Friday, December 30, 2016

Five on Friday By Myself

Even though Amy of Five on Friday fame is taking a break, it just so happens that I have five things to share.
Even though our school district shortened our winter break by three days, I am still thoroughly enjoying every minute. One of the highlights has been skiing with my friend Lisa. Just gliding around a nearby golf course is pure bliss. Sadly, the snow isn't ski-able at the moment.
Of course, the best thing is a nice long visit from Rachel, shown here at a Hanukkah party with baby M. She has a lot of studying to do -- the downside of facing comprehensive exams in the spring -- but we've had some lovely times hanging out with my parents, working on a jigsaw puzzle, watching American Crime Story, and just talking.
I'm working on getting some of my knitting-themed jewelry up on my Etsy site. Setting up the listings is quite tedious, but I will get it done!
Kathy talked about comfy boots in a recent post, which inspired me to share this drawing. These boots are so comfy and cute that I own them in three colors!
And here I am, wishing you a very happy and healthy 2017 and reminding you to post a comment here to be in the drawing for the Think Summer Giveaway!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Let the Startitis Begin!

I finally finished my Robson scarf, though I haven't taken any FO photos yet. The important thing is that I'm working on something else: the Toboggan Run Hat by Jaala Spiro of Knit Circus. I'm making it in the same colorway as the sample: Birds of a Feather.
Gorgeous as it is, this pattern is probably not for everyone because it's miles and miles of seed stitch, which I know that some people cannot stand. I don't mind it and I love the look it. It is especially scrumptious in Jaala's worsted-weight yarn, which is as soft as it is beautiful.
I also (finally!) finished Middlemarch, which I thoroughly enjoyed. One reason I'd wanted to re-read it was so I could read a recent book, My Life in Middlemarch by New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead, a blend of commentary on the novel, George Eliot biographical information, and reflection by Mead. It's a bit slow-going at the start.

The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan turned up on a lot of Best Books of 2016 lists this month. It's about a fictional bombing in Dehli. The author follows the parents of two brother who died in the blast and the bomb-maker himself after the tragedy. It's not always easy to read, but it is very well-done.

I'm joining with Ginny for the year's last Yarn Along.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Think Summer Give-Away

I wouldn't want any of my blog friends to fall into the post-holiday blues, so I've decided to do a giveaway with summer in mind.

To me, summer means Door County, which is known for its cherries. When I saw this pink and green yarn, I knew what kind of give-away I wanted to do.
I've assembled some Door County treats and soap -- and who knows how many other little goodies may find their way into this package?
To be in the drawing, just leave a comment on this post. I'll hold it open until 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 (!), and then pick a winner.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Playing With Kathy and Al

Finally, I have enough time on a Monday to answer questions with Kathy.

  1. My best FO of 2016: My Elizabeth Zimmerman mittens.
  2. I'm sure my mom could remember something I've knit her.
  3. No yarn gifts, but that's OK. I have plenty!
  4. No cat gifts, either.
  5. Great tip? A reminder to use stitch markers more.
  6. How did I surprise myself this year? I changed jobs.
  7. A favorite book I read this year is Ghettocide by Jill Leovy
  8. The latest I've stayed up this year? Would that be with or without insomnia?
  9. I don't think I went to a play, show, or concert this year. Guess I need to get out more.
  10. My favorite recipe of this year is the enchilada recipe in the Oh She Glows Cookbook.  
This is fun. Thanks, Kathy.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Five on Friday

I've been wanting to get in on the Five on Friday fun, but it's so hard when I'm working. Today, however, I'm enjoying the second day of winter break, so here I am!
1. Last night, we celebrated Hanukkah early. It was the only night that my son is going to be around. Today he's flying to Israel for a few weeks. My parents came over to celebrate with Keith, myself, and my two kids. Nagi is the the only family member who didn't object to be photographed. He really enjoys playing dreidel!
2. Of course, there were presents. Among other things, my mom was kind enough to indulge my love of Gudrun Sjoden with a gift certificate, which came in this gorgeous card.
3. I had to run some errands today, so I stopped in to pet some yarn at Knit Circus and chat with owner and talented dyer, Jaala Spiro. I added this gorgeous cowl to my queue: the Contravene Cowl.  I feel a case of startitis coming on.
4. I've started a new embroidery project of my own design.

