UFO Sister- and Brotherhood

Aliens? No. Not that kind of UFO. There is, sadly, no abduction involved. Though sometimes I feel like my ever increasing stash of wool might carry me off.

Last time I talked about giving myself permission to have more than one project going at the same time. And I’ve done it—gotten over my head in projects. And as I look around at these works in progress (WIPs), I feel a little weighed down. It is as if they are all staring down at me saying, “Do you really think you’ll get back to me?”

If it isn’t obvious, I’m a perfectionist. Everyone that knows me, knows this is true. Whether I’m preparing a lecture or I’m knitting a pair of socks, I can literarily give myself an ulcer worrying if it isn’t just so. And this is, by and large, the only source of unhappiness for me, given my life is busy, full, and downright good!

Body image, learning new skills, investment for retirement, these are all sources of my endless frustration of coming up short of an unrealistic ideal—heaven forbid I read the news! And Nick, my dearest love, even posted a photo of me and my parents (the Joneses) with the tagline “Are you keeping up?” for most people that wouldn’t be an accusation. For me…? Hmm.

Unless it is a competition to have more WIPs than anyone else, I’m just keeping my head above water. And you know? I like it that way. That jolt of tension? It’s a good thing.

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My little surprise of joy today was finding that I’m just a couple of inches of easy knitting away from Nick having another pair of socks. The trip to Santa Fe with my parents, well, I must have gotten in more knitting time than I remember. If all goes well, he’ll be taking two pairs of my “lurid” hand knit hoof covers on his UK trip to “inspect” Margaret and Peter (his parents).

And with a glass of house Chardonnay from the Lower Tavern—I raise my glass in a toast to all of you with UFOs (unfinished objects) of all crafts and kinds.

Bring on the Spring!

I’ve been off on work travels for 2 1/2 weeks in India and I fell love (all over again) with the clothes, colors and food. Since getting back, I’ve been missing the sun and heat of Bengaluru and Chennai.  With all the dark, cool, and rainy PNW, I’ve never struggled so much to get over my jetlag.

The taste of sunshine and bright colors has made me impatient for Spring. Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled with Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of a long winter.

To counteract this unfortunate prediction, I went yarn shopping for spring colors–many of which were on close out (yay!). To chase away the pacific northwest gray days, I arranged them as a spring flower and a Japanese maple.

 

Now if only I could find time to knit!

How are you planning to get through the long winter?

Fabulous, Fully-Fashioned, Fitted, Fuchsia Funnelneck

Let’s face it, the original is hard to improve on. Stefanie Japel’s Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest is an awesome pattern. And I’ve made it before and received compliments. So why mess with perfection? Because I’m not perfect and neither is my shape!

I’m a bit crane-necked, small breasted and a bit hippy (or as the lady at the Eddie Bauer store selling jeans says, “Your style is ‘Curvy’”). I also feel that while the Bernat Panama yarn is true to gauge in the stockinette, the ribbing always felt a bit looser than I’d hoped in some places on the previous garment.

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I cast on 96 stitches (extra small is 108 sts) to narrow the neck and only bound off 3 sts each side for the start of the armholes. They I increased following the directions until I was following the pattern for a medium size in the bust (I just kept doing increases until I hit 192 sts). From there I followed the direction (excepting some reductions I hid in the back shaping as I narrowed towards the waist (12 sts) to get it back to size small for the waist (180 sts).

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Pre-blocked, but still looking great!

From there the shaping was done more subtlety—with needle decreases and increases. I knit as directed with the “smaller” needles and then dropped a needle size in the garment just above my natural waist and knit for 1 inch. I switched to the needle requested for 2 inches then increased needle size every two inches after to widen the bottom of the garment it.

And voila! Pleased with self.

The Commute from Heaven?

I have my challenges working a more than fulltime job in the city and living on an island. I don’t commute every day (which would be about 3-4 hours each way), I mainly just go home for three days and stay in the city for four days. If the internet was decent (a gripe for a different day) I would probably only go to the mainland for 24-to-48 hours at most and probably not every week. But it’s terrible—and that’s being generous.

This summer one of the Washington State Ferries, our newest, the Samish, had one of the two engines fail (they have for each direction). As a result, more than once, I got left high and dry with my reservation cancelled making everyone a standby passenger. 2560px-mv_samish_arriving_in_anacortes

And after watching my favorite airline, Kenmore Air, ferry the rich and famous off the island while I roasted in the standby lane at the ferry terminal for the second unexpected time in a month, this week I opted in for a treat—that’s right—to fly rather than drive. It’s about a 45-minute flight from South Lake Union in Seattle, though I used to travel via their headquarters in Kenmore. But since Kenmore Air always flies to Seattle to pick up passengers, there just isn’t a reason to drive 30 miles before getting on the plane. Besides, this week the hubby was already implanted, so he could pick me up at West Sound.

