Saturday, 24 August 2013

The rest of the trip

We have returned home at last, tired but refreshed.  My near-constant eye twitch even stopped a few days into the trip!  Undoubtedly it will return, but I'm enjoying its absence while it lasts.

After my last post (which was mysteriously deleted but was undoubtedly a brilliant piece of writing so just remember it that way), the trip continued on in full steam.  I meant to post again during the trip instead of waiting until returning home, but when I was too busy doing all the things and eating all the food, I was too tired from doing all the things and eating all the food to think about putting together a coherent post.  So here it is, I'll try to not be TOO long-winded (I said I'd try, not that I'd succeed).

On my birthday we took an early ferry over to Salt Spring Island where we explored the market, ate some delicious food, visited some shops (yes, including some that sold yarn), and took a drive up to the top of Mount Maxwell.  From there we took in the view, which didn't suck.

After heading back to Victoria we went for dinner with an old friend of mine, who surprised me with the best cake of all time!  It was also delicious.

Early Monday morning we caught the ferry to Vancouver, rented a car, and drove down to Everett in Washington so the Enabler could start doing his business-y things.  While he was busy, I amused myself by wandering around the Future of Flight museum.  One of the most interesting things I learned is that the carbon fiber parts used in airplanes are basically made of yarn.  Well ok, thread.  Carbon thread that gets layered into a mold and filled with epoxy and baked or something, but it still starts out as thread on a spool!  I think it would be fun to try to knit something with it.

After he was done we headed into Seattle and checked into our hotel downtown to freshen up before walking around downtown a little and having a delicious dinner at the Metropolitan Grill. (Dinner not pictured because we were too busy eating for me to remember to take a picture).

The next day I struck out on my own to Bainbridge Island.  When I was trying to take a picture of the Seattle skyline, I got photobombed by a seagull.

I wandered around the island, which included a visit to another yarn store.  I also explored a number of the other shops and stopped for lunch at the Madison Diner (which was featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a number of years ago.  It was delicious). 

Once I had pretty much exhausted things to do on foot on the island, I started to head back to the ferry, but got sidetracked by an art gallery on the way.  Admission was free, so obviously I had to stop and check it out.  After exploring the whole gallery and the gift shop, I headed back out to the ferry.  Unfortunately I hadn't bothered to check the schedule at all, and got there when the ferry was still there, but about a minute too late to actually get on it.

Back in Seattle (after a 45 minute wait for the ferry and a 30 minute ferry ride), I learned the hard way about cities built on hills.  I, of course, have lived on the prairie my whole life, and have come to take the flatness of the place I live for granted.  After getting off the ferry and taking the pedestrian overpass which goes over the road that is closest to the waterfront, I was on 1st Ave.  My hotel was on 4th Ave.  Only 3 blocks up, and a few blocks over.  The blocks over only had a slight incline, however each of the blocks up climbed between 3 and 4 stories.  A building built over the whole block would start on the 1st floor on one side, and the 4th or 5th floor on the other side.  I can still hardly believe it.  I honestly couldn't figure out how people survive it.

I did make it back to the hotel in one piece (albeit a rather sore and tired piece), and after changing and a short rest, the Enabler and I headed out to find dinner, and ended up in the Pike Place Market area.  This is when I realized that the climb from the ferry terminal to the hotel was far steeper than the one from the market to the hotel, even though they were both on 1st Ave.  I made a mental note of the blocks that had the worst climbs and decided to avoid them in the future.

In wandering around the market to find our dinner destination, we came across the Gum Wall in Post Alley.  I still can't wrap my head around this one.  It was kind of neat, but also really gross.  It smelled of artificial fruit flavour.

The next day I wandered around downtown Seattle.  I visited the Olympic Sculpture Garden, another yarn store, and took in the views on Pier 66.

I explored Pike Place Market a bit and saw the long line of people waiting to get into the original Starbucks, but passed it all by.  I was tired and hot by that time, so I went to a (much quieter) coffee shop near my hotel and recharged a bit.

That evening after dinner, we went to check out the Seattle Central Library, which was the inspiration for the Koolhaas hat pattern by Jared Flood.

On Thursday we made our way back to Vancouver where we visited another yarn store, and had a lovely visit and dinner with my uncle and cousin.  Then Friday was the flight home, snuggling with kitties, and unpacking.