5. And while my son is off, my daughter is visiting from Miami, so I'm looking forward to some quality time with her.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's Five on Friday's at Love Made My Home.

Happy holidays to all of you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Long Haul

I'm have nothing new to share this week. My Robson is coming along, but slowly. Winter break starts tomorrow so I hope to do some binge-watching with my daughter, so I should be able to finish it up painlessly.
The fabric that Sequence Knitting makes is really unusual and pretty. I finally got a close-up that gives you an idea:
I also expect to finish Middlemarch before the next Yarn Along. I'm on page 680 out of 800. This is truly an amazing book -- and still relevant, about 150 years later. It's a very socially conscious novel that examines wealth inequality, personal debt, and class issues. But that makes it sound very academic. The characters are complex and fascinating, and the plot keeps you turning the pages.

I'm linking up with Ginny to Yarn Along.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

One Finished, One Will Never Be

About a year ago, my daughter asked me to make a pencil case for her. It just so happens that I have long wanted to learn to put in zippers. It took a about a year to figure it out. I thoughtlessly gave her the first one that was successful over Thanksgiving -- before I took a photo of it!  But here is pencil case No. 2:
I'm quite happy with it. It's lined and everything!
I see many pencil cases and notions cases in my future.
On the other hand, my Project Peace Cowl is not so peaceful. I thought I had joined it carefully -- as in without twisting it. I was wrong. Besides, I realized that this is not the right color. I really like the cowls, like the original, that are made in pale colors.  Maybe I'll make one next year.

Today was a great day: I got to cross country ski! This is the only exercise that I truly love. I could lose a ton of weight easily if we could have a snowy winter -- with reasonable temperatures. When we headed out to ski at midday, the temp was 10 degrees with wind chill, which is about as cold as I find it comfortable to ski. Even though I am terribly out of shape, it was awesome!

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Quick Fix

By "fix" I mean as in chocolate or caffeine. I'm in the middle of a few very long, slow projects knit with fingering weight yarn and wanted to finish something! So I took a page out of Meredith's book and started an Interrupted Cowl with Universal Yarns Bamboo Bloom yarn.

This a great knit -- perfect for TV watching. The green is a bit neony for my taste, but overall I like the yarn.

Still reading and loving Middlemarch by George Eliot. On 500 of 800 pages.

We are experiencing a very cold cold-snap in the Upper Midwest. Right now, a little after noon, the temperature is 14 -- but it feels like 2 with the wind chill. Tomorrow is going to be even colder. There is a silver lining: I am wearing lots of hand-knit items at work and home.

Five and half school days until winter break!

I'll be joining with Ginny today to Yarn Along.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Not Quite a Snow Storm

We were supposed to get 9 or more inches of snow this weekend, but we'll have to settle for a mere four to five. But, it is pretty
The sky has been gray, but I was cheered by this fabulous package of homemade goodies from Araignee of Araignee's Tangled Web.
From top left: First there is heavenly scented Sleigh Ride Mike Bath. That incredibly cute box with the knitting sheep holds three of her amazing soaps: Cranberry Fig, Hot Cocoa, and Sleigh Ride. The box is tied up with two stitch markers. The tin holds Fresh Snow Lotion Bar. And that artistic bar of soap is Glycerin Facial Soap.
Thank you SO much, Araignee! I am so touched by these beautiful -- and artfully packaged -- gifts. You could sell this stuff! As good as it looks online, it is even better when you can smell and touch it. And your timing is amazing. Just last weekend, a friend clued me in on all the horrible ingredients in beauty products -- like parabens and sulfates -- so I am excited to have some safe products right here at my fingertips!

