National Sibling Day

The Howling - 1982

Per posts on Facebook today, I can see that it is National Sibling Day!

This was Christmas 1982 at Grandma & Grandpa's. Not only does the photo crack me up every single time I see it, but Mom's caption, "The Howling," is icing on the cake. Photo time has always been angsty in our family, but it was usually Sharon feeling it the most!!


Oversized vs. Too Big

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I soaked the pieces for Junebug's sweater yesterday morning! And, darn it, distraction led them to being soaked a bit too long and possibly in water that was a bit too warm, so a little bleeding occurred -- not bad, but there; hopefully less noticeable when dry.

Anyway, HOLY COW! I pinned out the pieces and it's HUGE! I wanted to knit this sweater a bit oversized but this might fit him through 3rd grade. I swatched/measured early on and was pretty right on; and it didn't seem too big while I was knitting... at least until I got to the back.

The front is in two pieces, and I saw no red flags. The sleeves are very roomy, but he's got big baby muscles; still, I may end up recalculating and re-knitting the upper. The back... I kept holding it up and measuring and somehow convinced myself that it wasn't as big as it looked? I don't know. He's always fluctuating size-wise in my mind's eye; sometimes he's huge and sometimes still so very wee. Anyway, this sweater will fit at some point. The worst thing right now is that I might have to knit some more!

Guess what? I like to knit!

I am completely flipping out over those awesome "Electric Revolution" Vesper Sock Yarn stripes, though. They make me so happy!


Cleaning Windows

As promised/scheduled, I returned to the site of Kate's inaugural Young Space pop-up show today to finish cleaning windows. I'd done all of the entry/vestibule windows on the weekend, saving the more important front for last, inside and out.

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Cleaning windows generally isn't my thing, but let me tell you what a difference the right tools can make!! Have you ever seen a pro work? I spent an inordinate amount of time considering and selecting window-cleaning equipment on Saturday, settling on an Unger Pro 14-Inch Window Scrubber, a 16" Squeegee, a big bucket, and some paper towels. I used an old cleaning recipe: 1/2 c. rubbing alcohol, 1/8 c. ammonia, 1/4 t. dish soap, and enough water to make 1 quart.

  

I certainly was sloppy and I got a little wet, but it went pretty quick and was relatively painless. At one point I tried to use an extension pole that the girls were using to paint, but didn't realize that Unger has a dedicated system... and I managed just fine without!

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Sparkle, shine, and reflect!! It's all coming together.

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And artwork continues to arrive... this one delivered today from Greece!


This is how you start a great week

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Yesterday, I came home to find my birthday present from Rusty... exactly 5 months to-the-day later!! Pre-ordered back in late October, I have been patiently awaiting -- and recently stalking via USPS Tracking -- the arrival of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns!!

Natalie Chanin will be giving a lecture + book signing later this month at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and I've been trying to figure out a way to go! At 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night, it pretty much means an extra day off of work and an overnighter. So tempted...

Also in yesterday's mail was my first-ever order from Three Irish Girls -- I fell hard last month for A Hundred Thousand Welcomes. No plan yet.

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I was at the coffee shop this morning, as I am every morning, when my phone rang. The upshot of that call is that I had an extra hour before needing to be at work, so I took a seat at the back and had a nice hour of knitting and listening to the hubbub. The mostly all-male kaffeklatsch/welcoming committee that occupies the front everyday had a lot to say to each other about basketball this morning! And, indeed, it's a bittersweet morning. The Wisconsin Badgers didn't win the NCAA title this year, but they had an amazing run and even I (not a basketball fan) have been riveted by them during March Madness.


Weekending:

The weekend was full of many of the things I love, starting with a little road trip on Saturday morning to deliver some Make.Do/KC&T flyers to Bleating Heart Haven. There's a Fiber Frolic/Yarn Hop coming up and we weren't on the list! That'll be corrected next year, and in the meantime Cindy generously offered to help spread the word about us. It was a beautiful morning for a drive!

I picked up lunch on my way to Appleton to feed the crew at Young Space. My girls are just like me in the way that when we're all wrapped up in a project, we often forget to eat. Or just don't. It's hard to stop! The entire place got a fresh coat of paint over the weekend, and I cleaned windows. There are more windows to do, and I'm slated for Wednesday.

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 On Saturday night, we ran down to Oshkosh to visit a couple of spots on the Gallery Walk.

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"Interwoven & Twisted" is a wonderful collaborative work by Renee Koch and our friend Pat Filzen at the Art Space Collective. Renee's knit wire pieces reminded me of Ruth Asawa and the beautiful pieces I saw five years ago in San Francisco.

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I spent some time with this guy on Sunday while his mom & dad took advantage of the shop being closed to get some work done. Kate was working at her space. Rusty was drawing. Maddy stayed home... but we had a nice little chat (and she'll be home later this week for Kate's opening).

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We had a blast!

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After Junah left yesterday, I made my first roasted lamb... and it won't be the last. I've made chops, and that's actually what I wanted, but I relied on chance and there were none. I threw some asparagus in the oven, made some salads, popped the cork on some pinot noir, and everyone came back for some dinner!


Friday: Five Fotos

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It was so nice to take a walk around the house the other day -- a gorgeous day -- looking for signs of life! It was even nicer to find some.

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This was my intarsia tangle at last night's knit night! That is not something I do often, nor am I very good at it... though I think this is my best yet. I'm finished with that part now, so it's smooth sailing to the sleeve and neck shaping, then some 3-needle bind-off, a button band/collar, buttons, et voila!

