3TT: Color

Joining Carole and friends again this week for Three on Thursday...

Thing 1:

IMG_20180118_071032_970If you're on Instagram, have you seen/done this?

(There's always Some New Thing to see/do!)

Thing 2:

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The sky was on fire this morning!

Thing 3:

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Sometimes the old hydrangeas on the other side of those dirty windows are rather ghostly. I cannot wait to watch the garden come alive from this new vantage point, and love that even after 30+ years of living in this house, there are still things like a "new vantage point." Maybe the garden will even get some attention this year!


Unraveled Wednesday: Yarn cakes

Joining Kat & friends again this week...

DYEING:

I haven't been knitting much over the past week. I had some half-hearted thoughts about another hat or finishing some slippers, but mostly I've been dyeing. Among other things, I've been preparing for the Parallelogram KAL with Mary!

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We begin on Saturday! These are the cakes from which I will be choosing -- I need two for the project.

I think I'm going with 2:00 and 8:00, thus:

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I've changed my mind 100 times already (in addition to every time I'd wind a new ball), but there are a couple of reasons for this choice... I really want to knit a bunch of combos!

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Or three at a time!

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I've really been enjoying my time in the studio, and am looking forward to more -- especially as our days gradually lengthen, and then even more when I can fling open the door and expand operations to the back yard.

KNITTING:

Last night I was tired of not knitting but still not enthused about anything else, and on a whim I gathered all of my Lamb's Pride Worsted into a pile (save for two colors that just "don't go") and cast on a Log Cabin thing that will probably be a blanket. Random, I know -- I'm even using a random number generator to help with decision making. There's no pressure or deadline, and only the vaguest of plans, but I've always wanted a larger knit blanket and, mostly, I'm just very happy to finally have a plan for all of that yarn!

READING:

I am all but finished reading Tender At The Bone, by Ruth Reichl. I am really enjoying this book and will definitely seek out more of Ruth Reichl... open to your recs, if you have any!

Also, quite randomly and while waiting for an audio book on CDs from the library (seems like the dark ages and I hope I can cope), I am listening to Badass Your Brand: The Impatient Entrepreneur's Guide to Turning Expertise into Profit by Pia Silva.


Mugged

I'm a sucker for these things, so on Sunday morning I downloaded the Google Arts & Culture app (Google Play) (iTunes) to answer the pressing question of the day:

"Is your portrait in a museum?"

Well, of course I'd want to see my artistic masterpiece doppelganger! Wouldn't I??

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Haha! Mornings might not be my best time... I even put on mascara!

I kept trying... There were a fair number of not-so-attractive men, but also some interesting children and women. Here is a curated collection.

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I tried again later in the day...

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It's crazy and uncanny and a little bit weird. I've done it at various times over the past couple of days and it's pretty consistent with the results -- the same images cycle through. I'm not sure of the parameters, exactly, other than than the relationship between facial features.

That last one really resonated with me... I see my much younger self in those eyes. "Vluchtelinge" means "refugee," as far as I can tell, and the painting was done in 1910. I am learning a little bit about Arts & Culture!

I took a photo of Rusty, too, and this was among the results:

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So crazy! It blows me away!! Interestingly, that is Gerhard Richter, a German artist... Rusty, an artist, is also of German heritage.

Have you tried it? What do you think?? Are you taking selfies all day?


So, um yes...

Yes, I did knit a Pussyhat for a baby doll!

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And Snapchatted/Facebooked it, too! This is Lena, one of Maddy's American Girl Bitty Babies from back in the day.

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I used worsted weight, a 3 US needle, 72 stitches, ribbing for a dozen rows, 4" overall from brim to crown. I knit mine flat and seamed the sides; or it can be knit in the round and closed/finished however you'd like at the top. It took an evening!

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I watched Gin for a while on Friday and we had so much fun! She's such a kid now... and growing! She's not going to fit under that counter overhang anymore... she's had enough close calls (perhaps an actual bonk or two) that she ducks, now, as she goes under. I used to have a display of Depression Glass & whatnot on that little shelf... it's a perfect tot spot, though! Sneak peek* at some of the new paint!

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Ali came over with Junah after the birthday outing (which included stops for a haircut and to watch his own custom candy bar being made). I'd picked up some Valentine crafty things the other day, so the kids fooled around with that stuff. We ended up punching holes in all of the felt hearts and redecorating a wire Christmas tree that I hadn't put away yet! Jün had put pine cones and quilted stars on it for the holidays... and now I think we've slipped on that slope and will have a small seasonally decorated tree up all year!

Later, Ali sent me these:

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Ginny's fringe ! It was another pretty great weekend -- three days helped.   I hope yours was pretty great, too!

*Rusty finished all the kitchen painting over the weekend! Closet doors are back on, hardware & new electrical plates are installed... there's still the matter of the cabinet over the fridge, but we're working it out!


Right now - January

Anticipating... a super-quick weekend getaway with Rusty to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary on the 20th! I wanted someplace warm but it couldn't be far, so we are going to a nearby spa resort hotel type of place (there's a first time for everything)... with fireplaces! And we'll each get a good, long, relaxing massage. I can feel myself loosen up a bit just thinking about it...

Cooking/Eating... Kym posted this morning about The Cooking Light 3-Day Detox that she & Tom just completed.  My comment: While I am continuing with Weight Watchers (and it is amazing how frequently my "diet/healthy" recipes get RAVES), I fell HARD off the WW wagon over the past couple of months and have struggled to get back on. Travel, holidays, birthdays, people & their crazy schedules, and WW rolling out a few changes to their program... it's been tough to pull it together and FOCUS. So I'm going to focus on doing this!

