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September 2011
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November 2011

Before & After

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I had a little bit of yarn in the original dyed color left after knitting the Chunky Fifth Avenue Infinity Scarf, so I knit it into a quick garter stitch cup cozy and coaster. Yikes, huh? If the proportions were reversed, I think I might have been able to live with it... maybe even love it.

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I never even took a picture -- it was hideous -- so try to imagine, if you will. I like it SO much better this way -- which is actually not quite so blue (you can see the overall blue-ish tinge to my white background). I'll be winding off another 250 yards or so for Katie to knit one for herself -- color yet unknown, though I can see from Pinterest that she's favoring a particular green.

NaBloPoMo Original Whad'Ya Know? was a lot of fun! I've never been in a live radio audience before. I raised my hand to be a quiz contestant both times, but it was a day for the young trombone players. We had a wonderful lunch at Caffe Mario, and then stopped at LedgeStone Vineyards for a little taste and to choose some wine for dinner. I made cioppino!

That's all for now. Tomorrow is the start of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) 2011 and I'm in again. If you'd rather write a novel in November, check out NaMoWriMo. There's still time to sign yourself up!

See you tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next...

Let's get this party started

It's over a week 'til my birthday, but festivities commence this weekend with tickets for tomorrow morning's live broadcast of Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know? in Green Bay. Listen for me! Ha.

I think we'll meander home and find lunch somewhere, and maybe some wine. It's my birthday!

Mom's gift to me is a morning with her cleaning lady at my house, and I just scheduled that for the middle of next month. I had a regular cleaning lady a long, long time ago. It's been a long time. This is just the motivation I need right now to organize and clean out some of the crap that's been weighing me down!

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The sky has been pretty cool lately. I love the different shades of blue at top and bottom of this photo from yesterday (southerly, on my way to the mailbox at work).

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I'll be dyeing again this weekend. I started knitting this and it's not working -- there's no punch. Also? I've realized that I like darker, richer, more saturated color. (Oh, really?) I love the bottom third of this, but the rest... eeeeek! So, back to the dye pot. Stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!!


To 5th Avenue and beyond

I did a lot of dyeing yesterday. Almost all of these items were still damp, to some degree, when photographed.

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  • Project: Fifth Avenue Cowl (A Cowl for Nick by Margaux Hufnagel) (You want one, too!)
  • Yarn: 100% Merino 3-ply, bulky weight, 250 yards, Make.Do.Dyed for Project Spectrum - Yellow*
  • Needle: US 10-1/2, circular
  • Mods: None!
  • Start to Finish: October 21 to October 24, 2011

So, besides the fact that yellow is just really not my color -- I believe there's a total of ONE "yellow" article of clothing in my wardrobe -- there was far more deep purple than light muddy purple-brown in this finished yarn, making it very Viking-esque (a fact I haven't been able to shake that since it was brought up in the comments). It never occurred to me at the time, just as it never occurred to me that the green and gold border I cross-stitched on my husband's Christmas stocking was Packer perfect; apparently, those worlds just don't collide in my creative mind. Heh.

It may have worked if the proportions were different, but I knit it all up making the final decision to throw it all back into a pot o' purple. It turned out pretty great, I think, "glow-y" and with lots of depth. I really can't wait to wear it, and I promise a modeled shot.

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As I told Ali yesterday, while showing her this yarn, I needed a pale sky blue yarn for the Sky Scarf. She said, "Oh, for a sky like today's?" Um, yeah! I need a pale gray and a white (next month is neutrals) and then I think I'll be set. I still haven't settled on a shape/project.

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Especially when compared to my previous PS dye test skeins, but even without, I doubt one would guess these were all tests for the same color*. The flavor of the month is cyan/aqua!


This is also the first time I dyed the finish/project skein at the same time as the test -- sometime the tester is just too small to really see the full effect. There are parts of this that I absolutely love, and parts that I'm not so crazy about. I'm not sure what this will become.

