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Minnesota, United States

30.12.09

Something for the new year


It's almost time to say goodbye to 2009 and the decade.  I think I'm ready.  This has been a decade of much sorrow and happiness, changes good and bad for me and  for my family.  It was a bumpy ride, but we're still here and I'm looking forward to a new year and the beginning of a new decade!  As EZ once said, "Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises," and that's exactly what I've done!
Winter has settled in and in an effort (notice I said EFFORT) to reduce the stash, I've been wanting to make something with my oddments of wool and found the perfect project in Color by Kristin.  Her work is bright and cheery and she's been one of my favorite designers for years.  I'm making a shop sample of the Extra-Long Scarf for Extra-Cold Days.  Kristin used double-pointed needles, but I have some short Clover circulars and they're perfect for this project.  Because I have no issues with tension when I work Fair Isle, I'm not changing needle size when I get to the color work.  Any time I work Fair Isle it goes quickly because I can't wait to see the next color combination and patternChoosing colors wasn't an issue, just about anything will work together.  I particularly like the way red and orange play off each other and rather than black for the ridges, I chose brown.  Kristin chooses a palette much like I do for painting.  Normally I don't use black--instead I mix my black, which makes the color richer and more interesting. 
I wish you all a very Happy New Year, may your knitting be fun with little or no frogging, your pattern have no errors (that's a big one!), and all your knits fit!

26.12.09

Snow

Snowman, Snow Ben, Snow Mom, and Snow Dad


16.12.09

I'm dreaming of a...

A bit of snow to set the mood... a peppermint pig to break on Christmas and a little ornament from a trip to Swarovski (Innsbruck, Austria).




16. 12 (morning) I don't have to dream because we have snow and expect a bit more in the next week. It was 0 degrees F and made it up to 5 yesterday. Today we may hit 15!
Cringe...I haven't finished the cards, yet. That may be the project this evening. At least after work today I have the rest of the afternoon and evening with no events to attend. Time to finish laundry and clean up Ben's room before he comes home on Friday. We're so excited to see him. I think Eevee senses his arrival, too.
19.12 (morning) Ben made it home and looked so handsome dressed up in his suit and argyle vest. (He didn't have room for them in his duffel.) Jess was on the same flight. She'll be going to Florida with the women's team. Ben and the guys will be going to Arizona.
I got a note from my niece, Shannon. She loves the scarf and looks so pretty in it. I'm happy she got a computer and we can have conversations quickly! I used to be quite a letter writer, but times are so rushed now. I don't take the time to hand write much of anything anymore. Sigh...I type faster anyway.
My right hand and wrist were getting a bit sore, so I'm taking a break from kitting. I think that's why I prefer large projects rather than little socks. I started some socks with Kristin Nicholas' sock yarn. I love the yarn, but the small tube knitting is hard on my right hand--even when I switch techniques.
I took some photos of the rest of the decorations yesterday. The little town is up and the Santas are gracing the mantle with the nutcrackers. It's time to take out the butter and let it soften for some baking later...I have to decide which ones to bake first...mmmm...




The Boy Scout nutcrackers stand guard on the mantle by the Santas, the little sailor plays a t
une near his sailboat, and I think the little Bavarian wants a taste of Guinness!

15.12.09

...a lot like Christmas!

09.12.09 Now the snow is here! It feels more like Christmas. Of course, I have to get out and about today. I have one class and then my time is my own! No meetings tonight. I have some more decorations to put up and I'll be sure to build a fire and take time out for cocoa and knitting. Most of the shopping was done online, and I confess it's nice! The only gifts to send are small knitted items, which can go in padded envelopes!
I'm still knitting the second sleeve of the Rustic cardigan. I've had too many distractions lately to finish it. It's not an attractive photo, but the yarn knits up beautifully.
14.12.09 More snow last night. I got to bed a bit late and it surprised me how light it was outside. I just enjoyed looking out the window at the snow. It was so fine, you couldn't see the flakes and it was beautiful. This is going to be a very busy week. Ben comes home, I need to get the cards out and begin baking. We've really enjoyed going out the past couple of weekends, but I'm ready to spend time with my guys! I mailed out the small gifts and am grateful that's finished!
15.12.09 I thought I'd show some knitted Christmas ornaments and an old favorite sweater. The ornaments adorn my little tree I keep in the kitchen by the phone. There are felted balls, Fimo ornaments, and a knitted mitten garland. The doll and candy cane were made by Joanne and I have another handspun mitten on the other side. The sweater is one I made in 1989 from a Vogue Knitting magazine. We were still in Germany at that time. I know that holiday sweaters aren't supposed to be fashionable, but this one is soft, comfortable, and fun to wear this time of year.

