Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Some Life Observations

For some reason, about a year ago or more, I started a list of "Life Observations" that I think I intended to pass on to my daughter someday.  But I've come to realize that one's parent is probably the least likely person many young people will ever take advise from.  Therefore, I won't offer these specifically to my daughter, but to whomever might find the points helpful (mainly myself whenever I forget these hard-won observations and fail to observe them myself).

This is by no means a complete list, but here goes:

1.  Fate can turn on a dime, for better or worse. 
2.  Be open to new experiences and learn from them. 
3.  Consistency is more important than intensity in creating success.  Do the good, healthy, wise things regularly and you'll eventually see a reward that you can achieve and can maintain.
4.  Your resume reflects a "career story" - make it one that you would like to later read and tell to others.  This doesn't mean that you can't make career changes, but realize that with each job change, you are writing a new chapter and each chapter should logically fall into an overall story that makes sense and is in line with your overall goals.
5.  Speaking of goals, if you don't know exactly what you want to do at any given time, that's okay, but don't make major investments, in either time OR money until you reach a point where you feel a fire in your belly to proceed.  Until you feel that inner compulsion to move forward, it's okay to try different things and be open to direction.  Someday you WILL find something you want to do and then will be ready to move forward.
6.  Many times the best career paths are found by building upon the natural strengths and talents and interests that you have.  If you're not sure what those are, ask friends and well-meaning mentors and they will help point the way.
7.  Times won't always be this hard (or this easy) and people ARE shaped by their times and the life events through which they've lived.
8.  To accomplish any major task, break the bigger goal down into small, everyday achieveable tasks.  Do those small things regularly and you will accomplish BIG things. 
9.  Get big things started.  Once you get started, it is easier to work on it consistently.  The first step is the hardest, so take it!
10.  Read books (both fiction and nonfiction).  Through reading, you have internal conversations with people from a wide circle of times, places and circumstances.  Reading deepens you and feeds your mind and soul.
11.  When making a major decision, gather all the information possible, but don't be overwhelmed.  Picture yourself doing each of the choices and listen to your gut as to which feels best for you.
12.  Choosing a mate or a business partner are two of your most important choices.
13.  Be willing to compromise and change.  Hold onto your integrity, but don't be afraid to give and take  . . . this is vital in strengthening relationships.  The person who thinks "It's my way or the highway" will be traveling alone  . . . .  and that way is a LONELY road.
14.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  Make them, learn from them, apologize and move on.
15.  Be willing to let go of life's "bad breaks."  Personal losses and failings will be amplified in your mind if you focus on them.
16.  Be grateful for your talents, your windfalls and natural advantages.
17.  Question your assumptions  . . . . all of them.
18.  Get up and start your day EARLY.  Planning your day the night before is amazingly powerful.  But those who start late often come up short.
19.  Let go/let God.  Especially when you most want to hold on and stay in control.  Let go/Let God.
20.  Be your own best cheerleader and harshest critic.
21.  Whenever you are trying to communicate a criticism to someone else, taking a "Like Best/Next Time" approach is often effective.  This means you tell them some aspect of what they did WELL before proceeding with suggested improvements.  Offering up more positive input than criticism builds self-confidence and makes the recipient more apt to listen to the suggestions.
22.  Find ways to have faith and renew it regularly.  Practice some form of prayer, meditation, or whatever method allows you to seek refreshment and wisdom from a higher power.
23.  Don't be afraid or put off by things that seem hard.  I've found that most of the "hard stuff" in life, once started, is what makes us stronger, better and happier than what comes easy.  The easier stuff is easier for a reason.  While it seems oh so tempting to take the easy route, the hard way most often leads to fulfillment.
24.  Always keep a sense of humor.  Don't take yourself, others or the world too seriously.
25.  Remember the 80/20 rule.  80% of your success will come from 20% of what you do.  20% of your friends will be your TRUE friends.  20% of your customers will be the loyal ones who will help you succeed.  Still you need to approach and do 100% until you recognize where that 20% lies. 
26.  Have real relationships and develop them.  It's easy  to get caught up with your career, with technology, with overall "busy-ness" but the time you invest in PEOPLE and interacting with those closest to you is what really matters in the end.
27.  You will always keep relationships with influential people inside you, in your inner life, whether they are "alive" or "gone" . .  . they are always with you and shape who you are.  You can turn to them whenever you need strength.
28.  There is a God force that guides you whenever you are open to being guided. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wrapping Up 2012

2012 is almost wrapped up.  We're in the final days.... with Christmas approaching .  . . and soon the year will be done. 