Excited about... Spending a few hours with Gin tomorrow! That hasn't happened very often, but Ali & Rod want to take Jün out for his birthday... so YAY!

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Looking forward to... Dyeing... Knitting... I am ITCHING to get some work done downstairs!  I am off tomorrow and will be prepping some yarn this evening. I will be dyeing some yarn, using a new/different (to me) process, for the MDK Parallelogram Scarf KAL that I'm doing with Mary! We're starting on January 20th and would love some company, if you're so inclined. I've had my eye on this pattern since I first laid eyes on Field Guide No. 5 | Sequences!

Organizing... Also, over the 3-day weekend, I'll be getting Christmas put away!! I wish I had it in me to REALLY organize and purge...

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Reading... I'll soon finish Tender At The Bone and intended to begin Prairie Fires next, but I think a long overdue re-read of Little House In The Big Woods will happen first. Since all of the Christmas stuff is out of the way, I was able to reach all the books at the back of the closet and fish it out.

Watching... Have you seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?? We started watching a few weeks ago. I found that it's a little slow to build, and I almost lost Rusty early on, but we both stuck with it and finally finished the other night. It's funny, the clothes are INCREDIBLE, casting... Tony Shaloub, and winner of a couple of Golden Globe awards!

  1. I love Tony Shaloub and he is from Wisconsin.
  2. I didn't know that Rachel Brosnahan was also from Wisconsin, born in the same city as me, in fact... AND we went to the same grade school in Highland Park, IL (she for many grades, me for only first grade)... I mean we're practically related. Haha.

Word... I don't usually "choose a word" for the year. I tried that once. I even created a blog category for all the posts I was going to write about it... and there is ONE POST ABOUT IT. But there is a word that keeps popping up lately, multiple times a day, and that word is SLOW. As in "slow down," "slow down and focus," "you could do that if you slowed down," "you'd have to slow down..." So if I were to be choosing a word, that would probably be it.

Wondering... What's up with you right now??


Safe Travels to Maddy (again!)

She begins her way back to New Zealand this afternoon!! You can click through, below, to read her thoughts about NZ Round 2 and other things. I'm going to miss her! It's been great having her around (not to mention she re-painted 90% of my kitchen), but she won't be gone quite as long this time. And then we'll see what new adventures are afoot... I'm pretty sure that a dog will be central (she even refers to her imaginary future dog by name), no matter what!

Junah's birthday is this Friday, but we had an early celebration on Monday night so that Maddy could be a part of it, too!! (photo cred to her)

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It was SO MUCH FUN!

Oh my goodness, 4 is going to be amazing.

(That Oshkosh B'Gosh "Sgt. Pepper" zip-up sweatshirt he's wearing? KILLING ME!)


Dresses and hats, and dresses as hats

I finished another dress and top for the kids' Sleepy Kittens over the weekend.

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I used two somewhat coordinating mini-skeins, and all but used them up! I have a couple others that would work nicely, and will keep them handy... these are nice little projects for in-between and/or mindless knitting.

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The "top," above, and the "dress," below. I only did only the first set of increases for the top, but did them in the manner of the second (more spaced out), so it wouldn't be so poofy. I also do quite a few more rows of ribbing than called for.

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It just so happened that the kids & their mother picked me up on Sunday morning for a quick trip to the store, so I was able to give them their new kitty clothes. Gin had her new Bitty Baby along and we discovered that the kitten's dress can double as a hat for the doll! It's a little strange at the top, sleeves & bodice & all, but it fit! And now, perhaps a matching Pussy Hat for Bitty Baby is in the cards...


Carrying on

I had a very productive weekend that proceeded at a lovely pace. I did some things that I needed to do, I did somethings that I wanted to do, and I did somethings that flew in out left field. That is my FAVORITE kind of weekend! I feel refreshed.

Also, I slept pretty well.

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I spent a bit of time on both days getting my downstairs dye studio in order -- cleaning, assembling a shelf unit, hauling stuff down there & organizing -- and even dyed a couple of hanks. I need to get a feel for the space, equipment, and flow...

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I dragged almost everyone down to look at it, and Kate snapped a different view, shared on her IG story.

I'm itching to get back down there, but that probably won't happen until Friday!


FO: Windschief + 2017 Knitting Review

Well, I just love this little hat!

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It's my first FO -- both started & finished -- of 2018!

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Super cute. Fun & quick to knit, with the twisted rib section adding just enough to keep it interesting. I finished at Knit Night last night, and the kids just happened to be there!

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It was knit for Jün and he tried it on, but he did not want photos nor did he want to give it back! (I nabbed it later when he wasn't looking, and then Gin "volunteered" to model.)

Meanwhile, here's a snapshot of knitting accomplished in 2017:

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No one is more surprised than me that I finished 24+ items last year!

  • Two kittens
  • Two polar bears
  • Seven+ hats (some never made Ravelry)
  • One beard
  • Freak flags (double set)
  • Three cowls
  • Four shawls
  • Two pairs of mitts
  • One dress & two little sweaters for Gin (one of them started ages ago)
  • One ornament
  • One adult cardigan -- that had been in the WIP pile for almost 10 years!

(By comparison, I finished a grand total of nine items in 2016. Not my best knitting year.)

I was a fairly monogamous knitter last year, starting & completing projects in reasonable time, with focus & purpose. I think I started only three projects last year that remain unfinished: another pair of Squad Mitts, a gnome, and my Brambling Shawl. I didn't make any big plans or goals, just went with my heart... and I think I'll just stick with that!!


3TT: Changes

Joining Carole and friends again this week for Three on Thursday...

