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November 2011
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January 2012

Knits at 11

Or, rather, KNITS OF '11.

1. Seaman's Square Cap I, 2. Hat's Not Another Noro Scarf, 3. Cable and button detail, 4. Ragtop v.1 & 2, 5. Puerperium, 6. PS June Project Sweater, 7. Cerasifera on the trellis, 8. Asymmetrical, 9. "Blue" yarn, 10. Stripe Study II, 11. Purple & pink, 12. Caera Cowl, 13. Monster Bum, 14. My PS Yellow Project, 15. Pixie, 16. Woven Cowl II, 17. Freestyle, 18. Nice and simple, 19. Lakedale front, 20. Christmas booties.

  • Five hats (not shown: another "Square," similar to the first, and a woman's cabled cap just finished)
  • Six wraps/shawls
  • Two pairs of mitts
  • Two infant cardigans
  • One bag
  • Five (!) cowls
  • One pair of adorable toddler pants
  • One pair of red booties

Started in 2011 but not finished: another child's sweater, a quick vest for me (well, I finished it but it doesn't fit me), a small toy, a scarf, another vest-y type thing, a cardigan (it's all over 'cept the seaming... and other various finishing).

And then there are all those squares.

And all that yarn I dyed. Eleven of the projects pictured above -- plus the unfinished cardigan -- make use of hand-dyed yarn.

This one was sent over to (blogless) Flan a few days ago as padding for Hooked, Flan's number having been the random one.

I thank Ravelry, Flickr, and the knitorious archives for helping pull this all together. I'm not a very good record-keeper, so I can't really say how this compares to previous years. I don't set goals, either. It is what it is... and it's pretty fab, if you ask me. I'm thrilled with my fiber-related accomplishments of 2011.

2012? Bring it. *clink*  Happy New Year, everyone!


Deemed even better the 2nd time

I made Roasted Potato Stacks again for our Christmas Eve dinner (photo recycled from Thanksgiving).


The first time I made them, I had help; the second time, I was on my own. There's a lot of slicing and layering of potatoes with brushing of garlic-infused olive oil and it's a perfect-for-teamwork recipe.

Not only was I working by myself at Christmas, I was also a little behind and needed to find a way to speed up the process. I needed to get the oil on the potatoes quickly. My first thought was to go the shake-and-bake route, but that works best when there's a dry component... not so much with only garlic and oil.

I ended up going old-school with a big bowl and a spoon (and no plastic waste) and just stirred it all up. I'm sure some potato slices were oiled up slicker than others, but in the end it worked out great. An empty platter and calls for more were testament to that. I sprinkled with sea salt, pepper and, this time, a little rosemary in place of thyme. Yum.

I need another 12-cup muffin pan!



Sufferin' the post-holiday, in-between, back-to-work, pre-holiday blues.

Though this is a pretty happy blue, so, already, mood improved. And never fear, for no doubt I shall soon be...

...back in black. Or something like that. What?

The gifts that keep on giving

Maddy gave me this orchid on my birthday, nearly eight weeks ago, and it's still giving me a face full of happy everyday! The sun was shining on it beautifully this morning, casting shadows on the bedroom wall.


Birthday muffins


With so much food to cook, eat, finish up, and polish off over the last few days, birthday cake was completely out of the question. It was Rusty's day-after-Christmas birthday, though, so something had to be done!

I wasn't sure there'd be enough fresh pumpkin for pies, so I'd taken some frozen puree out of the freezer when Rusty was in pie mode. As it turned out, the freshly roasted pumpkin provided the perfect quantity, so I was left with some to use up. After a quick search on Pinterest for pumpkin bread and muffins, I decided on Pumpkin Ginger Nut Muffins at Simply Recipes.

I had a bit more pumpkin than the recipe called for, so didn't add the extra water; I didn't have any candied ginger, either, so added more nuts (which weren't toasted); I also added 1/2 teaspoon of cloves to go along with the nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger listed in the recipe.

Very yum! And good witih morning coffee, too.

Happy Birthday!

54 Fluffy and kittens
It's Rusty's birthday today. He's probably about 5 here, I'd say, at home in Southern California with his mom, their cat Fluffy and Fluffy's kittens.

