Close Up

It’s Yarn Love Challenge Day 2!  If you missed day 1, explaining what exactly Yarn Love Challenge is, please see yesterday’s post.  Today’s prompt is “close up.”  Over the last few years, I’ve tried to improve my ability to take close up pictures.  Close ups help us focus on details, providing a better understanding of and appreciation for finished projects.  Rather than just sharing fiber arts pictures in this post, I’ve chosen close-up pictures that represent different aspects of my life.  Collectively, these small details provide a better understanding of the ongoing project that is my life.

Fiber

Since this is primarily a fiber blog, I am starting with the fiber pictures!

First, one of my favorite projects and pictures: a close up of the lace border on the Raindrops on Roses Shawl.

Next, one of the first close-up pictures I ever took of a fiber project.  It’s a humble garter-stitch dishcloth and I hoped to take a picture that made it look like more fun than that!  I tried to make it look like ocean waves and added the octopi charms both because of the ocean theme and because I love octopi so much.

This is the lace edging on the first project I ever knit from my own homespun yarn.  I was (and am) so proud to be able to knit from yarn spun by my own hands!

I have been obsessed with cables ever since I knit a cabled baby blanket as my second-ever knitting project.  (The baby I knit that blanket for just got married this week and is expecting his first child).  When I knit the Sand Tracks scarf, I became obsessed with the combination of cables and seed stitch.

Rainbows make me happy, and this Redfish Dyeworks 20/2 Spun Silk gradient is no exception.  I love this picture because it captures all the skeins in the gradient and because there’s something perfect about the way the circle draws my eye around and around and around the rainbow.

The Gotland / Teeswater fleece pictured here is one of the first fleeces I purchased (at SAFF 2016) to process by hand.  This picture is of the raw fleece and I love all the different colors in the fleece.  I took this picture just before I washed it.  I have yet to comb or spin it.

 

Tiger

I take a ridiculous number of pictures of our cat, Tiger.  He’s so photogenic.  He’s also ridiculously cuddly.  Sometimes he’s so cute and happy with cuddles that I don’t want to disturb him, but I’m also bored.  I almost always have my phone with me, so I whip it out and take pictures of him.  Of course, I take many close ups of his face.

But I am also rather obsessed with taking pictures of his paws.

 

And the way his tail wraps around his body and curls up beside his hip is one of the most precious things in the world.

Life

My husband grew up in Toms River, NJ.  Toms River is right about in the middle of the New Jersey coastline, separated by the intracoastal from Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, NJ.  He grew up going to the Seaside beach constantly.  His grandmother and an aunt each lived a couple blocks from the beach where the boardwalk was.  Superstorm Sandy destroyed much of the boardwalk.  If you watched any of the coverage of that storm, you might remember a picture of a roller coaster in the ocean.  That was the Seaside boardwalk where my husband grew up.  After Sandy, the boardwalk was rebuilt in record time, and the businesses lining it reopened for the following summer season.  That fall, one year after Sandy, an electrical short started a fire that burned six blocks of the newly-rebuilt boardwalk (this article says 3 blocks, but it was really 3 blocks in Seaside Heights plus 3 blocks in Seaside Park for a total of six blocks).  Fire trucks came from all over the state to fight that fire.  In the end, they were only able to put it out by bulldozing out part of the new boardwalk to create a fire break.

Three months after the fire, we were in New Jersey for Christmas, so we went down to the boardwalk to view the devastation.  The picture before is a charred piece of wood, about 4 inches long, embedded in the sand near where the fire started.

Birds

My father is a birdwatcher; I’ve been birdwatching with him since I was 6 months old, in a backpack on his back.  Last year, we attended the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.  One of the tours we took was a bird banding tour.  The guide was a licensed bird bander.  We accompanied him to the location where he bands and helped him to capture three birds for banding.  He applied a band to each bird, weighed them, measured their wings, beaks, and leg bones, then released them.  This is a Bachman’s Sparrow, an uncommon species which is in decline due to habitat loss.

 

In the vendor area of the festival, was a booth operated by a bird rescue.  They brought several of their education birds — birds that will never be able to released back to the wild due the extent of injury — and you could have a picture taken with the bird of your choice.  I picked the Golden Eagle because I am a Ravenclaw and the Eagle is the emblem of our House.  Note that I am not holding this bird.  Only licensed handlers are able to do that.  The eagle is sitting on the gloved hand of the handler and I am standing beside her.  The picture is taken from a clever angle, making it seem that I’m closer than I actually am!

