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December 2019
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February 2020



My mum would have been 82 today! I miss her everyday... and I don't suppose that'll ever change!


Unraveled Wednesday: Arrows

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


Last night I finished the second triangle needed to begin We Make Our Own Arrows, and I'm so excited to join them and carry on!


I am dying to start Banging Out A Sweater, but I'm going to hold my horses and wait until the official start on Saturday!

I also have a kit from Laura Nelkin for Nugget Mitts ready to cast on as soon as I get the proper needles. This project will be a bit more portable. And it has BEADS!


Y'know, I'm as slow as it gets in this department, so still:

And now I'm ready to launch -- it's a busy day off with lots to cross off my list. Have a great Wednesday, everyone!



We woke up on Saturday to the stickiest, prettiest snow...


There was snow stuck to even the itty-bittiest branches. You can usually still see through the trees a little bit, even when it's snowed like this, but in addition to sticky snow there was zero wind... it was magical, and lasted well into the morning.

Saturday was also a full-fledged Pajama Day! I've had one or two "close" ones in recent weeks. Most of those days have been spent sequestered in my workroom/office, getting caught up on books and prepping for tax time. I'm pretty much ready with Ali's stuff -- her tax lady might faint! And I'm taking a full head of steam into our personal stuff... maybe this is the year that I break the cycle of last-minute filing!

Sunday was a bit more... active. I had departing Airbnb guests, so crossed a few things off of that checklist right away in the morning.


I'd wound up my Bang-out Sweater yarn on Friday, started a sleeve-swatch (I love how it knit up!), and contemplated the knitting ahead. It all clicked on Sunday morning. I frogged my swatch, rewound the ball, and spent a lot of time on Sunday afternoon figuring out the details for the pattern modifications I have in mind. Stay tuned! I'll be casting on again on Saturday -- for real! I'm so excited. It feels like ages since I knit a sweater for myself (though really only a little over a year).

On Sunday night, Ali & I took Junah & Ginny to see Blue Man Group in Appleton.


Our seats were a little "up there"! And the railing seemed awfully low... I never even thought to check what level those box seats were on. For some reason, I was just thinking they were first floor, but we were on the FOURTH! So, a part of the stage was blocked from our view, but it was very cool to see some elements of the show (especially lights) from on high. I made the mistake of parking in a nearby ramp, and it took over an hour to make our exit... Ali took Junah to the bathroom, and then made another trip with both kids to get some food, and I hadn't moved an inch while she was gone either time. I will never make that mistake again!


Unraveled Wednesday: Looking Ahead

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

KNITTING -- Currently

I'm not breaking any records, but work continues on We Make Our Own Arrows.


I feel like these pieces sort of set the stage for what's to come, which is why they've each had a false start and/or some ripping out. It'll be so exciting to join them together and begin the tails! Unfortunately, it's not a very portable project.

I'll soon be casting on something small on DPNs... travel knitting!

KNITTING -- On My Radar

For one reason or another, I haven't had the desire to Bang Out A Sweater before, but this year? I'm doin' it.


Main Squeeze Cardigan from Mason-Dixon Knitting Guide No. 12: Big Joy

If there was ever a sweater made for bangin' out, it's this one!

Also, for one reason or another, I don't have much experience with Knit Picks yarn! I'm fixing that by knitting this in Wool of the Andes Bulky, in the new color "Stormy," scheduled to arrive today! This wouldn't normally be considered for travel, but since Kate & I will be driving to NC... it's coming along.


Color work is also in my future. Ha. Who am I kidding? It's been on my radar for years and I've even had a go at it a couple of times.*

For the past few years, I've been giving Rusty & Kate the Ootlier Calendar, so I have to go to the KDD & Co website every year to place my refill order... and this year I bought a little something for myself, too. I couldn't help it... I was just smitten!

There are a few projects in Milarrochy Heids that I love and could easily knit (more likely as cowls rather than hats, at least if intended for me) -- Cadans, Every Flavour, Let's Stripe (oh, yes, LET'S!); others that I also love but would be much more challenging -- Breiwick, Chezzetcook Inlet, Featherheid, Peerie Flooers, Tettegouche.


Those colours!

So this year, I am challenging myself to have another go at it, and to that end (and because, apparently, I cannot resist the Scots), I have signed up for Ysolda's Colourwork Club! "If you've never done stranded colourwork before this is the perfect way to learn..." I can't wait for the first pattern release at the end of the month.


Audio: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

Pages: Fever by Mary Beth Keane.

*North Star Mittens turned out too small for me; luckily they fit Kate perfectly and she loved them... until they were lost. Latvian Mittens are unfinished... they are significantly different in size. Matching mittens of the same, intended size is a GOAL.

Weekending: Switching Gears

I couldn't think of any particular day that I'd prefer over another for taking down the tree, and it was really weighing me down, so I just buckled down and did the deed.


It took forever because, y'know, I just wasn't into it, but the majority got done on Saturday, and we packed up and moved the tree downstairs on Sunday morning. I liked the light from the tree, but I really love the wide open!

I usually leave the stockings up long past Christmas -- Easter is my self-imposed deadline -- because I hand-stitched every one and I like to look at them. This year? Christmas is done, man. I'm over it. It's time to move on!

I'd just seen this outside the back door:


...and took it as a sign. Kate made this garland of colorful birds for my mom several years ago and I ran across it while packing up and culling (one whole bag to donate) ornaments & decorations. It seemed like just the thing...



And speaking of spring/seasons, I've been meaning to share the wonderful gift that I received from Alison -- you can spot it in the photos above.


She had a local artist do four vignettes of our house -- one for each season -- reminiscent of one of our favorite children's books:

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton


Isn't that fab??? I just love it.


And then we did some furniture repair! One of the leaves on this rustic old drop-leaf table was split nearly in two, so we glued and clamped (three different types of clamps) and hopefully it'll hold.


Thirty-five in years... married...

35-years this guy.

We're now at 50 days until Todos Santos, which is more or less a belated anniversary celebration!


Looking Ahead... Wanderlust

This photo was in my in-box this morning:


It was seven years ago yesterday that I was on my way to Rio de Janeiro! There was that unfortunate missed connection in Houston (by only :15 with the connecting gate literally right next door... that still bites!) that set me back a day, causing Annie to have to deliver this news to the boys. It turned out OK in the end, though, as I was actually able to negotiate to extend my stay! Still... this photo of these little boys (5 and 7 at the time) breaks my heart!

I finally found a calendar for work:


I love travel calendars and, these days, I love ticking off all the places that I've been! There are plenty more places yet to go...

And I am RESTLESS! I am literally counting the days (hours, minutes & seconds) until I can GO SOMEWHERE:


It's barely less than three weeks until the next #whirlwindarttripwithkate, and thank god because I don't know if I could bear the seven+ weeks until Rusty & I leave for Mexico with nothing in between... not the way I'm feeling right now!

So, the trip with Kate... we're headed back to North Carolina! And it'll definitely be whirlwind, leaving on a Thursday afternoon when we're both finished at work and returning on Monday. Last time, almost 5 years ago (!), our focus was Black Mountain, and it will be this time, too, but specifically a show at Black Mountain College Museum in Asheville. Question Everything! The Women of Black Mountain College. Though we saw plenty of art on our previous trip, the BMCM was closed for an installation; Kate's on their mailing list and she popped in out of the blue a couple of weeks ago (with some sort of Spidey sense) (when people were flying off to Europe and Australia and I was feeling extra feels) (and knowing that this is right up my alley) to suggest that we go! Besides, trips like this are good for us! We'll be staying in Asheville this time, at our first Airbnb with the "Plus" designation.

In the meantime, I'm focusing on putting my head down and getting all the things done (especially the distasteful ones) so I can truly vacate on vacay! Maybe I'll even get the Christmas tree down... heh.

I'm also thinking a lot about knitting and what I want to do this year. I don't usually set knitting goals and I have no idea what all I'm going to knit because... how many patterns are released on Ravelry each year? But I do know some things, and I'll share them next week.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!


Unraveled Wednesday: Making Arrows

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

But first... it was a crazy intense 3-day weekend of mostly doing book work + a birthday party, followed by a slightly disoriented Tuesday back at work!

