Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ready for a Slow Smile?

Well, those of us who believe in slow, not just Slow Food (although that's wonderful, too) but slow approaches to creating things of meaning and beauty for our homes and lives....have finally been noticed by The New York Times. Of course, the irony is in the article. One of the "slow design" groups was so successful that they had to outsource their production--to India.

This was all pointed out to me indirectly by my kind sister-in-law, who forwarded me this Apartment Therapy article. It's worth looking at, lots of lovely, obvious decorating tips for those of us who can study a photo and make it into our own ....thing. The funniest part of this?

The Wool Pouf

Yes, it is now very chic to know the sheep who contributed its wool to your work personally, and to knit with broomsticks, all for the pitiful sum of $800 to $1600 a pouf. Finally, I am in with the hip crowd. Who knew? It turns out I could have been chic too, if I'd had good PR about my personal relationship with my friends' sheep. Now, where do I sign up to produce these things...slowly? My house is full of roving...I'm ready!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stairs, Meet Your Master

Before the StairMaster, there were stairs. Since I live in an older house, (about 1930, so not too old, and the stairs aren't unsafe or uneven in rise) I am lucky to have a nice straight climb of 16 steps between my first floor and second. There's another, shorter flight of stairs between the first floor and the basement, but anyway...last week, when I realized that muffinks and those birthday dinners were catching up with me, I started my version of the stair master. First, it was 5 flights (up and down) extra a day, twice a day. I did that. Plus, there were the countless normal flights of steps, and the regular mile long dog walk. When I "meet the stairs," I don't need an expensive piece of a equipment, that may only be discarded later, as waste.

Today, for the first time, I did 10 flights instead of five. Got a little heart pumping, wobbly leg action going by the end. Gosh, I must be out of shape. (or just when it comes to my version of free exercise that can be done whenever?) What strikes me most though is the introduction of a new ritual to my day that seems to stick so far. I've been thinking about rituals, because this weekend, I dyed a lot of cloth napkins.

It's traditional for Jews to set their Friday night dinner table (much like a Sunday dinner for Southern Christians) with white. That's because of this metaphor: one welcomes the Sabbath bride at the beginning of Shabbat. (Sabbath in Hebrew) When I got married, I was given white china and a dozen cotton white napkins. Since this was the sum total of all the table linen I had, my mom gave me some of hers. Over nearly 10 years, gravy, tomato and barbeque sauces have taken their toil...not to mention the red wine. No amount of bleach got rid of the stains. However, most of the napkins were in good shape...and I can't just throw away good cloth napkins!

So, I went wild with some mahogany and garnet dyes, and I got this:
We're trying out the concept of using cloth napkins every day instead of just for Friday nights, holidays, and when guests come over. This saves trees, paper napkins, and trash. We're on day two, I've got those mahogany napkins on the left on my little kitchen table. We'll see if this becomes a habit. If so, you can bet I'll knit more of these, too!

I got to thinking about ritual because of the napkins--not a religious thing in itself, but part of what makes meaning and prepares me for a traditionally religion-oriented once a week occasion. Also, I was reading Here If You Need Me by Karen Braestrup, which was recommended to me by a thoughtful friend. This memoir has such a respectful, loving way of approaching traumatic losses and end of life issues. It takes time to talk about religious ritual and prayer around death in a multi-denominational way, as Braestrup serves as a chaplain for Maine game wardens. It's well worth the read.

For me, at least, ritual is very meaningful. Not all ritual, everywhere, but the kind that says, at the end of a frustrating week, we sat down, as usual, on Friday night with a comfort meal of chicken noodle soup, challah, salad, wine, and peach crumble, and we laughed with a friend who came over at the last minute to boost our spirits. That helped. Those rituals, and habits (like the new "stair master" routine, which confuses the heck out of the dogs), add structure and meaning to our days. Some ritual is secular, like standing up for the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game. Some of it is small, like forming a knit stitch, one at a time, to soothe oneself. Some of it, like setting the table for Friday night dinner, has been my way of making a division between Sabbath and the rest of the week, for nearly my whole life. (that was my chore as a kid)

I'm going to miss the smell of white napkins, the bleach rising faintly from the drawer in the dining room, when I next set the dining room table. Yet, I can match that lack with my new ritual--one of reusing something in a new way, avoiding unnecessary waste. There's both comfort and value in that juxtaposition.

Reynolds Saucy, Anyone?

I promise I'll post a real blog entry soon, but I had a good look at my stash, and...