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Meanwhile, the decision has been made and yarn wound up, awaiting release of the first clue for Romi's Mystery Shawl 2015! We're all chomping at the bit!!

Historically, the first clue of a mystery project is quick to complete, so I'm hopeful that I'll be able to devote most of my knitting time to getting Junah's sweater finished.

* * * * *

Re generation

 It's an announcement, not a sixth photo!

I'll be spending some of the weekend helping Kate whip her first YOUNG SPACE pop-up art show into shape for NEXT WEEK'S OPENING!! It's exciting; she's inspiring. So many wonderful things.


Right Now: April is upon us

Watching... Law & Order UK

Reading... Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

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Knitting... Making progress on Junah's Devan! Fronts and sleeves are done, the back was cast on last night. It won't be long!

Looking forward to... Starting Romi's Mystery.

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Drinking... trying to drink more water!

Wearing... Cropped pants and sandals. It's April. It's time. (I need a pedi, though.)

Organizing... Nothing at the moment. I'm thinking that I need a few days off at home -- a long weekend would be nice.

Celebrating... Whoa. This month!! We begin with two cousins' birthdays today, all three of my girls' coming up, an aunt, an uncle, a nephew, and finishing with what would have been my Grampa's 105th.

Listening to... All sorts of things on Spotify. Boxer Rebellions' Winter Jams playlist, the new Decemberists album.

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Itching to... GET OUTSIDE!

Looking forward... still... to GETTING OUTSIDE! And also (still) the new Alabama Chanin book. SOON!

Needing to... Make sure I have everything I need for an indigo dye vat -- specifically, a large enough vessel.

Delighted by... the first crocus of the season, spotted yesterday! They were yellow.

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Thinking about... Wales. And Scotland and England, too, but it was four years ago today that we were in Wales. Lambs on the mound at Bryn Celli Ddu!

What's up with you right now?


Ten on Tuesday: Between two or more slices of bread

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Sandwiches

I don't eat sandwiches as often as I used to... like, hardly ever these days... but I sure do love them and sometimes it's the only thing!

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I began riffing on sandwiches last week when writing about cheese, whereby the Top 4 or 5 were already declared:

1. Philly Cream Cheese & Welch's Grape Jelly. On Wonder Bread, of course!

2. Butter & Honey. Mom would make these sandwiches in the morning and pack it in our school lunches. By lunchtime, the honey would have begun to crystallize along the cut edges. Oh, that was the best thing.

3. Peanut Butter & Banana. I also have fond memories of Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Creme, but am very content to leave that there in the memory department. I have, however, continued the pleasure of PB & Banana to the present day (though quite sparingly).

4. Grilled Cheese. White bread with butter, processed American cheese, grilled just so... oh yum! We didn't eat out often when I was a kid, but when we did I always ordered a grilled cheese sandwich (really hard to screw up)... until I discovered fried shrimp!

5. Ham & Swiss. This is my go-to at any sandwich shop... anywhere, anytime, on anything, with a little mayo and yellow mustard. Perhaps with pickles. I love it on all kinds of bread or as a wrap, but probably my favorite medium for consumption is a toasted bagel (plain, egg, everything).

6. Roast Beef & Provolone... warm, with mushrooms. Otherwise known as #15 at the Deli Sub Pub, favorite lunch stop of my early working days. Man, I loved that sandwich.

7. Fish Sandwich. I love fish and I love sandwiches. I haven't eaten at McDonald's in years*, but when I was a more regular customer I always ordered a fish filet.

8. Turkey & Cream Cheese with Cherry Chutney. On toasted granola bread. Served with dill potato salad and chunky applesauce. It's my favorite sandwich at The Cookery in Door County. I sometimes wish I could broaden my horizons.

9. A Classic Club Sandwich. This was a favorite from my even earlier working days -- my first job on my own in Superior, WI. I can't remember the name of the diner I'd go to, but they made a great club sandwich!

10. Reuben. Mmm, a good and very dark rye bread, just the right amount of corned beef, the tang & texture of (well-drained) sauerkraut, and the sweetness of Russian dressing.

Bonus: 11. Gyros. Also a favorite of the working girl... there was a fantastic Greek restaurant called Karras' that we went to often; oh man, the best Greek food around.

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 *Actually, in desperation, we had McD's at O'Hare on the way back from Mexico; of course, I had a fish filet... and I wish I'd been more disappointed! It certainly wasn't stellar, and I won't be a regular consumer ever again, but it would probably number amongst my guilty pleasures if I ever had to make a list of such things.


Weekending

We've been in a bit of a rut and I've packed on a few pounds... opting for what's easy over what's better will do that.

I took back the kitchen over the weekend, and it felt great!!

I'll probably make a Wedge Salad tonight, too, because the thought popped into my head the other day and it's stuck.

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Work continues on Devan, Junebug's new spring sweater. I made the fix to shoulder/neck shaping, so both fronts are finished, and I knocked off a sleeve over the weekend. The second sleeve was cast on last night, and I discovered that I mis-wound the second ball of self-striping yarn so had to stop and rewind. I should be all set now! I'm beginning to think about a slight variation to the back design!

* * * * *

I also spent some time contemplating color choices for a new shawl. Romi's Mystery Shawl 2015 begins on Friday, and there are two colors. Pictures always seem to help.

Blues

This is a combo that I dyed, and #1 contender for the project.

Indigo-orange

Until this came along. On the left is Sophie's Toe's "Indigo" and on the right, a sherbet-y, salmon-y orange that I recently dyed. It may be reminiscent of school colors to some, but not to me!

