Giving Back

Me and the MR have been traveling a bit. Earlier this month we moved Baby Girl into her townhouse down at school. We’re lucky that she’s only half a days drive from home but with 10 hours round trip, it still makes for a lot of driving.

Since the MR prefers to be behind the wheel, I try to make sure I have a project or two for our days on the road.This last trip to Oregon, I brought along purple yarn for baby hats.

Recently I’d heard about a program educating new parents about the fragile nature of infants. Click For Babies seeks to reduce shaken baby syndrome through awareness.

I love my girls, and I also know how hard it can be to deal with a crying baby when you’re sleep-deprived and haven’t had a minute to yourself in what seems like forever.

I made a hat, a sweater, and a blanket for the MR’s friend at work, and it gave me a great idea. The hat was super-simple to put together. I could take all the bits and pieces of purple yarn from home on our drive and still chit-chat with the MR over endless miles without missing a stitch.

By the time we got home (a short 606 miles back and forth), I had quite a collection going.

I do believe a few flowers are in order to spruce these up a bit. Then I need to figure out where to send them.

I’m finding ways to decrease my stash of yarn and maybe make the world a better place. Wish me luck.

What’s your favorite charity project (knitting or not)?

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Taking It Up a Notch

For years my craft organization has been hit-and-miss. I’d buy some shoes and notice that the box looked pretty cute and put it to use.

While that works fairly well, it’s not a perfect system. Boxes come in all different sizes; nothing matches; it can end up quite a jumble.

But the other day, I was doing a little “window shopping” on Joss & Main—dangerous, I know—and came across some lovely storage options. Artsy with a hit of color; I was smitten.

Maybe I’ll organize yarn in boxes in baskets. There are so many options.

I did hijack one for the French doors by the master bedroom. Sometimes Cocoa can’t be bothered to use the stairs and squeezes under the rails. This is her first stop, and it can take a bit of persuading to get her to the other doors.

When you have a dirty dog, a towel to wipe her off is so helpful.

Keeping dirt off the floors and looking chic—sounds like a win-win to me.

Any organizing tips you’d like to share?

A Look Back at June 2017

I’ve been doing these monthly blog posts forever—or five years, whichever comes first—and I decided it was time to shake things up a little. Sometimes you gotta add a little spice to keep things new and fresh.

OK, so it’s just a collage and numbers, not that exciting, but it’s what we’ve got, so enjoy.

  1. It Doesn’t Look Like Much started the month off with a look at our new kiwi vines. Sadly one has died, but the other two are plugging along—make that one, the other is in dire straights. Remind me not to go out of town when it’s hot, and I’m babying plants. It’s going to be a while before we have vines covering the fence but we have time.
  2. This Old Dog is a sucker for an interesting book. So while I’ve been trying out some new techniques, Interweave had a sale, and I’ve stocked up on a few more. I even shortened the table runner just like the MR suggested.
  3. Clean Up the Mess is never a bad idea—even when it comes to the outdoors. While yes, we did have bits of construction debris, the now-spent lilies looked lovely after I cleaned away the daffodil leaves.
  4. This Old Dog Part II (because once is never enough) had me climbing through the treetops and blowing glass with the MR. Our ornaments turned out wonderfully well. We may have discovered a new pasttime.
  5. What’s That Smell? Why it’s your experiment with patchouli and string, you silly woman. While the delphinium still looks pathetic, our columbine looks much better. A couple flowers can make anything look better, right? And after a week or two outside, it still smells.
  6. That Trickle Down Effect talked about how once you’ve started making changes things just keep going. First I changed the coverlet, then I couldn’t ignore the fact that our sheets were tearing, and so it was new sheets, and then new shams. I’m still waiting for the shams…they’re in the mail. You’ve heard that line. And for inquiring minds, Papa Larry bought his sheets at Lake Havasu Linen Company which is now London Bridge Linen Company. They offer custom sheets. He says they’re pricey but worth it. So now we’ve all weighed in on the matter.
  7. Changing Perspective highlighted carrot leaf bouquets. Yes, you read that right. So much of life is about perspective. You can grumble about the overwintered carrots that are too tough to cut with a knife, or you can decorate your house with them. Your friends will never guess what they are.

