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Except unlike in December when I was snowed in in DC with my family, my guy and a friend of ours, this time I am all alone. Fear not! I took the opportunity to have a mini James McAvoy movie marathon (so far Becoming Jane and Starter for 10 and I’m planning on Wanted and Penelope next) and knit like a crazy person. Most of my day has looked like this…
Except of course for the part of that looked like this…
Unfortunately I only managed to dig out the front walk and the sidewalk and not my car, which is in fact that vaguely station wagon shaped mound of snow you can see behind my head. Which is going to make getting to my first day at my new part time job tomorrow mighty interesting. Somehow I’ll manage.
Most of my knitting today has been dispersed over a number of projects just started within the last 48 hours. One of the ones I’m most excited about is a new pair of glittens to replace the pair I made two years ago which are now thread bare and pathetic. I’m knitting them out of Tosh Sock in Ink, which sure is looking pretty (oh, and don’t miss the snow on sill).
I also recently started a improvised shawl design based on the traditional shawls that show up in all the costume dramas I watch. I’m using a traditional shetland construction with a vintage lace edging. It’s been loads of fun so far, just dreaming it up. I also restarted making the Acorns hat with some Tess Cultivated Silk & Wool. I had begun making it with my one handspun, but it’s still so slubby that it was just looking too knobby. This version is going to be super smooth.
So my knittings been sprinkled about, but it’s been a productive snow storm. In fact it’s been a productive year so far. 1879 yds worth of finished projects since Jan. 1. I know because I’ve been keeping track for the Yarn Snobs Stashdown. Mostly I don’t have pictures that I’m happy with enough to show you anything yet, but I will share these…
Hardly enough to warrant their own FO post, these little guys make me super happy anyway. They are knit in Mama Blue Troika Worsted, which it turns out is what heaven would be like if it were a yarn. More information is up on ravelry. And more knits soon!
Last weekend Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed was in town and hanging out at Loop. Some of my knitty friends came up from DC to meet him and we did plenty of hanging out (and eating and knitting) in the mean time.
On Friday night he signed copies of his new book at Loop, so we all said hi & had our books signed. If you haven’t seen Made In Brooklyn yet, it is absolutely necessary that you check it out. It’s a truly beautiful book, with charming patterns and fantastic photography. But what else would you expect from Mr. Flood?
Jared was teaching workshops throughout the rest of the weekend and Petra and I were lucky enough to get the last two spaces in Intro to Shetland Colorwork.
Jared taught us all the tricks or stranded knitting. One of the most helpful things I learned was that the dominant color should always be pulled from the left. This keeps that strand and its floats on the bottom and keeps the stitch pattern from getting interrupted by those little spaces of background color that you sometime see (like, ahem, in my practice fair isle hat). This of course, helps the pattern to look pronounced and keeps everything neat. A truly helpful thing to know.
Jared was a great teacher, explaining and demonstrating everything very clearly. He patiently answered our questions and double checked on our progress. Towards the end of the workshop he demonstrated steeking in a way that has completely taken away the fear. I haven’t had time to steek my swatch because of schoolwork, but I really can’t wait to try.
Needless to say we had a great time. It was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning.
And the rest of the weekend was lovely. It was so good to see everyone. We ate fantastic meals, a nice change since I haven’t been eating out much lately. And I got loads of knitting done. Managed to squeeze in a bit of homework at the end there too.
And of course now I’m looking forward to the next knitting adventure. Rhinebeck is only a week away!
This week was my one year blogiversary! (Tuesday to be exact). I missed posting on the day because of a massive sunburn I picked up at the beach. But since I had a little something planned I didn’t want to let it go by unnoticed.
When I first started knitting pretty in dc, I just wanted a way to show all my non-knitting friends what I was up to. But as I worked on it, I really began to enjoy the project and wanted to put more time into it. The positive feedback from people I didn’t even know was a pleasant surprise and only helped boost my momentum more. This lead to a desire to publish designs and use the blog as a creative outlet of more than one kind. And eventually this helped launched me into some of the life changes I’ve been mentioning lately. Who knew something that started so small, could become so major. And so much of it is due to all of you, who check in with me here whether I’m posting every other day or every other week. It is lovely to know you enjoy my work, and I love sharing it with you all. So, as a way to say thank you to all of you who have checked in with my little blog in the last year I’ve got the second official knitting pretty in dc blog giveaway!
