Falcon Heavy: The Preparations

My husband is a space geek.  He’s old enough, just barely, to remember when we landed on the moon and he’s loved space ever since.  We are both sci-fi geeks and Chris especially loves shows about exploration.  He loves discovery and adventure.  Naturally, all of this means he particularly loves Elon Musk and Space X.

Tomorrow, February 6, Space X is scheduled to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time.  Falcon Heavy is a BFD.  The stats on it are impressive.  Rather than reciting them, I’m going to refer you to Space X’s website.  The important thing is that this is the first launch of a rocket that could be used to put humans back on the Moon or to land on Mars for the first time.  And we are going to be there.

Falcon 9 will be launching from Kennedy Space Center Pad 39A.  This pad has been the origin of more than 90 missions to space, including the Apollo 11 mission that put men on the moon and many space shuttle missions.  After the shuttle program was discontinued and before Space X leased the pad, you could take a tour inside the fenced perimeter.  Naturally, we took that tour.

Chris and I with Pad 39A in the background, circa September 2015.

 

Chris listening to our guide tell us the history of pads 39A and 39B.

 

Our feet, right on the line which we weren’t allowed to step past. The bricks are the same kind used in kilns because they have to withstand the heat of the rockets.

Tickets for the Falcon Heavy Launch went on sale while we were in New Jersey.  We bought tickets to be at the Saturn V center, located 3.9 miles from the launch pad.  This is the closest that members of the public can get.  The launch is scheduled for 1:30 pm and our pass tells us we must be there at least 5 hours before launch time.  It’s a 1.5 hour drive from here to Kennedy Space Center, so we are leaving the house at 6:00 am to make sure we are there in time!

So tonight, I packed a little bag and in the bag I put:

  • 5 pairs of binoculars
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Eye drops (for our contacts)
  • Lip Balm
  • My Sun Hat
  • Benadryl and AviQ.  I have an anaphylactic allergy to fire ants, so if I’m going to be outside in Florida, I always bring these.
  • The set of lenses and filters I have for my iPhone
  • A battery to charge our phones, if necessary
  • And a knitting project, naturally.  We’ve got to be there early and the launch window is 2.5 hours long, so there will be a lot of waiting around!

I’ll post more tomorrow evening!

Coming Home

While I was away, I wrote long posts with few pictures.  Thanks for sticking it out.  We got home last night, so I thought I’d do something I rarely do: a photo essay.

Knitting on the plane on the way home.  All I have left on the Begonia Swirl Shawl is the bind off!

 

Tiger was happy to see his favorite person.

 

Our refrigerator is NEVER this empty!

 

Amazon delivered some books while I was away.

 

I missed wearing sandals!!

 

Apparently it got too cold for too long. The galangal isn’t happy. Hopefully, we will be able to harvest the roots.

Emergency Knitting, Again

Over the last several years, I’ve spent a lot of time doing emergency knitting.  I’ve knit at the vet while one cat or another was having an emergency exam or procedure.  I’ve knit in hospital rooms, while visiting with a friend or family member.  I’ve knit at home or in the homes of family members, while keeping a quiet vigil during a loved ones’ last days.

Managing during difficult situations is one of the oft-cited benefits of knitting.  Knitting is the perfect thing to keep your hands and, depending on the project and what you need, your mind occupied.  The repetitive motion of the needles is soothing and the quiet click the needles make as they slide past each other is a white noise.  You feel like you are doing something, which helps stave off the desperate realization that sometimes there is nothing that you can do.  Knitting takes off just a little bit of that edge and allows you to be more present in whatever challenging circumstance you face.

Yesterday, I found myself picking out emergency knitting projects.  We got the call that we knew would come sometime in the not too distant future.  My mother-in-law passed away.  We were able to find a flight for late in the day and we flew up to New Jersey.  We don’t know yet how long we’ll be here.

This is a little bit different than the other times I’ve picked out emergency knitting projects.  I had a little time to contemplate which projects to bring — I didn’t have to just grab whatever WIP I could find on short notice.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here, so I don’t know how much time I will need to fill with knitting.  I expect that most of the knitting I get done, will probably be done in the evening or other down times, as a way to relax.  I won’t be knitting while exhausted or knitting in dark spaces, so I could bring more complicated knitting rather than a plain stockinette project.

