One holiday at a time…

That’s my motto. No Christmas before Thanksgiving. Heck, no Christmas before Halloween!

A couple weekends ago, it couldn’t be helped. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincided, so we had to do both at the same time. My sister-in-law made a menurkey. I can’t find the picture of her with it, so here’s DH.

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We came home and celebrated the rest of Hanukkah.

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(Playing with depth of field and my menorah collection)

Now I’m ready to prepare for Christmas.

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We had a little snow here to put me in the right frame of mind.
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I found Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans for a reasonable price at Costco, so I’m making some vanilla extracts. Two are made with vodka, and two are made with bourbon. I gues that would make the latter…Bourbon Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract! A week later, the vodka version is nearly as dark as the bourbon version. But don’t let that fool you; it won’t be ready to use for about a month or so. Here’s a recipe; it’s crazy simple. I love these flip top bottles, but I wish they came in a smaller version! These are 8 ounces, which is a lot of vanilla extract.

More merry-making: Here’s a group from Westlake High School singing at the Rotunda in the Texas Capitol in Austin Texas.

Yes, Austin! We had a quick getaway this week. Here’s a better view up into the dome. The star up there measures 8 feet across.

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This is a beautiful building. So much detail!

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Even the door hinges are beautiful.

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Texas State Representatives meet here.

We also toured the LBJ Library and Museum, and saw lots of bands play. Favorite meal: breakfast tacos at Torchy’s Tacos. Cheap hipster slacker breakfast.

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We got around via Car2Go. Very cool!

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Cheaper than a cab, and pretty convenient. You only pay for the time you drive, 41 cents/minute, and you can park in any legal parking lot in their service area. We have these in Portland, too, and use them occasionally when we need a second car. Do you have Car2Go where you live?

Are you ready for Christmas? Not me, not yet!

MKAL colors, chat

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I’m so looking forward to the Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL. I’m going to knit the mystery shawlette in the same colors I used when I designed it, because I love it so much I want one for me! I’m not sure where the sample is going to live for the next year, but you can be sure I’ll be enjoying mine.

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This is Knitted Wit Single Fingering in Silver Lining and Madge. I love the contrasty pop between these colors. I originally had chosen a paler pink, which looked like it coordinated nicely, but I liked this combo a lot better. Here’s an early hint: There is some striping in this shawlette. (I can tell you that because it says so on the pattern’s Ravelry page.) Take some of your yarn, wrap it around a pencil 8 times or so, and then use your second color and do the same right next to it. Do this again to alternate the two colors a couple times. Do you like the way they look together? Yes? You’re good to go!

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Hey, look, I finished something! This is In Threes by Kelly Herdrich. I knit it with Malabrigo Worsted, and it’s sweet. It’s very oversized, though; it will be a while before Lorajean’s new baby can wear it!

I bought a new camera, and these are the first pictures I’ve downloaded from it. I like it so far. It’s a micro four thirds camera, a Panasonic Lumix GF6 (last year’s model) with a 14-42 kit lens (DSLR equivalent is 28-84). It’s smaller and lighter than a DSLR, which means I might even travel with it. I like to travel light as far as cameras go, and I didn’t want to buy a camera that would only be used at home for photographing knitting!

More pix, next post…

Have you chosen your colors for the mystery KAL yet? Are you stash diving or going shopping? (I love an excuse to shop.)

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL

The 2014 Rose City Yarn Crawl is coming up fast. It’s February 27 – March 2 next year, but the fun starts NOW.

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We’re having a mystery knit along (KAL) and crochet along (CAL) before the crawl starts. We? Yes, we! I’m thrilled to let you know that I’m the designer of the 2014 Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL Shawlette. As a native Portlander, I hope you enjoy the very Portland elements that I designed into this piece.

Presales of the shawlette patterns (one knit and one crochet) have begun through Ravelry. You’ll have plenty of time to pick the perfect yarn for your shawlette. Join the chatter in the RCYC group on Ravelry. Knitting begins in January, which is traditionally selfish knitting month after holiday gift knitting!

The shawlette is knit with two colors in fingering weight yarn; I chose to work with two semi-solids. Please come knit along with me; I’m looking forward to knitting along with you!

Want to know more about the yarn crawl? Check out all the details on the Rose City Yarn Crawl page. You can order a tote with this year’s new logo, and sign up for the Yarn Ball, a pre-yarn crawl reception on Wednesday, February 26.

Don’t live in Portland? You can still knit along. I think you’ll love this shawlette. I know I do!

Linocuts!

Lino-whats? Linocuts!

I went to a printmaking party at a friend’s house on Sunday. It was a new crafty thing for me. We traced images, transferred them to linoleum blocks, and then carved the blocks so we could print with them. (Cool carving tools, no picture though.) This block is about 3 inches square.

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I used a knit snowflake motif, because, hey, it’s me.

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I love how my prints turned out. The gold on black paper didn’t have as much pop as I expected; the silver was better. I like the gold on the cream paper, though. The blue print is the first one I made. I’d love to try this again. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it wasn’t nearly as intimidating or complicated as I thought it would be! I’ll cut these prints out and mount them on cards for stationery.