As is my tradition of at least the last two years, we had a simple but big and joyful pasta dinner with all who could make it. We had a couple of different kinds of pasta, homemade sauce, homemade pesto, fresh meatballs, garlic bread, and fresh pumpkin muffins (in lieu of cake) -- not to mention leftover Christmas cookies, candies and pies.

I have the next couple of days off! If you need me, I'll be laying low. Heh.



Hope your day was merry and bright!


Christmas booties

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Finished last night, photographed this afternoon before the sun fades too much.

A quick project, they're knit flat and seamed up the back; I always fiddle a bit at the heel.

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I was having a bedtime snack the other night and reading the local paper. These are from the "Jokes & Riddles" section:

Q. Why are Christmas trees like knitters?
A. They both drop needles

Q. How do sheep say Merry Christmas in Mexico?
A. Fleece Navidad

It's heading towards 3:00 and I'm still in my PJs! I've been putzing all day, getting things done -- getting a couple of boxes ready to ship, organizing and cleaning some space in my studio/office for the organizing and staging of Christmas -- so after that happens tonight, I'll have some space! Hopefully, the trend will continue...

My niece will be here within the hour, my sister in about 2-3; I'd better hit the shower and get working on my potatoes.

Happy Christmas!

'Tis the season


And what could possibly be more jolly than Patrick? "Inflatible pants!" Just those two words... I can barely remember why it was so funny, just that it was, and I laughed SO HARD that I was crying and my tummy hurt and I almost couldn't breathe. So, yeah, Patrick makes me smile every single time!


For a while, I was into cross-stitch Santas and other ornaments -- mostly on perforated paper. One of these -- I think the star-shaped one -- I stitched while on an unscheduled overnighter in Beaver Dam. It was snowing all day on a Friday, but I was packed and ready to leave right from work for a Sister Weekend at Annie's in Madison... and, darn it, that's what I was gonna do! I would have made it, too (I was so close), if I hadn't had to share the road with so many complete idiots. Making and Doing together was always the purpose of Sister Weekends, so I was prepared!


This is my sister Karen's work... and so like her! I'm sure it wasn't an original idea, but it's one she certainly ran with, elevating lowly juice can lids to something spectacular! Not only are they adorable ornaments, some of them did double-duty as gift tags that year!! Isn't she smart?


My Aunt LaFae gave us this wreath ornament -- and another, at some point, that she'd made of glass -- I think Maddy was pretty brand new then. Those five smiling dough faces make me happy.

Katie could not believe her eyes when I brought out the pomander oranges.


They're the ones she helped make when she was in grade school! There are some empty holes where some of the cloves have fallen out. I keep them in curing spice, in a zippered plastic bag. They're so petrified, they weigh next-to-nothing, but they last and last and last!


Christmases long long ago

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Well, the last few are all from the same Christmas -- I was in 2nd grade when I got that guitar! I remember watching "Santa" unload the goodies from the attic right outside my bedroom door, and seeing the guitar from my bed -- I was supposed to be sleeping, of course.

For the past many years, until last year, our family has drawn names to exchange gifts -- oftentimes handmade, always heartfelt. Things were different last year and we gave in a different way. And things will be different from now on.

We talked at Thanksgiving about some other things we could do, such as adopting a family but, though we all live in Wisconsin, we're all from different areas and thought perhaps some would prefer to give in their own communities or have something else altogether in mind.

Like me! I decided to give the gift of sheep and support the Knitter's Review 2011 Heifer International fundraiser with the money I'd have otherwise spent on a gift (or the yarn for the gift). It's perfect, with all of my girls knitting in earnest this year, and because my sisters have all knit, and my mom taught me, and there's that great old picture of my grandma holding a lamb on the farm. I think the KR registry will still be up for a bit.

What I really want to tell you about, though, is my mother's brilliant idea! I just love it. She decided to give every time she passes a Red Kettle this season -- sometimes it's only whatever change she can find in her purse, sometimes it's a dollar, sometimes a fiver, sometimes it's a few different bills. It's always with purpose and intention and she knows she's going to do it, so is prepared and it's not an annoyance like it sometimes can be when you're trying to get in or out of the store and your arms are loaded with milk, powdered sugar, chocolate, and bacon. Or some other stuff. Anyway, I think it's just brilliant. Go Mom!

