Friday, June 14, 2019

Lots of Beginnnings

 The best beginning was the one that began yesterday -- the beginning of summer vacation. I have plenty of work to do, but at least it's on my schedule. On my very first morning, I was able to join the Plein Air painting group at Donald County Park, where I painted an outcrop:
I think it needs a few finishing touches.

Later, I started in with some summer reading. I usually avoid popular fiction, but this has gotten so much publicity, I had to find out for myself if it's worth all the buzz.
If you've read it ... no spoilers, please.

I started a hat pattern, Hoopla, from PomPom magazine. I have a small collection of these beautiful magazines, but I haven't actually knit anything from them. Their patterns tend to be a bit complicated. 

This hat, for example, has a Latvian Braid, something I've always wanted to learn. I did learn in a class a few years ago, but I've forgotten everything from that. It turns out that You Tube has some pretty good tutorials.
Wah-Lah! I did it! The pattern is from this issue:
 And, I've found some time to hang around with one of my favorite girls:
Now, I just need some sunny weather for sun-dying cloth, and I'll be all set.

Monday, June 10, 2019

A Trend In Decline? Or Is It The Internet?

In the past, when I've gone to the Bead&Button show in Milwaukee, I had a sense of panic when I entered the market. So many booths! How could see them all? How could I figure out what to buy on my budget?
But it wasn't like that Saturday, when I went with a friend. We stepped into the marketplace, and there were about half as many stalls as there were a decade ago. I last went two years ago, and the decline in the number of stalls was drastic even from that time.

On the upside, it was a lot easier to see everything and figure out what to buy. But it was sad to see all that open space and to worry about the future of jewelry-making. I talked to a lot of the vendors, and they said the problem is all the online purchasing.
I don't understand that. I use the Internet when I must, but I really prefer to see the beads in person. You can't get the same sense for the colors and luster and size of the beads on the Internet. I like going to a store, where you can talk to the employees and the other shoppers. 

In general, I am not a fan of moving all of life online.  The type of blogging we do is, I think, an exception. We are a group who make friends. But in general, I think it's good for us to get out and interact with people.

Still, we had a good time. We took a break and walked to a Thai restaurant for dinner. On the way we saw some of Milwaukee's famed architecture:

And the shopping was still a lot of fun. We found plenty of great elements for jewelry making:

And our goodie-bags had a lot of mini-kits and useful tools.
We both took classes. Tsela did a class in layering with resin. I took a very cool class on beading a spiral bracelet. The good news is that I learned a skill I've been wanting: peyote spiraling. The bad news is that it is a very involved project and I didn't finish in the class:
And, changing topics completely, I have to thank Kat for identifying the bush in my last post. It is indeed a Weigela. When we downsize into a smaller house, I want to make sure there is enough sun for me to plant one of these!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Week From Today

...will be the first day of my summer vacation! I have so many ideas for projects flying around my brain. I need to write them down and then focus on actually finishing a few things.

I definitely want to improve my sewing skills this summer. I've been working on the Death Cat project. 
You may not remember it because it has languished for quite a while, but one of these days I'll have a finished quilt to show you.

Tonight I'm working on an annual tradition:
I bake cookies for the kids I proctor final exams for.  Most of my students don't get home baking, so they are very appreciative.

And Wisconsin is finally blooming:

Does anyone know what these are? I found them on a little after-work walk and was amazed by their beauty.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

On Not Being A Yarn Snob

Full disclosure: I totally am a yarn snob. I don't mind paying $28 for a skein of good sock yarn if I really love the yarn. I'm a bit wool-sensitive, so I'm a sucker for wool mixed with silk or cashmere.

But I do get seduced by less expensive yarns from time to time, and I have to admit that they can be nice to knit with and wear. This hat was a pleasure to make:

It's just a simple beanie with a bit of slouch that I made with Lion Brand Cupcake. I saw these sweet cakes at Joanne Fabrics, and I had to try one out. I like the hat, but I would have preferred more graduatl color changes.

And then there was another Lion Brand product that I saw at Joanne's. The spring colors captured my attention and I added a cake of  Comfy Cotton Blend  to my cart.
Cupcake is 100% acrylic, while Comfy Cotton is a blend of cotton and polyester. I don't think any fiber is more pleasant to knit with, more reliable, or more hard-wearing than wool. I love that you can play around with the blocking and that it has memory.