Here’s what I’ve got for you: 3 skeins of yarn, the highlight of which is a skein of one of Three Irish Girls limited edition Sock Yarnista colorways called Icing Blue on the Kinsale Merino Tencel base (stashed here). This is a lovely bright robin’s egg blue sock yarn with a ton of shine from the tencel. It’s only available to club members, so it’s not one you’ll find in the regular Three Irish Girls line up.
Also included in the prize pack: a skein of Koigu KPM in color 2200, a lovely bright reddish orange, and a skein of Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light in 4828, sometimes called Plum mix (stashed here & here), plus a few little surprise goodies.
So here’s how it works. Leave me a comment about a memorable anniversary of some kind. It can be any kind of anniversary, a great birthday (it is after all the anniversary of your birth), a anniversary with an SO, the anniversary of an important event, or of a great job. Any memory you have of a marking of some kind of anniversary. From the comments I will select a winner via random number generator (one comment per person please!) and I will alert you all of the winner a week from today (next Thursday). Good luck!
So I have some news, that I’ve been holding back for a little while now. All through the process it was hard not to say why I was so busy, but I also didn’t want to talk about here until it was real. But now it is, so…
I am going back to school in the Fall. I applied and I got in and now I will be getting a Master’s in Textile Design. And this change will be taking me to Philly (now you know why my quick trip recently). I’m so excited about these new things. I spend so much time thinking about the next steps. But in addition to my excitement, there is a lot I’m sad to leave behind. One of these things is my beloved DC. I have built a home here and it will be very hard to move away. That said I’m determined to make my experience in Philly a great one, so any info about the city, your favorite spots, your favorite neighborhoods, is much appreciated.
In the meantime, I’m planning to spend my summer relishing in all the best bits of DC during its most action packed season. Which leads me to something knew for the blog. Since my blog is after all called Knitting Pretty in DC (a name I plan to keep, since DC will always be my home in my heart), I’m going to start a blog series where posts are devoted to all my favorite things and spots in DC. A Best of DC if you will, and a version that is all my own. I know that I’ve talked about these things from time to time already, but I think making a formal series out of will be a great way to say goodbye (for now). So stay tuned for more knits and some DC highlights too.
Yesterday was a really perfect day. It was absolutely gorgeous out here. And Liz, my best friend ever, is in town for the week, which is pretty rare. So we spent the day hanging out, first at Big Bear Cafe (best coffee in DC if you ask me, and totally solid in the atmosphere department), knitting and munching. And then we went back to my house, where she helped me work out some of my drop spindle problems. Later the boy and I made this for dinner (yum!), and then watched the first half of There Will Be Blood. I always love it when we cook together, and the curry was so yummy. A great day all in all, but here’s more on the spinning…
I’ve tried to use the drop spindle a few other times, once after watching a youtube video, once after watching a whole tape, and a handful of other times. None of them yielded results other than frustration. In the past I had drafted the roving some ahead of time, but was trying to draft more as I went along. This wasn’t going very well. I would end up with the twist traveling up into the section of roving that hadn’t been drafted out yet. And then I wouldn’t be able to draft it anymore because of the twist, etc. Ultimately I would give up. Liz just learned to spin on a spindle recently and had been told to predraft fully, so she got me going that way and guess what, it worked! It might not be the speediest system once you really have the hang of it, but for now it works for me.
Because in the end I actually spun some yarn. It’s just a wobbly single for now, but it (mostly) looks like yarn. And that’s enough for me. This triumph was just one fun part of a wonderful day spent doing things lovely things with lovely people. I feel like a very lucky girl when days that good come along.
Maryland Sheep & Wool was a week ago and I can now manage to think about it without shivering. My Mom and I went on Sunday & it poured basically the entire time as I’m sure many of you can attest. I was pretty chilly and my feet were soaked, but I managed to have a good time none the less. And pick up some pretty awesome loot along the way.
Because of the weather I didn’t take many pictures. I did get a group shot of Ysoldawith some of my creepy internet friends, but it didn’t come out too well so I’m withholding it for personal use only. By the way, she was very sweet about us swooping in for a photo and telling her about how much we liked her designs. And she was very tickled that my friend Betsy was wearing her Coraline. I also got to meet Lolly, a co-mod and lovely lady. I could have gotten a picture with her since we were in the main barn, but I failed to think of it since I was mid-gyro. But regardless it was so great to meet her in person.
Since I’m largely without photos of the day, I’ll just show you everything I brought home.
Dye Lot: M13
Amount:3 skeins at 375 yds each
Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Brooks Farm Booth
stashed on ravelry here
This was my most awesome acquisition at Sheep & Wool. I took home a sweaters worth of this lovely yarn in a color that is oh so me (in fact I only really bought variations on blue & green yarn that day, not that this is unusual). I have been having so much fun entertaining ideas for what I might make with these lovelies but it will be a while before I get to it.
Yarn: Tess’ Designer Yarns, Cultivated Silk & Wool
Dye Lot: —
Amount:1 skein at 200 yds
Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Tess’ Designer Yarns Booth
stashed on ravelry here
My main goal for the festival was to stash dk and worsted weight yarn. It’s what I never seem to have in stash when I’m looking to start a project. I didn’t completely stick to this goal, but I did pick a few lovely things that fit that bill, like this super soft and shiny yarn.
Yarn: Tess’ Designer Yarns, Superwash Merino Lace
Dye Lot: —
Amount: 1 skein at 500 yds
Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Tess’ Designer Yarns Booth
stashed on ravelry here
The Tess’ Designer Yarns booth used up the last chunk of my budget on our way out the door. I am pleased to say I did still come out $7 under budget! I picked up this skein with something specific in mind. After getting home, I decided to use something else for that project and now I’m thinking about using the lovely Spring Things pattern with this little skein. I love the super bright green!
Yarn: Tess’ Designer Yarns, Petite Silk
Dye Lot: —
Amount:1 skein at 450 yds
Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Tess’ Designer Yarns Booth
stashed on ravelry here
My last purchase from the Tess’ booth was this little guy. I just could not say no to blueish-purple lace weight. It’s shimmer lulled me into submission while it’s brilliant color coaxed my hand into picking it up. I was so tempted to buy a second skein to increase my options, but it would have busted through my budget, and I’m proud of myself for sticking to my guns. Besides there really are plenty of shawls one can make with 450 yds, and even more options if you just make shawlette versions of patterns that call for more yardage.
Yarn:Kipparoo Farms, Raggles
Dye Lot: —
Amount:1 skein at 165 yds
Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Kipparoo Farms Booth
stashed on ravelry here
My Mom has known Annie from Kipparoo Farms long enough now that I consider her a friend of the family. She’s an awesome person and a great dyer (a great shepherd too!). And I saw this little gem. I loved the mix of natural and subtle colors and it fit within my stashing criteria so I let it come home with me. I know I’ll find just the right project for it sometime soon.
Color: Mirkwood Gradience Set
Dye Lot: —
Amount: 4 mini skeins totaling 360 yds
Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Cloverhill Yarn Shop Booth
stashed on ravelry here
Beyond just my goal to stash heavier yarns, I had a more specific goal not to buy sock yarn. This was the one exception I allowed myself since it was a gradience set that would make up for our mostly unsuccessful attempt at gradient dyeing. Besides I don’t plan on using it for socks anyway.
So those are the beauties I picked up. Not so over the top, but not really restrained either. I really need to try and slow down on the yarn buying for awhile, but something tells me it’s not likely to happen. But as I like to remind myself in these moments there are far worse addictions to have than yarn. So I might just cut myself a break.
So now that you’ve had a chance to absorb all the information about the dyeing process, and I’ve had time to take a few more photos I have some dyeing results to show you. Once again there’s loads of pictures.
Since I talked so much about those sock flats let’s see one of those first…
In my opinion this is the most successful gradient dyed sock flat. It does have one stark shift in the middle, but it also has shading and shifts gradually from dark to light except for that one distinct change. It also is made up of colors I love that are soft, but still have depth of shade.
This flat also has the least “heathering” from spots where the dye didn’t penetrate the stitches. So while the colors shift, it appears nearly solid in each section. I’m really looking forward to knitting this one up and seeing what happens.
You can get a different perspective on the transitions by seeing the yarn wound. The cake on the left transitions from light to dark moving outwards and the cake on right is the opposite, with lightest on the outside and darkest on the inside. I really like looking at these particular cakes. I’ve been doing it at least once a day since I wound them. (By the way, these cakes are courtesy of my new ball winder & swift set, which I adore).
Ok more sock flats later on to some kettle dyed skeins…
Although the gradient dyeing was time consuming and exciting because it was new, the real purpose of dying day was to dye these. Liz went to Vietnam after Christmas and brought back lace weight Vietnamese silk as gifts. My Mother and I were both lucky recipients of these amazing yarny treasures. Instead of splitting our share half & half my Mom generously let me take a bit more so I ended up with 2000 yds of the stuff. My goal was to do two differently colored batches, each of 1000 yards, but as I mentioned before they turned out the same. Above is the batch I’m leaving alone & the other batch I will overdye later (you can see it once it’s done). While it was not at all what I had in mind this yarn is really gorgeous. The color is so vibrant, and combined with the sheen of the silk I find it irresistible. I want to cast one with it right away, but I’m so bogged down in WIPs (more on some of those soon) I must wait for a bit. For reference it is not quite as pink as it looks in the photo, it is a bit closer to beet, which is why I have decided to call this color “Beet Out the Purple”.
The two skeins you see above were also dyed from gifted base yarn. My friend Maureen recently traveled to Peru (if only I got to go some of the places my friends go…) and brought back tons of alpaca. She generously shared some with me including some undyed skeins. The blue was supposed to be navy, and I had hoped for a light and dark pair for some colorwork, but I actually love this shades together and might still use them for some subtle colorwork.
Recently I came up with a new Project (with a capital P). The difference between a Project and a project is that a project is just one thing, and a Project is a series of projects or pieces that have some kind of overarching theme and that fit together in some way. I want to devote a post to this Project, so I’ll wait to tell you about it, but it needed some yarn & this is the yarn I dyed for one part. This merino lace weight was the yarn that was supposed to be red and came out pink. It’s not quite hot pink, although it looks it in the picture, but it is certainly not a red. I have decided to call it “Better off Red”. This is mostly for humors sake, I don’t mean to give this poor yarn a bad wrap. It will still serve its purpose, and I have a feeling it will be appreciated just the same.
Ok back to sock flats…
This is the flat that came out a true half and half. Not what I had in mind. One half is quite dark, and the other is quite light & there’s not much variation in each section. Considering the amount of time that went into trying to make it a gradient this was a bit of a bummer, but I am not the type to be disappointed by new yarn. Ever. It took me a little brainstorming to come up with what I might do to maximize the potential of this somewhat surprising result and I came up with this:
I’m not generally a huge fan of stockinette only socks, but I have been really wanting a pair of striped socks lately (erm, ok I have been really wanting a pair of handknit striped socks lately since I have at least 8 pairs of machine made commercial ones). It occurred to me that if I pulled from the dark end of one ball and the light end of the other I could have a pair of adorably striped tonal socks. I whipped up a little swatch to decide what I truly thought & I love it. So add that to this list of things to start soon.
This flat looked very promising after drying. It was still a bit on the dark side, but it did have a real gradient to it and the color was really lovely. Then I wound it up and saw just how many white spots there were from those pesky stitches. I’m learning to love it for what it is, but it doesn’t have the same depth of color that it showed when in flat form.
So all in all, some lessons learned, some experiments started (but certainly not finished) and some yarn stashed. How could one be sad about those results?
Ok, you’ll have to forgive me for the title. I just couldn’t help myself. It seemed too appropriate.
My Mom and I have been experimenting with yarn dyeing together in a sporadic way for years. We started with Kool-Aid dyeing when I was in high school. More recently we’ve played around with Jaquard Acid Dyes. Inspired by my friends over in Enablers Anonymous on Ravelry who recently had a dyeing day I couldn’t make it to, we planned our first Mother-Daughter Dyeing Day in quite awhile. Last Tuesday we experimented with new dyes and a new technique (as well as a few old ones). We ended up dyeing yarn from 1pm to 11pm, which truth be told ended up being a very long day.
This was our first time using MX Reactive Dyes. There were some upsides and some downsides. The perceived benefit was the ability to get more range of color. With acid dyes we’d always had a hard time getting anything but super bright colors, even with lots of mixing. This is fun for awhile, but gets a boring after a bit. My understanding was that with MX Dyes we’d be able to get subtle shades up through very rich, deep shades. This turned out to be true, but we didn’t end up having much control over when they were light and when they were dark. This may just be because we’re new to the process, but it lead to some rather unexpected results. Although, the element of surprise can sometimes be good since it forces me to let go of my fiber control freak tendencies from time to time.
One definite downside apart from the surprise colors, was the time consuming nature of dyeing with MX reactive dyes. The process takes much longer than dyeing with acid dyes. This is why we didn’t rinse out the last skein until 11pm. But we dyed a ton of yarn and got some beautiful results (even if they weren’t always what we planned on).
The new technique we tried was Gradient Dyeing. I’m in love with the gradient dyed projects I’ve seen on ravelry, although I haven’t found many. Inspired by some truly gorgeous results I decided to give it a go. After doing some research on possible techniques for achieving the result of gradient dyed yarn, I decided to order some sock flats. Everything I read about gradient dyeing with yarn in other put ups (skeins, balls etc.) seemed super messy and more time consuming than it really needed to be.
I decided that the best plan of action was going a dip dyeing route. Our technique went like this: mix dye on the strong side; prepare dye bath with less water than usual; rig sock flat on old knitting needle with bottom section hanging into dye bath and cook for 15 minutes; add 1.5 or 2 quarts of hot water to dye bath (depending on strength of dye mixture); cook for 15 minutes; repeat last 2 steps until pot is full (usually 4 or 5 segments) letting down slack from rigged up sock flat as you go in order to create similarly sized segments; when pot is full, undo sock flat from knitting needle rig & submerge completely in dye bath.
The level of effectiveness of this technique varied a great deal. The problems are mostly having to do with consistency. One flat is very dark on one half and very light on the other with little noteworthy change in shade other than the stark shift half way through. Another is very dark most of the way through, but shifts more gradually (interestingly this dye was mixed no stronger than the flat that ended up half and half). The most successful flat still has one very noticeable shift about half way through, but does have noticeable shifts from light to dark within each of those halves.
The other major problem turned out to be with the sock flats themselves. Although the dye looks completely solid on the outside, it did not penetrate to the heart of the stitches in the flat leaving white spots that appeared when two of the flats were unwound. This actually gives the yarn a somewhat heathered look when knit up, which I’ve decided to embrace, but wasn’t quite what I had in mind. If I decide to take another stab at gradient dyeing (and I plan to) I will try another technique next time and might try gradient dyeing with the yarn put up in a different way.
We also did plenty of traditional kettle dyeing (and my Mom did a little handpainting). There were also some surprising results in that department, but everything turned out gorgeous. The issue with the kettle dyeing was how much color rinsed out. We had encountered this some with acid dyes, but not to such an extreme degree. My navy blue turned out cornflower after rinsing. My red rinsed out to a color that is much closer to a deep pink (despite my attempts to avoid that by mixing the dye to what the dye company’s directions recommended for “dark” colors). In general the most systematic problem was the blue rinsing out, regardless of the mix. I know this is not uncommon as the blue dye molecule is larger than the fiber molecule (at least for wool, I had trouble finding info on this for silk), but in some cases, it rinsed out to such an extreme degree that little or none remained. Like my aforementioned attempt at navy, or my two tries at purple that both turned the same shade of a beet-like color after rinsing. Both attempts at purple silk were mixed from different dye combinations- one was 90% Ultra Violet and 10% Cloud Grey and the other was 50% Eggplant and 50% Cloud Grey- and looked very different in the dye pot. And yet they both turned out almost identical after rinsing. I plan to overdye one set later so I don’t end up with 2000 yards of beet colored lace weight silk. But in truth I’m happy to keep one set, since the color is actually gorgeous.
In spite of all the surprises and the unexpected results, I am really pleased with what I walked away with. I think every skein is lovely, even with some imperfections. I have thoughts on how to work with the unique qualities of each one, to highlight their beauty, although some of these ideas are different than what I had planned on my way into dyeing day.
