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Unraveled Wednesday: 2021

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share a review of my 2021 Knitting & Reading!


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



  • A bunch of gnomes
  • A bunch of stars
  • A hat
  • A Christmas stocking

Started/Current WIPs:

  • A crocheted blanket -- getting close (and will get back to it ASAP)
  • A second Wild Fields hat
  • A messy bun hat for Ali (not recorded above)

That blanket has been the focus this year, for sure.



I exceeded my goal this year! The bar was set at 12 -- pretty low by some standards -- and I read 15 books.


There are some doozies in there -- even a few 5-stars -- and a dud. I never "returned" an audio book before, but I just.could.not.handle Maggie O'Farrell's "I Am, I Am, I Am." I sure did love Hamnet, though! What a great bunch of books... a little more than half were audio.

I actually ended up buying a hard copy of Stanley Tucci's memoir and then I received one in a gift swap, so I gave it to Ali because even thirty-somethings are crushing on Stanley! haha. Kate gave me The Tucci Table cookbook for Christmas, so, yeah... we're fans.


Spotify/Wrapped 2021

It's the "wrap up" time of year! I recently received 2021 Wrapped from Spotify.


That's a lot of listening time, and 16,000+ minutes (266 hours) more than last year. I'd say that's pretty accurate, and most of that listening time is at work or in the car, though I also listen to books (mostly in the car). There are plenty of "quiet" hours, too.

According to Spotify, my "Audio Aura" is wistful and expressive. I listened to 227 different genres during the year, but these are the top five:

  • Indie Folk
  • Classic Rock
  • Dance Pop
  • Soul
  • Indie Rock

Airtime was given to 3,277 different artists, but the one at the top was Amen Dunes.


Gregory Alan Isakov has made the list for the past few years.


They tell me that I listened to that top song 61 times, which they thought was reasonable (though I suspect they'd say that no matter how many times it played)! I'm unable to embed my playlist here, but here's my Spotify profile and you can find it there (along with some other random stuff).

What have you been listening to?


Year In Review

Here we go again Year In Review!

I do it in words (the first sentence of the first post of each month) and in pictures (a favorite posted photo from each month) -- the two are not necessarily related.


January 2021:

I'm afraid I may have misled a few of you with my closing meme on New Year's Eve!



February 2021:

Yesterday was the official beginning of The 100 Day Project...



March 2021:

It was a long weekend for me, with Monday off this week... that always means a lot to share!



April 2021:

Kate will land in the UK a month from today!



May 2021:

We celebrated Ginny's 5th birthday yesterday!



June 2021:

It's a whirlwind!



July 2021:

June was really great, for the most part!



August 2021:

My dad died on Saturday night, just a couple weeks shy of his 86th birthday.



September 2021:

So other than these few words, it's gonna be a Wordless Wednesday!



October 2021:

How are we almost a week in already??



November 2021:

Lucky 13! Thirteen is also a Fibonacci number, a prime number, a star number, and a happy number (among other things, and thank you very much Wikipedia).



December 2021:

I had a few things to keep in mind as I planned our trip to the North Shore -- a weekend with no guests, work/teaching schedules -- but mostly, the opening of Rusty's New Island exhibit at the Trout Museum of Art in Appleton, WI, which he'd been pulling together for months.



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

This year, like no other much like the one before: I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL THIS YEAR IS OVER!!! BURN! (Again!)


It's a backpack!

Joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...


What I thought might be a satchel or bag turns out to be a backpack!


Have you ever seen anything cuter? I'm sure you have, but dang... We've been informed that something will fill the backpack, but from recent clues it appears that we are knitting a small gnome that seems too big to fit in there... so we'll just have to wait & see (again!)!

It's fiddly knitting, for sure, but it's in small manageable bits -- do a little knitting, take a rest, do some more knitting, take a rest, sew some stuff together (or stuff it with some stuffing), take a little rest, etc. This month-long KAL is just my speed, and I have time to do some other things, too. My friend Deb is also knitting this project, but as a fairly monogamous knitter, this is not the scenario she prefers; in fact, she didn't even start it until almost two weeks in (when she finished a project) and then sat down and knit through all the clues... and now she has to wait for the next clue(s) and pick up something else in the meantime.

We're all a little different, eh?


Goodness, I have hardly read/listened to a word lately, but when I do...

Listening to: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers.

Actual book: This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History.

Instead of reading, I've been watching variations on a theme: The Great British Baking Show. And Young Wallander... which I feel like I may have seen before -- some if it is so familiar but much is "brand new."

What are you knitting/making, reading/watching? Are you a monogamous knitter/maker?


Real quick...

