turn up other possibilities.

And before the end of class I also learned how to do this:

I like this Tunisian crochet stitch, it makes a very nice fabric. I'll definitely be looking into what can be done with this, and I'm open to suggestions!

After my class, I had a little downtime to grab a bite to eat and then the Ravelry Meetup started. Did I say there were a lot of knitters?

Dude. Now that's a lot of knitters.

I deliberately didn't schedule any classes for today, I wanted to just take the whole day for the exploring the Market at my own pace and be free to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. However, because of this:

I can't show you any pictures of what I saw in there! All I can offer is this one tiny little glimpse:

I know, it's just such a tease! But this is what I left with:

Mmmm...My love for the single ply continues. That's three different coloways of Yarn Place's worsted weight Adalie and one of the Bulky Adalie. (Which at $8 a skein seemed like very reasonable alternative to Blue Moon Fiber's Leticia!) I just had to try a skein of Brown Sheep's Prairie Silks, and really - $5 LP Bulky? Who could say no?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Post-coma update

So what was I saying? Oh yes, I drove 371 miles up to Santa Clara yesterday. Or to be more accurate, I spent the whole day traveling up to Santa Clara. And it was a very loooonnnnnggg day.

I left my house at 7:30am in a taxi, left the island on the 8:ooam boat to San Pedro, took the shuttle bus from San Pedro to Long Beach at 9:30, and at 10:00am I got behind the wheel and started driving. And driving. And driving. And driving. And driving. get the idea.

The weather was pretty decent most of the way with just a few occasional dark clouds and sprinkles. But right after the I5 reduces to just 2 lanes in either direction there was just one really unpleasant 30 minute period of time where the sky opened up and dumped buckets, lightning flashed and the whole thing went to crap in a heartbeat. And of that, there was about 15 minutes of time spent clutching the steering wheel and questioning my sanity. (What the frackin' hell am I doing on this road? Oh god, that semi is just gonna wash me. Oh god, where the frackin' hell IS the road?)

Not long after that little episode I found a place to get out and stretch my legs. The Buttonwillow/McKittrick rest stop:

The name alone is worth it, but then I heard the sounds coming from the field next to the rest stop and just knew it was meant to be:

Talk about good omens! I mean, just check out these bad boys:

That's a whole heck of a lotta wool walking around out there! (Here sheepie sheepie...nice sheepie sheepie...)

Once I got back on the road it was basically just miles and miles of Interstate, and it all looks very much like this:

By 2:30 I was ready for another stop, both the truck and I needed refueling, so I exited the I5 at Coalinga and quickly found the Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant:

My friend told me I should stop and check it out and mentioned that it might be a good place for lunch. But as I pulled into the parking lot a large group of rather well-dressed people were entering the restaurant (looking very wedding-ish) and I was awfully grubby so I passed it by. As I exited the parking lot, I was pleased to see that should passing travelers suddenly decide that a miniature tree would be the perfect souvenir, their wishes could be easily accommodated:

('Cause you know an itty bitty maple is just gonna impress the heck outta the folks back home.)

As I expected my lunch stop was awaiting me right across from the Chevron station:

(Sorry D - but you've been off-island too long now. Let me put it this way - 24 hour breakfast. Hell, 24 hour anything!)

The weather continued to hold and I just had more miles and miles of this:

All the way up the I5, to the 152, to the 101. You should, however, be grateful that I can only share pictures and not smells. Because the last leg of my trip took me through Gilroy, the ahem, "Garlic Capital of the World". I drove right past Gilroy Food Products and I'm tellin' you - the air just reeked of garlic. Can you imagine working there, never mind just living nearby? Wowzer.

I know there was lunar eclipse on Wednesday night and I had some faint hope of getting to my hotel and getting settled in time to watch it, but I missed it. When I finally exited the last piece of freeway and landed on surface streets again, I quickly found an even more special, and miraculous sight. I spotted a dim green sign for my hotel, but just below it, shining like a a beacon of hope at the end of a long tunnel:

Oh yes, that's what I'm talkin about. Purely for medicinal purposes, of course. And if you want to know what happened next - just click back to yesterday's post!

