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April 2013
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Alison's wedding is TWO WEEKS from TOMORROW, and I am now officially ready for it to happen.

Not that I'm "ready" in all senses of the word... or even any sense of the word... there is much to do, and a lot of it will be in the day or two prior.

I'm ready for the anticipation to be over... Let's get the party started!

Knitting: In lieu of the gauntlet/fingerless gloves that were my big idea a long time ago but which never quite got off the ground, I am knitting little sachets for each of the attendants. Ali made a lovely little something for each of them and this will coordinate nicely.

I've had some size 0 US needles (both straights & DPNs) in the arsenal forever, but I don't think I've ever actually used them before. This is a lovely lace-weight yarn, knitting up beautifully on those tiny needles; I'm also knitting some on 1 US, just for grins. They're actually going pretty fast -- the first one was pokey, but I've already knocked off two more and have a good start on the fourth. That's more than half-way!

I'm starting to get scatter-brained, though, because I've already misplaced sachet #1. It must be time to update and refine my To-Do List! I need to get a grip on everything.

The girls at Tuesday knit night talked me off the ledge and I will not be re-doing the bind-off on my shawl for the wedding, so that's a relief. All that's left is a little dip in the dye pot for both shawls and then blocking.

Send all your calming vibes my way... and have a great weekend!


Ten on Tuesday: Weekend doings

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Did Over The Weekend

Pretty much in order, and with a couple of extra for good measure... it was that kind of weekend.


1.  Skyped with (sis) Annie in Brazil.

2.  Went dress shopping with my mom (2 shops, 2 cities, 2 dresses).

3.  Dyed some yarn.


4.  Went plant shopping with my mom and Karen (sis).

5.  Planted Mom's window box and driveway planter.

6.  Did some garden clean up at Mom's with Karen, Mike (bro), and Judy (SIL).

7.  Had a cook-out.

8.  Went to a movie: (slept thru a fair bit of) Star Trek.


9.  Went to the mall and then did some more (just a little bit more) plant shopping with Mom and Karen.

10.  Had lunch with Karen at the coffee shop.

11.  Dyed some yarn.

12.  Planted my own front porch planter.

13.  Bound off Frambuesa v.2. I wanted it to be a little stretchy, but may have done it a bit too loose... and I think I'm going to re-do the bind-off.

14.  Learned to play The Settlers of Catan.


Maddy said that they played this constantly when she was camping last week and she couldn't wait to teach us! It was fun, and...


...Sheep! What's not to love about a board game with sheep cards?!

It was a bit of belated Mother's Day mashed up with Memorial Weekend, getting some planting and garden clean-up done for Mom. It sure was a busy weekend!


An all-wedding Wednesday

Ali and I took a drive to Sheboygan for the last big alteration consult about her/my mom's wedding dress. The crinoline added since last time made such a difference and added the perfect poof and shaping to the skirt. Some piecing was done at the shoulders, allowing Ali to move her arms (!), and it turned out wonderfully, as well.

We needed to make some final decisons/compromises about satin and bows, and lots of pins were employed before we left, but I left feeling great, more excited than ever, and cannot wait for the final fitting.

It's getting close, now, and seemed a good time to turn attention to the Father Of The Bride! I can count on one hand... um, maybe two fingers... the times in 28 years we've shopped together for him. It actually turned out pretty well... probably helped that we had dinner first. And a moderator. Katie, with her great eye for style, consented to join us!

New pants, new shirt, new tie, new shoes. Not a new jacket; but not the one I thought it was, either. I'm not sure where it came from! Anyway, he'll be pretty dapper. (Not to self: must remind him to get hair cut... and not on the day before the wedding).


May days progress

I've eaten at a few picnic tables in the past few years, but haven't planned an actual picnic in I don't know how long, so I'm skipping the official topic of today's Ten on Tuesday. I will share the first two things that popped into my head, though:

  1. Wine
  2. Corkscrew

Glasses never occurred to me until I read Kym's post, so my picnic will be the one where we pass the bottle. Heh.

How about a first-ever ToT follow-up, instead. The last Ten on Tuesday post in April was: 10 Things I'm Looking Forward To In May. Let's see how that's going.

1.  Hair cut (more likely, trim) tomorrow! I will also be auditioning -- or at least discussing -- the hairstyle that I have in mind for the wedding.

A very important #1 that I was excited about and looking forward to, and I FORGOT! Happily, my girl Kate was able to squeeze me in after work a few days later. Sheesh. My hairstyle for the wedding was met with approval, and I've saved a couple similar/detailed photos to Evernote since then.


