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

Friday, January 29, 2016

Crafting for a Cause

for a while now, i've been turning over an idea in my head. a way to both get more socially involved at my workplace, and to use my crafting as a source of good in the world.

i've been enamored with the idea of knitting and crocheting for charity for a long time. i think the best way that i personally can make my mark on society is to try and make sure no one is ever cold.  there are so many people out there who are having a very difficult time; they may be dealing with homelessness or abusive situations or illness or any number of hardships that i am lucky enough to have avoided thus far.  i also know that having something handmade to call your own can not only be a source of warmth in the cold.  it can show that someone out there cares about you as a person, and sometimes even make you feel more connected to other people.  i want to be able to give this gift to everyone in the community.

however, i can't make enough things on my own to donate in between all the other projects i'm working on.  this is where part two of my brain-plan comes in.

i also think that crafting can connect people in ways that only a shared hobby can.  it's not a sport, or anything that requires competition, and it's not for profit, or for glory.  it can be shared.  it can be a communal activity or a solitary one.  and it allows us to support and encourage each other to try new things and keep going when we are getting frustrated.  i've learned that from my brief time following other crafters on blogs and getting support from those who watch mine.

so my plan was to start a group at work that would encourage crafters - both experienced and beginner - to come together regularly, have a nice social time when we can all enjoy each other's company and escape from the work day, and create a project that can be donated out to the community to really do some good.

so i started Cincinnati State Crafting for a Cause.

we had our first meeting yesterday, and i was so nervous to be teaching knitting for the first time ever.  but the group was awesome, and we had a few people who had good experience to help partner up with the "newbies" as they kept referring to themselves.  it was a nice time.  i'm hoping to grow the group and expand our reach as far as donations made and types of projects we can deliver to those organizations on our list.

i'm mostly hoping that everyone shows back up for meeting #2 next month, with a scarf to show off.

so we will see how this endeavor grows.  i'm pretty excited.  i've gotten some lovely responses from local organizations to my inquiries about whether they would be interested in receiving our donations.  i hope we can do them proud.

anyway, it's a new adventure, and i really hope we can do some good.  for now, it's nice to have the support of some awesome new coworker friends, and the excitement of something to look forward to once a month :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

a snow day... for everyone else

one of the perks of working in education is the occasional snow day.  it's always exciting to get that text message early in the morning letting you know you can go back to sleep.  then when you wake up, you have the whole day ahead of you, completely unplanned because, well, you thought you were going to be at work... in short, snow days rock*

so today, the whole city is in shutdown mode.  all the major school districts are closed for today, including cincinnati public.  this is where many of our students send their children, so on days that CPS is closed, our student attendance drops significantly.  at some point in the distant past, there was an unofficial rule that if CPS closed for the day, we did too.

but today, we didn't.
today, we were on a 3 hour delay.

and i know, most people would be thrilled with not having to come to work until 11.  so i should feel lucky that i got to go back to sleep at all.  which i do.  believe me.  when i saw that text i rolled on back over and slept for another two hours like a boss.

but still...
snow day...
for all the other schools...

i would rather be home. like all my other teacher friends (the ones who work at other schools).  i would rather be here:

i finally figured out how to set up my stitching area, and that is an electric blanket to keep me all snuggly.  so tell me... why wouldn't i rather be here, pretty much all the time?

the roads were also VERY not cleared when i had to come in, so it was not a fun commute.  so there's that... i still can't figure out why we can't get our act together in the snow... it snows EVERY YEAR.
but i digress

the biggest thing is that there are no students here today.  j only had one class to teach today, and 11 of his 15 students emailed him to say they wouldn't make it.  so he didn't come in.  he decided it wasn't worth the treacherous drive in to spend an hour with (at best) 4 students - and that's if those 4 showed up at all. my one colleague had 2 students show up to her class.  2.  what do you do when only 2 out of 19 students come to class? it's not like you can actually teach anything, because you'll just have to re-teach it when the rest of the class is there anyway.  so it's a wasted day. for everyone. i actually feel bad for the students who did come in, because they did the thing that was expected and it was kinda for nothing.

but what do i know?
maybe i should just stop complaining and remember that i have the best job.  i love my job.  maybe i'm just being a whiny pants today.

happy snow day, everyone... else...

*snow days rock, unless you have too many in a row.  then you can go a little mad.  see this post for what happens when there are too many snow days...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

welcome back... a few days late... and a TUSAL update

so it's january, friends.  i'm back to school (work) and almost starting to try and wrap my head around the idea that i don't get to just get up and knit all day long anymore.  sigh... those were the days... (it was two days ago, but still, feels like miles and miles from here).

anyway, i thought i'd do a little show and tell of some of the projects i've been keeping hidden for a while because christmas... mostly they are socks.  ok, they're all socks.

a pair for j

a pair for my sis

a pair for my sis in law

and a pair for my mama

i have to say i learned a lot of things from making all these socks.  

thing #1: socks aren't as complicated as i thought they were.  for years i was afraid of socks, but not anymore.  
thing #2: i actually really like making socks.  they are a good go-to project when you want something small to carry with you, and good for a quick finish when you are in the weeds with a large project
thing #3: of all the techniques i tried in making these four pair (each pair was made with a different method - one at a time, two at a time, toe up, square toe, pointed toe), i think i like making one sock at a time, cuff down the best.  there's something kind of wonderful about it.  and second sock syndrome doesn't get to me the way i hear about it getting to other people.  it's like a challenge :)
thing#4: the stores around me have a bit of a dearth of sock yarn, so i'll need to branch out a bit in my shopping... oh no... that sounds just terrible...
thing #5: i'm going to need to make some extra money to afford all the scrumptious sock yarns that are out there in the world.  oh my.

so, i'm now a sock knitter.  so that happened. 
since the socks though, i've had no finishes.  i've been working on a big project... it's very exciting... it's my wedding shawl!!


it's hard to tell what it's going to look like when it's finished... mostly because there are 576 stitches all bunched around that circular and so it's not really stretching out as i work on it... but i have faith that it's going to be beautiful, and make me very happy.  i started it thanksgiving weekend and i'm about 58 rows from casting off.  that might not seem like much, but with each row containing 576 stitches, we are talking about 25 minutes per round here... the center section flew by, but this outside lace section is not.  
so, i'm dying for a finish.  maybe i'll finish off another pair of socks to take the edge off. i started a pair so that i have traveling knitting... maybe i'll work on it and at least finish the first one soon.  

now for the TUSAL portion... i quit contributing to the TUSAL in july when we were moving and things got all crazy after that so i never got back to it.  but with the new year, i will commit to posting, even if my orts are exactly the same from one month to the next... and with all the wedding knitting i'm committing myself to (like a crazy person), it may very well be that my stitching takes a back seat... so here's a reminder of my ort jar for the game... 
it looks just the same now as it did back in june.  but i'm here, i'm playing, and i am ready for a new year. 

it's gonna be a busy one, folks, although hopefully not as full of drama as the last one.  i'm looking forward to a 2016 that is just about living life and embracing the day to day.  and i hope that means a lot of crafting, and hanging out with friends, and wedding planning, and work on the house.  we shall see.  happy 2016, blogger friends!!