Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monday List....What Monday List?

I can't believe I forgot to publish this picture. It's not the greatest in the world, but it does represent WEEKS of trying to capture an image of the doves when they showed up at our feeder. They were just so beautiful!

I also can't believe that I forgot to do my weekly list. I was just so busy trying to finish up that silly project that my poor blog fell to the wayside....much to the Green Woman's disgust.

So here goes.

Last week:
1. The sample thing went in the mail yesterday. Continued problems with the pattern delayed it a bit longer than I had hoped - despite working almost exclusively on it all week. I'm really glad it's over, and even more than that I'm really glad that the designer is happy with the outcome. (I emailed pictures yesterday.) My BKB also did a project for this designer, and it went in the box along with mine. Interestingly enough, I would knit her project in a heartbeat.
2. The girls' rooms are not clean...BUT. We cleaned most of the Princess's things out of her room following a nasty temper tantrum a couple of weeks ago. We're using the time to get her to pick up what's left as part of earning back her things. It's really working well, and so at this point I'm not in a hurry. It'll get done as it gets done....and she'll learn some valuable lessons along the way.
3. & 4. I did finish spinning up my crazy batt, and I've selected which one will be next. I just haven't started yet. (See #1)
5. I did make some progress on three projects, and I'm still happy with my putz-along knitting plan. It's nice to be relaxed about it for once.
6. & 7. I didn't swatch for the princess or sew anything. (See also #1)

As to my health goals - I had a rocky start to the week due to Mother Nature, but it was still a start. I'm feeling much better about a lot of things, and am very hopeful that I will be able to make some significant progress over the coming weeks and months. Significantly helping is the fact that a blog friend reached out and offered to be a WW buddy. I'm going to put this issue back in the closet for a while, but I will do periodic updates.

And, on to this week's list:
  1. Get started with the next spinning project.
  2. Swatch for the Princess shawl.
  3. Make progress on NaKniSweMoDo #4.
  4. Post about color - an idea that's been percolating for a while.
  5. Perhaps finish one of my WIP's.
  6. SEW! I'm in the mood....time to get to it!

Short and sweet....as that's all that's left of my week!

PS. After I initially posted this, I read through my morning blogs and found this simply brilliant post. Soule Mama is one of my favorites, and this is exactly the type of Mom I want to be!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Three

My super-secret project is in the mail, which means that #3 is finished! (3 down, 9 to go for NaKniSweMoDo!)

As I can't discuss or show pictures of this project, I decided that what I would do instead is to give you a mini yarn review.

Prior to doing this project, I had not worked with any of the yarns produced by Blue Sky Alpacas. None of the yarn stores I frequent carry this brand, and I had been uncomfortable about ordering it sight-unseen, and so I was thrilled when I received my package from the designer and found some beautiful, soft Organic Cotton inside.

I will never touch this yarn again.

It's the most awful stuff I've ever worked with....and I don't say that lightly. Among the problems:
  1. It sheds badly. I have never had a yarn leave so much lint behind - on my face, in my knitting bag, up my nose, in a heavy layer on the counter after winding it into balls... It was nasty.
  2. This yarn is really heavy. My wrists hurt badly after one big day of knitting...and that's just not right. (This wasn't a gigantic project, either.)
  3. It's just not durable. I did have some seaming to do, and I really struggled to keep the yarn from falling apart during that process. I can't imagine wearing something made out of this yarn. It must pill like crazy!
  4. Personally, I'm just not a chunky yarn girl. The description says worsted, but it's more like a chunky weight if you ask me....and I thought it made for an ugly knit.

I feel like a heel for complaining so much, but really the yarn wasn't fun. I'm glad I had a chance to try it - especially given the wonderful reputation it has - but it just isn't a yarn for me!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Newsflash!

Blogging has been a bit short this week because I'm frantically working on my secret, completely un-bloggable project. I'll finish it up this weekend, and we can get back to happy posts.

In the meantime, the power jack to my computer broke yet again a few days ago. My husband and I've looked into several options, and the long and the short of it is that he's getting me a new computer today. (Great rejoicing!) I'm super-excited about that and can't wait to play with it this weekend!

Back to the secret knitting......