It's been a strange year for me  . . . . starting out with great hope that I'd make a successful radio sales career for myself, and then slowly realizing that I couldn't make a living at it.  The current  job right now is very temporary  . . . and I don't know what's around the corner.

Plus, being hit with health problems (very minor ones in the scheme of things) but many of my friends and their family members have had health challenges that make mine PALE in comparison. 

All in all, there feels as if there's a shifting in my life, a gradual change but one that isn't unwelcome . . . . . just different.

In terms of outer changes, I've been letting the gray grow through my hair, but that's been far too slow for my liking.  But that growing out process has taught me some important lessons.  Real change, even in superficial matters such as hair, requires patience and often a "hand's off" approach . . . .  . just letting myself transform naturally . . . and in the process, I'm reevaluating what other changes can come into my life if I take a more "let it be" approach and a less goal-oriented "make it happen" style that I've always adopted in the past.

It's probably going to take at least a year to grow the gray out, and then I'll still have to grow the length longer, so it's a painstakingly slow process.  It's teaching me about patience which is a lesson I've never learned, but one that seems fitting for the decade of my 50's. 

You know, something internally is really shifting in me.  I'm growing more accepting, but not in a "giving up" kind of way.  I'm feeling a need to get REAL within myself and to just strip away things that no longer seem to be a part of my current life. 

In terms of health, I'm having surgery in just a few days.  A big surgery.  Total Abdominal Hysterectomy.  I'm nervous about it, but ready to move on and leave it behind too. 

The gift to myself this year is age gracefully and to no longer avoid aging, just to embrace what is inside AND outside of me.  To make the best of what I am and have to give to others, without holding on too tightly to anything. 

Merry Christmas everyone.  May you end the year with those closest to you, and may you embrace whatever gifts you're given.       

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Daughter's 21st

It's hard to believe that my daughter turned 21 this weekend.  Amazing.  Feels like only yesterday . . . .  ah really, it does.  But anyway, she's all grown up now.  Hard to let go but time to give her more space. 

The weekend started out with tragedy in the news . . . . with the elementary children in Connecticut . . . . no words, the ongoing story is so heartbreaking. 

So on the weekend that my girl (now a woman) turns 21, I hear the heart wrenching news about little ones taken from life at the place they trust most . . . their grade school.  It's hard to fathom, and not only their lives taken, but the for the classmates who amazingly survived, their feeling of safety and innocence perhaps did not.  They may bear emotional and mental scars that will remain with them forever.  To think of the parents, siblings and family members who lost children .  . . as well as the couragous adults who stayed with them and tried to protect and shelter them, some of those adults perished while trying, and others held on.  Ugggh.     

How can the parents go on?  And the stories of courage, along with shock and grief, that have been voiced all weekend on the news is hard to believe.  It seems the most precious times, like those just before Christmas, are brightened and darkened by intense happenings. 

In our own lives, as parents, somehow we've been lucky, and seen our daughter, whose beginning as a tiny premie baby . ...  seemed so precarious . . . so "touch and go"  . . . . yet she miraculously survived.  It's with a mother's heart that I'm grateful for her growth into adulthood, and at the same time, saddened by knowing that some other parents haven't been so lucky.

In these days of sadness and gratitude, it seems trite to say, but so true, that we all really never know how many years, months, days or hours we have left to spend with our loved ones.  Every day is a blessing and asking "why" on the hard, tragic events seldom leads to inner peace. 

Instead, I'd like to consider the advice of children's TV host Mr. Fred Rogers who said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ― Fred Rogers

He also said, “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Truly Thankful for Good Health

Okay, I didn't talk about this on here earlier because I was grappling with a lot of fear myself and didn't want to "put it out there"  but now that my health scare has been relieved, I will share my thoughts and concerns and let other women know about it just in case it might help someone else searching for information along the way.  If you are squeamish about hearing about female stuff. . . . then you may want to skip this posting.   

For years and years, I've had problems with my female parts and hormone levels. First, with having fibroids at a fairly young age - and a very early premature birth of my daughter at 31 weeks that may have been at least partially caused by a fibroid that grew large fueled by pregnancy hormones.   

Perhaps not surprisingly, I went through a bad time with perimenopause - lots of very intense symptoms but about 18 months ago, at the age of 50, it  finally finished with all that because the periods stopped and seemed home free .. ... yay!  But not so fast . . . .  Then about six months ago, I started gaining weight only in my abdomen but about - 14 lbs and several inches with a belly that looked like a pregnant belly.  It wasn't caused by sudden overeating or lack of exercise.  No matter what I did, I felt "crummy" along with hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, lack of sleep, moodiness, teariness, lack of energy, depression  etc.

After reading numerous books on menopause, and then attending a bioidentical hormone workshop in October, I decided to finally bite the bullet and find a gynecologist who specialized in menopausal issues and might be able to help me get to a solution for all these problems.  In the past 3 years, I've seen 3 different ones - but they each seemed unsympathetic and dismissive, and belive it or not, the 2 women were even worse than the 1 man I'd seen during those years.  So finally, through this seminar's referral of several possible physicians, I latched onto a really EXCELLENT and through OB who seemed to take my symptoms seriously, ran several blood tests, sonograms, hormones tests, exams etc. and finally decided there was some reason for concern.  He pointed out that I have hormone levels that are so extremely low, at this point, I have the hormone levels of a 70 year old woman.  After being "estrogen dominant" for decades, there are now extremely low levels yet I have a very thick uterine lining - as measured by external and internal sonogram AND there seemed to be a fairly substantial growth again - not sure what it was, but somehow it seemed to be surviving in spite of low hormone levels to feed it.  So this new doc scheduled me for surgery the day before Thanksgiving.  He thought it would be just a routine biopsy and D&C that would take about 10-15 minutes.   He urged me to do it pretty quickly and not to wait around based on all my symptoms.

After reading about my symptoms and googling "uterine biopsy" I became really really worried about the possibility of uterine cancer.    One huge help to me was finding Fran Drescher's book called Cancer Schmancer.    Fran had Stage 1 uterine cancer just over five years ago and went through a situation really similar to mine.    I absorbed this book in the days preceding my biopsy and although it scared the beejesus out of me in some ways, it also gave me lots of helpful information and questions  . . . . things to consider if the biopsy came back malignant.  Plus, it made me aware of what to watch out for in the future, because after all the reading I've done on the subject recently, it's a fairly common diagnosis in post-menopausal women and knowing the symptoms will keep me on high alert.  Even more than other cancers, if you catch this one early on, you have a much better chance of survival. 

On Wednesday afternoon, I had the surgery  . . . and it was surgery where they knocked me out with a general anesthetic.  If you ever have one of these, by the way, some doctors don't knock you out for the procedure but I was VERY glad to have been asleep, because he ended up removing a very large fibroid and it took a bit over an hour for the procedure.  There was cramping and bleeding afterwards, but seemed much better to have been done the way it was done as outpatient  . . .by Thursday (Thanksgiving) I was resting comfortably and able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my family.   I just took it easy all last weekend  . . . but doctor said pathology report would be back early the next week.

On Monday evening, he called to tell me there was no malignancy  . . . . no cancer . . . just a large fibroid.  Whew!

So just to relieve everyone's mind, for those who knew and worried with me. . . . thanks immensely for the prayers, thoughts of expressions of concern.  I'm so glad to be healthy and fortunate that at least for now, not to have to face the cancer burden that so many women and men go through.  But I'm also glad that I'm educated about it now . . . and have some thoughts about therapies I'd want to try if it ever comes up again.   

