Thursday, April 30, 2015

Living In Fantasy

A month of fairy tales, fantasy, urban myth, and glorious, glorious stories.  The Green Woman approves.  Also, it was so much fun that I've decided to carry it over into a second month!

A note about the amount of audio this month:  Most of the audiobooks I listened to were under 11 hours, and I was able to speed most of them up to 1.25x the regular speed because of slow readers.  Even then it seems like a lot, but remember...I almost always have audio going when I'm at home alone. 

1.  The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro (audio) - Absolutely fits with the theme of the month, being an Arthurian tale and one filled with all sorts of questing and magic.  It's a really weird book.  I enjoyed it...but I didn't...but it's right up my alley...but I had trouble following it once in a while...but I stuck with it because I wanted to find out what happened in the end...but it might have been too 'literary' and not enough about the story...but I'm not sure how I feel about it now that it's over.  Honestly, I don't think I'm an Ishiguro fan.  It's one of those books that I'm glad I read....but I'm also glad I didn't pay for it.

2.  The Tropic of Serpents and  3.  Voyage of the Basilisk, Marie Brennan - I adore Brennan's gaslamp fantasies about Lady Trent.  She's fiesty and funny and is just exactly the sort of female adventurer we need more books about.  I only recently read the first book, and waited until the third came out before I bought the second so that I could read them back to back.  I'll be encouraging my daughters to read these!  My only irritation...I am an impatient woman, and it drives me nuts that I am going to have to wait to hear the rest of the story!  Given Isabelle is only about 30 at the end of Basilisk, and is writing these books from an advanced age...we could be in for a LOT more books, and if the quality stays this high, I say bring them on!

4.  Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman (audio) - A confession:  I only made it about a third of the way through this book last month.  I lucked onto the audio during a browse of my library's digital catalog, and am so very glad I did.  Gaiman serves as narrator, and it's always a treat to listen to him read his work.  His voice is just magical, and of course he is able to tell the story exactly as it was intended.  I laughed, I cried....amazing!

5.  The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, Neil Gaiman (audio, also read by the author) - It's only 6 hours long, and it was available immediately, and it fit perfectly into my theme for the month, and at any rate it's a great favorite of mine.  I listened to this lovely book while putting the edging on a baby blanket, wrapped up in my special lap quilt while sitting in my favorite orange chair tucked into my corner of the basement with a cup of tea sitting in the windowsill next to me.  It was a lovely, lovely way to spend a day.  (I've officially decided to treat myself by purchasing the audio of Stardust.  I had borrowed it from the library in CD format once upon a time, and had listened to it multiple time over the years before accidentally deleting some of the files (Whoops!)  I want that for my very own...and maybe this one someday too.)

6.  Od Magic, Patricia McKillip (audio) - Reading this because it's the one McKillip book the library had available in digital audio format and because I wanted to reread some McKillip!  I adore her books, which are very traditional and very beautifully written fantasy/fairy tales, but for some reason have never really reread them as I do with other favorite authors.  I spent two days curled up in my favorite chair working furiously on a baby gift while listening to this book.  McKillip's books are beautiful gems, and I may start a reread of all of them after this.  I soooo wish that more of them were available in audio from my library!

7. The Drowning Girl, Caitlin R Kiernan -  Normally I don't pay attention to the Hugo and Nebula awards, but this one caught my interest.  (And seriously, I can't remember which one it was connected to - or if it won or was on a nomination list....I just remember stumbling across it when looking at the lists, and being curious.)  I love this book  - but it's hard to read.  When your protagonist has schizophrenia, and when the author does such an amazing job of capturing that voice, it can be a touch difficult to untangle the threads at times.  Totally worth the effort, but not a book I was able to sit back and just enjoy.  Plus, there's lots of art in there I had to immediately look up.  (Bonus of reading on an ipad!)  I really and truly loved the characters...but after struggling through it all month, and only making it half way, I set it aside.  I do believe I'll finish it at some point, but it's clearly not what I'm wanting right now. 