* * * * *

Boy, it sure felt like Friday today... one more day and then a few extra days off next week for Christmas Vacation!!



Living in a one-room cabin for most of the last 5-10 years or so, Sharon didn't have a lot of furniture but, among them, a few amazing pieces.

Sharon had this chair for 20 years or more and it was my favorite; I sat (and knit) here many, many times. Even with the more (or less) recent damage due to cats and dogs and, well, just many years of use, the "amazing" still shines through. Taken in full sun, the photo is horrible, but I think you can see that it was green.

Karen took the chair home with her last December when we cleaned out Sharon's apartment. With the help and skill of her neighbor, Don, and the use of his wonderful workshop, they got down to business in September. Many hours and lots of muscle went into the polishing of chrome and pulling of fabric...

...not to mention covering a few buttons.

They finished in November:

And I don't know about you, but I think it's utterly and completely amazing! Kudos, Don & Karen!


Ten on Tuesday: Ready, Set, Go!

Ten on Tuesday10 Things I Have To Do Before Christmas

Web-IMG_0557Ali in lights

1. Take stock.

2. Make a list.

3. Buy potatoes. The stacked & roasted variety are my responsibility for Christmas Eve dinner.

4. Defrost some tomato sauce. Getting ahead of myself here, but the 26th is DH's birthday and I plan to have everyone over for a pasta buffet.


5. Do a little shopping. I have a specific list, targeted destinations... there will be no aimless wandering.

6. Wrap? There may be very little of that.

7. Come up with some clever presentation for Katie's gift of fiber processing and SPINNING lessons!

8. Check movie listings and game time. A few of our folks will be going to the Christmas Day game, but I don't think I'll be among them.

Web-IMG_0562One-eyed Santa ornament visits the ornament hospital -- and still has only one eye.

9. Work on a couple of last-minute projects.

10. Eat, Drink and Be Merry!


Sing it! (That's 12 "la"s each time!)

Cinnamon by Derek (and also Tommy Roe). Anyone around "my age" will love the list of suggestions: Iron Butterfly - In A Gadda Da Vida, Tommy James & The Shondells - I Think We're Alone Now, The Cowsills - Indian Lake, B.J. Thomas - Hooked On A Feeling, Bobby Goldsboro - Autumn of My Life. Man, that Bobby Goldsboro -- he sang ALL the sad songs!


On warm toast.

With butter.

A couple of hanks of fingering weight.

One hank of DK. I love this SO MUCH and will definitely do it again. Today, though, I'm making green.

And then maybe some yellow. Different yarns, different weights, different dyes... same old fun!



Ha! Not me. Nope. My yarn. Specifically, I had an email from someone who is knitting mittens with a braid and found my Latvian mittens...

...or what there is of them. Almost five years old, they are, and still in need of thumbs -- surprisingly, that is all!

The emailer was asking specifically about jogs -- a jog in the braid, a jog where the colors changed -- and mentioned that she had a hard time finding photos that were not showing a mitten at any angle other than from the flat -- back or palm.


When you're knitting in the round, you're going to have a jog. The jog becomes more apparent with anything that stripes -- color or pattern. There are many ways of minimizing the color/pattern jog by technique (type "jogless stripes" into Google) or by placement. For in-depth discussion of technique, I recommend:

My method of handling the braid here seems to be simply to do my best. The area of the "join" is placed on the inside of the wrist, below the thumb, on each mitten -- a spot less visible in the wild than any other. It looks like I may have employed some method of jogless knitting in the border area above the braid, but the remainder of the mitten is knit with a few stitches of solid color at each side of the hand which serves as a border and makes it less apparent that the color and pattern don't exactly match up.

I never finished these mittens because they're too small for me. They're also slightly two different sizes, as I ever-so-slightly loosened my death grip on the needles as I progressed. They'd fit Katie perfectly, and I think I shall finish them for her. She wore my North Star Mittens for quite a few years, even internationally, before they went missing late last year. She didn't tell me for the longest time, hoping they'd turn up. I am saddened by their loss, of course, but also happy that she loved, wore, and appreciated them for so long. I hope they still are -- worn, at least -- by someone!


I miss you...

For a person who so often, it seemed, took on and carried the weight of the world, she was surprisingly light on her feet.

