Friday, June 1, 2018

May Highs and Lows

May has always been a whirlwind month for me.  This year was no different-it started on some very low points.  I got a call on the 1st that my Mom's brother passed away suddenly, but not unexpectedly.  What made it even more difficult was not being able to be with the family since they are in the UK.  The 2nd was equally difficult as it would have been PJ's 25th birthday.  Steve and I have begun a tradition of eating Mexican on his birthday; still it's just not the same.  The 4th is our wedding anniversary and while Steve was away on the day of he did surprise me with some lovely flowers.  Hard to believe it's been 27years!  We did celebrate with a lovely meal a couple days later.
Things definitely began to look up when Andrew was able to come visit for about 10 days, and we picked him up on the 11th from the MARTA station.  Sophie was as thrilled as I was to see him!

Saturday the 12th we went to visit my Mom for an early Mother's Day-we took lunch and had a nice leisurely visit.  That evening we gathered at Maggiano's to celebrate my niece Paula's college graduation.  We are all so proud of her.  Mother's Day included a visit with Steve's Mom and since it was also Andrew's birthday we had snacks and ice cream cake.  I think Andrew looks so handsome in his suspenders, and this is his work "uniform".  It has been very nice having Polly close by.  We watched baseball and golf, and I got a bit of knitting done.
A week later was my Mom's 80th birthday, and we celebrated at our old church with afternoon tea.  She had a delightful time, and there was lots of we yummy food.  I was lucky that Mary, Karen and Polly were able to help get things set up.  Here she is with her friend Josie, and so many others where there to celebrate her special day.  Unfortunately, we had a pretty tight timeline for the day as Andrew was flying out, and we had to take Mom back to her apartment then head to ours to gather Andrew's belongings, grab dinner and then take him to the airport.  He got there in plenty of time- who knew that the world's busiest airport would be a mad house at 9:00 pm on a Sunday!  Poor kid didn't get to his apartment until 1:15 am and he had to be in the office the same morning.  I know his dog Cocoa was thrilled that he was home after being gone so long.  He was fortunate to have the concierge from his building help him with dog sitting.  

The next day was Steve's birthday, and we had a low key celebration of just us.  He wanted bacon and blue cheese burgers with onion rings no cake.  The burger were yummy and we spent the evening watching TV and he opened his cards.  Needless to say by the time the long Memorial Day Weekend rolled around I was ready for some down time.  My weekend started early when my boss let us leave at 2:00 on Friday.  I got the apartment cleaned and the laundry done.  I spent Saturday organizing the nook and crannies that tend to get cluttered this time of year and get stuff ready for donations.  I worked on some WWKIP items, and some other "administrative" duties.  Sunday I was able to go on a bike ride, the first of the season, and it was great.  I spent the rest of the weekend doing some knitting planning.  Here's all the projects laid out.
First up is my warm weather knits- Plain and Simple, Michigan, and Puntilla.  After swatching I've decided to use the middle yarn for Puntilla and the off white for Michigan.
There is a cowl [not pictured] that will be in the rotation at some point, and then I've decided to do Heidi Kirrmaier's Walking on the Moon with my Brooklyn Tween Quarry that was a intended for Thea Coleman's Stillhouse Vest that was an epic fail.  I think I need to use a worsted weight for that pattern.  I found a Berroco poncho pattern [you'll have to wait a while for the name] to use up my Lana Aran yarn that has been in my stash for a few years.
I frogged two sweaters last year and Mountain High by Heidi will be knit with my Swans Island Worsted, I know I'll get tons of use out of this pullover.  Footprints in the Snow will be the yarn from my frogged Cornice out of Rowan something?  I have deleted the project from my page so all I know is that is is a DK yarn.  Note to self do not delete frogged yarn until said frogged yarn is used up!
I plan to use my Rowan Fine Tweed to knit Joji's Separate Ways, I only have 2 colors, but I think it will be fine.  I will be swatching before hand to be sure.  My yarn plans are warm weather to cold weather, and I'm sure I'll sprinkle in other knitting in between, but this is yarn that I'd really like to get out of my stash.  I've already cast on the Puntilla and I'm nearly done with my Balise cardigan so of course I need to have at least 2 more sweaters going since I've  . . .
Finished two sweaters.  Here is Sunshine Coast knit out of Seta Tweed- I LOVE this sweater.   Sorry for the weird photo, but I have yet to find a good place to take FO photos where we live and a photographer.  Oh well, this will do for now.  I've worn this several times and it is so light weight.  I even got a compliment from a co-worker who was surprised it was hand knit! I also finished Beckett.  It is knit in Rowan's Finest which is a merino, cashmere, alpaca blend.  I won't be wearing it anytime soon, but it is done, the fit is perfect and it's ready for cold weather!
I wasn't lying when I said May was filled with highs and lows!  I'm looking forward to June what it will bring.  I have plans for a staycation which really means TONS of knitting.  Work is also easing up and having time to walk away from my desk to have lunch has been quite a treat.  What are you looking forward to in June-yea I can't believe it's here either.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Three on Thursday-Empty Calendar