In the Yard

Several years ago, I got lenses for my iPhone camera.  I didn’t know such a thing was possible until I was traveling on business and a colleague had them for her phone.  I was so excited, I bought myself a set.  I especially loved the macro lens.

Leaf and tendril from the grape vines.  We’ve since pulled them out because they were growing up against the house, destroying the paint and the window screens.  Plus the neighborhood birds ate all the baby grapes while they were still green so we never got any ourselves.

A cherry tomato, still on the vine.

Lichen on the trunk of a crepe myrtle.

A crab spider on its web.

 

Click here to read Yarn Love Challenge, Day 3: Currently Making.

 

 

The Highlights Reel

While I was at The Knit and Crochet Show, more than one person commented to me that they couldn’t take classes the entire time because it was too much for them to absorb.  Wasn’t I totally overwhelmed?  Nope, not at all.  The entire event was an adrenaline rush and I enjoyed every moment.  A week after I got back, after reliving the entire event through writing the blog posts about it, I crashed.  This wasn’t all because of the show; August is break month for the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup.  I push myself hard during the term, achieving feats of crafting that I otherwise wouldn’t attempt, and I appreciate break month!  Don’t get me wrong — I still crafted and had fun adventures in August and September to date.  Here’s the highlights.

August

S’s 5th Birthday Party

My cousin’s daughter turned 5 and had a birthday party at the zoo.  It was the largest kid’s birthday party I’ve ever attended — 28 kids and 30+ adults.  I made fondant cupcake toppers (I don’t think I’ve mentioned here that I’ve got mad cake skills?  I don’t make cakes as often as in the past).  Since I live 2+ hours from my cousin, she bought cupcakes locally and I put the toppers on when I arrived at the party.

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And I was the first person in line to get my face painted.  I got to the party early so I could get those cupcake toppers on the cupcakes and the few children already there showed no interest in getting their face painted.  I figured I’d beat the rush!

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I knit the birthday girl a Barbie dress.

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Sorting Yarn

A few months ago, my friend Nancy and I went to the home of a member of the weaver’s guild who had passed away (see my blog post).  She wanted her yarn to benefit the guild.  Nancy and I sorted it to pick out anything that was suitable for demos.  We always have a little takeaway for kids and are constantly on the look out for yarn for those.  We packed up any project kits or yarns suitable for weaving and brought those to the guild’s annual auction.  The money raised from the sale of those yarns is designated for demos and will be used to buy yarn for takeaways once we use up our current stash.

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Orlando Shakes Open House

From the Weavers Guild meeting, I went straight to the Orlando Shakespeare theater for their annual open house.  I’ve never made it to this event before and had a great time.  I went to all three panel discussions — one on lighting and sound production, one on building props, and one with the directors and educators about visioning and producing individual plays and the future of the troop.  They also had a small display of props and costumes from previous productions.  Here’s a small selection of the spectacular costumes, which are created in house, in conjunction with the theater department of a local university, and with the help of many volunteers.

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Akerworks

My order from Akerworks arrived!  I got 6 bobbins for my wheel (one in each style) and 3 drop spindles (one in each size).  I didn’t take pictures before they got pressed into service, but I’m sure you’ll see pictures in future blog posts.  I did take a picture of the lovely hand-written note Adan included in the box.

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Ravenclaw Staff

I accepted a position as blog mistress for The Ravenclaw Aerie, the blog for the Ravenclaw Tower in the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup.  This is a big part of the reason for the neglect of my own blog; planning and executing for that blog has taken the time I had for blogging.  Now that we’re on a schedule over there, I expect to be back to my own blog regularly!  Most of what’s on The Ravenclaw Aerie is probably only of interest to those in Ravenclaw Tower or the Cup, but one of the first posts is about something else I did in August.  Ravenclaw Porcupine Snuggles works at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  She and two of her colleagues drove from Baltimore to New Smyrna Beach, FL to release Cougar, a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.  I met them in New Smyrna Beach so I could witness the release, and Porcupine Snuggles and I wrote a blog post about it for the Aerie.

Disney with Beth

My friend Beth came on vacation for a week and we spent lots of time at Disney!  We ate at the Be Our Guest restaurant in the new part of Fantasy Land in the Magic Kingdom.  We did not expect to be able to get a reservation because this restaurant, the interior of which is a replica of the castle in Beauty and the Beast, is sold out 6 months in advance.  We checked anyway; someone must have cancelled because we got a 1:15 pm reservation!  The restaurant is stunning inside and out.

