Monday, January 23, 2017

Incan Doors: Part 2

And now for the doors of Machu Picchu. Enjoy.

This one is a little hidden, but it's in the fog on top of the terraced hill!

My favorite!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Incan Doors: Part 1

I threatened to do a post with just the Incan doors I loved from my recent trip to Peru. I have now FINALLY organized my photos from that trip (see my Shutterfly vacation page here for the whole trip) and created a special folder with just the doors.

Here are the non-Machu Picchu doors:



Technically a window!

Wind Gate, a.k.a. Huayra Punku:


And now hopefully you see why I love these trapezoidal things so much.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Winter break projects

Northwestern University gave us the full week off between Christmas and New Years, so you know what that means. I was crocheting and knitting my hands off (almost literally).

The first set of projects were some bulky hats I made for the clothing drive at my local library. I had some extra yarn from these bulky basket sets I made, so I did mix and match hats from a pattern I've made before.

I also dropped off a scarf I didn't want (but never wore), so the clothing drive got a nice little donation from my household this year. (I even saw my stuff in the picture that the Palatine Library posted on social media!)

One of my favorite but simplest new things is a cowl to go with the hat and gloves I already knitted a few months ago. 

The hat and gloves are Playbill by Leading Men Fiber Arts, colorway Punk Rock Highlights. I did the hat in Peru and had enough left over to do the gloves. (Bought this yarn at YarnCon Chicago 2016. Love this vendor!)

I wanted to make a cowl to match, but I didn't have anything that matched these fabulous gold and pink tones. 

I found Nature Spun Sport Weight by Brown Sheep, colorway Goldenrod, in Kanawha City Yarn Co. while I was traveling for Thanksgiving. I love that store and enjoy visiting it when we see Dave's family.

I modified a plain cowl pattern to include the zig-zag that appears in the hat. Yes, I like to be matchy matchy.

Another find at Kanawha City Yarn was Malabrigo Caracol, the yarn that looks like stained glass.

I used this yarn to make a hat-scarf combo for my mother in law, although I had to get some bulky black yarn because I didn't have enough Caracol. 

One other completed object is a lacy sweater I've been working on for a long time. I found it in a Vogue Knitting crochet special issue in 2012 and fell in love. I found a lovely cream blend on KnitPicks.

I've still got to block it, but I'll post a photo to Instagram when it's done. I do know that it fits, which is a relief. It looked really big when I was making it.

I worked on two other things that I posted about on Instagram, but they aren't completed yet. The first is a glove set (one down, one to go). The second is a legwarmer set (one down, one almost down). I am really happy about both of them, especially the yarn.

One thing I learned this week, though, is that I probably can't (or shouldn't) crochet 12 hours a day for 8 days straight... I got back to work on Tuesday and was typing with claw hands. Gotta take it easy.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Resolutions for 2016 & 2017

It's approaching the end of the year, so it's time to evaluate my 2016 resolutions, as well as list some resolutions and goals for 2017.

Resolution Recap for 2016

My resolutions this year were:
  • Run a 5K race in under 30 minutes
  • Crochet a Sophie's Universe mandala afghan
  • Practice a foreign language every week (my foreign languages are French, German, and Russian)
I ran several 5K races this year and got really close, but I did not run one under 30 minutes. I have, however, been able to reliably run a 5K on the treadmill in well under 30 minutes. So I'm going to call this one a mixed win.

I finished my Sophie's Universe afghan in April, so that one is a definite win. And I might make another one this winter. I already have the yarn...

The foreign language resolution was a win. In the first half of the year, I didn't do much except fill out a couple of workbooks I bought at Barnes and Noble. But when I booked a trip to Peru, I decided to work on Spanish on Duolingo (both phone and computer). It was so fun that I added French, German, and Russian, and I've been practicing each language every single day since then. 

Resolutions for 2017

Now that my assessment of 2016 resolution performance is complete, let's come up with some for next year:
  • Run a half marathon
  • Yarn bomb something
  • Bake a yule log
  • Crochet a yule log and share pattern on Ravelry
  • Say more positive things and less critical things
Will check back in throughout the year, as well as at the end, as always. Here's to you, 2017!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Two baby blankets

In 2011, I made my friend's kid a baby blanket. He didn't really stick with it, but his little brother picked it up and loved it. It has become his favorite thing, and he has worn it out. Moreover, he's outgrowing it. So I told the friend I would make another. (I know, I'm a sucker whenever something I have made is the kid's favorite thing!)

It's a pretty quick pattern, from A Year of Baby Afghans, Book 4 by Leisure Arts. The book is themed on months (because it's a YEAR of baby afghans), and the month for this pattern is November. 

I'm surprised how few people have crocheted this afghan on Ravelry! It's really quick and fun.

