Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Introspection

Well, as always, this week between Christmas and New Year's is my FAVORITE week of the year. It's the week of my dear husband's birthday, and also, the week I start contemplating a brand new year. New goals . . . . new possibilities. How exciting!

The photo remins me to clap for myself and others and be grateful for what I've achieved.

Usually I try to come up with a word/theme to guide the year, but I'm giving that up this year. Instead, I have created a few reachable, doable goals that will be fluid with my life and will evolve as my year does. I've included three goals and three affirmations and am carrying them around on a small index card in my purse. I am recopying, and meditating as well as visualizing myself achieving these goals each day during my meditation time. That's my plan anyway, and I've successfully been doing it for the past two weeks to test the plan out to make sure it works.

Last year, 2011, was crazy and unexpected in mostly good and just a few bad ways. I LOVE my new job and am making good headway with it. I liked my old job a lot and was so worried that I'd made a crazy decision by changing jobs in the middle of a bad recession and especially when that change involved an initial pay cut, but gues what? Surprise, it was a really good move. I'm meeting my sales goals at work and loving what I do. I'm still not making quite as much income-wise as I did at my old job, but it's all going to work and eventually, I hope the money will follow.

On the other hand, Bob's career has involved long distance back and forth much of the time. I really miss having my husband home all the time - but we are working our way into a better situation where we can balance being together and apart -- while still keeping our careers and home life as balanced as possible. He's now able to telecommute much more, so hopefully it will be easier. I think we're doing as well as can be expected given the odd career ride we've both had the last few years.

Holding it together is important - and we've done that. So in many ways, 2011 feels like a year where we made good with whatever was thrown our way.

I've given up even GUESSING what 2012 might hold, who knows? But instead my focus is going to be on doing the best I can with whatever comes my way.

How about you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Have a Happy Jolly Christmas

I'm not stressing . . . at least not about the typical gift giving and running around crazy like a chicken with my head cut off to buy just the right gift for more people can I can afford to buy for yet feeling obligated to do so. In fact, for several years now, I really have let that go entirely. This year even my Mother and I have agreed to the "no gift" thing - we have decided we have enough STUFF and we're going to just be together during the holidays and try to be a gift to one another in our presence, not our presents. The only person I'm buying an actual gift for is my daughter, and she's told me what she wants, so that's no sweat - something reasonable and affordable.

I can't believe what a difference it makes not worrying about the gifts. Now keep in mind, I have a small family, and no little kids in the picture. In fact, most of our relatives are middle age or older, and frankly, they don't want more 'stuff' anymore than I do!! It's the phase of my life I'm in - and one of the real perks to being in a life phase where I can "pause" more and step back, having a chance to experience the joys of the holiday without the obligation.

Now is the time to address some Christmas cards . . . listen to some music while drinking an old hot spiced tea favorite of mine from childhood. So where you are stressed or not, buying gifts or not, having lots of guests coming over . . . being with friends and loved ones, or being by yourself, you can do whatever holiday rituals truly make you happy - and one of mine is reading Truman Capotes, "A Christmas Memory" and then drinking some Christmas tea from my childhood. Maybe you can make some too? Or if you have to buy gifts, you can package this up in a little sandwich bag, into a Christmas mug and it makes a cute, inexpensive gift.

Hot Spiced Tea

1 1/2 cup of Tang instant breakfast drink

1/2 cup instant tea

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar or artificial sweetner


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers . . . .

I have been busy with the new job, as well as tons of personal changes. I won't get into all the excuses . . . and there's no need to apologize for not blogging in a while.

I'll just move on to the fact that I do indeed have MANY blessings . . . and chief among them is warm friends, loved ones . . . . and the reaching out of strangers to help on things in a serendipitous way.

For several months, I've been trying to figure out how to do triloom weaving on the 7' triloom I bought early last summer. Well, the first two attempts were a bust. After trying and failing twice to work on a shawl for my mother, I was about ready to give up and sell the loom. Couldn't get the hang of that darn loom.

Well, I was complaining about it over on Ravelry, and low and behold, this wonderfully nice lady named Sheila from over an hour away, volunteered to come over and help me sort it out. Since this loom is huge, you can't exactly meet at the local coffee shop - it's just not a portable kind of hting.

What a nice lady. She set me up by marking the loom with tape notating the nail count, showed me that it's much easier to have the yarn hanging from the TOP of the loom's frame, so you don't have to trip over the yarn on the floor. She also showed me how to check religiously to make sure there are no floats. Gosh, she had so much patience, and thanks to her help, I'm now working on a shawl once again - this time in emerald green. I'm still keeping fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rewards of Decluttering

Well I've been really trying to do a little bit of decluttering each day for about a week now. I have begun to make small strides, but each drawer, each bookshelf and each shelf full of clutter cleared away has made me feel really proud of my progress. I'm trying to simplify my life. Eventually, this may include me downsizing and moving into a smaller, more compact home, but for the time being, I'm just releasing (giving or throwing away) things that no longer than a use anymore. Trying to create a more simple, less chaotic environment so hopefully my life will reflect my surroundings.

While sorting through my nightstand, I was dumbstruck to find a set of notes that I'd carefully kept for YEARS (since November of 2000 to be exact) but hadn't been able to find in so long that I'd mistakeningly thought I accidentally threw it away or lost it some time ago. What a lucky find!!! It was a one-day seminar on handling conflicts with others, by being more understanding of the differences between each of us that makes us unique. It really was a big mind opener and has helped me deal with coworkers, loved ones and friends in a much more realistic and peaceful way over the past ten years. Imagine my happiness and suprise at finding these notes once again! And they resurfaced at a time in my life when I'm experiencing some turmoil again - so I'm grateful to have found it.

Sometimes when I find something that I long ago cherished, it feels like the greatest gift. I look forward to more things surfacing as I continue to dig, pitch, throw, and and reclaim.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ask Yourself This

I am trying, really TRYING to get a better work/life balance lately. With the new job, it is going very well, but seems to take every ounce of time, energy and focus that I have out of me. My boss had warned me that in the beginning, I'd be extremely busy and putting in a lot of hours, which is understandable since it's a totally new sales field for me - and the first time I have down outside sales entirely. Always before, I was inside sales, with a bit of outside client interaction and a lot of tradeshows and company events - but now I do everything myself and I'm on the run all day - and work on my paperwork and proposals and prep work late into the night. Luckily I've been having some success - I've sold two accounts recently and have several more that should be happening really soon. I'm doing well, but need to learn to do well in less time so that I have time and energy left for a life.

