FO: Ishbel

I became enamored of Ysolda Teague’s Whimsical Little Knits booklet of patterns a couple of months ago. Everything is so cute in it – and finally took the plunge and bought not only the digital edition, but also the paper booklet. The booklet came very quickly and it is so cute!

So, I wanted to make Ishbel, and wound together strands of Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud and Gloss Lace from a sampler lace kit I bought last summer to make a woman’s shawl for Afghans for Afghans. The two yarns worked together quite well:

Ishbel1e.JPG

When I took it in to Bluebird Yarn & Fiber, every staff member wanted to try it on — the pattern is that cute! I took the leftover yarn into the store as well to use the scale. I used 310 yards to make the shawlette (pattern says 330 yards), so I have 130 yards, and am in the process of making a matching beret – which says I need 175 yards for the 20 inch size. So, I’m using another sock yarn for the inside of the hem (no one will see this), cutting down one of the lace repeats (which is even provided for in the pattern), and praying a lot. I think I’ll have enough. I’m sure of it. Really.

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My socks went to sock summit and all I got was this lousy photo:

Actually, it was great of Judy to remember to take this photo in the middle of such an amazing event – thanks, friend! When our knit night called her last night, it was evident that she was under the influence of tmy – Too Much Yarn.

Courtesy of my good friend Judy, my Merike’s Socks at Sock Summit. (Sorry, I can’t seem to download the photo.)

Merike's Socks

Edited to add: My friend Les, who also went to Sock Summit, took this picture for me as well!

Merike's Socks at Sock Summit

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Vacation – Day 3

Having stayed up too late the night before, I barely made it to breakfast the next morning – and I was very glad I did make it – I had blueberry pancakes and bacon made to order. I LOVE bacon, and therefore never keep it in the house, because it would be eaten way too quickly.

I spent a littlle while in the lovely courtyard of the B&B taking some photos:

St FrancisFlowers2
Flowers1Fountain

and then it was time to go to Elkhorn Slough (pronounced “slew”) about 20 miles north of Monterey, and a place where there is a lot of wildlife, to go on a Kayaking trip.

Let’s review my experience. I went once with my cousins to a bay here in Marin, and it was when I had absolutely no upper body or back strength. It was not a pretty picture. The second time I went was in the southeast in South Carolina and even did a tiny bit of sea kayaking in the beginning and end. So, one tough time, one ok time.

The slough is a dead end saltwater body, so it’s much easier than sea kayaking, although the wind can pick up in the afternoon (which it did). Fortunately, I have no picture of me in the kayak garb – these were closed kayaks, so there was a lot to wear, including the skirt that seals you in the kayak. My major benefit was that since I was alone, I went with our guide, Brian, who could clearly handle little ol’ me.

We saw jellies, cormorants, pelicans, seals sea otters and all manner of wild things. Because it was a weekday, we were among the few that were there, so it was wonderful — I felt so close to the natural world.

One funny thing that is several piers were built to use for boats going out to watch whales. See?
Less Full Pier

As you can see, there are a few seals at the end of these. But around the corner is the real hangout.
Top Seal

These are male seals, hanging out like it’s a rave party, see? No boats get to use these piers!
Seal Rave 2
Seal Rave 1

After this adventure, it was time for dinner. Being completely spend and having no originaility at all, I went back to Tillie-Gort’s, and then was collapsing into to watch more Dexter and knit a tiny, tiny bit.

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FO: Verdigris

While on vacation, I finished knitting my first Christmas gift, Verdigris from Summer Knitty:

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Yarn is Tactile merino-tencel, and I love the colors. I did the long version for the fun of it! The pattern stitch is beautiful, and I’ll probably use it for a pair of socks sometime. I learned a new tubular cast-on, and was introduced to the wonders of the twisted rib – how I managed to never knit this simple stitch before is beyond me!

Verdigris1c.JPG

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Vacation – Day 2

The next morning I had an absolutely delicious quiche for breakfast, along with coffee, potatoes and fruit salad. Yum! Then it was off for a 1/2 mile walk to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. There I met Tracy, the daughter of a former colleague, who now conducts the public education programs at MBA.