I'd mentioned on Friday that I intended to sew some bat wraps and/or 'roo pouches over the weekend, but I didn't do any of that. And I'm not going to. I really should have known better!

Over the weekend it became clear that exuberant "global helpful hands" are not actually helpful to anyone in Australia; instead, likely creating an overwhelming tide of stuff that may or may not be needed, that may or may not be useful, that may or may not arrive in time, that will definitely tax & divert resources just with the handling, sorting, determining, and dealing with said stuff.

I'll admit, I got a little carried away because my very own daughter is there, taking photos of actual fruit bats in need! But no. None of that is needed from me... nor from you nor from almost anyone else outside of Australia.

What is most helpful to Australia from here is money.

If stuff has to be made, it would be best all around to check with LOCAL wildlife centers, animal shelters, and/or humane societies to see what THEIR needs might be.



Is it too early to proclaim that Rusty is Husband of The Year?? I really wanted to write an Unraveled post today, but it's so lame without a photo... and I finished the first "starter" triangle for my second We Make Our Own Arrows shawl, so I actually had something I wanted to show!

Rusty's usually home in the morning, so I decided to ask him to take a couple of photos for me. This is what he sent:


Impressed that he actually went outside to take a shot! But you can see it, can't you?

I replied: Almost perfect... do you think you could do the same but with the "right side" showing??


And he did!

I had one false start with that piece, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I'm aiming for "similar but different" for the next one. I'm weaving in at least a few ends on this triangle before I cast on for the second.


I'm a bit of a jack-rabbit to start 2020! While doing aforementioned bookwork over the weekend, I did a lot of listening... I finished The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich, listened to all of Crazy Brave: A Memoir by Joy Harjo, and I also listened to all of Autumn by Ali Smith.

I am currently, happily, settling in with Tom Hanks' performance of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

Fever gets my attention at night before I turn out my light and I'm going to have to start going to bed earlier!


The smallest perfect number

It hardly seems possible, but this happened on Sunday:


Junah turned SIX!

Six is, in fact, the smallest perfect number, but as they relate to grandchildren's ages, ALL numbers are PERFECT NUMBERS.


However, I reserve the right to claim 6 as one of my most FAVORITE NUMBERS when it comes to age!

I love this photo from our session last month... there are 12 people in this image and he's the only one looking at the camera. So sweet.


Five on Friday

Clean up... I have some random stuff to share!


I was LIVE on local radio yesterday! I'd shared a post on the Kaukauna Coffee & Tea and Make.Do FB pages about the "crafty" relief efforts for animals in Australia.



The host of a local radio program, who also happens to be a patron at KC&T, saw the post and got in touch with me about doing a short segment on the show. Did I mention LIVE? Yikes. I don't know anyone who actually heard it... I'm sure I rambled a bit.

I'd planned on making some Bat Wraps -- and I'll still make a couple -- but the need for those isn't as great as it was, so I think I'll make some cozy hanging pouches! I absolutely love that there's a daytime pouch (so little joey can look around) and a nighttime version (you should be sleeping little joey!!).

For more info: Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild (FB Page) and (FB GROUP). I find the GROUP page to be a bit more helpful, especially the links on the left for Announcements (current info & updates from admins) and for Files (where you can find patterns, tutorials & specs for knitting, sewing, and/or crocheting all the items they need). Casting On, my local yarn shop in Appleton, is collecting items and will be sending a big box (I hope) to Australia on the 27th!


Coincidentally, after telling Maddy that I was going to sew up some BAT WRAPS, she sent me a message (she'd posted on IG a day or two earlier about fruit bats, including one caught in a fence):

THANK YOU for the bat wraps!!! The lady who came to save our bats definitely used them, it was amazing! They cling onto the little stuffed pillow part and then you wrap the rest of it around them to hold their wings and claws down. Dang they're adorable.

I'm certain that not everyone shares feels that way about fruit bats (they're huge!), but many do... and I love that she does!


This photo was awaiting me in Snapchat this morning. She told me yesterday that the smoke had cleared up considerably where they were, though there were still fires around... and now (then) a dust storm!


In unrelated news, we built this a day or two after Christmas:


All the toy soldiers had a fun time on the motorized K'nex Ferris Wheel!! That was quite the project -- Ali started it, and Annie & I chipped in to help. The kids LOVED it!


