Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Unravelling on a Wednesday

I did some unravelling in the past week, in fact. For the second time I unravelled a fingering-weight hat. It is the most basic hat possible but I just keep making mistakes. In the last round, I forgot to change to larger needles after finishing the ribbing for the brim. Argh!
My ZickZack scarf is going to take forever, but I am so happy with the way the colors are playing together that I don't mind. Of course, I haven't been working on it very long. We'll see how I feel six months from now!

I'm almost done with NeuroTribes, which is about the history and current state of autism. It's well-written and very interesting, especially for a special ed teacher who has a nephew with autism. It is also painful at many points. People who are not "normal" have not been treated well for much of history.

Next up is The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf. I've found myself drawn back into her work. I haven't read this one before. It's an early, less "modernist" novel than Mrs. Dalloway or To the Lighthouse.

Joining with Kat for Unraveled Wednesday. Come along for the ride!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Swimming in Stitches

I can't be the only Midwesterner who is obsessed with the ocean.  Most of the planet is covered with water, but so many of us have to settle for lakes or rivers when we're longing for water. I am never surprised by how expensive it is to live near the sea because I can't imagine anything better (unless there's a hurricane, of course).
I have two watery projects going. One is a summer dress that I'm turning into a seascape with phantasy phish based on 19th-century drawings.
This project is pure fun. I just start stitching and go with the flow. Very relaxing!

The other is my main quilting project, which will go on display this winter at Madison's Overture Center. This has been a lot of work, but I'm nearing the end. 
Here's a sneak peak at the fringe. I hope it gives a watery feel.

I hope your weekend has been more relaxing than mine. I volunteered to be a proctor the PSAT on Saturday. Yes I was paid, but a six-day week is exhausting! This would be a great retirement gig, though. That leaves one day for getting my livf in order and doing the homework for the mindfulness class I'm taking.

And my embroidery club at school starts up on Wednesday, so I'm washing muslin as I type, so the kids will be able to dive right in. Then I'll need to cut it up and zigzag the edges so they don't unravel. There are times when my sewing machine is my best friend.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Knitting and War: A History

I just loved the speaker at this month's Madison Knitters' Guild meeting. A graduate student from UW-Madison named Rebecca Keyel talked about her research area: knitting during the two world wars. Knitting and history are a heady combination for a nerd like me.
This was called a "helmet." It's one of the samples that Rebecca knit using the traditional patterns. She used Quince & Co. yarn.
I didn't take notes (too busy knitting) but here are some tidbits that stuck in my mind:

  • Socks were really important during the trench warfare of WWI because the men's feet were always wet and muddy. Trench Foot was a real condition.
  • Knitted items were called "comforts" because they brought comfort to the soldiers.
  • Women started knitting the minute war was declared, feeling the need to participate in the war effort and to support the soldiers.
  • By WWII, there were more knitted items than were really needed, but the government kept encouraging knitting to keep up morale on the homefront.

These are socks based on wartime patterns. Again, Rebecca knit them from Quince & Co. yarn.
I hope Rebecca eventually publishes a book because she was fascinating. She told us that there were constant rumors that the Red Cross was selling the sweaters and other items instead of sending them to the front. So far, she has found no evidence that this is true.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but there was quite a crowd around the table that held the samples.

As you may have already noticed, I'm getting back into the swing of blogging and have been catching up on my reading and commenting. I've missed you so it's nice to see what you are all up to.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Happy New Year!

It's been a while, but starting school and getting through the High Holy Days is just exhausting!

As always, I enjoyed the holidays. I try to make them peaceful and reflective, which would be easier if I didn't host the Break Fast that ends Yom Kippur. I fed around 35 people this year -- some of whom had fasted for 25 hours.
My friend Richard makes the most beautiful -- and delicious -- challahs.