And now for all the news that didn’t make it into the blog. We had everyone home along with the MR’s folks for a bit this month.  Baby Girl is off to Europe to study wonderful things till September. And Sweet MIss is starting a new job, moving to a new city, marrying a great guy, and searching for the perfect dress and ceremony site. Lucky us; we get to be part of it all.

MeeMee and Papa are visiting, so we’ve had lazy evenings on the deck playing cards and discussing the mysteries of life, relaxing sunset walks, quick trips across the state, and crazy owl fights. And yes, the deck guys are still working—don’t ask. It’s just another day in the life.

Hope June left you feeling happy and blessed just like us.

 

 

 

 

This Old Dog Part II

Along with pushing myself to learn new techniques in my hobbies, I’ve been pushing myself in other ways. Last weekend was all about stepping outside my comfort zone.

First off, I climbed a 30-foot rock wall, ziplined through giant evergreens, and crossed seemingly endless chasms. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite that death-defying, but it was pretty scary.

My sister-in-law—who is obviously way more adventuresome than I—wanted to do the Zip Wild Challenge Course at Northwest Trek for her birthday. And yes it’s just as terrifying as it sounds; it was also amazingly fun. I spent a few hours in the treetops, pushing myself beyond my capabilites, and laughing with a bunch of great women.

I believe I am the black spot in the very center. Thanks Holly for taking the photos.

That sounds like plenty for one weekend, but that was just the start. I bought the MR a glass blowing class for Valentine’s Day, and it was getting ready to expire. He suggested company would be nice, and I again faced my fears. You see, I’ve always been kind of klutzy. If an accident is going to happen, it’ll probably happen to me. I’ve been known to reach out and touch things without thinking. I came home from my one glass-fusing class with plenty of cuts and burns. But anything for my guy.

So Sunday found us at the Redmond School of Glass ready for our lesson.  We could make a glass float or a glass ornament in whatever color we chose. The instructors demonstrated the steps and then carefully walked each student through the process.

Working counter-clockwise from the top right, first we rolled the molten glass in colored glass, then heated it in the furnace, repeated the process, shaped and blew, and ta-da an ornament was born. The MR took a video of me, so you get his smiley face this time.

Hot? Yes. A little intense? Yes.  Very cool? Yes.

We had a great time. The MR’s first ornament broke as the instructor removed it from the tube, so he got twice the experience. It was a very fun afternoon. And yesterday on the way home from work, the MR picked up these beauties.

I’m not sure if they’ll make it on the tree—it’s always my favorite ones that get broken when it takes a tumble. For now, they’re at home on the dining room table.

What new adventures have you started on?

By the by, we also ran on down to Oregon this week to pick up Baby Girl. Year two of college is over, and she’s home for a minute before heading overseas to study this summer. Enough time to recover from finals, do a little shopping, take some photos for Mom, and laugh at Dad’s jokes. If a week’s all we’ve got, we’ll take it. Fun to have our baby home.

 

 

 

This Old Dog

We’ve all heard the saying:

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

But me and a friend of mine were chit-chatting the other day remembering just how good our little Cocoa-bean was for grumpy old Bogart. He’d never understood the pleasure of a good hello, ear rub, greeting. You could scratch his belly—sure—but he just wanted to play ball or frisbee. All this social stuff was beyond him, until that silly puppy came along and wanted to be petted all the time. In his old age, he decided a little attention could be nice.

All that is a long, round-about way of saying this old crafter can learn a thing or two. You see, I’ve been knitting and crocheting for close to 40 years or more. I’ve made sweaters and snowflakes, hats and mittens, socks and blankets. I’ve got this stuff down, right? But no, people are always coming up with new ideas, new designs, new stitches, new methods, and I don’t want to be left behind.

