Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Black and Gray for Today

As long as I have to spend a lot of time lounging around, I thought I'd start my Winter Ridge Cowl Shawl. It requires casting on 472 stitches. Seriously.
After you finally finish casting on all those stitches, you get to make the adorable loops that go around the bottom. This part is way more fun than casting on and counting. I especially hate the counting part.
I am reading a really great mystery. I rarely pick up mysteries because I burned out on them a long time ago, but Magpie Murders got such great reviews that I actually purchased it for my Kindle.

And it is every bit as good as the reviews said. I don't want to give away too much, but let me say that it is a cozy English mystery wrapped inside a contemporary mystery. I think the story-within-a-story gig is hard to do well, but Anthony Horowitz has built two solid stories.

I'm not done yet, but I bet the ending won't disappoint.

Join us over at Unraveled to share what you are knitting and reading.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Getting Some Things Done

I think I've turned a corner and the pain level has really dropped. Still, this has not been a terrible recovery. I knit an entire shawl already:
This is an Antarktis in a Knit Circus gradient (can't find the ball band!). I thought I had too much yarn, but I was wrong and I had to end a bit early. I can't move around enough to block yet, but I'm sure it will block out to a good size.

I finished the painting I started on a day trip Keith and I took before my surgery to Viroqua, Wis.
This is a beautiful old building. To me, the touching thing is the For Sale sign along the side of the building. I'm not sure painting is the right word because I used Derwent Inktense Pencils, my usual medium.

I packed up a box of hand knits for the folks on Pine Ridge Reservation, one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the United States. You can learn more about this project at the Ravelry group. I mostly sent mittens and scarves.

I've been trying to knit outside for a little while every morning, before the mosquitos swarm! Yesterday I noticed that our yard is dotted with these:
It's a mushroom, not a flower.

Summer break is roughly half over, and it's going way too fast! When I can move around a little better, I need to go into school and start getting organized for next year. I learned the hard way last year that the pace is very fast in high school and I need to hit the ground running!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Getting Out A Bit

I have been able to do a few outings since my surgery. The most fun was a visit to Studio You with my friends Marsha and Tsela.

I decided to paint some dessert plates as a wedding gift. It didn't occur to me to take a photo of the first one before it was taken away to be fired, but here is the second one:
As you can see, I'll have to go back to finish this one.
Both Marsha and Tsela are talented artists. Here's Tsela with the vase she painted. I reminded her when my birthday is.

Marsha had knee surgery a few weeks ago, so we both very much appreciate Tsela ferrying us around and putting up with our very slow walking pace.
For the most part, though, I'm just hanging around the house and trying to heal, welcoming visitors, knitting, reading and spending time with Nagi. He's very cute, but not much on conversation, as you can see.

Hope your weekend is relaxing and fun.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Double FO Friday

When you are under doctor's orders to sit around all day, you can get a lot of knitting done! As a result, I have two finished hats to show you.
This first one is the Toboggan Run I was working on earlier this week. Details are here. It's a great pattern if you don't mind miles of seed stitch. I think it's worth it. I love the yarn and tried to get more online, but I don't think it's possible­čś×. It will be a holiday gift. One down!

This is Maayan's Hat. My own design. There are lots of baby hat patterns, but I couldn't find a colorwork style that I liked, so I made up this one:
I don't think it qualifies as a Fair Isle design because some rows have three colors. I've wanted to figure out how to do that. My method is clunky, but it gets the job done. I used Encore DK yarn because it's inexpensive to experiment with, hard-wearing, and washable.
Now I need to get the model over here to see if it fits!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mindless Knitting; Thought-provoking Reading

I feel so lucky to be part of this blogging community. I can't thank you all enough for your comments and thoughts and prayers. Especially being cooped up in the house, it really helped to feel all that support from all of you!

So, an update: The incision seems to continue to heal. I have been doing a good job playing couch potato, partly because it hurts less when I don't move! I really can't complain. I've had good care and good company. I am VERY squeamish, though, and I kind of freak out when my hand brushes against a staple!

