Off She Goes

Well, here it is – the concentrated work of the last two and a half months. This is my Level 1 of the Masters Knitters Certification off to be reviewed.

I do say reviewed rather than judged. My understanding is that the committee are not looking to ding you for every little thing, but to comment in such a way that you become a better knitter. I fully do not expect to pass on the first go-round. Hardly anyone does, but hope that the do-overs will be few. There is a bit of angst, and truth be told, a little bit of nausea in letting this go. It’s like putting your heart and soul out there on the line!

Here is the project for Level 1 – a mitten.

That cuff was a killer! I think I did it about four times before I was satisfied.

Now I need to figure out what to do with myself. This has been pretty much all consuming. I did find time for a little pleasure knitting and am working on a cardigan for myself.

The beauty of knitting top down is that you can try on as you go. Ignore the flaring at the bottom; that’s just the cable that’s holding the stitches.

I also made Abby a pair of birthday socks, but forgot to take a picture of them. I really need to finish up my Christmas knitting. I’m done with the major part and just have fiddly finishing stuff to do. It’s probably not wise to save that until a day or two before Christmas.

In other news – over the years we’ve been the recipients of Ben’s hand-me-downs, usually in the form of iPhones. Whenever he got the newest model, we would get his old one. Sadly, they have transitioned to Android phones and we have not, but he made up for it by upping his game. Here is the latest:

Yes, that is a Tesla Model S. It has been his baby for the last four years and when he ordered a new one, he wanted us to have this. This is something we never ever could have considered under normal circumstances and we are gobsmacked by his and Abby’s generosity! It is a dream to drive and we are having fun researching and learning all the features. Bill says it’s like driving the Starship Enterprise! We even have cute little his and hers key fobs.

The car even recognizes them and will adjust all the settings (seat, mirrors, etc.) accordingly. Fancy! The one thing we are dealing with is “range anxiety.” Because it’s all electric, you can’t just pull into any gas station. But since 99% of our driving is within a full charge we should be fine. And as more charging stations are installed, our range should increase.

Next week I’m off to visit my parents in Missouri. This is the second time we’ve visited since the flood. They’ve settled in very comfortably into their new place and the people who now have their old place have started reconstruction. I’m anxious to see that. It was so sad last time we saw it. Not sure if I’ll have any internet connection while we’re there, but I’ll blog if I can.

Family Photos

Ok, so I’m going to try out blogging from my iPad. If that’s a go, I’m sure I will be posting a lot more.

About once a year we’ve had the tradition of having family photos taken by friends of Ben and Abby. They always do such a great job of capturing personalities and this year was no exception. We got back about 75 photos, but I won’t inundate you with them all. Here are some of my favorites:

One of the fun things about transferring over to WordPress was going back over my posts just to double check that all the important stuff transferred over. It was so fun to read about meeting Abby for the first time and about the births of the granddaughters.

Good times!

Call Me Crazy Redux

Call Me Crazy, Part II

Hmm – it seems to be a recurring theme, doesn’t it? I think a lot of my non-knitting friends (and maybe even a few of the knitting ones) have considered me a little crazy because I really do like to knit with teeny tiny yarn on itty bitty needles. But I’m pretty sure many will think I’ve finally jumped the shark. On a whim (scary, how that happens), I have enrolled in the Master Hand Knitting Program with the Knitting Guild Association. This is in three levels, with Level I allowing one year for completion, Level 2, eighteen months and Level 3, a full two years. So why, you may ask, do I want to do this?

Other than the obvious “personal satisfaction” answer, there are several reasons. One is that I want to prove to myself that I can continue to do something hard. At this time of life, it’s easy to just settle back and coast, but I don’t want to do that. Another reason is to become a better knitter. Now, I know, I am constantly told by people that I’m the best knitter they know and I have a whole box of blue ribbons to prove it. But I’m realizing that after over 50 years of knitting, I can still improve and I can still learn things. One of the candidates for the program related that she received her first Level back with several items that she had to do over and resubmit. She was so angry she shoved it in a closet for a month. She fumed because she was one of those “best knitters”, had won all sorts of ribbons at fairs and who did these people think they where? But then she realized they were right. She was resting on her laurels and expecting to get by on reputation alone – and she had gotten sloppy.