1 - At this time next week, Maddy will be winging her way to NZ for another stint at the winery! She's been staying with us since Christmas, and will head back to Milwaukee early next week so her friend can take her to O'Hare on Wednesday.

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2 - Meanwhile, she's been painting my kitchen! At one time, we were loftily thinking that she'd be able to whack out new paint jobs in both the kitchen and our living area, but hahahahahaha. Did we ever underestimate that, especially given holidays -- and some unexpected dental work. Excruciating tooth pain does not a happy painter (or daughter) make, and when said pains thwarts even NYE celebrations with friends, you know it's bad. We've never in our lives been so happy about a near-emergency root canal!

Anyway, the kitchen is almost a complete reversal -- once-maroon walls are now nearly white, and white trim/woodwork is becoming a warm dark gray. I loved my maroon kitchen, but it was time for a refresh. It's looking rather stark right now, but decor will make a big difference. (Right?)

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3 - And we're getting in all the blurry hugs & cuddles that we can!


Unraveling: From out of nowhere

Well, actually, it came from somewhere...

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Ali sent me an Instagram photo of a Windschief hat that she ran across, with a note about how great it would look on Junah, so...

I declined a movie invitation last night in favor of the opportunity to be home alone for more than :25 for the first time in ages! I knit on said hat and watched a bit of TV (catching up on the last of S1 Victoria before S2 begins)!

I have all but finished a subtly striped little kitten dress, and plan to make a shirt for the other kitten with the same yarn (and that might be the end of that... yarn).

Announced in October with seemingly all the time in the world to plot and plan, I was not able to think much about the Fringe Association Log Cabin Make-along, but I haven't given up on joining in, either! I'm thinking fingering weight scrappy cowl or infinity scarf or maybe substantial wrap. Anyway, I'm thinking...

I am about half-way through Tender At The Bone, by Ruth Reichl, and am enjoying it quite a lot! I am listening to an AARP book called Downsizing The Family Home: What To Save, What To Let Go, by Marni Jameson.

Ahem.

Oh look!

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Rusty was recently given an amaryllis and it's starting to grow! It's a bit askew & bent, but will probably straighten up a bit.


Vicki Reads

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Obviously, I did not reach my 2017 goal of 25 books. Truth be told, at 20, I didn't even match 2016!

Man, did I ever read some great books, though.

Eleven of the 20 books I read in 2017 were audio books and did I ever pick 'em -- there wasn't a dud in the bunch. I love listening to a person tell/read their own story: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie. A cast of characters was right up my alley, too: Lincoln in The Bardo read by an amazing cast of characters! Bahni Turpin became a favorite voice early in the year, reading The Underground Railroad, and I sought her out again with Yellow Crocus (with the sequel, also read by Bahni Turpin, in the queue).

Sherman Alexie is another voice that I will seek, though I'm not quite sure where I will start. I enjoyed (not the correct word) his memoir immensely.

I read two books by Wisconsin author Michael Perry last year, including a recent re-read of Population 485 in preparation for seeing the stage production on January 26th. And I read stories about Alabama, written by Kathryn Tucker Windham (Mary's first cousin twice-removed, if I've calculated correctly), after reading about her on Mary's blog and prior to visiting that state for the first time.

The last book I read in 2017, F*ck That, was the most recently acquired, a belated birthday gift from Annie. Busy in the kitchen on Wednesday night, I enjoyed peeks at Ann & Ali as they perused & giggled... and when I heard Ali say that it reminded her of Sharon, I knew that I'd crack it open that night. Sharon could have written that book!

I've already set my 2018 goal at 25 books again, and... we'll see what happens! Happy Reading!!


Happy New Year!

That was December. It's hard to believe that all of that happened in one month!

The few days before/after Christmas were truly a blur.

The coffee shop was closed today, so I took the opportunity to spiff up my Make.Do spot:

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While the remodel was happening, Rusty re-worked that triangular wire display so that it ROTATES! I was able, then, to eliminate a couple of other display pieces and consolidate a bit. It's simpler and I like it better. Now, to get some yarn dyed & on those shelves!!

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I took a few other photos of the shop, too, which I will share (as promised), but for now, some of the collected coffee tins & pots that are used for decor. PLEE-ZING!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday!


Unraveled: In the nick of time

Joining Kat & friends again this week...

KNITTING:

On Christmas morning, I sat the kitchen table with my coffee and put the finishing touches on two Sleepy Kittens.

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Whiskers & a bright pink nose for Gin's:

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And the entire face situation for Jün's:

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Alabama Chanin's Button Craft Thread is perfect for whiskers on kittens... who knew?!

I'd finished knitting the "shirt" for Junah's kitten on Christmas Eve.

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It's a little more "ruffly" than I'd intended, but who cares? He certainly doesn't! I also ran out of a green and the lighter color of yarn, so one sleeve and a few rows at the bottom of the top are lighter green!

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  • Ravelry Project Page: Sleepy Kittens -- Gin's & Jün's
  • Pattern: Sleepy Kitten Set by Susan B. Anderson from Making No. 4 / LINES
  • Yarn: 
    • Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted for bodies
    • Leftovers of Sweet Georgia Superwash Worsted & Plymouth Galway Worsted for clothing
    • A couple of yards of pink from a Crazy Zauberball for noses
    • AC Button Craft Thread for whiskers
  • Needles:  5 US DPNs for bodies, 3 US DPNs for clothing
  • Start to Finish:  November 19-December 25, 2017
  • Mods:
    • I knit the first (Gin's) exactly as written -- except that I first made the nightie/dress too short and then just riffed the lengthening by extending the ribbing (which I actually like a lot as it helps prevent flipping up at the bottom).
    • For Jün's, I simplified the knitting-in of parts a bit by eliminating a needle (on the "held" pieces, pulling the back stitch through the front) so I could knit two stitches together from two needles instead of three stitches together from three needles.
    • Also, inspired by the too-short dress for Gin's, I striped only the legs and to the "waist" of Jün's kitten (not at all on the arms) and knit a separate top.

