Friday, January 30, 2015

Knitting Karma.

...last summer, I "gifted" nine balls of Kidsilk Haze to my knitting group at church. Yeah, I put the "gifted" in quotes because it's lovely...but it's not my favorite thing to knit. I was hoping it would find a happy home with someone else. One of the ladies took the entire bag; she started a simple garter stitch scarf on big needles just after we met. And then a few months later, she brought back eight balls. Turns out it's not her favorite thing to knit either. We sorted through all our group's yarn last week and it was still there. So I - somewhat reluctantly - took it back.

There are five balls of dark purple and three of a really pale purplish gray. (I'm telling you this because the colors are hard for my camera to capture). 1,800 yards of laceweight mohair (ok yes, it does have some silk in it too) is kind of my worst knitting nightmare.

But I'm committed to knitting through quantities like this and my mind has been racing with possibilities all week. Perhaps another throw? no. I'd really need to buy something else to strand with it. a sweater? oh my no.

I eventually settled on a scarf. maybe holding two strands together so it's not so...lace-like? and maybe knit in the round so I'm only knitting? I've seen scarves knit in the round and then pressed flat. I could even add fringe to the ends to close up the tube.

The 5:3 ratio (dark purple to light purple) makes it hard to stripe since I really (really!) don't want to split the balls. This morning I hit on the idea of starting with one color and knitting it solid, then adding the other color (so I'll have an ombre transition) and ending with the other color knit sold.

It sounded like a good plan and I got more comfortable with it after talking to a few friends at knitting today. Imagine my surprise when I came home to find this free pattern in the latest Churchmouse newsletter.

Granted, it's written to hold the yarn on its own, but I think it will be pretty easy to adjust for holding it double (larger needle, fewer stitches... both things seem like good things to me!)

...knitting karma for sure!

 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Giving up.

...can be a good thing. Last August, I shared this photo on Instagram.

Give (up. pony tail not ever gonna happen in this lifetime. freeing.)

Yep, a new, shorter 'do. Since then, I've had trims, but no "cuts". That 'do was growing out. Apparently, I really hadn't given up.

Today, though, I'm officially surrendering (hey, it's on the blog now, right?!).

From here on out, I will be getting regular haircuts (along with color - I'm not giving that up for a few more years!) and celebrating the natural look.

...also enjoying a bit more free time. What would you do with an extra 15-20 minutes each day?

 

 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reminders.

...of my One Little Word. I'm really committed to following through on all this word promises for this year. Little reminders can't hurt!

First is this beautiful wood carving, a gift from my sweet friend Honore (this is our sixth year sharing the OLW journey!) It lives in front of Charlie's photo* on my desk. and seems so appropriate since he is such a big part of why I chose the word.

Thanks to Kym's recommendation, I also have these reminders to wear. Love the tiny tinkles they make as they bump up against each other when I knit - or move my hands (as I often do!).

Have to say...the excitement about this word is still there. I can't wait to see where we go next!

*the calendar was a Christmas gift from Charlie, made by his talented mama at Pinhole Press.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ten on Tuesday | Shoes.

