Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 Goals - Spring Update!

Here we are - one quarter of the way through 2014.  Spring has sprung (we had snow on the ground yesterday, but who's keeping track of that?!).  March Madness is in full effect and my brackets are TOAST, so it's just fun to see the upsets now.

It's also time to check in on my crafty goals!

Here are the goals I set for myself in January:
Yarn Diet Goals & Boundaries:

  1. Knit only from stash for the first half of 2014.
  2. During the first half of 2014, move $40 into savings every time I'm tempted to go to my LYS or Etsy to buy yarn.
  3. After the first half of 2014, new yarn can be purchased, but only in yardage amounts equaling what I've already knit in 2014.
  4. Work projects that have been marinating in my queue before casting on ALL THE THINGS from a newly purchased/released book/pattern collection.
  5. Enjoy the process & the product!!
Because I'm an over-achiever, I have other goals, too!!

2014 Crafty Goals:
  1. 20,000 yards of yarn worked this year.
    I worked 19,000 in 2013 or just over 10 miles... I think this is doable!
  2. Learn two-at-a-time sock technique.
  3. Learn toe-up two-at-a-time sock technique.
Yarn Diet Progress:

Other than the baby gifts that have popped up here & there, I have been successful in my attempt to only knit from stash so far this year.  I don't keep a lot of superwash on hand, and I never know what I'll feel like knitting for any particular child, so keeping a stash of it doesn't make sense right now.
I've been pretty good.  I have only been seriously tempted to buy yarn a few times (and those temptation fees went to Halos of Hope, so that's still a win in my book!).  I did fall down twice.  The first was on a colorway that was being discontinued (that I didn't know existed) from KnitPicks & I bought the whole bag of lace weight.  I'll figure something out for that. The second was an enabled order when my friend Amy said, "I'm thinking of a custom order from Fab Funky Fibres - ya want anything?" which was too much to bear.  I'm expecting a skein of self-striping in the Rainy Day Rainbow colorway any time now.  Eeeeeee!!

I'm still going to my stash first, I'm working a lot of things out of that stash & I'm planning to cast on a few more things from my queue/stash during this first week of April.  That mystery shawl has taken a lot longer to finish than anticipated & has sucked up a lot of my knitting mojo with it!  But I'm still making progress.

My last yarn diet goal was to enjoy the process, which I think I am.  I'm not focusing on finishing things, but knitting things that make me happy.  When they stop making me happy, I'll put them down for a while & when I'm ready to pick them back up, I do.

Overall, I give myself a B+ on my yarn diet.

Crafty Goals Progress:

If my goal of 20,000 yards will be achievable, 5,000 yards a quarter is a nice way to pace things.  I really like using KnitMeter to track my progress - it's a great tool!  As of today, I've finished 4,465 yards of knitting.  This isn't including the first sock of my Blarney socks or the knitting in progress on my Follow Your Arrow Shawl & Antler Cardigan.  With those things included, I'm confident I'm past the 5k mark & closer to the 6k point.  I'm good with that!

I have knit a few pairs of socks two-at-a-time, so that goal has been accomplished!  I like the technique because I know they are the same length & size in every aspect, which is great for the vanilla socks I so love.  However, the super long circ & the two balls of yarn are somewhat fiddly, so this method isn't as portable as I would like my socks to be.  Maybe I can work to make it more manageable.

Overall, I give myself an A on my crafty goals. Woohoo!

Bonus Points:  I published my first pattern on Ravelry!  My Chevron Baby Sleep Sack has 70 favorites on Ravelry and almost 700 views on my blog.  I'm amazed!  I hope to see some project pictures from others using this pattern soon!
Side note: I also have a hat pattern that I am working on & hope to share in April as well.

2014 continues our love of making smoothies & starting the day with fruits, veggies & lean protein makes us keep doing it!  It really does make me feel better than a lot of other breakfast options.  We recently have upped the ante on our smoothie making & started using milk kefir instead of milk & yogurt.  We make our own, right on the kitchen counter & I'm happy that I've finally learned to grow something on the kitchen counter that I can't kill!