Psssst...Here's all the pics, including less-than lovely outtakes and my hotel room, if you really wanna see it all!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

371 miles

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Not gone yet.

So I'm still here. On the island.  Not where I'd expected to be today. 

Unfortunately, my travel partner was feeling unwell, and had to cancel her plans to attend Stitches West with me later this week.  I was bummed, and still kinda am since I really wasn't expecting to fly solo on this trip. (Okay, flying solo is a euphemism - I'm driving, but you get the idea!)  But I've done a little re-shuffling and revised the travel schedule, transportation, hotel, etc., to suit a party of one.  So instead of leaving today for a leisurely 2-day drive up north, I'm going to depart on the 8am boat tomorrow, and upon arrival on the mainland just get behind the wheel of my truck and drive, drive, drive.  My stereo is the stock radio, no CD player or newfangled MP3 device - so I pray that the gods of the radio waves are on my side and supply decent tunes between here and Santa Clara.  (That freaky person you see on the freeway singing to a song you can't hear and dancing with the steering wheel?  That'd be me.) Somewhere between here and there, a Denny's will probably get to see me - and I'm actually kinda looking forward to that.  The commercials look good and I haven't eaten at one of those since...1999 or 2000 maybe?

I still plan to take my laptop, and the hotel I chose promises free WiFi.  And since I am going to be alone, I really should be blogging every day.  (Not like there'll be anyone else hogging the computer!)  This is just a short post, to keep my blogging mojo going, and I should sign off the computer early tonight so I can pack up my suitcase and whatnot before I go to bed.  


Monday, February 18, 2008

Taking a hike

I haven't posted for the past few days. When people talk about their blogs, they often compare it to their living room, as if by posting about their life and you reading the post, you are being invited in, to set a spell on the couch and visit. That's one way to look at it I suppose. But I don't consider this blog an extenstion of my home, or any room in it. This is more about what's going on inside my head, and I'm sharing it with whoever happens to be passing by. And I'm certainly willing to put a lot more out there on this blog than I do in real life, because lord knows, it's easier with relative strangers than people who already know you, or at least think they know you.

Anyway, before I go running off on a tangent, I passed up on posting because I wasn't happy about some of the things that were inside my head, and couldn't seem to get past them to post about anything else. To give the Cliff Notes version, a private discussion between two people was made public and escalated, because one of the two people insisted on making a mountain out of a molehill. I'm at the point of time in my life where I care more about being happy than being right, so I'll leave you to figure out which one of the two people I was. I've been down this road before and it doesn't lead anywhere good. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth and I'm done with it. So done. Life is too short to wast time and energy on this kind of garbage so I'm just going to walk away.

On better, brighter subjects - yesterday my friend stopped by my apartment to see if I wanted to go for a hike. I need to add here that my friend is in much better physical shape than I am. Although we used to work out at the gym together a few times a week and work a physically demanding job together on the weekend, times have changed and so I have I. Right now I'm still working my way back from too much time behind a desk. But I know from past experience that when I'm with her I push myself farther than I'd ever go alone, so I went for it.

After we picked up her dog Meg, we headed up the stagecoach road to the summit. Which is a paved road but long and all uphill. To say that what goes up must come down would be appropriate here and we came back down a hiking trail known as The Laundry Trail. (And no, I have no idea why it's called that - but I do intend to find out.) It was a gorgeous day, we saw tons of wildflowers and new growth in the fire areas. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take as many pictures as I'd have liked to. Once we were off the paved road and on the actual trail, I spent a large amount of time focused on not slipping and falling down. (Personally, I'm a big believer in taking a voluntary sit-down to stave off involuntary falling down. It works, trust me.) And I have twice before in my life sprained my ankle just days before leaving on a vacation, so I admit this was not a wise form of recreation. But the few photos I did get are below.