All work and little play is making me a dull girl!! I haven't been reading, crafting or interacting with my friends as much. Gosh, I haven't been to knit group in so long. Haven't had time to knit, weave, or even spin very much.

So this week, I decided to go to a Unity class at night and it's a weekly group of 12 people that will meet one evening a week for seven weeks. We will be studying and reflecting on the book Ask Yourself This by Wendy Craig Purcell. The book isn't a typical "how to" book that tells YOU how to find your spiritual self. Instead, it gently guides you into asking questions that will lead YOU to find your own answers and your strengthen your own relationship with the God of your being. The questions this week, in the first chapter were: What do I know for sure? How big is my God? How wide is my circle (How open am I to being open to meeting and interacting with new people and those different from me?) How much room do I give God to work it out? Is faith or fear guiding my decisions?

The group of people I'm meeting with are doing wonders for widening my own circle and I have enjoyed them already! The first week with them gave me a chance to reflect and share other people's spiritual insights, which is refreshing.

I'm still doing that focus on my Consciousness Raising affirmation that I linked to last time. Rebecca and Martha, thanks for joining me on it! I even posted my affirmation in several places - in the car on the visor, in my cube at work, and carry it in my purse. By affirming it several times a day, I think I've raised my own consciousness and hope that it is contributing to raising the well-being of all.

This week, I'm committing to asking and answering the next chapter in the book, and the next set of questions. I'm also committing to giving myself and my family more time and focus - easing up, at least a bit, on work.

I'm affirming the best for all of us - keep your chin up everybody. It's going to get better - and for me, it already is. I just have to focus more on gratitude for the things that are good and recognize the good for what it is - have faith in things that seem out of kilter or unfair, because it all will be okay in the long run.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

People Coming Together - Campaign for Consciousness

I've been feeling irritable, lonely, negative and disconnected lately - it's easy to feel that way - with the economy being so bad, and in my personal circumstances, Bob and I are away from each other so much (not by choice, but circumstances). Sometimes there seems to be no obvious light at the end of the tunnel, not only for us personally, but the whole country and beyond seems to be a compilation of nothing but "bad news." So I decided to shake myself out of my doldrums today and go to church at Unity (my spiritual home) - where I always get a positive lift. I was afraid they were going to have a sad and depressing 9/11 service, but instead, the service touched on 9/11 - but on the courageous acts and sense of oneness that came from it. So instead of the service being a "downer" it was a reminder of what is best in ALL of us. I felt really really uplifted and so VERY glad I went.

They have a brand new minister there, who just started last week, and she is SO inspiring. She's both amazing musically and in communicating her message in a way that really touches your heart and makes you want to take ACTION to bring about more good in the world.

One thing she read aloud to everyone is the Scott Heiferman, Meetup CEO, his message for "Fellow Meetuppers" on how Meetup first got started. Did you ever hear that story? If not, go read the September 9th blog entry on the link attached and be moved. If you don't want to go there, I'll summarize by simply saying, way less eloquently, that the phoneomen of Meetup started because Scott Heiferman was inspired by the sense of community that he suddenly felt amongst all his previously "go in the house and ignore your neighbors" mentality in his own neighborhood. On the event of 9/11, he saw his neighbors transformed, at least for a while, into caring REAL neighbors who talked with one another, who waved when they went into the house, who stopped and talked to one another outside in the yard for a change. He decided to launch a website to get people AWAY from their computers and into meeting one another in PERSON.

So I feel really uplifted today - and much less sorry for myself - wondering what I can do to be more active in my community. I started by staying after the service to meet people, and to sign up for a class that is a group of church members meeting together each week to study a book called, "Ask Yourself This" by Wendy Craig-Purcell. I've been doing way more bellyaching lately than praying and meditating. It's time that I start doing the things that give me hope in myself, and in the world, again. That's my commitment - to lift my vision higher.

Also, I am participating in the Campaign for Consciousness - 40 days of Daily Affirmation which goes from September 10 through October 19th - it will be forty days of lifting the consciousness for the benefit of the entire world. "Transforming the world one thought at a time." If you'd like to join me, go to the link, print out the three paragraph affirmation and recite it every day for the next 40 days.

Thanks to all of you who are part of my life - either in person or through the internet, and may we each lift up our thoughts to support and sustain one another. My thoughts ARE with you.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Gads is it September Already?

Fall is moving in. We had an absolutely lovely and cool, sunny and exquisite Labor Day weekend. With the lowering of temperatures and the coming of Fall, my mood automatically becomes more upbeat. Life seems crisper and full of more possibilities with the departure of the constant heat wave of the past few months. It's been a hot, horrible summer, for us as well as most of the country.

My new job is going well. I still haven't sold anything, but am getting close. Yay! I've been getting appointments and seeing lots of people, so eventually the sales will start coming along too.

My calorie counting and exercise plan aren't going as well as I'd expected, because I keep getting sidetracked by the busy-ness of my new schedule and taking clients out to lunch is hard on the waistline! I need to get in better control of myself.

I just finished reading a charming little book called Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a british novel by Allen Bradley, which I would highly recommend. A perfect light, end-of-summer novel that is part coming-of-age novel, and part cozy mystery, with the heroine being a mentally sharp 12 year old girl named Flavia De Luce. There are a few books in the series. Very cute.

Still haven't been crafting much, but hoping to get back to it really soon. I miss spinning, knitting and weaving.

Feel free to post a comment. I hope to be back in the swing of things here soon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just Checking In

Not much new to report - I haven't been doing hardly any crafts, just an occasional spinning session here and there, because I've been busy getting my head crammed to overflowing with the new job.

I love the job, but am still in the learning phase. Took a big test last Friday. If I passed, I can start working in the field with actual clients. Can't wait! The training was very thorough though and I am liking the job - the glimpse that I see of it right now. Won't really know what doing the job is like until I actually do it, ya know?

But thanks for all the folks who have wished me well and commented, both on here and privately. I love to feel the love, doesn't everybody?

If I owe you a visit or a phone call, just reach out to me and we'll make "catch up" plans. I really miss my crafts and hope I can get a more balanced focus soon. But I really NEEDED this change and it is a welcome one.

I'm hoping that good things come to all of you too.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Things They Are A Chang'n!

Well, quick update - I got the sales job at the radio station - yipppeeeee!! Really exciting. My last day at my old job was yesterday - quick presto chango, I know. Start training with the new place first thing Monday. Lots to learn, but I'm extremely excited and looking forward to it - I'd been feeling in a career rut for a while and now I need to really push myself to excel at this new job, similar to how I pushed myself and grew two years ago at the old one - but hopefully this will lead to more lasting long-term opportunities.

All I know is I gotta improve, learn and grow, because what else is there?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is Anyone Still Here?

Wow, I've been so immersed in tons of changes, chaos, and reaching for new things, that I kinda forgot to blog. Not sure if anyone is still listening sometimes, but I think I still have at least a FEW readers out there. I know, you guys are busy too, right? But I never want to totally let go of blogging because so much more can be covered in a few blog paragraphs than can be said in any other medium since I'm not a Facebook kind of person.

First off, in the "life" realm, I really can't jinx it because I believe it's bad luck to report on something until it happens, but let's just say there has been a job search going on, as well as pretty active interviewing. I'm hoping like crazy that one particular opportunity materializes, but it's still up in the air. But it's a "happy" exilerating kind of air ride - hopefully I won't be plummeted to the ground in disappointment. This is a scary time for me to make a career move - but I've been feeling innner prompting that FEELS more like divine direction than simple job restlessness, so I'm listening to that inner angel - in fact stumbling upon this sign while at a thrift store made me assured, in a weird way, that I'm right to make a change now. Call me romantic or illogical, but I really believe in "signs." This one is a literal one that seemed to speak directly to me.

On the crafts front, I've been really making use of my free time lately to get some things finished. First off, I finally found the right button for that laptop cover I've been weaving and I finished sewing it up last week. I really LOVE this project. Absolutely LOVE it. The bright, crazy colors really make me happy.

Then I also made a quick project of crocheting and felting an Alpaca roving rug for Bob. I thought this would be PERFECT for that spot right under his desk where he sits barefoot working on the computer. This felted rug is as soft as can be.

Last on the weight loss/fitness front: I have been really making progress - yes!!! Keeping a strict calorie count journal and following the 1200 calories a day guideline my doctor gave me is working out so well. I'm down 9 pounds (nearly 10) in 6 weeks. Thrilling. I'm starting to go down a size in clothes, too, which is always gratifying. I'm continuing to exercise as much as possible, within the constraints of my shoulder injury and even that too is showing signs of improvement.

So have a good week everyone, let's hope the wind is pushing my balloon in the right direction into bluer skies. Sure hope that's the case - and I'm holding all of you in my good thoughts and wishes too. May your ride be smooth(er) for a while. So many of us need a rest, don't we?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shouldering Too Much?

Haven't had time to write much on here lately. Things have been truly crazy busy. Work has been extremely stressful and weird lately. Unsettling actually. Lots of people quitting. Not sure WHAT is going on at my office but I don't feel either happy or secure. Very worrisome. Especially with my boss leaving - I just hate the idea of adjusting to my 4th boss in two years. Ugghhh!!!

We are thinking we might need to eventually relocate with Bob's job - long story - but with the real estate market being what it is, I don't know that it would be easy to move. Staying put for now, but that could change.

On top of all that, I am having pain. Lots of pain. In my shoulder. I've spent the last few weeks going to my doctor, to an ortho specialist and now to two weeks of physical therapy. It's called informally a "frozen shoulder" but the actual name is adhesive capsulitis. I noticed symptoms a few months ago, but it just has gotten worse and worse over time. Finally a few weeks ago I was in agony every time I moved the wrong way, and I could barely move my left arm or sleep on my left side. Let me tell ya, that's a problem when you are left handed! I've gone through some really painful physical therapy sessions 3 times per week and doing exercises for it 3 times a day. It's finally getting to the point where it's merely painful and not excruiciating.

I am so grateful for physical therapists, though. They are really and truly miracle workers if you do your exercises and follow their advice.

Maybe it's no coincidence that when I'm "shouldering" so much my shoulder gives out? Let me tell you, the thought has occurred to me that maybe this pain is more than physical and maybe my subconscious mind is trying to tell me something? Who knows.

The only thing that has brought me pleasure is spinning and weaving. For some reason, I've been able to do a BIT of that this week. For a few weeks, I haven't done much at all craft-wise because of the shoulder, but now I'm able to do a bit. This is the woven laptop bag I'm making on my rigid heddle loom. I LOVE weaving.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Celebrating with a Friend

Last weekend was Luann's birthday - so I headed over for a quick one-day trip to her house - it's about a 90 minute drive each way, but a very pleasant day and a nice drive. On the way down, I listened to a book on tape.

We had a fun day - spent some time spinning. First time I'd spun in a few weeks. I've really missed it. I saw her new Border Collie, her animals, and she gave me some raw fiber - some Shetland, some Finn, and some Blue Leicester. Guess I will have to learn how to wash and process fiber, huh? It's beautiful stuff.

She showed me her looms and taught me how to warp a loom using a 14 foot warping board. I've always just used the direct method of warping before. I can see how a warping board might be easier with some projects. I have a warping board on the back of my Harp but have never used it.

Last but not least, I finished making a birthday shawl for another friend, an online pal named Debbie. This is the first woven shawl I've ever done on my Kromski 24" rigid heddle. It actually didn't turn out half bad for a first attempt.

Luann has been making some really cool woven banners that hang outside on your deck and make gentle sounds in the wind. I am probably going to try my hand at making one of those too. We both agreed that we should use some novelty yarn, particularly ribbon yarn, in our shawls and banners. So we went out on a novelty yarn buying mission - found some really cheap for $1 a skein at Big Lots near her.

I keep promising a return to knitting, and I really have been trying to do more of that. Cast on some Monkey socks. But admittedly, my preoccupation is still weaving. I'm eager to get going on another shawl on the Harp. It's just too fun to stop. Warping tonight. Yippeee!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

A Need for Synthesis

Granted, this year I wanted to learn a bunch of new skills - spinning better, weaving on a rigid heddle, carding better on my drumcarder, continuous strand weaving, learning more about art yarn. All these things I've been delving into for several months now.

So what has happened recently is that I've sorta lost track of where I'm at. With every new interest that comes along, I have allowed myself to randomly pursue it. And now things are getting to be a little - or a LOT strung out and disorganized. I jump from one set of needles, or looms, to another without enough direction to really complete projects the way I used to do.

Even my daily spinning (i.e. sanity check) has fallen a bit by the wayside while I pursue an obsession with weaving. Though I love weaving, unlike spinning, it isn't always relaxing and instead of unwinding, sometimes it makes me more tense.

The result is that I very much feel at "loose ends" right now - starting many things but finishing very little. So maybe (probably) I'm feeling scattered.

So I've decided to get things back in check by:

Finishing the turquoise recentagular shawl I've been weaving for a birthday gift - it's getting fairly far along, but not quite finished.

