Friday, June 29, 2018

And Yet Life Goes On

I am still reeling from the mass shooting at my former workplace, the Capital Gazette in Annapolis. Last night, I dreamed about a shooting happening at my school.

How did I manage to choose two professions that are low paid and attract mass murderers? Don't take career advice from me!

But life does indeed go on, and that is a good thing. It is 96 degrees here, with a heat index of 117! We actually ran our stand-alone air conditioner for a while. It works, but it is incredibly noisy!

I can walk in the mornings, but it's good weather for sitting under a fan and knitting. I pulled out these mother-daughter mittens that I started in 2007!
And I finished them! 

The pattern is from the book Kristin Knits by Kristin Nicholas. The yarn is her Julia yarn, which hasn't been made for years. That is a shame because it is a beautiful yarn and a pleasure to work with.
The lesson I have learned from this project is to never embroider mittens. It is really, really hard to start and end threads in a narrow tube shape!

Now they go into the gift box until an appopriate mother-daughter pair needs a gift.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another Tragedy: Not Caused by an Immigrant

In 1986 and '87, I lived in Annapolis with my first husband. He was the medical reporter for the Annapolis Capital, and I was the news editor for the Maryland Gazette. These were good years with great people. All of our friends left the papers years ago, but tonight my heart is heavy nonetheless.

Is President Trump paying attention? 

The Annapolis shooter is white -- as were the shooters at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas. etcetera. 

Can we please pay attention to the real problem: dissatisfied white men and guns?


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Loving Summer

Even though I went into school yesterday and worked for a full day, I am just loving summer. Just being able to get up and savor coffee and craft in the morning is a luxury that I treasure. I hate having to be at work before 8 a.m.  I'd love a job that didn't start until 9, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

We've had some spectacular sunny days. Last Saturday, I took advantage of one by going sketching twice. In the morning I sketched with some friends at a park near my house, where I worked on a tree. I need some lessons in foliage!
In the afternoon, another sketcher and I drove out to a county park to paint the ruins of an old farmhouse. You can judge for yourself how well I did.
And here is my rendering:
It was both fun and hard to capture the stones and the angles. My friend gave me some advise on doing foliage, and I think it helped.

Also, I realized that I put up an old photo of my Fullerton Cardigan. Here is a more recent one.
Almost done!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Good Friend and an Old Project

Thanks to the lovely Kathy B, there is a summer swap going on. My swapmate, Judy, really knows me. 

She sent a great skein of sock yarn in the cool colors that I love, and the perfect napkins for our Fourth of July cook-out. The card is quilled and just exquisite. I may just frame it!
And this little pewter  button is so cute -- and exactly the kind of thing I love to have at hand for mixed-media work! Thanks so much Judy. I'm working on your package!
I got quite a bit of knitting done last week on my Fullerton Cardigan.  As of this writing, both sleeves are done and I just need to knit the button band. This must be the fastest sweater out there.

I'm having quite a busy weekend, but that's another post!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Quick Trip and a New Skill

Keith and I had to make a quick trip to Chicago earlier this week so I could have my interview for Global Entry with U.S. Customs. I don't think I've mentioned this here yet, but I am traveling with my daughter this summer.
The Free Your Fade Shawl is perfect car knitting.
Early in the year, Rachel called me up, told me she was going to be a bridesmaid, and asked if I would be her date. Of course, I was thrilled to be invited and said, "Yes!" Then she told me that the wedding is in a small town outside of Lviv, Ukraine. So we are going to the Ukraine in August.

A couple months ago, I was browsing the stacks at our main library and came upon a book from the 1970's titled "Ukrainian Embroidery." 
I found a pattern that didn't seem too insanely time-consuming and decided a Ukrainian wall hanging would be the perfect wedding gift. Much of the traditional Ukrainian embroidery is complex, dense cross-stitch, but there is also a tradition of free-form flower embroidery.
I have a ways to go, but I think I can finish it by the end of July. Ideally, I'll take the finished hanging with me to Miami and leave it with my daughter. The bride is in grad school with my daughter in Miami, so I suspect she'd rather not have to carry it with her back to the States after the wedding.

Amazingly, the cheapest flight I found to Budapest (where Rachel and I are going to hang out before the wedding) left out of Miami. Traveling is rarely so convenient!


Thursday, June 14, 2018

About That Sweater

Way back on May 20, I went to a nearby coffee shop/yarn store, the Sow's Ear, with a friend. The point of the trip was to sketch, and we did indeed sketch:

Of course I had to wander through the store and check out the goods. I stumbled on the spring issue of Knitscene, which I hadn't looked at before.
I flipped through it and fell in love with the sweater, that looked both cute and easy.
The pattern, Fullerton Cardigan, is made with Brown Sheep Worsted, but I don't like mohair, so I bought an armful of the wonderfully affordable Berroco Vintage. Now I have this:
I think that someday it really will be a sweater!