3.12.09

It's beginning to look...

A tour around the tree:
The artists have lots to see from their vantage point, the camping section has some bears in camp (Ben made the tipi for Jim, and the canoe is from a long-ago trip to Algonquin with my family), the dogs are near the bottom for Eevee to enjoy, the shepherd watches his sheep on the European side of the tree.
I finally got the tree decorated, Christmas Vacation was on last night. "Play ball!" There's a light dusting of snow on the ground, and it's cold. The tree is larger than usual...we had to snip off a bit at the top, but it's pretty and I hung the extra ornaments on it this year. The lights were a bit of a challenge, as we didn't use the little fairy lights last year. Jim is in charge of the lights and I don't know where he put all the new ones. I was checking the old ones and only had to replace a few bulbs. Because the tree is bigger, I place the ornaments in sections--the front is from our travels, I have the American side, etc.
Now that the cardigan is almost done, I've been searching for the perfect buttons. It's very frustrating to go to Joann's and Hancock because they sell buttons by the card--four here, six there...I need nine! Time to dig through the stash. I doubt I have nine of any. Checking online wasn't any better. I still have time because when I finish the sleeve today the sweater still has to be blocked.
Later that day...I did my errands today. It was one of those days where I accomplished a lot, but it didn't seem as though I got anything done! I did some online shopping, gift card buying, banking, grocery shopping, ordering necessaries for Mom, Dutch oven baking for Round Table tonight (monkey bread--the boys call it monkey brains), and the night is young! By the way, it was really good and it was almost gone!
I was taking photos the other day and thought I'd include some gems I have. The little teapot is from the same shop I found the church. When I sit by the fire and knit, I'll have to make some spinning wheel tea. In my office are some paintings I did some years ago. The teddy bear and Raggety Ann are from my childhood. Little Sister was a Christmas gift and my favorite bear. She's well-worn and very well-loved. Raggety Ann was the doll I chose when Mom took me downtown to the doll shop to pick out any doll for my success at ending thumb-sucking. I remember it very clearly. It was a wondrous place and I can remember the sales lady smiling down at me (I was not able to see over the counter) and she seemed so tall! I looked at all the dolls, but fell in love with Raggety Ann. Her hair has been re-attached, and like Little Sister she's been well-loved. Dicky bear modeled for me as part of a painting demonstration in Arizona. I chose items in primary and secondary colors, as it was for Art Night at Ben's school. Artists, sculptors, musicians, docents from the museum in Phoenix, vocalists, and performers took part and it was amazing! The halls and classrooms were filled with demos, hands-on projects, and performances. It was fun and the painting is a nice memory from the event.