In my memories today:


It's surreal, and hard to believe another whole year has passed. It's not an anniversary I wish to celebrate, but I sure do remember... one of the sickest/weirdest stretches of days I've ever had in my life.

You might have caught a recent post on IG wherein I was sharing some gnome progress remembered this day... the beginning of a bunch o' gnomes for the kiddos (when we were finally able to celebrate together). Christmas + Covid + Knitting Gnomes will be linked forevermore!

Anyway, I am happy to have been BOOSTED last Wednesday. I was a little wiped out from that (and a bad night's sleep) on Thursday and thought I might be coming down with something on Friday/over the weekend -- even wondered if it was Covid and am I going to get it every year?? -- but thankful for a long weekend to get things done and take care of myself, too! I'm feeling much better.

This year, in addition to the MKAL Gnome (hopefully posting about that tomorrow), I'm knitting STARS!


The pattern (free on Rav) is Star Ornament by Adella Dutra and is it ever fun to knit in super bulky yarn! I happen to be using some Blue Skies Alpaca Bulky that I've had in my stash for years -- turned out to be not quite right for the type of hat Ali wanted one year, so it's just been sitting -- and I'm delighted to be using it up & making something so quick & cute.



It hardly seems possible that it's been 11 years since my sister Sharon died.


I love how she's the only one in focus & looking at the camera in this photo.


And her expressions were priceless (those eyeballs)!


She was always an animal lover!


And one of my most favorite people in the world. I miss her so much.


Robert & Alison

One of my favorite albums of the past decade & a half (how is it that long??) is Raising Sand by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss.

I was delighted to hear that they finally made another recording together, and it just happened to be released on the day that Rusty & I were driving up north, so we had a listen... and, of course, then a reprise of Raising Sand!

The new album is called Raise The Roof, and you can listen to a couple of tracks -- and see them perform -- at a recent NPR Tiny Desk <Home> Concert (embedded below).



They are MARVELOUS!!


Monday: Plan B

Well, today I was supposed to drive to Chicago to pick up Kate at O'Hare. We were going to stay at a very fine hotel, find an incredible place to eat, have a good night's sleep, and then she'd drive us home tomorrow.

Instead, she's hanging out with three dogs & two Shetland ponies for a week in Penicuik, just on the outskirts of Edinburgh, in an old converted barn. For a short time in the 18th Century there was a distillery on the premises, producing single malt scotch whisky, as well as an annual sheep market. None of that anymore, but she can see sheep from the living room couch!

Instead, I went to Milwaukee today -- to IKEA, specifically -- where the name of the game was:


And that included SWEDISH MEATBALLS, of all things... at IKEA! They were OUT -- both in the cafeteria and in the shop. I can't quite get over it.

But it was every piece of furniture I had on my list, too, and also feather "decorator" pillow inserts. Stuck in a container somewhere, I'm sure -- in a boat, on a dock, or even at sea.

Don't worry, I still managed to spend one or two or three hundred dollars! Haha. Some stuff for the Airbnb, some stuff for Christmas, some stuff for me!!

Speaking of Airbnbs, the Christmas trees are up!


I bought skinny 7' pre-lit trees and borrowed an idea I saw on Mary's blog for decoration. I think they're kind of charming.

We both had guests over the weekend because the Packers played on Sunday night, and they were all wonderful, but Cheri was at mine for her birthday, too. We never met face-to-face, but we texted a lot, and she really loved the place... going as far as saying, "...we went to Maui for my husband's birthday last month and my birthday beats his."

The football fans are downright giddy!

And in other news, I attended the girls' first dance recital yesterday!


My photos are awful, someone kept standing in front of Ginny, and there wasn't a whole lot of dancing... but it was fun and they sure were cute!!

I believe I've just finished up my Christmas shopping... still have a few quick little things I want to make, and the overseas parcels won't be going out until after Christmas, but it's all super chill (and I even have my ham ordered).

Hope you had a great weekend!


Gno Gnomes

I'll be delivering Sebastian's Christmas Stocking to his grandmother this evening. He lives in New York and she'll be going to visit in just over a week, so the timing is perfect.

Janet is a patron of Rusty's and we met at an event in October. When she learned that I was a knitter, she told me about Sebastian being the only grandson without a Christmas stocking -- her mother had knit stockings for everyone else, but had passed away before Sebastian was born, and no one else in the family was a knitter. He'd been sharing with his brother for years!

This is not my favorite type of project, though I knit two similar stockings for Mack & Addie when they were little, but she was so nice and I was sympathetic... so I agreed on the spot to make one for him. She sent me some photos and a few of her mother's notes... the original pattern was published in A Woman's Home Companion in 1945! I worked on rewriting the pattern so that it made sense to me, charting the name & date, and gathering materials. The plan was to focus on knitting the stocking while we were on our getaway to the North Shore.


We made one stop Friday on our way north -- at Herschnerrs in Stevens Point -- because I realized that I needed a couple more colors. Everything fit very nicely into a portable project box.

I started on Saturday morning.


The light was amazing from the huge windows in our cabin that faced the lake, the sun reflecting on the water -- it was blinding at times! I had the personalization finished by mid-afternoon.


I had the girls & boys finished by noon on Sunday, and Santas were well underway by the afternoon.

Then the trees, and then the foot. It was knit flat until the foot, which was knit in the round. Ooops! I forgot DPNs, and I didn't remember when we stopped at Herschnerrs, so I checked with google... I knew there was a yarn shop in the area.


Sure enough, just a little over two miles away! Playing With Yarn -- World Class Yarn Shop, according to their website -- and I would agree, but also add MUSEUM. I did not linger too long, but I did notice some Rowan Calmer in the clearance bin and that's a rare find these days. Anyway, I know my tension is very different on DPNs than on straights, and if these needles had been a little less pricey, I'd have bought 7s and 8s, but decided on only 7s -- up one size ought to be okay for a stocking that didn't need to fit an actual foot.


That was Monday right around lunch time, and I closed the toe before heading to bed on Monday night. We were leaving for home on Tuesday!


When we got home, I pulled out the crochet again for a few days while I mustered up the will to weave in ends. Not to mention Thanksgiving and two Airbnbs to prepare for guests arriving Friday & Saturday. All that out of the way, I sat down at my computer desk on Saturday afternoon to listen to Longmont Yarn Shoppe's Fiberside Chat with Sarah Schira of Imagined Landscapes (the GNOME lady... oops, one slipped in) and also to catch up a little with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee -- all of which I found informative & entertaining, and the perfect accompaniment to the weaving in & seaming.


I gave it a soak on Sunday... it's pretty thick in spots, so it took a while to dry (I ended up hanging it over the shower rod instead of flat on a blocking mat).


I made two very fat tassels, but ended up using only one... hung it up on my then-still-undecorated Christmas tree for a photo. Et voilà!


  • Ravelry Project Page: Stocking for Sebas
  • Pattern: Personalized Christmas Stocking
  • Yarn: Plymouth Galway (red, white & green) + other worsted scraps
  • Needles: US 6 (4mm) straights, US 7 (4.5mm) DPNs
  • Start to Finish: November 20 to December 2, 2021

I'm so excited to send it on its way today. And I don't ever want to knit another stocking like this again!


Little bits

Joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...


I got a start on the last (or maybe not)... the latest little bit of gnome knitting last night.


Those are all the pieces so far. I feel like that little bit of pink on the needles might be the start of a hat... but it's a mystery, y'know, so who knows!?!

Whatever it is and however this all turns out, I'm already sensing a DANDY Gnome!

This is really fun. I think fun & fiddly & mysterious is just what I need right now.

Don't worry, Hexie Love Actually will be getting plenty of love again once I catch up with gnome clues!


Listening to: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers.

The book on my nightstand has not been getting any love lately, but it's still: This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History.


What might it be?

I’ve knit a few small pieces for the Gnome MKAL (5 clues released so far and I have almost caught up), but this one…


…is adorable. I am just guessing, but I think/hope it might be some sort of satchel or bag. 😍 And if it’s a boy gnome, I am loving that I chose pink! 


Heavenly Hash

I cancelled next week's hotel reservation in Chicago. I briefly entertained the notion of not cancelling, but even a high floor at Sofitel wouldn't be balm enough.

Meanwhile, we're all rolling with the punches and moving on with holiday plans. For Kate, it means planning a holiday feast with her friends Blair & Judson (aka, Bludson), with everyone sharing their traditional holiday favorites. Thus, I had a request this morning for my mom's Heavenly Hash recipe; rare was the holiday table that this dish didn't appear, even if it was made the "day of" instead of begun the day before.


It is the world's most poorly written recipe card! One should not need to make notes such as "reserve juice," or to underline additional ingredients in the body of the recipe, or use asterisks to clarify directions. Not only are components missing from the list of ingredients, they aren't even in order!! GAH!

So I sent her the card, which she appreciated for the "archival quality" ("reserve juice" is in my hand, the larger note at the bottom is in my mom's, many spills and drips), but I also rewrote the recipe and sent it in a separate document. I'm sure it could still use some tweaking, but ohmylord, it is an improvement!

Heavenly Hash
(Begin to prepare a day ahead)

(1) #2 can pineapple chunks (20 oz.), reserve juice
½ lb. green grapes
½ lb. red grapes
½ c. mini marshmallows
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour (heaping)
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
½ c. water
(3) bananas
nuts (pecans), optional
1 pkg. Dream Whip

Cut pineapple chunks and grapes in half. Add to a bowl with marshmallows.

In a saucepan, bring reserved pineapple juice & sugar to a boil. Blend flour, cornstarch & water, and pour slowly into boiling juice & sugar. Cool. Pour over fruit & marshmallows. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, add bananas, nuts, and 1 cup whipped cream (prepared Dream Whip).


The best medicine

I had the three "big kids" overnight, and a few minutes with Davy, too. He's walking more than crawling now, and is so grown up! He's so expressive and everything is so exciting to him... it's a joy. AND, I got a real "kiss" last night (he leaned in, anyway, and if not quite puckering he knew what he'd get)!


Our main activity was coloring a big Christmas Train & Tree that I picked up on a whim yesterday at Target. You just never know with that kind of thing, but this definitely captured their interest!

Junah worked mainly on the train, while the girls & I were occupied by the tree.

And this afternoon, we/they decorated my actual tree! I think this will be the extent of it, though I might string up some of my mom's pearl garland.


We watched TV: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Paw Patrol, and Diarrhea of a Wimpy Kid (if you were to ask Junah).


And here's a picture of Ginny & Malina by Junah.  :)


Miles away

I was in the back yard this afternoon helping Rusty haul his table saw/table in & out and assisting with cutting some long pieces of wood -- inside storm windows for the Garden Room are underway! I had a moment while he "measured twice," and wandered over to my family locator sign.


It sure is getting weathered!

And it's official: Kate won't be traveling home for Christmas, which is the smart thing... but I'm still sad and mad and grumpy and pissed off at the world... and just one more reason to knit a gnome this month. Boo. Sights on April now, and later in summer for Maddy & Viv. Gotta run so I don't drown my keyboard...


Switching gears

Ooops, I did it again!


This is me choosing colors for another Mystery Gnome Knit-along: Leave Gnome Stone Unturned! I had fun making the last one (even with all that I-cord... which sure made a cool detail), and the KAL goes for a whole month. There's an email every day, but it doesn't always contain a clue. And, as you might recall, it's coming up on a year since I had Covid and knitting gnomes helped me get my groove back (in a bunch of ways). It just feels right.

I finally snagged an appointment for my booster! Sheesh. It wasn't easy, but I wasn't about to give up!



The Storyteller: Tales of Life and MusicThe Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved listening to Dave Grohl tell his tales! I'm not even particularly a fan of any of the bands he's been in, but he loves The Beatles... and that's pretty much where my love of music began, too. And he loves his family. And he's not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. And I admire all that. No doubt, I will listen to this again sometime.

View all my reviews

Next up: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. That's a 29-hour listen, so likely not a "finish" until 2022!


The Commonwealth of New Island

I had a few things to keep in mind as I planned our trip to the North Shore -- a weekend with no guests, work/teaching schedules -- but mostly, the opening of Rusty's New Island exhibit at the Trout Museum of Art in Appleton, WI, which he'd been pulling together for months.


This is an ongoing creative project that pulls together a lot of Rusty's interests -- maps, geography, beaches & sand, painting, drawing, architecture, storytelling, etc.

But it doesn't stop there. There's a culture & history, tourism & travel, artifacts & currency... there's even a flag.


I'm the Betsy Ross of New Island, having sewn that flag in 2005 for a summit of "Micronations" in New York City, which we attended. Well, Rusty attended -- I stopped in after hanging out with fellow knit-bloggers (the first time I'd traveled to do so, and Ann & I were just a few months into the Quit -- it's going on 17 years!  What a trip!).

I found an old review of that show wherein Rusty (Lee Mothes) is quoted just a paragraph or two away from YOKO ONO.

Anyway, the exhibit at The Trout is big.


It fills the entire mezzanine and there is a lot of work on display.

There are a few pieces for sale, but a lot of pieces borrowed from their owners, and many pieces that will just never be for sale.


There are sketchbooks and notebooks on display. And the "Roger" coin, the mold for which was made by another local artist, and which Rusty had minted (it's turned up in coin collecting publications).


Random Places.



And not so random.


One of THE COOLEST NEW THINGS about this exhibit is the addition of VIRTUAL REALITY!


I'm excited that the show is up until early February because I need to go back and experience all of it!

The process is fascinating!

For more on New Island, visit the website at and for other work