Thursday, March 29, 2018

I Guess This Is OK

 I have a long list of things I was going to accomplish over spring break. Very little of it is checked off. Part of the reason is that I'm still experiencing side effects from my treatment. But I also think I'm suffering from plain old work burn out.

I've been nibbling away at projects, like this Toboggan Run hat:
 It's part of my stash-busting efforts. All I know about the yarn is that it's been in my stash for a long time, it's worsted, and it's very soft. It might be Dream in Color, but that's just a guess.

I've taken some nice walks to a coffee shop, where I've drawn my latte, a habit of Liz Steel. Steel is a well-known Urban Sketcher, and I just finished her online watercolor class, which I loved. It gave me the confidence to start using watercolor all the time.
 One of our last assignments in the watercolor class was to paint cupcakes. This was a fun one!
Somehow I resisted eating any of the cupcakes, though I did gobble down the macaroons!

Passover starts tomorrow night, and I promised to bring all sorts of food. Then my oven died yesterday. I guess I'll have to invite myself to someone's kitchen later today to finish my contributions!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Love Vacation; Miss the Kids

I can't lie: I am totally ready for Spring Break, even though my main activity is going to be decluttering my house. Certainly there will be time for things like this Barley Light hat in unidentified stash yarn:
I do miss our students, though. I have worked with some amazing young people over the years. As a special ed teacher, I am limited by law in what I can say about our students. But today I can share with you one of the most joyful humans I have ever encountered:
I was Stephon's case manager when he was in 8th grade, and it was a pleasure. Stephon is just a happy person. He is also crazy about dragons. Back in 8th grade, he drew them constantly. The best way to get him to do schoolwork was to promise drawing time when the work was complete. When he moved into high school, he started building dragons out of pipe cleaners and clay. And now he has a one-man show at our school art gallery.
I can share this with you because Stephon went public with his art and his special status in a local newspaper. You can read more about him here.
It is no secret that this is a challenging time to be a teacher; however, it is truly and honor to work with teen-agers, to get to know them, and (I hope!) help them a little bit along the way.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On Socks

What is it about socks that grabs so many knitters? After all, as my husband never gets tired of pointing out: "You can buy three pairs for $9.99 at Farm and Fleet." And yet, many of us would rather pay $20 or more for yarn and then devote dozens of hours to produce a single pair.
A pair of plan vanilla socks pops with KnitCircus yarn.
I know what got me started: a skein of Opal sock yarn with specks of bright colors against a background of white. It became my first pair of socks (which I think my mother still wears) or, more accurately, my first pair of fingering-weight socks. Before taking on fingering-weight and size 1 needles, I practiced by knitting a handful of pairs in worsted weight -- a method I highly recommend.
These are Keith's Hanukkah socks. He rarely wears them because they are "too pretty" to wear, he says.
Once I knit up that Opal yarn, I was never again without at least one pair of socks on the needles. I swear I could knit a pair of plain stockinette socks in my sleep. They've become my go-to project for meetings and other settings that require simple knitting.
My Winter Rose socks in Great Lakes Tweed yarn.
But my favorite pairs tend to incorporate lace, and one of the best lace socks I've knit are these orange ones, Winter Rose by Helen Stewart. This pattern is downright meditative. I know I'll knit these again.
I am quite rigid about how I knit socks, though I'd like to branch out. At this point, I only knit cuff-down and I always use a heel flap/gusset construction. And I like DPNs. This summer I really want to learn toe-up on one long circular needle.
These are my current "meetings" socks. I bought the yarn on clearance, not realizing that it would knit up so well. They are Hermoine's Everyday Socks, which is beginning to be my plain vanilla. I just love the texture of this pattern.
The only bad thing I can say about sock knitting is that it tends to lead to sock-yarn stash explosion. It's so easy to buy "just one skein." It's amazing how fast those skeins accumulate. I suspect they multiply in the dark of a Rubbermaid bin because there is no way that I bought that much sock yarn.

