september

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The semester started, and things got busy. There were a couple of weeks where there was suddenly a lot to do – campus was full of people again, my PhD to-do list grew rapidly, we moved apartments (from one temporary place to another, for now), and there was plenty outside of all of that to keep us busy too. There wasn’t a lot of knitting during those weeks, but we’re starting to settle in now a little bit. And I have managed to finish a project or two.

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One of them is my Granskog tee which I finished a couple of weeks ago! Sadly I did not make it to Oslo Knitting Festival this year – this pattern was designed by Renata Yerkes for this year’s festival magazine – but I know I’ll make it back at some point. I made a few minor modifications to mine, which can be found on my Ravelry project page along with yarn info and other details. While I love the bright green color of this yarn from Sjølingstad Uldvarefabrik, I initially wasn’t totally sure if I was going to be able to pull it off. But I quite like it! This is the fourth green garment I’ve finished this year, so 2019 definitely seems to be the year of the green sweater for me.

I’ve gotten to wear it several times, which I’m grateful for, because the weather is starting to feel distinctly autumnal in Trondheim (although I can’t get over how much later autumn comes here compared with Tromsø) and I’m realizing how many of my warmer sweaters are going to be in storage until November, when we’ll be moving into our new long-term home. Warmer projects are quickly going to become a priority.

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For now, though, I’m continuing to enjoy the shift in the seasons in a new place again. As the evenings grow darker earlier, I’m looking forward to the peak of autumn foliage (only a few trees have started changing so far), and a part of me is really looking forward to the Norwegian winter again (although I’m glad it’s still a couple of months away). There is nothing quite like a Norwegian landscape covered in snow in the blue light that comes with the dark season.

mid-august

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Mid-August. And suddenly, it feels like late summer.

The weather took a turn in the past week. I knew it would have to eventually – the weeks of blue skies and sunshine felt a little bit like an endless summer dream, but without rain, even paradise has an expiration date. And so now we have some slightly cooler temperatures (in the neighborhood of 12-16°C or 55-60°F), grey skies, and pretty regular rain. But I am fond of weather like this too, and it’s been nice to go for walks when the rain lets up. As the nights are growing steadily darker, I’m looking forward to seeing the stars again.

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The back-to-school feeling is in the air as well. Suddenly, the city is full of people again, as people have come home from their vacations and Trondheim’s 35,000+ students have been streaming back into the city in time for the semester start. Businesses that were closed for the summer in July have re-opened, campuses that felt like ghost towns feel alive again, and while a little part of me mourns the loss of the quiet, beautiful summer I’ve been having, I am glad for the change, too. The return of everyday Norwegian life is making it easier to really feel that we have actually moved back, after arriving two months ago.

Based on what I’ve heard from everyone here, Trondheim can be quite nice through August and even September, so it’s very possible we’ll have another stretch of warm, sunny days at some point before autumn really sets in. But for now I’m grateful for the timing of this change in the weather, coinciding with the transition from summer holiday back to everyday life.

P.S. With all this back-to-school talk, I figured I’d mention that Quince & Co. is offering some back to school bundles, and included among them are my Drumlin scarf and Turlough hat. The bundles are kits which include both yarn and pattern, and they have several different colorway options available. These are a couple of my favorite things I’ve designed for Quince so I’m very pleased that they’re offering these and wanted to share.

a few summer snaps

In a country with a such long and dark winter, it is so important to soak up the summer. One of the reasons I was looking forward to arriving in June for this move (as opposed to August, the month we arrived in Tromsø) is that I hoped I’d be able to experience the Norwegian summer again right away. I’m happy to say that’s been the case – and I am loving summer in Trondheim. No deep thoughts today, just sharing a few photos from the past couple of weeks.

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lately

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The first week in Trondheim brought unexpectedly beautiful weather. Most of the past week has been nothing but rain, just at the moment most people here are leaving for their summer holidays. While the rain can grow tiring, it’s also somehow comforting. It definitely invites a spot of quiet solitude, and there’s a lot that I enjoy about quiet solitude – I think I have always had a soft spot for melancholy.

I feel like that makes me sound sad, and I guess I am a little bit. There is some sadness in a big change. There is loss involved, even when you’re excited about whating you’re moving towards. But there is a deep comfort in being back in Norway, back by the water, with nature so close. And we come back to Norway more confident this time. More sure of ourselves, of who we are, of what we want in life. There is still the anxiety of a new city, of not knowing many people. But I definitely feel more comfortable just being myself. When we first moved to Norway in 2015 I had a (mostly) subconscious desire to fit in, to not stand out. I wanted to “pass.” After two years away, I care much less about that this time around. That makes a great difference.

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The wet weather this past few days has meant I haven’t done nearly as much exploring outside as I’d like to. I walked all over the city in the first few days but I’ve been itching to go hiking in Bymarka, the forest that butts up against the west edge of the city. But I think I’ll wait for a dry spell. In the meantime, there has been knitting.

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I had the urge last week to buy a skein of Hillesvåg Tinde and whip up a hat, even though I brought several projects with me (the remainder of my yarn and projects are in our main pack, which we won’t have access to for a little while). I popped into Husfliden last week and grabbed a skein in Cognac (not my typical color choice, but I fell for it for some reason), and knit a Mellomlua over an evening and a morning. Super simple, very soothing. And now I have a new hat. It was only after I knit it that I realized that Tinde was the first yarn I bought after my move to Norway in 2015, and I knit a hat with it that fall. Accidental symmetry.

I’ve been feeling a little bit like I’m in the space between: the space between one stage of my life and the next. Eras of our lives aren’t sharply defined, for the most part, and they can blur together at the edges. But the longer I’m back in Norway the more I’m adjusting to it again, and one day I will wake up and realize I don’t feel like I’m in the space between anymore, and I won’t know when that happened. It’s only been two weeks. So for now, I knit, I walk, I read, and I get to work, of course, since a job is what brought us back here. And I’ll enjoy that.

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across the atlantic once again

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Perhaps some of you have been able to tell through my words here and over on Instagram over the past year and a half, but Montreal hasn’t clicked for us quite the way that Norway did. Montreal was always a little bit of an experiment for us, and there have been some wonderful things about moving here (not least of which is the wonderfully warm knitting community I’ve felt a part of from the beginning – thank you to all of you here in Quebec and Canada who have made me feel that way), but for over a year we’ve actually been thinking about, and subsequently planning, a return to Norway. That’s been our goal for a little while, and the only question was one of when.

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The question of when has now been answered – mid-June – because I’ve gotten a job as a PhD fellow in Trondheim. This is huge news for me and I am incredibly excited, not only for the move back to Norway but also for the project I’ll be working on once we get there. (For the curious, it’s in educational studies and it’s a pretty perfect combination of my background in both linguistics and TESOL.) I announced the move over on Instagram earlier this week and I can only say thank you to everyone who has shared comments of encouragement and excitement so far. Thank you, genuinely. It means a lot to me.

I started a pair of Trondheim mittens by Sofia Kammeborn earlier this month and used that photo to tease the announcement. For each of my master’s degrees I knit a pair of mittens for myself in celebration (you can find the project pages for them here and here) and so a Trondheim pair felt apropros for this next stage of my academic career. I chose yarns from my stash to knit them, choosing mostly Norwegian wool: two colors of Rauma Finull (dark blue and mustard), a very special skein of indigo dyed lambswool from Lofoten Wool (the light blue), and a skein of Finnish wool in the form of Tukuwool Fingering (the red). I’m particularly pleased with the Lofoten Wool here, because I bought this skein without knowing what I was going to do with it, and the price of that yarn makes it somewhat precious. So I think it’s really lovely to use it for a special project like this one.

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Trondheim is a new city for us and while it will be challenging to start over in a new city yet again, I’m feeling very optimistic and looking forward to starting to get to know the city a little bit better. I love the Norwegian summer and I’m so happy I’ll get to experience it this year. I’ve technically been to Trondheim twice, but one of those times was passing through while traveling on the Hurtigruten, a stop that lasts only three or four hours, so the two days we were there last September account for most of my experience with the city (the city photos in this post were taken on those visits). Of course I know it’s a city with many, many knitters, and I’m looking forward to TRDstrikk‘s first festival this August (sidenote: it has been so fun to watch the festival scene grow throughout Norway since I first moved there four years ago!).

As always I am grateful to those of you who follow along here and elsewhere, and I’m looking forward to sharing snippets of Norway again as I get to know my new city.

signs of spring

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Spring is a time of such optimism, especially in places with long or harsh winters. Living in Tromsø made me miss a springtime full of blossoms, and living in Montreal, I really, really appreciate spring when it finally arrives. Signs of spring are beginning to appear in Montreal this week.

I had one of those days this week with a pattern I’ve been working on that just made my brain feel like mush. Some patterns turn out to be more of an ordeal to work out than others, and I knew this was going to be one of those, but still… brain mush. I’d been at it for hours and needed a break. So I went for a walk, because I knew that would help.

