Friday, March 16, 2018

Comfort Knitting

I am now in the final two weeks of my treatment, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! In the meantime, though, I am still fatigued. After work, about all I can do is knit and listen to All Things Considered. I've finished my first Kindness Shawl in record time. Never before have I knit an entire shawl in less than two weeks.
Clearly, it needs to be blocked! I find shawls that are wide and shallow easiest to wear, so I'll be working on manipulating the shape when I block it. It is KnitCircus yarn, a merino and silk blend that feels wonderful around the neck.
Knitting this shawl was so relaxing that I started a second one as soon as I finished the first.
This shawl is in Ogle Coloration Yarn. She's a Wisconsin dyer, but you can also find her on Etsy. I'm enjoying the second time as much as the first!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Appreciations and Connections

Hello knitting/blogging friends! 

I know that I don't tell you often enough how much I value our friendships. I never liked Facebook and I have lots of worries about all the social media platforms -- but knitting blogs are nothing but joy and fellowship. Truly, hearing about your ups and downs, following your knitting and families, and having your support has added so much joy and comfort to my life.
Here is the Kindness Shawl in process. It is a KnitCircus pattern knit in KnitCircus yarn!
In that spirit, I want to share a few connections I've been thinking of lately. I love Kat's blog. She introduces me to so many patterns that I would not have found on my own. Just last week, she pointed my attention to The Cooler Side of Warm Cowl in this post. I followed the link and was struck by the fact that the designer sounded familiar.  A few clicks later, I discovered the designer owns the yarn store I visited in Montreal. These little connections make me happy!

I would never have learned about Knitvent were it not for Deb at A World of Imagination.

Andi at My Sister's Knitter directed me to Knitting Ventures, where I learned that the author Chloe Benjamin is a knitter. I had no idea! And she lives here in Madison. She is doing some kind of collaboration with Quince & Co. in conjunction with her new book, The Immortalists. If you can figure out the nature of this collaboration, let me know! 

Sometimes, though, I have mixed feelings about all the inspiration I get from you. Over at Lovely Yarn Escapes I learned about the Color Shifting Shawl, made with KnitPicks Hawthorne. Here I am, trying to knit from my stash, and then this lovely and affordable project is dangled in front of me. Will I give in???
One more stash hat almost done!
On the other hand, Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise is helping me stash bust. She introduced me to the Kindness Shawl. How did I miss this? It's designed by Madison's own Jaala Spiro at KnitCircus! As soon as I read her post, I downloaded the pattern and found some KnitCircus yarn in my stash.

Kathy at Compassionknit (don't you just love that name?) is also helping me knit down the stash. Her Project Peace Shawl is so lovely that I think I'll just have to knit one myself!

I could go on and on, so don't think I don't value you if I haven't mentioned you in this post! As a former journalist, I can't let any one post get too long. So, thanks to all of you for being there to cheer, sympathize, and share. You make my life richer.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Quick Knit

My thoughts are with those of you in the Northeast who are dealing with another major snow storm. I hope you have heat, someone with strong arms (or a snowblower) to shovel, and lots of knitting.

Here in Madison, we have not had even one snow day this year, though I did enjoy our ice day. It's a long stretch from winter break to spring break.
I have made quite a bit of progress this week on my Underscore Cowl from Making magazine. This would make a great last-minute gift as it knits up quickly and is quite lovely.

I work on my appliqued jeans a little at a time because it's awkward reaching into pants legs. I've decided that my birds are going to talk.
As it's Thursday evening, I'm looking forward to a weekend of sketching and painting. 

And decluttering. I really need to get serious about this. I got The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up from the library. The first 20% of the book is sort of a sales job about how great her method is. I'm hoping to get into the how-to part of the book soon. I certainly need both advice and inspiration!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

On Magazines

Where did this past week go? Work, mostly. I have three weeks left in my treatment, which continues to make me tired -- and that interferes with most fun things I do, like keeping up with all of you!