*It's all exploration and experimentation, at this point, and if I learn something or am further intrigued or motivated, then I'm happy... no, I'm thrilled!


Squash Lasagna

My search for the Pumpkin Lasagna that I remember has been unsuccessful; even a request to the source didn't come up with exactly what I was looking for... the one that I remember. She sent a LOT of other great, savory squash recipes, though, and is one of the few people I know who is an actual Gourmet Cook, so it's entirely possible she just made it on the fly with whatever she had that day.

I made this: Butternut Squash Lasagna*

I used acorn squash instead, because that's what I had. I partially cooked it this afternoon, in the same manner that I'd cook a pumpkin (halved, cut-side-down in a pan w/1/4-inch of water at 350F) and then stored it in the 'fridge until I was ready to assemble. Lemme just say that acorn squash isn't really something you want to peel. I sliced one and then cut off the shell, but mostly I just scooped it out as slab-like as I could. There's that to keep in mind. I used two small and one large squash.

I used a combo of grated mozarrella and gruyere, and didn't use the Sage/Lemon Brown Butter, but otherwise followed the recipe and IT WAS SO GOOD! I had to share... and record what I did before I forgot.

The recipe in my mind did not use lasagna noodles, did not have meat of any kind, and the squash was not mashed, pureed or cubed -- it was sliced. It took a few intensive searches to finally find the recipe above, and I found it on Pinterest! Yay!!

*No photo... that time of year is here! It is my goal, before too long, to have a semi-permanent lighting set up that I can haul around to wherever in the house I'm working... sewing in the front room, knitting in the living room, cooking/dyeing in the kitchen (never at the same time), whatever, wherever!


Little Monster

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The sweetest kind! A curly-headed squishy-cheeked little boy monster!!

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Not-so-great phone pics might just be the best I can do, so that's we'll go with.

  • Project: Little Monster (Das Monster) by Hrönn Jónsdóttir
  • Yarn: Plymouth Encore, worsted weight, stripes
  • Yarn: Plymouth Encore, DK weight, red, held double for "mouth"
  • Yarn: Lamb's Pride, worsted weight, various bits for the eyes and teeth
  • Needle: US 8, DPNs
  • Mods: Knit a pretty long ribbed cuff (shown rolled up); also forgot to do the eyelets for the drawstring, so drew 4-5 lengths of black elastic cord through waistband and tied them off, then knitting a little "pocket" in which to hide the knot. The idea is that the elastic can be let out and the cuff unrolled for at least another year's wear. 
  • Start to Finish: September 8, 2011 to October 13, 2011. Adorable, and so so cozy! 
  • I'm in a bit of a slump. Let's hope the 3-day weekend that starts in a few hours helps. I am determined -- determined, I tell you -- to do some sewing! There's also dyeing on the docket (isn't there always these days?). And, and, and... we'll see what happens.

    Happy weekend!


    Ten on Tuesday: Pumpkins!

    Ten on Tuesday: 10 Ways to Eat Pumpkin

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    1. Pie, of course. I roasted up a pie pumpkin on Saturday and when I returned home from the game on Sunday there was a fresh pumpkin pie!

    2. Bread. I haven't made any this year (actually, in years), but maybe tomorrow.

    3. Pumpkin lasagna. Let's hope I can find this recipe again -- I know I had it once, and an online search didn't turn up what I was looking for. It's meatless and doesn't use pasta -- the partially cooked pumpkin (and/or squash) is sliced and used as "lasagna noodles." Oh, so yum.

    4. Pumpkin soup, though I've never actually made pumpkin soup. On Saturday, "I made the best soup," with roasted veggies -- butternut squash and carrots among them, and pumpkin would definitely work! It was Kale & Roasted Vegetable Soup; my mods being that I used almost double the carrots, and a whole squash, maybe 2 cups of water in addition to a large container of veggie broth, and 2 cans of beans. It was hearty, maybe more stew than soup, but not super-thick. Oh, so yum.

