Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Glimmer of Hope

It's time to close out another year, and I've been busy trying to get everything in order.  The other day I had to admit to myself that I can't get it all done before the clock strikes midnight tonight.  There will be lingering paperwork, an unfilled order or two . . . plenty of work for starting the new year.

I did make some progress in creating order out of chaos.  Take my work table.  Between a couple late season shows and the holidays, this table became a dumping ground.


After.  There's nothing like a clean work surface to greet the new year.

I'm more than happy to bid 2014 adieu.  This has been a challenging year on so many levels.  I don't want to tempt fate, but surely it can't get any worse.  There have been some positive nuggets along the way, and I'll cling to those going into the new year.

I have a wide array of knitting projects in progress, but for today I'm working on one that has a little twinkle.

It's hard to see in the picture, but this yarn has a silvery shimmer - a festive yarn.  Tonight as I toast the new year, I will say goodbye to a dark 2014 and will look ahead to 2015 and a year full of promise.

Happy New Year, Everyone!  May the days ahead be bright.

Monday, December 29, 2014

State of Confusion

The holiday schedule has turned my internal calendar upside down. For the past few days, I've been guessing and second-guessing the day of the week, and I've been wrong with almost every try.

This morning I lingered in bed past my usual wake up time only to startle myself back to reality.  Yes, it truly is Monday, and that means it's time to get back to work.  It's hard to make that shift because certainly the confusion will be back in full force later this week, but for now I'm embracing Monday because I have a lot of work to do.

If you take a peek at the right column, you'll see I've updated my 2015 events list.  I've posted only the first couple events - there will be more to come.  Knitting Weekend has the distinction of being the first event of the year, and it's coming at me in a few short weeks.  No more lingering in bed, that's for sure.

All of this means I had no business doing this.

No matter which direction I turn, I have a project staring me in the face, and yet I had to wind yarn for another one.  It's just a pair of socks, I reasoned with myself, and a simple pair of socks at that.  I'm sure I'll find a way to squeeze in a few rounds here and there.

For now, it's time to get back to work.  The first item for today is research, and it involves Ravelry.  Not a bad way to start the work week.

Friday, December 26, 2014

On the Other Side

Whew!  We made it to the other side of the Christmas holiday.  We exchanged presents, shared good food and drink.  Best of all we had family time without distraction - no work, no running around, no schedule, no appointments.  There was even time for trivia games and puzzles.  I'm sure we would benefit from more days like this.

I have plenty of work lined up, but with the weekend right around the corner, I can ease into a regular routine.  This is part of my transition.

I have a little bit of holiday knitting to finish up - the perfect excuse to camp out on the couch.  This cabley scarf is really pretty quick.  The only drawback is the black color my daughter requested.  I've designated it for daytime knitting.

To wrap up the year on a positive note, I'm excited to announce that WEBS is now carrying my yarn.  This project has been brewing for a while, so I'm happy to finally share the news.  WEBS has custom colors of Bertha and Mavis in stock. Hop over and check it out.

December is drawing to a close, and it's time for the monthly giveaway.  To enter, leave a comment.  Now that the holidays are over, what are you knitting for yourself?  Any knitting goals for the new year?  Please include your Ravelry ID for easy contact.  The winner, chosen at random, will receive a skein of yarn from Dirty Water DyeWorks - winner's choice.  The contest closes on Friday, January 2, 2015.

This time of year I light candles to chase away the shadows, and they are this week's color inspiration.

The soft glow of the season.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

On the Eve . . .

It's almost party time, and there's still plenty to do - a bit of wrapping, plenty of cooking and baking, a quick dance with the vacuum cleaner. Yes, I still have a couple holiday projects on the needles, but I've embraced it as an element of my gift-giving tradition.  And I can't forget the stollen.  I use my great-aunt's recipe, and it's part of our holiday ritual.

One thing that's finished is the tree.  It's decorated from top to bottom with a quirky, eclectic mix of ornaments . . . reminders of holiday celebrations past.  

Some of my favorite ornaments are the handmade ones.

Little hands and big hands have all made a contribution to our ornament collection.

If you're looking for a break from your own holiday preparations, check out this video.  'The Warmest Tim Hortons in Canada' is about yarn bombing, community and warmth.

At the end, follow the link for the making of the video.  It shows a behind-the-scenes time lapse.

With that, I'm off to pull together all my loose ends.  If you observe the holiday, enjoy your festivities!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Inching Along

The running around never ends, and I'm working on holiday knitting in the midst of various appointments and meetings.  

This scarf has been making the rounds with me.  The color matches our winter sky, so I feel very in sync with Mother Nature.  I am making progress - it's just not fast enough.  I'm done with my holiday social obligations, and the only shopping left is another grocery store run. Later today I should be able to put my feet up and log some concentrated knitting time.  It's always a mad dash to the holiday finish line.

Over the weekend I was a vendor at the gather here Holiday Market. It was a party complete with decorations, music and gourmet grilled cheese.  I didn't take nearly enough pictures, but here's a smattering.

And now I'm off to get busy.  I don't want to cross that holiday finish line empty-handed.

Friday, December 19, 2014

First Snowfall

I wish I had finished holiday gifts for show and tell.  A quick moving bug knocked me out of commission for a good 24 hours and took with it any energy I had for knitting.  Today I'm back on my feet - which is a good thing since I'm vending tomorrow.  If you're in the Boston area, you really don't want to miss the Holiday Market hosted by the lovely folks at gather here.  This event features a collection of vendors with a wide array of goods.  Get out and support your local makers.

I do have one finished project to share - something just for me.

First Snowfall.

Once again I don't have a model.  It's hard to find help this time of year.

This was a quick hat - substantial ribbing followed with a little colorwork.  The ribbing folds up to make this hat extra warm and cozy. Easy-peasy.  If you're in the market for a quick holiday gift, this just might be the ticket.

The yarn is Petite Clara, colorways Acorn and Chartreuse.  The blue is Edna Tide Pool and in real life is a bit darker than what you see in these pictures. 

The colorwork requires very little yardage and is a great way to use up odds and ends.  Yes, that's our Christmas tree.  It's still outside leaning against the shed.  I think it's time to call in reinforcements for holiday preparations.

Packages tied up with string ribbon . . . this week's color inspiration. 

A little bit of everything.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Since You Offered . . .

Over the years I've become more and more selective with my holiday knitting.  I've pared down the list to include only those who are knit-worthy . . . those who will really appreciate and use what I give them.

When it comes to my immediate family, I started taking requests.  I don't want to knit someone a hat if what they really need and will use are mittens.  Earlier this fall I suggested to my family that if anyone had a specific request, they should let me know.  My strategy was to plan ahead and avoid crunch knitting at the very end.  The response was meager, but I didn't take it personally.  My schedule has been extra hectic the last few months.  Maybe the universe was cutting me some slack.

Then this past weekend I got 3 or 4 requests.  "You know, I could really use a new scarf.  Something with fringe."  "Remember that cowl I saw on display at the yarn shop?"  "My hands are really cold these days since I lost one of the mitts you knit last year."  Lost one of the mitts?  You didn't retrace your steps and search high and low for it?!?

My strategy had clearly failed, but there's no use crying over lost knitting time.  I went digging for yarn and got busy.

I know.  This is a pathetic start, but it's a start.  And I still haven't found yarn for all the requested projects.  Never fear.  I'm going back to the stash.  Maybe if I dig a little deeper . . .  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Color and Spice

In our household December holiday fun is compounded with a couple birthday celebrations. Last week was Estrella's birthday, and she opted for the extended plan.  The youngest always take extra liberties. Estrella's celebration lasted all week and into the weekend.  Yesterday we wrapped it up with a family meal.

This year's birthday cake was cheesecake.

Chocolate cheesecake.  The only pictures I got of the birthday girl were silly ones, so this solo cake shot will have to do.  

It was my first go-round with this recipe, and it was delicious, if I do say so myself.  The best part?  It wasn't overly fussy.  We topped our slices with raspberry sauce and whipped cream, but there are plenty of other options.  Or you can even eat it as is.  If you need dessert for a holiday party, you might want to give this cheesecake a whirl.

I have just enough time to recover from this birthday before doing it all over again later this week for my son.  I wonder what his cake request will be.

In the midst of the extended birthday celebration, I managed to squeeze in some knitting time.

I'm still on my hat jag, and this is the current one.  First Snowfall.  I finished 7 inches of ribbing.  Not that ribbing isn't fun . . . it's just not very interesting.  Now that I'm spicing it up with different colors, things are definitely getting interesting.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Long Tail Upgrade

The other day I was starting a new project and needed to cast on 100 stitches.  I wanted to use the long tail cast on, so I proceeded to make the usual guesstimate of just how long that tail should be.  

Then I remembered a trick I had heard about and decided to give it a try.

Take both ends from the ball of yarn.  I'm working from a single ball, but if you have two balls, you can take one end from each ball.

Make a slip knot using both ends of yarn.

Put the slip knot on the needle.

Cast on the desired number of stitches plus 1.

When you're finished casting on, cut one of the strands of yarn.  I cut the strand that was around my thumb since that is the "tail" strand.

On the other end of the needle, bump the slip knot off and unravel it. You're ready to knit.

I'm delighted!  No more worries about running out of yarn when using the long tail cast on.

My color inspiration this week captures both fall and winter.

Snowy cover-up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Off and On

Off the needles.

Newfoundland Mitts.  Check it out.  It's a free pattern.

I had visions of an outdoor photo shoot for these mittens, but Mother Nature is keeping us in the gray with an impressive Nor'easter.  Wet and windy conditions have forced me to keep it indoors.

I'm smitten with this pattern.  Worsted weight yarn makes this a relatively quick project.  The opportunity for different color combinations makes for all kinds of fun.  Slipped stitches make an impressive colorwork display.

The gray yarn is leftovers I had dyed for Thrummed Mitten Kits - a basic Merino.  It's paired with Sweet Potato - an Alpaca / Merino / Silk blend that I use for the X-Mitts Kit.

On the needles.

Another pair of Newfound Mitts.  This storm was a reminder that winter is here, and it's just getting started. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Against the Wind

After a weekend of running here and there, I'm looking forward to Monday.  I spent way too much time driving, very little time on the work that needed to get done and even less time on my knitting.  It makes Monday seem very manageable.

Here's a glimpse of my weekend.  First thing Sunday morning was a drive to the beach.

Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester.

I love the beach in winter - peace, quiet and the gentle rhythm of the waves.

The main purpose of our trek to Gloucester was another race.  Estrella was running the Happy Holidays Half Merrython.

It was a dry day, but the wind was wicked cold.  After we got there, Estrella realized she had forgotten her hat.  She went about her warmups and tried to convince me - and herself - that she didn't need anything on her head.  She would be fine.

As it got closer to the start of the race, Estrella began to have second thoughts.  Maybe, just maybe, it would be good to have something on her head.  The only option sat on my head - the still relatively new, current favorite Algonquin Hat.  Since I had already given away most of my mittens a week or so ago, it was really quite painless to surrender my beloved hat.  I handed over the warm, toasty hat, pulled up my hood and tried to ignore the draft blowing around my ears. 

Estrella had a good run, and her time was better than her last half marathon.  She wore the hat for only a couple miles, but I'd like to think it gave her a little boost. 

While Estrella ran, I had a couple solid hours to kill.  I sat in the truck with my knitting and even managed to finish something.  This morning I've been trying to take pictures, but it's not going to happen with today's light.  Those pictures will have to wait for another day. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Migrating Colorways

This time of year tends to be quiet.  The fall shows are over, and I have time to regroup.  This year is a little different.  I'm in the midst of all kinds of dyeing activity.  Boxes of yarn in, boxes of yarn out.

Some of the favorite Lillian colorways are moving over to other bases.

Wheat, March Sky.

Moon Shadow, Desert Rose, Drizzle.  

These are just a few of the colorways that are on the move.  I'll give more updates as this project unfolds.

The November giveaway winner is Alice.  I can't find contact information for you, Alice.  Drop me a note, and we'll work out the details.

I captured this week's color inspiration in late summer when the tomatoes were at their peak.  They just don't taste the same any other time of year.

Favorites from the farmers' market.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Day Early

Last night when I got home, I had a pleasant surprise.  A box of yarn I had expected to be delivered today had arrived a day early.

When I opened the box, I remembered.  Amongst all the skeins and cones of yarn destined to fill orders, there was a small bag.

A new yarn to sample.  My dyeing schedule for today is very tight, but maybe - just maybe - I can shift things around and squeeze in a little sample time.  A new experiment is always full of hope and promise.

Just a reminder that today is the last day to enter the November giveaway.  If you're so inclined, you'll find all the details here.

Monday, December 1, 2014


The weather has turned chilly, and everyone in my household is scurrying for extra layers before heading outdoors.  Hats, mittens and scarves are all getting a good workout.

Last week I loaned gave away two pairs of my mitts.  The first pair was easy to surrender.  When it came to the second pair, I hesitated for just a split second, but as a mother I will do almost anything for my kids.  That includes giving up my handknits.  

Over the weekend I realized that my generosity had seriously depleted my own supply of mitts.  I was in a store and heard two women talking about losing mittens.  They were discussing where to buy cheap replacements.  I contemplated that option for a brief moment before coming to my senses.  I have enough yarn to make mittens for all of New England.  Why on earth would I buy a pair?

I added mittens to my knitting list and got busy.  This time around I selected the yarn before the pattern.  After a little time on Ravelry, I was reminded of this design.

Newfoundland Mitts.  A few years ago I made several pairs of these mittens for the kids.  There were colorful, warm and best of all, quick to make.  This pair is all mine.

In case you missed the announcement last week, I'm offering 15% off all online orders.  This offer ends today.  See the website for details.