Monday, November 25, 2019

Autumn in the Garden (with Birds)

This has been a particularly colorful autumn in the Northwest this year, due in part to a slightly cooler and wetter summer than we normally have. As a result, the Japanese maples in my garden—both tree and shrub—exploded with color:

Here is a closeup of the tree's foliage, just as it was beginning to turn:

The Japanese maples weren't the only colorful trees. I love how the Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood tree) displays yellow, green and even a bit of red foliage, while also hanging on to its summer flowers, even in November.

The cotoneaster that is right outside the dining room window also turned a bright and cheerful red, especially the berries, which made a robin very happy.

I love watching the robins, but my favorite garden visitor, by far, was this little female Anna's hummingbird, that perched for several minutes on a bare branch of the Japanese maple on a cold,  wet day last week.

Now the leaves are mostly gone, and the weather is getting colder. I'm turning more to inside pursuits, like knitting, and gearing up for the holiday season. I'll share some of those activities in my next post, which you can look for around the winter solstice.

Friday, August 30, 2019

To Post or Not to Post (And Books)

So it's been almost five months since I've posted here on the blog. I started writing a post about colorwork toward the end of May, but only wrote one sentence because I just wasn't feeling it. Since then, I've been pondering if I want to continue writing the blog. I finally decided that, at least for now, I do. With that decision made, I plan to write shorter posts highlighting my recent knitting, activities, events and travel, and to not try too hard to stick to a schedule.

So for today, I'm highlighting some of the books I've read this summer. Here goes!

Best Nonfiction Book

Wow, absolutely riveting! Carreyrou follows the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos, that promised a scientific/health advance that it couldn't deliver. It is the perfect companion piece to the podcast, The Dropout, and the HBO documentary, The Inventor. I recommend all three.

Most Fun Book

A month-by-month illustrated journal of a year the author spent in a small Connecticut village on the Long Island Sound. Her musings are focused on life, nature, clothing, village events, weather, and a variety of other topics. The illustrations and Swift's writing are delightful! Recommended!

Best Fiction Book

What a fantastic, fantastic book! 

Marlantes tells the interweaving stories of Finnish immigrants in southwest Washington state from the early years of the Twentieth Century to the 1930s. His characters are loosely based on the beings in ancient Finnish myths that were collected into The Kalevala in the 1830s. This may sound a little Lord of the Rings-ish, but the plot plays out in logging camps, farms, canneries and fishing boats, as well as during the labor struggles and strikes of the period.

If you love a good story, filled with passionate, flawed, and engaging characters, get yourself to your local indie bookstore or library and get this book. You won't be sorry.

I am fortunate to live just five minutes away from Third Place Books, where I attended Karl Marlantes' kick-off to his book tour on July 9, 2019. He is as fascinating in person as his characters are on the page.

Best Audiobook

Imagine a mixture of a sex, drugs and rock and roll memoir and the musical Jersey Boys, minus the music, and you have this novel. I loved it, and I can't imagine reading it in any other way than as an audiobook. The entire cast was fantastic, and Julia Whelan, one of my favorite narrators, tied it all together. Highly recommended!

So, what have you been reading? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

From Snow Knitting to Spring Knitting

In my last post (almost a month ago!) I promised to share some of the projects that I was working on during the February Snowpocalypse. Now that we are almost two months removed from all that snow, I have a few other projects to show you, too.

First, the snow knitting:

This is the Rowhouse Hat that I showed you in progress in the last post. I loved knitting the pattern, but I made the mistake of choosing the wrong size. It is pretty snug on me, so I will save it to give to someone with a smaller head than mine. Next time (and there will be a next time), I'll knit the medium.

I also did a bit of charity knitting during  the Snowpocalyse.

Can you guess what I was knitting?

Here is the finished project: Mother Bear #15. I gave her to the Mother Bear Project at Stitches West in late February.

Another snow knitting project were these Woodacres Mittens. They were put to good use almost immediately, because even though the snow stopped falling, it stayed cold for several weeks.

The cold made for good knitting weather, so I cast on a shawl, some socks and a cowl.

My Aloft Shawlette has not made much progress beyond what you see here, but I anticipate that I will be picking it up again soon.

The socks are the Shell Cottage Socks, the first pattern in Helen Stewart's second year of the Handmade Sock Society. I knit four of the six patterns from the first year, and they are among my favorite socks ever; so pretty and they fit so well! I photographed the socks a few days ago with the project bag that Mr. D gave me for my birthday. It depicts the bridges and skyline along the Mississippi River in my hometown of Minneapolis. 

Finally, the cowl. I knit the Bluet Cowl for the second time (the first one was a gift), in a gorgeous purple yarn that I got in Colorado almost four years ago. High time that I knit with it, don't you think? 

I have other projects still on the needles, but with a road trip and the NoCKRs retreat coming up, I expect that some of those projects will be finished shortly.

I'll leave you with a little hint of one of those projects, but the reveal will have to wait...

Thursday, March 7, 2019

And it Snowed, and it Snowed and it Snowed...

