The Very End of 2013

A few photos from my trip to Sitka, Alaska, where I spent the last days of 2013 with my little brother. I haven’t uploaded photos from my real camera, but I suppose these phone photos give enough of an idea of how misty and gray and beautiful it is there.

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Having only a few hours of twilight-y light each day meant a few hours of hiking or exploring the island, and many more hours of relaxing with my brother in the evenings, making dinners, drinking coffee, and watching movies and knitting. Dark mornings meant reading in bed for a few hours until it got light enough outside that I felt like I should venture out. I can’t remember the last time I actually did only leisure activities for more than a day, much less five or six in a row. And now I am so excited to throw myself back into normal life. Right now that looks like reading, knitting, half marathon training, catching up with friends, and some new work challenges. I’ve got my new 2014 planner (the same moleskine one I’ve used every year since I can remember, because I am a creature of habit to an unhealthy extent, but with a red cover this year, because I am acting like a person who embraces change). Let’s see how it goes!

(I should also add that I have one final book recommendation from 2013: Howard Norman’s I Hate to Leave This Beautiful PlaceThe last book I read before the end of the year, and one I’ll undoubtedly pick up again. I am often disappointed by memoirs, but this is a true exception.)

The Days Change at Night

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Because the majority of my recent knitting has been work- or gift-related, and has therefore been secret and unshareable (not a word), here are some photos from my recent escape to LA. As a girl who grew up in the Pacific northwest, then kind of the midwest, and now lives in New England, I was visually overstimulated the entire weekend. I knew LA was outside my usual aesthetic experience, but I didn’t realize exactly how far out. That’s not to say I didn’t like it.

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Why was I there? I was a human birthday present for my friend Jess, from her boyfriend, who I had never met before. If you’ve never been a human birthday present before, I recommend it; it’s a really nice feeling. And it makes you want to buy people lots of food. Go with that instinct.

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Besides food, the best things about visiting a new city are drinking all of the coffee and peeping in all of the local bookstores and libraries. Right? LA seems to favor juice over coffee (I get it, but also I don’t get it) ((maybe I just had funny luck walking into random places – I didn’t do any coffee research)). But the bookstores were amazing. I happened upon the 826LA Time Travel Mart, Stories (books and coffee in one – always ideal), Secret Headquarters, Skylight Books,  and pictured below, the Last Bookstore, which was sensory overload in the best way.

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I  didn’t look at yarn at all; having just cast on a sweater for myself in Loft, I’m feeling sufficiently spoiled in that area. But I did take in as much typical LA scenery as possible, and, as I often do on the west coast, I made a pigeon friend.

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la9Am I happy to be back in Providence, knitting in bed with my cat and listening to audiobooks? You bet I am, tootsies. I appreciate it a little bit more remembering that I have good friends in good cities and air mattresses and couches to sleep on whenever I can get away. (And coming soon: my own couch for the purpose of returning the favor as often as possible.)

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NWPA

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Spent last week with my family in northwestern Pennsylvania, one of my very favorite parts of the world. Lots of leisurely reading outside, cookouts, running my old high school cross country routes, a tiny bit of knitting, and enjoying the company of my four legged family members:

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We have some pretty good looking pups in our house. And the scenery outside isn’t so terrible either.

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And I got to stop in at the restaurant and brewery where my little brother is currently working post-college. He treated me to a sampler of their beers, and then, because I had to leave early to meet our mom, served my homemade ice cream (pistachio and peanut butter)  in to-go cups. That’s my kind of food service.

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Should you find yourself in the vicinity of Meadville, PA, stop in to Voodoo to check out some treats. It’s pretty cool to see a place like this in my hometown – I like to see a small town thrive.

For now, I’m back in my new small(ish) city until further notice. Hopefully with a quick NYC jaunt sometime in the coming weeks. Til then, it’s back to knitting and library books over here.

Baby’s First Trip to Block Island

My work recently took me to beautiful Block Island, a place I’ve been meaning to visit ever since I moved to Rhode Island five years ago. But somehow it’s really easy to skip visiting nearby locations in favor of more faraway destinations. So I was grateful to get a push out the door and onto the ferry.

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It was a pretty incredible day to go – densely foggy and extremely dramatic.

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It’s not every day I get to peek up inside a lighthouse. Very Gatsby, right? I can’t believe it took me so long to make it out there. Will definitely be returning after the summer season dies down for some scenic biking and more historical tourism.

(Also, designer friends, this would be a great location for a knitwear shoot. Just saying.)

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Earlier this month I did something I had never done before: went on vacation to New Jersey. That’s not to suggest that I have any problem with the Garden State as a destination; I just didn’t know a whole lot about it, having only ever passed through briefly. But after spending a weekend there with Hannah and Toms River native Liz, I think it’s safe to say I’m officially a fan.

Hey, here are some photos:

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The demolished boardwalk area was surreal, definitely unlike anything I’d seen before. But the remaining/rebuilt area was everything I hoped the Jersey Shore would be:

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This is only the tiniest peek at all the amazing things we saw. I ate as much frozen custard as I possibly could because that is one frozen treat that really seems to be scarce in Rhode Island. Fortunately on Monday I am heading to Meadville, Pennsylvania for a quick jaunt, and will be taking up residence at Hank’s as often as possible.

Oh, ps: travel bonus points for finding and posing with my very favorite thing in all the world: anthropomorphic food preparing to consume itself.

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Til next time, NJ. It was a real treat.

Wollmeise!

I can’t believe I never posted photos from my trip to the Wollmeise shop this summer. What an oversight – especially considering this is a sort of personal yarn mecca. I have often admired Wollmeise yarns online, but had never encountered them in person before. There are no yarn shops in my area of the states that carry it, and sometimes I am nervous about buying yarn online if I have never touched it, or at least seen the color in person. Not that you can’t just tell from photos that this is some extremely exceptional wool.

Fortunately, this summer I made a really wonderful new friend, and she took me to Pfaffenhofen for the Wollmeise summer sale. (!!!)

It was packed! Outside, people were admiring their purchases, looking at colors in the natural sunlight, and eating treats.

It was absolutely packed inside, but I did manage to sneak a few quick shots of some of the shelves when they were not flocked with humans. And immediately after taking my photos, I rushed to the shelves to paw at the colors myself.

I could have easily spent the entire week there, drinking coffee and examining the minute color differences from skein to skein. But of course, I did have a job back in Salzburg, and I had already taken one day off to go yarn shopping (fortunately my supervisor was also a knitter, and understood completely). So I had some difficult decisions to make. I ended up mostly buying lace, and because I am me, mainly solid colors. Still, let it be noted that I bought actual COLORS and only three gray skeins. And now please enjoy some glamour shots of my purchases:

For those of you who are not already versed in Wollmeise skeins (as I myself was not), let me explain. The grays pictured above are the 575-yard 100% wool sock-weight skeins. The lace skeins are the really amazing thing though – 1740 yards to a skein. That’s crazy! That is any laceweight project I want to make, all in one perfect bundle. I’ve started knitting Jared Flood’s Bridgewater shawl in the red-orange color. For scale, here is a picture of that skein wound into a ball (will definitely be using a winder for future skeins!) and as you can see, my hand is nearly eclipsed by it. And I do not feel weird telling you that I have sort of abnormally large hands to start with. On many occasions, upon seeing them, people have told me that if I do not already, I should really consider playing the piano.

I am actually kind of glad I waited so long to post these photos – it gives me an excuse to look back over them and remember this really fun day. I’ve been feeling awfully nostalgic for my time in Austria this summer, and it’s nice to get to relive fun parts of the trip whenever possible. And in the meantime, I’ll just hope I make it back there, and back to the Wollmeise shop, too, before long.

Can’t Help It

I cannot help bragging, I’m sorry. But this is my life right now, going to places like this:

And this:

And on regular weekdays, I follow up my eight hours in a beautiful library by walking next door to the most pleasant swimming complex I have ever seen:

I am not usually inclined to believe that things can  be this good. But somehow they are? I eat food that someone else cooks, I reread War and Peace, I knit things while I drink coffee on a terrace overlooking the Untersberg. Do I deserve this? Probably not. I promise that I also spend a fair amount of time worrying about the future and applying for jobs and thinking of ways in which I can better myself in order to restore some karmic balance to the world.

Also, I miss my cat very much. I think about that a lot.

Setting the Bar High

Location is weighing heavily on my mind these days. This is probably true for anyone throwing themselves into the job market after school, but working overseas right now, I feel particularly untethered.

The amazing thing about having no plans at all is that you end up doing things you couldn’t possibly anticipate. If I had created any kind of plan for myself, I can honestly say it would not have included living and working in Europe after grad school. And so while I am here, I am mainly trying to just let myself enjoy the experience without worrying about the future, though obviously it would be impossible to do that completely.