Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SF Zinefest 2017

The weekend before last Connor and I went to San Francisco Zine Fest. I'd been trying to go for years, but something always came up. Last year we went to Joe and Emily's wedding. The year before that I realized it had passed exactly one day after it had happened. This year there was nothing standing in my way.

For those of you who don't know what a zine is, it is typically a little self-published magazine someone has made using a copy machine. (I guess there is some controversy over whether or not a book made using a printer or publisher counts. Most of the books we saw had previously been in zine form or on the internet, so the book was more of a compilation.) Zines can be about literally anything. It might have essays on someone's opinion on carrot juice or just have photos of socks. Connor said that if it were possible to walk into the internet, zinefest would be the closest to that experience.

We weren't sure what to expect at zinefest, but after walking into the building the event we were handed a map and wandered our way into the reading room. The reading room had a ton of zines that anyone was welcome to sit down and read.
This is maybe and eighth of what was available to read

Most of the zines in the reading room were from past years and weren't available any more. I took a picture of this one so I could look up the author later, but out turned out that he was tabling and had this for sale.

There was so much to do and see, I'll admit I got rather overwhelmed. I did get to see two people I knew who were tabling: Maia Kobabe and Amy Watson. Maia Kobabe writes fantastic comics about gender identity. I've learned quite a few things, including gender neutral pronouns. (E, em, eir in place of he/she, him/her, their.) Amy Watson is the woman behind 1984 printing. She is the one who printed Lit Knits.

We did come away with some treasures. There were so many different types of zines, but I was more in the mood for comic books.
The top two books are by Andy Warner. I really love his command of the medium, but also I'm a sucker for histories of things you might encounter in every day life. I had heard of his Brief Histories book, but also picked up When We Were Kids just to give it a read. I asked Andy how he ended up making a whole book on everyday objects and he said he had drawn about ten of them, but wasn't getting paid, so he quit. He had made them into a zine and sent them to various comic stores. It just so happened that someone from Picador (the publisher of the book) went into one of these shops, picked up the zine, and loved it so much he asked Andy if he'd like to make a whole book on the topic. Andy said yes. He said it really was an out-of-the-blue opportunity as he hadn't drawn that series for two years at the time of the offer.
We also picked up Liz Prince's book Be Your Own Backing Band. It is a collection of music-related diary comics that had originally been in Razorcake. I really like her comedic timing in her comics.
Finally, we found Slices, by Jaime Crespo. Slices has 40 1-page vignettes of different people who Jaime has run into in his life. He sure has met crazy people!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more comics to read.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Accounting For Knitting Time

Whew, it's been a wild two weeks since I last wrote. I started school last week and it has taken some time to adjust to the change in the amount of time I have to myself. One of those classes is Accounting, which I've found has a steep learning curve, but I'm enjoying none the less. The other class I'm taking is beginning watercolor. I've tried to watercolor for years and I just never felt like I had a good command of what I was doing. I'm really enjoying myself already. Partially because the teacher is so kind and partially because I haven't mentioned that I have any painting experience, so I don't feel like I need to create masterpieces. It's been freeing.
I think the plums came out the best

Meanwhile, I've managed to finish my Cider House socks. I realize that I never mentioned them here on the blog, but they have been mentioned on my instagram. I adjusted the Primavera Sock pattern to accommodate my sport weight handspun.

It took me four tries to get contrast yarn I liked to match my handspun. This seems to be a trend when I need yarn to match my handspun. In the end I bought a skein of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in sport weight in the Fedora color way.

And because I got something off of the needles, I rewarded myself with casting on something new. I bought this ball of Stray Cat Socks last year just after Halloween. I've been looking forward to the "I must have Halloween socks" bug to bite me and it has. With the way classes are I thought I ought to start now to guarantee that I finish in time for Halloween.