All of this added up to lace.  It takes a while and is perfect for occupying the mind when you need a distraction.  Plus, I have several lace WIPs in varying degrees of difficulty, so I can make progress on reducing my pile of WIPs and account for different levels of concentration.  I ended up bringing 3 projects, all of them lace shawl WIPs.

Begonia Swirl

The first project I packed for this trip is Begonia Swirl.  If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve knit this before.  A friend of mine borrowed it and accidentally felted it.  A few months later, I bought the yarn to reknit it.  I’m not sure exactly when I cast on, but according to my January 15, 2016  blog post, it was months before that.  I’ve done significant knitting on it since then, but it has been months since I picked it up.  Here’s how it looks right now.

This project was a good choice under the circumstances.  It’s a straightforward pattern, mostly stockinette.  I do have to count stitches as I knit, since I did not put in stitch markers to separate sections, but if I mess up it is easy to figure out where I am.

Morrigan

This shawl is one that I have never blogged about and I never created a Ravelry project for it.  I cast it on in August 2015, knit about half of it and haven’t looked at it since.  The pattern is Morrigan by Beata Jezek (Ravelry link) and I’m knitting it with Nerd Girl Yarns Stellar, a laceweight yarn that is 75% Merino, 20% Silk, and 5% silver-toned Stellina, in the Colorway Merlin.  I picked the pattern because Morrigan and Merlin are both part of the King Arthur mythology.  It’s not a difficult lace pattern, but of the projects I brought with me, this is the one that requires the most focus to knit because it is not a primarily stockinette pattern.

 

Linea

The final project is a shawl I started in mid-2107 and I have neither written a blog post about it nor added it to my Ravelry projects.  This one is Linea by LaVisch Designs (Ravelry link).  I am knitting it with Baah La Jolla (100% Superwash Merino) in Brazilian Emerald.

I sometimes test knit for LaVisch Designs and she earburns me to her Ravelry group whenever she has a new test knit available.  This pattern is not one that I test knit; I bought the pattern after it was released.

Linea is a pretty basic knit and certainly the easiest of any of the projects I brought with me.  One of my goals for 2017 was to knit some larger shawls.  Linea is written for one skein of fingeringweight yarn, but I plan to use two skeins.  I will increase the number of repeats of the body pattern until I think I have just enough to do the large border and bind off.  I’m currently 3/4 of the way through the first skein.

WIP Wednesday: January 3, 2018

This week, I’m sharing my two active projects.  I have a lot of WIPs / UFOs that are sitting around, waiting for me to get to them.  As part of the inventory that I blogged about on Monday, I will be making sure Ravelry is up-to-date with those projects.

SassyBee Orchid

My current spinning project is two batts of SassyBee Orchid on Polwarth.

SassyBee Fibers (this is a link to her FB page as her website isn’t active) is a vendor at The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana, which I have attended for the last 3 or 4 years.  I love her batts and I have a pile of them.  In fact, all the batts in the suitcase full of batts, pictured in Monday’s post about inventory, are SassyBee batts.  In addition, one of the big bins in the big pile of bins is full of SassyBee batts.  They are so beautiful, but I had not spun any of them.  In fact, I had never spun from a batt at all.  On the first Friday in December, I spent the day spinning as a demo during the Weavers of Orlando Annual Holiday Sale.  My wheel was empty, so I grabbed a SassyBee batt and spun that the entire day.  I’ve spun a little more on it since, but not a lot due to the holidays.  I’m about 3/4 of the way through the first batt.

 

Mesa

Last year, my LYS had an Anzula trunk show.  This cape (available on Ravelry) was one of the sample items Anzula brought with them as part of the show.  I tried it on and loved it.  I also thought my mother would love it.  I bought the yarn and the pattern and intended to finish it for her birthday in March.  Then for Mother’s Day in May.  Then for Christmas.  I only have about 10 rows of knitting left, then I have to weave in the ends, sew on buttons, and block it.

An Inventory

This year, we spent Christmas with my in-laws.  My mother-in-law is in poor health.  She has cancer and then got pneumonia.  She was in the hospital for 2.5 weeks, moving to rehab on the Tuesday after Christmas.  For a while, we thought she wasn’t going to make it to Christmas, but she did.  For the moment she’s stable, but the cancer is advanced and at this point we count each day as a gift.  During the time I visited with her, we talked a lot about her life and what has been important to her and what is important to her now.  “None of that stuff matters to me anymore,” she said, referring to her physical possessions.  What matters to her is speaking with and spending time with her people — her children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends.