I go tomorrow for a follow-up appt with my doctor and hopefully will learn if I'm able to get on some hormones that will help make me feel better and balance out many of the symptoms that have been bothering me.  Not sure what he'll recommend, but I will get back with anyone who wants to hear more. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Spirit Lift

It's been far, far FAR too long since I visited my spiritual home.  Every six months or so (at least once a year), I take a journey to a monastery near my home and spend the weekend at a spiritual retreat amoung the Benedictine nuns and fellow retreatents.  For some reason, this time I haven't been there in 18 months.  I've let a hectic life get in the way of my returning there for far too long, and I almost didn't go this time, but something inside me said GO! and I'm so glad to have followed that internal directive. 

I took some beautiful fall pictures of the monastery but must have deleted them or something weird because they aren't on my camera or my computer.  Oh well, the experience was surreal anyway, and maybe a blog entry about a weekend of silence and inward turning is best NOT captured with photos.  But if I run into them, I'll post them later.

Whenever one goes on a retreat like this, I believe everything . . . the timing, the people there.  . . . the situation, are all significant and pose a message for the inner self.  This was a Thomas Merton focused retreat.  He was a Catholic priest and mystic who who wrote The Seven Story Mountain, a spiritual autobiography, that became a bestseller in the 1960's because so many people in our busy and frantic society feel not only dissatisfaction, but an inner yearning for a meaning that is often elusive in day-to-day life.  Thomas himself might be described as inwardly "restless" and very identifiable to others in his flawed but awakened self.  Reading and learning about his life really drew me in and was quite inspiring.

The people there were just phenomenal.  As we read Merton together, prayed and mediated upon his writings, we were all drawn together in a way that was very moving.  We journaled.  We had time together, as a group, to explore his writings, as well as time apart, in the silence of our rooms.

I'm writing this entry a few weeks after the retreat was over, but nevertheless, I still feel a sense of stillness, peace and oneness when I even reflect upon the weekend. 

One important message that came out of it, though, was that even in craving the 'sameness' of things, everything that occurred over this weekend reminded me that I have to be ready and willing to CHANGE and be adaptable when things don't go quite my way.  I got lost in going there, because the monastery had quite literally changed the way you could enter into the convent - there had been some rebuilding/remodeling going.  So even when you THINK you know the way of something, there are changes that need to be adapted to, and accepted, or else one simply loses peace of mind.  The changes are there, even in the beautiful place I return to each year for solace, and yet, if those changes are adapted to and you learn to "Zig" when there's a "Zig" and "zag" when there's a "zag" then you can return to the peace that is always there when you wish to return to it.  The peace is in ME not in the constancy of a place in the outer world, but in the constancy and oneness that is in me and ALL of us whenever we turn within. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tying Up Loose Ends

Okay, for some reason last time, I wasn't able to publish all my trip photos, who here are a couple more from the trip. First, a photo of us in front of the famous Harrah's Casino on the strip. The only thing that makes Vegas affordable for us is that we don't gamble or drink - so it ends up being a pretty fun, inexpensive vacation.

And then, I visited the yarn Shop in Vegas and got this specially dyed Harrah's colorway:

Now speaking of loose ends, here is the shawl I finished for my Mom:

And here are the socks I finished just in time for the upcoming Fall - these are for Emily and they aren't supposed to match. They are "Patchwork" socks made up of several leftover sock yarns.

And my gray roots are showing even more this week - or is it my imagination? Surely hair can't grow that fast.

I've been playing "catch up" all week - trying to unpack and get back up to speed on work and home projects.

Haven't had a chance to do any crafting this week, but have been in a frenzied organizational mode - moving my summer clothes to the spare closet and bringing over my fall wardrobe into the main closet. Also sorted through a lot of old clothes this weekend and will be bringing a big donation bag to the charity shop. Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vegas Was A Blast - Return to Reality

We just returned from a vacation in Las Vegas. Lots of fun. I'm a rather strange Vegas visitor in that I don't drink or gamble. So what is there to do? Lots.

We stayed at Golden Nugget because they have some really good rates, and we rented a car, so we wouldn't be stuck downtown but would be able to go wherever we wanted to explore the city. The nightlife there on Freemont street is pretty crazy, but it's a good chance to people watch, and hearing that wonderful saxophone player, Carl Ferris, is always a treat.Carl Ferris,

Renting a car is a good idea if you're staying downtown, because that way, we were able to get around to the strip plus drive all over the city, including into exploring into some of the mountains and foothills.