Expecting to be snowed in, I figured I'd take care of addressing cards and wrapping presents.

Though, I think Naji enjoyed it more than I did.

Fortunately it didn't start snowing until Saturday afternoon, so my drawing group was able to meet as planned in the morning. A few off us went to the student union, where there was -- no surprise -- a whole lot of studying going on:
This coming week will be one for handknits with highs as low as 9 degrees.

Friday, December 9, 2016

My Girls

I have been devoting most of my craft time to the project I call "My Girls." I know, it's not a very interesting name, so I'm waiting for something brilliant to come to me. (Feel free to suggest something better than My Girls.)
So, here is girl No. 1. Her eye doesn't look weird in real life; it's just the wrinkle in the fabric. She is destined to be appliqued onto a quilt.
She evolved from some doodles in my sketchbook. I have to say, it is more fun embroidering something that I designed than someone else's designs -- even though there are gorgeous designs out there.
Girl No. 2 is even more of an experiment. I'm going to try making her into a pillow doll.
Did you notice what she is carrying?
Neither girl is complete yet. But they are getting close.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


This week, "making" fits both my knitting an my reading.

I am working a few rows a day on my Robson scarf. I like it better as it grows. And I love anything in raspberry pink! It would be growing faster if I weren't also working daily on the Project Peace cowl. But, hey, what's the rush? There's a lot of winter left!
I was able to get my hands on the latest issue of Making magazine. Why is this so hard to get? It's such a lovely publication. There is a really interesting article in this issue about homesteading. It's one of those things that I love to read about but know that I don't have the dedication to do.

Don't forget to check in with Ginny for Yarn Along today. And look at her previous post, too. She has some amazing gift ideas for children and adults a like!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Bit Like Winter

This was the scene I had to turn my back on yesterday afternoon. Though I don't think you can tell from the photo, snow was falling steadily. The perfect Sunday afternoon to stay home and curl up with a book or some knitting.
But no. I had committed to a craft fair, so I headed on inside to a windowless room to try to sell this:
And this:
I did sell two things -- but one was to my Mom, so I'm not sure that counts. (I do give her plenty of homemade gifts, but she bought a gift for someone else. Just saying.)
I did finish up a sock -- the first in a pair. And lots of people I know stopped by, so it wasn't a terrible afternoon. Still, I'm a bit sad about missing staying home on a snowy afternoon.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Seeking Peace

I rarely join in Knit-A-Longs. Too much pressure! As a special ed teacher, I already have more deadlines in my life than I can comfortably meet. So, you know that a KAL has to be extra special to draw me in.

A couple days ago, I was reading through my email and something in a message from Knit Circus (a yarn company based here in Madison) caught my eye: The Project Peace KAL. The brainchild of Christina Campell, this project combines knitting a cowl with daily reflections aimed at bringing peace to ourselves and the world around us by extension.
I had not heard of Christina, who blogs at The Healthy Knitter, but I already love her design and this project. You can check out the pattern here on Ravelry. I shopped my stash and found the skein of Pumpkin Pie sock yarn that you see here. It was gift from my dear friend in California, Joni, so it's extra special.

It's not too late to join. Really. You can start with the Dec. 1 post right here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On the Needles and the Nightstand

Well, we have come to that time of year when I have to rely on some flash photos, so excuse the less-than-attractive photo ...

I have a feeling that I could use this photo every week for a while:
I have started on my second Robson. It is quite different from the first, but I like it. These scarves take two full skeins of sock yarns, so they are not exactly quick knits -- but the final product is worth it!

I'm working my way through the classic Victorian novel Middlemarch by George Eliot. It took me a bit of effort to get into it, but I am thoroughly enjoying it now.

I'll be joining up with Ginny to Yarn Along.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thankgiving in a Few Photos

I'm sure my Thanksgiving was much like yours.

Amazing food. I dare anyone to top my brother Mike's cherry pie.

