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November 2017

IG Best Nine 2017

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.

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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!?