Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Books

Perhaps unsurprisingly, after last month's crazy book binge I didn't read all that much this month.

1.  Saints Astray, Jacqueline Carey (ebook) - The sequel to Santa Olivia.  Also a lot of fun, and was pleasantly surprised that Carey chose to complete the story.  Was a nice, and pretty light, read.

2.  Wise Man's Fear, Patrick Rothfuss (ebook) - The sequel to The Name of the Wind.  While I did enjoy the second book in Rothfuss's trilogy, I have to admit that it was not as much fun as the first book.  The first part seemed to be stuck, and the pace was much slower than I expected.  In fact, there was a section of the book that just dragged, and I found myself periodically wishing they could just get out of the darn woods already!!!  Despite that, I was thrilled with the direction the book took  - both in giving the protagonist new opportunities and in developing his mythology.  Rothfus is still one of the best fantasy writers I've stumbled upon in quite some time.  I can't wait to find out how the story ends!

3.  The Devil In Silver, Victor Lavelle (ebook) - I started my month of scary books just a bit early (two days ago) and though I've about 50 pages left I'm going to include this in September's list.  What I find absolutely terrifying about this book (and I'm not spoiling anything here) is that a person could so easily be locked up in a mental ward with all of his or her power removed at the mercy of ambivalent staff.  Oh, and the fact that a buffalo headed devil lives down the hall?  SCARY!  This book was both a Books on the Nightstand recommendation and a Fresh Air author interview, and I'm very glad I read it.  Lavelle's writing style is highly enjoyable and his commentary on society is spot on.

One of the big shocks is that I didn't listen to any audio books.  I started three separate books, listened to no more than an hour or two of each, and promptly abandoned them in favor of podcasts.  Who's to say why that happened!?

Again, October is going to be a bit of a theme month for me with scary books in honor of Halloween.  Also, I have a nonfiction book (a history) that I've been looking forward to for a long time and will be reading in honor of the upcoming election. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How To Make A Sweater












The yarn:  from bottom to top - Zeke, Willow, Katrina, Zeke, Danette, Danette, the four sheep who formed the foundation of our flock of Jacobs.
Sheared in May of 2011
Processed in April of 2011
Spun May and June of 2011
 
The pattern:  Jared Flood's Cobblestone Pullover, perfect for displaying rustic yarns
US 7 needles, Knit September 4 - 20, 2012
 
The model:  My Dad, who promised me sheep when I was a little girl, who made good on the promise two years ago, and who requested the first sweater from our wool. 
 
He thinks I'm a genius.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When It Just Doesn't Work


This gorgeous thing was the project I took with me to Arizona in the spring.
 
The pattern is Lisianthus by the talented Rosemary Hill, and the yarn is Mithril from The Sanguine Gryphon purchased on my field trip to The Loopy Ewe last summer before they moved to Colorado. 
 
I love the pattern.
 
I love the yarn.
 
They seemed like the perfect combination.
 
....and perhaps they would have remained so if my nerves from the airplane (Seriously, what was I thinking trying to knit lace on a plane given my phobias?!) hadn't forced me to tear the whole thing out and redo it twice.
 
....or maybe it was the fact that trying to work on lace during the busy and emotional week of a beloved family member's funeral is just not a good idea.
 
....or it could just be as simple as I didn't like the way it was actually turning out, and I thought the repeats were boring.
 
Whatever the case may be, when I got home I tucked the whole thing away and tried to forget about it.  I had absolutely no desire to work on it, and in my experience that's not at all a good sign. 
 

I knew I was never going to finish that shawl, and so I finally frogged the whole thing, rewound the yarn and put the pattern away.  It bothered me, though.  I loved that yarn so much that I at least wanted to have a plan in place to use it.
 
Queue the search of every single lace book and pattern that I own (which is a LOT) along with a lengthy exploration through Ravelry's pattern search.
 
Inspiration hit at long last....but it came with a healthy dose of humility.
 
Knitty published Elizabeth Freeman's Aeolian Shawl way back in 2009, and I've been obsessed with it every since then.  I went so far as to purchase the beads, even though I didn't have yarn yet.  The kicker was that I envisioned my version of the shawl in a beautiful olive green.  I eventually found the yarn, but have since had to sell it because it had an alpaca base (dratted allergies).  Honestly, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time searching for just the perfect shade of green yarn...because it HAD to be GREEN.
 
As I stared at my decidedly NOT green Mithril, and as I threaded a few beads - just to see what they would look like, mind, not because I seriously wanted a pink Aeolian - I felt the earth shift a bit under my feet.
 
Sometimes things just don't work.
 
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut with ideas we just can't let go of.
 
But...
 
If we admit we are wrong,
 
and if we allow ourselves to look again with fresh eyes and an open heart....
 
Magic can happen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brain Fog

I had my mom snap this picture for me at church a week and a half ago to celebrate one of my oldest friendships - Megan and I grew up in church together - and all of our wonderful children.  Her twins are 5 months old, and it was a joy to spend time with them!
 

Being in a state of flux is not fun.
 
Having to make decisions which are easy for normal people but extremely difficult for introverts like me is not fun.
 
Neither of which lends towards a very interesting me.
 
Which is to say that I've not been blogging because I've been wrestling with some baggage that I didn't want to spill over into happy blog land.  I work to censor myself somewhat, being very aware of the nature of Internet communications and the assumptions we all draw from it, and so there are just times when I'm going to be quiet.
 
What I will say is that there are times when my introverted nature tends to cripple me....and the last week or so has been one of those times.
 
Irregardless, I have worked too hard for the last few years to let a bad week take the stuffing out of me, so today I'm pulling myself up by my bootstraps and am getting back to business.
 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Yikes!

 
 
As you may have noticed, I've been rather absent since school started.
 
Whoops!
  • I've been looking back at the blog and at the readership and responses to different posts.  What's become very clear is that the more personal essays, like the recent post on the changes in my life, and family posts are the most popular posts. 
  • I don't know how much this will effect the blog...but it does embolden me to focus more strongly on my writing.
  • As for the crafty stuff...I've been focusing so much on the above shawl in the last month that there really hasn't been that much to talk about.
  • However, I did start this week on the Christmas gift project.  I'm still not sure how much of it I will talk about, not wanting to ruin any surprises and all, but it will hopefully generate more craft content. 
  • I do, after all, have at least two adult sweaters, a beaded scarf, a shawl and several American Girl Doll outfits to produce. 
  • And I'm not done with the list yet!
  • Also, I'm no longer freaking out about the empty house. 
  • I'd been told I would rather quickly find ways to fill my time, and once I adjusted to our new normal I began to do just that.
  •  
     
  • In other news, I've been on my autoimmune protocol with food for a full week now, and I feel pretty good! 
  • For those of you who are curious, in addition to the sugar, grains, legumes and dairy that I already avoid because of my yeast and dairy allergies, I've also given up eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes) to experiment a bit. 
  • I don't actually think I have problems with several of those....but it's for sure worth a month or two. 
  • Why?  It's all about gut health...and I want to give my gut the time it needs to fully heal. 
  • Now that I have the magic formula for building my plate (Thanks Whole30!) and have found ways to make my food fun and happy (Thanks Paleo!) it's time to really buckle down and get things done!
  • The proof is in the pudding....my weight is dropping w/o any work at all (NO, I'm still not weighing myself.  I'm seeing it all in how my clothes fit.), my skin looks great and all those other crazy symptoms we've talked about a million times are gone and/or are disappearing rapidly. 
  • Also, my doc let me go off of my thyroid meds to see if I actually need them or not.  The working theory is that I never actually needed them...that the symptoms were just caused by systemic inflammation.  The fact that my lab work never really showed a problem backs that up.  I have a month and a half to prove I don't need the meds.  It's a pretty big incentive to stay clean!  (Hate those stupid pills) 
  • I'm starting to exercise again....but slooooowwwwwwlllllllllyyyyy.  It's frustrating, but I sure as heck don't want to hurt my foot again. 
  •  
  • Is anyone else tired of the election? 
  • Seriously, I think the only thing politics are good for right now is making people angry. 
  • And for the record, I do NOT discuss politics or religion online often because I think it's a horrid forum for it. 
  • Too often people forget there are real people on the other end of the line. 
  • And yes, I have temporarily blocked a couple of friends for pot stirring. 
  • And no, I'm not going to give you a thorough run down of my positions.  It's private, thank you very much.  I'd be happy to discuss it in person if you think it's that important for you to know how I feel.
  • So there.
  • 
     
    I have some great ideas for posts...so look for more soon.  Hopefully I'll be back to a regular schedule in the coming week!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Completely Biased Review



When I was in the sixth grade, my parents gave me a West Highland White terrier for Christmas, thanks in no small part to a very intelligent letter that I wrote to them.  BB was - quite simply and truthfully - the best dog that ever was, and as a result I still adore Westies.
 
I was therefor delighted when my friends Brian and Kristy Miller published a children's book, Wick Is A Good Boy!, about a Westie! 
 
I'm not going to give too much away - because I think all of you who have small children should buy your own copy - but I will tell you that the illustrations are delightful, it won the mommy award by making me laugh out loud on one page, and both girls* gave it thumbs up.  In fact, Tanith requested Wick for her bedtime book last night! 
 
I'll be honest, Brian and Kristy are already somewhat legendary in my home.  My girls think it's super-cool that Mommy knows an artist, and I think it's super-cool that one of my oldest and dearest friends has found success by doing what he loves with a wife who is a perfect match for him both professionally and personally.  I'm always happy to support them both in whatever way I can, and I hope they have the opportunity to continue writing of Wick's adventures!
 
*I had super-early readers in my house, so technically the book is a bit young for my girls, but they do still love it.  It's listed as p-2, but I think it fits better for the toddler - k age range.  It would, in fact, be an excellent practice book for kids learning to read.