Friday, August 28, 2015

FO Friday

It has been a LONG time since I had one of these. I've been poking along on a number of larger projects, but here, for your finished-object perusal, is the Simple Pleasures Hat:
While the pattern is free here, the yarn was not. I made this hat for a friend's mom, who is going through both chemo and radiation cancer treatments. Of course it needs to be soft and comfortable and lightweight, so I went all out for the yarns: Jade Sapphires' Cashmere-Silk and Rowan's Kid Silk Haze. The color is actually a pale peach. (My house is blue, not the beige that shows up in this photo!)

I should mention that I just copied the store sample at The Knitting Tree.
After I finished the hat, I looked up the pattern on Ravelry, and I was astounded by the wide variety of yarns that people have used for this hat. It has to be one of the most versatile patterns ever!

It certainly makes an amazing chemo cap -- just saying, in case you know someone who needs one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015



That's the sound of my head hitting the wall of reality. I've been back to work for two full days of trainings and meetings, and I'm so missing the pace of summer -- and the time for knitting and other crafts, family, and friends. I am excited about the 8th-grade team this year. As a special ed teacher, my work life depends a lot on the teachers I'm teamed with.

I've been nibbling away at my Elizabeth Zimmerman shawl and mitten. Since I showed the mitten last post, I thought I'd mix it up and show the shawl. I love the unspun Islandic yarn, partly because it is simply different.

I finished All the Light We Cannot See, and I didn't love it. I'm not even sure I liked it. I realize this puts me in a tiny minority. The writing is breath-taking, but the characters didn't feel real to me and the plot held few surprises.
The Liar's Wife also is beautifully written. I enjoyed the first novella, which shares a name with the title. Gordon writes with such simplicity and authority. Her characters feel very real. 

I'm not sure how far I'll go with On the Run, which is written by a UW-Madison professor who recounts her experiences living in a crime-ridden area in Philidelphia. As a teacher of inner-city children, I am always interested in learning more about the various communities they come from. However, serious questions about the veracity of this book have been raised. I haven't decided yet if I want to read a book that might not be as true as it claims to be.

I'm joining up with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Knit Along.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Here's Where It Gets Hard

I have made enough progress on my Spruce Tree Norwegian Mittens that it's time to employ EZ's "mitten trick." I am nervous about this. I thought about using the thumb gusset method that I'm comfortable with, but I couldn't figure out how to mesh that with the pattern. So here I am:

I'm determined to do it today, before my first full week of work.

Am I the only one who finds thumbs challenging? The hardest part for me is the very last piece, where you pick up stitches in one form or another to knit the thumb. I am especially nervous about doing it on this new type (to me) of thumb.

Speaking of the end of summer vacation, The New York Times had an interesting column about vacations last week. Studies find that people get the most pleasure out of planning a trip, but that trips that have jam-packed itineraries do not give people happiness.
The shoreline at Ephraim, Wis., in Door County.
However, people do feel happy after slow-paced, relaxing trips. I have to say that I do not like feeling rushed ever, especially on vacation! No wonder Keith and I love our trips to Door County, where we just do what we feel like doing.

You can read the whole column here.

I hope you have have whatever kind of weekend you like best!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

EZ Doesn't Necessarily Mean Easy

I realize that I have not blogged yet about this project: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Spruce Tree Norwegian Mittens. Campers at Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp this summer received this pattern as part of our handouts.  There was also a sample, knit by EZ herself (!), and that's what hooked me.
I'm using the yarn that Meg recommends, Briggs and Little Regal, which I picked up at Knitting Camp in July. She used green and white; I opted for blue and white to give it my own spin. The cuff was easy, but the decreases and increases for the wrist and thumb, respectively, require great concentration. I have to admit that I am loving knitting something that links back to Camp.

I knew I had to get these started before school started and my brain was taxed by 5 to 6 hours a day of 8th-graders! Even though there are two weeks before the students showed up, I have meetings and/or trainings every day. I have an amazing team of teachers this year, so I'm looking forward to getting rolling.

