Monday, August 29, 2016

back to school!

i am going to tell you all a secret.  i still get nervous the night before the first day of school.  crazy i know, and you would think that it would have gone away by now, this being my 29th "first day of school*," but all the same, i still get nervous.

and last night was no different.  except it was worse.  because there was a giant storm and we lost power.  and didn't get to eat dinner.  well, dinner was half cooked, but we didn't get to finish cooking it, so instead of homemade pasta sauce and garlic bread and salad, we had pb&j.  that's right, my last meal before back to school was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple.  not a very strong start.

and then i spent half the night worrying that i would have to get ready in the dark this morning.  but at least our water heater is gas, so i would have had a hot shower.  luckily the power kicked back on at 4:30, but it was a rough night.

all the same, i survived the first day, as i always do, and now i just get to be nervous about my first day of class tomorrow... but more on that later.

meanwhile, i had a great last few weeks before school started, and crossed a few big things off my to-do list!

first, and most proudly, i finished ALL 5 BRIDESMAID SHAWLS!  that makes 6 shawls since thanksgiving that i've finished, and i feel super accomplished.  i love the yarn that i found with the help of the awesome folks at silk road textiles.  i'm not even sick of looking at it after 6 shawls!

here they are in order of completion:

i started with my own, because selfishness. it is called the beginner's wedding shawl, but don't let the simplicity of the name lead you to believe that it is not intricate and delicate to work.  and beautiful to behold.  i love it.  

the first to speak to me was for casey.  it's called cameo flower, which seemed appropriate because she has moved far away since high school and now only gets to make cameos in my life.  but she is an indelible part of the fabric of who i am, so this shawl symbolizes that. 
next came amanda, j's sister.  this one is called rilsdale, and i chose it because the design made me think of her.  both edgy and classic at the same time, which to me is a lot like amanda. 
the hardest one to pick, by far, was for my bestie, helen.  (also you'll note that i'm not so great at blocking right away after finishing... none of the rest have been blocked from here out).  this shawl is called the darwin shawl, and once i had locked onto it, it was perfect.  it symbolizes a simple beginning that grows and evolves into something intricate and lovely, but the evolution is natural and easy.  this is how our friendship has been.  i can't tell you the moment she became my best friend; it happened so naturally, but she is such an intricate part of my life now that there is no reason to even question how we got here.  also, darwin = science, and we share a healthy respect for that particular discipline.
for my cousin katie, the natural choice was traveling woman.  she is an amazing, adventurous spirit, and she will conquer the world someday.  her hope is to simply travel and experience the world, and i want that for her so very much. 
last, but not least, is j's friend katie, who has become one of my favorite people since she arrived in my life.  this shawl is the making tracks shawl for dog lovers, which may seem like an odd choice, but hear me out.  firstly, we bonded over our shared love of dogs (because dogs), and she told me her heart just goes out to dogs and kids (a shawl of kids seemed a little creepy, so i zeroed in on the dogs).  then, there's her personality.  she loves with her whole heart, and is fiercely loyal and protective of the people she chooses to let into it.  so, in a way, there is no other homage i could give her than this shawl with puppy prints all over it. 

so that's one big accomplishment for the summer.  
i've also finished a couple socks, and i'm working on a baby sweater.  and we got our save the dates ordered so we can send them out in a couple weeks, and we took down three of the thirteen (13!) bushes in the front yard.  so, to say that the last weeks leading up to school were productive is an understatement. 

now, i'm ready to take on the fall (sort of) and be back at work full time (maybe) secure in the knowlege that i have fewer projects hanging over my head (gifts for suit-wearing members of the bridal party, mothers, grandmothers, readers; making all the flowers; coordinating with the venue about decorations, dinner options, wine selection; finding invitations; figuring out seating charts; booking hotel rooms... the list goes on) and i can settle in for the school year (screaming in my head!)

happy first day of school, ya'll!