Sharon Jean


I miss the fun and the laughter and the wry sense of humor. I can't believe it's been a year. And I miss her so much, I'm not sure my heart will ever be healed.

I think of her everyday and am inspired.


Knitting Meme (it's all about me me me!) (and my knitting)

Bold the ones you have done/used.

Bind off, any extra stretchy one
Bind off, I-cord
Bind off, sewn
Bind off, tubular

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Cast on, any extra stretchy one
Cast on, backwards loop
Cast on, long tail
Cast on, provisional
Cast on, tubular
Colorwork, intarsia
Colorwork, slipped stitch
Colorwork, stranded
Double knitting, reversible
Double knitting, tube
Drop stitch

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Fair Isle
Felted (accidentally)
Felted (on purpose! yay!)

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Garter stitch
Graffiti knitting, aka knit tagging
Kitchenered a sock
Kitchenered something larger than a sock
Knitted a sock using two circular needles

Knitted and purled backwards
Knitted Continental style, aka picking
Knitted English style, aka throwing

Knitted two socks on two circs simultaneously

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Knitted with beads (and wire)
Magic loop

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Short rows

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Thrummed knitting

Twisted stitch

Knitted with any of these fibers:
Synthetic (acrylic, nylon, etc.)

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Afghan (more like a lap blanket... it's my meme and I'll meme what I want to!)

StB copy

Alice Starmore pattern, any (St. Brigid, above)

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Baby items

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Holiday-related knitting
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies, etc.)
Knitted a gift
Knitted for a pet, garment
Knitted for a pet, toy
Knitted item for a bride
Mitts, fingerless
Mittens, cuff-up
Mittens, tip-down
Moebius band (on purpose!)
Purse or bag

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Socks, toe-up
Socks, top-down

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Stuffed toys

Sweater, cardigan
Sweater, pullover
Sweater, top-down
Toy/doll clothing

Lace garment
Published a knitting book
Stitch pattern
Sweater, cardigan
Sweater, pullover
Sweater, top-down

Dyed yarn or fiber
Knitted for charity
Knitted in public
Learned a new technique on YouTube

Participated in a KAL
Spun your own yarn
Taught a child to knit
Taught a male to knit
Wrote a knitting blog

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It was fun to trip through the archives for some of these images. Wow. I've been blogging and knitting and blogging about knitting for a long, long time.

From a meme found on kmkat and her needles, adapted from a meme on CanaryKnits.

Year in review: 2011

It's that time again. As I've done the last few years sometime in December, it's time for a review -- in words (the first sentence of the first post of each month) and in pictures (one favorite posted photo from each month), one not necessarily related to the other.


Though the weather wrecked travel plans for some, we had a nice gathering last night for New Year's Eve and for remembering Sharon.



Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things On Your Nightstand/Bedside Table / 1. Firstly, it's a bookshelf and so there are lots of books -- books are on it, books are in it and, until recently, books were leaning up against it.



Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things to Like About the Month of March / 1. My brother's birthday is on...



Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. A kid'll eat ivy, too. Wouldn't you?



Red numbers, too.



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Just beginning

Not me (not yet).



Stripe Study Shawl by Veera Välimäki



Utah copy
...blew through here this morning, making the rain "fall" sideways, and it was sorta scary!



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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!



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I finally knit up the yellow test skeins for my PS Square Project and managed to get them photographed while there was still some light on Saturday afternoon.



Nice and simple

I have some yarn in shades of blue for Margene in case she wants to start Knitting the Weather, or something, next month... or sometime.


I've expanded my horizons in more ways than one. It's been quite a year... and it ain't over yet.

One Word Wednesday


Okay, so more than one word. I just can't do it. Maybe it would work if I took the photo with one word in mind, but that didn't happen here; this was completely spontaneous. All these mini test skeins from Project Spectrum were in the way today when I dove into the closet for boxes of Christmas ornaments. They looked so pretty all bunched up, I had to take them out for photographs.

It was cloudy and drizzly today, too, which always seems to make the color pop even more.

A photography group meeting last night, holiday party with the book club group tonight, knitting out at the coffee shop tomorrow night... it's the most wonderful busy time of the year!


Trees for sale

Ali and her friend and co-worker Abbey volunteered to sell Christmas trees for the Kiwanis on Saturday morning. I went over to say hi and help Ali choose a tree. And take a photo or two.

