She spins and she spins and she spins…

I love fall. The food, the crisp weather, the chance to finally wear sweaters again without, well, sweating.

The other lovely part of fall is that it’s no longer too hot to be covered by fiber of all sorts. One of my favorite ways to end up covered in fiber is spinning. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better evening than watching British detectives on PBS while spinning. (Unless it’s Italian detectives and knitting, but knitting while reading subtitles can get a bit dicey. Definitely not a time for working lace charts).

I’ve been spinning a lot lately, as I work my way through an entire alpaca blanket that belongs to my mother-in-law. An excellent fiberista herself, she came upon said fleece in a trade for a knitting machine she was re-homing. After a trip to the mill, it now it sits in my spinning basket, as I spin my way through it evening after evening.

You would not think alpaca were large beasts, at least not compared to their cousin, the llama, but an alpaca blanket takes a lot of time to spin. At this point, I’ve been spinning for weeks and I have one last bag to finishing spinning, then ply, and then I have a big bag of newly made yarn that needs to be washed so that the twist will set.

Now, I love to spin but I have to admit that I’m looking forward to the end of this one! It’s a beautiful black fiber, made a bit more manageable by blending with just a tad of merino (20%), so it spins up nicely. But, it’s a big project and we’ll both be gratified if I get it done during our lifetimes. I think she’s planning a sweater and it will be a very warm sweater indeed.

I’ll post photos once I get to the end of the project. At the very least, I need photographic evidence that I managed to finish!

Ah, Fall!

I think fall is my favorite season. The weather starts to cool, the crock pot comes out of hiding, and stews and soups are back on the menu. Also on the menu is home-baked bread and muffins and biscuits and well, you get the picture. After a tough year of eating gluten-free, I’m finally well again, so this fall, I’m baking again. I never did figure out the high-altitude baking thing and going gluten-free made it just about impossible. My husband is enjoying the inspiration (not to mention the home-baked bread), even if there still are the occasional flops. (Even flops taste good if you put enough homemade jam on them).

Fall also inspires me to start knitting again. While I am a knitter year-round, it’s a bit hard to focus on knitting a wool sweater when it’s 90 degrees outside. There’s something about the crispness of the air and the sight of leaves turning that inspires me to get that sweater back out and finish it so I can wear it this winter.

It’s also a time to finish off a couple of pairs of knit socks that are in progress, and perhaps start something new. It’s time to start thinking about holidays and having all the kids come home. For me, it’s just a lovely and hopeful time of year.

I hope you’re enjoying the cool weather too. Maybe settling down in a chair with a book and a nice cup of hot cider, or enjoying a bowl of chili with cornbread after a football game.

Happy autumn, everyone!

Mardeeknits’ 2013 in review

This was kind of interesting so I thought I’d share. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Reflections on the Birth of a New Year

Today is January 1st, the first day of a new year. Across America, people will be joining gyms, making resolutions and generally deciding to be a better person in 2014. I’m not against that, but I think moving into the new year without looking back at the past can sometimes be a mistake.

I have to be honest and say that 2013 will go down in my own personal recollection as a really tough year. Not the worst I’ve ever had but certainly in the top 5. It was characterized by a major illness and one of the most difficult kind – when doctors have no clue what is going on, so they really can’t help much. In the end, we finally figured it out and I will go into 2014 feeling much better.

It was also a rough year socially. Being sick (and especially having an illness which affects what you can eat) cuts at the bonds with family and friends, and really tells you who has your back when things get hard. Some people surprised me, and not in a good way. Others have turned out to be the kind of true friends I’ll cherish forever.

So, how does 2014 look? To start with, I’m optimistic that it will be better. I’m not making any real resolutions, merely planning to expand my horizons, continue to work on my health and get out more to meet new people. I’m going to start quilting again, and plan to buy the supplies to make a new quilting frame this week. I’ve joined the local quilt guild and may take some classes at the local quilt shop. I’ve got several quilt tops I hope to finish and several fleeces at the fiber mill that I’ll be spinning. I have a couple of new sweater patterns I want to try. All in all, I’m guardedly hopeful that 2014 will be a good year.

As for you, friends and readers, I hope for you, whether 2013 was good or bad, that 2014 is an outstanding year, filled with all the things that make you happy. I wish you health and hope and the love of family and friends.

In fact, I guess I wish that for me as well.

Happy New Year.

A Christmas Blessing

Here in Colorado, we’re in the midst of a true winter storm. It’s been snowing for hours and while it’s a pain for those who need to get out and go places, it’s also stunningly beautiful. I spent last night on the sofa watching the snow fall and listening to a boys’ choir sing some of my favorite Christmas classics. I managed not to cry during O Holy Night, which was a feat for me because I love that song. I’ve sung it on Christmas Eve in church many times and it always breaks my heart just a little to hear it. They followed that up with Still, Still, Still, which is another of my favorites.

So while I was entering into the holidays with more than a little trepidation, I think I’ve found my Christmas spirit and I wanted to share it with you. You see, for me Christmas has always been a religious holiday, a season in which we celebrate the real miracle of Christmas, which didn’t happen on 34th Street but instead happened in Bethlehem when God became Man and came to live among us. It’s not about the presents and the Black Friday shopping. It’s about faith and family and bringing good things to the world.

This Christmas season , I wish for all people:

* Hope and healing for those who have troubles

* Safety and security for those in danger

* Food and warmth for those without

* Courage for those who face difficult situations

* Gratitude for those who are struggling to find the good in their lives

* Peace for those who struggle with the season and past disappointments

* Blessings and love

Amidst the frustration, worry and fear this season can sometimes bring, I hope you find time to soak in the peace, listen to a choir sing your favorite hymns, and delight in the fact that we use this time of year as an excuse to see people we rarely get to see. Surround them with love, whether they are family or friends, and know that I’m wishing you the same.

Blue Skies

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words so this will be brief. After a couple of days of cloudy, snowy weather, Colorado has decided to turn to its usual gorgeous azure blue.

So today, I’m grateful for this:

Rocky Mountain National Park in Fall. (Taken 10/2013). How can you not love this place?

Rocky Mountain National Park in Fall. (Taken 10/2013).
How can you not love this place?

What are you grateful for today?

Miscellaneous Gratitude

I’m going to try to hang in there for the last few days of 30 Days of Thanks despite falling off the wagon a bit. Today I’m grateful for:

* The fact that my in-laws have found a great place to live and will be living close to us here in Denver starting next spring.

* My son who’s coming home for the holiday tonight (fingers crossed on the weather!)

* My work, although that’s why this will be a brief post. I gotta get back to it!

What are you grateful for?