I have quite a few pairs in my sock drawer, and I love giving socks as gifts. But at the rate I'm knitting them, I may need to make more friends to expand my sock-giving!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Comfort Knitting

I am now in the final two weeks of my treatment, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! In the meantime, though, I am still fatigued. After work, about all I can do is knit and listen to All Things Considered. I've finished my first Kindness Shawl in record time. Never before have I knit an entire shawl in less than two weeks.
Clearly, it needs to be blocked! I find shawls that are wide and shallow easiest to wear, so I'll be working on manipulating the shape when I block it. It is KnitCircus yarn, a merino and silk blend that feels wonderful around the neck.
Knitting this shawl was so relaxing that I started a second one as soon as I finished the first.
This shawl is in Ogle Coloration Yarn. She's a Wisconsin dyer, but you can also find her on Etsy. I'm enjoying the second time as much as the first!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Appreciations and Connections

Hello knitting/blogging friends! 

I know that I don't tell you often enough how much I value our friendships. I never liked Facebook and I have lots of worries about all the social media platforms -- but knitting blogs are nothing but joy and fellowship. Truly, hearing about your ups and downs, following your knitting and families, and having your support has added so much joy and comfort to my life.
Here is the Kindness Shawl in process. It is a KnitCircus pattern knit in KnitCircus yarn!
In that spirit, I want to share a few connections I've been thinking of lately. I love Kat's blog. She introduces me to so many patterns that I would not have found on my own. Just last week, she pointed my attention to The Cooler Side of Warm Cowl in this post. I followed the link and was struck by the fact that the designer sounded familiar.  A few clicks later, I discovered the designer owns the yarn store I visited in Montreal. These little connections make me happy!

I would never have learned about Knitvent were it not for Deb at A World of Imagination.

Andi at My Sister's Knitter directed me to Knitting Ventures, where I learned that the author Chloe Benjamin is a knitter. I had no idea! And she lives here in Madison. She is doing some kind of collaboration with Quince & Co. in conjunction with her new book, The Immortalists. If you can figure out the nature of this collaboration, let me know! 

Sometimes, though, I have mixed feelings about all the inspiration I get from you. Over at Lovely Yarn Escapes I learned about the Color Shifting Shawl, made with KnitPicks Hawthorne. Here I am, trying to knit from my stash, and then this lovely and affordable project is dangled in front of me. Will I give in???
One more stash hat almost done!
On the other hand, Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise is helping me stash bust. She introduced me to the Kindness Shawl. How did I miss this? It's designed by Madison's own Jaala Spiro at KnitCircus! As soon as I read her post, I downloaded the pattern and found some KnitCircus yarn in my stash.

Kathy at Compassionknit (don't you just love that name?) is also helping me knit down the stash. Her Project Peace Shawl is so lovely that I think I'll just have to knit one myself!

I could go on and on, so don't think I don't value you if I haven't mentioned you in this post! As a former journalist, I can't let any one post get too long. So, thanks to all of you for being there to cheer, sympathize, and share. You make my life richer.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Quick Knit

My thoughts are with those of you in the Northeast who are dealing with another major snow storm. I hope you have heat, someone with strong arms (or a snowblower) to shovel, and lots of knitting.

Here in Madison, we have not had even one snow day this year, though I did enjoy our ice day. It's a long stretch from winter break to spring break.
I have made quite a bit of progress this week on my Underscore Cowl from Making magazine. This would make a great last-minute gift as it knits up quickly and is quite lovely.

I work on my appliqued jeans a little at a time because it's awkward reaching into pants legs. I've decided that my birds are going to talk.
As it's Thursday evening, I'm looking forward to a weekend of sketching and painting. 

And decluttering. I really need to get serious about this. I got The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up from the library. The first 20% of the book is sort of a sales job about how great her method is. I'm hoping to get into the how-to part of the book soon. I certainly need both advice and inspiration!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

On Magazines

Where did this past week go? Work, mostly. I have three weeks left in my treatment, which continues to make me tired -- and that interferes with most fun things I do, like keeping up with all of you!

Magazines are one of my vices. I love pouring over an art or craft magazine with a cup of tea. But I am trying to cut back, both to save money and reduce clutter. I have a hard time getting rid of these magazines; they are just so beautiful and inspiring. However, at this point, I am drowning in inspiration!
I'm also trying to actually use them, thus I am going to knit this cowl from Issue 4 of Making magazine. This is a gorgeous knitting and craft magazine available only by subscription.  

My friend Tsela saw a pair of appliqued jeans on line and emailed me the link, wondering if we could make our own. Of course we can! Here's part of my mine:
And finally, a glimpse of kitty fun. Kola is about a year old now, just about done with kittenhood. She is still very playful and loves to attack this kitty carrot toy.
Now I'm off to catch up with you!