Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Sleeve, Some Books, and Snow!

I'm hoping the fourth time will be the charm. This is my fourth attempt at knitting an adult sweater. And I just won't feel like a "real" knitter until I can wear a sweater that I knit myself! My first three attempts ended up in the garbage; that will not happen this time as I'm using good yarn (Briar Rose). Without further ado, I present the first sleeve of Harriet's Jacket:
It fits so far, which is more than I can say about my previous attempts!

I picked up these two books at the library yesterday:
I love Cathie Pelletier's novels, and A Year After Henry is as good as her previous books. The story is set one year after Henry's death through the eyes of his wife, mistress, and brother. Sixty pages in, I'm mesmerized.  Even though I couldn't finish Just Kids, Patti Smith's first memoir, I picked up M Train. We'll see if it grabs me.

I finished Life Drawing and it was OK. I will warn you that it gets very, very dark as it nears the end.

Yesterday I was able to take this photo:
Finally we got enough snow (barely) to get out the cross country skis! My friends are in better shape than I, so I had to struggle to ski for 90 minutes -- but I did it! It felt great. If I could ski all year round, I would be in great shape. It's the only exercise that I truly love.

Afterward we went to one friend's house for hot chocolate. A perfect afternoon!

Looking forward to catching up with everyone in the post-Christmas week with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Still Isn't Looking Like Christmas

The plan, back in September, was to go cross country skiing over winter break. Alas, neither weather not climate was on our side. Instead some friends and I went hiking at the Horicon Marsh.
Pretty, yes, but not as pretty as snow-covered pines!

But at least it was cold enough for me to wear my Meta Mittens!
And I stand corrected by Judy: This is NOT a free pattern. Nope, I paid for it. And it was totally worth it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

On the Needles and Bedside Table

Thank you, Rose, for inspiring me to start a Guernsey Wrap. This Jared Flood pattern is perfect for winter break: cozy and rhythmic.
I'm making it with Peace Fleece, which is heavier (and less expensive!) than Flood's Shelter, which the pattern calls for. I like it, but I'm thinking it might be nicer in the lighter wool. Oh well, I might have to make a second one!

Confession: I am not very good at "reading' my knitting. I read about how other knitters can memorize lace patterns and then knit by watching the pattern emerge. Not me. I need to check the pattern every row or two. I think this might be related to my lifelong struggle with math.

Reading a pattern all the time can be tedious and time consuming. A few weeks ago, while I was shopping for embroidery supplies, I noticed these magnetic pattern boards and wondered if these might speed up pattern reading. 
Ta-da! It works. I love this simple tool!

As for reading, I started a book that has long been on my list, Life Drawing, by Robin Black.
It is billed as a literary thriller -- one of my favorite types of books: intelligent but also engrossing. At least, that's what I'm hoping this one will be.  I have started and put down so many novels lately that it's frustrating. I miss being lost in fiction.

I have a very quiet break planned and it is just what I need after a tough fall at school. Informal gatherings with friends, family time with my parents and kids, and lots of arts and crafts. What could be better?

Wishing a wonderful holiday to my blog friends. Do know that I treasure each and every one of you. Reading your blogs and your comments is one of my favorite activities. Thank you for being part of my life!

Joining up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Let's Hear It For Etsy!

I opened a store on Etsy (a web site for artists/crafters to sell their goods) in 2009.  I never found the time to market it. Besides, I am a horrible salesperson. I hate promoting myself. So, of course, I never sold anything.

Then out of the blue, after six quiet years, I get two orders!

It took me about 10 minutes to figure out what had happened when the first one came through last week. I was checking my email at work during lunch, and there was a message saying that someone had sent me money through Paypal. What? At first I was totally stumped. When I figured out why I was getting $14, I was thrilled.
And another order came through this afternoon -- for the button earrings pictured here.

So, I guess I need to get serious about stocking and marketing my Etsy store. I don't think I really believed it would work for me.
Which is kind of funny because I have bought a lot of stuff on Etsy over the years, mostly materials for arts and crafts, but also finished jewelry. Just last week I bought this iron-on cross-stitch pattern from the 1940s and the vintage buttons.

So, maybe by next fall I'll be posting about my Etsy store.  It's obviously too late for holiday gifts this year, but if you want to see what some of my jewelry looks like, you can find my store here.

In the meantime, I hope you are not tied up with last-minute shopping!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Weekend Stuff

There is nothing quite as sweet as the first weekend of winter break. Having two weeks away from work is such a luxury! I do complain about work sometimes, so I want to come clean and admit that the school breaks are an amazing benefit. So many Americans only get two or three weeks off a year and, frankly, that is criminal! We all need to recharge.

My weekend started out with a bang: When I got home from work Friday, my daughter had arrived from Florida.

Yesterday I drove to a suburb on the other side of Madison to take class to learn to make this bracelet:
This leather and beads bracelet is called Beading Insomnia. I saw some samples in the store a few weeks ago and signed up for the class on the spot. I like bracelets that have a cuff-type look. This photo makes the white beads look whiter than they are. They are more subtle in real life.

