Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Bingo | Mid-summer Update.

my card this morning...diligent planning and tracking!
...I hope y'all are having as much fun with this game as I am. I told my mom earlier this week that I don't think I've read this much - and certainly not enjoyed it this much - since those long ago summers when I was a kid and would visit the library, bring home stacks of books, read them all...and then repeat the process over and over.

Since we started (May 24), I've finished 20 books.

You can see all the details on my Summer Bingo shelf, including the four I plan to finish to cover my card. Well, except for the re-read...I'm still undecided about it! I loved the suggestions of Snow Falling on Cedars and Memoirs of a Geisha, but decided to hold off until the powerful Japan/WWII themes of The Garden of Evening Mists weren't quite so fresh in my mind. Rebecca was also suggested and that is a strong contender, along with Pete Hamill's Snow in August. If I keep up my current pace, I'll have time for both!

I've been surprised not only by the quantity of books, but also the quality. Of the twenty I've read, five have been 5-star, 14 have been 4-star (and a number of those are really 4.5 stars); only one has been a disappointment (Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With for the "Set in the place where you live" square). Here are some more fun facts:

  • I renewed my library card and four of the titles were library books (well, two were books and two were on CDs)
  • I used the Librivox app to listen to The Importance of Being Earnest (the "A play" square). Totally plan to use this app a lot more! It's so easy...and it's free!
  • I bought only two books - Mary Oliver's A Thousand Mornings (the "Poetry collection" square) and Life After Life (the "Recommended by a librarian" - thank you, Carole! - square) - but they were books I wanted to own and would've bought anyway.
  • I borrowed two - Shopgirl (the "A novella" square) from Sara and Farewell, Dorothy Parker (the "Found in a used bookstore" square) from my mom (who did find it in a used bookstore, promise!)
  • All the rest were already on my shelves: five "real" books, six audiobooks and four e-books.
  • Two books at once (one to listen and one to read) works great. I finished an audiobook on Monday and it seems very weird to be listening to podcasts again. 
  • I'm way way behind on TV. I realized I was watching a lot to keep me company while I knit...and now I'm listening to books instead. I think that's good!

I'd love to hear how y'all are doing. Remember, you have until September 1 (the few "rules" are covered in my first post here). Please let me know if you have questions or comments. Happy Reading!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ten on Tuesday | Again (and again).

...this week, Carole's asked us to share the knitting patterns we'd choose to knit again (and again). I was just teasing Kym about when she was going to knit a second Color Affection and it got me thinking about the patterns I've knit - and/or hope to knit - more than once:
the sixteen projects featured in these photos are all examples of the eight favorites (#2-10) below
1. February Lady Sweater. I've knit this three times and I have to say it was a great knit...five years ago. Now, not so much. Until I have a granddaughter and I'll knit her Elizabeth Zimmerman's original February Baby Sweater.

2. Clapotis. Also a three-timer. And another one I probably won't make again...because for diagonal lace, I much prefer the

3. Churchmouse Diagonal Lace Scarf. I knit four of these for our trip to Florence in May...and I'm still not sick of the pattern! It works for any yarn and once you get the gist of the lace it's a great social project.

4. Traveling Woman. I've finished four; two for gifts and two for me. The first one was for me and was one of the (or maybe the) first KALs we did at the shop back in spring 2010; I've worn it out. I knit the second one for myself in 2012 to kick off my "Saturday lace" class. I knit the third and fourth this past spring for prayer shawls. Obviously, this is one of my favorite shawl patterns. It's now my go-to for a friend who needs a warm hug...and I totally want to make one for myself in laceweight with the eyelets in the stockinette body section.

5. Color Affection. I've knit this twice, once in fingering and once in laceweight and I still have both...and wear them all the time. Something about all that garter stitch, and choosing the three complementary colors makes me a happy knitter.

6. Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho. I've made two and the second, in linen, is one of the most favorited projects I have on Ravelry. I can't wait to make another one (next up is definitely going to be for winter. maybe with the cowl neck).

7. Shibui's Mix No. 9. This was another shop KAL. We hosted a Shibui trunk show in early 2012 and that cowl was huge hit. So many people loved it and bought yarn (and it's not a little bit of yarn - if I recall something like 5 skiens of Staccato and 3 of Silk Cloud?) we felt obligated to be sure everyone finished their projects. I loved mine. so I knit a second one for Katie last Christmas with a different mix but the same stitch pattern. I'm sure Sara needs one too (in a cozy mostly alpaca blend :-) 

8. Churchmouse's Basic Socks. I taught a sock class back in 2010 and wrote up my own vanilla recipe; I wish I'd had this pattern then! Marc and Rob have the heavier weight version (knit with worsted weight they are perfect for a man's foot), as does Sara (in the suggested Rowan Felted Tweed...perfect for Madison house socks). Katie has a pair of the fingering weight and Sara will have two...once I finish WIP's. My latest pair incorporates Carole's Picot Edge...and I think it might be my favorite so far.

9. Churchmouse Bias Before & After Scarf. I've knit this twice. Both times for me. and I doubt anyone who wasn't a knitter could tell they were the same pattern. My first attempt mixed a skein of Claudia Handpaint's Linen with 2 skeins of Rowan's Panama and the second (the Traveling Scarf in the top photo) was most of a skein of Juniper Moon Farm's Findley. I love the versatility and the layerability. and the zen of short stockinette rows. I also have the yarn to knit one to layer with that Findley one (soon!)

10. Churchmouse Linen Stitch Scarf. oh man, I'm surprised this is gonna make the list. but it is. I've knit it twice (and just gifted both scarves to a friend who LOVED them...and moved to North Carolina) and when Claudia (the Claudia. Handpaint's Claudia) visited the shop in March, she signed three skeins for my next one. It's a classic. and while it's certainly a pain to knit (and to keep up with the fringing ends!) it's a stunning piece. 

hummmm...almost all accessories and Churchmouse plays the leading role. Shibui - in my mind at least! - plays a close second. There was certainly a time in my knitting life where it was all "life is too short, I can't possibly knit the same thing twice" (let alone three or four or five?? times)...but looking back at this list, and those last eight patterns... I realize my perspective has changed. I love having a short list of go-to great patterns. I'd like to add a hat or two...and a baby item or two...and I'd be set.

Can't wait to see what everyone else shares!


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Monday, July 28, 2014

Hello Monday!

...and Hello Last Week of July! (yikes, already?!)
(from yesterday's evening walk)

Not to short-change the weekend; except for a bit of car trouble (which has me temporarily driving a sporty red hybrid hatchback), it was filled with all the good stuff. There was a phonecall with Sara (finally) and it was wonderful to hear her voice - and picture her in her apartment. There was knitting. I started three projects...and spent a good bit of time on Ravelry thinking about warm things for Sara and cute things for babies. There was reading. I am just a few pages shy of finishing Orange is the New Black. There were steps; a Saturday morning run with Lauren and a Sunday morning walk with Katie. There was TV; Marc and I caught up on Season 2 of Masters of Sex (I love that show). There were two so-so movies (Gravity and What to Expect When You're Expecting - I'd give them both about 3 out of 5 stars). ...and there was sleep. Two nights in a row.

I've got a long to-do list in my head. Need to get it down on paper. and then get to it. Hello Monday!

Have a great week!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five on Friday.

...whoa, I can't believe it's Friday already. I'm still playing catchup with my life, and feeling oddly disconnected from myself. But I didn't want to let too much time pass without even a brief visit here. And Five on Friday seems like just the thing!

The days are getting noticeably shorter. Sunrise is now closer to 7am than to 6. But it made for a stunning view at the park when Katie and I walked this morning.

That was our second walk of the week and my third workout at the park; Lauren and I ran a good four miles there on Tuesday. Holly and I also made a "forced march" (that's what my friends have taken to calling the long walks I take with Holly; she makes it about a mile on her own and then I carry her the rest of the way) yesterday. And there was a five-plus mile hill run on Monday with my running group. Feeling good about all the fresh air and the time that's allowed for catching up with my friends. My fitbit has had a good week!

My bingo card is filling up; three bingo's so far! I'm midway through two more books that will give me two more, and then I only have four books left to fill my card. Details coming next week, I promise. But in the meantime, one of the four remaining is a "Re-read" and I'm stuck on what to choose. Any recommendations?

I have yet to visit the classroom for the Phone Photography 2 class that began last week. Margene is also taking the class and - unlike me! - has done several of the lessons. Her photographs are amazing! I can't wait to get started.