The Mother-In-Law Primavera Socks have also gone pretty well. I am mostly done with the foot of the first sock, but have had to put it aside until I can verify the foot length it needs to be. My original measurements seemed a little off and I'd like to get this one right. The Denature sock hasn't gone quite a smoothly. I was just about at the heel when I realized that the leg of the sock was quite a bit longer than I usually knit for myself and it wasn't going to fit up my calf. (Usually I knit a length that doesn't require a gusset for my calf.) So rip, rip, rip. I've had to do some extra work to make the pattern shorter and still have it line up correctly on the heel flap. Sigh.

Despite being able to fit in some knitting time, I'm still a little worried about how long that will last. Accounting is pretty tough and I'll be starting a second accounting class in the second week of October. I'd better knit as much as I can for now!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Oregon Caves

Last weekend Connor and I went up to Oregon to visit my family. Part of the trip was spent making recordings of my Oma's stories of growing up in WWII Germany, but we also were able to visit with a number of other relatives too. I also was able to share the Oregon Caves with Connor. I hadn't been in a number of years. They aren't open year round, so we took advantage while we were in the area.
Oregon Caves National Monument set aside by President Taft on July 12, 1909

My aunt, uncle, and their grandkids joined us. We've been to a number of caves, but it is interesting how different each one is. We were told that the Oregon Caves are made of marble, which is rather unusual. I noticed that these caves were much colder than any of the other ones I'd been in before, although I'm not sure why that was.
The Paradise Lost formation

Part way through, one of the kiddos wasn't feeling so well, so my aunt left with him through a rather handy door that was available to exit by at the 40% mark of the tour. After going through the caves, Connor and I opted to do the extra nature hike that looped down to the visitor center. My uncle took the remaining kiddos directly down.

After doing the short hike, Connor and I had a look at the visitor center. They have this neat model that shows you the route you walk on the tour.

We also picked up a magnet and patch while we were there.

I'm glad I got to share a childhood memory with Connor and make some new ones with my family.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Duderino

But sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Dude here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.

I'd seen the movie "The Big Lebowski" before, but Connor hadn't, so a few months ago we watched it. Connor immediately identified with the main character, The Dude.

Not long after I came across Andrea Rangel's The Knitter's Dude pattern. It was clear that Connor needed his own Dude Sweater.

This is the first sweater I've knit for Connor. I told him hand knit sweaters are like a knitter's hug. He agrees.

Connor did ask for a slight modification. The pattern's instructions are for a button closure. Connor wanted to have a zipper instead. It took me two different zippers to get it to work. I cut the first zipper too short and then had a bit of a meltdown because I didn't realize I cut it too short until it was fully installed... four hours after I started. The second zipper went in much faster.

Connor is planning to channel his inner Dude for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Joyful And Fuzzy Spirit

Happy 15th Birthday, Scooter!

We have been buddies for quite some time now and I'm impressed by your continued enthusiasm for life... and treats.

When you first rocketed into our lives, we didn't know how long we would get to enjoy your playful spirit.

I'm glad it has been for this long and I look forward to each day that we get to continue enjoying each other's company.

Things are looking good as you leap into your next year of life.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Logjam or Time

While Connor and I were hiking the other day we had a great conversation about the different projects were were interested in. I've got a million ideas, like usual, and felt frustrated about how I couldn't ever get to all of them. Connor lamented the lack of time he has for his projects. We then realized that there are really only two reasons a project isn't finished: Either you have a logjam or there is a time problem.

The Logjam: Mum uses this word when there is something in the way of completing a project. For example, if the house isn't clean, the logjam might be something big like you don't know where to start, or something small like you ran out of bleach. I think that with creative projects, it is more often that you don't know how to move forward rather than you don't have the right tool. One of the biggest reasons (although not the only reason) that I spent years not putting my daily comic online was because I had no idea how to create the website I wanted for it. I feel that most of these issues can be resolved by breaking project down into smaller bites, doing research, or enlisting some help. In the case of the comic website, I realized that I was never going to be able to get the calendar to work the way I wanted it to. It was beyond me. I enlisted Connor and my father to figure it out, which they did quite successfully.

Time: Connor told me that the reason he has not worked on his project because he hasn't scheduled the time for it. We realized that most people figure there will be time for a project eventually. The good old, "I'll get to it one day." I know this to not be true. If I don't chip a little bit away at a project each day, it never gets done. I've started to multitask to get some particularly boring bits of the comic project done. In the morning when I'm eating breakfast, I've started to edit my comics rather than browse the internet. I usually get an extra page edited per day if I do that.