I am currently working on making additional kitten clothing!

READING:

I received some books from my Amazon Wish List for Christmas!

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In addition to Handcrafted Bitters from Ali, there was Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder from Rusty, and Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art from Kate.

I am looking forward to all of those books, but I am still enjoying Tender At The Bone, by Ruth Reichl. Hopefully, there will be a bit more time for reading now that holiday madness is winding down!

I will finish listening to You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie, today! This was an amazing book, and I'm sorry that I was unaware of Sherman Alexie last spring when he was one of the featured authors at Green Bay's inaugural UntitledTown Book & Author Festival.

How are things going with you? Are you reclaiming some knitting/reading time??


Happy Birthday!

It's a little hard to believe... no, it is 100% COMPLETELY INCREDIBLY MIND-BOGGLINGLY HARD TO BELIEVE... this this guy is 70 years old today!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I'm dreaming about recreating this photo sometime!
(I like to call it "Rusty Relaxed"!) (I was also relaxed. Haha.)

Happy Birthday, Rusty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


On Christmas Eve 1912

...in Mason City, Iowa, this first child, Virginia, was delivered to Mary & Clifford.

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Grandma and her brothers - Charles, Harold & Robert -- at the farm in Wood County

My dad was born in Iowa in 1883. After graduating from high school he left the farm to work on the railroad. When he met my mother he was a train conductor on a route serving Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota.

My mother was born in Minnesota in 1884. She graduated from Teacher's College and taught grade school in Southern Minnesota.

Traveling by train to visit relatives in Iowa, she was attracted to the handsome, helpful conductor. She had a cheerful personality (perhaps even a bit flirtatious) to break the studious, reserved nature of my dad. Her trips to visit relatives became more frequent as they began dating at both ends of the line.

So, on January 1, 1912, they were married.

My earliest memories began with the train rides I loved (and still do)! My mother had a pass and we took frequent short trips on my dad's line. The birth of brothers, Charles in 1914 and Harold in 1915, meant the end of those trips. The growing family also stirred a restlessness and desire to raise their family in the country, as they had both experienced in their childhood.

Thus, the move to the Wisconsin woods in the autumn of 1916. I don't know how they ever found this patch of woods on a little hill in Wood County!

How exhausted Mother and Dad must have been at the end of that day-long drive in the old Studebaker! The last turn up the hill was rough, muddy ruts and I've been told that this 3-year-old was screaming! I am sorry now to remember that in my early years I was probably a difficult child -- e.g. when I tagged along to the barn, observed where milk came from, and thereafter refused to drink it. Likewise, my witness to the source of eggs! And you know I still don't drink milk or eat eggs, except as camouflaged in other foods.

excerpted from my grandmother's 2001 memoir, "A Look Back"

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I'd sure love to share some eggs & milk -- camouflaged as a birthday cake -- with you today, Grandma!! I sure do miss you. Happy 105th Birthday!


Smitten with the kittens

A blurry screen shot from yesterday's 1SE video taken at Knit Night, having just attached at the head of Kitten #2.

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I didn't have the right colors with me, so I started his shirt when I got home. These guys are so flippin' cute! I can't wait to finish their faces.

In other news:

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Yesterday -- December 21st


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Today - December 22nd

The difference is almost imperceptible -- but a difference there is!! It's been overcast here and we've even had a little bit of snow -- not the 12" hinted at earlier in the week (thank god)! I'd love a good snow storm (and possible snow day) but not right before Christmas with all the travel headaches that would cause. The contingent from Spain will be winging their way west tomorrow morning, spending Christmas in Madison and coming up here mid-week or so.

It's been a crazy couple of months but it's coming together -- even if that means taking over a table at the coffee shop this morning and filling last-minute gift bags for co-workers on the spot! I'm working for most of the day today, then off for three... I'm really looking forward to next week, when I'll be off Thursday to Monday!

How's it going for you??


3TT: The Randomness of Crazy Days!

It's a two-fer on 3TT because... CRAZY DAYS! Joining Carole and friends again this week for Three on Thursday...

ONE:

We attended the official ceremony to open our city's new fire station yesterday. It.did.not.disappoint!!

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It was a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing, and I've been looking forward to it for weeks!! Honor Guard, bagpipes, ceremonial hose uncoupling and fire engine push-back. It did not disappoint. Our new firehouse is gorgeous, and very visible in the community. Jün had to use the restroom at one point, so we got a little sneak peek all our own before the official open house craziness began. There are a couple of display cases in the reception area full of fire-related antiques and memorabilia. So cool!!

TWO:

Also, yesterday, the "new" sink for my dye studio was delivered!

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Not much has been happening down there yet, as Rusty's been busy doing some work for my stepdad at Mom's house to get ready for Christmas visitors. Soon, we will begin work on this (and on rebuilding the cupboard above the fridge)!

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Meanwhile, plants are happy!

THREE:

Junah came down to admire the sink with me and all of a sudden I heard him talking very excitedly about a tiny 'barrow! Ooops!! I forgot about that! We went back upstairs but he was not going to forget that he'd seen that little wheelbarrow! He started putting on shoes and gloves, talking about filling it up with dirt -- and WALNUTS - but snow, so we'd have to shovel that off first... and let's go get it...