This evening I am hosting a birthday party for my dear friend Marsha. I am making two kinds of cookies for dessert, one being the Brown Butter Salted Caramel Mocha Cookies pictured below. These are amazing cookies, less sweet and more complex than most cookies.
I'm also going to make the Browniest Cookies from my favorite food blogger, the Smitten Kitchen. Yes, there will be healthy food for dinner to balance out all that sugary richness. But you have to indulge when it's one of the "0" birthdays, don't you? I think it's a law.

I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend and that no one is too stressed about the upcoming festivities!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Use for Sock Yarn

I know I'm not the only knitter who can't seem to resist buying self-patterning yarn. A lot of people are knitting the Christmas colorway of Heritage Handpaints, and a few days ago I posted my work sock, with a pink and blue pattern of that yarn.

Still, there's a limit to the number plain vanilla socks I want to knit, so I'm trying out a pattern for a hat with self-patterning sock yarn, and so far I love it:
I like the thinner bands you get with a larger diameter. It's just kind of fun to see a variation.

After watching the first season on Amazon Prime, I'm reading The Man in the High Castle.
I actually thought the series went off the tracks in the last two episodes of the season, so I'm liking the book better. It is more subtle and, at least in the first 50 pages, the plot is very different. I think the writers of the TV version got too hung up on building a romance. We'll see if the book continues to hold my interest.

The Madison Knitting Guild met Monday night. Our guest speaker was a fabulous dyer from rural Wisconsin, Kate Wright. She has a retail store in Viroqua and sells her yarn online under the brand name Ewetopia. I didn't snap any pictures, but you can find her fabulous yarn here. It is amazing how many great dyers are out there.

I'll be joining Ginny for Yarn Along. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Doesn't Feel Much Like the Holidays

Even a cheerful flock of Santas on bicycles doesn't make Madison look ready for the holidays. Not only do we have no snow, but it's been raining on and off since last night.
I was downtown with my mom doing a bit of gift shopping when these folks biked through. They put a smile on everyone's face.

It was perfect weather to start a Guernsey Wrap by Jared Flood. This pattern has called to me for a number of years. I was tempted to start it when Rose of Sand in My Yarn posted about hers. This wet, rainy cold also made now seem like a good time to knit a substantial wrap! I happened on some Peace Fleece in a dusty rose (more muted than it looks in the photo) and off I went:
Last night I saw the movie Brooklyn with some friends. It's very sweet and well-done -- but definitely a love story. I'm glad I didn't drag Keith to it.


Thanks to all of you who sympathized with the strains of work. I'm just sorry so many of you share this type of stress!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mindless And Relaxing.

This morning I'm sharing my "work project," a basic sock I keep at work for any down times. It's an appropriate picture because work has been dominating my thoughts.
But I am working to minimize that because work should not take over one's life, don't you think? I've been trying to work less (unpaid) overtime, meditate more regularly, and eat better. I'll be doing more mindless knitting this evening when Keith and I plan to watch at least one episode of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. It's an alternative history set in the United States in the 1960s in a world where the Axis won World War II. We are hooked!

What do you do when work is stressful?

Anyway, the yarn here is Cascade Heritage Prints, color 08. I'm a bit worried about sizing. This yarn feels thinner than the regular Cascade Heritage, which is a yarn I like quite a bit. It will fit someone, I'm sure.

And I'm still reading the short stories in American Innovations by Rivka Galchen. I am enjoying them, but so far the first one is the best.
I'll be linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

You Gotta Enjoy the Time You Have

It could have been a bad weekend. Work is really stressful this year and I'm still dealing with pain from a work injury. But, I willed myself to set all that aside and enjoy the weekend. And, for once, it worked.

Here are a few of the lovely moments:
At a dinner party Friday evening, Steve showed us all how to make a Clementine into a candle. (Hints: score around the middle, preserve the center stem, and fill with olive oil.)

Saturday night, there was a birthday party for new mom Ilana. My daughter will be very jealous of this balloon. They both love Disney princesses:
And at long last, I have a picture of Ilana's daughter in the Babies and Bears Sweater that I knit for her, held by my dear friend, Debbie:
And there were quiet moments at home with Keith and his cats. Here is Weeko, perched to soak up some weak winter light:
Although winter is slow in coming this year. I actually went for a bike ride with friends on Saturday!  We only did 12 miles and I was exhausted. That's what happens when you get lazy about exercise I guess. Still it's cold enough for me to slip into my handmade socks, and that's a feeling that I love:
I hope that you have had a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

She Said Sheepishly

I should be using all my knitting time to work on gifts, but I just can't resist a little selfish (and sheepish!) knitting:
This is the first of my Meta Mittens, a free pattern by  Elizabeth Wolden. Isn't that sheep just adorable? It's a pretty easy Fair Isle pattern, and so far I haven't had any problems. I'm using Regal yarn by Briggs & Little. It's a rustic yarn, not terribly soft, but I used it on my Spruce Tree Mittens and I really like the feel of it on my hands.
I don't have a picture of it, but I'm reading American Innovations, a short story collection by Rivka Galchen. I loved the first story. It's is compulsively readable, draws you into the head of a woman who isn't completely stable, and has a twist at the end. I hope the rest of the stories are as good.

I'm joining up with Ginny for Yarn Along.