Monday, August 20, 2018

Seeking Scandinavia: Stockholm

Wow, have I been missing from the blog! No excuses, but first it was three weeks of travel, and then it was just the stuff of life happening.

But I mentioned travel, didn't I? In June, Mr. D and I celebrated our 15th anniversary with a trip to Scandinavia. Our first stop (and the last stop, too) was Stockholm, a beautiful city, built on islands and surrounded by water.

Stockholm is a very old city, and we explored a neighborhood that existed long before America was even settled.

Let's start with some really old buildings:

These two buildings are located in Gamla Stan, Stockholm's Old Town. The building on the left, Ribbinska Huset, was built to commemorate the Swedish citizens, priests and noblemen who were massacred by the king of Denmark in 1520. Each of the white squares in the façade of the building represents one of the people who were killed. A pretty building with a pretty grisly story...

In the city center of Stockholm is a pretty little park, Kunsträdgården (King's Garden), where the statue of King Karl XII (1682-1718) looks over all. He is a favorite of the birds, as you can see.

We were lucky enough to have our time in Stockholm coincide with our friends' visit with their daughter, who lives there and is getting her Master's Degree at the University of Stockholm. We spent an enjoyable morning with the three of them exploring the Sodermalm neighborhood. Sodermalm was once a working class neighborhood, and has been popularized by Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It is a mixture old buildings and new growth, as you can see in this photo:

We also discovered that there is still plenty of Old Stockholm in this picturesque neighborhood:

Every visitor to Stockholm has to get out on the water at least once. We did this by taking an afternoon cruise through the Stockholm Archipelago, passing by hundreds, if not thousands, of islands in just three hours. The sights included an amusement park, sailboats, and a typical weekend cabin, painted "Swedish Red".

All of our exploring meant that we got hungry, a little foot-sore and we needed a break occasionally. When this happened, we indulged in a wonderful Swedish custom, "fika", which means stopping for a snack and a beverage (usually coffee). We loved making time for fika, and on the day we explored Gamla Stan we "fika-ed" in a 14th century cellar.  You can see our cups of tea, my cinnamon roll and Mr. D's peanut butter brownie. A delightful way to end an afternoon of exploration in Stockholm!

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Clouds of Spring

May and June are months where we see a lot of clouds. Sometimes, it's just the unending "May Gray," or "June Gloom." More often, we have cloudy mornings with "sun breaks" in the afternoon. When there are sun breaks, there are often fluffy/puffy cloudscapes, illuminated by the sun. Here is a sampling:

Spring clouds can also be dramatic, especially at sunset.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Done, and on to Adventure #3!

So this got finished last week:

As you may remember from this post, the yarn and pattern for this shawl (Martina Behm's Lintilla, knit in Wollmeise) were pulled randomly from this bag:

Today I pulled the canvas bag out again.

I picked this brown bag:

This is what I found inside:
I have a number of other projects going on, as well as a big non-knitting adventure coming up, so I'm giving myself most of the summer to finish this shawl. Watch this space in August for more on this particular adventure.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Better Late than Never

Just a quick post to show off my latest finished garment, the Shoreline Vest.

I really fell for this pattern when it was published in late 2015 in Carrie Bostick Hoge's Swoon Maine. I bought the book at Stitches West in February 2016, and within a week purchased the yarn used in the pattern, Peace Fleece DK/sport, and cast on. I worked on the vest pretty steadily for a couple months, and then intermittently for several months after that. Then shortly before Christmas 2016, I put the project bag in the back of the closet and promised myself I would pull it out after the holidays.  Surprise, surprise that didn't happen. I would think about it every now and then, but some other project always seemed more urgent.

Fast forward to late March of this year. I was looking at the "Friend Activity" tab in Ravelry and noticed that one of my retreat friends, Dagmar, had finished the same pattern in a very similar color yarn to mine. It looked so nice on her that it got me thinking about that vest hiding in the back of my closet. I pulled it out, and within about ten days, and with probably no more than eight hours of knitting, the vest was finished! I really love it, and wore it several times before the weather got too warm for wool vests. I know it will get a lot of wear next fall and winter.

The lesson in all this is that I should just power through my project when I hit the doldrums, because inevitably I'll love the finished object when I'm done. You will discover soon that I haven't learned this lesson completely as yet. There will be more to come on this topic in the coming months, I promise.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Snow in Spring

It seems like much of the Midwest and East Coast has suffered through a lot of snow since the calendar turned over to spring. Here in Seattle, that has not been the case. With the exception of three warm and sunny days last week, it's been rain, rain, rain for almost the whole past month.

Despite the fact that rain is the most common form of springtime precipitation here, spring snow has been known to occur.

The most recent instance was this year, on March 23rd. The morning started out very cold, the sky was heavy with gray clouds, and for a couple of hours this happened:

In 2013, a snow squall blew through on March 22nd, two days after the spring equinox.

Those poor daffodils!

But the latest spring snow, by far, was in 2008, on April 18th:

The storm struck at dusk, and the rhododendron outside my front door—and the street beyond—was covered in that cold, white stuff.

Fortunately, there are less than 24 hours left in the month of April, so I think we are safe from any more spring snow this year. At least, I hope so...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Adventure #2: Inside the First Brown Bag

Remember these?

On April 4th, I reached in and chose a bag.

Inside the bag I found this:

Two weeks later, while on vacation in California, I cast on.  Here is my progress to date:

The yarn is Wollmeise Pure, and the pattern is Lintilla, designed by Martina Behm. I am hoping to work on this a bit each day, and I'm targeting finishing around June 1st. 

