Tuesday, February 28, 2012

At Long Last!

I have spent a fair amount of time on this blog talking about hibernating and long-term projects. If you read my post about my knitting goals for 2012, you know that number one on the goals list is to finish or frog some of those projects that have been hanging around for quite a while—years, in some cases. I'm happy to report that progress is being made on this goal, in the form of two newly-completed projects.

I cast on for my Out of Hibernation, Even Though It's Winter scarf in September 2009. It has a feather-and-fan stitch pattern, and is knit in Socks that Rock Mediumweight in the gorgeous purple and copper Eggplanted colorway.  The pattern is incredibly easy, a four-row repeat, with only one patterned row. Early on, I made a major mistake, but once it was ripped back and I got on the right track, I dropped the project and didn't pick it up again for over two years! Once I got started on the scarf again, in early January, it moved right along, and I finished it on February first. Here it is, all ready for me to wear:

The second finished object is a felted bag, knit from the Samantha pattern, that was part of a She-Knits Mystery Knitalong, cast on in September 2010. I kept up with the clues fairly well at first, and was probably about two-thirds done when my knitting came to a dead stop. I didn't pick the bag up again until last summer. I made some more progress then, but set it down again, with only two inside pockets to knit  and felting left to go. Two weeks ago, I knit those inside pockets—which took me only about two hours. Then I felted the bag (three times through my washing machine's short hot cycle). Last Saturday, I put the finishing touches on it by sewing on a magnetic snap. This bag is finally fini! I love the result, and it's already being put into use as my new favorite knitting bag. Here she is—Samantha:

I haven't just been finishing UFOs this month; there is lots of other knitting going on, too. Watch for more on that in an upcoming post!

Monday, February 20, 2012

What I Like About Madrona

Every year, on the President's Day Weekend in mid-February, the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat is held at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington. This was my fourth year at Madrona, and it was the best one yet.

Here are the things I like about Madrona:

1.  The classes. I was in an airplane when registration opened in mid-November, so my friend Nancy registered for me after she registered for her own classes. I had given her four class possibilities, and only two were still open, both taught by Amy Detjen, Meg Swanson's assistant, and tech editor extraordinaire. I was a little bummed not to have more variety, but the two classes, Bavarian and Austrian Twisted Stitches on Thursday, and Double Knitting on Friday, were both excellent. I loved Amy, and I would take another class from her in a heartbeat. I feel like I actually can do both techniques now, and I fully intend to finish my double knitting project. Here is what it looked like at the end of class:

2. Everyone's hand-knitted garments. As you can imagine, there were lots of beautiful shawls, scarves, sweaters, socks and all sorts of other hand-knit items worn and carried by retreat participants. I only caught two with my camera, both knitted by Abbott Smith, an amazing local knitter, designer and instructor. Coincidentally, both are double knit scarves.

3. The Market. Madrona has a small but excellent marketplace, with free admission for everyone. There are some wonderful vendors, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Blackwater Abbey, Tactile Fiber Arts, and Toots LeBlanc, to name just a few. My goal in shopping this year was to not buy any fingering weight yarn—if you could see how much I already have, you'd know why—and I was successful in this shopping goal. I was actually pretty moderate in my shopping this year.  Here are my purchases:

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Mediumweight in the Atomic #6 colorway

Dancing Sheep project bag, Malabrigo Arroyo in the Jupiter  colorway and the 
Hermosa shawlette pattern, a kit that I purchased from the Fiber Gallery

4. The Hotel Murano. Take a look at the photos below. Need I say more?

5. Friends. It is always fun to meet up with new friends, like designer Elizabeth Doherty, whom I first met at Sock Summit last summer. On Thursday, Nancy and I had lunch with Elizabeth and another knitter (whose name I forget, unfortunately), and we were able to see Elizabeth's latest pattern, the Ebbtide shawl, up close. It's beautiful, and is on my list to knit very soon.

Madrona also provides a chance to hang out with my long-time friends from Ravelry who don't live locally. This year I shared a room with my dear friend, Angela, who came up on the train from Portland. On Friday night, our Minnesota friend, Sarah, who was in town visiting her parents, came to shop in the market with her two sisters, and they then joined Nancy, Angela, Nancy's friend Michelle and me for a wonderful Japanese dinner. The photo below isn't the greatest, but I think you can tell that we had a great time!

As always, Madrona was over much too soon, and I'm already looking forward to next year. If you have never attended, think about Madrona 2013—I'd love to see you there!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #4: Along the Centennial Trail

 About a year-and-a-half ago, Mr. D and I walked on the Centennial Trail from the Pilchuck Trailhead to Machias Station and back, a distance of about 6.4 miles. It was a pleasant, sunny day, and we have talked about that walk quite a bit since then, and have wanted to go back. On February 3, a day that was also very sunny, but cold, we did just that. This time, we started at Machias Staion and walked to Lake Stevens and back, 6.5 miles.

Did I mention cold? It was very cold—in the low 30s Fahrenheit—when we started. It was so cold that the puddles on the side of the trail looked like this:

As we walked, we warmed up, and the temperature rose, too, so at the end of our walk it was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. What had been frozen earlier was now steaming:

As we followed the course of the meandering Pilchuck River, we enjoyed the sights and sounds along the way. (I wish I could share the sounds of the roosters crowing that we heard more than once.) Even though I don't have the sounds, I can share some of what we saw on the trail.

There were intriguing shadows:

A falling-down house that must have been beautiful in its better days:

Lichen beauty in the woods along the trail:

And finally, a glimpse of the mountains.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #3: Edmonds to Perrinville Again (But in Winter)

I can already hear you saying, "But she's already walked to Perrinville..." That's true, but Mr. D. and I decided that we would do this walk once in each season, and since the last time we walked to Perrinville was in November, we were due for the winter walk. This approximately five-mile walk is also fairly close to home, so it's great for days when there are other activities on the calendar.

The day (Saturday, January 28) was cold and cloudy, so we set off at a brisk pace, and after about ten minutes passed over this little stream that runs under the road and downhill in the direction of Puget Sound.

We passed by neighborhoods with interesting signs and names:

We observed the varied colors of plants in wintertime:

Best of all, even though the weather was cold and raw, there were signs of spring.

We take a break in Perrinville at a little coffee place, where we usually share a large chai. I was so happy to have something warm to drink after being out in the cold, that it didn't occur to me to take a photo there, but next time I will.

We'll be back in Perrinville sometime in the spring; I'll meet you there!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snow Days

It started with just a dusting, but over the next few days, it developed into a real winter storm. Here are some of the scenes from our rare Seattle snowstorm.