30.11.09

Anticipation

We had a nice Thanksgiving made even better having Ben home for the week. I was browsing around the local antique shops and stopped into a favorite one after I saw the little church in the window. This is the exact little church that my Mom has on her table, which was Grandma's. It lights up and has a music box in it that plays Silent Night. I just couldn't believe it when I saw it in the window! It's not fancy, it's made of post-war plastic, but it takes me back to a time and place in my childhood with fond memories of my Grandmother. Who can resist that?
We went past the tree farm where we usually cut our tree and found a smaller place to cut down a tree this year. It's a lovely area and you walk through the woods to get to the tree plantation. I'm only holding the tree for the photo! It's a big one (for this house, anyway) and smells wonderful! We wanted to be sure Ben was with us to get it and he had the honor of cutting it down. Today I'll start decorating.
On to knitting...the brown jumble is the Rustic cardigan. I have one sleeve ready for the garter stitch band, the other sleeve to knit, weave in ends, and then sew on some fabulous buttons. It's such a great color and the linen/wool blend is soft. This will be a favorite! I'm plugging away on the Warm Woolies sweaters. I'm on the last one. The yarn is just so splitty and hard on my hands. I'm using straight needles for the front pieces and the weight is affecting my right thumb. I've got three nice sweaters and may make hats or a blanket with the rest of the yarn so I don't have to worry about picking up stitches and all those ends to weave.
Yesterday I took Ben to the coffee shop where we meet to take the kids back to school. Jess' parents took them this time. I miss him already, but we'll see him again on the 18th!

25.11.09

Enjoying the bounty!

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
An old Irish blessing


HAPPY THANKSGIVING

There is no sincerer love than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw

20.11.09

Gotta catch 'em...



After the Beanie Baby craze when Ben was in first grade, the next big thing (at least that I can remember) was Pokemon. He still has his cards, etc. and I'm amazed how the cartoon has lasted! I made this Pokeball hat for my niece and it was a fun, quick project to knit. I may do one for Ben just for the heck of it. The felt Pikachu I'd made for Ben was well-loved and I thought
he would like to pose with the hat. Pikachu was very happy to oblige.


The pattern is available as a Ravelry download
.

17.11.09

The handspun is done

Here's the handspun all finished. I have a bit on the drop spindle to add and can probably use it somewhere for trim or whatever. I wanted the colors to be random and I think it's a fun mix. I just hope it's thin enough for the gauge. I believe I'm pretty close--need to check the WPI when it's washed.
I'd post a photo of the Warm Woolies sweaters, but right now I'm so sick of that yarn! Another one is ready for sleeves. There is a wonderful, easy pattern for a sweater. I like the Steppe Sweater because it's just a matter of counting stitches and rows, so I use the yarn doubled and tripled. Using four strands is temptin
g at this point! It's for a good cause, so that helps ease the pain of knitting with splitty-stringy yarn. The Rustic cardigan is what I work on when I need a break, and I just need less than ten inches for the body. The sleeves are really quick. I'm thinking about the buttons. They must be fab!
My Wednesday beginning class is going to continue on with pick-a-project. I'm anxious to see their bags after felting. I'm ready to cast on for this hat for my niece. The shop was out of superwash wool, so I'm using Berroco Comfort, which will be a nice alternative.

15.11.09

Knit knit knit...spin spin spin

Baktus scarf, Shape-It scarf, and Baba's Bed Socks




I'm working on all kinds of projects right now. I'd say I'm finishing up the WW sweaters, but those cones are large. I've gone to three-strand knitting! The yarn is just awful, but it's all for a good cause, which is important. I caved and traded in two skeins of Noro from the She-Knits Mystery Bag KAL #2 (now frogged) and got seven hanks of Cascade Rustic (color 17) in a gorgeous, warm brown for a simple cardigan. It's a blend of wool and linen (one of my fave fabrics!) with lovely drape and hand. Roxanne made a pullover with the dark indigo and it's just gorgeous! I need to sit with my back to that wall of yarn when I teach, but then I can see all the other yarn in the shop! I'm narrowing down patterns for the Donnegal yarn. The one in the photo is really pretty, too. I like the Fair Isle color work on the yoke. I have enough green to make either of the vests in Folk Vests by Cheryl Oberle. The O X vest is a button front and the Stone Walls is a pullover (they're both really nice). As for the bulk of the yarn, I'm thinking of something from Alice Starmore. Her cable work is amazing!
Last Saturday, I did a spinning
demo at Sharefest (church bazaar). I always love to do that and chit chat with everyone. The beautiful tube of fiber Carol gave me was so fun to work with, and Louie Louet was going great guns until the wheel had a flat. The footman to treadle connector broke, so I pulled out my drop spindle. It was a nice time. I got a few things from the international table. Judy held back a candelabra from Germany. It's really cool and I'd not seen one made of metal before. Along with that I got two dolls, one from Holland and one from Austria that will join the little Hungarian doll on the Christmas tree this year. The Dutch doll wears the costume from Volendam, the same one I'm wearing in a portrait I painted in college of Jim and myself. The funny part of that is the original photo had a spinning wheel in it, and I thought it made the composition cluttered! Too funny! The month is flying by too quickly! Ben will be home for Thanksgiving soon. I have some of my knitting done for Christmas. I don't knit for everyone on the list. I knit for the ones that specifically request something and for my fiber-loving friends. On the work front I've picked up a class on Wednesday during the day and there are plans for other classes to be offered. I'm hoping to push some of the more experienced knitters to more advanced techniques, and add another spinning class. That's fun for me to teach. Trying to build a spinning community in the NW 'burbs is a challenge.

