Unraveled Wednesday: Darn it!

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting & mending!

KNITTING:

Can you believe it? There's not a gnome in sight...

Just a quick pic of my current knitting:

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It's a bit of a mess and I'm not in love with the color of the house @ top left, but I'm carrying on. I was knitting this pre-Covid and made some modifications of my own -- including color choices, knitting each house's sky in a different color, and adding a narrow border between each row of houses -- and ended up with two charts with scrawled, crossed-out, and scrawled again numbers... so this is a bit of a mash up! It'll be fine.

DID YOU SAY "DARN IT"?

Today's main event: my first attempts with the Katrinkles Darning Loom!

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I did not take any video, but Sarah has posted a couple demonstration videos on YouTube, if you're interested: Part 1 and Part 2.

I have an old slubby cotton cardigan from J.Jill that I wear at home -- it makes up part of my "loungewear" ensemble, along with a night shirt/gown, a pair of cropped pants, socks, slippers, and sometimes a shawl. It used to be in regular daytime rotation, but it would get stretched out and not bounce back (even with heavily ribbed sleeves because... cotton), the big buttons would get caught in the cart at the grocery store and some of the buttonholes are enlarged and it doesn't always stay buttoned, and then I wore a hole in the left elbow. Somehow, it works just fine at home, though, even with flaws.

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Hole at left sleeve elbow.

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Katrinkles Darning Loom Kit (included, but not shown: soft elastic loop for securing, darning needle, and instructions)

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I slipped the circular part inside the sleeve and positioned it so that the hole was pretty centered. The "heddle" part is put into place and it's all secured with a soft elastic band.

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Then you warp your little loom! The yarn is anchored at the heddle end, brought between a set of heddle teeth and gently pulled to cover the hole, caught in the "good" fabric just beyond the hole, and brought back up to the heddle... wrap, catch & repeat as needed!

Because this was a pretty big hole, I used a double strand of leftover sock yarn for my patch. After the warp is done, you just catch the yarn in the fabric and begin to weave. It was a last-minute decision on my part to double the yarn, so I ran out and had to cut a new length part-way through. (What's another end to weave in?)

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I started weaving from the bottom up, and removed the heddle when I got close. The "live" ends are woven & tacked down, and I did extra stitching and/or weaving wherever needed, using the "eyeball" method. Heh. And here's my first finished patch, front & back. Not too bad!

Admiring my work in the mirror, I noticed that there was a pretty bare spot on the right elbow -- not a hole, but almost, so I decided to fix that right away using a single strand of the same sock yarn.

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This time, I began by sewing running stitch along the sides & bottom of the area I wanted to patch to define the edges -- mostly an effort to keep the edges more straight & consistent. It worked okay... it's a little better. I definitely need more practice! I'm sure that using coordinating rather than contrasting yarn would make any wonkiness less visible!

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The back-side of the second patch.

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Here are both patches (and the cute unicorn scissors that was also part of Kate's gift). I love them!

I have another hole to patch in the other elbow of another favorite J.Jill sweater -- it's smaller than the first one that I patched a few years ago, but too big for the Katrinkles loom. Darn. I really like that sweater for springtime, though, so I'll probably do that soon and use the ham again.

IN OTHER NEWS:

OH HAPPY DAY!! We get to officially welcome our new President and Vice President today!!

And... it's our 36th Wedding Anniversary!

 


Mixin' it up

I was in Rio de Janeiro eight years ago! Ann & I tried to attend a Cook In Rio class the entire time I was there; thwarted at every turn, for one reason or another, until finally (miraculously), it all came together on the last day before my departure and we made moqueca!

Last weekend, we did a Zoom class with the New Orleans School of Cooking, which was extra fun because we actually visited New Orleans together -- both for the first time -- almost four years ago. She & Brian visited since then and did an in-person class at NOSC, and loved it.

You really do learn a lot about a place -- it's people, history, cultural influences -- when you take a cooking class! (Even if it's virtual.)

Well, this weekend it was a virtual trip (for me) to Lima, when Ann & I got together on Saturday with our instructor, Franco, to make the national cocktail of Peru (& Chile - different recipe) -- PISCO SOUR!

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Kate helped me test my Zoom settings from across the room beforehand, so the technology wasn't an issue this time (though I wish the volume would go a little higher on the laptop)!

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Ann received her lovely box via courier earlier in the day. It had everything but ice cubes! The pisco, simple syrup, a cocktail shaker, shot glass, limes, and serving glass -- all very festive looking!

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Her pisco.

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My pisco. (My options were very limited!)

We forgot to discuss the differences in the types of pisco with Franco, but I think it has to do with type of grape and variables in the distilling.

