The Year of UFO’s

Yesterday I spent a lovely day with friends at the Cottage Hobby House in Anacortes.  It's a lovely little cottage that has been set up for sewers and other crafters.  Lots of space, wonderful light, ironing boards and irons, cutting tables and rulers, plus a little kitchenette.  Just within walking distance (or a short drive) of two fabric stores and a yarn shop.  We spent almost 12 hours laughing, eating, sewing, eating, visiting, eating – well, you get the picture:


During the day, one of my friends admitted to an embarassing number of UFO's (Unfinished Objects).  At first I felt a little self-righteous because I don't have anywhere near that number.  But then I realized that given the number I DO have, I have no reason to feel superior. So, I am declaring this year the year of UFO's.  I am going to commit to working on and finishing a number of them.  No real goals as to specifics, but a determination to visit some things that have been hibernating way too long.  Most of these are quilts, and many of them are quilt tops that just need to be quilted.  I've always been a hand quilter, but I'm taking a machine quilting class in February in hopes that I can at least tolerate it and get some of these tops done.

First up (simply because it was on top of the stack) – the Snowman Quilt:


I just have a few more small filler blocks to embroider and then it will be ready to piece.  Since most of the blocks are pre-quilted, this will be easy to machine quilt with just straight lines.

Never fear, though, that knitting will take a back seat.  Evenings are still my knitting times and I've gotten quite a bit accomplished.  I finished the second clue on the Enchanted Wood shawl:


I'm not entirely sure if I'm in love with the gradience – it looks a little sharper to me in person.  But I love the way the beads are coming out – they look like dew drops on the trees:


And I'm up to the plain knitting portion of Nagano:


Last Saturday we spent a Girls' Day Out with Abby.  We poked around the antique shops in Snohomish, visited Uajimaya – a big Asian supermarket.  I think Abby was in heaven and piled her cart high with things that she can't get at American supermarkets.  Some of it looked pretty tasty, but I think I'll pass on the dried squid (sorry, Abby, but that's just more for you!).  To cap off the day we took her to the Crab Pot in Bellevue.  The dinner she and I chose consists of crab legs, mussels, oysters, clams, fish, potatoes and corn on the cob in a big pot that they dump on your table.  Yummm!!


Believe me, there wasn't much left when we were done.

A Knitter’s Perogative

They say that it's a woman's perogative to change her mind.  If that woman is a knitter, it must go double!  Since my last post, several plans have changed.

First up is socks.  I started the Lacy Scallops, and as is often the case with my small, skinny feet, it was apparent from the get-go that these socks were just not going to work.  They were immediately frogged and I searched around for another pattern.  After auditioning a bunch, I settled on a tried and true.  Marguerite's basket weave ribbing socks.  Marguerite's socks are simple and well fitting.  And even though I have a lot of patterns in my personal sock-of-the-month-club, if they are not well fitting, they will not be knitted up.  So there!  Just a day or so after starting them, I was on a fabric shopping outing with my Round Robin group.  I was mentioning my sock knitting venture for the year and there were strong hints given that some of those socks could be gifted for birthdays.  These are probably the only three people on the face of the planet that I would knit for besides my immediate family, so I took the hint to heart.  The first recipient, Caroline, has a birthday coming up in February.  The socks I had already started won't fit her, so I started a new pair.  The yarn I chose has limited colors, but because the color runs are short, still reads as very busy.  I was a little frustrated trying to find something that the colors won't overwhelm until I remembered Nutkin.  It seems to bear up well under busy patterns, but is still rather impressive and fun to knit.  So – on the left, the basket weave socks and on the right Nutkin:


The basketweave socks are in Koigu PPM and the Nutkins are in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock.

Next up – Lusekofte.  I sat down to read the pattern and it is so convoluted!  I had expected that this would be patterned after an historical Norwegian knit, but I should have read closer.  It appears Knit Pick's aim is to take historical patterns and "update" them to make them more wearable.  I don't think this has been an improvement.  I started making note of all the changes I would make to the pattern, when it occurred to me I might as well change direction.  I dug out all of my Dale books and found one that makes my heart go pitter patter (whether in happiness, or trepidation, I'm not sure).  Nagano.  I've had this in my library forever and have occasionally taken it out and dreamed over it.  So now is the time.  Although, in looking at the charting, perhaps I should have my head examined!


But I have made progress – see?

This is my second attempt.  On the first attempt, I cast on for a Small.  My mind just couldn't wrap itself around the concept that I'm anything smaller, so I completely ignored the actual measurements.  It soon became apparent that Small is actually Huge.  So I frogged and am now making an XS.  I like their sizing – it's very flattering.

Last weekend Abby brought the girls up on Sunday because Ben had to work.  They went to church with us and it turned into quite an adventure.  Right in the middle of the sermon Mei-Mei looked up at me and said, "I'm going to scream!"  And she did.  It was just a quick, high pitched squeal, but it was enough to get everyone's (including the pastor's) attention.  Good thing she's so cute.  And speaking of cute:


Busy week this week – but haven't I said that before?  I keep waiting for things to slow down, but I'm not holding my breath.  I just have to keep reminding myself everything doesn't have to be done the first month of retirement.  Yesterday I was sitting down in the middle of the day knitting and trying to quell the feelings of guilt.  It seemed so decadent.  But I had to remind myself I'm making great headway on my organizing goals, fixing hubby a good home cooked meal every day and pretty much keeping up with all my other responsibilities.  I'm sure the feelings of guilt will go away very, very soon!

