Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Finished Bear, and Lots and Lots of Hats

I want to let you know that the faceless, armless, skirtless, unstuffed Mother Bear that you saw in the last post did get finished and has already been sent off to the Mother Bear Project in Minnesota. Soon she will be heading around the world to meet her forever friend.

Here she is, hanging out with the "house bears" before she left. I named her Ibby—short for Elizabeth—in honor and memory of my wonderful Aunt Ibby.

This is not the only charity knitting that has been going on around here. This is my third year of knitting purple baby hats for the Click for Babies program, which distributes the hats along with information about "the period of purple crying" that many infants experience in the first months of life. The program is affiliated with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. You can find out more about the program here.

I learned about Click for Babies a couple years ago and told my knitting group about it, but we got a late start, so I only sent in four hats, two knit by me and two knit by my friend, Tessa. Last year, I knit nine hats, and knitting group members contributed several more to bring our total to 14. This year was even better. My total of seven hats was down a bit from last year, but my knitting group friends (and the sister of one of them), plus two other knitting friends of mine knit a bumper crop of purple hats! Today I sent off 26 hats to the Washington State Click for Babies Program at Seattle Children's Hospital. I think it may be hard to top this number next year...

Here are my seven hats:

And here is an amazing pile of purple-ness: all 26 hats!

In my last post, I talked about the Knit 15 Challenge. Knitting hats for Click for Babies would be a good way to accomplish your 15 minutes (just sayin'). I will be sharing some other ways to #knit15 in the coming months.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Knit 15 Challenge

Here I am at the end of July, and I am finally paying some attention to the blog! Oh well, at least I managed to post once this month.

My main reason for writing this post is to show you what I have been knitting during the past couple of weeks, and to perhaps inspire you to think about knitting for a good cause.

This is my current in-progress Mother Bear, Mother Bear #7 (link is to my Ravelry project page). As you can see, she still needs some work; another arm, a face, a skirt, some stuffing. I'm knitting her for a wonderful charity effort, the Mother Bear Project, that brings comfort—in the form of bears—to children in developing nations who are affected by AIDS.

I've been knitting Mother Bears off and on for several years, and the biggest reward for me is seeing the faces of the children when they receive my bears. Here is my latest bear to find her forever friend; so sweet!

If you want to see more examples of the happiness that a bear can bring, check out the photos on the Mother Bear Project's Flickr photostream. I guarantee that those kids will put a smile on your face.

My most recent bear knitting was inspired by my friend, Jill, who is Jillsknit on Ravelry. She has started what she is calling the Knit 15 Challenge. The idea is to spend 15 minutes a day knitting for charity. She saw it as a way to rediscover your knitting mojo if it has gone missing, but even if you have mojo to spare, knitting to help others is also a great way to help yourself, too.

I'd love to see other knitters pick up the challenge. Even if you don't do charity knitting for 15 minutes every day, give it a try when you can. If you post a photo of your charity knitting on Instagram, use the hashtags #knit15 and #knit15challenge.

I have been doing some other charity knitting lately, and I'll be back with more information—and inspiration, too, I hope—soon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Only 140 Miles Away

Last week, Mr. D and I traveled out of the country to a dynamic and cosmopolitan city located only about 140 miles north of us: Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver is one of my favorite cities, and it holds a special place in our hearts, because, thirteen years ago last week, we spent our honeymoon there. Needless to say, our return trip was to celebrate our thirteenth anniversary.

Vancouver is a place we return to again and again, because we like it's many flavors: it's hip, young, old, modern and eclectic. I haven't done a travel photography post in a while, so I thought you might enjoy seeing a bit of the variety that is Vancouver.









Monday, May 23, 2016


During the first three months of this year, I felt like I was plodding through my knitting, but not getting much done. I did finish a few small projects, and one larger one that had been hanging around since 2014, but for the most part, everything else was in progress.

Once I turned the calendar to April, all of a sudden I was finishing projects! That is such a great feeling, and it re-energized my knitting mojo, too. Below is a photo showing almost all of my April finishes. Missing is a cowl that was mostly knit in March and a charity project that had already been donated when I took this photo.

The dark blue item you see underneath is Sally Melville's design, L'Enveloppe, which I call "That Thing". On the left are my Hydrangea Monkeys, which are the no-purl version of the classic Monkey socks. In the upper right is a Click for Babies hat (look for more on Click for Babies and other charity projects in an upcoming post). Finally, the shawl is my Traveling Zoo, Stephen West's Zoolandia shawl. (All links are to my Ravelry project pages.)

I know you can't tell much about L'Enveloppe when it is serving as display background for other projects, so here is a photo of me wearing it. As you can see, it's sort of a poncho. I cast it on right before the Big Road Trip of 2015 last September, and actually knit most of it on the road. Once I was home, it sat for a few months until I was ready to finish it. Now, of course, it's a bit too warm to wear it, but it will be perfect next fall.

There is a tale to tell about the Zoolandia shawl. This is the project that I mentioned in my annual goals post back in January. I cast it on to take with me to the Knitajourney retreat, since I had purchased the yarn at Yarn Harbor in Duluth the first time I attended that retreat, back in 2012. The pattern calls for 438 yards of fingering weight yarn, and I had 430 yards, which I figured would be close enough. After all, what's 8 yards? Big mistake! I hadn't even got to the final pattern retreat and I knew I wasn't going to have enough yarn to finish. So I left out some rows in that final repeat and there was still not enough yarn. Then I decided to look through my stash of partial balls of yarn to see if I could find something that would match one of the colors in the shawl yarn. I came up with about 80 yards of Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in the Violeta colorway, an almost perfect match for the purple bits in the yarn.

So guess what? About halfway through the picot bind off, I started to get nervous—what if I don't have enough yarn to finish? Thankfully, I did, but you can see how much was left in the photo below: that little purple blob of yarn measured less than a yard!