I set up a few hat projects before my surgery, including this Toboggan Run, a pattern by Jaala Spiro of Knit Circus.
Isn't the yarn fabulous? It is Fox Trail Fibre Arts MCN Worsted. I picked up this skein in Montreal last year. The yellows and oranges really pop out from the dark gray. It's going to be a gift. I kind of hate to give away the yarn, but there is a limit to how many knitted items one girl needs!
Still reading these two books. The Sixth Extinction  bogs down in the middle and is very depressing -- a litany of how we are destroying the oceans and the forests, etc. I appreciate that we need to know this information, it's just hard to read. The last couple chapters are more varied, though, and I should finish this soon.
Homegoing is a sweeping, multi-generational story of eight generations beginning with two half-sisters in Africa during the era of the slave trade. It is an important book, but not always easy to read.

Joining up with Kat for Unraveled.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Whether to Share, Good News, a Lesson and Knitting

I'm sure that none of use bares all online. I certainly don't want to advertise all my short-comings to the world. Then there is the question of tone; I don't want to be moaning and complaining all the time. Who wants to read that? And often the difficulties in our lives involve other people, so we need to respect their privacy.
I've been thinking about what to share online a lot since early May, when I was diagnosed with a skin cancer, Squamous Cell Carcinoma. This is generally a very treatable cancer that stays on the surface of the skin. However, this lesion on my right thigh was misdiagnosed by a dermatologist a decade ago, so has grown unchecked -- until it bothered me enough to see another dermatologist this past spring.

It took the dermatologist less than a second to look at it and order a biopsy. I knew then that it had to be cancer. The biopsy came back positive and a Mohs procedure was scheduled for July 6. Two months is a long time to wait when you don't know the extent of the cancer, but the rush of the last month of school helped distract me, as did the trip to Copenhagen.

The Mohs procedure went well. The doctor is reasonably confident they removed all the cancer, but she is going to put me on a chemo surface treatment when the incision heals. And the incision is healing beautifully so far! If I get through the next week without any signs of infection, I'll be in the clear.

I should mention that my husband is an amazing nurse, and my incredible daughter flew in from Florida to be around at this time. Of course, my mom is here in Madison, too, to help out.

That's the good news. Here is the lesson: Be paranoid about odd things on your skin! I don't know how the first dermatologist missed that this lesion was cancer, but I sure wish I would have gotten a second opinion! It would have been a much easier procedure when a smaller area was involved.

As for knitting ... the photos are of an Antarktis, my second. Until the surgeon went in with the Mohs, we didn't know how deep the cancer was or what the recovery would be like. In the days before the procedure, I set up this project as a mindless, soothing knitting activity. And it has been perfect.

I'm usually careful about keeping track of ball bands, but somehow I lost this one. What I can tell you is that the yarn comes from one of my favorite (and local!) dyers: Knit Circus. Fortunately, the recovery is going very smoothly and I can also work on other projects, so I won't be boring you with endless photos of this shawl!

I haven't been up to reading blogs and commenting, but I'll be starting that today. I look forward to seeing what you've been up to!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Yes, Dear Reader, I Did

As most of you guessed, I did buy yarn at Ewetopia on Saturday. But I did not go crazy. I limited myself to one pattern and yarn to go with it. I think this poncho is going to be very practical, as well as pretty.
My love of color tends to drive my yarn choices, but this time I went with natural-colored yarn. I like the way it looks in the photo that on the pattern. However, this year's sheep gave off darker yarn, so mine will not have as much white as the one in the photo. That's OK. I invariably spill on anything white.
I'm still working my way through The Sixth Extinction. I've been doing too much of my reading at bedtime, so I went back last night and re-read a few chapters. It was worth the extra time. I'm still reading about historical extinctions, and it is just fascinating.  The author is a journalist, and her style is clear and engaging.

I want to start a second book, but I haven't decided between the two in the photo. Both look really good!

