Monday, October 25, 2010

Knitting tasks me

Gauge Swatch
So...I guess I can't pretend to be some kind of gauge enthusiast anymore. I remember reading the beginning of No Sheep for You and thinking "yes I must always knit swatches! It would be foolish not to." I usually do make some kind of attempt. "And wash them before I knit with them to see how the fabric behaves!"...well I have done that once or twice...

I made a swatch for this...of course I did that about a year ago, and I have no idea what size needle I used. I assumed I used what the pattern called for. I also assumed, for some reason, wishful thinking probably, that I got gauge. So even though the swatch is right there and the ruler is right there too, I didn't bother to measure it. In my defense this bumpy yarn is sort of hard to judge. Part of the reason I don't really like trying to get gauge is because it seems too subjective. Knits stretch and may have variations, etc. so I never feel completely sure that I've got it.
Gold Metallic Dress started Gold Metallic Dress started way to be certain you don't have is to try on your knitting and find out it's ginormously huge. Good thing this was a top-down raglan project. Those are great for trying on as you go, so I didn't get terribly far on it before realizing it was just silly big. I'd spent like two and a half weeks working on it, but I like knitting and I like having a project going, so it's not really a big deal. And to prove that I wasn't I spent a good size chunk of the weekend catching up and knitting it like crazy.

Restarted Dress Restarted Dress
When it comes down to it, I really wanted to use this yarn for this project (it's the Gold Metallic Dress from Stephanie Japel's Glam Knits, the cover project, BTW) and I've still got a long way to go before I'm done. But I think knocking down to the smallest size and going down one needle size has done the trick. Hopefully that holds true for the rest of the project! It's not like I swatched this...I'm just playing it by ear. Good thing I can keep trying it on as I go, which I'm sure makes Chuck happy since I ask his opinion each time...

One other thing: Ricardo Montalban 
The Orange color, the scoop-y neckline? 
Glad I'm getting the fit right & that I'll be adding more to the collar.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Portland Walk: Cathedral Park & St. Johns

Cathedral Park
Cathedral Park is just plain pretty. I'd been wanting to get over there since before we even moved here after seeing pictures like these. We hadn't gotten around to it yet since it does take something like 45 min. to get there on transit, but we happened to have a task that required we be over that direction this week so it actually made sense to check it out.

Fishermen St. Johns Bridge
We spent some time in the park just hanging out, taking silly pictures of ourselves, checking out the shore and the fishermen, and once again trying to identify a flock of tiny little birds flying tree to tree, way too fast for us to successfully capture them in photos.

Portland Water Pollution Lab I'm on the Sculpture

Also of interest by the park is the Water Pollution Control Lab, which I recognized as a building designed by the Seattle firm Miller|Hull. Chuck was busy checking out the Rain Garden while I interacted with the public art. I assumed since there were footprints on the piece I was supposed to stand on it, which I did.

Not pictured is the guy we saw in the St. Johns neighborhood wearing flannel, a trucker's hat, and what I can only assume is the next trend for hipsters: a parrot on his shoulder. (actually, I really hope that's not the case since parrots live a long time and are a very serious commitment.) St. Johns is also home to Held Vegan belts!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Portland Walk: Washington Park

Chuck and I took a nice long walk up to Washington Park and back right before I left for Columbia, SC. It boasts both the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test gardens, however we just went up to get a lay of the land on this walk. My parents are coming to town soon and we may head up there for one or both of the gardens while they are here.

We weren't supposed to be there
On our way up to the park we may have been honked at/scolded by the MAX heading into town. There wasn't exactly a sidewalk there, and we had possibly ignored some signs about where we weren't supposed to be. Fortunately we were able to cross shortly after this picture was taken and continue on. We will figure out a better route when my parents come, possibly on the bus or something, so there's less chance of being hit by transit.

Up Stairs Reservoirs

We had some elevation to climb while trying to stay out of the path of some skateboarding kids. There's Chuck on the left demonstrating this elevation change, it always helps to have a scale figure even if he doesn't like his picture being taken. We came up on the side with the city reservoirs, #3 and #4. We walked between the two, then around one side of the one pictured above.

State Seal Column in Washington Park
There was a nice little area at the top with sculptures, a fountain, and the state seal for Oregon as well as three other surrounding states, including Washington our former home. I am starting to wonder if George Washington had a really big nose. It really sticks out on this version of the seal. Also it was pretty big when on the big bust of Washington in Olympia we saw a few years back. Was not the most notable thing about the sculpture in Columbia however. Although looking at it's not small.

Big Tree Big Tree
Uh...anyway, we were also impressed with the size of this huge tree as we wandered back down to the city. It's not quite redwood size, but not bad for inside the city limits. I am in that picture on the right, at the very bottom, that little white spot, that's me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seascape Stole on the Bride

Technically these are the finished object pictures of the seascape stole I posted pictures of pre-blocking a few posts back. These pictures are by someone else from the wedding...not sure where I was at this point, probably messing with the music or something. Anyway, I'm happy with how the project turned out and I'm glad someone grabbed these pictures!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Janie & Matt Got Married!