Level I really goes back to the basics and already I’m learning better ways of doing things. There is a ton of book work on this – it’s not all knitting. You basically have to write a short term paper (with citations) on blocking and every technique you show has to have at least two references.

Here are my beginning swatches:

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One of the first things I learned in the program was how to properly measure gauge. Ah, gauge – the knitter’s nemesis. I’ve heard all the reasons behind not doing a gauge or skimping by with a small one, including the statement, “Gauge lies.” Well, I’m learning why it lies and it’s because knitters aren’t taking the time to do a large enough swatch, block and then even wait a few days to let the swatch settle in a little. I’m doing a knit-along for a sweater and it really is a little frustrating to have days worth of work before you can even start the sweater. But I also know that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I have a stack of sweaters that I don’t wear because I don’t like the fit, so I’m willing to give it a shot. We will basically be designing our own sweater and not following a pattern. Here is my yarn:

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And here are my gauge swatches:

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I know – wordy post and not a lot of pictures, but my knitting nerd friends will probably enjoy it.  For the rest of you – hubby and I celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary on Sunday. We went out for a nice dinner at Callen’s by the Port Townsend ferry dock. So much fun to sit and watch the sunset and the ferry come in. And the food is outstanding! I highly recommend it to all locals.

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Blocking Block

Well, it's only been about 5 months since my last post, so I suppose I'm getting a little better! Yesterday I decided I needed to inventory my shawls. I really, really love making them, but I have so many and can't possibly wear them all, so I wanted to see which ones I could put aside to use as gifts, prayer shawls, etc. Not only did I discover a lot of finished shawls, to my dismay I discovered a whole pile that had never been blocked!

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That's not actually the whole pile – I had blocked two of them before the picture was taken. To the uninitiated, blocking is what takes what looks like a crumpled pile of dental floss and turns it into something magical and ethereal. However, it also involves crawling around on the floor with a gazillion T-pins and your knees screaming for mercy! Also, since the only place I have large enough to do this is on the floor by Bill's side of the bed, it needs to be accomplished first thing in the morning so it's dry by bedtime. Don't want him getting up in the middle of the night and impaling himself on T-pins!

Here are my most recent efforts. The first is Rapunzel, a Mystery Knit-a-Long from the Unique Sheep:

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The subtle shades of tonal pink don't show up well in this photo, along with the almost 1,000 beads. The beads give it such a beautiful sparkle and weight and the silk yarn is delicious. It was a little slippery to knit with, but well worth the effort!

The second is another Unique Sheep Knit-a-Long, this one from (gasp!) two years ago. This is The Velveteen Rabbit (their mysteries are based on children's books):

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This also has beads, although not quite as many. The yarn is also a little heavier weight, but still lacy and lovely!

This is not to say that quilting has taken a back seat. I finished the top of my tulip quilt:

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The pattern is Loopy Tulips by Jaimie Davis. I haven't yet decided whether to hand or machine quilt. I would love to hand quilt it, but my hands are not as cooperative as they used to be.

I also finished the center on my Bed of Roses quilt. This pattern is by the super talented appliqué artist Sue Garman, who sadly passed away recently.

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I will almost certainly hand quilt this one. The border is all done, except for the corners and I hope to have them done in a week or so.

After my back surgery I was cleared to run by my doctor, but he said to listen to my body and if something hurt, not to do it. I did try running, but I got some twinges of nerve pain down my leg that really scared me. So I decided to stick to walking. I'll certainly get there, just not as fast! To keep myself motivated I joined a virtual race at Yes Fit. You pick a race, pick a prize and then pay a small fee. When you finish the race, you get your prize. The long races were the same price as the short ones, so it seemed cost effective to go with a long one. I joined the appropriately named Tortoise Creep – 155.1 miles (why the .1, I don't know). It took me close to a year, but I finished last week. I still averaged out at about 2 miles per day, which is not too shabby! My prize came this week:

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I'll leave you with some photos I took of the granddaughters here at home and on our trip to Mt. St. Helens last week. We stayed at an Air BnB that had a built in menagerie and the girls were in heaven. They are indeed getting grown up. Isobel is now a teenager and Ivy will turn 11 in just a few days. Oh, and one of Maggie for good measure.

A view of Mt. St. Helens from the observatory deck.

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Call Me Crazy

When I first started my blog, it was mainly a knitting blog and I met many new friends this way. I remember at first it was a little scary and when I headed off to meet one of them in person (Hi Li!) my friends thought I was a little crazy. I told them it was improbable that an axe murderer was going to arrange to meet a middle aged woman in a yarn store!  Fast forward fourteen years (yes, I've been blogging that long!!) and the blog has morphed into other areas as well – music and quilting and I'm sure lately my knitting friends have wondered if I've abandoned knitting altogether. Never fear. Like many things in my life, I go in cycles and knitting is starting to make a comeback.

One of the reasons I haven't been knitting much is the lack of a project that really intrigued me. I was working on a Jared Flood afghan and while perfectly lovely, it was the same thing over and over and over.

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It got to the point where I'd rather poke a knitting needle in my eye than work on it. While wandering around on Ravelry I found the pattern for A Celtic Quilt 2 and I was smitten! Not only are there multiple different designs, but they are smaller squares that are not sewn together, but attached with a 3 needle bind off. So here's the crazy part – I frogged the other afghan. I know, non-knitters are probably aghast at the "waste" of all that time knitting on it. But I think knitters will agree that there's no point slogging along on a project you hate when you could be doing something much more fun. So far I have 3 squares done.

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The middle photo is the most accurate for color. Oh, and I may have cast on a couple of Dee O'Keefe shawls too.

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The first is Anisah and the second is Katania. I have to admit Katania is a little boring, but between my husband and friend having cataract surgery, I've spent a lot of time sitting in doctors' offices waiting and it does pass the time.

A couple of quilts have made it off the UFO pile, too. The first is a quilt requested by hubby to hang over his computer desk. The pattern is Drunkard's Path (his choice!), but I think the dark patches look like birds. I quilted the light squares to look like airplane props with the wind flowing around them, so I've named it "Air Birds."

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The other is a quilt made with my Round Robin group. One of the ladies brought back fabric from Alaska for each of us. Mine was a batik with grizzly bears, so I set them in a Bear's Paw block for the centers and the other members added the rest of the borders. The last border has the constellation with the bear in the sky, so I have named this one "Ursa Major." I especially like the pink salmon swimming upstream. I couldn't figure out how to bind it with the stark difference in colors, so I faced it instead. It's the first time I've done this and will use this technique again.

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To combat all the hours spent sitting and sewing/knitting, I've been trying to get out more and have done a couple of hikes with Abby. The first really challenged me – it was a 5 mile "moderate" hike (although for me it was more like "difficult") and the second was truly an easy two mile stroll with the grandkids.

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That's it for now. I think I may take some time this week and go back over my blog starting from the beginning. It's so funny to think that when I started it, we hadn't even met Abby yet! So much has happened and it will be fun taking a trip down memory lane. Ta ta for now!

 

 

UFO’s

No, not Unidentified Flying Objects – but Unfinished Objects. In the knitting and quilting world, this is a very real thing, as most of us have lots of unfinished projects lying around. Projects that were much loved when they were begun, but have been laid aside when we get bored or the latest new shiny thing comes around. One of the comments I get most about my needlework is, "Oh, you have so much patience!" Actually I don't, and I don't know anyone in my circle of needle crafters who does. We are the least patient people in the world and are constantly on the look out for something to assuage boredom.

Each year our quilt guild sponsors a UFO Challenge. You list at least 8 projects that need to be finished or at least taken to the next stage. For instance, you might list finishing the piecing on a quilt. The reason they do it this way is to make things fair for those of us who do all our own piecing and quilting versus those who piece only and send their tops out to be quilted by someone else. At the end of the year, if you finish your list, you get a prize and entered into a drawing for a grand prize. Last year, I not only finished and got my prize, I got the grand prize! Linda and Donna, the sponsors, will quilt a quilt for me on their long arm.

I debated about entering this year. It does put some minor pressure on me and there were times when I wanted to work on something else, but felt obligated to work on my UFO list. But, I decided the worst thing that can happen is I don't finish the list and no puppies will die. So, for the record, here is my list:

1.Quilt and bind Retro Ribbons

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2.Quilt and bind Air Birds (see photo below)

3.Quilt and bind Ursa Major

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3.Finish applique on Tulip Quilt (see photos below)

4.Piece a Community Quilt from 2 1/2" scraps

5.Quilt and bind Dog Quilt

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6.Finish piecing Smooth Sailing

7. Finish piecing Rhapsody

Right now I'm concentrating on Air Birds and the Tulip Quilt. Last year Bill had asked me to make him a quilt to hang by his computer desk. He picked out the pattern and colors. As I started hand quilting it, I was trying to decide on a design for the large open areas. Together with Bill we came up with this design that looks like an airplane prop with the wind swirling around it.

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Then, I noticed that the darker pieces looked like birds! So I've decided the name of this quilt will be "Air Birds".

Today I'm prepping lots and lots of leaves for the borders of the Tulip Quilt. This is the last of 416 leaves!

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I can really see the light at the end of the tunnel on this one. All of the squares and setting triangles are done and just the borders are left.

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Late last month we took the granddaughters to Snow Camp. We had to miss it last year because of my back surgery, so it was really special to be able to go this year. I did some cross country skiing with Isobel, but after falling four times decided I was pushing my luck. Next year I will do snow shoeing instead. Although Ivy ( and she now prefers to be called Ivy rather than Mei-Mei) did play in the snow, she seemed perfectly content to laze around by the fire and joined in our knitting class. She perfected what we referred to as yoga knitting.

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A little cold today, but finally we have some sun! It's the first sunny day we've had in almost a month – and so much rain we have a lake in our backyard and across our driveway. However, I'm not complaining. We don't have to shovel it, and by  next week I expect to have daffodils blooming!

 

 

Success!

Today I put the finishing touches on my fabric reorganization! There are still a few odds and ends to take care of, but most of the heavy lifting is done. Before:

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After:

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I didn't take a "before" picture of the bins, but odds and ends of smaller fabrics were crammed in there and now they're neatly cut into 5" and 10" squares:

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And I can actually get to my machines:

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I'm already reaping the benefits of being a little more organized. Last week hubby bought a backpack at the thrift shop, but didn't like the logo that was on it. He asked me to embroider a WSU logo. Formerly I would have put him off because it would have taken me at least an hour to find my supplies and uncover the machine. As it was, the whole project took just a little less than an hour and he had a great backpack for $2.99.

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Other than that project, I haven't been doing any sewing because I've been too busy organizing, but am hoping to get back in the saddle next week. In the new year I do need to start looking at some projects that will use up my 2" strips. I ended up with a lot more of them than I expected!

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I'm sure I'll be able to talk Mei-Mei into coming up and helping me with that. 

This past weekend we took our annual trip to Tall Timber Snow Camp with our church. We missed it last year because of my back surgery, so the girls were very happy that we got to go this year. There was lots and lots of snow, but fortunately the roads were fairly clear.

Isobel and I did some cross country skiing, but I think this may be my last year of that. I fell four times and felt pretty banged up by Monday. Next year I think I'll do snow shoes instead!

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Mei-Mei played a little in the snow, but for the most part felt content to stay inside the warm lodge. I taught knitting classes and she brushed up on her skills and perfected what we referred to as "yoga knitting."

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On the way home we were greeted by a beautiful rainbow on the ferry.

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Right before we left, Bill took delivery of his new classic car – this time a truck! It's a 1972 Datsun pickup. It was pretty funky from being carried on an open transport from Texas, so the first order of the day on Monday was a bath.

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I had mentioned before that I was reaching the end of a longterm project – Aunt Gracie's Garden (pattern by Cynthia Regone). At our last guild meeting I was lucky to be able to display it on a quilt rack and get a good picture. The colors are a little bit washed out, but here it is – and I love it!!

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Right now we have a down comforter on our bed, but I can't wait until spring to be able to use this instead.