Bay Area Adventures

Oh, poor, neglected blog. I didn’t meant to ignore you for so long. Life has been busy. My main excuse is that I was in Japan for most of April. I kept an online travel journal while we were there, if you happen to be interested in our day-to-day adventures, you can visit my Yahoo travel journal.

I certainly haven’t been neglecting the knitting and spinning, but that will be the subject of another post. This post is about the awesomeness of Maker Faire!

The Yarn Harlot was there on Saturday, but since I was working at the yarn shop that day I couldn’t go. I enjoy reading her blog, but I have never read any of her books and I have never felt a strong desire to go to one her events, so I wasn’t really disappointed. Instead, we went on Sunday, and look who we got to see instead:

That’s Adam Savage, from Mythbusters! He talked about his career history…starting out in theatre set design and special effects, working for ILM as a prop and set builder on all sorts of awesome movies, working for a toy company, and finally getting the gig on Mythbusters. He didn’t talk about Mythbusters much, he mostly explained how he is crazy obsessed with making extremely detailed replicas of movie props, like the ZF-1 gun in The Fifth Element (which he has been working on for 10 years, and he still hasn’t finished it), and making his own Maltese falcon (as seen in the film noir classic starring Humphrey Bogart ♥). It was really awesome, but now we know for sure that he is absolutely insane. In a really good way.

The Bazaar Bizarre (craft fair) was really good too, albeit EXTREMELY crowded. It was hard to stop and look at stuff, or cross the aisle to look at a different booth, because of the constant river of people. There was a great selection of stuff from a lot of cool designers and crafters. James bought me a few belated birthday presents, and I bought for myself an awesome skein of Dream In Color Smooshy at the Imagiknit booth. I was too tired to get pictures last night but hopefully I will do that today, and I can properly credit the crafters that I supported.

My sister scored at the Swap-o-Rama-Rama in the same building…she found a plain white tank and then had it screenprinted for free. There were also sewing machines for public use so you could alter your “new to you” clothes right there.

We ate corndogs…James got a foot-long “monster” corndog (my sister and I opted for the normal size), and there was a guy mixing the batter with a drill.

There was also drivable cupcakes (click any picture to make it bigger):

Huge wooden dinosaur skeletons (remember the smaller ones you built when you were a kid??):

Belly dancers:

And a giant metal lady on fire!

There was a TON of other cool stuff. The rest of my pictures are here, or go look at the Flickr group pool of photos, because no one person could capture all of the awesomeness that was there. We had such a good time, and I can’t wait to drag more people with me next year. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have a great time…there really is something for everyone.  Be sure to check it out next year, or see it in Austin in October.


I did end up going to Stitches last weekend, even though I almost backed out. I was thinking, “There’s not much I need, I don’t have anyone to go with me, I’ll just spend money, I just ordered yarn from…” But then my boss at the yarn store asked if she could ride with me so I decided that was a good enough reason. Realllllly twist my arm, right?

The only thing I knew I wanted to get was a new drop spindle…something simple and basic, lighter than 2 oz, but with a decent spin time and the ability to hold more than .25 oz of spun fiber. I love my carnelian whorl spindle from Butterfly Girl Designs, but I’m already slow at spindling and that one makes me even slower. After almost giving up, because spindles were quite scarce in the market…

…I found this lovely little Schacht spindle!

I was able to spin up THREE predrafted sections of Goblin Eyes on here, as opposed to the one I could fit on the carnelian spindle. And it went so much faster! I’ve already got this Navajo plied and will be pulling a 2 oz skein off pretty soon.

At another booth that did have spindles (but none that I was crazy about), I had the opportunity to try spinning hemp fiber. It was way easier than I thought! It drafts very easily (almost too easily…but it’s way easy to join again) and just look at these hand-dyed colors:

Fiber Fiend hand-dyed hemp pencil roving
colorway Sunset

The booth where I found my spindle was a fantastic new discovery, located right under my nose. A Verb for Keeping Warm is located right in Oakland! How did I not know this? According to the blog, her stuff will presently be available at Article Pract too. And, of course, she’s on Etsy. Here’s what I picked up with the spindle:

A Verb for Keeping Warm hand-dyed merino/tussah silk roving
colorway Branch

Pretty pretty. I was feeling so good about the hemp experience that I was confident enough to believe I can spin merino silk and not mess it up! Now I’m not so sure…

The only other thing I got was a few super cheap skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca. I got out for under $60 and everything I bought was either 1) relatively unique, 2) something I was planning to get, or 3) too cheap not to buy. AND I had a ton of fun with my boss, Bente. We got a full tour of the SWTC sponsor booth and drooled over tons of wool silk yarn.

