Monday, December 3, 2012

Frogging in the Dark

As part of my 31 Days of Stash Burning, I came across 2 little balls of Knit Picks Comfy Worsted, one in whisker (silver) & one in peony.  We have friends who just discovered that they are having a little girl this coming May & immediately thought - baby sleep sack!  I love to knit/crochet sleep sacks, baby bags, whatever you call them & I have a slew of them in my Ravelry gallery. And from the moms & dads who’ve received them, they love them, too, so this project is a win-win.
My FIL was involved with a community group performing the Messiah last night.  This group was comprised of singers from several different area churches, a small orchestra and they brought in professional soloists.  As it turned out, the bass soloist was a friend from my days singing at ONU - a fabulous baritone.  Between the church friends singing & knowing I would enjoy at least one of the soloists, the hubs & I put it on the calendar.
Knowing that I had a few hours of sitting ahead of me and being inspired to do more KIP (knitting in public), I thought - baby sleep sack! Now! So I rewound the balls from my stash (as they had gotten quite sloppy sitting in my worsted weight bin which should have been my first warning sign), grabbed my size 8 circs, and hopped in the car.  I’ve used KP Comfy before for a few baby projects and have always been really happy with the outcome.  One of my favorite ones can be seen here.
When I cast on, I remarked to the hubs that this yarn felt very slick, more than I remembered.  I joined in the round & finished one row before they dimmed the lights for the performance.  Having been a musician for so long, I’ve sung the Messiah several times and could sing most of the choruses in my sleep.  The sheen of the yarn, I thought, was going to come in handy, as I knit my way through the first few aria/chorus combinations.  I looked down between two numbers and realized there was almost a half an inch gap at the beginning of every row.  The culprit?  The yarn was so slick that it slipped apart while I carried the color up the inside of the work. WHAT?!  My tension is so tight when I knit that I normally go up 2 needle sizes, and sometimes go up a yarn size to make gauge without knitting a mesh garment.  I’ve /never/ had something like this happen.  So I slid my circ out of the work, reposted before the first color change & frogged about 4 inches of knitting, accompanied by Handel’s Pastoral.  It could have been worse.
I succeeded in reposting, which I hadn’t done before; normally I just pull the needles out, frog & whine.  But since it’s inappropriate to whine during the Messiah (much like it’s inappropriate to whistle or hum along with the soloists or conduct the orchestra from their chair, but that’s for a different blog post), I reposted and tried again.  When I realized that there was no way that I could twist & carry my other color & keep enough tension, I calmly decided to commit a knitting sin: I tied knots.  Knots are a sacrilege among knitters, as they inhibit the natural movement of the yarn while you’re wearing the garment.  Being as I don’t want little baby fingers getting stuck in these holes, the yarn doesn’t need to move/stretch/flex, etc.  I happily knitted & knotted my way through the second half.  
When I arrived home, I decided to let the sack sit & see if the knots will hold. If they hold, great.  If they don’t, I’ll have to frog again, find another yarn that will work for this baby gift & attempt to find different project for the slickest batch of Comfy ever produced.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


"Mom, you don’t need to look at your Ravelry queue when we could go for a walk."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Crash & Burn (my stash)

I’ve been on a Tumblr hiatus recently. Honestly, I kinda forgot I had one. It’s not personal, Tumblr. It’s not my fault. We’re gonna blame it on the concussion.
At the end of September, I was in a car accident. Everyone walked away, which was great. The cars were replaced (I was a passenger, so that wasn’t my hassle to deal with). I did learn the hard way that you can get one hell of a concussion and never lose consciousness.
Said concussion led to all the usual unsavory side effects, as well as lots of drama with my new employer. Hopefully that’s behind us now. I just returned to working full days in the office before Thanksgiving, and those are still mentally & emotionally exhausting. It could have been worse, though.
The challenge with an injury like this is that you look healthy. Physically, I looked fine. Within a week or two, I was interacting with people like normal. Only people who spent extended amounts of time with me still noticed that I wasn’t myself. The hubs attributes this to ‘a highly refined set of coping skills.’ (I’m taking it as a compliment.) Because I ‘seemed’ okay, people didn’t understand that mentally, I was still struggling. I’m still not sleeping all that well & the frequent headaches now that I’m back at work are beyond old. I’m just kind of accepting it as my new normal and dealing the best that I can.
The hardest part of this whole experience was not being able to be productive. It’s annoying when physically you feel okay, but mentally, you don’t even trust yourself to follow directions on a recipe. I messed up even the most basic things for a while (who really needs deodorant every day? Um, this girl…) I’ve been blessed with smarts and common sense and for the first time, things that made sense when I first thought them weren’t right. And while I knew they weren’t right, I couldn’t figure out what was not right about them. Pair all that with the common hormonal imbalance that can follow a concussion (literally, your endocrine system can get knocked out of adjustment) and you’ve got a recipe for a mild depressive episode.  I’ve resisted, but it’s been a true challenge.
Not being able to do anything creative didn't help the mental challenge at all. Fairly quickly, the hubs’ mom (who is a doctor) suggested that I do some knitting. Just nothing too crazy. What fellow knitters would call ‘TV knitting’, meaning that you can knit while looking at the TV, not looking down watching & counting every stitch. Thank goodness I listened. The muscle memory kicked in, it didn’t cause a headache & I was accomplishing something every day. Knitting saved my mental state!
Now that things are returning to quasi-normal, the knitting has kicked back into gear. I won’t be doing much gift knitting this year, as I’m disastrously behind schedule. Since I’m not worried about gifts, I’m deeming December as 31 Days of Stash Burning. I’m scouring Ravelry looking for projects that I can bust out in a relatively short amount of time (while of course still working on a sweater or two in the background) with the smaller lots of yarn in my stash.
December will be a month of cowls, shawls, maybe some lace, mittens, gloves and socks. Yes, @Prajna Mama, socks. I’ve got lots of things queued up on Ravelry. I’ll be tagging things finished during this binge #31DaysofStashBurning & I’m rearing to go!! All these 1 & 2 skein yarns, bought with an idea but never quite coming to fruition or bought on an impulse & the justification that I’ll find the perfect project for this lovely little yarn, be gone!!
Besides, I have to make room for all the yarn I bought on Cyber Monday. :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dog Shaming