Knitting continues, and I picked up some new yarn for no reason.

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The one on the left was purchased in Ellensburg when I was there at the beginning of the month, because I wanted to support the LYS there. It’s Ella Rae Lace Merino, but really more of a light fingering weight than lace weight, 460 yards/100g. The one on the right is KnittedWit’s CSY offering for November. It’s Bling, colorway is Solstice, 438 yards/100g. I saw it when I was labeling yarn for Lorajean, and had to have a skein. “It followed me home, can I keep it?”

Hope you’re having a great week! Happy Thanksgiving, to all who celebrate. We’re celebrating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and the beginning of Advent this week. Bring on the holidays!

Kvinneakt, adorned

I hustled downtown last night to see the latest installation of Monumental Attire. It was an event!

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I arrived in time to see Kvinneakt being adorned with a sparkly crochet snowflake shawl. (And pasties.)

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She even has leg warmers!

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I hope she stays adorned for a while. No time to visit in daylight today. Sorry for the iPhone pix; I’m between cameras right now. I’ll add links later, but look at previous posts if you want to know more about Monumental Attire.

Seeya!

Bridge for Blankets: It’s a wrap!

Remember these August beauties gracing the Broadway Bridge?

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The PDX Bridge Festival is now just a hazy summer memory. But as promised, this Bridge for Blankets banner and three others just like it have been broken down into 42 blankets, washed, dried (thank goodness for superwash wool), repaired, and de-fuzzed.

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Yes, de-fuzzed. This is the fuzz I picked off three blankets. It looks like a crazy clown wig for kitty. (I didn’t dare try to get a picture on Mookie.)

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The blankets are now ready to go back into the world, headed for homeless shelters and hospitals. Their colors aren’t quite as perky as they were at the beginning of August (hanging out in the sunshine for a month will do that), but the blankets are wooly and warm, and have a very interesting history. A very quirky Portland tale.

Just a reminder: The yarn was purchased at a discount from Cascade Yarns through Abundant Yarns, but the cost of the yarn was not even close to covered by donations ($2000 short). If you would like to donate to help cover the cost of the yarn for these blankets, checks can be made out to Tyler Mackie, the artist behind this project (write Bridge for Blankets in the memo field) and mailed to:

Bridge for Blankets
c/o ArtCraft Silversmiths
3111 SE 13th Ave Suite 500
Portland, Oregon 97202

or PayPal payment to tyler.mackie@gmail.com. Donations are tax deductible as a 501c3; Tyler will send you a receipt.

I enjoyed participating in this project, both as a knitter in a huge community art effort, and at the other end of the project, preparing blankets for sharing in the community. I’m glad that this knitting will live on in another form, bringing comfort to people who need it.

And after yesterday’s post about Portland’s statues getting some cheerful holiday knitwear, a little more sleuthing and connecting on twitter led me to discover that the deer statue used to have a hat. And the otters’ sweaters looked like this! Links are to pictures; they’re not mine so I can’t post them here on the blog. Go look; they’re cute. Also, the next wave of Monumental Attire isn’t due until Thursday this week, so I’ll try to see Kvinneakt then. She’s going to get a sparkly shawl and leg warmers.

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Wish me luck!

Holiday yarn bombing

There’s another wave of knitterly (and crocheted) public art in Portland. Downtown Portland is featuring holiday sweaters for some of the statues downtown. Here’s the schedule for Monumental Attire. I went to check out the first wave of sweaters, but unfortunately someone has made off with most of it.

This deer still has her sweater and leg warmers:

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But I think someone stole the sweaters off the otters:

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Someone definitely stole most of the cardigan off “Allow Me” leaving one sleeve behind (because they couldn’t get it past the umbrella?), but the sleeve is gone now, too.

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The next wave begins Thursday, November 21, and you may need to hurry if you want to see it before vandals make off with it! “Kvinneakt” is scheduled for a sweater this week, and she looks like she could use it. A bit chilly out there. (Do you remember this statue from the”Expose Yourself to Art” poster, which featured future Portland mayor Bud Clark?)

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As part of the festivities, there is also an ugly sweater contest, a party to celebrate it, and a request for donations for Transitions Project, an organization that helps people transitioning from homelessness to housing. You can read all the details here.

Portland: It’s a quirky town and I love it. I’m especially loving the desire to share knitting and do something good at the same time. That’s Portland in a nutshell! Now if only vandals would stop making off with the art.

Knit on…

Thrumviator!

Picture this…

It’s post-apocalypse, and now you’re experiencing the devastatingly cold nuclear winter…how will you keep your noggin warm?

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(How does Alex always look so darn cute?!)

Presenting Thrumviator, a thrummed aviator hat. It’s my design in Alex Tinsley’s book Doomsday Knits: Projects for the Apocalypse and After, which will be published by Cooperative Press next month. This hat is guaranteed to keep your head warm.