Family from afar. Here are Robbie, Rebecca, Jennifer, and Rachel.
And we can't forget Theo. (My son, however, does not allow photos, so he's missing!)
We stayed with Mike and his wife, Mary, in Washington, D.C., and I am just so impressed by her jewelry.
Isn't it adorable? If you find it irresistible, you can buy it from her Etsy store, The Crafty Lawyer.
All too quickly it's over, isn't it?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Crafty Weekend

It was a good weekend to putter around the house because winter temperatures arrived abruptly. On Thursday, the highs were in the 70's; but on Friday, the high was about 35 degrees. Not enough time to acclimate!

I'm almost done with my Robson scarf, from the Sequence Knitting book. This picture doesn't do it justice. The colors are much more subtle than they look here. I had some issues with dropped stitches, as you can see from the little stitch holder at the left. Once I get everything woven in, it is going to be an awesome scarf.
I found some time to work on embroidery:
I did get out a few times. Friday night we had fish fry for my husband's birthday with my parents. Saturday night, some friends who just visited Italy had an Italian-themed party, complete with a slide show and an Italian trivia game. And I met up with my drawing group at a local art museum:
In between, I tried to get organized for our Thanksgiving travels. We're celebrating in Washington, D.C, with my parents and brothers. Both my kids will be there, so I'm pretty excited. Plus, only two work days this week!

Hope your weekend was what you wanted!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Life Does Go On

Last night my art group met, and we talked about how focusing on our art has helped us get through this dark time. Some of us are avoiding the news, but I can't take my eyes off the continuing wreck. Even for me, creating keeps my blood pressure down.

I was struggling with what to do for the next fiber-art exhibit. Ideas are usually not a problem for me, but this was different. I went back to my sketchbook and found this:
Then I enlarged it and now it looks like this:
Eventually it will be the focal point of a quilt.

I've also been struggling to find a novel that I wanted finish. In desperation I decided to reread the greatest novel written in English:
 I'm not sure I'll finish it, considering that it's more than 700 pages. But I'm about 100 pages into it right now, and it is holding up really well. Written in 1874, Middlemarch is the story of an idealistic young woman who wants to make the world a better place -- an aspiration that was very difficult for a woman in the 1820s, when the story is set. It is a classic Victorian novel -- somewhat Dickensian -- with lots of local color and fascinating characters.

Joining up with Ginny for Yarn Along

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Still In Shock

I didn't think this could happen. I didn't think there were so many Americans who would vote for a man who denigrates people of color, LGBT people, disabled people, women, and Jews. I am lucky to teach in a very diverse high school, and the passion of the students about this situation was heartening.

All students wanted to do yesterday was process the election results. They were insightful and respectful.  They cried. They reached out to one another. They demonstrated unity across racial and gender and economic divides. They gave me hope.

I know people want change. I want change, too. But change can be good or bad.

Another ray of positivity: Secretary Clinton won the popular vote. He is only president because of a dated and labyrinthine system. A majority of Americans voted against bigotry. Let us continue to move in that direction.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Loving Fall -- Especially This One

Walking home from school Friday afternoon, I had to stop and take this rather silly picture:

It was another warm day. The leaves crunched under my feet, but not loudly enough to drown out the sounds of the UW-Madison Marching Band practicing.  I gave myself a break from paperwork for the last part of the week and spent all my time working with students -- which is the good part of my job. It was one of those golden afternoons where everything felt right.

Like the leggings? They are really fun an comfortable. A few months ago I discovered Gudrun Sjoden, a Swedish designer, and I am crazy about her clothes. I bought a few with my birthday money and I'm pretty sure that's were some holiday gift money will go, too. These were part of the summer collection.

I've been doing some gift knitting. I wish I could remember and thank the blogger who pointed me to this pattern:

This is the Darn Knit Kinetic Cowl by Carly Stipe, knit up here in Berroco Brio. This is a great, fast knit. It just flew off my needles. And I love the result. It is very light and comfortable to wear. I might have to do one for myself.

My brother is visiting from Washington, D.C., this weekend, so life is good.  Hope yours is, too!