Spinning Nirvana II

As much as it's fun to spin with hundreds of spinners, it's also a boatload of fun to spin with just one.  This past weekend, hubby, Maggie and I headed down to Lorette's.  We were a little worried about how Maggie would get along with the dogs, but after a little posturing between Maggie and Riley over who was the alpha female, they got along just fine.  Riley and Maggie agreed to co-share the alpha bitch status and pretty much ignored each other.  Lewey, the only male, seemed a little befuddled and, like a typical male, was a little confused over how to win Maggie's heart.  He alternated between completely ignoring her and trying to knock her over.  Toward the end of the weekend, they were starting to play a little and I think given another day or two would have been chasing each other all over the house.  While the hubsters solved the weighty problems of the world (how does this label maker work??):


Lorette and I happily spun away.  I'm not sure if we look happy or a little insane:


I suppose it depends on who you ask.  John and Bill might have voted for the latter.  And, just for the record, chocolate martinis do not seem to have a detrimental effect on my spinning.  I have a few new bobbins spun up of a beautiful Romney from a local sheep named Rainbow.  It's such lovely fiber and it almost spins itself.  No pictures because I've been struggling with dark gloomy days – maybe next week.  I plan on having two bobbins spun up to take to the local spinning group for help with plying.  I think I'm going to splurge on a tensioned lazy kate.  My last two plying experiences were pretty miserable.

I do have my first finished FO of the year:


These are a generic top-down sock with a YO cable from Charlene Schurch's book.  The yarn is Araucania Ranco.  This is a lovely, lovely yarn – so smooth and squishy.  I decided to take some advice from the Yarn Harlot this year.  I have her page-a-day calendar and in it she suggested that rather than joining an expensive sock club, you make your own. Go through your sock stash and pick out 12 skeins of yarn (I KNOW we all have at least that much, or more!).  Pair it with 12 patterns you've been planning to knit and Voila!  Your own sock club.  Throw them in Ziploc bags and each month pull out a new one.  I now have 12 bags ready to go.  My plan is to close my eyes and pull out at random.  Next up will be Lacy Scallops socks using some Koigu PPM that's been in my stash since the Dark Ages.  That pattern has also been in my queue since then, so it's nice to finally pair them up.

I also finished the first clue in the Enchanted Wood Mystery Shawl.  WARNING:  Spoiler picture ahead:


Forgive the crappy picture – grey gloomy days are not providing much love for photographs and the flash washed it out.  So far this is proving to be fun.  So much so, that I am joining another Mystery Shawl KAL – this one the Evenstar Mystery Shawl KAL.  I figure since I'll be waiting for clues to come out, I can justify two shawls going at the same time.

Also in the mail this week – a box full o' yarn:


This will be the Knitpicks Norwegian Lusekofte sweater – for me!  My original intention was to do this for the Ravelympics – you know, the insanity where you commit to complete a project during the Olympics.  But the more I thought about it, the more I discarded that idea.  Retirement is all about lack of stress and the last thing I need to do is to stress myself out over knitting.  I may start on that tonight.

As I mentioned there are lots of grey, rainy, gloomy days here in the Pacific Northwest.  But I can't possibly complain.  I have an intact roof over my head, warmth, plenty of food and water and plenty of productive things to entertain me.  My heart is breaking for the people in Haiti.  If you haven't already, please donate to the organization of your choice.  Ours is the Red Cross, but Doctors Without Borders, World Vision and dozens of others are great ones as well.


Spinning Nirvana

Yesterday I went with a friend to a St.Distaff's Day spin-in.  There were probably about 150-200 spinners there and just about as many varieties of fiber.  It was complete sensory overload!  So much so, that although I took my camera, I didn't take  a single picture.  I was probably saved by the fact that most of the vendors were small and didn't take credit cards, so I had to stick to the cash I had on hand – probably a good idea in any situation.  But I did come home with some goodies:


Alpaca/silk and every bit as yummy as it looks.  This will definitely wait until my spinning skills improve a little.  I also bought a pretty little zebra wood wraps-per-inch measure:


I did get some very positive encouragement from fellow spinners who told me my first efforts were looking quite good.  Since coming home I plied my second skein.  This plying effort just about kicked my butt, with tangling and backspinning, but I learned a lot and by the last 1/4 of the skein was doing much, much better.  It is drying now and I'll post pictures later.

I also came home to some packages in the mail.  Ben & Abby gave me a gift certificate to Paradise Fibers. I was a little overwhelmed at all the choices on the website, but finally just dived in and made my choices.  They have terrific customer service.  I ordered on Thursday and the package arrived on Saturday, and that included a holiday in between!


The two fibers on the left are variegated Merino top, the pink is Louet Corriedale.  Thank you Ben & Abby!   I think I am all set for fiber for a good long time now and will probably save up my fiber money for the big spin-in that is here on Whidbey Island in April.  Well, except for some Romney that I may buy from my friend here who raises sheep.  How can you resist fiber from a sheep named Rainbow?

Lest you think knitting has totally taken a backseat, I have been knitting and blocking lace.  First off, the Creideamh Shawl is finished:


This is a big shawl – so big I can't get it all in the picture.  Stats:  Creideamh Shawl by Renee Leverington.  Yarn, Miss Babs Yearning in Sandstone, Knitpicks Harmony needles – size 4.

Also finished and blocked – Sue's Swallowtail Shawl:


Stats:  Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clarke, yarn – mystery lace yarn from my stash, needles Knitpicks Harmony, size 3.

And, a new pair of socks started with some beautiful teal Araucania Ranco:


And a Happy Anniversary to my parents who celebrated their 62nd (is that right Mom & Dad??) anniversary yesterday.  What a blessing it was to grow up with parents who showed me what a marriage should be.  I never saw them treat each other with anything but love, kindness and respect.  I'm sure they must have had their struggles like the rest of us, but after 62 years, theirs is still a love story.  Love you guys!!  Edited to add:  My Dad informs me it's 63 years!  I made the error of doing my math using 2009.  Yes, it is 2010 now – wow!