Tracy is a miracle herself. Several years ago, she fell on a run she was doing in Arizona, falling about 20 feet onto rocks, if I remember correctly, it was only because other runners were nearby and saw her fall, did she get the kind of advanced medical treatment that she needed in a timely manner. Because she was in fantastic shape, she overcame massive injuries (her jaw was wired shut for months, other broken bones, etc). Today, she is a confident almost-30 something who runs a program at one of the premier aquariums in the world. Tracy got me in for free (Thanks!) and she showed me some of the behind the scenes stuff. One of the items was the “thermal recovery unit” (hot tub) for the divers who clean the tanks and feed the fish. It didn’t get funded when put into the budget as a hot tub, but passed when given a bureaucratic name. It’s coyly hidden behind a screen:

An essential piece of equipment

She also showed me the “tuna-bago” which is a large tank that can be driven on the freeway – often with tuna for the other critters, sometimes with a white shark that is sometimes allowed in the MBA. I saw the photos of the folks who feed the otters that will be released later – they wear garb to disguise the fact that they are people so they don’t bond with folks. We joked that these otters will always come to Darth Vader.

Then I went off on my own to see the Seahorse exhibit. It’s wonderful and I highly recommend that you see it. Here’s one of a couple of baby Seahorses:

SeaHorses
And this is an awesome critter – I wish I had that camoflage:

Some wicked camoflage

After lunch, I left and saw that the economy is hitting even a reliable tourist destination such as Monterey Bay — this location is not 40 yards from the MBA:

Cannery Row For Lease

Fortunately, Tracy said that the MBA is holding its own in this economy, partly because they were never lax and fat, and partly because they are awesome!

After a quick nap (and a couple of cookies from the B&B cookie jar), I left to find the yarn store nearby. If you are ever in the area, do stop by Monterey Knitting and Quilting. Joan has lovely fiber, yarn, and spinning and weaving supplies. Really, she’s got things I have not seen in Bay Area stores, and apparently will ship if you need something. I was warmly welcomed, we chatted about projects, I sat and knit a while, and bought some lovely fiber too:

Monarch Knitting

Afterwards, I found a local coffee place to hang because I wasn’t heading back to the B&B for reasons discussed in a previous post, and then asked for a recommendation for a place to have a casual dinner. When I go to a place like this, I’m not into dressing up. The place recommended was Pepper’s Mexicali Cafe in Pacific Grove – good food and very strong margaritas. I was glad I only had a mile to drive home, even though I had just one margarita!
Back home it was more Dexter, and staying up too late knitting and spinning.

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Sock that goes tink, tink, tink

In honor of Sock Summit, I decided to make socks. Yeah, not very original, but it keeps me happy. I decided that I would knit something by a teacher at Sock Summit, so I picked Cookie A’s Pomatomus pattern. The only difficulty is that I have two skeins of Lorna’s Laces, and I want to knit them toe-up. Fortunately, others have trod this path before me, and I found domesticrafts.com’s directions on how to do this.

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I began with Judy’s Magic Cast-on, increased to 32 stitches on the sole, 36 sts on the in-step, and knit two repeats of the foot pattern. In the middle of the second one, I increased on the sole stitches one stitch at each end, every three rows for a total of four times, two stitches in from the edge. Then I worked a short row heel I learned from Merike Saarnit, except that I began using the twisted rib shortly after turning the heel, and decreasing a bit to get down to the right number of stitches. I talk more about this in another post – it all looks pretty cool. Then I joined things up and started the relatively simple task of knitting the leg chart. It should have been easy from here. All the hard stuff is done, right?

