Vacation, Los Angeles

*More vacation information, sorry to say this will continue next week as well.  In two more weeks I will get back into crafting.  Hang in there!*

For the second part of our vacation, and yes there is a third part, my sibling and I flew into Los Angeles.  We arrived at our hotel and spent a very nice afternoon discovering where we could eat near our hotel and looking around. I had a Bahn Mi at a Vietnamese restaurant, and now I know if I order one I need to ask them to leave off the Cilantro.  I picked up a bottle of a peach green tea was amazing, though boba is not my favorite thing at this point.  The Lychee Ramune had little to no flavor, so it was not really worth the sugars.

Our second day was spent exploring Little Tokyo as well as hitting Gather DTLA which is a yarn store.  I will admit, my sibling and I get along in short bursts.  Since I am an introvert by nature and my sibling tends to need to be ‘in control’ yet dislikes making plans we tend to get on each other’s nerves after a short time.  This was our last day spent constantly in each other company, however one day apart was enough to reset my good humors.  On this second day we went  to a fascinating little mall and hada ton of fun.  They had an amazing bookstore with a selection of journals, paper, pens, and other stationary that easily rivaled jetpens.com.  I had been wanting to try different pens for quite some time, however I could not bring myself to pay the shipping and handling.  All of the pen brands I had been wanting to try, as well as some that I had not heard of, were represented in this little store.  I also splurged and obtained some beautiful notebooks to write and draw in, as well as some watercolor pencils and appropriate paper.  I did insist that we go to Gather DTLA, a yarn store that had been raved about on Ravelry.  This little store, above a bookstore, was certainly tried.  The proprietress was a lovely woman that, when I made a purchase I will describe shortly, gave me a pin from the store’s yarn crawl which I was a couple of weeks too late for, as well as a plastic tapestry needle.  I found the selection to be quite poor, however as I said, they had just been through a yarn crawl and may have been understandably depleted.  I did purchase a skein of pink yarn with purple flecks called Flamingo by Elevate fibers and a cement bowl to hold accessories.  I later found out that my one of my pens wrote on the cement bowl beautifully so I can remember where and when I obtained it.  Other than the disappointment of the bookstore that Gather DTLA was found in, my fraying temper, and the discovery that my sibling’s idea of ‘exploring’ is wandering over the same three blocks five or six times to find something that a little research or a willingness to use google maps would have led us to much faster. I explained that I’m overweight and wanted to see more than a few blocks, so we decided to part ways for the next day.  (Alright, there were more raised voices involved.)

The next day started out lovely.  We had decided to part ways after breakfast.  The only unfortunate aspect was that since it was Memorial Day only one of the two yarn shops I wanted to go to would be open.  We had breakfast at the In-n-Out, where I had an amazing Double-Double burger that tasted like a steak burger.  I then went to Wollhaus yarns which had an amazing variety of yarns from all sorts of dyers. I found several skeins I loved, managed to find one in the colors that my best fiber friend would like, as well as a half-priced skein of Sweet Georgia yarn.  It had obviously been mishandled but a little work put it to rights again.  IN addition to the yarn I also picked up two stitch markers, one for my friend and I, with the Wollhaus design on them, and a slap bracelet with a magnet for holding scissors and stitch markers.  Down the street from Wollhaus was a lovely bookstore where I found a pair of sherlock socks, I read Past my Bedtime pins, Book Wyrm Pins, a garden journal, as well as an amazing book on Knitting Modular Shawls, Stoles, and Wraps.  Every time I get a cappuccino in LA I forget that these are real espresso cappuccino’s without any additions.  However the Sangria Nata De Coco Peach is amazing and tastes just like peach nectar.  I also had an opportunity to go to Torrid in the mall by our hotel, they had a few really good sales that I took advantage of.  Due to the sales I wound up with two dresses, two full length trench coats (one in black/grey, one in blue) as well as several braziers in my size.  Actually, In My Size, is the key phrase of my entire experience in Torrid.  Not only were things in my size but lovely things were in my size.  I have coupons that go into effect early July and while I intend to curb my spending I will be taking advantage of these coupons.  Thus ends the day.  I went back to my room, read, and relaxed.

