Friday, May 31, 2013

Battleship's are cool

Do you know anything about Battleships?  And no I am not talking about the movie where aliens attach the pacific and a group of navy guys go all kamikaze on the aliens using an old battleship.  I'm talking about the big ships that the US Navy produced and kicked A*s with for over fifty years.  Battleships are no longer used-but kept in good condition just in case...

On Memorial day we visited the Battleship Iowa.  It's now permanently docked as a museum in San Pedro, California.  It's close to the Queen Mary and if you want to see both in one day you can get a discount.

There were long lines, which we hate, but eventually you clear the line and get to go aboard.

Here's a view from the deck:

This ship is called the "Battleship of Presidents" because it was home for a couple of our Presidents for short time periods.  President Roosevelt travelled to the Tehran Conference in 1943.  It took a bit of ingenuity to get him safely across the Atlantic without the press or the Germans finding out.  In the middle of a war you don't want anyone to know the President is on a boat.  They snuck him past all the U-boats and made it safely to Tehran.

Because President Roosevelt was in a wheelchair, they had to make a few changes in order for him to be on board.  These ships are not wheelchair friendly.  The doorway in the Admirals cabin were cut away and a bathtub was added-check out the rubber duckies:

On board we were blessed to have met Bob De Spain.  Bob served on the Iowa and was also on the USS Hoel.  While on the Hoel he was part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  That's the big battle that happened in the Philippines.  (Famous battle-turned the tide in WWII).  Bob said that the Hoel was severally damaged and he spent three days in the water waiting for rescue.  Can you imagine?  THREE days- in the water.  In the pacific.  Sharks and fire and your friends dying around you?  Those men are heroes.  The people who have died for our freedom-that's what we celebrate and remember on memorial day.

That's why I said we were blessed to have met Bob.  And we were.  I feel blessed to have known someone who put his life at risk for my freedom.  I have felt that way my entire life.  My father put his life at risk for us.  My grandfather did as well.

Those heroes from WWII are getting older and we're missing out on the chance to sit down and talk to someone about history.  Having a first person account or visiting a site will bring history alive for you.  It's so interesting and fascinating talking to someone who can tell you what happened from their perspective.

After talking to Bob we finished touring the Iowa.  We sat on the Captain's chair, we pushed buttons on the bridge.  We sat on a couple of tomahawk missile carriers.  (Missiles not there).  We're not stupid.  =)

Here's a picture of the side guns:

Not a great picture (sorry-used my cell phone that day).

I highly recommend visiting the Iowa if you get a chance.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's on the Needles Wednesday & Yarn Bombing LA

I've been knitting away at this Gemini T-Shirt.  I cast on April 1st and did a couple of rows of the neck and lace pattern.  I was busy working on other things and didn't do much with it until a couple of weeks ago when I finished the lace pattern.   This is my first top down shirt/sweater project.  I will admit to being slightly freaked out over the size of this lace pattern.  Not the difficulty-just the length.  My gauge is on the button.  But the lace pattern looked like it was going to be by huge.  Large enough to require a cami or something to be worn under this T.

I live in Southern California.  I don't need a knit Tee that requires a cami underneath.  It's warm enough here almost year round.  So I didn't do the third round of the lace pattern.  I went with stockinette.   After I placed the sleeve stitches on waste yarn I tried it on.  The lace pattern would have been ok.  Oh well.

I am liking the ability to try this on as I go.  I'm going to be able to put in some waste shaping.  The design on this shirt is mainly straight down from the shoulder without any waste shaping.

In the last week I have made a lot of progress on this sweater:

I took it with me to my local knitting and crochet group and after finishing the Age of brass and steam shawl I was able to get a couple of inches in.

I also took it with me to see Star Trek.  Mainly because we arrived a good 45 minutes early and I knew I'd have time.  I didn't count on there being no where to sit.  This shirt is already too heavy to knit standing without any support for the rest of the garment.  So I took over a closed candy counter:

I'm excited to see how this turns out.

I also finished my Age of Brass and Steam last week.  It's a really quick kerchief pattern.  I had about 100 yards of yarn left when the pattern ended and decided to add an extra repeat of the pattern to get more length.  The kerchief can be finished in a couple of evenings.

Do you remember me telling you about the group Yarn Bombers Los Angeles and their project to cover a local museum in granny squares?  Well they've done it.  The unveiling is this weekend.  I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures.  Google Yarn Bombing Los Angeles and you'll find them or check out their facebook page.  If you sent in squares your name will be listed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Game Night Favorites

I've been meaning to write a bit about our game night favorites.  We play a lot of games.  Mainly board games.  We've got all the old standards- trivial pursuit, monopoly, the game of life, etc.  And a ton of the Euro style games.  I was never much of a gamer before I met my husband.  He on the other hand is a life long gamer.  Total Game Nerd-which is why and how he learned a lot of his strategy skills.  I asked him specifically about computer games when we started dating, having an intense dislike of all computer games and the waste of time they suck out of lives.

In any case, I didn't ask about board games and quickly learned about a lot of these.  Mike and I are highly competitive in board games.  We love to play and want others to love it too.  So we're always willing to teach someone a new game and give them a head start or handicap to even the playing field.  It's not fun to win unless it's an even playing field.  It's fun to play whether I win or not.  And even if I lose the game it's a great game if I beat Mike.  And he feels the same.  He's always trying to "beat the wife" as he says.

If you haven't played a board game in awhile, I suggest you pick a night and arrange a game.  Good friends, a good game and snacks make for an awesome night.  Plus waiting for your turn is excellent knitting time.

I'm known at all the game groups for having my knitting out.