Yet, as I began the knitting, there was this large hole at one side that bugged me – right where the instep and heel stitches come together. There’s supposed to be a regular-size yarnover hole, but this was larger. I tried tightening up the yarn that was loose, but even so, it didn’t work very well. After knitting about 4 rows in the round, I wanted to try on the sock to make sure it wasn’t too tight – having basically thrown away some lovely socks that were way too tight at the ankle, I thought this was the moment to see where things stood. I knit partway through a row, so they would be on 4 needles, not three, and tried it on. Well, the good news is that they look great, feel great (now wishing these were not a gift), but one lousy stitch popped off the needle, exactly where the round begins. A hole ensues, a hole so big that the other hole I was worried about now seems totally insignificant. But I’m pretty good with patterns and lace, so I think, hey, I can fix this! Which I probably could if not for the fact that there is some little maneuver I used with the last part of the short row heel to get things closed up, and it appears that even though I think I reknit the stitch correctly, it is still awful, worse than the other hole.

So, I am admitting defeat and realizing that tinking back about four rows is not the end of the world. I will have a chance to work out the first hole that bugged me, retighten things up and start afresh. This is simply a bump in the road toward a beautiful pair of socks.

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Vacation – Day 1

This year I took a few days to go to Monterey Bay – one of my favorite places to visit. Although the weather was pretty cool, I had a great time and did some things I hadn’t done in the past.

For the first day, I got a later start than intended (gee, a shock to those who know my morning habits, I know). Before heading down the Peninsula, I made a stop at Imagknit in the city (it wasn’t much of a detour, really!). I love this store because it has SO much in it, and on this visit, I finally got the skinny on the organization from very helpful Kurt, who has an architecture background. The front room is the more-than-50%-animal-fibers room, then organized by weight. The back room is the more-than-50%-plant-or-chemicals room, then by weight.

I fondled and touched, but really wanted to get some sock yarn – I had a sock yarn yearning, and I was thinking I didn’t have any cool sock yarn in the stash (It isn’t quite true, as I found when I returned, but it was what I thought at the time). I splurged on some Lorna’s Laces yarn in the Gold Hill colorway, to make socks for a Christmas present, and threw in a skein of yarn on sale for my cousin Allison who like chunky yarn to crochet.

Then it was off down 101, which wasn’t bad getting out of town. At Gilroy, I made a stop at the Factory Stores (many have closed with the economic troubles), and bought a wicking tee that I could wear on my Kayaking venture later in the week, and bought some sport pants because my other ones have ripped up and don’t fit either. While the plan was to go to the Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, but a general feeling of laziness had set in, so I drove onto Monterey.

My B&B was a cute place in Pacific Grove that a couple of folks had recommended. I loved the location – one block from the ocean, and it was in a quiet neighborhood. The garden is gorgeous (I’ll post photos) But honestly, I felt out of the place with the clientele – there were lots of heavy-duty conservatives staying there, and it was known that I am a pastor, which I hate – because people get all weird. The owners, a couple, are also conservative. I got along with the wife very well, but the husband had a friend staying there during the afternoon break time, and they got into dissing anything progressive. So I kept the conversation honest, didn’t try to take anything on directly, but making it known that this is something I was invited to, and I wasn’t letting crap go unchallenged. At one point, the husband asked me directly, “Well, name one conservative paper in this country!” and I responded, “The Wall Street Journal” – and he got this confused look on his face and he tried to challenge that, but I was out for red meat, and he backed down, although he said something to the effect of “well, they seem to be having other stuff in there now.” Sigh. No more happy hours for me – I didn’t come to have political discussions. A free glass of wine and munchies is not worth it.

I did come to see the ocean – and other fun things:

Pacific Grove

dog mat

I finished off Day 1 with a dinner at a cute cafe called Tillie Gort’s Cafe which was a nice casual place within walking distance of the B&B. I had a lovely soup and bread and tea and felt great there. If you go to Monterey and have vegetarians – this is a place to check out.

Back at the room, I took out my guilty pleasure for the vacation (other than way too much knitting and fiber to spin) – my rental DVDs of Dexter. I hadn’t checked out this series because I frankly could not imagine a story centered on a serial killer. My massage guy, Niles, totally recommended it to me, and it made me think about getting it, AND it has Michael C. Hall who I loved in Six Feet Under, so I relented and checked out a couple of DVDs. Wow. What a show, what a concept. I am totally hooked!

Tomorrow, I explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium, with behind the scenes action, and visit a knitting and fiber store.

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