Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Only 1/4 inch to go on the second sock, then an increase row and cast off. Huzzah!

Technical detail: I make sure the tops of my socks are sufficiently stretchy by doing an increase row in the last row before the cast-off. If I'm doing a 1x1 rib, I'll m1 after each purl stitch. If I'm doing a 2x2 rib, I'll m1 in the middle of each rib. In either case, I'm turning 2 stitches into 3. I've tried fancy cast-offs that are reputed to be much stretchier than the usual, but none works as well as my trademark increase row. I've gotten some grief from other knitters about it, but no other than Lucy Neatby endorses a similar method.

Continued from last night: Turn left on the main highway through Solvang, and you'll hit the 101 at Buellton, after first passing the ostrich farm. That's worth a stop, and a look. If you are low on gas, top off in Buellton, as it's the last reasonably-priced gasoline you'll see until Carmel, on the 1. It costs more in Buellton than it does in LA, but you won't beat LA prices on gas until you're in Oregon. If you didn't eat in Solvang, Pea Soup Anderson's (sp?) is the winner in Buellton. Generations of Californians have grown up counting the vacation miles according to the Pea Soup Andersen's (sp?) signs, featuring the cartoon chefs Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee.

North of Buellton start the wineries and tasting rooms. I can't guide you to them, as I never acquired a taste for wine. There are some choice spots on the coast, but I haven't visited that area often enough to be a guide. My next stop would be Pismo Beach, if it's winter. Overwintering monarch butterflies can be found resting in clusters from eucalyptus trees south of town-- look for the butterfly signs on the fence. On warm days, they fill the air, flying about.

Just south of San Luis Obispo, the Madonna Inn is worth a stop. Check out the public restrooms in the same building as the restaurant. I leave the 101 in San Luis Obispo; follow the signs toward Hearst Castle. Before you leave town, if you haven't tanked up in Solvang or Buellton, get a burrito or a couple of tacos at Pancho Villa's Seafood, a roadside taqueria next to a gas station. If I were ever scheduled to be executed, the fish tacos there would be my choice for a last meal.

Turn south for a couple of miles from Morro Bay, to Montana de Oro State Park, for a wonderful pebbly beach and a good chance at close-up otter sightings. North again, Harmony features handmade pottery and glass, and charming history lessons painted right on the walls of the buildings. You can also buy a t-shirt there that reproduces the city limit sign: "Harmony, pop. 18." The sign has posted the same population for as long as I can remember (over 30 years); I think it's more of a brand name than a reflection of the census, by this time. Just north of Harmony is Cambria Pines by the Sea, known as just "Cambria" to all. That's a tourist-and-shopping oriented town, and home of my favorite yarn store in all the world. That's on Burton, in The Village. On the same block is a gallery of museum-quality glass, and wonderful candy and gift shops. Since I do volunteer work in San Simeon almost every month, I get to do much of my Christmas shopping in Cambria, which is not a bad thing. There are also several good restaurants in Cambria, of which my favorites are Linn's and Robin's.

On the northern edge of Cambria is Moonstone Beach, an excellent place for beachcombing (it's true about the moonstones) and wildlife viewing.

The best spot, though, is a few miles north of Hearst Castle: the elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas. There are seals to be seen there all year, as they come and go at different times, but the most exciting time to visit is during the breeding season, January and February. Most of the pups are born in January; mating and fighting take place a month later.

To be continued...


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