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Luckily, he was OK with just shoveling some crusty snow off of the pergola deck and dumping it elsewhere! And now the 'barrow resides in the shed, leaned up right by Grandpa's! Realizing that I'm not Santa, so this is not as terrible as it might have been, I told him that it was supposed to be a Christmas present from us! Haha. I'll still clean it up and put a bow on it for Christmas... and luckily, he didn't see any of the other presents hidden down in the basement!


Unraveling: Kitten knittin'

I'm a day late, but still joining Kat & friends again this week...

KNITTING:

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There's still some work to do!

I started Jün's "Sleepy Kitten" on Sunday. As far as knitted toys go, this is one of the best patterns I've tried. I've made a couple of simple mods to make the knitting up even easier, but the biggest modification is that instead of entirely striping legs, body & arms (to mimic PJs), I've striped only the legs and the lower body, and will knit a separate shirt! That idea came to me when I mistakenly knit the dress for Gin's kitten too small at first. And because I knew Junah would have fun with a removable piece of clothing!

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Gin's sleepy little kitten -- still in need of a nose!

READING:

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie, is going down as one of my favorite books of the year! I'll finish this book/listen in the next day or two, for sure.

I finished reading Population 485 on Sunday morning, waiting for Jün to wake up. It was as bittersweet & heartbreaking as I remembered.

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Participating with some friends again for the 3rd Annual Icelandic Christmas Book & Chocolate Swap (aka, Jólabókaflóð), my parcel arrived on Monday and the timing couldn't have been better! The rule at our house has always been that presents the arrive in the mail can be opened immediately... and so I did! New on my nightstand (but a long-time entry on my Goodreads list) is Tender At The Bone, by Ruth Reichl, compliments of Nancy. I will save the chocolate, though, for Christmas Eve, and savor every bite -- it actually came from Iceland! Nancy recently visited relatives there.


Year In Review: 2017

Wow. It's that time again!

As I have done sometime in December for quite a few years (since 2006?!): Year In Review.

I do it in words (the first sentence of the first post of each month) and in pictures (a favorite posted photo from each month) -- the two are not necessarily related.

January 2017:

Another reader in the making. Books, books, books!

01-January

February 2017:

(Dear February,) I don't usually look to you for comfort, inspiration, warmth... or sunshine... but, boy, I sure could use all of that and more right now.

02-February

March 2017:

(Wow. Wow. Wow.) I left Green Bay on Tuesday - Fat Tuesday - bound for New Orleans, with a stop in Chicago. 

03-March

April 2017:

Obviously, sewing buttons on a handknit baby sweater is way more fun than working on taxes.

04-April

May 2017:

In the bizarre, I assisted with some unplanned car buying last week.

05-May

June 2017:

(Dear June,) Yeah, well, I'm glad you're here.

06-June

July 2017:

We bid fare-thee-wells on Tuesday morning, sending Ann & family off to work/school.

07-July

August 2017:

(Unraveled Wednesday) Literally, on Tuesday afternoon.

08-August

September 2017:

We arrived in St. Louis late Saturday morning, and our first stop was for food!

09-September

October 2017:

On Friday night, we bit the bullet and finally ordered a new fridge!

10-October

November 2017:

(KNITTING.) I mentioned the Stillness Collection a little over a month ago; I'd ordered it, and have since received it

11-November

December 2017:

Anticipating... a fun, long(er)(than last time) weekend in St. Louis with Kate! 

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I'm sure I must say it every year: I can't quite believe the year is almost over!


Weekending...

Ali dropped Jün off on Saturday evening, and I returned him almost 24 hours later.

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Left to his own devices... 10.5 hours of snooze time!

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His new favorite place is perched on the arm of my recliner, right next to my table of treasures -- scissors, cases, measuring tapes, stitch markers, knitting needles, tools, bits of yarn, patterns -- it is endless and fascinating to an almost 4yo.

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We had a great time doing all sorts of things, including watching holiday shows (Thomas the Tank Engine and Mickey Mouse), doing laundry (he's great at matching socks!), and putting some finishing touches on the Christmas tree.


Seven

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In order: Vicki, Sharon & Karen (The Twins), [Michael, not pictured], Ann

Missing you, my seestor Sharon. Seven years... that's just crazy. Love you, miss you, thinking of you... today and everyday and always. 


3TT / It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday...

1st Thing - We had our first significant snowfall yesterday, and I discovered that I didn't have a brush/scraper in my car. (It's usually in there 24/7/365.) Now I have a new one!

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2nd Thing - We decorated the tree on Tuesday night!

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I love that Jün put all three of these ornaments together!

3rd Thing - Santa & Mrs. Claus!!

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Um???

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There was a holiday sing-along with stories, crafting, cookies, AND a visit with Mr. & Mrs. Claus at our library last night... Ho ho ho!! 🌲

Obviously, it's a little less magical for Gin than it is for Jün this year!

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Is Jün checking out Santa's ginormous watch or cool jingle bell bracelet?

That photo cracked me up! As did this one, in a display of work from the summer reading program:

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A random ack of kindness always makes the world a better place.

_ _ _ _ _

YaHOO, the weekend begins today at 4:00! There are still a few special ornaments to hang on the tree, plus stockings to hang and a few other things... and putting away all of the empty boxes. I need to take stock and get a good idea about where I stand in the gift situation -- I think I'm pretty good!

How's it going for you??


Unraveled Wednesday / The ends

Joining Kat & friends again this week...

I can't even remember the last time I sat down to knit! I'm sure it's only been a few days, but seems like forever. I am still hoping to make a Sleepy Kitten for Jün before Christmas. I want to make another dress for Gin's, too, but the deadline is looser for that.

