April 2013

Shave Ice

Perfect Stress Relief

It has been a ridiculously difficult week at work. Like, stupidly hard and frustrating. I’ve been trying really hard to not let it get me down. But today…oh today, it was really difficult to just not give up. My boss and everyone in my department is really feeling the strain of this busy time.

It’s also a kind of employee appreciation week this week and so each day there has been something fun and special going on. One day we got breakfast, one day there was a health fair, one day they got the Kogi Truck to come for lunch. These things have been the one bright spot of each day this week. And today, we got Hawaiian Shave Ice. I don’t know if you’ve ever had it, but it’s amazing.

It’s kind of like a snow cone, but better, because the ice is fluffier and smaller. Plus, they have way better syrup flavors than when I used to get snow cones as a kid. There is guava and mango and orange-pineapple syrup. It’s topped with condensed coconut milk, which is really, really good. But my favorite part is that beneath the fluffy, snowy goodness, there is a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It is amazing.

So, as I sat outside in the gorgeous spring weather, with a breeze blowing on me and the flowers blooming (it is such a pretty day today), eating my cherry and coconut shave ice, I thought to myself that today wasn’t so bad. It’s beautiful out. I have ice cream and sugar and fluffy ice. Things could be a lot worse.

My good mood was ruined ten minutes later when I realized that there was no way I was getting out of here on time today, and I get to work on the weekend (yay!). But for ten sweet minutes, I felt very relaxed and at peace.

And seriously, shave ice is delicious. Go get some if they have it anywhere around you.


Cutest octopus ever!

See, I could get so much more done! (Knitting Octopus by Max Alexander. The pattern is here.) Isn’t it cute?

I’ve been really inspired lately. I’ve had so many ideas of new patterns to knit–a skirt, a wrap, a baby sweater, mittens, grownup sweaters, and on and on. It’s an amazing feeling, but it’s completely overwhelming, mostly because I feel like I have no time to work on everything I want to. Between the music gig, acting class, the day job, knitting night, a secret project I’m working on (don’t worry, you’ll find out what it is soon enough), and trying not to neglect poor Ron, I’m finding myself wishing I had extra pairs of arms, like an octopus. One set could be for knitting, one for practicing the guitar, one for working on the computer, and one for cleaning and doing household chores.

The only problem I can see with this is the fact that my sweaters would require eight sleeves, and sleeves are not my favorite things to knit. Maybe if the arms were retractable…

The other option is for the days to be about eight hours longer, or for me to have the ability to get through life without sleeping.

I can’t complain too much. Having amazing amounts of inspiration is just an excellent problem to have.

Yarn Crawl Haul

The spoils! It’s a veritable cornucopia of yarn!

Last weekend was Yarn Crawl LA, an event where thirty-some-odd stores in the Los Angeles area have events and specials and all the yarn lovers drive around like crazy visiting them. You get a passport and each store you visit stamps it. It’s a really fun excuse to visit stores that you don’t normally go to and see what they have. In fact, except for my local yarn store and one other, every store I went to this weekend was new to me. That was sort of my goal this weekend–to get to new places and find new yarns that I don’t normally see every day at my local store. I tried to avoid getting the same old stuff I could get anywhere.

I didn’t do any crawling on Thursday, because I had to work and then I had rehearsal for my music gig. On Friday after work, I went to my local store (Alamitos Bay) to pick up my passport and tote bag. They had some brand new yarn I’d never worked with, some Zen Garden. So bought a few skeins of that, because I love finding new yarns. The Yarnover Truck also happened to be there that day.

The Yarnover Truck is relatively new (I think they just had their launch party in March), but it’s really cool. It’s like a food truck, but for yarn. I got some Anzula Yarn there, which is something I’d seen at Stitches West, but not been able to purchase. That was about all the crawling I got done, because I was not about to drive all over creation in Friday rush hour traffic.

Saturday morning, I got up and ran a 5k. After breakfast and a shower, I met up with my friend Melissa. We hit seven stores on Saturday. First we went to L’Atelier, which has really nice yarn, but tends more toward novelty stuff than I tend to knit with, so I didn’t buy anything, but it was nice to look at. Then we went to Twist Yarns of Intrigue, which is the only store besides Alamitos Bay that I’d been to. I got some really nice Freia Handpaints Ombre Yarn there, which is something I’ve never used before.

