Sunday, July 31, 2016

Back to Crafting

Things on the knitting front have been quiet. I didn't finish my 1st travel sock until I got home from California.
I like the way it is turning out, but it is kind of a tedious knit. Because of all the color changes, I can't just read my knitting so I have to count much of the time. I know I'm going to love these socks, but I doubt I'll knit this pattern again.
I bought this skein from A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. It is a purplish skein of sock yarn that is part of their own line of yarn. It has cashmere in it so it is deliciously soft! It is going to be a Granola Sock, which will give me some much-needed practice with cables.

So, what have I been working on? It is an embroidered piece that is going to be part of a hanging quilt. I've committed to hanging it in a show and it MUST be delivered on Sept. 1.
To be in this show, a piece must feature Wisconsin native flora or fauna. As you can see from these sneak-peeks, I'm focusing on flora. Much easier!
This project is a stretch for me in so many ways. I've never embroidered a large piece of my own design before. And I haven't quilted in decades (and I wasn't ever that good at it).  Luckily, my MIL is an expert seamstress, so I can go to her with all the problems I'm sure to have!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

California Wrap-Up

Ten days in California sure did go fast. Joni had toe fusion surgery in June, so she was still in a walking cast -- and at times on a knee-scooter -- but she was recovering faster than expected. As a result, we were able to do quite a few little trips from Berkeley.
One day we went up to Sausalito. While it is a touristy place, the setting is beautiful and the shops were a lot of fun to poke around in.
Another day we drove into San Francisco to see a movie, Baba Joon, as part of the Jewish Film Festival. It was a great movie, and it was fun to walk around the Castro. I have to say that the Castro is a lot more family friendly than it was 20 years years ago.
After the movie, we walked toward the Mission District and totally by chance, we ran into ImaginKnit, a store jam-packed with great yarn and samples.
The owner keeps two dogs at the store, and I had to take a picture of this one because it's an Italian Grayhound, my vet-student son's favorite breed.
We wanted to people-watch, so we stopped at the Dolores Park Cafe, where I had a beet smoothie.  It tasted, well ... very healthy.
Thanks for a fabulous trip, Joni. I am so lucky to have you as a friend!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

At Least Two Reasons to Visit Oakland -- And One Involves Knitting

Oakland is becoming the hip place in the Bay Area, the beneficiary of the expense of living and doing business in San Francisco and Berkeley, so Joni and I have made a few trips there in the past week.

First we went to Brown Sugar Kitchen, a restaurant that specializes in southern-style food, for breakfast. Located in an industrial area, the building in so modest it would be easy to miss it - and that would be a shame. It's famous for its fried chicken and waffles, but we luxuriated in the grits. These folks have figured out how to make grits taste like heaven!

And then there is this store:

A Verb for Keeping Warm is truly unique. It features commercial fabric, dying supplies, and yarn -- and does a great job at all three. A Verb even produces its own very yummy yarn, much of which has cashmere! And it comes in amazing colors:
The store is decorated very simply, but every item is intriguing. I love both these sweaters:
And I have fallen in love with the idea of dying fabric! Who could resist this array?
And, yes, I bought a skein of souvenir sock yarn. Notice the emphasis on "souvenir." I'm on a year-long yarn diet -- with the exception of souvenir yarn. I knew I wouldn't be able to resist travel yarn, so I built in that safety valve. Other than that -- and we don't travel a lot -- NO new yarn until July 15, 2017.  I think it will feel good to make a dent in the stash.

Off to more adventures! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend, too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Yarn Along in the East Bay

Greetings from beautiful Berkeley. I'm visiting my friend Joni and we are having our usual wonderful time crafting, shopping, and eating.

While I am on a deadline for an embroidery project, I have devoted some time to a pair of socks that I am enjoying:

This is a highly modified version of Whiz Bang. I am knitting my usual cuff-down sock but incorporating the slip-stitch pattern from Whiz Bang. The yarn is Spun Right Round, and it very smooshy. The colors are just beautiful.
I have mixed feelings about Empire of the Summer Moon, which is a nonfiction book about how the United States defeated the Comanches. One of the stories is that of Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped by the Comanches as a young girl and later chose to stay. That story is fascinating. But there are a lot of battles, and I've never been a fan of military history.
On my Kindle, I'm reading the novel The Nest, about a dysfunctional family of adult children. There are a million books on this theme, but this one is especially good.
I'm joining up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Five on Friday: A First

I have a lot of little bits to share, so it seems like a good time to join up with Amy at Love Made My Home and try a Five on Friday post.

1. When my daughter visited in June, she graciously agreed to pose for some Finished Object photos for me.
Here she is modeling my Antarktis. I loved this pattern and I love the yarn I used, Eden Cottage. If you can get your hands on this stuff, knit an Antarktis.

2. To be fair, my son has also been around a lot. That happens when they need your car!
He is volunteering full-time with a veterinarian and loving every minute of it.

3. Naji took an instant liking to this very sheepy-smelling yarn I brought home from Knitting Camp.
Maybe he wishes he were a barn cat.

4. I've been taking photos of Wisconsin wildflowers for a big embroidery project I'm working on.
This is butterfly weed. How can anyone call this a weed? It sure looks like a flower to me!