Anyway, the Pisco Sour was very good, and we learned some tricks for mixing & serving. (Franco has won a few awards for his Pisco Sour!) I love a lime-y drink (I will never get scurvy), so this was right up my alley... and definitely similarities with Brazil's national cocktail, the caiprinha!

We've mixed a couple other pisco recipes since then -- Andean Sidecar, above, and Count Pisco, a negroni but with pisco instead of gin!

These classes were my birthday present from Ann, and now hers is coming up this Saturday! It took over 2 months for us to get it all together for mine, so I figure I have until the end of March for hers! Haha.

Tomorrow: Mending with my darning loom!

 


Can you handle it?

Just. One. More. Gnome.

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I knit the beard & appendages and made the pom pom last night.

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If the weather cooperates, I'll drop him off today on my way home from work.

We're expecting some snow on top of the dreaded "wintry mix" all with the temp right around the freezing mark... could be "fun."

I promise something new next week, and here's a big clue:

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This was my Christmas present from Kate! I have at least three sweaters with elbows that need patching, and Ali has a pair of socks. I'm excited to give it a go (and have a few more sweaters back in rotation)!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Um. Really??

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting & reading!

KNITTING:

I bet you thought I was finished with gnomes for a while, and so did I! Then, on Saturday, I went to a drive-by surprise birthday party for my godson/boss who turned an unbelievable 40 years old on Monday (how did that happen?). His Aunt Carol was also in the party parade and she'd previously mentioned on an FB post how much she loved my gnomes, and even offered to pay me to make one...

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...and, well, that's not going to happen, but as long as I had the yarn and DPNs handy, I might as well make one for her! This, again, is Susan B. Anderson's Gnome and it's the (true) large version, just as I made for Junah. And, just as the one I made for Jün, it's not weighted right. I can re-weight/-fill him and all will be well. Notes for next time: I don't really like the shape of the body, less all-around round and more like a barrel (so knit fewer rows).

READING:

I finished Kitchens of the Great Midwest last night. It was "about" a girl named Eva, and each chapter was a different part of her story -- but she wasn't always central, and there were big jumps in time. I liked it. I'd really like to read The Lager Queens of Minnesota, another book by J. Ryan Stradal. I'm not sure what's next in pages right now (tonight)...

I'm definitely into Hamnet, though my listening time is limited.

IN OTHER NEWS:

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Junah turned 7 yesterday!!

 


Weekending... in New Orleans!

For my birthday, Ann wanted to do some sort of online cooking class together, and we finally found something that would work!

We're going to learn to make Pisco Sour -- the national cocktail of Peru -- from Franco, an award-winning mixologist in Lima. The price includes a kit, delivered by courier, with everything you need... unless you live in Wisconsin, and then you're on your own... and hopeful that you can even find pisco! Haha. Some gift, huh?

Well, a hunting I did go, and I found some! I was advised to look for Peruvian pisco, not Argentinian (they're different), and there were two varieties of Peruvian at my go-to liquor store. Naturally, I bought the more expensive one because it had this cool sticker on the back that you viewed through a window on the front... I'm easily enchanted! I did a little research on the website and found that they actually have four varieties, and their Pisco Sour recipes called for a different variety. Awaiting word from Franco...

Meanwhile, Ann sent me an email from the New Orleans School of Cooking and wondered if there was a class there that I'd be interested in. She & Brian had an in-person class there a year or two ago and really liked it. We talked on Saturday and looked over the choices/calendar together and found a class for Meat Pies & Dirty Rice... on Sunday! So we signed up!

I was positively thrilled when the confirmation email triggered a notification on my TripIt app! I got a little "ding-dong" reminder -- something I haven't heard since March!

The shopping list, recipes, and instructions were sent ahead of time, so on Saturday I went shopping. On Sunday, it was all about chopping and measuring for mise en place.

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This was my set up for the Meat Pies (puff pastry sheets thawing behind me). I had another tray set up with everything for the Dirty Rice, and all the necessary skillets, pots, and bowls were handy.

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I had some technical difficulties, so had the video up on our old laptop but the audio was on my phone (also with video, though, and that was cool because I could see Annie & her set up a little better on my phone while keeping the class feed on the laptop). The last time I used that laptop was for a Zoom class to make my wreath and everything was fine... so I dunno (technology sometimes - ugh!).

The class was 1.5 hours long (we went a few minutes over), limited to 30 participants, and I think we were numbers 26 & 27, so it was pretty full. People from all over, including a group from MN who did it as a Christmas present, which was cool. The instructor was friendly, chatty, knowledgeable, and efficient. Everything was done step-by-step, she gave us options for different ingredients, methods, and presentations.

