Friday, May 26, 2017

Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Some of you asked about the material I was using to embroider on a linen t-shirt. The answer, of course, is Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy.
I stumbled on it while cruising the Internet, and this site convinced me to try it. You can easily trace onto it with a permanent marker. Then you peel off the backing and you have a sticker that goes right on your fabric. It's very easy to sew through.

You wash it off by swishing it around in warm water (thus, not so good for wool thread). It takes some work to get all the Fabri-Solvy out, but it does come out. In fact, the linen T is hanging in the basement, drying after I swished it for a while.
As you can see, I am already working on the next project: a stylized ocean on a sleeveless denim dress. The kelp "sticker" was large and a bit hard to handle, but I got it on where I wanted it.

Now you know what I'm going to be doing this weekend! (And work. I am actually bringing home my work computer.)

Hope your long weekend is nothing but fun!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

UFO on an UnraveledWednesday

I've finally gotten serious about the second Idlewild sock. These are very stretchy socks, so if you make them, cast on fewer than you normally would.
I'm almost done with This Close to Happy, and I have to say that it is a disappointment. The subtitle calls it a "reckoning with depression," which it is not. The book is more a memoir than an examination of depression. Up next, I think, is The Lonely City, which is a book of essays.

I'm joining up with Unraveled today

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cold and Decluttering

I know that some of you are already suffering in the summer heat. Steph is probably jealous that I'm sipping hot herbal tea, wrapped in a sweater, and wearing fingerless mitts. But it is cold and rainy here, and I am more than ready for a bit of summer!

I'm trying to declutter my house -- something you'll no doubt hear me whine about for months -- but a girl has to take a few breaks, right? So I decided to do a quick and easy embroidery project:
I'm not a fan of coloring, but I picked up this book on clearance because I thought it would be good for embroidery. The linen t-shirt is a cheapy from TJ Maxx.
I'm going to do it in blues to match a particular skirt. I just hope it gets warm enough to wear a t-shirt here soon!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Knitting and Reading

A few days ago I pulled out the book Sequence Knitting on a whim. The next thing you know, I'm stash shopping, and I came up with this beautiful skein of Kindred Threads, which  is dyed right here in Wisconsin. This skein is so old that this particular yarn isn't listed in the Ravelry database
It is well on its way to becoming a Derain scarf.

I finished The Signature of All Things, and I have to admit that it gets really slow after page 300, and I skimmed the rest of the book. Where have all the editors gone? And I've just started This Close to Happy, writer Daphne Merkin's account of her struggles with depression. It got very good reviews, so I'm hopeful that it will be interesting.

I'm joining with Unraveled today -- and you might want to, too!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Whether you are a traditional mother and/or a woman who has nurtured others, I hope you are having a wonderful day.
I started mine by working on The Fair Isle Tassel Hat. A baby project just seemed appropriate. Although I'm simplifying much of the color work, I did have to figure out how to use three colors in one row, a new skill for me.

It is a beautiful day here, so I'm off for a little walk and then on to my parents' place for brunch.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Almost Done!

The Summer Camp shawl is almost done.  At first the scallops on the edging seemed confusing, but I'm starting to see the logic in the pattern. It's quite clever.
I have to confess that I never got this pattern into Ravelry. What I can tell you is that the blue yarn came from Sun Valley and the speckled yarn is a Hedgehog Fibre variety. Both are luscious!
I would consider making another one of these. While it was designed as an easy summer project, it also worked well as a winter project for a bone-tired teacher!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Joining with UnRaveled Wednesday

I'm very happy to be joining with Kat for Unraveled Wednesday. She has picked up where Ginny left off with a Wednesday link party for those of us who knit and read. Thank you, Kat!

As it happens, I am home today, nursing a sore neck, and will head out later to see my doctor. My neck has been bothering me since I fell at work a couple months ago. I'm pretty stoic about pain, but this just isn't going away! I'm thinking maybe some PT would help.
I'm hoping to finish my Summer Camp shawl. I'm working on those scallops you see along the edge. They'll be a bit of challenge on pain meds.

I'm slowly working my way through Elizabeth Gilbert's mammoth novel The Signature of All Things. I refused to read Eat, Pray, Love because it sounds so self-indulgent, and I had my doubts that the author of that book could write a serious novel. But I have a new embroidery project going that related to botany in the 19th century, which is the setting for this book, so I found a used copy and started reading.

Many readers on Amazon complained that there is no plot, another reason I was reluctant to read this book. But I'm not sure it needs one. The writing is truly gorgeous, and the main character is someone I want to spend time with. We'll have to see if I'm still hooked through all 528 pages.

