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...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Knitting to the Finish

Like most knitters, I love to start new projects, but I don't always finish them quickly. Is this a problem for you, too? Do you have projects that have been lingering in unfinished status for a few months or even a few years? I certainly do. One of my favorite bloggers, Andi, of the My Sister's Knitter blog has a solution to this problem. She is hosting a Tackling WIPs knit along in her Ravelry group. The KAL started September 1, and runs through the end of the year.

I have to admit that I started two projects right before the KAL began so that I could include them on my list of WIPs, but I also had seven projects that had been on the needles for considerably longer. My plan is to finish at least two (and preferably three) projects per month in both September and October, leaving November and December for finishing the remaining projects.

September was a very successful month. There were three KAL projects that came off my needles. (All links are to my Ravelry project pages.)
These Silky Green Mitts are, by far, my oldest WIP. I cast on in February 2011, knit one mitt on double points fairly quickly and then threw the project into the back of the closet, because I really couldn't stand the thought of more dpn knitting. A few months ago, I even considered frogging the project and using the yarn for something else. I am so glad I didn't! It only took me a few hours—this time using two circular needles—to finish the second mitt. I am so happy with how these turned out, and I can't wait until it's cold enough to wear them.
Next up is my A Little Streusel on the Cake, Bonnie Sennott's lovely Streusel pattern. I started this  shawl on July 31, to participate in an informal KAL in honor of the fifth blog anniversary of another of my favorite blogs: Girls in Sheep Clothing…and a few boys, too. I finished knitting this project on September 13, and along the way I got to be a guest blogger! (You can find links to my two posts on my project page.)
My last FO for September is Racing Upstairs and Downstairs in My Red Cowl, Paula Emons-Fuessle's Upstairs Downstairs cowl pattern. I started the cowl on August 22, and finished it on September 27. This was a very fun knit, and I'm thinking of knitting another one in the near future.

You may be wondering what I'm working on finishing this month. I have a pair of socks that are nearing the end. Here's a peek:
There is also a cardigan that is a few inches farther along than this photo shows:
Once these two projects are complete, I will be focusing on the shawl, two scarves and one pair of socks that still remain on my WIP list. I'll post an update to share my progress in November, so stay tuned!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weekly Hikes #12 and #13: Summer Hike, Autumn Hike, and a Bit of Yarn

I was mistaken in my last post when I said that I had done the last hike of the summer, because it turned out that Mr. D and I were able to do one more, on Saturday, September 20th. We went back to one of my favorite trails, on the west end of Rattlesnake Mountain. I've written about this hike in at least two other posts. It's a great hike for spring and fall, both because it's low enough that it doesn't get much snow, and also because it is just plain beautiful!

Because I've talked about it before, I'll just share a few photos of the foggy/sunny day that we enjoyed on our hike.

So summer hiking is over, but autumn hiking has just begun. Yesterday, Mr. D and I decided that it was a good day to head east to the town of Carnation, and to explore some of the hiking and walking trails nearby. We chose to go to Tolt MacDonald Park, which sits on either side of the Snoqualmie River.

It was a gorgeous autumn day, and perfect for exploring a place that was new to us. To get to the trails, we had to cross a wooden pedestrian bridge over the river. Standing in the middle of the bridge, I enjoyed beautiful views both up and down the river. Here is the view looking east. Coincidentally, you can see Rattlesnake Mountain in the distance.

Once we were on the other side of the bridge, we headed down this trail through the woods that were parallel to the river.
There were several side trails that led to the river bank. We took one of them, and found ourselves on a rocky beach. There were several cairns on the beach, and I photographed the most impressive one, which sat right beside the river. (You may remember from my Switzerland posts in 2012 that I really love cairns.)
We hiked for about two hours, enjoying the sunshine, the autumn color, and, especially the beautiful, peaceful river.
Once our hiking was done, we found a picnic table and ate our lunch. Did we head home after that? No, not yet. You see, Carnation is the home of one of the newest yarn stores in the Seattle area, Tolt Yarn and Wool. The store opened last November, and in a very short period of time has become a "destination" yarn store. I couldn't be a mere half mile away and not stop in.

