a good day

Him: "I found a big box at the front door. Did you order anything?"
Me: "Nope."
Him: "It's light for it's size. I think it's yarn."

I assured him I hadn't ordered yarn, but when we opened the box, out popped dozens of skeins of  crayon colored yarn! I knew I had won a contest to win a year's worth of yarn but it took me a while to put two and two together. When I realized it was my contest spoils, I started squealing, "I won, I won! It's here, it's here!"

Thank you Pacific Yarn Company and the Yarn Craft Academy, I'm thrilled to receive your lovely yarn. I also won a platinum lifetime membership of the academy, so looks like I'll have no reason not to perfect my craft! I'll be checking into that over the next several weeks and I'll get back to you.

I've always felt it pays off to enter contests. For decades I've entered every one that appeals to me. Someone has to win, why not me? The first thing I remember winning was a desk set from our local stationary store. I had the choice between brown leather and white and gold, and chose the brown set to give to my father for Father's Day. From then on I was hooked. I have won yarn before, also a cake decorating kit, a travel bag, pizza from our local parlor, free dinners, and other things over the years that I can't remember. This is my biggest win yet--dozens of skeins of Pacific Yarn's Zephyr DK and fingering weight Mist. Both are made from California cotton and Montana wool, spun in Wisconsin and dyed in Maine. I heard about this yarn last year and in an effort to support local, sustainable products when I can, I ordered a sweater's worth in the pink Bougainvillea. I used a little of it for my recently finished Boho Shawl. It has a pretty, rustic look and it takes the dye very well. When knitting it has a pleasant, dry feel and knits very easily. It has a bit of VM in it, but no more than you would expect from a minimally processed yarn.  I really can't believe my good fortune!

There's plenty here for multiple shawls and sweaters, solids and stripes, so I started to play around to see what I could make. I've got a sweater's worth of the Sand Dollar color in both the DK and fingering weight. I love any shade of white. I played around with some color combos for shawls or sweaters for me or Annie or Carter.  The colors are gorgeous.

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As soon as my Christmas knitting was finished, I went straight back to my half-finished Boho Shawl. This was my first big mosaic stitch project and I loved making it. The color work is made with slipped stitches, only working with one color at a time. It mimics fairisle knitting but is much easier. As for the yarn, I used what I had here in my stash: 

The charcoal was Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted--a hard-working, easy-to-knit, basic worsted.
The brown was Berroco Blackstone Tweed--a soft and easy-to-knit tweed but now discontinued.
The pink was Pacific Yarns Zephyr DK--a blend of USA grown wool and cotton, but more like a worsted than a dk. Has a dry, rustic handle and is a beautiful shade of deep pink.
The white was Rowan Hemp Tweed--a very lovely blend of hemp and wool. Lovely sheen and handle.

The yarns were all the same weight and gave me the right gauge and together was a good color choice for me. The pattern, Boho Style Mosaic Shawl by Irene Lin was very well written and an easy pattern to follow, with both charts and row-by-row written instructions. Your finished shawl will benefit from a good wet-block. The pattern makes an extra large wraparound-your-entire-body type shawl. I love it! I wore it last night and my friends gave it a big thumbs up and my husband gave it a 10. And now for some pretty fuzzy computer pictures of me wearing it:

Now I'm a big mosaic fan and searching high and low for other projects to add to my queue. Have you knit a mosaic pattern that you have loved? I'm particularly looking for a pullover with a mosaic pattern on the yoke. I PMed Isabell Kraemer through Ravelry and suggested that she should design one. 😉 She seems like a very nice and approachable lady, but I imagine super busy. I haven't heard back from her and the worst that can happen is that she will ignore me.  In the meantime, happy knitting!

Here's my Ravelry project page for my Boho Shawl.

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tidy up!

I went on a magnificent cleaning, sorting and tossing-out rampage in my knitting room. This is something I usually do after the holidays; I get in this mood and nothing can stop me. But this time it was different. I had recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing  by Marie Kondo and Emily Woo Zeller. I thought I could use her tips on my knitting supplies. I wanted to LOVE my stash again instead of feeling queasy when I thought about it. She did that for me, and gave me the confidence and strength to go through every bag and basket, touch every skein and ask questions. How did this skein make me feel? If I loved it and it made me feel good, I kept it. If I felt anxious about it, I let it go. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. After reading it I even bought the audible version and listened to it twice while I was cleaning. It's so inspirational and to me, made total sense. I am naturally a tidy and organized person, but this book takes all that to the next level. Using the book's philosophy, I was able to let go of things I didn't love, and felt it was OK. I'll be donating some things, but I may put some for sale on Ravelry as some of it is new and lovely, just not right for me.

The above pictures are of my knitting room; I also have a sewing room and that will be next. But as for this knitting room, I love it so much. It was once my son's room and has been reimagined into a guest room that is decorated with yarn! It's where I knit and either watch TV or listen to an audible book or music. I organize my many knitting projects with baskets. Half of the baskets hold works-in-progress projects or yarn and pattern slated for a future project and half of the baskets are empty. I like that. I have organized my oddballs into a DK weight drawer, another drawer for worsted weight and one for fingering weight, and a separate one just for Kidsilk Haze--that is my favorite drawer. Below is the tiny closet that holds mostly empty baskets (I was ruthless) but some are filled with a few chunky weight yarn projects. The closet is a bit of a catch all, with old toys and games, wrapping paper, etc. In her book, Marie encourages you to throw out all that stuff, that the amount of space it takes is not worth it. I haven't been able to do that yet as I just really wanted to concentrate on my knitting supplies, but I can see myself going through the entire house using her mindset. I think you'd like the book. Many people are calling it life-changing, but I would say it's more...freeing. Tidying up and clearing out made me love my stash again. I'd be curious if any of you have read the book and what you think of it.

Empty baskets!

The art work on the closet walls hasn't changed in 30 years.

And this baby...this baby...loves loves loves to sit on his daddy's shoulders and walk around the garden. He loves to poke his head up into trees and smile down at people. He was fascinated with a walk through our local park, Redwood Grove, which was also his daddy's favorite hang-out when he was a tot. Mommy has started work today and the grandmas are doing the child care, so I imagine we will be going to Redwood Grove quite a lot. He comes to my house tomorrow. I can't wait to have him all to myself.

 by Marie Kondo and Emily Woo Zeller.

The furniture is from Ikea and no longer available.

The baskets were bought at a discount home improvement center a few years ago.

The sofabed was from Costco.

The baby is from my son and his wife :)

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Peace On Earth

I woke up extra early this morning, set the table, lit the candles, then took these pictures just as the sun started to appear. The light was faint and gorgeous. Today, December 23rd, is my prep day. I'm heading off for my last trip to the grocery store, then I'll be in the kitchen doing as much ahead as I can--washing, chopping, grating, mixing--my menus were planned with as much do-ahead as I could possibly squeeze in. The family comes tomorrow afternoon and I want to spend time with that baby!

Christmas Eve Menu
Arugula Salad
Coffee Gelato with Salted Caramel Sauce
Christmas Cookies

Christmas Morning Menu
Muffins with Jam

Christmas Day Snacks
Potato Chips and Veggies with Onion Dip
Christmas Cookies

Christmas Dinner
Peppercorn Filet Mignon with Burgundy Mushroom Sauce
Green Beans with Almonds
Herb Popovers

I sing in my church choir and for the last two year's Christmas Concerts we have sung Longfellow's, "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day".  This is the beautiful version we sang. I hope you have time to have a listen. I was so afraid I would sob through it (I did not!), and it has been caroling in the background of my brain for the last week. Here's the heart-wrenching story behind the beautiful words and how Longfellow, even though living in great pain, found a place in his heart to feel peace on earth and wish good will toward men. Amen. I wish you all the best during this holiday season and through the new year. Thank you for coming by, I appreciate your readership and your comments so much. xo Kristen

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