When I have had a chance to sit & knit lately, it's been for short periods and/or full of distraction, so I've been knitting mindless scrappy color-blocked near-rectangles that will eventually turn into slippers.

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I did finish the Freak Flags!! Those are all the ends... very satisfying. The flags are flying at the shop but, of course, no photo.

READING.

On Deck:

  • I'm not sure, but it's Jólabókaflóð season and I'm participating in the third (I think) swap with some friends, so a new book should be arriving soon! I also had a few books on my Christmas list. I may need something to fill a few days... I suppose I could always slog through a few more pages of Hillbilly Elegy. Nah... more likely, I'll be scrapping that one altogether. I really can't stand it.

Bonus: WATCHING.

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I saw this on Monday night and it's the best movie I've seen in a while... I loved it, and the casting was amazing! I can't wait to watch it again at the Best Picture Festival. Sad & surprising & funny & desperate & sweet.

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It's that time of year! Thanks for all the Instagram 

Vicki

I love this! My Alabama Chanin Magdalena A-line Tunic, a sweet little dress knit for Gin, Arrows shawl, a still unfinished AC Factory Tunic, Spicey(!) and some of the fam, Maddy in her new Oblique cardigan (finished 09/2017), me modeling the all-but-finished Oblique cardigan (started 12/2007), Gin wearing one of my oldest surviving knitting projects (ca. 1983), and a very happy Colorwash Scarf.

Maddy is bringing Oblique home with her today and I'll give her a lesson in washing/blocking. She loves & wears it so much that she wants to take it with her to NZ, but needs to know how to properly care for it! I am very happy and also quite flattered, knowing how much real estate a nice roomy wool cardigan occupies inside a suitcase/backpack (but also squishy, so there's that) (and I guess it's likely that she'll wear & not pack it!).  ;)

 


It's beginning to look a lot like...

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Christmas! That's a main intersection on "The Avenue of Angels." It's not quite the one I remember from childhood, but it's way better than the "Avenue by Candlelight" that took over for a few years when the original angels were no longer usable.

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I took that quick snap on Friday night when we were on our way to the first real holiday party of the season -- most of the gang pictured above! I loved the silhouette.

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We brought the tree up from the basement on Sunday morning. I have one string to replace in readiness for a family decorating party on Tuesday night with the whole gang.

Heads up: the Snowfall Beanie by Benjamin Matthews caught my eye, and is a free Ravelry download until tomorrow 12/12). It's a nicely textured hat knit with bulky yarn... in case you're looking for something like that!


Ready, Set, OPEN!!

It's been a mad house the past couple of days, and all hands were on deck last night to prepare -- clean, arrange, organize, decorate, and set up.

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This morning was the reopening of Kaukauna Coffee & Tea, aka KC&T ("Like" on Facebook, if you'd like), following a two-week closure for extensive systems/operations upgrades and remodel! It's a little retro and a little modern, and 1000 times better in every way.

The contractor was already there this morning when I stopped on my way to work, and the electrician (my coworker) popped up from behind the counter, as both were doing some final touch-ups & connections.

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Ali is super happy to have a dedicated kid-friendly nook.

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And to finally use some "collage" resin-topped tables that she'd made quite a long time ago.

_ _ _ _ _

I'm off to a holiday party this evening. I'm hoping to get my tree up this weekend; if not this weekend, then next; and I would still be "on time" if it was the weekend after that! Let's hope it doesn't come to that... Jün was showing me the ornaments on their tree last night, and was a little concerned that I didn't yet have a tree at my house! He told me all about where they got theirs and that I could "get one on Sunday." So cute.

Also, in the random Dept. of Cute:

  • Jün was very excitedly telling me about Santa Claus' brother the other night when they were over, and it took me a few times to realize that he was talking about St. Nick!!
  • He sometimes called Ginny "Sister"
  • And now also "Honey." ❤️

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Check it out! There's a brand new deal on Craftsy each day during The Twelve Days of Craftsy -- now through December 12th!


Wrap it up - the Alabama lowdown

For over a year, I waited -- anticipated -- attending the Alabama Chanin 3-Day Workshop in November. I'd signed up almost immediately when it was announced, and it wasn't long before Kym decided to join me.

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We met at the airport in Nashville and drove to Florence, AL, home of Alabama Chanin.

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We settled into our comfy Airbnb, found a place for dinner, and awaited Workshop Day #1.

It was pretty great. Each of the participants (9 of us) had our own work table with basic supplies and materials. The clothing racks beyond held simple, unembellished examples of every DIY garment in every size for trying on. I was a bit smitten with the collection of chairs -- those shown here, as well as throughout The Factory & Cafe -- as I've been something of a collector myself (to the point that Rusty called a moratorium on chairs some years ago)!

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In addition, there were other garment racks, which I've shown before, that held embellished pieces in various colors & designs, which we could also try on.

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"The Factory" is just that. Located in a large factory/warehouse type building, one very large space is divvied up with partial walls/partitions and curtains into spaces for retail, cafe, office, shipping, social media, design, fabric handling, stenciling, cutting, sewing, production, etc. Pretty much everyone, perhaps with the exception of some cafe staff, is at least knowledgeable -- but most likely has also performed -- every process/task/job within the company. It's pretty incredible, really. Natalie Chanin has employed some of the principles of Zingerman's Community of Businesses in the development of her own Alabama Chanin Family of Businesses, which include The School of Making, The Factory Cafe and Store, and Bldg. 14.

I could go to work in that factory everyday!

On that first day, we went over design possibilities, toured the factory, tried on garments, pored over swatch books, and each made decisions about the garment we wanted to make.