Friday, July 22, 2016

some musings on how time goes by

apparently i have no sense of time elapsing... perhaps it's further proof that i am in fact part dog and time has no meaning for me.  some days seem to stretch on endlessly and i go to bed at 9 because i just can't be awake anymore, and then *poof* it's the end of july and where did my summer go?

the answer?

it went to vacation with my bestie.

it went to wedding planning.
it went to days spent not speaking to anyone but j and bella.

it went to hours of uninterrupted crafting.
it went, not as much as it should have, to pulling weeds from the front garden... because they had grown too tall and we could no longer distinguish them from the bushes we meant to rip out.
it went to working when i had to and ignoring work when i could.
it went to finally, finally, getting the basement organized and resembling a working space.
it went to sleep, at least some of it did.

it went to sadness, at least some of it did.
it went to family and friends.



and what,  you may ask, what do i have to show for this?
two and a half pairs of socks




two completed bridesmaid shawls



a finished baby blanket

a completed super secret cross stitch... shhhhhh!!
a started bridesmaid shawl

a wedding dress chosen and ordered

memories


my sanity, which was sorely missing at the beginning of things.

and then i realized that on saturday we celebrate one year of living in our home.  and i am again shocked by how time elapses.  one year ago, we packed everything we own and embarked on the adventure of sharing our lives with each other.




and then he asked me to marry him, on that same day one year ago.



it has been just the craziest year, and sometimes i look around and wonder how we got here.  to be so incredibly lucky to have the home and the family and the life we have.  some days i pull into my driveway and think to myself "i get to live here, with my favorite person in the whole world, and our insane and loving pup.  wow. just wow."  and it doesn't matter that the garden isn't well tended and that the fence is missing a cross beam and that the deck needs restaining and the bathroom needs cleaned, because it is our house and our life and we live it the best way we know how.  our house, our life, our family, is full of love, and that's all that matters.

but time is funny.  it marches on.  and soon it will be fall, and the summer reverie will be over and i'll start to go a bit crazy with wedding plans.  it's crazy, but i'm actually looking forward to the planning.  i'm trying really hard not to be that girl who just gushes about wedding stuff, but it's going to be great, and i'm really excited.  so there.

here is a photo of my dog on the day she learned to swim.  she's super cute.


life is good, even if i don't know how it keeps slipping by unnoticed.

cheers, friends!

patterns, from top:
echo beach by raquel gaskell
an anklet a day... by jessica marks
hermione's everyday socks by erica lueder
darwin shawl by verybusymonkey
rilsdale by libby johnson
ripple baby blanket by cuddles-uk

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

it's may... it's may...

the ridiculously stressful and overfull month of may, in which i very nearly have a nervous breakdown and feel like it is a wise decision to go to bed early and sleep in late in order to avoid all of previously mentioned stress.

in all seriousness, it's been a rough few weeks.  i've been thoroughly incapable of turning my brain off for any length of time, and it's resulted in a lot of not sleeping, barely eating, and generally being in a crappy mood. it's been pretty terrible.

so it's kind of a miracle that i've been able to do anything other than stare at the tv.  but here's a finished afghan:


it's getting shipped to sunny florida this week as a late wedding present for an old friend.  i already made baby gifts for the twins he and his wife are expecting, so i'm only doing things slightly out of order.

i also finished a pair of socks:

which bella was very interested in sniffing. 

and because i am quite daft, i've started a new super secret cross stitch project, which i cannot share here, but i'm taking in progress photos and will someday be able to share them in the form of a time lapse video... if i can figure out how to make one.  

but there is hope.  summer semester is here and in theory that means i will have time off to relax and turn off work for a moment.  i have a long list of things to do this summer - some wedding related and some crafting related and some house related - maybe i'll share that with you next time... as a way to keep myself honest.

in the mean time, toodle-oo!!  


Friday, April 15, 2016

oh dear

i seem to have neglected my blog friends for well over a month now!

it's not for a lack of desire to update you all (few) who read my meagre contributions to the wide world of online conversation.  it's not.  i've wanted to write.  i've missed checking in.  i've even contemplated getting up at 3 in the morning when i had insomnia to write - but then i realized that if i did that the pup would wake up and then the whole house would be awake and that's not cool, jen.  not cool.

it's just been such a stressful couple of months.  work has blown up in my face, and i've been struggling to keep my head above water.  but that's not important, except that it has kept me from having time at the end of a busy week to even read the posts of my favorite bloggers, much less write my own updates.

then when i get home, i'm knackered, well and truly.  and by the time i take the bella girl for her evening constitutional, all i want to do is sit in front of the tv and simply stare at it.  i went a good week and a half where i didn't touch my needles.  i felt like such a slob.

but... i must have done much more than i thought i was doing, because suddenly i have things to share.

finished things.
blocked things.
gifted things.

i don't know how, but here's the run down:

in march i was able to finally sew on the buttons to the adorable dresses i made for a brand new set of twins destined to join the world this summer.


and no - they are not identical. i  wanted them to be different from each other, since twins are different from each other.  the blue one has the "full skirt" and the purple one has the "less full skirt." so there.   i only hope that they fit and that it's not too screaming hot in florida for them to be wearable.  i thought of it when i started but decided to just go with it.  don't judge.

i've also made a pair of hand warmers for the charity group i started at school

the group has about 5 solid members at this point, and we have some good things that we are donating.  scarves and gloves to the freestore, and april's project is little hats for babies in the nicu at a local hospital.  more photos as we get the donations in.  i'm pretty excited about the group, and i think we'll continue to grow and do good work for years to come.

i finally blocked my wedding shawl too!  it turned out just as lovely as i thought it would.
it was kind of a bitch to block though.  it took me three tries to figure out how to pull it out to the right length and not make it so the other side couldn't pull to the same length.  i probably should have listened to my mom from the get-go... but i didn't and got frustrated.  when i finally did what she told me to though, it went pretty smoothly.  who'd have thunk it?
this part i figured out on my own though - i created a compass and made sure all the points were the same radius from the center.  and i thought i'd never use geometry again... take that, 8th grade self...

if that weren't enough, i finished the first of the shawls for my bridesmaids
it still needs a soak and a good blocking to open up the lace border, but i think it turned out rather pretty.  so only a few more to go.

so that's it friends.  more than i thought but less than i would like.  maybe now that the school year is winding down i'll get some more time to work on things.  and maybe i'll convince j to somehow keep the canine under control so i can pull out my stitching.  i do miss my stitching.  i'm just too afraid to work on it when at any moment 40 pounds of pure energy could charge into my lap and demand that i throw the ball one (50) more times... it is always an adventure with our bella girl.

i'm off to enjoy the sunshine!

patterns from top:
wee penny by taigia hilliard designs
waffle stitch fingerless gloves by jill toporkiewicz
beginner's wedding shawl by nina stein
cameo flower by mia rinde

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

and just like that...

oh i wish that this were a post about all the nifty and neat things i've finished since i last posted, or about the amazing progress i'm making on my stitching, or about how the wedding is just falling into place and it's practically planned already, and the shawls are all knit, and the flowers are in production.

but, this isn't that post.
since last posting i've finished... a sock and a baby dress.

that's all.

the reason?

the newest edition to our little family. don't let the regal pose fool you. she's a stinker.

we went to my furry valentine, which is a pretty big deal adoption event around here.  it's a 2-day event, and by the time we got there on the first day, 200 adoptions had already happened.  this girl, this beautiful, sweet, loving girl, stole my heart from the minute i walked up to her.  i had to do two more laps around the event and j had to finally say "don't be stupid, we're getting the dog" or something like that.  and there she was.  ours.  

her name was holly bell at the shelter, but we knew right away we would be changing that.  so we call her bella, which is perfect, because it means beautiful, and that's just what she is.  she's our bella bella and i love her to bits. 

the very first day she made herself at home:

and she's proving to be excellent at making sure no shenanigans are going on:

and at times, she is just plain ridiculous:


so crafting has taken a back seat to loving on her and playing with her and taking long walks around the neighborhood.  and i wouldn't have it any other way.  :)

Friday, February 12, 2016

TUSAL and a finished page!

so i actually finished this page last week, but between waiting for TUSAL day, a snow storm, and a ton of crazy at work, i haven't gotten around to posting about it.

this is the page i started back in may.  after digging out my project (still packed from the move) last month, i realized that i was farther along than i thought i was, and that meant that only a couple days of sitting in my stitching nook listening to the serial podcast i was at a page finish!

it's really fun watching the picture come together on this one.  close up it looks way less cool, so it's nice to take a step back and see what it's really shaping up to be!

here's the project with my jar

and just my jar... it's turning very pretty colors

the next few pages are all partials... lots of open space in between the stitches forming arms and such.  i don't know when the next page full of stitches is actually... so hopefully i'll be finishing up a storm.  in between knitting baby dresses and scarves for charity and wedding projects of course.

happy stitching!

Friday, February 5, 2016

i finished!

so a quick post today to say that i finished my wedding shawl!!
i mean, i finished knitting it.
i still need to block it.
which means i need to figure out how/where i'm going to block it.
but it's off the needles!!



it's kind of hard to photograph at this stage.

i'm so excited because this means i can take it with me dress shopping so i can see the whole package when i pick my dress. 

now i need to knit some baby things.
and i'll post next week with some fun stitching updates.
but for now - just YAY!!

pattern: beginner's wedding shawl by nina stein