Magazines are one of my vices. I love pouring over an art or craft magazine with a cup of tea. But I am trying to cut back, both to save money and reduce clutter. I have a hard time getting rid of these magazines; they are just so beautiful and inspiring. However, at this point, I am drowning in inspiration!
I'm also trying to actually use them, thus I am going to knit this cowl from Issue 4 of Making magazine. This is a gorgeous knitting and craft magazine available only by subscription.  

My friend Tsela saw a pair of appliqued jeans on line and emailed me the link, wondering if we could make our own. Of course we can! Here's part of my mine:
And finally, a glimpse of kitty fun. Kola is about a year old now, just about done with kittenhood. She is still very playful and loves to attack this kitty carrot toy.
Now I'm off to catch up with you!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Finish and a Start

A while back I finished this cross stitch, Happinest:
 To frame it, I'm going to stretch it across an 8x8 painting canvas. First, obviously, it needs to be blocked.
Right away, I plunged into another Satsuma Street pattern:
This one is substantially harder, so it is going to take longer. 

If you haven't checked out the Satusma Street Etsy store (linked above) and you like to embroider, you might want to see all her designs. I thought I was done with cross stitch until I saw these adorable designs!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

When the Going Gets Tough, Knit

It's been more than a week since I blogged, though I have tried to read many of your posts. I've hit another bump on the health road and am doing a treatment that makes me super tired. I've been reaching for my easiest projects as a result, and lately that means my Winter Rose socks. They are practically knitting themselves.
I've only done one sketch this month: this drawing of our Hoosier Cabinet. Keith  bought it long before he met me, but I really like it.
These have been lazy winter days. My priority is getting through work. Then I come home and collapse in the window seat. Kind of like a cat.
I can't sign off without saying something about the latest school shooting. I am so heartened by the efforts coming from the Florida teens. Maybe they can do what adults have been unable to do -- sensible gun laws! I will never understand why anyone thinks their right to own a weapon outweighs a child's right to be alive. 
If you haven't listened to Emma Gonzalez's speech, you must! You can find it here. She gives me hope for the future!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Things To Love

I did get my snow day Friday, so that was the start of an awesome weekend! It gave me time to start on a project I am in love with: Winter Rose socks.
It is the first pattern in the Helen Stewart's Secret Sock Society. And isn't that yarn gorgeous? I won it in one of Andi's giveaways. The dyer is Great Lakes Tweed, and I know this isn't the last skein of this yarn I'll have on my needles. It is a joy to work with.

I went for a joyous walk Friday afternoon. I don't mind the cold at all when there is fresh white snow and a cerulean blue sky. And I've begun doing 20 minutes of yoga every couple of days, thanks to this DVD, which I've owned for years before finally putting it to use. 
I'm slowly making my way through Liz Steel's Watercolour Class, and it is both fun and transformative. One of my favorite exercises so far was painting my wardrobe.
And later today I'll be doing the only form of exercise I truly love: cross country skiing!

I hope you are having a fabulous weekend, too. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Reading, Listening &Knitting

It is supposed to start snowing any moment, and I'm hoping for more than the 3 to 5 inches that have been predicted. Maybe we'll have a snow day tomorrow! I'm pretty sure every teacher in southern Wisconsin has his or her fingers crossed right now.

I'd love to stay home and read. Right now I am loving both the books on my bedside table.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry is written in modern English but has the feel of a Victorian novel and is set in 1890s England. There are rumors of a serpent, as well as a widow with a socially conscious friend, her autistic son, and a bevy of other intriguing characters.

I've been waiting for Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein to come out in paperback. The book tells the story of what happened in the city of Janesville, Wis., after GM closed a huge plan there. I grew up in Beloit, just 15 minutes from this plant. Beloit was always Janesville's poor sister city because we never had a plant like the GM monster in Janesville. Back in the '70s, tons of my schoolmates were happy to head for those great union jobs rather than college. Of course, I want to know the rest of the story.