8.  The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johanson (audio) - Again, thanks to the library for letting me try someone new.  This is a book I'd seen around for a while and was curious about.  It was amazing.  I love Johanson's young queen, who is exactly the sort of female hero I adore, and I love her concept for her world.  (think post-industrial/modern back to medieval like times with magic thrown in for good measure)  The sequel is released in a month or so, and I've already preordered it.  The only thing that stinks is that it's a planned trilogy and I'm then going to have to wait for a year for the next one.  Drat the luck! 

9.  Touchstone, Melanie Rawn - Rawn is one of my favorite female authors from back in the day when I was reading big, fat fantasy series.  Touchstone is the first in her most recent series, and it's been sitting on my (digital) bookshelf for quite some time. (Curiously enough, I have her second Sunrunner series also sitting on my (physical) bookshelf, where it's been for at least ten years now without being touched.)  Going to confess... I never really got swept up into it, and that was a tad of a disappointment.  It wound up being set aside on the unfinished bookshelf of shame.  If I had to pinpoint exactly what my problem was...probably that it was too teen male, and I long ago stopped reading that sort of fantasy book. 

10.  The Hum and the Shiver and 11. Whisp of a Thing, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - I adore Bledsoe, and as the third Tufa book comes out this year I thought I would reread the first two, trying audio this time.  (Plus, I had just about exhausted what's available/I was interested in in audio through my library's online services!)  I own them both in ebook editions - probably will get physical copies as Bledsoe is one of my favorite new author finds of the past couple of years.  I can't say enough good things about these books.  Love, love, love them.  As a bonus, I picked up his short story, Shall We Gather, and in 15 minutes it wrecked me in a really good way. 

11.  The Shadowed Sun, N.K. Jemesin - the sequel to the Killing Moon.  Now that I'm familiar with this world, it was a LOT easier to get into.  I still don't think that these two books are as good as Jemesin's Inheritance trilogy, but then those books are so amazing they really set the bar almost impossibly high.  I was very satisfied with the ending, and as usual I do truly appreciate the rich and detailed world that Jemesin created.  I also love her characters!

12.  The Little Country, Charles De Lint - This was the book that cemented my love for De Lint, and it's one of my absolute favorites.  I had, in fact, reread most of it fairly recently - I know these books so well that I can enjoy just picking them up and reading parts - so you might think it's strange that I picked it up again so soon.  However, a couple of weeks ago I finally received my copy of The Little Country by Zahatar, and I thought it might be fun to reread the book while listening to the album it inspired.  It was an amazing experience!  Yay! 

One of these things is not like the other:

13.  The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (audio) - As I'm sure many of you know, this is one of the big buzz books of the spring, with strong connections being made between it and Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.  (I get the comparison, but it does both an injustice.)  I did the audio because the wait list for the audio was shorter than any other format the library had available!  It's always a good sign when there are multiple readers...and they didn't disappoint!  It's basically a book about three crazy, horrible women...and yet at times I felt a great deal of sympathy towards them.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What the What?!?!?!?!