Can't wait to see you Unraveled!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Recipe for a Good Saturday

Spring is here in it's green glory! I could hardly wait to come home Friday afternoon and weed. It's been cold and rainy this spring, so this was my first time out in our yard. It felt good to be doing something outside.

Saturday morning, I biked to our library's monthly used book sale. Look what I got for a quarter each:
When I came home, I cast on for Helen Stewart's Spindrift Shawl.  It's a really relaxing knit, perfect for listening to audiobooks or streaming your favorite show or movie.

I came home and started working on a new embroidery project. Naji is enjoying our screened porch as much as I am.
After lunch, I went out for coffee with my mom, and later I had dinner at a friend's house. Her husband loves to cook and he made this huge and amazingly delicious pavlova:
All-in-all a perfect day!

What did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Hard Habit to Break

I can't stop thinking of Wednesday as the day to blog about books and needles, so here's what I'm up to.

I've started the Fair Isle on the baby hat, but I am simplifying the pattern so there are only two colors per row. It doesn't look lime much, yet.
And I've jumped on the Hygge bandwagon, which I first learned about from Kathy. I'm especially interested in Hygge because I'm going to Copenhagen in June. Believe it or not, my round-trip ticket cost $422. Obviously I bought it immediately. I was happy to go alone, but two friends are joining me. It gives me something to look forward to in these last six weeks of school.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Opening Celebration

The Jewish Artists Lab of Madison held the opening for our show this afternoon.
The theme for this year was: Outside/Inside: Exploring Boundaries and Otherness. My quilt is about how my grandfather was American on the outside, but carried a lot of feelings from his roots in the shtetl.

If you're interested, here is what I wrote about it:

As I thought about the theme in the early months of the cycle, my mind fixed on my paternal grandfather, Charles Kades (formerly Kadesevitz). He came to the United States from Lithuania in 1906 and grew up in Crystal Lake, Ill. He never got over the shame of his father’s refusal to assimilate. Charles himself spoke flawless English, graduated from UW-Madison, owned a successful auto parts store in Beloit, Wis., fished, and golfed. He is one of the kindest, most sensitive men I have ever known, and I was always touched by the stories he told of his childhood poverty. He spoke of how embarrassed he was that his father signed things for school with his signature in Yiddish because he refused to learn to write in English. Even though he was a prosperous American by any standard, the shtetl had made its mark on my grandfather.

The photo behind his head is a photo of downtown Beloit in the 1950s. The embroidered shtetl is based on a photo of the shtetl where Charles (then Chaskell) came from, Taureg, also known as Tavrik.

The Beloit Country Club did not admit Jews until the mid-1970s. My grandfather joined immediately.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Season, New Project

Yes, I'll use pretty much anything as an excuse to cast on. I am indeed shameless!
My friend Ilana is pregnant with her second baby. Ilana's mom, Lisa, told me that hats would be appreciated. Here's the funny thing: I met Lisa in Lamaze when I was pregnant with Seth, so I've known Ilana since she was a pre-born! It makes knitting for her extra special.

Today it rained and rained, which was fine because I had a ton of work to do. But yesterday was gorgeous, so I came home on time and found Naji enjoying porch weather:
Or was he keeping an eye on Daddy in case Keith forgot about dinner?

I appreciate a husband who weeds!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Finally Spring

I swear winter gets longer every year. Or does it just feel that way?
But spring is here, the end of the school year is on the horizon, and I'm still working on my Summer Camp shawl.
The shawl at the point were it's just miles and miles of garter stitch. I got through some of it by listening to S Town, the new podcast spinoff from This American Life. It seemed a bit slow at first, but hang in there. The plot thickens and it draws you in.
I can hardly stand to put down my Year of Stitches project. I'm not sure if it's wild and beautiful or a total mess -- and I'm not sure that I care. It's just fun to make it up as I go.

I hope that the weather wherever you are is sunny and beautiful, especially if you are marching today!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Pretty Awesome Week in Miami

I flew home from Miami today, and as good as it is to be home, I miss my daughter! Even though she has her comprehensive exams next month, she found time to to show me a lot of the city.

One morning we headed south from Miami to the agricultural area around Homestead, where I spent $21 on one piece of fruit:
It wasn't fully ripe before I left, but it was developing a texture like cotton candy and tasted very good.

