15 January 2017

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - Milwaukee!

Maybe going to Milwaukee for the weekend when the temperature hovered around zero Fahrenheit was not the best planning, but other than the stark cold the weather was nice: clear and sunny.  People were in a good mood because the Packers (boooo!) are in the playoffs.  All the travel items were cheap because of the time of year (even with the Packers being in the playoffs).  And I am a hardy person.

Because Southwest doesn't fly to or from Milwaukee on Saturdays, at least not to or from my town, I went on Friday evening and home on Sunday, perfect excuse for a weekend away.  Arriving on Friday I went immediately to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which had a Free First Friday (now moved to Thursdays) event.  I wanted to arrive for the gallery talk for "Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s" and was not impressed with the talk but did enjoy the exhibit.  Then wandered the museum to see as many others as I could before being thrown out when it closed.

Because I was hungry (there's a cafe at the museum but why waste time eating when there is art to see?) I located a nearby Culver's and obtained a fish sandwich (because it's Friday!) and concrete (peaches and blueberries).  I ate most of the latter while waiting for my sandwich.  Then to the hotel to check in, settle in the room, eat supper, and bedtime!

The hotel had a nice breakfast buffet included in the room price, and while the teens and tweens filled up on waffles I fortified myself with oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit, and hardboiled eggs.  With an apple and banana in my pocket, I headed out for adventures!

The Milwaukee County Historical Society staff was still setting up their new exhibit, "Melodies and Memories: 200 Years of Milwaukee Music", but they allowed me inside and it was quite interesting.  The museum is in a former bank, so some permanent exhibits are in the old vaults.  I've been in spaces with partially-installed exhibits so I know how to stay out of the way, and was able to watch as they did things like moving a piano into one of the vaults which was being set up for small concerts.

When I was done there I walked to the Grohmann Museum, crossing the Milwaukee River and wondering whether it's firmly frozen enough for people to skate upon.  There was a small outdoor rink on one bank, with a couple of hardy skaters moving slowly around.

The museum opened at noon, and it wasn't quite that, so to keep warm I walked around campus looking at other buildings, many from the brewers of the area, Pabst and Blatz.  When the museum opened, I had a fascinating couple of hours moving from top to bottom (at the recommendation of the student who admitted me, and advised that the rooftop gallery was closed but I could see it from the hallway) looking at "the world’s most comprehensive art collection dedicated to the evolution of human work."  The works are in groupings with very useful information cards, and range from agricultural to scientific to industrial, and in media ranging from sculpted bronze to paintings to a floor mosaic and ceiling mural.

I headed back to the hotel after this, because I wanted to drive to the next stop.  Of course, I had to first stop at The Spice House and do a bit of shopping!  I also stopped at the Usinger's store across the way, but without a way to cook I didn't buy anything.

It was a quick drive to The Pabst Mansion, which was still decorated for the holidays.  No photography allowed, but we could wander throughout and ask questions of staff and volunteers stationed on each floor.  They had recently opened the third floor, which had been offices, and are in the process of restoring the rooms.  We could see where they had taken down some later-added molding, or a mirror, and found original wallpaper behind it.

On the way back to my hotel I stopped at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, which was also walking distance from my hotel, but since I could find a parking spot, I decided to skip the cold walk.  I bought several pieces of cheese (and tasted many more), and two kringles, and some toasted barley.  Then I moved to the connected bar for a brat (of course on a pretzel roll, with mustard and sauerkraut) and a Sprecher's root beer.  I was tempted by one of the many local beers or cider on tap, but had further plans for the evening and I am too much of a lightweight to risk it.

My plans involved a local holiday show, still running.  Since I go to so many quirky ones in Dallas every year (The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents: A Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker!Santa Claus versus The Martiansand others) when I saw a listing for In Tandem Theater's 
Holiday Hell: The Curse of Perry Williams it settled what I would do on Saturday night.  I scored a seat in the middle of the second row, and really enjoyed the show.  Five persons portrayed all the characters, which covered a wide range, and even though the ending was holiday-predictable it was a very fun show.

After another good night's sleep and another fortifying breakfast, I checked out and my friend Tori picked me up for a bit of visiting.  We went to the Milwaukee Public Market (where The Spice House has an outpost) for lunch, and then to the Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear, which Tori had never seen.  We got there in time for a tour, and enjoyed it so much we're planning to go back after a couple of the exhibits change in April.  Having worked up a bit of thirst walking around, we split a butterscotch root beer, which I had never heard of, but enjoyed.

