Thursday, September 25, 2008

Santa Cruz'n



If I'd known the beach was only about 30 minutes from here I would have gone a lot more over the years. Although the drive down Highway 17 to get there would be a lot nicer without the maniac drivers...and I wasn't even going with the regular rush hour traffic. Of course I went on a Wednesday afternoon, not a weekend when I'm sure both the drive down and the beach are more crowded.

I'd been planning to go to the beach and today was hot. I also felt the need for a little reward because this morning I went through the bags of junk I brought home from my old office. I was able to condense all of it into one small box, ready to move to my next office, whenever and wherever that may be. Taking a cue from the organization and "clean house" shows on TV, I labeled 5 grocery bags with: trash, recycle, keep, donate, and sell. In the end the "keep" and "recycle" bags were full...not so much in the others. I'm still feeling weird about taking a break from work, so going through the stuff was a little hard. Part of me wants to go back to work right now because that's all I know but part of me is also enjoying the time off.

The beach was pretty empty. Being that it's late September, there were few tourists. I almost got to watch someone get arrested though. Santa Cruz unfortunately has a large population of homeless and drug addicts and one young kid, who was no doubt affected by some substance, was walking along the beach yelling, waving his arms, and barking like a sea lion (lots of sea lions hang out on the Santa Cruz pier and from the beach you can hear them barking). If the kid was just acting out, oblivious to others, that would have been one thing, but he was yelling at people. He wasn't swearing but yelling at them to "go in the water", for example. I think some people got nervous when a group of young girls, about 8-ish, all stopped their play in the surf and stared at him as he walked by. Fortunately he didn't interact with them but afterwards I noticed two cops on the beach waiting for him to come in from the water. He eventually came out and the cops walked with him and talked to him and then tried to restrain him. He freaked out and got away and the two cops, along with two others who showed up, started to make chase but then stopped and let him go. Drama on the beach!

Other than the impromptu episode of Cops, I just sat in my beach chair and knitted a sock for about an hour and a half. I'm sure other people on the beach thought I was strange for knitting on the beach. One guy approached me and I was expecting him to say something about my knitting but he asked if I knew where he could change his clothes. I suggested the bathroom in the Arcade and afterwards realized that he might have been expecting there to be cabanas like on European beaches. I'm just guessing because he had a Scandinavian accent and looked surprised that I'd suggest a bathroom for him to use as a changing room.

Afterward I walked on the pier and had a bowl of clam chowder and an ice cream and watched the sea lions lounge about. We like to call the sea lions "sea cats" because they are fat and sleep a lot and have whiskers.

Since I've not spent much time in the area (and yet it's only 30 minutes away!), I drove along the coast to Capitola to check out its beaches. The beach area is very quaint with little shops near the beach and it seems like there's very little parking nearby, though there were signs about a larger parking lot somewhere else. But since it's post-season I easily found a parking space. I fed the meter a few more quarters and dragged out my beach chair for 20 minutes more beach time. The ocean was extremely calm today so the waves weren't roaring. I do love a roaring surf, but the gentle swish-swish of the tiny waves today was nice too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Knitting projects in all stages

First we have a finished project (hooray!):

Bonita finished

and the back view...

Bonita

Pattern: Bonita from Rowan magazine #41
Yarn: Artfibers Rush in colorway #1 (green/gold); 7 skeins used
Needle size: US 2 and US 4
Started March 2007 and finished Sept 2008

Here's a picture of my current project, Jaywalker socks in Blue Moon Fiber's Socks that Rock, colorway is "Lucy." This was taken during our little vacation to the northern California coast and redwoods. We stayed at a hotel just over the border in Oregon and right on the coast - this was from our balcony.


Jaywalker


I'm to the heel on the second sock and have discovered that I will run out of yarn before I finish it (rats!). I think if I rip the toe of the first sock and redo it in a complimentary color I should have enough yarn to get to the toe of the second sock (and of course do the toe of sock #2 in the complimentary color). Naturally I don't have a complimentary color in the same weight yarn in my stash so it looks like these socks won't get done for a bit. I'd buy more yarn but here is what I added to my stash as a result of the LYS Yarn Hop. Yikes. More projects.


I had a great time shopping (and hopping). All of the stores had special 1-skein projects with a free pattern. I ended up buying 6 of those although I may not use the yarn for the intended project. Most of the projects were hats, socks or small bags, as expected since that's about what you can do with one skein. It was fun to visit all of the shops and I really enjoyed my trip down to Carmel and Pacific Grove. Here's a picture of where I ate my lunch in Pacific Grove.

Pacific Grove

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm on a break!

I'm taking a break from work, not from this blog, although my lack of posts in the last couple weeks sure makes it look that way. And I'm not just on a coffee break while I write this blog entry. I'm talking about a real break. The contract I was working on for over 5 years ended last Friday...successfully, I might add. There isn't other work for me right now and that's ok because I can really use a break. I'm hoping I can have a few months off, nothing more than that and I really hope nothing comes up too soon...like next week or something. I have a gazillion things I want to do in addition to recharging my mental self.

My first week of non-work has been quite busy. Actually I'm using up vacation hours, so I'm not really unemployed yet.

