Sunday, October 17, 2010

In which I encounter a caracal and discover a new yarn shop.

There are two yarn shops that are close to me in Long Beach. One has recently closed its doors and while I have heard they have plans of reopening, who knows when that will actually happen or where they will be. This has left me with one local yarn store which, while a decent store for various reasons, is not the yarn store of my dreams. Many of the people who work there are haughty and I usually can't wait to get out of there. I go only when I desperately need something I know they will have.

This, combined with the opportunity to drive south for over an hour and a half on a day trip meant that I got to stop by Clever Knits, a cute yarn store in Vista, CA. But why was I on a day trip in the first place?

This weekend Terri and I celebrated our 2 years together. We drove down to Escondido yesterday to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park). It was a roaringly fun day exploring the park and seeing all the animals. My favorite memory is seeing the animal encounter with the Caracal.

Animal encounters are where they actually have the animals outside their enclosures. The one we saw was just outside on a grassy area. One trainer had the caracal, named Carlton, on a leash and in her other hand was what looked like an oversized cat toy on an really long rope. Just as we got there she started moving the cat toy all over the place and Carlton would run and jump and did some back flips too. It was really an awesome sight to see. When he caught the toy he just sat down and held it in his mouth for a long time as if to say, "Got it! Mine. All mine. Got it."

Before we set out on our adventure I did a little searching on the Internet to see if there would be any yarn shops that we could stop at on our way back. First, I wanted to stop because I am tired of my local yarn store's attitude. Second, one of the best ways for knitters to commemorate a trip is to buy yarn there. And this being a special day celebrating a special occasion, I felt justified in adding to my stash.

I could not be happier with my decision to stop at Clever Knits. The store, like many yarn shops, is rather small. But I have never had a better experience at a yarn store. I felt welcome, appreciated, and valued. I wasn't rushed and I wasn't hassled. No one stared at me.

The woman behind the counter I later found out was the owner's mother. A short haired slender lady with metal rimmed glasses she simply stated to feel free to ask any questions if I needed help. The center of the room is dominated with two sitting areas, one with a couch and several cozy looking chairs in fresh chic prints and the other a long table, perfect for laying out large projects or taking a class. Along one wall was a bookshelf that I simply didn't look into because I knew I would want one of everything, a small basket of five or six bolts of fabric in adorable and modern prints, a wall of hanging patterns, and a notions corner with lantern moon needles that, when I saw them, I almost drooled.

Really, I needed a bib to be in this place because the other wall was covered in yarn. And not just any yarn, yarns I have heard knitters talk about on the internet but that I had never actually seen or touched. There was Malabrigo, unfortunately only in a lime green color or I probably would have bought some. Trekking XXL in one of my favorite dark turquoise colors that faded to black and back again. There were others too, like delicious cashmere and silk blends. The shop also carried a line of organic wool yarns that I had not seen before. Not to be too out in the stratosphere, there was also a large selection of the ever useful Cascade 220.

I decided to go with a ball of sock yarn that is dyed by a local hand dyer. I have been drooling over hand dyed yarns over the Internet and ruining perfectly good keyboards for some time. Apparently the theme of this post is drool. I love supporting local businesses as well as local artists. It helps me make living in a big city not feel so big. The yarn also earned "+2 buy me" because it is various gradations of my current favorite color.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Cockroach Kitchen - in which I deviate a bit from blathering on about knitting

Terri and I moved to our new apartment several months ago. As you live in a place you start to really get to know the quirks about it, or why it was cheaper than other places you inquired into.

The building went up in the 70's, so much of it is older and in need of some care. When we toured the place the apartment itself seemed very clean with new paint and fixtures and the like. It was one of the cleanest we looked at. And we looked at a lot of places. As we began living here, however, it became aparant that we are not alone.

The saving grace in it all is that they are not everywhere, they are only in the kitchen. The cockroaches take advantage of something I did not know to look out for, an improperly sealed kitchen. There are gaps in every corner and crevice inside the cupboards where wood should meet wall. I'm not even really sure how you could mess up a cupboard install so poorly. Isn't it all supposed to be sealed?
We have tried all the normal options. Roach traps. Borax killer stuff. Telling the management and having the bug man spray. Then I found a gap under the kitchen cabinet that is probably an inch wide. Who knows where it leads but I'm betting somewhere into a neighbor's apartment where they don't care so much about the roaches.
Terri and I have been using foam sealer to try to fill in these gaps. It is seriously easy to use, just shake the can, point and spray. I did a bunch of sealing of the upper cabinets yesterday and got so excited about using it that I forgot to change into grubby clothes and ruined a pair of pants. Oops!

We are on a sealing quest. I don't want to live with cockroaches and I have to do everything in my own power to get them out. I am hoping that sealing will solve a lot of the problems. We just have to make sure to seal everywhere. I'm even going to seal around the dishwasher. Deposit back? Meh, I can scrape all the foam off if I want to when we leave.

After we've sealed everything we can I'm going to get fresh roach traps and have the bug man come spray again.

Despite my determination though, the cockroach has been around a lot longer than we have. Mad props for that.
Wasn't that a lovely digression into cockroaches. Ick! I have actually been knitting quite a lot lately, much more than I had expected. More on that to come, and with pictures too!

Sweater Debut

Bye bye September!

Things I remember from you:
- The week before my birthday, which Terri declared my birthday week and for which I got a present every day. Me, lucky? Yes.
- My birthday. Dinner, friends, karaoke with wigs. Yes, wigs.
- School. Teaching clarinet students. Scary and terrifying and exciting.
- The hottest temperatures in a long time. Probably to make up for the surprisingly mild summer we had. All the hot of summer came packed late in September on two days.

But I knew that hot weather would pass and now October wishes to declare that it is rightfully here with some colder winds and spitting rain.

It hasn't really rained here in a long time. The kind of rain that makes really good puddles and washes your car for you. Most of the rain has been the sprinkly-make-your-car-even-dirtier kind of rain. Which is the kind of rain October has started with today.

Bring it on October! Because I have a sweater made for you and your weather. It's cable band around my shoulders and snug nubbly sleeves are ready to keep your cold away.

Today I debuted my Cable for Jeans sweater of the previous post... even though I haven't sewn on the snaps yet. No matter though, because it really isn't cold enough to need it closed all the time, and a safety pin in just the right spot did most of the work.

It was snuggly and delicious. Like drinking a cup of hot chocolate everywhere I went; walking along, tasting the sweet warmth.