We saw several shows. My favorite was MJ Live. The guy who impersonates Michael Jackson and does a whole concert in that personna was eerily like the "real thing." He doesn't lip sync, but sings and dances. I loved that show!

I also really enjoyed The Mob Attraction. It's not just a fantastic interactive museum, but has holographs that come out and talk to you, mobsters who interact with you, and it's just a blast. You are a participant, not just an observer. You can stay there and linger as long as you like, and we were there three hours. Loved it!

A visit to Las Vegas wouldn't be complete without a stop in at the local knit shops, and my favorite by far was Sin City Knits. Debbie, the owner, was originally from Kansas City - small world, eh? She recently opened this shop and it was great. Had all the best yarn, PLUS she has roving and dyed yarn in the colors of the city. So tourists like myself can pick up Harrah's roving, or Welcome to Las Vegas sock yarn! There are even dice stich markers and here's the project bag I couldn't resist. Great shop. I'll definitely pop back in there the next time I'm in Vegas.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Going Gray

I've decided to no longer color my hair. This may sound trivial but is a BIG step for me. Since I've colored my hair various shades of auburn, red, and strawberry blonde all of my adult life, it's going to feel a bit weird being gray or silver.

Growing it out will be the real pain. I'll probably end up with very long atrocious roots. But I figure that since so many people in our society have multi-colored hair, that if I pick this time to grow my hair out, it may not be as noticeable as in times past, where it was a strict "no no" in grooming terms for a woman to have noticeable roots.

Actually, it's exciting to see what my "real" color will be now. Seeing my real hair color grow in will be exciting and a bit scary at the same time. But since I'm in sales, I may not be able to have really long unsightly roots, so I may eventually have to go with a stylish wig for a while. Not thrilled about that prospect, but heh, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

There is a "Growing Gray" group on Ravelry which is really supportive for those who want to ween themselves off the bottle (the haircolor bottle) that is!

My Mom, Emmy and Bob are all turning "thumbs down" on the idea of me letting my hair grow out, but I hope they change their mind once the ugly growing in part is finished. Who knows, I may not even like it myself. Not sure yet. But if I hate it, I can always go back to coloring it whenever I get the urge to do so.

Since I've over 50 now, I just feel that it's about time I got a glimpse of my hair as it really is . . . . I'm downright curious. How does the real hair I've been hiding all these years look with the face which is starting to show some age. What would the "real me" look like? Does that make sense?

I don't want to be one of those 80 year old ladies that still has carrot top hair. And I'm noticing that many women those faces are showing more mileage than their artificially pristine hair . . . that sometimes that can be more aging than gray/silver. So this is my personal experiment and to show you that right now, I'm just at the beginning phase - here is the current photo I snapped from angle at the top of my head.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fiber U Recap

First of all, take notice that my craft room is shaping up. Crates are appearing on walls . . . . full of yummy fiber. My loom and spinning wheels are set up. And my Grandma Fernie's weavings hang above my loom.

I have a card table that can be folded up or used, depending on what projects are underway. It's nothing fancy, but it is actually becoming a usable, relaxing room and I had a chance early this morning to sit down in there and spin as well as play with my new hackle. More on that in a second.

Well, last weekend and all this week have been a total whirlwind. Once again, Luann and I went to Fiber U in Lebanon, Missouri. It is perfect place to learn how to spin, dye, weave, knit or do any of a NUMBER of crafts better. The teachers are fantastic, the vendors amazing. Best of all, in this excessive heat we've had, the event is air conditioned and in a nicely spacious civic center. So we don't have to swelter, but shop, relax, stay cool and even the concession area provides delicious, inexpensive and HEALTHY foods.

Where else but in Missouri can be find a TON of extremely nice people, nice fiber, and nice accomodations at such a reasonable price? Nowhere but here.

This year, I took three classes: Blending Fiber with a Hackle, Advanced Rigid Heddle Weaving and Making Boucle Yarn. My favorite class by FAR was the hackling one. And guess what? I came home with a wonderful hackle from Diane Wallace she sells a very affordable hackle that makes fiber blending a breeze. Granted, it looks like a Medevil torture device, but she taught us how to use it safely and I couldn't be more thrilled. After getting rid of my drumcarder last spring, I am happy to have a good way to blend fiber without a huge expense - this hackle takes up very little space in my craft room and can be put away when not in use.