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Kenmore Air landing at West Sound on Orcas Island

It was a foggy day, and unlike usual, I didn’t get to ride shotgun (a benefit of starting in Kenmore) so I didn’t get much of a view, but I did get some knitting done on my latest lurid pink version of Stefanie Japel’s Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest

More on that to come…

A Day Without a Night – A Night Without a Day

Most people will not get the reference the title makes to the movie Ladyhawke where a solar eclipse breaks the curse of two lovers, played by Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer, locked apart from one another unless they see each other during this celestial event.

My husband and I, like so many others seeking the path of totality for the eclipse, converged on various, mostly remote places to view the sun overtake the moon in the day and enter twilight. And while total eclipses happen every single year, I’ve been anticipating this one because it was so close and would be my first viewing of a total eclipse.

It was an amazing couple of hours—starting just after 9:05AM and lasting until after 11:15AM. Totality lasting ~1:38 minutes and in that short time birds cried, newts surfaced on the pond, and there was a general sense of trepidation.

I’ll admit that before this week I did not know there was a Willamina, Oregon or a Huddleston Pond Park, but I must say I’ll never be able to forget the place. Such nice people, mostly locals. “Park over here.” “Get ready everyone!” Cheering at the totality. They were half the fun! Luckily, we had extra ISO certified glasses so we handed them out to those without so we felt like we gave back a bit of their generosity.

But rather than talk, let me show you, …

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Total eclipse with 6X Filter
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The corona with a 2X filter
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Shadows cast by the leaves after the sun emerged from the other side of the moon

 

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A newt!

 

I Love Your Sweater!

Ah….

Music to a knitter’s ears.

Especially when you can come back with “I made it!”

Perhaps now is NOT the time to knit that ski sweater I’ve got my eye on. I’ve even knitted the swatch for a Slopes Pullover from the cover of KnitScene Winter 2016. But now, after hearing this sweater compliment when I checked into my hotel in DC, I’m thinking, ‘Why am I knitting a ski sweater and more woolen socks?’ and ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to work on a nice cotton yarn?’

I’d reknit this “Perfect Periwinkle” sweater  by Stefanie Japel in a heartbeat now! Maybe even using a purple yarn like the fuchsia Bernat Panama Worsted Weight cotton I have in my stash.

And maybe I’ll make up my own cardigan pattern to go with it or modify her Off-Rib Cardigan to make it match. 😊

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Stefanie Japel’s Off-Rib Cardigan

Idle Hands

It was it a lazy weekend. I was really sick the week before and I was really trying to get well. I’ve got another pair of socks on the needles, but what was I doing? Looking up the cost of apartments in a couple of the buildings we saw getting renovated in Florence. And surprisingly, they were affordable. In fact it is cheaper to buy a place there than Seattle—by half! And I’m talking about walking distance to the Duomo with a view of the Arno. Of course many of them are centuries old and need some work…

Okay. Enough shillyshallying and daydreaming. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

 

Contentment

You know when someone tells you “That was one of the best days of my life?” Yeah. This was this day.

This is me, in Florence, Italy sitting in a wine bar with a balcony over the Arno river and I’m looking at the Ponte Vecchio. I’ve had the perfect amount of food and drink and I wishing this moment would never end.

I cannot believe it took me so long to get to Italy.

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What’s your best day?

The Surprises of Milan

Most people think of Milan is the “industrial” capital of Italy and they wouldn’t be wrong, The Italian headquarters for my company along with many other US-based tech firms is based there. And while I did manage to avoid “going to work” out of curiosity, I did see a great deal of what makes the city amazing–sites and fabrics.

I’m going to focus on sites first. And then show a few fabrics next time (need photos).

What was sorely lacking from the trip was knit shops and while I found a few here and there, they were either difficult to find, or yarn wasn’t their primary business so I left Italy (happily for my husband) with only the yarn I brought with me–which was, as usual for vacation–more than I needed.

Any vacation plans? Do they include knitting?

 

Socked In: Knitting on the Road

I’m beat today. I’ve been on the road for a week and a half and still have a few more days to go on my trip—a full two weeks in transit.

What I’m most embarrassed about is my lack of knitting. I did knit waiting for planes and sitting on them, but when I was at my destinations (DC, Columbus, Amherst and Calgary), I simply couldn’t muster the energy. So my progress on my socks has been quite slow. Perhaps if I’d spent more time knitting than shoe shopping and real key lime pie eating, I’d have gotten farther.

I’m using Socktacular by KnitPicks book as a pattern. And though it was a bit less convenient for travel, it was so worth it to bring it along because there are so many fun choices to make. After much dithering, I selected top-down, afterthought heels with standard toe with a moss rib style.

Because it is a first pair in a long time and the second pair ever, I chose to use a “free” yarn that was gifted to me by the San Juan Fiber Guild,Zitron Trekking XXL Farbenspiel. This way I could experiment on the socks, make whatever errors I might and not care about the cost.

I’m making a one-day stop at home to get a few fresh clothes—but leave again this afternoon. Still I had enough time to drive out to Carnation, WA and get to Tolt Yarn and Wool for a bit of retail therapy. The socks that will come from these Shades of Earth, Dyed in the Wool by Spincycle Yarns in Bellingham, WA will be quite a bit more precious.