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On the day we went to EPCOT, it poured.  My mother, Beth, and I walked from The Land to Journey through the Imagination without seeing any one else walking around (everyone else was smarter than us — when we got to Journey through the Imagination, the ride was down because the building was struck by lightning!).  It was eerie, and made us think about what the park is like after it closes.  We waited for Journey through the Imagination to be back up, and after we got off the ride, the rain had settled down to a normal rain shower rather than a deluge.  We headed towards the World Showcase, wading through a calf-deep puddle on our way there.

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All the rain made for a beautiful sunset!

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Sick

A couple days after Disney, my husband got sick with a very bad cold.  I caught it from him and it turned into a sinus infection.  Yuck!  For the last week of August and the first week of September, we took turns feeling misearable.  Not much got accomplished around here.  I was coughing so much that fiber crafting wasn’t even viable 🙁

September

L’s Birthday

Fortunately, I felt better in time to fly to New York City for a long weekend celebrating my sister’s 40th birthday.  Before she arrived on Friday evening, her friends and I went to the Global Fashion Capitals exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum.  Here’s a couple of interesting pieces from that exhibit.

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We were trying to decide what to do next when I saw someone walk by with a Mood bag.  For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Mood is a fabric store and is the place contestants on Project Runway shop for the fabric used to make their creations.  We decided to go to Mood and since it was a lovely day we walked the 10 blocks to the shop.  I was totally overwhelmed by Mood.  On the ground floor, there’s a two-story section of upholstery and other home decoration fabrics.  To get to the main shop, you take this old elevator, operated by an elevator attendant, to the third floor.  Once there, you have another 3 stories of every fabric imaginable.  I have no idea how the contestants manage to shop for fabric in only 30 minutes!

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Yes, I did pet Swatch!
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One section of the leather department.

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One day, we went to the Tenement Museum (no pix allowed there).  Our grandfather grew up in the Depression-era tenements of the Bronx, so this was a poignant visit for us.  Afterwards, we wandered around SoHo and I bought my first ever pair of Fluevogs.

Later that evening, my sister and her friends went to a play.  They bought tickets before I committed to the trip, and I wasn’t able to get a ticket to the show.  Instead, I took a train out to Long Island to visit law school classmates and meet their 4-month-old baby.  It was good to see them!

The next day, my sister, her friends, and I went to the Cloisters Museum, and visited their famous room of unicorn tapestries.

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We ate fabulous food every day, including the best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten, from The Doughnut Plant.  The interior of the shop was adorable, with doughnut pillows on the wall, a doughnut tile backsplash, and donut chairs!

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The last night, my sister and I stayed in her friend’s apartment in Brooklyn.  The friend was out of town, but gave us a key.  The apartment came with bonus kitty, Billie.

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Billie was super sweet and reminded me of my Pepper, whom I still miss very much!

Although I lived in the Northeast for nearly 30 years, I had never spent more than an afternoon in New York City before this trip.  I had a wonderful time and hope I get to visit again!

Spamalot

For the fifth year in a row, Chris and I have season tickets for the Orlando Shakespeare theater.  The first show of the season was Spamalot!  It was absolutely spectacular.  If you have the opportunity, you should totally see this show.

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Orlando Maker Faire

Last weekend was the Orlando Maker Faire.  The Drunken Monkey Spinners and Weavers of Orlando shared a booth for the event.  Nancy and I spent the entire weekend in the booth; other members of the two groups spent one day or the other.

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This was the fourth year of the Orlando Maker Faire.  Last year, they expanded from the Science Center and included some exhibits in the park.  This year, they expanded further, with arts and crafts exhibits in the Orlando Museum of Art, which is located on the opposite side of the park from the Science Center.  The expected attendance at this event was 15,000; I didn’t hear an actual number after the event, but it is by far the highest attendance at any event where I’ve demoed.

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The Science Center was wall-to-wall people; the Art Museum, where we were located, was steady but manageable.  This was a fantastic event to demo.  The people coming to this events are makers themselves.  They like to know how things work and ask lots of questions!  I spun the 50/50 Camel Down / Silk that I bought from Red Fish Dyeworks at The Knit and Crochet Show.  I only got 1 ounce spun, out of 4, in the 17 hours I spent spinning!  This is partially because I talked to lots of people, but also because it is spinning very fine.

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Hey — there’s one of the Akerworks bobbins I got in August!