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We got the Dirty Rice going first. Mine is not technically "dirty," as they didn't have chicken livers at the store so I had to sub a chicken thigh (apparently, it's the organ meat that makes it dirty). It's not very picturesque, but oh my goodness, is it tasty!!

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The meat pies turned out GREAT! I got a dozen out of the recipe. The class was in the afternoon, so Kate & I split a pie and had a little rice when they were super fresh. We all had same for dinner, and Rusty was warming up some rice this morning to have with an egg for breakfast. I can't wait for lunch today... guess what's on the menu!?!!

And next weekend, PISCO SOUR!

 


Eye Candy Friday: The grandchooks

As of this morning, I have 9 grandchickens on two continents.

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Maddy & Viv have Silver/Gold Laced Winedots (the ginger ones are Viv's) and a Plymouth Rock.

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It's a different season in Australia than it is here.
Ahhhh, summertime! A garden!

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And they love them so much! Maddy's always sending videos... shooing them into their coop when it's time to go to work, or just showing off how cute they are.

Well, this morning, Alison upped the CUTE CHOOK GAME!!

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One of these was getting picked on at their former home, so was given to Ali & Rod... and came with a friend! I believe they are Golden Laced Polish.

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Lordy, they're gorgeous!

Have a good weekend... take care of yourself and try to keep your blood pressure under control. Wednesday was one helluva a week, huh? I am appalled, sad, angry, disappointed... afraid. 12 more days and he'll be out -- sooner, with any luck!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Here We Gnome Again

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting & reading!

KNITTING:

Aha! It's a different gnome!

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He's not quite finished -- still needs a pom pom -- and he's far from perfect, but he sure is cute!! This is Sarah Schira's Here We Gnome Again. Though the pattern has been in my library since its release, this is the first time I've knit it. Heheheh... not the last! Sarah's collection of gnome designs is amazing (and there are others in my library)! 

HWGA has options for both fingering weight and worsted weight versions -- this one is worsted. It is/was intended for my sister Ann but, since the earliest I'll likely see her is July, I have plenty of time to try again. The centering of motifs & patterns on this guy is a little off, and I'd like to improve that, and possibly try some different yarn (perhaps some of my own hand-dyed).

READING:

In pages, I started Kitchens of the Great Midwest when I was recovering from COVID, and I'm enjoying it -- not blazing through it, but it's going quicker than some!

In audio, I restarted Hamnet the other day... with a bit more focus. I love Ell Potter's narration.

 


Makin' a plan

For the first time in memory, there is nothing on my calendar except birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, reminders. As of this moment, I have a "normal" work schedule, and my usual Wednesday day off from now to the end of time. I know that will change, but it's a bit surreal right now to scroll through my calendar... same, same, same, month after month.

I have a lot of bookwork to catch up on for both Ali and myself. I really let that slide in the last half of the year, so that will occupy the bulk of at least my Wednesdays for the next month.

Hopefully, I'll be in pretty good shape by the end of the month because...

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I will resume working on my Alabama Chanin June's Spring Car Jacket for (at least) 100 days beginning on January 31st! Here's where I left off... the last photo I took (presumably the last time I worked on it) was May 2nd.

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January 31st is far enough in the future that I can get some things done that need to be done (including organizing my workspace), and look forward to it instead of dreading it.

That's the plan, anyway. And it's on my calendar!

 


Weekending: Happy New Year!

I'm afraid I may have misled a few of you with my closing meme on New Year's Eve! I cannot remember the last time I went anywhere to celebrate the New Year; it's possible that I never went anywhere -- ever -- except for my own back yard (and to my aunt's when we were kids/teens)! Trust me, there are plenty of years that I'm tucked in & cozy well before midnight. Heh. Also, I can count the days on one hand over the past 2.5 weeks that I've worn anything other than PJs, leggings & a sweater... anywhere in my house, or even outside of my house! In fact, one day, feeling better but still not quite "well," we went for a joy ride -- to the credit union (only the drive-thru is open), the library (curb-side only these days), and just to drive down a road we'd never before traversed -- I just put my jacket on over my PJs, and even wore my slippers. What the heck, I wasn't getting out of the car.

That said, I actually went to bed on the stroke of midnight on Thursday. I couldn't watch anything on TV, though... it was way too depressing (or perhaps I tuned in at the wrong time/channel). Who in their right mind would want to review the news stories of 2020? It's all still very raw and many reminders are still in the news every damn day.

Anyway...

On Friday, I tore out the hat on Junah's gnome so I could refill and balance him better.

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I reused as much of the original yarn as I could, but the reworked has an extra bit of orange at the tip -- to coordinate with the boots, I say!

Also on Friday, Kate & I got started on our Buche de Noel. We baked the genoise, rolled it up, made the cream filling, spread it on the unrolled genoise, and then rolled it back up again. On Friday, we assembled & decorated.