It was this or take her back to the pound while the hubs was at work…




Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coming undone

I made a shawl a few years ago from a single skein of yarn that was over 700 yards long (no knots! It was incredible!!). I loved the colors in the hank. I loved the texture of the yarn. I loved that I found a pattern that I could customize and use every last bit of this delicious find from a LYS. Wool, silk & bamboo: they called it Great Wall. It was perfect.
Until I finished it. The way the crochet worked up, it felt like it sucked the colors right out of the yarn. There was no lovely color pooling. There was no contrast. It was just a large blah thing that I had trouble pairing with any clothes I owned or could find at any store. Such high expectations! And then… So much time in the drawer. Here is the finished product.
So today, I did a sacrilegious thing.
Today, I found the weaved-in final end and carefully extracted it. I untied the slip knot that secured this giant granny triangle. And then I frogged the entire thing. All 700 yards. The hubs helped me wind it onto my swift, where it was bound into a hank. I submerged the whole lot of it in a sink full of cool water & soak and watched as all that crocheting melted away.
This is kind of a big deal. I rarely revisit things in my life that are finished. Whether it is a shawl or a project or a time in my life where you can’t go home again, I don’t like to go back. Sometimes it is painful, sometimes it is a reminder of a past failure, sometimes it’s just unpleasant to dwell there. With projects, I’ll give them away or donate them. Most of the time, I let the past lie in the past. I used to think that the fact that it was over was enough reason never to look back. Maybe that was hasty of me. Maybe before dismissing, I should reevaluate the raw quality of what I’m looking at. Determine if it is worth revisiting. Eventually, there will be something so good, it’s worth looking back at & putting time into again.
Hopefully, sometime after this yarn has unkinked, dried and been rewound, I can make something of this beautiful pile of fiber. When you have something raw that’s this beautiful, you can’t let it exist being mediocre.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Homemade remedy for upset dog bellies!

Our new-found remedy for dogs with upset bellies! 

After an episode of vomiting, feed them:
  • First 24 hours: beef or chicken stock or broth. We froze beef broth into ice cube trays, as our dogs love ice cubs anyway!
  • Second 24 hours: plain yogurt. We used whole yogurt for the extra fat. 
  • Third 24 hours: 1 part yogurt, 1 part normal food

This got our younger rescue back to normal without starving her!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I’m having a secret affair…

…and strangely, the hubs totally gets it. I mean, let’s be honest - he can’t do all the things that this new love can for me. We have come to an agreement and we’re both okay with things.
Now that I’ve found it, life just wouldn’t be the same without tea tree oil.
Sorry I couldn’t resist. I know, I know… But at our house, it’s no longer ‘Put some Windex on it’ and it’s not a joke. It’s ‘Put some tea tree oil on it’ and it usually works!!
Infected cuticle? Not anymore.
Cut you want to cleanse? Doesn’t even sting.
Pimple you want to nip in the bud? Past history.
Counters need disinfecting? Done.
Need a boost in your fabric softener? Easily.
A yucky toenail that needs some help? Slather it on. (I haven’t tried this, but I’ve heard/seen so many accounts, I’d try it!)
We have found so many uses for tea tree oil and have yet to be disappointed!

A quick search on Google or Pinterest will turn up a slew of uses for tea tree oil & recipes for using it. It has antiseptic & anti-fungal properties and is powerful even when diluted.
Most recently, I read that hot spots on dogs can be treated with a simple tea tree oil spray. And we just found a hot spot on poor Ellie dog’s front leg. I immediately went for the melaleuca! It must be itching less, as she’s been licking and fussing over it much less.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When did sexting become so mainstream?

This is the fifth encouragement of sexting between married couples I’ve seen in the last few weeks. Have creative communication & class vacated all relationships now? I wouldn’t really call sexting creative, and I’m pretty sure no one would argue it’s classy.
If you have to get the idea to ‘sext’ from a magazine, perhaps it’s not really your thing…

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What the what?