5. Tomorrow I fly out to California to hang out with my best friend in Berkeley, so I squeezed in some coffee dates with friends this week.
The summer is going quickly, especially because I have been working. There is just so much paperwork in special ed these days. I'm hoping to start the year feeling organized!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

There's Nothing Like Cashmere

Don't you just love it when you stumble on a pattern you love and find that you have the perfect yarn for it in your stash? That's what happened with the Three Color Cashmere Cowl.
I saw a sample in a LYS and realized that I had the perfect gray and black yarn in my stash. They are Sun Valley Fibers yarns, and they do have cashmere in them. My neck and face are sensitive to wool, but the cashmere seems to solve that problem. The red is a MadTosh. It doesn't have cashmere, but there is only one section of it.

The Water Knife is like a lot of thrillers: The plot is better than the characterization. Set in a dystopic future Southwest, where water is in extreme shortage, the story follows three characters. The idea and setting are quite convincing. Not sure if I'll finish this.

Is it hot everywhere? We are having a hot week here in southern Wisconsin. My favorite weapon in these times -- we don't have AC -- is Starbuck's Instant Via Very Berry Hibiscus.

While I sip away, I'll be checking to see what everyone is up to at Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sketching Seminar in Chicago

It was a hectic weekend in Chicago. My friend Tsela and I spent all Saturday and Sunday at a sketching seminar in Chicago. Each seminar was 3 amazing hours amid the sun and noise and energy of downtown Chicago.
There were tons of talented sketchers there, some traveling from as far as California and Florida.

I learned a lot -- especially about how much I have yet to learn! I don't think that my sketches were my best, but that's because I took on some new challenges, like adding shade and shadow.
And simplifying complex scenes into sketches:

Some of the other sketchers were truly amazing. Look at these two versions of "the bean" sculpture:
They are so different but yet so evocative.
All in all, it was a very sweet weekend -- except for that downtown traffic! But I am proud of myself for managing the driving.

Friday, July 8, 2016

FO Friday: Harvest Sweater

It took four attempts, but I finally have a sweater that I knit that fits!

I finished my Harvest Sweater at Knitting Camp and even Meg Swansen approves:
She liked the way it fits across the back:
Yep, I'm pretty proud!
This Tin Can Knits design is a great pattern. Not only is it free, but it is designed to be a first sweater so it comes with clear, detailed instructions. Even I could follow them! The yarn is Cascade 220 in a heathered pink. It took five skeins, meaning that the sweater only cost me about $45.

(The first three sweaters are in landfills somewhere.)

Have a great weekend. I'm headed to Chicago for an Urban Sketching workshop.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Channeling Elizabeth

The best way I could think of to extend the magic of Knitting Camp was to knit an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern, so I chose The Katmandu Hat.
While I was at camp, I bought a skein of the Rangeley yarn that the pattern is written for. (You can buy it from Schoolhouse Press if you follow the link.) I should have chosen a lighter color because this is my second attempt. The charcoal color made it hard for me to see I was skipping a step in my first try.

The pattern is from this book, which was published post-humously and features garter-stitch patterns:
You start knitting at the bottom center of the back. If you look very closely at my photo, you can see that V beginning to emerge in my knitting.
Happily, I feel a bit of the magic of camp with every knit and purl. EZ was a knitting architect, and this pattern displays that talent. One of the great things about camp is that it builds your confidence. This pattern incorporates a slew of different i-cord methods, all of which are new to me. I don't think I'd be willing to try them if I had not been to camp.

I finished Peggy Guggenheim by Francine Prose, largely because it was short. As much as I love modern art, it was hard to stick with Peggy. She was a self-centered rich woman who neglected her children while she chased men and artists (who were sometimes one and the same). I will give her credit for having good taste in art at least.
Tonight I'll dive into The Forgotten Girls. It's an impulse buy from Target so I hope I didn't waste my money. I'm just in the mood for some suspense, and this novel is by Sarah Blaedel, who is one of Denmark's top mystery writers. I'll let you know if it's good or not.

I'm joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Knitting Camp Rocks

Look who I spent the last five days with:
Yes, that is Meg Swansen, daughter of Elizabeth Zimmerman and doyen of the knitting world. I know I am very lucky that her famous camp in Marshfield, Wis., is just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Madison. That makes it so much more affordable!

This is my second year at camp, and it just gets better every year. The staff is just amazing. Meg does the morning class; Amy Detjen and Heather Black are the workhorses -- they are there early and late, greasing the gears and answering endless questions.
Amy shows off her holiday leggings.
As you know, knitters are the nicest people on the planet.  Some of my favorite people from last year were back, and I made so many new friends, including indie Indianapolis dyer, Mandie Harrington. She sells her amazing yarn under the name of Sheepy Time Knits.
Here she's selling her yarn at the market. I sold my knitting-related earrings and paid for about 10% of the trip with my proceeds.

This year was especially fun because my dear friend Marsha went with me.  We are just so compatible and had a great time together. It feels weird that she's not here knitting with me now!

Yes, I bought yarn and fell in love with more EZ patterns, but that's for another post. In the meantime, let me leave you with some of the wit and wisdom of Meg Swansen:

"I'm helpless with written directions; the apple didn't fall far from the tree."
"If it's something you never  want to see again, give it to charity and someone will be happy to have it."
And my favorite:
"Cheating is not only permitted in knitting, it is encouraged."

Happy 4th to all in the U.S.