Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back...

Here we are, at the close of 2009. It's always tempting to say, "Already??" but this year has been so full and so good and so well-spent, that I can't really say that. What I can say is that for the first time in my life -- at least in my adult life -- I feel like I fully lived my year, and that is such a good feeling!

By far, the biggest thing that happened this year was the changes I made in myself physically. I lost a total of 48 pounds from the end of November 2008 (when I decided, on a whim, to take up kickboxing) until today. During that time, I not only stuck with the kickboxing, but I came to love it. It's always a challenge and is never boring. I know I am physically healthier, but the kickboxing and subsequent weight loss has changed me in other ways that I find hard to describe. I just know that I'm a happier, more fulfilled person than I've been in a very long time.

And just for the sake of comprehensive documentation, my physical activities for the year also included a day of snowshoeing in January, an orienteering hike with my family in June, an impromptu photo hike and a day on the river kayaking with Angela in July, a hike in the Laurel Mountains with the kids during an unseasonably warm spell in early November, and (mostly) weekly indoor rock climbing sessions with my daughter through most of this fall.

Related to the health improvements are the changes I made to my eating habits. I was successful in cutting from my diet a lot of refined sugars, white flour-y/starchy carbs, processed foods, and grease. For the first time, I've clearly discerned a distinct connection between what I put in my body and how my body feels and performs. This has been reinforced for me this holiday season as I've indulged in a lot of sugary crap that I hadn't been eating, and as a result, I have felt miserable from it. Not miserable as in guilty, but physically ill. Hopefully this will serve to solidify my resolve to continue eating healthily in the future.

And in my effort to eat better, I tried again -- and more successfully than ever -- to be a gardener. My little salad garden produced greens galore as well as other yummy veggies including delicious cukes and cherry tomatoes, at least until the blight hit in late summer. It was good while it lasted, though! Our large garden didn't fare as well. An early rain -- flooding rain -- destroyed a lot of it early in the summer, and it never really flourished after that. Oh, the weeds flourished mightily, but they plants couldn't really compete.

We did, however, end up with a nice crop of pumpkins by fall. And my flowers...they flourished beautifully all summer and well into fall!

Knitting continued to be a huge part of my life this year. I completed approximately 45 projects this year (which includes finishing some things that had been started the year before). The biggest project I completed was my afghan swap afghan. What's funny is that of the 20 squares in my afghan, I only knit 2 of them. But there are 18 other squares out there in the world in other people's afghans that I did made, so it all works out. I love how mine came together and I really enjoy curling up under it. I again made charity hats each month, which I love to do (I still have my stash of hats, too...they need a home! If you know of a homeless charity that could use them, please let me know.)

While I may not have learned a ton of new knitting techniques this year, I did gain a lot of knowledge when it came to spinning. Having gotten my spinning wheel at the very end of 2008, spinning itself is a skill I definitely improved in a lot this year! I also had the enjoyment of knitting with some of my own handspun yarn this year, and I got to take part in Tour de Fleece with my wheel instead of trying to drop spindle like I had previously. Much more successful!

I traveled a lot this year. Crazy a lot, especially in the first half of the year. In March, Kevin and I went on a weekend jaunt to Virgina and Maryland -- first to visit Mt. Vernon and then to attend the Handspun Yarn Party. In April, we escaped a late season snow when we went to Florida to visit my mom over Easter. In a quick turnaround, I then headed off to St. Louis for The Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling knitting retreat. What fun that was! (So excited that I get to go again!) On the heels of Fling, I drove myself down to my very first fiber festival, Maryland Sheep & Wool. And if one fiber festival is good, two are better, so I drove west with Cosy to the Great Lakes Fiber Festival later in May. At this point, I was sufficiently traveled out and did not get in my car for any road trips until I went to Plymouth, PA at the end of August and again over Halloween weekend to watch my friend Sho in her two fights. Then in November, I drove my son and grandson back to NC after Thanksgiving and enjoyed a couple days' hiatus from real life.

On the family front, we continued to homeschool, beginning our tenth year this fall, which is also our first high school year. I went to my 25th (!!) high school reunion in August and then turned 43 in September. My mom and step dad came to visit in early October, which was so nice. And then Muffin came and joined our family later that month! And also this fall, Angela and I started VoaT, which we hope to continue through the new year.