2.  Dinner with Alison's future in-laws tomorrow night!

Dinner with the in-laws was FANTASTIC! We picked them up at their house (aka, wedding venue!) and I've been out there a couple more times... and will likely be a much more frequent visitor over the next few weeks! From the photo was taken, above, I'd be looking through the tent (reception); weather permitting, the ceremony will be held in a round-ish clearing just barely visible beyond and to the left of that darkest evergreen tree.

3.  On Saturday, Ali and I will be heading to Oshkosh and the Natural Product & Organic Food Expo -- Joel Salatin and Will Allen among the highlights.

I really enjoyed the food expo -- and ran into the in-laws there, too! There were a lot of vendors and I even found authentic and local pao de queijoThe speaker schedule wasn't very tight, which was sort of exasperating, but because of that we caught a portion of a panel discussion with all of the day's speakers, led by Kyle Cherek of Wisconsin Foodie. It was very interesting and I could have listened all day but, of course, we didn't have all day! We heard Will's presentation about Growing Power, and one of Joel's two talks that day.

It was announced a couple of days ago that none other than Michael Pollan will be featured at the Country Living & Natural Health Expo in January!

4.  Visitors from Oregon, their daughter (a sometime guest at our house) graduating from Lawrence University this year and they'll be here over the Mother's Day weekend for her recital.

Visitors have come and gone. Our time together was brief -- they brought over a delightful meal of Greek take-away to share -- but they had a nice time exploring the area with their daughter.

5.  Mother's Day!

Been there! (at the Green Bay Botanical Garden)

Done that!

6.  Maddy's last day of school on the 17th!

She's home! Sort of. She left yesterday for a week of camping with friends. Next week she'll be gone for a week of orientation for her camp counselor job. And then she'll be working all summer... at camp!

The girls are talking about finally taking a summer road trip together... also involving camping... as it may never be easier than NOW. And, sadly, we are all used to high gas prices -- which have been "coming down" a bit, but are still hella lot more than they used to be. But you know that. They're talking about going to Mount Rushmore, too, and recreating the awesome photo I took of my sisters there in 1979.

7.  The Master Gardeners' Annual Plant Sale on the 18th.

Ugh! I missed it... and the heirloom plant sale on the 11th, too. I have no plants!!

8.  Hopefully, an overnighter to Milwaukee for an art opening, premiere of an animated music video (by my cousin's husband) featuring music from the Tritonics new single "Smoky Places" and after-party. Just because... it sounds like fun!

I found a great deal at The Pfister, a wonderful old hotel in downtown Milwaukee! We were able to walk almost everywhere -- to dinner at Rodizio Grill, a Brazilian Steakhouse, and to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The highlight was the Smoky Places art opening/video premier at Dominion Gallery, and the after party at The Uptowner. Exhibiting artists included my cousin Rae and her husband Michael. Michael premiered the animated music video, below, with music from the Tritonics.

And Rae's shoes are so great!


We had so much fun. And even dancing! Home by midnight, we walked to the Milwaukee Art Museum after breakfast on Saturday.


That is one amazing place. The architecture -- including those moveable wings -- of the Quadracci Pavilion is simply breathtaking.


9.  Memorial Day!

This weekend! My sister will be coming on Saturday and we'll be doing a work day on Sunday, planting Mom's window boxes, etc., sort of a belated/continuation of her Mother's Day gift.

10.  My knitting goal for May will be to finish the two shawls that I'm working on for the wedding... and NOT start another baby sweater. Heh. I'm more than half-way on Mexican Wisconsin Wedding and made a good start on Frambuesa last night. Second try! There's errata, for one thing, and some wonkiness regarding stitch marker placement and repeats... I just move them around as needed and "read" my knitting -- as long as it reads correctly, I'm good. The markers are eventually removed. I already know that I'm going to LOVE this shawl!

I've finished the Wisconsin Wedding shawl! It awaits overdyeing and blocking... as soon as Frambuesa v.2 is finished. The casting on issue has been resolved, and knitting is happening -- the border is almost complete. It'll get done.

BONUS:  11.  I've ramped up the dyeing a tiny bit in the last month or so, the impetus being some fun custom orders and projects! Oh, I miss it!! As things continue to improve and progress in other areas of life, I intend to be doing much more of that beginning in May.

Custom orders/projects continue... Have you seen Cara's Celestarium? It was so much fun working with her to make the color just what she wanted for this project, and then to watch the knitting progress! The shawl is amazing -- her knitting is always so beautiful -- you must read her notes and, seriously, she says that it's not difficult at all! It's just killing me that I can't wrap it around my shoulders and feel it!