We are having a gorgeous fall -- thanks, no doubt -- to global warming. The most exciting part is that I can bike again, now that the scar from my surgery is healed. And the fall flowers are stunning.
I know I swore not to buy any yarn or cast on any new projects, but I have finished a few things, so I gave in when I saw a sample of a ZickZack Scarf at an LYS. Here's my new beginning:
Besides, it seems only right to start a new project at the beginning of the new year! The yarn is Lang Mille Colori Baby. It feels like it's very thin sock yarn, almost lace. This is going to take FOREVER, but I think it will be worth it.

I hope to get back in the blogging groove. Work has just been overwhelming! Many days I'm at school from 7:30 to 5:30 without even a break for lunch. I feel really lucky to work at a great school where the staff is amazing and the students are diverse and interesting. I like my work -- there's just too much of it!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

And the Knit Goes On

For some reason, work just wiped me out last week. The upside was that I saw most of the new PBS documentary on the Vietnam War. This documentary is truly excellent. It gives you a lot of insight into what the various Vietnamese peoples were thinking -- all of which supports the opinion that we should never have been there in the first place!

I finished this sock, made with one of Knit Circus's amazing gradient stripe yarns.
Isn't it cool how the project matches the bag?

I ended up spending most of the Jewish New Year resting, but I found enough energy to block some winter projects while the blocking bed is open:
You can see my Winter Ridge Shawl/Poncho on the right and the Through the Loops Mystery Shawl 2017 on the left. There is a pair of mitts that needed washing in the middle. I am ready for winter!

Not that winter feels like it's coming. We expect a high of 90 today! I'm enjoying this last bit of summer, hoping to have enough energy to bike tomorrow.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend, too!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

On a Happier Note

Although my weekend started out with an unfortunate knitting event (see yesterday's post), it picked up from there. For one thing, I was able to bike for the first time in almost a year. It felt so good to get the exercise and to be able to go downtown without looking for parking. I am pleasantly surprised that the incision from my July 6 surgery (on the back of my right thigh) is fully healed already.

On my first trip, I visited my dad, who is in rehab now. A week ago he landed in the ER with sepsis. That was his fourth ER trip in 7 weeks. Three of them resulted in hospitalization and this is the second time he was released to rehab, not home. Poor guy. He is going through a lot.

I also went to a fund-raiser for the local Rape Crisis Center and to a sketching event with a friends.

And, I finally had time to try a project from this great book I got from the library:
If you look closely, you can see light pencil lines on this sheet of paper:
Then I covered the lines with a watercolor resist pen by Christine Adolph.
Then I played with my paints:
Now I'm waiting for a special Ranger transfer foil to arrive in the mail. When I rub that on these little paintings, the white lines should turn gold! These are little paintings that I'll make into cards. If the gold really works, I want to try larger paintings.

And I'll leave you with a picture of our darling kitten:
She's a keeper!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Shame on Interweave!

I don't think I have ever seriously railed against a product on line, but I'm about to launch in to a near tantrum! You see, I am trying really hard to finish WIPs instead of casting on. Yesterday I pulled this shawl project out of the bin, figured out where I left off -- never easy! -- and started knitting.
You can see that it is no longer on the needles. When I finished the first lace repeat, things didn't look right to me. I jumped online to see if there was any errata for this project. And there is: Instead of using the size 6 needle listed in the book, I should have used the size 10 advised on line. 

Really! I spent more than 20 years as a newspaper reporter and editor. I understand making mistakes in the details. But in the needle size? No excuse! The editors should have made one pass through the patterns checking for needle size alone. It's too important to mess up.
The pattern is Quixote and it's from Wanderlust, which has a lot of really beautiful patterns. Warning: Don't make anything from this book without checking for errata.

I am going to contact Interweave and see if they will make this right -- i.e. refund me the cost of the book. I spent between 6 and 8 hours on this project!

I started this project about 2 1/2 years ago, so I'm not even sure I want to knit this. I love the yarn, so I may repurpose it.

Well, it's Saturday morning, so I don't want to be grumpy for my whole weekend. Thanks for listening!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

That Last Post Title Was Frighteningly Accurate

My last post was titled: The Quiet Before the Storm. Little did I know!