Ali is wearing "Orev," one of several free patterns by my friend Dixie at Yellow Dog Knitting. She is now knitting at Orev or two for my nephews (who I am certain are not reading here, but shall nonetheless remain unnamed). There's more than one quick-to-knit pattern there... just doing my duty as we close in on little more than a week 'til Christmas.


Happy for a day off tomorrow.


Lakedale Shawl

Lakedale front

Lakedale side

I wasn't so sure about this one. It sat in a heap on my work table for a few days after finishing while I contemplated whether to frog it all. It seemed kind of small and SUPER ruffly. Yeah. I'm a girl, but never one much for the ruffles.

Lakedale ruffles

WARNING: You will not get far without the corrections to the pattern; in fact, you'll get no further than four rows. You may do those same four rows and find yourself confounded on the fifth many times, as did I, before it dawns on you to check errata. Ouch! The published pattern is missing the last four rows of an eight-row repeat; corrections are available on the Ravelry pattern page.

Lakedale points

Because it seemed sort of small, and also because I had the yarn, I added a few more pink stripes (without further increases). I also made a more substantial and solid "border" by doing another stripe repeat, but without changing the color.

And, because my heart wasn't really all in, I was a lazy blocker. I smoothed it out (and watched it grow!), put a few pins at the neck edge, and then pulled out and pinned every other point. In the end, I like it... I like it a lot! The zig-zag ruffled edge adds some substance and the shape wraps nicely around the neck.

* * * * *

As it turns out, the lights on the top of the tree were burned out! Luckily, Rusty remembered seeing an odd string hanging in the basement, so I finished the lighting of the tree last night. Overall, the light situation was much worse than I remembered -- oh, memory, you are a trickster! I consider the piper paid for my laziness over the past few years -- throwing good lights in without dealing with the bad. And we're good. The holidays may proceed.  ; )

Remember when...

...I said, basically, that I didn't care about the lights on my tree? That I didn't have time? That I didn't want to make the time? Yeah...

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There was slightly more than one string of lights (or so) out. That's 400-600 lights on the floor - I lost count. It's a lot of lights. There may be only slightly more lights left on the tree than were taken off, but I think all of the dead strings have been removed now. The illuminated ones on the floor had previously been thrown in to hastily cover up some dead ones, and I had to take them off in order to get to the dead ones. I only bought 100 new lights... I think you can spot them... that's probably not going to fly. I haven't even put the top of the tree on yet... pray that they're all working!

So, how's your Sunday going?

Dolores Loves Garnets & Rubies

Nice and simple

  • Project: Dolores (Dolores Park Cowl by Parikha Mehta)
  • Yarn: 100% Merino Bulky, Make.Do Hand-Dyed Yarn, "Garnets & Rubies," >145 yards
  • Needle: US 11 (see notes)
  • Start to Finish: December 5-7, 2011 (see more notes)

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Notes: The pattern called for US 13 needles, of which I have none except straights. The largest DPNs I have are US 11, so I used those. The pattern called for casting on 60, I cast on a dozen more, making appropriate changes in the number of stitches knit for the increase rows, and then knitting a few rows more before casting off.

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More notes: This could be EASILY knit in a day! I cast on and knit a few rows on Monday, finished and cast off on Tuesday, washed and "blocked" (laid flat to dry) on Wednesday. It would certainly have dried quicker on a screen or something.

Dolores Park Cowl

It's a great last-minute gift, if it comes to that. It softened up some with the washing, but you probably wouldn't even have to go that far if super-pinched for time. Heh.


And that's a (birthday) wrap

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The girls gave me gift certificates to Al Corso for my birthday so that we could all go out for dinner together. I really like how that worked out so well for them, too! It's the second time I've been there; it won't be the last. Al Corso is in the middle of nowhere, but people seem to come from everywhere -- man, they were busy!

We started the evening sharing appetizers -- Beet-Salmon over Buckwheat Waffle with Creme Fraiche, and Goat Cheese-Spinach-Artichoke Dip. Please, sir, may I have some more??? Everyone had something different for dinner -- Grilled Sirloin & Shrimp with au gratin potatoes, Tenderloin Stroganoff, Mustard-crusted Salmon over pasta, Shrimp Provencal over pasta, Pork Tenderloin Roulade with mashed potatoes, and Pecan-crusted Halibut with haystack onion rings and baby reds. Some of us took leftovers (along with our donut for the morning) and saved room for dessert: chocolate peppermint creme brulee, malted milk ball creme brulee, and chocolate cake.

