Friday, October 11, 2013

There's a First Time for Everything...


I ran out of yarn for my project last night. You remember the Terra I blogged so fondly about just a few days ago? Back when I was fancy and knitting free, I didn't have a single care in the world. I was going to get it done that very night & regain control over some of my sanity, something that just wasn't in the cards.

And then it all came back to me. Sitting in Hidden River Yarns with K Furst & Lisa, figuring out just what exactly I was going to do with all my new yarn. I bought for Juneberry thinking that the yardage for both was similar enough.

Well, it's not.

I have about 12 rows and a bind-off to go. Somewhere, deep in the pits of my ungodly stash back home, there is another skein of this yarn with (potentially) the same dye lot. Cross your fingers I can find it, but, based on the state in which I left my stash before moving, that is so much easier said than done.

Please say a little knitter's pray for me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Gray Day

I'm feeling very overwhelmed by everything I'm making lately. I'm pleased to report that I only have three-fourish knitting WIPs right now, but, unfortunately for me, they are all active and they are all large. I hate the feeling that the end is not in sight and that is exactly how I feel right now. And, while I love gray, it doesn't help that it seems like all of my WIPs are grayish in hue and all my happy FOs of late have been pink and cute. Sigh.
Terra by Jared Flood
The first WIP I'm chugging along on is Terra by Jared Flood. Terra (and it's distant cousin Shaelyn) has as been in my queue since it was first released. My friend Lizzie is getting married in just over a week(!!!) and since it's in Chicago and on a boat, I decided I needed to have a shawl to wear with my bridesmaids dress. I was torn between the beautiful Juneberry Triangle & Terra, but I decided to be realistic about this (I'm also "designing"/improvising her wedding present) and went for Terra. What I love about it is that it's simple enough to wear with jeans, but that pop of lace at the edge means it can be worn to fancier occasions. I just started the lace section last night, so I'm *hoping* I can finish and block it before I head back to Illinois on Saturday.

I bought the yarn (Stonehedge Shepherd's Worsted) while I was in Philly and I love, love, love it. This is my second time using it, but it will be my first actual FO. The other project I'm using it for is lost at home somewhere and was meant to be my Rhinebeck shawl this year, but it will have to wait until next year. I will finish it by then! I will! I'm surprised by how soft and squishy this yarn is. It's borderline ridiculous considering it was only $12.something for 250 yards. Ridic, right? This shawl might be mostly garter, but the sequence is just different enough to keep you interested. 

Timberline by Jared Flood
I've also started Matt's anniversary present (7 is the wool year!), but it's such a big endeavor that I can't really dedicate much time to it right now. The domestic war that I mentioned yesterday doesn't help, but it will pass and (hopefully) I will be excited about this project again. I know that if/when I finish this sweater, it will be the most beautiful thing I've ever knit. The fact that it's not for me isn't a huge issue, because I will get to look at it and feel pride & love whenever Matt wears it. Today was finally a cold day in California (and rain is in the forecast!), so Matt wore his Brownstone to work today. I love how much he loves it. Maybe someday he will get socks, but I feel that might be our sweater curse endgame.

Excuse my half-gone toenail polish
Ok, I shouldn't claim that all of my current WIPs are neverending. I went to a new knitting group last week at the Alamitos Bay Yarn Co Annex. This group was completely new, but the turnout was pretty great, so I'm hopeful it will stick around. The group? Dedicated to knitting socks! I started two pairs while I was there, but quickly shifted my focus to one over the other. These started as just ribbed socks, but when I didn't really know which heel to do, I was delighted to see that there is a simple (and free!) 3x1 ribbed sock pattern on Ravelry (of course there is one!). I knit my last pair of socks in about 4 days, so I guess that's why I'm thinking this pair is neverending. 

The other thing is the yarn. Well. I'm not in love with it. One day, not too long ago, Matt gave me a giftcard and let me go to town on Etsy. I hemed and hawed for hours over which skeins of mystery sock yarn I would buy myself because they had to be perfect. I discovered Purple Goddess Design and knew that I needed to buy all of the yarn a skein from her. I seriously had 8 skeins in my cart and it was crazy hard to narrow it down to one. I finally settled on Pretty Japanese Ladies in Twisted Fingers and...I just don't love it. I'm not ready to write this dyer off on a whole, but I don't think I'll be purchasing that base again. Maybe next time I'll try one of the bases with a little more twist to them.

I've also gotten the cross-stitch bug and oh my god these will take me forever. I decided to design myself a little Heisenberg face to help ease the mourning period of a post-Breaking Bad world. But then I realized that I actually should have used more than one color for him and that his hat/glasses kind of take over the whole design. Long story short is that I ran out of room for his beard and now it looks like some weird Fu Manchu mess. So finishing that guy up is low on my priority totem pole right now, especially since my heart belongs to another.

