Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Creative Year In Review - Part 2

Of course, knitting wasn't the ONLY thing that happened this year in Chez Green Woman...

I began last year with a burning need to learn how to draw. I've not been able to devote as much time to it as I'd hoped, but I have done enough to show possibility. I also went back in time and discovered that I do have it in me...I just need to put in the work to bring it forth. This is a copy of the design on my old Amy Butler knitting bag - done last April. It's by far my favorite, mostly because I still can't believe that I was able to do this without looking at the paper! It's actually pretty darn close....
I did this bird back in February. No, it's not quality by any means, but I do love him. Why? Because everyone that sees this picture immediately asks why the bird looks so ticked off. It may not have been done on purpose, but I did give him personality and emotion...and I'm proud of that!

My inner magpie came out this year, and I found myself drawn to beads like never before. Specifically, I seem to have a fondness for tiny, sparkly seed beads. Mmmm....happy. For the most part, I like to add the beads to my - what else - knitting projects, but I have also learned some basic beading techniques so that I can make myself the occasional piece of jewelry. You could say that I know just enough to be dangerous.
Most of my non-knitting time this year, though, was devoted to my spinning wheel. Highlights include Le Tour De Fleece, becoming more familiar with my beautiful drop spindle, my first true lace weight and being hired as the handspinning judge for an upcoming alpaca show. My only regret for the year is that I didn't build my spinning into a more consistent practice. It remains something that I do in fits and starts - although I typically do an entire batch of fiber at once to avoid problems later on. I am still in love with my lendrum, and am incredibly grateful to my grandmother for buying it for me in 2007.
Oh, and I taught someone else to spin this year too....
Most importantly, though, is the fact that I returned to writing in 2008. I hadn't entirely realized how much I missed it until I began this blog. It's been a joy to find my voice again, and I thank you all for being a part of that.
The Green Woman continues to move in my life in interesting ways...and tomorrow I'll tell you about where she's going to send me next.

2008 Creative Year in Review - Part 1

It is perhaps a little known fact that I am a complete sucker for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I buy completely into it every year - as both a time to reflect on the year that's past and a time to hope for the year to come. There's just something so magical in the promise of a new beginning!

Last year I sat down with my journal to do an in-depth review and examination of my life in 2007. While I won't bore you with that kind of detail (I believe it was close to 20 pages long when I was done - and I only sat it aside because I didn't have the time to keep going.), I do want to take some time to reflect on my creative journey in 2008.

There's actually a lot to cover, so I'm going to do this in two posts. Otherwise, some of you might run screaming, and we don't want that, now do we!

Knitting - obviously - remains my passion. Thanks to my Notebook on Ravelry, it was easy to put together a comprehensive look at the work I did in 2008. My 33 completed projects included:
  • 4 hats

  • 5 children's sweaters - including 3 baby surprise jackets

  • 3 pair of child-sized socks

  • 5 pair of socks for me

  • 4 lace scarves

  • surprisingly, only 1 lace shawl

  • 4 pair of fingerless mitts

  • 1 pair of mittens

  • a mini sweater

  • a bunch of mini socks in two bunches

  • 2 adult cardigans - one having been on the needles for way too long

  • a simple shawl for a class sample

It really doesn't feel like I did that much (I can feel a few friends groaning), but I do have to remember that I lost almost a month at the beginning of the year because of a broken finger. I also spent a lot more time this year spinning.

The more interesting story, I feel, is in the fact that 2008 became the year of the frog. Taking trips to the frog pond this year were:
  • 5!!! shawls - including the mystery shawl which I gleefully shredded with scissors

  • 2 pair of socks

  • 3 sweaters - including my maternity sweater

With the exception of the mystery shawl and two of the sweaters, most of the frogging happened fairly early in the project, so it's not as disastrous as it sounds. Most of the items were frogged because they spent too long hanging around on the needles, a sign that they were either never going to be finished or were headed for gauge problems later on. The socks simply weren't working for me, and the maternity sweater was a tent that contained an awful lot of great yarn that I wanted to reuse.

Beyond being a practical act, the frogging also reflects an ongoing commitment to only knitting the things that I want to knit. My big lesson in 2007 was that 'obligatory' knitting hurt - literally. At the time I was still fighting a touch of carpal tunnel that seemed to conveniently flair up any time I knit for any reason other than pleasure. In 2008 the lesson went a step further, and I actually thought for a while that I was finished with knitting forever. A long talk with my BKB resulted in a stash reorganization, the likes of which has never been seen before in this house and is not likely to be seen again. I tossed my years-old knitting plan and began happily knitting only what felt good at the moment and frogging whatever bugged me. It's a simple rule that continues to work for me.

