Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Me!

When I sat down to knit yesterday, the two front pieces of my sweater looked like this.
And when I went to bed last night, this piece was finished!

I had originally planned on doing the two pieces at the same time, but abandoned that plan yesterday in favor of seeing quick progress on each piece. Quite frankly, my own system of notes and safety pins is meticulous enough that I don't have to worry about loosing my place with any of the shaping. Besides, switching back and forth between the two pieces annoys me. I feel like it slows me down. (This is, incidentally, part of why I detest the Magic Loop so much.)

The only problem I had yesterday was in remembering to put the knitting down periodically so as not to ruin my hands in overzealous glee. Every since my month of broken-finger-induced knitting abstenance, I've been very careful to never push my hands too hard as I need to be able to use them for a very, very long time. If that one month without knitting was any indication, if I were ever to loose the ability to use them permenantly I might be stark raving mad within minutes. I was a good girl, though, and made sure to put down the knitting for long breaks throughout the day.

I believe I'm going to easily be able to finish the second piece today, and so my dream of having it finished for the next guild meeting looks like it will be a reality!

Just before bed last night, I also went ahead and frogged that shawl. Once again, I am simply crazy about the way those matte blue beads looked against the milk chocolate yarn. Perhaps I'll work on finding a more appropriate pattern once MS4 is done.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Monday Morning List

We've lived in this home for about seven years, and every year this tree is the first to show us the glory of autumn, which just happens to be our family's favorite season. Unfortunately, my camera didn't quite do it justice. In real life, it's much more vibrant. I took this picture late last week when the color peaked. I'm hoping it will hold on to it for a while yet.

And without further ado, I present this week's list.

1. Complete the front pieces of Forestry. I have this crazy goal of finishing it for our next Knitter's meeting, which is in two weeks. This may or may not be possible - depending on how this week goes. (I'd also like to finish the Pixie's sweater, but I'm not delusional enough to think I can do both over the next two weeks.)
2. Frog the brown shawl with beads. I started this one quite a while ago, and put it down to wait for some needles that I had ordered. (I was experimenting with KnitPicks Harmony circs.) By the time the needles arrived, I had moved on. I picked it up this weekend again and realized that the beads were just not right for this particular project. Plus, I have a lot of brown on the needles right now, and am longing for color. I still want to do this shawl, but I think I need to pick different materials. I am actually still quite smitten with the yarn/bead combo, so I think I'll look for another project for them later on.
3. Sew up my drawstring bags. I have between four and ten to make - depending on how carried away I get. I washed the fabric last week, so it's ready to go. They're quick, and they're easy....and I really want to get them done asap.
4. Continue to work on MS4. I'm afraid that if I don't keep current I'll not finish it. Besides, I believe we are getting the theme this week!
5. Rebuild the exercise schedule - which will require some creative thinking to work around the rainy weather we're going to be getting.
6. No sugar. Period. Along with that, I'll be sticking with the WW Core Plan. Sigh.
7. I've been making slow adjustments to the pantry since making that a goal last week - but not enough to have made it workable yet. Having conquered all of the rest of the clutter last week, this week it's time to finally conquer the pantry.
8. Again with the spin something, spin ANYTHING.
9. Make sure to keep the house as clean as it is now, and continue to work with my Princess in her room cleaning efforts. (And I have to say, I'm VERY proud of all of the work she did last week.)
10. Continue getting up at 6 for an hour of quiet time before the day starts. It's a bit harder now that it's dark and considerably cooler...but my day is sooo much better when I do this. Generally, I spend the time on my deck with a cup of tea and my journal. It may get too cold to stay outside this week, and so part of the challenge is in finding somewhere else in the house that gives me the same sense of peace.

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Housekeeping

First, the Green Woman would like you all to know that she is sulking because I didn't give in to her desire to start a new project yesterday. I also did not give in to her attempts to tempt me into buying yarn today at the yarn shop. She was particularly crafty in finding a bunch of brand new laceweight yarns in all of my favorite colors...but all for naught. I'm sure she'll be in a snit for at least the rest of the evening.

Our title today refers to two things.

1. I've been working really hard over the last couple of days to declutter and organize my home. I'm very pleased to say that it's nicer than it has been in a long time. In truth, I was starting to feel a very nutty type of claustrophobia over the mess (much of it belonging to two small girls). The hope is that we can keep everything cleaned up for once and for all. My husband has been pressed into service, and I've really been working to teach the girls how to pick up after themselves.

What this all means is that I should now have more time to attend to my handwork. Yipee!

2. I've been contemplating a few blog changes, and have decided to add two weekly features.

Sundays will now be my "Inspiration Sundays" where I will be posting about various and sundry things which spark my creativity or give me the energy and/or desire to create. I have actually been thinking about this for quite a while, and have a whole list of fun things to talk about. We'll start that next week.

Starting tomorrow, I will be posting a list of weekly goals on Mondays. While I didn't finish everything on the list I made last week, I did find that by making my intentions public I gave myself the structure I needed to focus on those goals. Besides, it just feels so good to be able to check things off of a list!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm Trying To Be Good

One of the benefits of having reduced one's stash to a very small amount (2 bins under the bed for random stash and 2 baskets to hold the yarn for current projects and the few things planned for the immediate future.) is that one is left with only the things one truly loves.

The problem with this is that when you truly LOVE your yarn, you want to work with it NOW.

The siren song of startitis has been strong today.

So far, I am resisting....but my strength is waning. If the Green Woman gets her way, there will be some sort of shawl or scarf or stole made of Claudia Fingering Weight on the needles by nightfall.

Or maybe a pair of socks.

Or maybe a second sweater for myself.

Sigh.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another BSJ

I love Baby Surprise Jackets. Not only are they clever and fun to knit, but they are also the perfect stash-busting project. In all honesty - and with the exception of plain socks - this is the only pattern that I knit repeatedly and love each time.

This little BSJ is made from 4 skeins off Jo Sharp DK Wool, with plenty left over for a matching had and/or booties.

This one is destined for a new baby boy. His big sister received a handknit sweater when she was born, so of course he needs one too. Mom and Dad truly appreciate handknits as they have some extraordinary heirloom pieces in their family.

It only took four days to knit this, (Sept 20-24, 2008) but I haven't sewn it up yet. It will be spending the next month at Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe, hopefully enticing knitters to take my BSJ class. I also left an older BSJ of mine that I made for the Pixie as a sample of the completed project.

If you have a bit of spare time, the current issue of Spin Off magazine has a gallery of BSJs made out of handspun. I highly recommend checking it out!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My BKB....or How A Sweater Found Its Home

This is Jenn.
Doesn't she look fabulous?


Jenn and I met about three years ago, while we were both pregnant with our second babies. We were introduced by the owner of one of our LYS's, who just KNEW we would be fabulous friends. When we got to comparing notes, it was kind of scary to find how many things we had in common - from the ages of our children and the close proximity of our anniversaries to having lived in the same condo complex once upon a time. However, we were both pregnant and busy and so nothing much came of it.


Apparently, life had a different plan for us. After the Pixie was born, I found that I kept running into Jenn in the oddest of places. grocery store....mall....children's play areas...yarn shop (which wasn't so surprising) It was as if I couldn't go anywhere without bumping into her. At some point, we realized that we were supposed to get to know each other, so we planned a play date for the kids. Since that first play date, I don't think I've gone more than a couple of days without seeing Jenn and/or talking to her on the phone.

Recently, Jenn dropped by my Garden Party Shawl class to say hi. Without thinking about it, I introduced her to my students as my "Best Knitting Buddy." The class thought that was hilarious, and so did Jenn. So now she is my BKB, and the name has stuck.


The night before my big closet purge, I called Jenn after leaving my acupuncture appointment to talk to her about my wedding ring and my clothes. My plan had already begun to form, and I had one very specific item that I knew I needed to deal with first.


That item was my Tatami Kimono.


Last fall I decided that I needed to knit something for myself. Long story short, I decided to use some delicious Ellen's 1/2 Pt. Farm Merino/Silk from my stash to make Melissa Wehrle's (Ravelry Link) Tatami Kimono. I was VERY excited to be knitting for myself, and FLEW through the project, completing it in about two weeks. The yarn was perfect, the pattern was stylish and I was in love.


You can guess the 'but' coming, can't you?

BUT, I chose to knit a size which was much too small. It was yet another one of my delusions along the lines of, 'I'm loosing weight, and by the time I'll finish it I'll need a smaller size,' or, 'I hate to put the time and energy into something that will wind up being too big because I'm going to be thinner.' Consequently, the poor sweater - beautiful as it was - was thrown into a drawer never to see the light of day. Every once in a while, I'd take it out and sigh over it.

Of course, lest anyone feel too sorry for me, I'm very much a process knitter who's exceedingly detached from most of my finished projects, so really it wasn't that painful. More than anything, it was just annoying.

Which brings us back to that phone call. Once I finished relating to Jenn my conversation with my acupuncturist, I informed her that I would be giving her the Tatami Kimono the next evening, and that I didn't want any arguments. She eventually agreed - so long as I understood that if I should ever change my mind I could simply ask for it back. Good thing she couldn't see me roll my eyes. I had made up my mind, and was comfortable with my decision already.

The next night, I gave her the sweater, and as soon as she put it on I knew that the sweater had found its home. In fact, it looked as if it had been knit for Jenn. Simply perfect. She's worn it several times since, and every time I see her in it, I smile. That sweater went from being a painful reminder of my own failings to a cherished gift for someone who would love and use it.

There's nothing more that a knitter could want.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just Call Me Red

I wanted a grown-up version of this. (My Pixie, courtesy of her Mema, who kissed the Pixie when they met in that special place between heaven and earth and gave her this beautiful hair.)
I think I got it.
What do you think?
I am very, very happy!

Acupuncture

I've had several people ask me about my experiences with acupuncture since I mentioned it in a recent post. In light of that, I thought I would go ahead and publish an exert from a very comprehensive email I sent to a friend recently about my experiences. It's lengthy, and very personal, so feel free to skip it if you want. I promise that there will be more knitting, spinning and general creativity coming very soon.

My journey with acupuncture began last fall when I read Dr. Christian Northrup's Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. I was impressed with her holistic approach to women's health as it was one that was very firmly based in medical fact. She frequently recommended acupuncture and several other alternative therapies. About that time I also read several new reports in major news sources about acupuncture's proven track record. I then found Lynn - my acupuncturist - quite by accident while looking into a local yoga studio. ( http://www.lynnmaloneyacupuncture.com/ ) I was curious as I felt it might be helpful with several of my health issues, but didn't think we could afford it.

Then in the spring I had a complete breakdown over my weight and size. It was a doozy. I cried on (my husband's)shoulder for hours, and the two of us decided it was time to make a plan. It came down to the fact that we could no longer afford NOT to do something about it. Counseling was out, as I felt it would amount to beating a dead horse, so I went back to Lynn's website and set up my first appointment for early July. (Which was as quick as I could get in to see her.) In the meantime, I started to work on the lifestyle stuff that was in my control.

Initially, I was going to see Lynn about the fatigue/lack of energy I've fought for most of my adult life. I also wanted help for my chronic anxiety and low-grade depression problems. Weight loss was the goal, but I knew enough to know that acupuncture works by correcting other problems which contribute to weight issues. My PMS issues were so bad before that first appointment, though, that I moved that to the top of the list.

As an aside, I had gone to see my family practitioner about all of this at the end of December. My blood work was completely normal, and she completely blew me off on all of the other stuff. She had me do a sleep questionnaire, which didn't indicate a severe problem (duh), told me I was tired because I had small children, and suggested a standard weight loss program. It was humiliating.

The first acupuncture appointment included a complete health assessment - aided by a mountain of paperwork I had done in advance. We discussed my health and emotional issues as well as some of my background. Then Lynn did an exam which included checking my pulse, palpating my tummy, and testing the temp/feel of my skin in different areas. We then proceeded on to the needles.

The treatments themselves have all been similar. Needles are inserted in various points around the body, with placement determined by what my body needs. Some are left in for a small amount of time (15ish minutes at the most) and some are just quick little pricks. Twice - at my first and last visit - little amounts of burning herbs were put on the needles on my feet, which gave off a rather pleasant smell and made my feet quite nicely warm. Throughout the treatment, Lynn checks my pulse points and does a type of acupressure or massage to determine how I am responding to treatment. At the first appointment, little wee needles were left in my legs and back to remain for 5 days.

Initially, acupuncture treatments are done once or twice/week, and as your symptoms improve you gradually start to space the visits out. I started at once/week for the first month and am now coming in every other week. Ultimately, I'll come in maybe four times/year for a 'tune-up' and can always set up more appointments if other issues come up.

What I didn't expect was any sort of immediate reaction. I didn't notice much after the first appointment, but was hugely relieved that someone had validated my concerns and had expressed such compassion towards me. At the second appointment, though, my body let go of all tension. Lynn told me that night that part of what we were doing was helping my body relearn what it meant to truly relax. (I now know that acupuncture works largely by triggering the body to release endorphins.) It was amazing, and I am quite happy that I have since had this type of reaction to every treatment.

Sometimes acupuncture feels like magic. I started to get a weather headache during one appointment, and mentioned it. As soon as Lynn put the needle just above my eyebrow, the pain was gone. She's treated a couple of those, and I haven't really had any weather headaches since - despite leftover hurricane type weather.

While I always feel better afterwords, and definitely more relaxed, the rest of the changes have been more gradual. By the third appointment my sleep had started to improve, and shortly thereafter I began waking up feeling refreshed and ready to get out of bed - something I don't ever remember feeling in my adult life. The naps which had been necessary before all of this started weren't needed anymore. About halfway through I started doing more fun things with the girls, and was taking time to nurture myself. I didn't really recognize what was going on until Lynn pointed out that I was no longer complaining about anxiety, and was not agitated as I had been when I first came to see her.

The big shocker, though, came with my first period after this all started. Sounds funny to say, but it took me completely by surprise...because I had absolutely NO PMS symptoms - and haven't since. I can't even begin to tell you what a huge impact that had. I'll spare the details, but I will say that my symptoms had been growing steadily worse over the last six months, with PMS taking over the better part of 2-3 weeks each month. It had been taking over my life, and to have it just gone was a miracle.

I've had a few emotional a-has during the process. My acupuncturist is not a therapist, but she is very gifted at asking just the right questions. For example, at our first visit, Lynn asked me what I do to relax, and I completely went blank. That was a huge eye-opener. I later determined that although I have lots of fun things I do, I never entirely relax, and that weekend during some journaling I was able to visualize a tightly wound coil in the pit of my belly that never let go.

Lynn has lots of good practical advice, too. She's suggested yoga, which I've started to do a bit again, and we've talked about sleep and exercise and all sorts of other things. Lynn has strongly suggested I see a hypnotherapist about the food/body-image stuff, as the issues are so very old (back to 12) and ingrained. (The cognitive therapy having been exhausted, and not having helped.)

I feel like a completely different person now, and it's starting to show in many ways. I'm getting up early in the mornings to enjoy a cup of tea on the porch while journaling before the girls got up. I've recommitted to my WW Core plan - this time in a more realistic way. I restarted my exercise plan, and this time it's actually fun. During the day I feel like I'm more plugged in to the girls. I started drawing again, and have rediscovered my true love for the handwork I do. I even wrote a love letter to myself, which I read out loud every morning as a way to recommit to a healthy life.

Honestly, I didn't really think this would work. I was just at the end of my rope and felt that modern medicine had failed me. This was sort of a last-ditched effort.

And to my amazement...it worked.

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Last Note

My friend Paula very sweetly gave me my second Blue Ribbon this week! Thank You Paula! If I have time this weekend I'll post it and list my next batch of Blue Ribbon blogs.

Busy, Busy, Busy...

First, a few progress notes on this week's list:


1. I did finish the back of Forestry, and instead of starting on the sleeves I decided to go ahead and get started on the front pieces. I found an error in the pattern - which I probably shouldn't be too surprised about - but it's a minor one. I'm ready to start the coin cables, but am trying to decide if I should do the front pieces both at the same time before I do that.


2. I finished one end of MS4 on time, but am only half way through Clue 1 on the second end. The good news is that there are no beads on today's clue, which means I should fly right through it. Much as I love beading, it does seriously slow me down. (Which, incidentally, is also part of why I love it.)


3. I still feel very overwhelmed with the pantry - so much so that I haven't been able to start yet. Ugh.


4. The condolence letter was sent yesterday. I kept it simple and straight from the heart, and I didn't let myself linger too long over it. I'm not sure if I'll get the second one done. I have too much that I want to be knitting right now!

5. & 6. Are doing fairly well, but not perfect. I am a girl, and it's been a girl week with girl needs for girl naps and girl chocolate. Enough said.

7. No progress, and even a bit of regression. With cooler weather comes the joy of lingering in a warm bed. Drat.

8. I've made progress with the girls' closets, but am still feeling rather overwhelmed with the mountains of clothes they've collected. I hope to finish up tomorrow, though.

9. Wheel's coming out today! I'm going to ply samples from my alpaca singles so that I can decide how I want to finish them out.

Also, a few random comments about this week:

1. P.E.O. has officially started up again for the fall. I happen to be the president of Chapter FA right now, which is THE most wonderful chapter in the world. We had a meeting last night, and it was such a joy to spend time with everyone.

2. An interesting side note. Many of my P.E.O. sisters last night were amazed with how much better I looked, and how much more energy I seemed to have. It's a reaction I'm starting to see a lot. I'm still amazed myself. Acupuncture is the best thing I've done for myself in a long, long time.

3. A friend pointed out that my closet purge really didn't pose that much of a loss since I couldn't wear any of that stuff anyway. She's right...and I'm amazed at how much better I feel about my closet right now. (And as the only uncluttered place in the house at the moment, I'm considering moving in there.)

4. I signed up for the PTA, but I don't think I'm going to participate. I have enough on my plate.

5. Malls should not close the play areas for repairs early in the morning. Ridiculous.

6. I hope to have progress pictures up this weekend for several projects. Likewise, I have a very special post coming up soon about something wonderful that happened this week.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Morning List

Things I would like to accomplish this week:

1. Finish the back of Forestry, and make a serious dent on the sleeves.
2. Catch up MS4. I'm doing both ends at once, and would really like to be in a position where I can get to work on the new clue as soon as it's released.
3. Clean out the pantry. It makes me nuts, and needs to go the same way as my closet.
4. Write two letters. The first is just a chatty/catch-up letter to a childhood friend. The second is bound to be more difficult. My first boyfriend's father passed away earlier this month, and I need to send him a note expressing my condolences. His father was very kind to me.
5. Hit my exercise goals - a walk of at least 30 min/day and a 20 min session with my exercise ball and resistance bands on six days.
6. Stick with the Weight Watchers Core Plan if it kills me. (and it might)
7. Figure out someplace new for my morning journal ritual. I'd been getting up early to write on our deck, but it's getting a bit too nippy for that.
8. Having faced down my own closet, it's time to face the girls' closets. Ugh.
9. Spin something. Spin ANYTHING. I MUST SPIN!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Succumbed


Behold, Mystery Stole 4.
Last year I participated in Mystery Stole 3, Swan Lake. (Link to my Ravelry Page.) I loved the process, but wasn't crazy about the finished design - largely because I am so NOT a person who's into asymmetry. Consequently, I wasn't sure if I wanted to sign up again this year. When the designer for this year's Mystery Stole was announced, I waffled even more as I was only lukewarm to her other designs. Ultimately I signed up to hedge my bets.
On Friday the second clue was released, and I fell in love. I already had the beads, and a quick trip to Hillcreek helped me to find the perfect yarn.
Today has been uncommonly rainy, and my father has been here to entertain the girls all day. Happily, this means that I've been able to literally spend all day knitting in bed. Yipee! I did put in some time on my sweater, but for the most part I've worked on MS4.
Ahhh....beads and yarn and lace....happy me!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Great Purge of '08

44 Hangers.

That's all I have left.

44 hangers, filled with:

2 wool jackets
6 skirts
6 fine-gauge sweaters
1 semi-casual dress
3 camis
8 sweatshirts and athletic t's
3 long-sleeved, fitted t's
6 short-sleeved, fitted t's
2 button-up shirts
2 cardigans - one handknit
1 vest
1 pair dress slacks
1 pair jeans
3 misc. shirts

It sounds like a decent amount until you take into account that all of the fitted shirts really are on their last legs, and won't make it through the winter. The sweatshirts are only still there because I have to have something to wear, although I really haven't worn them in years. Half of the skirts are summer skirts that I won't be able to wear for more than another month or so. In addition to the little left on my hangers, I have a few pieces of exercise gear, a sock drawer (happily full of handknit socks) and a mostly-empty undie and pj drawer. Granted, I have a rather full drawer of lace shawls....but that's not exactly the most practical of abundancies to have.

You should also know that there is now one large plastic bin full of 'memory clothes' that I will never be able to wear again heading down to the basement today. It's full of things like high school musical t's, homecoming dresses, dresses made by Mom and other things that I can't bare to part with - but really don't need to see on a regular basis. There are also three garbage bags full of clothes waiting to be taken to the Salvation Army.

So what happened? Why the gigantic, and rather severe purge of my closet and drawers? Why leave myself with so little to wear?

Two nights ago, I had a conversation with my acupuncturist about my tendency to hold onto things when I really should let go. I had worn my wedding ring - the one chosen for me by my husband - to the appointment on a chain around my neck. I haven't worn it on my ring finger in almost six years, having grown too large to wear it during my first pregnancy. I was too proud to resize it, just knowing that 'soon' I would be able to wear it again. My acupuncturist - always one to notice details - had noticed the ring and had asked about it. (Normally I wear a ring that I purchased last summer as a replacement. Before that I borrowed one of Mom's rings.) I finished my tale as she finished working on me. When she was done, she looked me in the eye and asked me to think about what I was doing to myself by carrying such a heavy weight around my neck.

She went on to talk to me about feng shui (sp?), and about how our environmental often reflects our state of mind. Look to find where some one's clutter piles up, she said, and you often find clues to what's bothering them or holding them back. She told me that it goes both ways - if you clean up your home, keeping only what you really love and/or use regularly, you can often create the change needed to resolve emotional stuff.

By the time I made it to the coffee store where I relax after my appointments, I had made a few big decisions, and yesterday I took action. I took the ring to our jewele for an estimate on resizing, I decided to gift a sweater I had made last year, and I faced the closet. It took all of yesterday afternoon to empty the closet and drawers, and then it took until this morning before I could box up and get rid of the carnage. Yes, it hurt. I had to force myself to get rid of things that I truly loved, but hadn't been able to wear in years. I kept reminding myself that most of those beloved pieces were already ten years old and hopelessly out of date and were not likely to work on my post-baby shape even if I did manage to get into them again. I was ruthless because it was needed.

I called a friend in near-panic at one point, and she promised me that we would have a wonderful time shopping when I was ready. My husband assures me that I will feel better in a week, and I know he's right. Fortunately, I had a knitting and chair massage party to go to last night, which was definitely needed after such hard work.

I'm not writing about this to either wallow in self-pity or evoke sympathy. Rather, I am hoping that this does allow me to truly let go and move on. I need to take my life - and my health - day by day, and I need to make sure my environment sets me up for success. That means I have to stop setting artificial goals, buying clothes just a bit too small, using my ring as an incentive, leaving old clothes in the closet to remind me of my glory days, or denying myself clothes in general because I 'don't deserve' nice things just because I'm no longer a size 8. This is not a way to live...and obviously I haven't been. Once the dust has settled, I know I'm going to feel so much better. It definitly feels as if I've done the right thing.

Plus - and this is a post for tomorrow, so long as I get a picture - one very, very happy thing has come out of all of this already. One of my handknit sweaters found it's true home, and my knitter's heart is singing today because of that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm Over My Sulk

And happily knitting Forestry again. There's no need for a new picture. Instead, just imagine the same back piece I showed last time, only a bit wider. I'm almost up to the armhole shaping, and very happy with how it's all working out.

The good news is that my row gauge is VERY close to the row gauge in the pattern. Because of that - and because of the extra stitches - I'm not going to have to adjust any of the shaping. This is, of course, a huge relief. I did move the waistline up about a half inch, but that's the only thing I'm planning on doing!

I know it's not an exciting post today, but I do need to get back to my knitting.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In Which I Teach

Several months ago, I embarked on an interesting new adventure. Little was I to know how quickly I would fall in love with my undertaking, and how much I was truly to benefit from it.

I became a knitting teacher.

I teach classes now at Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe, my favorite local yarn store. The owner, Joan, is an old friend of my mother-in-law, and has been very good to me over the years. This last spring, I asked if she needed teachers, and volunteered my services.

At first, I taught classes on specific techniques. My very first class was on the very scary subject of steeks - which was good fun. There's nothing like the thrill of cutting into your knitting for the first time to get the laughter going! My next big technique class was to be a two-weekend workshop on advanced lace techniques. We didn't get to knit much in that class, but my students went home with a solid understanding of how to knit lace, and the courage to get started on some projects they had wanted to try for a long time.

I've also done project-specific classes, which seem to be more popular at this time of year. I personally love adding beads to my knitting, and as Joan wanted an intro to beading class it seemed only natural to do something simple like beaded mitts. Never one to do things the easy way, I decided to develop the pattern for the class on my own. The result is my very first pattern, and I'm pleased with it. My mitts are customizable, and the pattern comes with options for three different cuffs and instructions on creating your own beaded patterns.

The sample was done with Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend and size 6/0 seed beads. It now lives at Hillcreek, and I am considering whether or not to sell the pattern. Here it is, modeled by the wonderful Rose.

This last weekend I taught a beginning shawl class. Joan and I selected Two Old Bag's Garden Party Shawl for the class, and I worked up the sample in Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool. (The yarn is a favorite of mine.) This shawl is a basic garter stitch triangle, but it uses the rate of increases to curve the top line so that it drapes nicely over the shoulders and stays put. In our first class, students learned how about yarn overs, paired decreases, shawl construction, keeping track of stitch markers and how to read your knitting. We will need to do a second class in a month or so to do the ruffle edges, but that one hasn't been scheduled yet.


Pretty, isn't it! I have a drawer full of shawls now, so this one will live at Hillcreek. I have to admit that it was a bit tough on my hands to knit - being on much larger needles than I am used to - and it was a tad on the boring side for me. However, the end result is so nice that it was definitely worth it. Plus, I was extreemly glad that I had this project to work on when the vertigo hit last month because it was the only thing I could work on without getting dizzy!
I have loved every minute of teaching so far, and can't wait to do more!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Surprise

Look what I received this morning! This lovely Blue Ribbon is from Bonnie at Blue Peninsula, who is one of my favorite bloggers. In fact, she paid me a very nice compliment via Ravelry the other day which has left me floating on air. After this, I might not come down.

The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Include a link to the person who gave you the award.
(Thank You Again Bonnie!)
3. Nominate at least four other bloggers and add their links. I gave this one some careful consideration. Without a doubt, though, these are all blogs I really enjoy - even though some of them aren't traditional art/craft blogs.

The Quicksilver Workaholic by Cathy Johnson
Branching Out by MamaRoots
Random Acts of Randomosity by my hubby. (Ok, I'm giving this award mostly because of what the blog represents...which is that my husband is writing again after a very long break. Yay!)
Travels With Trevor by Lisa
Cast And Bind by nillakitty

4. Leave a comment at the recipients' blogs so they can pass it along - which I've already done!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pausing for Consideration

After reflecting upon the situation this afternoon, I have come to some conclusions.

First, I think that the blame for my error lies firmly upon the shoulders of my Green Woman.

Why would she do such a thing? While it is true that she is often mercurial, frequently chaotic, and usually serendipitous, the Green Woman usually does have a method to her madness. She clearly had her reasons, and I think I've figured out the two that could have prompted her to meddle with my knitting. She either:

A. Wanted me to finish up the tiny cabled sweater I began for the Pixie several months ago. She is, after all, very fond of the pumpkin colored yarn, and she delights in small sweaters. Plus, the cold weather we've had this week may have caused her to worry a bit about the warmth of my wee girl. She loves both of my girls beyond measure, and has always considered them both to be a wee bit fey.

or

B. Wasn't too happy with the fact that I just wanted an easy knit...you know, the sort of knit where you don't have to think because you can blindly follow the pattern. She is wicked voice in my head that usually prompts me to pick out the most difficult path or pattern, and she scoffs at projects when the words 'easy' or 'simple' are attached. Personally, I think she thinks it's fun to watch me fuss, fiddle, stress, and obsess over the details since she has never done any of that about anything.

Second, this really is the sweater that I want to use this yarn for. I did consider scrapping the whole thing...for about two seconds. It's going to be lovely, and it's definitely worth taking the time to do it right.

Finally, if I'm going to be knitting for myself I need to give my own projects the patience that I give the work I do for everyone else. I have no compunction about ripping and redoing (for example) a sweater for my husband three or four times because I love him so much that I want it to be as perfect as possible. I deserve the same.

I'm going to rip it out tonight, and give myself a couple of days to recover from the shock and redo my math. In the meantime, I have a wee, pumpkin-colored sweater that just needs two sleeves.

Crashing

In one spectacular, flame-filled fall from the sky...

For some reason I decided to double check my row gauge before I did the armhole shaping. With more than 2/3 of the back done....gauge checks are a snap!


At any rate, I pulled the pattern open to recheck their row gauge....and that's when I saw it.


It's true, I am absolutely getting the right gauge...but not for the correct portion of the sweater. The pattern lists two gauges. The first is the gauge for the body of the sweater, checked over stockinette stitch on the larger needles. The second measures the gauge for the ribbing done on the smaller needles. Apparently, when I started this sweater, I looked at the gauge information and my mind registered what it wanted to see. That is to say, that I saw that gauge was listed at 22 stitches per inch, and my addlepated head ignored everything else and decided that was the gauge for the body of the sweater. After all, I already knew that if I used a US 6 needle for that yarn I would get the perfect fabric.

Duh.


There's really nothing to be done but to tear the whole thing out - all 14.5 inches of it - and start all over again. If I keep on with the current size, than I will end up with a sweater that's only 36.5 inches around. At my pre-wedding thinnest, I measured 38 inches. (I have always had a rather ample bosom.) The sweater I thought I was knitting would have had a chest measurement of 40 inches. No matter how often I check the gauge and/or the math, the fact of the matter is that the blasted sweater just isn't going to work as is.

Which leads me to the second problem. As I'm obviously not getting the gauge the pattern calls for - even if I am getting a knit fabric that I adore - am I even going to be able to just do a simple regauge? Probably not, because this is a fitted sweater. I may get the correct size around, but the shaping is just not going to fall in the right places.

I need a nap.

Flying

When I woke up Wednesday morning, I had this: When I went to bed last night, a magical transformation had taken place and I had this:
This is the back of my new sweater, Forestry. You can't tell from the picture, but I started the armhole shaping just before I had to set it down for the evening. I should easily be able to finish this piece today.
In fact, I'm so eager to get back to knitting that I'm not going to stop and take the time to put in all of the details and links I know I should add....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

..Knowing What Your Decision Is..It Is Not To Decide

Bonus points to anyone who can place the reference from today's title.*


You may remember a fairly recent posting of mine, where I bemoaned the fact that I don't ever knit sweaters for myself. Socks and shawls I have aplenty, but I seem to get hopelessly tangled in an emotional mess whenever it comes to actually knitting a sweater. I have a lot of excuses and bad logic to support my sweater avoidance, and none of them are good.


I think the Green Woman may have whacked me over the head a month or so ago, because I find that I can no longer live with those sorry excuses. It's time to change.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that my friend Jen seems to be cranking out beautiful garment after beautiful garment for herself. Apparently jealousy can be a good kick in the pants.

At any rate, I've been going through all of my books and magazines, trying to decide upon which gorgeous sweater to knit for almost a month now. My only rule was that I had to use stash yarn because I just can't justify buying sweater yarn when I have enough already to make five or so sweaters. This has been a bit of a problem as all of my stash yarn is DK weight and the patterns I've been drawn to (Inspired to Knit...Yum) use heavier yarns. Nonetheless, I did manage to find patterns for two pullovers and four cardigans that would work well with what I have.

Which is where the problem came in. I just couldn't decide...and I was afraid that I would let my indecision prevent me from actually casting on and knitting the sweater.

So, I asked my husband what he thought I should knit. (I can almost hear the eye-rolling on that one.) While it is true that he doesn't usually have an opinion on what I wear - past an occasional loathing for garments he finds to be too dowdy - my husband does generally have good taste.** After carefully perusing the pile of patterns I had laid out, he selected Forestry, a Veronik Avery design published in the current issue of Vogue Knitting.

I will freely admit that I was actually surprised with how much insight he showed through the selection process. In the end, his decision was largely based on what would be the most practical for my wardrobe and lifestyle. He figured that if I was going to put so much work into something...I might as well be able to wear it often.

And so today I'm going to be a good little knitter and redo some swatches with my beloved Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool. It's been swatched a million times for another sweater, but I haven't touched it in a long time, so it needs to be redone. Fortunately, this yarn doesn't change when washed, so I only need to double check gauge...which should actually be the right gauge for the pattern.

Tonight is my night off, and I intend to be knitting for myself.

*Little Hint. I almost exclusively listen to musicals...and this is Sondheim at his best.

**I should add that I asked my husband to pick out a sweater for me to knit when my interest in knitting for myself first started a month ago. He picked out a summer sweater, but pointed out I probably wouldn't finish it in time to actually wear it this year. Silly man was ridiculously pleased when I told him that he had been right about that.

Wee Socks


Pattern: Mostly from Lucy Neatby, with modifications to match the big pair of socks each matches
Yarns: Lots of Opal, some Trekking, and a bit of Regia
August 30 - September 1, 2008

I should have finished them in a day or two, but decided napping was more important than knitting this weekend. (And yes, I am back to feeling 100%!)

As I sat down to complete the last one Sunday night, I realized that there was a wee problem with that wee sock. It was to be the third mini made out of Opal Brazil - a yarn that captures a rainbow in wool. Instead of having three unique little socks, though, I had three mostly blue socks. That just wouldn't do, so I ripped it out and redid it yesterday morning. I used the other end of the yarn ball, and now have a very cute rainbow sock.

It's time to put away the bag of leftovers once again. I have 25 of these little gems, and although my husband thinks I'm a bit silly about them, I love each and every one of them dearly!