Then we hit Needlepoints West, which had a lot of embroidery supplies as well as yarn. I didn’t get anything, but Melissa got a cute project bag. Then we hit Wildfiber, Compatto, and Jennifer Knits in rapid succession. I picked up some Tosh Pashmina Worsted at one of them. I got three colors that I never would have normally thought went together, but I liked how they looked. I’m going to make something fabulous. That’s really what I tried to do on the crawl–buy things that are a little bit new and different for me.

Our last stop of the day was the Yarn Garden, where Dizzy Blonde Yarns was having a trunk show. I really love her stuff, so I got another skein of sock yarn, plus some Oink Pigments yarn. (Oink is another yarn brand I saw at Stitches West that I didn’t buy then, so it was nice to get some now). We were exhausted, so we had burgers and fries at a faux fifties diner and called it a day. (Except not really, because I went and rehearsed for a music gig. Boy was that a tiring night).

Sunday, we hit a bunch of stores I’d never been to. We went to ten stores. We started at Colors 91711, which was lovely. I got some Fibre Company yarn and Melissa and I got matching Yarn Crawl Celebratory Headbands. (They were really just flowered headbands that the store just happened to sell. We just decreed that they were our Yarn Crawl Celebratory Headbands). Then we hit up the Bourgee Boutique, Phebie’s NeedleArt, A Stitch In Time (where I got some Dream In Color Groovy yarn–it’s lovely stuff and you know I’m not lying because I don’t normally work with bulky yarns), Abuelita’s Knitting and Needlepoint, and Unwind. At Unwind, Melissa found some lovely, eye-burningly bright neon yarn, which made her really happy. I’m excited to see what she makes with it.

We took a break for lunch at Porto’s, which is one of my favorite places to eat. Then, fortified by Cuban Sandwiches, we proceeded. We went to Sit and Stitch and then to the The Stitch Cafe, which was a really fun stop. They sell the Delicious Yarns there, so I bought some more of that (I had gotten some at Stitches as well). And the women in the shop were very personable and very entertained by Melissa and me. Then we made our last two stops at A Major Knitwork and one more place. A Major Knitwork was a nice store with a lot of really nice yarn (they had a particularly good selection of Dream in Color Yarns) and a friendly staff.

The other store had a big selection of really beautiful yarn. But they insulted me, which is why I’m not linking or naming them. I don’t want to end on a sour note or tell mean stories, so I’ll just say that it’s not really nice to be rude to customers about their yarn choices.

After all that, Melissa and I were dead tired. So we went and had fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. But all in all, it was a very successful crawl. I made some connections, saw a lot of new stores, got a lot of new yarns, and got a lot of inspiration for upcoming projects. And spent three days with a good friend. Not too shabby of a weekend.

Well, that was a longer break than I intended. Last week was really difficult. There were our national tragedies and my own personal struggles (nothing serious, just have a few projects coming to an ending point all at once), and between the two, I didn’t have much time to write. Something had to give, I guess, and it was writing this time. But only because I can’t quit my day job to just write and knit and act and play music all day (wouldn’t that be nice).

So anyway, I’ll give you a knitting update today and an update on Yarn Crawl LA (which happened last weekend and a whole lot of fun) tomorrow.

Progress on my Madroña Shawl was going really well, but I didn’t have the bandwidth last week, so it’s stalled a bit. But it’s turning out quite pretty and I’m pleased with it.

The Sock Strap Sock has also stalled (it looks exactly the same as the picture in previous entry because I’ve done exactly zero knitting on it), and for the silliest reason. I broke one of the knitting needles and I don’t have the heart to dig out my other set of Knitpicks Size 1s and replace the broken one. Am I the only one who gets inexplicably sad when I break a needle? I feel like a knitting failure when I do that. Like real knitters don’t break needles right? (Or do you? I don’t know, maybe it’s because I knit socks on thin wooden needles that I have this problem. Should I switch to metal? Let me know I’m not alone in my needle breaking woes.)

Caribbean Tide Sweater

But, since I needed something to knit at guild on Saturday and none of my current projects on the needles (because I have a few others as well) were feeding my creative needs, I cast on something else. It’s a lovely, very easy baby sweater. (The pattern is actually called “Easy Baby Sweater”, as a matter of fact.) It’s a simple top-down raglan cardigan. I’m making mine out of Liberty Wool in the Caribbean Tide colorway, which has lots of blues and greens. It’s for my nephew. It looks like he’s going to end up with blue eyes (several babies in my family have been born with blue eyes that changed brown within a few months of birth), so I’m really inspired to knit him all kinds of blue sweaters to bring out his eyes.