Guess what I had!!


--I'm sure my Uncle Bob has stopped reading ages ago because nearly all I've been posting about is yarn stuff. He's not so keen on the yarn stuff. There hasn't been much more than yarn stuff going on around here!

--My mom'sbeen reading, though. I started to tell her something yesterday when we were out with Kate & Al and she told me that she already knew... she read it on my blog.

--The four of us met at the coffee shop and did a little Christmas decor & shop display shopping, and also some clothes shopping. Katie is invited to a wedding reception in mid-January that requires formal attire! Oooh, we found some awfully cute dresses, vintage and otherwise, but I think she's going to wear my Edwardian dress. She tried it on today and it'll work. I only wore the dress once, about 15 years ago, and I'm delighted that it'll see some more action. I'm photographing the reception, so you'll eventually see it, too! It's pretty amazing. Katie hasn't checked my blog in a while; she became a regular reader when she lived far away. I think Ali only looks at the pictures... when I have something specific to show her.

--Uncle Jimmy stopped by work today and put a bunch of old pictures in my car. He brought some of Grandma's watercolors, a couple of Uncle Cliff's photographs, the on-location painting Rusty did at my grandparents' house several years ago called "Lester's Closet." I don't think he knows what a blog is... he glazes over at the mention of the internet and by the time blogs and "Facebook" are mentioned, he's long gone.

--I came home this evening to find some wrapped presents on the floor in the area of one of my wicker yarn bins, near the colonnade in the living room area... and Maddy had taped a note to one of the columns that says, "Christmas Tree Here, Please!" Ooookaaaaay, that settles that. I'd been wondering whether to put it there or in front of the window (it can be seen through the window from outside in either location). That means that the table with all the fabric I've cut for a quilt will not need to be moved and maybe I'll get to it before the end of the year! Maddy knows I have a blog, but I don't know if she's ever read it -- even when she was far from home!

--It's already been determined that we'll use the artificial tree, and I'm pretty sure there's at least one string of lights out. I bought a string of them yesterday to throw them fill in while I fluff up. I am not going to get too bent out of shape about it... I'm sure if I put the tree "just so," it'll be fine. I just don't have the time... don't want to make the time or take the time... would so rather do anything other than re-string lights on the tree. Bah!

--My red cowl is NEARLY dry... bulky yarn takes a while.

--I pinned out a shawl that's been finished for over a week. It's a shawl by Stephen West and I just wasn't sure... Now that it's pinned out (I kept thinking, as I was pinning, that I'm a pretty lazy pinner), I like it better and think it'll be okay.

--Random yarn photos of dyeing and overdyeing.


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I see Garnets & Rubies, how about you? That's about 145 yards of bulky merino dyed up over the weekend.

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On Monday, I cast on and knit a few rows of Parikha Mehta's Dolores Park Cowl. I cast off last night, Tuesday; and it's washed and drying as we speak. So quick. I'm going to love wearing it! FO details to come... when it's dry. I can't wait 'til it's dry!

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I also made A Gray Day to go with A Dark & Stormy Night. L.O.V.E. I.T. LOVE.

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I am just per-crushing on the grays lately... which is great, given that it's winter. Gray. While the sky can be very drab and boring, it can also be AMAZING. Gray.

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I gave myself an injection of Holiday Spirit last night. After helping Katie find some yarn(s) and pattern(s) for some Secret Santa knitting (and some for herself), we watched Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer... then the local Christmas parade was over and she could go home again! Then I watched most of Michael Buble's Christmas special, which I'd also recorded so I could FF through the parts that were just a little too.

Had a great discussion a while later with Ali about circular needles vs. double-points and she actually used the word "stickiness" when talking about needles... and that she wasn't so crazy about that, but could definitely see why, at times, one would want their knitting needles to be sticky, and maybe she'll just get used to it.



Ten on Tuesday: Traditions

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Holiday Traditions

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1. The stockings are hung on the staircase with care, in the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there... He comes every December 5th, leaving a stockingful of treats and always a new ornament for each of the girls. When they were little, they'd also receive a book or CD; now, it's more likely a gift card. There were some years when not a single thing more could be stuffed inside. I don't know what he was thinkin'.

