Monday, October 30, 2006

A Brief Diversion

Ladies and gentlemen, we interupt our reguarly scheduled knitting program to bring you this exciting announcement: I went scuba diving!

The best part of the story is the part where I was learning to scuba dive, so I'll save that for last. But I did learn, got temporarily certified and left Puerto Vallarta for an island region called Marietas. Did I mention I'm at a physics conference? A group of nerds went, including one of the lecturers, who is also the advisor of several of the people I went with. Also, I met the girl pictured here, who has just invented this very interesting crochet pet carrier. She's got a patent and everything. I did knit a little on the way out, which is how we started talking, but I was not feeling particularly steady on the boat, so I didn't do much. Okay, mostly I tried to put my head down and not move at all. I did manage to lift my head up in time to see a giant sea turtle swimming by. But as soon as we stopped, I felt better and the islands were ridiculously beautiful.

So you know how you see those Jacques Cousteau films and they flip backwards out of the boat? Surely, you think, there must be a more modern, efficient way to do this. You're wrong. That's exactly what happens. You can barely walk with the huge scuba tank on your back, and you just sit on the edge of the boat and fall backwards. That may have been the scariest part. Well, that and the sinking to the bottom of the ocean part.

The other girl, who may have been even more scared than I was, and I were completely last on the sinking part. The dive master (although I prefer the name "dive dude," which is how I shall refer to him from now on) held on to us and made us sink. We clung for dear life to the rope on the way down. Eventually, you realize there are a lot of cool things to look at down there, and you start being more interested than scared. I swam over to dive dude #2 (who, incidentally, looked good in a wet suit, and that's really saying something), and dug my fingers into his hand. He led me around for a while, and I wouldn't have let go, except that the other girl let go of dive dude #1, and that guilted me into it. It was really beautiful down there, the water was the perfect temperature, and everything was completely calm. We saw all sorts of interesting rocks, coral, shiny tropical fish. It was like being in a fish tank. The other group of more experienced divers got to see an octupus and several blowfish, but I was pretty happy with just staying alive.
After the first dive and little snack break, we went out to a pristine sandy beach on a little island. We played around on the shore a little bit. The water comes in really fast. If you're sitting right on the water line, a big wave can knock you over. I rolled around in the sand like a little kid, and wandered around and looked at some cool crabs. One of the guys on the boat caught a little one.
Now, my dad is quite a fisherman. I've seen a lot of fish that he's caught. Most of them have teeth. Add to this that I was once bit by a fish in a small lake, the guy throwing bread to the fish just outside the boat did not make me happy. While I was swimming the surface over to the dive dude, they swished away. When I was in the water, they seemed to think I was just some big weird fish and seemed mildly interested in me. Especially the big, thin silver onces that kind of look like they had teeth. Did you know it's possible to scream under water? However, you're the only one that will hear you. Once we got under the fish, it got insanely beautiful once again. There were walls of rock covered in colorful plants and exotic fish. We saw a huge eel (I screamed once again) and a blowfish (but it was far enough away).

The starfish were about the size of my head. It was definitely fun, and I'm glad I did it, but I'm not sure I'll ever do more than beginner trips. We were down at about 50 - 60 feet, and 40 is all you can recover from if you don't go slowly. I'm not sure I need to do more than that. Especially since I needed to cling to the dive dude just to handle descent and ascent. Still, it was a lot of fun, and I might go on another beginner trip.

Now, back to the beginning. I had to be trained in the hotel pool to be able to go on the official trip. I waited for two of the people I was with to go through their training, and then it was my turn. There's a huge pavillion area right by the beach and pools are right next to it. As I was having my training, they were setting up for a wedding. Then they performed the wedding. I saw the ceremony from the pool in my scuba gear. The wedding reception started and lots of people were taking pictures. The crazy guy (Max) I was training with and I decided it would be great to get a picture of the wedding in the scuba gear. So we hopped out of the pool like frog men and got a picture with the reception in the background. We, and the guests, thought this was hysterical, so someone went and got the bride and groom. We got several pictures with the bride and groom, who were very good sports about this, and even the official wedding photographer came and got our picture. I love the thought of being in this nice young Mexican couple's wedding album for the rest of their lives. It's a good story all around. Pictures will come as soon as I get a copy of them.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Knitting on the Beach

They don't have a drink named for it yet, but they should.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ha ha!

I'm in Mexico and you're not.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Is Needle Felting for You?

A quick online quiz:

1. Would you enjoy stabbing something repeatedly with a sharp object?

If you answered yes, you might enjoy needle felting!

I just took Veronica's class at Fringe on how to needle felt a little pumpkin for fall. I'd never needle felted before, but it turns out it is exactly as described above. You start with roving (or even yarn, if you really want) and stab it with a special felting needle. The needle is special because it is extremely sharp and it has little barbs on it. This make it both painful when you stab yourself, and useful for grabbing the individual fibers and encouraging them to lock together. Veronica dyed all the pretty orange roving for us, and produced the rest out of a magic box.
So here is the absurdly adorable pumpkin I made on Tuesday. We formed the base with some paper towels, then built up the rest of the pumpkin with roving. The grooves were formed by stabbing in the lines particularly hard and repeatedly. Absorb the cuteness.

But it gets cuter.
Inside lives a little brown mouse.

And he has collected an autumn leaf,

a walnut shell (not the best picture, but I swear it's cute in real life),

and an acorn.

Here he is with all his loot in his little home.

As cute as he is, I think he's going to my mom as an autumn gift. I'm not really into decorations. For years, my Christmas tree has been a neon light in the shape of a Christmas tree. It's not that I don't like holidays, I love them in fact. But I create enough clutter in my daily life that I really don't need to add seasonal clutter to it as well. Anyway, she'll appreciate it (although I hope she appreciates it $55 worth). (Also, it's a really good thing I don't factor labor into these things. The woman has her own knitting sweat shop.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Birthday Hat

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In unrelated news, I turned 22 last Sunday. And new friend Jim turned 23 two days before that. I thought he needed a hat to mark the occasion. He's the brother of a friend of mine, a friend who has an enormous head. Fortunately, his head is not quite so big. It's not small, but it doesn't have its own gravitational pull.
The yarn is Rowan's lovely Cashsoft Aran (57% extrafine merino, 33% microfiber, 10% cashmere) in black (a safe guy color) on size 7 needles (ones I know I have). I kind of made up the pattern as I went along, with no idea of the actual size of his head. I did okay, but it's a little wide. I can take that in though. In general, it's a k2, p4 rib until the shaping, with a little flip-up brim.
Here it is on me. The hat looks cute, but it's surprisingly hard to take an attractive picture of yourself. I'm determined to get a picture of it on him as well. I don't actually know if he likes the hat, but I'm getting a picture of him either way.


Now that the cold weather has hit, and hit hard, it's time to break out my brand new sweater.
It's the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. The last one was a shop sample, this one is all mine. It's not colors I would have chosen, except that the malabrigo was on sale.
My gauge must have been a little off, because the sweater wound up about a size too big. Not that there's anything wrong with big comfy sweaters, it's just that this was supposed to be a sexy one. I'm debating taking it in, but then again, I'm wearing it now, and it's soft, warm and comfortable. Really, I think that's all you can ask from a sweater. I'll get reviews at the yarn shop later.
It took considerably longer than the last hourglass sweater, but I'm a very understanding customer. Total cost was around $50, I think. I ran out of yarn unexpectedly through it, and barely made it through with the extra I purchased, which should have been my first clue that it would be a little big.
I'm proud of it, but I'm not sure I can wear it myself. We'll see how it goes.