Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Back to hookin' it...

I recently had a request for a baby set - this adorable Minnie Mouse costume for a baby who will be named Minnie, in honor of one of her grandmothers.  The expectant mother found the item on etsy, but then saw that it was a pattern purchase link, not a link to purchase the set.  And that's why I busted out my crochet hooks & used my weekly Jo-Ann's coupon load on acrylic.

This pattern is very reasonable (only $3.99) and is simple & straightforward.  I worked up most of this project over a weekend.  There is a bit of finishing involved with the polka dots, but if you really hate sewing, the polka dots are optional.

Hopefully, this will make the new momma-to-be happy & provide some super cute newborn photos!

The other request was a few sleep sacks with chevron patterning.  I scoured Ravelry for patterns with chevrons/zig-zags.  I found a lot of afghans, baby blankets, and hats.  Nothing in the round, except color work patterns, which don't really have that nice v shape you want in a chevron.  I tried to adapt a few things, but nothing really worked.  So I had to improvise and this is what I got: Minnie's Chevron Sacks.  I'll do an extended post with more pictures & the pattern later.

Happy hooking!

Monday, December 30, 2013

3 Things - 12/30

Things I like:
1.  My Oats cowl, made from Knit Picks City Tweed.  So warm & toasty!
2.  The Office on Netflix
3.  York Peppermint Patties

Things I dislike:
1.  Acrylic yarn with no twist
2.  Black acrylic yarn with no twist
3.  No matter how many times I have crocheted things with a zig zag stitch, I still manage to mess it up.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Inaugural Post

New year (almost).  New blog.

I've been flush with ideas lately that won't let me rest, and while I love scrolling through Tumblr if I'm bored and happen to be without a knitting project, it's just not conducive to posting full thoughts.  If you want memes and gifs, hurry on over there by all means!

When thinking of what to call this new blog, I kept thinking of names that I liked of other blogs, podcasts, etc. for inspiration.  Really, there can only be one Yarn Harlot (and who can compete with Stephanie? Honestly?).  I don't have a business I'm trying to promote here, so I don't have a branding consistency to consider.  I don't have a partner in crime, so this title could be something to reflect me.  Reflect only me and where I am right now, but also grow with me in the future.

I tried several ways to incorporate the reason I'm fond of sharing when asked why I knit: I knit so I don't kill people.  That seemed a little harsh, since there wouldn't be a grin delivered along with the explanation. I tried to fuse music (my first love & professional background) and knitting, but nothing was resonating with me (pun intended).  I almost put off this post for another day, convinced if I couldn't name a blog, I didn't have anything worth sharing in the first place.

Then I found this quote from the incomparable Elizabeth Zimmerman - "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises."

That was it.  That was what I had been doing for years.  Through heartache & struggle, through journeys both physical & emotional, through all kinds of waiting, I had knit on.  And while this blog will primarily be about knitting, I can't promise there won't be doses of those other aspects, too.  You take your knitting with you out into your life and some of your life is bound to stick with your knitting when you bring it back.

Here's to a new year & new WIPs!  Aren't we all WIPs, when it comes down to it?

Side note: I'll be looking for a way to move my archive posts into this new space.  Please forgive me if that gets a bit wonky.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Possession Purging - It feels so good

