Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017: The Photos That Didn't Make the Cut

Here we are, almost at the end of 2017, and I have managed to post a Photo of the Month for every month through November. For December, I'm doing something a little different. In most months, there were several photos worthy of being featured on the blog, but they didn't quite make the cut. To finish the year, I want to give some of those photos their moment. Here they are. Enjoy!

Silhouettes at Dawn: The view out my window on January 2nd.

Halfway There: The fun of knitting socks from a sock blank.

Democracy in Action: Mr. D and I attended a town meeting with our dynamic new Congresswoman, Representative Pramila Jayapal. So inspiring!

Neighborhood Jogger: A missing ewe on the lam(b).

Marching for Science: Suffragettes in vintage costumes at the Seattle March for Science.

A Line in the Sky: Clouds at Sunset 

Evidence of Rain: After a very brief shower during a long, dry summer 

Bench at the End of the Path: At the Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Sand, Sea, Clouds, Mountains: The view from the Dungeness Spit near Sequim, Washington.

View to the Bridge: The Golden Ears Bridge, near Vancouver, British Columbia.

Boo!: A scary ghost, spotted in my neighborhood.

Autumn Colors with a Dusting of White: The Japanese Maple in my garden during a surprise 
early November snowfall.

Mid-Morning Treat: The treat is not only the chai, coffee and pastries, but a catch-up 
chat with a friend.

Happy New Year! I'll be back in 2018 with more photos, knitting, and travel adventures. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Photos of the Month: Following a Year-Long Project

I could start this post with what actually is the photo of the month, but instead, I'm going to put that photo at the end, and trace the progress of a knitting project across almost the whole of 2017.

The project started in early February with a big ol' pile of yarn. Most of the yarn was purchased with a 2016 birthday gift certificate, so thanks are due to Nancy, Jan and Pat for their generous gift.

I cast on Jared Flood's pattern, Grettir, on February 10th and by early March, I had the start of two sleeves:

In mid-March, the sleeves had grown some.

A week later, the sleeves were finished and I cast on the body of the sweater.

Almost two months passed, mostly filled with knitting on other projects, but in mid-May, I finally reached the colorwork.

It turns out that I like colorwork a lot more than plain stockinette, so the yoke progressed quickly from this point, despite the addition of many more stitches when I joined the sleeves to the body.

And not long after the colorwork was finished, so was the whole sweater.
Except it wasn't...

Over two months passed, with no activity on this project, but finally, on September first, this happened:
Yep, that is me, cutting a steek. But first, my dear friend, Martha, reinforced the stitches on either side of the steek on her sewing machine. She also basted the edges of the five stitches added for the steek—that's the white yarn you see in the photo.

There was still more that needed to be done to turn the sweater into a cardigan, but first, I just had to try it on.
And it fit!

Next, I followed that white yarn that Martha put in on either side of the steek stitches and picked up stitches for the button band.

After getting the button band knitted, I practiced the two-row buttonhole technique—from Anne Hanson's excellent Craftsy class, Button Bands and Buttonholes—on a swatch, and I even sewed  buttons on that swatch. I opted for a slightly narrower button band than the one on my swatch, a great reason to swatch before knitting the real thing on your sweater. Here is a photo showing my swatch and two of my buttons. I purchased six of them three years ago at Danforth Pewter in Middlebury, Vermont. I've been waiting for just the perfect project to use them.

Finally, in November, I sewed on the last button, sewed ribbon onto the inside of the button bands to cover the steeked edges, and blocked my cardigan. I even took it with me on our annual Thanksgiving trip to the East Coast., and wore it several times, including on Thanksgiving, when Dave took this photo of me.

If you would like more details—and more photos—follow the link to my project page on Ravelry:  Colorwork Challenge Cardigan.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yarn Dying Experiments

I have always wanted to play with yarn dying, and in the last few months, with the help of my friends, Melissa and Kate, I've had two opportunities to do just that.

The first dye day was with Melissa in July. I brought three yarns I wanted to experiment with.

The first one was a free skein of lace weight that I got with a Knit Picks order, and it looks better in the photograph than it did in real life. The color reminded me of dirty dishwater—probably why they were giving it away for free—so any other color would be an improvement.

Here's what the yarn looked like after a dip in the dye bath. Much better, right? I call this colorway Radish.

