Saturday, July 21, 2018

Travels and Knits

So I am back in Madison for one day before I fly to Miami to meet my daughter tomorrow. Then on Monday we head to Budapest. I won't have a computer to read blogs on, and I don't own a tablet. I just don't want you to think I'm ignoring you!

There was plenty of knitting Up North, and it's all in my favorite colors. Here is the beginning of a Sockhead Hat:
And here is the Free Your Fade Shawl nearing the end. I finally got to the dark blue. I should say that I've used this pattern more as a recipe, and I've adapted it to use all the gradient yarn, with the dark colors thrown in.
Both projects use Knit Circus gradient yarn. I just love this stuff!

I did a few sketches, not all successful. I don't have a lot of experience with landscapes. I was OK with this sketch made south of Grand Marais:
Here's one last look at our cottage on Lake Superior. 
I've had friends from the coasts who are underwhelmed by Midwestern landscapes, but I love the boreal forest, the deep greens, the shapes of the conifers, the accents of the occasional birch trees. In some ways, I'd love to live Up North, but it is SO far from everyone and everything else in my life.



Thursday, July 19, 2018

Persians, Yarn, and Art

If you haven't been to Thunder Bay, Ontario -- and you probably have not -- then you are unlikely to know that a pink-frosted pastry called a Persian is the official food of this city on Lake Superior. We wanted to taste the best so we headed to:
I know, it looks modest, but this is one fine pastry. The frosting recipe is a closely guarded secret, but it is fabulous -- tastes a bit like strawberries.
The name for the pastry comes from General Pershing, not the Persia of the Middle East.
The pastry -- and The Persian Man -- fit this down-to-Earth city perfectly. It is very much a city of the Upper Midwest, struggling with loss of industry but scrappy and making a come-back. It has lots of fun little art galleries, which we toured. 

And then there is yarn!
Who can resist a store with this sign outside?
Olives and Bananas is named after the owner's children's favorite foods. Cute, huh? Definitely an unusual name for a fiber shop. This darling downtown store is filled with colorful yarns, but I wanted local yarn -- and I found it:
This is a Fire Fly Fibre Arts kit for a shawl designed by Fire Fly owner and dyer, Maggie Erickson. The kit contains the yarn for a Fringe Frenzy Shawl, which I fell in love with as soon as I set eyes on the store sample. Maggie lives and works in Thunder Bay, so this is perfect souvenir yarn -- and thus does not count as stash yarn.

On our way back to Grand Marais, we stopped at the Thunder Bay Art Museum, where we saw an amazing exhibit of the art of indigenous artist Christi Belcourt.
Her paintings are incredibly beautiful -- and reflect her deep love of her people and the Earth.
She is very concerned with proposed oil and gas pipelines that could affect waterways and has made some stunning banners to convey her concerns:
Do check out her website, which I linked above. I admire so much the way she has combined her talent with real world issues.

Now, to end on a sweeter note. I have a sort of obsession with candy bars you can't buy in the States, so we had to stop at a convenience store, where I picked up a few of my favorites:
You might guess that the Coffee Crisp is my favorite. I'm wondering why I only bought two? Calories? Silly me.

As we came back into the States, the customs agent asked us, "Are you bringing back anything purchased in Canada?

"Yes," I replied, "five candy bars and three Persians."

He had a good laugh.



Monday, July 16, 2018

Greetings from Minnesota

Keith and I love it Up North. Usually that means we are headed for northern Wisconsin. But this week, we are driving REALLY far to Grand Marais, Minnesota, on the shore of Lake Superior.
We broke up the drive with a few stops, like this one at Gooseberry Falls...
And at the Temperance River. I do love a Rocky Coast.
At long last, we made it to Spirit Haven, a charming cabin, right on the lake.
I love hearing the waves crash against the rocks. It's the best kind of lullaby.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

All About Sweaters

Life has been busy here. With my travels coming up soon, I've been working, seeing our parents, trying to finish a project for a show.  And, most importantly, trying to set up travel knitting projects! Even summer vacation is busy.

I have finished the cardigan for my daughter, Rachel, with just over a week until I fly to Florida. I'll give her the sweater then -- and hope that it fits!
It's the Windchill Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre. The pattern is easy and well-written. I used Valley Superwash DK, which was lovely to work with and is a good value for the price. I really like the waffle-weave edging.