Call me crazy but to have a work AND personal calendar this is totally blank from Friday to Monday is so awesome.  The last few months at work have been very busy and with writing/organizing 3 annual reports 2 which were full of fact checking, and 1 that needed serious grammar correcting and heavy edits.  I managed to whittle down this particular report which has traditionally been about a 158 page report to 62 pages.  It might grow a bit before it's submission, but not by much!

My three on Thursday are:

1.  Organize my space-while you'd think I could stay organized since I only have 1,500 sq ft to manage, but it is actually harder cause nothing can be in one spot and it's shared space!  I hope to drag out all sweater and scarf/shawl quantities of yarn out of my stash and do some serious planning.  This will mean matching yarn with a pattern and putting them into bags so that when I'm ready to start the yarn and tools are ready to go.  Dare I attempt to do any swatching-maybe shouldn't jinx myself.  There will be other non-knitting organizing going on as well.

2.  Finalize the last few details for out Guild's Work Wide Knit in Public Day which is a couple weeks away.

3.  Visit the Dunwoody Farmer's Market.  This is close enough to walk to, and since I have the vendor list I'm going to come up with a plan of attack.  There will be a seafood vendor there, so I'm hoping to find something interesting for Saturday's dinner.

Of course, I'm hoping there will be a bit of relaxing since all the celebrations and events for the months are over.  Hoping that you all have a lovely Memorial Day Weekend that is full of everything you want.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sometimes Monday-Lunch and Knitting

Means getting to step away from your desk and enjoy your lunch AND knitting.  I haven't eaten away from my desk in several months, and I'm glad I'm finally at a point in the "work"year where this will be a regular occurrence.  I have bound off the body of Balise, and I hope to start a sleeve tonight.  Happy Monday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Rest of the Retreat