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I chose the Car Jacket, with the June's Spring stencil design.

We also had lunch at the Factory Cafe.

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I just had to have a Pimento Cheese sandwich!

And then I took about a million pictures of the June's Spring section of the swatch books!

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Those are all the same design, worked in different colors and in different/similar ways... all serving to blow my mind!

And then I took about a million more pictures of the exact same thing.

And also the next day. And again the day after that.

I could have spent three full days just looking at those swatch books, to be honest.

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I mean, look at that!!

With our orders being processed, we had a little free time before meeting up with the other participants for a local tour and dinner. Kym and I decided we had just enough time to dash out for a visit to The Wall, aka, Tom Hendrix's Wall, aka Te-lah-nay's Wall.

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It's an incredible place, with an incredible story.

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Peaceful, beautiful, contemplative, surprising.

We could have spent a lot more time there, too, but I'm thankful we were able to find the time to visit at all. We went back to Florence and met our group at The Shoals Gold Record Room to board a trolley and go on a Swampette Tour of FAME and Muscle Shoals studios.

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I had been looking forward to that for a while, having even made a special playlist way back in August, and it was truly fantastic -- everyone enjoyed it and most weren't music nerds! Our tour guide was Judy Hood, a Swampette by virtue of having married one David Hood, bass player and original member of The Swampers, and true enthusiast of music*, the history of the music and these studios in The Shoals, community, preservation, and more. She was a delight!

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Workshop Days 2 & 3 were spent exploring and learning more about garment construction and techniques. We had some lovely meals at The Factory Cafe (breakfast+lunch, brunch), and met Natalie; we had front-row seats at a talk/presentation she gave about the company's history. Everyone we met during the workshop was really wonderful -- Olivia, Maggie, Erin, Corey, Leslie, Bonnie, Diane (to name a few). Oh, to return someday... I still dream about the week-long workshops (either one, or both)!

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On Sunday, Kym & I drove back to Nashville and another lovely Airbnb, first stopping to take photos of a cotton field. I had never seen anything like it before, though, if you cover the bottom part of that photo with your hand, it looks an awful lot like the snow-covered farm fields with which I am familiar!

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We stopped at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens on the way for a much-needed walk & nature break, and it was simply gorgeous.

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I was more than a little intrigued by at least parts of these pique assiette mosaic pieces (the term for which I learned just now -- who knew?).

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It was certainly not the most beautiful time of year to visit a garden, but it was far from ugly; I don't think there's ever an "ugly" season in a well-designed garden. They were just beginning to ready their holiday displays, so we even got a little peek at some of the lighted garden features (which were pretty cool even in afternoon light).

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I winged my way home and have barely had a chance to catch my breath since... Ali's shop remodel started the very next day, I'm trying to help with the kids as much as I can, Thanksgiving came & went, there was an ill-timed but previously planned (and much enjoyed) trip to Saint Louis, holiday party season is upon us, and Christmas is... what? 18 days away? Will I get my tree up???

I truly enjoyed every minute of that trip. I caught my breath only once at the beginning, when I realized that I'd be spending nearly a week with a woman that I'd previously met for lunch and a beer and to look at some art for a couple of hours, but we couldn't have gotten along better, and it was fun getting to know more about each other.

I've barely had time to even look at my Car Jacket project... ideas are percolating, and it'll be there when I'm ready!

*except rap. She told us that Dr. Dre/Beats Electronics is a supporter of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation and that, as a grateful member of the board, she supposed she should learn to like it! More than a few of us suggested that Hamilton would be a good place to start!  ;)


Dear December,

Baby, it's SO COLD outside!!

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It's December, and it should be cold... but all of a sudden?! From 58°F one day to 22°F the next -- which also happens to be Christmas Parade Day -- is brutal, and leaves zero time to acclimate!

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We did our best & bundled up good! Jün wore pants, snowpants, jacket, hood, two hats, his gloves + a pair of mine, boots, and was all wrapped up in my Parcheesi blanket besides (wool FTW!). We were lucky that we could sneak into the coffee shop for a real warm-up. The shop wasn't open, of course, but Amanda & Alex were stationed out front with free hot chocolate (aka, hand-warmers) for all. I was really lukewarm about even going to the parade, but Jün had so much fun and is so excited about everything! I'm glad I did.

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Speaking of the shop, the photo above was taken yesterday on my way to work. Casework will be installed over the next couple of days, and Ali & Rusty both just sent me a snaps as replacement of the entire front window/door situation has begun! Energy-efficient, less-likely-to-fog-up thermopanes, baby! Rusty added, "...and about 10 other things going on at once!" Final inspections are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, with official reopening at 6:30 am Friday; unofficially, we're planning Knit Night as a "soft opening" tomorrow, hopefully helping everyone get used to all that's new (which is pretty much everything)!

I'm still "processing" St. Louis! We did a lot -- an art opening, a few museums, the botanical garden, a historic site, terrific food & drink, we even went to the movies -- but not at the crazy pace of our last visit. Our Airbnb was wonderful -- one of the best so far!

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I did a fair bit of knitting while we were away, mostly in the car, and all but finished my Freak Flags. I wanted to do the last one in a color that I didn't have with me, so finished up that project on Monday night, and soaked & pinned it out last night.

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In other knitting news, I gave away my Arrows shawl! My friend recently admired it, exclaiming that it's exactly the kind of scarf she needs because it goes with everything. I told her that I'd knit one for her, though probably wouldn't get started until after Christmas. Then I decided that I should just give her the one I've already made. I think it was Mason-Dixon Kay who shared a story once about a woman who would give away her knitting to admirers... and while I'm not going to go that far, I'm so glad I gave this to my friend. I brought it last week when we met for a drink, and her excitement was all the thanks I needed. She's been wearing it a lot, so I get to see it often!