2014 has been a productive one so far (crafting-wise anyway)!  This coming quarter will be a challenge as we are planning a local move & hoping to find a more calm place to live with a better commute for both of us.  There will also be a family vacation in there as well - I have to plan my vacation knitting soon!  If we have a veranda, there will be veranda knitting.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Have you watched your wedding video lately?

Sorry single friends, this post isn't really for you.  Not right now anyway.  Someday it may apply & if you choose to read on, I hope that when you need it, this moment of shared life experience will come back to you & bless you.

Married friends - how long as it been since you watched your wedding video?  Not looked at pictures.    Actually watched the video of your wedding ceremony?  (Reception videos are fun, for sure, but that's not what I'm going after with this post, either.)

Do you remember the last time you watched your wedding video?

If the answer is 'no', or 'never', or you can't remember, you need to plan a movie date soon.

When days are hard, when you go through valleys are deeper than you knew they could be, or when you're just having an extraordinarily draining week, watch your wedding video.  Together.  Take the 20 minutes, sit down with your spouse, turn your phones off and watch it.

This moment is a pure reminder of what you felt for each other - the most overwhelmingly and authentically outward sign of love you may have with one another (in front of an audience, anyway). Hold hands.  Hug on each other.  Remember the words you said, the vows you took and the way you felt about your partner that day.

I dare you not to squeeze each other tighter when you hear words from your ceremony that talk about good times and bad times, about growing together, about shared joys and sorrows.

If you are reading this & you are secure in your marriage, watch this video & tell your spouse how much you appreciate their selflessness and effort in helping to build a happy, healthy marriage.

If you are reading this & are going through a difficult situation external to your marriage, watch this video & remember that you aren't going through anything alone.  God gave us family to cling to during times of distress.  If you don't cling to each other - who will you cling to?  Experience this difficulty together and allow God to grow you closer as you persevere.

If you are reading this & your marriage is going through a tough season, this may be a more difficult challenge.  I understand that.  Honestly, I do.  As my first marriage was disintegrating, I attended a wedding of some good friends from college and sitting through that ceremony was HARD.  It was painful.  I heard each word, each vow, each promise as a fraud.  As a joke.  As a mockery.  I didn't believe that two people could ever really promise those things to each other.  No one can promise things they don't understand.  What my life had become was so far from what I would have chosen for myself, even though I had chosen to marry and I had been betrayed.

Here's the thing:  all of those feelings were true.  Those promises had been made a mockery.  But what it took me longer to realize was that the vows hadn't done that - my spouse's choices had.

If you are struggling in your marriage, I urge you to discuss with your spouse watching your wedding video and honestly talk about any feelings you have while doing so - positive and negative.  Use 'I' statements and be sensitive to each other's feelings.  Instead of saying, "you don't ever support me when I'm going through something", say, "I remember how supportive of me you were while we were dating and that really helped me.  I hope you felt the same.  I miss that about our relationship" or "I miss the way we used to look at each other" in lieu of saying "You never look at me like that anymore."  A little communication will go a long way and may help you to refocus on why you ended up married in the first place before you are so immersed in negative feelings and experiences that you can't remember the positive ones.

So, pop some popcorn, grab some Twizzlers & Kleenex, and watch your wedding video as often as you want to feel schmoopy or earnestly need to reconnect to this day.  It's so worth it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Blarney Socks

Ahhh, socks.  I love handknit socks.  I resisted knitting socks for so long.  I think it was the statistic about a pair of socks taking nearly as many stitches as a sweater combined with the teeny-tiny needles and skinny yarn that turned me off to them.  I resisted sock knitting, even after hearing dozens of podcasters rave about knitting socks and wearing hand-knit socks and seeing hundreds of unique sock patterns on Ravelry.

And then there's the horror stories and pictures of ill-fated attempts at sock knitting.  Half of sock knitting is just a tube and tubes aren't interesting.  That's why I don't knit sleeves.  And there's the fear that they will end up different lengths, sizes, etc...

