Saturday, February 28, 2015

FO: A Day Late

I took this FO photo a few days ago:
It's the Leaves and Vines Beret from Vogue Knitting, which is possibly the best hat pattern ever, in Sun Valley Fiber yarn.

If I could drag myself out of bed, I'd find the ball band so I could share the colorway. But I'm not ready to to get out of bed.

It's a bummer to be sick because a year ago today Keith and I were married at the state Capitol. I had planned on celebrating by returning to the Capitol today for a protest against our governor's plans to make Wisconsin a Right to Work state, but I definitely am not up to braving single-digit temperatures.

Sick or not, I am very happy to have found my soulmate and to simply spend the day here at home with him, safe and warm -- and sneezy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Bed By 4 PM

If I am in bed by 4 p.m., it can only mean one thing: I'm sick. I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say that sneezing and Kleenex are involved.

So, I have a cup of hot herbal tea and a few minutes to comment on After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman. Lippman is one of the few suspense writers I can stand to read. She's quite a good writer. And while this isn't her very best, it is quite a good read. The story centers around the women left behind when a husband and father disappears. I have to admit that I'm sucker for stories that involve people disappearing. The story is engrossing and the ending surprised me. I recommend it when you want something gripping but not too heavy.

The book inspired me to try to track down a kid I knew as a teen. Greg Kammer is one of those people who disappeared into nowhere in 1985 and again in 1990. Presumably, he's out there living under a third identity. As far as I could tell, no one knows where he is now. Greg was a quiet guy, kind of a teddy-bear build, sweet. He left behind good jobs, romantic relationships, and huge business debts. I hope that he has found peace wherever he is.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Brioche Isn't That Hard

At this past weekend's Knit-In, I took a class in Brioche knitting. I have long wanted to learn how to do the Brioche Stitch. When Nancy Marchant came out with her beautiful book, Knitting Brioche, I checked it out of the library and perused it. It is a beautiful book with clear illustrations and directions, but I was still intimidated. So I jumped at the chance to take a half-day class with Elizabeth Prose.
And it was totally worth it. I love YouTube videos as much as anyone, but I still learn best from a teacher who is right there. Elizabeth did a great job, and I was off and running right away. As you can see, we learned to knit in the round, which I love.

She had us start a cowl, and mine was coming along quite well. But then, this morning, I made a mistake and didn't notice for a few rows. It was the kind of mistake that cannot be ignored. Elizabeth had warned us to watch our knitting because it's not easy to fix Brioche mistakes. I decided to frog mine and start again with softer yarn. For practice, I had used Encore, which is a great workhorse yarn. But, I'm very fussy about wool that touches my neck, so I'm going to have to pick up something extra soft. The amazing thing is that I don't have two good contrasting colors in my stash!

I'm linking up with Nicole at Frontier Dreams.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Friendly Knitters, Great Classes, Amazing Yarn: What's Not To Like?

The highlight of the year for the Madison Knitters Guild is the annual Knit-In and this is THE weekend. Our guild has about 500 members so it's a huge event. This year, we had to move to a large convention space, where the lighting is not so great for photos:
But the event itself is awesome, with a great classes and lots of tempting vendors -- like Annie Modesitt, shown at the left here with her business partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi. No doubt you've heard of  Annie as a designer, and now she's dyeing yarn in Minnesota's Twin Cities. Can you see all those yummy skeins? 

The vendors are always fun to talk to. Annie and her family have moved around the country and weathered a number of crises; she is one strong lady! We got into a discussion about the politics in our states, and she gave me a "Wisconsin teachers" discount when I bought a few things, including this:
(If you don't follow U.S. politics, our governor in Wisconsin has cut pay and benefits for many government employees, especially teachers; Minnesota's governor has maintained a strong public sector.) I can't wait to make this cowl, although I am not allowing myself to cast on until I get a few things off the needles!

You can learn more about Annie and her business here.

I took a great class yesterday, but that's another post. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Who Is This?

Recognize this lady?
You probably knew before I asked that this is a photo of Elizabeth Zimmerman, the doyen of modern American knitting. She is on my mind because I just found out that I'll be going to Knitting Camp this summer.

Even though the famous knitting camp (now run by Zimmerman's daughter, Meg Swansen) is less than two hours away from Madison, I never considered attending before this year because I'm just not that good of a knitter. It would be embarrassing, I was sure, because everyone else would be a master knitter and I would be revealed as a knitting fraud.

But the new knitting friends I met at last month's Sun Valley retreat talked me into it. They have all attended before and they said that the camp really is for everyone. They talked about how much fun it is, and by the end of that retreat, I was sold.