...This week Carole's asked us to share about shoes, well technically "types of footwear", but for me, that still means shoes! I'm curious to see what other "types" y'all share. These are the ten eleven I've worn this season.
1. Fun sneakers. I have these and a plain back pair. They're the newest addition to my shoe wardrobe, purchased solely for their "fun with Charlie" factor. Note that, so far, I haven't worn them out with him because I haven't actually taken him out. Hopefully come spring, we'll be walking outdoors, and these sneakers will get their chance.
2. Fleece-lined slippers from Costco. In brown this year. (I think last year's pair was gray). Yep, I purchase a new pair every fall and I wear them out wearing them indoors. They're the only shoes I do wear indoors.
3. Uggs. I have one pair, the "short" style, in gray. I bought them in December 2009, before Sara and I visited Katie in New York just before Christmas and they still look great. Of course they don't see much snow here, but I'm taking them to Madison to next month. I also love wearing them to yoga. and to walk Holly when it's even remotely chilly. They're the outdoor version, I guess, of #2.
4. Running shoes. Currently a bright blue (with navy and hot green accents) pair of Asics Cumulus 16's. LOVE them. And now that I'm walking instead of running, I'll bet they last a full year!
5. Flip flops. I'm down to just one pair. Black Reefs. I bought them before Marc and I went to the Dominican Republic in 2013. They're worn now, but still good for the occasional pedicure.
6. Flowered pink rain boots from Target. I bought these in the spring of 2011...when I first had a little dog to walk in the rain. These get a lot of wear all year-round. The linings are shot but I'm going to try to pull out one more spring season.
7. Madewell boots. Flat-soled, nearly to my knee. Purchased on sale in January 2012.
8. J Crew booties. A little bit of heel and a color similar to the boots. I wear these and the boots about 90% of the time in the winter. This was my shoe splurge for this year.
9. Ballet flats. I own a few pairs. Surprisingly I've even been able to wear them (well, at least the navy pair) this month. We had a few mild days and it was nice to let my feet breathe!
10. Black booties. These are from Ann Taylor, a few years back. There are two sets of straps and gold buckles across the top. I loved them the season I bought them, and then fell out of love...and now back in. This year, I'm wearing them with black tights and a sweater dress and with jeans. Not all the time, but enough that I remember I have them...and wear them.
11. Black suede Mary Janes. I wore these on that Date Night for Marc's company party. Made me think I was a real Southerner because the night was COLD and I wanted tights and closed toes...but there were plenty of girls there in strappy sandals. Oh well.
....
Noticeably, what's missing from this list is clogs. I have a pair of black Dansko's that I've had for years and a pair of brown Naot's that I bought in 2007 when I had a bunch of foot/ankle problems. I can't remember the last time I wore either one and that tells me I shouldn't keep them, but...they're classics. And as sure as I donate them, I'll have to buy another pair!
Also, pumps (if I'd written this list when I still worked these would've featured...likely in place of the rain boots and the boots!). And if this were a summer list I'd have sandals - heels, wedges and flats - in place of the boots and the Uggs.
Carole's party is always a good one; click here to join the Ten on Tuesday fun!

Monday, January 26, 2015

the Knitting Tale of the 22nd Journal.

the yarn story
...I finished up journal #22 yesterday. I thought these Knitting Tales used to be a regular thing when I finished a journal, but I can't find a similar post since July 2012 (when I finished journal #14!) One of my favorite things about keeping a journal is revisiting those old tales*...and comparing them to today's.
the project story
I started this journal the day before Charlie was born, just about 4-1/2 months ago. Since then, I completed 18 projects with 9,734 yards of yarn. Ten of those projects used stash (or gift) yarn and eight were for others. Two sweaters (one for me and one for Charlie), one shop sample, a few cowls and scarves and eight hats!

As you can see from the colors, or lack thereof (I think every spot of color is stash except for that bit of purple at the top which was a sample for the shop), I'm in a monochrome/neutral phase right now. Looking forward to the three pops of green that will be tied onto journal #23!

I'm actually surprised at the pace. Journals #13 and 14 each covered a similar amount of time, and I knit about the same yardage. Wow. It seems like I've given up a lot of my knitting time to other things, especially Charlie (and yoga :-)! I'm no longer knitting at stoplights (well...not all the time anyway). Maybe I'm making better use of the time I have. In any event, I guess it's a pleasant surprise.

I'm hoping the 23rd journal tells a similar story - about equal stash vs new and about equal for me vs others. I'd be ok with fewer projects...and less yardage. Just putting it out there - I'm not sure where that will end up!

One more thing - these inside cover pages usually record only a Knitting Tale. But this one also includes a special memento from my sweet friend Virginia. She got her grandma wings two years before I did; her encouragement has been such a blessing! This tag was attached to a bouquet of daisies she gave me at the Grandma Shower. It seemed appropriate to include it on the cover pages of this journal because it's such an integral part of the story.