I was referring to the quiet pace of life before the high schoolers showed up for classes. But I have a daughter who lives in Miami, so storm took on a whole new -- and more menacing meaning -- by this past Monday, when Irma began to look like a serious Hurricane.

On Tuesday, my husband talked Rachel into flying home. To get a flight that didn't clean out our savings, she had to drive to Orlando and fly from there. Not that we are complaining to have her here, save and dry!

She is, of course, worried about her friends back in Miami, as well as her apartment (4 blocks from the ocean) and the University of Miami, where she's going to school. At least we have a new kitty and a new kitty-friendship to cheer her up:
There Nagi is, grooming Kola. There has been some playful biting, but mostly they are good friends and playmates. Kola is in that phase where she will leap pretty darn high for the right toy.

I cast off the last stitches on the Never Ending Shawl, also known as the TTL Mystery Shawl 2017.
I ran out of white, so I had to cast-off with pink, which I'm pretty happy with. I still have some ends to weave in and a couple dropped stitches to secure. I can't block it at this moment because I'll need the bed that Rachel is sleeping in!

My thoughts are with Dee and Mere and anyone else who is threatened by Irma!

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Quiet Before the Storm

Students start at my school tomorrow, so I've enjoyed three days of quiet.  I've done quite a bit of work on this project:
I'm beginning to pick up some speed with my bead embroidery, thank goodness! I wasn't sure I'd finish this on time. It's part of a larger art quilt, which will be on display this winter, and I think I'll be done in plenty of time.

Of course, I am enjoying time with our new cat. Kola enchants us all of the time, even when she's sleeping!
See that afghan on the couch? It was crocheted by Keith's grandmother. I can see that she had great skill, but she made it out of that old acrylic yarn, and it is not exactly soft! It reminds me that good wool is worth the cost.

I've had a few outings: coffee and knitting with a friend; a good walk with a newly retired teacher friend; the Labor Day lunch at my parents' community; and dinner a friend's house, which included her new grandson:
Is that cute or what? 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

It's Hard to Knit or Read With...

...this sweet girl around:
This is Kola, and she is part of our family now. There is a story behind her adoption. Our trip to Door County was first trip we've taken since putting down Weeko in April. While we were gone, Keith's brother came in once a day to feed Nagi.
When we got back from Door County, Nagi was a like a dog. He followed us everywhere. He woke Keith up every few hours during the night with licks and love. This represented a complete personality change. Clearly, he had been desperately lonely during our trip.
So the next day we went to the Humane Society. The place was packed with humans wanting cats, so we were very lucky to get Kola. Her name is Lakota for friend; Nagi is Lakota for both gray and shadow.
They were friends instantly. They play together and even nap together.

She is almost 6 months old. When she first came home she smelled terribly from ringworm treatment, but that is fading. She still has lots of kitten energy and is entertaining to us as well as to Nagi. So far, she is very attached to Keith and I, so we are hoping she will be a lap cat -- something neither Weeko nor Nagi have been.

Nagi is back to his more sedate self. I miss all that affection, but I'm glad that he's happy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Gift, Some Knitting, Some Reading

First off, I have to share the wonderful goodies I got from Kim of Kim Knits, thanks to a lovely swap arranged by Kathy of Compassionknit. Kim is so smart. The swap was a no-yarn swap, so Kim included needles!
It seems so obvious, but it never occurred to me. Of course, the first thing that occurred to me was chocolate, but that's another story! I love the little notebooks she included. It's just perfect for keeping in my knitting bag and tracking details about my projects. And she noticed that I am a sucker for all crafts, so she sent a needle-felting project. It's a little hamster and just adorable. I'm thinking it would be perfect for Thankgiving weekend!

Thank you so much, Kim, for such fun and thoughtful gifts!

