All move posts
It's really hard to tell this early, but so far, I'm very happy in Portland. Seeing Panda so happy, eating great food and meeting kind people, it all seems a bit too good to be true. Perhaps when the rains start coming in earnest, I'll be singing a different tune. For now though, I will fall asleep counting Pygora, and wake up to great coffee, I'm going native, people.
Maybe it's unfair to compare the accommodations of a second story apartment versus the little house we are renting now, but from my office window, it's not uncommon for me to see birds and squirrels, fattening themselves up for the winter. We have some sort of tree with berries, growing right outside the window, which makes for no end of visitors.
But you know, the contents of this blog have been leaning pretty heavily towards talk of road trips and shenanigans (that's right, I call shenanigans!) I feel it's time to at least make a passing reference to something crafty.
I did a little more spinning on, and then plied the roving that saw all the great sites on our trip.
The fiber is a blend of BFL and Alpaca. I think this shot makes it seem a little course, but it isn't. It's an example of a fiber blend that is greater than the sum of its parts; soft, drapey, silky and unbelievably spinable.
This skein is exceptionally special to me because not only has it seen great sites but it's a combination of work by both Julia and me. I love the work I spin on my own, but it seems all the more special when someone else has spun a little of it too. I think both of us learned a lot going to the Fiber Fest and stopping at several shops on our way to Oregon. By Crater Lake, we were both able to match each other's spinning quite well.
To add a little more specialness still, I asked Panda to give me a hand with the photo shoot.
You'll have to excuse our yellow lawn. Once the weather gets cooler and rainier, I'm told I expect plenty of lush green grass.
And since there's been a bit of clamoring for Panda pics, here's a bit more to sate your appetite. After work, the three of us decided to take a jaunt around the neighborhood. I rode my pretty pink bicycle, and Panda and Leo....
Well, they do things their own way.
GO PANDA GO!
Do you know the story of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe? Well, Klamath, California hosts a huge sculpture in their honor. And doesn't this artist have vision? Not only is Paul blessed with a rugged carpet of chest hair.
But Babe has his own show of virility.
Let's get us a little close up here.
Today's sense of humor brought to you be the Local Council of 10 Year Olds and the Slap Happy Road Trippers Council of America.
I'm home in Portland with both a feeling of elation to be back with my sweet Leo and Little Miss Panda, but also a sadness that the trek is over and Julia has gone back home. I have so much to tell you about, but I’ll try to keep from making this post too long. It was an amazing trip; one I'll look back on as being among the most memorable, but I'm exhausted. Like all of the past few weeks, we've packed as much into as little time as our little psyches could handle and it'll be days before the effects wear off.
The trip started with an easy jaunt to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. We stayed at a place owned by a friend of Julia's. This allowed us the opportunity to stop by Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang, CA.
While there, we availed ourselves our their various wheels, including Ashfords, Majacrafts, Louets and a Windwheel. When I left the shop, I thought I was happy with the Ashford Kiwi. That's definitely not what I expected, but it was a lovely little thing, easy to use, and it felt fine.
As we embarked on the next leg of our trip, we decided that we'd see if we could try a Schacht Matchless at Carolina Homespun in San Francisco. We figured that with the $600 price difference, the Matchless would have to be pretty darn wonderful to sway us.
I. Love. This. Wheel.
After spending hours at Carolina Homespun, spinning until we had to concede to the road trip agenda (and our rapidly waning blood sugar), we made our way to lunch and then back on the road. It was noon, and we were going to drive to the Sequoia National Forest, a mere 38 miles from San Francisco.
Five hours later, several wrong turns, some swearing at the atlas and not a Sequoia in sight, we were in stop and go traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. In case the impact of that isn't entirely clear, that's a 5 hour detour to get us back to where we started, without actually seeing what we had hoped to see.
The sun was setting and the question became: Do we drive as far as we can at night, missing a good deal of the redwoods but still trying to get to Crater Lake the next day? Or do we drive a more reasonable distance, enjoy all the of the redwoods and skip Crater Lake?
We decided to drive as far as we could without overshooting the redwoods. There is no anxiety quite like that feeling that you've made a horribly bad decision. As we wound through the dark roads at night, hour upon hour passing, we calculated our optimal stopping point. Finally, having passed up most obvious points of civilization, we found ourselves in a quaint little area...where every light in town was turned off. The towns were silent and the motels could have as easily been abandoned, for all the life we could detect. Beam me up Scottie! I see no life here.