    5. Pumpkin seeds. Pie pumpkins have the best, most flavorful seeds for roasting. We are now officially pumpkin seeds snobs. Heh. I drizzle with just a bit of oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and roast at 350F 'til they're done -- stirring and checking every 5 minutes until it's close and then every 2 or so.

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    6, 7, 8, 9, 10. I guess I need to expand my horizons because that's about it for my pumpkin repertoire! It's times like these when Ten on Tuesday really comes in handy.

    * * * * *

    I had my hair cut on Friday after work. At least six inches lopped off in the back, but the front looks pretty much the same so no one is noticing much. Which is fine. I feel like I have a little secret. No photos yet. It feels great! I don't have curly hair, but it has body and waves, and it just feels fun. I can still pull it back into a wee ponytail when I need to (more important than it should be)!

    I did some dyeing over the weekend, though not as much as planned. Prep took longer than intended -- measuring, winding, oops, re-winding the yarn -- and by the time it went in to soak late on Saturday, I was out of gas and just left it overnight. I figured out my method and did the deed on Sunday morning; I'm not thrilled and it'll probably get hit with some more dye tomorrow.

    I ended up at Lambeau Field for the football game on Sunday -- VERY last minute, but loads of fun, and what a gorgeous day! It was windy, but we were protected for the most part.

    I finished some knitting -- another buttoned cowl with the other walnut-dyed yarn. It's washed and blocked, waiting for me to go hunting for buttons!


    Caera Cowl - finito!

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    Since I only hulled about half of the 5-gallon bucket full of walnuts and, as I am wont to do, left the rest in situ, the pergola patio has been something of a Free 24-hour Walnut Buffet.

    Squirrel smorgasbord

    The squirrels have been enjoying it very much.

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    We had quite a bit of rain on Tuesday night, so there was a little natural walnut brew happening in the bucket yesterday. I almost used it, but it was "buggy" and my immediate reaction was to get rid of it. I suppose it would have worked out okay... perhaps taking "natural dyeing" to another level for me. I already have some hulls drying in the basement for further exploration with this material and that's good enough for now.

    From the beginning

    It was a pretty good "natural" setting to photograph my walnut-dyed knitting project.

    Coconut buttons

    I purchased buttons yesterday and sewed them on right away! (!!) They are resin-coated coconut shells, and this is actually the back (or "wrong") side of very shiny, brightly colored buttons.


    I love 'em.

    Cable mod

    Cables. Texture. Mmmm, it's been a while.

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    • Project: Caera (Caera Cowl) by Lucy Sweetland , {a black pepper}
    • Yarn: BFL Superwash, DK weight, Make.Do.Dyed with black walnuts from my back yard
    • Needle: US 8, straight
    • Mods: Knit flat and added a button band. Changed the larger, mirrored cables by weaving them (over/under).
    • Start to Finish: October 6, 2011 to October 12, 2011. I cast on and did the ribbing at the first of the new "1st & 3rd Thursday Knit Night" at KC&T; knit a LOT in the car and while visiting over the weekend; finished and cast off Sunday night during the football game; washed and blocked on Monday night; dried on Tuesday; finished on Wednesday!

    I love this thing. I am in no way wishing for colder weather, but I know it's coming... and I'm gonna be ready!

    Ten on Tuesday: Weekend update

    Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things I Did This Weekend

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    1. Road trip! Heh. Not across the pond -- that's Isle of Cumbrae, above -- but across the state! The weather was similarly spectacular, though, for our three-day weekend.

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    2. The long way. We took "the long way" on way west through our little metropolis -- though not as far west as the Port of Oakland (above)! We drove the newly opened eastern section of Wisconsin Avenue in Appleton -- shut down the last TWO summers for construction -- and significant because that's where my most-local LYS, Iris Fine Yarns, is located. We didn't stop this time, but I've stopped plenty in the last couple of years -- pfft, "Road Closed"? Watch me.