Don't forget to join with Kat for Unraveled today.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

This is Ewetopia

On Saturday, Keith and I decided to head up to Viroqua for the day. It's a town in the Driftless Region, which is hilly and pretty because it was not flattened by any glaciers. My main goal was to sketch, but I'm still working on that drawing.

However, there was another draw:
This is Ewetopia! It is both a brand and a store. The store is gorgeous -- airy and comfy and filled with yummy yarn. There is a wonderful are for knitting and another for children to play. Everywhere you turn, there are are surprises, like handmade pewter buttons.

The business is owned by Kate Ashley Wright (right) and her mom, Lisa Ashley. They are so warm and friendly; you just want to sit down with them and knit!
Ewetopia yarn is beautiful. The colors are luscious and the yarn is soft and inviting. Kate and Lisa also write patterns. Last year, I knit up the Winter Ridge Poncho, using their pattern and yarn, and it is both beautiful and wearable. I haven't been to the store before; fortunately for me, they vend at the Madison Knitting Guild once a year.
I spent a ton of time wandering around the store and petting the yarn!
Aren't the Ewetopia colors beautiful? And isn't Ewetopia a brilliant name?
If you're not driving distance from Viroqua, don't worry. You can visit the store virtually and shop online here.

So, do you think I bought anything?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday: Car Knitting

All I have to show is a finished sock, the one I keep in the car.

You have one, too, right? It's for long drives (when someone else is driving) and waiting in doctors' offices. This is a simple Hermoine's Everyday Sock in Plymouth Yarn's Splash. I love this yarn. It's very pretty and squishy, if a bit splitty.

I'm almost done with Dark Matter by Black Crouch. It is being heavily marketed at Barnes & Noble and I fell for it. Mistake. The plot does move quickly, but the characters are flat and the "science" isn't very believable
As you can tell, The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert, went to Copenhagen with me (thus the messed up edges). It reviews past mass extinctions that have occurred and then moves into the current situation, in which many species are disappearing quite rapidly. It's beautifully written and fascinating. Obviously, it's not the most cheerful book.

Do join in with Unraveled Wednesday. It's easy, just jump over here.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Not the Best for Blogging

So, I'm doing the Through the Loops Mystery Shawl KAL 2017. It's been a fun knit so far, but I've realized it's a terrible match with blogging. Why? You can't show any spoiler photos of the shawl. So this is what I can show you:
Pretty boring, huh?

But I can tell you all about my breakfast this morning: the Morning Detox Smoothie.
It comes from my newest cookbook acquisition, Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon. I love her first cookbook, so I was thrilled to discover she'd come out with a second one.
Her recipes are all vegan, and this second book also has a lot of gluten-free recipes, too. I am neither vegan nor gluten free, but I do try to include a lot of vegetables in my diet, so vegan cookbooks work out well for me.

Tomorrow I'm going to make my first green smoothie. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but it just seems like such a healthy thing to consume!

Lastly, thank you all so much for your kind words about my sketches. It really boosts my confidence because I am such an amateur!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sketching in Copenhagen

One of the highlights of my trip to Copenhagen was meeting up with Urban Sketchers Copenhagen. Urban Sketchers is an international group, and I was lucky that the Copenhagen group was meeting to sketch the weekend I was there.

I had to figure out the bus system to get to this 1913 church that is outside the usual tourist area, and it was totally worth it.
It's not that my sketch is so special, but it was really fun meeting the Danish sketchers. They were all professional artists, so it was a bit intimidating. After drawing, we went out for a beer and talked. They are very well informed about American politics and worry about Europe going the same way we are. It was fascinating to hear their views.
Copenhagen is a charming and diverse city  -- perfect for drawing. This sketch is from Christiania, the hippie/artist community that was started in 1971. As you can see, it has not lost its anarchic look.
The Danish Design Museum is fascinating. My parents' house was largely filled with Danish furniture, so it was really interesting to learn more about it. It's still my favorite style.

As nice as it would be to have a spread like this for every day, it isn't going to happen. I am a very slow sketcher, so this took FOREVER!

