Monday, July 30, 2007

Next Up: Freeform Jacket Sleeves

You may remember that I attended a Freeform workshop at The Studio's Knitting Retreat last January. Store owner Alie Scholes showed us many cute Freeform projects she had done. One of my favorites was one of the most simple, a plain denim vest where she did Freeform sleeves and collar. That way it was totally wearable and very unique without being too gawdy for my taste.

I found the plain jacket (at the top of the screen) in my size at a local thrift store, and I'm going to bring it along to Stitches Midwest next week and try to turn it into a Freeform masterpiece - now I'm undergoing the delicious task of picking my colors and my yarn to bring along. Total fun!

The second one is the jacket done by Alie Scholes of The Studio, who did a workshop last January on Freeform.

Now my question to any who care to answer, what is the easiest/best way to do this. Should I make a cloth template of sleeves and then put the scrumbles on the templated sleeves. Or is there some other, better way to do this? Lorena in my knitting group once suggested (several months ago) a very innovative way to do it, but I'll have to remember to ask her again, because I don't remember what she suggested.

I am going to take 2 days of workshops with Valentina Devine, the Freeform Knitter who first inspired Alie Scholes to get into this type of creative endeavor. Clara, of Knitter's Review, aptly calls Freeform Knitting "off road knitting/crocheting" and I think nothing describes it better than that. I just wish I crocheted better so I had more options, but even though I've only completed one Freeform project so far, I had a total blast doing it.

Valentine Devine knits projects like this:

and this:

The thing I like best about this Creative Knitting is that while I love to knit, I seem to have a problem, as demonstrated recently by the Lacy Tee, that I have a problem knitting to gauge or knitting in a way that fits my body. Luckily the Lacy Tee ended up fitting my Mother, so I'm happy it will end up being worn by her. But the great thing about Freeform is you don't always have to knit to form - plus, you can knit or crochet scrumbles and add it onto an already structured garment or purse - so you KNOW it will fit. Thank goodness.

I can't wait to meet and learn from Valentina ("No Rules") Devine.

Off to sort yarn . . . and to pack (not in that order don't you know?)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Weight Watching Process

In spite of my valliant efforts to do dieting on my own, I need to have a support system in this weight loss venture. Yesterday I went back to Weight Watchers and attended the meeting of a very good leader who happens to be gorgeous - she looks like Nicole Kidman, and she's funny. She's lost a lot of weight, and has kept it off for a couple of years. The audience too, is very participatory and everyone is losing weight and boosting each other on. It's really fun and motivating!!

I've succeeded on WW before, but it's been quite some time ago. I tried to remember back, yesterday, to what I have done differently when I SUCCEED at long-term healthy eating. These are the things that seem to help me do it:

Journaling - writing down everything I eat and drink and keeping track of the points. What is important is that I plan my day's meals the night before, or a few days before, so that I'm not eating things first and then learning only later that it had a gazillion points and then I'm already over my daily points allotment. Bummer. So planning ahead and writing it down is a big help in not going over the points limit. This is especially important since I only get 20 points a day.

Eating at Home - When I look at the points it costs to eat out at most restaurants, I realize that my increasing habit of eating out at restaurants constantly needs to change. I could easily wipe out a whole day's worth of points on just one restaurant meal! The challenge this week is the fact that I will soon be going to Stitches in Chicago and eating out constantly. Hmmm.

Preparing Fun Recipes - I need to prepare things I can eat ahead of time and have, EASY prepared meals that I can grab quickly for those times (like after work) when I'm starving and want to eat quick. Yesterday, I made a new recipe that the leader eats for breakfast most days - it's an oats pancake mix that makes enough for 4 small pancakes. Instead of eating with syrup, I just ate them with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spritzed on top. So good and fun to make. I also made up a large batch of the old-standby WW recipe for Vegetable Soup. I divided them into containers to have some in the fridge and some left to freeze.

Exercise - this time, I am continuing my use of the treadmill and hope to soon add some other exercises, maybe yoga or something else to the mix as well.

Water - to drink at least 64 oz of water a day, it helps to gulp down the first 32 oz. early in the morning.

Make it Fun! My Mom commented a few weeks ago that one reason Aunt Eve is able to keep her weight off for so long (she uses the low carb method) - but she turns her low carb lifestyle into a hobby. She loves trying new recipes, she gets excited about it - and that's what I intend to do now with Weight Watchers.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Find the calm.

My goal this week was to meditate every day . . . I needed to. Because I didn't, because I decided instead to live life one frantic day into another, things were pretty hectic, upset, feeling wound up. But it wasn't due to outside things like usual, it was all within ME. I was choosing to stress myself out over a variety of things, the sweater gone awry, the job change that I still feel worried about financially. Other personal things going on. But mainly just MEEE. I don't feel content within my own skin.

Uppermost is the lingering resentment about my job change - even though the new department I'm in is totally low-stress and much more low-key, I realized late this week that I am still feeling bitter about the other department, still feeling upset about it and hadn't totally let go. I have thought, "But if only . . . " the potential of success I might have had in the other department. And frankly, money is a BIG part of it.

My personality is naturally high-strung - and this dept is the opposite. Can I really fit into a "peace love and groove" kind of place? I think I landed there for a reason.

I've been listening to one of my favorite gurus, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and in particular, his CDs called, "There is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem." He encourages you, if you can't meditate for 20 minutes at a time, try finding every peaceful moment you can throughout the day and just going within for a moment or two. I did that several times yesterday, once before driving home while I was sitting in my car! Not exactly an ashram or anything, but amazingly, I learned when I worked at the funeral home that most people express a LOT of emotion in the car. Some people sing and relieve stress through music - some people cry. I've done that many times before. But what I did yesterday was go within for just a few minutes, and suddenly I heard an inner voice telling me, "This too is for a purpose. Your lesson here is to just settle in and relax. This job lesson is about letting go and accepting what is - not running away, not stewing, just letting go."

So I'm going to try to just go with it and see if this is where I should be for a while. I'm also going to just do some foregiveness meditation this week - mainly forgiving myself for what I still preceive as failure and letting myself just breathe!

Phyllis gave me a wonderful little book that I can't wait to dive into. It is called, "This Year I Will" by M.J. Ryan. I just started it last night. It's a book that helps you actually achieve your yearly goals. Too often, I want to achieve something . . . mainly weight loss . . . and then I give up within days or weeks and go back to my unhealthy ways. M.J. Ryan, the author, coaches the reader through making changes that can actually stick long-term. She goes into the reasons why we let go of the changes we want to make and gives you strategies to succeed.

This morning I did my treadmill. Yeah!!!

I'm going to a Weight Watchers meeting this morning. I need to get refocused on healthy eating. I keep waffling between different weight loss plans. I need to just go to WW today and focus on healthy eating and exercise.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pure D Aggravation

I was so proud of myself. I'd finished all the pieces to the lace sweater, had woven in all the ends, and was patiently sewing it together tonight. Picked up stitches around the neckband ready to finish up the finishing when all of a sudden . . . as I started to pick up the stitches at the top of the right sleeve I realized, "Oh no, I sewed the sleeve in wrongside out. Shit!"

"Damn. Damn. Damn."

Rip, rip, rip.

Then realized, even worse, that in unsewing it, I had damaged the sleeve too much to salvage it. It's a mess. Now I need to re-knit the right sleeve before I can get back to finishing. This sweater has been a pain all around. Everything is harder/more complicated than it has to be. I believe it's symbolic of my whole life right now.

Starting over on that sleeve. Again. I could cry. Maybe I'll cry later. I need to cry about a lot of petty things. Is this hormonal or what? I'm putting the damn sweater away for tonight. Not doing another thing on it when I'm this flustered.

Addendun: Note the next morning: The Sweater Saga gets even worse. After writing this entry, I marched upstairs and thought, "You know what, the sleeve isn't really that messed up, it's just the perfectionist in me wanting it to be perfect, so I decided to go ahead and finish up the neck and see how the sleeve looked once it actually was sewn in. Well, the sleeve was okay, not great, but not terribly noticeable to a person riding by on a horse etc., etc. So I had everything finished but the two side seams, so I decided to "try it on" to see how it would fit.