I have about a million things cast on right now. My Ravelry projects page looks ridiculous with all the wips, and there’s a few I’ve been too ashamed to list. On top of that, I will be getting a spinning wheel for free in the very near future. If only sleep weren’t so essential…

This weekend was a busy one, but in the fun way, not the getting-stuff-done way. I spent the majority of it in the city, being social and enjoying the still-sunny weather. It rained all day Friday while I was at work, but it let up by 6 when I left so I ventured out to Casanova Lounge in the Mission. I happily drank draft PBR and made fun of greasy hipsters like the Jack White wannabe. We took transit and stayed in the Sunset with friends so there would be no misadventures trying to get back to Alameda. I experienced Underdog for the first time the next morning, where I tried a Veggie Bratwurst; good, but I might go for the meaty one next time. I was able to meet up with my little sis the next day, and we headed back to the Mission. We did some thrifting, and I hit up one of my new favorite coffee shops, Ritual Roasters on Valencia. I hadn’t noticed the first time, but they have TONS of vegan pastries (like a huge selection of loaf breads). And of course, delicious macchiatos. I had some luck at Fabric Outlet with possible supplies for my Halloween costume and some buttons for my Mrs. Darcy cardigan. The buttons are a little big so I might get something else, but it’s taking forever to dry from blocking.

I headed back to my house after being away for over 24 hours. After a relaxing evening and sleeping in on Sunday morning, a friend said she was going to Japantown, which I can never pass up. We of course went to Ichiban Kan, the Japanese discount chain where useful (or not-so-useful) adorable items always find their way into my basket. After some udon and Japanese style pizza, we walked up Fillmore in Pacific Heights. I had a perfectly acceptable cappuccino at Bittersweet, ogled the gorgeous little cakes and cookies, and made mental notes on which hot chocolate to try next time. After an hour of indecision, we finally met up with James at the Embarcadero and saw Wes Anderson’s new film, The Darjeeling Limited. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I don’t think it beats The Royal Tenenbaums. Then we finally headed home to resting and knitting. It was an excellent weekend, and I don’t even think I spent to much money. Hopefully. The Hello Yarn shop update today might have changed that…

I was in the city on Saturday and we went to Japantown to get ice cream crepes. I got vanilla ice cream with Nutella and cinnamon.  We also made the requisite trip into the bookstore and I finally bought a Japanese craft book. I always almost buy one and then convince myself I “don’t need it”. But this one just had too much cute stuff.

It’s filled with pretty little crocheted things for the home. I’m not sure about the yarn weights (since everything except the page numbers are in Japanese), but most of it looks like sport or fingering. And so I find myself coveting any and all lightweight cotton and linen in sophisticated colors.

So many pretty things. Now I think I can feel justified buying a ball or two of Habu that I otherwise wouldn’t know what to do with. Lately when I buy yarn I feel guilty getting only a skein or two if I don’t know what I’ll use it for – unless it’s sock yarn. It would be nice to buy other kinds of yarn too. I’m always need more more small simple projects.

The charts should be pretty easy to follow. There are a few things that look a little confusing, but figuring it all out is the challenge (and hence the fun). I really wanted to get one of these amazing stitch dictionaries they had (with big gorgeous pictures and clear charts), but I’ll save one of those for next time. I guess it’s a good thing there are no yarn stores in Japantown. Crepes, books, AND yarn in the same place? I would be lost forever.

P.S. The ISBN on this book is 4529040941.

I have a new friend!

I found him at Maido in SF yesterday, while I was shopping for stuff for my KVVS pal.  I found some stuff for her too that she is just gonna love.  I tried going to Artfibers for yarn, but they are only open from 2-4pm on Sundays, and I was too early.  I did get myself to Imagiknit though…I hadn’t been there in ages.  I bought a yellow ball of Plymouth Encore for the color bar blanket (if I just buy 10 different colors one at a time it won’t seem as bad), and an awesome green skein of Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn, which I had never seen before.  Yarn and tiny Japanese goodies makes for a great shopping haul.

I also spun a little more of this dark brown corriedale I got awhile ago.  It’s really hairy and not very soft, but I think it’s really good for practicing on.  I hadn’t spun for about a month.  Maybe I should start doing Spinning ___days like some bloggers.  I’m not going to get very far if I hardly ever do it.  The good news is, I was deviating a little from the park & draft technique, and actually managing to draft a bit while the spindle was going.  I am trying to spin this stuff somewhat thin, so I can try plying with it.  I keep seeing people doing awesome things with their spindles, and I want to be able to do some lovely hand-painted roving justice.