Loved Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. If you have any beach time left, I think this would be a great choice. Tried to start this last night, but I nodded off. I haven't read Mary Gordon for a long time, and something about a book of novellas appeals to me at the beginning of the school year.
My daughter flew back to Miami yesterday. Warning: She was in line for security at O'Hare for 50 minutes! The house is too quiet and feels empty. She is in the second year of her graduate program in sociology at the University of Miami. I'm not sure how I raised such an amazing woman!

I am joining with Keep Calm Craft On and Yarn Along.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Knitting Something Other Than Socks

My brother and his family left to return to Virginia today, and my daughter goes back to Florida Tuesday morning. All this wonderful family time has interfered with my blog reading and commenting, but I promise to catch up this week!

There has been a long run of sock knitting, but now that I am home and family activity is slowing down, I've added a few rows to my Pelerine shawl. I can't have the the shawl laying across my lap because it has been HOT here. I'm talking heat indexes between 95 and 100 degrees F. The unspun Icelandic is light, but, boy, is it ever warm!
Saying good-bye to my brother, his fiance, and their two sons this morning was hard. As some of you know, both my brothers live on the East Coast, and I miss them so much! We had a great week with hiking, swimming, games, art gallerying, and lots of food and laughter.

I'm cushioning the blow by having my parents and children over for Pastrami on Rye and a Jewish movie this evening. The movie is "Hava Nagila: The Movie." It streams on Netflix. It's a short funny but also informative film. Kitchy, I think, best describes it. It is actually part of American culture so I think it would appeal to people who don't identify as Jewish.

Years ago, I was a scrapbooker and one advantage to that is that I documented every family gathering. Without the goal of filling scrapbooks, I've become a lazy photographer. We were so busy this week that I only have one photo, which I snapped at the Madison Children's Museum:
It's a good photo of my daughter, but I have to share that my nephew is on the spectrum and sometimes we get unnatural smiles. Still, I'm happy to see his face in any form!

Tomorrow, I have a full day of crisis training for work. Summer is just about over for this teacher!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

More Stitching and Reading

Hello, fellow crafters and readers! I look forward to Tuesdays and Wednesday to see what my stitching pals are up to!

I've been making books with coptic binding -- when I have time. My brother Eric is here for the week with his family and my daughter is home, so there is lots of family fun going on, especially lots of eating! Really, you get two Jewish mothers cooking, and the amount of food provided is overwhelming.

Back to crafting, here are my lastest creations.
There is just so much lovely paper out there. I feel like I could make an endless number of these. Stitching the binding is rhythmic and relaxing, but preparing all the pieces is a lot of work that involves sharp cutting instruments.
I'm still reading the same books as last week:
And I'm still enjoying both. WTF is described as a cyber-thriller, which is accurate, but it's more than that. It is a novel with fully formed characters that asks compelling questions about our growing Internet connections. Sweater Quest, one woman's story of her attempt to knit an Alice Starmore sweater, continues to hold my interest. Written in a breezy, humorous tone, it has a lot of interesting information about knitting in general, as well as Starmore.

It is so nice to crawl into bed each night and have two good books to choose from! 

I'm joining Ginny for Yarn Along.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fiber on Washington Island

On our last full day in Door County, Keith and I took the ferry to Washington Island, where we had a delightful day biking and exploring the island. I did not expect a fibery day, but I got one!

We stopped at the Washington Island Farm Museum, where I found this beautiful Scandinavian spinning wheel:
I almost missed this, but Keith pointed out there was swifter right next to it:
We also biked to the Sievers School of Fiber Arts, which turns out to be a beautiful setting with a great store. I couldn't resist picking up this book by designer Jane Richmond:
I didn't really know much about the school, but I checked out their schedule, and they offer amazing classes in knitting, weaving, book-making, jewelry-making and more. I'm going to have to take a serious look at their 2016 class schedule, when  it comes on February 1, 2016.

There is an adorable coffee shop on the island, The Red Cup, which also sells local art and hand-dyed yarn. Can you blame me for picking up this? The label doesn't say very much, other than that it is dyed right there. I think it will make a great hat.
As we drove back home Friday morning, we stopped at our favorite art gallery, Edgewood Orchard Galleries, and I found a few sheep there. A small flock inhabits this painting:
And a handful of ceramic sheep graced the gardens outside the gallery
All in all, it was good trip!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bike, Eat, Knit, Read, Repeat

Despite starting with an epic storm, our week in Door County has turned out to be lovely, with biking, eating, reading, and crafting.