Tom and Janie
It's probably about time I posted a little bit about the wedding I traveled across the country for last weekend. It was great to get to spend time in Columbia, finally get to meet the groom, and help the bride stay as stress-free as possible (I hope I helped!) It all came together brilliantly and everyone who came seemed to have contributed something they were especially passionate about. Janie's Aunt "came out of retirement" to make the cake:

Cake & Uncorking

Janie's Mom collected wedding pictures of both sides' families and displayed them with the dates. Our friend Kim found a Polaroid style fuji camera and film to use to create the picture guest book, strung on a clothesline:
Photos Old & New

I was multi-titled: DJ, AV consultant, resident crafter, backup photographer and moral support. I'm still amazed how well everything went; I wasn't completely sure there would be music until I found the perfect sound system in the second cabin at 2am the night before...
Janie and Lake

The weather forecast was for "abundant sunshine" making for a beautiful day on the lake. Bonfires the night before, last minute runs for supplies, bubbles, croquet, we even put the bride and groom on the lake for just married photos.
Just Married

And someone had to get in the lake, didn't they? It was the perfect temperature.

More photos in my flickr set here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Walking around Shandon in Columbia, SC

Shandon is a neighborhood in Columbia, SC, where my friend has lived in various residences for the past several years. I got the grand tour, finally, since this was the first time I'd gotten the chance to visit her in Columbia. I also took a nice stroll around the area on my own. I noticed some commonalities as I wandered: Large &/or wrap-around porches (pictured below), dormer windows, and front yard benches or swings. Also, a few of the homes I notices had the same neat chimney cap:

Walking Around Shandon Wrap-around porch

All of this reminded me of the great section in Sun, Wind & Light that reviews regional prototypes and how they are the best responses to the local climate conditions. (I would tell you more about it, but some of our books are still packed up in boxes, pending the purchase of more shelves.) Personally, I think it'd be pretty lovely to have a big wrap around porch in any climate.

Columbia seemed more hilly, with a greater variety of plant life than I had somehow suspected.
Trees on trees Walking Around Shandon

I also like that the South seems to be able to pull off all white and all pink houses fairly well:
White House Pink House

And when you think of South Carolina, you probably think of all the crazy politics and politicians that have come out of there in the past few years. Well, I've been reminded that Columbia is one of the more liberal parts of the state. On the one hand, we saw a car festooned with republican yard signs on the way in from the airport (which I might have tried to snap a picture of if i had been more alert)  but on the other hand, I did find a green party yard sign on my walk in Shandon:
Green Party
I was also told Chicken Man sold Obama t-shirts during the presidential election. So you see Columbia has all types

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Downtown Columbia, SC

So I flew out of Portland last Monday evening and didn't arrive in Columbia, South Carolina until the next morning. Some of that was time difference, but regardless I missed out on most of a nights sleep. (I did manage some on the plane, I think they keep the temperature on red-eye flights very low so your body defensively shuts down and you get some rest.) A sensible person might've thought "hey I'll sleep when I get there." I did think that, actually, but I had coffee in me, it was daylight and sleep seemed weird. Instead I asked to be dropped off in the middle of downtown to wander. 

I spent a lot of time on the state house grounds, which are large and interesting. Interesting includes a statue of Strom Thurmond, a monument to the father of modern gynecology who was known for "treating alike empress and slave", and, yes, the confederate flag which is now somewhat discretely hidden behind a statue rather than propped way up on the top of the dome. Also of note: the cane on the statue of Washington was broken off by Sherman's Army. The landscape of parts of the grounds is very naturalistic; I can see why my friend likes it as a spot to take lunches.:

State House grounds   State House Grounds

The downtown has seen some recent re-use and revitalization. Despite the entire stretch of main Street getting burned in 1865 it still has a very historic character. It's a mix actually, as the walking tour guide book I picked up says it reflects "waning and waxing interest in the corridor's future."  I stopped for an extra dose of coffee in the Sheraton, also known as the Palmetto Building (below, left) built in 1913. The Arcade Building (middle) was Columbia's first indoor shopping area, originally built as an open arcade & enclosed mid-century. And the Art museum pictured on the right gives you a feel for some of the more contemporary buildings that have gone up in the downtown area.

  Equitable Arcade Building    

Speaking of the newer buildings, I think I have to mention the odd "new brutalist" city building that looks like old computer punch cards. And then the capitol restaurant looks like it could use a new coat of paint and maybe a tenant...although I think it looks very photogenic.

1339 Main Street Capitol Restaurant

Eventually I got some sleep. I also decided I was fine to go out for dinner and drinks after exploring all was probably more fun that way, right? Regardless, I think I am finally (finally!) caught up on my sleep. Now to catch up on my blogging over the next few days!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The other side of the U.S.