But I know I'm not the only wool-sensitive knitter out there. These two yards were pretty enough to grab my attention. I'd love to find a non-wool yarn that works for sweaters. I have high hopes for Comfy Cotton. In fact, I'm trying it out on Hitchhiker #3:
And I have to say that these Lion Brand non-wool yarns are very easy on the bank account.

I worry about cotton stretching out too much. If you've used a cotton or other non-wool yarn for a sweater and it worked out, let me know! 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

I Need This Weekend

Thanks goodness for the screened porch. I am exhausted! It is heavenly to sit out here and knit. It seems like I feel this tired by this time every year. Is that because I'm not getting younger? 

I've been perusing a new knitting book. I don't buy knitting books often. There is the library, after all,  and there are all those amazing patterns online. However, I could not leave this one behind. If I'm going to call myself "Caffeine Girl," then I had to buy this one. 

I do have a rule about buying knitting books. There have to be at least three patterns I'm sure I'll knit at some point.  With this book, the cowls captured my attention immediately. This one is very sweet:
Considering that I wore my wool shawls into late May this year, I think I could find a place in my wardrobe for this one, too:
I really like this sweater. But I do have problems with wool. I need to learn about how to find patterns that work with cotton and linen.
Not that I'm casting on any of these right now. I have yarn for some non-wool projects that I want to do, as well as an embarrassing number of WIPs.

I hope to catch up with my blog reading, this weekend, get outside, and do some things with friends and family. 

This is a much-needed three-day weekend, and I am struggling to get work off my mind. The end of the year is always intense because there are students who are not going to graduate on time. They and their parents are very emotional. I feel for them, but I also have to scramble around to find the right GED programs and get their paperwork in order for the fall. I am working with a handful of homeless students this year, and there is one in particular who I am very worried about this weekend.

Enough of that. Time to get back to relaxing!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Hooked on Hitchhiker

It's been a dreary weekend: cold, windy, rainy, gray skies. I'm not complaining because I needed to rest and this weather definitely helps with that. I went to Torah study yesterday and then had a nice long lunch with my mom. Last night, Keith and I started the third season of The Man in the High Castle (Amazon), and it is as good as the first two.

Today I started cleaning up my studio and then went out to lunch and Urban Sketching. I ended up drawing one of our sketchers:
The blue sky is just wishful thinking. It was quite gray.
I'm pretty happy with this sketch. The woman sort of looks like Jean, the sketcher, which is a rare accomplishment for me! I need to find some time to just play with my watercolors. It's a challenging medium and I don't put enough time into it.

This is good knitting weather. I finished my first Hitchhiker, and I love it. It only has about 39 teeth (it's supposed to have 41), but it is long enough right off the needles. After blocking, it should be a decent length.
I like the way the gradient works out when it's around my neck. I think it came out well enough to be a gift.

It was such a fun and relaxing knit, that I just had to do a stash dive and start a second one.
I have no recollection of where I got this skein of yarn. It's going to be an adventure. It's a magic ball with 15 colors of sock yarn tied together with square knots and wound into a cake. I haven't come to a knot yet, but I'm hoping that I can just leave the knots in place and have a rustic sort of shawl. Strangely, there is no company name or brand. All I know is that there are 525 yarns of Merino superwash sock yarn. 

For dinner tonight I made a delicious red lentil dish from the Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook. The dish called for homemade mango chutney, but I cheated and bought some. I'm not vegan, but I do make a lot of Oh She Glows recipes. They are healthy and reliably good.

I noticed that the photo of my most recent quilt in my last post was fuzzy, so I just had to go on record with a better photo:
How was your weekend?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Trying to Focus

I hope that everyone had a lovely Mother's Day. Keith and I made brunch for our mothers.

I've been trying to be more focused on fewer projects so that I can actually finish a few things. After brunch on Sunday, I finished this quilt, which Keith calls "the ugly one."
 It's not my favorite, either. I was trying to use colors that aren't in my usual palette. I learned how much color inspires me. I think that part of the problem with this quilt is that it didn't emerge out of joy -- and I think that shows. This was a useful experiment, but I don't think I'll do it again.

On the other hand, I am thoroughly enjoying my Hitchhiker. I have come to the place in the skein where the dark teal is beginning to occur more frequently.
I spent quite a bit of time working on it this weekend and listening to a fascinating podcast from Slate about Randy Weaver and Ruby Ridge.

And I'll leave you with a photo of my grandkitty telling Rachel that it's time to turn off the computer: