Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Intentions

One of the creative dynamos I admire is Nikol, sometimes known as "Thrifty Knitter" and founder of Yarn School. Who else but she could buy some old forgotten school buildings in the middle of rural Kansas and turn it into a creative mecca for artists of all kinds, including fiber artists and musicians? That would be her!

Anyhow, each year, Nikol creates what she calls an Uber List for the year - and as best I can determine, this is a list of things she wants to accomplish throughout the upcoming year. The list isn't exactly a set of New Year's Resolutions, but seems to fall somewhere on the borderline of yearly goal setting and practical annual "to do" list - a super-duper list or as she says "Uber List." Adapting this format for myself, I want to set intentions to get OUT of the passive mindset and spring into action to create a more interesting and fulfilling life.

So here are my beginning plans, and I'll be adding items throughout the year as I get an in-depth vision of where things are going and where they NEED to go. A lot of things are very fluid right now and need to stay that way - but they need to be moving in the right direction.

De-junking and decluttering: For every new clothing item I bring into the house, give away at least one item, to a thrift store, charity shop or whatever. Same thing with yarn and books. Instead of buying magazines, read them online or download the patterns. (Exception: This does not apply to Spin-Off - which I always treasure, save and pour over again and again). Organize yarn room and fiber storage closets. Destash what I no longer love.

Artist's Way is the Way - write Morning Pages to start journaling again on paper. More importantly, once a week, go on an "Artist's Date" where I explore new activities that are fun, creative and unique - that spark my soul. Find weekly soul-enriching activities that can help me emotionally, creatively and spiritually recharge.

Become a Mentor for my daughter and move out of the Parent with a capital "P" mode.

Spend more time with people and less time online. Since getting my very own "smart phone" recently, I can see why the masses have become attached to these things - and why I sometimes see people texting other online people in the ethers, while ignoring the In Real Life people sitting right in front of them. Thank goodness I am not on Facebook, what a time sink that is, right? Ah hem, but honestly, my personal addiction is Ravelry and it's getting out of hand. Though it's a great online tool and database, it has become an emotional pacifier. Nuff said.

Follow Weight Watchers new program, or whatever method works for me to get about 1,200 calories a day until I reach a healthy weight. Don't just rely on frozen meals as I did before on Jenny Craig, but really learn to cook healthy and frugally. Eat at home and at the dinner table, with family time - to talk, share and nurture one another instead of eating constantly at restaurants or in different rooms in front of the TV.

Consistently exercise each and every day. This is for both physical and mental health. If joining a gym doesn't work out, then find a weight bearing and stretching routine that I can do at home, and develop a routine that I can do consistently. I did really well exercising last year on the treadmill - keep this up but expand to some weight-bearing and stretching exercise as well.

Take a vacation - a real "couples" vacation with my sweetheart. A significant vacation and really UNWIND and reconnect with him. This one is already in the works, and I hope we get to take several mini getaways throughout the year.

Wear my pedometer every day. Aim to walk 10,000 steps per day. I seem to be much more active and fit when I do this.

Watch my language - speak less and act more. Avoid gossip, backstabbing and careless use of speech. Hurtful putdowns, sarcasm and bad tone of voice should be recognized for the poison that it is. Kind speech and thoughts lead to kind and gentle actions. Strive to be "soft centered."

Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


As I told many of you a few weeks ago, I was not planning on using a "guiding word" this year as I have in years past. But yesterday, when I was doing my yearly contemplation and meditation, I was given a word, "Turnaround."

I am not sure exactly how I am going to use this word - but I know it's what I - and my whole family - needs to do. I am feeling like a victim with many personal things that have hit me hard this year and hurt. Hurting has taken a toll physically, financially and emotionally. Knowing I'm not alone and that MANY people I know are hurting, and hurting much worse than myself, doesn't make it easier. But I can only control the way I react to the events that have occurred and fight like the dickens to turn things around for myself, while lending support to those who need it.

So in 2011, it is my intention to turn my attitude around - to kick my own *ss and stop whining. Do an about face - buck up in my attitude, and do whatever needs done to make things better.

I am NOT a helpless little reactionary victim. I am a strong, smart woman who, with God's help, can solve problems, make things better, turn my failings around and be a better person. I can do whatever I need to do, and I will do it.

Now please, universe, don't see this as an invitation to hurl more *rap my way - because I will duck too when that is the smartest thing to do.

Have a good year everyone - now I'm going to go solve some problems and make a new plan. And while I'm thinking, I'm going to be cleaning out and organizing a few of these out of control messy rooms around my house - such as my craft room.

EVERYTHING is going to get an overhaul around here, especially me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Ultimate Gift

At this time of giving, as many of us scramble to find just the right gift for our dear ones, while trying to stay in a budget, it occurs to me that the most precious gifts are ones that we can't give.

I subscribe to Daily Word - a Unity publication, and I get it online each day in my mailbox. Yesterday's message really hit home with me. At this time of year where many of us feel so frazzled and overwhelmed, I find solace and insight in these Daily Word reminders. It's amazing just how much the "word" of the day hits home. It's uncanny at times!

Yesterday's word was Grace. The message from this day is so 'on point' that I'm going to carry this little print out in my purse as a reminder that no matter what happens, I can choose to respond rashy, out of my frazzled human mindset, or I can pause a moment, listen in my spirit to find that place within myself that experiences Grace. Here is an excerpt of the affirmation they provided for the day:

"As I respond to a difficult situation with compassion and understanding, I am expressing God's grace. I am allowing the holiness within me to surface and to flow effortlessly from me. As I embrace adversity, remain strong under pressure or look for the good in a difficult situation, I am acknowledging that all is not at is appears. By experiencing all things with love, I draw forth the grace of Spirit. The gift of grace is powerful and strong. Grace is part of my being, and I am at peace."

Though I'm not in control of what gifts I'm given, I CAN control what I give to myself - the important gifts don't cost a thing, but are most precious. So what if I did that - gave myself that gift of Grace? It's a choice. Today, I have the where-with-all to unwrap that gift.

What inner gift do you most need to give yourself right now?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Fun with Corespinning - Art Yarn

Ever since reading Diane Varney's "Spinning Designer Yarns" book that was recommended by my first spinning instructor, I've been wanting to learn more about how to spin "Art Yarn" or sometimes called "Designer Yarns." I missed a chance to take a class Camp Pfluffypluck with Lexie Borger because at the time, I was a rank beginning spinner and wasn't ready yet.

So then last fall or winter, I bought Jacey Boggs DVD of Sit and Knit. I've been watching it periodically as well as reading everything I can find on how to spin art yarns. Over the past few months, I've been playing with the techniques such as making corespun, cocoons, coils. To be honest, I'm not even sure which is what all the time!