Oh Lordy, it's not exactly too big - my gauge was on target and the measurements were right, but the thing comes down like an oversized tunic and the main problem is, it comes down really low in both the back and front. It's scooped L-O-W. It looks like a big, baggy, holey monstronsity on my body. Granted, I haven't sewn the two side seams yet. Maybe that will make a big difference. But I don't think this sweater is a success. After spending two months and a lot of yarn, it may sit at the bottom of a drawer somewhere languishing for the next few years. Arrggggh!!!!

And it looked so cute on the model.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Look What's Blocking

I finally finished knitting both the front and back of this "Lacy Raglan Tee" that I've been working on for two months. They are both blocking now. I'm knitting up the sleeves and once I finish those and the sweater is dry, the sewing will begin.

Soon I'll have a finished sweater. Yeah!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Music is Good For the Soul

I've been going through a transition lately - at work. I don't want to go into too many details here, but suffice it to say that I was in a sales job where my sales weren't quite high enough - I was close SO CLOSE to making it in that department, where they had high sales quotas. I struggled so hard for a year to try to make it in my other job, and now I've lost that opportunity. Now instead I've been transferred to another department that is kind of a "step down" in many ways. It was my first day there in that department today. While the stress is much less, and the people extremely nice and friendly, I still feel bad.

So I'm disappointed in myself and feel kind of like a failure. I know in the broader perspective of world peace and all that, this small disappointment in myself is minor - but it feels big right now.

Speaking of "In the Garden" - I was talking about gardens the other day, and look what came my way.

To cheer me up - something came in the mail just in my time of need. Lynn H. of ColorJoy is not only an accomplished knitter and artist, but she's also an extremely talented musician!! I finally bought one of her CDs, she and her husband Brian sing 1920's songs and are accompanied by him Ukelele and her on Bass. I love 1920's music, have always been entranced by the Flapper era, and I swear I think Lynn and her hubby are reincarnated from that time. It's eerie. I LOVED their music. Now I want to get their other CD as well.

I loved SEVERAL of the songs, but my favorites were "Tip Toe Through the Tulips" (I'm old enough to remember Tiny Tim singing that one); also "If You Want the Rainbow, You Must Have Rain." It's ironic that in her last comment to me, in the last entry, Lynn suggested that I play music and sing along. That very day she commented, I had her CD playing in my car and found myself singing along to her songs - my voice is not nearly as lovely as hers, but no one can hear or complain about my off-key warbling when I'm on the highway with the windows rolled up/air conditioning on.

The world needs more Lynn H's, I'll tell you that! I've read her blog for years, loved her knitting, her designing and her fine attitude. But now I enjoy tipping through the tulips with her as well (not literally but musically).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Lovely Garden Gift

We spent the weekend in St. Louis. It was fun, as always. When we first drove up, Aunt Eve enthusiastically showed us the Mother's Day gift her kids, Gary and Robin, had given her this year. Instead of the usual candy or perfume etc., they decided that Aunt Eve needed a lovely garden to surround her when she drinks her coffee in the morning. In the area surrounding their patio, they used to have a boundary of large, unruly overgrown bushes.

They ripped the old bushes out, and it was a long process, because the bushes had deep roots. They had to get a stump pulverizer or something like that from the rental store and then haul away all those old bushes.

When all the brush was cleared and new topsoil brought in, they planned and planted a lovely garden, with plants that will bloom every year. Nice!! She loves her garden. I thought it was so sweet that they thought long and hard about what she would really want and put their attention into giving her something this thoughtful and special.

I need to start putting more thought into the gifts that I give this year. How can I make them memorable and special? And what can I give to myself and my family, simple changes I could make that would make a world of difference in the enjoyment of our home environment? Interesting to consider.

10 Weeks of Changes and New Beginnings Report. (My week runs from Sunday to Sunday):

I looked over my list that I made last week and I think it may need some tweaking.

Choose one Habit: Yes, it's the treadmill and that's a good one and a necessary one for me. I wanted to do the treadmill every single day for 20 minutes. I accomplished 5 days - but then we went to St. Louis over the weekend and didn't do any exercise there. But I think getting on the treadmill and aiming for a daily form of exercise if something I need to really strive for in order to get in any at all - because this exercise habit is one of my most challenging healthy habits to develop.

Choose one luxury: I chose taking bubble baths twice a week. But I think I need a different luxury choice each week because part of what is a luxury to me is variety!! For this week, I am going to mediate every morning for a few minutes and visualize positive results. I need to do more positive self-talk and I think meditation and visualization will help uplift my attitude.

Decluttering: I finished the decluttering last week of my yarn stash. I'm so proud of myself. I gave, sold or otherwise ridded myself of the yarn in my stash that I didn't truly love. I also made a list of knitting projects I want to knit, most of which I LOVE and had forgotten about. So I feel really good about the destashing.

For next week: decluttering will be my bathroom. I want to clean out under the sink and in the drawers and get rid of all the old products that I haven't used since the last Ice Age.

A project I'd like to work on: Finish knitting my brown lacey tee.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Unexpected Invitations

Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Unexpected travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." I've never forgotten that line from one of his novels. So in the spirit of dancing lessons . . . when our friend Jan decided to unexpectedly invite us to last night's show of "Sweet Charity" at the outdoor theater, Starlight, we gladly and quickly accepted. I'm so glad we did! Paige Davis, former, TRADING SPACES star, played the role of Sweet Charity extremely well. You can click on the link and see parts of the songs/dance/music. The show was fantastic, the weather unseasonably cool and a light breeze was refreshing and made the whole night a magical treat. Though we didn't get home until midnight, and I had to get up at 6:00 a.m. for work, it was well worth the loss of sleep. It was the most fun I've had in a long time - work has been simply horrible. A night out in the cool breeze being magically entertained was just the thing we all needed. I love live theater.

The next time you get a suggestion or an invitation from someone, instead of shrugging it off and saying, "Nah, I'd better not . . . " say "Yes, I'll do it." Adventure and unexpected turns are what make life worth living. I wish I had more of those unexpected happy events. Maybe I need to create more of them for myself, or invite others along for equally fun and unexpected adventures. A thought. Yes.

This is the hibicous (sp?) plant that was a transplant from Grammy's house. She LOVES these big colorful flowers. Here you go, Grammy, enjoy! These bush is loaded with little buds.

As you can tell, I'm deliberately seeking out the good. So . . . Another fun thing I did last weekend, on Sunday in fact, was to venture out into the hot sun to attend The Studio's Stashbuster trade and buy/sell stash sale out in their parking lot. It was hot - really hot that day! So the part of me that hates hot, humid weather wanted to beg off, but again, I made myself GOOOOOO.

First, I inventoried my stash on Friday night and Saturday. Made a list of all the yarn I have, separated out all the yarn I don't need (a lot) and bagged it up. Then I also frogged several projects where I like the yarn, but have lost passion for the long forgotten and abandoned project. Now I have yarn I really love, and a list of projects I'm really excited about completing, most of which I already own - yeah!!! This was done by prompting from Elysbeth on her 10 week "New Year's" project. I've joined her on that - and one of my goals was getting my stash in line. Surprisingly, it wasn't as bad as I thought. I'd done most of the major culling last Fall when I moved in here.

Mom and I had a great time at the Stashathon. Yes, it was hot. But the Studio gave out cold water bottles, and we kept ducking inside periodically to get cooled off. I met several fun people there, including one lady who is riding the bus with us to Stithces. Plus, Stacey was sitting out there, knitting in the parking lot, and the object she was knitting, called, "Wrap me up" made me covet that wrap. Before I knew it, I went inside, purchased the pattern - it was made of Noro yarn - which happens to be what several knitters who were destashing were selling. One destasher, in particular, was selling 7 balls of a discontinued colorway of Noro for 7 skeins for $14. So I decided to buy it - then add a few more balls of a companionable colorway, and I also added 2 skeins of Lamb's Pride worsted in lime green to go with the rest. Here it is - one of my future next projects:

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New Beginnings

Over on her blog Elysbeth is talking about preparing for the Jewish New Years (September) by starting to clean up and clean out - as well as beginning to form new POSITIVE habits for the New Year. She points out that even for non-Jewish people, starting a prep for New Years makes more sense in the summer months than in the winter. It's easier, and in summer, I'm just more in the mood to pare down and simplify in every way. It's hot, I don't want a bunch of extra "stuff" weighing me down.

So she challenged those who care to participate to pare down with accountability by joining her. I'm doing that. Here is what she asks:

Choose One Habit that you'll do for 21 days, a positive. Mine: Get on my treadmeal every single day for at least 21 days.

Choose One Luxury. Mine: a long, luxurious bubble bath at least twice a week. Getting to bed earlier - not staying up past 10:00 p.m. and working on one really satisfying knitting project at a time.

Pick a Project: Finish the milk chocolate lacy tee to take with me to Stitches.

Something to declutter: Stash reorganization: Reigning in the stash before I go to Stitches - making a list of every yarn project I own and figuring out which ones I'm ready to once again frog, recycle the yarn and perhaps give/sell to others who might enjoy things I no longer am passionate about.

It's also a time of year I'm more motivated to try to lose weight, as well. Meals can be simple if I let them be, such as - sliced tomatoes, scrambled eggs for breakfast; lunch: salad with very little dressing; dinner: lean fish or chicken, veggies and a small salad.

As Elysbeth says, the nice thing about this plan is to provide accountability without shame - I've set my sites on what I hope to do, but I'm doing what's doable and not beating myself up if I don't accomplish everything.

That's sounds easy . . . like Sunday morning, as the song says. Summer really SHOULD be simple - and I'm determined to keep it that way.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Color, Color, Give Me Color

Here I am, wearing my favorite project EVER - the one I finished in mid-May and am talking about on here ad naseum. The reason I drag it out again is because I have been following, with great interest, an ongoing thread over on Knitter's Review (my favorite forum), about the topic of Handpainted Yarns.

One thoughtful and amusing commenter mentioned that she wasn't all that wild about handpainted yarns, that there are many color combinations she sees, especially by well-intentioned but less than skillful hand-dyers who looked more like "clown barf." I was interested in her point of view and started thinking about it. What followed her thought-provoking comment were six solid pages of folks, nearly all unanimous, jumping on her bandwagon and agreeing that didn't like the color combinations put out by many of the hand-dyers. Many of them mentioned that they liked only the solid or semi-solid colors, especially when used with pattern stitches, such as lace.

After reading these comments for days, and with the opinions become more and more stern about the inadvisiblity of using multi-colors in anything but socks, I couldn't take it any longer and just HAD to speak up as a voice in the extreme minority.

You can read the whole discussion by going to Knittersreview. I'll briefly restate my opinion:

I committed the cardinal sin of the unsophisicated knitter by making my shawl in handpainted multi-color sock yarn. I'll probably be making even more in the future. Not a mistake in my eyes - though they are perhaps untrained since I don't have a Ph.D. in color science nor an art degree.

Confession: I like color - I LOVE color - and most often NOT in solids/semi-solids. It seems that those with better "color sense" prefer color to be used in a conversative way - not me. That's why I've made this:

and this:

I guess I'm out of the mainstream. Wouldn't be the first time (nor hopefully the last!)

Personally, this is all FUN to me. I don't knit for a living. Luckily for me, I'm not a professional or I might not enjoy it so much. I knit for fun. I make colorful things for fun - to spice up life, which sometimes is way too serious and depressing. This is one area of my life where I can cut loose and not be critical of myself or others.

I realize that some people might not like my use of color - and that most folks are more conservative in their choice of color - especially when combining more than one color in a garment, and that's okay. But I had to speak up for the more "colorful" among us - yes, I like colorful garments and the people who make and wear them.