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Kate did most of the Saturday work. The meringue wasn't turning out for the mushrooms (various stress factors involved), so we nixed that part and just dusted our yule log with powdered sugar "snow." The kids were impressed!! It tasted great, though next time I would cut back a bit on both the cream filling (also trying vanilla instead of chocolate) and the French buttercream frosting. Everyone cleaned their plate, and some people even had seconds!

The stars of Saturday were the kids! HUGS! KISSES!! CUDDLES!!!

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Davy is smiling & giggling! Malina seems so old now, and is a little sassy! Ginny was her usual chill & ultra-cool self. Junah... is Junah!

I didn't take very many photos, and regret that I didn't get one with Junah (not for lack of trying... but my request was denied!). We'll be going out there a week from tomorrow for a little birthday celebration, so maybe then.

It was so great to see them. Rusty took Junah & Ginny sledding on a nearby hill while I started getting the pot roast ready & in the oven. We had a nice dinner, the kids loved their presents (and so did the adults), we played...

It was just perfect.

 


So long, 2020

Here's my Top Nine (IG) for 2020:

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I have to laugh that 4 of 9 feature Davy's SAFE AT HOME blanket!  😂  There's lots of colorful knitting, the inspiration that is Kaffe Fasset (I've been a fan since the 80s), a new grandson, another trip around the sun (Hello, 62), and the Marriage Window finding its place after 35+ years. The Garden Room expansion was a huge unexpected bonus this year.

I'll leave you with this... it made me laugh!

133761885_1106609759793581_3058921497692483728_oHAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!

 


Year In Review

Here we go again 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 2020:

Everyone seems to be where they want to be, or are on their way, or are making plans.

01-Jan

February 2020:

My new insurance cards came in the mail last week, along with the little booklet of benefits.

02-Feb

March 2020:

It looks like there might be 8 of us (so far) taking the leap!

03-Mar

April 2020:

I can't believe how long it's been since I've done an "Unraveled Wednesday" post!

May 2020:

Well, April flew right on by, didn't it?

05-May

June 2020:

I have purchased books and donated money.

06-Jun

July 2020:

For months, I've had this refrain/response popping into my head on the regular: I'm not doing it right.

07-Jul

August 2020:

This is not a very exciting photo, but Ann sent it last night from Lima!

08-Aug

September 2020:

It is all Ducky a lot of the time (lately)!

09-Sep

October 2020:

I'm worn out.

10-Oct

November 2020:

In which we embark on the TWELFTH year of NaBloPoMo-ing!

11-Nov

December 2020:

[I'm going to learn to bake a cake!] Ha. And not just any cake... Christmas Cake!

12-Dec

Bonus:

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In August, Kate & I bought a travel trailer and started renovating & updating. Shortly thereafter, Kate adopted an adorable rescue terrier that she called McGregor. Even in this weird year -- or perhaps because of this weird year -- things/situations sometimes quickly change. Kate learned that the UK was once again accepting visa applications and moving to the UK has been a goal for a long time. After some soul searching and consideration of future wants/needs, along with research into cost/logistics of moving abroad with a dog, and keeping the long-term well-being of McGregor foremost, she decided to return him... where he was quickly adopted again because, OMG, what a sweet & smart dog he is (says someone who is not a dog person)... and hopefully he's found a stable forever home. Meanwhile, Kate has been approved by Arts Council England to apply for the Global Talent Visa, and if all goes as planned, she'll be headed to the UK/Scotland in spring... like March!! (Unless things change, because good god...) I know that someday she'll have a dog again -- when it fits. As will Maddy, who is having to settle for chickens right now due neighborhood/rental rules at their current residence. Heh.

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

This year, like no other before if: I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL THIS YEAR IS OVER!!! BURN!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: 2020

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share a review of my 2020 Knitting & Reading!

KNITTING:

It was an OK year! Details of all on Ravelry; I am knitorious.

2020-Knitting

Completed:

  • (1) Cardigan
  • (1) Pair of beaded, fingerless mitts
  • (2) Shawls
  • (1) Pillow
  • (1) Epic baby blanket
  • (1) Messy bun hat
  • (4) Christmas Trees
  • (3) Gnomes*

Started/Current WIPs:

  • (1) Shawl for a friend (no deadline)
  • (1) Village Pillow (fuzzy deadline)
  • (1) *Gnome that needs fixing
  • (1) Gnome for my sister Ann

 

READING:

I didn't meet my arbitrary "goal," but I did manage to read a couple more books than last year (though around 300 fewer pages)!

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Pages:

Audio:

I also listened to Break Shot: My First 21 Years, James Taylor's memoir on Audible and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Dabbled/started (audio): Beowulf, So You Want to Talk About Race, and Hamnet; and purchased five other titles that I haven't even begun yet. I'm going to restart Hamnet very soon!