2. St. Nick must shop at the same candy store I do! There's always popcorn balls, Necco Wafers, chocolate coins, peppermint sticks, and other old-fashioned candy in our stockings!

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3. After 20+ years, the girls have a nice collection of ornaments to call their own -- not only those brought by St. Nick or made by me (like that jointed Santa), but also quite a few handmade by their Aunt Karen (many of which doubled as gift tags), and including many of those that they made in school. I'm still holding on to some of those school ornaments for myself, not able to relinquish them just yet.

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4. I hang some ornaments special to me, too; from my grandmothers, from my school years, and just because they make me smile.

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5. It was decided over dinner on Sunday that this year we'll put up the artificial tree. We love the real-ness of a real tree, but the sturdiness of the fake. The girls want to load it up this year, apparently. My minimalist decor of a few years ago (above) was heartily poo-poo'd. (I liked it!)

6. We get Snowed In. The girls can't help it. Neither can I. So darn catchy, fun & happy.

7. We spend Christmas Eve at my mother's. We've had a lot of different things for dinner over the years: Cornish Hens, Ham, Beef Wellington, Crown Roast, Standing Rib Roast, Turkey, Yorkshire Pudding, Waldorf Salad. The one constant lately -- ever since the girls were able to express their desires -- is Corn Pudding.

8. And Rusty's pies. For 25 years, Rusty has made ALL the pies for ALL the holidays (save one Christmas). Usually apple or pumpkin, but sometimes cherry; he loves pie, and it's his thing.

9. We usually go to a movie on Christmas Day; in fact, Santa usually stuffs a movie pass into everyone's stocking! We don't always all go to the SAME movie, but we all go at the same time.

10. New Years Eve is almost always celebrated with a gathering of family and friends around a fire in the ravine, complete with champagne and fireworks!


Kid in a candy store

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Everyone's a kid in a candy store, aren't they? St. Nicholas is coming tonight. Yes, my children are all in their 20s now, but they like their traditions...

More on that for Ten on Tuesday, coming up tomorrow!


  • I made a beef roast today
  • Practically nothin' to it
  • Beef, beer, onions, garlic, a little water
  • SO GOOD! The house smells yummm
  • I also baked some potatoes
  • In the oven
  • I can't remember the last time I had a real baked potato
  • Especially one that I made myself
  • 'Twas a good and busy weekend
  • Had a fun party on Friday
  • Didn't suffer too much/long on Saturday
  • Accomplished some things
  • Did some knitting while watching football
  • Little squares. All done.
  • Hm.
  • The Badgers are playing The Ducks in the Rose Bowl
  • The Packers are 13-0
  • And winners of the NFC North
  • It's been a great year to be a sports fan in Wisconsin
  • It's also late, and I'm tired...
  • G'night


Bedtime reading

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I'll probably finish this tonight -- A Life in Stitches by Rachael Herron. I've enjoyed it so much I don't want it to end! It's pretty cool, too, because I've actually met Rachael -- and Lala and Janine and Celia -- all mentioned in the book. I met them all at once, even, last year while I was visiting at Celia's house! Anyway, it's a very enjoyable read and would make a nice knitterly gift, if you or someone you know are looking for such a thing.

I made more colorful yarn today. Well, actually, two hanks that aren't very colorful, but that make me very happy. They are definitely more "Gray Day" than "Dark & Stormy Night," and that's what I was after. I also made an incredibly deep red... mostly garnet with some ruby tones.

Speaking of Red, WAY TO GO BADGERS! The Wisconsin Badgers are headed to the Rose Bowl!! Hoping for a win for the Packers tomorrow, too.



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This is 250 yards of bulky-weight Merino I wound off for Kate to dye on Sunday afternoon. I have actually not yet worn my 5th Ave Cowl (Margaux's great pattern!) because Katie stole it and has been holding it hostage 'til she could dye yarn and make her own. Cobalt blue was the goal and, damn, I think she nailed it! She nailed it so hard that, depending on lighting conditions, it sometimes makes your eyes hurt. It's like continuous sun shining through cobalt glassware. She's been knitting in the evening, knitting during her lunch hour, knitting last night with the 1st & 3rd Thursday group at KC&T. We'll probably pull the shades down a bit and over-dye the finished cowl.

