Friday, January 29, 2016

Cold Days, Warm Knitting

It was cold, cold, cold two weeks ago, when I traveled to Minnesota for the Knitajourney Midwinter Retreat. You may remember my 2014 and 2015 posts about this retreat, which is so much fun that I return each year. Two years ago, there was a lot of snow, last year, there was very little snow. This year, there was definitely snow, but the word of the weekend was not just cold, but frigid! On Sunday, the coldest day, it got down to -18 degrees Fahrenheit, which was the actual temperature, not the windchill (which was -38).

With temperatures this cold, most of the activities of the weekend were indoors, but I did get some amazing outdoor photos, too. Here is a sampling:

The setting sun, seen through the old oak trees at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. I took this photo (from the warmth of my friends' car) in the section of the cemetery where my grandfather is buried. I hope to return next September when I'm in Minneapolis to look for his grave.

The view of Lake Superior  from the upstairs window at Playing With Yarn, in Knife River, Minnesota.

Sea smoke on Lake Superior, which is caused by cold air moving over warmer water. 

 Jack Frost left his calling card on this window at Playing With Yarn.

It wasn't all snow and cold, of course. Lots of knitting was going on, as well as a bit of spinning, weaving, and, of course, eating.

I finished one sock, and cast on another. Here is the finished sock. The yarn is Intrepid Otter Rustic Stripes.

Here is Ellen at her spinning wheel. I took the photo at her house before we left for the retreat.

Susan experimented with a backstrap loom while Ceci looked on. 

 I ate very well all weekend. On Friday night I had pan-fried whitefish and wild rice risotto, Saturday lunch was warm beets and carrots and Sunday dinner was macaroni and cheese.

The overarching theme of the weekend was fun, laughter and fellowship. Many thanks to my fellow retreaters for their friendship, which keeps my heart warm on the coldest of days!

Friday, January 8, 2016

It's That Time Again...

Have you looked at the calendar? It's January, and you know what that means: New Year's resolutions, or, in my case, the annual goals post on the blog.

I tried really hard last year to not have too many goals, and I'm not sure that worked very well. I wanted to post more photos on the blog, and I did that to a certain extent, but the total number of posts was down significantly last year, so I'm not sure I accomplished much.

I also didn't have a hiking goal last year, and hiking was almost completely absent from the blog, and wasn't a big part of my life, either. (I blame the hottest summer in Seattle history for that.)

One area where I can report a bit of success was my goal to "significantly reduce my stash" in 2015. I didn't reduce it any, but it didn't grow, either.  I have exactly the same number of skeins in my stash as I had a year ago, so that means that my purchases were balanced by what I knit up and donated during the year. And, another small victory: I spent about $200 less on yarn than I did in 2014.

So, where do I go from here? I have come up with a fun challenge to use the older yarns in my stash. I love doing random drawings for projects, and have been randomly drawing the names of my self-striping and self-patterning yarns from a hat for my vanilla sock projects for the past couple of years. This year, I have something a little more extensive in mind.

1. I have listed the years 2008-2014 on slips of paper.

2. I've written items from my queue paired with stash yarns on other slips of paper.

3. I've written some ideas that set parameters for a project on still more slips of paper.

The photographs above are just a sample, so there are more project possibilities that I have included.  I have enough items to keep me knitting from my stash for at least two years.

The plan is to randomly choose one slip per month and cast on. For January, because I hadn't put together my choices for random drawings, I just picked a yarn and pattern that had been on my radar for a while. I'll leave the pattern as a surprise for now, and will reveal it in a later post. The yarn, which is shown below, was purchased in 2012 while I was at the Knitajourney Midwinter Retreat. The colorway is called Yarn Harbor, named after the yarn store in Duluth where it was purchased, and it's a store exclusive.

So that is my plan for stash reduction for this year, and perhaps for next year, as well. It should be fun, and I'll keep you posted on my projects as the year progresses.

So, how about you? What are your knitting goals or resolutions for 2016?

P.S. I photographed the slips of paper on three of my knitted shawls, Castanets, Burning Branch and Streusel. Follow the links if you want more information on those projects.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Photo Christmas!

Another year has come and almost gone, and here it is, Christmas again. You may have guessed already that I love Christmas, especially the colors and lights that brighten up this dark time of year.

Lately, I've been experimenting a lot more with my camera, especially with shutter speeds and ISO settings. I thought it might be fun to share a few of my camera experiments here on the blog, as well as a couple seasonal images, too.

I'm intrigued by what my camera does when I set a long exposure and move the camera while I press the shutter. The other day I made several photos using this technique. Here are my favorites—I call them my Christmas fantasies.

Pretty cool, huh? I love the long strings of color! For those of you who are photography nerds, the first photo was taken with a .5-second shutter speed and an f9 aperture, and the second had a .8-second shutter speed and an aperture of f16. The ISO setting for both photos was 3200.

This time of year, I also love experimenting with bokeh, a Japanese term meaning blur or haze. Bokeh is a fairly common background feature of any photo with a short depth of field, but around the holidays, it's really fun to play with intentional bokeh and Christmas lights.  Here is one of my favorites, which I took last Christmas.