And in pages, I added:

 


To pass the time

OMG. I don't think I ever watched so much TV as while recovering from Covid... and knitting gnomes, of course.

There were three days during recovery when I didn't even hit 1000 steps, three more that were well under 2000. I am still well under my meager goal most days, but wow... from the bedroom to the bathroom to my chair & repeat for almost a week. Crazy. I never went outside on those days, either, but I did open the door a few times.

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Speaking of gnomes, I finished Junah's last night! (I may cut off the hat, re-stuff & re-knit... he's just not weighted/sitting right). Anyway, there's the whole Wayside Gang! From left: Malina's, Ginny's, Davy's, and Junah's.

BTW, Ali messaged the other day and said that Junah has started calling Davy "Junior," and now that's his name forever and ever. So adorable! We're getting together on Saturday for a belated Christmas, and then we'll go out there in a few weeks for Junah's SEVENTH birthday! I can hardly believe it.

Anyway, back to our viewing over the past almost two weeks:

We watched several episodes of the Great British Baking Show (holidays!), Grand Designs, Cabins In The Wild, and Nick Knowles' Original Home Restoration -- think home improvement, but in the UK! Thatched roofs and crazy old stuff. What I found interesting was that often, at the end of the show, the project wasn't even finished. It was like, "time's up, here's where it's at." It was kind of refreshing, in a way... a bit more REAL.

We started watching/re-watching Vikings from S3 because the final season will be released in a few days and we're getting primed.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was... good. There was a lot I liked, some aspects that I wasn't crazy about (sort of stage-y, to me), but the costumes and sets were incredible!

It had been a long time since I watched The DaVinci Code, and don't think I'd ever seen Angels & Demons before.

Vanity Fair was good!

Can you believe we've never seen Die Hard? We watched the original, sometimes billed as a "Christmas movie," and it was pure adventure and craziness. Oh, and I'd seen a post on the This Was Hollywood IG account that Die Hard was Alan Rickman's first-ever movie role... and I knew that we'd be watching Love Actually at some point... it just seemed fitting.

The Family Stone is finally growing on me... it's practically blasphemous, I know, but Diane Keaton is usually just a little too loopy-hippy-dippy for me, so I've poo'd it in the past. But she's really not too bad in this movie, and some of the other performances -- Sarah Jessica Parker (also not a favorite) is casting perfection.

The Proposal is just FUN! Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, and Craig T. Nelson (also the dad in The Family Stone)... goofy rom-com.

I didn't ball my eyes out quite as much as usual watching Love Actually this year... but still went through plenty of tissues!

BRIDGERTON!! People! This series is such a treat in so many ways! We have two episodes left... probably this evening.

So, all that and a few gallons of VitaminWater are what helped get me through! And lots of sleeping.

 


Weekending

Heh. That was a long one. I can't believe it's been nearly 3 weeks!!

I'm popping in REAL quick to say HI!

There's nothing new for anyone who follows along on FB or IG. More details may be forthcoming in the future but, in short, I tested positive for COVID on the 17th (Kate did, too, and Rusty also had symptoms). I had been feeling a little "iffy" for a few days prior (but with none of the more common/telltale signs: no fever, no loss of taste or smell, and other symptoms developed after-the-fact rather than being a "tell"). Kate told me that my lips were turning a little bit blue on the evening of the 18th... thankfully that turned around! I was super sick/tired/achy all that weekend and early last week, and then sl0wly started to pull out of it with a bit of improvement each day.

A week ago I printed a pattern and gathered some supplies, but it took two days to muster the energy to cast on, and then the floodgate opened...

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A little parade of gnomes has been falling off my needles ever since. I'd knit at least four of these guys a couple of years ago... from Susan B. Anderson's Gnome pattern, recently updated to include mods for a Big Gnome.

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I'm not very good with flipping pages back & forth to incorporate new+old directions, even in the best of times, so two of these gnomes are more medium sized. Heh. I finally notated the original pattern w/changes for the larger size and the one in the middle reflects that a bit more accurately! From left to right, these are for: Davy, Ginny, Malina. And I cast on Junah's while I watched the Packer game last night. They're so cute and fun to knit, with just a little bit of fiddly -- details that really make them shine (IMHO).

I hope you all had a good holiday -- made the best of it. I haven't seen my grandkids in a few weeks and I'm excited for a belated Christmas with them (date still TBD).

Anyway, I'm/we're feeling a little more energetic everyday! Definitely better... and I'm looking forward to putting 2020 in my rear-view.

 


3TT: Randomness!

