Sunday, January 26, 2014

Knitting in a Winter Wonderland

Have you been wondering where I've been? I've been absent from the blog for a couple weeks for a good reason: last weekend I attended the Knitajourney Mid-winter Retreat in Duluth, Minnesota. I know, I know, I can hear you already: "Minnesota in the winter? Are you crazy?" But I love Minnesota in all seasons. I spent 18 years and many Christmases and vacations of my life there, and in many ways I still consider it home. As a result, going there in the winter isn't as awful as it sounds.

That being said, it was pretty darn cold, and there was a lot of snow! This is the view from the second floor of the retreat house.

But the truth is that when you spend time in a cozy and beautiful house with a group of knitting friends, the cold doesn't really matter. This is our wonderful retreat house:

Here is the room I stayed in, and what I found next to my bed:

We ate very well:

Some of us went on a walk along the creek in the snow.

We went on a yarn crawl to two area yarn stores. One of them, Playing With Yarn, had more yarn per square foot than just about any yarn store I've ever been in. It also had a spectacular view of Lake Superior.

Mostly, what we did was knit and talk and enjoy the warmth of the fire and of our friendship.

Many thanks to Susan, Alison, Betsy, Laurie, Ceci, Ellen, Lisa and Lisa. You made the weekend perfect. Let's do it again next year!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Annual Goals, the 2014 Edition

Well, here I am, with the third annual goals post. This year, all of my goals are knitting-related. "What?" I can hear you asking, "No photography goals, no reading goals, no hiking goals?" That is correct, and I'll tell you why: I did such a great job with those goals last year, that I'm giving myself the year off. In 2013, I completed a photo-a-day challenge, I read 52 books, and I did 22 weekly hikes. I also accomplished my long-standing goal of walking a half-marathon. Giving myself a pass on these types of goals in 2014 does not mean that I won't be taking photographs, reading or hiking, but it does mean that I am going to be more relaxed about doing those things. You can expect to see my photography here on the blog, and I will definitely feature weekly hikes in the summer. Who knows, I might even have an occasional book review here, too.

So, let's get down to the knitting goals:

1. Continue to finish or frog those long-standing UFOs and lingering WIPs.

I did fairly well on this goal in 2013. I finished two UFOs, one from 2011 and the other from 2012, and I frogged a project from 2011. I still have one UFO from 2009, one from 2011, and a couple lingering WIPs from 2013 that need to be dealt with. I hope that these will all be wrapped up in one way or another in the first three months of the year.

2. Knit from my stash as much as possible, and buy less yarn than last year.

This goal is on my list every year, and every year I say that I did a little better on this than the year before. I'm saying the same thing this year, but I'm hoping that at this time next year I'll have a significantly smaller stash.

3. Knit down my stash of self-patterning and self-striping yarn.

This goal shouldn't be too hard to accomplish. I have about 13 of these yarns currently in my stash, and I almost always have a plain vanilla sock in a self-striping or self-patterning yarn on the needles. Back in November, I got the idea that it would be more fun to knit with these yarns if the choice was random. So I wrote each yarn name and colorway on a slip of paper and had Mr. D draw one out of a hat. I just finished that first pair of socks two days ago:

Mr. D has already randomly selected the yarn for the next pair, and I'll be casting it on soon. Watch for more of these FOs on the blog in the coming year.

4. Knit projects with the gift yarn in my stash and the gift patterns and books in my library.

I am embarrassed to admit that I have received many skeins of yarn as gifts over the past six years and I've knit with almost none of it. This year, that is going to change. I have done a little better with knitting gift patterns: this past year I knit two of the three patterns I received as gifts from Ravelry friends last Christmas. But I am also counting the patterns in books I have received as gifts, and if you include all those patterns, I'm not doing well at all. Stay tuned to see if I can change that in the coming year.

How about you? What are your goals for the year? Whatever they are, I hope your New Year is a happy and healthy one!