Despite this harrowing finish, the shawl blocked beautifully, and the purple edging looks like a planned design feature, so it ended up a win-win.

There is a lesson in this tale: always read project notes from other knitters. I didn't, but if I had, I would have known that the yardage amount in the pattern was way off. Of course, then I might not have knitted this pattern and I would have missed out on having this pretty shawl.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Knitting, Nature and Friends (Old and New)

Two weekends ago, I made a quick trip to California to attend the Northern California Knitting Retreat. While there, I experienced two days of hanging out with other knitters, making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, going for walks at dawn, and generally having a wonderful time.

In today's post, I want to simply share some photos from those magical two days. This is truly a case of a picture being worth a thousand words. Take a look, let your imagination take flight, and enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Birthday in Birdland

The inviting pathway above is at the entrance to the trails at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, where we went two Saturdays ago, on my birthday. It was a cool, cloudy day, perfect for exploring this little natural gem, which I have driven past many times on my way to and from meetings and events in Olympia, which is only about ten miles further south.

The wildlife refuge is especially known for the wide array of birds that live or pass through it, so Mr. D brought the binoculars and I brought my camera's long lens. We were not disappointed.

Not long after starting our walk, we encountered this male Downy Woodpecker. I have never been able to get a good clear photo of one of these intriguing birds before.

The trail initially followed the Nisqually River, and we spotted these Hooded Mergansers swimming purposefully through the water. I love how my photo captured both the still and broken up tree reflections.

Eventually, we reached the estuary, where the Nisqually River and another waterway meet and intermingle with Puget Sound. It is such a beautiful vista! In the photo below you can see a bit of Mount Rainier on the horizon.

The trail continues on a long earthen dike, that eventually leads to an even longer boardwalk. While still on the dike, we came upon a Great Blue Heron.

By the time we reached the boardwalk, the tide was beginning to recede, and we encountered this shore bird (either a Dunlin or a Dowitcher), looking at its reflection in the sand.

A little further on, we observed these Green-winged Teals nibbling something tasty.

We even saw an eagle, but he was too far away, and flying much to fast, to get into a photo. When we returned to the Visitor Center, I was able to get a photo of this flock of geese, heading north.

As you can tell, we had a magical morning, and it was a perfect way to start the next year of my life. Happy Birthday to me!

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Report From Stitches West

I bet you were wondering if I was ever going to tell you about this year's trip to Stitches West. I didn't forget you, and in fact, had great plans to write this blog post yesterday, until the wind started to blow and the power went out for nine hours. Things are back to normal today, so here I am to tell you all about it.

This year was a little different than previous Stitches West trips. Mr. D and I didn't combine it with a visit to our Santa Cruz family and a trip down the Central Coast. The Santa Cruz family is spending this year in Zurich, Switzerland, so Mr. D stayed home, and I flew down with my knitting friends, Sarah and Martha.

Day one got off to a VERY early start. I spent the night at Martha's house, and we had to get up at 3:00 a.m. in order to be at the airport for a 6:00 a.m. flight. Once we got going with the day, we were all okay, but by the end of the day we were really dragging.

Once we arrived in Santa Clara, the fun began. The three of us found a comfortable couch in the Hyatt lobby and waited for our rooms to be ready. While sitting there, we greeted friends as they arrived and had a very interesting conversation with a designer, Patty Nance, who happened to sit down next to us.

Within an hour or so, our rooms were ready, and then it was time for lunch. Every year we go to the Teachers a la Carte luncheon, and sit at a table with our friends Barb, Tracie, Pat and Mary. A number of the Stitches teachers rotate to each table for five minute segments, and they tell us about their classes and specialties. It's a great way to get ideas for what to take at Stitches West in future years.

After lunch, it was time for my first class, Stashology 201, with Chris Byslma. Barb was also in that class, and we had fun working our way through the various exercises that provided me with new ways to think about my stash and how to use those partial balls of yarn leftover from other projects. Here is a photo that I took of some of our class samples:

Then it was time for the market! Stitches attendees who register for classes or events get admission to the market preview on Thursday night. This is a huge advantage, because it is a lot less crowded than on Friday or Saturday. Sarah, Martha and I always do the passport game—you print out a passport before leaving home, then visit the booths on the passport and when done, turn it in for a prize drawing. None of us have ever won the prize, but it is a great way to scope out what vendors have to offer. At one of the last passport booths we visited, Dizzy Blonde Studios, we had our photo taken in the "transporter". It turns out that this is the only photo I got of the three of us during the whole three days. I bet you can tell that this was when we were really tired from our long day.

My time in the market over the three days kind of blurs together, so I'll just show you what I purchased:

A kit to make Knitted Knockers (more on this charity in an upcoming post)

A mini-skein set in the Bloody Mary colorway from Pigeonroof Studios

A sock blank from Western Sky Knits

Dragonfly Fibers Pixie in the Blue Velvet colorway 

I was pretty moderate this year, don't you think? Actually being in the Stitches market is more than just buying. While there, I turned in my recently completed Mother Bear, and returned the next day to find her on display in the Mother Bear Project booth.

We also spend a lot of time looking at the items displayed in various booths, and often take photos of them so we can remember just what that pretty shawl was called once we return home.

Sometimes we just marvel at all the gorgeous colors, like these, in the Neighborhood Fiber Company booth.

There were many more adventures at Stitches West: a great class on Mitered Squares from Marly Bird, the Friday night fashion show, pizza deliveries and Girl Scout cookies, not to mention the enjoyable podcaster get-together in the Hyatt bar on Saturday afternoon. As always, it was a whirlwind of fun, and over all too soon. Before we knew it, we were on another plane, watching the sun go down as we headed back home.