And what is it about sleeves? They are so boring to knit!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Different Kind of Stash Busting

While I'm healing quite well, I am still home much of the time. One of the things I'm doing is going through old craft magazines to tear out the few articles I really want to hang onto and then to discard or donate the magazines.
In one of my jewelry magazines, I saw some cute earrings made with acrylic flower beads. I decided that I should I try to use up my little stash of such beads.
The results are fun, I think, but I didn't use up as many beads as I'd hoped. So many beads, so little time.
I did go into work for part of the day on Monday. It was a staff day, so it wasn't too stressful. On Sunday I was able to make my Urban Sketching group at a cute coffee shop in an old train depot.
For once, I finished it in the allotted two-hour time. Usually I have to do the finishing touches at home. I've switched from using Derwent Inktense pencils for the color to watercolor, and I do like the results. Watercolors are more flexible, at least for me.

This is the first formal day of summer vacation, and I have to say that it feels good! 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Two Finishes

I think this took me about a year, but I finally finished my Spindrift Shawl by Helen Stewart. I have no idea why it took me so long. It's a simple and elegant pattern.
Here it is, unblocked. I'm sure that lace will really open up after a good soak. 
The yarn is a speckled fingering weight from KnitCircus. I seem to have lost track of the ballband. And I had barely enough yarn to finish the picot bind-off!
I also finished this Fair Isle hat of my own design. It came out huge, definitely a man's hat! I'm going to make some changes, downsize it and write it up as a pattern, I think.
It feels good to have accomplished a few things in the past week and a half since my surgery. I'm going to have to work quite a bit in the next weeks. Most of it will be on my own schedule, which makes it feel less onerous.

I hope most of you are having summer. It is so cold and rainy here that I am wearing jeans and a wool sweater!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What I've Learned in the Past Week

1. It is amazing how much more knitting I can get done when I'm not working full time! (See sweater below.)
Flowers from my sweet Mom.
2. Any surgery than involves anesthesia is exhausting.

3. You can't hurry healing. In fact, it's the opposite: You have to slow down to heal. This is a challenge for some of us.

This is the body of a cardigan. More in future posts.

4. Knitting is the absolute best thing to do when you're recuperating, especially mindless stockinette.
Another hat in my effort to stash-bust.
5. You should not check your email when you are sick leave. You just end up working for free. Ask me how I know!

Monday, June 4, 2018


The recuperation from my surgery is not as painful as the doctor had predicted, so of course I'm relieved about that. I am housebound and not really up for visitors, but I can manage knitting. 

I pulled out these three colors for my Free Your Fade shawl. 
I'm not sure if I'll use all three or just the gradient and the blue. I'm going to see how it looks when I get to the first "fade." So far, the gradient is just gorgeous! And it matches the project bag -- one of the many that my sweet MIL has made for me.
I set up another Tchaikovsky Hat before my surgery. It's such an easy pattern and I had the perfect yarn: a skein of Casual Fashion Queen in Bohemia. 
This might be my favorite colorway of all time.
While I'm not up to visitors, I do appreciate it when Nagi and Kola keep me company.
It's actually been cool here so I've enjoyed having them on my lap.

At the rate I'm recovering, I'm going to have to start doing useful things soon, but I'm trying to enjoy this "vacation" while I can.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Day Before Surgery

So, the timeline here is a bit wacky. Surgery will do that to you. I had my surgery yesterday and it went well. I'm home recuperating, but on quite a few pain meds -- so you can't hold me responsible for any spelling or grammar errors!

I did some yarny retail therapy on the afternoon before my surgery. Knit Circus has a new retail shop, which I hadn't visited before. As I told the clerk there, "I figured this was a good time to buy some yarn because my husband can hardly complain when I'm about to have surgery."
Of course the new store is bigger and thus better than the original. So much amazing yarn! Owner Jala Spiro and her crew have amazing color sense and they come up with the most surprising and beautiful gradients. I was only going to buy one, but ended up with two. I justified this because I'm using both in shawls that will also eat up some stash yarn. I know: I'm way too good at justifying yarn purchases!
The skein on top is going to be part of a Free your Fade. I've been wanting to do a Fade. A completed Find your Fade was on display at the store and it is more blanket than shawl. The Free your Fade suits my taste better. The second skein is going to become an On the Spice Market, like the one here.

Although, the more I look at the finished shawl, the less sure I am that my skein is right for the project. No problem. I'm sure I can find a pattern for that beautiful skein. 

Knit Circus has an online store, too, so don't feel left out because you're not here in Madison.

Before I left school Wednesday, a couple of my students came to say goodbye to me Wednesday afternoon, and they brought me this:
There are some things about work I don't miss. But I do miss "my" kids.