On Vacation

Finally.

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It is Thursday. My last day of work was Friday. We have this week off, and thank goodness for that. I’ve been driving all over the east coast. And I’ve very glad we did – we saw family for Christmas Eve and Christmas. The photo above is Scout the Dog on Christmas morning, exhausted from paper shredding. We saw more family on Christmas day and even MORE family the following two days. I’ve spent more time in the car than I can remember in recent memory and it was all totally worth it. But I woke up this morning with some sniffles and had to bag my last planned visit. I didn’t think visiting a friend and her 8 month old sick baby while sick was the smartest thing. So I parked myself here.

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And here I’ll stay for at least a little while. There is the sleeve I’m working on and I’m nearing the point of decision. Cross your fingers. I’m finally on vacation…

My Only Christmas Knitting

Now that Christmas is over and presents are delivered, I can show you want I was working on. I had wanted to make these mittens for a while, and this was a good excuse. My mother-in-law got these mittens wrapped up on Christmas.

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The pattern is “Winterland/Vinterland” and the yarn was Satakieli. I’ve used this yarn for mittens before and am madly in love with it. Not the softest thing, but pretty soft, felts great, VERY warm.

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I’m really excited with how they came out. Perfect fit, blocked really nicely, and they’re just darn cute. I liked how there was a different scene on each one – a church on one and a cozy house on the other.

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I’m not a big fan of the corrugated ribbing that the pattern calls for, so instead I did two Latvian braids bordering a cuff with, on one mitten her initials and the other the year (2011).

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So there you go, that’s the extent of it. I do have a sleeve and a body of a sweater, and the second sleeve started. I’m about 50% sure the body is all wrong and will be ripped back so while I remain in denial of that, I’m going to continue with the second sleeve, which is fine. Eventually I’ll come to grips and decide about the body. But until the sleeve is finished I can live in denial here. Oh joy.

Happy Knitting and Post Christmas Coma!

Cooooooooooooooookies!

I have really few excuses besides my recent project being a gift and therefore not blog-able, and then just being plain old boring. But here are some thoughts.

Once again, there was the annual cookie baking party.

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This year there was the addition of silly hats.

This:
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turned into this (We think 800+ again. We lost count…):

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Which turned me into this:

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and it took two beers and crying uncle before we started the meringues before any semblance of sanity returned. I think the meringues would have put us right over the edge.

But work folk seemed to love them, any excuse to gather and eat cookies and drink coffee instead of working! And last night the gifts got wrapped, I got my nails painted a shiny sparkly gold, and today was my last day of work this year. So things are looking good! Hopefully it’ll be a crafty, blog-filled break! But in the meanwhile, enjoy your Friday night and Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Festivus, to the rest!

What do you look like?

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Once upon a time, about 5.5 years ago, I was catless. I was going to get some kittens, but my uncle had two cats that they couldn’t house due to moving into a small apartment with 2 dogs, 2 kids and themselves. 2 cats would be pushing it. So I said we’d take them for a bit, until they found a house. When we first saw them, Ollie and Scooter were about 8 or 9 years old. They, at first glance, were, well, this sounds bad, but they weren’t cute. Ollie had a distinctive face, I’m not sure what it was about him, but he just looked… not cute. And Scooter, well she’s neurotic and her stress was showing. And so we decided that once they found a house, Uncle would take back his cats and we’d get cute baby kittens who would be cute. And just like you see that beautiful woman with the not so beautiful man (or vice versa) and wonder what does she see in them, we fell in love with the ugly cats. And they weren’t ugly anymore. They were perfect, adorable, beautiful cats. We’d call each other in to look at how cute Ollie was looking, just sleeping. And like any other people with cats they love and no kids, we took pictures and movies of our cats. (Shut up. You would too.) And every time, I’d look at the photos and think “that just doesn’t look like Ollie” or “Scooter didn’t look like that?!” In the pictures, they’re just the ugly cats we picked up from the my uncle and were planning on handing back. There was something about Ollie’s personality that was not possible to capture, or was at least very difficult to capture, on camera. I always found this somewhat profound and took it as evidence that there is such a thing as a soul and it is not a visible thing, it is a presence thing. There is something about someone that you ‘see’ that has nothing to do with the actual physical shape of the being, which is what a camera captures (at least if you’re an amateur photographer like myself).

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This is coming to mind as I take my photo a day. I look in the mirror and think, yep, you look fine, where is that clicker. And somehow, when I take the picture, I don’t look like what I saw in the mirror. I’m paler, my eyes look more tired, my face isn’t even the same shape. I look in the mirror again and I don’t see the same person I just took a photo of. And it’s not ‘the camera ads 10 pounds’ type of thing, I am often surprised at what I look like in photos. I recognize it as me only because I know I was there and posing at the time, but it doesn’t look like what I think I see when I look in a mirror.

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Is this a common thing? I can’t be the only one who has come across this. I said I thought I’d learn some things while doing this self portrait project. I guess this is the first thing that’s made me think, aside from the fact that I’ve re-learned not to take a photo with the camera below eye-level lest your middle be… accentuated. So what do I look like to other people? Do they see the person in the mirror? Do they see what the photo shows? Do they see something entirely different? It’ like when you meet a set of twins, you can’t tell them apart for your life. After you know them both, you can’t understand why they are mistaken for each other. Are you really learning where each freckle is on each face, or are you seeing the person instead of the body?

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Just a thought.

Valiant Effort

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It’s not feeling very Christmas-y around here. Not for lack of trying, we have the party lights up, I’ve been trying to jam to Christmas music, we watched Christmas movies last weekend. I think because I’ve gotten so very good at avoiding all the Christmas stuff that starts around here in the beginning of November, I’m having a hard time switching gears. I always loved loved Christmas growing up. It was by far the best holiday, and not because I liked getting presents. There are so many traditions and familiar things and pretty twinkly lights that it’s just a warm and cozy time of year. But it has a time limit and if I start it in November, by the time it actually is Christmas, I’m so over it.

But this weekend we’re getting our tree, which will get all kinds of twinkly lights and ornaments I’ve been collecting, and hopefully it will feel ‘right’ by the end of the weekend. Notice how I’ve made a valiant effort to start it right with the tree-smelling candle, the candy canes and the red and green m&m’s. If that isn’t Christmas then I don’t know what to do!

And see that? That’s a weeks worth of knitting. I started this on Monday and it was addicting. The other side is adorable, I can’t show it to you yet, but trust me, it’s the kind of thing that makes one more row turn into one more row, then just one more… rinse and repeat for hours. Having a great time with that. The simple sweater needs a simple decision of whether to knit the arms then attach and proceed, or provisionally cast on arms and proceed. This simple decision has paralyzed the simple sweater and I’m choosing to go around and around on one more row until there aren’t and I actually have to make some sort of decision.

Happy weekend!

200 Fair Isle Motifs…

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Swoon. I love fair isle – I love knitting it, I love the way it looks, I love the shetland yarn, I just love it. I have several pattern books, and truly, as far as patterns go, I need not one single other book. I have Sheila McGregor’s Fair Isle Knitting book, and her Scandinavian Knitting book, which covers patterns, history, etc. pretty thoroughly. The thing I have trouble with is making those dots and blanks into colors without creating clown barf or something that just doesn’t work for lack of contrast. I mean I can do it, but it has always been hit or miss or pretty directly copied from someone less color-matching-impared than myself.

Enter Kate Davies (again) to the rescue. I love Kate’s blog for her photography, thorough and well written posts on history, knitting, craft, and travel. Also, her patterns are fantastic. And she is a Shetland-a-holic. Recently she posted about her wool week travels, and if you scroll down (well, and read of course) you’ll come across a photo of a table covered in fair isle samples used in the new book by Mary Jane Mucklestone, 200 Fair Isle Motifs. OMG. From that photo I needed that book. I have all of those patterns charted out, I am certain, already in the books I own. But the COLORS! They MATCH! In a way that I LOVE and that is far more modern and interesting than I’ve seen put together before.

So of course I tried in futile resistance, telling myself, come on, Kate, you don’t need another book about knitting, even less do you need another about color work. However one trip to the bookstore where it was available to thumb through was enough to break that. Needless to say it is now in my bookcase. And I love it.

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Color theory is explained more clearly than I’ve seen done before, and more thorough instructions on exactly how to put them together for fair isle patterns. And in great contrast to my usual ‘I like all of these colors so clearly they must go together… (knit, knit, knit) … umm, clearly these colors do not go together.’ It makes SENSE!

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And even if they didn’t, there are 200 color combinations in the book all well photographed and perfect, and I’d be happy working only with those. At the very least using them heavily for inspiration.

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So if you too love colorwork and are mystified as to how to chose colors which do not blend into mud or contrast in blindingly awful ways, this is the book for you.