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

ONE. Have you heard of "cocoa bombs"? Are they big by you? I mean, like, can't find them anywhere and/or keep up with demand? Ali's POS/online ordering system couldn't keep up last week when she announced a batch!

It's both a blessing and a curse. A small business like Ali's needs every little bit these days, so she's doing her best to ride the wave and keep up... no small feat with four kids between 3mo and 6y at home! Also, standards. They're gorgeous and her nana would be proud.

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Anyway, she's sells them in boxes of two or four. I packed up two 4-packs yesterday to send to one of Ann's former assistants (and her family) here in WI who is recovering from covid.

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It's a large chocolate shell filled with cocoa mix and other things, depending on flavor... a truffle, mini marshmallows, peppermint pieces, etc. You put them in the bottom of a mug -- and these are HUGE, so the biggest one you've got -- and slowly pour in hot milk; the shell melts and the filling "explodes." Junah was quite impressed in the test video that Ali sent us. Haha.

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As you might guess, they're pretty fragile, so I wrapped each one in plastic wrap, so that even if there was breakage, it would still be salvageable to make a cuppa cocoa. There's a couple layers of bubble wrap + parchment underneath, along with crinkle paper all around -- and then more packing material in the actual shipping box. I'm anxious to see how they fare...

(I had a bag of yarn delivered the other day that was torn completely open... thankfully nothing was missing or damaged! I think a large gap in the packaging got caught in some equipment.)

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Since I was in packing mode, I finally got a couple of boxes put together that I've been meaning to send for over a year. It feels so good to have those things on their way!

TWO. Kate's mixing up some tinctures in order to make bitters, and eventually some kickass cocktails.

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She'd given me the book Handcrafted Bitters for Christmas a few years ago and I've made a few things... but, you know, this year we're at next level with all.the.things! Some of these tinctures are ready today!

THREE. Finally, the sky this morning grabbed me from the minute I walked out the door.

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The photo above (from outside my garage) doesn't really do justice, but you can kind of see that something cool is going on beyond those branches. When I left the coffee shop a few minutes later, I saw the girls standing outside the door to have a look-see. And by the time I got to work:

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And still pretty stunning a few minutes later.

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Happy Thursday, peeps! The weekend is almost here!

 


Weekending

I had a couple of kiddos at my house for almost 24 hours and I didn't take a single photo of them. With apologies to Kym, that's unprecedented!

I did take a few photos of some knit Christmas trees. Here's one:

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And since that photo was taken, the "forest" has grown by one! Kate laughed about how she hasn't seen me knit a single stitch on one, they're just "magically appearing." Ginny was playing with them as if they were dolls -- family, actually. The green ones were Mommy & Daddy, this pink one was Ginny, and the other one (a bit smaller, variegated pink & blue) was Malina... there was a request to "make" Junah & Davy ("with a 'bubba'," she laughed). I will certainly do so... they're fun & super quick to knit!

The pattern is Holiday Trees, available at WEBS. I'm knitting mine in Malabrigo Chunky, leftovers from some of Kate's recent projects. I'm not stuffing them in any way, they are sturdy enough to stand on their own, plus I really like the "Suess-y-ness," though I might get styrofoam forms for a couple -- as I was demonstrating/stretching, I really liked how it looked with the garter ridges spread apart.

(Kate, by the way, is knitting up a storm... four or five cowls in recent weeks, and now she's making the headbands that Kym posted the other day.)

I took delivery of some yarn over the weekend, so I'm back to knitting houses.

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Turns out, I wasn't happy with my previous start, so ripped that all out (hence the tree-knitting while awaiting deliveries). This is the "Village" design from MDK Field Guide N0 16: Painterly again, this time in the Rowan Felted Tweed specified in the pattern. Oh my, it's been ages since I knit with Rowan... it is very nice yarn. Heh.

ICYMI (on FB):

Junah negotiating with his sister on Saturday night about what movie to watch:

“...but Ginny, I’ve been wanting to watch that for years!

He’ll be 7 next month. 🤣🤣🥰😂❤️🤣

 


Great Aunt Loretta

I attended my first livestream funeral service today.

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My Great Aunt Loretta died on Tuesday at the age of 96, the last of my grandparents' siblings. She is seated at my grandmother’s left in the photo above, the flower girl at my grandparents' wedding in 1929. That's a detail of the photo below.