Diane's class was so fun - she made it a blast! I learned to diz effectively, as well as what types of fibers work best on this hackle, and how to throw fiber on there without maiming myself. It's always important to cover the teeth/tines when not loading fiber on there. Even if you are just sitting there, you should have it covered if not actively adding stuff to it. One awkward slip, or accidental touch of the tines can be dangerous. I went to the doctor and got a tentenous shot before taking this class, believe it or not. Since I've been working with raw fiber, it's a precaution.

What amazes me each time we come home is that Luann and I get so involved in having fun that we forget to take pictures, so unfortunately, there aren't any photos of the event itself. Sorry! Next year I will try to do better.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A (Craft) Room of One's Own

I first got really into knitting in 2003, and when my craft interest expanded to spinning in 2008 and then weaving in 2011, I've expanded and broadened my interests, but also my equipment and supplies.

At first, I purchased a lot of commercial yarn, but in recent years, since I started to spin, making my OWN yarn is what has given me way more satisfaction and pride in my work than anything else. So the wheels, spindles, looms, not to mention fibers etc. have been growing in closets, spaces, and areas all over the house. In fact, my family sometimes rightfully comments that my crafty stuff has taken over spaces in nearly every room of the house. But I've had no centralized place to keep it all, not to mention work with it in an easy to access place. I longed for a pleasant, calm place to just hang out and find my tools in a neat, organized and pleasant central place.

So in the past year, I've been destashing stuff I don't really love or want to work with, and focusing in on the things that are more of my craft focus. And I'm at a stage in life where I have space to have my own craft room. So during the past two weeks, we've been clearing out the guest room to make way for a craft room of my very own!

Isn't that great? I'll still have a cute little twin size daybed for sitting on and for a guest to visit. But I finally have a room just for my craft stuff and I'm so excited! We painted the room a beautiful light shade called "Lavendar Mist." Then we bought a rug on sale and things are slowly but surely coming together in there. Yay!

I'll post a photo when I have everything set up. It's still a process, but an exciting one. Eventually, we want to sort, organize and make every room of our home more useable.

Friday, June 01, 2012

I'm Still Here . . . . Slowly Spinning, Knitting and Hanging Around

Wow, Blogger has totally changed their format. I've been avoiding getting back on here and figuring it out for a month because I wasn't sure that I still knew how to use it with all the changes and didn't want to take the time to learn it. I'm too busy learning some other new software at work and sometimes learning one more thing is just too much. Glad I finally bit the bullet and got on here, though. Like most things in life, it doesn't seem as bad as imagined. I am currently working on a shawl for my Mom - boy, it's taking forever. I'm getting so sick of it, but I think she will like it. There are all shades of green, some handspun and some glitzy commercial yarns.
Also working on some Patchwork Socks using some Blackthorn DP needles - love those. They are made from carbonated steel, I believe? I am getting a kick out of using up a bunch of different sock yarn and making my own funky socks. There is a Patchwork sock knitalong going on right now over on Ravelry.
It occurred to me that . . . do I even need to blog anymore, or is it an outmoded form of communication? I've decided to continue, because I get a real satisfaction not only in communicating this way - but it's an electronic journal, a way of keeping in touch with others, and myself, without getting overly personal or introspective. Hopefully you all still occasionally enjoy hearing from me . . . and as long as I enjoy it, I will probably continue. I'm not into Facebook, so this is my way of reaching out. Now I'm going to try to publish this and see how it works.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Franklin Was Here

Every two years, our Sunflower Knitter's Guild has a big knitting event - conference, vendors, classes and all-round fun event called "Knitting in the Heartland." This year we were thrilled to bring in Franklin Habit, whom I have long admired in reading his blog.

Well his classes filled so fast that I only managed to get into one of them, which was "Lace Edgings" but I had the privilege of hearing his keynote address on Friday night as well. He is really into knitting and deciphering historical knitting patterns. As he pointed out, what other place but an event like "Knitting in the Heartland" could a group be held spellbound on a Friday night, listening to tales about nupps and how to fix forgotten yarnovers?