5.11.09

Knitting and a wee bit of Ireland

Here are a few more photos of Ireland. One of my favorite places was The Burren, and this tomb. It's amazing to think of our world close to 6,000 years ago. I have to note (looking through the photos) that capturing vignettes in a photo is not only snatching a memory, but also recording sources that inspire me. I compose and snap my photos as if I'm going to paint the subject. The colors of Ireland are intense and appear to be more so when it rains! The color combinations and textures influence my yarn choices for knitting projects. I think that's why I love Scottish and Irish tweed yarns so much!
Here and there in County Clare
Fence at a church ruin, the Cliffs of Moher from the Doolin Ferry boat, screech owl at Ailwee Cave Raptor center, sheep staredown, Poulnabrone (6,000 year-old tomb), wall decoration in Galway
Bunratty Castle and the Folk Park
A door at the castle, window, turtle shells were used for serving at the castle back in the day, stairs to the dungeon, pitchers in the dairy cottage, crooked little char in one of the Folk Park cottages (every fireplace was going, so it was nice to warm up!), weaving shop, and coins at the horizontal mill.
Haystacks, wheels, thatch detail, a plumb color door, and chickens huddling away from the rain.
I've been so busy catching up that I haven't really been knitting--gasp! I do have a goal to complete, and that's using up the Lands' End yarn for the Warm Woolies sweaters before December 15. I wore my Fair Isle Collared Jacket yesterday. It's very comfortable and looks cute on! Love that project. I moved the button over a bit to bring the collar in and I like the fit better. Yesterday was my first day of a Wednesday class. I don't teach beginning knitting often and it's a good challenge to break down the movements and find ways to help each student successfully manipulate the yarn and needles to make knitted fabric! Movements I've been doing for (46--gosh, has it been that long?) years are automatic, but not so for others. Everyone managed to understand the purl stitch, and I make sure they know about this site, because the videos are helpful when you can't get to the shop for help.
The Baktus scarves are fun to knit and a great use of sock yarn when one suffers from SSS (second sock syndrome). The Donnegal yarn is ripening while I search for the perfect project. There is a gorgeous sweater in my new fave magazine The Knitter. Grumble...they don't really have a site and I don't want to sign up for more e-mail...On my ring finger in the photo is part of my birthday present from Jim. We happened to drive by Brian Hackett's studio outside Doolin. He was in the process of setting up and we thought he wasn't even open, but he was very gracious and we loved his work. His work space is at one end of the showroom. I'd put up a link, but he doesn't have one, yet! Anyway, the ring is based on a neckpiece and is fashioned of buffed silver, gold and sapphires. I love it! What a nice gift and sweet and thoughtful husband--it was a nice surprise!
Today is Round Table day which means Dutch oven cooking for tonight's sample. I'll make the White Chicken Chili that John made on our Wood Badge camping weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice today, so I can cook outside!
November 6--Today I had coffee with Kathy and it was so nice to catch up. Those coffee dates are so important! I ran into Connie from the bell choir (I dropped out this year) and she said I was very much missed. That's nice to hear. I can't wait to hear them play later this month and next month for Christmas.