I realize that the word ‘purge’ has a connotation, and not necessarily a positive one. Honestly, it gets a bad rap.
Dictionary.com defines the verb this way:
purge: verb, 1. to rid of whatever is impure or undesirable; cleanse; purify. 2. to rid, clear or free (from). 3. to clear of imputed guilt or ritual uncleanliness. 4. to clear away or wipe out legally (an offense, etc.) by atonement or other suitable action. 5. to remove by cleansing or purifying (often followed by away, off or out).
When you read the definition, purging doesn’t sound half bad.  In fact, it sounds almost essential.  How many rituals do we have in our society to help us cleanse, purify, clear or remove things from our lives?  From our homes, our schedules, our closets, our bodies, our minds?  The occasional purge, or regularly scheduled one if you’re so inclined, isn’t just healthy, but necessary, I think.
As of this spring, I have been out of college for 10 years.  (Wow, the acknowledgement that I’m old is for another post.)  In that time, I’ve lived in 4 cities, in 3 apartments & 2 houses.  I’ve been married, divorced and remarried and I’ve changed careers from my original college (and grad school) major area of study to a completely new field.  Needless to say, this has been quite a decade.  The best thing about moving about every two years (one of those moves was just across town, and done in whirlwind time, so it doesn’t completely count) is that every time I have to pack, I have the opportunity to purge.  
I didn’t get that at first.  I filled my first two-bedroom townhouse with everything my parents insisted could no longer live at their house.  Things from college, from childhood, gifts, acquisitions & splurges from my first ‘real’ job with a salary.  I amassed quite a collection of CDs, DVDs, scrapbooking supplies, books and clothes.  Oh my, the clothes.  I don’t think I threw out/donated a single piece of clothing from freshman year of high school through the end of college.  From time to time, my college girlfriends & I would shop in each other’s closets, but that was rare.  I had all kinds of clothes.  Fat clothes. Skinny clothes.  Comfy clothes.  Dressy casual for work clothes.  Dressy clothes for concerts.  Formal dresses for recitals.  And I needed them all, don’t you know?  I would fit back into those jeans - they were so comfy sophomore year.  I love that t shirt - I bought it with my girls on tour.  I will totally never have a good place to wear that little black top again, but wow, I looked awesome in it when we went out in Cali… Rationalization ad nauseum.
When it came time to move my ex-husband’s things into my, er, our apartment, I had to make room.  I did so begrudgingly, but somewhat cheerfully found that my things could just be compacted and more effectively stored than they had been previously.  It wasn’t until our marriage had deteriorated, I had been laid off from my job, and not being able to maintain our first house on my own, I realized that my two cats, our puppy & I were going to have to move into a much smaller apartment and I had to make it livable.
Despite my love of having things, I hated feeling crowded.  All of my things were organized & efficiently packed & stored away for future use. But then I realized that there were things that I hadn’t used, worn or even seen in the two years since my last move.  In that raw emotional place of losing all my normalcy & panicking that I would never be able to keep all these things, I realized that I didn’t need them.
I ruthlessly went through my closets & drawers, all my carefully contrived organization systems, and I purged.  I purged things that I didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t use, gifts kept out of obligation, things I wasn’t totally in love with and didn’t feel compelled to move several hours away.  I offered up household things & clothes to friends, gave bags of stuffed animals to their kids, and donated anything people didn’t have interest in.
That’s when it hit me:  I shouldn’t mourn losing all my things; I should be grateful that I was blessed enough to acquire them in the first place.  And now that I no longer need these items, for whatever the reason, I can pass that blessing on to someone who needs them.  Because no matter how much I felt I was losing, there is always someone who has less.
Since that realization, I have grown to love purging.  I find a good book (on the rare occasions that I buy a hard copy in the era of the nook - usually during moments of weakness at Half-Price Books) and I happily give it to someone when I recommend it.  When the seasons change, I look at the items in my closet & do an honest evaluation of which items don’t fit to my liking or haven’t been worn during that season.  Unless it’s something hand-made or something very difficult to replace, it’s gone. 
I am a serious proponent of the What Not To Wear mentality: If an item doesn’t make you feel good when you wear it, you shouldn’t take up space in your closet with it.   It goes in the ‘trash’ or ‘rags’ pile or it goes in a bag to go to the Salvation Army, Kidney Foundations, or the donation bins at our church that go to one of Columbus’s homeless shelters.  Not only does this give me more room to effectively use and find the things I still have, but I’m finding myself wearing things out/using things up for the first time.  And it feels good.  
You know what else feels good? Giving yourself permission to let go.  Clothes that are far too small, that remind you what you used to look like, and, instead of inspiring you to go for a hike or hit a yoga class, it makes you shameful - I have no room for that, emotionally or spatially.  Boxes of files from that first career that brought you lots of joy & wonderful relationships, but also years of struggle, hurt & paranoia - those pages only tie you to the pain you have already endured.  Time to sift through the files, pull the truly positive things that you choose to keep (I found a small mountain of cards, pictures & hand-written notes in there that I won’t part with), and send the rest to a shred bin somewhere.  Piles of textbooks and binders of class notes: Half-Price Books or bust.  Materials that are still perfectly good, but no longer of any use to me: gifted to friends who are still in the trenches.  Completely contrived, political, CYA documentation from an arena I will never choose to re-enter: gone.  
It’s like losing 20 pounds in 2 hours & SO worth it.  It feels SO good to purge.  
It’s not about what you’re losing - it’s about the space you are leaving open for God to fill with someone, something, some experience that will make you better, stronger, happier or healthier than you could be while you’re clinging to all that /stuff/.

*reposted from original location

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Frankincense for the Baby

Frankincense is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is wonderful for relieving the pain associated with ear infections. 
So, the wise men really knew what they were doing when they brought frankincense to baby Jesus - they knew that babies get ear infections, too, even when you’re divine.