He brought along his knitted Victorian sleeping cap, and Pineapple bag. Things that if anyone else had pulled out of their knitting bag, I would have walked away shaking my head and thinking "o-k-a-y" . . . . but with him, he is so charismatic that he makes you want to go immediately download the pattern. And I did . . . . but I didn't get so far as actually pulling the yarn from my stash and casting on. No. Why? Because I was inspired by so many other projects that people at the event were wearing that I might have more immediate ability to replicate and actually wear. But still, Franklin inspires, is fascinating and greatly expands one's knowledge, curiousity, and he's absolutely funny and brilliant in that zany sort of way that is always refreshing. Being inspired by him leads me to get off the beaten knitting track and try some different things than I normally wouldn't consider.

The class on Lace Edgings was amazing. I was so rusty on lace knitting that I forgot how to read a chart, so the start of the class was rocky for me, but I just watched my Saundra sitting next to me, and eventually caught on to most of it. All I can say is "wow!" Franklin really knows how to take a plain baby sweater or bonnet . . . and jazz it up with some lace embellishments.

Taking this class caused me to hanker, once again, to read Nancy Wiseman's book called, "Lace in the Attic" . . . . a beloved notebook of Victorian lace edgings that she was given and transcribed into modern day instructions. Reading this book is any knitter's fantasy . . . of finding an old knitting journal in a historical home's attic . . . . and then actually sitting down and deciphering the stitches . . . (heavy sigh).

But all the talk of lace this weekend is drawing me even more to attempt the Aeolian Shawl that I've had in my knitting queue for 3 years and I just keep putting off making it. But at the vendor market, I got this lovely seashell colored silk from a vendor called Lost in the City that is luring me to try lace once again. It's been too long.

Oh shoot, do I really have to go to work tomorrow? Much rather stay home, start a lace shawl while listening to a Jane Austin novel on Audiobook.

Oh well , back to reality. At least the weekend was idyllic.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Trying Some New Stuff - Three Projects Started

Well, after finishing a big project like my Garter Stitch Cardigan, I always feel a bit at "loose ends" especially since that project involved spinning AND knitting together.

It took me a few weeks to get my craft mojo back and to focus enough on what I want to do next. Those "wannas" turn out to be not one but THREE projects.

My trip to Jeff City and my class with Carol Rhoades on Shetland Spinning for Fair Isle Knitting made me want to knit . . . . well, you guessed it, Fair Isle. Particularly the Fair Isle Vest that I've been wanting to knit for several years. But after being inspired by Carol's carding and spinning lessons, I want to dye, card, spin and knit the cardy, so that one may not be an immediate "get it done fast" project.

So what to do with my needles in the meantime? Well, I got that figured out today. Again, I want to knit with handspun and dyed yarn . . . and I've been wanting to make a shawl for my Mom in green, so this weekend, I started gathering up on green yarns I've spun, little bits and bobs of spinning experiments I've done these past couple of years. And I will probably need to dye and spin even more. But I've found the perfect pattern to make - the Spinner's Simple Shawl. I will post more on it later and get some pictures up once I have a chance.

Finally, the third project is one for my 24" Kromski Harp loom. I wanted to warp that thing and make a vest -- maybe even try to make the fabric and then sew it up. Am I getting overzealous? Only time and effort will tell. But I've warped the loom with some beautiful pink Cherry Hill yarn my Mom bought and stashbusted by giving it to me a couple of years ago. It's called "Cherry Blosom." Beautiful multi shades of pink! Yum. I am both warping and wefting with this lovely stuff and hope to come up with something wearable in the end. It would be a real tragedy if I goofed up this project because the yarn is nearly as beautiful as the blossoms it is named after.

Well, it's been a busy relaxing and crafting weekend. Happy Easter everyone! I'll write later about my progress on these new projects.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My New Matchless . . . .

Like I said last time, I really REALLY wanted a Schacht Matchless wheel and so . . . . .

within a week, less than a week actually . . . . upon my return from the retreat, I sold my Merlin Tree Roadbug travel wheel, my Fancy Kitten drum carder and my 7' triloom to get this. I am thrilled.