Well, that's it for Copenhagen. I promise to get back to knitting in the next post!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Swore I Wouldn't Buy Yarn

In fact, I walked past two yarn stores in my first few days in Copenhagen and didn't even consider going inside.

But then one day I went to what turned out the be the worst, most depressing flea market ever. Used shoes and clothes, mostly.  At one point, I glanced across the street and saw this:
It was just such a cheerful sight that I had to go in. And the inside could not have been more cozy or inviting:
The store mostly carried Drops, a brand I've heard of but never encountered. As far as I can tell, it isn't widely available in the United States. Well, it is beautiful, affordable stuff. I spent way too much time fondling all the various blends.  And we all know where that leads!
Yes, I bought a couple skeins. These two beauties, which will likely become a pair of fingerless mitts some day, cost less than $10. No kidding. On the off chance that I ever run out of yarn, I'll be looking for more Drops.

The store was different from the stores I'm used to here. For one thing, there were tons of sweater-quantity bags ready to be bought. Also, there were very few needles for sale and no accessories, like stitch markers. Maybe Danes are minimalists in their knitting, too!

There was more unknitting than knitting in Copenhagen. Here is the beginning of an Almondine Sock.  I was halfway through the heel flap when I realized I had misread the directions and had not divided the stitches correctly for the heel. I frogged the flap and tried to pick up the stitches. Too many dropped stitches! I went all the way back and cast on again.
Not surprisingly, I'm reading The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, a Londoner who moved to Denmark when her husband got a job at Lego. Russell is a journalist and an excellent writer. The book is both amusing and interesting.

I just have to point out that Lego is far from Copenhagen, so I may have to write the Copenhagen version of this book some day!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Some Copenhagen Highlights

I truly do love Copenhagen: the buildings, the people, the food. While it lacks the drama of Paris or London or New York, it is the perfect place to relax and enjoy Scandinavian ambience. I could prattle on and on about all the lovely things there, but I'll restrain myself and share a few highlights:
This is Nyhavn, the picture-perfect canal that is probably the most famous scene from Copenhagen. It was our first stop. A native we met at the airport had suggested a canal tour as the perfect activity for our first, jet-lagged day. After the tour, we settled down at a canal-side restaurant and enjoyed smorrebrod (the ubiquitous open-faced sandwiches) along with the view.
We walked the Botanical Gardens and the flower gardens at the Rosenborg Castle.
Copenhagen has a number of great museums, including the state art museum (SMK) and the Design Museum, where I snapped this photo of a chair made from newspapers.
Walking home one evening, I was scooped up by two "vikings," who carried me to a  place where pretty young women were waiting with alcoholic beverages.  A vendor told me this is a ritual of the police in training.
Copenhagen's old city (Indre By) is infinitely charming. The Round Tower is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe -- and very pretty, too.

Good food is everywhere in Copenhagen, and, yes, it is pricey. But you can always find a stand selling the inexpensive hot dogs that the Danish love.
Grod, one of my favorite Copenhagen restaurants, features porridge. Yes, porridge. They turn humble grains into gourmet treats. On this visit, I ordered a Chia Seed Parfait.
Here are two things you find everywhere in Copenhagen: Beautiful brick buildings and bicycles:
We went on a wonderful tour by one of the original inhabitants of Christiania, the hippie/artists community founded on an abandoned military base in 1971. You can still buy marijuana or hash on Pusher Street, but the community banned hard drugs a long time ago. As the city grew, this site became prime real estate, so a few years ago, the residents bought the land from the city so they could maintain this "Freetown," as they call it.  Now they pay taxes, which is against their principles, but a better alternative than being kicked out.
There is art everywhere you look. Each building or house is unique and original.
Although tourism has become a large part of the income in Christiana, there are some factories there, including two bike manufacturers. The bike above is one of the types made right there.

Last, but not least, I had a great time traveling with my friends Percy and Lisa.
While I flew back to the States yesterday, they were off to Scotland. When they get back, we'll have to sit down for some smorrebrod!