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It helped to notice the baby leaves starting to grow from branches that have been bare for the past six months. It helped to notice the early blossoms blowing gently in the breeze. It helped to see things turning green again. I tend to feel so disconnected from nature here in the city, but this time of year I’m constantly being reminded that there are living, growing things all around me. There are moments of everyday beauty to be found if you go looking for them.

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The city comes back to life in more ways than one when the weather turns. Everyone is suddenly outside again as much as possible on nice days. To be perfectly honest, Montreal can take it a bit too far into chaos (it seems that all cyclists, car drivers, and pedestrians seem to lose their minds when the weather finally changes), but that’s a subject for another day. Today’s about the lightness I felt when capturing these images.

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I’m going to try to soak up the season this year, because this is our last spring in Montreal. We’re here on temporary work permits which are expiring this summer, and it’s time for us to prepare to move on to what’s next. There’s a lot to do, but on sunny days, I’ll make sure to get outside, breathe in and out, and find the lightness.

visiting a cabane à sucre

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Last year around this time of year I never managed to get around to having a very typical Québecois experience – going to visit a cabane à sucre, or a sugar shack. Quebec is not the only place that has them, of course, but it was here that I first learned of them and the concept is very tied to Quebec in my own mind. So this year, when a somewhat last-minute invite came from a friend to join a group going to a farm about 45 minutes outside of Montreal, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. So last weekend, we piled into a car and drove out to Rigaud, where we visited Sucrerie de la Montagne.

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I’m not going to lie – the whole experience is a *little* campy (the photo above is the horse-drawn cart that took us from the parking lot to the dining hall, a hilariously short distance), but it was also very, very fun. Even though it was a miserably cold and grey day with freezing rain coming down, everyone around us (ourselves included) was so very cheerful. I think some of that has to do with the sugar, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that going to visit a sugar shack is a very tangible sign of spring on the horizon in a part of the world where the long, harsh winter means we won’t be seeing flowers pop up for another month or two.

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Cold nights and warm, sunny days encourage sugar maples to produce sap, so it’s this time of year that the tree taps start flowing. Sucrerie de la Montagne still maintains a lot of the more traditional ways of production, so the maple trees around their grounds have all got metal buckets attached to the taps.

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A visit to a sugar shack involves a big meal – ours was in a large wooden dining hall, full of communal tables, with live folk music and a fire. And let’s just say that the meal isn’t very vegetarian friendly (but then, in my experience, most of the traditional Québecois foods aren’t). But the last course involved pancakes and sugar pie, and those were predictably very good. After the meal we all headed outside for tire d’érable, or maple taffy.

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Troughs of fresh snow are laid out and maple syrup is poured over the top. Once the syrup has sunk in a little bit, you take a popsicle stick and roll it through the syrup for a little sticky maple popsicle. It is, as you would guess, very sweet! But if you just have a small one it’s not so bad.

I’m happy to have finally crossed this experience off the to-do list. And I’m very happy that it’s finally feeling like spring is just on the horizon. This winter hasn’t been as hard as the previous was, but it’s nice to have reminders like this that this one, too, is coming to an end.

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edinburgh

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Edinburgh Yarn Festival is always such a whirlwind. This time last week, I was sitting in the marquee at the big knit night, seaming a sleeve onto my Lapwing sweater. Now, I’m home, slowly working on the comedown + re-entry to real life. I wish I’d booked myself more time in Scotland, to be honest, but there is work to be done, and I know I will be back for a proper visit again sometime too (Edinburgh itself is always so lovely to visit).

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Many, many knitters are familiar with Edinburgh Yarn Festival by now, even if only by reputation. It’s a massive event, one organized by just two people, which always blows my mind (thank you Jo and Mica!), as there’s so much to coordinate and stay on top of while trying to make sure everything runs smoothly and everyone gets what they need to have a good festival. This was my second time going, and it has grown since I last went in 2016. The addition of the marquee is really excellent, as it does create vastly more space for folks to sit and knit and chat than there used to be. And while I think we come for the yarn and fiber, many of us stick around for the people.

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I took few photos and while I took some video, I took very little at the festival itself. Lucky for me, many other people were much better than I am at taking photos together. From left to right starting with the top row, I borrowed these photos from MinaMinaMina, then Espace TricotCalon Yarns, and Cross and Woods. It turns out Mina (of the Knitting Expat podcast) is especially excellent at getting group photos, as you can see. (Links go to the original posts on Instagram.)

I met so many new people this trip. Some were people I’d interacted with online, some were brand new, and I feel like everyone was so lovely. Thank you, if you’re someone I got a chance to say hello to, especially to those of you who came up to say that you enjoyed my patterns or that you’ve found my YouTube videos interesting or useful – that means so very much. I took note that there was a lot more of that this year than the first time I visited three years ago.

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I bought more than I was planning to, which I should’ve been able to predict. There is the frenzy of the festival which is easy to get swept up in, yes, but more than that, the EYF marketplace is undeniably one of the most interesting festival marketplaces out there, in my book. There’s so much interesting and unique wool to be found: single breed, single origin, rare breed, and so on, whether undyed, acid-dyed, or naturally dyed. One particular highlight this year was getting to spend a bit of time at The Woolist‘s stand, and getting to chat with Zoe, who’s behind the project. I think I’d like to plan a full blog post about that project at some point in the future, because it deserves to be highlighted.

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I came home with a mix of yarns: vivid pink lac-dyed Finnish wool from Aurinkokehrä (purchased from Midwinter Yarns); sock minis from Phileas Yarns for a very silly project I’ll show you at some point in the future; two charcoal skeins of Amirisu Parade*, a summery blend of wool, cotton, linen, and silk (!); a skein of Falkland aran weight, naturally dyed by Ocean by the Sea, a teal skein of high-twist Corriedale from Ovis et cetera, and two skeins of Hillesvåg Sølje (because of course I came home with some Hillesvåg). I also bought a hand-woven wrap from Ardalanish, woven on the Isle of Mull, and a few books from Ysolda‘s booth/shop, which is as excellent a space as everyone says it is. The good news is, I managed to fit all of this into my hand luggage, since I was traveling without checked bags. Just barely, but I made it work.

*These two skeins were a gift from the lovely ladies of Amirisu – thank you, Meri and Tokuko!

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For now I’m left sorting through memories of the past week, thinking about everything I’m grateful for and the people I’m going to miss the most. It’s so wonderful that the festival brings so many people together, but it’s a bit like going to a wedding in that it’s not for very long and you don’t get as much time as you’d like to catch up with anyone. But we had fine weather, fun times, and overall an amazing weekend, so I can’t really complain. So once again, until next time, Edinburgh…

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midwinter reflections

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For me, January passed by in a flash. It brought cold weather: snow and ice and chilly winds, as it does in Montreal. When the weather was fine, I made an effort so spend some time outside. When it wasn’t, I’ve been inside, working. Knitting. And sometimes baking. I actually really like January (maybe it’s easier when it’s your birthday month?) but I know that January is often hard for many. That’s more and more true for me as I get older, too. I’m not that sorry to see it go this year.

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February brings us one step further into the year. It brings some plans for this year closer to fruition – new patterns among them, but also travel. I have a trip later this month, but I’m also really looking forward to heading back to Edinburgh this March for Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I went in 2016 and enjoyed it so very much, and it’s hard to believe that was three years ago. I’m very excited and very grateful to be going back. We are also in the midst of figuring out what the second half of this year looks like, since our Canadian work permits come to an end later this summer and we’re not 100% sure what our next move will be. (That doesn’t mean we don’t have ideas we’ve been working on, but there are factors outside of our control that play a large role.) So this winter feels like a little bit of limbo. And so I work. And bake.

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I have also been very tuned in to the conversation about racism in the knitting community that began towards the beginning of January. I think it’s a very important conversation to be having, and one that’s long overdue. I’ve been listening to the voices of many of the BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) members of this community because their words deserve our attention. It’s hard to cover very much in the space of a short blog, but I wanted to acknowledge it here because it is important.

If you are a white knitter like I am, I hope you recognize that everyone who has shared their experiences with racism or microagressions in this community is facing into their own past trauma every time they share those stories, and if you are shocked by the experiences they have shared (“I can’t believe this is happening in 2019!”), recognize that being able to feel that is the white privilege that they are referring to. Please have the respect to believe them. Please understand that they cannot, will not just “stick to knitting” because even in the knitting community they face exclusion based on the color of their skin. Defensiveness is a common reaction from white people when they are faced with the everyday racism our societies are entrenched in, and if you feel that, I would suggest you sit with that and give yourself some time to reflect before you speak up about it; if someone shares their experiences with racism with you and the first thing you say back to them is some version of, “but not all white people!”, the impact of that is to dismiss and minimize that already marginalized voice. Maybe “I’m so sorry you’ve been treated that way” is a better starting point. Also keep in mind that when knitters share the experiences of racism they have faced and they talk about white privilege, they are not saying that you, as a white knitter, have never been discriminated against for other reasons – just that you haven’t been discriminated against because of your race. Ageism, ableism, homophobia, these are all real too. And those conversations are happening too. But the conversation at large has been about racism. If you’re looking for resources to educate yourself about these issues, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to recommend some books/podcasts/articles, depending on what you’re looking for.