So to wrap up the Knit for Fun Retreat- my class schedule included a session with Ann Budd and she helped me with a couple projects I wasn't sure I should frog or I would be able to make some adjustments and save myself some re-knitting.  She complimented me on my finishing, and gave some pointers for making my seaming a bit tidier.  Ann is a great retreat hostess!  The photo I have of the two of us was a great one of her great, but me- not so much!
 One of the other classes I took was Meghan Fernandes' Warm Weather Knits.  Meghan co-runs Pom-Pom Magazine.  I can't wait to get this year's summer issue-we got a sneak peak during class.  Meghan asked everyone in the class to introduce themselves and say why they were taking the class. Attendees either lived in a warm climate and they wanted to be able to wear hand knits year round, or ladies that  lived in cold climates there were some with their own "internal heating" system, and wanted suggestions on yarn and garments that didn't use wool, so they could have year around knits as well.   Some of the things I learned in class was the importance of choosing the right fiber or fiber combination.  Plant fibers wick heat moisture away from the body, but you have to be careful about heavy/saggy fabrics.  She recommended blends of wool and cotton, silk, linen etc as this offsets the in-elasticity of the plant fibers. Also, as with the Boxy sweater drape is such a big factor in WWKs. Close fitting garments do not allow air to circulate between the body and the garment which is what causes us to overheat.  Also, the best summer patterns are those that do not require an under-layer cause you're hot already why add to it!  I really want to knit warm weather garments that are not sleeveless, or all over lace so I can wear them to work. 
We did a bit of yarn tasting and this was one of the best parts of the class.  Some of the yarns Meghan brought were one's I've used in the past like Shibui linen and rain, but there were some other new to me yarns like Berroco Corsica, Wool and the Gang Shiny Happy Cotton [whoa-this is a good one!] it's a cotton yarn that is bulky so it'd be great for a pullover or cardigan but at the same time soooo soft and light weight.  I fell in love with Quince and Company's Willet that I want to give it a try-so drapey.  She also emphasized the importance of using the right needles with the right yarn to alleviate the  frustration of having stitches slip off the needles or trying to deal with splitty yarn.  Unlike substituting wool yarns there is a bit more work involved if a pattern calls for wool and you want to substitute for a warm weather type yarn.  This is another time when a large gauge swatch is warranted, and maybe even a little math is what will make or break a project
The other class i took, sorry no photos, was Sivia Harding's on decorative mending.  We used duplicate stitching to cover up mistakes, blanket stitch and creating an armature to fill a hole.  We also learned how to make a knitted patch.  She provided an overview of textiles over the centuries and how people extended the life of clothing and other items.   There is a lot more that this class could cover, and she plans to do a second part but I'm not sure how that's going to be facilitated.  The bottom line of this class was that if it's an item you really love you can sorta mend it however you want.   Of course, you have to put some thought into making sure the repair you decide will be appropriate, but at the end of the day it's totally up to you.  While I won't be able to attend the Spring KFF Retreat next year since it will be in Maine, I hope to be able to do something like this again.  Our knitting guild is hosting Nicky Epstein in October, and Stitches South is supposed to be coming to Atlanta again in 2019, so  maybe  . .  .

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Learning from Joji

I'm finally sitting down and gathering my thoughts abiut what I learned last weekend.  The Knit for Fun Retreat was a great experience and I'm very glad I went.  I have to say that Joji is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  While we were waiting for breakfast on Sunday she joined me at the communal table in the lobby that had become my home away from home during my stay.  I was a little hesitant to engage in conversation as I wasn't sure if she wanted to have some quiet knitting time and a break from interacting with students.  We did exchange pleasantries, and eventually got to talking about her family and travels.  She talked about how much she and her family [she has 2 boys] and enjoy the outdoors, and how fortunate she feels to be able to visit the US and explore freely.  She spoke of how kindly she is always treated, and what a beautiful country "we" have, and she hopes to see more of it.  Her face lights up when she talks about her family-you can just feel the love.  I told her if she ever wanted to visit the N Georgia mountains, she and her family had an open invitation!  I also found out that she will be taking a break from teaching [not from designing], so I feel very fortunate to have meet her when I did and to have taken one of her classes.  She wants to spend more time with her family and focus on designing.  She was a truly delightful person and instructor-here's a bit of trivia; her prior profession was that of a physician!  Initially I wasn't going to take her Boxy class cause I figured I wouldn't get much out of it, and that the Boxy was not something I would knit.  I was among those who didn't think the Boxy would "fit"me or my style.  Boy, did Joji prove us wrong!  She told us that the Boxy design received a great deal of criticism when it was first published, and sometimes it wasn't very constructive or nice!  She said that she has always struggled with covering up her "problem" spots and it took an employer's recommendation of the boxy style to convince her that silhouette suited her, and the rest is history.   The Boxy definitely adds style and sophistication to one's wardrobe.
 Joji brought several samples for us to try on and we were able to see the sweaters on different bodies.  With the exception of a few ladies that needed a sweater in their actual size [most of what she brought were mediums] it was indeed a flattering style.  She discussed at great length the importance of ease and the difference between knitted ease and ease in sewn clothing.  In terms of the boxy style the more ease the more drape and flow, and of course, you have to be mindful using a yarn that will give this type of fabric.  She gifted a pattern of our choice so that we could dip our toes into the the boxy pond.  I picked Puntilla which has 12-15" of ease and an adorable lace edge at the bottom and cuffs.  I was able to try this sweater on in my size so I know I'm going to like it.  I went to the Frayed Knot in Savannah and purchased the yarn [hope to swatch this week!]  I got a new to me yarn Isager Bomulin a 65/35 cotton/linen blend.  I can't wait to add this to my warm weather knitting [more about Meghan Fernandez's class in another post!].