Tori dropped me back at the car park, and I headed for a brief visit with Mari, whom I had met through KnitTalk, and her husband Scott.
We're wrapped in a scarf made of squares that various KnitTalk
members created when Mari first was diagnosed with cancer
many years ago.  The purple/pink flower in front of me is mine!

Then to the airport, where I had a long wait due to a delayed flight.  The delay meant a negative-minutes connection, so I could not check bags and had to consolidate to two.  I had just enough room to do it, but had to wear my winter boots (I wanted to switch to sneakers for the flight) and could hope the kringles didn't get crushed.  Happily, Southwest holds flights when it's the only (it was) or last (ditto) one of the day, so I got home just a bit late.

When I totaled up the adventures, I calculated that even without pushing myself to add activities I managed to fit 
five museums, four shops, three eating places, two friends, and one theatre show into forty-eight hours.  Plus of course a bit of walking, knitting, reading, and relaxing.  Not bad!

On the trip and in the week since I've been knitting pussyhats for people to wear at the various marches and rallies.  I managed to score some pink yarn at the end of last year, and managed to dye a sample skein for a class I am teaching today that came out in a brilliant, and quite hat-acceptable, shade of pink.  Luckily these are quick items to create!

01 January 2017

Resolutions, and all that New Year's stuff

I'm always a bit ambivalent about making resolutions, since it seems so trite.  Plus, doing them in public - which some say you should do to ensure success, because of accountability - triggers the dilemma of whether to do small, easy ones that you know you'll accomplish, or big ones that make you look ambitious and impressive, or reverse ones so you'll psych yourself out.

So, here's mine:
  • I will knit one item for charity every month.  Maybe (OK, likely) more, but at least one.
  • I will try to finish the two shawls for me that have been OTN for over a year each.
  • I will try to write on this blog at least once a month.  I know I've said this one before, and not achieved it, but I'm no quitter so I'll make this resolution again until I succeed!
One convenient element is that if I track how I am doing on this blog, I'll have achieved the third item and quite likely the other two.

I do have other plans.  I'm going to be traveling, and I can blog about that.  I should have blogged about some of last year's trips, but I always seem to be having too much fun experiencing the trip and don't make time after to blog.  I'll try to change that, but no promises.

I'm involved in two book groups, and talked one into reading the same book in January that the other one had picked, so I only have to read it once!  It's Hidden Figures and should be fascinating on so many levels.  Some of us are going to see the film but promised to read and talk about the book for the book clubs.  I'm going to try to find something in the book that is not in the film, or is different, and raise that as a discussion item.

Rebecca and I have talked (very quickly) about cooking out of old cookbooks and blogging about it. Rebecca said she wants to do a meal each month from Christine Terhune Herrick's Liberal Living Upon Narrow Means from 1890 and I thought it would be fun to do as well.  I have many older cookbooks, and as some of you know, have cooked full meals from a collection of sources, but I haven't done a meal from a single source just to cook a meal.  This will be fun!  Watch both of us blog about our experiences.  I'm not making it a resolution because since we're on a friendly challenge, it is already a commitment.

Now, if you want to make "serious" resolutions, go ahead.  Based upon a couple of pictures circulating on Facebook, I've decided to add a few.

One is to review this list monthly, and decide if anything has changed:

A second is to try to do this:

And a third is to try keeping a diary.  I'm not a diarist or a journaling person or whatever, possibly because I think that I live an excessively boring life to the point that I don't want to read about it, so I see no reason to write about it.  But I can write down things that happen, and maybe one of them will end up as that week's drop in the jar.

Before this gets only aspirational, I'll close with this, my contribution to this morning's monthly First Sunday brunch: "Champagne" (because I used a dry sparking wine, and true Champagne comes only from the Champagne region of France - and did you know the industry was saved by a woman?) cupcakes:
Luckily, the group isn't one that goes on ascetic diets on January 1st.  The cupcakes are sprayed with edible silver color or gold mist for some added festivity.  The tag warns that they are full of all the kinds of things people give up at New Year's: gluten, alcohol, butter, sugar.  That didn't stop people from eating them!

I hope you have a good 2017.  I am going into it with a positive attitude - there are many reasons to be worried about the year, but I believe that each of us has the power to make things change.  Whether we band together, or work individually, creating good in the world and working towards changes that need to happen may be the best resolution of all.

25 September 2016

When the cat decides, and putting a scarf on a tank.

I decided I'd try to blog at least once a month, and of course the month has been busy.  Among other (non-job) things:

And of course, a certain amount of travel.  I managed to connect a business trip to the North Carolina Opera premiere of "Das Rheingold", which was the first time the opera had been performed in the Southeastern USA since it premiered 147 years ago.  And although not fully staged, it was quite a wonderful production - and I've seen a lot of operas, a lot of Wagner, and several Ring Cycles.  The benefit of a partial staging is that the performers and characters and story really get to shine.

I've decided not to enter the Berlin Fair this year, but I will work on a couple of projects with an eye towards next year.  I was thinking of being on a retreat that weekend, then some other things came up, and I'll be traveling elsewhere.  Either way, it complicates the dropoff, or pickup, or both.

I finished the last set of blankets for my niece's birthday gift, and when I counted I realized I made one more than needed (she's 16, I made 17 total), but I had been having fun playing with yarn and of course they were handy sizes to carry around and work on whenever.
I'd made another in these colours, and
had plenty of yarn left for a second one.

Basic diagonal pattern, different yarns.

This one is based on the Ten-Stitch pattern

This extra number came in handy because my niece's cat decided that one of the blankets is HERS.

I also made pieces for the Sherman Tank at the WWII Museum in New Orleans.  They asked people to make pieces of a certain size and yarn and colours to celebrate the Knit Your Bit 10th Anniversary on September 17th, at which they gave scarves to veterans.  (They distribute scarves regularly, and have established local outposts to shorten the travel.)  I was going to make one piece, but someone posted about doing one in every colour, and I managed to find all of them (some stores had sold out), so I did also.
The pieces I made - US#35 needles!

Museum staff model the finished scarf.

The Sherman Tank with its scarf.  Booyah!

Now I'm working on baby blankets.  Which I decided to do somewhat spontaneously, and will post more about once they are done and delivered.

17 August 2016

There and Back Again

I thought that when I got back to town I would do more to keep the blog current, and of course this has not happened,  Let's see, a quick summary of the last year or so:

  • I got a new job and moved, temporarily, to Madison (WI).
  • The job wasn't what I expected, and my old boss made a determined campaign to keep in touch and let me know he'd hire me back - which happened.
  • So I moved back to the Hartford (CT) area.
This involved selling things, moving, moving back, and buying replacements for things like a bed.  At all times, of course, I kept reading (I am definitely going to miss A Frugal Muse and being near Half Price Books) and yarny things (including a visit to the market at the Madison Knitters' Gui;d Knit-In and the impressive yarn section at the Wisconsin Craft Market, and joining a couple of meetups, and the crafters group at the local makerspace) and enjoyed the Dane County Farmers' Market's winter markets.  I also went to Madison's Winter Festival and volunteered at their first MakerFaire, helping Eepy Bird with their Coke® and Mentos® performance.

And I didn't do much with the blog, because I didn't bother to do an internet hookup at the temporary location, and the wifi in the common area didn't work well, and I didn't feel like saying after hours at work to do the blog because it was about an hour's drive (in good weather) and I was trying to have a social life.  So.  No blog posts.

Now I am back in Hartford.  And trying to not get involved in too many things at once.  I did volunteer to help staff a booth at the Bishop's Corner Farmers' Market because it's associated with my old CSA (I got back too late to rejoin), and the person who was staffing the booth suddenly got a job on Maui.  It's not bad, mostly hot and boring, but I take yarny things and have some sales.  It ended up with a few dates as guest vendor at the West End Farmers' Market as well.

I'm involved again at MakeHartford, of course,  An apparently am considered a volunteer for Bici Co., although I don't participate at the location, although I helped to build some of their storage while home visiting one weekend last fall.  And designed a hat that won a contest and brought them some money when they were getting started.

What else?  I am still deciding.  This is a chance to not get quite so involved, or to do so in ways I wasn't able to do before.  Once the Farmers' Market season is over, of course!  And this period in October when I am traveling quite a lot - to the ACC Annual Meeting (I spoke at two of their previous conferences this year, this makes a hat trick) and then to the North Carolina State Fair for our annual family expedition (being the cool auntie who goes on the more exciting rides).

In the meantime, I have the Berlin Fair to look forward to entering - I didn't last year due to the move.  And this event sounds cool, maybe we can do something like it in Hartford?  I'd suggest it for DFW Fiber Fest, but the crocheters would be annoyed as I think fewer people can crochet while walking than knit while walking.  I can do both, but not everybody does.  I know there are people who drop spindle while walking.  Hmmmm......

07 June 2016

Some yarny things I've created recently

I'll catch up on where I have been lo, these many months that the blog has been dormant, but as a quick kickstart back into blogging, I'll post a few photos of items I have made.  For some reason, this post doesn't look like what I created - there shouldn't be a big blank area, and the pictures should be more neatly organized!  Sorry about that.  Obviously, I'm out of practice.

First, the annual collection for Mittens for Akkol's annual collection of items for graduates of the two orphanages in Kazahkstan.  One set of grads were known and asked for specifics; for the other orphanage we had just genders and had to guess what they might like.

The two "known" grads for whom I made items - one boy wanted a white and spring green set, for which I crocheted a scarf, and the other wanted a white sweater (but he was OK with off-white) and black accessories.  Someone else volunteered for the accessories, I just knit the pullover.

Wrist-to-wrist yoke, vertical body.
Very slightly green in the white, an ancient fingering wool used tripled.

Sweaters are usually the last things for which people sign up, so I tend to make a lot of those.  This year, I got to make a few sets, which I enjoy because the accessories are more portable.

Handdyed multi from Fiberlady and Patons Classic Wool in
'Lemongrass' - mittens are the Siena Mittens from Knitscene
and the hat is  a variation of the knitpicks 'Garter Stripe' hat.
Scraps of Lopi from another project.
Patons Colorwull, Lion Brand Fisherman, and various other yarns.
Knit mittens and hat, crocheted scarf.
Patons Classic Wool in 'Shades of Gray' with some of the related
greys and black solid for the scarf.  Knit mittens and hat, crocheted
scarf and sweater (knit neck and wrist ribbings on the sweater).

Mostly Lion Brand Fisherman yarn used double,
with some oddballs added for accents.

For the sweaters, I made up the patterns based upon measurements.  At this point, my hands and brain have "go to" patterns for mittens, hats, and scarves, so that mostly autopiloted.  I've put links where specific patterns were used.  Even the white sweater was mostly designed on the fly.  I was not going to do a very complicated pattern, partly due to time limitations, but also didn't want to do an absolutely plain white sweater, so this is my compromise.  And yes, the cables on the sleeves twist in two different directions, that was a deliberate design choice.

I also created a number of scarves for the Knit Your Bit collection at DFW Fiber Fest.  The scarves will go to veterans, and they asked us to use mostly neutral colours as there are more male recipients than female.  These photos show just a few of the ones I made, mostly in plain stitches (garter stitch quite often, or a 1dc 1sc crochet stitch) with interesting yarns.

Lion Brand Kool Wool (left) and Wool-Ease (right)
Lion Brand Tweed Stripes.
Loops and Threads "Charisma" in Ashes and Woodland.
Anne Geddes Baby yarn from Red Heart, doubled.
Grey and blue Caron Simply Soft held together, with accents
of Lion Brand Wool-Ease left over from other scarves.

Lion Brand Wool-Ease in the
KYB Mistake Stitch pattern.

Top Scarf is Red Heart Super Saver, left over from another project.
Bottom Scarf is Lion Brand Vanna's Choice 'Woods Print' with
some stripes of Wool Ease in 'Forest Green Heather'.

Lastly, my grandmother snuggled under her birthday blanket, knit from a new Bernat yarn called "Home Bundle" which is available only at Joann's.  It goes through four different yarns, so there's very little work involved, but the end result is soft and warm and light, and she loves it!  Since my grandmother is always cold, blankets are an appreciated gift, even for her May birthday, and even though she lives in Florida.

The teddy bear was a gift for her birthday also, which my grandmother had to spend in hospital because her gallbladder has been giving her grief.  Hence, the rather medical-looking surroundings.  My grandmother is itching to get home, and should be soon!

06 March 2015

Update on what's been leaving

I meant to post an update on the Minimalism Game every week, and of course that didn't happen.  I did keep going strongly after the first week.  I need to finish totaling up everything, but so far recorded:
  • 278 items to the thrift stores
  • 35 lbs of fabric sold on Craigslist
  • Three household items on Craigslist that will go to the thrift store if they do not sell
  • Three soap kits that I'll donate to some homeschooling friends if they don't sell on Craigslist (and which I count as one item because they are listed together)
  • Six bags of paper and non-redistributable magazines (mostly old, boring professional ones) to recycling
  • Three bags of magazines offered on Freecycle (and which will be recycled if they don't find a new home soon!)
  • Four items rehomed to others (a huge ball of cotton yarn to a friend who makes facecloths for the New Start Washcloth Project; a wooden box of soaps from England to another friend; a Scottish wool sweater to a male friend who fits it better than I do - it's a bigger medium than I apparently need; and a can of Tazo "Calm" tea to the dance mistress of a show I did at the beginning of the month, that I'd been given but I cannot tolerate chamomile)
  • A Lantern Moon tote bag to the raffles at DFW Fiber Fest
  • Two cartons of paper items to be shredded (one box was 13" high and I forgot to measure the other - the friends who inspired that decided each inch of paper counts as a "thing")
  • 37 items into the trash
If you are counting, that's only 381 items and not 406, because I didn't count the magazines separately and only have one measurement of inches of paper being shredded, and I didn't count the extras that I put into the lot of soap kits.  Plus, I think I have not finished counting items because there's a pile on the guest room bed......

Now some people are doing a "one bag for every day of Lent" thing, and I'm not ready to enter into that, but will keep it in mind.  I suppose you can always pick a month to do "a bag a day" and see what you can discard.

In other news - I've made a couple-three scarves to take to my friend whose church gives them to The Samaritan Inn.  Some people have talked about attaching scarves and hats and such to fences or trees in low-income neighborhoods and near shelters for people who need them, but it hasn't happened in Hartford to my knowledge.  I've also done four pink-and-purple cat hats for a friend's daughters and nieces (a commission project!) and a hat for her SIL (that I promised to make less pointy on top), al in reflective yarn because the SIL thinks they need to wear lots of reflective gear when walking home from services at night.  My friend thinks these are a bit more chic than the construction workers' vests her SIL distributes.

07 February 2015

28 Items Ready to Go

The first week of the Minimalism Game is done, and although I got busy and didn't pick out item for the last couple of days, I caught up this morning.  This means that in addition to the items I had already packed up to go to a thrift store, twenty-eight more items are heading out the door.  I calculated that by the end of the month, I need to have gotten rid of over four hundred items!  To be precise, Σ28 = 406.

In some cases, the item was a thing I had thought about sending away, but hadn't made up my mind.  The challenge helped me make up my mind.  In others, it was something I had gotten thinking I would use it and have not, or had gotten for gifting and that never happened either.  Sometimes it's a child's item and the children I know are older now.

So hopefully on Sunday I'll take this week's collection to the thrift store, and get some boxes and things to start the next week's collection.

I did add some rules of my own, at least for this week:

  • Items already packed up for the thrift store - I had 21 of them - did not count.
  • Items I have set aside to send to Mittens for Akkol for their current grads collection also do not count.
  • The boxes and things that I am using to take the items to the thrift store of course do not count.
  • Items for my Etsy shop also don't count, since I keep hoping to dispose of them by having someone buy one.  Or several.
So far, everything I packed up on a day had a single ending, mostly the thrift store, with one exception.  I think that may change later in the month, but we shall see.  I know I have plenty of magazines for some of the larger-numbered days.

In other news, this also left the house this week.  Given that it is a commissioned item, I don't really count that as something that should leave.  I was working on a scarf for a friend, and our stage manager saw me, and asked if I would make a scarf for her.  In discussing colour options she mentioned grey, and when I asked what shade she wanted, her eyes lit up.  "You know, there's that movie coming out....."

I told her that there was no way I would try to find, or work with, fifty shades of a colour, but I'd see what I can do.  This is five shades worked in single crochet entrelac.  Washable acrylics because she has three large dogs; the outermost one has a touch of sparkle.  She's not a big "bling" person, but was thrilled to see a bit of it in the yarn.  And she loves the end result, which is the best part.

Next up are to finish my friend's scarf, and make five hats of reflective yarn that a friend commissioned for her sister-in-law, nieces, and daughters.  And I want to get a couple of boxes of craft supplies organized and photographed to post on Craigslist to see if anybody wants them.  I'm sure they will go quickly on Freecycle, which will be the next stop for them.