Florida Fiber In

This weekend is the Florida Fiber In.  I went last night, but won’t make it there the rest of the weekend.  I picked up some Black-Faced Valois locks and some Bombyx Silk fiber, and spent a couple hours spinning and chatting!

Fiber Crafting

The new HPKCHC term started on September 1 and I’ve been crafting like a mad woman.  I haven’t taken pix of anything yet, but I’m working on that today and tomorrow.  I’ll have a Year of Projects update post sometime tomorrow.

Ongoing

I have also been working on improving skills to benefit my blog.  I bought my first DSLR camera (a Canon 70D (affiliate link)) and a Pro-Am video camera (Canon XA-10 (affiliate link)).  I added Adobe Stock to my Adobe Cloud subscription.  I used my Lynda.com subscription to learn how to use Adobe Bridge, then used Bridge to move all my photos out of Apple’s Photos app and into their own folders on my external hard drive.  I’m still working on adding metadata and tags to the photos.  I had 19,000 photos and videos in Photos and have a very hard time actually finding anything when I’m looking for it!  It’s a lot of work to organize, but I believe it will be worth it in the end.  I’m just starting the Lynda.com courses on Adobe After Effects and Lightroom, to further improve my photography and videography skills.

So that’s the highlight reel of the last six weeks.  What’s your highlights?

 

Ravenclaw Houndstooth Scarf

I planned to finish this scarf before my sister and I went to Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando on January 16.  I finished all the weaving a week in advance, but needed to remove the header, tie the tassels, and wet finish it.  I was having so much fun hanging out with my sister throughout that week that I never got around to finishing the scarf until a few days after she left.  I didn’t wear it to Harry Potter World on this trip, but I’m sure I’ll be back there and have another opportunity to wear my House colors!

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MAPLE LEAF the Third and MAPLE LEAF the Fifth

I finally finished MAPLE LEAF the Third!  It took a while to weave in all those ends, but I got it done.  I finished MAPLE LEAF the Fifth also and blocked the two shawls yesterday.

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MAPLE LEAF the Second

I finished the second MAPLE LEAF shawl during the last few days of May.  Knitting this shawl as written results in 52 ends to be woven in after knitting is complete.  I prefer to avoid weaving in that many ends if I can.  In the Ravelry pattern notes, the designer said you could crochet slip stitch from the cast on point to where you need to start knitting next.  When I knit MAPLE LEAF the First, I discovered that if I wanted to crochet slip stitch, I could not knit the pattern in the order it was written because I would have to slip stitch across live stitches.  So I modified the pattern by rearranging the order of knitting so that I would not be slip stitching across live stitches.  Unfortunately, I did not take notes while knitting MAPLE LEAF the First, mostly because I was knitting off my iPad rather than a printed pattern.  For MAPLE LEAF the Second, I took notes as I went along.  This post will include all my modifications, by reference to the original pattern.  It’s taken this long for me to write up this post because I knew it would take a while to write it and I did not have enough time during the first couple weeks of June.

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Stashdown

In December 2013, I looked at my shelves of yarn and noticed how they runneth over.  My craft supplies, including most of my yarn, are stored on two bookshelves in my bedroom.  I originally designated three shelves for animal fiber yarns,  one shelf for cotton yarns, one shelf for my knitting books, and one shelf for finished projects waiting to be gifted and UFOs. Here’s what the shelves looked like when I first put my yarn on them:

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By the end of 2013, 6 shelves were stuffed with yarn, and I had more yarn that I needed to put away but did not have space.  I updated my Rav stash to current, and discovered that I had 93,835 yards (that’s 53.32 miles) of yarn.  That is too much.  Something needed to change.

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HPKCHC Spring 2014 Term

The Harry Potter Knitting / Crocheting House Cup (HPKCHC) Spring 2014 Term started on May 1.  Before term starts, I usually plan out my projects.  I did some of my usual planning for this term, but did not finish or get a chance to write a blog post about it because of getting ready for and attending Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Today, I am finishing my planning.  I did talk about this topic in the one podcast episode I published, but in case you haven’t seen that episode, I will explain in detail how the game works and how I plan for a new term.

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First Ever Granny Square

I’ve known how to knit for more than 20 years, but I only learned to crochet last year.  I tried to teach myself crochet at the same time I taught myself to knit, but never quite got it right.  So last year, my friend Stacy taught me how to crochet.  In that year, I’ve crocheted dishcloths.  That’s all.  I wanted to expand my crochet skills, but just hadn’t gotten around to it.  Then I discovered that the Ravenclaws are planning a Blanket Square Term for the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC).  I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

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