I just flew across the US, which I think we've decided officially makes me the guest coming from the furtherest away for my friend's wedding!  I managed to completely skip a full night's sleep which actually wasn't too hard with the aid of loads of coffee. Today I slept in nice and late to make a full recovery. The kitty and I are getting used to each other, she's a super pretty shade of pale yellow:

I was bribing her with treats so I could take her picture, she's getting much less nervous about my presence as I give her more and more treats and rubs. 

I spent yesterday exploring Columbia a little, and hopefully I wasn't in such a sleepy state that I actually remember some of it. The State House grounds here are impressive, with many large trees, statues and some southern color. (By which I mean the confederate flag. I don't see it every day.) Squirrels and people are very friendly, although the former I think were angling for some food from me. I also sat down on a bench next to a lizard, a nice reminder that the flora and fauna here are much different. I got a few pictures of him but many of them were blurry since he scared off easily.

State House Columbia from the State House
Just a few standard pictures of the state house for now, I will have to share more of the highlights when I return from my trip.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Something Blue for South Carolina

Next weekend my good friend in South Carolina is getting married! So I'll be flying across the country again, this time without my cat. (Lucy seems to be doing great, by the way, very playful and all that fur they shaved off for the surgery, IV, abscess, etc...well, it's slowly coming back.) I'll be gone for most of next week. With grad school and all our moves I haven't had a chance to visit her out there yet, so I'm looking forward to seeing her & getting to know her city, and hopefully I'll be able to lend a hand to some last minute wedding preparation too.

Seascape Stole

On that note I've just finished a knitting project, which I'll be giving her, the Seascape Stole by Kieran Foley from Knitty, Summer 2008. The yarn I used, which was pretty completely different from the yarn called for in the pattern (I'd love to find a good vegan yarn that does something like what mohair does...), was Tahki Cotton Classic Lite. I was looking for something in a nice wedding blue, which I could afford to purchase enough yarn in and could pick up locally, so this ended up being the best option. Ideally I might have waited to find a lace weight yarn instead of a sport weight, but I figured since this was sort of a scarf/rectangle I had some leeway. Now that it's off the needles I'm more optimistic about the results and I still have to give it a good blocking.

Seascape Stole Seascape Stole

I'll definately be knitting more Kieran Foley in the future. I got a start on Cold Mountain once which didn't end up taking off for whatever reason. This pattern was a little simpler and perhaps a better place to start.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Portland Walk: South Waterfront

We took a nice walk this week and discovered where the waterfront trail ends on the south end of downtown. It stops right under the Marquam Bridge, which is my least favorite bridge here, and there are no runners up because the rest of the bridges are great. But the Marquam Bridge is a big, double decker, ugly interstate bridge that blocks the view of the mountain. And I'll admit I did actually have to google map to find the name of the bridge which I believe means I'm still a Portland newbie. Ah, well.

Aerial tram

Anyway, our plan had been to possibly take the aerial tram, however yesterday seemed to mark the return to normal fall weather. Recently it's been pretty hot and summer like, which I guess is nice, but the regular overcast, cool, pacific northwest weather is why we moved back here. So other than changing our plans to wait for a clear day to do the tram I was thrilled about the overcast sky. (It's clear today, so maybe this weekend.) We had coffee by the waterfront instead. (Uh, yes it was afternoon coffee, which I can't really do without being up really late, which I was. But it was worth it!) Coffee and overcast skies...I've missed them together so much. Maybe I'll even get to start wearing lots of knits soon!

Purple Flowers Lost Birds

So after coffee we walked along the waterfront, as I mentioned, to the end of the trail. Before we reached it there was a nicely landscaped area with all sorts of varieties of flowers still in bloom and I ran around snapping pictures of them. I didn't see any signs around so I'm not really sure what they all were (for example: what is this?) and I'm curious to find out if any of the plants were native species. The landscape design has a very naturalistic quality. I also really appreciated the sculpture Lost Birds, pictured above, featuring extinct bird species: The Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Great Auk, Heath Hen and Labrador Duck immortalized in bronze.

Lucier Restaurant Channel Glass
The area near the end of the trail seems to have been developed recently, within the last few years. Googling tells me it's The Strand at Riverplace by the architecture firm Ankrom Moison, completed around 2007. Overall it's fairly typical of the type of high-end condo projects that were so prevalent right before the economy tanked, but it did have a few pleasant details. Pictured on the left is the building for Lucier, a very fancy restaurant, which Yelp indicates is no more. As for the condos, I was kind of taken with the use of channel glass, as pictured on the right, but Chuck said he'd heard too much about it with his fellow students throwing it into projects left and right in grad school; it's actually pretty expensive. It looks good though, and I like that they used both matte and glossy style glass.