Sometimes you’re Jonah, sometimes you’re the whale…

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a trend in my life: I feel like I know where God is leading me, I follow, and when I get there, it sucks. Not like, oh, today kinda sucked. Like, it’s been months and 3-4 days out of 5 have sucked. I found myself starting to question whether God had ever led me anywhere. If I was imagining things. If I had completely missed God’s purpose for my life. Because from where I was standing, I hadn’t accomplished much & 30 years was a long time to still be clueless as to my purpose. Or His purpose for me. For someone like me who has never had faith in spades, this wasn’t the greatest realization.
Anyone who has spent time in Sunday school, or attended a baby shower of someone who has, you’ve probably seen/heard this verse in a card, on a plaque, embroidered in a sampler: Jeremiah 29:11, ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares The Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (NIV)
Or from The Message (cause I’m digging that lately): “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
Knowing that God has a plan is awesome. But if you’re a dot your i-cross your t sort of person (like I am, for better or worse), that’s often not quite good enough. If you go too long without a plan, the fear sets in that maybe there isn’t a plan (which we know isn’t the case - see above). Or maybe there was and you missed it. Maybe you got it wrong (*gasp*). So I’d spent the better part of my adult life convinced that I’d gotten it wrong.
Or maybe I was expecting something more than God had promised.
If you re-read that verse, or the whole passage for that matter, God never says that you’ll get to know the whole plan. Or any of the details necessarily. Just that He has a plan, and if we seek Him, He will find us. Even when we are found, there is no promise of happiness, only communion. There isn’t anything that indicates that God’s plans for us won’t have challenges. Or that others will play along with those plans - don’t forget there’s a human element of free will that can’t be overlooked in situations that involve other people. And if we’re being honest, what situation doesn’t involve other people?
The Bible is full of situations where God makes something good out of something less than stellar. But those situations aren’t without a struggle. Which brings me to Jonah. We all know the story. God gave Jonah a mission; Jonah wasn’t feeling amenable to God’s plan; Jonah hopped the wrong ship & almost killed everyone until he convinced the crew to throw him overboard; Jonah was swallowed by a whale & spent 3 days in the belly of the whale learning his lesson; the whale vomits Jonah up on the shore; Jonah carries out God’s plan after all. The lesson is obvious if you’re Jonah, or you’re in a Jonah-like state of mind: when God calls you out on a mission, you don’t negotiate. You follow His plan.
But I think there’s a lesson to be learned from the whale here, too. Certainly the whale played a part in this larger-than-life object lesson. Whales don’t normally eat people. And while I understand they do regularly throw up on the shore (apparently, whale vomit is valuable stuff & is a common ingredient in many fine fragrances - eww), I’m fairly certain that whales don’t normally keep undigested anything in their belly for 3 days just to vomit it up whole again.
Imagine the compulsion to eat a person, when you normally strain plankton all day. That’s just weird, God.
Imagine how uncomfortable it was to have a cranky, panicky, overly dramatic Hebrew man in your belly for 3 days. (Jonah is a short book - and wow, is he a drama queen! Read it - you’ll see.) This is uncomfortable, God.
Imagine how out of his element this great fish must have been, swallowing, holding and then vomiting a person out of his belly. Shouldn’t this make more sense & be more harmonious if I’m doing what you asked, God?
I think there are many times that we expect things to be normal, comfortable, happy & harmonious if we’re following God’s plan. After all, He laid it out for us, right? That’s what Jeremiah told us. But after years of questioning whether I had ever gotten a glimpse of God’s plan, I realized God never promised any of those things. He promised that we would be on this journey together and any fringe benefit is purely that.
Sometimes you’re Jonah, and sometimes you’re the whale.
It is easy to talk about the suffering & sacrifice of the historic figures in the Bible. Many of them struggled, toiled, were persecuted, all for following God’s plan. The apostle Paul comes to mind. Following God’s plan didn’t do wonders for his life from an outside perspective, but think of all the churches he planted & the believers who heard God’s message because of Paul’s diligence. Maybe Paul was like the whale.
During a conversation with my husband the other day, he encouraged me by telling me to think of all the positive impact I may have had on those around me, just by being where God wanted me to be. I countered that that was pretty hard to judge; my memories focused on the challenges that I faced during a specific time in my life. He pointed out how many people I still maintain relationships with, on any level, who I met during that time, and how highly they speak of me to him. I’m not so vain as to compare myself to the Apostle Paul, but just maybe I was kind of like the whale in that situation, too. It was uncomfortable, taxing, exhausting, difficult and certainly, I could see no greater plan in that moment. Unless my purpose for being where I was at that time, in that place, was for someone else, not myself.
God has a plan for each of us; one that may be revealed in strange ways and probably won’t make perfect sense to us until we’re privy to understand God’s perfect sight & wisdom. But just because it’s uncomfortable now doesn’t mean we’re getting it wrong. Maybe we’re just taking our turn being the whale.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Potato Chip Knitting

The Knitmore Girls refer to lots of types of potato chip knitting - the kind of knitting where you find yourself rationalizing, ‘just one more row… Just one more cable… Just one more_______….’

I’ve decided two things after finishing my Mr. BlueJeans cardigan:
1. Cables are totally potato chip knitting.
2. Just like real potato chips, if you eat the whole bag, you’ll make yourself sick. After the bottom of this sweater, I’ll be set on cables for a while… Like a year.