The next day we went to Hollywood Boulevard, which was an experience unto itself.  The museum of death was our first stop, it is also the first museum we saw on this trip.  It was interesting, though not what I was hoping for.  The serial killers were disturbing and fascinating, the autopsy room was very disturbing.  I loved seeing the different skulls, I was very awed at seeing an elephant skull, a giraffe skull, and a human skull for size comparison.  There were 1900s wicker caskets, infanticide photos (photos of infants that died of SIDs or other maladies, the parents wanted to remember their children and had not had a chance to photograph them alive so this custom came into vogue), and various other ritual were fascinating.  I was hoping for more customs from around the world, but the history of death in the US, serial killers, famous deaths, and more was interesting.  The stars on Hollywood boulevard were fascinating, I swear it took most of the day just to wander up one side and down the other.  They were a wonderful reminder of how many amazing artists have passed through this world making their mark in more ways than one, and makes me wonder who will be the next Jim Henson or Angela Lansbury.  While I recognized more names than I thought I would, I did not take too many photographs of the stars.  I still managed to get a big sunburned, but that is alright.  Along our walk there were plenty of artists trying to get discovered, they hand out CDs to everyone that passes (well they try to), one of the artists did give me a High-Five instead of trying to make me a take a CD and I thought that was a lovely gesture.  The wax museum was expensive, $35/person.  However if you were a pop-culture or movie buff it would be well worth the price of admission.  There were some amazing displays and, to be honest, the idea of taking a photograph with some very famous people without all of the awkward conversation aspects is very appealing.  I liked the horror section, grease, and a few others.  The photographs are goofy, but very lovely anyway.  We then went to the Diaso Japan store, my sibling loves Japanese Culture, and I found some (very scratchy) wool yarn.  The quality is not there, however I had to purchase some for myself and my friend simply for the uniqueness.  Since we had to catch a bus to Disney the next day we decided to rest for the evening.

Again, this is much longer than I thought, so I will make Disney and entry of it’s own next week.  I promise that the next entry will be the end of my vacation entries.

Until then remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Whew, back from vacation

*This entry as well as the next will have no crafting content.  Next week’s entry will have some mention of Yarn Shops, however I did not get as much crafting done as I thought I would.*

I always forget how much I get done when I work nights at the Private Catholic University.  There my main occupation is making sure that the students have what they need to be successful, and keeping an eye on e-mails coming in.  This is where I get some of my blogging, and creative thinking, done.  Because classes are out, I was on vacation to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and I did not feel well this past week, I have not had much time to craft or blog.  Sorry about the gap, now on to the vacation tales!

My transgender sibling and I started our trip with a  2 day stay in Las Vegas.  I play MyVegas on Facebook and so had earned enough points for a free 2 day stay.  It did cost a total of $80 for the amenities at the hotel, however this was significantly less than a normal stay and so well worth it.  The first night my sibling and I wanted to try the Bellagio buffet since it was supposed to be one of the best out there.  If this is the case then the world sorely disappoints me.  The buffet at the Bellagio was a poor attempt at elegance.  At a cost of around $100, including the tip, for two people to dine the food was mediocre at best.  The service was amazing, however I did not find anything amazing, or unique at this buffet and I looked hard.  This was a good set up for most of the food during our visit, with a few shining exceptions.  I also did some gambling at the Bellagio, they are part of the MGM Suite of casinos and so I wound up with the M Life Card.  I did not do too well gambling at the Bellagio but some of the other casino’s were a bit more successful.  It was certainly a good thing that I was not there to primarily gamble.