Other knitting news of note - I began teaching knitting classes this year for Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe, which is something I quickly discovered that I LOVE. The cat-herding position with our knitting group through the Columbia Weavers and Spinners guild fell to me...ha ha. My friend Jenn was given the label of, 'my BKB,' during one of my classes, and it rather hilariously stuck. I managed to surprise my friend Shelda once or twice with knitting news and/or new patterns before she could surprise me. (Although she has me way outclassed in that game!)

Curiously, upon reviewing last year's journal entries I found a list of things that I desperately wanted to knit. I did none of them this year, and they are all things I still desperately want to knit. The only progress I actually made on the list was to purchase a copy of the pattern for the Princess Shawl. Honestly, I am a bit bothered that I ignored my own wishes so completely. That needs to be fixed.

Whew! I think that just about covers the knitting! We'll do the rest in another entry!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aunt Kristin Is A Pushover

This morning my adorable 5 1/2 year old niece looked up at me and said, "Aunt Kristin, you told me that the next time we saw each other you would teach me how to knit..."

Aunt Kristin rushed right out to Michaels (my LYS is closed for inventory) and bought a skein of purple yarn and kid-friendly needles.*

Pictures to come....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Good News / Bad News

The bad news first - my computer problem was not so easily solved as we had hoped. The new power cord didn't fix it, and so we had to take the computer in to a local repair place yesterday.

The good news is that it should be a relatively easy and inexpensive fix... I'm just not sure how long it's going to take.

So until the computer comes back, my blogging is going to be spotty. My apologies to you all, I promise lots of fun just as soon as I come back!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!


From our family to yours,
May your holidays be filled with love, laughter and light!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Monday List - The Christmas Edition

Good Morning All!

First, a wrap-up of last week.
  1. The house is sparkly-clean!
  2. The Christmas menu is planned, with significant help from 101 Cookbooks.
  3. The sewing is done
  4. The finish basket is mostly clear.
  5. The girls have seen Santa - as you have seen.
  6. The stash is reorganized.
  7. My birthday was happily celebrated.
  8. Journaling didn't happen as much as I would have liked it to. Sigh.
  9. Ripples in Time has been moved from the needles to the finishing basket.
  10. I have lots of fun lined up for the next two weeks.
  11. We'll actually start Christmas crafts this afternoon. I cut the list down to make a happier family!

Now for this week:

  1. All finish work for Christmas projects needs to be done by the end of the day - mostly because two of the items need to be blocked!
  2. Christmas crafts with the girls are to be done today and tomorrow. Princess is VERY excited about them.
  3. Tomorrow morning the girls are going to Doc and Gana's house (my in-laws) for some Christmas fun. While they are there I am going to do the last little bit of holiday shopping I need to do. It's really not much, and will most likely include some window shopping downtown.
  4. Wrap presents. Ugh. My least-favorite job of the year...
  5. Christmas cooking! I'm VERY excited about our new menu this year!
  6. Our poor Christmas tree dried out very quickly this year, so unfortunately it will have to come down Friday or Saturday.

Here's hoping that the new power cord comes soon so that I can share our Christmas traditions with you!

Have a great week, and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Good News!

My husband ordered a new power cord for my computer on Friday, so hopefully it will be here soon! That should fix the problem, and I will be able to resume normal posting at that point.

In the meantime, I am saving up several post ideas to share with you just as soon as I can regain access to my photos. (I don't want to clutter up my husband's computer with my crafting photos!) Included in upcoming posts will be:

  1. My birthday celebration - which was fantastic!
  2. The Green Woman has found a few ways to move in my life again.
  3. My brilliant Christmas idea
  4. and the Christmas crafting I did this year
  5. The birthday yarn...yum
  6. Ideas for the 12 sweaters I will be knitting next year
  7. Lots of Christmas cheer!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Christmas First

Two happy girls on Santa's lap! This is the first year EVER that didn't involve tears and or screaming when we went to see the big guy. (Poor, poor Santa...) It took the Pixie a little while to warm up, but she fell in love shortly after she did!

Thank You very much for the birthday well-wishes! I promise a full report of the festivities after this weekend. All I know at this point is that my BKB is picking me up at 10:30 AM and that at some point there will be carrot cake. Oh, and my husband gave me cash to spend this weekend....hmmm......

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

35!

Today is my 35th birthday! This is me in 1991 - my 18th birthday.It just so happens that this was the last time I truly celebrated my birthday. Since then, my birthdays have - by choice - been very quiet affairs in which I managed to get by with as little fuss as possible. Most years, I would just as soon have pretended that my birthday didn't exist.

But all of that is changing this year.

Growing up with a birthday that was just 8 days before Christmas was never really that much of an issue. My family did a WONDERFUL job of separating the two holidays, making sure I never once felt slighted or had less than a full birthday celebration. In fact, I was born three weeks early, and my family seemed to take that as a blessing - that I had been in a hurry to see my family and celebrate Christmas with them. I have had many friends over the years with birthdays close to the holidays, but none were as fortunate as I when it came to celebrating the event.

The problem began my freshman year in college. Surprise! My birthday was right smack in the middle of my first finals week ever. While finals themselves didn't bother me (I've always rather perversely enjoyed that type of testing.), it did mean that I couldn't spend my birthday with my family and that most of my friends were so preoccupied as to not even notice my special day. I did go home with a friend who lived close by, and her parents made sure that I had a really nice birthday dinner, but that upset my parents. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and ready to move on. My birthday would never be the same.

The year I turned 20, though, was the year that things truly changed for me. In order to understand what happened, you must know a bit of my own personal history. You see, about the time I turned 16 I started suffering from anxiety attacks and depression - although at the time no one in my family really knew what was going on or how to deal with it. It all came to a head on my 20th birthday. I spent that night in the dorms, watching home-made movies with my friends. Something in one of those movies triggered my emotional wounds, and I got up and quietly left. Fortunately, a friend saw me leave and knew something was really wrong. He went home with me that night to my condo, and stayed with me so that I wouldn't be alone. The next morning we drove in to campus for early finals, and I was delivered into the arms of a second friend. That friend gave me the lifeline I needed to sustain me through the holidays. He was as good as his word - his mother always knew where he was if I was to call and need him. A third friend provided the support I needed to call the doctor and set an appointment, and was there when I came home with a prescription for Zoloft. In fact, he had helped me to figure out what was going on some weeks earlier because he had just received his own diagnosis.

For years after that I wanted to forget that I had a birthday. Why on earth would I want to celebrate the anniversary of my biggest emotional crash? In many, many ways I was grateful that it had happened because it had opened me up to the type of help that I needed. I'll never regret the two years I spent on meds or the therapy I had during that time. God knows where I would have wound up if it hadn't happened. But my birthday was no longer a day of celebration. I wanted to let it slip by without notice so that I could quietly reflect on my life in peace.

There are other issues that have come into play as well. I don't like being the center of attention, for one, and have been horribly embarrassed by my size for years. I'm generally a shy person, and I get claustrophobic around people. I've felt distanced from all of our college friends by way of life situations and location, and I've had several disastrous friendships which have caused me to retreat even more at times. If I'm brutally honest, I'll also admit that my own extremely low self-esteem made me feel that I just didn't deserve (fill in the blank).

The good news is that things can change.

You can imagine my husband's surprise when I sat on his lap a few months ago and told him that I wanted a birthday party this year. He certainly wasn't expecting that, but he took it and ran. He and my BKB have planned out the day for me on Saturday, and I can't wait to see what they've come up with.

For a long while now, I've had a feeling that 35 is going to be my best year ever. Perhaps it sounds a little bit silly, but I truly feel that this is the year that I will finally conquer some of my demons and come into my own.

I'm going to spend today doing two very nice things for myself. First, I have some serious writing I want to do in my journal. Second, I'm going to start a sweater for myself. I may not be able to work on it again until after Christmas, but I think that I deserve a day to do something nice for me.

35 is going to be a very, very good year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

All the Pixie had to do was to show up and look pretty...
But her sister has been working on our Christmas pageant for close to three months, and she took her duties very seriously this year. Last year she was nervous, and it took weeks to get her to join in.
This year she volunteered for lines and had a great time through the entire process.
First she was a singing, dancing sheep...and an awfully cute one at that.
After a quick costume change, she became one of the kings. Included in her lines was the doozy, "I've just had an epiphany, we need to follow that star!"
In all honesty, these four little troupers took the play more seriously than the older kids, and so their lines were delivered with a sincerity that was heartwarming. They stole the entire show, and I am proud of them all!

Our Second Snow Day







We were home yesterday because of ice, and then we woke today to snow!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Slightly Different Monday Morning List

Good Morning All!

The computer problem that has been plaguing me has finally hit the end point. Basically, my laptop is no longer recognizing the power cord, and so I am now without my personal computer. This happened about a year or so ago, and at the time my husband convinced Dell to send me a new cord for free. That's not going to happen again, and although cords don't cost all that much in the grand scheme of things, they don't fit into our current holiday budget.

What this means for me is that I can not get to my email, photos, iTunes or personal files. I can use my husband's computer to blog (without pics), use ravelry and browse the Internet. It's a strange set of limitations...but it is what it is, and I'll have to adjust for now.

In the meantime, here's my list for the week!

First, the review of last week:
  1. Healthy living fell to the flu. I'm still having trouble with a dicey tummy, and so for now I'm just doing the best that I can. In fact, I'm giving myself a break through the holidays because I really don't need one more thing to stress about.
  2. Feb. girl sweater is finished!
  3. I had the flu for the guild meeting, so I almost don't mind that I didn't finish Ripples In Time....almost.
  4. The flu took out a lot of things on my list. 4. was the deep clean, but I have to say that the house really isn't that bad. 6. and 9. (holiday schedule and menu planning) also went down the tubes. The first seems to be under control anyway, and we're just winging it with the second. 7. and 8., (making ornaments and putting together my bead necklace) were just not possible, and I may have to let go of both for now.
  5. The decorating is done! I have pictures to show, but, well....

And this week's list:

  1. Clean, clean, clean, clean...
  2. I do need to plan the holiday menu. We've already decided that we will not be having a formal sit-down Christmas dinner, but will instead just have a nice spread that people can be eating on whenever the mood strikes them. My husband and I are very excited and are planning on coming up with an all-new menu!*
  3. I have one sewing project that I hope to take care of today - mostly because I would like to put the sewing machine away asap so that I can reclaim the desk space in my bedroom!
  4. Clean out the workbasket. I have a lot of finishing to do - none of which will take much time. I just happen to like to do it all at once, and so I save it up. The list includes sewing in ends on two hats, a pair of socks and a sweater, repairing a hole in a shawl and transforming an old project into something new and cool.
  5. Take the girls to see Santa!
  6. Reorganize the stash. The baskets in the corner are bugging me.
  7. I have something very exciting coming up this week....more about that later!
  8. Take time to journal. I think I've just had to accept that in the winter I like to hibernate a bit, and my morning time just isn't happening. I have a whole bunch of things I want to write about, and I just need to make time to make it happen.
  9. Finish Ripples In Time - which is the last 'must-finish' Christmas present I have to do.
  10. Organize projects for the Princess's school vacation.
  11. Help the girls make their Christmas presents for the family.

* Yes, this does mean that we've spoken with everyone and Christmas is officially at our house. It was actually considerably less painful than we expected it to be, which is a very good thing. Someday maybe I'll tell you about the family drama.

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Misc. Notes

  1. I've been really disappointed with the last few issues of Interweave Knits. Check out the latest episode of Stash and Burn, in which they tackle the changes in the world of knitting head on, and pretty much sum up everything I had already determined about the decline of IK. It's definitely a good news/bad news sort of thing, and I have really mixed feelings about it.
  2. I recently was given the opportunity to do some knitting on consignment. After great deliberation, though, I have just reminded myself that life is entirely too short.
  3. Knitting has resumed (I am NOT a woman who likes to knit when sick. No, I like to spend time in bed with what I refer to as schlock novels when I'm sick...), and I will have a finished Christmas item today. Yay!
  4. I was back up to normal by yesterday morning, but I still have very little appetite, and I can't handle sugar. That's not a bad thing at this time of year!
  5. The Christmas tree is stable now.
  6. I have to tell my family that we're not driving home for Christmas this year. Goodie. My parents made the decision when my brother and I were born that they would not be traveling for Christmas anymore. I quite naturally expected support when we made the same decision. Instead I got a yearly family drama that has me almost dreading Christmas. We gave in and drove home last year because we were tired of fighting, but won't do that again. Besides, the Princess wants to have the party here this year!
  7. Last night I received a call from one of my oldest friends that has me very upset. So if you get an essay on the nature of friendship in here sometime soon, bare with me.
  8. We're getting the heck out of the house today. I've been cooped up for too long, and it's going to be a fabulous day!
  9. I forgot to tell you that I joined this:
I must be nuts.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Smashed To Flinders

Yesterday we set up our Christmas tree.

At 3 AM my husband and I were startled awake by the sound of a great crash. We ran to the living room to find the tree on its side.

We only lost two ornaments - two among many breakables.

Sadly, this particular one was one of my favorites, and I'm grieving its loss today. This beautiful, hand painted ornament was a gift to my husband and I in honor of our very first Christmas as a married couple. It was made with love by the man who did the flowers for our wedding, a dear friend who really did so much more than just our flowers. If you look at the piece that's signed, you'll see that this was the first a limited edition. It was (and probably still is) an annual tradition of his. Each and every year this has been one of the last ornaments out of the box, placed in a place of honor near the top of the tree. We received several 'first Christmas' ornaments that year, but this is the one that always warmed my heart.

My mom and grandma often say that there's no sense in crying over things that money can replace.

But this one is truly one of a kind, and I think it deserves a few tears today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Not-So-Fun Christmas Tradition

Yep, I'm sick. It's a near-annual tradition going back to my senior year in high school. I did have a flu shot, but whatever this is sure seems like the flu. Argh.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Monday List

My Parents' mule, Zack.

I had a quick looksie at last week's list, and couldn't decide if I should laugh or cry when I realized how little I managed to accomplish last week! Ah well...life gets in the way sometimes.

I think that we'll just pretend last week's list was intended for this week and leave it at that. I won't tell if you won't!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Inspiration Sunday

It's no secret that I love old things. Old things have memory, and stories, and secrets.

On the day after Thanksgiving, the women in my family made our second annual trek to Urban Arts & Crafts. It's a magical place, filled with all sorts of lovely crafting supplies and unique handmade gifts. They have a little bit of everything - from beading to paper crafts - with enough to truly create something wonderful, but not so much that you are overwhelmed. (Traditional bead stores, for example, scare the tar out of me.) I've enjoyed each and every trip there - but it's probably a good thing that it's almost three hours away from my home!

We found Urban Arts & Crafts last year, and at the time I was very drawn to these rings. This year, I decided to treat myself to one. I've worn it almost daily since, and find myself often admiring it on my hand. My ring is made of an 18th century button, and not only is it beautiful but it also leads my imagination on the most interesting flights of fancy.

Who knows...I may have to start haunting the local antique stores and flea markets for buttons...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Quick Hello!

Hi All! I haven't been blogging this week because my computer is acting up again. We're trying to figure out exactly what's going on, and in the meantime I'm not spending much time using it. Hopefully we'll get it figured out soon, and I'll be back asap!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Gifts Are Piling Up!

I managed to get a photo shoot in this morning, so I thought I would finally give you proof of Holiday Knitting.First up, the February Lady Sweater for the Princess. Based on measurements from other clothing, I believe I'm about half way down the body. I'm basing the size on Princess's denim jacket with 3/4 sleeve. It's a size too big, which is what I wanted for the sweater so that she would have room to grow.
Pixie's Tam.
The Princess's Tam.
And the Pixie's socks. Once again, they are just Ann Budd's basic sock pattern, this time made with Mountain Colors leftovers from my stash.
I have a mountain of work to do today, so no links. If you are curious, you can find project details at www.ravelry.com. My Ravelry name is KPiep!
I promise better pictures after the items have been gifted, when I have live models!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter Lace

As luck would have it, we're usually at my parents' home when the first snow comes. This year, I celebrated by capturing as many pictures of this winter wonderland as I wanted. (Taken Sunday AM.)








The Monday Morning List - The Returning To Normal Edition

My brother and his girlfriend, taking the girls for a walk on Thanksgiving. The cows were intrigued.

I am quite happy to report that I was easily able to do everything on last week's list. Most of it was simple - in keeping with a holiday week - so there's no need to go over it here.

For this week:
  1. I am thrilled to report that I survived Thanksgiving week without gaining any weight! That's a very big deal - especially given the type of stress/exhaustion eating I tend to do at my parents' home. For this week, I want to build on the momentum from the last two weeks by continuing on with my Writing Diet exercises, working out, eating right, getting my sleep habits back on track and generally just taking care of myself. I feel good, and I don't want to lose that!
  2. I finished both tams last week, and moved on to the next Christmas gift - a February Lady sweater for the Princess. (Personally, I think it's hilarious that I sized down a sweater pattern that was sized up from it's original Elizabeth Zimmermann design) It's a quick knit, and I should have no trouble finishing it. Yay to being a bit ahead!
  3. I also want to get Ripples In Time finished in time for the next guild meeting - which is on the 9th.
  4. We want to finish our deep clean of the house by the weekend so that we can sit back and enjoy the holidays. Yes, my husband has committed to helping, as have the girls, so this isn't a one-woman show. If we take it in chunks every day, than we should have no problems.
  5. And then...we can decorate for Christmas! I'm getting a few things out today, but the bulk of it will probably happen over the weekend.
  6. I don't think our holiday schedule is going to be too crazy this year, but I do need to sit down and make sure that I know what our schedule looks like so that it's as easy as can be.
  7. I am considering making a few ornaments for this year to give as wee gifts, and I would like to get started this week. I'm keeping it a secret as they would be going to some readers....
  8. While home for the holidays, I picked up the things I needed to make a bead necklace that I've been planning for a while. I would really love to wear it to my PEO Christmas meeting this week, but if that doesn't happen I would like to at least get it done this week so that it's done.
  9. It's not exciting, but I do need to do our menu planning for the month. Sounds silly to plan it out so far in advance, but we've found that we're really cutting our grocery bills by doing so.
  10. It's looking like my husband is going to get an unfinished sweater in a box. I assured a friend of my mom's on Friday that this was the sign of a true Knitter. Sigh. Must. Work. On. Sweater.

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today...So Far

In honor of my husband's aunts - who both read and enjoy this blog - and inspired by Lecia's blog, I decided that today I would present our day so far. The Princess didn't have school today, so it's been different - and fun - and...well... you'll see!
First, the Princess and I decided to make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for breakfast tomorrow. Yum. Unfortunately, I kept my back turned to the Pixie for just a hair too long. (Then again, she's not normally given to mischief.) I happened to glance around the corner when we had the batter all mixed up....and discovered that she had been painting on my couch.
That's right...blue and red paint on my beautiful couch. Thank goodness it's washable paint, and that the couch has a very cleanable microfiber cover.
Crisis cleared up, the girls got to taste the batter.
Then they did each other's hair.

Isn't she cute!
This one too!

I have such girley-girls!
We then went to Michaels - a trip that I've been promising the Princess for a while. She thinks it's better than a toy store! (Smart me to train her that way.....) I took the camera, but the Pixie just wasn't happy.
When we got home, I gave them hot dogs - which is a very rare treat in this house.
They loved them!

The Pixie is in bed now, and my Princess is happily making Thanksgiving crafts. She's a very creative sort, and will probably be here for the rest of the afternoon.

And now I'm off to the rather prosaic, n0t-so-fun to-do list. If I'm lucky, I'll have a bit of time to knit...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Monday List - Early Again!

The girls and I have a busy day planned tomorrow - starting with their dental appointments bright and early! I'm not entirely sure when we will be coming home, so I thought I would just go ahead and do this now.



Recap!

1, 2 & 3 My lifestyle improved GREATLY this week. I started using a cardio fusion DVD, which is totally kicking me in the tush in a good way, and I also went back to doing my Sun Salutations in the morning. I made it up early most mornings, and had plenty of time to work in my journal. That journal work allowed me to then focus on the Writing Diet exercises during my spare time. I already feel loads better!
4. The Sunflower Tam became Pixie's socks. No matter, another Christmas present is done!
5. Forest Path has gone back in the holding pin for now. As easy as it would be, I have other things I have to focus on right now.
6. The first sleeve of Ripples in Time is finished, and the second one is on its way.
7. I made huge progress on my general to-do list. My pictures were all transferred to my Flicr account, I scheduled all of the appointments that we needed to take care of, I made decisions about Christmas gifts, took care of our turkey for the Imani Mission (which served 519 at their Thanksgiving dinner yesterday!) and started an intense deep-clean of the house...the likes of which have never been seen around here. (It'll be a slow process...but we should have it done by my birthday.) All in all, I feel great about getting so much done!
8. I did not buy pants. I went shopping for them, but they didn't have my size.....and I let it go at that. Silly me.
9. I plied the Shetland/alpaca today, and there will be more about that later. Suffice it to say for now that it's not my best spinning.
10. After my sweater confession, I handed my books over to my husband and told him to pick some patterns. He did that, and I cast on the swatch hat earlier this evening. I should be able to work on it once the girls go to bed!

This Week's List:
1. Successfully get everyone to all of those appointments!
2. I have to find black dress shoes and tights for the girls before Wednesday AM.
3. Seriously....pants.
4. One more Christmas gift for the week - perhaps another Tam? I gave the first one to my PEO auction, so I need two more! It's a good thing they are so much fun to make!
5. Keep up with the lifestyle improvements - which is VERY important with our major holiday this week.
6. Keep working on Ripples in Time and my husband's cardigan. Every stitch counts!
7. Most of all, relax and have fun. It's a holiday, after all, and there's no point getting my knickers in a twist by trying to do too much when I should be spending time with my family.

Have a great week everyone!

Inspiration Sunday - Holiday Music Edition

As promised, here is my list of favorite Holiday Music. Given the ever-growing nature of our Christmas collection, I've divided it into a few categories to make it a bit easier. I've also pointed out a few of my favorite songs! The links are both to artist websites and amazon listings.


Instrumentals:


Manheim Steamroller wins this category hands down. We have all of their albums, and we never get tired of them. If I had to pick a favorite, though, I would probably go with Fresh Aire Christmas simply for their hauntingly beautiful version of "O Holy Night."


A Christmas Experiment by The Canadian Brass is full of bright, happy carols, and is sure to uplift the mood in any gathering.


Christmas Eve by David Lanz is a lovely album of peaceful piano music that I desperately wish I could play myself. (HA!)

Classics:

I adore A Christmas Portrait by The Carpenters. Karen's voice is so velvety soft that it seems perfectly made for "Christmas Waltz" and "The Christmas Song."

Ultimate Christmas - Normally, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas collections. I'd rather have the entire album by an artist in order to fully explore what they have to offer. This album, though, brings together many of those classics that everyone knows and loves - from Judy Garland to Bing Crosby with a few modern classics tossed in for good measure. (The amazon link, though, lists the original composers, and not the performers.) Whitney Houston's "Joy to the World" never fails to bring me to my feet in praise, and Carly Simon's "The Night Before Christmas" always makes me smile.


Sentimental Favorites:

A good friend of mine gave me a copy of When My Heart Finds Christmas by Harry Connick Jr. my sophomore year in college. I happen to love the album for itself (can't even pick a favorite song!), but the memory of that gift doesn't hurt! Oooo....and when I looked Harry up to do the link I discovered a new Christmas album. I have to have that too!


Once upon a time, I was an opening cast member of our local Disney store. While there I purchased Disney's Season of Song. Believe it or not, it's not at all what you would expect from Disney. Instead of Mickey and the gang, you get gorgeous instrumentals, classical carolers and a variety of traditional music from the Nutcracker to the Messiah.


Most Inspirational:

Martina McBride sings with real conviction in White Christmas. Her music is powerful - without ever becoming too much. Again, 'O Holy Night' is a favorite, as are 'Do You Hear What I Hear' and 'Silent Night.' Unlike many Christmas albums, you can tell she believes what she is singing. (I am annoyed, however, that she's since re released the album with new songs on it.)

On the other side, Jewel's Christmas music tends toward the soft and gentle. Joy - A Holiday Collection is notable for Jewel's gentle duets with her mother, a medley that contains 'Go Tell It On The Mountain' and the message in 'Hands.' My personal favorite, though, is 'I Wonder and I Wander.'


I would be remiss if I didn't include Reba McEntire's Christmas Collection in this category. 'One Child, One Day,' ' Mary, Did You Know?' and 'The Angels Sang' are my absolute favorites on the first CD, and Reba's versions of 'Silent Night' and 'Away in the Manger' on the second are magical.


Most Enjoyable Cheese:

God Bless him, Michael Ball is one of my all-time favorite Broadway performances. His Michael Ball Christmas, though, sounds like it was produced by a lounge lizard, and I love every minute of it!

Kristin Chenoweth just came out with A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas. While there are some truly lovely songs on this album - check out her Holiday version of 'Sing' - a lot of it is overwrought and cheesy. Lesson to self about Broadway stars?

Best Childhood Memories:

A Charlie Brown Christmas and 40 Years - A Charlie Brown Christmas....seriously, what's not to love! As someone who slept with her stuffed Snoopy every night from the age of 3 until she traded him in for something better - a husband - I can't think of anything better to raise my own children on. God Bless Charles Schultz for insisting that his Christmas special would be about the true meaning of Christmas!

My husband brought home A Christmas Together - John Denver and the Muppets last year. We both grew up on The Muppet Show, and one of our dearest Christmas traditions is the annual viewing of A Muppet Christmas Carol after decorating our tree.

Music I Can't Stand:

Two words - Santa Baby. Unacceptable anyway you listen, although Eartha Kitt is kind of ok.

Likewise, Elvis's Blue Christmas makes me shudder.

There are a whole bunch of artists - like Mariah Carey - who's Christmas albums I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.

While some of the Transiberian Orchestra's stuff is nice, overall I find it way too maudlin and overwrought for comfort. (Sorry Honey!)


The Big One:

My mother has celebrated the holiday season every year for the last 35ish years by performing Handel's Messiah with the Independence Messiah Choir, just as her father before her performed with this incredible choir. I grew up attending rehearsals with her, assisting with attendance records (Mom's been in charge of attendance and seating for at least 25 years), babysitting for choir members and presenting the soloists with roses at the end of several performances. (With three of my most memorable dresses!) I've no idea how many times I've heard the Messiah performed, and I'm grateful that this has been such an important part of my life. I have a copy of their 75th anniversary performance that is part of our family's holiday tradition, although there are many, many beautiful versions available.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Fear The Zimmermann

I'm supposed to be working on the swatch cap for my husband's sweater. I've got the yarn, I've got the needles, and I have Spun-Out #49. In fact, I've had all of these things for several months and could have completed the whole thing by now. Gross procrastination has pushed me to the point where I'll be lucky if I finish it in time for Christmas.

This morning I decided that today was THE DAY to begin, and so I settled down this afternoon to start. An hour later, I was still sitting there, looking blankly at the pattern. Rather than just getting on with it, I had used my hour to poke through every single stitch guide I own (which is a bunch) because I just didn't quite like the center back cable. I was getting nowhere.

Finally, I called my BKB, who is always good for both talking through knitting problems and for making knitterly confessions. If I'm honest with myself, I told her, than I have to admit that I'm afraid of this pattern. There's just too much to think about, and too much to decide, and too much that I don't know about anything for me to do this pattern. Ack!

Of course, some of this is just vintage Me. Just as I stall out on beloved projects at the very end, I also tend to fuss way too long about big projects at the beginning. Normally I'm fine once I begin and relax into the project, though. I do think it's being amplified considerably this time by my recent Forrestry debacle, but still...this is my natural process.

Having fessed up, it's time to get to work!



PS. My husband found my keys after he came home yesterday. They were tucked in a back corner of the Pixie's bookshelf. I don't know that I would ever have found them, but I can assure you that I am now hiding them from the Pixie in my upper kitchen cabinets.

PPS. The quote from yesterday is from the musical Rent, from the song, "La Vie Boheme."

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Secret Knitting Trick

Cute...isn't she! This is my Pixie, riding my 12ish year old lab mix this morning. She was very pleased with herself.

However, she's been a very, very naughty girl today. After being warned away from my keys several times this morning, my little Pixie managed to get ahold of them while I was cleaning the bathroom. I went to pack up the van so that I could deliver the turkey...and they were gone. I've searched everywhere that I can think of, and there's no sign of my keys. (Missing are my van keys, my key to my husband's car and my front door key.) Goodness only knows what she's done with them. We are now trapped at home until I find them as my husband keeps the spares with him. I've called our school to have the Princess sent home on the bus, and the turkey is in the fridge until after my husband comes home this evening. Which is why I'm working on these. From right to left, a pair of wee socks, Ripples in Time and the next Sunflower Tam - all presents for the Pixie.

You see, when I am very angry with someone I have a little knitting trick. I pull out whatever WIPs I may have for that person and knit like crazy until the anger has passed. If I don't have anything already on the needles than I will cast on something for that person - even if it's just a simple hat or a pair of socks. For me it's an effective trick because it's very hard to stay angry with someone when you are actively creating something for them. Jonathan Larson said, "The opposite of war isn't peace..it's creation," and I believe that with all my heart. Creation is an act of love...and knitting is my preferred method of creation.

Of course, my secret is now out....whoops.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Treasures

I'm quite happy to report that I've made a lot of progress on my photo project today. As I've been planted in front of the computer all afternoon, I have nothing to show in the way of creative work today.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law (my husband's step-mother, to be specific) brought by a family treasure to show me this afternoon when she brought the Pixie home from their weekly morning together. This lovely collar was made by either her Grandmother or her Great-Grandmother...she's not sure which. It was so beautiful that I asked permission to photograph it and document it here, which she graciously permitted.

And so, some eye-candy....