Indigo-light blue

Then I paired the indigo with the lighter blue from the first set and I like that, too.

I think it's going to be the middle one, but I have until Thursday night's wind-up to make a final decision!

* * * * *

For the past couple of weeks, I've been accompanying a friend to open houses and real estate showings. She lives in an adorable, historic, little house across from a beautiful park, but she has two young boys (5 & 6) and "little" is not working anymore!

Wow. What an education! Other than the whirlwind house-buying-by-committee expedition that I was on last spring with Rusty, Ali & Annie, it's been a long time since I was house-shopping. My friend, also named Ann, has been looking at homes within a certain school district and price range -- everything from new construction to historic, and a much larger pool to choose from that we had last spring.

One day last week, we were at a house just a few doors down from the first house that my parents ever bought! It was a brand new subdivision, then, and I lived there from 3rd to 7th grade, so a lot of growing up. It was so much fun to be in the old 'hood.

I think we dashed around to at least a half-dozen open houses yesterday and I still had that critical eye when I walked through my own back door! "This house has a really nice kitchen," I thought! I'm also very much inspired to get back on the KonMari horse... and maybe to paint my kitchen! Or something! Clean & fresh!!

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Can you believe we're looking at the last day of March tomorrow?!


Future knitter

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Ali sent me this delightful series last night. That's in the corner of KC&T that houses my hobby shop... and I know he's not the first little kiddo to fondle and rearrange the yarn!!

Have a great weekend!


Progress report

It was all going so well. Here's a photo I took a couple of days ago of the Left Front of Junah's new sweater:

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I finished that and started on the Right Front. Knitting along, as one does; shaping the armhole and start of the V-neck, as one does; continuing the V-neck shaping, as one... WHAT? Argh! I totally missed that line about continuing the neck shaping every fourth row for ten times (or whatever) when knitting the Left. There's a bit of ripping in my future. At least Junah's sweaters are still fairly wee.

SLURP

Last night, for the second time in as many years, Rusty and I went to the high school to SLURP! It's a soup supper fundraiser for a few departments at school, including fine arts. Yum! I was hungry and slurped up all of the Dill Pickle Soup (I got the last of it) before I thought to take a photo. I had Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle, Cream of Potato with Bacon, Homestyle Chicken Noodle, and Tortellini with Spinach. There were many other soups to try, but I was full enough after these five -- and I had even shared some with Ali. KC&T was there to provide coffee and hot cocoa. Rod & Junah showed up, too, and I had a blast following Junah around... it's so fun to observe him in different situations.

Other than the snow (and that's all I'm going to say about it... there was some), it was a really great day off yesterday! Spring will come! I'm knocking things off my list so I'll be able to take advantage of good weather days on the way.


Ten on Tuesday: I'm in a dairy state of mind

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Kinds of Cheese

Not only is Wisconsin America's Dairyland, I live in a city known for cheese! And when I moved for a while to Oregon, I ended up in another city known for cheese!! I can't seem to escape the cheese...

A lot has changed in Wisconsin. The state used to be dotted with tiny independent cheese factories -- and I mean they were everywhere! That's sadly not the case anymore. I miss them!

C is for Cheese Curds

Goat Cheese Curds from Caprine Supreme Creamery, Black Creek, WI

1. Squeaky cheese curds. You can find fresh cheese curds at some farmer markets, every grocery, and even at gas/convenience stores. 

2. Cream cheese. I don't think there's a single thing on earth with cream cheese as an ingredient that I don't like. The one thing that immediately comes to mind, though, is the Philly Cream Cheese & Welch's Grape Jelly sandwich of my youth. Oh, sooo good. I'm sure we only had those in desperation, and if the cupboard was really bare it was a Butter & Honey sandwich in my lunch, but those are still numbers 1 & 2 on my list of favorite sandwiches! (#3 is Peanut Butter & Banana.) (I sense a Ten on Tuesday topic!)

3. Kraft American cheese, but never individually-wrapped singles. I like peeling the layers on a sliced block. I love a good ol' fashioned grilled cheese sandwich -- with tomato soup, of course! This was also the cheese on the bologna sandwiches of yesteryear, as well as many a dinner when paired with saltine crackers! The kids always loved my sister Karen's American Cheese Soup.

4. Cheddar cheese. There was a time when there was always a block of cheddar in our fridge. If the word "cheese" is on the grocery list, it means cheddar! So many varieties...

5. Colby cheese. A very smooth and mild cheese, similar in flavor to cheddar but perhaps a bit softer. A favorite variation is Co-Jack -- a swirled combo of Colby and Monterey Jack.

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6. Mozzarella! In all shapes and sizes. I can adapt. It's the reason I grow tomatoes and basil!

7. Brie & Camembert. Thanks to Mom! A favorite lately is a bit of cherry preserves atop a smudge of brie on a thin cracker. Mmmm.

8. Bleu. Yum... I'm sort of craving a good Wedge Salad right now.

9. Swiss & Provolone. Different cheeses, but sandwich favorites for numbers 4 & 5 on my list: Ham & Swiss and Roast Beef & Provolone.

10. Limburger. (On occasion.) Thanks to Grandpa Blum!

Cream of Spinach Soup

Grated Parmesan finishes Cream of Spinach Soup.

I could go on and on. Cheese!

And this just in: As Far As Cheese Goes, We're Still America's Dairyland


Mama says, "Baby needs a new sweater!"

Junebug needs a lightweight sweater for spring. Ali thought she might still be able to squeeze him into the Garter Yoke Baby Cardi, but no-can-do! He's a burly dude.

