Wednesday, April 26, 2017

More Progress... and a Donation

So since last week, I've been actually able to see some progress in a few areas, which makes me feel pretty darn good about things.  It's kind of amazing what a few days of sunshine, some extended crafting time, and a visible result can do for one's psyche.  I kind of don't know where to start!

Let's start with the finish line.  All last Fall and the first part of Spring, my crafting group at school worked to create a granny square blanket with the aim of donation to a local charity.  I am thrilled to say that we got it finished, and laundered, and sent off for donation last week!


Here are some of the lovely ladies who gave of their time and talent to make it happen. 

We decided to donate it to City Gospel Mission, as a way of fostering a relationship the college has already formed with them.  They are a shelter and also help men and women to find permanent housing as they move out of crisis and into independence.  They are going to gift our blanket to someone who is moving into a place of their own to help start their new life in warmth and comfort.  It really made me feel good to drop it off and know that someone will feel special when they receive it. Our next group project is going to be putting together personal care bags for donation to women's shelters - we are making drawstring bags and handmade washcloths and then filling the rest of the bag with things like soap and toothpaste and shampoo and other personal care items.  We are going to work all summer on it, and hopefully have them ready to donate in time for domestic violence awareness month in October. So glad that the ladies in our group are on board for these causes!

Then, I got to spend some time this weekend doing one of my favorite things - making prezzies for people I love.

I made some progress on Old Toll Road:

I got Santa's beard finished on my cross stitch:

And I admitted defeat and moved my socks from 2 at a time to one at a time magic loop:
I had found myself avoiding work on the socks because I didn't like the method, so I decided it was better to cut my losses and switch to a tried and true method.  I love this yarn, and the colors are so happy, so not working on them was making me quite grumpy.  I'm less grumpy now.  The safety pin marker is to show where I switched methods - so I can make sure the socks match at the end of things.

And if that weren't enough, I made more progress in the yard:
The whole bed there was covered in weeds, and the stump wasn't even visible underneath its blanket of ivy and vines.  We literally had no idea how big the tree stump was until I started clearing out the weeds.  I'm feeling pretty good about the work, even if I am pretty sure I have poison ivy on my face again...

So, friends, the spring has caught up with me, and my mood is much higher than it was.  We are in the last week of the semester, and I then it's just two more weeks before my first mini-vacation (read: stay at home week) for the summer.  Life is alright.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Projects!

It feels like I haven't had very many project finishes this year, which is really starting to bum me out. I know that a lot of it was because of the wedding, and then because of the blues I had for a few weeks after the wedding was over.  So I'm so glad that now I can report a couple finishes and two new project starts!

First, I finished my Cascade Shawl 23, which I think turned out lovely.  My only complaint is that it doesn't want to lay flat, which I attribute to using yarn that isn't as springy as wool and probably knitting the I-cord edging a bit too tightly.




Now all I need to do is wait for my wedding photos to come in and I can bundle this up with a good photo of my dress to take to my seamstress as a thank you gift.  She was amazing!

Second, I finished one of the two pair of socks my aunt asked me for at Christmas time.  They were on my needles for far too long, but I finally got them finished, and I think they are fun - for black socks.



After finishing the socks, I of course immediately cast on a new pair of socks, because what else would you do?  I was going on a work trip and was staring down the barrel of 4 hours in the car with no knitting, so it had to be socks.  I decided to try doing 2 at a time, toe up for this pair.



So far, I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan.  I love the idea of it, but not the practice.  I find that I'm gripping the needles too tightly and worrying a lot more than usual about ladders on the side.  Plus, even though  I know in my brain that I'm literally doing double the work, it still looks like I'm only making half the progress as I go. I think I'll go back to my trusty one at a time, cuff down construction after this. I'm not a sufferer of second sock syndrome, so it's pretty safe for me.

Finally, I got my Craftsy on and ordered the Old Toll Road kit.  It arrived and I cast on pretty soon thereafter.  So far, I love the way the Cloudborn Twist feels to work with.



