Monday, March 24, 2014


When Barbara reminded me about March Sweater Madness, I though, "Hey, that's a great idea."   I haven't done it before,  I had several sweaters in my queue- I even had one I was just about to cast on.    It was only when I went to pack for my trip when the light dawned.  There really wasn't room in my luggage to carry a whole sweater's worth of yarn.  So, instead I took yarn for a cowl:
Harvest Leaves Cowl
And my go-to travel projects: socks.  The red socks were on the downhill slope- I was mid-way through the second one when we left.   So I took a rainbow skein of yarn for some plain socks:

I'm not as thrilled with these as I'd hoped to be- the color repeats are so short that it winds up kind of a muddle of all skinny stripes.  If I'd been home when I started these, I think I would have set this skein aside until I had a chance to use it as an entrelac project- I think the short color repeats would have looked much better in a smaller project.  But they are cheery, and hey- how can you not like rainbows on your feet?

And then we got back and there were a whole host of distractions- the basement flooded, I had a flat tire, my car had a close enounter with a suicidal deer, tax season is coming... not too surprising that I didn't get to start my sweater until last week:
I love the colors, and so far the pooling is tolerable.   We'll see how it goes. 

And I couldn't go long without socks on the needles.  I've cast on a pair of the D'Artagnon socks- not much to show for them yet, so no picture. 

And then a friend asked if I'd knit her something out of her yarn for a shop sample.   Well.  Who could say no to yarn this beautiful? 

After all that, the square I've promised to an afghan project should be trivially easy, right? 

It's just possible I've fallen into the common knitter trap of vastly overestimating how much I can knit in any given amount of time.   But hey.  Sanity is overrated.  Quality time with yarn...that can't be overrated.  And if we get more snow this week (as is predicted), I'm going to need a nice pile of yarn to keep me going until spring finally stops lollygagging and puts in an appearance.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014


So, I'm back from my latest vacation, and the answer to 'where did I go?' is a lot more complicated than usual.  We started by flying to Dallas, for our annual trek to the North Texas Irish Festival. When we left Boston on Friday it was 7 degrees F...we arrived in Dallas to find 80 degrees and sunshine.  Saturday was likewise beautiful.  Sunday the temperature dropped over 60 degrees and it started sleeting.  The festival was fantastic, as always.  Despite the ice and cold Sunday we enjoyed it enormously- there were a lot fewer people there Sunday, but the concerts were all inside and the music was excellent.  I sat and knit while I listened.

Monday morning we didn't hang around, but caught an early flight to Albuquerque, and from there drove to Santa Fe.   Santa Fe is a gorgeous little city, tucked under the chin of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
One of the things that makes Santa Fe so appealing is that they instituted building codes before the eras (like the 70s) when awful architecture was so endemic.  All buildings must be in Santa Fe style.  This leads to some interesting details, like the Santa Fe style ATM:
We walked around window shopping and admiring the public art.   Santa Fe has more art per square mile than any place I've ever seen.  It's on the rooftops:
 Along the streets:
In front of the stores and galleries:
And in the parks.
There seems to be kind of a Santa Fe 'thing' for art that looks like it's rising out of the ground.  Really, where else can you find a pod of whales rising out of the ground, hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean.

One of the most striking crafts is the amazing pottery.  We struck up a conversation with a woman outside one shop- she commented on my husband's sweatshirt (he was wearing a shirt from a library in western Massachusetts).  We started chatting, and when she found out we were both engineers, she asked us if we could help her with a minor tech question.  It was an easy, but not obvious problem- she was extravagantly grateful, however and insisted on calling my husband's mother to tell her what a terrific son she had.  Some further conversation and we wound up setting up a pottery lesson with her.

Heidi Loewen offers instruction in her studio- they do all the annoying prep work and the students get some hands-on experience in throwing pottery on the wheel.   Here's Heidi demonstrating to my husband how much pressure to use on the pot.
We spent a fascinating afternoon playing with clay- we each made several pieces.
The deal is that they will fire and glaze the pottery- we got to pick the colors for the glazes- and when they're done, they'll ship the pieces to us.   It's a fairly lengthy process- we probably won't see the results until sometime in May.  It was terrific fun, and made me even more appreciative of the skill and work that goes into the fabulous art pottery we saw all over Santa Fe. 

We took one afternoon and walked up out of the city into the hills. There is outstanding hiking within walking distance of the city center.

As you get up higher, there are great views of the city.

We went to museums- the New Mexico history museum, and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.  Another day we drove up to Taos, and walked around.  It was a lovely several days.  We ate lots of southwestern food and enjoyed the sun and relatively warm temperatures.

On Thursday we went back to Albuquerque and flew to San Jose, California.  We'd been invited to be guests at a science fiction folk music ('filk') convention in Milpitas.  Before the convention started there was a little time, so we went out with friends to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.  An excellent museum, with very well-presented exhibits.  We were particularly interested in seeing the live demonstration of Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2- it's a mechanical computer which was designed in the late 1800s but not built until the late 1990s.  Extremely cool stuff. 

Then we headed back to the hotel for the opening of the convention.  It was a fun weekend- we did a concert, we heard lots of other people, and we did a whole lot of group singing.  We got to hang out with a whole bunch of cool people- a few we had already known and some new.    There was also a charity auction for Interfilk- which is a group that sends musicians to other parts of the country- they're the folks who invited us to be guests at the convention.  We brought some things to donate, and I included a skein of hand-dyed yarn -and if the person who bought the yarn wanted, I offered to turn it into hand-knit socks in their size and ship it to them.   Which is exactly what happened.  Pretty cool, since I get to donate the yarn and knit it too.  I'll post photos when I cast it on.

In addition to the musical events, we had a craft circle on Sunday.  A whole bunch of awesome crafty people came- we had knitting, crochet, tatting, beading, sewing and embroidery.  And I could have missed a craft or three...there was a lot of creativity there.   

A fantastic weekend, but it didn't stop there.  After we left the convention, we went to visit my sister-in-law and her family.   We stayed a couple more days, visiting and enjoying the lovely warm sunny weather.    We got home Wednesday, and it was there the trouble began.  But that's another story. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Passing Through

Many adventures to relate, and no time..for now, how about an FO? 
The red socks are done.  

In future riveting episodes- the Harvest Leaf Cowl, the next socks, and a brand new craft never before seen on Practicalcrafts...