I feel like I'm reaching into the way-back machine for this one: Devan! It's an adorable fingering-weight V-neck cardigan that was originally published in Knitty... way back in Spring 2004! And I've always wanted to make it.

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I ordered some of Julia's fabulous self-striping Vesper Sock Yarn in a colorway called Electric Revolution, and I'm pairing it with some of my Make.Do Be Fingering/Sock in a semi-solid called Bookworm... and I just can't wait to get started!!

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Hello Spring!!

All wound up and ready to go!


Baby A

I am bouncing between projects today, making progress in all areas! I have a few photo projects in the works right now, and among them is Junah's "1-Year" photos. We had him model some knits, including:

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Baby A

I knit that wonderful sweater in April -- and here's Mack wearing it in May -- of 2007!

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It's a wonderful pattern that I've always meant to knit again. But when the longevity is this good -- 8 YEARS -- WHY?? Addy wore it, too, and it still looks fantastic.

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Too bad that wonderful yarn was discontinued.


Eleven!

It's the First Day of Spring!! And my 11th Blogiversary!

 

Well, it's one louder, isn't it?

One louder.

 


Ten on Tuesday: Pot o' Gold

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I'd Buy If I Found A Pot of Gold!

I need a baseline. How much gold does one expect to find in a pot?

Using the calculations provided here and yesterday's price of gold ($1,154.16/oz.), it's $313,192.86. Okay, then...

1. A 1958 Corvette, red & white: $77,995.00

2. A Nice Long Weekend in NYC: $5,000.00

3. A Spring Shopping Trip: $5,000.00

4. A Mediterranean Cruise: $20,000.00

5. Rent a motorhome and take a Road Trip to The Maritimes: $7,500.00 

6. A Brand New Car for the whole fam damily: $175,000

7. Almost everything on my Amazon Wish List: $4,610.63

8. A Patterns + Alterations Studio Week at Alabama Chanin: $3,000.00 + $1,000.00

The new book will be out soon!! Rusty pre-ordered for my birthday and I've been delightfully anticipating ever since!

9. And the Classic Studio Week: $3,000.00 + $1,000

10. I'd have Margene join me: $8,000.00.

Lucky me, I'm observing the 10th anniversary of The Quit, so I have a BONUS POT OF GOLD into which I can dip:

11. So I'd bring a few more AC-obsessed friends -- Kay, KymGale, and Beverly!!

Wouldn't that be fun???

A girl can dream.

And obviously spend a whole lotta money in a very short time!


Weekending

I had a little time to kill before meeting everyone for Joe's birthday dinner, so popped over to my bike shop to take advantage of The Great Rack Upgrade. The offer (thru 3/31) is to trade in your old bike rack (any make/model) and get 20% off a new Saris rack. I've had a 3-bike Saris rack and it's been mostly okay, but we've occasionally had issues with fitting our different bike styles -- jostling handlebars, mostly. The new one has an arc design and I'm hoping it'll be a bit easier.

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Maddy was the first to arrive and I thought to take a selfie with her -- I have a few of us but they're not that great.

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Some people tried to photo-bomb us but, you know, selfie... we saw them coming!

Auspicious? Suspicious? I'd originally made reservations for 17, but after some last-minute cancellations, we ended up with 13 on the 13th! We had a great time, though no one had a match or lighter so Joe had to pretend to blow out the candle on his little cake. Haha.

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Saturday was Pi Day and luckily we had some pie handy! We started our day with pie for breakfast dessert.

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Annie and the boys came over for a while, and so did Junah!

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He's holding one of those little shapes from the puzzle up to his ear and "talking." The boys thought it was hilarious! They love him so much and think he's cool... I just love that.

The weather was mild, so the boys were in and out, and they also kept tabs on some college basketball games, especially the Wisconsin-Purdue game.

Annie and I got the fixings for Traditional Boiled Dinner on Saturday. My dutch oven wasn't big enough to accommodate the corned beef and the veggies, so I did the veggies in a different pot. The only pot that would be big enough is dedicated to dyeing!

And I got that dye pot out on Sunday for some coloring up -- and re-coloring -- of yarn! I am so pleased with the over-dye job for Sophie's Rose... the original color was great, but it needed just a little muddying; I've had more than a couple false starts, but I think that project is finally going to sing! The other colors were a range of blues, and then somehow a couple of corals!

I knew that the Badgers had a big game on Sunday afternoon, so tuned it at about half-time... the score was very close. At one point -- when Bucky was down 11 points (only the second time all season there was a deficit that big) -- I thought I'd jinxed it all but thankfully they brought it back to tie! And then they won in overtime -- the Big 10 Championship! So now, of course, I have March Madness fever and have even made my bracket picks. Anyone interested in a knitters' tourney?

It was a good weekend.

Thanks for all the great feedback about the new blog design! I'm pleased that the cleaner look makes it easier to read. (Still tweaking: I've made the post type a little larger.) I love that some mentioned the inclusion of my old banner into the new! For a while, I changed my banner monthly, but once Parcheesi landed up there, I just couldn't bear to change it; that was some epic get-me-through knitting, and it's one of my favorite and most-used pieces.


Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Have I mentioned that our taxes are done? Earliest finish ever. I am so relieved... and happy that I won't live the next month in constant dread of that chore. There are a few other "chores" hanging over my head, but they're more enjoyable and I'm making some progress.

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Oh, it's a glorious day and the weekend is upon us!
That's the same -- much smaller -- snow pile as yesterday; the sandals are my Fluevies!

