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.