My last post was of the "isn't the snow pretty" variety, but that got old pretty quickly. Between February 3rd (the snowstorm shown in the last post) and February 12th we had four, count 'em, FOUR snowstorms roll through the Puget Sound region.

At first it was fun. Mr. D and I went snowshoeing:

We went for walks to  the post office with a side trip to a cafe, wearing our Yaktrax on our feet.

As the temperature dropped, we observed ice in its various forms and locations:

But mostly, we just watched as the snow just kept coming down, and then cleaned up when it was all over.

There was one benefit from being snowed in for more than a week: lots of knitting time. Here's a sneak peek at one of the projects I worked on, and I'll be back with some of my snow knitting projects (and others) very soon.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Snow in Seattle

It started yesterday afternoon...

The temperature had dropped from about 41 degrees at noon to 32 degrees less than two hours later, and around that time the snow began.

Then it snowed, and snowed and snowed, and this morning that same little Japanese Maple looked like this:

Mr. D and I went for a walk this morning and enjoyed the silence and quiet beauty of a snowy morning.

Happy Winter!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Seeking Scandinavia: Knitting and Yarn

I'm sure that you won't be surprised to learn that I was looking forward to exploring the knitting and yarn-y culture of Scandinavia on our trip last June. All three of the countries we visited have strong knitting traditions, and I saw evidence of those traditions in all three countries. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos with knitting/knitwear themes from Sweden, but I did visit a yarn store in Stockholm, which felt a lot like some of the yarn stores I've been to in the United States: many wonderful yarns, beautiful samples and a welcoming atmosphere.

I while I didn't get any knitwear photos in Sweden, I did get this photograph:

This is a Gute ram that I spotted at Skansen, a wonderful folk museum in Stockholm. Gute sheep are an early Swedish breed, native to the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

After Stockholm, we took a train to Copenhagen, and I made up for my lack of photos in Sweden in a big way by visiting Woolstock, a knitting and embroidery cafe.

A bit of backstory here: a few months before our trip I came across a post about Woolstock on Ravelry that included a link to the cafe's Instagram feed. At that time (around the end of February/early March), the owner, Louise, had completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and had just located a space to rent. I started following her progress on Instagram, and it turned out that Woolstock opened the weekend before we arrived in Copenhagen. Of course, I had to go visit, so on a Sunday afternoon, after spending the morning in the Danish National Design Museum, Mr. D and I found our way there for lunch. What a special experience! Louise was so warm and welcoming, our lunch was delicious, and the cafe was delightful. Here's a little photo tour:

Danish yarn was purchased, of course, and here it is, along with my official Woolstock bag, which I'm also holding in the photo with Louise, above.

If you would like to get a bit more of the flavor of Woolstock, Kristy Glass visited Woolstock about two months after I did and she did a video of the cafe for her YouTube channel. You can view the video here.  (By the way, this is probably the only time that I will ever experience something in the knitting world  before Kristy Glass does!)

Woolstock was definitely the yarn-y highlight of the whole trip, but I did find a bit more knitting and yarn when we moved on to Norway. First, in Oslo, at the Norsk Folkemuseum, I saw some beautiful knitwear—traditional Norwegian sweaters, like this one:

In Bergen, I went to a yarn store, Norwegian Spirit, that was conveniently located in the train station. I didn't take any photos there, but I did buy some yarn.

The two yarns on the left are from the Norwegian indie dyer, Garnsurr. The owner trains refugees to dye her yarn, and in the process, teaches them to speak Norwegian. This was a wonderful cause to support, and the yarn is gorgeous! Tweedy Todd is also a Norwegian indie dyer, and this colorway really spoke to me—definitely my color!

I haven't knit with any of these yarns yet, but when I do, I'll share my projects with you here on the blog, and on Ravelry, too. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Where Have You Been?

You may—or may not—have noticed that posts from me have been missing for several months, and you may have been wondering where I was. I'm still here, knitting, taking photographs and living my normal life, but I had to take a break to deal with a somewhat serious health issue. Happily, that issue is mostly resolved, I'm feeling great, and the new year seemed like a good time to pick up the blog again.

In previous years, I've come up with a number of goals for the year, but this year, there is only one: write regular posts on my blog. I'm not sure what "regular" means, but for now I'm going to say at least once a month.

I have definitely been knitting over the past four months, so I'll show you a couple recent finished projects.

This is my Poncho Adventures in Laceland (link is to my Ravelry project page). The pattern is the Silk Road Wrap, designed by my friend, Kate. I cast this on over two years ago. I would work on it a bit and then put it in time out for longer than a bit. A few weeks ago, I got serious about working on it and I realized I was more than half finished, so I got busy and FINALLY finished it on New Year's Eve. It's already among my favorite projects ever, so it was definitely worth the 26-month wait.

Below is my In Memory of Dolphins, the Dancing Dolphins Hat, by Sonja Launspac Kunstwerk Designs. This project did not hang around for two years. It did hang around for a couple months, but the colorwork was completed in less than three weeks. It was a Christmas gift for my cousin, who has a special connection to dolphins.

I'm especially pleased with how even my floats are!
That's it from me for today, but I will be back soon. Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!