Ali & Junah joined me for a drive over to have lunch with Maddy on Wednesday, but not before I was able to get some yarn prepped for dyeing.

I have yarn to dye for Romi's Mystery Shawl, for Sophie's Rose, and for an upcoming sweater for Junah that I'm very excited about -- one that's been on my radar for a LONG time. After that stretch of nothing-but-baby knitting at the end of 2013, I've barely knit a stitch for him. I might not get to all of that over the weekend... Romi & Sophie are the current priorities!

This weekend  will see a birthday celebration, Pi Day, possibly a high school basketball game, a bike ride (or two), and a pretty darn nice weekend.

I've changed the blog design!! After playing around with different/responsive designs on "test blogs" for quite some time, I thought I'd try out Typepad's new "Nimble" design. It's supposed to be easier to read/navigate on all devices. I can always go back!

What do you think?

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Don't forget about Craftsy's BIG Sale -- all online classes up to 50% off in celebration of National Craft Month. Sale ends Monday!


More fashion stuff

It occurs to me that my recent increased interest in fashion & style is as much a result of sewing some clothes as anything else. The hand-sewn Alabama Chanin-style shirts I made last year -- whether using a paper pattern or an existing shirt as a pattern -- made me much more aware of how it all works. Shape, cut, the mechanics of sewing, and pattern making.

It's also about projects in the wings. I have the goods for a couple of dresses that I'd like to make but, you know, that is some serious commitment. If I'm going to stencil, cut, and hand sew an entire dress... well, I'd sure like to know that there's some hope of it fitting and of it looking relatively good on me!

And CURIOUS! I became so curious about the mechanics of it all that I added some sewing classes to my Craftsy library. I haven't actually made one, but I was completely enthralled and fascinated by the idea of slopers, and I learned so much about how and why things fit.

And, really, IT'S ALL ABOUT FIT! Even if you're all about nothing but jeans and t-shirts, at least they should fit... it makes such a HUGE DIFFERENCE, no matter your size or shape.

That's what Amy Herzog's books Knit to Flatter and Knit Wear Love, and CustomFit are all about in the knit world. Knitter, know thyself. Take measurements!!

A few have asked about the fashion blogs I've been following:

And here's me high-stylin' today. There's still snow on the ground and I'm wearing a winter coat (unbuttoned), but I just COULD.NOT wear shoes today.

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I will be lucky to get another full season out of these well-worn and beloved Wolkys.

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If you're interested in checking out some classes, too, Craftsy is offering a BIG sale with all online classes up to 50% off so that you can spend National Craft Month (and beyond) doing more of what you love. Sale ends Monday!


Ten on Tuesday: The hour(s)

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I'll Do With Daylight Savings' Shifted Hour

In addition to the "extra hour" of daylight, the days here are getting longer at the current rate of over 3 minutes per day!

With the manipulation of the clock, that extra hour is just shifted from the beginning of the day to the end... I was driving both to & from work in daylight last week, but it's dark again in the morning.

Boo.

I thought I was adjusting okay but I woke up in the wee hours and spent some time trying to figure out what time it really was. I just couldn't shake it...

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1. Last night we took a walk before dinner.

2. We went before dinner because we thought it would be too late afterwards, but we enjoyed the daylight for quite a while... the sun set at nearly 7:00.

3. We're all still adjusting.

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4. With all that extra daylight, I was able to see buds on the trees.

5. I'm looking forward to getting things done! I'm just naturally more active during daylight hours.

6. That will include some after-work bike rides beginning soon.

7. Creatively, I'm looking forward to doing a number of things that are on hold because they're best done outside:

7.a. Indigo dyeing -- both fabric and yarn.
7.b. Airbrush stenciling some fabric! There are some Alabama Chanin projects in the wings...

8. The snow is melting fast, and we didn't have that much to begin with... and I know it's too early, but I couldn't help it but glance to the spot where I'll eventually watch my hostas begin to appear.

9. I can't recall doing a single garden-related thing last year, except perhaps a very late pruning of my espalier tree... because espalier. So, as soon as I'm able, I'm actually looking forward to doing some yard work!

10. It's GRILLING SEASON!

The forecast is for 60F today... I feel as though we're over the hump!


Thoughts on packing

I used to say that my mother had more style in her little finger than all of her children had combined -- and none of my siblings would disagree with me. She always looked great -- even at work! She was a surgical nurse and hated wearing the required headwear, but found fabrics she liked and made her own! She had a very distinct style and a clear understanding of what she liked and what worked for her.

Fashion and style were never all that important to me -- I was always more about comfort, though I drew the line at sweatpants (overheating being the biggest reason). I'd have my moments, and there were even some things that Mom & I could share -- we'd traded stuff since I was in high school, even though our "styles" were quite different. I've become a bit more interested in developing and figuring out My Style over the past couple of years, and it appears that my interest is growing now that my #1 style icon is no longer with us. Taking up the torch, perhaps; missing her; paying homage. Surprising myself, I've even added a few "over-50" style blogs to my list of blog reads, and created a couple of boards on Polyvore for this post! ha.

Also, I was quite pleased about successfully paring down my packing list for our recent vacation to Mexico! After struggling up a couple flights of stairs in Glasgow last spring while juggling/dragging a large bag and two suitcases full of crap I never used, I finally learned the lesson. (Not to mention lugging it all through airports, shuttles, the streets of Edinburgh, and various locations in the Highlands.) (Similar lesson during our first UK trip having completely bounced off my brain.)