As for listening, I am still making my way through Prairie Fires, about the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Lane. The real story is so much darker and more complex than the rosy world set out in the Little House books. I'm listening to this on Audible, and it's perfect for knitting.

And then there's knitting.
I decided to make this hat after a sock I made from this yarn just didn't feel right. The yarn is Cascade Heritage Prints, and the sock was stiff and kind of small. I also wasn't happy with the striping. But, I love the way this hat is looking. 

Best of all, this is a stash-buster. That sock has been sitting in my basket for a couple of years.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Very Quiet Weekend

It's been an extra-quiet weekend here. A few inches of snow plus sub-zero temperatures have made it a lovely weekend to hunker down.

Few things are cozier than knitting on such a weekend. As part of my stash-busting efforts, I've been working on a second Tchaikovsky Hat. The yarn is a merino-silk blend so the hat will be super soft and comfortable. This skein languished in my stash for at least a decade.
The hat design is from my current knitting crush -- Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade -- and I'm excited to say that I finished my Vintage Fairy Lights socks on time! A number of you have asked what this yummy yarn is. The dyer is Casual Fashion Queen and the colorway is Bohemia
I'm awaiting tomorrow's release of the first pattern in the Secret Sock Society, a Curious Handmade project. Helen will be releasing a new sock pattern every two months. As she points out, this means knitting just one sock a month. I should be able to keep up with that! Today is the last chance to join at the early bird price. You can join up at this link.

Yesterday, before the snow and plunging temperatures, I did get to Barnes & Noble to pick up a gift and do a quick sketch. Not my best, but then, the whole point is to practice.
I'm sure I'll get more knitting done tonight while Keith watches the Super Bowl. I will never understand why anyone likes to watch sports! I'll be snuggled up in my craft room, listening to an audiobook and sipping on yet another cup of tea.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Too Much Weekend

The truth, my friends, is that there is such a thing as too much weekend. I am an introvert and I crave quiet, creative time. But sometimes I do everything offered in a weekend and end up satisfied, but tired.
That would describe this weekend. Saturday morning Madison Urban Sketchers met at the student union on the UW-Madison campus. It's an amazing building with a German beer hall called Der Rathskeller. I love this place because it's very cozy and because I worked there all through my undergraduate years.
Then Saturday afternoon, I was busy baking Oatmeal Scotchies in honor of the Scottish poet Robert Burns.
Werth reads some Burns in her excellent brogue.
My friends have an annual party to mark this, replete with faux haggis and Banoffee Pie (which turns out to be English not Scottish, but I'm not complaining); readings of Burns' poetry in a Scottish brogue; and the singing of Auld Lang Syne.
Percy made up three types of haggis: venison, poultry, and vegetarian. No one would eat the authentic stuff. It has lamb brains, I think.
This afternoon I went to a play with my mom and her friend. It was interesting, about a school that was being closed down. For me, this is full weekend!

I did find time to cast off one sock and cast on the for next before I run out of inspiration.
The first Vintage Fairy Lights sock.
I hope your weekend was lovely and you are headed into a good week!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Some Finished Objects

When I started my ZickZack scarf, I was sure it wouldn't be ready until the winter of 2018-19. Fingering-weight yarn, small needles, and long rows made it feel like it would be long-term project.

But I had forgotten the seduction of the Chevron stitch pattern. It became a comfort to knit a few rows every day. And now I'm wearing it!
I made mine longer than the pattern calls for. I like a scarf I can wrap around my neck and still have dangling ends, so I bought an extra ball of each color -- though I did not use all of the 3rd balls.

For the first time in a while, I have finished jewelry project.
I can't claim that this is an original pattern -- I got it from a book -- but I love it nonetheless. It's a bit tricky, but totally worth it. I think I know what my sisters-in-law will be getting for their next birthdays!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Fretting about a Sweater

I've been working on the Windchill Cardigan that I'm knitting for my daughter. The whole issue of fit is what freaks me out about sweaters. My daughter is quite slender so I thought this would be easy: Just make the smallest size and then hope it's not too big.
But now that I'm working the arms, I'm worried that they are too small in circumference. I could email her to measure her biceps -- she works out -- but at this point, I'm just going to keep going.