Bet you never saw this one coming....
Overwhelmed by a week that was rather challenging*, and truly stymied by creative block, I found myself reaching on Saturday for a cross stitch kit I purchased 15ish years ago.
Strange, right?!
Maybe not so much.  Sometimes the best way to deal with a creative block is to walk away and do something else for a little while.  (I'm trying to ignore the small voice that's telling me that I'm avoiding the problem...)
I imagine some of you are scratching your heads right now, puzzled about where this came from.  I have NEVER discussed cross-stitch on the blog, and have only touched lightly on embroidery from time to time.  Needle arts really aren't my thing.
Except they used to be...sort of.
Back in college I did two rather large pieces - an Irish blessing that hangs by our front door, and a dragon that lives in my husband's office.  I would be lying if I said I thoroughly loved the process.  Cross-stitch is frustratingly slow at times (so says the woman who invested 350 hours in a Shetland shawl...), and it does rather trigger some craziness due to my perfectionism and tendency to be an OCDish counter.  I had to pick out a one inch square of that dragon's tail, for example, because I was two stitches off...and that just about killed me.  Nevertheless, I've always been attracted to such detail work, I've always adored embroidery floss, and a great kit has always been a temptation.  Plus,I loved feeling connected to the rich history of women with needle and thread.  I would never really have called my cross-stitch more than 'dabbling', though.
After Sean and I got married, I did several small pieces.  It's frustratingly difficult to find good patterns -those that are free of kitch and country - and I exhausted the pitiful local choices.  At some point between college and first child I brought home multiple kits for larger projects - all purchased with either the massive coupons you can get from the craft stores, or special sales.  I never really went overboard, but I also knew that kits were periodically discontinued and would disappear.
Motherhood changed everything.
When our eldest child was about five months old I had an epiphany.  I could no longer dabble in the many, many crafts that I had enjoyed over the years.  With a baby, I just didn't have the time.  If I was ever going to be truly good at handwork, I had to let go of the Jack-of-all-trades (master-of-none) type of attitude that I grew up with.  I needed to pick something, and FOCUS.
So I cleaned out the craft closet, and I was fairly ruthless.  I chose to stick with the knitting, so that stayed....and you all know how far that has taken me.  The tatting and spinning supplies were boxed up for storage because I did feel a true connection with them, and knew I would come back eventually.  Everything else, and there was a lot, went out the door...with one exception.  I kept two of the cross stitch kits.**  One was a wizard, meant to be a companion to the dragon I'd made for Sean....and the second was a dragon that I wanted for myself. 
Truthfully, I probably should have gotten rid of even these two kits a long time ago.  The likelihood of me returning to them was slim to none....
Until Saturday, when my dragon seemed to be just the thing I wanted.
 The very good news is that at some point I had already done the prep work and had stitched the outermost portion of the border.  All I had to do on Saturday was dig out my supplies, figure out which way was up and carry on.  There was a tiny moment of panic because I had forgotten that I'd long ago put half of the floss into the storage system as it had not stayed in the basket with the rest of the kit...but that was quickly resolved.
I had forgotten how much I do love it.  that was a surprise.
I'm not na├»ve.  I know where the OCD pitfalls are, and given the complexity of the pattern and the number of colors involved (both on their own and combined with others) I have a decent idea of the very great length of time it's going to take to actually finish this beast.  But for now...for now I'm going to spend a little bit of time enjoying my dragon, and I'll see how far I can get before I tuck it away once again.
The pattern is Teresa Wentzler's The Storyteller.
Purchased as a Leisure Arts kit. (now discontinued)
 If you are interested in Wentzler's work, a great place to start is her website.
*I described last week to some friends as excruciatingly difficult.  The truth is that there was no one thing that was a gigantic disaster...rather, it was a series of events that began on Sunday afternoon and continued through Friday.  Each one in and of itself wasn't so bad, but altogether it was a bit much.  I'm actually quite proud of how I handled each challenge, but by the end of the week I was completely worn out and most of my plans had been shot to heck.  On top of that, this week is looking like it's going to be on the crazy side.  Consequently, I'm not going to do an official Monday List this week.  I'm just going to do the best I can, and we'll see what happens!

**I actually regret getting rid of a third kit - a gorgeous angel.  I had prepped the fabric, and in one of my moves it had been damaged.  It was not a standard color, and I didn't want to mess with trying to track down a replacement so out the door it went. I might have done things differently.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Exploring Environmental Stewardship

I have been asked to write regular pieces on the environment and going green for my Mission Center newsletter.  (My church - the Community of Christ - is divided into regional mission centers for organizational purposes.)  I thought you might enjoy reading them, so I'll be sharing them here after they are published. 
There are two things you should know about me.

1.       I am a farm girl.

2.       I am a quiet girl. 

I’m someone who grew up believing in the sacredness of the land with all of my heart, mind and soul – recognizing a solice and a peace in the natural world that I find nowhere else.  I'm most at home on the hills of my parents’ farm, exploring the paths at my favorite state park, sitting quietly in my kitchen watching the birds at my feeders, or digging in the dirt.  That’s where I find God.  That’s where I can hear His Voice.

I remember distinctly the pain I felt when - as a teenager – I began learning of how truly fragile our environment is.  As a 16 year old attending a special academic camp I majored in “extinction” and the three weeks of research I did during that class turned me forever into an environmentalist.  Our planet has suffered because of human action – often times because we have just not known any better – and the problems are so large that they can be overwhelming.  I’ve spent my entire adult life determined to do what I can, even if my own actions seem a very small drop in the ocean.

Curiously enough, though, I never really thought that my interest in the environmental movement had anything to do with my membership in the Community of Christ Church.  As far as I was concerned, those two aspects of my life were completely unrelated.

That changed three years ago when my girls and I attended our first Mission Center Reunion at Camp Woodland Hills.  To my completely surprise – and utter delight – one of the sessions of my adult class focused on our spiritual responsibility towards taking care of the earth that we’ve been given.   I remember coming away from that class feeling very excited, and very proud of the Community of Christ Church.  The idea that it truly is God’s work to do what we can to help our planet?  Amazing.

If this connection is unfamiliar to you, I invite you to consider the fact that two of our Enduring Principles – The Sacredness of Creation and Responsible Choices – speak directly to the needs of the environment.  According to our world church website, these two principles are defined as such:

Sacredness of Creation

·         In the beginning, God created and called it all good.

·         Spirit and material, seen and unseen, are related.

·         Creation’s power to create or destroy reminds us of our vulnerability in this life.

·         God is still creating to fulfill divine purpose.

·         We join with God as stewards of care and hope for all creation.

Responsible Choices

·         God gives humans the ability to make choices about whom or what they will serve.  Some people experience conditions that diminish their ability to make choices.

·         Human choices contribute to good or evil in our lives and in the world.

·         Many aspects of creation need redemption because of irresponsible and sinful human choices.

·         We are called to make responsible choices within the circumstances of our lives that contribute to the purposes of God.

When combined, these two principles call us to take better care of the world which God gave us…to work to heal the damage already done and to protect that which is left. 

To this end, the world church has developed the Earth Stewardship Team as part of its work towards Justice and Peace Issues.  I would encourage you to visit their page on the world church website - - for more information about the team and to learn about their current projects.  Their Mission Alignment is that, “The church is called to “…bring fresh vision to bear on the perplexing problems of…environmental deterioration” (D&C 163:4c) The team’s primary concern is the identification and promotion of human accountability and responsible behavior toward the Earth and its resources in individual, church and community life.”

The question becomes, what can we do?  How can we apply this to everyday life? 

On April 22 we will celebrate the 45th annual Earth Day.  Earth Day began in 1970 as a movement to educate the public on the needs of the environment and to call people to action.  I invite you to celebrate this year by taking some time to reflect on which environmental problems speak to you directly.  It could be water conservation, the protection of endangered animals, reducing waste, finding creative ways to recycle goods, cleaning up our resources, going green in our homes or our church buildings, food sustainability…anything!  What speaks to your heart?  What means the most to you?  What would you like to help with?

 Once you figure that out, commit to taking one small step towards change.  Our actions need not be monumental to make a difference.  As I said, every little bit helps…and we all need to start somewhere.  It could be as simple as making sure our lights are turned off when we leave a room, taking faster showers, finding out about the recycling options in our communities (and then taking advantage of them), or taking the time to learn more about an issue. 

In the future I will be bringing you more specific ideas of what you can do to “Go Green” in support of the Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles, and I will be introducing you to programs and ideas that can help support us in this work.   I would love to also share stories about what’s already being done in our Mission Center, because I know this is a cause near and dear to many of our hearts. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

83 - Which Feels Like A Lot

 At this point I've knit so many socks that I've given up on names and am going with numbers.
My 83rd pair - another pair for me!
Basic Sock Pattern by Ann Budd
Opal Sock Yarn
Knit Picks 2.0mm DPN's
My standard fit at:
76 stitches around
23 rows 2x2 rib and 50 rows stockinette in leg
60 rows in foot
February 21 - April 20, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Monday List!

Let's take a looksee at last week, shall we?!
  1. Woo hoo!  I finished the BVC stuff last Monday!  Yay!  This has been a rewarding job over the last two years - if for no other reason than it's a powerful reminder of how awesome people can be - but I'm glad to be moving it on for someone else to take a turn.  (I'll do some of it next year if they need a transitional year...but......)
  2. I DID start the spring cleaning.  Didn't get as much done as I'd hoped...but it's a start, and it feels GREAT!
  3. so the thing is...
  4. I didn't feel real great last week, and I had a lot of stuff going on, so no estimate on the chairs or trip to deliver donations.
  5. may remember from my last post that the decision is that I don't actually want to knit with that yarn....might be talking to/begging some weavers I know to help me use it.
  6. I forgot to talk to my friend about the design KAL  Just flat out forgot.
  7. The art project is on for tonight!  Again...didn't feel well last week so I didn't go get supplies.
  8. No spinning...lots of thinking about it though...and I wound up talking about it a lot. 
  9. Knitting was curious this week.  I actually did more than I thought I would.  Finished a pair of socks and Sean's shark hat. All good.  Feels once again like I'm clearing the decks in prep for something....
  10. There was no ten.  Silly me. 

Ok, this week's list is a touch more difficult to figure out.  Hmmm....How about this....
  1. I want to get that estimate
  2. and get rid of the donations.
  3. and blog about the projects I finished last week
  4. and I want to write some letters - both for the Love Letter Bundles for The World Needs More Love Letters and just because.  (Good for the soul)
  5. and I want to start rebuilding my exercise schedule, which has been woefully missing as of late because of how crummy I've been feeling. 
  6. So here's the thing...I want desperately to be knitting some lace right now, and I've been saying for weeks that it's time to start designing.  So.  I need to make some concrete goals.....including contacting that friend of mine and
  7. Making some basic decisions about shape and style and then
  8. Casting on and working at least the first section.  First one can totally just needs to be done.  (Kind of like writing.) 
  9. In the ongoing quest to use up what I have, I do have some sock yarn that's not right for socks...and I want to make some decisions about that this week.  (Make decisions...not necessarily working.) 
  10. The eternal plan to spin something....if I say it long enough maybe I'll actually do it someday.
Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When It's Just Not Working

I fell in love with this yarn years and years ago.

I remember being drawn to them from across the yarn shop....three perfect skeins - 1,500 yards of a mohair, wool blend in the beautiful colors of a forest in autumn...or of a turtle shell.  They were the colors that a fairy queen would wear, and I wanted them desperately.  However,  I didn't have a plan for that yarn, and it was too expensive to justify as a 'just because' purchase.  So I touched it gently, and walked away.  Several times.  Then, magic.  I popped a balloon at a sale, and found a 40% off coupon inside.  My fairy queen yarn came home with me that day, and I rejoiced. 
If only the yarn had retained it's magic.

Instead, it has become an albatross.
Lord knows I've tried.  For a very long while I worked really hard to find a pattern that would show the yarn and its glorious color to full advantage.  It was a tricky needed to be a basic pattern, free of detailing (like cables or lace) that would be lost in the color, but with enough texture to break up the typical pooling problems that happen with varigated yarns.  Try as I might, though, I never could figure out that particular puzzle.  There was always a problem - usually with gauge and yarn quantity - that couldn't really be overcome.  I tried and tried...and then gave up.
The yarn has been tucked away in my stash, largely untouched, for years now.  The albatross has weighed on me as yarn that isn't being used is a financial burden that I don't like living under.  For quite some time now I've only purchased project-specific yarn, and I deeply regret the stash building days.  More than that, I long ago lost any love I once had for variegated yarns.  The few that remain have become a problem that perplexes me every time I open the drawers and am reminded of their existence.

Recently I did an old fashioned stash "toss."  I pulled all of my yarn out of the drawers so that I could lay hands and eyes on each and every skein I own.  It's fun...and it's inspirational.  I decided that day that my fairy queen yarn would be one of the first challenges I took up in my attempts this year to work down the stash.
As I was knitting the baby turtle shell over the weekend, the wheels started to spin.  The hexagon I based my turtle shell on is part of a sweater that I'd once briefly considered as a match for my gorgeous greens and golds.  The more I thought about it, the more I liked the I decided that I would swatch this week.
This morning I worked the two pieces in the picture above - a single hexagon and a sample of the sand stitch used in the sweater.  I went for the needle size I thought would work best with the yarn, knowing full well I'd probably have to make some pretty major adjustments to the pattern.  It was a delight to work with the colors, the yarn felt good, and I was pleased particularly with how the sand stitch worked up....but something about the process bothered me.  Once finished, I sat down at my computer to look up the yarn and the pattern on Ravelry. 
Sometimes the truth is hard to face.

The problems with the hex sweater I could face.  There were enough finished projects to show me that with some care and consideration - and a few adjustments - it would be a nice sweater on me.

The yarn though, oh albatross.  As I browsed through pages of finished projects made from this specific yarn, I had to own up to the truth.
I hate variegated yarn.  I despise it with a passion, and I really don't want a sweater made out of it.  No matter how you knit it up, the colors in variegated yarns pool and do disgusting things.  It's amazing when still just a skein of possibility - but I've never liked what it does when it's worked up.

The worst?  There is one hex coat made of a variegated yarn in a similar weight.  The knitter was delighted with it - and for that I'm glad - but I could not in a million years imagine myself wearing something similar.

I don't have many yarn related regrets, but friends...this is one.

I'm going to go ahead and wash and block my swatches.  Maybe I'll change my mind.  Probably not.  I would still love to find something to do with this yarn...but I no longer believe that a sweater is going to be the answer, and I'm not sure that I want to waste any more time trying to figure it out.  My mother has offered to take some of the other variegated yarn I have for weaving purposes, and I think I'm going to let her have it.  Perhaps I'll go ahead and list this for sale on ravelry again.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do next, but I do know that this yarn just isn't working for me...and it may be time to let it go.

(This particular yarn is impossible to photograph correctly, and I am NOT someone who can manipulate photos well - mostly because the attempt to gain accuracy makes my little OCD brain go more than a bit crazy.  This is the closest I managed before I made myself stop.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Monday List

The wood violets showed up the spring after we had to cut down all of those dead trees.  I love them dearly, and am always glad to see them.
Last week was a very productive week for me, and I'm very happy about what I was able to accomplish. 
Curiously enough, I found myself spending the entire week at home instead of parked at my favorite table at Starbucks.  I actually drove there a couple of times...and then turned around and came home without ever going into the store.   My Starbucks has been my home away from home for years now, as I've been there almost daily since my youngest started kindergarten.  It's odd that I don't want to go now, and I've been trying to figure out what's going on.  Here's what I think it is:
  1. I'm finally comfortable working in my corner nook in the basement.  It's impossible when the kids are home, and in the winter when it's really cold...but I've finally learned to love my space and am enjoying it.
  2. Likewise, I'm getting tired of having to haul half of my office somewhere else.  I'm the queen of overpacking, but I honestly never know what I'm going to need.
  3. My Starbucks went through a redo a couple of years ago, which has seriously changed the feel of the store.  It's now mostly populated by business folk and students - lots of individuals staring at their laptops in a much more masculine environment.  The cozy, friendly vibe is pretty much gone, and I truly miss the crazy, random encounters I used to have.
  4. It's also crazy busy.  I'm happy for them, but there are days I don't want to deal with it.
  5. If I'm honest, it's become a little too much of a social gathering spot for me.  I have some really awesome friends who also come by on a regular basis.  In fact, I have many good friends I've made BECAUSE of Starbucks.  As much as I love them, though, I've found that I'm actually getting less and less done during my time there, and that's a tad frustrating.
  6. The blasted allergies again.  It is very typical for me to go through an anti-social withdrawal in the fall, which is normally the worst time of the year for me.  This spring has been truly awful, though, and I'm tired all of the time and have little energy to be around people. 
  7. I'm not crazy about the new tea line.  It's good, and I have several options, but I actually splurged and bought myself some really good looseleaf green and white teas from the Tea Market...and I'd rather drink it.
  8. Maybe it's just time for a bit of a change in the schedule, change of the habits.  I kind of hate how OCD I get about the whole thing....
None of this is to say that it's over.  I would miss dreadfully all of my friends and the lovely staff if I were to give up Starbucks for good, and I do have plans to go back this week.  It just might be time to shake things up a bit.
Anyway, let's move on to the list, shall we?
  1. The hap was finished, with plenty of time.
  2. The article is going live soon, and was a lot of fun.  I'm going to ask to see if I can also publish my environmental articles here on the blog.
  3. Journaling was spotty.  I did get some interesting dreams recorded, but that's about it
  4. I did get quite a bit of work done on the pair of socks that's been lingering for a while.  I always have a pair on the needles for just such occasions.
  5. and 6.  Didn't happen...but mostly because I was focused elsewhere. 
Now for this week's list:
  1. First and foremost, I am finishing up my second year as the Building Volunteer Coordinator for my elementary school.  As soon as I finish here, I'll be turning in my official report on the volunteer hours to our school district, and I need to get the list of individual volunteer names completed today....maybe tomorrow if I need to have a friend of mine double check a few things.  It's very rewarding work, and when you see the numbers it truly does remind you of how wonderful people can be.  Not going to lie, though, I hope they find someone else to do it next year.
  2. I need to do some major spring cleaning.  It's time!
  3. I need to take one of our chairs to the local furniture repair place for an estimate.
  4. And I need to take our donation pile to the Salvation Army.  (So far, there's nothing creative on the list...BUT, cleaning up my personal space will clear me up for creative work.)
  5. Do you remember a few weeks ago when I said I wanted to figure out what to do with some yarn that had been hanging around for a long while?  Well, I think my mom is going to take some of it for a weaving project, and...drumroll, please....thanks to my turtle project I figured out what I want to do with the Brooks Farm Duet.  I am VERY happy about this, and want to do some swatching this week to see if it's going to work.  Fingers crossed!
  6. I need to have a conversation with a FB friend of mine about doing a KAL to design our own lace.  She threw the idea out there when I posted about the fact that it is time I get over myself and get to it...and I think that might be exactly what I need to actually do it this time.  She had several ideas about how to go about it, so we just need to figure out what works.
  7. I really do want to do that mini sock art project.
  8. and I want to spin some this week. 
  9. Knitting is the tricky question, oddly enough.  Having finished up everything that had a deadline, and having promised to be selfish (mostly) about my knitting this year, I'm not sure in what direction I want to go next.  So maybe this week instead of listing specific projects I want to work on, I just want to give myself the freedom to figure that out and play a little. 
  10. I don't know.  Just seems like there should be 10.
And that's that...have a great week everyone!

Sunday, April 12, 2015


This is a slightly unusual finished project post, but that can't be helped, so here it is!
Several years ago, my ocean-loving friend from church showed me a picture of a newborn baby who was wearing a crocheted turtle shell with a matching hat.  She had a friend who was expecting, and thought it was the cutest thing ever.  It was adorable.  It was also the sort of fiddly thing I don't normally make...and I certainly wasn't going to make it for someone I didn't know.  (She didn't ask, and I didn't volunteer.)
But I remembered that turtle shell, and when my friend announced her pregnancy it was one of the first things that popped into my mind.  I knew I had to make one for her...and when she teasingly asked a few months later I went ahead and told her that was my plan so that she didn't track one down elsewhere. 
First things first, she sent me her inspiration pictures, and I found the item easily on Amazon.  I then did a search on Ravelry, and in fact found several patterns for sale...but all in crochet. Much as I did with the shark hat, I knew that I was not going to have to reinvent the was just going to take a little bit of creative searching to find something close enough that I could tweak.
I found my close enough in Norah Gaughan's beautiful book, Knitting Nature.  She has a whole chapter on hex patterns - perfect!  I based my wee hexagons on the pattern for her hex coat, also using her snapping turtle skirt as inspiration. The hat was a simple matter of tracking down the average size of a newborn head and then making a super basic hat.  For the yarn, I picked Knit Picks Shine Worsted in mongoose and peapod- a super soft cotton, modal (a fiber made from tree bark) blend that does indeed have a shine. I used a size 5 needle for the turtle shell, and a size 6 for the matching hat. The biggest question was actually how big to make the shell..and for that I guestimated.  Hopefully it'll turn out to be just right.
(For the record, the original inspiration item was based on a pentagon, as are many of the patterns on Ravelry.  REAL turtle shells, though, are based on hexagons.  Seriously.  I looked up pictures online to make sure.  A friend of mine totally laughed when I was telling her about this and said, "That's the Kristin I know!"   I may be a tad OCD...but I like my knits to be as perfect as possible...up to a realistic interpretation of a turtle shell.)
I knit everything up yesterday.  It wasn't as fast of a knit as it could have been because of the unforgiving nature of the yarn.  I don't work with cotton often as it's pretty hard on my hands, and frequent breaks were thus required.  I'm going to admit to being very satisfied with the outcome.  It was fun to make, and it turned out beautifully.  I think my knit version looks better than most of the crocheted versions I saw...but then I'm clearly biased.  As the baby shower was today, I immediately popped it into the wash and gently blocked it to dry.  But I forgot how long it takes cotton to it was still damp when I wrapped it for the shower...and in my hurry to get out the door I totally forgot to take finished pics.  It was still damp, so the color would have been off anyway...ugh...and I didn't have time to finish the hat.
So in lieu of a traditional finished object post, I'm going to share with you the pictures I took while working on the shell.  They do, fortunately, include a picture of the shell placed on my youngest's teddy bear.  Clearly the bare is not the same size or shape as a newborn human baby, but you get the idea.
Hoping mama will snap some pics for me at some point...but as she's going to be very busy very soon, I'm not going to worry about that.
 (This is the truest color in the pics.)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

An Ocean For A Baby

 My friends, I'm very happy with this one.
In my ongoing quest to use what I have, I decided to make a second hap shawl out of that drawer full of Knit Picks palette - this time focusing on the leftovers from the Andean Chullos.  (You might remember, I ordered two kits when they went on sale - two kids, two kits - not thinking that one kit would have enough to make four hats at least.)  I have a friend at church who's expecting a baby at the end of the month, and she loves the ocean.  I thought the colors from these kits, as well as the wave pattern would maybe bring a little bit of the ocean to her new babe.
And my, oh my, I am in love.  I think it's perfect.  I hope she does, too.
Shetland Hap, by Sharon Miller
(This time I used the instructions for the Morag shawl as given, including the stripe pattern.)
Addi Turbo US 6, 4.0mm needles - 32 inch and 40 inch.
Knit Picks palette:
4.5 skeins white (I did have to order one extra because I didn't have enough to do the edging)
misc. scraps of cyan, delta, sky, silver and ash
March 19 - April 9, 2015
I think it's time to put the Hap's away for a while.  As much fun as they are, this is two in a row and I have other things to knit.
The funny thing is that I'm planning at least two more this year.  You see, before I made this particular hap I asked my eldest daughter if she wanted me to make it for her because the blues are her favorite colors.  She said no....being somewhat disdainful at the age of 12 of Mom's knits, so I happily knit it for the baby.  She walked into the living room shortly after I had finished blocking it, looked down, and immediately asked me if I could make her one.  Mom really does know best.  Little sister wandered in a few minutes later and wants one too.  They so rarely ask for things anymore that I'm quite happy to make that happen...just not quite yet.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Monday List...on a Tuesday

It's a beautiful, stormy spring day....perfect to curl up in my space with tea, books, spinning, knitting, journals...all of those wonderful things which help to make me feel centered. 

Looking at last week's list:
  1. The second hap just needs the edging, and then it will be done.  Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn and had to order more.  Ask me how annoyed I am about having to spend $12 to ship $5 worth of yarn.  Sigh.  It actually wasn't THAT bad.  I also ordered yarn to do a second special request present for this friend...but still...the shipping was a third of what I had to spend. 
  2. As you can sock done!  Decided to wait until I actually finished the pair of socks to make the second mini, which is what I usually do.  I love these wee things....
  3. hmm...
  4. uhhh...
  5. well...
  6. eek...
  7. THAT I DID!  Journaling happened, and it was very helpful. 
So for this week:
  1. As soon as that yarn arrives, the hap needs to be finished
  2. I have an article to write today for the Mission Center newsletter.  I volunteered to write regular articles on the environment and going green...which is actually a focus of our world church.  Love our world church Earth Stewardship team, but I don't think many people know about it...thus the articles!
  3. More journaling.
  4. I'm cautious about committing to much more, because there are going to be a few days of frantic knitting to finish that blanket.  The shower is, after all, on Sunday!  HOWEVER, I have a few simpler knit projects I could use to fill my time.  (Hopefully the yarn will be here tomorrow...I did second day shipping, which was the best that was available.)  Throwing out a few ideas rather than an official to do list selection: work on a pair of socks, new slippers for myself, start my husband's shark hat...
  5. I do have an "Art Project" that I really, really want to do.  Has to do with finally putting all of those mini socks on permanents display....
  6. I'm going to go ahead and add spinning something to the list.  This is usually the season where the spinning bug takes hold, so I might was well add it in!
Have a great week everyone!