This time, I gave a little more thought into what I was packing and how it all worked together and fit everything into two bags -- a single checked suitcase and a large carry-on bag. Granted, I still had at least one pair of space-hogging shoes too many in the suitcase, though thankfully it was mostly sandals and not boots! My large leather  carry-on held camera, lenses, tablet, phone, chargers, earbuds, all travel papers, sunglasses, chapstick, tissues, ibuprofen, and even a small knitting project. That's it! No extra carry-on and no purse to juggle!!

To the Beach

 

The leather bag is heavy even when empty, but it was so much easier to switch up when I wasn't juggling it in addition to another carry-on and/or a purse. The bag also has adjustable straps and it can be carried in many ways, including as a backpack. My recently finished Tasha bag was packed in my checked bag and I used that for day-to-day running around during vacation -- it was perfect!

I really don't mind checking a bag, so my goal was never to fit everything into a carry-on, but it's sure nice to be a little more efficient and, especially, to not lug around stuff that I use only once... or never.

For the record, and with an eye on possible improvement next time, here's what I packed  and how each item fared. I've used the roll-up method of packing for years to optimize space and minimize wrinkles. (Except for the Karina dress, the Eileen Fisher dress, the Fluevogs and the Keens -- all recent sale/reward acquisitions -- it's all stuff that I've owned, most of it for quite a while.)

  • Karina Dresses "Audrey" (shown below) - wore 2-3 times
  • J. Jill mid-length tie-die dress (shown above) - wore 2-3 times
  • Eileen Fisher long black dress - wore once
  • Eileen Fisher navy tunic - wore once
  • J. Jill black tunic - wore 3-4 times
  • Coldwater Creek long black sweater - wore on the plane
  • Merona black shrug (similar, shown below) - wore almost every evening
  • (2) Eileen Fisher tanks (taupe, gray) - one of these would have been fine
  • (2) J. Jill knit capris (black, gray) - one of thesewould have been fine
  • (2) Lysse Women's Cotton Capri Leggings (navy, white) (shown above) - wore white 2-3 times
  • (2) Black leggings - wore 3-4 times
  • (2) Bathing suits - wore one - didn't really need either of these
  • Undergarments, socks - wore a pair of socks when I wore the tennies
  • (3) Shawls, scarves - used only one
  • Brazilian Canga towel + a long dress made from a canga - used the canga a lot on the beach, and never wore the dress as a dress, but used it to drape around my neck/shoulders - they're very lightweight and easy to tote
  • Wolky sandals - wore a lot 
  • Taos sandals (shown above) - wore a lot
  • Keen closed-toe sling-backs - wore on the plane to Mexico
  • Fluevog sandals (shown below) - wore two evenings
  • Tennis shoes - wore on the boat
  • Sun hat (similar, shown above) - wore everyday
  • Tasha hand-knit bag (similar, shown above) - used everyday
Karina Dress & Fluevog Sandals

 

I'd leave a few pairs of leggings at home, for sure, as well as a few pairs of socks and at least one of those bathing suits. The longer black dress was in case I needed something slightly dressier for an evening, the navy tunic was the only piece other than a sweater that wasn't sleeveless. I've actually just ordered a couple more cangas because those things are wonderful and summer is coming! And shoes... well, at least sandals don't take up THAT much room!

What are your best packing tips?


Right now: March

Watching: House of Cards. Also The Voice... I just can't help it.

Reading: Only what's required.

Knitting: I'm sort of in between right now. Starting & stopping with a couple of cowls from the Knit In... can they be knit flat and seamed or buttoned? Man, I hate circs. Small hexagons in fingering-weight yarn are my long-term stand-by, and in my bag right now.

Humming: Along with the Oldies station on the radio. It's sometimes scary what counts.

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Drinking: I found the PSYCHOPATH! (I love my new beer glass.)

Wearing: All the things and I've been complaining about it. It looks as though I may soon be able to shed a layer or two!

Organizing: Tax stuff. I'm aiming for a weekend finish. That would be so cool.

Celebrating: Celebrate Michael Day was last Saturday, and his birthday is coming up, as is my stepdad's birthday, and my brother-in-law's, and a nephew's... March is a busy month!

Itching to: Leave the house without my jacket on! It's too soon to hope for sandal weather, but I'm itching to ditch the shoes, too.

10-Day-Forecast

Looking forward to: The weather! It's cold today, but the solar gain in my office is AMAZING, and a warming trend begins tomorrow... 40s on the weekend! All eyes (well, all of mine) are on next Wednesday -- 53F on My.Day.Off. I might even ride my bike. I get my weather from Weather Underground; there's also an app for that!

Needing to: Get back to the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up!

Delighted by: The thought of a cooler, less humid house this summer. After 27.5 years, we bit the bullet yesterday and the central air & purification system will be installed on Monday.

Inspired by: Romi's Mystery Shawl 2015! No-brainer.


Weekending

I was looking forward to a quiet weekend at home, but my li'l sister called and she missed me! Kate had the day off on Saturday and had never been to Annie's new house yet, so we drove up for lunch and a quick visit.

Dal

Cauliflower, potatoes & carrots, mustard & cumin seeds, mung beans; turmeric gives everything an amazing color!

Annie made Dal (recipe similar to this one) and it was SOOO good. We had fresh-from-the-oven Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, too, and a nice little visit with the whole family.

Addison's gym class is in a "tumbling" unit, so he was up-side down a lot of the time, demonstrating handstands, cartwheels, round-offs. I think he was impressed when I told him I used to do all those things and MORE! Back-bends, walk-overs, back walk-overs, and handsprings. I used to practice in the front yard... usually around the time that Jim Davis would ride around the neighborhood on his bike to deliver papers. Haha.