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Loretta had just turned five -- as had the little ringbearer who was my grandfather's nephew -- and the wedding must have been so exciting for her! (The two men standing are my grandpa's brothers, the seated gent is my grandma's brother, the seated girl is grandpa's youngest sister, and the woman standing behind Loretta was my great aunt by both birth and marriage -- my grandma's cousin, she married my grandpa's brother -- the one to his right -- a few years later. The other woman is unidentified, "maybe a cousin.")
/familyhistory

I have so many fond memories of visiting the farm that Aunt Loretta & Uncle Al owned -- they were our only farmer relatives, so it was always novel to us, even getting zapped by the electric fence and stepping in cow pies. Sometimes there was a bull in the barn, and always kittens! Loretta & Al (who died 10 years ago this month) had seven children: four older than me (a couple by not too much), one who died in infancy the year that I was born, and two younger than me! I was sad that none of them spoke at the service, but I did catch a glimpse of a couple.

Rest well, (Great) Aunt Loretta.

 


An eclectic mix

It's that time of year when the "wrap-ups" and "best ofs" begin! I received "Your 2020 Wrapped" from Spotify yesterday.

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I love these things.

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Leon Bridges knocked Gregory Alan Isakov off the top slot. I think GAI held that position for at least two years. I'm thrilled to see Harry Styles on the list.

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No big surprises here, I listened to all of these songs A LOT!

Here's the full list if you'd like to have a listen... it's an eclectic mix! I love that Waylon Jennings is in the Top 10!

Maybe you'll find something you like, or an artist that you'd like to explore more. I'm excited to explore the related playlists provided by Spotify: Missed Hits (top songs that I may have missed) and On Record (a mix of talk & music from some of my top artists).


A word

I've had an unsuccessful attempt or two at having a WORD... One Little Word or a Big One... it didn't matter, it just never quite clicked.

But I think I've found one... not just for today or this year, but FOREVER. It comes to mind often, and today a version of this appeared in front of my eyeballs:

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PRACTICE.

That's my Forever Word.

That is all.

 


I'm going to learn to bake a cake!

Ha. And not just any cake... Christmas Cake!

And not just any Christmas cake... Le Bûche de Noël!

And not with just anyone...

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My fabulous friend for such a long, long time Kate Gilbert -- former knitwear designer extraordinaire (Clapotis, anyone? 23,400+ projects and counting) and creative director of Twist Collective, currently applying all that amazing creativity to baking as le gâtelier -- is offering a pre-recorded video course with step-by-step instructions with everything from choosing the ingredients to making meringue mushrooms.

Meringue mushrooms!!

This is a limited pre-sale for only $50, and if you're interested in more info or signing up, here you go: Bûche de Noël pre-sale.

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We've begun to jot down some ideas about our Christmas menu, too.

For sure, THERE WILL BE CAKE!! 😜

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.30 | That's a Wrap!

I can't believe it's the last day of November. I'm pretty sure I've said that on the last day of just about every month for the past two decades, but especially for the past nine months!

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Button "doorknobs" affixed, no tufting, taken in the o'dark-thirty of the morning before leaving for work... just turning cobalt outside.

Yesterday, I made good progress on a similar project, also destined to be a pillow but possibly square. I'll have to decide that before I do anything else.

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This is the "Village" design from MDK Field Guide N0 16: Painterly

I've done intarsia only a handful of times... it's fiddly and tangly and this is far from perfect and I'm OK with that. There may be some improvement when the ends are woven in and it's blocked!

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I'm making do with what I have while I await a yarn order (or two), and made a color card with my subs. The yarns for #11 & 13 are on the lighter side weight-wise, but I'm OK with that, too. Making do.

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.29

First attempt:

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Already undone and moving on to another idea. The "tufting" is too loose, but I don't want to make it tighter because it won't look/feel that great. Also, not centered... I usually like things on the asymmetrical side of things, but not this.

It seems like most things are taking three tries these days... maybe I'll get away with two for this!

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.28 | Parcheesi Day

It's practically a tradition that I celebrate the anniversary of the day I bound off the last stitch on my Parcheesi Blanket!

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Here is my original FO post. It's a trip down memory lane to read some of the names in the comments... also a bit melancholy.

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It's been 10 YEARS!!

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Can you believe it? Parcheesi was my first epic project... it's still in regular use and will always be a favorite.

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.27

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

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We brought the tree up yesterday and I replaced the two dead light strings that I'd removed last year when we took it down. Kate's hanging the stockings on the staircase.

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Kiddos commenced with decorating when they arrived.

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Junah made some new ornaments! :)

We had a nice day yesterday, even with a broken ornament or two and a piece of pumpkin pie w/whipped cream face-down on the floor.

Whatchagonnado?

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.25 | Safe redux

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting & reading!

KNITTING:

If you have a really great memory, you might recall that I started knitting a Safe At Home "audition" before starting Davy's blanket, and I've been working on that again.

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I started with the three houses and then did a log cabin-style frame around them to get to the desired dimensions.