Here is my favorite bokeh photo from this year, a combination of clarity and blur.

Experimentation is fun, but sometimes I just want to capture some of the magic and memories that surround this wonderful holiday. This little wooden man has hung on the Christmas tree every year since I was five years old. He was a gift from Santa in my stocking that Christmas and went on the tree immediately. He brings back many sweet memories of Christmases past...

So here is my wish for you this Christmas: may your holiday be filled with color, light and happy memories!

Monday, November 30, 2015


Here I am, writing a second post in November, but only by the skin of my teeth. I haven't had two posts in a month since July, and it's also been that long since I've had an all-knitting post. As a result, I'm here to rectify that situation with an update on what I've been knitting and finishing lately.

So first, here is what's on the needles:

I'm calling these my Growing Boy Socks (all links are to my Ravelry project pages). These are socks for my nephew Olin, now almost 11 years old. You may remember that I knit these socks for him four years ago, and he outgrew them a year or so after that. It is definitely time to knit him another pair. The photo above was taken about a week ago, and I'm now past the heels on both socks, so they should be done in a few days. I'm using Charlene Schurch's garter rib pattern.

I'm also back to working on another pair of socks that have been languishing since the summer. These  are for me, and I'm calling them my Summer Market Socks, which was the theme of the knit along in the Blue Peninsula Ravelry group, now long since finished. I am past the heel on both socks, so once the socks for Olin are finished, these will get finished, as well.

Have you been participating in the Indie Design Giftalong? I decided to dip my toe in this year and knit another Blue Peninsula pattern, the Sweetdrop Cowl. I'm calling my project Sweet Little Drops of Green, because I am loving the madelinetosh DK Forestry colorway. Can you believe that the yarn has been languishing in my stash since 2010? I have two more skeins, which will become a hat and mitts in the near future.

I have some other projects on the needles, too, but I'll save those for another post. I want to end this one with one of my favorite finished objects ever, which taught me a lot—especially about provisional cast-ons and trusting the pattern—and took forever to finish. I'm talking about my Deepest Pink Cardi, which was off the needles and blocked in time to wear to the market at a local knitting event, Knit Fit,  two weeks ago. I wanted to show it to Wendee, the owner of Hazel Knits, because I purchased the yarn from her at last year's Knit Fit. She suggested that I get a photo with Dave, who dyed the yarn, and he was happy to oblige.

While I love this photo, it doesn't really show the gorgeous deep pink/purple colorway very well, so here is another photo. Please ignore that I didn't put the cardigan on completely straight. It was really cold when we had the photoshoot, and we were in a hurry to get back into the warm house!

Well, that is it for knitting in November, but there will be more coming up soon in December!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Wonders of a Geothermal World

When I wrote the last blog post, I said I would be back in early November, and here it is, almost late November. But I'm looking on the bright side, it's still November!

The written part of this post is short and sweet. I want to share some of the amazing sights that Mr. D and I experienced in our three days in Yellowstone National Park. Enjoy the photo tour!

Of course, we had to see Old Faithful! I was amazed that that bird would get so close.

The mysterious blue depths of a geothermal pool.

Amazing yellow paint pot.

Palette Spring, at Mammoth Hot Springs.

The Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Water and stone in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Bison, bison everywhere...

Including right in the middle of the road.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Back to the Blog, and a Happy Halloween

So another month has gone by with nary a blog post. My excuse is the same as last month, lots of traveling and too much going on to sit down and write about it.

Mr D and I were on the east coast for 12 days earlier this month, and there was lots to catch up on when we returned. Through all of that, I've been knitting, but I'll save what I've been working on for another post. I have also have been in the planning stages for some blog posts on our epic September road trip, but with hundreds of photos to sift through, those will have to wait a bit.

I do want to share a few seasonal scenes with you today, to wish you a very Happy Halloween! See you again in early November!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Should Have at Least One September Post, Shouldn't I?

I have been missing from the blog for over a month, and I have really good excuses for why—a three-day power outage and a 19-day road trip being two of those excuses. Well, I at least want to make a quick appearance here during September, so I'm going to give you a peek at what I've been up to.

First, a knitting project finished: My Own Hand-dyed Shawl (link is to my Revelry project page).

You may remember from this post that I was knitting Nurmilintu out of YOTH Yarns Little Brother that I dyed in a class I took with the YOTH owners last year. I absolutely love, love, love how this shawl turned out, and I'm looking forward to wearing it as the weather gets cooler (which, after our incredibly hot and dry summer, is finally starting to happen).

There hasn't been much other finishing, but I have at least two WIPs that should be coming off the needles sometime in October, so keep an eye out for those on the blog in the near future.

The other big, big event was Mr. D's and my road trip from Seattle to Minnesota, which started the day before Labor Day and ended just five days ago. I will definitely share some of my photographs in the weeks to come, but to build anticipation, here is a little teaser...

Can you guess where this is? I'll leave it a mystery for now, but watch the blog and an answer will be revealed sometime very soon.