That said, it was not so quick when you increased the number of stitches. This thing is basically the size of an adult afghan. By the time the kid needs another blanket, he'll be in high school and he can just date a chick that crochets and she'll make him another one, because I'm done now.

But it's cute.

In other news, I also finished the gnome afghan and gave it to my friends this weekend at their baby shower!

I was super happy with how it turned out, and all my coworkers were really impressed as I was weaving in the ends at knitting lunch last week. I was a little nervous that I hadn't randomized the colors enough, but the overall effect still feels random and looks pleasing. 

And my blanket, surprisingly enough, was the only handmade gift at the shower!

Now to work on some short, quick projects to reward myself for finishing these two huge projects, both of which were for other people! I see leg warmers in my future, as well as finishing that wavy sweater...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pink and gray striped sweater

A few years ago, I treated myself to a five-skein kit of Rome by HPKY. This is a beautiful, soft single ply yarn.

This particular kit was supposed to be for making a striped triangle shawl. But I hate triangle shawls. Since I love the colors, I bought it and assumed I'd figure it out later.

The yardage worked out well to make the Flattering Shaded Tunic, a Lion Brand pattern. I thought I could produce some nice stripes to mimic the variegated pooling in the original pattern, simply by alternating the color skeins knitted up.

I really liked knitting this sweater. The colors were fun and interesting, and the yarn is super soft. Some people don't care for single ply yarns, but I think they're my favorites.

Sometimes it was slow going, as the pattern was almost all flat stockinette stitch except for some shaping, and some ribbing on the edges. It took me a few months to knit the body of the sweater, but I was pleased with the look of the random stripes:

And then, once I had finished it, there were so many loose ends that I let it sit folded on my coffee table for an embarrassingly long period of time. Sigh.

I also made one change to the pattern - I switched from knitting to purling when doing the turtleneck section so that the stitches still looked like knit stitches when you flipped it inside out. 

Wore it to work today paired with a soft gray blazer. 

Pretty much have to wear a blazer with it because it's bare-armed. But that's fine. I hate sleeves anyway!

I'm not going to count this as my "sweater that actually fits" under my 40 before 40 list because I had already substantially finished it over the summer. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Letter of support to Muslim teens

In the week since the election, a Facebook group has formed of over 100,000 American lawyers dedicated to fighting the backward, hateful, uneducated policies of Donald Trump. (Want to help working class people? Fine. Want to create a Muslim registry, appoint a white supremacist, discriminate against minorities, or kill the environment? We will fight you.)

During this planning phase of the group, there has been more strategizing than action. But one lawyer posted a request for letters of support to Muslim teens he works with at a community center. I can do that, I thought.

After I sent him the letter, I thought I'd post it here for all to read, because really it applies to all of the minorities that white nationalists are attacking. 

Without further ado...

* * *

November 18, 2016

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters,

A bunch of American lawyers – about 100,000 of us, in fact – have banded together on Facebook to strategize about recent events, and to prepare for future struggles. One of them posted to request letters of support for Muslim teens at a community center, so I am writing to you today.

The first thing I want to say is that I am sorry. I am so, so sorry for the message that some Americans have sent you this month and in recent years. I am a young(ish), educated, well-traveled professional living in a blue state in one of the bluest cities of America, so I don’t fully understand what is going outside of my bubble. But I am sorry that it has happened. 

My explanation is unlikely to give comfort to you at this time. I think humans fear the unfamiliar, and they love easy, black-and-white explanations. Those two aspects of human nature can be overcome if you have an open heart, if you feel safe, and if you are able to see the gray areas of the world. Too many Americans right now are uneducated, not well traveled, too fearful, and increasingly desperate for an improvement in their situations. They have been fed fear for years, and so they were able to swallow the message of hate.

The ultimate results of the election, however, have produced plenty that’s worth keeping hope alive for. The type of people I just described are the minority. America is becoming more educated and more diverse. Most American voters didn’t vote for Donald Trump – and now more and more of us have been awakened into political action the likes of which America has not seen since the 1960s. The 100,000+ lawyer group I mentioned earlier is one example, and an influx of donations to nonprofit groups is another. Americans are waking up, and we are fighting.

Remember with pride that you make America great simply by your presence. Thank you for being here, and thank you for fighting with us. I will defend your rights as fiercely as I can. I will protest nonviolently, I will write, I will call, I will march, and the haters will have to literally kill me before I allow one minority group to be oppressed. I am lucky to count LGBT folks, brown folks, and religions of all stripes among my family, friends, and coworkers, and I will fight for you all.

I am including my email below in case you want to write back. I am really, truly interested in what you have to say.

With all the love in the world,

Valerie Sherman
DePaul Law ‘09
Chicago, IL
[email obviously redacted, but feel free to post in comments]