It's been a satisfying end to a busy week. But I'm glad I made the switch. While I will miss my Rhoda the Roadbug, I didn't use the drum carder enough to justify keeping it. I may eventually replace the drum carder, but the tri-loom and I just weren't hitting it off at all. Since I am NOT a detail person, that triloom was driving me crazy. I like rigid heddle weaving much better. And so . . . my equipment went to excellent homes and will bring much joy to the new owners, while I am pleased as punch to have my new wheel. I wanted to get this wheel before they made the changes . . .and raised their prices. Good trade all around. I wish all life changes could be arranged this easily.

Jefferson City Fiber Fair - Catch Up Post

Oh gosh, each year it comes . . . and each year it goes . . . and each year I come back with my head brimming full of ideas, new favorite patterns, new friends and renewed acquaintances. The Jefferson City Fiber Fair didn't disappoint.

My friend Luann and I went together and met our friend Sue there. It seems to get better and better each time we attend. This year, our classes were: Rigid Heddle with Jenny Senott (spelling?) and we have a Spinning Shetland class with the acclaimed Carol Rhoades from Spin Off Magazine. Both were absolutely wonderful classes. We learned SO much.

One thing it always does, too, unfortunately, is expose me to spinning wheels and equipment that I WISH I had, and the latest is the Schacht Matchless. Ahh . . . . that wheel is my "to die for" wheel. And before I even left the retreat this year, I already was mentally cataloging which of my equipment I could sell on Ravelry to get a Matchless. Especially when I heard that they were soon raising their prices . . . and changing some aspects of the wheel. Hmmmm. More later on that!

This year, in addition to seeing my friends, I always want to wear a newly minted spun or knit item - and this year was no different. I finished JUST IN TIME, the Garter Stitch Cardigan. This is a 3 ply sweater that I first spun then knit, and for once, I got the gauge/sizing right! I purposely made it loose enough to cover my bust and large stomach and hips. This turned out really well. It was heavy, more like a coat than a sweater, but that is what I was trying to create. Also, like past years, I finished this project just in time for Spring to arrive and so this new addition to my wardrobe will have to go in the closet until next Fall, but there's a real feeling of satisfaction knowing I created this garment myself and much to look forward to for future wearing.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year - Wonderful Leap We Made

It's leap day - the day that only comes around every four years. Today I had a WONDERFUL day. I found out that my husband is going to be able to return to Missouri and live with us again! He's been commuting back and forth, and mainly being gone all this year. But he's coming back. And he didn't have to even change jobs. He loves his job and they love him, so they are allowing him to work from home. I feel like a prayer has been answered.

So happy. If leap year days are this lucky, I wish they'd come every year . . . but this one is special.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Being Content with What I Have and What I Can Do

You know, I didn't undertake a word/theme this new year. And while goal-oriented, I'm managing to reach work goals, but because my work is both so emotionally rewarding and so demanding right now, I'm giving myself a break on the personal goals. The problem is, my work is EMOTIONALLY rewarding, but not financially (yet). I'm hoping this improve for us financially eventually . . . . but for right now, our family is broke because of living separately due to the bad economy. So we're trying to dog paddle . . . keep our heads above water.

Because of all the financial and family stress, and so much of our lives out of our control, I'm focusing on using my personal time to relax, enjoy and unwind. For once, I'm giving myself a bit of freedom and slack to just BE during my limited time off. Also am relieved that the spinning wheel and weaving equipment mode that haunted me last year has eased off quite a bit in the past 5-6 months, largely because I no longer have the chance to obsess about new equipment, and no longer have the time or money to pursue the perfect wheel or loom. Instead, I'm just enjoying what I have and appreciating every spare moment I have to do crafts of any kind.

The spinning is still the most enjoyable thing in the world! I no longer even PRETEND I'll finish a dozen projects in a year. Heck, I'll be happy to finish one or two completed projects the whole year of 2012 -- the current project is a sweater from my handspun yarn. But even if I never finish it, just spinning and knitting on it has been an utter joy. It doesn't get any better than that - just spin, knit, admire and breathe deep.