We talked about the difference between drape and weight and the importance of getting the right gauge, and that committing to knitting a boxy means there will be ALOT of knitting-you have been warned!  She also explained the importance of the neckline and hemline to create a flattering silhouette.  A rounded [high in front/long in back] rather than a straight hemline is actually more flattering for those who might be a bit bigger at the hips!  Other hacks shared include side vents and even rounded hems in front and back.   She also provided a formula for figuring out where the sweater would fall on your body so that you can make proper adjustments, or pattern choice.  What I found really interesting about the design of the sweater was that if the sleeves fit properly then the body can be as wide as you want it and you'll end up with a variety of effects depending upon how much ease and yarn choice.  I learned a lot more, but don't think I should share ALL of Joji's secrets!  I also bought her [and got it signed] latest collaboration with Veera Valimaki- Reflections Vol 5-there's so much in here I want to knit starting with this glacier tunic and separate ways.  Depending on the swatch I may use my Rowan Fine Tweed that has been languishing; both of these call for fingering weight merino.  I have 2 colors so it'll take some playing around to see what works best.

 I visited another yarn shop just outside of Savannah, Unwind, on my way home and bought another new to me warm weather yarn  Queensland United a cotton/wool blend.  Maybe I'll get the newest Pom Pom magazine co-run by Meghan Fernandes for additional inspiration.  I also got beads for another Joli pattern, April Showers, a shawl that I cast on a couple weeks ago.

Believe it or not there are warm weather knits that do have sleeves and do not require an additional garment underneath!  More on the rest of the retreat to come. . .

Friday, May 4, 2018

Fridays are for FOs and Flowers

I got these lovely flowers from Steve today at work-here's us 27 years ago-boy do we look young!  I have a FO too that is drying.  My Sunshine Coast by Heidi Kirrmaier.  I slipped it on before I wet blocked it and I think it's going to be just fine.  I knit it out of Seta Tweed which is 75% silk and 25% cotton.  It was steeply discounted at Cast on Cottage and I bought it over a year ago, but it took forever to find the right pattern.  I hope to blog about my purchases from last weeks knitting retreat this weekend.  I'm really inspired by what I learned from Joji Locatelli, Sivia Harding and Meghan Fernandes.  Maybe even post a photo of this actually ON me.  Happy Friday y'all!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sometimes Mondays- Reflections

. . .I had the opportunity to spend time over the last couple weeks with inspiring women both very familiar to me and total strangers.  I came away from both with unique memories and lasting impressions.  While these 2 weekends have lifted me up emotionally there is still, the heavy cloud of having to accept that there is a birth date this week of someone who is no longer here to celebrate.    I don't think the feeling of being kicked in the gut will every go away.  I plan to share details from my knitting retreat because after spending time with Joji Locatelli, both in class and individually, I learned alot about gratitude and humility.  PJ would have thought that was a great thing. More to come . . .