As for knitting, I've been unusually monogamous and managed to add quite a bit to my TTL Mystery Shawl 2017. I ordered the light pink online because I couldn't find anything that seemed right locally. It's OK, but a bit too pastel for me. I'm about 20% through the final clue; I will finish this!

I just finished History of Wolves, a first novel by Emily Fridlund. It's a coming-of-age novel set in northern Minnesota. It's much more nuanced that your usual COA novel and well-written.  In this book, a teen-age girl who is being raised by her hippie parents on the site of a failed commune begins baby-sitting for an affluent family that moves in nearby.
The plot is not what you'd expect. I found this novel quite gripping.

That just leaves me reading non-fiction for now. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, a doctor, looks at death and end-of-life issues in America -- and what a mess it is! Not a cheerful read, but very thoughtful and thought-provoking. My father moved into Assisted Living a few weeks ago, so this has special resonance for me.

I've just begun The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf, which is about early biologist Alexander von Humbolt, and it is fascinating and really well-written. I'm looking forward to getting deeper into it.

Please do join us for Unravelled Wednesday with Kat!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I Guess It's Finally Public

I'm still slogging through the Through The Loops Mystery Shawl 2017, but the KAL is over. Designer Kirsten Kapur has renamed the project "Fugue in Mosaic Minor," and is it for sale on Ravelry.

Many people have finished their shawls. Here was mine before we left Madison for Door County:
I was halfway through Clue 3 out of 5, so I figure I'm about halfway through it.  Now I've seen photos of the finished shawl, and it is pretty stunning.
Can you see my mistake here? There's an extra pink ridge at the top of the mosaic section. I'm OK with it.
One of the nice things about it is that there are four mosaic sections, each one more challenging than the one before it. It's like a mosaic tutorial.
If you are interested in the pattern, you can find it here.

This is my trip knitting, but I don't know how much I'll get done. My main focus is on the art quilt I need to finish for a show this winter.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Eclipse and Other Sights

Did you see it? We aren't in an area to get the maximum effect, but Keith was able to capture the partial eclipse today without hurting his eyes.
This photo was taken at 1:15 this afternoon in Fish Creek (Crick to the locals) in Wisconsin's Door County. If you've been reading this blog for long, you know that Keith and I LOVE Door County.

This time, we stopped in Oshkosh to see an art exhibit by Native Americans. That exhibit was good, but we were even more enchanted by an exhibit called Wonderland. I had seen this mentioned on the Internet and had no interest at all. But it turned out to be fascinating.
This is a photo, not a painting!
This is one of 75 images carefully crafted and shot by British photographer Kirsty Mitchell. The exhibit includes films that show how she put these photos together -- and they are just amazing. She created a sort of fairy tale to deal with her grief after her mother died, and ended up with the most successful crowd-sourced photography project ever.

You can see more about Wonderland at her Web site here.  There was a beautiful book for sale at the Paine Art Museum in Oshkosh, but it costs $150. Maybe my public library will buy a copy!
The Paine Art Center in Oshkosh
I am looking forward to enjoying this last week before I have to report to school. We are happily settled into Tuckaway Cottage just north of Ephraim, and the weather forecast is excellent. I hope you are having a lovely week, too.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Crafting is More Fun with Friends

I have a large collection of rubber stamps from my scrapbooking days. I've tried to sell them without success (but I'm open to ideas of how to do so!).  Given the prices of greeting cards, I've been wanting to sit down and make a huge number of cards -- for free, as I paid for all the supplies years ago.
I finally did it this week. Given how many supplies I have, I invited friends to join me. Four friends came over, including Ilana and her new baby, Tal. I was too busy teaching techniques and holding Tal to take photos of the gathering, but I do have photos of some of my cards.
They are very basic by today's standards. I don't have a Cricut or any cutting system beyond scissors. I don't have the patience to do a whole lot of cutting. But I do have some nice cards, sparkly watercolors, papers, and brads.
I made 32 cards over a 24-hour period. If you assume a modest card costs $4, that's $128-worth of cards. I would have made more, but we really needed our dining table back!