But first, I've got two knitting projects to start. First up, the new KAL at the shop starts this afternoon. We're knitting Shallows and I'm using Shibui Cima+Silk Cloud... sounds like heaven to knit. And shortly thereafter (as in I hope to swatch this evening), I'm finally succombing to one of the shop newsletter projects. I feel pretty good that I've written half a dozen newsletters and this is the first one I'm unable to resist (or maybe that just means I'm not that good at the newsletter?!) In any event, the pattern is Julie Hoover's Insouciant and I'm completely smitten. Seams and all. I'm going to use the pattern suggested Habu Tsumugi Silk, color still TBD. There's also one more thing in the wings, am I'm excited to tell y'all about it...but it needs a post of its own. Stay tuned.

So there you have it. Reading over what I've just written it seems like there is a bit of normal starting to peek through. That feels good. And it's Friday. Happy Weekend!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Moving to Madison.

...whoa. I never imagined it would be a week before I could post...but the internet was just installed Saturday. and we had things to do ... like make a very last-minute appearance at her company picnic! yep, I got to see her office and the rest of the Epic campus from the inside (2 dots on my fitbit!). Sara's team is located in the lower level of The Barn (part of Farm Campus which is three buildings - the  Barn, the Stables and the Shed). It's decorated in a farm theme on the inside, too. There are sheep that apparently move to new spots each night and a conference room with cowhide upholstery on the chairs. Here's her building

and Sara's office (she shares with another new hire).

and then it was Sunday. I started writing this sitting at the airport (with a glass of wine and a most sympathetic bartender) with the idea I'd post before my flight...and then as soon as we landed. And now it's Monday. I'm back at my kitchen counter. I still haven't written much. So I'm just going to share a few more photos and trust that I'll find my voice soon enough.

Sara's apartment is just off Monroe Street in a neighborhood her company orientation calls "yuppie". fair assessment. and honestly great for this mama to imagine when I'm not there. The building is brand new (hence the delay in internet ... I'm not sure anyone else in the building has internet either). She's on the third floor with a through-the-trees and south-facing lake view. I took these photos yesterday morning. This is the view from Sara's back porch.

And here's the inside. This is the main living room (the kitchen is off to the left).


We hung a few pictures yesterday morning, including these prints of cities Sara's visited. These are on the wall behind the dining table.

Here's the kitchen.

and the bathroom (with another picture we hung yesterday).

(sorry, no photos of the bedroom...Sara hasn't quite gotten everything together there!)

We went out for brunch yesterday...and I'm delighted I have a smiling two-of-us to share.

It was a full week. I'm glad I was there to help her unpack and settle in. even just a little bit. Madison is a great town and Epic seems like a great company. I'm planning another trip back in February. We'll see how I handle the snow!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It's a Baby Shower.

...celebrating Katie and little baby T. Four of Katie's girlfriends threw her a shower this past weekend. It was perfectly delightful. This umbrella was featured on the invitation and the scorecard for the game.

I'm so glad shower games have progressed beyond the "guess how big around she is" and "guess how much she weighs" games we played at my showers! Instead we played along with Katie as she tried to guess how Rob answered 14 questions ranging from "how many diapers will the baby go through in a day?" (10 they both said), "will the baby have lots of hair, no hair or some hair?" (lots they both said) and my favorite one of all "which trait of Katie's do you hope the baby gets?" (her smile! how sweet!)

I didn't take any photos of the gifts, but we all ooh'ed and ahh'ed over cute, practical, fun and handmade. Not counting Sara (who gave Katie handknit tend gifts before she left), there were seven knitters represented (I think) and my sister-in-law quilts, too. I counted four hats, including a game day white and gold striped cap, two sweaters (one from me), a toy pig and a play quilt.

For decorations, they used baby photos from Katie and Rob.


I think "lots of hair" was a pretty good guess...Rob had really blond hair as a baby, but there was still plenty of it!

They also hung newborn onesies. It's hard to believe a tiny person will be wearing those is just two months.

The food was delicious. Vegetables and hummus, fruit and cheese, pimiento cheese sandwiches, sweet potato biscuits and savory cheese scones...and strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting. 