The second day, our first full day in Vegas, was mostly spent exploring one half of the strip.  It is almost impossible to see everything in a single day.  My sibling decided that they wanted to see a show that night and so we purchased discounted tickets to see the jousting at the Excalibur that evening.  Until then we meandered our way toward that casino, taking in the sights and sounds along the way.  There was a store titled Stupidology, with fun and funny kitsch of all types. For lunch we decided on the Nine Irishmen, which was exquisite.  With an amazing atmosphere as well as fascinating décor you would really believe that you were in a (non-smoking) pub in Ireland complete with Irish music playing in the background.  Okay, so some of the music was Americanized, I’m not sure there are non-smoking pubs in Ireland, and I have never had an opportunity to go to Ireland, but you get the idea.  The food was amazing as well as very reasonably priced.

Everyone that we interacted with, from staff, tourists, or servers, everyone was without exception almost aggressively friendly.  I have had a few encounters in larger cities where my naturally friendly demeanor was mistaken for flirting or insulting.  I was very pleased that this attitude is not one that I encountered during my entire vacation.  We then wandered around taking more photographs until it was time for our show.  The little arcade in the same area where the show was held was adorable and a bit of fun.  During the actual show we sat next to a lovely couple originally from Germany, then gentleman did not believe that Buffalo existed.  He has been sent to conferences there twice and both times they have been cancelled.  The show itself was very fun, goofy and kitschy with some amazing eye-candy for both men and women.  Our mother was Hungarian so it seemed like fate that we obtained front row tickets in the Hungarian section.  The food was not horrible, however it was certainly not intended to be the focal point either.  Our second day ended with me walking back to our hotel while my sibling spent a little more time playing around.

Our third day, second full day, we had a flight out of Vegas into Los Angeles at 11pm.  Since this was our last day in Vegas my sibling decided that it would be a good idea for us to mail some of our belongings home so that we would not have to pay any luggage fees.  This was a great idea, though the luggage fees would have been less in the long run than the mailing costs.  We had a lovely breakfast in the Bellagio, and I later returned for a treat to take with me.  For the last  day my sibling wanted to see a Magic Show so we obtained tickets for Mac King who performed a magic and comedy routine.  While we were waiting we had tacos, not really worth it, as well as a virtual reality experience.  We were able to have 2 rounds with virtual reality for both of us for a total of $25.  The experience was amazing.  Since my sibling and I both tend toward motion sickness we were fortunate that we had taken medication, however the experience was well worth the discomfort.  I chose a fantasy scenario, it was like stepping into guild wars or another MMORPG.  It did not matter what direction I looked there was something new everywhere.  While in the boat when I looked down I saw the ocean floor through the clear sea, to the right a Titan emerged from the sea while a portal opened up to my left.  The entire experience was immersive and disorienting in the best of ways.  I cannot wait until this technology is available for public consumption.  The second scenario, that my sibling chose, was space exploration.  Right on the heels of our first exquisite experience we found out just how lame virtual reality can be.  Instead of amazing graphics in an immersive environment we were treated to, essentially, a movie with some motion to give us the illusion of immersion.  I do not regret either scenario, and I am thinking of seeing what kind of funding we can get so that the public library I work at can start teaching some of our kids about virtual reality and immersive experiences.

Our good luck held throughout the MacKing special, where my sibling and I partook of the first (and last) alcohol of our trip.  I had a strawberry daiquiri (because I like them, don’t judge me) and my sibling had a rum and coke.  Apparently the coke was off-brand, however, the experience was well worth everything.  The usher decided to allow my sibling and I to sit at a table rather than the regular chairs that were set up in front of the stage, this was due to how small of a crowd there was.  During the show there were about 5 audience participation experiences, two of which were hilarious.  During a magic trick the participant was asked to sign their name on the card, however the participant signed on the back of the card rather than the face.  This baffled the magician and gave everyone a good laugh.  The second amusing event occurred when the female participant was asked to put 3 one dollar bills in her pocket and had to put them under her bra strap since she did not have any pockets.  The magician had fun retrieving them from there.

Our experiences in Vegas ended in a lot of fun, tons of laughter, and a really long plane ride to Los Angeles.  Since this entry is so very long already I will put off talking about Los Angeles until another time.