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Because, you know, thrums! Those wonderful bits of wool roving that you knit into your woolies for extra warmth.

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The earflaps help, too. Sooooo cozy. This hat begins at the very top, and grows out in four directions, like the four winds. They’re blowing mighty chilly out there, but you’re warm in thrum heaven.

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This hat was designed with Knitted Wit Silky ‘n’ Plied, and Knitted Wit merino roving. The silk in this yarn adds the luxury you need to pamper yourself in a cold, cold world. Scrumptious. Look for kits in her shop right now and be ready to knit next month!

You can find Thrumviator on Ravelry here. You can order Doomsday Knits from Cooperative Press here. It’s available in either e-book (pdf) or book + pdf. And you can see the full blog tour schedule here.

I love being part of this project with all these creative designers! And the fabulous photographer, Vivian Aubrey. I always know my knits will look their best if she’s on board.

Next up on the blog tour? Alex’s “Oh Bondage!” on her blog, Dull-Roar. Check it out!

Weekend Rock Star

I had a stellar weekend. A friend asked me to accompany her to Ladies Rock Camp here in town. It’s a weekend day camp for women, and the tuition helps provide scholarships for Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls summer and after school programs. I had fun and did a good thing at the same time!

Campers have their choice of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, or vocals. No experience necessary. On Friday you form a band with a variety of instrumentalists depending on what kind of music you’re interested in playing. There are two sessions of instrument instruction, a couple workshops, and the rest of the time is devoted to band practice. You write a song with your band, and perform it on Sunday. Quick work!

I wanted to do something that I might use in real life, so I opted for vocals. I wanted to improve my singing and presentation skills. Becky wanted to see if there was an inner rocker hiding behind her mandolin (they put her with the guitar class). She was in my band, and we liked her sound so much that she had emergency surgery for her mandolin on Saturday morning and had a pickup installed so we could amp her!

I’ve written a couple songs before, and I’ve had bits of lyrics running through my head for a song called “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away.” We took it and ran with it.

Here’s our band: She Let Her Sassy Out. Hannah on keyboards, Bobbi Sue on drums, Becky on electric mandolin, and me on vocals.

She Let Her Sassy Out

Are we having fun or what?

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(photo courtesy of Teri Untalan, my vocal coach)

The camp showcase was at Mississippi Studios, a local music venue. It was so cool having professional lighting, sound, and roadies. It is amazing how much you can accomplish over one intense weekend; all the bands sounded great! We had fun with “How Can I Miss You” (mp3 link here, if you’re interested). I may have to do this again next year…it’s for a good cause!

It was hard to go back to real life on Monday. But I’m back to knitting this little sweater for Lorajean’s baby girl, due in 8 days. Almost done!

In Threes

I have two design projects to work on, and I’m teaching at Twisted on Saturday. We’re doing entrelac in the round (my Athena Cowl), and blocking. Both classes are full, so we’ll probably do both of them again soon.

What’s up for your weekend?

Fall back…

You’d think that gaining an extra hour would give me some bounce, but I feel like I can’t quite catch up on sleep! I’m tired earlier and wake up earlier than I want to because it’s light outside. Give me another week and I’ll have my act together.

I spent the weekend over on the sunny side of the Cascade Mountains, visiting good friends who have fled the gray rainy side. They’re happily ensconced in their new town. We hiked up Umtanum Creek Canyon on Sunday. The sage looked and smelled wonderful, and the mountains look very different over there.

Umtanum Creek hike

We passed an abandoned homestead, complete with the remains of an apple orchard.

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I wonder what this stone was for?

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The still parts of the creek reflect the mountains, gloriously.

Umtanum Creek hike

There are beaver dams along the creek. Most impressive.

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I had a great time, and it was kind of depressing driving back under the cloud cover into the rain. Sigh.

October is over, and that means it’s time to give away books! Thanks for all your comments. The winners of the 2013 Swish Pattern Collection for KnitPicks are:

purple penguin and Lillian Henegar.

Congratulations! I’ve emailed you your ebooks. I hope you enjoy knitting from them!

In other news, I saw my first Christmas ad on TV last week, the Monday before Halloween. Blergh. But it’s definitely holiday season in the stores already. I was in my local Fred Meyer and saw this:

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I think that’s cheating. Gluing felt reindeer on an acrylic sweater isn’t the same as digging through closets (or thrift stores!) and coming up with the perfect egregious Christmas sweater. And paying $24.99 for the privilege of faking it? Meh.

I just finished a design project and am mailing it off today. Another is gone to the tech editor. And the yarn for a new one just arrived. I’ll start…after I finish a baby sweater for Lorajean’s impending bundle of joy. Two weeks to go! I started to knit a Baby Surprise Jacket, but it just wasn’t speaking to me. Now I’m knitting In Threes by Kelly Herdrich. I’ve knit one of these before, it’s quick and cute.

What’s hot on your needles now? Do you have an “ugly” Christmas sweater? I have a cute one! Picture in December, when it’s seasonally appropriate.