You know what turned the corner for me?  Store-bought socks and the way they never fit my toes right.  I hate when socks bunch up around/under my toes, and I couldn't find socks (that weren't meant to go in tennis shoes) that fit right.  And yet again, I heard someone (or several someones) talking about the joy of handknit socks and being able to make them anyway you choose.

The first time I slid a handknit sock onto my foot, it was love.  I was lucky - my first handknit sock fit perfectly and I couldn't have been more happy about it.  My first pair of socks were knit last fall (including knitting on my first sock at my college homecoming - at the bar while we waited out the rainstorm that made the football unbearable) and I've finished 5 additional pairs since then. You can check them out here.

I had a bit of knitting ennui near the end of February.  I had been working on a few different projects, but none of them were making me happy and one of them was in time-out until I could decide its fate.  That shawl was nearly frogged, washed & reskeined on more than one occasion.  I wanted to knit, but I didn't know what to knit to make me happy.  I needed something that would be portable enough to knit on lunch breaks, etc. but nothing in my queue was speaking to me.  I wanted to knit it all eventually, but not right now.  I was languishing in my ennui one night and whining to the hubs, when he asked the ever-important question:  "How long has it been since you had a sock on the needles?"

That was it.  I needed a sock on the needles.  Since St. Patrick's Day was coming up, I decided that green socks would fix my lack of desire to knit.  Enter Lorna's Laces fingering in 'Envy'.  I love that name & when I saw the family of greens and tans, I had to buy this yarn, even though I didn't knit socks at the time.  Out of deep stash the yarn came and onto 2 circs it went.

Fast forward to last night:

One sock done and I immediately cast the second sock on.  It had to be done.  I want to wear these in 1-2 months when Mother Nature finally gets back on her meds & lets Spring come to visit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Buzzfeed and the Bible

Oh my, Buzzfeed.  If you are on Facebook and happen to be stuck in the midst of this winter that won't die, chances are you or someone in your News Feed have discovered Buzzfeed quizzes.  And Zimbio quizzes.  This winter, a large number of my friends have taken all of these and so have I.  We're that far into avoidance at this point (as I type, we are being blown over by Winter Storm Vulcan - enough said).

I tried to resist this.  I really did.  But then it got the better of me.  Since then, I've learned:
  • Which U.S. President I am (Reagan)
  • What I should give up for Lent (Caffeine - who leaves this up to Buzzfeed?)
  • Which Muppet I am (Kermit - the hubs got Statler & Waldorf and I’m jealous)
  • What BBC Sherlock character I am (Mrs. Hudson)
  • Which Boy Meets World character I am (Mr. Feeny)
  • Which geeky fandom do I belong in (The Joss Whedon-verse)
  • Which classic diva I am (Aretha Franklin - YES!)
  • Which Avenger I am (Thor *drool)
  • Which X-man I am (Wolverine - again *drool)
  • Which Leonardo DiCaprio character I am (Inception Leo - more *drool)
  • Which Star Trek character I am (Uhura. The hubs got Spock - the scandal!)
  • Which Saved By the Bell character I am (Jessie Spano)
  • Which Glee character I am (Santana)

And that’s just in the past month! Embarrassingly, that’s not all of them…

I also took a quiz to determine which biblical heroine I am most like.  According to Buzzfeed, I am most like Abigail.  After reading the description on the quiz, my husband agreed with the result.

I didn't know much about Abigail, so I did a little research about her.  It's very interesting; depending on the writer's perspective, Abigail is: wealthy, wise & strong-willed, or submissive & humble, wise & a model wife, or incredibly crafty & possibly a betrayer of her first husband Nabal.