So I worked on that at guild on Saturday and dinner on Saturday and while watching a production of The Grapes of Wrath (which was absolutely heart-breakingly fantastic) on Sunday, and I got all of the body done. So now it’s just the sleeves, the button bands, and finishing it up. Unfortunately, this is often where sweaters stall for me (sleeves are not my favorite), but since this is the only thing I feel like knitting right now, I think I might actually get this done fairly quickly.

I had a post all written about how I ran the Seal Beach 5k on Saturday and how it was my first one and I had so much fun and I did better than expected because I really pushed myself.

But in light of the Boston Marathon, I just can’t post something about how much fun I had at my race. It hurts my heart that someone had such a desire to cause harm to people. It hurts my heart every single time it happens.

So all I will say today is that my heart goes out to anyone who was harmed today, or who had a loved one harmed. And that I hope that healing comes quickly to all of our hearts.

There is a significant portion of my work that I get to do pretty independently. By which I mean in a tiny lab, all alone, where I don’t have to talk to anyone. Depending on my day and my workload, this is anywhere from 50%-90% of the time I spend at work. Being an introvert, I don’t really mind that. I’m much less exhausted after work on days where I spend more time in my lab alone than on the days where I have to go to a lot of meetings and do a lot of collaborative work.

But sometimes it does get a little lonely, which is why I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m working. I have a lot of favorite podcasts. Many, but not all of them, are knitting related. The one I’m highlighting today is Heather Ordover’s podcast Craftlit.

I love this podcast. It’s structured so that the first bit of the podcast she talks about her personal crafting and shares news from the crafting community, and also a little bit about her personal life. But the second bit is what I really, really love. It feeds that part of me that really misses being in a literature class and discussing books from a literary perspective.

The point of Craftlit is that you can listen to books when your hands are occupied, so each episode of the podcast gives you a chapter or two from a book. So, slowly but surely, you make your way through some great classic literature. Heather, who was an English teacher and is a writer, also provides a lot of literary context and analysis of the book. She has a lot of knowledge to share and she does it well. (Honestly, I think I would have loved to have had her as an English teacher in high school). She also will share and discuss comments she gets from listeners, who have some really insightful things to say.

Since everything has to be public domain, all of the books and stories are older ones, such as Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and A Tale of Two Cities, but I really like that, because it has been a while since I’ve read many of these books. She has put out somewhere around 250 episodes, and I’m playing catchup by listening to all the back episodes. I’m currently in the middle of Little Women, a book I have always loved and have read many times.

If you’re a literature geek like me, I really encourage you to check out Craftlit and listen to some great books while you’re crafting or working or driving. As Heather says, “If you’re too busy to pick up a book, at least you can turn one on.”

So I’m a member of two yarn clubs. I love yarn clubs. I get surprise yarn presents in the mail periodically, which just makes me really happy. Plus, in both I’m getting cool extras, like patterns and recipes. I already showed you my first shipment from the Cookie A Yarn Club. But I got my second shipment in the mail this week.

Dream in Color Everlasting Sock in Violet Hour

Dream in Color Everlasting Sock in Violet Hour. Cookie A picks some great yarn!

This time it’s Dream in Color Everlasting Sock in the colorway Violet Hour (which is exclusive to Cookie’s sock club). It’s a lovely purple color. The yarn is really soft; it’s 100% superwash merino. It’s an 8-ply too, which I think means it will wear really, really well as socks. The patterns that come with it (Tulip and Pirouette are both totally gorgeous. Plus the recipes this time around are for chocolate cookies and lavender shortbread, which both look crazy delicious!

Unique Sheep Yarn Club Shipment

Unique Sheep Yarn Club Shipment

I’m also a member of the Unique Sheep’s Gourmet Yarn Club. I got some lovely worsted weight yarn in some pretty spring/sage green and lemon yellow. I also got recipes for cookies (almond shortbread cookies and peanut butter cookies), a pattern for a potholder (which I likely won’t knit because I don’t need a potholder, but it’s really cute), and some adorable cookie cutters (a sheep and a chick). The yarns go great together. They aren’t terribly soft, so I’m not sure what I’ll make with it. Any suggestions?

I also really can’t wait for my life to calm down so I have to some time to bake some of these cookies and play with this yarn. But right now I’m consumed with a lot of other projects (some knitting, some not.) But I just love yarn clubs. Even though I pay for them, it feels like getting a gift every month, because I never know what to expect, but I always know it’ll be good.

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