I’m really grateful to be getting paid for sitting in this office at UC Berkeley and doing next-to-nothing, but something about it is giving me horrible headaches.  I have been getting them more often even outside of work.  This a problem that plagues my mother so I know it’s something I’m going to have to live with.  I really think I should get some yoga videos or something (since I can’t afford to go to classes regularly) because I really hate taking (increasingly strong) painkillers every single day.  I think today’s dose is finally kicking in, though.

I finished my spiral rib hat with Kyoto! I was mainly making this up as I went, trying to manage to have enough yarn for a decent hat. What I should have done is started at the crown and increased down, but I never make hats that way, so I started from the bottom. I did spiral ribbing until I was getting nervous about having enough yarn for the decreases. I finished the crown and still had some yarn to spare. I thought about ripping out the decreases to make the hat longer (so it would be more slouchy), but instead I picked up stitches around the cast on edge and worked a 1×1 twisted rib with a smaller needle, because I didn’t really like how unstable the bottom was. I still have a little yarn left, which I think I will just admire, because this stuff has to be seen to be believed.

Pattern: made up, with some inspiration from here…basically just a 2×2 spiral rib
Yarn: Artfibers Kyoto, color 26
Needles: US 10 16″ circs and US7 16″ circs (for the ribbing)

The hat came out ever so slouchy, which I like. The spiral rib looks almost like cabling in this yarn. But the thing that really gets you is the depth of color. The saturated color in the silk is just incredible. The stitches are defined, but the mohair helps soften it up with a fuzzy halo. I’ll be interested to see how this yarn wears, because I would seriously consider making a cardigan out of it. It’s so pretty!

In other news, I finally took a picture of my first handspun yarn, which I did a few weeks ago. Regretfully, I haven’t spun again since then, mainly because I have been really into knitting Clementine (I am now halfway done with the straight section of the second half!) and doing a little sewing. It gets hard to divide up my time. But here it is, in all of its feeble glory.

This is the corriedale wool that I ordered as a spindle kit from Hello Yarn, with the Louet top whorl spindle.  That random strand of not-fuschia yarn was the pre-drafted sample that Adrian includes with the kit to get you started.  I actually seemed to be decent at joining.  I’m not so great at drafting, especially as I was trying to move beyond park & draft, but I guess I just need more practice.  I definitely understand the concept now, I just don’t feel like I’m doing it very well.  I have more of this pink stuff, and I’ve also acquired fiber from two other sources.  Hopefully this weekend I will be able to do some more.  I’d really like to get better.

Tonight is the US Air Guitar Championships at The Independent.  Yes, I am going.  Yes, it is going to be awesome.

Progress on Clementine is going well.  I finished the first half over the weekend and immediately started the second panel so i wouldn’t be tempted to cast on something else (like a lacy yoga bag?) as a “reward”.  I’ve finished the increase section and now have 25 more straight repeats to go, which I can easily finish with a few nights of Heroes and BBC’s Robin Hood.  This project has been almost exclusively tv knitting; the lace pattern is simple and easy to memorize and keep track of, especially once you get into the straight section.  And that triple stranded alpaca feels so nice.

Unfortunately, this means that this lovely alpaca lace shawl will be finished just as summer is heating up, especially in Montana where my Grandma lives.  Do I keep it safely at my house for a few months for a more appropriate time, weather-wise, to send it, or do I get it out the door ASAP to let her admire it, even if she can’t yet wear it?  I’m thinking I’ll hold on to it, because I’d rather she be able to use it when she gets it.

Yesterday James and I went to Angel Island with his old roommate, whom we keep in touch with (somewhat) but always seem to miss hanging out with.  We hiked to the top of Mt. Livermore and back, which took under 4 hours, including our picnic at the top, and lots of stopping on the way up.  There were some completely amazing views of San Francisco and the bridges.  I took lots of pictures, which will be up on my flickr in the next few days.  All in all, it was a really good hike, not too rough, except when James decided to take a shortcut coming down.  Dry, loose dirt and leaves on a steep hill lead to me sliding down the mountain and getting very angry.  I didn’t get a headache though (unlike our Muir Woods trip), and I also didn’t get sunburned, thanks to the $12 sunscreen we purchased after we got there.  So it was a good day.

I’ve been trying to compile a list of things I can make to sell on Etsy.  I need to get back into bookbinding and try and improve my sewing skills.  I’m a little intimidated at the thought of creating original things that people will actually wan to buy, but I think once I get back into being really creative I will gain more confidence.  I have several skills and I’d like to be able to use them.  A little extra income to help cover what I spend on craft supplies anyway, as well as a way to move all this stuff I like to make out of my house, will definitely be welcome.

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