Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sigh

My computer is down again - with the exact same problem that we had fixed just three months ago. My gut feeling is that the problem spot is going to be a weak point now that it's been fixed once, and I'm not so sure it's worth fixing. I think my husband and I are going to have to have a serious talk about our computers.

Until then, I'm afraid it's back to text-only posts.

Sigh.

And I have such lovely things I want to show you!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Feasting and Fasting

Surprisingly enough, I did wind up with a considerable amount of time to myself on this trip. (When expecting none, some is considerable.) I could have done a lot of things. Part of me wanted, for example, to head in to the city to a bunch of shops that I almost never get to visit. What I chose to do instead was to stay home and quietly work on the projects I had brought with me, inspired by a promise I made to myself to celebrate Lent.

You must understand that my church doesn't follow Lent, but that I find it to be a lovely concept that can be truly beneficial. This year, I was inspired by my faithful commenter, Lecia, and her church's focus on sustainable living for the Lenten season. I took her up on her offer to share their devotional booklet, and - after reading through it - I decided that this year I would Fast from unnecessary and mindless spending and Feast on the blessings of the things I already owned.

Which is why I chose not to waste time, energy, gas and money driving all over Kansas City this week. As lovely as those places all are, and as inspired as I can become by visiting them, I knew I already had amazing materials at my disposal. Honestly, the whole idea of a shopping trip wasn't even as compelling as it used to be. I was satisfied staying at home and playing with the large bag of supplies I had brought with me. I chose beads and prepped my yarn for some beaded socks.

I swatched for a new shawl,

marvelling at how beautiful silk and beads are together. (Even though this is not the actual color of yarn I will be using....) The crispness and shine in the finished swatches was very satisfying - even if I haven't found the correct gauge yet.
I also worked a great deal on two knitting projects - which I will share with you in a few days. Adam Bede, checked out from my local library in MP3 form, kept me company as I sat in the sunshine in my parent's porch and allowed my hands to live their potential. It was peaceful, productive, and quite perfect.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

9 Patch

I gently suggested to my girl that she ask her grandmother to teach her how to sew. After all, I was about the same age when needle and thread were provided to me.Grandma cut squares from fabric found in her stash.
Then the two arranged the squares into a pattern and Grandma started marking seams. Then Grandma showed how to pin the squares together....
And how to use a needle and thread.

She sat at her own little sewing desk all afternoon....

working diligently and meticulously.
In the end, she was rewarded with success, and now when asked, she'll rather shyly tell you that she likes sewing better than knitting!






Saturday, March 28, 2009

Introducing!

A fine - and quite big - baby bull, born yesterday afternoon. Mom called with the good news, and I requested a photo to share with you all!

Grammy-Great

On Tuesday the girls and I went for a 'picnic' with Grammy-Great. She had set her table with all of her fine things, and then served us hot dogs, chips and mandarin oranges with a dessert of her famous peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip ice cream. To top that goodness off, some close friends always fill a basket with goodies for the girls, and so there are always new toys to explore!

Grammy-Great is the queen of over-ruling parental wishes, having perfected her spoiling tactics on me and my brother years ago. The girls, quite naturally, adore her - and she thinks that they are perfect! We're very aware of time with my beloved Gram. She's the only grandparent my husband and I have left, and so we always take portrait pictures with her.
The Pixie wasn't having any of it at first.
She finally came around, though, and we got two good shots of the three of them together.

Most of the pictures are more like this, with Grammy-Great giggling at the Pixie's faces (which range from sour to funny) while the Princess gamely holds a good pose.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Watched Pot

This is the cow that caused us considerable work and concern during our trip. She's the only one left to calve, and in the 24 hours prior to our visit she had started to show signs that she was ready. (lifted tail, tight udder, mucus stringing)
And so, several times every day I trooped outside to get a good look at this. Each and every time, she ignored us in that overly-calm way that cows ignore stupid, excitable people. Each and every time we found that there was absolutley no change.

Yeah. She was still pregnant when we left yesterday, and was still extremely calm and completely unconcerned about anything. No distress, no contractions, no nothing.
Drat the luck.


Where To Start?

We're back and returning to normal life now. I took over 200 pictures this weekend, and am having a wee bit of trouble figuring out where to start!

For the record, I decided to take my camera almost everywhere with me. I'm kicking myself, though, for two reasons. First, I missed one truly excellent photo of my father. We were walking up the road towards our house and stepped off the road so that we could look at the trees. As we stepped across the ditch the scene before me was transformed into magic because of subject, color, perspective and emotion. Drat. Second, my camera is very, very limited with what it can do. Sigh.

I hope you enjoy my little photo essays!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life On the Farm

When we arrived Sunday afternoon, my girls went nuts. Who needs a park when you have a farm? We weren't able to call them inside until bedtime. For the first time in well over a year, our first bedtime and grandma and grampa's house was easy.

Yesterday, my almost-3-year-old discovered the joys of climbing on hay bales and realized she was small enough to climb through the gates to the barn. She was overjoyed to be able to share in all of the fun her sister had already sampled the day before.

In the afternoon my 6-year-old learned how to sew. Her grandmother is teaching her 9-patch, and she's already meticulously completed two blocks. My father says it must be genetic. My mother is thrilled to have finally found someone in the family with whom to share quilting.

This morning I slogged around in six-inch deep mud and drizzle while doing the morning chores for my parents. I spent a lot of time examining the derriere of a certain cow for reasons I hope to be able to share later. Then I spent a bit of time herding cows, rearranging gates and playing hide-and-seek with a heifer who had escaped her pasture last night. I wasn't raised on a farm for nothing, after all, and that's one less thing my dad has to do tonight.

Life on the farm is very good, and I have some excellent photos to share when I get home!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hello Friends!

I just wanted to leave a quick note to tell you that I haven't entirely disappeared.

This last week was a rather interesting week that proved to be very introspective for me. Consequently, I spent a lot of time knitting quietly, reading, playing silly games with the girls and relaxing. It's been very good for me, but I have missed my blog!

Unfortunatly, our schedule is not helpful right now. The girls and I are getting ready to leave for a Spring Break trip to my parents' farm, and so I may or may not be blogging this next week either. At the very least, though, I am planning on taking our camera so that I can finally take pictures of the farm life I miss so much.

I hope you are enjoying the first of spring, and I will see you again soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Thank You - Because Its Been On My Mind Today

What good is sitting alone
In your room?
Come hear the music play.
Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum,
Come to the Cabaret.
Put down the knitting
The book and the broom.
Time for a holiday.
Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum,
Come to the Cabaret!
Come taste the wine.
Come here the band.
Come blow a horn
Start Celebrating
Right this way,
Your table's waiting
.....
Start by admitting
From Cradle to Tomb
Isn't that long a stay.
Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum
Only a Cabaret, Old Chum
And I Love a Cabaret!
From the musical, Cabaret
Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Monday List

The Pixie tends to leave strange offerings in my bedroom....

It's time to get back to the list!
  1. We're having the house appraised on Wednesday because we are thinking about refinancing. I've mixed feelings. On the one hand, we could get a better interest rate (although ours is already really good), lowering our monthly payment and giving us a bit more wiggle room in the budget. On the other hand, I'm not comfortable with the implications of refinancing because I'm not sure I want to be here long enough to make it worthwhile. Either way, I have an appraiser coming Wednesday at 9, which means I need to spend tomorrow in crazy cleaning mode. Sigh. I really hate it when strangers come to the house - and this is worse than normal.
  2. Spring Cleaning has truly arrived. Now that the alpaca is gone, I need to reorganize our bedroom closet, scrub the master bath and put our bedroom to rights.
  3. Also, it's time to finally start sorting the girls' clothing.
  4. Also, the girls' rooms are disastrous. They need serious work.
  5. I do have a little bit of prep work to do for my sock class. We have our third and final session this Saturday, and I need to make sure my samples are ready.
  6. I also have a wee bit of work for my P.E.O. meeting Thursday night - but not much.
  7. For fun, I am going to start working on the girls' Easter dresses. I swatched yesterday, and will probably cast on this evening.
  8. I really need to be finished with my Lacewing shawl. I'm still enjoying it....but I'm also fantasizing about other projects in a big way.
  9. Speaking of other projects, I at least want to cast on for my next sweater - and I think you may be surprised with my choice.
  10. What you didn't know about February was that I was able to easily make a whole bunch of healthy changes in my lifestyle. I cleaned up my sleep habits, successfully went on Weight Watcher (at home, using old materials), rebooted my exercise schedule, built upon my journaling habits and worked on some emotional stuff through guided imagery and writing exercises. It was a fantastic month, and I'm very proud of all of the work I did! Last week I fell off the wagon a bit - mostly due to the overwhelming amount of work I did to finish up the alpaca and the exhaustion that followed. I don't at all feel bad about that, but I do want to make sure I get back to the good stuff before I allow myself to slide any further. I've made a good start already, and will be using this week to reinforce my good habits.

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Spring Has Arrived

If you know me at all, you know that I undergo a very strong color shift each spring and fall. (Thus the blank, confused look if you ask me about my favorite color...) My color preferences have definitely undergone this shift in the last couple of weeks, and you can clearly see that in the new yarn that lives in my stash. Another skein of "Sock the Vote" (Schaeffer Anne) in "Hillary." Thanks Mom!

Sublime Soya Cotton DK, which will soon become the girls' Easter ensembles. Yay!
Ah Spring...I am glad you are here!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring Cleaning - Part 2

What you see here is the result of two days of contemplation, reorganization, dreaming and work. It has been both fun and extremely rewarding. At the same time, it's also been rather enlightening.

You see, last year I tossed my knitting list during a particularly low point in my creative life. What had begun as an organizational tool had become an albatross that was draining the joy out of my knitting. With the help of my BKB, I realized that what I needed to do was to throw away my list, clearing myself of any and all obligation so that I could knit freely. And it worked. Within a few days I had found my knitting love again, and every since then I've tried to keep my planning to a minimum.

As I began my own version of spring cleaning earlier this week by clearing out the workbasket, I realized, though, that I had cycled back around again and was ready to pair up my yarn and patterns. In fact, I was excited and rather energized by the prospect. The alpaca project left me rather drained, and this was exactly the exercise needed to refill the well. New, and very exciting, patterns on Knitty and a trip to the my favorite LYS Friday morning fueled my efforts, and the rest is history.

I spent yesterday laying out on my bed my patterns/books and the yarn intended for the project. I pulled both stash bins and my leftover basket to find just exactly the right matches, pouring through books, patterns and magazines. The result is a list of 22 projects which will be fun and - I believe - rewarding because of their diversity. Sweaters, socks, lace, children's projects and beaded knitting....they are all covered in my list. I found a project home for yarn that I bought just because it was pretty and for yarn reclaimed from old sweaters. A small bag of leftovers was designated for the charity knitters at my LYS, and I gifted my Mom with a bag of forest green silky-wool that is really more her than it is me. It feels very, very good.

When I was finished, I packed up all of the unclaimed yarn and put it back under the bed. I'm thrilled to say that I am now able to get my leftover stash into those two bins! I now have two baskets full of project yarn sitting next to my knitting bookshelf - one for sweaters and one for everything else. It's more than enough to keep me busy for a very long while, and I can't wait to get started!

In case you are curious, my list includes (in no particular order and w/o links because I would rather go knit right now):
  1. Two Jane Austin dresses and shrugs for the girls' Easter dresses. (I did buy new yarn for this yesterday, and Mom picked out the matching fabric this morning.)
  2. The Princess Shawl
  3. Whilrpool beaded socks
  4. Aeolian Shawl - also beaded
  5. Flutter Sleeve Cardigan
  6. Town & Country Cardigan
  7. Herringbone Rib socks
  8. Blossom - short sleeve pullover
  9. Laminaria - another shawl
  10. Fiona's Top - again x2 for the girls
  11. Hanging Garden Stole
  12. Tangled Yoke Cardigan
  13. Bella's Mittens
  14. Fiesta Feet
  15. Rhiannan - crazy, cabled knee socks
  16. Tilia - pullover
  17. Waves of Grain beaded scarf
  18. Autumn Arbor Stole
  19. Honeybunch - lace scarf, designed by a blog friend! (Beautiful Bonnie!)
  20. Christmas colorwork gift bags
  21. Fir Cone Scarf
  22. Borghild - cardigan

Friday, March 13, 2009

Seriously

I had to pull what amounted to an all-nighter to get my paperwork done in time for the alpaca pick-up on Wednesday. At 35, I can plainly say that I'm way too old for that. I've literally spent the last couple of days staring at the walls, trying to recover. I promise to resume posting just as soon as I catch up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wow.

101 alpaca samples - spun into 7 gram, 2-ply mini skeins.
When you look at it like that, you can tell how much work it was.

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday was indeed a wonderful day off. Perhaps not so surprisingly, I chose to spend the entire day working with my yarn stash and reorganizing my knitting. It's what I do when I feel a need to calm my mind and put some order back into my life. As I've been so focused on so many outside projects for so long, yesterday was particularly productive.

The main theme for the day seemed to be "renewal" as I cleared out the cobwebs so that my knitting could begin anew. Thus, I faced facts and my beautiful lacewing shawl....
and it was particularly beautiful.....
was frogged so that I could begin again. It's been practically my only knitting for the last several weeks, and I was thrilled when I finished the main pattern Saturday night as I had been looking forward to the insects along the bottom. However, when I measured it on Sunday I found that the body was a full 2 inches shorter than it should have been. (Unblocked measurements are provided in the instructions.)
My mom (and 4-H) taught me that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing right. I've already started over...and oddly I don't mind. I love the yarn and enjoy the pattern. It'll be gorgeous when it's finished, and I'm perfectly willing to put in the time to make it right.

Sometimes, though, you've got to know when it's time to let go. My Forest Path Stole has literally been languishing in my work basket for almost a year since my second attempt at casting on. The problem? I really, really don't enjoy entrelac, the simple lace patterns were boring, and then method of placement for those patterns meant that they weren't going to be easily memorized for a more mindless knit.
So I snapped off what I had done and threw it away. The three skeins of Suri Elegance have been sent back to the stash, and the copy of the pattern was sent to the recycling bin. I'm giving myself permission to let go and move on. This just isn't my cup of tea.
My work didn't end there. Also completed (but not photographed) was the frogging of my Rivendell socks, the start of a summer shawl and the two rows of my Town & Country sweater. The first two were technically removed from my WIP list months ago, but then I never managed to take the extra step to frog them so that the yarn could find a new purpose. The third was supposed to be my third NaKniSweMoDo, but apparently wasn't the right choice for my next project. I've been trying to force it for over a week, and it just wasn't happening. After that I put away all of those reclaimed needles, sorted and put away my patterns and magazines, and then reorganized and put away my bins of yarn. It all felt very good.
There's precious little on the needles right now - and that's fine by me. The cobwebs and clutter are gone, and I'm free to begin again.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Monday List


Last week, as you may remember, was a bit on the busy side....

The follow up:

1-4 The alpaca Spin-Off superintendent is picking up everything on Wednesday! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am to finally be finished with this job. I do have some paperwork to wrap up, but that won't take long. Life can now return to normal.

5-6 I finalized all of my PEO paperwork this morning, and was ready for my meeting last week. I was rather caught off guard by how completely draining that meeting and the end of year paperwork was. It's a good thing that I love my chapter so much!

7 I had a wonderful first sock class.

8-11 However, nothing else got accomplished last week. I was rather surprised with exactly how much PEO work had to be done. In fact, I spent the greater part of three entire days dealing with it, and with the rest of my time devoted to the alpaca show.... Again, life can return to normal now.

12. I did finish most of my lacewing shawl, but. More on that tomorrow.

This week's list:

There is no list. I'm so completely exhausted and drained that I need to really take it easy this next week. Yes, the house needs to be cleaned and there are projects that I both need and want to do. The Green Woman and I feel a great need to just be, though, and so that's what we're going to do for a while.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Breaking Free

This last week has been very hard. On top of my work for the alpaca show, I've been spending a very great deal of time with my duties as president of my PEO chapter. On Thursday - after 2 hours on the phone about PEO matters - I decided I'd had it. (That two hours followed literally 3 days of phone calls and paperwork.) The Pixie and I packed up on the spur of a moment and ran to Stephens Lake, our favorite of the local park. A good, brisk 30 minute walk on the trails and an hour at the playground left us feeling renewed. The Green Woman, who has been a bit annoyed with the sheer amount of 'work' going on lately around here, approved so much that she sent me back to the park yesterday as well. The Pixie and I picked up our Princess at school and went straight to the park for another two hours of play. We needed it!





Monday, March 2, 2009

The Monday List




These are pictures I shot last week during a torrential downpour. It's been dry here, and so we really can't complain. I can honestly say, though, that I've never seen the drainage creek out back flood so quickly or become so large. It was rather impressive.

The end is in sight with the alpaca show, and so it is time to return to my favorite organizational tool - the Monday List.
  1. Wash all of the mini-skeins for the alpaca show.
  2. Finalize paperwork for the alpaca show.
  3. Judge the Suri samples (there's only 11).
  4. Pack everything up and have it ready to return to the show superintendent by next Monday!
  5. Important PEO paperwork must be completed! The sooner the better - and probably today.
  6. Likewise, I need to prepare for my PEO meeting this week.
  7. I'm teaching the first session of a 3-part 'knit to fit' sock class on Saturday, and so I need to make sure I have all of my notes and samples together.
  8. Sort and put away hand-me-downs for the girls, box up outgrown clothes to give to friends and charity. (This is important. There's been a stack of storage boxes and a mound of old clothes living in my bedroom for far too long as I've pulled random things, but not had time to do anything with them.)
  9. Family Menu Planning - something which is always a good thing, but has fallen woefully aside as I've been so busy over the last month.
  10. I'm not going to worry about any intense Spring Cleaning until the alpaca is out the door - but I do want to start working on some small things, like reorganizing my bedroom area and scrubbing the kitchen floors. All of this is as time allows, and I will press the family into duty as needed. I imagine that next week's list is going to be more Spring Cleaning than anything else.
  11. One of the things I would like to do is to put together a post-alpaca list of things that I want/need to catch up on.
  12. And because life is no good if it's all work and no play, I do want to do some fun knitting this week! The lacewing shawl is well under way, and I think I'll just stick with it. I might even be able to finish it by the next guild meeting!