Here I've grown up in the shadow of EZ and never really thought about how cool that is. Now, though, I'm getting excited. I guess I need to actually read my copy of Knitting Without Tears before camp starts on July 2!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Life Without Internet

First, there is a reason for my week-long silence. Every winter Keith goes skiing at Jackson Hole for a week, and every year something goes wrong around the house. This year, our wifi went out. Yes, I was a pioneer girl for a while there. Seriously, it is shocking to realize how dependent I am on the Internet. I couldn't access a recipe I have bookmarked, couldn't check e-mail, couldn't pay bills on line -- and, most seriously of all, couldn't read blogs!

I actually fixed it after five days, but then my brother and his family arrived for a visit from Washington, D.C., and I was busy with them. So, it's been a week away.

I am mostly knitting on My Favourite Things cowl. It is one of those projects you don't want to put down because it is so much fun to see how the next row will look.
It's coming along quickly, which makes me wonder why I knit so much with fingering weight!

This weekend, though, I knit quite a bit on the Jet Set Cowl this weekend, as it is more portable and allows me to pay attention to conversation. It is hard for me to have my brothers so far away, so I try to enjoy the time we do have together.

What's on your needles? Don't forget to check in with Nicole to Keep Calm & Craft On.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When Knitting and Math Collide

A few days ago I picked up a project (one of many) that had been languishing in its project bag.
It's the Jet Set Cowl, and this photo doesn't do it justice. (I'm blaming that on weak winter light.) It's a simple pattern that makes a lovely textured cowl, which you can see better in this photo:
It turned out to be the perfect project for the Madison Knitting Guild last night. Our presenter was Carolyn Yackel, who is an avid knitter and math professor at Mercer University. She is adorable and very funny, qualities that are very useful when you're trying to engage a group of non-math majors in the intricate relationship between math and knitting.

I'd say I understood about half her talk. Once she got into hyperbolic geometry, I was enjoying her personality enough to carry me through the hard parts. She has co-edited two books about knitting and math, both available on Amazon. If you love math, you have to check out her work.

You might also want to check out Keep Calm and Craft On with Nicole.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Knitting and Reading

 It has been a relatively calm week at school, so I was able to get some knitting and reading done in the evenings -- as opposed to passing out on the couch.

I'm making decent progresson the Vine and Leaf Beret. I think this is the fourth one I've made and I'm not tired of the pattern yet.

However, I don't think I'm going to have enough yarn to finish it! I forgot to check yardage when I bought the yarn -- should have picked up two skeins. Luckily it's a local dyer, so I'm confident I'll be able to get my hands on a second skein with a reasonably close color. At any rate, I've decided not to worry about it, which is not my usual mode!

I just finished A Wilderness of Errors. Although it was named one of the top books of 2014, I don't recommend it unless you want to spend a lot of time reading transcripts from various trials and interviews.

The book takes an incredibly detailed look into the conviction of Jeffrey MacDonald, who allegedly murdered his wife and two children in 1970. He has always claimed that some hippies broke into the house and they committed the murders. If you are in your 40s or 50s, you may remember the case as it was made into a TV movie and best-selling book.

I admire author (and film-maker) Errol Morris's determination to explore every nook and cranny of the case and I agree with his conclusion -- that there was never enough evidence to convict MacDonald. Still, it was more detail than I can take, and I did do quite a bit of skimming.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Twenty- Seven Inches and Counting

I am still working away at the My Favourite Things cowl:

I was looking over my projects on Ravelry and realized that almost everything I have going is fingering-weight. No wonder I love this project; knitting in worsted-weight goes so quickly! The pattern says to knit about 60 inches, so I'm almost halfway done.

I am especially happy with the coffee cups because I designed that motif myself using nothing but a pencil and graph paper. That's the good news. The bad news? There's a mistake in the knitting. Can you see it? Let me know. I may have to do some fixing.

Don't forget to join up with Nicole as part of Keep Calm Craft On today.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How Did I Live Without It?

My ball winder arrived in the mail this week, and I finally got a chance to try it out. As you can see, it works like a charm! I can't believe how much faster it is than winding balls by hand. Every knitter should have a swift and ball winder. I've come to believe they are as necessary as vegetables!

Now that it is Sunday night, I am finally feeling rested -- just in time to dive into another week of work. I had planned a busy day for today, but a snow storm saved me from myself and I had a day of cleaning and organizing, which is really what I needed.

On Saturday, I went to a half-day workshop sponsored by my school district on mindfulness, and it was amazing -- except for the parts where it took all my strength not to fall asleep.

I had the same problem last night at a birthday party for Bobby Burns -- Robert Burns, that is, the poet. Some friends who lived in Scotland for a while throw an annual party, complete with Scottish fare. I have no idea if the man was a decent poet because the "English" he wrote in is gibberish to my uneducated ear. But we always finish up by singing Auld Lang Syne, which is fun even though I have no idea what it means.

I hope that we all have a productive, but not exhausting, week.