Sunday, January 13, 2019

Winter Weekends

Yarn and winter just go together. There are a lot more opportunities to wear wool in Wisconsin than in points south. And there is something extra cozy about knitting when it's cold outside.

I spent a chunk of this weekend at my Knitters Guild winter retreat, held in the cute little town of New Glarus. My husband can't believe this events exists. 

"So you just sit around all day and knit?" he asks disbelievingly.
"That's all?"
At this point he just shakes his head.

I knit quite a bit on a new pair of socks:
These are the Go With the Flow Socks from Interweave's Favorite Socks  book.  I wanted a simple pattern that would show off this gorgeous yarn from Ewetopia, one of my favorite Wisconsin dyers. 

And I'm close to finishing my Soundwaves shawl.
It's hard to get a feeling for what this shawl is like because it's large -- two skeins of sock-weight yarn -- and very scrunched up on the needles. But I think it's going to be very cozy and pretty.

Last weekend, I was up in Door County (the "thumb" of Wisconsin) with some friends. Luckily my friend Lisa knew a place to go to see ice formations, which were awesome:
Lisa is a serious photographer, so we were out for every sunset:
The only bad part is that today I have a stomach bug, so I went to bed as soon as I got home from New Glarus. I have had good company; Kola enjoyed exploring my knitting bag before settling down to nap by my side.
I hope that I feel better in the morning. We are a week away from finals, so I can't miss work next week!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Reading with Obama and a Thank You

First of all, I hope the new year is beginning well for all of you! Mine started out well with a walk in the freshly fallen snow followed by lunch with friends.
Natural springs melt enough show for a little stream.
On Monday, the New York Times published a list of the books that former President Barak Obama read in 2018 -- and I found that he and I read five of the same books:

-An American Marriage by  Tayari Jones. I listened to this one, and I enjoyed it a great deal. It's the fictional story of the marriage of two Black professionals and how their lives are affected when the husband is falsely convicted of a violent crime. This a well-written book with a compelling plot that has a lot to say about being Black in America today.
-Educated by Tara Westover. I listened to this one, too. A gripping story about growing up in a conservative Mormon family with a father who is both a survivalist and bipolar. Tara's journey to Cambridge is inspiring.
-How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt looks at history to relate how leaders can destroy democracies. A scary and essential read at this point in time.
- There There by Tommy Orange sounded like a book I would love. It follows a handful of characters in the Oakland, CA, area before a pow-wow. Everyone I know loved this book. I didn't even finish it. The characters just didn't sit well with me.
-Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday was possibly the most praised work of literary fiction in 2018. I'm not sure I can finish this one, either. Yes, the writing is strong, but the story of a 20-something aspiring writer and an elderly literary star is passionless and dull. Halliday herself had an affair with Philip Roth when she was younger.

My most-fun read of 2018 -- well, actually, listen-- was a book I would never have picked out if so many of my treasured blog friends hadn't talked it up. So my sincere thanks to all of you who recommended: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

I listened to this one, too, which I highly recommend. The reader captures the accents and inflections of the characters -- without taking on such a strong brogue that the dialogue is difficult to understanding. Listening to this book was sheer joy.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Epic Knit Has Begun

I knew that I needed to start the Epic Knit before my break ends if I am to start it at all, so after spending a few hours trying to bring some order to the sewing room, I assembled all the pieces. 
About a half hour later, I had 298 stitches cast on and was into the second round. Yahoo! Maybe I really will get this monster knit by the end of the year. Of course, that's easy to say now as I haven't started the very complex Fair Isle pattern. That's where the challenge begins.
But it is way too nice to stay inside. Keith and I took a long walk this afternoon. It was 22 degrees and sunny -- my idea of a perfect day. It gave me a chance to wear my Sockhead Hat.
And I'm thinking of Kathy B, who will understand that I am a bit blue today. My daughter left yesterday to go to her dad's house and is now on her way back to Miami. The house feels very lonely without her.

Having a two-week break is downright luxurious. I feel very lucky. And very relaxed! I was hoping to take a quick trip Up North for some cross country skiing with friends, but it doesn't look like there is snow anywhere. No climate change here!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Loving Winter Break

I am happy as a clam to be on break. School was just crazy that last week. I don't think I have ever needed a break quite so much.