If you are a BIPOC member of this community, know that I see you, and I hear your words, and I am listening. I am so grateful for the experiences and perspective everyone has shared that have opened my eyes and I am so sorry you have had to live those experiences. You are welcome here, and if I ever do or say anything that makes you feel unwelcome, I hope you will call me out on it.

Edited to add: I turned on comment moderation when I published this post, because I want the comment section to be a safe space for BIPOC. If you submit a comment that I feel would make BIPOC feel unheard or unsafe, I (and only I) will see it but I won’t be approving that comment to appear here. You’re free to speak your mind on your own platforms, but this is my space and I will do what I can to keep it a safe and inclusive one.

looking back at 2018

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I’ve been taking some time to look back, as one is wont to do at this time of year. Yesterday was the winter solstice, which means this year has almost drawn to a close. 2018 has been quite a year. I released a lot of patterns this year. I knew I had done more work than usual, and kicking it up a notch in the first full calendar year after finishing my master’s degree was the plan, but still, when I sat down to count out how many new designs I actually released, I was stunned to realize there were twenty-four of them. 24 new patterns in 2018! Fifteen of those came in the form of three collections. I am absolutely astonished at my own productivity. Of course, there are some things that helped make this achievable – working with third parties always makes the work less for me, and tied to that is the fact that the work for some of this year’s releases was actually done in 2017 (or in the case of Fog & Frost, even earlier). Sample knitters also knit a few of these samples. These are all things I’m grateful for as someone designing and writing knitting patterns. But here’s a look at my 24 patterns of 2018 (a list with links will follow in case something piques your interest):

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From left to right –
Row 1: Frost FlowersLyngenAlice Mittens
Row 2: Mountain HumPolar NightNorth Wind
Row 3: West WindCloud PineAdrian
Row 4: OpalDortheaTurlough
Row 5: DrumlinWeekend Walking MittsCaithness
Row 6: Tremblant ToqueLe Massif ScarfSutton Slippers
Row 7: Stoneham PonchoBromont MittsBrave at Heart
Row 8: Just and LoyalWit Beyond MeasureGreat Ambition

The collections are definitely all highlights – Fog & Frost, the Chalet Collection for Espace Tricot, and Lion, Badger, Eagle, Snake. The reception for the latter two in particular has been incredible, and I don’t know how to say thank you in a way that actually conveys my gratitude. But thank you.

A few of these patterns were published in books, and it is always exciting to see my name and my work in print. Opal and Dorthea were published in the Norwegian book Ruter og Lus: Retrostrikk fra Salhus Trikotagefabrikk (which I wrote about here) and I still can’t quite believe the museum wanted me of all people to be involved with that project. And then Caithness was published in Kate Davies’s new compilation of hat patterns, Milarrochy Heids, and it means a great deal to me to be included in those pages and to call Kate a colleague and a friend.

I also returned to teaching this year, giving a few classes at Espace Tricot and teaching a full weekend of workshops at Twist Festival in Saint-André-Avellin, Québec. I spent eight months of this year working at Espace Tricot as well, getting to know local knitters and making friends and generally becoming a part of the wonderful fiber community in and around Montréal and Québec, so being invited to teach at Twist was a highlight. All the classes I gave were colorwork related, and it brings me so much joy to share my love and knowledge of colorwork with other knitters.

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From top to bottom: teaching my Traditional Mittens workshop, being interviewed by Transistor Media (you can listen here), and hanging out with buds in the Knitting It Up Yarns booth (first two photos by Sébastien Lavallée for Twist Festival, third photo courtesy of Annie of Knitting It Up)

While I’ve been invited to teach at a few retreats and events in 2019, I’m not anticipating very much teaching in the coming year, I’m sorry to say. The reason for that is that I’m likely looking at another big move next summer (which can make event planning difficult-to-impossible), but more on that at a later date.

Plenty of other things have happened this year – I read 30 books, I learned a new craft, I traveled to some new and exciting places as well as some old and familiar ones. I feel I have so much to be grateful for right now. Given the year I’ve had, I’m taking it easy for the last few weeks of the year, and I’m looking forward to spending the Christmas holiday with family and friends. I am especially grateful to you, my readers, followers, customers. You all are a massive part of the wonderful year 2018 has been on a professional level, and I can’t say thank you enough. My birthday falls on the first of the new year, and some of you may remember I held a birthday sale on patterns last year – keep an eye out, because I plan to do the same this coming year. It’s such a nice way to say thank you for the year just gone by.

Whatever the end of 2018 holds for you – travel, festive celebrations, time for quiet reflection – I hope you enjoy it. And I’ll see you in the new year.

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