Yes, that is Winnie Sanderson from Hocus Pocus. What better way to celebrate my FAVORITE Halloween movie of all time? Isn't she adorable? Seriously. I wish I was faster at this because I want this to be done right now. I guess I can enjoy her next year. The pattern is available from Pixel Power Design, but beware! That site just might steal all of your money.

One last gray swatch before I get back to work. Loving this so much.

P.S. it actually IS going to rain. First day storm since I moved to California nearly 3 months ago. Oh, happy day!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Knitting Away: Portland(ia)

Last weekend I went to Portland and got into some serious trouble. Like, seriously.

Portland, this is why we can't be friends.
Portland was never one of the placed I lumped into my "I want to live here without ever visiting here," lists. Seattle was forever the only PNW city on that list and that was mostly because of how overly hyped Portland is. And, let's be real, it's got that crazy hipster level 9000 thing going on and that has greatly deterred me from ever wanting to go to there. Somewhere along the line that changed and, since I live on the West Coast now, why not? My flight was less than $200 and I was there in about an two hours. Times like this makes me want a job & disposable income again. Le sigh.

So yes, this Portland was never on "the list," though the other Portland was. The funny thing with "the list" is that I have since ruled out most of the cities on it in the past two years. (Other) Portland, San Francisco, Boston, in face the only place on the list that I didn't rule out was Seattle. And then I had to go & visit Portland and fall in love a little bit.

I strategically planned our visit over Oregon Flock & Fiber weekend. I'll be in Chicago for the last half of October, so I'll be missing ladies weekend at Rhinebeck. I decided OFFF would be my Autumnal fiber festival for the year, so I booked our trip and the excitement started, but I tried to keep my feet on the ground. This was Portlandia! Don't get too excited.

But it was wonderful! Portland was everything I had hoped for and more. And it rained the whole time!

I left a few hours before Matt did so that I could get the lay of the land & attend a local knitting circle. Public transit was great and it only cost me like $2 bucks to get from the airport to my airbnb (first/great experience) across the river. We ended up staying in the Nob Hill neighborhood and I could have easily spent a few days just exploring the blocks around where we stayed. So many restaurants & even a distillery! It's one of the safer/more expensive areas of Portland, so I'll probably not be living there anytime soon. Though I would love to. 

Like I said, it rained the whole time we were there and I was actually very happy about that. I haven't seen real rain in MONTHS and I'm the kind of person who enjoys opening the windows & curling up during a rainstorm. Out airbnb didn't have a tv, which I was kind of kicking myself over since our trip also coincided with the Breaking Bad finale, but oh well. It was lovely and it gave me a lot of time to read, knit & enjoy the rain. Look at those windows! 

Once I got settled in, I headed to the first stop on my "Ashley Tackles Portland" list: Deschutes brewing! The actual brewery is located in Bend, Oregon, which is several miles away (and on the Bend Ale Trail), so I had to "settle" for the brewpub in the Pearl District. Everything I tasted while there was amazing! Everything they serve in their restaurant uses local ingredients & is made from scratch (I think?). And it's easy to overdo it with your drinks because they have something like 20 beers on taps. I was lucky enough to arrive on the first day of their Fresh Hop Festival, so I nestled into a table and ordered a Fresh Hop Octoberfest with Pear (Washington pears!), goat cheese and hazelnut pizza. That shit was redonk!

Matt & I ate that pizza for the next two meals & I was still ready to go back for more. I powered through another beer (Fresh Hop Pale) and made my way to knitting night down the street at Pearl Fiber Arts, a place not originally on the list. And boy am I glad to have added it! Once I saw the wall of "souvenir yarn"I knew I was in the right place. They carry a lot of Portland area yarns, which is perfect since that's exactly what I wanted. I ended up buying a skein of Bumblebirch Heartwood in the gorgeous Mineral colorway and grabbed the last seat for knitting circle. And everyone was SO nice. It's always hard to just jump in with groups like that, where these people have known eachother for years, but they all made me feel welcome and not at all out of place. I only managed to chat with one or two of the ladies, but everybody made sure to say goodbye as I was leaving...with another skein that had been staring at me since I sat down. 

Being a knitter is hard, you guys.

By then it was time to meet Matt for a late snack at the Whiskey Kitchen down the street. Over 100 whiskeys with an all BBQ menu. We may have gone there twice over the long weekend. Whoops? I had my first Old Fashioned and felt like the fanciest of ladies. Matt had the Fremont whiskey from Washington (like the troll) and I even managed to enjoy it :) All in all we were fans of Southland

This is not an Old Fashioned
The next day was all about me. Matt requested to work remotely for the day, so I took on the city by myself. I decided to cross the river and work my way back to where we were staying. First stop? Happy Knits, the happiest knitting store in the world (ok maybe not, but it was pretty great). And, once again, they were all so nice! I spent like 30 minutes chatting with the girl who worked there and wish I had gotten her Ravelry name. Needless to say I got into some trouble.