We toured the home and estate of Villa Vizcaya, built in the early 20th century by an agricultural industrialist.
I snapped this photo of Rachel there. It's right in Coconut Grove, which is where she is living. It is an incredibly adorable neighborhood with lots of restaurants and boutiques. Not to mention a great bookstore.
The other very posh place we visited was the Biltmore Hotel, where Rachel had made reservations for us to have high tea. Isn't that sweet?
The tea (as in the drink) was the best we've ever had, and the food was amazing. It was the first time I've had Devonshire cream, but I hope it won't be the last.
It was a lot of food, fortunately, because we then headed off to one of Rachel's seminars. The 2 1/2 hour class flew by because her professor is so brilliant. A Cuban immigrant himself, he was discussing current attitudes toward immigrants in America. I am so touched that she brings me to her classes when I visit.

On my last day, we went to Little Haiti, which is definitely not a bastion of luxury.
It's a fascinating area. We visited the famous Liberi Mapou Creole and French Bookstore, and wandered around the neighborhood, which has the feel of a Caribbean island. Rachel was brave and ordered goat for lunch. She said it was good!

I know that many of you understand that feeling of loss when you say good-bye to one of your children. But, as long as she is happy and flourishing, I am OK.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Taking the Sad with the Good

It's Monday of spring break and a pretty busy day. For one thing, I am packing because I leave very early tomorrow for Miami, where I'll be spending a few days with my daughter.  I'm alternating packing with cooking for Passover, which begins this evening.
Among other things, I'm making Chocolate Caramel Crackers (with matzoh). It's a Smitten Kitchen recipe, so you know it's delicious.
Also delicious: Valdani embroidery thread. I blame Kat for this new obsession. She turned me on to Bonnie Sennott, who is an accomplished embroiderer and a wonderful knit designer, too. Bonnie mentioned that she used this "gourmet" thread, so I, of course, had to try it. It is indeed lovely.

Those are some good things. Here is the sad:
Keith had to put down Weeko a few days ago. She'd had renal failure for over a year and took a turn for the worse a couple weeks ago. Even after six days with the vet, she was lethargic and refused to eat. Weeko was a very anxious cat who hated the vet, so he had a vet come to the house. She passed in his arms. She was his cat. Even after living with me for a decade, she hissed at me. Still, I do feel her absence. She was just 12, so Keith wasn't ready to say good-bye.

And speaking of veterinarians ... Last weekend Seth received his official lab coat in the Blue Coat Ceremony, which marks the near-end of the third year of vet school. For a long time, he didn't think he'd go to college, so I am still amazed by how much he has accomplished.
In a few weeks he'll be done with classwork and begin his year of rotations. I was pretty darn proud. I may have even shed a tear or two. It's hard to believe that a year from now he'll be a real dog doctor.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hugs to All of You

I am so blessed to have you all as friends. I actually cried -- in a good way! -- as I read your comments on my last post. Thanks you all so much for helping me chase away the blues. And for sharing your own struggles.
I have picked up my Vodka Lemonade sweater again, and it feels good to make progress on it. The actual color is much more yellow than this photo shows.
When I look at the large numbers of people taking anti-depressants and the long lists of titles of books to help people with depression and anxiety, I can't help but think that there is something terribly wrong with our society. For one thing, Americans work far more hours than people in any other industrialized country, and we take far less vacation. I know that this 13-week slog between breaks wore down not only me, but my colleagues and students, too.
My Year of Stitches project has been a source of joy and comfort these last few months.
Knitting -- along with our other creative ventures -- is one way to escape the high-pressure world we live in, don't you think? It's no accident that DIY and hand-made have become movements. Nor that a knit hat became the symbol of the women's march in Washington. Every stitch is a protest of the hyper-pressures of today's world.

They also bind us to other people. Another group of people who keep me afloat is the Jewish Artists Lab. You may remember that I painted a portrait of Judy Chicago as part of a project launched by my friend Pam, in which we are assembling a "dinner party" of Jewish artists. We got together last weekend for a painting round, and I did this one:
It's Diane Arbus, who is famous for photographing "outsiders." It doesn't look as much like her as I'd like, but it's close enough!

Again, my heart-felt thanks to all of you!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Bit of the Blues

Well, maybe more than a bit. I haven't blogged or even read blogs for a while because I've been flat-out depressed. I've always been an anxious person, but these bouts of the blues started after the surgery to fix my broken leg in 2013. I had a pretty serious post-surgical depression, and ever since then, I've had the blues periodically.

Yes, I have a doctor and a therapist, so I'm not alone in this, but still. My mother and my friends have been very supportive, too. Coffee with friends has helped.
This episode started with insomnia, and after a week of that, I found myself spiraling downward.  But today I'm feeling a little better, which is a relief.