Spinning more on some sock spinning that has been sitting idle for several weeks

Clean out and organize my fiber stash so I know what I have and can get ready for Tour de Fleece.

Finish knitting a Haruni shawl that I've been working on very sporadically and see if I can make some headway on that.

Pick out a project I want to work on for Tour de Fleece - probably preparing and spinning the Coopworth fleece I picked out a few months ago at the Jefferson City Fiber fair.

Hopefully this realization for the need to get organized and focus my energies will help me put a rein on myself a bit and lead to perhaps getting more accomplished.

Update on diet frustration: Guess what? Since doing my calorie counting plan all this week, I went from 154.0 on Monday to 150.4 today. So I have lost 4 lbs in one week. Realize that this is probably mostly "water" weight but I am quite happy to have finally made a big budge in the scale. I went out and bought a cute little journal today at Borders, it has an oriental theme and is narrow so it won't take up much room in my small purse. With the shoulder trouble and pain I'm having, the big monster purse was replaced last week with a very small bag that holds only my essentials.

Maybe this shoulder trouble is symbolic, telling me I've been shouldering too much, and needing to simpify and unburden myself of the heavy things that are weighing me down? Who knows!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

When It Ain't Working, Change It Up

Well, since December 2nd, 2010, I have been doing the new Weight Watchers program and religiously following it, logging all my "points" in a journal and sticking with the program pretty religiously, and doing it with several friends - at work, in real life and online. I was thrilled with the new program, in theory, because I had a minimum of 29 points and I now get "free" veggies and fruits without counting any points for those.

So I loved the new program. The only problem is/was that I've lost a total of only 5 lbs in 5 months. A pound a month average isn't so whippy. In fact, it's gotten pretty discouraging. Even with doing my Wii nearly every day, I wasn't losing pounds. Just staying the same.

I know there are many factors influencing my lackluster results, including menopause and who knows what else. So Friday I went to the doctor, got a physical and had a complete blood panel done to see what's going on.

My doctor, it turns out, has lost 70 pounds in the past 15 months. Phenomenal. In fact, I didn't recognize him at first! I thought I had had a new doctor, so it was ironic I was there to talk about my weight loss, or lack thereof, and he was standing right in front of me demonstrating his fitness success. He reviewed my food journal and we talked about what he had done. He's been a guy who tried every diet and exercise plan, including Weight Watchers and various low carb plans. He told me that what worked in the end was plain old-fashioned calorie counting and exercise 5 times a week for half an hour - mainly walking, because running can cause injury, especially in someone my age. He said, in short, that I'm getting too many calories even though I'm sticking to the plan. He suggested that I go out and get a calorie counting book. That combined with my Wii is my new plan.

Will report back. My goal is to lose 1 pound a week average. I'll get the blood work back maybe next week - and that will give me a good baseline from which to see how well this new plan works.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Am I Still Knitting?

Here lately all my blog posts have been about weaving. For those of you who don't weave, that's probably not too exciting. And you may wonder - do I knit anymore? My friend Elysbeth inquired about my knitting and I decided, what the heck, I might as well fess up to everyone that I have indeed inadvertently set aside my knitting bag somewhere due to my obsession with spinning, and here lately the new obsession of weaving.

In fact, embarrasingly enough, it took me a while the other day just to FIND my knitting bag buried beneath all the weaving books by my nightstand table.

It's not that I don't like knitting anymore. I do. Still love it. Just a matter of so many hours in the day. So I had cast on this shawl, called Haruni, in late March. It was supposed to be a knitalong with my group, but as mentioned, I'm way behind of doing anything with it. It's not a hard shawl, really it isn't. And though most in my knitting group have either finished or given up on it, I'm still plodding along, and now pulling it out of the bag and dusting it off. So here's the Haruni as it stands. The bright yellow yarns hanging out are the lifelines. It's my goal to work on it a bit during the Memorial Day extended weekend.

Have a good one everybody. I am really wiped out. Need to veg out, knit, listen to old podcasts, read a bit and knit a lot. This weekend the knitting will tag along with me. Promise.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tri-Loom Can Be Trying

Over the weekend, Bob and I put up the Tri-loom that I got for Mother's Day. It's a really nice 7' Tri-loom from Hideaway Homestead.

I was so excited! We put it together. I started working on it Sunday night. I read the instructions, then I wove. Then after working on it for a few hours, and with the daylight turning into evening, I couldn't see as well and was getting tired, but kept weaving.

Then at 11 p.m., well past my point of rationality, I stopped and took a closer look at my handiwork. Saw that many of the threads weren't right - they had several horizontal "floats." Quite annoying. And of course, I didn't know how to fix it. I was exhausted, so I ripped it all out with the intenion of starting fresh again and doing better. I am still struggling over how to fix mistakes.

I wrote Roger, the loom maker, and he is SO PATIENT and helpful. He basically said that the problem is, I've gotten messed up on the vertical weaving down but it shows up on both sides of the loom in the horizontal skips. He suggested that I use a crochet or afghan hook to make my weaving through the threads more accurate. He also suggested proofreading each line of weaving carefully before proceeding to the next. And he said there is a way of fixing mistakes and tried to explain it to me.

On Tuesday night, I started over again. Saw that when I was careful and used a hook, my weaving was indeed much better and I am starting to get the hang of it. This is really addictive but it does strain my neck and back, so I am only working on it a few rows at a time. And I learned my lesson and am now working under much better light.

I am going to keep working on this - because I can already see that I'm getting better as I practice, like with everything else. And I'm taking a class on Continuous Strand Weaving, which is what this method is - so after I have that class, later this summer, I'll probably have a better understanding of my beginner's mistakes and maybe they won't be such a big deal. The good part is you don't have to warp your loom, you just create the warp as you go, but the challenging thing is, you have to do it right. Ha! Small details, huh? Let me tell you, there's an old expression that says, "God is in the details." Really true.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting Stuff Done - Yes!

Over this past weekend, I managed to get a ton of stuff done. Mostly organizing stuff - but it felt so terrific. I ran errands, I cleaned out closets and drawers, shredded up old bills. Chopped vegetables. Cooked and froze Weight Watcher friendly soups for future meals. Cleaned my car. Scrubbed my bathrooms and threw away old used-up stuff in the cabinet. Listened to the audiobook "Room" while I worked (fantastic and gripping book by the way). Reminded me that feels SO GOOD to get mundane stuff done and check them off the "to do" list.

I rewarded myself by visiting my old Sit and Knit group at Borders. Great seeing everyone again.

Now I feel recharged or empowered in a weird sort of way. Knowing that I can make headway in terms of mundane life tasks reminds me that I also can get stuff done and meet goals that are more abstract and meaningful.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Out of Sorts

Gotta admit, I'm really feeling unsettled, disturbed, grumpy and have slept poorly. My mind was just full of so much STUFF - worries floating around bothering me to no end. Finally gave up at 3:30 and got up. Am still up. Tempted to just call in today and take a personal day - but hate to waste a precious day off on just being out of sorts.

Maybe I should take tomorrow off instead - a 3 day weekend might be refreshing. I also really need to journal - there's just so much stuff. Need to do a mind and emotion dump and get all this anxiety out onto a page somewhere. I wish I could go off and pray somewhere - maybe go visit the monastery again or something - inner peace is in short supply lately. I really need Room 8.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Happy Mother's Day. We were all together. Four generations. Lucky to have Grammy Ferne still with us. She's phenomenal and was so happy to see everyone together.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Weekend Weaving Workshop

Okay, a kind of crazy, intense learning-filled weekend. My brain is mush and I'm exhausted - but it was ALL worthwhile. My friend Luann and I went to Yarn Barn to take a Rigid Heddle workshop with Jane Patrick. We couldn't pass up an opportunity to learn from a weaving master like her!

The first day was all about using pick up sticks and the second day was hand manipulated yarn techniques such as leno lace, Spanish medallions etc. All I can say was the first day, I thought the class was WAY over my head, and it probably was, since there were many talented weavers there with much more weaving experience. However, I stuck it out, and am really glad I did! Now her book and DVD set make much more sense to me.

Jane is a patient teacher who goes around to everyone and helps them go at their own pace, without feeling like you are keeping the whole class behind. Then, if you a more advance weaver, such as a couple of people in our class, then she keeps you busy with advanced enrichment techniques. Therefore, I would highly recommend any of her workshops because she's an excellent instructor.

On Saturday night, I finished this Leno Lace cowl which I had started right before leaving home. It was a really quick, fun project. Made it on my Cricket loom in just a few days. Boy, weaving is amazingly fast when you're doing a small project.

I will turn in VERY early tonight. One thing I learned, once again, is that my weekends of "down time" are precious and it would have to be for a very special instructor for me to give up a whole weekend of relax - and I'm going to try to slow my pace a bit the rest of this week to rest up and regroup.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weaving Accessory Bag

If last weekend was focused on relaxing, this one was focused on doing errands and getting things done. Many things were marked off my "to do" list. That is a really satisfying feeling though.

The motivational speaker Brian Tracey used to call that "eating the frog" - meaning doing the things that you really need to do, and just swallowing those tasks - getting them over with, then feeling the satisfaction of having done what you need to do. Good especially on a cold, rainy and nasty April weekend when it's too cold to do anything outside anyway.

The only bit of fiber work I had the chance to do this weekend, though, was finishing weaving and sewing up this bag. It's a loom accessory bag. I actually wove the fabric for the bag itself on the Kromski Harp that it is hanging from. First project on that loom. And I'm so proud of myself for sewing the bag on my sewing machine, including a lining and inside pockets. Yippee. Something very handy and useful that I'll use every time I weave.

You gotta love a project that turns out exactly as you envisioned it. Gotta take happiness in simple things and accomplishments. Right?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hope Begins

One of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott:

"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work, you don't give up." - Anne Lamott

I LOVE Anne's nonfiction, especially her essays where she discusses her life and her faith, and her stories about her son Sam, who is now grown, with a son of his own. She's one of the most reasoned voices in faith that I've heard. She has the kind of faith that I aspire to. What's funny is I'm not as fond of her fiction - her novels just don't draw me in. Not sure why?

I also love her writing book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, which my friend Phyllis introduced to me back when I was still writing regularly. I don't know why, but Anne's nonfiction is so much more poignant and funny to me, and just resonates in a way that few voices do. Even if you aren't a writer, you'll love the insights from this book.

She seems to have the kind of faith that allows for complexity, and I feel that many people with strong faith tend to simplify the world and the heavens, whereas Anne accepts and welcomes the complexity. Few others have the inner strength to laugh at it, while still embracing it.

So if you haven't read her book "Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith" you might want to. I especially love the audio version, since she reads it herself.

As we are now seeing the promise of Spring, and it's the season of both Passover and Easter, it's the time to examine our interiors - focus once again on our spiritual selves and experience that sense of renewal that allows us to go within ourselves for reflection, then rise above and outside of ourselves in a hopeful way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Clothes Shopping

I don't remember when I've EVER looked forward to Spring so much, or a year when it's been so delayed. We had an outright beast of a winter, as I know many other areas did also. And I'm usually a cool/cold weather person, but when it comes to warmer weather this year, I say, "Bring it On!" though I may not maintain that enthusiasm once our temps and humidity climb into the 90's as they eventually will do.

At any rate, being faced with attending many conferences at this time of year, and needing an "attractive business casual" look, I decided last night was the time to go clothes shopping. I really dislike doing that, since I'm not nearly the fashionista that my mother and daughter have always been.

Shopping is especially distressing when you want to "dress thin" while not BEING thin. And a short, plump middle-aged lady like me is hard-pressed to find clothes that truly don't make her butt (and gut) look big. There's a good reason why we always ask people, "Do these pants make my butt look big?" There are in fact outfits that, while not making us truly smaller, can reduce the emphasis on our overly abundant parts.

So instead of holding out on clothes shopping until the elusive day when I "get in shape," I've decided to buy a few pieces NOW. And what is unusual, instead of avoiding white like I usually do, I purposely have been very drawn to it lately. Not sure why. I bought a white purse, a white pair of capris and slacks, one black and white dress that is very cute, and a darling pair of white sandals. I also bought a new pair of black capri's with a sort of silverish belt. And in the spirit of spring, painted my toenails bright pink. Doing this mini Spring "self makeover" had me singing "Summer Breeze . . . . makes me feel fine" all the way to the office.

What makes you sing? What makes you feel good about yourself? Can you treat yourself to one new outfit? Even a visit to a thrift store can reinvent a tired wardrobe.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Weaving - Me?

Okay, Grandma Ferne dragged me into spinning, kicking and screaming, when she offered me her Ashford Traddy 2 years ago. Now I'm being drawn into the darkside of her favorite craft love . . . . . weaving. Granted, I haven't fallen in love with it enough to add a room addition onto my house for a floor-sized loom, as she once did, but I like it enough to make this (second) scarf on my small Cricket heddle loom.

And I've dusted off my sewing machine - in this effort to transform my too-short first woven scarf into a Little Zippy Knitting Notions Bag.

I have succumbed to the lure of a Kromski Harp 24" rigid heddle loom. Here it is all put together. Nice huh? For some reason, I had a heck of a time getting it assembled, and I kept thinking we had put it together wrong. But my Kromski dealer from afar, DakotaSkipper, who I "met" on Ravelry is the very best, most supportive person. She dropped everything when I told her we were having trouble, and wrote out a whole tutorial on how to put it together. She is excellent support not only in selling the loom to me, but in continued information and assistance.

Soon will come mug rugs. I've been obsessively read Jane Patrick's Weaver's Idea book and watching her 2 set DVD instruction about rigid heddle weaving. She makes it look easy on the DVD. The book is a bit over my head, but will give me just what it says - IDEAS and inspiration for a long, long time. It may take me a while to get good enough to try many of the things she mentions in the book.

Gosh, my head hurts. I'm overwhelmed with crafting information this whole winter and now into spring. But the crafting has kept me focused on something fun and creative when much of the rest of my life has felt out of control and in transition lately, so that's probably why I'm immersing myself in them so much. It still is (a bit) cheaper than therapy, but a whole lot more fun.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Finally - a Restful Weekend

Gosh, I just realized I haven't blogged in two weeks. I think that's about the longest I've ever gone without checking in here. It's been a busy time. Especially weekends. Lately my weekends are even busier than my work weeks. Just got back from a 5 day tradeshow that kicked my butt and wore me out. So as this weekend approached, I couldn't wait! Then heard the weather forecast was for a frigid return to winter. Sure enough, as promised, this was a freezing cold and even snowy weekend - and I decided yesterday (Saturday) was a day to just stay home and hibernate. Haven't had an all-PJ's/all the time day in forever. So it was PJs and the fire for me. How cozy. Amazingly so. Played with my fiber most of the day. Successfully set up my rigid heddle loom on my own, then started a scarf and worked all day on it while watching movies and videos and drinking coffee. Very fun! Totally indulged in bumming around and enjoying every minute of it. Cooked. One of my favorite new meals I've been eating on Weight Watcher's lately is sweet potato fries sprayed with "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" and dusted with chili powder - just cut them up, put in a 450 degree oven for 17 minutes and voila, you have a taste treat sensation that Jennifer Hudson recommends, and so do I. I eat it with 1 cup of cottage cheese and if I want sauce, I dunk the fries in honey mustard. Did treadmill and listened to podcasts. Fun! Today, on Sunday, I had breakfast with my Mom and visited my Grammy. Came home exhausted, took a deep deep nap. Did some thrift store shopping with her and landed some WONDERFUL gray corduroys. Perfect. I forgot how, when I was a teenager, I wore cords constantly. Now I'm fully rested and feeling much better. So this was a good reminder of how important balance is in my life and probably for most people. I haven't been giving myself any down time. Duly Noted. Intend to do more vegging when my body calls for it. Sorry for the run-on paragraph. Blogger must need some rest too?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fiber Fest in Jeff City

Just returned from the best kept fiber learning secret in the Midwest - the Jefferson City Fiber Festival that is held every year in March. This was my second year attending, and it's just the best fiber learning opportunity I can imagine, short of SOAR (Spin Off Autumn Retreat) - but SOAR is too rich for my budget, while the one here in my state is so much more affordable and convenient. Plus, we often get many of the same teachers.

My classes this year were all spinning ones - 1) Setting Yourself Free with Scissors - which was drum carding and spinning by using novelty fibers and leftovers from other projects, and combining them into glorious batts in such as way that it LOOKS like art yarn, but is much more pleasing to my eye - and is much easier to boot. This was the most fun and easy class I took all weekend. It was also my favorite. There's a better chance of me using this immediately in my projects than anything else.

You can see that I loved this so much that I spun the yarn, washed and dried it in my hotel room and then created this little neckscarf that coordinated with a hand-made button that a newly-met friend, Susan, offered me. Isn't it beautiful? She has a real button making talent. I wish she sold them online, but she only does them for fun. I hadn't spun chunky singles in a while and this was really a blast.

2) Spinning Cotton - quite a challenge, but boy I learned a lot. This class helped perfect my ability to spin on a high whirl, treadles fast, move my hands VERY fast and practice long draw, which has usually been impossible for me. We also learned to draft cotton using special cotton cards. I can't believe how much fiber a little bit of cotton spins into. It's a very short staple. It was a pleasure to watch Leslie use a supported spindle, I think called tahkli (pronounced "talk-lee").

3) Spinning Flax - the teacher was a fiber genius and I had a great time. We spun with these high distaffs that reminded me of something I'd see people marching around with in Rennaisance times. Huzzah! It is a really challenging but FUN fiber to spin. The teacher made us realize how much work goes into getting Flax from the plant into shape enough to spin, and it is really labor intensive. Flax eventually becomes linen. It softens up more and more with each wash.

4) Woolen vs. Worsted - how to tell the difference and change your spinning technique to match the type of fiber you are spinning. Very enlightening and in this one, I finally learned how to use hand cards, or believe so anyway. The teacher, Darlene, was very patient and helpful, but a 12 year old fellow spinner named Shannon really helped cement the concept of hand carding and made it "click" in my brain. We practiced worsted vs. woolen prep and we learned that cottons are best done with long draw, while long fibers which I normally prefer are best done with the inchworm beginner method which is still my fallback technique. We got to work with fresh lamb's fleece, washed but not carded, and I finally know a butt from a tip - and how to flick it then card it and spin it without messing up the alignment of the fibers.

Whew! Very fun but exhausting weekend. Not so much as a retreat as a brain squeeze - but it gave me enough ideas and material to practice on for a good long time. I highly recommend this affordable festival to anyone in the Midwest who can attend.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Rigid Heddle Class at Yarn Barn

I took my first ever weaving class over the weekend at Yarn Barn. It was a rigid heddle beginning weaving class. Project was (of course) a woven scarf. I took the class because I've had my Schacht Cricket loom in the closet for over a year now and it's high time to use it.

The teacher, Mary Margaret, is a lot of fun and has a huge enthusiasm for weaving that was infectious.

The other women in my small class were very talented and multi-craftal. So the whole time we are in there in class, I'm thinking everyone's colors look better than mine, their scarves look better, and they are much faster than me also. But that's okay. I'm usually the slow one in the class and that doesn't bother me. I tend to be slow at getting new concepts and skills, but if interests me enough, I eventually improve over time.

So everyone else in the class finished their scarves but me. Most people's scarves were 50 inches, a tad short but no big deal. Well I just took mine home home and finished it up last night. Very confident and proud of my beginning weaving, even though it was far from perfect.