Here's Katie with the hostesses. 
left to right: Aubrey (she's due 12 days before Katie), Cady, Katie, Christa (holding 3-1/2 month old Mira who is actually a very happy baby but we interrupted her feeding time for the photo), and Katie. 

and with me.

...and a few peeks at the little sweater I knit. The first of many, I'm sure.


The pattern is Melissa LeBarre's Sweetest Thing. I used Berroco Vintage and three baby Yellow Jacket buttons. Not only is this baby going to have all the handknits, he's gonna be quite the Yellow Jacket...fourth generation perhaps!?

It was all a lot of fun and I am so glad I got to share the celebration with Katie, her friends and mine. 

(and now I'm in Madison...stay tuned for more "moving to Madison" posts...soon!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Prettiest Ever.

...today's photo prompt is "I never..." At this point, it seems most of my "nevers" are either life choices or bucket list items that I'm unlikely to check off on a random Tuesday in July. But I had the distinct pleasure yesterday to show off my completed Through the Loops Mystery Shawl... and I have to say, I've never knitted anything prettier.
Raveled here
The shawl pattern was released in five segments ("clues" to those familiar with "mystery" knit alongs) and we didn't know until the fifth clue was released on June 29 how it would look in the end. This is my third time knitting one of Kirsten's lace shawls and I was expecting it to be good. She surpassed my expectations. The clues flowed seamlessly and built to a stunning conclusion. This is my first crocheted border and maybe that's why I'm so smitten with the little loops?

I used a linen yarn (my first time with Quince & Company's Sparrow - a new yarn for the shop this summer); blocked, it's a little bit crisp, but still drapes. I think it's going to hold its shape well, which is good since I think I'll be able to wear this piece well into the fall.

And just one more note about my process. The knit-along started June 1 and new clues came out every Sunday in June. I started off with a bang, but sizzled out when I left the project at home while Sara and I were in Madison. The second clue took me a while and I kept putting off catching up, until I saw the finished shawls...which amazingly started to appear on Ravelry just a few hours after Kirsten released that last clue! I worked through Clue 3 in bits and pieces last week and then powered through Clues 4 and 5 Saturday and Sunday. Turns out lace knitting is good company while you're stalking your iPhone for travel updates*! I finished Sunday afternoon and then spent another hour plus weaving in ends and blocking. Clearly I could've kept up and been an early finisher, but I love that this shawl now holds memories of this past weekend.

...having typed all this, I realize I did have two other "nevers" - that crocheted border and the linen yarn. Small in the big scheme of things, but making me happy nonetheless. I love new things. which...I guess are just "nevers" in reverse!

*p.s. to everyone who sent along good wishes and/or left comments about Sara's move. I am beyond delighted to report that she made the trip safely and without incident. Her first day of work (yesterday) was "great". She said 514 (!!!) employees started along with her and it appears Epic does have on-boarding down to a science. I'll be there for the company picnic next Saturday and can't wait to report back. The menu options were lobster, steak and vegetarian. I chose vegetarian. (Marc was pleased that the company appears to be doing well :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Safe Travels.

...the view from my driveway about 9:25 this morning.

I posted the photo on Instagram along with the (only slightly) tongue in cheek comment that I hoped Siri had a good night's rest last night. She'll be giving Sara turn by turn directions and sending me texts about every two hours or when a new state comes up. Her last text was from Kentucky. Then there's a good stretch through Indiana before she makes a hard left turn into Illinois to spend the night in Champaign. Tomorrow's drive is - thankfully - a lot shorter.

Since she left, I've walked Holly to the lake (a little over an hour's walk), run with Lauren (about three miles), taken a 75 minute yoga class and been to Costco (for a case of wine and a few other things :-) Tonight Marc and I are going out for dinner with a few friends (celebrating our return to empty nesters!). Yes, I'm planning to keep myself super-busy for the next few days to ease the emptiness. 

She moved out of her college apartment exactly two months ago. Even optimistic me couldn't have imagined then that today she'd be headed out by herself, for a new adventure...in a state I'd never visited. I am so very grateful for all the time we got to spend together; oh my we made some wonderful memories (and we even have great photos to show for it)! And I'll see her again in nine days...

Safe travels, Sara - and if anyone else is reading this post over the weekend, I'd love for you to add your best good wishes onto mine. Thank you!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Looking Back | June.