But I've been messing with these techniques and seeing what I can come up with. The first shot here shows the singles I spun from some multi-colored Targhee roving that I bought a few weeks ago at Yarn Barn. I corespun it on some laceweight yarn.

The second shot shows how the fiber looks when combined with the novelty commerical thin yarn I plyed it with.

Finally you see it finished and skeined up. It's a bit loosely plied but I think it will be okay. If it knits up well enough, I'm going to knit a vest. I may need to make a few more skeins of the stuff, but first I need to be sure I like the way it looks knit up in a swatch or "sample."
In January, I am going to take an art yarn class with Jacey Boggs. I'm really excited - not only because I get to learn the techniques, but since the workshop is being held at Harveyville, where Yarn School is held twice a year, I'm sure it will be a blast! I've taken classes from Nikol but never been to Harveyville yet.
What I discovered is I'm starting to understand WHY people make art yarn. Even if they don't want to use it in their knitting because maybe it's too wild, garish and "over the top", nevertheless making the yarn itself is so fun and creative, it makes you feel good just making it. Even if it never turns into a wearable garment. But I'm hoping this yarn will. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Ahhh . . . . Can I Just STAY There and Never Leave?

Usually when I go on business trips, I don't mind them, and realize they are a built-in part of my job, but not necessarily fun. As a rule one hotel quickly starts to look like another. This week's trip to Colorado Springs was an exception. While there, I stayed to The Broadmoor. It felt more like a working vacation than anything I've ever experienced. From the moment I stepped off the shuttle, it felt as if I'd stepped into a resort from the early 20th century.
In fact, if you've ever seen the romantic movie, Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, the Broadmoor has that kind of old World elegant ambiance and charm. Nestled into the mountain as it is, with both a lake and mountain view, combined with the fact that their Christmas trees and lights were ablaze for the winter season. Ah, simply breathtaking!

Oh my goodness, this was hands-down the most beautiful hotel with the most exceptional service that I've ever experienced, bar none. My stay there was remarkable. Whew. The staff working there clearly love their jobs, regardless of what role they play. No one is "just" a door man, a desk clerk, a housekeeper - they are representatives of a hotel they serve with pride. Imagine if I took that same sense of pride and pleasure in a job well-done that this staff displays? Good idea - I'm going to add that to personal goals I'm working on right now. How can I work even more intently, but with pleasure and a focus on total quality and a sense of the importance of what I do each day?

Also, the trip reminded me that all of us have "magical places" that we each savor. No matter where I stay in Colorado, I am amazed at how the mountains refresh me and renew my spirit. Colorado is really a place that tunes up my love for life.

Even though the bed was luxurious and extremely comfortable, I found myself staying up late at night so that I had time to read, write, soak in the bath, meditate, pray and reflect on the year drawing to a close, and the new one fast approaching. I luxuriated not only in the serene environment and sense of place, but in the chance to go within myself and reflect. So the balance of work/play/relax made me realize the importance of aiming for that balance in my everyday life to create a happier daily existence back home.

Wow. Even though I am back, I brought home a little $8 mousepad featuring this lovely scenic hotel. So whenever I get frazzled or harried, I can recall sitting by the cozy fire or walking on the lake path gazing up at the breathtaking mountain. It's another place that I will always treasure for the serene person I allowed myself to be while in that sacred space.
Quote: "You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience." - Teilhard de Chardin
What place creates magic within you?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Warm Toes/Warm Heart

Here are "lucky socks" that I made for Emmy so that she can enter into her finals week at college feeling more confident about test-taking. They are just simple ribbed socks that I started a long time ago. The yarn is County Clare in Socks That Rock that Lynn of ColorJoy gave me over a year ago. Aren't I slow? I started this socks and then, for some reason, had set them aside for so long! Then when I needed to make Emmy a quick pair of socks to put in her college finals "care package" I was able to pick these up and whip them out quickly.

I've developed a policy where I am going to knit one project at a time instead of the multiple projects I usually work on all at once. Here are my new knitting "rules":
  • One small/quick project on the needles at any one time. These are items such as hats, socks, mittens, scarfs, accessories.
  • I do one NEW project and then either complete or FROG one old project before casting on another new one. These County Clare socks were an example of an oldy but goody.
  • I can have 1 afghan and 1 sweater on the needles concurrently, and work on those larger projects in between the newly started shorter projects. In this way, I can get the bigger things gradually done. These usually take me forever and a day, but this way I feel work on them a bit in between and hopefully not feel overly stressed out by them.
  • This "one at a time" policy does not apply to spinning, as I seem to be able to work on multiple projects at one time on my three wheels and not have any angst or difficulty in completing projects. This is probably due to the fact that spinning is just so darn relaxing!

What I am finding is that on the "in between" projects for the UFOs that there are many UFOs in my closet that have remained there for so long because I just plain don't want to do them anymore. So I'm going to be more "frogging" than finishing on many of those old haunts. And you know, it feels really GOOD to frog because I didn't realize, having those things hanging out in the closet are stealing some of my mental/creative energy just fretting about all that I have unfinished and undone.

For my "new" project this time, it is Nikol Lohr's Bunny Hop Slippers. It's a thrummed slipper pattern that I highly recommend. Nothing is warmer or cozier than thrums! I was always unsure of how to knit them before, this was an easy way to learn how. It's a free pattern over on Ravelry and the pattern shows you how to do them right in the instructions.

Here is the pair of Bunny Hop slippers that I completed after the other day for my daughter. She wanted hers without the bunny face, ears and tail, but on the next pair that I make for me, they will have ears, eyes, tail details.

If you need a quick Christmas gift or whatever kind of quick gift, I can't recommend these highly enough. They are fast. Take 1 skein of chunky yarn or two skeins of worsted held together. They are a great stashbuster. Inside, you use shredded roving for the thrums. I did the actual knitting on these in about 2 days, but it took me several more days to find the big lime buttons.

If you are making them for children, you use a smaller needle. On these, I used size 9s and made the women's small size.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Thing

I appreciate all the kind thoughts that readers of this blog (yes they are few but they are really caring, insightful people) have expressed to me in response to my last post. First off, thank you EACH so much for your comments to me in private. You are wonderful.

Though I was a bit discouraged last week when I wrote, being a solution-oriented person, I'm now focusing on fixing some of the stuff that is bothering me. And I've received great feedback and ideas from the loving peanut gallery here and elsewhere. I will be sharing some of those ideas in upcoming posts, after I try some things out and see what works.

Anyhow, clearly the thing that has helped me a great deal in these past few weeks is to get focused on doing one "doable" thing at a time - I called it "The Goat Approach" after that Oprah article I read. While I must say that I don't always succeed in doing this - whenever I get "lost" having this "put the next foot in front of the other" approach really seems to be working, at least in making me feel more calm and competent if nothing else.

So I believe this is the approach, rather than the word, I will finish 2010 and enter 2011. With that approach, I feel I can take the best actions needed to turn things around and more fully experience the present. One thing. That's all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Navigating Life - Maybe I Need a Spiritual GPS?

I've had a long-life issue with getting lost. It's no secret to anyone who knows me. I could get lost in a dark closet if you spun me around twice.

Last year's personal word for the year was "Find" but that feels like it was all wrong. Instead of finding stuff and making better use of what I have, I've had a confusing, scary, and very insecure year. Not a disasterous year. Some of my friends have suffered much worse - i.e. a devastating flood, a cancer diagnosis, that kind of disaster that is much worse than the ups and downs I've experienced. But even knowing that others have it worse doesn't always help. I just feel lost.

And this year has really sucked in a lot of ways. My husband has been unemployed, then employed on a contract job for a few months, and now that the budget cuts are tight again at year's end, he's unemployed again.

My daughter has gone off to college - but things haven't been easy for her either. It's been a difficult and turbulent transition. I'm proud that she's trying to find her own way, even when it's a big struggle - she's pushing ahead and fighting very hard to make a new life for herself.

The weight and fitness routine that I was so proud of for the past two years have somehow fallen by the wayside in the past 6 months or so. I'm really not eating crazy or bingeing or anything like that - I just keep gradually packing on more and more weight as my stress level rises. It's almost like my body is rebelling saying, "No, I'm not going to stay thin, I'm going to hold onto everything I absorb and keep it." What's up with that? Weird.

I don't want to whine. I really don't and that's not the purpose of this posting.

I just need to start pondering my word for next year and I'm almost afraid to. I've never looked onto a new year with downright dread or fear before, but that's how I'm feeling.

Thank goodness for spinning. It's the only thing that really relaxes and calms me anymore.

One insightful thing I read today on Belief.com is that a car's GPS only asks you two things - 1) where are you now; and 2) where do you want to go? Your GPS records where you want to go and alerts you when you are off course.

For a long time, I've been recording what I eat and how much I exercise, but maybe I really need to take a closer look at where I've gone off course and sabotaged myself. I must be getting off the route in many different areas of my life.

Time to reevaluate the goals I've set for myself and see how I'm getting off course.

Maybe next year I don't need a word? Maybe I just need to listen to what that inner GPS says, and instead of putting it on "mute" I need to turn up the volume and listen a lot more.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What in the World Am I Trying to Prove?

"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." - Katharine Hepburn

As someone who just recently had a milestone birthday, I must have been wanting to prove that in spite of the years, I am still young in body and spirit - sort of. I've always prided myself on being open to new experiences and avoid getting into ruts. I decided that I needed to find more FUN fitness routines than the treadmill, which is starting to get a bit hoo-hum.

So naturally when my friend Elysbeth started talking about how she loves skating and has been doing it regularly lately and getting rather fit, the idea intrigued me. Pretty soon, I was asking a 26 year old friend at work if she'd like to join me for a skate night at the local roller rink. Now keep in mind, I didn't ever roller skate much as a kid, and I haven't been on a rink since my daughter was a Brownie Girl Scout. Even with the troop skate outing, I stayed mostly on the sidelines.

Last night we went. I strapped on skates, practiced a while on the carpeted area, then shakily hit the rink. To say that I'm an amateur is an exaggeration. I'm a total wall hugging control freak who was terrified of falling. I fell. Three times. All three times I fell on both my butt AND my right wrist (I'm left handed).

Then I noticed I was the oldest person there - oh except for one very athletic senior who was wearing knee guards, wrist guards and elbow guards.

Then after my Guardian Angel had set on my shoulder all night protecting me, I heard a whisper in my ear and a twinge in my wrist that said, "Remember, if you shatter your wrist, you won't be able to knit or spin for a good long time." Suddenly, this roller skating adventure seemed less adventuresome than foolhardy.

"Okay, I've had fun - let's go while I'm still in one piece." We left. I am still looking for a fun form of exercise - but one a bit less likely to endanger my knitting.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Goat Report

What did I learn from goats during this past week?

I tried a new approach, to less multi-tasking and more focus on doing one thing at a time, with full awareness. I promised to try it for seven days, and report back on it. So here are my impressions from doing so:

Goat wisdom:

  • I am amazed at how very often I am multi-tasking, in ways that hadn't even occurred to me before. I don't ordinarily even drive to work without the radio on or a book on tape playing while I drive. This week, I drove to work without my usual distraction in the way of seemingly harmless entertainment and was amazed that I had time to focus on my workday ahead, to think about some problems and possible solutions, and to walk into the office fully ready to get to work with some things already preplanned. Plus, coming home, it was the same. I was able to think about some things I was grateful for and prepare for my evening with my husband. I'm not sure if I drove any better or not, but I felt more aware of what I planned to do and to reattune myself to transitions from home/work and work/home. I found myself looking forward to that unharried "windshield time" alone with my own thoughts.
  • At the office, instead of keeping up my constant thread of incoming email messages and texts, I turned off my cell phone completely, as well as my Outlook work mail and my yahoo email account. I allowed myself certain periods of the day to check it - before getting started in the morning, at lunch and at 3:00 in the afternoon, and then again in the evening to check and respond to my personal email. That seemed to keep my mind off the newest, flashiest thing and onto my work at hand. Instead of having several spreadsheets and work projects open in Windows all at once on different panes of my computer, I kept as few as possible open and tried to focus on one task at a time. I felt I got some kinds accomplished work-wise this week that were important and had a stronger feeling of accomplishment all week.

  • At home in the evenings, if I was watching TV, I only allowed myself to be with my husband and watch TV. If I was knitting or spinning, I did that without doing anything else. I spent less time knitting and watching TV, but seemed to get more accomplished. I worked only only ONE knitting project this week - which was the Slouchy hat for Emily. It was an easy project, made from my previously home dyed and spun yarn, but I was able to easily and effortlessly finish it this week and felt proud that I had it done in time for her visit from college this weekend.
  • I had more, but shorter, meaningful conversations with my husband in person and my daughter by phone. We had better communication and got some decisions made that had been up in the air for a while.
  • I worked on getting more planning down on our Guild's Spring Retreat. I'd been letting it slide a bit the past several weeks but realized we'd better get moving on it. I managed to set up a meeting for us all to meet again, and organized and gathered the material we will need to do it more effectively.

  • I started thinking about and planning quick gifts that I could make this year for people's Christmas gifts, saving me some money, which is in short supply this year. I even tested out making some of Nikol's coconut handscrub, and it didn't turn out half bad!

  • Bob and I spent one evening dedicating just ONE HOUR (we set a timer because the task was unpleasant) to finding and purging as much junk in our sub-basement as we could find. It was amazing what we managed to clear out of there in just one focused hour of effort together.

  • I used an egg timer as an excellent tool this week to make myself clean out a drawer for 30 minutes. I used it to motivate me to exercise 3 times this week for 20 minutes.

  • The hardest goat time of all was when I was riding passenger on a 3 hour business trip each way, and my colleague was driving. Normally, I would have pulled out my knitting and gone on "automatic pilot" for 3 hours distracting myself with sock knitting - and maybe even with an MP3 podcast playing in my ear. Instead, I used the time to engage in a very deep, meaningful conversation with this colleague both about the client we were getting ready to visit and how we might be able to meet those needs. We discussed everything in depth, and in paying attention, we were fully prepared and had an excellent meeting. On the way back, we talked about our company, our working together in our two jobs to combine efforts more effectively.

  • I ended the week feeling much less harried, more centered in myself and prepared for the weekend.

  • This weekend, I've been a little more harried and distracted, falling back into some of my old "mind numbing" ways of doing errands and doing several things at once. It felt all the more jarring because of the focused way I led the first five days of the week.

  • What proved most effective and felt the best was keeping my attention on ONE THING, but not for nearly as extended period of time than I usually do. I gave myself frequent breaks and changed activities much more frequently, but getting more done during each focused session.

  • Unpleasant tasks didn't seem nearly as unpleasant if done for a limited period of time.

  • I rewarded myself by doing FUN things, like spinning for 20 minutes (when at home), or checking my email, or talking on the phone with a friend for stress relief. Or taking a brisk 15 minute walk with a colleague in the middle of the day.

Upshot: I'm going to be doing less multi-tasking in the future as I really see the benefit of single-minded attention. I also realized that it's a lot harder to do than one might imagine, but the results are surprisingly refreshing.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Goat Approach

You know me, often reading Oprah magazine, more so than seeing the show - I never seem to have time to watch, but reading the mag is something I often make time for. Well, in the November 2010 issue, there's an article on page 124 in the "Feeling Good" section called "Plugging In." Catherine Price, the author, talks about how she and her husband went on a working vacation to France in which they exchanged labor for room and board on a busy farm - specifically by caring for a herd of goats. One herd. Two weeks. Sounds easy?

Well . . . . it turns out that goats are "masters of single-minded focus" while Ms. Price, the author, is a typical multi-tasking American, who reads her cell phone texts while eating breakfast, while getting dressed. You know, doing several things at once, but none of them mindfully?

She brings up an interesting point: scientists now believe that the real attraction to multi-tasking isn't because we actually get more done, but because doing so produces more dopamine, the "feel good" neurochemical in our brain. It turns out we're stimulated by the new and attention getting. Thus, the irresisibility of new emails and texts flashing onto the screen and the popularity of the very word "new" in advertising. If it's a novelty, we're sucked in instantly. Many of us are novelty junkies.

I won't summarize the whole article, but suffice it to say, this message really appealed to me because it rang SO TRUE with my current place in life. Shiny - ah, my attention shifts often whatever I am or should be doing, and instantly gets drawn into the most attention getting. Not usually the best use of my time.

This author points out that when you milk a goat, you need to be goat minded, and only do that one thing. She will sense if you aren't paying attention single mindedly, and will go to pursue her own goatly goal. So the moral of the story is, when milking goats, milk goats. When working on a report at work, work on that without checking email or voice mail. When you are having a conversation with your spouse or child, be fully immersed in that. When you are cooking a delicious meal. Cook.

By doing one thing at a time, and focusing on doing it completely and well, you may not get more done - but you may get enough done right, and with the right mindset, that you might find what are really true tasks you should be doing, and focusing on those. One. At. A. Time.

This is a lesson I need to learn right now. I'm feeling pulled in too many different directions. So I've decided that to do an experiment. For one week - that's seven days - I'm pledging to totally "plug into" whatever activity I am doing at that moment. I'll let you know next week how that works out.

So this coming week, I'm a goat.
Added note: Diane wisely pointed out that I was referring to milking goats with the male pronoun - obviously you can't milk a "him" so I edited to fix that. Thanks for catching it Diane!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Steampunk Halloween Weekend

This is one of the first times I'm really feeling totally "out of the loop" when it comes to Halloween. Usually my daughter is home and she continues to dress up in costume every year, in spite of now being a grown up college kid.

But since she's away at campus, I haven't been as involved or aware of the Halloween preparations. In fact, for the first time ever, my house isn't at all decorated inside or out for Trick or Treaters, and I haven't even bought candy. Can you believe it? I'll probably be dashing out tonight or tomorrow to grab whatever last minute bags are on sale, and try to buy candy that kids like but that I don't like too much myself - because the last thing I need is to gain extra "candy weight" on top of the pounds I'm already trying to lose.

I found an article today talking about the 10 worst Halloween treats to give kids and aside from the not unexpected "apples" and "Dum Dum lollipops" they said the hands down least favorite candy was the peanut taffy that is wrapped up in the orange and black wrappers. Gosh, I must be really out of touch then, because those were always high on my list of candy favorites as a kid, and now too, except I have to be careful I don't pull out a filling when enjoying them.

In fact, here lately, I feel really out of sync with a lot of things. I fell in love with the Phat Fiber's "Steampunk" themed fiber box but I have to admit not knowing much about it. So I had to research it on Wikipedia to find out what it's about. Turns out that Steampunk is actually something that appeals to me - it was defined on one website as "The Intersection of Victorian Romance with Technology." By the time I figured this out, the Phat Fiber boxes were sold out - but I hear they sell out rather quickly, and I'm not a "competive buyer." That somehow seems crazy to hover over a website waiting to buy something. Why do it? (scratching head).

As a long-time fan of the Victorian era - including history, novels, music, clothing, furniture, jewelry etc. I was immediately fascinated by the Steampunk concept. Somehow I missed hearing about it during the cultural peak in the 1990s. (Maybe I was too busy raising my young daughter at the time and was instead occupied by the likes of Barney, Big Bird and toddler toys?) Who knows. But at any rate, I'm discovering that my long time movie and book favorites such as H.G. Wells "The Time Machine" and "Sherlock Holmes" are the bedrock of many of these Steampunk trends. So in honor of the Steampunk fad that I somehow missed out on, I treated myself to a very charming Steampunk bracelet by Winemaker's Sister. It's a darling accessory that has dangly charms that are utterly feminine, delightful and reminiscent of a time long by, mixed with the vivid imagination and creativy of modern day possibities.

No matter what I miss out on, I can still be a part of whatever I find myself drawn to and fitting into. In my head, I've always been and always will be, a prim and proper Victorian old lady. The concept of time travel has always fascinated me. While I'm not sure if that's Steampunk or not, but eh. Who really cares? It fuels my imagination and that's never a bad thing, right?

Happy Halloween.

Added later: This is the very first year that we did NOT answer the door to Trick or Treaters. Instead, we stayed home, shut off our lights and stayed in. We hunkered down in the downstairs family room with the dog and bird and just watched Back to the Future while I spun. So much fun. I just didn't feel like dealing with the kids and all the houpla this year. It was good being recluses for once. And I forgot what a great movie Back to the Future is - now I'll probably rewatch all the other two movies in the series as well. And after a horrible, stressful week, I am reminded that nothing relaxes me as much as spinning.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's a Fine Thing Spinning Fine

Guess what I did Saturday? I went to this shop The Wicked Stitch in Wamego, Kansas and took a class by Harveyville's own Nikol on Spinning Fine Yarn - which covered both sock and lace spinning. What a treat.

Chery and I drove over there together early Saturday morning, had an old fashioned breakfast at the Mom and Pop diner, then had a wonderful day spinning with several other students who were as enjoyable at the instructor was informative.

Nikol has a http://harveyvilleproject.com/?p=151Yarn School based in an old schoolhouse she bought and she hosts spinners of all levels of experience at her "school" twice a year. Well, I've never made it to Yarn School, so I was quite happy to get the chance to take an all-day class from her at The Wicked Stitch which is a really cute shop that sells both spinning supplies, spinning wheels, roving, and yarn and knitting products.

Jennifer's daughter took photos - but why is it that very few pictures taken while spinning are flattering? Every time I see a photo of myself spinning, it's a huge diet and exercise motivation? Maybe I'm just a narcissist?

Oh well, anyway, it was such a wonderful class. We learned how to spin finer, mainly by reducing our spinning tension and adding more twist to the fiber. We learned the "Miss America" method of plying yarn onto our hands to create a small sample and how to do a quick self-ply to test if the yarn was creating the right size and twist for what we were wanting to create.

We learned and practiced spinning from the fold, as well as long draw, and found out when those might be more appropriate than the worsted spinning most of us have done. We learned which fibers can be spun most ideally, using different methods. We got a bit out of our usual default spinning "comfort zone" to consider what might be best for the fiber we are spinning.

We learned that adding sturdy blends, such as silk, can strengthen sock yarn.

We practiced spinning a varity of luscious fibers such as a merino silk blend, silk hankies, and a brand new fiber called Optim which is wonderful! It's actually a permanently stretched merino and it feels as soft as cashmere but is much less expensive and less exhaustive to the environment. I want to eventually buy some from Nikol and make maybe a lace shawl from it? It feels like fiber taffy or liquid - it's so soft and slippery. Yum.

I always love spinning silk hankies, but some people in our group didn't like them. They stick to the rough spots on your hands, but Nikol provided us with her handmade sugar scrub that really helped. I love that stuff. In fact, I tried to make some last night. I'll let you know later how that works out.

Here I am pulling apart the silk hanky. That would make a great addition to socks to strengthen them. It's made from Tussah Silk and comes in hankies that you pull apart - it seems very delicate at first but that stuff is as firm as can be

Ya gotta love silk. Right?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fiber Camp

Well the Blue Springs Craft Group on Thursday nights that meets at Starbucks is a really fun group. I don't get there often, unfortunately, but when I do, there's always a bunch of laughs and camaraderie from knitters, crocheters, spinners, and crazy fiber folks of varying ages and varying levels of experience in whatever crafts we are pursuing. Whenever you want to learn or know something, there's usually SOMEBODY there who can get you addicted to whatever craft area you care to explore.

We talked for a few months about having a fiber retreat getaway at a cabin or something, but with the economy being what it is (bad) one of the members, Cynthia, kindly offered to open up her home and invite everyone for a Friday to Sunday fiber-filled weekend, with members of the group teaching classes in everything ranging from beginning crochet to Advanced Ravelry, not to mention drop spindling, Kool-Aid dyeing and Sweater Recycling. There were many more classes but I can't remember them all. The food everyone contributed to was delish. We had door prizes, goody cups and bags, as well as a fiber exchange and destash table.

What a marvelous GIRLS weekend - not matter what our ages, we were all 14 again this weekend. We even watched the movie DEATH TO SMOOCHIE which was zany and funny.

Since Em was home for the weekend from college, I only stayed Friday evening and then went back over there for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, but being there just that long was a blast!

Since I took some photos, you can get an idea of who was there and some of what we did. I'm not in these photos since I snapped them, but maybe I'll steal some photos that other people have taken too and add them in later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beautiful Autumn Weekend - Four Days of Relax

The leaves aren't really changing yet, is it me or shouldn't the leaves be orange, red and brown by now? Seems like they aren't changing as much as usual. But we've had a perfect sunny (and extended) weekend. Not too hot - a high of 80 I think, but not a cloud in the sky and it has been wonderfully relaxing!

Friday I had the day off and didn't intend to dye fiber, because I've been doing quite a lot of that lately and wondered if I really needed to, but it was such a perfect sunny day that I HAD to take advantage of the fiber dyeing and drying opportunity while it lasts. I made three different vats of fiber. First an orangish/goldish fall leaf color, then some bright crazy pink and finally a mauve tone - mixing a bit of brown along with pink and a dash of magenta to end up with a really pretty mauvish fiber.

I've figured out a great way to dry fiber by the way. I take two sawhorses and place an old porch screen over the sawhorses to serve as a huge drying screen. It works so wonderful! If you don't have a good drying set up, I highly recommend it. I used to just lay an old tablecloth out on the lawn, but I found that the plastic didn't allow the fiber to dry well, but with it sitting on top of the screen, it's allowed to drip dry and get air on it from both sides. I'm thinking this might also be a handy way to block and dry a handknit shawl?

Yesterday my Mom and Bob and I went up to see Emily at her college dorm. It was a great visit - two hours drive up there, then we stayed all day with her until around 7 p.m. before heading back home. It was a nice FULL day, but we managed to go and didn't have to spend money at a hotel by making it a one-day trip.

We got her oiled changed, a new battery for her car, her antifreeze checked. So her car is now winter-ready. We ate at a delicious family-owned Greek restaurant. Had a lovely day. She's adjusting well to college and is finally feeling healthy and happy there. She's settling down to a better study routine and I feel like she's doing well. College is such a huge adjustment - for her for us too. We really miss her, but it feels good seeing that she's starting to transition to feeling better and happier there.

Every October, I start craving pumpkin flavors and smells. And since I don't want the calories, I'm opting for pumpkin car freshner in my car, and a wonderful source of pumpkin coffee's at Bean Central. They have THREE flavors of pumpkin coffee: Pumpkin Spice, Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Pecan. I drink coffee black, so this means I get the delicious flavor without the calories. Yum!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

An Unwelcome Visitor

Another adventure - this one maybe somewhat amusing if irksome. About a week ago, Bob noticed that the bungee cord on our barbecue grill had been removed and shredded by some animal. It was weird enough that he showed me.

Well, then a few nights ago, I stopped by the grocery store on my way home from work. I parked the car in the garage and started unloading groceries, leaving the trunk open because I was going to come right back. Before I could turn around and go back out to get the next load, my neighbor rang the doorbell and said, "Hey, do you know your garage is open and so is your trunk?"

Me: "Yes, I'm going back out right now to get my groceries."

Her: "Well, I just saw the biggest raccoon in my life rooting around in your groceries - I clapped my hands and saw him jump out and run into the bushes near your porch here."

So the next day, I called Animal Control with the city and asked what they suggested about getting rid of this unwelcome bandit. They said my neighborhood is full of them this year, aggressive raccoons as well as aggressive squirrels. I told her we don't have the squirrels, but the grocery-grabbing raccoon.

Well, that night, Rodney, our friendly animal control guy, who looked amazingly like John Candy, by the way, confirmed that raccoons were really bad this year. He recommend that we not feed it (Duh?) and that we better watch out because if he's getting this aggressive, he could attack us or our dog if he gets cornered. He also mentioned that they are smart, REALLY smart, and some that are this territorial, near the door and all, start thinking it is THEIR house. Rodney asked if Rocky the Raccoon had tried to tear into our screens yet to get in? Why no, and that freaks me out a little bit. Can we please catch him ASAP?

After looking around the property, he noticed that the raccoon had dug up a whole bunch of dirt around the porch. The raccoon had apparently made a burrow for himself under our step. So after we trap the raccoon, we'll have to fill that so no other animal makes a home for himself there.

Rodney set a large cage trap outside under the bush, by the racoon's den, and left. The first night, nothing.

Then last night, guess who we found?

Don't worry I'm not going to name him. He'll be released back into the woods - hopefully really far away? I wouldn't want him to return. That's my excitement for the weekend - and now we're gonna need to repair that hole. This wasn't one of our planned preparations for winter, but it's better than becoming a wild animal sanctuary.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Traveling Across Kansas

This week, I took a business trip for a tradeshow in the middle of Kansas. I was not in the tradeshow mood, but I put on my very best "tradeshow smile" and decided that as a reward for myself, on the way back, I would stop at a yarn shop (if there were any in the Salina area, I wasn't even certain of that).

Well, let me tell you, there is the nicest one there called "Yarns Sold and Told" right in downtown Salina. It is a big, sunny shop brimming with wonderful, well-organized yarns. I loved the friendliness of the store - both the employees as well as the customers. There were many cute and recently popular projects on display and they were very helpful about helping me find the magazines and patterns the projects came from.

I haven't been yarn store shopping for a while, since I've been doing more spinning than anything else. Making my own yarn is just so gratifying, that I forgot what fresh inspiration and fun it can be to go into a good yarn shop to touch and feel the finished objects. There's more there than just yarn! Going there reminded me that yarn shops can be good sources of live inspiration. Ravelry is nice and all, but having real people to talk to, and admiring their projects is a different kind of fun that I haven't experienced in a while.

It also reminded me that it's good to visit and support local yarn shops, because we want these "brick and mortar" shops to stay in business during the hard times so we can go there and hang out whenever we want.

The cup I brought home from their shop says, "2nd Friendliest Yarn Store in the Universe is located in Downtown Salina."

I now have two brand new projects I'm casting on for as a result of my visit to this shop. I'll be talking about and showing you those projects soon. Here's to my trek through Kansas, and the mental lift it gave me to walk in the door of the "2nd Friendliest Yarn Shop" in the universe.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nesting Notes

Since my mind and heart have lingered so much lately on my daughter, I will post an old photo of her here. This is one from our trip to LA in 2008.

With Emily gone off to college, I am in a state of flux as I readjust my life to no longer being a parent. Missing her hits me at odd moments. Like yesterday, I was at a thrift store, and I saw two high school girls sifting through the dress area in search of old evening dresses. One of them was a thin, pretty brunette like my Emmy. I stood watching them, mesmerized, missing my daughter, for the longest time.

Finally, one of them looked uncomfortably toward me, noting my eavesdropping with a nod of her head to the other girl. So I spoke up, told her I agreed with her friend that the red dress would look stunning on her. I also explained that my own daughter is just a year or two older and has gone off to college and that the dress she held in her hand was the style that my daughter probably would have picked. The two girls laughed and explained they were both searching for homecoming dresses, and since they'd only wear it once, they saw no sense in buying a brand new dress. They said they often shop thrift stores. I told them Emmy did too. They both were pleasant and sweet, but probably thought I was a little nutty. So I drifted away, leaving them to their girlish camaraderie.

Other times, Bob and I will see a little girl in a crowd who reminds us of a smaller, younger Emily. We talk wisftfully about that time, and laugh as we go down "Memory Lane" together - then draw ourselves back to the present.

But all in all, we are doing fine. Emily seems to be doing fine too. She started out sick her first few weeks there, but she's feeling better now and adjusting to college life. She misses us too sometimes, but overall, is building a new life.

One thing I'm trying to do is refocus again on my diet and exercise. I've been letting that slide really bad these past few months. I like Jenny Craig program really well, but can't afford to keep doing it, so I've been off of that for quite a while. Tried to do diet and exercise on my own, but that really hasn't been working!

I'm at that stage where I'm still not back to my very fattest weight - but I've gained about 15 pounds and 2 sizes of it back again from my Jenny Craig fighting weight where I felt at my best. I am too fat to fit into the more stylish size 8 clothes that I fit into only a year ago. I want to get that "top of form" feeling back again and I KNOW I can do it. I have the time and energy free now to devote to my fitness and health again. I have no good excuses for NOT doing it. I will do it. Yes!

So last week (on Wednesday), I signed back up for Weight Watchers again. We'll see how that goes. I've tried it before and struggled because since I'm so short and small framed, I only get 19 points a day. What I've figured out and plan on doing differently this time is to use the online tools, and I'm already forced myself to look up the points and journal everyday online so I figure out the true points of the foods I eat. Planning ahead is essential since 19 points doesn't go very far if you don't carefully preplan. I always thought that figuring out the points was such a hassle, but with the online software, it is fairly easy to look foods up and record them.

My Mother and I are also getting back into doing our treadmills everyday. We're both trying to do the routine where we go fast and then go slow on the treadmill, we break up the pace, intensity and incline on the treadmill to give the workout more "punch." That seems to really help. I'm also wearing my pedometer and getting in 10,000 steps each day. I just started all this - so we'll see how it works out.

So I end this post by reminding myself that we can't live in the past, but must reinvent ourselves for the future - it's a process. Sometimes it a process we have to repeat (as in the fitness journey) but we have to do what work at each stage of our life, because we are never the same and can't go back to who we used to be to get to where we want to be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Art Yarn or Art Science?

When we were in Bethel, MO at the festival, several of us took "Spinning Art Yarn" with Brenda Schmidt. It was a fantastic class! We also had her for another on "Making the Most of Handpainted Rovings." In those two classes, we covered a lot of techniques and I went into my usual overwhelm mode but still and all, I learned a ton of stuff including Corespinning, how to make coils, cocoons and how to Navajo ply. I actually did it, yay!

Brenda has been spinning for many many years, and guess what wheel she brought along? Her beaten up, no-worse-for-wear 1970s Ashford Traditional set up with a jumbo flyer for the art yarn. It’s a 1970s model just like mine - and hers has only one ratio (I’ve since updated to the flyer with 3 ratios). She uses that thing like a true but reliable car - maybe it’s not the most beautiful, but it’s got 300,000 miles of spinning on it and it works like a charm. When the leather footman goes bad, she just replaces it with some leather cut from a thrift store leather belt. When her drive band goes bad, she just replaces it with string. When her spring goes bad - she puts on a new rubber hair elastic. Ha! When I came home, I gave my old Traddy "Fernie" a happy spin. I have the exact same type, that belonged to my Grandmother. Watching Brenda spin so skillfully on an old workhorse with NO special bells and whistles reminded me that you don't have to have a fancy machine to make an exquisite yarn! It's more in the spinning technique and skill than in the spinning wheel. I zoned totally out on the part about how to add beads and bobbles, but hopefully I can get up to speed on that later after I've practiced more.

So I came home and wanted to practice right away! I had my Fancy Kitty Drum Carder all fixed up for Ron's adjustment and new brush, so I carded up a big bat of Woolie Bullie alpaca in blue and some black alpaca along with a dash of copper Angelina, which is glitzy stuff, and carded that into this batt.

Then I subsequently spun into this this art yarn.

And with that art yarn, I made this Sophisicated Coils Art Yarn hat - a free pattern on Ravelry by fellow Sunflower Guild member and designer extraordinaire - Christine Long. It's a really easy and fun pattern. What I like best about it is that Christine tells you how to actually knit with art yarn, to make sure that the coils you've worked so hard to create will stay in the front of the yarn and show up in the hat.

Next time, I'd probably perfect my coils or cocoons (the big fuzzy things sticking out) but I was pretty happy with my art yarn as a first time effort. After all, Art Yarn is an art, right? And I don't yet have it down to a Science.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

168 Hours

In terms of money, we aren't all equal - salaries are as varied as people themselves. Some are born filthy rich and others will barely have a meal. But when it comes to time, that's a resource that is a level playing field. We all, theoretically, have the same 168 hours in each week to do with as we choose. I used to argue that those of us who have to work for a living in the corporate grind are limited, because we automatically lose at least 40-50 hours in a work week, not even counting the frustrating commute.

After diving into Laura Vanderkan's book called 168 Hours, however, I'm not so sure about that. She explores time management in a unique way. Instead of trying to better manage the tasks we must do, she throws into question our very way of life itself. Are we making the best use of our lives? Is our career something we really LOVE doing, and if it isn't, even in these hard economic times, maybe we should reevaluate what we're investing our time and energy into creating. If it's not work we love, then the hours, no matter how compactly spent, won't be fulfilling.

She focuses on how we can instead turn our focus to maximize what we do and like to do most so that we create a time orientation that reflects our values and priorities. This allows us to do more - and not just more but do things differently, so we're energized by a new purpose and not just checking off a long list of mundane tasks. She has convinced me that not only can we accomplish everything we REALLY want to do (i.e. fulfilling work, quality parenting and marriages, fascinating hobbies) but we can take time to eat healthily, exercise, and fulfill ourselves in every way that is truly important.

This is NOT one of those "you can do everything and be a superwoman/superman" type of books. It's not pie-in-the-sky postive thinking drek.

If you'd like, you can visit Laura's blog and take a look at some of her ideas and exercises to see if you too might benefit by taking a new look at the 168 hours that are available to us all.

Monday, September 06, 2010

World Sheep and Fiber Festival in Bethel

Oh what fun! I just returned from the World Sheep & Wool Festival held in Bethel, Missouri. I may never have the money or desire to fight the crowds that some people endure to go to other, fancier, BIGGER fiber festivals, such as Maryland Sheep and Wool or Rhinebeck. But here in Missouri, we have our own little festival and it's called World Sheep & Wool. Rather ironic since it's hardly big or "worldly" but is a whole lot of fun.

This year, I attended for the very first time, and went with 3 other local spinners, Luann, Julie and Christa.

We stayed in a cute victorian house. This one. Very quaint and comfy.

I took 3 classes: one on blending fiber with cards and drum carding. I have had a drum carder for over 2 years but never really felt I knew how to make the most out of carding - when you do it, why, how etc. After taking a class from Darlene, I am excited to do much more of it!

Plus, since a Missouri guy named Ron makes my carder, the Fancy Kitty, he was at the show and was able to tune up my carder, adjust it, and I bought a new brush for it which will make it even more productive than it was to begin with. I absolutely LOVE this carder (Fancy Kitty). It's the most efficient, least expensive drum carder you can buy in my experience. Keep in mind, I have never used any other kind, so my experience is rather limited, but I love mine and can attest to Ron's excellent customer service and affordable pricing.

We took a phenomenal art yarn class by Brenda Schmidt, of Wooliebullie. She does really great work and has such a patient nature. She and her mother, Bev, stayed in the same house we did and we enjoyed her company, as well as her teaching. She makes her living selling fiber and teaching fiber arts. She has one line of natural fibers with natural colors called Natchwoolie, and one line of bright colors and crazy fibers called Wooliebullie. One thing that amazes me is that she does it ALL on an old 1970's Ashford Traddy that just has one ratio - though she uses a jumbo flyer on it which helps in spinning art yarn. This wheel has been WELL USED - it's dusty, and a "no fuss" wheel that goes absolutely EVERYWHERE with her, to these fiber shows. When it breaks, she fixes it with string, leather from a thrift store belt for the leather on the footman. She just spins like a true spinning veteran. My friend Christa says she's a "gypsy spinner." It just goes to show that you truly don't have to have a fancy wheel to spin well, technique in the long run means more than all the fancy wheels and equipment in the world that you can buy!!

Speaking of buying, I found some wonderful fiber - here's a sampling of some of my fiber. I feel like a fiber glutton. No, not a glutton, okay I feasted on fiber. But that's what long holiday weekends are all about, right?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Hotel Recognizance Mission

Lest you think I would lead a boring empty-nester existence after getting my daughter off to college - then here's proof that I still live a weird, if not exciting, middle-age life.

What did I do last night? On an otherwise mundane weeknight, I left work and met several members of the Retreat Search Committee from my Guild. Our assignment was to drive about an hour or so out of town to tour a possible site (hotel) for our Spring 2011 Knitter's Retreat. For the mission, Teri offered to drive her van with the rest of us riding shotgun - and during the drive out there, we continually argued with the misguided GPS.

Ironically enough, I was the one who was so excited to find this place on the Internet. On the Internet it looked perfect for our needs. Or so I thought.

What I learned from our outing last night:

Potential retreat sites, like potential dating partners, can appear better on the Internet than in person.

When you are starving and don't eat dinner until 10:00 at night, you start craving carbs and waffles start tasting really really good.

The aforementioned waffle house, late on a Tuesday night, has some interesting characters, some of whom offer to pay their bill in chickens.

Becoming a little tired and punchy, those of us trekking home begin reciting nursery rhymes, "To market, to market to buy a fat pig, home again, home again, jiggidy jig."

You can, with modern technology, be in such a panic to find other alternative retreat sites that you begin googling them on an iphone in a dark van.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sometimes There's A Simple Solution

I've been working on several projects simultaneously, but one thing I've been steadily working on, in addition to the Granny Square afghan, is the little Shrug called, "Sweet Little Nothing Shrug" in turquoise blue and various colors from my homespun yarn. It is based on this free pattern. It worked up pretty well, overall, and took only two weeks to spin, then two more weeks to knit the garment itself. There was only one problem . . . the fact that the ribbing that ran along the bottom of the shrug kept flipping up in a really annoying manner. Guess I should have knit the ribbing with a smaller needle. Dang. I didn't.

I took it to the knitting guild Monday night, hoping that someone there would have a great suggestion, other than ripping it out. Several knitters pointed out that I probably should have done the ribbing on smaller needles than the stockinette portion of the body. Did you know that? Well, I didn't but apparently it's pretty common knowledge in the knitting world that you knit ribbing on smaller needles than you're using for the body of the garment. Save that suggestion for future reference, maybe. Not much help in my current situation.

Many people asked if I'd blocked it yet, why no, I haven't, because I still need to finish knitting the front ribbing before it's finished. But it was flipping so bad that I doubted even wet blocking would help. (I've had this flipped ribbing problem with another sweater one time, a pullover, and blocking didn't get it out). Grrr.

All week, I kept trying to come up with solutions - such as maybe crocheting along that bottom edge and/or put fringes of yarn down from the ribbing and weight the edge down with little beads. It would be a decoration, but would also weight down the material that wants to turn up.

In desperation, I took the garment over to Julie's house and she said, "Give it to me and I'll steam it." Steam it? Really? I've never tried that before. Yes, she has a steamer down in her basement. Ten minutes later, the shrug looked so much better. It was laying perfectly flat. Amazing!

Now that we've fixed that problem, the fringes and beading idea still sound appealing to make the shrug even cuter and more unique, and it's nice to know that steaming really is a good option. Wet blocking isn't the only kind of blocking out there. Nice to know, eh? And I went out to Mar-Becs and got one for myself - only $30, you can't beat that.

Edited to add: And now it's finished - I did end up adding the little beaded fringes of yarn that I'd come up with as one of the possible solutions to the rib flipping problem. Not bad. It sorta adds an extra cute factor. It's probably a little TOO cute for someone of my certain age - but what the heck, I'll wear it in good fun. I now call it my "Cha Cha Shrug."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Afghan Finished - College Life Begun

It's finished. Yay!

My daughter is at school, safe and sound.

All her stuff is in her dorm.

She's starting a new college life.

And now we are feeling the aches and pains of the move. Even a hot soak doesn't help much.

But it's good. She'll be fine.

Our little bird has flown the coop.

I'm feeling relieved and a little sad. Not allowing that to overwhelm me yet.

Lot of emotions. But whew, it's gonna be okay.

Friday, August 06, 2010

It's a Boy!

No, I didn't just have a baby or a grandbaby. I just found out that my Green Creek Conure, Mac, is a boy. With Green Cheeks, the males and females are virtually indistinguishable by sight, so you have to have them blood tested to find out for sure. Tests just came back late last week. Here is Emily with Mac.

Mac not only enjoys riding on my shoulder everywhere he can, but he also enjoyed spinning with me. If you look closely, or click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see Mac perched on the back of my chair while I'm spinning on my new little Merlin Tree "Roadbug" wheel.

Speaking of gender, I've decided that the Roadbug is definitely a female. My friend Luann said I should have had her painted Green (favorite color) but I thought, no she's just a plain, down-to-earth, but quirky and funny girl I call appropriately enough "Rhoda the Roadbug." She's named in honor of one of my favorite sit-com characters, Rhoda Morganstern, from the Mary Tyler Moore series.

Remember Rhoda? (the lively sidekick of MTM). I always wished I could be as beautiful, funny and talented as her - plus I wanted her attic apartment. If Rhoda could have been a real person, I'm almost SURE she would have been a knitter - maybe she would have spun huge art yarn? Probably would have had a loom as big as her apartment, and maybe knit some wild colorful shawls and definitely over-the-top quirky hats. Maybe she would have knit creative, fantatic freeform sweaters? Who knows.

One more gender analysis, I believe that my Mach II Spinolution wheel is a male - and I call him Henry. He's broad and substantial, and I picture him much like a Henry the VIII kind of guy. He likes to stay home in his castle, eat a lot of fiber, and not move around much. He rules over the spinning kingdom here at home as my best "go to" wheel - he likes to be the ruler.