So I’ve been on a bit of a binge lately—a book buying binge, and I thought I’d share a few of my recent projects.

 

Let’s start with Blueprint Crochet Sweaters by Robyn Chachula. The book came out in 2013, so it’s not new, but I’d checked it out from the library on a whim and been blown away by the patterns. They were just so intriguing. At first glance, I had no idea how they were creating these stitches or how to replicate them.

To be honest, I’m not usually that keen on crochet for sweaters. They tend to be a bit bulkier than I like and just don’t have the drape of a knit garment. But these were very unusual. I loved the cranberry cardigan, and was surprised to learn a whole different type of stitch I’d never heard of. The linked double treble crochet is like the marriage of regular crochet and tunisian crochet. It creates a very nice band with beautiful texture. Coupled with open work crosses, I thought it would make a great summer cadigan for our chilly evenings.

I even had the yarn in my stash—or so I thought. I’d picked up some great bargains at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle a few years back and lost the tag on some tencel/linen in a beautiful red. It was listed online as 1450 yards per skein, so I’d be set. Unfortunately, I somehow had purchased half a skein, so now I have the better part of the front and back of my cardigan done with no sleeves or button band and discontinued yarn.

I’ve been pouting/ I mean thinking about how to proceed, and so the partial sweater has sat on the dining room table for more than a week. We have company coming, so I’ll just have to rip it out. But next time I will weigh that random yarn from my stash to get a better idea of what I’m working with.

Key words, next time, sadly I had another stash issue all at the same time. The lovely cotton table runner I made up is about a foot too short to hang off the ends of the table. Queue more pouting and frustration. I came up with all sorts of ideas. I could buy contrasting yarn, rip out a yard, add a different color for interest, and then finish it off as planned. But my local shop didn’t have any that I thought would work in the right weight, and color, and twist, and material. I told the MR my woes, and he said just make it shorter.

I remember flying into a tizzy when we centered the guest bed under the windows and could no longer open the closet doors. I had visions of adding a panel to make it look like we have three windows over the bed, moving the wall sconces, and maybe adding a new window eventually. The MR suggested tilting the bed just a smidge away from the wall, so you can open the door. Sometimes he’s so smart, and the simple answer is the best.

Back around the holidays, I bought Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchant. If you’re into two-color brioche and you love the idea of patterning with this technique, this is the book for you. Nancy Marchant is a master of this stitch, amazingly creative, and a great teacher. I knitted up a modified Ring of Fire cowl for the shop to show how marrying two very different colors can change the look of each. Using the stitch patterns, I’ve designed a sweater, and many of the people on my Christmas list received mug cozies. I’ll warn you, brioche can be addicting. This is another book that’s been out for awhile, but I think it’s great.

Now, I was surprised to find myself buying A Garden of Shawls by Karen Whooley. But I’d been listening to a podcast (The Yarniacs) and the host told how she’d used a shawl as a blanket when traveling on an airplane. The shawl fit into a sandwich bag and was at the ready in her purse in any situation. A had some laceweight yarn I’d been holding on to, and me and the MR are always on a plane somewhere. Then I listened to another great podcast (Yarn Thing with Marly Bird) interview with Karen Whooley about her new book. She was from the Seattle-area, maybe she’d want to come out to our shop, maybe her shawls were just what I needed.

This is not an amazing technique book; it’s not teaching you a slew of new stitches; it’s a collection of very pretty shawls. I made the Ecliptic in Juniper Moon Farms Findley Dapple (a yarn from my stash that actually had enough yardage). The directions are great and the chart was easy to follow. Now, on my travels, I have a lovely, lightweight shawl to throw on over my sundress to make me church appropriate.

There are at least two other patterns—Enchantment and Briar—that are totally calling my name. How many cathedrals are we going to visit this summer? I’ll need something to cover my shoulders during those starlight dinners.

The last book I’m going talk about today is Self-Striping Yarn Studio by Carol J. Sulcoski. This book is less about new stitches and more about using some of the amazing new yarns to their best advantage. Sulcoski talks about the different types of self-striping yarns and what they mean for you. She discusses common problems, how to solve them, and then offers an array of patterns to showcase these beautiful yarns. Thumbing through the book just now, I saw a sweet baby sweater that I need to make.

I’ve been working on the Hexagon Sweater off-and-on for a bit. I started with some yarn where the repeat was too short and I ended up with hexagons all looking a bit muddled and much the same. Then I moved on to a longer run yarn where the motifs where brown, brown, brown, red, green, green, green, blue… Let’s just say not that appealing.

So when I was visiting Baby Girl back in April, I picked up a skein of Cascade sock yarn at Cozy a new yarn shop in Eugene. This yarn is (like Goldilocks would say) just right. In a variety of colors, each motif is turning out a little different. I decided an allover pattern might be a little much, so I’m using Cedar House sock yarn in a lovely muted rust for the back and sleeves (from Quintessential Knits). Maybe I’ll have this done by the end of the month to show you. I just need to be a little more monogamous in my crafting.

While maybe you don’t have an incredible urge to buy a bunch of knitting or crochet books, I do hope you’ll try something new today. You can listen to a new podcast, read a new blog, try a new recipe, walk a new path, shake things up a little.

Tried anything new lately?

For the local yarn shop tour, I added something new to my resume and designed a shawlette. I was rather pleased with the results. The Shoulder Stripe Shawlette pattern is available on Ravelry or at Quintessential Knits here in little old Duvall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duvall Bag Ladies

I’m super excited to share this post with you today. We have bag ladies in Duvall.

Now you may be saying, “Kim homelessness is nothing to get excited about. Let’s have some compassion.” And I’d totally agree with you, because it’s not those kind of bag ladies. Sandy, a local woman and recent retiree, saw stories of women recycling plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. I saw those stories too and said wow, isn’t that nice. But the difference between Sandy and me is that she decided to mobilize local efforts and take on this problem as well. She is a woman of action.

She talked to the local grocery stores to gather bags from their recycle bins. She contacted the local yarn shop—Quintessential Knits—and has enlisted willing volunteers to crochet mats. At the store, she has a basket of prepared bag yarn ready to be crocheted up. And she has friends who work with the homeless at local camps and in the soup kitchens who are able to distribute the finished sleeping mats.

So last Tuesday, I came home from knit group with a bag of plastic yarn and a mission. The first set of mats will be handed out this week.

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I went through my drawer of bags and whipped up some yarn of my own. The mats are light-weight and compact. And the store bags add color and interest.

bl-bag-close-up

While I’m opposed to plastic bags in general; let’s face it; they’re everywhere. It takes about 600 bags to make one mat. Maybe these mats will keep at least a few from blowing around parking lots and polluting our oceans. And perhaps they’ll give homeless people a bit of comfort knowing someone cared enough to make one just for them.

You can find out more information about the Duvall Bag Ladies by contacting Sandy at DuvallBagLadies @gmail.com

When Sweet Miss was in high school, she was part of the Random Acts of Kindness club, and they had t-shirts saying “Be the Difference You Want to See in the World.” That’s a wonderful saying to take to heart.

How are you making a difference in the world?

By the way, Baby Girl did make it back to school yesterday. The snow and ice that hit Oregon over the weekend left many travellers stranded. When Portland and Eugene airports closed, one of BG’s friends wound up at SeaTac, so she even had company on the road. Hoping for safe travels for all the kids going back to school.

And Then There Was June

I was at a BBQ last weekend when a friend asked how it was going with Baby Girl home from college. Well honey that’s just the start. June has been a month of changes around here. Not tear off the lower deck, reside the girls’ wing, resurface the floors, move tons of dirt and build retention walls changes.

