Sunday, February 17, 2019

This Post Is Brought To You By Kola

Maybe she is going stir-crazy from all the snow, although that would be strange in a house cat. Or maybe she is just crazy! Either way, Kola has been quite entertaining today as snow continues to blanket Wisconsin. She puts herself in the oddest positions.
I am glad that it is snowing on the weekend because we can't afford to lose any more school days. Making up the six days we missed is going to be painful enough. We are going to have some long days going forward.
The view from our front porch.
Because this is perfect weather for casting on, I decided to start a second Free Your Fade. I wear my first one a lot, so I decided to make another. I've started with Wonderland Yarns Mary Ann in Victorian China (isn't that a great name?) and eventually I'll fade to Twisted Owl in Razz-Ma-Tazz.
A number of you asked about Ruth's Risters. The pattern is not on Ravelry. She gives it away free when you buy the yarn from her. You can email her at
Kola definitely approves of my Rambling Rows Afghan. At first, I thought it was a mistake to use two different colorways, but as it has gotten larger, I like the contrast. As you can tell, I have a long way to go.
Keith and I don't do Valentine's Day, but a student who graduated in June of last year popped into school with this:
That jar is filled with chocolate Kisses, which I am not sharing!

And one last photo of Kola, who seems to be wondering why we keep waking her up from her nap to scratch her head.
It looks like the snow is slowing down, so tomorrow should be a school day!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Always Catching Up

It seems like I am always catching up, both with my blog posting and reading. You would think that I'd have tons of blog time with all this cold weather, but there is always something to do. You know how that is! It's a busy time for special ed teachers. February through April is always IEP season, so I've been working quite a bit.

My main knitting has been two projects that go back to the knitting retreat I went to a few weeks ago.  An older lady named Ruth always vends at this retreat, and I fell in love with her original pattern: Ruth's Risters. The first hand is about done:
 The mitts are made with two strands of Knit One Crochet Too Soxx Appeal. This yarn was discontinued a few years ago. Ruth loves it so much that when she heard they were discontinuing it, she bought all the remaining stock from the manufacturer! I find the yarn is a big hard on my hands, but the finished mitts are cozy and soft.

Ruth also stocks a lot of Cottage Creation patterns. Do you know about this Iowa designer? She is especially well known for The Wonderful Wallaby. I haven't made that pattern, but I love her Babies and Bears Sweater. I had never seen The Rambling Rows afghan before and it was love at first sight.

When I looked through the projects on Ravelry, the ones I really loved were made with Noro Silk Garden. Can you imagine the cost of a Noro afghan? Me, neither. One of the ladies at the retreat suggested that I substitute Plymouth Gina, which turned out to be ingenious:
Last weekend, I took a sewing class with my mother-in-law, where we learned how make fabric collages. I chose a cat pattern, Purrfect:
Is that fun or what? Cutting out all those pieces takes some time, but I like handwork, so I don't mind. It's bigger than it looks, so it is going to be a challenge to quilt it.

So, I'll leave you with a real cat. Kola just loves bathroom fixtures.
And yes, we know we need to update this bathroom. It has the original pink fixtures from when the house was built in 1955.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Deep Winter

After a frighteningly mild start, winter has arrived with a vengeance. I am home for a second snow day in two weeks. And it looks like we may call off school for another day or two this week because of frigid temperatures.

This is not a good thing. We only budget for two weather days per school year, so we have to add minutes or days if we have three or more weather days. Not that I'm complaining today. A three-day weekend is always nice!

However, after I post this, I need to take a walk. The temperature is around 0 -- and that is about as warm as it is going to get for this week. And then I need to do some paperwork for school. Those special ed deadlines do not shift for snow days!

I've started a second Dewberry cowl with a skein of Sun Valley fibers. The yarn is super-soft and the perfect shade of blue to wear with denim.
I finished my Soundwaves Shawl and I'm not sure I'm happy with it. It hasn't been blocked, but it looks like the outer edge isn't going to accommodate the top edge smoothly. I looked at Ravelry, and I'm not the only person to run into this issue. We'll see if blocking helps.
On the first snow day, I went skiing on the bike path with some friends. It wasn't too bad. And it was nice to ski without driving Up North. 
I have been finishing up small art quilts, so I have a stack of them that need quilt labels. I spent about an hour this morning making some. I am just very slow with a sewing machine. I don't mind hand-sewing them onto the quilts.
Yesterday, I went over my friend Tsela's house and we drew. I am quite pleased with my sketch:
It really does look like Tsela. However, her couch is gray. I just wanted to get some more color into the picture.

These cold, snowy days make me happy (yes, I know that is not normal). It is just so cozy to be inside with a fun knitting project and a cup of tea when the weather is so bad. 