Small World is a fun game.  It's a war style game.  Each player has a character race and power.  Each turn you place your characters to fight against others in a bid to win territory.  Once your characters are killed off you can kill your character/race and pick a new one.  

Empire builder is a really fun train game.  You build track and deliver and pick up goods at cities across the country.  The winner is the first player to collect $250 million dollars.

Darjeeling is a simple game where players are collecting pieces to put together a box.  Complete boxes are turned in for points.  It's fast and simple.

I won't even try to explain 7 wonders.  Its fun but a bit complicated.  You will pick it up fairly easily in person.  I highly recommend it.

Pastiche is an art game.  Each player is given a painting to complete which require collecting the right type of color cards.  Tiles are placed to gain color cards.  After the player collects the necessary color cards the painting is completed and points are collected.  First player to a certain number of points wins.  Great game for kids-fun for adults.  And it's a good party game.  Doesn't take very long and anyone can play it.

A couple of our favorites for game night are Catan, Settlers of America and Powergrid.  Catan is hard to explain without the game in front of you.  Each player starts with a number of little houses.  It's similar to regular Settlers of Catan-the dice is rolled, each player wins resource cards and uses those cards to purchase new houses and routes. When a house is played it frees up a token.  (The little blue tokens on the bottom corner of the picture). The tokens are delivered to a neighbors house.  The first player to place all tokens wins.

And PowerGrid:

In Powergrid each player is tasked with purchasing power plants and cities.  Each power plant powers a city.  You also manage output for each power plant by purchasing power tokens.  The game takes strategy and management of resources.   It's similar to Monopoly.  The game hinges on auctions, management, strategy and a bit of luck.  It's fairly simple to pick up and a lot of fun.  The makers have come out with expansion sets with different maps (so you have a lot of options to keep the game fresh and interesting).

Check out your local game store (no big box stores carry these types of games) and ask the store to teach you how to play some of these games and bring game night back to your house.  You can also check out and search for local board game groups-these groups are always welcoming and willing to teach newcomers new games.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ta Da-Look What I Did

I love the excitement and enthusiasm little kids have when they complete something they're proud of.  As adults, we rarely scream out "Ta Da" with excitement and enthusiasm when we've done something we're proud of.

I finally finished the sampler square blanket.

Ta Da:

I framed each individual square with black yarn, then sewed the squares together into a row and then sewed the rows together.  To finish the blanket off, I crocheted around the entire blanket a couple of times.   I love how it turned out.  I don't think the picture captures the finished product.   But I am quite excited and enthusiastic about the finished project.  So I repeat: TA DA!!!

I've also finished another owl hat.  This one was a special request from a friend of mine.  The yarn is one of her finds on the LA Yarn Crawl.

Tiny little beads will be sewn on as the eyes.   I've seen them and they're great.

I also wanted to show off a picture of my Dad in his sweater.  Even though he looks a bit like Mr. Rogers in the sweater-I am still extremely proud and excited that it fits so well and that he likes it.

Doesn't he look great?  I love my Dad.  And even though I was frustrated my the length of time this sweater took-it was so worth it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bowers Museum

A trip to Bowers Museum.

The special exhibit this month is the Gems of Medici collection.  The Medici's were a powerful family whose power and collections span several centuries starting around 1410ad.

I don't have any pictures of that collection as camera's were not permitted.  The collection has a ton of cameo's and gems.  Metal plates with carvings, busts and stone carvings with intricate detail.  A video explaining the work that goes into creating these tiny but intricate cameo's and reliefs was enlightening.    A craftsman takes a drawing, then creates a wax carving, then a plaster mold is taken, then a piece of glass is melted into the mold and when it cools a glass cameo has been created.

A similar process is used to carve stone cameo's.  It starts with a drawing, then a wax carving.  The wax carving is used as the stone is carved.   The craftsman has tools that help him measure and compare his stone carving with the wax carving.  Once the carving is done it is polished until the stone shines.

We also saw a scrimshaw exhibit, a Chinese exhibit and an exhibit of Indonesia and other island nations.

The scrimshaw is beautiful.  I love the detail.  Check out the scrimshaw swift:

Can you see the tiny threads holding the pieces of bone together?  The work is incredible.  Can you imagine getting to use a swift like this?

This is a very large piece.  The ship has been carved into the side of the bone and then stained.

Take a look at the rigging:

The Chinese exhibit had a few robes with embroidery:

An even closer look:

The Asian Islands exhibit has wood carvings and a lot of jewelry.

This mask has something to do with the Fire dance.  Something that women and children were not permitted to see or hear.

I have no comment about this one.  Not sure what they are trying to portray...

Look closely-that is a necklace made of teeth.  Human teeth.  Yuck.

This is on a bench in the garden's outside the museum.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Post Yarn Crawl

The Los Angeles County Yarn Crawl was a couple of weeks ago.  I'm finally getting around to telling you all about it.  The crawl started on April 11th and ended on Sunday the 14th.  There were 32 stores full of pretty yarn.  A lot of stores had trunk shows, demonstrations, book signings and more.

I tried to hit all of the stores, I really did.  I ended up going to 25 stores.  Maybe I'll be able to get to all of the stores next year.  I did manage to stick to my yarn budget for the crawl-it was hard I'll admit.

Check out some of the photo's:

We had quite a bit of time in the car driving from shop to shop and used that time to yarn bomb the van.  The entire experience was worth being exhausted.  The last day we managed to go to 15 stores.  We finished the day with dinner and headed home successful crawlers.

I've already completed one project with my crawl yarn and have another on the needles.  I loved taking the time to visit all the local yarn stores and now I know where to go to find what I want locally.