Christmas in July

Last year, I really kicked around the idea of doing some kind of Christmas project that my daughter would have forever.

I have had the idea on my mind since I saw the Yarn Harlot’s advent tree that she did back in 2014. I loved it, but I wasn’t a confident sewer, and I had a one-year-old at the time, and it just seemed a little out of reach for what I could accomplish at the time. Also, I already had an advent calendar with a scene of Santa and Mrs. Claus that had a tiny mouse that you moved from pocket to pocket. It was given to me by my Granny, so it’s very special to me, and I had passed it down to BK. I thought she was covered for an advent calendar, because I want her to have fond memories of that one, too, and it was a wonderful thing we could share.

So I started looking for alternatives. Last year, the 12 Days of Christmas Mitten Garland KAL caught my eye. It was appealing because it only involved 12 things, not 24, and also you had two weeks to complete each small mitten, which seemed very reasonable. It was also very beautiful. But I ultimately decided not to make it, because even though it was lovely, I struggled with where it would go in amongst my Christmas decorations. I also explored the Mitten Garland Advent Calendar by the same designer, which is also lovely. I also considered a garland of little stockings, but didn’t want to commit to finding treats to put in each one of them, since BK usually already has a store-bought calendar with chocolates in it.

Eventually, this year, I got back around to the idea of the Yarn Harlot’s tree. And I figured if I’ve been thinking about it for 3 years, that’s probably what I really want to make. And that BK probably had enough room in her life for two advent calendars, since last year she had three (the mouse one I gave her, a chocolate one, and one with mini Thomas trains in it).  I started digging around for ideas on what to put on the tree, and made a rough list of what I would like to include. I’m still finalizing exactly which 24 things will be on it. BK and I have a had a few conversations over what to add and what to remove, and the list is very fluid at the moment. I’ve started on a few, and since I still have 4 months, I’m sure I can get it done for this Christmas (famous last words, right?).

tiny ornament for advent calendar

Above, you’ll see one of the finished items. It’s a tiny Christmas ornament, made from this pattern in one of my favorite books, Handknit Holidays. I’ve made the full-size version several times (I got a little excited about this pattern when I first learned to knit in the round), and all I did for this one was start just as the patten calls for, but didn’t increase the full number of times. When I finished it, I then picked up three stitches on the top in the gray yarn and made a tiny i-cord for the top of the ornament. The main part of the ornament is Tiny Toes by BaH Yarns. I’m not sure they make this color way any more, because I bought it when they first started. Heather is a good friend, and I love everything she and Brenda make. I originally purchased this yarn with the intention of making BK socks, but since she hates all socks (handmade and store-bought) and prefers to be barefoot, it seemed like a waste of good yarn. So she’ll still have something made out of this beautiful yarn, and it doesn’t have to be on her feet. 🙂

Wish me luck on getting all this done before December! And I’ll keep you posted on which 24 ideas make the final cut.

P.S. – Happy Birthday, Harry Potter.

Back to reality: Bye bye Disney World

Mr Snips, BK and I just returned from our first real family vacation just the three of us. We spent a couple of days at Disney, and I have to say it was magical. I was so sad to come home. And not just because we were going from 80 degrees, sunny and spectacular to sub-freezing, snow flurry conditions, but because we had a really lovely time. So nice, in fact, that I’ve already started daydreaming about what our next trip will be.Cinderella's castle in Magic KingdomAnd since we’ve arrived home and the snow has started in on us (which feels very early for Indiana, but the weatherman assures me we are nowhere near reaching record lows or snowfalls), the knitting has commenced in earnest.

I finished my Roseberry sweater last night (can’t wait to get some FO shots for you!), and I started a hat that is part of my very limited Christmas knitting while we were on holiday. Since we’ve gotten home, I’ve dithered on what to do next with the hat (Ahoy Princess Beret), because my initial plan was to make the worsted weight intricate cables version. But after I finished the ribbing and realized I had an opportunity to do a modification for an extra slouchy version, I’ve wavered. I think I only have enough yarn to do the regular version of the intricate cables, and I could MAYBE squeeze a slouchy less-intricate cables version out of my yarn – but I JUST DON’T KNOW. And it’s for a 21-year-old college student, and I don’t know what kids these days like (this makes me feel FAR older than my actual years – when did this happen?). I have 200 yards of MadTosh Vintage, and the pattern calls for 210 with non-slouchiness, but I’m feeling dangerous. Some research on FOs on Ravelry hasn’t helped make up my mind. Suggestions welcome!

4th of July wrap-up

I really love the 4th of July. I don’t really remember being that into it until we moved back to America from England, and I really appreciated what America was all about and the opportunities it provides.

It became even a little more special after Mr Snips became a citizen. And my heart did a little skippy beat when we started out for a bike ride yesterday and he stuck an American flag into BK’s little trailer, and we whizzed off through the cornfields to the park.

20140705-230323-83003339.jpgAnd I was never really that into cornfields until we moved back either. But considering I grew up in one (really), I don’t think it’s surprising that it feels like home. And nothing fills me up quite like green cornfields, bright blue sky and a red barn, like this one we passed on our bike ride.
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Growing up, Indiana often felt too repressive, small, not quite interesting enough. But going away and coming back, I’ve realized it’s a really nice place to live. Of course, the number one thing Indiana has going for it is that my family lives here – but there are other things. It’s got a nice capital city, but it’s not too big or overpowering. It’s affordable. It’s safe. It has open spaces. It has views like this:
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Sure, we’re a little backwards about a lot of things, and certainly no one would accuse us of being progressive, but we’re generally a kind, friendly people just doing our best.

And we’re just one of 50 states doing the best we can, still trying to hold on to the American dream, and figure out how we can contribute in this land of opportunity.

This 4th of July, I thought a lot about how lucky my little family is. That we’ve been able to make our home in the USA, and we have a wonderful place to live and grow.

 

Ten things I’ve done since the last blog

  1. I got a really bad cold, and was completely and totally miserable for a couple of days – barely moving off of the couch. I got well just in time to…
  2. Go to England to visit the Mr Snips side of the family. We got to visit Dublin for the first time (bought some green Irish yarn there! – Coolree Merino/Silk in Eye-Balm Green!), saw family in England, attended my lovely friend Sarah’s wedding, celebrated BK’s birthday and explored London with my parents.
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    And then…
  3. Lost almost all of the pictures of those things when our camera memory card corrupted unexpectedly, and no one in the universe can recover them.
  4. Our flight home was cancelled, which resulted in an extra three days away. That meant we got to make a side trip to Wales, which was fun. But I was getting so tired and then we spent so long on planes that I got home…
  5. Just in time to get sick again! Only to start recovering…
  6. To go to England again just 6 short days after coming home! This time for a work conference. I left on a Monday, came home on a Friday, to find…
  7. That my mom, dad and BK had all developed various levels of cold/virus/nasty lurgy of some kind.
  8. Which meant that Mr Snips and I had to do some creative childcare to give my parents recovery time (my mom especially was very ill).
  9. Once I finally got back to my regular schedule, I have come down with Cold #3 in just 7 short weeks!
  10. BK has decided since my return home that it is awesome to get up at 4:30 every morning.

So, in short, I am tired, sick, and feel totally drained. There is a little knitting going on here and there, and I’m finding my sporadic work on it relaxing and a little return to sanity. I’m working very hard on my Bigger on the Inside shawl, because my knit-a-long partner has finished hers, I’ve been working on it since October, and I’m starting to feel guilty it isn’t done.  What are you working on??

Holiday in review: Sonoma Valley

This past week, Mr Snips and I have been on an amazing trip to Sonoma Valley. And when I say amazing, I mean AMAZING. This trip was especially planned to mark a milestone birthday for me, and it was truly everything I hoped it would be.

We stayed at a sweet B&B (though it seems a disservice to call it that – it was spectacular) in a private cottage. It had a fireplace in front of our bed, and I found myself cuddled up in fronts of it several times a day, often with knitting in hand. It also served incredible three-course breakfasts which made to a great start every day.

Monday: We arrived in the early afternoon. After checking in, we headed to Sonoma Square to walk around and see what was there. After having a gander in the shops, we headed back and rested a bit before dinner. The hotel had free coffee and wine all day (you read correctly – FREE WINE) so I poured a glass and settled down on the terrace with my newest project, the Cabled Canuck (from my Monday Musing). It was glorious to be in the sunshine with wine and knitting. Glorious! We finished off the day with dinner at a local Indian restaurant.

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Tuesday: We hired a wine tour guide who could drive our rental car. This is a great idea, because you get a knowledgeable DD and you are paying less than if you rented a limo or town car. And since we were already paying for a rental car, it seemed very silly to double pay for a car. We spent all day going from winery to winery and doing tastings. We met so many lovely people. I expected a bit of snobbery since Mr Snips and are NOT knowledgeable wine conneisuers, but everyone was perfectly lovely and willing to help us find a wine we liked. The most notable purchase of the day was a pair of sweet little arrow studs I purchased from a winery. They are made by a local artist and I love them! They are simple and small. Which is perfect since BK has discovered how fun my dangly earrings are! No knitting happened after the wine tour, because there was no way to trust myself with either cables or lace, which were the only two projects I had with me.

Wednesday: We started off the day with a massage. If I hit the lottery, I would probably do that every day. We then got ready for the day and headed to two wineries. One we visited turned out to be my favorite, because of location, they had wines I liked, we had a lovely server and the place had a great ambiance. We also went back by Sonoma Plaza and did some more shopping. I spent a couple of hours tucked up in bed, watching some TV, enjoying the fireplace and working on my hat. We rounded off the day with a spectacular dinner at another local restaurant.

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Thursday: We drove over the hill/mountain to Napa Valley. We visited Yountsville, which was lovely, but lacked the fabulous ambiance of the area where we were staying. We then went over to Napa’s town center, where I visited Yarns on First. It was a great shop. They carried things I liked (like Malabrigo!) and had the store organized by color, which I thought was a nice touch. I bravely resisted adding to my stash, and instead purchased the deluxe edition of Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf for BK. It will be a few years before she’s ready to read it and learn to knit, but I’ve wanted her to have it since before she was born. Napa was a strange place; parts were lovely and parts were so under construction or vacant they looked like a scary ghost town. We had a nice lunch in the pretty part, and headed back. More knitting on the terrace ensued. We then had yet another fantastic dinner. Really, I was just overwhelmed by the variety and fantasticness of the food we ate there.

Friday: We left Sonoma Valley after the last lovely hotel breakfast and headed to San Francisco. The plan was to visit a few places there before taking an overnight flight home. We started in Union Square and hit a few shops there. We then decided to walk to the Painted Ladies which was a *horrible* mistake. We ended up in a very shady part of town – and I mean the shadiest I’ve been anywhere – and I was very scared. We turned back to Union Square and took refuge in a fabulous mall for a couple of hours. We headed back to the airport much earlier than planned and ended up with several hours to kill. After dinner and a look through every shop, we sat down. I took the opportunity to finally make it to my center panel of my Bigger on the Inside shawl and to work on this blog entry. So thankful I knit, or I would have been out of my mind at the long airport wait!

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Overall, the week was amazing. I tried lots of food I normally wouldn’t have and loved them all. The relaxed atmosphere and the very nice people made the whole thing a wonderful experience.

Happy Valentine’s Day! featuring SNOW

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope you’re having a good day. I’m feeling especially full of love this year, since I have a little bitty Valentine!

I am generally pretty enthusiastic about all holidays. I even have one of those sweet little garden flag stands and a large variety of flags to display on it. I put out the Valentine’s one a couple of weeks ago. It really does say “Happy Valentine’s Day” across the top with cute little hearts and flowers underneath. You wouldn’t know it though, because now it looks like this:

My frozen Valentine's flag

That’s right – not just snow, but icicles, too! And the forecast this morning that made it sound like we were getting a minor snow (1-3″) today, seems to have spiraled a bit out of control. Large, heavy flakes have been falling since noon, and don’t seem to be slowing down. The roads are completely and totally covered with at least 4 inches of snow, and probably more. Thank goodness for 4WD! And this is on top of the snow we already had, which was blanketing the ground.

So… it’s looking like my Valentine’s spirit will be frozen in place until we start to thaw out (hopefully next week!). It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine to leave decorations out too far past the holiday, but it seems this time I don’t have much of a choice. The back view of the flag is almost as impressive as the front, though you can at least sort of tell what it’s supposed to be…

Back view of my frozen Valentine's flag

This winter has been relentless, and it’s close to breaking my spirit. I love a good snow day or two, but we’ve had too many to count! Though BK and I don’t have to worry about it for a few years yet, the schools are having a hard time trying to figure out how to make up all of the lost time they have had because of snow and the dangerously cold temperatures. I feel especially cheated about this year because we didn’t get a white Christmas, but it feels like it hasn’t stopped snowing since then! I’m trying to keep positive by imagining spring, and thinking of how we will once again be able to leave the house without worrying when the snow is coming or if the roads have been plowed.

Mr Snips and I will be staying inside to celebrate Valentine’s Day, where it is warm and cozy. We always stay in and eat pizza; it seems silly to go out among the crowds for a day that’s meant to be about spending time with the people you love. So regardless of the weather where you are, I hope your day is filled with love (romantic or otherwise!), chocolate and knitting. And if you’re really lucky, pizza. 🙂

Christmas Wrap-Up

Get it? Wrap up? Like wrapping paper. Because you get gifts on Christmas! Anyway…

Speaking of Christmas gifts, I got some yarn-y things!

I received a Tanis Fiber Arts Snowfling Mitt Kit in blue from my parents, which was on my Christmas list. It took me about three days to settle on what color combination I wanted, but I decided I couldn’t go wrong with some lovely shades of blue. I think I would have been happy with any of the colors though. I’ve been reading the TFA blog for a couple of years now and have been desperate to try some of her yarn, because I am obsessed with her eye for color and the beautiful colorways she creates. I decided this beautiful pattern and yarn would be the perfect introduction.
Christmas presents
I also received 60 Quick Knits from America’s Yarn Shops as a little surprise present from my parents. It will join my 60 Quick Knits and 60 Quick Baby Knits books that I already have and use, and I look forward to picking out a project from this new addition!

There were also two knitted items that I simply LOVED from the Christmas season, but deserve their own blog posts. Here’s a preview of…

BK’s Christmas stocking:
BK's Christmas Stocking

and a Christmas surprise Penguin Pillow for Mr Snips:
Penguin Pillow
More on these two projects later!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas or something else. We certainly had a wonderful first Christmas with Baby Knitsnips and we are all very excited about the new year!