There have been some rough spots in our extended family this year, with illnesses and personal trials, but I think it is safe to say we all managed through. Sometimes, that is the best you can do, you know? On a bright note, we did get to spend a lot of time with our grandson this year, as he spent several chunks of time up here in PA visiting with all his grandparents. What a blessing that was. He may not remember those times as he gets older, but I will always treasure the time we had to spend with him this year.

I'm sure there are other things I could note about my year, but I'll spare you. Much of this is probably redundant in that I've already blogged a lot of it as it was happening. Writing it out in this summary form, though, helps me realize just how good a year it has full and rewarding it was. I am so thankful for this life of mine. I know it is fragile and could change in a heartbeat. So I take this time now to thank God for all that has been this year -- even the hard moments -- and pray his blessing on the year to come.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Getting ready...

What happens when you want to take advantage of the fact that the whole family is clean and dressed nicely before heading to church on Christmas Eve, but you've failed to budget time into your schedule to actually set up the tripod so that you don't have to resort to trying to balance your camera on its side on a pillow, thus ending up with shots that all look like they were taken by the dog?

This is what you get. And this was the best of the bunch. So sad. It's a shame I don't know someone who is good at taking pictures. Ahem. ;)

As for Muffin, she really couldn't have cared less that it was Christmas. Honestly, unless something smells good or involves food, she's pretty apathetic about it. Or else she's scared of it. Like in this picture:

She's been asleep on the couch, and I thought it would be fun to try and get a picture of her with the reindeer, but I knew full well if she knew it was anywhere near her, she'd take off. So I gingerly placed it there then woke her up and snapped the picture. And soon as she saw the reindeer, she jumped down off the couch. :}

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas snow!

We enjoyed a most wonderful early winter snow storm this weekend. While we got a modest 6" here, compared to what those in other areas received, I'll take it! It's beautiful!

It came down overnight Friday into Saturday and continued until Saturday night before finally coming to an end. What made it more beautiful for me was that I had nowhere to go on Saturday, so I could just enjoy being snowed in and watching it fall. I spent a good part of the day in the dining room where I had a wonderful view of this winter wonderland while I was wrapping gifts. Then I sat and spent time knitting by the light of the Christmas tree. What a perfect day it was!

This was, as far as we know, Muffin's first chance to ever be out in a big snow. Well, big for her, anyway...

It was hard to get a good picture of her because she just wanted to leap and bound around in it! Leaping was essential to her, as those six inches came up to her furry little belly. She was so cute! She kept sticking her muzzle all the way into the deep snow, then she'd snuffle and sneeze after inhaling it. Then she decided it tasted great and spent a lot of time eating it. What's funny is that Kevin actually plowed a path to the side yard where she has her potty spot, but when she walks over there and meets the wall of snow at the end of the path -- which separates her from her favorite potty tree -- she won't go unless she traverses the high snow and gets to the tree! She is not interested in going at the end of the plowed path. Too funny.

I've gotten some knitted gifts finished, but I'll wait until they get to their intended recipients before posting photos. And aside from a few minor items, I am happy to say that I am ready for Christmas! I only had one day last week where I totally went into freak-out mode, but ever since, I've been fine. Baking is done, cards are (mostly) out, gifts are all bought and (mostly) wrapped. Today will be our last day of school before taking two weeks off. And I can't quit thinking about just how blessed I feel right now. Life is good, thank you God! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm St. Louis bound again this April!

Yep! I got my TLE e-mail today informing me that I am the lucky recipient of one of the 125 lottery spots for Spring Fling 2010! Woot! I was on the fence about throwing my name in since I got in last year, and I only decided to do so at the last minute. I know hundreds of people sign up to go into the lottery, so I really did not expect to get in again. But, I did, so...woohoo! :) (Here's the link to my recap of last year's Fling.)

Bummer, though, that my roomie from last year didn't make it this time. Darn. :( I'll miss you, Janice!

Time to figure out a budget to get this puppy paid for by mid-March. And I need to keep my eye open for good airfares, too.

Merry Christmas to me! :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So, Christmas is...

...less than 10 days away. Unlike some years past, when I've been insane in my plans to knit Christmas gifts out the wazoo, my plans this year have been incredibly modest. I started out with plans for four knitted gifts, three of which I would have some leeway in the deadline because I probably wouldn't see the intended receivers until after the 25th. None of these projects are particularly sweaters or afghans or anything crazy like that. Not even any socks, which though they are small are far more time consuming due to their small gauge.

So far I have done well with sticking to the plan -- four knitted gifts. Period. One is done. One is more than half done. One is started. That's pretty good.

But now I'm noticing the crazy beginning to seep in. Like, oh, maybe a hat for my hubby. I haven't knit him a new hat in a couple years, and the last one I made him is looking kinda shabby. I can whip out a hat in a few hours. So...maybe a hat can be added without increasing my stress. Sounds pretty reasonable.

But then...there's the sweater I have started for my daughter. It's more than halfway done. And I found the perfect turtle neck to go under it! That would make a nice Christmas gift, wouldn't it? Yes, it would. This would take more time and effort to get done than the hat, but still, not all together undoable.

But...if I knit something for the husband and something for the girlie, that leaves the boy child out. And though he's a boy, he does appreciate the hand knits, I gotta say. He's been bugging me for a pair of gloves for years now. To this point, I've told him I don't do fingers. But hard can they be?

I won't even dwell on the handful of casual friends I have who I've started thinking I'd like to knit something for, just because. That crosses over from crazy to lock-her-up-now.

To recap: there are less than 10 days until Christmas. Of the four definite knitted gifts I'm planning, only one is complete. I'm considering three more, with the fantasy of possibly another four more if I suddenly learn to exist without sleep and find a way to stretch the day to 30 hours instead of 24. And none of this even touches on the other stuff I have to do -- the mailing, the baking, the wrapping. :::sigh::: I was feeling so virtuous due to having accomplished most of my shopping earlier than usual. Karma doesn't like the virtuous.

The kicker here? I have been finding everything to do in my spare(ish) time except knit. I've even been spinning this past week, for Pete's sake! Who does that when there is gift knitting to be done??

Fa la la la la, is most definitely the season for fiber-induced insanity. And I imagine that more than a few of you might be suffering from the same malady. May we all make it out in once piece!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pattern: Call Before Digging Hat

Green CBD hat made from Queensland Collection Kathmandu DK

One of my goals for 2009 was to do more designing. I often design on the fly as I'm knitting, but it's the actual writing-it-down-for-a-pattern part that I have a hard time getting to! However, I do have a few that I've been working on, and this is the first of them.

Tan CBD hat made from Three Irish Girls Springvale Super Merino

Design ideas come about in strange ways. For instance, here where I live, signs abound near the location of underground utilities warning homeowners to "Call before digging!" lest they inadvertently dig up a gas line, water pipe or utility cable. Introducing the Call Before Digging hat, which features one cable that is buried in a ground of ribbing. Around the hat you go, and then suddenly, there is the cable!

This is a good pattern for newer knitters wanting to push their skills beyond straight knitting and purling. It is written to comfortably stretch and fit a 22" circumference head, but it is easily customized by adding or subtracting K2, P2 ribbing segments.

The pattern uses approximately 150 yards of DK weight or light worsted weight yarn and is knit in the round on 16" US7 circular needles.

Call Before Digging is available for purchase for $3.00 as a Ravelry download through the pattern page on Ravelry or by using the button below. (You do not need to be a Ravelry member to purchase the pattern through my Ravelry shop using this button.)


Friday, December 4, 2009

Winds of change...

I was just telling a friend last night that I've been feeling the winds of change blowing around me lately. Some things are changes I have no control over, others are things I either want or need to change and am still figuring out how best to accomplish those changes.

One thing I've been thinking about lately is my blog. Generally speaking, I enjoy blogging. But lately I haven't been very enthusiastic about doing it, which is why I haven't done it much. I think maybe that is reflective of some of the other changes that may or may not be happening in my world. It may just be that my blog needs an overhaul...move the furniture around a bit. Or maybe I need to reassess my purpose for the blog...regain my focus, or determine a new one.

Must ponder....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Woosh... the sound deadlines make as they go flying by. :}

Yeah. Not doing so well with the deadlines lately. My Socktoberfest socks, which I hoped to have finished by 11/30 to qualify for the prizes in the Socktoberfest group at Ravelry? Never finished. This is beginning to be a trend, as I didn't finish last year's pair on time either.

And NaNoWriMo? Never even made it to 10K words this year. In all honestly though, I hadn't been planning to do it at all and only joined at the last minute on a whim. I had no strong idea for my novel, and while I did manage about 7,000 words of an idea I've had for many years, there were so many directions I could have taken with it that I just sort of became paralyzed and stalled. Oh well. Another year, perhaps.

Thankfully, both of these things were voluntary. No huge ramifications for not meeting them. Frankly, the deadlines I've got right now for things are largely voluntary as well. I've got some Christmas knitting on the needles, which would be really good to finish by, say, Christmas. But if I don't? It's not like I can't find something else to give these people. My other current deadline things are all normal stuff -- paying bills, household stuff, etc. They'll get done.

Right now, I'm in re-entry mode. After driving my son and his son back home to NC on Sunday, and then spending an extra day down there to avoid driving 10+ hours home in the rain yesterday, I made the trek back north today. I listened to about a dozen Will Write for Wine podcasts that were backlogged on my iPod (most of which were very old, seeing as the weekly WWFW podcasts had ended over a year ago and only started up again two months ago, on a monthly basis). They made the trip go by quickly. (Listening to these podcasts has me in a want-to-write mood now, which is ironic considering my dismal NaNo performance last month.)

Anyway, it is good to be home, and the house is still remarkably neat and tidy (see, it paid to do all that pre-holiday cleaning I did last week!), which is always nice to come back to. I'm really tired now, though, so I think it will be an early bed time. Work on any deadlines will have to wait until morning.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The pies are baked. The stuffing is made. The turkey is stuffed. The oldest is home and his son is with him. We're a full house for the next four days.

We're celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, and then we'll do Christmas on Friday since its unlikely we'll see either of them in December. My house is decorated for both holidays right's a little schizophrenic.

I have so much to be thankful for, so much that I tend to take for granted, especially when times are as frenetic as they've been this fall. My hope for the weekend and for the coming month is to slow down and simply enjoy and try to more fully appreciate all that God has blessed me with.

Thank you, God, for my friends and family,
for my husband and children and my grandson,
and even for this dog who is a bit psycho with all the people in the house right now.

Thank you for the food in my kitchen,
and the fact that I have a kitchen that is attached to a house that has a roof that keeps us warm and dry and sheltered.

Thank you for the cars that take us from our house
to the places we need to go,
and thank you that one of those places is my husband's job, which he goes to willingly each day in order to care for us.

Thank you for our health,
and for providing for our needs,
even the ones we don't realize we have.

And thank you for those things we don't need,
Wii and the iPods, and great TV shows and cable with DVR,
and for more clothes than any of us really needs.

Thank you for the ways you enrich my life with simple joys,
with books and words and music,
with yarn and fiber and patterns and spinning,
and with kickboxing and sweat and bruises that let me know I'm doing something good for me.

Thank you for the faith that sustains me,
for your love and provision,
and for the gift of your Son, who is everything.

To all of my friends, wherever you are, I wish you a most blessed Thanksgiving holiday. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What's happening?

Well, first, what isn't happening...NaNo. I bogged out early on at less than 10,000 words. There is little hope at this point for a resurgence. Just isn't turning out to be a NaNo year for me after all. On the flip side, my daughter is NaNo-ing tremendously well! I am so proud of her for how dedicated she's been. She's over the halfway point, and while she's running short on time, she is not running short on enthusiasm. Her every spare moment has been spent hogging the laptop and writing like the wind. She's amazing. :)

We're halfway through our second quarter of the school year. I always consider the first quarter a baseline from which the rest of the year is measured and from which I gauge what changes I need to make. I'm pretty pleased with how well the first quarter went, considering it was our first high school quarter. I continue, however, to feel harried by it all. I just have not yet felt like I've gotten this school year in hand. It's like it has a will of it's own, and I'm working to keep up with it. It's not a bad thing,'s just giving me a good idea of how better I can prepare in the future.

Thanksgiving is four days away, and for the first time in 15 years, we will not be hosting it here. We'll be going to my in-laws' house this year, as it will be easier for Kevin's grandfather, who has been battling health issues all year. I'm still in charge of the turkey though, which is fine.

Our oldest will be coming home for the holiday, and our grandson will be here as well, so the two of them will get to enjoy some good father-son bonding time, which will be nice. Since I'm pretty sure we won't get to see either of them for Christmas, we're going to enjoy an early Christmas celebration with them while they are here, too, which will be fun. It just means I need to be even more organized than usual before they arrive on Wednesday. I'm trying not to hyperventilate.

And that brings me to Christmas shopping. I started today, and I got a pretty good bit of it done...woohoo! Must of the remainder will be gift cards (what a wonderful invention those have been!) and some things I can order online. In other words, I shouldn't need to set foot in the mall more than maybe one more time, and I can assure you it definitely will NOT be on Black Friday. Whatever possible sale savings there might be in shopping on that day, it is not worth the cost to my sanity. (Though I shouldn't say never...Black Friday afternoon isn't really too bad. All the early morning crazy shoppers are home by then and taking a nap.)

And I started listening to Christmas music yesterday. I rarely ever voluntarily listen to it before Thanksgiving, but I think the fact that we aren't hosting Thanksgiving here this year is helping me move forward to Christmas a little earlier. I'm even planning to decorate before Thursday. Crazy! :)

On the knitting front, most of my efforts have been on my entrelac shawl, which is so not a necessary item to be working on at this point, but it's fun and easy and makes a good carry-around project, as I've been avoiding more socks right now...not sure why. I really need to get working on Emma's sweater, which is languishing with the back and part of one front done. And then there is the idea of knitting Christmas gifts...hahahah...or maybe not. :}

Friday, November 13, 2009

Five Minute Friday: Things I'm Pondering

After a really, really, really, really, really long hiatus from FMF posts (the last one was in...April!), I'm feeling list-y today so I thought I'd share some of the things I ponder now and again. Beware. :}

1. I wonder what I would do if I ever happened upon a dead body? It seems to happen with great regularity to people on television and in movies, and people are dying or being murdered every day, right? Thus, it seems perfectly reasonable that some time in my life I might stumble upon one somewhere, and I can't help but wonder how I'll react.

2. Why does the cardinal mock me? One of my photographic goals has been to capture that bright red bird against a background of snowy white in the winter. Or against a background of evergreen any other time of year. I'm not too picky. But every time I see one of these guys (and yes, we're talking males only here because the females aren't the bright red ones), he'll sit in one perfect spot forEVER...until I go to retrieve my camera, and he's gone. Every time. Soooo frustrating!

3. How can I not own size ____ knitting needles??? Seriously, my collection of knitting needles is huge. HUGE. While I don't have that many straight needles because I don't use them often, and I have a limited number of DPNs because I prefer other methods for knitting in the round, I have dozens of circular needles in lengths ranging from 9" to 48" and in sizes from US000 to US15. Among those, I have multiples of the sizes I use most frequently, such as US2 for socks and US6-8 for most of the garments I make. How, then, can I not have the correct size needle in the necessary length for the project I decide to start at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night? It boggles the mind.

4. When is my daughter going to quit growing? Seriously. She's taller than me now. Her feet have passed mine already so we can't even share shoes. We have the hardest time finding skirts for her because they all end up being too short. I guess I can only pray that she maintains this lovely, tall, willowy figure throughout her life. It's the least nature can do for her considering the fact that she's the one of my three kids who ended up with braces, glasses and Crohn's.

5. What is it about the midnight hour that says "play time" to our dog? Muffin sleeps. A lot. Most of the day, in fact. (I'm beginning to suspect that she's really just an odd looking cat. :}) Other than her brief waking breaks to eat, pee and poop and occasionally get into something she shouldn't, she seems quite happy to spend most of her time curled up wherever I am. Sure, if we put her on the leash and take her outside, she's happy to be out there sniffing around, but other than that, she's a snoozer. Until nighttime. After everyone else is in bed and I'm the only one up with her, she suddenly decides it would be the perfect time to run around and play. And when I decide to turn in for the night and try to get her to come with me to her little nest next to my side of the bed, she's started playing the "Let's ransack the waste cans" game that now requires me to stash all waste baskets in the house out of her reach before I lay down. Crazy dog.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Knitting updates...

Finally! Some finished objects to share!

First, my Zombie Socks, in all of their zombie-bruise pooling glory...

What I didn't realize until I was done with the second one is that the pooling, while looking pretty random, actually is fairly symmetrical on the socks (not that you can see that here because they aren't facing the'll just have to trust me on it).

This little side-cable patterning I added on the fly while knitting my first toe-up socks makes me so happy. And that I thought ahead to make the cables go in opposite directions on each foot just makes me giddy. Let's hear it for forward thinking!

Look at that happy toe! Love (1,000)!

And then there is my November charity hat. These hats, as I've probably said before, are usually just me whipping out a hat with my usual, plain-vanilla hat pattern and it's assorted mix & match options. This time, I let the yarn guide me. The MC was a ball of handspun yarn I purchased somewhere a couple years ago (tag is long gone) and never did anything with. It's been languishing in my "odd ball" basket. Also in there was a small ball of leftover Kathmandu from some mitts I made a friend for Christmas last year. The two went together nicely, so I decided to give a corrugated rib a try...

I have no idea if I did it correctly. I just knew the basic concept was the knit is done in one color and the purl is done in a second color. I think maybe there is more to it than that (like how the yarn is overlapped in the stranding on the back?), but since it was an experiment, I just went with it. And I was really happy with how it turned out! It makes for a really sturdy brim, not all that stretchy, but it fits snugly (in a good way) and will definitely keep the wearer's ears warm!

The ball of handspun was not very big, and as I got near the top, I feared I was going to run out of yarn before I ran out of hat. So I came back down to the stash and dug out a ball of Plymouth Tweed that was a very close match in color to the Kathmandu (I'd used all of that in the brim) and mimicked the look of the corrugated rib at the top of the hat.

It ended up looking like an upside down acorn, LOL, but I think it's cute!

As it turned out, I would have had enough to finish the hat in the MC, but I kind of enjoy the look of the two-color mock-rib on the's a design element, dontchaknow? ;)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A whole new month...'s November already. Huh.

I'm sorry...I wish I had something more riveting to post about than the ridiculously obvious pronouncement of the date. However. I don't.

Well, wait. Maybe...



Maybe just a few random notes...

Random Note #1: I may be too old to do road trips across the state and back, within 24 hours, that involve staying awake the whole time and driving through the night. In fact, this could account for my current lack of focus in this blog post.

Random Note #2: The oldest child, our son in the Marines, was just home to visit the past nine days. He hasn't lived here in over five years, so it is always startling to me how much fuller the house feels when he IS here and then again how there suddenly feels like there is a huge, quiet void when he's gone.

Random Note #3: Sunday afternoon naps are one of life's treasures. Seven-hour long Sunday afternoon naps are probably too much of a good thing and likely will not bode well for going to bed tonight. (Why did I take a seven hour nap? See RN #1)

Random Note #4: I wish I could read the minds of my teenagers sometimes. It is likely good that I can't, but still, it might make things easier on occasion if I could.

Random Note #5: Socktoberfest came and went without me finishing either of my pairs of socks I was working on. Zombie sock #2 will likely be finished soon, but this year's Mystery Sock pair came to a grinding halt at the same point as last year's the foot section of the first sock. Gah. Hopefully I'll manage to finish them up by the end of November, though, and not wait until next year, like I did with last year's pair. I really could use a couple pair of new socks!

Random Note #6: I have to have surgery in a couple of weeks. Really, it is more of a procedure than actual surgery to my way of thinking, but the doctor keeps referring to it as surgery. And I have to have pre-op blood work and tests done. So I guess it is surgery. I wasn't all that freaked out about it until they started calling it surgery, but now I would like to just ignore it and hope it goes away. And, while I'm not an overly superstitious person, I have to wonder what I was thinking to have scheduled it for Friday the 13th. :::sigh::: What is irking me more than anything about the whole thing, though, is that I've been informed I'll need to take at least two weeks off from the gym afterward. Not happy about that. At all. :P

Random Note #7: I am tired, in every sense of the word. The past couple weeks have just sapped me, though I'm not entirely sure why. Too many things to do and too many things on my mind. But hey! It is November! A new month! My calendar is blessedly open compared to the past two months, so I'm really hoping for some time of rejuvenation. I could use it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Because I have no new knitting to show you...

...I'm still working on the same two pairs of socks, which don't look much different right now, and I have made no progress on the girlie's vest -- I thought I'd at least post some pictures of yarn. And the dog. Yarn first.

I've been really, really good about not adding to the stash lately, other than yarn I've spun (which I haven't done any spinning real recently either...sigh...). My main exception has been my membership in Three Irish Girls' Pick of the Knitter monthly yarn club. I love Sharon's yarns soooo much. I'm into my third three-month subscription now, and I can't stop. If you're looking for a yarn club to join, check it out. I think there's a waiting list for it at this point, but it's worth it.

Anyway, my most recent PotK yarnie goodness...

Seacoast and Sandcastle in the Adorn yarnbase...these are club-only colorways, though!

To further illuminate how good I've been about adding new yarn to my life, I should point out that I have not placed an order with The Loopy Ewe since APRIL. Seriously! Can you believe it? I know! Well, ok...I hadn't placed an order since April until last week, when I broke down and bought this...

Tempted Yarns, Festival of Lights colorway. As soon as I saw it, I envisioned a snowflake motif shawl or wrap...if only I could find the perfect pattern for such a thing!

and this...

Fiberphile, Batwings that name! LOL I'm going to use this for the sock pattern I've been designing. Really wanted a nice brown for it. I think this will do well.

and a cool hat pattern from Born to Knit (I rarely ever buy hat patterns, but this one was too cool to pass up as it features a dragon!) But hey...I had a $25 gift credit sitting there...since April! So it was almost like not buying anything really. :} (Yes, Rationalizations R Us. Problem?)

The other thing that kept me from adding to the stash in recent months was just avoiding the LYS. Yeah. Funny that. If you don't go to a yarn store, you don't tend to buy yarn. But, a couple weeks ago, I had to go there because I needed a couple pair of needles (I know, unbelievable that I was lacking needles, trust me, but I don't have huge numbers of 16" circs, and I needed two sizes that I didn't have...not that I've actually started the project I needed them for yet, but that's beside the point). Of course, I had to take a spin around the shop and check out the yarn while I was there. I was so good, though. I picked up nothing. Until. I came to the sale bin, and there was an entire cubby full of this:

Now, if you're like me, you'll probably think, "That colorway is kind of...ugly." LOL Seriously, neon purple and brown and a pukey is such an odd combo of colors and it in no way screams "yum" to me like so many Malabrigo colorways do. But, see, THAT was the challenge. I thought a yarn that looks this ugly surely will knit up to be a surprise and delight! I must try and see what I get! So I bought two hanks of it, and, well...we'll see. (As I was checking out, the person ringing me up asked what my plans were for this yarn...and I told her my theory...and then it dawned on me that maybe it is not considered polite to tell LYS salespeople that their yarn is ugly, even if there is a whole bin of it in the discount area, which pretty much says to me that I'm probably not the only person who thought it was ugly. But, you know... :})

Ok. Now, doggie photos!

Hi! I'm cute!

Why is she sitting me in this pile of crunchy stuff?

I'm not so sure about this...

But maybe I can eat it. Blech. Or not.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm so, so, so...

...glad this wish did not come true!

Temps in the 30s and 40s with lots of rain? Perfect fiber festival weather -- NOT! Yikes.

God bless y'all who are wandering around up there this weekend! :}

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Meet Muffin...

...the newest member of our family...

...she's a 3 year old Miniature Schnauzer...

...and she spent all but the last two weeks of those three years as a breeding dog in a puppy mill. :(

I'll be honest...I've never thought of myself as a dog person. I've always liked dogs more in theory than in practice. However, over the past year, the idea of getting a dog has been one I've batted around more and more. The kids had brought it up a lot, and I kept putting them off. But then we'd go over to the nearby park and see all of the people and their dogs and I realized...I wanted to be a dog person.

So I started scoping out the listings now and then in the past few months. If we were going to get a dog, it needed to be a small dog that would remain small. I preferred for it to be female and not a puppy. Short hair was also a preference due to Chris's allergies. I thought maybe a Yorkie or a Maltese would be nice, but I never found one that really struck me as right for us. And then last week I did a search for mini grandmother had one of these dogs when I was a kid, and I loved that dog! She was great. And so I searched and suddenly -- there was Muffin. I don't know why, but I knew she was the right one.

We're basically doing a crash course, learn-as-we-go, of how to deal with a puppy mill survivor. It's clear that patience is going to be key as she learns to trust us and learns what it is to be loved and to be part of a family. Surprisingly, she loves to be held, loves to cuddle. She's slept each night in my daughter's bed. After spending her first full day here mostly sleeping, she finally has begun exploring her new world today, and she finally started to eat as well. Pottying...well...that's going to take time, but we'll deal.

Last evening, I was the only one in the room with her and she was looking around for the kids. I called to her, as we're trying to get her used to her name, and for the first time, she came over to me on her own. It might seem like a simple thing, but I think for her, it is a big, big was a sign to me that Muffin is going to be ok.

And so now I find myself wiping doggie paws after we've been outside, and calling my daughter from the pet store to have her measure Muffin so I could buy a little jacket to help keep her warm when we go out to do the potty thing. And I find my heart just oozing and melting when this little face comes over to me and wants to be picked up.

My God, I think I am turning into a dog person after all. :}

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I wish, I wish, I wish...

...I was going to Rhinebeck this weekend.

But I'm not.

Sad. :(


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Looking ahead...

While I am still deep in the throes of Socktoberfest, I am looking ahead to November and have decided, after a two year hiatus, I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year.

30 days.
50,000 words.
I've done it twice before.
2004 & 2006.
Can I do it again?

We shall see!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fast week...

I'll tell you what...time needs to slow down just a tad! September flew by, and now October is following suit! What's the hurry??

Last week was a blur of good things. My mom and step-dad were in town for a week, and while I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with my mom as I'd have liked, it was nice to get to visit with them here for a change (instead of us going to Florida).

Sadly, I took very few photos from my mom's visit. This is one of them. Mom, Ralph and Emma.

Last weekend was also the local Apple & Arts Festival, which Kevin and the kids always take part in (I go up for a few hours and walk around...they do the work!).

The shingle mill, where Kevin (on the right) spends most of his time at the festival.

Amid the visiting and the fall festivities, I tried to maintain a semblance of normalcy with regard to our school work, the gym and our fencing/climbing days, though everything got modified to accommodate the extra activities. One thing that was a constant throughout, though, was the knitting. I am working away on my socks, both the Zombies and the Mystery Socks for the Soctoberfest KAL. Also making some progress on the girlie's sweater, but mostly it's the socks that have my attention right now.

Lest I bore you with any more chatter, how about some pictures? (And warning -- there will be another picture of the mystery sock in this bunch, so don't look at the last photo if you don't want to see it!)

Apple & Arts Festival purchase #1: apples. Half of this bag has already been cooked and used in a pie. Yum.

Apple & Arts Festival purchase #2: freshly ground grains; in the jars there is whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour and cornmeal. I love using this stuff! So fresh and good! It all needs to be kept refrigerated or frozen since there are no preservatives in any of it, thus I put some in the jars and some in vacuum packages to use over time.

Apple & Arts Festival purchase #3: I usually don't purchase much in the line of the "arts" that are offered at these festivals anymore, both because I don't really need any more crap in my life and also because most of it is pretty country-themed, and I am not much of a country-themed person at this point in my life. Pottery, however, always calls to me. I found these buttons at the only pottery vendor at the festival...they're kind of quirky. Bigger than buttons I'd usually buy, but I thought they'd be neat to use one at a time for buttoned neck warmers or something. More than that and they'd get pretty heavy.

The Zombie lives and is coming along quite nicely! It's actually a couple more inches up the leg at this point. And look! I turned my first toe-up heel...

A gusset heel, it was very easy to do. I ended up with a little gap at the top of each heel where I rejoined the stitches in the round to the instep, but I think I know how to avoid that on the second sock. I'll just stitch these up to close them when I'm done.

And finally...the mystery sock. Clue #2 finished on the first one...

What a crazy-pretty sock this is turning out to be! It looks even lovelier from the side view, but both of those that I look on the sock blocker turned out blurry. Will try again later.

Oh, and though I have no pictures of the evening (or at least none that turned out well on my cell phone), my friend Angela and I spent a very loud night last Saturday at the Social Distortion concert, which was awesome. Totally love their music. (I will say, though, either I'm getting old, the acoustics of the Ches-a-rena leave something to be desired, or the people working the sound for the two opening bands were on crack because it was painfully loud at points, like I thought my ear drums might explode -- and that's saying something, live music lover that I am, the louder the better. But not so much in this case.)

Lastly...our VoaT photoblog is focusing on the theme "Small" this week. Tomorrow is the last day for it, as a new theme will start on Sunday. Stop by and visit! :)