Subject line reads: It’s been 6 months since your wedding…
And now, I need a baby website?!
Are you kidding me? My sole purpose in life is not to become a wife so that I can become an incubator. Perhaps we are missing the concept of working on and establishing our relationships before we introduce another person into them?

Friday, April 6, 2012

A tale of divine and canine love

After my divorce, people frequently asked if I was going to get remarried. That always confused me and seemed a little too personal; not coincidentally, that question always came from those who had never married or those who were happily married. My co-workers and acquaintances who had experienced a divorce never asked future questions, only those about the present; as for the future, they spoke in statements such as, “you will get through this”; “you will come out of this a stronger person than you went in.” My college best friend’s parents, who lived around the corner, were very supportive; her mother, who had also been divorced before she found her happily ever after, regularly told me, “I have faith that some day you’ll meet your Joe.” (Joe is my best friend’s father, the only husband who treated her as a husband should, and an all-around great guy.). I regularly quipped that I would be lucky to find a husband who would hold a job & help pay bills instead of accumulate them.
I didn’t end a marriage with the purpose of starting a new relationship immediately, so the concept of a new marriage in the midst of my failed one seemed a bit rash. However, people just kept asking that insensitive question, so I had to find an answer to it. Preferably one that would diffuse the tension of such a traumatic experience in my life with some humor and hopefully sensitively send the message that they may have asked a question that was too personal.
The answer that evolved was, “I don’t plan to marry again unless I find a guy who is just as excited to see my eyes flutter open in the morning and as happy to see me walk through the door in the evening as my dog.” Ellie, my now 5 year old golden retriever-border collie rescue, is about as exuberant a greeter as you’ll ever meet. Ever since my divorce, she has curled up with me each night and never ceases to wag her tail and attempt to get a kiss in each morning when I stir.
Think about it - who wouldn’t want a spouse who:
-expresses joy in your very existence
-will stay by your side, even when you cry, snap at them, unnecessarily scold them, unintentionally take your emotions out on them
-will snuggle up to you when you are having a tough day
-puts your needs before their own
-forgives unquestioningly
-lives in the moment
-loves unconditionally
If Ellie had opposable thumbs, she’d be the perfect spouse! All she needs is her two meals a day, water, and if you take her for a walk, she’s your best friend for life.
4 years later, I am happy to have married a man who meets (most of) the qualities on that list (nearly) all the time. Without a stitch of makeup, hair in a ponytail, wearing a worn-out t shirt, or done up to the 9s, he looks at me like I’m the only girl in the room. But I’ve come to realize that it may not be possible to have a spouse who is as forgiving as my Ellie-dog. Or who loves me completely even as I’m scolding her for something she didn’t intend to do. Or who comes back to me as eagerly after I’ve pushed her away.
I don’t think spouses are capable of that. And, in the last year, I have come to think they aren’t supposed to be. Should we strive for that kind of selfless love in our marriages? Absolutely. Should we rely on that from our spouse? Seems a bit of an unrealistic expectation to me.
I don’t think God had spouses in mind to do that job. (He may have put dogs on the earth to remind us of the end goal; I wouldn’t put that past God’s sense of humor for a heartbeat.) We all fail, every day, and part of that failure will be failing each other. It happens. But as I look up on the list of things that my little rescue dog does on a daily basis, just because I welcomed her into my home, I see the same list of things that God has done for us since we came into being.
Why is it so hard for us to accept that God truly delights in our existence? Why wouldn’t He rejoice in another day that we are alive on this earth? I’m just as guilty of it as the next girl, probably worse. Why is it so more believable that my dog loves me unconditionally than to accept and embrace the love of the God who made me?
Yes, He made me strong, and sassy; quick-witted and wise; quick to laugh and quick to cut to the quick of the matter in the midst of chaos. He gave me these gifts that have made me who I am. After answering all those awkward questions the last few years, I feel that I know myself better than I ever have. Even in that confidence, I still feel unsure and unable to accept that gift.
Maybe the next time Ellie wags at me and plants a wet one on my barely conscious cheek, I’ll consider that she’s just relaying a divine message.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

True leadership

Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, on what he views as the role of a leader.
1. The first role of a leader is to determine the truth, not what you want the truth to be.
2. Once you have a clear picture of reality, you have to work with your team to figure out what the plan is going forward.
3. A good leader takes the time to explain why others should support the plan.
4. Giving people the resources to execute the plan will make sure it’s successful.
5. After progress is made, you have to go back to the beginning, evaluate the situation again and adjust.
I’d love to work for this guy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Repurposing

Well, since I’m a fan of repurposing, I feel obligated to tell you that I’ve decided to repurpose this blog. Or revive it. Or broaden it a bit. Basically, I don’t know what I’m doing here!
New background. New title. Hopefully, a new post more than once every 6 months.
More on all that later. Now I have to go teach the hubs how to make grilled cheese in a skillet.