Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Good Times and Good Yarn

I have been missing from the blog for almost the whole month of March, battling a terrible cold that I came down with the day we returned from our California road trip. Now that I am finally feeling better, I want to share some quick highlights of Madrona and Stitches West with you. In the previous  two years, I have written more extensively about both events, but this year's report isn't much different: I had a great time, took some excellent classes, hung out with friends and spent some time (and a bit of money) in the markets.

Madrona was a quick trip this year. I drove down for the day on Saturday, February 14, hung out with my Knitajourney retreat friend, Ellen (twinsetellen on Ravelry), wandered the market, and took a really fun class with Janine Bajus in the afternoon.

Here is my one and only yarn purchase from the Madrona market. Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in the Quill colorway. I am currently looking at two-color shawl patterns and this yarn may become one of the colors when the pattern is chosen.
Stitches West started only five days after the day I spent at Madrona. During those five days, Mr. D and I packed up and, on February 17, took off on our drive down to California. The weather was beautiful, and the trip was uneventful, except for the fantastic meal we had our first night, when we stayed in Ashland. This dessert was definitely an event!
Once I was safely delivered to Stitches (and Mr. D to his sister's house in Santa Cruz) the fun really began. I love hanging out with my knitting pals, Sarah and Martha, as well as meeting up and chatting with friends I only see once a year. I again attended the Saturday afternoon podcaster get-together, which is so relaxing and fun, and affords a great opportunity to just sit and chat with other knitters, some of whom are podcasters and some who aren't.

The market always looms large at Stitches West. You may remember from my January goals post that I was determined to have a strategy for my shopping this year, and I did, and it worked very well. In the weeks leading up to Stitches I reviewed the vendor thread in the Stitches West Ravelry group and made a list of yarns and other items that I wanted to check out. I also made a list of patterns and yarn requirements for some of the sweaters I am thinking of knitting as I knew I wanted to look for a sweater quantity of yarn, something that I haven't purchased at the two previous Stitches I've attended. So after all of the list making and vendor stalking, here is what I actually purchased:
At the top is a Huckleberry Knits gradient that will become Jen Lucas' pattern Saffron. On the left is Forbidden Woolery Temperence, a DK weight yarn that was my one random purchase. I plan to knit it into a Clapo-Ktus. In the middle is that sweater quantity, Huckleberry Knits BFL/Silk DK, and on the right is a skein of fun self-striping yarn from White Birch Fiber Arts. And yes, I did notice the preponderance of purple in these yarns. It is my favorite color, so you shouldn't be surprised.

So that is the Madrona and Stitches report for this year. Keep an eye on the blog in the coming months as I begin to knit up these lovely yarns, because I will be sure to share those projects with you here.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Walking the Line on the High Line

You may remember that back in 2012, I wrote a post about walking on the High Line in New York City. In November, Mr. D and I were in New York City for the day and walked the High Line again. The final section had recently opened, and we wanted to see it, as well as enjoy the part that we had previously explored. As we walked, I was thinking about finding a theme for my photographs, a concept I had just learned about in the Craftsy Travel Photography class. It was almost immediately obvious that the theme should be, "Lines on the High Line".  Here are some of the lines that I viewed through my camera lens as we walked on the High Line.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Self-Indulgent Stashbusting

Just a quick update on my knitting, at the midpoint of the first quarter of the year. As you know from my 2015 goals post, I want to work on reducing my stash in 2015, and I'm off to a great start. There has been very little yarn purchased—one skein of yarn for my Click for Babies hats, one skein at my January retreat and one skein (Hazel Knits, of course) at Madrona. I had originally planned to only buy yarn while at the retreat, but what I did was to split the budget amount I allocated ($40) in half and  spend the money at two events. Next week is Stitches West, and I know I will have some bigger purchases, but I already have a budget and a plan for what I want to buy, so we will see if that results in more thoughtful spending than what I experienced in the Stitches market last year.

There is also that word "self-indulgent" in the title of this post, and stashbusting can be very self-indulgent, whether you are knitting for yourself or for others. I'm even participating in a self-indulgent knit along in the Yarniacs podcast group, and I finished my first self-indulgent project earlier this month. Here is my Ripples shawl, knit with madelinetosh Twist Light, in the Care colorway, the sales of which benefitted Doctors Without Borders. A long-time friend gave me the yarn for Christmas in 2014, and the skein was barely in my stash before it was gone. I love all the happy colors in this yarn!