I took some detail shots of the laundry bag that I made for Kate:


1) Overall/flat. 2) French seams! 3) Hanging loop -- which she really appreciated.


We are currently hosting our first Airbnb guests of 2020. Packers fans, they arrived from Seattle last night and are here for Sunday's NFL Playoff game in Green Bay between the Seahawks (coincidence!) and the Packers. It seems like ages (though only a month) since the last time we had Airbnb guests up there...


So I watered all the plants and fluffed/cozied up the bedroom.


Since Maddy cleared out the storage unit when she was here, there was another bed available, so we're transitioning to an actual full-time second bedroom. I have a nice queen-size air mattress that I would put in here, when needed, and had sort of resisted the idea of a permanent second bedroom... until I was recently searching for Airbnb accommodations for an upcoming #whirlwindarttripwithkate and realized that I prefer to book two beds/two bedrooms when we're traveling, so why not? In a lot of ways, it would be easier... and why not just TRY IT! I can always change my mind. Since I took this photo, we've added an actual bedframe (I'd initially ordered the wrong size - duh), and it will continue to evolve...

And also, this again today:


I've earned Superhost again for the third time in a row! Yahoo! Come and see me! Tell your friends!  :)  The Artist's Perch.


2019: The Sewing

The first sewing I did last year was to re-vamp a long waffle-knit cardigan.


There had been ribbing at the bottom, creating an unflattering bubble-butt look, and also at the wrists. If I recall correctly, I'd picked it off the "clearance" rack at Goodwill for $1. It was so much better once I cut off the ribbing and I've worn it a lot! I'd wear it more if I ever got around to adding pockets.

The second thing I sewed was for my seldom-used BuJo.


I may begin using it again to track my soon-to-be-resumed DuoLingo Spanish practice. I was also pleasantly surprised to find some other forgotten notes, so who knows...

I spent well over 100 days sewing on my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket... and not just at home. I stitched on trips to NYC, Nevada/Arizona, Michigan, and in the car.


There is still so very much to do. My last attempt at 100 days was thwarted by... everything! Life, the holidays, and Ali & Rod buying/fixing/moving into a new house -- to name a few. I am currently in the process of cleaning up my workroom/worktable (Kate noticed, so progress!) and wish to resume this practice, as well.

I bought a new sewing machine in spring of 2019, but it was mid-summer before I even got it out of the box. I really loved my old machine, a Viking Husqvarna (which was already old when I received it in the early 1980s), but had been warned by my service guy that the plastic cams were wearing out and it was getting very difficult to find replacements. I found working cams to be indispensable in the making of buttonholes!

My new machine is a Baby Lock Jubilant, and I am learning new tricks! My favorite things about the new machine are the needle threader, see-thru bobbin case, speed control, that it always stops with the needle in the fabric, that the needle can be raised with the push of a button, that it's lightweight but sturdy, and making buttonholes is a breeze. I also like the free-arm sewing capability. I only bought two accessories right off the bat: an extension table and a walking foot.

My first projects were outfits for a family photo shoot -- matching dresses for Ginny & Malina and coordinating vest & bow tie for Junah -- using a sheet and old curtains, both fabrics closely associated with my mother.


Malina ended up wearing a romper, instead, that Ali had made when Ginny was a baby -- from the same sheet design! (There were numerous sets! Some are still in use!)


Oh Junah! He was just not into it that day...

The speed control feature of my new machine was very useful during Auntie Camp when the boys learned to sew and made their own pillowcases!


Those pillowcases were so much fun that I made a few more after they all left!


And I'd still like to make a few more!

I found some great fabrics at Field's when I visited with Kym in Michigan last fall, including some with a "world" design that made me think of all the travelers in my family. I bought a few yards with the very vague idea of making travel laundry bags. I found a pattern/tutorial that I liked, though as with so many online tutorials, there's an ad between every paragraph, a bazillion enormous photographs (which can be helpful, of course, but also t.e.d.i.o.u.s, and it's all so awkward to navigate and utterly impossible to print. So I used another favorite website/service -- Print Friendly -- to whittle it down, export it to a Word document, resize & rearrange the remaining photographs, and make a manageable, usable, savable, printable PDF for my own use.