As the crew (all two of us) grew ever more punchy and concerned, we wound down one sleepy town's main street after another, until we found our oasis. Motel Ravenwood was open. As unlikely as it was, the owner just happened to be awake, awaiting another guest and he just happened to have an open room. We could have cried with happiness. Instead, we snatched the keys, paid our rate and made a bee line for the warmth of our beds.
The next day we awoke refreshed and ready to complete the last day of our journey. The redwoods are everything we hoped they'd be. Following the 101 up the coast, we stopped for a walk on the brisk sandy beach.
Doesn't Julia's sweatshirt look like it belongs on this beach?
From there, we followed the directions the motel owner gave us and found a quiet little trail off a well groomed dirt road.
As we left the redwoods and headed to Crater Lake, I had a little twinge of excitement when I realized I had finally hit my new home state. If you are wondering, it's beautiful and Crater Lake is no exception.
We stopped at each little vista point and the little spindle joined in the oohing and ahhing. The atmospheric haze made the lake look dreamy and almost unreal. The spindle particularly enjoyed seeing the chipmunks. None of them broke into song.
All said, it was an amazing trip. I’m still recovering, but I’m so glad I had the chance to do it. Portland is wonderful, and being back with my sweeties, is as grand as I hoped.
I should have more pictures up soon, and I feel pretty sure that Julia will have some stories to regale you with as well.
When I was a kid, I used to go to Canobie Lake Park every year with my parents because the company they worked for rented out the park for a day, once a year. I remember seeing all the roller coasters, even the one in the little kids' area and thinking "yah, I want to go on that." But as soon as the ride got going, I'd realize that this was definitely NOT what I wanted to be doing and in fact, if I didn't get off STAT, I was going to need to scream my fool head off. Luckily, I was a fast learner and quickly came to the conclusion that I was happier on more tame rides and getting "antique" photos taken with my friends. Odd, but I always loved the Turkish Twist which was like a tilt-a-whirl without the tilt and down in a pit where the floor dropped out from under you. So it’s kind of like being in a salad spinner.
Anyway, moving has been much like riding that roller coaster for the first time. I think, "Yah, no problem, I'm ready for this. While I'm at it, maybe I'll bring peace to the middle east too." Then suddenly I realize that everything is happening and I can’t turn back; Leo and Panda take off, the apartment is full of things I need to sell, and work is hitting a busy point. I see that apex of that long first hill ahead of me and start to think, hmmm, am I actually ready for this?
And what a ride it's been. Moving out of the old place on Tuesday was such a relief. I really do love LA, I've been very happy here, but I've been on a strict regiment of "no fun, all cleaning and selling old furniture" for the past week. I have a new disdain for flakey people who say they are coming to get your furniture and never show up. I also have scorn for people who try to haggle me on items I'm already trying to sell for much less than even Goodwill would charge. I'm not bitter, nah, not at all.
But I'm now a guest of a certain winter minded friend of mine, and life is good again.
I've made a small amount of progress on the Silky Wool cardigan. You can now see the full effect of the princess seams. She’ll look better after a little blocking.
The front and back are almost done and then I start playing around with sleeves. I do the bulk of my designing in Adobe Illustrator.
I don't want to give anyone the impression that using Illustrator is quick or easy, but I find it to be a great tool for the way I like to design for myself. In this case, the first thing I do is build a grid to scale. Then I create a pattern swatch that exactly matches a single pattern repeat for the stitch pattern. Since I generally create my document to be an exact 1 to 1 scale of the final pattern, I can use the actual inch markers on the built in document rulers, to draw the shape I want.
A little hint if you want to try this yourself, if you want a smaller scale, try working in centimeters instead of inches or picas instead of centimeters. For instance, if I draw my design pretending that each centimeter is an inch, I can basically scale the whole piece down by half, but I still have a ruler to go by when making modifications.
Just like working on regular graph paper, once my general shape is defined, I need to go in and redraw the shapes so they are made up only of whole stitches. Once the initial design is built, I fill it with my original pattern swatch and if all goes well, it will perfectly align with my gauge grid.
From there, I can reshape the piece at will and see how it will look. Then, I just print it out and work directly from the chart while I knit.
Since I have both a stitch-by-stitch, row-by-row representation of the piece and the stitch pattern, I can forego the row counter altogether. I just tick off the last row I worked and if I'm unsure if I remembered to mark off the last row, I can double check by looking at what row of the stitch pattern I just knit and comparing it to the chart.
I’d be curious to hear how other designers out there like to do their designing. Do many of you use Excel? Pencil, paper and calculator? Design programs? (I have one, but generally don’t use it for much more than calculating the armsceye and sleeve caps of multi-sized patterns.) Do you have another technique all together? Do tell.