I have been quite a homebody through this, so I have one completed sock to show:
And you can see my Summer Camp shawl in the first photo. It's a very relaxing knit.
But mostly I've been working on the quilt for the Jewish Artists Lab show, which is April 30. Clearly I'm not working fast enough.

One more week until spring break. It has been a long haul since winter break! So, I'm hoping things are just going to get better.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Farewell to Yarn Along

I was sad this morning to read that Ginny has retired Yarn Along, a Wednesday link-up she has hosted since 2010. Of course, I totally understand her readiness to move on, and I'm sure many of us with continue with Tuesday's Keep Calm and Craft On with Nicole. Still, I will miss the reading element that Ginny brought into our world.

So, it is with bit of sorrow that I post my last Yarn Along, which includes both a new knit and a new book.
Summer Camp is a shallow and long shawl designed by Laura Aylor. The solid sections are Sun Fiber Valley yarn, and the speckled yarn is from Hedgehog Fibres. Both are yummy and fun to work with. It's designed to be a mindless knit, and it is quite easy.

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven follows three fictional Londoners through World War II. Chris Cleave, who wrote Little Bee, takes on a narrative voice that has the ring of history, but I'm not far enough into the book to say if it works. The dialogue sparkles with dry British wit, so I'm encouraged by the first few chapters.

Joining up with Ginny to Yarn Along.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Class With Laura Nelkin: Swoon!

Madison may not be a big city, but it is a big knitting city. We had our Knit In this weekend, and the line-up of teachers was amazing. Saturday morning, a friend and I took a class on knitting with bead from Laura Nelkin, author of Knockout Knits.
The class was amazing. Did you know that you should never use beads on single-ply yarn? Me, neither. It's not strong enough. Also to be avoided are wool/silk blends and cashmere. I also learned that you need to use bigger beads when you are placing beads (like with a crochet hook) than when you pre-string beads.

This is the Stellanti Shawl, which was our favorite one of her samples. The beaded sections are super easy so this is definitely going in my queue. Nelkin is quite funny. She described more difficult projects as being "anti-Alzheimer's patterns."
I do love knitting jewelry, though I haven't made any for quite some time. Nelkin's samples gave me plenty of inspiration.

The class was just for a half day, so we shopped after scarfing down some sandwiches from home. It turns out that I am quite the Wisconsin shopper. The two reddish/pink skeins are going into a second Perhaps, Perhaps. They were dyed by Sun Valley Fibers (Mount Horeb, Wis.), and I cannot say enough good things about their yarns. They are stunningly beautiful, a joy to knit with, and hold up well to wear.
I could not resist the mini skeins from Ewetopia (Viroqua, Wis.). All my favorite colors in one package! I'm looking for the right poncho or shawl pattern. Let me know if you have any ideas -- though I should mention that the yarn is DK weight.

Last but not least is the gradient cake in blue and purple, which I bought to make an Antarktis out of, but now I'm thinking it would make a good Stellanti. Such tough choices.!The yarn is by Knit Circus, which is right here in Madison. Yes, I am lucky!

This seems like enough for one post, so I'll tell you about fair isle with Mary Jane Mucklestone later!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Halfway Through

I'm especially pleased about finishing this sock. I think I started it two years ago! It's just a boring 2x2 rib sock for a man -- the kind of thing I don't love knitting. But it feels good to be halfway through a pair. I'm determined to start the second one right away. (No ball band, but I'm pretty sure it's Opal or Trekking XXL.)
I'm halfway through The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman. It's OK for popular fiction. The bird theme is woven deftly into the plot, and I appreciate that. If you like popular fiction, you'd probably like this book about two sisters and how their lives are entangled with a famous (fictional) artist.

I finished Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga with mixed feelings. I think it's an important story, but most of his story has been lost with the passage of time. The book is padded with lots of unnecessary detail, and I found myself skimming more and more as I went along.

Joining Ginny for Yarn Along.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Quick Trip; Quick Post

Keith and I had a whirlwind trip to Virginia this weekend to see these two lovebirds get married:
That's my brother Eric and his wife Nancy. They met at The College of William and Mary where both are law professors. It was the first time we got to meet Nancy's family, some of whom live in England, so it was a lot of fun.
I played a very important role: helping to put together the centerpieces for the wedding dinner. Ironically, my brother found this idea on the Internet...that would be the same brother who used to tease me about "crapbooking." Last laugh is on me!
On of my nieces snapped this photo of Keith and I at the church.

When we got home, Naji made it clear that he wants to go on a trip, too!