But when I was nearly finished and turned the crank one final time to get the end of the weaving area and to try to put in my waste yarn at the end to finalize the scarf, the apron rod, when fully out of the crank, was flopping and made all my tensioning on the scarf go slack. So I couldn't finish it up properly. My intention had been to do the "twining" (end stitching) and put in the white waste yarn so that when it is washed and blocked, that is removed and creates a nice finished look and even tension.

Maybe it was user error - I can't remember the teacher talking about that apron flopping issue. And I don't remember it being a problem on anyone else's loom, but then I was the only one with a Cricket. It is probably user error.

At any rate, while the beginning of my scarf looks like this - all neat and tidy, the ending looks messy and not tensioned properly.

Plus my scarf was only 36" - hardly scarf size. Not to mention fringe - shesh I can't remember how to make neat fringe at all. She showed us. I've seen first scarves from 6 years olds that look much neater and cuter than mine. Shesh!

So I'd say that my enthusiasm and interest in weaving far exceeds my talent. But I'm always open to get better - it can only go up from here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dare I Say It?

My friend Elysbeth and I were just talking the other day about how, we are both truly supstitious about revealing possible good news until it is a "done deal." Inevitably talking about a positive possiblity jinxes it. But as many of you know, my husband has been out of work for several months. Last time I bragged about him getting a job, it a short-lived contract job that lasted only a few months, so I'm hesitant to mention this for fear of jinxing it.

But shesh - I am so happy about it I am about to pop. Bob got a job, yeah! Granted it's a contract job that may only last 6 months. But considering how desperate and worried we were, it's such a relief. He's been looking for so long. When I say he's been LOOKING for a job, I don't mean casually, I mean with his whole heart and soul and constant effort. He had a really rough time. This job came about because he kept calling and following up with every single possibility. Just when his hopes had been dashed on one possibility, he heard that he had an interview with this new one. And they moved fast to interview and hire him. Yay!

Hip hip horray!!! (Now I'm still keeping my fingers crossed). Thanks to all of you who were supportive, sympathetic and said prayers or sent some good vibes our way.

This is a much needed piece of good news. Whew!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Resolution Roundup

Remember I made some resolutions in January? Well I decided that I should periodically, maybe once a month or so, check back on myself and see how I'm doing with those so they don't fall by the wayside.

So I'm going to brief recap what they were and how I'm doing:

De-junking and decluttering: This is going pretty well. So far I've managed to begin organizing and removing a lot of extra boxes and old items from my basement. Also have gotten my knitting/guest room into organized enough shape that Luann was able to stay there recently. I still have more I could do in there to make it better, but it's a start. Also started on the kitchen. Still a long ways to go in kitchen, baths and closets. Have been good following my rule about removing an item of clothing from my closet for every new item brought in. That works really well!

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. Did I forget about this or what? I haven't done much with this. I like the idea of journaling/doing Morning Pages every day, but so far, this hasn't worked well into my life. I have done a few "artists dates" where I do some fun activity that stimulates my creativity - and that part I'll keep doing because it really seems to keep me somewhat sane during a tough time. Bob still doesn't have a job, so times are depressing and worrisome. Maybe some journaling would help?

Become a Mentor for my daughter and move out of the Parent with a capital "P" mode. I've started working on this. We've made some progress. This is a big one, but needs to be kept on the front burner. She's really grown up but there were some life skills that remain to be taught. If she learns from us, that's fine. If not, I need to continue stepping back and letting her live her own life and develop the skills - even if it means learning some things the hard way. It's tough, but I'm getting thicker skin.

Spend more time with people and less time online. Trying to do this. My biggest challenge on this remains Ravelry, but think I'm spending less time on it overall. I'm trying to arrange some "real life" get togethers with my friends and have started returning to the Saturday knit group to meet up with some people. also am going out with a coworker to a gym to exercise and do a bit of venting. Am still connected with my close online friends such as Elysbeth and Phyllis. Am doing some reaching out by phone. Talking.

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. This is going really well! I've been back on WW plan for nearly two weeks and have been doing good. Slow but steady wins the race. I've been writing down food and looking up the points. I've been concentrating on eating veggies, protein, fruits, healthy but limited carbs (whole grains). Feeling MUCH better. Trying to eat less frozen meals and cooking healthy foods. Trying new recipes is FUN. Will share some of those soon on this blog if anyone is interested.

Consistently exercise each and every day. This is for both physical and mental health. I have returned to doing the treadmill at home regularly and also joined a gym near my work. Have been working out with a friend of mine from work. She motivates me and it's more fun to exercise together. We've been going at lunch, and also occasionally go after work for longer sessions. This week I'm taking aqua arobics and a yoga class. Definitely lifts the mood and helps the body too.

Take a vacation - Bob and I took the Vegas anniversary trip in January. Really a blast. We are too tight on money to plan anything else yet - but when the weather really warms up, we hope to occasionally take some weekend trips by car, or if we're still broke and can't afford to stay overnight, we'll do daytrips. I got the daytrip book from the library.

Wear my pedometer every day. Aim to walk 10,000 steps per day. Yes.

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." Ohhhhhhh. Hahum. This one has been the most difficult. Least focused on. I've recently said some pretty harsh words to the cable company - but now I'm out of that business relationship. (grin). Seriously, haven't worked on this much. Need to. Sometimes when my life is hard, I become hardish around the edges, and sometimes resentment leaks into my core. I don't like that in myself. Besides, being gentle and firm, and patient, lends better results than harsh anyway.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Friend and Fiber Filled Weekend

Last weekend my friend Luann came up to stay with me for the weekend and to hang out. We wanted to attend a nearby spinning guild meeting. So we had the perfect excuse for a friend and fiber fest.

On Friday night, we made dinner together and stayed up late talking, spinning, drinking coffee and getting our fiber ready for the spinning group.

We made more snow dyeing cakes also - taking advantage of the little bit of snow that was left on the ground. We made some really gorgeous green with a mixture of lemon lime Kool-Aide, dark green food coloring and some lemonaide Kool-Aide. We made a total of 3 batches of dyeing.