It turns out that Taupe isn't a color that flatters the professor, and long ago, I bought enough of this to make him a sweater. Would anyone like it?

I happen to have 12 totally untouched skeins+ one opened skein of Reynolds Saucy Yarn in Taupe. (I knit just one small swatch with this open skein, so there's plenty left.) It's 100% Mercerized Cotton, 185 yards a ball, hand or machine wash, 5 sts=1 inch on a #7. Here's a link to what it looks like.

Nonsmoking, doggy household (but the yarn was completely wrapped up and kept clean.) I think this yarn now goes for $5 a skein, and there's definitely enough yarn here for a normal sized human sweater, perhaps plus a kid's sweater. (the professor has a 56" chest sweater size.)

How about $60 for all 13 skeins, plus I'll pay for postage in the USA? I'm open to discussion regarding the price. Please email me (joanneATjoanneseiffDOTcom) if you're interested--also let me know if we need to discuss any international postage excitment. If I don't hear anything, I'll post it someplace else in a couple of days. It turns out that I feel cosmically burdened by this khaki stuff!
:) Joanne

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why get up?

You know when you wake up and you're all tense and you've been having bad dreams all night? You're not just relieved to be awake, but really annoyed and sad, just sad that some perfectly good sleep was ruined by crumminess? Yeah, me too. That's how I woke up this morning. I even tried to go back to sleep to erase the feeling, but no, it didn't work out.
Then, like when a pot boils over, I just had to go through some of the fussy, politicky, frustrating things that had been irking me, and whew! Prepare for some super bad feeling. Grumble. Hmmph. As a result of this, everything is getting on my last nerve, as my teaching mentors used to say. It happens to everyone, I know.
It shouldn't have happened today. I mean, I'm getting kind comments even from drive by readers. (and by that, Taueret, I'm sure you only mean good things and not shooting at me, since I've looked at fab spinning on your blog!) Yesterday I even submitted something for Spin-Off that took forever to put together, (hopefully you'll read more about it in Summer '08) and I generally love submitting stuff, what a relief!
We've even had a few days of downright crisp weather (low of 6 F last night) and I love cold weather...a chance to pull out the long underwear AND wear extra sweaters! So, I'm focusing on the good things, instead of the mud that's all over the place from the freeze thaw cycle:
1) I got to wear my super heavy Icelandic sweater today. I've had it since I was 12. And yes, the temperature has risen outside, so I'm boiling up.
2) I submitted another chunk of my book today. Submission of one's work? good thing.
3) I was offered a frozen "stew chicken" (layer that stopped laying) from my local winter time veggie farm, and it cost $6. Total. What a deal.
4) Said chickie is now boiling away, filling the house with lovely aromas of chicken soup.
5) At this moment, I'm making homemade yogurt with whole milk from locally raised, grass-fed cows so I can enjoy it as my lunch every day next week.
6) exercising a little and limiting my muffink consumption is working, I've already lost a pound or two.
7) I discovered some nice brown wool to spin in my stash that I'd forgotten I had.
8) I got a very sweet note from someone who "loves all my patterns" and wants to buy one but was having some logistic difficulties. Those kinds of notes always improve things, they are like knitting love notes. (love knitting notes?)
Right, I tried positive thinking. It's still not working for me today. Some days are like this. Guess I'll put some wine in the fridge so I'll have plenty to drink at Friday night dinner with the chicken soup. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Well, I heard a call for Pear-Hazelnut muffins over here, so I'm pleased to bring you the recipe. The professor and his brother like "muffinks" and sometimes have them for "brekky." Our families all have their own languages, they teach you this in Grad School linguistics seminars, and the professor's family words have become mine. Imagine our surprise when we were in Australia a few years ago and discovered THIS! A whole nation with our word in use! ... but I digress.

I based my muffins on Mollie Katzen's pear ginger muffins in her book, Sunlight Cafe. Then I went wild and changed things and the recipe seems to work anyway. Good book, by the way. Here's the muffink recipe. It lacks metric measurements, but if you could look past that? It's good!!
Pear Hazelnut Muffins
Makes 12 pretty big muffinks

Preheat your oven to 375. Oil a standard muffin pan (one with 12 muffins) or just use muffin cups instead.

Combine the following, in no particular order. Believe me, it's not too sensitive, this recipe!
-2 finely chopped ripe pears, equaling about 1.5 to 2 cups pear. (use the peel for added fiber, or use canned pear if that's what's convenient. It's flex.)
-1 tablespoon lemon juice, put that on the pears chunks right away so they don't turn brown.
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1.5 teaspoons baking soda
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts (amount is flexible)
-1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, or Penzey's mixed baking spices if you have it (optional)
-1 cup milk (I used whole milk, but you can use buttermilk, yogurt, cream, soymilk, whatever, it all works)
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup olive oil (I suspect that 4 tablespoons melted butter, or 1/2 cup of veggie oil would also work fine)

Mix it all together so there are no big floury parts. Fill up each muffin cup until it is practically full.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until it's brown and a toothpick stuck into the middle of a muffink comes out clean. Remove muffins from the pan and let cool on a rack. Use restraint. Try not to eat too many of these muffinks at once. ----
Sadly, we got a new scale yesterday and I discovered I weigh several pounds more than before. Or as Harry says, "Don't look at me! It's embarrassing!" So, I am now on the limited muffins, walk up and down the staircase more often diet.
I have concluded, in part, that knitting while I was sick did not use up enough calories, so I am back to spinning again now that I'm better AND I move both arms and legs while doing it! Here's the pair of socks I whipped up while travelling. (Information on yarn in a previous post.) They are destined for someone who thought the colors were pretty, and who has smaller feet than I do, so I am not modelling..and no, it's not my feet that gained weight.
Thanks so much for all the fun comments you've left lately, (booby, hahaha, thanks for the laughs) and your kind words, Cheryl, it came at a very good time. Some days one needs an extra dose of nice, and it appears that for me, my pear hazelnut muffin consumption is now limited, so I'll have to depend on good comments!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

awards and treats

Well, according to my last entry's comments and statistics, only six of you laughed. About 40 to 50 folks visit my blog each day. That's maybe 200 people who visited, and only six laughed. Hmmph. In the future, I guess I'll keep my bird jokes to myself. (we thought up other birds with bad names, too. Like Booby.) Hahhaha. Heehee. Say it three times fast!!! Ahem. I'm going to try to grow up now. OK, that's enough of that.

My friend Rosemary kindly gave me this award! I am completely honored. I am brushing aside my planned post, where I would talk about finishing knitted socks, pear hazelnut muffins, and other treats in order to mention this. Blogs give me all the important interaction, along with lists, emails, and very very rare phone calls (that's like seeing a Booby, that rare!) that normal people get at their places of work. Since I work alone, with Harry and Sally, I rely on all this great stimulation from the web. You'll notice that the folks I list below aren't necessarily listed on the side of my blog--I'm terrible at updating my template, but of course, those are all good reads, too!

I am now to pass it on to 10 other bloggers, according to the instructions: "Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times." And in no particular order:
Thanks for making my reading life so rich!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

big birds and other funnies

I've got a joke for you. Or, as a kid might say, "I tell you a funny!" The professor is on a variety of lists for his work and research. One is called "evolution" or some such, and often lists research positions. There's a really hot European postdoctoral post that's just come up. The subject line:
JOB: Study the Great Tits of Switzerland

We've been laughing about this for several days. The professor thinks that maybe English was not the poster's first language. (YA THINK!?) The person who originally posted has since reposted with a much less hilarious subject header. A shame--you can almost imagine his embarrassment, and then the thought, "You people have such dirty minds!"
In case you think I'm being lewd, here's a link to a BBC program that refers to these creatures. They are really just big birds. :)

Continuing the wacky theme, these are my nephew's newest pair of mittens. Made with O-Wool...OH, Wool, how I love you! These things bloomed up in a fantastic fashion when I washed them for blocking, and only took about a day or two to knit. You'll notice the distinct lack of thumbs. These are Auntie Joanne's special thumbless wonder mitts (patent pending!) for 2 year olds who refuse to wear their handknit mittens, because it's hard to suck your thumb while mittened. Now, I'm not taking that personally, and we all know that breaking up with your thumb is hard to do. In the meanwhile, it's January, and those little fingers are cold. Hence, my second pair of mittens for this little man...

Finally, I demonstrate the newest in interior design chez Seiff. See below, the two-toned new pad for the dogs' bowl. Crocheted on an enormous hook, with hand-dyed roving from my stash. There will be a pattern for something sort of like this in my book. In the meanwhile, I got tired of looking at the old ratty felted sweater pad. It was dirty. It took less time to crochet this than it would to wash the old one. Plus, I like crochet better than handwashing...

My friend Rosemary called me the other day and we commiserated about writing books. There should be a support group, I'm just sayin'! However, she's kindly given me an award since then...see details on her blog. I will be posting about that soon soon. As soon as I stop giggling about those big birds in Switzerland. Heee hee.

Are you laughing? Huh? Please, tell me you're laughing here in the comments!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the slow truth

Thank you for celebrating this collar thing with me! I knew you'd understand my excitement about those curves! Yet...
On reflection, I didn't do a good job of explaining that shawl color cardigan in the last post, I mean, why I was excited about it. Let's try again, for those who haven't been reading my blog for a while. Back in September 2006, I bought a lovely fleece at the TN State Fair from Far Out Farm. I happened to win some Chasing Rainbows Roving because I am a fast spinner and won a ribbon in the State Fair contest. I plied those together, and it looked like this. (first yarn in that photo)

Then I spun up the brown wool into big fluffy lofty double ply skeins, and I started knitting this sweater but something just wasn't right, I ran out of yarn and the v-neck wasn't working. Finally, I dug out this orangey, plum brown plied yarn which had been posted on my etsy shop and I used it myself. So yes, I did this sweater from start to finish...but my friend Kim at Far Out Farm raised the sheep!

Some processes are slow. I look back on it now, and this sweater took more than a year to happen, and that's not unusual when something is a handspun, handknit, hand-designed project. Especially if it's "just for me," which means I've completed lots of other designs for my work life, or for family members. (coming up soon, I'll show you the "thumbless mittens for my nephew...but I digress.) I can't show a lot of the work designs on my blog, but I do like it when a good plan comes together every now and then!
This book thing is also slow, although I'm pushing it along as fast as I can. What have I been doing? Well, in early January, we caught a day of sunny, warmish weather. I put on a very short skirt so I could model some of the sock designs. Then, we staged our photo shoot outside. Here is what the whole scene looked like, especially after Harry came over to visit and see the excitement. (note, the close up photos did not include extra shoes for modelling, the gas grill, Harry, or even my skirt!)

In the hundreds of photos shot, we got distracted by light and shadow. The professor kindly passed along these images to me so I could show you "behind the scenes" action. Well, action at a snail's pace, maybe? Action when the model is still recuperating and needs to sit down a lot?!
We went through the photos just a day or two ago. There were many fine shots. We're waiting now to see just what the editor thinks. In the meanwhile, we discovered some of these huge digital images were corrupted. This popped up, and well, it was too beautiful for us to discard! Sometimes taking things slowly gives me this tender pleasure. I can catch enjoyment at each stage of the process, from the fleece auction to wearing my "new" sweater. I'm trying to find these same joys about working on my book, even when things are s-l-o-w. When I'm mired in technical questions, I struggle...but then again? One corrupted image offers these rich colors and abstract geometry. It seems to make it worth it to slow down and watch for the surprises along the way.
PS: It's supposed to snow in Kentucky! I'm excited...but again, now I just have to w-a-i-t to see whether weather happens!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

those sexy curves

I'm home again and ready to talk curvy, rounded, enticing things.... Like shawl collars. Here's a photo of the new/old deep v-neck, zippered cardigan. It's been translated into this thing with the deep garter stitch shawl collar, and I think it works. Sadly, I couldn't capture the short row magic with the camera without undoing all my blocking efforts, so I'll describe it. I built up the back collar with short rows, and, at the same time, created those rounded bits at the bottom--with very long short rows. The middy tie was added last, so as to take the weight of a full collar off the zipper.

Here's the full glory of my loot from School Products. Hey, now that I've read Deborah's comment, below, I realize it could have been worse. It could have been a loom! (and how would I get that in an airplane sized carry-on, I ask you?) You'll notice the plum, brown, burgundy theme. These colors look good on me, the professor, and most of my family members, and they're in fashion. Might as well stock up so as to get through all those lean years when the stores are filled with pastels.

Questions about the socks I'm knitting up? There's more information here about that yarn--just scroll down to see it in the skein. While many yarns and fibers marinate a long while in my stash, it turns out this yarn sprung into socks relatively quickly. I'm now working busily on my second sock.

It's been wonderful to sleep in my own bed again. I've grown into something of an introvert; I get tired out by all the social interactions and need quiet recovery time. It's also a great time of year to enjoy extra sleeping with all this darkness. We were welcomed home to this great sunset on Friday as we went to rescue the dogs from jail the kennel. That place is in the country a few miles out of town, complete with large group dog runs and lots of play time. Only, the sad part is that Sally is too nervous to like it. Harry is a big socializer, so he has lots of fun. Every time we pick up the dogs there, we hear, "Harry was great. Such a friendly guy. Sally? Sally's very nervous." Or, one time, the report was..."Sally bit a big lab puppy twice her size. She shouldn't have done it, but...he's annoying and was asking for it." (nice to know the other dog deserved it when our girl loses her patience, but...not the best news!) Everyone always comes back hoarse from barking and exhausted. Funny, I know just how they feel.

Meals at home have been quiet, warming, filling affairs. Rib-eye steak, wild rice, winter time lettuce and napa cabbage salad with apples, walnuts, and raisins on Friday. Saturday night: sauteed onions and shitake mushrooms in a red wine reduction, combined with leftover wild rice, tiny chunks of steak, and swiss chard, flavored with a bit of garlic, parsley, olive oil, wine vinegar, maple syrup, pepper and salt. Arugula, mache, and napa cabbage fattoush with sundried tomatoes as the salad (arugula and mache from our garden) and for dessert, those very last upstate NY apples, served in a just from the oven apple crumble. Mmmh. Good to be home.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

family travel adventures

Well, the family trip continues...we are now visiting my folks in Northern Virginia. We have consumed no less than 6 birthday and celebration dinners of one kind or another. What a week.

The big finale to my NYC experience (in terms of knitting) was visiting School Products on Monday. To hell with restraint! I managed to find the subway, to take it to the right stop, get up to the 3rd floor, and do damage to my credit card. Two hours and umm, 4 sweaters and a scarf's worth of yarn later, I struggled down the elevator, out to the street, and off to rest again that afternoon. It's hard work buying silk/cotton worsted weight, mercerized cotton, cashmere/merino blend, 100% cashmere yarns, and silk/rayon yarn for dyeing. I could barely manage to lug the bag back on the subway!

Obviously, the handdyed sock knitting and the never-ending Thermal sweater weren't enough yarn to carry around. (see bad photos in this post!) I had to have MORE.

The professor kindly popped loads of purchases into his suitcase. Hmm. Apparently, the gifts of homemade jam and syrup were not all distributed to relatives as we'd thought. One lone jar of blueberry syrup lingered, lost at the bottom of his suitcase. Yesterday, as he got dressed, the professor couldn't understand my cries. "So," he said, "my shirt is damp. And pretty darn purple. So what? I have a work deadline to meet, I've got to do some email!" He nearly marched off to the computer dressed in blueberry. That was when I washed half his clothes, handwashed my cream colored cabled handknitted sweater, and got rid of a very drippy bag of what was once a jar of syrup. The professor resurfaced late that afternoon from my father's den and said, "Wow, look at all these clean clothes! Thank you! I'll fold them! How did this happen?" (washed twice, by that point.) Gotta love an absentminded professor. :)

Good thing we were visiting my family and the guestroom is right by the laundry room.

I've been treated to many family delights while the professor was working:
1) rides in my father's 1965 Triumph Spitfire convertible and lunch at my favorite Lebanese restaurant
2) never ending requests to play Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder DVDs from my charming 2 year old nephew Nate, interspersed with story time, lots of hugs and playing
3) actual adult conversation with my sister-in-law
4) have I mentioned all the food? The 4th chocolate dessert this week?

It's really no wonder that I decided not to go to "tumbles" with Nate today (preschool gymnastics) or out for an Auntie Joanne lunch of bagels. Although I love going to museums while home, I'm not even going to attempt to manage it this time. Yes, it is roughly 12 miles from here to the Capitol building, just a short subway ride away, but I'm pretty tuckered out. I have glorious plans. It's pretty quiet here in the guestroom. I may hide and take a nap.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The B-day Bash

So far, this has been a very nice birthday. Last night, my husband,brother in law, father-in-law, and their partners all took me out to Craft in NYC. This is a very fancy shmancy restaurant with a good name. (As in, Arts & Crafts?!) Everything had about 5 sticks of butter in it, no kidding, but the best part of dinner was dessert:bitter dark chocolate souffle, coffee crunch ice cream and cocoa nibsgranita. Yum. Today, the in-laws all had bagels and lox for brunch with me. Also good.

I hung out with Pickle the dog in Manhattan, too.

Annmarie, my friend who shares both an early January birthday and yarn shopping restraint, picked me up around 1:30 and escorted me to Knitty City and Yarn Company, two NYC yarn shops. There we petted yarn, talked about knitting,teaching and life and did not buy any yarn!! (amazing, actually, and we are so proud of ourselves.)
We also went to a used book store for a little, ate gelato together (mine was pink grapefruit and coconut,hers was grapefruit and mango) and then Annmarie escorted me back to Pickle's apartment (really the brother in law's).
Our two hour adventure exhausted me completely--I still have no stamina from being sick--so I slept for an hour and a half. My family made my b-day dinner while I was sleeping! It was all good, but funniest was the chocolate birthday cake. They somehow misunderstood the icing directions I'd explained to them and whipped cream and put chocolate flakes in it. It was good, but uhh, not like icing. (love you, professor and sister-in-law. There's a reason why brother-in-law Ben and I are the main cooks!) That's the day so far. Now I'm looking forward to going to sleep early! Hugs to all of you who wiggled along with me in celebration of my book submission deadlines...and thanks for all the b-day good wishes.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

a brief celebration

I'm squeezing in one more post. First, this is the photo on my laptop screen. It is a New Zealand Romney Sheep. I took this photo in New Zealand. I can stare at it for hours and escape my regular life...ahem. As I was saying...
I've spent a lot of time with this super fast laptop lately. And, as Deb, one of my kind blog readers noted recently, it's been a pretty darn stressful year for me. At most of the points when one would be celebrating...woohoo! Book! I'm writing one! I've been racing out the door to a festival, stunned with relief, prostrate on the kitchen floor with the stress, or chasing after a barking bird dog.

Today, however, I reached a completely meaningless milestone, not a real milestone like a book deal, not the signing of the contract or even submitting all the material--but, whatever, it means something to me. As of today, I've submitted every design that will be in the book to my editors. It doesn't mean I wrote them all (I didn't) but I did format them and organize them all. It doesn't mean we've finished all the photography (we haven't). Nor have I finished every last bit of writing. (just most of it...just the intro and conclusion chapters to go)

Whew. What a big relief. I'm very excited. I am, at this moment, in my chair, wiggling my bottom in a happy dance. OK, you can't see it, but that's what I'm doing. Now, I will shut down the speedy laptop and stop visiting with my friend, the NZ Romney. I've got to pack some bags now and organize some stuff...and you know? It's been a really productive day. Now, as a weird kind of reward? I get to go to an airport or two.

Please, privately, do a little happy dance with me. What's that? Did I see you wiggle your bottom in your office chair too? All together now...Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

carnation green

Happy 2008! We started the new year in our bed and/or dog crates. Only some of us woke up to bark at midnight at the gunshots and fireworks!
<---Please accept this flower as a token of my affection for you. Have a great year. :) This is the last swatch here, folks....well, a small part of it. I made a pair of mitts out of this yarn, and the ruffles I came up with just reminded me of those green carnations folks give out on St. Paddy's Day. See the resemblance? This yarn is Pear Tree 4 ply, an Australian Merino that knits on size #3(3.25mm) at 25 sts to 4 inches. It is far more than a baby yarn. Soft, with tiny wisps of slightly contrasting darker wool as colorful (but not bumpy) texture, I saw it as perfect for mitts, socks, scarves, and other adult fine wool delights. I'd definitely knit more of this! The good news is that it's now available in a 100 gram skein, meaning you can produce that whole pair of mitts or socks with just one skein.

Other adventures around here? I wove my first little square thingee, from those looms I showed in another photo. Not really a napkin, I'm thinking. Not so much. At 5 inches square, the worsted weight yarn produced a very loose weave. My little square is sitting on the dining room table drying while I try to decide what it can be. So far? I'm stumped.

My handspun v-neck zip up cardigan has undergone a transformation. The silk scarf idea, while nice, didn't work out. I found the only matching/contrasting yarn in my whole stash (took it off etsy, as a matter of fact) and dove in, with the professor egging me on. I now own a zip up cardigan with a huge deep garter stitch shawl collar, complete with a little bit of a middy tie to take the collar weight off the zip. No photo yet to show you, but well, imagination is a great thing. I used lots of short rows and got great curves going. It was the first time I designed my own shawl collar with short rows and those collar curves are downright sexy, as knitting goes.

That's all the crafty bits from here. I'll see what other posts I can squeeze in while on my travels... Oh, must address this from the comments: I'll skip the wheel chair rides, I think I can manage it since I'm swinging my mile long dog walk again. It's tiring, but I can do it. I'm also lucky to have direct flights this time, so no racing through the airport. Besides. I'm turning 35 on Saturday. That seems old enough. I generally like every chance to celebrate getting older...(the alternative stinks!) but the wheelchair concept might take some getting used to!