Monday, April 26, 2010

Here's . . . . Mac

This past weekend was really strange. We had definite plans. Really we did. We were supposed to go on a romantic weekend getaway to the lake. But we were both having a crummy week all last week. And then the weekend forecast of drenching rain, rain, rain and cold temperatures every single day. Yuck. Didn't sound very romantic. So we switched plans, deciding to cancel our reservations and stay home.

Then as we went out to dinner Friday night, we discovered there was to be a Bird Show at a hotel near the mall. I worked hard most of the day Saturday on my work project. Then in the afternoon, Bob said, "You need a break, so let's go to that bird show." Sounded good. We've been interested in birds for over ten years and I always wanted an African Gray parrot - but had decided that since they live upwards of 50-70 years, and are very demanding and costly, that we just couldn't afford to ever get one of those. I've also loved conures, because I love the little comedic antics they are apt to display.

I've been considering a Green Cheek Conure as a good breed, because they are less loud than many other parrots, and they are very affectionate and comedic. At the pet stores, though, they are priced so high. So when we visited the Bird Fair, we found a wonderful little 12 week old Green Cheek Conure that we named "Mac." We don't actually know if he's a "he" or a "she" but Mac seems to be a pretty unisex name that will work either way.

Already this bird is very sweet and friendly, and loves to get out and play around, and be petted and cuddled. It's a very engaging young bird. Since we bought him from a breeder, we got a really good price too.

One of his favorite toys so far is playing with a strand of yarn that I tied to the top of his cage. So I guess he's truly a bird after my own yarny heart!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Need to Make a Blanket

My daughter is firming up her college plans now - thankfully, she has picked her school and we are getting her application, and all that college processing stuff done. She's going away to school, which we all agree will be a good thing for her, and something that I always longed to do.

I went to community college for my first two years and then transferred to UMKC to get the degree. But I often wished I could have gone off and lived in a dorm to have that whole dorm life and freshman on-campus experience. I think it will open up a whole new world to her. So I'm extremely excited for her.

This is a weird time for us - because we're pushing ahead to get a new phase of her life started, and I'm feeling those motherly weepy feelings, combined with the excitement - and on top of it is the uncertainty - with Bob still not having a job etc. It's like we're driving on one of those old Ozark Missouri roads where the road twists and turns, and you can't see ahead over the next hill, but you have to drive anyway, and have faith that the road will still be there to meet you and will take you in the right direction. Ya know? I call that the Road of Uncertainty. It's sometimes scary, but it leads you to new places and usually everything is clear over the horizon.

Now along with this college preparation going on, I'm realizing that the sock blanket I've had languishing for several months, needs to come out and grow FAST because she's going to be taking off with it to her new dorm in a few months, and at the pace I'm knitting and shoving it aside constantly, she may be graduated from college before I ever get it done. This blanket, by the way is Christine Long's Sock yarn blanket, and is much prettier in person than in this photo. For some reason, the blanket is just not photogenic.

Last night, I showed Emily the beginnings of this blanket and I told her I had in mind to make it just like a study lap blanket and not anything real big - just to wrap around her legs while studying. She made it clear that she wants a BIG, warm, fuzzy afghan - a full size one, and she doesn't care if it's knitted or crocheted. So I'm thinking of putting this little sock lapghan on hold until I finish a substantial afghan for her. I'm calling for suggestions, I just need something BIG, SOFT and WARM that would be FAST to get finished. Any ideas?

This sock yarn blanket, done on size 3 needles, is a fantastic way to use up sock yarn, but in the interest of instant grat, I need something really speedy and am open to ideas.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Working Vacation

I love my job, and especially during weeks like this, where I spent three days in Colorado Springs. Sure, I spent much of my time at a tradeshow, all the while wishing I could be out hiking, walking, and admiring the amazing scenary, but still just being there was pure bliss - and gave me a much-needed recharge.

Some people are refreshed by oceans - not me! Give me mountains, forests, wooded areas anytime - they just lift me up inside and give me an inner thrill, even from afar.

Now I didn't take this photo - because I really didn't have time to do the tourist-y stuff and couldn't seem to even snap decent photos while my colleague drove us from Denver to Colorado Springs and back again a few days later. So this is a photo of Pike's Peak that I found on the Internet, but you get the idea - mind numbingly gorgeous.

And the enjoyment I get from staying all by myself in a hotel room for two nights makes all the standing in the line and going through security checkpoints at the airport all worthwhile. My silly indulgences included early morning walks outside in the cool, crisp air, along with late night knitting, crocheting, reading - totally self-indulgent pleasures.

Sure, I missed my family - but this break from the routine was sorely needed and appreciated.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Crochet - Really Hooking My Interest

Here lately, even before Spring set in, my mind and attention span has been lighting from here and there all around, rather like a fickle butterfly flitting all over a beautiful field of flowers. There are just SO MANY interesting things to draw my attention. Why stick with one?

For instance, I've not only become absolutely ABSORBED with spinning, but I've also been following a slowly developing interest in Crochet. I'm starting to understand Crochet enough to actually enjoy it and find uses for it beyond just edgings and afghans. I'm seeing some really cute things that I want to make, and I'm finally getting the hang of it enough to contemplate a few projects.

A crochet teacher named Nirmal (pictured to the left) first introduced me to crochet in the Spring of 2008, I believe? She was a wonderful teacher, but I didn't get very far until I turned back to spinning and set the crochet hook temporarily aside while I picked up the drop spindle, and later the spinning wheel. But all the while I've been doing other things, the crochet has been dormant in my brain, and simmering on the back burner.

Well, the simmering finally came to a boil THIS Spring, when I decided to leap into a fulll-blown Crochet Shawl, called Seraphina. I started it just over a week ago, with the help and coaching of both Roberta and Julie in my knitting and crochet group. I'm starting to be able to read a crochet pattern too. Yay! Here's the beginning of the shawl. Once you get past the very beginning, it becomes really pretty easy. I say "easy" but I shouldn't brag until I'm totally done, right? But I'm amazed and happy at how quickly crochet builds a project, as opposed to the slowness of knitting. It's the ultimate instant gratification craft. I will never replace knitting with crochet, mind you, it just has different uses.

Two bloggers who have always made me wish I could crochet are: Ellen (Los Angeles Is My Beat) and Maryse (Bag'n Trash). If you ever have a chance, go take a look at some of their projects and you will drool too.

Now, the final straw with getting me absorbed with this Crochet thing is the Potholder Swap over on Ravelry, which I knew nothing about until after it was too late to join in. I'm not fond of swaps and don't usually do them, but I must confess that this one really had me hooked. Who WOULDN'T be attracted to a swap administered by none other than HelloYarn and Maryse? Talk about distracting, these potholders are so darn cute! They're truly amazing. Though I can't participate this year in the swap itself, it doesn't mean I can't start making potholders just for the heck of it. Why ever not?

And if I've intrigued YOU with any desire to crochet, go run out and get a copy of the March/April issue of Crochet Today because they have a whole feature on crochet potholders. The article is on page 41 and is called "Your Nana's Potholders" and the design is by Maryse Roudier. As the article says, nothing says "retro" like an over-the-top potholder. And they have the free pattern out on the web too. Here's the link.

Now where's my kitchen cotton and crochet hook?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Went Well?

As one of those people who often has trouble keeping focus and has to manage myself to the nth degree, I've found that asking myself. "What went well today?" is a good question to ask. What did I do well that I'd like to continue doing.

So often, I get caught up in focusing on what fell apart, what ball I let drop, that I fail to see and appreciate the many things that I accomplished and techniques that actually work for me.

This isn't just one of those fake positive-thinking ideas, it's a real tool that I've found has helped me repeat the success I've experienced. Maybe one week at work I accomplished way more than usual. What did I do differently? Same thing with diet/exercise. Same thing with personal relationships. How did I manage to keep my cool and have a good day with my daughter instead of allowing a potential conflict spiraling into an argument?

My answer in short is: This week, I was really REALLY broke, and I wanted to treat myself to something fun, like a pedicure, but I didn't want to pay for it. What did I do? I did my own little pedicure at home with a kit my daughter had bought me at Christmas, including a heel pumice and then because I don't paint my toenails very well, I had my daughter paint them for in a bright obnoxious but cheerful HOT PINK.

Another thing I did well was resist the temptation to buy books at the bookstore. I am doing really well as ordering my books and even DVDs, such as old movies and such online through my library. So every few days, I have a new burst of books, music, DVDs etc. and they are free. I return them when I'm done and don't have to add to the personal clutter here at home. This week, even though my local library system didn't carry it, I was able to order Alice Starmore's Fair Isle video through the Interlibrary Loan System, and a copy is winging it's way to me from a Denver library. Isn't that nifty?

So today I ask you, as well as myself, "What went well this week for you?" and "Can you start doing it again more purposely as we face a new week?"

Friday, April 02, 2010

3 Day Relaxation Quest

Okay it's a 3 day weekend for me - yay! I was hoping to sit outside and spin, remember? Well, the beautiful sunny Spring weather we had all week turned to clouds and overcast skies, and later thunderstorms this afternoon.

But early this morning, before the rain hit, I was able to sneak a bit of outdoor relaxation by sitting on my deck and reading Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini. It's an absorbing and really FUNNY read - only about 225 pages. I'm loving the author's dry wit and obsession with finding just the right shade of green for her sweater. What lengths will she go to to find it? The book is about one knitter's attempt to acquire Starmore's famous Tudor Roses book and to knit a Fair Isle sweater in one year. It's rather like a Julie/Julia type concept - but even better if you're an avid knitter.

Though I've never been seriously tempted to knit an entire Fair Isle sweater, this book is making me tempted to try maybe a vest. Isn't that silly? Just what I need, one MORE thing to learn. Let's see, I'm currently busy with my obsessions in spinning, knitting, drum carding, dyeing (well I'm reading about dyeing, not doing it yet on my own), as well as wanting to crochet better . . . and I'm starting to feel the pull of weaving on a rigid heddle loom. Now one thing I DON'T need is to explore one more aspect of fiber arts, right?


So then the Knitter's Daily email popped into my "inbox" on March 31st and started cajoling me into clicking on the Eunny Lang's new DVD on "Introduction to Fair Isle: the Ivy League Vest." Hmmmm. I love vests.

But first let me get back to reading that Sweater Quest book. Maybe I'll satisfy my desire to explore a new diversion by just reading about it instead of doing it.