...a quick look back at the month of June through the lens of my daily photos (again with fatmumslim's daily prompts).


::I think I got all the colors of the rainbow this month! it's easy when the sky is blue, the flowers are blooming...and I'm knitting colors.
::mixed reviews on getting out and about - six of the photos are from Madison (or en route), but with the exception of the Starbucks cup (near the shop) and the Sara family celebration (two weeks ago Saturday), every other photo was taken at home or in my neighborhood. Thank goodness for walking Holly or I probably wouldn't even be out "in my neighborhood".
::finally, people, even me!

Taking a closer look:
::Knitting (8 photos!) - the Through the Loops Mystery Shawl and Ravello clearly dominated (and will likely continue this month since both are still in progress) and one FO, my Traveling Scarf.
::From Where I Stand (1 photo) - and a special one since those are Sara's feet along with mine, out for an evening walk with Holly.
::Other Selfies (2 photos) - but giving myself extra credit anyway since one is a full-length mirror shot and the other shows my head. Note that I'm not counting the bit of feet and fingers that show up behind books and knitting.
::Holly (2 photos) - wow. only two.
::Food & Drink (4 photos) - thank goodness one of them's a salad!
::Sky (5 photos) - clouds, sunrises and sunsets. I'm not sure if this is a new thing or if the prompts made it more likely. July will tell!

And notable for their absence:
::Porch Views - too hot!
::One Little Word and Project Life - I'm finding that taking more time here, and really getting back into my daily journaling routine has left little time for those projects. I am still on board with my word, but Project Life not so much. (more on that to come, I guess!)

I'm interested to see what July will bring. I've got another week in Madison, plenty of knitting and reading (maybe even more?) and full-on summer. I hope the photos tell a great story!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One-word Wednesday | Progress.

Ten on Tuesday | Celebrating the Fourth.

...Carole's prompt this week asks us to share our ideas for celebrating July 4th. I love this holiday - it's one every American celebrates together and it comes in summertime. But it's usually a low-key day for us, and will likely be even more-so this year since it's Sara's last day here (and she has a "big drive" ahead of her on Saturday and Sunday). In any event, here are ten of my favorite ways to wish our country Happy Birthday!
This is from July 4, 2009; Katie and I enjoyed a picnic in Central Park (only a short bus-ride from her then-very-new apartment!).

1. A picnic in the park. I certainly enjoyed ours in Central Park and look forward to sharing one with Sara in Wingra Park...maybe next year?!

2. Fireworks. I love them, but wow it gets dark late on July 4...and Holly hates the noise. So the best I usually manage is the Capitol Fourth on TV. (note that it doesn't even cross my mind to set off our own fireworks :-)

3.  A bike parade. Years ago, we would take the girls to visit my parents the week after the 4th. The drive there that morning took us through a really cute small town in southern Alabama and we'd see the kids riding their bikes, all decked out in red, white and blue. It's a sweet memory and a great way to get everyone involved.

4. The Peachtree Road Race. An Atlanta tradition and I finally joined in last year. It was a blast and I hope to do it again next year. This year I'm going to have to be satisfied with a shorter, hopefully cooler, run on my own.

5. A cookout. Hamburgers and hotdogs, watermelon, cole slaw and potato salad. Our new house doesn't have a grill (yet?!) but I think we might try some version of this classic American meal anyway.

6. A John Adams marathon on TV. We really enjoyed this series...so much that we bought the DVD's. I think we could certainly manage a few episodes (unless there's soccer on!)

7. A flag cake. You know the one I mean - a white sheet cake or a big sugar cookie with cream cheese frosting and strawberries or raspberries for the stripes and blueberries for the stars. 

8. Washington DC or Boston. I think I would love to see that Capitol Fourth concert in person, but the Boston Pops is a close second. (or maybe this is one of those crazy thoughts like seeing the Macy's Parade in person on Thanksgiving?!)

9. A red, white and blue outfit.

10. Golf. this one's for Marc. I don't think he's missed this chance to play 18 holes on a weekday since we stopped taking the girls to my folks (#3 above...I'm guessing it's been 15+ years). And I'd be lying if I said I didn't love the free time it gives me in the morning. 

How about y'all - how do you like to celebrate this holiday?
 
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