I've started twice though, because I noticed as I started row 5 of the chart that I had an extra stitch from what the chart said I should.  I assumed it was my mistake, and ripped out and started again, and ended up back at the same point with the same extra stitch.  I even counted on row 3 and I had the right number of stitches then - so I started thinking there might be something wrong with the chart, not with me.  I even posted on Knitting Paradise asking for help - and a lovely group member pointed out that the extra stitch gets worked into the first stitch of the center section repeat and then is absorbed by the end.  Once that whole thing made sense, it was like the floodgates opened!  I'm having ever so much fun with it now :)

Other than that, Santa moves along apace:



And yardwork has happened, though not as much as could have done if I weren't stuck in my office on all these beautiful days!

And I'm mostly just anxiously counting down the days to the end of the semester, and then the next two weeks before I am taking a week off work... hopefully I'll make some progress then!

Happy Spring, everyone!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Some Thoughts on Inner Struggles

Some days, I feel like I just can't.  That the very acts of getting out of bed, taking a shower, getting dressed are just too much.  Then I imagine trying to summon the energy to interact with people, to have meaningful discussions, to try and solve problems, and I can't.

The world is too big, to loud, too bright, to much.

And the ability to function within it seems very, very out of reach.

On the worst of these days, I will stay in bed with the lights off for most of the day, and simply not interact with the world.  Those days are, thankfully, a lot less frequent than they used to be.  In the last year or so I can only think of one such day, which is really very good.

The kinds of days that do still plague me are the ones where I can "get by." I can summon the needed energy to go out into the world.  To do the bare minimum of existing, and even to participate in some small way in the conversations I'm asked to join.  But to give more than that?  To go above what is minimally expected?  I can't.

It's not even that I don't want to, and it's certainly not that something is wrong.  My life is pretty great, actually.  Other than the weather, there's nothing I can really complain about.  I have a wonderful spouse, a beautiful home, a happy and loving pup, a supportive family in reasonably good health and wellness, a job that is fulfilling, and friends who are just amazing.  None of the feelings I list above have anything to do with external factors.  There's no "reason" or "stressor" or anything that I can offer to answer the "why" of it all.  It is all just what my brain does sometimes. Which, for someone who always wants to fix things, is just about the most frustrating thing ever.

So I do my very best, and I "get by." But for most of the day while I'm trying my hardest and using ever so much energy to just do the bare minimum, what I really want is to go home and not talk to anyone else for the rest of the day.  I need time away from the noise and the brightness and the chaos that is, in all honesty, no different than any other day. Except that on these days, my brain cannot process it, or let me interact meaningfully with it.

I don't say this because I want to get out of doing things, or because I need sympathy, but because I think that saying these things out loud, acknowledging them, can help people understand what it is like. And even if this makes absolutely  no sense, others can at least be exposed to them.  To see, even a little bit, that there are people out there for whom getting through the day takes a lot of energy. To maybe encourage us all to be a little kinder to each other, because none of us knows what the other person is going through that day.

Me?  I'll be alright.  The day will be hard, and I will probably go home and knit and not talk to anyone else for the rest of the day, and then hopefully tomorrow will be easier.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New Projects!

There is nothing quite like starting a new project.  I don't know how to describe it.  I always feel like this project is going to be the best one yet.  And that it is somehow going to magically just make itself and I'll have a finish before I even know it.  And that when I give it as a gift it will get the best reaction ever of all time.

So in this spirit, I give you my two newest starts.

First, just in time for the March TUSAL post, is a brand new cross stitch!



It's a portrait of Santa called "Handsome Tree Skirt" originally published in "Down Santa Claus Lane" by Liesure Arts (1994).  After just one weekend, I have the side of his hood and part of his beard done, and I'm loving it.  I'm working him in two strands on 14 count Aida from the DMC "Stardust" line.



The fabric came with a free pattern rolled up in it!  I was like the kid who found the prize inside the cereal box :)


Anyway here's a photo with my ORT jar for the TUSAL:




The other project I started last weekend is this lovely shawl:



It is "Cascade Shawl 23" by Brian Smith, and I'm making it from the Caron Cakes "Faerie Cake" colorway, and it is working up very nicely.  It may actually be the project that falls off the needles for me.  I needed that right now.

In the "not a new project at all" category, I'm also excited that I finally get to share the super secret cross stitch I made last year.