I do like the waffle-weave border!

If it doesn't fit, I'll follow Elizabeth Zimmerman's advice and find someone who fits the sweater. That would be a bummer and I'd still need to knit a sweater for Rachel.
I've started embroidering my knitting doll. As you can see, I make up the color scheme as I go. It's more fun that way.

In other news, Seth got news this week that he passed his Veterinary boards! This one huge stressor off his plate. He'll continue on rounds through graduation in May. In mid-February we should know where he'll be for his internship year. So far, hospitals in Louisville and Miami have told him they are interested. His sister in in grad school in Miami, so that would be a great place for him.

And this is the boy who barely did enough work to graduate from high school. They surprise us, don't they?

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Lovely Long Weekend

Finally...snow! We didn't get a lot, but it was enough for Keith and I to hit the golf course to cross country ski. The tracks were skied-in -- as opposed to beautiful machine-made tracks -- but I'm not complaining. It felt so good to be out and moving across the snow.

I do love knitting on a long winter weekend, so I was able to make some progress on my Vintage Fairy Light socks:
And I'm slowing knitting rounds on the super-bulky Clara's Cape. In real life, the pink is more subdued than it looks here.
I made it to Madison Urban Sketchers for the first time in a while, and we had a record turn-out: 20 sketchers! We were at the Chocolatarian -- and, yes, this cafe is as delicious as it sounds -- on the West Side.
As we often do, my friend Tsela and I sat together, so we drew the same thing. You can see her drawing on the left and mine on the right.

However, it hasn't been all fun. I have been working on modifying a 100-question biology semester exam. Finals start Wednesday, so it will be a crazy week.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Bad Photos; Great Event

To celebrate our show at Madison's Overture Center, the Madison Contemporary Fiber Artists held a workshop today, and it was a huge success. We invited the public to make leaves for our "tree," a branch that is part of the exhibit. We had five stations for leaf-making: embroidery, embellishment, felting, weaving, and coloring. 
We were told to expect 100 people. We got about 350, half children. People of all ages loved the projects and made beautiful leaves.

I am exhausted. We set up at 9 a.m. today and closed down at 1 p.m. Thank goodness we have a three-day break from school so I'll have time to recover. And excuse the photos; we were in an interior room with no natural light.

The opening reception was last night. We had a great turnout -- even though the temps were well below freezing. I want to share a few of the quilts with you. This first one is a huge landscape by Susan Jackan. Sue was one of my team teachers my first year of teaching. She retired a while ago, but it has been fun to meet up with her again. She has won all kinds of national awards for her work.
This one is by Laura Gottleib. I love her colors and the composition.
This next one is a small work of dense embroidery accented by beads done by Dvorah Kaufman.
And last is my entry:

I really wanted to have a third panel, but I ran out of time. It was fun to make, especially the fringe at the bottom. I titled it "Perishable." It's supposed to be a play on words: perishable in the sense of food going bad but also a reference to our fragile Earth.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Mid-Week Hello

 I'm often surprised by how quickly the week goes. Is it really Wednesday night already? I got through my two IEP meetings and now I'm frantically trying to get my students ready for final exams next week. 
I started two projects on Sunday. I cast on for my Clara's Cape. I have never knit with super-bulky yarn before, and it's hurting my hands a bit. The issue could be the yarn: Spud & Chloe Outer. It is a cotton-wool blend, so it is super non-scratchy. But that cotton content might be the reason I can only knit a few rows a day.

And I've started a new embroidered doll. This one has a knitting theme:
I have yet to pick out colors and start embroidering, but that's the fun part!

Thank you all for your compliments about my mug rugs. I am blushing now!