Black Trillium, Black Trillium, Sunshine Yarns, Madtosh in "Happiness"
Yeah. They have their own Madelinetosh color. Black Trillium is another local dyer and the colors were so amazing. I could have easily snatched up 10 skeins of each base (here I have one sock & one worsted), but I wanted to pace myself as best I could. Meaning I shouldn't have even gone there, right? Right. While I shopped, the rain continued to come down and luckily for me the next stop was just a few blocks away. 

Oh you know. Just a little bookcase in the middle of nowhere

I hadn't heard of Cascade Brewing until somewhat recently, which isn't terribly surprising since I just started to like Sours within the past year. Cascade Brewing brews primarily sour beers and when I saw the tap list I about lost my mind. Do I order the one with the same name as my cat? The one with blueberries? Blackberries? This one sounds awesome! Then I realized they had a Live Barrel list, so obviously I had to go for one of those. I opted for a glass of the Cherry Vlad, something that I will probably never have the joy of tasting again. Bourbon & Cherry sour. Yummm. I also had what is potentially the best clam chowdah of my life. Better than MAINE CHOWDAH? Possibly. And, again, everyone was so nice.

The rest of the day was spent buying more yarn from a shop with a whole wall of Indie Dyed sock yarns INCLUDING Plucky (Twisted, we cannot be friends), falling in love with the most adorable trash cat who claimed me as his, prime bar seats on a Friday night at Deschutes & dinner at The Gilt Club, where Peter & Nance met Colin the chicken on the first episode of Portlandia. I ordered the chicken & was not impressed. Oh, and another trip to the Whiskey Kitchen.

Colin wasn't in. Once again, they were so nice.
The next day there was, you guessed it, more rain. I know I rag on Matt a lot and, as we are currently embroiled in a domestic war, I should note that he's still pretty great sometimes. Like when he rents a car and drives me to a wool festival in the middle of nowhere, Oregon. And then buys me yarn. Oregon Flock & Fiber Fest was much bigger than I was expecting. I've only been to a few festivals before (Rhinebeck, Maryland Sheep & Wool, Garden State Sheep & Wool), so I know the quality can vary a bit. I was impressed! The turnout was HUGE and though they didn't have crazy big barns like Rhinebeck, they had so many beautiful yarns to choose from. And the animals! 

I was actually pretty excited about getting Matt to go with me. He's never been to a wool festival and, though he doesn't knit, I knew he would love the animals. And he had a great time petting them. Every time I turned around, I would hear a, "Dear come here! Look at this goat! Look at those horns! Aw that one is so cute!" or something of that nature. I'm really glad he got some joy out of going with me. Who doesn't love farm animals? And I'm glad I never have to hide my stash or downplay my crazy around him. 

Portland, you stole my heart and my money. I still had another day and a half (Matt left early), but it was really more of the same. After lunch at the cutest pumpkin patch, I subjected Matt to yarn photos & general nerdery, as we do. We spent the rest of the night exploring 23rd street, starting with Bull Run Distilling (again. So nice) & Beer Flights at Lompoc Tavern and ending with the best gingerbread dessert in all of creation. Red wine soaked gingerbread with pears & vanilla ice cream. Yum. Yum. Yum. Oh and a nap because all that rain & beer? Ashley got tired.

Free tastings during the day. The only one I wasn't sold on was Pacific Rum, but I'm not much of a rum person. We left with a bottle of Aria gin, which is delightful with tonic and lime. The woman working there chatted with us for 20 minutes about what to do with the rest of our time.

Seasonal Tasting at Lompoc, where pints are $3
(Lompoc would be my Cheers if I lived there. They brew their own beers & have $2.50 on Miser Mondays. How sweet is that? And they're all good!)

After my nap I got a second wind (at 10pm), so we wandered down the street to the breakfast joint my airbnb host had told me about. Sure enough, they were out of most of the beers on their menu and some of the desserts. Lucky for me the one that I wanted, that gingerbread mess I described above, was still available. I'm still having dreams about it. No lie. We headed back to our place & passed out for the night. Matt left the next morning and I continued to lose my mind: Stumptown, Powell's (!!!!) & Rogue brewing. It was a peaceful and lovely final day to myself. I'm glad I stayed. 

In summation. Portland, I loved you and your people. We could be friends, maybe, if 1. I had a job & 2. You had less yarn. Someday you could be home. Because I kind of fell in love with you, just a little bit. Even with the rain.

P.S. Knitters, I am glad to "take one for the team" and buy all of the sock yarn to test for you. Expect links & reviews soon since I LOVE socks now. Finished my first pair in Portland & halfway done with my second pair.