The break started out with a birthday dinner for Rachel. My ex-husband actually suggested a photo of three generations: Rachel, me, and my mom:
So far, I have mostly hung out with Rachel and Keith, cooked and crafted. Does it get any better? Rachel always has work to do (that's life in grad school), so she's fine with me sharing the couch -- her on her laptop and me knitting.

While I continue to procrastinate on the Epic Knit, I have been enjoying the Antler hat:
And I'm enjoying my quilting/embroidery project. I've named this technique "Crazy Kantha."
It is Christmas Day, so we will soon be off to Keith's parents' house for dinner. Rachel is at her dad's for a few days, but she'll be back soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

I'm a Meme and Other News

We had the Special Ed Department Holiday Party Friday night, and I won some pretty awful stuff in the White Elephant exchange, including a really awful hat. I was goofing around in it and one of my colleagues turned me into a meme:
This afternoon I went drawing with my friend Tsela, who included me in one of her sketches.
 Tsela is much faster than I am and she completed two sketches in the time it took me to do one. We always think it's fun when we draw the same thing. The results are always quite different (mine is on the right):
We were drawing at Madison Chocolate Company (highly recommended!) and saw a celebrity there. I know he's shy so I settled for taking a photo of the back of children's author Kevin Henkes. 
I started a hat with some Cascade 220 from my stash. The Antler Hat pattern is free from Tin Can Knits. I have never been disappointed in a Tin Can project. This is a very easy cabled pattern, and it's going quickly.
I am making a recipe from my new cookbook for dinner tonight: Lemon-Fennel Chicken in a pot.
I love Dorie Greenspan's baking recipes. I swear by her pie crust. She is the co-author of Julia Child's baking book; I can't imagine a better credential! I also made one of her chocolate cake recipes for dessert. I hope things come out well because my mother is coming for dinner!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Another Week Flew By

... and I still haven't started the Epic Knit. I can't even blame Hanukkah, as we won't really do much until Rachel gets home for winter break.

I did receive some hand-made pendants from my talented SIL Mary. Isn't this just SO cool?
She has an Etsy store here, just in case you need a gift for someone special -- or yourself!
While procrastinating on the epic cast-on, I finished my Dewberry, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this pattern. It's fast and easy, and looks great. Like Kathy, now I want to make a larger size.  I have a feeling I'll be giving out a few of these as gifts a year from now.

I'm almost done with finishing on a quilt. You can't tell from the photo, but I managed to miter the corners on the binding, which I am exceedingly proud of!
I know the flash photography does not do it justice, but the days here are short. I'm making a few more in this crazy/Kantha style. They are intuitive and relaxing. 

And relaxation is much needed. High school students get crazy this close to Christmas. Quite a few students I know are having trouble in the community -- and that never helps their academic performance. Still, the students are my favorite part of the job (along with the special ed team in my building). My husband and a few physicians strongly feel that I should retire. I go back and forth. I hate the paperwork, but there are still parts of the job that I truly love.

If you're retired, I have a question: How did you know when the time was right?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

I Blame Kathy!

If you read Kathy's blog (and if you don't, you really should) you know that she has knit up two Dewberry cowls. Hers are so lovely, that I just had to cast on one for myself:
Not only is it a beautiful pattern (which she says is also easy), but it lends itself well to Malabrigo Rios, one of my favorite yarns.

This is kind of a problem, because I'm supposed to be starting my Epic Knit, which is an amazing fair isle cardigan from Marie Wallin:
Is that not stunning? 

It's knit from the bottom up, so you start by casting on more than 350 stitches. Casting on that many stitches is so boring! I can't watch TV or listen to a podcast. It's all about counting. So I keep finding ways to avoid the start. I know, I need to develop some self-discipline.

It is going to take me forever. Marie Wallin is a British designer who runs an annual club of one pattern. I'll be shocked if I finish this in a year.

And since Hanukkah starts tonight, I want to gift you this hilarious and brilliant Hanukkah song:

Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday!)