During most of 2012 when I was immersed in Newbery reading, I had very little time for knitting. It rather drove me insane. Most of what I got done was gifts: a couple of baby sweaters, gloves for my mom, etc. I didn't entirely quit knitting, but I was down to just an hour or two a week, mostly during Sunday dinners. Just before Mom's birthday in November, I made her a pair of podster gloves, gloves with the fingers and flip mitten tops for use with iPhones and smart phones. Mom has crazy long fingers and I was really worried about making the gloves right. She was excited to tell me that they are the first pair of gloves she has ever had that fit right. She also rather amusingly referred to them as having "turtlenecks" for her fingers. That's apparently a good thing. Yay! I'm calling that a win! Yarn is Socks That Rock lightweight, color Schwarzwald which was a Rockin Sock Club colorway from July 2011. This was my second time making this pattern. The first had been Christmas 2011 gloves for David. I finished up some socks that have been on the needle for over a year. They began as a sample to teach a knitting class. Knit the first one for the bulletin board and started the second one during the class. I finally finished them up this last week. Yarn is JoAnn's Sensations Bamboo and Ewe patterened. Pattern is a basic toe up sock pattern that I came up with mostly on my own, with help from Wendy's generic toe up sock pattern. The rush of babies continued, you saw some of them and their sweaters in the Happy New Year post. This weekend was a baby shower for Mallory and John's new baby. I made their little boy a baby sweater vest. It's a bamboo/wool yarn blend and the pattern is Julian vest with an extra repeat of the "v" pattern. The size is 9 to 12 months-ish. I never worry too much about the gauge with baby garments. It will fit the kid at some stage of development. And in Alaska there is never a season where a sweater is not appropriate wear. So I made the 12 month size, but the gauge is a bit tight. Label it 9 to 12 months. It all works out. I had more trouble with the edging. By now you would think I would be capable of picking up stitches and knitting a simple rib, but it took me more tries then I would like to admit. However the end result is adorable. Plus it has these cute little buttons on the sleeves to make it easier to go over baby's head. So much fun! This last week as I have slowed down on the Newbery re-readings, I've been ramping up the knitting. I rather have this thought that if I finished up everything (or most everything) on the needles, than after I get back from Newbery discussion (at the ALA Midwinter conference in Seattle) then I can knit whatever I want. Anything. Everything. And I'll be free of "should be reading" guilt and "this project has been on the needles for 7 months" guilt. The first priority will be my wedding shawl and David's wedding socks. But I am allowed (we voted on it as a committee) to knit during Newbery discussions and there are two plane trips plus three extra days in Seattle with my sister and parents. I don't want to cast on wedding shawl/socks until after I get back. Of course I'll also be taking David's scarf that is 2/3rds done. But it is 2/3rds of a full sized scarf, not the most portable/purse friendly sock. So I think this calls for a new project. I already wound the yarn. You prep for Midwinter conferences your way and I'll prep my way (read: wind yarn). This Newbery adventure has been amazing, but I will be glad to be back to my regularly scheduled life. I am thinking that it will be a decade or so before I want to take on this again.
As we receive more holiday cards, letters, emails, blog posts, and updates, we feel vaguely guilty about not sending our own. Well, I feel guilty, David is more ambivalent. In lieu of a mailed card or greeting, we wanted to share with you some of the joys and adventures we have had in 2012. January began with me (Elizabeth) traveling to Dallas for the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. I was there to begin serving my term as a member of the Newbery Medal committee. It would end up being quite an adventure. Publishers sent me masses of books for consideration. As of last count, I have received 507 books, read 153 entirely and partially read another 75. In the first month of 2013 I will finish up re-reading the finalists for the award, head to another conference to vote for the winner, and cheerfully donate the majority of the books to libraries and schools. At the end of February, on Leap Day, David purchased his first house! Buying it directly from Mike and Kristen made the process easier for a first time home buyer. And it meant lots of friends to help with both their move and his move. March marked David turning 28! A very nice, responsible age, for a nice responsible adult home owner. He especially celebrated that it brought the last of the snows of an epic winter, 134.5 inches of snow, a new Anchorage record. It is entirely possible that no one was more excited about breaking the winter snow record than him. This spring also brought babies to some of our good friends. Mike and Kristen welcomed their daughter, Samantha, and Chris and Hilary welcomed their son, Arthur. We've had lots of time to play and bond with the little ones and discovered that David has a secret power. His fantastic body heat lures infants to sleep. Most of you know that on May 5th 2011 David and I met at a friend's party. This year on Cinco de Mayo David allowed me to believe we were going out to dinner with a friend. Instead I discovered rose petals leading to him sitting at a candlelit dinner of Moose's Tooth (the same as our first date) surrounded by vases of my favorite flowers. After an amazing dinner, we drove to Point Woronzof, one of our favorite places to take walks, went down on one knee and proposed. I was so excited to say yes that I didn't notice the friend who had hosted the previous party hiding in the parking lot photographing the entire thing. Thus we have beautiful professional photos of one of the best moments of our lives. (And why yes, that was what David and Ray were discussing at dinner.) June brought my 30th birthday. I don't feel old. Not really. But it is very weird to be 30. The summer also brought a unique career opportunity for me. Because of staff turnover, I managed 2 libraries, one of which had no other professional librarians. It was hard work and stressful but a great learning experience. In June I also went to the American Library Association Annual Conference in Anaheim to learn about librarianship and attend more meetings of the Newbery committee. Summer brought the usual fishing experiences and David stepped up and filled the freezer with salmon to keep us going through the long winter months. Hunting was less successful this year due to heavy rains cancelling trips and moose scarcity after the difficult winter. However we had all the usual Alaska summer fun: hiking, the State Fair, and staying outdoors as much as possible. We also took an opportunity this summer to get away for a couple of days and drive the old Denali highway. I got to see the pipeline for the first time and we enjoyed the first of a lifetime of camping trips. Fall had both of us working especially hard. I continued to plug away at reading juvenile fiction while David studied furiously for the Professional Engineering Exam. The last week of October was a nail biter as a confident but still nervous David took the exam. It wasn't until mid-December before he would learn the good news - he passed! David Nicolai is now a PROFESSIONAL MECHANICAL ENGINEER! He is ready to build all the things for you. Unfortunately the fall also brought sorrow. David's family lost his beloved Nana. Angelline Gamache departed this world after 80 years surrounded by generations of family and love she had created. Her legacy will live on for years in the many friends, neighbors, and family members she touched. Aside from the large moments, our life continued in small ways as well. David is still with Coffman Engineers and still playing and refereeing soccer year round. I didn't have as much time to knit this year with my reading duties, but I found a few moments. I also gardened a little, crafted a bit (discovering Pinterest might have been a problem) and baked a lot. We tortured the cats, walked, biked (we both purchased bikes this year), hiked, and enjoyed the company of family and friends whenever possible. We have a lot of plans for 2013. I have a new spinning wheel I can't wait to learn to use. David has a brand new PE license and plans to build. Next year might be the year we both go hunting and we'll see who brings home the moose (or bison or caribou). And of course we'll be planning a wedding for June. We hope you enjoyed your 2012 and especially the 2012 holiday season. Happy New Year from us to you. May your 2013 be amazing, blessed, filled with love and laughter, family and friends. - David and ElizabethFebruary brought Elizabeth's parents up to visit Anchorage for their second winter Alaskan experience. They got to meet David (and Ray and David had a very serious dinner, but we'll get to that later), watch the Iditarod and participate in some of the Fur Rondy festivities.