It’s the MR takes a four-month leave of absence from work, it’s celebrate Sweet Miss’ graduation from college, it’s welcome Baby Girl home from her freshman year away at school, and enjoy two weeks of company kind of change. My day times of solitude have turned into a houseful overnight. Oh, and did I mention Cocoa doesn’t quite know how to behave like a dog now that she’s an only? She doesn’t want to hunt mice on her own; I have to show her how to fetch the ball. Sleeping alone is scary, and are you sure 2:30 isn’t an appropriate time to get up for the day?

Maybe that’s why I’ve only posted a few times this month. I was thinking about it. The blog is really my “thing”, so I try not to let it impact the family too much. I usually take pictures and write posts when the MR is at work and the girls are at school or off with friends. Suddenly, with so much family time, I need to rethink my schedule. It’s all an adjustment. And to be honest, I’m really happy not to have work men here all hours of the day and night. It’s nice to just be family.

So here’s the wrap up of our June.

We started the month of with Sweet Red Gems (more prosaically known as currants) and ended the month with a whole bevy of fruit in Garden & Orchard Updates.  We’ve eaten currants and chicken, currant shortbread bars, currant crisp, and I’m still dreaming of those currant chocolate cupcakes—I have a thing for chocolate. I do believe my family may be getting tired of currants. Don’t worry, we have apples, and plums, and blueberries to come.

Garden Plums & Valley

Me and the MR’s folks even made it to the berry farm down the road for some luscious raspberries. Lemon-currant-raspberry popsicles are on the menu. And the tiny baby beets I saved from critters were quite tasty in last night’s salad. Remember when I talked about the seed exchange and the farmer who grew giant, striped pumpkins? Well, that just might be in our future, too.

J Pumpkin Starts

While this house is open, and pretty, and comfortable inside, our eyes are constantly drawn to the outside, to the view, to the mountains, and trees, and river with its valley. That’s why I post pictures of Summer Storms, and clouds, and birds, and sunsets.

Storm Rainbow

And that’s one reason why we spend so much time out on the deck, The MR bought some new outdoor seating, and I added A Little Color, a Little Softness in the form of pillows. I know I promised a tutorial. Instead, it was so easy, I was inspired to buy more fabric for more pillows. A tutorial is in the future; hold your horses.

Outdoor Seating 2

I thought my sewing was going to be limited to pillows for a while, but no. Remember the blanket I made for Sweet Miss? (Check out A Piece of My Heart.) Her blanket looks lovely.

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Her blanket was in response to the one I made for Baby Girl when she graduated from high schoo. This blanket looks well loved. It’s supposed to symbolize a hug from home, so I guess she missed me now and then.

J Blanket Collage

I bought some more yarn and will be seaming the hexagons together this time. Sweet Miss’ blanket is mostly wool and made up of smaller motifs, so I’m hoping it’ll stand up better to use.

And finally, I shared some weeds from my yard in Simply Pretty.

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I remember when me and the MR moved into our first house. We met the older lady who lived across the street and I complimented her on the stand of pink flowers growing next to the mailboxes in her yard. She tossed my compliment aside and said she called them Myong’s weeds. She’d received some from another neighbor and they were trying to take over. We’ve had poppies scattered across the back yard in stands, crocosmia clumps spreading next to the fence, and yes, Myong’s weeds (better known as rose campion) filling in neglected corners. I saw some campion at the top of the driveway; maybe I’ll add some more beatuiful weeds to the meadow.

Early this month, we were focused on visiting Sweet Miss and celebrating her graduation along with The Fella’s.

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We really are quite proud of these two. It’s been four years of hard work, and they have a bright future ahead of them.

While Sweet Miss has been exploring Scandanavia with a high school chum, Baby Girl has been taking classes and found a summer job. The MR has lots of projects for his time off, and I’ve been working on all sorts of things on the agenda.

It’s been a good month.

How was your June?