The spinners we went to see were having a Crazy Batt drum carding challenge. Luann brought her Louet drumcarder up for us to use. Saundra encouraged us to include all kinds of things in our batts, including cut up scraps of fiber and pretty scarves purchased from thrift stores, as well as our old yarn and roving scraps. We cut them up and included them in the batts.
We went to Yarn Barn to visit the store Luann had never been to. We had a good time and tried out all the wheels. When we got home, she showed me how to do a bit of frame weaving on her rectangle loom. The neat thing about this type of weaving is that you don't have to warp the loom. She left it with me to borrow so I could finish up the scarf we started together. Unfortunately I can't remember how to it! I'm going to try to figure it out again on my own, but if not, then she may have to give me a refresher course. In a couple of weeks, I'm taking a rigid heddle weaving class at Yarn Barn.
It was a really fun weekend.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

No, It's Not a Snow Cone

Last weekend, faced with nothing but cold and snow, and fighting the worst case of cabin fever, I decided to try my hand at "snow dyeing." My friend Luann had been doing this with success, and so I decided to try it. From my understanding, you can dye fiber, yarn and even cloth with this method and it's really easy and fun.

Using a 9 X 13" cakepan, I filled it with about 2 inches of snow. Then laid my fiber down in a thick layer. I used plain mill ends. Then I laid about 2-3 more inches of snow on top. Tried not to pack it down hard. Because this snow was light and powdery, it worked really well. Then I took about 10 packages of Kool Aid and lightly sprinkled the top of each pan - I had two panfuls of "snow cakes." 10 on each pan - so I used a total of 20 packages of Kool Aid for each 2 pan batch. I later realized that the yellow Kool Aid wasn't going to be dark enough for what I wanted, so I decided to turn it green by adding some blue food coloring.

I let this sit on the kitchen counter at room temperature for several hours. In fact, if you did this in the evening, you could let it sit out overnight. Just be sure there is a tablecloth, dropcloth or something underneath in case the pan spills over. (By the way, you can use other types of dye besides Kool Aid, I just happened to have those on hand and they were cheap, plus I wanted something non-toxic since I was planning on using the oven to bake in the dye).
After the snow has totally melted, I placed it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. I took it out of the oven, let the pans and the fiber cool to room temperature, then just rinsed them out and set the fiber to dry on a screen in my basement.

I like how the colors came out. I noticed that because I let them sit in the dye water as the snow melted, the roving was darker and more saturated on the underside then the top. That variation was fine with me and I liked it. Some people might prefer to use a pan with holes, like a colander, so that the dye water could drip down as it melted and escape the fiber pan. Like I said, this seemed like too much bother to me, and I liked the effect created by the method I used.

This was so fun! I like the spring like colors achieved with Kool Aid. But I'd also like to try this method sometime with acid dyes. It is a really cool method that allows the dye to seep slowly into the fiber.
Making snow dyed cakes gives me something to do with snow other than make snow ice cream. Goodness knows we've had enough snow for now . . . and maybe getting some more later tonight? Eeks. Better wash my cake pan and be prepared for the next round of snow cakes. If you try it, let me know how yours turn out.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Drum Carding Up a Box of Valentine Chocolates . . . Err Fiber That Is

Did something unusual last night. I had been thinking about entering this Fancy Kitty drum carding contest on Raverly for several weeks now. There were three categories: natural batts, colored/blended batts and finally art yarn batts.

The natural and blended contests were taking place in the middle and late January and with our vacation and during the throes of getting back in the swing at work, I didn't have time to enter those categories.

And I'd practically forgotten all about the final category contest until I stumbled upon it again in the early evening on Rav and decided on a whim, "What the heck, I'm going to enter this contest, just to do some more batt creation and aim for a specific thing this time - a Valentine's theme. So I threw caution to the wind, and along with it, some merino, hand-dyed mill ends, white angora, brown mill ends, lavendar merino silk blend and tons of sequin strings, pieces of ribbon as well and sprinkled in some angelina for some extra sparkle and glitz.

Finally much of that fiber I dyed up last summer, in the August heat, at last I found a use for all that red, pink, and peach fiber.

I managed to create, photograph and post my drum card art batt in time for the contest deadline at noon today. Yippee! There were several really lovely batts submitted, so who is to say what will happen, but I'm glad I put myself "out there" and definitely learned a lot by trying to create a specific themed batt. Lots of fun!

Now I can't wait to see what this batt will look like spun up. I don't have a project in mind yet, but will come up with something soon.

Edited to add: I didn't win - another lady did whose batt was called "Hunka Hunka Burn'n Love." I'm still glad I entered and I'm happy with the batt I made. Will be doing more with my drum carder now that I broke it out of the fiber closet.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bracing For the Next Wave of Winter

Okay, last time I wrote about what a fun little snow overnight that I had with my buddy from work. And I know some parts of the country have it far worse - winter has been a real bear this year for folks nearly everywhere.

But honest to Pete, it's getting pretty wearing already. January is really locking us in very cold temps and threats of major "snow events" not to mention ice. Which is worse? Not sure. Snow is pretty and sparkly the first few times and then it gets annoying. Still I'd ten times prefer winter over summer. We had ONE warm springlike day (yesterday) where it got up in the 50's - that was a mere tease, because winter is returning with revenge.

The thing that most annoys me about winter is that everytime I plan to go someplace, my plans are subject to derailment. Like last weekend when I was going to an Artyarn workshop in Harveyville, KS, I ended up coming home early. Scardy cat of being stuck in the middle of Kansas with an ice threat. (Plus I missed sleeping in my warm bed - as you get older and more set in your ways, you miss your own house more than you might imagine).

Anyhow, I attended one day of Jacey Boggs' artyarn class and then came home Saturday night - so I missed the whole second day of class. The day attended was great - well the instruction was at least. I had a bit of technical difficulty, when the little piece that acts as the delta orifice flipped off Rhoda the Roadbug (my spinning wheel) and I didn't have any superglue to reattach it. That's all it would have taken - a few drops of superglue. So note to self: add superglue to my spinning supplies.

At least I had a chance to experience Nikol's delicious cooking. Someday that girl is going to come out with a Yarn School cookbook, and when she does, by gosh, I'm going to get it. Nikol is the owner of the school and host to those of us who visit.

Here's my friend Christine, who was kind enough to drive us to Harveyville.

I learned a lot about art yarn - which is now more appropriately called "textured yarn" - Jacey's term and I like it better than "art yarn" because textured yarn is really what it is. It's all art yarn right, we're all fiber artists making art? But some of us try our hand at making big, funky, yarn with texture. I don't honestly know how much I'll be spinning this type of yarn in the future, because I tend to more traditional yarn. But then again, it really does help make you a better spinner overall to learn new techniques. Plus, I love corespinning.

I see much, much corespinning in my fiber future.

So now as we face this next week - with a long three days of extended "snow and ice events" leading into my work week, I wish you all a nice fire to curl in front of with your spinning wheel, favorite novel, or kntting/crochet project. Enjoy and try not to get too stressed about all the activities you are missing. This will just help us appreciate spring all the more when it DOES come, right?