So what have I done in order to get some of my projects to the finish line? Well, today I finally got around to taking pictures of the Peeta Socks for my Dad.

Not everyone I showed was convinced that these looked like Dad socks, but my Dad was thrilled. Proper amounts of ooing and ahhing were done.

I've turned the heel of the Primavera sock. I just need to schedule some time to sit down and pick up the stitches for the gusset. The Denature socks are getting the odd round done when I'm in the car.

Connor's Dude Sweater is getting closer and closer to being done. I successfully stepped the sweater, but realized that the facing I was planning for it wasn't going to work because it wasn't compatible with the collar. The sweater sat for a few days as I tried to move past my logjam and work out how to proceed. I think I've got an idea of what to do now. Although it won't be as perfect as I had envisioned, I think it will still look quite nice when I am done.


So what prevents all of you from completing projects? Is it a logjam, time, or are there more reasons out there?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

67 Yards Of Disappointment

Earlier in July I posted a blog about how I felt that talent could be acquired through persistence rather than randomly bestowed ability. José left a compelling comment pointing out that there are more actions that are needed when creating than just practice. In José's own words, "But how about an eye for detail, and for colour? And how about originality? I wonder if lots of practice alone is enough to come up with original ideas?" Those words tumbled around in my mind for the last two weeks. It's really hard to quantify practice vs. talent because even with practice, people are going to have different original ideas. I can only speak from my own experience, but I still think that practice is what leads to creativity.

I remember a day about 15 years ago when I decided I wanted to be better at drawing and I was going to do that by first observing everything around me. When I would go on walks, I would do my best to pay attention to the details surrounding me: the way a leaf created shadow on the ground, how different people's noses curved differently. Then I'd go and try to draw it all. I remember the great disappointment that my hand just wouldn't draw what my mind had thought up. I suspect most artists, even those advanced in their careers, have days when their brain and hand doesn't match up.

The other thing I observed is that the more work I created, the more ideas I had. There was just something about practicing that lead to more original ideas. Although the ideas sometimes came in cycles. When I was working on practicing a technique, the ideas slowed down, but when I started to master a technique, then the original ideas came. What kinds of experiences have you all had in regards to creativity and originality?

Meanwhile, in my own creative pursuits, I've had a bit of a failure. I decided I wasn't happy with the way the color of my current cuff/heel/toe looked against my Cider House socks, so I decided to spin a different colored 3-ply yarn. I was going for a DK and ended up with an Aran weight yarn. I knit up a cuff with this yarn and it was clear I wasn't going to be able to get away with the thicker yarn. It's pretty disappointing because I don't have anymore dark brown to try with.
67 yards of disappointment

Luckily that was the only spinning disaster I had. The second skein I was working on for Tour de Fleece came out beautifully. I spun up both braids of my Wonderland Dyeworks 80/20 Merino/Tussah Silk roving in the Coral Reef color way and came out with 360 yards of a 2 ply DK weight yarn.

I've also made great progress with Connor's Dude Sweater. After reading a bunch on steeks, I decided to go with a crochet reinforced steek rather than a sewn one. Connor asked to have a zipper rather than the buttons recommended in the pattern. I've decided that I'm going to use a combination of Tech Knitter's faced steek and Kate Davies's Steel Sandwich tutorials to complete the sweater. But first I'm waiting on a shipment from Knitpicks to arrive so I have the right tool to install the zipper.

So with all my other knits in limbo, I've cast on two different socks to make up the difference in my knitting time. On the left is the Denature Socks in my ball of Stray Cat Socks' Silver Star color way. I've carried this ball on many of my vacations, including Florida and Hawaii, but haven't cast on until now. I also have cast on another Primavera sock. I liked how the Cider House socks looked and thought that it would look good in the skein of Madelinetosh Sock in the Shire color way I got while visiting Black Mountain Yarns.

Here's to another week of creating!
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