After reviewing S1 & S2 of House of Cards over the past few weeks, we are now about mid-way through S3. We are pacing ourselves! I'm so glad we re-watched... it's pretty amazing to see those characters develop (or disintegrate, as the case may be).

Buddhababy

Baby Buddha Belly

On Sunday, I had Ali bring Junah over for his 1-year photos... he'll be 14 months old in just over a week. Time flies!! He's reading our old favorite, Goodnight Moon. We had him with a few different props, in different outfits, and even in his birthday suit. So adorable.

I spent the afternoon updating Rusty's Oceans and Dreams website. It was fairly significant, too, as I'd never quite got around to doing the previous update. All spiffy now!

And I finished the knitting of Tsuwano! That was enjoyable and fairly quick. It needs a little soak and a light blocking, and some buttons!

What shall I knit next???


Long week, short month

A little Eye Candy on this Friday...

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Baja California Sur, Mexico, from the aeroplane.

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My first phone-cam panorama -- a sunset in Mexico from the patio at our house.

* * * * *

It's been a long week to close out the shortest (and very busy) month; my normal four 10-hour work days stretched to five.

TGIF!


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The sky was lovely this morning as I went off to work, even through the trees. The sun's reflection in the rear-view mirror was shining in my eyes on the way. Spring is coming!!  There'll be that little setback in the morning light when the clocks "spring forward" in 11 days but, if memory serves, we ought to catch up quick.

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I made a few purchases over the weekend (and was a happy enabler for others! ahem). This hank of Malabrigo Arroyo was originally intended for the Knit-in Cowl, but I've instead cast on Tsuwano by Sarah Barbour. It's a knit-flat scarf or buttoned cowl in a simple lace and garter design. I've one repeat in already and I love it!

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The gorgeous colorway is called Aguas. I can't wait to choose buttons!

 


Weekending: Knit In

I went to a Knit In and came home with yarn... and a beer glass! My friend had an extra, so also the matching wine glass! Welcome to Wisconsin!!

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I had a great time at and around the 2015 Madison Knitters' Guild Knit In over the weekend! Ann & I made a few stops along the way. Susan's Fiber Shop -- incredibly, for the very first time* but not the last. Bradbury's for coffee and crepes -- we split one savory, one sweet. The Sow's Ear, not exactly on the way but worth the stop; we shopped and knit and sipped away the remainder of the afternoon.

On Friday night, we had dinner at Red Sushi. My nephew Dylan is on the wait staff there and it was fun to have both his guidance and Ann's, especially since I'm basically a sushi newbi. I can definitely proclaim myself a sushi lover, though, and I'm already looking forward to next time. Great cocktails at Red Sushi, and also at Merchant, where we went after dinner; I'd like to eat there sometime!

Saturday was full of classes. Ann & I both took Annie Modesitt's "Mad About Plaid" and enjoyed it very much! It was fun and informative; Annie is a great teacher, not to mention entertaining, brilliant and creative.

I also had a class in the afternoon about working with hand-dyes -- identifying techniques and patterns to help them sing to you as much when knitted up as they do when they land in your shopping cart! I thought this would be beneficial, not only as a yarn collector and knitter, but also as a sometime dyer.

Ann had both the Wine & Yarn Pairing and the Beer & Fiber Tasting events on Saturday afternoon... I'd signed on to take part in only the Beer event on Sunday.

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Each event had its own custom pattern and a mini-skein kit designed by Jimmy Beans Wool and custom dyed at Koigu. And that glass! We tasted beers from Wisconsin Brewing Company: #008 - Old Reliable, #002 - American I.P.A., and #003 - Brown & Robust Porter. I've had the I.P.A. before (I love a hoppy beer right now and can't wait to find PSYCHOPATH!) and the Amber Lager -- good brews!

We visited the marketplace between classes and during our free times. I was delighted to finally lay eyes on (and even hug) some long-time virtual friends, including Kathleen Pascuzzi who is Annie's partner at ModeKnit Yarn, and Emily Parson from Sophie's Toes!

There were same changes to the event this year -- a new, larger venue that cost a ton of money, I'm sure. That cost was passed on to attendees and vendors alike. Unfortunately, it was not very walk-in friendly and people who wanted only to shop were not too keen on paying $15 admission on top of $7 parking just to get in the door. I think some of the vendors did okay, but I'm afraid that many may have done less than okay; booth fees, travel, lodging -- and some came a ways (Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, New York) -- I'm all too familiar with this scenario from Rusty's art fair days! I hope something can be done to make vendors more accessible to the public; they're not going to come back if they're not making (or, in the end, only breaking even or losing) money, and I think they're a big attraction.

On Saturday evening, we were joined by others, including Ann's long-time friend Lisa, caityrosey, and Java Jennie/Kitchen Counter Crafter (great bags and fun fabrics!). We went to Grampa's Pizzeria and OH MY... that's not my grandpa's pizza, but it is some of the best pizza I've had in a while! One of our pies had brussels sprouts and chunky bacon, another had pesto, and we all tasted/shared a ginger cake for dessert. Delicious. Afterwards, we made our way to Old Sugar Distillery Tasting Room for a taste and some shopping. I had a delicious and refreshing drink based on the Brazilian caipirinha but made with Old Sugar's Honey Liqueur.

I may have had two. *clink*

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My main knitting project over the weekend was Deep End II. I managed to work the sewn bind-off by lunch time on Sunday! I need to weave in some ends, give it a soak, and lay it out to dry.