Another project that has been around for a while is proving to be very self-indulgent, and I'm knitting with two yarns that have been in my stash since 2013, so it's stashbusting, too. I'm nearing the end on my Light in Shadows shawl, and I'm loving working with Hazel Knits Entice in two beautiful colorways, Spooky Hue and Seattle KAL. Here is a peek, but you will have to wait until it's finished to see the whole shawl.

Finally, I have been doing some charity knitting, and enjoying the process as well as the happiness that knitting for others can bring—certainly self-indulgent, don't you think? Here are a Click for Babies hat and a Mother Bear. The Mother Bear will be donated next week at Stitches West; the hat is the first of several that I plan to knit this year for the local Click for Babies program.

So that's the latest on my knitting. What do you have on the needles?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Traveling to the Land of Winter

As part of my 2015 goals, I promised that I would share more photography on the blog, and this will be one of those posts. Two weeks ago, I traveled to Minnesota, to see my college friends and my nephew in Minneapolis, and to attend the Knitajourney Midwinter Retreat in Duluth. I hear a lot of incredulous, "You're going to Minnesota in winter?" comments from my Seattle friends, but I love getting a taste of real winter on this trip. We have been sadly lacking any true winter weather this year in the Northwest, but going to Minnesota in January gives me my winter fix. So, enjoy my scenes from Minnesota, the Land of Winter!

Winter Sunset over Lake Calhoun

Perfectly Frosty Ice Lamps

Bare Trees and Winter Sky

A Cold Seat

Winter Apples

Winter Handknits

Roof Lines, with Snow

Winter, from the Air

Friday, January 9, 2015

Old Year, New Year

Happy New Year! This is usually the post where I talk about my goals for the year, but with a couple exceptions, I don't plan to do that this year. What I want to do instead is give you an update on the projects that I finished in the MySister's Knitter finishing WIPs KAL that I wrote about back in October. I had intended to post an update in November, but blog posts have been few and far between lately, so that update never happened.

When I first posted about the KAL, I had finished three of nine WIPs, and shared in-progress photos of two others. My final tally at the end of the KAL: seven of those nine projects are complete, and both of the unfinished projects are actively being worked on, so I expect to have two more FOs in the not too distant future.

Started on August 31, I finished Little Pumpkins for My Feet on October 20, in plenty of time for Halloween. I wore them to a pumpkin carving party, as well as on Halloween.

Next up in the finishing category was a rather embarrassing project that had been on the needles since November 21, 2013, and which I finished two days short of a year later. I had originally intended it to be a birthday gift in March for my friend Elizabeth, instead, it was her Christmas gift. Here is my Better Late Than Never Shawl, modeled by yours truly.
I cast on my Time to Experiment Socks way back on May 15. I wanted to experiment with a different heel that would work well with self-striping yarn, so I pulled out some sale yarn from WEBS to use for my experiment. Initially, I thought I would try an afterthought heel, but then I started hearing about the OMG Heel, and decided to knit that one instead. The heel was quite easy to knit, with very clear instructions, but when I tried on the in-progress sock, it didn't fit my narrow foot very well. At first I thought I would just finish the sock and try another heel on the second sock, but I ultimately opted to rip back and try the Fish Lips Kiss Heel instead. I got Mr. D to trace my foot and then did all the measurements that the pattern requires, and Eureka—an amazing, great-fitting heel!  Here are those socks, finished on Christmas Day:
Finally, I completed what was probably the biggest slog of all of these projects, my Crescent Candelia, which I cast on back on May 2, and finished, just under the wire for the KAL, on New Year's Eve. I have to admit that the long wait for the FO was worth it—I love this cardigan, especially the gorgeous Hazel Knits Artisan Sock Crescent colorway, which was named for Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. The lake is this exact shade of deep blue-green.
Okay, that's the latest on the WIP-knitting front, but what about goals for 2015? I just went back and read last year's goals and they were pretty much a repeat of the goals from the year before. I noted that I gave myself a pass on photography, hiking and reading goals, and all of those things were a part of my year, although there was not nearly as much photography happening as in 2013. Because I did manage to take photographs, hike and read without specific goals, I thought I might try a more relaxed approach with knitting goals this year. I do have two goals—one for knitting and one for photography—I want to tell you about, however:

1. I want to significantly reduce my stash in 2015. I know, I know, I say this every year, don't I? In 2014, I spent less money on yarn than I did the year before, but the size of my stash still grew. (I'm not sure how that happened!) I'm starting the year by participating in three knitalongs devoted to knitting from stash, so that should help use some yarn up. I am also attempting to limit my purchases to yarn for charity projects (Click for Babies hats) and one souvenir yarn (at the knitting retreat I'm going to next week) until I attend Stitches West in February. I don't expect to not buy yarn at Stitches, but I do want to go into the market with a detailed list of projects I want yarn for (the successful strategy I  followed at Stitches in 2013), rather than just drifting from vendor to vendor with no plan (the disastrous strategy that I followed last year).  Anyway, this is the initial plan. I expect it will be updated as the year progresses. I'll try to post about how I actually get along, both my successes and failures, throughout the year.

2. I want to make a concerted effort to take photographs and post them on the blog. Back in 2013, when I was doing a Project 365, I was regularly posting my photographs to the blog. For a while, I was even posting a photo a week. That type of frequency is very easy to burn out on—ask me how I know this—but I do want to share some of the fun and interesting pictures that I find and capture in my everyday life, and you can expect to see them posted here from time to time.

So that's it for now. I'm looking forward to sharing the events of my year with you in the weeks and months to come.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Picturing the Winter Solstice

Four times a year, on the spring and autumn equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices, I use my camera to document the activities of my day. I started doing this exactly six years ago yesterday, when the theme of the day was this:
That's right: SNOW. It was not your typical wimpy Seattle dusting, but an actual foot of snow, which made that winter solstice memorable, indeed.

Nothing quite as momentous happened this year on the winter solstice, but it was still a very happy and celebratory day, nonetheless.

I started the day by opening the 21st window on my Advent calendar.
Then I ate some Christmas Stollen with my coffee, and finished the heel on my sock—my second-ever Fish Lips Kiss heel.
Later, I joined my knitting friends for our annual Christmas celebration, with presents!
I went from knitting with friends to eating with friends. I took the bus downtown and met my two oldest friends (from first and third grades) and we ate at a window table at the Athenian Inn in the Pike Place Market.
My eyes were bigger than my stomach! My lunch was a clam chowder bowl that I managed to eat only about half of, but it certainly was good!
Next, I headed back home, and soon after, Mr. D and I went to my sister-in-law's house to celebrate the sixth night of Hanukkah with Mr. D's family. It's really wonderful having two light-filled holidays to celebrate at this dark time of year.

We ate a wonderful dinner, including, my favorite—potato latkes—and then sang songs and opened presents. Mr. D was really happy with his gift from me, a guidebook to identifying the mushrooms that he sees while hiking.
But the best part of the evening was the light from the candles in the menorah, which for me is a reminder that there is always light, even on the darkest night.
Whatever holidays you celebrate—Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza—I wish you peace, happiness and light this holiday season!

Monday, November 10, 2014

200 Projects!

Last month, I knit this little dishcloth to go with two blue and white dish towels that I bought in July at the wonderful Baker's Store at the King Arthur Flour headquarters in Norwich, Vermont. I bought the dishtowels as a little extra birthday gift for my longtime friend (since third grade!), Stephanie.

After I entered my project into Ravelry, I happened to look at the upper righthand corner of my notebook, and I noticed that I had 200 projects! And this little dishcloth was project 200. Those 200 projects represent my progress as a knitter. In February 2008, when I joined Ravelry, I was only a little over a month into my career as a serious knitter. Prior to 2008, almost the only items that I knit were dishcloths, and I only ever knit them in occasional spurts, followed by long periods of time when I didn't knit at all.

My Project 200 dishcloth is certainly representative of where I started back in 2008, and if you look at projects 198 and 199, you can see some of the directions I have traveled in the years since.
Project 198, two Click for Babies hats, is representative of some of the charity knitting I've done. Other charity projects have been chemo hats for Halos of Hope, scarves and hats for local homeless shelters and my favorite, bears for the Mother Bear Project.

Project 199, Brown Biscuit, is Bonnie Sennott's beautifully textured Biscuit cowl, and provides a hint of some of the many new skills I have acquired over the years. There are textured stitches, lace and even some small bobbles in this piece. In addition, this project represents some color experimentation for me. I have never been much of a fan of brown, but this brown—Hazel Knits Entice in the colorway Smudge—has little flecks of red throughout, and I love it! Look for Smudge to pop up in a larger project sometime in the future.

So this is where I am after 200 projects. Hmmmm, I wonder what the next 200 projects will be...