I'll admit it, I'm hurting today. My quads are have registered serious complaints and my calves are none too pleased either. But it was a great afternoon and I'm so doing it again! Wanna come with?

Tomorrow I'll be leaving the island to start heading up to Santa Clara for Stitches West. I'm too tired and focused on packing right now, but I'm betting that once I wake up tomorrow morning I'll be wired up and ready to roll. I am planning to take my laptop with me, so I should be able to keep blogging all week if the WiFi gods are on my side.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Death by hat

Yes, it finally happened.  I went overtown yesterday to take a Psych midterm and when I returned, Death was waiting for me.  And this is how I knew:

The nice lady at the post office wished me a cheery "Happy Valentine's Day!"  It's not her fault, she really had no way to know that instead of candy, jewelry, or something special from a significant other, she was handing me Death in a small padded envelope. 

Warm, wooly, pretty death!  With extra prezzies! 

The color is gorgeous and it fits my pointy little head perfectly too!  My assassin added some soft white alpaca trim and it really just makes the hat.

Actually, as assassins go, I think mine is awfully cool.  (And I'm not just saying that 'cuz I've got stylin' skullhead keys!) I mean, anyone who can simultaneously wish you happiness, love, stars, kittens, flowers, etc., AND Death - obviously has their priorities in order, doncha think?

Of course, she has very interesting job, likes scifi and fantasy including Doctor Who and Forever Knight (ohmigod do I miss that Nick & Natalie), crochets, and knits some amazing hats.  But you don't have to take my word for it, check out her blog, Deep Space Knit.

I'm sure it's only a matter of time before she joins me on the other side. There's plenty of us here, it's a big ole zombie bash! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

C is for Cookie

My wild child and one half of the Freaky Feline Tag Team. (You'll get the other one much later in the year!)

Cookie arrived on the scene about five years ago.  From inside my house, it sounded like a 30lb. monster was running across the roof, but when I went looking I found a skinny scrap of black & white cat peering down at me.  Not a kitten, definitely an adult, but a young one! It started with an open can of tuna, and over many months evolved into a tentative trust.  Supposedly it's not possible to socialize an adult feral but I wasn't willing to accept that. And it's a damn good thing.

We've come along way since then.  She's been fixed - that's what the little tip missing off one ear signifies.  It doesn't hurt her at all, and I think it gives her a bit of a rakish look.  She's been given the opportunity to live inside and rejected it.  Some critters are just happier when they can roam at will, and she doesn't really roam far anymore. Cookie has her own little house, a snug little wooden box, with her bed, food, & water.

She patrols the property regularly, and any visiting cats are sent away licking their wounds and with their tails between their legs.  Mess with Cookie and get your furry butt handed to you on a platter! (Okay, so she never really learned to play well with others.)  She's happiest on fair weather days, when her people come outside and spend time with her.  And if she feels she is not receiving enough attention, she is not above banging on the door or blockading the stairs to demand it.  Unfortunately, she also lies like a rug and can put on an Oscar-worthy performance so one never knows if she's just spent half an hour snuggling and purring with someone else!

Her psychic kitty powers are finely tuned to kitchen sounds, she can sense a can of tuna being opened from a mile away and always cleans her plate.  Which is perhaps why she has a bit more of a "womanly figure" than she used to. But she's still spry enough to terrorize lizards and chase after birdies, recently adding herself to the Audobon Society's Most Wanted list by presenting a little yellow feathered trophy. (Which was a nice change from burrito wrappers and other bits from the trash.) If no suitable prey happens along - she's willing to make do with a tennis ball, toy mousie, or the occasional leaf.  Cookie's story is far from over, she's still evolving & changing and still has much to learn. But as she continues to feel safe and secure she becomes more socialized and every day is a new adventure in her life!

One little knitting update - on Monday morning I finished my Binary Cable Hat for Hat Attack: 

And it went out in that day's mail to travel all the way to Cal in New Zealand. Hope she likes Fuschia!