The Rest of the Story: Stretchy/Loose Cast-on

There is some great discussion in the previous post's comments about loose cast-ons, and I learned a thing or two. There's nothing like hearing others' experiences to help inform a decision.

I'd all but decided on the Knitted Cast-on as demonstrated by Nancy Bush because, well, Nancy Bush. And Estonian lace knitting. It seemed logical. I've used that method before and rather like it, but also felt that I'd still need to carefully watch my tension to keep it loose.

Then Cheryl left a very thoughtful comment in which she mentioned June Hemmons Hiatt and The Principles of Knitting, and her general thoughts about the other options.

I happen to have that book, though Cheryl linked to a PDF of the Double Needle Cast-on that she suggested, as well as to a video demonstrating the method (aka Rolled Double Needle Cast-on). I'm not sure what I'd have ended up with had I not had the video, which effectively demonstrated the "rolled" part of the equation; I did not get that from the written instruction. I needed both in order to get it.

The method calls for using two needles -- it's unwritten, but I guess assumed that the working needle would be the same as for the project, and the second a size smaller. Not wanting to be stung again, I decided to cast on a test swatch using a needle a few sizes larger than the working needle, then knitting on to the proper size needle as I worked the first row. I cast on 20 or so stitches and proceeded to work several rows of the pattern. The bottom edge was definitely looser and able to be stretched.

I'd mentioned to Cheryl that I'd upped the needle size and she replied that she never had... so before committing to 300 +/- stitches, I thought I'd also try with the proper size. Lo and behold, it was still very loose and looked much nicer; in contrast, the previous attempt looked a bit too loose and even sloppy.

Now, I had saved those little swatches to show, but due to an unfortunate tangle in my knitting bag... um, there's not much left to show. I will do them again, though, and will also show the new cast-on edge compared to the original before it's frogged to reclaim the yarn.

There's a marked difference already in v.2 and how wavy the edge; that wasn't nearly as evident as I knit v.1.

Once I got the rhythm, the casting on went quite smoothly, and I even did it in the car on the way to Milwaukee! (More about that in a day or two.) The only thing I'd do differently is to work from both ends of the ball -- or wind off the generous amount I thought I'd need, and then a fair bit more! It took a little more than an hour, and I ran out of yarn with 281 of 321 stitches, but I can live with that! The small shawl is 221 stitches and the large is 321 stitches; my shawl will be a medium-sized hybrid!


Halp! (Multiple choice)

You are *loosely* casting on 321 stitches for a bottom-up, crescent-shaped shawl; which cast-on method do you use?

a.  e-wrap

b.  Jeny's Stretchy Slipknot Cast-on

c.  Helene Rush's Stretchy Cast On

d.  Knitted Cast-On, demonstrated above by Nancy Bush

e.  Another method not listed above.

I must get knitting but have been paralyzed over this question! I've already knit the smaller version of this shawl (221 stitches) and unsuccessfully used a not-loose-enough long-tail cast on on a needle 3 sizes larger than the working needle.

Does anyone have some experience, wisdom, or tips to share?


Ten on Tuesday: Oh, Mother!

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite TV Moms

In no particular order, and with a couple of extra for good measure. Can you have too many TV mothers? They're all favorites for different reasons!

1.  Olivia Walton:  The Waltons. Well, for one thing, I always loved Miss Michael Learned's name, and I also loved her voice. She was the epitome of "calm," perfectly conveyed through the tone and timbre of her voice. I wanted to be a Walton.

2.  Ann Romano:  One Day at a Time. I could relate!! My mother was also a divorced, single mom (of five!), and Barbara & Julie were about my age.

3.  Edith Bunker:  All In The Family. Those Were The Days!

4.  Julia Baker:  Julia. Oh, she was so pretty and no one's ever more elegantly worn a nurse's uniform!

5.  Florida Evans:  Good Times. She was dyn-o-mite!

6.  Roseanne Conner:  Roseanne. Talk about keepin' it real.

7.  Clair Huxtable:  The Cosby Show. Smart.

8.  Kitty Forman:  That '70s Show. Giggles erupt the minute Kitty appears.

9.  Sophia Petrillo:  The Golden Girls. Sophia makes me laugh out loud!

10.  Marion Cunningham:  Happy Days. Who didn't love Mrs. Cunningham??

11.  Caroline Ingalls:  Little House On The Prairie. I always wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, so it makes sense that Ma would be my ma!

12.  Maude Findlay:  Maude. Not exactly the maternal type, I loved Maude -- and her daughter, also a mom, Carol!

13.  Victoria Barkley:  The Big Valley. Pretty sure I just had a big crush on Barbara Stanwyck.

Who'd I miss? Mrs. Partridge, Mrs. Brady, Mrs. Addams, Mrs. Munster, Mrs. Cleaver, Mrs. Simpson, Mrs. Jetson, Mrs. Flintstone and Mrs. Rubble, Mrs. Ricardo...


Keeping it real

Unexpectedly, all of my girls were home over the weekend. It's us!

Mothers Day 1

Mothers Day 2

Mothers Day 2

And we're definitely keeping it real!

(I love the Sharon photobombs! She'd love that she's in such good company!)

They took me to see The Great Gatsby on Saturday night (Rusty came too), after which we all ended up out for dinner, and then stopping at a local tavern where my future son-in-law's band was playing. An early movie turned into a rather late night out! I liked the movie, loved the music, it was all very f-a-s-t for a 2.5-hour movie. There are parts of "the original" that I found much more powerful, such as almost everything to do with the Wilsons.

Botanical 2
Mom's beginning to feel a bit better and was set on doing something for Mother's Day, having regretted not doing anything for Easter, and we settled on a visit to the Green Bay Botanical Garden. It was quite lovely, but ooohh so chilly!! I think we'd have managed just fine with either cold or wind; both was just too much even on such a beautiful sunny day.

There were markers for about a million hostas that I've never heard of before! They were all just starting to poke through the ground, getting ready to take over the show when the spring flowers are finished. I'm looking forward to a promised return visit later this summer.



Or it could be the calm before the storm.

Or allergies.

Or is it a spring-time cold?

I had to laugh this morning when I read the part about Macro May in Carole's post, and that she was trying hard not to make all of her pictures of bugs and flowers this time. It's so hard in May, after a long winter (and even longer spring, it seemed), when everything is blooming... and when bugs are all over the flowers! Haha.

I always love how fast the bleeding heart grows.

EarlyApril 13th

Early2April 28th

2013-05-05_1367713178May 5th

2013-05-08_1367974679May 8th

Less than a month from sprout to bloom. It's an enormous plant (will be), with many volunteers, that my sister shared with me several years ago from her yard in Madison.

Yesterday, Mom suggested we try to walk down and check out what's happening in her wildflower garden; the big motivator, however, may have been removal of the dead Christmas wreath hanging on the picket fence by the garden house!

2013-05-08_1368051547The Virginia Bluebells are starting to bloom!

2013-05-08_1368051150Dutchmen's Breeches

And I was delighted not to have missed the Dutchmen's Breeches! They are tiny and so fleeting.

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.

--Pablo Neruda

Ten on Tuesday: Why, oh why?

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Reasons Why I Knit

Hands Now there's a blast from the knit-blogger past! Who knows these hands? When, where, who? Anyone?

1. Knitting keeps my hands busy. I cannot imagine idle hands. I put knitting aside in favor of counted cross-stitch samplers for a while in the late '80s and early '90s, finding that sort of project to be more portable and easier to segment, at the time, but I was always anxious to get back to knitting!

2. Knitting keeps me company. I learned to knit as a child and did a little knitting during my high school years, but it was when I moved to Oregon in the early '80s that I became a knitter. It wouldn't really be much of an exaggeration to say that it saved me! I was pretty lonely out there, and knitting was my BFF for a while! Come to think of it, I was knitting in high school for the same reason, though wasn't challenging myself then nearly as much as in Oregon (and neither was I as lonely).

3. Knitting keeps my brain busy. Well, knitting keeps my brain as busy as it needs to be on any given day/hour/minute! I always have a few projects in process, usually of various types and degrees of difficulty.

Lap blanket

Parcheesi (Parcheesi Afghan by Janine Bajus)

4. Knitting satisfies my need to be creative. I love that I can exercise my creativity in so many ways with knitting -- from choosing and/or arranging colors to making pattern modifications, and even dabbling in rudimentary design!

5. Knitting helps my social life. Oh, how I could have used a Stitch 'n Bitch in Oregon! Thankfully, knitting groups are not hard to find -- or form -- these days, and I'm happy to have many local options, and to have made some good friends. I love a group for the variety of people and personalities, which translates to a variety of interests and projects! And then there's blogging -- which I began doing because of knitting -- and have made friends all over the world because of it! I am very fortunate that I've even been able to meet and spend time with some of them.

6. Knitting is challenging! One of the beautiful things about knitting -- and probably one of the reasons why it doesn't get old -- is that the range of projects is staggering. And they just keep coming...

7. I love the process of knitting. I've made no secret of that! I have numerous projects at various stages in the process because it is precisely that -- The Process -- that interests me most. I just love to DO it.

Diaper Cover

Diaper Cover (Wool Diaper Cover by Studio Tuumat Oy)

8. Knitting is satisfying! It wouldn't be very motivating if I never finished anything, so I have become more careful is selecting projects (some, at least) that I know will be finished. I've found baby & kid things to be quick and satisfying morsels, though they also need to be carefully selected because there can be an enormous amount of (fiddlly) finishing involved!

Nice and simple

Dolores (Dolores Park Cowl by Parikha Mehta)

9. I love the product of knitting. I knit mostly for myself, and I wear my knits! Shawls, scarves, cowls, and mitts are among the "satisfying" knits that I am likely to finish (usually because they require very little "finishing"), and I wear one or more of the above every single day in the winter months! At home, I'm likely to wrap up in a handknit blanket and wear me-made wool socks or slippers, as well! I live in a wool house!

10. Knitting relieves stress. A day without knitting is a very rare thing 'round here.


In a rut?

Maybe. But it's a cute one.


  • Project: Shibui Knits' Vintage Baby Cardigan by Kristin Spurkland
  • Ravelry details here
  • Largest of 3 sizes
  • Blue Yarn: Intrepid Tulips (formerly Fiber Optica) Sock, color "Urban Night"
  • Green Yarn: Drops Alpaca, color #2916
  • White Yarn: KnitPicks Stroll Fingering, color "White"
  • Finished sweater weighs 120g
  • Needle: US 3
  • Start to Finish: April-something , 2013 - April 27 (or so), 2013

It's actually not entirely finished yet. There's the matter of closure. I'm thinking ribbon this time; three, and unevenly spaced.

And the sleeve seams. I've forgotten them both times I've knit this little sweater! Plop it down in front of knitting group or to photograph it, declaring it FINISHED, and oopsie, not quite.

I sure love this blank-canvas pattern! I've been having fun with the color blocking, and it's a great way to use up little bits. Not that I am in desperate need of another scrappy project but, you know, one can only make so many blue hexi-not-puffs!

Having nothing but intensive lace projects in my bag, I may even have cast on a third at Knit Night last Thursday. Why, yes, I did just happen to have the correct needles and yarn along.

Middle size this time. No rush.

I've not been shirking other duties! The knitting for BOTH wedding shawls -- Mexican Wedding and Frambuesa -- was completed over the weekend!! I am very excited. I have a lot of fingering weight left and think I could have knit the larger size of Frambuesa.

Frambuesa - all that remains is the bind off. Could have made the larger size. There's still time to change my mind. Or knit another. Will be over-dyeing. #June15 #knittingforthewedding #macromay

T-minus 40 days... Will she or won't she?

{{{40 days!!}}}

Fruits & veggies (w/shrimp)

Orangelo, a knitted baby bib.

  • Project: Orangelo Bib by Norah Gaughan (free pattern at Berroco), smallest size
  • Yarn: Lion Brand's "Martha Stewart Crafts" Cotton Hemp in "Clementine" -- yarn held double throughout
  • Needle: US 10.5
  • Start to Finish: December 17-19, 2012

Obviously, I finished this months ago! It was a fun little project -- a quick knit, perfect for last-minute gift-giving. I was afraid I'd run out of yarn, but had some left over and may have been able to do the larger size. I love this color.

* * * * *

Wanted to share this amazingly simple and delicious recipe that I made a while back, especially now that it's spring... otherwise known as Fresh Asparagus Season! I pick up an extra bag or two or three of frozen (uncooked, shell-on) shrimp when they're on sale at the store and it's so nice to have them in the freezer. I almost think of shrimp as "fast," because they thaw fairly quickly and actually make a good last-minute option, you know, for when I'm not thinking ahead.


Preheat oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash and trim asparagus, arrange on half of the paper-lined baking sheet.

Peel and devein the shrimp, if necessary. The shell-on shrimp I most often buy have the shells on but are already deveined, so the shells are already cut and very easy to remove.

Drizzle all with 2-3 T. oil -- coconut or olive, your choice.

Season with salt and pepper, some other herbs if you're in the mood.

Lightly stir or shake the pan a bit so that everything is fairly evenly distributed. Pop into the oven for 20# or until done. The shrimp will be opaque, the asparagus roasted and tender.

Oh, so yummy!

It's quite possibly what's for dinner.