Thursday, November 28, 2013

Whirlyball Birthday

Have you heard of whirlyball?  I hadn't either until my sister decided that is what her heart desired for her birthday celebration.

The first step to whirlyball is to sign away your life.

And then you strap yourself into a bumper car like contraption called a whirlybug.  You also have a scoop.  Here my mom and Roger are waiting for the ref to drop the whiffle ball down so that the game can begin.

The floor supplies power to the whirlybugs so you have to stay in your bug the whole time or else you might die (now you know why you sign away your life before you play!).  The photo above was during our game.  The red team (my team!) is trying to score.  I was slacking and taking this photo.  Each team tries to score points on the other in a clutzy, somewhat violent manner.


It was actually A LOT of fun.  I was surprised by how competitive and into it all of us got!  Our hour on the court went by really fast.

The birthday girl also got to open presents (with enthusiasm!).

I decorated the to-go box from the bakery (pumpkin whoopie pies!) and stuck candles in it in lieu of a full-on cake.

Hopefully the make-shift "cake" does not impact the likelihood of Jessy's wishes coming true.  It was good that she had one candle left burning after blowing them out, since that gentleman on the left is her boyfriend Fabrizio.  (Do you have that tradition where you live?  The one where the numbers of candles left burning on your cake indicate the number of boyfriends you have?)

Happy, happy birthday, Jessy!  You are a fun sister.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Shift Into Winter

We are there.  We have reached that time of year where there is just a teeny, tiny sliver of light left at the end of the work day.

The time of year where super strong, dark beer is utterly satisfying.

The time of year where craft sales abound (this one is Craft'za).

Even though we are past summer and nearly past fall, it is still nice to partake of those last few summery opportunities like eating from a food truck and making jam with a friend.  Gastrotruck is a favorite of mine.

Sarah made her very first batch of jam.  Raspberry Rose Jam is a good recipe to start with.  Heck, it is just plain good!

Steaming hot popovers and applesauce make for an appropriate breakfast when you've reached the point in the year where your wool sweaters are in regular rotation and the fall coats aren't thick enough to face the cold wind.

At this time of the year, winter squash, potatoes and carrots are in regular rotation for home-cooked meals.

Seared brussels sprouts are also commonly spotted in various dishes.

And, the knitting!  Let's not forget that we have reached that time, too.  When the garden goes dormant, the needles pick up speed.  The cat loves the readily available lap time.  That is her grey bum in the background.

I know that in this part of the world it will only get darker and colder before it gets brighter and warmer, so I am going to keep reminding myself of the wonderful things that come along with winter.  For me that means permission to slow down, to nourish myself through hearty homemade food, through sewing and knitting and through shared time with the other brave souls who inhabit this northern community.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago

What a wonderful and inspiring weekend I just had!  I traveled to Chicago to soak in the creative energy and knowledge from Vogue Knitting Live.  When I came across the event information a few months ago, I took a leap of faith that I would be feeling well enough to go and I booked it!  I am so very thankful that, although I had to be careful of a few things, generally I was feeling pretty stellar in comparison to recent months.

I was very happy when I floated the idea to my friend Becky and she jumped on board.  We flew in on a Friday afternoon and out on Sunday night, so it was a wonderful whirlwind of a weekend in the Windy City.

The Vogue event was at the Palmer Hotel, a gorgeous building full of decadence and glamour.  And, of course, plenty of space for sitting and knitting, holding a large marketplace, rooms for workshops and classes, a runway for fashion shows, and stages for panels. We took full advantage of what the event had to offer and participated in all of those things!

There is a knitting/design contest in the style of Project Runway called The Fiber Factor  that was prominently featured at the event.  The garments from the show were on hand and available for us to see (some we could try on!).  There were a few that were way too special to be handled, like the one on the left that has lights in it and the one on the right that is partially made from painted paper tags.

There were also fun yarn-related art pieces spread throughout the venue.  I really liked this large installation by Ashley Blalock.  There are more pictures on her website.

Becky and I each took 3 sessions worth of classes.  I took a color workshop that was an all day thing.  Unfortunately, it didn't hit the spot for me.  I was hoping for a more concrete color theory type approach and explicit technique instruction.  The class was more loose and self-directed and was entirely based on a prompt I didn't love.  It was a drag since I spent 6 hours of time in the class and don't feel like I came away with much.

I think some people in the class enjoyed it and produced some appealing work, but mine was hideous and did nothing for me in terms of informing my future color choices.  Oh well, it is always a gamble when you choose based on a small class description.

What more than made up for it was the class I took with Lily Chin the next day.  It was just the right content, at the right time, with fast pacing at an appropriate level for me. We learned how to approach designing sweaters from a draping perspective.  This was helpful to me as I have a goal to sew and knit more clothes and would benefit from draping knowledge in both realms.

We learned lots of useful tips and tricks in addition to watching 2 demos on how to drape different types of sweaters, convert them to a flat pattern and then write a pattern for it.  We touched on how to come up with the sweater math for shaping, which was useful, too.   It was a 3 hour class that will impact my knitting for a long time to come.  Now I need to build a body double and put this knowledge to work!

The marketplace was bursting with many tempting yarns, patterns and accessories.  In this picture, Becky is getting her Juju's Loops book signed and defending the merits of pizza.  I had to purchase modestly as I was travelling light and had limited space in my bag.  I didn't come back empty-handed though.  My most exciting purchase was an assortment of Jul pedestal buttons and a Jul floating buttonhole closure. I am really excited to start using these clever little closures.

Infinity in Chandeliers
Our passes included access to a fashion show where we saw the Fiber Factor garments modeled.  Becky and I both liked this poncho-esque sweater called Bravura.  It is a really clever design that a photo can't really capture.  When the model lifted up the back part of the poncho, the audience let out a collective "ahhhh!" at a hidden element of the design.  It was the closest I think I will ever experience to the knitting world's version of a fireworks display. The pattern is available so I might make this at some point.  I think a Jul closure would be perfect for keeping that open front closed against the cold air.

When were weren't at Vogue Knitting Live events, we made the most out of our time by eating well, catching up a ton (Becky and I see each other once a year so we have a lot of catching up to do!) and knitting together!

And, a little wine drinking, too.

Chicago has a lot going for it.

On our last day, we tucked a little bit of sightseeing in between our last knitting event and our flights out of town. These Tiffany glass domes at the Chicago Cultural Center were what brought us to the space. The rest of the exhibits in the building were totally gravy!

Among the other exhibits in the building was my favorite: Paint Paste Sticker: Chicago Street Art.

It was a excellent end to a revitalizing weekend.  I feel so inspired to knit and sew!  And that, my friends, is a very good place to be considering daylight saving time has turned our Minnesota evenings dark and we had our first snowfall last night.  I should have no problem keeping myself busy on those nights and weekends where hibernating at home has the strongest appeal.
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