In November, my husband was laid off from his job.  This was something we’ve expected for some time, so we’ve saved money and he got a severance payment, so we are not in an immediate financial crisis.  He spent most of the last six weeks with his mother and is now starting to look for a job.  We don’t know how long it will take for him to find a job, so we need to manage carefully so that the money we have lasts for as long as possible.  As a result, buying yarn and fiber are definitely off the list!  I must craft from stash.

These two factors have me thinking a lot about what really matters and about how I want to spend my time.  I am feeling the need to let go of some things and consolidate others.  I want to spend more time on my fiber pursuits.  Over the last few years, I’ve acquired an astonishing variety of fiber books, tools, and supplies.  I’ve acquired things at a much quicker clip than I’ve crafted them.  Once upon a time, I kept Ravelry up-to-date, but I fell out of the habit.  I feel as though I don’t really know what I have anymore and to make plans, I need to know what I have.  It’s time for an inventory.

Fortunately, inventorying is in my blood.  For most of my growing up years, my father worked in stock rooms.  When I was very small, he worked in the warehouse of a local clothing store.  When I was 11, we moved to a different state where he had a new job as the manager of a hospital stock room.  My sister and I went to a private school in the same town as the hospital, which was a 30-minute drive from where we lived.  We commuted with my father.  Since we got out of school a couple of hours before he got out of work, we spent those hours at the hospital.  We usually stayed in the cafeteria, working on our homework.  Sometimes, especially on days when they were short-staffed, we hung out in the stock room, working on homework and occasionally answering the phone to take orders from the floors while the employees pulled and delivered the needed items. Twice a year, on a Sunday, the stock room closed for inventory.  All the stock room employees came in, along with people in other administrative departments, and my sister and I.  We counted every single item on every single shelf, balancing the inventory against the computer.

I started my personal inventory process before Christmas.  I started by consolidating — putting away all the random yarn and projects scattered around the house.  It’s a lot easier to do inventory when everything is where it belongs.  It’s a little scary to flash my stash, but here’s the pix so you can see where I am now.

These bins are the main stash collection.  Each of these is a 40 quart bin.  One of the bins holds finished projects waiting to be gifted, but the rest are full of yarn and fiber.  I sorted the fiber by type (wool, plant fiber, blends, batts, etc).  There’s so much wool that it takes up 8 bins and I’ve alphabetized the wool by breed.  I separated the yarn by weaving yarn and knitting / crocheting yarn.  Then I sorted each of those categories  size of the yarn.

 

These shelves hold the yarns made from plant fibers.  It’s mostly cotton, but there’s some linen and bamboo in there also.

 

These batts have been living in this suitcase since I bought them last April because I can’t fit them anywhere else.

 

This pile consists mostly of raw fleece, waiting for me to wash and process it.  There’s also a couple of bags of yarn that I haven’t put away.  That’s my four-harness, 28″ weaving width LeClerc Fanny counterbalance loom under all that fleece.

 

This bin holds raw fleece in smaller quantities.  There’s a variety of breeds in this bin, but no more than a pound from any one fleece.

 

These boxes hold fleeces that I bought and had processed by mills.  I believe there’s three fleeces total in here.  They are sitting on top of my four harness, 22″ weaving width Dorset direct tie-up loom.

These bins and the hamper on top of them hold WIPs.  A couple of years ago, I conquered all my WIPs, but now I have a new pile.

 

These are smaller bins, about twice the size of a shoebox.  They hold a couple of WIPs, including two or three that only need blocking, but mostly they are projects waiting for me to cast on.  I matched yarn to patterns and sometimes the needles are with them also.

 

Finally, this is my fabric collection.  Last spring and summer, I took sewing lessons.  I’ve mostly sewed pillowcases, which we send to the pediatric oncology ward where my cousin works, for nurses to distribute to the kids.  I actually have a lot more fabric than this, but everything I bought for pillowcases is stored at my mother’s house.  This is everything I have at my house.

 

I have complicated feelings about all this stash.  I’ll be writing more about it as I continue the inventory process.  My goal for the next week is to get Ravelry back up-to-date.  I’ve downloaded the spreadsheet of my Ravelry stash as a starting point.  I’ll write an update next week, to share my progress and next goal.