Unpacking was a bit... surprising.  I did mention that I visited a few yarn stores, didn't I?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

So far

So it seems that this post somehow reverted back to a draft with only the pictures, and everything I initially wrote is now gone.  I don't remember what I wrote about but here are the pictures that were included in the original post:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Two days

That's how many days I have before we leave on our vacation!  And also the number of days I have left to get all my $#!T together.

Fortunately, I have accomplished one of my goals already.  I have taken the pile of blocks that were pictured in last week's post, and turned them into a blanket.  I already mentioned that it is for a co-worker who is due in a month, and leaving for maternity leave in three weeks.  A few months ago, one of my work friends suggested to me and two others that we team up and knit a blanket as a present.  She found the pattern (Giggles Mitered Squares blanket) and gave us each a ball of yarn from her stash to start knitting blocks.  The four of us, each with very different levels of knitting experience, knit a whole mess of blocks, until we had enough.  I volunteered myself to put the whole thing together, however this was back when I thought I was going to have a week at home after coming back from Victoria.  So when the trip to Seattle got scheduled, I realized I had to get it done before leaving, since I wouldn't have time to do it after getting back.

Over the last week I powered through and sewed together all of the blocks, and last night I did a simple single crochet row around the edge.  I also realized that instead of weaving in all of the ends left from sewing it all together, I could just crochet them right into the border.  It seemed to work pretty well, although I really hope that it doesn't literally fall apart at the seams. *knock on wood*

I'm pretty happy with the finished blanket.  Not all of the blocks are perfect, and they weren't all quite the same size, but somehow when it's all sewn together you can't even tell.  I think (and also hope) that the new mommy-to-be will love it.

Once that was done, the next most pressing thing for me was to figure out what knitting I'm going to bring with me on the trip!  I have to bring more than one thing, of course, because I know me, and I won't want to be knitting the same thing the whole time.  I'll bring along Vulpix (the shawl for the Enabler) as I'm making good progress on that and want to keep going, and I will also start some early gift knitting.  But that's not enough for a wooloholic like me, obviously.  Most of the other projects I've got going on aren't great for travel, so I need to start something new for myself.  Each project needs its own bag, though, and I couldn't find any empty ones.

The first course of action was to empty out my knitting bag completely.  This is akin to emptying out your purse, but worse.  I guess it depends on the size of your purse, but no matter how big or small, there's going to be a few things in there that you didn't realize were there, and probably a number of things that should just be thrown out or put away.  However, I use my purse every day and I'm usually pretty aware of what's actually in there.  When emptying out my knitting bag I found patterns for things I finished knitting ages ago, a homemade pom-pom maker, stitch markers I thought I'd lost, at least three pads of paper and about four pens, a couple of project bags with things in them that I haven't knit on in awhile, and so on and so forth.  Once I had all of it pulled out of the bag I realized that I had a pile of patterns and other stuff on my side table as well, so I had to clean that up too.  And THEN I noticed my old knitting bag in the corner and I figured I should empty that out as well, and basically I was spiralling down the rabbit hole for awhile.

In the old knitting bag I found a project bag, and the only thing in it was a cowl thing epic failure of an experiment that I had knit well over a year ago and never got around to wearing blocking burning.  I used a couple of balls of Noro Kureyon to knit it, and I have more of each colour in my stash still, so I decided to frog it instead of burning it.  I mean, it's still Noro.

I don't know what I will do with the reclaimed yarn, but I'm fine to keep it in my stash for now.  And I now have another project bag to put a new project in.  Success!

After finishing that, and putting all of the scattered patterns into the right pattern binder, I set about picking the project and the yarn.  I've been wanting to make Viajante ever since the pattern came out, and I ordered yarn for it a few months ago.  As the designer says in the description, "viajante" is Portuguese for "traveller".  If there is anything more perfect to knit while travelling, I don't know what it would be.  It's over 1.5 kilometres of knitting, no purling required at all.  Beautiful, simple, relaxing, meditative, knitting.  I pulled out the yarn (tosh lace, colour way: fjord), and noticed a problem.