And now switching gears - I've been thinking about how I document my knitting. I try to keep good notes and photos in Ravelry, plus the bits of yarn and quick one-line summary in the moleskine. Curious if y'all do anything different? you know I'm all about the documentation and I wonder if I'm missing out on anything? I'd love to hear!

*in a nutshell, I tie a bit of yarn from each finished project to the elastic band of my current moleskine journal and write a quick summary on the inside cover to note the date I finished it, the pattern, who it's for, the yarn/colorway I used and the yardage.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WIPs, Wine and Catching up.

...Wednesday evenings with my sister.

Of course I can't photograph the catching up, but there was plenty. It's hard to believe we did the same thing just a week ago. And now we're only three weeks away from our trip to Madison. We're making plans...for cold snow, meeting a new-to-us cousin, cooking in ... and going out. (we even talked about looping Sara into these plans...next week!)

And amidst all that interesting conversation, I made real progress on my hat.

This is the first piece of a set I hope to take with me. The hat and the mittens will be green bordered with the purple. The cowl will be purple (I'm undecided about bordering it with green). Yes, I have a lot of knitting to do. (and no, Katie's sweater is still not finished).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ten on Tuesday | Oh Happy Day.

...Tuesday again. already?! This was my third Tuesday with Charlie and we're having a ball. Life is good and I am happy about so very many things. Carole's asked us to share "Ten Things You're Happy About Right Now"...and here are my 10 for today.

1. I got up with my 5:15 am alarm. This hasn't happened the last two Tuesdays. I teach until 8pm on Monday nights and by the time I get home, and eat dinner, and unwind...I'm up way too late and 5am is way too early. But last night I was in bed at 10:30 and the whole day got off to a better start.

2. All the laundry is done. the sheets are clean. the kitchen sparkles. (this makes me happier when it's done than when I'm doing it, but it still counts).

3. A glorious sunrise.

4. Charlie came over. (his mama dropped him off at about 7:45) We played. He napped. I knitted. He ate. (we did this three times).

5. Holly was very good. She's still figuring out what he's all about - and today he started to notice her. But there was no barking and no snapping (and only a very tiny bit of licking the quilt where Charlie plays.)

6. We used the self-timer on my phone and took photos. This one is my favorite (and my new wallpaper - 4 months!) That certainly makes me happy, but so does the self-timer feature that takes a burst of photos and allows me to choose my favorites (or just dump them all if I forget to turn the camera around and I take 11 photos of the ceiling).

7. Charlie went home in the same outfit he arrived in. (I didn't change clothes either). This is a first. Katie noticed (and I'm not sure if this is because she was pleased, or surprised, but I think it made her happy too!)

8. I wound the yarn to cast on the hat I hope to finish for my upcoming trip to Madison (eep! Madison! in February!!). I also hope to finish a few more warm things. more to come.

9. We had our first Deacon meeting of the new year. I wasn't looking forward to it - I thought I'd rather pour a glass of wine and settle in here a lot sooner. But it was great. The new class is excited about being there and I think my care team is going to have a good year. I also got to eat slow cooker barbeque.

10. My fitbit buzzed as I was getting into my car after the meeting. 11,000+ steps today. That always makes me happy!

I'm usually a glass half full kind of girl, but I can't say that finding 10 happy things in one day is typical even for me. This was a fun "challenge" ... and maybe one I should take on more often. It certainly puts the day into a different frame when you try to find all the good!

Click here to join the Ten on Tuesday fun! (and huge thanks to Carole for hosting the party!)

 

 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday | Retirement.

just before I blew out the candles!
...five years ago today my leadership team treated me to lunch - to celebrate my upcoming retirement*. We went to Maggiano's (always a group favorite) and I'm sure we shared fried calamari, Maggiano's salad and gnocchi (those were my favorite dishes!) There was even cake for dessert. and candles. I know I made a wish when I blew them out...but I have to say - I'm pretty sure things turned out better than I could've wished. These last five years have been so full - and taken me to places I couldn't imagine!

Beginning with learning to use a calendar...for my "real" life. It was so simple when I worked. I was busy all day during the week. I made the occasional weekend plans, met up with my sister on Wednesday evenings and had bookclub the third Wednesday of every month. That was pretty much it. I kept an "upcoming" list on my blog sidebar and that was all I needed. Now each day is different, but full-ish (except for Tuesdays when I babysit Charlie...all day :-) and my calendar is a huge friend. "Empty days" are rare.

I've re-joined my church and stepped up to lead women's groups, bible studies and the prayer shawl ministry, as well as teaching high school Sunday School and serving as a Deacon.

Teaching knitting. Managing the shop's on-line presence (except for Facebook...tried it, hated it, quit!) Carole wrote yesterday about "hobbies" and I have to say mine has turned out well. In my official "I'm retiring letter" I wrote that I'd be teaching knitting because I'd promised Marc he wouldn't have to support my hobby. My boss borrowed a bit of that language when he formally announced my retirement. But at that point I had only one planned class (the February Lady Sweater, to be offered on a Sunday afternoon so folks who worked during the week could participate). It filled up quickly and I was asked to teach a Monday night beginner class too. Things have ebbed and flowed and now I have two full classes - Monday night and Wednesday afternoon. No more beginners (whew!). I also write the shop's newsletter and blog, manage our Ravelry forum and Instagram account and dream up ideas for all that...including knit-alongs. (post to come shortly on what that's meant for my own knitting! spoiler alert...it's not all good!). I never dreamed I'd love teaching like I do, and the whole on-line aspect of knitting is...huge! and fun. (and it more than pays for my yarn!)

The Knitting Club. A few years back, one of my friends started a knitting group on Thursday afternoons. at the local nursing home. She asked if I'd be willing to help and I said yes. We've since added another volunteer. And a LOT more knitters. None of our original "students" are still there, but we have a new group of regulars and now it's knitting and crocheting. and it's one of the most rewarding hours of my week. Holly loves it too...and the ladies love that she's there - always "willing" to be held and petted!

House 2.0. I can't believe we've been in our "new" house over two years now. It's totally home. and I'm finally learning my way around this new part of town.

Working out. I have time for walks with friends (taking a break from running...maybe a permanent break?!) and yoga classes at the Y. In the spirit of managing my calendar, these are all appointments. in purple :-)

Katie moved back to Atlanta and married a wonderful guy. They had a baby last September. Sara graduated high school and college (with highest honors) and got a great job...in Wisconsin. I got a dog.

I've had time to spend with my parents (hey, Florida in January and February is not a bad thing!) when my dad's had surgery. We are so very grateful there is nothing in the plans for 2015... not that I wouldn't welcome a week of sunshine...or even temperatures above 40 degrees.

...and maybe the only things I could've imagined and wished for. Marc and I are still happily married. I still knit. and occasionally...I write about all of this. apparently way less than I did when I "worked". which still amazes me!

*I wasn't actually retirement-eligible when I left... Marc says I merely quit a very well-paying job. He's right. But I had good reasons!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Words on Wednesday.

...this has been hanging in my sister's kitchen for years. But I never really saw it until tonight. I'm not sure I even read the words.

paying attention. counting my blessings.

 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ten on Tuesday | The Bright Spots.

...this week, Carole's asked us to share things we do to make winter less bleak. It doesn't get nearly as cold here as it does in other places; snow and ice make rare appearances. But January here is often dark and chilly wet. I snapped the photo above yesterday afternoon (stopped at a red light :-) on my way to class. Black and white straight out of the camera - in the middle of the afternoon! - is pretty bleak. So for me, this list is all about the bright spots - finding or making them!

  1. Candlelight, especially when it's Thymes Frasier Fir.
  2. A fresh pedicure (hopefully Thursday).
  3. Red lipstick.
  4. A smile.
  5. January birthday celebrations (I'm fortunate to share in two - one for Katie and one for my sister - just three days apart at the end of this month.)
  6. Fresh flowers on the kitchen counter.
  7. Beach trip plans (sadly this isn't in the cards for this year...maybe next?)
  8. Fresh oranges with greek yogurt and almonds for breakfast.
  9. A cozy fire (with knitting and a glass of red wine).
  10. Storytime with my favorite little boy (who is four months old today!)

What brings a smile to your face on a bleak winter day? Click here to join the Ten on Tuesday fun!

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Glorious Mistake (rectified).

...Neil Gaiman writes the very best New Year's Wishes. I was delighted when he wrote one for this year - he said he wasn't going to...but then he changed his mind. And he shared it (oh my that last line - I've read it aloud a few times and have only managed it once without tearing up; it's lovely!) along with the others he's written over the last 15 (seriously? has it been 15?) years. This year's wish affirms so much of what I'm hoping for myself this year...to forgive, to make my time matter, to create, to share, to love...

But it was his wish for 2012 that spoke to me this past weekend.
And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple. 
And it's this. I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. 
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something. 
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. 
Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. 
Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. 
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
Making mistakes. New mistakes. Glorious mistakes.
400 yards of mohair. ripped. (ugh...)
Yeah, it's just yarn, but it was also ten days of my time. I ripped out all that I'd knitted on my mohair throw. It just. wasn't. right. I started the ripping thinking I'd re-knit the solid mohair double. But once I had it all off the needles and really looked at it, I realized I didn't love it. I'd sort of winged it when I started it and again when I added that second yarn and I knew it might not work out. And it didn't. Glorious mistake.

The second and third attempts didn't even merit a photo (trust me - new mistakes). But then I found something that worked. I'm pretty excited about it. Another Churchmouse pattern (no surprises there, right?), the two yarns held together on a size 11 needle. The fabric is light and airy - as mohair should be. The color(s) looks great with my chair (and as you'll see once it's fit to share - the room...especially the rug)...and it's knitting up quickly.
just a little bit more than one episode of Downton Abbey
my chair - because it sits in a corner with no clear view to the TV (and it has good light :-)

It was a glorious mistake. but now I think it's going to be a real success.

I'm not sure how this whole "mistake thing" might play out for the rest of my knitting, but I'm happy I recognized this one for what it was...and fixed it!

What was the last project you ripped out (and/or started over)?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

When All Else Fails.

...blog about your knitting! (with the side benefit that you'll actually update your projects on Ravelry - including photos!)So here we go! I have three active projects:

left to right, Deephaven, Retreat and Ondawa.

Deephaven is a really fun knit - not quite brainless (yeah, I've mis-twisted the cables more than once) but very rhythmic. I love the colorway and although it's called glazed pecan, I think it looks like browned pastry crust and I'm hoping I have enough yarn leftover to knit the apple pie hat.

Retreat is going to be a throw for the chair we bought last week (that will be "my" chair for knitting and reading - of course I need a pretty knitted throw for it). I've had the multi-colored mohair since 2002 (when my LYS discontinued Jo Sharp and put it all on sale...really deep sale) and queue'd this pattern when I got serious about knitting down my stash. It wasn't until I started it last week that I realized I didn't have nearly enough yarn. I found another really nice silk/mohair to stripe with it and it's working up fast. I'm not sure how it will look finished, but at least it will be warm and cozy!

Ondawa hasn't seen much love lately, but I'm hoping to get it back on track this weekend. This is the sweater I'm knitting for Katie (whose birthday is near the end of January). That piece you see is the first third or so of the second sleeve. After it's finished, I've got the front to knit and then four seams and it's done. This is the kind of pattern I used to love...multiple charts and lots going on...but now I just don't seem to have time for it. (I've got another sweater hibernating that's more of the same - I can only hope I find that mojo again...soon!)

Thank you for helping me catch up, but I think it might be really short-lived. We're starting a KAL for the latest Churchmouse patterns next Friday and I'll be swatching and casting on for a pullover. And I signed up for Kirsten Kapur's Mystery Sock KAL that starts next Thursday. And I have some gift knitting for an upcoming birthday.

I think I need to get busy! (how about you? is there something you need to finish ... to be able to start that next project?)

 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Watercolor Wednesday | A Sunrise.

...begin with clear chilly skies, add a few early morning flights together with a touch of PicTapGo and Waterlogue - and you get this:


Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ten on Tuesday | Well-intended.

...just six days into the new year and I'm already documenting intentions. Thank you, Carole - I think this is a record! I wasn't sure I was even going to do anything (more than that One Thing) this year until Christmas. But things came together and I have a word - it's Present. as in Be Present. Inspired almost entirely by these two images.

Katie took that first photo back on December 2 and Kal Barteski posted the second one on Instagram three weeks ago. When I saw Kal's post, I remembered a quotation I'd read on Ali Edwards' blog years ago (it took me a few hours to track it down!)

...but the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three on them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. ~ Anna Quindlen

I am not at all one for regrets, but these words spoke loudly to me when I first read them ... and even louder now. I want to turn those wishes into reality. Marc & I have been married over 30 years and the girls are grown; but with Charlie...well, it's all possible!

And with that short introduction, here's my list.

1. Be still. Practice breathing. and waiting.
2. Make good choices. Say Yes. and No.
3. Pay attention.
4. Listen closely.
5. Nurture relationships.
6. Count my blessings.
7. Take pictures. Make notes. Write stories. (treasure the doing)
8. Laugh out loud.
9. Say I Love You.
10. Pray continuously.

Honestly, I haven't been this excited about a year (or a word) ... maybe ever. Here's to 2015!

 

Monday, January 5, 2015

One Thing for 2015 | Beginning.

...remember a few weeks back I posted about that One Thing? A huge Thank You for your encouragement and creative input!
Day One.
I've decided it's going to be yoga. Yep, that hadn't even made the short list when I wrote that last post; it seemed too much of a stretch. But a few more things came together over that next week (including a very surprising one little word) and daily yoga suddenly didn't seem so hard. My goal is just 15 minutes a day, with poses focused on flexibility, balance and strength. Days I get to take a class are easy; it's the days where it's me and my mat and the Yoga Studio app on my iPad that are making this a stretch.

That cute little Moleskine was Friday's idea. I wanted a place to record details about my practice - and my progress. Not that I've seen any progress, but I do have five entries in the journal and that makes me happy. (it also makes me happy that I got the very first issue of the limited edition of 290!)

So far, I've taken three classes and practiced on my own twice. I'm already thinking about how I can get to more classes; I took one on Saturday and one today that I never considered making "regular" until now!

and I have to say, I feel good about it all. despite being a little sore.

I finally watched the January video for Ali's One Little Word class yesterday and see she's suggesting One Thing. I know a lot of you are choosing words. Are you taking Ali's class? do have a One Little Thing? I'd love to hear about your plans!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Looking Back | December.

...I know it's only the third day of 2015 but I already feel behind. Maybe because we had way too much fun on New Year's Eve celebrating the Yellow Jackets fabulous win over Mississippi State.



Or maybe because Marc's been home for three days and I'm out of my normal routine (plus shopping for new furniture for our keeping room!)

So today I've got one last look back at 2014 and I'll be back on Monday to share more about what's in store for 2015.
It's still a Charlie show (five times!), but this month he also has his mama three times and his daddy once (and his Poppa's fingers once, too - on Christmas Day - one of my favorite photos of the whole month!)

But the bigger story is that I managed to get myself into the picture...four times! (and wow, only one of Holly!)

There was knitting, but it felt like I slowed down (in a good way). For the first time in many years, there were no knitted gifts under the tree and it made for a much nicer month (note to self - repeat in 2015!)  I count four FOs (a cowl for Sara, a sweater for Charlie, an earwarmer for the shop and a beret for me) and only one WIP (Ondawa for Katie, featured on the 8th and the 22nd...and still in process - I can only hope it's an FO this month!)

I love all the twinkle lights - our Christmas trees show up nine times...and the trees at the lake (with the sunrise that it currently my blog banner) and at the entrance to our neighborhood. And even though there's not much sunshine, there are still bright spots of color.

Hope you ended 2014 on a bright note, too!