Short story:
Abigail was married to Nabal; David was chosen to be the next king of Israel, but was on the run from Saul, who was not on board with this plan.  These things happen.
David requests provisions from Nabal, as a courtesy for David & his men protecting Nabal's shepherds in the fields - a simple quid pro quo.  Nabal laughs at David's men & sends them back empty handed; David & his men get ready to lay siege on Nabal & his house (and everyone in it).
Oblivious to David's plan, Nabal gets drunk & throws himself quite the feast; meanwhile, word gets back to Abigail that Nabal had shot down the wrong request & was soon getting them all killed, or maimed at best.
Abigail directs Nabal's men to gather the requested supplies and rides out to David herself to apologize, make amends & abase herself, in an effort to keep the people in her household alive.  David reconsiders, credits Abigail for her wisdom & action to save lives, thanks her, and promises to remember her wisdom & discretion.
Nabal is drunk when Abigail returns, so she waits until morning to tell him how badly he had almost messed up & how she averted the crisis.  Nabal wasn't the wisest man, but he wasn't an idiot either.  The realization of what almost happened to those under his protection got to him & 'his courage failed him' (I Samuel 25:37).  He died a little over a week later (scared to death, most likely).
When David hears that Abigail is a widow, he sends a proposal & Abigail accepts.  Proverbs 31 is said to be written about Abigail, who was regarded as David's most virtuous wife.
(Before you start thinking that David hit on every widow in town, this predates the whole Bathsheba incident.)

Whew.  That's something to live up to, right?

I had a lot of reactions to this story, which I wasn't familiar with previous to taking this perhaps-not-so-ridiculous quiz.

Abigail is a gutsy chic.  I think I would have liked her.  She wasn't afraid to take action for the greater good, even if she alone faced the consequences of those actions.  I respect that.

Abigail knew about the virtue of timing - both when she approached David & when she told Nabal what she had done.  Abigail also knew that approaching David had to be done with the right spirit & when she revealed this to Nabal, he needed to realize the situation she had averted.  Abigail knew about the when AND the how.  It makes sense that she was revered for her wisdom.

Then I came around to David, our remaining survivor in this story.  Every time I learn something new about David, I can't help but remember that David was a man after God's own heart (I Samuel 13:14).    I have always found great comfort in the fact that a man as virtuous as David could mess things up so very badly and God still saw him as a man after his own heart.  This reminds me that God knows we were bound to screw things up, make mistakes, feel things we shouldn't - in short, be human.  This passage is also a reminder that God can use anyone to accomplish great things, even if that person is flawed.  We all have heard about David's flaws.

David had passion.  It's one of the strongest personality strengths, and weaknesses, we see in him.  We wouldn't have the strengths without the weaknesses - so I should embrace the positives & work to minimize the negatives when dealing with my own passionate tendencies.

David was flexible when God gave him an alternate route.  When Abigail presented a solution to the situation that prevented deaths in Nabal's house, as well as less likelihood that his own men would be injured, David changed his mind.  We're allowed to do that.  I've come to believe some paths are meant to be followed for only a time. Just because God wanted that path for us in the past doesn't mean we are meant to stick to that same path, without variation or redirection, for the rest of time.  When we feel God is nudging, pushing or pulling us (kicking & screaming) in another direction, we should change our course.

David was doing what God wanted him to do - but it still didn't keep him from being exiled.  Sometimes the path God has for us isn't easy.  I don't believe that God wants us to go through hardship, but sometimes human free will (ours' & others') interferes with God's plan.  That's when the going gets tough. When a path gets difficult, pray & seek guidance, but don't doubt that God never wanted you on that path.  Pray that He will remove obstacles, turn others' hearts, or forge a new path for you, according to His will.

David saw a blessing & accepted it when he proposed to Abigail.  We need to learn to cling to the blessings we have, be open to new ones, and also continue to be mindful of the way God has blessed us in the past.  If we seize a blessing on Thursday, we shouldn't be forgetful of that in a week or two. David certainly didn't value Abigail's counsel once or twice - the Bible tells us that she was the wisest of all his wives, which to me says that he sought her counsel frequently.  David didn't forget what God had already given him when new situations or new gifts came to light.

I'll close with the proverb about Abigail - I'm sure it's not new to most of us, but it's a good one none the less (from Bible Gateway - NIV).  Abigail must have been a spinner as well - there are numerous references to spinning wool & fibers, as well as spinning tools. And there is a vineyard reference in there, too, which mean she probably enjoyed a fine wine.  I think Buzzfeed got this one right on the money...