I'm going to make it into a tufted pillow for Maddy & Viv for Christmas. I can tell you because neither of them/no one in my family reads my blog. I have a down pillow form and I'm going to use some of the linen that I used for Ducky's curtains to make the back, and then I'm going to find some little buttons, aka DOORKNOBS, for the tufting. I want to make similar pillows for Kate & Ali, and for Annie, too, I think. I have three more forms! I am dying to try some of Kaffe Fassett's houses in the new MDK Field Guide N0 16: Painterly!

READING:

Recipes and wish lists.

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.24

Nothing's really coming together today, and I'm feeling pinched for time, too. This time of year, right? I'll be off the rest of the week, but it's loaded up with stuff to do.

So, I thought I'd share a few photos from our trip to the North Shore... all about the light, color, texture.

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This was the view from our "cottage." And this was sunrise. I slept OK up there, but I saw the sun rise on most days. I loved the texture of these trees.

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We hiked at Split Rock, Gooseberry Falls (where Kate camped), and Tettegouche... we really lucked out in the weather department. These photos scream knitting inspiration to me... colorwork and cables. You can really see where some of the amazing color combos come from in Shetland and Fair Isle knitting, can't you?

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Ever since I took a class with Fiona Ellis a few years ago... OK, how in the world was that 14 years ago?

Anyway, I remember Fiona Ellis talking about tree roots and how fascinating they are, and wouldn't it be fun to try knitting some? I've taken photos of interesting tree roots ever since. Trying to make sense of the scene above just about blew our minds. How the... ?? Anyway, that's some big-time inspo.

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And that's Rusty on the day we left for home... the "worst" day. Stitches on his nose from a fall on those very same rocks a few days earlier, he just couldn't stop himself. BTW, the stitches were removed about a week and a half ago and the scar is barely visible unless you're really looking for it.

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.23 | Weekending

On Saturday afternoon, Kate & I finally hitched up Ducky to haul out to Ali's for the winter. One of the tires was very nearly flat -- like, too flat to drive anywhere. But guess what? I have a "new" air compressor -- purchased last year in MI when my old one died while Kym & I were airbrushing fabric -- and it has a fitting for tires. Kate fished out Ducky's extension cord while I ran for the machine and we were on the road in no time.

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It's looking very much like November.

We brought the three big kids -- Yes! Malina is now a BIG KID!! -- home with us and Kate set them all up to make some "candy" decorations.

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Of course they all did their own thing!

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Ginny spent a lot of time squirting paint onto her plate and stirred herself up quite a slurry.

“I’m making a rainbow, Auntie Kate. Auntie Kate, listen to me. You have to use all the colors, okay? You have to make the rainbow before you can put the rainbow on.”

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Plastic plates, cellophane, ribbon & some stakes. It's so darn cute. Rusty put the "light array" on the front door and I hung my wreath -- the same old pinecone wreath that I always have on the front door (the door's open, so you can't see that part in the photo above). The new one that I made is just a little too big for the front, so I hung it on the pergola. I had one out there several years ago and really liked it -- we see & enjoy it ourselves in that location more than on the front door, anyway. All I want in front yet is a light on the espalier tree.

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.22 | Weights & Measures

Sarah asked if I had any idea how much yarn I used when knitting Davy's Safe At Home Blanket.

I didn't, really, so the next time it came along with Davy, I weighed it.

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Here are the stats:

1140 grams | approx. 2.5 pounds

approx. 11.4 100g hanks of fingering/sock weight yarn
(yarn held double throughout)

approx. 5,245 yards | 4,800 meters

I kept tabs on my trimmings, too.

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This cute fabric tote that I found at a shop in Cornwall last year (which seems like 10 years ago) was handy on the table next to me, so I just started filling it up with trimmings.

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They're pretty much all there except for the ends trimmed while we were camping.

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I accidentally changed units from grams to fluid ounces in the middle of weighing this morning -- so it's a little off (and I wasn't going for complete accuracy, anyway). It's just mild curiosity... that equals over 100 yards of yarn trimmings! Haha.

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.21

Random blast from the past.

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Weaving, ca. ?th grade art class. Front.

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Back.

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Detail.

I have no idea what my inspiration was. I'm sure the color combo was "chosen" from what was presented. It's faded a lot! I took these photos over 2 years ago... after which I might have tossed it.

But maybe not.  :)

 


NaBloPoMo 2020.20 | TGIF

I spent most of the morning getting the Airbnb ready for what may be our last guests this year... there's nothing else on the books! I did have all of December blocked off for a while when I thought Annie & her family might be coming, needing a place for work/school/quarantine.

My back is telling me that maybe I should consider long-term rentals again. Heh.

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I finally put the down comforters on the beds! The natural light in that apartment is amazing... this room was our bedroom when we occupied the entire house.

Anyway, I'm pretty amazed at how well we did with the Airbnb thing this year, and hopefully it will continue.