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    3. Westward-ho. We chose US Route 10 as the departure point for our meandering trip to far northwest Wisconsin. Along the way we checked out a new shop I'd heard about, The Knitting Nest* in Weyauwega. There were two other customers in the store at the time, one of whom I recognized -- she used to work in the children's department at our library! It was funny to run into "neighbors" at a shop so many miles from home.

    Grandpa's birthday

    4. The Kitchen Table. We were close to Marshfield when we started to get hungry, so drove into town to see what we could find. I remembered The Kitchen Table -- and where it was, even though they were closed the first time I tried to go. We had THE BEST LUNCH (he, omelette; me, sandwich) we've had in a long time. Great atmosphere, friendly service, fabulous food -- and I mean real, good food. I meant to buy the cookbook, and I've heard good things, so I'll have to order it.

    My mom and dad were both born and raised in Marshfield, so before we left I directed Rusty on a quick drive-by of tour of (my personal) highlights: Grandma & Grandpa's house on Cedar St.; Great Grandma & Grandpa Blum's house on Bakerville; I pointed out some of the important landmarks like the location of Jimmy's Cafe where my mom and dad first met; Weber's and Mitten's; the original Penney's (where my mom once worked, and cried in her Easter Bunny costume because she didn't want to be Easter Bunny! Poor, sad little Easter bunny...); Sacred Heart and the original location of the Marshfield Clinic... I tried to remember where Karau's was (I remember going with Grandma), and to conjure the distinctive (and pleasing) aroma of Grandma's house, and remembered picnics at Wildwood Park with Dad, etc.

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    5. 1964 World's Fair Wisconsin Pavilion. Continuing west, we went through Neillsville, and we actually turned around and went back for a better look at this -- it's so fantastical in a 1964 way! Those are NEON letters spelling out WISCONSIN on the spire!

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    6. Karen's. Our destination on Friday was my sister's house near Rice Lake (about an hour north of Eau Claire). We had a great visit there, watching baseball, knitting, eating, and Rusty helped with a couple of putzy house projects (he's a good craftsman and a great problem solver).

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    7. Reunion. The main purpose for this trip, and final destination, was Rusty's class reunion of unfathomable years in Grantsburg. He'd never been to one before (not even one of mine, because I only went to the first, which was the fifth, and we hadn't yet met). You are correct if you think he mostly went to school -- and graduated -- in California, but the first semester of senior year was spent at a small-town high school in NW Wisconsin -- and they always invite him to the reunion! He was living with his uncle's family at the time, and had a cousin in the same class -- another cousin ended up marrying a classmate. It was a memorable semester for him as the "new kid."

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    8. The Farm. We visited the farm last May... as you can see, there have been some changes since then. A spring tornado made a big difference in the landscape. The recent death of the farmer's wife makes it that much more mournful.

    It's all a bit melancholy as the farmer is fading, too.

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    9. Thorpedo. We'd have gone back through Marshfield on the way home to eat again at The Kitchen Table if our timing had been better; instead, we stopped at the Thorpedo Restaurant in Thorp. I remember eating here for the first time, years ago -- the summer before 7th grade -- when I traveled with my glass-blowing aunt and helped with her booth at county fairs in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Good food, friendly service.

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    10. Sports Fan! It was another great weekend to be a Wisconsin sports fan, as the Brewers inched their way closer and the Packers came from behind to win! (We actually listened to the baseball game on the radio in the car... rather unheard-of... football, yes; baseball, not really.)


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    *A more photo-heavy post than usual. Some were chosen at random, others with a definite tie-in -- they all have the sky in common. I have been paying even more attention than usual and have been gathering appropriate materials for some interpretation of a sky scarf. Fun, huh? To further the cause, I nabbed a likely hank of Cascade sock yarn in colors of the sky at Knitting Nest. I shall soon devise a plan.