Do you see it?  The bottom/left yarn has distinctly more brown/white in it than the top/right yarn.  They are the same dye lot, but with hand-dyed yarns, there can still be a lot of variation between skeins.  The way around it is to alternate skeins through the whole piece, but that would make my simple, relaxing, meditative knitting somewhat less simple, relaxing and meditative.  Not badly so, but I just really wanted to only juggle one ball of yarn at a time.  Every project I'm knitting lately has two or three balls of yarn to manage at one time, and I didn't want to add another one.  I posted my conundrum on Instagram, and someone helpfully suggested that I unwind them and check out what they look like when they're not wound into a skein... so I did.

It's better.  I can still tell a bit of a difference, but it's not so bad.  It's just going to be for me, anyway. If this was going to be a gift I might worry a little more, but when it's just for me it doesn't seem to matter so much.  The things I make for myself can't be TOO nice, otherwise people might start bugging me to make stuff for them, too.  Ick.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Four days

That's how many more work days I have left to get through before I have vacation for two whole glorious weeks.  Considering I haven't had a day off since last November, two weeks of vacation seems incredible and I am very excited.

The Enabler's cousin is getting married next week, and the wedding is in Victoria, so we'll be flying out there for the wedding and to visit family and spend some time exploring Vancouver Island.  I've been there a few times now but the plan is to go to a few places I haven't been to before (and some yarn shops that I HAVE been to before and can attest to their loveliness), so I'm really looking forward to that.

The original plan was that after spending some time on the island we were going to come back home.  I had two weeks booked off (hubby just had one) and the second week I planned to just relax and take care of some things and go for walks and generally enjoy Winnipeg in the summer.  Then a couple of weeks ago, the Enabler found out that he was going on a business trip to Seattle the week after we were going to Victoria.  My initial thought process went like this:  

"Man, that's a lot of back and forth flying for him, that kind of sucks.  Wait, that means that I'm going to have a week off work and also be at home by myself?  That REALLY sucks!  What am I going to do by myself for a whole week with no work to distract me?"

I voiced my concerns, and he just said "Or, we could rebook both our flights home to a week later, and you could come with me to Seattle..."

I swear, he's brilliant.  One of the many reasons why I married him.

So now my vacation is extra exciting, as I've never been to Seattle but have always wanted to go.  Even more so since the Enabler brought me back amazing wool and fibre from a few different stores in and around Seattle from his first business trip there.

It's also a little extra scary (but just a tiny bit), because while he's busy during the days doing business-y things, I'm going to be left to my own devices.  I've never explored a new city by myself before, so I'm not sure what to expect.  I don't think I'll actually get scared, but if I do I'll just have to remind myself that I explored Europe for six weeks when I was 19, with two other 19 year olds, and no cell phones or electronic devices to help navigate.  I should be fine on my own for three measly days.

Before we go, though, I have some things to finish!  I have to want to finish spinning this up:

I have one bobbin done, and I'm halfway through the second.  This is a 150 gram braid of merino that I bought at StevenBe on our trip to Minneapolis last year.  Because it's so huge, I decided to spin it slightly thicker than what I was aiming for when I was doing the Tour de Fleece, for a few reasons.  I didn't want to be spinning forever and ever and ever was one, but also I thought it would look great as a dk-worsted weight yarn.  The other thing is that I've gotten pretty good at spinning evenly when I'm trying to spin as finely as possible, but I want to be able to make evenly spun thicker yarn as well.  It doesn't look that much thicker than what I did during the tour, but a tiny difference in the size of one single makes a bigger difference when it's two singles plied together.  Also it's merino and I think it poofs up a bunch after it's washed.

Unfortunately, I think the fibre got slightly felted during the dyeing process, so it's not as easy to draft as what I've gotten used to.  It still works though, and I'm cheap enough that I'm not willing to let it go to waste, especially when the colours are so delicious!

I didn't try fractal spinning this one at all.  Not after last time.  I'm just spinning it up kind of randomly because I don't want the plies to match up.  I'm hoping that it will end up looking fun and colourful and random, and not like a toucan in a blender.

I have one other thing to finish before leaving.  This is what it looks like now:

Hopefully in less than a week it will look like a finished baby blanket for a co-worker who is due in a month.  I've heard there are cobbler elves who finish all of the shoes in the nighttime, so there must be sewing elves that sew things up for you in your sleep too, right?  I guess I'll just have to wait and see.