Now I'm working on some scrappy slippers that I'd started months ago! I might try to knit a pair for each of the girls before Christmas... it's all about the scrappy projects lately!

It looks as though I'm going to fall short of my 2017 reading goal by a few books, but guess what!? I finally finished Yellow Crocus! I really enjoyed the story and, of course, Bahni Turpin's reading. The story continues in the recently released Mustard Seed, which is in my queue. I am closing in on Population 485 / Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, and find that I am almost purposefully going slow with this one... And You Don't Have to Say You Love Me has finally been downloaded and is ready to go!

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This Spotify 2017 Wrapped popped up in my feed yesterday and I can't help myself! You can check your stats, too! It's kind of fun. I had just been telling Kate that I often ease into my day listening to Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony, and I was speaking truth!

One of the things I like about this wrap up is that it generated lists of my "Top Songs of 2017" and "The Ones That Got Away" -- songs that I'd probably like, based on what I already listen to.

OK, well, there's all the chitchat and busy stuff distracting me from brass tacks. Christmas is coming!! I've been pretty OK with the shopping/presents. Where things are just not happening is at home... the tree is still in the basement, ornaments & decorations are still upstairs. Stuff from the shop is everywhere -- mingled with stuff from Alabama and the stuff that was already all over the place before Alabama.

Maybe this weekend? I have to get this place in shape for the holidays and for visitors and for Maddy!

Deep breaths. It'll all come together... let it all come together!

Love, Vicki


Right Now - December

Anticipating... a fun, long(er)(than last time) weekend in St. Louis with Kate! As you read this, we are on our way... returning some artwork, taking in an opening or two, and finding some good food, drinks & music. St. Louis will be all decked out for the holidays, and that ought to be fun, too!

Cooking/Eating... Is it too late to write about Thanksgiving? We had a really nice day. Maddy & Kate arrived around noon, and Ali with the kids shortly after. We all busied ourselves with various things & playing & cooking; then Rusty, Kate & Maddy decided to take the kids for a walk/to the park so that Ali could take a little nap! (There's been so much going on in her life!) Ali & kids joined Rod's family for dinner in the early evening, so there were only four around our table.

The menu was just right:

  • Spatchcocked Turkey
  • Green Bean Casserole w/Crispy Shallots (from scratch)
  • Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Make-Ahead Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie w/freshly Whipped Cream

The green beans could have been just a bit more tender and the sauce a wee thicker, but otherwise that casserole was delicious (and the reheated leftovers were perfect). The Make-Ahead Gravy was fantastic, but it sure makes a lot! The cranberry sauce was the best I've had (inadvertently simmering for about twice the called-for time may be one reason why). Also, Rusty added a bit of coconut oil to the pie crust (because he thought he was out of Crisco), and was it ever good -- the texture was nice & crisp. I'm not sure what his ratio was, but I hope he remembers...

I made Turkey Soup on Sunday -- and loved the Make-Ahead Gravy method for making stock so much that I did it again for the soup. I think it was the best, most flavorful pot of turkey soup I've ever made. Delicious!!

Also, I'd finally reached my −20 lb. goal at Weight Watchers the Monday before Thanksgiving -- which has been so slow in coming that I'd actually set Jan. 1st (one year) as my deadline; and I made it through the holiday weekend with neither loss nor gain, and that is most certainly a WIN! Now to keep that momentum going...

Excited about... Maddy's return to New Zealand! She's been hired full-time for the vintage, and will be there from January to May.

Happy... that Christmas shopping/gifting is coming together nicely this year.

Listening... Leslie Odom Jr. / Simply Christmas - Deluxe Edition! It was my favorite last year, and I think it will be this year, too.

Looking forward to... Replacing some elderly computers. Orders have been placed, stuff is on the way. Now, if I could only get by on 3 hours of sleep... or add 8 hours to my day!

Organizing... All the Make.Do stuff from the shop!!

Planning... Christmas. We're thinking Cornish hens for dinner, and...

Sewing... Barely a stitch since returning from Alabama!!

Watching... Godless on Netflix. Actually, we've finished... but I think I might watch it again!

Wondering... What's up with you right now!?


FO: Abulón Cowl / 30

There's an FO!

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  • Ravelry Project Page: Abulón Cowl
  • Pattern: Abulón by Isabell Kraemer from the Stillness Collection
  • Yarn: Make.Do Realize Sport
  • Needles:  5 US
  • Start to Finish:  October 28-November 19, 2017
  • Mods:  I knit as written except FLAT (because  LONG STRAIGHT NEEDLES), then mattress stitched the seams. I bound off so that some of the contrasting edge showed (also, if I remember correctly, I think I ran out of the multi-colored yarn and had to improvise the ending).

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I'm fiddling with it a bit in that first photo because it's just a bit bigger/drapier than I like my cowls to be.

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So my photographer (thanks Kate!) & I tried a different arrangement. I'm not sure I like this, either, it looks like a bib or something... maybe it needs a pin. I need to play around!

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One thing you can't argue about is the beauty of that stitch pattern; combined with an eye-catching backing layer, it is next-level!

By the way, I first noticed that stitch pattern, sans background, in Melanie Berg's Open Waters Shawl and Cowl, published in Making No. 2 / Fauna. I am going to knit that shawl someday! Gorgeous!!

Anyway, I toyed with the idea of casting on another of these cowls with fewer repeats, but there's too much other stuff happening right now. One more look...

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And that wraps up another NaBloPoMo! It's been a fun month blogging and reading. Thanks for being part of it all!