More to come...

Friday, March 30, 2018

Weather from the Air

One of the best places to observe the weather is from an airplane. Last month, I was able to photograph some spectacular land- and cityscapes from the air, on a flight from Detroit to Seattle. Two of these photos show the effects of the winter weather, as well as the geographical features of the landscape. The third photo provides a peek through the clouds at the city of Seattle below.

Blue Horizon: somewhere over eastern North Dakota

Relief Map: a river and the surrounding rough terrain, somewhere over Montana  

Beneath the Clouds: Downtown Seattle and Elliott Bay

Friday, March 9, 2018

Of Stitches West Market Hauls

February usually means Madrona and Stitches West, but this year, Stitches was the only event of the two that I attended. I always share my Stitches purchases on the blog, so here is what I bought in the market this year (clockwise from top left in the photo below): a project bag from Front Range bags, a ball of Valley Superwash from WEBS (for Mother Bear clothing), a sock blank from Leading Men Fiber Arts, two balls of Valley Yarns Greylock (one hundred per cent cashmere fingering weight yarn), a Mother Bear ornament (unfortunately backwards in the photo so you can't see its little heart-shaped button) and the book and accompanying Ravelry download, I Knit New York. 

I can almost see your shocked face and hear you saying,"What? That's all?" Yes, that is really all. I guess I wasn't breathing in enough yarn fumes this year, although I've never really bought a huge amount of yarn any of the times I've gone to Stitches West. For comparison, here are some photos of purchases from previous years. This was my haul in 2017:

And here is my haul from 2015 (for some reason I don't have a photo from 2016):

And here's 2014:
The embarrassing thing about all three of these photos is how few of the yarns I've actually knit. From 2014, I've knit two of the skeins shown and from 2015, I've knit one and gave one as a gift. The 2017 haul is the most embarrassing of all, because I have knit exactly none of those skeins. So my conclusion from this review of my purchases is that it is probably a very good thing I didn't buy much this year! I'm going to try to make a dent in these yarns over the next several months, so that maybe, just maybe, I won't have all of them hanging around in my stash when Stitches West rolls around again next year.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Adventure #1: Colorwork Socks

I'm sure you have been waiting with anticipation for my first "Word of the Year" Adventure, and I am finally going to end the suspense and tell you about my first knitting adventure of 2018.

As you know, I love, love, love knitting socks. You may or may not know that I also love knitting colorwork. Surprisingly, I have never combined these two loves into a pair of colorwork socks. That changed about a month ago, when I cast on Bonnie Sennott's Rowhouse Socks. This fun pattern has just enough colorwork for someone who hasn't done stranded knitting on such a small circumference before, but also has a motif that is eye-catching. I knit my socks in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in main color Crescent (one of my absolute favorites Hazel Knits colorways) and contrast colors Flicker and Conch. You can view the details of my project here.

I had so much fun knitting these socks that a future adventure may be to knit a pair of socks entirely in colorwork. I have had my eye on this pattern for years, but I'm open to suggestions. Do you have a favorite colorwork pattern to recommend? If so, please share in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Weather Photography in January: Cold Seat and Golden Rays

Welcome to the first of my (I hope monthly) weather photography posts for this year.

No, this is not Seattle. I took this photo at a rest stop on the road to Duluth for the annual Knitajourney retreat. It was cold, snowing, and the roads were terrible, but we made a quick stop and I took this photo out the window. While the view was quiet and beautiful, I wouldn't want to sit on that bench!

This isn't Seattle, either. It is a lot closer to home, however. Last week, we went with friends to the Washington coast for two days at Pacific Beach. I was lucky to catch the last rays of the sun as it disappeared behind the clouds. Spectacular!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Word and Weather

January is almost over, and here I am, writing my first post of the not-so-new year. No excuses; I just didn't get around to it until now.

In previous years, I've started the year with a list of goals for the year, many of which were forgotten almost as soon as I wrote them. Last year, I said I wasn't setting goals for the year, other than to blog more than the previous year. and I did manage to follow through on that, writing 19 posts, compared to 14 in 2016.

This year, while I certainly would like to increase the number of blog posts again, I am not going to promise that it will happen. I'm also not going to come up with a list of goals, either. Instead, I have come up with a word that I want to represent my year, and that word is Adventure. So what do I mean when I say adventure? It is a broad enough word that it can cover a lot of different areas of my life—adventure in knitting, photography, travel, reading, hiking, and so on. I'm not sure how the word adventure will play out in my life this year, but not knowing is an adventure in itself.

There is one knitting adventure that should start happening later this winter:
That's a canvas bag crammed full of six shawl projects, hidden in identical brown paper bags. When I finish my current shawl project—sometime in February, I hope—I'll pick one of these bags, discover which yarn and pattern are inside, and cast on immediately. I got the idea for this from the many knitters that have brown-bagged their sock projects to randomly pick throughout the year. While you probably know by now that I love knitting socks, I chose shawls because I have so many shawls that are already queued and linked to stash yarns, and I'd like to get some of them actually knitted. Stay tuned to the blog this year to watch it happen.

The other year-long project that I want to focus on relates to my photography. This past year, I blogged about a photo each month, either a favorite photo or one that represented an activity from that month that I wanted to highlight. I enjoy doing a monthly photo post, but this year, I want to focus on photographs depicting the weather. My father was a meteorologist, and he brought me up to appreciate all kinds of weather phenomena. In addition, I often use my camera to document the very changeable weather conditions that we experience here in Seattle, as well as weather events that I observe during my travels. If you are a weather geek like me, you know this will be fun!