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Authenticity and Intimidation

Since I was a teenager, I've been told that I was intimidating (by some; the others, due to lack of vocabulary, called me a b*tch).  The latter is something that strong women have been called for years and I take it as a compliment for being confident & straight-forward, which many people cannot handle.  While I was teaching at my first school, I got called a 'b' so frequently I stopped reacting and just reached for the referral pads. (Silly me, expecting basic respect and the minimum standard of acceptable behavior & refusing to resort to screaming & crying to motivate/scare teenagers into decent behavior like my predecessors…)  When later students freaked out about my lack of a reaction, I calmly responded that it took an insult requiring much more creativity than the 'b' word to make it worth getting worked up over.  If you're going to get written up for disrespecting a teacher, at least make it a good story later, am I right?

It's always somewhat bothered me – the intimidating part.  I view intimidation as something that the intimidator sets out to do.  Much like the legacy of The Intimidator, NASCAR #3 driver Dale Earnhardt, I see it as a choice and something you do to an end.  From personal accounts, Dale was a teddy bear of a man & a wonderful friend, but on the track, you didn't cross him.  That was a reputation Dale earned by racing hard, not backing down, and intentionally & consistently making others remove themselves from his path.  His go-all-out approach where racing was involved was a conscious choice and earned Dale a fair share of die-hard fans and haters alike.

I've never understood how I could be intimidating without intending to do so.  It used to baffle me.  After I graduated from college, one of my best friends told me he was intimidated by me when we first met (he was a few years younger than me).  When I asked him why, he said, 'Because you knew everything.  You were involved with everything & knew who to ask, where to go, everything.'  I knew I didn't know everything, but I had been around for a few years and knew where to recommend looking for answers and where would be a dead end.  I wish I had had more friends like that when I was starting out in a new place.  How was that bad? (My friend also disclosed that after a while, he realized I wasn't trying to be intimidating & soon learned that my experience was a good thing I was willing to share!) I hadn't set out to intimidate those new to our department – how does that happen without my intending to do so?

After the last few years, I've started to see how much authenticity threatens inauthentic people.  People who are playing a character, wearing a mask, putting on false pretenses to make others think they are authentic, vulnerable and real are supremely threatened by those who are genuinely so. These are the types of people who never get to know me well enough to know that I truly am this authentic - it's not an act.  I've learned that I don't know how to be anyone other than who I am.   Therefore, I'm threatening to some just by existing.

Here's the deal:
If my authenticity threatens you, that isn't my problem. 
If my confidence intimidates you, that isn't my problem.
If my intelligence isn't something you see as an asset, that isn't my problem.

I'm not choosing to intimidate or threaten you and because I'm not choosing that, I can't change it.
It's unfortunate that this is the case, but I can't fix other people's perceptions of me if those perceptions are influenced by their own insecurities.  Insecure people can accomplish a lot of destruction and I cannot continue to allow those types of people to affect my happiness.  I've tried to play the part, I've tried to fly under the radar and I've failed spectacularly.  I'm not an under-the-radar kind of girl & I need to seek out environments where that is valued, not reviled.

And if that makes me a b*tch, so be it.  I'll certainly be happier than I have been trying to be someone else.  No one likes a poser.  I'd rather be a bona fide, authentic b*tch than a fake b*tch; wouldn't you?

Friday, March 7, 2014

I’m not dead yet…

…I promise!  The last few weeks have been good, but hectic, with a side of technological difficulties.  Soon, the new laptop will be running on all cylinders and hopefully, things will get back to normal here.

When that happens, I hope to share 2 new patterns with you all, a few more FOs to share (one just needs pictures taken & posted to Ravelry), an update on my de-stashing efforts, and a few life moments to share.

Meanwhile, it’s Friday, the sun is shining, our high for the day is well above freezing and that’s enough to make me smile.

And here are some pics of recent FOs that I didn't get to post about:

Enjoy your weekend!