Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March Book List

1.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter - I took a wee cue from last month and decided to continue on with a few books that made Best Of 2012 Lists.  Read this book.  You won't be sorry.

2.  The Orphan Master's Son, Adam Johnson - I wish I had enjoyed it more than I did.  It was really good, but not really fun to read....if that makes sense.  Mostly it opened a door on a world that was so completely foreign to me as to be alien, and I'm not at all blind to the fact that the timing with world events was eerie. 

3.  Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed - Most of you already know that Strayed is the author of the wildly popular memoir, "Wild."  What wasn't at all known until fairly recently is that Strayed was the force behind the popular advice column "Dear Sugar."  I've never read anything like this before...I laughed, I cried, I couldn't put it down, I felt her words deep in my bones.  I have a feeling I'll be rereading this book often.

4.  The Wool Omnibus, Hugh Howly - I have to thank a friend of mine for introducing me to Howly and his amazing work.  Howly's work came about through rather unconventional ways, and in fact you can still get the first story in this series/book - Wool - for free online.  You're probably going to want to kick in for the whole thing, though, as you won't be able to stop with just one!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Year of Creating Selfishly

I sat down the other day and took a good, hard look at my Ravelry projects page.  It had occurred to me that there was an odd trend in 2012, and I wanted to confirm that fact. 
The facts:

I completed 27 projects last year...which is right on track with my annual average. 

My projects showed a very normal range of work for me - from lace to colorwork to toys -  They included:
    4 American Girl Doll outfits
    2 stranded hats
    2 pair of mittens
    3 baby gifts
    6 pair of socks
    3 adult garments
So what was I looking for?  What's so unusual about that?
In 2013, I only knit 3 things for myself....3 lace shawls (which did include the Princess) which are too fine for everyday wear, and which have been carefully packed away for special occasions.
That's right, 89% of the projects I made last year were gifts for other people.
Now, I LOVE to gift people with my knitting.  I love the fact that my friends and family truly appreciate the things I make!  It was, after all, our plan to give homemade Christmas gifts last year, which did skew the list more towards gifts than it normally would be.  I don't begrudge a single, fabulous, enjoyable minute that I put into  making those gifts.  In fact, I enjoyed it!
That doesn't mean, though, that I want to repeat the trend this year.
In fact, I am rather inclined to be selfish this turn that percentage the other way.
So I'm going to make a bold proposal.  2013 shall be the Year of Creating Selfishly.  With very few exceptions, all of my knitting and spinning this year will be dedicated to myself. 
This goes along quite nicely with my plan to Stop Looking Like a Hobo as what I would like to do is to create actual garments to improve my wardrobe.  After all, my husband now has a closet full of gorgeous handknit sweaters, and surely I deserve the same!  With what I have - and what I've fallen in love with again - I could easily put 4-7 garments into my closet without having to spend a dime.  Sounds good, doesn't it?!
Perhaps I'll do a post later this week with a few of the actual ideas I have....
This is going to be fun.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Workbasket

It occurred to me that I've spent so long focusing on very specific projects (Christmas, the blanket) that I/we may have lost track of where I was in the general workbasket. 
So I decided to dig out all of my baskets and bags and see just exactly what was on the needles!
Of course, the blanket needs an edging.  I'm in no hurry.
 I'm half way through the second chart of baby's new blanket.  Baby is home, by the way, and I quite happily lost my race with her!  (Losing never felt so sweet.)
 Yowzers.  Sean's favorite socks still need new feet.
 3 pair of basic socks are in the early phases.
(This is strange for me, although in my defence - sort of - the last pair are a gift for my Gram.)
 I've a handspun silk lace scarf barely begun.
 As well as a beaded shawl in a pattern I've loved for years....
 but with which I've struggled over yarn choice and am still not 100% happy.
 This adorable shirt needs to be finished and needs its pair of pants.
 Sean's new sweater received a tiny bit of damage during it's inaugural wearing.
 The girls' sweaters need a little TLC - including, perhaps, if I can get up the guts, zippers.
And this wee thing just needs the button!
I'm going to try to get the minor repairs done today, and then we'll see what happens.  I'm not in too much of a hurry to finish anything except for the baby blanket and Gram's socks....and what I really want to be doing is....
Start a bunch of new things because I have all sorts of IDEAS right now!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Falling In Love Again

Shamrock was moving too fast for my wee camera....
but still, it's a fun picture!
Yesterday a wee bit of magic happened.
You see, I began my spring cleaning by tackling the one area of the house I knew I could easily little office corner in the basement.  Not only is it a small, manageable area that belongs only to me (and thus I don't need to consider anyone else's feelings or needs when sorting and putting away), but it also had gone wildly out of control since before Christmas.  In fact, it was so out of control that there was literally a three-foot tall pile of wool roving and batts blocking the view of my desk and spilling out almost half way into the family area, and there was so much stuff on the floor back in my corner that you couldn't actually find a path to the chair.


Besides, as I stated yesterday, I've been feeling rather creatively fuzzy lately and a thorough toss and resort of my craft materials has ALWAYS helped me to clear the cobwebs.  After all, a neat and clean work area leads to a neat and clean mind!

As a bit of a digression....I miss the days when I used to take naps with my yarn stash....soooo good for the nice to be able to sort my stash in my sunny bedroom....ahhhh.....


As I said, my corner was messier than it's ever been.  Not only have I just been throwing my stuff down there for the last four months or so, but I also had all of my daughter's spinning supplies and our new (to us) bobbin lace supplies to contend with on top of that (crazy) mountain of wool.

The whole area is kind of like a tetris game anyway.  Crammed into one wee corner of our basement is my grampa's roll top desk and chair, three bookshelves, a dresser, two spinning wheels, a rocking chair, my childhood toy chest and a small storage unit (the sort with plastic bins at an angle that you find in children's rooms).  Into all of this, my crafting supplies MUST fit.

Nope, it's not ideal....

But it's better than what I had before!

As is often the case, it was a bit of a relief to tackle what had become a major source of irritation.  I lit a Zum candle, started a podcast, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work.

Once I had the mountain of wool under control, and had ejected my daughter's stuff from MY space, I turned to the dresser full of yarn.  It didn't need *too* much work, but I did have a lot of odds and ends that needed to be put away and at least one drawer (the laceweight drawer) that had some issues.  As I reacquainted myself with my stash the magic happened...

 I fell in love with my yarn all over again.


Yes, I did love each and every skein when I first brought it into my stash.  There's nothing there that was acquired without some thought and careful consideration.  Over time, though, focus changes....color preferences shift...a girl changes her mind about projects...the burden of yarn that's never fulfilled it's potential begins to weigh one projects/yarns beckon....the need to not be wasteful and use what you have short, the yarn you once loved starts to make you a bit crazy.


Perhaps it's because I've been so focused for so long on very specific projects.

Perhaps it's because I haven't really looked at or handled my yarn in forever.

Perhaps it's because I had rid myself of the ghosts of planned projects that never made it to fruition.

Doesn't matter.

All I know is that when I opened those drawers I saw all of my yarn as if for the first time.  I remembered why I had bought it in the first place, and I began to dream up ways to use all of that lovely stuff.  My yarn was fun again!  I have really good taste, and I have a lot of fantastic stuff!  The wheels began to turn, the well was filled (pick your metaphor) and a challenge began to form. 

For the rest of 2013...what wonderful things can I make with ONLY the beautiful yarns in my stash?

It's good to be in love again.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sheep Shearing, Etc.

Inside the rotunda of the MO State Capital Building.
I totally LOVE the circles!
  • Yesterday was the third annual Belle Ridge Farm Sheep Shearing Extravaganza.
  • It was also 34 degrees outside, with a wicked North wind and a drizzle of something that resembled slush. 
  • Thus, no new pictures.
  • If you want to know what it looked like, check out last year's post. The only difference was that we had 18 sheep this time around, there was a slightly different cast of characters among the humans, and we were all blue with cold despite a gazillion layers.
  • Seriously....despite two pair of wool socks it took me over an hour to thaw my feet.
  • Mom saved my hands with a rather delicious pair of felted wool mittens.
  • I ran a gate.  Not exciting, except for that I'm rather surprised I don't have a giant bruise on my hip the size of Zeke's head as our lovely ram tried to go through me to get back to his buds as soon as he became naked. 
  • I also ran the fleeces to the house for storage....offering me wee breaks to thaw a bit!
  • So we now have 18 beautiful fleeces - none of which I intend on taking this year - and 18 naked sheep!
  • We also may have babies very, very exciting!
  • So why am I not taking any fleece this year?  I haven't used any of the three I got last year yet....uh....
  • And the wheel is still not functioning properly....
  • Besides, the one I'm interested in is from Mom's ewe, and as she's a new spinner I'm pretty sure she's going to keep it for herself!  (As well she should!)
  • Baby is still in the hospital. 
  • I'm still knitting. 
  • I took a break from knitting to see if she just wanted to beat me. 
  • Now I'm rather superstitiously thinking I need to finish it so that she can go home....
  • She is the most beautiful baby in the world!
  • I admit, I visit a lot...because I'm selfish and like to cuddle babies!
  • (Update!  As of this morning, as soon as the hospital can locate a specialty car-bed (for use instead of a standard carseat), the baby can go home!)
  • Let's see, what else?
  • Overall, I would say that my life on my allergy/paleo autoimmune diet has been consistently getting easier over time. 
  • However, I took a big tumble off of the wagon last month, so I'm now doing a 21 Day Sugar Detox/AIP reboot. 
  • The VERY helpful thing is that I have a friend partnering with me who is also very dedicated to the paleo lifestyle. 
  • Detox has been really different this time...which is both odd and fascinating.
  • It's time to stop kidding myself with the 'It's ok to cheat occasionally' BS.  No, it's not ok to cheat AT ALL, and I need to suck it up and be a better example to my kids.
  • It might end up being my vanity that ends up keeping me on track...
  • As far as exercise is concerned, I'm still not on an official program.
  • BUT....I'm steadily becoming more active in my daily life.
  • It's a first step!
  • I hope this time to do it the right way, gradually building up so that I don't wear myself out.
  • We have Winston to thank for a more active lifestyle. 
  • He is, quite simply, the perfect pup.
  • We also call him (in no specific order) Winky, Winsty, Winsty Pooh, Winston the Pooh, Ding Dong Dog (when he does something bad or dumb), Sir Puppy Pants, Winston the Wonder Dog and (rarely) Churchill.
  • He's doing a million times better on the leash, so I'm walking him more and more.  This is good as I really did want an exercise companion.
  • We're doing well in our puppy classes....but he's still pretty young, so he would prefer to spend the classes playing.
  • The girls adore him....and he adores them!
  • The big shocker is that he and our 12 year old papillion managed to work out their differences last week, and are now playing together quite nicely.
  • Of course, it is rather hilarious to watch a wee papillon playing with a big, old lab....
  • Did I tell you that he's perfect?
  • Crafting...well, huh...I should do something fun. 
  • Instead, I think I will begin spring cleaning.  I'm afraid my brain is full of cobwebs right now, and if I clean out the house perhaps I'll blow them clean as well. 
  • Which is to say, I have few ideas right now.  Very few.  Ok, none. (crickets....)
  • Need to work on that!
  • Have a great week!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dear Baby,

I had an idea last night which involves you....
 You see, I am rather inbetween projects right now.  For the first time in a long while I find myself a bit adrift...not sure of what I would like to make.  It's a rather curious place for me to be.
At the same time, you are on my mind quite a bit.  In fact, you're just about all I've thought about for a week now....beautiful thing that you are!
Sweet baby girl, I am sooooo glad you are here!  You are so exactly what your parents and your big sister needed, and my oh my you are ever so perfect.  The angels knew what they were doing when they dreamed you into being.
But baby, you've been in the hospital for entirely too long...and while I want to make sure you are in tip top shape before you go home I really am anxious for you to leave.  You're soooo close to being able to go home so that you can be with your entire family....
I propose a bit of a race.
I started a lovely gift for you this morning - all in beautiful greens and blues, which for me are the colors of health and peace - and we shall see who 'finishes' first.  I'm going to knit like mad to see if I can finish this gift before you go home....
And this is one race I would love to lose.
With Love,
Your Honorary Aunt,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Next Steps

The squares on the blanket are done...and I've tucked it away for a while so that I can fully process the emotions involved in finishing such a monumental project.
Also, I would like to actually work on something else!
I'm still thinking about what....but I have some ideas, and there will be two posts about that going up later this week.  (Isn't it nice that I will now have stuff to blog about again?  The blanket has been amazing....but it did rather make for a dull blog over the last few months.)
There are only two things that need to be done still on the blanket...but both are doozies.
1.  I need to finish weaving in the ends on the back side of the blanket.  The good news is that it is an easy job, and goes fairly quickly.  The bad news is that I admit to having disregarded my own advice, and so I haven't woven in any of the ends since I hit the half way point.  Yep...two ends/square on approximately 550-600 squares that need to be taken care of.  Whoops!
2.  There is an applied i-cord edge that needs to be knit around the entire blanket as a finishing border.  That's going to take FOREVER, and I do NOT like to do i-cord.  Ugh.  My original intent was to only use yarn that I had for this blanket, but after great (extensive, exhaustive) debate I decided that the yarn you see above (Malabrigo sock in Chocolate Amargo) would be the perfect edging.  I only have about one skein of it (leftover from two separate projects) and so will probably have to buy another skein.  I'm going to wait, though, until I've figured out how far my leftovers are going to get me.  (It's entirely possible that I don't have enough of choice B, and it was a one-off that can no longer be found.)  I'm not at all looking forward to the i-cord, must be done!
Again, though, the blanket has been put away and I'm going to move on to something else for a while.  Not going to lie...that sounds really, really good right now!


I just finished the very last square.