    Meanwhile, the Caera Cowl is blocking!


    Yay, technology!

    I was able to post via email and my phone the other day from wherever we were on the road at the time. I didn't realize that my "smart" phone changed CAERA COWL to CAMERON COWL or CAMERA COWL (depending)! It seemed like a useless endeavor to try correcting it with my "smart" phone. Heh. And now it appears that Typepad is having a MAJOR problem with HTML and linkability. (More a compatibility problem with an updated IE.) So, yeah, DOUBLE YAY for TECHNOCRAP! Anyway, it's by Lucy Sweetland (a black pepper design) and I'm all but finished... hoping I have enough yarn to do the job! Lucky for me, Carole's Ten on Tuesday this week is about the weekend and I have AT LEAST 10 things to share... not the least of which is the stellar weather we've been having. Absolutely fantastic. Really, it almost makes up for the unbeara...-bility? -bleness? totally crappy weather we had in July.


    Cameron cowl (w/mod)

    Approaching the half-way mark! Changed up the main cable repeat a bit and, of course, am knitting flat. There will be buttons! Much is car knitting as we are on the road this weekend. May have an FO by the time we return!

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    Things don't always go as planned

    Ya know?

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    This hank of mohair wound into a center-pull ball about as big as my head and would have taken up precious space in the suitcase, so it stayed home... and I've yet to even cast on. Things were flying in and out of the suitcase and various other "carry-on" bags -- which is why I ended up with only ONE card for my camera (naturally, a 4GB... couldn't have been one of the 16s) -- and I'm not even quite sure where it is.

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    The West Knits Mystery Shawl KAL was a bust. These yarns are all different and they didn't play very well together... what I thought might be highlighted was actually lost. I tore it all out the other night and I feel better. I doubt I'll ever knit the shawl -- there are other West Knits designs that I like much, much better.

    Monster Bum for a photo shoot on the sidewalk. I bought elastic for the waist tonight... not crazy about the teeth. It doesn't bother anyone else, but it bothers me (still)... I think I'm going to add more. Easy fix. Stay tuned.



    I had such a great and productive weekend and, for that, I believe I can thank everything about the previous weekend!


    First though, I have to tell you about this shawl. The first real lace project I've finished in a long, long time, I was spurred and encouraged by Kirsten's Through The Loops Summer Shawl KAL on RavelryCerasifera turned out to be the perfect project for some Sundara sock yarn that had been marinating in the stash. It was a very enjoyable knit -- a bit challenging but not at all frustrating -- and fairly quick! I've had occasion to wrap it 'round my neck a few times so far this fall and, I do believe, this shawl is soon going to reach most-complimented-on-the-street status. I wear knits a lot and I am often complimented and/or asked about them -- by other knitters. This shawl is getting all the attention from people on the street (at the store, farmers' market)! It's pretty cool. Frosting on the cake: I won a prize in the KAL! My lovely hank of Good Girl "Crush" arrived from Stacy at Tempted Yarns yesterday, and it's quite lovely.


    This has nothing to do with the weekend, either, but I love it so! Not really much of a pink person, this color ("Virginia" after my grandmother) just sort of grabbed me. I sort of did my usual careful mixing and measuring when dyeing the original (seen here knit up in Different Lines), and then also did my usual "let's see what happens when I..." add a dash of this and a few more dashes of that!

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    I wanted to see if I could replicate it and found a little time just before leaving for Utah. While I've used a different base for the new batch, I think I've done it -- or slightly improved on it. What do you think? I think it would look FANTASTIC with my winter coat!

    So, back to the weekend...

    There was roasting (and freezing) of pie pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and spaghetti squash. The kids were all available, so I had them over for spaghetti and spaghetti squash (with roasted tomato sauce, of course) on Saturday night. I also had green tomatoes from the CSA, so I fried some up for the first time ever! They were pretty good, though I think the use of bacon grease rather than regular vegetable oil would probably make them better; they sure couldn't be any easier to make.