Jimmy Beans Crochet

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I will confess, whether this pattern is particularly easy, or I’m a quicker with crochet than I thought, this bag which is two months worth of kits took me a grand total of three days to crochet.  Not even particularly dedicated days, and I did put in an extra repeat of the mesh.  I would have done another but I was not certain I would have enough extra yarn.  The pattern is a ton of fun to crochet, the cotton/linen blend makes for a lovely, yet crisp, crochet.  Since I spent the month of April trying to knit a pi shawl, I love it, and crocheting shower poufs I did not get a chance to indulge in my Jimmy Beans Wool Boxes of the month.  By the time this is posted I will be back from my vacation and will have some to post about that (I hope) so I should be able to work on knitting the shawl that is this quarter’s knitting club.  I have a couple of other  kits that I have purchased recently and while I look forward to working with them, they will have to wait until I get back from vacation.

As to why I bought the kits, I am a plus sized woman.  As a plus sized woman, with lovely taste in yarn, purchasing a sweater’s quantity of yarn is quite expensive.  In fact, most sweater’s worth of yarn would run me a conservative 120+.  This is why when I find a kit that promises a sweater’s worth of yarn, in my size, with a pattern I like for under 75 I tend to seriously contemplate purchasing them.  If you throw in a coupon or a KAL or CAL then I will usually see if I can fit it in my budget.  This is why I have a shawl that I really need to start crocheting on for my CAL as well as three other sweaters I need to work on.  One of the sweaters, I suppose it really is a cardigan, is of the same construction as the shawl so once  I have that pattern mastered I will feel comfortable starting on the cardigan.  I am very excited.

In the next post I will be discussing my trip as well as any crafting I managed during the trip.  Until then remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Pi Shawl Blocked

Okay, so not everything blocks out.  This is not the 40 inch shawl I hoped it would be, let alone 60.  It is about 30 inches, I’m going to call it a shawlette.  Now that it is washed and blocked the shawlette is very open with amazing drape.  I will let my sibling know that if it gets dirty they can send it to me, I’ll wash and block it back out again.

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I love how this looks, with the arrows pointing to the left as they spiral around.  For my very first try designing a shawl, my first round shawl, and with just one skein, I believe that this turned out pretty well.  I have learned a lot from this experiment, always have 2 skeins of fingering weight yarn that are either complementary or the same if you want a full sized shawl is one.  Go big or go home, make sure you know what you are doing with stitches before you get started, count the stitches between repetitions, little things like that.  I am enjoying knitting more than I thought I would.  I like the challenges, I enjoy having a framework that I can be creative within, as well as the amazing knitting podcasts, lol.

Happy Crafting and remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Half-Pi Shawl

IMG_2333So hot on the heels of my successful Pi Shawlette I have decided to use the general formula of the half-pi shawl as a basis for a design.  I began with a garter tab cast on, I also have 3 stitches on either end that are simply knit with patterning and increases between these knit sections.  After the garter tab was picked up I worked a double yarn over increase row.  I then had 17 stitches total, these were worked as a simple knit for three rows.  Another increase row was worked, then I began a Daisy Stitch section.  This was worked for 7 rows before my next increase row, again with double yarn overs.

This is where I began some slightly more intricate patterning, though the daisy stitch was interesting, and I worked the seed stitch for three rounds with a row of knit two together, yarn overs, following, then another three rounds of seed stitch, followed by knit two together, yarnovers, finally 2 more rows of seed stitch and another increase round with double yarn overs.

Right now I am on rows 31-60, there are 95 stitches available for patterning.  I believe that I will be working the Butterfly Stitch across this so as to create a wonderfully textured shawl.  Then an increase round, then I will have 191 stitches available for patterning, and I will be working 63 rows.  If I choose to add another section, I probably will so as to create a very large shawl, then I will have 383 stitches available for patterning over 127 rows.  By my calculations this should result in a shawl that is well over 60″.

Paradise Fibers Spinning for the Throne

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Paradise Fibers has decided to run a Spinning for the Throne Spin Along for the month of May.  For their Fiber of the Month box they created four different merino silk blend colorways and they sent them out in two different combinations.  One set of combinations was “Not Today” and “Blue Eyes”, the set that I received is “He Who Knows Nothing” and “Mother of Dragons”.  We also received one of two tweed blends, “Ice” or “Fire” and some green Angelina they named Wildfire.

