Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Part Deux

I wasn't sure if I would get another post in here or not but it occurred to me that of course I would! Christmas Part Deux was happening on the 28th! I think I had explained in previous posts how Christmas would be done this year but in case you missed it here's how it went. Christmas Day would be like any other Christmas. Formal breakfast, opening of the gifts and dinner around 4 pm. Because the 2 youngest kids hadn't arrived yet only 4 Tyson's would be joining us for dinner Christmas Day. Even then, it turned out to only be 3 of them as Dan was pretty sick with the crud and didn't want to give it to anyone else. Christmas Part Deux wouldn't be had until the 28th when the 2 youngest kids would arrive. The joining of our two families for dinner and a gift exchange for the first time, it was to be monumental. (and monumental it was!!) The theme was "Handmade Christmas." Slowly as time went on more and more gifts appeared under the tree, mostly for the kids. We celebrated on the 28th, after the two younger kids, Nate and Anika, arrived in Albuquerque. (They live in the D.C. area with their father). We have a few things planned for when the kids are here...to make sure they are sent home with memories. But Christmas, it was so beautiful and fun and joyous! Everyone arrived at our house with more gifts in tow and all four kids....we were a complete family again for the first time since the summer. That alone was worth the celebration! There are quite a few pictures to share so I'll just get to it...


This is Mom and I getting food out and things ready for sandwiches and chips and salad...


And all the kids diggin' in! We all sat and ate, the kids in one room and the adults in the family room. That's just the way it worked out. It was simple, it was easy, it was perfect. After we were done we all gathered around the tree and began the long process of opening all the gifts. None of us really believe in just putting all your gifts in front of you and then ripping into them all at once. We went around the room and people opened things one at a time, having a chance to thank the person that gave the gift right then and there. It was fabulous! It was perfect. 


There were lots of presents under the tree. I knew what we were giving and I was really excited about it all. The tree was so big that it was impossible to get the entire tree in the shot with all the presents. We all felt truly blessed. 


The first gift opened was for my Mom and Dad from Dan and Dilshani. It was an incredible art piece done by Dilshani...


I love this picture of Mom holding Dilshani's watercolor because all the colors flow....from whats on paper to what my Mom is wearing. Dilshani took a page from a dictionary and did a mountain watercolor on top of it. Its just fabulous!


I was asked to open the next gift...from Dan and Dilshani. You have to understand, Dilshani doesn't just knit. She does artwork, she sews, she does a lot of paper crafting. It was impossible to know what she had done for me. I loved the colors when I saw them...it was a pillowcase!!! An awesome pillowcase done with Van Gogh's "Starry Night" in mind...


Pretty awesome, right?! Beyond the first two gifts, I don't remember what order things went in...so I'll just put the rest out there...


This was a Seahawks picture framed I tracked down through a seller on EBay for Dilshani. In it is a picture of the two of us from Thanksgiving. The Seahawks played that day so we were all wearing our gear. I loved this pic of the two of us and to put it in this frame was near perfect...


This is Nate in a blanket that Dilshani made for him. He loves it obviously!


And a great picture of Nate. We love this kid!


This is Anika coming in for a hug. I love this picture. She had written to all of us. Mine said..
"Aunt Claudia, Merry Christmas! That seems pretty good, Granted, my beginning will never be as grand as your fiery red hair. I could pick you out of a crowd so easily I don't have to smile for it. Your intricate knitting doesn't begin to show your skill. I love you - Anika" So sweet. I love this girl I MISS THIS GIRL when she isn't here. Notice that she is wearing her fingerless mitts?! Those are one of 9 pairs I have made so far this season and I have a pair to go. Everyone got a pair this year. They all LOVED them!  That was my gift to everyone, fingerless mitts. Moms gift to everyone were coffee cuffs done in Seahawk colors!


She made them all random...so everyones is different. I cant wait to use mine!  Dads gift to everyone...well...not difficult if you know my Dad. But he had to make sure all the kids had the appropriate t-shirt for the coming game on New Years Day...


A group picture was needed and I love the looks on everyones faces here! Happiness and joy! I did the order job on these shirts and I gotta tell ya, I ordered Nate and Kamal the same color so hopefully Nate wont steal Kamal's shirt. He wont have to since he has one of his own! 


This wonderful hug is from Michael whose gift to us was his time. He gave us each a coupon which read "The coupon is for a whole day of my time to spend with you. The coupon has no expiration date and can be used multiple time if you so chose to. I hope you enjoy this gift to the fullest!" Everyone got hugs for this one!


See those? Fingerless mitts? Yeah, one they were opened they were put on and not taken off. This is Mike hugging Dad for his present from the family...a card with $20 in it. All the kids got one. This next one just cracks me up. Its Nate hugging me for his fingerless mitts but he damn near took me all the way down on the sofa! Too funny....


Next up was Dan. Once he opened the gift from the family we lost him. Like, for the rest of the evening. That's when you know its a good gift!


Dan love anything and everything about ancient Rome and Italy. Being retired from 18 yrs in the Air Force he is very interested in ancient warfare. We got him a book on all the Legions of Rome. Also, Mom passed on a book to him from her collection which, hard to explain, but was so next. It showed the way things used to be in Rome versus the way things are now. We lost him after he opened these gifts. And even after the gifts were done, we lost him and Mom to the kitchen where they were discussing the book and Mom was showing him a few of the ancient coins that she'd been given as gifts from Aunt Betty. Very cool. I love my adopted brother. He has an interesting mind and a giving and caring heart. 


Next up for Dan, he had already opened my fingerless mitts but he finally opened the hat made for him by Dilshani that he really really wanted. He picked out the pattern on Ravelry and said "here! this one! make this one!" What he didn't realize until he opened his hat was that it was the same color as the mitts. Olive drab. Camo. His favorite color. Dilshani and I planned it that way. We both used the same colorway of Malabrigo Worsted to make our projects! It was worth it because he seemed to love them both.

Next up was Dilshani and the gift from Mom...


Its a lovely shawl pin that Mom picked out from Village Wools for her. These Jul pins are so marvelous. Each one is a work of art in itself. Annnnnd she's wearing her green fingerless mitts too...


Another great pick of Dilshani and her shawl pin being photo bombed by beautiful Anika! And last but certainly not least was the gift from our family to Dan and Dilshani....


We got them a gift certificate so that they, the two of them, could go out on a Date Night and have dinner at Red Lobster. They loved it! Who doesn't like Red Lobster?! Dan was VERY excited about this! The kids also opened gifts from their other Aunt and Uncle in Illinois and enjoyed those as well.
All in all it was a wonderful evening. The gifts were from the heart and totally sincere. I think our plan worked. The plan to teach the kids about homemade gifts and what really mattered was being together. I really think the kids will remember this Christmas for years to come...the very first Christmas with Grandpa Sam, Granny Kay, and Aunt Claudia. It will be stuck in their minds forever. Hopefully. Our focus is more about creating memories for the kids to take with them wherever they go. We have other plans while they're here too....boy howdy do we have plans. On the 1st, New Years Day, Dilshani is coming over early, probably around 9am and will start to cook traditional Sri Lankan food for New Years. The 1st is also Anika's 13th birthday where she officially becomes a teenager. Dilshani's Birthday is on the 6th so we will have a joint celebration on New Years Day for their birthdays too. It will be another big day! This Friday we will all be going to the Natural History Museum for First Friday Fractals! The kids have never been and neither has Dan or Dilshani so to share this with them will be a blast! You can read about the Fractal Show here. It is a show that is unique to Albuquerque. If you live local and have never been I highly recommend it. Its fabulous! Sometime before the kids leave (I think they leave on the 4th) we plan to all go put putting. When was the last time you went put putting?! I haven't been in YEARS. At least 15 years, since I lived in Tucson AZ.

More memories, creating more memories is what its all about for us for the kids. I talked to Dilshani on the phone this evening and she told me that while on the way home last night in the car, Anika exclaimed "Mom, this was the BEST Christmas ever!" That just makes my heart smile really really big. Every bit of planning that went into this, every stitch knitted, it was worth all that and more. I love those kids. Each one of them. Santa gave me exactly what I wanted for Christmas; happy, smiling, fulfilled children! So until next time, probably after the 1st...Knit On!!

PS... All photos produced and edited by Dilshani for Dilshani Tyson Photography

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Knitting Year 2014 In Review ...

I did this last year and think I'm going to make it an annual thing. Its nice to take a look back and see what you've done in a year with your knitting. Sometimes it just seems like we get stuck or hit a wall or have so many WIP's it doesn't feel like you're making any progress with anything. Its nice to take a look back and see everything that you've accomplished throughout the year.  The next few days, and week are going to be very busy so I wanted to make sure I got this post done. For me and for you! We are having, for all intents and purposes, 2 Christmases this year. The one with just me, Mom, Dad and Aunt Betty...and then the Christmas with Dan and Dilshani and all the kids! Its gonna be so awesome! So, I'm not sure I'd get another post done before we ring in the New Year or not. So lets take a review!

At this time last year I was still making A LOT of fingerless mitts. I find myself doing that again this year although not near as many pairs. They do make such great gifts though. This year, but the time its all said and done (and it may carry into January) I will have done 10 pairs. Last year I made 14 pairs. I also finally got the pattern out as a freebie on Ravelry and Craftsy, Vanilla Fingerless Mitts.


I made my first child's sweater for Savannah. It was a wonderful pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier called 'Sweet Peasy...'


Savannah's little sister Alia arrived in May of this year so I made her a sweater with a GREAT pattern by Carina Spencer called 'Small Things Sweater...'


It was definitely a baby year this year! Friends and friends of friends were all having babies. This Carina Spencer pattern was so wonderful I knew it would be the one I would use for all of them. It was easy to get baby in and out of and with the yarn I was using it was easy to take care of. Next up was my friend Stacey. After 15 years she was having another baby! She knew she was having a boy...


My good friend Jana had a very close friend of hers living in India that was having a baby and she really wanted  to give the gift of homemade. The happy couple did not know what they were having so we chose neutral colors with cultural meaning....


The last one was for a dear friend of mine that I went to school with many years ago. She was finally having her first baby and this was a miracle baby! She knew she was having a little girl so I had a little fun...


...and I made some little Mary Jane shoes to go with it...


Next up was my second design of the year. (The first one was actually completed early in the year in February. It wasn't released until much later in the year so I'll add it into this in the same order all my other projects were completed) Ferryn was a collaboration I did with Crave Yarn out of Santa Fe...


Next finished was Sidney's Cornwall Coast. From the time I released Cornwall a couple years ago, she wanted one. We agreed to trade talents. I started working on it 2 years ago and finally finished it this year. She loves it and that's all that matters!


My next finished work was another design of mine called Patina Crescent. This was a special shawl to me. The yarn was from Phydeaux Designs and was absolutely incredible to work with. I designed this shawl to be easy to make. Period. It was designed so that, basically, the design in the shawl is left up to the knitter to decide how much, where, how often, etc. A good knit for the beginner and a relaxing and fun knit for the advanced knitter...


I was itching to make another sweater for my Fairy Godchild Alia but the more I thought about it the more I felt that she and Savannah should have matching sweaters! So I picked out a pattern, did a little math and ordered up the yarn. The pattern was called 'In Threes...'


There wasn't anything I didn't absolutely love about this sweater...


I loved these and highly recommend them if you're looking for a sweater pattern to knit for a girl. These were positively charming!

Finally, released in October was my Teaberry Crescent Shawl Pattern. It had been finished since late February, early March. The release was a collaboration with Phydeaux Designs. I was so in love with this shawl. I'm not sure exactly what took so long to get it released. I had hoped for at least a summer release, it would have coincided with the description of the shawl and the shawl itself. At any rate, it finally did get released and I was happy. Phydeaux Designs Yarn is absolutely incredible. The colorways are all so beautiful its so hard to choose if you are shopping! I chose the colorway Danaerys for Teaberry Crescent...


In November, you may recall Mom and I attending Camp STITCHES which was held here in Albuquerque, NM. Mom took a spinning class with Janel Laidman and I took a class with Myra Wood titled "Multi Directional Madness!" I learned so much and had a BLAST. I started a free form piece that I finished soon after coming home...


I loved working in this method and cannot wait to do so again. NOTE: We were recently notified that Camp STITCHES will be returning to Albuquerque's Tamaya Resort re terribly excited about that& Spa in 2015!!! Mom and I are terribly excited about that!

The final piece that I will finish in 2014 (bearing in mind that for months now I have, in between getting these projects finished, been knitting pair upon pair of fingerless mitts!) is the Cinnamon Stone shawl that I started way back in, like, March of this year. I LOVED this shawl and loved finishing and blocking it....


This shawl will be gifted away as a Random Act of Kindness through a group on Ravelry. I have done RAK's before and they are so fun. You never know what kind of day the person who will be receiving your package is having...you have the opportunity to make someones whole day change for the better. I love that.

I encourage you all to take time and do the same thing as I did by doing this post....take inventory of what you've done over the year. It's nice to know that you have accomplished a lot even when it doesn't seem like it! I'm really looking forward to some awesome things in 2015! I will share some of that with you after we've rang in the New Year. Needless to say, I'm very excited! Thanks so much for sticking around with me and my musings, I do appreciate it. Have a wonderful Holiday everyone! Be safe in all that you do. Appreciate the people around you. I'll see you all on the flip side and until then....KNIT ON!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Block Party...and New Yarn !!

Another Block Party took place here last night. I also received the yarn I have been waiting and waiting on for like, a long time. I literally gasped when I opened it. More on that later. Blockin' and Yarnin' in the same post. Does it get any better?? 

I've been catching up on some blocking which is  why you are seeing so many of them lately. One is mine, in today's post, and the others are for friends and family. They all know that I don't mind blocking at all so they bring me their finished knits and a little bribe and that's generally all it takes. And, of course, anything I block will be photographed on Lucy. If you're just knew to my blog and are following for the first time, Lucy, short for Lucinda, is my dress form. I'll start with Moms, which we actually blocked a few days ago but I forgot to get pics until now so I thought, no harm done, I'll just add it to today's Block Party post. After all, its the same shawl, Cinnamon Stone, and we knitted them together...like right down to who was ahead of who and who was binding off before the other person. It was great! Mom did hers in Crave Yarn Serenity in the colorway Bubblegum For Me. I did mine in Dream in Color Everlasting Sock, but I cant remember the colorway. Its sort of a rusty color, its GORGEOUS. And since its going out to someone I don't know as a RAK through Ravelry (Random Act of Kindness) I hope they like it! 

Mom did a wonderful job knitting hers in this gorgeous pink colorway Bubblegum For Me...





Mom didn't do the picot bind off because the yarn she was working with was quite fine and she didn't like the way they looked when she did them. She just did a regular bind off and we pulled points when we blocked it. The yarn I was working with was an 8 ply sock yarn and there was plenty there to do the picots....





I am very pleased with the way mine turned out. I love a picot bind off on almost just about anything. I do hope its recipient will be just as pleased!

Okay...so that yarn I was talking about. Folks, let me tell you something you don't want to forget. Kismet Fibers. Say it with me, Kismet Fibers. I, just like so many others out there, are jumping on the gradient bandwagon because its revved up and going all over the place. So many people are doing gradient yarns now. This is awesome but I have a very small, minor bone to pick with those dying gradient yarns. YARDAGE. I have been working and designing primarily in fingering weight yarn for at least a couple of years now. I want a gradient yarn in fingering weight with at least 800-900 yds to work with. Finding this seemed to be almost impossible. I found 550 yds once and that was about the best I could find. That is, until I stumbled across Kismet Fibers. Kismet offers 5 skeins, 50 grams each, 231 yds per skein for a total of a whopping 1155 yards! I almost couldn't believe it. Now, maybe I wasn't looking in the right places, there were some, The Paint Box, that offered some significant lace weight yardage but were all sold out. Of everything. I think Stephanie Pearl-McPhee used it or something and they sold out of everything the next day. This gradient set was so beautiful, the name of the colorway was Larc's Song. I took a couple pics in 2 different places because the light made it look different....



Oh my God. Isn't it gorgeous?! The yarn is a standard superwash and nylon blend but this yarn is so soft in the hands, I know it will work up well. And get this....because it took them a while getting the yarn to me (I ordered mine from their Etsy shop and as I was ordering it said there was 1 available. Turns out they had to dye my order, therefore taking much longer than simply pulling it and shipping it) they threw in a full skein of this same base in the colorway Cypress which was also stunning....


Stunning, incredible gradient yarn. Stunningly good customer service. This is how you get repeat business. People will keep coming back to a company who treats their customers this way, I'll definitely go back to Kismet. So, say it with me....Kismet Fibers. You can check them out here. You can see the gradients kits specifically here. I will go directly through their website next time. Beautiful yarns, spectacular gradient kits. 

I am frantically knitting away at my last 2 presents. I should have plenty of time but still....Christmas is next Thursday. AHHHHH!!!!!! Are you also frantically knitting away?! Remember, we knit to stay sane! I would love to hear how things are going in your world right now, this close to Christmas. Until next time....Knit On!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Block Party !

Yesterday I did some blocking for Dilshani and Melanie. Here are the results. They are absolutely gorgeous! This first one is Dilshani's. I cant tell you the name of the pattern. I do know it is a Wooly Wonka Pattern and Wooly Wonka yarn. It was a special Gradient package of yarn that she used. She added yarn to it as well to be able to make it as big as it is. If you want to know the name of the shawl, let me know in the comments and I'll find out for you! This is one.big.shawl...







This next one is Melanie's. It has been a delight to see Melanie's knitting skills develop over time. I cant say that this was the greatest yarn she used because it bled color in the bath like nothing I've ever seen before. The water was BLACK. For several washes. Me and Mom did about 10 washed on it, including white vinegar, and finally got the water to grey. It was crazypants I tell ya. And it didn't affect the finished color of her shawl at all! At any rate...this is Melanie's. Again, I have no idea what the pattern is but the yarn was Yarn Bee from Hobby Lobby Diva Sequin in the colorway Kathmandu...






I do love blocking. Its odd, I know. Most people don't understand how and why I like blocking the way I do. Its that "TAH DAH!!!!" moment that you get when you're all done knitting and all your hard work pays off. You get to see it, right before your eyes. I love it. There will be more blocking in the future. Mom's Cinnamon Stone is in a wash bath as we speak. We will block this before baking. I don't think we're going to get much Holiday baking done myself. I've been writing all morning, she's been on the computer all morning, then we stopped for lunch, then she put her shawl in for a soak while we eat, then we'll block her shawl, and then how much time will be left for baking?!! LOL.  I am writing this ahead of posting because I could this morning. You guys will see it Tuesday evening and its still Monday here. Which means there is Monday Night Stitch Group. At 5pm. Baking?! LOL....I'm not sure about it. And its not that I'm resistant to it but I just don't think there is much time. At any rate, I hope your knitting is coming along and you are all meeting your Holiday deadlines. I have only a couple to meet and should do it without a problem. So, knit, bake, prepare, and knit some more...so until next time....Knit On!!!