On the way out of town, we stopped at Jamerica for a bite to eat before heading home. That was an unexpected but delightful stop!

I was asked a few times what my favorite part of the weekend was and I really couldn't single anything out -- it was ALL my favorite part:

Friends Old & New, Fiber & Yarn, Food & Drinks!

 It doesn't get much better than that.

 

*I have visited the large Susan's Fiber Shop booth at all three NY Sheep & Wool Festivals, as well as at WI Sheep & Wool, so not a complete stranger!


Faked out

'Tis the season.

Rusty took my car in for an oil change yesterday morning.

It was a beautiful (for February) sunny day, so when they called to say it was ready, I thought "Why not walk?" It's less than a half-mile.

Well, most of that half-mile was into the wind and my face nearly froze off.

Turns out, it was -3F -- feeling far colder when factoring in the windchill!

I never even thought to check the temp. It looked nice outside!

This morning it was -12F when I was getting ready for work... and is still below zero at nearly 11 a.m.

I'm not even walking out to the mailbox today.

Hint of green

C'mon SPRING!

 


Ten on Tuesday: What's up?

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I'm Looking Forward To Right Now

1. The Madison Knitters' Guild Knit InI'm going with my friend Ann and we're making a weekend of it, leaving early Friday morning, even, so we can make stops along the way. It's been a few years since I've gone to the Knit In, and I'm truly looking forward to it!

2. Annie Modesitt's Mad About Plaid class on Saturday morning (hopefully, she's feeling better by then!).

3. The Beer and Fiber Pairing on Sunday afternoon. There's a Wine and Yarn Tasting, too. Ann is doing both on Saturday!

4. I've been to the Madison area many times but have rarely eaten at a restaurant, so I'm excited about checking out the food scene! Red Sushi, Umami Ramen & Dumpling Bar, Graze, and The Coopers Tavern have all been mentioned, as well as Grampa's Pizzeria.

Let's see, what else?

5. The Oscars on Sunday night. Unable to take part in the Best Picture Festival this year, I've only seen a few nominated movies. That's better than last year, though, as I'd seen none and was grateful for the BP Fest.

6. Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8th! We are currently gaining daylight at the rate of approx. 3 minutes per day and that just increases everyday from now until the Summer Solstice. Yay!

7. My 10-year Quit-iversary on March 18th!

8. My 11-year Blog-iversary on March 20th, which is better known to most as the First Day of Spring!!

9. Dyeing some yarn. It's been a while, and there are a couple of projects waiting... with any luck, that will happen later today or tomorrow.

10. NO PLANS! It's all good -- Mexico, my grandson, the Knit-in -- but the last weekend of the month is the only weekend in February that's not pre-booked.

 


Weekending: My Little Valentine

Can you believe it? Six years ago, I spent Valentine weekend pouring my heart into cleaning and spiffing the coffee shop as part of the turnover crew when Ali took over operations.

This Valentine weekend was spent with the little guy who stole my heart 13 months ago! I had him all weekend!

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Messes were made.

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Cuteness displayed.

He's walking!! We played all day Saturday and he didn't nap at all. One would think that would bode well for Saturday night, but it didn't... he had a fitful sleep, waking every hour or two and I barely caught a wink between. We both got a few good hours before happily waking on Sunday.

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Cheerios! And scrambled egg, raisins, and banana for breakfast... a little sampling of each also having made it to the floor.

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Tucked in under our respective hand-knit blankets, we had a very nice nap together on Sunday afternoon.

That was a ton of fun!!

 


Diamonds & Pearls

30th Anniversary = Diamonds (Modern)

We found some in Mexico!

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Water sparkling like diamonds.

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Diamonds in architectural elements.

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We even walked on diamonds.

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And found a refrigerator magnet souvenir!

*

30th Anniversary = Pearls (Traditional)

We weren't really looking, but found a big one in Mexico!

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I like this photo of us...

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...but this one shows the pearl better.

This was on the waterfront promenade in La Paz, filled with all sorts of sculpture! It was a fun stroll.

 


FO: Deep End The First

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Deep-End

I love this shawl, and wear it most often as a scarf! It was perfect for traveling and perfect for Mexico!

I've started another for Alison in almost all the same colors -- I've switched out (and began with) another of my Make.Do hand-dyes in place of the very similar Eden Cottage, followed by the Great South Babes (which is where I am in the project right now); I'll probably follow that with the Undyed, the Celeste Polvere, then a slash of RED, and probably another Undyed (or maybe one of the bolder colors) to finish.

Or who knows!?

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Details and a few more photos are on the Ravelry project page.

Did I mention that I love it?

Photos were taken by Rusty at Casa de Piedra, Las Tunas, Baja California Sur, Mexico. This is the home we stayed in for our week's vacation, booked via airbnb. (You may click that link to sign up and receive a $25 credit, if you're so inclined; I'll also get a credit if/when you book or host).

This was my third airbnb experience: the first was an adorable 2BR walk-up in Glasgow, second was a cute little A-frame in Door County for a cycling weekend. I'm sure there are some not-so-great experiences, but I don't even look at a listing that doesn't have at least one recent review or have a known connection to the owner.

We stayed 7 nights in Mexico at $200 night (including all fees) -- the entire gorgeous home (inside & out) to ourselves for less than a "deluxe suite with garden view" at a nice hotel in the area -- and we had spectacular views of the ocean, the desert, the mountains, the pool, and the garden. 5 Stars!!

It was SO hard to leave...