Right now I am in the process of spinning up “He Who Knows Nothing” in a short forward draw from the fold on my Ladybug using my Woolee Winder.

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The spin is supposed to be inspired by the Game of Thrones, however I have not watched very much of it so far.  What I have watched, almost 10 minutes of the first episode, contained a lot of blood.  Since I am willing to bet that this trend continues, I have decided to add in some splotches of blood to this mix, I do enjoy how it is turning out so far.  I had originally thought to felt some Dragon Wings and add them into the mix at random spots, however I am well aware of my artistic limitations, not to mention the time constraints of this SAL (Spin Along).

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Once this batch is done I will start spinning up “Mother of Dragons”, I still have the winter gradient that was sent, I think in December 2018, and two of those colors will go beautifully with the Mother of Dragon set.  My tweed is “Fire” which will also go well with the blues of the second set of fiber.  I am not sure if I will keep these as two separate skeins of yarn or see how they look when they are plied together, only time will tell.  In addition to all of this fiber, we were sent a magnet, sticker, an amazing stitch marker, and pattern for fingerless gloves that look like dragon scales.  I am really looking forward to having the chance to try and make the gloves.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Pi Shawl Finished!

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I finished this shawl before 8 am Sunday May 5, 2019.  Since I began this shawl April 16th, this is pretty good.  Completely unblocked it looks like the shawl is about 24 inches wide.  I am hoping that the phrase, “Oh, that’ll block right out” is true.  The center puckers, the edges don’t want to lay flat, the lacy bits don’t show up very well.  Aargh!  So, I am going to throw this in the wash when I get home with some other stuff (the way I think my sibling will…) Hmm….I don’t want my sibling washing this.  They will not know how to block it….I’ll tell them if they don’t get it dirty it doesn’t need washed.  If they do I’ll pay the postage send it home and I’ll clean it.  A little fussy, but it’ll work.  Okay, that being said, I’m going to throw it in with some wool wash and lukewarm water to give it an initial wash.  Then I’ll block it aggressively and hope that it stretches to about 40″.  I originally wanted the shawl to be about 60″ (my wingspan) but this will have to do.  Perhaps my next will be a different size.

I very much enjoyed knitting this Pi Shawl, though I believe that one skein of fingering weight yarn is probably too little yarn for a shawl with this much straight stockinette stitching.  Should the shawl have more lace elements, and therefore more holes making the yarn stretch further, then this might have been enough yarn.  Given that information I believe that I will buy sock yarn in pairs of skeins from here on out so that I have the opportunity to make two pairs of socks or a really rocking shawl.  I will also test this theory by taking one of the single skeins of sock/fingering yarn I have and trying out a half pi shawl.  If my (pretty bad) math is accurate, this means that I should be able to get to the…Okay so I tried to draw this out and write it out to figure things out, then I had to admit I cannot.  If I were to knit along with my patterning then I would stand a chance, but just sitting here and trying to imagine it, not going to happen.  Due to this, I believe that I am going to do three things.

1) Search ravelry for a fingering weight half-pi shawl.  If I really like it I will buy it

2) Check the BluPrint papers for the shawl construction sheet and use  that information to begin ‘writing’ a pattern for a shawl

3) Trawl my stashed yarn on Ravelry for what kind I would like to use.

Fortunately with the MyBluPrint class I was able to discover the ratios that I need to make my own shawl with an approximate depth of 18 inches.  This should be enough to come about mid back on me.  With the help of the website “New Stitch A Day” I was able to narrow down, without being overwhelmed, my knitted on border choices to 4.  This may be revised at a later date.  Since all four of the borders involve techniques I do not know off hand I plan on using them to create bookmarks so that I can:

A) Practice

B) Block

C) Gauge Yarn used

D) Gauge size of edging when finished

Now I just have to Woman Up and Cast On!

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract