Birthday Escape, The Follow-Up

Here some of the few pictures I took during my two-night birthday getaway to Langley on Whidbey Island. The mornings were foggy and the days were sunny and delightfully mild.

Little did I know that the wi-fi in the place I stayed at was so sub-par, that I couldn’t post much more than I did the day I arrived.  In fact, it took all day to download a movie rental from iTunes (Four Weddings and a Funeral).  There was some knitting, and I had expected that that would be the primary focus of my time away, but I was thwarted by being unable to find the old sweater back home I was to frog for one new project, poorly calculated yarn purchase for another project, and a really bad case of indigestion (my birthday meal consisted of Tums, milk, cheese and crackers in my room).

I did visit the local yarn store, and succeeded in avoiding a reach for my wallet, which I now regret, because I want to support the locals. However, if you visit Langley, I highly recommend you check-out Knitty Purls; it’s a great little store jammed with all the temptations a yarny could ever want, including a nice selection of locally-spun yarn.

Located at the south end of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Langley is a great little town with a low-key pace, and activities there can be as active as kayaking or as mild as walking in and out of the shops.

Actually, just about any place you visit in Washington State has a low-key pace compared to some of the larger, more popular tourist destinations in the U.S.  This is probably because Washington isn’t high on the list of tourist destinations due to it’s lack of high-profile tourist venues and, since I think when people travel in the U.S. they think of New York City, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Alaska, Chicago, Las Vegas, Florida, Boston, Washington D.C., etc.  Tacking someplace out of the way like Washington State onto a trip to one of those places, with exception of maybe Alaska is a bit of a reach for most people’s vacation time and money.  We definitely get our share our tourism in Seattle proper, as any local will tell you when they try to find parking in downtown, but it’s not a mob scene that one often associates with other places, and the tourism in the outlying areas of the state is probably more in-state tourism, versus that consisting of tourists from the far-flung reaches of the world.  However, for those who do venture to Washington, and to locales such as Whidbey Island, you can expect a relaxing vacation, and one that doesn’t wear you out for your return to your everyday life back home.  For me, despite my bout with an upset stomach after two nights away, I returned relaxed and refreshed and felt like I’d been gone for a week.


Just Ducky

I finally finished crocheting a duck for my son, over a year after starting it.

Daisy is a personal copy of a plush toy that is officially licensed off of the Daisy book series by Jane Simmons, a sweet and very enjoyable series of children’s books, by the way.  Below are a couple of pictures I took of the real plush Daisy last year.

Copying Daisy came about when the preschool my son was attending incorporated the plush toy as part of a book bag that children could borrow and take home to read.  The Daisy book bag with plush toy was among the most popular with the kids.  My son really wanted his very own Daisy, and he cried about it.  Often.  Unfortunately, in searching the Internet, it seems that this specific plush toy is not readily available, so I thought I’d try my hand at making our own personal copy.  The real Daisy is very cute and trying to capture her character was not easy, especially for someone like me, who rarely crochets.

I wrote nothing down as I went about making Daisy, since I have no idea how to accurately document all of the shaping of a crocheted amigurumi.  There was so much crocheting and ripping-out of work.

I used mostly Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash and I sewed a little bag of plastic pellets to put inside the body to give her some heft.

Embroidered bullion knots were used to copy the curls found on top of the head of the original plush toy, which represent the curled feathers on Daisy’s head in the illustrations of the book series, and the eyes are embroidered French knots.

I copied every aspect of the original Daisy, right down to how the duck bill was sewn to the head, because it adds to the character of this well-designed plush toy.  The shaping of the head, though, was beyond my crocheting abilities, and I just could never quite get it to look more like the original.

I even constructed the legs and feet much like the original, and even sewed the legs to the body in the same manner so that they would have the same floppy movement.  Call me a die hard perfectionist, I guess.

The only thing I didn’t quite copy was the wings.  I just couldn’t figure-out how to crochet them as a direct copy, so I “winged-it” and designed something that would serve our Daisy well, although I did sew them to the body in the same manner as the original.

It was such a long, drawn-out affair, but it was all worth it.  Daisy was hatched without much fanfare and happily welcomed by its recipient.  I’m pleased with how she turned-out and, more importantly, so is my son.

So ends my duck tale.

My knitting world is shrinking.

I was recently surprised when I opened my email to find a message from Hilltop Yarn East announcing the closing of its doors on June 27.  With the closing of this store, the only dedicated Eastside yarn stores I know of are Cultured Purls in Issaquah (which oddly doesn’t show up on Google Maps on my iPhone) and Main Street Yarn in Mill Creek.  Of course, there are still craft stores in the area with sizable yarn departments, most notably Ben Franklin Crafts & Frames in Redmond and Pacific Fabric & Crafts in Bellevue. On the other hand, with the demise of numerous knitting-related blogs over the past year, I’m beginning to think that perhaps the crazy phenomenon of the explosion of new knitters and interest in things knitting-related over the past decade is winding down, and that maybe it was a fantastic fad.  I rather cringe to call my beloved hobby of 25 years a fad, but it’s been a great ride. I’m here, though, still actively knitting, perusing Ravelry, salivating over the latest and greatest patterns, and blogging to a silent blogosphere.

On that point, let’s look at my latest finished project —

Frost Diamonds was a nice project, and it went pretty quickly, but then with worsted yarn it should be quick. Right?

The pattern went along well, with only a couple of confusing mess-ups.

I think I should have done three repeats of Chart B, because with the weight of the yarn, it almost seems to need to be a bigger shawl.  I have enough yarn, but not enough motivation, and will leave it alone.

I know I’ve made a lot of purple stuff, but this really isn’t purple, it’s a deep burgundy. Which I guess is kind of a purple….

Pattern Frost Diamonds, by Stephanie Japel
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, “Gothic Rose” colorway
Needles: 6.5 mm/U.S. 10.5