With that done, I have tracked down my Vodka Lemonade sweater, which I'm knitting in Cascade Sport-Weight. 
I was able to slip it on today, and I think it's going to fit. I have broad shoulders, so I added some length to the raglan shaping. It's a very sweet little pattern, but I'm not sure it was smart to make it in wool. It's more of a summer sweater. 

Maybe I'll make a second? I don't know. That seed-stitch collar took forever!


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Designing Woman

Thanks to all who shared their favorite listens. I needed some new ideas. Also a note on the knitting: I am knitting Free Your Fade, which is much smaller than Find Your Fade. Find is more of a blanket than a shawl!

While I can follow knitting patterns just fine, I find sewing patterns confusing. I wanted a small tote bag, so I looked at some patterns and then made up my own mash-up pattern. Amazingly, it worked:
Sewing doesn't usually go this smoothly for me. And isn't the fabric fabulous? The lining is my own ice-dyed faux-indigo fabric.
I'm also trying to perfect a Fair Isle hat pattern. The colors aren't quite right here. The light color is yellow, not white, so it looks more Earthy than the photo shows.
And I'm working on a new abstract embroidery pattern. Sometimes it's fun to just play with color and shape.

A few of you have asked about my health. So sweet of you! My recovery from the surgery is just about complete, and it went smoothly. The pathology report wasn't so good, though, so there is more treatment in my future. Hopefully just minor stuff.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Listening While Crafting

Few things have enhanced my knitting mojo as much as podcasts and audiobooks. I can't be the only one! Only a few of my friends knit, so I appreciate the digital company. I'm going to share some of my favorites, and please share yours in your comments.
My Free Your Fade is coming along. Those bright cranberry stripes will be balanced eventually by bright blue stripes.
Over the weekend, I listened to the entire 10 episodes of Slow Burn, a Slate podcast. The first season focuses on the Watergate scandal, and it gave me hope. The GOP was reluctant to give up on Nixon, but eventually it did. If you can't get enough of politics, I also recommend Trumpcast and Trump Inc.
The Knit Circus yarn is so much fun to work with.
Another one-season podcast that is very good is the New York Times' Caliphate, which follows a Canadian man who joined ISIS. I will warn you that this one has some serious violence. And I love everything that has been done on Embedded, an NPR spinoff that has looked into Trump's businesses and explored the situation in America's coal country.

I have to also mention S-Town from This American Life. This one starts out a bit slow, but it develops into quite a story. Missing Richard Simmons is entertaining, too.
This is a scrappy hat. It was supposed to be a stash-buster, but it didn't use up much yarn. I think I need to find a scrappy sweater!

I listen to a few podcasts on a regular basis:


  • On Point, from WBUR
  • On the Media, with Brooke Gladstone
  • This American Life
  • The Daily, from the New York Times

Nagi likes a good nap on a hot afternoon.
Some excellent audiobooks I've listened to in the past few months:

  • An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones. This is a stunning debut about a young, affluent African-American couple and what happens when the husband is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
  • Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann. This book details the mysterious murders of wealthy Osage tribe members in the 1920s, as well as the roots of the FBI.
  • Prairie Fires, by Caroline Fraser. I know I mentioned this before, but I have to sing its praises one more time. This is a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder that also tells the story of the settling of the Great Plains. It is as riveting as any novel.
You can find any of the podcasts by googling them or in the Apple Store. 

Do share your favorite listens!

Friday, June 29, 2018

And Yet Life Goes On

I am still reeling from the mass shooting at my former workplace, the Capital Gazette in Annapolis. Last night, I dreamed about a shooting happening at my school.

How did I manage to choose two professions that are low paid and attract mass murderers? Don't take career advice from me!

But life does indeed go on, and that is a good thing. It is 96 degrees here, with a heat index of 117! We actually ran our stand-alone air conditioner for a while. It works, but it is incredibly noisy!

I can walk in the mornings, but it's good weather for sitting under a fan and knitting. I pulled out these mother-daughter mittens that I started in 2007!
And I finished them! 

The pattern is from the book Kristin Knits by Kristin Nicholas. The yarn is her Julia yarn, which hasn't been made for years. That is a shame because it is a beautiful yarn and a pleasure to work with.
The lesson I have learned from this project is to never embroider mittens. It is really, really hard to start and end threads in a narrow tube shape!

Now they go into the gift box until an appopriate mother-daughter pair needs a gift.