I hope you are enjoying the weather where you are!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Winter Weekends

Yarn and winter just go together. There are a lot more opportunities to wear wool in Wisconsin than in points south. And there is something extra cozy about knitting when it's cold outside.

I spent a chunk of this weekend at my Knitters Guild winter retreat, held in the cute little town of New Glarus. My husband can't believe this events exists. 

"So you just sit around all day and knit?" he asks disbelievingly.
"That's all?"
At this point he just shakes his head.

I knit quite a bit on a new pair of socks:
These are the Go With the Flow Socks from Interweave's Favorite Socks  book.  I wanted a simple pattern that would show off this gorgeous yarn from Ewetopia, one of my favorite Wisconsin dyers. 

And I'm close to finishing my Soundwaves shawl.
It's hard to get a feeling for what this shawl is like because it's large -- two skeins of sock-weight yarn -- and very scrunched up on the needles. But I think it's going to be very cozy and pretty.

Last weekend, I was up in Door County (the "thumb" of Wisconsin) with some friends. Luckily my friend Lisa knew a place to go to see ice formations, which were awesome:
Lisa is a serious photographer, so we were out for every sunset:
The only bad part is that today I have a stomach bug, so I went to bed as soon as I got home from New Glarus. I have had good company; Kola enjoyed exploring my knitting bag before settling down to nap by my side.
I hope that I feel better in the morning. We are a week away from finals, so I can't miss work next week!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Reading with Obama and a Thank You

First of all, I hope the new year is beginning well for all of you! Mine started out well with a walk in the freshly fallen snow followed by lunch with friends.
Natural springs melt enough show for a little stream.
On Monday, the New York Times published a list of the books that former President Barak Obama read in 2018 -- and I found that he and I read five of the same books:

-An American Marriage by  Tayari Jones. I listened to this one, and I enjoyed it a great deal. It's the fictional story of the marriage of two Black professionals and how their lives are affected when the husband is falsely convicted of a violent crime. This a well-written book with a compelling plot that has a lot to say about being Black in America today.
-Educated by Tara Westover. I listened to this one, too. A gripping story about growing up in a conservative Mormon family with a father who is both a survivalist and bipolar. Tara's journey to Cambridge is inspiring.
-How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt looks at history to relate how leaders can destroy democracies. A scary and essential read at this point in time.
- There There by Tommy Orange sounded like a book I would love. It follows a handful of characters in the Oakland, CA, area before a pow-wow. Everyone I know loved this book. I didn't even finish it. The characters just didn't sit well with me.
-Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday was possibly the most praised work of literary fiction in 2018. I'm not sure I can finish this one, either. Yes, the writing is strong, but the story of a 20-something aspiring writer and an elderly literary star is passionless and dull. Halliday herself had an affair with Philip Roth when she was younger.

My most-fun read of 2018 -- well, actually, listen-- was a book I would never have picked out if so many of my treasured blog friends hadn't talked it up. So my sincere thanks to all of you who recommended: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

I listened to this one, too, which I highly recommend. The reader captures the accents and inflections of the characters -- without taking on such a strong brogue that the dialogue is difficult to understanding. Listening to this book was sheer joy.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Epic Knit Has Begun

I knew that I needed to start the Epic Knit before my break ends if I am to start it at all, so after spending a few hours trying to bring some order to the sewing room, I assembled all the pieces. 
About a half hour later, I had 298 stitches cast on and was into the second round. Yahoo! Maybe I really will get this monster knit by the end of the year. Of course, that's easy to say now as I haven't started the very complex Fair Isle pattern. That's where the challenge begins.
But it is way too nice to stay inside. Keith and I took a long walk this afternoon. It was 22 degrees and sunny -- my idea of a perfect day. It gave me a chance to wear my Sockhead Hat.
And I'm thinking of Kathy B, who will understand that I am a bit blue today. My daughter left yesterday to go to her dad's house and is now on her way back to Miami. The house feels very lonely without her.

Having a two-week break is downright luxurious. I feel very lucky. And very relaxed! I was hoping to take a quick trip Up North for some cross country skiing with friends, but it doesn't look like there is snow anywhere. No climate change here!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Loving Winter Break

I am happy as a clam to be on break. School was just crazy that last week. I don't think I have ever needed a break quite so much.

The break started out with a birthday dinner for Rachel. My ex-husband actually suggested a photo of three generations: Rachel, me, and my mom:
So far, I have mostly hung out with Rachel and Keith, cooked and crafted. Does it get any better? Rachel always has work to do (that's life in grad school), so she's fine with me sharing the couch -- her on her laptop and me knitting.

While I continue to procrastinate on the Epic Knit, I have been enjoying the Antler hat:
And I'm enjoying my quilting/embroidery project. I've named this technique "Crazy Kantha."
It is Christmas Day, so we will soon be off to Keith's parents' house for dinner. Rachel is at her dad's for a few days, but she'll be back soon.