I saw the pattern on Etsy, and decided I would make it for J for his wedding present.  Then I had it framed and hid it at my BFF's house, and left it for him on the bed to open when he got home from the rehearsal dinner.  I think it went over well - he called me after he opened it to let me know that I'm a crazy person.  That is praise enough for me :)

I may also be dying to cast on at least one more shawl, and swatch for a sweater, and make more socks.  Oh, and I desperately want to stay home all day and craft.  Is that a thing?

Happy Spring!!!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Married!

We did it!  We tied the knot. The weekend was so beautiful and wonderful, and no words can do it justice.  So here are some photos of the day and surrounding events:

Bella girl helping with centerpiece preparations

The master of making things pretty putting them together

They turned out so nicely!

We drank some wine on Friday to celebrate the start of the weekend

Our rings were ready to go

So we set up the room on Saturday (it was a Sunday wedding)

I had a good, if small breakfast before the festivities started

And then, magic:





(c) Mikki Schaffner Photography

And just like that, we were married. 

There were so many times that I wanted time to just stand still that day.  I wanted to encapsulate the moment and feel that way forever.  I still wish I could.  I also wish I had just one photo of me with my mom yet... We will be getting the professional shots (the rest of them) soon, and I know there are some in there, but I wish you guys could see how happy she was and how much fun she was having.  It was really something. 

It was my favorite day, ever. 
(c) Mikki Schaffner Photography

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Five...

You guys!  I get married in FIVE DAYS!

In case you were wondering where I've been (I'm sure you haven't, since I'm pretty sure my only readers are those who know exactly where I've been... hi mom!), I've been doing stuff.

I went to a conference and learned lots of awesome things, including the proper way to parade down Bourbon Street,

and that biegnets and cafe au lait are the best way to end a long day of conferencing.



I also knit on the plane... both on the way there



And on the way back


I made boutonnieres and bouquets... and by "I made" I really mean "I watched while my BFF made and I did some hot glue-ing where she told me to"

I got a legal document saying I'm allowed to get married



I received this incredible gift from my grandmother, who stitched this for me before she died.

It has actually been in my possession since she passed away, in the bin of stitching things I inherited from  her.  I had no idea it was for me.  But one day my (sneaky, sneaky) mom came in and stole it and had it framed and then brought it back with a note saying that it was always meant for me, specifically to be my wedding present.  There were SO MANY TEARS.

I picked up my dress, and had my hair and makeup trial.

I got nominated for an award at school.



The only real stressful thing was losing a diamond in my engagement ring

I have no idea how, where, or when... I just looked down and it was gone... but our awesome jeweler said he could fix it before the wedding, so mischief managed.

There are still things to do this week (can you say centerpieces), but I'm actually starting to feel like this is for real.  It's been a long time in the planning and it's weird to realize that this whole thing will be over in 5 days.

Then I will be somebody's wife.

How weird is that?

ps.  Have I ever mentioned that I have the very best mom?  She is the best one.  All the crazy things that I've said I wanted during this process, and all the ways in which I've been stubborn and insisted on doing everything myself, without letting her help at all, she's just taken them all in stride.  And, she's super excited to have pie instead of cake.  I'm the luckiest.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Off to a Conference

So the wedding is now 19 days away, and what am I doing today?  Getting on a plane for New Orleans to attend a conference for the rest of the week.  But it's ok.  I have my knitting to take with me and finish the last handmade gift I need for the wedding:

I figure with two flights and a layover in between, I can get some good progress on the quick cowl I've decided at the last minute to make.

Too bad I can't bring bouquets with me on the plane - I think people would look a bit askance if I tried that.

I have, of course, over packed my knitting for the trip.  In addition to this cowl, I've packed a pair of socks and the yarn to start another cowl (this one for me).  Mostly, I'm paranoid about a TSA agent taking my metal needles at security, so I packed two projects I can do on my bamboo circulars, and the socks will be for while I am actually at the conference.

I'm hoping this is like CCCC, where I saw at least one person knitting in every panel session.  I'm not banking on it, but it would be nice... even if it isn't, I'll still have some good evening knitting time before bed as I unwind and process everything I took in during the day.

See you all on the other side of the Big Easy!