So I’m sure after all this you’re probably waiting to see the results. And I’m quite looking forward to showing them to you, but this post has become quite long & I’m still trying to get better pictures of one or two skeins, so you’ll just have to wait another day or two to see how things turned out. I promise I’ll try not to draw out the suspense too long.
The Christmas craziness is over and once again there is some time for posting. But maybe not for long, as it is nearly New Year and I am off to London on New Years Eve. While there will be many a London post for sure, they may (or may not) have to wait until I get back , depending on how generous my brother is being with sharing his computer since mine is staying home.
But for now here I am and before the New Year has even begun it is all about new around these parts. I’ll show you what I’m working on.
My post-Christmas reward present to myself is the Hemlock Ring Blanket I started on Christmas Eve. (ravelry) I made a decent chunk of progress waiting for mass to start and have been plugging along ever since. It is essential that I finish this in January to offset my planned London yarn purchases in the Stash-Down-Along I’m participating in. The goal is to have more yards out (as FOs or destash) than in every month.
I’ve been wanting to make a triangular shawl for ages. I’ve now gotten dressed at least 4 times in the last two weeks and thought if only I’d already made that triangular shawl I’ve been planning, I’d have the perfect accent for this outfit. So I cast on for the Swallowtail Shawl a few days back to help fill that gap in my wardrobe. (ravelry)
Other new things include new yarn bought with a Christmas gift certificate to Kitty Grrlz! (stashed on ravelry)
New books and sock blockers from Santa. And sushi stitch markers from Liz!
Since Thanksgiving is about relaxing, enjoying your friends and family and marking what you’re thankful for, in my life it will definitely include knitting. Half the fun of holidays is all of the knitting time. This year I thought it would be fun to make it official with a mini KAL, so I roped my mother and my best friend, Liz, into knitting the Thanksgiving Day Mitts with me.
So this was how my day began. Which in an ideal world is how I would start everyday. In reality it usually starts with my alarm going off or my waking to the sound of a one year old through the ceiling and thoughts of “no not yet, please not yet.” But I digress…
I cast on while watching the parade on TV with my Mother, and then spent the next couple of hours knitting, while she did a lot of cooking, and she a bit of knitting herself.
Until Liz showed up with this…the anise seed crust for our pumpkin tart. Every year we make pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes together. We often try slight variations. This year we made Pumpkin Tart with Anise Seed Crust and Fennel Scented Mashed Potatoes.
While the tart was cooking Liz got to cast on. And I worked on my mitts some more. Then the potato peeling began.
Once the pie was done we began to work on the potatoes in earnest. Once both batches of potatoes were boiling (we made some plain too) I sent Liz home shower.
And I also got dressed. In my “Ladybird Classics” dress straight from the 50s with store tags still on. Sadly I had to cut the tags off in order to wear it. But I saved them, so everything will be ok.
And Liz dressed the table. It was really gorgeous. Beautiful and seasonal. What a talented lady.
Eventually it was time to eat. Yum! We always have a wonderful meal. Having so many fantastic cooks in your life is definitely something to be thankful for.
Another of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is that after dinner every year we play games. But that didn’t stop Liz and I from knitting. Is anyone familiar with Munchkin? It’s pretty awesome. Of course knitting while playing Munchkin is a definite double dose of nerdiness. Good thing I have no qualms about being a nerd.
Even while playing I was making some serious progress on my mitts. Jennie does say that they knit up nice and fast, and she wasn’t joking.
So much so that I finished my first mitt while we were still playing. Had to be careful not to set it too close to my “Flaming Armor” card though, lest it catch on fire.
Liz made some headway while we were playing too. I love the gorgeous caramel colored Malabrigo she’s using. So pretty. Neither one of us finished on the day (nor did my Mom), other fun bits of Thanksgiving kept getting in the way, so we decided to make it a Thanksgiving Weekend KAL. I spent some spare moments today adding a bit on to mitt number two.
Having a best friend who is also a knitter is something else to be thankful for. It added another layer of enjoyment to an already wonderful day. I love our tradition of cooking together. And hopefully we can make a mini KAL a new tradition. Because those who knit together…well you know where I’m going with that. I hope you all had as great a day as I did and have as much to be thankful for.