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    I also fired up the dye pot on Saturday afternoon -- catching up on my September:Yellow. I was feeling rather Mellow Yellow in the morning, but there is really nothing much mellow about this.

    Testing #1

    This was my first try and I like it the least. It's mostly knitted up into squares already for my PS Square Project and I might like it slightly better... but it may take another dip.

    Testing #2

    This is the second try and I like it a bit better, but I don't love it.

    Testing #3

    This was the third and last try. I sort of had a vision, but it was neither very clear nor thought-out when I began... I wasn't really going for Sunshine & Happiness, but here it is and... how can you not like Sunshine & Happiness??? This sort of even makes my liver smile.

    Golden tones

    I'd finished the knitting on the little Monster Bum pants that I've been working on (not yet photographed at any stage!), so I wove in all the ends on Saturday night while watching the Wisconsin Badgers march to victory. (What a fun game!)

    On Sunday, sort of on a whim, I decided to go out and harvest some black walnuts from the back yard. I'm pretty sure that you'd find mention of harvesting black walnuts in a September/October post every year that I've been blogging -- if you know me in person, I've probably also talked about it every one of the 24 years we've lived in this house -- and I may have even gathered a bucketful once or twice; in reality, I've never actually harvested or done anything at all with the black walnuts.

    I picked up enough walnuts to fill a 5-gallon bucket (the backs of my thighs still remind me) and then proceeded to hull about half of them. That is not fun work.  Sometimes surprises in the form of infestation of itty-bitty worms are found, and I recall that being grounds for abandonment of a previous effort... some years ago. I spread most of the hulls and all of the nuts to dry on a screen in the basement.

    I took some of the fresh hulls and brewed up a pot o' dye. Dyeing with walnuts is actually no small task. After the pot is brought to a simmer, it brews for an hour, simmers for an hour, and then it's strained. After the wool is added, it simmers for at least another hour and then cools down (time varies) (I had a big pot and lots o' brew, so it took a few hours). Thankfully, it's one of those background processes.

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    That's BFL Superwash on the left, 100% Merino on the right; both were added to and lifted from the pot at the same time.


    A cowl in either will also look fantastic with my winter coat!

    The Packer game was a late one, and I made use of my butt time by knitting the eyes and teeth for the Monster Bum and sewing them on. Still no photos. I showed the mama this morning, though, and there was swooning. I need to sew a bit of elastic at the waist to call it done.

    OK. That's it for now. Mohair, Mystery Shawl KAL, and Monster Bum photos up next...

    Study this

    Not only did I get to visit Silver Lake with Margene (one week ago today!), I was also able to photograph a fresh Different Lines there with Margene as my model! A little overwhelmed was I, what with being at Silver Lake with Margene, and the moose, and the kids, and SILVER LAKE with MARGENE! They're pretty standard FO shots... except, you know, they're at SILVER LAKE! Whew!



    • Project: Different (Different Lines Shawl) by Veera Välimäki, 100% Rain
    • Yarn: Malabrigo Sock (eggplant) from Iris Fine Yarns, Appleton, WI
    • Yarn: Knit Picks Bare Superwash Wool & Nylon, fingering, Make.Do.Dyed for Project Spectrum in a shade of pink that reminded me of Grandma, so called "Virginia"
    • Needle: Susan Bates Quicksilver 6US/4.25mm
    • Mod: Knit one row and cast off in contrasting color
    • Start to Finish: August 31, 2011 - September 26, 2011. Finished while at the Rocky Mountain Knitters' Retreat at Alta Lodge in Utah!

    Margene took one of me, too!

    I had a great and busy and quite productive weekend -- cooking, knitting, dyeing, harvesting, dyeing some more! Also gearing up for a brand new, twice-monthly Knit Night at the coffee shop beginning this Thursday... Wish you were here!