The store is not large, but is beautifully laid out, with yarn displays that are very pleasing to the eye:
Tolt carries so many wonderful yarns—Quince & Co., Jamiesons, Peace Fleece, Jill Draper Makes Stuff, Swans Island, Imperial Yarn, to name just a few—that it is easy to wander the store and fondle the yarn for an hour or more. I limited myself to only about a half hour (after all, Mr. D was patiently waiting), and I did make a purchase.

As you can see, they wrapped my yarn up very nicely:
And it's probably no surprise that I bought some Hazel Knits! The colors look a little more green than blue in this photo, but in real life the colorways, Laguna on the left, and Frost on the right, are definitely in the blue realm. I'm thinking these may become a two color shawl, but I don't have a pattern in mind just yet. Suggestions are welcome!
I know that I promised you a knitting update over a month ago, and that this is but a mere tidbit. That post will be coming up next, because there has definitely been some knitting going on at my house!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekly Hike #11: The Last Weekly Hike (Maybe)

Remember back in January, in my annual goals, when I said I was giving myself a pass on hiking goals? Well, the fact that I only have done eleven weekly hikes means I have made good on that promise. I am not swearing off on ever doing weekly hikes again, and in fact, I'm sure there will be more this year. But with the first day of autumn only six days away, and with rain in the forecast for the end of this week, it is not likely that I will get out on the trail much, if at all, before autumn begins. Autumn is my favorite time to hike, however, so I'm pretty sure there will be a few more hikes before the rainy season begins in earnest. So what follows is not the last weekly hike ever (far from it), but almost certainly the last weekly hike of the summer of 2014.

On August 26, Mr. D and I decided to go to one of our favorite spots to hike, Wallace Falls State Park, and to hike to the Upper Falls viewpoint, a hike destination that I vaguely remembered getting to once, several years ago. But Mr. D wanted to practice the uphills, because of what he had on his back:
Yes, that is a heavy-duty backpack, loaded with camping gear. Mr. D was going on a two-and-a-half-day backpacking trip with our friends and former neighbors over the Labor Day weekend, and he wanted to practice hauling his gear on our hike. I was happy that I didn't have to haul anything but myself up the steepest sections of that trail!

Wallace Falls State Park is a beautiful place, and hiking there is a pleasure. To start with, there is the forest, which is mostly Douglas fir, but also includes some cedar and hemlock.  I love how tall and straight the trees are here. One of my Flickr contacts described this upward view as being "as if you were in a tree tunnel". I love that description, and it is so true.
The trails at Wallace Falls also follow the water. Here is the view at one of my favorite spots, taken from the bridge over the North Fork of the Wallace River.
And then there are the falls. I have seen the Lower and Middle Falls more than once, and photographed them, too, but the Upper Falls were new to me.
I love that old, dead tree, balanced so perfectly between the rocks on either side of the falls.

I know I will return to Wallace Falls State Park many more times in the future, and I will always find something new to enjoy and photograph. I hope you will "hike" with me and my camera when I do. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Weekly Hike #10: A Mini-Hike on a Hot Day

On Monday, August 11, the hottest day of the summer, we took a very short hike. There were a couple reasons for this. First, it was hot; second, my sister-in-law and my nine year-old nephew were visiting, and we wanted to do a hike that would be fun for everyone. We drove up to the Denny Creek trailhead, and headed for the Denny Creek water slide, two miles up the trail. Mr. D and his sister set the pace:
This trail is pretty gradual, and crosses Denny Creek more than once.
It also goes directly under Interstate 90.
 Once we arrived at the water slide, it was apparent that there wasn't enough water to actually slide (the result of a pretty dry summer), but the nephew and sister-in-law still enjoyed playing in and around the creek. That is the two of them on the left in the photo, which was unfortunately, the only photo I got of their water activities.
While the two of them played, I sat on a large rock with Mr. D and enjoyed the beauty of the surrounding forest.

I also spent some time knitting on the second of my couplet socks. You can see a bit of Denny Creek in the background.
We were lucky that we were in the mountains for most of the day. The temperature up there was in the mid-80s. Once we headed home, we realized how hot it was down in the Seattle area. This photograph was taken about five miles from our house. It shows the temperature display in our Prius at that very moment. The official high temperature for the day was 96 degrees, but we know it was really hotter...
Fortunately, now the temperatures are cooler, and there is a hint of early morning crispness in the air, so autumn knitting season is on its way. I'll update you on my knitting projects and plans in the next post.