(Oh projects for me, how much I miss you!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

10 Things I'm Grateful For

  1. Being able to journal on the deck in the mornings because it's finally warm enough.
  2. Walking the MKT trail with my BKB and three happy children.
  3. 3 precious hours of alone time at my favorite bookstore.
  4. Nearing completion on the only 'must do' project I have right now.
  5. Knowing that I soon will be free to start on exciting new projects.
  6. Watching the numbers start to drop on the scales.
  7. Fresh strawberries and grapes...my favorite organic yogurt...locally-made granola....yum.
  8. Quality sleep, and feeling fully rested when I get up in the morning.
  9. Open windows and a good ceiling fan.
  10. Time outdoors with my family - to explore the backyard and plan the garden.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Temptation

I found this when reading through blog posts this morning.

That woman is a genious.

Sigh.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Monday List

And you thought I was done with the cow pictures.... The babies LOVE to watch the crazy humans. They are very curious creatures.

Last week's list was mostly built around my daughter's surgery, which did - as expected - dominate our week. Interestingly enough, instead of being a complete failure, the list was about compromise.

What worked:
1. The surgery was successful.
2. Surprisingly enough, I did get all of the clothes sorted. In fact, I did that last Monday as a way to relieve stress. It feels VERY good to have all of that taken care of as it's been hanging over my head for months.
8. I did have fun working on that new vest! I've already shared it with you, and am very glad I started it.

The rest of the list falls under the category of "Instead of, " as in:
3. & 4. Instead of cleaning the girls' rooms, my mom helped me to completely clean out and inventory the pantry while she was here on Wednesday. I pitched/donated a full trash bag of things that we didn't want or had expired. It felt very, very good. I've been wanting to do an inventory list for a couple of years, but just never found the time. It really is a two-person job, especially with a pantry that had gotten as out of control as ours had. Now, it just makes me happy. Now, when we take something out we mark it off the list. Now, there isn't anything on the floor. Now, you can actually see what's on the shelves, and everything has its place. It is good.
5. Instead of doing sock samples for the class, I used what I had. There just wasn't time to get samples made up - although that is something I'm going to have to do if I continue to teach this class. Fortunately, two of my students are repeats (a fact which initially dismayed me - as in shouldn't I have done a good enough job with their first class! - but after speaking with them I understood and was good with it). One had a partially completed sock from her first class, which I was able to use to demonstrate heel turns. It worked out beautifully.
6. Instead of blocking my shawl I worked on a new one! Much more fun. I also set up my spinning wheel and had some fun with that, too.
7. Instead of finishing the sample piece, I ...... Suffice it to say that work was done, but that I needed to consult with the designer on several points.

This week, hopefully, our family will return to normal life.
  1. I have to finish the sample piece this week so that I can get it in the mail by next Monday.
  2. The girls' rooms really need to be cleaned. It's like the one last piece of the puzzle to make a comfortable/clutter-free home.
  3. I want to finish up the batch of fiber on the wheel right now. It shouldn't take long.
  4. Once that fiber is done, I want to start another batch. Yay! I have some reading to do along with this because I want to start working on specific spinning skills. More on that later.
  5. Oddly, I have no specific knitting goals for the week other than to continue enjoying the projects which are on my needles right now. Over the last week I found myself rotating quite contentedly through my projects as the mood struck, and I really enjoyed myself!
  6. I take that back, I do want to take time to start swatching for the Princess Shawl. I have a feeling that I'm letting the project intimidate me, and the sooner I start the happier I'll be.
  7. It's time to get the sewing machine back out! I'm not sure if I want to work on my quilt this week or if I want to work on project bags. We'll play that by ear.

This week I have a second list which speaks directly to my health and well-being. I've not talked about either for a while for good reason. After an amazing start in February, I fell down hard. The last six weeks or so have been difficult, and I found myself in murky waters that I haven't seen since early college. The intervention of two really close friends forced me to face up to how bad it was, and honestly I thought I was going to have to go back on anti-depressants for a while.

Then, last Tuesday I had the most amazing acupuncture session. As usual, I spoke with Lynn about everything that was troubling me - physical and emotional - hoping to address my problems holistically before I turned to meds. At the end of the treatment, she used a new technique on my ears that directly dealt with my three big bads - frustration, anxiety and depression. (I don't claim to know how this works, but then again I don't really care because it works for me.) Three days after the treatment I awoke feeling as if a great switch inside me had been flipped and the darkness had been exchanged for light. I want to use this week to take full advantage of this feeling.

To that end:

  1. I will faithfully follow Weight Watchers.
  2. Along with that, I will begin the work in The Writer's Diet.
  3. AND I will listen every day to my weight loss guided imagery MP3.
  4. I will walk for 30 minutes/day.
  5. I will start doing my exercise ball and resistance band workouts again.
  6. I will get up early each morning to do my sun salutations and journaling.
  7. I will go to bed when I am tired.
  8. Most of all, I will take care of myself - because I deserve it.

So there it is! Two lists for the price of one.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Circles

I absolutely adore knitting circles. In fact, my BKB and my Knitting Guru both tease me about my love for knitting circular shawls. If either one of them finds a new pattern before I do, there's bound to be a wink and a nudge as they share it with me.

My favorite part? I love watching the circle grow from just a few stitches as it expands outward - needing ever bigger needles. I'm easily delighted with the beauty of the piece as it stretches out over the needles.
When I was in college, I had a fascination with dream catchers, partially because a good friend gifted me with one. (Quality sleep has been elusive since middle school, and my dreams were tough back then.) Later, a social worker at the girls' home where I worked as a fundraiser introduced me to the idea of a mandala. Perhaps because of these, circular knitting holds a fair amount of mystery and magic for me.

Last fall, I made the Firmaments Lace Shawl, which was designed by Bonnie Sennott. (Bonnie just so happens to be the sister of one of my guild friends.) It's a beautiful design, and I was particularly pleased with it when it was finished.
Much as I loved it, though, I knew it was not destined to live with me. (Do your finished projects speak to you? Mine do. Often they tell me where they need to go - even if they live here for a while.) Instead, I carefully wrapped it up and gave it to my brother's girlfriend as a birthday/Christmas gift. She's one of my favorite people to gift with handknits, and as soon as I saw her draped in that shawl I knew that it had come home.
But I did really, really love that pattern, and I wanted one for myself. And so, when my next webs order came up I happily added the yarn to my purchase....and then cast on as soon as it arrived.

I'm a happy knitter.

Of course, the real reason why I made that order was that I had fallen completely in love with the Botanica Medallion Cardigan on the cover of the current Vogue Knitting. The Green Woman and I have to smile...it's just another excuse to knit circles!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Acquisitions

2 skeins of KnitPicks Imagination Sock Yarn in Frog Prince. The color is even better than I had thought it would be!

1 Cone of 2/14 Alpaca Silk by Valley Yarns from Webs. I wanted this color - Nile Green - when I first used this yarn to make my Firmaments Lace Shawl. It was on sale. I couldn't pass it up!

The reason I went to Webs in the first place was because I wanted this - 7 skeins of Skinny Dyed Organic Cotton by Blue Sky Alpacas. The color is called "Pear" and after looking at it on 3 different websites I honestly expected more of a yellow-green. In truth, though, it's a lovely sage. Far from being disappointed, I was actually thrilled by the color as it's very similar to a sage that's been a favorite for years.

Next up, what I'm doing with two of these!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Tough Day

Just wanted to let you know that our Princess is already home and is doing just fine. We took her to the Institute for Outpatient Surgery (fortunately, two minutes from home) at 6:30 this morning. The surgery started at 7:30 and was done by 7:53. We had her home by 9 - much to her relief.

Our doctor said that her tonsils and adenoids were gigantic, and they've opened up a lot of good room in her airway for her. In fact, we can already tell that her breathing has improved! (She's napping on the couch right now, and for literally the first time she's sleeping with her mouth closed. It's a bit eerie because I can't hear her sleep - another first.) We're expecting 5-7 days of recovery at home. Her doctor did say that he expected an easier recovery as her surgery was fairly simple.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dress Details

Jane Austin Dress and Shrug by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne of Mason-Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Sublime Soya Cotton - 3 skeins souk (turqoise), 1 skein ginsing (yellow-green), 2 skeins tobago (purple).
Needles: Addi Turbo, US 5 (dress) and US 6 (shrug)
Yarn and Needles from Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe
Fabric: Moda batik, purchased at The Wooden Spool in Excelsior Springs, MO. (no website)
Project Timeline: March 25 - April 11, 2009

Mind Your P's and Q's!

You can ask my Mom.

I'm a stickler for copyright, and do my absolute best to make sure that knitters around me play nice. Just before Easter, I read this blog post, by Pamela Wynn, of February Lady fame. Now, I've seen lots and lots of posts by designers on the subject of copyright, but this particular issue was new to me.

It annoys me when random knitters cheat on copyright, but sometimes I give them the benefit of the doubt for just not knowing any better.

When yarn shops cheat, it makes me furious as they really should know better. Next time I see it, I'll definitely speak up. How about you?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Monday List



Our church family is truly blessed through the gifts and generosity of one of our members. Not only did Ruth - owner of My Secret Garden, and Sunday School Teacher extraordinaire - create the dazzling altarpiece above (and the photo really doesn't do it justice), but she also brought orchids for all of the women in church yesterday. It was a treat that took me back to my childhood - to one very special Easter when my Dad decided that I was old enough for a corsage of my own. You could see faces light up over this unexpected gift. God is, after all, often in the small things

On to the list...
Last week's list was perhaps a bit ambitious. Then again, it was kind of a strange week.

What I did accomplish: Obviously, the girls' Easter dresses. A post on the details is forthcoming. I also took care of the pre-Easter details....but not until the day before. Some of that Spring Cleaning was happily accomplished - but not near enough of it, and much of my work was undone in last-minute Easter lunch preparations. Sigh.
So what took up the rest of my time? Well, several things.

First, my sweet little Pixie is very firmly in the midst of her horrendous threes. (Three is Soooo much worse than two!) She had a rough week, and I spent a lot of time working with her through tantrums, near-constant demands for things she couldn't have and a lot of angry sulking. As all of this was accompanied by poor nighttime sleeping - a sign of physical or developmental growth in my kids - I'm guessing that it'll be over in a week or two when the growth spurt slows.

Second, on Thursday I took the Princess to see an ENT after our family doctor finally decided that her tonsils were a problem. The long and the short of it is that she will have her tonsils removed this coming Wednesday. In all honesty, we're relieved that we're finally going to be taking this step. My girl has always snored like a freight train, and definitely has apnea as well. My guess is that the quality of her sleep - and thus the quality of her waking time - is going to improve dramatically after the surgery. At any rate, we lost almost all day Thursday because of the appointment.

Third, I had a large amount of work to do for my PEO chapter last week. Early on, I spent an entire day working on some letters which needed to be sent out, taking great care with them to hit a tone that was both loving and firm. After Thursday's ENT appointment, though, I also had to work to find someone to replace me for part of our next meeting - which is scheduled for the day after the surgery. I'll be missing our next two meetings (bad president!) due to family reasons, and so wanted to get as much of it squared away as possible.
Finally, I just had one of those weeks where I was emotionally and physically down. It happens once in a while, and when it does I find that I need to honor my low states by not pushing too hard. If I need to rest, than I need to rest.

New day, new week, new list.
  1. Obviously, the Princess's surgery is going to be our top priority this week. The pre-op nurse will call tomorrow to give us our schedule for Wednesday and to explain everything that will happen. My Mom is coming down to help with the Pixie, and my husband is taking the day off so that I don't have to sit alone at the hospital. It is an outpatient procedure, which is fantastic, and we've been told to expect a 5-7 day recovery time. We're hoping for an easy time of it...but we'll just have to see.

  2. In the meantime, I have some cleaning to do over the next two days to get ready for our little patient. Today I'm going to finally attend to all of those clothes that need to be sorted and either stored or donated.

  3. Tomorrow I'm going to be cleaning the Princess's room so that she has a peaceful place to recuperate. She will be pressed into service when she comes home today.

  4. While I'm at it, I want to get the Pixie's room cleaned up too. It won't take much as most of the problem is simply the gigantic pile of stuffed animals strewn about.

  5. I do have one 'must do' for the week. On Saturday I started teaching another sock class, and as we have our second session this coming weekend I need to make sure I have samples prepared so that I can easily demonstrate heel flaps, turning heels and gussets. We used mini-socks quite successfully last time, but this time I want to use regular socks. Besides...I need to replace a few pair of my own!

  6. As I also would like to have something to share with the guild tomorrow night, I need to block my lacewing shawl today!

  7. My sample knitting proved to be a bit more difficult than I had expected - partially because the pattern isn't spelled out in full detail. It's not due until the end of the month, but then the sooner the better and so I'm going to work like crazy on it this week!

  8. And because I had promised to do something just for myself....Last night I cast on for a new vest. I'll share the details with you very soon, but for now all I'll say is that I'm having a lot of fun working on it, and I'm VERY excited about the end results.

Given the week I'm going to have - I think this is more than enough!

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Three


That's Right! I haven't given up on NaKniSweMoDo! Despite a serious lack of discussion and/or progress on my 12 sweaters in 12 months pledge, I still intend to make that goal in 2009.

SO, it has occurred to me that I am actually working on Sweater #3 right now. Unfortunately, I can't talk about it, and won't be able to display it here on my blog. Why? Well, I'm doing a sample piece for an upcoming book by a well-known designer whom I've knit for before. I hadn't intended to count it as a NaKniSweMoDo project, but it occurred to me this morning that this project fits well within my own few NaKniSweMoDo rules. What are my rules? Well, it's an adult sized garment that I'm having fun knitting. It's that simple!
I thought I would tease one little detail by sharing with you a skein of the yarn I am using. Until the book comes out...this is all you get!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Promise



The garden to be...

or at least part of it!

New fruit trees...excellent for Dad's pies.
The strawberry garden...

Complete with new strawberries!

Dad's taken on his garden as his big hobby, and we're happy to help when we can so that we can enjoy the results!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Monday List

This picture just makes me laugh. Silly, isn't she?!

Without further ado, and because I feel a need to organize (!), the Monday List:
  1. Top priority this week goes to completing the girls' Easter dresses. The finish work includes: knitting or crocheting on the neck and arm edging for both tops, sewing in all ends and adding the skirts. That last part makes me nervous. There may be a trip to Joanne's involved. Also making me nervous, the lace pattern is a bit much for my eldest - who is just starting to develop body awareness. I might end up needing to do a full dress underneath.
  2. Easter accessories and goodies for the Easter baskets need to be purchased.
  3. I also would really like to complete the sample piece I'm knitting. I can't share it here - but I would like to get it out the door asap so that I'm free to focus on other projects.
  4. I have a mountain of outgrown clothing in my living room that needs to be sorted. In fact, I need to pull all of the children's clothing from our basement and do one massive sort. Ugh. I'm almost glad that as the Princess gets older there are fewer things left to hand down. Honestly, when I became a mom I had no idea how much work the clothing would be!
  5. After the alpaca left, I began the process of reclaiming our bedroom, and I would like to finish that this week. It just needs a bit more decluttering, a quick reorganization in the closet and a good cleaning.
  6. On the fun side, I would like to do some swatching for the Princess Shawl. I started last night, but found that it was too late and the light was too dim and I was too tired to focus. My goal is to be able to order the yarn in a week or so.
  7. Actually, I would like to start another shawl this week. I have two or three options, and I'm really not sure which I'll end up doing. Oddly enough, I spent all weekend carrying around the yarn, needles and patterns for all three - but found that I just couldn't start them until some of my other knitting was finished. So much for being a multi-project girl!

Oh my, look at the time! I just realized that my girls are really late getting up this morning, so I'd better go get them moving. Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The First Fitting

We tried on the mostly-completed pieces of the girls' Easter outfits this evening.
To my great delight, the girls loved them, and they looked fabulous!

Of course, my eldest is now very impatient for me to finish her shrug - and she would have worn this the rest of the evening had I let her.

It wouldn't be a photo-shoot without a little bit of silliness.
Posed pictures, after all, are a lot of fun!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Today's Workbasket

As promised, a return to what this blog was originally about - my creative life! This is what I wish I was working on! My VK arrived two days ago, and I've been totally obsessed with this vest every since. In fact, I've priced it today as a possible reward for finishing a batch of 'must knits.' We'll see.

My finish basket actually has a fair amount of work building up in it - including the slippers my husband knit for his mom and a pair of his socks that I need to repair. Best of all, the lacewing shawl is snuggled into that basket. It just needs a wee bit of finish work, a good bath and a firm blocking. It's another thing that's been set aside for the 'must knits.'
What could possibly be so important that it's caused me to set aside my lovely shawl?

Please allow me to introduce the Pixie's Easter Dress.
Easter dresses have been a yearly dilemma since my Princess was born. I've been amazed - and disheartened - at how difficult it is to find good Easter dresses. You tend to either find cheap and tacky or wedding quality. The pretty, nicely-made dresses of my childhood have been elusive. (My Easter dress would become my spring/summer church dress, dressed up for the holiday with the addition of gloves and hat - appropriate for Sunday without being over the top.) For several years now, I've settled on beautiful - but way too extravagant - dresses from Gymboree that were more appropriate for formals than for church wear. Seriously. Small children do not need silk dresses. I've watched the girls play in them with increasing dread, and have forced them to be overcareful when they would have preferred to play.


So I decided to change things this year. If I couldn't find the type of dress I wanted, than I would make it. The Jane Austin dress and shrug from the second Mason-Dixon knitting book fit the bill perfectly. When my yarn shop started carrying Sublime Soya Cotton in the most beautiful spring colors, I knew I had found my match. My mom completed the picture with fabric from her favorite quilt store back home.

I have one more shrug to knit, edgings to add to the dress tops and skirts to sew on. We should be done in plenty 0f time...and I just might make the girls little bags to go with.

Now, back to work....so that I can think about that vest again!

The Princess and The Pixie Take On the Farm - With a Little Help From Grampa