I finally finished the first Blueberry Waffle sock. These man-sized socks are taking forever. But, they will make a good gift. If I can finish the pair, that is.
I am very pleased with the books I chose for vacation reading:
Sweater Quest is about author Adrienne Martini's attempt to knit Alice Starmore's famous Tudor Rose sweater. I say "attempt" because I am only on Chapter 3 so I don't know if she succeeds. The first few chapters are fast and funny -- and interesting. It turnes out that Starmore is quick to file copyright lawsuits and there is lots of interesting stuff around that. The book was published in 2010, so I did a quick Google to see what is up with all the legal wrangling. All I can tell you is that Starmore has Google scared. Its entry on her barely mentions knitting. Hmm.  Would love to know the rest of that story.

A while back, I blogged about how much I loved The Circle by Dave Eggers. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is The Circle on steroids. WTF (can that be a coincidence? I think not) is about a technology company and a government spy that go off the rails in their use of digital information. The story is told through the viewpoints of four characters, some innocent victims and others part of the machinations. The writing glows, the plot is tangled, and the characters are engaging. A very good vacation read. (Disclaimer: I'm only about 1/3 of the way through the book.)

All that said, we are finding time for vacation activities, like daily bike rides on the beautiful back roads.
Visiting art galleries like Fine Line Designs, which has great garden art, like this mosaic fish. The art here is truly fine art. If I were rich, I'd shop here. Just wandering through it is pretty inspiring.
And you can't come to Door County without going to a fish boil. This is an old Scandinavian custom, which basically consists of boiling potatoes, onions, and fish in a big pot. At the last minute, the boil master pours a bit of kerosene on the top of the pot and lights it. For some reason, that finishes it off.
I love fish boils, both the tradition and the actual food. Considering that you have the option to drench your plate with melted butter, as I do, it's no wonder that the meal is so delicious. And, it's always finished off with this:
Door County is famous for its cherry crop, so cherry pie is a staple at fish boils.

For the record, this year with did the fish boil at The Old Post Office, and it was great. In the past I've been to the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek and The Viking Inn in Ellison Bay. All are excellent.

Have I convinced anyone to vacation in Door County yet?

We have one more full day here, and then it's time to head home.

I'm linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Importance of Electricity

Keith and I set out Sunday morning for Door County. It is the thumb of Wisconsin, if you look at the state as mitten shaped (as any knitter would). A peninsula bordered by Lake Michigan and Green Bay, it is popular with tourists.

We drove along the lake, heading north. Lake Michigan looks a lot like the ocean.
As we neared Door County, the skies darkened. Heavy rain pounded the car and became mixed with hail.
We stopped in Egg Harbor to do dome shopping, but everything was dark and closed. As we drove north, we saw no sign of electricity, so we were not surprised to find our little cabin lacked electricity. (Note: I took the photo after the electricity came back on!)
Turns out that the storm was historic, knocking out power to the whole peninsula and beyond. The power company had teams from other companies come in to help restore power.

Now, I can live without electricity. I am fine with pit toilets. But I do need some sort of bathroom facility. The buildings here all use well water. We learned that the toilets cannot flush without electricity to pump the water! So, we spent a day and a half planning our time around public restrooms. It was very exciting when the electricity came back on.

Now, the weather is beautiful and we are enjoying this lovely part of the world. We often come up here for the quiet, the bike riding, the art, and the restaurants.

A couple days before we left, I stumbled on a cross stitch pattern of Wilson's, a restaurant that has been in Ephraim forever. The timing seemed significant, so I assembled the needed colors and started it on our first evening here. It is going to take FOREVER to finish. It is very detailed and I have so many other projects.
I am squeezing in knitting, too. Keith drove all the way up here, so I made good progress on the second Knitcircus sock. These will definitely be ready to wear this fall.
I'll be checking in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.