I got a lot more making done when I was alone, but it was a lot more fun when my friends were here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Knitting, Watching, Reading

There hasn't been a lot of knitting here lately. I've been putting in a lot of time at school, and we've been visiting my dad in rehab. We're hoping he'll be able to move to Assisted Living next Thursday.

I've made some progress on my Winter Ridge Cowl Shawl, which is really a poncho.
It has been perfect for watching Shetland, a BBC series that streams on Netflix. How did I miss this for so long? One plot is set on Fair Isle! The settings are just gorgeous, and I'm half in love with the detective, too.
If you haven't watched this yet, you are in for a treat.

Note: I tried reading the books, where the whole series began, and I didn't like them.
I finished Graham Swift's Mothering Sunday, and it's OK. It is short and sweet and thoughtful, but not so engaging that I loved it.
I finished The Trip from last week, about Andy Warhol, and I liked that, too, but didn't love it.  It really brought home that his image was completely crafted and false. He in interesting, though! Next up is The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf, which is about the early biologist Alexander Von Humboldt, who did pioneering work in South America in the 1800s.

Joining up with Kat for Unraveled Wednesday

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I Fall Victim to Good Marketing

I should put myself on a strict knitting diet: no new yarn, no casting on. I was thinking very seriously about doing just that but then a friend "forced" me to go to The Knitting Tree, a LYS. She needed buttons; I needed nothing. Yet, three days later, I have these:
They are Stripey Fingerless Gloves from Patternology, which is the brand that the Knitting Tree owner uses for her designs.  In a brilliant move, she doesn't sell the patterns; instead, they are free when you purchase the yarn each pattern is designed for.

The yarn in this case is KFI Luxury Collection Indulgence Cashmere. It's a DK weight with 5% cashmere. For $30, you get 437 yards and 150 grams, enough to make a set of fingerless mitts and a matching slouchy hat, which I've begun:
The mitts and hat are going to be gifts for two different people, however.

I have had too much time to knit. Someone -- not me, for once -- backed a car I was riding in into a post and aggravated my highly arthritic neck. Knitting in a neck-friendly position was my main activity this weekend, along with  experimenting with pain-killers. Gee, I sound so old here!

I'm off to catch up on your blogs. That's one other thing I can manage!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

From a Coffee Shop

Our Internet is out. We are trying to change companies and the old one is gumming up the works, so here I am!

I decided that I need to start working on my travel sock at home, seeing as I had to cancel most of my travels this summer. Some progress has been made on the first Almondine, an Anne Hansen pattern from the the book, Sock Knitting Master Class. The yarn is Cascade Heritage, a very dependable sock yarn. Affordable, too.
The Trip: Andy Worhol's Plastic Fantastic Cross-Country Adventure is itself a trip. It's a fast read about his early career and a car trip to his first Los Angeles exhibit. It's hard to believe he lived such a crazy life with his mother as a housemate! I'm not a huge fan of his work, but his life is very interesting.

Idaho is a literary novel with a mystery embedded. The writing is a bit flowery for my taste; sometimes I feel like the author is trying too hard. The intricate plotting holds my attention, so I'll definitely finish this. I should add that it involves a couple characters with dementia and is overall fairly depressing.

Joining with Kat for Unraveled Wednesday.

Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Never a Good Sign ...

... when I don't blog for more than a week.

My dad has been complaining of back pain. He's also been having a lot of trouble with mobility. So, we made arrangements for him to move into the assisted living section of the retirement community where my parents live.
Yarn bombing downtown Madison! I love this.
But before we could get him moved, he ended up in the emergency room. Turns out the poor guy has a compression fracture in one of his vertebrae. He'll need a stay in rehab before moving into his new digs.
I've been embroidering a lot of ocean stuff lately. 
In between that, I've put in quite a few hours getting ready for school, and we are trying to make some progress in decluttering our house so we can put it on the market int he spring. We don't want to move far, just to downsize.

There simply aren't enough hours in the day, are there?