Monday I drove my husband to the airport and stopped by the hardware store afterward. In addition to some grass seed/fertilizer/mulch mix which I plan to use to fix the bare spots in the front yard (plain 'ole grass seed didn't seem to work), I bought a beach chair that was on sale since it's post-season. I hope to spend some time with my feet in the sand, hearing waves crash and the seagulls laugh, smelling the salty air, and relaxing with a book, my knitting, or just watching the ocean. I did get to the beach this week but I didn't get to use my chair - more on that later. Monday night I went to my knitting guild meeting and learned how to read cables (and cable charts) from Cookie A.

Tuesday I stayed at home and it was insightful. I don't believe I've ever taken a vacation day where I just stayed home by myself. An entire day without going anywhere, where I wasn't sick or working from home. It felt odd and I wasn't sure what to do with myself (despite the gazillion things I want to do). That night I dreamed that I found a new contract I was eager to work on. Off work for two days and I'm already dreaming about going back. Pathetic, I know. It was a productive day though. I did a bit of cleaning and some laundry - I've decided that unless I'm out of the house all day I'm going to spend an hour cleaning or fixing something in the house. It'll be fine if the hour turns into a bigger project because sometimes I just need to get started, but if all I can manage is an hour, that'll be fine too. I didn't want to overdo it on Tuesday so after about an hour of cleaning I rewarded myself by sitting down to finish a sweater I've been wanting to get to. I only had to sew up two side seams but it was tedious work and I of course wanted it perfect. The rest of the day was "wasted" on the computer playing games (guilt-free solitaire!), reading blogs, and just surfing.

Wednesday spinnity and I went to San Francisco to the Legion of Honor Museum to see the Women Impressionists Exhibit. The exhibit features works by Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzal├Ęs, and Marie Bracquemond. I really enjoyed seeing their paintings and getting a peek at how they viewed the world around them. My favorite style of painting is actually the realism of Flemish 16th century artists, such as Bruegel, but I do enjoy the mood conveyed by Impressionistic art. I'm always amazed at how a few brush strokes can look like paint smears up close but step back and you see so much more, even more than the image the paint is replicating.

Wednesday night was a knitting meetup and I finally had something for "show and tell" - the sweater I finished on Tuesday. I took pictures of it (Bonita, from Rowan magazine #41) this morning and will post them soon...I promise. I'm just too tired tonight to mess with photos and write anything about the sweater or the knitting.

I'm tired because today (Thursday) I drove all over the place to visit yarn stores as part of the Peninsula to Pier LYS Shop Hop. No, I don't need more yarn and yes, it was impossible not to buy any, but I figured that since I wasn't working and it was a nice day, I should give it a go. The idea is to visit each of the 19 shops and get a "passport" book stamped at each store. As an incentive, there's a drawing for a grand prize of $500 if you get all the stamps. While that would be nice to win, I must be practical and look at it more as an incentive to visit stores I have not been to and probably woudn't visit because I have shops closer to me. So today I set my course for the stores located south of here in Carmel, Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz. I did the hop on my own partly because I was on a mission to try to do all 19 stores today and tomorrow and partly because I just wanted some alone time (but not alone in the house) to go and do whatever I please. And I had fun! In Pacific Grove I ate my lunch at a picnic table with a gorgeous view of the ocean and drove the twisty windy road through the redwood trees to visit a store in Felton. I took the long way back via Highway 1 so that I could savor the late afternoon sun over the ocean. I managed to squeeze in three more stores by closing time. Actually the last one was a few minutes after. I saw there were other shoppers (hoppers, actually) in the store and even though the sign said "closed" the door wasn't locked and they happily stamped my book and chatted with me about yarn. Knitters and yarn store owners are, with very few exceptions I've found, very nice people.

On Friday I hope to run around and visit the remaining 10 stores. Fortunately all of them are much closer. I also know where they all are because I've been to all of them before. Another good thing is that because they're closer, I won't feel like I have to buy the gorgeous yarn I see because I know that if I really want it I can get back to the store without driving a great distance. Maybe I'll leave the credit cards at home just to be safe.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Update on my projects

I'm *this* close to finishing the top for my outfit and will post pictures and reviews of all three pieces when the top is done. But I'm having some issues with hemming the sleeves on the top and I won't have any time in the next week or so to work on it so don't expect any pictures or reviews until late next week at the earliest. I thought I'd just turn the edge of the sleeve under and stitch it down (I plan to coverstitch), as it appears the pattern calls for - remember, the instructions are in French! But I guess I didn't add the seam allowances correctly. The sleeves are not separate pieces and are just little extensions on the front and back pieces, but somehow the transition from the 1/4 inch side seam to the 1/2 inch hem I wanted on the sleeves is not working out. I might explore what it would look like if I bound the sleeve edge, like I bound the neck edge. The top is the last piece to my outfit that consists of a tiered skirt, which was a UFO started 2 summers ago, and a knit bolero top. I really wanted to get them done to wear next week, but that's not looking likely with this sleeve problem.

It's football season (Go Nittany Lions!) so that means lots of knitting while the games are on. I'm almost finished the first of a pair of socks in the "Jaywalker" pattern. I know I should be seaming one of the almost-finished sweaters I knit but I hate seaming.

I may have a lot more time on my hands over the next few months, which would be a good thing. I have so many projects and it'll be nice to have time to work on them. Maybe I'll actually get those sweaters finished!