Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Neighborhood Block...ing Party

And by neighborhood I really mean just me.  I had a blocking party the last week or so, and it was glorious.

Because I really, really can't miss a deadline, I finished Old Toll Road with only a day to spare -  just enough time to get it all washed and pinned out on the bed:

Isn't she beautiful?  In the end it took about 1 2/3 skeins of the Cloudborn Highland Twist the kit came with, I chose the color Prism, and it is just gorgeous.  I had to give her a little photo shoot to show her off:

Beautiful stitch definition, beautiful drape, and just a gorgeous pattern.  I love everything about it.  So much so that it was really hard to give it away.  But the look on the recipient's face was just everything, so it was totally worth it.  She is an amazing lady and deserves all the wonderful things.

After that, I decided to finish the socks I've been working on!  The colors are so happy and sunny that they were a great way to finish the week off right:
The yarn here is Rock and String Creations Jitterbug Sock in color RoyGBiv.  I absolutely loved working with this yarn.  It was so smooth and the stitches just shine - the sock itself is just a plain vanilla toe-up, but I thought the happy colors needed no embellishment.  I don't think I'll make a bunch of toe-up socks in the future though, unless I can find a different heel that I like better.  Not wild about how these turned out in the heel department.  But, I think the birthday girl will like them alright :)

While things were blocking, I thought it was time to give some of my older treasured creations a little bath and reblock:


My Trufa (top) fell into a puddle on Easter so it needed to be cleaned up.  I had forgotten just how lovely the lace is when it's fully pinned out!  And my Lacey Tunic had gotten a lot of wear in during the fall and winter, so I thought it could do with a cleaning to get all the gunk of wear out of it.  I think next time I might risk it in a laundry bag on the delicate cycle to see if more water can spin out of it - it took FOREVER  to dry.

Since everything was off the needles and blocking out, I decided to take a little time to work on Santa:
He really is coming right along. Maybe another 5 or 10 sessions (depending on how long I can go uninterrupted per sitting) and he'll be all done!  Ready to turn him into a pillow for Christmas!

Other than that, I spent a lot of last week (did I mention I was off work last week?) in my yard creating my vegetable gardens and my mosquito repelling pots, and I'm pretty proud of how they look now!
I just hope I don't kill all the plants!!  I do have some little bean sprouts in there now... one of the only things I planted from seed and they are actually growing!!

And I read a book:
Another of the Dublin Murder Squad series, which I can't get enough of!!

I love summer semester.  I get to work a little, play a little, and generally decompress in all my favorite ways.  What are some of your favorites?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Knitting on a Deadline

Oh friends, you know how much I love knitting gifts for people.  It's one of my favorite things.  But, the one thing that can take the pleasure out of such endeavors is being up against a deadline.

I try hard not to  do it to myself.  I try and plan ahead so that I can finish a project in a leisurely fashion and never have it feel like a chore.

What can I say?  I may have screwed up this one.

Old Toll Road has a hard deadline of May 18, but I am nowhere near in shape to have it finished in the next 13 days,
 much less give it time for a soak and a block.  

It's been particularly hard the last week or so to get any good knitting time in, or when I am able to, my brain has been so whacked out on prednisone that I couldn't concentrate on the lace.  The result is that I finished this sock:

But that doesn't help with the deadline.

And then, to make matters even worse, the Bella girl has wanted nothing but snuggles these last few rainy days...
And how can I say no to that?

Maybe there's hope though.  This weekend is supposed to be drab and rainy, which will keep me indoors, with the exception of going to graduation on Sunday, so hopefully I can get a good chunk of knitting done while the crazy one sleeps...



Here's hoping...

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