Speaking of knitting out, we sure had a great group last night! I thought it might be on the light side in terms of attendance, so just set up at a couple of tables near the front door instead of the usual, more spacious area upstairs. Katie came and knit for a bit, then my friend Ann from Appleton met her friend Patti from Green Bay (KC&T is right in the middle!), another Kate, then Pat and Bonnie from points southeast. Ali was working, but also knitting when she had time!

Ali's been working on Mason-Dixon dishcloths. She borrowed my book, I gave her my bagful of cotton, and she's made several Ballband cloths. I get a secret little thrill every time I can answer a question, teach, or show a technique to one of my girls -- all three have been earnestly knitting! I have to admit that it's even more thrilling when I find out that they've been fending for and figuring things out themselves. Unbeknownst to me, and on her own initiative, Ali has also tackled the more complicated Mason-Dixon Washcloth. She told me that she even bought her own "double-points," which I realized later were actually circs (but, hey, no matter how you look at it, there are only two points on a circular needle) -- and which she also later realized when the pattern actually called for double-points. She came to ask me about decreases -- and to show me. "This is how I have been doing it, but it looks different; how would you do it?" And then I get to demonstrate the various ways and whys of doing the very same thing.

You wanna know one of my proudest Knit Mum moments (besides the time Katie knit Thrummed Mittens)? It was just after I'd helped Katie join her knitting in the round, being careful not to twist. We were all knitting together in the living room while catching up with Inspector Lewis (and Sergeant Hathaway). Ali came over to show me her Washcloth and said, "I'm not going to be able to fix that, am I?" And, of course, I had to say, "Nope." There was that bit ol' knot that comes from twisting the join. It barely fazed her. She tore it all out, cast on again (with a different color, for variety) -- being careful not to twist -- and exclaimed, "I'm learning SO MUCH from just this one little project!"

So, anyway, Knit Night(s)! I was happy to hear Patti's comment about how easy and convenient it was to get to KC&T. She admitted that it was the first time she's ever actually been in our oft-overlooked little bedroom burg... I hope she comes again. Bring friends!

I know "the other" Kate, Pat and Bonnie through my husband and Main Street Art Works, where Pat and Bonnie still work. I've been there before! Pat is a fiber artist and has done everything imaginable with wool except for knitting -- until now! She's raised sheep, processed their fleeces, dyed and spun the wool, felts and weaves, and makes the most amazing things -- vessels, clothing, accessories, hangings, assemblage! I saw some of her clothing recently at Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill's holiday open house -- just gorgeous!

Pat almost brought her wheel -- I know she will another time, which would be great! My blinders are slipping a little in terms of spinning. Katie wants to learn... and it would be fun to learn something together... and it would be a good thing to know. Wouldn't it? Just to know the basics and fundamentals? I don't want to fall down the rabbit hole, but I've seen it happen A LOT. I'm afraid I'll be as successful a casual spinner as I was a casual smoker... which means that I should sign up for Spinners Anonymous right now! Ha.

There's a casual work party tonight. I don't want to stay out too late, though, because there's much I'd like to do on the weekend!

A Gray Day becomes A Dark & Stormy Night

I have some yarn in shades of blue for Margene in case she wants to start Knitting the Weather, or something, next month... or sometime. I wanted to add some shades of gray before sending it, though, since both Utah and Wisconsin have their share of gray winter days.

This fit in nicely with the Project Spectrum/November:Neutral dyeing.

I made gray; but, because I still underestimate the potency of black in the dye pot, as established yesterday, what I intended as representation of A Gray Day turned into A Dark & Stormy Night.

This is the yarn I declared my love for yesterday. The yarn that I would marry.

Did you do that? It always makes me laugh and think of my sisters, especially Sharon -- she seemed to do it most.

Me: I love *that* -- which could be anything, or maybe not even a thing... the more ridiculous whatever it is, the better.

Sharon: Do you want to marry it?

Yes, I damn freakin' do!


What is it about this yarn?? I guess with the absence of color, it's all about shade and value, texture and sheen, complexity and layering. My boring, neutral, black/gray yarn... It just takes my breath away!

I'll be soon heading back to make A Gray Day.