I made some modifications -- no stencil, and fabric proportions were different in order to maximize the motif of the "travel" fabric, french seams -- and I made SIX laundry bags!


That's three photos of the same bag, which belongs to Kate, and which just returned from it's first trip -- to Brooklyn! Two other laundry bags are in Australia, and three more are in Spain! They are approximately 15" wide by 20" long, with a drawstring, and also a loop for hanging. I used scrap fabrics in b&w prints that I had for the "coordinating" pieces -- some worked better than others -- but they're laundry bags...

The real beauty of making/giving these at Christmas is that they doubled as GIFT BAGS!! They were extremely well received and appreciated. I love it when I hit the mark!

But that's not all... I also made actual, intentional GIFT BAGS!


OK, well, one gift bag was made in time to actually use for Christmas gift-giving -- the "fruit" bag was used for some of Rusty's gifts. The other three had been cut, but I finished them just last weekend (part of the clean-up effort in my workroom)! A few more photos & details about those are on Instagram here and here.


2019: The Knitting

I didn't knit a lot last year, but SOCKS made a big return... in big yarn! 2019-knitting

I finished 14 projects last year... and there's not a mystery* among them!

  • One hat
  • Four pairs of socks
  • Two baby/toddler sweaters
  • One wall hanging
  • One infinity scarf
  • Two pairs of mitts/mittens
  • Three cowls...


...which I hadn't added to my Ravelry page before I made the collage! They're there now.

So far this year, I've finished a pair of Woodland Slippers, and last night I started another "Arrows" scarf.

The scarf is by request from the person to whom I gave the first! She has proven herself to be very knit-worthy, and requested the same scarf but in more neutral colors. This is a terrible photo taken late and in lamp light (thanks, winter!), but these are the colors so far (surprisingly accurate given the situation)... let me know if there's anything here that makes you cringe.


*I would have done Kirsten's Shawl MKAL, but I don't think she ever had one -- am I wrong? I recall an announced delay and then I either missed it or it just never happened.


2019: The Reading



I read 10 books in 2019... and had a goal of 20 (down from 25 in 2018, of which I read 15).



My favorites were Fox 8, The Summer Walkers, Blood, Uncommon Type, and Daisy Jones & The Six.

My least favorite (to put it nicely) were The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and Daughters of the Lake.

In truth, I didn't actually finish "lemon cake" until last night... it was a struggle.

I am currently 3 hours from finishing the 14-hour listen that is The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II... and that'll be a big one under my belt to begin 2020!

Ready to crack open tonight: Fever for the book club hosted by Kym, Bonny & Carole!

_ _ _ _ _

Have a good weekend! I'll be doing more catch-up stuff and not taking down my Christmas tree.


Begin as you mean to go on...

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


Maddy & Viv had a rough start to their journey with a long delay in Milwaukee, but made Monday's last flight out of Minneapolis to Seattle on stand-by, and their tight connection at LAX just before midnight (CST) last night, and are now on their way to Sydney! From there, they'll eventually make their way to Margaret River in Western Austrialia, where jobs await!

Kate's Monday flight from Green Bay was flat-out canceled at the last minute (she was at the gate), and though Tuesday's connections were a little hairy, she made it and is settled in Brooklyn -- a few hours (and a day) late, but there! She'll be back for a few days next week, then off to London for a quick visit, then a road trip with me (see below), then a few days in Prague, and then spending most of March house-/pet-sitting for friends in Edinburgh!

Ali has been happily nesting in her new home. The girls all wished they could have gone out at least one more work day, but illness through us all a curve ball. Rusty spent the entire day there yesterday and every little bit helps. It looks amazing in photos and I can't wait to go out there myself again soon!

Ann & her family are in Madison for a few more days before heading back to Spain on Sunday, where they'll begin preparing for a summertime move to... LIMA, PERU!!

I am content at home, at the moment, catching up on (and cleaning up) all the little things, and doing a little vacation planning... a #whirlwindarttripwithkate will be happening next month, a trip to Mexico with Rusty in March, and now, obviously, Peru is on the list of possibilities (maybe even in fall!).

Begin as you mean to go on... and for us, I guess the key word is: GO!