The second yarn, a skein of Beaverslide Dry Goods 2-ply sport weight that was a KAL prize, was a much prettier shade of cream.

But I don't wear that color much, so we dyed the skein blue.

The last skein of yarn, a wool-silk blend that I got in a swap, was a nice light green.

While this colorway was certainly pretty, I wanted a deeper green. This was my first try at over-dyeing it:

It was better, but not quite what I had in mind. Melissa thought the silk content probably took the dye differently and muted the color. So we tried again a couple months later, using much more dye to make a deep green.

As you can see, that good long soak in green dye turned out a spectacular deep green skein.

Kate joined us at our second dye day in September, and the three of us each dyed a sock blank. We had such a fun time, and I love the final result!

Here is what the sock blank looks like knit up:

While two times don't make me an expert or an indie dyer, I may have to try some more yarn dying experiments sometime soon, and I'll share the results when I do.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

October Photo of the Month: Doughnuts or Socks?

Nope, I couldn't just pick one photo of the month for October.

The first photo of the month happened on October 1st, when I was with my friends, sisters Melissa and Kate, in the village of Deep Cove, which is near Kate's home in North Vancouver, BC. They kept talking all weekend about Honey's and their fantastic doughnuts, and on Sunday morning we braved the crowd—a line out the door—and got Honey's signature maple frosted doughnuts and coffee. YUM! Absolutely the best doughnut I have ever eaten! I managed to snap a photo with my phone before I ate every last crumb.

I took the second photo of the month at home, right after I finished knitting my latest pair of socks. I cast on the socks back in July, when I needed a pair for car knitting and it only dawned on me in mid-October that the Intrepid Otter colorway, Acid Dreams, would make great Halloween socks. Fortunately, I finished knitting them on October 28th, just in time for the pumpkin carving party that we go to every year.

There has been quite a bit of knitting and other fiber adventures happening in my life lately, and I have been remiss in not sharing them with you. But that is about to change; I promise to be back with a new post in the next few days.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

September Photo of the Month: The View from the Top

Isn't this view spectacular? I hiked to the  top of Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park. I was looking north, at 5,700 feet. You can see Unicorn Peak, the city of Port Angeles, Washington, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and on the far shore, Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria, British Columbia. I took this photo with my iPhone.

Monday, September 25, 2017

August Photos of the Month: Spiced Plum Butter!

I couldn't just post one photo for August. There were many exciting events during the month, especially the eclipse—which was at 92 per cent of totality here in Seattle—but the most exciting event for me was learning to make Pflaumenmus, otherwise known as spiced plum butter. I came across the recipe last year, when I read Luisa Weis' delightful book, My Berlin Kitchen. The recipe is also included in her wonderful cookbook, Classic German Baking. I discovered the recipe too late last summer to make it, but this year, when the Italian plums on our tree were ripe, I was ready! You can see some of those delicious plums in the photo above. It is wonderful having a tree that produces fruit so prolifically, but there are always too many to eat ourselves and give away, so this gives us another way to use and enjoy them throughout the year.

I documented the Pflaumenmus process in photos:

Step one: pit and quarter the plums and put them in a large cast iron pan (we used our Dutch oven).

Step two: add sugar, a cinnamon stick and two whole cloves and let sit, covered, overnight.

Step three: bake uncovered for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Step four:  once you take the pan out of the oven, remove the cinnamon stick and the cloves (if you can find them) and use an immersion blender to puree the plum mixture. This was probably the first time that we have used our immersion blender, which was a wedding present 14 years ago!

Step five: fill the jars to the top.

Step six: screw the lids onto the jars tightly, turn upside down and let cool.

Step seven: when the mood strikes, open a jar and spread some plum butter on toast, add to yogurt, put on ice cream, or come up with your own tasty use for it. Here is what I did:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

July Photo of the Month: Infinity Mirrors

My favorite photo of the month didn't happen until the very last day of July, when I went with my friend, Stephanie, to the Yayoi Kusama exhibit, Infinity Mirrors at the Seattle Art Museum. The whole exhibit was mind-blowingly amazing, and I took several photos of the wonders I saw. This photo is my favorite.

The exhibit is in Seattle until September 10. It will be in Los Angeles this fall, and then in Toronto, Cleveland and Atlanta in 2018. If you live near any of these cities, don't miss it!